|Area genealogy expert retiring to Colorado|
|January 31, 2013 Doug Harris|
Photo by Doug Harris/Gering Citizen - Carole Tucker enjoyed her retirement party and tea that was hosted by the West Nebraska Family Research and History Center last weekend. Tucker has been involved with genealogical research in the Valley for over 40 years. “She has a treasure of knowledge about our local history,” center director Floyd Smith said. “Carole has given decades of service to families in our community and from around the world.”
Citing health reasons and a desire to be closer to family, local historian Carole Tucker has decided to move to Colorado. After a lifetime of volunteer service to residents in the region Tucker said it was time to retire. “I’m moving to Brighton, Colorado to be near my daughter Barb (and Ken) Eleson.” Having volunteered for so many years Tucker shared many fond memories of meeting area families and helping them with learn more about themselves.
“I got started doing family research in the mid-’70s when I joined the Rebecca Winter’s Genealogy Society,” Tucker said. “I’ve been active with historical research ever since.”
Tucker volunteered from 1987 to 2004 at the Mormon Church Family History Center before co-founding the West Nebraska Family Research and History Center with director Floyd Smith.
“People think they can get everything on the Internet these days,” Tucker said, “but there are so many other sources available. We are able to order films from Salt Lake City and get about anything. Having access to original parish records is very helpful in tracking down someone’s ancestry.”
Tucker said she inherited her interest in family research from her father Charlie Jensen. “I was inspired by my father,” she said. “My dad had such a love for family and he always loved the old-timers in Banner County. The Jensen family got their start out by Harrisburg in 1886. They were of Danish, Swedish, German and Irish stock. Dad’s mother was full blood Irish. They lived in a dug-out their first year and in the second year they dug a well.”
Tucker said while she was born in Scottsbluff she lived most of her life in Banner County ‘out west of Harrisburg.’
“It is so gratifying when you can help a family find something,” Tucker said. “I like it when you can give them that clue to help them so they can trace their family history. I’ve met so many people over the years. Sometimes I’ve even met new cousins who wrote for help.”
The research center, in Scottsbluff, opened in 2003 and since that time has served hundreds of people seeking to learn more about their personal history. In addition to their extensive library and photograph collection they have micro-film machines and several computers. All of this is available to the public.
Tucker said uncovering new clues and useful historical material comes from myriad and sometimes unexpected sources. “We use old census records and archive newspaper obituaries but once in a while something rare comes along,” she said. “We got a case of old records in a bag from the Bid It Bob auction house not too long ago. It was full of names and dates. I traced it to Kentucky and found many families that ended up in Peru, Neb. I tracked it all down. That was one of the more interesting things I did recently.”
For her own family history Tucker said she has been able to go back as far as the 1600s. “Records show I had family in Denmark in 1820,” she said, “but the farthest I have been able to go back is to 1666 when a German relation married a Danish lady. He was a major in the Danish army but was born in Germany. My Swedish side has also been traced back to the 1600s but in that case someone else did the research and shared it with me.”
Tucker was married to Walter Tucker and they had four daughters. “Walter passed away in 2005 and he was always so supportive of my work,” Tucker said. “My husband’s line goes back to colonial America so it was easier to get information. I lost one of my daughters but the other three are here in Scottsbluff helping me with my move. My family has always been supportive of my interest.”
Tucker noted while none of her daughters seem to share her passion for genealogy she has a granddaughter in Denver who has inherited the history gene. “One of my granddaughters is very interested,” she said. “She likes to tour the old cemeteries and look at the names and markers. This is something I encourage. I plan to pass this along to her. I want her to carry this legacy.”
Research center volunteers Allen and Ruth Vance were among the several well-wishers who attended Tuckers’ party. “We want to wish her good luck and hope she enjoys being near her family,” Allen Vance said. “We hope she enjoys her new adventure.”
Vance pointed out the many stacks of books and boxes that surrounded the party table. “We have books from almost every county in Nebraska,” he said. “We have county history books, family histories, and all sorts of pioneer stories from the Old West. Most of the books are donated or we sometimes buy one over the Internet.”
Vance said the center library compiles old information from almost any source imaginable. “We have old newsletters from the Rebecca Winters Genealogy group and we’ve had them bound into books. We collect old high school annuals and yearbooks. Recently we got a bunch of old Lyman newspapers. We recently got a set of photographic negatives from the 1920s. It should be interesting going through those.”
Vance noted collecting obituaries is vital to preserve family history. “My main job here is to compile and organize obituaries,” he said. “We have four boxes of old Gering Courier’s dating from 1887 to the 1950s. We have other local newspapers as well. We get this material set up in the library and put it all on the computer too. The research we do is available to anyone at no cost.”
Center director Floyd Smith said, “This is a place where people can come to learn about their ancestry. We operate on donations only and have an all-volunteer staff. If you have an interest in genealogy this is the place to come ask questions.”
Smith, who is a railroad engineer, said genealogy was a hobby and a lifelong interest. “When I first started thinking about making a genealogy library everyone I talked to about this said ‘call Carole Tucker.’ She has supported me from day one. I was collecting books and they were taking up too much space. So I bought and remodeled this building. Carole and I combined our collection and that is how we got our start. Congressman Tom Osborne was here to cut the ribbon for our ‘Carole Tucker Reading Room.’ Carole has so much information. She is a force to be reckoned with regarding our local history. She will be missed. She has been such an important resource for us. I’ll probably continue to call her and pick her brain on things that come up.”
Smith said every Latter Day Saints (LDS) church has internal family history centers but there is a big library in Salt Lake City. “We are an affiliate of the LDS library,” Smith said. “We can now borrow directly from them. This was a big coup for us to gain access to all that information. Carole used to volunteer at the Mormon Church and was very helpful in getting this important link established.”
Smith noted the center is open Monday to Saturday from 9 to 4, “Or when it gets dark,” he added. “This is all volunteer and all free,” Smith said. “We have a donation bucket if people want to contribute. All are welcome. We’re always looking for volunteers and have lots of different projects.”
The West Nebraska Family Research and History Center is located at 1602 Avenue A in Scottsbluff.