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Jonesborough Genealogical Society celebrates 30 years in 2020

By JOHN KIENER

Associate Editor

[email protected]

The Jonesborough Genealogical Society will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year. One of the year’s major events will be the selection of additions to the organization’s “Hall of Fame.”  The Celebration is scheduled for Saturday, April 25.   Nominations for the Hall are now being received by mail addressed to the JGS, 200 Sabin Drive, Jonesborough, TN 37659 or by email: [email protected]

Hall of Fame members have been selected for the last 10 years. Those chosen beginning with the initial selections have been: 2009 – Mary Hardin McCown; Charles Marion Bennett, Anne Elizabeth Cosgrove Shaw; 2010 – Lorraine Bennett Rae, Mildred S. Kozsuch; 2011 – Rosa Russell, Bess Caraway Twaddle;  2012 – Jan Teinert, Elaine Scott Cantrell; 2013 – Julia Loyd, Margaret Sherfey Holley; 2014 – Chad Fred Bailey, Shirley Hinds; 2015 – Judge John L. Kiener, Charlene Zimmerman McLeod;  2016 – Gene Hurdt; 2017 – Deloros Britton Home; 2019 – Jewell Dayton Williams Susong; 2019 – George Holley, Patricia Sabin.

The usual site of the Hall of Fame presentations is the Washington County / Jonesborough Library with a brunch beginning at 9:30 a.m.  The JGS meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m.

The genealogical society has a long association with the Herald & Tribune.  “DIGGING FOR YOUR ROOTS” became a regular feature of articles, queries and news shortly after the organization was formed in 1990.   A November 20, 2019 article in the H & T reviewed articles published during 1990.

The importance of what has become the newspaper’s GENEALOGY & HISTORY page is illustrated by the articles in the Wednesday, January 2, 1991 edition.  Associate Publisher Alice Torbett wrote a book review of The Southwest Territory: 1790-1796 written by Walter T. Durham, a past president of the Tennessee Historical Society and former chairman of the Tennessee Historical Commission.  The Patrick Erwin (Irwin) Bible Record came from the files of Mary H. McCown, mentioned above as one of the original Hall of Fame members.

By the end of the month, January 30, 1991, an unsigned article titled “Saints and Sinners” cautioned against making one’s ancestors larger than life.  The first paragraph stated: “Psychologists say that people tend to remember the good things which had happened and forget the bad ones, which is why most of us stay reasonably sane.  This type of thinking seems particularly applicable to our ancestors.  When reviewed from a distance of a few generations they seem to acquire halos which grow larger which each passing generation.  Close study of the records, though, reveal that most were a combination of strengths and weaknesses – just like people today.  Stories that have run in this column reflect how fiction mingles with fact over the years.”

Bennett’s and McCown’s files were used again on March 6, 1991 in an article on “The Bean Family.”  The story in part told readers that the Brown family in Washington County and those in Unicoi were not related. Readers were also told:  “Saturday is a good time for genealogists and others interested in family research to go to the Jonesborough Library. Several members of the Jonesborough Genealogical Society are on hand to help you with anything you might require in conducting family research.”  Such help sessions have become a feature of JGS’s services to those willing to visit the library.

A chart assisted readers in answering the question — “Second cousin? First Cousin Once Removed? How Can I Tell?” in the paper’s March 13th edition.  A regular feature of each article was titled “Books Donated to Jonesborough Library.”

A “Beals Family” listing of records was featured on March 20th again from the McCown files.  Another regular feature of “Digging for Your Roots” included queries.  In April, several editions included genealogical records of soldiers.  Military records and campaigns have often appeared on the GENEALOGY & HISTORY page.  The April 3rd paper told about “Revolution Pensioners” while on April 17th the article on genealogy was titled “William Greenway – A Soldier of the War of 1812.”

The author of this article on April 10 and May 15th used his legal background as a lawyer and judge to write a two part article on “Surnames and Women’s Rights in the 19th Century in Tennessee.”  On May 22nd the article “Henderson Clark, half-brother to John Clark, Jr.” was published.  It was authored by William R. Gann from Independence, Missouri.  Through the years, Gann has contributed numerous articles to “Digging for Your Roots” while authoring several books and serving as an editor of genealogical publications.  He can be found periodically at the Washington County Archives researching family records.

In his May, 1991 article, Gann commented on a problem often faced by researchers.  He writes, “When there are two individuals with the same name living in the same location, confusion as to their separate identities and relationships can and does occur.  If the family researcher will take the time to carefully uncover the facts, and even the smallest of details, then the actual identities should emerge.  Hopefully the above example [in the article on Henderson Clark]  of these two men with the same given and surnames will be an example of how one might go about approaching this kind of genealogical problem.”

On June 5, William R. Phillips wrote about “Family Tales from Civil War Days” including hostilities that continued after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.  “Nelson’s Meeting House” about a Methodist chapel was the subject of a June 12th article. The genealogy page that week contained five Queries illustrating both the numbers of subscribers reading the column and the usefulness of newspaper requests for research assistance.   

Throughout the 30-year span of the Herald & Tribune’s genealogical and history publications, articles about religion and religious events have been solicited.   An 1812 War Record of George Robertson ended the June publications.  In a concluding article, selected articles from the months of July through December 1991 will be discussed.