Suggestions for Genealogy Research
to Montgomery Co. Arkansas
Hickory Nut Mountain Lookout
Rd, Montgomery Co. AR. June 2000.
Usually you can view Lake Ouachita from the vista area during the daytime and
the stars at night.
A good place to start a research visit is at the
library, in the Community Center, Mt Ida within walking distance from the courthouse. Closed
Tuesday's and weekends. Mt Ida is the county seat and the courthouse, built in 1923, welcomes visitors researching their family history.
Records are intact since 1842 when the county was created. The Montgomery
House Museum is open and are slowly building exhibits.
"It is not just about presentation
but about preservation."
Mt Ida Chamber
Commerce have maps and genealogy
books available. Located near the True Value store in Mt Ida
west side of town. Onward to Pencil Bluff and turn west on Highway 88
and lookout the three old wells between Pencil Bluff and Oden.
One is at White Town. Keep an
eye open for barns. Visit
the Jot 'em Down Store at Pine Ridge.
In Mena, an old
log cabin is the center of Janssen Park. A monument dedicated
to the Lum 'n' Abner characters is there. Mena's visitors
information center at the old Railway Depot has another Lum 'n'
Abner collection and a collection of paintings.
View the Ouachita National
Forest and river. On the way back to Hot Springs take a side trip to Hickory
Nut Mtn vista, where a view of Lake Ouachita and surrounding area came be
obtained. 2.5 miles up Forest Service Road 50.U.S. off Hwy 270, 22 miles west of
Hot Springs. Picnicking. Beautiful
Charlton Recreational Area with outstanding work of the CCC workers is a
good spot to swim and hike
and bike. The land was purchased by the
Government in 1935 from the Moore family. The bathhouse notice board at Charlton
has photographs of the homestead, family and a write up on the Moore family.
East of Crystal
Springs a gravel road on the left (heading east toward Hot Springs)
(there are two gravel roads here take the second if heading east), Owl Creek Rd,
leads off at a 45 degree angle to Blakely Mtn Dam and the
Spillway. Near Mountain Pine.
Mount Ida Public Library
Montgomery County Courthouse
- Clerk's Office 8.30 am to 4.30pm. Ask for assistance e.g. how to use the
indirect and direct land records
"Montgomery County: Our Heritage" was
found here (I didn't see it on my last visit) along with all the county record books
in the vault.
- Excellent Montgomery Co. General Highways Map available
- Next door in the Assessor's office is a large up to date
map on the wall with current property owners. You can toil backwards and work out who was
the original land owner of property. Abstract.
- Consider taking along a laptop and scanner.
- Be prepared. Take along
pedigree chart and
- Ask about school census
blank 1930-1978 in County Treasurer's Office
- In hallway look for painting of the Sweethome Church and
a photo of the previous county clerks.
- In the grounds outside the south
entrance look for a plaque dedicated to the Civil War
veterans, corner stone and historic marker.
- Montgomery County News. Courthouse Square. Accepts submissions from the general public that include
query's, family histories, poems, photos, reunion notices etc.
- Opportunity to purchase
MCHS publications. Chamber of
- Debbie Baldwin, President of the Montgomery County
- When on a research trip in the county eat where the
locals meet. e.g. The Deli on Hwy 88 just out of Pencil Bluff towards Oden
on the right. The
older local men congregate there for coffee early each morning. They are usually
friendly and might know untapped local resources, the names you are researching and the
names of folks who are living history with their piano covered in old settlers
- Acquaintances can last for years from a kind gesture so
if you are in the courthouse vault, library, museum or genealogical society rooms around
lunchtime invite the most pleasant and helpful person out to eat.
- Ask at the desk of local nursing homes if any residents
would be interested in speaking to you about the local area and the family you are
researching. Everyone might have a wonderful afternoon full of memories shared and new
leads. Montgomery Co. Nursing Home (870) 867-2156, corner of Ray St. and Orchard St.
and Mount Ida Retirement Center (870) 867-2982, east of Mount Ida near the airport.
Fred Standridge wrote "Only material that is submitted can be organized,
accessible to and
enjoyed by those who are seeking information. I hope that you have enjoyed Volumes 1 and 2
of Montgomery County, Our Heritage published by the Montgomery County Historical Society.
But the volume that I most like to read is Number 3 or 4, or maybe even more volumes. I
think the biggest or the only criticism that I have heard of these is that they
"don't contain anything about my family". These books were chiefly
you. The staff only organized, edited and published what you contributed. I am pleading
with you to contribute anything you know about you, your ancestors, schools, churches or
happenings of any kind that relates to Montgomery County. You may want to add to what has
already been published. Please include family work sheets of each generation of your
family. Some of Dick Whittington's
interviews are indexed. One by Dixie Gaston talked about Mauldin and Old Forrester.
- Montgomery County Historical Society P.O.
Box 578 Mount Ida, AR 71957
- Mt Ida Post Office U.S. Post Office Across Hwy 270
from the courthouse.
- Courthouse - $1.00/copy
- Color laser copies, try Professional Copy and Mail
Services 1819 Albert Pike Rd, Hot Springs behind the Horizon Bank, on the main road
heading out of town (Hwy 270 W.)
1427 Malvern Ave. [also Hwy. 270 East], Hot Springs, AR 71901
Phone # 501-623-4161.
Has every copy of "The
Record" that has been
published. The annual publication has been in existence since the 1960. The Melting Pot has most issues, if not all.
The Garland County
Garland County Historical Society, 222 McMahan Drive, Hot Springs, AR
publication for Garland County that is called "The Record". From
on of their brochures, the membership
dues are $15. There
is a mailing fee of $3 if THE RECORD has to be mailed.
The Central AR Library System, Main Library Branch at 700
Louisiana, in Little Rock do get a copy of
THE RECORD each year
The Melting Pot was
organized in 1976. Over 1000 hardback volumes & over 700 soft back volumes
are in their reference library. They
have state historical journals & genealogical periodicals.
Yearly membership dues are $20 & besides the privilege of being
able to check out material for a two week period, included is a yearly
published by the MP & free queries & look ups for members.
The annual published by the MP once a year is mailed out to other
genealogical societies that they are doing exchanges with &
all paid members. They do have Montgomery Co. material.
Address: 649-B Ouachita Ave., AR 71902-0936
or P.O. Box 936.
ph: # 501-624-0229. Hours
are Monday & Fridays from 10 to 2; the 2nd and
of each month 10 to 2.
Arkansas History Commission and State Archives
One Capitol Mall
Little Rock, AR 72201
Holdings include: Census records, county records, church records, cemetery records, newspaper files, etc.
Arkansas County School Census Records are now available at the
AR History Commission and State Archives.
There records are filed with the County Records on microfilm:
Montgomery County: 1928 - 1978 Rolls 45 - 74
maintains a list of persons who do research for a fee and will furnish a copy
upon receipt of a request along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
A registration for AGS members who wish to be included on the
researchers' list is included
from time to time in the AR Family Historian [another publication that has
been around since the '60s].
AGS issues "Certificates
of Arkansas Ancestry" recognizing descendants
of AR residents who were in AR before 31 December 1900.
The three certificate categories are Territorial, Antebellum, and
Nineteenth Century. For an application booklet send a SASE with postage to cover 2 ounces to:
Arkansas Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 17653
Little Rock, AR 72212
When to visit:
- Springtime: faster float trips
- May: Decoration Days.
Attend a church service and meet the locals.
- May: Good Olde Days Saturday Memorial
Weekend and Heritage Day - living history at the
bluegrass and gospel music during the summer at The Front Porch, courthouse
- August: County Fair
- October: leaves changing color. October
Quartz, Quiltz & Craftz
Festival with the EH Club Country Store - great handmade work for sale
- Consider doing a photographic study of the many barns in the area
- Pine Ridge - Lum & Abner Museum. Closed Mondays
- Hold a cousins family reunion and ask them to bring
everything they have on the family history e.g. photo albums, letters, recipes and oral
- Possible sites : Brady Mountain Resort, Shangri La
Resort, Mt Ida Fairgrounds, Lake Ouachita State Park, Twin Creek Recreational Area
- Garland Co. Library, Hot Springs, has a large room
dedicated to genealogy material. Mena, Polk Co. Library has a good genealogical
Melting Pot Genealogical Society, Inc. has more genealogy books than
the library. "The Melting Pot" has its own library in Hot Springs.
649-B Ouachita Avenue, PO Box 936, Hot Springs, AR 71902
- Ark-an-sas Guide State Parks -Queen Wilhelmina & Lake Ouachita
Do You Own What You Upload?
- STOR - Search the Original Record. It is essential
to examine source material and not rely on published sources. e.g. census and cemetery
- You can never be sure how accurate an index is, page by
page searching can increase your chance of finding genealogical material
- Beginners Guide to
chart (printable) courtesy of LDS. Family History Centers have
many resources. Family search
Twenty ways to avoid genealogical grief. Document all sources
Charts Forms, Etc. Cyndi's List
- Compilers of all information can make mistakes.
Information on a death certificate or headstone is only good as that provided by the
- If planning research visits to anywhere, always call
first and check with the staff in planning your visit to find out when the most
knowledgeable staff person is going to be in. Facilities may have different hours for
winter e.g. Jot 'em Down Store & Museum
Maybe the archives doesn't really have what you want and will refer you to another
- Personal interviews may produce crucial
clues even if the subject has selective recall. After transcribing the
interview, add a detailed footnote describing it. Interview with ______
________, daughter of ____ and Mary _____ Smith, wife of _____ _____ . June
4, 2008, Oden, AR. . . You can't ensure the accuracy of _____'s information,
but you can document where it came from.
The four "c" requisites when
searching for backwoods cemeteries are: companion, cell phone, common
sense and exercise caution.
- Locate the right cemetery, remember the information on a
death certificate or grave marker is only good as that provided by the informant, it may
not be correct. Information on a headstone is a secondary resource.
Cemetery books have errors.
- Some cemeteries have had name changes over the years.
e.g. Hutchinson now the Sulphur Springs Cemetery, Sims now the old Willhite Cemetery.
- When you go to a cemetery, take a prepared laminated
card with your name and an e-mail address and phone number and the words
"researching this ancestor," surname in bold; place on a tiny stake beside the
headstone. Somebody may come along that has information to share about the same ancestral
- The only people who visit cemeteries more frequently than
family historians are funeral
directors and monument makers. Make inquires from them about the surname you are
- When you have to stop and ask directions from old-timers
from the area take a moment to talk as idle conversation may lead to a break in the brick
- Remember safety. Go with someone to the
cemetery. Take a cell phone. Some communities are very cautious of strangers and
often someone comes to the cemetery to see who is visiting their cemetery. Another
opportunity to gather info.
- Write down directions from the entrance of the cemetery
to the headstone in case you want to direct someone else to find it.
- Take photographs of the headstones and write down what is
on the headstones in case the photos do not turn out.
- Document the name on the headstone on either side of your
ancestor's, and also the ones directly behind and directly in front maybe this will lead
to a new avenue of research, maiden names and parents. These neighboring stones may belong
to collateral relatives. Family connections may not be apparent from headstone
inscriptions. e.g. At the Oden Cemetery in the same vicinity there are headstones for
Stevan Hinson, Sarah and Rufus Beam, James Whitehouse with a foot marker for Ella. Stevan is
the father of Sarah. Rufus is a sister to Ella. Will also make it easier finding the stone
- When photographing headstones take a picture of the scene
showing other landmarks so you can physically find the spot again and when
you want to direct someone to it, it might make it easier to locate the stone or if
you go back decades later and that flat stone has sunken into the ground and disappeared
from sight you or a later generation might be able to find it again.
- Headstone that were visible in the 1940s may no longer be
found. In a farmer's field we were shown the exact spot where the Mullenix Cemetery
was. No stones visible, so we probed the area and hit two marble headstones that were
completely buried. Not the ones we were after. Over the years the cattle had knocked
over the upright headstones and they became completely covered by soil and grass.
Another cemetery we found a child's small flathead stone gone but we know it was there
beside his sister's. Was there a WPA cemetery survey done in the 1930s?
- When you finally find the exact field stone which marks
the resting place of a descendant maybe go to the local funeral home and asked them if
they could make up one of the small metal signs, funeral home markers, with name, birth
date, and death date and place it beside the original stone.
- When searching for an abandon cemetery in the forest
where you have been given directions to where it is located stand back and take a good
look. If you see any trees out of proportion, by being taller than the rest, start your
search there. Loggers rarely cut trees down around a grave. Also old
cemeteries may be found on hilltops.
- Keep a nice hard covered journal with you
on these research trips so you can jot down little bits of info e.g. email
address, location, material transcribed from a courthouse or library book
etc. Over the years this will be a resource to refer back to.
- Cemeteries should be transcribed in rows, not
alphabetically as this helps to work out family relationships and makes it easier to find
a particular headstone in years to come.
- Before going to a cemetery to transcribe graves
pack a kit with clipboard, pencils, chalk, notebook, a good magnifying glass, white or rice
paper, camera and an extra roll of film or two, one gallon water, soft scrubbing brush,
collapsible shovel or a small hand spade and handi-wipes. A small cooler with a water
bottle and an apple etc. This is the minimum gear for "grave stomping".
Also note items underlined.
- Visit when the temperature is pleasant
- Protect yourself. Long pants, long
sleeved shirts and gloves, hat to avoid sun exposure. Watch out for snakes,
ticks, poison oak and ivy. Bring insect
repellant. Tuck your trousers into your socks. Wear light colored clothing so that
crawling ticks can be easily seen. Try Vaseline around the bottom of trouser legs. Do
shower as soon as you get home.
- Photograph gravestones in bright sunlight, with the sun
to the side or top of the stone at a 30 degree angle
- Mirror can be used to reflect light on any shaded
- Wash off bird manure, take soft brush and a
gallon of water. The best time to clean a headstone is when
they are still wet, after rain...
- No to man made products for Headstones!...water, water and water, nothing else.
Don't ever contemplate cleaning any headstone with a man made material! It
is a NO NO. Plain water is the only solution. Man made products will soak into a marble headstone, and years later can cause it to crumble..
- Irrelevant and disagreeable objects in background can be
eliminated by a backboard, not gray as that may blend with the headstone
- Position camera close enough to capture entire
stone, with the stone sides equal in view-finder. Avoid downward angle
- Take along a good map of the county - available at
the Clerk's Office, Courthouse for $1.50. General Highways Map
- Another way to find out where this cemetery is located is
to ask a Telephone or Power CO. lineman about any place in county and they can usually
tell you where to go
- Bring the local county cemetery book to make
notations of double headstones and detect possible transcription errors
- Bring materials along for gravestone rubbings, you never
know there might be an unusual symbol or something you cannot read that you want to
record. White paper, rubbing wax or large black crayon, masking tape, kneeling
pad. Clean stone first. Tape paper to stone so it does not move.
- To take a photograph of difficult to decipher
inscriptions apply shaving cream (it is bio-degradable) to stone face, wipe off
excess with a with a Squeegee, photograph, then with
water wash stone. Take along paper towels, plenty of water and trash
bag. Another method: Take along side walk chalk. Rub the
chalk length wise across the stone - the deep grooves are untouched and this leaves
the writing dark - the resulting contrast is amazing. Chalk is softer than the stone so
should not be abrasive to the headstone. Use a spray bottle to wash the chalk
off. Both methods are not recommended by the Association for Gravestone
Studies instead use a mirror to to direct sunlight across the face of a gravestone,
casts shadows in indentations. Or go back at a different time of day e.g. evening and see
if the angle of the sun has made a difference.
- Note direction headstones are facing?
- Does the stone have a symbol on it? Epitaph?
Significance? CSA emblem, three chain links "Odd
- Who carved the stone? Material made from? Shape of
- Transcribe cemeteries in pairs or groups. If you go
alone, take a cellular phone or tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back.
- Saving cemeteries - multiple links
- When transcribing lists e.g. census, passenger lists,
cemeteries try the double entry verification process. e.g. Two volunteers index the same
document and the two files are then matched by the database program and discrepancies are
detected and corrected.
- The Montgomery County Cemeteries books have many
errors. Most headstones errors can be placed into at least one of the following
1) The stone was transcribed incorrectly
2) The stone had incorrect information inscribed on it
3) The stone was difficult to read
- Transcriptions are an excellent way to preserve headstone
information. How many headstones will be readable in 50 years?
- Remember to look on the back of the
headstone. Sometimes there is additional information.
- Any transcription work contains some kind of
- Anyone who transcribes monumental
inscriptions from cemeteries before they completely disappear is clearly
doing a public service, not infringing anyone's privacy or copyright. In a
few decades headstones may deteriorate and many become unreadable or sink
into the ground and disappear under the turf.
- Wooden grave-markers are becoming
increasingly rare. They should be photographed. Consider coating with metallex or other wood preservative, and re-installing. If possible the
grave-marker should be re-positioned so that it is not in contact with the
ground. Painted letters which have faded away can be read by shining an
ultraviolet light onto the wood.
- Gates on cemeteries which are closed and
locked at night prohibit vehicle access and make it more difficult for
vandals. Vandals might drive in, park, smash headstones and spray them with
- An aerial photograph of the entire
cemetery, with an indicator dot showing the plot 's location should prevent
people having to walk around a cemetery trying to find a headstone.
- Often records don't tally up with burial
registers, plot registers against headstone transcriptions and database
information so a visit to the graveside is helpful check dates, spelling and
location and if there is still a headstone visible.
- The Cedar Glades area of Montgomery County became a part of Garland County
- Our early ancestors often belonged to organizations like
Masons, Woodmen of the World, etc. They could get insurance this way, without a lot of
hassle. Try contacting their headquarters for records. Archives may lose a
- Keep in mind that Arkansas did not begin
keeping death records until 1914. You might use cemetery records, church
records, newspaper files, and county records.
- Divorce records in Arkansas are in the records of the Chancery Court. These are located in the Circuit Clerk's office in each county.
A good collection of these records are at the History Commission on microfilm for most AR counties. The Mormon folks have microfilmed many chancery court records in Arkansas through about 1950. Check with your local LDS Family History Library for information about getting these records on interlibrary loan.
- Tombstones fade with time. By adding the
date when you obtained the information, you pinpoint a time when it was
still available at a particular location.
- Errors were common, but less common in
more recent times when you compare burial records with headstone
inscriptions. Not only dates, but spellings and particularly ages are wrong.
Age sometimes differs by as much as 10 years between headstone and burial
record. Maybe one member of the family instructed the undertaker, while a
different person gave details to the stone mason. Or perhaps the stonemason
couldn't read his own writing?? As genealogists we can only record the
differences we find, we cannot brand one version as "correct." The staff at
the Vital Statistics Office are not immune to error either. Do not alter
records when provided with evidence of error, but merely record this new
version of the fact. The original version should still be there in behind,
but obviously only one version can show in the on-line database. Newspaper
notices useful, because the date of publication will be correct. Thus the
person is very unlikely to still be alive after the date when the death
notice appeared in a paper.
- Cluster genealogy involves search beyond
your direct line to include your ancestors brothers and sisters, aunts,
uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends. Even if your family appears to be
lacking in genealogist, perhaps theirs are not. Neighours may actually turn
out to be relatives. That is my what husband found out when he moved to
Oden, some of his class mates and teachers were kin and he didn't know it
until years later.
"The move was the best thing in
the world. We sorted out all the things tucked away in corners which had been
Brick Wall Breaks
- I couldn't find the death cert. for Great Aunt Gracie
because she is was still alive at 102
- Watch out for misspellings on marriage records e.g. Friar
instead of Fryar
- Immovable. Put it away and start on another family line,
then later have another look and re-examine
- Sometimes death certificates and headstones don't exist -
find the probate record
- Ask for help and post queries. Network
- Go on a letter writing spree i.e. queries, archives,
museums, libraries, newspapers, mailing lists and guest
- Hold a cousin family reunion -ask them to
bring family letters, bible, diaries and photographs
- Make a good guess to move further back e.g.
work out an
age by marriage and census records
- Ministers name on the marriage license may be a relative
and lead to church records
- Any time your ancestor can't be found in an index or by
somebody else, check the record yourself. For years I couldn't find a marriage record
as someone else had done the courthouse lookup for me. It was right where it was suppose
- Reading history might lead to a few more research
- Think about who, where, when and what
when you hit a blank wall.
Who = Many people used different names at different times. Do you have the
Where = Make sense of the place they came from. What county, parish?
When = Make sensible guesses about when an event may have happened but be
prepared to extend your search.
e.g. Guessing a couple married before the first child was conceived. Try
four months before the birth!
What = What kind of person are you looking for? Occupation, status etc. will
affect the type of records that might mention them.
to my Last Will and Testament
To my spouse, children, guardian, administrator and/or executor:
Upon my demise it is requested that you DO NOT dispose of any or all of my genealogical records, both those prepared personally by me and those records prepared by others which may be in my possession, including but not limited to books, files, notebooks or computer programs for a period of two years. During this time period, please attempt to identify one or more persons who would be willing to take custody of the said materials and the responsibility of maintaining and continuing the family histories. [If you know whom within your family or friends are likely candidates to accept these materials, please add the following at this point: "I suggest that the persons contacted regarding the assumption of the custody of these items include but not be limited to" and then list the names of those individuals at this point, with their addresses and telephone numbers if known]
In the event you do no find anyone to accept these materials, please contact the various genealogical organisations that I have been a member of and determine if they will accept some parts or all of my genealogical materials. [List of organisations, addresses and phone numbers at bottom; include local chapters, with their addresses, phone numbers and contact persons if available as well as state/national contact information and addresses]
Please remember that my genealogical endeavours consumed a great deal of time, travel, and money. Therefore it is my desire that the products of these endeavours be allowed to continue in a manner that will make them available to others in the future.
Signature _____________________________ Date _______________
Witness ____________________________ Date _______________
Witness ____________________________ Date _______________
Co. ArkansasGenWeb Project
Family history is more than
genealogy, who beget who. It is an expedition through dates and events of your families
history and the stories of ordinary people who lived together through extraordinary times.
Together, family tree by family tree, family historians are rewriting history. The first
step in any search is to interview the living - before you go grave stomping. When you're
searching for people, you look for flesh and blood. Talk to your great aunts and uncles.
Ask comprehensive questions and write down all. Educated guess work can point you in
the right direction. The pieces fall together providing a picture of the past.