Saturday, December 26, 2015

The First of My Winter Projects

by Pa Rock
Appendage to a Computer

I've set aside three projects to work on this winter, each an indoor chore that will require long hours at the computer.  Winter is less than a week old at this point, but I am pleased to report that the first of the projects is already well underway.

Years ago, almost thirty years ago, in fact, I wrote a weekly newspaper genealogy column.  It initially ran in a paper of which I was part owner, but eventually spread to fifteen or so area papers in three states.  Most of those newspapers were small weeklies, but my efforts also managed to make it into three daily newspapers -  The Neosho Daily News in Neosho, Missouri, The Benton County Daily Record in Bentonville, Arkansas, and The Grove Sun in Grove, Oklahoma.  Publishing that column was quite a ride - one that lasted for 242 issues or nearly five years.

Seven years ago I took all of those old columns and painstakingly typed each into a blog (  Unfortunately the columns, which contained thousands of surnames, were never indexed, so they were of limited value to genealogists and family researchers.  Now, I am busy correcting that oversight.

I am slowly going through each of those old columns and creating an index of all of the surnames which appeared in queries submitted by my readers.   I am now through number 148 of 242 - and have an alphabetical listing of almost 1,800 unique names - some of which appear numerous times.  The surname "Smith," for example, is used a total of 42 times in the first 148 columns.  Needless to say, extracting all of those names and then entering them correctly onto a spreadsheet is a laborious process.

After the surnames are finished, I will go back through a second time indexing for historical events and specific locations mentioned in the columns.

When the project is finished I hope to have produced a lengthy document (400 or more pages) that will be of use and value to people researching their Ozark roots.   I plan to give printed copies to the genealogy centers in several of the libraries in the area where the column was originally published, and make the entire thing available for free research online.

And that's just one of the things that I am doggedly pursuing this winter!

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