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Genealogical Society's speaker series offers walk down memory lane

by Caitlan Butler | June 17, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.

The Union County Genealogical Society is hoping to take local residents on a trip down memory lane with the first installment of its new speaker series, "I Remember When."

"It's just about growing up, the way things were back then," said Carolyn Smith, Genealogical Society president. "What we're really after is what life was like back in the early years."

The series will highlight local residents who will share their stories of growing up in the early and mid-20th century, talking about everything from whether their childhood homes had water and electricity to what schools they went to and where they went shopping.

Hugh Nelson, an El Dorado resident originally from Oakland, Louisiana, will be the first speaker in the series this Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Barton Library. Larry Frisby, of Strong, will speak next month about his childhood in the 1950s, and Smith said the Genealogical Society hopes to highlight an African-American resident of south Arkansas in the third installment.

"Mr. Nelson, I think he was probably born in 1935, somewhere around there... We wanted to ask some things like 'What town did you travel to for shopping?' 'Where did you go to school and how did you get there, what was the method of transportation?'" Smith explained.

The series is one element of a broader effort by the Genealogical Society to recruit new members, Smith said.

"A lot of people are doing research but no one wants to work to keep the Society going, but if we're going to continue we've got to have workers because a few people are carrying a heavy burden. Union County has such a rich history," she said. "We're always looking for ways to improve our Society. We need new membership, new blood. It takes a lot of work to continue on."

The Genealogical Society holds meetings on the second Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. at the Barton Library. Smith said members and non-members alike are also welcome to attend monthly meetings focused on DNA ancestry, the next of which is scheduled for Monday, June 27.

"We'd started before COVID and had three meetings. It's just strictly talking about DNA. You don't have to be a member -- it can be people interested in testing, sharing knowledge and ideas," Smith said. "We had a big screen for maybe putting results up there. We're going to start that back up on June 27; it'll be a monthly thing, just to open a discussion on that."

The "I Remember When" series will continue on the third Saturday of each month. The first installment -- which Smith likened to an "adult story hour" -- is open to all ages and will be held this Saturday, June 18.

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