Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wow! Washington State Pioneer Interviews

Old Locomotive Train
My husband's 2nd great-uncle, Harvey Stewart Kirkendall, had moved from Saltsburg, Indiana County, Pennsylvania to Helena, Montana by 1890 and then on to Spokane, Washington by 1894. The Washington State Genealogical Society would consider Harvey a "First Citizen" because he was living there between November 11, 1889 (when Washington became a state) and December 31, 1900.

Somewhat hidden in a FamilySearch collection called Washington, County Records, 1803-2010 are some interviews of early Washington state residents that are extremely interesting to read. While it's saved under Spokane County, "Pioneer Interviews, 1933-1937" also includes people who settled in other counties. It isn't indexed, so you can only browse the 278 images but, if you have ancestors who moved west to live in Washington, it may be worth your time to take a look. The number of interviews isn't very large, but you never know who you may find!

Interview questions included name, birth place, birth date, parents' names, parents' birth places, date he/she came west, reason for coming west, mode of travel, early employment, and names of neighbors. The total questionnaire is three pages, and some individuals also have additional pages with more detailed memories and stories. There are no Kirkendalls included in this project, but here's a brief look at just 10 of those who were interviewed:
  1. Alice M. Bradley Horton - moved from Minnesota to Daisy, Washington in 1890 "on account of my father's health";
  2. Mary Emma Hall Clinton - born in Maine, she moved West in 1883 "to obtain work" and settled 5 miles from Colville in an area called Spanish Prairie; 
  3. David M. Coonc - born in Nebraska, he moved to Daisy in 1902 "on account of the cyclones in the East";
  4. Louisa M. Rivers Damp - born in Canada, she came to Colville with her uncle for a visit in 1881 and felt she was needed, so she stayed and "taught the Indian children school and music";
  5. Robert T. Downey - from Ireland and then Ontario, he moved in 1907 to Rice because he "had been traveling from place to place and heard that Washington was a wonderful place in which to live so decided to go there";
  6. Oliva Ruff Farquhar - born in Iowa, she and her husband moved to Spokane in 1906 "for the betterment of their boy. He wanted to learn the printer's trade and they felt that he would have more opportunity than at the towns in the east";
  7. Charles R. Fish - he was from New York and moved to Kettle Falls in 1889 "for experience and to find work";
  8. Elmer J. Gifford - moved from Michigan to Pullman, Washington in 1884 "just for a different location";
  9. Ben C. Gregory - born in Indiana, he moved in 1890 to Elma as part of the great migration from Kansas; and 
  10. John Hobson - from Iowa and Kansas, he moved to Waterville in 1887 because he "had the 'West fever' for the fresh air and mountain scenery."

This is another example of what you can find by looking at all of the collections on websites like FamilySearch. Focusing on just surname searches could mean that you're missing some records from your ancestors' locations that can only be browsed.

1 comment:

  1. Joanne,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!


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