A Day in the Life of Jens Dahle: 23 March 1865

We are following Jens Dahle and his Civil War experiences in Salisbury Prison in North Carolina at the time of the 150th anniversary of those events.

Jens has been released from prison (22 February 1865) and traveled by train (other able bodied prisoners had to walk) to Richmond from Salisbury, North Carolina.  On March 10th a prisoner exchange occurred at Cox’s Landing and Jens probably was loaded onto a steamer.  On 13 March he crossed into Union territory, location unknown but possibly Annapolis.

train Civil WarTwo days after being repatriated with the Union army he probably boarded a train and traveled to Benton Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri where he arrived on 23 March 1865. I found difficulty in obtaining much information on the Benton Barracks.  The area has been cleared for many years now.  Benton Barracks was a combination of a Union tent city–it was described as long rows of tents up to a mile long– and a hospital and large parade grounds.

Nevertheless, Jens stayed only long enough to receive a 30 day furlough (like James Everhart) and within two days of his arrival he boarded another train, this time to Chicago.

It is not known if Jens traveled in a new innovation for moving the sick and injured–the hospital train– shown above in the lithograph, but it is likely.  Given his emaciated condition this seems like the most likely occurrence.  Or, maybe I just want to think that maybe he was transferred in this type of transportation because it seems more humane.

Jens has now been traveling for about a month since his release.

The end of the war now seems inevitable.

Happy Hunting!


March/April Lecture Schedule

I am very pleased with my lecture schedule for the next four weeks.  I have two all day presentations and four single presentations.  Towards the end of ProGen (in mid 2014), I realized that I wanted to focus on genealogical lecturing. I developed goals for the advancement of this aspect of my genealogy work.

My goals looked like this (scheduling is usually 6 months to a year in advance of actually presenting):

  • 2014:  start scheduling local lectures
  • 2015: start scheduling regional lectures
  • 2016: start scheduling national lectures

I am thrilled at my progress!  I not only am scheduling regionally but I am speaking regionally–British Columbia; Burbank, California and Cape Cod/Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Here are some things I have done to expand my lecturing “reach.”

  • I solicited ideas and comments about how to make great presentations from professional genealogists on two listserves I subscribe to.
  • When a friend couldn’t do a couple of presentations, I was flexible enough to be able to step in.  This turned out to be a bigger deal than I initially thought, as the experience exposed me to some other groups which have subsequently hired me.
  • I asked Angela McGhie, a noted lecturer and blogger, to review and critique my response to requests for proposals and lecture list.  She was most kind and offered great constructive criticism.
  • I studied the book Presentation Zen, which offered some terrific concepts about how to improve presentations–development, design and presenting.
  • I have spent considerable time developing 15 lectures with two more in draft form.
  • I make sure I have obtained evaluations from the attendees whenever I speak.  I also self-evaluate every presentation.
  • I have sent out 3 (only) “cold call emails” to Vancouver, BC, Durham, NC and Cape Cod.  Two of the three (!) have asked me to speak to their group.
  • I attended Billie Fogarty’s presentation on lecturing at the Professional Management Conference.  I got several great ideas and some confirmation on others. (Did you know– it takes 80 hours to develop a presentation?!–I believe it.)
  • I have reactivated working on my website. Hope to have it active in a couple of months
  • I have improved the quality of my syllabi, a criticism of last year. These need to be content rich white papers and not taken lightly.
  • Often syllabi have to be submitted much in advance of the presentation itself.  In the interim, new information is identified which would be good for the audience to have but I would have no way to get that information to the audience except in the presenation itself. For each group I present to, I develop a website and post 1.) an outline of my lecture, 2.) the syllabus, 3.) the resources listed on the presentation and 4.) any other references and resources that emerge since the time the syllabus was submitted.
  • I am keeping my lectures updated on the Genealogical Speakers Guild page.  I also look at other lecturers websites and lecture lists to get ideas.

All that work in high school with Fred Swisher and Miss Hess (?), speaking at Iowa State Speech contests is paying off.  Of course, there is no substitute, ever, for good work.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since my last posting:  I have been working on presentations which are scheduled in the next 4 weeks.  In development are two more, one on insanity in the 19th century using Dirk Bode as my case study and another requested by a genealogical society on Tech Tools. I am also writing an article for the Illinois Genealogical Society Quarterly on an overview of non-population schedules. I have responded to three Calls for Proposals totaling 17 proposals. I’ll keep you posted.

A Day in the LIfe of Jens Dahle: 10-13 March 1865

We are following Jens Dahle and his Civil War experiences in Salisbury Prison in North Carolina at the time of the 150th anniversary of those events.

Early in the war, prisoner exchanges between the two armies were informal agreements between military leaders but frequent enough that prisons were basically holding pens of a short duration. In April 1864, General Grant determined that the exchanges benefited the South more than the North and stopped the practice.  The South also disagreed with the concept of equal value for an African American soldier. As a result, both the North and the South experienced a sharp increase in the number of prisoners in prisons  which were sized to handle many fewer individuals. On 24 January 1865, the Confederacy agreed to resume prisoner exchanges.1

Jens was released from Salisbury Prison on 22 February 1865.  He was too sick to walk the 50 miles to Greensboro and so he traveled by train.

He arrived in Richmond two days later, on the 24th.2

cox's landingOn 10 March, Jens was paroled at Cox’s Landing in Virginia (see image on left3) but what he experienced those intervening 16 days in Richmond or how he traveled to Cox’s Landing is unknown. If he mirrored the experiences of James Eberhart, our diarist, he boarded a steamer at Cox’s Landing, due east of Richmond on the Rappahannock River.  On 13 March he arrived at the Union Line but again we are not sure where that event occurred.3

Happy Hunting!


1 January 14, 1865: Confederate Congress Agrees to Resume Prisoner Exchanges, History.com (http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/confederate-congress-to-resume-prisoner-exchanges : accessed 1 January 2015).
2 Jens Dahle,  Compiled Military Service Record.
3 “Cox’s Landing, Virginia. Waiting for Flag-of-Truce boat,” image from stereograph, Library of Congress (digital file from original neg. of left half) cwpb 02167, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cwpb.02167.
4 Jens Dahle, Compiled Military Service Record.

Official Blogger for the NGS 2015 Conference

As you can see by the new logo on the right hand sidebar that I received notice that I was accepted as an Official Blogger of the National Genealogy Society (NGS) conference to be held the 13th- 16th of May in St. Charles, Missouri.  I was excited to be named for the third year in a row to this role.

The role comes with some benefits and some responsibilities.

  • I get to register at the press table and I get a ribbon.
  • I can sit at the press table with free wi-fi. (to me, this is a big benefit!)
  • I can compete for some monetary prizes if I do a really good job of blogging about the conference.
  • I get to post a cool logo on my blog site! (More importantly, I even figured out HOW to post the cool logo on my web site–not always a given.)

Since prizes are not my motivation, I will probably not be a contender for the money.  There is no other remuneration.

My other responsibilities are to blog before, during and after the conference so there were be a few postings about the conference. I will start each one with NGS, so if you are not interested, you know where the delete key is on your keyboard.  I like to blog during the conference but sometimes I get so engrossed in what I am doing that I cannot extricate myself from the intensity of the conference–which is, to me, a good thing!  As a consequence, my postings during a genealogical event are usually sporadic and short.

I have already registered for the conference and signed up for the German pre-course with Warren Bittner, an expert in German work.  I have the hotel room and I am sharing it with Karen…we found we were compatible at PMC in January (the Association of Professional Genealogists’s management conference prior to SLIG.) Neither one of us snores loud enough to wake up the other! :-)

If you are thinking of attending, sign up now as the early bird registration cut-off date is 31 March and is rapidly approaching.  Hotel rooms are mostly gone but you might find that Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) and AirBNB have some interesting options for you–those are the groups I use when I forget to make reservations and everything is totally booked. (last time that happened: daughter graduated from college along with 4 other major universities in Boston and the cheapest room available was $439/night!)

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: submitted 8 responses for the NGS 2016 Call for Proposals (in Ft. Lauderdale, FL), submitted 8 responses for the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2016 Call for Proposals (in Springfield, Illinois), polished up my three syllabi for the Jefferson County GS all-day seminar in Chimicum WA, strategized with Mary Kathryn Kozy about our joint presentation to the Skagit Valley GS in September. Submitted the APG annual report for the Puget Sound Chapter (I am the Chapter Rep) It was a busy weekend.


What’s New in the ‘Hood: Department of Planning & Development (Seattle)

DD DPDOn 5 March a group of about 30 people toured the holdings of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) of the City of Seattle (see left).  This tour was one in a series of back-of-the-house tours sponsored by Historic Seattle in their “Digging Deeper” series which explores well known and obscure repositories in the Puget Sound area which have holdings that might be of interest to house historians, architectural historians and genealogists.  I have used the DPD collection before as it was my first stop when doing my own house history; however, I learned some tips on this tour that would have made that first visit much easier.

Sue Putnam, Josey Rush and Warren Chapman, employees of the City and caretakers of the records, warmly greeted us, answered all our questions and gave us some great tips about what was included in their collection and how to best access the records.

There are three primary record sets in their holdings:

  1. Permits
    Holdings include permits issued by the city back to the late 1800s indicating their approval to construct a building.  These records are contained on microfilm or “roll film.”  They hold some paper copies but these are difficult to access and are only accessed when there is conflicting data or a bad scan on the film. Permits between the years of 1894-1930 are on roll film. Later records are on fiche. Permits issued since 1994 are on line. Permits vary in the information given; usually the builder’s name is listed, as is the building type and permit value. Only during a few years did they record the name of the architect.  The permits from the 1920s are particularly rich with content.  Some of the very earliest permits have better legibility than later.
  2. Plans
    There are no plans of houses prior to 1974 due to a fire.  Commercial plans, however, do exist. Some of the later plans are online.
  3. Land use maps
    These include environmental studies and maps.  Especially strong are the shoreline permits.  The available records are generally from the 1970s to today.

DD DPD microficheThese documents are accessed using the street address.  There is no cross reference of addresses, i.e. if your address changed then you have to ask for both addresses. (City Directories can help with this.). This creates problems when street addresses change; each street address needs to be investigated and asked for separately.  Even a “north” exchanged for a “north east” will result in a different answer.  Also, if your house was parsed from another then the history of the house may not be accessible in its present address but rather is recorded with the “mother house.”

The staff will only pull what you ask for.

DPD is an very active office where building permits and other land use issues are reviewed and approved.  These holdings are also actively accessed by the general public who is interested in projects being built now or to be built in the future.  For those of us interested in the historical aspects of the holdings, it is best to not visit in person but rather send Josey and Warren an email describing what we need and give them a few days to find it. They will scan the record and send it to you electronically, saving the cost (and effort) of parking and coming in person.

If you do decide to go in person, the office is on the 19th floor of the Municipal building. Check their hours of public access as these are restricted.   My first impression of the lobby during public hours was of chaos in a large open space.  The information desk is in front of you, closed offices to the right and a large seating area on the left.  Against the wall behind you on the left are a series of computers for registering your presence and making an appointment (appointments can only be made in person for that day.)  While you may be interested in multiple addresses, it is only necessary to enter one address to make the appointment.  Be prepared for a wait. I cannot recommend (from personal experience) standing in line at the information counter for personal assistance unless there is no one else there.

Their busiest days are Tuesdays and Thursdays; their busiest time of day is early morning and late afternoon.  Noontime is the least busy.

This personal experience taught me to send them an email instead.  The email address is dpd_microfilm@seattle.gov.  Their website is http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/.

Ask for:

  1. “History Card”: this is a list of permits for each address.  At a minimum it will include the permit date the amount paid for the permit and the size and type of building.
  2. A copy of all permits listed on the History card.
  3. Determine if there are plans.  If yes, then ask for those.
  4. DPD also has “Abstracts” which are the historical ownership records back to 1908.  These are filed by legal description (lot and block) and are in alpha order. Again, you have to ask specifically for these records.
  5. If your property might be affected by a shoreline permit, ask for that.

It was a terrific tour and the staff was willing to answer all our questions.

DD DPD JoseyAn interesting issue of security and public access was raised during the questions and answer period (Josey responding to questions in photo at left).  Yes, these are public records; only one set of plans is unavailable to the public–plans of the County Jail.  There may be some reasons why certain owners might not want their plans public but while the DPD staff will work with people on that issue, it is rarely a request that is granted.

Thanks to Historic Seattle and Luci Baker Johnson for organizing this tour and all of the repository tours.  Here is a list of the remaining tours. I only blog about those I attend.  Click here to link to the series  It is necessary to make advanced reservations but Luci announced that some of these tours are already filled.

  • University of Washington Built Environments Library
         Saturday, April 4, 2015
  • Fiske Genealogical Library
         Saturday, May 9, 2015
  • Washington State Historical Society History Research Center
         Thursday, June 4 or Saturday, June 6, 2015 (offered both days, choose one)
  • Tacoma Public Library Northwest Room
         Saturday, June 6, 2015
  • Eastside Heritage Center
         Saturday, August 8, 2015
  • Providence Mount St. Vincent Archives
         Thursday, September 3, 2015

Happy Hunting!

What i have done since the last posting:  The past few weeks have been a genealogy marathon where I worked to complete the production of three presentations for Jefferson County GS which I will give on 21 March.  I created a webpage where I post presentation materials in advance for the attendees.  I keep it active until a week after the presentation and then take it down.  I have been asked to write an article for the Illinois State Genealogy Quarterly.  I responded to the NGS Call for papers with eight submissions.  Next, I need to respond to the FGS Call for Papers.

All photos taken by me on 5 May at DPD.

A Year in the Life of Jens Dahle: 22 February 1865

Jens Dahle and James Eberhart are both prisoners in the Confederate prison at Salisbury, North Carolina. James kept a diary of his imprisonment which closely parallels that of Jens Dahle.

Finally the day of freedom arrives!

James writes in his diary:

“Feby 22, G. Washington Birth day

Was called to lines and Read a parole for us. Not to try & Escape as they were a going to Exchange. what glad news.  I drew Ration & issued the same. 2 day to walk 50 miles to Greensboro. Let us out about 12. Walked until dark and camped in woods. We had plenty of wood & a good fire although it was a Raining. Rested fairly well.” — James Eberhart.1

The stories of James and Jens diverge on February 22.  James, one of 2822 prisoners and 48 citizens were well enough to walk out.

As much as can be pieced together, Jens was loaded onto a train and taken to Parole Camp in Annapolis where he arrived on 3 March 1865, a trip of about 400 miles.

It is valuable to know what happens to James, our diarist, until we pick up the story of Jens in a subsequent blog posting.

Feby 26

Arrived at Greensboro. All hungry. after dark they gave us molasses & corn meal to eat. Slept in wood all night with a good fire.

Fby 28

Got on town in afternoon and arrived at Raleigh about 10 pm. encamped in open field. Nothing to eat.

CW flag 36 starsMch 2nd

We all signed a parole and put us on the cars and took us to own lines. Near [?] the Black River. Came in through the Colored Troops. What a joyous deliverance when we once more saw old Glory.2  I never saw it more beautifull.  the Colored Troops fed us in their camp and then we went to Welimngton about 3 miles and got all we wanted to eat. Stayed one night and took a Steamer for Anapolis MD

18 March 1865

I am home on furlough thanks be mercifull God that brought me Home again.” – James Eberhart

I cannot even imagine the euphoria….and the sense of being safe, a quality when it is taken away permeates your psyche in such a negative way.  Think of his first time in a bed or by a fire or having a cup of stew….all big events that others take for granted but James would imbue with the qualities most normally associated with miracles.

Happy Hunting!


1 James Eberhart, Diary, 1864-1865.
2 36 Star Flag, “National Treasures: Union Civil War Flags from 1861-1865″, digital image, Zaricor Flag Collection (http://www.flagcollection.com : accessed 1 January 2015), ZFC3087.
3 James Eberhart, Diary, 1864-1865.

A Day in the Life of Jens Dahle: 16 February 1865

hospital SalisburyOn 16 February 1865, Jens checked himself into the hospital suffering from “chills & fever”.1  but hospitals within Civil War prisons were not much more than protection from the elements. See image on left of the hospital in Salisbury.2  There are no beds, no mattresses and no heat but you received some cover from the rain. The dead were taken from the hospital and loaded onto the wagon which appeared daily at the open end of the hospital.  All items of value would be removed from the body such as clothing or blankets and given to other prisoners or taken by the guards.  This late in the war no medications were available. In a show of personal strength, Jens returned to camp the next day. He was not ready to die..or had he heard a rumor?

I hypothesize that Jens must have been very close to death at this time. He is probably also losing hope–a dangerous combination. If something doesn’t happen soon to change his situation, he will die. The reasons for my supposition include that his condition was not strong when he entered prison back in October due to his “light duty” designation when he returned from the Union hospital where he was for 7 months in 1863 and 1864.  Family tradition says he weighed only 85 pounds when he got out of prison.  Hospitals were not places one went to become well but rather to die even in good times. Subsequent events substantiate this hypothesis.

James Eberhart described the weather as “more rain” and noted that the camp had missed rations two days of the week.3 Bad food or no food would have exacerbated Jens’s condition.

It was known at this time that the South was losing the war. How much longer would it continue? Who would take the burden of surrender on his shoulders?

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  worked on the newsletter for Seattle GS, “completed” my presentation “A Scandinavian Overview” which will be presented next weekend.  …unfortunately it is about 1 hour and 12 minutes long and way too dense.  Syllabus went out to the program planner.  Also did my SGS Board report.  I have just two more newsletters to do and 1 bulletin.  I am looking forward to seeing my daughter in Tucson AZ the end of this month.  Working with Skagit Valley GS for a presentation given with Mary Kathryn Kozy.  It will be fun working with her.

1Jens Dahle, Compiled Military Service Record, (private, 2nd Company Minnesota Sharpshooters), Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington DC.
2 Image probably from Harper’s Weekly magazine approximately 1865.
3 James Eberhart, Diary, 1864-1865.