- Family Search of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints performed a record scanning project at the Coshocton County Courthouse.
- More than 243,000 images were scanned digitally for use with work by volunteers over 33 weeks.
- The Clerk of Courts Office has the images on thumb drives and the public can access for family genealogy research at familysearch.org.
- Volunteers are wrapping up work at the courthouse and will move onto scanning records at Coshocton County Probate Court.
COSHOCTON — Volunteer efforts from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has led to copying nearly 243,000 images from public records in the Coshocton County Clerk of Courts Office for digital use.
Clerk of Courts Camila Graham said she was contacted by Sandy Starcher of Family Search in July 2019. At the time, the organization was copying old court records for free in Muskingum County and wanted to come to Coshocton County next.
After meeting with Starcher and Dave Shipley of the group and speaking with then Muskingum County County Clerk of Courts Todd Bickle, Graham felt the project would be a great benefit to her office and the community. She said older records are in boxes along a wall in the clerk’s office. They are hard to access and difficult to handle.
“The old cases are very fragile. With the paper being so old and dirty, it can crumble and break off in your hands,” Graham said. “Those old records will not hold up with much handling.”
Documents were scanned from the county’s founding in 1811 through the 1900s. This included indexes, appearance dockets and court of appeals records. All information was provided to the clerk’s office on thumb drives and is available at familysearch.org.
Graham said a man has already contacted her about a case from 1864 after doing initial research into his family history on Family Search.
“He had been looking for that information for years. He sent me the book and page and I copied the record for him,” Graham said. “He was so excited to get the information that he said he lived in Newark and would drive right over to get it. He said ‘I’ll be there within in an hour’ and he was.”
Family Search is one of the largest genealogical resources and has undertaken similar projects all over the world. The group has stated family is very important to the church and it’s primary reason for the document scanning.
Yolonda Van Dyne was the project manager and operated the camera to reproduce images. Coshocton is the ninth Ohio county she’s worked in along with two counties and a church in Pennsylvania and the Ohio Genealogical Library in Belleville. She has scanned more than 2.5 million documents an said Family Search has more than 300 projects going on across the world.
“The man hours it takes to get a project completed is amazing,” she said. “I have enjoyed every project I have had. Coshocton is no different.”
The local project featured 33 volunteers giving more than 1,200 hours over 33 weeks. Starcher had the most hours at more than 483 over 98 days.
She said bonus items were sometimes found and also scanned like pictures, old receipts and newspaper clippings. Many records were tied together with ribbons or handsewn as staples hadn’t been invented yet. One document dated for July was tied with three ribbons colored red, white and blue.
“As hard as this is to believe, volunteers enjoy helping with these old records. We find many interesting things. It is fun to see how things were done for that time,” Starcher said.
Mary Jane Mitchell, a member of the Coshocton Genealogical Society, said she was hooked from day one of helping.
“Anybody who does history for genealogy, you kind of fall in love with that, so seeing these old records was quite amazing,” Mitchell said.
She is doing research to have her family declared a pioneer family and one of the first families of Coshocton County. She’s been using Family Search and finding needed records, including marriage licenses from Virginia.
“Now that the whole world is getting involved, it’s going to make it much easier for people to find relatives,” Mitchell said.
Family Search is wrapping up it’s work at the Coshocton County Courthouse and will next be scanning documents from Coshocton County Probate Court.