Zion Roots library further expanded - Perryville News: News

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Zion Roots library further expanded

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Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 2:14 pm

It’s hard to improve upon a good thing, but the people at the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum in Altenburg were hard at work last week doing just that.
The museum is home to a modern-day research library that includes the Zion Roots Research Project, installed for the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society by Georgia native Ken Craft. The project enables descendants from the original Zion immigration to trace their family roots back to the German Parish their descendants came from. The library includes surname resources, German hometown data, parish records, and extensive historical maps of Germany.
And that map collection is now more extensive than ever thanks to the diligent research of Craft and several others who have made researching German heritage easier.
Earlier this month, the Big School Gallery at the museum was full of makeshift tables and every available flat surface was covered with maps, both modern day and historical, some dating back to the mid 1800s depicting Hanover, Germany, the root location  of what would be considered a secondary wave of German immigration to Perry County.
The maps will be preserved for those who come in looking for an exact geographical location of their descendants.
“We developed spread sheets, that take an immigrants surname, gotten from ship manifests, and other places,” Craft said. “We then can trace them all the way back to the town and church they attended in Germany. With that information, we are able to give an exact physical location on the map where in Germany they lived.”
Despite what many think, even through the war torn years Germany suffered during World War I and World War II, many church parish records were preserved.
“These documents were very important to them, too,” Craft said. “So they went to great length to protect them, by hiding them in caves and other places.”
Museum curator Carla Jordan said the information collected by Craft and others like Fred Eggers, is invaluable.
“Should a person want to travel to Germany to see where their ancestors came from, knowing exactly where to go is priceless,” she said. “Traveling overseas can be expensive, and tourist may be saddled with a language barrier, making finding the information they are looking for difficult to locate, especially if they are in the wrong place. The Hanover map project helps streamline the process.”
Craft credits the volunteers at the Lutheran Heritage Museum with continuing the project he started so many years ago.
“It doesn’t do any good to have all this information if we can’t pass it along to those who need it,” Craft said. “And the people here that have educated themselves, and spent countless hours researching and working to help people with their questions and genealogy searches.”
The Zion Roots project began in earnest in 2008 while preparing for a visit of Wilfred Peehler and his daughter from Germany for a conference.
“While here, he started the translation of Pastor Labor’s announcement book,” Craft said. “Back then the library only had one small bookcase. Today the library has eight book cases with overflow into a second room known as the map room.”
Jordan said over the years the library has grown to rival any national archive research library. And all the information available at the library is provided free of charge.
The Lutheran Heritage Center and the Zion Roots Research Library are both open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To learn more about the digitizing project, call the center at (573) 824-6070.

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