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The monthly Root Cellar genealogical society meeting attracts attendees to the Sylvan Community Center in Citrus Heights. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
With classes, seminars, tools and monthly workshops held in Citrus Heights, a local genealogical society has been helping family members trace their roots for decades.

Formed in 1978, Root Cellar meets monthly at the Sylvan Community Center in Citrus Heights to discuss ways to piece together a family tree. The group has over 100 members and assists residents with tracing family histories, utilizing software tools, records searches, and genetic testing.

Founding member and current advisor Glenda Lloyd told The Sentinel in an interview following the group’s March 16 meeting that the name “Root Cellar” comes from a 1979 Sacramento Bee article by Stan Gilliam describing the organization.

The organization has also developed a library with over 6,000 volumes of genealogical reference books that is housed in the Secretary of State building in downtown Sacramento, Lloyd said.

The interest in tracing family histories started in her twenties, Lloyd said. With a background as an elementary school teacher and reading therapist, Lloyd has also taught adult education in genealogy for the San Juan school district.

At 84, she continues to help others fill gaps in their family tree. The first step is talking to immediate family members, Lloyd said. From there, she said birth, marriage, and death records provide more clues. Newspaper articles also fill in the details.

Lloyd said one of her students found a news article that helped her fill in some details about one of her own ancestors who was murdered.

“I have an ancestor who got shot and I presented this at one of the classes I taught,” she said. “And the lady who was sitting right here went home that night and found all this newspaper stuff that essentially gave me that trial almost day by day, word by word.”

Lloyd said some members have discovered who their biological father was, or have traced their ancestry back to the Mayflower.

Through teaching beginning and intermediate classes in genealogical research, Lloyd said it is a positive influence for many people.

“It keeps them involved and keeps them doing research,” Lloyd said. “And if you have lots of stress in your life, it’s really nice to take your mind and put it somewhere else… You’re working at something that’s a positive focus.”

Root Cellar is planning their first seminar this spring since the pandemic put a stop to in-person gatherings for several years. The event will feature nationally known genealogy expert D. Joshua Taylor and will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 29 at Fair Oaks Church.

The group also continues to hold monthly workshops at the Sylvan Community Center, located at 7521 Community Drive. Workshops held on the third Thursday of each month are free and open to the public, with meetings held from 2-4 p.m. Other meetings are also held, with events posted at rootcellar.org.

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