Recent Posts

24 August 2016

Are you Ready for a "Lifetime" commitment?

 by Sandy Fryer, Chris Pattillo, & Jane Lindsey  

Did you know that the California Genealogical Society (CGS) 
will be 120 years old in February 2018?

With a nod to our fast approaching 120th anniversary, beginning in 2017 we are planning special event classes and special fundraising activities for our members to celebrate this milestone.

Become a life member! Life Memberships are currently $1000. Effective in January of 2017, our Life Memberships will increase to $1200.  

We hope you will consider a Life Membership!  We encourage you to think of this as a donation with benefits. 100% of the Life Membership fee is invested in mutual funds and provides long-term support for CGS, helping assure that the Society will remain viable in the years to come.

THANK YOU TO ALL MEMBERS WHO SUPPORT CGS especially all of our Life Members. We appreciate that you have supported the Society by choosing this level of membership.  We have 45 Life Members, 37 from within California and 8 from outside the state. 

Our first 120th special event will be a tea to honor our Life Members.  If you are a Life Member or plan to become one, then Save the Date! Sunday January 8, 2017 from 1:30pm - 4:30pm in Lafayette.  Invitations will be coming out this fall. 

If you have questions, Chris Pattillo or Jane Lindsey would love to hear from you. 

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society

22 August 2016

Got German Ancestors? August 25th Members-Only Event ends our Summer Evenings Series

Please join us this Thursday, August 25th, from 6pm until 8pm for a special, members-only evening with Robert Jackson at our genealogy library An added bonus is that metered parking is free after 6pm and much easier to find!

There will be informal discussion around early German records (he'll help demystify), plus the latest news from Robert about newly available German Genealogy resources.  

If time allows, he will walk you through some early marriage and baptism entries, along with how to deal with them.  No registration needed. 

About the instructor
Robert Jackson holds a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. After several years’ teaching at the college level, he pursued a professional career in banking and finance. Since retiring, he has assisted a variety of not-for-profit and community organizations.  He has also been enjoying his hobbies of genealogy and tennis. 

Robert lives in Berkeley, is devoted to his wife, and is very proud of his daughter, who recently graduated from Bennington College in Vermont.

Join Robert this Thursday for this special, members-only event and learn how to decipher your German roots!

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society

10 August 2016

Wordless Wednesday: PICA (Pacific Islander Cultural Association)'s Aloha Festival!

We joined in the festivities after an invitation from Shirley Avila (pictured below).  

Shirley's on the executive board of PICA and is the newest member of The California Genealogical Society---welcome aboard!

Want to know more about PICA?  Here's the link.

Linda Okazaki and Shirley Avila
Ted Okazaki & Todd Armstrong

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society

06 August 2016

Secrets of the Grave: Find clues to help you solve your family puzzle

Are you a fan of Find-A-Grave? 

Then come join our own Bill O’Neil for his take on providing you an illuminating overview of graveyards and markers, along with his own personal stories of genealogy discovery, as well as an exploration of the variety of available death-related documents. Bill's talk will include images of interesting tombstones from some of his favorite haunts. 

Bill O'Neil
 photo courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey
I asked Bill why cemeteries are such a rich source of material when looking for our ancestors, as well as the potential pitfalls to be aware of and he explained, “I get records from the cemeteries and their custodians much of the time, but sometimes they will not let you see the records because they plot is not fully paid for.”

Sometimes a cemetery can potentially create a family controversy.  Bill describes one such event, “My cousin sent me a photo of the O’Neil tombstone in Scotland. She didn’t know the last listed person and assumed that this woman might have been someone’s mistress because her maiden name was on the stone. She wasn’t. She was a great, great-grandmother, Mary McIver. In typical Scottish tradition, I knew that all of the women were listed on the headstones by their married names and as  “wife of’”, yet there was no husband listed for Mary McIver (my great, great-grandmother). However, obituaries in Scotland list both the maiden and married names---so that’s how we knew there was no controversy.”

Funny things also happen when dealing with cemeteries. Bill said, “I sent a request to the Oakland Cemetery in Little Falls, MN. It was returned with the following comment":  
“ALL DECEASED R(eturn) T(o) S(ender)”

Lastly, I asked what drew Bill to cemeteries.  He said, “I don’t really know why they fascinate me, but in addition to the obvious cemetery documentation that’s available, you can learn more about your relatives just by observing how their markers were decorated. Were they simple, fanciful, or morbid?  In an odd way, observing how your loved ones were treated in death actually helps you understand how the family felt about them when they were alive.”

In Bill’s opinion, “the bottom line is that the cemetery is the starting point for finding out about your ancestors”.

Bill O'Neil is a retired high school art teacher who loves books and cemeteries. He is the chair of the California Genealogical Society Book Repair Committee. Bill has been researching his family genealogy for over twenty years. 

How do I sign-up?
Pre-registration is required, but class size is limited so register now
Are you a CGS member?  Then admission is free.

Not a member?  That’s fine, but the fee is $30.00 and can be applied towards a new one year CGS membership ($40) the day of the class.

Bill has a treasure trove of stories and anecdotes that he can’t wait to share with you.  Join him and learn what makes a cemetery a fascinating place to discover clues about your ancestors.

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society