Sussex County Genealogical Society - Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
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SCGS is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization
The best part about genealogy
is searching for ancestors
and finding friends.
                                                                   Lawrence Dillard
Come to a place where we do both!

Upcoming program - Delaware Public Archives
Silent Sentinels
On Saturday, March 3, 10:30 a.m., the Delaware Public Archives will celebrate Women’s History month by hosting a presentation titled “Silent Sentinels.”  This program, presented by Dr. Cynthia Newton of Wesley College, will focus on women in history who exercised political power before they legally had any political rights. She will discuss historical examples, such as the Silent Sentinels who protested outside the White House for women’s suffrage, with specific focus on the contribution of Delaware’s women to that cause, and how they impact discussions of women and power today.
Dr. Cynthia Newton is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Chair of the History, Politics, and Society Department at Wesley College. She received her undergraduate degree in Politics and Women’s Studies from Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, and her Master’s degree in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from Clark University, also in Worcester. Dr. Newton’s Ph.D. is in Public and International Affairs from Northeastern University in Boston. Her professional interests include significant work on obesity as a public policy area, food policy, gender issues, and civics education. She serves as Chair of the Kent County Committee for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Delaware, and as a board member for the Friends of the Delaware Public Archives.
The program is free to the public and will last approximately one hour.  No reservations are required.  For more information, contact Tom Summers (302) 744-5047 or e-mail

What Would You Take? Evacuating Your Genealogy in an Emergency

In this article, Gena Philibert-Ortega writes about having to recently evacuate her home due to the raging California wildfires – and how she decided what genealogy records and family heirlooms to take with her. Gena is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.

For those living in California, the threat of an earthquake is always there. Unless you have experienced a “big one” you probably have become complacent to the damage and destruction a really big earthquake can wreck. Californians also deal with a season that most states lack: “fire season.” While this season was once thought to be restricted to certain months of the year, it has now become a nearly year-long reality.

2017 ended with a string of fire storms in Southern California. While other states are starting to report snowfall, California is experiencing temperatures in the 70s and 80s with strong, dry Santa Ana winds. Warm weather, winds, and dry brush are the perfect ingredients for the six major California fires that started to burn in December.

Fire Forced My Family to Evacuate

At first, these December fires were nowhere near where I live. The nearest fire was over an hour and a half away. I had been reassuring concerned friends that my family was in no danger and there was nothing to worry about. However, that changed in a matter of about an hour – when we went from being far away from the fires to having a fire that was at the end of my street! No known cause has been determined yet, but with high winds and a field full of dry brush it was just a matter of time before we could be in grave danger.

As we watched the black smoke, fire engines, and police officers gather in our neighborhood, it was obvious that plans needed to be made. By the time the sheriff told us we were under voluntary evacuation, I had already started packing the car to leave. With the amount of smoke present and the visible flames, the fire had quickly become a little too close for comfort.

As he gave us information about leaving, the sheriff said something that really stuck with me. While a voluntary evacuation is just that, voluntary, the next level would be a mandatory evacuation. He warned us: “The next time I come and tell you to leave, you will have five minutes to go.”

So, in a matter of moments, what do you take knowing that everything else might be destroyed before you can come back? What do you decide are the most precious items to bring with you? Obviously, there will be things related to your day-to-day life you’ll want to leave with – but what about your family history? What documents, photographs, heirlooms, books and other resources do you take with you?

Get It Off Your Computer!

One thing that became obvious to me as I was packing up was the importance of not only backing up computer files, but also having that backup in more than one place. For me, I realized that I didn’t have all of my family photos digitized and stored in the “cloud.” I have started that process but am not quite done. Now that the emergency is over and my family is safely back home, that is a priority.

Make sure that you back up your computer regularly and that you digitize your family history and photos – and store everything in the cloud. My family’s recent voluntary evacuation gave me the “luxury” of time to decide what to take; however, you will not be afforded that if faced with a sudden mandatory evacuation, or if you are away from home during the emergency (for example, at work or travel).

Important Papers

After our voluntary evacuation, my son and I traveled to my parents’ home. One of my mom’s first questions when we arrived was if I had grabbed all of our “important papers.” Now, of course, when I hear “important papers” I think genealogy – but she was thinking financial paperwork.

You know what? I didn’t grab any financial records because I felt like they could, with some effort, be replaced. But I did consider my genealogy papers and which of those couldn’t be replaced – and was overwhelmed to realize there was too much to grab.

Everyone’s list of what to take in an emergency is going to be different, and that’s ok. But now is the time to seriously consider what should be digitized and uploaded to the cloud – or even given to a family member on a flash drive should something happen. What genealogy papers should you digitize?

If you’re overwhelmed by the process, start by digitizing original copies of items or documents that cannot be easily replaced. For now, skip scanning things like copies of documents easily found online (census records, for example).

In an evacuation situation, don’t take anything that is not an original copy or that you can obtain copies easily. What should you consider taking during an emergency? My personal belief is you should grab anything that is original and/or cannot be replaced. So, for me that would be:

  • Diaries/journals
  • Photographs
  • Letters of correspondence from ancestors
  • Awards, recognition
  • Original naturalization, military, or other papers

One of the questions I kept asking myself as I was packing was: “What cannot be replaced?”


What heirlooms do you have? Some items that made it into my car were my great-grandmother’s hand-painted 50th anniversary china bowl, a souvenir from Paris owned by my husband’s grandmother, and my maternal grandmother’s hand-made soap. I also grabbed various framed photos off the walls.

I know that seems eclectic and weird (something my son pointed out when I couldn’t find clean clothes in my suitcase the following day). But those are items that, once they are gone, they are gone forever.

Did I forget some things? You bet! So that’s why I’m following through on a plan I’ve had for a while but have never completed: I’m putting together a book of heirloom images that include provenance details, etc., so that if something was to happen and everything was destroyed, we would at least have a physical reminder of those items. And yes, I will be backing it up to my cloud storage.

Your Turn

No matter where you live there’s a chance of some sort of natural or man-made disaster. Fires, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, you name it. As genealogists we are the custodians of our family heirlooms and memories. So, we need to take that responsibility seriously. We may not be able to do much in the case of a sudden emergency, but planning ahead is much better than making a last-minute decision in the stress of the moment.


SCGS Writers’ Workshop
Saturday 17 March 2018
12 noon – 3:00pm
Lewes Public Library
(following the regularly scheduled SCGS general meeting)
               Everyone is welcome to participate and we hope you will enjoy this activity!  You will learn how to set up a blog; in fact, if you bring your laptop or tablet, you will leave with your very own blog and first blog entry up and ready to share. (But, if you are not interested in setting up a blog, you are still welcome to come and write.)
               Tikiah Brown will show us her genealogy blog that she shares with her family, then show us how to set up our own.  She uses the free version of Weebly for her blog, and finds it to be user friendly, allowing her to add text, pictures, and videos if she chooses to do so. There are other programs that can be used to set up blogs, but this is the one she will be showing us.
               Before 03/17, you should choose an ancestor whose life you find interesting, and jot down some ideas you would like to include about this person in a vignette of 500 words or less.  You may want to double-check any dates, place names, etc., that will be included in your writing.  Also, choose any pictures you want to include. is a photo editing program that Tikiah uses with pictures she wants to post in her blog, and has thousands of photos, drawings, and clip-art which are free, publishable images and can be downloaded into your blog.
               This writing will be your first entry in your blog.  The blog is yours to share with family members or friends, and add to as you see fit.  What a great way to celebrate that breakthrough you found last week, or the pictures that were in your grandmother’s scrapbook! You can organize it chronologically, geographically, or by branch of the family. The options are infinite!
               SCGS will provide lunch for those staying for the Writers’ Workshop following the general meeting. Please sign up at the February general meeting or contact the SCGS president, Greer Maneval, or Education Chair, Marilyn McMahon, through our website,, so we have an approximate count for ordering lunches.  Prior registration is not mandatory, just helpful.


GENEALOGY AND DNA: A workshop with speaker, Diahan Southard
Free to the Public - Reservation REQUIRED

Saturday, March 24, 2018 ~ 9:00 am-3:30 pm    DuPont Country Club, 1001 Rockland

Genetic Genealogy: A Get To Know You Guide

Three Powerful Ways To Find Your Best Matches

Connecting Your DNA Matches

A Day Out With Your DNA

A national speaker and regular contributor to Genealogy Gems and Family Tree MagazineDiahan will also offer one-on-one consultations for a fee, on Friday, March 23, 2018. To schedule a private consultation, see Register online at, or complete and return this form:

Delaware Genealogical Society presents

Genealogy and DNA: A Workshop With Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide

Saturday, March 24, 2018 DuPont Country Club




Conference Registration without lunch (can eat off premises) Free_____

Conference Registration with lunch:

Early Bird lunch price online or postmarked through 2/15/18: $10_____

Lunch price purchased online or postmarked after 2/15/18: $15_____

Box Lunch Options (includes fruit, chips, cookie and bottled water):

_____ Turkey Breast, Dried Cranberry Mayo, Fresh Basil and Swiss Cheese on a Kaiser Roll

_____ Rare Roast Beef, Cheddar Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Lettuce and Tomato on Potato Roll

_____ Portobello Mushroom and Hummus Wrap with Marinated Tomatoes and Parsley

Mailed registration deadline: Must be postmarked by March 15, 2018

Checks for lunch made out to “Delaware Genealogical Society”

Send registration and checks to: Delaware Genealogical Society

505 North Market Street Wilmington, DE 19801-3004




WWII vet laid to rest beside his brother
Missing pilot Stanley Stegnerski returned to U.S. 74 years after battle
An honor guard from Fort Meade, Md., moves the casket outside of the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery chapel as a military ceremony begins. RON MACARTHUR - Cape Gazette - Jan 26,2018
The remains of U.S. Army Air Corps 2nd Lt. Stanley Stegnerski were buried Jan. 22 with full military honors.
Janice and Craig Tunell and their family – who were neighbors of siblings Tessa and Henry Stegnerski starting in the 1980s in Wilmington – have long been steadfast friends, and in recent years, the Tunells cared for the aging brother and sister. “They became members of our family. Early on, I was made aware that Stanley was missing,” Janice Tunell said.Tunell said no one who knew Stanley had ever given up hope the two brothers would be reunited.Three Stegnerski brothers – Stanley, Ted and Henry – served in the European Theater during World War II. Henry passed away in 2015 and Ted in 2002. “All of the family is now reunited in heaven, and they know the whole story,” Janice Tunell said.
Tunell said Henry had been coming to a weekend vacation home on the Indian River near Dagsboro since the 1960s. “He was happiest down here,” she said, adding that's the reason he was buried in the downstate veterans cemetery. “This is a glorious day to bring a hero home and have closure,” Tunell said. “The brothers will be side by side as brothers should be.” The Tunells also have a home in the Dagsboro area.
On Feb. 15, 2015, Henry passed away at age 90. Tunell said Henry carried scars of the war with him throughout his life and rarely spoke about his experiences. She said he was among soldiers who went to the Dachau concentration camp when the ovens that killed thousands of people were still in operation. Tunell said Stanley's remains were taken from Germany to a lab in Nebraska, and then flown to Baltimore-Washington International Airport where they were transported to Melson's Funeral Home. “His remains were escorted from Nebraska by a soldier who happened to be 25 years old and an aviator himself,” Tunell said.
Pilot shot down over Germany
On Nov. 21, 1944, Stegnerski, 25, from Chester, Pa., was the pilot of a P-51D Mustang taking off from an English air force base in East Wretham, Norfolk, as part of a bomber escort mission over Germany. Over Merseberg, Germany, American aircraft were attacked by German fighters, and Stegnerski's group closed in on a group of 20 German planes and opened fire. Stegnerski was last seen as he prepared to attack the German Focke-Wulf fighters. Research by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency found a German record of a Nov. 21 crash of a Mustang with a tail number similar to Stegnerski's between the towns of Dollstedt and Grafentonna. The report stated the pilot could not be identified and the remains were buried in Grafentonna. With no information on Stegnerski as a prisoner of war, the Secretary of War declared him missing Nov. 22, 1945, and using captured German records, declared him deceased in July 1947.
A 74-year detective story
Grafentonna was in East Germany, under Soviet control after 1947, restricting efforts by U.S. officials to find the missing pilot.
And that's where the story could have ended, if not for a twist of fate. In June 2007, a historian in now-unified Germany, using a metal detector, discovered a fragment of a plane that still showed four serial numbers. Using German and American records, the fragment was identified as part of Stegnerski's plane. But it would take 10 years before a positive identification could be made, based on DNA provided by Stanley’s brother, Henry. Identifying the remains eventually led to a meeting this past December with the Tunells and Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency representatives. By that time, Henry had passed away; Tunell was certified as next of kin. High school students in the United States and Germany played a critical role in a decade of research. In June 2008, as part of a Sister Cities program, students from Gastonia, N.C., and Gotha, Germany, met near the crash site in Germany and interviewed two residents who witnessed the dogfight and crash. They also interviewed Henry. Those interviews provided information that led a U.S. team to investigate the crash site. In 2008 the team recovered a piece of the plane's engine that matched Stegnerski's aircraft. Tunell said because more recent recovery cases take priority, it would be eight years until the defense agency team excavated the site, finding remains and material evidence. They also found a watch stopped at 12:20 p.m., the approximate time witnesses said the plane crashed. In August 2017, using DNA, dental records and material evidence, the DPAA and Armed Forces Medical Examiner System were able to positively identify the remains as Stegnerski's. Officials met with the Tunells outlining their research and presented them with Stanley's watch. “I couldn't stop the tears,” Tunell said. Stegnerski's niece, Christina Francino of Hampstead, Md., attended the veterans cemetery ceremony with her husband, Steve, and daughters, Lauren and Kelly. She is the daughter of Ted and Marge Stegnerski; Marge lives with the family. In addition, David Iezzi and Brooke Conrad, the students who interviewed Henry, and members of the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory from Dover Air Force Base also attended the ceremony.
More than 400,000 Americans died during World War II, and nearly 73,000 service members are still unaccounted for. Stegnerski's name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium along with others missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he is no longer missing.
Nov. 3, 1942: Stanley Stegnerski joins the Army Air Corps.
Nov. 21, 1944: The 25-year-old pilot is shot down over Germany.
July 9, 1946: Stanley Stegnerski is declared killed in action by U.S. War Department.
June 2007: German historian Herr Leich finds a piece of a plane in a farm field. He contacts the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.
June 2008: Students in a Sister Cities program from Gastonia, N.C., and Gotha, Germany, interview two German residents who witnessed the dogfight and crash. All information is turned over to U.S. officials.
September 2008: Brother Henry Stegnerski, also a World War II veteran, submits DNA. Students interview Henry.
July 2009: Officials conduct preliminary investigation and crash site is added to a recovery list.
Feb. 15, 2015: Henry passes away.
August 2016: Crash site in Germany is excavated.
August 2017: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency officials provide Tunells with confirmation the remains have been positively identified as Stanley Stegnerski.
December 2017: Officials meet with Tunells to explain research. Officials present a watch recovered at the crash site to the couple.
Jan. 22, 2018: Full military honors ceremony for Stanley takes place at Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

Recording Family History

Family History: Interview Questions & Tips to Start the Conversation 

Our family’s story is a vital part of our family history, and recording our own personal history is just as important as compiling a pedigree. The stories passed down by older relatives may include vital clues that help you in the research process as well. Here are some questions to get you started.

  •  How long did your family live in the neighborhood you grew up in? Are parts of the family still there?
  •  Was there extended family living in the area at that time?
  •  Did you live on a farm, and if so, what kind of crops and livestock did you raise?
  •  Did you have pets in your household?
  •  What was your house or apartment like? How many floors? How many rooms?
  •  Where did the family congregate?
  •  What kind of amenities did it have? Indoor plumbing? Electricity? Gas? Telephone? Refrigerator? Cooking stove? Television?
  •  Were there any special items in the house that stand out in your mind? A favorite possession belonging to you, your parents, or a sibling?
  •  What kind of neighborhood did you grow up in?
  •  Did the town have a railroad? Post office? What kinds of stores or shops?
  •  Was your family part of a religious community? If so, where did you go to worship?
  •  What religious ceremonies did you take part in?
  •  Do you have godparents or sponsors?
  •  Where did you go to school?
  •  What level of education do you have?
  •  What was your favorite subject to study?
  •  Did you have any special interests when you were growing up (sports, hobbies, crafts, etc.)?
  •  What kinds of games did you play?
  •  What was your favorite toy?
  •  What did you do for fun (go to the beach, a park, movies, a zoo, etc.)?
  •  Did your family ever take trips to visit family or go on sight-seeing vacations?
  •  Did you ever attend a family reunion, and if so, where was it?
  •  Were there any foreign languages spoken in your household? Do you speak any foreign languages?
  •  Who were your friends growing up?
  •  Who were close friends of the family?
  •  Describe the personalities of your family members.
  •  Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?
  •  Were there any serious illnesses in your family? Do any illnesses run in the family?
  •  Were there any memorable traditions that your family observed?
  •  Can you remember any stories that were told to you as a child (fictional, folk lore, or real life)?
  •  What events stand out in your memories from your childhood?
Source:   -   Visit the Ancestry Support Center at 

Find-A-Grave Has Changed

Source: Ted  Bainbridge,  Ph.D
The home page has become a photograph with a few menu selections across the top.  That page is dominated by the search panel, which functions largely as it did in the past and with the same options for every search box except those related to location.
The old search panel specified location via pull-down lists for country, state, and county.  The new search panel offers a single box for location, in which you are supposed to type the name of a place.  As you begin to type a city, county, state, or country that box auto-fills with suggested place names which you can select with a mouse click.  Use the American English equivalent of a country name; Germany works but Deutschland doesn’t.
The new home page’s menu bar goes across the top of the screen.  Clicking CEMETERIES takes you to a page that lets you hunt cemeteries in either of two ways.  Near the top left of the page is a search box where you can type a cemetery name.  This auto-fill box works as above.  When you select a name, you see a hit list of cemeteries with that name.  Each entry on the hit list displays some facts about that cemetery, and a link to its information page.  That page contains a search box that you can use to hunt for a person’s name.
Instead of using that cemetery-name search box, you can use the cemetery-place search box to its right.  Clicking a place name produces a map of cemeteries near that place.  You can zoom the map in or out, and can pan it in any direction.  (If the map doesn’t display any marker pins, zoom in.)  After a name is in that search box, clicking Search leads to a hit list of cemeteries near that place.  Use this hit list the same way you use the other cemetery search box.


Sussex County Genealogical Society

Wants to Know .. What YOU
Would like to see and hear about at our Genie Bytes and Monthly Meetings.
We have several great speakers lined up for our meetings and are looking for suggestions.
Genie Bytes looks to enhance your search capabilities and discuss not only technical issues but aid in your research.
Let us know .. OK?   Send your suggestions to!

Tip of the Day by Michael John Neill
Want Great tips on Genealogy Research?

March 1
Genie Bytes
Presentation of the Spring Discussion Group Program.   Genie Bytes explores a wide range of topics that cover technology issues. You’re welcome to bring your laptops or tablets. Internet access available through library. Members welcome to suggest future topics. ...
March 14
Board Meeting
Board/Committee Reporting and Planning.  Lunch afterwards.
March 17
Monthly Membership Meeting & Guest Speaker
10 - 11:00 AM  Guest Speaker Kim Bucklaw - 19th & 20th Urban Genealogy - City Directories and Timelines 11:15 - 12 PM  General Meeting
March 17
SCGS Writer Workshop
Everyone is welcome to participate and we hope you will enjoy this activity!  You will learn how to set up a blog; in fact, if you bring your laptop or tablet, you will leave with your very own blog ...
April 3
Join Us -  6 Consecutive Tuesdays: MAP YOUR LIFE April 3rd, 10th, 17th - 11AM to 1PM April 24th - 1PM - 3PM May 1st, 8th - 11AM - 1PM More Details to follow.
April 5
Genie Bytes
Genie Bytes explores a wide range of topics that cover technology issues. You’re welcome to bring your laptops or tablets. Internet access available through library. Members welcome to suggest future topics.
April 11
Board Meeting
Board/Committee Reporting and Planning.  Lunch afterwards.
April 21
Monthly Membership Meeting & Guest Speaker
10 - 11:00 AM  Guest Speaker Mike Dixon discusses Adventures in Research 11:15 - 12 PM  General Meeting
May 3
Genie Bytes
Genie Bytes explores a wide range of topics that cover technology issues. You’re welcome to bring your laptops or tablets. Internet access available through library. Members welcome to suggest future topics.
May 9
Board Meeting
Board/Committee Reporting and Planning.  Lunch afterwards.