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From a Vallejo Genealogy Class to the Genealogy Society of Vallejo-Benicia

By: MABEL LORINCZ, BETTY HERYFORD AND CLYDENE CANNON

In the Fall of 1992, the Florence Douglas Senior Center asked for suggestions for classes the seniors would enjoy. Ada Larson suggested a genealogy class. When the Senior Center started looking for a teacher for the class, Julia Corlis Castillo, Senior Center Director, suggested Betty Heryford should be the one to teach it. Betty said she had never taught a class but she would volunteer.

In March 1993, the class was up and running, meeting every week for six months. Then the format was changed to meeting every other week. During this time of how-to-do-research in genealogy, there were dreams of having a room of our own, a genealogy society and a place to start our own library. We had started with 17 members and now had a list of 52 people and growing. In 1995, Betty Heryford found it necessary to take a break from teaching the class. Clydene Cannon answered an ad in the paper for a experienced genealogist and took the position as instructor.

It was quite apparent to Clydene that the facilities at the Senior Citizen Center were not adequate. She approached Jim Boschee, Vallejo City Councilman, to inquire of locations that would be appropriate to establish a Genealogy Society and Library. He suggested Jim Kern at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. An agreement was reached with the museum and the following volunteers for 1995-1996 helped with the move: Clydene Cannon, President/Instructor, Betty Swinnie, Vice President, Jeannie Adame, Secretary/Librarian, Louise Penning, Treasurer. The move was accomplished and a newly formed genealogy society called the Vallejo Genealogy Society had a home. The group voted for dues of $12.50. Meeting/classes were twice a month.

In September 1996, the following officers were formally voted in and seconded at an open meeting of the Society: Clydene Cannon, President/Instructor, Betty Swinnie, Vice President, Louise Penning, Treasurer, Jeannie Adame, Secretary, Sharon Edwards, Communications Liaison, Joann Y'Bara/Joyce Scharf, Librarians, Doris Locke, Social Chairman. Francie Gross offered to start a newsletter and the first one was published January 1997.

During the fall of 1997, Clydene also found it necessary to pull back from the demands of keeping the society running but wanted to occasionally teach. A vote for officers was held and the following people elected: Sharon Edwards, President, Betty Swinnie, Vice President, Louise Penning, Treasurer, Doris Locke, Secretary, Joyce Scharf, Librarian, Marie Wiegand, Phone Tree and Clydene Cannon, Instructor. The board then met and changed their name to the Genealogy Society of Vallejo. Sharon Edwards researched and on her own was able to establish our Society as a non-profit both with the State and Federal Government.

In 2001 the name was changed to Genealogy Society of Vallejo-Benicia to include the city of Benicia some of whose city limits are identical with Vallejo's city limits.