Friday, September 16, 2011

Sometimes You Just Have to Be Patient

When I retired I decided to try to locate information on my family.  Since I didn't know anything about genealogy I thought taking a class would be a good idea.  Gadsden State Community College had a continuing education program and genealogy was a choice.  For six weeks we were taught where to look and what kind of records to watch for. The last week of class we made two field trips. 

The first to the Georgia Archives believe me, that was a disaster.  There was so much to see I did very little more than just look at the choices for research (my future trips were much better).  The second field trip was to the Alabama State Archives, this time I was ready or so I thought.  I had names, birth dates, death dates, pencils, notepads and change for the copier.  I spent most of the day looking for that "Jones" ancestor who left with aliens after hiding his family from the census taker for 10 - 20 years.  After deciding that was hopeless, I decided to look for my grandmother's family.  I should have been checking this family the entire time since there aren't many PA records in Etowah County, AL. But remember I was new to genealogy.  So finally I started to look for my Gerber ancestors.  I quickly found my great grandfather in the 1870 census of York, PA.  Then church records revealed his baptism and that of his brothers.  I found a marriage record in Hamilton County, TN, now I know the maiden name of my great grandmother, Rosa Lee Rodgers.  The 1900 census of Jefferson County, AL finds the family in a mining camp in Bessemer, AL with their young children.  The  oldest child is a son Jasper Gerber, age 10.  In 1910 the family has grown by two children, but there is no record of Jasper Gerber.  Just as we were about to leave the Archives, someone asked if I had looked at the book they had and that there was a Jasper Gerber in it.   That book was an index of loose records for Jefferson County, AL and there was an estate record shown for Jasper Gerber and an LDS film number where the record could be found. I copied all of the information and knew I wanted to order the film.  At that time you had to make an appointment to use the local family history center.  I tried but without being able to contact anyone, I put that piece of paper in my Gerber notebook. 

Now more than 10 years later,  Nichols Memorial Library recently became an affiliate library for Family Search.  The first film I ordered was the Jefferson County, AL loose records, 1901-1903.  After what seemed like forever we received the film and I found out that Jasper Gerber had died.  The estate record involved  an insurance payment from Birmingham Mining Company to his parents due to the death of Jasper Gerber, a child under age 14.  While I have one answer, it leads to many more questions concerning his death.  This does show that we should always follow through on any small clue and most of all keep those little research notes, you never know what they might lead you to find.

I'm sure becoming an affiliate library was a good thing for Nichols Library and our researchers.  I'm glad I was patient and kept that little note, now as Paul Harvey would say I need to find "the rest of the story",

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