Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Tiniest Level of Research - A Local Historical Society

I recently spent part of a Sunday afternoon at a local historical society near to where I live.
The Butler Museum is located in the small town of Butler, Richland Co., Ohio.  It is located just 14 miles south of Mansfield, the largest city in Richland County, and the county seat.

A friend of ours has been elected Vice-President of the Historical Society, and began telling me of all of the items that are available in this tiny society.  So, even though I have absolutely no relatives in this part of the state, I knew I just had to look.  It took us less than fifteen minutes to drive there.

Let me take you on a tour of some things I found.

Books!!! Clerk's Account Books, Criminal Dockets, and a few others that are behind glass, and very fragile.  We did find the keys and opened up a few.

A resident of the town had a huge bank collection.  Here is a beehive all the way from the Beehive State of Utah.  It was made in Ogden.  Now, how in the world did it find its place here in central Ohio?

I would have loved to look through the collection of old Bibles in the glass case.  

These books are historical records from Butler Village.  They are old, dating back to the early 1900's.

In the basement is this beautifully preserved Chrysler.  The Weekly Car Dealership has been there for years, and was a place my father would go to for his car purchase.  This car is just sitting there gleaming.

And, right beside that beautiful Chrysler is a wagon and a carriage, in perfect condition.

The above photos are among several ledgers from the Clerk's Fund Account.  They are filled with names of residents of the Village.

In the back room of the basement, there are plastic airtight containers with dozens of collections similar to the above.  Look at the one marked "Floyd Wise Diaries".  I don't even know who Floyd Wise is.  But, this container was filled with his diaries.

One of the famous residents of this area was Cyrus "Cy" Gatton.  Rick Sowash did a wonderful one-man rendition of his life.  Here he is, pictured with his wife Mary.

Dr. Betty Reed was a prominent physician in this community, and came from a long line of doctors.  She was also a wonderful genealogist, and visited us at the Family History Center often.  A special display greets you when you first enter the building, honoring this great woman.

There is also a container in the basement housing some of her records.  Have you ever looked for physician's records in your areas of research?

I didn't get this book out of the cabinet, but when I return I want to know just what kind of licenses were recorded in this volume.

There is a cumulative list of all of those old books behind the glass doors.

I don't know why a Mansfield Directory from 1908-09 would be in this town 14 miles to the south.

A very interesting display caught my eye on the first floor.  The Mt. Sinai Evangelical Church has several pages of subscriptions, which include names and amounts.  I'm going to have to find out more about subscriptions.

The newspaper collection fascinated me!  Some of them date back to 1860!!  That's before the Civil War began.  The ones I saw are in archival boxes in between archival sheets for their protection.

Little baby Frances, age 6 months, is all decked out in a beautiful little gown.  It was housed in a beautiful album, and names were on the back of nearly every photo I looked at.

This may be a bit difficult to read, but it a photo of the parents of Cyrus "Cy" Gatton, who is mentioned above.

The photos were found in this beautiful album.  The cover is like a hard plastic, and unfortunately detaches from the album.  But, they have kept it all together.

Wow!  This is a panoramic photograph from the neighboring town of Bellville.  I believe it was dated 1909.  It shows the gazebo in the background, as well as several buildings that are still standing.  There are hundreds of citizens in the photo.

I love looking through school records.  I was even asked to be an instructor for Ancestry.com on school records.  Have you seen it?

These are old history books of Richland County.

I knew the above would be a gold mine when I saw the tattered edges.  It's a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from 1929 for Mansfield!  Again, I don't know how it found its home here.

Little wooden replicas of all of the schools that were in the area!!!  

Did I mention how much I love school records?

Now, why would I be so excited about a tiny historical society in an area that I have no relatives in?  Because these little societies exist everywhere.  
We are all familiar with the big internet sites that help us fill in so many blanks.
We are also familiar with state libraries and archives where we can glean through books and microfilms.

But, don't leave out the tiny places where you just might find information unavailable anywhere else.  I'm unsure if the above books also have copies in other places.  And, since this is not an ancestral area for me, I probably won't look.  

But, you can bet that I will be digging into historical societies like this when I am on my next genealogy trip!


  1. Very nice display of what is available at this historical society. A great way to spend some time. It is important to support such societies.

  2. What wonderful finds!! My niece's husband's family is from the Mansfield area. I need to add this to my list of genealogy travel stops!