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06 July 2019

Quarterly Membership Meeting: Saturday, July 13!

Bill O'Neil with some of his dolls in military uniform
If you missed the April membership meeting, where Bill O'Neil displayed his collection of dolls dressed in military uniforms--or if you were there, but want to know the story behind the figures--you're in luck! Bill will give a presentation at our quarterly meeting on Saturday, July 13.  Each doll represents one of Bill's ancestors. His family includes veterans of every war except Vietnam, starting with Rogers' Rangers. Bill himself is a Korean War veteran.

As always, the meeting begins at 1 p.m., but all are invited to bring your own lunch and come at noon for socializing. RSVP is appreciated: please register online to let us know how many are coming. Note that the CGS Library will be closed to researchers from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on this day.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

03 July 2019

Our Library Collections: South Carolina

One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

South Carolina research guide published by
NGS. We have NGS guides for several states.
Ah, I have finally gotten to one of "my" states – my second great-grandmother Joanna Gaines is from Abbeville, South Carolina. The section starts with two sets of journals. The South Carolina Historical Magazine begins in 1955 and continues through 1982. The Carolina Herald and Newsletter begins with the September 1998 issue and continues through 2018. There are three additional sets of journals lower on the shelves.

One source I’ve seen in other states but not yet written about is the research guide from the National Genealogical Society. The one for South Carolina was written by Janis Walker Gilmore in 2011. These booklets follow a similar structure for each state. They are a good guide for where to find records. The preface of this particular copy begins, “Many genealogists find research in South Carolina daunting. Sometimes referred to as 'the black hole' of genealogical research.” I can confirm this statement. Abbeville is where the Civil War officially began and ended so for my ancestors the black hole is particularly deep. The reference includes a history of the state, information on where to find archives, libraries and societies and all sorts of records.

We have at least fourteen books for South Carolina marriages plus many other books of other compiled records. There is a Who’s Who in South Carolina 1934-1935 that lists five Gaines but none that are related to my Gaines. I did find a William Waller in Heads of Families First Census of the United States–1790 South Carolina. This could be one of the sixteen William Wallers in my database but I won’t try to figure out which one right now.
This book by Willie Pauline Young
helped knock down one of my personal
brick walls
I was pleased to see Abstracts of Old Ninety-Six and Abbeville District Wills and Bonds by Willie Pauline Young on our shelves. During my travels I found several genealogical books by Ms. Young and they are all excellent. This book helped me break down some of my brick walls so I know it is a great source. One of the opening pages offers this quote, “without genealogy, the study of history is comparatively lifeless.” --John Fiske.
Martha Wardlaw Hill-a possible family connection-
in Presbyterian Women of South Carolina
I was also glad to find Presbyterian Women of South Carolina by Margaret Adams Gist – not because I expected to find any ancestors chronicled in the dense tome but because it is always nice to find a book that acknowledges the existence of women and their role in history. This is a substantial book with over 770 pages. I suspect it has much to offer so I will come back to it later.
This book contains the 1790 census for
South Carolina

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

02 July 2019

"Discovering Your German Roots" July 11, 18, 25

July is sizzling with lots of exciting classes and events! Today, we look at a FREE class that will be of special interest to those with German heritage: "Discovering Your German Roots: The Great Migration, 1815-1914."

Longtime favorite Robert Jackson leads this three-part course, which looks at the large German migration from the early nineteenth to the early twentieth century. As he explains, "More than twenty percent of all Americans claim primarily German descent, and many more have at least one German ancestor. It continues to be the largest single ethnic component of the American population.

"To the delight of their descendants, the documentary sources available in Germany, many of them now available in the U.S. on line and on microfilm, facilitate the assembly of family trees of great age and depth, often back to the 1500s, even for simple peasant stock (which includes nearly all of us). It is not unusual for the documented family tree of one German immigrant to contain as many as 300 ancestors."

The class runs July 11, 18, and 25, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the CGS Library.  It is free to all, but limited to 30 people. Please register HERE to save your place.

All our Events can be found listed on the CGS Facebook page
or on our website:
or at (search for California Genealogical Society)

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

28 June 2019

July events! Building Skills for Successful Family History Research

It's almost July! If you haven't taken a look at our summer classes and events, you may be surprised at the breadth and depth of our offerings. Over the next few days, we'll take a closer look at some of these upcoming opportunities.

One course offering that is sure to appeal to many members (or non-members interested in genealogy) is Pamela Brett's 4-part course, "Building Skills for Successful Family History Research."

Held Wednesday evenings at the beautiful Oakland Family Search Library (by the Mormon Temple) it begins July 10 and continues through the month of July.

Who can benefit from this "building skills" class? Well, almost anyone. If you've started doing family research but feel like you've exhausted every resource available, or if you find yourself revisiting the same problems over and over again, Pamela will cut to the chase, teaching these six key research skills:
  • Determining which kinds of records to look for
  • Identifying where to find these records
  • Documenting the sources of your information
  • Assessing the reliability of the records you found
  • Analyzing the results of your research
  • Making a solid case for your research conclusions
Through group exercises and (optional) homework assignments, Pamela will lead students through a process that helps you stop wasting time on fruitless searches and build a firm foundation for continued research. The course is suited to beginners, too. At just $100 for four classes, that's a bargain at $25 a class! Fee for nonmembers is $140, with $40 credited toward CGS membership.

Class is limited to 15 people, so sign up now! You can take a quiz to see if this class is for you, read more about it, and register at EventBrite.

Stay tuned for more exciting news!

All our Events can be found listed on the CGS Facebook page
or on our website:
or at (search for California Genealogical Society)

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

26 June 2019

Our Library Collections: Rhode Island

One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

An example of a four-generation tree from
Ancestral Dictionary
You will find our Rhode Island books shelved in F76 through F90. The section starts with five volumes of Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England by John Russell Bartlett, published in 1861. It covers thirteen years of history from 1757 to 1769. I sure hope I find a similar set of books when I get to Tennessee and Virginia, where my farming ancestors are from. It includes several original letters from the key participants in the conflicts between the colonists and French. Each volume has an index.

We have twenty-one volumes of Vital Records of Rhode Island 1638-1850 compiled by James N. Arnold and published in 1891. Each book covers a different set of counties. The preface of volume one offers an apology for the record not being complete, and an explanation that the fault lies with our ancestors for not having “placed the items upon the Town Records.” Arnold estimates that not more than a quarter of what should have been placed there exists for the period 1790 to 1850. That said, these volumes contain a wealth of data that may be just what you’ve been looking for.

The next little gem is Ancestral Dictionary edited by John Osborne Austin, published in Providence in 1891. This book consists entirely of tiny family trees for sixty-four individuals. Each page presents a four-generation family tree with names, birth and death dates, some location data and some titles. Anyone who is starting their research will be thrilled to discover this book.
One of the engraved portraits from Representative
Men and Old Families of Rhode Island
Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island (1908-1912) is covered in six large volumes. These books were donated by Charles Francis Griffin and are similar to many other biographical books the library houses. They provide lengthy written biographies and beautifully rendered engravings of many of the men profiled with their signature.

The Book of Rhode Island is from the Dorman collection. It was published in 1930 by several state business associations and includes biographies, a history, maps, photos of historic houses and civic buildings, information on local businesses and towns, and much more. It is very well illustrated but lacks a table of contents or index. The book features a lot of industrial plants and is really quite fascinating There is even a photo of a nicely-designed aeration plant of the Providence Water Supply at Scituate.
One of many images about the industries of Rhode Island
from The Book of Rhode Island
The final book I selected was Churches in Rhode Island by Henry Jackson (1854). This is a charming little book that has been lovingly housed in one of Bill O’Neil’s beautiful handmade boxes. The contents are a report by Rev. Henry Jackson at the twenty-eighth annual session of the Baptist State Convention. He visited each Baptist church in their organization and reported on what he found in this book.
First Presbyterian Meeting House of Rhode Island

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society