Each spring Whitman County Genealogical Society awards a scholarship to a graduating senior from Pullman who has met the application requirements for this award. The applicant must write a 1-2 page essay saying why family history or local history is of importance to him/her. The money for this scholarship is given in memory of Dorothy Sevier Matson (1920-2002). She was a lifetime resident of Pullman who graduated from Pullman High School. The first award was given in 2010. The current scholarship amount is $500 and will be awarded on June 5th at the annual awards night at Pullman High School. WCGS also awards grant money in the amount of $200 to one or more seniors whose project emphasizes genealogy or history in some way. We are pleased to be able to honor our friend and longtime WCGS member in this way who was so generous with her time, talent and treasure.
Dorothy was a lifetime resident of Pullman, being born 27 January 1920 to Henry Sevier and Almira Lakin Sevier, the youngest of 6 siblings and 4 half-siblings. She graduated from Pullman High School and attended beautician school in Spokane. She then returned to Pullman to work until she joined the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). While in the Navy, she was stationed in Washington, DC during World War II where she worked with decoding. Following the war, she returned to Pullman and worked at Washington State College (now University) in the mailing department until she retired. She married George Matson 7 January 1955 and he passed away 23 February 1982.
Dorothy had a thirst for knowledge about the past and the people of this area, particularly things relating to Whitman County genealogy and history, with an emphasis on Pullman. She was a cornerstone member of Whitman County Genealogical Society, a lifetime member, and the researcher, who for years single-handedly responded to all of the people who wrote to WCGS asking for help in finding out more information about their Whitman County families. She collected information on people of the area and clipped thousands of newspaper articles, mostly obituaries, but also anniversary celebrations, marriages, reunions and more. She pasted these articles on index cards and several members of WCGS entered every name from these cards into a computer database. WCGS then published three volumes of indexes to these cards entitled “Whitman County Washington Families, An Every Name Index to the Newspaper and Resource Collections of Dorothy Sevier Matson, Vols. I, II and III.” These three indexes (volumes) total over 650 pages of just names! The original cards are stored at the WCGS library and are regularly used by WCGS researchers and others visiting the library. In 2000, Dorothy donated her entire library and all of her research files to WCGS.
Prior to her death on 18 August 2002, Dorothy made a substantial gift to Whitman County Genealogical Society in memory of her brother, Dale Sevier. Dorothy’s dream had always been to write a history of Pullman. Although she was not able to realize that dream in her lifetime, she knew that Whitman County Genealogical Society would carry on her legacy of helping others who were researching their Whitman County roots. She also knew that WCGS would help keep alive the history and records of the Palouse and share it with others, through publications, research, etc.
WCGS felt the best way to remember Dorothy was to create an endowed fund to honor her. WCGS selected Inland Northwest Community Foundation (INWCF) to handle this fund. It was established in September 2009. The WCGS Endowment Fund and Dorothy were featured in the 2010 INWCF Calendar and Annual Report on the month of July.
With the annual distributable income from the endowment fund, WCGS created a scholarship in memory of Dorothy. The Dorothy Sevier Matson Scholarship was awarded for the first time in June 2010.
WCGS is very pleased to be able to honor Dorothy in this way and feels this scholarship is a perfect tribute to her love of the region’s history and genealogy and her support of education. One of Dorothy’s favorite phrases was: “…for my own amazement.” We think Dorothy would be very amazed, pleased and humbled to have this wonderful tribute to her.
Mark your calendar now for the fall seminar of Whitman County Genealogical Society. It will be held on Saturday, October 13, 9:00AM – 12:00Noon in the Independent Living Social Room of Bishop Place Senior Living, 811 SE Klemgard, Pullman, Washington.
Speakers will be Tony Birch from Cheney on the topic of heraldry and Lee Pierce, archivist of the Eastern Region Branch of Washington State Archives. It should be a very informative morning. Hope you can join us. Watch our website for further details as they become available.