Local genealogist shares her exciting family find at Payne County Genealogical Society meeting June 15


The Payne County Genealogical Society (PCGS) meets Thursday, June 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the Stillwater Public Library with special speaker Shawn Irons, who through serendipity and research was able to locate her long-lost father. The program will touch on Irons heartwarming journey and reunion with her father and the resources she used to find him.

“I never thought I would be able to find information on my biological father,” said Irons. “I was stuck in my search, but one day I was taking my dog on a walk when I noticed the loud noises of a newspaper flapping as it was run over by the traffic. I picked up the newspaper and saw an article containing new information on retrieving Oklahoma birth records.”

The article, from the Jan. 16 edition of the Oklahoman, introduced OK2Explore.health.ok.gov, a new website from the Oklahoma Vital Records which indexes Oklahoma birth records 20 years or older and death certificates five years or older. Under certain qualifications explained on the site, searchers may be able to purchase copies of the certificates online through VitalChek.

Luin Leisher and Mary Alice Foster

Using information from the site, Irons was able to track down her father in Texas and reunite with the man she had not seen since she was two years old. Irons says she wants to shares her story to help inspire others not to give up on their genealogy research.

PCGS President Mary Alice Foster wanted other potential genealogists to hear Irons story to encourage community members to join PCGS, which formed in 1986.

“New sites like OK2Explore are the types of resources we find and share at our meetings,” said Foster. “Each month, we explore new resources and new ways to approach genealogy searches.”

The group meets on the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at the library. Until this year, meetings were suspended over the summer break, but the group will hold meetings on July 20 and August 17 to assist community members and each other on their genealogy quests.

“Anyone who has an interest in finding out more about their family is welcome to attend,” said Foster. “We are glad to help people get started, but we enjoy helping people on advanced genealogical issues too. We are definitely the people to come to when you hit a roadblock in your research.”

Theo Yoast and Trish Cobb

Researchers are also invited to get assistance from the library’s volunteer, Theo Yoast, who staffs the genealogy room on Tuesdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Both Yoast and PCGS members are also willing to make appointments for free one-on-one assistance at other times of the week. The volunteers assist researchers with both online and print material.

“Online research has become a huge help in genealogy,” said Luin Leisher, PCGS treasurer and longtime genealogist. “But a full and accurate genealogy search does not just rely on internet material.”

According to Leisher, less than 10% of genealogical records are online. That means that researchers who want to put together a successful family tree must learn to use offline resources as well

“Online research can be very complicated,” said Leisher. “For every answer you find, you also uncover a new question. PCGS members can help you with those questions by directing you to the best online and offline resources and more importantly, by teaching you how to analyze and interpret the information you find.

PCGS meetings and assistance are free, but community members who visit the PCGS meetings may choose to become full members. Dues are $15 a year and go to purchasing genealogy resources for the library which help others, especially beginners, in their genealogy pursuits.

“Ultimately, people doing genealogy research are trying to answer questions about themselves,” said Leisher. “Through research, you find out not just who your ancestors were, but how their lives have influenced your own and have made you the person you are. Finding these answers becomes a great passion.”

For more information about the Payne County Genealogical Society, contact the library Help Desk at (405) 372-3633 x8106 or askalibrarian@stillwater.org.  Follow PCGS news by going to https://www.facebook.com/payneokgenealogy.

Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. (the corner of Duck and 12th Ave.). Library hours are MondayThursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.