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Digging up roots for 50 years: Genealogist honored by local historical society


Leora Gerber, of Kidron, continues to do research for people and add to the database in the Roger N. Geiser Family History Library at the Kidron-Sonnenberg Heritage Center.

KIDRON  Leora Gerber believes in the slogan: “Bloom where you are planted.”

She certainly has done that since moving to Kidron just over 50 years ago.

While she helps a computer-based genealogy database branch out – nearly 690,000 names and counting – she helps others dig deep to find their family’s roots. She has been able to find up to eight generations based on some individual’s names.

“I can do this all day long,” she said with a smile last week, seated behind computer screens in the Roger N. Geiser Family History Library at the Kidron-Sonnenberg Heritage Center. “It’s like putting a puzzle together. You get the names and ancestors so you can make an eight-generation chart.”

Gerber and president emeritus Wayne Liechty recently were recognized at a thank-you reception for their years of work for the Kidron Community Historical Society and also to mark their retirement.

Although she decided not to serve another term on the KCHS board (after serving since the late 1980s) Gerber’s not quite ready to hang up her keys to the history library yet. She will continue her genealogy work and adding to the database. Also, she continues to volunteer to help the society with membership, accessioning and other duties.

When her term was up last year, Gerber said that it was time and she wanted someone younger to replace her so Diane Miller now has her place on the board. Other members include Art Neuenschwander, president; Steve Gerber, vice president; Richard Nussbaum, treasurer; Gloria Kaufmann, secretary; acquisitions chair, Fritz Sprunger; and Diane Sommer, member. Dick Wolf is the Heritage Center Director, Ray Leisy is Sonnenberg Village Manager and Judie Nussbaum is the Bit o’ Vit editor.

Roger Geiser, the library’s namesake who still resides in Kidron and also continues to do genealogical work along with the eight-generation charts, began the database in 1995. He helped to found and is a life member of the Swiss Anabaptist Genealogical Association, which continues to grow along with the databases. The 2019 meeting of the association was in Kidron. More than 50 geneaologists from around the country regularly contribute to 58 databases, which contain more than 6.4 million records. The group began in 1995 by David L. Habegger, according to the website, “as a way to bring together geneaologists working on Anabaptist families.” Members are from dozens of states and multiple countries, according to

Anyone can purchase a membership through a form on the website to have access to the entire database. Also, an appointment can be made with the Kidron Community Historical Society, or anyone can stop by during business hours to research the library with its thousands of volumes of history of the Amish and Mennonites, as well as the database.

Read the complete story in the Nov. 24, 2021 edition.

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