Notes from the White County Historical Society

By Charlene Shields

Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."

Copyright ©2002 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."

Volunteers have created index of local deaths from 1872 to 1946

From time to time I mention the new CDs, books and microfilms we
receive we are adding to our holdings all the time.

However, my all-time favorite genealogical research tool in our library
did not cost money. It cost untold thousands of hours of work on the
part of a few volunteers. And it's a wonderful aid to anyone searching
for White County ancestors.

This is a list of all the deaths printed in the Carmi newspapers from
1872 to 1946. This all came about as a result of the vision of Verla
Young of Carmi. She spent untold hours at the library reading the
microfilms of these newspapers. (I can spend a half hour at this and
have the headache, neckache and backache. It's beyond me how this
selfless lady could spend hours each day at the microfilm machine.)

She wrote down each death she found, and listed the newspaper in which
it was found. Then she went home and typed all this information. It
might be such a small item as, "Aunt Polly Johnson died last Thursday."
(Found in the news items from the Bumble Bee Bend community). Or as time
went on, the news items became more elaborate and contained obituaries
with names of family members, etc.

As Verla completed several pages, she would bring them to us. To date,
we have about 3,000 pages of her typing of local deaths.

This worked fine for a researcher if he or she knew the death date of
the relative who was being searched for. However, most people didn't
know if their elusive relative even died in this county, much less when
he died. And it took too long to look through those 3,000 pages of
deaths which were recorded according to the date they happened, although
that was a thousand times faster than trying to search the microfilms
for that information.

Enter two other dedicated volunteers: Linda Kay Kuykendall of
Crossville and Leda Knight of Omaha. These two made an index of all the
names on those 3,000 pages. Pat Davis, our hard-working librarian,
typed and alphabetized that index, which contains approximately 300,000
names. In my opinion, that was a task that only Pat would have finished.

Now, when someone is looking for an ancestor, it's a simple matter to
look to see if the name is in the index, then look up the date and name
of the newspaper which has this information. From there, it's easy to
find the right newspaper microfilm and read the entire death details
and print out a copy for one's genealogical records.

The index is not yet in final form, but it is quite usable, and will
enable the researcher to find information in minutes which probably
would never be found without this listing of White County deaths.
I think it's the greatest helper we have in our library, and I wish
there were some way to determine how many thousands and thousands of
volunteer hours went into its make-up.


The Genealogy Library is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2

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The Coordinator for the White County, Illinois ILGenWeb page is Cindy Birk Conley

Copyright © 2002 by Cindy Birk Conley, all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright notice must appear with the information.