Genealogy Gems: News from the Allen County Public Library at Fort Wayne, No. 200, October 31, 2020
From: Genealogy Gems (
Date: Sat, 31 Oct 2020 23:03:36 -0400
Genealogy Gems: News from the Allen County Public Library at Fort Wayne
No. 200, October 31, 2020

In this issue:
*Giving Thanks
*“Inheritance in America”
*Historic Black Settlements of Ohio
*Technology Tip of the Month: Adobe Elements 2018, the Lasso Selection Tool Group
*PERSI Gems: Harvest
*History Tidbits: Medicinal Recipes
*Library Catalog Insider: WorldCat
*Genealogy Center’s November Programs
*Staying Informed about Genealogy Center Programming
*Genealogy Center Social Media
*Driving Directions to the Library
*Parking at the Library
*Genealogy Center Queries
*Publishing Note

Giving Thanks
by Curt B. Witcher
In just a few weeks Thanksgiving Day will be here. Like much of 2020, this Thanksgiving may be quite different for many of us. Some may be tempted to lament the dearth of things for which to be thankful this year. I really encourage turning that thinking on its head. We should look for all the lemonade we have made with the lemons that filled many of our 2020 days. I want to share some things for which I am grateful.

***I am grateful that together with my colleagues here in the Genealogy Center, we have published our two hundredth issue of “Genealogy Gems” today! That is more than sixteen and a half years of providing information and (I hope!) inspiration to more than eight thousand individuals each month.

***I am grateful for a team here in the Genealogy Center that turned the COVID19 crisis into an opportunity to engage with our customers differently. Participation in our programs, now that they are virtual, has skyrocketed. 2,572 individuals participated in this October’s Family History Month virtual programs. In addition, our ASK email service is providing more advice and scanned documents than ever.

***I am grateful for ancestors who preserved today’s freedoms with their military service. Both my father and father-in-law served, just to name two. The documents and records that evidence those service periods have certainly informed and enlightened family history explorations. (A programming note: We are covering Veterans Day this coming month with programs before, on, and after the day to both honor our veterans and to help us better locate and use military records in our research.)

***For those who have left us this year, particularly those who left very unexpectedly (COVID related or otherwise), I am so very grateful for their time with us and the many lessons they shared with us. That gratitude fills me with at least a little more motivation and inspiration for doing what they did so well.

***I am grateful that technology continues to make this the best of times to find our families’ stories. With Internet access, we can do so much from literally anywhere. This gratitude extends to the wonderful ways technology shortens miles, and brings family and friends close while we still responsibly physically distanced for our health and safety. In our “food and family history” program last week, a participant offered Zoom cooking for Thanksgiving.

Life will continue to be challenging through the rest of 2020. Let’s use those challenges as opportunities to do differently, and to do better, as we pursue, preserve, and present our stories.

“Inheritance in America”
by John D. Beatty, CG
The Genealogical Proof Standard holds that a genealogist should conduct “reasonably exhaustive research.” Part of the exhaustive involves knowing what inheritance laws existed in a particular place and time that may have affected the way our ancestors passed on wealth. Understanding the historical context of will writing, for example, allows researchers to better determine whether a specific will was typical for its time or had unusual provisions. Genealogists need to grasp the changing nature of these laws to determine why an ancestor’s property was divided in a particular way.

Short of going directly to the law books, a helpful book on American probate history is “Inheritance in America from Colonial Times to the Present,” written by Carole Shammas, Marylynn Salmon, and Michel Dahlin (New Brunswick, NJL Rutgers University Press, 1987), Gc 929 Sh1i. This work surveys the prevailing probate laws from 1700 to the late twentieth century and delves deeply into their historical context. The book is cited frequently in scholarly genealogical articles because of the background it provides.

The book opens with a discussion of probate within English common law and how it affected the American colonies before the Revolutionary War. Virginia and the Carolinas followed primogeniture, the English custom that entailed the eldest son receiving full inheritance of real estate and one share of personal estate in cases where the father died intestate. However, in New England and the Middle Colonies, important differences existed. There, eldest sons received only a double share of personalty and realty rather than the English primogeniture model, probably because of a widespread belief that it placed too great a hardship on younger sons. Typically, throughout the colonies, the widow received a dower of one-third of the estate, a provision that carried legal force, but they typically forfeited any personal property that they held prior to marriage to their husbands. Only the royal colonies established chancery courts to settle probate matters, while the dissenter colonies of New England viewed such courts with suspicion.

Of course, when a testator wrote a will, he could divide his estate any way he wished, save for the widow’s dower. The authors explore the different models of what they call “testamentary behavior,” including patterns of inheritance and disinheritance. The degree of patriarchal control that men exercised over families changed over time. The post-Revolutionary period brought an end to primogeniture, and states enacted statutes defining what widows could inherit if they renounced their husbands’ wills. Other states passed laws requiring testators to show intent in their wills when disinheriting a child. By 1800, sons and daughters inherited property equally, but it became commonplace for one heir to buy the others out. When a married woman inherited land from her father, it remained hers even after her husband’s death, though the husband could enjoy all rents and profits from it during his life.

The mid-nineteenth century brought further changes. Married women received more authority to control all real and personal property they had inherited, and they could will it to whom they chose. The book contains extensive tables showing summaries of inheritance laws by state, especially in 1890 and 1982.

“Inheritance in America” is an indispensable book for family historians and offers one of the most readable treatments of the evolution of inheritance law. Whenever you view an ancestor’s will or open a probate packet, you will comprehend its contents with greater clarity for having read this work.

Historic Black Settlements of Ohio
by Melissa Tennant
“Historic Black Settlements of Ohio,” (977.1 M576H) by David Meyer and Elise Meyers Walker, provides a brief overview of forty-four black settlements found among twenty-five Ohio counties. These communities, established prior to the Civil War, were typically rural and primarily inhabited by free blacks or runaway slaves. Individuals were either brought to the area and then manumitted, granted freedom in another state and migrated, or sought safety from a slaveholder. Many residents of these communities were a part of the Underground Railroad. The book, organized alphabetically by county, chronicles some of the original families and individuals in the area, as well as historical events and key details about the community.

Much of the population originated primarily in the states of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Included within the settlement description are such details as the county and state of origin for some of the original settlers, the names of former slaveholders, manumission or runaway details, migration, land purchases, community development, and general life. The accounts also reveal the struggles that developed, such as white settlers who were not pleased at having African Americans in the area. Local resolutions and state legislations were often created to limit or prevent people of color from settling in certain townships and counties. Sources such as local histories, probate records, deeds, newspapers, and others are available in the settlement description or in the notes and bibliography.

The men and women of these settlements developed communities with schools, churches, cemeteries, blacksmiths, farmers, merchants, and more. The area of Ripley, located in Brown County, is the oldest community profiled in the volume with details dating back to 1796.

Along with information on the settlers are the African American historical figures and milestones that contributed to these communities’ histories. Wilberforce University, the oldest African American-established University in the United States, is located in Tawawa Spring, Xenia Township, Greene County.  In 1858, Sarah Jane Woodson of Berlin Crossroads, Milton Township, Jackson County, became the first African American college instructor. John Mercer Langston, the first African American to serve in Congress from Virginia, spent some time as a teenager in the Hicks Settlement, Concord Township, Ross County. J. R. Clifford, West Virginia’s first African American attorney, had lived briefly in the Lett Settlement, Meigs Township, Muskingum County.

“Historic Black Settlements of Ohio” is of interest to researchers exploring African American life in the Midwest and for those seeking information about emancipated former slaves who may have migrated north.

Technology Tip of the Month: Adobe Elements 2018, the Lasso Selection Tool Group
by Kay Spears
Now it’s time to look at the Lasso Selection Tool Group. The Lasso selection group is located in the Select group tool bar. It looks like a lasso, a rather small lasso, but a lasso nonetheless. When you click on the Lasso tool, your tool options should open on the bottom of Adobe’s workspace. There are three Lasso Tools: Lasso Tool, Magnetic Lasso, and Polygonal Lasso. And like everything else in Adobe Elements, each of these tools has options.

There are some things you should think about before you use any of these three tools. These tools require patience and a steady hand. The use of these tools is to select something in an image, and when you do select that “something,” nothing else in the image will be affected. For instance, maybe in the photograph there are three people, but you want to enhance only the person in the middle. One method to do that will be using the Lasso Tools. Let’s start with the Lasso.

The Lasso Tool will test your drawing skills while using a mouse. Try not to curse. The options available for this tool are New, Add, Subtract, Intersect, Anti-aliasing, and Feather. The New, Add, Subtract, and Intersect help in correcting what you’ve done. The Anti-aliasing and Feather help soften the edges. When working with any Lasso Tool, you probably want to zoom in as close as you can to what you are going to work on.

When you select the Lasso, your cursor will change to a Lasso. Hold the left clicker button of your mouse down and draw around the object you want to select. To finish, you need to make sure the ending line you are drawing connects to where you started. This closes the selection, and you should see the little ants marching around the area. You can now work on that selection of the photograph without disturbing the rest.

Magnetic Lasso. This one is scary because it’s one of Adobe Elements “intelligent” tools. I love those intelligent tools! There are the normal options, but we also have four more options: Width, Contrast, Frequency, and Feather. The option of interest here is the Frequency option. The higher the Frequency, the more magnets. Select your Magnetic Lasso, holding your left mouse clicker down, draw around the object. You should be able to see the Magnetic Lasso Magnets sticking to the image. If you make a mistake and go too far using this tool, you may use the Backspace keystroke on your key board to erase the last Magnet, then continue on. Once again, your end drawing must connect with the beginning.

Polygonal Lasso. This is the Lasso Tool I use the most. This one allows me to do some pretty complex selections; it just takes a little bit more time. The tool options for the Polygonal Lasso are the same as the default Lasso. This tool is also made for doing straight line shapes. However, it also is great for detail work. For instance, if you want to select part of the image and the person has some kind of incredible hair, this tool is for you. This tool is sort of a combination of the other two, except instead of the magnetic button, you are the one controlling the in’s and out’s. The way you control your drawing line is to left click with your cursor every time you make a turn. Do this until you go all the way around the object, and once again your end connects to the beginning. Just keep repeating: slow and easy wins the race, or something else just as profound.

Remember, the Lasso Tools are not fast tools. They require a lot of patience, but in the end I think you will like the results.

Next article: Continuing on with Adobe Elements 2018 and the Auto Select tool

PERSI Gems: Harvest
by Adam Barrone and Mike Hudson
For those who found extra time to garden this year, we hope your harvest was bountiful.  Here in northern Indiana, our first freeze has come and gone, marking the end to our growing season.  

For family historians, the growing season is year-round.  There are obituaries to be searched, emails and files to sort, letters to write, relatives to interview, data to enter, books and articles to be write, documents to scan, sources to track, online educational programs to view, and history to preserve.  When the time comes to set your family history to paper, we want you to remember the Genealogy Center as a place to preserve it.

If your project is a book, please let us know by sending us an order form or, even better, by donating a copy or a PDF.  For more information about donating materials, email genealogy [at]

If your family history project is smaller, we hope you will submit it in article form to a publication to which we subscribe.  Editors of genealogy and local history newsletters and journals are always seeking material for publication.  We make these periodicals available on our shelves and catalog the articles so they can be located using PERSI.  Try a search here:

Check out these harvest tales:

Captain William Hillary grew giant stalk of oats, news note, 1852, MD
Dundalk Patapsco Neck (MD) Historical Society Newsletter, Jun. 2010

Benjamin Briley grows turnip that weighs over seven pounds, 1835, NC
Pitt County (NC) Genealogical Quarterly, v.15n.4, Nov. 2008

David Putnam of Harmer has beet 18 inches long, beats B. F. Arnold's, OH
Tallow Light (Washington County Hist. Soc., OH), v.34n.4, Win. 2004

Farmers & Merchants Bank had squash on display, 1925
Spencer (NY) Historical Society Newsletter, Fal. 2009

J. G. Hornback exhibited large pie plant rhubarb stalks, 1917, MO
Clay County (MO) Mosaic, n.1, Jan. 2007

James Johnson of W. O. Bill Penick farm, buys wife Mary Ruth flowers for 7 bushels of corn, 1936
Green County (KY) Review, Win. 2010

Pumpkin used as ballot box, 1872
Kanhistique (KS), v.2n.8, Dec. 1976

Richard Dobson cucumber presented to King George II, note on son Frederick death, 1735, d. 1751
Essex (Eng.) Family Historian, n.123, Mar. 2007

Zach Albaugh biggest, heftiest, lengthiest radish on display at drug store, Somerset Bugle, 1883
Family Branches (Wabash Co. Gen. Soc., IN), v.24n.3, Nov. 2018

History Tidbits: Medicinal Recipes
by Allison DePrey Singleton  
As we research our family histories, we can easily wonder what everyday life was like for our ancestors. For example, how did they deal with injury and illness if they did not have access to medical care? Perhaps our ancestors lived in rural locations without access to doctors or even midwives. Let us explore the medicinal recipes they may have used for treating injuries and illnesses.

Many traditional recipe books for food also contained recipes for medicine. They also may have included instructions on decorating a home, etiquette, child rearing, and practical mechanics. These books contained information that especially women needed for running a household. These wives may not have had even a close neighbor whom they could ask for advice without it taking all day. Hence, these books became precious sources of information.

While women were typically the healers in their families, men were traditionally doctors. The healing knowledge of women was passed down from generation to generation as well as recorded in these recipe books. While medicine and society have come a long way since our ancestors, the medicinal recipes of our ancestors are intriguing for learning what they would have done in certain situations. For example, there is a recipe for easing menses pain, which calls for an inhalant of amyl nitrite and alcohol. (1)  Amyl nitrite is used today as a medication and as a recreational stimulant drug. (2)

The medicinal recipes were typically recorded at the backs of the recipe books. The recipes contained herbs, chemicals, and other ingredients. Today, we would consider some of these ingredients poisonous or dangerous to handle at home. For our ancestors, they may have been the only hope between life and death. Look at your antique family cookbooks and cookbooks from your ancestors’ era. You might learn something new about how your ancestors used to live.

Sources and Further Reading:
Johnson, A. A., Hill, J. M., & Hartshorne, H., MD (Eds.). (1970, January 01). The household companion; comprising a complete cook-book--practical household recipes, aids and hints for household decorations; the care of domestic plants and animals and a treatise on domestic medicine, including a chapter on tuberculosis .. : Johnson, Alice A., [from old catalog] ed : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming. Retrieved October 30, 2020, from
Amyl nitrite. (2020, October 6). Retrieved October 30, 2020, from
Finding recipe manuscripts online. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2020, from
Feeding America. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2020, from
IUPUI. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2020, from
Cookbooks and Home Economics. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2020, from
Food. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2020, from
South Carolina Cookbook Collection. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2020, from
Szathmary Culinary Manuscripts and Cookbooks. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2020, from
(n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2020, from

Library Catalog Insider: WorldCat
by Kasia Young
Raise your hand if you have heard of WorldCat before!

Whether you are a seasoned WorldCat user, or it is the first time you are hearing about it, keep reading, as we are going to share some helpful tips on how to make the most of this free tool.

For those who do not know, WorldCat is the world’s largest network of library content and services. WorldCat lets you search the collections of libraries in your community and thousands more around the world. Pretty impressive, right?

First thing you notice when you access is an option to create a free account. One of the big advantages of creating a WorldCat account is that you can designate favorite libraries. Allen County Public Library, anyone? Favorite libraries appear at the top of your library results when those libraries own the item you are viewing. Another great reason to create an account is the ability to build and maintain private or public lists of books and other materials. You can also track updates on interesting lists created by other WorldCat users, save your favorite search queries, write book reviews, add tags to classify items, and add your interests. When you take advantage of all the features available to you, your WorldCat profile becomes more than just another online account; it becomes your family history discovery toolbox.

We sure hope you take time this month to explore this great tool.

Stay tuned to more WorldCat guides in the coming months!

Genealogy Center’s November Programs
November 3, 2020, 2:30P, “The Forgotten and the Maligned: Using Government Documents for Genealogical Research" with Curt Witcher -

November 5, 2020, 6:30P, “Beginner's Guide to 23andme DNA Testing Company” with Sara Allen -

November 10, 2020, 2:30P, "Over There: World War One Genealogy" with Ronald Darrah -

November 11, 2020, 7P, “Why Should I Look at Revolutionary War Pension Records?” with Melissa Tennant (Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana sponsored program)-

November 11, 2020, 7:30P, “Finding Your German Family History” with Allison DePrey Singleton (Indiana German Heritage Society sponsored program) -

November 12, 2020, 6:30P, “An Overview of Sources for 19th Century Military Records & A Review of the “Our Military Heritage” Website” with Curt Witcher -

November 15, 2020, 2P, “No Language Barrier: Immigrant Clues in Photographs” with Maureen Taylor (Northeast Indiana Jewish Genealogy Society sponsored program) -

November 17, 2020, 2:30P, “Preserving the Past: Sustaining Congregational Archives” with John Beatty -

November 19, 2020, 6:30P, “A Grave Matter” with Jeannie Regan-Dinius -

November 24, 2020, 2:30P, “Read All About It! Free Newspaper Sites to Assist Family Historians” with Melissa Tennant -

Please register in advance for each program.

Staying Informed about Genealogy Center Programming
Do you want to know what we have planned? Are you interested in one of our events, but forget? We offer email updates for The Genealogy Center’s programming schedule.  Don’t miss out!  Sign up at  

Genealogy Center Social Media

Driving Directions to the Library
Wondering how to get to the library? Our location is 900 Library Plaza, Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the block bordered on the south by Washington Boulevard, the west by Ewing Street, the north by Wayne Street, and the east by the Library Plaza, formerly Webster Street. We would enjoy having you visit the Genealogy Center.

To get directions from your exact location to 900 Library Plaza, Fort Wayne, Indiana, visit this link at MapQuest:

>From the South
Exit Interstate 69 at exit 302. Drive east on Jefferson Boulevard into downtown. Turn left on Ewing Street. The Library is one block north, at Ewing Street and Washington Boulevard.

Using US 27:
US 27 turns into Lafayette Street. Drive north into downtown. Turn left at Washington Boulevard and go five blocks. The Library will be on the right.

>From the North
Exit Interstate 69 at exit 312. Drive south on Coldwater Road, which merges into Clinton Street.  Continue south on Clinton to Washington Boulevard. Turn right on Washington and go three blocks. The Library will be on the right.

>From the West
Using US 30:
Drive into town on US 30. US 30 turns into Goshen Ave. which dead-ends at West State Blvd.  Make an angled left turn onto West State Blvd. Turn right on Wells Street. Go south on Wells to Wayne Street. Turn left on Wayne Street. The Library will be in the second block on the right.

Using US 24:
After crossing under Interstate 69, follow the same directions as from the South.

>From the East
Follow US 30/then 930 into and through New Haven, under an overpass into downtown Fort Wayne. You will be on Washington Blvd. when you get into downtown. Library Plaza will be on the right.

Parking at the Library
At the Library, underground parking can be accessed from Wayne Street. Other library parking lots are at Washington and Webster, and Wayne and Webster. Hourly parking is $1 per hour with a $7 maximum. ACPL library card holders may use their cards to validate the parking ticket at the west end of the Great Hall of the Library. Out of county residents may purchase a subscription card with proof of identification and residence. The current fee for an Individual Subscription Card is $85.

Public lots are located at the corner of Ewing and Wayne Streets ($1 each for the first two half-hours, $1 per hour after, with a $4 per day maximum) and the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Harrison Street ($3 per day).

Street (metered) parking on Ewing and Wayne Streets. On the street you plug the meters 8am – 5pm, weekdays only. The meters take credit cards and charge at a rate of $1/hour. Street parking is free after 5 p.m. and on the weekends.

Visitor center/Grand Wayne Center garage at Washington and Clinton Streets. This is the Hilton Hotel parking lot that also serves as a day parking garage. For hourly parking, 7am – 11 pm, charges are .50 for the first 45 minutes, then $1.00 per hour. There is a flat $2.00 fee between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Genealogy Center Queries
The Genealogy Center hopes you find this newsletter interesting. Thank you for subscribing. We cannot, however, answer personal research emails written to the e-zine address. The department houses a Research Center that makes photocopies and conducts research for a fee.  

If you have a general question about our collection, or are interested in the Research Center, please telephone the library and speak to a librarian who will be glad to answer your general questions or send you a research center form. Our telephone number is 260-421-1225. If you’d like to email a general information question about the department, please email: Genealogy [at] ACPL.Info.

Publishing Note
This electronic newsletter is published by the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center, and is intended to enlighten readers about genealogical research methods as well as inform them about the vast resources of the Allen County Public Library. We welcome the wide distribution of this newsletter and encourage readers to forward it to their friends and societies. All precautions have been made to avoid errors. However, the publisher does not assume any liability to any party for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions, no matter the cause.  

To subscribe to “Genealogy Gems,” simply use your browser to go to the website: Scroll to the bottom, click on E-zine, and fill out the form. You will be notified with a confirmation email.

If you do not want to receive this e-zine, please follow the link at the very bottom of the issue of Genealogy Gems you just received or send an email to kspears [at] with "unsubscribe e-zine" in the subject line.

Curt B. Witcher and John D. Beatty, CG, co-editors
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