When Disaster Strikes

Today I was dabbling around in records on yet another free genealogy research source  The Digital Public Library of America

One of the things I noticed about the records I was finding for the time and area I was searching was that many of the records had a note at the bottom indicating “the records survived the 1911 State Capitol fire.”

That sent me off to research the 1911 State Capitol fire in Missouri, which led me to, yet another free resource.  GenDisasters  is a free database of information that allows researchers to learn what events may have affected ancestor’s lives.

After a quick look at GenDisasters.com, I locate an article about a lightning strike in February 1911. Lightning struck the Capitol building in Jefferson City, Missouri about 8 pm on February 5, 1911 and a fiery inferno burned down the entire Capitol building including a great deal of the historical records held in the building.

My own ancestors passed through this region but briefly. They arrived around from Tennessee sometime during the 1880’s and most of my own line left the region for other areas by the 1930’s. Living in a distant part of the country local disasters such as this fire were not a part of my general knowledge. I have to concede that it is possible that some of the records I need and cannot find may have burned in that fire and consider that in my research going forward.

2 replies »

  1. I never knew the Missouri State Capitol Building burnt down in 1911! My mother’s paternal family first arrived in Cole County, Missouri in the mid-1850s. I wonder if any of their records were affected by the fire?

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    • I was in the same boat. I had no idea it had burned down. I haven’t located a list of what records they actually lost in the fire at this point but I hope it exists somewhere. I have a GGG Grandfather who died sometime between 1900 and 1910 in the Ripley County area and still cannot locate a death record or grave for him anywhere. I’m still hunting and hoping it is not a pile of ashes in Jefferson City.

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