May 23, 2012 - By C.J. Carnacchio
Local historians (from left) Jim Woon and Mary Frost are working with Addison Township Public Library Director Jaema Berman to form a new genealogical society. They’re shown here holding some historic photos and records. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Who am I? Where did I come from? Who were my ancestors? When and why did they come here?
These are questions many folks find themselves asking as they research their family histories.
A new group is forming in Addison Township to help people answer these questions along with many others.
The Genealogical Society of Addison Township will conduct its first meeting 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 6 at the township's public library (1400 Rochester Rd.).
"I've noticed a lot of people come in (the library) looking for cemetery records, records about their ancestors – people who have lived in this area, families who've settled here – and I think (creating this society) is a wonderful opportunity for people to uncover their family trees and histories," said Library Director Jaema Berman.
The society's purposes include:
n Providing help to people trying to find information about their families.
n Promoting interest in genealogy through cemetery tours and lectures.
n Preserving local documents.
n Collecting genealogical resources in print and on-line.
n Understanding and sharing the history of Addison's culturally rich community.
"We're going to try and preserve our local history, and help people who are looking to find out about their ancestors," said Mary Frost, a lifelong Addison resident and 1974 graduate of Oxford High School. "I think it's important because it gives you a sense of yourself, where you came from. Sometimes it helps you understand why you are the way you are."
In addition to decoding the past, Berman said the genealogical society will allow folks to meet, exchange ideas and share resources with others who are pursuing the same interest and possess the same passion.
"It's another great opportunity for people to get together," she said. "A lot of people are really interested in researching their family history. It's being propelled by some of these really great TV shows like 'Who Do You Think You Are?'"
Berman indicated it's important for the library to be intimately involved in this effort because "we can provide a location to meet and space for genealogical collections."
"We can collect old records and history that are specific to this area," she said.
For example, when Frost's mother, lifelong resident and local historian Helen (Baza) Binger, passed away in March 2011 at age 91, it was decided that her collection of local history would be donated to the Addison library.
"I think that's a good place to keep it," Frost said. "She wanted the collection to stay in the area, so that people could learn about the township and the Village of Lakeville. She didn't want it packed away in a closet. She wanted it someplace people could see it and use it."
Binger's extensive collection consists of a variety of items including old maps, photographs, family history, school records and history books.
Binger was a sixth-generation descendant of Derrick Hulick, a private in the New Jersey militia who fought in the American War of Independence (1775-83). Records indicate he served 24 months in the militia between the years of 1776 and 1780.
In 1839, Hulick, at age 80, moved to Addison Township to live with his daughter Mary and her husband, Dennis Snyder, who settled there in 1833 and were among the community's founding families. Hulick died on April 21, 1843 and has the distinction of being the first person buried in Lakeville Cemetery.
In addition to being related to a local historical celebrity, Binger also had the distinction of being educated at the historic Arnold Schoolhouse, a one-room facility that served students from the late 1850s until the late 1950s. She attended the school during the 1920s and 1930s, from kindergarten through eighth grade. Binger graduated OHS in 1937.
Frost is just as passionate about uncovering and preserving local history as her mother was, so she really hopes this genealogical society takes off. "I think people need to know where they came from," she said. "I'm excited that this is going to happen and we'll see where it takes us."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.