Through their common interest in Genealogical Research, two ladies met and exchanged their discoveries pertaining to the ancestors they shared. During several phone conversations they each expressed a desire to fill a need for local data center to which those with an interest in their routs could meet and obtain necessary facts to complete their family history gaps.
Sue O’Dell Moore from Enterprise and Patti Ashcraft Hickman from North view, Ashcraft and Criss cousins, decided in 1981 to do something about the void existing within the County and as a result, phone calls began. For Harrison to be one of the oldest counties in the state of West Virginia and to lack a genealogical organization was almost disgraceful. During this time another Ashcraft cousin, Sharon Ashcraft Snider from Bridgeport, Who had also spent many hours on the phone with Hickman comparing, adding and deleting information to her files, showed her enthusiasm and offered to help.
Mary Virginia “Gin” Davis Sprouse was an old and dear friend of Hickman’s mother, Alice Walker Ashcraft (Hall), and she, like Patti’s mother, had married her high school sweetheart, Perry W. Sprouse who was a first cousin to Patti’s father, Lester Burke Ashcraft.
Gin was already hooked on genealogy and she and Patti visited many courthouse together gleaning information on their lines, but all the while realizing something needed to be done to remedy the unfortunate situation that prevailed within their own area.
One winter morning in November 1983, the four ladies met for the first time at Hickman’s home, sipped coffee and exchanged ideas. It was decided that Moore and Hickman would meet with Merle Moore, director of the Clarksburg-Harrison Library, and seek permission to hold monthly meetings at Waldomore for the purpose of forming a local genealogy club.
Miss Moore granted permission and word was quickly spread inviting interested persons to attend the initial meeting. Approximately 11 people came. The following month the constitution was adopted, a by laws-committee was named and the first officers were elected, Sue Moor was the first president; John Nuzum vice-president; Sharon snider, Secretary-treasurer; and Patti Hickman was elected the first corresponding secretary. The Harrison County Genealogical Society was born.
The first book committee chairperson was Gin Sprouse and the first surname list was computerized through the efficient work of Sue Moore.
Although the first few years were spent basically holding monthly meetings, most members redeemed the limited time allowed at Waldomore to reach and exchange data with others.
During this time a luck of funding forced libraries nationwide to cut back. Consequently Waldomore suffered in that the librarian-curators’ limited hours meant closed doors to researchers, many of who traveled cross country to avail themselves to its resources. Recognizing this problem, our own good people stepped forward and volunteers were utilized (after orientation) to fill the gap.
Another need was met in the form of a society newsletter edited and produced by John Nuzum for several years. John is also to be commended for the countless hours he spent poring over eye-straining census records n their original form to produce the excellent 1900 and 1910 Harrison County Census publications which were placed in book form and are sold by the organization.
Left to Right
Virginia Sprouse, Patti Hickman, and Sue Moore
at the Harrison County Genealogical Society 20th Anniversary Celebration held at the Caperton Center of Fairmont State College in Clarksburg, WV