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  • Beyond the Basics

    Thursday, Aug 02, 2012

    Margery Graham and Steve Myers will present the "Family History: Beyond the Basics" mini-course on Friday and Saturday, September 7 & 8, 2012. This workshop is an excellent way for beginners and intermediate researchers to build on what they know or to review important concepts and sources. Of course, attendees are free to bypass any individual session to take advantage of additional research and consultation time. Marge and Steve say you'll learn lots and have fun, too! Program and registration details are included in the Beyond the Basics brochure. Attendance is limited, so please register early to avoid disappointment.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Name Game

    Sunday, Jul 29, 2012

    by Melissa

    As part of the research process, we look for name derivations, determining the progression of our surnames or the misspellings and errors that took place, but do we pay attention to variant family names that our ancestors used on a daily basis? What about the legacy we are creating for our descendants? Will they recognize our names?

    Recently, my best friend of ten years had dinner with me and my father and this name game was emphasized when my friend asked who we were discussing. I was confused by her question since the topic of discussion was my niece, whom my friend has met on numerous occasions. It finally dawned on me that I always refer to my niece by her nickname which sounds nothing like her name, while my father always calls my niece by her first name. I realized that both my nieces are called by varying nicknames that other people may not recognize.

    With my given name of Melissa, I have regularly been called Mel or Missy, but should someone find a card, letter, picture, or postcard that I have sent to my nieces, they would find a different signature. My nieces have always called me Sessa or Issa and the next generation may question who this individual is.

    The only way to insure that future generations keep up with our evolving world is by telling our stories.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Ancestry: The Beginner's Way to Search

    Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012

    The Genealogy Center's summer series, Tree Talks, continues on Saturday, July 28, 2012, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in Meeting Room A, with "Ancestry: The Beginner's Way to Search." Are you new to genealogy? Have you tried Ancestry.com and felt confused? If so, attend this session and learn the basic steps to begin your genealogy search and navigate this database successfully. Please register for this free class by calling 260-421-1225 or send an email to Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Who Will Record Their Stories?

    Saturday, Jul 21, 2012

    by Dawne

    The death of my dear Uncle Stan at the end of May has brought again to the forefront of my mind the need to get family stories written down sooner, rather than later. Uncle Stan was one of four brothers – Oliver, the oldest; then Stanley, Philip and Laurie, my father. My father and his brother, Oliver, have been gone for almost ten years. They died within five days of one another back in December 2002. Since then, Uncle Stan and Uncle Phil have filled the role of surrogate grandfather for all of the family’s grandchildren.

    I was able to attend Uncle Stan’s funeral in North Little Rock and, as I suspected that it would be, it was an occasion of joy and laughter, along with the sorrow and tears. Uncle Stan was a rare character. He had a quirky sense of humor and his escapades are legend in our family. Stories about him were shared at the visitation, and funny stories that he told time and again were repeated once more. Many of the “props” for his practical jokes were on display at the visitation and the funeral. These included a fake wooden cell phone made from a piece of a tree limb with the bark still attached, and wallets that caused money to disappear and reappear. Also holding a place of honor was the radar gun that he used to check the speed of passing cars near the elementary school where he picked up his grandchildren every day. He kept this up until school administrators asked him to stop because they were getting complaints from drivers about an older gentleman who was “pointing something at them.” Undaunted, when Uncle Stan subsequently witnessed drivers speeding, he took a soup can from groceries he had purchased and laid it on its side on the window ledge, pointing it at the offenders. The school received additional complaints, but Uncle Stan was able to tell them honestly that he no longer was clocking drivers’ speeds with his radar gun!

    One of the most famous stories within the family about Uncle Stan concerns the first of his three encounters with copperheads at the golf course. The first time he was bitten, he had reached into the weeds to retrieve his ball. A trait among men in this family is their absolute dread of doctors and hospitals. Stan shared this trait, so rather than seeking medical attention, he carefully drove home through Camp Robinson because his vision was blurred. Once at home, he sought refuge in his recliner. He later said he didn’t feel too bad other than fighting a heck of a headache for about three days. Uncle Stan didn’t tell anyone what had happened immediately following the event, but a few days later he called his youngest daughter and told her he had a boil he wanted her to lance. When she did, the snake’s tooth popped out of the wound, and he was forced to confess. Uncle Stan suffered copperhead bites twice more, but they didn’t affect him nearly as much – apparently he had built up some immunity!

    As I heard these stories this most recent time and shared the laughter and tears with my cousins, I wondered if we would always be able to tell the next generation about Uncle Stan and his radar gun and his encounters with the copperheads. We have a strong oral tradition going now in the family, but some of the stories that my father told, and Uncle Ollie and Uncle Stan about their childhoods – will we remember the details? Will my children remember and pass them to their children? Someone needs to write them down. I need to write them down. All of you who are interested in genealogy need to be the scribes who write them down for your families. Let’s not let those family stories disappear.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Researching African American Family History in Alabama: Etc.

    Wednesday, Jul 18, 2012

    The African American Genealogical Society Fort Wayne will offer Researching African American Family History in Alabama: Etc., an all-day seminar on Saturday August 11, 2012, in the Theater of the Main Library. Featuring Frazine Taylor, archivist, author and genealogist, the seminar starts at 9:00 AM with "Historical Notes on Alabama," followed by "Resources at the Alabama Department of Archives," where Ms. Taylor was Head Archivist, and "Alabama Resources on Ancestry.com."

    After lunch on your own, the seminar will continue with "Alabama Military Records on Ancestry.com," "Future Alabama Records on Ancestry.com," and "Et Certa," a class discussing other sources for research in Alabama.

    Cost for the seminar is $25 ($20 for AASFW members). For more information, see the brochure, call 260-247-0789, or email aagsfw@gmail.com.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • When Was the Last Time You Checked?

    Tuesday, Jul 17, 2012

    by Delia

    Don't you just love free-search websites? I do, and I especially love the ones that update and add new material on a regular basis. I check USGenWeb and FamilySearch about once a month to see what's new, but I also check The Genealogy Center's federated search as well.

    What's that? You don't know what that is? Well, have you visited any of The Genealogy Center's Free Databases? These databases include family files and Bibles that have been submitted for digitizing, Our Military Heritage, Genealogy Tracers Obituaries & Memorial Programs, cemetery transcriptions and other records for all over the nation, and, yes, a vast array of information for Allen County, IN. While one may search specific collections, you can also use the federated search on our home page to search the entire collection (more than two million records!) at once.

    The search box, which says "Search Our Free Databases," is located on The Genealogy Center's home page, just above the "Search the ACPL Catalog" box. Type in a surname and click "Search." A list of all of the databases that include that surname will appear, along with the number of times the name appears in the specific database. The federated search is a "fuzzy" search, so a search on the name "Bach" will also show Bachman and Hollenbacher.

    So the next time you're doing a quick check of your favorite genealogy websites, include The Genealogy Center's federated search!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Coming August 4: DNA & Melungeon Event!

    Friday, Jul 13, 2012

    On Saturday, August 4, 2012, the Allen County Public Library and The Genealogy Center will host Applying DNA Studies to Family History: The Melungeon Mystery Solved. This free all-day seminar will provide information concerning the application of DNA research in family history, and will explain how the previously-mysterious origin of the Melungeons was discovered through DNA studies, presented by Roberta Estes, scientist and genealogist, expert in DNA research and founder of DNAexplain.com, Jack Goins, Hawkins County, Tennessee archivist and founder of several Melungeon research projects, and Wayne Winkler, past-president of the Melungeon Historical Society. 

    The day's schedule:

    • 9:15-9:30 AM - Welcome and Introduction
    • 9:30-10:30 AM - Roberta Estes - DNA and Genealogy - An Introduction
    • 10:45-11:45 AM - Wayne Winkler - The Melungeons: Sons and Daughters of the Legend
    • 11:45 AM - 1:00 PM - Lunch on your own
    • 1:00-2:00 PM Jack Goins - Examining Our Melungeon Neighborhood and Migrations
    • 2:15-3:15 PM - Roberta Estes - Melungeons: A Multi-Ethnic Population
    • 3:30 PM - Q&A about Melungeons and DNA applications in the genealogy field

    This free seminar will take place in the Theater on Lower Level 2 of the Main Library. Pre-register for this free event by calling 260-421-1225 or send an email to Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Summer Storm 2012 - Your Photos Wanted

    Thursday, Jul 12, 2012

    We are inviting you to contribute images of the storm of Friday, June 29th, and its aftermath, to the Allen County Public Library's Community Album. There is no limit on how many images you can share. Send your photos via email to Genealogy@ACPL.Info. Include a brief description including the location and indicate if you do not want your name included in the attribution. Be a part of recording this event for future historians!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Who Will Write My Story?

    Tuesday, Jul 10, 2012

    by Melissa

    Letters and diaries tell our ancestor's personal stories in their own words, but in today's age of technology, we do not write letters or maintain diaries. In the future, when our descendants search for us what will they find instead? Will it be our e-mails, blog posts, or twitter feeds? Is this the legacy we wish to leave behind?

    I know many who say they can't write eloquently and fear writing their personal stories. I am one of these people. I learned to bullet point my thoughts, which has led to my writing style being perfect for business but not very personable. I avoid letter writing because it feels like a wasted effort since it is easier to talk to someone on the phone or send a quick e-mail.

    But what part of my story will remain if I don't take the time? Do my personal e-mails reflect who I truly am or are they disjointed facts jotted down in the virtual space? I established a tradition with my eldest niece that every time I travel, she receives a postcard. On the card, I tell her why I visited the place, who I'm with, and what sites I've seen. It doesn't matter if I'm traveling for business or pleasure, she receives a postcard. She has kept these through the years and I realized they tell part of my story. I have also created a blog, where I can share my thoughts on events in my life, books I'm reading, movies I see, and activities with friends and family. These are my baby steps to leaving behind a part of me. Who is writing your story?

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Controlling Genealogy Clutter

    Friday, Jul 06, 2012

    The search for our family history results in an endless supply of papers, files, photographs, and memorabilia. How do we organize all the information and materials we collect? Join The Genealogy Center for Controlling Genealogy Clutter Week and learn the numerous ways to clean up your family history research.

    On Monday, July 9, 2:00PM-3:00PM, learn different ways to organize their research results and family information by "Organizing Your Genealogical Files."

    On Tuesday, July 10, 2:00PM-3:00PM, discover the "Organization of Genealogical Materials" that a genealogist collects, from papers, records and files to photographs, computer files, and books as well as three-dimensional keepsakes.

    On Wednesday, July 11, 2:00PM-3:00PM, attendees will be given ideas on creating unique projects and/or gifts highlighting parts of their family history in "Being Creative With Your Family History."

    On Thursday, July 12, 10:00AM-11:00AM, find out how to use "Digital Organization: The No Paper Approach to Genealogy" so that your genealogical records and files can be readily organized, updated, and available at your fingertips.

    On Friday, July 13, 10:00AM-11:00AM, determine "How to Look at Your Photographs, Analyze and Organize" with an eye to identifying time period and location, annotating your images with family stories and facts, and organization methods for your digital treasures.

    On Saturday, July 14, 10:00AM-11:00AM, "Writing Your Family History" will discuss all aspects of writing a compiled genealogy-style family history from considerations before beginning the project, to indexing and sharing it when complete.

    For more information, please see the Controlling Genealogy Clutter brochure. Please register for any of these free classes by calling 260-421-1225 or send an email to Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Celebrate through Contribution

    Tuesday, Jul 03, 2012

    by Delia

    July 4th. Independence Day. The day means more than sales, picnics, and fireworks. It's the day we celebrate our great nation's freedom, gained through a war from 1776 to 1783. But we often forget the Second War of American Independence, also known as the War of 1812, which was fought to convince Great Britain that, yes, they really could not impede our trade or force our citizens to fight their battles.

    Much attention has been paid to the Revolutionary War veterans and the records generated by that war, but the War of 1812 often falls through the cracks in history. Although an index to the pension records of the soldiers who fought in that conflict has been available on microfilm for many years, and is even online at Ancestry.com, to obtain the actual pension records, one had to send to the National Archives and Records Service for copies. Meanwhile, the documents have been quickly deteriorating and fading. The Federation of Genealogical Societies is spearheading Preserve the Pensions to digitize and preserve these records and make them available for research. And Ancestry.com is providing matching funds: Every dollar donated by you will be matched by Ancestry.com! And Preserve the Pensions is just the first step to digitizing other important military records from the Civil War, World War I and World War II.
    For more information, see Preserve the Pensions, and consider making a contribution today!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Learning from Personal Research Stories: Forming a Bond

    Friday, Jun 29, 2012

    by John

    We have been discussing favorite ancestors, and I can't say I have a particular "chosen one." There are some I have gotten to know better than others, largely because of the "sweat equity" I have invested in attempting to locate their parents, overcome brick walls, or develop stories for genealogical books. One example involves the story of how I got to know one of my great-great grandmothers, Caroline (Karp) Stobb. Born in West Prussia in 1843, Caroline immigrated to Detroit with her husband, Wilhelm Stobbe (later shortened to Stobb), and two older children in 1872. She died in Detroit in 1921. Our family knew where Wilhelm was born (the town of Garnsee in West Prussia), but we couldn't locate Caroline's German baptism or place of birth. The only clue we had was a cryptic note in an old family Bible, written by one of her daughters, stating that she was born on 30 September 1843 in "Kaldef." A search of German gazetteers showed no such place, and it soon became evident that the place name, as written, was wrong.

    Finding Caroline involved the proverbial "search for a needle in a haystack." I looked first at the IGI for Karp, and while some were from West Prussia, none of the entries offered clues. I considered German phonetics, keeping the "Kal-" but considering that the d could easily be a t and the place could be a tiny village, not a parish. I fanned out from Garnsee, poring over German maps and online gazetteers, ordering dozens of Lutheran parish registers on microfilm from the Family History Library, and examining those for a wide radius around Garnsee. At last I found a possibility: Kaltenhof, a tiny village in the parish of Riesenburg in the Kreis of Rosenberg, West Prussia. A search of the Riesenburg index confirmed by hunch, and there, at long last, was Caroline's baptism. Kaltenhof had been corrupted as "Kaldef."

    The process took about 20 years of intermittent work, during which I took time out to work on many other lines. Still, I kept coming back to Caroline. In studying her old photograph and that cryptic Bible entry, I came to feel that I knew her quite well. She did nothing famous or heroic. From the few stories I had from my grandmother, her granddaughter, I knew that she had spoken only German, would spend her days with a Bible spread out on her lap, and would often reach into her deep petticoats to give coins to her grandchildren while wearing a broad smile. Due to deaths and a number of childless children and grandchildren, Caroline ended up having very few surviving descendants - only my own family, that of my brother, and those of my three first cousins. Unlike other branches of my family where there are many extended relations, her progeny, at least at one time, was in danger of becoming extinct.

    I have to say I am a skeptic about the paranormal and the belief that our ancestors are out there somehow leading us to lost records from their past (even though I've recorded several ancestral ghost stories told as family traditions). But I do feel a special closeness to Caroline in ways that I can't explain, and somehow I feel that she would have been pleased that one of her very few great-great grandchildren took great pains to find and tell her story. Looking back at my life as a genealogist, I continue to feel good about that.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • 4th of July

    Monday, Jun 25, 2012

    The Genealogy Center, along with the Allen County Public Libraries, will be closed on Wednesday, July 4th, in observance of the 4th of July holiday. We are open normal hours for the rest of the week:  Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday, Saturday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Learning from Personal Research Stories: Verify What You Know

    Saturday, Jun 23, 2012

    by Delia

    A number of years ago, I was helping a customer with an unusual search. She was helping a friend whose frail great-aunt Margaret had been born in Fort Wayne. In the 1920s, when Margaret was very small, she, her mother and siblings left the area after her father, Frank died. Margaret's mother lost contact with her Frank's relatives, but Margaret had always wanted to know more about them.

    The census was no help as Frank and the family were together in 1920, but the wife and children were elsewhere by 1930. This was before we had an electronic obituary index for Fort Wayne that covered all of the 20th Century, so we started by looking in the book indexes, which were broken down by years, for an obituary for Frank in the 1920s, to see if his parents or siblings were named. We could not find an obituary in the index between 1920 and 1930, so we back tracked to the city directories, where we found Frank and family, listing his occupation and place of employment. Other people of the same surname were also working at the same place, so we followed up by seeking information on them, hoping they were relatives. After reading through several obituaries, we finally found Frank's parents' obituaries in the 1930s, with Frank listed as a survivor! No location was listed for him, which lead us to believe that he was in Fort Wayne at the time. He was not, however mentioned in the obituaries of his siblings in the 1950s and 1960s, nor was there ever an obituary for Frank. Finally, we looked at the cemetery records for the family, and there was Frank, buried with the rest of them, having died in the mid-1940s, 20 years after his wife and children had left, with the children always believing that he was dead. The only further clue was a notation on his gravestone: "Died Richmond, Ind." Frank had been in a state institution for the mentally challenged all along. A sad end to an interesting search. But a reminder that one needs to check, and verify, every fact to obtain the full story.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Learning from Personal Research Stories: History in Perspective

    Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012

    by Melissa

    Where does my family get its stubborn streak? This question was definitively answered when I decided to test my research skills with one of my collateral lines. I've always been curious about Laban, the brother of my 4th great-grandfather, who disappeared after the Civil War. In the course of my genealogical research, I discovered several interesting facts about this man, which prompted a desire to locate more in-depth historical records about his experience in the war.

    At the age of twenty-one, Laban enlisted with the Confederacy, though his siblings joined the Union. He was injured in the Battle of Greenbrier River (WV) and Sharpsburg (MD), where he lost an arm. Due to the nature of his injury, he resigned, but several letters in his service packet show he continued serving the Confederacy. One particular letter caught my interest as the individual remarked on Laban's strength of character and approved a request for Laban to return to his former place of residence, located in Union territory, and recruit Confederate troops. This letter was signed by Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.

    While in his former home state, Laban was captured and imprisoned at Camp Chase, OH. While being transported to Point Lookout, MD as part of a prisoner exchange, he escaped, but was recaptured and eventually paroled at the end of the war. Instead of returning to his former life and family, he settled in the southeastern region of the United States.

    His migration away from his family, his participation in the Confederacy while the rest of his family supported the Union, along with his eventual capture in an area that was his home raises many questions in my mind. Due to these questions, Laban has become my fascinating ancestor because he has made history come alive.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Learning from Personal Research Stories: Family Tales

    Saturday, Jun 16, 2012

    by Delia

    Some of my favorite "personal research" stories are the ones related to me by my maternal aunt when I first became interested in actually doing family history, one concerning a murder and one concerning some well-known people in the history of the Kentucky county from which we hailed. She would recount these stories over and over to impress upon me how important our family had been, but she'd never let me see the family Bible in which some of these people were listed. As I continued to expand my research skills, I wanted to learn more, and I began investigating these accounts, armed only with the fact she wished to impart to me to start. I began with the murder. The tale was that both husband and wife were murdered in a remote, unidentified area of the state in the mid-1840s, leaving behind their two small sons to be raised by the husband's parents. Some facts matched, but I could find no account of a double murder. I searched newspapers for several years, seeking some account. I examined court records in counties I thought might be likely, and sought guardianship records, all to no avail. At some point, after a number of years of research, my mother visited her older sister, and was able to make a photocopy of the Bible record for which I had been asking. As I examined the family record Mother had delivered into my hot, little hands, I realized that the supposed-murder-victim-wife actually died several days after her second son was born (probably of childbed fever) and her husband, the other supposed-murder-victim, died almost a year later. While this was not definitive proof that a murder did not occur, the facts do not match with the tale my aunt held dear. She was not happy with me.

    A couple of years later, I was looking into the prominent family to whom she claimed a connection. Yes, the names of our ancestor Mary, her father Samuel and her uncle William all matched, as I compared, the prominent family's dates were about a decade ahead of our Mary, Samuel and William. Other facts confirmed: Our family had not established the county seat. Again, I was a true disappointment to my aunt.

    Over the years, I popped another few of her cherished bubbles. I'd like to say that before she died, she thanked me for providing the true story of our family, but she didn't. However, these events did establish how I view the family stories that are related to me by our customers. They may be great narratives, but until they can be proved, they are just tall tales.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our Research Stories

    Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012

    As genealogists, we each have our favorite ancestor/ research stories, yet our family and friends do not seem to understand our excitement. They tire of hearing how we located great-great-grandmother's marriage record or a long lost granduncle. And when we discover that lone missing document after years or decades of searching, our acquaintances are not interested in hearing our news.

    The staff at The Genealogy Center can relate to these situations. Regularly, we work with individuals who squeal in excitement at locating an ancestor. And on a personal level, we share with our colleagues our own discoveries because in the end, we are family history researchers as well.

    In the coming weeks, we'll share our favorite ancestor research stories on this blog and invite you to join in by commenting on your own research or by posting on our facebook page. Though family and friends may not relate, the genealogy community shares in your excitement and The Genealogy Center would enjoy being a part of your research endeavors.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • How to Use The Genealogy Center

    Sunday, Jun 10, 2012

    Have you taken a tour of The Genealogy Center and still feel confused? Do you wonder how all the details make sense to other people? Join us on Saturday, June 23, 2012, 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM, in Meeting Room A, to learn "How to Use The Genealogy Center: Basics." A virtual tour along with an explanation of the catalog, microtext area, and the facility will be presented, but this session is not a beginning genealogy class, but rather an explanation of the collection. For more information, see the Tree Talks brochure. Please register for any or all of these free classes by calling 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Hitting the Genealogy Road

    Wednesday, Jun 06, 2012

    by Delia

    June is here and many people are starting long and short genealogy research trips. We wanted to bring you a half dozen tips as you prepare to go.

    1) Bring as much of your research information as you can, without bringing original documents and photos. Nothing is worse than discovering that you need a piece of information that is in your files at home -- unless it's when you discover that you left the only photo you have of Great-Aunt Sally, who died as a toddler in 1898, in the library photocopier.

    2) Make sure that information is organized and that you know what information you seek.

    3) Take a flash drive (or two!) with you. Many places have scanning capabilities and you can download images onto your drives. Digital cameras, are a good idea, too. But make sure your camera, as well as your computer, wallet, etc. are secured. Genealogists usually won't steal anything but your ancestors, but thieves look for distracted researchers.

    4) Be aware of what to wear. It's summer, 80, 90, 100 degrees outside and light shirts or shorts seem logical. But many institutions keep their research rooms very cool, so light sweaters or jackets may prove useful.

    5) Before you leave home, get the addresses and directions to the places you want to visit. Many institutions have websites with this information, as well as their hours and basic policies.

    6) Don't center your trip around one specific research problem or source. Be prepared with a back up research plan should you run into a brick wall.

    Those are our six tips. How about you? Care to share a tip about tooling down the Mother and Father Road?

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Try a New Source

    Saturday, Jun 02, 2012

    by Melissa

    Have you searched vital records? Do you have a collection of census pages for your ancestors? Did you locate that elusive passenger list? Are your digital files full of tombstone images? Yet do you feel like you are missing moments in your ancestor's life? Learn a new source this summer and incorporate it into your research. If you've never looked at a deed record, read a research guide about deeds and begin the search. Along with deeds, you can also experiment with plat maps and tax lists. If probate records have been cumbersome to use, learn more about using these documents since they can be quite insightful about your family. If you are comfortable with these record types, try manuscript collections, periodicals, state documents, etc. Diversify your research scope. With each new resource, we discover some new piece of our ancestor's life.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center