Recent Posts

28 August 2019

Our Library Collections: Washington

A photo of the Lindstrom family from the The Researcher
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 collection of hard copy books for the state of Washington occupies two shelves in the Dorman Room. It includes a good selection of the standard fare of genealogical sourcebooks including cemetery and death records, marriage, pioneers, and bible records and several histories for the state.

There are two sets of journals. The first, East Washington Genealogical Society Bulletin, is limited to the years 1970-1971. The other, The Researcher, published by Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society, covers 1994 to 2001. The last edition we have of The Researcher is quite substantial, coming in at 114 pages. Featured articles include “Searching for Ladies: The Rumerfield Sisters,” “Ladies in the Shadow of the Mountain” and “Pierce County Pioneer Woman: Margaret Meyer Tiedeman." This caught my eye because of recent discussions at CGS about how to do more to help our members find their female ancestors.
Whitman Mission genealogies for the families
impacted by the Whitman massacre
A book of particular note is Whitman Mission, 29 Nov 1847 Families, including some Cayuse and Nez Perce. This book is a preliminary genealogical index compiled in 1998 by Warren Louis Forsyth. The book includes the family histories and genealogies of persons impacted by the Whitman massacre of 1847, when missionary Marcus Whitman, his wife Narcissa and eleven others were massacred by members of the Cayuse tribe because they suspected Whitman of poisoning 200 Cayuse tribe members who died of measles. On the cover page, the author added this note, “Yes, go copy what you want (including electronically, and microfilming & circulating film copies to branch libraries) of all pages for private use and public research/teaching study if proper identification is included.” Our copy appears to be such a bootleg copy, in that it has numerous hand-written annotations throughout the book.

A book about the San Juan Islands
Our collection includes a few county books and a half dozen directories. We also have San Juan Islands: The Cronstadt of the Pacific by Archite W. Shiels, published in 1938. For anyone planning a vacation to the San Jan Islands this looks like a good read.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

27 August 2019

Save the Date! Family History Library research trip planned for 2020

Photo by Daniel Spelce, 2014
Yes, there will be a CGS research trip in 2020!

Our own Lisa S. Gorrell, CG, will once again be the leader for this trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, scheduled for May 24 through May 31, 2020. (May 25 is Memorial Day, but the library will be open.) This may be of special interest to those who are attending the National Genealogical Society's conference the previous week (May 20-23).

Three hotels are accepting room registrations for the NGS conference now and they fill up fast. The official conference hotels are Hilton Salt Lake City, Radisson Hotel SLC Downtown, and Salt Lake Plaza Hotel at Temple Square. If you think you might like to attend the NGS conference and stay through with us to research afterwards, you can book your conference hotel room now to stay until May 24. Then when you register for the CGS trip, you can move into the Plaza Hotel. The link for registering at NGS Conference hotels is here.

Of course, you can stay anywhere you like during the conference (even an AirBnB). When registration opens up for the CGS research trip, do let Lisa know whether you’ll be there for the NGS Conference, too. Stay tuned for updates later this year!

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

22 August 2019

The Merger of NGS and FGS

Announcement on the NGS web page, August 21

Breaking news: The Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society have just announced their agreement to merge and to host a single, annual joint conference beginning in 2021.

Genealogist Amy Johnson Crow has put out a podcast and blog post in which she shares her thoughts on what the merger might mean for genealogical societies. As she points out, FGS and NGS have distinct missions: "NGS’s main mission is to promote genealogy scholarship and education—helping genealogists do better research. FGS’s main mission, on the other hand, is to help genealogy societies be better societies. Those missions complement each other, but they are not the same."

Read Amy's blog post or listen to the podcast HERE.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

21 August 2019

Our Library Collections: Virginia

William Wirt:  could this be the person my great uncle was
named after?
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.

At long last I’ve finally gotten to Virginia where my Pattillo ancestors are from. Fortunately for me and others with Virginia ancestors this is one of the largest sets of books in our library, occupying twenty-three shelves in section F221-235. I should also note that it is preceded by F206 and F209 that cover southern genealogy in general and section F213 that has books about southern plantations.
The collection starts with a small number of books about Virginia counties. These are books that cover multiple counties. As in other states our books on specific counties follow the books on statewide topics.

We have both volumes of Virginia Historical Index by E.G. Swem.  One of the cover pages notes that 425 copies were printed and we own set No. 195. These caught my eye because during one of my two visits to the State Library of Virginia I was startled to encounter our own Lavinia Schwarz in the library. At that time she emphatically insisted that I make time to visit the Swem library while I was in Virginia, so I know this is a good source. These books are an extensive index to articles that appear in other periodicals. Page 400 lists several Pattillos including twelve citations for James Pattillo. I have seventeen James Pattillos in my database so possibly some have made it into these journals.

There are three large collections of genealogy magazines for Virginia. The Virginia Genealogist starts in 1957 and continues to the current edition. We have the Virginia Magazine from 1941 to 1972 - the October 1972 issue of the Virginia Magazine begins with an article about William Wirt, described as “friend and confidante of four presidents. As a lawyer, he ranked with the best in the nation, appearing in many of the landmark cases before the Supreme Court … Identified by one legal historian as the “most beloved of American advocates …” My great-grandparents named their first born Wirt W. Pattillo in 1880 – an unusual name that I’ve found nowhere else in the family. Is it possible they named this son after the statesman?
Our stacks hold eight volumes of Cavaliers and
Pioneers for the state of Virginia

We have eight volumes of Cavaliers and Pioneers Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants by Nell Marion Nugent. This is a compilation of land ownership in Virginia beginning in 1607. Each entry provides a synopsis of land patents that were granted in a rather charming style. As an example, “Thomas Sully, of the Neck of Land in the Corp. of James City, Yeoman & old planter, 6 acs. Aug 14, 1624 p. 12. Within the island of James City E. upon Blockhouse field cleared in the time of the government of Sir Thomas Gates, extending towards the new blockhouse lately built. Part of the first dividend for his personal adventure.”

For those with Scotch-Irish ancestors we have three volumes of Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia by Lyman Chalkley, published in 1989.

Many of our books are devoted to specific counties, including Mecklenburg County, where my ancestors lived for four generations. We have six books on Mecklenburg including Early Settlers, Mecklenburg County, Virginia compiled by Katherine B. Elliott, a very prolific genealogy researcher and writer.
A book for those with Scotch-Irish ancestors

Next time you visit the library, check our Virginia books – no telling what you might find.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

16 August 2019

Our Library Collections: Vermont

Families of Cavendish focuses on
Windsor County, Vermont
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 Vermont books occupy five and a half shelves in the library. Most of the space is occupied by the bulletin of the Genealogical Society of Vermont, Branches & Twigs. Our copies cover the period of 1982 to 1995. We also have the Index to Branches and Twigs for 1972-1995, donated by Kathy Beals in 2000. Our set of the journal Vermont Genealogy begins in January 1996 and continues to the current issue.

We have three different state gazetteers for Vermont and at least three gazetteers for counties. There are two thick volumes of Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont by Hiram Carleton, each volume filled with more than 700 pages of dense information.

Photos of the Adams family
One of our county books is Volume 3 of Families of Cavendish: The Early Settlers of the Black River Valley in Windsor County, Vermont, compiled by Linda Margaret Farr Welch. This book covers the Adams, Blood, Burbank, French, Gammon, and Giddings families. The chapter on the Adams family includes a detailed family tree, short biographies, copies of the wills of Henry Adams, Samuel Adams, and Daniel Adams, and one page of portraits.

The History of Wallingford, Vermont by Walter Thorpe covers different periods of history and settlers, churches, libraries, industries, town war records, politics and more. It includes a nice variety of photographs and sketches.
A sketch from History of Wallingford

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

12 August 2019

For Members: Trolley Tour of Cypress Lawn, September 11

For members, here is a chance to visit one of Colma's largest and most scenic historic cemeteries, all while riding on a vintage trolley! A great way to see much of this large and beautiful cemetery. This is a CGS members-only event. The tour is geared to genealogists, and is limited to 24 participants--register soon! Details at EventBrite.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

09 August 2019

Our Library Collections: Utah

One of many color illustrations in Utah Profile
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 Utah books are cataloged in section F821 – 835. As I looked for this state in our library I presumed that we would have a large number of books for the state of Utah so I was surprised to see that in fact there is only one shelf of hard copy books – many fewer than for many other states.
Utah begins with thirty bound volumes of Utah & Historical Magazine covering the period 1910 to 1940. These were published by the Genealogical Society of Utah in Salt Lake City that has been in existence four years longer than our society having been organized in 1894. Each volume includes a list of articles found in the bound collection at the end of the book along with an index.

We have a three-volume set titled Utah, The Storied Domain: A Documentary History of Utah’s Eventful Career by J. Cecil Alter, published in 1932. The cover page tells us these volumes comprise “The Thrilling Story of Her People from the Indians of Yesterday to the Industrialists of Today.” Volume One has 37 chapters that cover myriad topics.
Another illustration from Utah Profile

Our Utah collection includes two of three volumes of Heart Throbs of the West: A Unique Volume Treating Definite Subjects of Western History compiled by Kate B. Carter. From the title I was expecting tales of Errol Flynn, but instead learned that the book covers twenty-four phases of pioneer life. The table of contents offers some enticing topics including "Historical Miracles of Pioneer Days," a chapter on pioneer women and pioneer recipes.
Kate Carter is the author of Heartthrobs
of the West

Utah Profile is an unusual source for our library. It was published by American Heritage Publications and falls in the category of “coffee table books” as far as I can see. It consists of over 400 pages of glossy, color and black and white photographs covering government, education, the arts, religions, sports, film commissions and more.
Sketches of the Inter-Mountain States: Utah, Idaho, and Nevada, published in 1909, is a more typical book for our library in that it presents profiles on the leading men who were active in the development of these three states. This resource includes biographies with photographs and a wealth of information on the history and industries of each state. 

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

06 August 2019

FREE DNA Roundtable, Thursday, August 15

An addition to our Summer Thursday evenings series: Therese Hart-Pignotti and Dawn Kosmakos will lead an informal Q&A and discussion on using DNA in genealogy. Both Therese and Dawn found their birth families using DNA and have helped others to do the same. All welcome.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

02 August 2019

Our Library Collections: Texas

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.
This issue of Stirpes includes several excellent
articles on DNA

Stirpes (Latin for family branch or line of descent) is the name of the journal published by the Texas State Genealogical Society. We have copies starting in 1961 and going up to the latest issue. The theme of the most current issue is "Navigating the DNA Maze." There are several good articles on how to understand and interpret ancestral DNA for genealogical research, from the basic “Beginning a DNA Journey” to “Use DNA Match Clusters to Organize and Analyze Your Shared Matches,” to an update on the Early Texans DNA Project. Useful even if you have no ancestors from Texas.

Our shelves hold two copies of The New Encyclopedia of Texas, first published in 1925 and  reissued as a two-volume set in 1937. The book begins with a lot of useful background information about Texas. All three volumes consist of short biographies of individuals and full-page photos with autographs. The 1937 set  has a beautifully embossed multi-color cover, a very impressive gold bookplate, and a lot of detailed artwork throughout the book.
The Encyclopedia of Texas
has a handsome cover.
After perusing forty states for this series it is rare for me to find something that I have not seen before, but I did just that with Character Certificates in the General Land Office of Texas, edited by Gifford White and first published in 1985. It features a compilation of certificates submitted by those wishing to purchase land in Texas in 1834-1835, when it was part of Mexico. According to the book's foreword, “The government of Mexico, in allowing the settlement of Texas by people other than its own residents, wanted to ensure that the new Anglo-American settlers were of high character. It did not want the province to include the criminal element or the non-productive.” Hum, does this sound familiar? The book is a compilation of more than 3,000 abstracts, each listing the name and residence of the applicant, along with other personal details and the name of the character witness. A typical example is entry number 333 for Jose Maria Cervantes from Nacogdoches, recorded on 22 August 1835: “Certify citizen Jose Maria Servantes de Bejar is a man of very good character… resident of this municipality since the year 1820… single without family… has not obtained land … [signed] Radford Berry” These 28 words tells us where the subject he was living in 1835, his marital and economic status, and that he is associated with Radford Berry.
A book of particular interest to me
A book I know I’ll return to is Tracks Along the Clear Fork Stories from Shackelford and Throckmorton Counties by Lawrence Clayton and Joan Halford Farmer. I have several relations from those counties, including a great uncle who owned a ranch on the Clear Fork. Once again I am impressed by our collection and what it has to offer.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

01 August 2019

August Offerings

Happy August to all! While this is traditionally a holiday and travel month for many, we know there are plenty of genealogically-minded folks who will be here in the East Bay this month. And we have plenty of events to tempt you! In addition to our continuing Thursday night free lectures, you may want to check out the following:

August 10: Hear Oakland Family Search Library director Ralph Severson discuss how to research Portuguese ancestry in "Proud to Be Portuguese."

August 14: Jane Lindsey hosts "CGS Day at the Oakland Family Search Library": all are invited to learn about the vast free public genealogy resources available at the OFSL.

August 17: Maureen Hanlon offers tips on "Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Birthplace" using U.S. records.

August 24: Chris Pattillo and Theresa Murphy lead a hands-on workshop for those who want to organize their family history in "Make a Book - the Easy Way."

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