Genealogy gems at Rowan Public Library

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 6, 2018

By Gretchen Witt

Rowan Public Library

Interested in tracing your family heritage? The History Room at Rowan Public Library has just the resources — a few new books that will help the novice and the experienced researcher find the answers to the mysteries of family history.

Many have turned to “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to …” in any number of topics from computer use to car repair. Genealogy too has its own “Idiot’s Guide” by Christine Rose and Kay Germain Ingalls. With explanations about what to search, how to search for it and ways to explore many other topics, it’s the perfect place to start. With chapters on “Starting with Mom and Dad” and “Picnic in the Cemetery,” to “Resolving Discrepancies,” this book covers it all.

The newspaper section declares there is more to find in newspapers than obituaries and wedding announcements — traffic accidents, scouting awards, church functions, school projects, trials, scandals and good deeds are also reported in the local news sheets and can be invaluable for filling in the history of a family between censuses.

Although much information can be found on the internet these days, occasionally an old-fashioned letter is the way to contact a second cousin thrice removed to find out more information about a common ancestor. Have you ever wondered if you were eligible to belong to a lineage society — Sons of the American Revolution or Colonial Dames? All these subjects and more are covered in Rose and Ingalls “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Genealogy.”

If one is a complete rookie when it comes to genealogical research and time is limited, take a look at “Genealogy Basics in 30 minutes” by Shannon Combs-Bennett. A Silver Winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award of the Independent Book Publishers Association, this slim volume is part of the “Quick Guides for a Complex World” series. An experienced researcher, Combs-Bennett points out the five most common mistakes a new researcher might make — researching the wrong family, trusting “published” trees, matching dates, repeated first names and spelling variations.

Spelling variations can be frustrating to any researcher but earlier generations did not employ standard spelling and many were spelled phonetically. The researcher needs to expand the search to include similar names as well as spelling variations to cover all the bases. Many books and much information on the net are not verifiable.

Folks sometimes republish family trees without confirming the information is true. Some published books on family lines or names contain mistakes or connect families that are not in fact related. These and other tips for successful researching are all neatly and succinctly presented. is the largest free genealogical website with myriad documents that are useful for ancestral research. Dana McCullough has published the “Unofficial Gide to” that can help navigate the ins and outs of the documents held by Family Search. Not only does the site have United States census, vital, immigration, military, probate and court records, FamilySearch also has European, Canadian, Mexican and Latin American records.

The book also includes specific searching techniques, worksheets to aid in analyzing and a whole host of suggestions on how to find that elusive connection. These newly acquired books and many others are available in the History Room to assist in unearthing family stories.

Mother’s Day Paint Class: May 8, 6:30 p.m., East branch, Rockwell. Celebrate Mother’s Day early with a fun and free paint class. All supplies provided — just wear your painting clothes. All ages are welcome. Attendees do not have to be related. Registration is required as space is limited. To register, call Bethany at 704-216-7842.

Ramble Through Rowan: Beginning May 8, on Tuesday mornings at 10, an episode of the “Ramble Through Rowan” films will be shown at Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, 1120 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. S. in Salisbury. There will be exhibit and discussion time after each screening. Series ends June 19. Open to the public.

Classic Cinema Series: May 11, 2 p.m., East. This 1974 version of “Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express” is rated PG and has a run time of 127 minutes. While the series is part of Adult Outreach Services and designed for retired individuals, this free event is open to the public, and all ages are welcome. For more details, call 704-216-7842. After May 11, the Classic Cinema Series will go on hiatus until September.

Genealogy Workshop: May 12, 10 a.m., headquarters, focusing on library resources useful in genealogical research. It will examine databases like Fold3, African-American Heritage and Historic North Carolina Newspapers and learn what information they offer. This event, co-hosted by the Genealogical Society of Rowan County and the Edith M. Clark History Room of RPL, is free and open to the public. Call 704-216-8253 for more information.

Movie Night: May 14, 5:30 p.m., “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” East. It is impossible to enjoy May without watching the Force used by a Jedi. This 2017 movie runs 152 minutes and is rated PG-13. All ages are welcome; however, an adult must accompany children under 13. Light refreshments. For more details, call 704-216-7842.

Learn. Act. Grow: The Buzz about N.C. Pollinators, May 14, 6:30 p.m., South Regional, China Grove. Learn all about pollinators from Jamie Watkins, a local environmental educator. Then build a small pollinator project (or two) to take home. Questions? Call Paul at 704-216-7737.

Star Wars Scavenger Hunt: East, May 1-31. The galaxy is in need of a team of heroes one more time — but the heroes and heroines are nowhere to be found. Use clues to find and assemble the perfect team to save the galaxy once again. Need more information? Call Bethany at 704-216-7842.

Cheerwine History exhibit: Headquarters. Created by L.D. Peeler in 1917 in Salisbury, Cheerwine celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017 with the first Cheerwine Festival. This year, during the now-annual event, RPL will host an exclusive exhibit commemorating the company’s history and featuring artifacts from the Carolina Beverage Corporation archives. The exhibit will be on display in the gallery and front lobby during business hours May 9-19.

RPL celebrates Cheerwine: May 19, headquarters. RPL is an official Cheerwine Festival participant. Learn the history of Cheerwine with the exhibit from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and an exclusive digital presentation in Stanback Auditorium from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The historical Henderson Law Office, located at the corner of West Fisher and South Church streets, will be open for free tours from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Festival-goers may participate in a Cheerwine bookmark contest judged by Cheerwine personnel. There are three age categories: Adult (18 and up), Teen (11 to 17), and Children (0 to 10). Winners will be announced at 4 p.m. and will receive a $50 gift card. Participants need not be present to win.

Summer Reading Preview: May 19, 12:30-5 p.m., headquarters. Get a special look at the teen and adult programs that will be offered as part of the “Libraries Rock!” summer reading program, then register using the new-to-RPL READsquared program to begin logging reading minutes and qualifying to win prizes.

Silent Disco: May 19, 1-4 p.m. Popular at music festivals, wedding receptions and even United Nations conferences, now you can experience the new Silent Disco trend at RPL. Grab a pair of special wireless headphones and dance (or just sing along) to the songs being broadcast directly to you, no live DJ necessary.  Listen to just one channel or switch between three different stations, with a variety of genres and music styles to choose from. The Silent Disco is sponsored by the Friends of RPL. This event is free, and up to 50 may participate in the disco at a time. For ages 10 and up.

NC Department of Natural & Cultural Resources Traveling Exhibit: North Carolina in World War I (HQ). In honor of the centennial of World War I, this traveling exhibit contains panels with information on both the soldiers abroad and the home front here in North Carolina. It shares information on the various military installations in the state, discusses U-boat activity off the coast, and seeks to put the war in context. View the exhibit in headquarters’ lobby, during business hours through May 20.

Displays: Headquarters, quilt display by Three Friends Quilting and Cheerwine History by Cheerwine and RPL; East,vintage lunchbox collection by Sharon ross; South, student art exhibit by South Rowan High School Art Classes.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.