University of Cincinnati Libraries Digitized Historical Records
Thank goodness some orphanage and orphan asylum records have been saved and preserved and thank the University of Cincinnati for the accessiblity of those from the Cincinnati House of Refuge. The Little Orphan Annie and Oliver Twist stories strike cold in the heart of researchers, the dreaded deadend.
The Cincinnati House of Refuge Registers have been digitized by the University of Cincinnati Libraries in the Digital Resource Commons and are available for reading in the Historical Records section along with the Cincinnati Births and Deaths 1865-1911 and the Civil War Exemptions for Hamilton Co., Ohio. Like all pre-state collected birth records, these can be invaluable, but like all digitized records, you need to dig a little deeper, past the indexing, to get those most out of the records. Many cities as large as Cincinnati kept records before the state mandated county-wide collections, so there are Cincinnati records before the state required those records be kept in Hamilton Co.
Cincinnati House of Refuge Register
Here is the original register’s index, Volume 1, page 162 for the surnames beginning with Z.
Jos. Zech alias John Benedict is about half way down the page.
A transcription follows:
Further information on the commitment page:
Volume 4 of the House of Refuge shows on the 9th day of January 1882 Geo. Bennedict and John Benedict alias Jos. Zech were taken before the Police Court and commited for being without a suitable home.
In the combined digitized and transcription pages, there is more information than just the digitized index because there is a verso (another page of the commitment register with more information not easily noticed upon first glance) and John Benedit had an alias which might break open a family search. The indexer believed the surname was Rennedick instead of Benedict which would confound many a search. The addition of an age and home would give someone the chance of finding either of these two boys in the federal population census in Chicago in 1870 or Cincinnati or Chicago in 1880. Indexers see things differently, I read Daniel Brennan as the second name on the page and that made me certain the capital B in Brennan was the same as the capital B in Benedict. The indexer read Brennan as Bresnan and Benedict as Rennedick. The point is not to show up an indexer for making mistakes, but to realize how a record was created, indexed, digitized and then indexed again.