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11 November 2018

A sanctuary from the fires

Veterans' Section, Paradise Cemetery
Member Lorna Jones noticed a poignant detail in the coverage of the fires devastating California this week: in the town of Paradise, resident Mark Kirby found shelter in the historic cemetery. As reported in the Washington Post:

The lifelong Paradise resident had woken to the unnatural darkness outside at 8:30 a.m., and loaded up his trailer. He ended up parking in a cemetery in town — a “large area of green,” he said, where he felt he had room to move if he needed to, despite warnings from fire crews.

"I was totally surrounded at one point," he said. He spent the night there safely; the cemetery was relatively untouched.


It's a bittersweet story in the midst of our ongoing tragedy.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

10 November 2018

CGS Library Collections: Georgia

An occasional series highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of our books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog. Our catalog is also included in WorldCat.


Some of the 24 volumes of The Colonial Records
Now that I’ve gotten to the CGS library collection for the State of Georgia I feel like I want to find a Georgia ancestor – because our collection is so extensive. Our books start with twenty-four volumes of The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia by Allen D. Candler. These volumes have vibrant royal blue covers and cover the fifty years between 1732 and 1782. Frustratingly there is no table of contents or an index so I cannot easily share with you what is covered in the set. You will just have to visit our library and peruse these volumes on your own.

A few of the journals in our collection
When you come to the library you will be thrilled to find six full shelves of books for Georgia including several county books. We have three sets of journals for the periods 1968 to 2015, 1971 to 1998 and 1964 to 1972 – these no doubt cover the period when the donor was actively researching his or her genealogy.


There is a three-volume set titled The Georgia Frontier: Colonial Families to the Revolutionary War Period by Jeannette Holland Austin. Published in 2005, this book provides hundreds of family histories listed by family name and county. It starts with the Adams family of Chattooga County and provides short bios for Edwin and Hopewell Adams and each of their children. The entire text of how Hopewell’s estate was to be distributed is transcribed. These volumes are well indexed.

One of our more unusual books
Cover page of The Georgia Black Book
One book that intrigued me is The Georgia Black Book: Morbid, Macabre, and Sometimes Disgusting Records of Genealogical Value by Robert Scott Davis, Jr.  That title alone should be enough to draw you into the library if you have Georgia ancestors, and maybe even if you don’t have Georgia ancestors. The table of contents lists chapters on Horse Thieves and Other Charming People; Liars; Convicts; Murders, Murderers, and Murder Victims; Convicts; Insane Asylum Inmates; Racial Incidents; More Murders, Murderers, and Murder Victims; and finally Other Sources Equally Disgusting. Out of curiosity, I read the “About the Author” chapter suspecting he was the great-grandson of a notorious Georgia criminal who went insane but instead learned that he is simply a passionate historian who is concerned about preserving historical records – just our kind of guy. 

We have several volumes of Historical Collections compiled by the DAR. There are bible records, a will index, marriage and church records, tax records, censuses, and one book on intestate records published in 1986 – this is an excellent collection of resources.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

01 November 2018

In Memoriam: Gaye Lenahan, 1931-2018

Gaye Lenahan in 2010. Photo: Lacy Atkins, San Francisco Chronicle
Gaye Lenahan, a longtime CGS member and volunteer, passed away at home on October 29, 2018. Her contributions to CGS, her community, and other organizations are too numerous to list, but she was widely beloved and appreciated. Gaye was a docent for 20 years at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, and in 2010 published her extensive research on the cemetery's "Strangers' Plot," which served as the burial place for indigents, unknowns, suicides and criminals from 1863 until World War I. Gaye was featured in a Chronicle article on the subject. Kathryn Doyle's post in this blog gives more information about Gaye's diligent work on this little-known resting place.

Gaye's family wrote in her obituary, "She will be remembered by all who knew her as a kind, generous and brave spirit who did her part to leave the world a little better place." The full obituary from the San Francisco Chronicle can be read online here.


Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

30 October 2018

CGS Library Collections: Florida

An assortment of The Florida Genealogist journals
Our Florida collection is limited to five boxes of journals – The Florida Genealogist, published by the Florida State Genealogical Society. Our copies run from Fall 1979 through December 2013.

Glancing at the most recent edition reveals an assortment of very interesting articles.
The first is about genealogical resources available at the State Library and Archives. Another appealing story has a tantalizing title, What To Do With a Steamer Trunk of Memories?

A third essay, by Amy Crabill Lay, Pioneer Committee Chair, describes in detail how to prepare a successful application for the Florida Pioneer lineage society. Clyde Pierce Stickney wrote Using Family Occupations as a Lens for Studying Local History: A Case Study for Key West, Florida. The author writes about his ancestors who salvaged shipwrecks, worked as lighthouse keepers, made cigars, were sponge fishermen, and worked for the railroad – quite an interesting combination of trades.
From an article about the Florida State Archives

Each of these articles appealed to me. No telling what you might find if you spend some time looking through our Florida collection.








Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

24 October 2018

CGS Library Collections: Delaware

Delaware Archives Military Volumes 1-3
The first three volumes of our twenty-four book Delaware collection are Delaware Archives, an impressive set of Revolutionary War military records published by the Public Archives Commission of Delaware in 1911. The records are organized by war rolls and regiments and contain a tremendous amount of detail.

We have two volumes of New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch–Delaware Papers, 1648-1664. These were a gift from Stanley E. Ross. This specialized source is a collection of documents pertaining to the regulation of affairs on the South River of New Netherland. It was edited by Charles T. Gehring published in 1981. The book lacks a table of contents but is well indexed.

Silversmiths of Delaware 1700-1850
The Calendar of Kent County Delaware Probate Records 1680-1800 was compiled by the state archivist and published by the Public Archives Commission in 1944. The foreword tells us, “This publication marks the culmination of careful and arduous work in classifying, collating, and calendarizing the probate records of Kent County, Delaware.”

We also have several books published by the Colonial Dames of America including A Calendar of Delaware Wills for New Castle County 1682-1800, published in 1911.  Silversmiths of Delaware 1700-1850, published in 1939, has beautiful photographs of Colonial silver objects.

Delaware records compiled in 2006
One of our newest Delaware source books is Delaware Marriages and Deaths from Newspapers 1729-1853, edited by Mary Fallon and John C. Richards and published in 2006. Entries are listed alphabetically by surname and were originally compiled by the Delaware Genealogical Society. Over 10,000 names are included in the publication.

So, Delaware descendants, next time you are in Oakland, stop by to delve into all this data.





Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society