Family history research trip to the Wadena area of Minnesota, part 1

My wife and I have just returned from a 10-day vacation to celebrate our 5th anniversary (hence the drought of posts of late). When we returned, I was greeted by a few responses to letters I sent out before our departure. One of these was from a relative I’ve longed to meet in person—my half great-great uncle, Gordy Askew. Gordy has a wealth of knowledge (first-hand and otherwise) about the Askew branch of my family. After all, he’s the son of my great-great grandfather!

I’ve wanted to visit Wadena and to talk with him for years, but over the years I’ve either been too busy or too poor to seriously contemplate a pilgrimage to Wadena. But the time has finally come, and I’m planning my trip. The trip will last a little over a week, and I’ll be going in about seven weeks—in November, 2012. I thought I’d share some of the details of planning such a trip, for others who might themselves be interested in undertaking such a trip to ancestral haunts. To maximize the results of such a trip, some amount of forethought and planning is required. I’ll have one week there, and I want to make the most of it.

So where to start? I suppose it’s best to start by dreaming big and then narrowing down the list until I’ve got something realistic and achievable. So here is my “blue sky” list of things I’d like to get done on this trip:

Blue-sky goals for the trip

  • Interview Gordy Askew, and capture an audio and video record of the interview
  • Learn of additional people with whom I should speak to learn more of my area ancestors
  • Visit and photograph the graves of all area ancestors (and as many area relatives as possible)
  • Visit and photograph the residences of all area ancestors (and as many area relatives as possible)
  • Visit local area historical societies and museums
  • Find and copy photographs of all area ancestors (and select area relatives), especially those ancestors for whom I’ve seen only a couple of photos or none at all
  • Find and copy any personal papers, letters, journals, etc. of all area ancestors (and select area relatives)
  • Find and photograph any surviving possessions of area ancestors (and select area relatives)
  • Find and copy any newspaper references (articles, obituaries, announcements, advertisements, etc.) of area ancestors (and select area relatives)
  • Review historical local newspapers for select dates to gain a better idea of the times and circumstances in which my ancestors lived.
  • Gather copies of historical records for all area ancestors (and select area relatives)
  • Obtain death certificates of all area ancestors (and select area relatives)
  • Obtain birth certificates of all area ancestors (and select area relatives)
  • Obtain marriage certificates of all area ancestors (and select area relatives)
  • Obtain probate records of all area ancestors (and select area relatives)
  • Obtain any other court records (civil, criminal) of all area ancestors (and select area relatives)
  • Obtain real property records (deeds, mortgages, maps) for all area ancestors (and select area relatives)
  • Obtain taxation and assessement for all area ancestors (and select area relatives)
  • Obtain school records for all area ancestors (and select area relatives)
  • Obtain church records for all area ancestors (and select area relatives)

The “area ancestors” mentioned above are those direct ancestors who spent at least a portion of their lives in (or otherwise involved with) the Wadena area in some way:

  • Askew family (incl. Eilbeck)
    • Joseph Askew (1840-1911)
    • Jane (Eilbeck) Askew (1841-1914)
    • Wilfred Lawson Askew (1873-1953)
    • Clyde Lawson Askew (1896-1967)
    • Harriet Eva (Askew) Prettyman (1922-living)
  • Eddy family (incl. Bristol, Comstock, Kinne)
    • Abel Eddy (1810-1897)
    • Harriet May (Bristol) Eddy (1820-1896)
    • Lemuel Comstock, Jr. (1816- ? )
    • Sophronia C (Kinne) Comstock (1825-aft 1900)
    • William Chester Eddy (1846-1928)
    • Emma Alice (Comstock) Eddy (1850-1907)
    • Harriet S. “Hattie” (Eddy) Askew (1875-1910)
  • Evertz family (incl. Kaufmann)
    • Peter Evertz (ca 1825-ca 1890)
    • Mardalena (Kaufmann) Evertz (1830-aft 1910)
    • Veronika (Evertz) Gores (1860-1920)
  • Gores family (incl. Von Wolf)
    • Francis “Frank” Gores (ca 1826-1899)
    • Margretha “Maggie” (Von Wolf) Gores (1833-1910)
    • Fredrick Eugene “F.E.” Gores (1866-1936)
    • Rosa Cecilia “Rose” Gores (1892-1945)
  • Horan family (incl. Patterson)
    • William W. Horan (1842-aft 1900)
    • Margaret (Patterson) Horan (1842-1907)
    • Mary Ann (Horan) Prettyman (1866-1906)
  • McAllister family
    • George McAllister (1825-1910)
    • Margret Elizabeth “Maggie” (McAllister) Scott (1872-1910)
  • Prettyman family
    • Alfred Minos Prettyman (1862-1935)
    • Alfred Wharton Prettyman (1823-1892)
    • Charles Austin “C.A.” Prettyman (1889-1970)
    • William Eugene Prettyman (1919-1998)
  • Scott family (incl. Woodruff, Peck)
    • John W. Woodruff (1822-1909)
    • Eliza (Horton) Woodruff (ca 1828-1892)
    • Horace L. Scott (ca 1842-1870)
    • Caroline A (Woodruff) Scott (ca 1848-aft 1905)
    • Frank Scott (1869-1937)
    • Gertrude Scott (1897-1980)

Additionally, time and logistics willing, I’d like to take a side trip to the Concord/Milton area to look into James Harkcom and Margaret Mary (Snyder) Harkcom, my great-great-great-great grandparents (their daughter Rebecca married Alfred Wharton Prettyman). I have seen a poor photocopy of a photo of these two, and haven’t been able to find anyone who knows anything about the original. I hope to find additional clues (and maybe even a photo) of the Harkcom family on this side trip.

Next steps:

  • Plan a general itinerary—where will I be and when?
  • Prioritize—what will I not be able to do on a second trip here 5-10 years hence?
  • What can be done before I arrive to make the trip smoother, easier, and more productive?
  • Prepare a list of specific questions that I’m unlikely to be able to get answered anywhere else.

Continued in a special section….

2 thoughts on “Family history research trip to the Wadena area of Minnesota, part 1

  1. Could you share with me any information about Mary Ann Horan Prettyman, Margaret Patterson Horan’s husband, William Horan, and Anora Horan? William Horan would be my great grandfather. I have found the records from MN prior to 1900 difficult to obtain on line. Of course, I would be happy to remunerate you your time etc. Thank you.

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