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Family Oral History — The Power of Stories, Rituals and Resilience

Between Thanksgiving and the end of the year we spend a lot of time thinking about family, planning get-togethers, cooking and buying gifts – all for the ones we love best. As Americans we tend to focus on the future and not the past. But this is a great time of year to slow down and remember -- and learn from -- those we love. There’s research that shows that children who know their family’s history – both the happy times and the challenging ones – are more resilient, confident and happy than children who don’t (see The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler). He calls it a “…strong intergenerational self. They know they belong to something bigger than themselves.” Mr. and Mrs. Gisellie Baker with (left to right) Cindy (2), Priscilla (3), Paul J. (2), Richard (2), Anthony (5). Photograph Courtesy of Faces and Places.            “The most healthful narrative … is the oscillating family narrative. ‘Dear, let me tell you we’ve had ups and downs in our family. We built a family business. Your grandfather was the pillar of the community. Your mother was on the board of the hospital. But we also had setbacks. We had a house burn down. Your father lost a job. But no matter what happened we always stuck together as a family.’” --Bruce Feiler   Should you decide to take part in a Family Oral History, here’s a few things to consider:   Keep others involved Starting a family oral history project takes a bit of preparation and time. There’s a lot of things you need to think about so take some time to put together a plan. But you can do [...]

Five Ways to Learn Your Family History

Holiday gatherings are a great source of family fun. They can also be a great source of family information to help you learn more about your history. Here are five things you should do at your next family gathering so those family memories last forever: Think about what you want to learn. Where did grandma meet grandpa? Where was great-great cousin Lou born? What war did great uncle Joe serve in? Make a list of questions ahead of time and be sure to ask: birthplace, names of parents and siblings, where they lived, churches attended, burial locations, marriages, occupations, military service, public service, schools attended, etc. Not only will you get valuable information, you’re sure to hear some entertaining stories! Create a list of family members. Sit down with some of the older members in your family and ask them to list names of their brothers, sisters, grandparents and so on as far back as they can remember. Make sure to write down all the names and details like place of birth if possible. Even better, use your smartphone or tablet to record members of your family talking about it. Share and share alike. You may find that someone else in your family is working on your genealogy as well. Share what you’ve learned. Genealogy is a great way to connect with others and sharing family data, research tips, and resources can go a long way in making contacts and/or finding those missing pieces. If you have extended and far away family, use social media to let them know what you’re doing and ask if they have anything to add. Create a Facebook group where you post family history and invite your family to join. [...]

By |November 21st, 2018|Categories: blog, Featured Post|0 Comments

Expanded Online Access to the Kentucky Post Available

The Kenton County Public Library is proud to offer for a limited time expanded coverage of the Kentucky Post. The new  database offered through NewsBank is keyword searchable and includes digitized images of the paper between 1895-1962. The database is available for free from inside any branch of the Kenton County Public Library system. Also, the database can be accessed from home for free with your Kenton County Public Library card. To access the Kentucky Post database follow these instructions: Visit: www.kentonlibrary.org/genealogy Click on Research Tools Click on Kentucky Post If you are outside of the Library - enter your Library card number Under the Heading "America's News - Historical and Current" click on "Kentucky Post Historical and Current" From this screen you can search the database. This search also covers the text only access for the Kentucky Post from 1990-2013 Questions or comments? Contact the Local History and Genealogy Department at (859)962-4070 or via email at history@kentonlibrary.org  

Celebrate Family History Month at KCPL

We are spooktacularly delighted that October is coming (and it's not just because of cooler weather, fall leaves, pumpkins, or Halloween)! Family History Month is our favorite part of October in the Local History and Genealogy Department. To celebrate, we've got a month full of programs to help you with your family history research and learn more about the history of our area. Learn more about the sensational stories in the Licking Riverside neighborhood this month at KCPL. Photograph courtesy of Faces and Places. www.kentonlibrary.org/genphotos On Columbus Day, Monday, October 8, attend our Scandals & Mayhem: A Historic Walking Tour of Licking Riverside and Governors Point neighborhood. We'll recount the grim stories of the neighborhood's prior inhabitants and share some of the scandals that rocked the neighborhood. You have two chances to take the tour, once at 2 PM and then again at 6 PM. The tour will depart from the Local History and Genealogy Department at Covington. The Kenton County Historical Society is sponsoring an Antiques Appraisal Fair on Saturday, October 13 from 11 AM - 2 PM. Always wondered what that old vase was worth? Talk with antiques appraisal experts to see if you might be sitting on a pile of antique "gold." Photographs of large furniture pieces are preferred. The fair will take place in the BB&T meeting room at the Covington Branch. Are you researching your ancestors who might have served in the American Revolution? Interested in joining the DAR? Then mark your calendars and plan to meet with members of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution on Tuesday, October 16 @ 9 AM at the Covington Library. Members of the DAR will discuss the necessary steps toward [...]

DIY Sock Snowmen of Kentucky Historic Icons

There are Craft People™, there are those who craft, and there are those who do not. I am one of those who do not. On the rare occasion I find myself artistically afflicted, I look for projects that are easy and fun, with little-to-no clean up required. Since winter in Northern Kentucky can often feel never-ending, a snow-themed project sounds like the perfect way to break up the monotony, while celebrating the season. For my chosen craft, I decided to make no-sew sock snowmen, modeled after well-known Kentucky figures: Abraham Lincoln (16th President of the United States), Colonel Sanders (founder of the always delicious Kentucky Fried Chicken), Loretta Lynn (award-winning country singer and coal miner’s daughter), and Simon Kenton (legendary pioneer and county namesake). This project is simple enough to construct, appropriate for people of all ages (as is the case with most crafts, I’d recommend adult supervision for younger kids). You’ll need white socks, scissors, polyester stuffing (rice or beans work better, though), thread, buttons, markers, ribbon, and any other supplies you deem necessary to bring your snowperson to life. Let’s begin! Turn a sock inside out and cut it into two parts, just a few inches below the heel. (Hold on to the toe-end of the sock – we’ll make a hat out of that piece later!)   Take a piece of thread, wrap it around the newly cut end of the sock, and tie a knot. Turn the sock outside in (back to the way it was originally packaged; the knot is hidden this way). Fill the sock full of polyester stuffing (or rice or beans) and shape along the way in to a snowman silhouette. Then separate the two spheres of [...]

Using The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

USING THE SANBORN FIRE INSURANCE MAP We’ve done a blog post in the past concerning our Sanborn Fire Map collection, and I wanted to go one step further; while the previous post dealt with the nature and scope of the collection, I wanted to show you how to use the maps for your property research.  We have digitized maps from 1886, 1894, 1909, and 1909-1949 for Covington and vicinity, and a subscription for the entire state of Kentucky in the years that are digitally available; print maps of Covington (Vol 1) and the surrounding areas (Vol  2) that originated 1909 and are physically updated through about 1950; and 1946-1992 on microfilm. I begin below with an annotated graphical introduction to the characteristics of the maps and a view of the Sanborn’s key map.  Whether in print, digitized, or on microfilm, each ‘map’ is a set of multiple pages of enlarged maps preceded by a key map and symbol key.  Each year has slightly different symbols and color codes, so be sure to check the key for the year that you are using. Since the Sanborn maps are of more densely settled areas, I’ve also included a view from a county atlas in our collection so that you can see the types of information included in these resources in comparison to the Sanborn maps. Lastly, I’ve included a view of the enlarged map of a property in Covington in 1886; on this map I’ve noted the characteristics that can be either directly observed or interpreted through the use of the key.  USING THE SANBORN FIRE INSURANCE MAPS TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR HISTORIC PROPERTY One of the most important things to know when trying to read any [...]

From the Head of Lettice: Recipes from Historic Kentucky Cookbooks Part Two

Welcome back! As we approach the holiday season, I thought it would be the perfect time to dive back into some historic Kentucky recipes. If you are looking for a few savory ideas, please check out Part One. This time I decided to focus on baking and desserts. I once again used Lettice Bryan (1839) and The Historic Kentucky Kitchen as my two main sources of inspiration, but there are plenty of other books in our collection that can help you find the local recipe you desire. Another of my favorites is The Blue Grass Cookbook, so check that out if you’re interested. If you would like any help finding local cookbooks or recipes, please feel free to reach out to our department and talk to a staff member, or watch a periscope video that I did on how to find recipes. I wanted to use simple recipes that included ingredients I mostly had on hand. For me, that included lots of apples. However, I also love to bake bread and I couldn’t resist trying my hand at a bread recipe. Lettice has quite a few examples of biscuits, rolls, and loaves of bread. Unfortunately for the modern baker, the measurements, which are more exact in baking than other forms of cooking, are quite loose in her descriptions. This wasn’t quite so troublesome for a pie or cookies, but more complicated creations like cakes and breads run into errors of translation. Ingredients diverge from their modern counterparts more dramatically in baking than in cooking. Nineteenth century bakers would obtain yeast from beer brewers, or utilize wild yeast in the form of their own sourdough starters, instead of using the instant dry yeast that is now [...]

By |November 21st, 2017|Categories: Featured Post, KCPL|1 Comment

Spring into Local History and Genealogy

Join us for one of our Historic Walking Tours! SPRING HAS SPRUNG!!! Flowers and trees are in bloom, the temperature is warming up, and you may be finding yourself out and about more so than in the past few months. This is the time of year to start planning and planting your garden, maybe visit a farmers market, and take a scenic stroll through your community. We encourage you to visit the Local History & Genealogy department in Covington in your quest for springtime fun; we have a number of fresh, new events on tap this spring that we hope you’ll enjoy! Can’t make it out of the house this week? Join us on Periscope and we’ll take you with us as we explore Historic Linden Grove Cemetery on our tour Periscope: Hey, what’s that tree? On Friday, April 14 at 3:30PM. Join us live on Periscope (@KentonLibrary on Periscope on your smartphone or tablet, or at periscope.tv/kentonlibrary) for a stroll through the historic Linden Grove cemetery in Covington. We’ll have local guidebooks on hand to help us identify the fresh buds and leaves in bloom. If you’re itching to get outside, put on your walking shoes and join us for a stroll through historic Covington. Coming up next month is our annual Historic Walking Tour, which happens every Wednesday morning this summer at 10AM, starting on May 3 and ending on September 27. We’ll talk about significant structures, their former residents, and events of times past on this one-hour jaunt down historic Pike Street in Covington. If you find yourself bored on a rainy day, or perhaps avoiding spring pollen in the great outdoors, join us in the Local History & Genealogy department [...]

Made in Covington: The Aqua-Cycle

The Aquacycle was covered in a 1949 issue of Popular Science. Via: http://goo.gl/X3nseR Twenty-five year old Phyllis Brawley was installed as a living window display at Cincinnati’s Hotel Sinton on the day of Aquacycle’s debut. Clad in a “beach costume,” the blonde model peddled the newly-patented marine invention that allowed users to propel boats and canoes by foot power. Spectators congregated around the window in such numbers that Cincinnati patrolman, Charles Ray, ordered that the live window display to cease--a proclamation that was met with jeers. Ultimately, the authorities demanded that manager of the Aquacycle Company, Earl Metcalfe, either stop the demonstration or be cited for interfering with pedestrian traffic. Metcalfe, a self-employed business consultant and manager of the Aquacycle Company of Covington, stated that he intended to defy police orders to meet public demand for the demonstration continue the next day. Arguably, their interest was likely inspired more by the visible shins and shoulders of Miss Brawley than the newfangled contraption upon which she was perched. Metcalfe, who lived on a farm in Morning View in southern Kenton County, was not the inventor of the Aquacycle, but was assignor to the company when the trademark was registered in 1948. He was involved with the contraption as early as 1947, when the Aquacycle Company of Covington was chartered and valued at an eyebrow-raising $100,000 (over $1,300,000 today). The design for the “pedal or mechanically propelling and steering mechanism for boats” was the work of Dr. Byrel Billman, a physician of physiotherapy and proctology, educated at the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati. Billman created the Aquacycle as a device to propel and steer boats in places where motorized watercraft were either outlawed or impossible operate. Sportsmen [...]

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Courting of Ginny Hilton

  Valentine, sent in February of 1929. Hail February, the month of roses and lace and stamps on Valentine cards; a prime time for a story of Northern Kentucky Love! Here’s one: Bernard Wright Southgate Jr., son of Bernard Wright Southgate Sr. and Lallie Kennedy, married Virginia D. Hilton on the 17th of September in 1929. Romantic, I suppose, if a bit dry. One can sit at any of our computers and find that information on Ancestry.com for free, like I just did.   However, what Ancestry doesn’t have is much more interesting. Now available on geNKY, the Southgate courtship letters tell a much more relatable tale. Virginia Southgate (at the time, a Hilton) kept all the letters Bernard sent her through their extensive five-year courtship, even as they both attended school and changed residences. Even though we can only hear his half of the conversation, we have a unique look into the fancies and follies between postmarks and biographical milestones. The first letter is dated the 11th of May, in 1924, from Buffalo, West Virginia, and in it, he writes that he was surprised to receive her letter. It is quite possible (and in fact, likely, from the way he describes her personality in his future notes) that Virginia wrote first.  He does tell us she even illustrated her letters! Unfortunately, we do not possess any of those, though there are a few doodles to be seen at the bottom corner of some pages, like a Tokyo sunrise, and a black cat in a dark cellar at midnight. Bernard is modest about his artistic talents. Virginia, or, as he refers to her, “Ginny”,  starts out in her family home at 15 Calhoun St., [...]