18 December 2013

Dancing Reindeer

That's right - it's time for my annual Holiday Video!

This year's video stars are:

Randy Seaver author of GeneaMusings and an all around wonderful guy.

Elizabeth O'Neal author of Little Bytes of Life and a video favorite.

Jeff Vaillant who doesn't author a blog, but is the Head Honcho of the California Genealogical Society.

And a newcomer to my video shenanigans - Gena Philibert-Ortega.  Gena is the author of Gena's Genealogy.

12 December 2013

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Archives

Today my good friend Susan Saunders-King picked me up and we headed up to the foothills of Tuolumne County to do some research in Sonora at the Carlo M. DeFerrari Archive and Record Center.

We decided to make a quick stop in Knights Ferry to visit the Oakdale Cemetery where Susan's family are buried.  On the road to the cemetery you will not believe what we came across!

"I think it's a camel"

"Are you a camel?"

 "It is a camel and it's getting ready to spit.  Run for your life!"

We finally made it to the Archives.  Susan had called Charlie Dyer the archivist ahead of time with specific records requests.  So when we arrived, all the records had been pulled and were waiting for us on the table in the reading room.

Very comfy public reading room at the archives

Tuolumne County has put together a very useful finding aid for their holdings.  You can download a copy of this 104 page publication HERE.

A brief list of Tuolumne County records in the archive:
Assessment, Auditor, Board of Supervisors, Clerk, Great Registers, Justice Court, Oral History, Naturalization, Probate, School Districts, Sheriff/Coroner/Jail ,Superior/ District Court, Treasurer,  and Tuolumne County Newspapers.

Carlo De Ferrari Archives
490 Greenley Road, Sonora, CA 95370
Phone: (209) 536-1163  

25 November 2013

We Should All Have An "Attitude of Gratitude"

Dae Powell, a man I absolutely adore, has an excellent website called "Shoestring Genealogy."  He sends out a weekly newsletter to remind us of the 3 weekly GENTREK chats that he runs:  Mondays at (9:00 pm Eastern in the AOL Chat Room, Mondays at 10:00 pm in the GenealogyWise Chat Room and Thursday at 10:00 pm in the Looking4kin Chat Room.  The chats are open to the public and cover all topics of genealogy.

Happy Dae (as he is best known) shares his knowledge and has a multitude of useful items at his website.

22 Forms, Charts and Checklists - all free for you to download.

A page full of useful links and another with many search utilities.

In the recent newsletter delivered via email, Dae asks that we all have an "Attitude of Gratitude" as we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving next Thursday.

I, for one, am very grateful for Dae Powell and his contributions to the genealogical community.

24 November 2013

This is Definitely One for the Family History Books!

So a couple of weeks ago, my niece turned 15 years old.  For her birthday she wanted to go flying.  Yep, that's right, flying - and not in an airplane.

On my bucket list, item #23 is skydiving.  It's not that I want to jump out of an airplane.  At the time, it was the only way I knew to fulfill the true dream - FLYING.  Jumping out of a plane is FALLING not FLYING.

I was educated by the younger generation in our family about a place where my dream could really come true, a place where I could really fly.

In the San Francisco Bay Area there is a place called iFLY.  They use a vertical wind tunnel to get your butt in the air and keep it there.

When I am old and gray and if my sons ever give me grandchildren, this will be the story that I will tell them about - over and over again.  The day I went flying!

18 November 2013

Northern California APG Chapter Field Trip

The California History Center
at De Anza College, Cupertino, California

NorCal APG Field Trip
29 October 2013

"Le Petit Trianon"

The California History Center at DeAnza College is housed in a mansion called "Le Petit Trianon" which was owned by one of Cupertino's first millionaires and avid polo player - Rear Admiral Charles S. Baldwin.  Charles married Ella Hobart, the daughter of W. S. Hobart who was a kajillionaire who profitted from the  riches of the Comstock Lode.  Charles Baldwin commissioned Willis Polk, a renowned San Francisco architect to design the mansion.

The next owner of the mansion was heiress Harriet Pullman.  Harriet was the daughter of George Pullman - inventor of the "Pullman Sleeping Car" for trains.

Left to right: Ellen Fernandez-Sacco, Sheri Fenley, Jeff Vaillant and Lisa Christiansen

Carolyn Ybarra was the organizer of this field trip and she deserves a huge "Atta Girl" for arranging the private tour for our group by archivist Lisa Christiansen.

Regarding the photo above:  I love, love, love Ellen Fernandez-Sacco's bright red clogs!

Left to right:  Janice Sellers, Phyllis Garratt, Kim Cotton and Sharon Hoyt

Located inside "La Petit Trianon" is the Louis E. Stocklmeir Regional History Library and Archives.  Although none of the photos here show it, the room has a beautiful domed oval skylight.

Much older photo of the library see above and below.  It still has the same built-in, floor-to-ceiling blookshelves!

Left to right:  Cath Trindle, Lisa Gorrell, Ellen Fernandez-Sacco and Jeff Vaillant

Lisa Christiansen, the archivist, knows the holdings of the library inside and out. She knows all the little intricate things about all the collections that are not written down on index cards or finding aids.

One of the many in-house finding aids

The back of my head and archivist Lisa Christiansen

There are so many different collections available to researchers but a few that stood out for me were these:

The Photograph Collection number approximately 10,000 photographs that focus mainly on local families, agriculture, public works, historic buildings and the history of Moffat Field Naval Air Base.

There are over 2000 student research papers which are a unique resource for genealogists because the reports are written using primary source records, oral interviews, etc.

The Palo Alto Times from 1908-1991 is available on microfilm.

Special Collections include the Castro Family collection, Fuller Albumn, Laura Thane Whipple collection and the Bol Family collection.

A few of the great county history books house in the library

Special "Thank You" to Corey Oiesen who served as the photographer for the day and has allowed the use of these photos.

California History Center
Open Tuesday thru Thursday  9:30 am to 4:00 pm
Open Friday by appointment only
(408) 864-8987
Library use fee:  $5 per day if you are not a student
Plenty of on campus parking, however it will run about $3 per day.

07 October 2013

It's Time For Halloween Videos!

OK, I know it's a little early, but I created a new videos and couldn't wait to share it with you.

I cast some very familiar faces - Thomas MacEntee, Lisa Alzo, Bill West, Elizabeth O'Neal and me. They are all good friends who put up with my shenanigans!

19 September 2013

Ooh Look - More Shiny Things

It is National "Talk Like A Pirate" Day.  While looking for the perfect outfit, which I did manage to find,

 Google took me on a trip around the world.

Here I am at Mount Rushmore.

Egypt is hotter than home at Camp Fenley.

The Queen didn't invite me to tea while I was in England.
Not very friendly of her.

Visiting New York City

These spacesuits are not very flattering.

Going to the Moon wasn't far out enough for me so it was on to Planet Vulcan for a visit with Spock's family.

No, this isn't a country but don't I look good on this guy's arm?

And here I am back home at Camp Fenley
 where everyday is groovy!

Want to take a trip around the world or just have some fun?  Then click on over to these timesuckers:



Fun Photo Box


06 September 2013

California Mining Claims

Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, wrote a post in June about all the federal records one might find when researching mining claims and the land they are on.  It's a great article and I urge you to read it.

I am going to tell you about records at the county level and in special collections at libraries  here in California.  These kind of records most likely will not be found online.  You will have to get up off the couch and get yourself to the county recorder's office.

To help you understand the who, what, where and why of mining records here is some background information you will need.

On January 24, 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter's sawmill in California's Sacramento Valley. Tens of thousands of "forty-niners" flocked to California in the Gold Rush. In 1849, the surface mines in California yielded $10 million, reaching a peak of $81 million in 1852. 

At first, when a new mining area was discovered, a group of miners would hold a meeting to form a mining district. The boundaries, rules and presiding officers were decided upon, including who would be the Mining District Recorder. It would be that man's responsibility to keep a record book of all the claims made within that district.

Miners marked the boundaries of their claim with rock piles or wooden stakes. This is called "locating a claim" or a "location." Next they would go to the mining district recorder, give a description of the claim and location and pay the required fee.  The last step was to register their claim with the County Recorder's Office. They did not always do this, but those who wanted to be certain of the legality of their claim would do so. 

There are different types of mining claims.  Here are a few of the more common claims you might run into in California:

A "lode" claim is mining what is in the rock, in the mine.  This type of claim is limited to 1500 feet in length along the vein of the lode and a maximum of 600 feet wide.  Think tunneling and pick axes when you think lode claim.

A "placer" claim only gives you the right to what is already on the ground or removed from the lode.  There is no rock mining allowed with this type of claim.  Gypsum and limestone are also types of "placer" claims.  The maximum size of a placer claim is 20 acres.  Think gold panning or sluicing when you think placer claim.

Your mileage may differ, depending on what state you are in.  For instance - in Alaska they do not differentiate between a placer claim or a lode claim and one can have up to 160 acres.

Now just because you have a claim does not mean that you have ownership.    One can own the minerals without owning the land or own the land and not the minerals rights or you can have it all.  You would need a patented mining claim for that.  With this type of ownership the Federal government has passed the title to you making it private land - you own the land and the minerals.

I have compiled a fairly extensive list  (although certainly not complete)  of where you can find the records both online and off.

The Online Archive of California provides free public access to detailed descriptions of primary resource collections housed at over 200 institutions including libraries, special collections, museums, archives, historical societies and collection maintained by ten University of California campuses.

A search with just the word "mine" from the main page resulted in over 1200 collections listed HERE.  In these collections are photographs, maps, stock certificates, correspondence, legal documents, employee records, oral history transcripts, deeds, bylaws of  mining companies, financial records, genealogical records, family histories - the list is huge!

Here are a few more places to look for mining records in Northern California.

Doris Foley Library for Historical Research
211 North Pine Street
Nevada City, CA  95959
(530) 265-4606
Some their holdings:  Empire Mine State Historic Park; Historical Information Gold Mineralization at the Oriental Mine, Idaho-Maryland Mines Corporation Personnel Files

The Kennedy Mine Foundation Mining Archive
PO Box 684
Jackson, CA 95642
(209) 223-7968
Holdings include many of the records from 1886 through 1942.

Mariposa County Recorder
4582 10th Street
Mariposa, California
(209) 966-5719
Microfiche located at the Recorders Office:
Deeds 1- 32  A-Z, Mining Deeds, Mine Names  Index, Mine Records, Proof of Labor, Index to Locator of Mines, Notice of Location.
Quartz Record, No. 2, 1850-1852, 1 volume
This book contains a miscellaneous collection of records: mining location notices, mortgages and other instruments related to mining.
Claim Locations, 1852-1865, 3 volumes (a-C), indexed
Location Fee Books, 1911-date, 1 volume
Preliminary Locations of Placer Claims, 1851, 1 volume, 1897-1906 - 1 volume
Certificate of Location of Placer Claims, 1897-1899 1 vol.
Quartz Claims, 1897-1911
Index of Locators of Quartz Claims
Index of Quartz Mines
Proofs of Labor, 1892-1909

University of the Pacific, Special Collections, Holt-Atherton University Library
Phone: (209) 946-2404
The Sheep Ranch Mine, The Haskin/Tonopah Gold Mine,

Amador County Library
530 Sutter Street
Jackson, CA  95642
(209) 223-6400
The library has a special mining collection

Yolo County Archives
226 Buckeye Street
Woodland, California 95695
Phone: (530) 666-8010
Fax: (530) 666-8006
Email: archives@yolocounty.org

Calaveras County  Clerk - Recorder
Calaveras County Archives
891 Mountain Ranch Road
San Andreas, CA 95249
(209) 754-6371

Tuolumne County Archives
2 South Green Street
Sonora, CA  95370
(209) 536-1163

Yuba County Library Local History Archives
303 Second Street
Marysville, CA  95901
(530) 749-7386

Yuba County Recorder
915 8th Street
Marysville, CA  95901
(530) 749-7850

Placer County Recorder
2954 Richardson Drive
Auburn, CA  95603
(530) 886-5610

California State Archives
1020  O Street
Sacramento, CA  95614
(916) 653-2246

Butte County Recorder
25 County Center Drive
Oroville, CA  95965
(530) 538-7691
Nevada County Recorder

California State Library
900 N Street
Sacramento, CA  95814
(916) 654-0176
Houses a huge collection of mining records including:
Guide to the New Almaden Mines Collection, 1845-1944
Guide to the Empire Mill and Mining Company Collection, 1861-1881
Guide to the Carson Hill Gold Mining Corporation, 1917-1942

1851 Poll Tax List of Miners Along the Yuba River

Miners and Business Men's Directory 1856
Tuolumne, Calaveras, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties

Genealogy Roadshow - Mark Your Calendar!

There's a new program on PBS called "Genealogy Roadshow" that will premiere on Monday September 23rd at 6:00 pm Pacific / 9:00 pm Eastern.  The hosts of the new show are a broadcaster from Los Angeles - Emmett Miller and two well known genealogists - Kenyatta Berry and D. Joshua Taylor.  Kenyatta is the current president of the Association of Professional Genealogists.  Josh Taylor is the current president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the lead genealogist at FindMyPast.

Kenyatta Berry, Emmett Miller and D. Joshua Taylor

The show was filmed in San Francisco, Austin, Nashville and Detroit and selected participants in advance.  The lucky ones who were selected are just your everyday ordinary people who wanted the genealogists to prove or disprove a family story that linked them to an important event in history or to a famous person.

For more information on the show click over to PBS HERE.

05 September 2013

Final Session of "Mastering Genealogical Proof"

This summer I was not able to travel and attend the many conferences and institutions that were going on.  However, my "staycation" was not spent lazing away the hot summer days by the pool.  I found a way to continue my genealogical education from the comfort (although sweltering hot) of Camp Fenley.

I was one of 12 people who sat on a Google Hangout panel that worked through the new book by Dr. Thomas Jones chapter by chapter.  Our moderator was Dear Myrtle who was assisted by her trusty sidekick and real life cousin Russ Worthington.  The other wonderful people who sat on the panel were Cary Bright, Carol Petranek, Michael Hait, Darlene Steffens,  Kathryn Lake Hogan, Jennifer Dondero, Peggy Lauritzen, Lori Meyer, Pat Kuhn, Pam Drake and Barry Kline.

The book - "Mastering Genealogical Proof"  by Thomas Jones is available from the National Genealogical Society.

Below is the archived version from our last session.

02 September 2013

Mapping My Ancestors

Very cool mapping site I came across today.  It's called Map A List.  How it works - create a spreadsheet in Google Docs and the program uses that spreadsheet to create the map.  The green bubbles on the map below are a label or sorts.  You indicate what that particular place on the map represents.  On my map below, each bubble represents a location that my ancestors lived.

This type of mapping program can be used for all kinds of things - Road Trips, Locations of genealogy bloggers in the United States or Cemetery Locations just to name a few.

You can even use geocoding and there are tutorials and help forums right on the website.

So what would you use this type of mapping program for?

06 August 2013

Five Fabulous Years!

Five Fabulous Years!

To celebrate the occasion I am going to share some highlights since I started my blog back in 2008.  

My profile photo in 2008

I have ancestors that are Germans from Russian who immigrated to Kansas in 1878.  I wrote about them HERE.

I have shared my seemingly never ending research story "The Problem With Pauline."  I just recently found a new document that explains so much and will follow up with a post about it very soon.

With the FGS Conference just around the corner, a couple of posts I wrote giving tips to make your experience the best ever can be found HERE and HERE.

In 2009 I came up with the idea of Genealogist trading cards which you can read about HERE.
I wrote several posts about my sister-in-law's family.  They are Jews from Bavaria who came to San Francisco in the 1850's and became a part of the "Gilded Circle" and "Reckendorf Aristocracy."

You can read about how my life intersects with the Sisters of Providence and my need for a goodly supply of "Get Out of Hell Free" cards.

Some of my lessons learned working as a professional genealogist can be read HERE, HERE and HERE.

I have shared my artistic talent with you over the years and you can read about it HERE and HERE.

03 August 2013

San Francisco Chinatown Bubonic Plague Records

Toy Vendor, Chinatown, San Francisco [c1 by ralphrepo, on Flickr

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  ralphrepo 

I should win a prize for finding a most obscure group of records in the most unlikely place.

The place:  Special Collections at the Holt-Atherton Library, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, California  (209) 946-2404.  

The records:  San Francisco Chinatown Residential Inspection Records from 1904.

I know, who would have thought to look in Stockton for San Francisco records!

About the records, why they were created:

Called the "Barbary Plague," San Francisco was hit with an epidemic of the bubonic plague 1900-1904.  An autopsy on a deceased Chinese man by a city health officer in 1900 reported that the man had died of the plague.  The anti-Chinese sentiment of the day caused officials to quarantine Chinatown.  After objections of the Chinese community and threatened with lawsuits, the quarantine was lifted after just a few days.  In its place, health officials ran door-to-door inspections of all the homes in Chinatown.

The 4 volumes have about 300 pages each.  Volume 1 is arranged by addresses. It describes rooms, number of inhabitants, toilets, conditions of kitchen and toilets, arrangement of rooms, entry access, stairways, etc.  The other 3 volumes are an alphabetical listing of names, addresses, occupations, children and their ages.

These records could very well be the only census type record ever taken of San Francisco Chinatown and will be a goldmine of information for anyone doing Chinese research.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

31 July 2013

Simply Mahvahlous, Dahling!

According to Geneabloggers, there are now over 3000 genealogy and family history related blogs listed on their site.  The thought of trying to read them all is simply exhausting.  I do manage to read through quite a few of them as well as keep up on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and from time to time I will share with you things I found that are "Simply Mahvahlous, Dahling!"

Most all of you know that the show "Who Do You Think You Are" is back on the air, this time on TLC (The Learning Channel).  Last night Christina Applegate was the star and it was a very powerful, very real episode.  The In-Depth Genealogist has been hosting a Google Hangout after each show with the panelists sharing their thoughts about it.  Michael Hait was one of the panelists along with Dear Myrtle and Gena Philibert-Ortega and Host Jen Baldwin.  Michael said something that really rang true to me regarding my own family.  In reference to why he spent so much time researching  his step-grandfather Michael said:

"Alot of genealogists focus on the bloodline.  Well, blood comes out of the heart and he is the grandfather of my heart."

To watch the archived Hangouts click HERE.


Michael Leclerc hosts a weekly video "Fireside Chat" over at Mocavo.  This week his guest was Maureen Taylor who talked about her newest project "Revolutionary Voices: A Last Muster Film."  Great interview - the 45 minutes just flew by and left me wanting more.


Thomas MacEntee, the genealogy ninja, has a new website called "Hack Genealogy."  According to the site, Hack Genealogy is about "re-purposing today's technology for tomorrow's genealogy.


There are other blogs that share their Mahvahlous finds and I encourage you to click over and see what's up.

Randy Seaver's blog, Genea-Musings, offers "This Week's Genealogical Eclectica" and the "Best of the Genea-Blogs."

Julie Cahill Tarr's GenBlog has "Friday Finds"

Jana Last of Jana's Genealogy and Family History Blog has "Follow Friday - Fab Finds"

Ruth Blair's The Passionate Genealogist has "Ruth's Recommendations"

John D. Tew's Filiopietism Prism has "Saturday Serendipity"

Michael Leclerc on the Mocavo Genealogy Blog has "News and Blog Posts for Genealogists"

Heather Kuhn Roelker's Leaves For Trees has "Follow Friday Favorites"