SCRIBE……and lovin’ it!

Last few dreary, rainy days I’ve been indexing Washington state records through the digital archives program, SCRIBE. As you see, I’ve done 470 names….. may seem like a lot but you’ll also notice that I’m only number 159 on the list which means that 158 folks have done way more than me.

Notice WSGS past president, Steve Baylor’s number? And Charles Hansen’s number?

IT’S NOT ABOUT NUMBERS…… it’s about paying it forward, making a contribution to the genealogy community of Washington state. I like the knowing feeling that I’m helping.

What about you??????

Update on the Grays Harbor Gene Society Situation

Big thank you to the Fiske Genealogical Foundation (aka Fiske Library) in Seattle and to Dave Brazier their newsletter compiler and editor. This blurb just came today, from the Fall 2018 issue:

On Saturday morning, June 9, 2018, a fire destroyed the Aberdeen Armory which housed the Aberdeen Museum of History, the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society Research Library and a social services
organization. While some artifacts from the Museum were saved, the GHGS Research Library was a total loss.

Assistance in providing funds, supplies and research materials have been generously offered by many organizations and supporters. The Society is currently being hosted by the library in Hoquiam  while they work to find a permanent home.

The Fiske Genealogical Foundation Board agreed to offer GHGS whatever they wanted from our surplus book list. As it turned out, we did not have much of what they needed. Before the fire GHGS had culled their library
of all but those books dealing with the local area–indeed, the Fiske library benefitted from that redistribution. But we were able to send them a mint condition copy of the 2-volume Lewis County Centennial History and a book on early schools in Washington State.

Beyond books, the most serious losses were approximately 22,000 copies of area obituaries, 200 binders ofvfuneral home records dating from 1907 to 2015, unpublished local history and responses to queries.

Research volunteer Bonnie Johannes reports: Since 2011 I have done most of the researches for GHGS. Fortunately, I’ve kept a log (short notes of
each request along with post or e-mail addresses). It will not surprise me that I’ve done 350-400 from likely every state in the union and several from Europe. We did lose all the copies of those researches in the fire along with all others that were done previously. It was a packed 4-drawer steel
cabinet. I am in the process of contacting as many of these past clients as possible to have them copy the documents that were sent them and return to us. We will be digitizing all from now forward.

If you have research, obituaries or family histories from the Grays Harbor area, please contact Bonnie via . Grays Harbor Genealogical Society meetings are currently held at the
Hoquiam Timberland Regional Library meeting room at 420 7th Street, Hoquiam, Washington. Visitors are always welcome. The GHGS website is at

What can all genealogical societies in Washington learn from this disaster? Think seriously about this………….

Saluting A Charter Member of WSGS

Virginia DeVine Fitzpatrick was a charter member of WSGS way back at the 1982 meeting in Olympia. When I asked her “”why did you join WSGS?” She answered she’d been active in the Clallam County Genealogical Society and Historical Society and she, along with like-minded others, felt a state society would be a good thing. Virginia was one of the first Regional Reps and she remembers “driving all over this half of the state.”


Virginia has a most interesting genealogical history and most of it in Clallam County, Washington. Her widowed great-grandmother, Willie Ann (McCormick) Stewart, came to Port Angeles in 1896 along with her son, George, and daughter, Kate. “They came from the Midwest and I’ve never been able to learn why they came way out west to Port Angeles…that was a very long and very hard trip, no doubt. Mr. Stewart was a Civil War veteran so perhaps that had something to do with the facts,” Virginia recited to me. That daughter, Kate, married Horace White in 1901; he was the first mayor of Port Angeles. Their daughter was Willie Virginia White, born in 1903 in Port Angeles, who married Harry Edward Devine in 1926 in Port Angeles. Their daughter was Virginia Devine, born in 1930 in Port  Angeles, who married Michael Fitzpatrick.


I salute Virginia DeVine Fitzpatrick as a 4th-generation “pioneer” in Clallam County and as a Charter Member of the Washington State Genealogical Society.

Looking for Peter & Hilda (Anderson) Peterson Descendants

Heraldry Learning Offer !

Dear Family Historians,

Janette and I are long-standing members of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society and over the years we have compiled seven books on the history of our families.  One of those books dealt with the heraldry of my ancestors.

Recently I prepared a presentation on what I learned about heraldry at one of our society’s annual workshops.  The focus of this presentation was, of course, all about heraldry, but also how the genealogist/family historian might be able to use heraldry to learn more about their ancestors.  I use many examples from a ten-year search of my ancestors’ crests and coats of arms and what the many images, forms, and colors mean.

We are offering to share this presentation with other family history/genealogy-based societies and groups.  It is easily one hour or longer in length depending on interest and questions and I bring along our own overhead projector.

We are willing to travel up to 200 miles from Spokane to share information on this exciting topic and there is no fee.   A two-page summary is provided on request.

Please contact me if there is interest.

Anthony (Tony) Birch

12230 S. Gwendolyn Lane

Cheney, WA 99004-8533


Seattle Municipal Archives Adds New Resource

The Seattle Municipal Archives recently added a guide to SMA’s genealogical resources and how to find your ancestors in city records. The guide is available on their website.

The Seattle Municipal Archives is located on the third floor of Seattle’s City Hall at 600 Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle. The building is between Fourth and Fifth Avenues and James and Cherry Streets. The Archives is co-located with the Office of the City Clerk.

For more information about the SMA, contact Jeanie Fisher, Reference Archivist, Seattle Municipal Archives at

What Do YOU Want For Christmas??

Moorshead Magazines, publishers of three terrific genealogy-helpful magazines, is offering WSGS members a wonderful opportunity…wouldn’t you enjoy a subscription to one of these magazines as a gift from your kids rather than a sweater, a tie or a box of candy???

Ed Zapletal and Rick Cree and I have been friends for years and when I approached them with this idea, they gave a resounding “thumbs up.”

And here is the great news! For each subscription to any one of these magazines, Ed and Rick will issue a $3 “rebate” check back to WSGS. What could be better than such a win-win??

Here’s what you must do: Click to or  and sign up for a specially discounted $20 subscription (6 issues, one year, each magazine). Rick cautioned me that “it is imperative that they indicate the code WSGS. This will have to be put in the area where we ask for their ID number (the actual wording on the box is: if available, please include your subscription ID number when renewing your subscription)…”  And yes, you can pay by credit card.

So plan to enjoy your special Christmas gift and know that while you are enriching your mind, you’re helping to fund the educational projects of WSGS.

Let’s Keep Indexing

The Washington State Genealogical Society thanks all who participated in our Digital Archives indexing effort throughout Family History Month (October). Whether you indexed one record or 1,000, each is appreciated and valued. So, let’s keep it up! There are still thousands of records to be indexed so a future researcher can benefit from your efforts.

We’d like to know if you indexed any Digital Archives records during the month of October. Just leave a comment on this posting to let us know. Thanks for your continued efforts!

George Washington in Centralia….did you know?

Centralia has a most unusual founding story. A black man, George Washington, born a slave in 1817 in Virginia, is given the credit for founding of Centralia. This Lewis County town claims the distinction of being the only town in the west founded by a person of color. George’s story was highlighted in 2017, the 200th anniversary of his birth and when he was remembered as a leading African American pioneer in the Pacific Northwest.

George was born to a white English woman but his father was a slave that was sold away when George was an infant. His mother, wanting her child to be free, gave him to her friends, James and Anna Cochran, to raise. The Cochrans were good, honorable people, and took George with them as they migrated to Ohio and then Missouri. There, in 1843, George became a “free and legal citizen” of Missouri by a special act of the Missouri legislature. Even with this document, fearing he might lose his freedom after the passage of the Compromise of 1850, George and the Cochrans took the famous trail to Oregon. Once there, and even then, he could not establish a land claim for himself when the family settled near the confluence of the Chehalis and Skookumchuck rivers and the Cochrans claimed land in 1852. When Washington Territory was split from Oregon Territory in 1853, the new territory’s laws did not preclude Negroes from owning land and the Cochrans sold their land to him. George cared for his adoptive parents the rest of their lives.

Anticipating the arrival of the Northern Pacific railroad in 1872, George platted the city of Centerville (now Centralia) on his land, naming the streets after Biblical references and setting aside land for a park and churches of many denominations. Centerville/Centralia was incorporated in 1886.

Despite facing some racial prejudice at the hands of newcomers…many of whom migrated from the segregated post-Civil War south), George supported the town in all ways clear until his death in 1905.

It is right and fitting that Lewis County, and certainly Centralia, celebrated George Washington, the founder of their town.


References:  Patty Olsen, who lives in Centralia, first shared news of this story with me and sent me several copied references. Thanks, Patty!

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