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27 December 2019

Scenes from the CGS holiday party

The annual holiday gathering for CGS volunteers was held December 20. Thanks to Linda Okazaki for hosting us in her beautiful home. Fun to see old friends, meet new ones, and chat about all things genealogical.

Linda Okazaki and Jacqueline HendersonPeople eating food
Grant Din and friend talking
Linda Okazaki smiling
Lavinia Schwarz and Chris PattilloJoanna Shear and friend
Jim Sorenson and Matt Berry
Bill O'Neill and friend
people gathered around table
John Ralls and Rich Kehoe
People around table talking

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

25 December 2019

Happy holidays to all - see you in the new year

Holiday Candles, Rachel Stallworth/Flickr
Photo by Rachel Stallworth/Flickr
Just a reminder that the CGS library is closed this week, December 26-28, and January 2. We look forward to welcoming you back in the new year! May you all enjoy the holiday season.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

21 December 2019

Fall 2019 Nugget is here! Plus, a call for submissions

Fall 2019 Nugget front coverHappy Solstice, everybody! Our Fall 2019 issue of The California Nugget hit the mailboxes just before the official first day of winter. (Talk about making it just under the wire.) If your copy hasn't yet arrived, you should be seeing it soon.

The fall issue contains a number of articles we hope you'll find interesting. "The Curious Case of Daniel Duracq" follows the trail of a boy from South Boston whose adventures led him across the country and eventually into San Quentin State Prison. Also, Barbara Kridl details how an old newspaper clipping inspired her investigation into the story of an Ohio ancestor who joined the California Gold Rush. Carolyn Nash writes about the Ă–lander brothers, Swedish immigrants to California. And our columnist Lisa Gorrell offers a guide to "writing as you go" for the contemporary genealogist.

We hope you enjoy the magazine! You'll also find a preview of upcoming 2020 classes and eventsand a call for submissions! Do you have an interesting genealogical story to tell, or a research problem you've solved? Why not write about it for The Nugget? Next year marks the centennial of Prohibition and women's suffrage in the USA, as well as the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower's arrival at Plymouth, Massachusetts, so we are looking for items related to those anniversaries, but anything that might be of interest to our wide and varied readership is invited for consideration.

Wishing you all happy holidays.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

20 December 2019

Our Library Collections: Oversized Books

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

Ormerod's History of Cheshire
One of the sections of our library you may not think to look at is located at the back wall of the library. It is there that we shelve all of our oversized books–books that don't fit on the standard sized shelves. These would be filed in sections associated with the topic they cover except for the fact that they are just too big.

Many of the oversize books are quite old. Our section begins with three volumes of Ormerod’s History of Cheshire, a massive history of the county of Cheshire in north England compiled by George Ormerod and first published in 1819. These books are leather bound with decorative gold detailing on the binding. They stand 19” tall and weigh about ten pounds each–so take care when lifting one down from the top shelf.

We have a very large collection of genealogical columns from the Boston Evening Transcript spanning the period 1894 to 1941. Remarkably, these are the original columns on newsprint, each cut out from the newspaper and carefully pasted onto the book pages. Each day’s column fits on one page. The patient person(s) who created these record books helpfully underlined each family name in red, making it easy to find the genealogical information being sought. (The names are all indexed in our card files.) The columns cover a broad range of information, from wills and marriage announcements to individual queries or comments.

A portion of our collection of genealogical
columns from the Boston Evening Transcript

We have two volumes of pedigree charts collected by the California Genealogical Society from the early to mid-20th century. These family pedigrees were filled in on pre-printed forms, with space for eight generations on both the maternal and paternal sides. The first chart, for John Hart Allen (1843-1918) and his wife, Mary Helen Kerr Strohan, both of New York, is pretty sparse but others are much more complete. Some include snapshots, news clips or other memorabilia. Each chart is fascinating to look at.

The Tartans of the Clans of Scotland, published in 1886, caught my eye because of its elaborate binding. The cover page says that the book is “also an introductory account of Celtic Scotland; Clanship, Chiefs, Their Dress, Arts, etc., and with Historical Notes of Each Clan.” The bulk of this book consists of large (10” x 7”) high-quality color reproductions of each of the tartans followed by a one-page description of the clan.

man in kilt
From The Tartans of the Clans of Scotland
picture of tartan
An example of one of the tartans

Ireland in Pictures (copyright 1898) is another of the many gifts from George R. Dorman. This book consists of 400 black and white photographs of places in Ireland. Each image has a lengthy and informative caption describing what is depicted. A detailed table of contents makes it easy to find a specific place, useful if you were looking for a photo to augment your family’s genealogy.

Ireland in Pictures is just what it says, plus short narratives
The oversize section includes a lot of geographic history books, a few genealogical dictionaries, and a number of atlases. Two more volumes of interest are Edwin A. Sherman's Fifty Years of Masonry in California (volumes II and III, published in 1893). It begins with a chapter on the origin of Royal Arch Masonry, followed by chapters on Freemasonry in America and in California. This book is well illustrated with photos and engravings of historic sites and portraits of notable Freemasons. My great-grandfather and grandfather were both active in Oakland Masons, so this is a book I’ll be coming back to.

A source that could augment my own family's story
Next time you find yourself in the library, look at the back wall and see what might waiting there for you.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

19 December 2019

Why You Should Go: 2020 Trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City

Lisa Gorrell, CG, is leading the upcoming CGS research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City this coming May. Here's what she has to say about it:

photo of Lisa Gorrell
Lisa Gorrell
Our upcoming trip next year to the Family History Library will be from Sunday, May 24 to Sunday, May 30. These dates follow the dates of the National Genealogical Society’s Conference. If you would like to attend the conference, too, you will need to book your own hotel for those dates. Now, you’re probably asking “Why would I want to go to the Family History Library? Isn’t it all online now?” Yes, it is true that FamilySearch has been digitizing their collected records and putting images online, but they are far from putting it all online. Let’s talk about their collection:

Books. Many of the books in their collection may never be digitized. Books that have been recently published are still under copyright laws. Even if a book is digitized, only one person can view it at a time. Your chances are greater viewing a physical copy at the library.

Microfilm. The plan is to digitize all of the microfilm. They are having a hard time getting blank microfilm and it is very expensive. Also, the microfilm machines are getting old and it’s difficult to find parts to repair them. So digitizing the film is a win-win situation for the library. However, some of the original repositories where the records were filmed the have not given permission to publish the images online. Therefore, the only place you can view some “digitized” films is on computers at the Library itself, or perhaps at local Family History centers. This will also include microfiche.

So what is the real advantage of an in-person trip to the Family History Library?

Six days of distraction-free research
Six days where you didn’t have to do household chores
Six days of being with others who share your enthusiasm for genealogy research
Research assistance from the leader (me) or one of the experts at the library (especially at the foreign language floors)

How should you prepare for such a trip?

Decide which ancestral lines you want to work on
Record the localities where these families lived
Check the FHL catalog for the records and books that are available at the library for each locality. Some items may be available online, but if there is a “key” symbol next to the film number, that film can only be viewed at the FHL or at a Family History Center.
image of camera and key
This symbol indicates records
that may only be viewed in a library
If you find lots of books and films you would like to view, then it may be worthwhile to make the trip with CGS.

You can schedule a pre-trip consultation with the leader, Lisa Gorrell. You will also be able to have consultations during the trip at the library.

We have fun, too! Of course, the trip isn’t just all serious research. We have three planned joint meals together, and every day we get together for lunch and dinner at a variety of places. It’s a great time to share our successes and get help with our research issues.

To sign up for the trip, use this link at Eventbrite. There are limited spaces, so be sure to register soon!

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

15 December 2019

Rare opportunity to buy complete set of Civil War-themed books

Civil War book collection

Here's an idea for a unique gift for the holidays or other special event:

A very generous longtime CGS member has made a large donation of the complete American Civil War collector's series published by Time-Life in the 1980s. We have added a lot of the genealogical titles to our collection. We hope to raise funds for the society by selling the duplicate titles and the books that fall outside of our collection criteria. Usually we put such books for sale on our eBay account, but today, in the hope of inspiring some holiday shopping among our historically inclined members, we would like to make this incredible collection of Civil War books available for purchase direct from the library.
We have a complete set of twenty-nine books–twenty-eight titles, one in two volumes–of the Time-Life Books Collector's Library edition. These are leather-bound reprints of books published during or shortly after the Civil War (see below for titles). The richly illustrated books have gilded page edges, red ribbon bookmarks, and embossed images on the cover.  In excellent condition, they would be a treasure for any Civil War historian, young or old. We would like to sell the set locally to avoid expensive shipping charges. We are asking $160 for the complete set; a bargain at less than $6 a volume!

Interested? Contact our library volunteer Kristi Wessenberg for further information.
Books in the series:

Reminiscences of the Civil War by John B. Gordon

Daring and Suffering by William Pittenger

Campaigning With Grant by Horace Porter

Army Life in a Black Regiment by Thomas Wentworth Higginson

A Rebel War Clerks’ Diary, Volumes 1 & 2 by John B. Jones

Memories, by Fannie A. Beers

Army Memoirs By Lucius W. Barber

Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life by Carlton McCarthy

Richmond during the War by Sallie B. Putnam

Hard Tack and Coffee by John D. Billings

One of Jackson’s Foot Cavalry by John H. Worsham

Mosby’s Rangers by James J. Williamson

Recollections of a Private by Warren Lee Goss

The Citizen-Soldier by John Beatty

Destruction and Reconstruction by Richard Taylor

Three Years in the Sixth Corps by George T. Stevens

The Narrative of a Blockade-runner by John Wilkinson

The Story of a Common Soldier by Leander Stillwell

War from the Inside by Frederick L. Hitchcock

Battle-fields of the South by An English Combatant

Three Months in the Southern States by Arthur J. L. Fremantle

Confederate Operations in Canada and New York by John W. Headley

Campaigns of a Non-Combatant by George Alfred Townsend

A Soldier’s Recollections by Randolph H. McKim

In and Out of Rebel Prisons by Alonzo Cooper

Personal Recollections of a Cavalryman by James Harvey Kidd

Four Years in Rebel Capitals by T. C. DeLeon

Life in the Confederate Army by William Watson

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

13 December 2019

Our Library Collections: History of North America

book cover
The Journal of American History
One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo, highlighting some of our holdings at the CGS Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.
Our books on the history of North America begin with several early volumes of The Journal of American History, some bound in hardcover and some with tattered paper covers. The Journal has been continuously published since 1907. We have a smattering of issues in volumes ranging from the first (1907) to the eleventh (published in 1924). I selected Volume Ten, which covers the fourth quarter of 1916, and found that it lists several authors from each state and contains forty-eight articles, many illustrations–photographs, drawings and paintings, and even poetry. These appear to contain excellent reference material.

Our books on the History of North America are grouped in in section E and broken down into several sub categories. E 184 is for racial and ethnic groups. Our collection of books focusing on Native Americans is fairly large. It is here that you will find The Dawes Commission and the Allotment of the Five Civilized Tribes, 1893-1914 by Kent Carter–published in 199 by The back cover tells us that the “Dawes Commission is one of the most highly controversial subjects involving U.S. government treatment of Native Americans between 1893 and 1914.” Curt Witcher from the Allen County Public Library says, “This book is well-researched, all-encompassing compilation on the work of the Dawes Commission … the genealogist will find it a vital work.”
book cover
The Dawes Commission by Kent Carter examines the history of
the U.S. government stripping Native Americans of their lands.
Two other books of interest are Names of the Land by George R. Stewart and Quaint and Historic Forts of North America by John Martin Hammond. These are the sort of books I always wish I’d have with me when traveling. When I’m in a new place I frequently wonder about the source of place names. The names book covers the entire United States. Hammond’s book might inspire a unique road trip. It includes chapters for fifty forts located throughout the county. Not sure how this source may augment your family genealogy but one never knows.
Two somewhat unusual books in our North America collection.
In this section of our library are also several large, multi-volume sets of books, among them Alan Jonson's Dictionary of American Biography. This twenty-one-volume set was a gift of George Dorman. While these books lack illustrations they do provide numerous biographies ranging from half a page to a full page, in a readable point size. Other large sets include Who’s Who in America, starting with 1899 and continuing through 2001. We also have Who’s Who In The West and Who’s Who of American Women
Some of our many Who's Who books in the History of
North America section
Biographies are followed by books on American immigrants from different countries – Ireland, Italy, Asian countries, Poland, Russia, Norway, etc. We have a very large collection on German immigrants to America.

Sections E201 and E301 focus on the Civil War and the American Revolution. Here you will find several books published by the DAR and SAR. California Society Sons of the American Revolution Membership Index and Roster 1879-1986 was published in 1986 and is exactly what it sounds like from the title – a list of persons who have proven their connection to a revolutionary war soldier. We also have the National Society Sons and Daughters of Antebellum Planters 1607-1861 Lineage Book by Karen Avery Miller. For those lacking southern roots, I can tell you that the designation of “Planter” indicates someone who owned 500 acres or more, and who used the land to generate a profit.

We have four thick volumes of Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files by Virgil D. White and one small volume of Rejected or Suspended Applications for Revolutionary War Pensions, originally published in 1852. I expected to find one of my ancestors in the former but found him in neither text.
Those who received and did not receive pensions from
service during the Revolutionary War
There is much more to find among these source books. Next the time you visit our library you might want to check out our North American section.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

10 December 2019

GEDMatch is sold to Verogen

In the latest twist in the saga that has been unfolding since 2018, when DNA was used to catch the Golden State Killer, it was announced this week that GEDMatch has been purchased by Verogen, a DNA sequencing company that works with law enforcement. Verogen has said it will continue GEDMatch's opt-in policy, instated after the Golden State Killer case sparked concerns that police and the FBI could access users' personal genetic information. While the debate about privacy versus crime-solving is not likely to be resolved any time soon, many observers think this is a positive development for GEDMatch and its 81-year-old founder, Curtis Rogers. Rogers and his partner John Olson founded GEDMatch in 2010 as a site for amateur genealogists who could upload the results of a personal DNA test and look for relatives sharing matching stretches of DNA. Before 2018, the website was fairly obscure, known mostly to genealogists. Once the story of the captured serial killer hit the headlines, everything changed. Rogers and Olson were caught up in a conflict they never anticipated. It is hoped that Verogen, a much larger firm, may be able to provide tighter security over the data and better navigate the competing ethical and legal concerns. There remain many questions about how this might work, though.

Some further reading:

Business Wire: GEDMatch Partners with Genomics Firm Verogen
Wired: A DNA Firm that Caters to Police Just Bought a Genealogy Site
NBC News: New Owner of Consumer DNA Database GEDMatch Vows to Fight Police Search Warrants
Wired: What the Golden State Killer Case Tells Us About Forensic Genetics

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

04 December 2019

Our Library Collections: World History

photo of Pat Summit
Pat Summit - one of 51 Outstanding Young
Women in America in 1983
One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo, highlighting some of our holdings at the CGS Library in Oakland.  For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

Today I came to the library to tackle our books on world history but before I could start I could not help but notice a "Who’s Who" book about women in history. Turns out we have seven books in this category–each covering a different time period. The earliest covers 1914-1915 and the most recent is Outstanding Young Women of America 1983. The preface explains that each year, fifty-one women are selected who represent outstanding achievement in their fields. From those, ten are identified as National Award Winners. In 1983 Pat Summit, then assistant coach of the Tennessee women’s basketball team was recognized. Prior to her coaching career, she was co-captain of the USA Woman’s Olympic basketball team in 1976. All previous winners are listed in alphabetical order in the 1485-page book. Each listing includes a short bio summarizing the accomplishments of these women. So, if you are hoping to add a famous ancestor to your tree you might want to check section CT 3235.69 to 70. I found one Pattillo–Marilyn Machon Pattillo from Texas was a nurse researcher.

Now, back to World History in section D. It's further subdivided into DA (History of Great Britain and Ireland), DC (History of France), DL (History of Scandinavia) and DU 620 (Hawaii).
book page
A page from Honor Roll
We have a five-volume set (numbers seven to eleven)of Honor Roll World Wars I-II and Korean War Service Records of the Husbands, Sons, Daughters, etc. of the California Members of the DAR. These books were donated by Mrs. O. “Verna” George Cook, State Regent, 1956-1958 and they appear to be part of an original set of war record books that were typed by Mrs. Jules Mertens in 1946. Each entry is typed onto a pre-printed form that provides a wealth of genealogical information. In addition to name, address, date and place of birth, maiden name, rank and regiment, the book notes the service member's condition (wounded or disabled), citation or award, and a few additional facts.
book cover
Heroes All lists names of those recognized
by the U.S. government for service in WWI

The section includes several books with military information. Heroes All by Harry R. Stringer was published in 1919. This book is signed and has two news clippings from the 1930s on the dedication page. It is “a compendium of the names and official citations of the soldiers and citizens of the United States and of her Allies who were decorated by the American Government for exceptional heroism and conspicuous service above and beyond the call of duty in the war with Germany, 1917-1919."

World War II Military Records: A Family Historian’s Guide by Debra Johnson Knox gives information on how and where to find records of military personnel.

The history of Great Britain and Ireland make up the greatest part of our World History book collection, occupying eleven and a half shelves. We have one book on Hungary, eight books on French history and several for Germany. Check the Library of Congress listing online and you might find that CGS has a book covering the country you are interested in. 
book cover
A good reference for how to find military

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

01 December 2019

'Tis the Season: The Annual Appeal

Annual Appeal logo

A reminder to our members and friends:

Letters for the annual appeal from Jim Sorenson, President, were sent to all CGS members in early November. We appreciate any tax-deductible contribution that you feel you can make at this time. You can use the envelope which was enclosed or you can donate using our website. We also accept donations from non-members.


Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society