By Mary Fox
Forty Years and our home is a post office box! The Crawford County Genealogy Society has never had a physical home. They will receive recognition at the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference in April. The fledgling group of 15 members received a charter in May 1974. They quickly grew to 200 and peaked at 500 members, currently around 300, more per capita than any other Ohio county. Our chapter has been so successful for one reason, ‘terrific volunteers!’ Some volunteers gave 1000 hours each year, and drove thousands of miles. We have won many awards from Ohio Genealogy Society for our achievements.
When I began researching in 1969 the Bucyrus Library had one genealogy book shelf. Now, their collection in the genealogy room is large and holds many rolls of microfilm, newspapers, court records census, church and more. All of the Crawford County libraries have good genealogy collections and our chapter books. We work closely with the director of each library and have helped them financially.
We are ‘widely misunderstood’, we don’t ‘sit around’ and chat about our great grandpa, etc. Our ‘big goal’ is to locate and preserve records, get them into print when possible. We also have educational programs to assist researchers. Our programs at our meetings testify to the interesting and educational topics. We like to learn about how our ancestors lived, and the people who shaped their lives. We focus on objects in the home, how the woman was able to preserve food, and feed large families. The ‘man of the house’ with the many pieces of equipment he used to make a living. We learn on the various trades and hobbies: broom-maker, guns, wars, old tyme diseases, Indian culture, quilting, dolls, bottle collections, early toys, paper products, arrowheads, pioneer cooking, Revolutionary re-enactor and the role of the wife in the war, Underground Railroad, early nursing, the list never ends.
Our first book about Crawford Families headed up by Lucy Speigel and Bill and Dee Marquart gave us enough money to move to the next book. The Pelican on the Bucyrus Square allows us to sell our books. We also have CD’s of United Brethren and Methodist church records, 200 pages each, Gebhardt’s post card collection etc., and many more. Volunteer Carl and Edith Shumaker read and recorded EVERY stone from all the cemeteries in Crawford County. They were entered in the computer and three books were printed. In the year 2000 there was about 30,000 county burials, plus Fairview Galion, 14,000 and Oakwood 18,000. We also did the marriages, divorce, naturalization and census records.
The Pioneer Family Project, people living here by 1850; Civil War Project; we support Crawford County Fair 4 H genealogy project and award cash to the winners, Obituary files – cut from newspapers and pasted on cards, by volunteers, chairmen were Eileen Hancock, Edith Shumaker, Jean Gifford, Rachel Miller and Winnie Kleinknecht, resulting in some 130,000 and 72 DVD’s. We paid $3500 to have them digitized and gave the surrounding libraries a set of obits, in alphabetical order! We have another 12,000 cards to be digitized soon by Familysearch.org. Newspapers have been saved and filmed from all around the county. We spent more than $6000 for the project. We picked up a van load of newspaper from Ohio Historical Society in 1994 and volunteers clipped items and obits. Common Pleas Court early records had been microfilmed and were to be shredded. Our $10 bid resulted in three pick up loads in my basement. Volunteers organized, cleaned and the court took them back.
Information for the school book led by Janet Spreng and Sylvia Noblet was compiled by many volunteers. In 2002 Eric and Kathy Grohe talked about the veterans’ mural and said stories were coming in with photos. I stood up and said ‘we should do a book’ – What was I thinking? I didn’t have anyone in a war, but I learned. Kathy Grohe did the book covers, Winnie Kleinknecht and I helped contact 800 vets for the first book; organized in file folders. The book was edited and sent to the printer on a CD to be printed. It took two years. In 2004 we did a second book honoring 850 vets. We bought 2000 books of each, one load weighed 10,000 lbs. We charged $25 included tax, so everyone could afford a book. We met our goal, we preserved over 1600 veteran stories and it happened by hours of correspondence and typing.
We share our money: some of the bigger donations $10,000 to Ohio Genealogy Chapter for the “Crawford Room” in their new building; $5000 to Bucyrus Library to purchase a microfilm reader and $2000 to help microfilm the newspaper collection not done since 1990. We have given many donations over the years to all the county libraries for various collections and new books.
Everyone is welcome to attend our meetings; 2014 April 10 at New Washington St. John’s Lutheran Church at 7 p.m., program Joe Blum; May 15 at Bucyrus Library 7 p. m. Dues are $8 for single $10 for joint membership and $15 for sustaining and includes ten big newsletters per year.
Readers, if you are interested in genealogy or sharing a story email or write Crawford County Genealogy Society, 931 Marion Road, Bucyrus, OH 44820 Mary Fox email Littlefoxfactory@columbus.rr.com