Microfilm reader at Jay County Public Library
My first research trip of 2011 turned out to be a productive one. I had planned a visit to the Jay County Public Library in Portland, Indiana in order to obtain copies of obituaries from the local newspaper. Prior to my trip, I had created a "to-do list" using the features of my RootsMagic database.
Though my focus was going to be strictly on obituaries, I decided to contact the Jay County Historical Society via email to see if by chance someone could come in on Saturday and let us look around. Normally, the museum is only opened through the week. On my last research trip, the microfilm reader at the library stopped working, and I wanted to have a back up plan in case it was broken again.
My dad wanted to go with me on this trip, and I was excited to have him come along. He's been getting interested in family history again, reading my blog daily, doing off site research and preparing mini-history books on our ancestors. We met at 7 a.m. in the morning and headed out to Portland.
Arriving at the library, my cell phone rang and it was Tom Young from the Historical Society letting me know that he could open the museum for us and let us do some research. We agreed to meet at 10 a.m., so that still gave dad and I a few hours at the library.
As I quickly began to scour the local newspapers, which stretch back into the 1880s, I was pleased with the rate of success. At only $0.15 per copy, these obituaries are a bargain. I only wish that the entire collection of these small town newspapers were online somewhere, such as Ancestry, so that I could do an every name search and locate tidbits of information about the daily lives of the families. The society notes in the earlier newspapers are great sources of information.
Just before 10 a.m., we headed down the Historical Society, where we met Tom. My dad and Tom graduated from Portland High School in the same class, and as we talked we also realized that we have a distant connection through the Haley-Easterday families. Tom mentioned that he has read my blog, always nice to hear that as well. Will have to see what more information I could share with Tom about the Haley and Easterday families.
I wanted to focus on the records of the township schools at the museum, and right away dad found a school photo from 1931-32 of Mt. Zion school in Noble Township that had included his mother, Ruth Pauline Haley. Fortunately, someone had taken the time to identify each and every person in the photo. Very serendipitous to find such a picture right off the bat.
We spent about two hours at the museum, where I obtained copies of anniversary notices from the local newspapers, recipes submitted by family members to locally-published cookbooks, funeral home records and marriage supplemental transcript records. Someone had taken the time to print these from the courthouse and place them in binders at the Historical Society, giving me access to information that normally would have been locked up at the courthouse on a weekend.
It's easy to get so involved in your research that you forget to eat, but around noon we decided that we'd better not overstay our welcome with Tom. We thanked him for letting us research on Saturday, and headed to lunch for a sandwich.
After lunch, we called my aunt Juanita and uncle Harold, and found out they were home. We were able to visit with them for a good couple of hours, sharing the information we had just discovered. Dad gave Juanita a booklet he had put together on the Lemasters family, including records on our ancestors' Civil War service. Harold and Juanita shared some memories about the members of the families in the obits I had discovered. My cousin Mark and his wife and daughter showed up right as we were leaving, and it was good to see them again. Dad told them about this blog, so hopefully they will check it out and see some of the information we've discovered.
Then it was back to the library for a couple more hours of research. Dad was digging into the plat maps and the city directories while I was burning up the microfilm reader printing obituaries. As in the morning, was able to make great headway. Just around 4 p.m., however, the microfilm reader decided it was time to surrender. The reel just refused to advance forward or backwards. That was my cue that it was time to call it a day. After notifying the staff of the problems, we decided to pack it in and call it a day.
We called my uncle Paul and aunt Betty, found out they were home, and stopped by for a visit on the way out of town. We again shared the research and gave them a copy of the family history dad had put together. Uncle Paul remembered some stories and shared a few tidbits about the family members whose obituaries I had obtained. Cousin Nancy stopped by and we found out she is getting married in June; also saw cousin Phil briefly.
It was a long day, but a good day from a research standpoint. Now I just have to source the data, and will post copies of the obituaries on the blog.
Finds from the visit to the Jay County Public Library:
- Information regarding the 1949 polio epidemic in Portland, something I want to document as it affected my family
- Obituary of Patty Lou LeMaster, age 12, from the November 1, 1945 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Maxine Elizabeth LeMaster, age 10, from the April 4, 1931 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- LeMaster, Sr., age 77, from the January 14, 1980 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Clarence Harrison LeMaster, age 75, from the November 29, 1963 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Elvin Cooper LeMaster, age 87, from the May 17, 2000 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Garth Luman LeMaster, Sr., age 76, from the February 6, 1998 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Bertha A. (LeMasters) Hercules, age 69, from the January 2, 1962 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of John Leland LeMaster, Jr., age 50, from the March 28, 1973 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of William A. LeMaster, age 54, from the October 16, 1978 edition of The Commerical-Review.
- Obituary of Roger A. LeMaster, age 45, from the March 6, 1972 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Bertha (LeMasters) Yaeger, age 47, from the March 17, 1922 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Beulah S. (LeMasters) Rockwell, from the July 18, 1940 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Catherine Elizabeth (Lemasters) Wehrly, from the December 26, 1911 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Ralph V. LeMaster, age 73, from the February 1, 1996 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Floyd LeMasters, Sr., from the February 12, 1982 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Mary Elsie (LeMasters) Atkinson, age 70, from the June 5, 1942 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Ord Otterbein LeMasters, from the September 15, 1937 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Rachel (Lemasters) Cunningham, from the March 12, 1913 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Maude (LeMasters) Phillips, from the September 16, 1968 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Matthias Jefferson Atkinson, age 59, from the August 25, 1923 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Ferry Mae (Bickel) LeMaster, age 86, from the July 21, 1978 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Ora Lee (Brady) LeMaster, age 87, from the April 16, 2008 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Clara L. (Burkey) LeMaster, age 90, from the October 31, 1985 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Dr. William Anderson Chew, from the January 7, 1914 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Carrie V. (Haley) Thornburg, age 98, from the August 6, 2003 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Obituary of Larry LeMaster, age 24, from the February 28, 1974 edition of The Commercial-Review.
- Wedding announcement of Ora Lee Brady and Garth L. LeMaster from the May 11, 1942 edition of The Commercial-Review.
Finds from the visit to the Jay County Historical Society:
- Photograph of my grandmother, Ruth Pauline Haley, int he Mt. Zion School of Noble Township, 1931-32.
- Funeral record of Frank Haley, August 1, 1937 from the Baird Funeral Home.
- Marriage supplemental record of Pearl M. Metzner to Edward H. Baumgartner from June 2, 1915.
- Marriage supplemental record of Archibald E. Chew from October 27, 1909.
- Marriage supplemental record of Mamie Petry from October 12, 1907.
- 45th Anniversary announcement of Mr. and Mrs. Lisle Wehrly, from April 1, 1969.
- 50th Anniversary announcement of Mr. and Mrs. Vern Haley, from March 3, 1966.
- LeMaster entries in the 1927 Jay County Directory
- LeMaster entries in the 1941 Portland, Indiana City Directory
- LeMaster entries in the 1949 Portland, Indiana City Directory
I'm looking forward to planning out my next research trip.