Sunday, November 29, 2020

Top 8 Resources to Researching in Kansas City

As most knows, the a3Genealogy blog is client and readers driven. The a3Genealogy team of researchers specialize in DNA, Irish, German, Eastern European, Swedish, British, African American, Jewish and Native American, (etc.) research in the USA and worldwide. So when we received the following letter asking for a blog on local Kansas City resources we were EMBARASSED!  No one has asked us to write on the home of our KC home base. So following are our top eight KC resources. There are more to come. Thanks Kim!

From New York to California, Louisiana to the Plains, the Great Lakes to the Gold Rush, Virginia to Missouri’s Little Dixie counties, or Pennsylvania to the Missouri Rhineland, our ancestors migrated through the Kansas City (KC) area using waterways, the stagecoach, overland trails, and the early railroad. They left behind a wealth of original documents, manuscripts, diaries, and journals. 

  1. 1.  NARA - Kansas City, MO.

    • U. S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth Records, RG129
    • Civil War Provost Marshal Records (Index on Mo State Archives website:
    • Alien Case Files (Index on or
    • Bankruptcy Records 
    • Native American Student and Removal Records
2. Midwest Genealogy Center of the Mid-Continent Public Library.


3.  Mo. State Historical Society: this Kansas City Research ceter is one of six in Missouri, but Kansas Citians have access to all of them: Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Rolla, St. Louis, Springfield. You can contact the Historical Society and request they send your research materials to the closest repository.  I often check to give leads through its indices and abstracts.

4.  County Court Records. This is not a blog about the court structures but I encourage researchers to learn.  It is at the Recorder of Deeds of Jackson County, Mo that researchers can access free marriage information, and undergo an online trace of land or house ownership. 


Let's learn about John Smith starting in Jackson County in 1832. What a easy start to distinguish the different John Smith family units in KC area. (Hint: there was more  than one John Smith living here at the time.)

With a click on the document link, the research can gather the details that often identifies family members, place of origin, and community relationships, etc.  It also can reveal political and religious associations (more places to research), financial and marital status.  

5.  Trowbridge Research Library: 
I would be remiss if I didn't include this Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas repository. The Trowbridge Research Library is a wonderful hidden gem. Many of our KCMO ancestors married or are buried across the state line.
  • local cemetery records
  • marriage licenses 1849 - 1895
  • obituary index to 1993.
6.  National WWI Museum: Edward Jones Research Center


 The Edward Jones Research Center offers an Online Collections Database (see images above) and textural and artifacts from WWI.  This Smithsonian National WWI Museum has a wonderful research room with over 10,000 library titles.  To learn more be sure to view the video A Trip to the National WWI Museum and Memorial

7.  Kansas City (MO) Public Library: Missouri Valley Special Collections: For local online and research resources, this library is a must for KC area researchers. The a3Genealogy researchers have found the most unlikely ancestors named in the collections. 

8.  Merrill J. Mattes Research  The National Frontier Trails Museum, Independence, MO is the repository not to be missed to uncover your ancestors as the travelled west. This repository holds a treasure trove of diaries, journals, and manuscripts.

For more about Missouri genealogy resources and research, be sure to join me at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) 2021 Show Me Missouri Session in January. 

Secret: Although I'm speaking on African American Research resources in Missouri, know that the same collection groups are used for all ancestors. No one lives in a bubble (ok...NBA yes). 

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend
Stay healthy and safe!

Kathleen Brandt  

Monday, November 2, 2020

Volga Germans - Researching Norka Russia to Oregon


For Deep Diving Research|
As with all good research, we must be familiar with our subject: time, place, historical and social challenges and impacts and cultural groups to include religious followings and practices. So, in tracing German – Russians who settled in Oregon, led us to uncovering 6 generation ofrecords and documents. This Volga family, originally from 1725 Hessen, Germany settled in Oregon in 1887.

1-2-3 Begin in America
With my own family from central Kansas, midwestern Volga Germans were familiar. Matter of fact, the a3Genealogy team had worked on enough mid-western Volga German ancestral projects that it just seemed to be another group to settle in the plain states: the Swedish, Norwegians, the Irish, Germans, Italians and the Volga. These Russia Germans were our neighbors, our friends, and co-workers or local farmers. But Portland?

  •  Where Kansas settlers seemed run-of-the-mill, Oregon Volga Germans required us to ask a few questions: 1) why? 2) where? 3)when?

  • Why? As is the practice, we turned to reading all we could about this western settlement: newspapers, town and county histories and the timeframe. What we needed to know was twofold: was there a community church or community cemetery that could help explain the why? Of course, there is always a Who.  Who did they follow to Oregon? By learning how these ancestors  lived in their communities, will guide us to not only why they moved to a particular location, but from where did they come?

  • Where? From which Volga settlement did these Oregon settlers emigrate. 

They usually travelled across the water in groups or to meet up with family members? Generations before did this same group of families leave Germany to settle along the Volga River. Did they intermarry, and 5 generations later immigrate to the USA together? Did the group travel directly to Oregon? 
  • When? So many questions here. When did they arrive in Oregon? When did the travel to America? When did they arrive in Russia? And when did they leave Germany?

Yes, all of these questions were answered with the pulling of documents in all three countries, translations in two of them (German and Russia) and another one of Dr. I. E. Pleve detailed family charts.

Researching in Russia

A great place to start is with an earlier blog post entitled Researching Germans from Russia Ancestors? Researchers will find this article to be a primer that will discuss beginning your Russian research and 9 Places to Research Your German from Russia Ancestral Records. 

 After five generations of living in Russia, Volga Germans would consider themselves Germans. Matter of fact, in one generational stump, our in-house linguist (that would be me - Thank you University of Michigan) solved a conflicting surname through a translation brainteaser - Vögel to Fogel’ / Faglen by realizing the two were merely the same surname.  Same woman, but some in the community used the older-age spelling of her maiden name.

птицы (Russian: ptitsy”) equals birds in English or Vögel in German, or alternatively Fogel in Old High German.  These words translate to “birds”or fowl  in English. Etymology assisted: from Proto-Germanic fuglaz. Cognate with German Vogel, Dutch vogel, English fowl (bird) and Icelandic fugl.

Interesting Documents to Analyze
After exhausting the 9 resources suggested in the referenced earlier blog, the researcher will want to continue analyzing documents. In 1866 the Norka Village community gave permission for settlers (German descendants) to travel. The families had to meet qualifications however:

  1. Everyone who wanted to leave had to announce it at the village gathering and pay all their debts.
  2. Everyone leaving had to give his land to reliable people so that these people will pay all the duties current or future. If the person leaving had not found such a reliable person, then the land will be used by the community. If the person comes back, he or she can only get the land back, if they can pay all the duties.
  3. If there were no legal obstacles, then the person can go abroad. Keep in mind that “abroad” could mean to go from Russia to Germany or any other county that was not under the Russian government. 

Household Census: 
The household censuses were used for the purpose of keeping track men for the military service. So, family units were not captured for the same purpose as American census. These censuses were updated from the previous census. Most of these records are easy to translate, but sometimes, you may just wish to pay for someone else to struggle through the scribbles.  Household census records may also proffer information on the emigration of the family.  

The Passport: Passports were not only difficult to obtain, they came with strict guidelines.  It may have restrictions to where the family could travel: …family can go to different towns and villages of the Russian Empire till September 24, 1887Issued March 24, 1887. Has to come back after this time period otherwise will be punished by law Volost Chairman 

The Petition: Families had to petition separately to travel to the USA (or outside of the Russian Empire). If debts were settled, and they were granted permission, a fee was paid for processing and a passport to travel overseas was issued.  The petition of one such petition read as follows in the following translation: 

I need to visit the USA as my relatives live there so I am asking Your Excellency to allow me to go abroad for 6 months if there are no legal obstacles. I am enclosing an excerpt from the family list, certificate from the Kamyshin uyezd police department # 155 and Norka volost administration #467, passport #224 and copy of the decision of the community that there are no obstacles for me to leave #18, certificate of my transfer to the reserve and a treasury receipt that 5 rubles were paid for the passport form, and I am asking Your Excellency to grant me a foreign passport for the above mentioned period of time.

April 20, 1887
Passport #186 issued on April 21, 1887 

Although mentioned in the earlier Researching Germans from Russia Ancestors? researchers will want to check with the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia for a listing of  surname and location resources. 

And, if they have one of Dr. Pleve’s  hand-drawn charts for your ancestors be sure to purchase it.  I have one chart hanging in my office (48x30) because it is just delightful! 

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Finding Slave Marriages: Tips to Missouri ---------- (Saline County)

Forgotten Historical Records 
There are records of slaves dated as early as the settlement of the Americas, but rarely can we trace these ancestors since last names are usually not given. Slaves did not always take their last owners names, and they often changed their names during Reconstruction Era as was permitted by law. Read also Ex-Slave Alias. So where else can you search for hints of your ex-slave ancestor? The answer is early Marriage Records.

Did They Legalize Their Marriages?
Marriage records of recently freed ex-slaves are often tucked under the more commonly researched books. After emancipation, African Americans were to legalize their marriages. Slave marriages, commonly jumping over a broom, or by a roaming preacher, were not recognized after the Civil War. (Of course it bought them few rights before the Civil War: sometimes a master allowed them joint residency).

But after the Civil War, when the right was granted, many African Americans rushed to get their marriages legalized, but not all. Those who did not legalize their marriage often regretted it. Without the formal civil marriage documents widows attempting to obtain Civil War Pensions using their slave-union were most often denied, even with children in tow and depositions of the slave marriage confirmed.

Freedmen's Bureau of Marriage Records 
Of course there are Freedmen's Bureau of Marriage Records but in rural America marriages were rarely recorded with the Bureau, but at local courthouses. At a3Genealogy we are attempting to capture and index these smaller hidden collections. For more information on the Freedmen's Bureau of marriage records visit Sealing the Sacred Bonds of Holy Matrimony Freedmen's Bureau Marriage Records

What to Expect
In the Saline County Colored Marriages Book, 1865-1870 not only were the marriages and parties named, but also names of children born under the slave marriage. The bride's surname may be a "hint" to a slave master, but of course more research is needed.

Reprint / updated 21 Oct 2020  

Kathleen Brandt,
Accurate, accessible answers

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Eastern European Church Records to the Rescue

Typically, seeking ancestors in Eastern Europe is quite time consuming. Rarely will we find family units who were stationary for generations.  But, church records will be the researcher’s best friend. 

A few key tips to working in Eastern Europe:

  1. Familiarity with location and surname - location association
  2. Be guided by a strategic research plan that allows for expansion and molding as your research unfolds
  3. Keen eye for detail.  One accent can move the researcher from one voivodeship (province), powiat (county / district), or gminas (municipalities)

Location Confusion
The structure of the voivodeship (province), powiat (county / district), or gminas (municipalities) is the first hurdle.  Researchers should be quite familiar with this location’s idiosyncrasies. 

One research project, based on US documents suggesting Galicia, lead us to Dobromil.. The surname we were researching was also seen in the area.  After coming up empty handed on our original targeted search, we uncovered a bit more about the region.  

Dobromil (given name), a given name of Slavic origin
Dobromil, Lower Silesian Voivodeship (south-west Poland)
Dobromil, Podlaskie Voivodeship (north-east Poland)
Dobromilice, a village and municipality in Prostějov District in the Olomouc Region of the Czech Republic.
Dobromil, the Polish name for the town of Dobromyl, Ukraine

Strategic Research Plan (must be fluid)
 Extensive research tying surnames and location led us  to explore Drohomyśl (Jaworów ). As I mentioned, church records can be our best friend. In the District of Jaworów in Galicia our first set of tips and hints were buried in the following locale's collections:

  • Wełykie/Velkie (Michowa Greek Catholic Center)
  • Drohomyśl (Jaworów)

Our original research plan was designed to  research in Poland, Lwow, Dobromil 1784-1875, with our target on Church Records, 1784-1875; and our research plan expanded to in Roman Catholic parish register of marriages and deaths in Wielkie Oczy, Galizien, Austria; now Wielkie Oczy (Lubaczów), Rzeszów, Poland. 

Keen Eye for Detail: Spelling is Similar but Locale is Different

This research Included Drohomyśl, Galizien, Austria; later Drohomyśl (Jaworów), Lwów, Poland; now Drohomyshl′, I︠A︡voriv, L'viv, Ukraine.

Again we began with the church records. Many of these church records are already digitized on Here are just a few of the relevant ones: 

Strzelbice, Lviv Ukraine, Stari Sambir (Starosamborski region) 
Wełykie [Velkie] Lviv Ukraine, Stari Sambir (Starosamborski region) 
Metrical Books, 1837-1894 Greek Catholic Church Kniazpol (Dobromil
Metrical books,1784-1906, Greek Catholic Church. Drohomyśl (Krakowiec), Greek Catholic Church records (births, marriages, deaths) for Drohomyśl (Krakowiec), Galizien, Austria; later Drohomyśl (Jaworów), Lwów, Poland; now Drohomyshl′, I︠A︡voriv, L′viv, Ukraine

Final Tip / Hint
Research plans must be fluid with every hint or tip uncovered. Sometimes we must expand our Research Plan to a larger daunting region to locate our answers. Enjoy the journey.

Kathleen Brandt


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Immigrant Society Records and Genealogy


Irish, Jewish, Catholic, Greek, Plus Other Records

Ancestors left their home places, families and the comforts of their language and community behind when they took the voyage to the new world. The world of hope was on the other side of the sea.  Those who made the trip were processed at ports like Ellis Island, exiting to what should have been a land of opportunity. These were the lucky ones; albeit homeless, poor, and sick.

Their luck often ran out as they exited the processing station. They needed shelter, food, jobs and healthcare, but they were often met by "runners" known as scammers, today. With little knowledge and a bit weary and desperate, they often fell into the trap of being exploited.  With each flood of ethnic emigrations, new arrivals fell prey. That is until Immigration Societies began forming with the mission to provide the basic needs. Food, cash, housing and guidance was provided to the new immigrant. Some societies offered lists of upstanding businesses and care for children and women.

Was My Ancestor Sponsored?
Between 1880-1920 these aid societies were in abundance, but they were established as early as the late 1700's, like the ones for Irish refugees. You may find in passenger lists that your ancestor was supported by an Emigrant Society or ethnic aid society. Obituaries may list your ancestor's involvement or membership.  Church records may record assistance given to your ancestor upon arrival.  I've seen ancestors recorded immigrant records supported by the Catholic church, Greek Orthodox, and Jewish organizations, to name a few: 

Catholic Emigrant Societies.  Visit the New Advent, Emigrant Societies for a listing of Catholic emigrant societies.

Charitable Irish Society
. In 1737 twenty-six men organized the Charitable Irish Society in Boston, Mass. The society collaborated "with the Irish Immigration Center and the Irish Pastoral Centre." Employment, housing, education, finance, health, and the law seminars were offered.  Charitable Irish Society Records, 1737-2008 may be found at the Massachusetts Historical Society. 

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS).  The HIAS, founded in 1881, provided meals, transportation, jobs and temporary housing for Manhattan Jewish immigrants. The American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) collection includes immigrants arriving in Boston,  Providence and Rhode Island, between 1870 and 1929.  Arrival cards, individual case files, and passenger lists from the Boston HIAS are now held at the AJHS which has a collection of over 100 years. 

Emigrant Aid Society.  The Emigrant Aid Society founded in 1841, supported Irish immigrants. In 1850, the Emigrant Savings Bank was founded to provide safe banking practices to include sending bank drafts back to Ireland.  Records from 1841 - 1975 are held at the New York Public Library Manuscript Division. These records may also be found at the Family Search Library.

Royal Philanthropic Society.  In 1788 the Royal Philanthropic Society was organized "for the admission of the offspring of convicts and the reformation of criminal poor children." Mostly these children roamed the streets of Great Britain (majority in London) and parents had been either transported to Australia. or of Australian heritage. According to the website, this society housed, clothed, fed, schooled and apprenticed these children with the end goal that that they would become "useful members of society." The Admission, Discharge and Other Records, 1788-1890 can be found at the Family History Library.

Where to Begin
These records are not centralized.  But the search for where they are housed is worth the effort.  They are full of ancestral data.  A good place to start for Immigrant Society research is at the Family Search Library website using the keywords "Emigrant Societies." Be sure to expand your search.

Don't forget your State Historical Society, local libraries and additional information may be found in Ethnic Genealogical Society collections, which may be found via a simple Google search (i.e. Polish Society).

(Post updated 15 Sep 2020; original 2011).

Kathleen Brandt

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Missouri Mormon Veterans, 1837 - 1847

Lost Missouri Relatives

The Missouri Secretary of State (SOS) Mormon War Papers contain “the records gathered by the state in relation to the disturbances with the Mormons. Records include legislative material, letters to the governor, and witness accounts.”[1]

[The Prophet's Wife and Brother give statements on property stolen in the 1838 Mormon War], Emma Smith and Hyrum Smith. 
"under a Strong Guard in the Camp of the Mob. I there heard the Deft. Say unto (apostle) Lyman Wight, that he Deft. Had taken the Pltfs. Horse, Saddle, Bridle, &Martingales,&had sold them to Capt. Samuel Bogart. I immediately informed the Pltf. Who was under Guard & Convenient to me In about two days Pltf. With Witness & others were carried to Jackson County were kept there five or Six days, from there we were taken to Richmond Ray County, there kept about twenty Days, then carried to Liberty Clay County," and that in that time Bogart guarded them, and Hyrum saw him with his brother's possessions..."

The Missouri Old Settlers vs. the Mormons
In 1830 Joseph Smith of the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (originally called the Church of Christ) sent missionaries to western Missouri to work with the  local Native Americans. It is said that Joseph Smith “designated western Missouri as the place where “Zion” would be “gathered” in anticipation of Christ’s second coming.”[2]  Thus, Missouri became the preferred settling place for the Mormons until around 1833, when they were attacked by the non-Mormon settlers, also called “Old Settlers.”

In 1836, the Missouri State Legislature made provisions for the Mormon settlers to occupy the northwest county of Caldwell separating the Mormons from the Old Settlers. However, newly arrived Mormon settlers over-populated the county, which led to further conflicts and the expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri.

In 1838 the Missouri governor, Lilburn Boggs, gave the Mormon’s an ultimatum of leaving the state or being “exterminated."[3]  Later that year an organized Old Settler mob killed 18 Mormon men and boys.  This massacre gave reason for the Mormons to leave Missouri and to settle in Illinois.[4] 

Resources for Mormon Research?
Witnesses, names of Old Settler mobsters, victims, information on the Mormon paramilitary units and Old Settlers mobs, may be found in the Missouri Mormon Papers.

The state legislative investigation of the massacre and official discussions were documented and are held in the Mormon War Papers.  These papers also hold the criminal hearing of Joseph Smith and other church leaders for treason and other crimes. Images, text and online searches are available using Finding Aid 5.1 online.  

Mormon Volunteers Served in Mexican War
To perform an online surname of one of the 500 plus Missour Mormon veteran volunteers who served in the Mormon Battalion of the Mexican War, try the Search Mormon Records” link. 

These volunteers, led by Mormon company officers, served from  July 1846 to July 1847. They crossed the from Council Bluffs, IA to San Diego, CA.  

Accurate, Accessible Answers

[1] Mormon War Papers, 1837-1841; Office of Secretary of State, Record Group 5; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City. Online access 20 May, 2010
[2] This post is not an attempt to provide the history of the Mormons, Joseph Smith, or the Missouri Mormon War.  The purpose of this post is to accurately capture the online materials reported from the Secretary of State website: The Missouri Mormon War; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City. Online access 20 May, 2010
[3] The Missouri Mormon War, Governor Boggs’ Extermination order, Office of Secretary of State, Record Group 5; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City. Online access 20 May, 2010
[4] The Missouri Mormon War; Office of Secretary of State, Record Group 5; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City;, Online access 20 May 20, 2010

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Jul 2020 - 2021 Webinar Offerings

The a3Genealogy Webinar Series isn't new to us, but these online and video offerings are mandatory for now as we suspend all in person presentations, classes and workshops. 

We have spent the past two months tailoring our classes for online only presentations.  Why should learning stop during this country slowdown? These are just a few online webinar titles offered by Kathleen Brandt as Keynote Presenter. All titles are tailored for your audience / organization. Know that all of the presentations are chocked full of actual images and many have real life short case studies conducive to online training. 

Be sure to review the Experience/Qualifications page. 

Kathleen Brandt
Keynote Speaker/Presenter

2020 - 2021 Webinar / Online Series
Military Records
  •  Tracing State Militia Records
  •  Revolutionary War
    • Finding Your Revolutionary War Soldier
    • African Americans Served Too – Finding Revolutionary & War of 1812 Records
    • Identifying Revolutionary War Era Parents 
    • 7 Best Revolutionary War Resources
    • Your Blacksheep: Courts-martial and Courts of inquiry records
  •  War of 1812
    • War of 1812: 10 Places to Search
    • Researching Your War of 1812 Impressed Seamen
  •  Civil War
    • 10 Best Bets to Civil War Research
    • 7 Tips to Researching Slaves and Slaveholders
    • Grand Army of the Republic (GAR): Where Are the Records
    • Military Records Were Destroyed: What to Do?
    • Civil War POW Records: Finding Your Soldier
  • Modern Wars
    • Military Records Were Destroyed? What to Do?
    • 7 Easy Tips to WWI and WWII Research
    • Forgotten Records - WWI and WWII
Methodology & Brickwalls
  • Turn Brickwalls into Straw Houses: 10 Huffs and Puffs of Research 
  • 60 Mile Radius: Kansas City, The Gateway to Genealogical Resources
  • Destroyed Records: Fire, Water, Thieves
  • The Changing Surname: How to Trace It
Missouri Research
  • 7 Tips to Researching Slaves and Slaveholders in Little Dixie – Missouri
  • 8 Tips to Researching MO Rhineland Ancestors
  • Pioneer Trail From Missouri to California: How to Trace Them
  • 5 Research Tips to MO. Bohemian Ancestors
Tracing Immigrants
  • When They Came to America, Where Did They Go?
  • Tracing Missouri Irish: From Immigration to Emigration
  • Blackbirding: Sugar, Cotton, and Slaves! Researching South Pacific Island Laborers
  • Did Your Ancestor Become a US Citizen? Where to find Records and Documents
  • Tracing Huguenots – From There to Here
  • Researching Germans from Russia Ancestors
 Slave and Slaveholder Records
  • Researching the Road to Freedom: 5 Ways to Freedom & 15 Record Sets to Find Them
  • Where Are the Slave Records?
  • Claim It!  Southern Claims Commission Records
  • African Americans Served Too – Finding Revolutionary & War of 1812 Records
  • Using Ship Manifests Records to Trace Slaveholders and Slaves
Kathleen Brandt
816-729-5995 for quotes and bookings