Honoring a Legend

Today, I learned of the passing of Cletus Suther. For those in the Seneca area, the Suther name is associated with lumber and building. However, in the Nemaha County genealogy world, Cletus’ name is associated with cemeteries.

Before Find a Grave and before the Internet, there was Cletus’ cemetery work. Living in Ohio, Cletus wanted to give back to his Nemaha County roots. Thus, he researched not just one but EVERY cemetery in Nemaha County. Cletus doggedly located the original record holder and transcribed those records into his cemetery notebooks. He then added obituary references for any and all that he could find. Those cemetery notebooks were then FREELY given to the Nemaha County Historical Society and the public libraries in the county.

This body of work was and still is an ENOURMOUS contribution to Nemaha County Genealogy. By using the original records, Cletus’ notebooks contain information for burials with no tombstone.

Thank you Cletus for your dedicated work to compile cemetery information for Nemaha County and for your generosity in freely sharing your work.

Cletus Suther with NCHS President Anita Heiman

What’s It Worth

Have you ever watched a video of your local meteorologist giving a weather update? Or, have you watched a video of a news clip? What about a comedy monologue – have you ever watched any of those on YouTube? Or maybe, you’ve read a news article in your Facebook or Twitter feed? I know I have and I appreciate that I can.

Unfortunately, we have become accustomed to viewing and reading content for free when none of it is free to produce.

The same is true with local history and genealogy. We love locating free resources. But these free resources also have ‘production’ costs.  My local historical society recently discussed whether to continue paying to have images and other information from their collection hosted online by Past Perfect.

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As with most issues, there are pros and cons. In this case, the pro is the ability to connect with people outside of our hours, even outside of the county, while the con is the cost.

Unfortunately, the web presence is not generating much revenue, especially when compared to the cost.  When the cost would cover about three months of electricity to keep the museum open, that is a difficult question.

Fortunately, my local society hasn’t had to make that choice. However, other societies have had to make similar choices. Some are closed in the winter, while some are facing permanent closure. Even my state archives has reduced hours for the winter.

As long as we as a society expect free access, we will continue to see smaller organizations, archives and societies reducing their hours or closing their doors.

So, what can we do? I don’t know about everyone else, but I wouldn’t be able to afford supporting the historical society in every county where my ancestors have lived. However, I can support my local historical society and a genealogical society thru my membership. I can volunteer at my local historical society to assist with research requests.

Is preserving the history of your community important? Do your neighbors feel it is important? Perhaps if we all contributed a little, our history could be preserved in archives and the doors of the archives and local museums could be open. Maybe we would even find those records showing up online.

Is It Worth It?

Locating Local Information

With lots of online information, I feel like I’m forgetting to look for information offline. In the process, I’m also forgetting some of my early research skills.

I’ve recently read several Facebook posts inquiring about who to contact for local information. Thanks to these posts, I’ve been thinking about the question and how I should tackle such a research question. I’ve also been thinking about what I would tell someone looking for Nemaha County, Kansas information.

I believe this question is actually two questions:

  • What type of information (or document) do I need?
  • Where can I find that information (or document)?

The answer to the first question will make it easier to determine where to look for the document. When I first started researching my family history, I would pull the Handy Book (The Handy Book for Genealogists) off of my shelf and turn to the desired state to learn about where I could write (or sometimes go) to obtain the document.

 

handybookKansas480

Included was information for each county stating what documents were available in the county courthouse.

HandybookNemaha

This book still occupies a space on my bookshelf and I still consult it. However, the Internet makes it easier to learn about the availability of records. Below are some of the resources I would check to learn about Nemaha County, Kansas (where I happen to live).

( Note: The issues with RootsWeb being down affected many GenWeb sites, GenWeb Archive sites and the RedBook. Those sites are coming back — but it may take some time.)

The above resources would help me learn about the courthouse, local libraries, local historical societies and possibly provide links to library catalogs, archives, digitized records, books and local newspapers. Since many records were transferred to the state, I would do a similar review of the above resources for the state.

By researching the county/state, I can figure out the best place to contact (or go) to locate the desired information. I need to remember to apply these skills in my research!

 

 

Resurrecting the Old

After a recent query about the old CCC website, I’ve been on a quest to find the old files and get them back on the web. In the process, I’ve discovered a need for

  • a floppy drive – was able to borrow one
  • software to open .epd files (express publisher)
  • software to open .qic files (old backup files)

Unfortunately, I haven’t found the software to access the .epd and .qic files.

Fortunately, most of the old files were in .html format. Thus, I was able to use those old files to re-create the web sites. I elected to use a Google site since it is free and relatively easy to use. In order to get the old files into the new site, I copied the code into the ‘html’ view for each page. This project is still a work in progress, but I have a lot of the old Nemaha County Genealogy Society web site back online.

Within this site, I have included the Civilian Conservation Corps site that was created in 2001 as a student project at Nemaha Valley High School. I am planning to add the files for the other two projects completed at that time: Great Depression and Veterans.

Besides these student projects, I’m hoping to get some of my husband’s work on the web. This would include the 1995 History of Seneca booklet and hopefully the issues of Pioneer Press he wrote along with the Nemaha County cemetery map. (Wish me luck with this! This is the area where I need to find old software and perhaps an old computer.)