Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Henry County Connections

The people of Henry County, Ohio are nice. I don't know if it's PC to call people nice anymore, but I like nice, so I'm going to assume that it's okay.

A few years ago, I had a job that required me to talk to contractors and farmers all over Northwest Ohio. I always looked forward to talking to Henry County people because even if they told you to buzz off, they did it in such a charming fashion that you were like, thanks for telling me to buzz off. Really, they were that nice.

So what happens when you marry nice with technology? Well you get the Henry County Genealogical Society, that's what.

Because my Hoy roots lived in Henry County for a time, I have a good reason for interest in the county and its genealogical information. The society's website offers a pleasant surprise with the amount of information they have made available.

A partial list of information on the website includes:

1. 1859 Property Database
2. 1948 County Directory (does not include Napoleon City)
3. 68th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Database
4. Birth Corrections - Volumes 6-15
5. Chattel Tax Records Database
6. Estate Records Database
7. Marriage Records Database
8. Naturalizations Database
9. Pedigree Chart Index
10. Veterans' Graves

In addition, they have abstracted information of genealogical interest from the society's own newsletters starting with the October 1986 issue through the July-August 2005 issue and they have put the information online.

Besides my Hoy clan that resided in Henry County, two of my brick wall families also lived there. I have only been successful in tracking the Thorn and Jacobus families back to 1850. Both families migrated from New Jersey to Henry County. You can imagine my delight in finding Thorn and Jacobus ancestors listed in the chattel tax records database.

The Thorns, found in the tax year of 1853, were not listed in the 1851 database. The Jacobus family, on the other hand, showed up in the 1845 taxes, but not in the 1844 tax year. I now have a rough timeline for both families that will help me in further searches.

If I had been happy about the tax database, I was ecstatic to find not only my great-great-great-grandfather John D. Thorn listed in the estate records database, but also John's father, George Thorn.

A large note on the page said not to call the probate office and to click on a link for further instructions. The link said to contact the Henry County Genealogical Society directly. My little fingers excitedly tapped out an email message. Because I realize December is a busy month for everybody, I stated in the email that I was in no hurry, even though in truth I could hardly wait to get a look at what was in the estate files.

Jim Rebar of the Henry County Genealogical Society sent me an email the next day, explaining that he would be photographing the information and emailing it to me, free of charge. If I liked what I saw, I could send a donation to the Society.

Jim had replied to me on a Sunday, and on Tuesday, he emailed me the results. The day before, I had happily sent the donation check to Henry County — the fact that they had this service was reason enough to send the donation in my book.

Jim even offered to photo shop the results for me if I didn't have my own program. See what I mean about nice?

What he sent had both answers and more mysteries, and a trail to follow — I can't wait until I have more time to do some digging.

I also had an epiphany about the next step in locating more Jacobus information, all garnered from the Society's databases. I think I now have the tools to break through these particular brick walls.

So I am hoping that there are others reading this blog who have Henry County Ohio kinfolk. If you do, you have to check out the Henry County Genealogical Society's website at Jim tells me that they are working on putting even more information online and they are hoping to put cemetery, birth, marriage and death records on CDs as another avenue for information sharing.

I wish Jim and the Henry County Genealogical Society success in their endeavors. Okay, that's not a totally altruistic wish; I have my own selfish motives for their success. But I have to say, you folks at the Genealogical Society have a mighty fine website already.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, December 19, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

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