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The Livermore Roots Tracer

Volume 26 Number 2

May 2006

Editors:  Marie Ross, Lois Barber, Jane Southwick, rootstracer@l-ags.org

Web Editor: Vicki Renz, webmaster@l-ags.org

The Roots Tracer is the quarterly publication of the Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society. The mission statement of the Roots Tracer is: "Instruct. Inspire. Inform." In keeping with this mission and in the spirit of our Society's motto, "Members Helping Members," we encourage members to submit articles for publication. Material can be e-mailed to: tracer@L-AGS.org or mailed to L-AGS, P.O. Box 901, Livermore, CA 94551-0901.

The deadline for each quarterly issue is the 15th of the previous month. Submissions must contain the name of the submitter, as well as the name of the author, publication and date of any published article that is being quoted.

Queries are free. Please send your queries to querymaster@l-ags.org.

Table of Contents

Membership News President's Message Surprise Hit in Old Newspaper Search
My Family's Road to California - Portrayed on a Quilt Dollars in the Attic The Computer Swallowed Granny
G.R.O.W. The Lucky Balloonist Revisited - 97 Years Later The Thrill of the Hunt - The Joy of the Find
Finding Great Great Grandfather Schmidt - with Help from L-AGS The New England Historic Genealogical Society Comes West The Bay Area Has Schellens, Ireland Has Casey
Volunteer Opportunities Van Gogh's Family Tree Honoring Our Ancestors: Unsung Genealogical Heroes
Removing Pictures from Old Albums L-AGS Members Helping Members How DNA Helped Me Cross County Lines
Roots Tracer Staff


Member News

Membership Co-Chairs - Marilyn Cutting & Jean Lerche

Welcome to Our New Members

James T. Davis

We are grateful for the generosity of these members of L-AGS:

David Steffes

James Bahls, Sandra Caulder, Sandy & DeLynn Clark, Ted & Gail Fairfield


Membership Report As of April 30, 2006

Membership Types and Number

Total Individuals

Individual Members



Family Members



Life Members



Individual Benefactors



Family Benefactors



Honorary/Charter Members



Honorary Members



Patron 1 1
Total Memberships




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A Message from President Jane Southwick

Here at L-AGS we have had many interesting events, including the monthly meetings of the general membership, the Study Group, the Tri-Valley Master Genealogy Group, and the Family Tree Maker Focus Group. The staff of the Roots Tracer continues to provide interesting and knowledgeable information as well as a few quips and cartoons. Now we are preparing to staff our booth at the Alameda County Fair June 23rd to July 9th. Please consider volunteering some of your time to this worthwhile project. This year the California Genealogy Society will be working with us.

In the last two issues of our Roots Tracer, Sue Johnston wrote about using the Federal Census and the comparison between Ancestry and Heritage Quest census information. We were fortunate to have Sue talk to us at our Study Group and again at our February general meeting about this topic. She presented the information in such a way that a listener wanted to rush home and use her great ideas to find that missing relative in the census.

If you missed Caroline Earhart's talk on her Genealogy Quilt, you missed a great program. Caroline hung two of her genealogy quilts in the front of the room. She gave credit to her parents: her father for gathering all of the genealogy and writing it down so Caroline's son and Caroline could put it into book form and present it to her father, and to her mother who was a quilter and taught Caroline to become a quilter.

The first quilt Caroline talked about was in a Wedding Ring Pattern and on it she had pictures of her family, including ancestors. On the other quilt, which was a Road to California Pattern, was a map of the United States. She sewed in portraits of the ancestors who came from England, and one who came from France. Using a different color for each of 8 families, she showed the landing in the United States of each of these immigrant families, and the route across the United States each family took to arrive in Siskiyou County of Northern California at the same time. She also added a descendant chart at the bottom of the quilt showing pictures and a short biography of each of the family members.

During her talk Caroline told the family stories she grew up with. They were brought to life by her father, and as Caroline talked, the audience was spellbound. Caroline admitted that while she was growing up and her father became very excited about the genealogy things he was discovering, the family listened very politely but with eyes glazed over. While Caroline was working on these quilts she discovered the excitement of genealogy and was able to put it into her quilts. The glaze is now gone. The book by her father, Donald L. Meamber, M.D., is available to buy, and is an extremely interesting book. In another section of this Tracer, Caroline has written an article telling more about her genealogy and her quilt.

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Surprise Hit in Old Newspaper Search

by Nancy Southwick

Gladys Lehmkuhl's photo from The Oakland Tribune

I was surfing recently for information in Ancestry's Historical Newspaper Collection and put in my Grandmother Southwick's maiden name, Lehmkuhl. There were 142 hits and among these I found my grandmother, Gladys. One of the items listed her as a clerk in a polling place. The other item was a story written by Gladys. What a surprise! The story was placed in a magazine section of the paper where other people had also submitted stories.

What is interesting is that the family had no idea that Gladys had sent a story to a newspaper. She submitted this story when she was 18 years old, a month after she was married. I wonder when she wrote it.

Gladys grew up in a broken home, and she did have a sister. When she was about 15, she was sent to the Southwick home to become a "mother's helper." While there, the mother of the home treated her as a daughter, sending her to school and teaching her how to paint. She later became a very good artist, and was part of an artist workshop in Carmel, California. I think her dream did come true.

Incidentally, Gladys married the son of the house, Ernest D. Southwick, my grandfather.



The Oakland Tribune can be accessed on the version of Ancestry.com installed at most LDS Family History Centers, and on the version available at home by subscription, but not on the version available at the Pleasanton Library. Although there are vast resources to be found on Ancestry Library Edition, there are even more on the LDS and Home Editions. That is especially true of non-US resources and, as seen above, in the number of historical newspapers offered to subscribers and to LDS patrons.

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My Family's Road to California - Portrayed on a Quilt

by Caroline Earhart

Caroline Earhart and her genealogy quilt that won "Best of Show" at the 2005 Alameda County Fair.

The quilt I made, entitled My Family's Road to California, was actually "born" during a PBS television program. I was watching the Ken Burns series about the Civil War when I started thinking, "I wonder if my relatives fought in the Civil War?" I knew that I had at least 5 ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, so it made sense to me that I must have Civil War veterans in my ancestry, too. But who were they?

I drew myself a crude outline of the United States and then plotted the birthplaces of all my ancestors in my eight great-grandparent lines as far back as I could. Immediately I saw that my question about the Civil War was easily answered: when all those young men wearing blue and grey uniforms were shooting at each other in the 1860s, my ancestors were mostly already out west. They had followed the allure of the California Gold Rush and had moved all the way across the country. With few exceptions, they were far away from the battles of the Civil War.

My crude map drawn on butcher paper was taped up on the wall for several days, but then I realized that it would be great to have a nicer version of what I had drawn. Well, I'm a quilter, so decided to make it into a quilt. On a whim, I entered it in the Alameda County Fair. This was the first time I had ever entered one of my quilts in any kind of competition. To my total astonishment, it won Best of Show!

Even though I'm the one who made this quilt, I learn something new every time I look at it. I saw that the original immigrants in each of my great-grandparent lines had arrived along the coast of the Northeast, mostly from Great Britain, in the 1600s and 1700s. Their descendants had stayed in pretty much the same area for 150 to 200 years. Both my mother's and my father's ancestors lived right on top of each other in practically the same towns. But then in about a 20-year period, all eight lines moved west. And all eight lines ended up not just in California, but in Siskiyou County, California. Before I plotted this genealogy data on the map, I had never understood these geographical and historical trends in my ancestry.

The best thing about having this quilt up on the wall in my house is the interest that it engenders from other family members, neighbors, and friends. No one walks by the quilt without pausing to read something on it, to contemplate, and to ask questions. My grandchildren are the most interested of all. They want to hear all the stories about every ancestor on it - over and over and over again. They are already interested in their own genealogy, and they are only six and ten years old. The quilt is totally responsible for this interest.

As those of you who attended my talk can attest, my family loves to remember and tell stories. My father did his best to document the stories in his book entitled Sawbones in Siskiyou: The Story of my Family. I realize that all those dinners at my parents' home, where the family sat around and told the same stories over and over, were a priceless gift to me. (Maybe a better name for Dad's book would have been Tales at the Tablecloth!) I am trying to learn that lesson well and make sure that every family dinner at our house has all of us repeating and enjoying both old and new family stories too.

quilt_detail.jpg Quilt_detail2.jpg

One of 62 "pedigree boxes" sewn onto the quilt "My Family's Road to California"

Detail from Wedding Ring Quilt

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Dollars in the Attic

By George Anderson

The issue of Time Magazine with a cover date of October 10, 2005 has an article on page F8 that may put dollar signs in front of your eyes. The theme of the article is that many of the things lying forgotten in your attic may be worth big bucks. It is not just rarities like a letter from Abraham Lincoln that are valuable. Old account books of ordinary people, some old paper money, certain old magazines, and old postcards and stamps are hot items to collectors of ephemera. Estate liquidators hired by executors say they get an average of $500 from the paper items in estates they handle.

No one is suggesting that important family history documents be cashed in. Items that had sentimental value only to the deceased are appropriate for the market place. Papers that would damage the reputation of anyone should be shredded.

eBay and eBay consignment shops make it easier to turn junk paper into cash. It may be time for us packrats to make that bad habit pay off.

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The Computer Swallowed Granny

The computer swallowed grandma.
Yes, honestly it's true.
She pressed 'control' and 'enter'
And disappeared from view.

It devoured her completely,
The thought just makes me squirm.
She must have caught a virus
Or been eaten by a worm.

I've searched through the recycle bin
And files of every kind;
I've even used the Internet,
But nothing did I find.

In desperation, I asked Google
My searches to refine.
The reply from him was negative,
Not a thing was found 'online'.

So, if inside your Inbox
My Grandma you should see,
Please 'Copy', 'Scan' and 'Paste' her
And send her back to me!

By Valerie Waite

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Genealogy Resources On the Web - The Page That Helps Genealogy Grow!

Compiled by Frank Geasa


If you are from Illinois, you will want to visit that state's Archives site. Do not overlook the links to the Regional Archives Depositories (IRADs). All of those are searchable online databases.
Have you ever been searching census records, not found your ancestor and then wondered if something may have been spelled differently. This site listing surname variations may both help and surprise you. Courtesy of Mary Ann Loss.
This growing website has been set up to connect those doing research in England with volunteers willing to do lookups in parish registers, census records and cemetery inscriptions.
The National Archives and Library of Quebec has digitized copies of Lovell's Directory of Montreal for years 1842-1940 with more to come. Although the site is in French, the alphabetical directories are easy to use. Courtesy of Mary Ann Loss.
If you have Quaker ancestors from the Mid-Atlantic States, you may want to take a look at this site.
The Owatonna (Minnesota) Public Library has the Dalby database online with cemetery records for Steele and Rice Counties, city directories and many more vital record indexes.
If you have Finnish Ancestry, the Finland's Family History Association has many digitized church records available for searching.
Would you like to know if there are any GEDCOM files on the Internet for your surname? This web site can search to see if there are.
The public library of Salem, New Hampshire has alphabetical lists of Salem births, marriages and deaths for the period 1735-1905 on this site:
This unusual personal website lists British Commonwealth graves from WWI and a small number from WWII in many small graveyards of Belgium and France. It contains almost 250,000 names.
The Butler Area Public Library (Pennsylvania) has a growing online index of more than 75,000 Butler County obituaries starting in 1818.
Indexes of early vital records of many Connecticut towns and much more can be found at this Jane Devlin site.
This genealogy site for the Isle of Tiree, Scotland has old estate and 1841 census records along with an unusual collection of overseas cemetery records.
This Orleans County, New York web site has indexes of the county families in the NY state censuses of 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892 and 1915 plus more.
A good guide to Portuguese genealogical research with many links is this site published in the Logan Utah FHC newsletter and recommended by George Anderson.


If you have an ancestor who might have served in the Spanish American War, this site has rosters of various units and considerable other information on that conflict.


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Vander Naillen Boys 1.jpg

The Lucky Balloonist Revisited - 97 Years Later

by Marie Ross

The Roots Tracer received the following e-mail message on March 6 this year:

I happened upon an article "Life in the Past Lane" by Jon Bryan in your The Livermore Roots Tracer, Volume 25 Number 1, February 2005. It was about two gentlemen being dragged through the valley in a hot air balloon.

I know something about Albert Vander Naillen - he was my great uncle.

I wanted you to know that the supplementary information you researched and listed was correct. The death notice that you found was indeed his. His mother's maiden name was also accurate - Herladeberpen, first name Victoria. This Albert was really Albert, Jr. He was the Assistant County Surveyor for Alameda County.

Just a little historical note: He is Passenger 63 on the ship's manifest at: http://www.immigrantships.net/v3/1800v3/mascononau18590921.html

Steve Campi
CSS Construction, Inc.
San Ramon, California

The late Jon Bryan wrote the history column, "Life in the Past Lane" for the Roots Tracer for many years. He was our most talented expert in solving "Whatever happened to ?" cases.

We regularly get responses from Internet surfers who get hits on our Roots Tracer Web pages, but this was unusual - a follow-up to an event that happened in 1909. I called Mr. Campi and asked him to send me more details. Before I did, I looked up the article he referred to at: http://www.l-ags.org/tracer/vol_25_1.html#Past

The reporter waxed melodramatic in describing the freak event:

Clinging with desperate strength to ropes that threatened every moment to part and hurl them down to death, A. Vander Naillen and Captain P. A. Van Tassel, the Oakland Aero Club balloonists, were dragged for more than 2,000 feet over the rugged surface of the Livermore valley Saturday afternoon, while their unmanageable balloon skimmed along across the hills and through trees and fences at the mercy of the perverse winds.

Although bloody and bruised, both men survived.

This is Mr. Campi's reply to my request:


This branch of the family is rich in history but I don't have much documentation about them.

The local information that was available to me was destroyed in the Oakland hills fire. This included pictures and testimonials regarding the Vander Naillen School of Engineering (in S.F. prior to the 1906 quake and in Oakland after) and pictures of the floating gold dredges that they operated in California.

The attached picture (taken in 1902) shows the Vander Naillen men. From left to right: Albert, Jr.; Edmund; Albert, Sr. (father); Ralph.

There are still Vander Naillen relatives in the area though only one with the Vander Naillen name. I (grandson of Rena) am going fishing with my second cousin (grandson of Edmund) in May. We both have grandkids so there are fourth cousins that know each other.

Steve Campi

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The Thrill of the Hunt - The Joy of the Find

By Mary Dillon

L-AGS members with the DAR group in Salt Lake City. From left, front row, (2nd) Pat Moore; second row, all L-AGS: Barbara Huber, Nancy Southwick, Jane Everett, Linda Garrett, Jane Southwick; third row, Marilyn Cutting, Ann Oliver, (4th) Marie Ross; back row: Mary Dillon, (3rd) Mary Jane Maberry-Hall, Barbara Wills, Jan Watling. L-AGS members on the trip but not in the photo: Gail Bryan, Mary Ann Loss, Glynice Pomykal. Clarice Sisemore, Suzanne Wade.

I wrote this article for the Pleasanton Weekly, hence the sentences that seem obvious to L-AGS members.

What do you get when you send 25 ladies to the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City for a week of genealogy research? Fifty blood-shot eyes and reams of notes and photocopies!

Every January for the past 9 years, some members of Josefa Higuera Livermore Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (including 18 L-AGS members), along with sisters, cousins and friends from all over the country, converge on Salt Lake City to spend a week looking for their long-lost ancestors, sharing helpful hints and laughing about the one that just can't be found - maybe next year!

For people who aren't particularly interested in family history it may seem strange to spend a full week looking for "dead people" from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day. But for those of us who find it fascinating, we revel in the opportunity to spend a whole week with nothing to do but eat, sleep, research and talk about our personal histories - all on our own personal schedule. Most of us stay at the Park Plaza Hotel, which is located next door to the Family History Library, though there are several other hotels close by. With a restaurant attached, we don't have to go farther than 1/4 block to fulfill all our needs!

Books and CDs and microfilm - Oh, My! The LDS Library is considered the best genealogical library in the world with five floors of research materials. Some statistics from the FamilySearch.org website:

The collection includes over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 742,000 microfiche; 310,000 books, serials, and other formats; 4,500 periodicals; 700 electronic resources.

In 2003, the collection increased monthly by an average of 4,100 rolls of film, 700 books, and 16 electronic resources.

A majority of the records contain information about persons who lived before 1930.

Approximately 200 cameras are currently microfilming records in over 45 countries. Records have been filmed in over 110 countries, territories, and possessions.

They also offer a variety of genealogy classes each day, free of charge to visitors.

The top floor is devoted to US/Canada books with information on every state in the US, along with most counties, and Canadian resources. The next floor houses US/Canada Microfilms with films of U.S. Censuses, old books and personal papers of early researchers. The Main floor is devoted to copies of published family histories and biographies. There are two floors underground: B1 Floor is international books and microfilms (there are also consultants who speak and read more than 30 foreign languages to help researchers), while B2 Floor is devoted to books and microfilms from the British Isles. Along with numerous CDs of information, each floor has a bank of 40 computers with access to the library catalog, free access to subscription web sites like Ancestry.com, the LDS Family Search.org website (always free), and Internet access. There are also banks of microfilm and microfiche readers and some film copiers on the floors that house the films. Each floor is equipped with large library tables and comfortable chairs for research and about five copiers on each floor to take care of your copying needs at five cents per copy. There is also plenty of free help available from the knowledgeable LDS Church members who work at the library, or you can hire a professional genealogist to do your research.

The library is free and open to anyone, the only cost being the copies you make. Library hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mondays and 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays. There is even a lunchroom on the main floor with vending machines and two microwave ovens. Researchers from around the world come to visit the library to both research and contribute to the resources. A gentleman at the information desk said they had an average of 1,100 visitors per day during the week between Christmas and New Years, the slowest time of year. Most weeks average 2,000 to 3,000 visitors per day!

So what did we find? Most of us found just little tidbits that help us piece together a better view of who our ancestors were and how they lived. Genealogy is often compared to a jigsaw puzzle as you have to look for a lot of little pieces to find the whole picture. One member of our group found an ancestor of her husband's who had been a shoemaker. Along with this information she also found a great description of the jobs of the tanner, the currier and the shoemaker. For me, I felt lucky to finally find two of my son-in-law's great-grandfathers that I couldn't find on census forms for 1910 and 1920. I could find them on the 1930 Census, but now I know one decided to change his name from Thomas R. to Robert once he became an adult. The other I still couldn't find in the early census, but I found him in a 1900 census as an illegitimate son, eight years older than the age given on the 1930 census. One thing you learn quickly is not to take any one piece of information as being the whole truth! But with marriage records found in books and some other sleuthing I was able to get back to 1860 on both families.

My great find was the family of my husband's great-great-great grandmother. All I knew was her maiden name and that she'd been born in Ohio about 1805. I'd looked before, but not found much. This time I was able to find her father and, by using a published genealogy of the early family, take the line back to 1690. I still have information I want to know, but will probably have to go to the county in Ohio where he lived to see what their archives hold. My husband says it's not a real vacation unless he gets to watch me digging through dusty county records or wandering through a cemetery in the rain looking for ancestors!

If you've thought about starting to work on your own family history, Pleasanton is a great place to live. The Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society meets at Temple Beth Emek in Pleasanton on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. and everyone is welcome. To find out more, check out their website at www.L-AGS.org. Or visit the Pleasanton Library where there are over 1000 books on genealogy, plus 570 CDs. Docents from the genealogy society are on hand three times each week to help you get started: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday, and 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday. The library also has free subscriptions to Ancestry.com, Heritage Quest and the New England Historical Genealogy Society websites.

There is a wealth of information elsewhere in the greater Bay Area including at Sutro Library, the Bancroft Library and the National Archives Repository. And, of course, the local LDS churches in Pleasanton and Livermore have family history centers with books, microfilm, free Internet access to Ancestry.com and the ability to order microfilm on loan from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

While we all sat at the airport waiting for our flight home and sharing our tales of the hunt, we agreed that while it wasn't a restful week, it was an exciting one. And we've already made our reservations for next year!

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Finding Great Great Grandfather Schmidt - With Help from L-AGS

By Barbara Hempill

My biology teacher in high school gave my class the assignment of drawing a family tree. For some reason I saved that huge 22" x 17" sheet of paper all these years.

Fortunately, my parents were in their forties at the time and provided me with names of parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, as well as grandparents. But they knew no names further back than that.

My dad said his grandmother, Elizabeth Sommer, had been Elizabeth Schmidt before she was married and that she had been born in Baden. He also knew her youngest sister, Ida, was born in Chicago. And he could remember their siblings Jacob, Fred, Charles and Edward.

These names were repeated when my great grandmother had children and named two of her sons Jake and Fred. And my grandmother, Emma, named my dad George Jacob and his brother Eugene Charles.

I also have two tantalizing photographs taken at a studio in Chicago in 1886 of my great great grandfather and great great grandmother Schmidt. But, unfortunately, no one ever thought to write their given names on the back of the photos.

When I researched the 1900 census records for Chicago, Illinois, they confirmed that my great grandmother Elizabeth Sommer and her younger sons, Fred and George, were living with my grandparents and their two little daughters. Unfortunately, great grandfather Jacob Sommer died at 44 years of age of cirrhosis of the liver. Although he was a barber by day, by night he played the piano in a saloon. Evidently many of his "tips" were alcoholic, and they took their toll. As a result, while my grandmother Emma waited on trade in grandfather's bakery, her mother took care of the children.

I was able to find online a record of Elizabeth and Jacob Sommer's wedding in Chicago, so I sent for their license. However, it provided no other data than the date of their marriage. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a record of my great grandmother's death certificate even though I had gotten the date of her interment from Evergreen Park Cemetery where my grandparents are also buried. In the process I discovered that great grandmother's husband, Jacob, had been originally buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Chicago and later removed to be reburied next to his wife at Evergreen Park Cemetery in Evergreen Park, IL.

Since I knew Elizabeth's name and knew that she was born in Baden, Baden, I looked at a CD of German Immigrants to the U.S. in the Pleasanton Library for a child with that name. Indeed I found a nine-month-old Elizabeth who came with her parents M (male) and B (female) and a four year old brother Peter. So I sent for the ship's manifest from NARA. It seems strange to me the children's names were spelled out, while the parents' names had only initials.

But, of course, I'd hoped to get her parents' full names so I could look them up in the Chicago 1860 census. How many M and B Schmidts do you think there were in Chicago in 1860? Well, Ancestry.com has a little pop-up box that informs you that there were more Schmidts in Chicago in 1860 than anywhere else in the U.S. That was not very encouraging.

However, I remembered that my dad said the Schmidts had a family plot at Oakwood Cemetery in Chicago. As a child I used to go with my dad to visit several graves there and plant geraniums on Memorial Day. He also said something about the plot getting very crowded over the years. That's probably why Jacob Sommer was removed. Someone from the direct Schmidt bloodline may have wanted the space. Also, I remember that by the time Aunt Ida, the youngest sibling, died around 1950 there was no space left, and she was cremated. So I wrote Oakwood Cemetery to see whether they had an M and B Schmidt buried there. The list they sent included only people whose names began with M, and all but one of them was a female. The one male was too young to be the person I needed.

Then I attended a recent L-AGS meeting where the census was discussed, and I read Susan Goss Johnston's two articles in the November 2005 and the February 2006 issues of Roots Tracer, and I took heart.

I started with Ida, who I figured had to be born around 1870. I remembered Aunt Ida from my childhood. She was a very vigorous and assertive person who didn't want to be cremated. I found a 3-year-old Ida Smith in the Chicago, IL 1870 census. Her older siblings were Edward, Charles, Emma and Elizabeth; and her parents were Elizabeth and Frederick - and the parents and sister Elizabeth came from Baden! Since four of the siblings' names were the same as those my dad had given me, this seemed to be the family. This was too good to pass up, so I went back to the 1860 census to see whom else I could find. In 1860 the family is listed as Fred and Eliz Smith with children Fred, Jacob, Wm, Elizb, and Emma. All of them were born in Baden but Emma who was born in Illinois.



George Frederick Schmidt and his wife, Elizabeth

The 1880 census showed George F. Schmidt, his wife Lisbeth and three children still at home - Charles, 17, and Edward, 15, who were laborers, and Ida, 13, at school. George and Lisbeth finally were given the name Schmidt, and now they were shown to have been born in Prussia. But this change just reflected the political changes in Germany.

Now that I know the names of my great great grandparents, I can research when they arrived in the U.S. I think it was probably between 1853 and 1859 since there is a six year age gap between Elizabeth and Emma. Also, it's possible George Fredrick came to the U.S. first and his family followed. Emigration and immigration records often list the exact place of origin of persons, so I may be able to find them in German documents and learn about the lives of my ancestors there.

The way my dad told it, his great grandfather had an altercation with some soldiers who were trampling through his little farm in Germany, and he chased them off with his pitchfork. Consequently, he may have had to leave in a hurry. Finding him in Germany may help me confirm that fascinating incident!

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"I'm writing about all the things I ought to do before I die. It's my oughtobiography."

FamilyHistory-Westra@snapwood.com, quoted in the Logan [Utah] Family History Center Newsletter, 22 Mar 2006


The New England Historic Genealogical Society Comes West

by Jane Southwick

Duncan Tanner, Paula Brown, Betty Ryon and I drove to Berkeley on February 23rd to attend the talk given by D. Brenton Simons, Executive Director of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). Brenton spent the first hour describing the NEHGS.


Then after a delicious buffet, he talked about his new book, Witches, Rakes and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775. One reviewer on Amazon said of the book, "This is a delightful, informative and well-written set of tales about our less-than-pure Puritan forefathers. The stories are fascinating and Simons is an engaging storyteller."

It was a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. The information about NEHGS was enlightening. When he was finished I felt I would really like to visit their library in Boston. But, he also told us about many online resources we could access from their website: http://www.NewEnglandAncestors.org

All of databases in the following list are available online at the Pleasanton Library to everyone holding a library card. Those marked "(members)" are available online at home without charge to those who join NEHGS. Those marked "(free)" are freely accessible to the public.

While I was writing this article I kept looking on the site at the things Brenton had mentioned and discovered so much more. This is a very helpful site and getting better all the time with daily updates. These updates appear on an E-news format that can be accessed by anyone, whether a member or not.

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The Bay Area Has Schellens, Ireland Has Casey

By Connie Pitt

I am doing research for a lady who wanted to know where in Ireland her McCarthy surname came from. I have been researching this at the Sutro Library in San Francisco, and found a very helpful resource put together by an Albert Casey. Like Schellens ( http://www.L-AGS.org/schellens/schellens.html ), Albert Casey was a collector of information. Before some of the records were closed by the Church, he got into them (everywhere!) and copied the records for Kerry and Cork. He talked to all the historians in each area in both counties.

The Albert Casey collection includes estate records, legends, poetry, popery law, The Annals of the Four Masters. There are 2000 pages explaining the origins of all Irish surnames and where they resided, along with the history of Ireland in Gaelic and English. The Griffiths Valuation is completely typed out. The 16 volumes are packed with information and have an index in the back of each book. There are some maps, one of which shows that the McCarthys are living north and south of the mountain range between Killarney and Kenmare, which they chose because they could easily hide there.

Part of a record may be in Volume 1 and the rest may be in Volume 6. It just depends on what Casey had ready to publish at the time the volumes went out. But there is an index in each.

Researchers should bring a magnifying glass as Casey, in some of the volumes, started reducing the size of papers that he was including, putting four 8½ x 11 sheets of paper on one page. There are some other books on the shelves around the collection that are books about Ireland/surnames etc.

There are many Web sites that describe the Albert Casey collection. One of these is http://www.rootsweb.com/~irish/igsi_published/casey.htm.

This is a site that contains an article describing the Albert Casey Collection. The article is written by Ray Marshall of the Minnesota Genealogical Society and was first published in "The Septs," the Quarterly Journal of the Irish Genealogical Society, International. In the article, Mr. Marshall describes the 16 volumes of primary and secondary genealogical and historical records of Ireland, which contain over 3,000,000 names, all indexed alphabetically.

Albert E. Casey was an Alabama pathologist who created and compiled this collection in the course of researching his own family history and had it published between the years 1952-71 by the Amite and Knocknagree Historical Fund in Birmingham, Alabama. Most of the original records were compiled by folks in Ireland. Casey hired typists, copiers, and indexers for the preparation of these volumes.

These volumes cover only a small portion of northwestern Cork and eastern Kerry. The name of the Collection "O'Kief, Coshe Mang, Slieve Lougher, and the Upper Blackwater in Ireland" came from a 1605 map. The O'Kiefs were the kings and owners of southern and western Duhallow Barony (Cork) before that time. Coshe Mang (from the Maine River) is in eastern Magunihy Barony (Kerry). Slieve Lougher ("Bog with Cattle") and Upper Blackwater (from the river of the same name) comprise portions of Muskerry West (Cork) and Trughanacmy (Kerry) Baronies. Mr. Marshall lists the topics in each of the 16 volumes. He also gives a partial list of the locations where the Casey Collection can be accessed.

For further information, see the RootsWeb URL cited above.

Volumes 1-14 have been filmed by the LDS (FHL BRITISH films 823801-9). Many birth and marriage records transcribed from parish registers by Casey can be found by searching the IGI at http://www.familysearch.org/eng/default.asp.

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Volunteer Opportunities

By Lois Barber

By the time you read this, 2006 National Volunteer Week, April 23-29 will only be a memory. Some volunteers will have been recognized, in some way, for their participation. I hope that you may have been one of them.

The 2006 theme is "Inspire By Example" because it truly reflects the power volunteers have to inspire the people they help, as well as to inspire others to serve! Please keep this in mind when you offer to serve an organization of your choice. It would be wonderful if there were more volunteers approaching organizations instead of organizations trying their best to entice volunteers to help in some way.

There are some volunteer activities for L-AGS members that require no more than three hours per month, perhaps even less. I recommend that you tell yourself you can give three hours a month. I am discouraged if I multiply those three hours by 12 months or 52 weeks. So don't think about the time you are taking away from something else. You may also find that you get more genealogy research accomplished when you volunteer than when you do not.

As a result of my shift at the Pleasanton Library I recently broke down a brick wall that I hadn't worked on in some time. It seemed there was always something more pressing that I wanted to research until one night when there were no genealogy patrons needing me, I took another look at an old problem. When I have all the parts of the puzzle put together, I will submit an article to the Roots Tracer.

Here are a couple of quotes on volunteering:

You cannot help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself. - General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation's compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another. - Erma Bombeck

Requests for your participation in some volunteer opportunities follow. Please consider supporting ones that interest you. I recognize that this list has gone out to the membership, but perhaps this will be seen by others outside the membership who will give of their time and talent. For more details, call the contact listed. An inquiry is not a commitment.

L-AGS: Docents at the Pleasanton Library



One of the more pleasant occasions that we encounter while searching for our family history is the very satisfying opportunity to meet and assist another researcher.

Consider joining other L-AGS members who volunteer as Library Docents three hours per month to open the doors of our hobby to the general public.

Please respond to pmlofft@comcast.net to consider volunteering as a Library Docent on one Wednesday morning or evening or one Saturday morning each month to share your interest in our hobby with others. I will provide a complete orientation in the Pleasanton Library at a mutually convenient time.

Patrick Lofft, pmlofft@comcast.net, 462-2545

L-AGS: The Alameda County Fair



We are preparing for our seventh year of demonstrating the marvels of online genealogy research to the public at the county fair in Pleasanton. We need those who sit down with fairgoers and work the computers, as well as those who feel unsure of their computer talents who greet the public and write down information that will help the computer staff. There will be a Web page that will allow volunteers to sign up online for the days and hours they want to serve. There will also be orientation classes for those who want to work the computers. We also need volunteers to set up and take down the booth.

Gail Bryan, gailvb@aol.com, 447-9407

L-AGS: The Livermore Roots Tracer



Publishing our quarterly periodical, the Roots Tracer, takes people with a variety of interests. We need volunteers to:

  • write articles
  • draw illustrations and cartoons
  • photograph L-AGS events
  • edit photos for publication
  • collect articles and fillers from other sources
  • contact members who might have a story to tell
  • edit and proofread submissions
  • prepare the reproducible copy for publication
  • deal with the printer
  • help attach address labels and stamps

George Anderson, gwajr@comcast.net, 846-4265

Livermore Family History Center (FHC)



The Livermore FHC was established as a resource to the public to do family history research. The center is equipped with computers, microfilm and microfiche readers and access to the Internet to enable patrons to do family history research online. The center can order film for patrons from the vast collection at the Family History Center in Salt Lake City.

Our need is for volunteers to help visitors to the center carry out their research. That entails suggesting sources, orienting them on the equipment, helping them go online, and ordering film. We would sincerely welcome and appreciate anyone who would be willing to help out on at least one three-hour shift per month.

Details about the FHC are at http://www.l-ags.org/libraries/libraries.html.

If you have any questions or would like to see the center or be a volunteer please call me.

Jim Davis, jamesdavis@comcast.net, 925-447-4078

Friends of the Pleasanton Library



All the staff at the Pleasanton Library are very grateful for the L-AGS docents, but there are many other positions going wanting. From Bookleggers who tell children's classes in local schools about special books, to the sorters, who make the efficient book sale possible by gathering each Monday morning and boxing donated books into their categories, to the kinds of behind-the-scenes clerical jobs that keep libraries going. The public you meet and the staff are book lovers, the best people in the world. Nancy Bering, the Volunteer Coordinator for Pleasanton Library, is always looking for you.

Judy Person, dnjperson@comcast.net, 846-6972

The Livermore Heritage Guild (LHG)



The LHG is always looking for volunteers who are interested in local history. The Guild would like to train a few more docents so that we can keep the Carnegie Building open for a few more hours during the week and on weekends. We also would like folks to volunteer to help us catalog our holdings so that they can be more easily accessed by the staff and the public. The Guild would also like to have interested people participate in creating new displays. The Guild also owns the Duarte Garage, which in itself is a museum. Volunteers interested in mechanical things would be welcomed to participate in restoration and maintenance of vehicles owned by the Guild. If you are interested, please contact Larry Mauch, President, 443-8596, or me.

David Abrahams, dmabr1@comcast.net, 447-9386

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Van Gogh's Family Tree


His dizzy aunt ............................... Verti Gogh

His magician uncle ............ Where Diddy Gogh

His Mexican cousin .................... A Mee Gogh

The banker nephew ................ Wells Far Gogh

The ballroom dancing aunt ............. Tang Gogh

The bird lover uncle .................... Flamin Gogh

His nephew psychoanalyst ................. E. Gogh

The fruit loving cousin .................... Man Gogh

The little bouncy nephew ................. Poe Gogh

A sister who loved disco ................... Go Gogh

The rheumatic aunt ................... Lumbay Gogh

The hippy nephew ......................... Bong Gogh

And there ya Gogh

Thanks to Dolores Olness

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Honoring Our Ancestors: Unsung Genealogical Heroes

By Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

The genealogical world is an amazingly generous one and it's hard to keep track of all those who do kind turns for others simply because they can. But there are a few who stand out from the pack - a few who provide tools, resources or services that help countless strangers and receive only a fraction of the credit they're due. I'd like to periodically recognize these unsung genealogical heroes - and I invite you to e-mail me your recommendations for candidates to be featured in future articles. To get us started, though, I'd like to tell you a little about five people I think the world of. Each one of them has helped hundreds, if not thousands or even millions of us, with their talents and time.

Steve Morse

Steve Morse first made a big splash in the genealogical world back in 2001 when he quietly uploaded some search forms to make it easier to find those ancestors-in-hiding in the Ellis Island database. Someone discovered the forms and told someone - and that someone told someone else. And so on. And before you knew it, everyone was using his site to dig through the Ellis Island records. What many don't realize, though, is that Steve has continued to create customized search forms for numerous other databases. He now has forms for everything from passenger lists (through multiple ports) to New York City vital records to public records. If you haven't been to his site recently, you're in for a treat.

Joe Beine

Joe Beine has made a handful of cameo appearances in my articles before and it seems I mention him in just about every talk I deliver, but it's impressive how few people have heard of him. Every time I quiz an audience about Joe, I get mostly blank looks. And that means I get the credit for being the first to introduce them to his online guide to "Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records." If you have ever had cause to search for death-related data - and what genealogist hasn't? - you need to bookmark this site. It's not fancy, but it provides links to hundreds of sites containing or pertaining to death records, death certificate indexes, obituaries, probate indexes, and cemetery and burial records. Better yet, it's all cleanly laid out and organized geographically, starting at the state level and working down through regional, county and city levels. I can't tell you how many times I use this site, and increasingly, Joe's lists for other topics (such as military, census, and other vital records) that can be accessed by clicking on "Genealogy Links" at the bottom of the home page.

Marge Rice

I first wrote about Marge Rice back in 2002 in one of my earliest "orphan heirloom" articles. At the time, Marge had personally rescued 409 photos and returned them to family members. I was so impressed with her efforts that I added a Marge-o-Meter to one of my websites. If you check it out now, you'll see that Marge has single-handedly returned 900 photos to 667 people! You may not have heard of Marge before, but if you're one of those 667 people, she's a genealogical rock star in your eyes! You can read more about her in "One Woman and Her Tireless Reuniting Effort."

Tracy St. Claire

Another remarkable rescuer is Tracy St. Claire. This article from August 2004 discusses Tracy's efforts to protect and preserve hundreds of Bibles by transcribing and digitizing any family-related pages and posting them online at Bible Records Online. As of the writing of this article, Tracy had 1,140 Bibles online with 5,638 instances of 3,439 surnames. And yes, this is all a one-person effort, hard as that may be to believe.

Jim Tipton

I've never had the opportunity to even have an e-mail exchange with Jim Tipton, but I love the site that he and his team dreamed up. In fact, it was recently key to cracking one of my cases for the U.S. Army's Repatriation Project. If you haven't explored FindAGrave.com, take a few minutes now and poke around. At last count, more than 9.2 million graves were indexed here, and thanks to the constant stream of data added by enthusiastic contributors, this number continues to grow in leaps and bounds. In fact, I find it entertaining just to peruse the profiles of the top fifty contributors to learn more about them and see what motivates them. You can search by name or by cemetery, or even for gravesites of the famous, who can also be browsed in clusters ranging from magicians to Medal of Honor recipients. A surprising number are accompanied by images of the actual tombstones.

Please Take a Moment

Each of the above heroes can be reached through their respective website and I hope that some of you will take a moment to drop a note to one or more of them. And if I might be so bold, I'd like to suggest that you not make your e-mail do double-duty by asking them for personal assistance. All of these people are routinely bombarded with e-mail, so if we ask questions or request a response, our expressions of gratitude will only add to their respective to-do lists. For now, let's just restrict ourselves to saying, "Thanks!" And as mentioned earlier, I will gratefully accept your e-mails with suggestions of others unsung heroes.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak is co-author (with Ann Turner) of Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree (as well as In Search of Our Ancestors, Honoring Our Ancestors and They Came to America). Ms. Smolenyak can be contacted through www.genetealogy.com and www.honoringourancestors.com.

From Ancestry Daily News, reprinted with permission - http://www.ancestry.com/dailynews
Copyright 1998-2005, MyFamily.com, Inc. and its subsidiaries.

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Edubk091.gif Tips from Paula Stuart-Warren, CGRS

Removing Pictures from Old Albums

Many of you are probably in possession of a magnetic photo album. These albums, which came out 25-30 years ago, were made from a thick paper stock coated with glue strips and included a thick Mylar plastic covering for each page. Conservators have discovered, however, that the glue used in those albums had a very high acidic content that can eat through the backs of the photographs. The Mylar seals in the acidic fumes, causing deterioration to the image side of the photos as well. In some cases the plastic covering used wasn't even Mylar, but PVC (Poly-Vinyl Chloride), a plastic that further accelerates deterioration.

If you do own one of these magnetic photo albums full of precious family pictures then you need to do something now to try and prevent further deterioration. Begin by gently trying to peel up the corner of a photo that doesn't mean a lot to you. If it doesn't come up easily, then STOP. You will only end up ruining the picture. Instead try one of these tips for removing the photos:

  1. Dental floss can work wonders. Use a piece of unwaxed dental floss and run it between the picture and the album page with a gentle sawing motion.
  2. Un-du, a product commonly used by scrapbookers, is an adhesive remover that may help safely remove the photos. It comes with an attached tool to help you get the Un-du solution safely under the photo to help release it. It is safe for use on the back of the photos, but be careful not to get it on the images themselves.
  3. Try putting the album in the freezer for a few minutes. This can make the glue brittle and make it easier to remove the photos. Be careful not to leave the album in for too long, however, as it may cause condensation to build up on the photos as the album comes back to room temperature.
  4. Some photo experts recommend using the microwave to try and loosen the adhesive. Place a page into a microwave oven and turn it on for five seconds. Wait five to ten seconds and then turn it on for another five seconds. Follow this procedure for several cycles, being careful to check the adhesive each time. Do NOT try to hurry the process and turn on the microwave for thirty seconds, or the glue will become so hot it will probably burn the print. Once the glue is dissolved, you can try again to lift up the corner of one of the photos or try the dental floss trick.
  5. Slide a thin metal spatula gently under the edge of a photo and then use a hairdryer to heat the spatula as you slide it slowly under the photo. This may heat the glue enough to help you remove the photo safely from the album. Be careful to keep the hairdryer pointed away from the photo itself.

From genealogy.about.com, Genealogy Tip Of The Day

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L-AGS Members Helping Members

By Elliott Healy and Stephen McLeod

Elliott Healy posted the following query on the members-only e-mail forum: "My Father and Mother immigrated to Massachusetts from Nova Scotia in the early 1900s. Where might I find their immigration records?"

Stephen McLeod, L-AGS member from Broad Run, Virginia, answered:

I have done a lot of research on Nova Scotia. My grandfather, Capt. John Daniel McLeod, was born in Pictou, Nova Scotia. He and many of his relations, including his father, emigrated to Boston, then to California. He had many relatives who stayed in Massachusetts, but I have not done a lot of research in that area to find them.

The first thing you need to do is find census entries with the year of immigration. Next search the passenger records for Boston. They are microfilmed and at the National Archives. Check the branch at San Bruno to see if they have copies. These passenger lists have spotty indices, but I believe the Boston passenger index at NARA is a good one.

My problem has been making any positive identification of the individuals in the passenger index. With so many people with the same name and coming from Canada or Nova Scotia, the only way to make a positive ID is to find an entry in the microfilmed passenger list that includes a family group. If you have at least two people together with the right names and ages then you can be very sure about the identification. Also, people traveled back and forth between Nova Scotia and Boston, so finding an entry does not mean that is the first time that person arrived in Boston. I wish people were more precise about where they came from when they provided information for these passenger lists.

You might want to check the Boston-States web site and e-mail list for any indices to Boston passenger lists.



I doubt that you can find anything more than a passenger list for immigration. At least I haven't heard of any government records beyond that.

The process to gain US citizenship was different before 1906. Before 1906 a male immigrant would make a declaration of intent, then in five years file an application, and finally a certificate would be issued. The declaration of intent would have a lot of useful information, but I have yet to find one. The application and certificate just have names and date of action. Female and minor children were considered citizens when the male head of household became a citizen. Any of these steps could have been done in any county, state, or federal court. Federal records are on microfilm at the National Archives. They are indexed, mostly.

The index of naturalizations for California seems better than others. Anything done at the California 4th District Court prior to 1906 was destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake and fire. I have an original citizenship certificate issued by the 4th District Court dated 15 May 1874 for a cousin of my great grandfather because my great grandmother saved it. I got certificates issued by the Federal Northern District of California Court from the National Archives at San Bruno for two brothers of my great grandfather and know I have the right people because they became citizens at the same time on 30 Apr 1873. Their declarations of intent were made at the California 4th District Court so they burned up in 1906. I have found nothing for my great grandfather and suspect that he never became a citizen.

Look at this page for passenger list information:


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How DNA Helped Me Cross County Lines

By Mary Ann Loss

Up until a couple of months ago I found the prospect of DNA curious, but could see no application in my genealogy research.

Things have changed in my world and very possibly a DNA test or two could help you, too.

My family has always known the identity and most of the pertinent information about my 2nd great-grandfather, Lewis Milton Loss, but didn't know his parentage. He was born 13 October 1825 in Madison County, New York

While in Salt Lake City this past January, I located information on the Moses Loss and Susannah Eells family from Skaneateles, Onondaga County, New York. None of their children was named Lewis Milton, but Moses had documented siblings.

So, I looked at a map, saw that the two counties are relatively close, and contacted the Skaneateles historian, Patricia Blackler. At the same time, I wrote our resident DNA expert, Doug Mumma, ran a theory by him, and asked for advice.

Then Pat sent me all the information she had on the Skaneateles Loss family and told me there was a descendant still in town, John Stewart Loss.

At the same time, Doug thought my theory that my line descended from Moses Loss' sibling sounded realistic, located a Loss/Loos/Loes DNA study on http://www.familytreedna.com and recommended I enroll my father and John Loss.

My dad agreed just as long as he didn't have to visit the doctor and so did John; the two are in their eighties. Both sent in DNA samples and about five weeks later, late at night, I got the e-mail telling me they are a perfect match on a 12-marker YDNA test.

And a few days later the same results came through on the 25-marker YDNA test.

And the reports say that as they share the same surname, there's a 99 percent chance they share a common ancestor.

How does this help me? I now know with great certainty that my research should focus in Madison and Onondaga counties and the other counties in between.

I also know that anything I find on Moses Loss and his ancestry is the same as mine. His father's name was John; his mother's Abigail. Somehow they belong to me also.

And with a little luck and some other new-fangled technology, I'll find my 3rd great grandparents and I'll know how I'm related to John and Abigail.

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Staff meeting

Livermore Roots Tracer Staff

Reporters Marie Ross, Lois Barber, Jane Southwick
Compositor George Anderson
Web Editor Vicki Renz


Scott Gagnon
Staff Contributors
G.R.O.W  Frank Geasa

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Last modified 28 march 2007 vlr