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Hometown Pride: Steven Christopher Pledger

Hometown Pride features a person each week who helps make the community better.

Steven Christopher Pledger is the director of the Cape Girardeau County Archive Center in Jackson, and has been involved with the center since it opened in 2001.

The Archive Center has over 4500 cubic feet of records available for researchers, including tax, school, marriage and court documents.

How did you start with the Archive Center?

I’ve been out here for 17 years, since it started. I started as a volunteer. The director then was Jane Randol Jackson, and she came to one of the genealogy society meetings and asked if we wanted to take a tour of the facility. It hadn’t quite opened to the public yet, and then she said, “We would also like to have volunteers.“ I said, “Yeah, I have some free time. I’ll volunteer,” so that’s how I started.

What are some of the things you do at the center?

We do a lot of different things here. Our main purpose is that we are the official repository for Cape county government documents. We have people come in here that need documents, anything from doing family research to need records for tax purpose.

If they need a copy of a marriage license, an older one, we can help with that. A lot of people, when they get divorced, don’t keep their documents. So when it comes time for retirement or going into a nursing home, they have to have a copy of those old documents and we help them find them.

I answer a lot of questions. It’s hard to answer things just off the top of my head, but if somebody comes in asking a question, it seems like I either know it or I know how to find the information.

What do you like about this area?

I’ve been to a lot of different places, and I guess what I like most about here is that it’s home. I was born in Cape. My ancestors on my mom’s side have been here for many generations. I’m 52 years old and I’ve been here all my life.

I’ve seen a lot of changes through the years. I’ve seen a lot of roads go from two lanes to four lanes. I’ve seen a lot of farm property that is now subdivisions.

What aspect of your job do you find most rewarding?

Helping the people, like when somebody comes in not knowing who their ancestors were and we help them find out that information. They get really excited a lot of times when we find out their missing ancestors, who that person was.

What are you most proud of here?

The facility itself — It’s considered probably the best one in southeast Missouri. Everything is laid out and organized, and it’s climate controlled.

We have county government records that go back to the 1790s. We’re one of the few counties in the state where the records have not been destroyed or lost, so we have a lot of people who like to do research come in here.

What is something most people might not know about you?

They probably just don’t know me in general. I like to go to Disney World, I go there quite frequently. I like to go to Minnesota, too. It’s really nice up there, so I like to go there a lot.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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