Ancestry group brings past into focus for residents

Published 7:00 am Friday, August 14, 2015

TIME TRAVEL: PRC Genealogy Club member Gloria Penton looks through books reliving the club’s early days.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

TIME TRAVEL: PRC Genealogy Club member Gloria Penton looks through books reliving the club’s early days.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

It’s a common question asked by many, ‘‘Where do I come from?’’
Researching ancestry can quickly become a daunting task. There are many resources available to those searching, but only if they know of their existence.
A visit to a Pearl River County Genealogy Club meeting will help clear some of those roadblocks to research.
The group was founded in 1999 by a group of locals who were interested in family history and genealogy, charter member Gloria Penton said.
The club’s first meeting was held on Jan. 19, 2000 and charter officers included president Marilyn Weston, co-vice presidents Josephine Megehee and Mary Nolte, secretary Pat Hesse and treasurer Fred “Buddy” Hess.
Penton’s journey into the past began in 1997, when she began researching her family history in Newton County as well as her mother-in-law’s family, the Mitchells.
“My grandfather left some tapes and he talked about his childhood, marriage and his children,” Penton said. “It’s fascinating. I love finding out things.”
According to the club’s creed, their purpose is to share and help members with their individual searches for ancestors and their mission is to preserve local historic records and compile local genealogy information for local libraries.
During club meetings, members hear special guests speak about genealogy and often take field trips to nearby historical societies, such as the Hancock County Historical Society in nearby Bay St. Louis, Penton said.
“If we don’t host a program, we discuss what we’ve been researching and help those who need help with their searches,” Penton said. “The bulk of our research is done outside of club meetings, but if someone finds a new website or resource, they share it with club members.”
Picayune is home to two of those sources of information, the Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library and the Hilda Hoffmann Memorial Archive, Penton said. She is a volunteer at the latter.
“People can come here to the archive and look through genealogical records and cemetery books,” Penton said. “They can bring their electronic devices and connect to our wireless Internet server.”
Penton said it’s important to preserve local and personal history because “we never know when a disaster will strike.”
“It needs to be passed down,” she said. “People wait until their mid-life to get started but by then, it’s too late to ask questions. I would like to see more young people get involved. They can start with their parents, grandparents and branch out from there.”
The Hilda Hoffmann Memorial Archive is located at 301 Williams Ave., Picayune.
For more information visit and through Facebook at Hilda Hoffmann Memorial Archive.
The PRC Genealogy Club meets the third Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. in the genealogy room at Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library, located at 900 Goodyear Blvd., Picayune.
For more information contact members Elaine Smith at 601-798-5781 and Cheryl Schwab at 601-798-8361.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox