It was 10 years ago when a small group of people who were interested in learning more about researching their heritage got together.
Some of them had attended a Everton's Heritage workshop in Willamette Valley and thought that it would help the people in our rural country if we could have a workshop locally.
To host a workshop, our group needed a name; thus, the Grant County Genealogical Society began in the fall of 1993.
It was officially formed in 1994, with the purpose of collecting, preserving and sharing the history of Grant County and its people.
In April 1994, an Everton's worskshop was held at the Mt. Vernon Grange Hall. More than 30 people attended this exciting, informative worskshop, with the ladies of the Grange serving a wonderful lunch.
Since that time, the society has been active in our county. It has sponsored a workshop by Heritage Quest and another by Margaret Ingram on how to write your life story.
Recently, society members taught classes covering beginning genealogy, preserving records, using land records and how to use the Internet to help in research. This was the second time the Internet workshop had been offered. There have been workshops in Monument, Prairie City, Mt. Vernon and John Day to help answer questions and help people with their research.
The society has held many fund-raisers, such as tables at flea markets, bake sales and drawings.
Money from these projects help publish a series of books about the county's cementeries, with No. 5, the final book, nearing completion. This large task could not have been accomplished without the devotion of the society's members to preserving Grant County history.
We have also published two books that cover all marriages from 1900 to 2000 in Grant County, and have reprinted Jean Secord's book, "Yesterday in Grant County."
The society used money, including funds from a library foundation grant, to obtain a microfilm reader and printer that is housed at the county library for public use.
In 1999 at the Grant County Fair, the society displayed about 60 family history boards, representing 93 early families in the county. The boards were a big attraction.
Also during the past 10 years, a monthly newspaper column was written for the Grant County Press until the paper stopped publication. About the same time, a column was shared with a shopper newspaper that was published in Burns. The Harney County group would write one month, and we would write the next.
The society offers three family recognition certificates. Which certificate your family is eligible for is determined by when your family settled in Grant County. Some verification and a small fee and form need to be submitted to the society. Several pioneer families in our county have these attractive frameable certificates.
Local society members receive a quarterly newsletter, which contains society news and interesting items from other societies.
The newsletter provides helpful research, tips, Web sites, abbreviations and other information that might help research.
Members try to go on Ruth's Coffee Time on the KJDY Radio whenever there is something new the society is doing.
In the fall of 2002, the society began sponsoring Historical Luncheons. These no-host gatherings feature various speakers. Some luncheon topics have been the various families who settled in the county, such as McKern, McKenna, Stewart, Keerins, Trowbridge, Chapman, and the Chinese, Camp Logan, The Dalles Military Wagon Road, the "drudgery"of early housekeeping and chores, and the Grant County Historical Museum.
These luncheons are held at noon on the third Tuesday of the month from January to October at the Outpost restaurant in John Day.
October 2003 found society members moving bookshelves and numerous research materials to the Mt. Vernon City Hall, where the City Council gave the society permission to house its research library so that it would be more accessible to the public.
A wealth of information and research aids are available for public use.
Death records and funeral home records are available and blank forms you may need are also offered.
The society meets from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays in Mt. Vernon.
Throughout these 10 years, the society has been involved in many of the county's community events - floats for '62 Days, county fair and 4th of July parades, volunteering at the Quilt Show, a booth at the annual Chili Feed, took part in the Confederate Memorial Service in Prairie City, and baked pies over an open camp fire at Camp Logan Days.
Society members man a booth at the county fair each year to help anyone with their research.
A popular fund-raiser is the Heritage Quilt drawing. The quilt dipicts scenes from throughout the county. This is the fourth year, and this year's theme is Old Barns of the County.
The quilt drawing began as one queen-sized quilt. This year, the society decided to do three wall hangings because they are easier than a large quilt for the winners to display.
The society holds a business meeting on the fourth Tuesday of the month, except in November and December, at 7 p.m. at Valley View Assisted Living. These meetings are open to the public.
A major accomplishment for the society has been achieving tax-free status, which means that any donations to the society are tax exempt.
Most of the society's members live in Grant County, but some live elsewhere in Oregon and in other states.
For more information about the Grant County Genealogical Society, call Jeannette Harrison, (541) 932-4718.