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  • The Genealogy Center's Surname File database

    Tuesday, Sep 04, 2012

    by Cynthia

    One of the free databases available from The Genealogy Center is the Genealogy Center Surname File, a compilation of researchers who have registered their contact information and the surnames they are researching. This database, created in 1998 and updated quarterly, is a great way to find others who are searching the same surname.

    To access the database from our web page, you will select the "Databases" tab, scroll down to "Free Databases" and select "Genealogy Center Surname File." At the next screen, begin your surname search.  Some options for your search are:

    • Fuzzy - the name may appear as part of another name.  Example - Smith, Smithfield, Arrowsmith
    • Exact - no changes (search only this spelling)
    • Soundex - will search for variants. Example, looking for Smith - Smith, Smythe, Schmidt, etc.

    Save time, start collaborating, share resources, and meet new cousins with the Genealogy Center Surname File.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Free Databases for Adams County, Indiana

    Thursday, Aug 30, 2012

    by Delia

    New databases have been added to the free material available through The Genealogy Center's Free Databases for Adams County, Indiana. Located directory south of Allen County and along the Ohio border, Adams County has a rich history, with many families that have lived there for generations.

    The first two databases are transcribed programs of the 1912 Common School Commencement and the 1938 Eighth Grade Commencement, which between the two, include more than 380 graduates' names. Additionally, forty-five cemeteries in Adams County have been transcribed, adding thousands of names to those that can be searched by cemetery. To browse specific cemeteries or the commencement programs, select Indiana resources from the Free Databases section of the Center's website. Adams will be listed alphabetically, and one may search specific cemeteries or the commencement programs. To search all of these databases at once, use The Genealogy Center's Federated Search. Type a surname into the "Search our Free databases" box, which is just below Begin Your Discovery on The Genealogy Center's home page.

    Also added is group photo of Company B, 160th Indiana Infantry during the Civil War. Company B was raised in Adams County. The soldiers are not, however identified by name, but the image of these young men, preparing to march to war, is impressive.

    Take a little time today to browse these and the other great free databases available through The Genealogy Center.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Hendricks County, Indiana Databases

    Monday, Aug 27, 2012

    by Dawne

    If you have not checked the Free Databases area of The Genealogy Center’s website recently, perhaps you should! Among a number of new additions to the website are four Hendricks County, Indiana, databases that include names going back as far as 1847 and coming forward as far as 1975. From oldest material to newest, they are:

    • Voters, August 1847
    • Index to Census, 1940
    • Farm Directory, 1958
    • Divorces, 1953-1975

    The database of Hendricks County voters from 1847 includes name and township of residence for each voter. The 1940 census database is an everyname index and features fields for name, age, birthplace, township, incorporated place, enumeration district and sheet. The 1958 farm directory database is from A Farm Directory for Hendricks County (Princeton, Ind.: n.p., 1958). Information in this resource is name, township of residence, address and remarks, such as whether the individual was a property owner or a tenant. Finally, the database of divorce cases for 1953 to 1975 includes name of the plaintiff, the spouse, the date filed and remarks, such as change of venue or if the action was a legal separation. It also includes the case number so that researchers may follow up in the court records for more information.

    The addition of these four resources brings the total number of Hendricks County databases on The Genealogy Center’s website to twenty-three. To locate them, position your cursor over the word “databases” in the dark blue horizontal band across the top of The Genealogy Center’s homepage. Move your cursor to “free databases,” then click on “Indiana Resources.” After General and Statewide Resources, available databases for the individual counties are listed alphabetically by county.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Detour Over! Rush On Down!

    Sunday, Aug 26, 2012

    The traffic detour that we warned you about in March, which closed part of Clinton Street (U.S. 27) into downtown Fort Wayne from the north, and created a two-way section on its companion street, Spy Run Boulevard, is now over. Although there will be occasional lane closures to complete work on cross streets, travel into downtown Fort Wayne will be much faster. Coming from the north, Clinton Street becomes a one-way south-bound street just north of State Boulevard. Visitors to The Genealogy Center should turn right at Washington Boulevard, and travel west four blocks to the Allen County Public Library. To leave downtown Fort Wayne, go to Lafayette Street, which becomes Spy Run Boulevard as it crosses the river. Confused? Maybe the map below will help, but we wanted to let everyone know that getting here just go ta bit easier.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • ...And the Last Name Might Be First

    Friday, Aug 24, 2012

    by Delia

    While assisting customers here in The Genealogy Center, I have run across yet another "name" problem. Oh, we all know about names being mis-spelled (I grew up having to correct the spelling and pronunciation of both my first and last names on a regular basis), and Melissa recently discussed nicknames, but only once before had I run into the transposing of first and last names until the last month or so when I've seen it several times

    This is primarily an indexing error, and occurs when someone has a first name that may have been a last name at one time, or a last name that is used commonly as a first name. You may be searching for "Moses Thomas," but the indexer has it as "Moses, Thomas." Or you may run across a "Beverly James" in your research who might be indexed as "Beverly, James." Of course, "Beverly James" could be a man or a woman, too. I have also seen this error with names that are totally unfamiliar to the culture of the person doing the indexing, for example, in more unusual Hispanic names.

    So if you are searching for an unusual name, or a name consisting of names which could be first names or surnames, try transposing them. You may know your ancestor's name, but the indexer may not.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Labor Day!

    Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012

    The Genealogy Center, along with the Allen County Public Library, will be closed Monday, September 3rd, in observance of Labor Day.

    And starting Sunday, September 9, 2012, The Genealogy Center will be open Sundays, noon to 5 PM, through the winter months. Take advantage of the extra five hours research time and make a weekend genealogy trip!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Beginner's Guide to Vital Records

    Saturday, Aug 18, 2012

    The Genealogy Center's summer series, Tree Talks, continues on Saturday, August 25, 2012 with "Beginner's Guide to Vital Records." Vital records are the Holy Grail of genealogical records, definitively providing a legal document that records a date of birth and parents, marriage date and place, or evidence of a death, perhaps providing parents or cause of death. However, birth and death records were not commonly recorded until the 20th Century, and even the availability of marriage records depend on the locale and culture. This class will explain what can be found in a vital record, and what other sources may be used when the official record is missing. Tree Talks classes are 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in Meeting Room A. For more information, see the Tree Talks brochure. Please register for this free class by calling 260-421-1225 or send an email to Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • War of 1812 Artifacts

    Thursday, Aug 16, 2012

    by Delia

    In addition to the War of 1812 display, we also now have several display cases of artifacts and reproductions owned by members of Historic Fort Wayne, Inc.

    Included in this amazing display are a powder keg, a powder carry keg, and a powder horn with scrimshaw markings, which a sailor may have personalized for himself. The beautiful brass officer's telescope and the sailor's rumlet were captured by American Captain Allenson from the privateer L'Activ. A rumlet was a personal item used to carry a sailor's daily ration of rum, a vital staple of naval life at the time.

    The bar shot, expanding bar shot and chain shot are also original. These items were loaded into a cannon and fired at an opposing ship's sails and rigging. More recognizable is the twelve pound cannon ball, which provided danger by itself, or from the splinters exploding from the hit.

    The actual weapons are authentic reproductions, constructed exactly as they were in the early part of the 19th Century. The brass barreled blunderbuss has a flared muzzle while allowed a sailor to load it more efficiently. Also on display is a brass barreled "Officer's Boarding Pistol." At this time, brass made for the best weapons for naval personnel as brass was resistant to moisture and sea salt. Along with these weapons are original ball and shot molds, as well as a flash hole pick and wisk. Weaponry was a complicated process in 1812.

    So make a trip down to The Genealogy Center soon to view these remarkable items soon.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Documenting Photographs

    Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012

    by John

    The use of historical photographs is a key component of genealogical research. My "favorite" ancestral photo is always the next new one that I find. The growth of the Internet and the networking possibilities of websites like Ancestry make the possibility of sharing photographs easier than ever. As careful researchers, however, we still need to be careful about accepting such images as being who they say they are. It is all too easy to claim that an old photograph is that of "so-and-so" without taking the time to examine all of the clues and tracing its provenance in making an accurate assessment. "Provenance" is an archival term that refers to the line of ownership of an object. If someone claims that an image is of a particular person, the first question that a researcher should ask is, "How do you know?" If the photo was passed down in a particular line of a family, that information can be important in terms of verifying its accuracy. Is the original photograph labeled, and is the label in an old, 19th century handwriting or in a more modern hand? Consider other clues in the photo. Is there, for example, a photographer's label? This information would help date and place the photograph, but regrettably, that information is often not included in digital images. Look also very carefully at the style of clothing and hair in order to determine if they are right for the time period of the person and age in question. I am a big fan of the work of photography expert Maureen Taylor and highly recommend her many books, including Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs. Finally, look carefully at resemblances in a questionable photo to those of known relatives. Taking these easy steps can make the hobby of ancestral photograph collecting even more rewarding.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Bringing in the Next Generation

    Saturday, Aug 11, 2012

    by Delia

    We as family historians really, really want to have children who will follow in our footsteps and take up the quest to discover more about our ancestors. We want to instill in them our own keen interest. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen all that often. As our children become teens and grow into adults, they think that dad/grandma/Uncle Ed (whoever it is in the family) has "already done all that," and there's no need to bother. Or maybe they are just too busy with sports or music or gaming to spend the time and effort to become skilled in the search.

    Now, as an avid genealogist and staff member of The Genealogy Center, I might say "No, we must force them into continuing the search because genealogy is vital to the understanding and knowledge of our place in history." But, of course, as a parent I know that I would never have forced an interest onto my daughter, even if she had let me. A love of family history and the quest to continue provide the motivation for a genealogist. I was satisfied that she would listen to, and remember, select tales and facts. Eventually, she may take up the task, or her children might. 

    It's important, however, that we don't bombard our children and other relatives with facts and long, involved stories. I had an aunt that did that, and it interested me not at all. According to her, our relatives were very important in their communities, and we were descended from well-known people of the same surname. I'm not sure why I doubted her as a child. Maybe it was the fact that her stories changed every time she told them. I do know that as I began to do genealogical research, disproving her tales was one of my greatest pleasures.

    I dropped mentions of our ancestors into conversations with my daughter, letting her express an interest before I continued. And I never made our ancestors seem to be more than they were: teachers, farmers, and saddle and harness makers. I wish I had had a few more rogues though. There's nothing better for catching the interest of a child than scandal, gruesome death and murder -- several generations removed.

    So next time you're getting together with your children, grandchildren or other family members, think of a simple tale to share. Let your living relatives know your dead ones as people, not as facts and dates. Eventually, your listeners may ask for more, or join you in the search.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • I Found James Dean, or Search Until You Achieve Success

    Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012

    by Dawne

    I found James Dean on the 1940 census the other day. He was a 9-year-old living in Santa Monica, California, with his parents – not yet the handsome bad boy of the silver screen that he would become.

    I tried to find James back in April when the 1940 census was first released. His biography on told me that he was born in 1931, and provided his parents’ names. The difficulty was that his mother died when he was nine years old – just about 1940, apparently – and he then moved from Santa Monica back to his native Indiana to live with an aunt and uncle. I didn’t know in which state he was living when the census was taken, and the indexes had not yet been completed. But I had heard my colleague Delia Bourne’s lecture on locating people in the 1940 census and was hopeful.

    First I located James’s aunt and uncle, Ortense and Marcus Winslow, in Fairmount, Indiana. But James was not in their household. From a biographical sketch, I had a fairly specific description of where the Deans lived in Santa Monica, although not the exact address. Next, I tackled the step-by-step instructions on the National Archives website to browse for the family in California. To make this long story short, I was not successful. I searched through several enumeration districts in the Santa Monica area without finding James Dean.

    Fortunately, both Indiana and California are now indexed at Ancestry, and locating James Dean was as easy as typing in his information and clicking on “Search.” I used Ancestry, where currently 38 states and territories are indexed, but another indexing project, the 1940 Census Community Project, has its indexed states available for searching at Archives' 1940 Census, and at FamilySearch's 1940 Federal Census. The Archives site gives visitors the option to sign up to receive notifications when new states become searchable, and the FamilySearch site has a map showing the progress on the remaining unindexed states.

    I was not successful in locating James Dean last April before the 1940 census was indexed for California, but I was successful in locating both of my sets of grandparents and all but one of my great-grandparents – so don’t despair if the state you need is not yet indexed. Using resources such as those available at the National Archives website, the 1930-1940 enumeration district calculator, and city directories to pinpoint addresses and cross streets can work in most cases. And if you are not successful immediately, it will be only a short while before all states are searchable on the 1940 census.


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • War of 1812 Display

    Saturday, Aug 04, 2012

    by John

    As our nation observes the bicentennial of the War of 1812, The Genealogy Center is pleased to host a new exhibit: "The War of 1812: A Nation Forged by War." It comes to us by way of Historic Fort Wayne, Inc., the group that manages our local reconstructed 1816-era fort, and it was originally designed by the official bicentennial committee of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The display contains six full-color panels containing photographic reproductions of maps, paintings, and artifacts. Beginning with "The Steps to War," they trace various aspects of the war featuring the above-three branches of service and the role each played in the war. It concludes with a panel about the signing of the Treaty of Ghent and a replica of an early draft of "The Star Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key. While Army engagements are noticeably missing and there is little information about the western theater where Fort Wayne played a role, the display is well worth seeing for the paintings, some of which are quite stunning. QR codes on each panel allow users to access additional information, as does the website. Look for the display all this month in the gallery area of the Genealogy Center.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • 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 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"

    After lunch on your own, the seminar will continue with "Alabama Military Records on," "Future Alabama Records on," 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

    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, 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