Tuesday, December 29, 2009

EWGS Presidents: Lee DeGolyer Patchen

This is the tenth in the series on the Presidents of EWGS leading up to the 75th anniversary in 2010. See the previous posts on Samuel Pool Weaver, Leora Cookingham Thiel, Susan Marie West Jack, Ruth Churchill Austin, Alfred Denman, Florence Ballou Brown, Harriet Jefferson Pinkham, Mary Elizabeth Dow Maltbie and Achsah Maltbie Rawlings.

Lee DeGolyer Patchen was the first EWGS President born in Spokane February 18, 1892 and he died November 23, 1970 at his home. He was cremated.

He was a World War I veteran, having served in the Army Air Forces. He was overseas from July 31, 1918 till December 2, 1918 and honorably discharged January 17, 1919 at Long Island, New York. Lee was married three times, the first to Nettie H. Clark who was 21 years old and from DesMoines, Iowa. They were married at Newport, Washington April 1, 1913. Nettie was the daughter of George W. Clark and Nora Kelly. I found no further information on Nettie.

His second marriage was to Mary Louise Miller at Ellensburg, Washington February 6, 1919. Mary was born at Vinton, Iowa November 8, 1891 and died of myocarditis in Spokane November 24, 1945 and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery.

Mary was the daughter of Clarence Eason Miller (b. Pacwaukee, Wisconsin April 8, 1866 d. Seattle, Washington February 22, 1939) and Ella May (Boyden) Miller (b. Eden, Benton Coounty, Iowa January 6 1868, d. Ellensburg, Washington May 6, 1918). Mary and Lee had two children both born in Spokane, Lee Harold Patchen b. April 5, 1921 and Mary Louise Patchin b. October 21, 1923.

In 1957 Lee married Ruth Marie Vibrans. Ruth was born in Colville Washington in 1918. She was a secretary and had been Northwest director of National Association of Secretaries in 1969 and 1970. Ruth died October 2, 1991 at St. Lukes Extended Care Center.

Lee worked as a carpenter for the Northern Pacific Railroad from 1912-1915. From 1915-1943 he worked for the Exchange Lumber & Manufacturing Company as a salesman and sales manager. From 1943-1947 worked as Assistant manager of Western Pine Manufacturing Company. Lee also owned the Lee D. Patchen Lumber Wholesale firm for 40 years. Lee's emigrant ancestor, Joseph Patchen came from England to New England in 1634. His mothers Olmsted family came from Canada after the War of 1812. Mary's Miller family came from Coleraine, Ireland.

In 1946 Lee joined EWGS out of curiosity about his ancestors. In 1948 he started a project to index all the books in the genealogy section of the library. One of the books was the "History of Spokane County" by the Reverend

Jonathan Edwards in 1900. There were about 8,500 names in this book. He also indexed the "History of the Big Bend Country" published 1904 and it had more than 18,000 names. Note on indexing in 1948: This was well before computers that just allow us to type in a list of names and hit sort and we have an index. In 1948 you used index cards and typed the name at the top and maybe a couple of more lines of interest on the name. So now he has 26,000 index cards and that is the start of the "Patchen File" that anyone that has researched in the genealogy section of the Spokane library is probably familiar with. Lee went on to index several other books also. I am not sure when he started cutting out obits, pasting them on a card and typing the name and dates for each obit. For a while he also made a card for all the people listed in the obit. While you can find obits back to the 1920s the majority of obits start in the mid 1950s and at the end of 1979. The cards in the "Patchen File" number about 211,000. From 1980 to 1994 EWGS indexed obits in book form not by index cards.

Comments by Carrie Lartigue: "Lee D. Patchen: Anyone that has used the Genie Room of the library should be familiar with this man's work! He spent days, then years, working on his index. He started the Tombstone project by copying nearly all the Rural Spokane County Cemeteries and made three volumes of this task. In early years he was called upon at least once a year to instruct the new members on how best to get started in research. He authored several books... Inland Empire Miscellaney and the fantastic Patchen/Patchin Genealogy."

Comments by the editor: In doing these articles I have relied a lot on the work of Lee Patchen.

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