ROOM TO WORK  — The Genealogy and Local History department sits in the basement of the main branch of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library.
Herald Photo / Jenn Goad
ROOM TO WORK — The Genealogy and Local History department sits in the basement of the main branch of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library. Herald Photo / Jenn Goad

Studying the family tree is a long-time practice for some, and while digging up the relative roots is gaining attention in popular culture, it takes time and patience to get to the good stuff. 

Two events will be held at the Kokomo Howard County Public Library in the Genealogy Department on the ground level of the building.

D.A.R. Event
The Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) and its extended group, Children of the American Revolution (C.A.R.), will host an event on Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. to help those interested find and follow the correct steps to become a member of this long-time lineage society.

The D.A.R. is a society of people who can trace their family line to someone who was involved as a patriot during the American Revolution, be it serviceman or supplier. The organization helps promote education, historic preservation, and patriotism.

“There are a lot of these lineage societies, and the D.A.R. is one that is more well-known. The S.A.R., Sons of the American Revolution, is older than the D.A.R. The woman who formed the D.A.R. was mad because she couldn’t attend an S.A.R. meeting so she decided she was going to hold meetings for the ladies,” said Amy Russell, head of the Genealogy Department at KHCPL and the Regent for the General James Cox Chapter of the D.A.R.

“We’re going to show people, step by step, how to go through each generation and find the documentation they need. There is a worksheet, and you connect the dots and see how far you get,” she said. “Once you get back there and have the paperwork filled out and submit the application, it can take two to three months to get approval. The D.A.R. has very stringent guidelines, and they must be followed to make the application work. And that is what we are here to help with.”

For those interested in learning how to become a member of the D.A.R., this event will help the interested parties learn what steps need to take place during the application process and how to proceed with the research. 

Russell said that D.A.R. meetings are open to the public, but visitors cannot vote in matters of the organization. They meet the second Tuesday of each month. For those wanting more information on the D.A.R., contact Russell at amy_russell_55@hotmail.com.

Night Owls
Then, on Oct. 13 from 5:30 p.m. to 12 a.m., those who register can participate in the Night Owls event at the library. The Night Owls is an opportunity to research the family tree after the main branch of the library closes for the night.

“It’s an evening of concentrated research. The library is closed. We have four or five people on staff, and we concentrate on helping others find their roots if they need help. Sometimes they don’t; they just want the quiet time,” Russell said. “I always find it amazing that we can have a room full of people and you can hear a pin drop.”

The Genealogy room at the Main Branch is a well-known resource in genealogy circles, but not many people in the general public realize the resource is there.

“A lot of people, many times starting out, think you can get everything on the Internet, and it’s just not possible. Not everything will ever be digitized or put on the Internet. We have a resource here with many things that you’re not going to find in other libraries, and you’re certainly not going to find them on the Internet,” said Russell. “We have people on staff that have been doing this for a long time, and the knowledge they have in their heads is just incredible. You can’t find that on the Internet, either. Between the experience and the one-of-the-kind information we have, it makes it valuable to come here.”

The Kokomo genealogy room is stocked with books, newspaper files (the Surname files), and the popular obituary index.

“For every year, we have a book of local obituaries. That saves people having to go to the microfilm to hunt things. We have books of cemetery records. We have church records, surname files,” she said. “If your family has been active at any time, we might have a file on them. We have newspapers on microfilm.”

From experienced hunters to beginners, the staff at the library is ready to answer questions and help when they can. Beginners can get help from the staff to populate their family’s pedigree chart to get the basic family information compiled to move forward.

“We show them how to start with the information they already know. When they bring it back, we can pick up on that information and find more but people have to start with themselves,” Russell said. “The pedigree chart is where they put their name, birth date, and location. Then they can add their parents and grandparents. They’ll know birth dates and possibly death dates. We tell them to start with themselves and go backward. Many want to start with the long-ago relatives and come back. It doesn’t always work out that way.”

Those wishing to participate in the upcoming Night Owls need to register by Oct. 11. The cost is $15, which will include dinner. Participants do not have to stay the whole time, but there will be staff from start to finish.