King County WA Court Case Index released!

Guest post by Reiley Kidd


Did you know that SGS has an index to every probate case and divorce record that occurred in King County, Washington from before 1880 through 1980? It’s called the “SGS King County Court Cases Index” or KC3I for short, and it contains over 1.7 million records. Of these, divorces and other end-of marriage cases comprise over 700,000 of the cases, and probate and similar cases account for nearly 300,000 more.

The KC3I was created over a ten year period by a small but resolute group of SGS volunteers, headed by Marilynn Van Hise and Sandie McBride, from over 100 boxes of index cards from the Chicago Title Company, an index of all King County court cases that could potentially affect property rights, and therefore the title to property. In addition to divorce and probate cases, it also includes all King County court cases involving name changes, community property agreements and guardianships. Nearly 80,000 hours of volunteer time went into the creation of the KC3I.

As its name suggests, the KC3I is an index only. It does not contain abstracts or summaries of these cases. A search of this index

  1. informs you if your ancestor is mentioned in one or more cases during this period;
  2. lists the date and a few other details about each case (such as date of marriage or death, wife’s maiden name, etc.), and
  3. provides you with the case number and date of each case.

Once you have the case numbers, you can then obtain the complete case records from the King County Court Clerk’s office.

SGS is adding this unique database to our research offerings, and will charge non-members and professional researchers $5 for each name searched, and $15 more to provide the case numbers for each individual (the Court Clerk’s office charges $30), to help sustain the Society.

For SGS members, the service is free. All you have to do is send the full name, name of spouse and date of death (if known) of the individuals to or complete the KC3I Search request form at our web site (below).

For more details about the KC3I, visit or see the KC3I article in the SGS Fall Bulletin.

Thanks, Reiley for the informaiton.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: worked on three proposals for the Northwest Genealogical conference…I have started thinking about a new lecture on Blogging for Beginners.

KDP Writer’s Block Busted!

Short post so I can get back to my Kinship Determination Project! :-)

I have been spending a fair amount of time researching for my KDP.  One of my ancestors who is a subject in my lineage narrative is famous (in limited circles) and so I have been researching a lot of materials written by and about him.

But, I haven’t been writing much.

So, if that ever happens to you, here is what I did. I gave myself some very achievable, but measurable, goals:

  • I must write 500 words per day–they can be “ugly” but I must write 500 words.
  • I must write a minimum of 3 footnotes.
  • I cannot play my card game (!) until I have written my 500 words.

Five hundred words is not impossible.  I can even knock it out in about 30 minutes as they do not have to be perfect.  I find that if I write just 500, I will often write 1000.

It’s working for me.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  written 500 words per day on my KDP, spoke at the Stillaguamish Genealogical Society on Ostfriesland culture and genealogy, started and completed the SGS newsletter (out now for proofreading/editing), attended a presentation at SGS on genetics and health by my friend, Janice (Nice job, Janice!); started to work on my six proposals for the Northwest Genealogy Conference (held in 13-15 August in Arlington WA).  They are due 31 December. Met with a potential client and sent out a contract/proposal to him.

Book Review: Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact from Fiction in Family Legends

Sustainable GenealogySustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact from Fiction in Family Legends by Richard Hite. Published by  Genealogical Publishing Company; Baltimore, 2013. Forward by Henry Z. Jones. 110 pages. Table of contents, no index, no reference list. 110 pages. $19.98.

Are you related to an Indian Princess?  Since your ancestors have the name Boone you must be related to Daniel, right?

Genealogists are faced with family legends, often times call myths, such as these almost on a daily basis. Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact from Fiction in Family Legends by Richard Hite, State Records Coordinator of the Rhode Island State Archives and Public Records Administration, addresses these challenges.  Using a case study approach, Mr. Hite identifies, analyzes, and resolves a variety of familiar family myths and some common beginner errors that if not corrected would certainly become the myths of the future.

Once past the introduction, each chapter is a different myth type. Mr. Hite explains the  myth, the various forms  the myth takes and presents many examples mostly from his own family about how he addressed the myth and ultimately proved it true or false.  His examples are interesting and are germane to the type of myth being described. The examples provide guidance for the researcher who is trying to resolve a personal, but a similar type of myth.

This book raises the issue of what is a family myth.  Mr Hite includes the usual stories of the Indian Princess, relationship or association to famous persons and kinship with royalty.  Most genealogists would agree these are the classic “family myths.”  Mr. Hite enlarges the definition of “myth” to include:

  1. unproven findings which would become familial myths if left on their own
  2. common genealogical problems which are family specific.

This broader definition raises some questions. Does a story have to be universal in character before it can be considered a myth or can it be family specific? Does the story need to be passed from generation to generation before it is a myth or can it develop in the present or even in future time? How much complexity does a unproven story have to have to warrant being called a “myth” or can there be one premise myths? Mr. Hite defines the  word liberally and broadly.

Mr. Hite concludes his book with an outline of the “myths he avoided by thorough research” but the book stopped too soon. The book would have been improved and more helpful to the reader with the addition of principles by which to resolve their own family myths.  In addition, the use of the current genealogical vocabulary of sources (primary, secondary, authored works), information (primary, secondary, indeterminable) and evidence (direct, indirect and negative) would also have made the  solutions to the case studies clearer by offering greater granularity in the explanations.

While it does not affect the content, the book would have benefited also from the intercession of a layout artist.  The chapter headings are the same font size as the subheading within the chapter causing the reader confusion and clumsy chapter breaks which should have been avoided. Some reviewers have found the type size too small, but I did not see that as a problem.

In preparation for a presentation on “Solving Family Myths Using the Principles of Logic,” I conducted a literature search.  I found much about classic myths with supernatural creatures or individuals with supernatural powers; but I found little about family myths and even less about how to solve them.  This appears to be a large gap given that every family has genealogical myths. When I heard that Sustainable Genealogy was now available in my public library, I immediately checked it out hoping it filled this gap.

Sustainable Genealogy fills a portion of that gap but not completely. I recommend reading the book but would also recommend that you check it out of your library rather than purchasing.

Other resources:

Marian Pierre-Louis interviews Richard Hite on her radiocast Fieldstone Common at :

Kentucky Ancestors online blog reviews the book:

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  I attended and presented at the 2014 Family History Fair in Bellevue WA.  I presented three lectures but also was able to attend Janice Lovelace’s presentation on resources found in County Courthouses. Good job, Janice!  I also attended Mary Katharine Kozy’s presentation on autosomal DNA.  I passed out my marketing materials (lecturing) to a variety of organizations exhibiting at the Fair. Fun day! Thanks to Mark Hoover and the entire team in Bellevue for another great event.


My Escapades with the Elephant!

evernote logoI am now a believer!  I have drunk the Kool-aid.  I am now officially in the 12 step Evernote program!

Here is how I became addicted.  Similar to many, my habit began slowly.

Phase I:

Everyone kept telling me how wonderful Evernote is.  For me, it seemed like Scrivener and Evernote did the same thing; I went with Scrivener.  I downloaded Scrivener for the 30 day trial.  I used it about 5 times.  I haven’t opened it since.

I decided to try Evernote.  I downloaded it and opened it.  Felt it was similar to Scrivener without the writing link.  I set up a couple of note books, didn’t think it did any more than I already had going for me.  I used it about 5 times. Closed it up.

In the meantime:  I went “on the clock” and started work on some of the portfolio items.

Phase 2:

Everyone continued to tell me how wonderful Evernote was and that it deserved a second chance.  Yeah, right.  I procrastinated but in an idle moment I loaded some additional documents into my notebooks. I  tagged them but it just seemed like so much fussiness.  I did, however, see some advantages.  I liked the tagging but the notebooks seemed to get in the way.  I attended a seminar where Lisa Louise Cooke was the speaker (Autumn Seminar in Sumner) She raved about Evernote for just about everything. I talked to my friend and fellow attendee, Dawn, who is also a rabid Evernote fan and she suggested that I abandon the notebooks and just use tags. She has over 6000 notes and just a few notebooks.

Revelation! Freedom!  Freedom from notebooks!

In the meantime:  I started the KDP and noticed I was having trouble keeping track of all the new information I was gathering.

Phase 3:

Everyone continued to tell me how wonderful Evernote is and so I give it a third chance. (My old boyfriends didn’t get this many opportunities!)

I am now using Evernote for the collection of all the odd bits of information related to the KDP. It is terrific. I record all the items I need to collect when I go to SLC in January.  I store emails I send to historical societies asking for information.  I have a professional genealogist helping me in Germany and her findings are posted there.  It is a godsend for the writing of any project where there are disparate bits of information. And a KDP certainly qualifies!

In the meantime: I have listened to Judy Russell’s BCG webinar on writing the KDP and am inspired to work on it but have not made much progress.  But I know, deep in my heart, that I have not lost any little bit of information because Evernote is keeping it safe for me.

Thanks Dawn for encouraging me to keep trying.  I get it!  I get it now.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: attended the Sumner WA Autumn conference with Lisa Louise Cooke  as primary speaker (Way to go, Lisa)!  Finished up a client report (They are a lot of fun.); attended an APG-Puget Sound meeting (lots of terrific speakers are coming to Washington in 2015–it will be a banner year.) I worked on my KDP and made some decisions based on Judy’s seminar.  Thanks, Judy.  (it is not yet posted on the BCG website.)

The cute elephant and great logo is a licensed trademark of Evernote.

Aw, shucks….I’m an award winner!

One Lovely blog award

Woo hoo! Zola, my friend and fellow ProGen cohort member, recently awarded me the “One Lovely Blog Award”  This is awarded by a fellow blogger of blogs they admire.  Thank you, Zola.

Here are the rules as offered by Zola which came from Charley which came from….who begat…who begat….

1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Name fifteen bloggers you admire (or as many as you can think of).
4. Contact those bloggers and let them know you’ve tagged them for the One Lovely Blog award.

Here are seven things about myself:

  1. I am an architect and work for the University of Washington School of Medicine as their Director of Facilities
  2. I have lived in Iowa (born, raised and educated), Oklahoma, Colorado, Florida, Ohio and now Washington.
  3. Hubby is an engineer and now plant manager for an asphalt products company.
  4. We have one daughter who lives and works in Boston.
  5. Whenever I am asked to play the icebreaker game of  “tell us something about yourself that no one else knows,” I share that I spent one high school summer at Physics Camp.  Actually Mary, a follower on this blog, may know that.
  6. I started doing genealogy when Alex Haley brought us “Roots”.  It was a national phenomenon.
  7. I continued doing genealogy because I didn’t want to lose the women.  Some genealogists are so focused on their surname—it seems to me an insult to the rest of the family tree, especially the women. Of course, 100% of my family was from regions with patronymic naming patterns and so, other than Bode (mother’s side), I do not have a “surname’ that is older than 150 years old.

Fifteen blogs I admire:

I would like to award “One Lovely Blog Award” to these blogs which I read upon arrival. Shout outs go to  the following blogsl:

Judy Russell’s “The Legal Genealogist”.

Zola Noble’s “Rambling Roots,” (turnabout’s fair play)

Yvette Hoitink’s “Dutch Genealogy”: Yvette and I may be related! It’s more of a website with a weekly newsletter but it counts.

Genealogy in Time’s online magazine. Here is the link to their article on plagiarism.

Angela McGhie’s “Adventures in Genealogy Education.”  She makes sure I don’t miss any great conferences or other educational opportunities.

Thanks, Zola.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting….worked on about 4 other posts.

Selection of the Familial line for the KDP

bode Fam3I have struggled with the selection of the familial line for the Kinship Determination Project (KDP) for my certification portfolio.  Only recently I have come to a final conclusion and I thought I would share my thought process.

Step 1: selected my proof topic

I do not have a lot of complicated proofs; most lend themselves to proof summaries.  I do not have ancestors that were in this country before 1850 (the “tick mark censuses) and the village of origin was pretty clearly stated by all immigrants during their lifetime and it was corroborated by direct evidence in the original parish records.  Few (almost none) screwed up their birth dates or divorced and changed their names etc.  I have a few “problems” that fall outside that norm so I selected one of just the few.  It is in my Swedish side of the family.  This eliminated this line for consideration in other items for the portfolio due to the requirement that there be familial no overlap.

Step 2: selected the KDP lineage

This was more difficult.  I had many choices but none seemed to be a story I wanted to tell.  I listened to Judy Russell’s BCG presentation on KDPs (not yet online) and was inspired to look for the story.  Then serendipity stepped in.  While flying back from a business trip, I read the assigned article for the NGSQ study group for October.  I finished that article  and idly went on to read the next.  About half way through that article I realized that the organization of article was similar to one I could use for my KDP.  The organization was so clear and carefully laid out, I got very excited.  It followed an immigrant to the United States with two additional generations. Since my family entered the US starting in the mid-1800s, any three generation study almost had to include an immigrant.

I pulled out my computer (not easy with the leg room you have on an airplane these days) and wrote out the outline in generic form.  Then, using the generic outline, I outlined each familial line that I could use for the KDP.  I laid out four options; two were quickly deleted from consideration. Two remained. I developed each a little more and decided on my mother’s paternal line from the immigrant forward.  That lineage seemed to layout easier and better than the others. It was also one I could get excited about writing.  I had already decided to do a descending genealogical summary because the layout of the summary seems easier for me to understand.  I get lost with the ascending type.

Step 3: select the document for transcription

Now you can select the document for transcription.  I had tried to select this first and had a couple of documents transcribed.  I just combed through my exhibits and picked one where I had not used that family line for other work.  That was the one I used.

Step 4: start identifying gaps

The three generation KDP was going to involve a grand-uncle who I had done some work on but not enough.  He is rather famous and so I started looking for his papers which I found in Special Collections all over the Midwest.  Fun!  I now feel I have a good plan with few gaps.  The Case Study (proof argument) is also missing some information which I hope to gather at SLC when I go in January.

So that’s what I did.  Your path will differ because your parameters are different.  Nevertheless, a plan going forward is a great relief. I also would love to get started writing but a few other things are intervening.  I can tell I need to prioritize my portfolio which I am not doing a very good job at…..yet.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  The month I publish the SGS Bulletin is always one with few postings.  I just cannot get that much done and still get paid in my day job!  The Bulletin is now to the mailing service and I am very proud of it–we themed it on the Ethnic Communities of the Northwest.  Five writers wrote on Native Americans, African Americans, Nordic, Japanese and Chinese.  Starting on 8 November, I am speaking 3x at the Washington Family History Fair 2014, SGS (the 9th), the University of Washington Retirees Association (the 10th) and to the Stillaquamish Genealogical Society (the 11th).  Whew!– I am totally psyched!  This will be so much fun. (all that speaking in high school speech contests is paying off!)  I checked out a book called Sustainable Genealogy: Solving your Family Myths and Legends by Hite.  I will be writing a book review on it for this blog so stay tuned. (one of my presentations this coming weekend is on “Solving Family Myths Using the Principles of Logic.”  Thanks to Jean Wilcox Hibben CG for her wise counsel on that one.

I am also starting to book lectures for next winter and spring.  If anyone wants to talk to me about lecturing, let me know…..I would be excited about talking to your group!

A Year in the Life of Jens Dahle: 8 October 1864

In previous blogs, I tracked Jens Dahle’s experiences 150 years ago as he participated in the Civil War, fighting for the 2nd Minnesota under 1st Lt. Mahlan Black.

The Confederates captured Jens at Ream’s Station, a minor skirmish, on the 25th of August and took him to Libby Prison in Richmond (Virginia) for intake on 27 of August.  Shortly after that he was moved to Belle Island, now called Belle Isle, which overlooks the city.

From this point forward the record of the experiences of Jens are scant except for the existence and publication of a diary of James Eberhart, a soldier whose capture, Belle Island and Salisbury Prison experiences are contemporary with Jens Dahles’.  [1]

33n1On 8 October 1864, Jens, James and a thousand or more other prisoners were loaded unto a rail car and hauled to Salisbury, North Carolina.  He may have been one of the lucky ones who rode inside but if not, he rode on top of the car exposed to the unseasonably cold Fall in the South.

“Sat Oct 8–About 11 am we marched back to the Depot & shipped to Salisbury.  We got on top of Cars..We were nearly frozen having been on top of the Cars 7 hours…Our ration is all gone.  So nothing to eat tonight. I found some wheat in the Cars and parched it & made coffee out of it. And laid down.” — James Eberhart

James was of stronger constitution than Jens who had already been confined to a hospital for 7 months due to dysentery or other sanitary condition related disease.  James, a sergeant in Co. G, of the 8th Pennsylvania RES felt responsible for his men and worked to keep his own physical condition strong and garner rations as they were available to assist his men.  He kept his physical condition strong through exercise and constantly taking quinine when it was available even when not outwardly sick.

Like Belle Island, Salisbury was considered a stockade type of prison.  While there were structures within the fence, these facilities were reserved for officers, Confederate soldiers who abandoned their posts, and criminals.  Other buildings were used for food preparation and the hospital.  This prison was well served by the rail line as seen on the right of the bird-eye-view (see photo on left)  Today only a small garrison remains of the facility, seen to the right of the rail line. [2]

The common soldier, including Jens and James Eberhart were left to their own ingenuity in the open area.  It was common that one or more would dig a small cave in the ground to share and in which to sleep at night.  Water was provided by wells which quickly became contaminated.  There may, at times have been a stream as well.  Food was served out of the cookhouse connected to the large multistory building. [2]

Here Jens would stay to the end of the war.  The experiences of James, to the extent they could have been experienced by Jens, will be relayed going forward.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: I have worked on a number of presentations for the upcoming speaking engagements.  I am ready for the all day-er at Whatcom County, and I am starting to work on the presentations for the LDS Family History conference in early November.  the weather has been marvelous here in Seattle and so I also caught a little sunshine today.

[1] Florence C. McLaughlin, editor, “Diary of Salisbury Prison by James Eberhart,” The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, July 1973.
[2] “History: Salisbury Confederate Prison,” Salisbury, North Carolina, online database: