By Pauline Masson
Pacific Missourian Editor
The local genealogy society celebrated its history with a giant birthday cake and a trip down memory lane at the Tri-County Senior Center last week.
Formed in 1987 after publication of the book, “Roots,” raised family history awareness, the Meramec Valley Genealogical and Historical Society reached a 30-year milestone Nov. 30.
“Before ‘Roots’ was published people were interested in genealogy, but it was the genealogy of famous and important people,” said Sue Reed, MFGHS founder and former Pacific librarian. “After ‘Roots’ ordinary people started showing up at the library looking for help with family history.”
From the outset, organization leaders realized that to collect histories on Pacific families it would require reaching into neighboring communities.
“Actually the Meramec Valley stretches from Steelville to where it meets the Mississippi,” Reed said. “People had family connections to residents of nearby communities.”
The organization would amass an archive of obituaries, family histories, community history and historic photographs of Pacific area (Meramec Valley) families.
Reed, who still sees herself as the MVGHS information officer, narrated the birthday celebration program, identifying the contribution of many individuals to the society’s archive.
Each Tuesday morning, when Reed and other volunteers gather at Pacific City Hall office to clip obituaries and file news articles people show up looking for information on their families.
“We still get lots of requests for local family history,” Reed said.
Beginning with the formation of the society with Neil Brennan as the first president, Reed and Chris Niemoeller presented a list of society officers and members who each brought their unique collections to the archive.
Jeff Ryan and Nellie Mueller, the second and third presidents, were present for the presentation.
“Everything started with collecting obituaries,” Reed said.
Then, Orton Lynch and Roger Jarvis created a map of the city cemetery that identified grave locations and the names and dates of death of deceased.
“The map was available at the library, which was a huge step forward in helping genealogy searchers,” Reed said. “Before Orton and Roger’s work you just had to go up and walk through the cemetery to find a grave.”
The late Edna Myer…