January 15, 2012

The Herald-Star

To the editor:

The Jefferson County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society invites the public to come out and enjoy an evening of history about our county and its people.

We have obtained hundreds of documents, some dating back more than 200 years, that tell us what our fore families saw and heard, and how they lived their lives, how they shared their joys and faced their sorrows.

Did you know a young lady ran across the courtroom and jumped out the courthouse window to her death on the steps because she didn't want to face trial? What had she done? She had fallen in love. Curious about the rest of the story? Come find out.

Have you ever heard how the mentally ill were treated during the late 1800s? You won't believe why people were sent to the state hospitals for the insane. Ladies for not obeying their husbands. Children who had no families to care for them. People with undiagnosed medical conditions that interfered with their thinking. What happened to them after they were confined to the asylum? Did they ever come home?

What about the Spanish flu that devastated the whole world in 1918 and 1919? Do you realize how many young fathers died and left wives and children without food or clothing here in our own neighborhoods? Have you seen the Mother's Pensions and read letters where the mothers begged for $8 a month so that they could feed their babies?

And did you know that two excursion boats collided in the Ohio River on July 4, 1882, near Mingo Junction, causing about 75 people to drown? There were between 500 and 600 people on these boats. What were they doing, where were they going? Down to Moundsville Prison, of course, for a holiday celebration. Isn't that where you would like to go to celebrate the Fourth of July? Maybe not, but do you want to know more about why they did?

Our calendar thus far for the year 2012 offers these presentations at the LDS Church on Powell's Lane in Wintersville at 6:30PM.

On March 26, Gail Komar will present "How Crazy Were We? A Look Back in Time at Mental Illness."

On June 11, I will talk about the collision of the Scioto and Lomas on the Ohio at Mingo Junction. It is still known as one of the worst river disasters ever.

On Sept. 10, Flora VerStraten-Merrin will speak about immigration into Jefferson County. Her presentation will explain who came, why they came, what they faced when they arrived and much more.

Come and spend a couple hours with us. Enter into our drawings for a free membership to the society or a research of your family ancestry.

Judy Schmidt

Vice president

Jefferson County

Genealogical Society