If you're in the neighborhood of the Chariton Free Public Library on Saturday, be sure to stop in at the Lucas County Genealogical Society family history rooms on the ground floor for a National Genealogy Day open house. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., refreshments will be served, there will be displays and volunteers will be on hand to talk about the work of the society and the library and to assist anyone who might want to undertake a little research.
Entrance is through the ground-floor handicap-accessible door from the parking lot north of the library building.
The genealogical society, organized during 1976, has served the library and the community as historians since soon after it was organized, intially staffing the 1904 Carnegie Library's original family history room in the southeast corner of the ground floor. Society volunteers then cleaned, painted and made usable the building's former coal storage area.
More recently, when the public library ended its music program and condensed its staff, collection and programming on the second floor, the society was invited to move the collection it had built during the previous 30-plus years into what formerly was the music library, now known as the Laura Curtis Family History Room in honor of a principal organizer of the society.
The Curtis Room contains material related specifically to Lucas County. Hundreds of family histories, arranged alphabetically, line shelves on the east and south walls of the Curtis room. Reference material related to Lucas County cities, churches, cemeteries and many other topics fill more shelves. Thousands of obituaries, clipped or copied from microfilm, are contained in other volumes. An extensive card files indexes much of the collection as well as containing other clippings related to individuals. All published Lucas County historical references are available here, too.
The military collection on the north wall of the library includes, among other references, these blue volumes --- a detailed record of all Lucas Countyans who served during World War II maintained during that war by volunteers headquartered at the library. In addition to a master data sheet, there are clippings and in many instances original photographs of all Lucas County's soldiers, sailors and marines.
The red-bound volumes below are Iowa's master source for information regarding its citizens who served during the Civil War, published soon after that conflict ended --- Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion. Also available are extensive records collected by Lucas County's Daughters of Union Veterans chapter and some records of Daniel Iseminger Post, G.A.R.
The Curtis Room collection also includes all available Lucas County newspapers from 1867 forward on microfilm and a big collection of microfilmed courthouse records. Long-time Genealogical 'Society volunteer Darlene Arnold has indexed all of those newspapers and that index also is available at the library as well as online at the Chariton Free Public Library Web site.
The family history rooms are staffed daily by volunteers --- and three were working when I stopped in Thursday afternoon --- Karen Patterson, society president; Dorothy Allen, who was compiling data about Lucas County's World War I soldiers; and Melody Wilson, fielding phone calls from people seeking family information and working on final plans for Saturday's open house.
So plan on stopping in for a visit Saturday --- regular library users and as well as those who may not have explored this wonderful Lucas County asset before.