Monday, March 26, 2012

House History Research - Developing Research Parameters

Main Street in Nashville - Abe Martin Restaurant & Genolin Pharmacy

Since I've taken over the helm as Head Archivist I've been doing a lot of thinking on this subject of bringing our Archive up to the present technology. There have been many good archivists over the years that were very diligent in organizing the collections, compiling information, and indexing what they thought needed to be indexed. They have done a lot of good work. Now it is time to lend my hand to it and see what else I can do to make it better. I've spent the first year just familiarizing myself with our collections. I know there is so much more there that I haven't even laid eyes on yet. I came into this job as a genealogist and that has helped me to see the human side of Brown County history. We've got a good start on a Surname file for genealogical research that we can constantly add to. Most of our research requests to date pertains to family genealogy. So this side has been easy for me to get to work on right away, also my volunteers are genealogists.

Now I have come upon a popular subject that doesn't directly relate to genealogy - house history. In a way one can use genealogical research methods. This being a popular subject I need to develop a better system to better organize and search this collection. We started with one drawer in a filing cabinet. The first organizational division is by location and most of the homes that are covered are only located in the county seat, the town of Nashville. There is one other file named Cabins - pretty generic huh? What would be a better way to organize this so the common person can look for their home? So we need to sit down and go over all the perimeters that might be used to locate a house/building. We need to apply these parameters in our filing system and possibly a database.

I went through a learning situation when I was asked to find where an old store used to be located in Nashville. The query was to find a photo of the building and where in town it was located. We had to know the timeframe this particular store would have went by this name - the Genolin Pharmacy. From the two photos that we had on this store you can see stores that are on either side of it. From the above photo: looking west the Abe Martin Restaurant was on the left side of the pharmacy. Both were located on the south side of the street across from the courthouse. The courthouse is one of the oldest buildings in Nashville. That made it a good point of reference.

Abe Martin Restaurant, Genolin Pharmacy, and a Shoe & Harness Repair Shop

Several search parameters that we came across is what we will probably use to develop a database of homes/buildings. From our research we learned that the Genolin Pharmacy later became the Rustic Inn. This later name is what helped us locate the building in Nashville. So we come up with some search terms we may use which are: popular name, other names used, original owner, builder, current address, GPS coordinates, year built. These are just a few that might need to be column headings in our database. Should we develop our database with major divisions with county locations such as townships and cities or should we treat it like a Surname file and organize it by 'Popular name'? The first question we ask of the customer "what part of the county is your house located?" Maybe that should be our first major subdivision. What other search parameters should we use - type of structure, outbuildings if any, location in relation to property lines or roads? Setting up the database and inputting information I'm sure we'll find other items that might be helpful and items that we might not need. First some research on other databases of this type should be our first step.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Finding Records in Brown County, Indiana

Brown County Public Library

This is a short description of where in Brown County certain records/documents can be found. Many counties in Indiana will be similar, but it will give you a sense of where to look when in another county. There are three main locations for Brown County's records - Public Library, County offices, Historical Society.

When beginning any genealogical search one is always best advised to start at the Public Library. Many county records can be found there on microfilm or on the book shelves. There are published family histories that other researchers have donated. These could save you a lot of time if you find one of your families in one of these. Then in the genealogical section you will find many indexes in book form for many of the most used county records. These can save you time also, because some county records are not indexed. The local newspaper is here also on microfilm to look up articles/obits. But don't look here first for an obit because most of our obits have been put in book form from 1918 to 1999 which will be in the genealogy section. The marriage records, deaths, births, court records, wills, guardianships, etc. are all indexed or abstracted in books at the library. It is best to start here, find your document in the index, write it down, and then pay a visit to the other two repositories.

The County offices still hold most of the old records from the county's beginnings in 1837. Located in two buildings the Brown County Courthouse and the County building you can can take the next step in your search. The Clerk's office holds the Marriage records, Will books, Court order books, etc. In the courthouse fire of 1873 only a few records were lost from 1873 in the Clerk's office. The Recorder's office holds the miscellaneous books and the deed books, although the courthouse fire of 1873 destroyed all the earlier books prior to 1873. Some of the earlier deeds have been re-recorded though depending on who was willing to come back to the Recorder's office to add their deeds back to their files. For records on early land transactions though you can still find most all of those at the Auditor's office in the Land Transfers books and Tract books which all survived the fire. The Birth and Death Records are located in the Health Dept. Although their collection is spotty especially in the earliest records when they were required to start recording births and deaths in 1882.

The last leg of your trip should include the Historical Society's Archives. That's where I come in. Our Archives contain a lot more detailed information for family researchers. Our collection includes special collections on historical subjects which is anything to do with the history of our county - railroads, festivals, military, etc. We have special collections donated by individuals that may contain some genealogy and some history which pertains to the individual's role in our county history. These may be artists, politicians, business owners. We also house the Circuit court and Probate court packets. These are envelopes with all the loose paperwork that pertains to each case. In these you might find warrants, receipts, copies of filed paperwork, legal documents, etc. If you are interested in visiting our county to do research it is best to contact either the library or the historical society. Either one can give you an idea of what our hours of operation are and our location. See our websites below.

Brown County Public Library

Brown County Historical Society

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Death of Young John Cullen - Conclusion

A trip to the courthouse was needed to look at any final documents on the case of State of Indiana vs. George Fleener, Joseph McClung, and Nathan Fritch. The clerk's office was very helpful in helping me find any other information on this case. Unfortunately from the fire of 1873 part of the documents must have been lost. Two different documents was all that was left that pertained to this case.

In the Order Book in the Clerk's office on June 22, 1885 a warrant was issued for the arrest of George Fleener. The warrant was postponed 2 more times. The last one was for July 10, 1886. No other documentation was found after that date. George Fleener must not have showed up or was not found by the authorities so he could be brought before the court. The only other document found was for the November term 1873 where Joseph McClung was appointed an attorney for his part in the case. Nathan Fritch must not have been charged in the death of John Cullen. From the witness testimony he played a very small part in the fight.

One final thing I wanted to get cleared up was an exact date for John Cullen's death. There were no death records required in Indiana until 1882 and there was no burial information that could be found for John Cullen. There were Coroner's reports that did go back to 1866 in Brown County but these were spotty at best. John Cullen was listed in the index but the records could not be found. I've found this before. Usually if you check the court records the Coroner's report turns up in the court case files. One final attempt was made to go back through the doctor's testimony. It being tedious and the details pretty grueling it was worth it in the end.

The fight occurred on April 12, 1873. Using the date calculator on my genealogy program and the doctor's testimony of the events of that week the exact date could be calculated. According to the doctor's testimony, Cullen came to see him on Saturday, which turned out to be the same day of the fight. The doctor said he stayed with him until his death which was the following Thursday. That made John Cullen's death date April 17, 1873. This is probably the only place this young man's date of death was ever documented. No other documentation could be found except maybe if a family bible was kept. As best as could be done these drastic events could be put together. Nothing of George Fleener was ever turned up again.