President’s Message

from the November 2004 CCGS newsletter

Dear members and friends of CCGS,

It is time for members to step up to a leadership role in CCGS. Election season is upon us and all of us are tired of the same old leadership, and those same old leaders are tired. Why is it so important to keep local genealogical societies alive and well? We have distributed enough material to libraries to keep researchers busy for years. Can individuals not learn about their family history in Chautauqua County on their own, as well as with the help of society membership?

While I ponder these questions, I am faced with the sadness of losing two very important members of our society. Phyllis Quackenbush and Dr Elbert Phillips were, and are, testimony to the worth of CCGS membership. In their quest for knowledge of ancestors, these two touched many of our lives and gave us help and encouragement in our own searches.

If Phyllis Quackenbush had never become a member of CCGS, I would never have come into possession of priceless family photos and other artifacts. Phyllis married into a connection of a family that had a connection to my family. She recognized my family name on an envelope in a box ready to be thrown away. These items and photos that had no meaning to her family, but because of our CCGS surname list, she knew they would be important to me. Though we will not see her again at a monthly meeting, each time I look at my photos, or even at the images in the Personal Ancestral File on my computer, I send kind thoughts in her direction. I know each of you could tell such a story of the valuable networking that takes place in every local genealogical society.

I never met Dr Phillips in person, but felt a close acquaintance with him and his family. To my knowledge, he was never able to attend one of our meetings. But he was an ever present working member and contributed so much to all of us. Many of us talked with him by telephone or communicated by e mail. He contributed articles for our newsletter, and placed many families histories in our library. He was tireless in looking up information for those who asked questions. He never expected or accepted compensation for his work, but we all gave him our sincere gratitude. I hope you had a chance to read his obituary. This impressive chronicle of a full and useful life appeared in many papers in the communities that he touched. I want to include here just one paragraph from that obit the way it was submitted by his family. His love of family and history inspired him for over 30 years to research his family genealogy (“collecting dead relatives”). He spent his retirement years doing wood working, reading, bird watching, gardening, and enjoying grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Genealogists will smile when they realize that every one of the newspapers who published the obit omitted the information in parentheses. We include it here as our special memorial to Elbert. His family requested that memorials in his honor be sent to CCGS. We are touched and very grateful for this opportunity. We are making plans to use these funds to edit and prepare his family histories for publication in sturdy bindings. These will be made available for research by others. His families included: Phillips, Warner, Crowell, Gibbs, Clark, and probably others still to be collected from his computer files.

For these two, and others who have touched our lives, we must keep our society a strong working organization. Please help us interest younger family enthusiasts to take our places. And please volunteer for those important leadership positions that we need to fill. Don’ t wait to be asked. Ask if you can help.


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