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  • More One-on-One Consultations

    Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013

    Do you have a brick wall in your research? Would you like a greater understanding of some aspect of your research? Personal research consultations with staff members of The Genealogy Center are now available. You can schedule a  30-minute session by calling 260-421-1225 or email for an appointment. You will be asked to provide information concerning the nature of your quandary. A staff member will be assigned and you will be contacted with a time for your consultation. Be sure to bring your research notes to your consultation. 

    Appointments are available on Tuesday September 24, 2013, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

    Five days of appointments are available during Family History Month, also from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. These dates are: Tuesday, October 2nd; Thursday October 10th; Tuesday October 15th; Thursday October 24th; and Tuesday October 29th. 

    Space each month is limited, so check your calendars early to take advantage of this unique offer!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • ... Research!

    Sunday, Aug 11, 2013

    by Delia

    Congratulations! You've arrived at The Genealogy Center, ready to get down to researching! But I want to cover a few details first.

    1. If you are here during the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference, be aware of our hours, especially the Extended Research Hours:

    • Monday, Aug. 19 – 9 a.m.-9 p.m. (regular hours)
    • Tuesday, Aug. 20 – 9 a.m.-9 p.m. (regular hours)
    • Wednesday, Aug. 21 – 9 a.m.-midnight (extended evening hours)
    • Thursday, Aug. 22 – 7 a.m.-midnight (extended morning & evening hours)
    • Friday, Aug. 23 – 7 a.m.-midnight (extended morning & evening hours)
    • Saturday, Aug. 24 – 7 a.m.-6 p.m. (extended morning hours)

    2. Try to make copies and scans as you go along. Don't get caught in a last-minute rush to the copiers!

    3. Remember that, if you are using a book and wish to use it the next day, leave it at your seat with a note that says, "Save." We will leave it for you to use again. However, if you are finished, please don't leave the books on the tables. Thinking that someone forgot the "Save" note, we may leave them for a day or two, and someone else may be wanting them. Instead, place them on a return cart or on the gray shelves so they will go back where they belong.

    4. Remember that if you don't know how to use the copiers, or have a computer question, or can't decipher an abbreviation, or just want to know where the restrooms (in the Great Hall, next to the elevators), just ask. We have many volunteers supplementing our staff for the conference week, and if they/we don't know, we can usually find out. So, just ASK!

    5. And, last but not least, have fun! The genealogical conferences I've attended have not only provided me education in research techniques, but also the opportunity to talk to researchers from all over. And, although we may not have water slides, we hope a visit to The Genealogy Center offers an enjoyable and productive research trip!

    See you soon!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • ... Get Set...

    Friday, Aug 09, 2013

    by Delia

    So, now you know what you want to research. Here are a few items you might want to bring or consider:

    • One or more USB drives. You can save images from our computers, from microfilm and fiche, and now, from books using our new photocopiers that not only make copies (including color copies) but also let you save PDF images! But be sure that there are no program files on your USB drives. Our computers won't accept them if they do. And bring more than one USB drive, just in case.
    • If you have your own computer or other electronic device, great! Bring it! We allow almost anything (except food and drink), but be sure to bring a lock or keep your valuables with you. While no one really wants to abscond with your research notes, your iPad, Netbook and other electronic devices are a great temptation, and, unfortunately, a large gathering will attract non-genealogists interested in acquiring something other than ancestors.
    • Bring one and five dollar bills. Copies and prints are ten cents each, but our new debit card system for photocopies and computer prints requires bills.
    • If you have an Ancestry account, remember that you may not access it from our computers, which are logged into the ACPL Account. If you have your own computer, log into your Ancestry account before coming to the library, and do not shut it down. When your computer accesses our wifi, you will already be on your own account.
    • And last, but not least, if you feel the cold sooner than others, bring a light sweater or jacket. As in all large buildings, there are many cool and hot spots. This is also true of most convention rooms, so if you do not relish the cool indoors after being in the August heat outside, be prepared!

    Next time: Research!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Get Ready...

    Wednesday, Aug 07, 2013

    by Delia

    So the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference for 2013 is almost upon us! I know everyone is ready for all of the wonderful sessions and fabulous speakers, the amazing exhibits, and all of the extra activities (the FGS Opening Social on Wednesday and the Friday Night Evening Local Event, just to name two), but are you ready for researching at The Genealogy Center?

    Whether you are coming for the Conference, or are planning a visit here later, we wanted to provide a few tips for making your research visit more enjoyable and productive. So, first, let's get ready!

    Take a bit of time to plan what you want to search while you are here. Determine what facts you seek, make notes about the family, and what sources you think might be best. Take time to check our book catalog and our microtext catalog. Note titles with the respective call numbers or roll numbers. This will help you hit the ground running when you arrive. Remember to add an extra few research projects, in case you either solve the first quickly, or hit that proverbial brick wall.

    Also, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with our website, especially under Pathfinders to view the Guides and Snapshots.

    Next: Get Set!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More Freedatabase Additions!

    Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013

    by Delia

    We love those big additions to our Free Databases, but it's also satisfying when we add smaller items or additions. Just recently, we added Ebenezer Morton, Bethena Davis, and their Children, by James P. Preusch. This item follows this family from Massachusetts to New York to Michigan, and although it's fairly short, preserves Mr. Preusch's research for all to view. At the same time, we added Notes & Excerpts on Rice Brothers & Descendants: A Work in Progress. Compiled and published by Randall M. Rice, Rainelle, WV, this work begins with a Revolutionary War soldier from Fauquier County, Virginia and his descendants, with several eventually removing to Indiana and includes a very interesting DNA study.

    On a larger scale, we also added nine digitized volumes of John R. Lifsey's Lifsey Family History and Genealogy, which includes more than a thousand pages of family history, documents and photographs.

    And last, but certainly not least, we added Kenneth Otto Graft's World War II Selective Service card, a photo of the very young Mr. Graft and copies of his 1997 Fort Wayne obituaries. These items not only memorialize his life and service, but also provides a very clear example of a Selective Service card.

    From the large collections to the small, we appreciate all of the items that people have generously allowed us to include in our digital collections. If you have something you'd like to make available for all to see, take a minute and contact us!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Something New!

    Friday, Jul 26, 2013

    Have you noticed the new button on The Genealogy Center homepage? It’s in the upper left corner and says, “Family Tree Pillow and Art. Click here.” Go ahead and click! The link will take you to our new partner, Keepsake Threads, who produces heirloom quality textile art and other items. They can take old family photographs or family trees and place the design on throw pillows for your living room, or on a wall hanging. They can also take cloth keepsakes to make quilts, stuffed animals, pillows, and, soon, quilt squares. Do you have all of the neckties worn by your dad from the 1970s? Or your children’s souvenir tee-shirts? They can provide ways to use those items to create a priceless family heirloom. And a portion of the genealogy pillow and wall hanging sales goes to the Allen County Public Library Foundation, which helps to support The Genealogy Center.

    So take a peek at their website, and visit them at their booth at the Federation of Genealogy Societies' Conference in August!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Some Connecticut Cemetery Listings Available at Free Databases!

    Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013

    by Delia

    Those of you who use our Free Databases may see a preponderance of material from Allen County and Indiana, but we also have thousands of records from around the country and that number is growing all of the time. Most recently, we have the East Granby Center Cemetery listings of Hartford County, Connecticut. This database was provided through the generosity of John T. Rusnock and the East Granby Center Cemetery Association. The database is search able by surname and/ or first name, and provides dates of birth and death, location of the 952 graves, as well as photographs of each of the tombstones. It is also searchable through our federated search on our home page.

    If you or your group has a database that you'd like us to host, please contact us.

    Take a few minutes today to explore this new database, and all of the Free Databases that are waiting at The Genealogy Center!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • What Does That Mean?

    Friday, Jul 19, 2013

    Does it sometimes seem like we're speaking a different language when you ask us something about genealogical research? The world of genealogy does have its own special words or expressions which may be difficult for beginners to understand. In this session, Cynthia Theusch will assist you in understanding words and phrases that are used by The Genealogy Center team.

    Part of the Beyond Ancestry's Leaves & Branches series.

    Wednesday July 24, 2013, 2:00PM-3:00PM.

    Meeting Room A.

    Call 260-421-1225 or send an email to register for this free class!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Tickets? Passport? Research?

    Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013

    by Sara

    Recently we had a visit from a patron who only had about 30 minutes to spend in The Genealogy Center to find the birth date and birth place of his immigrant ancestor. The patron explained that his sister was currently in Greece on vacation and needed the information TODAY so she could search for the family at the General Archives of Greece. This ancestor, let’s call him “Demetri,” came to this country from Greece around 1890* (*details changed to protect patron privacy). We were able to help the patron find Demetri’s birth date from his tombstone via the free website, Find a Grave, and from a World War II Draft Registration (found on Ancestry), although the two dates did not match exactly. A specific place of birth for him was not found, although it might have been possible, had the patron more time to spend on this question. While the patron seemed satisfied with what was found, I’m not sure how successful the sister’s search was at the Greek Archives, with only this sketchy information. What could this family have done differently to ensure greater success?

    Just as you apply for a passport, make your plane reservations, and arrange hotel accommodations all way in advance of your departure date, you need to do your genealogical homework beforehand for an overseas research trip as well. The most important thing you can do to prepare for your trip is to start researching your immigrant ancestral origins as soon as possible. There are many factors outside of our control that can make your particular ancestor search easier or harder. Finding an ancestor who came to the United States within the past 120 years is generally easier because more records were created and have survived from that time period. The search can be complicated by an immigrant’s decision to Americanize their name, and by political upheaval in Europe that has resulted in geographic boundary and town name changes. You will want to look for records created after the immigrant’s arrival in America that provide clues of immigrant origins, specifically, those that might show an ancestor’s date of birth, parents’ names, and/or birth place in the old country. Types of U.S. records to consult include: ship’s passenger lists, naturalization records, death certificates, marriage licenses, Social Security applications, obituaries, organizational records, land records, employment records, newspaper articles, probate records, family papers or Bibles, and church records - most of which are not typically available on the internet. Remember to research all members of the family who immigrated (father, mother, their children, siblings of the parents, cousins, etc.) because if you find where one of them originated, chances are the rest of the family was from the same place. This research may take some time to complete, but will be worth the time spent, if it helps you find your immigrant origins, right? Armed with this data, you can then travel to the old country with the correct information and increase your chances of success in foreign archives and libraries. You might also be able to pre-arrange a visit to your ancestral village(s) of origin.

    A second important task you should complete before your trip is to find the website for or current information about any foreign libraries/archives you wish to visit; check their hours, location, and holdings; and try to set up an appointment via email or telephone for a specific date and time to look at specific records. Not doing this can lead to upsetting situations, such as arriving at an archives on a Monday, only to find out that the building is closed to the public on Mondays or that the English- speaking archivist is only in the office on Wednesdays.

    We want your next family history trip to be a success. So remember to plan ahead for possible future trips, come and see us in The Genealogy Center, and start researching your immigrant ancestor today!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • July 24th: Interpreting Genealogy Jargon

    Saturday, Jul 13, 2013

    Does it seem like we are speaking a different language than you are? The world of genealogy has its own special words or expressions which may be difficult for beginners to understand. Genealogy staff will assist you in understanding words and phrases that are used by The Genealogy Center team.

    Monday July 24, 2 - 3 PM, Meeting Room A.

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • How to Archive Family Keepsakes

    Wednesday, Jul 10, 2013

    by John

    The Genealogy Center often gets new books that have a wide interest to a variety of patrons. We recently received a great new book by Denise May Levenick titled, How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia, & Genealogy Records, GC 929 L576h. It deserves to be read by every genealogist, especially those of us who are not as organized as we would like to be. A short book with just over 200 pages, this book is, in fact, a very practical guide for getting a handle on all of the “stuff” that we genealogists and family historians have accumulated (a very real challenge in my household).

    Levenick offers practical checklists throughout her book, starting with a chapter on setting goals for your archival project: organizing, inventorying, deciding how to store, and enlisting assistance, among many others. As an archivist myself by training, I appreciated her early articulation of the Curator’s Commandment: Do no harm. “Think twice, if not three times, before attempting any conservation acts involving irreplaceable family artifacts.”

    She goes on to offer practical advice about selecting proper archival-quality storage media and developing a workable organization scheme. There is an excellent chapter on cataloging archival photos with practical advice about storing as well as digitizing. Another chapter focuses on family heirlooms, such as art, china and glassware, jewelry, toys, clothing, quilts, tools, and other items. Yet another one deals with family papers and genealogy files. Levenick discusses whether to digitize or store in vertical files, showing how to catalog and organize files and showing the advantages and disadvantages of every method she proposes.

    I enjoyed this book both for the simplicity of its organization and for how well it addresses a complex subject. It should be used by any genealogist wishing to get a firm handle on organizing their family “stuff.”

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Finding and Using Directories in The Genealogy Center

    Sunday, Jul 07, 2013

    by John

    One of the major holdings of The Genealogy Center is its collection of city directories, both bound and on microfilm. With more than 55,000 bound directories alone, The Center has long been a major repository of volumes published by the R. L. Polk Company. Fred J. Reynolds, the Allen County Public Library’s director for whom The Genealogy Center’s collection is named, negotiated an agreement with the company in the mid-1960s for the library to receive a copy of each directory the company publishes each year. While those for some cities and years went out-of-print before a donation could be made, the bulk of what Polk has published since the 1960s is available in book form in The Genealogy Center. Researchers should keep in mind that for many larger cities, no directory has been published for many decades while other smaller cities have either been discontinued or combined with other towns into new county directories. Earlier directories for many U.S. cities published before 1960 are available in The Genealogy Center on microfilm.

    City directories are indispensable tools in historical and genealogical research. Although they contain varying amounts of information depending on the time period and locality for which they were published, they can help a researcher in a variety of ways. They can distinguish people of the same name living in an urban area, provide information about residence and employment, and occasionally, show the names of spouses or widows as well as people of the same last name living at the same address. Rural directories, which are extant for a select number of counties and years, mainly in Midwestern states, will sometimes provide additional information, such as the names of children, the number of acres owned, the value of a farm, and even occasionally the religious and political affiliations of residents. When used in conjunction with federal census records, directories can provide valuable information for intervening years, allowing genealogists to pinpoint years of death and changing places of residence. Twentieth century directories offer an additional street and address cross-reference access, allowing users to determine the names of persons living at an address over time. City and rural directories are also valuable for identifying religious congregations, businesses, governmental offices, professionals, and fraternal orders in a particular locality.

    Users of The Genealogy Center’s catalog wishing to locate directories of various types will want to enter the name of the city and state, combined with the word “directories.” If listings appear, they will be separate entries if the directories were produced by different companies. Holdings information will include the years that The Center holds. Also, if a city directory has been recombined into a county directory, expect it to appear in a separate catalog entry with publishing dates that are usually more recent.

    To locate city directories on microfilm and microfiche, including most of the Center’s holdings before 1960, click on “Databases” from the main web page, and then click on “Microtext Catalog.” Then, under the column marked “Specialty Records,” click on the “City & County Directories” link. It will allow you to enter a state name, and once selected, an alphabetical list of directories will appear, together with the available years. Some cities have an expanded link that takes the user into a new page with more detailed holdings information. Directories on microfiche are the oldest in the collection and pre-date 1860. Some cities such as Philadelphia and New York have runs of directories extending back to the eighteenth century. Directories on microfilm often begin about 1861 and can sometimes run until 1935 or for a few cities, through 1960, though the coverage varies from place to place.

    On your visit to The Genealogy Center, a librarian can show you on a map where both types of directories are located. The bound directories are located, for the most part, in the center section of moveable stacks in the west reading room. They follow the same modified Dewey decimal sequence as books on the main shelves. A few rural directories are not shelved here, however, and are instead to be found with the county histories and other books for a particular county. The pre-1860 directories published on microfiche are housed in in a cabinet marked C and are part of a collection known as “American Directories.” The remaining city directories are filed alphabetically by city in cabinets 26 through 34.

    The breadth and scope of The Genealogy Center’s holdings of city and rural directories make it a major component of our collection. Researchers, especially those with urban ancestors, will be rewarded for taking the time to examine at least a few of them.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Fun Fourth Facts

    Thursday, Jul 04, 2013

    As we celebrate the Fourth of July today, here a few fun facts with which you can dazzle friends and family during the fireworks show:
    • Less than half of the residents of the thirteen colonies supported the Revolution. About one third of the remaining supported the British, and the rest were neutral.
    • African Americans served on both sides during the Revolutionary war, but the first man shot in the Boston Massacre was African-American Crispus Attucks.
    • The only person to sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4th was John Hancock. Most of the other delegates signed it on August 2nd. Hancock’s signed in such large letters his name became a term for “signature.”
    The Genealogy Center wishes you a happy and safe Fourth!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Closed July 4th

    Monday, Jul 01, 2013

    The Genealogy Center, like all agencies of the Allen County Public Library, will be closed Thursday July 4th, in honor of Independence Day, and all of the heroes who contributed to the American cause. Take a few minutes on Thursday, between picnics and barbecues, baseball and racing to ponder how different our lives would be if our fledgling country had remained a British Colony. When you watch the fireworks, remember that they represent "the rockets red glare" of battle.

    We will be open our regular hours of 9A-9P on Wednesday, July 3rd, and 9A-6P on Friday, July 5th.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Highlighting YOUR Storm Photos!

    Saturday, Jun 29, 2013

    One year ago today, on Friday, June 29, 2012, Allen County, Indiana, along with much of the Midwest, experienced an extremely strong thunderstorm, known as a derecho, which resulted in a great deal of damage to homes and other buildings, many fallen trees, and the loss of electrical power to tens of thousands of homes. Some area residents were without power for more than a week due to that storm and the other storms in the days following.

    Following the storm, many people would take photos of the destruction. Knowing that these scenes would be fascinating to future generations, we invited the community to share those photos with others. Those photos are now available through Community Album, so take a few minutes to view these Summer Storm 2012 photos, and remember where you were last year. If you have photos you'd like to share, the Album is still open. Just click and follow the directions.

    And keep your umbrella handy, just in case!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Saturday July 13: Just Start "Looking" on!

    Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013

    "You don't even have to know what you're looking for, you just have to start looking," or so says the popular Ancestry commercials. In this overview of Ancestry, Melissa Shimkus will demonstrate how to look for people, places, records, and information using the largest commercial genealogical website.

    Meeting Room A, Saturday, July 13, 10 AM to 11 AM.

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Ramping Up for the FGS Conference

    Saturday, Jun 22, 2013

    by Dawne

    Excitement is building at The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library about the upcoming Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference! Since the bulk of the conference sessions will be held just across the street at the Grand Wayne Convention Center, the conference will impact The Genealogy Center in a number of ways:

    • Librarians’ Day, a day featuring sessions especially for librarians who serve genealogists, will be Tuesday, August 20, with all sessions and the luncheon at the library.
    • Final space planning is not yet complete, but at least some Conference workshops and sessions will take place in library meeting rooms and the beautiful auditorium.
    • The Genealogy Center will have extended hours for research, including 9 a.m. to midnight Wednesday, August 21; 7 a.m.-midnight Thursday and Friday, August 22 and 23; and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, August 24.
    • Volunteers will be “swarming” The Genealogy Center, eager to help you navigate the physical space, locate items, use the equipment and brainstorm next-steps for your research.
    • Friday night’s local host event will be a fabulous evening at the library. The Genealogy Center will have extended hours until midnight, and in addition, there will be a War of 1812 educational session and the awarding of the heirloom War of 1812 quilt, a light dessert buffet sponsored by FamilySearch, and Civil War-era ballroom dancing (audience participation!) in the Great Hall. This is not to be missed! Everyone must have a ticket to attend and admission is only $10, but you may donate MORE if you wish – proceeds go to the Preserve the Pensions fund.
    Fort Wayne and The Genealogy Center love it when FGS Conferences come to town! If you have never been to The Genealogy Center, this would be a great time for your inaugural visit!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Origins of “Kekionga” in Fort Wayne's Past, Pt. 2

    Wednesday, Jun 19, 2013

    by John

    A more recent book by Indiana University professor and linguist Michael McCafferty, an authority on Algonquian languages, casts doubt on most of the above theories, and his work illustrates the complexities of language that can often be imbedded in the naming of a place. In his book, Native American Place-Names of Indiana (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008) Gc 977.2 M123n, McCafferty devotes a chapter on the Kekionga-Kiskakon question, and local historians finally have some answers to a question that has vexed them as they have grown dissatisfied with the blackberry patch tradition.

    McCafferty agrees with Dunn that <Kiskakon> has an Ottawa derivation. Offering a richer explanation, he states that it was almost certainly derived from the common Gallicized Algonquian name for the bear totem band of the Ottawa tribe. However, he also clarifies how this Ottawa term came to be applied to this place, since the Miami, not the Ottawa, were the dominant tribe in this area. His explanation seems sensible: it was not that the Ottawa held this place, but that it was their term for this Miami-held place, since Ottawa would surely have had a name for this important area. The original word, before being altered by the French, may have been kiiskakkam or the longer kiskakkamikaang. “In sum, then,” writes McCafferty, “the French may have used <Kiskakon>, an old, comfortable Ottawa standard in lieu of the actual somewhat homophonous Ottawa expression.”

    In continuing his analysis, McCafferty demonstrates convincingly that <Kekionga> did not derive from a corruption of <Kiskakon>, since it has no common linguistic root. It does not mean blackberry patch, nor does it stem from the Miami-Illinois word, (ah)kihkonki, meaning pot or kettle. One possibility, he suggests, is a different Miami word, (ah)kihkionki, pronounced [kihkioŋgi], a term that means “on the earth.” The Miami villages at Fort Wayne were located on a steep bluff on the St. Joseph River just north of the confluence, where the French built their second fort, Fort St. Joseph. A French-speaking British lieutenant, H. Duvernet, observed in 1778 that the rivers often overflowed their banks in the spring, drowning many of the Indian dwellings, but ground where the French fort was built stood on higher ground and was dry. “Thus, given the site’s geographical setting, one is inclined to see in Miami-Illinois (ah)kihkionki … as a term referring to the only suitable dry living space amid the surrounding, expansive swamplands and flood-prone valleys – on the earth rather than submersed in water.”

    Even this interpretation is likely wrong, however, and McCafferty goes on to call <Kekionga> “a fun-house mirror” because of its inherent distortions. Since it does not appear in any French or British sources from the eighteenth century, one has to search other records. The Moravian missionary David Zeisberger wrote the name in 1784 as <Gigeyunk>. John Heckewelder, a colleague, called it <Kegeyunk> at about the same time, while the American general Josiah Harmar wrote in 1790 of <Kekaiogue> before his ill-fated expedition against the Miami villages later that year. All of these terms seem to be early variations of Kekionga, but the name has not been found in earlier sources.

    After a lengthy analysis of the vowel sounds, McCafferty proposes another Miami-Illinois word for the word’s origin, kiihkayonk, pronounced [kiihkayoŋgi], a phrase meaning “at Kikaya” or “Kikaya’s Place,” with <Kikaya> representing a personal name in the Delaware Indian language for “Old Man.” The Miami retooled the name in their own dialect. Perhaps “Kikaya” represented General Anthony Wayne, who had defeated the confederated tribes at the Battle of Fallen Timbers and constructed Fort Wayne at the headwaters in 1794. With the Americans now firmly occupying the site, it would have been logical for the remaining Miami to use this term. However, the matter is still more complicated, since variants of <Kekionga> were in use in the 1780s. Perhaps the Delaware tribe had used <Kikaya> as a term of respect for the principal Miami chiefs and elders who had lived there before Wayne’s arrival. McCafferty proposes yet another similar word, čečaahkonki, meaning “at the sand-hill crane,” since the crane was the totem for the Miami and could be seen as a representation of their village. However, there is no contemporary documentary evidence for its use, even though it seems logical, since a similar word, waayaahtanonki, meaning “at the Wea,” was used to describe the Miami-Wea village near modern Lafayette.

    In Native American Place-names of Indiana, McCafferty comes closer than any historian in unraveling the mystery of Kekionga, but his conclusions are by no means simple or clear-cut. As he has so meticulously revealed, the story of the name contains many layers, and none stands out as absolutely authoritative. When delving into the naming history of any place, whether it is here in Fort Wayne or elsewhere, expect that task to be muddy. The path may take the researcher into linguistic studies that go far beyond what one would expect in traditional sources. Merely opening a local history book may not offer up an accurate explanation.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Origins of “Kekionga” in Fort Wayne's Past, Pt. 1

    Tuesday, Jun 18, 2013

    by John

    What’s in a name, or more specifically, a place name? Local historians and genealogists are often challenged by the earlier names given to a specific place, especially if that name is rooted in a Native American language and has been endowed over time with romantic or exotic connotations. What is the real meaning of the word, and how has it changed? Getting to the truth may involve much more than opening up a local history book.

    A case in point involves the word <Kekionga>. The area at the headwaters of the Maumee River in northeastern Indiana that comprises what is now the city of Fort Wayne, just blocks from where the library stands, was known by a variety of names in its long past. Before the establishment of the first American fort in 1794, the land had both strategic and mercantile significance to Native Americans and French voyageurs that explored and occupied the region in the early eighteenth century. When General Anthony Wayne built Fort Wayne, his officers and soldiers referred to the collection of Miami and other Indian villages located nearby variously as Miamitown and Kekionga – the latter term being an approximation, at best, for the Miami parlance as interpreted by an American ear. French explorers of an earlier time had referred to this place by many other names, including “Kiskakon.” The villages stood on the opposite side of the Maumee River near its confluence with the St. Joseph and St. Mary’s rivers in what is now the Lakeside neighborhood. It was an area of strategic importance to the United States in the 1790s, since controlling the rivers meant domination of the Old Northwest Territory.

    Since the mid-nineteenth century, local historians have attempted to find the meaning of these terms even though their research has not been fully grounded in linguistics. In the first published History of Fort Wayne in 1868, Wallace Brice, an amateur historian, contended that <Kekionga> was the Miami term for “blackberry bush” or “blackberry patch” (see Wallace Brice, History of Fort Wayne from the Earliest Known Accounts [Fort Wayne: D. W. Jones, 1868], p. 23n). Even though it had no historical basis, Brice’s claim was repeated by generations of historians that followed him. Indeed, <Kekionga> had an exotic sound that made it a favorite of early nineteenth century settlers in Fort Wayne. Over time it developed a deep resonance. Businesses and clubs adopted the name, especially after it was incorporated into Fort Wayne’s official city seal in 1858. A few years later the city’s first professional baseball team became known as the Kekiongas as a nod to this heritage.

    The term <Kiskakon>, on the other hand, was probably unknown to the early settlers. This name was seldom used after the mid-eighteenth century, though it remained popular among early French traders and military officers as noted by Charles Poinsatte in his Outpost in the Wilderness: Fort Wayne 1706-1828. But the French were known to use a myriad of other terms for their outpost and their trading partners, often recycling the names that they heard in conversations and writing them down phonetically.

    Kekionga, more than Kiskakon, captured the public imagination. By the 1850s, blackberry bushes had a pleasing connotation for explaining the area’s origins. The respected Indiana historian Jacob P. Dunn wrote in 1888 that the blackberry bush was an emblem of antiquity, since the bushes sprang up on the sites of many older settlements in Indiana. He claimed that the story of Kekionga’s blackberry definition had originated with one Barron, an old French trader on the Wabash River, who may have repeated the claim to Brice. Dunn qualified the tradition, however, by asserting that “Kekionga” was more likely a corruption or dialectical form of <Kiskakon> or <Kikakon>, a variant name for the place, but he failed to offer evidence for how such a change was made (see Jacob P. Dunn, Indiana: A Redemption from Slavery [New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1888], p. 48).

    Dunn identifies <Kiskakon> as the name of a band or subgroup within the Ottawa tribe, defined as “clipped scalp locks.” Since the Maumee River which flows past the village was sometimes known on early maps as the Ottawa River, Dunn suggests without authority that the Ottawa tribe must have occupied the location of the Miami village. Following his lead, other scholars have suggested that the term <Kekionga> may itself be derived from “hair clipping place,” perhaps to designate a spot where Native American warriors shaved and prepared their hair for battle and ceremony (see Michael Hawfield, Here’s Fort Wayne Past and Present [Fort Wayne: Bicentennial Fort Wayne, 1994], p. 6).

    (More tomorrow about Kekionga!)

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Genealogy Center Catalog: Modified Dewey

    Saturday, Jun 15, 2013

    by Delia

    Since the call numbers for genealogical material can stretch from the 200s to the 900s, many years ago, the staff of the Genealogy Department and the catalogers for the old Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County created a modified Dewey System just for the Genealogy Collection. Within this modified system, most of the volumes in The Genealogy Center have numbers in the 900s, and are cataloged and physically organized by geographic locality - region and state - rather than by subject, such as church records or cemeteries. For example, northeastern states (Maine, Pennsylvania, New Jersey) are all 974s and southern states (Kentucky, Florida, Texas) are 975s and 976s. Then, each state has a number after the decimal point, creating a distinctive number for that state, i.e., Pennsylvania is 974.8, Texas is 976.4 and California is 979.4. General, statewide material is classified with these numbers. These are sources like state or regional histories, biographical works, statewide lists and indexes of cemeteries, Bible records, naturalization records, and more.

    For county-specific material, our modified Dewey system adds an 01 following the state number. This new number (for example, 974.801), indicates that the volume is a Pennsylvania county-specific book. The first part of the second "deck" of the catalog number signifies the county and causes books to be arranged alphabetically by county within each state section. For example, York County, Pennsylvania's number is 974.801 Y8, and Lincoln County, Nebraska's number is 978.201 L63. Additional letters are assigned to the end of the county designation so that each book has a unique number.

    Following the county books in each state area, is a section of books specific to cities and towns within the state. The top "deck" of modified Dewey numbers for city books end in 02. So Pennsylvania statewide books (974.8) are followed by Pennsylvania county books (974.801), which are followed by Pennsylvania city/town books (974.802). The second "deck" of the city and town books are assigned similarly to those of the county books, and their numbers cause the city/town books also to be shelved alphabetically within that section.

    So, as you see, understanding this modified (and simplified) Dewey system will make it easier to browse our stacks when you visit, but if you are seeking something specific, checking our own catalog, rather than that of another library is vital. Get ready for your visit by checking our catalogs in advance!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center