Sunday, December 25, 2011

Planning an Open House for an Archive

Earlier this year I took a workshop on running an Archive. One of the points that they brought up was that an Archive is not just for preserving historical items. These items are there for a reason; they are to be used by someone - a researcher, an educator, an historian, etc. That’s why I decided to hold an Open House. This will come at a really good time in our Society too, because we are trying to raise funds for a new building. It could be potentially important to show the prospective donor what an Archive is all about. We need a good environment to keep our treasures in; we need to let them know what we do here. We need to let them know why it is important for our county to keep our history preserved somehow and somewhere.

On doing research for our Open House - I had never done one before – I went to the internet and did a Google search to try find some good advice on how to hold an Open House. I got a hit that came up as the Open House Event Toolkit on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s webpage:

Their Do-It-Yourself Guidelines lay out what needs to go into planning your Open House. The areas it covered were: Whom To Invite (historical organizations, prospective donors), When to Hold the Event (limit the hours open?), What To Show (pick interesting items for the general public), Prepare Your Collection (prepare the layout and label everything), How to Publicize the Event (invitations or public notice?), Providing Refreshments (this is optional), and A Timeline for Preparations (had no idea the planning it took). All this was very educational and some of it I had not even considered.

So now I have set a date, February 6, 2012. I have started going over their Guidelines making notes on what needs to be done and when. I’m not sure whom to invite outside of other historical organizations so I am going to get some advice from our fund-raising people. They may already have a list of people they regularly contact. Next I need to put together an advertising plan. Then with a couple of my co-workers we will start going over what type of items we want to show. As the day grows closer I will post this event on our Facebook page, “Brown County Historical Society.” If live close by please pay us a visit. If anyone else has some advice for me please let me know.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Steeles of Ohio

Reeves Cemetery in Brown County, Indiana.

Our local genealogy society recently had a program on researching Ohio ancestors. Before the program I thought I would revisit the four family lines I had that came from Ohio. Of the four I had more interest on finding more on my Steele family. They ended up in the county I now live in, Brown County, Indiana. I no more to go on from the time they spent in Ohio, though. All I had been able to gather on this family so far had been just census records.

Of this family that came to Indiana was a daughter, Eunice Steele, that had married William Reeves. In the 1870 census in Brown County the family consisted of: William Reeves age 49, Eunice age 46, Rebecca age 15, Harriet age 8, William age 6, Elihue age 3, all born Ohio. By the 1880 census all the same people were listed in this family with the addition of one other person, Mary Steel age 72. So what I needed to do next was go back to Ohio to see if I could find anything new on their life there and find out who was her father. Not being able to travel there I have had to rely on whatever was on the internet to find something on this family.

From all my previous searches I had never been able to find a marriage record of Eunice to William Reeves. The Reeves family being a well researched family on William's side it was known they were all from Belmont and Monroe County, Ohio. No marriage record was found in either county.

Tracing William and Eunice Reeves back to Ohio they were found in Washington County, Ohio in 1850 and 1860. This helped to find two other children in the family - Lydia and David. With the family being there in 1850 it was impossible to find Eunice as a Steele. It had appeared that she had married before the 1850 census going by the ages of the children. But looking at the 1850 census there was a Steele family living right next to them - Henry and Mary Steele. This had to be Eunice's parents. The Mary fit the right age bracket as the one in the 1880 census.

Now it was time to check any new resources that might be on the internet. I rechecked all the census records on Ancestry to see if I had overlooked any other Steele families nearby. Nothing new appeared except a couple lone children in other families. I need to research them when I get time. Next I did a new search for that missing marriage records. I checked all the resources I could think of - Ancestry, USGenweb sites for the 3 counties in Ohio, and even did a Google search. One last thing, let's check Family Search since they have a lot of new stuff on their website. And there it was - the marriage record for William Reeves to Eunice Steele in Washington county, Ohio on 29 September 1844. It does help to revisit resources over time.

One other thing I always check for new information is New burial data is being input daily. Checking several spellings I was able to find Henry Steele buried in Washington County, Ohio in the Lawrence Baptist Cemetery. From the data on his memorial page he had died Aug. 11, 1871. This fits in with the time Mary Steele appeared living with William and Eunice Reeves by the 1880 census. This was a good step forward in proving Eunice's parents were Henry and Mary Steele. I think my step will be to order some microfilm from Family Search to look for a possible probate record or any deeds. One clue that jumped out from the census was that Henry Steele owned land. That will be my next step forward.

Thanks go to all those volunteers that are inputing new data every day. Thanks to Family Search I finally found their marriage record. And thanks to Findagrave volunteers for inputing all the new cemetery information. It really helps those of us that can't travel to the places of our ancestral homeland. I try to help others who have family here in Brown County, Indiana. If I can I try to give back in my own way. Researching my Ohio families I've found many other families that migrated here from these very same counties in Ohio. Anyone that needs help here in Brown County, Indiana let me know.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

A New Lesson Learned - Henry Bolin, My Brickwall Lesson

I've been following a blog, Brickwall Protocol, hoping I could learn some new technique or method to help work on my brickwall ancestors. I started with one of my brickwall ancestors, Henry Bolin/Boland, of which I had only five documents of his existence. He was in the Tax Lists of Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1797 and 1805. He was in the 1800 census in Wilkes County. He was bondsman on two of his daughters' marriages in Wayne County, Kentucky. Nancy Ann had married Jonathan Lovell on Nov. 23, 1860. Betsy had married William Fields on Feb. 28, 1818. I have been searching for any other record of him for several years now. So I started going through these lessons on this blog until I reached BWP No. 12: Point of Reference on

I had already made timelines of this family, had a lot of gaps, and had run out of places to look. Only 2 years ago I had found another son, George Washington Bolin, and his marriage in Russell County, Kentucky to Elizabeth Johnson on Apr. 25, 1835. I also had two more prospective brothers, Andrew and John. I was slowly building a family of his children, but still could not find any more on Henry. The two daughters lived for a while in Pulaski County and then finally moved to Indiana along with the brother George. George moved back to Kentucky and I have followed him through several counties where I had found the two prospective brothers. I had all these little pieces of information, but no idea of how to put them together to find their father.

That's when I decided to use my Henry Bolin on the Brickwall Protocol lessons. I had gone all the way through to lesson no. 12 when it hit me. The title of the lesson was Point of Reference, I had never actually used this. In the lesson you have to put your ancestor in historical context, you have to put dates of historical events on your time line to help you visualize how your ancestor might have reacted to events going on around him. I started looking at the histories of the counties that Henry and his children were linked to in Kentucky: Russell, Wayne, Pulaski, Hart, Adair, and Casey counties (Kentucky is where I had obtained the most information.) When I came across an historical fact: Russell County was formed in 1825 out of the counties of Adair, Wayne, and Cumberland counties.

I had learned a new lesson! I had never thought of this, instead of the children being all spread out across several counties possibly it was just that the county lines had changed. Maybe they were still all in the same place the whole time. Now I have some new places to search for Henry. Now it's time to check these new avenues. I need to adjust my way of thinking - my ancestors just didn't live in a time and place on some abstract plane. A whole other set of conditions existed that might have affected their lives. I just want to thank the Jones Genealogist blogger for helping us to learn new tricks. It just goes to show you can still go back to the beginning and learn a new lesson or two.