First Families of Henry County

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At the June 1989 meeting of the Henry County Genealogical Society the First Families committee presented Requirements for Membership and Rules of Evidence for approval by the general membership. Those present at the meeting accepted the papers presented. If you are interested in becoming a member of First Families of Henry County please read the following rules carefully and submit proper papers to the committee.

Application Form Application Form Request for Information

Over 100 submitters have proven ties to 563 early Henry Countians and have been awarded Gold or Silver status through the Henry County First Families program. These ancestors are available now with date of birth, death date, marriage date, and spouse. Click HERE or on the image to the left to see a list of those names.


The prime objectives of The First Families of Henry County are to identify and honor the memory of the earliest pioneers of Henry County and to
show the proved pioneer’s lasting mark on the county they helped develop, by honoring their descendents.

The research and work necessary to discovering the pioneers and their descendents is intended to foster and encourage increasing interest in the
people who contributed in any way – great or small – to establishing the County of Henry, and in Henry County customs, culture, genealogy and history.


Only members of the Henry County Genealogical Society may apply for membership in The First Families of Henry County (FFH). Applicants in the First Families of Henry County must complete an FFH application form, showing their Henry County pioneer ancestor(s). Applicants must list their own descent from these pioneer ancestor(s) and prove their descent and the pioneer ancestor(s) settlement in what is now the County of Henry, before the appropriate date(s) (see below).

The First Families of Henry County application must be accompanied by clear, readable copies of all documents necessary to:

  1. prove the pioneer’s settlement(s) in Henry County before December 31, 1870, to be considered as a Gold member and/or before December 31, 1885, to be considered as a Silver member;
  2. prove each step of descent from the pioneer(s) to the applying Henry County Genealogical Society member.

Proof may not be omitted for any step.

These document copies must be either:

  1. copy­machine, photostat, photo of the original document; or
  2. exact, typed, or hand­printed copies of the original document, certified as “True Copies” by a courthouse official, genealogical librarian, or other official, with the certifier’s signature and title.

All proof documents must show their source. Reference alone to a document is not enough.

Original applications for membership in the First Families of Henry County must be accompanied by a $10.00 application fee, which covers as many pioneer ancestors who settled in Henry County before the appropriate date. The applicant can prove these ancestors either at the time of his original application, or later.

All applications must be in by April 30 of the current year for review by the committee.

When further proof is requested, the application shall remain inactive until the requested further proof is filed with the FFH Committee to reactivate the application.

The final step in the FFH application is presentation by the FFH Committee to the Henry County Genealogical Society’s current President for acceptance and signature. The awards will be given out at the November meeting if the application is approved and accepted.

Mail correspondence and documentation to:

Henry County Genealogical Society
Attn: First Families of Henry County
P.O. Box 231
Deshler, Ohio 43516

Please remember: a statement is not necessarily true just because it is in print.

The application, information, and all supporting documents and data become the property of the Henry County Genealogical Society.


The rules of evidence applying to membership in The First Families of Henry County, are listed below. These rules are the standards by which all First Families of Henry County proof is judged.

Basic Rules of Evidence

  1. Primary or collateral evidence from vital statistics, courthouse or other government records, church or school records, etc., are considered usually to be beyond a doubt.
  2. Secondary evidence, such as census records, newspaper clippings, old letters, Bible records, county histories, published biographies or other family records
    contemporary to the facts reported, are considered almost as authentic. Title page and copyright page are a must when appropriate.
  3. Circumstantial evidence, implied facts, or hearsay are not considered proof, unless backed up by primary or secondary evidence.
  4. Oral, written, or published family traditions are often wrong, and are NOT accepted as proof.

Specific Rules of Evidence

  1. Printed or manuscript genealogies; genealogical records; or genealogical compilations; family group sheets; ancestral or descendant charts; family reunion records; or like records, including unsupported information from a professional or amateur genealogist, are not considered as proof. This includes any of these types of records printed in any genealogical, historical or other type of publication.
  2. Lineage papers, accepted or unaccepted, from other patriotic or hereditary societies, by themselves are not considered proof. The document copies that were used to prove the lineage might be considered proof for FFH if they follow the Rules of Evidence.
  3. Material authored by the applicant, or a member of his family cannot be considered as proof.
  4. Documents used as proof must, either by themselves, or in conjunction with other acceptable documents, actually state the fact to be proved. If the document merely implies the fact, it is not to be considered proof. An example is the expression “Heirs” or “Heirs-at-Law” used in some estates. This indicated different things in different states, and at different times, and is not necessarily a proof of direct descent. If these statements are to be used as proof of direct descent, the applicant must include with his application a copy of the inheritance law of the state, showing that, at the year the proving document was dated, it was proof of direct descent “in the blood line,” and must also include proof that the testator had no will, and had at least one child. Ohio’s laws of inheritance have changed many times through its history, and what was true during one period, may not have been true at another. Other examples of implied evidence which are not acceptable as proof, are:
    1. Census records that show the name of the head of the family only, with “numbers” by age grouping to represent the other residents in the household. These unnamed persons are NOT proved as children or wife of the family head, nor as residents, no matter how well they match other records. Next-door or close neighbors on a census or tax record are not proved as related merely by their closeness on the census or tax records, or by similarity of names.
    2. A father is not proved as being in the area just because his child was born there. The birth proves only that the mother was certainly there on the birth date!
    3. Owning the same land as an earlier owner does not necessarily prove blood descent by the same name, whether the land was received by inheritance or by purchase.
  5. Documents written or printed in a foreign language must be accompanied by a translation into English, and the translation certified as a “True Translation” by the translator, who must not be the applicant.
  6. The ancestor(s) proved in Henry County before the appropriate date must be in direct line back from the paternal or maternal ancestors of the applicant. “Collateral descent” as sometimes used recently in other hereditary organizations is not descent at all, but relationship to a brother, sister or even cousin of a direct ancestor and is not an allowed line for The First Families of Henry County, Ohio.
  7. All proof documents must indicate their source. Bible records, diaries and other book proofs must be submitted with their title page, showing the publication date and owner or writer’s name. Newspaper clippings must be identified by the name of the newspaper.
  8. Typed, hand-written or printed copies of original documents, to be considered as proof, must be certified as a “True Copy” by a courthouse or other official, notary public, librarian, etc. An applicant or member of his family cannot certify his own copies as true! If copy machine or photo copies of an original document show changes or corrections to the original document, those changes must be verified and signed as “True Copies” by the same type of unbiased official.
  9. If more than two ancestral lines are to be submitted, an ancestral chart must be included to show the inter-connected relationships, and ease the burden of the reviewer, trying to puzzle it out.
  10. Photographs of tombstones usually prove only birth and death dates. However, sometimes relationships are shown and are usually considered good proof. Printed compilations of cemetery inscriptions are usually accepted as proof, unless it is obvious or known that the compiler has added information which doesn’t appear on the tombstone.


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