Grays Harbor Fundraiser Workshop Set for Saturday

Photo by Eric Timmons; published in The Vidette, Montesano.

The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society is sponsoring a fundraiser workshop on Saturday, 13 Oct 2018 with Portland area professional genealogist Pam Vestal. The workshop will be 1:00 – 3:15 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 112 W. First St., Aberdeen. Cost is $25/person. ***Check out the special deal at the end of this post!***

Pam has donated her time and talent to help the society recover from the massive fire at the Aberdeen Armory on June 9 that destroyed their research library. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be dedicated to rebuilding the research library’s genealogical collections. Pam will be presenting (1) “Voting Records” and (2) “Finding What You Need & Making the Most of What You Find.”

*** If you sign up in advance, you’re eligible to attend a FREE morning session (10:00) with Pam called “Beyond Obituaries: Discovering Your Ancestor’s Life in Records of Death.” Just send an email to

Latest on Grays Harbor Research Library

Fire at Aberdeen Armory, home of the GHGS Research Library, 09 Jun 2018

The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society has had a few ups and downs recently as they begin to rebuild their research library. As you may remember, their library was destroyed by a three-alarm fire that destroyed the Aberdeen Armory on 09 Jun 2018. The fire also destroyed much of the Aberdeen Museum of History, Coastal Community Action Program and the Aberdeen Senior Center.

What GHGS lost

While it may take years to determine everything that was lost, the society is particularly saddened about the loss of:

  • More than 22,000 hard copy obituaries that were taped to index cards and stuffed tightly in metal file cabinets. Fortunately, a digital newspaper obit index was stored off-site. Efforts are being made to find area obituaries at other locations, such as local libraries.
  • Thousands of mortuary records from now closed Whiteside and Elerding Funeral Homes, for funerals from 1907 – 2015. The Washington State Library has graciously offered to scan their collection of over 200 four-inch binders.
  • Birth, marriage and death records from the 1970s to 1907.
  • Chehalis County Marriage Index from the 1850s to 1990s.
  • Unique compilations of cemetery inventories for outlying cemeteries.
  • Tables, chairs, pencils, pens, notepads, wastepaper baskets, bulletin boards, photographs, signage…you get the idea.

Current situation

The cause of the fire is still undetermined. In addition, we are still unable to get inside the building. At last report, the City of Aberdeen (owners of the building) need to hire a structural engineer to assess the building’s integrity. After that, a separate company will be hired to clean up the building, then a third company to carry out the recovery. The City has activated a Board of Museum and History to discuss the future of the Aberdeen Museum.

Thanks to the generous donations from fellow genealogical societies and individuals, we were able to purchase a photocopier and two computers. We were also able to find a temporary space, compliments of the Hoquiam Library. Due to a remodeling project at the library, however, we have had to move again — into members’ spare rooms and storage.

What we’re looking for

Donation from Clallam County Genealogical Society

We’ve been extraordinarily grateful to those local societies and individuals who have offered financial aid and resources. We have suspended our Go Fund Me page, but donations may still be made directly to GHGS, P.O. Box 916, Aberdeen, WA 98520.

We’re very much on the lookout for Grays Harbor-related materials like old city directories, telephone books, school yearbooks, family histories, obituaries, etc. No donation is too small. Many societies have scoured their holdings and sent us area-specific books. If you have materials related specifically to Grays Harbor or Chehalis Counties, we’d love to hear from you at

What’s next

We are sponsoring a workshop fundraiser on Saturday, October 13, from 1:00 – 3:15 at the American Legion Hall, 115 W. First Street, Aberdeen. Professional genealogist Pam Vestal from the Portland area has donated her time and talent for the two-session workshop fundraiser. The cost is $25 per person. Those that sign up early may attend a free class with Pam in the morning. For more information, contact

Final word

No update on our situation would be complete without thanking all those who have contacted us to express their sympathies and support. Every message, donation and kind word has been humbly appreciated.

Eastside Gen Soc Uses Innovative Grant for Workshop

Maureen Taylor (left) and Celia McNay, Eastside Genealogical Society President

The Eastside Genealogical Society threw itself a 40th birthday party on Saturday, 15 Sep 2018. The society has been celebrating every month this year in a small way, but really hit the big time hosting Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, in an all-day workshop in Bellevue. The workshop was free to EGS members as a thank you for 40 years of support, while others paid a small fee. Ms. Taylor presented Photo Detecting 101, Google Images and Beyond and Discovering Genealogical Clues in Photographs. Well done, value-added presentations all around.

EGS used its 2018 WSGS Innovative Grant to help fund the workshop — an excellent use of the grant. Besides the Eastside Genealogical Society, the four other successful 2018 grant winners were:

  • Lower Columbia Genealogical Society to purchase genealogical books to donate to the Longview Public Library for public use. Lower Columbia has generously donated books for a number of years, using money from membership dues and their coffee stops.
  • Okanogan Genealogical Society to help purchase supplies to repair and preserve books holding the “Tonasket Times” newspaper from 1913 – 1952.
  • Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society to help publish a book on “Early Stillaguamish Valley Schools” in the Arlington Area.
  • Wenatchee Area Genealogical Society for digital preservation of family records, library holdings and archival documents.

More information about the deadlines for the 2019 Innovative Grants will be publicized in the coming months.

Day 3 at the Northwest Genealogy Conference

How time flies when you’re having fun! The last day of the Northwest Genealogy Conference was again filled with classes, networking, book sales, vendors and amazing discoveries.

Our keynote speaker for the day was Beth Foulk, whose energetic style entertained us with tales from colonial immigration to the importance of the crossroads state of Missouri to the battle for bounty lands. My “extra” class was Rich Venezia‘s “Emerald Isle Express: Researching Irish Ancestors.” He gave me some new resources and encouragement in finding my Irish ancestors. My hopes spring eternal that I’ll find ol’ Patrick Murphy (no middle name) and Lawrence Ryan (also no middle name and the son of a string of like-named men).

Stilly President Ruth Caesar with conference co-chairs Phil and Lisa Bartlow

I can’t heap enough praise on the amazing volunteers from conference hosts Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society. Did you know it takes approximately 2,500 hours to ensure the success of this conference — and it shows! I look forward to it every year. In fact, I’ve already marked my calendar for next year’s conference: August 14 – 17, 2019. Michael Strauss and Thomas MacEntee have already jumped on board to headline two of the days.

Day 2 at the Northwest Genealogy Conference

One of the most entertaining features of the Northwest Genealogy Conference is the “Dress Like Your Ancestor Day.” It was so fun to see attendees dressed as their Salem Witch ancestor (complete with noose), Norwegian (or German or New England or Irish or…other parts of the globe) ancestor. We all love to talk about our ancestors and today it was so fun to see them walking around the conference.

Peggy Lauritzen was our keynote speaker today. Her presentations ranged from migrations into the Shenandoah Valley to the Amish and Mennonites to researching school records. She’s always entertaining and certainly “delivered the goods” today!

My two “extra” classes today were Katherine Willson’s “40+ Sources for Finding Females’ Maiden Names” and “Coming to Your Census: Using State Census Records” with Daniel Earl. Really good stuff! I’m excited to use the tips and resources they shared.

The evening closed with the annual banquet at the Gleneagle Golf Course. CeCe Moore once again entertained the sold-out crowd with stirring stories of reuniting families, healing old wounds and solving criminal cases using genetic genealogy. We are so lucky to have her at the Northwest Genealogy Conference as her travels and professional demands are mounting. Lucky us!

Tomorrow’s the last day of the conference, but a full one. Besides hearing three plenary sessions with keynoter Beth Foulk and two other classes, I need to make sure I visit the vendors, including the Heritage Quest Research Library book sale. So much to pack in!

Day 1 at the Northwest Genealogy Conference

Sue Walde, Helen Eliason and Joanne Wetmore pose proudly with their recently published book, “Early Stillaguamish Schools.” For sale at the conference.

More than 300 of us were treated to a full day of everything genealogy — from DNA to Catholics and coroners (no, not together — separate classes!). We were all over the map, including learning about historical maps, Swedish, Maryland and Michigan research. Oh, the places we went together!

A crowd waits patiently to talk to CeCe after her presentation.

CeCe Moore, today’s keynoter, took us on quite an adventure into the world of Autosomal DNA during three plenary sessions. She packed so much information into them, she ran over her scheduled time slot. Responding to the crowd’s cheers of “Keep going!,” she graciously complied. Her personal stories and case studies were particularly interesting and heartwarming, bringing home the importance of being on the cusp of this developing science. If you haven’t purchased a ticket to Friday night’s banquet, you’re out of luck unless the Help Desk has a few from those unable to attend. CeCe will be talking about “Making History with Genetic Genealogy.” She’ll share behind-the-scenes experiences and research in her role in using DNA to solve family mysteries.

In addition to today’s three main sessions with CeCe, we were able to choose an additional morning and afternoon class. It was difficult to choose from the array of topics, but I finally settled on Lisa Oberg‘s “Catholic Catechism: Researching Your Catholic Ancestors” and Michael Strauss‘s “Historical Maps: The World at Your Fingertips.” Great choices! Michael’s class was so popular, we had to move to a larger room to accommodate the crowd!

Tomorrow’s going to be great fun! It’s “Dress Like Your Ancestor” day. You can still register for the day. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. We’re waiting for you!



It’s Here! Northwest Genealogy Conference

What a great way to start one of the region’s best learning and networking opportunities: a free day at the Northwest Genealogy Conference!

Almost 250 genealogists gathered at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center in Arlington to take part in pre-conference classes on Wednesday, August 15, 2018. Most attended the free beginning genealogy class “Let’s Start Off on the Right Foot!” with Amie Bowser Tennant. Even those of us oldies (but goodies) learned more than a few new tricks, resources and how-to’s.

There were also three specialized workshops available to attendees. Those lucky enough to get into CeCe Moore‘s “Digging Deeper With Autosomal DNA” (filled up online in just SEVEN minutes!), learned tools and steps to understand genetic genealogy. Janet Camarata taught a class in how to use Family Search more efficiently and effectively while Mary Kircher Roddy taught a class on how to use Excel for genealogy.

The evening closed with a “Meet and Greet” taco bar at the Gleneagle Golf Course. What a great way to see old friends and make new ones.

Tomorrow we’ll be treated to three plenary sessions with CeCe Moore. Did you see CeCe’s recent interview with Megyn Kelly on solving crime cases with DNA? Check it out here. So interesting! In addition to CeCe’s presentations, we’ll also have to choose just two classes from the ten offered — everything from Catholic ancestors and coroner’s records to historical maps and Swedish research. Combing through the 150+ page syllabus now. Will be hard to choose!

If you aren’t one of the 300+ people who have already registered for the conference, don’t despair! You can register at the door for one day, two days or all three! You can’t register online anymore, but show up at the door and the uber-efficient volunteers from conference host Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society will get you set up. Just show up early! Doors open at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center at 7:30 a.m.

More tomorrow…


NWGC Starts Wednesday

It’s not too late to register for one of the premier conferences in the region! The Northwest Genealogy Conference opens on Wednesday, Aug. 15.

Here’s some of what’s in store:

Wednesday, August 15:

  • FREE Beginning Genealogy Class starts at 1:00 p.m. Amie Bowser Tennant will help beginners (and not-so-beginners) learn how to get started (or restarted). If you plan to attend, but forgot haven’t registered, please register here. The class is free, but organizers need a count to insure there are enough materials.
  • Meet & Greet Taco Bar from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.  at the Gleneagle Golf Club. Available for full conference attendees. Registration is $5. No host bar available. If you plan to attend but forgot to register, please go to to register.

Thursday, August 16:

  • Registration opens bright and early at 7:30 a.m. at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center, 18821 Crown Ridge Blvd., Arlington. The conference organizers have been hard at work for months and months to ensure you have a great time.
  • A full day of classes, including three keynote sessions with CeCe Moore. WSGS will also be holding a society management class in Room 113 during the lunch period. Come listen to WSGS Vice President Donna Potter Phillips talk about “How to Lasso a Good Speaker” for your society meetings.
  • Vendors and Information Tables. Make sure you visit the vendors and informational tables in the common area and classrooms.
  • A Night on the Town in downtown Arlington. Fifteen local businesses will stay open until 8:00 p.m. to allow conference attendees to browse and shop. Many shops will have appetizers and door prizes.

Friday, August 17:

  • A full day of classes, including three keynote sessions with Peggy Lauritzen. Also, Ginny Majewski, WSGS President, will conduct a class called “So, Now You’ve Been Elected” for society society officers and members. The class will be in Room 113 during the lunch period.
  • Dress as Your Ancestor Day. Rent/buy/make a costume to honor an ancestor or your heritage. Every year more attendees are taking part in this fun activity. There are consignment shops downtown Arlington that have costumes also.
  • Conference Banquet with CeCe Moore. Listen to CeCe talk about making history with genetic genealogy. The banquet requires pre-registration and, at last report, was almost sold out. No tickets will be sold at the door. If there’s still room, you can register here.

Saturday, August 18:

  • Our last full day of classes, learning, shopping and networking. Beth Foulk will be the keynote speaker for two sessions.
  • Heirloom Jewelry. Is it trash or is it treasure? Bring some of your heirloom jewelry items with you and find out. We will offer FREE expert analysis on Saturday during lunch. Sign-up at the Info Desk anytime during the conference to reserve your time…limit of 3-4 pieces please.

Don’t miss this conference! You can register for all three days, just one or even at the door. Click here for more information.

Grays Harbor Fire Update

The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society is rising from the ashes after the total loss of their research library in a raging fire on June 9, 2018. The 3-alarm fire at the Aberdeen Armory also destroyed most of the Aberdeen Museum of History, Coastal Community Action and Aberdeen Senior Center. Occupants are still unable to get inside the building according to the Daily World newspaper update on July 27, 2018.

In the meantime, GHGS is moving ahead, thanks in large part to the generosity of many individuals, organizations and genealogical societies. The Hoquiam Library has offered a temporary space to set up shop. With funds collected from the Go Fund Me campaign and donations directly to GHGS, a copy machine and computer have been purchased and installed. Members are hoping to purchase a second computer, printer, office furniture and office supplies soon.

Two fundraising events benefiting the society have been organized. The American Legion Post 5 (Aberdeen) is sponsoring two bingo sessions and a raffle on Saturday, August 11. All proceeds from the bingo sessions, food and raffle will go directly to GHGS. A second fundraiser will be a workshop with Portland-area genealogist Pam Vestal on Saturday, October 13. Ms. Vestal reached out and generously offered to donate her time and talent at a three-session workshop. More information will be forthcoming.

For more information about the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society, the fire or the research library, contact GHGS President Gary Parfitt.

Northwest Genealogy Conference Still Has Room for You

Are you looking for a genealogical learning experience on par with the big national conferences, but with a more intimate setting and personal feel? If so, the Northwest Genealogy Conference is the conference for you! The conference is August 15 – 19, 2018, at the Byrnes Performing Art Center in Arlington, Washington — and still has spots open. To register, click here.

Like the national conferences, there are nationally known speakers on a wide range of topics. This year’s keynote speakers, Ce Ce Moore, Beth Foulk and Peggy Lauritzen, are well known in genealogical circles. In fact, you’ve likely heard about Ce Ce in the news lately. She’s garnered national attention for the DNA assistance she provided to law enforcement which led to arrests in several murder cold cases.

For the beginning genealogist (and those needing a “refresher”), there will be a free class on Wednesday, the 15th, and for the more serious, there are additional in-depth workshops offered that day.

Unlike the big conferences, NWGC offers a much more intimate and personal setting with much less walking. Along with the great education that you will receive, there are also fun activities such as “Dress as Your Ancestor Day,” the cousin match board, door prizes and more.

See for more information and to register. See you there!