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               January, 2010

      Charles Hansen, Editor

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  Recording History
  — by Charles Hansen

       I couple of weeks ago I was researching for an article on Lee Patchen, one of the presidents of our local genealogical society. I have been writing articles on all the past presidents for our genealogical society's 75th Anniversary in 2010. Lee Patchen had been one of the busiest volunteers for the genealogical society and spent many hours at the library. When he died in 1970, our genealogical society took up a collection for some memorial gifts to the library and for years, Lee's portrait was on the wall in the genealogical section of the library. When they rebuilt the library there were no walls close to the genealogical records, so I don't know what happened to that portrait.

       Now for the history, Lee had written about three autobiographies, and helped with a 600+ page book on the Patchen-in book in the USA done by his cousin. In doing the research I always check the Washington State Digital Archives first, and it brought up several records, Lee's WWI service record, two marriages and his birth record. I had read his biographies so knew he had been born here in Spokane, and had two wives since Mary Patchen had died in 1945 and so he remarried in 1957, but the first marriage I found was to a Nettie Clark in 1913 at Newport, Washington and the second was to Mary Miller. I checked for a death for Nettie Patchen or even Nettie Clark, but found nothing, so I assumed they must have divorced.

       None of the autobiographies or biographies written on Lee ever mention Nettie, but the record is very easy to obtain, and it lists Lee, and both of his parents, so I am pretty sure that record is correct. So now what should I do when I write the article on Lee Patchen? Should I tell about Nettie? Or ignore it like all the others that wrote about Lee have? This same question happens or will happen to most all genealogists. Do you cover up history? leave it out? Ignore it?

       I will tell you what I did on a similar request. Years ago when we had our first Hansen reunion one baby that came was recorded with his father and mother, but soon after his parents got a divorce and I was asked to remove the father from future printouts. I wanted to keep his father in the records, and worked pretty hard to eliminate the father from the printouts. If you click on the child it still shows his father, but the father does not show in our family printouts. He will show in the son's ancestors, but I seldom if ever print that out.

       So how will you handle a divorce? Or a Black Sheep? Will you Record History? Or follow the wishes of your family?

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