Thirty years and going strongWashington County Genealogical Society to Celebrate Anniversary
The Washington County Genealogical Society (WCGS) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Open houses will be held in the Grayson Archives Room at the Washington Public Library as follows: Thursday, Aug. 8, from 3 to 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 9, from 1 to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Aug. 10, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Society members and the public are invited to tour the library and see the extensive collections of books and records. There will also be several displays on local family and historical items of interest. Refreshments will be served.
The WCGS was formed in the summer of 1983. Seven of the original 39 charter members are still active members of the society. They are Tom Dayton, Rosamond Goodlander, Marj Neil, Lawrence Zuehlke, Linda Birney, Cindy Juhl, and Margaret Brinning.
A member since 1985 and the longtime corresponding secretary, Margie Lasek, will provide an informative display of early towns in the county that are now ghost towns, at the open house. Margie has also compiled and had the WCGS newsletter published for years. Other current officers and volunteers will also be available at the open house to answer questions and do some cursory research for those attending. The other current officers are President Ferd Marie, Vice President Janice Twinam and Librarian Susan Clark.
While the types of records collected and searched remain the same, the methods and tools have changed. Neil described the initial development of the genealogy library as a single bookcase and shoe boxes. She would get the shoe boxes from a local shoes store and use them for filing index cards.
Linda Birney recalled the Friday work sessions known as “Clippers and Pasters.” The group would clip newspaper announcements of specific life events including births, marriages, deaths, reunions, and anniversaries. This information spans the decades from the mid-1800s to the present and provided the building of vital statistics notebooks maintained today. The work sessions continue today and are held on Mondays. Society members offer assistance with library research. Other than Mondays, members do not have set hours for being at the library, but are available on a random basis or appointments may be set up.
Additional equipment was added to the genealogy library over the years, including computers that were donated to the group by Dr. William (Bill) Burham. The Genealogy Library moved to its own room and present location in the basement of the new Washington Public Library in 2009. A sizable donation from Charles E. and Isabelle Davis Grayson made the new Genealogy Library possible. Since the move, an anonymous donor has provided funding for the purchase of Macintosh computers, a scanner and a printer. Two elders from the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints assisted the WCGS with setup of the new computer system. Contributions from the Riverboat Foundation were used to improve security of the genealogy library.
The WCGS holds meetings on the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the library. Programs are conducted during regular meeting times and topics usually include a presentation on a genealogical or historic interest. Visitors are welcome to attend the meetings and programs.