GRANGEVILLE Sour lemons sometimes do have a way of making the best, sweetest lemonade. This recently rang true for the Idaho County Genealogical Society (ICGS).
When the new Grangeville Centennial Library was built — through the efforts of a community fund-raising drive and grants — in 1964, it wasn’t long before the facility had a regular resident.
The ICGS was officially established in 1975 and was housed in the basement of the library. When the city built adjacent to the library, the police department soon needed extra room. The library traded spaces and ICGS was moved upstairs to a room where it remained until January of this year.
“We received a notice from the mayor in 2016 that the city needed the space and we would have to vacate,” explained ICGS member Myrna DeHaas. The group would have to find a home for all of its materials.
DeHaas said she had exhausted many avenues — as a non-profit, the group did not have rent money — and thought they were going to have to split up the items in the room and store them at different members’ homes.
“Then I called [former GCL librarian] Linda Ruthruff just to see if she had any ideas,” DeHaas said.
That’s where the sweet lemonade comes in.
Ruthruff suggested DeHaas talk to Jeff and Sally Payne, as she had utilized the basement of their Idaho Street house (formerly Jeff’s office space when he was a practicing attorney prior to being appointed judge).
“She thought perhaps they may have some room in the basement still,” DeHaas said.
She made the call and the relief was quick.
“The Paynes said they would be glad to have us in the space,” DeHaas smiled. “My prayers were answered.”
Members packed up the room – more than 80 boxes in all, plus the microfilm reader, shelving, desks and more – and the city moved the items to 111 South Idaho Street Jan. 2.
“I want to thank these ladies here who volunteer regularly and who dropped everything to help unpack and get everything in order,” DeHaas said of members Linda Junes, Jeannette Lester, Toni Baker and Jeannie Hafer, who were all gathered at the new building last week.
The facility has access for persons with disabilities (a ramp to get in to the office), a room for the microfilm and microfiche readers, a small meeting area, foyer, office, bathroom and space for maps, books and all the additional ICGS materials.
Idaho County Genealogical Society
GRANGEVILLE – The Idaho County Genealogical Society is located at 111 South Idaho Street, Grangeville, and is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 1 to 4 p.m.
ICGS currently has 15 members. Lucile Taylor was the charter member who is still part of the group. ICGS does research (births, deaths, marriages, burial locations, etc.) for those who inquire. This has been handled by Dorothy Eimers for many years; however, she recently retired. The group’s other members will continue to assist in this resource.
ICGS meets the second Wednesday of each month, 9:30 a.m., except for June, July and August. This year, the group will host an open house during Border Days, Saturday and Sunday, July 1 and 2, 1 to 4 p.m. each day. The group encourages the public to stop by and see their new home.
The March 8 meeting will feature a presentation by Eileen Uhlenkott of Cottonwood who will present a talk on the Mt. Idaho area.
Donations of county documents and books are accepted (including annuals from county schools). In addition, the group could use a couple of wireless access computers, a printer, a copier and microfiche items for the machine recently donated to them from the county. ICGS is a 501(c)3 non-profit and donations are tax deductible.
New members and volunteers are always sought and can stop by during open hours to inquire about opportunities, or simply attend a meeting.
“The Paynes are paying for the utilities and providing the space for us, and Jeff even comes down and shovels the walks when there is snow,” DeHaas said. “We just cannot thank them enough for their generosity.”
The ladies agreed the space is more than they ever dreamed of.
“We even have Wifi, which is something we have not had before,” said Baker. However, the donation of a newer computer with wireless access is needed.
ICGS has a vast amount of information for research purposes, including vitals (birth, death and marriage abstracts as well as county and state death indexes), various miscellaneous scrapbooks and IOOF and school records and funeral home and cemetery records from Idaho County. The Idaho County Free Press, 1886-present, Grangeville News, 1902-1906, and Grangeville Globe, 1907-1922, are all available to view on microfilm, as well as the Cottonwood Report, Camas Prairie Chronicle and Cottonwood Chronicle (1893 to present) and Kooskia’s Idaho Mountaineer (1909-1912) and Kooskia Mountaineer (1912-1942).
One new addition are the yearbooks from throughout Idaho County and beyond.
“We have quite a few from all over the area, and are glad to have people come in and look at them,” Junes emphasized. Yearbook donations are also accepted.
In addition, a variety of non-county resources are available including federal and Idaho census information, state genealogical quarterlies, many books and information from other states (including New York, New Jersey, Vermont and Missouri, to name a few), Normal Hill Cemetery information (Lewiston), maps of early Idaho, regionally authored books and a large set of national books to help one discover their heritage from other countries.
Though DeHaas first fought the initial move from the library, she said she now understands the blessing in disguise.
“We could not be happier, and we are excited to have people stop by and visit,” she smiled.