Kinsearching January 13, 2008




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Is learning how to trace your family tree one of your New Year's resolutions? Did any of your forebears reside in Indiana? If you need a manual about research in both of these areas, you will find helpful data in WHO'S YOUR HOOSIER ANCESTOR? GENEALOGY FOR BEGINNERS by Mona Robinson.

     Because genealogy and history are intertwined, Robinson sets the study of Indiana's genealogical records in their historical context as she describes them, explains their value and use, and tells how and where to locate them. She begins with a detailed description of the state's geography, which gives genealogists an understanding of how the land affected the way their ancestors lived in different parts of Indiana. Her chapters dealing with the state's early Indians, boundary changes, and emigrant trails further enhance researchers' perception of why their predecessors lived as they did and of the opportunities and obstacles they faced. Another chapter discusses the multiplicity of peoples who settled in Indiana, from the French in the early 1700s to Mexicans and African-Americans in the twentieth century.

     The other chapters provide interesting information on the assortment of materials important in family research, such as military records. In addition to material about well-known wars like the American Revolution, Robinson furnishes data about the Black Hawk War of 1832 and battles like Tippecanoe.

     Besides supplying facts about cemetery records and the major churches, the author depicts such denominations as Mennonite, German Baptist Brethren, and Disciples of Christ (known as the Christian Church). Her brief descriptions of basic beliefs of religious affiliations, particularly the smaller ones, give genealogists insight into the spiritual life of their Indiana forebears.

     Chapters also concern county records, censuses, and county histories and miscellaneous resources. Scattered throughout the text are many helpful research hints. Under the topic of telephone directories, for example, Robinson states that only the affluent could afford phones when they first became available; researchers may be able to use that fact to distinguish between individuals with the same name who lived in a particular town in a specific year.

     Written in a scholarly but readable manner, Robinson's book contains much beneficial and fascinating material for the advanced genealogical researcher--especially one who has a deep interest in history, too. Persons just starting family research, however, may be wise to read Chapter 11, which explains basic genealogical principles, before delving into the detailed accounts of various resources and trying to apply the records to the research process.

     Accompanying the text are several useful state maps, illustrations, and reproductions of documents. The volume also has a preface, end notes for documentation, a bibliography, and a list of works for suggested reading.

     Since the book was first published in 1992, it has not been updated to reflect the transformation in family research caused by the computer age. Perhaps the next edition will correct the oversight. Despite this drawback, the publication contains a wealth of historical material and basic research principles. For these reasons, WHO'S YOUR HOOSIER ANCESTOR? GENEALOGY FOR BEGINNERS continues to be a useful reference book.

     The 215-page paperback is indexed. To the price of $24.95, purchasers should add $5.00 shipping and handling charges for one copy and $1.00 for each additional copy. The volume may be purchased from Indiana University Press, 601 North Morton Street, Bloomington, IN 47404-3797 (toll free orders 800-842-6796; e-mail

     Charles N. Ferguson, 811 South Market, Shawnee, OK 74801 is seeking information about this family who lived in Tarrant Co., TX, in 1880. Thomas Garner BIRDWELL, born in 1815 in Alabama and died after 1870 in Texas, married Rebecca E. LIPSEY, born in 1838 and died after 1880 in Texas. Their children were

Rebecca J., born in 1863 and died in 1934;
Lyda D., born in 1867 and died in 1957;
Thomas Almarine, born in 1865;
George W., born in 1871 and died in 1889 in Oklahoma;
and Cora BIRDWELL, born in 1873 in Texas.

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