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Accidental Genealogist: Lynda Solter

When did you first develop an interest in genealogy?  

I consider myself to be an accidental genealogist. 

My husband and I retired in 2008 and wanted to set off to explore the USA in an RV. We spent the first adventure in a 30’ RV to see if it was a life that we could live with. It was an interesting first year and we figured out that we had a lot to learn, but we decided we were up for it. And we learned that you should not plan a specific schedule. It didn’t allow for off-the-beaten path adventures and discoveries. 

The first year we wanted to visit my husband’s son who was stationed at Ft. Bragg, now Fort Liberty, but had a girlfriend that that was living just over the border in South Carolina. On the way to visit her, I kept seeing various signs: Cribb Road, Cribb Street, Joe Cribb for Sheriff… Now Cribb (my maiden name) is not a common name in Washington, but I was able to discern that these were relatives. My father had always refused to talk about his family, so I was immediately fascinated with this discovery and decided right then that these were perhaps relatives and ancestors and I was “meant” to find them. The irony was that my first husband and I had been stationed at Ft Bragg, NC for four years in the early 1970’s, and I never had a clue. 

What is something interesting you learned about your family through research?  

Every aspect of our ancestors’ lives is interesting to me.  

With my east coast ancestors, they were in the country prior to the Revolutionary War and were also involved in the “un”Civil War. One of my first discoveries was that my father’s grandfather was killed in 1862 at Manassas (also called the 2nd Bull Run). When his wife learned this, she left town in the middle of the night with their 4 (between the ages of 10 and 4 months) “children sleeping on their cots”. The children were raised by other family members. No one heard from her again until they offered a Confederate Civil War pension many years later.  

I grew up much closer to Cle Elum, where my great grandmother Sarah Jane Galloway lived, but this section of I-90 (from Bellevue) was not wholly completed until the early 1990’s, so our family didn’t make the trip very often when I was a kid. I did love coming over every Memorial Day with my grandmother, Jane Galloway Cox, to put flowers on graves. I knew a few facts… coal mining was involved, as my brother and I used to argue about who could bring the most buckets of coal up from the basement. And with her house on 2nd and Stafford in Cle Elum, right at the Wye park (now) and I would spend hours with my cousin snapping the snake grass. Yep, that was the extent of my interest. Oh, and a walk downtown to the candy store. Then, in 1983, I brought my grandmother (and my kids) over to Roslyn for one of their parade/festivals. She showed me where she was born in 1899 on Arizona Ave, now the garage for a house that faces 2nd. I was fascinated that a family of 10 could live in a 2-car garage, but I was a single mother, working full time and carting 2 kids to and from their multiple activities in the evenings and on weekends. So, I guess it was an interest that would have to lay dormant for another 25 years. 

Do you have any special interests when looking into the past? 

Oh, yes. But they are actually too numerous to list.  

One of my most prevalent is: You are newly married (17,18,19 years old), and despite turmoil in your European country, how could you just leave your family and everything you know, and set sail for a very distant shore, not speaking the language, probably never to see your family again??? A century later I went on a tour of Europe when I graduated from High School, but there were airplanes, interpreters (though most of the places I visited the people spoke at least some English) and I knew that I had a round trip ticket! Still, I considered myself quite brave and independent! 

And that leads to the mystery of immediately applying for citizenship, denouncing your birth country. How could you do that when you have just arrived and have no idea what is in store? Many did this even before they arrived in their destination of Roslyn with the “great promise” of a lucrative future in coal mining! 

What is something most people misunderstand about the process of family research? 

That is that it is really very easy. Though I caution you that it can become quite addictive. There are so many free sites to explore. One of the best is Washington’s Digital Archive digitalarchives.wa.gov/ . Find-a-grave is great (https://www.findagrave.com/ ), and sometimes gives you relationships and bonus pictures/stories/etc. about your ancestor. Family search https://www.familysearch.org/en/united-states/  is also great, but I would encourage you to look beyond user submitted family trees. They are rife with errors, but can sometimes lead you to “hints” to look up in their actual databases. They also have a fantastic wiki that can answer questions about nearly anything. Many other states offer free digital sites. And there is me. I humbly offer my services to research in the Upper County. I am not a professional, but can locate obituaries, find information in some of the paid sites, and my price is unbelievably low ($0) 

Why do you volunteer your personal time to studying the people of UKC’s past? 

Genealogy became a passion when I first accidentally found half of my family that I had been unaware of. I guess you could say they found me. Might as well look to research my mother’s family. 

So with that in my mind, I looked online and found a person who was researching the name “Galloway”. He replied that he didn’t know of my particular line, but ironically someone had also contacted him a couple weeks prior asking about the same line of Galloways. I told you that my relatives and ancestors had been looking for me. So I contacted this person who happened to be a third cousin. Turned out to be Connie (Owens) Wanechek, and we had one of the first of our many, many marathon chats (do I dare admit to 4 hours or so?). This was followed by a re-connection with another third cousin, Janet (Lumsden) Cook. It was so “accidental” that I still cannot believe how lucky I was (and am) to be living here with people who also knew my ancestors. The joy I get from walking down the streets they walked on, although they are now paved… is indescribable. And to know people who lived alongside of them and shared the same good and bad times, creates a passion that I cannot describe. 


CWU Collaboration: RRCHC Oral History Collection

During the 2022-2023 school year, the RRCHC collaborated with the Central Washington Anthropology and Archives departments to record a series of new oral histories to capture the first-hand experiences of life in Ronald, Roslyn, and Cle Elum. Click on a name below to view the corresponding video interview:

Albert Stone

James E. Russom

George Burchak

Fred Fischer

Paul and Ralph Griffin

Braven Bendzak and Arlene Watts

Bob Cernick

Mark Randleman

Wes Craven

Babs Ballard

Fredrick Krueger

Maria Adams

Steve and Nancy Jones

Ethel Craven Sweet (Tom Craven Story) (Black Pioneers of Washington)

Nick and Jennie Henderson

Don Hill

Donna Willette

John Cernick

Louie Osmonovich

Sandra H. Peck

Jeri B. Francisco Porter

Rudolph A. Kovacevich

David Franklin

Sam Krahenbuhl

Beverly Prkacin Read

Fred Talerico

Gary Fudacz

Claude Montgomery

Violet Burke

Frances Divelbiss Glondo




(Any events listed in the Memories section are from past dates, and presented for reference and historical information only.)

April Club Meeting

April Club Meeting at Cle Elum Eagles, April 10th, 6:30: How to Clean and Maintain Gravestones

Memorial Day Weekend

Visit of hospitality tent in the Roslyn Historic Cemeteries Kiosk during Memorial Day Weekend.

February Club Meeting

Wednesday, February 7th, 6:30 at the Cle Elum Eagles. Join us for food and drinks. Guest Presentation by Sam Maybo on the history of the Cle Elum Ski Club.

Roslyn Cemetery Clean-Up 2023 – volunteers needed

Volunteers Wanted!

Roslyn Cemetery Cleanup 2023 Saturday, May 13, 2023

at the Roslyn Cemetery.

Please bring your own tools, gloves, weedeaters, etc. Large tarps needed!

8:30-9:00 a.m. Volunteer Sign In / Get Work Assignment

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon Volunteer at Roslyn’s Historic Cemeteries

12:15 p.m. Volunteer Lunch sponsored by the Roslyn Eagles Aerie 696 at their Club (thanks!)

For more information email [email protected]

Sponsors: Roslyn, Ronald, Cle Elum Heritage Club, Northern Kittitas County Tribune newspaper, Central Washington Outdoor.com

For an easy way to help, click or tap to Donate to the Cemeteries (no sweat necessary!)



King Coal Coronation and Parade

Stay tuned for more updates on our Labor Day weekend festivities. King Coal Coronation and Parade Sunday morning of Labor Day Weekend.

2024 Christmas Party

Join us December 14th to celebrate another year of keeping our local heritage alive.

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