Special Projects
New Zealander Learns Family History

A gentleman wandered in one afternoon and said, “My name is Parr and I believe I may have had some relatives in this area."

"I just flew in this morning from New Zealand, and I’m on my way to visit my cousin (also named Parr) in British Columbia. The kind people in Everett [a large town about 20 miles from Granite Falls] did have evidence of one of the matriarchs in our family dying there, but they said she was buried in Granite Falls."

"I decided to drive up here and see what I could find, although my cousin said he’d been here and I wouldn’t find much in a small logging town.”
A quick look in the Granite Falls Historical Society's PastPerfect collection database provided about a dozen pictures and documents related to his ancestors (names confirmed) but the question came up, “Were any of your ancestors homesteaders here?”

Turning on an on-screen map created by the Museum and enabling the “homestead” layer, the “find” button allowed a search for the name “Parr”.

Immediately four homesteads were listed, and the visitor exclaimed, “That’s my great-great-uncle and his three sons!”

Zooming to the homestead of the eldest Parr, imagine our surprise to find that he had homesteaded 160 acres locally, at the center of which was the Granite Falls waterfall, the site after which our community is named!

Mr. Parr left with a 24” x 36” plot of the aerial view, overlaid with homestead lines and homesteader names as labels (all four Parr homesteads were local) exclaiming “I’ve been into genealogical research for over 20 years, and I’ve never been anywhere to find such material so quickly! I can’t wait to show my cousin what I couldn’t find in Granite Falls!”

Story from volunteer docent Fred Cruger

Trace Your Family's Land Holdings

A local fellow walked in one day and asked, “Can you confirm that my ancestors homesteaded the property on which the Twin Cities Food plant now sits in Stanwood, WA?”.

While it was clearly a matter of some family pride, our search took a surprising turn. By turning on the “cities 1910” layer, it was easy to find and zoom in around the city of Stanwood.

But turning on the homestead layer and searching for his ancestor’s name, Peter Harvey, revealed two homesteads granted to that name, but a mile or more from downtown Stanwood than where the factory is located.

Zooming in more closely on the downtown map from 1910, we did indeed find a piece of property owned by Peter Harvey (though not a homestead). Turning on the aerial photographs and using the “swipe” button to peek behind the 1910 city map, it was clear that Peter Harvey owned property in 1910 (albeit not a homestead) that sat precisely on what is now the east end of the factory. We busted the “homesteaded the factory property” family legend, but certainly found the basis for that story.

Want to discover more about your own family history?
Learn more about using the Granite Falls Historical Society mapping tool!