Working in the Vineyard of Genealogy

To this day, Willard Heiss, is considered one of the all time greatest genealogists. His 2009 election to the National Genealogical Society’s Hall of Fame, 21 years after his death, attests to his lasting memory and contributions to the field. “He was a pre-eminent authority on Quaker history and genealogy and was a popular lecturer. Through his writing and lecturing, produced over a long and distinguished career, many people learned the rudiments as well as the fine points of genealogical research. He served as an NGS councilor from 1982 to 1986 and was a Certified Genealogist and an Accredited Genealogist. He was local arrangements chairman of the 1982 NGS Conference in the States held in Indianapolis. The following year, after the death of Richard Lackey, he was national chairman of the 1983 NGS conference in Fort Worth. He was elected a Fellow of the National Genealogical Society in 1976, and in recognition of the quality of his genealogical works he was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists in 1978.”

Among Heiss’ many works and contributions was his publication of Genealogy, the periodical for the Indiana Historical Society. The original masthead even read “GENEALOGY by Willard Heiss.” In time, his name was dropped form the masthead as more and more authors added their contributions. However, by issue 100, Heiss had contributed one hundred eighteen articles. Heiss died in 1988. In 1993, the Indiana Historical Society reviewed Heiss’ articles and selected 84 of the 118 for publication in a single volume book called Working in the Vineyard of Genealogy. This book still stands today and a premier guidebook to genealogical knowledge.

In this book, the reader will find a variety of historical accounts and information relative to a virtually every area of importance to genealogical studies. From vital records to cemeteries and more Heiss wrote an article on it. He has a distinctive, and clearly educated, but fun tone to his writing. His expertise was in Indiana and Quaker research, and many of his example come from this background. However, this guide will serve any genealogist looking to improve his or her own skills. Heiss notes that he did like the declaration “beginner” as after 40 years there were time he himself felt like a beginner. To say this book is for beginners would go against both the belief of Heiss and fly in the face of any genealogist looking still actively searching their ancestors. This book, these articles, are for genealogists at all experience levels.


Copies of Working in the Vineyard of Genealogy are available from Family Roots Publishing; Price: $19.55.

Table of Contents



Working in the Vineyards of Genealogy

Genealogy Research

  • Beginning Genealogy
  • An Irregular Migration Pattern
  • Luck and Learning Needed
  • ”Curiouser and Curiouser!” cried Alice
  • The Brick Wall

Vital Records

  • Vital records in Indiana and their availability
  • The Libeled Dead
  • Birth and death records
  • Birth and death records restricted
  • Birth and death records in Missouri before 1910
  • Adoptions, Part 1 & 2


  • Early Texas Marriages
  • What you need to know about the history of marriage and have been Afraid to ask Part 1 &2
  • Quakeriana

Cemeteries and Burials

  • Sighting Cemeteries
  • Cemeteries: Their Use and Misuse
  • Abandoned Cemeteries
  • Quaker burials

Estates and Wills

  • How can heirs acquire property when no estate is probated?
  • When no estate is probated
  • Testate-Intestate


  • A geographic anomaly
  • Jeffersonsville land records
  • Virginia Military District
  • Deed Records: Further the Deponent Saith Not
  • A discussion of townships

Census Records

  • State census
  • It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Speedy Index
  • Consider the federal census

State and County Records

  • Early Indiana records
  • Courthouse Catastrophes in Indiana
  • Courthouse Research in Indiana
  • Courthouse Research in South Carolina
  • Kentucky Records

Church Records

  • Church Records
  • Church Records: Presbyterian
  • Church Records: Lutheran
  • Church Records: Quakers
  • Swedenborgian Church Records
  • Early Lutherans in Indiana
  • Baptist History

Ethnic Genealogy

  • Jewish sources
  • Indian Ancestry
  • Black Genealogy
  • Polish Ancestry
  • Polish Research
  • Dutch Migration
  • Irish Immigrants
  • A La Rechere de Vas Ancetres


  • Naturalization Records, part 1 & 2
  • Immigration Research Center
  • New York City naturalizations

Other Genealogical Sources

  • County Histories
  • Indiana County History Indexes
  • County atlases
  • County Directories often ignored
  • the family bible
  • Newspaper Genealogy, Part 1 & 2
  • A seldom used source: Municipal Archives
  • Fire insurance maps
  • Railroad records as a source


  • The Calendar
  • The Friends Calendar
  • Standardization of dating
  • Calculated and miscalculate dates


  • A genealogical conundrum
  • A genealogical conundrum answers
  • The Baffled Butler
  • The Butler is no longer Baffled

Book Review

  • Nantucket: An American Sodom?

Miscellaneous Writings

  • Lincoln a genealogist?
  • Origins of surnames
  • Professional genealogists?
  • The Roll of Battle Abbey
  • The Edwaeds Heirs
  • The Lasselle Project
  • Guide to Draper Papers
  • The Filson Club
  • Quakers and family history


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