Wednesday, August 16, 2017

HCGS Estate Records Series: Registration is Open!

With more and more estate records available on FamilySearch and Ancestry, there is no better time to learn how to use these valuable records. The "Estate Records Series" consists of three hands-on workshops. Sessions include time to research your own ancestors. For best results plan to attend all sessions. Space is limited and preregistration is required. Register online at or email

Except as noted, all sessions will be held in the 3rd floor computer lab behind the Genealogy and Local History Department at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Main Branch, 800 Vine.

Sunday, September 10, 1:30-3:30 pm"Where There's a Will, There's a Way"  
Wills often include a wealth of genealogical information by identifying married names of daughters, establishing parentage and migration routes. Learn where to find wills and how to get the most from them. Discover how to use wills as a stepping stone to further research.
Sunday, September 17, 1:30-3:30 pm, "Even is there is no Will, There's a Way"    
Learn to locate wills that have not been made available online or on microfilm. Explore the many documents created during the estate settlement process. Discover how to locate estate records even when there is no will.
Sunday, September 24, 1:30-3:30 pm, "Getting the Most from Estate Records" 
Learn how to use estate records to discover relationships, birth dates and death dates even when they are not directly stated. Understand regional and historic variations in inheritance law and their impact on women’s inheritance.

If you have any questions, contact Liz Stratton at

Submitted by Liz Stratton, Education Director, HCGS

Monday, July 17, 2017

The 2017-18 Kick-Off Event - Nationally-Recognized Speaker Rev. David McDonald - September 16th

It's never too early to think "fall." We are going to begin the new genealogical season with an event at the Kolping Center. Note: This location is different from the previously-announced location. Reservations Required.

It is our pleasure to introduce you to Rev. David McDonald. He recently held a week-long institute at GRIP (Geneaological Research Institute of Pittsburgh) on the Northwest Territories. As an ordained minister, Rev. McDonald has also developed expertise in the use of religious records for genealogical use.

9:45 – 10:00 Check-in
10:00 – 11:00 Session 1
11:00 – 11:15 Break
11:15 – 12:15 Session 2
12:15 – 1:00 Time for snacks, drinks and socialization.
1:00 – 2:15 Session 3 – including time for questions.

The following topics will be discussed:

Session 1: Primer on Religious Records and Jewish Resources Session 

Conversation and consideration of various types of religious records and their utility to genealogists as tools to advance your research. Special focus on realities and records for Jewish research.

Session 2: Catholic and Protestant Churches and Their Records 

  • Catholic records with emphasis on German Catholic churches.
  • German Protestant churches with emphasis on records likely to be accessible to advance your research.
Session 3: Migration To and Through the Old Northwest Territory.

America's westward expansion began with the Northwest Territory, which included what would become the state of Ohio. We will consider the native peoples and early explorers, migratory paths to and through the region, and the land platting systems in-play when researching the area. 

You will be able to purchase soft-dough pretzels, condiments and struedel, as well as beer, wine, liquor, soft drinks and coffee during the breaks and lunch.


The last time we met at this venue, we almost exceeded the capacity. To avoid this issue, reservations are required. There is no cost for the event. You can reserve by completing and submitting  the online form linked below.


Submitted by Kathy Reed

Program Director

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

SWOHDNA - What is Y-DNA and How Will It Help My Research?

Photo Credit: FTDNA

What: Meeting of the Southwest Ohio DNA Interest Group (SWOHDNA)
Where: MidPointe Library, West Chester
When: 7:00 - 8:45 PM, Tuesday, August 15th
Who: Doug Beezely
Why: Learn about Y-DNA and how it can help your genealogical research

We are fortunate to have among our members, Doug Beezley. He has worked with Y-DNA and manages a One-Name Study on the Beasley (and its variations) surname. It is connected to the Guild of One-Name Studies

Up until now, we have only discussed autosomal (atDNA). Y-DNA is unique to males. It is passed from father to son, and so on, with little change. We will discuss the following:

  • What is the difference between a SNP and A STR? What do they have to do with Y-DNA?
  • Where can I purchase a Y-DNA test? Is there more than one kind?
  • How do I interpret the test results?
  • Why is research still important?
  • How can I use my results? 
  • How can I use my results to contribute to a surname or regional Y-DNA group?
Come join other group members in learning about Y-DNA. This talk will also be presented as a webinar. More information on how to sign up for the webinar with be provided soon.

Submitted by:

Kathy Reed

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cincinnati's Role in the Navy during the Civil War

Our Rivermen Ancestors

I recently had lunch with Gary Johnson who has an interest in Cincinnati’s history as a naval center during the Civil War. You heard that right – we were a naval center. He has been researching this topic for quite a while and has been invited to give presentations on the topic.
I immediately became interested because I knew my gg-uncle, Robert Willis Darby, had served in the Navy at the end of the Civil War. Part of his obituary mentions his service:

R.W. Darby was in River Fighting at Close of Conflict. Robert W. Darby, 81 years old, 726 Whittier Street, last surviving member of the crew of the United States steamer Carondelet, active at the close of the Civil War, died at his home late Saturday. He had been ill several months. At the beginning of the Civil War, Mr. Darby enlisted with the One Hundred and Ninety -- first Ohio Regiment and later became a member of the crew of the Carondelet, operating on the Mississippi River. He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, Naval Veterans and Knights of Pythias. Surviving him are five daughters and three sons. Mr. Darby was born in Cincinnati.

Mr. Johnson is interested in speaking with members of the Hamilton County Genealogical Society whose ancestors may have served in the Navy or in the boatbuilding infrastructure of Cincinnati at the time. With enough information, he may write a book. Here is his letter:

I appreciate your offer to communicate with the Hamilton County Genealogical Society to see if your members have ancestors who were involved with the Navy during the Civil War or the Cincinnati area infrastructure that supported the riverboat industry.  Here are some professions who supported the industries below for which there may be some existing histories of the Cincinnati people who did the work.

Riverboat men
  • Steamboat pilots
  • Steamboat engineers
  • Steamboat company owners/operators
Supportive infrastructure for riverboats
  • Boatbuilders/carpenters
  • Foundrymen (iron or brass)
  • Machinists (like Miles Greenwood's Eagle Iron Works, etc.)
  • Boilermakers
  • Iron miners and furnace operators from the Hanging Rock iron area in Ohio
  • Coal miners, coal processors, coal tipples and suppliers who brought the coal to Cincinnati

If you have an ancestor who was a riverboat man, Navy man or worked in related fields, contact Kathy Reed, Program Director at I will get you in touch with Mr. Johnson.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

DNA Ethnicity Estimates - How Reliable Are They?

What: Southwest Ohio DNA Interest Group (SWOHDNA) Presentation
When: Tuesday, June 13th, 7:00 - 8:45 PM
Where: MidPointe Library, West Chester (in person)
Webinar Registration Link:
One of the main motivations for taking a DNA test is to find out "who we are." We wait with excitement for our results to arrive, only to be disappointed. "I know I'm German, Why doesn't it say that?" "I'm not aware of any Scandinavian ancestry. Why does it have such a high percentage?"

What's worse is that if you've tested with more than one company, the results are not comparable. How can this be? Well, there really is a reason.

Join us for a discussion of what is "real" and "not so real" about these results. Can't make it? Live out-of-town? We are simultaneously presenting this talk as a webinar. In order to participate, you must preregister using this link:
Upon registration, you will receive a confirmation.

Questions? Email Kathy Reed, Program Director at

Sunday, May 28, 2017

"Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: The Google Maps of their Day" with Jill Morelli, CG

Sanborn Fire Map
HCGS is pleased to sponsor a free webinar "Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: The Google Maps of their Day" with Jill Morelli, CG on Jun 6, 2017 8:30 PM EDT. 

Jill Morelli, CG
The Sanborn Fire Insurance maps were generated for insurance purposes between 1880 and 1930. Over 55,000 maps were made of communities large and small from New York City to Ackley, Iowa. These maps are particularly helpful for genealogists tracing a reluctant urban ancestor or for providing historical context to the lives of our ancestors. We will review the history of the maps, how to read the maps and where to find the originals. Various uses of the maps will be illustrated using case studies.

The webinar will be presented by Jill Morelli, CG. A passionate genealogist, Jill Morelli, CG(sm) lectures about her Midwestern, northern German and Scandinavian ancestors nationwide. Her lively presentations on intermediate and advanced methodologies, unique records sets, Scandinavian research and house histories convey information that is readily usable by attendees whatever heir skill level. She blogs about her experiences researching, writing and receiving her credential as a Certified Genealogist at

Please preregister for the webinar at:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Submitted by Liz Stratton, Education Director and Webinar Content Creation Committee member.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Webinars -- A New Member Benefit

Many members of the Hamilton County Genealogical Society do not live in Hamilton County.
The Board is constantly discussing ways to better serve our out-of-town members. To that end, the Board recently approved the purchase of GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar software. Over time, we hope to present several webinars on a variety of topics.

The Southwest Ohio Regional DNA Interest Group (SWOHDNA) used GoToMeeting to record a video on how to use Gedmatch to identify possible cousins. This past week we used the webinar software to record a presentation on the use of DNA to identify the biological family of an adoptee. Fourteen people from as far away as Houston signed up to watch the presentation “live.”

You can find this webinar by clicking on this link: If you choose to watch this one, try to watch it to the end. You aren't going to believe how this story evolves! It falls into the "truth is stranger than fiction" category.

We’d love to hear from your suggestions for future webinar topics and whether or not you find them valuable. Email Kathy Reed, Program Director at or click on "comments" below to post your input.

Submitted by Kathy Reed
Program Director