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  • Who's Your Mommy?

    Monday, Jan 07, 2013

    by Delia

    Congratulations! You found your ancestor in the 1880 census, a 14-year-old boy living with his parents and several siblings, both older and younger! You gleefully place these new names on your family chart and proceed on with your research. Right?

    No, of course not! You realize that this young man may well be the son of the head of the household (he's listed as the man's son, after all), but that woman might be his mother, or may be someone his widowed (or divorced) father may have married after the boy's mother died.

    Since you've already tried getting a full death record to see if his parents are listed (no, the space is blank), and his obituary (not mentioned), you know you have to try another few tricks. You look for will and/or probate records, but, although the father's will mentioned his children by name, the woman died before her husband.

    You look for marriage records and find a record for the father marrying a woman of the correct first name a year before the oldest child in the family was born. But as you check further and discover the father married again, in 1872, to a woman with the same first name as his first wife. You find a cemetery listing for the first wife (you ignored it before, thinking she was still alive in 1880), and all of the pieces are falling into place. A close examination of church records verifies your theory: Your ancestor was the son of the 1880 head of household and his first wife. And you have successfully resisted the urge to jump to a conclusion without all of the facts.

    NOW you can add those names in the proper places!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Artifacts Can Aid and Supplement Research

    Thursday, Jan 03, 2013

    by Dawne

    The Genealogy Center received an email query from fellow genealogy librarian Marcia Ford of the Kokomo and Howard County (IN) Public Library Genealogy & Local History Department, recently, asking if we could identify the object in the picture featured with this entry. Marcia had been sent the photo by a colleague, whose friend found the object with a metal detector. It is rectangular, about two inches wide and three inches tall with a hole in the top and small tabs on the sides. Its legend reads “XMAS GREETING ’91” and what looks like “__ESA ARMSTRONG.” Underneath that, “FT. WAYNE, IND.” is clear. There may be a smaller embossed message below this, but it isn’t readable from the picture.

    After some research, it seems likely that this metal tag was once attached to a hat box. The name on the tag isn’t “___ESA ARMSTRONG,” but “JAMES A. ARMSTRONG.” According to The Illustrated Milliner, Vol. 11, pp. 175-176, published in 1910, James A. Armstrong established Adams & Armstrong millinery firm in Fort Wayne in 1886 and shortly after bought out his partner and changed the name of the company to The James A. Armstrong Millinery Co. The 1890-1891 Fort Wayne City and Allen County Directory published by R. L. Polk Company, shows James A. Armstrong, wholesale milliner, with his shop at 109 Calhoun Street.

    It may be that this tag was attached to the hat boxes containing hats ordered by women to complement their holiday finery, or to the boxes of hats purchased as gifts, or both. In effect, the tag probably served as an advertisement for the James A. Armstrong Company. Without locating an intact hat box from that company for the 1891 holiday season, or a photograph of one, it is not possible to know for sure whether the mystery of this item’s identity has been solved, but this seems like a reasonable possibility.

    The full text of the 1910 issue of The Illustrated Milliner that includes the article mentioning the James A. Armstrong Company is available online at the HathiTrust Digital Library. It even includes a photograph of James! James A. Armstrong added C. T. Pidgeon and W. S. Turner to his firm in 1894, then sold out to his partners and moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1902. According to the article, he planned to retire from the millinery business at that point, but because “Denver held such alluring prospects for a first class jobbing millinery house,” he changed his mind about retiring and established Howland & Armstrong in Denver. That firm was dissolved in 1902 and Armstrong, with a former Fort Wayne partner, W. S. Turner, formed the Armstrong Turner Millinery Company in Denver, which was still in business at the time the article was written in 1910.

    Heirlooms and artifacts sometimes can tell their stories if we are observant and think creatively about sources in libraries and elsewhere that might help us decipher available clues. In this case, old city directories were instrumental in unlocking a possible answer to the mystery of the metal Christmas greetings tag.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Year Goals

    Sunday, Dec 30, 2012

    by Delia

    When I first started researching, I would make up my New Year's goals for genealogy. Initially, the list was full of "Find great-grandmother's brother's wife's maiden name," and "Figure out what happened to Harry." Those were all great goals, but, really, I was going to work on those anyway. New Year's goals should encourage us to do something different, to make a change for the better in our research techniques, our documentation standards, or our policies about sharing material. So here are a few goals you might want to consider:

    Pledge to investigate new information thoroughly, and evaluate the source for authenticity and accuracy.

    Pledge to add the new information to your research compilation along with detailed citations that include the source person or document, and where the source is located.

    Pledge to submit something of your research to posterity, such as write and submit a well-documented article to a genealogical society journal or scan old family photos to a disk and submit to a historical society or to The Genealogy Center's Family Resources.

    Pledge to talk to an older relative and really listen, learning more about his or her life experiences, and record or transcribe what you hear.

    Pledge to join a genealogical society. As more and more people are connected only electronically, we are losing the benefits of sharing our research triumphs and failures with others.

    Pledge to attend a genealogical conference at least once. Aside from valuable classes and vendors on display at a conference, the networking opportunities and problem-solving discussions are invaluable. Genealogists are among the most friendly of conference attendees, willing to converse with others about various research sources and techniques. Of course, I might mention that the Federation of Genealogical Societies' annual conference, Journey Through Generations, will be in Fort Wayne August 21-24, 2013.

    Last, pledge to be on the watch for others who may be interested in researching their family trees, and aid them as they begin. You may be able to introduce a friend to the wonders of family history.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Year's Closings

    Wednesday, Dec 26, 2012

    Like other Allen County Public Library facilities, The Genealogy Center will close at 5PM on Monday, December 31st (our hours that day will be 9AM to 5PM) for New Year's Eve, and will be closed all day on Tuesday, January 1, 2013. We will reopen our regular hours, 9AM to 9PM on Wednesday, January 2nd. Take the time we are closed to create your Genealogy New Year's Goals!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Gift Everyone Wants: To Be Heard

    Sunday, Dec 23, 2012

    by Delia

    Of course, we as genealogists value the tales of our ancestors, whether he was a Baptist deacon, she was a missionary, he was a bank robber or she was labeled a lunatic for disagreeing with her husband. Of course, the farther back we go, the more interesting they become.

    But the ancestor sitting right in front of us doesn't seem nearly as interesting. He or she is old, crotchety and complains a lot and maybe there's that medicinal smell that reminds us of our own mortality. When a question about the past arises, the facts might get embellished or the speaker will go off on some tangent, telling every conceivable part of the backstory and struggling to reconcile the dates and events to match the story.

    A colleague recently shared this with me, and as I read through the poem, I thought about the people whose stories I had heard, and while I wished I had actually recorded those tales, I was happy that I had listened and remembered. Those accounts were good for me to hear and good for someone else to tell.

    At this time of gift-giving, we often hear others worry what to give to an older relative, usually resorting to bath robes and lotions. This year, let's advise these non-family historians that the best gift they can give to an older relative is uninterrupted listening time. And, in return, the gift might just come back as a greater understanding of the family.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Emancipation Proclamation Panel Discussion on January 13, 2013

    Friday, Dec 21, 2012

    by Jane

    To commemorate the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection's Lincoln at the Library program will present “Lincoln’s Gamble: The Emancipation Proclamation.”

    This panel discussion of the context and effects of the Proclamation will be held on Sunday, January 13, 2013, in the Main Library's Meeting Room A, from 2:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon. Panelists will offer varying perspectives—political, historical, and cultural—on the Proclamation and will address questions from the audience. “Lincoln’s Gamble” is sponsored by the Friends of the Allen County Public Library.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • We're Tweeting!

    Wednesday, Dec 19, 2012

    By Dawne

    The Genealogy Center has joined the ranks of Those Who Tweet. Interested individuals can go to and log in as usual, or sign up for a free Twitter account, to follow @ACPLGenealogy. The Genealogy Center Twitter account joins this blog, the The Genealogy Center website, the department’s Facebook page and the electronic magazine, Genealogy Gems, as another way to reach out to patrons and let them know what’s happening at The Genealogy Center. Tweets will mention programs, special events, genealogy tips, news and more.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Closed for Holidays December 23 through 25, 2012

    Sunday, Dec 16, 2012

    The Genealogy Center, like all other facilities of the Allen County Public Library, will be closed Sunday,  December 23rd through Tuesday December 25th. We will be open our regular hours, 9AM to 6PM, on Saturday, December 22nd, and will reopen our regular hours, 9AM to 9PM, on Wednesday, December 26th. We wish everyone a safe, happy and genealogically enlightening holiday!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our Ever-Growing Free Databases

    Thursday, Dec 13, 2012

    by Delia

    If you haven't checked The Genealogy Center's Free Databases recently (or ever), now is a good time.

    Fifteen rural cemetery transcriptions have been added recently, from Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Wabash, Wells and Whitley Counties in Indiana and Berrien County in Michigan, thanks to the efforts of a pair of area cemetery preservation enthusiasts. Each entry contains the tombstone transcription and although the cemeteries can be searched separately, one can also use the federated search box on The Genealogy Center's home page.

    More than 450 surnames have been added to our Genealogy Center Surname File,which facilitates contact among researchers who have visited us and added their contact information. The entire Surname File can be searched by last name.

    And finally, more than seven thousand citations have been added to the Fort Wayne and Allen County Obituary Index, 1841-October 2012. Our extensive index of obituaries for the county is a boon to researchers of local families, past and present. This file can be searched separately or through the federated search.

    So take the time to browse through these, and all of the other records available for free at The Genealogy Center!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Add Color to Your Research

    Monday, Dec 10, 2012

    by Delia

    Like other agencies of the Allen County Public Library, The Genealogy Center installed new copiers in early November. Two of them are an upgrade of what we had before, so no real changes there. However, the other two have the capability of producing color copies! The new color copiers are located in the Family History Room.

    Once you select the copier mode and use your copy card, the new machine will provide black and white copies, but all you have to do is press the "Full Color" button, then Start to get a color copy.

    At twenty-five cents, the color copies are a bit pricier than the ten cent black and white ones, but if you find a map, photo or document in color, it's worth the price.

    So come to visit and see our newest aid to our researchers.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Remember and Record

    Friday, Dec 07, 2012

    by Delia

    Today is the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which triggered America's involvement in the Second World War. Many men and women died that day, and many more would die, in battle or from injuries, in the years to come. Each year, veterans pass away without telling their stories, whether from that war or others since. Please take this weekend to seek out a veteran and record his or her story, on paper or with an audio or video recording, and scan or copy photos, letters, diaries and other documents that record the experiences. Keep the information for your family, donate it to a local library or historical society, or send copies or originals to us for inclusion in Our Military Heritage. We can scan typed or digitized material and return the originals, along with an electronic copy. The people who served need to be remembered.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Class to Aid You in Organization

    Tuesday, Dec 04, 2012

    Having trouble keeping your research tasks and needs organized? “Using OneNote in your Genealogical Research” will help you learn how to use Microsoft OneNote, to keep your genealogical notes, references, and research in a single place and accessible from any computer.

    This one-hour class starts at 2:30 PM and will be held in Meeting Room A.

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

    This class is part of The Genealogy Center’s WinterTech series. Future classes are “E-Readers & Family History,” on January 9, 2013, and “Plug In Your Armchair Genealogy: Researching from Home,” on February 13, 2013. For more information on any of these classes, see the brochure.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Partings

    Friday, Nov 30, 2012

    On November 30, 2012, Steve Myers will log his last hours as The Genealogy Center's Assistant Manager. He is retiring from the library to pursue other genealogical opportunities. Steve has been with us since 1986, first as a Reference Librarian, then as Assistant Manager. He has helped The Genealogy Center accomplish many great things during his tenure with us, including two major moves (2003 and 2007) of not only the genealogy collection but also of the entire library, and many minor (and not so minor!) shifts of materials through the years. All of our publications, including our subject guides and "Genealogy Gems," have benefited from his high editorial standards. Steve pioneered our two-day mini-courses, and challenged us to keep our customers central in all we do. We are going to greatly miss his professionalism, his customer-service ideals, and his sense of humor. We wish him well as he follows his new path, and we hope to see him almost as much as a customer and a volunteer as we did as colleague.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • FamilySearch Adds 2M+ Images to Indiana Marriage Database

    Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012

    By Dawne

    FamilySearch ROCKS!

    This will be of interest to those who have Indiana ancestors – FamilySearch,org recently uploaded more than two million digital marriage record images to its database titled Indiana Marriages 1811-1959. Members of the Indiana Genealogical Society, as partners with FamilySearch have been indexing the state’s marriage records for several years. Until this recent bump, the database was about 68 percent complete and included no record images. In one significant update, the database jumped to 82 percent complete with the more than two million images attached.

    The database is searchable and includes data for marriage returns and licenses from eighty of Indiana’s ninety-two counties, including some pre-statehood Indiana Territory marriage records. The counties that have not yet been included are Perry, Pike, Porter, Pulaski, Putnam, Scott, Shelby, Spencer, Stark, Switzerland, Tipton and Vermillion. FamilySearch reports that additional records will be added as they are completed.

    In a few cases, images for counties included in the database are not yet available for viewing because of contract issues, but they are available on microfilm and may be borrowed from the Family History Library through its film loan program.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • National Day of Listening

    Friday, Nov 23, 2012

    by Delia

    So Thanksgiving is over and the big push to the holidays begin and you hunt for the perfect gift for everyone on your list. But, you know, some people don't need anymore ties, after-shave, or talcum powder. But StoryCorps has a better idea, it costs you very little, if anything, and will please almost anyone, and it kicks off today, the National Day of Listening. This is an opportunity for you to take the time to have someone tell you a story and record it. StoryCorp is saluting veterans and offer some questions for you to use to begin your interview, although you can interview anyone. So give yourself and someone else a gift this year by listening!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • ...And a Small Helping of Family History

    Sunday, Nov 18, 2012

    by Delia

    Thanksgiving is one of the days of the year when family, in the extended sense, gathers. Children, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws and friends, all gather to share a meal and thanks. This is one of the holidays that doesn't center around gifts or candy, and lest we lose it entirely to football on television, take this Thanksgiving to begin a new tradition within your family: Sharing a story.

    During dinner, or even after the huge rush of post-meal cleaning, set a theme for the stories, maybe "Thanksgiving Memory" would be appropriate, and have every person tell some short memory of a Thanksgiving past. For me, it might be the happy memories of coming home for the holiday when I was in college, or the first time I made a turkey (who knew one had to remove those bags of stuff inside the bird?), or my picky-eater five-year old's plate (one olive, one Mandarin orange, one green bean, a teaspoon of dressing, two square inches of turkey and a roll (to be followed by a huge piece of pumpkin pie). Others' memories might include the memory of a newly returned soldier, the last holiday of a beloved grandparent, or a newly-married into the family perspective. Everyone should be given a chance to share, even a child whose memory might be the meal she just ate. Share the memories, listen and interact so that the younger members at the feast will begin to understand the importance of oral history within a family.

    Begin, or continue, to make your family's Thanksgiving a time for passing along the family memories.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Thanksgiving Day

    Wednesday, Nov 14, 2012

    The Genealogy Center, like all agencies of the Allen County Public Library system, is closed all day Thursday, November 22, 2012, in honor of Thanksgiving Day. The rest of the week, we are adhering to our normal hours, so we will be open Monday through Wednesday, November 19 to 21 from 9 AM to 9 PM; Friday and Saturday, November 23 and 24, 9 AM to 6 PM, and Sunday, November 25, 12 Noon to 5 PM.

    Take the opportunity this Thanksgiving to visit with family. Then listen and record a story or two from older relatives, or share memories with younger ones. You can be the key to preserving your family's oral tradition.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Anticipation....

    Saturday, Nov 10, 2012

    by Dawne

    The Allen County Public Library is excited to be a local co-host along with the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana for the 2013 Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference next August! Conference lecture sessions will take place at the Grand Wayne Convention Center in downtown Fort Wayne Wednesday through Saturday, August 21-24, with Librarians’ Day on Tuesday, August 20, at ACPL.

    National-level genealogy speakers will present programs on a variety of topics relating to genealogy, from beginner sessions, to problem-solving and lectures based on researching in specific localities and records, to talks on the latest technology for genealogists. Various organizations will offer luncheon sessions, and several hands-on workshops also are planned.

    Special activities during the week of the conference will include an FGS evening at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, the local host event featuring food, entertainment and extended research hours at the library, a farewell brunch on Sunday, and additional extended research hours for The Genealogy Center throughout the week. More information about these will be announced as details become available.

    An exhibit hall featuring books, technology, society information, product and software demonstrations, genealogy products and family history-themed gifts is always a popular feature of the annual FGS conference. The exhibit hall at the 2013 conference will be no exception.

    Attendees may register for the entire four-day conference or for each day individually. You can keep up with developing conference details by subscribing to the conference blog, by visiting the FGS website and clicking on “Conferences,” and by “liking” the conference on Facebook. You can also follow the conference on Twitter@FGS Conference.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Yes, We Are Open Veteran's Day!

    Thursday, Nov 08, 2012

    Though the banks are closed, the Allen County Public Library and The Genealogy Center are open our regular research hours (9 AM to 9 PM) on Monday, November 12, 2012. Not only are we open, but are also offering our fifth annual Military Seminar that afternoon and evening in the Allen County Public Library Theater. Starting at 2 PM with The Genealogy Center's Curt Witcher speaking on "Military Records & Our Military Heritage at ACPL," followed by Laura Prescott, professional researcher, writer and speaker presenting on "Using an Outstanding Military Site: Fold3," at 3:30 PM and "Online Resources for the War of 1812" at 6:30 PM. The day promises to be filled with outstanding educational opportunities on military research. For more information, see the brochure. To register, send an email or call 260-421-1225.

    Celebrate your military ancestors by joining us in observance of Veteran's Day.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Making Your Family History Come Alive

    Saturday, Nov 03, 2012

    by Cynthia

    As family historians, we need to document more concerning our ancestors’ lives beyond the vital records. When we come across significant events that occurred in the area in which they lived, we should incorporate these events into the narrative of the family. A wartime or military experience or a description of what an immigrant ancestor faced are examples of this type of narrative, but other events also should be recorded.

    Recently, I located an obituary for Frank E. Bosley, my 2nd great grandfather, in which his children had written, “In the fire of 1881, he was burned out. At this time, there were four small children. To keep his wife and children from perishing in the heated atmosphere, he dipped water from a well and threw it about them.” I wondered how much time he had to get his family to safety; were they able to protect or save any of their valuables, such as the family Bible; did he rebuild on the property? At first, I thought the fire had only affected his farm, but as I reread the obituary later, I realized that the family had been victims of a significant event in the thumb area of Michigan, the Great Fire of 1881.

    Frank and his family were listed with his parents in the 1880 census for Clinton County, New York, but arrived in Michigan later in the year, settling in Elmwood Township, Tuscola County. During the fire in September, Frank was trying to protect his four young daughters, ranging from 18 months to almost seven years old, and his wife, Eliza, who was pregnant with their first son, Frank. The fire lasted only two to four hours, but the property of more than three thousand families was destroyed, leaving 15,000 people homeless and in need of public aid, which averaged $746 per family. I learned that yes, Frank did rebuild in Elmwood Township. Since the information about the fire was in Frank’s obituary, I wonder if the two oldest daughters remembered or if their parents had talked about how close they came to losing their lives. I searched for more information and found that the Clarke Historical Library has manuscripts about the fire, and I hope to visit and read them someday, and perhaps learn more about the terrifying experience that my family survived in 1881.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center