Indexing Local History
I had a very interesting experience while doing some research on my paternal great grandmother, Helen Louise DIETZ. Helen’s paternal line leads to an Arnestus DIETZ of Pennsylvania. I had very little information on him other than his birth and death dates from his gravestone in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I hadn’t looked into him in some time, but I decided to do a Google search to see if anything came up. A hit I hadn’t seen previously came up, that was a link to a book indexed at archive.org, “The history of Ceres and its near vicinity, from its early Settlement in 1798 to the present.” It was worth a bit of investigation.
I was stunned to find out that the book is apparently a local history of Ceres, New York and includes detailed information about my ancestor. Some quick research showed that Ceres is very close to the southern border with Pennsylvania. The book was written near the turn of the century. The data about my ancestors was very rich, shown by this excerpt:
Later he removed to Friendship [PA], and Jeremiah Deitz, who had a blacksmith shop near, lived in the house for several years. Arnestus Deitz, his brother, who lived with him for a time, married Elizabeth Smith, second daughter of Harry Smith. They lived on the Phelp's place for a time, but removed to Ohio, and later to Wisconsin, where Mr. Deitz died, after a long and lingering illness, leaving his wife and six children.
It was almost surreal to read this. Could this really be my ancestor? Some deeper reading and fact checking against the information I had pretty much confirmed it. What a find!
It makes me wonder what my children will find when more and more books come online and get indexed by organizations like Google and archive.org.