Jo Linker Named One of WSGS’s Outstanding Volunteers in 2023

Since 2003, the Washington State Genealogical Society has recognized over 600 outstanding volunteers and teams, nominated by their local society or genealogical organization for their service and dedication. These volunteers are the backbone of their local society, giving their time and expertise, to the organization and the field of genealogy. In the coming months, you will be introduced to each of the 2023 award recipients and learn why they received the 2023 WSGS Outstanding Volunteer and Team Award.

Today we’re introducing Jo Linker of Aberdeen, Washington, who was nominated by the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society (GHGS).

In 2010, Jo Linker became one of eight new members in Grays Harbor Genealogy Society. Today, she is the only one of those eight who is still active!

Jo works behind the scenes for the good of the society – providing refreshments for meetings, volunteering for special projects, and helping others at the Genealogy Café. In 2013 Jo was part of a committee that organized a successful workshop featuring expert genealogist and popular lecturer Mary Kathryn Kozy. In 2015 and 2016, she served as a trustee.

Jo’s biggest contribution, however, has been as treasurer. In late 2015, the society’s longtime treasurer passed away leaving a huge void and a position no one wanted. Jo stepped up and has held the position for seven years. She has attended a number of statewide and regional genealogy conferences to hone her skills and stay current in the genealogy field.

For more information on the WSGS Outstanding Volunteer Award program, visit the Recognition page of the WSGS website or contact Info@wasgs.org. Please type “Volunteer Award” in the subject line.

Grays Harbor Genealogy Society Genealogy Cafes

Aberdeen and Elma Timberland Libraries

The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society will host Genealogy Cafés. Whether you’re new to genealogy or experienced, you’ll learn about local resources, as well as get individualized help using the library’s online resources and print materials. This free program is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. No registration is necessary.

Regards,

Debbie Stiles-Lusk

Aberdeen, Grays Harbor County, Washington, USA

360-624-6258, debbie.stileslusk@gmail.com

Meet the Board: Roxanne Lowe

Do you know who’s running the show at the Washington State Genealogical Society? Who are these people? In the coming months, we’ll introduce them to you, so you can say “hi” the next time you see them. (Note: a variation of Roxanne’s story was published in September 2017.)

Roxanne in 1958, age 3

In today’s “Meet the Board” series, we’re introducing you to Roxanne Lowe. Roxanne lives in McCleary (Grays Harbor County) and is WSGS’s secretary, web manager and on the blog team. She’s also in charge of the Recognition program. She has been a member of the WSGS since 2008. She was named as a WSGS Outstanding Volunteer in 2010. She’s a proud, long-time member of the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society, serving as president and newsletter editor of the GHGS Family Tree Searcher newsletter.

Roxanne was born in Aberdeen, Washington in January 1955, the first child of George and Patricia (Murphy) Ferbrache. She is the great-granddaughter of Patrick Murphy and Mary Donovan who moved to the Chehalis River Valley in the spring of 1888 from New Brunswick, Canada.

Patrick Murphy, Roxanne’s great-grandfather

Roxanne’s interest in genealogy began as a child. Her paternal grandmother gave her a written family history, loaded with names, dates and locations. It was many years, however, before Roxanne learned enough about genealogy to realize that:

• Ferbrache can be spelled a multitude of ways.
• There may be more than one (or two or 10) Daniel Murphy’s, Lawrence Ryan’s – and even Thomas Ferbrache’s.
• Middle names are not a big deal in her family (Roxanne doesn’t even have one).
• Her descendants moved around – a lot – with little or no regard to leaving a paper trail.
• Whoever wrote that family history was a creative writer.

Fortunately for Roxanne, she joined the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society who taught her a thing or two about genealogy research. She’s attended many conferences, workshops and seminars – learning something new at each. She’s even traveled to Ireland and New Brunswick, Canada looking for Murphy’s and Ryan’s. Next on her travel wish list is to go to Guernsey in the Channel Islands (with a side stop in London) to visit her Ferbrache ancestral land.

Roxanne retired a few years ago from the Washington State Auditor’s Office in Olympia. She had previously worked for Governors Gregoire and Locke as a project manager on the welfare and performance measure programs. When not searching for her family history, she enjoys scrapbooking, quilting, sewing, machine embroidery and just about every other paper and fabric art. She and her husband Gary have five children and nine adored grandchildren. You can often read about Roxanne’s fun-filled adventures with her grandchildren on her Facebook page.

Roxanne on Stanserhorn Mountain in Switzerland, June 2023.

A few more interesting tidbits about Roxanne:
• Favorite genealogy websites: Ancestry, MyHeritage and Google
• Favorite color: Red
• Favorite dessert: Apple pie
• When asked for one word that described her, she replied, “Busy!”

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

Lee Thomasson Named One of 2022’s Outstanding Volunteers

Since 2003, the Washington State Genealogical Society has recognized over 600 outstanding volunteers and teams, nominated by their local society or genealogical organization for their service and dedication. These volunteers are the backbone of their local society, giving their time and expertise, to the organization and the field of genealogy. In the coming weeks, you will be introduced to each of the 2022 award recipients and learn why they received the 2022 WSGS Outstanding Volunteer and Team Award.

Today we’re introducing Lee Thomasson of Hoquiam, Washington, who was nominated by the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society.

Lee Thomasson

Lee joined GHGS 25 years ago and has been involved ever since. He is a past president, has served on research committees, and is currently cemetery chair.  Lee and two other members spent countless hours indexing graves in seven nearby cemeteries and he assisted another member in locating numerous unrecorded graves in Hoquiam’s Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery after a landslide covered them years ago.

For many years, Lee was the van driver for various genealogical expeditions, transporting up to 15 members per trip to Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia and he initiated the planning of a research trip to Salt Lake City for 10 members.

At the society’s monthly meetings, Lee readily shares his latest, often unusual, ancestral finds or living cousin story. Many are interested in his lineage to the Civil and Revolutionary Wars – he has held members’ interest often with his family stories and artifacts. 

For more information on the WSGS Outstanding Volunteer Award program, visit the Recognition page of the WSGS website or contact Info@wasgs.org. Please type “Volunteer Award” in the subject line.

Grays Harbor Research Library Is Open For Business

Great news! After a year of restoration and reorganization, the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society Research Library is open for business on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Hoquiam Library, 420 7th Street, Hoquiam.

The society’s research 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. The cause of the fire was never determined.

The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society’s Research Library was housed on the 1st floor of the Amory Building.

The losses were catastrophic to the small society which had been housed at the location since 2003. Staffed completely by volunteers, the research library lost:

  • More than 22,000 hard copy obituaries that were taped to index cards and stuffed tightly in metal file cabinets were lost. Fortunately, a digital newspaper obit index was stored off-site.
  • Thousands of mortuary records from now closed Whiteside and Elerding Funeral Homes, for funerals from 1907 – 2015. The Washington State Library graciously offered to scan their collection of over 200 four-inch binders.
  • Birth, marriage and death records from the 1870s 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.

Thanks to the generous donations from fellow genealogical societies and individuals, Grays Harbor Gen Soc was able to purchase signage, a photocopier/scanner, computers, shelving, binders, pencils, and furniture. They were also able to find a temporary space, compliments of the Hoquiam Library.

Donation from the Clallam County Gen Soc

GHGS is still very much on the lookout for Grays Harbor-related materials like old city directories, telephone books, school yearbooks, family histories, obituaries, etc. If you have materials related specifically to Grays Harbor or Chehalis Counties, they’d love to hear from you at Info@GraysHarborGenealogy.com.

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 Info@GraysHarborGenealogy.com.

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 Info@GraysHarborGenealogy.com.

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 Info@GraysHarborGenealogy.com.

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.

Grays Harbor Genealogical Society Workshop Fundraiser

The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society is sponsoring a workshop fundraiser benefiting their recovery efforts from the June 9 fire that destroyed their research library. Professional genealogist Pam Vestal from the Portland area has donated her talents for the 2-class workshop. Those that sign up early, may attend a free class with Pam in the morning. For more information, contact Info@GraysHarborGenealogy.com.

 

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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 info@graysharborgenealogy.com . 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 http://www.graysharborgenealogy.com/index.php

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