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Virginia Barden takes Society to Press

From a handout in a 1997 CCGS newsletter.

No one is more responsible for the success of CCGS publications than Virginia W. Barden. Our first publications flyer featured two flagship offerings: A Guide to Chautauqua County Cemeteries and Burial Sites, and Earliest Holland Land Company Sales in Chautauqua County, New York. The primary author of each of these was Virginia W. Barden. The success of this first offering led to a flurry of publication activity and to the current CCGS listing of 65 titles.

Long before her association with CCGS publications, Virginia was at work collecting family history information for the benefit of others. Her readings of several cemeteries and extractions of church records were already in local libraries. She had peered into every corner of the county court house to produce a card file of genealogical gems. These projects were updated by CCGS to produce her books: Town of Ripley Cemeteries, Gleanings and Gleanings II.

It was Virginia, with Jack Ericson, who located and went after permission to extract the records from the early days at the County Home and Infirmary. This work resulted in the two volume publication: The Chautauqua County Alms House and Asylum and its companion, Emigrants Aided in Chautauqua County, NY 1853 1876.

It was Virginia who, determined to make more accessible the nine scrapbooks that Clayburne Sampson had donated to the County Historical Society, spent two years at her computer organizing the information from these clippings of obituaries, wedding announcements and other family highlights into her book, Mostly Ellery.

And it was Virginia who got husband Paul (and a couple of other volunteers) to go through and organize those boxes of school records stored in the attic of the county History Center at McClurg Mansion. Then she insisted that we get started extracting the valuable genealogical information contained therein. This prodding has led to 18 books of extractions of these records with four more nearly ready for publication. These records, covering the years 1878 through 1908, have become a valuable alternative to the missing 1890 census. Three of these: Ripley, French Creek and Sherman were completed by Virginia.

During her tenure as Publications Committee chairman, Virginia has led us to choose one cemetery each year to read and record the inscriptions. A team would then explore other documentation for this cemetery and prepare it all for publication for the enlightenment of family historians. Virginia and Paul did this for Phillips Cemetery located just over the Pennsylvania state line in the township of North East. Though small, Phillips may be the most complete record we have for any cemetery.

In addition to her books, Virginia authored, or played a part in developing, several of the more important features that have appeared in our quarterly, The Chautauqua Genealogist.

Also to her credit, Virginia edited information collected by Rev. Frederick W. Kates to produce Volume II of Patriot Soldiers of 1775 1788, published by the Chautauqua County Historical Society in 1987.

In the 20 years of CCGS, only one Life Membership has been awarded that in 1991 to our much revered former president, Jack Blodgett. Today, October 4, 1997, we award the first Life FAMILY Membership in the Chautauqua County Genealogical Society to Virginia and Paul Barden. So far, we have listed the accomplishments of Virginia, but all of us know they are a team. Through it all, Paul has been more than chauffeur and gofer. He has been there helping and supporting. When things slowed down and the roadblock seemed insurmountable, his cheerful, “You can do it Gin,” would get the project going again. CCGS says thank you Virginia and Paul Barden for putting our society on the map and into hundreds of homes and dozens of libraries.

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