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.

Spokane's Lost Battalion Veteran Remembers The War

This morning's front page story in Spokane, Washington's local paper, The Spokesman-Review, is about Fred Shiosaki, a Japanese-American who served in the Lost Battalion, which will be featured in Episode 5 of Ken Burn's The War on PBS tomorrow evening. The links include audio interviews of Mr. Shiosaki, and the site's home page (on 29 Sep 2007, only) includes a photograph of the veteran:
Shiosaki was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 3rd Battalion, Company K, which spent a week on a wooded ridge in northern France trying to break through to the Lost Battalion, a unit from Texas that was surrounded by German troops. He was wounded by shrapnel – not seriously, he adds, but enough for a Purple Heart and five points towards his discharge – and many of his unit were killed. Scenes of the casualties in the documentary might jog some unpleasant memories.

“I know I saw them get killed but I can’t remember anything about it,” the 83-year-old said this week in an interview.

Unlike many Japanese-Americans who were relocated to interment camps, Spokane's "enemy aliens" were not, probably because the city is located so far from the Pacific Coast; thus they were not considered such a "threat." Spokane has a good-sized Japanese-American population with a proud, celebrated heritage, which directly or indirectly influences most Spokanites today.

The Spokesman-Review archives most of its articles into pay-per-view format after only one day, so read it now! You can also purchase a month-long online subscription for only $7 here, which will give you access to all portions of their website.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

NPRC Fire in 1973...All (Hope) was Not Lost

At the National Archives and Records Administration booth at the recent FGS conference, I picked up a copy of the free book, "Reference Information Paper 109, Military Service Records at the National Archives," compiled 2007 by Trevor K. Plante. On page 109 I learned something new...and encouraging.

Page 108 tells about the disastrous fire at the National Personnel Records Center that destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files...then page 109: "No duplicate copies of the records that were destroyed in the fire were maintained, nor were microfilm copies ever produced. There were no indexes created prior to the fire. In addition, millions of documents had been lent to the Department of Veterans Affairs before the fire occurred. Therefore, a complete listing of the records that were lost is not available. Nevertheless, NPRC-MPR uses many alternate sources in its efforts to reconstruct basic service information to respond to requests."

My good friend realized this when she requested her father's records from WWII service with the 10th Mountain Division. She was sent paperwork and documents that while they were not the "official" paperwork, were wonderful to receive and furnished information she did not have.

So you WWII record-seekers, take heart. All was not lost.

And perhaps request a copy of this free booklet for your own use? Your genealogical society's use?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

EWGS is One of the Top Ten RootsTelevision Contestants!

Folks, I just checked out Og's Blog at RootsTelevision, and we are in the Top Ten list of societies and libraries that are clicking our way from our website and blog into their website!

We need to work hard over the next month (until October 31st) to win our $1,000 prize!

Here's how:
  1. Og recommends that when you click on the link to RootsTelevision from our website and blog, " be sure you let the page load completely (until the video actually begins to play) before you navigate out of the Roots Television website. You may even want to click on an extra page inside of the RTV site for good measure."
  2. E-mail your family, friends, and good-natured co-workers to help us out! Send them the links to the blog ( and the website (
  3. Put a reminder note on your computer, such as a Post-it note, an index card, etc. that says "Go to EWGS and click on RootsTV!" If you have more than one computer, or a computer at work, put a note on each one. Make a point each day to go to the blog AND website from each computer you have access to and visit RootsTelevision!
  4. Another idea is to make the website or blog your home page. To do this on Internet Explorer, at the top of your browser window, go to Tools, then choose Internet Options. When the mini-window opens up, make sure it is on the General tab. Under home page, type in the blog and/or website addresses (if you type in both, separate them by a comma). This will make the website or blog (or both) the first page(s) you see when you go online, and hopefully remind you to click on the RootsTelevision link!
  5. If you have Mozilla Firefox, go to Tools, then Options, then select the Main tab. Under "Startup: When Firefox starts:" choose "Show my home page" from the drop-down menu. Then type the blog or website address in the Home Page box. I don't have a Mac, so I can't help you there, but it has to be similar to Explorer and Firefox. Mac users, if you know how to set this up, please leave a comment or send me a message: kidmiffatgmaildotcom (replace the green letters with the correct symbols).
Let's win this!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Newspaper Article: An Oldie of Interest

This was just too "good" not to share: The Spokesman-Review newspaper (Spokane, Washington), Sunday, 30 April 1899: "Mrs. George is to Lecture: Saxton's Former Mistress in Great Demand as a Freak. "

CANTON, OHIO, April 29th: Mrs. George said today as to her future plans: "I will lecture on woman's rights. I believe women ought to vote, and that a jury ought to be half women. I think a woman has just as much right to make something out of herself as a man." Mrs. George has had several propositions from theatrical managers, but refuses to consider them. Several offers of marriage have been sent her, but they are all ignored.

Who was "Mrs. George," other than "Saxton's former mistress"? And why is she a "freak" for speaking out on womens' rights? Obviously to me, the newspaper media gave this lady no credence at all. Thankfully, times, things and attitudes have changed. Aren't we glad?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The 32nd Carnival of Genealogy is Posted!

Susan Kitchens of Family Oral History Using Digital Tools is the host of the 32nd Carnival of Genealogy. The topic? "Family Stories of Wartime," in honor of Ken Burns' new documentary series, "The War," coming to PBS on Sunday, September 23rd.

"What is a Carnival?" you may be asking. A blog carnival is like an online magazine, but instead of the articles being all in one place, they are posted on the individual blogs of each author. The links to all the posts, along with summaries and/or descriptions for the topic of the carnival, are posted at the blog of the host--in this case, Susan. Just as you enjoy reading a genealogy magazine such as Internet Genealogy, Family Tree Magazine, or Ancestry, you will also enjoy reading the posts from the Carnival of Genealogy. As usual, there are a variety of interesting and informative posts that were submitted for this particular Carnival. I learn something new in the fields of genealogy and history at every one! The Carnival is also a great way to "meet" other genea-bloggers (our invented moniker for "genealogy blogger") and discover great new blogs to add to your feed reader! You may find a genea-blogger who writes about an area where your ancestors once lived, learn some helpful research tips that could break down your brick wall, or discover a great trick that could improve your Internet-researching skills!

I encourage you to head to Susan's blog to start reading!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Military Records Mini-Seminar

Donna Potter Phillips will be presenting her new Military Records program at the Whitman County Genealogical Society's mini-seminar to be held this Saturday morning, September 15th in Pullman, Washington. A continental breakfast will be served at 9:30 AM, followed by the program at 10:00. Pre-registration is appreciated, although walk-ins are welcome. Registration will cost $5.00. For more information and a pre-registration form, visit the WCGS website.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sno-Isle Genealogical Society Fall Symposium

The Sno-Isle Genealogical Society is presenting a fall symposium on Genealogy & Technology: New Tools for Digging Roots, to be held Saturday, October 20, 2007 from 8:30 AM - 3:45 PM at Lynnwood Elks Lodge, Lynnwood, Washington. Here is the program lineup:
  1. Gary A. Zimmerman, Ph.D., President of Fiske Library: "Finding Digitized Resources of Genealogical Value"
  2. David A. Ault, Ph.D., Chair of the Seattle Genealogical Society's Computer Interest Group: "Internet-Based Genealogical Research"
  3. Margaret Robe Summitt, Ph.D., a member of Sno-Isle Genealogical Society: "Solutions to Brick Walls"
  4. David C. Abernathy, Computer special Interest Chairman for Eastside Genealogical Society; "USB Devices, Tips & Tricks, Questions & Answers
For more information, including a brochure/registration form, please click here.

North Idaho's German Heritage - Lecture

I apologize for getting this information out so late. It was announced at the meeting on Saturday, and comes from Dr. Steve Barrett, Archivist of the Idaho Public Archives and Research Library, Boise, Idaho:

Twin Rivers Genealogical Society presents Arthur Hart, "North Idaho's German Heritage," September 13, 2007 at 7 p.m., Student Union Building, Room 143, Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho. For more information, please contact Hellenmerie Walker, 208-798-1864.

Arthur A. Hart, director emeritus of the Idaho State Historical Society, is the author of many books and articles on Idaho and Northwest history. His talk will feature such notable citizens as John P. Vollmer of Lewiston, who was born in Germany in 1847 and became North Idaho's richest man. Vollmer is credited with providing ideas for some of this friend Mark Twain's stories.

This program is funded in part by the Idaho Humanities Council, a nonprofit organization that serves as the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Admission is free, and this presentation is open to the public.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

What is a Blog and Why Does EWGS Need One?

What is a Blog?

A blog is short for a web log or web journal. It's easiest to think of a blog as an online newsletter or newspaper. The most recent articles (called "posts" in the blogging world) will be listed at the top of this home page. Older posts are available as you scroll down the page, and the oldest posts are available by accessing the blog archive in the right-hand side bar. You can also search for your favorite post by using the search box in the upper left-hand corner of this page.

Just as a newspaper allows letters to the editor, so a blog usually has a place where you can add your comments of approval or disapproval on each post. I'll be writing more on that later.

Why Does EWGS Need a Blog?

There are many reasons a blog would benefit the Eastern Washington Genealogy Society as a whole, as well as its individual members.
  1. Information on a blog is instantaneous. As soon as a post is written by one of our reporters (bloggers), it will appear online. There will be no waiting for publication, like the information found in our quarterly, The Bulletin of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, nor will you need to wait for the end of the day to read news, as you do if you are subscribed to the digest version of our mailing list.
  2. A blog is easily and instantly corrected. If one of our bloggers makes a mistake in writing a post, they can quickly go back and fix it, instead of having to write another message, as we do with our mailing list.
  3. Local genealogical news and reviews of recent meetings will be other purposes of this blog. We will be featuring other local societies and their happenings, so that you, our reader, can benefit from attending other workshops and hearing speakers visiting in the area. If you missed one of our society meetings, you can "catch up" on what happened by reading a review of the last meeting.
  4. Whenever you read about genealogy news in a genealogy magazine or other publication, it is usually several months old. For instance, this last week, there was a major upset regarding's Internet Biographical Database. It was huge, and if you are not a regular reader of a genealogy blog, you missed it! Since these kinds of issues directly or indirectly affect you, it's vital that you keep up-to-date with the online genealogy world. This blog will help you do that. (You can read more about the IBD turmoil at Miriam's genealogy blog here and here.)
  5. Genealogy societies that are thriving are using blogs. We've all heard about the demise of societies, and while some blame the Internet, others are realizing that survival depends upon changing with the times. If we want to see younger, more active members joining our society, we need to offer them a society that appeals to them. Jasia, a genealogy blogger who was interviewed on this subject by Family Tree Magazine not long ago, has written a series on this topic on her blog, Creative Gene (see her series here). We bloggers here at EWGS have been inspired by another genealogy blogger, Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings, who as the president of the Chula Vista (California) Genealogy Society, has created a society blog, the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe.
  6. We want to keep the Inland Northwest, the country, and even the globe informed of our society's doings. Why? Because you never know where in the world someone is living who may have Eastern Washington roots! Our blog will show up in Google searches for Spokane genealogy. And as the host for the Washington State Genealogical Conference of 2009, we want to keep potential conference attendees abreast of what's happening here in Spokane.

Who Will Be Writing This Blog?

Currently, Miriam Robbins Midkiff is our editor-in-chief (administrator). She has been blogging about genealogy since January 2006, and of all our bloggers, has the most experience with this particular mode of communication. Our reporters (team members) include Donna Potter Phillips, who has several decades of experience writing about genealogy for popular national genealogy magazines and newsletters (Ancestry, Family Chronicle, and Bill Dollarhide's Genealogy Bulletin, to name a few). She also currently writes the "News Hotline" and "Stories from Our Cemeteries" features for our Bulletin, and is a past columnist for the "Heritage Hunting" feature of The Spokesman-Review, our local newspaper. Bette Butcher Topp is twice a past president of our society, and has been one of our most active contributors to our mailing list in the past. Because she has a way of keeping her ear to the ground to find genealogy news to share with the society, we have invited her to join our blogging team. Our society researcher, Charles Hansen, has been honored by many local societies and organizations for his volunteer contributions. Charles is one of the minority of our members who actually has Eastern Washington roots, and his experience in researching local records in the Spokane County Courthouse, the archives of the Eastern Washington State Historical Society, and our public library is invaluable. Like Donna and Bette, he is a Distinguished Service Member of EWGS.

Does This Blog Replace Our Mailing List, Bulletin, or the Newsletter?

No, it does not. The purposes of our mailing lists, our Bulletin, and our newsletter (the handout you receive at society meetings) are different from the purpose of our blog, and each of those communication pieces are still necessary and vital for our society.

While our mailing list will continue to be used for news updates, it is also a terrific place to leave queries (questions); that is not something the blog will be used for. Our Bulletin also will carry news, but in addition, it has lists of extracted records, articles, book reviews, and entries for our annual literary competitions. The blog cannot replace this rich resource. And because not everyone in our society has home access to the Internet, we continue to need our newsletter.
In later posts, I'll address how to use this blog, how to leave comments, and how to "subscribe" to this blog. I hope you'll return here often!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

"Death & Taxes"

Death & Taxes....that's the title of Susan Beamer's presentation to EWGS one week from today, Saturday, September 8th, 2007, at the downtown Spokane Public Library. All interested genealogists are most certainly invited to attend. We begin at 12:30 with coffee, cookies and conversation; the meetings are usually over by 3:00-ish.

Susan is currently the main archivist for Schweitzer Engineering in Pullman, Washington. Her previous job was with the Eastern Washington branch of the Washington State Archives in Cheney Washington. Believe you me, Susan knows her records!

This will be a fun and fact-filled presentation. Please come??? It's free!