Free class to teach Daytonians how to uncover their home’s mysteries

If you’ve ever wondered if your home was haunted, if treasure is buried beneath the floorboards or if a long-gone Dayton celebrity once lived there, the Dayton Metro Library has a program you don’t want to miss.

OK — maybe you won’t learn about hidden treasures, but the “I Think My House is Haunted: Historic Property Research Basics” program at Dayton Metro Library Southeast Branch, 21 Watervliet Ave. in Dayton, is an excellent and free tool teaching participants how to uncover their home’s history.

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The program, taking place on Saturday, Jan. 29 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., will be led by Bill Stolz, assistant branch manager. To register for the event and to receive a reminder, visit

Last year, Stolz presented the program to more than 50 people at the Ohio Library Council Conference. This iteration of the presentation will be geared toward any adults who are interested, including beginners.

The program will cover the basic steps of historic house research “and share a variety of local, state and national resources available in print and online,” according to the event’s website. Stolz will also discuss how to locate and use library resources, property records, government records, maps and other tools to solve those historical home mysteries.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize (that) city and county records belong to all of us,” Stolz said. “(So,) until somebody tells you where to go and how to do, you don’t think you can (just) drive to the county office and say, ‘Hey, I’m researching my home,’ and they have to (then) provide everything for you.”

Participants will not only learn how to discover what their home might have been used for more than a century ago, but who were the first people to live in the home and, sometimes, who were the people to possibly die there.

“You can look at Ohio death records and the library has the Dayton Daily News digitized from 1898 to 1922,” Stolz said. “So, you can find all those old stories about things that went on in older properties. I think people don’t realize that prior to, like, the 1950s, most people died at home.”

Whether uncovering the potential source of ghoulish sounds coming from the attic, or to simply learn what your historic home was used for in the 1800s, the program is a one-stop resource to learn the tools you’ll need for the quest.

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