STARKE COUNTY – Since 2011, Audrey Kinezian has served as the Starke County Genealogist. Beginning Sept. 1, that changed when Lori Smith took over the role when Kinezian retired.
You might know her as co-owner of MC Smith Funeral Home, but she’s had an interest in genealogy since she was a child.
“My mother, when I was a child, she used to drive through cemeteries looking at graves,” said Smith. “And she had traced her family back to a Revolutionary War veteran. It just stuck with me, doing that traditional research.”
She joined the genealogical society in Starke County over 20 years ago when she first moved to the area.
She said that when DNA technology progressed, her interest in the field soared.
So much so that she rose to become president of the Starke County Genealogical Society.
“I’ve been doing educational classes for almost a year now in the county,” she said.
Genealogy is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of lineages.
Typically, a genealogist will use various methods including historical records, genetic analysis, oral interviews, and other records to obtain information concerning a family.
“They basically help people,” Smith simply states.
Going further on the matter, she says that “most people just have a question about where the residents within the county may have lived, what roles they had in the county, burials, births.”
She added that those people may have more complex questions about tree building or figuring out a family pedigree.
“What we do is go from known to unknown. And that’s where we help you. We start with that known and we take a look at records and build that tree out then,” she said. The role of a genealogist isn’t one of guesswork either. It takes hours of research to confirm sources to build that family tree.
When Kinezian decided to retire, as the county genealogist, it was her job to learn about her fellow colleagues in the county and to see if any of them could succeed her.
“And Lori won hands down. There was just no contest involved,” stated Kinezian. “She’s got more experience; she follows the guidelines we’re supposed to follow.”
Smith hopes to expand the interest in the field by holding more classes about it.
When asked about why the public should be interested in Genealogy, Smith stated that knowing where the history of your family is well worth the hours of research.
“It’s good to know where you came from. To have facts,” she said.
“You can’t know who you are unless you know who they were,” Kinezian added.
For more information about the subject, or to meet with Smith visit the Starke County Historical Society on Thursday from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m., Friday, from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. You can also contact them at 574-772-2111.
The Historical Society is located at 1520 S. Heaton Street in Knox. They can be followed on Facebook by searching for “Starke County Historical Society.”
“To me it’s a passion and I live to help people. So, I think it’s a natural fit for me,” Smith said.
“It’s been a great joy to have done this for the past eight years. A total complete joy,” Kinezian said.