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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Reading County History Books - Clues In the Biographies

I took over the position of County Coordinator for the Lucas County, Iowa GenWeb project in 2010.  I do not live in Iowa and none of my ancestors ever lived in Lucas county. I browse the Internet for PDF files of books, microfilm of census records, etc. that I can transcribe and post on the Lucas county page. I just finished transcribing the biographies included in a history of Lucas county published in 1881. Check the "What's New" page for a link to these biographies. As I am transcribing, I find that I am learning alot about Iowa history.  It is very fascinating.    It is amazing the stories told in the biographies.  One man walked to the gold mines in Nevada, it took him a year to reach his destination.  Many of the men, were Civil War soldiers, some Confederate and some Union.  All of these sketches inform the readers of the locations where the subjects were born, how long they lived there, were they moved to and when, etc. Some went back to their previous home to marry and brought the new bride to his home in Lucas county. One man told of falling off of a wagon on their migration to Iowa when he was an infant.  His leg was crushed by the wagon wheel and his father had to amputate his leg nine days later, saving his life. There are so many great stories of courage and strength possessed by these pioneers.

I haven't taken the time to put together a migration time line for Lucas county, but I can imagine the wonderful data that could be presented!  I can envision a map with lines beginning at the point of origin.  Perhaps a table of locations and the names of the families who came to Lucas county from that location.  Not everyone who came to Lucas county stayed, many moved on to other locations. There is a later book that I  have transcribed and posted of Lucas county history published in 1913.  Both of these books offer many clues for those whose ancestors stopped in Lucas county, if even for a short time.

I enjoy reading county history books published 100 years ago and older.  They are less politically correct and you never know what you might find.  That's not to say that what is written is 100% accurate.  Skeletons may still be hidden from public view.  Still these county histories offer clues to the past and should not be overlooked!

Go find a county history!  You'll be glad you did!


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