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31 January 2011

Workshop: Celtic Roots with Cath Trindle - March 19, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011
12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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

Contrary to popular belief, the records of Scotland begin long before the advent of statutory registration in 1855. In some cases it is possible to trace families back to the sixteenth century using easily available records. Scottish research and retrieval of the records of Scotland is completely intertwined with the use of the Internet. We will look at some of the basic records – statutory registers, census, old parish records, and testaments – and navigate the Scotland government web sites to retrieve them. Even if you have no research in Scotland, the government web sites of Scotland provide a model for any government body or society to use when putting their documentation on the Internet.

Ireland government web sites are not quite as complete, but the selection of records available online is growing. We will again look at some of the basic records available both online and off and discuss the records hiding in repositories that might help you further your research.

The workshop will also explore other interesting genealogical and informational online sites for both countries and also touch of some genealogical resources online for those with Welsh ancestry.

This workshop is limited to forty participants and is one of the free benefits for members. Non-members fee is $20.00 (non-refundable) and can be applied towards membership on the day of the workshop. Preregistration is required.

Registration confirmations will be sent to the first forty participants who register. Additional names will be collected and placed on a waiting list in case of cancellations.

Register online.

Cath Madden Trindle is a certified genealogist in the San Francisco Bay area, and a national conference speaker. She earned a Certificate of European Research from BYU, and a Certificate in Genealogical Studies - Libraianship (NIGS.) Cath owned a bookkeeping consultation business for thirty years and is currently Treasurer of the CSGA and the FGS. She writes regular copyright and society strategy solumns for the CSGA newsletter. As Publication Chair for SMCGS, she has edited the San Mateo County Naturalization Index Series, the Schellens indexing project, and coauthored the SMCGS Tree Climbing Guides.

Cath, is a first generation Californian, and has limited her client research to Northern California, however, personal research and national speaking engagements also focus on the records of Ireland and Scotland, Canada, Minnesota, and Michigan, and on storytelling.

Photograph by Kathryn M. Doyle, Drumcliff, Co. Sligo, Ireland, 2008.

Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

26 January 2011

Strangers' Plot: A Potter's Field Just Down From Millionnaires' Row

I was so surprised to see Gaye Lenahan’s sad face on page C-1 of the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday, January 24, 2011. It was on the front page of the Bay Area section under the article Strangers’ burial ground: Hundreds of unknown lie in field at Mountain View Cemetery entrance. That got my attention. I’ve visited the cemetery dozens of times and had never heard of the place.

Gaye is a docent at the cemetery and an active volunteer at the library so I contacted her a get the backstory.

Chronicle reporter Carolyn Jones inquired after reading a piece Gaye wrote for the Friends of Mountain View Fall 2010 newsletter entitled “The Strangers’ Plot.” Lenahan agreed to meet reporter Jones and photographer Lacy Atkins at Mountain View Cemetery where Gaye has been a docent for fifteen years.

A couple of years ago Gaye "made it her business" to dig into the cemetery files for the history of the now defunct Stranger's Plot. She found that the early records refer to it as "Potter's Field" or "Poor Ground" and is the resting place of approximately 500 indigent and unknown persons.

Section S - Strangers' Plot, Mountain View Cemetery
Many of the graves are of men, women and children labeled “unknown.” Unknown infants number in the hundreds. A few burials appear to be removals from the old cemeteries in downtown Oakland. One entry specified “Twelve unknown bodies from 14th and Harrison.”There are a number of persons who died of drowning. The files record deaths due to suicide or gunshot wounds. Several “hanged” criminals are buried on this hillside.
– Gaye Lenahan

Michael Colbruno’s excellent Graveyard Rabbit blog, Lives of the Dead: Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland has a nice video of part of one of Gaye’s tours from 2007 as she describes the opulent gravesite of temperance leader Dr. Henry Daniel Cogswell (1820-1900). It's one of the many gravesites that make up Millionnaires' Row.

Gaye will be leading a Black History Month Tour on Saturday, February 26, 2011, at 10:00 a.m.

Photograph by Kathryn Doyle, Oakland, California.

Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

22 January 2011

What you Missed: Annual Meeting 2011

Things were hopping at the library on Saturday, January 8, 2011, as approximately fifty members gathered for the annual business meeting, a used book sale and a reception to honor our volunteers.

Arlene Miles and Henry Snyder organized the book sale which was staffed by members of the library committee. The sale netted more than $700 for the library.

President Stephen Harris called his first annual meeting to order at 1:00 p.m. He welcomed the members and noted that the society has much to celebrate as we start another year. The minutes of the 2010 Annual Meeting were approved.

Nominating Commitee Chair Jane Lindsey presented the slate for the board of directors for 2011. Laura Lee Karp, Pat Magnuson and Jim Sorenson were nominated as new board members. Sandy Fryer, who was appointed to fill a vacated position in 2010, was nominated for her first term. All nominees for directorships were elected. Continuing on the board are Kathryn Doyle, Nancy Fike, Tom Gesner, Stephen Harris, Craig Manson, Christine Pattillo, Nancy Peterson, Lavinia Schwarz, Jeff Vaillant and Diana Wild. Jane Lindsey serves as Past-president.


Treasurer Sandy Fryer presented the 2011 budget which was approved by the membership. Laura Lee Karp, who is a Certified Public Accountant, will assume the duties of Treasurer. 

Activities of the various committees were reported by chairs Tim Cox, Kathryn Doyle, Sandy Fryer, Bill O’Neil, Chris Pattillo, Nancy Peterson, Lavinia Schwarz, Laura Spurrier and Lorna Wallace.

Of particular interest were statistics reported by Tim and Sandy. As Events Chair, Tim noted that the society held fifty-one events in 2010 with a total attendance of 746. Implementation of the online registration system has streamlined the process, saving time and greatly reducing the number of telephone calls coming into the front desk. Upcoming events scheduled for 2011 include sixteen confirmed lectures and workshops in addition to the bimonthly membership meeting programs.

Sandy Fryer shared statistics from the Membership Committee. This year the society added over 200 new members totaling a record number of 1,039. The overwhelming majority – 735 members – live in the Bay Area, 181 are from the rest of California and 127 live out of state. We have four international members.

Director Jeffrey Vaillant announced the acquisition of an additional 650 sq. ft. of space for the library. The new room will be used for media productions, seminars, webinars and membership meetings.
Past-president Jane Lindsey announced her new role as volunteer coordinator and displayed a poster with the names of 114 active volunteers contributing to the work of the society in 2010. The meeting adjourned to a volunteer appreciation reception.

Photographs courtesy of Tim Cox, Arlene Miles and Kathryn Doyle, 1/8/2011, Oakland, California.

Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

21 January 2011

Craig's Report From the Blogging Workshop

Craig Siulinski shared his blogging know-how in a recent Blogging class at the library.

January 15, 2011 marked an exciting day for a few folks eager to jump into the world of genealogy blogging. After a presentation of informational slides and a demonstration of how to write a blog post using Blogger, the participants proceeded to go live with their own blogs. Much thought and discussion was spent on the selection of blog titles and the creation of effective purpose statements. As the instructor of the workshop, I am proud of these new blogs since they will surely enrich the genealogy blogging community.
  Craig created Genealogy Jamming for demonstration purposes.

June Ralston Anderson's new blog is Stray Bones.

Lisa Gorrell created Mam-ma's Southern Family.

Janice Sellers started Ancestral Discoveries.

Peg Stewart is blog author of A Forest of Oakes.

Diana Wild's new blog is Kendricks of San Francisco.

As you can see, the workshop was a tremendous success. The participants expressed pride in their new creations and appreciation for Craig's help. One reviewer wrote that "the class was a wonderful mix of lecture, conversation and help from the instructor." Peg Stewart observed, "This workshop far exceeded my expectations. I thought I would take notes during class and think about my options later at home. Instead I came away with all my questions answered, my hesitations resolved, my blog created and my first post published."

    Craig will be offering a more advanced blogging workshop on April 16, 2011. He will cover more posting topics and further use of the blogger platform.

    Congratulations to our new bloggers! Links to all are in the right sidebar under "Member Blogs."

    Photographs courtesy of Tim Cox, 1/15/2011, Oakland, California.

    Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

    19 January 2011

    Announcing the 11th Annual Salt Lake City Research Tour May 15-22, 2011

    Are you ready to experience genealogy nirvana? Join CGS for a week of intensive research and lots of fun!

    Past-president Jane Lindsey is leading her eleventh California Genealogical Society Salt Lake City Tour to the Family History Library from Sunday to Sunday, May 15 - 22, 2011. Research Director Nancy Peterson returns to help lead this very popular trip.

    Accommodations will be at the Shilo Inn, located three blocks from the Family History Library. The Shilo provides free high-speed internet access in every room.

    The cost is $705 (airfare not included.) A deposit of $200 holds one space.

    The Tour Package includes:
    • Hotel room – 7 nights, double occupancy 
    • Shuttle service to and from airport 
    • Three group dinners (Sun., Wed., and Sat.)
    • Daily continental breakfast
    • Orientation and lectures
    • Computer assistance using the online catalog at and other websites
    • Optional consultation prior to the trip 
    Still need convincing? The top ten reasons to go with CGS to Salt Lake City are still exactly the same as when I first wrote them nearly three years ago.

    Download the tour flier for full information.

    Register online and reserve your space now!

    Photograph by Kathryn Doyle, 4/27/2010, Salt Lake City, Utah.

    Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

    17 January 2011

    This Blog is Ancestor Approved!

    Russ Worthington of A Worthington Weblog has honored the CGSL blog with the Ancestor Approved award. Thanks, Russ!

    Leslie Ann of the Ancestors Live Here blog created the Ancestor Approved award to let her fellow genealogy bloggers know how much she appreciates and enjoys their blogs. I think it's a great idea.

    I would like to pass the award and honor several genealogical societies that launched blogs in the past year and have kept them going. Blogs are easy to start but it takes commitment to persevere!

    The FGS Voice blog was started by the Federation of Genealogical Societies in March 2010.

    Joan Miller created the Alberta Family Histories Society Blog in March 2010.

    The Johnson County, Kansas GenWeb site started the KS GenWeb: Johnson County blog in March 2010.

    The African American Genealogical Society of Northern California started the AAGSNC blog in May 2010.

    Mr. Geneablogger, Thomas MacEntee, started the Illinois State Genealogical Society blog in May 2010.

    The Ontario Genealogical Society launched its blog in June 2010.

    GSNOCC Musings was created by the Genealogical Society of North Orange County California in July 2010.

    Nevada Roots - Nevada State Genealogical Society blog came online in July 2010.

    The Contra Costa County Genealogical Society blog debuted in August 2010.

    The Utah Genealogical Association started a blog in September 2010.

    A complete listing of all genealogical society blogs can be found at Geneabloggers. (Thanks, Thomas!)

    Blogs are a great way for organizations to communicate with their members and the outside world. I follow all genealogical society blogs so if I missed yours please let me know!

    Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

    14 January 2011

    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy: Jeff's Report #6

    This is Jeff's last report from SLIG. Thanks, Jeff, for another great series!

    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Friday, 14 Jan 2011

    The last morning opened again with homework debriefing. The problem was to solve the father’s name of a workbook exercise that we had been looking at off-and-on all week. There were several suggestions. Dr. Jones offered a little hint and a big hint via email for those interested. The little hint did not help me. What helped me, I would say, is a better understanding of analysis.

    Today we packed in six lectures starting with Special Problems III: Identifying Landless, Enslaved, Peasant and Other Impoverished Ancestors; Resolving Conflicting Evidence; Correlating Sources, Information and Evidence to Solve Genealogical Problems; Federal Land Records: Analysis, Interpretation and Correlation by Clair Bettag; Writing Genealogy and Continued Advancement.

    In Thursday’s report I said I would provide some problem solving examples from the course work. Dr. Jones gave permission to do so; however, in reviewing the examples they would be out of context. Instead, given the internet email discussions about starting a GenWrite class like the GenPro class, here are a few points from the lecture on Genealogy Writing.

    Dr. Jones spoke about his own experience. He had written articles in his professional field of special education for journals that were published. He submitted his first genealogy article to the NGS Quarterly when Elizabeth Shown Mills was the editor. As Dr. Jones told the story, he got his work back and looked at the first page, the second page, the third page and then on the fourth page finally found something he had written! He relates this story in great humor to fully illustrate that genealogical writing is a field unto itself.

    His definitions of genealogical writing are “essays that describe a genealogical problem, discuss the evidence pertaining to the problem; and—if applicable—present and explain a solution to the problem.” There are a variety of products of writing from articles to books and the use of writing can be to illustrate to oneself what further research needs to be done.

    The characteristics of writing are that it is readable, fully sourced, well grounded and structured, honest, precise, logical and comprehensive.

    It was one of many great presentations.

    I am going to conclude with the points made in Continued Advancement. This was my third SLIG course along with the IGHR in Birmingham along with the FGS and NGS conferences and one day workshops that constitute my continuing education. Dr. Jones’ list is similar – formal courses of study, major conferences, genealogical study groups, participating in support groups and seeking a credential. He went on to encourage reading journals, doing personal research, seeking expert vetting and regularly and routinely writing research with a view to publish.

    BOTTOM LINE: The five days were fantastic and intense. The bibliography with each presentation was enormous allowing for further study. I encourage each person reading this to pursue their own professional advancement.

    Next I am off to Charleston, South Carolina for the NGS Family History Conference, May 11-14, 2011. Will I see you there?

    Jeffrey Vaillant
    14 Jan 2011 

    Read the entire series:
    Report #1: 2011 SLIG
    Report #2: 2011 SLIG
    Report #3: 2011 SLIG
    Report #4: 2011 SLIG
    Report #5: 2011 SLIG
    Report #6: 2011 SLIG

    Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

    13 January 2011

    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy 2011 - Jeff's Report #5

    Jeff's series continues from SLIG.

    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Thursday, 13 Jan 2011

    Another morning opened with the homework debriefing. Not a lot of hands went up with solutions. Some students took up to four hours to try to solve the problem. The outcome for all, I would say, is a better understanding of analysis.

    Today we packed in five lectures starting with Probate Strategies: Analysis, Interpretation and Correlation, Local Land Records: Analysis, Interpretations and Correlation, Bring Law to Bear on Complex Genealogical Problems, Special Problems I: Finding Immigrant and Migrant Origins and ending with Special Problems II: Identifying Female Ancestors.  Each of these presentations by Dr. Thomas Jones included little problems to solve at the end of each lecture. All of his material is copyrighted so I will obtain permission to publish a problem or two here tomorrow.

    Yes, there is another homework assignment tonight. One page – which means it will be difficult. So I better get to it.

    We are still behind schedule and tomorrow is Friday!

    Jeffrey Vaillant
    13 Jan 2011

    Read the entire series:
    Report #1: 2011 SLIG
    Report #2: 2011 SLIG
    Report #3: 2011 SLIG
    Report #4: 2011 SLIG
    Report #5: 2011 SLIG
    Report #6: 2011 SLIG

    Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

    12 January 2011

    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy - Jeff's Report #4

    Jeff's series from SLIG continues:

    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Wednesday, 12 Jan 2011

    The morning began as a debriefing on the Tuesday evening homework with Claire Betteg. In general classmates were able to work through the challenging Library of Congress website. The point was made by someone that the Congress funds its own library well, unlike the National Archives and Records Administration. A user of both facilities in Washington, D.C. was of the opinion that the LOC has ten times the staffing of NARA!

    We found ourselves a mere 24 hours behind schedule. The mornings topics were Census, Census-Substitute and Name List Strategies: Analysis, Interpretations and Correlation and Tax Roll Strategies: Analysis, Interpretations and Correlation by Dr. Thomas Jones. Jones has a wealth of professional genealogical experience which is brought to each lecture with examples. Of course, this leads into the Wednesday homework.

    Richard Sayre, CG, was back in class talking about Rural and Urban Map Strategies: Analysis, Interpretations and Correlation. He pointed to the Library of Congress and its 5 million maps, 80,000 atlases and 6,000 reference works. He encouraged visiting it and the NARA location in College Park, Maryland, where there are another million+ maps. He spoke about the USGS topographical maps and showed how he was able to use them, along with other resources including Google Earth to pinpoint cemeteries. (Course 8 of the Samford Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research this June in Birmingham, Alabama will feature an entire week on maps!)

    Then it was time for homework. The homework was a nine page assignment to find the father of a person who lived in the late 1700s in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. I spent a couple of hours hacking away at the problem and I spent a couple of hours at the Family History Library hacking away at my own research. In neither case did I solve any problems – does that sound familiar?

    Jeffrey Vaillant
    12 Jan 2011

    Read the entire series:
    Report #1: 2011 SLIG
    Report #2: 2011 SLIG
    Report #3: 2011 SLIG
    Report #4: 2011 SLIG
    Report #5: 2011 SLIG
    Report #6: 2011 SLIG

    Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

    11 January 2011

    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy 2011 - Jeff's Report #3

    Jeff continues with his reports from the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy.

    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Tuesday, 11 Jan 2011

    As reported yesterday we have fallen behind in class. Today we explored the topics of Developing Research Questions and Hypotheses; Planning an Exhaustive Search along with Transcribing, Abstracting, Extracting, Quoting and Documenting Sources in the morning – which were supposed to be Monday mornings topics!

    Richard Sayre, CG, presented an informational loaded Military and Pension Records Strategies: Analysis, Interpretation and Correlation. This presentation barely scratched the surface of the subject and offered numerous opportunities for further research. He and I had exchanged emails prior to the Institute so I was able to follow up with a conversation on the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). Richard showed me a presentation he made on the GAR in St. Louis a few years ago. There is a concerted effort by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War to identify all GAR records and their locations. Another part of his presentation that was useful to me was the section on the War of 1812. While this year we recognize the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, the bicentennial of the War of 1812 is next year. A great deal of planning is taking place in the Midwest.

    Claire Bettag blitzed us with her presentation Federal Research: Government Documents. She talks fast and must have said “gov docs” three zillion times!! And she gave us our first homework assignment which was to work with the Library of Congress site and its Century of Lawmaking to determine the outcomes of several citizen requests for government payment due to contracts disputes with the federal government. She allowed as an alternative to pick a private law of our own. I chose to explore the pension request the daughter of Major Charles Fuller, US Army, 4th Regiment, War of 1812 made in 1889. I found it and there is still more work to be done – does that sound familiar?

    Jeffrey Vaillant
    11 Jan 2011

    Read the entire series:
    Report #1: 2011 SLIG
    Report #2: 2011 SLIG
    Report #3: 2011 SLIG
    Report #4: 2011 SLIG
    Report #5: 2011 SLIG
    Report #6: 2011 SLIG

    Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

    10 January 2011

    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy 2011 - Jeff's Report #2

    Jeff reports from his first full day at SLIG:

    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Monday, 10 Jan 2011

    “Fasten your seat belts, put your trays in an upright position” will be the mantra for the week as we take off with Thomas Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS in his Advanced Genealogical Methodology class. After a full day we are still on the first presentation: Developing an Evidence Orientation. We have been discussing a great deal of terminology around Sources, Information and Evidence as well as the processes of Analysis, Correlation, Weighing, Hypothesis, Case Building and Conclusion leading to a proof argument. Dr. Jones assures us that we will catch up as the week progresses. We did use the two case studies sent ahead of the class to illustrate some of the points in this first presentation.

    Also we had a comprehensive presentation by Claire Bettag, CG, CGL on Archival Research at the National Archives and Other Repositories. This was particularly useful as the NARA is undergoing significant changes in its web presence. She emphasized using the finding aids, the descriptive pamphlets and the NARA tutorials that are available at the National Archives website.  She spoke about the Library of Congress Manuscript Division and its registers that describe its principal collections.  120+ registers are published, some of which are online at the Manuscript Reading Room.

    This evening I attended Dr. Jones’ lecture Strategies for Finding "Unfindable" Ancestors. The bottom line: finding those ancestors is hard work taking a great deal of time and the cost to travel to the location(s) of original documents.

    Jeffrey Vaillant
    10 Jan 2011

    Read the entire series:
    Report #1: 2011 SLIG
    Report #2: 2011 SLIG
    Report #3: 2011 SLIG
    Report #4: 2011 SLIG
    Report #5: 2011 SLIG
    Report #6: 2011 SLIG

    Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

    09 January 2011

    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy 2011 - Jeff's Report #1

    CGS Director Jeffrey Vaillant is continuing his pursuit of professional genealogical certification and is attending the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, January 10-14, 2011. As he did last year, Jeff is sending reports. Here's his first installment:

    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Pre-course Work

    As Dick Eastman puts it in his newsletter, I’m “on the road again” to the Salt Lake City Institute of Genealogy. This year’s trip started with pre-class work:
    Course 9 Advanced Genealogical Methods Course Coordinator: Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA.

 Participants will develop advanced genealogical research, analysis, correlation, and compilation skills. Hands-on activities drawn from original sources will enhance this learning. Examples will be drawn from American states and colonies and European countries. Before the course begins, participants will complete two pre-course reading assignments. Three in-course homework assignments will be optional.
    Yes, I have done the pre-course work by reading the case studies several times. I am not too sure about the homework as it is described as one additional hour of class plus up to three hours of in-library research!

    There are numerous evening lectures to attend. The Family History Library is open until 9 p.m. This is my third SLIG and I learned from the first time it is important to pace oneself.

    A number (28) of this year's attendees have completed or are part of the ProGen Study Group. I was fortunate to be in the first group (April 2008–December 2009).
    ProGen Study Groups are organized to encourage professional and aspiring genealogists to put into practice the principles found in Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills. This program employs an innovative method of collaborative learning focused on developing genealogical research skills and business practices. 

Each month group members study one or two chapters of Professional Genealogy and complete a practical assignment relating to the material. They meet online to discuss the topic in small group discussions. Members review each other's assignments and offer constructive feedback. The study program covers all of the chapters in the book, including research procedures and business practices. This program requires time and commitment, but provides a unique opportunity for constructive feedback from colleagues. 

Each ProGen group has a BCG Certified Genealogist or ICAPGen Accredited Genealogist mentoring the group. These volunteer mentors participate in the monthly discussions to answer questions and offer guidance.
    I would encourage anyone interested in broadening their genealogy foundation to consider ProGen as a means to accomplish such a goal.

    I close with the following which outlines the learning for the next five days:
    • Developing an Evidence Orientation
    • Developing Research Questions and Hypotheses; Planning an Exhaustive Search
    • Transcribing, Abstracting, Extracting, Quoting, and Documenting Sources
    • Archival Research
    • Census, Census-Substitute, and Name-List Strategies: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation
    • Military and Pension Records Strategies: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation
    • Tax Roll Strategies: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation
    • Federal research: Government Documents
    • Rural and Urban Map Strategies: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation
    • Local Land Records: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation
    • Probate Strategies: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation
    • Bringing Law to Bear on Complex Genealogical Problems
    • Special Problems I: Finding Immigrant and Migrant Origins
    • Special Problems II: Identifying Female Ancestors
    • Special Problems III: Identifying Landless, Enslaved, Peasant, and Other Impoverished Ancestors
    • Resolving Conflicting Evidence
    • Correlating Sources, Information, and Evidence to Solve Genealogical Problems
    • Federal Land Records: Analysis, Interpretation, and Correlation
    • Writing Genealogy
    • Continued Advancement
    Off to registration...
    Jeffrey Vaillant
    9 Jan 2011

    Read the entire series:
    Report #1: 2011 SLIG
    Report #2: 2011 SLIG
    Report #3: 2011 SLIG
    Report #4: 2011 SLIG
    Report #5: 2011 SLIG
    Report #6: 2011 SLIG

    Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

    07 January 2011

    The Antique Sewing Box Mystery - Part 2

    John and Rusty Keilch had the winning bid and were the new owners of the Victorian-era sewing box made of ebony inlaid with mother-of-pearl and the mysterious newspaper clipping tucked inside. Like any good genealogist, John got to work right away on trying to solve the mystery. John's report:

    English records show some Creightons in London censuses and two Richard Creightons who died in London in the early 1900s. However, when I looked on Google Maps to see where their deaths had been registered, the locations were in central London. This was inconsistent with the address at Ferme Park Road in London North reported in the death notice, which was located quite some distance away, about 10 miles. To find other possibilities, I tried variant surname spellings in census and death records, and found three more Richards in London – a Crayden, a Cretten, and a Critton – but again they had lived quite distant from Ferme Park Road. The margins of the news clipping show a glimpse of the death notices that had been printed above and below, so I tried to search those fragments. The preceding notice ended with the words "...rick Cornish, of the Lewisham, High-road, S.E." and the next notice began "GERRANS – At..." I tried searching for Cornish and Gerrans deaths, but again, no luck.
    I then tried using Google to find out something about Ferme Park Road, hoping to find some clue. The street is still there, located in Stroud Green, a residential district near Hornsey and Crouch End. The street-level view available on Google Maps shows Ferme Park Road to be a quiet street lined with townhouses.
    Google did not produce any hits for a Creighton family on this street. However, in the process of looking, I found an interesting historical tidbit about another resident of Ferme Park Road. He was Nguyen Tat Thanh, a young schoolteacher from Indochina, who in 1912 left home, earning his way abroad by working as a galley cook on a French freighter. He worked for a time in New York City and Boston, but then decided to settle in London to continue his studies. He found a place to live – on Ferme Park Road – and while in London he worked as a hotel dishwasher and waiter, enrolled in Regent Street Polytechnic, and found a position as an electrical apprentice. After a few years, he moved to France, and eventually he returned to Indochina, where he adopted the name by which he would be known: Ho Chi Minh.
    In browsing through Wikipedia to find out about Ferme Park Road, the Stroud Green neighborhood, and the Hornsey district, I learned an important fact. It turns out that Hornsey used to be part of Middlesex County, even though the area long ago had become part of the expanding London metropolis. Until 1965, London County encompassed only the central city. To anybody familiar with London, the "London, North" reference in Richard Creighton's death notice would have been a tip-off, but I had not recognized its significance.

    Once I stopped looking for Richard Creightons in London County, the search became more successful.

    The 1901 census index shows a Richard Creighton in Hornsey, Middlesex. When I looked up the census image I found a page labeled Stroud Green. The second family on the page consisted of Richard and Emma J. Creighton, three adult children, and Richard's sister – they were living at 28 Ferme Park Road. Richard was 58 years old and worked in a lace warehouse. He had been born about 1843 in Carlisle, Cumberland. Emma was the same age, but she had been born in London City. They must have been in the vicinity for quite some time, because their children, all three in their twenties, had been born in the Hornsey district.

    According to the death notice, Richard died in his 67th year. Since he was 58 in 1901, his death would have occurred sometime around 1909. Indeed, in the 1911 census there is a record in Edmonton, Middlesex, for Emma Jemima Creighton, born 1843, but Richard was no longer in the household. A look in the English Death Index reveals a death recorded in the Apr-May-Jun 1909 book for Richard Creighton, Edmonton, age 66, born about 1843. This corresponds to the death notice.

    Actually, Richard Creighton was born in 1842, as he was christened December 11, 1842, at Saint Mary, Carlisle, Cumberland, according to the FamilySearch International Genealogical Index. The FamilySearch site also shows an 1881 census transcript for Richard Creighton; he was already a lace warehouseman, living with Emma and four children in Hornsey at 63 Woodstock Road.

    John Keilch suspects that the death notice about Richard Creighton was cut from the newspaper, perhaps with sewing scissors, and tucked into the sewing box for safe-keeping in 1909 by his wife Emma or another family member. It seems likely that the clipping stayed there forgotten and unnoticed for 101 years until Nancy Servin discovered it.

    John sent along these ideas for further research:

    1.  Family tree – A Donahue family tree at includes this Richard Creighton b. 1843 with some additional information about his birth family. It lists Richard's parents as Thomas Creighton and Mary Hetherington, married in 1836 in Carlisle, Cumberland.

    2.  Marriage record – It is likely that a record of Richard and Emma's marriage can be found that would provide Emma's surname and thereby a link to her family background. Update: Richard Creighton married Emma Jemima Adams in 1872 in the Kensington district of London.

    3.  Earlier censuses – A look at the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses would give snapshots of Richard Creighton's birth family. It would be interesting to look at subsequent censuses to trace the history of Richard and Emma's family and their occupations. Emma's birth family probably can be found in the censuses also. Update: Richard Creighton was a draper in 1871 at the age of 18. After his marriage, Richard Creighton was a lace warehouseman in 1881, 1891 and 1901.

    4.  Descendants – Since Creighton is a relatively rare name, it may be possible to trace some of Richard and Emma Creighton's descendants, and perhaps even identify descendants who are living now, using birth, marriage and death records which are available online all the way up to 2005.

    5.  Neighborhood history – There is some historical information about the Stroud Green district and vicinity online. See British History Online or the website of the Hornsey Historical Society.

    6.  Work history – It might be possible to learn something about the warehouse where Richard Creighton worked. There may be clues in histories of lace manufactures that are available online.

    7.  Origin of the sewing box – The sewing box is most likely older than the newspaper clipping that it concealed.

    The Antique Sewing Box Mystery - Part 1

    Photograph and scanned images courtesy of John Keilch, 11/25/2010.

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

    05 January 2011

    The Antique Sewing Box Mystery - Part 1

    One of the decidedly non-genealogical routines associated with the California Genealogical Society is a fund-raising device that's become a standard part of our full day seminars – the silent auction. Members donate things that appeal to others who bid on them. The auctions serve as a place to browse between lectures and they are 100% profit for the society.

    Our last silent auction was held on October 30, 2010, at Google All the Way with Lisa Louise Cooke. That auction was pretty much like all the others until it turned into The Sewing Box Mystery.

    One of the donated items was an antique black-lacquer sewing box with mother-of-pearl inlay. Member Diana Wild bought it at a small antique shop in London in 1996 or 1997.  She never used it for its intended purpose but kept it as an ornament in her guest room.

    It was Nancy Servin who set the whole thing in motion when she took a close look at the sewing box.
    I was looking at it, and I opened the inside top of the box. It had a mirror in it with a mother-of-pearl clasp. It unfolded open to a shallow pocket, and in the bottom of the pocket was a slip of newspaper that was the size that you find in a fortune-cookie. It was so shallow in there and the pocket was fragile. I had no tweezers with me, but had a cat comb in my purse (don't ask) which was narrow enough to get into the bottom of the pocket and bring up the piece of newspaper.
    It was an obituary (!) cut out of a London paper. (I think Diana said she got the box in London). No date, no paper named, but the name, age, and month and day of death were in the obit.

    CREIGHTON. – 24th June, at 28, Ferme Park-rd,
    London, N., Richard Creighton, in his 67th year.
    No flowers.
    New member Rusty Keilch had the winning bid and is now the proud owner of both the sewing box and the obituary.

    What are the chances that a sewing box would travel from London to California with a hidden obituary in it, and ended up at a genealogical society silent auction?

    As you can imagine the research got started within twenty-four hours. Stay tuned for The Antique Sewing Box Mystery Part 2.
    Photograph and scan courtesy of John Keilch.

    Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

    02 January 2011

    eNews January 2011, volume 5, number 1

    The January 2011 issue of the eNews, volume 5, number 1,  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.

    In this month's edition we pay tribute to Flossie Smith Pugh (1891-1979), grandmother of Shirley Thomson.

    Flossie Smith Pugh

    Past issues of the eNews are available at the eNewsARCHIVE.

    The February 2011 issue will be emailed on January 31, 2011. To receive a copy, please join our mailing list.

    Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library