SVGS History


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At the time of this writing on January 1, 2023, the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society is now thirty seven years old. The roots of the society actually go back much further. Many of the original members were part of a study group led by Marjory Johnson. Her interest in the hobby began in the early 1950’s.

Francis Byford believes the study group started around 1978. There was an afternoon and evening group. The afternoon group met at the Mount Vernon City Library. Susan Bos attended the evening group which also met at the library. This group later moved to Marjory’s home.

The groups offered one-to-one instruction and an opportunity to share a hobby. The attendance was small, normally 6 to 8 people. There was sharing of problems, successes, and car-pooling to Seattle libraries, archives and other places of research. Marjory also conducted classes at the senior center. She spread her love and knowledge of genealogy to many in Skagit County.

Sharon Johnson and Colleen Thulen joined the group in the early 1980’s. At this time there was only one group which met in the afternoon on the first Wednesday of each month at the Mount Vernon library. These continued into 1986 until the death of Marjory Johnson.

As we wondered what we should do without our leader, a new one stepped forward. Betty Fellion had been with the study group about two years. She was small in stature, meek in voice, quiet, and not who’d you expect to take over. But she saw the need and filled it.

At the November 5, 1986 meeting at the Knotty Pine Restaurant, six members decided to place an article in the newspaper to see who else was interested in forming an area genealogical society. Dee Ackerman and Zelda Stout of the Whatcom Genealogical Society in Bellingham attended giving us helpful information on what to do towards “society” formation. Charter members listed in the minutes of this meeting were:

Dee Ackerman, Edna Baiter, Dottie Burr, Betty Fellion, Ann Flath, Sharon Johnson, Gen McMullen, John Marian, Carol Oglesbee, Hazel Pilkinton, Colleen Thulen, Nola Van Wieringen, Lois Wold and Mary Jo Wolden

In January 1987 the first officers were chosen: Betty Fellion, President; John Marian, Vice President; Carol Oglesbee, Secretary and Colleen Thulen, Treasurer.

From tiny acorns mighty oaks grow. Wouldn’t Marjory, Betty and Susan be pleased to see that the organization they helped to start is still functioning today helping people trace their family history.