The Meramec Valley Genealogical and Historical Society (MVGHS) held its May meeting at the Haue Valley Farm.
Bill, Linda and Edith McLaren hosted the event.
Patricia Sewell, society president, urged members to promote awareness of the group’s work to grow its family history archive.
The MVGHS is a city of Pacific committee and houses its collection in an office located in the lobby of the government center, 300 Hoven Drive.
Obituaries, family histories, local histories both published and not published, are available for researchers.
“We have a lot of material on local families, but there are many families that we don’t have anything on,” Sewell said. “I urge all our members to make it known that we are always looking for information on local families.”
The society also needs to grow as a community service organization, she said.
“We’re a small organization with a long list of members, but as our members age, we need to attract younger members,” Sewell said.
The society was formed in 1987 with a collection of clippings assembled by Sue Reed, assistant librarian at the Scenic Regional Library.
“I actually started clipping in 1964,” Reed said.
Among materials in the archive are vintage photographs of the community that provide a unique glimpse of history, according to Ruth Muehler, society vice president.
“We sell the photos,” Muehler said. “To get an idea of what we have in our collection people can go to Bank Star on West Osage, which has enlarged some of our pictures. And we recently sold a series to the Great Pacific Brew Haus.”
One of the greatest services that the society provides to the community is not its papers or its photos, but the telling abilities of its members, according to Bill McLaren.
“For years I collected what I could find on my Uncle John (Howe, a horticulturist who farmed the site where the meeting was held). “But the best thing I ever got on him was a story by Ruth Muehler who told that she worked the election polls and Uncle John walked to the polls in an ice storm to vote.”
“They weren’t going to let him in because it was so close to closing time, but I reminded them that he had walked down the hill in the storm,” Muehler said. “We let him vote.”
“I’ve had a lot of stories about Uncle John, but that one is my favorite,” McLaren said. “It’s the best gift I’ve received from the genealogy society. I tell it over and over.”
“We need to tell stories about our community,” Sewell said. “I was always captivated by the stories that Pauline Masson wrote about Ella Miller (granddaughter of former slave King Edward Adams). She (Miller) gave us such a big part of our history through her stories of living here in Pacific.”
Therissa Schlemper reported that she and Janet Daniel had presented a version of the society’s Civil War program as part of the East Central College local history series.
“That program was so well received,” Schlemper said. “We need to find another topic to use our collection and put together a program on what local families lived through.”
Among suggested topics for an interactive local history program was the CCC camp that built the Lookout, or Jensen’s Point, on East Osage (Historic Route 66), the Meramec River, which was formerly the site of riverside parks and which inundates the area with recurring floods or the railroad that created a boom town here in the 1850s, 60s and 70s.
Members were asked to offer other suggestions for a collaborative local history program.
The MVGHS typically meets the third Wednesday every other month at the government center. The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 17.