Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On the Trail of Joseph Baker: Part Three

Street in Parkersburg, Iowa named after my 4th great grandfather
Henry Benjamin Wemple and found quite by accident.
I started off my morning with a quick stop to the courthouse to track down a record on Joseph's son changing his name back to Baker from Chicken, a story that I wrote about HERE a couple years ago. I had an article in the paper with the exact date the ruling was made in district court so I figured finding the information would be easy assuming it still existed. My hope was that there would be more information on the background on why the two Baker boys were given to the Chicken family after their father Joseph Baker died in 1882.

The first thing that struck me was that the courthouse in Black Hawk county is nothing like the one I am used to where I grew up. In the latter one, going to the courthouse meant walking in the open door to the correct room and asking the ladies (always female for some reason) what ever question I had. Black Hawk county made you go through a metal detector with armed officers stationed all around the area. Everyone including those appearing for court that morning, were required to funnel in to one desk to be 'processed'. Everyone else was appearing for their day in court and me in shorts, sandals and a T-shirt was way over dressed. I'm guessing appearing before a judge must be very dress casual.

I got processed and was told to head up to the third floor where I told one of the ladies working in the Clerk of Court office what I was after. She was young and immediately had to ask one of the more 'seasoned' looking ladies working in the back reaches of the office. The more seasoned ladies looked like they had better things to do than to answer questions for the young lady. I knew right then that my trip would be for naught. The young lady looked for awhile back in the records department but came back empty handed and said that I needed a case number to get any information because the name wasn't in the records. I gently tried prying to see if she had checked both names and where I might find a case number at but she essentially shut down and her body language showed she wasn't interested in helping me anymore. So I thanked her and headed out. As a genealogist, so many times your fate rests in the hands of others and they control the outcome of the meeting, so it wasn't a situation I was unfamiliar with but it was still disappointing.

I spent the rest of the morning stopping at various county genealogy collections across Black Hawk county and Fayette county where the Baker family first stayed when they migrated to Iowa. Although I didn't find any new information, I did learn some context of the time and area and left my mark. By leaving my mark, I mean I left my name and information in the family name file so that future seekers may find it and give me a call. In the Fayette county genealogy society, I found that the person who was my last stop of my trip had been there and left her mark. Had I not known her prior, I would have immediately called her to swap family lore information. As it was, I was scheduled to do that in less than a half hour.

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