Friday Serendipity

**** If you are reading this on posting day, December 1st, then you have twelve days left. I understand that starting on Monday, December 13th, you will have to create an account and sign in to use FamilySearch. Fear not, it still will be free. I guess this is just a necessary evolution. Also please fear not that those handsome Mormon missionaries will come looking for you.

*** Did you know there is a Swedish-Finn Historical Society here in Washington? It is an organization dedicated to finding and remembering the history of the Swedes and Finns who migrated to the Evergreen State…. about 80,000 of them. If you have this ethnicity, click to

**** We’ve always been taught that the first shots fired in the Revolutionary War were on Bunker Hill in Boston, right? Apparently wrong. In June, 1775, a local group of colonists in Machias, Maine, learned that a British warship would arrive to requisition lumber for British barracks. Capt. Jeremiah O’Brien and 40 ill-armed cohorts/colonists planned a colonial response and the resulting battle was on June 12, 1775, five days before Bunker Hill. So much for the history books.

Friday Serendipity

**** What do you know about the CCC camps? The CCC camps in Washington? Did your ancestors serve in a CCC camp?

Tens of thousands of young men from all over the U.S. (both from big cities and rural towns) came together to serve in the vanguard of one of several of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” programs. The Civilian Conservation Corps was organized in April of 1933 under the authority of Congress. The program lasted until 1942 and over 2,000,000 men were enrolled overall. They enlisted for six months but could extend up to two years. They received $30 per month and had to send $25 of it home. Average camp size was 200 men and they were run in a pseudo-military fashion.

There were about 240 such camps in Washington State and they were scattered to all four corners. The above photo (thanks, Google) is of the Washtucna camp. If you’d like to know more, just ask Google.

From about 1985-1990, Ed was our neighbor and he quite loved telling stories of when he was in the CCC. He spent time in the camp near Spokane (Aubrey White Parkway…. hike/bike trail only, but if you go you can still find the fireplace remains of the camp) and enjoyed every minute of his time there. “I got fed! I was a big guy and there just wasn’t enough food at home,” he recalled.

Perhaps your ancestor served in a Washington State CCC camp during the years 1933-1942??

Friday Serendipity

**** The Yakima Valley Genealogical Society just celebrated their 50th anniversary in October. Three of the original charter members are still alive; one of those is Maxine Bissell, age 100+, and they hoped she’d be able to attend the party. The day of celebration was Saturday, Oct 21st, and included a potluck by the members and an open house and sharing of stories. Sue Ericksen, a member for 25 years, and current president, arranged the day. Way to go, YVGS!!

How many other genealogical societies in our state have 50 years under their belt? Skagit Valley Genealogical Society just marked their 30th. The Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, founded in 1935, has been serving genealogists in Spokane and surrounding areas for 82 years. Any society top that?


**** This is truly a serendipity story. Last time I visited the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society library, Frank McLean showed me their newest treasure….. 16 volumes of Mortgages of Yakima County, dating from 1898. And where did these books come from? Frank said that some time ago a fellow called from Hawaii to say he had spotted these at a yard sale there and did some looking on the Internet, found YVGS, and so called to see if YVGS wanted these books. (“Duh,” quoth Frank.) This wonderful fellow paid to ship all 16 volumes to Yakima. The YVGS plan now is to digitize all the pages (“nearly done,” said Frank) and index it all and make it available on the YVGS website.  The question begs: How on earth did these books end up in Hawaii?????

Friday Serendipity

**** Reading a fantastic book: FamilyTrees: A History of Genealogy in America, by Francois Weil, 2013. Weil starts at the very beginning of America and explains why folks were interested in knowing their backgrounds and family history. (I’ll give more bits from this book in the future.) Page 204:  “Market growth (of the genealogy industry) since the 1970s has taken place in two phases. Before the growth of the Internet came the commercial effects of the new interest in genealogy, symbolized by the success of Roots, and of technological change in the preservation, reproductions and transfer of information.”  At a conference in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1982, a session on using computers in genealogy was included. “Computers are becoming quite common in genealogical research,” it was declared.   Did you realize that (1983) predates (1999)??? When did you begin using a computer for your genealogy???  My first computer, in about 1991, was a Kaypro 10 and I was so excited to have it! With it’s green letters on a black screen!


Friday Serendipity


**** Ever heard of “warnings out” when doing New England research? Quoting from an article by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg, in the NEHGS Register, Summer 2015: “The floating poor, unwelcome anywhere but the town in which they were born, left scant documentary record of their existence. They are often mentioned only in warnings out when the town council ordered that they leave town before becoming a burden on the tax rolls. As each town bore the responsibility of supporting its own poor, strangers without proper certificates from their own towns represented an undue drain on the chronically stressed town treasuries.” Have you found your ancestor on a “warned out” list??


**** Judy Russell has a terrific nearly daily blog. Last Friday (Oct 27) she posted a great bit about NARA, our National Archives. She reminds us that this repository of American history offers “a virtual cornucopia if information about records there, researching in person at its facilities, and about genealogical research in general.” Wanna know more? Click to then to the NARA channel, “Know Your Records.” There you’ll find 61 video-lessons listed, plenty enough for a couple of soon-to-come snow days.


**** Don’t most of us know about Internet Archive…. quoting from their website: “Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.” The news about Internet Archive is that now you can digitally borrow a book from this site! Say you’re looking for a family history, The Turners from Tennessee, and you finally find a copy on Internet Archive….. now you can borrow that book for up to 14 days for free.  Check it out.  (P.S. I made up that book.)

**** True serendipity: Did you know that brown chickens give brown eggs and white hens give white eggs. That’s the ONLY difference; there is no difference in nutrition, so I read.

Friday Serendipity


****Ever seen or snacked upon a Donut Peach??  Spotted this in a little market near the Fiske Library in Seattle. They were delicious….but yes, a funny shape.

**** Know what triggers the leaves to change color? When a hot, dry summer is followed by a hot, dry fall, this allows the leaves to continue making chlorophyll that keeps them green. But chlorophyll productions finally slows and stops in the fall. And without chlorophyll, the yellow and orange pigments of the leaves become dominant, resulting in the many beautiful colors of fall. (This is my Japanese Maple.)

****Do you enjoy the History channel on TV? They have a new thing…. “American history streaming live…series, documentaries, all commercial free!” This is only for Apple/iPad/iPhone products and subscription is $50 a year. But think of all the good-better TV you’d be able to watch! Click to

**** Know what a rhumb line is? Washington is a maritime state so thought you’d like to know this new-to-me term. “A rhumb line is a line on the earth’s surface which intersects all meridians and parallels of latitude at the same angle. A line of constant course is a rhumb line.” Now a picture is definitely worth a thousand words here:

**** Want to know more about DNA….using it, understanding it, etc? Just like with any other new-to-you-thing, you need to go back to school, so to speak. In this case, just Google the words “understanding DNA” or some such and you’ll have more watching and reading to do than you have time for!  I recommend (1) and the DNA subject/channel; (2) Diane Southard’s; (3) Ancestry Academy and their lessons on DNA. It’s up to you and me; if we really apply ourselves, we can and will understand something about DNA. BUT BUT BUT please know, too, that you never have to know it all! Just enough for your purposes.

Friday Serendipity

Is your favorite morning juice apple from the Tree Top company?

Back in 1944, a co-op of over 1000 apple growers was formed with headquarters in Selah under the leadership of William H. “Bill” Charbonneau. Realizing that the public was dissatisfied with “fruity drinks that contained only 15% real juice” which he called “belly wash masquerading as the real thing,” he determined to do better with Washington apples. He founded the Tree Top company with the high standards of “all natural, no sugar added,” which still is followed today.

Today, Tree Top’s seven plants produce a long line of apple products with apple juice and cider being the backbone of the retail market. Bill’s genius was to take the “culls,” those fruits deemed undesirable as eating apples, and turn them into a useful product. Up to this time, the culls had been dumped by truck loads into the landfill.

The name, Tree Top, arrived in 1947, with the contest winner to name the company. Today, America’s #1 selling apple juice is Tree Top, made right here in Washington!

(From Tree Top: Creating a Fruit, great book by David H. Stratton, published in 2010 by the WSU Press.)

Friday Serendipity

IS there a book with my family in it?  I’ve been asked that question many times and not just in beginning classes. The answer is this: You won’t know if you don’t go looking.

  1. has a huge collection of family histories.
  2. Google books,  ditto.
  3.,  ditto
  4.,  ditto
  5. Digital Public Library of America (,  ditto.

So please don’t dump genealogy for knitting or sky diving until you’ve looked for your Bazeleel Jinglemeyer in every place you can think of.

Diane Huckabee told the story of finding the name LaStone for a child….. and after much pondering, she realized it must stand for “Last One!” (Just had to toss that in here for you; thanks, Diane, for sharing.)

Friday Serendipity

Spotted a book in the Fiske Library in Seattle: Washington Ghost Towns, by Lambert Florin, 1970, WSU Press. Intrigued, I hauled it back to my table. The index listed 23 different ghost towns! I would never have guessed that Washington had that many. But wait! Doing a Google search for “ghost towns in USA” and then “Washington” I found a list of 55 ghost towns in our Evergreen State!

This was Ruby, Washington, just 13 miles north of Okanogan. Quite a town; did your ancestors struggle to live there? Was it a mining or lumbering town? (Grandma Google knows the answer.)

Thinking ahead to your next summer’s road trip, and if you’re a ghost town nerd, pin that list to your map and away you’ll go!

Friday Serendipity

Kenyatta Berry was a keynote speaker at the Northwest Genealogy Conference I attended in August in Arlington, WA. One thing she told about was how exciting it was to work on the Genealogy Roadshow with Josh Taylor and Mary Tedesco. (This is a PBS series; call your PBS station and lobby to ensure that it carries this season of Genealogy Roadshow.) Anyway. The magazine Your Genealogy Today (Sep-Oct 2017 issue) carried an interview with Mary Tedesco. A question the interviewer, Leslie Michele Derrough, asked was “what are the first 5 important steps to take to get started?” Mary explained:
(1) Stay at home. See what you already have hidden in boxes in your home; interview all living relatives, especially the older ones. (I found it interesting that she did not say “start” at home.) 
(2) Stay organized.  OHMYGOSH.  Thomas MacEntee is the honcho of the Genealogy Do-Over which stresses the importance of getting and staying organized. Google this and start????
(3) Online research. (Mary did add microfilmed records, but we know by now that the Family History Library does not loan films any longer; but getting seasick looking at films at that Library is still an option 😵 ) Don’t re-invent the wheel; see what others have found before you! What you find may be wrong or right but it’s a place to start. 
(4) Onsite research. Most genealogists after the first few months or years realize that not everything they need is online and that they must travel to Virginia or Massachusetts for onsite research. OHDARN. 😉
(5) Take a DNA test. “DNA is a powerful tool when paired with traditional research.”  (I’ve read several places that a super beginning point for DNA testing is Ancestry.)