President of genealogy society helps others with research

Jaynell Chambers remembers wanting to learn more about her grandparents' lives after listening to them talk about their childhood.

She began researching her family tree, and now the president of the Mohave County Genealogical Society helps others research their own genealogy.

"Learning about the lives of my parents and grandparents, and other relatives, told me so much about them, and also about myself," Chambers said.

"Our families, the times in which they lived, and the events that shaped their lives are an important backdrop for our own lives, and the key to our future."

Chambers said collecting, preserving and passing on information about families allows future generations to know about Mohave County pioneers and long-time residents.

Through the genealogical society Chambers she was able to trace her husband Rick's family back six generations to when they immigrated from the Dutch Islands to Ellis Island - the chief entry station for immigrants to the U.S.

- in the late 1700s.

A piece of history from her own family revealed itself while the family was renovating a bedroom.

"In the insulation we found a waded up piece of newspaper with an article about my uncle Paul Howard who had won first place in a rodeo contest.

He was a bronco rider and all-around cowboy," Chambers said.

"When I called the family in Phoenix they said they had no other written information about the event.

"It was a piece of history for my family."

Most families' histories are not found by accident, however, and take time and research through hundreds of genealogical books available at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts museum.

Chambers said people can do the research through the Mohave County Genealogical Society with the help of a society member.

The society, founded in 1978, is dedicated to collecting and disseminating genealogical and related historical information.

Society members hold a public meeting at 1 p.m.

the second Wednesday of each month at the Museum of History and Arts.

Maintaining genealogical, historical, economic and social records can be a daunting task that requires the cataloging of books, maps photos, dates times, names and places.

Throughout the years the society has embarked on several projects, the first of which was to create and computerize burial records for the Mountain View Cemetery from 1915 until the present.

In addition, members compiled information about Mohave County pioneers buried in the Pioneer Cemetery from 1900 until 1917.

"It was an immense project," Chambers said.

"The records are updated every six months."

Another project, in which museum volunteers gathered information from newspaper microfilm and other recorded data, involved the listing of mines in Mohave County from 1886 to 1918.

"Most families are weaving a powerful tapestry of their families history without being aware of it," Chambers said.

"Each of us has stories - like family heirlooms that we pass along from generation to generation."

Chambers said families can begin recording their own family history by keeping a journal; interviewing family members and writing down the answers; playing detective with photographs; and discovering clues in family paper, including letters, recipes, diaries, diplomas, invitations, newspaper clippings, ticket stubs and even weather reports.

History can also be uncovered in the attic through clothing silver, furniture and works of art.

Irma England will be a quest speaker at the monthly society meeting at 1 p.m.

Wednesday at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts.

England works at the family history center at the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints (LDS) in Kingman, where thousands of family records are kept, and where records from almost anywhere in the world can be accessed from the family history center in Salt Lake City.

"Some people have traced their ancestry back to medieval times," England said.

"We can go back as far as 700 AD."

Tracing the family tree doesn't cost much, just the price of microfilm if it must be shipped from Salt Lake City, she said.

However, the process is time consuming, and can take years to complete a family tree, depending on how far back one is willing to go.

"One person's extensive research turned up the fact that they were related to someone that was a sailor in Germany," she said.

"In 1580 a sailor was a rope maker."

England's presentation for the society also includes a follow up meeting at the LDS Church at 1 p.m.

April 30.

To learn more about conducting a genealogical search through the Mohave County Genealogical Society call 753-1159.