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  • Perserverance Pays Off

    Tuesday, May 07, 2013

    By Dawne

    I once heard it called “bulldog genealogy,” the tendency not to give up when the answer didn’t come easily, but to keep chewing on the problem from different directions until success was achieved. The worth of this technique was proved for a patron and me one evening recently in The Genealogy Center.

    He came into The Center looking for information about the death of his much older sister in a house fire back in the late 1940s here in Fort Wayne. He thought the year was about 1947, because she was born in 1931 and he believed she died at age 16. He was nearly certain that she was buried in Lindenwood Cemetery, because he remembered his father and mother going out to the cemetery to visit his sister’s grave when he was small. But he had been to Lindenwood and the cemetery had no record of someone with his sister’s name buried there.

    We checked the Lindenwood interment books here, even though those records are taken from the cemetery’s records and so likely would not be different. We also checked the obituary index with no luck. “Could she have gone by any other name?” I asked him. He didn’t think so. We tried the newspaper subject index, which isn’t very useful for this type of search, and my colleague, John, suggested that he check the collection of photocopied firefighters’ scrapbooks. Still no luck.

    Finally, I opened our Lindenwood Cemetery abstracts database on The Genealogy Center’s website and searched by first name only. Then I scrolled through the list, looking for young women who died in their teens in the late 1940s. One jumped out – An Ethel May who died at the age of 18 in 1949 and was born in Arkansas, which the patron had told me his sister was. But this Ethel had a different surname than the one we were searching.

    I checked the local obituary index and found an entry for the Ethel buried in Lindenwood – on Page 1 of the newspaper, a good indication that this was a news story rather than a standard obituary. And the article confirmed that we had found the correct person. The young woman died in a house fire at the home of her father – who had the surname that the patron had given me. The girl must have been newly married, because she was “Mrs.” in the article.

    As I was brainstorming with the patron before deciding to comb the Lindenwood abstracts, I kept thinking that there must be something else that we could check. We had talked about death records, but the library does not have them from that time period and the Department of Health requires an exact date, which he did not have. I suggested talking to relatives, neighbors and friends of the family, but he said there was no one still around who would know any specific information. We discussed pursuing funeral home records, and that might have been his next step.

    When you come up against that brick wall of a problem that you feel should be solvable, it probably is. You just haven’t figured out how to solve it yet. Sleep on it and maybe additional avenues of pursuit will occur to you the next morning. Put that problem aside and work on another for a while, then go back to it with a fresh outlook. Trade problems with a friend, or let someone else look at your research and give new suggestions. Think like a bulldog and don’t give up!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Source for Black Ops Ancestor's History

    Saturday, May 04, 2013

    by John

    The Genealogy Center holds a wide variety of books. We collect not only with current genealogists in mind, but also with an eye to future researchers who may be interested in records of more recent events of genealogical value. A good example is our collection of military histories. Yes, we have lots of books about the wars of the 19th and early 20th centuries, but we also have a strong collection of Vietnam War histories and memoirs, and even sources for America's most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The soldiers and veterans of today will become the ancestors of future genealogists.

    Military sources can vary in type. For these more recent conflicts, it is obvious that the veteran service records are not available to researchers. So instead, in order to document what little is available about these wars, we look for memoirs, first-hand accounts, unit histories, and even general histories, knowing that they may assist genealogists in the future. We also seek out books about military uniforms, medals, and insignia, since these sources may help researchers when evaluating ancestral photographs or heirlooms. Many such works have been published about World War II.

    Recently we obtained a most unusual new book by Trevor Paglen titled, "I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World" (GC 973.001 P148i). As the title would imply, Paglen attempts to bring together in one volume a collection of obscure patches from some of the most classified programs in the military. Many seem to be connected with aviation units that test experimental aircraft for the Pentagon. Paglen includes brief histories of these units based on what he has been able to determine from declassified sources. As to why these units have patches (considering they are so secretive), Paglen speculates that they provide a certain pride and esprit de corps that motivate the members of these units. "Without a doubt, many members of the black world are proud of the secrets they hold, and of the clandestine work they've done in the military or intelligence industries." He adds that he has found patches in unusual places such as on the walls of the watering holes of test pilots and even in private living rooms. Many contain unusual mottoes and symbols that he often cannot explain.

    This unusual book is not likely to be of help in tracing your ancestors today, but who knows? A generation from now a descendant who has inherited one of these patches may look to this source as a useful reference. As always, we will continue to collect for genealogists, both today and tomorrow.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The PERSI Generation

    Thursday, May 02, 2013

    The popularity of the PERiodical Source Index, a.k.a. PERSI, was once again evidenced this past weekend as more than seventy attendees of the Indiana Genealogical Society Annual Conference attended a session on this wonderful genealogical resource. Twenty-first century researchers are familiar with the online version of this subject index to more than 10,000 historical and genealogical magazines, but the new generation of family historians may not be aware that The Genealogy Center has been creating PERSI since 1986.

    Genealogy Center librarian Delia Bourne is someone who can recite the details of the migration of PERSI from print to electronic format, the facts and figures of the project, and the overall history of PERSI, while thoroughly explaining how to best use this valuable resource. She is one of the few people who has first-hand experience with the project from its creation through the present day.

    This week, Delia received a "Certificate of Appreciation for a Generation of Service to PERSI" as thanks for her commitment and dedication. Join us in thanking Delia for contributing to a generation of PERSI.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • May Brings Thoughts of Travel

    Wednesday, May 01, 2013

    by Delia

    I always get a bit excited on May 1st. Many people do. Yes, there are holidays, both religious and cultural on that day, but for me, it was always school's-almost-out excitement. Whether I might have been looking forward to long days of play and fighting with my sister (elementary school), reading and learning to drive (high school), or a summer job (college), doing something different was always fun, especially if my parents had planned a vacation somewhere, which was usually in August.

    As an adult, summer signaled that I had not only extra time to enjoy with my family, but also the influx of customers that we, at The Genealogy Center, attracted in the summer months. New people, mixing with our regular friends, intriguing research questions, and chatting with folks from far away.

    As you plan your summer, work in some time to come and see us. There's a lot of research material on the Internet, but we have many unique sources that aren't online. Plan a quick trip or change your route to spend a day or two or three with us.

    And then, of course, in August, right when my family took vacations, plan to come to the Federation of Genealogical Societties' Conference. It's being held at the Grand Wayne Center, here in Fort Wayne, a block from the Allen County Public Liibrary's main branch (home of The Genealogy Center). Four days (August 21-24) of great sessions, luncheons, evening events, extended research hours at The Genealogy Center (for conference attendees), the great camaradarie that only a genealogy conference provides, and if you can't find a session in one particular hour, it's over to The Genealogy Center, where our staff and volunteers are waiting to aid you.

    So as summer approaches and you are planning your travel, don't forget The Genealogy Center and the FGS Conference!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Ugly Truth

    Sunday, Apr 28, 2013

    by Delia

    As both a researcher and a genealogy librarian, I don't like to give up on any family history question. I always think that searching church records, doing cluster research and reading newspapers, etc. will yield the answer, if only one will take the time.

    And often, I am right when offering these possibilities on finding that missing piece: spelling the names slightly different; switching the first and last name; looking in a neighboring county; the list goes on. But sometimes, I know that the information that is sought will probably never be found.

    Do you have an ancestor who was a child left abandoned on porch steps, a church pew or at a train station? The authorities would have sought the mother at the time, so once a search of the records of the abandonment have been searched and local newspapers have been perused, it's unlikely that the identity of the parents will be established. (Although my compulsion to continue the search tells me that if one reads all personal diaries and newspapers for the 25 closest counties and all communities on the connecting rail lines, it may be possible that someone mentioned a pregnant woman....) Or if your ancestor was a woman who married a man that was new in the community, about whom nothing was known, and who disappeared the minute the woman got pregnant and no records were ever found concerning the man.... Well, although one might get lucky in that he really did use his own name, chances are good that he made a practice of loving and leaving, and his real identity may never be discovered.

    While I am not advocating completely giving up on the brick wall, I am suggesting setting it aside for a while. New records become available on a regular basis, and you may pick up more experience over several years working on something else. Sometime in the future, you may come across something new. Or you might attend a conference where someone else, a speaker or fellow attendee, could make a break-through suggestion. Or perhaps genetic identification might make such strides that our whole ancestry will be identified with a single drop of blood, and family history research will only give substance to that information.*

    But there is always the possibility that the puzzle piece may never be found. This can be hard to accept, especially if you have a wall chart that displays a huge blank for 12.5% of the page. I've seen people frustrated, angry and dispairing over research issues like this, and it very sad because these researchers have exhausted every avenue, made every right move and still come up empty. So the important thing at this point is for us, as researchers, to accept that this may be an unsolvable problem, but not let it ruin our love of family history.

    Besides, you never know when you might get lucky....

    * Yes, I read science fiction.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • They Come in Buses!

    Thursday, Apr 25, 2013

    by Delia

    We love it when a group arrives to use The Genealogy Center. The first thing we do when a group presents itself at the Ask Desk is to check our "Talks, Tours & Groups" notebook to see whether the group leader requested a tour when he or she called to schedule the visit. Tours are fun! And any of our librarians may give a group tour. Although we cover a lot of territory, this helps our visitors get a feel for how large the Center is, plus we can demonstrate some of the equipment and make a few jokes along the way. Afterward, everyone settles down to work, but group members are encouraged to approach the desk at any time to ask questions that vary from in-depth research queries to questions on which button to press to make a copy.

    The tips we've passed along previously in this blog for individual visitors also apply to people coming in groups or on bus tours. Those include bringing a USB drive to download images of census, passenger lists and other documents; bringing $1 and $5 bills to charge copy cards; and bringing enough information to do research without bringing originals that could become lost. But visitors in groups have some special challenges to take into consideration.

    Time is one factor with which groups have to contend. Time of arrival at The Genealogy Center, especially if a group tour is requested, is a vital piece of information for us. We will organize the day - including staff lunch hours and breaks - around the tour(s) that have been requested. If a group is more than 15 minutes late, it may throw our planning into disarray, so a quick phone call letting us know of any delay is appreciated. Arrival time is also important to the visitors. Every minute of a visit is valuable, and no one wants to waste vital research minutes. And time is vitally important on the last day of a visit, as the minutes slip quickly past.

    What to bring is also important. If a visitor is away from home and without personal transportation, having all of those little things (that USB drive, an extra pad of paper, just the right pens or pencils, a sweater, and acetaminophen) may take on a greater importance than normal. On the other hand, one must remember that when bringing everything including the kitchen sink, the backpack or tote bag gets heavy after a while!

    Sustenance is vital. It is permissible to have a granola bar and a water bottle tucked away in your bag to eat outside of The Genealogy Center, but please remember that no food or drink may be consumed inside the department. You might decide to go out to one of the many eateries in the vicinity (ask for a map of Downtown Eateries at the Ask Desk), or bring a full sack lunch to enjoy in the Great Hall of the library or on the Plaza. It's a personal choice whether to take a break for a refreshing meal or to save time by just having a quick nibble before returning to research.

    Making photocopies as you discover new information is certainly preferable to waiting until the last minute of the day because everyone else may be doing the same thing, so, again, time management is important.

    Visiting the Genealogy Center in groups or as part of a bus (or airplane!) tour has its advantages: Travel with people with whom you share an interest, most arrangements are organized for the group, and no driving. It also has its disadvantages: One is without personal transportation, on someone else's schedule, and you can't just decide at the last minute to stay another day. But generally, our visiting groups seem to have a productive research experience and an enjoyable adventure. So, if you hear about a group that is planning a trip to The Genealogy Center, why not come along? Or consider organizing a group yourself and share the fun.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Spielberg's "Lincoln"

    Monday, Apr 22, 2013

    The Allen County Public Library will present a special screening of Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln on Saturday, April 27th at 1:30 p.m. in the theater of the Main Library. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • RootsMagic Revealed! April 22, 2013

    Friday, Apr 19, 2013

    For genealogists and those who just seem to acquire all the family records, organizing the information can be overwhelming! Bruce Buzbee of RootsMagic will be at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Monday, April 22, to show how RootsMagic software may be the perfect solution. The event will be in Meeting Room C of the Main Library, 900 Library Plaza, from 6-8 p.m.

    Topics include:

    6-7 p.m. - Roots Magic Overview
    Whether you're a beginner or long-time researcher, RootsMagic can help you organize your family tree. Join RootsMagic's Bruce Buzbee as he explains the basics of how it can work for you.

    7-8 p.m. - Ooo, Ahhh! New Features of RootsMagic
    Once you learn about RootsMagic's basics, Bruce Buzbee will demonstrate new features sure to dazzle and amaze you. Don't miss this unique opportunity!

    To register for this free class, send an email or call 260-421-1225.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More, More More for Free

    Thursday, Apr 18, 2013

    More additions have been made to The Genealogy Center's Free Databases!

    More than 3500 abstracted tombstone inscriptions for Illinois and Missouri have been added recently, along with more than 10,000 associated images.

    Thirty-one new memorial cards, with more than 100 associated images, have been added to the Marsha Smiley African American Collection.

    Another 4,417 entries have been added to the Evangelical Messenger Obituary Index, bringing the total to 156,011 entries, covering 1848 to 1932.

    And 549 memorials, with 2675 images, have been added to Genealogy Tracers Obituaries & Memorial Programs,

    With all these additions, there is no time better to check the Free Databases.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More on Our Military Heritage

    Monday, Apr 15, 2013

    Heads-up! The Genealogy Center has added an additional 514 images to Our Military Heritage! This wonderful collection is all due to your efforts to share your ancestor's military records, letters, photographs and memories with the world by allowing us to scan them and post them to this website. If you're interested in sharing, contact us!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • What We Do With Your Donations

    Friday, Apr 12, 2013

    by Matt

    Each day The Genealogy Center is fortunate enough to receive donations of all kinds to be added to our collection, but many of you might be curious about what happens to donations before they are available on the shelves for patrons to use.

    Every item that is added to the collection is carefully analyzed to determine where it would be best placed and a corresponding call number is assigned. A record is then created in our catalog, which includes a description of the physical piece as well as prominent subjects and family names. These subject headings are what relate the books to one another and are incredibly useful in locating similar materials in our collection. Because this is the first step in the process, it is possible for a record to display in the catalog before the book is on the shelf. Once the record in the catalog, the book is then labeled with the assigned call number and with a unique bar code. At this point hardcover books are ready to go up to the shelves.
    Donations that are unbound or softcover will need to be sent to the bindery to be bound in hardcover. All of the books in our collection are bound in hardcover to better preserve them for continued use. However, many materials need to have preservation steps taken before they can be bound. Books in poor condition, materials with variable sizes or items that contain acidic paper (usually newspaper clippings) are preservation photocopied on acid-free paper, and then the photocopies are sent to be bound. This step ensures that the piece is a standard size, and that the information contained is not lost due to wear from use or discoloration from acidic paper.

    We are also fortunate to receive many manuscript collections that have been researched and compiled by researchers like you. Manuscript collections are the most time consuming materials that we handle, as they usually require a great deal of organization before they can be bound and placed on the shelves. Each manuscript is unique and must be organized in the most appropriate way according to the information that it contains. Once the lengthy organization and preservation process is completed, a catalog record is created and then the books are sent to be bound before being placed on the shelves.

    Although the whole process can take quite a bit of time, our donations are a big part of what makes our collection special. We want to ensure that all of the books that go on our shelves are not only discoverable in the catalog, but also able to endure another generation of use.

    If you have history, yearbooks, church directories, published genealogies, or personal research that you would like to donate to our collection, we would love to hear from you. Please send us an email.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Lincoln's Home Front

    Tuesday, Apr 09, 2013

    The Allen County Public Library will continue its Lincoln at the Library series with the program “Lincoln’s Home Front” on Sunday, April 14, at 2:00 p.m. in the Main Library, Meeting Room A. Lincoln Librarian Jane Gastineau will discuss Abraham Lincoln’s Civil War experiences as a private individual who struggled with personal loss, conflicting duties and responsibilities, and family divisions and crises. Photographs, documents, and other materials from the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection will illustrate the presentation. The program is free and open to the public.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Summer Fun

    Saturday, Apr 06, 2013

    This summer, The Genealogy Center is offering two series of events to help you expand your family history search techniques.

    Famly History Fundamentals sessions will be held one Saturday each month, at 10 AM in Meeting Room A. The first class will be "Researching Church Records," on May 25th, followed by "Locating Newspapers Online," on June 8th, "Just Start Looking on Ancestry," on July 13th, and finish with "Jumping Off Points: Getting the Most From a Single Record," on September 14th. For more information about these free classes, see the brochure.

    Beyond Ancestry's Leaves & Branches sessions are on weekdays, but still in Meeting Room A. The first session is "What Can I Find at The Genealogy Center: A Catalog Tour," presented by Melissa Shimkus and Aaron Smith, on Thursday, April 11th, from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Other sessions include "Find Births, Marriages and Deaths Online," on Wednesday, May 29th, 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM; "WeRelate Overview," on Monday June 24th, from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM; "Genealogy Jargon," on Wednesday July 24th, from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM; and finally "Public Member Trees on" on Thursday, September 12th, from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM. If you want to learn more about these free classes, check the brochure.

    Now, notice, there are no classes scheduled in August. That's because the Federation of Genealogical Societies is holding its annual conference here Wednesday through Saturday, August 21-24, with Librarians' Day on Tuesday, August 20th.

    So there you have it! A cornucopia of events to enlighten and entertain you through the summer, Make your plans and sign up soon!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Tech Overload

    Wednesday, Apr 03, 2013

    by Melissa

    Technology is moving at such a rapid pace, it sometimes feel like it is a full time job to keep up with all of our electronic devices. Moore's law states that technology doubles every eighteen months. Think about the fact that the first iPhone was released in 2007 and the most current edition, iPhone 5, which had an inception date of 2012 will soon become obsolete.

    With this ever-evolving cycle of expanding technology, how do you keep up? Do you read technology journals or blogs or buy products based on advertising or word of mouth? With every new edition of a product, how compatible is your first generation techno device? If we have a printer from two years ago, we have to download drivers to connect with our new Windows 8 laptops. How do we maneuver these waters?

    And can the next generation relate to our experiences or those of the generations before us? I remember accessing video games by typing in the c:/run command. Today, we can play video games on our touch-screen phones or other handheld devices. Try explaining a typewriter's corrective tape to a teenager who regularly uses a voice-command tablet.

    While navigating the waves of technology, consider documenting your everyday activities in a journal, blog, website, or video so that future generations will have a better understanding of how we spent our days in this dramatically changing landscape.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Got Bibles? Yes, We Do!

    Sunday, Mar 31, 2013

    by Delia

    There are seven new Family Bible Records on our Genealogy Center Free Databases page. All seven are from the Franklin County, Indiana area, and include records for the Huntington, Logan, Maharry, Martin, Millsbaugh, Monroe, and Wilson-Applegate families. Remember that our Free Databases offer a wide range of material from various locations, and is constantly being updated. We'd also love to have your family Bible records, military records or other material to add. If you have any questions, just contact us!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Scratching Up Sources with WorldCat

    Thursday, Mar 28, 2013

    by Delia

    We're genealogists. We always want more. More information about our ancestors. More details. More maps, more cemetery records, more church histories. And when we run across a vague reference to another source, we want that, too. WorldCat (World Catalog) may be just what you need.

    WorldCat is part of OCLC. OCLC, the Online Computer Library Center, was founded in 1967 as the Ohio College Library Center, and was intended to aid Ohio libraries by sharing cataloging records and to facilitate interlibrary loans. By the 1990s, it was used by libraries all over the world and the first public access catalog, WorldCat, was made available through libraries. Now, WorldCat is available online from any computer. It not only allows you to search for books, computer resources and select articles by author, title, subject and keyword, but allows you to limit to language, date published, and format. The result will let you know in what library or archives the material is located, but also how far it is from your location.WorldCat also allows you to create your own free account, which will allow you to create lists of material you've used or plan to use.

    If you haven't tried WorldCat, now is the time. Have Fun!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Familiar Faces at the FGS 2013 Conference

    Monday, Mar 25, 2013

    by Dawne

    The Genealogy Center is anticipating this summer’s Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference that will be here in Fort Wayne the 21st through the 24th of August, with a special Librarians’ Day pre-conference event on the 20th of August. When FGS comes to town, The Genealogy Center always gets involved in a big way, from hosting some conference-related events – like Librarians’ Day – onsite, to offering extended hours for genealogists to do research early in the morning before attending sessions, and late into the night after the day’s lectures.

    When Fort Wayne is the locality of the state or a national conference, The Genealogy Center’s staff usually gets directly involved, and not just during the days of the event, but in the earliest planning stages. This year, several Genealogy Center staff members are participating in the conference planning and execution.

    Genealogy Center Manager Curt Witcher is on the FGS 2013 Conference Committee as the representative of the Allen County Public Library, one of the two local co-hosts organizations of the conference. The Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana is the other local co-host organization. Curt also will be delivering four lecture sessions and speaking at the Indiana Genealogical Society-sponsored luncheon. Curt’s topics are “SOS! Saving Our Societies & Thriving in the 21st Century,” “Your Society Wants You! Effective Recruiting Strategies for Genealogical Societies,” “Being the Outstanding Leader Your Society Needs,” “Digital Lincoln: Access to an Incomparable Collection of Abraham Lincoln Materials,” discussing the library’s Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, and “The Indiana Genealogical Society: A Case Study in Thriving,” at the IGS luncheon.

    Genealogy Center Assistant Manager of Public Services Melissa Shimkus is serving on the 2013 Program Committee as co-chair from the local area. The Program Committee has put together a fantastic conference that is full of engaging, knowledgeable speakers on a wide variety of topics! You can read about the individual sessions at the conference website. In addition, Melissa is presenting three lectures, “Researching at The Genealogy Center,” “Researching Indiana Digital Collections Online” and “Why Should I Look at Revolutionary War Pension Records?” In addition to her other duties, Melissa will be coordinating ACPL staff who want to volunteer for various duties during the conference.

    Delia Bourne, Genealogy Center librarian, is co-chair of Librarians’ Day. She is also presenting three lectures at the conference: “Beginning Kentucky Research at The Genealogy Center,” “Researching Your Confederate Ancestor at The Genealogy Center” and “Researching Your Union Ancestor at The Genealogy Center.”

    Dawne Slater-Putt, Genealogy Center librarian, is National Conference Co-Chair, and Aaron Smith, Genealogy Center Assistant Manager of the Materials Handling Unit, is co-chair of the Audio-Visual Committee. Kay Spears, Genealogy Center Department Assistant and graphic artist, designed the conference logo and other publicity pieces for the event. During the week of the conference, all of The Genealogy Center staff will be on hand to help visitors to The Center, and don’t be surprised to see some familiar smiling faces from elsewhere in the ACPL system pitching in as well.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Remembering the Flood of 1913

    Friday, Mar 22, 2013

    by Dawne

    In late March of 1913, the Ohio Valley experienced one of the most devastating floods of all time. Especially in river towns like Peru, Logansport and Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Dayton, Ohio, the water was all-consuming. Fort Wayne is home to the Maumee River Basin, one of the eight major watersheds in the state. The confluence of the Maumee, St. Joseph and St. Marys Rivers is in the heart of town, and the Basin also includes the Trier, Junk and Fairfield Ditches and Spy Run Creek.

    Locally, the rivers crested at 26.1 feet before the flood waters receded. Some 5,000 acres were flooded in the Fort Wayne area and 15,000 were left homeless for more than a week. The property loss was estimated at $25 million.

    The devastation in the Midwest began with deadly tornadoes in Nebraska and Iowa on Easter Sunday, March 23. The storms moved eastward across Illinois and into Indiana. Northern Indiana already had experienced a heavy rainfall on Good Friday, March 21. Between the morning of March 23 and the night of March 25, 4.75 inches of rain fell. As many as 2000 homes were underwater in Fort Wayne by Tuesday, March 25. Before the rivers crested at 26.1 feet on Wednesday night, the Lakeside dikes of the St. Joseph River broke in two places. The electric light plant was submerged, casting Fort Wayne into darkness for two nights. The three pumping stations stalled, leaving the town vulnerable with no fire protection.

    Six people are reported to have lost their lives in Fort Wayne during the Great Flood of 1913, including four young girls from the Allen County Orphans Home who drowned when their boat capsized during an attempt to move children from the home to a safer location. In other cities, the loss of life was even greater. In Peru, on the Wabash River, twenty people died. And in Dayton, Ohio, 150 died.

    In Peru, the winter quarters of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus were flooded with six feet of water. Joseph Leiethel, one of the circus managers, reported that the elephants panicked, pulled their stakes from the ground and began to fight with one another in their fear. Five elephants were killed in the fighting, three were drowned and one died of exhaustion. Three escaped and were roaming the countryside. “Most of the monkeys went floating down the crest of the flood huddled on pieces of wreckage,” Leiethel said.

    The storms raged on eastward, all the way to Vermont, leaving citizens in their wake to pick up the pieces of their lives and their communities.


    Drinker, Frederick E. Horrors of Tornado, Flood and Fire. Phildadelphia: National Pub. Co., ca. 1913.

    Griswold, B. J. “The Flood of March 1913.” The Pictorial History of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Chicago: Robert O. Law Co., 1917. Page 549.

    Shoaff, John H. “Fort Wayne’s Floods.” History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana, 1700-2005, Vol. 1. John Beatty, ed. Evansville, Ind.: M.T. Publishers & Co., Inc., 2006. Pages 415-419.

    Wright, George T. “Water USA: Resources, Conservation, Demand.” Paper prepared for the Quest Club. 17 Dec. 1965. Quest Club Papers; digital image viewed online at in the Quest Club Papers collection in Community Album. Click to view.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • 411 on Our Catalog on 4/11!

    Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013

    As you plan your trip to The Genealogy Center, are you lost when using our Catalog? Once you're here, does it still seem complicated that you just end up browsing the stacks, missing some material? Here is the opportunity to learn how to locate the more than a million items in The Genealogy Center collection. In this virtual tour of the catalog systems, instructors Melissa Shimkus and Aaron Smith will demonstrate the different features of the system, including special notes and making lists.

    The class will be 2 PM to 4 PM on Thursday April 11, 2012, in Meeting Room A.

    For more information, see the brochure.

    To register for this free class, send an email or call 260-421-1225.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Researching Irish Ancestors

    Sunday, Mar 17, 2013

    by John

    Today is St. Patrick's Day. For many places it is an unofficial early rite of Spring and it affords many people a chance to think about Ireland, whether or not they actually have any Irish heritage. In the last census more than 36 million Americans claimed Irish heritage - 11.9 percent of the population, while another 3.5 million (1.2 percent) claimed specifically Scots-Irish heritage. These numbers are actually small, and the number of Americans with at least one ancestor of Irish blood, whether Catholic or Protestant, is undoubtedly much higher. Even President Obama claims Irish heritage on his mother's side.

    Family historians wishing to trace their Irish heritage face a number of obstacles. The biggest problem that most encounter is not knowing the exact place in Ireland where their ancestor was born. Scots-Irish settlers who arrived in the eighteenth century usually came from parts of Ulster (the counties of Down, Londonderry, Tyrone, and Antrim), while those arriving later in the 1840s during the Potato Famine came from all over Ireland, especially the western provinces of Connacht and Munster. Passenger lists from the period typically list just "Ireland" for a passenger's birthplace.

    Here are some steps for researching one's Irish heritage. First, identify the immigrant as completely as possible from American sources. Use census records, church records, cemetery records, mortuary records, city directories, newspaper obituaries, and even fraternal lodge records.

    Second, look for other identifying information about the immigrant in American sources. If your Irish ancestor got married in America, there is a chance that the birthplace or at least the county of birth was recorded in the church record. The amount of detail preserved varied greatly from church to church, depending on the interest and record-keeping practices of the pastor or priest. Look also for the burial and cemetery record of the immigrant. Sometimes specific birthplace information was recorded in the church burial register or on the tombstone. Look for the obituary. If he or she died in a city with a sizable Irish population, there might have been specific information recorded about the place of birth. If a family arrived with children born in Ireland, seek out records for the whole family, including marriage and burial records for every sibling. It only takes one such record to provide the necessary clue.

    Sometimes notices were published in newspapers by relatives in Ireland looking for lost family members who had immigrated. Those published in the Boston Pilot between 1831 and 1920 have been gathered in a set of books titled, Search for Missing Friends 974.402 B65sea.

    If you can identify the town and county, a number of tools exist, both in Ireland and in The Genealogy Center, to go further back in time. Ireland has suffered a great deal from record destruction, including a 1922 fire in the Public Records Office that destroyed many census, court, and probate records, as well as some church records stored there. Many records have survived, however, and there are guidebooks available to show what kinds of sources may exist for a particular place.

    The task of bridging the genealogical divide between America and Ireland can be challenging. But persistence and tenacity can sometimes pay off.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center