Sunday, June 26, 2016

Selecting Records to Research, Part 2

By TCGS Member, Connie Estep

John Covey taught the June genealogy class continuing the subject of record selection. He
John Covey practicing what he teaches
started the class with “guessing games”, discussing the need for educated guesses as to places, dates, and name variations. He also talked about the advantages of learning the history and geography of areas people lived, especially as these can affect why they moved.  He provided a four page handout to accompany his talk. The handout is available on the TriCity Genealogical Society website under the Education tab, or by clicking here.

Selection criteria for choosing a record includes content (does it have the kind of information you are looking for), location and time period. Remember location boundaries can change (as did our own Benton County). Learning about the history of an area can save research time in cases of jurisdiction changes. Access can be another issue, so check to make sure you are allowed to visit the repository and can get copies of records. Reading records can be a problem when there are language differences or hard to read handwritten documents. Another challenge can be a very common family name; knowing at least a given name, and hopefully a middle name will help. The more you know about the person, the easier the research. John also recommends following hunches in choosing records.

John discussed research logs in detail. The most important reason for keeping research logs is that they provide a place to cite data sources. They can also help with search organization to know what has and has not been found. I often have periods of time between research sessions and find it easy to forget what I’ve done and what the next step is. This can solve that problem. He covered specific elements to record and a FamilySearch web address for a blank log. This blank Research Log can be filled out and printed from your computer. It can also be printed out blank and entries can be made by hand while researching.

 The next class in this series is September 14; we will learn about the Soundex system from Susan Davis Faulkner. Classes will continue through December before monthly TCGS general meetings from 6:15-6:45 p.m. This class was attended by 22 people.

Friday, June 17, 2016

County and State Records

By TCGS Member, Connie Estep

Brenda Chilton, Benton County Auditor, provided a wealth of information about public records at our meeting this month. The more current records may be seen electronically at the Auditor’s Annex in the Richland Fred Meyers complex, and in the Kennewick Annex at 5600 W. Canal. The full range of records is available at the Benton County Courthouse in Prosser.

A list of the types of records available with their date ranges can be found at Computerized records are available electronically and in hard copy from 2000 to present at the Clerk’s Office in Prosser and Kennewick. Additionally the records in the table below (copied from this same website) are available in original format, microfilm or as electronic images at the Clerk’s Office in the Benton County Courthouse in Prosser.

The above website directs people to the Washington Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics for birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates. The hot link to this site does not work, but if you cut and paste the department name into Google it will find the correct site. This is not a searchable site. You may order certificates (you provide full details) and you may also order a record search for $8 each. Their search range for births and deaths is July 1907 to the present. The search range for marriages and divorces is 1968 to present; for earlier records they direct you to local county records.

Record indexes and images are digitized from 1984 to present and marriage licenses from 1970 to present. These are searchable at the Benton County Auditor website Go to the Recording tab and click on “Recorded Documents Online”. You may search all record types or specify a record type. I poked around a bit with this search form and most of the records I found when searching “all record types” were land transactions. Land transactions do seem to happen more frequently in a lifetime than births, deaths, and marriages!

Pre-1984 indexes and images are available in Prosser on microfilm. You don’t need appointments for searching records in Prosser or Kennewick. They have terminals set up for people to use.
This table shows the dates for available records in Benton County. The county was formed March 8, 1905 from parts of Yakima and Klickitat County. If you need records earlier than that date, search records from those two counties.

Brenda also discussed other public record sources. Washington State Archives has a death records index from 1907-2000 and prison records. The nearest state archives regional office is in Ellensburg. A website about their holdings and how to contact them can be found at Be sure to call for an appointment before traveling. Washington was the first state to have a digital archives. It is located in Cheney.

Brenda gave a good overview of records available in Benton County. Research in other counties will most likely have some differences. If you plan to travel to other counties it’s best to do as much research as possible to know what to expect before you arrive and try to set up appointments!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Patriotic Heritage Booth at River of Fire Festival

Patriotic Heritage Booth at River of Fire Festival
Columbia Park, Kennewick, Washington
July 4, 2016

Kieth Deaton,
as Abraham Lincoln 
This Independence Day celebrate our nation’s freedom while celebrating your family history. All of us have origins tied to the history of the United States. To help you discover your family’s history visit the Patriotic Heritage Booth at the River of Fire Festival.

The Patriotic Heritage Booth is a unique combination of members from the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sons of the American Revolution, and the TriCity Genealogical Society. Various members of all of these organizations will join together for one day at Columbia Park while celebrating Independence Day. There will be many of them dressed in Revolutionary War era costumes. Come by the booth for selfies with these historical characters. The Patriotic Heritage Booth will sponsor a coloring contest and provide an opportunity for you to write letters to active military personnel. You can also get information on how to find out more about your family history while you visit this booth.

The River of Fire Festival has been helping our community celebrate the Fourth of July for 30 years. The River of Fire Festival is an all-day event held at Columbia Park. Activities begin at noon and include live music, a children’s area, and an assortment of vendors. This relaxing and enjoyable day will conclude with a beautiful display of fireworks from a barge in the Columbia River. The cost is only $8.00 per carload, which makes this an affordable gathering for the entire family.

Schedule highlights include an Opening Ceremony at 4:00 pm at the Columbia Park stage where Abraham Lincoln will be impersonated by Keith Deaton. Flags will be carried by the Sons of the American Revolution. Additional flags honoring our local fallen heroes will also be displayed. Live music by local bands will follow the opening ceremony and will perform until the fireworks celebration.

If you would like more information about the Patriotic Heritage Booth contact Susan Davis Faulkner at 509-554-1050 or

For more information about the River of Fire Festival go to
For more information about the Daughters of the American Revolution go to
For more information about the Sons of the American Revolution go to
For more information about the TriCity Genealogical Society go to