Monday, September 9, 2013

Midwest Historical & Genealogical Society Hosts Watch Parties

Midwest Historical & Genealogical Society will host watch parties each Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. 1201 North Main, Wichita, KS.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Genealogy Roadshow

PBS announced in May that thy will have the new series, Genealogy Roadshow, in their fall lineup. MHGS is happy to be a sponsor of this program which will start on Monday September23 at 8:00-9:00 our time on KPTS. This show will run for four Mondays through October 14. This series will be part detective story, part emotional journey, and will combine history and science to uncover fascinating stories of diverse Americans. Each individual's past will line to a larger community history, revealing the rich cultural tapestry of America. 
Genealogy Roadshow's premiere season will feature participation from Four American cities - Nashville, Austin, Detroit and San Francisco - who want to explore unverified genealogical claims, passed down through family history, that may or may not connect them to an event or historical figure. Genealogy experts will work with the participants chosen and will use DNA, family heirlooms, letters, pictures, historical documents and other clues to hunt down more information. 
MHGS will hold a "Watch Party" at the Society Library at 1203 North Main each Monday evening of the Genealogy Roadshow. We will open the library at 7:30 p.m. and attendance is free. We do need to know how many are interested in the "Watch Party" so we can plan seating and get everything ready. Make your reservations by calling 316 264-3611 or e-mail

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sumner County Historical & Genealogical Society

On Monday, August 26th, at 6:30 p.m., Lori DeWinkler, Lead Investigator and Historian for Moonlit Ghost Hunts, will present the program “Wellington After Dark” to Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society members and guests at the Wellington Senior Center, 308 S. Washington.
Lori DeWinkler, a paranormal investigator since 2008, loves being a paranormal investigator for Moonlit Ghost Hunts,
But Dewinkler doesn’t just go to a location for the first time on the night of the investigation. She checks out the location ahead of time. Thoroughly.
She researches the building’s history, who owned it, who lived there, and maybe even who died there.
She reads newspaper articles, talks to folks who know the history of the location, and the area, searches for clues, and compiles and analyzes her findings before the group ever goes in to investigate. And she gets excited when the pieces of the historic puzzle start falling into place and she can pull together a structure’s fascinating history before an investigation.
DeWinkler will share several fascinating stories about Wellington and Sumner County and bring along some of the tools they use to investigate.
The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.. There is no charge for the program and everyone is welcome. In case of bad weather cancellation, contact Jane Moore at 620-447-3266. For more information, go to

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

HeritageQuest Drops PERSI

Read all about it at
What does this mean for the societies?  But great idea for researchers.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kansas Genealogy Society Quarterly Meeting

Kansas Genealogy Society quarterly meeting, July 11, 2013, 2 :00 p.m., USD 443 Learning Center, 308 West Frontview, Dodge City, KS (across highway north of Village Square Mall). Gary and Margaret Kraisinger of Halstead, KS will speak on Texas Cattle Trails. Program is free of charge and open to the public.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sumner County Historical & Genealogical Society Receives Grant from the Kansas Humanities Council

TOPEKA – The Kansas Humanities Council (KHC) recently awarded Sumner County Historical & Genealogical Society of Wellington a $3,500 grant for the “Prairie Letters: Written in Rural Kansas in the Late Nineteenth Century” project.

Jane Moore, SCHGS president said that in 2012 the Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society received a notebook containing the “Prairie Letters,” letters that had been written primarily in the 1870’s by Emily Sell, one of Kansas’ earliest setters. Sell homesteaded in the Rome, Kansas area with her husband.  Moore said that even though Kansas was opened to settlement in 1854 and became a state in 1861, there were only 22 white people living in Sumner County by 1870 (The Sumner County Story, Paul and Gwendoline Sanders, 1966, p. 9).  Sumner County was not fully organized until Nov. 7, 1871.

“When I saw that the first letters were dated 1870, and learned that there were only about 22 white people living in Sumner County in 1870, I couldn’t imagine what life must have been like for those early settlers,” said Elaine Clark, Prairie Letters Project Director and grant author.

There have been histories written about other areas of Sumner County during this time period, but very few collections of letters have been discovered which give a first-person perspective,” Clark said,  “that makes this collection of letters a priceless, irreplaceable piece of Kansas history.”

“Transcription and preservation of these letters will give future historians, researchers, genealogists, and those interested in early settlement of the Midwest a first-person account of the hardships and difficulties of early homesteaders,” said Moore.

“Historical details about settlement in the Rome, Kansas, area are sketchy, but the town was officially organized in 1884,” Moore said, adding that  SCHGS members involved in transcribing Emily’s letters to friends and family are eager to learn about early-day settlement of Sumner County through the eyes and viewpoint of the homesteader and his wife.

Clark said she and her husband, Larry Clark, traveled to Jordan Cemetery recently to view and photograph Emily’s grave stone.

“I stood there and wondered what her life was like,” Clark said, adding that “these letters reveal much about the early days of Sumner County and the hardships and sorrows that families endured.  We tend to take food, warmth, air conditioning, doctors and medical care for granted, but these letters share the facts of everyday life for Kansas’ early settlers, babies that died because no doctors were available, weeks that go by before getting letters from family and friends, and children who can’t get an education because they live too far from school or they are needed to work on the farm.”

“These situations would seem foreign to today’s young people,” Clark said.

Clark said that some of the letters are almost unreadable because of fading, so it is imperative for the SCHGS to transcribe these letters as soon as possible. 

“This Heritage Grant from the Kansas Humanities Council will assist in preserving this treasure,” Clark said, “I can hardly wait to do the transcribing.”

Clark added that as the project progresses and they learn more about the contents of the letters, they will share information on the website at, blog at, SCHGS Facebook page and in area publications. 

“KHC Heritage grants encourage the preservation of local cultural resources,” said Julie Mulvihill, executive director of the Kansas Humanities Council. “This transcription project will preserve these one-of-a-kind primary source documents for generations to come. What a treat to find out what stories these letters will tell.”

The Kansas Humanities Council is a nonprofit organization that supports community-
based cultural programs, serves as a financial resource through an active
grant-making program, and encourages Kansans to engage in the civic and cultural
life of their communities. For more information, visit

Thursday, April 18, 2013

2013 KCGS Conference and Annual Meeting

KCGS 2013 Conference and annual meeting, June 18 . "Research on the Range", Dyck Arboretum, Hesston, KS., 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Registration is required to guarantee lunch and a syllabus.
Speakers will include:
Art Binford
Friends University
Quaker Collection
Ashley Diaz
Emporia State University
ESU Archives at William Allen White Library
Jane Jones
Harvey County Archives
Local Historical Society Collections
John Thiesen
Bethel College
Mennonite Library & Archives Records
Lenora Lynam
Lorna Nelson
Lindsborg Old Mill Museum
Swedish & Lutheran Records
Michelle Enke
Wichita Public Library
Wulfmeyer Genealogy Collection at WPL
Patty Nicholas
Ft. Hays State University
Volga German Records at Forsyth Library
Randy Roberts
Pittsburg State University
PSU Archives at Axe Library

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Midwest Historical & Genealogical Society

Memorial Day is a particular favorite of genealogists...a three-day holiday when our "normal" relatives join us in hanging out in cemeteries.  Because of this connection between genealogy and Memorial Day, this year the library at Midwest Historical & Genealogical Society will be open for our regular hours on Saturday, May 25, 2013.  Bring those genealogy-minded relatives down to do cemetery look-ups, check out our obituary collection, or just take advantage of our nice big tables, copier and scanner to share your research and photos.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sumner County Historical & Genealogical Society

March 25th Meeting
Contact: Sherry Kline – 620-326-3401

On Monday, March 25th, at 6:30 p.m., Dolores Carr, Wellington, will present the Women’s History month program “Who Was Mary Elizabeth Lease: Kansas Homesteader, Mission Teacher, or Political Activist?”  to Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society members and guests at the Best of Orient meeting room, 114 E. Lincoln, Wellington.

The meal begins at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting at 6:30 p.m.. There is no charge for the program and everyone is welcome. For possible bad weather cancellation, contact Best of the Orient at 620-399-8575 or President Jane Moore at 620-447-3266.

Dolores Carr said that Mary Elizabeth Lease, author, speaker, and editor, was born in Pennsylvania to upper-class Irish immigrants Joseph P. and Mary Elizabeth Clyens, was raised in New York, and was well educated before coming to Kansas to teach in an Osage Mission after her father and older brothers died fighting for the union in the civil war. 

According to Carr, Mary Elizabeth Lease “read for the law” while earning money washing clothes for the neighbors, and after marrying, she and her husband homesteaded in Kingman County, Kansas but were not able to make a go of it, and she and her family moved to Wichita where she founded a club for woman who wanted to improve their education.

 “She became a speaker for the Populist Party,” Carr said, “and was often called “The Lady Orator of the West” and “the Kansas Cyclone” by some because of her speaking abilities.”

 “She could just mesmerize the audience,” Carr said.

Carr stated that Lease believed that if she had been a man she would have been appointed to the U. S. Senate, but Carr added that because Lease promoted women’s suffrage as well as temperance and was politically active in the Populist Party some comments about her were not complimentary.

“She was probably a woman ahead of her time,” Carr said.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sumner County Historical & Genealogical Society

On Monday, February 25th, at 6:30 p.m., Neta Jane Doris, Winfield, will present the program “Exodusters in Kansas” to Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society members and guests at the Best of Orient meeting room, 114 E. Lincoln, Wellington.

The meal begins at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting at 6:30 p.m.. There is no charge for the program and everyone is welcome. For possible bad weather cancellation, contact Best of the Orient at 620-399-8575.

When two of Neta Jane Doris’s former high school classmates asked her to do their family history, Doris was only too happy to help them out.

Doris has been involved in several family history projects, found ancestors and descendants for several, reconnected family members, begun family reunions, and published a family history on her mother’s side of the family.

She was glad to help her friends out.

“I’ve been researching for about 40 years,” Doris said, “I just love the research. Actually, when I’m researching, they almost feel like my family.”

Doris, who did the bulk of this research prior to the age of computers, learned that her two friends were not only the descendants of “Exodusters”, or African-American slaves freed by emancipation, they were also related to each other.

“The more I researched, the more interested I became,” Doris said, adding that it took several months to find much of the information and expand their family trees.

“There were about three years when there was a mass exodus,” Doris said, adding that most Exodusters came to Kansas between 1879 and 1881 and many were from Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas where circulars were passed out by both black and white people to entice the new settlers to Kansas.

Doris said that the mass exodus “happened so fast and so suddenly that it caused a Congressional investigation.”
 “Over 40,000 poor black people emigrated during that time,” Doris said, “they were kind of led to believe that they would get money and land, and that didn’t happen.”

Doris said that she will “speak about the general history of the Exodusters and talk a little” about the people who settled in Kansas: one family who was involved in the Underground Railroad, one family whose owner (and father) freed them and gave them money to move, and Lutie Lytle, who became the first woman black lawyer in Tennessee in 1897 and was the first black woman to be admitted to the Kansas bar.

“Sometimes families were torn apart and you never get them back together again,” Doris said.

For those genealogists and family historians searching for their own Exoduster history, Doris said that she will bring along a copy of the circular used to advertise settling in Kansas as well as books and articles, census and land records, and share information on some of the resources that she used, and also how and where she found the information.

According to Doris, many of the citizens in Larned today are descended from the Exodusters.

“They were some of the earliest settlers in that part of Kansas,” Doris said, “they showed a lot of strength and determination.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

Swedish Genealogy Workshop

Old Mill Museum, Lindsborg, KS will sponsor at Swedish Genealogy Workshop September 28 &29, 2013. Registration is required. Go to  for details.