San Tan Historical Society seeks volunteers to dig up the past - East Valley Tribune: Chandler

San Tan Historical Society seeks volunteers to dig up the past

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Posted: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 9:44 am | Updated: 7:20 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

January 4, 2005

When Russ Rickards moved to Gilbert two years ago, he was looking for a good place to volunteer.

With his love for genealogy, a research consultant volunteer position at the San Tan Historical Society was a perfect fit.

"I thought it all tied in because genealogists are very big on preserving history," said Rickards, who retired from working in the leasing division of a bank.

Rickards has spent the past six months copying by hand and re-typing the 1930 census for the Queen Creek area. He also researched a stage shop in the area that was rumored to have a stop for a coach line that ran from Florence to Phoenix.

The San Tan Historical Society is looking for research consultants such as Rickards to help the volunteer organization preserve the history of the Queen Creek, Higley, Chandler Heights and Combs area, said David Salge, president of the society.

The historical society is based out of the Rittenhouse School, 20435 S. Ellsworth Road, on the southeast corner of Queen Creek and Ellsworth roads.

The volunteer job offers business cards for the position, lots of flexibility and plenty of ideas and direction on research projects, Salge said.

"We are looking for anyone that is willing to give some time for the historical society, by collecting histories or stories about our area," said Salge, a Queen Creek resident.

The society is looking for people who can read old newspaper articles, interview seniors in the area to document their stories and identify people in old school photos. Consultants are also needed to identify families that founded the area.

"A lot of these things just take time," said Salge, a technology manager for Wells Fargo Bank in Chandler. "There’s no money in it. It’s just sort of a self-satisfaction thing. It’s really something that people can find internally by helping the community."

Rickards does most of his research at the State Archives Library in downtown Phoenix, going through land records, census records and any kind of written history on Maricopa County or Arizona. He’s also read dozens of books and researches on the Internet.

For Rickards, it’s just the love of finding out information and preserving histories.

"In my own genealogy research, a lot of the historical societies have been around for a hundred years," Rickards said. "Whereas out here the historical societies are so new, comparatively new."

Find out more

For information on becoming a volunteer research consultant for the San Tan Historical Society, call (480) 797-2075 or e-mail

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