Southern Tier Geneological Society
Southern Tier Genealogical Society  

Dedicated to the Pursuit of Family History and Genealogical Research 

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History of STGS

Shirley Woodward

The author, Shirley Woodward, in her element
The author, Shirley Woodward, in her element

I think it all started when I signed up to teach a beginning genealogy course at the Tioga Co. Museum. Eugene Perry, the Tioga Co. Historian at the time, was eager to start a group. Some of the "students" wanted to start a club - not as most clubs with offices and regular meetings, but to be a way to go to libraries and do research. Remember back in the 1960's nothing was on computer or Internet, etc. We had to go to libraries or to County/State archives for research.

It all started here at the Tioga County Historical Society
It all started here at the Tioga County Historical Society with Charlotte Bartow, Bill Lay, Connie Storrs, Catie Deming, Eugene Perry and Shirley Woodward (plus others)

So we set up a club that met in the Tioga Museum the last Wednesday of each month in the evening We began to abstract early records in the museum history archives putting data on 3x5 index cards to file. In the file drawers, we had large manila folders containing information on early families that settled in Tioga Co. early in the 1790's to mid 1800's. Some of us abstracted the census, federal and state, 1790 to 1855 , in the Tioga Co. Court House, and early wills and deeds there, too. Mainly at meetings we abstracted deaths and marriages from early newspapers on file in the museum. Later we abstracted funeral records from local funeral homes, and of course, any family records local people would loan to us. We also ran a Genealogy Query Column in the Owego newspaper. We used these meetings to answer questions and help each other with problems. Eugene Perry, Charlotte Bartow and myself kept these meetings going. When the group decided to start the bus trips, Catherine Deming and I took over the planning, etc.

Once a month we would rent a large bus for the day and go to Albany, Fonda, Harrisburg, PA, Elmira or Syracuse. Once a year we would plan a trip to Connecticut, usually 3 days, and once a year a 5 day trip to Boston This trip we would spend one day in RI or in other state research libraries - VT, NH, Philadelphia, NJ, etc. And our biggy was the trip to Washington, DC for a week. We had some great times on these trips. These continued until the Bus Company raised the insurance fees too much so we could not afford to rent the buses. (Does anyone remember the Black Mariah ? The small bus with tables and a bar ?)

Bus trip to Connecticut - July 1982
On the way to CT, July, 1982 – Charlotte Bartow, Larry Leamer, Mrs. Scott, Dorothy Ross, Jane Kellum, Eila Schiffer

We had a system where each person wanting to take trips would put $25.00 in a club bank account, as we had to pay for the bus ahead of time. Then the cost of the bus trip was divided by the number going along - which each person paid back into the club bank account after the trip.

As the club got larger with more members the group decided to become a regular club with a slate of officers and meetings once a month with speakers. The Vestal Library was chosen as meeting place as by this time most of the members were from Broome Co. This was 1979 and we met on the first Thursday of the month By 1980 we took the name of Southern Tier Genealogy Club. (I can't remember who were the first slate of officers !! Jane Kellam was president for several years. )

Most of the trips were uneventful, maybe others reading this can remember other interesting events to put in this history.

I think about the favorite restaurant we would stop at on way home from NY trips. Called the Golden Star, or Shooting Star?? Who remembers this?

One big rule for traveling was not to wear jewelry, especially your diamond rings, and carry only enough money for copies at libraries and for eating. For longer trips, bring only old clothes - not your favorite blouses, etc. At one of our Washington trips a member had her suitcase stolen somewhere between the bus and room. Fortunately it only had clothes in it. Her research papers were in her large purse. We all shared clothes with her - and the last day the police found the suitcase in an alley nearby. All the clothes were there so no harm done.

And 2nd big rule was always travel with someone, especially if you wanted to go out to a restaurant for lunch, etc. We had a problem just once with this rule. There were several ladies who came down from Chenango Co. for the trips. One Conn. trip was where it happened. Two of these ladies decided to leave the Conn. Library and go to a nearby restaurant. One of the ladies had just cashed her Soc. Security check and had all the money in her purse. She must have flashed it in the restaurant, as when they were returning to the library, a car pulled up next to them and a young man jumped out and tried to grab her purse. She, of course, held on to it, so he kicked and pushed her down and took the purse. Fortunately a young lady was going by on her bike and saw what happened. She got the license number of the car for the police. Later that evening, the police found the car (it was a stolen one!) and found her purse on the front seat. They returned it to our researcher at the Conn. Library just before we left for home. Nothing taken except all that Soc. Sec. money!!! Later on the bus ride home she checked her hand and discovered one of the diamonds in her ring was missing. She figured it must have broken out when she fell on the sidewalk. Nuff said for this rule!!!!

On the day trips I would arrange with the Vestal Police chief to leave our cars in the Historical Museum parking lot. On return from one trip we found parking tickets on all the cars. I told people not to pay them and next day I went over to Vestal Police station. The Chief apologized - said a new man was patrolling that night and didn't get the message. I left a list of the members who had cars there - and as they paid the fine, it was returned to them. Always something else to contend with!! On long trips we would arrange to leave cars at a home of a member near by.

Some members who came from long distances, like Elmira, Syracuse, PA, etc., would arrange with another member going on the trip to come down the night before and stay overnight. This worked out real well. An elderly gentleman member from Ithaca would come down in the morning, and I would find him parked in my driveway at 4 AM. He rode with me to Vestal, and back home with me. Then he would drive back to Ithaca that night. He was a nice man and enjoyed the research trips.

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