More than just lists of names and dates.
The Halifax Genealogical Society recently celebrated its 25th-anniversary, a milestone that to its members means people are still interested in tracing back their family ancestry and preserving stories.
HGS was founded by four women in September of 1992 and by the end that year, its membership had grown to 106. Its numbers continue to remain steady today, and HGS President Bill Vivian said it's the largest genealogy society in Volusia County. Its members originate from all over the country, which is why HGS doesn't limit its focus to Ormond Beach history and families.
The purpose of the society is to promote interest in genealogy and historical research in the community and to provide the education needed for efficient and accurate research. Each member has his or her own goal in genealogy — for Vivian, it's finding the first immigrant in his family.
“Knowing the heritage of your ancestors keeps the thread going as you think about yourself and your own life," Vivian said.
It’s also an emotional search, said past president and current member Clyde Stickney.
“You almost discover something every day because you see new documents, new insights, new relationships, and it builds on itself," Stickney said. "We love to be part of people’s first exposure to genealogy.”
When HGS member John Parkerson first got involved with genealogy, he said research came down to library resources and word of mouth. He was president of the society in the late 90s and early 2000s, and thanks to the internet, research methods have evolved.
“Damn, it’s been a long time, but it’s been a short time," Parkerson said.
Its members are HGS's greatest resources too, Parkerson said. The society's monthly meetings are not only led by internationally-known genealogists, but also its own members who HGS Director of Publicity Bernardette Zappala warmly refers to as icons.
When she joined in 2004, she felt welcome. She said she found a group of knowledgeable people always willing to help.
“They’ll always listen," Zappala said. "They’ll listen to your perhaps sometimes inane questions and they’re willing to give of their time.”
HGS meets at 1:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month from September to May at the Ormond Beach Library. Meetings are always open to the public. HGS also offers free family research advice at the library the following Friday.