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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Ancestry.com - Library Edition

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, December 21, 2014

A couple of times each year, I receive a notice that our subscription to Ancestry.com – Library Edition has added more “enhanced services” to their largest online genealogy database in the world.

 

We have found their Library Edition to be a great resource for genealogists, and serves to access information that connects to other resources in our Local History and Genealogy Department.

 

To “keep them honest,” I have a note pad of my own family information that I check on Ancestry.com – Library Edition to see what new resources have been added and how they work against my own family tree.

 

Their database has grown dramatically over the years from basic Census records to databases of every imaginable type of information.

 

I can remember the days of digging through microfilm reels of U.S. Census data county-by-county looking for ancestors.  Reels were rented to libraries to fill requests until digitizing of these reels brought all Census data to online sources such as Ancestry.com – Library Edition.

 

The U.S. Census through 1940 is now available, with a 70 year window of restrictions placed on Census data.

 

My first “test” of the new improved Ancestry.com – Library Edition was my ancestor “Bazil Meeks” who we could never find his burial site.  The information quickly appeared that he was born 1792 and died in 1867 and is buried in Grandview Cemetery near New Matamoras, Ohio.

 

The sources of information are carefully recorded on all information, and as I linked to the “Find A Grave” database I found that someone had entered the information with the “assumption” that Bazil is buried there, no documented proof.

 

Welcome to the world of online genealogy and Wikipedia.

 

I felt better about the other new information about Bazil that his marriage record is registered in Ohio County, WV and the link to the digitized image clearly shows the record and the fact that he was born in Virginia.  Of course, West Virginia was Virginia at the time of his marriage, but the record is not more specific about his birthplace.

 

My great grandfather, Thomas Hall, is another “test case” for the enhanced database, but nothing new is showing for him except confirmation of his parent’s marriage in 1820 in Worchester County, Maryland.

 

Richard and Lavina Reader Hall had arrived in the Port of Baltimore from England as children and she is an example of the problem with digitizing old records.  The machine process of reading old records thinks her name is Louisa, Louella, Lisa, as well as six other possibilities, and her last name might be Hill.  Even a quick glance at the handwritten records shows a human being that her name is clearly Lavina Hall.

 

My grandmother’s brother, Pete, was a more significant success with now Ancestry.com – Library Edition.  He moved to Oklahoma in 1912 with the oil boom, and never returned to Ohio.

 

As a child, our family went to Tulsa and for a week in 1962 to visit Pete. I heard the 80 year-old tell tales of the days of the “wildcatters” drilling for Oklahoma crude.  We knew his relatives, but little about his life on the frontier.

 

The database now contains all of the Tulsa, OK City Directories online beginning in 1922, and I found Pete living in the rough and tumble downtown Tulsa in the Keystone Hotel for over 25 years.  The Directories even listed all the names of the oil field workers residing in the residential hotel those years.

 

He retired to East Tulsa to a small duplex house that we visited in 1962, and a check of Google maps found the brick house is there today all-renovated and being advertised for rent.

 

I also found Pete’s World War I Draft Registration card, now online.  It was interesting that he had to register at age 40 and was exempted as an “oil field worker.”  He had blue eyes and gray hair, was medium build, and was a driller for the C.J. McMahan Co. of Okmulgee, OK.

 

Mr. McMahan was a friend from Ohio, and the only reason I remember that information was that I met his aged friend in 1962 when we all went to a Mausoleum to they could purchase neighboring vaults.  (Even young librarians remember everything!)

 

So if you want to see what you can find out about your family tree, check Ancestry.com – Library Edition.