I had a very pleasant experience at the library today that I really wanted to share. It started as I was entering the library. As usual; I arrived at the library; and went up the elevator from the parking garage. Upon entering the library; I overheard an elderly gentleman ask the security guard where the Genealogy Department was. The guard explained to him where it was. As soon as he walked away; I informed him that he could simply follow me; that I was headed that way. During our brief walk to the elevators; and our ride up to the second floor; he informed me that he had only recently learned that the genealogy department at the Allen County Library was supposed to be a really good one. I explained that it is the second largest genealogy library in the U.S. Although he lives locally; he had never been here. In fact; he had never really even started researching his family history; but wanted to do so. During our conversation, I told him that I researched professionally; and spend at least a couple of days a week at the library there.
Upon entering the genealogy department; I asked him where his family was from. He explained that they had come from France originally; but his parents, grandparents and great grandfather had lived in Adams and Allen counties.
I immediately decided that I wanted to help him get started. I introduced myself; and he to me. His name is Lester Zehr. He was born in 1930. Since he was not familiar with the census records; and had never searched those; we sat down; I booted up my laptop; and proceed to locate him with his parents in the 1940 census. From there; I decided to go ahead and back track the family into the earlier census records. Lester was amazed to see himself; his parents; his grandparents; and his great-grandparents in the census records. I also found the WW2 Draft Registration of his grandfather; Amos Zehr.
From the census records; we learned that his great-grandfather, George Zehr was born in 1842. We also learned from the census records that he had immigrated to the U.S. in 1866. At that point; I knew I had to go to the bookshelves to the “Germans To America” series. It took only a few minutes to locate George Zehr in one of those volumes; showing us when he departed Germany for the U.S.; the name of the ship he traveled on; and the date that he arrived.
Since the family seemed to have lived in Adams County for a lot of years; I decided to take a quick glance at some of the books at the library regarding Adams County. Within a few minutes I found a wonderful biography about George and his family from an Adams County History book which had been published in 1907; many years before George had died. The biography gave wonderful details about his immigration to the U.S.; and his life in the U.S. It also gave the names of his parents.
Lester obviously had not planned on spending a lot of time at the library. So…. I took him over to the copying machines and helped him make copies of a couple of the things we had found. Of course I handed him a business card before he left. He thank me and thank me for taking the time to help him; and for giving him much more information than he had known about his ancestors. Lester left the library a very happy man; and left me with a big smile on my face; and a sense of pride as well.
After Lester left; I got to work on the research for my clients that I had intended for the day.
What a wonderful experience. Just had to share it.