Our humble beginning started in early 1979 when Fred and Dorothy Sutton were at the Western Reserve Historical Society doing some geneaiogical research.  While they were there they met Gertrude McGowan, a long time genealogist, who found out that they both lived in BrecksvilIe. She suggested starting a chapter of Ohio Genealogy Society (OGS). The first meetings were held at the Sutton home.

In early April of 1979 Gertrude then placed an ad in The Sun Courier, the local paper covering Brecksville, Broadview Heights, and Independence, asking for telephone calls from persons interested in forming a genealogy group. Before April was over a meeting was held at the Brecksville Library with about 15 in attendance.  Louise Gillis, representing Area 7 of OGS, was invited to discuss forming a local chapter. Gertrude McGowan was elected temporary chair. The bylaws committee was formed which included Molly Brandum, Fred Caplinger, Dorothy Sutton, and Patricia Whaley.  At the June meeting, Louise Gillis returned to install the following officers: Dorothy Sutton, President; Gertrude McGowan, Vice-President; Patricia Whaley, Recording Secretary; Lorraine Scott, Corresponding Secretary, and Patricia Butler, Treasurer. The chapter was called Brecksville-Cuyahoga Chapter of OGS.  The monthIy newsletter was soon designed with the title “Footsteps to the Past”, and 50 copies were mimeographed each month.

In September of 1979, with the help of Lorraine Scott, the meetings were now being held at the Cuyahoga Valley Joint Vocational School, the second Thursday of each month. Early speakers included Dr. Judith Cetina, curator, Cuyahoga County Archives; Clifford Wig, President of OGS; and Barbara Musselman, of Fairview Park Library.  Dues were pro-rated for 1979. According to the board meeting minutes of August 21, 1979, persons who paid dues prior to August 15, 1979, would be considered charter members. The records of charter members was lost, but include Mary Brandum, Patricia Butler, Fred Caplinger*, Ruth Cozzens*, Janet Dobay*, Betty Hoffman*, Kay Hostetler*, Dorothy KutIer*, Gertrude McGowan*, Woody McGowan*, David McGowan, Julia McGowan, Patricia Miller*, Patricia McNamara*, Virginia McNamara*, Lorraine Scott*, John Scott*, Dorothy Sutton*, Fred Sutton, Patricia Whaley, and Walt Zimlich. (*Deceased)

Then beginning in January 1980 dues would be $5.00 for an individual and $7.50 for family memberships.

At the end of nine months the founding members had given birth to a lively group of people very excited about doing genealogy and had grown to 25 members.

In May 1980 at the State OGS Convention Fred Sutton became our first member inducted into “First Families of Ohio” and the Brecksville-Cuyahoga Chapter received its official OGS charter.

That was the beginning, as this information was extracted from Pat Whaley’s minutes written during the summer of 1979 and from the first annual President’s report written by the late Dorothy Sutton.

In 1988 the name was changed to the Cuyahoga Valley Genealogical Society, had grown to over 130 members; and in 1989 received its Certificate of Incorporation from the State of Ohio to be become a non-profit organization to promote genealogy, and received a 501 (3) (c) designation from the Federal Government.

Reprinted from “Footsteps to the Past” 2008 – Special Edition.