A Brother Discovered

While viewing the evening news on television, a California man looked up to see someone being interviewed who not only had a strong resemblance to himself, but also shared the same last name. In all his years, he never knew much about his father, only recognizing his name as the name on his own birth certificate. His daughter also noticed the strong resemblance between her father and the man on tv. She immediately went to her computer to further research the coincidence. It didn’t take long for her to make a connection and discover the brother her father never knew he had.  Read the full story HERE


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A Box of Ashes Becomes a Cold Case

While the death of a son brings heartbreak to a mother, the theft of his ashes makes for a heart twice-broken. Thankfully, this story doesn’t end there, but it took years before its conclusion came to light.

My husband Harry and I moved to Florence in 1995 from Burbank, California.  In November of that same year, my 32-year-old son Jim, passed away in California.

In 2000, Harry and I returned to California for an employment opportunity. Knowing the move would be a temporary one, we placed some of our possessions (crab pots, household items and a box with my son’s ashes) into a locked storage unit adjacent to my dad’s carport on Woahink Drive in Dunes City. In time, my dad came to live with us in California and his Woahink home was placed with a property management company as a rental. Sadly, dad passed away in 2002.

Harry and I retired in 2005 and permanently moved back to Florence. We found my father’s house to be in a horrible state – the tenants had been evicted, the copper wiring stripped out, many fixtures were missing from the interior, and the storage unit with my son’s ashes was ransacked and emptied. Needless to say, we were upset, shocked and devastated, but knew there was nothing we could do about it at that point.

A number of years passed when I received a phone call from the Florence Police Department. Sergeant Harry Johnson inquired as to whether I knew someone named Pinto. I replied Pinto had been my name from a prior marriage, and that my deceased son who died in 1995, was named Jim Pinto. The officer then politely informed me that years ago, a box of ashes labelled with my son’s name had been found and turned over to the Police Department. Sergeant Johnson explained the police had made many attempts to locate the family of Jim Pinto, but were unsuccessful. He revealed the box had been stored in the police evidence room for all of those years.

The Sergeant went on to say that in 2014, he contacted Pat Rongey to provide assistance on this case. Pat was training with the Florence Police Citizen’s Academy and was a volunteer at the Police Department, as well as a member of the Siuslaw Genealogical Society for many years. Utilizing her research experience in genealogy, she was able to establish a path to me and has allowed me to reconnect with my son. I am forever grateful to the Florence Police Department and Pat Rongey.”

Sandy Zinn

In 2014 SGS member Pat Rongey was given a slip of paper by Sergeant Johnson. On it was written a name, “California” and a set of numbers. Pat discovered the numbers to be the crematorium’s ID number assigned to the ashes. She began calling California crematoriums and with that ID number, learned the name of the original mortuary. She discovered it had since been closed, and despite further efforts, was unable to locate their records. Using Ancestry and Family Search she was unable to confidently verify an exact identification for the decedent without a birthdate or date of death. Pat reached out to Search Angels and the Troy Dunn organization, which had produced such television programs as The Locator, APB with Troy Dunn and Last Hope with Troy Dunn. From both organizations, she received matching responses of a birth date. With this information, Pat was able to verify the decedent’s family information and conclude her research with confidence. She presented her findings of the name and location of Jim Pinto’s mother, to Sergeant Johnson – all within two days of receiving that slip of paper.

Pat Rongey has been doing genealogy research for most of her adult life and has been a member of the Siuslaw Genealogical Society for over 20 years. In the past 2 ½ years, Pat has helped reconnect 57 adoptees with their biological families.

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Place Name and Boundary Changes; Territorial Records

This month’s SGS meeting presentation will be a pre-recorded webinar, Understanding Boundaries and Jurisdictions. The featured speaker is genealogist Hallie Borstel who will show how to research boundary changes and help us understand jurisdictions using maps, sources and other vital records for family research. Being aware of geographic name changes can greatly affect being able to locate the sources of where your ancestors lived.


The SGS monthly meeting for members will follow the presentation. View meeting agenda HERE.


On a similar topic to next week’s SGS meeting is another free webinar titled ‘It Goes with the Territory! Find your Ancestors in Pre-Statehood Records. This will take place on Tuesday, February 15 at 5 pm, and is sponsored by the Board for Certification of Genealogist and Legacy Family Tree.

The presenter will be Alice Hoyt Veen, a Board-certified genealogist, researcher and educator. She will discuss territorial settlement timelines and strategies for locating and using territorial records. Real case-study examples will be utilized. For those researching pioneer ancestors in pre-statehood territories, their records are an important source to understanding their lives.

Register for the webinar HERE.

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FindAGrave Changes

FindAGrave has made important changes to 1)  Memorials for recently deceased and 2)  Who (i.e. which relationships) qualifies for a required transfer of a memorial. Read the details HERE. View additional support pages for:

Memorials for the Recently Deceased
Request to Manage

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Genealogy News

1950 Census to be Released in 2022

SGS member Pat Rongey reminds us of an upcoming release of the U.S. 1950 Census! According to the ’72-Year Rule’, census records are to be released to the general public by the National Archives 72 years after the Census Day. As such, the 1950 census records are scheduled to be released in April, 2022.


  • Wondering what to do with your matches?
  • Confused about chromosome mapping?
  • Ever think about which ancestor you inherited an actual chromosome segment of DNA from?

Join us on January 20th for this exciting, free presentation.  The public is invited. DNA painter is among the leading resources of genetic genealogy and is available in both a free version or a paid plan.


Also, cast your vote for the selection of a possible new SGS logo at the January 20th meeting! View your email for images of the logo choices!

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For the New Year

LOOKING FOR A 2022 PROJECT?

Pat Rongey suggests taking a look at the Citizen Archivist Missions website for a list of possibilities – many worthwhile opportunities. Projects involve tagging and transcribing records.

Projects include:
– Transcribe ‘typed or handwritten narrative that documents the escape and evasion experience of the escapee or evader . . . “
– The American Soldier – Transcribe ‘collection of more than 65,000 handwritten reflections by U.S. soldiers who fought during the Second World War.
– Transcribe ‘correspondence, reports, and case files pertaining to the property of individuals, families and businesses impacted by involuntary evacuation and relocation because of their foreign national status or Japanese Ancestry.”
– European Name Index – Transcribe ‘index cards that contain the name of an individual, a case number, a summary of information from the case relating to the individual . . . victim, witness or accused . . .’

Many more projects you may find of interest. Learn more HERE.

Upcoming January 20th Presentation for SGS Meeting:
A webinar on DNA Painter – a chromosome mapping tool to help you ‘visualize’ DNA connections among your relatives. This is sure to be fascinating!
January 20th, 3 p.m. at the Mustard Seed.

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SGS Meeting Nov 16 – Genealogy Software

A presentation of two popular genealogy software programs – Family Tree Maker and RootsMagic will be featured at the TUESDAY, November 16th meeting at 3 pm. Join us at The Mustard Seed, 509 Kingwood Street. The public is invited.

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