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 Jean.Fisher@seattle.gov.

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 www.internet-genealogy.com or www.yourgenealogytoday.com  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!

Washington history bit…..did you know?

I’m just back from a wonderful trip along the coast of Maine and New Brunswick. At the border (Calais, ME and St. Stephens, NB), and on the Maine side, there is Fort Knox. This fort was constructed for a war that never really came….between 1812 and the Civil War. Now here’s the point:  “Our” Isaac Stevens was the first engineer on this project in 1846…. long before he came west. I found that most interesting. Also, in October virtually all of Maine decorates for Halloween and there are pumpkins everywhere and on every stoop. Thought you’d like to know this too.

Query on Perry Summerfield


Hello, I’m recently re-located back to my roots here in Port Orchard and have been doing some research on my great-great grandfather Perry Summerfield, he lived in the Puyallup area I would say around 1890-1930’s ? Any info would be great. I am planing a drive down there soon, oh and he used to work with Ezra Meeker, a farmer, and something to do with the Wash Fair.
Charles Summerfield <1973lespaulrr@gmail.com>

Visit the Digital Archives

Resident of Equality Colony (Skagit County), Washington, 1900 – 1914. Photographer unknown. State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, www.digitalarchives.wa.gov. Accessed 12 June 2017.

Are you looking for a record related to an ancestor who lived in Washington State or Territory? Minutes of a local government meeting? An historic photo for your family history, newsletter, flyer or presentation (or any other use under the sun!)?

The Washington State Digital Archives, a division of the Secretary of State, is a treasure trove of digitized records, photographs and publications, including birth, marriage, death, census, cemetery and naturalization records. It currently has more than 195 million records preserved, almost 66 million of them are searchable.

One of the photo collections, the “State Library Photograph Collection, 1851 – 1990) consists of 5,274 images of various subjects related to Washington’s history, people, geography, and economic development, from 1851-1990. Subjects include agriculture, Boeing, bridges, canals, Capitol Campus buildings, cities, civilian conservation corps, counties, dams, expositions, fairs, ferries, fishing, forts, ghost towns, historic buildings and houses, historical markers, Indians, lakes, libraries, lighthouses, logging, mountains, parks, portraits, railroads, rivers, schools, Statehood, steamboats, totem poles, trees, universities and colleges, waterfalls, and other subjects.

All of the photos used on our WSGS home page come from the Digital Archives — all are free to use with the appropriate citation (which is even composed for each photo!).

We are so lucky to have such a rich online resource right here in Washington State!

Good News From Kim Wyman

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman has good news to share about her recent cancer fight. According to “Wyman’s Wire”…

I’m happy to report that I’ve finally completed my cancer treatments. Now there’s a period of recovery before I learn the results of the treatments. That will be a challenge, but I’m confident my doctors will help me through it. And of course, I couldn’t do this without the love and support of my family and friends like you. Thank you so much! And don’t forget you can check out all the crazy sock pictures on our Facebook page.

Kim is a good friend to our genealogical community. As Secretary of State, she oversees elections, corporation and charity filings, the Washington State Library, Washington Talking Book & Braille Library, State Archives and Digital Archives. We’ve also supported her by sending our best wishes through paper socks.

To get more updates about Kim and the Secretary of State’s office, subscribe to Wyman’s Wire by clicking here.

Like Dirty Socks, Cancer Stinks!

Kim Wyman

“Like dirty socks, cancer stinks!” Those are the words written on one of the nearly 100 paper socks sent to Kim Wyman, Washington’s Secretary of State who is undergoing treatment for colon cancer. Her latest update is available here.

To show support and encouragement, Kim suggested that people take a photo of their silly socks and post it on her Facebook page with the hashtag #wymanrocksthesocks. Because Kim is such a good friend to our genealogy community, WSGS decided to take it one step further, asking its members to sign a paper sock and send it to her to show how much we care.

We’re encouraging you to take a photo of you in your silliest socks and post it on social media (don’t forget the hashtag #wymanrocksthesocks). OR you can e-mail a photo of your socks to kim.wyman@sos.wa.gov for posting in their online gallery.

The Secretary of State’s office oversees a number of areas within state government, including elections, the State Library and the State Archives.