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28 September 2018

Nikkei Pilgrimage to Angel Island October 13

Approaching Angel Island by ferry

Taiko drummers greeted visitors at a previous year's Nikkei Pilgrimage

On October 13, please join us for the annual Nikkei Pilgrimage to Angel Island! The all-day outing is focused on the Japanese-American experience at this immigration station, which many Asian immigrants passed through—or were delayed in—on their way to a new life in America. There will be visual exhibits about the Japanese and Japanese American experience on Angel Island; a dance performance honoring the ancestors; and more. The schedule is designed to allow a free flow of activity during the day. Participants can explore history exhibits at the Immigration Station, get help with genealogy research, learn about community history and local organizations, and just enjoy time with family, friends and colleagues.

Entrance to the barracks
While Angel Island is notorious for the poor treatment of many Chinese immigrants detained there, approximately 85,000 people of Japanese descent also were detained on Angel Island between 1910 and 1940, making them the second largest ethnic group to pass through this point of entry. Before 1920, the immigration station also saw a large influx of “picture brides”—Japanese women who came to America through an arranged marriage with Japanese men already in the U.S. The station was closed after a fire in 1940, but the barracks were used during the Second World War to hold Japanese prisoners of war and Nikkei detainees from Hawaii and the Pacific Coast. All of this history makes for a rich experience

Grant Din, Judy Russell, interpreter Casey Lee, and Kim Cotton at last year's event
This is the fifth year in a row that the Nichi Bei Foundation has hosted the pilgrimage, and the fifth year that CGS has participated. Keynote speaker will be Sonoma State University president Judy Sakaki. Other speakers will include CGS past president Linda Harms Okazaki and Grant Din of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. CGS volunteers will be on hand to offer personal genealogy consultations, and participants are enrolled in a raffle of 100 DNA kits generously donated by

Day trip packages include ferry departure from either Tiburon or Pier 39. Tickets for the outing are $25 (discounts for seniors and children), with the option to pre-purchase a bento lunch. To purchase tickets and for complete details on activities and transportation, visit the Nichi Bei Foundation’s website:

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

27 September 2018

Successful NEHGS Event Nets New Members, Entertains and Informs

Bob Anderson presented 2 of the day's 5 talks
Last Saturday, genealogists and others with an interest in early New England ancestors gathered for a day of presentations by two deeply knowledgeable experts. Robert Charles Anderson and Christopher Child offered anecdotes and insights on Mayflower passengers and life in colonial New England. Anderson regaled us with the saga of his groundbreaking The Great Migration Study Project, an undertaking that was supposed to take 3 years but is now almost 30 years along, with new discoveries continuing.

Chris Childs and Jane Lindsey catch up during a break
Child gave an overview of 17th-century immigration to New England, looking at both where the Pilgrim fathers came from and how later generations spread out over the continent. He also discussed tips and tricks designed to break down brick walls in your research. An example: know your suffixes! "Junior" and "Senior" in colonial documents do not mean what we think of today. Similarly, terms like "cousin" and "in-law" can be broadly applied to a wide range of relationships. There was also discussion of how DNA is helping to solve some old family mysteries. To sum it up in Anderson's words, "even in a field that has been digged more than any other in genealogy, further digging will still be profitable."

The day was possible thanks to the work of longtime CGS member Jane Knowles Lindsey, who first approached the New England Historic Genealogical Society to plan this event. At our membership table, seven new members joined the society and twenty-two signed up to receive our eNews. We offered participants Society information and sold some books. Two memberships were offered as door prizes.  Helping me at the membership table were Kath Merilo, Karen Wetherell, and Kathleen Beitiks.

These four beautiful quilts were donated for the silent auction
Jane organized a Silent Auction asking for donations from our members. Thanks to their generosity, we raised just over $1000. A special thanks to Tracey Laubsted and Diana Wild who helped with the auction.

Thanks also to Matt Berry, who acted as Treasurer, Ron Madson, our "official" CGS photographer, and Jerry McGovern, who helped me unload all the membership supplies when I returned to the library. 

In addition to Saturday's event, CGS offered one-on-one consultations for people who had New England research questions. Our New England experts Jim Russell, Pat Friesen, Linda Longley, Pat Smith, Roger Prince, and Jane Lindsey who provided their expertise during the day.  Karen Wetherell and I were the timekeepers. 
It takes a village and one Jane to make it all happen. Thanks to all our volunteers, our silent auction donors and those who attended the event we had a GREAT weekend!

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

26 September 2018

CGS Library Collections: California, Part 2

This book on Alameda County notes that the
county seat is "Oakland the Athens of the Pacific"
Second in a 3-part series by Chris Pattillo. For a fuller listing of our books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog. Our catalog is also listed in WorldCat.

For Part 2 of a look at our California collection, I decided to explore the large portion devoted to books about California counties. I  focused on five counties where my ancestors lived. I did this as a way of demonstrating what is available in the CGS library that may be of use to other family history researchers – what can be learned about common citizens with no particular claim to fame.

I thought I had narrowed my choices, but it turns out I was overly optimistic! Our library has so many books for the counties where my ancestors have lived that it is way too much to tackle in one blog post. When I thought I was nearly finished looking at books I turned around to find a large section of books on California cities and a very large collection of San Francisco books.

This 1957 Telephone Directory is with the county
books and revealed a few facts about my family
I hadn't known before.
All four of my great-grandfathers arrived in California between 1870 and 1910. My Pattillo great-grandfather James William Pattillo arrived in California by 1887 and lived first in Los Angeles County. By 1920 he was in Fresno County, and he died in Alameda County, so I looked at each of these counties. I know that one maternal great-grandfather, William Gilliat Thornally, was naturalized in San Francisco in 1876. William and his wife, Mary, also lived in Alameda County. My other maternal great-grandfather, Heinrich Menge, was in San Francisco County by 1884 and moved to Alameda County by 1888. Last to arrive was paternal great-grandfather George Vetter, who applied for a marriage license in Los Angeles County in 1910. Contra Costa County is among the places my four grandparents lived, and I had a grand uncle who spent time in Marin County, under rather unusual circumstances.

Alameda County
I started with Alameda County and found 34 books plus one box of newsletters from the Alameda County Historical Society. A telephone book from 1957, confirmed that my family was living at 8450 Alma Avenue which tells me that our street address was changed sometime after 1957 – just an interesting tidbit. I also noted that Daughtry’s Department Store, where my mother worked for thirty-five years, was located at 7464 Castro Valley Boulevard. She started working there in 1950. In the mid-1960s, the store moved to a new location.
A large collection of Blue Books for Los Angeles
A copy of the 1890 Great Register of Alameda County voters gives proof that two of my great-grandfathers were living in Alameda County at that time and provides a number of personal details. William Thornally, aged 40, was living in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Fruitvale (now part of Oakland). He registered on August 6, 1890, and was a naturalized citizen. Henry Menge, aged 38, was living in Oakland. He registered on October 17, 1890, and was also naturalized.

I also found burial records for the San Lorenzo Pioneer Cemetery, indexed by the Hayward Historical Society. This source confirmed that James Pattillo (misspelled Pattello) died on August 13, 1926, and was one of the burials from Fairmont Hospital.

Poultry Farms dot the Castro Valley (where I grew up some years later)
Two other items of interest to me are a biography of H.C. Capwell – founder of the Capwell department store where my Mom worked before Daughtrey’s, and where my father used to go to flirt with her before they were married. I had heard that Castro Valley had chicken farms – I found photographic proof in a photograph labeled "Chicken Farms in Castro Valley."

High-quality portrait of Adolphus
Busch from The County of Los Angeles
Los Angeles County 
Moving on to Los Angeles County, I found nineteen books in our collection. Two contained information about my family. The 1890 Great Register for Los Angeles lists James W. Pattillo, who was then 41 and living at 3443 Delmonte. The County of Los Angeles, published by the American Historical Society in 1923, contains a biography of Adolphus Busch and a story about Busch Gardens. This is another of the many books in the Dorman collection. It piqued my interest because I have a few photographs of my family taken when they visited Busch Gardens more than a century ago. 

One of a few photos I own of my Pattillo ancestors
picnicking in Busch Gardens in Los Angeles County
Fresno County 
There are thirteen books for Fresno County, including a "centennial almanac" published in 1856, histories, biographies, and the quarterly bulletin of the Fresno County Historical Society. I did not find anything about my Pattillo family members who lived there for about nine years.

WWI Monument in
Pleasant Hill
Contra Costa County 
I did not find any family connections in the Contra Costa County section, either, but I did find a photo of the WWI memorial in Pleasant Hill, printed in the book Old Times in Contra Costa County by Robert Doras Tatam. This gives me an opportunity for a sidebar story: One of my other personal passions is cultural landscapes. In 2006, I started a national program called the HALS Challenge which is now run by the National Park Service. Its purpose is to document cultural landscapes. The theme of this year’s challenge was to document landscapes associated with WWI memorials. I chose to write about the WWI Veteran’s Memorial in Pleasant Hill – the one you can see from interstate 680. To learn about the history of the site I drove to the Pleasant Hill library. Well, it turns out I could have saved myself time by just tapping the books in the CGS Library. The point of sharing this story is to tell you that you can use our library for more than just family history research.

Marin County
Finally, I browsed the Marin County collection, because I knew my granduncle Elmer Pattillo spent one year there in 1923-24. The proof can be found in San Quentin Prison List of Convicts from 1851 to 1939.

My granduncle Elmer spent a year in Marin
County as a resident of San Quentin

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

20 September 2018

CGS Library Collections: California, Part 1

First in Chris Pattillo's 3-part series about the library's California Collection. For a fuller listing of our books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog. Our catalog is also listed in WorldCat.

As you might expect, our collection of California books is our largest, totaling 2,054 print books. This post will introduce a small portion of our California collection. Subsequent posts will cover California County books and compilations.
A small portion of the California Historical Society collection
Our California books are found in . . . the California Room! It's located in the back corner of the library. There are also a few oversize books in the main library along the back wall, plus our collection of California maps in the map drawer.

California 350 Years Ago - Manuelo's Narrative 
The California Room was previously known as the Dorman Room, in honor of George R. Dorman, who made a large gift of books to CGS in 1984. A blog post written by Kathryn Doyle in March 2008 noted that it was “the largest single gift to the library.” The first book (call number 855.1 G869) is California Three Hundred and Fifty Years Ago – Manuelo’s Narrative, published in 1888. Although it purports to be "Translated from the Portuguese" by "A Pioneer," the book is actually a novel written by former U.S. Senator Cornelius Cole. It imagines the adventures of a Portuguese sailor cast ashore in San Francisco Bay in the 16th century.

Instead of an index, a table of contents is found at the back of the book. An In Lieu of Preface appears up front. It reads, “The preface to a book is usually nothing more nor less than an apology for its production, and is intended in some way to disarm criticism; an end, however, seldom attained, since the critics, as a rule, read no further than the preface, taking it for granted that a work which needs an apology is not worth the perusal. If no preface is furnished, then these censors will have no alternative but to read the book through before pronouncing judgment upon it.”  This looks like a book worth reading and includes some beautiful etchings.

Etching from Manuelo's Narrative
Next are bound collections of material written by our society members, ranging from the very first California Register, published in April 1900, to the most recent edition of the Nugget. Anyone interested in more detail about the history of CGS will find it in these volumes. The original set of bylaws was published in the April 1900 Register on pages nineteen and twenty. At the time, membership in CGS required an admission fee and annual dues – each fifty cents. Listed are the original officers elected in 1898, including Dr. Edward Stephens Clark, President; Col. Adolphus Skinner Hubbard, first vice-president; Edgar Hobart, second vice-president; Theodore Worthington Hubbard, Treasurer; Margaret Perkins Deering, Librarian; Thomas Allen Perkins, Recording Secretary; and Sarah Louise Kimball, Corresponding Secretary.
Dr. Edward Stephens Clark, first president of CGS

We have materials from many state historical and genealogical groups. Newsletters of the California Historical Society fill three and a half shelves, and there are three shelves of Southern California Genealogical Society newsletters, up to 1965. I found one book plus two boxes of newsletters from the Society of California Pioneers. The book was published in December 1915 and lists all of the names of the members since the group's founding in 1850.

We also have a copy of The California Register, Social Blue Book of California, published in 1966. It lists the names of prominent citizens with their “social, cultural and philanthropic affiliations.”

Photo of a giant felled Sequoia, from the WPA's California
The last book I examined is simply titled CaliforniaA Guide to The Golden State, compiled and written by the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration in 1939. In the preface, it tells us “the editors have tried to make this book a true mirror of the state and its people.” Chapters include profiles of fourteen cities, including Oakland. There are also chapters on Death Valley National Monument, Sequoia and General Grant National Parks, Yosemite and the Golden Gate International Exposition. The bulk of the book describes tours of each part of the state – 25 in all. It would be fun to use this tour book now – nearly 80 years later - to see how the state has changed. Using this as a template, one could write a new guide describing the transformation of our state.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

19 September 2018

2018 Strategic Plan Status Report

Strategic Planning Committee Co-Chair Stewart Traiman
explains the changes to the proposed Member Interest
Database at the board meeting
The draft 2018 Strategic Plan was discussed at the September 8 CGS board meeting. Board members and guests asked questions and offered comments during a vigorous discussion. Comments have been incorporated and an updated draft has been posted on the CGS website. To view the draft, log into the website, and click on the Membership pull-down menu to access the document. Track Changes was used to show all edits in red text.

Board members Felicia Addison and Arlene Miles listen
attentively. Jane Lindsey in the background is a member
of the Strategic Planning Committee. CGS Todd Armstrong
attended the board meeting.
Substantial changes have been introduced to the Assessment of the Society section, the proposal to create a Member Interest Database, and to the proposed Wild Apricot Priority Project. The organization chart has been completed overhauled and the name was changed to Communications Structure Chart.

Next step is to take this draft back to the volunteers who serve on each CGS committee. The board will continue discussion of the plan at the next board meeting on October 13, and will present the Strategic Plan to the membership at the membership meeting later that day.

Communications Structure Chart created by co-chair Stewart Traiman

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society