A little geography can be big help in genealogy

The dawn of the 21st century ushered in a new “information era” of research capabilities. Personal computers and search engines allowed for anyone to easily mine mountains of electronic data from the most relevant sources, for a particular subject, at any hour of the day without leaving home. Traditional research practices of physically visiting various repositories became “so yesterday.” 

This is particularly evident in the area of genealogical and family history research, where the need to visit local libraries, historical societies and county courthouses has been reduced greatly. Popular genealogical search engines and databases, such as FamilySearch, Fold3 and HeritageQuest, can be freely accessed electronically from anywhere, using a library account and pin number.

But is relying solely on these “biggies” a mistake? These enormous databases hold only the tip of the iceberg of relevant information. When it comes time to put flesh on the bones of members of a family tree, traditional research practices are needed. 

Many records are still held locally at public and private facilities. This is why it is necessary to learn the history of the town of a family’s origin. And because vital and other public records are held at the county level of government, it is necessary to learn in what county that town was during the time period of interest.

The state of Kentucky is one example of how state and county boundaries changed with time. Kentucky was formed from Virginia. But what year was that? From what Virginia counties was Kentucky formed? Furthermore, county boundaries continued to change as the state became more populated and new counties were carved from old. Some counties have extensive records collections from the earliest dates, others are sparse owing to courthouse floods, fires and storm damage.   

Answers to these questions and helpful tips for doing “Genealogical Research in Kentucky” will be provided by Thomas Stephen Neel, historian, genealogist and current director of the Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS) Library in Bellville, at the May 18 meeting of the Cuyahoga West Chapter, OGS. Program is from 7:00-8:45 p.m. in the Porter Room at Westlake Porter Public Library, 27333 Center Ridge Road. Social time, with refreshments, is from 6:30-7 p.m. The public is invited at no charge. For additional information, visit rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohcwogs or email cuyahogawest@gmail.com.  

Jayne Broestl

Publicity Chair for the Cuyahoga West Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society that meets at Westlake Porter Public Library.

Read More on Community Events
Volume 8, Issue 9, Posted 9:48 AM, 05.03.2016