Tuesday, March 27, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Local Societies

Local genealogical and historical societies are the lifeblood of genealogy. Members and volunteers give their time and money to preserve local history and promote family history. Tell us about a local society for which you are thankful.


Anyone who knows me, knows which local society I'm going to blog about with this topic.

Most of my maternal, and a few of my paternal lines, center in a small county in East Central Kentucky.  Estill County, Kentucky was formed in 1808 from parts of Madison County and Clark County.  Parts of it were later used to form several other counties through the years.  My earliest Kentucky lines were in present-day Estill County when it was still in Virginia.  The latecomers showed up for the party by 1840.

When I started researching my birth family, I actually started with one of my paternal lines in near-by Rockcastle County.  I'd learned by this time the value of the local genealogy societies and the help they could give.  Naturally, when I started working on my maternal lines, I called the Estill County library to find out if there was a historical society.  Lo and behold, not only was there, the librarian provided me with the telephone number of the then president.

I called her that night and we discussed what lines i was researching.  As with all things in small towns and close-knit communities, it wasn't a matter of IF we were connected, but how many different ways.  There are certain things you learn to accept in genealogy and that is one of them.

She gave me a tremendous amount of information and put me well on the road of this wonderfully frustrating hobby of ours.

When I asked her how I could pay her back for all the help she gave, she told me to "pay it forward", which was well before the movie of the same name, but a great concept all the same.

As a result, I've worked with the Estill County Historical & Genealogical Society quite a bit over the past twenty years.  Their's is the standard that I judge (either wrong or right) all other societies by.  The amount of books they've published through the years is simply amazing.  They have their own museum and research library that covers many counties in Kentucky, not just their own.  The folks there work tirelessly in promoting the history of that area of Kentucky.  

In the fledgling days of Kentucky GenWeb, we on the Estill County Mailing List threw out the thought of meeting for a weekend and researching together.  The thought was that those who were familiar with the county could help the ones that weren't.  ECH&GS helped us out and, fifteen years later, that Homecoming Weekend is still going.

Thank you, Estill County Historical & Genealogical Society.  Thank you for all you've done...and continue to do.