Donna Cooper

Donna Cooper

Donna Cooper

Here, below, is a little bit about the background that I have as a genealogist.

It was in 1965 that the genealogy bug bit me in a way that the wound would never heal. 

After that initial bite, I had dreamed of having a formal genealogical organization and so one day I stopped dreaming about it and started working on a way to make it happen. In 1971, along with the help of another person or two, the Northwest Arkansas Genealogical Society (NAGS) was organized.  

It was a lot of fun and as the first president, there were many things to do. As an organization, we established bylaws and started publishing a quarterly publication. Then later on after those first two years as president, I went on and served as the editor for the Backtracker, which was the quarterly publication that we had started. It was a small publication but was jammed packed with lots of good things. 

I helped the group to grow and to be an established organization because at the end of the first two years we had around 500 members. It was during my term as president that our main project kicked into gear. We began the massive work of canvassing all the Benton County cemeteries. It was a good training ground for me, I mean, considering what I am doing now as coordinator of the Barry County Web Site. Cemeteries got in my blood just like the genealogy bug did and would never let go. 

So it was then, back in the 1970's, that we began printing in book form the cemeteries of Benton County - and sold the books - took the money and started a library. That library is a nice sized one today and houses many wonderful genealogy books. This was another part of my dream that I made real with the help of many people. I am very proud to have been a part of that process. During those years I passed the genealogy bug around to as many people as I could infect and so by then our group was really growing. 

It was also during those early years of my family research that I became a member of the Mayflower Society and of the DAR. My Mayflower ancestor is Governor William Bradford of Massachusetts and my DAR ancestor is Eliphlet Collins from Connecticut. As proud, as I am of my New England heritage I am equally proud of my Barry County, MO heritage and it is there that I honor my Civil War soldiers and tell of the dreaded bushwhacker who hid out in the hills and hunted my ancestors down like thieves in the night. 

In Barry County, MO, I have two family lines that go back 7 generations and of course, from my grandkids that is a total of 9 generations. In addition, I can proudly say that with both my mother and father's family, for at least 5 generations back, my family has lived in Barry County, so I am probably related to most of Barry County if not directly – then indirectly in one way or another.  

And later on, that same genealogy bug that had infected my life so completely, took over in a greater sense and so I started doing professional research and my work included doing complete family lines and knocking down brick walls. Some of the projects that I tackled took a year or two to complete. And that professional side of genealogy helped to widened my scope and open my eyes to the world of research as it is to other people.  

During those early days of learning I studied American Natives, Quakers, in detail, the Puritans, and also dug through mounds of English parish records. It was with the understanding of the Indian treaties and other Native American records that I learned that I have both a Cherokee and a Creek in my family background. 

A few years ago I authored several books of which most are now out of print. Those books were Barry County Pioneers I and II, Haddock Heritage - Editions 1 through 5 and Mills Heritage.  

Now days, I am helping others find their heritage by being the coordinator of the Barry County Web Site. The genealogy bug that infected my life has been with me now over 40 years and so I expect I'll take it to the grave with me. But when I am gone I will always be remembered for my love of genealogy and that it was caused by that awful bug bite.