“A wealth of historical knowledge” Genealogy room open for public

As the 200th Birthday celebration of Monroe County is in full swing,  many residents are becoming interested in learning more about their own personal history.
This task has been made much easier with the help of the Monroe County Historical and Genealogical Society, a group of volunteers with an interest in all things related to the history of Monroe County.
The group not only oversees the Monroe County History Museum, but plans projects and events related to the history and heritage of Monroe County. The group also collects and shares information and artifacts and have been fine-tuning the plans for the Monroe County 200th Bicentennial for several months.
The year-long birthday celebration, which kicked off Jan. 19, has inspired several families to investigate their roots and the roles their ancestors played in shaping those 200 years.
Yet, what many do not realize, is that the resources for that research have been available to them for the past three years.
A wealth of knowledge is sitting inside the former Judge’s chambers, just outside the old courtroom on the second floor of the Monroe County Courthouse.
The Society began in 1972, with interest dwindling down in the 80s, but revitalizing in the past few years.
The group originally planned to open a genealogy room, for preservation and sharing of information, in a dedicated area of the museum.
However, after receiving much more than anticipated in records and research, they needed to find an alternative. Society member Dorothy Pare noted that after the group approached the Fiscal Court in 2016, that the Judge-executive at that time, Tommy Willett, was kind enough to offer the old courtroom and chamber for their needs.
What began as 20 boxes of research, donated and sent here via truck by Arizona resident Professor Doug Moore, who has history deeply rooted in Monroe County and wanted to pass along his information, now fills that office as well as an adjacent room. The walls are lined with shelves displaying documents, family history books, family Bible records, cemetery records, old deeds, high school annuals, census records and many other forms of education both from Monroe and neighboring counties as well as the state of Tennessee, at your fingertips.
While the task of ancestry may sound daunting or even boring to some, Society member Eddie Headrick notes, “It is not complicated at all. Everything is labeled and we are here to help families that need it.”
He explained that the room is open each Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., weather permitting, or by appointment. “We are more than proud to come out and open up to those interested.”
Debra Walden pointed out that they have had visitors from all over the country, including states such as Ohio, Colorado, Minnesota, Indiana and many more.
“You wouldn’t believe how far Monroe County roots stretch across the country and how many visitors we have. So many have told us how they have been looking for something in particular and finally find it when coming to Monroe.”
She continued, “We also enjoy our locals and are here to help anyone who wants to come out. We are tight knit group and we have a lot of fun. We enjoy it and we want to help others learn to love it as well.”
Walden also pointed out that something unique to their group is the community expertise as several members have roots in the different communities in the county, such as Ebenezer, Rockbridge and Sulphur Lick.
The group also noted that they are constantly looking to add to their materials and would like to encourage anyone who has not only written records, but artifacts or antiques related to the history of the county, to donate those to the society.
Headrick noted, “If people don’t know what to do with old records or things like that, we would love to have them. We can make copies if they are more comfortable with that. It is always better to have more than one copy of things like that and always better to have the two copies in separate places. You never know what could happen.”
“Don’t ever throw anything away. Do not assume it is trash. We will come pick things up—old estates, things like that—just call us…you never know. We may use them in the genealogy room or the museum. We just want to share our love of family history and you never know who may want to see those items in the future.”
It is apparent the importance of history to Headrick, as he states the most important thing he feels he can share with a younger generation, “They may find it boring now but I wish they would realize how important it is—when their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents want to talk to them—to write it down, record it, really listen to it.
“Trust me, you have to get to a certain age to really appreciate it, but they will—and you never know who may be throwing the next historical celebration,” he added.
Pare agreed, “These events usually only happen every 50 years or so—I was four during the last one and I don’t remember it. We encourage everyone, especially students, to come out to the different events during the Bicentennial. Learn from it, enjoy it and then when the next one comes around, go with their children or grandchildren.”
The planning for the Bicentennial continues, with a complete list of several events from January until the finale (a reenactment of the battle of Tompkinsville) in October to be announced in the coming weeks of the Tompkinsville News.
The Society meets on Wednesdays in the old courtroom. They encourage anyone interested in researching their family genealogy to come by. If you are interested, but not available on a Wednesday between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., you may call 270-427-6161, 270-487-5113 or 270-590-3946 to make an appointment.  Those interested in joining the society or donating items may also contact those numbers.


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