Serendipity Friday

*** Clark County Gen Society REALLY Honors Their Honorees

*** A Really, Truly Great Success (Teaching!) Story

*** WSU Press: Uncommon, Undeniably Northwest Reads

*** Ghost Towns….In WASHINGTON?

*** Today’s Laugh

When I visited my friend Lethene Parks, librarian for the Clark County Gen Society, and she showed me around their library, a wall display really caught my eye. They had framed and proudly displayed the certificates of honor from WSGS awarded to CCGS members! Dear Folks, receiving a Certificate of Merit from WSGS, based on your society’s recommendation, is a Big Deal. And was really a Big Deal to the Clark County folks.


When I found I had early/colonial New York/Dutch ancestors, I went after them! My findings pointed to Ulster County, NY. I was at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I checked the Library Catalog to see what materials they might hold for Ulster County. I found The Genie, publication of the Ulster County Gen Society. I hauled all the issues they had to a table and spent a happy hour paging through all of them and did find some likely clues. I next determined to contact that society to follow up on the clues.
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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!

Serendipity “Friday”

Yes, I do know that today is Thursday but tomorrow I’m off to tour the state: Spokane to Vancouver to Moclips to Port Angeles to Everett to Burlington to Spokane! Tiz gonna be grand and I’ll share bits with you. So today is, by default, Serendipity Day!

    *** Geneopardy? Pedigree Pie? 

*** QuirKy Genealogy: Are you signed up?

*** Bethel Cemetery, Steptoe WA

*** Memorial to Lime: Roche Harbor


Ready for some genealogy fun? Really, REALLY fun? Google either of the terms above. Once you’re to the website/program, sign in with your FamilySearch account, and viola! You are ready to play Geneopardy!  The categories are Dates, Places, People, Facts, Other. I picked PLACES for 100 and the question was easy: Which ancestor was born in St.Louis, MO? Four names were given as choices and I knew it was my mom. PEOPLE for 100 was harder: “Which of your ancestors was born during the Third Plague Pandemic?” Again, a choice of four names was given but I had no idea. Pedigree Pie has no questions, just pure fun. Go take a looksee..


Evelyn Roehl, who lives in Seattle, offers a free monthly newsletter simply called Tip Sheet from her website, QuirKy Genealogy. The February 2017 issue offered some really good census-name-finding tips. I do recommend this FREE newsletter to you all.  Send her an email and request being put on her mailing list: 


On the lovely drive north last week from Lewiston, I finally stopped at the little cemetery up on the hill in Steptoe, Whitman County. What a delight! See Steptoe Butte in the background? And have you ever seen a signature on a stone? Or a handmade one like this? (Is that a dachshund??)


“Lime, made by heating limestone to extremely high temperatures, is an age-old chemical that has been used as an ingredient in everything from cement and steel to paper and plaster. In 1886, shortly after a huge ledge of some of the world’s purest limestone was discovered at Roche Harbor (in the San Juan Islands), John S. McMillan established the Tacoma & Roche Harbor Lime & Cement Company. Crushed limestone from a quarter-mile-long quarry was fed into a battery of brick-lined kilns, which created the necessary heat to turn the rock into 200-pound barrels of lime. By 1890, up to 1500 barrels of lime were being produced each day, making this the largest lime works west of the Mississippi and making McMillan a very rich man.”  (Page 166, Washington Curiosities, by Harriet Baskas, 2008)

Serendipity Friday

*** A Cemetery is a Cemetery is a Cemetery

*** Genealogy Bank: Did you realize?

*** Roslyn’s 26 Ethnic Cemeteries: Ever been there?

*** Google Translate & Other Ethnic Alphabets

We were recently in Maui and on a beach-lava-rock hike, I spotted this cemetery of sorts. This sort of beach-memorial-cemetery is not a bit unusual in Hawaii. You perhaps cannot see but the crosses are festooned with shell and flower garlands and piled with rock and white coral. Sometimes they have a name/date inscribed but often not. Just a memorial. I found these most touching.


Do you use newspapers in your genealogical research? Silly question, eh? Have you investigated Genealogy Bank? When you subscribe to this newspaper database, these are your benefits and opportunities:

     1. Unlimited access to over one BILLION records (and growing)

     2. Access to over 7000 newspapers from all fifty states

     3. Access to over 320 years of historical (1690-2016) newspapers

     4. Access to 57 million recent obituaries (1977 to today)

     5. Access to over 14,000 rare historical books (1749-1900)

     6. Access to over 376,000 rare historical documents (1789-1994)

     7. Access to 94 million death records in the SSDI (1937-2014)

     8. Access to over 6,000,000 records added monthly

Click to for more information. And be alert for discount opportunities offered through various partner websites.


I never missed an episode of the TV show in the 1970s, Northern Exposure, filmed mostly in Roslyn, Washington. Of course, I had to visit the town and have lunch in the Roslyn Cafe. And we had to visit the cemeteries! There are some 5000 graves spread across nineteen acres on the hillsides on the back side of town. These burial grounds are divided by heritage…Croatian, Serbian, Polish, Lithuanian, Slavonian…as well as several lodges. Back in Roslyn’s coal mining heyday when coal was king, immigrants came from all over Europe for work. And then died here. Wandering across these ethnically divided areas was so very interesting. Some of the markers were clearly handmade and some were quite expensive looking (keep in mind that Roslyn back 100 years ago was a long way from anywhere). Roslyn is just on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass and when your travel plans next call for you to cross our state, do take a break and visit Roslyn…… and the gulch and hillsides of those ethnic burials.


I taught a class the other day and one of the questions asked was “how do I do research in countries where I don’t read the language?” Good question. Lisa Alzo answered that question in a class I attended in December 2016:

     1.  —  free online translator enables users to translate phrases and sentences into any language…in a text block of up to 150 words.

     2.  —  a site for free interactive games for learning languages (you need Adobe Flash Player (free) for this).

     3.  —  FamilySearch offers free word lists to help you translate common words found in church or other records; FS also offers letter writing guides in many languages.

     4.  —  popular online free tool for translating words, paragraphs or sentences in 71 different languages. If you use Google Chrome and visit a foreign website, Google will ask if you would like to have the page translated authomatically. Yah, Google!


TFT:  What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly. 

Serendipity Day

*** Historic Apple Varieties Found on Steptoe Butte

*** Lesson In Newspaper Research

*** Finding Your Ancestors on Facebook

*** Abby William Hill, 1861-1943, Painter of the West

An article in The Spokesman-Review last week told how “apple detective” Dave Benscoter has found two more apple varieties long thought to be extinct. And he found them on the slopes of Whitman County’s Steptoe Butte. Experts have confirmed the finds of Arkansas Beauty and Dickinson varieties. Benscoter and his devoted group of apple hunters were quoted as saying that “as many as 13 more lost apple varieties may be growing in Whitman County.”  It is estimated that of 17,000 named apple varieties in North America only 3000 still exist today so Benscoter’s finds are wonderfully interesting. Here’s a link to the Whitman County Historical Society’s Lost Apple Project:


In the long ago and not so far away day of early American newspapers, money was always an issue. Newspaper publishers and editors of the day knew they HAD to have subscribers in order to stay in business (and ads, of course). Not every little town had its own newspaper but wily newspaper editors carried all the news from a large geographical circle surrounding their headquarters. For instance The Weekly Vidette published in Montesano, Washington, (on Friday, 30 Nov 1894) carried newsy tidbits from Elma (11 miles away), Ocosta (25 miles), Porter (17 miles) and Cosmopolis (11 miles). These tidbits are chock-full of names….and to get your name in the paper surely likely meant that you would buy a copy of that paper. (This from Porter: “Albert Iliff returned Tuesday from an extended visit at Aberdeen. What is the lady’s name, Al?”)


“Did you realize that Facebook can be a great place to connect with your ancestors…. or at least to find the answers you need to connect your ancestors to your family tree? With FamilySearch’s Facebook groups, you can interact with other people tracing their families who lived in the same areas as your family and perhaps even break through your brick wall or help others break through theirs.” Do a Google search for FamilySearch Facebook Groups and you’ll be directed to the correct page…. I copied this as a brief example…. this shows there is a Facebook group for those researching in Canada and Greenland. It’s FREE to join this, so what be you waiting for? (Thanks to Leslie Albrecht Huber, 16 Aug 2016, FamilySearch Blog.)

Canada Genealogy Research Community Canada & Greenland


Abby Williams Hill was born at the start of the Civil War and lived until 1943. Her work spans 50 years and was mostly of Western Landscapes. Recognize this place?

I was reading about this remarkable artist in the Winter 1981 issue of Columbia and my first thought was WOW and my second thought was “I want that for my desktop image!” If you are interested, the Washington State Historical Society published a book of her work in 1989 with 120 pages and 57 images of her paintings.

Serendipity Day


*** Governor’s Mansion Offers Tours in March

*** Museums in Washington–A Follow Up

*** George Eastman Museum Releases over 250,000 Photos

*** Costa Rica ROOTS Tours??

*** Washington State’s Favorite Comfort Food?


Wish I lived closer to Olympia! Visitors to the state Governor’s Mansion during Women’s History Month in March will have the option of choosing a special “Women in the Mansion” tour. During special tours on March 15th and 22nd at 1:00pm, volunteer docents will talk about women who have influenced Washington’s history from inside the mansion. The standard mansion tours will also be available. For more information, click to or call the tour office at 360-902-8880. What a neat opportunity; I sure with I lived closer to Olympia.


Remember a while back I asked for folks to send to me a list of museums in their area/city/town? Two wonderful people responded, Bonnie Moore from Yakima and Jim Bull from the Columbia Gorge Gen Society. Jim sent the list he uses in their society; Bonnie sent me the copied page from the Yellow Pages.

Here is the point I’m making and working to resolve….. with your help. If you Google “museums in Washington state” a nice list will be shown courtesy of Wikipedia. Comparing the Wikipedia list to the phone book page that Bonnie sent, there were three museums listed for the Yakima area in those Yellow Pages that were NOT on the Wikipedia list. 

The Wikipedia list can be amended and updated and I will learn how and be happy to do that. But I need input from YOU all. I need your society lists or Yellow Pages lists to compare with what’s already included in that Wikipedia listing. 

So once again I’m asking for the lists (and contact info like website, address and phone) of the museums and perhaps historical societies in your town or area. Scan and send the Yellow Book pages would be dandy fine. I shall keep you posted on the progress.


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Serendipity Friday

*** British Isles Research Seminar…FREE

*** BYU Family History Library Teaching Videos….FREE

*** What the FHL will and will not accept; guide for all?

*** QuirKy Genealogy….new to us here in Washington

*** Gotta love the Quaker marriage records 🙂 


The Family History Library is presenting a British Isles Research Seminar from 13-17 March 2017 at the FHL in Salt Lake City. Classes include topics for England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. AND IT’S FREE! If you can attend in person, super. But if you cannot, you can attend via webinar. Use this link to register:* .  “All handouts will be made available digitally and will be made available for download at: .  (Yes, those are crazy looking web addresses.) The brochure I’m looking at lists 13 classes from which to choose…. 


As long as we’re on the topic of webinars, here is another opportunity for FREE genealogical learning. The BYU Family History Library offers  about fifty different videos on their YouTube channel that offer free genealogical learning to you. Click to and search for the BYU Family History Library channel. (Didn’t know that YouTube had channels? Yep, just like TV, it does!)


Any society library has faced this situation: a member passes on and their relative bring in boxes of their research…which they profess not to want and it may be organized or messy. In any case, most time a genealogical society will sadly turn down such a donation. Does your society need guidelines for donations? The Family History Library has a one page Gifts, Donations and Loans policy sheet. Google these words:  donations genealogy. This will take you to the FamilySearch WIKI; then click an embedded link to the above title. Good, bottom line, advice.


Evelyn Roehl, APG member, and one “who has been hunting for ancestors as a livlihood since 1995” is offering “a monthly info-sharing service for you by Kin Hunters, Seattle, Washington, USA.” The February 2017 edition (two pages) gave a tip for finding names in the census and the quirks for same: “When is a surname not a real surname?” She says that next month’s topic will be “Field of dreams…”   Evelyn’s email is  Send her a quick message and request to be added to her mailing list for her QuirKy Genealogy Tip Sheet of the Month. You won’t be sorry you did.


Browsing through the Minutes of the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting I came upon this entry, dated 7 Oct 1685:  “Edmond Bennett and Elizabeth Potts appear the second time and declare their intentions of marriage, all things appearing clear, friends left them to their liberty for consummating the same.” 

Serendipity Day

*** NWGC….. Save the Date! Are you going?

*** Washington Rural Heritage…. do you know about this?

*** King County Court Cases Index, 1881-1980 Available

*** “Tons of Soil Go Into Sea”

“Where does your story begin?” That is the 2017 theme for the Northwest Genealogy Conference, sponsored by the Stillaguamish Valley Gen Society next 16-19 August in Arlington. Click to for more information. This is a fabulous event and worth your time, money and effort to attend. WSGS will have a large presence at this conference. Get registered and stay tuned!


“Washington Rural Heritage provides access to digitized historic primary sources documenting the early culture, industry, and community life of Washington State. The collection is an ongoing project of small, rural libraries and partnering cultural institutions, guided by an initiative of the Washington State Library.” So states the introduction to their website, The website tells us that (as of when I printed this out a while ago) there were over 102 participating institutions and 288 privately held collections throughout the state.  This project spotlights little rural places like the Kettle Falls Public Library, Lopez Island Historical Society, Cathlament Public Library and the Battle Days Museum. Quoting again from the website, “The physical collections are housed locally by owning institutions around the state, while the digital collections are housed by the Washington State Library. Participating institutions select, scan, and describe items which tell the stories of their communities.” If your Washington ancestor lived in a small (rural) place, do check this out.


For a $5 fee, The Seattle Genealogical Society will search for your ancestor’s name in the index they compiled to the King County Court Cases for the years 1881-1980. SGS compiled this information from a card file of 100 boxes and contains over 1.7 million entries encompassing “virtually every case” in the following categories: Marriage disolutions and divorces; wills and other probate actions; changes of name; guardianships; community property agreements; bankruptcies and commitments. To take advantage of this opportunity, click to and follow directions to submit a query from the KC31 database. If your ancestor’s name is found in the index, for an additional fee to the King County Court Clerk will get you a copy of the entire file. 


From The Washington Farmer,  January 19, 1933, article by W.A. Rockie, Superintendent, Northwest Soil Erosion Station, Pullman:  “How many of you have been at Palouse Falls in Adams county, Wash, in the springtime? Once seen, one cannot forget it. In the early spring months the snow is melting from the Palouse region and the water flowing down there streams at this season is not clear, but a chocolate brown in color.” The article is a long one and I shall glean from the rest of it:  “This flood of muddy water has been gathered from thousands of Palouse farms…… by measurements a typical Palouse slope land for winter wheat lost about 30 tons of soil per acre last year….the Palouse River drains about 3600 square miles and so an estimated 35,000,000 tons of soil from highly productive land is lost every year…..These lands are one of the mos valuable assets of the Pacific Northwest but they cannot continue to produce abundantly as they do now unless they are farmed differently than is being done today.” Isn’t it good that those farming practices did change!


Serendipity Day

*** Museums in Washington State

*** Needing a High School or College Yearbook?

*** The Rewards of Apathy 


As an education project for the WSGS, I would like to assemble a list of museums in Washington state. I realize this could be a 500-page compilation but I think it would be quite interesting and possibly useful to vacationers and travelers. Would you help me, please?  I can ask Grandma Google and get the big museums and/or historical societies but you know of those smaller ones in your area. Care to make a list and send it to me?     I would appreciate your help.  (This pix is of our MAC museum here in Spokane.)


I was working on a project last year to help better document the sailors who went down with the U.S.S. Arizona on December 7, 1941, in Pearl Harbor. Pictures of these young men were what was wanted. With Grandma Google’s help, I discovered  For $20, I had one year’s full access to any yearbook I needed! You search by state and then name of school….. the list of school (divided into high school and college) would print out several pages long for there ARE that many available. When you click on the school of choice, you’ll see the years that yearbooks are available and, of course, some years are missing. Go look for yourself, your partner, your parents, even your teachers! It’s fun. 

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Serendipity Day……. Christmas Serendipity!

The official White House Christmas Tree has come from Washington State only once, back in 1961.  It was a 75-foot tall Douglas Fir. I don’t think the above tree was it; Wikipedia said it was placed in the Ellipse.  (You can ask Grandma Google anything; I asked her “white house christmas tree from washington state” and from Wikipedia came an article listing each year this has been a tradition and from which state the tree came.)

Sugar Cookies  —  This addictive holiday essential was originated by the Amish and is now the Pennsylvania state cookie.  (Ask Grandma Google about other state’s cookies???)

Gingerbread Houses  —  Gingerbread dates back to Greece in the year 2400 B.C. and by the late Middle Ages Europeans had their own version. But Gingerbread HOUSES originated in Germany in the 1500s. The largest gingerbread house on record was erected in Bryan, Texas, in 2013. It required a building permit and covered 40,000 square feet and was constructed of 4000 gingerbread blocks. (Texas always has to be biggest.)

Eggnog  —  Eggnog derives from the British aristocracy. The wealthy drank warmed milk and egg beverages with expensive spices and brandy or sherry. The origin of the word nog is disputed but it may come from a noggin a kind of wooden mug. And did you know, December is National Eggnog month, so drink up!

Happy to be politically incorrect, I wish you all a Merry Christmas.