Family Search Uncovers Circus Elephant Story

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott speaks of his love of genealogy, and shares some of the family history discoveries he’s made—including the tale of an ancestor, a zookeeper, who was nearly trampled to death by Minnie, the lone elephant at Cleveland’s Brookfield Zoo, in 1915!

Right off the bat I’ll admit it. I’m a genealogy nut! My wife calls my pursuit of family history “our shadow.” My favorite quote is “I used to have a life and then I started doing genealogy.” Plus, I am hoping for another grandchild, simply because I have a myriad of historic family names that I think need to be carried on. I wonder what my chances are for either Lovejoy Cinderella for a granddaughter or Sylvia Marathan for a grandson?

Well, maybe not.

Additionally, it is a matter of great personal satisfaction that I have been able to trace my family roots, with documentation, to the 1500s on my father’s side (Phillipps and Cottle) in Cornwall, United Kingdom; to the early 1600s on my mother’s side (Vicha and Knechtl) in Bohemia, now the Czech Republic; and to the 1700s with my wife’s families (D’Aquila and Casagrande) in the Molise district of Italy. My Cornish and Bohemian immigrant ancestors all happened to find their separate ways to Cleveland, Ohio, between 1852 and 1911. My wife’s ancestors made their way to the Mesabi Iron Range of northern Minnesota.

The “Chase-of-the-Trace”

While the thrill of what I have dubbed the “chase-of-the-trace” is always amazing, I have to admit that, for me, the best part is more often the “little things.” You know, those human interest stories or unexpected items that one discovers pursuing genealogy and/or family histories. Sure there is the rush of excitement when we chip a brick out of a longstanding wall by finding a birth, marriage, or death certificate we’ve long been looking for, but to see the real lives of our ancestors unfold is what gets me truly excited.

A personal goal in my family tree and website (which I keep on the genealogy/social network site MyHeritage.com) is to find, capture, and then weave the threads of the culture, times, and values of our ancestors into what I call the quilt of our family history. For instance, in my family I will be the last person who will have grown up hearing Czech spoken in our home. I don’t want that memory to be lost. Not ever!

Sister Marjorie: the Chase Begins

Recently I got a phone call from a Cleveland cousin. Since I use our genealogy website as our worldwide family social network, she wanted to inform me of the passing of another cousin, Sister Marjorie. In the family we knew Sister Marjorie, before her vows, as Florence Kotrsal, a member of our Knechtl family branch. Cousin Florence had always intrigued me, especially since she was a twin (rare in our family tree) and I had not done any significant amount of work on her. As so often happens, the loss of a family member caused me to be doing something a bit too late.

First, I began learning more about her life as a member of the Order of the Sisters of Holy Humility of Mary where she lived for 73 years in Villa Maria, Pennsylvania. Next, I began to work more on her family members. I knew Florence was the daughter of Dr. Joseph J. Kotrsal (later, as with so many Slavic names in my family, “Americanized” to Kottershall) and Florence Kapl, and that Florence was the twin sister of Josephine. I began to move back in time and soon discovered I was in my favorite element, which is the early Bohemian community of Cleveland, Ohio.

As always, one of my first stops during my family history search was at GenealogyBank.com. I love the site and the coverage in the Cuyahoga County/Cleveland/Northeast, Ohio, area through the Plain Dealer and the Leader is excellent and very deep. Plus, with bated breath, I am awaiting their forthcoming additions of some of the early Cleveland Czech-language newspapers they recently acquired from the Balch Museum in Pennsylvania.

Sister Marjorie’s Father, Dr. Joseph J. Kotrsal (Kottershall)

J.J. Kotershall, Physician, Is Dead, Plain Dealer 11 December 1945

Obituary for Dr. Joseph J. Kotrsal (Kotershall), Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 11 December 1945, page 6

During my family search my first exciting discovery was that Florence’s father, Dr. Joseph J. Kotrsal, was the same medical doctor whose name I had seen frequently on death certificates and other documents. As I searched farther, I found his obituary, always a terrific find. As I read, I was amazed to see that Dr. Kotrsal was instrumental in bringing the very first x-ray machine to Cleveland, Ohio. Now you might think this would have changed him as a person or his practice, but his obituary states that he continued to focus on providing medical care in the Bohemian community of Cleveland his entire life.

An additional precept in my personal family history work is that I want to be as inclusive as possible, so I study spouses and their families for equal inclusion in my family tree. In this case, I directed my searching to Florence’s maternal grandparents, Joseph F. and Louise Mary (Babicky) Kapl.

Circus Elephant Story

But Never Again! Says Keeper Kapl of Minnie, Plain Dealer newspaper article, 23 March 1915

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 23 March 1915, page 4

The next item I found brought me to a stop. The first “hit” (of 31) in Historical Newspapers on Joseph Kapl, Florence’s grandfather, was a real keeper. Zookeeper that is! Not only was there a full newspaper article on this man, but there was a story, a terrific ink drawing of Joseph (so far the only picture anyone in the family has of him), and the unique story of how he was nearly trampled to death by Minnie, the lone elephant at Cleveland’s Brookfield Zoo, where Joseph happened to be Minnie’s keeper. Very kindly, the newspaper reporter even thought to list Joseph’s home address in the article, which matches spot-on with the 1920 United States Census listing for the Kottershall family.

Between the obituary for Dr. Kottershall and the wonderful circus elephant story with Joseph Kapl these newspaper articles gave me the exact threads I was seeking—ones that allow me to weave a bit of what the real lives of my ancestors were like into the quilt of our family history that I am still laboring over.

Ah, but what a labor of love it is!

Search More than 30 Baltimore, Maryland, Newspapers Online!

GenealogyBank is growing: we now have over 30 Baltimore, Maryland, newspapers online.

One of the original 13 colonies, Maryland has a long, rich history full of interesting facts and stories about our American ancestors. Since Baltimore is the largest city in the state of Maryland, there are many local newspapers from the “Charm City.” These local city papers give you extensive coverage to research your Baltimore ancestry from the American Colonial period up to the present day.

Here is the complete list of GenealogyBank’s Baltimore newspapers.

City Title Date Range Collection
Baltimore Sun 5/17/1837 – 12/31/1922 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Baltimore American 1/1/1903 – 12/31/1922 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Baltimore Patriot 12/28/1812 – 12/31/1834 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Federal Gazette 1/1/1796 – 11/8/1823 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Federal Republican 7/4/1808 – 6/20/1812 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser 1/2/1826 – 1/27/1838 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore American and Commercial Daily Advertiser 1/31/1801 – 12/30/1820 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Federal Intelligencer 10/30/1794 – 12/30/1795 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Maryland Journal 8/20/1773 – 1/16/1797 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Republican 1/1/1802 – 1/14/1804 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Baltimore Daily Intelligencer 10/28/1793 – 10/29/1794 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore North American 1/11/1808 – 12/31/1808 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Mechanic’s Gazette; and Merchants Daily Advertiser 3/14/1815 – 9/13/1815 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Baltimore Evening Post 7/13/1792 – 9/30/1793 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Baltimore Price-Current 2/14/1803 – 12/30/1820 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Baltimore Bulletin 4/20/1872 – 9/23/1876 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore American 5/18/1799 – 3/1/1802 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Dunlap’s Maryland Gazette 5/2/1775 – 1/5/1779 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Democratic Republican 3/17/1802 – 8/13/1802 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore American Farmer 4/2/1819 – 12/29/1820 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Afro-American 4/29/1893 – 3/26/1898 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Edward’s Baltimore Daily Advertiser 10/29/1793 – 11/15/1794 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Commonwealth 7/24/1915 – 9/4/1915 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Race Standard 1/2/1897 – 1/16/1897 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore American Citizen 4/19/1879 – 4/19/1879 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Recorder, or, Summary of Foreign, Domestic, and Literary Intelligence 6/16/1810 – 6/16/1810 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Palladium of Freedom 8/8/1787 – 8/8/1787 Historical Newspapers
Baltimore Baltimore Guide 3/25/2009 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Baltimore Baltimore Messenger 2/13/2001 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Baltimore Sun 10/1/1990 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Baltimore City Paper 1/14/2004 – Current Newspaper Obituaries

Search More than 80 Minnesota Newspapers Online!

GenealogyBank continues to grow, adding more content daily to our newspaper archives. For genealogists researching their family history in Minnesota, we now have over 80 newspapers online from the “North Star State.”

That’s a lot of papers to research your genealogy with!

Our Minnesota archives include both old and recent newspaper titles, dating from the 1800s up to today.

Our MN historical newspaper archives cover 1849-1923, providing thousands of birth, marriage and death notices, as well as local news stories, to help with your family history research.

Our MN recent obituaries titles provide Minnesota death notices from 1986-Today.

Here is the complete list of GenealogyBank’s Minnesota newspapers.

City Title Date Range Collection
Albany Stearns – Morrison Enterprise 7/18/2005 – 1/12/2011 Recent Obituaries
Apple Valley Apple Valley – Rosemount Sun-Current 2/22/2011 – 3/6/2012 Recent Obituaries
Brooklyn Center Brooklyn Center Sun-Post 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Brooklyn Park Brooklyn Park Sun-Post 1/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Burnsville Burnsville Sun-Current 2/22/2010 – 3/6/2012 Recent Obituaries
Champlin, Dayton Champlin – Dayton Press 8/15/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chanhassen Chanhassen Villager 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chaska Chaska Herald 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cloquet Pine Journal 5/17/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Coon Rapids Blaine – Spring Lake Park Sun-Focus 2/6/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Crookston Crookston Daily Times 2/13/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Crow River South Crow River News – Rockford Area News Leader 11/21/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Crystal, Robbinsdale Crystal – Robbinsdale Sun-Post 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Delano Delano Eagle 7/26/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Duluth Budgeteer News 6/9/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Duluth Duluth Daily News 7/2/1887 – 9/4/1892 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Duluth News Tribune 1/1/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Duluth Duluth News-Tribune 5/16/1881 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Duluth Weekly Tribune 1/6/1876 – 8/18/1887 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Lake Superior News 7/4/1878 – 1/27/1881 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Minnesotian-Herald 4/24/1869 – 5/11/1878 Newspaper Archives
Eagan Eagan Sun-Current 2/16/2011 – 3/6/2012 Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Bloomington Sun-Current 2/22/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Eden Prairie News 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Eden Prairie Sun-Current 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Plymouth Sun-Sailor 1/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Richfield Sun-Current 1/25/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie St. Louis Park Sun-Sailor 2/9/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Edina Edina Sun-Current 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Excelsior Excelsior – Shorewood Sun-Sailor 1/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grand Rapids Grand Rapids Herald-Review 1/10/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Granite Falls Advocate Tribune 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hibbing Hibbing Daily Tribune 6/2/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hopkins Hopkins Sun-Sailor 1/11/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hutchinson Hutchinson Leader 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
International Falls Journal 8/25/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Jordan Jordan Independent 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lakeville Lakeville Sun-Current 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Litchfield Litchfield Independent Review 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mankato Free Press 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Melrose Melrose Beacon 7/18/2005 – 1/13/2011 Recent Obituaries
Minneapolis Afro-American Advance 5/27/1899 – 11/17/1900 Newspaper Archives
Minneapolis Columbia Heights – Fridley Sun-Focus 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Minneapolis Minneapolis Journal 1/1/1895 – 12/31/1900 Newspaper Archives
Minneapolis Minneapolis Tidende 10/18/1895 – 12/28/1900 Newspaper Archives
Minneapolis Star Tribune 1/21/1986 – Current Recent Obituaries
Minnetonka Minnetonka Sun-Sailor 1/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Montevido Montevideo American-News 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monticello Monticello Times 11/29/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mound Laker 1/7/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mounds View Mounds View – New Brighton – St. Anthony Sun-Focus 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Hope New Hope – Golden Valley Sun-Post 1/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Osseo, Maple Grove Osseo – Maple Grove Press 7/28/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Prior Lake Prior Lake American 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redwood Falls Redwood Falls Gazette 10/3/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sartell Sartell Newsleader 10/14/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Savage Savage Pacer 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Shakopee Shakopee Valley News 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sleepy Eye Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. James St. James Plaindealer 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Joseph St. Joseph Newsleader 1/4/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Michael North Crow River News 4/17/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Paul Appeal 2/7/1903 – 11/24/1923 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul Broad Axe 9/17/1891 – 6/11/1903 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul Negro World 3/10/1900 – 6/9/1900 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul St. Paul Daily Pioneer 9/23/1854 – 12/31/1857 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul St. Paul Daily Press 1/2/1868 – 12/29/1872 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul St. Paul Pioneer 4/28/1849 – 1/20/1853 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul St. Paul Pioneer Press 3/25/1988 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Paul Sun Newspapers 1/10/2001 – 2/24/2010 Recent Obituaries
St. Paul Western Appeal 6/13/1885 – 12/29/1888 Newspaper Archives
Stillwater Stillwater Gazette 11/13/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Two Harbors Lake County News-Chronicle 5/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Mesabi Daily News 3/17/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waconia Carver County News 8/4/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waconia Pioneer 2/4/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waconia Waconia Patriot 8/3/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walker Pilot-Independent 12/18/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wayzata Wayzata – Orono – Long Lake Sun-Sailor 9/9/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Winona Winona Daily News 5/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Young America Norwood Young America Times 1/5/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries

How to Find Your Ancestors’ Church Records

Church records can be a terrific resource for your genealogy research. But if you’re not sure what church your ancestors attended, how do you know what church records to look for?

The denominations that families attended may have changed over the years. In some faith traditions, like Catholics and Mormons, it is important that the members of the church be baptized and married by the clergy of that church—so it is likely that your ancestors in those faith traditions made the effort to travel to the closest church within that denomination. In other faith traditions families may have felt some flexibility in which denomination they attended, often based on proximity or the appeal of a local pastor or congregation.

In looking for church records about your ancestors, start with the faith tradition of your parents and grandparents. Chances are that the family has attended the same church for multiple generations. But—there wasn’t always a Presbyterian or Baptist church in every town.

When I was growing up in Lower Gilmanton, New Hampshire, there was only one church in town: a Congregational church. It seemed then that every small town had a Congregational church. So, if you wanted to attend church in Lower Gilmanton, you either went to the local Congregational church or made a trip to Barnstead, Belmont, Pittsfield, or any of the other towns in the area that had a church of the denomination you were more comfortable with.

In the early 1960s a group of Baptists was organized in Lower Gilmanton and they wanted to meet in the Congregational church. It was agreed that they would rent it and hold religious services on Sunday afternoons. In this case two denominations shared the same building.

Genealogy Search Tip: Check the records of all of the churches in the area where your ancestors lived. Be flexible—just as they were—because they may have attended multiple churches during their lives. Since it was common for couples not of the same faith to marry, it is possible to find, for example, that the Methodist groom was married to the Baptist bride at the area Baptist church—and then, when they moved west to settle in Kansas, they attended the Congregational church.

Today in History: Bizarre Yet Brilliant Inventor Nikola Tesla Born

Happy Birthday Nikola Tesla!

When most people think about an electrical genius who was a master inventor, they think of Thomas Edison. However, when Edison was working his magic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries he had a rival who was every bit his equal in brains if not lasting fame: Nikola Tesla. Today marks the 156th anniversary of Nikola Tesla’s birth on July 10, 1856. In remembrance and celebration of Tesla’s legacy on his birthday we explore his uncommon life.

A Brief Biography of Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla was born in the village of Smiljan, present-day Croatia, but became an American citizen. In his eventful 86-year life Tesla proved to be a real wizard of electricity: he perfected alternating current (AC) electrical power; made breakthroughs in radar, X-rays and robotics; invented the Tesla coil; and made many important discoveries that justify calling him the “father of modern radio.”

Unquestionably a genius, Tesla spoke eight languages fluently. He experienced astonishing visions in which he saw inventions so clearly that every detail was already sharp in his mind before he ever set them down on paper. At the height of his fame the public marveled at his inventions and recognized him as the equal of fellow inventor Thomas Edison.

Sadly, that fame was not to last. As he aged he became increasingly strange, with ever-more bizarre behavior. He was obsessed by many things, including pigeons and a deathly fear of dirt. The number 3 haunted him: for example, he always walked around a block three times before entering any building. The public lost its fascination with him, and his life ended without acquiring the lasting fame that Thomas Edison enjoys to this day.

Nikola Tesla died broke and all alone in a New York City hotel room on Jan. 7, 1943. Despite making more than 700 inventions in his lifetime and many of science’s most important breakthroughs, he died deeply in debt, unnoticed and forgotten—perhaps the archetype of the “mad scientist.”

He may have been bizarre, but Tesla was not crazy—and many of the devices and procedures we use today sprang from the mind of this baffling, incredibly inventive man.

Tesla's Latest: The Electrician Illustrates Three New Discoveries, Plain Dealer, 9 April 1897

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 9 April 1897, page 8

Published in the Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 9 April 1897, page 8.

The above old newspaper article was written when Tesla enjoyed great renown.

The article begins: “After many months of silence, Nikola Tesla spoke night before last at the Academy of Science, and, as always happens on such occasions, the scientific knowledge of the world was the richer thereby. Mr. Tesla, without going deeply into the details of his methods, announced three discoveries he has made, and gave practical illustrations of them. One will revolutionize the present methods of electric lighting, will exert a tremendous influence upon a hundred different things, and will open to the investigator an infinite number of highways of research, and will end, Mr. Tesla says, in bringing about that sought-for end of all electricians: the transmission of information through space without the agency of wires now needed.”

A collection of old newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s historical newspaper archives, provides tremendous information to help with your family history research—and also contains stories about the times and leading figures that influenced your ancestors’ lives such as this remarkable inventor. You can explore thousands of articles to learn more about the curious life of Nikola Tesla in our online archives.

Civil War Find: The “Fighting” 1st Tennessee Cavalry’s Reunion

The nice thing about newspapers is that they record everything that happens: births, deaths, and everything in-between. A lot of that “in-between stuff” are the stories of our ancestors’ lives that help us get to know them better.

In general, Americans are a social people. We form groups, make plans, organize, and hold meetings. Milestones are often celebrated with anniversary gatherings and reunions.

Fighting First, Reunion of the First Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, Knoxville Daily Journal, 01 September 1895

Knoxville Daily Journal (Knoxville, Tennessee), 1 September 1895, page 13

These reunions—like the ninth annual reunion of the First Tennessee Cavalry held in 1895—were reported in the local newspaper.

Here is one such reunion story about a gathering of former veterans from that famed Tennessee Civil War regiment that fought in the Union army. This long newspaper article was published in the Knoxville Daily Journal (Knoxville, Tennessee), 1 September 1895, page 13.

This historical news article covers the basics, such as the names of the Tennessee regiment’s officers and the order of the activities in the meeting.

Reading down the article, we find that the “secretary was ordered to prepare a complete roster of the survivors of the regiment, together with rank and post office address.”

Great! Note to self: track down a copy of that roster.

The last half of the old newspaper article is a “very brief history of the First Tennessee Cavalry.” This historical news article provides great genealogical information we can use to trace our military ancestry, gives a glimpse into these Tennessee Union soldiers’ lives, and provides some Civil War history.

brief history of the Civil War's 1st Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, Knoxville Daily Journal, 01 September 1895

Knoxville Daily Journal (Knoxville, Tennessee), 1 September 1895, page 13

Genealogy Search Tip: Did your ancestor serve in the Civil War or other American wars? Then search in GenealogyBank’s historical newspaper archives for newspaper articles and military records about the unit your veteran ancestor served with: its campaigns, reunions, history, etc.

Newspapers are packed with the stories of our ancestors’ lives.

Upcoming BYU Family History & Genealogy Conference in Utah

Throw a dart at a map and you’ll find a genealogy meeting pretty much every week of the year.

One of the key upcoming conferences is the 44th Annual Conference on Family History & Genealogy, held on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah. If you’d like to attend this year’s event here are the BYU conference details:

Conference Dates: July 31 to August 3, 2012

Website: http://ce.byu.edu/cw/cwgen/

Phone number: 1-801-422-4853

The theme of this year’s genealogy conference will be “Strengthening the ties that bind families together through family history.” It will offer classes for genealogists of all skill levels.

Noncredit registration for the four-day family history event, including a CD syllabus, is $180. Family history consultants will receive a $25 discount on general conference registration. The for-credit cost for the conference (including two credits of History 481R—Family History-Directed Research—and a CD syllabus) is $440. To register, call 1-877-221-6716 or visit http://ce.byu.edu/cw/cwgen/

Key BYU Conference Speakers

  • Richard E. Turley, Jr.: under his direction, FamilySearch.org was launched in May 1999.
  • John Titford: English writer, broadcaster and genealogical consultant.
  • Rod DeGiulio: Director of FamilySearch data operations.

These conference classes will explore: family trees, FamilySearch, international research, German research, youth and genealogy, computers and technology, and methodology.

Two hands-on workshops will be offered. A “German Gothic Handwriting Workshop,” taught by Warren Bittner, will be held from 9:45 a.m.–noon Tuesday. Participants will learn to decipher the German Gothic handwriting used on many genealogical records in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Scandinavia.

The second hands-on workshop, “Building a Genealogy Website” held on Tuesday from 1:30 to 5 p.m., will teach participants how to make their research available to the world by creating their own family history website using Google Sites. It will be taught by Rebecca Smith, Noel Coleman and Hannah Allan.

GenealogyWallCharts.com is offering conference attendees a free black-and-white fan chart of their family trees. To take advantage of this offer, order the chart online and then pick it up at the conference at no charge.

Men’s and women’s housing, which includes lunch each day of the genealogy conference, is available on the BYU campus for $100. Conference participants who are not staying in BYU campus housing can buy a $25 lunch card that covers hot lunches, a salad bar, drinks and dessert at the Morris Center each day of the conference.

1940 Census Taker Doesn’t Let 3 Vicious Dogs & 50 Stitches Stop Her

It was a sunny day in Sonoma, California, on April 6, 1940, and census taker Alice Davis was off on her rounds enumerating the people of Sonoma, California, for the permanent record of the 1940 U.S. census. Little did she know that she was about to become “the first census-taker casualty in northern California.”

Three Dogs Attack Woman Census Taker, San Diego Union 7 April 1940

San Diego Union (San Diego, California), 7 April 1940, page 11

As this old news article reports: “The enumerator was attacked by three large Airedale dogs when she attempted to take the tab at the Sonoma home of Carl Bergfried, retired San Francisco merchant.

“Bergfried, who was not at home at the time, returned to find Mrs. Davis battling valiantly against the enraged animals. He took her to Ferndale sanatorium where 50 stitches were required to close her wounds.”

Published in the San Diego Union (San Diego, California), 7 April 1940, page 11.

The determined Alice completed the enumeration, and Carl Bergfried and his wife Ida were recorded in the 1940 census. But the formal, dry federal census pages do not tell us of the sacrifice that Alice Davis made that day.

1940 census form for Carl Bergfried of Sonoma, California

1940 census form for Carl & Ida Bergfried of Sonoma, California

1940 Census. Sonoma, California. FamilySearch.org https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-27793-626-28?cc=2000219&wc=MMRS-PP1:786740582

Fortunately, the census enumerator’s story was recorded in the pages of a local newspaper. And thanks to GenealogyBank the pages of the San Diego Union have been indexed, digitized and put online—so we can learn that despite three vicious dogs and 50 stitches, Alice Davis saw it through and got the job done.

When doing your family history research, don’t rely just on the data provided by census and other government records. To really get to know something about your ancestors’ lives and the times they lived in, read their stories in the millions of newspaper articles contained in GenealogyBank’s historical newspaper archives.