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29 August 2008

National Institute on Genealogical Research

Two CGS board members attended last month's National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR), an intensive program at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington D.C. According to the NIGR Web site, this year's program focused on "commonly used immigration, military, land, cartographic, African-American, and non-population census records." In addition to the core lectures and presentations, the program includes one day at Archives II in College Park, Maryland, and optional evening sessions at the Library of Congress (LOC) and the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library.

CGS News editor, Jane Hufft, sent this report:

It was a great six days – absolutely exhausting, I might add, because of the heat, the distance between NARA and the hotel, the time change, and the daunting schedule of classes and field trips. Our plane was delayed six hours in Pittsburgh and we arrived after midnight EDT having risen that morning on California time at 4:00 a.m. Were I to do it again I would go one or two days early, stay one day after, and have my own laptop as the hotel charged hugely for access to their computers. You are expected to be able to manage in DC on your own for transportation and meals and they did not do much shepherding, partly because a number of people are local. Walking shoes, cash, and sun gear are mandatory, and I wished I had a small rolling backpack for the daily trek.

The classes are impressive and well-organized – NIGR goes all out to get the best people who lecture on specialized areas of NARA holdings. Attendees are provided with a binder containing notes and outlines on the lectures, with bibliographies and references. Class members are expected to have some genuine experience in genealogy – half of those in the group were professionals, the other half long time dedicated researchers who brought a variety of backgrounds to the class of about forty. It's not for beginners. Once you have completed the week, you are set to dive into the holdings of three of the premier facilities in DC. As part of the process we obtained readers' cards at both NARA and LOC. (The security process is long and tedious at both places for exit and entry – not for the impatient.) I felt at the end that I finally understood what NARA has, does, and can offer to a researcher.

Jane Hufft at the DAR Library, Washington D.C.

I had never been to the DAR library, so the half day there was like a few minutes in a candy shop. There was a field trip to Archives II in Maryland – the behind-the-scenes tour of this new, beautiful facility that is the second largest federal building in the U.S. was breathtaking – we saw the modern, rolling, closed stacks and had a tour of the conservation floor, where we were face to face with Washington's farewell address, yellowed and so readable in his clear handwriting, which is being conserved, and saw how five wallets from Confederate soldiers are being protected in a specially constructed hand-made box so that researchers can see them and access copies of what the wallets contained when they were found. It was a fabulous experience from start to finish.

Jane Hufft is the editor of the CGS News and serves on the board and the publications committee. Diving into such a demanding program comes naturally to Jane who has thirty-six years of experience in education as a teacher, project manager and administrator.

Next year's National Institute on Genealogical Research will be held July 12-17, 2009.

Photograph courtesy of Lavinia Grace Schwarz.

28 August 2008

Brainstorming Breakfast Bonanza!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
California Genealogical Society Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2
Oakland, California 94612

Continental Breakfast 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
Work session 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Please join CGS President Jane Lindsey, Events Chair Carolyn Steinberg and Marketing Chair Kathryn Doyle for a fun and fast-paced brainstorming session to gather ideas for 2009 and beyond.

What are the topics, programs and projects that are important to you? Do you have ideas for fund raising or publicity? Can you help bring new technology like podcasting to the society? Have you always wanted to make a suggestion but you hesitated? Now is your chance to be heard!

Bring your best ideas and be prepared to contribute! All ideas are welcome!

A light continental breakfast will be served. Feel free to BYO lunch to stay and do some research or continue the conversation.

Can't make the meeting? Please leave a comment below or e-mail your suggestions by Monday, September 15, 2008, and we will present them at the meeting for you.

Photograph courtesy of Scott Beveridge.

27 August 2008

Wordless Wednesday

California Genealogical Society French Canadian Group
Saturday, May 10, 2008

Seated: Lorna Jones and Al Riel. Standing: Marybeth Frederick, Tom Gesner, Lynn Theuriet , Jane Lindsey, Bill O'Neil. (David Lowndes was behind the camera.)

Photograph courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey.

26 August 2008

Tuesday Tales From the Road - Washington D.C.

CGS member Mary Mettler is still on the road. This is her fifth installment:

We finished up our wonderful week at the beach to celebrate my sister-in-law's 90th birthday. The weather was great, and her birthday party turned out to be a grand blast with about 50 or 60 people. I stopped in Bealeton, Virginia for my niece's 46th birthday and headed to Washington, D.C. to stay with friends, Sadye and Mel Doxie. The genealogy goal was to spend two days at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library and do a bit of sightseeing on the third day.

The DAR Library is a worthwhile stop for genealogists. I was disappointed that not much information was in my various Patriots' files. In the "old" days, the DAR genealogists either sent the supporting information back to the applicant or threw it away! Gasp! Recently, however, the Library has scanned everything; and all applications and supporting documents are available on computer terminals at the Library. For older Patriots, the best I could do was to go through each application for a Patriot and look for the sources of their information. I found this to be quite tedious!

The second day I used the computer lookups for a number of my ancestors, both Patriots and non-Patriots, and found quite a number of information sources. I also browsed their very extensive book collections and found some, which are not at the Family History Library, including a very interesting Revolutionary War diary of a distant cousin, Amos Farnsworth. He fought at Bunker Hill and in several other battles. I did have a fun surprise for the second day, as Henriette Gordon, a San Francisco DAR friend joined me at the Library.

Mary Mettler and Eleanor Roosevelt

The last day in Washington, D.C., Sadye and I toured all the new monuments that have been built since I lived there (1960 - 1963). I was most impressed with the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The Wall is amazingly emotional and seemed to have the biggest crowds. Washington, D.C. is very beautiful and should be on all of your agendas for a visit if you haven't been recently. I am at my nephew's in Ellicott City, Maryland. We just got back from seeing Mama Mia - great fun! You didn't think this was all work, did you?

Mary and FDR

I am going to add one more item to my itinerary. My grandnephew, Stephen Schnorf, is in the midst of CBT (Cadet Basic Training) for incoming freshmen at the United States Military Academy at West Point. August 24th is A-Day (Acceptance Day) where they will march and join the rest of the Corps of Cadets. By shaving part of a day in Dorset, Vermont, I will be able to join his family in watching this exciting event. Well, that's the latest from the Road. Next week begins several weeks of solid genealogy, starting in Suffield, Connecticut.

From Your Roving Reporter,

Photographs courtesy of Mary Mettler.

Read the entire series:
Part One: Salt Lake City
Part Two: Indiana
Part Three: Pennsylvania
Part Four: More From Pennsylvania
Part Five: Washington D.C.
Part Six: Suffield, Connecticut
Part Seven: Vermont
Part Eight: Dorset, Vermont
Part Nine: West Point and Back to Pennsylvania
Part Ten: Some Final Thoughts From Home

25 August 2008

Today Show Looks Back: Discovering Their Roots

Sometimes there's an advantage being three hours behind the East Coast. This morning as I reviewed feed from the genealogy blogs, I read Maureen Taylor's post Today Show News about how she missed hearing and seeing the acknowledgment she received on the show. I was able to turn on the television in time for the broadcast's second hour and see the 13-minute segment on host Meredith Vieira's Azorian roots and her trip this summer to learn about her family.

The segment was the first of a week-long series "Today Looks Back: Discovering Our Roots." Tomorrow's piece is a look at Matt Lauer's ancestry. Later this week Al Roker will visit the Bahamas to learn about his family and Ann Curry will look at her Japanese roots.

You can view today's piece in its entirety on the Today Show Web site:

The Peralta Project

The California Genealogical Society has embarked on an ambitious new project with The Peralta Hacienda Historical Park. The six-acre park, in the Fruitvale district of Oakland, includes the restored 1870 home of Antonio Peralta and preserves the lost legacy of the 44,800-acre Peralta rancho that once covered nearly all of present-day Alameda County. The park site is a city and state landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Chris Pattillo, principal of the landscape firm, PGA Design, has been working with the Friends of Peralta Hacienda on the implementation of the landscape masterplan for the last three years. Chris also sits on the CGS board of directors, so when she learned the next phase of the renovation project included a Peralta family tree, she knew it was time to marry two of her pet projects. Pattillo arranged for Holly Alonso, Executive Director of the Park, to visit the California Genealogical Society and the alliance was born.

Graphic artist Gordan Chan has been commissioned to create the large wall mural featuring the Peralta family tree. The work of art will reside in the 1864 Victorian building on the site and is to be an accurate depiction of some of the genealogy of the family.

Lavinia Grace Schwarz agreed to coordinate the team of CGS volunteers who stepped forward to tackle the enormous project. Judy Bodycote has contributed countless hours of research time and is in charge of creating the database. Dick Rees and Marilyn Willats concentrated on some of the well-known "celebrity" descendants. Some preliminary work was done by Arlene Miles and Verne Deubler.

I'll have lots more to report on the project in the coming weeks.

23 August 2008

Baby Samuel: Some Answers, More Questions

A team of researchers at the California Genealogical Society joined forces this week to give Elizabeth O'Neal some new information in her quest to solve The Mystery of Baby Samuel. In just a couple of days Dick Rees, Laura Spurrier and Lavinia Schwarz found several new leads for her to pursue.

As with any genealogical research, answers often reveal more questions, and this is certainly the case with the information found in the Danish work previously described.

The Danske I California og California Historie contained two biographies of interest. This is Laura's translation:

Brothers Jens and Peter Nielsen, born in Udby Sogn, Holbæk Amt, came to California in the 1860s. They worked in the gold mines, and Peter Nielsen for a while ran a rooming house in San Francisco. They last resided in Kansas where they homesteaded. Two grandnephews, brothers Ejlert and Lars Mortensen, live in Riverside, California.
Mrs. Samuel K. Swartz (Inger Anna Nielsen), sister of the previously mentioned Nielsen brothers, came to San Francisco in 1906. She was president of the "Zion" society, under the auspices of the Ansgar Church, and she also active in the Danish Ladies' Aid Society.
Dick Rees visited the San Francisco Public Library and pulled microfilm in the Herb Caen Magazines and Newspapers Center to look for obituaries. He was unable to find one for Samuel K. Sr. but he did find this:

The Rees-Spurrier-Schwarz team all expressed some concern about the apparent age difference between Inger and her elder brothers. Dick's comment was "I found it interesting that the brothers Nielsen arrived in the 1860s and sister Inger wasn't even born until 1883. I'm hoping Father Nielsen had at least two wives!"
Vinnie commented on a problem that Elizabeth already discussed, "Inger's age and Samuel's birthdate, as well as daughter Irene's birthdate don't add up well. Sam is a late baby, but possible. Irene's birthplace seems off." The married name for Irene in the obituary provides some new clues.

Laura offered this:

Danske i California, though very, very useful, is not infallible in my opinion. I would look for the dates of naturalization for Jens and Peter in the 1890 Great Register of California, then find their naturalization papers. I'd also try to find their ages at death. I would try to find Inger's own immigration records and her marriage record. The records of St. Ansgar Lutheran Church in San Francisco should be checked. Raking the Ashes states that St. Ansgar merged into St. Francis Lutheran Church but doesn't say if the records are extant. If Inger didn't reach San Francisco until after the '06 quake, relevant records might still be there -- certainly the record of her funeral if she remained a member. Inger may have been a daughter or niece of one of the Nielsen brothers, not a sister. Another possibility is that Inger was the grandmother of Baby Samuel and the records were fudged in order to cover up an illegitimate birth. Sources in Denmark, may shed some light too.
We all wish Elizabeth much luck if she chooses to continue her research of Baby Samuel's family. Happy birthday, Elizabeth!


1. Sophus Hartwick, Danske I California og California Historie: Beretninger om de Danskes liv og Virke Fra de Tidligste Pioner Dage [Danes In California and California History, a Report on Danish Life and Work from the Earliest Pioneer Days], 2 volumes, San Francisco, 1939, p. 658. Chapters in the work are arranged by county. The Nielson Brothers biography appears in the Los Angeles County chapter, translated by Laura J. Spurrier, M.L.S.

2. Sophus Hartwick, Danske I California. p. 840. Inger Swartz's biography appears in the chapter on San Francisco.

3. Inger A. Swartz Obituary, San Francisco Chronicle, microfilm, Monday, 28 May 1973.

Part 1: Baby Samuel: A Few More Clues About Mom

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

20 August 2008

Wordless Wednesday

California Genealogical Society Membership Committee
Sandy Fryer and Nancy Hart Servin
(Not shown: Anne Cyr)

Photograph by Kathryn M. Doyle, July 15, 2008.

19 August 2008

Tuesday Tales From the Road - More from Pennsylvania

CGS member Mary Mettler is still on the road. Here is installment four from Mary, still on her dream genealogy tour:

We were successful in finding both of my Patriots' graves. Capt John Lamb and his family were in the Silver Springs Church graveyard and were in great condition. Capt William Scott and his two wives were in the Old Graveyard in Carlisle. I could read the William on his stone, but I will have to accept the 1898 reading on them. Both were marked as Revolutionary War soldiers, even through William was not listed on a monument created by the DAR around 1930. Interestingly, the flags and markers were all brand new in the Old Graveyard in Carlisle. I think they must have been replaced this year sometime.

Capt. John and Hannah Lamb gravestone

Okay, now on to some interesting stuff! I learned one very valuable lesson at the Cumberland County Historical Society! I had taken transcriptions and abstracts on baptisms, marriages, probate, etc. on faith and assumed they were accurate generally. When I have time and access, I do try to find the original documents. There was a book of transcriptions of the baptisms at Silver Springs Church that began about 1813. I found the baptism of my second great grandparents, William and Margaret Lamb's first child, John (John Lamb's grandchild). The originals were not cataloged any place I could find. When I was searching a microfilm that contained the minutes of the Trustees of the Silver Springs Church (John Lamb was President of the Trustees for 7 years), one of the first things on the film was the original book of baptism listings! It was not mentioned on the outside of the microfilm nor in their catalog! Well, all eight of their children were baptized in the Church! I would estimate that the person transcribing the baptisms transcribed only a third of them! So, everyone, please find the original documents if you can.

My nephew, Dave and I spent 5 days at the Cumberland County Historical Society and the Carlisle Court House and retrieved the administrative probate and orphan's court records for John Lamb and William Scott and their fathers, Samuel Lamb and John Scott. I was astonished to find that William and Margaret Scott had 8 children, not just the four that Margaret listed in her pension application. Again, a major reason that we should look at all available original records! The land records overwhelmed us, as I spent two days just identifying abstracts and grantor/grantee records. I located and copied only a few of the 25 different land records. A friend and beginning genealogist once asked me why it was necessary to go to my ancestors' home territories. The above gives you some reasons.

Mary Metter and nephew Dave Mettler

I wanted to share two other very interesting finds. We found a letter from Adam Richey, the brother of Hannah Richey Lamb (John Lamb's widow) to Hannah. It was written in Indiana three days before her death in Pennsylvania. It contained names of their brothers and sisters and also indicated that Hannah probably was not educated. Her brother asked her to find someone to write a letter for her to him. The letter seems to indicate they had not corresponded for a long time, as her brother, Adam told her how many children he had. I think it is spooky that he decided to write her a letter just before she died! Another great find, which you would not find any place else was a thick ledger of all revenues and expenses of John Lamb's properties. It turned out that he was quite wealthy with one large tract of land with two houses on it and another with one house. We poured over these ledgers! They grew rye and wheat and hired workers to thresh them at $1 to $2 per month. One son, James Richey Lamb stayed to help run the properties for his widowed mother. There is an entry that he took five days off "to go sleighing." One other particularly interesting group of entries was the purchase of 150 - 250 pounds of pork and around 150 pounds of beef in mid-December every year. It did not identify the reason for these large purchases, but we thought the most likely reason was to donate these to the Silver Springs Church for distribution for Christmas. The amounts seem to be too great for a large family Christmas Party or even to distribute among all the people who worked for the Lambs over the year. We probably will never know the answer.

We found lots more stuff, but I don't want to send you a book! We are now at a big family reunion at a beach house in Virginia Beach. The weather has been terrific, and we hope it holds for the big 90th birthday party for my sister-in-law on Tuesday. We have 18 family members here and will have around 50 friends join us for the party.

From Your Roving Reporter,

Photographs courtesy of Mary Mettler.

Read the entire series:
Part One: Salt Lake City
Part Two: Indiana
Part Three: Pennsylvania
Part Four: More From Pennsylvania
Part Five: Washington D.C.
Part Six: Suffield, Connecticut
Part Seven: Vermont
Part Eight: Dorset, Vermont
Part Nine: West Point and Back to Pennsylvania
Part Ten: Some Final Thoughts From Home

18 August 2008

CGS News - September 2008

The September 2008 issue of the CGS News, Volume XXXIX, No. 5, should be arriving in members' mailboxes this week and its eight pages are full of news and information:

• Membership Meeting - Best Bet Web Sites - page 1
• Beyond the CGS Electronic Catalog - page 2
• New Digital Publications & Resources - page 3
• Family History Month Classes - page 4
• Lots and Lots of New Books! - page 5-6
• New Members Welcome - page 7
• Calendar of Events - page 8

The CGS News, edited by Jane Hufft and produced by Lois Elling, is published six times a year by the California Genealogical Society. An annual subscription to the bimonthly newsletter is included in a society membership ($35 per year). For membership information, visit the CGS Web site.

15 August 2008

Feedback From "Hints on Publishing Your Family History"

Altogether, twenty-one potential authors attended last Saturday's "Hints on Publishing Your Family History" workshop presented by Shirley Pugh Thomson and Matthew Berry. Past-president, Rick Sherman, shared these comments, "I thought the publishing workshop was outstanding. I bought myself a Chicago Manual of Style that very afternoon! I was especially impressed by the good "cast chemistry" among the speakers, and by the good behavior of the audience. There were lots of valuable contributions from the audience, but no one tried to take over the session."

Shirley sent this: ""For my part, Saturday was quite a surprising day. First, I found it very hard to believe that such a large number of interested people wanted to come out for our workshop on a fine weekend day. Then, there was the high level of interest! Those writers and researchers were interested in all aspects of the process to convert good research and writing to printed and bound pages of a book. The participants, it seems, were all historians and genealogists determined to see their research, their families’ histories, their loved ones’ memoirs and papers or other writings preserved in publications to be made available to a wider family circle or to the public. The many wide-ranging questions indicated serious plans were already being considered."

Matt said "For me, Saturday’s event was my first time participating in a CGS event and I had a wonderful time meeting and talking to people. I was happy to see so many people attending and asking great questions. I am now looking forward to participating in other CGS events."

14 August 2008

Yellow Fever in New Orleans

So what does a jaundice-producing, tropical viral illness have to do with California genealogy? Nothing, unless you happen to be an industrious Bay Area genealogist who just published her first article in the The Louisiana Genealogical Register.

CGS member Jennifer J. Regan got interested in yellow fever while researching her husband's Louisiana roots. As Regan put it, "I realized I knew little to nothing about the disease, and knowing something about it, and how it affected society, seemed interesting to me."

"Yellow Fever in New Orleans," is a thorough analysis of the social implications of the dreaded "Yellow Jack." Regan doesn't spare her readers any of the gruesome details of "life under yellow fever" and she doesn't shy away from a discussion of the role that racism and classism played in nineteenth century perceptions of the disease.

Jennifer Jones Regan, who admits to being "hooked on the Internet and the vastness of its potential," is the owner of Rainy Day Research, "a family history and genealogy service located in the San Francisco Bay Area" and the accompanying blog, Rainy Day Genealogy Readings. She is married and the mother of a toddler.

The Summer 2008 issue of the Louisiana Genealogical Register, published by the Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Society, is currently on display in the reading room at the California Genealogical Society Library. I hope you will stop by and have a good read.


Any genealogist researching in the delta area of Louisiana, particularly in New Orleans and its outlying communities, will benefit from a greater understanding of yellow fever. Summertime outbreaks of the pernicious "Yellow Jack" were a fact of life for early Louisiana inhabitants, and spates of the disease, when they occurred, often had monumental consequences for our ancestors. Consideration of the disease also brings to light particular social and economic realities of urban life in the South before and after the Civil War, further illuminating our understanding of the past. This article outlines a brief history of the disease, explores what an outbreak of yellow fever was really like for those who experienced it, then goes on to discuss some social dimensions of this disease, noting some specific implications for genealogical researchers.

Jennifer J. Regan, "Yellow Fever in New Orleans," Louisiana Genealogical Register, volume LV, number 1, Summer 2008, pages 87-93.

13 August 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Workshop: Hints on Publishing Your Family History
California Genealogical Society Library
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Shirley Pugh Thomson and Matthew B. Berry

Photographs courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey.

12 August 2008

Tuesday Tales From the Road - Pennsylvania

CGS member Mary Mettler is still on the road. Installment number three includes photographs:

Pennsylvania just drives me nuts! What I would do for birth, death, baptism, marriage and decent military records! I spent 4 days in the Lancaster County Historical Society in a vain attempt to find Capt William Scott's parents. I used wills, land records and Orphan's Court records to build all the Scott families and managed to eliminate all the Williams. I had a great lead in that Capt William Scott, Abraham's nephew was one of two executors. Drat! I went to the will and no Capt Wm Scott! He also has a cousin, John. Well, every Scott family starts out with the first two sons named William and John!

Kevin Shue, the great genealogist at LCHS really got into it and was phoning his friends in the Archives in Harrisburg, all to no avail. The pension application did say he was "living" in Lancaster County at the time of the Rev War, so perhaps he was born elsewhere. Even though I am depressed, I perked up today as I looked at my findings. I did get quite a bit of information on his first wife and her family, so all was not lost. It did underline for me why I always want to have a few "sure things" to help out, when things are tough.

Kevin Shue and Mary, courtesy of Mary Mettler.

I drove over to Carlisle on Saturday and took a first swing through the Old Graveyard where William Scott and his two wives were buried, when the gravestones were read in 1898. He is not on their Rev War list (not too surprising, as his service was in Lancaster County not Cumberland County), so no nice marker. I searched for an hour until the spiders started crawling up my pant legs! I'll wait for my nephew, Dave's arrival tomorrow, as he is always lucky with graves. Also the Cumberland County Historical Society will be open, and maybe they have a map of the graveyard. The recent book which published the 1898 readings said that many of the stones have disappeared or been relocated. More frustration? We will also drive toward Mechanicsburg to find the graves of Capt John Lamb, my first Patriot. At least I know there are probate and land records for John Lamb and his father, Samuel Lamb. Hopefully, William Scott will have some, too! Oh well, no one said it was easy all the time!

BTW, I had a nice 4th of July weekend in Akron, Ohio with two sisters. A niece and her daughter came down from Cleveland, and we had ribs and watched the fireworks. I stayed Monday to have lunch with three high school friends. And, the weather has been pretty good! Very little rain and not too hot - have gotten all my morning runs in. I did take time to see President Buchanan's home in Lancaster, as it was right next door to LCHS. And Molly Pitcher is buried in the Old Graveyard in Carlisle. I learned she got her nickname from the pitcher of water she always carried while she nursed the troops.

Mary Pitcher monument, courtesy of Mary Mettler.

I miss not having you guys to discuss genealogy issues with. I'll be glad to see Dave tomorrow, but we won't have enough time to cover everything. We have CCHS, the town records, the Harrisburg Archives and the Carlisle Military Institute to cover, as well as the graveyards. I'm afraid I will have to stop again on my way home. Oh, and neither Lancaster nor Carlisle Hist Soc will let me use my scanner! They charge 50 cents a copy, and I think they want the revenue. I offered to pay them that amount for each page I scanned but no deal. No problem in Illinois or SLC. Kent Memorial Library in Suffield has said okay, too. Bummers in PA!

From your roving reporter,

Read the entire series:
Part One: Salt Lake City
Part Two: Indiana
Part Three: Pennsylvania
Part Four: More From Pennsylvania
Part Five: Washington D.C.
Part Six: Suffield, Connecticut
Part Seven: Vermont
Part Eight: Dorset, Vermont
Part Nine: West Point and Back to Pennsylvania
Part Ten: Some Final Thoughts From Home

11 August 2008

Honored at Alltop

Featured in Alltop
The California Genealogy Society and Library blog is honored to be among the top genealogy blogs listed on the new blog news site,

Guy Kawasaki (of Apple® fame) announced the creation of Alltop in March of this year calling it "an online magazine rack that displays the news from the top publications and blogs."

New categories are continually being added but it wasn't until this month that "genealogy" was included. It seems that the footnote Maven made the request and now the genealogical community has its own page. So, thanks fM, and thank you to Alltop for including the CGSL blog on this one-stop-shopping site for genealogy news. Check it out at

10 August 2008

A Photograph of Bygone Days

There is one rather distinctive photograph that you can't help notice when you pay a visit to the California Genealogical Society and Library. Antique autos and a streetcar with its network of overhead wires tell you right away that this is a scene from a different era. And while time has marched forward some seventy-eight years since the image was created, the bustling Oakland street corner in the photo is in fact the same one on which the CGS library now stands. The photograph shows the large signs that shield the construction site from passersby and announce "Ready October 1st" and "New 8 Story Home of Breuner's!".

To be precise, the photograph isn't actually inside the library, but is displayed in the hall just outside the entrance to the society suite. And though the story it tells is pertinent to its placement, what makes this particular photograph special is its size.

The blown-up photograph is a wall mural in the hall beside the elevators on the "lower level" of the Breuner Building. It serves as an impressive welcome to visitors to the basement location of the society.

The California Genealogical Society moved to its present location in the historic Breuner Building in March of 2007. At the time, Annalee Allen, well-known Oakland Tribune historical landmark columnist, program coordinator of the Downtown Oakland Walking Tours and author of Oakland Postcard History and Selections from the Oakland Tribune Archives, reported:

The society's new home is an eight-story reinforced concrete building with a distinctive variegated sea-green glazed terra cotta front facade, constructed in 1931 to house the John Breuner Company Furniture Store. Other noteworthy features of the building include Art Deco motifs, and a pair of stylized figures crafting a chair located over the front entrance. Locally prominent architect Albert Roller designed the structure, according to history files.
The Breuner's Furnishings Web site states that the company pioneer was a German cabinetmaker turned gold miner, who "founded the company in 1856 in Sacramento, California when he realized selling to gold miners was more lucrative than mining gold for himself." The company expanded and opened stores in San Francisco and Oakland. According to Allen,
Several decades later, Breuner's sons Louis and John Jr. moved operations to 22nd and Broadway -- despite the onset of the Great Depression -- to join fellow retailers H.C. Capwell and I. Magnin, and the grand and elegant Paramount and Fox Oakland movie palaces, records show. By the 1950s there were seven stores in the Breuner chain, in Stockton, Richmond, Berkeley and Vallejo. In the 1970s, the Oakland flagship store on Broadway was closed and sold off. It later underwent a major renovation by new owners and reopened as commercial offices in the late '70s. For the time, it was considered an innovative adaptive reuse.

Today a flag pole sits atop the building instead of the large neon "Breuners" sign. The only reminder of days past is the large mural photograph on the wall outside CGS.

1. Wall mural photographs, Breuner Building, Oakland, California, Kathryn M. Doyle, 31 July 2008.
2. Annalee Allen, Historical Building to House Society, Oakland Tribune, April 22, 2007, Accessed at, 08/08/2008. Update Link broken; Accessed at NewsModo 3/3/2010.
3. Exterior photographs and illustration, The Breuner Building, digital images, e-mail from Christopher C. Curtis, Metrovation Brokerage, Oakland, California.
4. Annalee Allen, Genealogical Society Marks 110 Years of Researching Family, Oakland Tribune, Feb 24, 2008, Accessed at, 08/08/2008.
5. Breuners Company History, The Breuners Home Furnishings Web site, Accessed 08/10/2008.

Written for the Fourth Edition of Smile For The Camera ~ A Carnival of Images which takes its word prompt from the Ace of Hearts. I Smile for the Camera

07 August 2008

This and That: Bits of News and Information

If you were thinking about attending the workshop this weekend but hadn't made a reservation yet, don't bother calling. The Hints on Publishing Your Family History workshop is sold out. Maybe we can convince Shirley, Matt and Jane to do a repeat performance next year. Or better yet, is there someone out there who could help the society get set up to do podcasts?


Speaking of podcasts, Susan Goss Johnston, one of the speakers at the upcoming L-AGS American Military Research Seminar was a guest on Dear Myrtle's Family History Hour August 5, 2008 podcast. Ol' Myrt wanted the interview when she learned that Susan will be discussing known surviving military record groups -- what is online and what is not. DearMyrtle's detailed show notes includes links to the sites discussed and this:

Susan has advised students to print out and bring with them, An Overview of Records at the National Archives Relating to Military Service by Trevor K. Plante (Prologue Fall 20002, Vol. 34, No. 3). Susan feels this article is an excellent starting point for researchers.


As predicted by Rose Pierson of FamilySearch Indexing, the first portion of the San Francisco Mortuary Records project is complete. Rose reports that they are working hard to get the second set of images from twenty-nine rolls of microfilmed registers ready to be indexed. These are a bit more complicated to set up but they include the eagerly anticipated early ledgers from the 1860s.


The San Luis Obispo Tribune ran an article last Saturday about Camp Roberts, named for San Francisco native and Medal of Honor winner, Corporal Harold Roberts. The California Genealogical Society and Library got a mention in the paper's August 2, 2008 article, Camp Roberts Mystery: Who's the Man Behind Post's Name?

06 August 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Then and Now

California Genealogical Society President Jane Lindsey is "big sister" to five younger brothers. It's where she got her training to be CGS "Mother Hen."

Photographs courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey.

05 August 2008

Tuesday Tales From the Road - Indiana

CGS member Mary Mettler is still on the road. This is her second installment:

The trip is going great! I'm in Fremont, Indiana tonight and will get my first rain and maybe big hail, according to the forecast. My car won't like "big hail" or even "little hail" for that matter. I'll be staying with my sisters in Akron and seeing my niece and grandniece and having lunch with some high school friends over the 4th of July weekend.

Cynthia, I forgot the name of your little hometown in Iowa, so I waved at all the towns! I didn't see a lot of flood damage - just low parts of fields and runoff channels down the hills of corn.

Yesterday, I drove 20 miles along the Mississippi from Rock Island, Illinois to Cordova, Illinois where my 2nd great grandparents are buried. It was a gorgeous cemetery with trees and was very well maintained. Quite a number of the graves had flowers on them. To my complete surprise, there was a potted plant beside my ancestors. I asked the maintenance man about it, and he said he found the pot very close to them and put it right beside them only 15 minutes before I arrived - pretty spooky!

This morning I ran across the Mississippi from Rock Island, IL to Davenport, Iowa and back. Can't say as I have ever run in two states in the same run! I crossed next to an island with an arsenal, where Confederate soldiers had been held during the Civil War and Germans and Italians in WWII. Yesterday, I'd been searching in the 1860's newspapers, and every day they listed the names of the Confederate soldiers who died there the day before. Quite often it was pneumonia, since blankets were a rare commodity. Then, there was a horrific small pox epidemic. We hear about Andersonville and the poor treatment of our Northern soldiers, but the winners write the history books. Thus, there is nothing about Rock Island and the poor confederates!

Please don't forget me! I'm homesick already!

From Your Roving Reporter,

Read the entire series:
Part One: Salt Lake City
Part Two: Indiana
Part Three: Pennsylvania
Part Four: More From Pennsylvania
Part Five: Washington D.C.
Part Six: Suffield, Connecticut
Part Seven: Vermont
Part Eight: Dorset, Vermont
Part Nine: West Point and Back to Pennsylvania
Part Ten: Some Final Thoughts From Home

04 August 2008

Workshop: Hints on Publishing Your Family History

Saturday, August 9, 2008
10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
CGS Library, 2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, California

There are still a few spaces left in this Saturday's workshop - "Hints on Publishing Your Family History" at the CGS Library.

At some point, it is time to put a stop to the research (at least temporarily) and create something tangible that can be passed down to the next generation.

Shirley Pugh Thomson, Matt Berry and Jane Knowles Lindsey are ready to share their experience and help you explore the options available, including newer non-traditional, online methods, such as blogs. The CGS Library collection has scores of examples of traditionally published histories for you to peruse. Our panelists will choose a few so workshop attendees can see some prime examples.

Shirley Thompson, retired owner of Indices Publishing, will present two talks, "Skills Needed to Publish Your History" and "Mistakes to Avoid." Matt Berry will discuss his experience self-publishing using

The workshop day will include a lunch break so bring a brown bag. There is a nearby deli if you prefer buy a sandwich and bring it back to the library.

The workshop is free for CGS members but is limited to fifteen people. There will be a sign-up fee of $10 for non-members. (This fee can be applied toward membership on the day of the workshop.) There is a sign-up sheet at the CGS Library desk. Please call CGS at 510-663-1358 to reserve a space.

Photograph courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey.

01 August 2008

Update on San Francisco Mortuary Records Indexing

If you are interested in participating in the San Francisco Mortuary Records Indexing Project and you haven't signed up yet, you better get started because things are moving faster than anyone anticipated!

Rose Pierson of FamilySearch Indexing sent some updated statistics.

The project now has 3,975 batches (39,750 images). Each batch is indexed twice - "A" and "B" - an arbitrator will look again at a batch if the two indexers don't agree.

As of yesterday,

3,362 "A" batches complete - 84.58%
3,157 "B" batches complete - 79.42%
2042 Arbitrations complete - 51.37%

Rose thinks that at this rate, this portion of the project should be fully indexed sometime in August.

Next to be processed are the images from twenty-nine rolls of microfilmed mortuary registers. Included in these rolls are the records dating from the mid-1800s. These are a bit more complicated to set up for the indexing project since some of them are accounting records.

The bottom line is, if you want to participate, don't delay.

Arbitrators Needed: A Request from FamilySearch Indexing

We need your help! The number of batches being arbitrated is out of balance compared with the number of batches being indexed. Please spend as much time as possible doing arbitration, especially for the Washington State Deaths and Louisiana 1850-1954 Death Certificates projects. If the gap between the number of batches indexed and the number of batches arbitrated grows too large, indexing batches will not be assigned (even though they are available) until the arbitration numbers come back into balance. If you notice that a project is on the Download From… list, but the system states that there are no batches available to index, please download and submit arbitration batches as soon as possible for the same project. Arbitration is a vital step in ensuring a constant flow of data through the indexing pipeline. We sincerely appreciate your efforts.