Illinois will be one of a few states to recognize Wednesday, Feb. 12, as a state holiday — Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The U.S. government has chosen to acknowledge this important event along with George Washington’s birthday later this month on Feb. 17, Presidents’ Day, the third Monday in February. It is hoped that many Americans will pause and remember our 16th U.S. President on the 12th.

A website devoted to Lincoln, at, includes a timeline of his life’s important events, some little known facts about him, and ways to celebrate his birthday.

For example, did you know that “he discovered his knack for easy conversation while working in a general store”?

Land of Lincoln

Illinois, which calls itself the “Land of Lincoln” on license plates and elsewhere, publishes a travel guide, Travel Illinois. The current issue (Fall/Winter, 2019-2020) is available, free, online in PDF format at

Readers are reminded on page 19 that Lincoln “had an address before Gettysburg” and that this state is “where bison roam” (page 30). The Living History article reminds travelers, “The African American community’s legacy emerges through exhibits and events at the state’s museums and historic sites.”

Genealogist Posts Videos

Megan Smolenyak has often been mentioned in this column with news of her books (e.g., “Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing”), her Honoring Our Ancestors website and Newsletter (, her genealogy grants, which after 20 years are to be discontinued, and her research for the U.S. government helping to identify kin of deceased military personnel’s remains.

Her most recent newsletter reminds readers of the many YouTube genealogy videos she has produced. Anyone who has not viewed these videos should “give them a try!” Visit and perhaps click on the video link pertaining to World War II Tuskegee Airman, Captain Lawrence E. Dickson, whose remains were recently recovered in Europe after 75 years and interred in Arlington’s National Cemetery.

We need to be aware of the beautiful ceremony that is provided for our fallen military heroes.

Other of her videos include her research of Annie Moore’s arrival at Ellis Island (that site’s first arrival), the opening ceremony of the Statue of Liberty Museum, Michelle Obama’s roots, and more. Many thanks to Megan for all she offers to genealogical researchers!

Google “Tricks”

Family History Daily has posted some Google “search tricks” at and a case study is used to illustrate each trick. Learn how to search page titles, how to search a date range, and more! Beginners will especially find these tips valuable—but we all need to be reminded.

Cameras on Gravestones?

Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter recently reported that “a surveillance vendor that works with U.S. government agencies, such as the FBI, DEA, and ICE, is marketing spying capabilities to local police departments, including cameras that are hidden inside a tombstone, a baby car seat, and a vacuum cleaner.”

The article, at, includes a link to a brochure with information on capabilities offered to law enforcement agencies.

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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