History of the Warren County Genealogical Society

 

Warren County Genealogical Society (WCGS) had its humble start in 1981 when a few local Warren County residents wanted to begin preserving Warren County records.  On May 20, 1981, WCGS was recognized by the Ohio Genealogical Society as an official chapter.  Original board members included:  President Bart C. Gibbons, Vice President Leora Spindler, Corresponding Secretary Miriam Worley, Recording Secretary Pat Johnson, and Treasurer David Ledbetter, Jr.  There were 64 charter members in Vol. 1, Issue 1, of Heir Lines in September 1981, with more members added in each issue of 1981 and 1982.  Dues were $5.00 single, $7.00 family.

 

In 1981, WCGS had its first mailing address at Marion Snyder’s home, 12 W. South Street in Lebanon, Ohio.  For the first year or so, members donated genealogical books they had, all of which fit into a car trunk, and put them on loan for a month or so at various Warren County Public libraries.  These stops included:  Salem Township Library in Morrow, the Mary L. Cook Library in Waynesville, the Mason Public Library, and the libraries in Lebanon and Franklin.  Two of the early dedicated volunteers that did all this traveling were Helen Hutt and Nancy Burge. 

 

The first meetings were held at the cafeteria of the old Lebanon High School, later known as Berry Middle School.  After that, meetings were held on the second floor of the Lebanon City Building, and later moving to the Philippi Meeting Room at Otterbein Lebanon Retirement Center on State Route 741, where there was ample parking and a level entrance to the meeting room. 

 

According to Dallas Bogan’s article in the Star Publications of April 14, 1999, page 12B, he wrote "Chet (Chester Dunn) tells the story that when the society was first started five family member sheets were on the agenda for the board members.  Bart Gibbons took one look at Chet's chart and said, 'We are cousins.'" 

 

Pat Johnson commented, "A big part of our beginning was the several seminars that we put on at the Methodist Church.  They were good money makers for us and put us on the genealogy map.  The first [seminar] was the biggest, as we had Elizabeth Simpson, a well-known London England genealogist.  She was friends with Mary Jane Matz, who had made arrangements for her to come here while she was in the States.  We also had John Heisy from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and George W. Schweitzer, who wrote books on researching your ancestors in various wars...  Back then there were no computers and seminars were an important way to learn how to research." 

 

The WCGS quarterly newsletter, Heir Lines, was first published in September of 1981.  For many years we had the Civil War discharges and portions of the deed index published in an ongoing series in Heir Lines. 

 

In August 1983, after letter writing by society members and the help of Judge Bowers, the County Commissioners were to vote on making a room available to WCGS in the old courthouse.  This was announced by Helen Hutt to open in January 1984.

 

By January 1984 WCGS finally moved to a more permanent location at 300 E. Silver Street, in the lower level (basement) of the Probate Court Building.  Judge Bowers arranged for WCGS to use two small rooms as a resource center in exchange for answering genealogical queries that came to the Court.  Betty Greer and Chester Dunn were the main volunteers.  This is where our "library" began.  Our collections purchased or donated by charter members had grown to fill one wall about 12 feet deep and 4 shelves high.  The WCGS card catalog, referencing names in our Warren County books, was also started at this time.  This is when we began asking new members (and old ones) to submit their family group records and pedigrees charts for their Warren County ancestors.  Our first big project was an every-name index for Beers History of Warren County, Ohio, with each name being written on a 3x5 card.  Many volunteers helped by doing a number of pages from the History.  Upon completion, Beer’s History was reprinted with our index in it.  Some of the other early projects included the cemetery transcriptions and copying the 1880 Warren County, Ohio, census by hand.   Chester "Chet" and Betty Dunn and the late Evelyn (Hall) Preest visited and transcribed tombstones from virtually every cemetery in Warren County. 

 

The Warren County Genealogical Society moved to the second floor of the Academy Building at 190 New Street (P. O. Box 296) in Lebanon, Ohio, about December 1997, while the new administration building was being built.  Some of the faithful volunteers included:   Chester Dunn, Dallas Bogan, Bob Mehl, Ruth Justison, Helen and Ralph Hutt, Dorothy Linkous, Bobbi Apking, and Chuck Griffen.  Knowing the need for expanded space, the county commissioners provided WCGS the opportunity to help plan our resource center and library in the lower level of the new administration building next to the Warren County Archives office.

 

The Warren County Genealogical Society moved to its present location in the lower level of the new Administration Building, 406 Justice Drive in Lebanon, Ohio, on May 25, 2001.  This new move made our records much more accessible to researchers and county employees.  Our indexes have been a great resource to Warren County Archives and other county departments.

 

By the spring of 2001 we had our first email address (wcgs @ go-concepts.com).  It was decided that a web page was needed to help researchers of Warren County, Ohio, contact our society and to also better meet their needs.  In August 2001, Dana Palmer was asked to create a website for WCGS.  It was decided by the board to make the website interactive featuring many databases of Warren County.  That way researchers could make a list of their relatives and the sources listed with the applicable reference pages enabling volunteers in the WCGS library to be more efficient in answering queries.  Researchers could also bring in their list and we would help them obtain copies of original records listed on our website.  It took about 6 months to create the website and by spring 2002, it was finished. We were provided with a county email (wcgs @ co.warren.oh.us) and launched our first website (www.co.warren.oh.us/genealogy/home.htm).  By spring of 2003, we revamped the website, adding many more online indexes, and changed the name of our home page (www.co.warren.oh.us/genealogy/index.htm).

 

With our ambitious projects and new acquisitions, we have created a very well-organized research library.  We have many master indexes for various records searchable online at our website or on our computers in our library.

  • Our master indexes currently have over 603,851 name entries, many of which are on our website (as of January 2013).

  • We have over 117 of our own publications available for purchase with at least 15 others scheduled for released sometime in the next few years.  We also have at least 10 other Warren County related books published by various authors, which are available for sale through us.

  • To date we have over 300 members in our society.  About half of these memberships are for out-of-state researchers.

  • We exchange our quarterly newsletter with other genealogical societies, historical societies and libraries in Ohio and nationwide.

  • Our stacks now shelf over 3000 genealogical, family books, town histories, and smaller family folders.  Many of these are for Ohio, specifically Warren County, but we do have others in various areas statewide, nationally, and internationally including state reference books for Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland.  Numerous how-to-do it books regarding genealogical research can also be found on our shelves.  We are always trying to add to our collection.  If you have any resources you would like to donate, please contact us.

  • We have over 142 microfilms, many of these for local newspapers, census records, and probate records.

  • We have over 50 genealogical CD's as well as 70 CD's from World Family Tree.

  • Our resources include our 3 copiers (2 large and 1 transportable), 4 computers, 1 scanner, and 1 microfilm / microfiche reader.

 

Currently, we are working on digitizing tombstones for our Virtual Cemetery from all the cemeteries in our county and are also creating a master probate index including the years 1803-1996.  If you would like to help with these or any of our other projects, please click here to be redirected to our Projects page.

(Those who were part of the initial group are shown in bold.  Others joined later in 1981.)

* = deceased

Those with links will take you to their Find A Grave Memorial.

Charter Members

Those who were part of the initial group are shown in bold.  Others joined later in 1981.

* = deceased

Those with links will take you to their Find A Grave Memorial.

Bill Archdeacon

Howard* and Eunice* Barnett

Russell and Evelyn Bartlett

B. R. Bashford*

Margaret Beckett

Janet L. Beedle

Ferne Biehle*

Adele P. Blanton

Beverly Ann Blatz

Dorothy H. Bollinger*

Edna Bowyer*

Carl* and Yvonne* Bradstreet

Hon. Clarence J. Brown

Helen M. Buckborough

Nancy L. Burge (Nancy designed our logo!)

Dorothy J. Carter*

Robert L. Cartwright and family

Robert Chenoweth

Florence Cole

Doris Collier

Tanetta and Gloria Cook

Wanda Hamblin Deck

Marjorie L. Diebel

Sarah Dodds

W. W. Drake

Chester L. Dunn*

Evelyn Easter

Tom and Edwina Essex

Judith Evans

Oscar and Mary Fleckner

Diana Fondersmith

Pearl Gamble

Bart C. Gibbons

William* and Frances* Gilbert

Betty L. Greer*

Julia Rebecca Hardin

Jesse Hollingsworth

Thelma Weidner Hudson*

Ralph*C. and Helen* L. Hutt

Lena M. Iorns

Ebenezer H. Johns

Patricia H. Johnson

Betty M. Korff

Carolyn* L. Lambert and Kathleen Lambert

Dan Ledbetter, Jr.

Phyllis Leisz*

Bette Patton-Leslie

Diana Linkous and Dorothy* Welch Linkous

Joan Lippert*

Anne Long

Glenn and Betty McElroy

Dixon Maple*

Charles* H. and Linda K. Lanter Marker

Delbert and Evelyn Martin

Harold L. Martin

Charles Albert Matz, III

Mary Jane Matz*

James and Ann Milar

Laverne Moore

Ruth Moore

Robert D. Murphy

Louise Orr*

Evelyn Preest*

Helen M. Rabenstein

Lucy Graydon Ratliff

Helen E. Robertson*

Frank H. Robison

William A. Schoeliver

Joe Scofield

Berdette Slaughter

Marion* and Charlotte* Snyder

Leora R. Spindler*

Nancye Stern

Raymond E. Sutton*

Carol Swearengin*

Kenneth* and Jessie* Van Meter

Victoria Visintainer

Wilma Lee Voorhees

Vivian K. Warwick

Vivian Werk*

Constance Witte*

Anne E. Woolley

Joseph* E. and Miriam* Ellis Worley

Richard and Jean Young

Charter Officers, 1981

* = deceased

History of Officers and Major Committee Heads