Friday, July 31, 2009

How Not to Survive a Hurricane

Stephen Hopkins was probably the young man of that name who served as minister's clerk on the vessel Sea Venture which sailed from London 2 June 1609, bound for Virginia. The Ship was severely damaged in a hurricane, and the company was washed ashore on the Bermuda "Isle of Divels" on 28 July. The 150 survivors were marooned on the island for nine months, building two vessels which ultimately took them to Virginia. During the sojourn Stephen Hopkins encouraged an uprising by his fellows upon the grounds that the Governor's authority pertained only to the voyage and the regime in Virginia, not to the forced existence on Bermuda. For his remarks he was placed under guard, brought before the company in manacles and sentenced to death by court-martial. "But so penitent he was and made so much moane, alleging the ruine of his Wife and Children in this his trespasse," according to William Strachey's record of the voyage, that friends among his cohorts procured a pardon from the Governor. The two newly built vessels, the Patience and the Deliverance, arrived at Jamestown on 24 May 1610, but no evidence has been found of Hopkins' residence there, and it is presumed he soon returned to his family in England. When he returned to England he found his wife had died, and so he remarried and took his family with him on another ship to the new world; the Mayflower. Stephen must have stayed a while in Virginia for he knew how to communicate with the Indians and he appears regularly in the court records of Plymouth. (He got drunk on fairly often and was arrested for being drunk.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Tips

I think a lot of people are reluctant to search courthouse records as they have had a bad experience at the courthouse, I know I did, the first time on jury duty was a real bad experience, but that was a long time ago and I will tell about it later.
The county clerk has the records of the courts. Washington has District Courts and Superior Courts in each county, District Courts are mainly for misdemeanors and they only keep records for a few years so probably not much help to genealogists. Superior Courts are the court of record for Washington. Seems like I have heard that phrase before, oh right in naturalization's, before 1906 people filed their naturalization's at any court of record. So what records does the clerk have? Criminal and civil court cases, criminal is self explanatory and if you find your ancestor here you usually have hit the jackpot, they keep a lot of records for criminal cases. Civil cases are all the non criminal cases, divorces, law suits, adoptions, guardianship's, and probates. Adoptions in Washington are sealed forever, takes a court order to open them, and genealogical research will not be enough to convince a judge to open them. Adoptions cause a problem for Spokane County and I suspect all the other counties in Washington also. Spokane county filmed all the civil cases together early on, later they did separate out adoptions and film them separately, so each early roll of microfilm can contain an adoption record. All the other types of civil records on the microfilm are open to the public, so they guard the film pretty well to make sure you do not wander into a protected section of the microfilm. Most people don't think there were a lot of divorces early on, but they would be surprised when they check the films and see how may there are on microfilm. Tip for Spokane county, a lot of people went to Lincoln county for divorces, so if you do not find the divorce in the county they lived in check for a "divorce county nearby". Also a lot of divorced ladies would list themselves as a widow not a divorcee. I have only looked up one guardianship, but it had a bunch of information on the children. Both parents had died, and while they were not wealthy they owned quite a bit of land, the court sold the land and put the money in trust for the children, and every year till the children were 18 the guardian reported how much money had been spent on their care, and when they reached 18 the rest of the money was given to the children. Probates are always interesting and you should always try to find your ancestors probate package. The conventional wisdom is to have a copy made of all the pages in the probate package, but I have a small problem with that sometimes. Each day when the court started they put a page with the date and the name of the judge and the case number, so if they were in court a week you get five of those pages with nothing of genealogical value. When I first started doing courthouse look ups they charged $2 for the first page and then a dollar a page after that. I once looked up a probate that was 365 pages long, so even 5 pages that are unnecessary saves a little. Today they charge 50 cents a page for copies, but that can still add up quickly. You can look at the pages for free. Spokane county has the court records back to 1880, but my experience with the earlier records is the microfilm is very poor, so hard to get a copy. Also the indexes are on microfilm and the early years are very hard to read. Today all the records are being kept on computer and some of them are even showing up online.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday Night Fun

I do genealogy research for Eastern Washington Genealogical Society and one day I was looking up an obit in the newspaper microfilm in the library. I was getting close to the correct date so I stopped to see how many more days till the death date. On the page I stopped on was a headline "Ella Murphy To Wed", Ella Murphy was mom's Maid of Honor at my moms wedding and her husband Pete was pops best man. Right below this article was another article about a business man having his employees at his lake cabin on Liberty Lake. My mom, dad and grandmother were listed in that article and this was a year or two before they got married, so I guess my grandma was the chaperon. My dad was still alive when I found the article and he did not remember going there at all.

Volunteer Recognition Luncheon

Friday morning started early, as I was heading for Yakima Washington to the Secretary of State Sam Reed's Volunteer Recognition Luncheon for the Historical Records Project and the Legacy Project at the Yakima Valley Museum. Jeannie Coe and her husband asked me if I wanted to car pool with them and I said yes. The museum is in a park with a swimming pool, so it was good we got there before the pool opened, the parking lot was full before we finished as was the pool. We all got a tour of the museum and I got a great picture of an apple box advertisement that says Ralph's Apples. My uncle Ralph raised apples in Cashmere Washington and I never knew he had his own brand of apples. After the tour we went to the ball room for the Welcome by John Hughes, the Chief Historian of the Legacy Project. John was a newspaperman and so his job of interviewing people that are important to Washington is a natural for him. They were supposed to interview elected officials but have expanded to other people important to history like the first woman in space Bonnie Dunbar who grew up on a farm in Eastern Washington and still a resident of Washington. (Bonnie's interview will be there soon they said.) Next Sam Reed started presenting the Certificate of Appreciation to the volunteers, both Jeannie Coe and I got one (I have five or six of these already), and we accepted the one for Eastern Washington Genealogical Society also. At the end they had two special awards, one for exceptional service at the State Library, but I did not copy down that gentleman's name. The second one was to Margaret Rail or Maggie as she is know to a lot of people from Spokane. She is an editor on and also has personally read about 400 cemeteries in Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho and even a few in Western Montana. She had some health problems last year and is giving all her Washington files to the Digital Archives. Then we had a good free lunch topped off by strawberry shortcake (great fresh strawberries). After lunch they demonstrated the new Digital Archives Web Indexing Tool it brings up an image of the item to be indexed (they demonstrated a King County Marriage Certificate) and right next to it the template listing the fields to be filled in. The software allows you to zoom in to any part of the image so you can see the writing better, when done save it and go on to the next image. Presently we receive a spreadsheet in the mail index it and send the file back, so this will be a lot quicker and many people can be working on the same project at the same time. They are NOT going to stop the spreadsheet program, but just add the new program to hopefully get new volunteers. Sam then made a talk about the progress of the new state library and due to the downturn of the economy it has been delayed for about a year. He also announced he was at a national conference of Secretaries of State and 15 states have signed on to make the Digital Archives at Cheney Washington their digital archives also. (Maggie may get a place for her Idaho cemetery records.) The end was the door prizes, they had brought about a dozen pictures from the Legacy Project and the Washington State Fruit Commission donated about 25 big fruit baskets, so nearly every one there got a door prize. I got a picture of a steam tug on Puget Sound, but was hoping for a fruit basket. Jeannie and her husband missed one by one number.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday Tips

I know I was kind of intimidated by the thought of courthouse research, but it is just like most other types of research, and you need to do your homework to find out what records are at the courthouse and which office holds the records you are looking for. Now all the comments from here on will be about the Spokane County Courthouse, but should be similar to other courthouses in Washington.
There are two main record keepers in the Spokane Courthouse, the county clerk, and he has all the Superior Court records from 1880 to the present. I will tell more on that next week.
The other record keeper is the county auditor, she has all the marriage and land records from 1880 to the present. When I first started doing research for EWGS, Ray Fisher the previous researcher showed me around the courthouse. The auditor then had two very large vaults, one just west of the present auditors office, and a much larger one down the hall on the north side of the hall. The one near the auditors office had marriage records, and early birth and death records for Spokane county. The county started collecting birth and death records in 1891 and quit in 1907 when the state of Washington took over recording births and deaths. There were also some books labeled WWI discharge papers. The troops were requested to file copies of their discharge papers with the auditor. The bigger vault had land records, and storage for old furniture, and even some early coroners records. A few years ago the county needed space for a new courtroom, and the room in the southwest corner of the second floor was empty, so they remodeled it for a courtroom, and it took nearly half of the vault close to the auditors office, so all the records there were moved to the larger vault down the hall, except for the microfilms and readers and a couple of other desks. About this time the new city of Spokane Valley was incorporated and the county lost about a third of their income. While that seems harsh the county also lost about a third of the work many departments were doing previously, but neither the auditor nor the county clerk lost any work. Soon after that I got a note at the library from the auditor looking for someone to help genealogists with look ups at the auditors office. The very next Monday I was on jury duty so I stopped at the auditors office before I became a juror (again) and told them I would be willing to do those look ups. The next fun thing that happened was the Eastern Washington State Archives (includes the digital archives) at Cheney. Records from the stuffed vault at the courthouse were moved to Cheney, all that were moved had been filmed and copies in the small vault next to the auditors office. The land records had not been filmed so they stayed in the vault. The marriage records had been filmed but not the indexes, so volunteers at Cheney indexed them an that index is online at the digital archives, and today most of the marriage records are online also. My only beef with those online records is the early 1930s, they did not put the best record online, but it is in the archives and on film at the courthouse. The better marriage certificate lists the age and occupation of bride and groom, where born, and the parents and where parents born, if known, some just say unknown. The marriage certificate online is the fancy one you get at marriage with the names of the bride, groom, minister and witnesses. Later on in the 1930s they stopped doing this better marriage certificate, so what is online then is about the best you can find. I was rather shocked when I went in the vault a couple of weeks ago, the vault is nearly empty, they do still have the deed books, and some of the grantor-grantee indexes, and even the shelves they used to have are gone. The title companies were supposed to be copying the land records to digital format, so I guess they are well along doing that.
So what records are still in the auditors office? They still have all the microfilms of marriages, early births and deaths. Originals at Cheney. The deeds are there, but without the indexes they are not much help now. I have noticed land records showing up on the digital archives, so hopefully soon genealogists will not need to go to the Spokane courthouse for records, they will be online.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Washington State Library Blog

The Washington State Library has merged its five library program blogs into one big blog dedicated to everything libraries: books (of course), tips for librarians, the latest and greatest in library development, technology buzz, news for library users, and more.

We have contributing library staffers from our library branches in state prisons, Library Development and Public Services team, Research and Development crew and the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library.
It’s a great way to keep up-to-date for librarians, educators and those who just love reading and research.

Get hooked at Washington State Library Blog

This announcement is from the Secretary of State's blog. The Washington State Library is under the Secretary of State.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Night Fun

Well I Googled myself Charles M. Hansen Spokane; 21,100 hits but only the first 25 or so on me, mostly all from work. A few on genealogy, no images, clicking on news brought up sports (wrong Charles Hansen)

Surprise: one article was from the Spokane County Elections and Charles M. Hansen won a PCO election for precinct 9010 in the August 19, 2008 election.
I did not have a clue what a PCO was, so Google found it is Precinct Committee Officer, and the election is for two years. Guess this is the wrong Charles also.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Maternal Line

While I did not know much of my paternal line my maternal grandmother lived till I was 36 and she tried to get me to remember all her brothers and sisters (she was the second oldest of 17 children, two mothers and one father). I asked her once before I got interested in genealogy if all the relatives on her side were Irish? She said yes. I knew my grandfather was Irish as his surname was Kelly, grandmas was Travis and also Irish, but soon I found Forsyth, Williams and Hert on my grandfathers ancestors. Forsyth is Scottish, Williams is Welsh, and I don't know what Hert is. Grandmas mother was a Vanderpool, and her step mother was a Keith (Irish) and then that line contains Low(e), Campbell, Swope (Schwab), and Brannam. Vanderpool is Dutch, Swope (Schwab) is German, so on that side I have a bunch of nationalities to research, but I am a long way from crossing the pond except on the Forsyth line (found the Clan Forsyth and they confirmed my line back to Northern Ireland, it did come from Scotland but very early and few records to prove when). My grandfathers line was pretty easy as soon as I found the "Kelly" Bible my grandfather had. It took the Williams line back to before the Revolution in Virginia-North Carolina.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How I spend my Summer Vacation

When I was about six years old my parents bought some lake front property on Twin Lakes in North Idaho. It had been a hayfield for a dairy farm and along the lake was a row of cottonwood trees. It is nearly flat and had a water line along the road, but no electricity or sewer. We built a small cabin and mowed the grass, planted trees and went swimming, fishing, water skiing and just floating on the lake in an inner tube. Later on the REA came by and added electricity, so no more ice box. The picture below is how the property looked north of the cabin in 1970. The brown grass at the back was still cut each fall for hay. The farmer showed up with three horses and a mower and a rake and would cut the hay and rake it into rows to dry, later a baler came and bailed the hay.

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Since then we have added on to the cabin and added a garage. Still like to lounge on my inner tube in the warm lake. (The water was 76 last week, and usually makes 80 by the end of July.) The picture below is the Fourth of July boat parade on the lake, and looking south from our cabin.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

My Paternal Line

When we had the Hansen Reunion in 1991 I knew next to nothing about my grandparents, but when we sent out invitations to the reunion, one second cousin who volunteered at a Family History Center sent us some group sheets she had on our family and some blank group sheets to send with the reunion packets. We sent them out and received 350 group sheets back, many were duplicates but I neglected to record who sent which group sheet, so while I have all 350 group sheets I do not have a source for the first 500 or so names in my genealogical database. Now I made a second blunder, I typed all the data from these group sheets into a program called the Enhanced Family Tree and printed out a book for everyone that came to the reunion and several that just ordered the book. The blunder was that the Enhanced Family Tree did not have GEDCOM. So later I got to retype all that data into a program that did have GEDCOM.
My Grandfather Anton Mikkel Hansen was born in Denmark the third son of Hans Mikkelsen and Karen Jorgensen. Anton and four of his brothers, Peter, John, Martin and Lawrence all came to the USA and settled in Austin, Minnesota. Except for John Hansen all came just before their 17th birthday. John had joined the merchant marine in Denmark and came after his service there. Four of the five Hansen brothers never left Minnesota, only my grandfather Anton left Minnesota and moved to Montana. My uncle said they moved to Montana because it was warmer.
Anton married Anna M. Dillingham daughter of Stanislaus Potoski Dillingham and Eliza Minerva Hellenbolt. The Dillingham's came to New England on the second Mayflower, and I found out a lot on the Dillingham's from the Book The Dillinghams of New England, and it looks like I will find a Mayflower ancestor, George Soule, and a Revolutionary War ancestor Enos Chandler, still have just circumstantial evidence on both of those ancestors. I also found out Anna had an aunt living in Montana before they moved from Minnesota so I think this is the reason they moved not because it was warmer.
You might have noticed part of my Blog name Mikkel and it comes from my grandfather Anton Mikkel Hansen, his father Hans MIKKELsen, and his father Mikkel Madsen, and my middle name Michael is the American version of Mikkel.

My first post

I have always had a problem writing, wish I had applied myself more in English classes in school. Computers have helped a lot as spelling has always been a problem with me, so I really love spell checkers. I started with computers in the mid 1980s, and did not get interested in genealogy till 1991 after a Hansen reunion at my sisters house. I spent a lot of time at the local Family History Center, our local library and joined the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society. Late in 1991 one of the members was passing out Prodigy disks and since I had just bought a new 2400 baud modem I joined Prodigy and found the genealogy forum. I spent a lot of time reading the posts and copied the weekly newsletter, soon I was indexing those newsletters so I could find them and posting copies of those that people had missed. Later I was asked to be a special contributor and a year later a member representative. As a mem rep I helped people where I could and hosted a chat session every other Tuesday. I stayed with Prodigy till it closed and have a lot of great memories of Prodigy and the people I met there. Occasionally I would do a look up for someone when they posted a query about Spokane, kind of like Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness which came much later. With this knowledge I applied in 1998 to be the researcher for Eastern Washington Genealogical Society since the previous researcher was retiring due to poor health, and I am still doing that job, but it has really changed over they years.


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