Don’t forget the farm directories
So The Legal Genealogist will be headed off this coming weekend to Overland Park, Kansas, for the 2018 Annual Seminar of the Johnson County Genealogical Society.
We’re going to explore a range of topics — everything from trying to find those elusive women in our families to using DNA to fill the holes left when a courthouse burns.
So I’ll be doing my usual bit this week looking at Kansas sources and Kansas statutes to make sure I’m as familiar with them as I can be.
Which led me to be reminded of a resource I’ve seen in the past, but not used as much as I should.
You see, it’s easy to find and use the city directories for places like Kansas City (whether Kansas City, Kansas, or Kansas City, Missouri).
But we don’t even remember some of the time to look for the directories of folks who lived out in the country.
The farm directories.
And they do exist, in particular, for Johnson County, Kansas.
Oh, and Leavenworth County, Kansas.
And Wyandotte County, Kansas.
And a whole bunch of other Kansas counties if you’ll look for them.
Many of these are held in hard copy today by the Kansas Historical Society (KHS) and they range from as early as 1920 to as late as 2010. You can find a list of just what the KHS has by going to the Kansas Telephone and City Directories page of the KHS website and, down at the bottom, doing a search for directories with the word “farm” in the title. (I came up with six pages of results that way.)
Now, if you’d like to, you can change the type of search to microfilm available for interlibrary loan only and… well… let’s just say that going from six pages of results to a single 1948 directory can be disappointing.
But fear not… it’s still possible to review some of these at 3 a.m. in your bunny slippers. Because some of these been digitized in partnership with Ancestry. Anyone with a Kansas Driver’s License can log in for free through the KHS Ancestry portal, and those of us who subscribe can find them through the “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995” collection at Ancestry.
You can do the usual searches in that collection, or you can browse the collection on the right hand side using dropdown menus for State, City or County, and Year.
For Johnson County, for example, there are two farm directories that have been digitized: for 1929 and for 1950. In the 1929 directory, you can find everything from a list of officials of the county farm bureau to information about diseases of chickens. And there are some great charts about the cost of agricultural production for that time.
For genealogical purposes, what you get is demographic information: which farmers in Aubry Township owned their land and which ones were renters? Who were the dairy farmers, and who were the cattle farmers, and exactly what kind of livestock did they raise? There’s even a separate list of rabbit breeders for the county.
You’ll get in-depth information about the rural folks in 10 Johnson County townships: Aubry; Gardner; Lexington; McCamish; Mission; Monticello; Olathe; Oxford; Shawnee; and Spring Hill. And it’s information you may not be able to find anywhere else.
Farm directories for our rural folks (and, of course, not just from Kansas).
Take a look.