In 1975, Jacksonville College offered some
continuing Adult Education courses. Among them was a Genealogy course
taught by Ruby Lee Stevens. This was less than a year after the death
of my husband, H. L. Marsh. Our six year old son, John, was in the
I took several different courses of the Adult Education and Genealogy was the very best for me. I had some knowledge of family charts, etc. as my two older children had teachers who encouraged family research. Also one of my aunts, Miss Bessie Brinson was our family historian and letter writer.
After completing our genealogy classes and receiving our certificates, several of us kept seeing each other at the (Jacksonville Public) library researching what was available there at that time. So I phoned around to these new friends with my idea of forming a club or society. We settled on the 2nd Monday night of each month. (I believe that this was before Monday Night Football).
The first organizational meeting was May 12, 1975 at the Community Room of Jacksonville Building & Loan, where a group of 14 became charter members of the Cherokee County Genealogical Society. Looking at the very first “scrapbook” of our society’s activities, I remembered that some of use wore our Mother’s Day corsages that night. We elected officers and as I was getting speakers and arranging for meeting places, I accepted Vice-President, IdaLee Edmiston was the first President and Edith Goodson, Secretary-Treasurer.
We were an enthusiastic bunch, wanting to learn more about tracking down our ancestors and expanding our knowledge of contacting kith and kin before they were all gone forever! Evelyn Warren and I had attended a meeting at Lufkin of a combined Historical and Genealogical Society. They graciously let us “borrow” their By-Laws which became the basis of our Cherokee County Genealogical Society By-Laws.
The Charter was closed June 1975 with 23 charter members and one associate member (Jerry Taylor). Then 11 more members joined during the Fall/Winter of 1975-76. I believe there now 17 of the original charter members still in the “Land of the Living.”
Sue Taylor began our newsletter in July 1975 as a one page The Tree Talks, changing to Tree Talks in October 1975. Later Sue’s logo was adopted (Indians, covered wagon, ships, and a horse in it!). I have seen quite a change a change in Tree Talk from 1 page to 12 or so monthly issues, then becoming a quarterly.
Looking back through years of minutes and Tree Talks, we had many local speakers, programs and activities; even a Everton Press person from Utah, bake sales and craft sales at Christmas, parties, etc.
A high point in my research occurred about 1980 when I received a notebook in the mail from my Dad’s Indiana sisters. It was filled with charts and much information I did not have on the Hackerd line. That was the basis of a talk I gave about my paternal grandfather moving across country in a covered wagon with all the possessions they had left. This was after their home was burned (among other homes) while the folks were away visiting. Later silver mines were started on the claims people had left because they were burned out and had nothing to hold them there.
Some movies have been made based on these facts. As I researched this I thought ...They were living history!!...and of course, so are we! For example: My great great grandfathers Hackerd and Brinson in the American Revolution, my great grandfather in the Civil War, my Dad in World War I, my husband in World War II, and my son in Desert Storm (Gulf War).
Another high point for me was receiving Civil War Pension Records of my husband’s ancestors, especially his great grandfather, Marcus D. Marsh’s papers and a picture of him taken at about 104 years old. He lived to be nearly 107. One of my programs in the early years was on “Search for a Confederate Veteran.”
I had been to the special collection of Stephen F. Austin University Library(*) , looking especially at The Confederal Veteran. I learned that we could order the entire published set, 40 volumes and 3 volume index for about $1,566. It was voted on in the CCGS December, 1987 meeting and approved by all to buy this set. It was a proud acquisition for the Society and for the local library. These volumes were in the library by March 19, 1988.
*I discovered a “cousin” named Elaine Hackerd there who was in charge of the Special Collection.
An interesting bit of memory here I’ll tell about: We (being Sue Taylor and I) “toted” baskets of books to meetings of CCGS and checked out books to members. That was early times and later we had the Genealogical section of the new library equipped with microfilm readers. Many members donated books, reference materials and traded quarterlies, etc.
Many memories, thoughts and appreciation to the many people in the early years who helped things along. Sue Taylor for her vitality, humor and work. As Editor of Tree Talk, Ogreta Huttash for her many researched books. Bobby Dowling, Helen Crawford, IdaLee Edmiston, Betty & Lonnie Smith for their work, ...so many others. See, I knew I shouldn’t start listing...too many to name! In later years, the Ackers, Gaylon White and Gordon Bennett (who, to me, personifies the computer-age changes) for their exceptional work. And yes, I still research my family lives and never missed a year paying my dues to CCGS. I am proud to call Jacksonville my home since 1967 and proud of Cherokee County Genealogical Society.
I have many interests in life: First of all, I’ve been a member of the Methodist church for 64 years, played piano for 60 years-some 12 years as a church pianist and played at nursing homes. I was tutor in the Adult Literacy Program here in Jacksonville for 7 years; been involved with Red Cross and Crisis Center, past president of the Herb Society of Deep East Texas based at Stephen F. Austin University; Active in AARP (retired group) and for 60 years have crocheted. I’m an artist with a crochet hook: I’m known as Mary Marsh, Crochet Artist. I also taught children piano lessons and to crochet!
I have 3 children, 4 grandsons, 2 granddaughters and 2 great grands: a 2 year old boy and a 1 year old girl! Family and friends are very dear to me. I hope the new year of 2003 will be a good one for all in researching.
Organizer/Founder of Cherokee County