Seattle Genealogical Society News


Each quarter, the Seattle Genealogical Society recognizes one member as our volunteer of the quarter. Our Volunteer for Summer 2020 Quarter is Herb McDaniel. 

Herb recently stepped down from co-chairing the DNA SIG. He is an alum of the University of Washington. As a space program systems engineering manager at Boeing, his career highlight was serving as the test conductor of the first Lunar Roving Vehicle, which went to the moon on Apollo 15. Prior to retirement in 1995, he became interested in genealogy and joined SGS.

Herb learned to do his genealogical research at the NARA Facilities on Sandpoint Way, searching through microfiche files of census data, and using the Soundex system to find similar sounding surnames. As more data was digitized, he bought a desktop application to build his family tree, and joined the SGS Computer SIG. Herb put together an extensive family tree for both his paternal, McDaniel, and maternal, Ryan, ancestral lines.

In 2005, DNA testing was beginning to be used to validate family lines. Herb and his wife, Darlene, tested with National Geographic, and later tested at Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, Ancestry DNA and My Heritage. By 2010, the SGS DNA SIG was forming so Herb joined it to learn more about using the various DNA tests. Following the untimely death of one of the DNA SIG founders, Herb volunteered to help Cary Bright as her co-chair.

For the past 9 years, Herb has been successful in using DNA testing to find biological parents of adoptees, as well as half siblings, and other relationships. He has been able to help both SGS members and DNA matches to himself and Darlene in their pursuits. But his biggest surprise was in 2017 as he assigned his DNA matches to his 4 grandparent lines. With over 50 close DNA matches at 3 companies, there were no matches in his maternal grandfather’s line. So he asked a known cousin in the line of his grandfather’s sister to test. The test showed that there were no shared DNA segments, indicating that Herb’s grandfather who raised him was not his biological grandfather. Herb contacted close DNA matches whom he had not been able to assign to one of his grandparents. One of these matches came from a family that had migrated to Saskatchewan to homestead at the same time his grandparents lived there. Canadian census data showed a member of this family lived in the same little town of about 100 people as his grandparents. Now armed with the name of a potential biological grandfather, Herb contacted 2 of the living sons. They agreed to test. The results showed that these 2 matches are younger half-brothers to Herb’s mother. Herb has subsequently been able to meet with his new half-uncles, and they have welcomed him into their family.

Thank you, Herb, for your years of service to the DNA SIG.   

The Seattle Genealogical Society is adhering to the Covid-19 safety precautions, so this Fall we will not be holding any in-person meetings at the SGS Library. Since last spring, we have been successful holding online events via Zoom and we will continue to offer you these quality programs – right in the comfort of your home.

We’ve been busy planning these upcoming educational events:

  • Second Saturday Presentations resume Sept 12
  • A Virtual Cemetery Tour in late Sept
  • Fall Seminar with Blaine Bettinger – Oct 17 (details being finalized)
  • Digging Deeper Workshop: “Finding Your Female Ancestors” on Nov 7
  • Special Interest Groups
  • Online classes
  • How to Use Zoom
  • And more!

To coordinate our upcoming Fall and Spring Seminars, we welcome Elizabeth Miller, our new Seminar Chair. Elizabeth has an extensive background in event planning and a lifelong passion for genealogy. While we say hello to Elizabeth, we say farewell for Lori Lee Sauber. Lori Lee did a stellar job as our Seminar Chair, including our last Spring Seminar with Dr. Fritz Juengling. Lori Lee is not entirely leaving us; she will be our Second Saturday presenter in October. 

SGS is not the only genealogical society going virtual. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 2020 Conference will be live, online on September 2nd. Speakers will include CeCe Moore, Thomas W. Jones, Ari Wilkins, Judy G. Russell, and Lisa Louise Cooke. All the details can be found here:

Check the SGS Calendar of Events on our website for details on all of our upcoming events. And stay connected on Facebook and by reading our eNews!

If you have a program you’d like SGS to offer, please contact Heidi Mair, Director of Education,      

  As part of our commemoration of Women’s Suffrage, we are sharing women’s stories of 100 and more years ago. You may read all of the women’s stories on the SGS website:

This month, Lori Lee Sauber shares the story of her search for her Mayflower ancestors, utilizing the SGS Library collections. Lori Lee will reveal more details at her Second Saturday presentation on October 10, 2020.

SGS CALENDAR OF EVENTS*** In consideration of COVID-19 social distancing recommendations, the SGS Library is closed until further notice and all SGS in-person events have been canceled, postponed, or replaced with an online event.

Saturday, August 1, 2020, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm,  

SGS Centennial Planning Meeting (Virtual), Join in – help us brainstorm ideas on how to commemorate our centennial. As always, you will find the Zoom meeting id link on the Calendar of Events section of the SGS Website.