Our Members and Visitors
Our organization, formed in 2003 as a 501 C (3) non-profit, has grown from a dozen members to more than 350 in 37 states and Canada. We have had visitors from all of these states as well as Canada, England, Switzerland, Germany, and Australia. We serve the public five days a week.
Resources for Southwest Virginia Genealogical Research
Our library has grown from a few books to more than 1400 and provides the best collection anywhere for any researcher looking for family in Southwest Virginia. When we started the organization, the avid genealogists among us spent hours in the courthouse copying original records and publishing books of births, deaths, marriages, wills, deeds, surveys, school records, and Freedmen’s Bureau records. The number of books published since the beginning is eighteen, with new ones on women voters in 1920, and a book of obituaries and articles on accidental deaths and murders from local newspapers. We received permission to reprint the books done by Clifford Canfield, so have information on German ancestors as well as Criggers, Hounshells and Rosenbaums, who have their own volumes. We also provide access to other books with information on Southwest Virginia families, so that visitors have access to at least 80 volumes. Maps of several kinds are also available for research and for sale. Visit our online store to see the selection.
Many photos of people, places, houses, iron furnaces as well as schools and churches are currently cataloged and available for research, with more than 6000 photos available. More than 18,000 inscriptions from tombstones from the county cemeteries and funeral home records from 1909 through 1946 help researchers to establish birth and death records. We have approximately 35,000 marriage records covering the years 1790 through 1968 that were copied from the originals found at the courthouse. These are available for research and copying.
In 2014, we became known as a Regional Research Center because of our extensive holdings of many of the Southwest Virginia counties. These include Augusta, Botetourt, Fincastle, Montgomery, Wythe, Bland, Smyth, Pulaski, Grayson, Carroll and Washington counties. We also have information on nearby counties in West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
Documenting First Families of Wythe County
One of our major programs, First Families of Wythe County has enticed more than 179 applicants to officially document the residence of their ancestors in Wythe County prior to December 31, 1810. We now have more than 300 applications documenting 147 original settlers of the county. Some families, such as the Repasses, Kegleys, Clines and Fishers have been documented multiple times through different lineages. More than 500 illustrations pertaining to some of these families were presented to the public at a quarterly meeting of the Association. They were well received and are available for research and copying.
Four meetings of the Association are held annually, and speakers on a variety of history and genealogy subjects add to our knowledge of the local area. Once a year we sponsor the Family History Institute, an all-day conference held at Wytheville’s state-of-the-art meeting center. The Family History Institute brings local, state and national speakers who are specialists in their field. About one hundred people attend from at least a dozen states.
Serving the Genealogical Research Community
What do we charge for a visit? NOT ONE PENNY! We do not charge to assist you at the office, but if you need the services of a professional genealogist for specific purposes, such as lineage societies, we have three people available who may be able to assist you for an hourly fee. Copies are available for a minimum charge. We love to see how far you travel to be with us, and those of us who are lucky enough to meet our “cousins” are thrilled to know our new relatives.
Virginia Genealogical Society Commonwealth Award for 2016
The Wythe County Genealogical and Historical Association (GHA), Regional Research Center in Wytheville, was recognized as a deserving winner of the Commonwealth Award for 2016. This award, given by the Virginia Genealogy Society, recognizes genealogy societies in Virginia for performing outstanding service in the promotion of genealogical study. Achievements in this area include maintaining a genealogical library, preserving local records, improving genealogical education through special projects, and producing scholarly publications.
On April 30 the certificate was presented to Mary B. Kegley, current president of the Association, with thanks “from the genealogical community for living up to your motto, ‘Preserving history for future generations.’” The conserving of materials and making them available for researchers with ancestors from Southwest Virginia is the ongoing goal of the organization.
The Association, chartered in 2003, has produced eighteen publications, has more than 1,550 published books in their research library as well as more than 4,300 photographs of people and places of the area. Regular genealogy classes have been offered, and an annual Family History Institute has been held in the spring of each year with outstanding speakers and topics of interest for genealogists as well as historians. Offering membership in the First Families of Wythe County and preserving valuable records in the archives in their office at 165 S. 11th Street has brought them many compliments.
In receiving the award, Kegley recognized the twenty–four volunteers, who support the non-profit organization locally, with two more in California who assist with the web site, and when it snows two more show up with shovel and plow to clear the parking lot. These individuals make the genealogy organization one of the best in the state. In addition, she proudly reported that between 2008 and 2014 the Association raised $339,504.80 from individuals who were members and friends making it possible to buy and pay for, without any government money, the building at their present location.
Liz Groseclose of Wytheville, one of the volunteers who accompanied Kegley, attended the presentation following the luncheon at the spring conference being held at the Library of Virginia. They were greeted by retired archivist, Cathy Reynolds, who served the Kegley Room at the Wytheville Community College Library for many years. Others included Mr. and Mrs. Bill Sprinkle, regular attendees at the Wytheville conference, retired State Archivist Conley Edwards, board member Clay Hamilton, Barbara Vines Little, editor of the VGS Journal, and military expert Craig Scott.
Support Our Work
Donate today to support the continued work of the Wythe County Genealogical and Historical Association. We are proud to report that our success, our inventory, and every item in our new building, and the building itself, is paid for in full. This has been possible because of generous members, friends and interested citizens from all over the country, and because of our wonderful volunteers who keep the office open five days a week. But we still have improvements we’d like to make, resources to add to the collection, and electric bills to pay. Please help support this important work to preserve the past for future generations.