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 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.

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………….

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.

Grays Harbor Fire Update

Members of the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society, a hearty bunch for sure, are picking themselves up by their boot straps and putting together a plan to restore their Research Library. The library was destroyed in a 3-alarm fire on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Besides the research library, the fire at the Aberdeen Amory also devastated the Aberdeen Museum of History, Coastal Community Action and the Aberdeen Senior Center. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Click here for next day news coverage by the Aberdeen Daily World.

A temporary location at the Hoquiam Regional Library has been secured. Under the leadership of GHGS President Gary Parfitt and a small committee (of a small society), plans are being made to purchase everything from computers and a copier to pencils and paper clips. Generous financial donations from local genealogical societies and individuals from around the state have been humbly accepted. In addition, many societies have offered donations of Grays Harbor-related books and family researches. GHGS is particularly interested in early Polk Directories, telephone books, obituaries, funeral records, identified photographs or family histories (with ties to Grays Harbor or Chehalis Counties). Anyone with materials to donate or reproduce can contact Gary Parfitt at gjparfitt@msn.com. Financial donations can be sent to the society’s Research Library Go Fund Me page or directly to the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 916, Aberdeen, WA 98520.

A personal message to all: We are so thankful for the generosity of so many — some known to us, others strangers. We would never want this catastrophe to happen to any individual or society, but if it did, we hope you would experience the kindnesses we have. Sincerely, Roxanne Lowe, Proud member of the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society

Update on Grays Harbor Gen Soc Research Library

The GHGS Research Library was housed in the Aberdeen Armory Building, built in 1922. Photo by Bonnie Johannes.

Members of the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society are slowly coming to grips with the fiery loss of their research library. The library was housed in the Aberdeen Armory which also included the Aberdeen Museum of History, Coastal Community Action Program and the Aberdeen Senior Center. The June 9 fire gutted the first and second floors of the building. Amazingly (and thankfully) some of the Aberdeen Museum’s photographs, documents and artifacts were rescued from the basement which was filled with four feet of water. The fire is still under investigation and may be for at least a couple more weeks.

While there is nothing left of the research library, short-term storage has been secured as the society begins to rebuild its holdings and collections. A plea for financial help and Grays Harbor County (and its predecessor Chehalis County) research materials has been sent from GHGS President Gary Parfitt. Financial donations or gift cards (Staples, Amazon, Costco, etc.) are most easily used to avoid duplication, over-supply and will be used when society members can begin researching again.

In addition to financial help, the society is asking for Grays Harbor-related research materials to restore their collections. Suggestions include Polk Directories, telephone books, obituaries, funeral records, identified photographs or family histories (with ties to Grays Harbor or Chehalis Counties). Anyone with materials to donate or reproduce can contact Gary Parfitt at gjparfitt@msn.com.

Financial donations can be sent to the society’s Research Library Go Fund Me page or directly to the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 916, Aberdeen, WA 98520.

Grays Harbor Genealogical Society Fire Help

Dear Local Society,

 

As you may have already heard, the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society’s Research Library, housed in the Aberdeen Museum of History, was one of the victims of a devastating fire on Saturday, June 9, 2018. The 3-alarm fire destroyed most of the first and second floors of the historic Armory Building, which was built in 1922.

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

Investigators are still determining the cause of the fire so we are unable to get inside the building, but are preparing for the worst: the loss of our entire library holdings.  We had recently completed a conversion of the library to emphasize Grays Harbor County (and its predecessor Chehalis County), and were enormously proud of our extensive collection of now-defunct Whiteside and Elerding funeral records and obituary records, dating back as far as the late 1800s.

 

I am asking for your help.  We are scrambling to find another location and have begun the task of re-gathering our collections. While many of our holdings were digitized or are available in other locations, we are still looking to gather Grays Harbor-related records, photographs, documents, maps, and books. If you or your society have any Grays Harbor-related materials, we would love to have copies or donation. We are hoping to rebuild our holdings to be the “go-to shop” for family researchers in Grays Harbor.

 

Alternatively, anyone wishing to make financial donation is encouraged to use our Go Fund Me campaign or direct to the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 916, Aberdeen, WA 98520.

Bonnie Johannes added: I have done researches for people from other WA State societies who had family members/ancestors here at some period of time. We would like copy of what was sent to them, if possible. Thank you.

 

If you would like more information or have questions, please contact me at gjparfitt@msn.com.

 

Gary Parfitt, President

Grays Harbor Genealogical Society

Grays Harbor Research Library Destroyed by Fire

Full disclaimer: The author of this post is a long-time member of the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society and totally devastated by this loss.

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

The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society’s Research Library, housed in the Aberdeen Museum of History, was one of the victims of a devastating fire on Saturday, June 9, 2018. The massive fire destroyed most of the first and second floors of the historic Armory Building, which was built in 1922. The building was home to the priceless Museum of History, Coastal Community Action Program, the Aberdeen Senior Center, and the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society research library. Investigators are still determining the cause of the fire that raged out of control for hours, drawing fire departments from the whole county and parts of Thurston County.

Representatives from the State Archives were on the scene to offer assistance with recovery and restoration of any surviving historic photos, documents, artifacts — some of which were in the basement of the concrete building. Ironically, Tracy Rebstock, Southwest Regional Archivist with the State Archives was the featured speaker at the GHGS meeting that day, speaking on disaster preparedness and preserving historic documents and heirlooms. Her assurances to shocked GHGS members was much appreciated as she talked about how to recover from this disaster. Servpro of Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties, a fire disaster recovery company, is also helping with recovery efforts.

The GHGS Research Library was housed on the first floor of the building which was destroyed with temperatures reported to exceed 2,000 degrees. All is a loss. Members of the small society are meeting to find another location and begin re-gathering local records, documents and books. The society had recently completed a conversion of the library to emphasize Grays Harbor County (and its predecessor Chehalis County). The research library was known for its extensive collection of now-defunct Whiteside and Elerding funeral records and obituary records, dating back as far as the late 1800s. While some of the records were digitized, others were in hard copy only. The society’s research chairman Bonnie Johannes said much of what they had was permanently lost. “We must’ve had at least 25,000 hard copies (of obituaries), so it’s a tremendous loss.”

Anyone wishing to make financial or resource donations is encouraged to use their Go Fund Me campaign or direct to the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 916, Aberdeen, WA 98520.