Friday, October 30, 2020

Cemeteries: Did you know about segregation in Washington's cemeteries?


This tombstone might be funny but the story in our Spokesman a few days ago was not. 

Did you know that there was on the books of Washington that allowed cemeteries to discriminate on the basis of race? This was on the books following a 1960 decision. 

Washington cemeteries could "refuse burial to any person because such person was not of the Caucasian race. This very court once held that a cemetery could lawfully deny grieving Black parents the right to bury their infant.... we cannot undo this wrong but we can recognize our ability to do better in the future," said the justices in the letter.

Recently, the Washington State Supreme Court reversed that decision, a rule considered irrelevant anyway as federal and state regulations had already made it illegal. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

1920 And Our Museum Begins?


Jim Kershner's "100 Years Ago Today" in this morning's Spokesman, quoted from an article ono 26 Oct 1920:   "The Eastern Washington Historical Society announced its intention to seek federal money to expand its fledgling museum into a large, permanent institution.

"I believe museums are even more important than libraries," said Harl J. Cook of the society. "We should teach our children natural history. At the present time, a child goes out of the schoolroom and doesn't recognize it." 

He claimed that Spokane was in the center of the finest prehistoric field in the world and that 'within the next 25 years it will be the most popular hunting ground for ancient fossils on the entire continent."

Well, I don't know about that, but I do remember going to the museum in about 1957 and being mesmerized by the gem/mineral/rock collection. It was in an upstairs room in the mansion in those days. Anybody else remember those wonderful specimens? Wonder what happened to them????

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Follow-Up From Oct Workshop: Answer To WHY Take An Inventory?

Our recent EWGS October workshop featured a presentation on Probate Records by member Susan Beamer. I sent her a follow-up question asking WHY did every little thing have to be listed in an inventory? Wouldn’t and why not the widow just get everything?? Here is her answer: 

 In order to disperse the estate to the heirs, you have to know what's there. Part of that is anything owed the estate (anything the deceased lent--money or otherwise) or any outstanding bills the deceased owed themselves. They collect what is owed.  So the bills are paid first out of what is left of the estate. If things have to be sold to do that, then they are sold. This is especially true when people die without a will--intestate. What is left is then dispersed to the heirs. Most often heirs of those who die intestate aren't wealthy and there are enough of them (often enough) that everything sellable is sold, pooled and divided by the number of heirs, given as cash.

When people die with a will, the will sets out what heirs get. Wills are most common when there is real property and larger items. With a will, unless the deceased was in debt, you often don't know what is in the estate. They will say the wife can have use of what is left after debts are paid for the rest of her life, or the other--she can have what she brought to the marriage, meaning she basically gets nothing from his estate only what she brought in. Then after the wife dies, typically one of the kids gets the rest of the estate.

I've not seen where the widow's items are sold. If it is his estate, all those things of hers are really his. Then, if he was in debt when he died, they will sell all they can to pay the debt, even things the widow would need. Unless she can prove some items she brought with her to the marriage (dowry), but then again, depending on the time and laws, once they marry, all of her things are his. There probably are exceptions for the last couple hundred years, but not many.

Friday, October 16, 2020

WPA & CCC October Workshop Handout.... in case you missed it.


Forging Ahead: The WPA & The CCC

By Donna Potter Phillips,, please do not use without permission.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on 6 May 1933, signed into law the Works Progress Administration (WPA). FDR was elected president because he had a plan to bring America out of the Great Depression. His 3-part plan called for relief, recovery and reform, and he was willing to commit federal dollars to achieve this plan for America. The goal of the WPA was to employ most of the unemployed people until the economy recovered. The WPA put men to work building airports, dams, highways, roads, bridges, schools, courthouses, hospitals, post offices, museums, community centers and swimming pools, playgrounds, zoos and much more. By June, 1941, the government had spent $11,000,000 on projects which would be $186 billion today.

Besides all those building projects, the WPA created programs of employment for those involved in the arts, education, historians, archeologists, geologists and researchers. The “best thing” for genealogists to come from the WPA was the compiled inventories of manuscript collections…. Burial listings in cemeteries, federal and state census indexes, naturalization records indexes, newspaper indexes, inventories of courthouse and church records and compiling historical oral narratives of slaves, immigrants and Native Americans.

Another project of the WPA was the establishment of the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps. This program, operational between 1933-1942, was established to provide employment to unmarried men between the ages of 17-28 and some 2,000,000 men were enrolled. The men were paid $25 per month and all were required to send $20 of that home to their families. The CCC program ended in 1942 as war was needing young American men.

Want to learn more about the WPA/CCC?

***Paula Stuart-Warren offers a 55-minute webinar/video for Ancestry Academy telling the complete story.

***Google the terms adding your state or area. A simple search for “WPA records” yielded 16,100 hits in under a second.

*** The National Archives at St. Louis is where to go for personnel records. (Fill out a form; pay a fee; be patient.)

*** The Minnesota History Center offers tips, databases and helps.

*** Click to Cyndi’s List, then U.S. History: The Great Depression; Works Progress (Projects) Administration-WPA; there you’ll find 15  links to various WPA/CCC records.

*** American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA, by Nick Taylor, 2008, available on Amazon.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

FamilySearch Offers A Pay-It-Forward Project

 I'd bet that most of us use to some extent in our research. Do you realize that a great deal of the data that you search for, find and use from that FREE website comes from data entry from volunteers? Folks just like you and me?

Currently, FamilySearch is asking for volunteer help to fix place-names. This surely does look like a fun and an easy and a worthwhile project. Check it out? 

Friday, October 9, 2020

YouTube Channels for Genealogy

 I follow James Tanner's Genealogy's Star blog (and I do recommend it to you) for he always has good teaching. Few weeks back he did a post about YouTube channels for genealogy. Besides the piece of his blog I snipped and posted here, there are probably hundreds of genealogy or history related channels on YouTube. Go learn something today!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

More On The Mayflower


We've been whining these past few months about being stuck at home. And yet we have our entire house, running water, probably too much food, TV, books and Internet. We might compare our current "journey" to the 66-day voyage of the Mayflower and count ourselves much luckier.

Some 102 passengers spent most of their time in an area 60-feet by 12-feet. Think of this; how big is your living room? Your house? And with your ENTIRE family it still wouldn't be 102 folks. The ship was 100-feet by 25-feet but there was cargo, ship stores, crew quarters, etc. The pilgrims were squeezed into a small area, "a wooden bathtub with masts," one source said. 

Of course they drank beer; each passenger was allotted one gallon per day. The water was buggy, filthy and undrinkable.  Think how much space was needed for all those people for all those days. 

Jerri McCoy, historian for the Washington State chapter of the Society of Mayflower Descendants, shared a super presentation with EWGS for our September program (via ZOOM).  She reminded us that "today, some 35,000,000 people can trace their lineage back to a Mayflower passenger." 

Those were some H-A-R-D-Y people. After the first winter, when 45 of them died, the surviving 57 souls created a legacy beyond belief. At least to me. (I'm a x8 Mayflower descendant.)

Friday, October 2, 2020

EWGS Fall Workshop Is TOMORROW

It might not be too late for you to register and attend our EWGS Fall Workshop. Our ZOOM contract only allows for 100 people to attend. I hope you make it into the virtual audience!