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We have added new content to our Research Resources.

DuPage Families is a collection of cemetery readings and tombstone photographs.  Individuals are connected to families as that information is available.  Additional information on the individuals and families may be added at anytime. 

 You can search local cemeteries, individuals, and surnames. 

The project is virtually limitless in scope and growth potential.  If you have questions or comments, or would like to volunteer to help with data collection and/or entry, please contact Carolee, the DCGS DuPage Families Administrator at



From the DCGS Newsletter [SEPTEMBER 2013 – VOLUME 5 – ISSUE 4]

We encourage our members to volunteer to make us the best we can be.  Here are just two opportunities for you to consider.

DCGS Volunteer Opportunities

Then and Now columnist needed for The Review:

Do you like history?  Do you have a digital camera?  There is an opening for you to resume the Then and Now column four times a year for the quarterly issues of The Review.  All it requires is finding a historic location or building in DuPage County, finding an old photo of it, and taking a digital photo as it looks now.  A brief write-up connects the two photos.

Contact Luanne Newman,, to offer your services.

Library Research Aid

There are volunteers for DCGS that put their hard-earned educations in genealogy to good use to help others each week.  These volunteers give two hours each week on Thursday evening to provide guidance and suggestions for further research to any who come to the Genealogy Section of the Wheaton Public Library.  They are the ambassadors and unsung heroes of DCGS to many new (and not so new) family historians in DuPage County.

The DCGS members who are long-time volunteers are: Pat Sengstock, Bill Hendron, Helen Gbala, Bruce Timms, Mary Buckley, and Nancy Ristau.  We have two substitutes should one of our volunteers need to cancel: Ginny Christensen and Anne Snell.

We are always looking for new volunteers and two have stepped forward recently: Charles Matze and Barbara Rasins.  If you are a member of DCGS and would like to help others with their research, there are openings on Thursday evenings between 7:00 and 9:00 pm at the Wheaton Public Library.

Members who would like to join the team can contact the Society’s librarian/historian Nancy Ristau at

Join DuPage County (IL) Genealogical Society in indexing the 1940 U.S. Federal Census!

Step 1: Go to:

Step 2: Click GET STARTED from the menu at the top.

Step 3: Download and install the Indexing Software

Step 4: Register for a FamilySearch account, if you don’t already have one.

Step 5: Select Another group, then select DuPage County (IL) Genealogical Society from the dropdown list.

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November Speaker

Join us November 16, 2011 at the Wheaton Public Library to hear Discovering the Naperville Family History Center.
This presentation will include what you can do before you visit and tips on searching the Family History Library catalog. Find out why you may want to join the patron’s mailing list and Yahoo groups. Attention will be given to Chicago ancestor resources at the Center.

The meeting will be held at the library’s lower level meeting room. The library is located at 225 N. Cross Street, Wheaton.

See you there!

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This post was written by guest blogger Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana.

I attended the DuPage County Genealogical Society’s October Meeting last night, along with Jennifer Holik-Urban and Terri O’Connell. Jen suggested I go because Thomas MacEntee was providing the program, and since I was born and raised in Elmhurst, I thought it’d be a good idea to check out the group. The meeting was held in the Wheaton Public Library; it’s a large and lovely building and the meeting space was equally large and comfortable (don’t know what brand of chairs they used, but boy, were they cushy!) They provided coffee and some great home-made cookies and such…very yummy!

Being relatively new to the Genealogy community, I really didn’t know about Thomas MacEntee, other than the fact he is the creator of the GeneaBloggers website, and I follow him on Twitter. Thomas presented: Social Networking: New Horizons for Genealogists “the basics of blogging, Twitter, Facebook, wikis and more in an easy-to-follow session that cuts through all the hype and the lingo.”

Wow. Having worked with technology in the past, I know how confounding it can be. Thomas has a way of breaking it down and clearly and concisely explaining how it works and the benefits it can create for both amateur and Professional Genealogists. He provided simple definitions of the key terms in utilizing Social Media/Social Networking; broke down how to use each of the major platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, defined and explained blogging and even covered wikis and how the information there can benefit genealogical researchers.

The audience, of about 25, was definitely engaged with Thomas and I believe that his open style provided a level of comfort often missing in programs run by technology people. Our little group, augmented by Pat Biallas and her husband, helped Thomas with examples of tweets and blogs, as well as commenting on what he was presenting.  The audience asked cogent questions and Thomas’s ability to quickly answer with informed material made the presentation complete.

If you have not been on the Geneablogger site, I highly recommend it. Thomas has put together a laundry list of tools to use to leverage both social media and your genealogical research. Also, don’t forget to check out the DuPage County Genealogical Society’s meetings; we felt very welcome and I’m looking forward to becoming a member of the group.

You can find out more about Thomas McEntee and the programs he’s presenting at his website, High Definition Genealogy ( You can find the latest information on Thomas’s upcoming presentations, including the one he’s doing for the Chicago Genealogical Society on November 5, 2011 at the Newberry Library at 1:30 p.m. You can do a little research AND hear a great presentation!!  What a great way to spend a day.

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Join us on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 for our next general meeting. Come hear Thomas MacEntee talk about Social Networking: New Horizons for Genealogists.

Thousands of genealogists and family historians have discovered new ways to expand and improve their genealogy endeavors using social networking, also called social media networking. Learn the basics of blogging, Twitter, FaceBook, wikis and more in an easy-to-follow session that cuts through all the hype and lingo.”

The meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 19 at 7:00 p.m. at the Wheaton Public Library.

Hope to see you there!

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Guest blog post by Patricia Desmond Biallas

“I LOVE the Civil War! It was wonderful! Fabulous!”

Those were the opening remarks of Craig Pfannkuche at a recent program co-sponsored by the DuPage County Historical Museum and the DuPage County Genealogical Society.  The program, entitled  “Using Non-Federal Civil War Records in Family History Research,” was held last week at the Wheaton museum.

Pfannkuche, a former high school teacher who taught history and anthropology for 30 years, has continued to put his curiosity, research skills, and experience as an educator to good use since his retirement. In addition to lecturing on family history topics, he’s served as Genealogical Archivist for the Chicago and Northwestern Railway, and board member for both the McHenry County Genealogical Society and Chicago Genealogical Society.

Aptly dressed in a navy jacket and gray slacks, the speaker, who noted that he had ancestors serving on both sides of the war, made history come alive for those in attendance with his energy, enthusiasm and humorous anecdotes.

“Lots of records were kept by the federal government, states and counties, and the Quartermaster corps just churned them out—all to our benefit,” he told his audience of genealogists.

“Early on,” he explained, “young men signed up in droves for the ‘Adventure of a Lifetime.’ Friends, brothers, neighbors and classmates often joined up together.

For the most part though, the war was fought by draftees, and regiments were raised by the states which each had a quota. That created records.”

“Counties having trouble meeting their quotas,” Pfannkuche explained, “offered cash bounties to entice volunteers to join, and many young men went from county to county enlisting wherever a bounty was paid. They’d sign up, collect their bounty, and run off to another county to do it all over again.  That created more records.”

And draftees with the money who didn’t want to go to war, could hire themselves a substitute to take their place for $300. That created records too,” he continued.

While Pfannkuche noted that pension files and military service records may be found through the National Archives, he also encouraged researchers to investigate other federal records: the OR (Official Record of the Union and Confederate Armies in the Civil War), the ORN (Official Record of the Union and Confederate Navies in the Civil War, and the Roll of Honor: 1865-1923, which contains the official record of veterans’ burial places during those years.

But Pfannkuche also promoted checking county and state records as well when searching for a Civil War ancestor. “Most states have Adjutant Generals. Write to the Adjutant General of the state where your ancestor was discharged from. You may be told that  they’ve transferred their records to the state archives, but contact them anyway—maybe not all the records have been transferred.”

For those whose ancestors were in the Confederate Army, Pfannkuche suggested contacting the United Daughters of the Confederacy whose records are in Austin, TX.

But while the starting point for most Civil War researchers is often via keyboard, mouse, and the internet through genealogy and government websites, Pfannkuche encouraged his listeners to go much further than that.

There’s a treasure trove of resources beyond traditional federal records for learning more about those who played a part in one of the most significant chapter’s of our nation’s history, he professed.

“Don’t stop after seeking pension files and military records from traditional sources like the National Archives or state muster rolls. While they may provide the raw data—facts and figures—they don’t give the full story. There ARE other avenues to pursue in search of your Civil War ancestor,” he insisted.

His suggestions?

“GO! GO to the county where your ancestor served.  VISIT the area where your ancestor fought….where he was mustered in, or out.  If he fought at Shiloh, go to Shiloh!”

“Visit the local museums,” he encouraged. “Talk to the curators. Ask if they have  local regimental histories from the Civil War.  Read the diaries, journals and letters of soldiers from areas where your ancestor served. Read the historic newspapers of the day—in person, if possible—not all historical newspapers are online,” he pointed out.

“Examine the photo collections. Look at the artifacts. Review local histories that can’t be found in any other library or museum,” Pfannkuche continued. “Visit the local cemeteries, look at the monuments, examine the headstones. Most of these kinds of things aren’t indexed! You just won’t find them online.”

The program was one in a series of educational lectures being held at the DuPage County Historical Museum in recognition of the Civil War’s Sesquicentennial. Remaining programs include: Disease, Wounds, Hospitals and Hygiene: The Medical Side of the Civil War (October 8 from 1-2 pm); and Civil War Nurse Clara Barton (October 15, 11-2 pm).

An exhibit “DuPage County and the Civil War: A Local Perspective will also run at the museum through September 2012. Museum hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.  For more information about the programs or exhibit call (630) 510-4956.



Patricia Desmond Biallas, is a budding genealogist who began researching her family history two years ago. She is very much looking forward to her first research trip next week to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. where she hopes to obtain military records of her great-grandfather, William Donar, who served in both the 8th Regiment Illinois Infantry in 1861, and the 25th Regiment New York Infantry National Guard in 1862.

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*** I originally posted this on my Generations site last week after a discussion on Twitter about genealogical societies and distance members. What are your thoughts? Please share the post and comment below. Thanks! ~Jennifer Holik-Urban


At FGS 2011 last week I had a conversation with a President of a Genealogical Society in SW Missouri about research, the society’s benefits, etc. I had tried to meet this person in May when I spent the month down in SW Missouri but we were unable to meet up.

He suggested I join the society. That had been on my mind for a while. Looking at their membership benefits this morning I was a little shocked. $28 for an individual and this does not include a quarterly. The other benefits are GREAT for local members though. Sadly I am not one of them. The quarterly is a separate subscription for $15 a year.

Now, let me say I was born in Chicago but spent many years growing up in SW Missouri. My roots are not there. I have done a lot of pro-bono research for a good friend and one of his relatives by marriage because they have roots in the state and I have been able to look at records my family just can’t provide. My Bohemian ancestors came off the boat and settled in Chicago after 1880 and prior to 1925. I have no Civil War history or anything before that. This friend’s research lets me explore that.

So why would I want to join this society? Because number one, I want to expand my business into Missouri more. My parents still live down there so I have a free place to stay. Good for clients who need research done near where my parents live – the hotel (and some meal) expense is gone from their bill.

Number two, I enjoy a challenge and exploring new repositories and records. Every family’s story is different and I learn so much doing work for others.

Number three, because I want to network and make solid contacts with other researchers and repositories in that area. Again, I want to expand my business down there and build a reputation. I also want to learn things from those researchers because some of my Chicago clients have families that passed through Missouri. Even if that client work does not allow me to travel, I will still learn of resources to suggest for future research or to attempt to obtain long-distance.

Number four, I want to write articles for their quarterly. I want to learn from quarterly articles and be in the “know” about what’s going on in the society so my education level rises.

So what can this society, or others, offer me, as a distance member?

  • A quarterly with their membership. This particular society offers that separately. Need to cut costs? Offer it online like other societies do and a paper option for those who do not like using the computer for such things.
  • Online databases.
  • Online publications that are free for members. I’d rather have access to online books and quarterlies rather than fill my personal library with paper books that I may rarely use because I do not have much business there.
  • Finding aids for their collections. This society in particular has their own research library AND a collection at the main public library in town. I think they have a finding aid they give to members. If they posted that on their website for everyone, they might just attract other members because of all the amazing resources they have. I visited their research library and the main library so I know some of what is there.
  • Ways to network. They have a blog but it isn’t updated very often. They are not on Twitter or FaceBook unless I have completely missed them. I did ask my contact at the society about this. My local society, DuPage County (IL) has a blog that I run. After FGS I have many more ways to expand how we use it and to encourage distant members in particular to post and hopefully strike up more conversations.
  • Consider a webinar of one of the workshops they offer.
  • Post meeting and workshop handouts and summaries online. You know who does a great job of this? Tony at the Schaumburg Library. Schaumburg is fairly close but I have not yet been able to attend a meeting. I can always go to his blog and see what’s going on though from his posts and handouts. His handouts also contain other resources and his comments on articles he’s read in genealogy magazines and journals.
  • Get some Official Bloggers working at your meetings or conference if you have people willing to do this. Then distance members can be in the know.

There may be other things but those are the biggies off the top of my head.

What do you think a society should offer distance members? Please comment below.

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Join the DuPage County (IL) Genealogical Society for their 37th Annual Genealogy Conference. The conference will feature speakers: Paul Milner, Loretto (Lou) Szucs, Juliana Smith, Tony Burroughs, Jennifer Holik-Urban, and Maureen Brady.

Date: Saturday, February 25, 2012

Place: Hilton Garden Inn, St. Charles

Time:  8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Registration: Download a conference registration form here.

Twelve lectures to choose from which include:

1A Finding Your English Ancestors: The Big Four Paul Milner
We will examine available indexes, how to access and interpret the four primary records groups for English research: civil registration, census, church records and probate. These are the primary records you need when searching for anyone from the fifteenth to the twentieth century.

1B Advanced Search Tips for Juliana Smith is home to more than 6 billion records in more than 30,000 collections. But what’s the best way to find what you’re looking for in all that information? This class will teach you how to make the powerful search tools at work for you to help you locate your ancestor, discover their stories, and so much more.

1C Don’t Get Burned: Getting Around the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 Tony Burroughs
The entire city burned in 1871, but many records survived to aid your search for Chicago ancestors. Learn which records survived, and methods of getting around the fire.

2A 10:30 Effective Use of England’s National Archives Website Paul Milner
Learn how to effectively use the research tools, indexes and catalogs on this large website to find your ancestors and to put them into their correct historical context.

2B A Dozen Ways to Jumpstart Your Family History Project Lou Szucs / Juliana Smith
With so many new sources and methods popping up, it’s hard to keep up with it all. This lecture is designed to point to ways to stay on top of it all, and to provide the ideas you need to get going!

2C Creating Order Out of Chaos Tony Burroughs
Have you searched in every courthouse, every library, and every archives and still haven’t solved your riddle? One of the keys to success in genealogy is doing more with what you have. Sometimes the pieces are there, we just need to look at them in different ways. Reorganizing and analyzing may solve your riddle.

11:45 Luncheon served upstairs.

3A 1:30 Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest? Paul Milner
The English parish was both an ecclesiastical and a civil jurisdiction. Both jurisdictions created informative records and kept them in the Parish Chest. This presentation will examine the breadth and wealth of information that can be found, going well beyond the baptism, marriage and burial registers.

3B Discovering Midwestern Repositories Lou Szucs
In terms of research opportunities, the Midwest is the land of opportunity! This presentation will be a mini tour of some of the best places to find your family records. Not only will you learn what some of the greatest libraries, archives and other institutions have to offer online, but you’ll better understand the benefits of a personal visit.

3C Navigating the National Archives Tony Burroughs
The National Archives has 33 facilities, which hold approximately 21.5 million cubic feet of original textual materials, in addition to microfilm and electronic
records. It’s the largest archives in the United States and most of the 4 billion pieces of paper in its collection are not on the Internet. It can be very intimidating,
unless you understand how it operates, and can master the finding aids.

4A 3:00 Branching Out: Connecting with others using Social Networking and Online Family Trees Jennifer Holik
Learn how to use social networking and online family trees to branch out and expand your family research.

4B The “New” FamilySearch Website Maureen Brady
The FamilySearch website was completely redesigned in December, 2010, with a new look and much more content, including indexes linked to the images of original documents and a library of instructional videos. This presentation will provide an overview of the new content, as well as search techniques and navigational tips and tricks.

4C The Six Phases of African American Genealogy Tony Burroughs
This is an overview of the methods and sources in the six distinct phases that are the building blocks of African American genealogy. It progresses from beginning to more advanced research, highlighting some of the problems and complexities of African American genealogy along the way.

Watch this blog for more information and also visit our website.

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The DuPage County (IL) Genealogical Society was featured in two posts this week on Tony’s Genealogy Blog.


DuPage County Genealogical Society (DCGS) Has Created a Genealogy Blog – Visit It for News About the Society!

Do you read Tony’s Genealogy Blog? Tony Kierna is the Genealogy Coordinator for the Schaumburg Township District Library. He also runs the genealogy blog. The library has a genealogy meeting each month on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. A list of meeting topics can be found here.

Check out Tony’s Genealogy Blog and expand your genealogical horizons.

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1940 census

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