Take a Marion County Genealogy Road TripJune 12, 2015
Take a Marion County Genealogy Road Trip
If your family has roots in Marion County, plan a genealogy road trip this summer. You don’t know who you might discover. As a bonus, you’re guaranteed to meet some friendly folks and find many memorable stories to pass along.
This is a great way for grandparents to connect with their grandchildren for a fun day trip that keeps family history alive. Plus, searching for old cemeteries and ancestors can be quite an adventure.
Here are 3 must-sees for your family research road trip:
Marion County Public Library in Fairmont
- A treasure trove of ancestry information lies within the library, in a room set aside for the holdings of the Marion County Genealogy Club. Club members staff the Genealogy Room throughout the week to help visitors explore their resources, which include: vital records (birth, death, census, wills, cemetery records) for most of the state’s 55 counties; histories of the counties; donated family histories; Times West Virginian obituaries from 1982 to the present; histories and information on Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina; information on Revolutionary War and Civil War soldiers from this area; city directories from the early 1900s; the Index to Land Grants in West Virginia from the early 1780s; school yearbooks; maps; old photos; and more.
And the best resource of all is David Rowand, Club president, who would be glad to come talk with you. David has been doing research for 35 years and is the author of 15 books.
He offers the following tips to get you going:
- Start at the beginning and go back. Ask your mom and dad and then go to your grandparents.
- Ask for a family Bible record, but check it for accuracy.
- Go visit graveyards. Get to know the family really well.
- Double check everything you do.
- Make sure you get obituaries.
- Find the stories. You will become a detective.
The Genealogy Room is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays and Monday evenings and Saturdays by appointment. Call (304) 366-1210, Ext. 12, to make an appointment.
Marion County Historical Society & Museum in Fairmont
In addition to the significant state and county artifacts housed in its museum, located in the historic former county sheriff’s home, the MCHS offers unique research materials not found anywhere else. For example, the Historical Society has the original induction cards for all World War II enlistments in Marion County. Two of its members, Dr. Elizabeth Swiger and Dr. James Coleman, spent 2 years researching Civil War graves and wrote a book called “Marion County, W.Va. Cemeteries with Civil War Veterans Burials,” that can be used at the Society and documents with GPS the locations of all 132 graves in the county.
Many local families donate photos, letters and family histories to the MCHS; a professional scanner is used to preserve items people loan.
“We’re not just a museum,” said Dora Grubb, MCHS president. “We’re here to preserve the past for the future.”
Add to your personal library with books for sale by and about West Virginians.
“We need to be proud of our rich heritage,” Grubb said. “Because of where we are located, we have many of the famous families who actually formed what they called at that time the west. These are the people who were the movers and the shakers who brought in the railroad.”
Contact the MCHS with a question about an ancestor, and Grubb or Raven Thomas, an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Historical Society, will help point you in the right direction, as they do weekly for researchers from all over the U.S.
West Augusta Historical Society in Mannington
The West Augusta Historical Society is another great resource. Call for questions regarding collection of family histories, census records, vital statistics, cemetery records, county histories and more from the local area. The WAHS maintains the Wilson School Museum and Hamilton Round Barn
Once an elementary school, the Wilson School Museum houses an astounding number of antique artifacts from the community and shelves of local historical publications. If you want to see ancient Native American artifacts, Colonial, Confederate, Gas, Coal relics, antique furniture, dolls, watches and assorted other memorabilia—this is the place. You can even see “Father of West Virginia” Governor Francis Pierpont’s bed and dresser here!
Within the museum grounds are a two-story log cabin and a retired Chessie System caboose. You can go inside and dream of it being your very own camper cabin. There is also an old post office/gas station so very small you don’t need to go inside—just look in the window.
Originally a dairy barn, the Hamilton Round Barn built in 1912 now houses a fine collection of antique farm equipment, a sleigh, early mining tools and other Mountaineer artifacts.
Open May through September – Sundays 1:30 to 4pm; weekday tours by appointment
Prickett’s Fort State Park in Fairmont
The Thomas Library, located in the Visitor Center at Pricketts Fort can help you trace your roots to the 18th Century. The Library contains records and books of family histories of the Prickett Family – among others, crafts and other significant artifacts from the frontier. While at the Fort, get a feel for living history as you travel back in time to life in the 1700s and 1800s. Experience firsthand how your ancestors lived in the frontier of what was then western Virginia. Explore the recreation of the original 18th Century Pricketts Fort, which provided safety for early settlers.
The original Job Prickett House offers a taste of everyday life in the 19th Century. Also worth a visit are the Prickett Cemetery, the Visitors Center and the Museum Gift Shop. You’ll find boating access, bike and nature trails and picnic areas, if you need a research break.
The park is open for tours Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for youth ages 6-12 and free for kids ages 5 and younger.
And no summer visit to Marion County is complete without a sweet treat. Reward yourself for your hard work as a family research sleuth with a dessert from one of our many eateries. But, the sweetest reward actually will be sharing all that you learned with your family!
What have you uncovered about your ancestry?