the grumpy genealogist

In 2011, I put together a family history on my wife's Bezold family, and donated a copy to the Campbell County Historical and Genealogical Society in 2012. I try to do at least one book per year on a different family branch, and my books always include my email with a request for additions and corrections.

A society member contacted me a couple weeks ago with a correction. A great-great uncle, who moved to Chicago, had a son of the same name, and my book showed their death dates reversed. I thanked her, and she responded with some real genealogical gold. Unbeknown to me, the society has an oral history project. She interviewed Arnold Bezold about his honey business in 2009, and also videotaped his stories of the old general store. In addition, the historical society runs an essay contest each year, and a couple essays have been written about the Bezold store.

I visited the society 5 or 6 times last year. They have a large collection that fills the 2nd floor of the old courthouse, but no catalog of their holdings. It's run by a few volunteers, and I'd like to help out more, but they're 30 minutes away and open at inconvenient hours: Tuesdays 10-5, Thursday 10-2, and Saturday 10-2. Even then, you have to call first to be sure they're open. The next Saturday I went and got the DVD that was waiting for me. (The essays were unavailable as a volunteer has them at home, compiling a book to be published by the society.) The video lasted 55 minutes with Arnold talking about his bees, then the 100-year history of the store, then a tour of his hives and equipment, and finally a tour inside the store. He even did a quick flip through his old photo album. Great stuff!

One photo, of an ambulance and its driver, led me to another story. Arnold said his uncle was burned in a fire in Cincinnati, and the ambulance brought him home from the hospital. I located an interesting news article telling me it was Uncle Joe, and how Uncle Dom helped save his life.

Seeing the interview and learning of the essays, I realized that this little store had a greater impact on the area than I first imagined. So I did some searching to see if other such remembrances existed. I learned about another interview with Arnold, from a blog by a local college student. She created a 10-minute documentary on the Bezold store in 2011, as an upper-level history class assignment.

Took me a while to track down this second video (it was on her YouTube channel with no identifying keywords), It looked very professional, like you’d see on TV, but it had a few mistakes. There was a narrated intro about Frank’s immigrant parents, with some family group sheets printed from my website (which is fine by me). But while talking about specific individuals, they repeatedly showed photos of the wrong people (4 or 5 times). Aside from that, it was wonderfully done.

Wanting to make copies of these treasures for the family, I felt the need to edit both videos. The first was 55 minutes long, and I split it into two chapters. They came out almost even, with 27 minutes on the general store and 28 minutes on beekeeping. The store interviews took place inside and behind the building, so I added some still shots of the storefront at the beginning. Correcting the photo order in the documentary video was a bit challenging, as they all transitioned into each other. I also learned from the videos that old Frank played the fiddle, so I was a bit disappointed that both chose banjo background music at the beginning and end, but I left it as is.

I burned 6 DVDs for the immediate family with LightScribe labels. This was my first experience with the laser-etching process, and it took longer than I expected – about 15 minutes each. So I made 10 more regular DVDs simply labeled with marker, for my father-in-law to give to his siblings and cousins. Hopefully they will circulate to the younger generations, and bring new life to the old country store.


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"If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance." - George Bernard Shaw