This weekend I was fortunate to be able to join my fellow Midwestern Geneabloggers for a wonderful time of research, sharing, and learning while visiting the Allen County Public Library (ACPL). A lot of people don’t know this, but the ACPL is the next best thing to the Salt Lake City Library. Needless to say, I was very excited about the possibility of seeing some books and records that I haven’t been able to see firsthand. Not to mention getting to hang out with my fellow genealogists and share stories!
You may be wondering how "geneabloggers” meet. First of all, there are lots of hugs. Though some of us had only met “online” it was like catching up with old friends. Many of the group had driven together from their area. There was a contingent from the Chicago area, Canada, St. Louis area, Fort Wayne (so convenient for them!), and of course our gang of Ohio Gals- Shelley Bishop, Stephanie Fishman, and me. Though it was a three hour drive for us- the time flew by! We were discussing all kinds of things like what was going on in our families and our own personal histories and even discussing the challenges of learning the ways to document our sources while researching. I loved it! I felt like my brain was a sponge absorbing all this great information and I was inspired to do so much more. Ah if only I didn’t need to sleep at night… I could fit in all that I dream of doing!
After arriving at the library (which is rather impressive with a huge atrium and beautiful marble floors) we made a beeline for the Genealogy Department. There we were greeted by Tina Lyons who had put together the event and was our local guide. She gave us a personal tour of the department and we quickly took over several tables and began to gather books. I had gathered a large stack of books on Michigan City and La Porte County, Indiana to see if there were any clues I had missed from my past visits to the library in Michigan City. I was pleased to see a few books that were new to me and I began to pour through for my family surnames of Krueger, Morse, and Shon.
There were a few new tidbits that I was gathering, but mostly I was confirming things that I already knew. As we researched we whispered back and forth and welcomed other bloggers as they arrived. Several of the ladies were tweeting to others about what we were up to, but I chose to try and take advantage of the time in the library to do research. I did get to meet the famous (infamous?) Thomas MacEntee of the geneabloggers site and he was so sweet and friendly. It’s funny when you’ve watched webinars taught by these folks and then you get to meet them in person. I tend to be in awe a bit, but then you get to know them and realize what down to earth, cool people they really are.
When the library closed at 6pm we went over to an Irish Pub called O’Donnells and met up with more of our group. It was a fun atmosphere and I sat with Shelley and Susan and got to know them a bit more. Jen Holek had just gotten her wonderful genealogy series for kids published and we were all excited to see them in print. They definitely have wonderful lessons for use as a home schooling series or even for teachers. I’m sure someone I know will be getting a book or two from the series as a gift!
The next day was another marathon of genealogy research. We got to the library a bit before 10am and gathered for a tour of the facility with one of the librarians. Once we made the rounds we all settled in and got to our research. I continued with my list of surnames and counties in Indiana and found a few bits of information that was useful. I think I was getting a bit tired because eventually I thought the titles of some of the books were pretty funny: “People of Pulaski County, Indiana”, “Some Pulaski County People, Indiana”, and “Tidbits of Pulaski County, Indiana Courthouse”. I just kept thinking, “Can’t they come up with better titles than that?”.
Later a group of about eight of us went back to the Irish pub and actually had the same waitress again! How funny! Back to the research! I started looking at some of my “brick walls” when I returned to the library. Soon I was combing the shelves for books that might reveal the secrets of my ancestors. I had some minor success in finding books on my Maine relatives. I will have to spend more time on this in the future because there were several shelves on Thomaston, Friendship, and Meduncook Plantation. I did find a surname that I had not known before and that was pretty cool.
Just before 6pm I gathered up my stuff and got ready to join the rest of the group at Tina Lyons’ house. She had invited everyone over to have pizza and hang out. I must say that the “hanging out” was my favorite part of the whole weekend. Interesting conversations and thought provoking questions (thanks to Thomas) made me realize how much I still have to learn! It was a wonderful weekend and I can’t wait till we get together again. In the meantime, I have a lot more blogs to read and new friends to keep in touch with online. What fun!