Meet the Board: Barbara Johnson

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.

Barbara Gorham Johnson

In today’s “Meet the Board” series, we’re introducing you to Barbara Jeanne Gorham Johnson. Barb lives in Mount Vernon (Skagit County) and is in her first term as WSGS’s Region 1 South Representative. Besides being a member of WSGS, she is a long-time member of the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society where she has served on the Board as secretary, vice president, and currently as education chair and communications chair. She also belongs to Clan Johnstone in America and Saddleworth (Yorkshire) Historical Society.

Barbara Jean was born in Seattle in 1943, the daughter of Arthur and Emily (Kochis) Gorham. Her mother, the good Catholic that she was, named her daughter after St. Barbara and St. John. Her names mean “stranger” and “God/like/ly.” With a twinkle in her eye, Barb’s mother told her daughter that she was a “strange gift from God.” What a sense of humor!

Barbara in kindergarten

While born in Seattle, Barb grew up on the idyllic Vashon Island. After high school, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Microbiology at the University of Washington and did virus research for several years. After marrying Roger Johnson, she became a full-time mom. After that, she became a King County police officer, then did security duty at Bellevue Square. After that, she became the first park ranger for the City of Bellevue. She has also been a science teacher with Pacific Science Center’s “Science On Wheels” program. When she and Roger “retired” to Skagit County, she worked part-time as a park ranger for North Cascades National Park. This girl loves the great out of doors!

Barbara and Roger

Barb has been interested in family history for years. She used to listen to her parents talk about their childhood years in New York City and (at that time) Czechoslovakia. Barb would often ask her  maternal grandmother to tell her about the old country, curious about her native homeland. About 25 years, ago, Barb got serious about researching her roots. She has traveled to ancestral lands in Massachusetts, Ireland, Scotland and Yorkshire, England.

Barbara and her family

Speaking of Yorkshire, one of her most fascinating genealogical discoveries was finding her Yorkshire cousin who helped her with her research back to the 1500’s. Barb and Roger visited him in the Parish of Saddleworth in West Riding of Yorkshire last year. He was kind enough to escort them all over the parish, regaling them with stories of ancient and family history and architectural history.

Barb and Roger, a retired banker who is a model railroader, are the proud parents of Steven and Michelle. Steven is a Navy veteran now working for a defense contractor in Washington, D.C. Steven and his wife Jen, a school teacher who is also a Navy veteran, have two children: Jeffrey (age 12) and Lexie (age 9).  Daughter Michelle and her husband Bob live in Edmonds. She is an early education teacher at Edmonds Community College, while Bob is a home inspector.

A few more interesting tidbits about Barb:

  • Barb does DNA and genealogy presentations in Washington and British Columbia. She also participates in a living history program as Abigail Adams.
  • Favorite genealogy websites: as they have wonderful Yorkshire records that have been digitized
  • Favorite color: Blue
  • Favorite dessert: Dark chocolate – Death by Chocolate, in particular!
  • When she’s not doing genealogy, Barb likes to hike, quilt, scrapbook and do needlework.
  • It’s easy to describe Barb in one word: enthusiastic!

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

Skagit Valley Genealogical Society March Meeting



Skagit Valley Genealogical Society’s Educational Program for the Month of March:

“Detours Around Irish Roadblocks and Stone Walls”

with Irish genealogy expert,

Steven W. Morrison

BURLINGTON — Irish genealogy research can be very challenging. Come learn from an expert on Irish research – professional genealogist, Steven W. Morrison, how to overcome those “roadblocks and stone walls.” Steven will share in this beginner level presentation the top 10 challenges and how to work-around them. The Skagit Valley Genealogical Society offers educational programs on the 2nd Saturday of the month from 1-3 pm at the Burlington Senior Center (enter on the east side of the building), 1011 Greenleaf Ave., Burlington. This special lecturer program on Sat., March 10 is offered free to both SVGS members and to first time visitors. Email: or visit for details.

Skagit Valley Genealogical Society February Meeting

Skagit Valley Genealogical Society’s
Saturday, February 10, 2018 Educational Program:
“Fir Island and Conway History”

BURLINGTON — Skagit Valley Genealogical Society (SVGS) meets on the second Saturday of the month from 1:00-3:00 pm at the Burlington Senior Center, 1011 Greenleaf Ave. (Use the East entrance) The program for Saturday, February 10 is: Fir Island and Conway History discussed by co-authors, Patricia Hanstad-Pleas, Andrea Millward-Xaver and  Janet K. Utgard. The panel discussion program will focus on the early days of this area of Skagit County and some of the pioneer families who settled there. Free and the public is welcome. For details: / Reminder: SVGS has genealogist volunteers available to assist you with your research at the Burlington Public Library, 820 E. Washington Ave. on the first Saturday of the month from 11am-1pm (except holiday weekends). For more information email: .

John Hayes Awarded 2017 Outstanding Volunteer Honor

Since 2003, the Washington State Genealogical Society has recognized over 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 coming months, you will be introduced to each of the 2017 award recipients and learn why they received the 2017 WSGS Outstanding Volunteer and Team Award.

John Hayes

Today we’re introducing John Hayes of Mount Vernon, Washington, who was nominated by Skagit Valley Genealogical Society (SVGS). He was recognized for his leadership and guidance of the society.

Mr. Hayes has been a member of the SVGS for more than 20 years, joining in 1997 to improve his skills as a genealogist. Since 2014, he has served as the society’s president. From 2003 – 2006, he served as vice president for programs.

Mr. Hayes was born in Sedro-Woolley in 1937 and raised in Acme, Washington. After 35 years as an engineer with the Washington State Department of Transportation, he retired in 1995. While enjoying the challenges and discoveries of genealogy, square dancing with his wife Rosie is his first love.

With a twinkle in his eyes and subtle sense of humor, Mr. Hayes has led his local society in facilitating their meetings, programs and seminars in the most quiet, confident manner. He is a respected and diligent member of the SVGS, and richly deserved being a recipient of a 2017 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, Interim Recognition Chair, at

Skagit Valley Genealogical Society Meeting

You Took the  DNA Test…The “Now What” for Genealogists

On Saturday, September 9, from 1:00-3:00pm, the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society presents a special science based program. Join retired scientist, educator, internationally acclaimed lecturer and genealogist, Barbara Johnson, for a discussion on how to use DNA testing for ethnicity to improve your family history research, and make connections with your DNA matched contemporaries. Bring your questions about those “Huh!?” and surprise ethnicity discoveries and Barbara will help you find answers. This program is free to the public and will be held at the Burlington Senior Community Center, 1011 Greenleaf Ave., Burlington, WA. For more info. about SVGS and a schedule of upcoming monthly educational programs visit: or email:

Nancy Bonafede Named Region 1 North Representative

Nancy Bonafede

Nancy Bonafede of Sedro Woolley has been appointed the WSGS Representative for Region 1 North by President Virginia Majewski. Nancy has been a member of Skagit Valley Genealogical Society for more than 10 years. She has also been the volunteer coordinator for the library collection at the Burlington library.

Region 1 North includes Skagit, Whatcom, San Juan Counties and parts of Island and Snohomish Counties. There is still a vacancy for Region 1 South which includes parts of Island and Snohomish Counties. For more information about the responsibilities of the Regional Representative, click here.

Nancy will be featured in a future “Meet the Board” story. Welcome to the Board, Nancy!

Skagit Valley Genealogical Society O Canada Seminar

Greetings from the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society,
It is time to register for a different kind of genealogy seminar — an entire Heritage Weekend — that includes a Friday evening celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary with a keynote program by Canadian genealogy expert, Dave Obee, then on Saturday for the seminar, US genealogy expert Mary Kathyrn Kozy joins Mr. Obee for more Canadian/US immigration research, and the weekend is capped off on Sunday with a living history tour of Burlington by Burlington’s first school teacher!

This will be a special opportunity to meet our friends, cousins and family historian neighbors across the border and around Washington State.
We look forward to seeing you on the weekend of April 21-23 for a unique Canadian genealogy weekend!

Heritage Weekend & Genealogy Seminar:
Fri- Sun, April 21-23
presented by the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society

Reception Celebrating Canada’s 150th Anniversary
with Keynote Program by Canadian genealogy expert Dave Obee
(Optional & included free with Seminar Registration)
Friday, April 21, 7:00-9:00pm
Burlington Community Center
1011 Greenleaf Ave., Burlington, WA

O Canada! Genealogy Seminar
Sat., April 22, 8am – 4pm
1st United Methodist Church
1607 E. Division, Mount Vernon, WA

Historic Walking Tour of Burlington
led by a costumed living history interpreter
(Optional & included free with Seminar Registration)
Sun., April 23, 10am – Noon
Burlington Chamber of Commerce
520 E. Fairhaven Avenue,. Burlington, WA

Conveniently register online with PayPal via:
or print out and mail in with your check with the attached registration form.

Early registration discount ends April 10, 2017
O Canada 2017 registration and bios
See you for a fun and informative Canadian heritage weekend in the beautiful Skagit Valley at tulip time!

Skagit Valley Genealogical Society Monthly Meeting


Skagit Valley Genealogical Society Monthly Meeting Program:
How Healthy is Your Family Tree?  Physical and Mental Health Issues of Our Ancestors

Skagit Valley Genealogical Society (SVGS) presents: How Healthy is Your Family Tree: Physical and Mental Health Issues of Our Ancestors, presented by Janice C. Lovelace, PhD. This program offers an in-depth look at building a health genogram starting with a traditional genealogical pedigree chart. Also covered in the program is a basic overview of DNA, epigenetics and inheritance of health issues. Several health issues are discussed in detail.  This educational program will be held on Saturday, March 11, 1:00-3:00pm, Burlington Senior/Community Center, 1011 Greenleaf Ave., Burlington. Everyone is welcome. For details: or contact

Janice Lovelace, Ph.D. recently retired from 30 years of full-time college teaching in social sciences and American Cultural Studies. She has over 20 years of experience in genealogical research and academic work in the area (Genealogy and Family History certificate at University of Washington, Boston University Genealogical Research Certificate, ProGen 18). Her presentations include mental health and genealogy, genetics, ethnic minority research and courthouse research.