Coming Up

Our September meeting is Thursday the 14th at 6:30pm.  Our program will be

Finding Secret Data in FamilySearch

Presented by Kelly & Zella Grieve

How to use  Gives us the basics with tips to use more advanced levels of searching a variety of records on this well-respected genealogy website. The speaker will also explain the website’s tabs and their uses.

Our October meeting is Thursday the 12th at 6:30pm.  Our program will be

FINDING GERMAN ANCESTORS: Their Information Is Not All on the Internet

Presented by Bernard Meisner

Locating records about your family in Germany starts by determining their home town through an exhaustive search of U.S. records, as most German records are maintained at the local level (town or parish). Also, due to wars and boundary changes your family’s records may now be located in another state or country. In this presentation, Bernard will demonstrate the use of finding aids to identify where civil and church records might be located, and online resources for correspondence and reading/interpreting German printing and handwriting.

Over seventeen percent of Americans claim to have German ancestry.  Those of us who do not will find our September program applies to research in the rest of Europe, as well.

Bernard is an amateur genealogist and popular lecturer based in the Dallas/Fort Worth Bernard Meisnermetroplex. He began researching his family over 25 years ago and enjoys sharing lessons learned from those experiences, including his mistakes. Although he knew only one grandparent (his maternal grandfather) he has successfully identified all of his great-great grandparents and several triple- and quadruple-great grandparents in Ireland and Germany. He is the president and social media chair of the Mid-Cities Genealogical Society, and is a member of the National Genealogical Society and the Texas State Genealogical Society.

Bernard is retired from the National Weather Service Southern Region Headquarters where he was the Chief of the Science & Training Branch. He is certified as a consulting meteorologist by the American Meteorological Society and holds a teaching certificate from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He has taught at the Universities of Texas, Oklahoma and St. Thomas (Houston). Bernard earned a B.S. in physics/German from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in meteorology from the University of Hawaii.

Chasing Chiltons

David B. Appleton — My Favorite Ancestor 8 June 2017 CHGS Meeting

 James Chilton, at age 63, was the oldest passenger on the ship Mayflower in 1620, and he and his wife both died during that first hard winter for the Pilgrims, leaving their youngest daughter Mary, my 10th great-grandmother, an orphan in wild and unsettled New England.

James Chilton and his family had lived in and around Canterbury, and later Sandwich, in the County of Kent, England, for some years in the late 16th and very early 17th Centuries before they moved to Leiden in The Netherlands and then in 1620 boarded the Mayflower to voyage to New England.

 The earliest record I have found so far which names James Chilton is a reference to “Chylton, James, tailor” who was made a Freeman by Gift of the City of Canterbury in 1583.

With that as background on James Chilton, my wife and I took an opportunity in 2014 to spend a full day in Kent, England, “chasing Chiltons,” where we visited the three parish churches, two in Canterbury and one in Sandwich, where we know James Chilton and his family spent time: St. Paul’s Without the Walls, Canterbury; St. Martin’s, Canterbury; and St. Peter’s, Sandwich.


St. Paul’s Without the Walls, Canterbury, Kent

We find several parish record entries of James Chilton’s children being baptized at St. Paul’s:

Isabella, the daughter of James Chilton, baptized 15 Jan 1586/87

Jane, the daughter of James Chilton, baptized 08 Jun 1589

Ingle, the daughter of James Chilton, baptized 29 Apr 1599

Chiltons Fig 1.1

St. Paul’s Without the Walls (that is, outside the walled city of Canterbury) is believed to have been built as a chapel by the nearby St. Augustine’s Abbey for local people and overseen by the monks of the Abbey as a place of worship and instruction.

In the late 13th century the church was enlarged eastwards creating the space now occupied by the organ (built in 1901).

Chiltons Fig 1.2

The church has been enlarged again, southward in 1320, and further extended and refurbished in the mid-19th century when the tower was rebuilt and a third aisle created southward, but certainly the oldest portions of the church we see today would have been familiar to James Chilton and his wife.

There are two other entries in the parish records which may relate to the family of James Chilton:

Richard Chilton, baptized 27 Jan 1582/83

Joel Chilton, baptized 16 Aug 1584

These baptisms were performed in years when such entries did not include the father’s name. The parish records around these years is inconsistent: in some years, the father’s name is included; in other years, it is not, apparently at the whim of the recorder.

St. Martin’s, Canterbury, Kent

The following entries are found in the parish records for children of James Chilton:

Joel, the son of James Chilton, buried 02 Nov 1593

Mary, the daughter of James Chilton, buried 23 Nov 1593

Elizabeth, the daughter of James Chilton, baptized 14 Jul 1594

James, the son of James Chilton, baptized 22 Aug 1596

 The sign near the entrance to the grounds of St. Martin’s Church (named for St. Martin of Tours) states it is the oldest church in continuous use in England, and notes the days and times when services are still held there. It goes on to tell us that about the year 580 King Æthelberht of Kent gave his Christian bride, Bertha, the daughter of Charbert, King of the Franks, and a Christian, a place for worship. It was originally a building of Roman origin, and the remains of the older Roman building can still be seen in the walls of the chancel.

 In 597, Pope Gregory sent St. Augustine and forty monks to lead a Christian mission in England. Ethelbert allowed them to worship here, and they extended the chapel to include the great west wall. “Here they first began to assemble, to sing the psalms, to pray, to celebrate mass, to preach and to baptize, until the king was converted to the faith and gave them greater freedom to preach and to build and restore churches everywhere.” (Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, 731 A.D.). Eventually Æthelberht was baptized, and Augustine went on to build the Abbey and Cathedral and to become Canterbury’s first Archbishop. At that time, St. Martin’s lost its prestige but retains its historical primacy.

Chiltons Fig 2.1

The great west wall and the roof of the nave dates to the 14th Century, though some of the roof beams have had to be replaced since then.

Chiltons Fig 2.2

 Of the baptismal font in the church, the base is newer (it probably dates to the 19th Century), but the two lower tiers and the rim are believed to be of Saxon origin, and the higher tier of arches, Norman (since the Normans required higher fonts in their churches). This is the font where James Chilton and his wife stood when their children Elizabeth and James were baptized.

Chiltons Fig 2.3

St. Peter’s, Sandwich, Kent

The following entries are found in the parish records for children of James Chilton:

Christian, daughter of James Chilton, baptized 26 Jul 1601

James, son of James Chilton, baptized 11 Sep 1603

Mary, daughter of James Chilton, and my 10th great grandmother, baptized 31 May 1607

There has been a church on the site of St. Peter’s in Sandwich since about 1100. That early Norman church was probably destroyed in 1216, when Sandwich was attacked by the French during the First Barons’ War (1215-1217), when a group of rebellious major landowners (barons), supported by a French army under the future Louis VIII, made war on King John of England for his refusal to abide by the Magna Carta.

Chiltons Fig 3.1

The church was rebuilt a little later in the 13th century, when it consisted of a central nave with north and south aisles, a tower, and a chancel. In the 14th century the north aisle was widened and raised in height, and a chantry chapel was built at the east end of the south aisle. Much of the church today thus dates to the 13th and 14th centuries.


There remains on display in the church a 17th century sounding board, a wooden canopy which hung horizontally over the pulpit to direct the words of the officiating priest out to the congregation in these days before electrical amplification. Without a more specific date, I cannot say if this sounding board was installed at the time the Chiltons attended the parish, or if it is a replacement for the one that was in use when they were there.

Chiltons Fig 3.3

 It was a fun and informative journey, following the moves of James Chilton and his family through three parishes in two cities in Kent, England. The opportunity to visit these places, to “walk in their footsteps” and to learn first-hand a little bit about the lives of this – my – Pilgrim family, has heightened the emotional connection to these places where they lived and worked, and where some of their children were born and buried.

 And yet, the history of these places both precedes and succeeds the Chiltons’ time there, with connections as distant as St. Augustine and more recently, to a descendant from across the ocean “chasing Chiltons.”

by David B. Appleton

Genealogy Detectives Track Down Cedar Hill Tornado Details

Thank you to the Dallas Morning News and Loyd for allowing us to post this on our site

A Historical marker sits at the site believed to be the final resting place for some of the nine victims of a tornado that struck Cedar Hill in 1856


Dallas Morning News Staff Writer

Published: 04 March 2016 04:14 PM

Updated: 04 March 2016 04:26 PM

The tornado of 1856 still holds Cedar Hill in its grip. Perhaps not much is known about it outside the city limits, but it continues to come up in regular conversations with anyone who has lived in Cedar Hill for a decent length of time.

In its May 10, 1856 issue, the Dallas Herald “received minute particulars of the frightful tornado that recently carried desolation and death to the village of Cedar Hill, and neighborhood.”

The delivery of the news wasn’t instantaneous back then, so Herald readers were just finding out about the twister, which destroyed Cedar Hill on April 29, 1856.

Newspaper details of the time are sketchy and leave out major details that a modern-day reporter wouldn’t dare miss. Very few first names of victims are given. Reports state that only one building was left standing, but no information is provided about how many buildings were there to begin with.

And in comparing the Cedar Hill tornado with others like it, the Herald likens it to “The tornado at Natchez many years ago, and that which visited Vicksburg some eight or ten years since, …”

No journalist today would get away with saying “some eight or ten years since” or “many years ago” when giving a date.

These missing details have vexed residents, and Dave and Geri Klauck of the Cedar Hill Genealogical Society were enlisted to find out more about the particulars of that April afternoon in which nine people were killed and 12 wounded in the 10-year-old town of about 400 residents.

The two will present their findings in a 7 p.m. meeting March 14 sponsored by the Cedar Hill Museum of History.

“All that was known was the first name of one person,” Dave Klauck said. He and his wife have written a book, Gone with the Wind, the 1856 Cedar Hill Tornado, in which many of the details have been fleshed out.

A team of six genealogists did the research, each assigned to track down a victim.

“Geri loves a puzzle,” Dave said. “If you don’t want to be found, don’t get her on your case.”

The team dug into its resources, and Dave is thankful for the abundance of tools the group found online to help them:; the University of North Texas’ Portal to Texas, operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Dallas County tax rolls, Dallas Public Library archives and – yes – Google.

“The babies’ names are still unknown, unless we come across church records, baptismal records or birth certificates,” Dave said.

But the group managed to find complete names for all the adults except one – a victim of a repugnant period of U.S. history. One “Negro woman” found among the dead likely was one of tornado fatality James L. Berry’s slaves, according to the team’s findings.

Some of the dead are believed to be buried in what is known as Crawford’s Tornado Graveyard, which was granted a Texas Historical Marker in 2012.

Dave also puts the number of buildings in the town back then at about a dozen. A map that he recreated showing the path of the tornado and the probable location of Cedar Hill’s buildings is in the Zula B. Wylie Library, he said.

The team’s research also uncovered details about a scandalous event after the tornado that is rendered in the sketchiest of details in the Herald.

The newspaper states that, “reports are in circulation, implicating the conduct of a prominent individual near Cedar Hill, in inhumane disrespect for the dead, and a refusal of that hospitality to the distressed that would spring spontaneously from every generous heart. We have suppressed the facts, as given us by a correspondent, and the name of the individual implicated, because it is an exhibition of human nature in a form so debased and ignoble that we are unwilling to believe it without further evidence. We wish to give him an opportunity of clearing himself of the imputation.”

Near as he can figure it, Dave Klauck believes this refers to Robert Crawford, a citizen of some renown who apparently turned back some people who wanted to store some of the bodies in his home to clean them up for burial.

“Crawford turned them away because he had some company and a lot of injured people already at his home,” Dave said. “He may not have made many friends on his way out of town.”

Be that as it may, the cemetery bears his name, probably because he deeded the land for it.


Genealogy Basics

It Begins with You

  • Start with yourself and work back in time
  • Ask family members for information, artifacts and family stories
  • Identify your immediate family members—mother, father, siblings and grandparents
  • Record full names, nick names and the maiden names of the women
  • Record the date and place of birth, death and marriage
  • Include the name(s) of spouse(s)
  • Record Your Data and Sources

Record Your Data

  • Record the data you collect on a Family Group Sheet
  • Use international style for dates—13 Aug 2016
  • First, the Wife & Her Partents
  • Next, the Husband & His Parents
  • Then, the Kids
  • Site your Sources


A Family Group Sheet Uniquely Identifies  a Family as Yours


 Tree Style Ancestral Chart


 Ancestral Chart – Vertical


Resources Other Than Your Family

  • Birth, marriage, death & cemetery records
  • Census records
  • Social Security records
  • Newspapers & city directories
  • Land records
  • Tax records
  • Probate records

Online Family Trees

  • They are good for finding clues, not data
  • Are notorious for not citing sources
  • Data without sources are not facts, they’re just stories
  • Check carefully against your family group data
  • They are notorious for bad research
  • Their sources are NOT your sources—check their sources for validity
  • ALWAYS look a gift horse in the mouth

Save Your Data on Your Computer

  • Family Search—Free online Family Tree
  • Family Tree Maker—About $40 from Amazon
  • Ancestry—By subscription

Join a Genealogical Society

  • Learn more about genealogy at every meeting
  • Personalized help from fellow members
  • Great conversations!
  • The Cedar Hill Genealogical Society
    • Always free admission
    • Meets the second Thursday of each month
    • 7:00pm; 6:30pm to socialize and snack
    • At the Zula B Wylie Library in Cedar Hill

from the Researching Your Family History on the Internet computer class

Can A Genealogist Accept As Face Value Copies Of Original Records?

Can a digitized or microfilmed copy of an original record be accepted as same as the original record?  Some may say “yes” and others may say “no.”

Locating original records is the aim in researching family ancestors, and certainly digitizing or microfilming the original records can make them available to a lot more people through the internet.

However, eliminating context, may affect the correctness of the information that the original images contain.

Genealogists need to be careful of possible errors and omissions in record images, and should analyze their format and source before accepting it as face value.  Further, it is very important to locate more than one source of information.  An excellent genealogist always secures at least two if not three sources on a particular fact.  Records are not always what they appear.  It is worth the effort and time to dig deeper to either confirm or disapprove the item.

Take the time to research the place and time.  Study the records in historical context. This procedure often uncovers information that helps in understanding the records even if those sources do not include a family’s name.

By Wes Quandt, Cedar Hill Genealogical Society

My Parents Were Inmates

In the 1930 Census my parents are shown as inmates.  A fact about my parents I would never have known if I had not been researching my family.  But it’s not as bad as it may sound.  My parents were both orphans and grew up in Buckner Orphans Home in Dallas.  In the 1930 Census, they, along with all the other orphans, were listed as inmates instead of orphans.

You just never know what you may learn when you start researching your family.  You’re likely to learn some surprising things, and probably, you will go places and do things you would never have thought you would do.

When you start researching your family you may even go to such places as Monkstown or Saratoga, Texas.  You might even venture out of Texas to exotic places like Poteau, Oklahoma or Buena Vista, Georgia.  In the process you will likely visit numerous cemeteries and rummage through old records in courthouses.

Surprisingly, family research has a way of transforming all these activities into interesting adventures.  For example, in an effort to save a cemetery in Monkstown, Texas, I had to go to the courthouse in Bonham, the county seat, to see a judge who in turn got the sheriff after a property owner that claimed he owned the land of the cemetery.  The cemetery was saved and cleaned up, but the property owner doesn’t speak to me anymore.

Maybe you’re thinking you can do all your family research in the comfort of your home surfing on the Internet, and possibly submitting your DNA to connect with someone that can tell you about your family.  All this technology is helpful, but this too is likely to develop into more genealogical adventures.

My father entered Buckner Orphans Home at the age of eight years old.  He barely knew his father and never mentioned his grandfather.  By researching the census and other records on the internet, I thought I had figured out who my father’s grandfather was, but I wasn’t sure.  So I submitted my y-DNA and matched a man in Georgia who turned out to be a distant cousin.  With his help I was able to determine that my father’s grandfather had come to Texas after the Civil War and I located his grave in Milford, Texas, which is a little south of Waxahachie.  I was surprised to find that the headstone said he was a doctor.  But guess what?  When he came to Texas he left behind a family in Georgia and came to Texas with the younger sister of his wife back in Georgia.  When I contacted his descendants in Georgia, they were really surprised because they had been told he died in the Civil War.

Tags Orphan, Inmate, Family stories, Census

Why do Genealogy?

You want to find out who your ancestors are and possibly get back to the “old country”.

You are curious about family members whose names pop up in family stories.

Members of your family are prone to certain medical conditions and you would like to track the history of this condition as it has traveled through your family.

You are a history buff and genealogy, a natural extension of this past-time allows you to discover the history of your family.

You enjoy researching anything, so why not your family!

You enjoy talking to and spending time with people who do genealogy.

You think DNA testing is cool!

You like to travel especially to conferences, so why not to those sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies, National Genealogical Society & Texas State Genealogical Society, which have conferences every year in different locations.

You find yourself wandering through cemeteries, records offices, court houses and libraries, searching for a reason transcribe some data.

You want to find those skeletons in your family’s closet.

Geri Klauck Cedar Hill Genealogical Society

Genealogy Posts

Old Place at Penn Farm
Old Place at Penn Farm built in the 1860s.  Many Penn Farm buildings are restored and on display at Cedar Hill State Park
Posts of genealogy articles to help you with your family research.  Use the tags above to find locate articles of interest.  If you would like to add or comment about an article, please leave a comment.  Use the “Contact Us” page to email suggestions for new articles, improve post ones or to contribute and post, yourself.  

How Did You Find All That Stuff?

Cedar Hill, TX.  I received that question from a friend after he thanked me profusely for the 200-page family history I’d just handed him.  I’ll have to admit, it was quite impressive, especially for a family that I had known nothing about when I started.

The family research is much easier and quicker than before the internet with and  You can find a lot on the internet, but not everything, yet.  The census records are a good start, but they provide little more than names and approximate birth, marriage and death dates.  Online indexes and records can give you specific information, but they’re often not available for many of your ancestors and their descendants.  Try the public library and internet first, but eventually you’re going to have to go to courthouses to look at actual records.  None is sure to tell you everything you want.  You need to try them all.  For starters, check land records, probate files, tax rolls, vital records, and fellow genealogists.

Land Records: At the courthouse find your ancestor in the “grantor” and “grantee” indexes, and then go to the book and page indicated.  You’ll find a description of the property.  Numerous sites on the internet will tell you how to interpret property descriptions.  You’ll learn where they lived.  Some unexpected findings: a probate final decree that included a transcription of third (three greats) great-grandpa’s will.  It included a list of the heirs confirming my previous research!  Great-grandpa’s given name was John Adam Klauck.  The only time he used his full name was when he bought the homestead land from the US land Office.  He went by Adam Klauck in all other matters.  That had caused me problems identifying him.  Apparently it was a problem for the probate judge, too as nearby in the deed book was an affidavit sworn by his son Adam.  This affidavit stated that John Adam Klauck and Adam Klauck was the same person.  Problem solved!

Probate Records: These records can be a good look at the life of your ancestor.  In Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the courthouse had these files.  My second great-grandpa had 13 children.  Several had died before he did, so I didn’t know whom their children were or where they lived.  One son had married, had two sons and died, all in the 1890s.  His widow had remarried and her sons took her new surname.  His family avoided the censuses entirely!  The file listed their first and new last names among the heirs.  Another son’s widow and kids moved to another state.  That gave me just the clue I needed to track them down.

Tax Rolls:  Our ancestors may not have done much else noteworthy, but they did pay taxes, and if they did, there’s a record.  Texas County tax rolls are online and searchable on  In other states, you may have to visit the county courthouse.  In one line, you see how much land they owned, where it was, the number and value of horses, cattle sheep, hogs, money out on loan, merchandise on hand and miscellaneous.  It often had a description of the “miscellaneous.”

Vital Records:  While at the courthouse, be sure to look at the actual death certificate of your ancestors.  The name of the informant is often a married daughter.  The cause of death can lead to interesting discoveries.  My great grandpa died at age 86 of shock from fractures incurred while pushing a wood cart up a driveway.  That led me to the microfilms of the local paper—the story was front-page news!  Another death certificate of a distant cousin indicated he died in 1906 when struck by lightning at a baseball park.  That story showed up in internet newspaper archives across the Midwest!

Fellow Genealogists:  Genealogists love to talk about how they solved their toughest problems.  You can learn a lot by listening to their stories and asking questions.  The best place to find genealogists is by attending genealogical society meetings.  The meetings usually have a speaker making a presentation on some facet of genealogical research.  You can learn even more from conversing with attendees before and after the meeting.


How do you know which of these to use?  Use every resource you can.  In the examples I gave, I found what I was looking for, plus the unexpected.  That’s the fun part!  If you can’t get to the courthouse in Dubuque, Iowa, for example, find a friend or relative who lives there to do so for you.  The information you’ll collect will give you and the reader of your family history important insight into the life and times of your ancestors.  After all, our ancestors are a part of who we are.

You can learn about many other places to look for “all that stuff” at our society’s next meeting.  It is at 7:00pm, Thursday, June 13 at the Zula B. Wylie Library, 225 Cedar Street.  For the months of June and July, the meetings will be workshops to help individuals with their family research.  We will have experienced genealogists on hand to work one-on-one with you.

Dave Klauck, Cedar Hill Genealogical Society


Start Writing


You probably had a great time getting together with family and friends these past holidays: exchanging family stories, updating on the latest happenings of family members, and making some great memories.  As an amateur genealogist and family historian, I hope you are taking the time to record these stories on paper—or on your computer—before you forget them.

While working in the genealogical society’s booth at Cedar Hill Country Day, I met many young families that were quite interested in learning their family history, but they admitted not having the time to do the research.  I told them that I understood, but urged them to talk to their parents and grandparents while they were still alive to get their stories about growing up and what life was like back in the “old days”.  I told them that when we finally do have the time, Grandpa and Grandma would likely be gone.  I can’t tell you the number of times someone has told me “I wish I had talked to Grandpa about that while he was still alive!”

I am among the lucky ones.  My mother is a vigorous 88 years old.  I frequently ask her about the “old days”.  She’s told me about life on a 1920s dairy farm: living with outdoor plumbing, electricity in the early days of its adoption, how she became the first girl in her family to attend high school—she stamped her feet and insisted—food preservation and storage, and much more.  I made notes while on the phone and typed up the story while it was still fresh in my mind.  Don’t have a parent or grandparent to provide information?  Write about your “old days”.  If you have children under 21, they probably don’t know what an LP record is—they soon may not know what a CD is!  When they were young cell phones were just beginning to come into use and not many people had home computers.  You can provide that link to the past by writing about all of those things.

Some tips: sharing our stories in writing is something that is easy to put off until we know exactly what we are going to say and how we are going to say it—a sure way that it will never be written.  Do as the professionals do.  Set aside a specific time to do it—I did my writing on Friday afternoons—writing is surprisingly hard work so you have to have some discipline about it.  Pick a subject and start writing.  Just write, don’t stop to correct it and make it pretty.  Get it all written before going back to proof it.  The important thing is to get your story on paper.  Word processors are great for us less than gifted writers.  Many check spelling, grammar, punctuation and style.  They all let you insert additional words and move things around without having to retype them.  You can even include scanned pictures in your stories.  They work very well for those of us who can’t type.

As you write, you will think of other subjects to write about.  Write those story ideas down before you forget them and then write about them next session.  Whatever you do, keep writing.  Even if you never get around to researching your family’s history, you’ll have left behind a rich legacy for the person who finally does tell your family’s story.  Your descendants born and yet unborn will thank you for it.

By Dave Klauck, Cedar Hill Genealogical Society