Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | May 25, 2018

Historical research is never-ending

By Verda Baird | Aug 17, 2017

To the editor:

This historical/genealogical research just seems never-ending and always has new surprises for me, even though I started it all in 1972, 45 years ago. My most recent surprise follows.

At a recent Fairfield Library book sale, among the things that appeared was an August 1938 book “Iowa...a Guide to the Hawkeye State” compiled by the WPA Works Progress Administration, published through the State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City.

On page 526 are tour stops in Fairfield, and listed was “Old Settlers Park of 11 acres, where annual Old Settlers Reunions are held, contains a log house – the Bonnifield Cabin built in 1836, in front of which is the grave of the first white settler in the county.”

Referring to “A Fairfield” by Welty published in 1968, I will add the cabin was moved to the park in 1908 from its original site in Round Prairie Township.

My question: Is there actually an unmarked grave in the front yard of the cabin? Anyone want to go grave-witching for me?

Out in Cedar Township, there is yet another burial site. Data was shared by coon hunters, all deceased, but I never made any follow up when I published “77 cemeteries of Jefferson County, IA, by V. Baird” in 1990. Supposedly, four gravestones in Section 12, along Wolf Creek, are lost to eternity.

I have been trying to clear out my collection of items in my home file drawers and there are lot of historical items now placed in the three historical drawers at the Fairfield Library. I had typed 25 hardbound books for the Genealogical Society from l976 through l996 and had my personal copies of each here at home.

In October 2016, I donated 16 volumes to the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri, so they are available on their shelves. In 2015, that research center welcomed more than 92,000 visitors and offered almost 200 programs.

Donated to the Carnegie Museum were the minutes of the Ebenezer Church Ladies Aid organized in 1912. That church stood on our farm. My husband and two teenage sons tore it down in l974.

I know there are numerous old one-room school bound books hidden away in our county, either in old attics or in collectors’ homes that need to go to the new state archives located on college campus at Cedar Falls.

Those I had in my home were taken there in August 2014, and they printed out for me that day their listing of all the schools in our county and whether there are any records for the one your ancestors attended. Check the historical files at Fairfield Library. The map for boundary lines for each district is taped down on top of the filing cabinets. Most of our one-room schools closed in 1958. That will soon be 60 years. How things change.

What am I up to yet today? I am working on volume No. 12 of obituaries I clip daily from The Fairfield Ledger. These books go back to October l972 when our genealogical society was organized and each volume is indexed by deceased as well as maiden names of the females.

I am still quietly volunteering behind the scenes, and thanks for “listening” today.


– Verda Baird, Fairfield

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