Three recognized by museum for history work

PARKERSBURG – One local photographer and a couple involved in genealogical research were recognized in Parkersburg at the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History on Sunday afternoon.

Friends and family of longtime area photographer Paul A. Borrelli and researchers James and Janet Lockhart of Coolville, Ohio, gathered to pay tribute to the combined efforts of all three individuals as a working part of history.

The trio, along with 48 others in the state of West Virginia, were honored during the History Day program and ceremony in Charleston on Feb. 21, put on by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

Dina Braniff, Regent with the Blennerhassett Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), said the local group was glad to honor such distinguished members of the preservation of history.

“They’ve really done this all their lives,” said Braniff. “We’re so happy to honor them and have them here.”

Janet Lockhart said the couple took up genealogy research as part of a family effort.

“The names we have date back to 1900,” Lockhart said. “Now we have close to 400,000 names.”

Lockhart said the couple volunteer at the Parkersburg/Wood County Public Library to help the local community get in touch with its roots. They have taken care of families in many surrounding counties including Jackson, Wirt, Roane, Wood and Kanawha counties, she said.

“We still get new people, you never know where you’re going to connect (people),” she added.

The Lockharts aren’t biased on helping people on both sides of the river, Braniff said.

“When we can’t help it really hurts us,” Lockhart said. “But we have a lot more records now than when we got started.”

Braniff said the local DAR chapter holds various events including Project Patriot where the group gives American flags to local school children after they learn the Pledge of Allegiance. She said the group also sends items to women in the military that the general public may not think to send.

Bob Enoch, president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society, was in attendance to honor his friends and fellow historians.

“Not only have we become great friends,” Enoch said of Borrelli. “We as a historical society appreciate all you’ve done.”

Borrelli said he appreciates the honor and doesn’t feel he deserves all the fuss.

“I appreciate it very very much and I just wish that my father were here to take part in it,” Borrelli said of his late father, Vincent, who started the ArtCraft Studio at 519 Market St., in 1925. “I appreciate it more than I can even say; it’s enjoyable.”

Braniff said having the local trio honored meant giving the recognition to hard-working individuals.

“Mr. Borrelli has done several programs for us, he’s always freely granted his time to show Parkersburg and the history he has captured through photography,” Braniff said. “And some of the work (the Lockharts) have done, they have over 400,000 names that all connect in a database; they hear a name and they immediately start thinking ‘Well who is that going to connect to?'”