A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MANATEE GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY **
When Mrs. Richard (Rose) Sowden moved to Bradenton from Michigan and learned there was no genealogical society, she gathered together eleven persons interested in family research and the Manatee Society for Genealogical Research was born. The first meeting was held January 15, 1974 at the Carnegie Library. Workshops were begun for those searching in certain geographical areas; also, an obituary file of death notices from local papers was established.
By the end of the first year the society was donating books to the public library. In 1975, the Manatee County Court Records were to be destroyed, because they had been microfilmed. Through the efforts of Dr. William Hatt and Mrs. W. C. Geer, the Florida State Department of Archives authorized the County Clerk to turn over these records to a committee of members of several patriotic groups, the Manatee County Historical Society, and the Genealogical Society. Volunteers from each of these groups spent many hours sorting and cataloging these records.
Major Arlen Wells and Jean Baither organized a group in 1978 to survey and record the cemetery inscriptions in Manatee County. This work took about five years. Jean Allin and her committee prepared the information for publication in the book, Cemetery Inscriptions of Manatee County, Florida 1850 – 1980.
In the fall of 1978 the name of the organization was changed to Manasota Genealogical Society since members were drawn from both Sarasota and Manatee Counties. On February 9, 1979 Florida Secretary of State approved the application of the Manasota Genealogical Society for incorporation as a non--profit organization (through efforts of Mr. George Kimble). On February 17, 1979 a group of area residents met in Sarasota and organized a genealogical society to be called the Genealogical Society of Sarasota. The group had 43 charter members with Betty Styer, President. The regular meeting datewas set for the third Saturday of the month. Our local region now had two genealogy societies.
The Manasota Genealogical Society was beginning to outgrow the meeting room at the Carnegie library and, since the Manatee County Central Library opened in 1979, the Society moved its meeting place to the new Library auditorium, and this meeting place continues to this day. The Carnegie Library was renovated and is now the Historical Records Library housing the above-mentioned court records and other materials..
Early Manatee Marriage records were copied and published in the MGS Newsletter (CRACKER CRUMBS) while Lucille Ford was editor. A contest was held in 1984 to give the newsletter a name and Mabel Schneider’s entry, CRACKER CRUMBS, was selected. Indexing Queries and Answers columns from the Hartford (Conn.) Times was undertaken by Jean Baither and her committee. The index cards are on file at the Central Library. Members submitted their five-generation charts to Margaret Witte. These charts are in a binder at the Central Library Genealogical Section and are available to any interested persons.
The book, Censuses of Manatee County 1850 – 1860 – 1870 – 1880 – 1885 – 1895, was published in 1985 with Mabel Schneider as chairperson. A celebration was held May 1, 1985 to announce the availability of the book. Catherine Ramsey was in charge of the occasion, which also observed the belated 10th Anniversary of the Society.
In June of 2011, the name of our organization was changed from Manasota Genealogical Society to Manatee Genealogical Society to better reflect the geographical community that we serve. We returned to the "Manatee" designation as given in our original founding name.
(More MGS History to be added later)
Past Names of MGS
Manatee Society for Genealogical Research (1974 - 1978)
Manasota Genealogical Society (1978 - 2011)
Manatee Genealogical Society (2011 - present)
**Eary history taken from an article by Peggy Wetsel published in the MGS Cracker Crumbs, Vol. 9 No 1 (March 1986)