Efforts help preserve many local records

We applaud and appreciate the efforts of the Jefferson County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society in its quest to retain important county records.

The group began a few years ago to preserve county records, including common pleas reports, naturalizations, criminal records, coroners’ records, wills, inventories to estates, veterans’ records and other important documents. The group started by sorting, organizing and then removing records, some of which date back to 1797, from probate court and carefully taking them to the genealogical society’s office in Wintersville. The end goal is to have all of the documents digitally copied and preserved for future generations.

Thanks are due to Flora VerStraten-Merrin, Jefferson County Genealogical Chapter president, and the group’s volunteers, as well as a group of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionaries. They are responsible for unfolding and then ironing out wrinkles, mending and rehydrating the documents from 1979 through 1930. The documents then are photographed to be digitized for prosperity. In fact, approximately 1,000 images are being taken each week in this great undertaking.

Members of the genealogical chapter are using high-tech cameras on loan from the Genealogical Society of Utah, also known as FamilySearch, which is the largest free Internet search tool for people researching family history.

The purpose behind all this is to preserve state and local records and history for many generations to come, according to VerStraten-Merrin.

“We want everyone to know that we are finishing up with filming the probate packets. Next it will be the wills and ledgers. We would like to have any cemetery, township, military or village records brought to us to digitalize as well. This will give people anywhere in the world access,” she said.

This project is extremely important, and the end result allows easier access to research family histories. That’s much appreciated. An added bonus is that our courthouse offices will have the benefit of records in a digital format that can be accessed by computer.

A complete updated listing can be found on the free website at www.jeffcochapter.com. There also will be an open house showcasing the work of the many dedicated volunteers. The event is set from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 11 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Wintersville.

It’s a chance for area residents to see the success of this program.