TAYLOR COUNTY—It has been said that in order for a community for to know where they are going, they must first know where they have been, and one local organization is working to ensure all Taylor County residents and guests know of the county’s rich past.
The Taylor County Historical and Genealogical Society is a community organization who strives to support historical and genealogical issues, projects and events throughout Taylor County.
It is the mission of the Historical Society to construct an organization that will serve the interest of its members, as well as, all others who may have concern for the history and genealogy of the County.
Not only does the society work to ensure that the past is never forgotten through the preservation of documents and pictures, but they continue to work on their building, a rich piece of Taylor County history itself.
Housed in one of the area’s most memorable and notable buildings, the Merchants & Mechanics Bank Building, the society is determined to protect and preserve any buildings, exhibits and information of the historical and genealogical nature as deemed necessary for the enjoyment of future generations.
“We just want the residents of Taylor County to know that we are making strides in the upkeep of this historical building,” shared member Olive Ricketts. “Although people might not see us, we have never stopped with our efforts to work on the building.”
In addition to clean up and organization efforts, the society has reached out to the state for funding that will ensure the building’s former beauty is brought back to life.
“We are currently waiting for the state to send us approved grant funding that will help us put a new roof on the building,” she explained. “But, the most exciting piece of that is that it will allow us to replace the witch’s hat. Once those two things are taken care of, we can continue work on the interior of the building.”
The society’s collection of historical documentation has been gathered over many years, and has recently undergone some organization.
The Society’s collection, combined with the Taylor County Public Library collection, includes over 1200 volumes, microfilm, pedigree charts and family group sheets. The collection includes local cemetery records, Taylor County birth, death and marriage records from 1853-1980 on microfilm, along with Census records and indexes for Taylor County and other West Virginia counties. With the combined collections, Taylor County provides one of the best local genealogical and historical collections in the area.
“Our collection is being organized and ordered to make it easily accessible,” Ricketts revealed. “In addition, we are also working on our new book and hope to have it ready by next year.”
Not only does the society focus on the county’s past, but is also looking toward their future. Teaming up with local organizations such as the Taylor County Arts Council and the Taylor County Collaborative Family Resource Network, they often take part in Grafton’s monthly First Friday Events, opening their doors for presentations and sometimes even movie nights.
This year, the Taylor County Historical Society once again teamed up with the Taylor County Arts Council, hosting their first ever youth-run art gallery, TCAC Jr.
The society works to preserve Taylor County’s past, helping to ensure that it is on its way to a bright future. For those interested in helping with their mission, the Historical Society is always welcoming new members, who can join in their efforts of preserving the area’s rich history.
“Because of the virus, we have not been able to fundraise as much as we normally would, and that coupled with the need for new members has caused our general fund to run short,” Ricketts shared. “We would love to see our members come back together and would be happy to welcome new members to the society.”
Memberships can be purchased, and Annual Membership fees are as follows: individual memberships are $20.00, $30.00 for couples residing at the same mailing address and $15.00 for children under 18 years old. All membership fees are due January 1 of each year.
“Membership dues and donations can be mailed to the society at 107 West Main Street, Grafton, WV 26354,” Ricketts noted. “We are working hard to preserve the past and look to the future, but funding has become a major issue. We would appreciate all the help we could get.”