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Bloomington High School’s The Optimist, 1923-2009

In the newspaper collection at the MCHC Research Library, we have numerous issues of The Optimist, the newspaper of Bloomington High School (later Bloomington High School South). The paper according to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloomington_High_School_South began in 1911. Our holdings appear to be the most complete with scattered issues from 1923 through 2009 (see Index for specific holdings). According to WorldCat, two other libraries have some holdings:

  • Indiana Historical Society: Elephant finale (1923), v. 1, no. 2(Nov. 3, 1913), v. 1, no. 3(Nov. 25, 1913), v. 2, no. 8(April 7, 1914), v. 2, no. 9(April 29, 1914), v. 3, no. 3(Nov. 16, 1914), v. 3, no. 4(Dec. 4, 1914) and the
  • Indiana State Library has: v. 38 no. 13, Jan. 22, 1932; v. 39 no. 1-2, [4]-15, Feb. 12-19, Mar. 4-May 20, 1932

I did not verify whether a complete run exists at MCCSC (Phone: 812-330-7700).

The Life and Research of Bessie Lynn Hufford, 1886-1978

Bloomington draws people from many places. One longtime resident who began life not far from here in Columbus, Indiana was Bessie Lynn Hufford, wife of IU Physics Professor Dr. Mason Edward Hufford (1882-1975). Among Mrs. Hufford’s interests were gardening and genealogy. Her persistent search for her ancestors resulted in reams of correspondence with people around the country, and she saved all of her records. The collection was donated to the MCHC in 2000, but for many years remained in storage. It was recently sorted and a few items were placed in the Lynn file in our Family Files. Close relatives were mostly from Bartholomew and Lawrence Counties, so the bulk of the items were sent to the historical societies in Columbus and Bedford. Family names she was researching included Childs, (Chiles), Dixon, Edwards, Eversole, Hufford, Jackson, King, Kinnett, McCoy, Warnick, and Waters.

Monroe County Cemeteries and Limestone Month

June is Limestone Month in Monroe County Indiana and what an excellent time to remind everyone of the magnificent contributions the limestone industry has made to our county. For a list of events, see this calendar.

The MCHC Cemetery Committee is hosting two events:

  • Limestone Heroes: A Tour of Rose Hill held June 7th [Cemetery Committee plans to sponsor this again in June 2016
  • White Oak Cemetery Tour: The Monroe County History Center’s Cemetery Committee will be working at White Oak Cemetery (8th Street) on June 19th at 1:30-4:00 pm. Come learn the do’s and don’ts of tombstone repair. A tour will be given at 3p.m. Registration is not required.
Cemetery 1

Stone at White Oak Cemetery

New Resource: U.S. Land Patents for Monroe County

This index, compiled by Lee Ehman, contains all of the original sales of Monroe County land from U.S. Land Offices during the 1800’s. It was compiled from the searchable online database maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. This index augments information from the Research Library’s index of Monroe County land records from Deed

Early Monroe County Plat Maps

Both David Lemon and Randi Richardson (the MCHC Library Volunteer of the Year) mentioned that they had seen information about the layout or plat maps of various towns within the Monroe County Land Records. I did some searching on the MCHC Research Library’s index: Land Records Index (c. 1811- 1870) and was pleasantly surprised. Thus far, I have found plat maps for Bloomington, Seminary Square, Graham’s Reserve, Ellettsville, Mount Tabor, Palestine, Fleeners Burg, Buena Vista, Unionville, Chapel Hill, Wayport, and Smithville plus several “additions.”

Because the Cemetery Committee had worked on the Mount Tabor Cemetery (Switzer/Hite) recently, I will use it as an example. The map featured in this post appears on C87 in Deed Book C. Located in Bean Blossom Township, Mount Tabor was quite a village between 1820 and 1850.

New Resource: Monroe County Birth Index, 1882-2014

This new index is a compilation of indexes to original birth records created at the Monroe County Health Department and edited by Lee Ehman (library volunteer). This index currently is not in print form, but can be found on our website. Of note for family researchers is the entry for mother’s maiden name, a sometimes

Historical Population Counts for Bloomington and Monroe County

As we prepare to celebrate the Indiana Bicentennial in 2016, and Monroe County’s Bicentennial in 2018, it is interesting to look back at the growth in our population. Congress is mandated by the Constitution to take an enumeration every ten years for apportionment of the House of Representatives, thus we have the U.S. Census. The first was taken in 1790. The early census records were really a basic count of the voting population (i.e. white men over 18 years of age). Throughout the decades, additional  questions have been added. (My favorite brief history is “History and Organization” CFF-4 of the Factfinder for the Nation series: https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/cff4.pdf).

Discovering Indiana’s “Drowned Towns”

At one point in time, the Salt Creek Valley was a rich bottomland that was home to hundreds of farming families. This folk community was close-knit and self-reliant, and its residents prided themselves on hard work, family values, and cultural heritage. In the early 1960s the Louisville branch of the Army Corps of Engineers began work on the Monroe County Reservoir, which effectively forced farmers off land that had been in their families for generations. When the reservoir was built more than 300 homes—along with 3 schools, 10 churches, 8 cemeteries and the last 3 covered bridges in the county—were either relocated or washed away, only to become “drowned towns.” These displaced families were left to struggle with how to regain a level of normalcy and comfort after the tragic loss of their homes and livelihoods.

A home in Elkinsville, Indiana after the start of the reservoir construction.

Locating African American Gravesites in Monroe County

Join the Cemetery Committee on Sunday, March 15th (2pm-4:30pm) at Rose Hill Cemetery for a hands-on program. You are invited to help assess tombstones of African Americans whose gravesites have been identified by hardworking volunteers who conducted research on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Participants should meet at the circle-fountain at 2pm. Water and snacks

Unique Map Found in the MCHC Research Library

Submitted by Lou Malcomb (library volunteer):

Many of us who volunteer and use the Research Library at the Monroe County History Center treasure the many unique resources it holds. However, we often assume many of the published materials are simply duplicates of items held at the Monroe County Public Library or the IU Libraries. So, when I discovered a couple of rare maps while doing a routine inventory of the map collection, I was thrilled.

The Love and Crime of Clinton Thomas Hovious

David Lemon, one of our volunteers shared a very interesting story he uncovered while researching his family. His discovery is detailed below:

Clinton Thomas Hovious Clinton Thomas Hovious – Michigan City, IN Prison

“If all genealogists research their family long enough they usually find some interesting characters in their family tree. I suppose Clinton Hovious would probably be considered a ‘black sheep’ in most families. I consider him a spicy addition to our otherwise mostly boring family.

State Library Resources in Danger

The Indiana legislature has recently introduced a state budget bill that proposes massive cuts to the State Library’s Budget. This 24% cut would entail the dismantling of the Genealogy department. The State Library’s genealogy collection is one of the largest in the Midwest. These resources are relevant to many genealogists working in Monroe County. The

Spend MLK Day with the Cemetery Committee

Join the Cemetery Committee on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, January 19th) from 9:30am-3pm at the Monroe County History Center. Learn how to use census records, burial records, and other resources to identify where members of the Bloomington African American community are buried in our local cemeteries. Snacks and lunch will be provided.

Welcome to our Blog

Welcome to the Monroe County History Center Research Library blog. For a couple of years we have sent bi-monthly newsletters to our patrons. This blog is an attempt to update that practice. It will allow us to post more regularly and flexibly, ensuring that news from the library will reach the public in a more

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