September 2021 – I met with the NeWGS (Northeast WA Gen Soc) this month as they marked their 40th anniversary. The group of 20 met in the city park for cupcakes and ice cream and for President Susan Dechant to share the history of NeWGS. (Susan has been president for 23 of the 40 years the group has been in existence; that’s dedication. Treasurer Sue Witham has been treasurer for 25 years!!)
The group was organized in 1981 when Susan placed an ad in the Colville paper; ten budding genealogists came. NeWGS was formally organized in Sept 1981. In 1985 they began publishing Pioneer Branches which finally ceased publication in 2016. The years 1981 through 2016 saw the group hosting several national speakers (Heritage Quest Roadshow, Evertons, Dollarhide, Schweitzer, Bremer) and publishing many volumes of local records. They were an active and eager group!
As Susan sat on a picnic table and told the NeWGS story, many of those named in the narrative were present…. So many in that group became active and have stayed so.
NeWGS is the legal custodian of Evergreen Cemetery there in Colville. The group has spent hours sprucing the grounds and making headstones where ones are missing. (Member Lora Rose is a cement expert J )
The group’s website was launched in Dec 1999; they began a page on Facebook in 2015. Their last in-person meeting was Mar 2020 (thank you COVID) but meetings have continued via ZOOM. Susan reported that by Oct 2020 the group had 491,000 entries in various local databases and the group intends to keep finding and adding more.
Susan ended the anniversary party by saying, “We’ve been a busy bunch for 40 years. We accomplished lots of good stuff. And we’re still having fun! But hasn’t our way of researching changed in these past 40 years,” a truism we all applauded along with a standing ovation for Susan’s nearly three decades of leadership of the Northeast Washington Genealogical Society.