Genealogy books

The genealogical library of the history center, a hidden treasure

BROWNSTOWN – Margo Brewer always heard she had a relative who was in the John Dillinger gang.

In 1924, Indianapolis native Dillinger robbed a grocery store and was arrested and imprisoned. He escaped and he and his gang headed to Chicago to form one of the most organized and deadly gangs of bank robbers in the nation, pursuing a crime spree until his arrest, according to history. com. This pattern continued until he was shot by the FBI in 1934.

Brewer’s cousin said there was an article in the Columbus newspaper that revealed her relative’s name: Clyde Steinbarger.

One morning while volunteering at the Jackson County History Center Genealogy Library in Brownstown, Brewer shared information about her relative with a few other volunteers, and they found the story on the site. Newspaper archive web.

It turns out that Steinbarger was one of Indiana’s most notorious crackers and had been linked to the Dillinger gang.

He was tried in Jackson County and sentenced to life imprisonment, but was released after three years. He was, however, killed in a grocery store in Leesville.

“He and his accomplice came in and broke the joint all week, and the owner was suspicious, so he called the police,” she said.

State police patrolled the place all week, and after the store closed at noon Sunday, Steinbarger and his accomplice broke in. When they saw a car slowly passing outside, the two men jumped behind the counter and landed on a state trooper, who shot Steinbarger. The accomplice, meanwhile, fell to the ground, hit his head, was knocked unconscious and was arrested.

Looking at a photo of Steinbarger, Brewer said she wondered how her grandfather’s sister ever ended up with him.

To this day, Brewer hasn’t learned how to crack a safe like his long-lost relative.

“It’s not in my direct line. He married into the family,” she said with a smile. “It’s the pleasure of genealogy. You never know what you’ll find.

Fellow volunteers Judy Stockhoff and Jeff Wray agreed.

“You don’t want to start your genealogy if you don’t want to learn something you don’t need to know,” Wray said with a smile.

“It’s addicting,” Stockhoff said.

Genealogical research is among the many offerings of the Joe E. Robertson Genealogical Library on the History Center campus at 105 N. Sugar St.

Volunteers can help people with their research through the history center’s free access to journals.com and ancestry.com, and there are also shelves full of books and filing cabinets with various types of historical documents.

Once a person enters the library, they are asked to sign a guestbook and share their research.

Then they pay $3 a day to research or become members for $15 (individual) or $25 (family) for year-round library access. If you need a copy of a document, it’s 25 cents for black and white or $1 for color.

“Once you’re a member, you can come in anytime,” Brewer said. “Even though people from out of state are going to come to work all week, it’s cheaper (to become a member).”

Stockhoff said she subscribes to ancestry.com at home and it’s expensive, so it’s good that the history center is offering it for free for people to do their research.

“It’s very rewarding to help them out,” Stockhoff said.

Wray warns that some genealogy websites don’t always have accurate information.

“You can go over there and get family trees that people have put in, but you don’t know where they got their information. Sometimes people go there and someone already has (information) there, and they’ll just copy it and they think that’s right,” he said. “So to be complete you need to show a birth certificate, death certificate, marriage license.”

Brewer suggested downloading a family tree program to a computer, collecting bits of information, organizing it, and taking the computer to the genealogical library for help from a trained volunteer.

In addition to the two websites, there are many other research options at the library.

This includes over 1,000 family history booklets that have been donated by families over the years. Many have Jackson County ties, but Brewer said it’s not required. Some booklets are handwritten, while others are typed and include items such as photos, death certificates, and obituaries.

There are also books with birth, death, marriage, cemetery and funeral home records. This includes funeral home records from other Indiana counties and other states.

Additionally, there are booklets with copies of wedding anniversary announcements that appear in the newspaper and copies of newspaper obituaries.

Various research books, county school yearbooks, photo albums, family reunion books, club albums, church records and German ancestry resources are also available on the shelves.

“We’re not letting anyone go,” Brewer said. “You can’t copy the whole book. You can copy the information you need.

Also in the library there are cabinets with microfilms from local newspapers and a microfilm reader which can be used for research.

If someone lives out of state they can email [email protected] and receive help in their research.

The history center also offers the Jackson County Pioneer Society, which recognizes anyone who is directly descended from someone living in the county during one of four time periods: pre-1820 (early families), 1820-1850 (founders ), 1851 to 1880 (settlers). ) and 1881 to 1910 (Builders).

Application forms are available at the genealogical library. New members are inducted each fall at the History Center’s Pioneer Dinner.

A couple of things visitors to the genealogical library can take home inexpensively are a map of Jackson County, a current map of Jackson County, and a family tree.

Currently, the library is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors are recommended to wear a face mask and practice social distancing.

Brewer said before the pandemic, the library averaged about 300 visitors a year. Since the start of the pandemic, however, visitor numbers have plummeted and she said there were usually not many people there at a time.

“Winter is a good time to start,” Brewer said of his stint doing research. “It’s cold outside. It’s hot in here.

The History Center is looking for volunteers to work half-days (9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.) in the genealogical library or help with upcoming fourth-year campus visits.

“When I volunteer here, I bring my own family research and work there,” Brewer said. “Then if someone comes along and needs help, we’re here to help.”