Monday, March 31, 2014

403. Various Items To Wrap Up March

1.      I just received the latest copy of Archives Current, the newsletter of the Friends of the Archives, and I noted a couple of items: First, I was sad to see that the Wishard Hospital School of Nursing Museum closed in January. I visited there a couple of times a while back and was impressed. They had several displays of period hospital wards and lots of interesting items of medicine from days of yore.
        Evidently, the physical materials--beds, machines, small devices, etc.—were distributed elsewhere (they didn’t say where), but the records, yearbooks, scrapbooks, and photographs were sent to the State Archives. The Archives staff is currently processing them, and they presumably will be available for research at some point.
       Second, the recent winter weather was rough on the Archives. The State Records Center and the Vault were evacuated for a period this February due to snow weight. And that old story, water was dripping into the Records Center. They were concerned that the roof would collapse—and haven’t we been harping on that lo these many years.

2.     Hopefully, by next month, we will be able to do some archaeology at the Parker-Wilson Cemetery in Eagle Creek Park. Old Man Winter slammed the door on us last fall, just after we did the probing and fragment marking. This is a GSMC project, so keep checking the website for the next few weeks, and we shall see. I hope we can find at least one stone!

3.    I’m taking a week off next month to visit with friends in Philadelphia and New York. One of the places on my list to visit is Camp Security in York County, Pennsylvania. The Camp was for POW’s during the Revolutionary War. Both Burgoyne’s and Cornwallis’ surrendered armies spent some time there. One of my Rev War ancestors, Henry Darrah,  was a guard as part of the York County Militia, and I want to see what’s there now. Supposedly they are doing an archaeology dig to scope out the site. That might be fun to watch.

4.     Our maple tree is budding out and a few flowers are poking out of the ground around our house. I have high hopes that April will be good for weather and for genealogy. Good fortune to you as you till your ancestral garden. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

402. County Societies Crush Ancestry Locally

I suspect that many members of local county societies look at Ancestry and FamilySearch and listen to their bragging about their billion-record totals and get really depressed about their own efforts. I, personally, don’t think county societies need to hang their heads.
            Let’s look at those numbers rationally: For one thing those billion records are for humans in the entire world, hardly any of whom you are related to, and they are for thousands of locations, almost none of which your folks ever lived in. When you bring those totals down to the local level where we all do live, the big boys don’t come off so well.
            I suspect that most genealogists are like me and my cohorts and seriously research in only a dozen or so counties. How many counties are there in the U.S., anyway—maybe around 3000? When you divide Ancestry’s U.S. records totals by 3000, each location goes way down.
            And did you notice that they pad their totals with modern things like phone books and such? I hardly ever research anyone who had a telephone. And the census records they play up—really, one page every ten years? And those census records from 1790 to 1840—try finding anything else from those fifty years!
            Most of my folks lived in small villages in rural counties with a population probably in the low hundreds, and Ancestry really looks bad in those places. And that is where the local county societies shine.
            The record types that county societies are working on—like school records, church records, lodges, probates, funeral homes, and such, are nearly non-existent on Ancestry and FamilySearch and all the other big boys. And let’s face it again, down in those places are where people really lived.
            A data file of a hundred or so names in a small rural county is a large percentage of the existing population. Add a few more of those locally-created research resources, and you cover about everyone in town and farm. If you add together all the files and names created by our local county societies in those 3000 counties, you will have billion-record totals, too.
            So, folks, to all of you toiling in some small office to extract some interesting little bunch of records, keep up the good work. Ancestry should have it so good!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

401. Hancock County Cemeteries In Eastman Newsletter

   Dick Eastman ran the following article on his newsletter page today. I noticed that it's from an Evansville newspaper. Why can't the Indianapolis Star do good local articles like this? The world wonders...

Group Works to Preserve 92 Indiana Pioneer Cemeteries

Listen with webReader
Hancock County Cemetery Board President Nancy Leach and a small group of historians, preservationists and genealogists - eight of them on a good day - labor to push back time in the "never-ending job" of trying to maintain and preserve Indiana's pioneer cemeteries.
In her book, "Hancock County, Indiana Tombstone Inscriptions: One Hundred Years 1833-1933," Hancock County genealogist Sue Baker notes that many pioneer travelers on their way west decided to make Hancock County home after burying a family member here rather than continue on and leave their loved ones behind.
Over time, family and church plots were developed in what are now dense tree stands, open fields, creek sides, culverts and round tops and housing developments.
You can read more in an article by Jim Mayfield in the Evansville Courier & Press web site at

Monday, March 24, 2014

400. Indiana Memory Project Is Growing

   The Indiana State Library's Indiana Memory Project, only five years old, is growing by leaps and bounds. If you are free this Friday afternoon, stop by the Library and let them clue you in on all the features.