St. Bartholomew’s genealogy chapter celebrates anniversary


By Brantley Strickland

Staff Writer  (Press and Standard)


     If you've ever wondered about where you came from or had problems filling the last branches of your family tree, not to worry, because help is out there.

     Actually, it’s been here for quite some time, as the Old St. Bartholomew's Chapter of the S.C. Genealogical Society (SCGS) celebrates its 10th anniversary this month.

     "Everybody wants to know where they came from," said Sherry Cawley, a long time genealogist who is new to the chapter.  "They want to know where their people came from and how they got their name."

     The chapter, founded in Walterboro in 1992 as one of 19 active SCGS societies, got its name from an old Anglican Church parish established in Colleton in 1706.  At the time, Colleton extended into most of Dorchester County and served as an early crossroads for intrastate commerce.  As a result, Old St. Bartholomew was adopted as the chapter's official name in hopes of generating interest in much larger area of the Lowcountry.

     Judy Ballard, the organization’s first chapter president, was part of the original 13 charter members who formed the chapter after holding classes at the Colleton County library.

     “My mother wanted me to start tracing our family history,” she said.  “We started having classes at the library.  Then, 13 of us got together and formed a local chapter.”

     Now, the organization boasts almost 100 members, with 30 of those living in the county.  Of the other 70, memberships reaches as far as New York, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma, among others.

     Cawley advised that the best way to go about tracing one’s own roots is through the internet, word of mouth and cemetery research.

     “The Internet has just opened up so many possibilities,” she said.  “Another way to go about searching for your own history is to talk to every living family member you have and ask them about where they grew up and who their own relatives were.  Cemetery research is another.”

     Speaking of cemetery research, the chapter has published two books of cemeteries in the county.  Cemeteries Inscriptions of Lower Colleton County, South Carolina has been the most successful literary venture with very few copies still available for purchase.

Recently, the group has published Inscriptions of Live Oak Cemetery, Walterboro, South Carolina and is in the research process on books cataloguing the history African-American, as well as Native American cemeteries in the county.

     Ultimately, the chapter hopes to establish a local genealogical library and research center, which could develop into a center for the entire Lowcounty.

     The organization next local operation will be a workshop to be held Saturday, August 10 at LDS Church in Walterboro.

     The workshop is free to the public, and open to anyone who wishes to find out more about their family’s history.

     “We’re not having set classes or anything like that,” said Ballard.  It’s come when you want and leave when you want.”


From:  Press and Standard dated July 30, 2002 - Page 1 and 2