In past posts, I’ve mentioned the fabulous treasures that can be found not on the big genealogy sites, but on smaller local ones or possibly not yet online at all. I just can’t sing the praises of these sites enough.
A great example of an area with rich genealogical resources and a strong presence both online and on location is Lawrence County, Ohio. If you have followed my posts for a while, you might recognize Lawrence County as the marriage place for black sheep Isaac Sturgell and his young wife, Mary Bandy, back in 1844. The Sturgells and the Bandys both settled in that area in the mid-1830’s. When I first began researching them, all my contacts were by U.S. mail as there was no internet.
If I were just beginning to research in Ohio today, let’s say in Lawrence County, my steps would be vastly different.
First, a quick search of “Lawrence County Ohio genealogy” brings up multiple hits. Notice that with the exception of FamilySearch.org, none of the other sites are linked to the most common subscription websites.
The first site on the list is The Lawrence Register. This site is a combination of free items, some transcribed and some digitized, and a choice to hire researchers.
Part of the scrollable index on the left includes an intriguing sounding item. Knowing that Isaac Sturgell had four wives and probably at least two, if not all four, divorced him, I clicked on “Divorces.” Look at the last item:
The last bulleted item is “Scanned Divorce Records from Lawrence County Ohio Courthouse Attic.” The bottom of the alphabetical list says that 681 records with 1491 documents are in this scanned list! A treasure trove, online and free.!
There are also transcribed Bible records, biographies taken from old histories, two early tax lists, and even some stories about murders that happened in the area.
Next, I clicked on the Lawrence County, Ohio Genealogical Society:
What caught my eye here was the box to access old newsletters from 1984-2013. Those newsletters always contained all sorts of odd little tidbits, like local voters in the 1860 presidential election and their political affiliations. There were always lots of queries, too, which could lead to some great finds.
There is another link on the home page to “Courthouse Records Index” with images. I clicked on that to find:
I then chose the option for burial records of indigent soldiers. I then randomly chose “Thomas Ackerson” and up came a digitized record of his burial costs.
Another gold mine if you have a soldier in your family who died in Lawrence County and was in poor economic circumstances.
Next, I clicked on “Lawrence County, Ohio Local History and Genealogy Room,” which happened to be a link to their Facebook page.
The Facebook page features a variety of information, ranging from news stories of past natural disasters to links for searching Ohio land records to features on early residents.
Although the site didn’t come up in the first few hits, Lawrence County also has a historical society.
I hope I’ve convinced you to step away from the most common genealogical research sites and to actually seek out smaller, lesser known local entities to see what else might be available. You never know what you might find.