Genealogy buff loves to dig through her family’s roots
For Linda Losier, the allure of genealogy is all about the discovery.
“It’s like a big puzzle solving all this, where people come from and who’s connected to who,” the Bonner Springs resident said.
Losier began her genealogy work in early 1980s, when researching required a bit more effort: going to libraries and the Church of Latter-Day Saints’ family history centers, looking at microfilm, and doing a lot of mailing to courthouses for birth and death certificates.
“There was a lot more figuring out where the right place was to go, and who to contact for the right information,” she said. “So it was a little harder back then, but it was just as much fun when you got something in the mail that kind of sparked you on or gave you another clue of where to go or who to contact.”
Thankfully, a great-aunt had also been researching the family history and passed it along to Losier. Then she got a computer and got on the Internet, where she found a wealth of information.
Among subscription websites, she recommends ancestry.com, to which she has her own subscription.
“That’s probably my favorite; for me, that one probably gets me the most bang for my buck,” she said.
For free research sites, she recommends kshs.org, familysearch.org, heritagequestonline.com and findagrave.com.
Losier recommends making use of local libraries, who often have a library edition of genealogy website research. The Bonner library has a library edition of Heritage Quest, which Losier said is useful because it provides census records, one of the best resources for genealogy, and periodicals and town information.
As far as books go, Losier recommends “The Handy Book for Genealogists,” which lists state and county courthouses and the kind of records they have. Local libraries often have the most information about area communities, said Losier, who volunteers at the Bonner Sprigs Library and most often works in the Kansas Room, which is specifically for local history research.
She also recommends talking to relatives; she wished she had recorded the stories of her great-aunts and great-uncles.
Losier has been able to trace her father’s family back to the mid-1600s in the United States and back to the early 1700s for her mother’s family.
“I’ve never tried to research outside of the United States,” said Losier, who knows her father’s family came from the British Isles, while her mother’s ancestors were mostly German. “It’s one of those things that I’m not quite sure how to cross over the ocean to figure out where they’ve come from over there.
“And some of them have very common names. My dad’s grandfather was a Jones — a John Jones. It’s like, how do I find him?”
She hasn’t found any famous ancestors in her research, though she’s been trying to substantiate one of her great-great-grandmother’s claims that she was related to James Blaine, twice a secretary of state in the late 1800s who one time ran for president.
“I’ve never been able to make that connection,” she said. “It was her claim that she was related to him, but I’ve never been able to prove it.”
Losier’s research did enable her to discover and reconnect with a long-lost aunt, however. Another line of research she continues to explore is the story of one of her great-great-great grandfathers, who won a Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War.
“I also read that it was quite common back in the Civil War for men to get them, so I don’t know if he really did something heroic.”
She also found another great-great-great grandfather’s Civil War records, including a letter about how he was run over by a cannon wagon and broke his back.
“It was kind of nice to have that; it was in his own handwriting, in his own words,” she said. “I think that’s what’s fun about doing the research, is coming across their personal stories.”