Pre-Conference Activities

The day before the conference, Midwestern Roots 2014, I kept myself very busy. I took the day off work and got to the Indiana State Archives at 10 a.m. for a small tour and introduction. I was there until 3 p.m. researching! I needed to do some IN Civil War research on my ancestors, Paul Mayer, John Ford and his son Lyman. I also found my 2nd-great-GF, Amos Ballard, on the 1862 draft list stating he had “disease of the heart” and therefore could not enlist. He was the one who later became a doctor. Also, while looking through the 1862 draft list, I found the name of the man who Paul Mayer is listed as living with on the 1860 census (the first census where Paul is enumerated and I wondered if this man was married to Paul’s sister as they all came from Württemberg). On the census, it was transcribed as “Gasper Seff”; on the 1862 draft list, it’s listed as “Casper Zepf.” Aha! More on that later!

After the Archives, I needed to go to the Indiana Historical Society as I wanted to see the Ballard letters up close and personal. Of course, they are only open until 5 and I’m basically on the opposite side of Indy. Plus, I had had no lunch. I ordered some chilled peach and goat cheese soup and pasta salad online from a place in Indy called Soupremacy (located on the Circle, if you’re ever in town, just go!). I drove down there, called them, and they ran it out to me! Super service! Off to the Historical Society.

I drove around the block a couple times trying to figure out parking; however, I realized what to do, pulled in, and got a great spot. I made it to the Historical Society Library at 4 p.m. (after a few bites of soup and salad!).

There was just so much to see and do at the Historical Society, and, of course, I had only mere minutes. I made my way to the Library, already had the call number on hand, and my materials were brought to the reading room for me. How awesome it was to see and practically touch the same letters my ancestors had written and read, the earliest from 1833 and written by my 4th-great-grandparents. They can be viewed online here:

It was an entirely different feeling to see them in person. I had copies made, as many as I could afford and with the time I had. One letter was written by the sister of my 3rd-great-GM about their mother’s passing. One of the most touching things I’ve read to date.

From the Historical Society, I dashed off to my hotel to check in and get ready for the final event of the day, The Google Earth Genealogy Game Show, held at the Indianapolis Public Library in downtown Indy. It was the first time I had visited their library, and it is gorgeous! The speaker was Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems Podcast, and she took us on a tour of Google Earth using historical questions in game show-style fashion. Lots of fun!

I have used Google Maps a lot in the past but never Google Earth and, boy howdy, what have I been missing! I’ve got a lot of learning to do with Google Earth but what a neat and fun app, especially when used with genealogy!

Afterward, yummy refreshments were served at a reception and then I was on my way back to the hotel for the evening for some much-needed rest and to prepare for the first day of the conference.

I will leave you with this quote I saw at the Indianapolis Public Library:

“Light captured in words won’t hide in shadow; it emerges to illuminate life.”

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