Laura Hanchey Hall has been named the new president of the Allen Genealogical and Historical Society. Past president Betty Sarver, who held the position for seventeen years, passed away in February.
“Spring 2021 appears to be bringing a bit of much needed recovery, renewal, and some welcome changes,” said Hall, as she contemplated her upcoming tenure as the Society’s leader. “We were happy to learn that our Allen GHS meetings can resume in April, although they will not be the same without President Betty Sarver and our friend, Mr. Charles Sarver. For many years and to many people, Betty and Charles have been a gift of true friendship. Both leave a legacy of kindness and excellence to remember as we do our best to go on without them.”
Hall can trace her Allen Parish family lines back six generations. “My genealogical areas of research have naturally and even unintentionally gravitated mostly to Allen Parish,” she said. “The soul knows, I guess.”
Hall graduated from South Beauregard High School in Longville, Louisiana, then worked in the chemical industry, eventually ending up at LyondellBasell in Westlake, Louisiana. She then took an early retirement, and went about raising her three boys, all of whom went on to graduate with honors from high school and college. “They are my pride and joy,” she said.
Hall’s previous position in the Society was Researcher. In that role, she took on a wide range of research responsibilities, including assisting people who submitted queries to the Society seeking information on their ancestors.
Moreover, one of her loves is cemeteries. “My love for cemeteries started as a curiosity,” she recently said, “then it turned to a deeper interest, and pretty quickly was out of my hands—I couldn’t have stopped if I wanted to.”
Her love of cemeteries has led her on several genealogical journeys, including the 2020 hunt for and discovery of the military headstone of Albert Grover Baggett, a World War II veteran who had lain in an unmarked grave since 2008. Through dogged persistence, and with the help of the local American Legion Post # 244, the headstone was located, and has been placed at its rightful location.
“I have seen unmarked graves before,” she said. “They are unmarked for various reasons, and I’m familiar with that. But this one kept me up at night.”
Hall’s vision for the future of the Society includes trying to interest the younger generations in the value of genealogy and history. “What a sad thought, that genealogical and historical preservation would not be maintained as it competes in this age of new fascinations,” she said. “These subjects must be kept fresh and interesting.”
In conclusion, Hall said, “I first want to express appreciation and recognition for our previous and current members. I am so thankful we can continue to learn from those still with us, and for what was passed on by those now gone. Their contribution is of untold value.”
“It has been my honor and pleasure to be an Allen GHS member, and I pray that I will be of useful service in my role as President.”
“We look forward to our growth in 2021, and in the years to come.”