Saturday, September 29, 2007

What You Missed: The September 2007 General Meeting

One of the things promised on this blog was that it would be a way that members could be sure to catch up with what happened at meetings they may have had to miss.

On Saturday, September 8th, our first genealogy meeting of the 2007 - 2008 year was attended by several members of the Washington State Genealogical Society, who met with our board in anticipation of the 2009 WSGS State Conference, to be held in Spokane in September of that year. They included Steve Baylor, President; Laura Pemberton Starr, Conference Liaison; and Frank McLean of the Pioneer Certificates Committee. These guests remained after the general meeting to field questions and provide comments to any interested EWGS members in regard to the upcoming conference.

Our presenter for the general meeting was EWGS Past President Susan Beamer, who spoke on "A Sure Thing: Death & Taxes." Susan is very knowledgeable on probate and tax records, not only through her own genealogical research, but from a career standpoint as well, having previously worked in the Eastern Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives in Cheney. First, she carefully explained the types of each record, where they can be found, and what they generally contain. Then she demonstrated the wealth of information that is available to researchers in probate and tax records by using her own ancestors' records in her PowerPoint presentation. Susan is very fortunate to have Eastern Washington ancestors, and I admit I was envious at how easy it must be to access local records!

Some of the things I learned:
  • You should search for a probate record in a span of ten or more years after the death of an individual, because sometimes it took that long before a will was probated.
  • Sometimes the entire probate record is only the will, because it was easily probated (proved).
  • The bondsmen, guardians, friends, and administrators named in the probate records are nearly always related or in-laws to the deceased individual.
  • Tax records can show names, ages, residences, legal descriptions of property, and school districts (which leads to school records) for taxed individuals.
  • Looking at the types of things an ancestor did and didn't own in tax records can be revealing; they can paint a better picture about their lifestyles.
I think you'll agree with me that if you missed this meeting, you missed out! Perhaps you can contact Susan and request a syllabus of her excellent program! I hope you can join us October 6th for the October Workshop, to be held at the Southside Senior Center on 27th & Ray from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM. Pre-registration must have been completed by September 26th. Our program theme is "Journeys: Tracing the Steps of Our Ancestors," and features Donna Potter Phillips, Lethene Parks, Marvel Miller, Steve Turner, Jeanne Coe, Tammi Rizzuto, Judy Williams, Barbara Brazington and Ruby Simonson McNeill.

1 comment:

Charles said...

I have looked up dozens of probates over the years, and I agree with Susan Beamer they are a great source for genealogists. They can get rather long so be sure to find out how much the copies will cost. Several years ago I looked up a probate and it contained 365 pages. Copies then were $2 first page then a dollar a page after that. (Today they charge 50 cents a page). The lady that had died had owned a lot of small farms in the valley that her late husband had bought during the depression and they had pages of appraisals of all the farm equipment and descriptions of the farms, but then there was two lawsuits also in the probate. The first law suit was suing the trustees because that had apprasied the property too high and they had to pay too much inherantance tax. I remember the amount they paid the State of Washington $1.45 and less than $100.00 to the federal government on the $350,000 estate (1941 value). The second lawsuit was the heirs suing the trustees saying they did not receive enough as the estate was valued too low. Each of the lawsuits contained pages and pages of appraisals.