Thursday, June 16, 2011

Finally–The Burial Site of Roland Sisson

We spent much of last summer trying to find the burial site of Roland and Elizabeth Wright Sisson, so it was especially gratifying to find ourselves standing at their graves this evening.  Trying to find the abandoned “Duxx” Cemetery (as it was erroneously listed in an online database) was my first hurdle (it’s actually “Duff” Cemetery), USGS had it mapped to the east side of Forestville State Park – an area of winding dirt roads for the most part, with many dead-ends, like a maze.  We located the alleged site of the cemetery, only to find plowed field on one side of the road, and thick forest on the other side. has a database of Civil War veteran headstones, and Roland was listed.  However, the cemetery he was supposedly buried in was “Spring Grove Cemetery” at Spring Grove, Minnesota, in the same county as Duff Cemetery.  However, to my knowledge, there is no “Spring Grove Cemetery,” although there are cemeteries very nearby.  We canvassed them last summer, to no avail.  With no additional leads, we gave up.
Over the winter, I noticed Duff Cemetery listed on Find-A-Grave, complete with a map, and an overview picture of the cemetery!  What a long, long winter it was!  Tonight, we took a drive to Fillmore county, and easily found the cemetery, which is about 3-4 miles SE of Spring Grove.  What a welcome sight.

The cemetery was very nicely kept, as is evident by the photo, with a handful of burials.  It didn’t take long to find what we’d been looking for:
IMG_8101               IMG_8104

1               2
Roland and Elizabeth were both natives of New York, perhaps coming to Minnesota by way of Iowa.  Roland served in the Civil War for nearly three years.  They were the parents of ten children.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Using OneNote as a Research Tool

In a recent ProGen discussion group I attended, someone mentioned the usefulness of a “notebook” program for doing research, specifically taking notes or abstracting documents.  This piqued my curiosity, and already having OneNote*, a notebook program in the Microsoft Office collection installed on my computer, I decided to investigate it further.
There are many tutorials for OneNote on the internet, so I’ll skip the “how-tos,” except to say it was a very intuitive program, and I needed very little formal help to get my first notebook up and running.
I do a fair amount of internet genealogy research, so my bookmarks are of considerable importance to me.  I also use different browsers, and oftentimes run them in a sandbox when I’m unsure of the trustworthiness of any particular website.  Of course, when you bookmark a website in one browser, you have to bookmark it in any other browsers you use; also, bookmarking a site in a sandboxed browser doesn’t bookmark it in an un-sandboxed version of the same browser, as I learned the hard way.  As a result, it was difficult to keep track of which websites I might need for research.  To complicate the matter further, I recently got a new computer, and in the process of transferring files, my research bookmarks disappeared.
Enter OneNote… for those unfamiliar with it, it is the digital version of those handy 3 or 5 subject notebooks we all used in high school, except it’s not limited to 5 tabbed sections.   The notebook can be stored locally, on your network, or on the internet, making it available from your laptop, if you’re traveling, as long as you have internet access.   Your notebook can also be exported as a .pdf file.
After opening the program, I created a notebook which I named “Genealogy Research”, and started making tabbed sections for each area of research I might need to do – General Research, Military, Newspapers, Books, Resources, Miscellaneous, Community (message boards, etc.), Death, Burial, Land Records, Maps, Photos, Immigration, Families, etc.  Each of these tabbed sections holds links for the websites I might need while doing my research.
So far, I’ve found it extremely handy to have my Research Notebook open while I’m working.  When discovering I need a particular piece of information, clicking on the appropriate tab to see what databases are available, and then having the link right there is making the most of my research time.  In addition, when I stumble upon a new link, I can easily add it to the appropriate section or sections.
I have not fully explored all that OneNote can do, but looking at a few of its capabilities, I can see this being a useful tool for more than organizing bookmarks.  One of the next applications I’ll be looking at is its usefulness for organizing data on the families I’m researching.  Besides adding hyperlinks to the pages, you can add photos, freehand draw or write, etc.   Perhaps a “Brickwalls” notebook is next?  I am envisioning a section for each of my “brickwalls” with notations about where I’ve looked, what I’ve found, what I know, copies of documents I have, etc.; this is data I’d love to have all in one place, with my thoughts recorded there as well.
As I mentioned, OneNote was included in my software package on my new computer, but there are numerous other Notebook applications available for download, either for a fee, or free.  If you haven’t investigated using a notebook program for genealogy work, it might be worth looking into. 

*I have no connection to Microsoft, except being an end-user.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Forebear Friday – Hans Seemann

Hans Seemann, along with his brother Detleff, were the first of their family to leave Germany bound for the United States.  Hans was the son of John Henry and Maria Seemann, and born 23 Jan 1825 in Schleswig-Holstein. 
The brothers settled in Clinton county, Iowa, sending for their parents, siblings, and fiancées, who were sisters, the following year.  They all lived together for several years, until each of the brothers obtained his own farm and set out on their own. 
Hans and Maria raised a family of nine, seven of whom lived to adulthood: John, Anna Maria, Andrew, Henry, Fred, Carl, and Will.  Four of their sons became physicians, and practiced medicine throughout the upper midwest.

In 1884, Hans and Maria sold their farm in Clinton county, and purchased another in Union county, South Dakota.  On 05 Sep 1893, while visiting his son Fred in Dubuque, Iowa, Hans became ill, and died at Finley Hospital of pleurisy, complicated by lung cancer.  After his death, Maria made her home among her children, passing away while at the home of her son Carl in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Both Hans and Maria are buried at Riverside Cemetery, rural Akron, Plymouth co., Iowa, which was just across the state line from their South Dakota farm.

Above: The family of Hans and Maria Seemann, taken at the farm in South Dakota, when all of the kids came home for their father’s funeral.