This is inspired by the Weekly Genealogy Blog Prompt #5, though it took me a few days to sort through all the trips Mother and I made for genealogy to pick one to start with.
So I finally decided to start with the first one….This was long before the Internet, even the old BBS systems like FIDOnet and Prodigy. I was 15, it was 1970 and my family took a camping trip from Alabama to California and back over six weeks of the summer. Along the way was Kansas, where mother’s ancestor Orsemus H. SPENCER homesteaded and lived quite a bit of his life. He was born 26 on 27 Mar 1836 in Venice, Erie, Ohio. He was christened in Ohio. He died on 21 Jul 1896 in Monitor, McPherson, Kansas. He married Esther A TREE on 22 Jan 1856 in Indiana.
This much Mother had gleaned from library research, letter writing, queries in the Genealogical Helper, and talking to older relatives. She had found an old, old photo of him on the homestead in Kansas in the attic of her childhood home when her father died about six years before, and a published biography in one of those old “Town Fathers” books. But when she wrote to McPherson, KS for information all she got back was a terse, “Never heard of him” from the county clerk.
So, she insisted, as we were going through Kansas anyway, we had to stop at the “Biggest Little Town in Kansas”, look in the library and the courthouse to see what we could find, and at least go to the site of the old homestead to get a picture imitating the one she had.
Turned out the town had a nice campground, and the homestead site was easy to find (the resulting photograph is still in storage up in Huntsville. If I ever get my hands on it, I’ll post it here.) So, finally it was time to traipse to the courthouse, and try to go through the old records to see what we could find on old Orsemus.
And as we walked into the lobby of the courthouse, there on the wall was his portrait, with a small plaque explaining he had been one of the first state senators in the Kansas Legislature. The clerk who had dismissed Mother’s query so tersely saw that picture every single day!
She had a few polite words with the person working the records desk, and soon we were knee deep in deed, tax and probate records! Mother was like a kid on Christmas morning.