LISBON - Columbiana County court files gathering dust for more than 200 years now have a place to call home where genealogists with a penchant for the past can dig to their heart's content.
Known as the Columbiana County Archives & Research Center, the location at 129 S. Market St., Lisbon, has been four years in the making, but the information stored there dates back to at least 1805.
"What we would like to become is the repository for all the old records in Columbiana County," CCARC President Shirl Criss said.
The group incorporated in April 2005 as a non-profit corporation whose aim was to preserve and collect old genealogical records pertinent to Columbiana County, both public and private, and make them available to people researching their family histories. They've been promised numerous files held by the Clerk of Courts for Common Pleas Court and already have a lot of those files in the research center.
The files include civil cases, such as lawsuits, and domestic relation cases up to 1903 so far, criminal cases up to 1897, old court of appeals cases, naturalization records from the early 1800s to 1920 and miscellaneous files.
One book they secured is called the "Book of Strays" and includes just as the title suggests: a list of strays, including stray steer, stray cows, stray horses, stray boats...
Lisbon genealogist Kay Ikart donated her collection of books to the group - an extensive collection of family histories. The members themselves have brought in their collections of material, from family charts to compact discs containing county census records from 1820 to 1920, and they'll take any records they can get from people, including building histories, church histories and family tree diagrams.
"We're preserving the past for the future," Criss said.
They also want to work with all the historical societies in the county to learn what they offer for research so they can make referrals and tell people the best place to go for the information they're seeking.
When the CCARC board learned the space formerly occupied by the Girl Scouts was vacant, they jumped at the opportunity to finally have a building, although Criss admitted they'll probably outgrow it quickly.
"This is probably going to be a project for years to come," she said.
A dedicated group has been going through the records, which at one time were stored in the old county home and in the basement of the county jail. They're transcribing the information into file folders by name. Criss said the goal eventually is to work just from copies to preserve the documents. They're also building a computer data base.
Visitors can receive copies of information for 25 cents a page or they can pay the CCARC to do the surname research for them for $10 per hour. Criss said the research center office sits in an ideal location because it's close to the Lepper Library in Lisbon, just a block from the Lisbon Historical Society museums where old Probate Court records are stored and just two doors down from the Courthouse.
The group relies on donations and memberships for funding, along with the income from making copies or doing research. An individual membership for the CCARC costs $25 per year. Copies are made for now at Gray Kodrich Supplies, which is next door. Mary Ann Gray is a member of the CCARC Board.
The group is trying to get a copier of its own and needs more shelving.
"We're open to all donations of books - any kind of reference material at all," board member Leah Rudy said.
Monetary donations can be sent to the Columbiana County Archives & Research Center, 129 S. Market St., Lisbon, Ohio 44432.
A Web site can be visited at www.columbianacountyarchives.org.