Past Newsletters

Past Newsletters

Volume 45 #7

 November, 2017

  GSSI Archives October Member Meeting





Mr. Ed O’Day, GSSI Archivist, introduced us to the records housed at the GSSI archive room.  The main reason for the archive was to document the societies activities.  But as our members are growing older, we were given their research for safe keeping.

Walking into the archive room, you are met with numerous notebooks and binders full of family histories.  And there is a binder listing what is available for your research.

The file cabinets are filled with all of the records from Dee Fozzard’s many years of researching, for the public. Contained in her records are photo copies of

Williamson County Death Records from 1916 to 1950.

As Ed opened a file drawer, he pulled out what used to be an old three ring black

binder.  This is the records of Caplinger/O’Neal families.  The handwritten history looks like it was dictated from a grandfather to grandson, maybe in the 1930’s.  Also of great interest is the diploma and awards from Emeline Cook a Herrin High School graduate in1914, all rolled up in a nice leather case.  Some of which might be sheep skin.

And another archive find was original land deeds from Union County 1839-1890.

It is so interesting to read the old handwriting on these documents!

The GSSI archives have family information that might be of interest to you.  To inquire contact Mr. Ed O’Day at


Union County News

P.A.S.T. "Silver and Gold" Holiday Luncheons

102 S. Main, Jonesboro, IL  62959

December 7,8,9, and 13,14,15,16.  Call 618-833-3347 or 618-713-7707/  or email by Dec. 1.  $20.00 each.

Doors open 11:30 and Lunch @12:00.  Only 24 seats available each day!


Lindell Barrell passed away Saturday, November 4, 2017.  Lin was a GSSI

Board member and SAGA editor from 2012 -2017.  Our condolences go out to

his family and friends.  He will be greatly missed.

Help Wanted!!!

GSSI is in need of your help.  The following appointed positions need to be filled for the 2018 year.

Second Vice President, Genealogist, Librarian, Membership, Publications, Parliamentarian and Editor of the SAGA.  If you would like to help, email President Jackie Lyell at


FINDING SCOTISH ANCESTORS ONLINE: January 9 2018, presented by Nancy Loe

ILLINOIS DIGITAL RESOURCES: February 13, 2018, presented by Tina Beaird


Visit to register.

Now is the time to renew your membership!  It is as simple as going to the section on our website! 

Volume 45  #6

August 2017

2017 GSSI Annual Conference Highlights

The day began with our member meeting and the selection of GSSI Board members.  Elected are:

Jackie LaRue Lyell       –  President

Phil Stucker                –  1st Vice President

OPEN                          -- 2nd Vice President

Julia Mowery               – Recording Secretary

Rosemary Mathis        – Corresponding Secretary

Gloria Cravens Spinks  – Treasurer

Joy Whitson Upton      – Member at Large

Linda Gale Mathis       – Director 2017-2019

Michael Spinks            – Director 2017-2019

Phil Stucker                 – Past President


 A large enthusiastic group of genealogists were treated to a day of learning, shopping and laughter.  The Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois was pleased to present guest speaker, Mark Lowe who presented a great four-part lecture on the pattern of migration on the road west. We were reminded that to be a good genealogist you must be knowledgeable of our countries’ history. That will give you clues to why your ancestors chose to move, how they traveled, and what they might have encountered along the way.

Mark suggested using Federal Records, Vital Statistics, Current deeds, surveys, federal land records, tax lists, personal property laws, Homestead Act, and the list goes on. He also provided us with numerous web sites and other resources, to help us with our research.   And he reminds us that you can find your information by using “CLUES” “Create a Profile, Link your ancestor & neighbors, Understand the Neighborhood, Examine each piece of evidence, Support your ideas with a research plan.”

During the breaks, there was time to shop with the vendors at the Book Fair. And there was also time, after our yummy lunch, to explore the GSSI Library. We look forward to next year!






Next GSSI Member Meeting 

Saturday October 14, 2017

1:00 P.M.

GSSI Archives

Cambria Community Center

302 S. Richart St.

Cambria, IL  62915

Speaker, Ed O’Day, GSSI Archivist

Mr. O’Day will present a program informing members of the resources in the GSSI Archive.  Hope you can attend to investigate the Archive for yourself!

Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) 

You might be acquainted with this great southern Illinois research facility.  IRAD at Southern Illinois University has collections for the following Illinois counties:

Alexander, Clinton, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Massac, Monroe, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, St. Clair, Saline, Union, Washington, White, and Williamson.

Finding out what county records are there is as easy as a click, call, or mail. Find out what records they hold by searching their web page.  The URL is They welcome mail and telephone requests for research help.

Illinois Regional Archives Depository, c/o Special Collections Morris Library – 6632, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL  62901-6632

Telephone: 618-453-3040

If you are visiting, the depository is not at Morris Library. So, when calling, ask for directions and copy fees.

Fall into Genealogy with New Classes!

If you are looking for classes to get your jump start into genealogy, John A. Logan’s new Continuing Education program has several classes that may spark your interest.  Genealogy classes range from basic or beginner’s level to those interested in DNA genealogy and 23 & Me.  Whether you are new to genealogy or just need to re-start your research, or want to know the latest in DNA genealogy there is a class for you.

Many classes are held on the campus of John A. Logan, others are held in Du Quoin or Carbondale.  Day or evening sections are available.

PS 021   Genealogy for Beginners, on Main Campus

PS 056   Genealogy Basic—bring your laptop or tablet for this course, off campus

PS 448   Genealogy for Beginners, off campus

PS 246    DNA & Genealogy, use of 23andme website and free programs, main campus & off campus

For specific information on dates/times/instructors, please use the following link:

There are some variations between the printed catalog that was mailed to residents AND the above link.  I would follow the above LINK to be sure.

Or call Continuing Education at 618 985-2828, ext. 8248.   Deadline for early registration is September 1 at 4 p.m.

On line registration is very simple if you use the PS number listed by the course and have a credit card.

Submitted by: Leann Johnson

Writing Your Story 

If you are familiar with writing your life story, this will be a cinch!  If not, the recent solar eclipse is a great beginning.

While it is still fresh in your mind, write a couple pages of your solar eclipse experience.   Your story could start with your location.  Did you have to work?  Or were you able to relax with family and friends?  How was the traffic in your town?  How did this event effect your community?  How did you feel watching the event?  Include those fun solar eclipse glasses, too.

Remember you are interesting!  You can do it!  Good Luck!

Tennessee Genealogical Society Fall DNA Seminar

Presents Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL

Debbie is the co-author with Blaine T. Bettinger of the award-winning DNA workbook, Genetic Genealogy in Practice, published by the National Genealogical Society (NGS).

When:  October 28, 2017:  8:00 a.m.

Where: Pickering Center, 7771 Poplar Pike, Germantown, TN  38138

Register at:

See you at the October Meeting!!!

Volume 45 #5

July, 2017

There is still time to  Register by August 1, if you would like to participate in the Conference Luncheon.

2017 Family History Conference and Book Fair

co-sponsored by

The Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois and John A. Logan College

Saturday, August 12, 2017  8:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.

Ray Hancock Conference Center John A. Logan College Route 13 & Greenbriar Road, Carterville, IL

Featured Speaker:

Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA

Professional Genealogist, Columnist and Teacher

Mark Lowe has been researching families for more than 40 years. He grew up in Tennessee with extensive family roots in Kentucky. He has traveled extensively in both states and enjoys sharing his love of genealogy and the joy of research with others including some historic reenacting. Mark's family history in two states and knowledge of the interaction of citizens along borders helps him resolve difficult issues using often overlooked records. As a national and regional speaker, he has brought these areas of expertise along with his unique humor and southern style to many diverse audiences.

Lowe was President of the of the Association of Professional Genealogists and is former Vice President and Secretary of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.  In the process of teaching others, Mark builds his own skills and insight for research. His experience as a Classroom Teacher, Principal and Professional Researcher provides a different perspective for each research problem.  He has published articles in numerous genealogical journals, including The National Genealogical Society Quarterly, The North Carolina Genealogical Society Quarterly, The Longhunter, and The Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society Quarterly. His book publications include Robertson County Tennessee Marriage Book 2, 1859-1873 and Pioneer Cemetery (Bowling Green, KY.)

Lowe's instructions about "Tracking that Pre-1850 Ancestor" were very well received at the 2011 GSSI Fall Conference.  Don't miss his return to Southern Illinois in 2017 with entirely new topics.

Tennessee, the Road to the West (9:00 am)

Learn about the wonderful records that exist for genealogists researching Tennessee. Record types and examples will be discussed and presented. Case studies will be included for further discussion.

Land Barons or Dirt Farmers: Finding Land Transactions (10:30 am)

Following the land will often identify the Ancestor and family. Learn how to trace an individual through property records and how to trace a specific property.

Finding Your Landless Ancestors (1:15 pm)

Since land is the key in many ancestral discoveries, tracking those individuals who did not own land often becomes a daunting task. Learn to use Trust Deed Chattels and Tax Release Books to help locate those individuals without deeds and estates.

Over the Mountain, Across the Plains… Using Electronic Records to Trace Our Ancestors (2:45 pm)

Your ancestors moved westward, now follow them as they move back east. Knowing where to look for valuable records will reward you with insights and research plans.

Annual Member Meeting

The GSSI Annual Meeting and Board Member selection will begin at 8:30 a.m. right before the Conference day begins.  The following list is the slate of proposed

GSSI Board Members for 2018.  Nominations will also be taken from the floor.

             2018 Proposed Board Members

President…………………………Jackie LaRue Lyell

1st Vice President………………. Phil Stucker

2nd Vice President………………OPEN

Recording Secretary……………Julia Mowery

Corresponding Secretary………Rosemary Mathis

Treasurer…………………………Gloria Cravens Spinks

Member at Large…………………Joy Whitson Upton

Director 2017-2019.………………Linda Gale Mathis

Director 2017-2019………………Mike Spinks

Director 2016-2018………………Dusty Renee Boner

Director 2016-2018……………… Don Riggin

Director 2018-2020……….………Melodie Penrod

Director 2018-2020………………Dorothy Clutts Rudoni

Past President……………………Phil Stucker

June Meeting Wrap-up 

Randolph County History 

Emily Lyons presented a lively overview of Randolph County history from the 17th Century French incursion and   cooperation with Indians, through the reach of the Catholic Church and the economic and social development of Kaskaskia, first capital of Illinois.  Important themes were Jesuit leadership, the prosperous rise of French settlers, and the impact of the Mississippi River's change in course.

Illinois State History began in Kaskaskia.  In addition to being the first State Capital, Kaskaskia served as the first County Seat of St. Claire (1770) and first County Seat of Randolph (1775). Lyons shared a series of historic maps detailing paths of immigration, changes in the Mississippi, and the location of settlements.  Handouts included sources for researchers in the area of history and genealogy.  Chester, present Randolph County Seat, was an interesting destination for GSSI members and guests on sunny June 10.

The beautiful Chester Public Library was an interesting site for the GSSI meeting and nearby Reid's Restaurant provided post-program refreshments.

See the GSSI website for information about the next meeting in August at John A. Logan College in Carterville.

Submitted by Dorothy Rudoni

Upcoming Webinars

Illinois State Genealogical Society

Ten Years is a Long Time: Census Substitutes for the In-Between Years   

August 8, 2017, presented by Amy Johnson Crow, CG


Luxembourgers on the Prairie: Researching your Luxembourg Ancestors

September 12, 2017, presented by Lisa Oberg

Visit their website at for more detailed information on the webinars.

Williamson County Court House Research

Are you interested in records which are housed at the Williamson County

Court House?  The following link will greatly help you on your search.


Volume 45 #4

May 2017

Chester Public Library


Saturday June 10, 2017

1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Chester Public Library

Chester, IL

Randolph County Research 

Emily Lyons, retired educator and community leader, will discuss Randolph County history and the many resources there, for genealogical research on June 10 at the Chester Public Library. The 1:00 p.m. program will be sponsored by the Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois. Lyons is a descendant of early French settlers in Kaskaskia, and has long been involved in planning the annual historic Fourth of July celebration on the island. Active in many heritage groups, she has an Award for Outstanding Work in Historical Preservation from the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Her great knowledge of historical records makes her “the go to source” for genealogists and those who which to learn about early Illinois history. In addition to the charm of the beautiful Chester Library, Reid’s Restaurant and other attractions offer entertainment for those who take the scenic route to Chester to hear Ms. Lyons.

Chester Public Library, 733 State St., Chester, IL 62233. Phone: 618-826-3711


Submitted by: Dorothy Rudoni

2017 Family History Conference and Book Fair

 co-sponsored by

The Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois and John A. Logan College

Saturday, August 12, 2017  8:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.

Ray Hancock Conference Center John A. Logan College Route 13 & Greenbriar Road, Carterville, IL

Featured Speaker:

Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA

According to his website, "J Mark Lowe describes himself ad a lifelong genealogist.  He is a full-time professional genealogist, author, and lecturer who specializes in original records and manuscripts throughout the South.  Mark lives in Robertson County, Tennessee just north of Nashville near the Kentucky border.

Mark enjoys opportunities to share what he has learned over the years.  He serves as the Course Coordinator for 'Research in the South' at IGHR (Samford University), and also directs a Southern Course of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG).  Mark has worked on several genealogical television series including African American Lives 2, Who Do You Think You Are? and UnXplained Events.

Mark has published in the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ), National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), the Genealogical Speakers' Guild SPEAK!, The Longhunter (So. KY Genealogical Society), The Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society Quarterly and local society publications.  His own publications include Robertson County Tennessee Marriage Book 2 1859-1873.  He formerly was the President of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), President for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and Vice President of the Genealogical Speakers Gild (GSG).  He is the former President of the Southern Kentucky Genealogical Society.  Mark is a Certified Genealogist and a Fellow of the Utah Genealogical Society, and was awarded the Graham T. Smallwood award by the Association of Professional Genealogists."

You can now register on the GSSI website!

Hurry, space will be limited with this popular speaker!

Notes from the May DNA Seminar 

I hope you were able to attend! A large group had pen-in-hand, writing helpful notes from the great information presented by Joy Whitson Upton.

If you have had a DNA test done, or are considering doing a test, this seminar helped to explain the process. From choosing a testing company to explaining DNA terms. Keeping a DNA pedigree chart, Y-DNA haplogroup Migration, mtDNA, and X-DNA Inheritance Chart – Female Focus Person were just some of the topics discussed.

Our sincere thanks to Joy for a great and informative afternoon, on such an interesting subject!

GSSI Website Publications 

In the late 1990’s GSSI published a ten-volume set of 2000 Ancestor Charts submitted by members of the Society at that time. We are proud and excited to announce that surname indexes to each of the ten volumes are now published on line. The 61 pages of surnames added to this website list more than 12,500 individuals associated with Southern Illinois families. Anyone researching an ancestor who lived in one of the twenty-eight southernmost counties of Illinois should be sure to consult this invaluable resource.

To access and browse the indexes go to the Publications page and scroll down to Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois Ancestor Charts. Members may purchase any of the volumes at only $5.00 each. Non-members are asked to add $4.00 postage and handling for each volume ordered.

Submitted by Ed O’Day, Webpage Manager

GSSI Collection, JALC Library, Carterville

Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois Library 

Have you taken advantage of the GSSI Genealogy Library, within the library at John A. Logan College?

The genealogy library contains information on New England, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Jackson Purchase, and Missouri. In Illinois, we have books covering the counties of Alexander, Bond, Edwards, Effingham, Fayette, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Macom, Macoupin, Madison, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Richland, St. Claire, Taswell, Union Washington, White, and Williamson.   There Is also books on Illinois Census’, Illinois County History, Ancestor Charts, and Family Histories.

The GSSI Genealogy Library is open during John A. Logan College hours.

The Summer hours are:

Monday – Thursday: 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Friday – Sunday: Closed

Summer is a great time to get out and explore the cemeteries and research facilities, for those elusive family members!  If you are a GSSI member and you get stuck or have a research question, feel free to contact our GSSI Genealogist, Rhonda Hagston. Email her at


Genealogy:  Where you confuse the dead and irritate the living - Unknown

Volume 45 #3

April 2017

Tuesday, April 25 ,2017, is National DNA Day! 

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) celebrates the April 2003 completion of the Human Genome project and finding the double helix of DNA in 1953.  Take a look at all of the discounted DNA tests that are being offered by the top testing companies.  Deals are on until the 25th.  This is the time to take advantage of this fantastic discovery!  And if you are still undecided, and are not sure of this new form of exploring your genealogy, sign up for the GSSI May DNA Seminar!!

GSSI May Quarterly Seminar
Saturday, May 13, 2017
1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
John A. Logan College
Carterville, IL  62918

Joy Whitson Upton, Genealogist and Librarian, will present a workshop on DNA and Genealogy.  Joy has taught DNA and Genealogy courses at JALC since 2012 and has presented workshops on the rapidly developing topic, throughout the state, under the auspices of the Illinois State Organization, NSDAR,  Currently she teaches classes at Carterville and Du Quoin focusing on free internet sites, which are helpful for genetic-genealogy researchers.  Ms. Upton's students marvel at her ability to take a complex subject understandable and to help researchers whatever their level of knowledge.

Trained as a librarian, Ms. Upton holds an MA in Library Science,  She served as librarian on the high school and college level during her teaching career  Upon "retirement" she devoted ever more effort to genealogical and family research.    She has served as President of the Illinois State Genealogical Society and the Du Quoin Public Library Board, and ahs been Illinois State DAR Librarian.  She has served in several capacities for GSSI, including Librarian and Board Member.

Her May 13 "DNA and Genealogy Workshop", sponsored by GSSI, is free and open to the public.  It will be held in room F119.  Prospective participants are urged to register at, so a sufficient number of handouts will be available.  Pre-registration is suggested, but not required.

Submitted by Dorothy Rudoni

Local historian and author, Darrel Dexter, has written a new book, “Pioneer Sketches of Union County, Illinois”, printed by the P.A.S.T. organization. The 200-plus page book is an edited and annotated update of the one he published in 1986. Dexter has used articles written by Dr. Sidney Smith Condon that were originally published in a weekly series in the Jonesboro Gazette, 1871.

Dexter has added pictures and many, many footnotes from Darrel’s vast knowledge and years of research on Union County and the genealogy of the early families. He is the author of over 30 historical and genealogy books and teaches history at Egyptian School in Tamms, Illinois.

The book is dedicated in memory of Geneva Wiggs, the beloved local photographer, who shared many of her historical photos with Darrel. Through a donation from LuAnn McGinnis of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and the help of many other “Friends of the P.A.S.T.”, it is hoped this book will appropriately lead into the 2018 Bicentennial Commemorations of Union County, Jonesboro, and the state of Illinois.

A book signing reception will be held at the Stinson Memorial Library in Anna on Sunday, April 30th at 2pm. (Please enter through downstairs side door.) Besides welcoming Darrel Dexter to say a few words about his research, the P.A.S.T. organization will honor Ms. McGinnis, who has roots in this area and who spurred the publishing of the book, as well as Mary Kay and Billie Kaye Hamlin, daughters of Mrs. Wiggs.

The fascinating book will be available for $25 at the reception, may be purchased at “This N’ That” Flea Market on South Main St., Anna, or at the P.A.S.T. Heritage House in Jonesboro. Also, books may be ordered by sending a check for $25.00 made to “P.A.S.T.” and mailed to Linda Hileman, 1370 Kaolin Rd., Cobden, IL   62920. Please add $3.00 to the amount of your check if you would like the book mailed to you.

Summer fun is coming!  

Mark your calendar.  On Saturday, June 10, GSSI will meet at the Chester Public Library for a program on GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH IN RANDOLPH COUNTY presented by Emily Lyons, area historian and retired educator.  Emily, who has been honored by the NSDAR for outstanding work in Historical Preservation, is a descendant of early French settlers.  Long active in planning the Fourth of July and other area historical celebrations, she will give an overview of the resources which researchers may find in Chester, Kaskaskia Island and Randolph County.   In addition to the beautiful Chester Library, Reid's Smorgasbord is a notable destination for a June day drive.  The GSSI program is free and open to the public.

2017 Family History Conference and Book Fair

 co-sponsored by

The Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois and John A. Logan College

Saturday, August 12, 2017  8:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.

Ray Hancock Conference Center John A. Logan College Route 13 & Greenbriar Road, Carterville, IL

Featured Speaker:

Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA

You can now register on the GSSI website!

Hurry, space will be limited with this popular speaker!

Need something else to do?  Check out Willard Library Midnight Madness Genealogical Event.  It is 5 days and 5 nights of Research and Workshops.  June 19-23, 2017

Register at their website: then click on "June". or call 812-425-4309.

Did you know?    If you are missing any of your SAGA issues, we have the following sets available.  2000, and 2006 through 2015. Just email us your order.

This year is shaping up to be a great time to research your family lines.  If you are exploring the courthouses, libraries, or investigating cemeteries, remember to make lists to maximize your research time.  And if any member gets stuck, just email us and ask Rhonda, our GSSI Genealogist, for help.  Have Fun and Be Safe!! (And remember the bug spray!)

Volume 45  #2

March-April 2017

GSSI May Quarterly Seminar
Saturday, May 13, 2017
1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
John A. Logan College
Carterville, IL  62918

Joy Whitson Upton, Genealogist and Librarian, will present a workshop on DNA and Genealogy.  Joy has taught DNA and Genealogy courses at JALC since 2012 and has presented workshops on the rapidly developing topic, throughout the state, under the auspices of the Illinois State Organization, NSDAR,  Currently she teaches classes at Carterville and Du Quoin focusing on free internet sites, which are helpful for genetic-genealogy researchers.  Ms. Upton's students marvel at her ability to take a complex subject understandable and to help researchers whatever their level of knowledge.

Trained as a librarian, Ms. Upton holds an MA in Library Science,  She served as librarian on the high school and college level during her teaching career  Upon "retirement" she devoted ever more effort to genealogical and family research.    She has served as President of the Illinois State Genealogical Society and the Du Quoin Public Library Board, and ahs been Illinois State DAR Librarian.  She has served in several capacities for GSSI, including Librarian and Board Member.

Her May 13 "DNA and Genealogy Workshop", sponsored by GSSI, is free and open to the public.  It will be held in room F119.  Prospective participants are urged to register at, so a sufficient number of handouts will be available.

Submitted by Dorothy Rudoni


In December, 2015, Michael McNerney intrigued GSSI members with a discussion of research concerning a distinctive grave marker initially observed in Pope County in 1994.  Subsequently, McNerney traced the "Necked Discoid" (which to some suggests the human form) through southern Illinois to southern and western states.  He found it in Europe and even Africa.  Archeologist McNerney believes the artifact may reveal much about the migration of human beings.  His remarks were well received in 2015 and the audience urged him to return when he had concluded his then forthcoming second book.  Less than a year and half later, A SHAPE IN TIME AND SPACE; THE MIGRATION OF THE NECKED DISCOID GRAVE MARKER: THE ILLINOIS SAMPLE is "at the press."  The author made good on his promise to return to GSSI.  His interesting Power Point presentation on the "Necked Discoid Grave Marker" was well received by the attentive audience.  Some recalled McNerney's appearance on a GSSI panel, organized by Jeanette O'Boyle, at Stone Fort, several years ago.

Despite the considerable body of evidence McNerney has accumulated, and the decades he has invested in research, his enthusiasm for the topic suggests he has not completed his scholarly, investigative work.  His new book will be available on and in April, 2017.

The Genealogy Society of Southern has always provided its members with excellent research help.  Our volunteer researchers have had the opportunity to help members with southern Illinois research.  Now we are happy to announce that our newest volunteer genealogist is Rhonda Hagston.

Rhonda was born and raised in Franklin County and has lived most of her life in southern Illinois. (Except 7 years spent in the Carolinas).  She has been researching her family since the age of 16 but remembers talking to her Granny about it at a much younger age. And she also teaches beginning genealogy classes for John A. Logan College in their Continuing Education program.

And in her words. "I am very excited to join GSSI as their genealogist!"  Email her your queries at:

Rhonda Hagston, GSSI Genealogist

A Note from the Webpage Manager

The main page of the GSSI website has two places that ask for a log in.  This has confused new members and generated appeals for help from other members who have lost their passwords.  Please note - Logging in with a password is not required to view most of the website.  The primary purpose of is to give everyone an opportunity to learn about the society.  Any visitor to the site may join and pay dues on line, order books or CD's, read Newsletters, or register for a conference without logging in.

The purpose of logging in is to give members access to those web pages which are not open to the general public.  Those members-only pages currently include numerous obituaries and death notices from southern Illinois newspapers that are password-protected.  Viewing them and downloading their content is one of the privileges of paid-up membership in GSSI.  Members must log-in to read the obituaries.  In an attempt to make matters more clear, the "Member Login" link in the top right hand corner of the Home Page now reads "Login (for Member-only pages)."

The other place on the Home Page that asks for a Log In is mid-page in the right-hand column.  Members who have forgotten their assigned password should scroll to the bottom of that form and click on "Lost Password."

Using that link will bring up for a new form which asks for your username or email address and explains that after you fill and submit the form you will receive an email with instructions on creating a new password.

If you are a GSSI member and have never logged in to the Society's web page, I urge you to do so now.  You will notice a Welcome message in the space where the Log In box had been located. Opening either "Dashboard" or "Profile" will give access to your GSSI online account.  The "My Account" page is the place to enter or change your mailing address, change the email address that we have on file, check the status of your book or CD order, or change your password.

I hope the above explanation helps make navigating the GSSI website easier, but if anyone still encounters a problem, finds an error on the website, or has a suggestion on how to improve it, please let me know.

Ed O'Day (

Illinois Bicentennial is 2018!

Do you have a story to tell about your family's' migration into the new state of Illinois?

                        Is there a unique family member you would like to write about?

GSSI would like to commemorate this occasion by featuring your stories in our quarterly publication The Saga of Southern Illinois. If you have a good story to tell about your ancestor, whether it be about their growing up in a small town or growing strawberries to sell.  We would like to publish it in THE SAGA for all to read. And just think about how many folks would benefit from knowing about our history through those family members who settled here. Since the names in THE SAGA articles are indexed, you might just be able to connect to that long lost cousin!

Send your articles and clear pictures, by email, to GSSI at: Put "Saga Article" in the subject line.

We are really excited to begin getting your articles!!

Willard Library Genealogy Event

The Willard Library, of Evansville, Indiana, is having a genealogy learning event.
FLAVOR YOUR FAMILY HISTORY, April 8, 2017. (9:00 am - 3:p.m.)  Four classes with Sue Berry and Nell Jordan DAR,UDC,NSDU.

Register for this course by phoning 812-425-4309 or go directory to their website at:


Volume 45  #1

January - February 2017

GSSI January Quarterly Meeting

The winter doldrums subsided, for an afternoon for GSSI members who attended the first quarterly meeting of 2017.  A panel of four Genealogists presented their expertise on how to pursue your research.

Our won Dorothy Rudoni opened by presenting the panel topic, how to research when you can't find it on the internet.  Introduced were panel participants Jackie Lyell; GSSI Board President, Leonard Lucas; Board Director, Gloria Spinks; Board Director, and Helen Lind, Expert Genealogist, and has written several research guides about Williamson County, IL.

Leonard Lucas described how he navigates the system to research relatives in Ireland.  He explained the differences in researching in another country, particularly in finding and obtaining records, and the difficulty in arranging payment.  He explains that, as he goes along in his research, he also writes stories about the people he researches.

Gloria Spinks gave a great presentation about the Find A Grave website,  She gave us the history of its beginning and the importance of submitting information.  This free site is a great place to find where relatives are buried.  You can add or correct information, that is about a relative, by contacting the administrator, of that post.  She reminded us to always validate the information posted, as not to get incorrect information.

Helen Lind is an avid researcher who has written several books about Williamson County, IL.  She described being able to actually look at original records, at the court house, many years ago.  Now the clerks will pull and copy information.  She told that the Land Records are underutilized records.  The could have family names listed, which would be of great help.  Probate and Will books will provide a great amount of information which you can still research yourself.  She told of the old Circuit Clerk calling and donating thousands of old records from 1839 to the 1960's.  The records included criminal, divorces and some coroner records.  Also included were records about the Poor Farm, how it began, and that they were buried without stones, because of the cost.  The Pauper Cemetery is located, by WDDD Radio Station on Rt. 37, in Marion, IL.  She explained that if you want to come and look at these records, they will get them for you and can be copied for a small fee.  Their website is

Jackie Lyell spoke about networking with people who like genealogy, as much as you do!  There are several genealogy conferences throughout the country each year.  This is where you can avoid those folks that roll their eyes at you, when you just mention genealogy.  Suggestions to explore would be The Federation of Genealogy Societies, National Genealogy Society, Roots Tech, and local seminars and conferences, in the area where your ancestors lived.

Afterwards questions were fielded by the panel and some folks lingered to explore our GSSI Genealogy Library within the John A Logan College Library.

This was a well received seminar.  Lots of good information was presented, to help you in your family quest.

GSSI General Meeting  Saturday, March 11, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.  John A. Logan College Library

We are pleased to, once again, present Archaeologist and Author Mike McNerney.  He will be speaking on his extensive research on Grave Monuments and information contained in his forthcoming new book.  All members are welcome to bring guests.  This program is free and open to the public.

GSSI Spring Workshop  Saturday, May 13, 2017.  1:00p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at John A. Logan College

Genealogist and Educator Joy Upton will present a workshop on The Use of DNA in Genealogical Research.  Upton, who has taught classes on DNA and Genealogy throughout the state will lecture on current genetic research pertaining to genealogy and provide a guide for those who want to utilize genetic science in researching family history.

This free workshop is provided as a service for our GSSI members and will be open to the general public.  However, those planning to attend should pre-register by May 1.  This will enable us to have adequate space and have plenty of handouts available.

Register by emailing the Newsletter Editor using "WORKSHOP" as your subject.  Or you can phone Dorothy Rudoni at 618-525-6225 or Dusty Renee Boner at 618-942-7452.  Please leave your name, how many attending and a contact number.

The exact JALC room number and parking instructions will be announced after May 1.  Please pre-register and take advantage of this timely opportunity!

Free Live Streaming Genealogy Sessions

Can't make it to Roots Tech this year?  Never Fear!  There will be live streaming sessions online this year.  You will be able to listen to several of the sessions, including some of the keynote sessions.  Just go to their homepage at  Click on "Menu" then "Live Stream Schedule".  These are available February 8-12.

Lisa Louise Cooke will also have live streaming sessions from her booth at Roots Tech.  Just go to her Genealogy Gems Facebook Page.  Click on the "Like" button.  This will allow you to follow the page and you will be notified on Facebook when to tune in.  She also has the scheduled times on her Facebook page.

Free Webinars

Illinois State Genealogical Society Website features free webinars each month.  February 14 - Freedmen's Bureau Records.  Diane Richard will be the presenter.  Register at  There are only 500 spots open for each webinar so register soon.

March 14- Nurse, Matrons, Laundresses & Cooks. Documents Women in the Civil War.  Angela Walton-Raji will be the presenter.  Register at:

These are great ways to get more information without traveling!

And we couldn't leave out this article from Christmas!!

Christmas with Herrin Area Historical Society

For a second year, the Herrin Area Historical Society has presented a lovely Christmas program full of music, good cheer and holiday goodies.  Our own GSSI Vice President, Phil Stucker is also the HAHS President.  Cheryl Trench was our Master of Ceremonies for the evening

Our own GSSI Board Member, Don Riggin entertained us with beautiful piano music on two Christmas carols: the Christmas Song and As Lately We Watched, a 19th Century Austrian carol.  We heard beautiful solo vocal performances from Rich McNeil and Sharon Sexton Gaddis.  the program also included memories of Christmas Past by Emaline Wilcox and Doris Grant Fry.

the Herrin Area Historical Society (HAHS) meets monthly at the conference room at the Herrin City Library.  Membership dues are $25 for individual and $35 per couple.  You may contact the group via website OR:  HAHS, P.O. Box 127, Herrin, IL  62948

Submitted by Leann Johnson

November 2016
Volume 44 #10


GSSI members tour John A. Logan Museum

For the quarterly meeting, GSSI Members met at the John A. Logan Museum in Murphysboro, IL and received a very enjoyable and informative presentation from Curator Mike Jones. Mr. Jones, and museum staff are compiling information on Civil War soldiers, from John A. Logan’s 18 Southern Illinois counties. And some of our GSSI members were able to add their ancestors to that list. Their research also involves discovering how each soldier died, whether it was in a battle, in a prison or in hospital from disease. But many soldiers were discharged and passed away at home from disease they had gotten in the war. Their research involves trying to establish each soldier’s information including how they died and where they are buried. To date their investigation concludes that of the 3,446 soldiers, in their data base who died, of that 2,338 died from disease.

If you have information on a civil war ancestor from Southern Illinois, consider donating your information to the John A Logan Museum. Also, if you are interested in knowing if they might have information on your Civil War soldier, just contact them, and they will be glad to check their records. You can contact them at John A. Logan Museum, 1613 Edith Street, Murphysboro, IL 62966. Their website is

St. John's Lutheran Church Celebrated their Bicentennial!

st-johns-churchOn Saturday, September 17, 2016, St. John's Lutheran Church held an open house to honor its bicentennial. Our own Don Riggin, GSSI Director, and an accomplished organist played a few hymns on the organ there in the sanctuary. Sunday the 18th the church was packed with visitors and 4 former pastors assisting the current pastor don-riggins-at-organwith the morning service. A delicious dinner followed. Printed information from the church says: "St. John's Church, founded by settlers from North Carolina in 1816, was the first Evangelical Lutheran Church in Illinois. These settlers met in homes and barns until 1822 when the first worship building was erected. Three years later a petition was signed to the North Carolina Synod to send a German/English speaking preacher. During 1827, a preacher arrived along with an accomplice who later organized the Casper Church, north of Anna. A new church building was built and dedicated in 1856 at the location of the present day St. John's. As Union County became settled, so did the church. Since 1952, St. John's has shared services with First Lutheran Church in Dongola. Presently, services are held at St. John's every third Sunday of each month. Sixth and Seventh generation of descendants can be found in attendance today."

Member Happeningsmike-3

We are so familiar with going to cemeteries and photographing family headstones. Or doing tombstone rubbing, for your Civil War relative, where the stone is almost unreadable. But what of a relative, that you have discovered, is in an unmarked grave.

Avid genealogists, Mike and Gloria Spinks, have run into the problem of locating Mike’s great grandmother’s grave. Recently they invited me along to try to find where great grandmother’s grave might be located. They have all the research, that definitely says, she and her baby were buried together in the County Line Cemetery in Jackson County, IL Trying to solve this mystery, Mike and Gloria decided to try Dowsing for the grave. They narrowed family lore information and actual records to find a logical location, then proceeded to dowse for a possible grave site near relatives.

Dowsing has been used for generations to find water for wells and to locate graves. Using two metal rods, like a cut up metal coat hanger or (like my grandfather) welding rods, are your tools. Held loosely in your hands, the rods will react differently as you walk from one end of the grave to the other. If there is a body present, the rods will cross in front of you and will uncross when you are past the grave. In cemeteries in America, in Christian burials, the head will be pointing west and the feet east. And if you hold rod over your head you can determine the gender. The rod will begin to swing around and if it is a female it will point to the head. If it is a male, the rod will point to the feet.

Well, after a little practice on a male and female grave, they have located a grave next to two relatives. Using the dowsing techniques they had researched, they know that a female is buried there. With their previous research, and this new discovery, they are fairly sure that this may be the great grandmother and child, they were trying to locate. With all of these discoveries, they could feel safe in placing a memorial in that area. Determination does pay off.

Really a fun research day! Submitted by: Dusty Renee Boner


Enjoy Webinars?

Check out the new ISGS 2017 Webinar Series at and upcoming live webinars from Family Tree at:

It is that time again!

Don't forget to renew your membership for 2017. You can renew right from this site!

Have a wonderful Holiday Season!


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