PCDL celebrating Black History Month, new equipment
By Michael Zimmerman PCDL
PCDL gets new microfilm reader
For local history buffs, researching Preble County and the surrounding areas just got a whole lot easier, cleaner, and better looking.
The Preble County Room at 450 S. Barron St. in Eaton, a part of the Preble County District Library, holds thousands of volumes of historical newspapers, court records, and census records for public research. With the upgrade of a new microfilm reader and printer, those records are now easier for the public to view.
The new reader has a 17-inch monitor, and it can print high-resolution images to letter, legal, and 11-by-17 page sizes. The higher resolution screen allows for easier reading of the archived historical documents. With an improved projection lens, old images can be blown up in size without losing quality.
The addition of a laser printer also makes the research process a lot cleaner.
“Our old reader had toner cartridges in it, and sometimes, that toner would fall down onto pages, making a mess,” said PC Room Supervisor Marlene Ressler. “Our new machine makes the whole microfilm research process cleaner, easier, and the printed documents are higher quality.”
The PC Room currently holds previous editions of The Register-Herald, Lewisburg Leader, Eaton Register, Eaton Independent, and many other old Preble County newspapers on microfilm. It also houses a large collection of birth, death, marriage, divorce, and death records from the county, as well as census records dating back to 1820 for Preble, Montgomery, Darke, and Butler counties.
The Preble County Room is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and the first and third Saturdays of each month from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, visit pcdl.lib.oh.us or facebook.com/PrebleGenealogy.
Genealogy lock-in scheduled March 1
Are you looking to get a jump start on your family tree? The Preble County Room will be hosting its 12th annual genealogy lock-in, the “Night Owl Prowl” on Saturday, March 1 from 5-10 p.m.
Preble County Room staff and volunteers will be available at the “Night Owl Prowl” to assist in your family history research. Computers will be provided, or you may bring your laptop for research. The event will include access to the thousands of physical records in the Preble County room, as well as thousands of digitized records in the Preble County Room database, and many records on microfilm.
The library version of Ancestry.com will also be available on any of the library computers, which includes access to over 30,000 Ancestry.com record collections and over 11 billion records from 1500 through the 2000s.
The Preble County Room is located at the Preble County District Library Administration and Resource Center at 450 S. Barron St. in Eaton, Ohio. There is no cost for the event. Guests are encouraged to bring a snack to share at the lock-in.
Seating at the “Night Owl Prowl” is limited. Register for a spot by calling 937-456-4970 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The event is sponsored by the Preble County District Library, the Preble County Genealogical Society, and the Commodore Preble Chapter, NSDAR.
For information on other events at the Preble County District Library, visit the website at pcdl.lib.oh.us , on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PrebleCountyDistrictLibrary, or www.facebook.com/PrebleGenealogy.
Black History Month: Langfords’ journey to Preble County
In the mid-1800s, there was the Langford family in Preble County. Children and grandchildren of Craig and Fannie Langford went on to ministers and farmers in the county. But the path of the African-American family to get to Preble County and prosper wasn’t an easy one.
At the start of the 1850s, Craig and Fannie were slaves in Rockcastle County, Kentucky, owned by Liberty Langford. The slave-owner was also suspected in aiding with the Underground Railroad, moving slaves north to freedom. There has been speculation that he owned slaves as a disguise for his abolitionist ways, or if he had a change in heart at some point, moving from a slave-owner to an abolitionist view.
A woman who later purchased Liberty Langford’s house ‘Langford Station’ noted several secret trapdoors and a large cellar for keeping slaves hidden.
It was 1856 when Liberty emancipated Craig Langford, who then made his way north. He settled in the village of West Elkton, which had a large Quaker population at the time. The Quakers didn’t believe in the institution of slavery, and while in West Elkton, Langford met Jesse Stubbs.
Stubbs served on the first Preble County Agricultural Society Board, was a Gratis Township Trustee, and served in the Ohio General Assembly. He inherited his home near West Elkton after his father died, and he lived for 71 years in the same house, a rare thing for early Preble County settlers.
Stubbs also made his mark in the county by aiding in the retrieval of Craig Langford’s wife Fannie and their seven children, bringing them to the West Elkton area.
In the winter of 1858, Stubbs made a trip to Rockcastle County with $5,062. He purchased Fannie Langford and the seven children and brought them to freedom in Preble County. In 2012 dollars, that amount would be over $144,000.
As for the slave-owner Liberty Langford, his family continued in its secret abolitionist ways, but word got out. His son James was murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan. James’ son, named Liberty after his grandfather, was also murdered, but the KKK was never confirmed as being involved with the death.
The former slaves stayed in Preble County. Their eighth child, a son, was named Jesse S. Langford, presumably after the man who set them free. In the years following, Craig, Fannie, and their children Mary, America, Walter, Robert, Nancy, Ann, Isaac, Stephen, Jesse, and Maria worked until every cent of the $5,062 was paid back to Stubbs.
Stubbs continued on as one of the directors of the Underground Railroad during its existence, though Stubbs never stole, or had anyone else steal, slaves from owners. He and the Quakers cared for slaves who came to the area.
The story of Stubbs and the Langfords was compiled by the genealogists of the Preble County Room during last October’s African-American Conference. Stubbs boasted that no runaway slave who reached West Elkton was ever caught, according to Robert Eaton Lowry’s ‘History of Preble County.’ Lowry also wrote that Stubbs had up to a half dozen slaves in his attic while slave hunters roamed West Elkton.
Langford’s history is one of 18 African-American histories compiled and available at the Preble County Room at 450 S. Barron St. in Eaton. Craig and Fannie Langford are now buried in Fair Mound cemetery.
Learn more during Black History Month. For more information, visit pcdl.lib.oh.us or facebook.com/PrebleGenealogy.
The Eaton Branch of the Preble County District Library will be hosting its monthly ‘Novel Discussions’ meeting on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. This month’s novel is ‘The Gods of Guilt’ by Michael Connelly.
Crafts for adults
Danita Cook will be at the Eldorado Branch of the Preble County District Library on Monday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m. teaching how to crochet a ladder yarn necklace. The class will also be given on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the West Manchester Branch of the library.
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