The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


May 20, 2013

Frankie Meyer: Information is only as good as its source

JOPLIN, Mo. — When beginners start their family history search, they often fail to record details about the sources.

Those details later become crucial as contradictory information is found, which it will be. How can one decide which detail is correct if the sources of the details are unknown?

Records are of two types: Primary sources are first-hand accounts that were recorded close to the time an event occurred. They're more reliable and give credibility to a family's history. Secondary sources, which were compiled later, provide helpful clues for further research.

Where does one find records? When starting a search, the best sources are family members. Interview them and gather details that they remember. Also, ask them about diaries, scrapbooks, annuals, photos, letters and similar items.

Next, visit courthouses, cemeteries, libraries, museums, historical societies, historic sites, churches, genealogy societies and mortuaries, as well as regional and national archives. The Internet will be of tremendous help because many documents are being digitized and placed online.

Numerous family histories are online, too. Because most of them have undocumented data containing errors, use those for clues only.

On Memorial Day weekend, a new repository of resources is being added in McDonald County. Members of the county historical society, who have been restoring the old courthouse for use as a museum, are having a grand opening. Not only will the new museum have exhibits that tell the county's history, it will have a research room as well as an emporium where books about the area can be purchased.

The society has planned a three-day celebration with music, entertainment and fun activities. The courthouse, located in Pineville, will be open on all those days. If you have documents or other items that you would like to donate to the museum, the celebration will be a great time to see the facility and visit with the leaders.

From 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 25, the square will be filled with old-fashioned activities such as whittling, spinning, butter making, sewing, leather working, honey production, quilting, goat milking and crocheting. There will even be a portable sawmill.

Cow pie bingo will be held at 3 p.m. Food that day will be hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream and kettle corn.

From 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 26, the society will hold a veteran's ceremony, including an old-fashioned USO presentation. That day's food will be grilled chicken dinners.

On Monday, May 27, a horseshoe tournament is set for 10 a.m. The winning ticket for a limited-edition print of one of Doug Hall's extraordinary paintings will be drawn at 4 p.m. Food will be barbecue pulled pork sandwiches and sides.

A silent auction will be held on all three days, and a bucking horse will be there on Sunday and Monday. For more details visit www.mcdonald

Suggestions or queries? Contact Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168 or email

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