Digging for roots: Hayden Family History Seminar celebrates many aspects of genealogy

Over 200 followers of Jesus Christ, representing many religions, gathered at the Hayden Stake Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the fourth annual Hayden Lake Family History Seminar on Saturday, Oct. 22.

Under the direction of Connie Godak, director of the Hayden Lake Family History Center, over 35 patrons, both LDS and non-LDS, spent a year planning and preparing for the free seminar. A member of the inaugural Spokane temple presidency, President Frank Wagstaff and his wife Jane, who are now the area advisors for 43 Family History Centers in the Northwest, shared information about the event with the centers they oversee. The Kootenai County and Eastern Washington Genealogical Societies also helped spread the word. Genealogists from Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities and other surrounding areas joined local researchers for the day.

Sister Godak insisted that the event was a collaborative effort. The local wards and some attendees contributed wonderful food for the luncheon. Some baked breadsticks, some made soup or salads, while others set up or took down the tables and chairs or worked in the kitchen.

“For the first time, we really felt like we had enough food for everyone, and we are so grateful for this support,” Godak said.

Godak added that there were a few changes to this year’s agenda, including classes with more specific themes and a second lunch time.

“We really can’t comfortably accommodate more than 200 people at this event and the addition of the second lunch hour made things much more relaxed,” she said. “People were able to eat, visit, exchange ideas and contact information without having to face long lines for food, before having to hurry off to another class. I think this was our most successful event so far – but tomorrow we start working on plans for next year.”



Over 200 people attended the fourth annual Hayden Lake Family History Seminar at the Hayden Stake Center on Oct. 22
Contributed Photo.

A total of five sessions were taught, comprising 20 classes. Each session featured between three and five classes and, at the end of the day, there was a live webinar on Google search strategies by Lisa Louise Cooke, author of “Your Google Toolbox.”

Some of the classes offered were “Repairing Photos with Photoshop” by David Van Etten, an illustration and design instructor from North Idaho College and “RootsMagic,” both an introduction class and an advanced skills class by Margie Stein Beldin, a user group leader and a renowned family history researcher in the Tri Cities. Archeologist Joseph C. Mitchell, M.A., presented several topics, including “Researching United States Military Records.”

Van Etten commented that this is the fourth time he has taught the Photoshop classes for the seminar, and he really enjoys it.

“Every time we think we might give him a break and let him off the hook for a year, we get so many requests for his classes that we just have to have him back,” Godak said. “I think there’d be a rebellion if he wasn’t on the schedule. He just makes it so fun and is an excellent teacher.”


Mitchell said the research of military records is “a great way to understand the service that our ancestors provided for us, so we can live the way we do.”

The Hayden Family Center had 188 visits in September of this year and 320 hours were spent on the computers. While people who attended the seminar were from many religions and walks of life, a visitor from Walla Walla was heard to say that “the Family History Center is the front door to the temple.”

The center’s address is 2293 W. Hanley, Coeur d’ Alene, ID. Hours are Monday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a class taught each Tuesday night, from 7 to 8 p.m. For more information, email haydenlakefhc@gmail.com.

Listed below are the presenters at the 2011 seminar.

David Van Etten: illustrator, graphic artist and owner of Van Etten Studios, North Idaho College instructor in the Adobe Digital Suite.

Margie Stein Beldin: genealogist, historian, and Tri-Cities RootsMagic User group facilitator

Joseph C. Mitchell: B.S. Cartography/GIS and M.A. Anthropology/Historical Archaeology, UI.

Miriam J. Robbins: First vice president and team blogger of Eastern Washington Genealogical Society; genealogy blogger

Sandy Doutre: genealogist, teacher, and instructor of All Things Historical; one of the founders of the Family History Center.

Connie L. Godak: genealogist and current director of the Hayden Family History Center.

Louisa St. John Durkin: DAR registrar and past president of the Kootenai County Genealogical Society.

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