SOUTHINGTON — At the end of the month, the Southington Genealogical Society Inc. will celebrate its 30th anniversary.
In February 1984, former Southington residents Ray Thomas and Lorraine Dupuis decided to form a genealogy group after they tired of traveling to Tolland’s French-Canadian Genealogical Society.
Since then, the local society has had hundreds of members. About 90 remain active.
“I was in my 40s then, holy smokes,” said Thomas, laughing and reminiscing. “We are looking forward to the 30th, absolutely. It’s too bad our co-founder couldn’t be with us.” Dupuis died nearly 20 years ago.
In a document titled “History of the Southington Genealogical Society”, Thomas outlines some of the group’s major accomplishments. Thomas, now vice president of the society, was chosen as president when the society held its first elections in 1986.
In April 2000, the society adopted the Merriman Burying Ground on Marion Avenue in Plantsville. The burying ground dates back to the late 1700s and is named after the Rev. John Merriman, a Baptist minister. Thomas and others documented and cared for the grounds and the tombstones.
The Southington Gen-ealogical Society became incorporated in May 2000 and was added to the list of genealogical societies authorized by the state in 2002.
“It shows, for one thing, that genealogy is a subject of continuing interest. It’s not a fad,” said Richard Eppler, the society’s president. “It’s something people are interested in and have been for a long time and continue to be.”
The group’s monthly meetings are open to the public. Free workshops are held to teach different ways to conduct research.
“I am most excited about helping people learn to do research,” said Carolyn Manslof, a member for eight years. “(Websites) have a wealth of information, but there is so much more. There are so many other repositories. The society can show you where those are and guide you.”
Fifteen genealogical societies throughout the state, including Southington, are listed on the Connecticut State Library Website.
“Those are authorized to do business in Connecticut,” said Carolyn Picciano, a library specialist in the history and genealogy unit. “It gives people who are members of those societies access to certain vital records that may not be available to everyone in the state.”
The society will officially celebrate its 30th anniversary on April 22 at 6:30 p.m. at The Orchards at Southington.
Manslof has been working on the event.
“We’ll have lots of displays out and display some unique items of memorabilia our members have,” Manslof said.”I think the highlight is we’re going to have some area appraisers there and people are invited to bring their antiques.”
Bernie Borgnis, society secretary, is creating a poster board with all of the officers and board members involved over the past 30 years.
“Some have passed, some have come and gone, but we will have all board members, it will list everyone involved,” Borgnis said.
A few members will also bring their laptops to help people with research.
“Maybe they have a name they’re stuck with or maybe they hit a brick wall,” Manslof said. “Every member is more than happy to be whatever assistance they can be.”