Last week, I was very busy with my family as we took our family vacation. I feel fortunate though in that I was able to work in a number of genealogy-related activities, so the next several posts will be dedicated to sharing my experiences during the vacation. I will also be posting more general items on my family website and will focus on the genealogy activities here. Our vacation began August 1, when we drove up to Evansville. I have four bonus sons (that’s my new term for them, seems to be how the celebrities refer to their stepfamilies :-)) and two of them live there. In all, the kids are ages 14, 12, 11, 8 and then Kaleya is 4. See my family site for an overall synopsis of the day.
While we were there however, I was able to go to the Evansville Public Library for a few hours and get some genealogy work in. I went for the expressed purpose of retreiving obituaries. I am trying to verify if one of the interviewees in the Slave Narratives Project is an ancestor of Kalonji’s aunt. I’ve blogged about the specifics for the blog of the Tri-State Indiana Genealogical Society and needed to do some follow-up based on some information I was able to find online.
Those in the Evansville area have on hand a wonderful resource, the Browning Genealogy Database, and I used the index to locate details of obits I wanted to look at. However, I learned this day, of a major limitation of the Browning database — Evansville had two major papers over the last several decades and when the obits were abstracted for the database, there is no indication of which paper the obit was published in. This meant I needed to often search both papers for the obit of interest. Also, the database gives death date, not obit date, so I still had to search across several days to find the obits of interests. That said, I’m better off for having this handy index than not!
The EVPL has an interesting computer use model that I’ve not yet encountered, but thought it was a good idea. If you are not an account holder, you pay $1 for two hours (continous or not) of computer use. With this, I was able to access the internet as I needed. Also, the microforms area has a microfilm reader connected to a computer for making digital copies of articles of interest. Sweet!
I was not able to find the most important obit I needed, that of George Washington Fortman Jr. According to the Browning Database, he died June 6, 1934 and there as an obit in one of the papers that listed his family members. All I was able to locate was a death notice for him that appeared in the Evansville Press on June 9, 1934 where he is included in a list of deaths recorded in the city, but this notice has no family details. I looked in both papers across a 10 day period and never found the obit I was looking for.
But, this does at least confirm that he died somewhere around that time frame. I am searching for information about George’s father. In the 1930 census, his father’s name is listed as George Ford, but in the Browning Database entry, it is listed as George Fortman Sr. Since this George was a Jr., the Fortman name makes sense. In the slave narrative interview, George Ford (the interviewee) apparently goes by both surnames. This, in addition to some other details being similar between the George that I *know* to be the Sr. and the slave narrative interviewee have me considering that they may be the same person. I am seeking verification though, so my next steps will be to
1) order the death certificate of George Washington Forman Jr. Perhaps it will be more clear on his father’s name
2) to also see if I can contact a living daughter of George Jr.s to see if she can shed any light on this.
The interview details are absolutely fascinating so I do hope I can let Kalonji’s aunt know if this is part of her ancestry or not. You can read the interview here.
While at the public library, I did copy some other articles of interest that is no relation to my quest, so I could use it as fodder for the Tri-State Genealogical Society Blog. I’m not yet a member, but I regularly submit content for the blog. The newspaper articles I have as a result of this trip should give me great posts for the next several weeks.
All this in just day one of my trip. More to come later!