WADSWORTH — Beloved family tales, fading photos and personal effects tell the story of ancestors, but it is genealogy that ties all the loose ends together into a complete family history.
For the past nine years, 40-year-old Todd Yarbrough of Akron has led an informal genealogy club at Wadsworth Public Library, providing others with the necessary tools to get to the roots of their own family tree.
“We are more like a club, we get together, help each other,” Yarbrough said during a meeting Tuesday. “It started out as one Tuesday a week for three weeks and that was it, but we never stopped.”
A handful of individuals pursuing their family histories joined in on the two-hour session, where Yarbrough began by explaining some of the resources available to genealogists of all skill levels.
Herb Mullen, 82, of Wadsworth said Tuesday was his first time attending the genealogy meeting at the library, and he was interested in taking another look at his family tree.
“I did some years ago for our family, but I would like to start over and I figure the place to find out where to start was to come to the meeting,” Mullen said.
“That is what I found out, which one of the dotcoms I should use to search,” Mullen added.
Yarbrough said that he is not paid by any of the online genealogy websites.
While an expensive subscription, Yarbrough said he uses World Explorer offered through Ancestry.com.
According to the website, the service costs $200 every six months.
Eager researchers do not have to shell out the big bucks to find the information they are looking for through.
Yarbrough said familysearch.org, operated as a nonprofit service by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a free alternative.
“They are not affiliated with Ancestry and I use them just as much as I use Ancestry,” he said.
“DeadFred is for portraits, people will post portraits if they come across an old family photo,” Yarbrough said. “It is a good way to find ancestors.”
“When I started with genealogy, I was 12 or 13 and we didn’t have the internet, it was all legwork. It was all library work and searching,” he said.
Kathy Lange of Copley said during the meeting that she was just beginning to research her paternal grandfather.
“I don’t know anything about him,” Lange said. “He lived above us and I have barely any pictures, nothing from when he was growing up, from when my dad was growing up.”
Linda Smith said she has information about her relatives who were early pioneer settlers near the Maryland and West Virginia state lines and also more modern family history.
Yarbrough said genealogy research can become frustrating at times, with not being able to find any information about a specific branch in a family tree, something known within genealogy circles as “hitting a brick wall.”
“I have had brick walls for years and years, you never know when you’ll find the answer though,” Yarbrough said.
In that instance, he advises researchers to switch gears to a different branch of their family tree to keep them from becoming frustrated by a lack of information.
The important thing, he said, is to keep making progress.
“You get frustrated with genealogy, a lot of times you are going to walk away from it and you might not ever go back to it,” Yarbrough said.
“I am not that way, I was addicted from the get-go,” he said.
The Genealogy Club meets biweekly at Wadsworth Public Library, 132 Broad St. The club’s next meeting will be 6:30-9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, at the library. For information, call (330) 335-8253.