Monday, August 19, 2013

Finding the good stuff

Finding "good stuff" is fun, and the "good stuff" is probably not on line.  There is some "good stuff" to be found in libraries, of course, but mostly library (and internet) finds are what point us to the "good stuff".  I am very much a novice at looking in courthouses and historical societies, but the few times I have tried this I have been fortunate enough to find what are to me priceless insights into the lives of our ancestors. 

For instance, when I finally went to the Whitley County, Indiana Historical Society, I was thrilled. The research area is very small, but there was a good selection of books and materials, and the volunteer on duty that day was very helpful.  She found a newspaper clipping about a small accident that William Withers, my husband's great grandfather, had in 1933, which told us much about the way he lived. I also was able to find and prove a generation back to what would be his third great grandfather and grand mother, on another line, Henry Cook and Catherine Whetstone.  There are more treasures there to be found, I'm sure, and I plan to go back for more work one day. 

The leads I found there were enough to send me to "The Vault", which was another wonderful experience. This is a Whitley County office, where wills and marriage licenses and court proceedings are kept.  There were wonderful treasures there from my husband's family.  We found wills and marriage licenses galore, but the real surprise was a divorce filing for my husband's great grandfather, Emmanuel Harshbarger.  It was fascinating, and I'll be writing more about that another time. (As far as we know now, the divorce was never finalized, but there is more searching to do to get to the bottom of this story, which was never mentioned in the family.) 

Another find was at the Indiana Archives, where we learned that my husband's ancestor, Jackson Wise, who was in the state penitentiary in 1850, was pardoned in 1854. According to the archivist, there are no records to show why the governor pardoned him, so we hope there are some answers at the county level, and will be looking for court records there to help explain the rest of the story.  

I've had similar experiences in other facilities, particularly Harrodsburg, Kentucky, although I only knew about my ancestors (Allen, Dunn, Campbell) when we visited there. As it turns out, there were several lines on my husband's side to be explored there, too, so we may someday go back. 

We hope to take a short road trip to another research site sometime in the early fall, and I can't wait to find out  what we learn.  Internet finds are great, and we can learn  much sitting in our chairs at home, but  sometimes we lose sight of where the real goodies are to be found.