Library has your portal to past ancestors

Thanks to my ancestors, I have an enthusiasm for genealogy and history. My mom would tell us family stories, and we always made trips to at least three cemeteries on Memorial Day.

For example, my three-times great-grandfather served in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1835-1839 and in the Indiana Senate from 1867-1870. He served in the Indiana Militia 36th Regiment, starting as captain in 1826, working his way up the ranks to colonel in 1834. He was a justice of the peace in 1829.

My two-times great grandfather was in the Indiana Infantry during the Civil War. My family has been in possession of a large, elaborate lithograph of his discharge papers for many years. I was lucky to get these stories before my mom passed away. Many of you may be in the same situation.

If so, the Bartholomew County Public Library is the go-to place for information.

Since being built in 1987, the Indiana Room has been my favorite spot in the library. It’s like a portal to the past.

The library has several books on how to start searching for your ancestors, as well as tips and tricks to searching. For something a little more interesting, try the book “Indiana: Off the Beaten Path” (Ind 917.72 Tho) or check out one of our many local cookbooks, filled with Hoosier fare.

The library also has city/county directories, going back as far as 1888, as well as county history books from most of the surrounding counties. There are also files filled with local genealogy information in addition to files for our local cemeteries.

We also offer three free library-use-only online resources. Ancestry.com is probably the most recognized genealogy resource, and within the library using our public computers or your own device, you can access our free account. Although you can’t make or edit family trees through the library version, it is an invaluable research tool.

Historygeo.com includes the First Landowners Project of original landowners in 21 states, including Indiana. One of our newest resources is newspapers. com. The Republic, as well as newspapers from Brown, Jackson and Johnson counties, can be accessed.

Even if you can’t get to the library, there are resources available through the library website, mybcpl.org. Under the Genealogy resources tab, you’ll find a variety of tools to help with your search, such as a link to many Bartholomew County cemetery locations.

Findagrave.com lists cemeteries throughout the United States. Familysearch.org provides records for family histories and is sponsored by the Latter-Day Saints. Heritage Quest has U.S. Federal census information from 1790 to 1940, as well as other records and indexes.

For military records, Fold3 is an excellent collection. In addition to these and other great websites, there is a “Contact us with Genealogy Questions” link in the Genealogy Resources tab, or you can stop in and ask for Annette Blount, our genealogy and Indiana Room librarian.

I hope the search for your own family stories is as much fun as mine has been.

Missy Henderson is a technical services department assistant at the Bartholomew County Public Library and can be reached at mhenderson@mybcpl.org.