Judy Russell, certified genealogist, is serving as keynote speaker during the 2018 Nebraska State Genealogy Society Conference being held April 27-28 at the Ramada Columbus Hotel & Conference Center. 

Most people have some sort of natural curiosity about their family roots.

Where their family comes from, what their ancestors did for occupations and the lifestyle their bloodline led centuries ago.

Since 1979, the Platte Valley Kin Seekers Genealogy Society has been providing answers to those questions to not only Platte County residents, but to people far and wide across the country.

The group has approximately 44 members, two-thirds of whom are Platte County residents, club member Shirley Martys said during a Wednesday interview with the Telegram.

Martys said she’s been affiliated with the nonprofit organization for the better part of 12 years, and that the group sustains itself from generous donations. Martys said group members use court documentation, land records, probate record, birth and marriage certificates to learn more about their own – and other people’s – ancestry.

Modern technology has also played a vital role in simplifying the process people go through in terms of learning about their families’ past, she said.

For the first time in 20 years, Columbus is playing host to the Nebraska State Genealogy Society Conference being held April 27-28 at the Ramada Columbus Hotel and Conference Center. An assortment of topics and discussions directly relating to genealogy will be at the fingertips of all in attendance.

The two-day learning experience costs $99 for members of the Nebraska State Genealogy Society and $109 for non-members, Martys said. Those planning on attending the conference must register by April 9 at

This year’s event features keynote speaker Judy Russell, who is a lawyer, speaker and certified genealogist, released information says. Some of Russell’s specialties include searching through court documentation, copyright laws and more.

Martys said she’s seen several occasions where people were nearly overwhelmed when they discovered different aspects of their heritage. She told the story of two sisters traveling from California to Platte County in an effort to learn more about their grandparents.

Their mother was from Platte County, Martys said, and the sisters’ interest was piqued to the level that they decided to make a stop in Nebraska.

“They were coming this way and they wanted to look at the farm where they (grandparents) used to live,” Martys said. “So through land records and so forth, we were able to find it for them and they came and they actually went to the farm and asked the farmer if they could look around and he didn’t have any problem with that.”

Standing on the same dirt their grandparents farmed was quite the surreal experience for the sisters. After visiting the farm, they drove to the church that they – through research – believed their grandparents married in.

Martys said it’s a personal experience when people can connect with their relatives in such a personal manner from beyond the grave.

“They couldn’t have been more excited when they came back,” she said. “They’d never been to Platte County and they learned so much.”


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