Civil War expert to speak to genealogical society

WINTERSVILLE – Lyle Zerla, Jefferson County Civil War expert, will be the guest speaker at the June 10 meeting of the Jefferson County Chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society, after a 6:30 p.m. business meeting. He will discuss Morgan’s Raiders, and the public is welcome to attend.

The event will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Powell’s Lane.

Flora VerStraten-Merrin had put out a request for office volunteers and received three workers, but more are needed for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. The helpers will receive training to do jobs such as answering the phone, typing spreadsheets and indexes, making copies and assisting researchers who come in as patrons.

Bill and Beverly Pace, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionaries, will be leaving for their home in Utah soon. They came to the Wintersville genealogical society to digitalize the records from the Jefferson County Courthouse. VerStraten-Merrin has asked that those making their acquaintance send or drop off thank you notes for them and write any remarks on how they have assisted in preserving county records for generations to come.

These newly digitized records have been made available at

Those who need assistance navigating the site and locating county records can call the office on a Tuesday or Thursday, and volunteers will walk them through the site to locate the newest records through the first week in June.

Some of the records that can be found include:

The 1890 Jefferson County census, which doesn’t include all of the townships as that is the year most of the federal census got burned.

Delayed and corrected births.

Mother’s pension files from World War I.

Infirmary records and register from 1873 to 1933.

Probate packets/general files from 1797 to 1930.

Probate journals/dockets/inventory dockets starting at 1797.

Births and deaths from 1867 to 1907 and various marriages.

Criminal records, limited years.

Naturalizations, intentions and certificates, all inclusive.

Various other unknown sources.

Cemeteries and tombstones are another great source for birth and death information, VerStratten-Merrin said. She added that the earliest cemeteries were moved or destroyed due to mining, logging and vandalism. Many of the earliest tombstones are illegible and many early graves were not marked. Just because you don’t see a tombstone , doesn’t mean that an ancestor was not buried there or somewhere else in the county.

VerStratten-Merrin has been in all 176 cemeteries in the county in the past 12 years. She can verify that many of the oldest tombstones are gone or have been thrown into the woods, sunken in the ground or been broken and discarded. Some stones have been removed and reinterred elsewhere and never recorded and acid rain before EPA standards made them illegible.

“Pioneer cemeteries have no records, and if a searcher finds a pioneer tombstone, can consider themselves blessed,” she said.

Those wishing to renew a membership or know of someone researching in the county who might want to become a member, they can visit