Ancestor Swap Meet set for April 17-21


By Chris McCarthy


The Northeast Alabama Genealogical Society will host its 13th annual “Ancestor Swap Meet” on Saturday, April 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Senior Activity Center in Gadsden. 

The Ancestor Swap Meet is a unique opportunity for genealogical researchers from around the nation to get together and trade research information about various families.

The N.E.A.G.S. headquartered at the historic Nichols Memorial Library in Alabama City near the former location of the Dwight Cotton Mill.

The event is sponsored by the Northeast Alabama Genealogical Society and the Gadsden Public Library.

Genealogist and NEAGS recording secretary Wayne Gregg said the swap meet is a great networking tool for family researchers.

“When people go to these swap meets, they never know who they will meet. In many instances, people meet other people who happen to be researching the same families. 

“In other cases, we get to share information about the sources available for researching out-of-state facilities, such as the North Carolina Archives, ” Gregg added. 

Chris Meekin of the North Carolina Department of Archives and History will be the guest speaker for Saturday’s event. Meekin will speak about the material available at the North Carolina archives and how to research it. 

Gregg said the North Carolina Archives is very important in the field of family research.

“North Carolina was the state from which most every person in the south [emigrated] from. Whether the [emigrants] went to the Deep South territories or states via Tennessee, South Carolina or Georgia, they had to go through North Carolina. The [North Carolina] state archives probably has more family files than any state in the south. It’s a major crossroads for anyone researching family history in the south.”

Lindy Martin, Ph.D. is another speaker slated for Saturday’s event. Martin is a staff member of Samford and Auburn Universities. Martin is a former Principal Chief of the Powhatan Tribe and is involved in the development of the Cherokee Tribes in Northeast Alabama and is currently serving as Outreach Consultant for Mountain Brook Baptist Church. Martin also serves as an Outreach Consultant for questions concerning research of Native American ancestors.

NEAGS treasurer and swap meet chairperson RoseMary Hyatt said that many free events are scheduled throughout the week at the Nichols Library in order to help people research their genealogy.

On Tuesday, April 17 a free beginners genealogy class will be held at the Nichols Library. The course is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On Wednesday, April 18, a presentation called “Welcome to 1940” will be held from 9:30 to 11: 30 a.m. at Nichols Library. The presentation is an overview of the recently released 1940 United States Census. Volunteers will be available to assist patrons in navigating through the census. There will also be a “Grave Dowsing” course at 1 p.m. at Bethany Baptist Church Cemetery in Reece City. In the event of rain, the presentation will be held at the Nichols Library.

The 1940 United States Census was released earlier this month and covers over 132 million people. Gregg said this census is very comprehensive.

“It’s like two censuses in one,” Gregg said. “It has much more information about families and neighborhoods in it [than previous censuses]. It gives information about 1935 in it. The census takers asked more questions to get more information.”

On Thursday, April 19 from 10 a.m. until 3 a.m. the Nichols Library will be open for research for all patrons and volunteers will be available for assistance. 

On Friday, April 20, Meekin will offer a program on the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and also a research workshop. Other events will be scheduled on Friday morning and will be announced later. 

“We decided to reach out to the community last year and give away free courses,” Hyatt said. “We want to promote genealogy and family research anyway we can. We need more local support.”

Vendors will be on hand during the event to sell genealogical and historical books.

Hyatt said any person participating in the Swap Meet on Saturday will be provided coffee, donuts and a hot lunch.

For more information about the Ancestor Swap Meet, contact Rose Mary Hyatt at 256.490.4683 or Interested individuals may also visit 

Joshua Price contributed to this story.

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