The Hardin County Genealogical Society (HCGS) in Kenton, Ohio is a very active and excellent genealogical society. I visited them in 2007. It is now 2011 and it is interesting how memory works. I had them in the wrong place on Franklin Street. They are situated right in the heart of Kenton on the south side of Franklin Street next to the theatre and just west of the courthouse. They are sort of diagonally across from Brunnell’s restaurant which is on the northeast corner (not open Mondays). Great for getting some food it you get hungry researching.
I called ahead and made an appointment because they don’t have hours that worked for me. They are open in the afternoon on Tuesdays. They are very accommodating. I spent three hours at the HCGS.
I was particularly interested in trying to find Caroline Keller Van Houten. She and her husband Joseph left Morrow County and headed for Hardin County sometime after 1883 and were there by the 1900 U.S. census and settled in Washington Township. Caroline was the sister of Elizabeth Keller Spracklin my 2nd great-grandmother. I did not find where they were buried in Washington Township. I did find their death information at HCGS in the death records.
While at the HCGS I looked at several folders for Spracklins. They have filing cabinets with family histories. George P. Spracklin was in their file of Civil War veterans. He is buried in Lee Cemetery as well as other family members. There was not that much on the Spracklins and the Goss so I think it is time for me to fill out a Pioneer Application and send some reports for their files.
They have eight volumes of copied obituaries, marriages and death notices from the local newspapers. It was quite a collection and spanned 1850 to 1900. They also have other years in the 1900’s like 1902 and 1933. You can see what they cover in their publications for sale section on their website. Didn’t find anything of interest on the Spracklins or the Goss. This is very discouraging to me. I love obituaries and gossip in newspapers.
They also have a collection of Hardin County courthouse records like probate, mortgages, chattels, deeds and so much more. Three hours is not enough time. They are in the process of placing their collection information on their website so check back occasionally. Some sources are the original courthouse records and some are photocopies of the records.
I was there in Kenton for two days and on Monday, I visited the Lee Cemetery. This was my second time there and I was so excited. My memory of it was accurate in some areas but not in others. Lee Cemetery is on CR144 just southeast of Kenton off Hwy 309. You drive past Pfeiffer Station and just before you get to Hepburn you will find it on the left as you travel east. There is a Morrison Cemetery that comes up first and then Lee. I did remember the farm but it was much closer to the cemetery than I remember. The horses were in the pasture to the west having breakfast. There was a pony hiding in the grass. The cattle were in the other pasture across the road. This is Amish country and once again a horse and buggy came by but this time it was filled three children, two boys and one little girl with a black hat. I waved and they waved back. The horse seemed to know where to go because the young boy who was driving it was looking everywhere but straight ahead. Clop, Clop, Clop!! I was told that the Amish came about the 1950’s. The Spracklins, Lawrence, Cooks, Myers and more are buried in Lee Cemetery. I will prepare another post to feature this cemetery for it is very important to our family. The header photo of this blog is currently an overview of the Lee Cemetery.
Just east on CR144 and past Hepburn, I came to a crossroads of CR245 and took a picture of the area. I believe this to be where Peter and Alfred had their land in Dudley Township, Hardin Co., Ohio. Returning along CR144, I made a turn onto CR235 going north and then left onto CR140. This is a single lane road and as I headed west a deer came out of the corn stalks and panicked when it saw my car. A cat went running across the road. Proceeding cautiously, I positioned myself to take a picture of what might be the area of the land that Solomon Goss (Jr.) had lived on. He was living not to far from Peter Spracklin. Solomon Goss’s sister Lydia married John Andrews Spracklin a son of Peter and Betty’s. After he sold his father’s land in Washington County, Solomon, the son, headed to Hardin and was there for maybe 17 years and his son Wesley left for Iowa. Shortly after Solomon Goss packed up his family and headed there to Henry County first and finally Mahaska County where he is buried in Iowa.
The next stop was lunch at Jolene’s Cozy Cafe on Hwy 67. I had a salad. They are open for lunch and dinner and serve cafeteria style. The restaurants in Kenton are basic so this was nice to go to and chat with friendly people and have a descent salad. The night before I had stopped at Michael Angelo’s Pizzeria. It was pleasant and the food was okay. I am afraid I am a snob!
The Hardin County Courthouse is a big beautiful building in the center of Kenton. The entrance faces west. I asked for the Peter Spracklin Estate file and the nice lady in the Probate office had to go downstairs into the basement after she verified that the estate did exist in the big books. It took two index books to find it. I was stunned they let me take the 4 packets out into the hall and look at them. They also let me photograph them! So I spent the next hour lovingly opening each packet and taking pictures in very poor light. Now I already had a copy of this probate file from the last trip but it was very poorly copied. Now I will be able to make sense out of what my cousin had obtained. I know she will be thrilled to get these much better copies. The highlight of this packet is Elizabeth (Betty) Spracklin making an X to sign away her Administrator duties to her son George.
Next door to the Probate office (2nd floor) was the Recorders Office and I entered. They had big books out in the reception area but not the deeds. The nice lady took me into the back area and there was this huge room with stacks of court books. She showed me where to look and I started pulling Grantor books. I had done a whole lot at the Family History Library so I already had what I needed on the Spracklins. I just wanted to see the books and get an idea. The A-B was way up high and I had to use a ladder. I am afraid my right wrist is not doing to well due to arthritis so there was no way I was going to be able to put it back. I barely got it down. I was able to get other books off and back on. I was not finding the name Andrews. I asked the lady if the records from the parent county were transferred and she said not always. So it is wise to check if you are looking for early deeds. The Andrews name is Betty Spracklin’s maiden name.
My curiosity was satisfied and I thanked them, apologized for not putting the book back and headed out for the M.L. Johnson District Library down the street. I like small towns because everything is so close and it takes just minutes to get there. HA! In Seattle it can be a whole day or afternoon excursion.
Much to my surprise the M.L. Johnson District Library has a small genealogical collection 180 degrees from the front door and it has a sign. They had county books, another set of the Hardin County Genealogical Society books. Newspapers to view if you wanted. Not bad! I also liked it because the hours of the HCGS are not that great and even an appointment doesn’t give you all the time you need. They had the cemetery records of the HCGS and tried again for the Van Houtens and found them! Genealogical HAPPY DANCE! They are in Dunkirk Cemetery in Blanchard Township which is 10 minutes north of Kenton. So I was pleased and happy that I took the chance to go to this library and found a small treasure.
My lodging in Kenton was at the Country Hearth Inn which use to be an Amerihost. It is on Hwy 67th and Hester St. just past the hospital entrance. My cousin and I had stayed there before and it was okay then and it was okay now. They have a Continental Breakfast. I do know that they have a B&B in the downtown area and that there is the BJ and Kenton motels on Hiway 309.
If you decide to go to Kenton to do genealogical research the Hardin County Genealogical Society, the courthouse and the library are all good possibilities. I have found Hardin County records to not be as available elsewhere like other counties. Not sure why? The Family History Library does have some of the records and I have done well.