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A County Historian's Talk-Show Moment

Steve JacksonWe had one of those special moments recently at the Madison County Historical Society when you know that something extraordinary has happened. A man from Michigan arrived at the society seeking information. He had read an article in the Herald Bulletin newspaper about the Madison County Children’s Home records that were located at the society. He and his brothers and sisters had been residents at the home in the 1940s, and he wanted to see what we had regarding himself and his siblings.

The records had been property of the county since 1885 and were housed at the Madison County Youth Center, the former location of the Calvin A. Bronnenberg Children’s Home. In November 2008, I had contacted the center about the records. During the conversation, I'd asked if the historical society could take possession of them. I told them my plans were to make them available to the public. Permission was granted, with certain stipulations, and in January 2009, we acquired them.

For the next six months, two society volunteers were busy indexing the 4,501 records in the collection. I made an announcement in the newspaper in July, and we were immediately inundated with visitors and inquiries.

One of the visitors was a man from Montana. He traveled to Anderson where he spent a week with us going over his records and visiting sites he recalled when he lived here. As part of our process, I record the names and pertinent information about those who view the records – a process that proved beneficial just one week later.

To my amazement, the man from Michigan was seeking information about the same family the man from Montana had been looking at the week before. They were brothers. They had not seen each other in years and had lost contact. i made a phone call from my office to Montana, and the brothers were reunited.

This is just one of several heartwarming stories I have encountered since acquiring these valuable records from the past.

Stephen T. Jackson
Madison County Historian