Friday, August 6, 2010

Great Resources for Research

The following are excellent resources for anyone interested in Summers County history and/or conducting research on their family from the general area:

-Summers County History, 1984 by the Summers County Genealogical Society.
(a copy is on file with Concord University. There may also be a copy at the Summers
County Library).

This book is very informative and includes compiled information and photos from a number of other sources.

-Historical Genealogy of the Basham, Ellison, Hatcher, Lilly, Meadow, Pack, Walker and Other Families, by Charles Silas Hatcher, 1908, unpublished.
(a copy is on file at both Summers Co. and Raleigh Co. libraries).

Hatcher's book is probably the most unbiased written account of the history of these families.
It is not error free. For instance: Hatcher claims that First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes was related to the Packs and other families. I traced her genealogy and did not come up with that conclusion. She was a Cook on her mother's side and her family originated out of Kentucky. She was a very popular first lady which might account for all the fuss.

-History of Summers County, James H. Miller, 1908.
For all its inaccuracies, hyperbole, and political gamesmanship, the book is an interesting read. If you find information about your own family here, double check the information!

-Lilly Family History 1566-1997.
(most are in private ownership- check with a member of the current Lilly Reunion Board)

The Lilly family did a first class job researching their family and descendants. It is an intelligent and carefully researched book. It includes information on cemeteries and anecdotes about various Lillys throughout history. It also contains excerpts from Hatcher's book, maps of the village of Lilly, and lots of photos.

-Cemetery Records of Summers County/Cemetery Records of Monroe
(Monroe County cemetery record can be found at the Raleigh County and Monroe
County Libraries)

Of course, I only researched specific people from my own tree and where they are buried.
Be very patient if you go in search of a cemetery/tomb. Roads change over time, and cemeteries can fall into disrepair. I discovered a few cemeteries of my ancestors had been plowed over by private owners. Do not get frustrated: people just assume that if a cemetery hasn't been visited in decades that no one then cares. Many cemeteries were (and continue to be) on private farms throughout Summers (and what was once Mercer/Monroe).

I should add that the books sometimes assume someone is buried in a specific location. They also recorded burial plots via word of mouth. You will then go to the cemetery and discover tombs that are unmarked or don't exist.

WV Archive Online

This is a great resource for marriage/birth/death records.

Ancestry is a fee based site. It contains U.S. Federal Censuses, family trees, newspaper articles, etc. It is a great source.

As always, with any kind of research, keep an OPEN MIND. Just because someone in your family tells you a story/juicy tale, does not mean that it is a fact.

My family has insisted for years that because one of our ancestors was a Bouvier that we are related to Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onasis. I did the research and found that we are not directly related to her. Also, my grandmother insisted that our Lilly ancestors were French and, therefore, separate from the other Lillys of Summers County- which proved to be false. Just
because your grandmother said so, doesn't mean it is so!

On the other hand, don't be afraid to ask elders in your family. Hopefully they will be helpful.
Some people in my family were unwilling to view or make copies of photos. I even offered to pay for copies or to make scans. Some people are just plain quirky and selfish. If your family is strange like this, search out other avenues to find photos. Check newspaper articles, contact genealogy societies and local historians- they can sometimes be very helpful.

Local historians can be very helpful but keep in mind that a true, professional historian will share sources- you might have something he/she can use and vice versa. I spoke with a local "historian" via phone once. He was reticent about sharing information. It was pretty clear this guy was selfish and untrained. My advice to you when you run up against these people: thank them for their time and move along.

Lastly, do not get frustrated about this or that sordid tale about your family. My own family has a few. It's called human nature: people make mistakes, sometimes sleep around, get embroiled in lawsuits, and tell tall tales. They were human. And, as the poet Alexander Pope said: "To ere is human".

1 comment:

  1. Hello Brian, I am a Lilly researcher and have your line from Ida Jane Lilly back. Would you be interested in trading information? I would like to update your line. Email me please and let me know either way. I have a lot of information to share. Sincerely, Cousin Bob