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29 October 2010

Workshop: Heating Up Your Research with Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Saturday, December 11, 2010
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

California Genealogical Society and Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2
Oakland, California 94612

Join Dr. Melinda Kashuba for this informative workshop and learn how to use Sanborn fire insurance maps in your family history research.

Tracing urban ancestors can be challenging because of the mobility of city residents and the ever-changing nature of cities. Maps assist genealogists in not only locating physical addresses but also providing context for the lives of their family. Maps can provide details about the places where an ancestor lived, worked, worshiped, attended school, shopped, and recreated.

There are a number of map resources available to the researcher to help flesh out an urban ancestor’s life. The lecture portion of the workshop is designed to introduce you to fire insurance maps and what they can tell us about individual properties, neighborhoods as well as the development of cities during the 19th and 20th centuries in the United States and Canada. The workshop includes a participatory component where you will become familiar with the symbols used on fire insurance maps and have an opportunity to study examples of this phenomenal information source.

The workshop is FREE for CGS members but is limited to twenty people. Non-members fee is $20.00 (non-refundable) and can be applied towards membership on the day of the workshop. Preregistration is required. Walk-ins will not be admitted.

Register online.

Melinda Kashuba holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a popular lecturer and author of Walking with Your Ancestors: a Genealogist’s Guide to Using Maps and Geography (Family Tree Books, 2005) plus numerous articles in genealogical magazines and other publications. Her specialties include nineteenth and twentieth century American records and maps. She performs genealogical research for clients and can be reached at

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.

28 October 2010

On The Road to San Joaquin County

Thursday, November 18, 2010
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Cesar Chavez Central Library
605 North El Dorado Street
Stockton, CA 95202

Stone Creek Shopping Center
5757 Pacific Avenue (cross street is Robinhood Drive)
Stockton, CA 95207

It's time for another roadshow!

This time, California Genealogical Society members are invited to join with members of the San Joaquin Genealogical Society for networking and two presentations.


1:00 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.   Have You Been to the California Genealogical Society Library?
Past-President Jane Lindsey will present an overview of the outstanding resources at the CGS Library and share information about upcoming events and programs.

1:45 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Break. Refreshments will be served!

2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Some Brick Walls Are of Our Own Making
Lavinia Schwarz’s spell-binding talk will help you look at your own brick walls with new openness, ideas, strategies and historical insight.

"On the Road" get-togethers are a fun way to meet members in the target locale and are designed to help link neighbors who share an interest in genealogy. The programs are open to the public. If you live in the San Joaquin County, please join us!

The society gratefully acknowledges the assistance of famous geneablogger, Sheri Fenley. True to her blog name, The Educated Genealogist, Sheri made the arrangements for the program. She is a member of both societies as well as editor of the San Joaquin Genealogical Society newsletter.

Update! The venue has changed for this event. New location:

REI Meeting Room
Stone Creek Shopping Center
5757 Pacific Avenue (cross street is Robinhood Drive)
Stockton, CA 95207

GPS Coordinates [Hey, this is REI, after all!]
38° .124' N
121° 19.023' W

The meeting room is located in the rear of the store, upstairs.

RSVP online.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.

26 October 2010

Tuesday Tales: Cemeteries - Sometimes Places Neither Final Nor Restful

Just in time for Halloween, Mary's back with tales from some cemeteries.

I spent a Sunday “tombstone tripping” in Rhode Island, and the experience made me think of some of the things that can happen to ancestors’ remains after burial in cemeteries. In 2008, I went to the Old Cemetery in Suffield, Connecticut to find a number of tombstones. Unfortunately, the church had expanded right over the early Kent graves!  They were now buried under the church, and the tombstones were gone. I guess their early 1700s bones were dust by the time of the construction, but the situation was unsettling.

On this Sunday in Bristol, Rhode Island, I went to Juniper Hill Cemetery, one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever seen. It was located, as the name implied, on a gentle hill in a wood of juniper trees. You walk along and a cleared area of tombstones, usually all of one family, would appear. Two of my ancestral families were early settlers in Bristol and were founders of St. Michael’s Church and were buried there. The stones from St. Michael’s cemetery were moved to Juniper Hill, and some were moved back to St. Michael’s later and placed near the church. Members of one family, the Pearses, were in a nice clearing in the woods; however, I was dismayed to see their stones stacked in rows with a foot or two between each stone. Obviously, only the stones were moved. Where were their remains? And what about the stones moved back to St. Michael? Shouldn’t our ancestors be left in peace?

The early members of the Monro/Munro family were also moved to Juniper Hill to join later family members. One important member was missing originally. My 4th great grandfather, Dr. Thomas Munro, lived in Bristol but died in 1785 on a trip to visit friends at the Davis farm in Stonington, Connecticut. He was buried there; however, his granddaughter, Lydia M. Cook, had the remains brought to the family plot in 1900. The original stone was also relocated and seems prophetic. Part of the transcription reads:

O, Death, thou hast conquer’d me.
I by thy dart am slain,
But Christ hath Conquer’d thee
And I will rise again.

I feel somewhat better about this move.  He was buried alone in Connecticut, and his remains and the original stone were moved to join the other family members in a lovely cemetery.  All these examples remind us that being buried in a cemetery does not guarantee that we will be left in peace for eternity.

– Mary Mettler

Photograph by Julie Nathanson, used with permission.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

25 October 2010

Blood on the Ramparts

Board member Jeffrey Vaillant sent this announcement. Jeff serves as Secretary of the Friends of Civil War Alcatraz.

The 26th Annual West Coast Civil War Conference will take place November 12-14, 2010, at the San Francisco War Memorial Building located at 401 Van Ness Avenue. Nationally known speakers will address the subject of coastal defenses so the conference is called Blood on the Ramparts. The conference is co-chaired by Fred Bohmfalk who ran the last conference in Sacramento and Brad Schall who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, a 6000 member organization. Along with Fred and Brad there have been about a dozen people (Jeff included) who have been planning the event for the past eighteen months.

After two days of presentations, Sunday, November 14, will be tour day of Fort Alcatraz, Fort Mason, Fort Point and the Presidio. The event is co-hosted by the Friends of Civil War Alcatraz and with the San Francisco Civil War Round Table. The key note speaker will be the renowned Civil War author and speaker James McPherson. His book Battle Cry of Freedom has sold six hundred thousand copies.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

22 October 2010

San Francisco Bay Area Genealogy Calendar: November 2010 Published

November 2010 events have been published on the San Francisco Bay Area Genealogy Calendar – a collection of local genealogical society classes, workshops and meetings within a 75 mile radius of San Francisco.

The November calendar includes thirty-eight offerings from twenty-three listed Bay Area genealogical societies. Two seminars are planned for Saturday, November 6, 2010:

Family History Keepsakes sponsored by Sacramento Regional Family History Center

Using and Interpreting Records with Michael John Neil sponsored by the San Mateo County Genealogical Society.

If you would like to add your group's events to the calendar, please email the information by the 20th of each month for publication on the 25th. (Please put "SFBA Calendar" in the subject line.)

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

20 October 2010

Wordless Wednesday

California Genealogical Society
Board of Directors Meeting

Photograph by Kathryn M. Doyle, Oakland, California, 7/21/2010.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

19 October 2010

Tuesday Tales: Mary's Uncooperative Ancestor

Mary Mettler sent one more installment of her adventures on the road. Anyone out there have some clues about Oren PARKER?

Some ancestors just don’t want to be researched, and they let you know it! In 2008, I drove out to Westford, Vermont, which is in the middle of nowhere. My second great grandmother, Sylvia Parker, was born there, the daughter of Oren/Orin/Orrin and Lavina (Farnsworth) Parker. The Farnsworths have rarely been a problem, as they reported births, marriages and deaths to the various towns in which they lived in New England. Oren, however, left few “footprints.” I dug into the dusty town records and found very little. From other sources, I found that he and extended family moved to what was then Antioch Township, now Lake Villa, Lake County, Illinois in the late 1830s.

Over the next year, my cousin Aimee Miller and I did more digging. In the Westford census, Oren lived next door to an Aaron Parker, who was the same age as he was. Perhaps he was a cousin? Later censuses all reported that Oren had been born in Massachusetts. We searched and searched and came up with nothing! Other researchers provided possible fathers; however, land, probate and family records disproved them all. In Antioch records, we discovered that Oren was buried in Angola Cemetery, which was on his original land. Of course, he had no tombstone; however, the sextant reported the place of his burial. I was in Indiana on my way home, so, I decided to go to Antioch to dig some more there.

I waited until after rush hour to take on the formidable Dan Ryan freeway in Chicago. That’s when Oren started giving me fits! I struggled through bumper-to-bumper traffic, major construction, and closed freeway exits. When I finally reached the cemetery, I gathered up all of my camera gear for the various Parker and Farnsworth tombstones and, of course, the empty spot which was Oren’s burial plot. As I stepped out of the car, a huge rainstorm began! Okay, I just hopped in my car to go to the Lake Villa library. Halfway there, the rain stopped. Ha, I’ll fool Oren and sneak back to the cemetery. As soon as I stepped out of the car, the rain began again in earnest! So, back and forth I went until I just gave up and took pictures in the rain.

Later at the library, I discovered that Oren and his two brothers, Abel and John, were some of the founders of Antioch. But, to this day, Aimee and I have been unable to find Oren’s birthplace and his parents. We will continue to search and look forward to whatever tricks Oren might have to block our research!

– Mary Mettler 

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

18 October 2010

Workshop: Guidelines for Writing Your Family History 11/20

Saturday, November 20, 2010
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

California Genealogical Society and Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2
Oakland, California 94612

Join Don Edwards for this informal interactive workshop to help you write creative family stories, professional reports and clear articles. Bring your current genealogical writing projects to discuss.

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Interactive lecture.
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.  Break for lunch. Bring a brown bag or purchase at a local restaurant.
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.    Writing activities.

The workshop is FREE for CGS members but is limited to ten people. Non-members fee is $20.00 (non-refundable) and can be applied towards membership on the day of the workshop.

Preregistration is required. Walk-ins will not be admitted.

Register online.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

15 October 2010

CGS Website Honored by Family Tree Magazine as One of the Best!

Woo hoo! Family Tree Magazine has named the California Genealogical Society website – – one of the Best State Websites for 2010.

In the article Heads of State in the December 2010 issue of Family Tree Magazine (pages 20-27), author David A. Fryxell lists their 2010 picks for the 75 best U.S. state-focused websites for genealogical research.

To help you find these outstanding state sites – and to salute their efforts at making genealogical and historical information available online – we've compiled this state-centric Best Websites list.
California has two sites listed:
Online Archive of California <>
Recently redesigned to take advantage of new technologies, the OAC opens the golden gate to more than 170,000 digital images and documents and nearly 20,000 collection guides.

California Genealogical Society and Library <>
You can search the library catalog and find answers in Research FAQs, or search the 350,000 names in the California Names Index. Get a hit? Just $10 will buy a lookup in the original source.
We're honored to be chosen and to be listed among so many fantastic online state resources. Thank you, Family Tree Magazine!

Congratulations to the Kathy Watson, Larry Youngman and the other members of the Website Committee and to all the volunteer members who have contributed to the California Genealogical Society website.

Kudos also to our volunteer librarians - past and present - whose hard work culminated in our online catalog and to the many members who have contributed to the California Names Index. We have the best volunteers in the world!

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

14 October 2010

Burbank to Oakland: South Comes North For a Visit

A special meeting occurred on Thursday, September 23, 2010, when Jay Holladay and Vieve Metcalfe of the Southern California Genealogical Society paid a visit to the CGS Library. The couple were in the Bay Area for a school reunion and decided to mix in a little gen society business. It was an opportunity to meet with their NorCal counterparts, tour our library and take a look at our operation.

While Jay met with Technology Director Kathy Watson to discuss the website and facility equipment, Vieve met with CGS Librarian Laura Spurrier. Laura provided a tour of Surpass, our catalog software which our neighbors to the south are considering to replace their Access file.

Vieve Metcalfe, Laura Spurrier, Kathy Watson and Jay Holladay

Jay and Vieve are both active members of the Southern California Genealogical Society. Jay currently leads their Information Technology Team and the RootsMagic User Group. He has been a member of the SCGS board of directors since 2008 and he also serves on the Long-Range Planning Committee. Vieve presently serves as librarian, member of the Long Range Planning and Library Operations Committees, and as cataloguer for the CD collection. In the past, she has served as the Jamboree chair.

All genealogy societies face similar challenges but collaborative sessions like this are few and far between. The visit was so successful that it is likely to be repeated again as both societies plan to continue to share their experiences. Thanks, Jay and Vieve, for stopping by!

Photograph courtesy of Kathy Watson, 9/23/2010, Oakland, California.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

13 October 2010

Wordless Wednesday

CGS Table in the Exhibit Hall at the California Family History Expo
October 8-9, 2010

Photographs courtesy of Tim Cox, Pleasanton, California.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

12 October 2010

Tuesday Tales: Visiting iBrat in Illinois

Mary's back with another edition of her Tuesday travel adventures.

Doesn’t everyone have an iBrat? Daylene Goetz, a young woman who was beginning to research the KENTs, found me in August 2009 through my Tuesday Tales in Dorset, Vermont. Since she was a beginner, I tried to send her as much as possible – the direct line from the first Kent to our mutual Kent, some tombstone pictures, some town records and a few sources. She was going to write up the entire Kent family line as a Christmas present for her mother-in-law. Needless to say, I couldn’t believe she had a chance of finishing anything worthwhile by Christmas. Oh, my goodness, was I mistaken!  She is a wizard at using the internet and incredibly well organized and disciplined. Her mother-in-law and my fifth cousin, Sherry Goetz, was overwhelmed by the extraordinary 149-page book on the Kents, which she received for Christmas. My contribution was only a tiny part of what Daylene created.

Since her work on the book, Daylene and I have continued to email and to get to know each other. She asked me if she could adopt me as her iMom (Internet Mom). I loved the idea of having an iDaughter, but she much preferred to be called iBrat. She is a very good cook and sent me three cookie cans full of homemade goodies for Christmas – pecan turtles, peanut brittle and fudge. I sent her a big box of Meyer lemons from my tree.

She has researched and found tough-to-find information for me on Cephas Kent, Sr. and his son, Cephas Kent, Jr. I am writing a chapter on each of them for a book on Revolutionary War Patriots, which will be published by  group of us next year. Her sharp eye has edited them for me before they go off to the official editor. Thus, what I thought was an act of kindness turned into a fruitful genealogy partnership!

When she found out that I was driving back east, she graciously invited me to stop in Illinois and stay with her and her family – her husband, Todd, who is my fifth cousin, once removed, and their daughter, April. I spent a weekend with them and had a wonderful time. Todd’s parents, Sherry and Steve, came for dinner and we thought of Cephas Kent (1725-1809),  a strong-willed and very religious man, who often proclaimed, “Verily, I will have it so.” We all laughed and were sure we heard his voice in approval of our gathering!

iBrat Daylene Goetz and iMom Mary Mettler
Thank you, CGS, for posting my blogs and introducing me to a very fine genealogist and an inspiring new friend!

Your Roving Reporter,
Mary Mettler

Photograph courtesy of Mary Mettler.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

08 October 2010

Pick Up the New CGS Bookmark at California Family History Expo!

Ever since we unveiled our new look in February, members of the society have been working hard to incorporate the new "brand" into our various web homes, publications and other written matter.

The wonderfully talented Lois Elling has created a new bookmark for the society and we are giving them away today and tomorrow at the California Family History Expo.

Next week I'll be sure to blog the stories of the faces on the family tree.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

07 October 2010

Amazing 1906 Footage: San Francisco After the Quake and Fire

Thanks to Tim Cox for sending the link to this spellbinding video of San Francisco just after the Great 1906 Earthquake and Fire from Red Channels. It is a documentary compilation of actual footage from various parts of the city showing people getting on with their lives amidst the devastation. Especially interesting are the sections showing demolition of the burnt-out buildings and the temporary housing set up in tents.

1906/2009. 17 minutes. Film/Video. Silent.
Edited by Dan Meyerson and Matt Peterson.

Update: In case you missed it, on October 16, 2010, Morley Safer of 60 Minutes, the CBS News show, aired a full investigative report about the origin of the film.

The 60 Minutes site features lots of extras. Fascinating stuff!

 Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

06 October 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Workshop: How to Conduct Oral Histories with Nancy Thompson
Saturday, August 14, 2010

Photographs courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey, Oakland, California.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

05 October 2010

Tuesday Tales: Salt Lake City Two Years Later

Mary Mettler returns! It's been two years since Mary shared her genealogy road trip across the country in the ten-part Tuesday Tales series. Now Mary is traveling again and is back with some new blog adventures. Thanks so much, Mary!

I’m on the road again for several family weddings and gatherings – mixed in, of course, with some genealogy! As always, my first stop was in Salt Lake City. The LDS Family History Library has added some additional scanners for microfilm. Two years ago, I signed up for my half-hour slot and was bumped off promptly. This year I was able to scan to my heart’s content. As to be expected when one doesn’t use equipment for awhile, I needed some technology assistance. My techie was a bit unusual! Pearl is ninety-five years old, yes, 95, and an absolute wizard on the scanner/computer/software! She showed me some shortcuts and tricks and had me well-trained in record time. Although she stood up with me for forty-five minutes, she did admit that she might use her walker a bit by the afternoon! She works three eight-hour days a week and feels it is very important to keep up on technology. I’d say she is doing a terrific job of keeping up!

Every time I come to the library, I look at the wall on the first floor where the library posts a large family tree for a line from which some of the Mormon founders or leaders descend. Each time I have been disappointed that none of my lines were shown. I almost didn’t look this time! There was one of my lines! My 11th great-grandparents, Robert White (1558-1617) and his wife, Bridget Allgar (1562-after 1623), were the progenitors of eleven lines shown on the chart. Each line ended with a well-known person. The eleven famous descendants are Hiram Ulysses Grant, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Shirley Temple Black, William Williams, Emily Dickinson, Steve Young, Donnie Osmond, Joseph Smith, Gordon Hinckley, Lucille Ball and Philo Taylor Farnsworth, my second cousin twice-removed. I quickly figured out that Steve Young was my 12th cousin twice removed. Hmmm…guess I won’t call him for dinner after all! 

My grandnephew, Andrew Mettler, is finishing up jet pilot training with the Marines. He was very excited to learn about the Wright brothers and exclaimed, “The genes must run deep!” The survival of a flight gene through all of those generations would be highly unlikely. But…our cousin flew planes right after World War I; my brother was a career Air Force pilot; my niece has a pilot’s license...

Your Roving Reporter,
Mary Mettler

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

04 October 2010

November Membership Meeting - Soldiers and Statesmen: The History of the de Büren Family

Saturday, November 13, 2010
1:00 p.m.
California Genealogical Society Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2
Oakland, California

Covering over 800 years of family history in the United States, Switzerland and Argentina, the de Büren story encompasses passionate tales of suitors, soldiers, statesmen and saints. CGS member Jean-François de Büren will share tales of historical intrigue and the compelling family drama of his family's journey from Swiss nobility to the California Central Valley.

The short membership meeting starts promptly at 1:00 p.m. Mr. de Büren's presentation follows immediately after. Seating is limited so please arrive early. Meetings are open to everyone but non-members pay a $5.00 users fee to enter the library. (Or come and become a member!)

Graphic designer, writer, historian and genealogist, Jean-François de Büren has been passionate about his family history for as long as he can remember. For the past ten years Jean-François has actively worked on the story of his roots and is acknowledged as the family historian. He is the author of three blogs: The De Buren Family, The Grand Tour and The French of San Francisco. A dual Swiss and American citizen, he also writes about Swiss emigration to California and aims to retrace the journey of his great-great-grandfather through the Americas of the 1850s for a documentary film.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

01 October 2010

eNews October 2010, volume 4, number 10

The October 2010 issue of the eNews, volume 4, number 10,  has been published and emailed to members and friends. As always, the eNews features timely information about the California Genealogical Society and our upcoming events. Each edition also includes Suggested Links From the Blogosphere and a photo feature: California Ancestors.

This month we pay tribute to Florence Randolph Jackson Lee, grandmother of Lisa B. Lee of

Florence Randolph Jackson Lee

Past issues of the eNews are available at the eNewsARCHIVE.

The November 2010 issue will be emailed on October 31, 2010. To receive a copy, please join our mailing list.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library