Meet the Board: Frank McLean

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.

Frank McLean

In today’s “Meet the Board” series, we’re introducing you to Frank McLean. Frank lives in Yakima and is WSGS’s chair of the Pioneer and First Citizen Program and the Conference Liaison. He has been a member of the WSGS since 1986, previously serving as President and Vice President. He was named as a WSGS Outstanding Volunteer in 2003, 2005 and 2006. He’s been a proud member (and past President) of the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society since 1986.

Frank’s high school picture

Frank Leroy McLean was born in Chewelah (Stevens County), Washington in 1937 to Jonathan Cornelius and Margaret Ella (Starz) McLean, the third of six children. After high school, Frank served proudly in the Army for 20-plus years, then worked for 19 years at the U.S. Department of Defense, with a short break in between working in Spokane. In 1958, Frank married Delma Dee Roloff. They have three surviving children and seven grandchildren.

Frank has a special interest and knack in technology and computers. In fact, he maintains a database for the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia Society that holds about 560,000 names. He also manages the WSGS Pioneer and First Citizen certificate database — almost 30,000 strong. For an index of the names, click here.

Frank, Delma and their children

John Robertson McLean (1847 – 1919)

Speaking of Germans from Russia…that’s how Frank got his interest in genealogy. No, he doesn’t have German ancestors from Russia, but Delma does. She joined the Central Washington chapter of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia Society in 1985 and Frank tagged along as “driver, cemetery walker and microfilm cranker.” From there, his interest grew. His ancestors hail from Germany, Nova Scotia,  Maine and Minnesota. Frank’s grandfather, John Robertson McLean (pictured at left) was born in Nova Scotia, but moved to St. James, Minnesota in 1870. While there, he started a church in a boxcar on a siding. Frank and his family attended the 125th anniversary of the church, where they were given a copy of the picture that hangs in the church. There is also a miniature replica of the boxcar on the lawn in front of the church.

Frank likes the research part of the genealogical search, but he’s not as thrilled with the documentation part. He also prefers his hard-copy paper charts and lists over paperless research.

A few more interesting tidbits about Frank:
• Favorite genealogy website: Family Search
• Favorite color: Blue
• Favorite dessert: Lemon Cream Pie

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

Meet the Board: Opal Myhres

Opal Myhres

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.

In today’s “Meet the Board” series, we’re introducing you to Opal Myhres. Opal lives in Yakima and is WSGS’s Region 5 Representative for Kittitas, Klickitat and Yakima Counties. She is a proud member of the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society where she has been president, secretary and treasurer. She is currently the head librarian of YVGS’s amazing research library located at 1901 S. 12th Street in Union Gap. Between the 18,000+ bound volumes on the shelves and the massive microfilm/microfiche collection, the library hosts an equivalent collection of 35,000 volumes of genealogical research material covering all 50 states and a large number of foreign countries. Quite a job to be the head librarian!

Mr. and Mrs. Louis Myhres

Opal Irene Walsh was born in October 8, 1927 in northern Minnesota. Her parents Charles and Ethel (Olson) Walsh named their first daughter after October’s birthstone – the opal. She was the oldest girl in a family of five boys and three girls. After graduating high school in 1945, Opal married her sweetheart Louis Myhres in 1946 as soon as he got home from the Navy after the war. Not long after, the couple moved to Washington where Louis’s family lived. Opal was a stay-at-home Mom to their two children until Louis was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. When Louis went back to school, Opal went to work for Sears until 1974 when he had to retire. But they soon bought a motorhome, and with Opal as the driver, they hit the road. Louis passed away in 1984 while they were snow-birding in Arizona.

In addition to her two children, Opal is the proud grandmother of three granddaughters – and 12 great-grandchildren, ages 23 to 3.

Opal’s interest in genealogy started early. Her father had always told the family that there was a family Bible that traced his mother’s family back to early England. It was passed down from the youngest son to the youngest son. When Opal and Louis lived in Olympia, she located the son who should have had the Bible who was living in the Seattle area. He told Opal the book was too fragile to send, but there was a book with the same info in the Seattle Library. What an amazing find! Opal copied it, and later found one to purchase. The book outlined the family lineage from England to Massachusetts from 1635, through the generations of Opal’s paternal line — the George Weekes family. Opal’s father also knew that his family came from Washington County, NY and his father was the youngest of 14, born in 1848. Opal went to the Olympia library and met Alma Greenwood, former WSGS president, who showed her how to order a census and how to find him. From those two experiences, Opal was able to fill in details about many members of her family – and become “hooked” on genealogy.

Besides being a member of the Washington State Genealogical Society since 2002 (and a WSGS Outstanding Volunteer in 2005), Opal belongs to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) where she is the state Archivist; the Daughters of the American Colonists, Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge, and Sons of Norway. She is also a former member of the Colonial Dames.

When she’s not researching her family roots, Opal enjoys quilting, embroidery and reading.

A few more interesting tidbits about Opal:

Favorite color – blue
Favorite dessert – anything chocolate
Favorite genealogy websites – Ancestry and Fold3

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

WSGS Awards Announced at Annual Meeting in Yakima

Many thanks are extended to the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society for hosting the WSGS Annual Meeting and Awards Event on Saturday, 22 April 2017. The annual meeting was held in conjunction with YVGS’s Spring Seminar featuring Jay Fonkert, a Minnesota-based genealogy researcher, educator, and writer who focuses on nineteenth-century Midwest research. Nearly 90 people attended the seminar and annual meeting.

WSGS Vice President Donna Phillips presenting Outstanding Volunteer Award to Patricia McCann Manning from the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society.

Region 6 Representative Janet McKinnon presenting an Outstanding Team member award to husband Mikal McKinnon for his work on the Tri-City Genealogical Society’s Library Recataloging and Renumbering Team.

During the annual meeting and awards lunch, nearly 40 local society members were recognized with Outstanding Volunteer and Team awards. These volunteers were praised for their commitment and energies to promote genealogy and family history in their local communities.

Some of the 2017 local society award winners

Other awards presented included:

  • Outstanding CommunicationWhitman County Genealogical Society for its newsletter filled with personal stories, photos and “snippets from the olden days.” Their newsletter started on in 1984 with just a few pages focusing on Whitman County. Today the newsletter is 10 pages with a continued focus on the county, but has expanded to include a wide variety of genealogy-related articles, designed to educate and entertain the society’s members and other readers. Special acknowledgement was extended to newsletter editor Judy Standar McMurray, with assistance from Monica Bartlett Peters.
  • Outstanding ProjectGrays Harbor Genealogical Society for the preservation of thousands of records from a 100-year-old funeral home that closed suddenly. The records were in danger of being lost or discarded until the society stepped in. Twelve boxes of paper were organized, scanned, cataloged and indexed into 19 binders. While this was an effort tackled by almost half of this small society, special recognition was extended to Cathy Cook, Gary Parfitt, Marlene Payne and Bonnie Johannes.

Five local societies were awarded Innovative Grant Awards. See separate blog feature.

The President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement was presented to Joanne Egbert Calhoun of the Wenatchee Area Genealogical Society. See separate blog feature.

For more photos of the seminar and annual meeting, visit our Facebook page.

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.

Yakima Valley Genealogical Society Spring Seminar

 

The Yakima Valley Genealogical Society Spring Seminar will take place Saturday, April 22, 2017 at Mount Olive Church, 7809 Tieton Drive in Yakima.

One of America’s foremost genealogists and reputed speaker will be speaking on a variety of interesting topics.  Jay Fonkert is considered to be one of the best and most educated genealogical speakers in the country.

Registration can be online at the YVGS website, or at the local genealogical library at 1901 S. 12th Avenue, Union Gap.  Walkins are welcome, however lunch cannot be guaranteed.   Check in and registration 8:00 – 8:50 and seminar will begin at 9:00 am.  $40. until  April 14, $45 after that.

The Washington State Genealogical Society annual meeting will be during the lunch hour honoring outstanding volunteers and interesting projects.

 

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.

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.)