W. A. G. S. 35th Anniversary Celebration   



Plaque with names of Charter Members presented by Linda Fluharty.


Wheeling Intelligencer
September 11, 2005

WHEELING - Members of the Wheeling Area Genealogical Society put away their books and dusty documents Saturday for a celebration to mark the organization's 35th anniversary.

The group members gathered for a catered luncheon meeting at the Ohio County Public Library, drawing about 50 members and guests.

Historian, author and Wheeling native Linda Cunningham Fluharty, who was guest speaker for the event, said little information is available on the early years of the organization.

However, she said its roots began with a group that took a six-week genealogy course through Oglebay Institute in 1970.

A short time later, the group began holding meetings.

Fluharty presented a plaque to WAGS President Adda Thornton, which bears the names of the known members of the early group.

The plaque will be displayed at the library. Organization members serve as volunteers for the library's Wheeling Room, an area housing records and publications dealing with the history of Wheeling, Ohio County and surrounding areas.

Bill Maxwell, a Wheeling Room volunteer and current treasurer of WAGS, pointed out the group has donated $18,500 worth of funds, new publications and rebound books for the library.

Library Director Dotty Thomas expressed her appreciation to the group.

"We could not operate the Wheeling Room without you. We appreciate how committed you are to expanding our resources," she said.

Thomas said plans for moving the Wheeling Room to the first floor and expanding it were on display for a time but have since been shelved with the status of the former Social Security Building uncertain.

Northwood Health Systems, which holds the deed to the property, has indicated a willingness to sell the property and move its proposed unit for homeless individuals to another site.

Thomas has previously expressed concerns over current parking availability and noted the resources would be further strained with a Northwood facility so close in proximity.

"Everything is on hold until we know the status of the (former) Social Security Building," she said.

Mike Baker, a member of the library's board of trustees, expressed hope that the group will grow and expand.

"History is one of the main attractions we have in this area," he said, noting the importance of history and tourism to the area's economy.

Margaret Brennan, president of the Wheeling Area Historical Society, said she admires the group.

"I've turned to the group in times of need. You are workers; you are doers. I personally want to say thank you and extend personal gratitude," she said.

Thornton, who was a member of the original group, said she was fascinated with tracing people back to other countries. However, a new job, remarriage and five teenagers in the household prevented her from continuing with genealogy at the time.

It was not until after retirement that she found time to "get more involved," she said.

A retired teacher, Thornton said she began researching her family's history when her parents were "long gone."

She said she would like to turn youngsters to family history, possibly providing them with notebooks to gather information from parents, grandparents and other relatives now "before it's too late."

Thornton has traced her grandfather's resting place to Sand Hill in Marshall County and Mount Union Cemetery. His is the last remaining tombstone in the cemetery, she said.

"He was a trustee of the church when they paid $1 for the land," she said, noting Mount Union Church once stood adjacent to the cemetery.

     According to an article in the LOOKOUT, June 2000, by Evelyn Renshaw, the Wheeling Area Genealogical Society was founded on September 22, 1970. The following were the CHARTER MEMBERS:

Charles Fortney, First President
Helen Hartlieb
Helen Knierim
Ruth Moss
John Nation
Marie Nelson
Jessie Price
Evelyn Renshaw - First Secretary
Eileen Shemenski
Marcella Steinman
Audra Wayne
Lib Woods
Monroe Worthington