Week #49 – Research LocationWeek 49: Research Location. Which genealogy research location or city brings a smile to your face? What makes this place special to you? What family history treasures does it hold for you? Why should others visit this place?
Well there is two places I really like to research, one is the Spokane Main Library that has the genealogy records, newspapers, genealogy books and of course the Northwest room.
The second place is the Spokane Courthouse, I used to spend a lot of time there, but do not get there much anymore. I used to spend a lot of time in the auditors archives, when I started she had early birth and death records from 1891 to July of 1907 when the state took over, marriage records from 1880 to the present and land records from 1880 to the present. The archives was packed and the space between the shelves was very small and so when the Washington State Archives Eastern Branch opened nearly all the original records were transferred there and today most all of them are online and easily re searchable at home. The largest group not online yet is the land records, but they are all digitized now at the courthouse and slowly appearing online at the digital archives.
The other fun records at the courthouse is the superior court records, criminal and civil records. The civil records include divorces, probates, and adoptions. The only problem is that adoptions are sealed by the courts forever, and it takes a court order to open those records. But divorces and probates are open and the things you find in those records are amazing. I remember years ago being asked to get a probate for a man that died in 1932, he was pretty well off, but no kids. He had given $10,000 to about15 people and all the rest to his wife, and his probate was about 80 pages long since he owned a lot of real estate and they had appraised it twice before closing. Every one of the people that was to receive the $10,000 refused it and gave it back to the wife. I thought this was interesting for people to refuse money in 1932 in the worst part of the depression. A month or so later I was asked to look for the probate for his wife and she had died in 1941. I went to the archives and they found the microfilm with this probate and it took up almost the whole microfilm, 365 pages, and at that time they charged a dollar a page for the copies (it is 50 cents a page today). I did not have 300 dollars with me. Why so many pages? The file included TWO lawsuits. The heirs sued the trustees saying they had appraised the property too low and they did not get a fair share, so they reappraised all the property two more times. The second lawsuit the heirs sued the trustees saying they had to pay too much inheritance tax because the appraisals were too big. The tax they paid I think was about $500 federal and less than $10 to Washington State on an estate of over $300,000.
They are in the process of putting the court records online and so sometime in the future we can access those records at home.