Mormon couple in Stark to copy 200,000 court records

“It’s important to know where you came from”—Cindy Stimmel

By Jim Nowlan
[email protected]

The News sat down with this comfortable couple recently at the Stark County Genealogical Society offices in Toulon, where they have set up shop and are taking images of about 12,000 records a week at a special vacuum table created by Rusty.

The sum of much of our lives is recorded at courthouses across the country. Probate is the legal process by which a court determines the appropriate disposition of all that we had at the time of our passing.

To accomplish this requires much paperwork—wills, inventories, appraisals, debts, legal notices in papers like this one, guardianship and paternity determinations (once called bastardy), and court dispositions for people who die intestate (without a will), and more.

Rusty Stimmel is shown here at his vacuum table where he and Cindy Stimmel take images of about 12,000 pieces of paper every week(!) from Stark County probate records going back to 1847.
Rusty Stimmel is shown here at his vacuum table where he and Cindy Stimmel take images of about 12,000 pieces of paper every week(!) from Stark County probate records going back to 1847.


And this public information is invaluable to professional and amateur genealogists.
“You can’t know yourself if you don’t know your ancestors,” notes Rusty, a retired radio-analytical chemist (one who evaluates radioactive elements in the environment).

And Cindy chimes in, “It’s important to know where you came from.”

Because of this, the Stimmels applied to their Mormon Church to go on an 18-month mission in support of the work of Family Search, part of the incredible genealogical research trove of their church.

This missionary service is not required by the church, “But the church believes in service,” notes Rusty, “and this is service.”

“By applying for an 18-month mission rather than a shorter one,” says Rusty, “we were hoping to get a foreign mission, but we didn’t.”

“But Stark County is kind of foreign to us,” adds Cindy, with a big laugh.

The Stimmels have already devoted six months to copying marriage records in two Cook County court locations and, most recently, six additional months in nearby Hennepin at the historic courthouse that serves Putnam County.

Marian Purtscher invited Family Search

According to Rusty, a county has to invite Family Search to send a team into the county to copy records, which Stark County Clerk of the Circuit Court Marian Purtscher did.
The Family Search then does inventory of the county’s records to see if what it has is worth doing and, if so, a team (almost always a retired couple) is sent in to do the copying.

There are 120 couples doing this imaging work across the country at present.
The work is totally volunteer and couples pay all their own expenses.


An artist, Cindy Stimmel is fascinated by the black and white artwork on many of the century-old receipts issued by the court for money received. Here is a receipt in black and white, and then colorized by Cindy.
An artist, Cindy Stimmel is fascinated by the black and white artwork on many of the century-old receipts issued by the court for money received. Here is a receipt in black and white, and then colorized by Cindy.



Each week Rusty and Cindy have been sending the images collected in an external hard drive to Salt Lake City, where Family Search is headquartered.

“Genie Society” critical to the work
The Stimmels work from 8:30-4:30 daily in the new offices of the Stark County Genealogical Society in Toulon, where they have set up shop.

Local volunteers help with the unglamorous but necessary work of unfolding, unclasping and unhinging, when necessary, the dusty old documents so they can be placed flat on Rusty’s imaging table.

Rusty Stimmel and Cindy Stimmel, both left, are shown here in the Stark County Genealogical Society offices, old probate records spread out in front of them, with Genie Society volunteers Joyce Dison, standing right, and Margaret Cantwell, sitting right.
Rusty Stimmel and Cindy Stimmel, both left, are shown here in the Stark County Genealogical Society offices, old probate records spread out in front of them, with Genie Society volunteers Joyce Dison, standing right, and Margaret Cantwell, sitting right.


Volunteers from the Genie Society include Margaret Cantwell, Joyce Dison, Sharon Perkins, Roger Engstrom, Margaret Ann Blakey, Barb Kraklow, Betty Sullivan, Janet Johnson, Janet Turnbull and Betty Franklin (hope I haven’t left anyone out).
And local historian Don Schmidt of the Society has been helpful to fellow chemist Rusty and Cindy in finding such opportunities as riding in the cab of a combine as it harvested corn.

Rusty is also an avid fly fisherman and Don has found a pond or two where Rusty catches bluegills and other fish.


Will present program Nov. 19 at Toulon Methodist

In their imaging, Rusty and Cindy have come across records for Rusty’s namesake family, which was special.

They found Stimmel graves in West Jersey and even the original Stimmel homestead southeast of Jersey, where the original home is now encased in a modern dwelling.

“We are finding lots of interesting ‘stuff,’” says Cindy, and the couple will present a program of interesting things they have found at 1:30 Saturday afternoon, Nov. 19 at the Toulon United Methodist Church. The public is of course welcome.

The Stimmels appear to be enjoying their stays in Hennepin and Toulon, though not so much in Cook County, where one of their assignments was in a neighborhood that was rough and dangerous, at night certainly.

“We like libraries and there is a good one we can walk to here in Toulon,” says Rusty.
The Stimmels have lived in California, Idaho, upstate New York and Las Vegas, and now they are making big travel plans upon finishing their mission in February.

“The first of May our RV will be ready for us,” explains Rusty.

“We plan to tour all 50 states (49 by RV). I will catch a different fish in each state.
“Then we will write a book about the experience and Cindy, an artist, will design and illustrate the book.

“After that we will decide where we want to settle down permanently.”

The Stimmels have four children and six grandchildren. I am betting their children will be vying to get this delightful couple to settle near one of them.

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3 thoughts on “Mormon couple in Stark to copy 200,000 court records

  • November 5, 2016 at 8:09 pm
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    Reality is, the purpose that the LDS are interested in genealogies is so they can practice what is known as “baptizing for the dead”, which is based on their very poor interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15. They will baptize surrogates in place of those that have died without mormon baptism.

    Sadly, it is disguised as a service for the community, when it is actually part of their cultic practices. Mormons are not Christians, and it is a shame any Christian church would have them in for any reason.

    Reply
  • November 6, 2016 at 5:47 pm
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    I have enjoyed reading the article about Rusty and Cindy Stimmel’s work pertaining at the Stark County Genealogical Society offices.
    This information will be appreciated by many of us researching genealogical records.

    Cindy’s art work is just another bonus!!

    Reply
  • November 6, 2016 at 11:00 pm
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    This was an excellent article. I had the pleasure of getting to know the Stimmels while they were in Cook County. I believe this wonderful couple will leave a footprint on the hearts of all those they encounter.

    Reply

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