Written by Keith Good, Library Services Assistant, Green Township Branch
It’s 11 a.m. on a Thursday morning. The parking lot outside the Green Township Branch Library is nearly full. Confused patrons wander to the desk. “Are you giving something away?” they say. “I could hardly find parking. What’s going on?”
What’s going on is Green Township’s Genealogy Club.
The third Thursday of the month draws genealogists and historians to the Green Township Branch Library. The area is rich with history. Formerly farmland, the library is a short walk from where the Western Hills Airport once sat. Co-Founders Sharon Tellez and Library Services Specialist Tonya Dryer “recognized a significant interest in history and genealogy in [Green Township].” That bubbling interest, combined with their own passion for history and human migration, spurred them to create the Green Township Genealogy Club in April of 2012.
Now seven years strong and led by Jean Maxwell, that historical interest is palpable at each meeting. The room fizzles with conversation as group members file in. Laughter floats through the air. The parking lot fills. After brief announcements, a different presenter helms each meeting. Topics include military records, best practices for searching the library’s extensive historical newspaper databases, and how to read a death certificate.
The April 2019 meeting featured Phyllis Uffman. She escorted the Genealogy Club on a virtual walk through local cemeteries. Tools filled the table before her: paint brushes and cotton swabs, stout rope and bug spray. Uffman instructed the group how to best divulge a headstone’s secrets and how to save history from the erosion of weather and time. “Wear sturdy shoes and long pants”, Uffman says, “to avoid creepy crawlies. And be vigilant against snakes (yes, snakes!).” If you were to listen closely, you’d almost hear John Williams’ Indiana Jones Fanfare lilting through the room.
Because history isn’t a stale line on a yellowing page. It’s a story we all share. It’s a long-lost great aunt, never spoken of, rediscovered on a burial plot and brought back into the family fold. History is a living thing during Genealogy Club meetings. Even as the presenter is delving into information, hands go up throughout the room. Each member shares their knowledge.
Sitting in on a Green Township Genealogy Club meeting is like watching a house being built; the presenter provides a foundation upon which each member lays their bricks. One document leads to the next, often uncovering years-buried treasure. By hour’s end, we’re walking through a mansion of history.
Sometimes history is exploring a cemetery. Sometimes it is found in dusty newspapers at the Main Library. Sometimes history is even diving into a dumpster to save heirlooms from the landfill. Regardless of its form, come the third Thursday of each month, history soars up Bridgetown Road to the Green Township Genealogy Club.
Sign up to attend the next Green Township Genealogy Club meeting here.