07 May 2012

Madness Monday - The Insanity that is NGS 2012

It's Monday night already! If you're heading to Cincinnati for the National Genealogical Society Annual Conference, prepare yourself. Actually, I'm not sure that you can ever be completely ready for all the wonderful things that Cincinnati has to offer. For those of us with roots here, it's a bit of a home coming. And, you never know what kind of a reception you're going to get. Mine, mine has been just phenomenal.

I started to write a post last night and got interrupted in the best way (you'll see at the end); so here's the start...

[This is a very special Sunday for me. I'm in Cincinnati, Ohio sitting in the home of the woman who was my first contact with my Wersel family, way back in 1996. Nancy Baer Strubbe, otherwise known as Nan, was by all accounts a genuinely warm and wonderful woman. Even though her husband John was gravely ill, she took the time to not only reply to a letter of inquiry that I'd sent, but to connect with me on the phone as well. She was so excited that I was researching our Wersel roots; Nan's mother Virginia and my great grandfather Henry were brother and sister. She provided me with a number of great clues to our family history, and I enjoyed the time we spent conversing.

Last December I made my first trip to Cincinnati as an adult. At the generous invitation of Nan's son Bill Strubbe, I stayed with he and his wife Kim for a weekend. I came in on Friday, and because Bill and Kim had an event to attend, they arranged for Bill's brother and sister, Chuck and Mary, to take me to dinner and for a tour of the part of town our Wersel family has lived in since before the beginning of the 20th Century. We had a wonderful time, and I was absolutely thrilled to have had the opportunity to see the Cincinnati Observatory up close and personal. On Saturday, we visited Spring Grove Cemetery, made a quick trip to the Vine Street Hill Cemetery (the office was closed) and then went out to Maineville Cemetery, all so I could take pictures. That evening, we shared a lovely meal with our third cousin, Nancy Wersel Rybolt and her husband Bill. They brought with them incredible family documents that I've only started to glean for additional information on our shared history. I scanned everything during the evening, got up early the next morning to finish scanning and then hit the road to go home. It was a whirlwind.

And six months later, I'm back. It feels a bit like a dream, sitting here with Mary, who bought Nan's house from her estate, talking about the bits and pieces that she knows.]

At this point, I stopped, looked at Mary, and said, 'Hey. Didn't you mention some boxes you have?' She exclaims, jumps up, and brings out two large, archival storage boxes. My heart races; the last time someone in the family showed me documents they included material dating as far back as 1825! I opened the first box, and it is filled to the brim with photos and correspondence. Here's a picture I took of the contents this morning:

It took all my will power to close up that box so I could go do the things I knew I needed to today; and I didn't let myself down!  I visited the Vine Street Hill Cemetery, and old German cemetery that I have to admit is not in the greatest shape. I believe I located my original immigrant ancestor, Nicolaas Jan Francois Wersel. However, neither the burial card, nor the very badly damaged headstone were able to provide any clues: 

I then shot over to the pastoral Spring Grove Cemetery. If you are at NGS and have not been to Cincinnati, I can't recommend strongly enough that you either join the tour or get yourself over to the Cemetery. It is breathtaking.

After getting lots of pictures there, I headed downtown to the Library. It was already 2 pm so I didn't have as much time as I might have liked, but I was still able to pull microfilm from the Newpapers department to view. The best part is that they generously offered to let me take the film up to the 3rd floor where the Genealogy department is so I could you their brand new film scanners. The new machines are USB compatible and are very fancy, but easy to use. A word of warning to those planning on going to the Library: they know we're coming. They're doing everything in their power to be prepared for us. But, there is only so much space and so much time, so please be patient.

OK, that's all for now. Yup, I'm ending right here. I have things to scan!!


  1. Laura,
    I'm so glad to read about your experience so far. I'm looking forward to meeting you.

  2. Kathy, I've really fallen in love with Cincy. I can understand why my ancestors never left! I'll be registering today, but not sure when. I'll keep my eyes open for you!!


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