Recent Posts

31 July 2019

Touring the Bancroft

UC Bancroft Library, with the Campanile in background
One of the many benefits of joining CGS is access to special members-only events, including tours of historical sites and research repositories. Last week, more than a dozen society members enjoyed an instructive walk-through of the marvelous UC Bancroft Library, the University of California's primary special collections library. While the library holds manuscripts and artifacts dating to ancient times, it is best known for its collection of Western Americana--not just for California, but materials ranging from the Rocky Mountains to Hawaii, as well as from Mexico and Central America. Curator Theresa Salazar was our guide.

Upper level and entrance to the Heller Reading Room
Organizer Lorna Wallace (at right, in pink top)
and other CGS members enjoyed our personal tour!
Photos by Kathy Ikeda

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

25 July 2019

A Toast to Georgia Lupinsky

Georgia Lupinsky (center), flanked by Pat Bonderud
and Linda Darby, was celebrated and thanked for her 10 years
as Manuscripts Committee Co-Chair

On July 19 we celebrated Georgia Lupinsky and her many contributions to the CGS library. Since 2009, Georgia has served as co-chair of the Manuscripts Committee with Virginia Turner. Georgia and Virginia took over from Linda Darby and Pat Bonderud, who did the initial organization of the CGS Manuscript Collection, a massive body of family histories, research, and loose papers donated to CGS over its 120-year history. (The searchable index to the collection is available on our website.) “I was most impressed with the way Georgia competently took over the manuscript collection," said Linda. "She did a great job of organizing all the material, was a pleasure to work with, very collegial, cooperative and very diplomatic.”

Georgia has also written for our blog, sharing some of the interesting stories she's uncovered working on the manuscript collection. They include a history of early children's welfare advocate Nellie Patterson Baldwin, and a surprising incident in the life of Swiss immigrant Martina Kurrer, said to have narrowly escaped death on a train to California thanks to a portentous dream.

Asked about highlights of her time as a volunteer, Georgia immediately cited her work on The Ancestry of Samuel Sterling Sherman and Mary Ware Allen. Based on the extensive research of late CGS president Frederick "Rick" Sherman, the book tells the stories of nine generations of the Sherman family as they moved from New England and Kentucky westward to California. "Georgia was absolutely invaluable on this project," recalled past president Jane Lindsey, who coordinated the undertaking. "She reviewed all of Rick's documentation, helped to label hundreds of scanned photos, and reviewed every detail of the manuscript. She was such a pleasure to work with; such a capable and competent volunteer." Georgia also did the detailed Finding Aid of the Sherman Collection for the book and has since created Finding Aids for the Covell and Hale collections.

No gold watch at this retirement ceremony, but we all shared a delicious chocolate cake and Georgia left with a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses. In the language of flowers, “yellow roses are used to convey a number of emotions, with friendship being the main one. The color yellow is often associated with the Sun, known for its warmth. Akin to this, the yellow rose also emanates warmth, affection and joy. When you want to show someone you care, present her with a bouquet of yellow roses” – a sentiment clearly shared by all who attended Georgia’s celebration.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

19 July 2019

Changes at the Top

An update to our members:

CGS President Vicky Kolakowski has decided for personal and professional reasons that she needs to resign her role as President. Per the CGS Bylaws, Vice President Jim Sorenson has assumed the role of President. Speaking for the Board of Directors, Jim thanks Vicky for her past years of service to CGS and hopes that she will be able to maintain some involvement with CGS in the future, as her time allows. We wish her the best in her endeavors.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

18 July 2019

Summer Thursday Evenings at the Library

In case you missed it: our library is open till 8 p.m. on Thursdays in July and August! More time for research, and we offer FREE classes by a variety of our members.

Talks kicked off last week with Robert Jackson speaking on "Discovering Your German Roots." This is a 3-part series, with classes continuing July 18 & 25. Check the listing for more details.

On August 1, Stewart Blandón Traiman discusses "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Genealogy."

Maureen Hanlon offers tips on research using "Historical Newspapers" on August 8. 

August 15: Therese Hart-Pignotti and Dawn Kosmakos lead a DNA roundtable.

August 22: Keith Montgomery talks about using Genome Mate Pro to keep track of your DNA information.

August 29: Jane Lindsey presents "Beyond the Search Boxes on FamilySearch."

The classes are all free, but size is limited; please follow the link to register your attendance.

Parking is free after 6 p.m. in downtown Oakland, and North Oakland is hopping with new restaurants within blocks. Grab a friend and come on down!

All our events can be found listed on the CGS Facebook page
or on our website:
or at (search for California Genealogical Society)

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

17 July 2019

Our Library Collections: South Dakota

Hand-drawn map of Fort Randall in
South Dakota
One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

Our South Dakota books begin with six volumes of South Dakota by the Department of History Collections in Brule County. Chapter One is a history of Brule County. That is followed by chapters on individuals and a variety of topics. Volume 23 published in 1947 has chapters on Ferries on the Big Sioux River, Hand County, and Newspapers of South Dakota. Each chapter is long – for example, the chapter on Father Christian Hoecken is forty pages, so unlike some of the autobiographical sketches our collection holds, these are quite substantive. These books are really packed with a lot of genealogical information and are something anyone with South Dakota roots needs to look at.
These five volumes are Dakota Territory and South Dakota
We have five dense volumes titled History of Dakota Territory by George W. Kingsbury, each with a San Francisco D.A.R. bookplate. They were published in 1915. The table of contents, 19 pages long is somewhat unique in that for each chapter there is a brief summary of the contents of the chapter. This set of books provides an excellent history of the state and is very well illustrated so is another tremendous resource.

We have a nice set of four books that were compiled by Ronald Vern Jackson. The set includes the 1860, 1870 and 1880 censuses plus the 1880 Mortality Schedule.
This centennial book includes articles
written by multiple authors

Our hard copy book collection includes a few books focused on specific counties in South Dakota. One of these is Lawrence County Dakota Territory Centennial, 1861–1961 by Mildred Fielder. It contains a series of articles written by different authors on a range of topics such as mining, dairying, lumbering, transportation, education, churches, sports and more. 

Historical Collections from Deuel County follows the format of many of our bicentennial books. It provides a history of the county followed by short bios for many individuals in chronological order. This particular book is very well illustrated. At the beginning of the book they included individual plot maps for each township with the names of original landowners. These are clear and easier to read. 
Betsy Uven 1884 is one of the many biographies
found in Historical Collections by Deuel
Photos of Native Americans
in one of our South Dakota books

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

13 July 2019

More July Highlights: Going Deeper with FamilySearch, July 20

    Experienced genealogist Jane Knowles Lindsay leads a seminar, "FamilySearch: Beyond the Search Boxes." She will provide an in-depth look at the resources available through, including:
    • How to utilize the extensive catalog to discover material
    • Using the WIKI to aid in your research
    • Discovering ways to utilize the unindexed historical records
    • Finding assistance for your research questions on the Help tab

    The class is held Saturday, July 20, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Oakland Family History Library.

    To register and for more details, go to EventBrite.
    All our events can be found listed on the CGS Facebook page
    or on our website:
    or at (search for California Genealogical Society)

    Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

    11 July 2019

    Our Library Collections: Tennessee

    King Mule (no relation) and his Queen,
    Mule Day, Columbia, TN,1949 from
    the Fodor's travel book.
    One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

    Tennessee is another state packed with my ancestors so I am very happy to find that we not only have copies of Ansearchin’ News, the journal of the Memphis Genealogical Society, starting in 1957 right through the current issue – we even have an empty box labeled 2019-2021 waiting on the shelf. This is the first time I’ve seen an empty box ready to receive future publications. The most current edition is sixty-two pages and packed with well-written and illustrated articles.  

    A couple of books caught my eye because they are somewhat unusual. The first is a Fodor’s travel book published in 2006. We don’t have many travel books in our collection but of course, they are very handy for providing maps and background information needed when researching on site. It includes a chapter on the history and culture of Tennessee and separate chapters that cover each of the areas within the state.

    The other somewhat unusual book is Tennessee Divorces 1797–1858 by Gale W. Bamman and Debbie W. Spero. This seems like an odd topic to decide to devote an entire book to but for some I am confident you will find this to be a great reference.

    One of the somewhat unusual books in our
    Tennessee collection
    I also found Bible Records and Marriage Bonds compiled by Jeannette Tillotson Acklen, President of the Nashville Chapter, Colonial Dames of America, published 1933. This book mentions my third and fourth great grandfathers in the wills of Isaac and Mary Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s grandparents. It also contains several Drakes in the index that I need to follow up on later.

    I know I am biased but I really think our Tennessee collection has several exceptional and unusual books. For example, Nineteenth Century Tennessee Adoptions, Legitimations, and Name Changes by Alan N. Miller. This is not the sort of book that I’ve seen for many other states–I guess people from Tennessee are just exceptional.

    We have Genealogical Abstracts from Tennessee Newspapers 1803-1812 by Sherida K. Eddlemon – a Heritage Books publication, 1989. The index lists several entries for Drake so I will have to come back to this book as well.
    Fodor's travel guide for Tennessee has
    lots of helpful information
    Finally, we have History of Tennessee, Containing Historical and Biographical Sketches of Thirty East Tennessee Counties, published in 1887. This book focuses on the places where my Stover-Drake-Ward ancestors are from …. And I’ve never looked at it before. Keep in mind that I’ve traveled to Tennessee twice and have looked at practically every book I came across but I have never seen any of the books mentioned in this blog post. It just goes to show that our library is a tremendous resource. If you have any doubts about my claim you should come down and see for yourself.

    Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

    10 July 2019

    July Highlight: Stephen Morse on One-Step Pages, July 27

    Steve Morse, creator of One-Step Pages
    A rare opportunity to learn from Stephen Morse, creator of the One-Step Website, an outstanding online search aid which has been recognized with multiple awards from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, the National Genealogical Society, and the Association of Professional Genealogists, among others.

    Over the course of the afternoon, Steve will give two presentations:

    One-Step Webpages: A Potpourri of Genealogical Search Tools
    The One-Step website started out as an aid for finding passengers in the Ellis Island database.  Shortly afterwards it was expanded to help with searching in the 1930 census.  Over the years it has continued to evolve and today includes about 300 web-based tools divided into 16 separate categories ranging from genealogical searches to astronomical calculations to last-minute bidding on eBay.  This presentation will describe the range of tools available and give the highlights of each one.

    Case Study: Genealogy of Renee Kaufman
    This lecture presents a case study using the One-Step Webpages as well as other websites to develop a family history. It illustrates how, with a minimal amount of initial information, an entire genealogy can be obtained. It also shows how to obtain records in spite of name misspellings, and how to avoid accepting wrong information.

    The class is held Saturday, July 27, from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM at the CGS Library.

    Tickets are going fast; register at EventBrite to reserve your spot! 

    All our events can be found listed on the CGS Facebook page
    or on our website:
    or at (search for California Genealogical Society)

    Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

    09 July 2019

    Seeking Immortality: Your Family Photos Wanted!

    Now that you have done all that work of researching and finding your elusive ancestors, give them immortality! As part of our website update we are planning to create a collage of historic photos of CGS members’ ancestors for the home page. Graphic design artist Lois Elling has volunteered to design the collage and is now eager to receive your photos. This is just one of the many new features being planned by the website update team.

    We are particularly interested in showing the diversity of our members, so if you have photos that display the cultural or ethnic backgrounds of your family, please consider submitting them. Some pictures are more interesting than others as far as unusual hairstyle, props, costume, etc. Photos of individuals or couples will work better than photos of a large group. Photos may be in color or black and white – all will appear in sepia in the collage. 

    Please select and send your digital photos to Lois at: and cc: Chris Pattillo: Files should be JPG 72 dpi or higher. We encourage you to provide proof of copyright or to submit photos taken prior to 1924 which are free from copyright law. Names will not be shown. Photos may be cropped to fit the overall layout requirements. We cannot guarantee that all photos will be used. Please submit your photos no later than July 31.

    Support the website upgrade: We have already received two generous donations, from Arlene Miles and from an anonymous donor, to help pay for the website update. If you would like to support this work please consider making a donation either through the DONATE tab on our website, or by check to California Genealogical Society & Library, 2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, CA  94612-3031. Any amount is greatly appreciated.

    Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

    08 July 2019

    Update: Members Invited to Bring Lunch to Meeting this Saturday

    UPDATE: Due to a miscommunication, our previous notice of the Membership Meeting this coming Saturday, July 13, indicated the noon meal would be a potluck. Instead, we invite you to bring your own lunch and enjoy socializing before the meeting begins at 1 p.m. We apologize for any confusion!

    BYO Lunch!

    Hope to see many of you there! Please RSVP at:

    Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

    07 July 2019

    More July Highlights: NEW Mayflower Descendants group, July 20

    A new special interest group (SIG) launches this month, this one for descendants of Mayflower pilgrims. Led by Bob Trapp, the current Governor of the Alameda Colony of California Mayflower Descendants, this group will focus initially on Mayflower ancestry and how to join The Society of California Mayflower Descendants. The group will discuss research in New England, parts of Canada and the upper Atlantic seaboard states.  They will explore the materials and books at the Mayflower library and computer research web sites. Open to all, but meeting is limited to 25 attendees. Please register at EventBrite.

    The class will meet monthly on the third Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon. First meeting is Saturday, July 20!
    All our events can be found listed on the CGS Facebook page
    or on our website:
    or at (search for California Genealogical Society)

    Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

    06 July 2019

    Quarterly Membership Meeting: Saturday, July 13!

    Bill O'Neil with some of his dolls in military uniform
    If you missed the April membership meeting, where Bill O'Neil displayed his collection of dolls dressed in military uniforms--or if you were there, but want to know the story behind the figures--you're in luck! Bill will give a presentation at our quarterly meeting on Saturday, July 13.  Each doll represents one of Bill's ancestors. His family includes veterans of every war except Vietnam, starting with Rogers' Rangers. Bill himself is a Korean War veteran.

    As always, the meeting begins at 1 p.m., but all are invited to bring your own lunch and come at noon for socializing. RSVP is appreciated: please register online to let us know how many are coming. Note that the CGS Library will be closed to researchers from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on this day.

    Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

    03 July 2019

    Our Library Collections: South Carolina

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

    South Carolina research guide published by
    NGS. We have NGS guides for several states.
    Ah, I have finally gotten to one of "my" states – my second great-grandmother Joanna Gaines is from Abbeville, South Carolina. The section starts with two sets of journals. The South Carolina Historical Magazine begins in 1955 and continues through 1982. The Carolina Herald and Newsletter begins with the September 1998 issue and continues through 2018. There are three additional sets of journals lower on the shelves.

    One source I’ve seen in other states but not yet written about is the research guide from the National Genealogical Society. The one for South Carolina was written by Janis Walker Gilmore in 2011. These booklets follow a similar structure for each state. They are a good guide for where to find records. The preface of this particular copy begins, “Many genealogists find research in South Carolina daunting. Sometimes referred to as 'the black hole' of genealogical research.” I can confirm this statement. Abbeville is where the Civil War officially began and ended so for my ancestors the black hole is particularly deep. The reference includes a history of the state, information on where to find archives, libraries and societies and all sorts of records.

    We have at least fourteen books for South Carolina marriages plus many other books of other compiled records. There is a Who’s Who in South Carolina 1934-1935 that lists five Gaines but none that are related to my Gaines. I did find a William Waller in Heads of Families First Census of the United States–1790 South Carolina. This could be one of the sixteen William Wallers in my database but I won’t try to figure out which one right now.
    This book by Willie Pauline Young
    helped knock down one of my personal
    brick walls
    I was pleased to see Abstracts of Old Ninety-Six and Abbeville District Wills and Bonds by Willie Pauline Young on our shelves. During my travels I found several genealogical books by Ms. Young and they are all excellent. This book helped me break down some of my brick walls so I know it is a great source. One of the opening pages offers this quote, “without genealogy, the study of history is comparatively lifeless.” --John Fiske.
    Martha Wardlaw Hill-a possible family connection-
    in Presbyterian Women of South Carolina
    I was also glad to find Presbyterian Women of South Carolina by Margaret Adams Gist – not because I expected to find any ancestors chronicled in the dense tome but because it is always nice to find a book that acknowledges the existence of women and their role in history. This is a substantial book with over 770 pages. I suspect it has much to offer so I will come back to it later.
    This book contains the 1790 census for
    South Carolina

    Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

    02 July 2019

    "Discovering Your German Roots" July 11, 18, 25

    July is sizzling with lots of exciting classes and events! Today, we look at a FREE class that will be of special interest to those with German heritage: "Discovering Your German Roots: The Great Migration, 1815-1914."

    Longtime favorite Robert Jackson leads this three-part course, which looks at the large German migration from the early nineteenth to the early twentieth century. As he explains, "More than twenty percent of all Americans claim primarily German descent, and many more have at least one German ancestor. It continues to be the largest single ethnic component of the American population.

    "To the delight of their descendants, the documentary sources available in Germany, many of them now available in the U.S. on line and on microfilm, facilitate the assembly of family trees of great age and depth, often back to the 1500s, even for simple peasant stock (which includes nearly all of us). It is not unusual for the documented family tree of one German immigrant to contain as many as 300 ancestors."

    The class runs July 11, 18, and 25, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the CGS Library.  It is free to all, but limited to 30 people. Please register HERE to save your place.

    All our Events can be found listed on the CGS Facebook page
    or on our website:
    or at (search for California Genealogical Society)

    Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society