, 2021-09-03 02:00:00,
A wealth of local history at the Adams County Genealogical Society is at risk of disappearing due to a decline in members and interest.
The Adams County Genealogical Society began in 1978 when advertisements were placed in local newspapers.
The first meeting was held on Nov. 2, 1978, in the former commissioners’ office at the courthouse. The appointed officers were President Evelyn Scalf, Vice-President Dorothy Helton, Secretary and Treasurer Rosa Mae Rolph and Programming and Publicity Officer Barbara Rolph. There were 13 charter members altogether.
Of the 13 original charter members, only Ethel Chambers, 86, of Seaman, Ohio, remains active today.
“I have been on the board since we formed in 1978. I am a charter member and the only active charter member,” said Chambers.
By February 1979, meetings were held in the basement of the courthouse. By 1986, there were 504 members.
“They let us have the tiny room as you go down the ramp. That is where we had our library. We didn’t have very much to start with,” she said.
In 1981, the society registered with the state and became a corporation in September 1981, acquiring a vendor’s license and becoming a 501(C)(3) with the Internal Revenue Service. It is also registered with the state as a charitable trust organization.
In 1982, the society assisted The Historical Society in raising money to purchase the present-day Heritage Center at 507 N. Cherry Street in West Union, Ohio. The two societies formed an agreement on March 25, 1982, to share the building, and on Dec. 8, 1988, The Genealogical Society moved into the Adams County Heritage Center.
“We started out in [the] little room [in the back], and we now have over 2,000 family files. We just kept coming out,” she said, laughing. It’s been fascinating to watch it evolve, she said.
“I got started in [genealogy in] 1975. My mother-in-law passed away, and there were a bunch of pictures. My husband Roger’s brother told me to just throw them away. I said ‘oh, you can’t. Can I have them?’ So, they gave them to me. There happened to be a gentleman in his 90s that grew up as a neighbor to Roger’s dad. There was a woman in her 90s that knew Roger’s mother’s side of the family. So, we got names they did not know anything about. The grandparents had passed away before the boys were born,” said Chambers.
Chambers has watched the society grow through the decades inch by inch.
“I have seen it grow by inches. I never really…
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