A genealogical birthday gift at FGS 2013

Thank you, Allen County Public Library!

How can you argue with a genealogy conference that gives your cousin a birthday gift?

Especially when that cousin’s birthday gift is also a gift to the rest of your family!

ACPLThe one thing The Legal Genealogist hasn’t yet really mentioned about the 2013 Federation of Genealogical Societies Journey through Generations conference is the big attraction to having a conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with Fort Wayne. It’s a city of some 255,000 people (give or take a few hundred). That makes it the 74th largest city in the United States.1 It’s got a minor league ball team the Tincaps, who won last night over the South Bend Silver Hawks,2 setting off a fireworks display in downtown. It’s a comfortable place.

But it’s probably not in the top 10 vacation list of most American families — unless that family happens to include a genealogist.

Because Fort Wayne boasts one of the best research facilities for genealogists anywhere in the United States — the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library.

In every way, this is a world class collection. The Genealogy Center boasts:

• 50,000 printed volumes.
• More than 513,000 items of microfilm and microfiche.
• 5,000 volumes of compiled genealogies.
• 48,000 R. L. Polk directories for cities throughout the United States.
• More than 210,000 printed volumes of U. S. genealogy and local history publications.
• 15,000 printed volumes on the British Isles.
• And, the library reports, “the largest English-language genealogy and local history periodical collection in the world with more than 6,200 current subscriptions and more than 10,000 titles.”3

And, tucked into this massive collection, up on the second floor, in the section for Pope County, Arkansas, a typescript volume entitled Obituary and Death Notices of Pope County, Arkansas 1900-1903, by J. B. Lemley and Elaine Weir Cia.

Now we’ve recently confirmed our descent from William and Christian (Campbell) Baird through DNA testing.4 We had some information on William’s death, but not Christian’s. She was recorded in the 1880 census5 but not the 1900 census.6 So she could have died any time in that 20-year period. When, exactly, we didn’t know.

Until yesterday.

Which happened to be the birthday of my first cousin and genie-buddy Paula, who is here with me in Fort Wayne. I was delighted to be able to share even a little bit of her day… but it was only a little bit. I was tied to the convention center… and Paula kept giving in to temptation and heading to the library.

And yesterday, on her birthday, she hit the jackpot with that little book. Because, in it, was the transcription of an obituary from the Russellville (Arkansas) Democrat from May 1900 — literally days before the 1 June enumeration date of the 1900 census:

Died Tuesday morning May 29, 1900, at the home of J. P. Ewton, Mrs. Christian A. Baird, after a lingering illness, aged 82 years. In the departure of Grandma Baird, there passed from earth’s shadowy walks to the heavenly hills of rest, a sweet spirit ripe in the fullness of years, and rich in the fruits of a long christian influence.

Mrs. Baird was born in Alabama eighty-two years ago, and removed to Arkansas with her husband who crossed (the river) of rest a number of years ago. She was a faithful, consecrated member of the M.E. church, South, having united with the church when quite young. She leaves four sons, three daughters and a wide circle of devoted friends to mourn her departure.7

And two very excited third great granddaughters to rejoice, more than a century later.

A genealogy conference doesn’t get much better than that.


  1. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com), “Fort Wayne, Indiana,” rev. 7 Aug 2013.
  2. TinCaps Complete Sweep of South Bend,” Tincaps.com (http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t584 : accessed 23 Aug 2013.
  3. Genealogy Center Brochure, The Genealogy Center, Allen County Public Library (http://www.genealogycenter.org : accessed 23 Aug 2013).
  4. See Judy G. Russell, “The matchmaker’s match,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 7 Oct 2012 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 23 Aug 2013). See also ibid., “Another matchmaker match!,” posted 31 Mar 2013.
  5. 1880 U.S. census, Pope County, Arkansas, Illinois, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 198, p. 118(A) (stamped), dwelling 169, family 207, Christian “Beard”; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 Aug 2013); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 54; imaged from FHL microfilm 1254054.
  6. A search of the 1900 U.S. census database at Ancestry.com for Pope County, Arkansas, failed to reveal any entry that could be for Christian Baird.
  7. J. B. Lemley and Elaine Weir Cia, Obituary and Death Notices of Pope County, Arkansas 1900-1903 (Russellville, Ark. : p.p., 1977), 7.
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13 Responses to A genealogical birthday gift at FGS 2013

  1. Mary Ann Thurmond says:

    This is so exciting!! Even though the Bairds are not on “my” side of your family, I know how wonderful it is to finally find a tidbit that you’ve been trying to find for a very long time! How wonderful that Paula found it on her birthday—what a story to tell for future generations, as well.

  2. Dave says:

    And here I thought this was going to be a comment or post about Cyndi!

    What wonderful fun for you and your cousin–enjoy in the basking glow of sweet success!

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Thanks, Dave. For Cyndi, it won’t surprise you that just when she began her last presentation today, just after she said she is always happy to take questions, some loudmouth ex-prosecutor in the back of the room stood up and called for attention — and about 25 genealogists in the back stood up and sang to her for her birthday.

  3. Congratulations! I always had good luck at convention site libraries on genealogy finds when I was an active academic. Often better than the sessions! ;-)

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Thanks, Bill. I wish I could have spent more time doing both, but alas that old “can’t be in two places at one time” thing…

  4. Sara G. says:

    What do genealogists need? A time-turner a la Harry Potter. A myriad of uses! See all the conference sessions AND do research! And if you can turn it the exactly right number of turns, witness your own history!

    *Sorry, a little silliness for Sunday!*

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Oh you have NOOOOOOOOO idea how much you could charge for just a few hours of time-turner ability at a conference like this one!!

  5. What a thrilling find! I agree, the combination of great lectures and a top-notch library is a match made in genealogical heaven–if only we could be in two places at once. It was a pleasure meeting Paula at FGS!

  6. Marian Wood says:

    Congrats . . . what could be better than sisters sharing the conference and the gen research–and a fabulous find like this! Let me echo what Shelley says: Holding the FGS conf next door to the ACPL was a two-for-one deal no genealogist could pass up. I hope they come back to Ft Wayne very soon.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Sisters’ daughters, Marian! (It was my first-cousin-and-genie-buddy Paula who made the find.) And I couldn’t agree with you more: having the conference in Fort Wayne was wonderful.

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