Called home : death in Carroll County, Indiana : five decades of obituaries, 1880s-1930s, taken from local newspapers / compiled by Janet Hall. [United States]
"Some obituaries for those with Carroll County connections who lived and/or died elsewhere are included, especially for neighboring counties of Boone, Cass, Clinton, Howard, Miami, Tippecanoe, Tipton and White"— Cover. Includes bibliographical references and index.
Family historians whose roots are in Carroll County, Indiana and environs will find Janet Hall’s Called Home not just a treasure trove of genealogical information—which it is—but a wonderfully interesting snapshot of life and death in small-town north-central Indiana. The source of the majority of obituaries is the Hoosier Democrat, which was published Saturdays in Flora from 1893-1974. Hall has extracted them exactly as they appeared, except for capitalizing surnames and “some judicial editing of details not pertinent to family relationships.”
I first saw Called Home at the Allen County Public Library at Fort Wayne, one of the premier genealogical libraries in the country. A friend and I had made the three-hour drive to Indiana from western Michigan. We decided to get a hotel room and spend the night in order to maximize our research time. Ideally, we would each find something really special to make the trip a memorable one. A mere two hours before we were set to leave, I finally had it.
For those who appreciate numbers,Called Home boasts 563 pages with 1,201 transcribed obituaries, completely accessible through a 49-page, every-name index of 1,508 names—and there’s no disputing it—it is “genealogical gold.” Not only can researchers collect names and dates, but they can learn about the people behind them. They will find life stories and they will find death stories, some of them, in the words of the author, “described in excruciating detail.” The obituaries vary from a modest couple of paragraphs to the very lengthy, and there is plenty of information packed into every one of them.
We learn about family relationships and family origins:
We learn about personality traits:
As appears to be the custom of the day, if the death was a consequence of illness, there is invariably a substantial amount of detail about the deceased’s medical condition during the time immediately preceding his or her passing:
Residents of these communities were white, Christian and mostly Protestant; their strong ties to the local churches, typically well-documented in these obituaries, give researchers other avenues to pursue. According to Hall, they often “read like sermons, because that is what they were: the officiating minister frequently wrote these words, spoke them at the funeral, and then took the obituary to the local newspaper office after the ceremonies.”
Like the obituaries themselves, the captions run the gamut from the ordinary, to the florid, to the informative and unusual, to the rather sensational. Some were more eye-catching than others.
Arranged alphabetically by surname of the deceased, the entries are presented in a very readable format. Surnames mentioned in the obituary are provided at the upper left, the date and source of the obituary at the upper right, with the headline as it appeared in the newspaper between. The body of the obituary follows. Names of persons associated with the departed are printed in bold lettering, making it easy for the reader to scan the page. Read the obituary of my ancestor, Lavina Underhill, as appears in Called Home.
Because the author has worked extensively with records from the Carroll County area, she has included with some of the obituaries information from her own research. Notes in the italics at the end of some of the articles reflect her additional facts gathered from census, probate, land and vital records. Similarly, she notes perceived factual errors.
It would be easy—and accurate—to say that “Called Home is a wonderful reference book,” because it is. It’s well-written, well-organized, chock-full of information, and has a beautiful index. It’s a Carroll County researcher’s dream. It’s a family historian’s dream. I heartily recommend it to all genealogical libraries and historical societies whose focus includes Indiana.
The problem in referring to it as a “reference book,” is that it might conjure up the idea that this is a title that you should only expect to find only at a library and not on a personal bookshelf; something that you wouldn’t necessarily think about buying for yourself; something that you wouldn’t just sit down with and read.
Such an idea could not be further from the truth. I was barely home from my trip to the library when I got online and emailed Janet Hall to find out how I could buy my own copy of Called Home. I liked it so much and I considered it so valuable that I bought one for the State Library of Michigan as well.
Yes, it is full of facts, but it is a captivating read, and dare I admit? It’s a fun read. I feel a pang, getting so much enjoyment from this book, because after all, these are deaths I’m reading about, but they are lives, too. Only some of these folks are “mine,” and I eagerly gleaned the information about them, but I still find myself interested nearly as much in the people who aren’t "mine"! With each one that I read, I feel as if I know that much more about this community from which my father, my grandparents, my great grandparents and my great-great grandparents came. Hall’s readers will not be disappointed.
Purchase your copy of Called Home directly from the author, Janet Hall, by emailing her at email@example.com. The cost of $40.00 includes shipping.
Those who love Called Home as much as I do will be happy to learn that Hall has a second volume of Carroll County obituaries in the works. This one will pick up where the first leaves off, covering deaths between 1930-1980. The anticipated publication date is about a year from now.
Reviewed by Pamela D. Lucas