Jessie compiles her own slice of history

A COOMA woman who has spent around a decade helping residents track down their family history has been recognised for her tireless efforts. 

Jessie Warner was presented with the NSW Seniors Week Local Achievement Award in front of around a dozen family and friends at the Cooma Library yesterday.

Ms Warner was “an exemplary candidate” for the award which recognises the outstanding contribution seniors make in the community, according to Member for Monaro, John Barilaro, who presented the accolade.

The state-recognition came as a complete surprise to Ms Warner, who admitted before receiving the award that she was feeling nervous because the only information that had been spilled to her was that she was being acknowledged for seniors week.

“I’m a bit humbled by this and surprised,” Ms Warner said.

“I love family history and the search.

“When someone can’t find something, it’s like a red flag to a bull.”

Ms Warner said she has lost track of the number of years she has been involved with searching for family history, but she does know it has been “donkey’s years”.

Ms Warner was part of the Cooma Family History Group before it closed down and now spends Tuesday afternoons at the library assisting residents with their research, work that is quite diverse.

“You hear all sorts of stories,” Ms Warner said.

“I like the chase. It’s a challenge.

“People have their stories. [Some are] only told what people want them to now.

“Sometimes their stories are quite colourful.”

Ms Warner, who is a descendant of two men identified at Fromelles, also worked with the Friends of the First AIF to help trace the lost Diggers of Fromelles.

This lead to the Department of Defence initiating the exhumation and subsequent identification of many of those lost Diggers. She now spends endless hours of genealogy research for the organisation Friends of Fromelles to trace those lost Diggers by finding living relatives and encouraging them to volunteer their DNA.

Mr Barilaro said the work Ms Warner undertakes helps preserve local history for future generations.

He described Ms Warner as one of the region’s “local champions”.

“If we don’t take time to recognise individuals, we do an injustice to the people who are volunteering,” Mr Barilaro said.

“It’s fantastic to reward you for the work you do.”

Geoff Percival said Jess has “inspired me so much”, assisting him to track down his convict ancestors.

“So many people have benefited from your advice,” Mr Percival said.

“I thank you very much.”

Her husband, Richard was proud of Jessie’s achievement.

“Good on you Jess, you deserve it,” he said.

Cooma Library Manager Pam Veiss said she can’t do with Ms Warner at the facility. 

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