Welcome to our December 2000 meeting. This year, our third, is nearly over. It has been a year of accomplishments, and of challenges. Somehow, it seems that the more we do, the more we find that must be done. First, some general comments.
We have totally outgrown our office, and the board is actively seeking larger facilities. It needs to be close to the courthouse, and around three times as big as our present office. While no arrangements have been made, we hope to have this accomplished by our March 2001 meeting.
We must give thanks to the Town of Surry for giving us a home, at no cost, for the last nearly two years. It got us started, and allowed us to start collecting our archives and library. Our cup runneth over. We hope to still have facilities at little or no cost.
I want to announce that Dennis Hudgins will not be in Surry for around two months. He needs some personal time and he has a previous commitment to finish for publication another volume of Cavaliers and Pioneers, the record of Virginia's Land Patents. This will be his fifth, and complete the series through the Revolutionary War. Few records are as important. It's the root document of land ownership in Virginia.
Dennis has made wonderful progress on the project of organizing and transcribing the working file from which the Surry County Register of Free Negroes was created. This file has not been found in any other Virginia County. We have received a grant from The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities to put together in usable form these approximately 1700 documents.
Membership continues to grow. Presently around 450, I expect we will reach 500 in the next year. Much of our recent growth has been from out of state. We now mail over 100 newsletters out of state.
The financing of the restoration of Rogers Store remains frustrating. The big stumbling block is whether the gift of the Store qualifies as matching funds. It was included without question in our application. We have applied to a private foundation for $25.000 in matching funds, and expect to soon apply to others. Even without money from these sources, we expect some of the State grant will be released soon.
I will not go into the great 2002 celebration, as Janet Appel and P. J. Watson Jr. will cover this subject in detail.
We are already working to insure Surry County's place in the year 2007 festivities of the Jamestown Settlement. While it is still over six years away, much work [and considerable confusion] is being encountered in trying to shape the largest event Surry County will see in our lifetime. How do you plan for thousands of visitors?
We are pleased to announce that member Michael Harrison has completed his book on the Union Graveyard in Claremont, Va. It is one of very few in the south. He has offered, and the Board of our Society has accepted, the document and plan to publish it soon. It will be the first publication of the Society. Proceeds will help the Society and the Argus Women's Club in Claremont in maintaining the graveyard.
The Society and your president need help! As membership increases, putting together the newsletter and mailing it has become a much larger job. While I am willing to continue to write some of it and put it together, help is desperately needed to print, fold, stuff, address and mail it. Most can be done at home. Remember, without this link to our members, we cannot grow or maintain our membership. The cost of having this done by outside firms would be a burden on our Society.
This last newsletter should have been mailed a week earlier, but the time required and Thanksgiving delayed its mailing. Help!! E-mail Jim Atkins.
We need volunteers to keep our office open. With Dennis unavailable for sometime, it is imperative that we have more help. Please call Margaret Sue Berryman, Fay Savedge or myself. Only by giving service to visitors can we do our job. Of every two visitors from out of the area, one joins the society, if they get help in their quest for information.
I thank you for your support. We have made a great start. Can we go forward to create an organization that can continue to grow and give increasing service to Surry County and all those whose ancestors passed through Surry County in creating this great country of ours?