works to preserve
family and community history
Society to continue
cemetery restoration work
Lela Jane Bradshaw
(March 2011) While in many ways genealogical
research can be a very personal journey, a Madison, Ind., group is proving
that it doesnt have to be one that you take alone.
Each month, the Indiana Genealogical Society meets to help support members
in the mission of tracing their family history and learning more about
their relatives from years ago. Society president Joyce Perkins explains
that,We really want to preserve the records and research for people
that are going to come after us.
Once people start the process of peering back into their family tree,
they often find that they keeping wanting to know more. Society charter
member Janice Barnes says of the research, Its like putting
together a big historical crossword puzzle.
Perkins agrees, noting that You find one thing and it leads you
to something else.
The Indiana Genealogical Society meets the second Thursday of each month
at the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library, 420 W. Main St. The
upcoming meeting will be held at 1 p.m. on March 10. The society invites
the public to come and learn more about the group and discover ways
of learning more about their own family history.
Were glad to help them out and get them started, says
Perkins. The group currently has about 35 members and is always looking
to grow. The March meeting will focus on the Genealogical Societys
plans to continue their project of restoring and repairing area cemeteries.
The Indiana Genealogical Society has been very active in working to
upkeep a variety of cemeteries and plots that might otherwise be forgotten
Last year, all together we straightened about 250 stones,
Not only do the headstones provide an important record of dates and
names, but they also serve as a personal link to the past for many families.
After the society worked to restore one area tombstone, Perkins became
interested in trying to discover whether there were any living relatives
of that family. After connecting with a man on a popular genealogical
website, she sent him photos of the restored stone.
He was so joyful to know that someone had found one of his ancestors,
she recalls. It gives you a feeling of such self worth to think
Im helping someones family. Its just a really good
For those just beginning to explore their own past, Perkins has some
tips. There are a world of different ways out there to find research,
she says. She listed the Internet, the library and newspaper obituaries
as some of her favorite sources of information. She stresses the fact
that over the years many families have changed the spelling of last
names and people should be willing to spend some time looking over records
where names are spelled a variety of ways.
As you go along and go back through the years the spellings can
sometimes change significantly, she notes.
Sometimes immigrants would change their names to better fit in to their
new homeland. Other times, Census workers might accidentally take down
an alternate spelling, particularly if speaking with someone who was
illiterate. And sometimes family legends will even attribute the different
spellings of surnames to family feuds.
Barnes, who also serves as genealogist and Local History Librarian at
the Madison library, advises people interested in genealogy to start
off by doing a bit of digging themselves. I think really before
they come into the library they need to do work at home, she says.
She advises prospective genealogy students to talk to the older
members of the family. Get that basic handle. You need names and dates
to start with in the library.
Once people have a bit of background information. They can make good
use of the librarys many resources. We have newspapers on
microfilm from about 1817 through the present, notes Barnes.
Copies of a variety of courthouse records are also available including
deeds, marriage records, and some tax records. Another set of valuable
resources are the hundreds of histories compiled by Jefferson County
families. Over the years, many people have collected copies of their
own research and provided the library with that information.
For more information, visit: http://jeffersoncountygenealogicalsociety.org.
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