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  • 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

  • Who Will Write My Story?

    Tuesday, Jul 10, 2012

    by Melissa

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

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Controlling Genealogy Clutter

    Friday, Jul 06, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Celebrate through Contribution

    Tuesday, Jul 03, 2012

    by Delia

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Learning from Personal Research Stories: Forming a Bond

    Friday, Jun 29, 2012

    by John

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

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

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • 4th of July

    Monday, Jun 25, 2012

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Learning from Personal Research Stories: Verify What You Know

    Saturday, Jun 23, 2012

    by Delia

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Learning from Personal Research Stories: History in Perspective

    Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012

    by Melissa

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

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

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center