Friday, July 1, 2011

Ah, Summer: Time for a Vacation

The chances to travel to family homesteads of generations long past have been few in the last several years, but this summer, it looks like we can squeeze in a few-hour detour to Lafayette, Indiana. We’re excited. Not the type of destination you’d take the time to mail a postcard from, Lafayette is, nevertheless, the site of the breathless moment when my husband held in his hands a document signed by his great-great-grandfather—a tangible point of connection with our past.

Last time we visited Lafayette, we arrived with a raging thunderstorm, which eclipsed any opportunity to stop at the cemetery for photographs or to check burial records. Though our visit this year will most likely be just as brief, it gives us a second chance at the weather. Learning from past experiences, though, we’ll be prepared this time with a Plan B for our research itinerary.

We are hoping to find our way there in early August. Now is not too early to prepare for a successful research venture. It’s been ages since we’ve been back to Indiana for anything more than a drive-through on our way from Chicago to points east on Interstate 70, so that calls for some review of what we’ve already found in past research trips, and what we yet need to discover.

First stop will doubtless be the Alameda McCollough Research Library, run by the Tippecanoe County Historical Association. We’ve found quite a bit of data from records in their collection—even though our last visit there was short and haphazard.

Another goal for this visit is to locate church records for the John Stevens family during the 1850s, when they first settled in Lafayette. This will prove a challenge, as according to a timeline of Catholic church history for the area, the family’s parish at the time of his 1893 funeral was not yet in existence when John and Catherine Stevens’ three sons were born.

Long before we set foot on the soil by the Wabash, we’ll have to check our records and prepare notes and checklists. It isn’t often that we get to travel back that way, and with the limited time the visit will afford us, we need to make every minute count.

And hopefully, this time, the visit won’t be in the midst of a thunderstorm!

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