Some visitors and patrons of McClintic Library in Marlinton may not know that the library has a most interesting little room tucked away from its shelves of books, movies and music.
When McClintic Library was built in 2001, William P. McNeel and the late Jane Price Sharp, former editors of The Pocahontas Times and descendants of William T. Price, stepped in to encourage the addition of a Genealogy Room – a temperature controlled space to preserve census records, historic documents and family histories of the people of this county and the surrounding area.
Shortly after the Genealogy Room was completed, librarian Pam Johnson took an immediate interest in it.
Johnson has been working in the county’s libraries since 1996, and moved to the McClintic after it was built.
“I had a friend give me the book Historical Sketches of Pocahontas County, and she told me that I should read it because I was related to the people in the book,” Johnson said. “After reading it, I was hooked. That was back in 1990, so when I heard what was going to be put in the new library, I was instantly intrigued. I started studying my own genealogy and history. And someone that really got me into the history room was Bill McNeel. He has such a wealth of information about the families from this area, and that was when I started trying to help people research their past.”
The library has a wealth of genealogical information as well, and many people come there researching their roots and are astonished by some of the information they find in this little room.
“I love to help people,” Johnson said. “I usually try to focus on either one or two people at a time, because it takes an extreme amount of researching to find information on some of these people. It usually requires that your family members owned land here, to have been born here, to have died here, married here, mentioned in someone’s will, be in the census books, had an obituary in the paper, had an article in The Pocahontas Times, served in the military, or various other reasons that would make them show up in some sort of record. It also helps if you have the names of your parents, your grandparents, and your great-grandparents, and if they left here, when it was that they left, or where they lived. And I can’t stress enough that you know the correct spelling of the names, as some people have similarly spelled names. For example, I was helping a guy who was looking for Slayton family members. But it turned out that the spelling was actually Slatin, not Slayton. So, the more information you have about your family or the person you are looking for really helps me in the search.”
The room contains all sorts of historical books and texts, ranging from the 1790s to the present. Most of the books belong to the Pocahontas County Historical Museum, but are housed at the library for convenience and preservation. Several editions of West Virginia Census books, along with various other state census books can be found there. In addition, there are records of wills, births, deaths and marriages from the 1820s forward. It has an extensive collection of obituaries on micro film from the records of the Pocahontas County Clerk’s office and digitized editions of The Pocahontas Times from 1883 to 2002.
“I once helped a fellow from Australia,” Johnson said. “He traveled all the way here, to Pocahontas County, because he was in search of Josiah Brown. He had a small amount of information about him, and we set out to find everything we could. It turned out the Josiah Brown was my fourth great-grandfather, so in a way, we are related. And an interesting little side note, we found Josiah Brown’s will, and it never mentioned his wife by name, he only called her ‘the Old Woman,’ and we found out where his grave and tombstone are. I have also helped many women find their military family members, and helped them get into the Daughters of the American Revolution.
“Even though I try my hardest, sometimes I just can’t find the information people are looking for. One thing I simply can’t do is find information on Native American heritage. It’s nearly impossible to find records of Indian descent around these areas, and it seems like everyone says that they are somehow related by Indian blood. But we do have many online resources available to expedite the process, such as ancestry.com, WV Ar-chives, and familysearch.org
“I love doing this for everyone, and I will be glad to help anyone looking for information. Now, I do work full-time here at the library, and I don’t always have time to do it right away, but I always take people’s information and do some research whenever I have some free time. I also want to state that we do accept donations, as it is costly and time consuming for some of these processes. But I will always have time to help people find information about their history. There is just so much stuff here in this room, that I always tell people that they will just have to come in and see it for themselves, and go through some of the books to find their family heritage. Other libraries brag about our little room, and I definitely love it.”
McClintic Library was recognized as the #1 Rural Library USA in 2003.
It is located at 500 Eighth Street in Marlinton. The library is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Wednesday and Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Contact them at 304-799-6000, or email PCFL Director Cree Lahti at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brandon Nottingham may be contacted at email@example.com