This last week saw the loss of two of the area's more noted genealogists & historians, Ann Burton of Decatur and Ken Hartman of Dowagiac. Both had made their mark and were known for their devotion to the preservation of family and local history. Both had donated 100's of hours not only here in the Local History department, but in a variety of other ways.
Along with many other interests, Ann had been a lifelong genealogist, a hobby/passion that she and her husband shared all of the years since his retirement from the Armed Forces. Together they formed their own publishing company based out of their home in Decatur, Glyndwr Resources, under which they published family histories and local records compilations.
Ann, along with Conrad, were founding members of the Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society in 1987. She served in many capacities in the society's early years including as research chairman, librarian, and participated in several group cemetery walks.
Some of the written works include Michigan Quakers : abstracts of fifteen meetings of the Society of Friends, 1831-1960, The Gard Family Papers, 1815-1878, and select cemetery transcriptions for Cass & Van Buren County. For more than a couple of decades, she published a family history one-name study journal, Craig-Links.
Ann was a a meticulous researcher and a literal "Friend of the Library." Her time spent in the library, whether in the Local History Collection or helping with the annual Friends of the Library book sale, has been appreciated by many.
I first got to know Ken when he was invited to make a presentation regarding Cass County rural schools at a Monday night meeting of the Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society. During that first night, it was evident to us all that Ken was passionate about preserving local history. For this project, he had plotted out all
of the known schools on a county map, numbered them and created a corresponding list. We now have this map along with other information he collected in the Bess Britton Michigan One-Room Schoolhouse Collection.
Ken later spent Wednesdays volunteering in the Local History Department of the Van Buren District Library where he fully enjoyed assisting visiting researchers in locating materials for their family histories.
Both Ken and his wife Mable have been big supporters of the Local History Department, donating their time and expertise in working with others and on special projects. Ken was fun to talk to and energetic, something that was somewhat catching. He will be missed.