Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Day at the Museum - Part 1

For many weeks I've been eagerly awaiting my visit to the Cass County Historical Society Museum in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. It has been a few decades since my last visit and after six years of staying busy with online research only, I was ready to get back into on-site research. 

Both sides of my mother's family - the Kellys and the Bellingers - were early settlers and long time residents of Greenwood, Cass County, Nebraska. My great grand aunt, Mary Kelly, married John Fitzgerald, a railroad contractor, banker, millionaire and they lived in Plattsmouth, Greenwood and Lincoln.

I've been researching the Fitzgerald line of the family for a long time. Because of their 'celebrity' (for lack of a better word), I have more information than I really know what to do with. But it has proven time and time again how important it is to research siblings. From a newspaper article of Mary's recollections I learned of the wagon train journey that my ancestors made from St. Paul, Minnesota to the Dakotas and returning East along the Missouri River until the family settled in Omaha and Council Bluffs, and later, in Greenwood. Researching the Fitzgeralds has given me a wealth of information about my Kellys.

The October 1 workshop sponsored by the Cass County Historical Society Museum provided a unique opportunity that combined two excellent lectures on beginning genealogy by my new friend and genealogy buddy, Gail Blankenau, as well as time to research many of the resources available at the museum. Gail and I first met when we both spoke at the Land Records and Genealogy Symposium in Beatrice, Nebraska in July.

As always, Gail did an excellent job introducing genealogy to a group of relatively new genealogists. She asked how I could possibly learn anything from a beginner's class and I replied, "I've been a beginning genealogist for 30 years." Sorry - not an original line - I heard someone else say that once and thought it fits my situation. As genealogists, I believe we can always learn something new. And with eight pages of notes from Gail's lectures, I certainly did!

This has been a hectic week and I admit that I had not properly prepared for what research questions I sought answers for. But I had brought along my netbook and when it was time for research, I brought up my database on Family Tree Maker. I jotted down some significant dates that matched up with the newspapers available on microfilm at the Museum. I already knew that I would be returning for further research, but I sure wasn't going to go home empty handed.

With the microfilm of the 1896 Greenwood Gazette in place, I was hopeful of finding an obituary or death notice of my great great grandfather, William D. Kelly, the Irish immigrant. It was not to be found. But I'm going to look again when I have more time available. To date, I found an obituary for him in the St. Paul Minnesota Daily Globe. I was hoping to find something in the newspaper of the locale where he was living when he died.

Next on my priority list was to find a newspaper article about the marriage of my grandparents. Here's what I found on page 1 of the Greenwood Gazette, October 9, 1913:

By the Journal we see that Wm. Kelly and Miss Lina [sic] Bellinger are to live as one ... We wish the young people long life and happiness

Grandmother's name was Sina, but at least I found a newspaper article.


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