Old Settlers and pioneers in Indiana

Throughout the year many Hoosiers visit local festivals, heritage days and other events celebrating pioneer settlers. It is an opportunity to learn about history and share a spirit of community. While Indiana was not settled in the same manner as the original colonies, there were many pioneering people who moved into the territory that would become the Hoosier state. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a pioneer is “one of the first to settle in a territory.” By the mid-1800s, Indiana was mostly settled, and many of those first pioneers began gathering at “old settlers” meetings where they recalled their history and honored the oldest among them.

According to the September 1907 issue of the Indiana Magazine of History, the earliest recorded old settlers’ meeting in Indiana took place in 1852 at the city of Madison, inviting all who had lived in Jefferson County as of 1820 or before. Old settlers’ meetings were announced in town and city newspapers around the state. Luckily for researchers, it is becoming easier to find accounts of those meetings as more and more historical newspaper issues are added to digital collections such as Hoosier State Chronicles, Newspaper Archive and Newspapers.com.

As the old settlers’ meetings were organized into formal associations and societies, this drew the interest of the Indiana State Board of Agriculture, the organizers of the Indiana State Fair. In the summer of 1878, the Board of Agriculture formed a committee to plan a State Pioneer Convention for Oct. 2, 1878 during the state fair. The announcement of the Pioneer Association of Indiana stated that “all pioneers seventy years of age, who have been residents of the state forty years, will be admitted free to the state fair.” This was the first statewide effort to recognize and enumerate Indiana’s pioneers. Notable speakers attending were poets James Whitcomb Riley and Sarah T. Bolton, and their poems were reprinted in the 1878 proceedings that were included within the Board of Agriculture’s annual report. Of particular interest to family researchers is the “List of applicants for membership,” twelve pages listing, name, address, age and years in state.

The success of the inaugural meeting led to another gathering of the renamed Indiana Pioneer Society at the 1879 Indiana State Fair. Four pages of members are listed in the 1879 proceedings. While the Indiana Pioneer Society did not have a third convention, its board continued meeting at least through 1885. The organization’s legacy continues because it raised the profile of local old settlers’ associations and promoted their efforts to compile county histories, many being printed in the 1880s. Various other relics of old settlers’ meetings can be found in the Indiana State Library’s collections, including souvenir programs, proceedings, pamphlets and bound compilations. In addition, look for links to digitized books in the County History Holdings guides.

A letter printed in the May 13, 1896 Indianapolis Journal from J. W. Hervey, of Indianapolis expressed a wish to restart the state pioneer association. However, this did not happen until the 1916 state centennial celebration, when an interest was re-kindled by descendants of Indiana’s old settlers. As a result, the Society of Indiana Pioneers was formed and exists to this day.

This blog post was written by Indiana Division Librarian Andrea Glenn. For more information, contact the Indiana Division at (317) 232-3670 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes… Marriage Records?

One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of genealogy is locating original records that document your ancestors’ lives. Finding original marriage records are no exception to this.

Unlike birth and death records, marriage records in Indiana date back to the establishment of each individual county. To this day, original marriage records are kept by the Clerk of Courts office in each of the 92 counties. If you know the date and place of your ancestors’ marriage, the research is easy: contact the county and request the record. What if you don’t know when or where your ancestors were married? What if the county where they got married doesn’t seem to have the record? Where do you go next? Continue reading

Information at Your Fingertips: Exploring ISL’s Online Resources

So many roadblocks can put a screeching halt to a genealogist’s quest to find his or her lineage. The disheartening fact that the records do not exist can often be a turning point. While such matters can put a damper on your research efforts, exploring resources in unfamiliar territory is often a source of hope. Vastly different records can be found in the numerous databases that exist and can be very helpful in providing clues to put the genealogy puzzle pieces in place. The Indiana State Library provides access to numerous databases that serve as rich resources and sometimes provide much needed information. Continue reading

‘Happy Birthday, Indiana’ Bicentennial Manuscript Collection: An Introduction

Between June 10th and June 29th, 1816, the first Indiana Constitutional Convention met at the territorial capital, Corydon, and created the Constitution for admission to the Union. Friday, December 11, 2015, marked the 199th anniversary of the day President James Madison signed the act admitting Indiana as the 19th state.

Constitutional Elm 1921-1925

Constitutional Elm, Corydon, Indiana, circa 1921-1925; Delegates to the 1816 constitutional convention worked under the shade of this tree.

The official countdown to Indiana’s 200th birthday began when over 120 fourth grade students participated in several Statehood Day activities at the library, including the creation of birthday cards. To learn more about the day, please visit our previous blog post.

Statehood Day 2015 Coloring_web

Statehood Day, December 11, 2015;Students participate in creating birthday cards for Indiana’s birthday

The bicentennial manuscript collection project was drafted in April 2014 and endorsed by the Bicentennial Commission in late 2014. Beginning in January 2016, fourth grade students from around the state will be asked to decorate special, acid-free birthday cards supplied by the library while briefly explaining “Why do you love Indiana?” andIBCLegacyProject_web “What does being a Hoosier mean to you?” The completed collection will include around 10,000 cards from each county and will be preserved for many generations with other notable collections, including William Henry Harrision, Abraham Lincoln and Helen Keller correspondence as well as the Treaty of St. Mary’s.

The first 500 cards received by June 1, 2016 will be on display in the Indiana State Library Exhibition Hall during the summer of 2016. If your class or student would like to participate, please contact a regional planner from the map or Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division Supervisor at bfiechter@library.IN.gov.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bicentennial Manuscript Regional Coverage Map_web

This blog post was written by Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts Supervisor. For more information, contact the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division at (317) 232-3671 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm

 

This Week in Indiana History: Unigov

January 1, 1970

On this week in Indiana history, Unigov went into effect. It consolidated the city of Indianapolis with Marion County, and dramatically increased the size of the city. This let the city keep up with recent population growth and trends.

Due to Unigov, Indianapolis became the 12th most populated city in Amer-ica overnight. However, it wasn’t without opposition. The re-organization and the expansion of the city into the outer suburbs would dramatically in-crease the voting population, and change the political environment of the city.

Unigov graphic

This information packet included important information about Unigov for Indianapolis citizens. You can read it, and many more items like it, at the Indiana State Library.

Continue reading

The Perils of Open Information

open_source_flickr_nengard_cropped

These days in the Information Sciences community, we hear a lot of buzz surrounding the phrases open source, open information, and open access.

So, what exactly is… open… about these things? Continue reading

Evernote Assists Genealogists in Tracking Research

Genealogy remains one area of research where the latest trends in technology are often overlooked, especially in the area of digital organization. Family historians utilize searchable databases, internet searches, and digitization projects, but overlook one very powerful tool of organization: Evernote. In the search for an elusive ancestor or lost records, genealogists often amass a large amount of records or documents in both digital and print form. This collection of records can be gathered and archived with Evernote, a free, web-based downloadable program that allows users to collect and organize all their documents in one place.  Evernote has emerged as a clear winner for genealogy research, “It’s no exaggeration to say that this tool will change your research life. Evernote gives you a place to organize all your genealogical data,” stated Kerry Scott in the November 2015 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Evernote

Continue reading

The Hidden History of the Indiana State Library

Giving tours of the Indiana State Library building and highlighting its architectural details keeps the staff connected with both the library’s history and our state’s history. Before the current 1934 building existed for the Indiana State Library, the library was housed within the “new” Indiana State House, occupying four rooms in the third floor south wing from 1888 to 1933. Those rooms are presently offices for the Legislative Services Agency and Indiana House of Representatives.  If you are an architecture aficionado, do not pass up the opportunity offered by the Statehouse Tour Office to tour Indiana’s beautiful 1888 State House. Continue reading

New Genealogy Division Supervisor Stephanie Asberry

If you attended the Genealogy and Local History Fair or have stopped by the library in the past few months, you may have noticed Stephanie Asberry. Stephanie started at the Indiana State Library (ISL) this summer as the new genealogy division supervisor andStephanie_2_web has successfully acclimated herself into her new job. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Stephanie and have a conversation about her experiences so far at the library.

RB: You come to the ISL from the Tennessee State Library. Tell me about where you went to school, what you were doing in Tennessee, and how you came here…

SS: I did my undergrad at Ball State.

RB: Oh yeah? What year?

SS: Well, I graduated in 1992. I’m putting an age on myself right there [Chuckling] and then I went to Oregon State…I did my undergrad in political science and then I went to Oregon State and got a degree in History. Then I moved to Michigan and completed my Master of Library Science at Wayne State University. I graduated in 2004 from there. When I was at Ball State my family moved down to Nashville, so that was one of the first resumes I sent out when I was getting ready to graduate. Continue reading

It’s Our War, Too!: The WAC at Camp Atterbury during WWII

Ever wonder when women were first allowed to serve in the U.S. Army (besides nurses)? The answer is 1942!

Technician 5th grade Norma Boudreau and Master Sergeant Louis Dovilla with posters of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms, July 12, 1943

Technician 5th grade Norma Boudreau and Master Sergeant Louis Dovilla with posters of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms, July 12, 1943

With the United States embroiled in World War II, the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) was established on May 15, 1942 as a noncombatant auxiliary to the army. The corps was renamed the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) upon its full incorporation into the army on July 1, 1943, enlisting each new recruit with the goal of “releasing a man from service.” Continue reading