Serving you: A guide to the area’s past
Washington County is rich with history, and the Local History and Genealogy Library in Marietta is a resource to help local residents explore it.
Helping to guide people through research into their families and homes and other aspects of the area’s past, is library assistant Eric Richendollar, who brings his own fascination with days gone by to his job.
Question: How did you get started at the genealogy library?
Answer: Genealogy has always been a hobby of mine since childhood. There was an opening available in the department, and I took that opportunity. I’ve always been a history buff and sort of an amateur genealogist, so when it was available, I was certainly glad to take advantage of that.
Q: What interested you in that at such a young age?
A: A lot of my older relatives, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, used to tell family stories, and … those stories were fascinating. … When you connect events in history with actual family members, you know, it seems more real to you.
Q: What are your responsibilities at the library?
A: Mainly it is patron service. We get people coming from all over the country. We get telephone calls, we get letters, we get emails, people requesting information about family members or ancestors who lived here in Washington County or this area. And we also get research requests about specific either historical events, historical buildings. We’ll do limited research for those requests and either photocopy documents or scan documents or images and hopefully help people in their research.
Q: What are the most common topics people are researching these days?
A: The majority of research is involving family genealogy, ancestors, that sort of thing. There is a significant amount that is of either historical buildings or historical homes. People move into a new house – a new-to-them-house, an old house – and want to find the history of that house and who may have lived there before and if there’s any historical significance.
Q: What’s something that’s available at the genealogy library that many people might not be aware of?
A: We do have old tax records that date back to the early 1800s. We’ve been getting a lot of people in here lately doing research (for oil and gas leasing). They’re looking for … ownership of (a) title. When the tax is paid on the land, it’s divided by range, township and section, so they’re tracing the ownership by who’s paying taxes on that property. Some of the early deeds haven’t survived, so if you’re paying taxes on it that’s a good sign that you owned it.
Q: What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever helped someone research?
A: Nothing’s really jumping out. I’m sure there must be, but after a while you don’t even bat an eye.
Evan Bevins conducted this interview.