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[NC] Catawba County Rhodes Room


Library's Rhodes Room focuses on genealogy

2004 expansion makes explorations of your family tree even easier

If you have even a small sense of history and a curiosity about where you came from, you may find researching your family history to be fascinating.

It's not always as difficult as you might think, and the 2004 expansion of the Rhodes Room at the Catawba County Library in Newton makes that room the place to be if you want to explore your family tree.

Librarian Kim Wetmore, who spends much of her work time helping people with genealogy, recently wrote a story for our employee newsletter that was so interesting I wanted to share some of it with you. Kim based it on the search for ancestors who served during the Civil War.

"People have many reasons for wanting to know if they're related to a Civil War veteran," she wrote. "Sometimes people get fascinated with that period of history and wonder what connection they have with that particular fragment of time.

"Sometimes they're researching family history and, while completing charts of family members, it suddenly dawns on them that these family members had real lives; that their ancestors interacted with the world around them. Sometimes a person's reason is as simple as wanting to join a historical society."

According to "The Catawba Soldier of the Civil War" by George W. Hahn, Catawba County sent 1,500 soldiers to the Civil War. About 1,200 returned home to rebuild the South. You could be related to one of them or one from another state.

Because so many people have moved to Catawba County from other parts of the country, it's just as possible you're related to a soldier who fought in the Union Army. The tools you need to find that soldier are also available in the Rhodes Room.

To find out if you do have a Civil War ancestor, you must first be able to trace your lines through your parents and grandparents, back at least to the 1860s.

That's not as hard as it sounds, so long as you have a little patience with looking through indexes and books. I've been doing genealogy for more than 30 years, and it's often relatively easy to run a line back to the 1840s.

If you can get back that far, you should come up with a list of the names, ages and home places of the men on your lines who could have fought during the Civil War.

Once you have a list of possibilities, the Rhodes Room has many resources that can answer that tricky question: Did my great-great-great-grandfather serve during "The War"? Just counting the greats can be fun.

Thanks to the research of an author whose book is in the Rhodes Room, I know of a 46th great grandfather, a man who lived in present-day France and had only one name. And I have stories about seven Civil War soldiers in my tree.

Even if you haven't traced your tree back that far, the Rhodes Room houses a great many resources that can help you get started.

The room's name honors the wonderful Evelyn Rhodes, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of Catawba County family history. She helped library visitors for many years before her retirement in 2000.

The room was expanded last year and moved from the second floor of the library in Newton around to the rear, where the large parking area is located.

Visitors are always welcome to the Rhodes Room, when it's open. They also are welcome to attend meetings of the Catawba County Genealogy Society, held on the fourth Tuesday of every month -- except in December, when it does not meet.

You can call Kim Wetmore at (828) 465-8670 if you'd like additional information on the society, the Rhodes Room or the fascinating world of genealogy.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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