printer icon Print this Page

This Website was paid for by - Auer Endowment -

Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center

Our Blog

Blog Search

Search our genealogy center's blog


Please select a category below

Meet Our Librarians Expand your search with our team.


Make a Donation You can help with the growth of the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center

Make a Donation
  • 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

  • Learning from Personal Research Stories: Family Tales

    Saturday, Jun 16, 2012

    by Delia

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

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our Research Stories

    Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012

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

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • How to Use The Genealogy Center

    Sunday, Jun 10, 2012

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Hitting the Genealogy Road

    Wednesday, Jun 06, 2012

    by Delia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Try a New Source

    Saturday, Jun 02, 2012

    by Melissa

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Yes, You CAN See Some of Our Books Online

    Tuesday, May 29, 2012

    by Delia

    A regular question we have about our more-than-400,000 volumes is "Can I view that online?" Well, usually not. But two of our partners are making a large portion of our public domain material (that is, out of copyright) available digitally. You can find links to our partners, Internet Archive and Family History Archives, from The Genealogy Center homepage. Our catalogers are working to create links from our catalog to every digitized item, but other institutions are also contributing to the effort, so take the time to search the sites' own collections.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our Military Heritage Continues to Grow!

    Friday, May 25, 2012

    by Delia

    There are now more than 60,000 searchable records on The Genealogy Center's Our Military Heritage page. Currently included are digitized images from the book Roll and Journal of Connecticut Service in Queen Anne's War, 1710-1711, a digitized image of the poster Our Gallant Volunteers: 28th Light Battery Indiana Volunteers, and a family's collection of World War II Letters & Papers of Jack Raymond Oxley. The material that has been donated and digitized for this collection represent all aspects of military service involving the United States. Families have the assurance that their ancestors' service will not be forgotten.

    Take a few minutes to look through this wonderful database and, when you get time, send your own material to be added to Our Military Heritage.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Closed on Sundays During Summer

    Saturday, May 19, 2012

    Starting the Memorial Day weekend, The Genealogy Center, like the rest of the Allen County Public Library, is closed on Sundays for the summer. We will be open our regular summer hours ( 9 Am to 9 PM Mondays through Thursdays and 9 Am to 6 PM on Fridays and Saturdays). Sunday hours, Noon to 5 PM, will resume the weekend after Labor Day.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Memorial Day Closure

    Friday, May 18, 2012

    In honor of Memorial Day, The Genealogy Center will be closed Monday May 28th. We suggest you take the day to remember the men and women who have served this country. We will be open out regular hours, 9 AM to 9 PM, on Tuesday May 29th.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • My Conference Experience, Part 4

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

    by John

    Genealogical conferences are something that every researcher should experience at least once. They can be a great opportunity to learn new skills from professionals with a variety of expertise. The vendor hall can expose you to a variety of new books and software (and a fair warning, you may end up spending more than you had planned). You can meet many other genealogists with whom you can form networks and share experiences. And finally, you can get acquainted with the host city as a tourist, learning about its history and attractions and perhaps more about the idiosyncrasies of the record sources for that state. And if you are fortunate, conferences can also be a source of great amusement.

    I have been attending national conferences off and on since the 1980s, and I still have memories of these rich experiences, both with my co-workers and with other genealogists. One of my favorites was the National Genealogical Society Conference in Baltimore in 1993. I was working on several Maryland and Virginia families at the time, and the sessions gave me an opportunity to understand several new record sources which greatly aided my research. I remember, as well, being able to visit the fabulous Baltimore aquarium, take a boat ride out on Chesapeake Bay to see Fort McHenry, and later being able to take a day trip down to Mount Vernon with an Irish colleague, an authority on the eighteenth century, to explore Washington’s house (a first visit for him). At another conference in Richmond, Virginia, I learned a great deal about English common law as it applied to Virginia sources, and then went to the Virginia State Library to apply my new knowledge to the study of 18th century Virginia court records. At that same conference I recall taking in a lecture by the renowned historian, Shelby Foote, who, a short time earlier, had appeared on Ken Burns’ acclaimed Civil War documentary. On still other occasions I was privileged to meet some of the giants of the genealogy world, including the late Rabbi Malcolm Stern and the late Milton Rubincam. What a great opportunity it was to meet these gentlemen!

    As a genealogy librarian, I try to learn new things at conferences that help me in my work – to better understand not only my own research problems, but those of our patrons, by exploring areas that I know little about. They serve, in many ways, as professional training grounds. I hope to be able to be in Las Vegas for the NGS Conference in 2013, and I can assure you that whatever happens at this conference will not stay in Vegas.

    So what do you get out of genealogy conferences? In short, expect the unexpected, the serendipitous. In the end, you will be glad you went.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • My Conference Experience, Part 3

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    by Melissa

    A conference changed my life! But it wasn't a genealogy conference, instead it was the American Library Association Conference. As a graduate student, I attended the conference to interview for academic positions though I worked in a genealogy department of a public library. During the conference, I attended a discussion on a new genealogy database. During that hour, I heard conversations that inspired and motivated me. At one point, someone in the room asked my opinion on the subject and I found myself responding with examples and ideas. It was revelatory. I had been so determined to become an academic librarian, I had ignored the possibility of aligning my career path with my passion for genealogy. This was the defining moment for my career aspirations and it took place during a genealogy discussion at a professional conference.

    Fast forward several years, and conferences are still leaving their mark. It does not matter whether it is a local, state, regional, or national conference or if I'm a participant or attendee, I always walk away with something new. Conferences are fascinating to me because I enjoy instruction and learn some new technique, methodology, resource, or tidbit every time. As someone who is intrigued by social dynamics and since genealogy brings together so many people of varying backgrounds, it is interesting to also watch the dramatically different presentation styles of the lecturers. But the best part of genealogy conferences are the interactions with other attendees. Each of us has a shared interest in genealogy and related fields such as history, DNA, and technology. Our conversations can divert into so many other tangents, but it always begins with genealogy and that connection.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • My Conference Experience, Part 2

    Saturday, May 12, 2012

    by Cynthia

    I always enjoy going to genealogy conferences. They are a great way to meet new people and learn about additional resources and records which may help to tear down brick walls.
    When I first began my family history research, my grandmother stated that her grandfather, Frank Bosley, was born in New York, along the border of Quebec. Since that was such a large territory, I hadn't begun to check out this information. In August 2009, while I was at a conference in Virginia, I was talking to some people regarding research difficulties. I happened to mention where Frank was born and that the family was French Canadian. One of the attendees stated that I should check Clinton County, New York, that many French Canadians settled there.

    Within a few weeks after that conference, I received a letter from my mother's cousin and she mentioned that she found John Bosley in the 1850 New York Census in Clinton County, New York. I quickly reviewed that census and noticed that Frank's older brother was there, too. I found my first break on a brick wall that I thought would take forever to tear down. I ordered a microfilm from the Family History Center and may have found his baptismal records. This gentleman went by so many different names throughout his life and I believe that the Edward Bosley baptism could be Francis E. Bosley. I have made major breakthrough on this branch of my family tree and have went back about 5 to 7 ancestors through Frank's and his wife's families.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • My Conference Experience, Part 1

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

    by Delia

    I've had the opportunity to attend a number of genealogy conferences through the years, as an attendee and lecturer. And I have wonderful memories of each of them as I learned new research sources and techniques, and visiting cities like Seattle, Dallas and Richmond. But one conference that stands out was my first national conference. It wasn't so much its uniqueness compared with other genealogy conferences, but compared to other non-genealogy conferences.

    I had been to conferences concerning other fields before and, although I found them educational, attendees were clique-ish and often arrogant. If someone came alone, he or she stayed alone. If someone was new to the field or just new to that particular venue, that person was considered ignorant. It was not exactly an atmosphere to foster collaboration, encourage mentors, or mutual education.

    The first national conference I attended was in 1991, in Arlington, Virginia. The first day, I went out for lunch by myself. As I waited for a table, three people separately wandered up and stood behind me to wait. We started chatting about genealogy and ended up sharing a table, enjoying the company of like-minded researchers when we had each anticipated eating alone. And it wasn't an isolated incident as I chatted with many other people during the conference, and even talked with speakers who listened and provided specific advice to various attendees. The great thing about this and other genealogy conferences I have attended is each conference is filled with educational opportunities, and attended by intelligent and friendly people, willing to share techniques, advice and ideas to further others' research.

    Local, state and national conferences are a great opportunity to mingle with strangers with whom we have a lot in common. I encourage everyone to attend and join in a big, fun and educational party!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center