Friday, December 28, 2007

Grizzly Bear Genealogy??

According to Paul Turner's column in The Spokesman Review today (28 Dec 2007), grizzly bears in the Pacific Northwest are, indeed, into genealogy. Turner conducted an email interview with Theo, spokesbear for the group. In answer to Turner's question, "Do grizzlies get into genealogy?" Theo answered, "Yes. And it turns out every one of us claims to be directly related to the bears who scared the pemmican out of Lewis and Clark." So know we know!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2008 Membership Dues and January Luncheon Fees Due

It's that time of year. Annual dues for membership in the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society for the 2008 calendar year are due as of Monday, December 31st. You can send your check made out to EWGS to P.O. Box 1826, Spokane, WA 99210-1826. If you are becoming a member for the first time, please download and fill out this application and mail it in with your check. The cost for an individual or a family are $25.00; a lifetime membership for either an individual or family is $375.00. UPDATE: Earlier I reported that lifetime membership was $300.00. I had read some outdated information. The correct cost is $375.00, which is 15 times the cost of the annual dues, per society bylaws.

Also, the $20.00 per-person fee for the January luncheon--to be held at 12 noon, January 5th, 2008 at the Mukogawa Commons--needs to be sent in as soon as possible. The deadline is this Saturday, January 29th. If that deadline is a problem, please contact Pat Mielbrecht at once; her phone number is in the directory. The luncheon fee can be mailed to the post office box listed above. Please also enclose your name(s) and phone number, along with the number of chicken or beef meals for which you are paying. Details and an order form are available here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Lost Cousins is Completely Free Until 2008!

I received the following message today in an e-mail:

All users of the LostCousins site will have totally free access from December 26 to January 6, so it's a great opportunity to find and contact living relatives who share your ancestry!

The LostCousins website has a unique system that identifies living relatives who share the same ancestors automatically, confidentially, and with virtually 100% accuracy. It's all done using census data, most of which is available free online at the FamilySearch site.

The more relatives you enter on your My Ancestors page, the better your chance of finding a cousin immediately - and the more cousins you'll find over time.

Founder Peter Calver explained why the system works so well: "Using the census ensures that two members who share the same relative enter precisely the same data - this means we can not only match you automatically, but do it with 100% accuracy.

"Once you've told us about your relatives from the census, it takes just seconds to search for other members who share your ancestors - and you can repeat the search as often as you like, even after the offer ends. Our simple search and accurate matching will save you an enormous amount of time and effort that might otherwise be expended following up false leads."

A recent survey revealed that the average LostCousins member has been researching her family tree for over 10 years, so the cousins you find are likely to have lots of useful research to share - as well as photographs and other memorabilia.

Although new members are required to register, no credit card or other financial information is requested - so there's absolutely nothing to lose, and everything to gain by taking part. From January 7 onwards you'll need to be a subscriber to initiate contact with a new cousin, but otherwise you'll continue to have full access to your data and to the site.

The LostCousins website can be found at:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

FHL & Major FHCs to Receive Free Access

I received the following just a few minutes ago, via e-mail from FamilySearch:


FamilySearch and The Generations Network Agreement Give Patrons Access to More than 24,000 Databases and Titles

SALT LAKE CITY—FamilySearch and The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of, today announced an agreement that provides free access of to patrons of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the 13 largest regional family history centers effective today.

With this new agreement full access will be provided to more than 24,000 databases and titles and 5 billion names in family history records. In addition to the Family History Library, the following 13 regional family history centers have been licensed to receive access to

* Mesa, Arizona
* Los Angeles, California
* Oakland, California
* Orange, California
* Sacramento, California
* San Diego, California
* Idaho Falls, Idaho
* Pocatello, Idaho
* Las Vegas, Nevada
* Logan, Utah
* Ogden, Utah
* St. George, Utah
* Hyde Park, London, England

“We’re excited for our patrons to receive online access to an expanded collection of family history records on,” said Don Anderson, director of FamilySearch Support. “’s indexes and digital images of census, immigration, vital, military and other records, combined with the excellent resources of FamilySearch, will increase the likelihood of success for patrons researching their family history.” The Generations Network and FamilySearch hope to expand access to other family history centers in the future.

FamilySearch patrons at the designated facilities will have access to’s completely indexed U.S. Federal Census Collection, 1790-1930, and more than 100 million names in passenger lists from 1820-1960, among other U.S. and international record collections. Throughout the past year, has added indexes to Scotland censuses from 1841-1901, created the largest online collection of military and African American records, and reached more than 4 million user-submitted family trees.

Free access is also available at Brigham Young University Provo, Idaho, and Hawaii campuses, and LDS Business College patrons through a separate agreement with The Generations Network.

“FamilySearch’s Family History Library in Salt Lake City is one of the most important physical centers for family history research in the world, and we are happy that patrons to the Library and these major regional centers will have access to,” said Tim Sullivan, President and CEO of The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of “We’ve enjoyed a ten-year working relationship with FamilySearch, and we look forward to continued collaboration on a number of family history projects.”

About (visit
With 24,000 searchable databases and titles and more than 2.5 million active users, is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch in 1997, has been the premier resource for family history, simplifying genealogical research for millions of people by providing them with many easy-to-use tools and resources to build their own unique family trees. The site is home to the only complete online U.S. Federal Census collection, 1790-1930, as well as the world’s largest online collection of U.S. ship passenger list records featuring more than 100 million names, 1820-1960. is part of The Generations Network, Inc., a leading network of family-focused interactive properties, including,, and Family Tree Maker. In total, The Generations Network properties receive 8.7 million unique visitors worldwide and more than 416 million page views a month (© comScore Media Metrix, October 2007).

About FamilySearch
FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization that maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources. Patrons may access resources online at or through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. FamilySearch is a trademark of Intellectual Reserve, Inc. and is registered in the United States of America and other countries.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Genealogy Search Engine Upgrade at MyHeritage Research

I received the following message from MyHeritage Research:
MyHeritage Research, the genealogy search engine on, has been significantly upgraded this week. This genealogy tool specializes in finding ancestors and advancing your family research. There is nothing else quite like it on the Internet. It is free and you're invited to use it on this link.

MyHeritage Research now searches across more than 10 billion records to provide you the most extensive genealogy searches available anywhere on the Internet, and it's free. This week we've released version 2.0, adding hundreds of new genealogy databases to its coverage. So even if you've tried it in the past, you're encouraged to use our new version, as you're likely to find more results.

To use MyHeritage Research, click [here]. In the search form, enter the last name you are researching, or a combination of a first name and last name. MyHeritage Research will then search for it in 1,400 genealogy databases and Websites on the Internet that cannot be searched by regular search engines like Google. Searches can look for an exact spelling, or multiple spelling variations (we call this Megadex). Because of the sheer extent of this search engine, some searches may take several minutes to complete. This search engine is particularly useful if you are researching a rare last name, or an uncommon combination of a first name and last name.

We also have good news for anyone interested in Jewish Genealogy. Thanks to our new collaboration with JewishGen, the top Website for Jewish genealogy, we've been able to add a JewishGen All-in-one search to MyHeritage Research. So searches on MyHeritage Research will now include almost all JewishGen databases, a feature not available anywhere else on the Web.

If you would like to share success stories, or send requests for covering additional sites in MyHeritage Research, or have bugs to report, please use our support forum available here. We appreciate all feedback.

What's next? Here at MyHeritage, we're constantly working hard to bring you new tools for advancing your genealogy hobby. We've recently developed a breakthrough - Smart Matching technology which connects family trees submitted by our users. Stay tuned for exciting information about this very soon.


MyHeritage team

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What You Missed: The November 2007 Computer Class

I absolutely hate missing our wonderful computer classes that we offer freely to members of EWGS, but last month I was ill and so I didn't get the opportunity to hear Bette Butcher Topp's lesson on finding and using the terrific genealogical society websites available online.

Did you know that many genealogical societies transcribe data and then offer it in database form on their websites for out-of-area researchers like you and me to access? I can think of one society in particular that I'm a member of that has fantastic online material: the Western Michigan Genealogical Society. They have an index of newspaper death notices and obituaries from 1910 to the present, as well as engagements, weddings, and anniversaries from 1976 to the present. They also have school census indexes, marriage indexes, and funeral home indexes, just to name a few. With 12 family surnames living in Western Michigan from the 1840s to the present, I use their databases all the time!

And did you know our very own Eastern Washington Genealogical Society has a page of databases and indexes on our website here? We're also working on an obituary database to eventually put online, and you can contact Carol Nettles (see the member directory) to volunteer for that project.

Well, it's treasures like these that Bette highlighted in her class on November 17th, and if you missed it, you can email me at kidmiffatgmaildotcom (substitute the appropriate symbols). I'll e-mail her excellent syllabus to you so that you don't miss out again!

The next computer class will be held January 19th and will be presented by Miriam Robbins Midkiff. Her topic is "Using" If you are interested in signing up, please contact me, Miriam Robbins Midkiff, at the e-mail address listed in the previous paragraph, or see our member directory for my telephone number. Currently, there are a few spots available during the 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM and the 1:30 - 2:30 PM sessions. You must be a current EWGS member to attend.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sons of the American Revolution Still Going Strong

Here's an interesting story from our local paper that highlights a twenty-one-year-old young man who has recently joined a local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (click on the first link on this page). With his dark hair in a ponytail, Travis Miller makes quite a contrast against the other silver- and white-haired members of the SAR, but he is among a growing population of young people interested in their roots. Kudos to EWGS members Bill Ailes and John Ellingson for also being featured in this article, either by being photographed or quoted.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Images of Scotland

Rampart Scotland has a color supplement each week with online photographs taken in Scotland to show the current season and its flora and fauna. See each week's color supplement here.

Each year, a calendar illustrated with pictures taken from around Scotland is added to the Rampant Scotland site. The calendar gives a choice of graphics for each user to select to print for his/her calendar. The calendar is available throughout the year but clearly it is accessed more to view the pictures of Scotland, rather than printing pages for the remaining months of the year. So to make viewing easier, there is a slide show of all 48 of the pictures used for the 2008 calendar. The graphics are copyrighted by Rampant Scotland - but you can feel free to use them for personal, non-commercial use. To view a slide show of the photographs, go to Calendar. You can also print the 2008 calendar from this web page.

Scotavia Images provides a quality aerial photography service for Scotland. A large number of their excellent photographs, largely of the north of Scotland and the Highlands, have been included in their site. They give a unique view of castles, golf courses, glens, Highland scenery, towns and villages, stately homes, events, archaeology, events - and oil platforms. If you have ancestors with a Scottish Highland origin, they can provide an aerial view of the area they came from! See Scotavia Images here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What You Missed: The November 2007 General Meeting

"Oral History Inteviews" was the topic for our November general society meeting, held the 3rd of this month at the Spokane Public Library. The presentation was given by EWGS Historian John Ellingson, who is also the chairman of the local Oral History Association at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC). Since 1984, he has been interviewing local residents, and helping to archive and preserve the oral interviews at the MAC.

John showed an interesting PowerPoint presentation to accompany his syllabus, "Handy Tips for Compiling an Oral History Interview." He recommended the following five resources for furthering one's learning about oral histories: Transcribing and Editing Oral History by Willa K. Baum; Oral History from Tape to Type by Cullom Davis; Record and Remember by Ellen Epstein and William Hartley; An Oral History Primer by Gary Shumway and Rona Mendelsohn; and How to Tape Instant Oral Biographies by William Zimmerman. He also played various recordings to demonstrate good--and poor--quality interviews, as examples.

Some of the oral histories that are available at the MAC include interviews of those in the Spokane Jewish community, the Japanese-American community, and those who were paramount in EXPO '74. There are 70 World War II-era interviews, as part of the Veterans History Project. Louis Livingston, born in 1900 and one of the oldest living Americans who registered for the World War I Draft (he never did serve) and who resides in Spokane, interviewed over 50 famous Inland Empire residents. These interviews are also stored at the MAC, but cannot be released to the public until after Livingston's death. This statement brought about quite a few laughs, since the 107-year-old veteran appears to be living forever! Not as Briefed: From the Doolittle Raid to a German Stalag by local WW II USAAF bomber pilot William J. O'Dwyer was published as a result of his giving oral interviews, along with excerpts from his personal diary.

Mr. Ellingson shared that one of his most memorable interviews involved an elderly woman who tired after about a half-hour of sharing her personal history. "Come back in the morning and we'll finish then," she told him. When he arrived the next morning, he learned she had passed away during the night. Her family was very grateful for the transcribed interview he gave them, and they used it as part of her memorial service. John's presentation was excellent and thorough, giving us not only tools to do our own oral history interviews, but local history lessons and interesting facts about local residents. He urged us to record our family stories and interview our relatives as soon as possible. "What are you waiting for?" this 86-year-young historian has challenged us!

What You Missed: The October 2007 Computer Class

When the news was released that Bill Hire was going to present a class on land records for our October 20th members-only computer class, I received a plethora of e-mails asking to sign up for it as soon as possible! Bill brings his experience as a surveyor to our society, having previously made a presentation on land records at our October Workshop in 2005. His "Land Records on the Internet" syllabus listed nine links to major sites to further one's research in this area. He explained why land records are important to genealogy: they place an ancestor or relative at a specific location and point in time, as well as often being the only records available that show a family relationship between two individuals.

We learned about or reviewed public lands states vs. state lands states, metes and bounds vs. the township system, and discussed many resources, such as DeedMapper, plat maps online, and various genealogy books on land records research. I believe we all went away having learned many things, and excited to further our research in this area! If you would like a copy of the syllabus for this class, please contact me at kidmiffatgmaildotcom (substitute appropriate symbols).

The next computer class will be held November 17th and will be presented by Bette Butcher Topp. Her topic is "Genealogy Society Websites." If you are interested in signing up, please contact me, Miriam Robbins Midkiff, at the e-mail address listed in the previous paragraph, or see our member directory for my telephone number. Currently, there are a few spots available during the 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM and the 1:30 - 2:30 PM sessions. You must be a current EWGS member to attend.

What You Missed: The October 2007 Workshop

"Journeys: Tracing the Steps of Our Ancestors" was the theme of EWGS's annual October Workshop. If you missed this terrific all-day program, you indeed missed out! Held at the Southside Senior Center at 27th and Ray on October 6th, the morning was kicked off by Donna Potter Phillips' "Immigration: Where? When? Why? How?" Did you know that 35 million immigrants came to America between 1820 - 1920? This was the largest unplanned human migration in recorded history, and it was mainly due to the collapse of an agricultural society, the start of the Industrial Revolution, and the rising population in Europe. Donna gave many interesting facts about immigration, and recommended a list of helpful books to expand our knowledge about these events.

The second morning session offered three choices: "Migration Routes Across America," by Lethene Parks; "Back to My New England Ancestors," by Marvel Miller; and "A Journey Backward and a Backward Journey," by Steve Turner.

After a delicious lunch catered by the Center's staff, we returned to our third session in the afternoon. "Where to Find the Clues to the Route," was presented by Donna, while "Staying on the Path through Surname Changes," was offered by Jeanne Coe. Tammi Rizzuto and Judy Williams each gave short presentations about their personal research trips, "Finding the Scottish Archives," and "Journey to Germany," respectively.

The last session's presentations were "Migration Map Plotting Workshop" by Lethene Parks, "My Researching Journey to Norway," by Barbara Brazington, and "Onward to Publication: Easier Than You Think," by Ruby Simonsen McNeill. I wish that I had had an opportunity to sit in on each and every presentation, don't you? We are very fortunate to have such talented and knowledgeable members in our society! My syllabus will be three-hole punched and placed in a binder with other notes and syllabuses relating to immigration and migration routes, for further reference.

Congratulations to all our speakers, the workshop committee, and to Pat Mielbrecht, our chairperson, for putting together such an interesting, informative program!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

EWGS Wins Honorable Mention in RootsTelevision Contest! recently announced the winner of the Societies and Libraries Contest. The Friends of the Allen County (Indiana) Public Library won a $1000 prize for bringing the most visitors to the RootsTelevision site via their own website during the month of October. EWGS has won a $100 prize for honorable mention, along with three other societies, the Muskogee (Oklahoma) Genealogical Society, the Escondido (California) Genealogical Society, and the Village (Arkansas) Genealogical Society.

I think we did ourselves proud! Give yourself a pat on the back!

Steamboats and Genealogy in North Idaho

The Kootenai County Genealogical Society will be holding its next meeting on Thursday, November 15th from 6:00 - 8:00 PM at the Coeur d'Alene Public Library, 702 E. Front Street. This is a change from the normal meeting time of 7:00 PM, due to the library's closing at 8:00 PM. The featured topic will be "Come and See What the Steamboats Brought to Your Ancestors Before the Civil War." As well, the DVD of "The Rise and Fall of the Steamboat Arabia" will be shown.

This meeting is free and open to the public. All are welcome and encouraged to attend!

Family Heritage Album Sessions

Free classes offered on creating Family Heritage Albums and Creative Memories Scrapbooks on the first Wednesday of each month, 9:00 to 12:00, at the Fairmount Memorial Park Parsonage House, 5200 W. Wellesley Ave. in Spokane.

"Come learn how to create meaningful photo albums to preserve your family heritage and memories. You will begin putting your photographs into albums with simple techniques that are fun and easy. You'll be amazed at how easy and do-able your project can be." Fresh coffee and juice and delicious pastries will be served.

Classes are the first Wednesday of the month: that's 5 Dec 2007 and then for 2008: 9 Jan, 6 Feb, 5 Mar, 2 Apr, 7 May, 4 Jun, 2 Jul, 6 Aug, 3 Sep, 1 Oct, 5 Nov and 3 Dec.

Please R.S.V.P. to the Fairmount Memorial Association at 509-747-4029.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Military Cemetery---New One for Eastern Washington

Our newspaper, The Spokesman-Review, reported today (7 Nov 2007) that it's official. Eastern Washington is getting a new veterans cemetery. Our Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the legislation for the cemetery earlier this year and 80 acres of land southwest of Spokane were chosen and approved. The cemetery will be one mile north of West Medical Lake on Espanola Road.

There aren't many military or veterans' cemeteries in Washington. There is the Washington Veteran's Home Cemetery near Port Orchard, the fairly new Tahoma National Cemetery near Renton, and older little cemeteries at Fort Walla Walla and Fort George Wright (near Spokane).

Groundbreaking is expected on Veteran's Day 2008 and the cemetery is expected to be open a year later.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Do You Have a Family Mystery That Might Be Solved by DNA?

Blaine Bettinger, a.k.a. "Dr. DNA", a.k.a. "The Genetic Genealogist", is the host of the 35th Carnival of Genealogy, whose topic is, "Do You Have a Family Mystery That Might Be Solved by DNA?"

Nineteen bloggers submitted 21 posts with their questions regarding their families' ancestral mysteries--from finding Native American heritage to questioning how far we want to go, ethically, in uncovering family secrets--and Blaine answered each and every one.

In my husband's family, we have created the Midkiff Family DNA Project to determine whether all the Midkiffs found in North America have a common ancestor. Many of the various Midkiff family lines have "brickwalled" in the early 19th and late 18th centuries, including my husband's line, which "stops" with his earliest known ancestor, Franklin Preston MIDKIFF (c. 1800 - c. 1839) of Lincoln Co. (now Moore Co.), Tennessee. By testing various Midkiff men using the Y-DNA test, we now know of two other Midkiff lines that connect to Franklin, proving a common ancestor who lived sometime between 1700 - 1800, probably in Virginia. The two other lines are "brickwalled" at David MIDKIFF (c. 1769 - 1840s) and John MIDKIFF (b. c. 1740), both of Pittsylvania Co., Virgina. Our Family DNA Project is also in communication with the Metcalfe Family DNA Project, as we believe that "Midkiff" is an alternate spelling of that name.

If you are interested in learning more about DNA as it relates to genealogy, I suggest becoming a frequent reader of Blaine's blog, The Genetic Genealogist. He has a free e-book that can be downloaded here, which is called 10 DNA Testing Myths Busted, and Other Favorite Posts. It is available in .pdf format (read with Adobe Reader, a free program most of us have on our computers). He also recommends great books for those interested in learning more. There are five beginner books and 10 more scientific ones on his list, and I plan on reading every one! Currently, I'm reading The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Bryan Sykes. It's a fascinating read involving many of my favorite mysteries that I used to love to watch on Nova, Unsolved Mysteries, and the like: Was Anna Anderson really the daughter of Czar Nicholas II? Are the Polynesians descendants of Asians or South Americans?

Another must-read blog for those interested in genetics is Megan's RootsWorld by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak. Megan, a professional genealogist, coined the term "genetealogy" and has written, among many books, Trace Your Roots with DNA. Her expertise in both genealogy and genetics is often featured in magazines, newspapers, and television shows, including the Hallmark Channel's New Morning, where we see how Megan returned a photo album found in the trash to its rightful owner, halfway around the world!

We have been lucky that twice in the past year we've had an opportunity to hear experts speak on this topic locally: first, Ugo Perego from the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation spoke at the North Stake Family History Center's Family History Conference in March; and our own Bernie Middleton made an excellent presentation, "DNA in Genealogical Reseach" at our April general meeting. The study of DNA as it relates to family history is not going to go away. It is a useful, fascinating tool that can aid us in our research, and it behooves us to educate ourselves on this topic.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Find A Grave Site Now at 19 Million Grave Records

I noticed over at Find A Grave that they now have 19 million grave records which you can search, in their non-famous grave area (for most of us, those would be where our ancestors are listed!).

When I first starting using this wonderful site over six years ago, I believe they only had about 5 or 6 grave million records. Even a year ago, when I presented a tutorial on using this site to the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, there were only about 13 million grave records! If you would like a copy of my syllabus from that presentation, please e-mail me at kidmiffatgmaildotcom (substitute appropriate symbols in this phrase).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Two Deadlines: RootsTelevision and Writing Contest

October 31st isn't just the day that marks Hallowe'en. It also is a deadline for two events important to EWGS.

The first is that the society contest at RootsTelevision ends that day. See their graphic icon over there on the right? Click on it and visit their site for wonderful, helpful, humorous genealogical videos! The society or organization that brings the most traffic to RootsTelevision during this, their one-year-anniversary month, will win a $1,000 prize! We've got a link on our webpage, too!

Last month, I gave some tips on how you can help us win this prize:
  • 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."
  • E-mail your family, friends, and good-natured co-workers to help us out! Send them the links to the blog ( and the website (
  • 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!
  • 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!
  • 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).
We've just got three more days, folks! C'mon! We can do it!

The other October 31st deadline is for the seventh annual EWGS Literary Competition, the topic of which is "An Ancestor I Wish I Could Talk To and Why." Entries are limited to approximately 1,000 - 2,000 words. Complete documentation is not necessary, but the judges would like you to state the sources of your information. Entries must be typewritten (or published in a word-processing program, such as Microsoft Word) and sent to Doris Woodward (see the member directory for her contact information). First prize is a $100 gift certificate to a genealogical book publisher, while second prize is a $50 gift certificate to the same. All stories will be printed in The Bulletin over the next year (EWGS reserves the right to edit).

This is a lot of fun, folks! I entered last time ("My Favorite Military Ancestor" was the theme) and won second prize, netting me two much-coveted genealogical books. It was so fascinating to read all the interesting stories in The Bulletin, as well! Doris has not gotten a lot of entries so far, so whip up a good story and send it on in!

How Do You Spell Hartal?

If you saw Monday's Spokesman-Review (story at the top link here), you may have seen the humorous front page photo of Chief of Police Anne Kirkpatrick and her team, "Crime and Punishment," as Whitworth University professor Dr. Victor Bobb announced that they were the first to be eliminated from the Spokane is Spelling adult spelling bee. This fund raising event was held at The Big Easy Concert House last Sunday, October 21st, at 4:00 PM.

Three members of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society formed "The Genealogists" team in order to support the Spokane Public Library Foundation and get our society's image out to the public. The team consisted of President Bill Hire, Distinguished Service Member and EWGS Bulletin editor Doris Woodward, and myself. We were very excited and a little nervous about participating. There were some well-known Spokane names and faces among both the participants and the audience, including Washington State Senator Chris Marr, Spokane Public Schools Board of Education President Christie Querna (participants), and Mayor Dennis Hession (audience). Directly behind us in line were Spokane Symphony Orchestra members Brenda Neinhouse and Don Nelson, with Maestra Eckart Preu...and were they ever a riot! When the word "requiem" came up for another team, the SSO team groaned. Of course, their team was not going to be lucky enough to get any of the music vocabulary as spelling words!

The first two rounds consisted of fifth- and sixth- grade words, to shake out our nerves and--as emcee Mike Gonzalez retorted--to see if were were "smarter than a fifth-grader"! Our first word was "party." Easy enough. Rounds Three and Four brought harder words: "centaur" and "deterrent". Then Round Five brought the challenge: "hartal". Bill and Doris had conflicting spellings. They're both sharp spellers, but on the pad we were supplied, Bill wrote h-a-r-t-o-l, while Doris had h-a-r-t-a-l. I was the team's announcer, and we had 15 seconds from the time the word was announced and the definition given before we had to give the correct spelling. Together, we made a snap judgment, and chose Bill's spelling. All we could say was that at least we were eliminated on a toughie!

We didn't do too badly, getting knocked about about halfway through; there were 26 teams total. "The Pacific Northwest Inlander" team won, then had to compete among themselves for the final grand prize, a $1000 shopping spree at River Park Square, dinner for two at Fugazzi and an overnight stay in the penthouse suite at Hotel Lusso. Michael Bowen won with the word "urceolate". Whew!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ancestry Surveys 10,000 members

Ancestry posted the results of their survey of 10,000 members to find out what materials they wanted more of. Click here to see the results. Do you agree with the results??

Here are the comments of Randy Seaver.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Spokane area earthquakes??

Today's Spokesman-Review (Thursday, 25 Oct 2007) carried this article: "Tiny quakes shaking Wandermere area." Apparently, Spokane and northeast Washington have undergone a series of minor earthquakes in the past two months....but most, if not all, were too small to be felt. Such was not the case back in June 2001 when a rattler of 3.7 size woke up Spokane residents at 7:15am. If you'd like to know more about earthquakes in the Spokane area, watch for our Eastern Washington Genealogical Society's Bulletin, next issue. Made me earthquakes happen pretty much everywhere? How did earthquakes affect our ancestors' lives?? Have they affected yours??

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Approved Civil War Widow Pension Application Files to Be Digitized

I received the following press release from FamilySearch this morning:

National Archives and FamilySearch Team Up to Digitize and Index Mountains of Historic Documents

SALT LAKE CITY—The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of the United States and FamilySearch today announced an agreement that will lead to the digitization of millions of historical documents over time. The bulk of the digital images and related indices will be freely accessible through, 4,500 family history centers worldwide, or at the National Archives and its Regional Centers.

The agreement is the result of several years of discussions between the two organizations and NARA’s new long-term strategy for digitizing and making available major segments of its vast collection online to the public. Ultimately, the records digitized by FamilySearch will consist of court, military, land, and other government records that include information of genealogical significance for family historians. The records date as early as 1754 to as late as the 1990s.

Almost all of the records in the National Archives currently are not readily accessible to patrons who visit the National Archives or one of its regional facilities. The newly digitized and indexed records produced under the agreement will be available online—greatly increasing patron access.

“For a number of years, we have had a very productive relationship with FamilySearch,” said Professor Allen Weinstein, archivist of the United States. “This agreement expands our relationship to enable online access to some of the most popular and voluminous records in our holdings. It is an exciting step forward for our institutions and for the American people,” he added.

Under the new agreement, FamilySearch will be operating highly specialized digital cameras 5 days a week at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. FamilySearch intends to extend the digitization services to select regional facilities at a later date. That means there will be a continuous flow of new data for genealogy buffs to explore for years to come. It also means FamilySearch will be able to digitize the thousands of microfilms it has already created from NARA’s holdings—providing access to millions of images for genealogists to search from the convenience of their home computers with Internet access.

The first fruit of this effort is a portion of a very large collection of Civil War records, already underway. In this pilot project, FamilySearch will digitize the first 3,150 Civil War widow pension application files (approximately 500,000 pages). After digitization, these historical documents will be indexed and posted online by with the indices also available for free on FamilySearch intends to do all 1,280,000 of these files over the coming years.

James Hastings, director of Access Programs at the National Archives, said, "For decades the National Archives has helped thousands of researchers gain access to this rich trove of records in Washington. Thanks to this agreement with FamilySearch, this valuable information will now be available to millions of users around the world in a far more accessible format."

Wayne Metcalfe, director of FamilySearch Record Services, said, “No single group can preserve, organize, and make available all the information contained in the world’s important genealogical documents—like those found in the National Archives of the United States. Such immense undertakings require the cooperation of record custodians, researchers, and specialized services. FamilySearch is committed to being an integral partner in this global effort.”

FamilySearch is the largest international organization of its kind, working with national archives and record custodians worldwide to preserve and increase access to records of genealogical significance. It is currently working on projects in over 45 countries.
About the National Archives. The National Archives and Records Administration, an independent federal agency, is the nation's record keeper. Founded in 1934, its mission is unique—to serve American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. It supports democracy, promotes civic education, and facilitates historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives meets a wide range of information needs, among them helping people to trace their families' history, making it possible for veterans to prove their entitlement to medical and other benefits, and preserving original White House records. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and on the Internet at

About FamilySearch. The Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU)—doing business as FamilySearch—is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources; these resources may be accessed through, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. FamilySearch is a trademark licensed to GSU and is registered in the United States of America and other countries.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

News from the Genealogy Blogging World

Here's some news that's been making its rounds in the genealogy blogging world lately:

  • Georgia's state death index from 1919 - 1927 is now available online with links to digital images of original death certificates. Details are here.
  • The parent company that owns, The Generations Network, has been acquired by Spectrum Equity Investors. Details are here, and a current list of commentary and interviews of CEO Tim Sullivan are here.
  • "Halloween and the Supernatural" was the theme of the 34th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, which was hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene. Click on the link to read your free online "magazine" of great genealogy-related "articles" written by 19 bloggers! (I forgot to write about the 33rd Carnival edition when it came out. Its topic was "Weddings," and was published October 4th.)
  • Craig Manson, a genea-blogging law professor, has published a new series of law lessons entitled "Defamation and Privacy Issues in Genealogy" on his blog, GeneaBlogie. The first post is here. Craig's last series on the law regarding genealogy was about whether violated copyright law with its Internet Biographical Database (part one of that series is here).

What You Missed: The September 2007 Computer Class

On September 15, Judy Rand Williams presented her class on German Resources Online to EWGS members in the Gates Computer Lab at the downtown public library. She showed how she used the Google search engine to find links to helpful websites on the Internet for German genealogy, history, translation help, maps and other resources. As in any of our classes, actually sitting down at a computer station and practicing and experimenting with the help of an instructor and one's peers can yield some magnificent results!

I personally enjoyed Judy's class, although I only have very little German ancestry. A few other members in her 10:15 class had so much fun looking at various websites that they returned for her 11:30 class to surf the web as a group some more!

If you took Judy's class, I invite you to leave your comments on what you learned from her presentation to share with other members and readers. To leave a comment, click at the bottom of this post (article) where it says "0 COMMENTS" (the zero may be replaced by a different number, depending if others have already commented). Type your comment in the box that will be provided. To "Choose Your Identity," you can use your Blogger user name if your have one; if not, click on "Other" and enter your name and the name of your website, if you have one. (Anonymous comments will not be cleared by me.) Then click "Publish Your Comment." The comment will be e-mailed to me for clearance before being published (this is to prevent spam and inappropriate comments by the public, as this blog is viewable all over the world).

If you missed Judy's class and would like a syllabus, please e-mail me (see your EWGS member directory for my e-mail address - Miriam Robbins Midkiff). You can also see our list of upcoming computer classes here. I am signing members up for next year's classes, so you can e-mail me with the list and times of classes you would like to take.

Monday, October 8, 2007

New Database In FamilySearch

This new database may not help your personal genealogy one bit, but just think: Isn't it exciting that more and more of the unusual is appearing online???

Old Agriculture Books Can Enrich a Family History

Historic Utah Animal Brand Books Posted Online

SALT LAKE CITY—The Utah State Archives and Record Service and FamilySearch announced today that digital images of the state’s historic brand books are now available at FamilySearch digitized the state’s brand books from about 1849 to 1930, which were then added to the Utah State Archives’ Digital Collections. A free, full text search and name index link to the newly available images. Brand books officially started in 1851 to prevent the duplicate use of brands by local livestock owners and as a means to identify and control animal inventory. Information included in a brand entry could be a helpful and interesting addition to a family’s history.

"Brand books have been a popular request in the research center for years. We are happy that more researchers will not only be able to view and print from these books anywhere and anytime, but that more might discover this unique resource from Utah's history," said Gina Strack, digital coordinator for the Utah State Archives. Brands have been registered in Utah since 1851 and include all brands and ear marks registered with the State Department of Agriculture. According to the database, over 42,000 livestock owners used brands to help distinguish their animals from the livestock of other owners. Later, as regulations expanded state control over inspection for disease, transportation, and slaughter of livestock, maintenance of a central brand registry became even more important.

“Family historians might find some of the information in the brand entries fun, interesting, or helpful in providing context to their family stories,” said Wayne Metcalfe, director for FamilySearch Record Services. Entries in the brand books include the brand symbol, the name of the person registering the mark or brand, the location on the body of the animal, the county of residence of the applicant, and the date the brand was recorded. Illustrations of where the marks and brands appeared on the body were added to the books in 1901, as were the names of brand owners. “How many people know about or have a picture of the family’s official animal brand? That would be a fun conversation piece to any family history discussion or collection,” Metcalfe added. Holdings of the brand books are not complete.

The law regulating the printing of brand books was passed by the first session of the territorial legislature in 1851. It required the general recorder to furnish printed copies of all marks and brands to the clerks of different counties. The brands were published and distributed to all county clerks.

FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources accessed through, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries.

Washington State Archives Month

October is Washington State Archives Month; see their home page here.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

New York Times 1851-1980

Last week I read a notice about the New York Times opening up their archives. They are every name search able from 1851 to the present, but some you can not view online due to the copyright. (Note: The Spokane downtown library has the ones not online on microfilm). While you probably will not find your ancestor in the Times, you can search for the ship they came on. I searched for my grandfather's ship, the SS Nevada, and about 20 hits came up, several close to when he came to the USA. Another tip is to search for your ancestors hometown. I searched for my grandfather's town in Minnesota (Wadena), and got a few hits. Searching for Spokane brought up coverage of the Spokane Fire in 1889.

When on the Times homepage, near the middle is a drop-down menu with search times; click there and change to 1851-1980 and then type in the name you are looking for. Here is the URL for the New York Times:

Friday, October 5, 2007

Internet Genealogy...Again

The November 2007 issue of Internet Genealogy is 55 pages packed with great information and tips to enhance your family history research...articles on GenSmarts, Timelines, 120 Online Databases, GenealogyBank and this one: "Big Changes at" Don't you just have to read these? (smile)

If you're ready to take the plunge and become an Internet Genealogy Magazine Devotee, then you'll be happy to learn that IG is offering all 9 back issues for $45 ($7 each x 9 is $63, so quite a savings.)

IG for one year is $28. Call toll free 888-326-2476. Tell them Donna sends you. Internet Genealogy magazine is the way to stay current with all the new wonderful happenings in the online genealogy world.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Virginia Tithables 1624 - 1704

All researchers should use tithable lists, which were annual head taxes that were levied on residents. Because land and personal property were generally NOT taxed in the early colonies, the tithable lists are about the only colonial period tax records we can use.

There were acts setting the amount of tax in 1629, 1632 and 1639 and the word "tithable" does not appear in the law statutes until 1643. As counties and parishes were established, there was naturally a need to collect revenue, therefore making subsequent statutes necessary, in order to define all factors. There were various acts from 1643 through 1748 and the main thing was to identify the people, not in a physical household, but rather a taxable one.

Still, existing lists may be county lists or even parish lists which could be originals, copies, or lists that were actually entered by the county or vestry clerk. The origins of the list, therefore, determines the likely accuracy and we must keep in mind a justice's list or a clerk's list may very well spell the same name differently.

As the colonies became independent, the tax system changed to taxing mainly males over 16 as well as to taxes on personal property and land. If you are researching Virginia, it is a good idea to check "The Statutes at Large: Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia" by Wm. W. Hening, editor. Vol. 1, p. 128. You need to carefully check the applicable laws and the county clerk records to interpret tithables lists made during the period of interest.

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!

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Google has wonderful bells and whistles that are of immense value to us "geneahistorians." I like to call them Genea-Google-ology Tools! Have you tried Google Alerts? You can be alerted with a message sent to your e-mail inbox every time your surname of interest (or other keyword or phrase) shows up on the Internet!

For instance, every time any of the words midkiff, sweers, tuinstra, valk, or westaby show up online, I get a handy-dandy e-mail letting me know, along with a link to that site. The above surnames are some of the more unusual ones in my husband's and my ancestries. You can also choose a phrase (put your search terms within quotation marks) or a combination of words (use the plus [+] key). I have genealogy+michigan as another alert, which searches for both words (not necessarily together) on a website or blog. You can control where your results come from, too: news, blogs, web, groups, or comprehensive (all).

You can also tweak your alerts a bit, by narrowing your results using the minus ( - ) key. Using only tuinstra as a search term, I was getting links to dozens of articles written by well-known journalist Fons Tuinstra, stationed in China. I changed my alert to tuinstra -fons to get better hits. I was also getting a lot of hits for a Joost Valk that did not apply to my genealogy, so again, I made a change to valk -joost. I still get some unconnected hits, but they have decreased in volume considerably.

"So how do I set up Google Alerts for myself?" you may be asking. Go here to begin. As far as I can tell, you do not need a Google account or Gmail address to set up an alert. The process is fairly simple, and once you sign up, you should start receiving alerts soon. As a matter of fact, you can control how frequently you receive these alerts, too: once a day, as it happens, or once a week. And you can edit your alerts at any time!

(P.S. Thanks to Ruby for telling me about this, many months ago!)

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Last Bell - The Country Schools of Stevens County, Washington

As an alumnus of the Colville (Washington) School District, Leland Meitzler's post today, over at Genealogy Blog, caught my eye. He's got a book review about The Last Bell, written by Alpha Naff. Originally published in 1984, it was reprinted in 2005, and "deals with public education at the turn of the century in Northeast Washington – the 'country schools' of Stevens County." Reading the table of contents of the old one-room schools was like coming home. My parents live off Aladdin Road and the old Aladdin Schoolhouse is now a private home, just a few stones' throw down the mountain. In fact, when I was a teenager in the '80s, we had some elderly neighbors whose kids had attended that school in the '60s. No school buses in those days, they had simply walked the three miles literally down the mountain and back every day, taking shortcuts through the woods until they reached the old logging roads that are now part of the county road system.

Only last week, while on vacation up in the Colville National Forest, I had passed two other former schoolhouses, the Addy Schoolhouse, now the Old Schoolhouse Trading Post (a combination convenience store and museum) and the Tiger Highway Schoolhouse (abandoned; although not long ago it was a private home).

Today the 107 schoolhouses of Stevens County have been abandoned, destroyed, or used for other purposes, and six school districts cover the county, the largest being the Colville School District. The district's bus routes cover an amazing distance guess is that the average is a 25-mile trip--one way-- over mountain roads with the city being the hub of the circle. We never had a snow day in all the years I can remember, even though it was often an iffy three-mile trip down to the bus stop over ice and many inches of snow!

I've got a lot of connections to this district; besides myself, my brother and sister also graduated from this district, and our dad, nearing retirement, begins his 29th school year as a staff member this fall. This book looks like it would make a great gift for my family members; I know I certainly will enjoy it! If you have Stevens County ancestors who lived in the area between 1875 to 1930, I'm sure it will make a nice addition to your home library. Besides, a purchase of this book will benefit the Northeast Washington Genealogical Society!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

NARA Sets New Charges for Records

According to what I read on the New England Historical Society, NARA--or the National Archives--has raised the fees for obtaining copies of records. Plus you have to use a new form - the old NATF-80 form has been discontinued. Here is a list of what I read about:
  • Passenger Arrival Lists (NATF 81), $25
  • Federal Census requests (NATF 82), $25
  • Eastern Cherokee applications to the Court of Claims (NATF 83), $25
  • Land entry records (NATF 84), $40
  • Full Pension File (Civil War and after, more than 75 years old), up to 100 pages (NATF 85), $75
  • Full Pension File (pre-Civil War) (NATF 85), $25
  • Pension Documents Packet containing only selected records (NATF 85), $25
  • Bounty land warrant application files (NATF 85), $25
  • Military service files more than 75 years old (NATF 86), $25.

Go here to get the new form. Seems like the prices have gone up significantly.

Harold Hinds

Miriam reminded me that I'd not shared my story about how I met Prof. Harold Hinds (who gave a great presentation to EWGS in August). Well, there are three seats across on an airplane, right? My good friend, Lethene Parks, and I were on our way from Salt Lake City to Cincinnati to the FGS conference about seven years ago when this big tall smiling guy comes to take the seat between us. "Oh darn," was our first thought. But Harold proved to be a wonderful seat mate and by journey's end we had become friends. I have since run into him every now and then at national genealogical functions. (He teaches at the University of Minnesota.) Moral of the story? Welcome the challenge of a big smiling seat mate!

Postscript to the story. When Harold gave his presentation to EWGS, I could not help but smile at some of the unusual names in his family tree (and these are first names): Bion, Herma, Avis, and Climena. And some of them were from Buffalo Hump, Idaho.


This just came to me from Family Tree Magazine...hey, I've always taught in my genealogy classes that "if it's free, take two!" Why not give this a try??


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Every issue of "Genealogy Pointers" is full of special product offers and excellent tips for tracing your roots. "Pointers" readers are also the first people to learn about new products from our publishing companies. You will find that our books and CDs will supplement the excellent genealogy books you may have already purchased from F&W Publications.

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We hope you enjoy reading the newsletter and then decide to subscribe to "Genealogy Pointers." To do so, simply go to our Home Page ( and click on the "Genealogy Pointers" link on the left side of the screen.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

FGS in Ft.Wayne

Just returned from Ft.Wayne, Indiana, and the FGS annual national conference. This was four days of intense learning; one day for helpful sessions on genealogy society management and four days of sessions spanning A to Z. The syllabus was a #5 "telephone book" which everybody complained about but everybody carried. Sessions (and the luncheon talks) presented basic how-tos and/or updates on the newest stuff going on...things (and websites) like Footnote, World Vital Records, Internet Genealogy magazine, Ancestry, FamilySearch Indexing and more. The vendors hall was like the proverbial candy store. At the Ancestry display, a daily drawing was held giving away books and flash drives...I won one on Friday and Saturday!

One big plus to this conference was the opportunity to use the new Genealogy Department of the Allen County Public Library. Hard to imagine that the good people of Ft.Wayne coughed up $88 million for this public library. They bill it as the largest genealogy collection east of Salt Lake City and it might just be so. This library is the home of PERSI, remember. The library was open until midnight on two nights just so we conference attendees could get our fill.

Yes, I know it's costly to attend a national conference. Next year the FGS conference will be in September in Philadelphia; the NGS conference will be in May in Kansas City. But your researching knowledge would expand and you certainly would enjoy attending, I guarantee it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Help EWGS Win $1000!

To celebrate the launch of their new Societies Channel and Libraries & Archives Channel, Roots Television™ is holding a special contest!

They invite all genealogical and historical societies, as well as any libraries and archives, to add their link to your website and ask you to encourage your members and patrons to visit Roots Television™ often. The organization that sends the most traffic to the Roots Television™ website by October 31st will win $1,000.

I've placed a link in the right-hand margin, and hope you'll visit Roots Television™ every day! There are so many great videos to watch, from How-Tos to Ethnic Research to highlights of the recent FGS Conference in Ft. Wayne last weekend. Check it out!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Podcasts: A New Category at Cyndi's List

I've been a member of Cyndi's List mailing list for about six months now (go here to subscribe yourself). Every other day or so, Cyndi sends out e-mails in several formats. "What's New On Cyndi's List" features the latest uncategorized website links that have been recommended to her to be included on her famous site. As she categorizes these, she sends out a "Cyndi's List Update" with category summaries of new, updated, or removed links. Today she sent out an e-mail notifying us of a "New Category: Podcasts for Genealogy." According to Cyndi, right now, "it is small, but gives you a few ideas of what some people are thinking to do with them."

As I've seen my husband and teenage daughter enjoy theirs, an MP3 player is definitely on my Christmas wish list for new technology toys. Only in addition to listening to audio books or music as they do, I would add genealogy podcasts to my list of audio choices. If you're unfamiliar with a podcast, think of it as a modern version of a radio talk show, available online, which can be downloaded into an iPod or MP3 player to listen to later at your convenience. In genealogy podcasts, the hosts often discuss strategies for overcoming genealogical brickwalls, highlight new websites and databases, and discuss upcoming conferences, among many topics. You don't need an iPod or MP3 player to listen to a podcast, however. You can listen on your desktop or laptop, as long as you have speakers and audio software. I try to remember that if I have a time consuming chore such as mending, filing, or labeling photographs, to turn on a podcast to help time go by and enjoy learning something new.

And if you'd like to understand all that computer and Internet vocabulary you've been reading or hearing your grandchildren use, check out NetLingo, an online dictionary of Internet, computer, and technology terms.