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27 April 2019

Intermediate Records Class! Starts May 29

Have you been researching mostly online at Ancestry and FamilySearch and feel you’ve exhausted what you can from their site using the search feature? Do you want to learn more about your ancestors so you can write their story? Perhaps you have been afraid to tackle land and court records, thinking they were too hard to find and use. Or lastly, you would like to take a road trip and do some research in the counties and cities where your ancestors lived but don’t know how to begin... This Intermediate Records class is for you!

Lisa Gorrell will teach a 5-session course
on how to use records to deepen your research

Well-known teacher Lisa Gorrell, CG, returns with this in-depth five-session class, held Wednesday nights at the Oakland Family History Center (May 29-June 26) from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. It will cover the following subjects in depth:

Court Records. This class will cover wills, probate, guardianship, and other court records. Learn how to used them and how to use the FamilySearch Catalog to find records.

Church Records. The session will cover the types of records created by religious organization such as sacramental, membership, and business records. These records can be found in many places online and off-line.

Emigration, Immigration, and Naturalization Records. The class will cover the records our immigrant ancestors created when they left their home country and came into the United States, as well as those records they created to become citizens.

Land & Property Records.  This session will cover the land records issued by the federal, state, and local governments. In-class exercises will aid in the student’s understanding of land description. Also included is how to locate local land records on the FamilySearch Catalog.

Off-Line Research. This class will discuss how to use online sources to prepare for an off-line research trip. These same techniques can be used even if you never leave home but instead make contact with out-of-town repositories by email, mail, or telephone.

Many of these classes have in-class exercises and all have optional homework to support the learning from class. A computer is not necessary. Just come prepared to go further in depth on these intermediate subjects.

Register through EventBrite.

Lisa S. Gorrell is a Certified Genealogist® who has been researching her family for over twenty-five years. She leads the research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for CGS. She is a former board member of CGS and current Secretary for the Contra Costa County Historical Society. She enjoys teaching about genealogy and writing about her family on two blogs: “Mam-ma’s Southern Family” and “My Trails into the Past.” 

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

24 April 2019

Our Library Collections: New Mexico

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 in WorldCat.

Article in the most recent edition
of The New Mexico Genealogist
The state of New Mexico section begins with The Journal of the New Mexico Genealogical Society’s New Mexico Genealogist. Our set covers the period from 1988 to the current editions. The most recent volume starts with two articles on DNA written by Henrietta M. Christmas. Another article that looks very useful is “Preserving the Past: How Digital Copies Can Save Your Family History." This is a detailed article about scanning historic photos that covers set up, resolution, image format, image type, rotation, file naming, safekeeping, scanners and much more. It sounds a lot like what one would learn in a class with our own Ron Madson.

Jewish Pioneers of New Mexico features Yetta Kohn
Hidden between other volumes is a tiny booklet titled Jewish Pioneers of New Mexico 1821-1917. It is a catalog for an exhibit that opened at the Museum of New Mexico in 2000. One of the featured individuals is Yetta Kohn, Matriarch, rancher and businesswoman.

Origins of New Mexico Families is not only
aesthetically pleasing but beautifully organized
Origins of New Mexico Families: A Genealogy of the Spanish Colonial Period by Fray Angélico Chávez is beautifully done. It is not only graphically appealing but the care in organizing and presenting the people featured in the book makes it easy to find what you are looking for. The author's foreword begins with a confession: “This work is a sort of by-product.” It began as he sought information on the Franciscan Missions of New Mexico. He admits that, “After several years of digging, Mission facts were still relatively scanty, while notes on the lay pioneers had piled up considerably.” Beginning research in one place and stumbling onto something else is something we can all probably relate to. 

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

17 April 2019

Our Library Collections: New Jersey

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 in WorldCat.

A portion of the New Jersey Archives in our library
Our collection of books for New Jersey occupies nine shelves. Many more resources (572) are listed on our library catalog on our website. Our books begin with sixteen volumes of the New Jersey Archives, First Series, a collection of records first published by the New Jersey Historical Society in 1901. Volume I has abstracts of wills from 1670 – 1730. “For an intimate revelation of social conditions in New Jersey during the first sixty-five years of English supremacy it would be difficult to image a volume richer in material than this,” the preface states. Chapter One, "Early Will-Making in New Jersey," provides a comprehensive explanation of the evolution of wills in colonial times.

We hold a complete set of New Jersey Genealogical Magazine that begins in 1925 and continues to the current issues. Most of these have been bound. We also have a large collection of quarterly magazines from the New Jersey Historical Society dating from 1848 to 1933.
Engraving from Genealogical History
of New Jersey
Our shelves offer multiple biographical source books, including four volumes of Genealogical History of New Jersey, compiled by Francis Bazley Lee and published in 1910. Like other books of this type, these volumes contain written biographies of notable residents with many high-quality engraved portraits and signatures.
Some beautiful sketches from
Inscriptions on Tombstones and Monuments
About half of the books on the shelves focus on various New Jersey counties. Among these, I found Inscriptions on Tombstones and Monuments in the Burying Grounds of The First Presbyterian Church and St. Johns Church for Elizabeth County. Compiled in 1892 by William Wheeler and Edmund Halsey, it describes memorials dating from 1664. Elizabethtown was the first settlement in New Jersey, so this volume contains some of the oldest records for the state. The book presents the text as it appears on the tombstone and includes several very nice sketches of tombstones and monuments. 

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

16 April 2019

2019 Genie Awards and Quarterly Meeting

Vic Halfon and Theresa Murphy were the featured speakers
Our membership meeting on April 13 was fun AND instructive, as we enjoyed fellowship and some interesting talks by members. Theresa Murphy shared her tips on creating a professional-quality family memory book using one of a variety of print services. Vic Halfon recounted the amazing story of how research and DNA led to his reunion with descendants and cousins of the father he never knew.

Receiving the "Genie" award for outstanding contributions to CGS were:
Bill O'Neil with his collection of dolls in uniform
Bill O'Neil, a member since 1995, whose many contributions to the society include his long tenure as chair of the Book Repair Committee, in which he has overseen the maintenance and renewal of countless volumes and taught the skills of the trade to other volunteers. We were also treated to an exhibit of Bill's collection of "Ken dolls in uniform" - a dozen figures outfitted in military costume representing his ancestors' service through the centuries.
Genie Awardees Nancy Servin, Jerry McGovern, Bill O'Neil,
and Cheryl Schmidt (not pictured: Adelle Treakle)
Longtime Membership Team leaders Nancy Servin, Adelle Treakle and Cheryl Schmidt were also recognized, as was our dedicated "Saturday Library Assistant" Jerry McGovern. Our indefatigable Volunteer Coordinator Kathleen Beitiks presented the awards and helped bring the whole event together.

Our always-cheerful Volunteer Coordinator Kathleen Beitiks (at right)
Photos by Ron Madson.
Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

11 April 2019

Our Library Collections: New Hampshire

The Journals of Enoch Hayes Place
contain a wealth of historical information
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 in WorldCat.

When you come into our library to see our books on New Hampshire, be aware that this collection is split between two back-to-back sets of shelves. This is the first time I’ve encountered this, so I was puzzled momentarily looking for the beginning of the set. New Hampshire starts with State Papers of New Hampshire: Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War 1775 to May 1777. This is a somewhat fragile book published in 1885. The editor’s preface tells us that these books “will be of great value to town historians, biographers, genealogists and others who are engaged in tracing the history of their ancestors with a purpose to place the same in compact and permanent form.” The book is organized by year and provides records of groups and individual men who served in the war.

Past CGS President Eugene Peck donated a set of New England Vital Records from the Exeter News-Letter, 1831-1840. These were compiled by Scott Lee Chipman for the New Hampshire Society of Genealogists and were first printed in 1993. The compiler explains that researching his family history had been impeded due to lax record-keeping so, in frustration, he did it himself.

We own an edition of Journals of Enoch Hayes Place, donated by CGS member Kathy Beals and signed by the transcriber, William Edgar Wentworth. Reverend Hayes (1786-1865) was pastor of the Third Freewill Baptist Church of Strafford, New Hampshire, and kept an almost daily record of events in Southeastern New Hampshire and the other states through which he traveled during 55 years. Wentworth took on the project of transcribing the journals reluctantly in 1998, as he explains in the preface: “The journals of Enoch Hayes Place are difficult to read. That may be one reason why, nearly 135 years after the Freewill Baptist minister’s death, no one has attempted to transcribe them," he writes. "I had no intention of taking on the task...” But after realizing how much valuable information they contained, Wentworth undertook the arduous task of transcribing the 151 journals, which he describes as "small, homemade, hand-sewn booklets, many in brittle and delicate condition.” At more than 900 pages each, these two volumes contain a wealth of historical information.
Willey's Book of Nutfield is heavily illustrated

An interior photo from Willey's Book of Nutfield
Many of our New Hampshire books focus on individual counties and towns. One example is Willey’s Book of Nutfield: A History of that Part of New Hampshire Comprised within the Limits of the Old Township of Londonderry from 1719 to the Present Time (1895). Nutfield is part of Rockingham County. This book is well-illustrated with engraved portraits and photographs of people, streetscapes and a range of building types including a factory, churches, hotels, and even several photos of building interiors. It also has numerous maps. Anyone with ancestors from Nutfield will be thrilled to find this book in our library.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

10 April 2019

Genie Awards and more this Saturday!

We hope to see many friends at our Spring Membership Meeting this Saturday, April 13, from noon-3 p.m at the library. The annual Genie Awards will be presented to some very special volunteers. Also, Theresa Murphy offers tips on creating a memory book and Vic Halfon will share the story of how he found a half-brother while celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary. If you need some inspiration to tackle ancestors' military records on Fold3 (accessible from the Library), come view Bill O'Neil's collection of "Ken Dolls in Uniform"! We'll enjoy a potluck meal and socializing. No cost to attend, but please let us know you're coming, by registering through EventBrite.

 Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

08 April 2019

Unsung Heroes: Lorna Wallace On Duty

Lorna Wallace at the 2019 Annual meeting.
Photo by Ron Madson
CGS is staffed and run entirely by volunteers, many of them dedicated people who serve quietly behind the scenes. This is one in an occasional series recognizing our unsung heroes.

I spent about four hours at the CGS library this past Saturday and surreptitiously watched Lorna Wallace perform her Desk Volunteer duties. There were two classes that day – Ron Madson taught the Beginning Genealogy class, since it was the first Saturday of the month. Later on, we had a full house for Pam Miller’s ongoing DNA lecture series.

Saturdays are typically one of our busiest days so the Desk Volunteers face a lot of work. I could not help but notice how proactively Lorna assisted our many visitors.

When I arrived, she was focused on clearing a paper jam in the copier. She actually had the manual out and was reading it! That is something I would never consider. A few minutes later CGS member Gary Kneckt arrived. Gary is a personal friend of mine so he and I were chatting. Lorna quietly approached us and I thought she might chide us for talking too loudly but instead, she joined our conversation and a few minutes later was proactively helping Gary with the research he came to the library to do. I went back to my blog post on our New Hampshire books but was very aware of Lorna offering several helpful suggestions to Gary.

Once Gary was off on his own Lorna returned to the desk, greeting patrons as they arrived. When she stepped out of the library briefly to get some coffee she made a point of asking me to “be in charge” in case someone came in. Lorna processed a patron’s application to join CGS, and I helped with a second new membership later on.
Lorna, second from left, organized our tour of the Bancroft
Library on the Berkeley campus last year
I later saw her sit with a gentleman who arrived with a folder full of articles about his family and questions about how to find people on Ancestry trees. Lorna assisted this patron with a few questions and when stumped by one of his queries she asked me if I could possibly help. I did and then left them to it returning to my blog post research.

When I left the library, Lorna was still engaged with this man who seemed to welcome the help and personal attention he was receiving. “It takes a village” - and volunteers like Lorna Wallace - to provide a vibrant, welcoming genealogical society. Next time you visit our library, don’t forget to look around and notice all that is going on and all of our many volunteers who are making it happen. Thank you, Lorna.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

03 April 2019

Our Library Collections: Nevada

A weekly series 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 in WorldCat.

Rawhide is about mining camps in Nevada
The CGS catalog reveals that we hold more than 90 books on Nevada, as well as more than 100 articles and 8 maps. I browsed one shelf in the main library, a small collection that includes two city directories, five hardcover books and one softcover. The latter has the intriguing title Rawhide. It was written by Hugh A. Shamberger and covers the early history, development and water supply for the historic mining camp of Rawhide, Nevada. Published in 1970, the well-illustrated volume was prepared by the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey.

This fifty-page booklet was of particular interest to me personally because my paternal grandmother Anna Vetter and her older sister Kate lived in a mining town called Rhyolite, Nevada, before my grandmother met and married my grandfather in 1911. I have vague recollections of her having mentioned her time in Rhyolite and I have several black and white photos of Grandmother, her sister Kate, Kate’s husband and a few others that I am unable to identify.

My grandmother sitting in a wheelbarrow. The structures
in this photo resemble those in some photos in Rawhide.
Rhyolite is mentioned in the book and confirms my previous estimation of the time frame when my grandmother lived there. The mine started in 1904-1906 and I had estimated that Anna lived there ca. 1906-1910. So, why am I sharing this personal family story with you? To make the point that our wonderful library is very likely to have a book that will help with your family history and that you might find that clue in an unexpected place. That period of my grandmother’s life has always been a curiosity to me. I suspect this book on Rawhide will shed light on her story and help me understand why my grandmother spent time in Rhyolite.

Two of our Nevada books address rather unique subjects. One is Yugoslavs in Nevada, 1859-1900 (1970) written by Adam S. Eterovich. The author has a delightfully funny writing style. In his introduction he admits that he first visited Nevada to try his luck at the gambling tables but found his interest piqued when he found not one but ten dead Slavonians in Virginia City. The Indian massacre at Pyramid Lake, social organizations, businesses, census, silver mines and mine owners, and gunfights, knife fights, killings and other disputes each have chapters in this book. This could be a goldmine – er, silver mine - for anyone with Slav roots.

A beautiful family portrait in Jews in
Another book on a somewhat unique topic is Jews in Nevada by John P. Marschall, published in 2008.  Like Yugoslavs in Nevada, the book includes many illustrations and appears to be well researched.

Check out our catalog for more on our Nevada holdings.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society