Friday, July 22, 2011

The Ups and Downs of On-Site Research

Six nights were spent at the campground in Guilford Lake State Park a few miles northwest of Lisbon, Ohio. It turned out to be the “ideal” spot for research in Lisbon and exploring other areas of Columbiana County.

My first stop for research on Friday (July 15th) was the Columbiana County Archives and Research Center (CCARC) located just half a block south of the courthouse in Lisbon. I knew they would be open on Friday then closed until Tuesday. I must say, the two ladies in charge – Shirl and Linda, both volunteers – were very helpful and friendly. You could tell that they enjoyed what they were doing and were dedicated to saving and preserving original Columbiana County court records and files that would otherwise be destroyed. The organization is six years old and their facility was opened in 2009 – it is already nearly jam-packed with stuff. Shirl and Linda and other volunteers are in the process of indexing the records and files they have received. It is an awesome resource and they are incredible ladies! I'll have more in future posts regarding what they found for me...

The ladies warned me that working in the Recorder's Office was going to be a real pain. It seems that the largest reserves of natural gas ever discovered have been found in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. As a result, the gas companies involved have to do extensive research of land titles in order to purchase rights to drill for the gas. And that means they have virtually taken over the Recorder's Office.

I ended up spending all day at the CCARC and didn't make it to the Recorder's Office on Friday. Saturday I drove around Columbiana County. I had forgotten how hilly and curvy the roads were! It was fun driving in that area but the “locals” probably were getting a little upset with me as I drove really, really slowly! Cemeteries were found. Photographs were taken. Most of Saturday afternoon was spent at the library where it was cool and the wifi was reasonably fast.

Sunday afternnon I returned to several cemeteries to get better photos – the lighting was different. But it was very hot out in the sun. My campsite was mostly in shade and there was a nice breeze blowing. It was rather nice and relaxing to sit and not do anything at all for a few hours!

Monday morning I went to the “Records Office” in the Juvenile Court building where the probate records are available on microfilm and printed out the pages for four probate files (no fancy microfilm scanner available there!).

Then I went to the Recorder's Office. Of course, the tiny room was packed. There was one counter about 8 feet long and wide enough for one index book to be laid flat. But there were so many people that you actually had enough space to prop the index book up on the edge of the counter. Then, the actual deed books were not available. They had been microfilmed and cut into strips, rather like microfiche only bigger. And there were only 3 microfilm readers available. And if you wanted copies, the staff in the Recorder's Office had to make them and they cost $2 per page!

I stayed, perhaps an hour, and was able to look at one deed record. Oh, and the images? They were negatives. Very difficult to read. Basically, I attempted to abstract enough information so that I knew who the deed was for and got the description of the land. It was suggested that I get to the office when they open at 8 am as they weren't as busy first thing in the morning. Also, late afternoons were usually not as busy. I did go back later that afternoon but the little room was still quite crowded.

Tuesday morning I was up bright and early and at the Recorder's Office at 8:05 am. No one was there except the office personnel, at least for a little while. It never did get all that crowed in the several hours I spent there, not like it had on Monday. I was able to review all of the deeds that I wanted to look with one exception – and that deserves a post all of it's own! It was strange. As with every Research Trip there were some successes and some disappointments. But it was definitely worth the time and effort and the slight frustrations.

The weather was supposed to take a turn for the worse on Wednesday. Temperatures had been in the mid 80s with high humidity but it hadn't been totally uncomfortable. However, the higher temps that had been plaguing the states to the west was on its way to Ohio. I was hoping to avoid most of the 100 degree temps by heading northward. Rather reluctantly I departed Columbiana County early Wednesday morning July 20th.

My campsite at Guilford Lake State Park was right on the edge of the lake!

It was foggy the morning I left. Someone had left this chair on the pier, perhaps in anticipation of catching the “big one” later in the day.

Also taken the morning of July 20th. The view from my campsite. It was lovely. I really enjoyed my stay at Guilford Lake.

1 comment:

Carol said...

The fog photos are great, especially that first one with the red chair! WOW.

Sounds like under the circumstances, your research went quite well.