Continuing the series of Iowa’s hidden genealogical treasures:
Genealogy Library at the Prairie Trails Museum
Wayne County Historical Society
Hwy 2 East, PO Box 104
Corydon, Iowa 50060-0104
Admission: Adults $5; Jr/Sr High $2; K-6 $1
Hours: depend upon the season; closed during the winter, check website for hours. Also, open by appointment.
This is a great research facility: friendly staff, everything organized and nicely labeled, and a lot of resources to peruse and study.
The first thing that caught my eye in the library was the extensive collection of country school records, some dating to years prior to 1900, though most begin after the turn of the century. The school records are arranged by township, and often they are the teacher’s register identifying the school term, names of students, age, sex, birthdate, attendance record and standing (grade) by subject. The library also has area yearbooks, though many years are missing for some schools.
The library has a collection of birth (beginning 1880) and marriage records (beginning 1851), obituaries (beginning 1890), and cemetery transcriptions (burials 1846 to 1991). The librarians were very pleased to show me their latest completed project: preserving and indexing Probates, Wills and Estates 1851-1925. Awesome!
I estimated that family histories, memoirs, and similar materials filled nearly 16 linear feet.
The library has a nice military section which includes a Civil War ledger (perhaps kept by a company or quartermaster clerk) from Feb 186 to June 1863 with lists of provisions, tools, duty and attendance rosters and deaths; the volume names Capt Carothers, Lt. Malott and Lt. Speer, as well as the enlisted personnel, but does not indicate the unit. The collection includes transcriptions of three Civil War diaries (for Aquilla Stanidfird, Ezra Miller, and M.S. Andrews) and a book 1861-1865 Civil War Veterans, Wayne County, Iowa.
A binder Spanish-American War May 1898 – Nov. 1898, Wayne County Veterans includes a typed copy of an article by Veteran Grant Kelley “Interesting Facts About the Spanish American War” which had appeared in Corydon’s Time Republican newspaper on March 5, 1953. Several three-ring binders and books have information about men and women who served from Wayne County in both World Wars.
Scrapbooks with area newspapers have been indexed. These include newspapers from Corydon (1922-2006), Humeston (1922-2005), Seymour (1890-2005), Allerton (sporadic 1881-2004), Sewal, Lineville (1940s, 1980-2002).
Churches of Wayne County, Iowa was compiled by Ortha Green (pencil date: “1972 or after”). Also, histories of the towns in the county are in the library.
Many photos have been preserved in archival boxes and organized into family, town, and school categories.
Corydon is known for its annual Old Settlers celebration. Materials from these events are kept in this library. Also, some local clubs have donated materials.
While the library has some materials for surrounding counties, the primary focus is Wayne County.
A highlight of the library are the shelves of binders and other information from the Iowa Mormon Trail Association. The trail runs through Wayne County and the land of a specific resident, who has become active in the association and donated many materials to the library. I randomly opened one of the binders and read what a father had written about the death of a child and the family’s destitute situation.
It is unfortunate that this library only has a limited internet presence, and it appears that nothing has been digitized.
However, the library is only part of this awesome facility. For a complete understanding of the history of Wayne County, the researcher also needs to visit the extensive museum. It is outstanding!