Friday, May 27, 2016

Serendipity Day

Good Reason to Connect with Cousins

MyHeritage Releases Book Matching Technology

Genealogy Road Show, New Season on PBS

Accessing American Ancestors for Free

How Many of You Are There? Try Find My Name


Last week, I drove from Spokane down to Kennewick to spend time with hubby’s cousin, Cathy. We spent a delightful afternoon talking family and working on our common Ancestry tree. She showed me all the “stuff” (read: family artifacts) around her house that belonged to her and John’s common grandmother. That was wonderful enough, but the “frosting on the cupcake” was that she gave me a start of the flowering plant that Grandma Ethel had brought all the way from Illinois when she was married in 1911 and came to Spokane. Now we have it growing in our garden and I will share with my children. It’s important to pass along more than facts and photos. (Anybody name this plant? Cathy didn't know.)


Maybe we all ought to consider exploring/using MyHeritage….. This website has risen to be right up there with Ancestry and FamilySearch.
MyHeritage Releases Exclusive Book Matching Technology for Family History
MyHeritage users to automatically receive relevant excerpts from digitized books that reveal information about their ancestors and relatives

TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah, April 7, 2016 — MyHeritage, the fastest-growing destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history, has launched today a revolutionary addition to its suite of technologies: Book Matching. This innovation automatically researches users' family trees in historical books with high precision.

In April 2012 MyHeritage launched SuperSearch™, a search engine for historical records, which has since then grown to include 6.6 billion historical records, including birth, marriage, death and census records. By implementing its vision of enhancing genealogy with technology, MyHeritage then developed a line of unique and sophisticated technologies that automatically match the records from the search engine to the 32 million family trees uploaded by its users.

In December 2015, MyHeritage expanded its data collections to include digitized historical books, with an initial corpus of 150,000 books of high genealogical value. This collection was tripled last week to 450,000 books with 91 million pages. With a team of more than 50 dedicated curators, MyHeritage aims to add hundreds of millions of pages of digitized books to the collection each year.

As of today, MyHeritage users will receive matches between profiles in their family trees and the books from this collection. The Book Matching technology analyzes the book texts semantically, understanding complex narrative that describes people, and matches it to the 2 billion individuals in MyHeritage family trees with extremely high accuracy. This breakthrough technology is the first of its kind, and is exclusive to MyHeritage.

Book Matching has produced more than 80 million matches, and this number will continue to grow as the collection grows and as the family trees on MyHeritage continue to expand. Book Matching is currently available for English books, and the technology is being enhanced to cover additional languages. In addition, de-duplication technology is being added in the next few weeks to remove duplicate books that have been scanned and OCRed more than once by different sources.


Are you all enjoying the Genealogy Road Show on your local public TV station? (If not, if they’re not showing it, give them a call and ask why not??) The show airs Tuesdays and is into Season Three. Next Tuesday’s show (May 31st) will be coming from Houston, Texas. Last week they were in Albuquerque and some of the New Mexico heritage stories they uncovered were quite fab.

Have you noticed that there are more and more genealogy-themed TV shows recently? Finding Your Roots, Who Do You Think You Are? Faces of America, and this one I’ve not heard of: Ancestors in the Attic. What does that say about the popularity of our favorite pursuit?


American Ancestors is the website name of the New England Historic Genealogical Society which has been around since 1845 in Boston. (NEHGS is older than the first genealogical society in England; I like to quip that we wanted independence but we also remembered our roots.) American Ancestors is a subscription website but you may use it for free at your local Family History Center. American Ancestors is one of the subscription websites available free to patrons through their in-house PORTAL.

If you have New England ancestors (
) I would encourage you to visit your nearby FHC and use this resource for it does say “temporary access,” whatever that might mean.


Ever wondered how widespread the distribution of your surname (or you ancestral surname) really is? I stumbled upon a website that told me just that!  I clicked to and entered POTTER and found out that the U.S. state with the most Potter-people is California with Texas next. I could have searched for the Potter surname in a bunch of different countries even! The popularity of the surname in the U.S. is #473, rather low on the list but not rare. Go try your surname……………have fun!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Serendipity Day

Had a delightful lunch rendezvous with Doris Woodward, long-long time member of EWGS. She was the editor/compiler of the EWGS publication, The Bulletin, for years and years. Nearing 90, she’s not coming to meeting much anymore but it was still a delight to see her and find that she’s still as sharp and funny as ever.


This was Sue Kreikemeier’s President’s Message in the lastest issue of the Newsletter of the Whitman County Genealogical Society (Pullman). It was titled “Hidden Gems.”

In my professional life, I do a fair amount of driving around Whitman County, and enjoy exploring along the way. I am drawn to small cemeteries and dirt roads, and, when my schedule allows, will take a short detour to explore those. (A favorite reference is “Reflections on the Road: A Journey Through Whitman County Past and Present” by Martha Mullen.)

For years, while driving through Oakesdale, the McCoy Museum located right downtown, just a stone’s throw from the old Barron Flour Mill, has intrigued me. However, it wasn’t until unexpected business took me to Oakesdale on a Sunday afternoon that I was able to explore the Museum. What a trove of little gems I discovered! Now, maybe you are already aware of the contents of the museum. But at the risk of delivering old news, I thought I’d share some of my “discoveries”.

As I entered the museum Gail Parsons, a longtime volunteer and supporter of the McCoy Museum, greeted me. Following introductions I was quickly drawn to a shelf containing several stacks of old, leather-bound record books. When he saw my eyes light up with interest he proceeded to pull volumes off the shelves and spread them out on tables for my perusal.

Here’s a brief sampling of some of the treasures I found:
1920 Oakesdale Census
Justice Dockets 1894-1940
Record of Licenses 1891-1938 (dog licenses, peddler licenses, pool room and card table licenses were common entries)
Town Accounts 1893-1915
Various election records, poll books, and tally sheets
Improvement Bonds records 1920-1991, including purchasers of bonds

What a plethora of names, dates, and details painting a picture of a small, vital community! One of the more intriguing entries I noted was a justice docket entry regarding a case of forgery…that might make for some interesting embellishment to one’s family tree!

Whether you have roots in Oakesdale or not, I recommend a stroll through the museum as a reminder of small town life, local history, and the many ways records can illuminate our family stories.

Happy Trails! Sue Rogers Kreikemeier, President, Whitman County Genealogical Society


Kim Morgan’s last class in her series, Finding Your Ancestors, offers a wrap-up day on Saturday, June 11th, 11:00, at the Hayden Library (8385 N. Government Way, Hayden Lake….just north of Coeur d’Alene). Guest speaker will be Darwin Kellicut explaining how he found his “Genealogical Holy Grail in Tralee, Ireland.” This is also a Resource Day “to share books on Irish, Ulster-Irish, German, England and reference and history books as well as other great research aids.”


The headline read: “Insect Bite Ends Billings’ Life.”

On Thursday, May 19, 2016, Jim Kershner’s This Day in History column in our paper, The Spokesman, recounted  the sad story from back on May 18, 1916:  “A.C. Billings, 54, former mayor of Harrington, Washington, died from a most unusual cause: a tick bite. Billings was fishing on Crab Creek two weeks earlier when he was bitten by a tick. He did not discover the tick until a week later, after it had burrowed into his navel. He removed the tick, but the head remained embedded. He became seriously ill and went to a Spokane doctor, who discovered that gangrene had set in. The head of the tick was found and removed, “but the poison could not be checked.” His condition worsened and at least 20 doctors were called into observe and advise. None of them could do anything for Billings, and he died several days later at Sacred Heart Hospital. The doctors declared that it was one of the first tick deaths recorded west of the Rocky Mountains. They remained baffled by the case….”

Poor fellow was Arthur Clarence Billings, born in July 1862 in New Hampshire, son of Henry Billings and Emma Hatch. According to the 1900 and 1910 census, he was a wheat farmer near Harrington in Lincoln County with wife Emma.  According to the history of Harrington website, he was the first mayor of Harrington in 1901. No children were listed on either census.

A.C. Billings lies resting in Greenwood Cemetery, in the upper/older part. I found no tombstone for him (or Emma) but the office map pointed to this area.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

History Trivia Day

The Spokane Valley Heritage Museum's newest exhibit is titled:

"Isaac Stevens, Man in Hurry"

"One ferry ride across the Spokane River may have launched the Valley's history as a way station for travelers and a stopping point for homesteaders, the Army, the territorial Governor, Isaac Stevens and Captain John Mullan."

The museum is open Wednesday to Friday, 11:00am to 4:00pm and Saturday 11:00 to 5:00pm. Address is 12114 East Sprague (close to Pines) in the Spokane Valley. Phone is 509-922-4570. Their website is their website is a dandy! 

The Spokane Valley Heritage Museum is worth the time and effort for a visit. Take a friend and go to lunch and make a day of it!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Serendipity Day

** Genealogy’s Star: A Must-Read Blog (in my opinion) & YouTube Channel
** Washington’s Colville Tribes Selected For The Next U.S. Census Test
**Insects: Future Or Past Food?
**How To Ensure All Will Be Lost

James Tanner crafts his Genealogy’s Star blog nearly two times per week and I read every post and learn something new each time. Back on 5 Mar 2016, he posted about the BYU Family History Library Channel on YouTube. He was discussing a new uploaded video titled, “Why You Can’t Trace Your Family Back To Adam.” Who would not want to view this video?? Here’s how: (1) Click to;  (2) select the BYU Family History Library channel; (3) Chose what you want to view from the list of over 400 videos; and (4) Click the subscribe button to get notification of new videos as they’re uploaded.

May I, as your serendipity teacher today, give you two homework assignments today? First click to (note the two “s”) and sign up for James Tanner’s blog. Next click to and get going with your home learning from there!


An AP blurb in our local paper by Regina Garcia Cano, and from Sioux Falls, SD, read: “The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation is one of two National American reservations selected as test sites ahead of the 2020 census, as officials mull whether to ask for the first tie about tribal enrollment.” The two reservations are Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which straddles North and South Dakota, and the Colville reservation. “By selecting these geographic areas, we are allowing ourselves an opportunity to test our methods and procedures in areas where it is difficult to deliver questionnaires by mail,” said Deirdre Bishop, chief of the bureau’s Decennial Census Management Division.” I found this tidbit fascinating for many reasons. I’d not realized that the tremendous amount of decade-long work went into the taking of a census.

For more information on this (census taking) Google “Decennial Census Management Division.” Or “2020 U.S. Census.”  And ditto for more info on the two reservation test sites.


According to an article in the Delta Sky magazine for April 2016, the foods in our future may include insects……..bugs. Here is a link to a short video about Andrew Zimmern’s views on eating insects: from the Travel Channel. There has been plenty of buzz about “how are we going to feed the hungry millions on our planet in the future…and are insects the answer?” in the media. But I was not prepared for the picture that accompanied that Delta Sky article: a lollipop with a nice fat caterpillar inside of it! Yum?? Now, you might say, what does this have to do with family history? Let me ask you this:  Did our ancestors eat insects? I think they surely did but not in the way you think. I think poor eyesight, poor lighting in homes, and creepy-crawlies everywhere and in everything ensured that there were insects in our ancestor’s food. Yum.


How to ensure that all your genealogy, your life’s work, will be lost. Eight thoughts from Donna.
1.      Do not ever make time to take to relatives and collect their memories and memorabilia.
2.      Do not make time to share photos with relatives and get positive ID for them.
3.      Do not bother to scan in old photos and memorabilia and certainly do not bother with backups.
4.      Do not both to compile a list of who-in-the-family gets what of all the family treasures you’ve collected over the years.
5.      When cleaning out grandma’s house after the funeral, just bring lots of big black plastic bags for everything to take to the dump or Goodwill.
6.      Do not bother with transferring all the family information you have stored in binders and boxes to an online program.
7.      Do leave so much stuff stuffed in your office that your kids will be overwhelmed and not really know what to keep and what to toss.

8.      Don’t make a plan for without a plan you surely will fail and your genealogy will be lost.

Sad Facts:  Your local genealogy society DOES NOT WANT all your binders and boxes of un-organized papers and stuff. Neither does the Family History Library. And neither do your kids! They want the information and not all the stuff and they want it organized. 

Ancestry Users Group (TAG) has a great meeting!

The Ancestry Users Group (TAG) met again on May 12th at 12:30 at the Shadle Park Library. About 25 folks came to increase their understanding of Ancestry and learn how to better use that wonderful website. If you are nibbling around the edges of wanting to know more about using, then YOU are invited to join TAG! Our next meeting is Thursday, June 9th, 12:30-2:15, at the Shadle Park Library.

At the May gathering, Oweta gave a good lesson on Finding and Using the City Directories on Ancestry. Did you know that Ancestry has city directories dating back to 1822? Not for all cities, of course, but for many. Spokane, for instance. Ancestry has city directories from 1889 to 1960 for Spokane! (Disclosure: the actual city directory books for these years are on the shelves of the downtown Spokane public library.) 

Oweta explained that city directories were the phone books of their day. (The first telephone book was published in 1878.) With a city directory, you could look up people, businesses, neighbors, and sometimes even find ads for your ancestor's businesses or a map of that city. 

To learn more about TAG, contact Marge Mero, coordinator (pink shirt/purple vest) at 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Washington Trivia

Did you realize that our wonderful state is the ONLY state named after a U.S. president?? Here's why.... a quote from Brian Palmer that I found online:

Because it’s better than having two Columbias. The commission tasked with delineating the new national capital in 1791 named it the “Territory of Columbia.” (Federal statutes vacillated between calling the area a “territory” and a “district” for decades, with the latter becoming the official title in 1871.) When settlers in northern Oregon asked the government to establish an independent “Columbia Territory” in 1852, Congress faced a problem. Speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives, Kentucky Democrat Richard Henry Stanton noted, “We already have a Territory of Columbia.” The confusion could intensify, he added, if the new territory were to add a city called Washington or Georgetown. Congress agreed to grant the settlers independence from Oregon, but named their new state Washington to honor the first president.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Patricia Bayonne-Johnson, EWGS President, Makes BIG News

Read Online:


from your library
May 2016 
 Read. Learn. Discover.

Genealogists in the news

We are honored to share that the President of Eastern Washington Genealogical Society (EWGS), Pat Bayonne-Johnson, appeared in a story on the front page of the New York Times on Sunday, April 17. We hope you’ll find the story as interesting as we do. You can read the entire story here.
Bayonne-Johnson first learned her ancestors were reported to have been enslaved by the Jesuits of St. Mary’s Count, Maryland in 2004 while making plans for a family reunion. She sent documents to a genealogist in Baton Rouge for examination who discovered that Pat’s great-grandmother was born in Maryland. The rest might in fact be history but it’s a history worth uncovering.
In November 2015, Bayonne-Johnson formed the Butler Team at the library (pictured above) to continue to do research on her ancestors. Janette Birch (not pictured) is also a member of the team.
This is just one of many projects the genealogists are working on in any given week.
We invite you to stop by the downtown library on Tuesdays between 10 am and noon and 1 pm and 3 pm when volunteers are at the library to provide assistance to our customers on their own genealogical research. In addition to EWGS on Tuesdays (and some Thursdays—ask the downtown staff for more specifics on those dates), our reference librarian, Becky Menzel is our resident genealogist. She can assist you in getting started or answer any questions you might have while sending you in the right direction toward doing your own research.
The library also has a number of local history items as well as access to Family Search and American Ancestors, the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s database, which Becky can show you how to use.