Highlights of the History of the Huron County Branch OGS
(compiled by Lois Walden for the 25th anniversary Aug 2005, update 2020)
The necessary spark to form a society was one person, Carole Robinson Jansen, who had been working on her family trees for a number of years and very much wanted a local genealogical organization where she could go and meet others having the same interests and problems. Carole set about talking and quizzing friends and found one lady, Ruth Ann Chapman, as addicted to genealogy as she was. Together they decided to take the gamble. Many letters were written, and the first meeting was held on March 13, 1980 with 20 people in attendance. Thirteen people joined that night with 10 of those members signing a petition to be forwarded to the Ontario Genealogical Society requesting recognition as a branch. Monthly meetings continued, and in June, 1980 the Huron Branch received official OGS recognition as a branch of the province-wide organization.
The first meetings of the organization were held in the room under the Grandstand on MacDonald Street. When this venue was not available, meetings were held in the board room at the Assessment Office on Napier Street beside the gaol. This then became the meeting place until we moved to the Museum in 1993.
Our library has had only three homes as well. Yvonne Porter housed it in her house from 1980 to early 1989. Margaret and Earl Salter had it in their home in Saltford from the spring of 1989 to 1992. Since 1993 our library has been housed in the Log Cabin beside the museum. We have an excellent research library containing numerous books and also over 300 family trees. We also have many indexed scrapbooks of local county clippings.
We can boast of the dedication of our members in the fact that we have had only three official research co-ordinators: Margaret Rutledge, 1980-1982; Nancy Kale 1983-1987; Helen Dale, 1988 to the present. Helen also looks after the Pedigree Charts that you have handed in.
Fund-raising was necessary to finance the organization in the early years. This was matched dollar for dollar by Wintario Grants.
One of the bigger projects undertaken by the branch was the transcription of the cemeteries in Huron County. Over 90 cemeteries have been completed and are available in booklet form. Hours and hours of work were dedicated to this project. What an aid to researchers!
We must remember all the changes in technology that have transpired in the past 25 years. The typewriter was still used to type gummed labels in 1982. The first photocopiers were purchased in 1984. Then the computer and internet entered our lives.
Genealogy has become a very popular hobby. In the past 25 years over 1500 people in Canada and the United States have belonged to the Huron Branch.
Our organization has donated the transcriptions of the 1861 Census of Huron County to the libraries in Goderich, Clinton, Seaforth, Exeter, and Wingham. We also donated microfilm copies of the 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, and 1901 Huron County Census to Wingham, Clinton, and Exeter libraries. We have purchased the Ontario Vital Statistics index microfilms and later the Huron County portions of the registrations of births (1869-1907), marriages (1869-1922), and deaths (1870-1932); these are housed at the Goderich Public Library for anyone to use. The weekly newspapers of the county are available on microfilm in the closest of the five larger libraries with microfilm readers, namely Goderich, Clinton, Seaforth, Exeter, and Wingham.
The cover of our bulletin “Rooting Around Huron” was designed by Don Hubrick and has been used on all of our newsletters for the past 25 years.
Last but not least, these accomplishments would not have been possible without the contributions of time and expertise of our members, so willingly given to our society. Thanks to everyone for helping to bring us to this wonderful 25th Anniversary Celebration.
Chairpersons of the Huron County Branch
Carole Robinson Jansen
Debra Virkutis McAuslan
H. Brock Vodden