Sunday, March 16, 2014

Antique Store Finds: Introduction



 The past year I’ve switched my focus to completing graduate school and starting my librarian career. That has caused me to put off updating this blog and a number of other things. Now I’ve graduated, I have a good job, and I’m back with a number of ideas for future posts. One is the Antique Store Find.

A few years ago, an item caught my eye when I entered a small antique store in Clarksville, Missouri. I picked it up briefly and went on. As I walked around the shop, it kept calling me back. I didn’t fall in love with it, have a practical purpose for it, or even desire it. But somehow I knew two things: 1) it didn’t belong there and 2) it was supposed to leave with me. Twenty-five dollars later, it was mine, but I was still unsettled because I didn’t feel like it was really mine.

The item was a scrapbook from a girl’s grade school graduation in the late 1920s.




The book was filled with a stenciled illustrations, congratulatory cards, and memories. What a beautiful piece it was.





I was bugged that the book was separated from those to whom it might mean something special… not likely to be the owner, who was probably dead, but to her descendants, siblings, nephews, nieces, etc. As neat as the book was, I didn't really want to keep it because it had no personal significance to me.

As I read proper nouns – people and places in the girl’s life – I wondered if I would be able to use my research skills to discover who she was, develop her family tree, and locate her survivors.

Through death certificates, obituaries, and census records, I did so. The girl, from St. Louis, died as an elderly woman. She was survived by her sister, who still lived in the St. Louis area and whom I was able to telephone. When I described the journal and the names in it – including a classmate who later became the girl’s husband—the sister explained that the book probably got confused with other items when the girl’s house was cleaned out. She had no idea how it ended up in Clarksville, which is some two hours north of St. Louis. I sent her the book. As far as I know, it’s still safe in her possession. 

Since then, I’ve occasionally purchashed old scrapbooks and photographs in antique malls or stores. Including the Girl Graduate journal, I’ve been able to reroute four items to relatives or researchers. All of these people have reimbursed me for the initial purchase (usually $1 or $2 for photographs), so I am breaking even and keeping genealogy a relatively low-cost hobby.  

In the future, I intend to use this blog to document the occasional photo or scrapbook search when I hit a brick wall in my research or in finding someone to take the photo. I will include the names and locations (I chose not to do so in this post to respect the privacy of the owner). If you see your ancestor, contact me, and the photo is yours. 

When I go through photos in antique stores, I’m always saddened to see so many without my prerequisites for purchase: name(s), location, and reasonable price. I can’t possibly purchase all of the photos I see that meet these prerequisites. Still, I love making someone's day by providing a photo of a long-gone relative. That’s the thing with ancestors being long-gone… we think we won’t get any more of them. But we can. People leave traces of who they were everywhere they lived. And sometimes in Clarksville too.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Update: Little Rock City League

A researcher from the Arkansas Baseball Encyclopedia recently contacted me about my research of the Little Rock City Baseball League in 1911.  I shared the articles of the Hubs' 1911 season, and their page on the City League has been updated to include team names and managers. 

A detailed profile of player "Wild Bill" Luhrsen, my great-grandfather's brother, includes a photograph of Bill as a young man.  He bears a striking resemblance to Gus. 

Many thanks to the Arkansas Baseball Encyclopedia for the great research efforts you have taken in chronicling the history of the Little Rock City League. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Arkansas History Commission



Arkansas History Commission

One Capitol Mall
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
(501) 682-6900
http://www.ark-ives.com/

Monday-Saturday 8:00 a. m. – 4:30 p. m.


According to EncyclopediaofArkansas.net, the Arkansas History Commission and State Archives “is the official state archives of Arkansas and houses the state’s largest collection of documents, publications, photographs, and other material relating to Arkansas history.”  Read more about the history of the History Commission here.


Collections

The Arkansas History Commission has many primary and secondary sources for researchers to use.  These include manuscripts, newspaper archives, county records, military records, books and maps, photographs, land records, and a biographical index file that contains information from obituaries and other sources.  More information on holdings is available at their website.

Research Requests

The History Commission does not do research for users. 


Procedures
  1. Bring government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license).
  2. Sign in and complete a registration form.
  3. Bring cash.  There are no ATMs on site. 
  4. No use of cell phones or other personal copying equipment is permitted. 
  5. The only fees are for duplication.  Printing from a computer or photocopier is $0.10 per page.  Fees vary by size for photo duplication and map reproduction. 
  6. Printing microfilm is $0.25 per page.  Money must be pre-loaded on a card.  The card must be loaded with a minimum of $1.00 and the money is nonrefundable.    The staff will not make change, and there are no refunds, so unless you intend to print a lot of pages or don’t mind losing the money, bring $1 bills.
  7. Directions to the State Capitol Complex are on the Arkansas History Commission website.


The Research Topic

My ancestor Gus Luhrsen, born in Iroquois County, Illinois, lived in North Little Rock, Arkansas with his aunt, uncle, and two of his brothers who ended up settling in the area for good.  Gus was the older brother of William “Wild Bill” Luhrsen, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1913 season. 

In August 2009, my cousin gave me a copy of a picture of Gus wearing a baseball uniform that reads “HUB.”  The date printed at the bottom was 1911, and “Gus Luhrsen” was written on the side of his headshot.  Looking at the photo, I could tell that it was Gus.  The cousin told me that he was on a local team while he was young man; he was 28 in 1911.   She said she would be interested to know more about the team, and that I could keep the copy to reference when I researched. 



I could find nothing about the team online, and numerous phone calls led me to an Arkansas baseball expert who hadn’t heard of the team but who gave my question to a local baseball historian.  This man and his wife took time out of their own research to look into the question of who the Hubs were, and I am still so grateful for their help.  The two articles they shared with me gave me hope that there were more about the 1911 baseball season.  I hoped I might find some mention of Gus by visiting the Arkansas History Commission myself.  


The Results

First I looked up several obituaries for Arkansas relatives in the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas-Democrat GazetteThen I sped through the Gazette for mentions of the Hubs in 1911.  What I learned is that the team was started that year by the owner of the Hub Clothing Company, which was located at 114 Main Street.  The other teams were Argenta, Bakers’ Union, C. Wells, Fort Roots, Lloyd’s, and Uniteds (United Clothing Company).  Together they formed the Little Rock City League. 

The Hubs won the championship that year. I don’t know if the teams played in subsequent years.  The articles did not mention Gus, but it is clearly him in the photograph, so perhaps he served in a managerial position.


Comments

I intend to post more information about the Hubs and the City League season as I transcribe the articles.  If you are interested in reading the Hubs articles I have found, I will share them if you leave your contact information below.  If you know anything about the history of any of the Arkansas teams, or if you have a similar photo, please leave a comment. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

State Historical Society of Missouri in Columbia



Earlier this month I visited the State Historical Society of Missouri on the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia, also known as MU/Mizzou. 





State Historical Society of Missouri

(573) 882-7083 1020 Lowry Street

Columbia, Missouri 65201



Procedures

1. Park.  Parking is the only unpleasant part of going to the State Historical Society.  I had a 15-minute walk from my car to the State Historical Society because I had to park off the main campus in the campus housing part of Columbia.  




2. Find your way to the Ellis Library, which is on the main campus.  Bring a map, or ask any of the hundreds of students walking around to point it out.
 

Ellis Library

3. Find the State Historical Society.  There is more than one entrance, but do not use the main entrance to Ellis Library. 




4. Check in at front desk: Show a state ID card, receive a user card, and sign in.
 

5. Take all personal belongings except pencils, paper, binders, flash drives, etc. to lockers down the hall (including all bags, food and beverages).  A locker is large enough to hold a purse of almost any size.  It locks when a quarter is inserted; this is refunded after use.

6. There are no fees for using the library or its equipment.  Photocopying costs 25 cents per page.


Holdings Include:
Numerous books for all Missouri counties
Missouri newspapers on microfilm
City directories
Family surname index covering hundreds of books in the collection


I had two objectives:

·         Objective 1: Check the family surname index (not online- it’s a vintage-looking library card catalog) for people in my family tree
o   Result: I found a few items of interest, but nothing major.  There might be something more there for me at a future date.  I am not yet ready to start researching an ancestor named William Lewis for fear that I will spend the rest of my life sorting through all of the William Lewises in Missouri.    
·         Objective 2: Check newspapers for records of important family events (primarily obituaries)
o   Result: One of the newspapers I wanted to see was checked out, but the librarian helped me find an alternative.  I was only able to find a few obituaries for my ancestors.  That’s research, though.  I was fortunate enough to locate a birth announcement for my great-grandfather.  In 1893, he and his twin brother made the second set of twins in their family.  This must have been a newsworthy item in the days before fertility treatments increased the chances of multiple births.   


Setting and Staff: The library was well-staffed and quiet: no loud talking or phones constantly ringing.  Though on the campus of a notorious party school, undergraduate students don't hang out in the State Historical Society between classes.  The librarians were helpful, friendly, and very prompt when they retrieved items from the stacks. The microfilm machines are all new and easy to use after a librarian explained how one operated.  The images I saved to flash drives were as good as or better than most microfilm machines provide.  



Surprises: The State Historical Society has books from other states (I guess “State Historical Society” had me convinced the collections would be Missouri-only).  I could have looked at books for counties in Tennessee, where many ancestors came from, but ran short on time. 



Can’t Go There? The State Historical Society will do a research request for a fee.

http://shs.umsystem.edu/research/requestform.php



Dining: And after a long day of research, you’ll probably be starving.  Go to the downtown location of Shakespeare’s Pizza, which is less than ½ mile away.  It was voted the Best College Hangout in the United States (according to Good Morning America in 2010) and has excellent pepper cheese pizza.