Families come together via the naming of a railroad station in Mendota, Minnesota

As you may have read before, my Great Granduncle Louis F. Slaker worked for the “Omaha” railroad. The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Omaha Railway was later part of the Chicago and North Western Railway system. In his position as a Superintendent, one of his tasks was naming a railroad station in Mendota (Dakota County), Minnesota. He named it Cliff Station, though it was simply known as the Mendota station to many. If you stand in the town of Mendota, you look up a big cliff to the rest of Mendota. Turn around and a bit further there is a cliff towering over the Minnesota River. I am only assuming these cliffs were in his mind.

This is where ancestral families converge — in a way. My late mother-in-law and her siblings were raised at the top of the cliff in Mendota. I can picture them or their parents and other Rowan and Fee relatives boarding the train at this station. Little did she know that the station where she and others waited for the train was named by a relative of three of her future grandchildren.


This entry is from Minnesota Place Names: A Geographical Encyclopedia. 3rd Revised & Enlarged Edition. Saint Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press 2001. Much has been added to Warren Upham’s original excellent compilation that was published in 1920, Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance.

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My Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and Family History Library 2018 packing list

I already have a suitcase opened in my apartment and am adding things to it for my time at the 2018 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and some time at the Family History Library. This post is an update of one I shared in the past.

It’s a January ritual for me and several hundred other family historians. This includes people from all over the U.S., Canada, and some other countries. The week-long Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) begins on Monday, January 22nd with a special reception and registration the night before. That’s when most students pick up their syllabus for their course.

Some arrive before SLIG in order to research at the Family History Library (FHL) where it’s a joy to simply pull films out of a drawer. Yes, some students live in the greater Salt Lake City area, but often the duties of daily life interfere with getting downtown to do the research. Others stay after SLIG and many scurry over to the FHL after classes each day.

As many of you know, I coordinate and teach the intermediate level Taking Your Research to the Next Level that many have taken before venturing further into more advanced courses. In this course, visits to the library are a must as students work on the week’s class project which is the main homework. The students in this course also have an opportunity to sign up for a private consultation with me or the other instructors.

In addition to preparing for SLIG, I am reviewing client files to see what must be accomplished at the FHL and also some of my own files for a bit of family research. As of the early hours of January 1, 2018, I have a few new leads on my own family. This means I am listing films that I want to view while I am there and can easily move from a filmed index to a filmed record or move to another film when I make a great discovery. Bring along a couple flash drives so that you can make digitized images from the films and transfer to your own flash drive. The flash drive is also important if you find something online while using one of the many library computers and subscription databases.

I bring along some granola bars and apples for quick breakfasts and daytime snacks.  A Harmon’s grocery store is about 3.5-4 blocks from the Hilton Hotel where SLIG is held. Another option is to take the TRAX light rail to Smith’s at 400 South at 600 East. Smith’s has much more than groceries including clothes, jewelry, and even tools should you need a wrench for some reason! My main reason for going to the grocery store is to get lots of water and fresh fruit. The FHL allows us to bring in a closed water container.

My packing list includes plenty of lip balm and lotion since the air is so dry in SLC.  I bring my computer, cords, and my Fopydo for taking pictures from books using my phone. What is a Fopydo?  Check my blog post on that. You will likely see a few of us using one when we are on the third floor of the library. For more info on scanners and cell phone apps for scanning, check this Facebook page Technology for Genealogy.

Light sleeper? Bring earplugs and a eye mask. Good sleep makes a better learner and researcher. The rest of what you need to bring is the standard stuff for any trip. If you don’t have a packing list, start one now and check online for lists others have posted on websites and I have seen some tips on the SLIG 2018 Facebook page. It’s terrible to waste FHL time by running to the store again to purchase something you forgot to pack.

Of course, your packing list will differ depending on whether you fly or drive. If you have other suggestions, please add them in a comment so that others can learn from your expertise.

  • a couple clothespins to close a bag of snacks
  • snacks for between lectures
  • comfortable shoes (2 pair so one can rest for a day)
  • laundry bag
  • sweater or lightweight jacket in case a classroom is chilly
  • throat lozenges or hard candies in case you get a scratchy throat
  • chargers and a power strip for phones, tablets, and computers
  • cable lock for computer
  • surge protector (I use this one goo.gl/Z3Ujno that was suggested to me by Cyndi of Cyndi’s List. It works great at the FHL)
  • Flash drives/USB drives/thumb drives
  • account passwords
  • business cards so others can find you after SLIG (Add the surnames you are searching)
  • don’t forget to bring any over the counter or prescription medications
  • your own pillow if you can’t sleep without it!
  • power strip
  • tissues
  • curling iron
  • some hangers
  • Some paper towels (you really don’t need a whole roll)
  • couple file folders for any extra handouts
  • pad of paper and pens/pencils
  • computer or electronic tablet for taking notes and for homework
  • highlighter for marking items in syllabus
  • clothing (definitely not optional)
  • headphones (you may need quiet for a while or to listen to a different kind of music than your roommate)
  • soap, shampoo, conditioner, hairbrush, comb, lotion razor, shaving cream
  • toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and other toiletries that you need
  • makeup
  • prescription and other medications
  • disinfectant wipes
  • lip balm, lip balm, lip balm (get the hint? LOL)
  • post-it pad – leave notes for yourself or a roommate
  • winter hat, gloves, scarf, and coat
  • umbrella (it has rained at times)


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Eden Prairie, Minnesota (Hennepin County) roots? Ongoing oral history project

Eden Prairie, Minnesota is a suburb of Minneapolis. It was once a rural area but has grown into a place with a large population and the stores and activities to match. I lived there for a couple years and my ex-husband worked there for many years. There isn’t an old main street with quaint stores, but there is a historical society that is trying to preserve memories. Thus, its oral history project.

“The Historical Society’s Oral History Project, entitled “Eden Prairie Remembers Its Mid-Century Transformation,” set out to “explore the steps and driving forces of Eden Prairie’s journey from a rural to suburban community by interviewing those who lived the history.”

To learn more, read full story in the Eden Prairie News.

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2018 is a fresh year of genealogy presentations

I’ve already been booked for presentations throughout 2018 but do have some open dates if your group is in need of a speaker. Contact me via  email at PaulaStuartWarren  at gmail.com. My topics and descriptions are found right on this website under Speaking. There will be something for you to learn, no matter if you are a beginning genealogist or have more experience.

A few to start off the year renewing our zeal for family history:

  • January 11, 2018, Hudson, Wisconsin, 10:30
    Hudson Area Public Library sponsoring my presentation, “The U.S. National Archives: The Nation’s Attic”
  • January 22-26, Salt Lake City, Utah
    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) I coordinate and teach in the intermediate level course, Taking Your Research to the Next Level. Some seats are still available. This course will not be offered in 2019 so sign up now for 2018.
  • February 10: Mesa, Arizona
    Arizona Genealogical Advisory Board (AZGab) seminar where I will do two presentations that afternoon.
  • March 17, 2018, Red Wing, Minnesota, 1:00 p.m.
    Goodhue County Historical Society and Red Wing Community Education sponsoring my presentation, “Controlling Chaos: Organizing Your Genealogy.”  Call 651.385.4565 to register.

Each of my presentations is accompanied by an extensive handout and I am available to answer genealogy and history questions.

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Contribute to on the spot street corner history in La Crosse, Wisconsin

A continuing education class that is open to anyone at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is inviting people to help complete an award-winning oral history project that accommodates self-guided tours. The class will add stories to the 50 already recorded. How do you access these self-guided history tours? At orange street signs in downtown La Crosse, simply call a toll-free number and hear the recording that matches the area around the  spot where you stand! What an easy way to learn history.

For details on the upcoming January class and more on the story, visit the La Crosse Tribune.


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The Weinermobile and Oral History

I bet more than a few of you are scratching your head at the connection in the title of this post. As I read an article today that connected those two items, a certain song from a commercial began to run through my mind and hasn’t stopped since. O-S-C-A-R  M-A- . . . and now I hope you have this earworm!

The headquarters of the Oscar Mayer company has moved back to Chicago from its 1919-2015 home in Madison, Wisconsin. One of the Weinermobiles has been donated to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Other artifacts were donated but my mind immediately wondered about the company records! No mention of those in the article.

“. . . the Wisconsin Historical Society announced efforts to collect memories of Oscar Mayer from company workers and retirees, families of Oscar Mayer workers and anyone who has a story they want to share about the frankfurter and bologna purveyor.”

“Anyone can share a memory of Oscar Mayer online — visit oscarmayerstories.com — or record a video or audio and upload it to the website. Or simply write it down and send it via snail mail. Oral histories will be accepted through Feb. 28. All stories will be archived and accessible by the public.”

Read the full story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of 5 December 2017.

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Your family history “stuff” is valuable: safe storage for paper and other items

This is taken from the handout that accompanies my lecture titled Controlling Chaos: Organizing Your Genealogical Materials. We need to make sure our important family history paper, artifacts, and related items are stored properly.  Many larger historical societies offer classes on proper preservation techniques. Check for up-to-date websites and guidebooks. I did not check but I bet Cyndislist.com has a category for this subject!

I suggest beginning with at least acid free folder and boxes for irreplaceable items.

Just three of many sources for these:

Preservation supply sources: Use proper storage for paper and family heirlooms. Acid-free paper is widely available and gift stores or museum shops at historical societies often carry archival supplies including boxes, paper, file folders, photo albums, and more. For online ordering (and some drooling!)

C   Gaylord Brothers, Phone: 800-428-3631

C   Hollinger Metal Edge , Phone: 800-634-0491

C   University Products, Inc. Phone: 800-336-4847

Which items are you going to add to your Christmas list?


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1985: Photos of the first Minnesota Genealogical Society Office & Library

A week ago, I wrote about the new Minnesota Genealogy Center that houses the Minnesota Genealogical Society, Branches, interest groups, and affiliates. This post shows 3 views of the very first place at 678 West Seventh Street in Saint Paul. As Dixie Hansen, another former MGS Board Member, pointed out in her comment on that post, that street is also known as Fort Road. Why? Because it leads to Fort Snelling that was established in 1820 as Fort Saint Anthony. Dixie also provided a great timeline of the library locations in that same comment.

The images below are from that first library and office location. It had only a few bookshelves donated through the employer of the husband of the late Jean Legried, a MGS Board Member for many years. As you can see the signage was nothing fancy. There are more pictures and I will be donating a posterboard of those pictures to the new location. Your eyes aren’t going bad, these images are not very clear! They look much better on the posterboard.

It wasn’t a large space!



It was a start!


The not very fancy signage!


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New images starting on War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions!

In case you didn’t see the press release, yet, the Preserve the Pensions work is really developing. According to FGS President, Rorey Cathcart, on the PTP Facebook page: “ This first new upload contains images for the names from Thompson Moore to William Moore.”


The press release text:


November 23, 2017



Austin, Texas  – The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) is pleased to announce new pension images available at our hosting partner, Fold3. As we detailed in August of this year, conservation had resumed and digitization would shortly follow on War of 1812 Pension files covering surnames M(Moore)-Q. This new release of images is the first installment on the promise made by FGS, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and Ancestry to complete the project we started and to which you all have so generously contributed. Additional images will follow as the Ancestry digitization team continues to refine their process and achieve full capacity in accord with NARA protocols.

The War of 1812 pensions are among the most frequently requested set of materials within NARA’s holdings, yet had never been microfilmed or digitized. Through a fundraising effort unprecedented in the genealogical community, more than 4,000 individuals, 115 genealogical and lineage societies, and industry leaders such as FamilySearch helped FGS secure the funds, matched by Ancestry, to preserve and share this invaluable genealogical resource. The images already captured, as well as those soon to be, are hosted at Fold3 and available for free at https://go.fold3.com/1812pensions/

“The Federation remains grateful to our partners and our supporters for their commitment to this important project. We are as excited as our community to reach this milestone.” – Rorey Cathcart, FGS President

Accelerating public access to our holdings is key to successfully meeting NARA’s mission and we are extremely pleased to see this project contribute to that overarching goal.” Pamela Wright, Chief Innovation Officer, NARA

“We are excited to have images flowing to the Fold3 site again and look forward to completing the collection as quickly as NARA’s process will allow.” Brian Hansen, GM Fold3

The Federation is committed to seeing the entire collection conserved, digitized and freely online at the earliest possible date. We will continue work with our partners to complete the current project plan in a timely manner and to secure a project plan for the remaining portion of the War of 1812 Pension files.



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