Celebrate Ohio Statehood Day with These Resources

Today is Ohio Statehood Day. Happy 208th Birthday, Ohio! (You don’t look a day over 207!) What better way to celebrate than by checking out some great resources for Ohio research. Here are some of my favorites, including some that are rather off the beaten path:

  • Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953 at FamilySearch.org. Digital images of death certificates — gotta love ’em. You do need to be logged into FamilySearch to see the images. (Registration is free.)
  • Ohio History Central. An online encyclopedia of Ohio history. Remember — you need to learn the history of an area to begin to understand the people.
  • Ohio Memory. Digital images from collections all across the state.
  • Ohio Cemetery Locations by The Ohio Genealogical Society. The free version gives the township and county. OGS members can log in and get much more detailed information, including GPS coordinates, alternate names, condition, etc.
  • Roster of Ohio Soldiers at OGS’ Ohio Civil War Genealogy Center. This is data from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. However, this search is much more flexible. Unlike the CWSS site, here you can search by Soundex. You can also get an entire regiment or a specific company in a regiment.
  • Remarkable Ohio. Searchable database of more than 1,300 historic markers around the state. They even have an app for iPhone! (I’m still waiting for them to come out with a version for Android.)

There’s an interesting footnote to Ohio Statehood Day. Ohio considers 1 March 1803 to be its “official” statehood date, as that is the date that the state’s General Assembly first met. It’s the date you’ll see listed in virtually every resource. However, there is a pretty convincing argument that statehood day should actually be February 19, 1803, which is when Thomas Jefferson endorsed the legislation approving Ohio’s admission to the Union. What would Ohio be without a little political controversy? :)

More hours at the Ohio Historical Society

The Ohio Historical Society has just announced that the Historical Center and the Archives/Library will be open more hours! Beginning July 1, the hours will be:

  • Thursdays 10am – 7pm
  • Fridays and Saturdays 10am – 5pm

This is fantastic news, as the Historical Center and the Archives/Library are currently open only Thursday from 9am-9pm. It’s not the hours that they were open before the legislature slashed their budget, but it is certainly an improvement.

The full press release can be found at http://www.ohiohistory.org/about/pr/060310a.html

Tricking a Database into Giving Me What I Want

Tonight while I was on Flickr, I came across this photo of Leon L. Devall’s tombstone with the title “135 years old?” According to the tombstone, he died in 1934. Since he’s buried in Ohio, I decided to look for his death certificate in the digitized Ohio Death Certificates on pilot.familysearch.org. The collection covers 1908-1953, so he should be in there (presuming he died in Ohio, of course). The problem — I couldn’t find him.

I tried searching for Leon Devall. No luck. I tried Devall with a death date of 1934. Nothing. I tried to do a wildcard search for Leon D*l, but was told that the wildcard had to be the last character in the search string and there had to be at least 3 letters in front of it. I tried dev*, but still didn’t find what I was looking for.

Curiosity got the better of me, so I went to the Ohio Historical Society’s online death certificate index. It wouldn’t give me the image, but it was another place to check to see if he actually died in Ohio. I entered Leon Devall and found him — died in Franklin County, 7 September 1934. This index has a wonderful feature — it lists the certificate number. That number (54218) became the key I needed to trick the FamilySearch database.

The OHS death certificate index also has an advanced search. In the advanced search, I looked for certificate 54217 — which should be the certificate right before Leon’s — with a death in Franklin County. In 1934, certificate 54217 belonged to Ella Urban. It is important to pay attention to the year of death, as each year the numbering of the certificates begin again at 1.

So now I know that Ella Urban is on the certificate immediately preceding Leon Devall. Back to the FamilySearch database, except that this time I looked for Ella Urban. She was in the database, exactly where I expected her to be. I clicked on the image and then — here’s the trick — I clicked on the arrow to see the next image:

Ella Urban's death certificate. The red circle shows where I clicked to get the next image in the collection.

When I clicked on that — lo and behold — there was certificate # 54218 “Leon De Vall.” (Out of curiosity, I did another search in the FamilySearch database to see if I could figure out exactly how he was indexed. As it turns out, he was indexed exactly as his name appears on the death certificate — with a space between “De” and “Vall.”) It took a trick and a back-door approach, but I made the FamilySearch database give me what I wanted.

Leon De Vall death certificate, #54218 (1934), Ohio Death Certificate collection, digitized image, FamilySearch.org. Image downloaded 20 May 2010.

As for the original question posed on Flickr: no, he was not born in 1809. He was born in 1869 and died at the age of 64, not 135. :-)

Ohio Historical Society is closed this week

A reminder to everyone that the Ohio Historical Society — including the Archives/Library — is closed today (March 28) through April 3. You can thank the Ohio legislature and their massive slashing of OHS’ budget for this.

Other OHS sites closed this week are:

  • Adena Mansion & Gardens (Chillicothe)
  • Armstrong Air & Space Museum (Waupakoneta)
  • Campus Martius Museum (Marietta)
  • Dunbar House (Dayton)
  • Fort Ancient (Oregonia)
  • Fort Meigs (Perrysburg)
  • Harding Home (Marion)
  • National Afro-American Museum (Wilberforce)
  • National Road/Zane Grey Museum (Zanesville)
  • Piqua Historical Area (Piqua)
  • Serpent Mound (Peebles)
  • Wahkeena Nature Preserve (Lancaster)
  • Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor (Youngstown)
  • Zoar Village (Zoar)

You can read the “Special Notice” on the OHS website:  http://www.ohiohistory.org/sn/010509.html

Ohio Historical to close for 1 week

The Ohio Historical Society has announced that, due to further funding cuts from the state, they will furlough employees and close specified sites for the week of March 28 – April 3. The sites that will be closed are:

  • Ohio Historical Center, including the Archives/Library (Columbus)
  • Adena Mansion & Gardens (Chillicothe)
  • Armstrong Air & Space Museum (Wapakoneta)
  • Campus Martius Museum (Marietta)
  • Dunbar House (Dayton)
  • Fort Ancient (Oregonia)
  • Fort Meigs (Perrysburg)
  • Harding Home (Marion)
  • National Afro-American Museum (Wilberforce)
  • Piqua Historical Area (Piqua)
  • Wahkeena (Lancaster)
  • Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor (Youngstown)
  • All history-related services, such as the Ohio Historic Preservation Office

The Archives/Library will re-open on Saturday, April 4. 

The announcement on the OHS website (http://www.ohiohistory.org/sn/010509.html) states that sites managed by OHS partners are not affected. People are urged to check the OHS website for the days and hours of operation for all OHS locations before visiting.

New Collections at the Ohio Historical Society

The Ohio Historical Society‘s Manuscripts & Audiovisual team has processed and catalogued several new collections. Some of them sound quite exciting, such as VFM 5699 “Civil War Muster Rolls, Payments and Enlistments” and VFM 5755 “30th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry Muster Rolls.”

The complete list can be found on the OHS blog.

More Cuts at the Ohio Historical Society

The Columbus Dispatch today has a story (front page of the local section, above the fold) about yet more cuts at the Ohio Historical Society

“The latest round of budget reductions ordered by Gov. Ted Strickland to make up a $1.2 billion state budget shortfall resulted in the loss of $1.2 million for the society. In the past seven years, the agency has lost 40 percent of its state funding. [the emphasis is mine — ajc]

“In response, the society announced yesterday that from March 28 to April 3 next year it will close all its sites and furlough employees.”

Don’t misunderstand — I’m not upset with OHS. They can only work with what they’ve got. The whole situation is a pathetic, sickening state of affairs. Artifacts and records are deteriorating. They’re down to 1/2 of 1 full-time equivalent to keep track of incoming records. Bill Laidlaw, OHS executive director and chief executive officer, estimates that they’ve lost “about a decade’s worth of agency records.” (Keep in mind that OHS serves at the State Archives for Ohio.)

You can read the entire article at:


If that link doesn’t work, try http://tinyurl.com/5zsw37