Sunday, February 9, 2014


Yesterday I took a bus to the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana ( along with many other members of the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research (  I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a while and prepared by making a list of items I wanted to research using their online catalog (

Genealogy Center
Allen County Public Library
Fort Wayne, Indiana

If you have a chance to visit the Genealogy Center at this magnificent library, here are ten things you might want to check out:

1. Free Book Lists. Soon after you enter the Genealogy Center, you will see carousels filled with free handouts that contain lists of books on numerous topics. Here are some of the ones that interested me:
  • Arkansas
  • British, English & Welsh
  • Connecticut
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Military
  • New York,
  • Next Steps & Discoveries
  • Ohio
  • Ontario
  • Passenger List
  • Quaker
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Scottish
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
These lists contain the call numbers where you can locate the books in the library. However, you can search for these titles online or at other repositories after you leave the Allen County Library.  The lists give you the names of hundreds of books available of interest to those enticed by genealogy. For example, on the “British, English & Welsh” list, I found books titled Marriage Law for Genealogists, Simple Latin for Family Historians and Dictionary of English Place Names. These would be good reference books to purchase for my home library.

Allen County Public Library
Fort Wayne, Indiana
2.  Microforms. A second source to explore at the library is their microform holdings. You can use the online search box for this also; simply narrow your results by clicking “Microfilm and Microfiche.”  You can also browse through their collection by walking around the well-labeled cabinets.  I found the drawer for New York and noticed that they had a number of spools for Chenango and Oneida Counties, New York. I will explore those on my next trip.

3. Surname Books. I love surname books and always check to see if they have added new ones for my family names.  Yesterday I reviewed:
  • Descendants of Thomas Dewey by Edna Dewey Fink
  • Josiah Dewey: Son of Thomas Dewey, the Settler compiled by P.D. Leger
  • Horner Patriots of Pennsylvania by Jack Horner Bell
  • Our Horner Ancestors by Virginia Horner Hinds
  • The Leonard Family by the American Genealogical Research Institute
  • The History of the Bowles Family compiled and published by Thomas M. Farouhar
  • The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island compiled by Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.

4.  Location Books. You can learn about multiple ancestors by reviewing books that discuss a particular town, city or county. Yesterday I gained new knowledge about my Scripture, Turner, Kimbrough, Graves, Boyden and Spaulding families by exploring the following publications:
  • The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, 1985 by the Caswell County Historical Association
  • Caswell County, North Carolina: Land Grants, Tax Lists, State Census, Apprentice Bonds, Estate Records compiled by Katharine Kerr Kendall
  • Early Church Records of Groton, Massachusetts: 1706-1830 from the Church Books and the Middlesex County Records
  • Groton During the Indian Wars by Samuel A. Green, M.D.
  • Epitaphs from the Old Burying Ground in Groton, Massachusetts by Samuel A. Green, M.D.
  • Ypsilanti Archives by Laura Bien
  • Ypsilanti: A History in Pictures by James Thomas Mann
  • A History of Ypsilanti: 150 Years by Thomas N. Tobias, Jr., Mary Wallace Baker and Barbara A. Fairfield
  • The Story of Ypsilanti by Harvey C. Colburn
  • Vital Records of Heath, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850 by the New England Historic Genealogical Society
5. Cindy's DinerDon’t forget to eat. Research requires that you fuel your body and hydrate your brain cells. My husband and I skipped the Dunkin’ Donuts inside the library and ventured out. We were on our way to Jimmy John’s for subs, when we came upon the most adorable little restaurant called Cindy’s Diner (

Cindy's Diner
Fort Wayne, Indiana

Inside we grabbed two available seats at the 15-seat counter. I looked around and was transported to the 1960s. A mini jukebox was on the counter before me so, of course, I had to test it out.  We were scrambling for change, when a friendly lady sitting near us gave us a quarter.  I chose “My Boyfriend’s Back.”  I was musing about whether or not to choose a burger, when the lady said they were the best in town. I ordered one and she was right! The service was fast and friendly. We talked to the lady and her husband, who were both retired Fort Wayne residents. They were sharing a piece of fresh, warm rhubarb pie. We learned about other great restaurants that were nearby, which I will check out the next time I visit.  She said that the diner would be moving in a few months but that it will still be near the library. Here is an article about that move:
The meal was very affordable and the atmosphere was relaxed. By all means, check out Cindy’s Diner when you visit the Allen County Public Library.

6.  Periodicals. Publications by local historical and genealogical societies can contain fascinating information about your ancestors’ lives. You can find them in the online catalog under “Magazines and Newspapers.” You can also walk along the east wall of the library and browse through the current and unbound periodicals. These are the ones I looked at yesterday.

“Branches & Twigs” by the Genealogical Society of Vermont
“Tree Talks” published by the Central New York Genealogical Society
“The Perry County Quarterly” by the Perry County Historical Society in Tennessee

7. Genealogical Guidebooks. It is always a good idea to have a general knowledge of an area before attempting research.  I have been helping a friend explore his Italian heritage, so yesterday I was pleased to find the following books:
  • Italian Family Research by J. Konrad
  • Finding Italian Roots by John Philip Colletta, Ph.D.

8.  Computers. The library has plenty of computers with free online databases, such as:
  • Allen County and Ft. Wayne records
  • Government documents
  • Obituaries
I did not have a chance to go online at the library, so I will earmark that as a project for my next visit.

9. City Directories. There are numerous city directories that can help you locate people between census periods. Census directories are filled with valuable information about businesses, churches, fraternal organizations and more. See one of my earlier posts about discoveries I made using city directories from Utica, New York (

10. Maps.  Visualizing a location as it existed in your ancestor’s day is critical to finding records. The library has hundreds of maps. Here are just a few:
  • Ordnance Survey Maps of Ireland
  • Library of Congress Land Ownership Maps
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
  • Maps of Canada
  • Maps of Gettysburg and the Civil War
  • Maps of the Oregon Trail
  • Family Maps for many locations throughout the U.S.

There is so much more… Aren’t libraries wonderful? With all the crime and banal activities out there, we are very fortunate to have access to quiet havens filled with history. Libraries are peaceful, good places to spend a day.

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