Since 2006, I have received numerous research requests through email, phone calls, and in person. My line of work requires patience, attention to detail, history knowledge, and friends I can call when I need help with a request.
At the Lansing Historical Museum, we use the Past Perfect database which keeps track of our artifacts. The Basehor Historical Society, Leavenworth Public Library's Kansas Room, Leavenworth County Historical Society, and Tonganoxie Community Historical Society also use Past Perfect.
We can "tag" people to an artifact such as a high school yearbook. Things get complicated when there is a common name. I have a William Johnson from the 1979 Lansing High School yearbook and I have an article about an escape from the Kansas State Penitentiary from 1927 which William Johnson escaped. Obviously, they are not the same person, however I regularly run into relatives that share the same name and I'm not sure if it is the father or the son being referenced in the document. Other challenges include spelling errors. Recently a reporter from the Joplin Globe requested information about the Stifflebacks. The Lansing News article from 1897 had the name spelled Staffleback. Which one (if either) is correct?
Who were the Stafflebacks? In the late 1800s, they were a family who (depending on the account one reads) ran a boarding house or bordello in Galena, Kan. They murdered several people and disposed of the bodies in an abandoned mine shaft. In October 1897, Ma Staffleback (otherwise known as Nancy Wilson), Charles Wilson her husband of three months, and her sons George and Ed were sent to prison in Lansing for the murders. Wanda Adams of the Leavenworth Public Library assisted me in finding the article that noted the death of Ma Staffleback in 1909. The reporter wanted the information because of a petition to save the building and restore it as part of Galena's history.
A few years ago a woman emailed requesting information about her ancestor J.F. Rudisill, who was the Protestant chaplain at K.S.P. during the mid-20th century. I did not have any information about him. However, the State of Kansas printed biennial reports that included reports from the Catholic and Protestant chaplains. I called my former co-worker Sharolyn Legleiter who works in Forsyth Library's Government Documents department at Fort Hays State University. She faxed copies of some of Chaplain Rudisill's reports to me and I sent copies on to the patron which made her very happy. Lifelong resident Gene Young also told me where the Rudisill family lived in Lansing.
Another important person in my research network is Gene Kirby at Mt. Muncie Cemetery. I call him when trying to locate where a person might be buried for a patron. If the patron requests a photograph of the tombstone Mr. Kirby is always willing to help me find it. Periodically, he calls me to see if I can help a genealogist that has come to his office. Researching history can be like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Sometimes one can't find all of the pieces. However, we try our best to help those hunting local history.
Page 2 of 2 - Laura Phillippi is site supervisor of the Lansing Historical Museum.