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21 August 2008

Baby Samuel: A Few More Clues About Mom

Yesterday I had a full day of meetings at CGS but I thought I would sneak in a little research time for a friend. I planned to noodle around in some San Francisco city directories to see if I could find any new information about the SWARTZ family for Elizabeth O'Neal of Little Bytes of Life. On Tuesday she reported on The Mystery of Baby Samuel and how she had become strangely obsessed with his short life.

When I got to the library, I discovered that the crack team of researchers at the society were already on the case. Since Elizabeth had done the basic census work, CGS "Look-up Maven" Lavinia Schwarz, did what anyone who has San Francisco ancestors should do. She searched the California Names Index on the California Genealogical Society Web site.

Through the years, CGS volunteers have indexed a wide variety of state, county, and local references, creating an enormous and unique database of the library's holdings. The California Names Index currently contains over 265,000 entries. Search results yield a full name and an Index Code that tells the source type of the information.

These are the results that come up after a search for "Swartz."

The bottom listing is for Baby Samuel's parents: "Swartz, Samuel K. (I. Nielsen) BIO $10.00." The three letter code "BIO" indicates that some biographical information is available in our collection of more than 50 California state, county, and local histories. $10.00 is the charge for copying and sending the information. (Elizabeth, this one is on us!)

Lavinia recognized the source for the Swartz biography as one she had consulted for several previous look-up requests. It is a two volume set and it is in Danish.

Danske I California og California Historie: Beretninger om de Danskes liv og Virke Fra de Tidligste Pioner Dage is: Danes In California and California History, a Report on Danish Life and Work from the Earliest Pioneer Days, according to Google Translate.

Author Sophus Hartwick was once an owner and publisher of the San Francisco Danish Newspaper Bien (the Bee), the only Danish newspaper west of the Rockies when it began in 1882. The paper is still being published, a bi-weekly printed every other Thursday. Another interesting coincidence: the paper's local editor at its Solvang office is a Nielsen!

The biography is actually for "Mrs. Samuel K. Swartz" and it names her Inger Anna Nielsen. Luckily, CGS's Library Committee chair, Laura Spurrier will be able to translate the passage for us. Stay tuned.

Part 2:  Baby Samuel: Some Answers, More Questions