Recent Posts

28 December 2018

2018 Annual Appeal: Thank you to our amazing members!

With just four days left in 2018, we are happy to report that it's been a good year for the California Genealogical Society and Library, thanks to our generous members and supporters! To date, we have received $14,923 in donations to our annual fund. We've also received an extra $10,000 for the Sherman-Haughton Fund, our endowment created for the long-term survival of the society. No donation is too small, and we are grateful for the generosity shown by friends far and near.

As you know, CGS is largely a labor of love, staffed by volunteers who do everything from organizing events, classes, and research trips, to maintaining both our physical and online collections, to greeting library visitors and answering their questions. Even so, we have considerable costs for rent and related expenses. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our financial officers, we have seen the society through its first 120 years! (1898-2018) With your support, we hope to keep going strong for another century and beyond.


Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

26 December 2018

CGS Library Collections: Kansas

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

Nicely illustrated cover of History of Kansas
Our Kansas books are contained on the equivalent of one shelf. The section starts and ends with sets of genealogical journals. The first is The Tree Searcher published by the Kansas Genealogical Society, covering the period 1995 to 2010. The second is Topeka Genealogical Society Quarterly, 1988 to 2002. I suspect the time period correlates with the time frame when the donor was actively engaged in researching their family history.

3 volumes of Kansas Historical Collections
We have three volumes (Numbers 10, 11, and 12) of the Kansas Historical Collections, a long-running journal published by the Kansas State Historical Society. These volumes cover the years 1907 to 1912 and were donated by Mrs. Mary Langford Taylor Horn. In them you can find myriad sketches of early Kansas pioneers and historical tidbits. Among them are a fold-out map in the section “Our Earliest Knowledge of Kansas,” words to the "Song of Kansas" by Joseph Stewart, two poems–"The American Flag" by J.W Ozias and "The Pawnee Republic" by A.B. Warner--and a section titled “A Woman’s Greeting” by "Mrs. Gov. E.W. Hoch"--presumably Sarah Louis Dickerson, the wife of Kansas Governor Edward Hoch.

Medicine Lodge: The Story of a Kansas Frontier Town by Nellie Snyder Yost was published in 1970. Its table of contents offers enticing chapter titles including "Legend of Flower Pot Mountain," "Frontier Violence," "Grand Hotel Flood," "The Murder of Sheriff McCracken," "Cyclones," and more. The book includes a number of illustrations and photos.

Medicine Lodge by Nellie Snyder Yost
Who’s Who in Topeka, written by Howard D. Berrett, was published in 1905. The first line of the preface warns the reader:

Don’t expect too much from the title of this book. It is not meant to imply that herein is an array of men each with his pockets bulging with money and a long string of degrees attached to his name; rather, the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlearned, who have been or who are now so connected with the interests of Topeka, that they are well known or worthy of mention. 

Which is to say – you might find one of your ancestors' stories in this book.

Our Kansas books also include a small assortment of cemetery and marriage records and the 1855 Territorial Census.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

20 December 2018

New Intro to Genealogy Series

It’s almost 2019! The New Year is the perfect time to dive into your genealogy with CGS' FREE “Intro to Genealogy” class, Saturday, January 5, from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15. p.m.

Due to popular demand, we have expanded the course to a four-session series. The first class offers a basic genealogy overview. Each of the following three sessions will begin with a quick review of the basics, followed by a more in-depth focus on the following topics: Census, Vital Records, and Organization. The classes may be taken in any order, and participation in one class is not required to attend others in the series. The entire series will repeat twice in 2019.

Come join us in January to begin your journey!

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

19 December 2018

CGS Library Collections: Iowa

Cherokee County Biographical History
One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo, highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of our books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog. Our catalog is also included in WorldCat.

One of the things I’ve figured out while writing this blog series is our physical state collections typically start with a set of journals – if we have one for that state, and we do for most states. The Iowa shelf begins with Hawkeye Heritage by the Iowa Genealogical Society. We have copies starting in 1966 continuing to 2001. Those are followed by four volumes of a Surname Index that looks very useful. Our Iowa books occupy three and a half shelves – of those two and a half are devoted to Iowa counties. For some counties, we have good collections of naturalization, marriage and cemetery records.
One of many beautiful illustrations

The elaborately gilded black leather cover of Cherokee County Biographical History Illustrated appealed to me. It was written in 1889. It is a well-worn volume and feels fragile. The pages have pulled away from the binding, so when I am finished I will tie a blue ribbon around the book to alert our wonderful book repair team, led by Bill O’Neil, that it needs some of their TLC. The book starts with a seventeen-chapter history of the county followed by individual biographical sketches. It is nicely illustrated throughout with richly detailed sketches and portraits. This is just one of at least 19 county histories we have for Iowa.

A hefty tome with a rather crusty cover is the History of Des Moines and Polk County Iowa – a book the library purchased in 1960, according to the bookplate glued to the inside cover. We have Volume II, published in 1911. The book dives right into a biography of Jefferson Scott Polk, without benefit of a table of contents. As in many of its type, most biographies are accompanied by a photograph of the profiled individual. There is an index at the back.
Illustration from an Iowa county history book

Another small book in need of repair is An Illustrated History of Monroe County, Iowa by Frank Hickenlooper, published in 1896. The introduction says this book includes “sketches of pioneer life, anecdotes, biography, and long-drawn reminiscences spun out by the 'oldest inhabitant.'” The table of contents is found at the back. This small book is packed with a great range of interesting background information.

Women who led the effort to research and
publish cemetery records of Linn County
The last volume I chose for this post was Iowa Linn County Cemetery Records 1956- 1958. This is a carbon copy of a typed manuscript. Glued to the front page is a black-and-white snapshot of the three women who chaired the committee that did the work. Sixteen of Linn County's seventy-seven cemeteries are included. The records consist of alphabetically listed names and a transcription of all of the information recorded on each headstone for each cemetery – a true labor of love. The book has 198 pages including a good index.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

12 December 2018

CGS Library Collections: Indiana

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

Fall/Winter 2013 Connections
Our Indiana section of the library occupies seven shelves and includes four sets of journals, published between 1961–2015. Four shelves are devoted to county books. One of the most recent journals we have is Connections: The Hoosier Genealogists. The Fall/Winter 2013 edition features an article entitled How Hoosiers Got Hitched: The Genealogist’s Guide to Indiana Marriage Records. This edition also has an article about Pioneering Women Doctors.

The first book I chose to peruse was Indiana Election Returns 1816-1851, published by the Indiana Historical Bureau. It includes results for the Presidential, Congressional, Lieutenant Governor, and General Assembly elections as well as constitutional referendums. For each contest, it lists the names that appeared on the ballot and how many votes each person received. This is a huge amount of data …. and to think they compiled it before we had Excel.

We have a five-volume set, Indiana and Indianans: A History of Aboriginal and Territorial Indiana and the Century of Statehood by Jacob Piatt Dunn, published in 1919. These books are bound in forest green textured leather with embossed elements and green marbled page edges. They include many photographs of individuals, buildings and maps.
Indiana and Indianans

There are seven Indiana Source Books, based on records collated by The Hoosier Genealogist. These source books include a dense treasure trove of county and family records.
Volney Willson of Muncie and his wife

One of the county books that impressed me was Portrait and Biographical Record of Delaware and Randolph Counties. Its sheer mass is notable, weighing in at eleven pounds. The book was published in 1894 and includes biographical sketches of "Prominent and Representative Citizens," governors of Indiana, and presidents of the United States. Like many of our other books, this one includes high-quality photographs. The preface introduces the book by describing the “elegance of the binding of the volume, and to the beauty of its typography, to the superiority of the paper on which the work is printed, to the truthfulness depicted by its portraits, and to the high class of art in which the latter is finished.” So, I guess I am not the only one to be impressed by the book.

There is lots more to find in our library for Indiana – stop by and check it out.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

05 December 2018

CGS Library Collections: Illinois

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

Voices of the Prarie Land
The CGS library has twelve shelves of books for the state of Illinois including at least fourteen sets of journals, many source books on individual counties, and several books devoted to cities – quite an impressive set of material. As I took this in, it struck me that even though my paternal grandparents George and Katharine Vetter lived in Cook County, Illinois for twenty-one years, it never occurred to me to check our library for what secrets it might hold for my own family. This is rather embarrassing to admit. Am I the only CGS member who has made this error of omission? I think not. How is it possible that I would seriously contemplate driving halfway across the country to the state of Illinois before I would think to look at the wonderful collection of sources in my own town? This is why I am writing this series for our blog to remind us all of the rich resources we have access to by being members of CGS.
Hiram Revels of Illinois

So, while it was difficult for me to avoid immediately jumping into a search for my own family I focused on writing this post. The first book I found that interested me was Voices of the Prairie Land, Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Martin Litvin. The book was published in 1972 and consists of writings and original papers of early Illinois citizens. Vol. 1 has a chapter titled Hiram Revels and the Negroes of Galesburg. Revels was the first African American U.S. Senator. This lengthy firsthand account includes Revels’ autobiography, comments on race and the Underground Railroad, and much more. It includes a facsimile of Revels’ original hand-written antislavery oration. This is a rich text worthy of review.

Photo from Legends and Lore of Southern Illinois
Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of the Representative Men of the United States, Illinois Edition, Volume II was published in 1896. The embossed leather-bound volume with gilded page edges presents 298 pages of biographies with high-quality portraits and signatures. Unfortunately, the book lacks a table of contents or an index, so I cannot easily tell you how many biographies are included.

Another of our offerings is Legends and Lore of Southern Illinois by John W. Allen, published in 1964. Chapter topics include Individuals, Folklore, Indians, Early Business Activities, Farm Life, Early Schools, Holidays, Slavery and Servitude, Landmarks, Random Stories, and more.
This book looks like a light read with lots of background information.

 Chicago Accomplishments and Leaders
The last book I checked out for this post was Chicago Accomplishments and Leaders. It is organized by different topics such as the Furniture Mart, Music, Steel, Athletics and Recreation, the Shedd Aquarium, and much more. The book includes portraits of the featured men (all men) accompanied by biographical sketches.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society