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November is National Veteran and Military Families Month!

This month in the Local History & Genealogy Department, it’s all about veterans: we want to help you talk to the veterans in your life, preserve their memories, commemorate them, and research your ancestors’ involvement in conflicts past. We’ll start an important fact: WWII and Korean War veterans are passing away in great numbers each year, and many take with them all the memories and stories of their experiences. Here at the library, we are hoping to preserve as many of those memories as we can by offering oral history interviews to veterans. We’ll setup a date and time, you’ll turn in a pre-interview questionnaire so that we can tailor our questions to your experience, and we record the interview for posterity (you get a copy to keep, too!). Veterans are encouraged to bring mementos such as medals, photographs, newspaper clippings, etc. to their interview. If you or a relative are interested, please contact us at (859) 962-4070 with questions and to setup an appointment. Interested in conducting your very own interview with the veterans in your life? Check out The Oral History Workshop: Collect and Celebrate the Life Stories of Your Family and Friends or Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide for information on how to get started. These books will also give you tons of ideas on what kinds of questions to ask (including some interesting and non-traditional questions), and tips for a successful interview. We also have Oral History Kits that include a digital voice recorder so you can do an interview in the comfort of your home. Thinking of a way to commemorate your favorite veteran, or make a special gift for a loved one? Visit one our Makerspaces and make [...]

By |November 11th, 2019|Categories: Featured Post, History, KCPL, Local History and Genealogy|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on November is National Veteran and Military Families Month!

Professional Baseball in Covington: They built it but they did not come.

Remember the film Field of Dreams? Kevin Costner's character builds a baseball field in the middle of his corn field because a voice told him to do it. In 1913 here in Covington, KY baseball enthusiasts and businessmen wanted to bring a professional baseball team to the city. Baseball was viewed as a great way to advertise the city. Those working to bring a club here believed the city would be placed on the map after they landed a team. Can you imagine having two different teams to root for like they have in Chicago and New York, it almost happened but it did not last long. At the end of the 1912 season the Blue Grass League lost two teams. The Blue Grass League was a Class D Minor League which had teams in cities throughout Kentucky. In order to fill the two vacant spots the organization set its sights on the river towns of Covington and Newport in Northern Kentucky. The attempt to establish teams in Newport and Covington by the Blue Grass league was blocked by the Cincinnati Reds. As a member of a major league (the National League) the Reds had jurisdiction covering a five mile radius that forced smaller leagues like the Blue Grass League to seek permission from establishing clubs in their surrounding area. Newport and Covington both fell under this five mile radius and Garry Herrman of the Reds refused to let the teams establish on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River.   Covington almost missed out on bringing a professional baseball club to the city, but the Federal League was forming in Indianapolis and was looking to establish a team in Cincinnati or Covington. The Reds had [...]

By |November 12th, 2013|Categories: KCPL, Local History and Genealogy|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Professional Baseball in Covington: They built it but they did not come.

Researching the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire

The Salvation Army Emergency Canteen was a mobile kitchen sent to aid relief workers after the fire. Photograph available in Faces and Places. The Beverly Hills Supper Club fire occurred 40 years ago on Saturday, May 28, 1977. The tragic fire claimed over 160 people, making it one of the deadliest nightclub fires in the history of the United States. Many families in Northern Kentucky were affected by the fire, whether they lost loved ones, survived the fire, or assisted in the recovery efforts. If you are interested in researching more about your own families' connections to the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, the Kenton County Public Library can help you with your search. First, Faces and Places includes images of individuals who were at the Beverly Hill Supper Club the night of the fire, as well as firemen, emergency responders, doctors, and clergy. There are also images of the Beverly Hills Supper Club before and after the fire, and other locations connected to the fire, including the temporary morgue at the Fort Thomas Armory, and Saint Luke Hospital in Fort Thomas. The Northern Kentucky Newspaper Index contains indexed entries for May 30, 1977 in the Cincinnati Post. The paper was devoted to the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire. Included in the indexing are a list of names of those who perished, and those who were still missing. If you are looking for an obituary of a family member, there is a special three-page section of indexing for Beverly Hills Supper Club obituaries in List of Deaths from the Kentucky Post 1977-1978 by Wanda Blackburn Beiser. Boy scouts searched the area around the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire. Photograph available in Faces and Places. The Local History [...]

By |May 30th, 2017|Categories: Featured Post, Local History and Genealogy|Comments Off on Researching the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire

Researching Your Family History

Looking to restart your genealogy research in the New Year? The library has many resources for your family history quest. If you just getting started on your research the best way to start a family history project is to fill out a family tree. You can fill out a tree yourself or recruit your parents, grandparents and other family members to help. It may be helpful to ask your relatives where they were born, where they were married and other life events. Remember to take legible notes and keep good records of all the information you collect.  Having legible well documented notes will be helpful later in your research. Now that you have collected information for your family tree it is time to research. Start by going to Local History and Genealogy  and exploring all the resources available to genealogists. You will find links to commonly used research sites including Ancestry.com, and Familysearch.org. For more localized research check out the Northern Kentucky Newspaper Index, Faces and Places Northern Kentucky Photograph Archives and geNKY. Looking for additional resources that may not be available online? Head to the Covington branch and utilize the collection of local history and genealogy books. We have books that cover vital records, county histories, cemetery internments and much more! You may also want to look through our Family Files and Local History Files to assist with your research. For more tips, and suggestions on genealogy or local history check out our Pinterest page and watch this video. What family history tips do you have to share? This post was written by Cierra Earl This blog was updated December 2013.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: The Earliest “Street View”

The map key for the 1909 Sanborn Map of Covington. Notice the level of detail in the building material and types of windows. Have you wondered what your town or neighborhood looked like 100 years ago? Want to know what that large building at the end of your block was originally used for? If you answered yes, you will want to check out the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. In 1867, the Sanborn Map Company, which is still in business today, began making detailed fire insurance maps to help “insurance agents determine the degree of hazard associated with a particular property.” [i] The Sanborn Company estimates they created maps for 12,000 cities and towns in the United States[ii]. The maps are very intricate and detail the size, shape, placement and number of windows and doors, property boundaries, and type of business or industry located within a structure. They are also coded to reflect the various types of building material used and to distinguish residential from commercial property. While the maps are no longer used for insurance purposes, they are now a wonderful way to supplement your historical and genealogical research. They are also essential tools for anyone interested in the history of their home or a particular structure. The maps can be used in conjunction with city directories and newspapers to locate the homes of individuals or businesses in a town and even on a specific street. Because the maps were constantly updated, researchers can track changes that took place in towns, business districts, and neighborhoods. Street addresses and street names have also changed over time, and sometimes more than once, so the maps are an excellent way to find the original address for [...]

By |August 12th, 2014|Categories: Featured Post, KCPL, Local History and Genealogy|Tags: , |Comments Off on Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: The Earliest “Street View”

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., [...]

The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 in Northern Kentucky

We are creeping into that time of the year again: autumn. Autumn is all kinds of fun: pumpkin-flavored everything, apple cider, trick-or-treating, and a crisp, cool air that we are always pining for following the dog days of summer. Cool weather shoos us inside more often than summer, however, and germs are more easily spread in close proximity to others. Cue flu season, that nasty fact of life that persists from roughly October to March. Ninety-eight years ago this month, the country at large was experiencing one of the most severe outbreaks of flu in its history. Cue the constant hand-washing, and stock up on hand sanitizer, because we are about to venture into a brief, local history of the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919. Influenza comes with a slew of uncomfortable symptoms that we also associate with the common cold, but multiplied in intensity. Influenza can be life threatening to those with comprised immune systems such as the elderly and very young. Between three to five million severe cases of influenza occur each year throughout the world, with death tolls from the flu, or complications from it, ranging from 250,000 to 500,000 worldwide (1). Some years, however, the primary strain of influenza is particularly virulent and panic-inducing: for example, the Swine Flu Pandemic of 2009. The fall of 1918 happened to bring with it one of those flu strains, and was quite possibly the largest outbreak of disease in the 20th century United States. Panic Ensues The Public Health Service began requiring states to report cases of flu starting on September 27, 1918, coincidentally the date that influenza is estimated to have arrived in the state of Kentucky (2). The first newspaper reported death [...]

By |September 6th, 2016|Categories: Featured Post, Local History and Genealogy|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 in Northern Kentucky

Spooky Stories In Your Own Backyard

Looking to read about ghosts, spirits, phantoms, or unexplained phenomena? Want to read a spooky story about Kentucky or one that originates in your own back yard? Do you think your house may be haunted and want to research its history? Look no further than the Kenton County Public Library. We have numerous local history books and resources filled with haunting tales, ghost stories, and documented unexplained experiences that will give you a good fright just in time for Halloween. The true story of Pearl Bryan’s murder in Fort Thomas has captivated Northern Kentuckians for over a century, inspiring countless ghost stories and legends. Learn more about the macabre case in The Pearl Bryan Murder Story by Anthony W. Kuhnheim, Unwanted: A Murder Mystery of the Gilded Age by Andrew Young, and The Perils of Pearl Bryan Betrayal and Murder in the Midwest in 1896 by James L. McDonald . You can also read online newspaper accounts from the investigation and trial in the Cincinnati Enquirer - Historical 1841-1922 Database.  If you can't get enough Pearl Bryan, attend local author Larry Tippin's presentation on his new book The Betrayal of Pearl Bryan: Unraveling the Gilded Age Mystery that Captivated a National on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 @ 7 PM at the Erlanger Library. What hair-raising stories have you been told about what happened to Ms. Bryan’s head? Leave us a reply and let us know! Join paranormal investigators Zak, Nic and Aaron as they investigate the paranormal experiences at Bobby Mackey's Music World. If you're thirsting for spooky tales from Kentucky, sink your teeth into Ghosts Across Kentucky by William Lynwood Montell or Ghosts, Spirits, and Angels True Tales from Kentucky and Beyond by Thomas Lee Freese. If you have regional [...]

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 [...]

Thanksgiving Preparation

So the whole family is coming for dinner and you want things to be perfect - the food, the music, the decor... everything. Where to begin? Don't worry, the Kenton County Public Library has you covered! 1. The Menu! You should finalize your Thanksgiving menu about one week in advance. So shoot for a final menu on Thursday, Nov. 21. My Thanksgiving menu is set with traditional items like turkey, cranberries, mashed potatoes, gravy, dinner rolls and stuffing followed by pumpkin and apple pie. But I like to liven things up a bit each year by picking a new stuffing or cranberry sauce recipe or even something new all together from one of the thousands of cookbooks that can be found at the library. This year I will glance through Thanksgiving: how to cook it well by Sam Sifton, 2012, The pioneer woman cooks : a year of holidays : 140 step-by-step recipes for simple sumptuous celebrations by Ree Drummond, 2013 and Fine Cooking Thanksgiving cookbook: recipes for turkey and all the trimmings by editors of Fine cooking magazine, 2012 for new ideas. 2. The Online Entertainment! You don't want your guests bored prior to dinner, dozing off after dinner or dreaming about Black Friday shopping so liven the place up with free music and movies. Freegal and Hoopla are always available on the library's website, even when the library is closed. They don't have waiting lists or holds either! All you need is an Internet connection and a Kenton County Public Library Card. You can download three free songs per week from Freegal so start stocking up now! Your music doesn't have to be Thanksgiving themed. Just something fun and upbeat. The top downloaded songs at the Library are currently Walk [...]

These Are The Ads You’re Looking For…

Have you felt the awakening yet? Have you fallen for the hysteria of the brand new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens that will be hitting theaters very soon? I for one am extremely excited and have been ever since they first announced it. Once that first trailer hit the web and I saw the Millennium Falcon streak across my screen I was speechless and overtly excited about the new film. Then when the full trailer dropped back in October the anticipation level went through the roof. We are now just days away from the film’s opening, my enthusiasm can no longer be contained. So what does Star Wars have to do with local history and genealogy? Well from a certain point of view quite a bit actually. I wanted to see what I could uncover about Star Wars using the resources the Local History and Genealogy department has available. Some of the stuff I found was pretty incredible. The first resource we will discuss is the vast collection of newspapers the library has on microfilm. I began looking through the newspapers hoping to find a few items. First I was hoping that I would find the old Star Wars comic strips that ran from the late 1970s until about 1984, but it seems our area did not pick up those daily comic strips as I was unable to find any. Next I wanted to find old toy ads. I played with Star Wars toys as a kid and wanted to see how they were advertised in ads back in the 1980s. Earlier this September a good deal of the merchandise for the new film was released. Today a basic action figure will run you [...]

By |December 4th, 2015|Categories: Featured Post, KCPL, Local History and Genealogy|Comments Off on These Are The Ads You’re Looking For…

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 [...]

Winter Adventurers Part 1: Kate Scudder’s Journals of Traverse in Norway and Russia

Kate Scudder on her 35th birthday in Switzerland. Courtesy of Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center. Available online via Faces and Places Kenton County Public Library. For most of us, winter is the time to sit in a blanket by the fireplace, sip a hot drink, and pine for summer. Some, however, embrace the last three months of the year, journeying far and North where the winter never ends. In this two part series, we’ll adventure with Kate Scudder, a voracious traveler, and Emma Lee Orr, a local schoolteacher who braved Alaska, as they boldly pursued the midnight sun. For those of us who can’t (or would rather not) go with these intrepid ladies, they have left behind detailed accounts of their experiences for family and friends who prefer more temperate climes. Kate Scudder, a popular community figure, is known for her work as a founder of the Baker-Hunt Art and Cultural Centre just a block away on Greenup. She was also an avid tourist, and left florid journals of her travels, which available on the library’s website. She gives detailed information about her journeys, telling her readers everything from the size of the country she’s visiting, to what she knows of its history, down to anecdotes of her experiences at the landmarks she sees. They are, in essence, Lonely Planet Guides by an educated nineteenth century woman, and though she has some strong opinions, it is still fascinating to read. Most famous are her travel diaries from her 1882 and 1886 expeditions through Europe, which can be read in the Special Collections section of the library website. Lesser known is her journal from her trip to Norway, which might be often dismissed [...]

By |February 8th, 2016|Categories: Featured Post, History, KCPL, Local History and Genealogy|Comments Off on Winter Adventurers Part 1: Kate Scudder’s Journals of Traverse in Norway and Russia

Your Irish Heritage

March is not only the beginning of Spring, but a time when genealogists and historians may focus their attention to their Irish roots. The Kenton County Public library offers many resources to help you research Irish genealogy records and family histories.  A great place to start your research project is at the Kenton County Public Library’s Genealogy Webpage, where you can access our online research resources--many of which can be used from home with your library card. One of our resources, The Northern Kentucky Newspaper Index, may lead you to an article or obituary on an Irish ancestor.  Using the Northern Kentucky Newspaper Index we were able to find the citation for this obituary which appeared in the Kentucky Times Star for Matthew McGee. McGee was born in Ireland in 1830 and died in Covington on October 19, 1915. The photograph database, Faces and Places: The Northern Kentucky Photographic Index, may contain a portrait of an Irish relative. Pictured is The McGing Traditional Irish Dancers from Cincinnati performing at the 1990 Gala Irish Party at Cliff and Pat Boreland's new home in Villa Hills on March 16, 1990. This photograph was found in the Faces and Places Archive and don’t forget you can leave comments on photographs in Faces and Places! If you are looking for more detailed descriptions of what records we have available, check out our Guide to the Collection. Also, don’t forget to search the library catalog for all things relating to Ireland and Irish genealogy. Do you have ancestors from Ireland that traveled to Northern Kentucky? What resources would you recommend for researching Irish ancestors and history? Tell us about it! This post was written by Cierra Earl, Library Associate in [...]

By |March 12th, 2013|Categories: KCPL, Local History and Genealogy, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Your Irish Heritage