By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Robert J. Tarte founded the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, Inc. (MSOG), in 1975 and achieved his goal to establish a chapter in each county. However, only three chapters were still active when Patricia Stano-Carpenter of Marlborough was first elected president in 2009, after joining in 2004 as state membership chair. She hopes to add more chapters statewide as she continues serving as president during MSOG’s 40th anniversary.
“We did bring in two new chapters, so we now have five,” she noted.
MSOG chapters are in the counties of Bristol, Middlesex and Worcester, as well as in Martha’s Vineyard and Merrimack Valley.
“We would really love to have other chapters,” Stano-Carpenter said. “It takes 15 people to start a chapter; that’s what Merrimack Valley and Martha’s Vineyard did. We try to have the meetings in areas where there’s either the demographics or where we’re trying to interest a group of people to join us.”
She brings a lifetime of curiosity about family ancestry to MSOG, which began while growing up in Chicago.
“My mother’s parents came from Poland when it was in turmoil,” she explained. “My mom and dad knew each other since they were kids growing up in Poland. I was always curious where they came from, but nobody talked about anything at that time. That’s a common complaint of genealogists.”
An interest in genealogy resurfaced in the mid-1980s after she married her husband Jeff Carpenter. Family portraits prompted her to research his great-great-grandmother Hannah Ordway-Cunningham, who was born and raised in Amesbury.
“She was quite a lady,” Stano-Carpenter said. “She was in the first class when Mount Holyoke Female Seminary opened its doors in 1837 and she graduated in 1840. I found her graduation speech at UMass Amherst. After graduating she went to Missouri. She was recognized by the state for all her exemplary exploits as a teacher, scholar and role model. She and another woman actually started the public school system in Missouri. Here’s a woman who has done it in her own way.”
Stano-Carpenter has received vintage diaries and other family heirlooms from her mother-in-law Ginnie Knauer-Carpenter, who is 97 and lives in Florida.
“My mother-in-law is a character and my biggest supporter,” she shared. “She had things that were handed down in the family and has given them to me. She loves learning about all this. In genealogy we relive our past over and over again.”
Stano-Carpenter also treasures photographs of her late parents: Helena Stojak-Stano and Matthew Stano. One of her favorites captures them together when her mother was age 12 and her father was 14.
“They always were together,” she said. “They were independent people, who did a lot both individually and together. My mom and dad were very special to me. Now, I’ve got their stories.”
Stano-Carpenter joined MSOG to learn the process of tracing family ancestry with the most effective resources.
“MSOG educates, helps with research and promotes collaborative efforts,” she said. “We’re very fortunate to have the Internet, but don’t forget to make the visits and see the original documents. Once you begin a wrong piece of information it grows. I’m adamant about documenting sources and you must have at least three.”
Throughout more than 10 years in a leadership role with MSOG, Stano-Carpenter has observed an expanding demographic in its membership.
“The chapter presidents are younger,” she said with a laugh. “When I first joined they were all in their 70s, 80s and older. Well, I’m there now! It’s great to see this younger crowd really take hold and moving MSOG forward.”
For more information about MSOG, visit msoginc.org.