08 August 2012

Journey to the Past: Return to Columbus Metro Library

Feeling supercharged, I headed back to the CML before the evening activities. And yes, this is still only the third full day of research on my trip.

GenSmarts had recommended the Franklin County Will Books as a possible resource for my research. The Columbus Metropolitan Library has these books in their genealogy section. When I returned to the library, I quickly found the will books in a section specifically about Franklin County, Ohio. I also took notice of additional books that sounded interesting within this section. Would I have time to review them?

After going through each Will Book (lettered A-H), it was a primarily a bust. I found only three persons on my list. Thankfully I didn't have to order this microfilm or hire someone to look up this information. I can't justify an expenditure that comes up with such a short pay off. Perhaps I'm wrong about feeling this way, but I'm trying to be honest.

A page from the Franklin County, Ohio Will Abstracts
Will Book C

So, I had exhausted the records that I had specifically wanted to view prior to my trip to the library. I still had time on my hands, so I decide to investigate other the books in Franklin County collection. Yeah!

A page from German Village History
by Fay Maxwell

I came across one book that talked about German Village. I heard a lot about German Village growing up from my mother and my Grandma Brown. I found a great map of the area, a brief history of the section, and some other nuggets of information. It wasn't until later that it dawned on me. My German relatives didn't really live in this section. They lived in the county of Franklin rather than near the city of Columbus. Though I could drive to each place in about 10 – 20 minutes using the various highways, my 1860 relatives probably didn't have anything except horse and buggy. My guess is that they weren't a big part of German Village as I thought they might have been. BUT, my 'American' relatives did live in this section. And there lies the connection to this part of town. How ironic.

Next, I searched through the Surname Index of the Franklin County Genealogical Society. It was published in 1980. Now, I may be off base and I hope to be corrected if I am. Though I found a name or two in the index, it's probably not the best way to next work with fellow researchers. For one thing, the contacts are 30+ years old. So, I'm not sure what value I found in the Surname Index. I think they may have served their purpose in the past. However, I think technology has replaced the Surname Indexes.

After returning that book to the shelves, I found a book called The Columbus Catholic Cemetery 1846-1874, by Donald M Schlegel. I figured it was worth the effort to search through this as I had German Catholic relatives. In the book, I found Joseph Kiessler buried July 7, 1863. I have a copy of this burial book and it is believed that this Joseph is my 3rd great-grandfather Joseph Geiszler. On his naturalization certificate, the last name is also spelled with a K, so it's possible that the German speaking man continued to have trouble with the 'correct' spelling of his name even when he died.

The book was a FABULOUS find. In addition to listing persons buried in the cemetery that is no longer, I found out why the cemetery is no longer. The short version is that this particular cemetery (located about 1 mile northeast of the state capitol building) was not cared for. So much so that it was used as a play ground. In any case, a legal battle ensued and the Catholic church was told to move the persons buried, and any markers, to another site (Mt Calvary Cemetery) by the end of 1887 (24 years after my great-grandfather's death). A legal battle continued to 1891 with a Supreme Court of Ohio decision that surmised that since the cemetery was so poorly kept, that the use as a cemetery was no longer a value and the interments should be removed. At least 1,700 graves had once been in the cemetery, but only 50 were moved to Mt. Calvary. Families with persons buried in the old cemetery probably died out, moved west, were too poor to remove the remains, or had lost knowledge of family members buried there (the later would be my family's situation).

Around 1905, the site would become the place for St. Patrick's High School and later Aquinas College High School. From the original excavation to any additional diggings for new buildings, body parts had been dug up from the old cemetery. These body parts were moved to the Mt Calvary sight whenever possible but no markers were available to identify the remains.

I believe that if Joseph Kiessler is indeed my 3rd great-grandfather and he was among the 1,650 who were never transferred to Mt Calvary Cemetery. Though the story is tragic, at least I know what may have happened to the place where my German ancestor was interred. And though there is no stone, there is a story.

After viewing these books, I decided to call it a day. In hind sight, I should have asked if they had plat maps. But I was off to see my aunt play softball, or so I thought. 

This is another installment in a lengthy multi-series post about the fantastic research trip I took to Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. If you're just joining the this series, you'll be able to see every post under the label Research Trip.

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