Illinois Ancestors | Expert's Irish research guide posted online

Illinois Ancestors | Expert's Irish research guide posted online

John Grenham, noted author of the definitive "Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: 4th Edition," has posted an article online, "How to trace your Irish family history: a step-by-step guide," at

"Most people of Irish origin can now take their family back to the second quarter of the 10th century quickly and easily and, for the most part, without payment."

His article explains why and how. Anyone wishing to research Irish roots can be greatly helped by following this guide.

Government headstones applications

Beginning with the Civil War, the U.S. government has provided headstones for veterans. The applications for those headstones include important data, including the name of the cemetery where that veteran is buried. There are two series of cards that have been digitized and can be searched at FamilySearch.

At, one can search United States Records of Headstones of Deceased Union Veterans, 1879-1903, where "most burials occurred in private cemeteries [for] "Union soldiers who died between 1861 and 1903. Some cards may include War of 1812 veterans. The gravestones were provided between 1879-1903 by the US government." One can browse through 19,265 images.

At, one can search United States Headstone Applications for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1949, where "most are for veterans of the Civil War or later. A few may cover earlier wars." One can browse through 994,740 images.

More veterans cemetery data

Perhaps a known U.S. veteran is not listed in the above databases. Such was the case with William Porter, a Civil War veteran who is not included in these two databases, although his brother, Albert Porter, is listed as buried in the National Cemetery in Danville.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' National Cemetery Administration maintains a website, Nationwide Gravestone Locator, at, where searches can be made. This database includes William Porter, 47 IL Inf, buried in Oakwoods Cemetery in Cook County.

Descendants of slaves celebrate

Troy J. Bailey researched his ancestry and learned he is a descendant of former slave Huldah Chateau, who was born in Kentucky in 1816 and lived in Quincy with a daughter, Nancy Mosby. A special gathering of her family was recently held at the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center, which included a special exhibit with photos, documents and historical records. Details of this family and special event can be found at

Genetic genealogy helps solve cold case

Genealogical methods that included DNA testing were used in the solving of a 1987 "cold case" of a double murder. This investigation made national headlines and can also be read at The sheriff's office is asking anyone who knew the suspect or activities in 1987 or 1988 to notify authorities.

DNA creepy?

Vera Eidelman has written an article for The Washington Post, "The creepy, dark side of DNA databases," reminding us that when we submit our DNA for testing we're often exposing other personal data that really should not be made public. Read her article at and perhaps be convinced to NOT submit to DNA testing.

DNA helps identify veterans' remains

DNA testing does have its advantages. Megan Smolenyak has helped the U.S. government identify many veterans' remains using DNA. Also a new technique used by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, which is still in development, has had some success, including the identification of the remains of 1st Sgt. David H.Quinn, as described in an article online at After 75 years this Marine's remains were returned home.

DNA testing helping tourism industry

An expected result in DNA testing is an individual's desire to visit "the homeland" once that location is identified by a DNA testing company. The problem may be, however, that a specific location needs to be determined before a visit can be made. Therefore, additional genealogical research is essential. Thus researchers need to be reminded that DNA testing can be a valuable portion of genealogical research. It can augment the data that has been accumulated but not be a substitute for genealogical conclusions. Read retiree Liza Lizarraga's interesting tour experience at

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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