Township records for genealogy are an overlooked resource. Learn where to find them and what you may be missing!
A Personal Story
I was invited to speak at a local church in the area where my father and his family grew up. I decided they might enjoy seeing some old photos of the past. I put together a slideshow using several of the old photographs I found in their township museum.
While clicking through the pictures, I came to the town’s parade in 1950. I told them how my aunt had been on the Queen’s Court that year and how she had seen her picture in the newspaper once, but had never obtained a copy. “Boy, I’d give anything to find that picture of her on the Queen’s float, but I have searched every local newspaper and found nothing,” I told them.
In the front row, a little gray haired woman raised her hand. “I believe I have a picture of the Queen’s float from that year. My father was an amateur photographer and he took many pictures of that parade. Would you like to come over and look through them?” Would I?!
Township Resources for Genealogy: Where to Find Them
Township resources are not often shared with the general public via website. Townships are small and their financial resources are limited. Because of this, their historical items typically lay hidden in a small room in a community building or even in the home of a longtime citizen.
For this reason, it is sometimes difficult to find these hidden treasures! Here are a few new ways in which you can locate township resources in your targeted area:
- Contact the Township Trustees – In many cases, a township will have elected persons called township trustees. You can find the names and phone numbers of these persons by Googling something like Elizabeth Township, Miami County, Ohio trustees. These persons will typically know where the “goods” are, however, they may not understand what you mean if you call and say, “Do you have any township genealogical records?” So instead, you might say, “Hi. My name is Amie and I am calling from Florida. I am looking for old pictures, maps, school records and such for Elizabeth Township. Do you have a place where you keep all that or have a person in the community that is particularly interested in that kind of thing?” They will likely know exactly where you should go or who you need to talk to!
- Contact the Local Church – A local church or parish is another wonderful place to look, not only for church records, but pictures and other items pertaining to the community. I once found a town criminal record book on the shelves of a Methodist Church library! When you call or visit the church, ask if there is a designated church historian or a congregational member who has lived in the area for a long time. Let them know that you are looking for stories, records, pictures, etc. for persons living in that area from the past.
- Visit the Local Store – Let me explain. Every now and again, even a small township will include a relatively sizable town. If this town has a small store, post office, or restaurant, stop by. [Hint: Stop by the grain elevator of a rural area. Farmers know everyone!] Here, you can ask around as to where or who may have historical items, records, and pictures. There may also be a flea market in the area which is a great place to find things relating to your area.
Here’s to taking another look into some genealogical resources you might not have considered. Perhaps there are some amazing discoveries just waiting to be uncovered. Happy hunting for township records for genealogy! Leave us a message in the comments and let us know of your amazing township finds!