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Monday, July 26, 2010

Welcome to "The Genie House"

Researching at the Shelbyville Genealogy House

(Photo: Barb, me, Charlene and Judy at the Genie House)

The address is 58 West Hendricks St., just behind the Shelbyville Library. The house looks like a normal, residential home in one of Shelbyville’s charming downtown neighborhoods. However, once you open the door, everything is different, in fact, everything is wonderful!

Have you ever done genealogy research in a library where the shelves are nearly bare, where there is (if you’re lucky) one staff member who’s a volunteer, and after you leave there, you still have no answers? You feel like you just wasted your day and found nothing. It’s totally frustrating.

When walking into the Shelbyville Genealogy House (The Genie House), you are surrounded by books (thousands of books); microfilmed newspapers; filing cabinets full of family histories submitted by patrons; cemetery records, funeral home records; maps and atlases; and so many notebooks filled with printed obituaries that it is simply overwhelming. If this sounds like the perfect place to find your ancestors, IT IS.

Besides the abundance of research materials, the staff is the best! Each staff member is knowledgeable, friendly and happy to help with any research questions or problems. If I could draw a picture of the perfect genealogy research facility -- it would be the Shelbyville “Genie House”. To me, it is Genealogy Heaven.

I was there in April for nearly two weeks and brought home enough material to fill a filing cabinet drawer. I copied obituaries, found death dates from funeral home record books (thanks to Barb!), got some great Civil War veteran information from P.K. and learned that Charlene and I share more than one connection. Last year, I read an issue of Fore Bear Pa’s magazine (published by the Genealogical Society - another treasure in Shelby County) and learned that one of my ancestors was a criminal (he was a forger and a horse thief!). On another visit, found in a book of will records, I connected my Sarah Hendricks to her father, Hamilton Lapham. (He left her some land in another county.)

Another problem solved this year was determining the identification of “Eddie Belle” Stewart. Listed in the 1880 Census as the daughter of Edmond and Paulina Stewart, my cousin and I had never been about to track Eddie Belle. She seemed to disappear after 1880. However, listed in the Frazier Funeral Home Book I found the death of Anna C. Dunn in 1960. Anna’s mother was named Eddiebelle Stewart, the wife of William Clark (all listed in the funeral home records). From the Shelby County marriage records I was able to find the marriage of “Corinda E. Stewart” to William Clark on 14 Oct. 1884. How could we have ever guessed that Eddie Belle was really named Corinda E.? Mystery solved! (And a new family to research.)

Other special benefits of the Genie House are the friendships made there. Through Judy, Barb, PK, Charlene, Janet, Marge, and cousin Barb -- I have found a wonderful group of friends who have never failed to welcome me and make me feel like I’m still a “Shelber” (even though I moved from Indiana in 1967). They are all very special people and I’m so grateful for their friendship and for all the enjoyable times we have spent together sharing our research in the Genie House.

If you have ancestors in Shelby Co. Indiana don’t pass up the Genie House! It contains a goldmine of information with the friendliest and most knowledgeable staff I’ve ever encountered in my 30 years of researching.

Thanks to all at the Genie House -- I’ll be back!