Want to find some hidden treasures? Check the tiny local historical societies in the places your ancestors lived.
A while back, I wrote about Ferol Wright Nelson, my great-grandmother’s sister-in-law. Her obituary mentioned that she was born in Verndale, Minnesota, and an alert reader turned me on to the Verndale Historical Society. They sell a series called The Famous and Not So Famous that contains 1,432 pages of family history stuff. It turns out that a couple dozen pages (so far) relate to the family I’m working on. Many rural historical societies have these types of books, and they’re a tremendous resource.
I’ve also talked about my love for Red Owl Food Stores stuff. My grandma worked at the Red Owl headquarters in Hopkins, Minnesota for many years. Guess what? The Hopkins Historical Society has a DVD called The Red Owl Story. It has information and hundreds of old pictures of both Red Owl stores and the corporate headquarters buildings and people. If you’re from Minneapolis and can watch it without getting a little sniffly, your heart is made of stone.
Verndale is a tiny little town, and Hopkins is a very small suburb of Minneapolis. If you were only looking for county or state historical societies, you might have missed ‘em. Don’t forget to look for societies for towns and suburbs as well. You never know what you’ll find.
Photo by Mykl Roventine