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Category Archives: Places of Interest

Lawrence County Archives

698 Main St., Moulton, Alabama

698 Main St., Moulton, Alabama

I recently visited the Lawrence County Archives in Moulton, Alabama to conduct research for a client needing help with his Bradley and Brown ancestors from the tiny community of Wolf Springs in the northwestern part of Lawrence County. Housed in a former bank building just off the courthouse square, this little archives is a hidden gem. The building itself was built in 1939 and still retains its retro charm inside with original trim and art deco hardware. It even has the old bank safe, which is still used today by the archivists on staff and provides an odd source of conversation.

Look closely and you can see "Bank of Moulton" across the top front of the building.

Look closely and you can see “Bank of Moulton” across the top front of the building.

I had a lovely lunch at a quirky downtown cafe in Moulton called Lang’s Latte Cafe. The name caught my eye because it reminded me of my Lang relatives in northern Minnesota, some of whom ran small cafes and even bars in small prairie towns near the Canadian border. After lunch, I walked around the square and returned to my starting point, where I spent the afternoon combing through records at the Lawrence County Archives.   Some of their records date back to 1818 before Alabama became a state.  A list of their holdings can be found on their easy-to-navigate website: http://www. lawrencecoarchives.com.

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Indian Springs 1949: What Old Photos Can Tell Us

Old family vacation photos may seem boring to some, but I find them to be interesting clues to a family’s location, leisure activities, and socio-economic status.  Many families, including my own, worked long, hard hours with little time to spare for lengthy, expensive trips far away from home.  While tracing one branch of my family’s movements in the first half of the 20th century, I began to take a closer look at the dates and locations on the backs of the pictures for clues.  Of course, several photos had nothing, but many had a stamp from the developer or a handwritten notation.

In my grandmother’s things was a series of photos taken at Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla, GA.  The series features grainy shots of my grandmother with her daughter, grandchildren, and a niece.  The pictures of the relatives are not that spectacular; their faces are barely recognizable.  If it weren’t for the comments on the back, it would be hard to tell who’s who.  What is interesting to me is that the July 1949 date corresponds with oral stories of the family being in the Atlanta area at the time.  A short trip with “the kids” to the cool spring waters of a nearby state park makes sense because it puts the family in that area in time, doing a low-budget but enjoyable activity.

Indian Springs, Georgia
July 1949

My favorite snapshot is the old mill, taken in July 1949:

I love the quirky messages on the backs of old photos.  Here is the back of the photo above, in what appears to be my grandmother’s handwriting:

“The old mill (The wheel wouldn’t be turning when we got our picture!)
Indian Spgs – 1949

Not only do I have another clue about the family’s location in 1949, I also hear my grandmother’s voice in the tongue-in-cheek comment about the water wheel not turning.  Sometimes it’s good to just enjoy the hunt for clues and the surprises that come along.  The genealogical proof standards and citation-writing can wait for another day.

 
 

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Georgia Archives to Remain Open…For Now

Imagine having no state archives open to the public for research.  What a sad day in the genealogy world!  That is what the people of Georgia were facing until recently….and may face again in 2013.  The office of Georgia’s governor, Nathan Kemp, announced last month that the Georgia State Archives in Morrow, GA will remain open for the remainder of the budgetary year that ends on June 30, 2013.  It will keep its current hours, which are already limited to just Fridays and Saturdays.  On July 1, the archives will be transferred to the University System of Georgia.  What then?  Will it be by appointment only?

Think of all the valuable materials to be relocated and the care which must be taken in this situation.  What if the documents that prove your ancestor ever existed on Georgia soil are not available to you because of budget cuts?  Hopefully, it will not be a worst-case scenario.  The press release from the governor’s office did indicate that the transfer provides for the appropriation of funds for operation and staffing; however, just the thought of losing access to the archives makes many genealogists and other researchers very nervous.  If it can happen in Georgia, it can happen elsewhere.

If you live in a place in which your state archives and other repositories are open several days a week with no plans to close anytime soon, consider yourself fortunate.

 

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Tennessee State Library and Archives

Tennessee State Libary and Archives in Nashville

Back in August of this year, I spent six productive hours in downtown Nashville at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, located at 403 7th Ave. N, between the state capitol and the judicial building.  I knew it was going to be a good day when a parking space right in front of the archives was open!  Parking is limited; I fully expected to have to find a public parking lot and walk, which I was willing to do, but being able to park in one of the few spaces available on weekdays was an added bonus.  The friendly and helpful staff was ready to answer all questions and to give assistance.  I was lucky enough to snag one of the newer microfilm readers that allows patrons to save documents to a flash drive; however, I came prepared with my roll of quarters for the copier, just in case.

I did my homework ahead of time by first going to their detailed website at http://www.tn.gov/tsla.  I was interested in Greene County records, and the website had a 27-page list of all the microfilms for that county.  Had I not seen this online, I could have used the list on display at the archives.  Also, the website has a great “Visitors’ Guide” section.

After a great meal at Noshville, and New York-style deli in Midtown located at 1918 Broadway, it was time to drive by the Parthenon in Centennial Park.  Nashville’s Parthenon is an excellent replica of the famous Parthenon in Athens, Greece.  On this beautiful summer afternoon, the park was busy but not crowded, as visitors rode bicycles or walked the paths and across the green spaces.  A few folks were sitting on the Parthenon’s steps as we drove by.

Nashville’s Parthenon

I look forward to another short trip to the state archives Nashville soon and will be happy to research your Tennessee ancestors for you.  Just send me an email from my “Contact Me” tab at the top of my blog.

 
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Posted by on Monday, November 12, 2012 in Places of Interest, Repositories, Tennessee history

 

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Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, Alabama

Maple Hill Cemetery is a wonderful place full of history, large trees, poignant stories, and colorful characters.  Established in 1822, it is the oldest and largest cemetery in Huntsville, Alabama.  If you have ancestors in that area, chances are they may be buried at Maple Hill.

Maple Hill Cemetery in October 1982

To search the online database of over 21, 000 names, go to the City of Huntsville’s website:   http://www.huntsvilleal.gov/gis/Cemetery/cemetery.htm.

You can also try http://www.findagrave.com/.

I have frequented Maple Hill Cemetery and am more than willing to take photographs or do research on the families interred there.  You can inquire about this service by selecting the “Contact Me” tab and sending me an email.  I would love to have an excuse to wander through this historic landmark!

 

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Huntsville Depot

This photo of the Huntsville [Alabama] Depot, entitled,”Captured by Union Forces,” was published about 1962 in a local newspaper.  The caption under the photo says, “Huntsville’s railway depot, site of the capture of locomotives and railway cars by Federal troops 100 years ago, still stands.  Forces under Union Gen. Ormsby M. Miller cut the strategic Memphis and Charleston Railroad at Huntsville Friday, April 11, 1862.”

My mother intended to mail this clipping to my grandmother in Minnesota because she sometimes visited Alabama by train, and our family picked her up at this depot on those much-awaited visits.  Built in the 1850s by the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, the Huntsville Depot not only served the public with passenger train service, but also served as the company’s corporate offices for its eastern division.  It boasted a large and lavish lobby that was used as a waiting area for passenger train travel.

The depot opened in 1860 shortly before the Civil War began.  During the 1862 capture, the Union soldiers not only took control of a very strategic point on the rail line, but they also detained Confederates as prisoners and kept them on the third floor.  One of the most fascinating scenes inside the depot today is the wall of graffiti left by those Confederate prisoners!

The U.S. government returned the depot to the Memphis & Charleston Railroad in disrepair after the Civil War, but the company was able to eventually resume its passenger service after a period of rebuilding.  Many greetings and goodbyes took place here over the years.  Passenger service at the Huntsville Depot ended in 1968.  It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 2002.  The depot now serves as a transportation museum and a symbol of Huntsville’s historic growth from a small cotton town to a center of space technology.

Huntsville Depot in 2010

 

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