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A Look Back: Our old-school information network

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By Jolene Hawkins

Some of you may be wondering: where do I get all my information on the stories that I share with you?

Well, looking back, some are from people who come in and share their family history with us, bringing in photos and genealogy of their family. Others are taken from the many genealogies of family names that we have in our cabinets — several shelves worth, some in book form, some loose papers, some in binders and some in folders.

We also have handwritten journals that are fun to read. Archie Warner and his brother wrote journals, entering in something every day, such as the weather is bad today, planted the field with corn today, churned butter on the back porch, played at Woodside or went to town.

We have lots of letters and scrapbooks as well. We tried to transcribe the handwritten letters, which makes it easier to read them. The scrapbooks are a mixture of articles and items — we have one that is different peoples hair worked into intricate pieces and stuck to the pages with red wax.

The Lucy Bensley keeps several scrapbooks, one with posters, flyers, teacher lessons and information during World War I. We have one scrapbook from the Women’s Club with photos and notes. We have High School yearbooks and books about the surrounding towns history.

We also have photographs and photograph albums. It is a treasure to us when those photographs included where they were taken, when and the names of everyone in the photo. We have some others that will only have … the cow, Bessie. Of course, it does not include the name of the person whose hand is on Bessie, or where it is taken or why.

Then we have albums, that share all the information and then some, giving us a story of the family as they moved from town to town and had children, then those kids getting married and so on. Such a delight when those come in.

We have inbound books of the old newspapers that were in town through the years reaching back to 1867. We lost the early years to one of the several major fires that happen in our town. When you go through all of those, you can read about events that happened around the world down to who had the largest pumpkin.

Store ads are fun to see how advertisements sure have changed. In the early days, the ads never included where the store or business was located, guess you just knew. You could bring your butter, eggs and maple syrup to sale and get store credits to use in the store.

By reading the personal columns, you found who came to town or went on a trip, who was sick, who had family visiting, who had a new baby or even a new cow! All the surrounding towns had little columns and you could see what was happening in Sardinia, Colden, Glenwood, Wyandale, East Concord, Ashford, Westfall and other little areas that have since disappeared.

You could see what social organizations there were as they too had a column in the paper. Even the school had articles each week to keep you up to date with the grades and sporting events of the students. If you come to the Lucy Bensley Center, you can even view the Springville Express Newspaper online through newpaper.com from 1844 to 1849.

We can assist you with your own genealogy as we have a subscription to ancestry.com to help you get started. We also have microfilm of census records from this area and books which includes the names of people who could vote in town. There are maps and atlases that help us find where your ancestor lived, where roads were and the name changes of roads. We even have cemetery records and old phone directories.

We have a large selection of research material from Echoes Through Time Civil War Museum to help research someone that was in the Civil War. We had over 300 men that signed up in this area alone. We will be getting over 200 more books that will be researchable for the Civil War time period soon from a private collection that will open up the research so much more.

We would love to have you come down to share your family history with us, photos — we can scan them while you wait — and stories that you know. I would love to hear your ideas for a story. We are open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can call us at 592-0094 or email lucybensleycenter@gmail.com.

You can hear some good ole’ music on Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Mercantile/Heritage Building located at 17 Franklin St.

If you are a member of an organization, consider volunteering a few hours a month to help them. We have the Warner Museum, Mercantile/Heritage building, Carriage house and the Lucy Bensley Center. Some folks only volunteer two hours a month, but each person that does that really helps us to stay open and preserve the history of our town.

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