Tuesday November 10, 2015

Going Back in Time

The University of Dayton Libraries subscribe to many databases, including Ancestry.com, that access incredible amounts of information now available online. For instance, I found a map of the land my great grandparents staked in the Oklahoma Land Rush. I found the 1885 city directory from Buffalo, N.Y., where I can look up a carpenter and a recent-immigrant baker, whose children would marry on a June day eighteen years later. There are censuses where children’s names joyfully appear one year, but are quietly missing on the next. There are draft records and applications for veteran pensions.

My research has led me to use our interlibrary loan service to borrow books about life in Montreal, where my French ancestors had moved to farm the land. Habitants and Merchants in Seventeenth-Century Montreal, 1992, by Louise Dechêne sets the scene: “Winter lasts from December to March; the temperature averages -17°C but can also drop suddenly … French rural architecture was eventually modified to suit these harsh conditions, but only after a long period of trial and error compounded by the settlers’ initial poverty.”

Through OhioLINK I have borrowed books about the history of our state. History of Knox County, 1881, compiled by N.N. Hill, describes the landscape and neighbors my ancestors found upon arrival. “The old Indian trail leading from Greentown to the Wakatomika passed through Harrison and bands of Indians were passing frequently through the township several years after the conclusion of the last war with Great Britain.” I was also able to borrow a published version of the St. Luke Catholic Church records and, among other things, discovered that my great-great-great grandfather Jackson was baptized as a Catholic one week before he married his sweetheart, Miranda.

In our U.S. Catholic Collection I found books on the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, where my great-grandmother grew up. I saw pictures of her family’s church, which no longer stands. It was built for the wave of Irish immigrants who came to work in the steel mills, including her father. The US Catholic Collection has archives and more works that have filled me in on my ancestors’ lives, including The Catholic American Experience, 1980, by T. William Bolts, a Marianist and historian.

You will find genealogy is like traveling in time once you really start to dig in. Enjoy these resources:

- Joan Milligan, Catalog and Metadata Specialist

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