Remembering Mary Utting, A Beloved Member

Olde Meck was very saddened to learn of the recent passing of one our most respected members. Mary Emogene Utting died at Sharon Towers on Friday, July 15, 2022, at the age of 95. Her memorial service was held at Covenant Presbyterian Church at 2:30 pm, Saturday, July 30th.
Mary was a key member of Olde Meck for many years. Her impressive contributions to us include the following:
  • Recording Secretary from 2000 through 2010.
  • Co-editor (with Ellen Poteet) of the award-winning Quarterly journal for 14 years.
  • Received the Excellence in Periodical Publishing Award from the North Carolina Genealogical Society in 2004 and 2010 for her editorial work on our journal.
  • Awarded the Claude Hunter Moore Journal Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians “for valuable contributions made toward the collection, preservation, and perpetuation of North Carolina History.” This award was received by the co-editors five times from 2007–2011.
  • Major contributor to the Elmwood Cemetery Project, including helping to organize the survey teams and editing the final copy, all of which took 10 years to complete and resulted in the publication of five books.
  • Editor of the Olde Meck Messenger, monthly newsletter, for six years.
  • Recipient of both the Greenlee Lilly Award and  the Order of 1775 award from our society.
  • She was also our unofficial parliamentarian, keeping us all aware of the society bylaws and responsibilities, and keeping our meetings in order.
  • Mary was always willing to help staff any Olde Meck events.
We owe her a great debt of gratitude for setting high standards of our group and ensuring that we upheld them. As such, she was largely responsible for our reputation for excellence.
Mary was born in Saranac Lake, New York. After graduation from high school in Saranac Lake and Cornell University where she received a BA in English, she worked for the Miami Daily News (FL), 1948–1955.
In 1955, she joined The Charlotte Observer (NC), where she spent more than 18 years, serving as Women’s Editor for 13 years. She then became the National Director of Women in Communica-tions, Inc., in Austin, Texas, 1974–1983, and finally worked as an editor at Texas A&M University, College Station, until her 1997 retirement.
In 1998, she returned to Charlotte, where she joined Olde Meck. She also was an elder at Covenant Presbyterian Church and volunteered on many church committees. As a member of the Charlotte Writer’s Club, Mary served as the editor of their newsletter. She was also a member of the Mint Museum and the Cornell Alumni Association of Charlotte, for which she interviewed many applicants to the university.
A quote from Mary, upon receiving one of her editorial awards:
As a retired professional editor, I believe that Ellen and I are trying to adhere to high standards of publishing, genealogy accuracy, and excellence in what we print. I strongly believe that genealogy today requires the highest standards and documentation.

Blackwelder Files Offer a Wealth of Information

Olde Meck Volunteers have completed the initial task of going through the impressive collection of genealogical materials donated by Linda Blackwelder. Linda has been a prolific researcher in the Steele Creek community of Mecklenburg County for many years. In addition to doing research for hire, she also compiled the book, Steele Creek, an Early History of the Steele Creek Community, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
Over the years many Steele Creek families have shared their information with Linda, in addition to her own research. We are grateful Linda has entrusted us with her files so that even more people can benefit from her efforts.
Here is a list of the folder headings from her files. If you find something you'd like to explore further, either come by the Family Research Center or contact us at

Ferguson Errata
Mecklenburg County, NC, Will Abstracts, 1791-1868, Books A-J
If you purchased a copy of Herman W. Ferguson's Mecklenburg County, NC, Will Abstracts, 1791-1868, Books A-J, from Olde  Meck, and it did not have a loose copy of the “Errata” in the front, you may wish to print this Errata page and insert it. Ferguson made these corrections in 2010, but some copies sold after that time may not have had the page of “Errata.”

Genealogical Offerings at NC State Archives

For our June meeting, we enjoyed an informative overview of the offerings of the North Carolina State Archives, presented by Alison Thurman. Alison provided this NCSA Handout which you may download. Thanks, Alison! Contact with questions.

FRC Research Visit Results in Serendipity!

Olde Meck volunteers were recently having a productive day assisting Myra Rodgers, a researcher visiting from Texas. At some point, it came up we were looking for a new home for our microfilm reader and printer. Myra perked up, saying her local library back home would love to have it. Within the hour, the microfilm reader and printer were loaded into her daughter’s SUV and headed to Honey Grove, TX!
Myra has sent word that it made the trip safely and is up and running at the Honey Grove Library & Learning Center’s Local and Family History Room. They’ve already used it to discover that one of their unmarked rolls of film is actually a copy of the first deed book in Fannin County!  
We are pleased we were able to find a wonderful new home for something we were not using. Come on over to the FRC and see what adventures you might have! We are open Tuesdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and other days by appointment. Email to schedule your visit.

Organizing Your Genealogy Research

Does your genealogy area look anything like the picture here? 
If so, you may want to view the recording of Olde Meck member Lynn Bancroft's talk Organizing Your Genealogy Research
This is an updated program from one she gave to Olde Meck in 2019 and was presented at the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) Black History Month Conference. Lynn discussed useful hints and presented a sampling of different charts which can also improve our efficiency. Based on ideas from many genealogy experts, she described how the following tips may be helpful:
  1. Keep the big picture in mind.
  2. Designate a workspace.
  3. Take charge of paper files.
  4. Establish an organization routine.
  5. Go digital.
  6. Use Additional Charts
  7. Create a kit for on-site research.
We are sharing the recording here in the hopes it can provide some tips for all of us to better organize our research.
(1) Click Start Button below to begin. Be sure to view in Full Screen (icon at bottom right of video)
(2) Go directly to the YouTube video, click Organizing Your Genealogy Research

UNC Charlotte Instruction Archivist Shared Genealogical Resources
At our February meeting Randi Beem, Instruction Archivist at UNC Charlotte’s J. Murrey Atkins Library spoke to us about the resources available for genealogists in their Special Collections and University Archives. The collections  include manuscripts, the university's records, rare and unique books, maps, and oral history recordings. Ms. Beem explained what resources are most interesting to genealogists as well as which are available online. She also shared interesting success stories from past researchers.
Given the closure of the Mecklenburg main library for construction, it's a great time for researchers to investigate what is available through the library at UNC Charlotte.  Contact the Special Collections section of the library at for more information or to arrange an appointment. 

Newspapers Online

Katie Grafer presented our January program about how to use historic newspapers to assist in genealogical research. In her presentation, "Extra! Extra! Getting Clues and Context From Historic Newspapers," Katie shared many tips about how to look beyond the obituaries and wedding announcements to help guide your newspaper research. She explained the other types of useful information that can be found in old publications, including public notices, social columns, and even advertisements. She gave specific examples from her own research that allowed her to ‘connect the dots’ on elusive ancestors.
The following list of websites may help you find historic newspapers:

Olde Meck Awards for 2021

At the December Holiday meeting, President Jeff Houser presented the two awards given annually by Olde Meck:
(1) The Order of 1775
The Order of 1775 is the highest honor awarded by Olde Meck and recognizes long term service and dedication both to the society and the practice of genealogy in Mecklenburg County. This year's award was presented posthumously to Lionel Demming Bass, Jr., known to members as L. D.
L. D. was an accomplished genealogist who was especially passionate about preserving Southern and Scottish history. Mr. Bass ... 
  • Served as Olde Meck President in 1993.
  • Was also a Director, Vice President, and Program Chair.
  • Was instrumental in establishing the Hopewell genealogy group.
  • Was an avid supporter of Historic Rural Hill and the Loch Norman Games, coordinating Olde Meck’s presence there for many years.
  • Wrote numerous articles for our Quarterly journal.
  • Participated in Olde Meck project in local schools, appearing in full Scottish regalia, to the delight of the students.
  • Similarly, appeared in costume at many other venues for Olde Meck, at Senior Centers, Meck Deck Day celebrations, etc. or just random Olde Meck meetings!!
L. D. passed away on October 3, 2017 in Charlotte, NC at the age of 81. 
(2) Greenlee Lilly Award 
President Houser then awarded the Greenlee Lilly Award for 2021 to Lovenia Summerville. Named in honor of the society's first president, this award is in recognition of a member who has contributed significantly to the society within the past year and is selected by the current society president.
Lovenia is a retired librarian who has been a faithful volunteer at our Family Research Center, taking charge of cataloging our collection of books, journals, etc. This year Lovenia was one of the first to return when the FRC reopened after the Covid shutdown. She has been tirelessly working to incorporate the many donated titles we have recently received into our library database. She is always willing to share her wealth of knowledge about Mecklenburg families and assists us with the many local library resources she is also familiar with.
We are extremely fortunate to have Lovenia as an essential part of our team and congratulate her on a well-deserved honor!

Navigating Mecklenburg County Deeds

Video Tutorial
Deed records can provide a wealth of information to fill out our ancestors' stories but can oftentimes be difficult to access. We are excited to announce an addition to our website which will make the process of finding valuable Mecklenburg land records easier than in the past.
As part of her internship for a course in her Masters of Library Science program at East Carolina University, Ann Martin, now an Olde Meck member, has recently completed a helpful video tutorial to walk users through the process of accessing the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds website. If you have Mecklenburg ancestors and have ever wanted to view old deeds and land transactions, this video will facilitate your journey.
Ann describes the basics of deeds, what they consist of, and how they can help with family research. She then provides easy to follow navigation through the Register of Deeds website using a specific example.
(1) Click Start Button below to begin. Be sure to view in Full Screen (icon at bottom right of video)
(2) If you want to go directly to YouTube, click Navigating Mecklenburg County Deeds
We hope you will find Ann’s video tutorial useful and search for the deeds of your ancestors. Please feel free to give us feedback on this new feature.

Picture Formatting Suggestions

Below are links to YouTube videos created by Louise Nottingham, leader of the Olde Meck Writers' Group. They are designed to help you format photos and images of documents that you may want to include in a Microsoft Word family file:
  1. Corrections Tool
  2. Grouping Tool
  3. Placements Explained
  4. Screenshot Clippings

August 10
Finding Your Roots Using Library Edition
Learn how to get started using the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's free access to and a multitude of online resources. Dive into census records and many other public documents to find your family.   Details and registration at: ...
August 10
August Meeting - DIY Photo and Media Organizing for the Genealogist
Kimberly Melton, owner of Visual Story Media, will help us learn the art of photo organizing so that we can better keep and share our family memories.  
August 18
Discover Your Roots: Advanced Genealogy
Having trouble finding that elusive relative? Join Librarian, Shelia Bumgarner with the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room as she attempts to assist you and a small number of fellow researchers to attempt to find that ancestor. Together, you and the group will assist and ...
September 7
African-American and Native American Research
Live Webinar with Angela Walton-Raji, presented by the North Carolina Genealogical Society. On the topic: African-American and Native American Research Full details and registration coming soon!
September 17
Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective
The South Orange County California Genealogical Society is hosting Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective® for their annual Fall Seminar on September 17, 2022!  Maureen teaches how to dig deep into your family photographs to tell the story of your ancestors and preserve ...