I feel like I’m on a bit of a permanent vacation these days. I know it’s not true. I go back to work soon. I’m also doing some work from home in between to keep us off the streets. Not that my monetary contributions to the household really do anything but pay my students loans…
This sob story is for another time.
Anyway, I have been enjoying lovely little weekday trips. I had one yesterday and one today…both with a little ancestry research in the mix.
Here is yesterday:
A few weeks ago I was at the Indiana State Library (which, as you remember, I have mad love for) and found out that a group of my ancestors, the Staudts, came from Wolfersweiler, Germany. Is that not the best name for a town? It might be. So I also discovered that a woman by the name of Burgert had written a number of books and pamphlets over German immigration to the United States. So I looked to see if the one about Wolfersweiler was anywhere in a library near me, and it was, kind of. It was in Anderson.
Anderson is a sleepy little town NE of Indianapolis, known for a few things:
You might not know this about me, but I love the pony races. I looked at this as an opportunity to take a trip and see some horsies. I called up a couple dependable adventureres: My younger sister, ‘Lil Amy, and my trusty friend in genealogy, we’ll call her Jumwaltie. They were excited to join me on this trip.
We got to Anderson, drove through the downtown, and all got kind of sad. It was a bit mopey. The library was kind of awesome though. And it was right next door to a Rax! I haven’t seen a Rax since about 1990, which is when they all closed in Indianapolis. I still get a little reminiscent and teary-eyed thinking about the plastic alligator cups that came with the kids meals. They were so great. Anyway…
We find the Indiana Room very easily at the library and I found my book within 2 minutes of stepping foot in there. It is a very well organized space. I got the information I needed…and then looked around to see what everyone else was doing. Jumwaltie was looking up some of her own family from Bucks County, Pennsylvania and found some birth records. Lil Amy was doing her favorite research activity, hunting down death records of absolute strangers. She finds the way people died to be very interesting (and sometimes amusing). The most interesting record she found was in one of the Marion County, Indiana books. One little boy was killed by a streetcar right outside of where Lil Amy used to live downtown. He was 6. I’m guessing this sort of thing happened a lot.
We also found a very interesting book, which included the inbound and outbound records for the Indianapolis Asylum for Friendless Colored Children. This was an institution that was opened in Indianapolis by the Quakers in 1870. Some of the information in there was amusing, some was devastating. Often children would be taken there if their parents couldn’t care for them (especially if they were sick). So their in-date might be 3/21 and then on 3/23 it will say that they died. This happened a lot.
Here is one of my favorite titles of the day, because it was just so tragically blunt:
I had to thumb through this one for a minute. You have to.
After getting some questions and a few dirty looks from a lady who worked in the Indiana Room, we decided to head to the track and get our betting on.
I won’t go into the specifics of how that part of the trip went, but I did come out a winner (and by “winner” I mean I broke even). Julia won in one race. Lil Amy won in at least one. I bet on the girliest-named horse, just for Andrew (like he asked). That horse did not win.
On the way home we were talking about cemeteries (because we would be visiting a few on Friday) and Lil Amy said there is a cemetery near Julia’s house that she LOVES to visit, and can we please go? We will LOVE it. It’s SO CREEPY. So we agree to go. Then she started explaining how we get there. Then it started sprinkling. I started to wonder if this was a good idea. It didn’t matter. She thought it was.
Directions for visiting West Cemetery in Hamilton County.
- Park at Walgreens at 96th and Allisonville
- Walk west down 96th street, and to be safe stay in the grass (which is not comfortable in sandles currently)
- Turn onto the gravel road
- Follow the gravel road till it kind of ends
- Follow Lil Amy down what seems to be potentially a deer path to the edge of some woods.
- Walk into the woods and look for a sort of clearing.
- See headstones and walk towards them
- Trip on a headstone as soon as you get into the “cemetery” because it is completely covered in overgrown 3 foot tall grass. It does look as though someone has tried to kill the grass immediately surrounding the center of the cemetery cause it’s now 3 foot tall brown grass.
- Start flailing your arms wildly because you realize you are being attacked by giant mosquitoes that have never tasted human blood and are very intrigued.
- Look as quickly as possible at headstones that might be interesting and try to remember how you got in and desperately seek out an exit route.
- Exit out the obvious, open way that you did not come in because you couldn’t see it.
- Seek out a new deer path which hopefully doesn’t have as many stickers and itchy, sting-y plants. Continue swatting the bugs that have followed you out of the woods. Note: These bugs will probably “bug” you till you get to your car again.
Now, I don’t want this all to be negative. This would be a great place to go when it is not July. It certainly reminded me of that cemetery search I went on with Andrew about a year ago, where we ended up climbing barbed wire just to get to the edge of a cemetery that was so overgrown we could hardly see anything. This little bit of 96th Street is still amazingly beautiful. They are probably developing it very soon, which makes me sad. If they do I wonder what will happen to this little cemetery in the middle of the woods. According to findagrave.com this little cemetery was part of the farm that once belonged to John W. Becker.
I wanted nothing more than to get in the shower. I almost asked Walgreens if they had one in the back. I figured I would be home soon enough. I dropped off Jumwaltie. Then Lil Amy wanted ice cream. How do I say “no” to that? I don’t. We went. Brics. That’s all I have to say. If you’re in Indianapolis, go here. Now. Put down whatever you are doing now, and go eat at this shop.
Then I went home…and showered…for longer than was probably appropriate. It was a good day. An adventurous day of research is always a good day, especially when it involves gambling at a horsetrack.