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Montana genealogy society comes to Havre


Havre this weekend will host a society with the goal of finding stories - stories of the families of its members.

The Chester, Chinook, Cut Bank and Havre genealogical societies are hosting the 14th annual Montana State Genealogical Society Conference here to provide ideas and help in tracking family histories. Registration and an executive board meeting will be Thursday, and presentations and events are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

It is the third major convention in Havre in three months. The Great Northern Railway Historical Society held its national convention here in July, followed by the BNSF Veterans Association regional convention in August.

Betty Marshall of Chester, president of the state society, said she expects at least 80 people to attend the conference. She said about 150 came to last year's conference in Billings.

"It varies by location. We're so far north the numbers might be down," she added.

Everyone with an interest in genealogy can attend the conference. The registration is officially over, but people can still register at the conference. The fees will not be increased for late registration.

"There are a lot of people out there that are interested but haven't gotten into it yet," Marshall said.

The conference will provide workshops, contacts and new ideas and methods for tracing family histories. The main speaker this year will be Christine Rose of San Jose, Calif., a national lecturer on genealogy.

Sylvia Murray of Havre, an accredited genealogist, will be one of the local presenters. Murray has taught genealogy in colleges for 20 years and is teaching a class on the subject in the Havre Adult Education program.

She said her interest in family histories goes back to her childhood, when she heard her grandparents telling stories at their farm near Nashua.

"I like the stories. I like the past," she said. "Every family has these great stories and they need to be told and remembered."

Murray will give a presentation Friday about women settlers on the Plains, and on Saturday about the railroads role in encouraging immigrants to homestead.

Karen Jellum of Chinook, a charter member of Blaine County's Milk River Genealogical society and of the state society, on Saturday will present "Under the Sod," a description of the work by Blaine County residents to preserve homestead cemeteries.

The group is tracking down cemeteries, often forgotten, and fencing them off to prevent cattle and other animals from destroying the old graveyards.

"You have a one-ton bull stepping on 80-year-old cement forms and they don't last," she said.

She said most of the cemeteries tell of stillborn babies, infant deaths, and death by typhoid or flu epidemics or accidents.

"There's a lot of sad stories in these cemeteries," she said, "a lot of tragic ones."

Retired school teacher Joyce Kops, who operates the Havre business Creative Memories out of her home, will give a presentation Friday about photographs and scrapbooks.

Marshall said the conference brings a national speaker every year.

Christine Rose, an instructor at the Samford Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research in Birmingham, Ala., also is an author, certified genealogical lecturer and certified genealogist. She will give two presentations Friday and two Saturday.

"She does lectures all over the United States," Marshall said.

The society will hold a silent auction called the Bookworm Frolic during the conference. Marshall said society chapters and individual members will donate books and other documents and items useful in genealogical research for the auction.

Entertainment, including tours of Havre Beneath the Streets and performances by the Bluepaw Beargrass Musical Group and Chester "cowboy poet" Dena Fritz, is scheduled.

Marshall said the state society was formed in 1990, with the Chester and Lewistown local genealogical societies spearheading the effort. The state society has about 500 members in 15 local associations, and more communities are working on forming associations, she said.

The conference will be held at the Best Western Great Northern Inn and the Duck Inn.

For more information, contact Marshall before Thursday at (406) 759-5627, or visit the state society Web site.

On the Net: Montana State Genealogical Society: http://www.rootsweb.com/~mtmsgs


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