When a third cousin gave her a
stack of family material, Mrs. Emily Vowell became very interested in
genealogy. She was working in EP Public Library and began frequenting
the Genealogy Department. As her research grew, she saw a need to talk
to other researchers. Doris Nesbitt, also working for EP Public
Library, and Lovell Lovett, Branch Library of LDS, encouraged Emily to
contact all local researchers.
She sent questionnaires to all she could identify and called a meeting
November 5, 1970 in the home of Mrs. W. A. Burgett. Twelve people
attended this meeting and began planning to establish a society. At the
second meeting, December 5, 1970, in EP Public Library, attendees
appointed Emily temporary chairman and Minnie Johnson temporary
secretary. A nominating committee consisting of Frances Wilson, Lovell
Lovett and Minnie Johnson was named.
At the third meeting held January 14, 1971, they elected: Archie Conn,
President, Paul Prichard, Ist Vice President; Emily Vowell, 2nd Vice
President; Ledford F. (L. F.) and Jane A. Beard, Corresponding
Secretaries; Louise Terrell, Treasurer; Minnie Johnson, Recording
Secretary; and Emily Burgett, Editor. Jane and L. F. Beard and Minnie
Johnson, charter members, are still active today. The newly formed
Society adopted by-laws during this term. Amended in 1984 to satisfy us
as a non-profit organization by the IRS. They have been modified twice
more to correct wording and expand the board to include the immediate
Past President and committee chairmen. The Society began a newsletter
with the first monthly issue of El Paso Genealogical Society Bulletin
in March 1971. One year later, March, 1972, a name change - Rio Grande
Researchers. The name changed again - Rio Grande Researcher, omitting
"s". As the size grew, frequency was made quarter-ly.
The Society began meeting monthly the first Thursday but later changed
to the second Thursday. Once the society tried holding Wednesday night
meetings. Mrs. Cora Davis conducted afternoon meetings at Memorial
Senior Citizens Center. The first genealogy course was held April,
1978. Our first intermediate/advanced genealogy course was presented
August, 1984. Annual presentations of a beginners' course began in
October, 1992 and advanced beginners course in April, 1993.
Seminars by guest lecturers are always a highlight - they discuss
details virtually unknown to amateurs. The first seminar was by the
Joneses, Salt Lake City, members of American Genealogical Society.
Others have been Ron Brenner, Heritage Quest, Jan., 1988 and Bill
Dollarhyde, Jan., 1992. Coordination with other groups is an essential
ingredient. In May, 1985, we joined EP County Historical Society and EP
Museum of History in conducting a workshop at EP Museum of History on
Interstate 10. In 1986, we joined EP Hispanic Genealogical Society for
a presentation at UTEP.
Book publication began in February 1981 when Brig. Gen. Ross H. Routh
produced his third history on the Routh Family. First sale of Births,
Deaths and Marriages from El Paso Newspapers - Volume I was made in
1986 . Jane Beard spearheaded a group of members who researched this
book and subsequent Volume II in 1992 and Volume III, 1995. Membership
in EPGS gives a member an opportunity to join others ranging from
beginners to experienced researchers.
Below is a list of the past presidents.