CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Unlike many in their early 60s who head into retirement, Dottie Campbell chose 21years ago to start a new job in the Mason County clerk's office.
Now 81, she is still there, with no plans to retire.
"I love to work. I love to wake up, get dressed, fix my hair. I love to meet people," she said.
As part of her job, she responds to genealogy requests that come in by mail, phone or personal visits.
"I love it," she told me.
She's already has her own family history.
"Our ancestors came over on the Mayflower," Campbell said. Her interest in tracing her past seems to run in the family. Her cousin Paul Morehouse is the immediate past president of the Ohio Genealogical Society and a senior lecturer in history at the University of Akron.
The Mason County clerk's office has records from the early 1800s, when the county was still part of Virginia, sources Campbell combs for birth, marriage, death and property transaction documents requested by local family researchers and from across the nation. Her records show requests from Washington State to Florida and most states in between.
Few requests arrive from other countries, although she gets some letters from service men serving abroad.
"In the little time they have they write; it always amazes me. I try to get on it right away," she said.
She loves the research and meeting people, but there is a downside to the job.
"I hate it when someone comes in and I can't find anything," she said.
She was quick to point out that despite what some believe, there are have been no records lost in a courthouse fire.
"It never did burn. The only thing was the explosion at the jail and it did not affect any records in the record room," she said. The jail exploded in March 1976, killing the 19-year-old man who brought in the dynamite, his 18-year-old wife who had been charged in the death of their baby, the sheriff, jailer and a deputy.
Campbell also is unable to provide any documents for people seeking to prove a Cherokee Indian heritage. "We don't have anything in our record room on that," she said. She's learned that there are college funds for those who can prove Cherokee ancestry.
None of the old birth records specify Native American heritage. Rather the forms simply designate "white," "colored" or in some cases, "mulatto," in the handwritten records she has learned to decode.