31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 27

31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 27

I’m taking Amy Crow’s challenge for 31 Days to Better Genealogy and blog Amy’s questions, with my answers; I plan to make one blog post, adding daily. Hopefully by the end of the 31 days, I will learn how to better solve some of my genealogy questions. If you haven’t signed up yet, just click on the link below… never too late to catch up!

31 Days to Better Genealogy by Amy Johnson Crow gives you practical steps to make your research more productive. Whether you are just beginning to climb your family tree or have been doing this for years, you can adapt the tips and methods in 31 Days to Better Genealogy to suit your needs.


Day 27 – Explore Your Local Library

Today would have been a perfect day to explore my local library, as the weather this morning first started off as snow flakes, then turned blizzard looking, before turning to a misty rain for the rest of the day. Perfect day for a library exploration! Having the internet at my disposal at home… kind of makes you want to stay home in your comfy pj’s and research – where your papers are always at your fingertips…. for the most part.

I will be planning a visit soon to a library locally – maybe I can catch a genealogical society speaking engagement. If only I lived in the area where I need to research, then that would probably encourage me more to attend. I am a transplanted Southerner in Yankee land – researching Johnny Rebel.

As Amy mentioned, there are items that often hide in plain site. How many times have you looked for something at home – and in the end – it was right under your nose? So “yes” Amy, there just might be something hiding at my local library.

In as much as I mostly search my Southern roots, but live in a Northern state… my first thoughts are “how could there possibly be any Southern finds for me?”

Amy’s Library Suggestions:

Databases: Many libraries have subscription services to paid sites like Ancestry, Fold 3, newspaper subscriptions and other genealogy databases. If you don’t have them at home, it’s a great place to take advantage of.

Unique Collections: What is unique in your area? In our area it was the Savin Rock Amusement Park in West Haven, Connecticut.

My To Do: Explore the local libraries in my area to find genealogy of interest for my research or possibly a genealogy program to attend.

In as I could not get to the local library today, I decided to write on other times I have gone to research the Savin Rock Amusement Park. The library in West Haven, CT. has many photos, newspaper clippings and books on this park, and I’ve spent several afternoons making copies of newspaper articles on the park, the city and the local speedway. I am very involved in several local Facebook groups on West Haven and Savin Rock and always looking for something new to contribute.



A little history on Savin Rock Amusement Park:
The park opened in the early 1870’s under the name White City… so-called because of the many lights illuminating the area attractions. Huge hotels along the beach area attracted the elite from far away – this was in the time of travel with carriages – no cars.

In 1903, carnival rides were added, along with a mile-long midway offering everything from cotton candy, frozen custard and their famous split hot dogs. Just mention Jimmy’s and you’ll hear people immediately talk about how good those dogs were.

By 1919, the name permanently changed from White City to Savin Rock Amusement Park and was attracting over 1.2 millions visitors a year – which often caused traffic problems in this small town of West Haven by the beach.

One of the most remembered attractions was the “Laughing Lady”…. which you either loved or you were deathly afraid of – that cackling laugh echoed throughout the park. It was my husband’s grandmothers’ favorite attraction – she always asked her husband to park the car nearby so she could sit and listen to that laugh.

There was something for everyone there – and the West Haven Speedway racing oval was quite the popular Saturday-Nite attraction. It was one of the favorite hot spots of my husband as a young boy – hopping the fence to watch his favorite uncle, Johnny “King Cambo” Cambino. He was the local home boy and quite the favorite of the track – winning more than his share of racing purses.


The famous THUNDERBOLT over the water

The great Hurricane of 1938 took its toll on the beach midway and destroyed its two large roller coasters. The Thunderbolt coaster took you speeding out over the water and it was left demolished – its wooden planks smashed all over the boardwalk. There were plans to rebuild and enlarge the park, but by the 1960’s, industry and residential had grown around the park and was slowly squeezing it out. Its popularity was dwindling and the park finally closed its doors in 1966.

In as much as you heard how they wanted it gone, today you hear just the opposite when the topic of Savin Rock comes up – people remember their good times – and wish they could go back – if even only for one day.

I didn’t come to this area until I married in 1971 – Savin Rock was gone – and there were very few remnants left for me to see. The memories are still here, and as much as I have heard the stories over and over in my husband’s family – it often makes me feel like I really was there!

Thank You Amy for reminding me to research the local library today as I truly enjoyed sharing a little history on the Savin Rock Amusement Park in West Haven Connecticut that I learned from previous library excursions.


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© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved


About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
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