myparistexas.com will be highlighting Lamar County Chamber of Commerce businesses each month in our Local Paris section.
The Chamber is continuing its monthly series in recognizing our non-profits in Lamar County. Chamber President, Paul Allen visited with The Lamar County Genealogical Society recently who has been serving Lamar County for the past 37 years.
The program began at Paris Junior College with the help of Dwight Cheney and use of the library. The group moved around the PJC campus from time to time depending on how many books were being donated.
President of the Genealogical Society, Betsy Mills attributed the early success of the program to Paris Junior College. The organization began to grow and the donated documents began to increase. Mills stated that while looking for a new home, the City of Paris received a grant to restore the Santa Fe Frisco train depot since they were a 501(c)3 organization, they were offered space and the depot has been home for the last 12 years.
When you walk into the location you will be amazed at all the things that are there offered free to the public. There are 1000’s of documents to review and different sections that are related to specific areas are available.
There are currently seven volunteers that are willing and anxious to help you find whatever you are looking for.
Thelma Dangerfield is one of those volunteers and has been volunteering since 1994. She came in inquisitive about things that had happened in the past, she wanted to discover things that weren’t really talked about and ended up staying and helping others do research as well as continuing to look at things in the past.
There are 60 members of the Lamar County Genealogical Society who meet on a monthly basis and have speakers and guests that come in and give information that’s relative to discovering genealogy. Time has changed how things are done and many folks have visited to find out more about their ancestry.
Mills stated, “We have access to ancestry.com for public use and also have access to Fold3.com, and newspapers.com. The information is unlimited in all of these areas.”
The new thing that people are interested in now is researching their DNA. They can help you get started in this area as well and the information gathered from doing this research has been amazing.
Volunteer, Deborah Usry pulled hers up and showed me the parts of the world that linked her DNA to the location.
What can these types of services provide?
Nancy Hill is an elementary teacher at Detroit Elementary, the following is her story.
“The first time I attended a genealogy meeting I really had no interest in the topic,” said Nancy. “You see, I’ve been told so many times that seeking my biological family would be costly and never a guarantee.”
However, the guest speaker was a person who referred to herself as a ‘Search Angel’.
“I had never heard of this title so I decided to go just to see what she had to say. I mean, after all, she would tell me the same thing everyone has told me ‘there’s no way to locate your biological family’, ‘you don’t have any identifying information to begin a search’, ‘you need to hire an attorney to petition the courts to hope they’ll open your file’. Yada-yada,”
Nancy has heard this song and dance many times since she was 16 years old.
“I wish I could remember who this incredibly knowledgeable woman is so I can give her due credit, but she is the cause of the renewed spark to begin thinking about searching once again; all because of a genealogy meeting I had no interest in attending. Once the meeting concluded, I introduced myself and displayed the non-identifying document that I’ve carried around for the better part of 20+ years.”
She examined the document and stated that Nancy had plenty of information to begin a search.
“She then encouraged me to submit my DNA to Ancestry. She said it’s a very large databank to find family and heritage. I seriously thought she was crazy and it wouldn’t work, because nothing has ever worked.”
Since that meeting, Nancy has been incredibly blessed to be introduced to several more ‘Search Angels’. These Angels have given their time and knowledge to help her locate both her paternal and maternal sides of her biological family.
“Getting to know my cousins (of whom live about 30 minutes from where I lived for the past 25 years) and my half-brother is indescribable. Simply put, I cannot adequately verbalize the mixed emotions and joy that overwhelm me every time I think about these events. My life has taken on new meaning. All because of a presenter at a genealogy meeting and God’s Angels who are willing to give so much of their time and talents to find the missing pieces of an incomplete puzzle. I will forever be grateful.”
The Lamar County Genealogical Society needs your support.
They provide a unique service to anyone that walks through their door. They run with donations and have no paid employees.
They need more volunteers to help keep this non-profit organization growing.
Contact them at 903-784-5020 for more information.
Pictured: Nancy Hill with half brother, Boris Anastasoff, and second cousin, Keith Dearing, AKA Santa Claus.