Introduction by Leland Adams
Silver Anniversary History Introduction As the interest in genealogy grew in the sixties and early seventies, so did the forming of genealogical societies grow.  As societies became more numerous it was felt that there should be a state umbrella organization.  Many states already had organized state societies, varying from loose confederations to state societies with local societies as chapters directly under the state organization. Much discussion on the pros and cons of different forms of state societies began and continued in Kansas for some time before the determination to actually organize. Many were fearful of a strong state organization that would dictate to local societies. However, communication was needed among the numerous societies forming in the state. A good example was that Kansas Genealogical Society in Dodge City had acquired records from Atchison County, several hundred miles from Dodge City. Who would think of looking in Dodge City for Atchison County records? This was the primary purpose in the beginning – certainly not a strong governing organization. This is why the bylaws and constitution of Illinois and Michigan were studied, rather than Ohio and Iowa, stronger state organizations with local societies as chapters of the state organization. The idea of communication between societies through a state organization was a very good one, except for one thing. It didn’t work. While societies were very glad to get the state newsletter (later becoming the “Kansas Review”), they did not want to take time to contribute to the newsletter. This is one of the reasons districts were organized so that the district representative could visit or contact the societies in their district and report to the state what was going on so it could be published for other societies to use. A speakers’ list was also developed for the same reason, so that a society well pleased with a speaker could let others know, that they, too, might get the same speaker. As you will see by reading the history, over the years the Council has grown from a small organization to its present size in both numbers and scope. It really began to grow rapidly in the mid-eighties. This was due to an increase in genealogical interest, which was reflected in more societies being formed, and the need to fulfill the needs of the new organizations. The first annual meeting, June 1975, was attended by twenty-five people, representing nine societies. The first year the Council had an income of $175.00. In 1999, gross income was $40,935.32, and a membership of 71 societies and 200 affiliate members, for a total of 271. We handled 1,286 pieces of mail. The society has gone through some bad times; one in particular was the reprinting of the 1887 Kansas Atlas, which turned into a financial disaster. Thanks to Harriet Hoffman, a very dedicated genealogist and supporter of the Council, who pulled the Council out of a very serious situation by donating enough money to keep the organization going. The Council showed its gratitude by establishing the “Harriet E. Hoffman Award” for outstanding service, and passed a resolution to give her a life membership as well as a copy of any publication of the Council. What of the future of the Council? Hopefully, it will continue its amazing growth and service to the membership. Genealogy continues to grow, but is changing due to computer technology. Alex Haley’s book Roots gave genealogy a big boost, followed by the bicentennial in the mid-seventies, which made people want to know more about their family history. As more and more people became interested, more information became available. As we all know, the LDS Church (Mormon) has done more to help both members and non-members with their genealogy than everyone else combined Computers are changing the method of research, which may not be good for societies as we know them now. It will probably change the way they approach genealogy, by teaching members how to use their own PC’s or library computers to do research, to supplement the traditional methods we now use. Writing this history has been a pleasure. Since I have been in the Council since its inception, the history brought back many fond memories of people that I had not thought about for years, and events, such as the annual meeting in Cawker City and attending a garage sale in Stafford during the annual meeting there. Alberta Dennis, Garden City, treasurer for a number of years and close friend, had such a good sense of humor. She said the reason she served as treasurer for so many years was because she could never get the books to balance, so she had to keep serving so no one would find out. As soon as she got them to balance, she quit. I want to thank our present Recording Secretary, Rowena Olsen, for furnishing copies of minutes, and our President, Lee Kensett, for not only giving information, but also for proof reading and making helpful suggestions. May the next twenty-five years be even better than the last twenty-five. The “Old Has Been” that wrote this – Leland Adams February, 2000
1974 to 1979


The possibility of organizing a state genealogical society in Kansas was discussed and planned for a couple of years before a meeting was called. Both Topeka and Dodge City societies spoke of having such a meeting. A letter from Lewis E. Howard, President of Topeka Genealogical Society, bowing to Dodge City’s Kansas Genealogical Society as a site for an organizational meeting, set the stage for the first meeting on February 12, 1974 at the Dodge House.

Eighteen people representing six societies accepted the invitation to attend the planning meeting at Dodge City. Persons attending were Alberta Dennis and Betty Jo Reeves, Garden City, representing Finney County GS; David Jefferis, LaCrosse, representing Fort Hays GS; Cleora Jacobs and Sarah Carnine, Wichita, representing Midwest GS; Laurene Pittman and Grace Woldt, Manhattan, representing Thomas County GS. The host society in Dodge City was represented by Faye Hardaway, Copeland; Blondie Neely and Betty Allen, Bucklin; Ethel Taylor, Cimarron; Malinda Peterson, Hutchinson; Lillian French, Partridge; and Eilein Bastian, Gertrude Josserand, Dorothy Wright, and Doris Rooney, Dodge City.

Ethel Taylor and Dorothy Wright were named temporary chairman and secretary, respectively. The advantages of a state organization were discussed, such as being a clearing-house for information between societies through a bimonthly newsletter, helping to organize new local societies and fostering cooperation between genealogical and other organizations, particularly historical societies. The state organization would in no way interfere in the internal affairs of any local society. The group sent a report to all societies in the state, along with an invitation to send a representative to the next meeting.

The next meeting, dubbed the “organizational” meeting, in Salina, Tuesday, June 18, 1974, attracted thirty-four persons representing fourteen of the eighteen genealogical societies in Kansas. Doris Rooney welcomed the group, and Ethel Taylor, chairman, opened the meeting. The group approved Clarence Staley’s motion that they proceed with the founding of a state organization. They agreed that each member society would have one vote. Officers elected were Laurene Pittman, President; Leland Adams, Vice President; Clarence Staley, Secretary; and Alberta Dennis, Treasurer. The first news release of the new organization was given to the Iola Register, June 20, 1974, citing the “Genealogical Council of Kansas” and officers elected.

The officers met December 7, 1974, in Manhattan, along with Grace Woldt, Garland Hinkle, and Cleo Staley, to choose a name and draft a constitution. The name selected for the new organization was the “Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies.” The constitution of the Illinois State Genealogical Society and the Michigan Articles of Agreement were reviewed. A fee for the newsletter was set at three dollars for six issues. A $5 donation was requested to help with organizational costs. Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies was now in existence and ready to face the world of Genealogy.

The Bylaws Committee included Doris Rooney and Grace Woldt, plus the four elected officers. The committee, in a February memo to all societies, asked that two delegates from each society represented at the organizational meeting review the proposed Bylaws and, if no objections, present the Bylaws to their respective societies for approval.

1975 – 1976

At the first annual meeting held at the Hilton Inn, Salina, June 17, 1975, sixteen delegates and nine guests represented nine societies. President Pittman announced the resignation of the secretary, Clarence Staley of Iola, who was moving out of state.  New officers elected were Leland Adams, President, Overland Park; Cleora Jacobs, Vice President, Wichita; Donna Adams, Dodge City, Secretary; and Alberta Dennis, Garden City, Treasurer.

The proposed Bylaws were approved at this meeting. Membership fee was set at $10.00.  Two delegates of alternates could represent each society at the Annual Meeting.  The President and Vice President were to be elected in odd numbered years, and the Treasurer and Secretary in even numbered years.  The Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka, and the National Archives and Records Center in Kansas City were to be honorary members of the Council.

A summer board meeting was held at the Wichita Public Library with all officers present, plus newsletter editor, Isabella Malone. Dues and Bylaws changes were discussed.  A vote of thanks was given to Isabella Malone for the fine job she had done as editor.

A special meeting was held September 20, 1975, at Cowtown in Wichita, at which the Bylaws Committee presented a workable solution to the delegates at the Annual Conference. Two votes were to be cast by each society, however they chose.  Annual dues were set at $5.00 with newsletter subscription $5.00 also.

1976 – 1977

The second annual meeting was held June 19, 1976, at the Cowtown Community Building, Wichita, with representatives from ten societies present. Midwest GS was the host society.  Ernest Hart was appointed as acting secretary in the absence of the Secretary.  Alberta Dennis was elected to serve another term as Treasurer, and Ernest Hart was elected Secretary.  The Treasurer announced fourteen societies had paid dues for 1975-76.

A committee of Doris Rooney, Chairman, Bob Barclay, Alberta Dennis, Virgil Pangburn, and Velva Hall was appointed to set guidelines for publication and distribution of the newsletter. Olin Karch, Emporia, was the speaker, talking on the history of photography and its use in genealogical research.

1977 – 1978

The third Annual Meeting of the Council was held June 18, 1977, at the National Archives in Kansas City, Missouri. Joyce Hensen, Topeka, was acting secretary.  Alberta Dennis, Treasurer, reported that for the first time the bank balance exceeded $200.00.  Allen Gardiner, Topeka, agreed to serve as editor.

In view of the large amount in the treasury, the Council suspended dues the next year for all societies that had already paid, and notified each society in advance that dues must be paid by June 1. Clarification of membership was finally determined.  Membership for each society in the Council, including subscription to the newsletter, would be $5.00.  An individual who was a member of a society in good standing would pay $1.00 for a subscription, and an individual not a member of a society in good standing would pay $3.00.  Cleora Jacobs, Wichita, was elected President, and Joyce Hensen, Topeka, Vice President.  Following the meeting the attendees had an excellent tour of the National Archives Regional Center by Reed Whitaker, Chief Archivist.

1978 – 1979

The fourth Annual Meeting was held June 11, 1978, in the auditorium of the Kansas Historical Society, Topeka. Representatives from eight societies were present.  Topeka GS was the host society.  Alberta Dennis, Treasurer, reported 21 member societies in 1977-78 and the balance on hand was $403.35.

The Council approved editor Allen Gardiner’s motion that the Council adopt a rotating subscription policy, with each subscription starting with the first issue following the date of joining the Council. Back issues were $1.00 each.  He also requested that unpublished cemetery projects be reported to him to publish in the newsletter.

The Council approved Leland Adams’ motion that we accept the National Archives offer of 7 rolls of microfilm of the 1880 Soundex for Kansas. Where to house them was to be determined later, since the Kansas State Historical Library did not have storage room.

Bonnie Short was elected Secretary, and Alberta Dennis was elected to her third term as Treasurer. Joyce Hensen introduced Joseph Snell, Executive Director of the Kansas State Historical Society, as the speaker.

1979 – 1980

The fifth Annual Meeting was held June 9, 1979, in Hutchinson. Raymond Stewart, Vice President of the Reno County GS welcomed attendees.  The Council voted to join the Federation of Genealogical Societies.  Mildred Blubaugh was secretary pro-tem.  Joyce Hensen was elected President, and appointed Jo Eslinger as Secretary to fill the unexpired term of Bonnie Short.  Keitha Bohlander was elected Vice President.

On September 15, 1979, a board meeting was held at the Topeka GS Library. The Council decided to hold learning sessions for different offices in a society and agreed to have the first session the 10th of November at Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott.  Keitha Bohlander made arrangements.

KCGS planned to offer research trips to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. LaRita Neeley was authorized to conduct a bus tour to Salt Lake City about May 1 of 1980.

New fees were set: $5.00 a year for member societies, $5.00 a year for subscribers not a member of a member society, and $3.00 a year for a person belonging to a member society.  New letterhead stationery was printed, listing, in addition to the officers, Cleora Jacobs as Past President and Leland Adams as Assistant Editor.

President Hensen in her September 24 letter to society members, urged all genealogists to contact their representatives regarding a proposed Open Records Law in the Kansas legislature. Larry Gilbert, President of the Topeka GS, monitored the bill.  President Joyce Hensen and Leland Adams attended the Federation of Genealogical Societies meeting in Omaha.

The November 10, 1979 semi-annual meeting was held at the College in Fort Scott, with Schools of Learning for each of the different offices in a society. Richard Lackey, Forest, Mississippi, talked on Land Records.

“Proposed Goals of the Kansas Council” signed by the Board of Directors, were presented to the membership. Briefly, the goals were to hold an Annual Meeting in June of each year; a semi-annual meeting to assist officers in different positions in a local society; to conduct special projects; organize bus trips to various places for genealogical purposes; improve the Council newsletter; establish a speakers’ bureau to help societies obtain good speakers; and give whatever assistance the Council could to any society.

1980 to 1989

A meeting of the board was held at the Topeka GS Library, April 11, 1980, the day before the Topeka GS annual workshop. With both Riley County and North Central Kansas societies offering to host the June meeting, the Council accepted Alberta Dennis’ motion to have it in North Central Kansas at Cawker City.  Betty Harvey Williams, a well-known genealogist from Missouri, was to be the speaker.

The Council applied for a tax number from IRS so they could apply for a non-profit mailing permit. Larry Gilbert replaced Anita Cole as editor.  Sharon Kunard was to report in June on the pros and cons of incorporating.

A special board meeting was held on April 19, 1980, at the Topeka GS Library in Topeka. The purpose was to discuss the letter from IRS about the non-profit status.  The board voted unanimously to change the bylaws to comply with the IRS letter.

1980 – 1981

The minutes of the sixth Annual Meeting in June 1980 at Cawker City are missing. However, the author attended the meeting, and a better time was never had by those of us from any out of town.  They mayor presented President Hensen with a key to the City.  We viewed the world’s largest bailer twine roll, which is in the Guinness Book of Records.  Many added twine to the huge ball already in existence.

The hotel was unique. It was a hot summer night, and there was no air conditioning.  We each slept with his or her hotel room door open.  Three times I moved from the room I was in initially.  In the first room, some lady had left her hair curlers.  Secretary Jo Eslinger and some of the older members of the society, who couldn’t climb stairs as well as I, moved into the room I vacated.  Jo very obligingly offered to return “my hair curlers” to me.  It was, needless to say, only one of the many jokes going around.

The meeting itself was actually held in Glen Elder. Later we all went back to Cawker City for a tour of the library.  For those of us attending, the memory of the hospitality, and all around good time will remain with us for the rest of our lives.

President Hensen sent a letter to all board members dated October 2, 1980, in which she asked that members vote on three proposed projects for the Council. Jo Eslinger had purchased a History of Sedgwick County, and suggested that the Council could reprint the book.  Since Topeka GS has withdrawn from re-printing The Official State Atlas of Kansas, 1887, the Council could reprint it.  Should the Council consider issuing Pioneer Certificates?  President Hensen asked for a yes or no vote on each of the proposed projects.  The names of Larry Gilbert, Editor, Topeka, and Tour Director, LaRita Neeley, Silver Lake, were added to the letterhead.

On January 10, 1981, the Board met at the home of Recording Secretary Jo Eslinger in Wichita. Mildred Loeffler, President of Riley County GS, host society for the Annual Meeting, attended the board meeting.  Doris Bowers, Decatur, Illinois, was to be the speaker.  The Board made final plans to issue Territorial/Pioneer Certificates to anyone having an ancestor in Kansas prior to 1880.  A charge of $3.00 was set for each certificate issued.  Betty Jo Long, Topeka, was named as Chairman.  Plans were discussed for a statewide Surname Index to sell as a money maker for the Council.

Tour Director LaRita Neeley announced plans for a research trip to Indiana. The decision was made at the 1980 Annual Meeting that the Council should incorporate.  A post office box was rented in Topeka.  Rowena Horr was Administrator, and logged in and distributed mail.  Dues continued to go to Treasurer Alberta Dennis.  Larry Gilbert, Editor, and Raymond Riley, printer, were commended for the excellent job they did in elevating the “Review” to a state of excellence.

The Board approved moving forward with Walsworth Printing to reprint The Official State Atlas of Kansas, 1887, (hereafter referred to as Kansas Atlas and sought approval from the membership.

1981 – 1982

At the Board meeting in Manhattan, June 12, 1981, Alberta Dennis resigned as Treasurer, and Miriam Eads was appointed to complete her term of office. Larry Gilbert resigned as Editor and Gayle Graham was appointed as the new Editor.

At the Annual Meeting, June 13, 1981, new committees added were Pioneer Certificates, Administrative, and Legislative. A list of job descriptions was developed.  Earl Underwood, Marysville, was elected President, and Irene Cortez, Vice President.  Membership dues were increased from $5.00 to $7.50.

A Board meeting was held October 12, 1981, in Junction City. To enhance communication between the member societies and the Council, it was decided to have a representative for each U.S. Congressional District.  There needed to be a change in the bylaws reflecting the use of congressional districts and directors.

1982 – 1983

The Smokey Valley GS Library was open to guests and a reception was held the evening before the eighth Annual Meeting of the Council in Salina, June 12, 1982.

Vice President Irene Cortez announced the resignation of President Earl Underwood and assumed the duties of President. Rowena Horr, Administrative Secretary, reported that there were twelve orders for the 1887 Kansas Atlas.  The Family History Library, Salt Lake City, asked for a copy of the “Review” to microfilm.

The tours continued to be popular. Tour Director LaRita Neeley reported fifty-three people and two bus drivers made the trip to Salt Lake City.

Leland Adams reported the Open Records Bill was still in Committee. He also reported on Federation of Genealogical Societies annual meeting for 1985.  The Council President appointed a representative to attend the meeting and asked that the meeting be held in Kansas City.  Raymond Riley gave a slide presentation of the Salt Lake City tour and reported on the printing of the “Review.”  Betty Jo Long issued 271 certificates in the Forgotten Settlers project, with a profit of $87.24.  Joyce Hensen reported on the publishing of the Kansas Atlas.  Alan Riedel was elected Treasurer and Mildred Loeffler was elected Secretary.

The board meeting was held in Wichita August 21, 1982, at the home of Jo Eslinger, with President Irene Cortez presiding. Jim Reed, representative of Walsworth Publishing, said the Kansas Atlas was nearly ready.  The Council ordered 500 books and was billed $7,000.00 when printing was started, with the remaining due 90 days after delivery.  Post-publication price was set at $85.00 per book.  Miriam Eads reported $6,00.00 in savings and $430.00 in the checking account.

Jo Eslinger was named to fill the vacant office of Vice President. Larry Gilbert was appointed Editor of the “Review.”  Extra copies of the county maps in the “Review” will be made available for sale.

Because of the work and responsibility involved, the Board approved that Tour Director Neeley have her way paid to Salt Lake City, by charging participants an extra ten dollars on the cost of the trip.

An Early Settlers category, covering the years 1881-1900, was added to the certificate program at Leland Adams’ suggestion. A pre-publication charge of $12.50 and $15.00 post production was set for each of the three volumes of Forgotten Settlers scheduled for publication.

At the Board meeting October 18, 1982, in Topeka, Governor John Carlin was presented a copy of the Kansas Atlas reprint.  Copies were also given to the Governor’s office, and the Kansas State Historical Society.  Governor Carlin commended the Council on their achievements.

The Council paid the $20 dues for membership in the Federation of Genealogical Societies. Kansas was the only state that had two members (Joyce Hensen and Leland Adams) on the Federation board.  Betty Jo Long was commended for her excellent work in putting the mailing lists and other items on the computer.

Subscription and membership dues were discussed. For a $5.00 membership, each member society was to receive two copies of the “Review.”  For persons who belonged to a member society, subscriptions were $7.50 and for persons not belonging to a member society, the fee was $8.00 per year.

A Board meeting was held December 11, 1982. Rowena Horr reported on the forms she used for incoming and outgoing correspondence.  It was suggested she give a copy to the President before the quarterly and annual meetings.  President Irene Cortez suggested that blank forms be made available to the member societies for their use.

A flyer, requesting that people contact their congressman urging them to vote “no” on the bill to withhold taxes on interest and dividents, was to be printed in the “Review,” with an accompanying explanation written by Leland Adams. Betty Jo Long reported that over 200 copies of the “Review” are to be mailed, so we can take advantage of lower postal rates.  Betty Jo also reported that Volume 2 of the Forgotten Settlers was nearly finished, and she would like to have 233 orders before printing.

Joyce Hensen reported that the first and second mailing of the Kansas Atlas was completed, and that the $70.00 pre-publication price was being accepted until the flyers go out with the post-publication price.  The Council was advised that interest would be added to any unpaid amount not paid by February 1, 1983.  The 1883 Andreas’ The History of the State of Kansas was being reprinted.

The name of the President, Treasurer, and the person in charge of a project will be on the name of the Council checking accounts. It was voted to print information flyers about the Council.  Queries in the “Review” were to be free.  Incorporation papers for the Council will be filed with the State.

Procedure for selecting a nominating committee to prepare a slate of officers was determined, with the committee chosen by lot from the societies, each of whom was to supply a member of the nominating committee, if selected, and the member from Reno County to chair the committee. Members or alternates were to be selected from the following societies:  Midwest GS, Republic GS, Leavenworth GS, Heritage GS, Riley County GS, and Linn County HS.  The name of the member to serve was to be submitted to President Irene Cortez by January 30, 1983, with the slate of officers completed by March 31st.  However, several of the societies who were selected by lot to provide a member for the nominating committee did not do so, so there was no committee.

A board meeting was held in Wichita April 9, 1983, with President Irene Cortez presiding. The treasurer reported balances in the checking account of $1,623.23, and savings account of $1,579.81.  President Cortez reported that Raymond Riley, due to a change in management in his office, was unable to continue printing the “Review.”  He tendered his resignation from the board, and declined the offer to continue on the board.  Joyce Hensen resigned as Atlas Reprint Chairman and Mary Douglass of Salina was named as a replacement.

Walsworth pressed the Council for payment of their bill, and would not allow KCGS to make payments, and charge the Council interest. No financial institution could be found to loan money to the Council.  Miriam Eads’ records show the Council owed Walsworth $16,250.00 and had assets of $1,378.12.

Betty Jo Long reported the first volume of Forgotten Settlers was ready to mail.  A $20.00 registration fee was approved for the June 1983 Annual Meeting.  No registrations for the Annual Meeting had been received, and the cost was estimated at $725.00.  The March issue of the “Review” was printed by Jim Wagner.  He bid $270.00 for 230 copies; other printers were contacted.

The board meeting was held at the home of Jo Eslinger in Wichita June 3, 1983, with President Irene Cortez presiding. Betty Jo Long reported that she had received a letter of thanks from the Kansas State Historical Society Library for gift of Volume 1 of the Forgotten Settlers, and also from the Library of Congress for the back issues of the “Review.”

After reporting on the Kansas Atlas funds, Miriam Eads was instructed to send $1,000.00 to Walsworth Publishing Company immediately.  A $50.00 award was to be given the society selling the largest number of Kansas Atlas books.  Registration for the Annual Meeting was reduced to $16.50, and late registration fees were waived.  Leland Adams reported problems keeping up with pending legislation, as the legislative calendar was changed without notification.

Rowena Horr pleaded for a volunteer to serve as editor for the “Review.” Betty Jo Long reported 29 new subscriptions for the “Review,” with 293 now being mailed.

1983 – 1984

The ninth Annual Meeting was held in Wichita, June 4, 1983, at the Hyde Park Methodist Church, with President Irene Cortez presiding. Lou Ecton, President of Midwest GS, welcomed the group.  Treasurer Alan Riedel reported $1,157.00 in the checking account and $1,069.81 in savings.

Members were urged to write their Senators in support of the National Archives becoming an independent agency from GSA.

Helen King reported on the upcoming dedication of the Kansas State Historical Society Museum, probably in June 1984. Rowena Horr announced 598 pieces of mail had been received since January 1983.  Leland Adams reported on the Open Records Law passed by the Kansas legistlature.


1990 to 1999
2000 to 2009
2010 to 2019