New Research Center

Are you like me, busy planning your genealogy research trips for the remainder of this year, that may or may not be in conjunction, with a family trip? If your research trip includes Lafayette County, be sure to include our new Research Center.

Among our library holdings, we have a Surname Index that is being added to.   We’ve some publications that can be purchased at the Center.  We are located at 309 Main Street, Darlington, WI  53530 and open on Thursdays 10 am – 3pm and by appointment.  With life being as it is, a call ahead is welcomed.  Please call Bill Holland: 608-325-2990 or Susie Hillison: 608-558-9797.  We look forward to your stopping by.

Research Center (1) 1500x1125We are one among seven places on Main Street in Darlington that you should make sure you include. The other six are the Lafayette County Historical Society, the Johnson Public Library, the Lafayette County Courthouse, the Republican Journal newspaper office and the Title Department, nearly just across the street from our Center. Be sure to take the time to fill out as many surname cards as you’d like when visiting our Center. They may lead you to others researching your family name and visa versa. I wish you all success where ever your genealogy searches take or lead you.


A Soldier’s Story

Richard Carlton, author of “When is Daddy coming home?”, will be presenting his story on Sunday, November 5, 2017 at the Town Bank Meeting Room, 15815 Hwy 81, Darlington, WI. Please us the lower level entrance on the back side of building.

When is Daddy Coming Home Book Cover-blogWorld War II was coming to a close in Europe and Richard Haney was only four years old when the telegram arrived at his family’s home in Janesville, Wisconsin. That moment, when Haney learned of his father’s death in the final months of fighting, changed his and his mother’s lives forever.

In this emotionally powerful book, Haney, now a professional historian, explores the impact of war on an American family. Unlike many of America’s 183,000 World War II orphans, Richard Haney has vivid memories of his father. He skillfully weaves together those memories with his parents’ wartime letters and his mother’s recollections to create a unique blend of history and memoir. Through his father’s letters he reveals the war’s effect on a man who fought in the Battle of the bulge with the 17th airborne but wanted nothing more than to return home, a man who expressed the feelings of thousands when he wrote to his wife, “I’ve see and been through a lot but want to forget it all as soon as I can.” and Haney illuminates life on the home front in small-town America as well, describing how profoundly the war changed such communities. At the same time, his memories of an idyllic family life make clear what soldiers like Clyde Haney felt they were defending.


Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Richard Haney and his story this coming Sunday at 1:30. This presentation is sponsored by the Lafayette County Genealogical Society and the Lafayette County Historical Society.

Upcoming Events

Below are some genealogy events from our society and other area societies. So mark your calendar and plan to attend some of these.

Saturday, February 4 – “WHO ARE THE AMISH?” (Green County Genealogical Society)

who-are-the-amish-webMark Louden, Max Kade Institute co-director, a Mennonite and fluent speaker of Pennsylvania Dutch, will be the speaker for the February 4 meeting of the Green County Genealogical Society. He will speak on the Old Order Amish, one of America’s most familiar yet widely misunderstood religious groups. Professor Mark Louden will address the central aspects of Amish life and the Christian faith that anchors it, with a special emphasis on Amish communities in Wisconsin, which has the 4th largest population of any U.S. state. He will clarify a number of misunderstandings about the Amish, as well as their close spiritual cousins, the Mennonites.

The Green County Genealogical Society meeting will be held in the second floor meeting room of the Monroe Public Library at 10 am, Saturday, February 4. Visitors are always welcome and there is no cost to attend.

Sunday, March 26 – “FRONTIER MEDICAL DISEASES AND TREATMENTS”  (Lafayette County Genealogical Society & Lafayette County Historical Society)

Dr. Gordon E. Dammann, renowned Midwestern and Eastern historian speaker of Lena, Illinois, will be talking on “Frontier Medical Diseases and Treatments”. Dr. Dammann was an Army Post Dental Surgeon and Captain (1969-70) and is now retired from private dental practice (1971-2011). He is also the Founder of the Lena Area Historical as well as the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Gordon is credited as the author or editor of several publications of Historical and Civil War subjects and events, as well as early medical histories. He also has held a long time listing of Historical Society Affiliations and has received several awards from them in appreciation for his active participation within numerous historical functions and events. Gordon or “Gordy”, as he also answers to, stays quite busy as a Certified Guide at the Antietam National Battlefield in Virginia during his summer months, along with his high in demand requested lectures.

The combined Genealogical and Historical Society meeting will meet on Sunday, March 26 at the Town Bank Meeting Room, 15815 Hwy 81, Darlington, WI. Use lower level entrance on the back side of building. Visitors are welcome and there is no cost to attend.

Sunday, June 25 – “GENEALOGY SOURCES ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE”  (Lafayette County Genealogical Society & Lafayette County Historical Society)

lori-bessler-1-2Lori Bessler, Reference Librarian and Outreach Coordinator at the Wisconsin Historical Society Library Archives in Madison, will talk on “Genealogy Sources Anywhere and Everywhere”. Lore Bessler has worked at the Wisconsin Historical Society Library Archives since 1988 and has lectured throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest on genealogical topics for over 30 years. Lori also has the experience of researching family history for over 40 years and specializes in breaking down brick walls and finding hard-to-find resources.

The combined Genealogical and Historical Society meeting will meet on Sunday, March 26 at the Town Bank Meeting Room, 15815 Hwy 81, Darlington, WI. Use lower level entrance on the back side of building. Visitors are welcome and there is no cost to attend.


Saturday, March 18th – “Genealogy and Technology” by Thomas MacEntee

Saturday, April 22nd – “German American Genealogy” by James Biedler

Saturday, May 6th – “Italian Genealogy” by John Colletta, Ph.D.

Saturday, June 17th – “Digging Deeper Into DNA” by Mary Eberle, JD

Click here to register

These workshops will be held at the Memorial Library on the UW Madison campus. These are all day events where a box lunch is provided.

Workshop Fee:  Regular: $30;     Members of the WHS & WSGS: $27


Aerial America Re: U.S. State Histories

by Susie Hillison

I  came across a program while enjoying my morning cup of “joe” this morning (Sunday, 10:30), that was new to me.  It was on  the Smithsonian Channel which I’ve since learned, features a wide array of programming covering science, nature, culture, history, air and spacecraft, and documentaries. They create everything from long-running series to one-off, in depth specials.  This one happened to be  Aerial America, which showcases each of the 50 states from the air, with special episodes devoted to small towns, the wilderness, etc. and narrated by Jim Conrad.  It caught my interest because this one was  on West Virginia.  My father’s paternal and maternal heritage is from there, back to 1700’s when it was still part of Virginia.  I found it  very interesting and informative.  I learned that the capital was initially located in Wheeling and how the change to surface coal mining is beneficial for the health of the coal miners but not without a cost to our environment.  We are loosing our Mountains and valleys from it.  When reading some of the Darlington papers, I’ve seen mention of  a Lafayette Co., WI resident (Knight) visiting in West Virginia.  Something for me to further investigate, since I have distant Knights thru my Stockwell line.

Setting Goals

I apologize for not having a blog post recently. Between a job change and the holidays blogging was set aside. So what better time to talk about our Genealogy goals than at the beginning of the new year. One of my goals is to have a blog post twice a month for the next year. I may have to exclude December on that goal.

Amy Johnson Crow posted in her blog last week on How to Set Smart Genealogy Goals. It is a very practical method for setting goals and I would like to share it here. You can see the original post at her blog: Amy Johnson Crow Blog – How to Set a Smart Genealogy Goal

How to Set a Smart Genealogy Goal

Have you ever set a goal or made a resolution about your genealogy and it just didn’t work out? If those stacks of copies are still on your dining room table and your photos are still unlabeled and unorganized, take heart. You’re not alone. The Washington Post reports that 25% of people give up on their New Years resolutions in the first week.

But you can be successful with your family history goals. The key is to set the right goal… You could even say a SMART goal.


The business world has long recognized that some goals are better than others, not because of what they’re trying to achieve, but how they are set up. SMART goals are:

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Actionable (some say “Attainable”)
R – Realistic
T – Timely

When you include these elements in your goal or resolution, you have a better chance of reaching it. It’s hard to hit a mushy goal like “I’m going to research more.”When our goals are vague, so are our results.

A common genealogy goal is “I’m going to get better at citing my sources.” Let’s take that and turn it into a SMART genealogy goal.


“Specific” lays the foundation for the goal. What is it you’re trying to achieve?

“I’m going to be better at citing my sources” isn’t specific. What does “better” mean? Sources from what?

Better version:
“I’m going to rewrite my source citations so they are in Evidence Explained format.”


Measurable often goes along with specific. Measurable gives us a way to mark our progress and see how close we’re getting. We can cheer ourselves on when we hit a milestone and we can take action when we’re coming up a little short.

“Rewrite my source citations” isn’t measurable. We can take our goal and improve it by making it more specific and measurable.

Better version:
“I’m going to rewrite my source citations that I have in RootsMagic so they are inEvidence Explained format.”

Actionable / Attainable

Goals are pretty pointless if you can’t do anything about hitting them. They also fall short if we set ourselves up for failure.

One way you can make a goal both actionable and attainable is to work in an action plan.

Better version:
“I’m going to rewrite my source citations that I have in RootsMagic so they are inEvidence Explained format. I’m going to do this by working on it 15 minutes a day.


The good thing about goals is that they can help us do things we’ve never done before. I’m all for having “moon shot” dreams, but making those dreams come true usually comes from a series of smaller, realistic goals. (“Let’s go to the moon” was attained by having the goal of figuring out how, then by designing the spacecraft, then building it, etc.)

It is possible to be both realistic and stretch your achievements. The following addition to our goal is still a stretch, but is more realistic.

Better version:
“I’m going to rewrite my source citations for Mom’s side of the tree that I have in RootsMagic so they are in Evidence Explained format. I’m going to do this by working on it 15 minutes a day.”


“Someday” isn’t on the calendar. If you’re going to hit a goal, it helps to put a deadline on it. (Have you ever heard the joke about “If it weren’t for the last minute, I wouldn’t get anything done”? This is what’s that’s talking about!)

Let’s put a deadline on our goal:

Better version:
“I’m going to rewrite my source citations for Mom’s side of the tree that I have in RootsMagic so they are in Evidence Explained format. I’m going to do this by working on it 15 minutes a day. I will have this done by June 1, 2016.

Try It Yourself

Consider what you’d like to improve upon with your genealogy. Is it improving your source citations? It is learning how to use land and tax records? It is compiling that family history that you’ve talked about forever? Turn that fuzzy goal and turn it into a SMART goal.

Another of my goals is to apply for a pioneer/century certificate for my ancestor Ole Hanson by completing my proof of lineage and getting the birth, death, and marriage records from the appropriate court houses. I plan to work on the application and source citations of each document used to prove lineage two evenings a week. I will have this done by May 1.

Use the Smart goals and post one of your genealogy goals for this year in the comment section.


Black Hawk War / Find A Grave

If you are interested in the Black Hawk War you will want to add this to your calendar to hear author and teacher of history, Patrick Jung. If you would like him to sign a book you will need to purchase it in advance and bring with you. The book titles have links to Amazon.

Patrick Jung, author of two books on the Black Hawk War, will be featured at the October 3 meeting of the Green County Genealogical Society speaking on the Black Hawk War in our area and resources for researching ancestors that were in the militia. Patrick Jung has written two books on the Black Hawk War: The Black Hawk War of 1832 (Campaigns and Commanders) and The Battle of Wisconsin Heights, 1832: Thunder on the Wisconsin. He will bring samples of his books for us to see, but won’t have any to purchase. They can be purchased online at Amazon or Ebay. He will be glad to sign any books  brought to the meeting.

The Green County Genealogical Society meeting will be held in the second floor meeting room of the Monroe Public Library at 10 am. Saturday, October 3. Visitors are always welcome and there is no cost to attend. The society is also holding free weekly workshops on various genealogical topics Thursdays through October at 10:00 a.m. in their Research Center in lower level of the library. You may call Sharon (815-868-2416) or Donna (608-921-1537) if you have questions.


Sunday, September 27, 2015 at the Lafayette County Historical Museum 1:30 pm.
Come to discover how Bill Holland became an accidental genealogy buff.  Learn about the morbid sounding site named Find A Grave, which lists almost all cemeteries in the United State, let alone the world, and lists almost all interments, and their family members, in those cemeteries.  This free site holds a plethora of genealogical information, and provides the beginning genealogist with an interesting and informative starting point for their family discovery journey.

Connecting to the Old Country Continued

Here are more websites that may be helpful in your search for the ancestors “across the pond”. Be sure to share if you have found a website that is particularly helpful in locating information on your ancestors from the “old country”.


Here you will find a records-transcription project which includes many vital records from Poland, a surname list, translation tools, a guide to using Family History Library microfilm, and several links to other resources.


SGGEE focuses on the genealogy of Germans from Russian Poland and Volhynia with some help for related regions. You will need to join the society to access all the records.


A useful starting place for your Italian research and one of the many country websites under the umbrella of the World GenWeb <>. It varies in its resources depending on which ancestral place in Italy you’re investigating.


From their website: LusaWeb is an Internet community dedicated to the people of Portuguese ancestry living in the United States and throughout the world. LusaWeb is a place to celebrate our common heritage, to learn about Portuguese history and traditions and to share the memory of our Portuguese ancestors.


A favorite of mine – This free site from the National Archives of Norway offers almost all the essential resource for finding Norwegian families. It includes church records, censuses, tax lists, probate records and more! It’s also the most English-language friendly Scandinavian websites.


The link goes directly to the English-language pages. Otherwise click the British flag for English. Many items are available without membership including forum, database of researchers and searchable tombstone records with photos, links and maps.

Again this is just a start….a jumping off point. If you didn’t find that helpful website for your ancestors go to Cyndi’s List <; which has over 300,000 links to genealogy websites.

Fryxell, David A. “Catch the Wave.” Family Tree Magazine May/June 2014: 54-59. Print.