I've been wanting to start a genealogy blog for awhile, but I couldn't figure out what of value I could contribute. Although I, of course, am very excited to discover that my great-great-grandmother's maiden name was Buzzard, you probably don't want to hear about this discovery in great detail unless you share my Buzzard ancestry.
And I'm new to genealogy in general, so I don't have brilliant tips and tricks and resources to share.
So I've decided that I'll share not my discoveries or my research methodologies, but my adventures. I'll write about the things that, as a new genealogist, confuse me or excite me or freak me out. And if you're new too, maybe you'll take comfort in the fact that somebody else is confused or inordinately excited. And if you're experienced, maybe you can share some words of wisdom.
To that end, here is my dilemma of the week: I am not very good at collecting records that are not online.
Oh, I know how to find them, of course. I know that if I would like the death certificate of my great-grandfather, who died in Iowa in 1949, I should contact the Iowa Department of Health, or possibly the county clerk in the county he died in. I know these things. But I am overwhelmed by protocol. Can I actually ask the Department of Health for a death certificate? The website says that I can receive a certified death certificate if I'm a grandchild, but I'm a great-grandchild. Will I go to all the trouble of getting an application notarized and sending fifteen dollars only to have my request turned down?
Well, I don't really need a certified death certificate. Does that mean I can just ask the county clerk? Is it the county clerk I'm asking? I know how to find the address of the Lucas County Courthouse, but I feel silly sending a letter to the wrong person asking for something they might not do.
So the death certificate thing remains a mystery, pending a trip to a notary, but I think I've got one success. On a whim, I emailed the Lucas County Historical Society, asking if their newspaper index included the year 1949, and if so, did it include an obituary for Orlan Wells.
Why, yes, they responded, their index includes 20 articles about Orlan Wells, with tantalizing descriptions like "blaze destroys residence north of Russell," "family injured in runaway," and "candidate for clerk of District Court." (Ah ha! My great-grandfather my have been at one point the county clerk. I wonder if he got letters from confused genealogists.)
So this sends me into my perpetual, "Well, what's the proper protocol here? Do I just ask how much it would be for copies? Maybe they don't do copies. That would be rude to ask for a price when they don't even do copies to begin with." But of course I asked about copies.
And now I'm sending the Lucas County Genealogical Society the fifteen dollar check they asked for. And a little box of chocolates, which they did not ask for, but I'll be contacting the Lucas County Genealogical Society a lot. I figured it can't hurt to begin the relationship with chocolate.