Just a couple of months ago, in honor of our annual Boone Day celebration, KHS hosted an amazing family history event called Kentucky Ancestors Town Hall. For those of you who missed out on the energy and excitement provided by over 200 attendees, you’ll want to pay close attention to this report as plans are in the works to bring back this event next year!
The planning for Town Hall began over a year ago, with concept and guest host availability. Did we mention that D. Joshua Taylor from PBS’ Genealogy Roadshow was our guest host this year? He did an amazing job and taught us a lot about flow during the reveals. Our family history reveals were based on Kentucky family history mysteries, which we called for in October of 2016. Over 111 families submitted their most challenging brick walls for our genealogists to bust through – and bust through we did! After reviewing these entries, we narrowed down our focus to three families: One from the Hickman/Fuller County area, another from the Maysville/Mason County area, and the third from the Breathitt/Clay County areas. After many months of research, we invited the families here to KHS so they could be filmed as Josh revealed the findings of the genealogists. All reveals were filmed before a live studio audience – and the gasps were audible when the most intriguing segments were revealed!
As for the reveal segments, they told shortened versions of the family stories since we really couldn’t fit all of the research into a few minutes. The work that went into putting these stories together took most of the previous year with lots of help from several folks. We researched here in the KHS library, made many trips to KDLA for court records (Thanks, Walter!) and even had a researcher on the ground in Washington D.C. at the National Archives. For further assistance, we hired an intern, University of Kentucky graduate student Bill Burchfield. He was assigned many projects, from early elimination round investigation, to pulling additional newspapers and maps from UK’s collection. As much as the work consumed us, we all had an extraordinary time, and would love to have the opportunity to take on this challenge again for next year!