Skagit River Journal
(Howard Stumpranch) Howard Royal and his family's Birdsview Stump Ranch
of History & Folklore
(bullet) This page originated in our Free Pages (bullet) Covering from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Washington counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish.

(bullet) An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness (bullet) The home pages remain free of any charge. We need donations or subscriptions to continue. (bullet) Please pass on this website link to your family, relatives, friends and clients.
(bullet) Site founded Sept. 1, 2000. Passed 5 million page views, 2011; passed 800 stories in 2012 — Mailing: (bullet) Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284 where Mortimer Cook started a town & named it Bug
(Click to send email)

Skagit Valley Genealogical Society
moves to the head of the class

(Rockport School 1926)
      Rockport School, 1926, photo includes Bernard and Irene Porter of the Tom Porter family of old Illabot Creek. Can you identify any of the others? Photo courtesy of Ted Porter.

      [Update 2012:Skagit Valley Genealogical Society is 25 years old this year, the preliminary meeting held in January 1987. A special celebration is planned for June 23, 2012, from 1-3 p.m. at the Burlington City Library Community Room. Mark your calendars and plan on joining us for this special event.]
      [Update 2010: The Skagit Valley Genealogical Society is holding an Open House at the Burlington Library at 820 East Washington 98233 Burlington, WA on Saturday, March 27, 2010. The event will be held from 1 to 4 pm at the Burlington Hillside room. Tours of the library's extensive Genealogy section will be given. Come join us with your family questions. We can you direct your search nationwide.]

      The Skagit Valley Genealogical Society [SVGS] is without a doubt the most active and helpful genealogical group I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Their genealogy section in the Burlington Public Library, their many publications, their group trips to records centers and their regular meetings have helped hundreds of people trace their roots over the past 30 years.
      At least once a week I consult their extensive wall of books, pamphlets and brochures that is available to everyone at the Burlington library. All the SVGS publications are there, along with the results of research by their volunteers into birth and death records, plus rare genealogical books for Skagit county, the rest of Washington and almost every other state. The publications are a treasure all by themselves. I can remember when SVGS volunteers combed through old newspapers ten years ago at the Courier-Times and scoured city records to provide details for their first indexed cemetery book for Sedro-Woolley. They have followed that up with more county cemetery listings, a pioneer book with death records for folks all over the county, census results, an all-name index for the 1906 Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties and many more great books.
      Dan Royal, along with Hazel Rasar, Kevin Osborne and others, helps organize a terrific website that will lead you to all the SVGS offerings and details about their activities. If you have limits on your time but want to choose one historical group to get involved in, this is the one we suggest. The following is the history of the group, provided by its officers.

History of the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society
    Any time, any amount, please help build our travel and research fund for what promises to be a very busy 2010, traveling to mine resources from California to Washington and maybe beyond. Depth of research determined by the level of aid from readers. And subscriptions to our optional Subscribers Online Magazine (launched 2001) by donation too. Thank you. Thank you.
      The Skagit Valley Genealogical Society officially turned 25 years old on Jan. 1, 2012. Back in 1987 a small group of people decided to form a "new society" in the genealogical community. The roots of the society go much farther back, however. Many of the original members were part of a study group lead by Marjory Johnson. Her interest in the hobby began in the early 1950s.
      Frances Byford believes that the study groups actually started about 1978. There were two groups, one met in the afternoons and the other in the evenings. The afternoon group met at the Mount Vernon City Library. Susan Bos attended the evening group which also met at the library, and this group later moved to Marjory's home.
      The groups offered one-on-one instruction and opportunity to share a hobby. At that time, attendance was small, normally six to eight people. There was sharing of problems, successes, and carpooling to Seattle libraries, archives and other places of research. It was also during this time period that the Church of the Latter Days Saints opened the Family History Center in Mount Vernon, providing access to the many resources of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Marjory also conducted classes at the Mount Vernon senior center and library. She spread her love and knowledge of genealogy to many people in Skagit County.
      Sharon Johnson and Colleen Thulen joined the group in the early 1980s. At this time there was only one group which met at the Mount Vernon City Library in the afternoon on the first Wednesday of each month. These small group meetings continued until the death of Marjory Johnson. This small group wondered what they would do without their leader, but a member of the group for about two years, Betty Fellion, stepped forward to fill the void. She was small in stature, gentle in voice, quiet, and not one you would expect to take over. But she was a champion, saw a need and filled it.
      On November 5, 1986, a meeting was held at the Knotty Pine Restaurant in Mount Vernon. Six members decided to place an article in the newspaper to see if anyone else was interested in forming an area genealogical society. Dolores "Dee" Ackerman and Zelda Stout of the Whatcom Genealogical Society attended this meeting to assist in giving helpful information on what to do towards "Society" formation. Charter members listed in the minutes of that meeting were: Dee Ackerman, Edna Bainter, Dottie Burr, Betty Fellion, Ann Flath, Sharon Johnson, Gen McMullen, John Marian, Carol Oglesbee, Hazel Pilkinton, Colleen Thulen, Nola VanWieringen, Lois Wold and Mary Jo Wolden.
      In January 1987, the first officers were chosen and the bylaws and charter of the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society were drawn. Officers were: Betty Fellion, President; John Marion, Vice-President; Carol Oglesbee, Secretary; and Colleen Thulen, Treasurer. Betty was an encouraging guide for the new organization, and despite health problems she was able to complete her presidential term in May 1988. Membership had increased to 52, by the time of Betty's death that summer. Both Marjory and Betty left genealogical books to the group, thus planting the seeds for our ever expanding library.
      During the following years our membership continued to grow and flourish. Every two years we have managed to find people who have volunteered to fill the positions for the different offices and the positions necessary to maintain a Board of Directors for the Society. Our current membership is in excess of 135 very enthusiastic people. Many are just beginning to do their search for ancestors and others have a great deal of experience. We encourage our experienced members to assist the beginners in getting started in the correct methods of research and documentation of their ancestral families.
      Correction Update: Our Society currently meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month except for July, August and December, at 7 p.m. at the Burlington Community/Senior Center, 1011 Greenleaf, Burlington. Dottie Chandler is President; Barbara Johnson is Vice President, and Hazel Rasar is the past President.

      The Washington State Genealogical Society. honored John Fisher for organizational work; Hazel Rasar for her contribution in records preservation and Dan Royal for his newsletter work with the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society at the WSGS Annual Meeting on Sept 19-20, 2003, in the Tri-Cities area. They were also recognized for their tireless efforts over many years when the general membership meeting was convened on Sept. 25, 2003.

      When studying Skagit county genealogy, we also often consult the rootsweb website of Darilee Bednar, the bookstore lady, who puts many hours into providing dozens of sections that genealogists can learn from. I would also like to personally thank Hazel Rasar, Dan Royal and Diane Partington of SVGS for their help in the past, present and future.

John and Shirlee Fisher retire in 2004 after genealogical generosity
Good-Bye to John and Shirlee Fisher
(Shirlee and John Fisher)
Shirlee and John Fisher

By Hazel Rasar
      I met both John and Shirlee when I first joined the society for a year in 1988-1989. However, I really became acquainted with and got to know them in the spring of 1994 when all of us went to Salt Lake. We have become good friends and they have worked hard to keep busy with lots of projects, in which they willingly took on added responsibility.
      They moved to Skagit County from Cougar Mountain in 1987 and settled in Anacortes. They joined our Genealogical Society in 1988. They have been dedicated and serving members since that time and were honored in 1994 "for outstanding contributions, dedication and effort in the organization of our Garage Sales" and were bestowed with the first lifetime memberships ever given by this society.
      I remember, in Salt Lake City, having several morning discussions over breakfast with John and Shirlee about using a computer. I recall the time when John indicated that he would NEVER use a computer. I have been able to prove him wrong in that respect and John has progressed to the point he is now using his computer every day, and not only has he completed his memoirs for his children, he is also in the process of writing a book using his genealogical information about his ancestors. He uses email daily to communicate with other people.
      In the absence of volunteers for several of the society jobs, they have volunteered, not always willingly, but with persuasion, to fill in until we were able to find replacements. I can remember the day they showed up at my house, we were going to put together a newsletter, as our newsletter editor had resigned. Shirlee was working very hard trying to find small articles to fill the newsletter, and indicating that we would have a lot of pasting to do, to get it all done. We sat down at the computer, did some manipulating and we got that newsletter done in relatively little time. They were both amazed at what could be accomplished on the computer.
      During 1989 they gave us a program on their extensive tour through Europe and the various research facilities they had visited. Below you will see listed a few of the accomplishments they have achieved during their 16 year membership in SVGS.

John Royston Fisher
      Born, raised and educated in the Los Angeles, California area. In the spring of 1989 John became the chairperson of our Pickle Barn garage sales, a position he held for 7 years; he volunteered to serve and was elected as our 3rd Vice President for Ways & Means.
      In 1990, John chaired and managed the societies garage sale held at I-5 Auto World and yearly after that until 1995. We credit John with great fundraising enterprises and his ventures have added greatly to our financial viability.
      In 1992 John took on the job of projects chair. In that capacity he organized a work group of 46 people, and took on the responsibility of coordinating the Funeral Home Index project. That project consisted of photocopying more than 44,000 funeral home records, and doing in-depth research into the history of each individual funeral home in Skagit County. He coordinated the transfer of all of those records to Salt Lake City where the LDS Family History Library, microfilmed the records and made them available for research.
      In 1994 John took on the responsibility for Ways and Means until that position was filled. John served as president of this society from 1998-2000 and again in the year 2001 when as past president he was asked by the Board of Directors to resume that position when our elected president resigned. He continued to work projects during and after his presidency, until their decision to move. In 1995 he assisted Shirlee in setting up the traveling library.
      As project chairperson he has organized and coordinated the reading of ten (10) of the 15 major cemeteries in Skagit County. Several other cemeteries are in process and John has coordinated the reading of those cemeteries as well as researching the history of each cemetery. He has been involved in the research of records for the Northern State Hospital cemetery and all of the cemeteries for different native American tribes. He has found several cemeteries located throughout the county that have anywhere from 1-10 burials. Many of them are overgrown and almost lost.
      On his own, as another fundraising idea, he contacted Don Tate in Texas and made arrangements to obtain and sell the beautiful ancestor charts that many of us have purchased.

Shirlee Weyer Fisher
      Shirlee Weyer FisherBorn, raised and educated in the Wenatchee area of Eastern Washington. Shirlee assisted with the publication and proofreading of "The Pioneer Book" the first book published by the society in 1989-1990. In 1990 she became our Newsletter Editor, serving in that capacity for several years. For awhile, our society had active participation in special interest groups and Shirlee became a leader and contact person for the European Interest Group.
      She also served as Program chairperson, and served as Vice President. She assumed the Presidency when Julie Steves moved to Enumclaw. In 1992, she was elected as President of the society. As her term of president ended, she again volunteered to take on the job of newsletter editor which she retained for many years.
      Recently she has been keeper of the Traveling Library and has contacted many of you when she was unable to locate pieces of that library. She has been our obituary archives person, collecting, and pasting over 100 obituaries a month for the past three or four years. She has been an active participant in the publication of our newsletter for several years as one of the volunteers who has proofread that publication.

(Dan Royal)
Dan Royal, publisher of

Daniel P. Royal of Birdsview, Washington
Honored by the Washington State Genealogical Society
      For outstanding efforts in the preservation of important records of genealogical value to Skagit Valley Genealogical Society and other researchers interested in the families of Washington State. Dan has distinguished himself in support of the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society by his efforts to develop and maintain a website for the Society and as Society Newsletter Editor.
      He has made many changes in the presentation and appearance of the website; has uploaded multiple databases of interest and value to the genealogical community, and, in particular, to Skagit County. In addition to his work on a society website, Daniel has also been active on the Board of Directors and has made improvements in the format and presentation of our society newsletter.
      In addition to his Skagit Valley Genealogical Society connections he has been very active in community participation and is a member of the Concrete Historical Museum. In this capacity, he has reprinted So They Called the Town Concrete, written by Charles Dwelley in May 1980. He is also co-chair of the Society's latest project Skagit County, Washington and Its People, a Rich History and Heritage. Dan is proud to be a pioneer descendant of Skagit County when the L.A. Boyd family joined their in-laws the George Savage family in 1882. He also acts as Memorialist for the annual Pioneer Picnic in August.

Jane E. Russell of Mount Vernon
(Jane E. Russell)
Jane E. Russell

Honored by the Washington State Genealogical Society
      For exceptional and consistent support of the goals and operation of Skagit Valley Genealogical Society in Skagit County. Jane has been a member of Skagit Valley Genealogical Society since 1996; At the age of 91 years she has served as Society Treasurer for the past three years, and has distinguished herself in support of the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society by her efforts to disseminate necessary and vital information to the members of this Society. She has been an active and much appreciated member of the Board of Directors for Skagit Valley Genealogical Society.

      Ed. note: I have observed the dedication of the Fishers since 1992 when they and Hazel Rasar and many other volunteers were assembling the burial statistics from Sedro-Woolley for the first of several cemetery data books that have been published by the society. They were both serious and no-nonsense in addition to exhibiting great love and sharing with their fellow genealogists. Their example has encouraged another generation to follow them and emulate their leadership. Luckily, young whippersnappers such as Dan Royal were challenged and are ready to attempt to fill their shoes. The Fishers' retirement is well deserved, but I'm willing to bit that the bug that bit them in their genealogical work is not all the way removed from their system. Bon voyage. You will be sorely missed by all of us who work to preserve our local history.

Lorraine McDougle Rothenbuhler
      April 14, 2007, Wenatchee, WA — The Washington State Genealogical Society recognizes Lorraine Rothenbuhler of Sedro-Woolley for exceptional operational support of the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society and outstanding efforts in the preservation of important records of genealogical value to local researchers and others interested in the history of families of Washington state.
      Lorraine Rothenbuhler has been an active member of the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society for more than 15 years. She has made many contributions to the operation and well-being of the Society though service on its Board of Directors for many years. Lorraine has been for several years and is currently active with the Sedro-Woolley Historical Museum. [Signed] Stephen Eric Baylor, state President.

Story posted Sept. 16, 2003, last updated and moved to this domain March 7, 2010, updated Feb. 19, 2012
Please report any broken links so we can update them

Getting lost trying to navigate
or find stories on our site?
Read how to sort through our 700-plus stories.

See this Journal Timeline website of local, state, national, international events for years of the pioneer period.
Return to the new-domain home page
Links for portals to subjects and towns
Newest photo features
Search entire site
Our monthly column, Puget Sound Mail (but don't call it a blog)
debuted on Aug. 9, 2009. Check it out.
(bullet) See this Journal Timeline website of local, state, national, international events for years of the pioneer period.
(bullet) Did you enjoy this story? Remember, as with all our features, this story is a draft and will evolve as we discover more information and photos. This process continues as we compile and collaborate on books about Northwest history. Can you help? And also remember; we welcome correction, criticism and additions to the record.
(bullet) Please report any broken links or files that do not open and we will send you the correct link. With more than 700 features, we depend on your report. Thank you.
(bullet) Read about how you can order CDs that include our photo features from the first ten years of our Subscribers Edition. Perfect for gifts. Will be completed in 2012.

View My Guestbook
Sign My Guestbook
You can click the donation button to contribute to the rising costs of this site. See many examples of how you can aid our project and help us continue for another ten years. You can also subscribe to our optional Subscribers-Paid Journal magazine online, which has entered its 12th year with exclusive stories, in-depth research and photos that are shared with our subscribers first. You can go here to read the preview edition to see examples of our in-depth research or read how and why to subscribe. Our research trips in 2012-13 depend on this income.
You can read the history websites about our prime sponsors
Would you like information about how to join them in advertising? We cannot emphasize how we need such support for our accelerated research journeys of 2012-13 for books and many more stories.

(bullet) We are advertising for sale by readers, two fine historical books. The first is Theodore Winthrop's The Canoe and the Saddle, NY, American Publishers (c. Ticknor & Fields, 1862), a second edition, published circa 1890. And the four-volume set of The History of Washington by Lancaster Pollard and Lloyd Spencer, 1937. Please inquire by email if you want more details or want to make an offer. Also inquire about other offerings or if you request a specific book.
(bullet) Our newest sponsor, Plumeria Bay, is based in Birdsview, just a short walk away from the Royal family's famous Stumpranch, and is your source for the finest down comforters, pillows, featherbeds & duvet covers and bed linens. Order directly from their website and learn more about this intriguing local business.
(bullet) Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 88 years.
(bullet) Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20, day, week or month, perfect for hunting or fishing
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit River, just a short drive from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley
(bullet) Check out Sedro-Woolley First section for links to all stories and reasons to shop here first
or make this your destination on your visit or vacation.
(bullet) Are you looking to buy or sell a historic property, business or residence?
We may be able to assist. Email us for details.

Looking for something special on our site? Enter name, town or subject, then press "Find" Search this site powered by FreeFind
    Did you find what you were seeking? We have helped many people find individual names or places, so email if you have any difficulty.
    Tip: Put quotation marks around a specific name or item of two words or more, and then experiment with different combinations of the words without quote marks. We are currently researching some of the names most recently searched for — check the list here. Maybe you have searched for one of them?