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Now in its 35th year, the Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City is attended by anywhere from 65 to 115 genealogical researchers each year.

Hosted by Leland & Patty Meitzler, owners of Family Roots Publishing Company, the tour has “the highest ratio of professional researchers to attendees of any genealogy research tour using the family History Library. ... One of the major advantages of the Salt Lake Christmas Tour is that microfilm no longer available on loan at the worldwide Family History Centers can be viewed at the Salt Lake City Family History Library. If the film you need hasn’t been digitized and made available online yet, you can still see it during your Christmas Tour week.”

Professionals planning to share expertise include Lisa A. Alzo, Arlene Eakle, Billy Edgington, Lori Gardner, Kevan Hansen, Thomas MacEntee and others. These genealogists will be available for consultation Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until near the time when the library closes.

Read complete details about the tour at and click on the links to more information: registration and fees, tour and class schedule, preparing for the tour, benefits of the tour, getting to Salt Lake City, The Family History Library, the bookstore, the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, staff, photos of previous tours and more.

The tour is scheduled for Dec. 8-14. “Most attendees will fly in on Dec. 8, and fly out on Dec. 15.” Registrations are now being accepted.

Why not give your family history search a boost by researching at this world-renowned library with some help from experts in this field!

MacEntee, one of the professionals mentioned above, is the creator of several resources on the Internet.

For example, his Abundant Genealogy has a most helpful link to Free Genealogy Resources, at, that includes some tools to be used on a research trip including A Genealogist’s Packing List, which can be accessed directly at His Genealogy Research Checklist, at, can serve as a reminder of the variety of records that genealogists need to check — many of them around the house. His website called Hack Genealogy, at, provides free videos covering such topics as EverNote, password security, Facebook groups and more.

Old wallets found

Megan Smolenyak and others have reported on a crime wave that apparently took place in the 1940s in Illinois. Fifteen wallets have been found in an air duct of what was the women’s restroom of the former Centralia High School. They did not contain any paper currency but still held many personal effects.

According to an article at, an attempt has been made to find the owners and has had at least one success. Betty Sissom, now 89, was happy to receive a photo of her brother, “who had been fighting in WW II at the time and has since passed away.”

“The finds are amazing, even if it’s sad that they were a product of many apparent acts of theft.”

Centralia in four counties

A bit of trivia was “discovered” while researching this local news. Centralia is a city in Clinton, Jefferson, Marion and Washington, four counties in Illinois — a challenge for genealogists researching ancestors in that city.

Helpful booklet

The Illinois State Archives has posted a helpful booklet, “Origin and Evolution of Illinois Counties” at, thus enabling researchers to learn the changes in Illinois county boundaries and then being able to find relevant records. (For example, page 43 shows the four counties — Clinton, Marion, Washington and Jefferson — next to each other in 1924.)

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.