Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Treasure Chest

It's not that often that you find a mysterious chest tucked away in a corner. During the inventory on the Owaneco Train Depot my fellow volunteer Jon Meyer and I came across this seemingly ordinary trunk.

Because we were doing an inventory, we needed to open it up and catalog the contents. What we found inside was a pleasant treat!

Inside the chest we found some family photos, a quilt, and some old photographs of a mysterious shop. Besides the information in the photos, we had nothing else to go on. However, the photos were remarkably preserved. We just had to do a little detective work to figure out more about this shop and its owner.

With a little help from genealogy meister Chuck Courtwright, we began our information quest. As luck would have it, one of the photos gave us a name and shop description: Henry Biermann - Tire and Top Shop. With name in hand we turned next to ancestry.com to get a time/location for Henry Biermann. Markings on one of the photos gave us a general time-frame covering the early 19th century. We found one matching entry for a Henry Biermann in Taylorville, IL. Other information, such as the name of the wife and children confirmed our match.

When doing genealogy research of your own, be sure to widen your search by trying out different name combinations. For example, Henry Biermann's name was listed as: Beirmann, Biermann, and Bierman.

Then we began to research in the genealogical archives located on site. Looking through the local paper's microfilm near the time of Henry Beirmann's death gave us an obituary that provided invaluable information on the entrepreneur.

From that clipping we confirmed the number of children he had, the location of his shop, the name of his wife, his local charity work, and so much more! Who knew an old chest would contain such a wealth of information about Taylorville's history!

If you have your own adventure you would like to unravel, come drop by the Historical Society and Museum and Chuck can help you - or at least point you in the right direction!

- In case you are wondering, all the photos are being properly stored now, as well as digitized so they can be preserved. For more information about proper photo storage please see this great article. To see more resources from the Christian County Genealogical Society, click here.