Harford County Genealogical Society

Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

[HCGS Seal]
The Harford County Genealogical Society
143 North Main Street, Bel Air, MD 21014


Est. 1979

in our
Special Pubs

Society Meeting Information

Unless otherwise noted, membership meetings are held in The Historical Society of Harford County, 143 N. Main St., Bel Air, Harford County, Maryland.

Members should refer to the current newletter for the most accurate information.

Our meetings are open to the public and free!!!

4-oct-2014: Next Meeting
143 N. Main St., Bel Air, MD 21014
"2014 Genealogical Seminar"

Our major program for 2014 will be a multi-session Genealogical Seminar. Our guest speaker is a well-known genealogist from the Maryland area, Rebecca Whitman Koford. (Click on the speakers name for additional information)

Vital Records: Births, Marriages, Deaths and Alternative Sources for Vital Information. Are you new to genealogy? Only used the internet? Let us open your eyes to the value of birth, marriage, and death records available in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Identifying And Preserving Family Photos: We will briefly discuss the history of photography and its impact on our ancestors' lives. We will identify clues to name that ancestor through costume, photographer, and photograph type. We will cover preservation and identification of old photos in our possession and briefly discuss publication of our family photos.

Men of the Same Name: Which John Smith Is My John Smith? Case studies designed to help the researcher sort out different men of the same name in the same area and time.

Admission: HCGS members - FREE; Non-members - $20; Students (with school ID) - $10. Seating is limited. Bring your own brown-bag. Light refreshments and drinks provided.

08:30 - 08:45 Late Registration
08:45 - 09:00 Introductions / Welcome
09:00 - 09:45 Vital Records: Births, Marriages, Deaths and Alternative Sources for Vital Information
09:45 - 10:00 Q & A / break
10:00 - 10:45 Identifying And Preserving Family Photos
10:45 - 11:00 Q & A / break
11:00 - 11:45 Men of the Same Name: Which John Smith Is My John Smith?
11:45 - 12:00 Q & A
12:00 - 12:45 Lunch
12:45 - 03:15 Research time. HSHC staff will be on-hand so you can apply the techniques Rebecca has talked about.
03:15 - 03:30 Thanks & survey


215 Giles St., Havre de Grace, MD 21078
"Havre de Grace Decoy Museum"

On Sunday, 22-June-2014 we will visit the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum at 213 Giles St. in HdG.
Time: 01:45 P.M.

Program: A docent will guide us through the museum's galleries, supplementing exhibit materials with anecdotes. Many of the guides are carvers, hunters, founders of the museum, and life-long residents of Havre de Grace who treat visitors to colorful glimpses into the history of decoys and waterfowl hunting in the Upper Chesapeake Region, along with the families involved.

The Decoy Museum's collection consists of approximately 2,700 objects with nearly three-quarters of its collection on display to the public in three galleries. The majority of these objects are wooden decoys, but the collection also includes decorative carvings, boats, guns, textiles, books, documents, and photographs. The first exhibit “What is a Decoy?” tells the story of an American folk art tradition, recounts how talented men carve “floating sculpture”, and contains examples of what made Havre de Grace the “Decoy Capital of the World.”

The "Gunning the Flats" is the second exhibit. It explores the history of water-fowling on the Susquehanna Flats. By the nineteenth century, sportsmen from all over the world were coming to pursue canvasback ducks, and many Havre de Grace citizens supported their families by hosting visitors and hunting waterfowl to be sold to Baltimore and Philadelphia restaurants.

The museum's third permanent exhibition, "Honoring the Masters," presents these carvers and their masterpieces.

The Melvin A. Conrad Library is one of the nation's finest repositories for information on decoy carving, decoy carvers, hunting, water-fowling, wetlands ecology, guns, and birds. The library holds over 600 volumes, plus some archival material. The library's resources may accessed by appointment. On another visit, consider using the card catalog to identify items that at will enhance your family stories.

The tour also provides us an opportunity to become familiar with many of the surnames associated with water-fowling in the Upper Chesapeake Region. Some of these well-known Harford, Cecil, and Baltimore County surnames include: Birdsall, Breese, Bryan, Collins, Currier, Dye, Gibson, Holly, Joiner, Lawson, Litzenberg, McGaw, McKinney, Merredith, Michael, Mitchell, Moltz, Pierce, Sampson, Veasey, and Ward.

Registration: by eMail to HaCoGenSoc@verizon.net or USPS by June 14.

Fee: FREE for Society members. Non-members are welcome to tour with our group, size permitting, but the museum's normal admission fees ($6 or $5) ) apply.

Directions: In southeast Havre de Grace, between Tydings Park and the Concord Point Lighthouse.

143 N. Main St., Bel Air, MD 21014
"Genealogical Seminar"

      Our major program for 2013 will be a multi-session Genealogical Seminar. Our guest speakers will be two well-known genealogists from the Maryland area. Our speaker in the morning will be Rebecca Whitman Koford and in the afternoon Julia Coldren-Walker. Click on the speakers name for additional information.

Admission: HCGS members - FREE; Non-members - $20; Students (with school ID) - $10. Seating is limited. Bring your own brown-bag. Light refreshments and drinks provided.

09:00 - 09:15 Late Registration
09:15 - 09:30 Introductions / Welcome
09:30 - 10:30 Researching Your War of 1812 Ancestors and the Preserve the Pension Project (Koford)
10:30 - 10:45 break
10:45 - 11:45 Grandmother, Where Art Thou (Koford)
11:45 - 12:45 Lunch
12:45 - 01:45 You Better Watch Out: Errors Omissions & Fraud (Coldren-Walker)
01:45 - 02:00 Break
02:00 - 03:00 Newspaper Research on the Internet (Coldren-Walker)
03:00 - 03:15 Thanks

New members special ... join for 2014 and get members admission (free!) to this 2013 event.

143 N. Main St, Bel Air, MD 21014
"Hereditary Fair"

      On Saturday, 18-May-2013, we will host a FREE Hereditary Fair from (tentatively) 1:00-4:00 P.M. at the Historical Society of Harford County. The following organizations have indicated that their personnel will staff tables to provide visitors with handouts and information, and answer questions:
Daughters of American Colonists (DAC)
Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)
Sons of the American Revolution (SAR)
Children of the American Revolution (CAR)
The Hereditary Order of the Signers of the Bush Declaration
General Society of the War of 1812
Colonial Dames of America
The Historical Society of Harford County [the host location]
The Harford County Genealogical Society [the host organization]

      The following organizations are also invited (but have not committed at this time):
General Society of Mayflower Descendants
National Society Daughters of the Union
Upper Shore Genealogical Society of Maryland
Maryland Genealogical Society (MGS)
Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society (MAGS)

      Each organization will have the opportunity to present a brief program on how it supports and contributes to genealogical research. Come find others that share your roots!

143 N. Main St., Bel Air, MD 21014

      Election of officers and board members; research day at HSHC.

143 N. Main St., Bel Air, MD 21014
"Internet Reserch"

      Ann Winkler of HCPL will show us the current best use of the internet for genealogical research.

143 N. Main St, Bel Air, MD 21014
“Researching Harford Countains”

      The speaker will be Jon Harlan Livezey, one of the founders and a past president of the Society. His topic will be "Researching Harford Countians". Jon will cover backgrounds of people of the county, and the use and availability of the most pertinent records for researching them. This should be a good refresher for experienced genealogists and a primer for those new to the ranks.
      Jon is a well known researcher in the county and has authored several publications, most recently the Society's Special Publication No. 44 "Harford County Land Records JLG (A: 1777-1778)". Please join us for an informative talk by one of the Society's most experienced researchers."

* * * Grace U.M.C., 110 W. Bel Air Ave, Aberdeen, MD 21001 * * *
“The churches and families that made the Grace U.M.C.”

      Our guest speaker will be Joe Swisher, the church historian. Please join us for his presentation on the many Aberdeen area Methodist churches that contributed five cornerstones to become the Grace U.M.C. with roots as far back as 1765.

      Joe will also talk about the five Baker brothers that were the church leaders in the early 1900s. A recently completed 200+ year history, with numerous surnames in it, will be available in exchange for a donation.

      An optional box lunch can be pre-purchased, and will be served after the program. If you would like to have a box lunch prepared by the Jarrettsville Creamery & Deli, please complete this order form and send along with your check. Note that orders received after Tuesday May 8 may not be honored.

18-Mar-2012 Meeting
143 N. Main St, Bel Air, MD 21014
“Researching at the DAR Library: There and From Home”

      An overview resources at the DAR Library and Seimes Microfilm Center plus what is available on-line from the comforts of home. The Library organization will include book call system, catalog, Genealogical Records Committee Index, and available on-line databases. The Seimes microfilm collection description will include access to DAR applications and proof documents.
      Our speaker JULIA COLDREN-WALKER began her personal genealogical research began in 1967 with sporadic activity until 1987 when it became continuous. She began using the internet for genealogical research in 1990 with CompuServe’s Genealogy Forum. Attended NGS, FGS, & New England Regional Genealogy Conferences. Served as Registrar for Toaping Castle Chapter, NSDAR. Began genealogical lecturing in 1999. Lectured at the Baltimore Stake (Essex) Family History Conference every year since 2000.

143 N. Main St, Bel Air, MD 21014

      Our November speaker, Bernie Bodt, has been collecting tokens, labels, pictures and information about the Harford County canning industry since the 1950s. His parents, and paternal and maternal (Magness) grandparents were all involved in Harford's canning industry. As a youngster, he was given tokens from their canning houses that he used as his "play money". Bernie's research has found 700 canning houses in the county. In 2009 Bernie produced a canning house map for the Historical Society of Harford County.

4135 Norrisville Road, White Hall, Maryland 21161
1/4 miles west of Madonna (MD 146 & MD 23)

      2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civial War. Our September program will be a panel discussion by descendants of some of the county's oldest surnames. Inspired by Cornelia Nixon's book Jarrettsville, we will discuss the family and community divisions happening in the county at this time. Please see our flyer for additional information.

143 N. Main St, Bel Air, MD 21014

      Guest Speaker: Walter Holloway. Walter has been photographing and preserving the history of the Maryland & Pennsylvania (aka MA & PA) Railroad for many years, and descends from four generations of railroaders. One of his recent efforts was the assembling of a large historical map poster of railroad tracks and stations in the county. Another of his projects has been researching and compiling the history of the MA & PA Railroad for the HSHC. The Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad was established in 1901 by the merging of the Baltimore and Lehigh Railway with the York Southern. The railroad traced a meandering seventy-seven mile route across the rolling Maryland hills from Baltimore through Towson, Bel Air, Whiteford, then on to York, two cities only forty-five highway miles apart. The loss of a U.S. Mail contract and the encroachment of the automobile doomed passenger service in 1953, followed by freight operation from Whiteford south in 1958. As Walter’s research progresses, he continues to gather vignettes of the people and families who made this railroad their occupation, source of income, passion, and way of life for 57 years. Walter has been gathering stories about the employees that made the railroads operate. Surnames: Holloway (no surprises here), Jones, Emrine, Ramsey, Smith, and McConkey. Please join us for an enlightening afternoon, and possibly a clue or bit of information about one of your ancestors.

Stump-Archer Mansion Tour & Annual Picnic
Susquehanna State Park, 4387 Rock Run Rd, Havre de Grace, MD

      The Stump-Archer (or Carter-Archer, or Rock Run) Mansion in Susquehanna State Park near Havre de Grace, is the site of our Society’s annual off-site picnic. This portion of the Park, is known as Rock Run Historic Area.
      Originally, this area was known as the “Land of Promise” a large land grant, belonging to Jacob Giles. John Stump of Stafford bought about 250 acres of this property for his business endeavors. In the 18th century, it became a thriving hamlet with a shipping and trading company, whose ships the Swallow and the Elk traveled back and forth to the West Indies. It also had flint mills, fisheries, a gristmill, and a bridge tollhouse. Still standing, and in working order, is the large gristmill built in 1793 (the mill will not be open at this time).
      Our guide will be Mrs. Yvonne Pons, an Archer family decendant. Please join us for an historical look into the families of the area.

143 N. Main St, Bel Air, MD 21014
Research Day at the Historical Society

      Meeting from 2:00-3:45 PM. Library, Family History, Archives and Court Records will all be open without charge and staffed with knowledgeable personnel. Your specific written objectives will be a help to the experts, as well as you. After a brief orientation and hightlights of collections added over the past year, everyone will be free to ask for help and start searching. Be sure to visit the Historical Society PastPerfect On-Line Electronic Catalog BEFORE coming -- it may save you valuable time.

143 N. Main St, Bel Air, MD 21014
Harford County Grist Mills and Millers

      Mills have long been a popular topic for historians to research and write about. With Broad Creek and Deer Creek running through it, Harford County has a rich mill history and there have been several books published on the subject. In 2009, the Historical Society of Harford County undertook a project to map the old land marks in the area: schools, canneries, general store-post offices, and mills. Our Novemeber speaker, Robert ''Bob'' Marks and his wife Patricia, took on the mills project. They soon discovered that the number of mills of all type in the county numbered in the hundreds and they decided to limit the scope of their project to grist mills, the type of mill most often thought of. Bob will discuss the milling industry in Harford County, and when possible, the millers whose name were often attached to the structure. The result of Bob & Patricia's efforts is the Harford County Mill Seats Map available for purchase at the Historical Society of Harford County.

143 N. Main St, Bel Air, MD 21014
Records of the Quaker Church

      Our speaker is James “Jim” E. Pickard, retired Harford County teacher, and Quaker Historian.
See our flyer with details here.

143 N. Main St, Bel Air, MD 21014
Descendants of the Signers of the Bush Declaration

      Henry Peden and Christopher Smithson will discuss their research project that led to the production of a data CD containing the descendants of the 34 signers of the 22-March-1775 Bush Declaration. The declaration took place in Harford Town (near MD 7 and Abingon Roads), the first County Seat, and was the first Declation of Independence adopted by an organized group of men duly elected by the people. CDs will be availble for purchase.

south of 1804 Baldwin Mill Rd, Forest Hill, MD
The History and Families of Old Brick Church

      OFFSITE Meeting with lunch starting at 2:00 pm in the Old Brick Baptist Church. The program consists of a docent-guided tour of Old Brick Baptist Church, followed by a brief tour of the Jarrettsville United Methodist Church sanctuary, then an indoor luncheon at Jarrettsville UMC. Reservation form for a box lunch order and directions is available here.


143 N. Main St., Bel Air, MD
*** Research Day ***

      Meeting starts at 2:00 pm at HSHC HQ.  Every Historical Society department will be open at the same time, without charge, and staffed with a knowledgeable Historical Society volunteer.  Your specific written research objectives will be a big help to the experts, as well as you.  After a brief orientation with highlights of collections added over the past two years, everyone will be free to ask for help, ask questions, or start searching.

143 N. Main St., Bel Air, MD
Free Persons of Color in Harford County.

      Our guest speaker, Reginald Bishop, will discuss early Black communites and institutions in Harford County and his personal family research.

143 N. Main St., Bel Air, MD
A Group That Flees From the Light: Catholics in the Upper Chesapeake

      Our guest speaker, Father Michael Roach, will discuss the availability and use of Roman Catholic Church records in your genealogy research.

143 N. Main St., Bel Air, MD
Using military records in your family genealogy.

     Craig Scott, of Heritage Books in Westminster, MD, will be our SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Soceity. Heritge Books is one of the county's largest genealogical publishers. Mr. Scott is recognized as an expert in militray records. Please join us for this special occasion with our special guest.
     Many of the Society's Chater Members will be attending. Help us honor those that started our Society 30 years ago.

1 St. Marys Church Rd, Abingdon, MD 21009
The families and history of St Mary’s Episcopal Church

     The Society's annual BOX LUNCH picnic at an OFFSITE location. Be sure to complete and mail the reservation form to be RECEIVED NO LATER THAN 8-May!

143 N. Main St., Bel Air, MD
Plats using Maryland’s Digital Imaging System

     Our speakers, members of our own society, Richard Appel and Douglas Washburn, will demonstrate using Maryland’s Digital Image Reference System for Land Survey, Subdivision, and Condominium Plats to obtain diagrams of land parcels.

143 N. Main St., Bel Air, MD
Digital Image Retrieval System for Land Records

     The Digital Image Retrieval System for Land Records is hosted by the State of Maryland. As a follow-up to the Genealogy Feature article in our July Newsletter, Doug Washburn will be demonstrating how to navigate this system with a live online search for information contained in Harford County deeds that mention his ancestors.

143 N. Main St., Bel Air, MD
Records of the Episcopal church

     Our speaker, Ms. Mary O. Klein, has been the Archivist for the Diocese of Maryland since 2002. Her background is in history and archives work, having earned both her B.A and M.A. from Salisbury University. Her talk will introduce us to the location, operations, and collections of the Maryland Diocesan Archives. These archives hold the official records, manuscripts, and related materials from 1676, concerning the Church of England in colonial Maryland and its successor since the Revolution, the Episcopal Church in Maryland.
     The Maryland Diocesan Archives contains a vast collection of materials. The collections are strongest in the period 1730 to 1900. Materials covering the entire state and District of Columbia include official records, correspondence, minutes, and other records of the Diocese of Maryland and its bishops, clergy, churches, institutions, and organizations. These records are augmented by colonial manuscripts, many colonial and later sermons, parish histories, registers of closed churches, biographical writings, family papers, educational materials, and memorabilia. The archival and manuscript collections are supported by a library of selected books, periodicals, newspapers,maps, and photographs.

1617 Eden Mill Road, Pylesville, MD 21132
Annual Picnic at Eden Mill Park

     Our speaker Roland Beckman will discuss the History and Families of the area starting in 1805 with the house and gristmill that Elijah Stansbury built on more than 200 acres. Some of the family surnames associated with the mill include Eden, Stansbury, Anderson, Smith, Mays, McFadden, Vaughn, and Webb.
     Recently Roland spoke about the Museum at the Jarrettsville Branch, Harford CountyPublic Library. He is extremely knowledgeable about Eden Mill, its families, history, and operations, as well as an entertaining and educational speaker. On June 7th Eden Mill Nature Center & Historic Mill Museum celebrated recent improvements and the addition of 60 acres to the park with a rededication and open house. Completed renovations include the installation of heating and air conditioning, as well as new windows and doors. A whole new energy boost has been given to the Eden Mill site and its programs.

Using PastPerfect™ at the Historical Society of Harford County

   Our speaker, Mrs. Judy Rogers will present to us an introduction and demonstration of the PastPerfect™ Museum Software being implemented by the Historical Society of Harford County. This software allows users to search consolidated indexes of the Historical Society from a single query screen. Thumbnail images of archived material are also available for many entries.
   Her talk will introduce us to features and contents of this new electronic catalog that will eventually replace existing card catalogs. After laying this groundwork, Judy will teach our group how we can search the HSHC collections using PastPerfect™ especially for items pertaining to genealogy.
   Mrs. Rogers is the PastPerfect Team leader at Historical Society of Harford County, and is presently coordinating efforts of converting the HSHC print index to an electronic index as well as collecting and entering different databases that have been compiled by many of the volunteers of the HSHC.
   Judy comes to the HSHC well prepared for this task. She has taught in the Harford County Public School system for 34 years, the last 24 as a media specialist. During her tenure as a media specialist, she supervised computer networks that included research and circulation software, where she was responsible for converting tens of thousands of items, both book & audiovisual items, from a card catalog system to an electronic database. She also trained others in the use of this software.

Methodist Records at Loverly Lane

   Ms. Wanda Barnes Hall, Assistant Archivist at Lovely Lane Museum and Archives, will present a program dealing with Methodist Church related Archives and Research Services available at the Lovely Lane Museum in Baltimore City, Maryland

Michael Pierce & James McConnell will present their program titled 'Digging up your ancestors from the land (records).'

   Are you at a dead-end with your ancestors back in the 17th, 18th, or early 19th centuries? Are you frustrated by the lack of information in census, birth, death, and marriage records for that period? Don't overlook the land records, where many nuggets of information can be found.
   They will show you where to look, and explain the work they have done to map the 900 early land patents in Harford County and help you put it all into context. These maps are a starting point to expedite your own detailed search.
   Jim McConnell is a retired engineer, who lives in St Michaels. He has been researching his family history, beginning in Canada, New England, and South Carolina. This work has produced articles for the South Carolina Historical Society and South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research. Land records and mapping have been a major part of his research.
   Mike Pierce lives in Kingsville, and he has been interested in mapping since an early age. He has spent the past 30 years tracing his family in Canada, New England, and Germany. He has mapped pre-1900 land deeds in Jerusalem Mills and Bel Air, and about 2 years ago, began mapping all of the early Harford County area land patents.
   The two met through the Internet and began collaborating to complete their Harford County, MD effort. They are now working on publishing it.

"DNA Genealogy and You - Unraveling the Mystery", by Sharon Swope

   The program is titled "DNA Genealogy and You - Unraveling the Mystery" by Sharon Swope, editor of 'Our Name's The Game' the newsletter of the South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society ( www.SCPGS.org ) since summer 2001. This program will attempt to answer your questions on DNA and illustrate how DNA testing relates to genealogical research. The object is to put DNA in terms you can understand and show how your research may benefit from participation in a DNA project. Sharon's interest in genetics began in college where her major was Horticulture with an emphasis on plant breeding and plant pathology.

"Annual Picnic"

   July picnic at Holy Trinity Church with Marian Seguin, our hostess and guide

"The Lively World of the Deceased" by Patricia Fagan Tress

   Patricia Tress is an investigator for the Office of Cemetery Oversight formed ten years ago in the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Primary objectives of this Office are licensing and monitoring of individuals, and companies operating cemeteries, or providing burial goods and services to consumers. The Office is charged with determining and enforcing ethical standards related to the operation of cemeteries plus the sales of burial goods and services within the State, in order to protect the citizens of Maryland from unfair and unscrupulous practices.
   Her primary task is to investigate, mediate, and resolve consumer complaints. She is also inventorying cemeteries throughout the State and handling an increasing number of calls regarding abandoned and/or neglected cemeteries.
   Of special interest are the techniques used to research locations and trusteeship of older cemeteries. This program promises to be a rewarding opportunity, for genealogists who like to explore cemeteries and cemetery records.

"Old Surveys, Old Surveying Techniques and Old Deeds" by Everette C. Smith

   Come and learn about rods and chains and mysterious markers, as well as how to unravel the language of your ancestors' deeds.
   Everette Smith is a civil engineer, surveyor, and professional genealogist with interest in tracking old land grants and surveys. He is also an accomplished information technology specialist, systems analyst and corporate consultant. His presentation promises a lively discussion.

24-SEPTEMBER-2006 (4th Sunday):

"Cedar Hill Cemetery Revealed" by Gary Wasielewski

   Cedar Hill is the original municipal cemetery for Havre de Grace, which was long ago abandoned. It is on Elizabeth Street in the northern part of Havre de Grace. Gary, as a history teacher, made a study of the cemetery - finding and photographing the few stones that were left and researching the stories of some buried there.