I don’t know if it was the time difference or the excitement, but I got very little sleep Friday night. I awoke at some hour when humans shouldn’t even be conscious and couldn’t get back to sleep. So I tinkered with my research plans and stuff until it was at least a respectable time to get breakfast.
I headed over to the Willard Library and arrived just as they were opening. The age of the building was evident right away. When you can make noise just by standing still, the building is pretty old. There is a beautiful staircase to the second floor where the genealogy area is located. It makes noise too. Particularly when you’re lugging a box of research and your laptop bag to the top. (This is also before I realized there was an elevator in the back). And wearing boots.
When I got upstairs, I got a brief tour of the place and staked my claim at one of the tables (making sure there was access to an outlet so I could plug in my power-suck of a laptop). The first thing I did was check out the section where they keep all the family histories. Unfortunately, there was nothing for Heerdink or Stiker, but I did find a Diefenbach family history that included my Heerdink great great grandparents.
The information was sparse, but it provided a couple of clues that I used to finally link my great great grandmother to the people I suspected were her parents! I found a death certificate for her father that showed he died by accidental drowning, and made a note to look for a newspaper article about that – surely it would have been newsworthy back in 1903. Update: I found absolutely nothing about his death. Not even an obituary.
Next, I waltzed over to the section with all the books about Vanderburgh County. This section was huge (probably because we are in Vanderburgh County). There were a lot of indexes to obscure records, and I felt like such a glutton pulling book after book off the shelves. I might have even been drooling a little. I felt so bad for the librarian because she asked that we not reshelve our books (they use the statistics to get their funding), but I got over that in a hurry. I found references to several death notices in the German newspaper – The Evansville Taglicher Demokrat – for my Diefenbachs, as well as birth and death indexes for my Stikers and Heerdinks. I even found a transcribed church record book for St. Joseph Catholic Church! Can you say motherlode?
I also browsed through the “loose papers” searching for anything on any of my families … nada. I am really beginning to think I’m the only person ever to research these people.
On Sunday, I wanted to find all the newspaper articles, all the birth, death, and marriage records for all my Diefenbachs, Heerdinks, and Stikers, and break down all my brick walls. The problem is that I only had 4 hours to do it. Needless to say, I didn’t get done. I’ll be making another trip up here for sure.
My grand plan also included visiting the cemeteries in the area (mainly St. Joseph, Oak Hill, and Locust Hill) and finding the graves of my peeps. Unfortunately, even when you are armed with lot numbers, it is still almost impossible to find a particular grave when the office isn’t open.
Eventually I’ll be able to put all this new information together into some coherent structure. When that’s done, I will definitely be sharing it.
So now I’m back in my hotel room, trying to relax a little bit before I leave in the morning and head to Indianapolis to hang out with a couple of cousins (one known, one new!) before I head to Ft. Wayne – FGS Conference and Allen County Public Library. I have a very exciting week ahead of me!
Do we share ancestors? Email me: lostancestors AT gmail DOT com
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