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  • Writer's pictureRicki King

Diary of a Beginning Genealogist

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

16 January 2003

Yes, I am Ricki King, and I want to share my research diary over serval installments. I will be sharing my original diary or journal, which is a wide-ruled one subject spiral notebook containing 70 sheets. The notebook covers my time volunteering over 100 hours at the Iowa Genealogical Society (IGS) in 2003. I have not added punctuation to keep the journal as faithful to the original as possible. I have corrected spelling and spelled out my abbreviations so everyone will be able to understand the text.

The reason I started volunteering is that I was taking an undergraduate course at Drake University. If I recall correctly, the class was an elective where you had to volunteer with something doing with history and maybe had to be an archival place. I do remember checking to see if the genealogical society would qualify. The reason I picked the IGS is that I was scared to go into the building. I had joined IGS maybe six months earlier, driven over to the building several times. Each time leaving without getting out of my car. I think I may have gone to one African American interest group on a Sunday, but this might have happened later.

I had planned to type up my original handwritten in pencil notebook of family history. Adding corrections and making a note of my to-do list recorded within the details of my volunteer day. Instead of just reading or browsing the journal, it would be more fun to share my readers with you. This way, you can see the process of a beginning genealogist, our assumptions, talking to relatives, our mistakes, and how we all learn and grow in our research.

Besides talking to family and not writing anything down, this is what I consider my first formal family history training. The class at Drake University is only a sidenote. It got me started only in I had to keep a diary and check-in with the professor to make sure I was doing something. My assignment was to keep a journal and write up a final paper. I wrote so much the professor said I didn't have to write an essay because she could see I was really working, and my diary was like the paper. I did write a paper cause I couldn't figure out how to do it and wanted something. Although much of the essay is inaccurate, I may share it once I finish sharing the journal. The following is a verbatim transcription. If I need to clarify or add details I will put it in [square brackets]. All the interviews are with Rebecca (King) Humphrey unless otherwise stated. Let's get started.

Diary date 16 January 2003

I reported to work at 6 pm. I had already talked to Billie last week and gave her a list of hours I could work. [Billie is the librarian.]

For the first few weeks, I'll be learning how to look up my family tree. I've decided to trace my dad's side going down the King line. Before I even reported to work I wrote out a pedigree chart. The chart starts listing me, my father, and Grandmother (Rebecca) back eight generations. Over last weekend I visited with my Grandmother to get her brothers and sisters names. That is the ones she knew. There were 17 kids and she was the youngest. Five had died of TB before she was born. She didn't know 4 of their names. The only reason she knew the fifth name was because Laura King had married and had a daughter Helen. Helen was raised with Grandma. She [Rebecca] also said Minnie was not her cousin or Aunt but really a half-sister. Minnie told her when she was got older. Minnie was the daughter of Edward King and Ida King's sister. Ida is Grandmother's mother my Great Grandmother. Rebecca said Henry her brother died young. He wasn't right cause he was born with a veil over his face. He supposedly saw spirits. He went to Boy Scout camp and the night he returned he died mysteriously.

Margaret, her sister, also died young. She was killed in a sledding accident. Both died in Burlington, Iowa, and were buried in New London, Missouri. Rebecca said Ida wanted them back home where she wanted [them] to be buried. The kids did go home but Ida didn't and [she] is buried alone at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Burlington. Unlike Ida her husband Edward is surrounded by family at Aspen Grove Cemetery, in Burlington, IA.

Today on my first day at the genealogy society, I worked going thru the census. The one other time I was there I found my Grandmother Rebecca on the 1925 census. I was told tonight this census is the best to find your relatives on because it lists,sign-in the parents of everyone. So this census gave me the names of my great-grandparents.

I found the family on the 1930 Iowa and 1910 Missouri census. I didn't find them on the 1920 Iowa census. I still need to look at the 1920 Missouri census. I ran out of time when I was going thru the 1900 Missouri census. The 1900 census has something wrong with it so it is, not for use to the general public yet. Billie said it was a long story and she'd tell me later. [She never did tell me the story.]

I was shown how to use the microfilm machines printer, how to file, and what to watch for so you don't get the census in the wrong year [when refiling]. There is also a sign-in sheet for volunteers at the society.

Before starting I talked to Billie about my research paper and some possible ideas on what to do it on. She suggested writing my family history. I'd have to document all family findings as I go. I also asked if she had [any] readings. She might want me to do. She said [she would] check into it. She thought there might be some local histories I could read about the areas my family comes from.

  • Margaret and Henry both died between 1925 and 1930. The children of Edward and Ida King.

  • There is a son's name you can't read on the 1910 Missouri census.

  • James H. Briscoe, 15, was found on the 1910 Missouri census. He is a servant and listed alone. · A possible relative of Ida Briscoe. I copied the sheet just in case.

  • 1910 MO census had a possible H?? King couldn't read but copies.

  • I went thru all of Ralls county for 1910. No other King's.

  • Get dad's birth certificate- verify middle name spelling Byran or Bryan or Bryant.

Notes from 16 January 2020

Rebecca King's parents Edward and Ida

  1. Laura King never married.

  2. Dad's middle name is Bryan.

  3. Rebecca King's siblings mentioned.

  • Margaret

  • Henry

  • Laura

Running to-do list from the journal still needing to be completed:

  1. Need Minnie's birth certificate.

  2. Did Henry King die soon after returning from the boy scout camp?

  • Compare death certificate with newspaper stories about the boy scout camp.

  • The information will add to the story of his life if correct.


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