Missing In America Project

MISSING IN AMERICA PROJECT

I recently joined the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society and they asked me to give a talk about the Pottawattamie County (Iowa) Genealogical Society, of which I’m the new president. Over the years our two societies drifted apart and we knew very little about each other. As a result, we are now both eager to share information and maybe even co-host a large national genealogical seminar in the future. Several GOGS members attended our Danish Workshop in September. At the meeting I attended, one of their members talked about the Missing In America Project. It sounded like a very worth-while project and I visited their website at miap.us and joined. Since then I’ve been working as a genealogist with two extremely dedicated veterans in Omaha, Bill Henry and Larry Schaber. These two guys just don’t quit! They are now helping me as I have taken on Western Iowa as coordinator. After reading below, if you have an interest in doing some research for us, primarily in trying to find next of kin of these forgotten veterans, please contact me at omahabob@cox.net.

Mission:

The mission of the MIAP project is to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of veterans through the joint efforts of private, state and federal organizations; to provide honor and respect to those who have served this country, by securing a final resting place for these forgotten heroes. If these forgotten veterans have no family to invite us, do we leave them sitting in a storage closet, or do we show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes and work to ensure a dignified resting place to honor the veteran, their family and their community?

History:

During an inventory of a crematorium, two cremation urns were discovered in a closet storage facility. The urns contained the unclaimed remains of Sgt. Trueman, a veteran of the Vietnam conflict and his wife (also a veteran). The year of death for Sgt. Trueman was 1979. For 27 years the resting place for Sgt. and Mrs. Trueman was a storage facility in a crematorium. Other funeral homes and crematoriums were inventoried. Other unclaimed remains of veterans were discovered. In November 2006, the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery interred 21 cremated remains of forgotten veterans, with full military honors and the dignity these fallen heroes so richly deserve. This incident inspired MIAP.

Scope:

The MIAP project is two-fold. The initial focus of MIAP encompasses a massive, nation-wide effort to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed remains of forgotten veterans. This task will be executed through the combined, cooperative efforts of citizens, volunteer service and veteran  organizations, funeral homes, state funeral commissions, State and National Veterans Administration agencies, and the State and National Veterans Cemetery Administrations. Local, state and national laws must be followed in the identification, claiming process and proper interment of our forgotten veterans. This is strictly a volunteer organization with no salaries, compensation or reimbursement of expenses paid to the board of directors, officers or volunteers. Donations are used for the printing of flyers, burial fees, liability insurance, education of the public, locating next of kin and the purchase of urns.

MIAP is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization.   IRS EIN: 20-84088320.

MIAP website is at http://www.miap.us

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Tracing Your Family History – #1 Getting Started

If you enjoy solving mysteries and are even somewhat interested in the early history of our country, then tracing your family history may be the right hobby for you.

But be forewarned: The voyage in which you are about to embark will be fun, educational, enlightening, time-consuming, bumpy, disappointing, frustrating, and joyous. Once you begin, there’s no turning back. You’ll be hooked–constantly driven by the need to know. The more you learn, the more you’ll want to learn. That’s perhaps a bit melodramatic; but any family historian will tell you that family history research consumes an enormous about of time, effort and, to some extent, money.

Part of it is the sheer numbers. Considering that we all have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc., by the time we go back just 12 generations–about 300 years figuring 25 years per generation–we have 8,100 direct ancestors!

In the coming weeks, months and (I hope) years, this section will be devoted to family history research. We’ll start from the beginning, but I hope seasoned researchers will follow along, too, and even contribute. I’ll bring you up to date on what’s happened in the field recently and provide information on what’s coming up. Many excellent workshops are presented around the country and you’ll find out about them right here.

Let’s get some housekeeping out of the way first. Because we’re starting from the beginning, each post will be sort of a “lesson.” I recommend you either print or save each one because in later posts I may refer to something covered previously. I’m going to number each of these posts so they can be referred to by number.

I’ll try not to be preachy and teachy, but I will emphasize what you should do and should not do. I want you to get started properly and avoid making horrible mistakes in the beginning. I know a woman who spent 10 years researching and studying her family only to learn it was not her family! That’s an easy trap to fall into.

So let’s get started!

Many of the beginning books on family history will tell you to begin with what you know about your family. I’ll tell you that, too, but you should first get your record-keeping system in order so you have a place to properly record the data. Your system can be as simplified or as complicated as you want. There is no one “right” system for keeping records, but there are some key ingredients. The first is the Pedigree Chart, sometimes referred to as a Lineage Chart, or Family Tree.

The numbering system is important. For the first chart, which is called Chart 0, your name appears on line 1. Your father is on line 2, his father is on line 4, and his father is on line 8. This way anyone’s father is always twice his own number. Your mother is on line 3, her father is on line 6 and her mother is on line 7. Now anyone’s mother is twice his/her own number plus 1. While this may see confusing now, it will be extremely important as we move on. Notice there is no room on this chart for your spouse. This is only a chart of your ancestors. Your spouse would prepare a similar skeleton chart, put his/her name on line one and continue as above.

Beneath each person are the initials “b”, “m.”, and “d.” They stand for “birth date”, marriage date”, and “death date.”  This is the basic information we need for this chart. Data will be expanded on another form called the Family Group Sheet, which I’ll discuss in the next post.

Begin filling in this chart with what you know. Start with yourself and your parents, your grandparents, and so on.

Go to #2

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Tracing Your Family History – #2 The Family Group Sheet

The Family Group Sheet is used to record what you know (and learn) about all members of your family. As it says on the top, make several blank copies of this form as you’ll need a lot of them.

It’s fairly self-explanatory. Begin by filling one out for your family. Enter you and your spouse in the proper spot – women use your maiden name. Then answer as many questions for each item as you can. If you have more than three children, make an additional copy of this form before you complete it. Then change the number “1” to “4” and continue. Children should be listed in descending order from the oldest to the youngest.

Now take another blank form and fill it out for your parents. On this sheet you’ll list you and your siblings, again with the oldest first and then in descending order. Sorry to get so elementary here, but now you see how many forms you’re going to need. A Group Sheet needs to be prepared for everyone in your family. That means your married children, your brothers and sisters, your aunts and uncles, your cousins, and so on.

While much of this information can be learned from other family members, it is very important that you obtain at least copies of every document which proves or attests to the information obtained. You are looking for certificates of births, marriages, and deaths; wills; probate records; early family correspondence; war records; pension records; family Bible information; and anything else which would enhance the knowledge and understanding of your family.

We’ll be discussing many of these records in future posts. For now the important thing is to be as accurate and thorough as you can be regarding dates and places, especially when you get to older generations. Spelling of names is important. Where a couple was married and when is very important. If possible, do include the township and county.

More next time. Drop me a note if you have questions.

Go to #1

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