York Town Square

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Genealogists find mother lode in York County

The York Daily Record/Sunday News has run occasional articles over the years about the popularity of genealogical research locally.
Genealogists love York County because its crossroads nature meant that many people passed through here on there way to a faraway destination. Many people who ended up in North and South Carolina rolled or walked Wrightsville, York and Hanover after disembarking at Philadelphia. Some stayed awhile, and then moved on. President William McKinley’s family is such an example, finally ending up in Ohio.
Family researchers, by the hundreds each month, also are in awe of the county’s vast family archives.

Our story today told of Yorker Chris Buckingham’s interest in researching family Bibles, kind of the gold standard for genealogists. http://www.ydr.com/living/ci_3621047
I’ve written before that genealogists can teach those of us who study history many lessons about research. They generally go about their work with an earnestness and focus that should be emulated by many of us who do “public history.” And after seeing hundreds of genealogists at work over the years, one is advised not to bother them when they’re in the hunt. They’re often on the edge of exasperation as they sift through often-contradictory information. You need to especially watch those who are picking threads in the Miller, Glatfelter, Bair and other large county families.
Today’s family Bible feature package, as newspaper people call multi-story spreads, contains a bunch of “how-to” information, as outlined below:
Antique Bibles are often a foot high, 9-inches wide and upward of 4-inches thick.
So it’s not surprising the York County Heritage Trust stopped accepting family Bible donations in the early 1970s.
“We ran out of room,” said librarian and archivist Lila Fourhman-Shaull.
That doesn’t mean the Trust is short on the family records often hand printed on the delicate Bible pages by generations past.
The Trust, formerly the Historical Society of York County, has information on close to 8,000 families who are, or were once, local, Fourhman-Shaull said.
Trust archivists continue to collect information from family Bibles that come to them, photocopying or typing out any family information inside.
“We place that in a file here, so at least the information is not lost,” Fourhman-Shaull said.
She frequents estate sales and records family information out of Bibles she sees headed for the auction block.
“I’ve trained myself to take a scrap of paper with me to copy it down,” she said.
Fourhman-Shaull also includes the date and place of the auction so a family member knows where a Bible was last sold.
Of the 400 researchers who visit the Trust each month, 80 percent to 90 percent conduct family research, Fourhman-Shaull estimated.
Family records at the Trust include text from tombstones in 440 York and Adams county cemeteries.
The Trust also keeps safe church records of baptisms, marriages and deaths – information the state didn’t start recording until 1906, Fourhman-Shaull said.
Genealogy Web sites
· http://www.ancestry.com
· http://www.genealogy.com
· http://www.familysearch.org
· http://www.rootsweb.com
York County Heritage Trust
What’s there: County documents, church records (e.g. baptisms, marriages) and correspondence.
For details: 848-1587
York County Archives
What’s there: County government records
For details: 840-7222
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
What’s there: The State Archives
For details: 787-3362
Family History Center
What’s there: Microfilm and microfiche copies of church and other records; free access to the subscription portions of ancestry.com
For details: 846-4539
South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society
Next meeting: 2:15 p.m. April 2 at the York County Heritage Trust, 250 E. Market St., York