Yakima Seminar on Saturday — Not Too Late to Register

Jay Fonkert

You don’t want to miss the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society‘s Spring Seminar  this Saturday, April 22, 2017 at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 7809 Tieton Drive in Yakima. In addition to four lecture sessions with professional genealogist Jay Fonkert, the Washington State Genealogical Society’s annual meeting will be held during the lunch hour honoring outstanding volunteers and projects. For more information on the seminar, click here.

Registration can be done online at the YVGS website or at the YVGS library at 1901 S. 12th Avenue, Union Gap. Day-of-seminar walk-ins are welcome, however, lunch cannot be guaranteed.

Nancy Cordell Named Region 3 Representative

Dr. Nancy Neville Cordell

Nancy Cordell of Tumwater has been appointed the Regional Representative for Region 3 by WSGS President Virginia Majewski. Region 3 includes Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason and Thurston counties.

Nancy is an active member of the Olympia Genealogical Society where she currently serves as president.  A professional genealogist, as well as having a Ph.D. in biological anthropology, she helps researchers through her website, Diggin’ Our Past. You’ll learn more about Dr. Nancy in an upcoming “Meet the Board” blog feature.

The Board is still in search of Regional Representative volunteers in a number of areas around the state:

  • Region 1 North – Island (part), San Juan, Snohomish (part)
  •  Region 1 South – Island (part), Skagit, Snohomish (part), Whatcom
  • Region 7 – Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens
  • Region 8 – Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan

For more information on the responsibilities of a Regional Representative, click here or email WSGS Vice President Donna Potter Phillips at Donna243@gmail.com.

Cemetery Visit in Cuba

Do you visit random cemeteries in cities you visit? I do, and I’m sure it’s not that unusual. (Uh…it isn’t unusual, is it???)

I recently completed an amazing trip to Cuba and just had to stop at this small cemetery near the Bay of Pigs. Monuments and stones were weathered; some above ground, others not. A very reverent place.

Grays Harbor Genealogical Society May Meeting

The next meeting of the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society will feature Jerry Schaefer, a local character known as gunslinger “Doc Shores” in Western reenactment events. Jerry will be changing hats, however, to talk about the Spruce Production Division, a unit of the U.S. Army established in 1917 to produce high-quality Sitka Spruce timber and other products needed to make aircraft for the U.S.’s efforts in World War I. The division had a large impact on logging in the Pacific Northwest. Logging companies adopted working conditions similar to those the division had.

The meeting is Saturday, May 13, 10:00 a.m. at the Hoquiam Library, 420 7th Street, Hoquiam. Visitors are welcome. For more information, email GHGS.

Yakima Valley Gen Soc and WSGS Partner for Recognition Awards

Featured speaker Jay Fonkert

The WSGS Annual Meeting, which includes the announcement of the Outstanding Volunteers and Teams, Outstanding Communication and Project awards, WSGS President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement and Innovative Grant winners, will be Saturday, April 22, 2017 during the lunch period of Yakima Valley Genealogical Society’s Spring Seminar. The seminar and awards event will be held at the Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Yakima. The seminar’s featured speaker will be professional genealogist Jay Fonkert, a renowned authority on 19th Century Midwest research. His presentations will be:

  • Genealogy Detective Skills: Following Clues from the Census
  • Finding Your Pre-1850 American Ancestors
  • Why Were They There?
  • Who’s on First: Merging and Separating Identities in Family History Research

The YVGS Spring Seminar flyer, including a registration form, can be downloaded here: YVGS Spring Seminar flyer or visit the YVGS website.

Genealogical Serendipity in Aberdeen

The “ah ha” moment as captured by photographer Elaine Anderson.

You never know when you’re going to experience one of those stranger-than-fiction “genealogical serendipity” moments that happen ever so often.

While speaking at the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society‘s Spring Workshop recently, professional genealogist Janet Camarata displayed an old Osborne County, Kansas land map of her ancestor Elzy Emmet Curry during her “Mapping an Ancestor” presentation. As she talked about Elzy (who married Ella Adeline Shull in 1890), Patty Olsen, Washington State Genealogical Society Region 4 representative and member of the Lewis County Genealogical Society, exclaimed, “That’s my ancestor, too!” After the initial shock, attendees witnessed the newly discovered cousins finding their common roots through Patty’s husband’s ancestor Ella Adeline, Elzy’s wife.

You never know when or where you’ll meet your long-lost cousin!

Society Spotlight: Yakima Valley Genealogical Society

We’re always trying to “keep it fresh” here on the WSGS blog. “Keep it fresh, you ask? According to the Urban Dictionary, keeping it fresh is “the art of acting spontaneously resulting in your actions being original and generally awesome.” Okay, so we’re going to be generally awesome here introducing a new blog feature: Society Spotlight.

Local genealogical societies are the backbone of WSGS and we’re proud to introduce our readers to each of the 30+ societies around the state. In your upcoming travels, you might want to stop by their library, meeting, ask for local assistance or visit their website.

Our inaugural article features the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society.

The Yakima Valley Genealogical Society (VYGS) is one of the largest societies in the state with approximately 300 members. That’s a long way from their humble beginnings almost 50 years ago when they started with just 18 members. While most of their members live in the Yakima County area, they attract others from as far away as England.

Under the leadership of President Patrick Bundy and Vice President Sue Ericksen, YVGS is among the most active societies. Besides monthly meetings featuring interesting educational programs, the society sponsors two major seminars each year,  Spring and Fall. This year’s Spring Seminar will be Saturday, April 22 at the Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Yakima. The featured speaker will be professional genealogist Jay Fonkert, a renowned authority on 19th Century Midwest research. His presentations will be:

  • Genealogy Detective Skills: Following Clues from the Census
  • Finding Your Pre-1850 American Ancestors
  • Why Were They There?
  • Who’s on First: Merging and Separating Identities in Family History Research

An added bonus to attending YVGS’s Spring Seminar is the WSGS Recognition Awards and Annual Meeting during the lunch hour. Registration is still open. More details, including a registration form, are available here.

Assistant librarian Sue Ericksen (left) explaining some of the YVGS’s vast library holdings to WSGS President Virginia Majewski.

One of the preeminent gems of the YVGS is their genealogical research library. The 7,200 square foot library, considered one of the top genealogical research facilities in the Pacific Northwest, is located at 1901 S 12th Ave in Union Gap. Besides the main floor of the library, there are three archive rooms, a media room for microfilm/fiche research, a work room and a kitchen. Between the bound volumes on the shelf and the massive microfilm/microfiche collection, the library hosts a collection of 35,000 volumes of genealogical research material covering every state and a large number of foreign countries. Holdings also include a large number of published family histories, as well as being the designated official library for the WSGS. Check out their online book catalog here.

The library is open to the public at no charge for genealogical research. It’s definitely worth a stop if you’re in the Yakima area.

And don’t forget to visit the YVGS website. While there, you’ll learn more about YVGS’s commitment to expanding and preserving genealogical and historical research, including their outstanding Cemetery Project and Early Death Notices Index databases.

We hope you’ll visit the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society online or at 1901 S 12th Ave in Union Gap. We’re proud to call them a member of the Washington State Genealogical Society.

(Note: If  you’d like your society to be featured in Society Spotlight, please contact Roxanne Lowe at info@wasgs.org.)

Meet the Board: Patricia Olsen

Do you know who’s running the show at the Washington State Genealogical Society? Did you know we have an Executive Committee, six standing committee chairs and three appointed non-elected officers? Who are all these people? In the coming months, we’ll introduce them to you, so you can say “hi” the next time you see them.

Patty Olsen

In today’s “Meet the Board” series, we’re introducing you to Patricia Olsen, known to all of us as Patty. Patty is from Chehalis in Lewis County, a proud member of the Lewis County Genealogical Society where she has served as education chair for the last five years. She is WSGS’s Region 4 Representative for Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum Counties. She is also a member of the Cherokee Nation, Friends of the Vann House, Trail of Tears Association, and the Cherokee Historical Society.

Patty at her Aunt Marcy’s house near the Birdsview Fish Hatchery, Birdsview, WA (Skagit County). Circa 1952.

Patricia Rae Lund was born on February 9 in Bellingham, Washington to Eugene “Bill” Russell and Violet Elsie (Dickinson) Lund.  Although born in the local hospital, she initially slept in a wooden apple box as there weren’t enough baby beds at the time.

Patty is extremely proud of her rich ancestry, a true slice of American history and heritage. Her mother, Violet Dickinson, was born in Bonesteel, South Dakota in 1922, the second of four children to Clarence LeRoy and Elsie Belle (Chambers) Dickinson. Grandma Elsie died in 1927, leaving Patty’s grandfather with four children under the age of six. Grandpa soon remarried Ethel Marie Joy, a neighbor of his brother’s who had been hired to watch the children while Grandpa worked. She and Grandpa married in 1928 and had seven more children – making a houseful of 11 children! There was never a reference to “step children” – they were all just one (really big) family.

Patty’s father, Eugene Russell Lund, was born in Morris, Oklahoma to John Daniel and Martha Elizabeth (Vann) Lund. Grandma Martha died in June 1922 following the birth of her fourth child in December 1921, having never recovered after the birth. Martha’s grandmother (Patty’s 2x great grandmother) Caroline “Carrie” Elizabeth Sixkiller (1853 – 1906)  was the proud daughter of Redbird “Tah-chu-wha Su-da-la-dee-hee” Sixkiller (1807 – 1898), a member of the Cherokee Tribe as  recorded in the 1863 Dawes Rolls that recognized all Cherokees living on the reservation in Oklahoma.

Outstanding Young Women of America, 1979

Through her genealogical research, Patty knew she was related to President Abraham Lincoln and Will Rogers, but her tribal heritage was a surprise to her. As was common in bygone days, having tribal blood was not something to be touted or even disclosed. It wasn’t until 1962 that Patty’s father was encouraged by his aunt to join the Cherokee Nation. Patty is now a proud member of the Cherokee Nation and feels a special affinity to her heritage having traveled to Oklahoma and South Dakota where her ancestors lived.

As a teenager, Patty attended a small high school with under 300 students. While there, she played the flute (first chair!) in the Concert Band which held the distinguished honor of 25 years of A+ ratings at the annual Music Educators Band Contest in Bellingham, WA. Patty’s hard work, perseverance and talent were rewarded when she was chosen as First Chair of America as a flautist in 1962. She was also selected as one of the nation’s “Outstanding Young Women in America” in 1979.

Patty has two sons, seven grandchildren and even has a great-granddaughter. She is retired from the Napavine School District, where she developed the HOSTS (Helping One Student to Succeed) program, tutoring students to help them catch up and surpass their classmates in math, reading, writing or other skill sets where they needed an extra boost. She also chaired the popular RIF Program (Reading Is Fundamental), buying and distributing books to elementary school children.

When she’s not researching her family roots, Patty enjoys attending dirt track sprint car races, the sunshine and traveling.

A few more interesting tidbits about Patty:

  • She is a life member of Beta Sigma Phi social sorority, Daughters of Norway, Skagit County Genealogical Society, and Yakima Valley Genealogical Society.
  • She can be seen at numerous conferences and workshops around the state and elsewhere. She loves networking and learning about new resources, tips and discoveries – then passing them along to others.
  • She is a staunch supporter of our country’s veterans. She has purchased numerous commemorative tiles on display at the Veterans Memorial Museum in Chehalis. Veterans are “never forgotten” in her heart.
  • Her favorite genealogical website is “Find My Past.”
  • Her favorite “color” is anything with bling!
  • Her favorite dessert is lemon pie
  • When asked what one word describes her, Patty responded “OCD” (obsessive-compulsive disorder) – a very good trait for a genealogist!

Now you know a little more about another of the WSGS Board members. The next time you see Patty, say hello and thank her for her service to WSGS.


We’ve Made It Easier to Renew or Join

Have you renewed your WSGS dues? If you have, thank you — we’re glad you’re part of us!

If you haven’t renewed, we’ve made it a whole lot easier! Now, you can do everything online by clicking on the Members Only tab on the left navigation bar on any page of the WSGS website, then going to “Profile.” From there, click on the green “Renew Membership” button and follow the prompts. Easy peasy!

If you aren’t a member of the WSGS yet, it’s just as easy: click on “Join/New Member” on the left navigation bar. It’s only $12 for an individual ($13/couple).

Of course, if you’d rather use snail mail, that’s okay, too — just mail your membership form to:

Washington State Genealogical Society
Membership Chair
1901 S. 12th Avenue
Union Gap, WA 98903

Lola Swearingen Weber Awarded 2016 Outstanding Volunteer Honor

Since 2003, the Washington State Genealogical Society has recognized almost 500 outstanding volunteers and teams, nominated by their local society or genealogical organization for their service and dedication. These volunteers are the backbone of their local society, giving their time and expertise, to the organization and the field of genealogy. In the last of the 2016 series, you will be introduced to each of the award recipients and learn why they received the 2016 WSGS Outstanding Volunteer and Team Award.

Lola Swearingen Weber

Today we’re introducing Lola Swearingen Weber of Longview, Washington, who was nominated by the Lower Columbia Genealogical Society (LCGS). She was recognized for her unwavering dedication and enthusiasm to the LCGS.

As a long-time member of LCGS, Ms. Weber has served as president, vice-president, trustee and program chairman. She presently serves on the program committee.

Ms. Weber has fostered genealogical education by organizing research trips, presenting informative programs and visiting senior living facilities to encourage writing their life stories. She has submitted articles for the society’s newsletter, The Key, donated time in the genealogy section of the Longview Public Library and volunteered for the rest stop fundraiser.

Ms. Weber has been an asset, as well as an inspirational and motivating presence in the ranks of the society’s membership, and demonstrates that she richly deserved being a recipient of a 2016 WSGS Outstanding Volunteer Award.

For more information on the WSGS Outstanding Volunteer Award program, visit the Recognition page of the WSGS website or contact Roxanne Lowe, Recognition Chair, at Roxanne@thekeeffes.com.