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
  • Drive to Save

    Sunday, Sep 30, 2012

    by Delia

    We all call It by a different name: jump drive; flash drive; stick drive; USB drive. It is a flash data storage device which is integrated with a Universal Serial Bus (USB). Not being all that techie myself, I would just describe it as one of those things that are about the size of my little finger (or smaller) that plugs into a computer to which I can download files with ancestral information and all types of images: photos of great-grandparents, census images from Ancestry, or a baptismal record image from FamilySearch. I photocopy less and less these days, instead putting the image on my flash drive (what I call it). The major benefit to downloading images is that I have an image that I can thoroughly examine. I can enlarge at will to examine that stray mark on the document and determine if it is a vital clue to my family history or just a smudge. I also generate less paper to juggle and file, and have my documents readily available at any computer.

    Flash drives come in various storage capacities, four gigabytes and up, and the price corresponds to the capacity. The Allen County Public Library's Circulation Department sells small flashdrives at the Check-out Desk as a service to those who need one, but they have a comparatively small capacity, so I would encourage all of our visitors to purchase a flash drive before visiting The Genealogy Center. You may use them in any of our computers, as long as they do not have any program (.exe) files on them.

    So remember to pack your jump/flash/stick/USB drive the next time you visit!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department Roster

    Friday, Sep 28, 2012

    by Melissa

    New to The Genealogy Center is the Indianapolis Fire Department Roster, located in the Indiana Resources section of the Free Databases. Jerry Hurley, a retired Indianapolis firefighter, compiled this roster from personnel and union files along with other sources. The database provides not only information on employment, awards and association activity, but also documents some birth and death dates. Each entry varies and the details can be limited or elaborate. An example of what can be found within this roster is the entry for Everett L. Jackson, who on 31 May 1945 "suffered a heart attack while fighting a fire set during a riot at Fort Benjamin Harrison. Two thousand men were being held in a prison compound at the fort for crimes they committed while serving in the Army. Buried Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana." If you are seeking a firefighter in the Indianapolis, Indiana area, search the Indianapolis Fire Department Roster.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family History Month

    Monday, Sep 24, 2012

    October is Family History Month and The Genealogy Center would like to invite you to celebrate! In honor of this month, the Center offers a genealogical event a day, which means you have 31 opportunities to learn or participate in a genealogical activity.

    Classes for the month will highlight researching genealogy in other departments of the Allen County library, cemetery research and symbolism, state and regional research, census, analyzing photographs, brick wall research, instructional sessions on some of our electronic databases, such as the Origins Network, Ancestry, and the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), and training on using some of the machinery in The Genealogy Center, as well as the return of our traditional Midnight Madness Extended Research Hours on Friday, October 26, offering the opportunity to do family history research until midnight.

    For detailed class descriptions, more information, and to register for individual sessions, see the Family History Month brochure or contact The Genealogy Center at 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Visit

    Saturday, Sep 22, 2012

    Anne Mitchell, of the Ask Ancestry Anne column for’s monthly member newsletter, will present "Searching Successfully to Reveal Your Ancestor's Story on" on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 from 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm in Meeting Room C. Anne will discuss search techniques to help researchers dig deeper into the website and locate ancestors.

    Call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info to make your reservation for this free class.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More Evangelical Messenger Obituaries

    Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012

    by Delia

    The index to obituaries for The Evangelical Messenger, the English-language, weekly denominational publication associated with the Evangelical Church, has been updated again. The index now covers 1848-1929 and contains 142,000 entries. Indexed by both the decedent and his or her spouse, the index provides the date and page number of the obituary. Since The Genealogy Center owns the newspaper on microfilm, copies of specific obituaries may be ordered by emailing Genealogy@ACPL.Info with the complete citation as found in the index. Cost is $2.50 per obituary, billed at the time of mailing. Your complete name and mailing address must be included with your request. Take some time and browse The Evangelical Messenger Index or one of our other free databases.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Fort Wayne Obituary Index, 1841-May 2012

    Saturday, Sep 15, 2012

    by Delia

    One of the most popular of The Genealogy Center's Free Databases is the Fort Wayne Obituary Index, 1841 - May 2012. It attracts not only current residents, but also descendants of the many people who have lived in this area in the past 160 years. We also offer a service that supplies photocopies of the obituaries by mail for a low cost of $2.50 per obituary. Many customers have used the index and this service in the past five years. However, we wanted everyone to know that we are also in a long-range project of corrections and additions to the database. For a variety of reasons, obituaries have been missed and citations have had errors over the past 70 years or so of this index, as the obituaries were cut out the newspapers and glued onto index cards for filing before an actual print index was created. Those print indexes were put into a database file in the 1990s, and again, some errors occurred.

    Part of the correction process consists of volunteers browsing the newspapers, day by day, seeking those obituaries that were missed and correcting errors as they are found. The other part starts with our customers who request an obituary. If the request if for a pre-1900 obituary, we search for the obituary and add the information to the database. Pre-1900 obituaries were originally indexed by date without indicating whether it was a death, funeral or obituary date and not noting which of the several dailies or weeklies in which the item appeared. If it is an error in the citation, we attempt to locate the correct obituary and update the database along with correcting other obituaries as we find them. Corrections and additions are available within a day or two of discovery.

    This is a great source, and if you've checked it before, check it again!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Expert to Speak!

    Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012

    Representatives of will be visiting The Genealogy Center the last week of September and have offered to provide a class to our customers! On Wednesday, September 26, 2012, Anne Mitchell will lecture on Searching Successfully to Reveal Your Ancestor's Story on, from 7 PM to 8 PM in Meeting Room C of the Main Library. It's not enough to find the records, one needs to know what to do with them. Ms. Mitchell will discuss search techniques to discover new records as well as methods that help you learn who your ancestors were.

    Free program. Call 260-421-1225 or send us an email to make your reservation.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Is It Plausible? Part 2

    Monday, Sep 10, 2012

    by Dawne

    Did a 14-year-old boy father a child? This was the question that two patrons in The Genealogy Department had in one day. The first instance, which was discussed in a previous blog entry, may have been a case of two people with the same name in the same geographic area being mistaken for one. In the second case, it seems very possible that the boy was the father of the child … but he wasn’t 14 years old at the time the child was born.

    The patron had an obituary stating that the father of her deceased female ancestor was a particular man with a rather uncommon first name – no one else of that name could be found in the area where the family lived. The obituary also gave the woman’s date of birth, which was in 1852. She had an obituary for the father, as well – or perhaps it was a picture of his cemetery marker – that said the father was born in 1838 or 1839. A 13- or 14-year-old father! But the woman’s obituary definitely stated that this man was her father. Part of the puzzle was that this woman, as a child in 1860, was not living in the man’s household. She was enumerated on the same page of the census in the household of another family with a different surname, however.

    The problem here was those nice, clear-cut dates of birth in the obituaries. It’s so tempting to accept those as gospel over a “circa” date estimated from the census or other records. But when the potential father’s age was examined on all available federal census schedules, it became clear that he probably was born in 1832 or 1833, rather than in 1838 or 1839. And his possible daughter probably was born about 1855, rather than 1852. So it is quite likely after all that this man, at the age of about 23, could have been her father.

    Something to keep in mind about death records, obituaries and cemetery markers is that the information for all of them was given by someone other than the subject, and the informant may not have known the facts. We cannot know (until 1940) who gave the information for the census enumerations, but if it was the person himself or his or her parent – someone in the position to know the facts firsthand – the data may be more likely to be correct. The census information about the ages of this potential father and daughter also was provided closer to the time of the events – their births – and sometimes that can add to its accuracy.

    Don’t be tripped up believing that a fact is correct because several different records have the same information, either. “But it must be right – it’s on the obituary and the death record and the tombstone!” Keep in mind that the information for those three particular kinds of records probably was contributed by the same individual, who may have been wrong! In the case of other kinds of records, one may have copied the information from another.

    The lesson here is, watch for those red flags! Don’t discount family stories and pieces that don’t fit perfectly, but question them, explain them, continue to research them. Some likely will turn out to be completely wrong, and others will fit once an incorrect piece of data or two is exposed.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Is It Plausible? Part 1

    Saturday, Sep 08, 2012

    by Dawne

    If you’re like me, you have encountered situations in your genealogical research where the pieces of a puzzle almost, but don’t quite fit. In those situations, we may enter the information on a family group sheet or a pedigree chart in pencil, or with a question mark. We might write about them in a blog or a journal article, using words like “probably” or “perhaps” or “may have” or “likely,” and if we’re diligent, we will include notes as to why we are hesitant to state outright that these facts are, well, facts.

    Twice in one day, patrons in The Genealogy Center approached the Ask Desk with family information that indicated that a 14-year-old boy was the father of a child. This is not physically impossible – at least not today when children are maturing earlier than they did a century and more ago – but it is at the very least quite unlikely to have occurred back in the mid-1800s, and not just because of physical reasons. In one case, the boy was said to have been married, fathered the child at age 14, then widowed and married again twice in succession at an older age, fathering several more children. Allowing for the 9-month gestation period of the baby, even if the boy and the baby’s mother married after she was pregnant, he almost certainly would have had to have been married at age 13. It is difficult to imagine that either family would have approved of this marriage, with the young father a child himself and not old enough to support his wife and child.

    The first hypothesis I would test in this situation is whether there were two people with the same name in the same geographic area. Maybe the 14-year-old boy he had a slightly older cousin or uncle who actually was the baby’s father, and the boy grew up to marry twice once he was of age. Sometimes researchers “latch onto” individuals with the same name, assuming that they are the same person. But the records often give clues that allow us to distinguish between these same-name folks if we keep our eyes open. For example, when land is sold, a wife’s name usually is given. Deeds also give land descriptions and sometimes the names of the owners of adjacent properties. The names of witnesses to deeds and wills can help us build a group of associates for our individuals of interest. Tax records may give us clues as to how wealthy people were, or whether they were very young or more well-established, based on how much land they owned. When there were two (or more) individuals in the same area at the same time in the deeds, tax lists and other records, sometimes designations like Junior, Senior, Younger, and others can help us sort them out. One of my ancestors was called William Morgan “Cozen” – what I later was able to interpret as “Cousin” – in deeds to distinguish him from an older William Morgan in the same area.

    [Read more about asking yourself whether your family information is plausible in the next installment]

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Genealogy Center's Surname File database

    Tuesday, Sep 04, 2012

    by Cynthia

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

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

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Free Databases for Adams County, Indiana

    Thursday, Aug 30, 2012

    by Delia

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

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

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Hendricks County, Indiana Databases

    Monday, Aug 27, 2012

    by Dawne

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

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

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Detour Over! Rush On Down!

    Sunday, Aug 26, 2012

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • ...And the Last Name Might Be First

    Friday, Aug 24, 2012

    by Delia

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

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Labor Day!

    Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Beginner's Guide to Vital Records

    Saturday, Aug 18, 2012

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • War of 1812 Artifacts

    Thursday, Aug 16, 2012

    by Delia

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Documenting Photographs

    Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012

    by John

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Bringing in the Next Generation

    Saturday, Aug 11, 2012

    by Delia

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

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

    Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012

    by Dawne

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

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

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

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

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


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center