Ghost stories and haunted houses are hardly related to genealogical research — or are they? On a personal note, an ancestor of mine, Rebecca Cornell, appeared as a ghost to her brother, John Briggs, to reveal her murderer. This was all documented in Rhode Island court records and detailed in Elaine Forman Crane’s book, "Killed Strangely: The Death of Rebecca Cornell," and published by Cornell University Press in 2002.

Do any readers have stories about ghosts or haunted buildings in their families?

This Halloween-related column would be incomplete if it did not mention ghost hunter Troy Tayler, who has conducted ghost tours, has written 49 books about history, hauntings and the unexplained in America and has a website at Be sure to read the article, “The Haunted White House: Ghostly Tales of America’s Executive Mansion from Abraham Lincoln to Harry Truman.”

For information on Taylor and his Illinois tours and books, read “20 Questions with Troy Taylor” at

Most Halloween events

“The Haunted History Trail of New York State is home to the largest collection of haunted and Halloween events statewide [with] over 500 events, from ghost hunts and paranormal investigations to staged haunted houses and Halloween hayrides … offered now through the end of October.” Read more about New York State’s events at .

Volunteers sought

The Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) is looking for additional volunteers for its 2019 Fall Conference scheduled for October 25 & 26 at the Chicago Marriott Naperville. A variety of volunteer opportunities are available:

• Room monitors (must be a registered attendee)

• Audio-visual support (registration not required)

• Bag stuffing/pre-Registration (registration not required)

Volunteering is an excellent way to meet fellow genealogists and give back to the genealogical community. Perhaps a spouse could volunteer while you attend the sessions. For more information contact Suzanne Hoffman, Volunteer Coordinator, at

Early Bird Conference Registration ends Oct. 4. Visit the ISGS website ( for complete conference details. Why not give your genealogical research a boost by attending this conference and meet fellow-researchers by volunteering!

Cemetery symbols

BillionGraves has posted a helpful blog, “Club, Society, & Fraternity Symbols at the Cemetery part 2,” at “Gravestone symbols tell a story about the person buried there, but that is only helpful if you understand what the symbols mean.”

The illustrations at this website include details about what to look for. Each organization may have a variety of symbols. Be sure to click on the link to part 1 of this series (on the right side of the page) for additional information.

Interesting trivia: “In the past the Odd Fellows was considered a poor man’s version of the Freemasons and the two groups share some of the same symbols.”

“Once you understand the symbols, you will know more about that person’s life story (and) … it may help you break through a genealogical brick wall.”

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing

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