History
St. Mary's County Historical Society
 
Prepared by: Al Gough
 
       The Saint Mary’s County Historical Society was founded October 25, 1951.  Colonel Norwood S. Sothoron served as the Society’s first president. The Chronicles of St Mary’s was first conceived by our second president, Charles E. Fenwick. With the able assistance of his wife Laverne and a publication committee the first monthly issue of the Chronicles of St. Mary’s was published in June of 1953.
      In September of 1963 the St. Mary’s County Historical Society was awarded an honorary membership in the Ohio Genealogical Society for the publication of the Chronicles and its work in the field of local history and genealogy.  The Chronicles were described by the Ohio Genealogical Society as “one of great time, effort and worth” and offered their congratulations on its excellent content and presentation.
       During Mr. Fenwick’s 19 year tenure as president (1952- 1971) the Society grew from some forty members to 800.  Other highlights during this period included the establishment of the popular quarterly dinner meetings with outstanding speakers; the acquisition and restoration of the Old Jail in Leonardtown, built in 1876, as headquarters of the Society; the micro-filming of old county records, the St. Mary’s Beacon  and St. Mary’s Enterprise newspapers and early County land records; a compilation of the County cemetery records; the enlargement of the Society’s library facilities and many other accomplishments.
      Mr. Edward Warfield Beitzell became editor of the Chronicles in 1956 and during his four decade tenure (1956 – 1983) the published issues of the Chronicles began being bound for sale.  Throughout this period the faithful indexer of the Chronicles had been Mrs. Hilda Cheseldine.  The Chronicles have provided a valuable resource over the years.  Mrs. Regina Combs Hammett editor of the Chronicles (1984 -1995) found them invaluable while writing her History Of Saint Mary’s County, published in 1977, a project sponsored by the St. Mary’s County Bicentennial Commission.  Today, thanks to the efforts of Pete Himmelheber, a member of the Society’s publication committee, the Chronicles have all been digitized.
 
 
SMCHS Officers

Presidents
Year President
1951-1952 Norwood S. Sothoron
1952-1971 Charles E. Fenwick
1971-1974 Thurston H. Baxter
1974-1977 J. Spence Howard
1977-1981 Frederick L. McCoy
1981-1995  Joseph A. Dillow
1996-2002 Richard C. Gass
2002-2006 Mary (Polly) Combs Barber
2006-2007 Richard C.Gass
2008-2011 John Hanson Briscoe
2012-2014 John Roach
 
 
Editors, Chronicles of St. Mary's
     1953-1956 Charles E. Fenwick
1956-1996 Edwin W. Beitzell
1996-2006 Al Gough
2006-2009 Scott Lawrence
2009-present
Committee of Susan Wolfe; Father Rory
Thomas Conley; Al Gough; Peter
Himmelheber: Susan Erichsen, William
Moody: Lucas Anderson
                 
                 
Last Update {PAH} 10 Feb 2014