Was Your Ancestor an Early Washingtonian?

Do you have an ancestor who lived in Washington when it became a state on 11 Nov 1889? Did he/she come a little later, say before 31 Dec 1900?

Patrick Murphy arrived in Washington Territory in the spring of 1888.

If the answer to either question is “yes,” then you may be eligible to purchase a Pioneer Certificate or First Citizens Certificate honoring your early Washington citizen.

The process is pretty simple. Read the instructions and complete the application, starting with basic information about yourself, then your parent(s) and so on until you get to your first Washingtonian. Then list the evidences of proof linking each generation to the next. For example, I was born in Aberdeen (used my birth certificate). I am the daughter of Patricia Murphy Ferbrache (used her birth certificate) who was the daughter of Daniel Murphy (census record) who was the son of Patrick Murphy who arrived in the Satsop River Valley (Chehalis County, now Grays Harbor County) from New Brunswick, Canada in the spring of 1888. I used a land record (below) showing Patrick purchased land on the Chehalis River on July 10, 1888 — where my 91-year-old mother still lives today.

Land record, Chehalis County

After completing the Pioneer form (same procedure for the First Citizens Certificate), I sent it and my $10 fee to Pioneer Chair Frank McLean. Pretty soon my certificate arrived in the mail. I purchased another certificate later as an auction item at the annual Murphy Picnic — a much sought-after item!

The WSGS started the Pioneer and First Citizen Program in 1984 in anticipation of the state’s centennial admission to the union in 1889. While the three printed volumes of names are no longer in print, many libraries (including the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society’s library) have copies. An all-name index is available here. Hint: If you’ve got a Pioneer (here before 11 Nov 1889) or First Citizen (here before 31 Dec 1900), you might check the index to see if a cousin has already done the research! Detailed lineages are available to WSGS members through the Members Only link. A Pioneer and First Citizen brochure is available here.

There are a number of resources and aids, including Frank, to help you with your documentation. I’m proud to be the great granddaughter of a Washington Pioneer. Join me!


Meet the Board: Roxanne Lowe

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.

Roxanne in Havana, Cuba, April 2017

In today’s “Meet the Board” series, we’re introducing you to Roxanne Lowe. Roxanne lives in McCleary (Grays Harbor County) and is WSGS’s web manager, on the blog team. She recently stepped away from being the Recognition Chair due to time constraints (the lack of time!). She has been a member of the WSGS since 2008. She was named as a WSGS Outstanding Volunteer in 2010. She’s a proud, long-time member of the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society, serving as newsletter editor of the GHGS Family Tree Searcher newsletter.

Roxanne in 1958

Roxanne was born in Aberdeen, Washington in January 1955, the first child of George and Patricia (Murphy) Ferbrache. She is the great-granddaughter of Patrick Murphy and Mary Donovan who moved to the Chehalis River Valley in the spring of 1888 from New Brunswick, Canada. Roxanne’s mother Patricia is proud to be the last Murphy descendant still living on the original homestead at the fiesty old age of 91. Look for an upcoming blog post about Roxanne’s success in getting a WSGS Pioneer Certificate as a descendant of Patrick Murphy.

Roxanne’s interest in genealogy began as a child. Her paternal grandmother gave her a written family history, loaded with names, dates and locations. It was many years, however, before Roxanne learned enough about genealogy to realize that:

• Ferbrache may be spelled a multitude of ways.
• There may be more than one (or two or 10) Daniel Murphy’s, Lawrence Ryan’s – and even Thomas Ferbrache’s.
• Middle names are not a big deal in her family (Roxanne doesn’t even have one).
• Her descendants moved around – a lot – with little or no regard to leaving a paper trail.
• Whoever wrote that family history was a creative writer.

Patrick Murphy, Roxanne’s great grandfather

Fortunately for Roxanne, she joined the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society who taught her a thing or two about genealogy research. She’s attended many conferences, workshops and seminars – learning something new at each. She’s even traveled to Ireland and New Brunswick, Canada looking for Murphy’s and Ryan’s. Next on her travel wish list is to go to Guernsey in the Channel Islands (with side stops in London and Normandy) to visit her Ferbrache ancestral land.

Roxanne retired a few years ago from the Washington State Auditor’s Office in Olympia. She had previously worked for Governors Gregoire and Locke as a project manager on the welfare program (TANF) and performance measure program (GMAP) . When not searching for her family history, she enjoys scrapbooking, quilting, sewing, machine embroidery and just about every other paper and fabric art. She and her husband Gary have five children and nine adored grandchildren. You can often read about Roxanne’s fun-filled adventures with her grandchildren on her Facebook page.

A few more interesting tidbits about Roxanne:
• Favorite genealogy websites: Ancestry and Google
• Favorite color: Red
• Favorite dessert: Apple pie
• When asked for one word that described her, she replied, “Busy!”

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

Gift Idea: Washington Pioneer Certificate

pioneerIf your ancestor was one of the 350,000 people who lived in the Washington Territory when it became the nation’s 42nd state on 11 Nov 1889, you may be eligible for a Washington Pioneer certificate. Or if your ancestors arrived a little later — before 31 Dec 1900 — you can get a First Citizen certificate. What a great gift for yourself and your family members!

We began the Washington State Centennial Pioneer Certificate Program in 1984 in anticipation of the state’s centennial admission to the union in 1889. The initial certificates were issued to applicants who could prove their ancestors were in Washington Territory prior to 11 Nov 1889. Those descendants’ names, almost 18,000, were printed in a two-volume set of firstcitizenbooks entitled “Washington Pioneers” in 1992. A third volume, published in 1993, included Pioneers and First Citizens (those in the state on or before 31 Dec 1900). The three original volumes are out of print, but an index is available here. WSGS members have access to family lineages in the Members’ Only section of the website.
Pioneer and First Citizen Certificates are still being issued, although they are published only on the WSGS website at this time. If you can prove your ancestor was in Washington prior to 11 Nov 1889, you may be eligible to purchase a Pioneer Certificate. If your ancestor was in Washington on or before 31 Dec 1900, you may be eligible for a First Citizen Certificate. More information, including resources to prove residency, is available in the Pioneer and First Citizen Program brochure. An application and instructions are available here.