Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Researching Darke County, Ohio

Last Sunday I spent the day in Darke County, Ohio, researching my genealogy and getting a history lesson from my dad.  After our day in Jay County on Saturday, we headed out to Greenville, Ohio on Sunday.  My plan was to visit the Garst Museum and their genealogical library which had been on my "to-do" list for quite some time.

As we crossed over the state line, dad shared a few stories about his high school and college days and 3.2 beer.  Ohio allowed 18 year-olds to drink 3.2 beer, and since Jay County was just a few miles away, it was common for them to come over to Ohio.  When we arrived in Greenville, we drove around a bit and located the Triangle bar, where dad and friends from Ball State came down to dance.  It was closed, being a Sunday, but it was interesting to hear dad open up a little bit about his youth.

The first place we visited in the area was the Webster Cemetery (aka Dutch) in Allen Township.  I had previously visited this cemetery two years ago with Eileen.  We quickly located the graves of Nathaniel Chew (1786-1866), dad's 3rd-great grandfather, and Caroline Bishop (Woolston) Chew (1826-1879), dad's 2nd-great grandmother and the first wife of Ezekiel Cooper Chew.  These tombstones had definitely weathered since my last visit.  Also in the plot was the infant Phillip D. Lemasters (1869-1869), the younger brother of dad's grandfather.

This cemetery lies on the Lightsville-Rossburg Road, and I later found out that the former Methodist Episcopal Church that sat there was torn down in the 1890s.  

Waiting for the museum to open, we had to make a lunch stop at Maid-Rite, a Greenville tradition.  We were the second and third customer of the day, some local beat us in the door to be the first customer of the day.

After a bit to eat, we stopped by a pioneer cemetery that we noticed as we were driving around looking for the Triangle bar.  The grave markers of several War of 1812 veterans and other pioneer citizens are preserved there as well as a small stockade.

Always the history teacher, dad took me down to the site of Fort Jefferson.  After visiting the site of Fort Recovery on Saturday and learning more about St. Clair's Defeat and the history of military operations in Ohio in the early 1790s.

And then, the researching began.  The museum opened at 1 p.m., and after paying the admission fee, which allows you to tour the museum and use the genealogy library, I was ready to dig in.  The nice volunteer pointed me in the direction of the surname files.  With over 5000 surnames in its files, the library has quite an extension collection.  Planning for the trip, I had printed off a list of individuals who resided in Darke County before 1930.  Some of my paternal ancestry was briefly in the county, but even on my maternal side there were some collateral relatives who lived in the county as well.

I had great success in the surname files on my maternal lines - the Groendykes and the Lambertsons, and found some information on the Hummel collateral line of my paternal side.  In addition, I was able to find some records from the atlas regarding where the land my Chew family held, and likely where my LeMaster family resided.  Because my families were only in the county for a short period of time, I didn't find much on them in the more general interest books.   We only spent about two hours there, as we were getting tired, but it was definitely worth it.  It will definitely be on my list of places to return again to research, as they had so many family files to research.

We also took the time to explore the museum, including the Annie Oakley collection, and I must say it is one of the nicer small museums I have been in.  Their collections on local history, examples of pioneer life, farming, racing, etc. is definitely worth stopping by to see.

I will be sharing more about what I've found in future posts.

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