Thursday, December 31, 2009

Those Cincinnati Ancestors ...

Good news for those looking for Cincinnati ancestors! And we know we have lots of connections to that Ohio city where German immigrants spent some time before coming to Jackson County and where other folks went to get married or for other activities that sometimes led to the record books.

The Hamilton County Probate Court of Judge James Cissel has made archived records -- more than a million of them -- from 1791 through 1994 available online at through a link in red about halfway down the page. Give it a try.

The archive search provides "online access to handwritten and typed records that were previously kept in bound volumes." It includes estates, wills, trusts, guardianships, marriages, minister's licenses, birth records, registrations and corrections, death records, naturalizations, record book entries and physician certificates. The records vary widely by time period.

Because of the strong connection with Cincinnati, the Seymour Library also has a selection of indexes and finding aids for Hamilton County records. It's great to have this new addition to those indexes and to the materials already available online.

Classes & Genealogists' Days Out

Let's get right into a new year and a new decade of genealogical and local history research!

We're making Thursdays a "day out" for genealogy researchers to leave other pursuits behind and regularly dedicate some time to their labor of love. It beats dabbling with dusting, dishes and diverse household activities any day. (Be sure to let us know if you'd like to join the activities but can't during the day.)

Participants are invited to come search for an hour or stay all day. Some of the Thursdays also will feature classes on using various genealogy tools. You can come just to research or you can take time out for the classes as well.

The first Thursday, January 7, includes, for those new to the prusuit, orientation to the library materials that can help with your research. This includes "how to" books that can be checked out, as well as books, microfilm, periodicals and other items for use in the library. You may also meet fellow researchers with whom you can learn and exchange knowledge.

You can, of course, visit the library for research any time it's open! And don't forget that materials outside the local history collection can help.

Additional upcoming Thursdays also will include 10 o'clock meetings in the library computer classroom:

January 14 -- Introduction to searching Heritage Quest Online (HQO) and Ancestry Library Edition (ALE). Some of the tricks for finding elusive ancestors will be demonstrated along with the basics of using the two databases. We'll also take a look at the various kinds of sources and resources included.

JCPL cardholders can access HQO from their home computers through the library website. Anyone visiting the Seymour Library or the Crothersville or Medora libraries also can access ALE without charge, even if their home libraries are elsewhere.

Registration (by calling 522-3412 x243) is appreciated to help us plan for materials and computer space. Drop-ins are welcome on a space-available basis.

January 21 -- GenTalk, the popular discussion group, will continue with a theme this time on how genealogical periodicals (aka magazines) can help with research. They may not have your ancestor's name, but they may provide clues on how to go about finding an ancestor. Come and tell us about your favorite use of periodicals or just come and listen, if that's more your style.

The library subscribes to several genealogy and history periodicals, including Genealogy Online, the publications of the Indiana and National Genealogical Societies and the Jackson County History Center, THG Connections from the Indiana Historical Society, and the Indiana Magazine of History. The discussion may also include online publications such as blogs or full-text articles.

No reservations are needed for this discussion group.

January 28 -- Researching other (mostly free) databases. This session will review the online resources for searching for ancestors beyond the confines of HQO and ALE. Learn how using all the relevant databases in concert can expand the reach of your research. Some of the databases are "clickable" from the library's local history page: and the library pages linked from it.

Dress and the classes are casual so plan to join us and make Thursdays your Genealogist's Days Out!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

November-December Programs

Here's a list of genealogy and local history programs for November and December at the Seymour library. Hope you can join us for some or all of them.

What To Do When It's Not online
Thursday, Nov. 5, 10 am
Location: Seymour Classroom
Limit 9
Registration preferred by Nov. 2

Thursday, Dec. 10, 10 am
Location: Seymour Classroom
Limit 9
Registration preferred by Dec. 4

Read up on the topic of the month in books and online, join the discussion and/or ask questions.
Saturdays, 10 am
November 14: The Grands Were "just farmers" - or were they? Avocations & Memberships.
December 12: More on Migration: Where Did They Go After They Came Ashore?

Another Look at Jackson County in the 1860s
Presenter: Mark Boardman, "The Man Behind the Mask"
Saturday, November 14, 2 pm
Seymour Library Meeting Room
Reservations Requested
Mark Boardman, who has been researching the "old west" and its outlaws for years, will discuss the Reno Gang. Mark is "the man behind the mask" on the Scarlet Mask website and publishes on True West magazine.

at the Bartholomew County Public Library, Columbus.
The Bartholomew County Genealogical Society invites those interested in family research to attend a free special program from 10 am until 3 pm Saturday, November 21, at the public library in Columbus.

Indiana's German-American Heritage will be addressed by Dr. Giles Hoyt. Focusing on Bartholomew County, Dr. Hoyt will describe the origins of Indiana's German-American population, their migration to Indiana, and German-American life in the state. He also will offer a list of internet resources. Dr. Hoyt is Professor Emeritus of German and Philanthropic Studies and Director-Emeritus of the Max Kade German American Center, Indiana-Purdue University, Indianapolis. An internationally recognized scholar in German studies, Dr. Hoyt is well known in the Indiana German community and has been instrumental in saving German-American cultural treasures in Indiana.

Charlotte Sellers, JCPL Local History Specialist and appointed Jackson County Historian and Genealogist, will offer "An Intrepid Researcher's Tips for Finding Stuff in Libraries, Archives, and Courthouses."

"Who's Your Mama?" is the title of the talk to be given by Jane Johnson, past president of the Bartholomew County Genealogical Society and currently editor of its quarterly, Ancestors.

Help on individual genealogical projects will be provided by Donna Kuhlman, genealogist and current vice president of the BCGS. She has done extensive research on Bartholomew County families.

Additional information is available from the BCGS at or by calling 812-372-9274. Lunch will be available for a $3 donation.

Charlotte Sellers

Saturday, August 22, 2009

If Peter Platter Pictured Places ...

Peter Platter made photographs in Seymour and vicinity for most of the years between 1861 and his death in 1919 at age 93. In more than 50 years in the business, he must have made many thousands of photographs. His obituary says he worked in all the mediums of his lifetime, from daguerreotypes to "modern" prints of the day. So ...

If Peter Platter pictured plenty of places, where are the pictures of places Peter Platter pictured?

A few show up in the newspapers of the years just before his death. A few have survived in the hands of various collections, including those at the library and those loaned to the library for its digital collection. That accounts for only a few dozen photos and none of the negatives.

Also making photographs during and after Peter Platter's lifetime were his son, Herbert, and a grandson. The grandson, Frank Platter, died in 1949 and hadn't been active in the studio since 1945. A 1950 city directory still lists Platter Studio, and the next directory lists another photographer a block further west on Second Street.

What I really would like to see and make copies from are photos of some of the businesses and street scenes Peter Platter made in his early years. In particular I would like to see the southeast corner of the Chestnut street intersection with Third Street (once Branch Street west of Chestnut) in the 1870s. The US government made photographs as space was being cleared for the new post office in the mid-1910s but surely someone, if not Mr. Platter, made older photos of that intersection. Surely they are not all gone ...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

More Programs This Fall

Check more programs we have planned this fall at the Seymour Library.

Amy Johnson, senior archaeologist and outreach coordinator with the Archaeology Section of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, will talk about the native population of pre-Jackson County days at 2 pm Saturday, September 19. With degrees in anthropology from Ball State, her main research interests are in prehistoric archaeology and historic cemeteries along with public education about archaeological resources and cultural resources laws.

Wesley Wilson, DePauw University archivist, will talk about using archives for research as well as reviewing Indiana and Jackson County materials and railroad documents in the archives at Greencastle at 6:30 pm Thursday, October 22. Learn more about the DePauw archives and the United Methodist Archives in particular.

Mark Boardman, who has been researching the "old west" and its outlaws for years, will discuss the Reno Gang at 2 pm Saturday, November 14. Mark is "the man behind the mask" on the Scarlet Mask website and publishes on True West magazine.

Hope you can join us! Don't forget to mark your calendar.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Genealogy Discussion: Part of the Fall Line-up

Early this summer a group of us headed to the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne for a couple of days of intensive ancestor hunting. This came after a series of classes at the Seymour Library to prepare for the trip.

Did any of us feel completely prepared even after all the planning? Probably not. The things we all do feel, I believe, are that we wished we had been able to do more advance work - and that we were glad we made the trip.

The ACPL Genealogy Center has one of the largest (some say the largest and I certainly wouldn't argue!) genealogy and local history collections in the world. I've visited there a lot of years, through three or four incarnations of the physical location, each better than the previous. I've long admired the phrase uttered frequently by the Genealogy Center's manager, Curt Witcher: "Nobody leaves with nothing."

I don't miss the lines at the card catalogs and the call slips to request books from my first visit during a national genealogy conference - but I wouldn't have missed that conference for anything. It was one of the first of a series of conferences and workshops I've attended at both state and national level over the years. I find the conferences are great for learning how to do genealogy, for meeting others passionate about ancestor hunting, and for renewing enthusiasm for pursuing history.

The open stacks in the collections at Fort Wayne are amazing - and yes, all the choices a bit overwhelming. What should I look at first? Why didn't I think of this or that as I looked at the online catalog and the PERSI index to periodicals to put together my advance plan?

The group that came back from Fort Wayne this summer asked if we could have genealogy discussions to delve deeper into some areas of research -- and the answer is, of course we can.

The deal is that everyone who comes will have to help by reading a bit about the topic chosen for discussion and introduce themselves with some new tidbit they took away from their reading.

The plan is that everyone will learn something to help with their research and likely will help others at the same time. If we need to, we can revisit the topic at future discussion sessions to learn more. Beginners are welcome as are experienced researchers. Everyone can contribute and learn. I plan to have a bibliography available soon with book chapters and websites to help with the first topic.

Here is information on the first two sessions:
10 am Saturday, September 19
Using Maps To Track Ancestors' Migrations and Marriages
10 am Saturday, October 17
Digging Into Passenger and Immigration Resources

No registration is necessary. Just come prepared with a tidbit (doesn't have to be long and involved) to get started and then help us choose topics for future sessions. Don't forget to put the time and dates on your calendar! See you there!

Here's Part of the Fall Line-up ...

Ah, the katy-dids have been at chorus practice for a month. The fall season can't be far away!

Check out the library's new fall classes and programs line-up. All are free! You spend only time to start your genealogy or get back to working on it. You'll want to check the Gen-Talk discussion group as well. These sessions deal not just with Jackson County but with ancestors anywhere in the United States and sometimes abroad.

The genealogy and family history classes this fall will ask you to think like a detective as you pursue your ancestors. Two identical series of classes give you a choice of time slots - Tuesday evenings or Thursday mornings.

The first class in either series will be in the meeting room at the Seymour Library. Plan to come at either 6:30 pm Tuesday, September 15, or 10 am Thursday, September 17. We'll try to define genealogy and family history and explore investigation strategies for basic name, date and place - and beyond. We'll learn to recognize, organize and follow clues.

We'll look at hidden sources in the library's local history area and track down sources in the rest of the library's non-fiction collection. Then we'll each pick a family line to trace as each participant starts an investigation on their own before the series continues the following week.

Then, as classes move to the library's computer classroom, we'll learn to use tools to help with our searches and to think about various ways of searching while doing hands-on searches for our own lines.

Sign up today and put the classes on your calendar! Add your name to the list at the library by calling 812-522-3412 ext 243.

Genealogy/Family History Mystery Series: You Be The Detective

Seymour Library Meeting Room
6:30 pm Tuesday, September 15, or 10 am Thursday, September 17
Shaping Pieces of the Puzzle

Seymour Library Computer Classroom
Limit 9 in each series. Registration and basic computer skills required. Library card useful.
6:30 pm September 22 or 10 am September 24
Taming Tools of the Trade
6:30 pm October 6 or 10 am October 8
Earning Your Gold Shield in Genealogy
6:30 pm October 20 or 10 am October 15
Following Clues, Fitting Pieces, Finding Your Man (and Maybe Woman)

Note that the Tuesday evening series skips October 13. No, I'm not superstitious - just have another meeting that evening. You might want to tag along and investigate the genealogy interest group of the new Jackson County History Center (merged genealogical and historical societies) at 7 pm in the genealogy library at Brownstown. Ask me if you need directions - or if you have questions about the series: or 812-522-3412 ext 240.

Friday, April 10, 2009


The library at last has received more books for research on families who came into Jackson County through Cincinnati. Late into the 19th Century some local families were traveling to Cincinnati for marriages and burials. I'm not sure about births.

In any case, the books available for use in the Local History area of the library are:
  • A Guide to Genealogical Resources in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio, 5th Edition
  • Hamilton County, Ohio, Guide to Recorder's Indexes and Documents, 1794-1988
  • Index to Selected Hamilton County, Ohio, Recorder's Books, 1801-1820
  • The WPA Guide to Cincinnati, 1788-1943
  • Hamilton County, Ohio, Index of Early Deed Books, 1804-1806 and 1814-1817
  • Restored Hamilton County, Ohio, Marriage Records Supplement, 1850-1884
  • Marriages Recorded in Hamilton County, Ohio, 1870-1884: Probate Court Original Marriage Licenses & Returns, Probate Court Restored Marriage Licenses & Returns, and Probate Court Catholic Marriage Banns
  • Hamilton County, Ohio, Burial Records, Volume 16, Walnut Hills (Originally German Protestant Cemetery) 1843-1993
  • Hamilton County, Ohio, Church Burial Records, 1850-1859 Hamilton County, Ohio, Church Burial Records, 1860-1869
  • Selected Hamilton County, Ohio, Church Baptism Records, Early-1859
  • Selected Hamilton County, Ohio, Church Baptism Records, 1860-1869

Let me know if you have questions about them -- or just come in and use them!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Even county officials learned a bit about work in other offices when they took time Tuesday, April 7, to talk to a group of researchers seeking to learn more about what's where in the Jackson County Courthouse at Brownstown.

The researchers visited the newly re-organized basement and attic record-storage areas that hold the history of individuals and of Jackson County. Talking with the visitors in the JCPl-sponsored visit were Treasurer Kathy Hohenstreiter, Assessor Bev Gaiter, Recorder Traci Hubbard, Auditor Debra Eggeman, and Clerk Sarah Benter.

As Sarah Benter and others pointed out, the number of records is growing and growing and growing. While some are expendable after a few years, many are important to the long-term orderly operation of the county -- tracking transfer of property and decisions in lawsuits, recording marriages and divorces, telling the tales of convicted criminals, and listing names and relationships for those fortunate enough to locate an ancestor who named offspring and collaterals in a will.

The basement storage areas have some new filing cabinets that make for more orderly access to more recent files and will get better as the Clerk reaches her goal of re-organizing to make more room. As makes sense, the most frequently used and most recent records are kept in the Clerk's office. Other office holders do the same and have some older records in various storage areas. All agree that records are fast filling available space.

A few of the clerk's less-lused books from the basement have been moved to the attic where confidential records of the court and the prosecuting attorney are kept. Those books of the clerk's office still are public records and can be access through advance arrangements.

But in a few years the space will be gone again and officials already need to be thinking about where more space will be made. Other records need to be moved from the current storage where they are exposed to heat, cold, humidity, and possible pests (and in some cases damage and theft) to safer storage.

It's up to those of us who want the records to survive in usable form to let the county commissioners and council members know that safekeeping of those records now needs the consideration that already and continually is given to paving roads, housing prisoners and dump trucks, and reviewing other matters over which they exercise home rule.

Does anyone have thoughts on how protecting those records may be accomplished in the environment that always will be competing with "more urgent" projects the commissioners consider more important?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Into Family Research!

New faces continue to arrive in the local history area at the Seymour Library these days. They deserve congratulations for using the end of winter to “spring” into their search for family roots.

They’ve committed the time to start or continue their research – and an increasing number of them have made time for some classes to look for additional research possibilities.

It’s exciting and infectious to watch these individuals make their discoveries! You can see the investments of time pay dividends that can be relied on for years to come – for the researchers and their families.

One of the best rewards from family and local history research is finding explanations for family and/or community tickles, traditions, and taboos. There’s a grain of truth in most stories. Sometimes research reveals the details – maybe not exactly as the story has been told – but still recognizable as the probable source of the tale.


Monday, March 16, 2009

From Little Drummer Boy to Old Pioneer

If you’ve used Heritage Quest Online (HQO), you know the rewards just waiting for you to find the right combination of names, dates and places for family or community history discoveries.

And you probably know that with your JCPL library card you can do that research at home, to use a cliché, in your “jammies” at 3 o’clock in the morning. (If you have any trouble getting logged on, give us a call at the library.)

A great find for me came from locating someone other than a relative (although that has happened as well) … and confirming the story of a Revolutionary War veteran buried in a deep woods about a mile south of the northwestern JC village of Kurtz.

The Owen Township Cemeteries book published in 1990 by the Jackson County Genealogical Society identifies John Edwards (1762 Wales-1836 Indiana) as a drummer in the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment. Information on the tiny Edwards Cemetery was compiled by Mary B. and Malcolm W. Buckner and Lucy C. Arthur in 1987 and updated by Ruth Fox in 1989.

By logging into HQO and going to the Revolutionary War database where I searched the surname Edwards and Pennsylvania, I found 15 pages – images of original documents held at the National Archives (NARA) – in view on my screen. The file includes the NARA file number that accompanies the information published by JCGS.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Orchard & Other Miscellaneous Records

Jackson County once supported many fruit orchards. At least two records, one at the courthouse in Brownstown and both on microfilm at the Seymour Library, may give some insight if your ancestor participated in such an operation.

The miscellaneous record at the courthouse, also on microfilm at the library, preserves agreements such as one made in December 1867 between Howard Cordell and Henry C. Dannettell. The record said Cordell agreed to clear and clean a “passel of land,” about 20 acres, for Dannettell before March 1, 1868, and to plant the “said piece of sand with good grafted … fruit trees in rows 20 feet apart.”

Cordell was to include 300 apple trees and fill leftover space with peach trees in addition to planting two rows of evergreens on the north side to protect the fruit trees from the wind. The owner would pay taxes, Cordell would help with pruning, and the men would share the fruit equally for 15 years.

Should the trees have been producing by 1870 and still producing as anticipated by 1880, it’s possible the agriculture censuses, also on microfilm at the library, would record the results of the harvest.

The information isn’t earth-shaking … but if it’s someone you are researching, these little tidbits would certainly add flesh to the barebones vital statistics.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Public Records Programs

More government records become available daily online, but local and family history researchers will continue for years to need records not that are unlikely to be online any time soon.

Whether you send a letter or email or plan to make a trip to a facility, you need to know what records may be available and where to start searching for them.

Two upcoming sessions will discuss finding and using public records. You are invited to sign up for one or both when you are in the Seymour Library or by calling 812-522-3412 ext. 243:

Public Records Research, Part 1:
10 am Tuesday, April 7 (Sign up by noon April 2)
Jackson County Courthouse in Brownstown

  • County officials will tell about records in their respective offices
  • Question and answer session on courthouse research
  • Lunch break
  • Courthouse tour

Public Records Research, Part 2:
2pm Thursday, April 9 (Sign up by noon April 7)
Jackson County Public Library, Seymour

  • State and federal facilities and records will be discussed
  • We will try to find answers to your questions


Join Us for Genealogy Chats!

Ever wondered who keeps the Jackson County GenWeb site up to date and growing? Since mid-2005 that has been Sheri Bush, born and raised in Jackson County, now a grandmother researching her own family lines for more than a dozen years.

Come meet Sheri and join us for a bit of genealogy chat at 2 pm Tuesday, March 24, or at 6 pm Thursday, April 2, or both times. Sheri will be talking about her labor of love on the website. She also will talk a bit about using old photographs in genealogy. We’ll all talk about the genealogy things on our minds – maybe share some ideas for breaking through brick walls or for finding the records we want or … well, you tell us what’s on your mind about genealogy.

We'll chat in the downstairs meeting room at the Seymour Library and maybe find a few refreshments to enjoy as we chat. Why not bring your generations chart or another piece of research for follow-up before or after the chat? You never know what you may find!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Courthouse Records on Microfilm @ JCPL-S

Have you ever wished for the courthouse to be open an evening each week or a Saturday for your research needs?

One of the best-kept secrets around is that the Jackson County Public Library at Seymour (JCPL-S), open 9-5 Saturdays and 1-5 Sundays in addition to evenings and weekdays, has some original records on microfilm.

During the 69.5 hours the library is open for your convenience, you can view microfilm of original images of Jackson County marriage records from 1816 to 1924, wills from 1818 to 1928, probate records from 1829 to 1919, deeds from 1816 to 1924, and deed indexes through 1966.

The microfilm also includes the Negro Register from the 1850s, naturalization records from 1852 to 1899, delayed birth records from 1941 to 1980, the apprentice record from 1884 to 1889, circuit court order books from 1816 to 1924, and one of my personal favorites, the earliest miscellaneous records.

In addition to the Jackson County records, JCPL-S has the Seymour and Brownstown newspapers, various indexes and census records, cemetery records and more on microfilm -- in addition to print and digital collections.

Besides viewing the records, you can print pages either as you find them or enhanced for greater readability, you can download images to a variety of portable digital devices, or you can email the images to your personal email account.

We'll take a closer look at some of these records in future posts. Meanwhile, stop by the library and see what you can find today!