St. Pat’s Day prompts Irish heritage research

LISBON – With St. Patrick’s Day upon us, many people turned to the Columbiana County Archives and Research Center to find ways to research their Irish heritage.

The non-profit organization held a class at the center last week and provided tips on what to do, where to look and how to go about finding information on someone’s heritage.

During the class, CCARC member Mary Ann Barnheiser-Creatore gave insight as to how someone might figure out where he or she came from.

“A lot of people tell you by the county they came from,” she said. “There are hints as to where you may be from based on your last name.”

Creatore provided a map of Ireland, roughly the size of the state of Ohio, and noted prominent names from each county to serve as help.

She warned, however, about looking up someone if the person in question has a common name like Smith or Jones.

“I had a guy come in the other day, but I had a tough time there because the name is so common, there were over 40 people with the same name,” Creatore said. “You would have to try to get more information in that case.”

During the class, attendees brought laptops and tablets and were invited to connect to the Internet to research their lineage with free genealogy websites like Castle Garden and FamilySearch.

Creatore recommends, however, being careful when visiting certain websites for that the sites might contain incomplete information.

“Anything you see on these websites may be correct,” Creatore said. “You still need to document it, though. Someone else might have done the information, but you still want to watch.”

The popularity of shows like “Who Do You Think You Are” encouraged many people to trace back their heritage, but Creatore and CCARC president Linda McElroy noted that learning about ancestry takes a lot more time than an hour.

“People think that because of the Internet, everything is instant, and it’s not,” McElroy said. “There are lots of places to look for the information, and it’s takes awhile to get all the information that is needed.”

“It takes a lot of serious research, it could take months or even years,” Creatore said. “It’s like a journey. You would have to go to several places to look for the information that you need.”

Both also agree that genealogy is about more than just names and dates.

“I like to call it fishing with a big net,” Creatore said. “Some people want to know about just the names and dates of people, but we also like to learn about the personality.”

“If you see just a name with a birth date and a death date, then that’s boring,” McElvoy said. “You would want to look into the way the person behaved, the way he was. That’s what brings the memory of that person alive.”

The class served as one of the many services provided by the center, which houses several historical articles regarding Columbiana County, and looks to help everyone from around the world.

“We love to help people out that come here,” McElvoy said. “We’ve had people come from other countries, we’ve had people come from coast to coast and do research here, and I think we have helped them.”

The center is located on South Market Street in Lisbon and is open from 9:30 a.m. through 5 p.m. Tuesdays, and 9:30 a.m. through 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays.