Grand Prairie GS Meets Feb 4-Southern Ante-Bellum Plantation Records

The Grand Prairie Genealogical Society monthly meeting will be held Thursday, February 4, 2016 at The Ruthe Jackson Center, 3113 S. Carrier Parkway, Grand Prairie. Meet and Greet begins at 6:30 pm with program at 7:00 pm until 9:00 pm.

Program: Southern Ante-Bellum Plantation Records

Learn about the Southern Ante-Bellum Plantation Records – their value, how they are organized, and how to search the collection.
The Southern Ante-Bellum Plantation Records are considered to be one of the most valuable collections to the study of African American slavery. The collection encompasses business and personal papers from numerous slaveholding families throughout the South. These records can potentially list slaves by name and include other significant information such as: family relationships; dates of birth and death; bills of sale; etc.

Speaker: Ari Wilkins is a genealogist and family historian. She serves as secretary of the Texas State Genealogical Society and a consultant for the Afrigeneas website. Ms. Wilkins is also a former board member of the Dallas Genealogical Society.

Guests are always welcome.


What Constitutes the British Isles?

Milner_Paul_SquarePaul Milner, professional genealogist and international lecturer, will speak at our 2016 Spring Seminar, From Whence They Come. Two of his four lectures will provide opportunities to learn about Irish and Scottish emigration to the USA and Canada and the tools and records available to trace your ancestors.

He will also provide guidance regarding England’s National Archives website, specifically the research tools, indexes, and catalogs that can help you find your ancestors and put them into their correct historical context. His fourth lecture goes beyond the basics of 17th and 18th century English research to identify records that can help you jump the gap created by England’s Civil War and the problems of migration due to the Industrial Revolution.

As you can see, Paul will be covering a lot of territory and initially it seemed that “British Isles Research” would be an apt title for the seminar. After all, Paul’s biographical information states that he “has specialized in British Isles genealogical research for over 30 years”. I soon discovered my understanding of the term “British Isles” was hazy and, further, that the term itself often fosters misleading or incorrect assumptions.

I therefore undertook to re-enlighten myself regarding the distinction between the “British Isles”, “Great Britain”, “The United Kingdom”, and “Ireland”. (Surely I must have known this at one time.) I reviewed descriptions on several websites, including the FamilySearch wiki. I offer you the descriptions below and I credit much of the text to “Know Britain” and wikipedia.

The British Isles

The expression “British Isles” is geographical and not political. They are a group of islands off the northwest coast of Europe consisting of Great Britain, the whole of Ireland, the Orkney and Shetland Islands, the Isle of Man, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Isle of Wight, the Scilly Islands, Lundy Island, the Channel Islands, and many other smaller islands.

Great Britain

Great Britain is the largest island in the British Isles and is the collective name for England, Scotland, and Wales. Great Britain includes the small adjacent islands but excludes the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is comprised of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The official name “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” came into use in 1922 after the creation of the Irish Free State (1922-1937).


Ireland is the second largest island, after Great Britain, in the British Isles. Geographically, it includes Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom. In 1937 the Irish Free State adopted a new constitution that claimed all of Ireland as its territory and officially became”Ireland” in English and “Éire” in Irish. In 1948 Ireland declared itself the Republic of Ireland but retains “Ireland” as its official name.

Perhaps Paul Milner will plan a pop quiz for the March 12th Seminar! Hope to see you there!

Volunteers Making Progress On Probate Records

CaptureVolunteers have completed work on the first 50 cases from the Dallas County Probate Records (1850 – 1900) collection that was recently digitized and made available on The Portal to Texas History digital archive.

The date range, and in some cases the actual date of death, is now recorded in the metadata fields for these cases (this information was not documented by the county clerks who recorded each case, and it was not indexed when DGS members microfilmed the records in 1977.

This project is a great example of how the DGS has, and continues to, fulfill its mission to preserve records pertaining to the greater Dallas region:

  • The original paper records were preserved by DGS volunteers using then state of the art technology (microfilm) in 1977. At that time the paper records were already deteriorating.
  • In 2013 the DGS initiated an effort to digitize the microfilms. The University of North Texas  agreed to perform the digitization and to archive the digital images on The Portal to Texas History. DGS members transcribed the index created in 1977 and this information was incorporated into the metadata for each case.
  • In this latest phase of the effort we are examining the images from each case to determine the dates associated with each case, and we are utilizing current technology to allow anybody with a computer, smart phone or tablet and internet access to participate.

We have made rapid progress on the first 50 cases, but there are many more remaining to be done. This is a great way to help us give back to family history researchers with North Texas interests… So far, researching one of these cases is taking, on average, less than 20 minutes. We have complete instructions (even a video!) explaining what you need to do and how to do it. Please go to our Get Involved page, select a Case and become part of the effort to complete this project!

Want to attend Summer Seminar Free?

Bring a friend who ticket - byofis not a current member of the Dallas Genealogical Society to our monthly general meetings in February, March, April or May.  For each qualified friend* you bring, you will receive an entry for a drawing to be held at our special 60th Anniversary meeting in May. The winner of the drawing will receive one free admission (including lunch both days) to our July 29-30 Summer Seminar featuring Denise Levenick, the Family Curator!


*Entries will be restricted to DGS members who bring a guest who is not a current DGS member to a General Meeting in February, March, April or May 2016. You will receive one entry for each guest you bring and register.

DGS Brown Bag SIG Meets Saturday, January 23

The Brown Bag Special Interest Group of the Dallas Genealogical Society meets this Saturday, January 23 on the 8th floor of the J.Erik Jonsson Central Library beginning at 10:15am

brown-bag-lunchThe group will discuss numbering systems for genealogical reports. SIG leader Janet Khashab ( will discuss “Genealogical Numbering Systems: History and Reasoning” by Meline Lutz Byne, NGS Magazine, 41:4 (Oct-Dec 2014), pp 22-25 with some examples of different systems. Marianne Szabo will present an example of Ahnentafel or Ancestor Table.

Please read and study Chapter 2, pp 12-21 of our textbook Guide to Genealogical Writing.

After the BB discussion, Liz Kutz will meet with the DAM  group for those interested in “digital asset management.”


Help Us Index Probate Records

probate_case_3100Back in the late 1970’s DGS members microfilmed documents related to 3100 probate cases filed in Dallas County from 1850 to the early 1900’s.

In 2015 the DGS partnered with the University of North Texas to have those microfilms digitized, and they are now available on their Portal to Texas History. DGS members pitched in again and transcribed the index to the microfilms, so the images have quite a bit of metadata available for each case.

Sadly, the index did not include any information about when the cases were filed or disposed of.

So… we have launched another phase of this project, with the goal of associating a date range and, when possible, the date of death, for each one of the 3100 cases.

Pitching in is easy… we have complete instructions (even a video showing you every step) in the ‘Get Involved’ section of our web site.

DGS Jewish SIG Meets Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Dallas Genealogical Society’s Jewish Special Interest Group meets this Wednesday morning, January 20, from 10am-1pm on the 8th floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in downtown Dallas.  MAP

Learn the terminology of the Jewish faith and race, and the various methods for researching these families. Emphasis is on cultural differences (from other races and creeds) which may require alternative genealogical research methods and records from those usually employed. Domestic (United States) and international aspects are both explored.

Leader:  Liz Kutz; email:

The Jewish SIG is free and open to all.


DGS DNA Interest Group Meets Thursday, January 21

The DIG meets from 6 – 8pm on the 5th floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in downtown Dallas.  Map

DNA-2-iconThe program Topic is  X Chromosome. The group will look at Fan Charts, Pedigree Charts and Ahnentafel Reports (some times called Ancestor Reports) to assist in finding which of your lines could have X matches.

In preparation, you can read SIG Leader Mic Barnette’s article on his website: “Finding X Chromosomes“. In Mic’s article there is a list of ahnantafel numbers depicting where on anyone’s pedigree chart the x-chromosome matches. Additionally, there are other links that you can read and follow for more information about X chromosomes.

You might want to print out a ahnentafel report and either fan chart or pedigree chart if your genealogy program can do that. Write the ahnentafel numbers on your fan or pedigree chart. Bring these to class.

Here is a link to a blank fan chart.

Mic Barnette, DNA SIG Leader,


DGS African-American Genealogical Interest Group Meets Saturday, January 16

The African-American Genealogical Interest Group of the Dallas Genealogical Society meets tomorrow from 2 – 4:45 pm on the first floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in downtown Dallas. MAP

The group discusses and explores areas of research unique to the African American community. It uses a variety of sources, including Census research, reconstruction and Freedman Bureau records, NARA combined military records of the U.S. Colored Troops, Plantation Slave records, Slave schedules and other records that provide information for this special area of genealogy research.

Expert researchers and speakers make presentations on Slavery, customs, tradition, state laws, and the techniques and methods used in their research.

Meetings are free and open to the public.


DGS 2016 Spring Seminar With Paul Milner To Be Held March 12

The Dallas Genealogical Society’s 2016 Spring Seminar will be held on Saturday, March 12, titled From Whence They Came.  Millions of people immigrated to this country. This seminar will help people understand why our ancestors left, how they got here and how to trace their steps, with an emphasis on the British Isles.

Paul Milner, professional genealogist and international lecturer, will give four lectures:

  1. Effective Use of England’s National Archives Website
  2. Irish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Famine
  3. Scottish Emigration to North America: Before, During and After the Rebellion
  4. Overlooked Sources for 17th and 18th century English Research

The event will be held in the Auditorium of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street,  Dallas, TX, 75201 from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm.  MAP

Save $10.00 by registering before February 22, 2016: $45.00 (Society members) | $55.00 (non-members).

Program details and registration information are available on the Society’s website:

Milner_Paul_200HPaul Milner has specialized in British Isles genealogical research for over 30 years. He was raised in England and settled in the United States in 1975. Paul has been designing workshops and lecturing to a wide variety of audiences for over 35 years. As a genealogist he speaks on a variety of topics relating to research in the British Isles, migration to North America and research methodology. Paul is a past board member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the Genealogical Speakers Guild.