passion for the past
life-long research, geneaology
considered invaluable to Carrollton
Helen E. McKinney
CARROLLTON, Ky. (September 2004) Katherine
Salyers love affair with history has lasted since the 1950s. Her
goal for the last half-century has been to record Carroll Countys
history before it vanishes.
by Melissa Pelsor
office at 511 Highland Ave. will
serve as the new chamber office.
She has received a lot of media attention lately due to
her appearance in Where the Rivers Meet. This documentary
chronicles the history of Carroll County and was made by Lori Hedges
of Madison, Ind. Hedges, a student at Hanover College, created the film
for a class project.
Salyers was the principle person interviewed, said Carroll County Public
Library Director Jarrett Boyd, because shes made it her
lifes calling to document the history of Carrollton.
Salyers was born on Sept. 12, 1914, in Dry Ridge, Ky., located in nearby
Grant County. Her parents moved to Carrollton when she was 11 to care
for her ailing grandfather, who had suffered a stroke.
Once you get in Carrollton, youre stuck, she said,
referring to the fact that the family had moved there by horse and buggy
Since then she has lived in her grandmothers home in downtown
Carrollton. Stepping into Salyers' house gives one the profound sense
of stepping back in time. The interior of the house contains
a houseful of history, said Boyd.
What began as a hobby now fills three filing cabinets and several bookcases.
Many files and countless notebooks contain handwritten pages on a subject
that has consumed Salyers since she began her hobby of recording the
I just did it because I like it, said Salyers of her passion
for the past. Her research enables future generations to look into the
past more easily.
Evelyn Welch, curator for the Butler-Turpin Historic House at Gen. Butler
State Resort Park, said researchers generally have one choice in that
they can go to the county clerks office and do the work
yourself. Salyers, on the other hand, has done the work
for you. Her research is catalogued, and in todays high-tech
world, this makes genealogical research less labor intensive,
said Welch. This is an incentive to get more people involved in this
time-consuming hobby, said Welch.
Salyers, who was employed by the Big Burley Warehouse for 27 years,
has documented family Bible records, Deed Books I and II of Carroll
County, early court order books (when Carrollton, then known as Port
William, was a part of Gallatin County), census records and obituaries.
Her cemetery records contain the location of 185 or more cemeteries
in the county.
Since 1962, she has traveled to each cemetery to personally record the
gravestone information, and is still adding to her list of 238 names.
I love to dig around in cemeteries, said Salyers.
She is definitely the go-to person for genealogy questions,
said Boyd. The Mormon Church, whose Family History Center contains the
worlds largest collection of genealogical records, recently collected
17 rolls of microfilm from Salyers' files.
While growing up, Salyers asked her mother repeatedly to tell her stories
about her parents life in Grant County. In 1879, her grandfather
Salyers left Kentucky to travel to Missouri. He took his family by Conestoga
wagon across the prairie. His son, Salyers' father, remembered images
such as wild strawberries, prairie dogs and stopping to eat a lunch
of biscuits and fried chicken upon the prairie. He recalled it as the
best lunch hed ever had.
Salyers grandfather died in 1886 in Missouri and her grandmother returned
to Kentucky with four children. Her father met her mother in Warsaw,
and they eloped in Vevay, Ind.
Even though she has four generations of family buried in Grant County,
Salyers calls Carrollton home. She said people frequently ask her why
she is so interested in Carroll County history when she has such strong
ties to another county. Her reasoning is centered in the pride she feels
for the county in which she lives.
Life is so complicated now, said Salyers, who turns 90 in
September. An afternoon spent with her is like stepping into a good
historical novel and becoming one with the main character. For Salyers,
life has been a journey into the past, which she freely shares with
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