Berrien County Genealogical Society
Amelia Island Genealogical Society
The Seed That Grew

          As three people were driving 110 miles once a month to work with the Kalamazoo Valley Genealogy Society, one of them asked “Why don’t we explore the possibility of a group in Southwest Michigan?” The seed was planted, but—nothing happened! Time passed. Friends asked about the trips to Kalamazoo and elsewhere. The seed was being watered. The female of the trio decided it was time to act!

            Telephone calls were made to area people who had advertised in the Genealogical Helper within  the last ten years to survey the potential interest in starting a local group. From those contacted, an enthusiastic committee was formed. The Fort Miami Heritage Society of Michigan, Inc. was asked to sponsor the group, help with publicity, and arrange for a place to meet. The committee decided to present four programs to show people how to trace their ancestors. Publicity was obtained through 22 area newspapers and 6 radio stations. The seed was sprouting.

            The first of four public meetings was held February 12, 1971. By the end of the series, May 14th, we had a total enrollment of 126 people and an average attendance of over 60. People came from 14 communities within a radius of 55 miles. All the work was done by committee volunteers and all expenses were met by individual committee members. No one knows how much time, preparation, work, and money was invested, and no fees or dues were accepted. The committee felt rewarded by the numerous requests for a continuation of programs and workshops, and for an organization which our old and new - found enthusiasts could join. The seed was growing!

            As a result of these responses, the committee met a number of times in the summer of 1971 and organized “THE GENEALOGICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN,” elected officers, planned a year’s program, and opened a charter membership drive at its first meeting in September 1971.

            The seed has grown into a blooming plant and is about to bear fruit in the form of this, our first newsletter named “THE PAST FINDER,” one year after the date of our first public meeting, February 12, 1971, and six months after we organized. To date, we have 56 charter members. This is your organization and your newsletter. Only with the volunteered sharing of our talents and experiences can we succeed. Volunteer to do what you have the time and ability to do and — stretch a little! Grow with us to in experience and many jobs will get done. How many seeds can we sow? How much fruit will they bear?

            In order for future ancestor hunting to be possible, records must be preserved, cemeteries surveyed, news items clipped and filed, census records and books indexed, etc.

            I am sure many of us feel like one of our original committee who said “If you asked me to do something, I’d say, “I’m too busy, but I’m volunteering.” Your officers are grateful to our young editor who volunteered just when our plant needed water to bear fruit and who proposed its name: “THE PAST FINDER.”

            With our plant growing nicely, I found an article in the November 1971 Genealogical Helper, page 459, that probably would have stopped me if I had read it one year sooner.

            We hope you will prize this first fruit of our seed, share the contents, but preserve the complete copy for future reference. If you do not want it, please return it to your president. Others may be asking for it.

Mrs. Victor A. Reisig, President
The Genealogical Association of Southwestern Michigan
8 February 1972