Monday, May 25, 2015

How to Find Your Ancestors in Limited Edition Regional History Books

Until Karen Drain read a newspaper account about her Honberger ancestors in Behind These Mountains , she said,
“I knew only that they were present for part of Heron’s history, for good or for bad! I found your books through genealogy research. My ancestor is listed in a newspaper clipping you included in a book.
 
When I found the listed page, I thought that the books would provide great reading material for my [91-year-old] Great Uncle Jack, who is helping me build the family tree. [And] my thoughts of buying your books in hardcopy were my only hope of sharing them with him."
She’d read the 1919 Sanders County Independent Ledger account of a “saloon keeper” whose business had been robbed. She contacted me. I connected her with people still living in the Heron area who might be helpful. Through them, she touched bases with others who also added to her knowledge about her family connection to former Heronites.
 
Karen said,
“Heidi [Dettwiler], Phoebe Harker, Linda Rocheleau, Fredi Pargeter, and Helen Meadows have all reached out to me and I am so humbled by everyone’s generosity in assisting me in my family search. You all are so wonderful!”
However, the Behind These Mountains trilogy she wanted to purchase has become rare out-of-print collectible books. Like most regional history books, they were limited editions; 1,000 volume 1 copies and only 500 copies of volumes 2 and 3.
 
Until I told her about requesting books through Inter-library loan, Karen wasn’t aware of that library service.  A librarian searches for them and when located, requests a copy that library clients can check out to read.
 
In 2009, Kindle editions of Behind These Mountains, Volumes I, II & III became available. Since there are about 1,000 vintage photographs from homesteader’s private albums in them I also offer .pdf formatted editions of the trilogy on a DVD for $50. The .pdf editions are a popular choice for those wanting print books because I include permission for a buyer to print [or have printed] a personal copy of each approximately 1200 page book. Karen elected to buy the DVD.
“I received my DVD today,” she wrote, “and I cannot wait to begin reading [on her computer’s large screen]! My hope is to print out a chapter at a time and send it to my great Uncle Jack. .. My thought is that he will have something to look forward to every week as I send him one or two chapters at a time.

I believe I mentioned that Jack is 91 and he doesn’t even have a working television, let alone a computer. His phone is not a fancy one either so hardcopy is the only way for him to read your book. I want to [print and] send a few chapters at a time so he has something to look forward to and he will check his mail more often than he does! Thank you so much for sharing all of your research!”
Her uncle plans to save the printed chapters and someday return them to Karen.
 
As she began reading the .pdf copies on her computer, Karen discovered Heron was beset in 1909 by smallpox brought in by a child who had returned from visiting relatives back east. Coincidentally, her relative, Flora Emma Honberger Dingley, died in Heron in January 1909. Now she wonders if smallpox caused Mrs. Dingley’s demise.
 
In a post on my Bygone Montanans blogspot, which is designed to help people with their genealogy research, I shared family information and photos of the Honberger and Dingley ancestors in Heron, that Karen had sent.
 
She responded, 
“Thank you for sharing my family history in your blog. Perhaps another family member will read it and add to the information. We are shaking the bushes, so to speak… We are very thankful to find you and your work.”
Laura Becquart, David Miller, Cindy Raynor, Tracey Lewis and Teresa Morkert are also among those who found the regional Montana history online.
 
When he got in touch, David said, 
Laura also emailed, 
“My name is Laura Becquart and I am interested in purchasing the pdf printable version of Behind These Mountains. I already have the book for volume 1 [original out-of-print edition], and it contains quite a few pictures. Do you know if the pdf version will contain pictures as well? Also, is the $50 for all three volumes?"
When I replied, she responded,
“Oh, this is too cool - I think I'm actually talking to Mona herself! You even signed my original edition of volume 1. My great uncle Lank (Loren Jameson) was able to get a signed copy for both my Mom and I. My Mom is Lucille Jenkins, the grand-daughter of Lucy Jenkins from Noxon.
My brother was trying to find volume 2 and 3 for my Mom for Mother's Day. I told him I would look around on the Internet and see if I could find anything for him. Of course, there wasn't anything out there, but I did stumble upon your Behind These Mountains website. 
Would it be acceptable for me to mail you a check? I'm fine waiting for you to cash the check before you would mail me the pdf file.”
We emailed back and forth as I related personal memories of times my husband and I enjoyed with her ancestors during the 60-years we lived near Noxon. Her check arrived and the DVD went in the mail the next day.

Tracey Lewis found ancestors in my books, connected with living kinfolk she learned about using Internet reseach, and traveled hundreds of miles to meet some of them in person. As the families connected, they used emails, phone calls and letters, to discover other members of the family tree, and organized a grand family reunion for fhose they found.

We learned much about our Gremaux family ancestors from a little-known out-of-print book in a library in Indiana. More information about that branch, and also the Vanek branch of our family tree, is located in a library in Lewistown, Montana. Many northwestern Montana settlers relocated to the lower Clark Fork River valley from the Plentywood area in Montana. The library there hosts detailed accounts of their lives.
 
How can you find your ancestors?
  • Locate a library or museum in a town where an ancestor lived. Ask if any regional history books have been published. Request any that you find through Inter-library-loan. 
  • Ask if there is a talking book or digital version. Many old books have been republished in a digital book, or online.
  • Type family names into several online search engines. Each may return different results.
  • Utilize Ancestry.com. You won’t need to subscribe to Ancestry.com if your local library has access that you can use free.
  • Research ancestors through The Church of Latter Day Saints’ genealogy resources.
Unz.org is an excellent resource for locating books, periodicals and authors. The website has a powerful search engine, and is intended to provide convenient access to a large quantity of high-quality content material, mostly published over the last 150 years in America and England. It accesses over one million readable items, and titles of another million items not readable due to copyright.

You, too, might find and learn more about your ancestors in a little known regional history book. In doing so, you'll also make a author as happy as I am ~ knowing my work connects families.You may also have a grand reunion, like Tracey Lewis and her kinfolk, of family tree members you have yet to meet.