Monday, November 17, 2014

Who Pushed Thanksgiving To Be A Holiday?

Just how did Thanksgiving become a national holiday? With big thanks to American Spirit, magazine of the Daughter of the American Revolution, Nov-Dec 2015, for this information (from which article I liberally quoted).

We can thank Sarah Joseph Buell Hale who convinced President Lincoln to issue that famous proclamation.

Sarah Josepha Buell was born in New Hampshire in 1788. In 1813 she married David Hale who left her a widow with five young children in 1821.

Having to support her children, Sarah took to writing was was successfully published. While she was self-educated she pushed for women's rights and wrote many editorials using her authority to promote a variety of causes she was passionate about.

In 1837, Sarah wrote the first of many editorials aimed at making Thanksgiving a national holiday. At the time, it was observed at the state level, usually on the last Thursday in November. Sarah kept up her efforts through the 1840s  and in 1860 she wrote, "This year the last Thursday in November falls on the 29th. If all the States and Territories hold their Thanksgiving on that day there will be a complete moral and social reunion of the people of America in 1860. Would this not be a good omen for the perpetual political union of the States? May God grant us not only the omen but the fulfillment is our dearest wish!"

The clouds of the Civil War were gathering on the horizon and Sarah felt them keenly and dreaded what the war would bring to her country, family and friends.

After one more letter to him in September 1863, finally on October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation making the last Thursday in November a national day of Thanksgiving.  Not fully satisfied, Sarah continued her efforts into 1871 pressing Congress to enact legislation proclaiming a set date for Thanksgiving.

When you gather friends and family, and serve that roast turkey this year on November 27th, remember Sarah Josepha Buell Hall for helping establish this holiday.

Remember, too, that in the fall of 1863 the war was raging and yet President Lincoln took time for this. That tells me how important this day really is.  Donna

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

EWGS Makes Money From YOUR Shopping!

EWGS, now approaching their 80th birthday continues striving to provide their members, and the community, educational and self-learning growth opportunties.  

We do this by being able to have the funds available to support workshops, research classes and seminars to mention just a few activities.  

One way to acquire these funds is to develop partnerships with vendors that offer products and genealogical research tools.   In return, these vendors give EWGS a small referral fee for each sale they get from our referral.   We carefully select companies that we feel reflect our dedication to genealogy research  to help our members and the community with their journey in finding their ancestors.

On our web site, you will find a new TAB:  Shop and Support EWGS.  The companies we currently have partnerships with are:,,,   We hope when you are joining or renewing services from our partners, you will remember to access them through our web site. 

You can also qualify for discounts from some of our partners which are available through our web site. If you know of any company that shares our interest in genealogy please let our web managers know so they can add them to our partnership program. You can contact them by emailing to: 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Patty Harrison & EWGS Civil War Project

Here's another spotlight on the EWGS meeting you might have missed on November 1st, 2014.

Patty Dana Harrison has been an EWGS member for a long time. A couple of years ago she launched a project to coordinate among EWGS members the companies or units that their Civil War ancestor might have fought with. Great idea, Patty!

At the meeting, Patty told us that of the EWGS members who have registered their ancestor's unit there has already been two matches! As this project is on-going, you can still add your ancestor's information into this database. To request the form, email Patty at .

Her handout for that meeting carried a nice list of Internet resources to use when searching for information on your Civil War ancestor. She brought to the meeting room a cart of books from the upstairs Genealogy Section that deal with the Civil War and are helpful to finding and documenting your Civil War ancestor's service. (Visit the downtown Spokane Public Library on a Tuesday when EWGS volunteers will happily assist your search.)

Thank you, Patty, for managing this project so thoroughly and so enthusiastically and we'll look forward to many matches in the future!

The database will eventually be accessible from our EWGS website.  Stay tuned. 

And did you notice that Patty is wearing her EWGS vest??? 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Free Access to ArkivDigital this Weekend, November 8-9


National Archives Day in Sweden is on the second Saturday of November each year. The regional archives are open to the public offering lectures, exhibitions and archive tours.

ArkivDigital, your online digital archive with more than 50 million images, will be hosting an “open house” this week-end. We invite all who are interested in their Swedish history free access to our entire online historical archive on Saturday and Sunday (November 8-9, 2014).

Take the opportunity to discover the wealth of records in the archive including the church books, estate inventories, passenger ship manifests, military records, court records and many other types of records.

All current subscriptions will be extended two days because of the two free days.

Monday, November 3, 2014

EWGS Learned About Confederate Flags At November Meeting

EWGS member (and SAR member) Dale Ryan came to the November 1st EWGS meeting with a bundle of flags and flag polls and gave us a great lesson on Civil War Confederate flags. He first explained how important flags were in those battling days of no communication. "Flags were the rallying point for the company; flags were the means of communication. Through the smoke and haze of the battlefield, men would look for their flag and run towards it."

Dale, with help from John Wilson, showed us the first official Confederate flag. "The trouble with this flag was when it was hanging limp on its pole it looked too much like the U.S. flag. Not good for Confederate soldiers to run to the wrong flag!"

This was the next "official" flag, but again, "hanging loose it looked too much like a flag of surrender. Again, not good in battle."

This was the final "official" flag and it was okay "but by then most everybody was using the one we recognize today, the one called the Stars & Bars."

Even as this Stars & Bars flag was never the official flag of the Confederacy, it is forever associated with the southern states and the Confederacy.

Thank you, Dale, for giving us this Civil War history lesson!

Monday, October 27, 2014

EWGS Turns 80 in 2015 !

It was back in 1935 (January 31st to be precise) that nine ladies met around a large table on the mezzanine of the Davenport Hotel to form the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society. Our wonderful society will turn 80 next year in 2015.

Not sure what those nine ladies wore but this is a good 1935 guess. Ditto for the Davenport.

At that organizational meeting, offices were established and officers elected..... certainly a gentleman for president! But Samuel Weaver, while he consented to be elected never really "was" president and never served, was elected for a 2-year term. Other position were filled by the ladies..... all listed as "Mrs. X.X. xxxxx" and not by their names. Initial dues were established at fifty cents.

With this organizational meeting in 1935, EWGS became the final form of three years of plans. The goals of the new society were: "to create interest in genealogical and historical research; to assist members in searching for an determining their own ancestral lines; to collect genealogical and historical materials; and to assist the Spokane Public Library in building up the Genealogy Section by securing books, magazines and manuscripts."

EWGS wants to plan their June program to be a celebration of our 80 years. We have already secured Garrin Hertel of Nostalgia magazine to give us a "What Was Spokane Like in 1935?" presentation. We need a committee and a committee chair. Won't YOU step up to help? Call Donna Phillips at 509-624-4118 or 

Monday, October 20, 2014

EWGS members attend the Hayden Family History Fair

Both Miriam Robbins and Donna Phillips were speakers at the annual Hayden Family History Fair, sponsored by the Hayden Family History Center and the Kootenai County Genealogical Society. 

This is an annual free event (date for next year is October 17th), with a free lunch, and many great classes from which to choose. 

About a dozen EWGS members were there; it was a good day and plan now to attend next year.

Family History director, Connie Godak, was the emcee and is the moving force behind the Fair.