31 March 2011

Eastern Kentucky Genealogical Society

compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber
31 March 2011
Technology changes in the world of genealogy are increasing.  With new technology older local genealogy societies have had trouble keeping up. At their hay day these local groups were a golden link to people living outside an area to obtain information about their ancestors.

Personally, I could not wait until I received my copy of the Tree Shaker produced by the Eastern Kentucky Genealogical Society and edited by beloved local historian Evelyn Jackson.  I read the newsletter from cover to cover and with a little luck found a notation or two about one of the families I was working with. 

Today I received my final notice that the Tree Shaker and the Eastern Kentucky Genealogical Society will not continue.   The notice stated that the editor has moved out of state.  Jimmy Eppling did a wonderful job with the newsletter. He had big shoes to fill when he replaced Evelyn Jackson.  But honestly, I don't believe that his moving is the reason for the collapse of the society.  It is the times.  On line subscriptions, ebooks and even genealogy blogs have moved into new territory while the local societies struggle to keep up.

The Tree Shaker will always be a valuable tool for me and others. Much of the submitted materials were scraped together by dedicated people.  The most cherished items, in my opinion, are the extractions of local bibles in the early editions.  Bible records that would not have been published or known by later researchers are now preserved in the archives of the newsletter.

Volume 1 #1 was printed in the Winter of 1977. Mrs. Allen Hopes was president of the society and Charles A. Barker, vice president. Volunteers from the society represented the various counties, of Elliott, Greenup, Carter, Pike and Lawrence through the years.  It was their job to supply records from each of those and other counties.

Mrs. Rufus Phillips wrote "The Eastern Kentucky Genealogical Society is well into its second year of existence and we are finally getting our publication started...Many records should be abstracted and published. Cemeteries should be located and recorded.  Copies of old letters and records help to fill in the history of the area.  Old bibles are particularly important..."

The society and the newsletter fulfilled the goals beyond imagination.  They went on to produce several publications that are now golden gems in Eastern Kentucky research.  That first newsletter was a simple surname index to the 1830 Lawrence County, Kentucky census records.  In 1977 that was such a wonderful tool for researchers who had to do a page by page search of microfilm IF a microfilm machine was available.  Today - well today the 1830 fully indexed is a click away on the internet.  Yes every new technology is based on foundation stones.  These societies were the foundation stones to the way we research today.

What many may not know is that the society was also the best supporter of Eastern Kentucky's largest genealogical library holdings.  Money from dues/subscriptions and sale of books was utilized to purchase items for the genealogy holdings at the Boyd County Public Library.  And even as the society is eulogized it continues to boost the library.  The funds from the society will be used to purchase even more books for the Winder Collection of the Boyd County Public Library so that researchers from across the country can continue to be benefactors of the society.

The Tree Shaker will continue to be remembered and utilized.  Indexed in PERSI and shelved in many libraries in our country - well worn and loved in personal libraries such as my own.  

One final thought and thank you to a most beloved man, James Powers, who over the years has been dedicated to the society and newsletter.  He has mentored me, protected and loved the holdings of our library and made Eastern Kentucky Genealogy a wonderful research area.  Hats off! 


  1. Sometime around 1980 I subscribed for around three years when abruptly my issues stopped coming. Even though my subscription was paid up. I assumed that they ceased publication.
    As you imply, it was evident that it was a labor of love by a handful of people. With all the research tools available to researchers today with a mouse click I'm not sure the younger group can appreciate the joy of having such information delivered to your doorstep.
    I saved the majority of issues and a few years ago donated them to the Carter County library.

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