An appreciation of the past

WINTERSVILLE – Two missionary couples, Bill and Beverly Pace and Lynn and Albert Mooney, who played a role in preparing packets and loose papers from the Jefferson County probate court to go on a website, were honored recently by the Jefferson County Chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society.

Flora VerStraten Merrin is president of the chapter, which held an open house at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with more than 45 people in attendance.

“We will share help on how to improve your research skills, using the Internet,” VerStraten Merrin said of a program available from the free website

The Mooneys have been busy removing the sometimes crumbling and fragile papers from envelopes, hydrating them, unfolding them and ironing them flat and putting in more hours a week than expected. They will be going back home to their children and grandchildren this month.

The Paces spend time in a small room bending over a camera to record the prepared papers.

“As we handle the old documents and see their deteriorating condition, we can gain appreciation for the importance of the preservation work,” Bill Pace said in a church news magazine. The story was called Preserving the World’s Records, written by R. Scott Lloyd, staff writer.

“Going through them gives one appreciation for the people, their lives 150-200 years ago and the challenges they faced,” he said.

“Everyone is a volunteer working at the genealogy office. There is one volunteer who ironed paper for two years,” VerStraten Merrin said.

“Many Mormon churches do not have a family history center, but our Wintersville church does. It is devoted to family history. It is important to them and me,” she said.

The Granite City Mountain Vault is the repository of all the microfilm, a source of information that lasts forever. The digitalized records are a worldwide project, being done in many countries.

“It took lots of effort to get the records, it didn’t just fall into our laps. But no digital format will last as long as microfilm, that is why it is being stored,” VerStraten Merrin said.

Several volunteers signed up for work in the office that is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays by appointment at the open house.