What started as a hobby for Reeves Meeks about 12 years ago has turned into a passion and helped launch a new, fast-growing organization: The Wayne County New York Genealogical Society.

Many members of BJ Reeves Meeks’ family have served in the military, including her husband and their daughter.

But she had no idea just how many of her ancestors served their country until she started logging hours researching her family tree on her computer, at libraries and at historical organizations.

Among her discoveries: Her great-great-great-great grandfather, Isaiah Smith, served as a guard for George Washington during the Revolutionary War. When the papers for his honorable discharge from service in 1783 appeared on the computer screen one day, Reeves Meeks was astonished to see Washington’s signature.

The document is now a treasured part of her family’s records.

What started as a hobby for Reeves Meeks about 12 years ago has turned into a passion and helped launch a new, fast-growing organization: The Wayne County New York Genealogical Society.

The group held its first meeting in October at the Newark-Arcadia Historical Society’s museum on High Street in the village of Newark. Just two months later they’ve already got 36 members, a website and affiliations with larger genealogical groups in the works.

“I am very pleased to see such good turnouts at the meetings, with people attending from all over Wayne County,” said Chris Davis, executive director of the Newark-Arcadia Historical Society. “We even had someone from Victor attend the first official meeting last month.”

Added Davis, “I cannot see a problem with attendance. Genealogy is, from what I hear, the fast-growing hobby in the country. People want to find out about their roots.”

He said Reeves Meeks has helped the society with genealogical inquiries, which have come from as far away as Italy and the Netherlands.

“I’ve always been interested in history and finding out where I came from, who my people were,“ said Reeves Meeks, who lives in Newark with her husband, Ed.

She started studying family obituaries and gathering dates of birth and death and such around 2000 when she retired. Initially she wanted to learn more about her maternal grandmother, Leona Langdon, who died in 1947, two years before Reeves Meeks was born. She’d heard she had Native American ties and set out to prove it.

Learning about Langdon was a challenge. For starters, her Social Security number wasn’t registered in death index; Reeves Meeks made the submission for her grandmother some 62 years after her death. The earliest record where Langdon‘s name appears is the 1905 New York State census.

Reeves Meeks hasn’t been able to find evidence yet of her grandmother‘s Native American connection, but she has not come up empty handed. She found Langdon listed as a “scholar“ and living in Canandaigua in the early 1900s.

Reeves Meeks is a savvy researcher but has gotten some of her best leads from others who’ve overcome the dreaded “brick wall” — as she says. Genealogical societies are the best place to find like minded researchers, she said. That’s why she joined Ontario County’s when she first started.

She found other genealogical societies in Rochester and Syracuse.

“I just thought there should be something closer to home,“ she said. “We’re a large county, and we should have our own genealogical society.“

She knew there was ample interest in Wayne County after a large crowd turned out for a genealogical research program that was hosted by the Newark-Arcadia Historical Society a few years ago.

Since then she and fellow society organizers have been working with historians and gathering information on Wayne County’s past.

“We were just trying to get support through the local historians because genealogy is about people and history is about events and they go hand in hand,” Reeves Meeks said.

The public is welcome to check out their meetings, which tentatively will be held at 7 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Newark-Arcadia Historical Society. Anyone who joins must pay a membership fee and will be welcome at the meetings, which will feature programs aimed at helping family researchers.

“Genealogy is my hobby but I’m really a family historian,” Reeves Meeks said. “I look for the stories, the trials and tribulations my ancestors went through is basically what made me - how I am made - its all genetics.”