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  • Catch Us on "Primetime 39"

    Thursday, Jul 14, 2011

    Many genealogists enjoy doing genealogy from home, sometimes even in their pajamas and slippers. Well now you can even learn how to get started on your genealogy as well as what is available at The Genealogy Center from the comfort of your own home. Curt Witcher and Melissa Shimkus will be guests on "Primetime 39," a local half hour show, on Friday, July 15 beginning at 7:30 pm. The show airs on local channel 39-1/PBS39HD, Comcast Cable channel 3, Digital Cable channel 240, or Frontier FiOS channel 3. For those who aren't in the PBS 39 viewing area, the show will be available online, as it is posted. So take the time to catch up with The Genealogy Center while relaxing after dinner.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family Stories

    Monday, Jul 11, 2011

    by Dawne

    Family stories – you have to love them. Let’s see a show of hands for how many of you have been told that you are related to someone famous of the same surname … or have Native American ancestry (particularly a Cherokee Indian princess) … or that your ancestor was one of three immigrant brothers and of those brothers, one went north, one went south and one went west … These particular themes are very common, but even if your own family’s oral history doesn’t include one of these, chances are quite good that you have encountered some sort of undocumented family lore.

    New genealogists often love these family stories and sometimes accept them as Gospel. In fact, occasionally it is these colorful tales that get a budding genealogist hooked on beginning the hunt for his or her ancestry. Last name of Davis? We must be related to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Mom’s mother was a Hatfield. Bet she was related to the Hatfields of the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud. Great-Great-Grandpa served in the Union Army. He was supposed to have been a body guard for Abraham Lincoln! Unfortunately, family stories can be very difficult to document. And when they can be tracked, often the facts don’t match the tale that has been passed down through the family.

    The frustration involved in trying to pin down nebulous stories and match them with facts, coupled with the disappointment when the tale turns out not to be true (you mean Gramps’s great-great uncle wasn’t a jockey in the Kentucky Derby, but a horse thief?) can cause the veteran genealogist to become skeptical of family stories and may lead to the dangerous practice of ignoring them all together. But sometimes they are true! Or, sometimes they at least have an element of truth to them.

    A family’s stories that are passed from one generation to another are retold for a reason. Often there’s an element of family pride involved, either they demonstrate pride for the family name in associating it with someone who was famous or great (or infamous!), or they illustrate some desirable trait, such as bravery or perseverance. There’s a story in one of my family lines about a woman left alone on the frontier in her cabin with her children while her husband was away, and defending the home from some potentially dangerous Indians. This tale is recounted about this woman in a published county history. A lecturer on family folklore at a conference once told me that this is an extremely common theme in family oral history that reinforces the concept of the bravery of women on the American frontier. Whether the story was true in my ancestor’s case, I have not determined.

    Recently I heard once again a story about a female relative of my Bane family in Washington, Pennsylvania, who married an older, rich business tycoon in the West. She was supposed to have been my great-grandmother’s half-sister, and came back to this poor area of southwestern Pennsylvania in her private railway car to visit, then left money in her will to all of her Bane relatives. She also was supposed to have had a son who went down with the Titanic. I first heard this story years ago and did not follow up at that time. When I heard it again recently, I focused in on the fact that this woman was supposed to have been my great-grandmother’s half-sister and was extremely skeptical. I have researched my great-grandmother’s family fairly thoroughly and was pretty sure that if she had a half-sister, I would have known about it.

    It turned out that much of the story was true, but some of the details were not accurate. The woman was not my great-grandmother’s half-sister, but her first cousin – the daughter of a sister of her mother. I had researched this family prior to census schedules being available online and although I knew the surname of the man my great-great-grandmother’s sister had married, I had lost the trail of that branch of the family when it moved west. The woman did marry a railroad vice president (although he was not a very old man as the story indicated; he was about 9 years her senior and younger than 30 when they married), so it is possible that she returned to Washington County in a private railway car. And her son did put his young wife into a lifeboat and go down with the Titanic!

    The key is to keep an open mind. Don’t accept a literal interpretation of your family’s oral history to the point that you ignore solid facts that your research uncovers that don’t fit into the legend. But also don’t discount a family story completely just because it seems too grandiose to be true, or when a piece of it proves to be inaccurate or embellished. There may be important clues to your family history in those stories that Grandpa told!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Scheduling Time for Genealogical Research

    Wednesday, Jul 06, 2011

    by Cynthia

    Some genealogists, including me, remark that it is hard to find time to do genealogical research in our already hectic and busy lives. We schedule doctor appointments, family events, and sport activities. Why not schedule some time or even full days to work on our genealogy research and projects?

    You can plan at least an hour to file documents, update your family genealogy software with recent research finds, or review your files to see what dates, events, or documents are missing on various family members. You will be amazed by how quickly and easily it is to update your family files.

    Or you could schedule time blocks to write family stories or books, create family tree scrapbooks, or design special gifts for family members. Remember that small increments of time can build large projects.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Genealogy Center History, part 5

    Thursday, Jun 30, 2011

    As final touches were being put on the new building at 900 Webster Street (same location, just facing east instead of north), books, record albums, furniture, and many other items were being moved in. Shelving books was a major task. With hundreds of thousands of books to move, strong boxes were at a premium, so the local Falstaff Brewery provided hundreds of boxes that were used and reused.

    The new library was dedicated 21 August, 1968, with the American Legion Post 47 Band playing.

    The new library had a pair of fountain pools that graced the lobby.

    Next time: The Genealogy Department, 1960s-1970s.

    Note: Computer system changes made it impossible to insert the photos this time.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Ancestry in a Month

    Thursday, Jun 23, 2011

    We’re a month away from the first ever “Fort Wayne Ancestry Day,” which brings together not only the expert knowledge of The Genealogy Center’s staff, but also the skill and technological capabilities of A number of representatives from will be here to answer your questions and instruct on how to best use their website, which is one of the leading genealogical databases available. Combine that with the knowledge base and years of experience of The Genealogy Center’s staff and a wealth of information will be shared on July 23rd. Cost for the event is $20, which is a steal at $4 a session.

    So don’t miss out on this opportunity. Register now at

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Genealogy Center: Closed July 4th

    Tuesday, Jun 21, 2011

    Please be aware that The Genealogy Center, as well as the entire Allen County Public Library system, will be closed Monday July 4, 2011 in honor of Independence Day. We will be open our regular hours Saturday July 2nd (9 A to 6 P), and Tuesday, July 5th (9 A to 9 P). Enjoy the day!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • September Consultations Closed

    Tuesday, Jun 21, 2011

    One-on-One consultations for September 28 have filled. If you're interested in scheduling an appointment for a 30 minute consultation, held on the 4th Wednesday of the month, please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Page Numbering

    Tuesday, Jun 14, 2011

    by Melissa

    Upon discovering a family document, you might notice several stamped or handwritten numbers on the edges or corners of the page. Or when looking at microfilm, there can be numbers stamped on the film below the document image. It’s hard to determine which one is the official page number. If an index provides you a page number, assume that any of the numbers appearing on the document might be the page number referenced in the index. For example, one indexer of a census may have used the stamped number, while another indexer may have noted the handwritten page number. Both would be correct because each number was used as a page number at some point in the document’s existence. When citing your own research, consider specifying which number you are using. You could say, “the hand written page number in the upper right corner” or “the stamped page number in the lower right corner,” or even more simply, "p. 34 (stamped)" or "p. 112 (penned)" in an effort to help future generations locate the document.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • July Consultations Closed

    Friday, Jun 10, 2011

    One-on-One consultations for July 27 have filled. If you're interested in scheduling an appointment for a 30 minute consultation, held on the 4th Wednesday of the month, please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • My Ancestry, your Ancestry, his Ancestry, her Ancestry, the library’s Ancestry …

    Wednesday, Jun 08, 2011

    by Dawne


    Many people who visit The Genealogy Center are pleased to learn that they can have free access to and other subscription-based genealogy databases while they are onsite at the library.


    However, if you have a personal subscription to, you should be aware that while at The Genealogy Center, you will not be able to access your own Ancestry account using the library’s computers or wifi connection. Because of the way the library’s network is configured, when someone opens Ancestry at one of The Genealogy Center’s public access computers, or on a laptop using ACPL wifi, the network automatically recognizes that ACPL has an Ancestry subscription and logs the user into that subscription. This is convenient in that you don’t have to type in a user name and password, but not so convenient if you have material in your own Ancestry account that you would like to see!


    If you use your Ancestry account to store your genealogical data, images of documents and other family history material that you will want to access during your visit, you may want to make printouts of this information and bring them along for reference.


    There are two ways that some patrons have found successful to use their own Ancestry accounts from a laptop computer at The Genealogy Center: Logging in elsewhere, or using an aircard (portable wireless broadband modem). If you are staying at a local hotel in the downtown area that has wireless Internet, you may be able to log into your own Ancestry account at the hotel and remain logged in as you bring your computer into the library. (You could also go to a nearby Starbucks, McDonald’s or other location with Internet access to try this if you are here on a day trip.) Also, if you have an aircard that allows you to bypass the library’s wifi to access the Internet, you should be able to log into your own Ancestry account by using your aircard.


    You may not “have to know what you are looking for,” but it’s nice to be able to access it once you have found it!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • is Visiting Fort Wayne

    Monday, Jun 06, 2011

    The Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, IN is pleased to announce that the experts at are coming to Fort Wayne July 22 and 23, 2011 to share their knowledge and expertise with you! Beginning Friday night, July 22, 2011 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., you can pick up your name badge, handout materials, and chat with the experts from The Genealogy Center and at the Fort Wayne Hilton Atrium. Then on Saturday, July 23, 2011 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the experts will present five classes and provide answers to your questions during this full day event at the Grand Wayne Center in Fort Wayne, IN. The schedule for that Saturday includes the following classes:

    9 a.m.-- "Insider Search Tips for" is home to more than 6 billion records in more than 30,000 collections. This class will teach you how to make the powerful search tools at work for you and to help you locate your ancestor, discover their stories, and so much more.

    10:15 a.m.-- "How to Find Civil War Roots at"
    Learn how to identify your Civil War ancestors, create a research plan, collect and interpret the records and tell the story.

    11:15 a.m.--Lunch break: Catch a bite at restaurants nearby and/or talk with the experts

    1 p.m.-- "Hidden Treasures of The Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne"
    The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library is the second largest family history research repository in North America. This presentation will focus on identifying significant collections of materials that may be less obvious to the casual researcher and provide strategies for mining those collections for relevant data.

    2:15 p.m.-- "A Dozen Ways to Jumpstart Your Family History Project"
    With so many new sources and methods popping up, it’s hard to keep with it all. This lecture is designed to point to ways to stay on top of it all, and to provide the ideas you need to get going!

    3:30 p.m.-- "Ask the Experts Panel"
    In this final session, experts from and The Genealogy Center will answer your questions.

    The cost for the full day's classes, held at the Grand Wayne Center, right across from the library, is just $20. For more information and to register, click Register for this event today! Don't miss this wonderful opportunity to join us for Ancestry Day!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • August Consultations Closed

    Friday, Jun 03, 2011

    One-on-One consultations for August 24 have filled. If you're interested in scheduling an appointment for a 30 minute consultation, held on the 4th Wednesday of the month, please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Digging into Deed Records - Part 2

    Thursday, Jun 02, 2011

    by Dawne

    Continuation from yesterday.

    • Andrew Crouch and Melinda Crouch, his wife, to John M. Crouch, 188 acres and 10 perches in Nottingham Township. It was the same land conveyed by John Crouch to his son Andrew Crouch 8 December 1840 and recorded in Deed Volume 2-Z on pages 237-239. [Vol. 5-S: 581 Crouch-Crouch, 1879]
    The above deed mentions that Andrew got the land from his father, John, and provides a citation for an earlier deed volume where that instrument is recorded.
    • A quit-claim filed by Ann Ball and William, her husband, to Henry Bane, for their interest in a piece of land in East Bethlehem Township. The deed notes that James Bane died intestate owning land and had six children: Ann, intermarried with William Ball, Joseph, Henry, Hiram, Ruth and Priscilla. It further notes that Joseph, one of these children, since has died intestate. [Vol. 4-G: 544 Ball-Bane, 1857]
    This deed notes the names of James Bane’s six living children at the time of his death, and that his son Joseph died between James’s death and the recording of this deed – important information since this area of Pennsylvania has no civil death records prior to 1890! It also gives Ann Bane’s husband’s name, William Ball.
    • Silas Condit and Clara, his wife, and Cyrus Morrow and Elizabeth, his wife, quit-claimed to Henry C. Bane for $1 their interest in land in Amwell Township belonging to the estate of “our grandmother,” Jane Bane, deceased. [Vol. 5-K: 532 Condit et al-Bane, 1878]
    One member of the Condit couple and one member of the Morrow couple were grandchildren of Jane Bane. The researcher’s job is to identify the grandchildren and their parents.

    Quit-claim instruments are particularly rich in relationship details and can be extremely valuable in proving the parent-child relationship in the time before vital records existed. But deeds also can convey non-land property, including slaves; provide for the establishment of churches, schools and cemeteries; trace the ownership of a piece of property, and more. Don’t underestimate this valuable record type!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Digging into Deed Records - Part 1

    Wednesday, Jun 01, 2011

    by Dawne

    Deeds are one of my favorite kinds of records as a genealogist. The information that can be found in deed books far surpasses the basic transfer of land from one person to another. Also, the information included in deeds often will point to other records or avenues of research that can be pursued. Consider the following examples, all from Washington County, Pennsylvania:

    • Louisa Bane, in exchange for $1, quit-claimed to Aaron Bane her interest in some land in Amwell Township “for the consideration of the natural love and affection which the said Louisa Bane has for her brother the said Aaron Bane and for the further consideration that the aforesaid Aaron Bane has this day by a writing under his hand and seal bound himself, his heirs, executors, administrators and assignees to support her (the said Louisa Bane) during the term of her natural life …” [Vol. 5-K: 314 Bane-Bane, 1878]
    The above states the relationship of the grantor and grantee, and notes that the brother has agreed to care for his sister for her lifetime. Other research in census and other records revealed that Louisa never married.
    • James Martin and Ellen, his wife; Boyd M. Crouch and Esther (formerly Esther Martin), his wife, all of Richland County, Ohio; Isaac P. C. Martin of Morrow County, Iowa; Ross Taggart and Isabel H. (formerly Isabel Martin), his wife of Beaver County, Pennsylvania; William Martin and Mary A., his wife; Margaret M. McCarroll, widow of Thomas McCarroll (formerly Margaret M. Martin); Sarah M. Rowan, widow of Robert Rowan (formerly Sarah Martin), all of Washington County, Pennsylvania, children and heirs of Samuel Martin … to Eliza Jane Martin, also a child and heir of Samuel Martin … [Vol. 5-K: 332 Martin et al-Martin, 1878]
    This deed includes the names of Samuel Martin’s children, including the married names of the daughters, their husbands’ names, the first names of the deceased husbands of two daughters, and everyone’s current place of residence.
    • R. D. Sutton and Josephine Sutton of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to W. C. Bane, M.D. of Canonsburg, a brick dwelling house and lot of ground on Pike Street in Canonsburg. [Vol. 5-R: 639 Sutton-Bane, 1881]
    We learn that there is a home on the property being sold, and of what type (brick). Also, W. C. Bane’s occupation is given (M.D. = medical doctor).
    • James Spriggs, Esquire, High Sheriff of Washington County, acting on a writ dated 19 June 1837 that directed that chattels, goods and tenements of John S. Bane be sold, conveys to William Howden a lot of ground in Williamsburgh, West Bethlehem Township, on which there is a frame dwelling house, 24 by 11 feet, one story, with logs raised for a stable. [Vol. 3-L: 458 Spriggs-Howden, recorded 1853]

    There is a gap of time between the date of the writ (1837) and the date the instrument was recorded (1853). Perhaps Howden didn’t initially have the deed recorded but later wanted to resell the property? Why was the land directed to be sold? Perhaps John Bane could not pay his debts. Court records might tell us. The type of dwelling again is described.

    Part II of this article will continue tomorrow.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy Center History -- Part 4

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    After the old building was demolished, construction began on the new building for the library.These photos from 1967 show the Webster Street side:


    and the view along Washington Boulevard.

    On October 29, 1967, Library Director Fred Reynolds (shown here), for whom the Reynolds Historical Collection is named) and others laid the cornerstone of the new building, dated 1968, the year it would be opened.

     Next time: The move in!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • June Consultations Update

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    One-on-One consultations for June 22 have filled. If you're interested in scheduling an appointment for a 30 minute consultation, held on the 4th Wednesday of the month, please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Yearbooks, Annuals, Directories

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    by Delia

    I love school yearbooks. All of the bright shining faces, all of the interesting activities. And if I can get one that belonged to a student or teacher, that’s been autographed, well, that’s a delightful rainy day read reflecting a student’s place in the hierarchy and exchanges with friends. And alumni directories, even without photos, are a fascinating study in sociology.

    Church yearbooks, or annual/semi-annual directories, are interesting, too. One can find interesting photos of the church and events, and especially family group photos. Seeing everyone dressed up in their Sunday best for the photos, reflecting a person’s or family’s tradition-oriented garb or adherence to the fashion of the day, bouffant hair, big glasses, narrow or wide ties and all. One can place family groups together: parents, children and, sometimes, pets.

    Association yearbooks or directories don’t often contain photos, but provide addresses, offices held, and sometimes other biographical information. Children often joined the same organization as a parent, so one can follow a family’s interests through an association’s annuals.

    A directory for a workplace may only list in-house names and phone numbers, but will confirm employment at specific times.

    All of these, and more, may be floating around your house. Maybe the people living in an apartment before you moved in left them. Maybe they belong to you but you need the space and they are destined for the recycle bin. Maybe they were treasured by a parent, but really, you think, why do you want them?

    So consider donating them to The Genealogy Center. We own a large collection of Fort Wayne and Allen County school yearbooks, and association, church and business directories, but our collection is not limited to just this immediate area. Currently, we own school annuals from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, …well, you get the idea. We have church directories from, among other places, Florida, Maine and Nevada, and work and association directories and yearbooks from places just as diverse, so your cast-offs would be more than welcome! When you run across this type of material and wonder what you want to do with it, pack them up and send them to us. We will be happy to provide a home to these valuable historic research items!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Summer Hours

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Just a friendly reminder that our new Sunday hours begin this week.

    Mon. - Thurs. 9 am to 9 pm

    Fri. - Sat. 9 am to 6 pm

    And we're closed on Mon., May 30th, in observance of Memorial Day.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Proof Argument

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    by Dawne

    Have you ever found that you have entered a piece of information in your genealogy program and attached a source citation (maybe even more than one), but you can’t remember how that source led you to the conclusion that it did?

    For example, maybe you have Travis Brown attached to Jane Brown as her father with the 1870 and 1880 censuses for the Travis Brown household, John Brown’s obituary and John Brown’s death record shown as the citations for that relationship. This is puzzling because although Jane was in Travis’s household in 1870, this census doesn’t specify relationships between individuals, and you know that Jane was married before 1880 and was not in Travis’s household in that year. Why, then, have you used the 1880 census for Travis Brown as a citation for this fact? And why have you cited John Brown’s death record and obituary?

    When there is no direct evidence for a genealogical fact, researchers often must rely on a “proof argument” to explain how they know the fact is so. In this case, let’s say that Jane and John Brown were in Travis Brown’s household in 1870, and were of age to have been his children. In 1880, Jane was out of the household and married, but John remained in Travis’s household and was enumerated as Travis’s son. John’s death record named Travis as his father, and John’s obituary named Jane as a surviving sister. For the sake of this illustration, let’s also say that we know that Jane’s surname was Brown when she got married. If there is no conflicting evidence, we could make the argument that since John Brown was the son of Travis Brown, John’s sister, whose maiden name was Brown and who lived in Travis’s household in 1870, also was a child of Travis Brown. The sources just named, when analyzed all together, support this conclusion.

    However, a string of sources attached to a fact in a genealogy database does not spell out how we reached this conclusion; only a narrative can do this. If we can’t remember how we determined the answer to a genealogical problem, how can we expect someone else looking at our work to do so?

    Barbara Vines Little, CG(sm),* professional researcher and lecturer, spoke on proof arguments at the National Genealogical Society Conference in Charleston, South Carolina, last week. She said a proof argument should have a topic sentence stating the conclusion, followed by supporting sentences explaining the evidence found, how the pieces of evidence fit together to prove the argument, and a description of the depth and breadth of the search. Negative searches also should be described if they apply to the conclusion, such as when someone is not found in a particular record, or if a certain type of record expected to be found in the area for that time period is not extant, for example.

    It is not enough to know what conclusion the researcher has drawn, Little said in her lecture last week, “We need to know how you figured it out.”

    *“CG” & “Certified Genealogist” are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and are used by authorized associates following periodic, peer-reviewed competency evaluations.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • May Consultations Filled

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    One-on-One consultations for May 25 have filled. If you're interested in scheduling an appointment for a 30 minute consultation, held on the 4th Wednesday of the month, please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center