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