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The Livermore Roots Tracer

Volume 27 Number 2

May 2007

Managing Editor: Jane Southwick

Editors:  Kay Speaks, Marie Ross, Lois Barber, Lois Smith 


Web Editor: Vicki Renz


The Roots Tracer is the quarterly publication of the Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society. The mission statement of the Roots Tracer is: "Instruct. Inspire. Inform." 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.

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

Table of Contents

President's Message Membership News G.R.O.W.
"Find It" and "Cite It" Seminar My German Heritage Sometimes Those Brick Walls DO Fall!
The Flemish Connection, Preserved in My DNA Juanita Schenone Vidalin 2007 - Already My Banner Year
Historic Livermore, California: A-Z Members Helping Members Library News
A Family Legend: Plausible or "Busted"? The Livermore Family History Center I Recommend
The Lyster-Lester Family Reunion Roots Tracer Staff


A Message from Our President

Anne Marshall Homan

First of all, I want to thank those of you who have volunteered to help with the seminar and with the fair. If you were not at the monthly meeting in April when we sent around the sign-up sheet and would like to help Gail Bryan with the fair, please get in touch with her. Marie Ross has taken on the responsibility of publicity chair and would appreciate help with contacts or suggestions for how to publicize our events. The number of people who work hard at various aspects of L-AGS continues to amaze me. I am reminded of my mother's advice: "What you get out of something depends on how much you put into it."

Arleen Wood deserves a special thanks for the great job she has done with program. We have had such a wonderful variety and look forward to the rest of the year. Chuck Wiedel's presentation in February of his Wiedel family roots from Geuser and Wallenfels in Bavaria to Honey Creek, Wisconsin, and Hebron, Nebraska, was very enjoyable.

Three thousand pounds of my new book, Historic Livermore, California: A-Z, were delivered to me on April 19. The book should be available soon at bookstores, or you can call me or e-mail me for a copy.

Ann Parker's presentation about her books and her family background in Leadville, Colorado, challenges us to be more imaginative in our use of genealogy. It also made me more determined to research the historic background of my ancestors so as to better understand who they were and what they faced every day. I remember one time I was doing research on my German families at the LDS library in Salt Lake. I do not know much German, so I often had to ask for a translation from the librarians. I was very excited to find an ancestor's application for citizenship in Nernburg in 1764. I took it to the librarian, and he refused to translate it for me, saying that it had nothing to do with Georg Balthasar Huber's birth, marriage or death. Later, I persevered with a different librarian who read it and told me that Huber was an apprentice brewer at the time, and his request for citizenship was recommended by two brewers - a red beer brewer and a white beer brewer.

By the time this Roots Tracer comes out, the seminar will be over, and I know that it will have been fun as well as a great learning experience. I am sorry to have missed it, but I was in Denver visiting my older son and his wife who has incurable lung cancer.

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Member News

Membership Co-Chairs - Patrick Lofft & Larry Hale

Welcome to Our New Members

Joyce Morse Cheryl Palmer

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

Kay Speaks, David Steffes, Duncan Tanner

James Bahls, Sandra Caulder, Sandy & DeLynn Clark, Ted & Gail Fairfield,
Richard & Wanda Finn, Richard & Jean Lerche, David & Bernice Oakley, Betty Ryon

Total Membership as of May 1, 2007: 226 Individuals

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

Compiled by Frank Geasa

This site contains an index of more than 500,000 names of those buried in Stockholm's cemeteries. Besides information on the individuals, it also provides location maps and travel directions.
Ever wondered what questions were asked on a Federal census or had a question such as what to expect when the 1940 census becomes available? This site shows the questions and the instructions given to the enumerators of the 1850-1950 censuses. Courtesy of Kay Speaks.
This site is an individual's index of some 700,000 New England names, most with limited individual information. It may however provide you with some good clues if you are searching that area.
Digitized copies of the baptism registrations for Florence, Italy are available for the period 1450-1900. They are located on the site of the Opera di S. Maria del Fiore which has many other interesting features on their site. An English version is available but the digitized records are in Italian.
This University of Utah site has digitized historic newspaper collections covering the cities and many of the small towns of that state.
If your ancestors were from Ireland, it might be worth an occasional check of the Library Ireland site. It is a commercial book seller's site but it often has digitized city and town directories or other genealogy related items that can be viewed free.
This growing site claims an alphabetical index of millions of brides. Taken from various other sites, the information on some of the individuals is quite extensive.
The Genealogy menu on this Public Libraries of Saginaw, Michigan site offers a growing index of obituaries. It currently has over 200,000 names taken from the Saginaw News. For some the index includes surprisingly extensive information.
This St. John's, New Brunswick, Canada cemetery site makes interesting historical reading, especially if your ancestors from there were loyalists at the time of the American Revolution.
The University of Wisconsin Digital Collections has a growing number of digitized books online including early local histories of Columbia, Dane, Portage, Sauk, and Wood Counties.
If your British ancestor was a bad actor, this site of The National Local History Group (UK) has search list of prisoners processed through various courts 1782-1830. Reference numbers taken from the index can be used via a link to the National Archives Catalogue to get much more information on the crime and disposition.
Did your ancestor homestead in Saskatchewan, Canada? This site has an online index to homesteads in that province resulting from the Canadian Dominion Lands Act of 1872.
A growing collection of almost a half million pre-1900 marriages in the Western states are indexed online at this Brigham Young University-Idaho site.
This site contains a list of the cemeteries in Greene County, Alabama; all with locator maps and many of them with indexed lists of the burials.

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"Find It" and "Cite It" Seminar a Big Success for L-AGS/LDS

By Kay Speaks, Seminar Chair

Photos by Dick Finn

James Davis welcoming seminar attendees

Our free L-AGS seminar, in association with the Livermore Family History Center, was held Saturday, April 21. We had many people tell us it was one of the best seminars they had ever attended. Everyone left the seminar rejuvenated, with new ways to find people and with the intent to cite their research. There were 140 total attendees. We had 123 members pre-registered, of which 42 requested the option for a prepared sack lunch. Many compliments were received about the lunch also. Of the pre-registered attendees, 62 were L-AGS members. A total of 67 different affiliated organizations were represented. We were asked if we would be having another seminar next year.

Dr. Stephen P. Morse, www.stevemorse.org, explained the many benefits of starting your research from his One-Step WebPages. His presentations were educational and humorous. Steve's notes for the One-Step WebPages: A Potpourri of Genealogical Search Tools presentation can be found at http://www.stevemorse.org/onestep/onestep.htm

He also discussed how to use his One-Step forms with the Ellis Island database (What Color Ellis Island Search Form Should I Use?) and for the census (Playing Hide and Seek in the U.S. Census).

Susan Johnston, L-AGS member, presented Adventures in Source Citation. She explained the reasons for documenting your research - who, what, where, when. You should track where you search so you don't repeat your efforts. The format isn't as important as documenting the source citation unless you wish to be published. Citation is an art, not a science!

At the end of the seminar a lively discussion was held about the L-AGS genealogy collection at the library and the online access provided through the library. Many attendees intended to visit the Pleasanton Library after the seminar.

Thank you, Seminar Committee - awesome job!

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Dr. Stephen Morse

Kay Speaks and Susan Johnston

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Up Close and Personal: My German Heritage

By Anne Homan

I have been tracing Don's and my families for about 24 years. My family on both sides is half German. My trip to Germany in April 1989 was only two weeks, too short for genealogical research. Besides, I wanted time to visit with my friends, Oleg and Ludmila Pankratov.

My relatives emigrated in approximately 1860 and 1870, but we have no known connection with living relatives in Germany today. In the 1870s and earlier, the local church was a vital part of everyone's life, where the major events of baptism, marriage and burial occurred. After the Reformation, my relatives became Protestants. In Germany, of course, this meant Lutheran. I decided to visit the sites where my family had lived prior to emigration, not to research archives, but simply to experience my heritage.

Traveling to the first site was easy because my friends, Oleg and Ludmila Pankratov, live only a short distance from Nernberg (Nuremberg). My mother's father's family came from this large city. The Hubers had been originally in the business of brewing beer and running a public house, a place that served both as a bar and an inn. Later they became distributors of wine and beer.

Ludmila Pankratov and I traveled by train to the city and then walked all over the downtown area. Unfortunately, Nernberg was heavily bombed in January 1945, and the corner of the narrow street where the Hubers had lived in the old town district contained nothing but post war buildings. The only old structure was halfway down the block, a reddish-brown sandstone three-story. The family church, St. Lorenz (Lawrence), was still standing nearby, and Ludmila and I enjoyed a wonderful organ and trumpet concert there on Easter Monday.

Although not a cathedral, St. Lorenz nevertheless is a very large Gothic-style building with high ceilings, and the acoustics for the musical performance were excellent. Most of the stone church was destroyed in a bombing raid, but miraculously, the two green bronze towers and the rose window embrasure between them survived. With the partial help of an American donor, the church was restored to its original form, so that I could listen to the concert and later wander around, imagining that my Hubers were once here in this beautiful structure.

Oleg drove Ludmila and me on a day trip to Nordlingen, the second site I visited. Nordlingen was not bombed during the war, and the old town area is filled with ancient oak-beamed buildings. Although a much smaller city than Nernberg, Nordlingen, in the 1300s and earlier, was a notable market town where people from miles around came to trade. Its wealth was derived not only from trade, but also from the local weaving and tanning industries.

My relatives, the Weng family, were originally weavers when they first arrived in Nordlingen. After several generations, they had acquired enough wealth to send their sons away to universities for higher education, and the sons became professionals - priests, accountants, judges. When my mother's grandmother lived here, her father was a "privatier" - that is, he lived off his investments in English spinneries and German wickerware factories. Although the family lived in the city itself, we have an old letter about the rose garden and asparagus beds that Herr Christoph Weng cared for on land outside the city.

Nordlingen retains still its thick medieval wall that encircles the entire old town area*. Long ago a moat outside of the wall added protection, but now that sunken area is used by residents for growing flowers and vegetables as well as fruit trees. Although the letter does not mention the Weng garden being in the old moat, I could picture it there as I walked along the ancient wall and peered down at forsythia and other spring blossoms through the arrow slits.

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The beautiful interior of St. George Lutheran Church in Nördlingen.

St. George, our family church, is the central point of Nordlingen with its tall tower. At night the tower watchman calls out even today that all is well on each hour. Elaborately painted wooden structures called epitaphs decorate the inner, light gray smooth stone walls of St. George. There are family memorials, and we found a very large one dedicated to the Wengs. The Pankratovs assured me that I strongly resemble the gray-haired gentleman pictured at the very top of the epitaph.

The last place I visited was more difficult to access. I had to travel on three different trains to get near the little country town (population 2,000) of Flonheim. When I arrived at my final train destination, I still had a bus ride of six kilometers. When I checked the Saturday bus schedule, I discovered that the bus only ran on weekdays to Flonheim. The place was too small for a taxi service. I decided that, after coming thousands of miles from California, I was not going to let a measly six kilometers stop me, so I grabbed my suitcase and began walking. I was not sure in which direction to go, because there were no road signs around. After a while, I met two young boys playing on the sidewalk. They did not speak English, and I do not speak German, but with pantomime and the word Flonheim, I learned that I was at least headed in the right direction. About a half-mile later, I met some neighbors chatting who looked at me questioningly. Glad of the excuse to put down my suitcase, I attempted with mangled English-German to explain about the missing bus. One of the men then said to me in perfect English, "I will drive you to Flonheim." And he did.

In Flonheim, the Lutheran minister's wife took me on a brief tour of the town, the church and the surrounding countryside. My Flonheim relative, Johannes Schneider, my father's grandfather, was the son of a farm owner who made extra cash by butchering. The landscape is very gentle, rolling hills, with the town in a slight declivity. All of the houses are off-white stucco with red or brown tile roofs. Vineyards, interspersed with blooming cherry orchards, covered most of the green hills.

Unfortunately, not long after Johannes Schneider left Flonheim, the little Lutheran church his family had attended accidentally burned down. Only the outer shell survived. The church has been rebuilt, and someone mailed Johannes a photograph of the new building, which we cherish in our family archives. On the Sunday after Easter, I attended services there. Behind the altar are two enormous stained glass windows. On the right is a peaceful-looking full figure of Christ, and on the left, equal in size is Martin Luther.

The Flonheim church is struggling with increasing loss of membership, and they had to give up their choir. However, they still have a brass ensemble, which plays in a rear balcony with the organist. The church is quite small, and the effect of so much music in so little space was almost overpowering. True to my assumptions, music played a large part in the service; we sang six different hymns. I was able to participate in the singing, in reciting the Apostle's Creed and the Lord's Prayer. I also felt humbled to be able to take communion, imagining family standing in a similar semi-circle in front of the altar over a hundred years before. It was Confirmation Sunday, and as I watched four young people confess their beliefs before the congregation, I remembered how important that day had been for me as a teenager.

Personally experiencing my family's heritage in Germany was very poignant and satisfying. My photographs are not of fancy palaces or touristy museums, but of places very important to me.

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One of the churches Anne visited on her trip to Germany.

* [Ed. The wall and moat are seen clearly on Google Earth at 48 51.1 N, 10 28.7 E, 1.75 km eye altitude.]

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Sometimes Those Brick Walls DO Fall!

By Glynice Tawney Pomykal

When I first started doing genealogy I read about my ancestors in the book Kansas - A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events, Institutions, Industries, Counties, Cities, Towns & Prominent People, Etc Part II published in 1912. I discovered that my great grandmother, Elizabeth Stinebaugh (who married Horatio Tawney, a Civil War soldier), was the daughter of Jacob Stinebaugh and Ellen/Helena Hershner Stinebaugh. Elizabeth had nine siblings, including five brothers who served in the Civil War. Her grandfather, John Steinbauch, served in the War of 1812, and had married Mary Harsh/Hersh in Maryland. This family moved to West Virginia.

What I was really interested in was Elizabeth's great grandfather, Adam Steinbach, who had served in the Revolutionary War. I had searched for over 10 years for proof of Adam's service but had never been able to find it. In January of this year, Doug Mumma, a member of our Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society, sent an e-mail message to the L-AGS membership about a great web site that offers free searches of the Pennsylvania Archives document series: http://www.footnote.com.

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My great grandmother, Elizabeth Stinebaugh (far right), with four of her nine siblings. Photo taken 1900-1905.

Of special interest to me, it includes the Revolutionary War Muster rolls for Pennsylvania.

I had tried many times to find Adam's service record in these Published Pennsylvania Archives, which consist of 132 volumes of early Pennsylvania government records. The records include military, tax, land, naturalization, marriage, and baptism records, ship passenger lists, and numerous other items of interest to genealogists and historians.

I went to the site, entered Adam Steinbach's name, and up came a hit for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I had already found baptism records for his son, John, and John's siblings, with parents named as Adam and Elizabeth Steinbach. Sure enough, there was the service of my Adam as one of the hits! I am pretty sure I found information about his emigration from Germany also.

When I went to Salt Lake City the next week I eagerly went to the Pennsylvania Archives, because now I knew that the information I had been looking for was in the 3rd Series, Vol VI, page 413. I found Adam Steinbach serving under Capt. Skiles' Company in 1780-81. What a wonderful discovery for me - thanks to Doug. Because I am a member of the Daughters of the Revolutionary War, I was able to prepare the papers for a supplemental record for myself and to establish Adam Steinbach as a patriot who served in the Revolutionary War. Now I am waiting to see if the DAR approves them.

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The Flemish Connection, Preserved in my DNA

By Bill Silver

The valley on Faial where the colonists from Flanders first settled in the 1400s. I took this photo when Marelene and I visited the Azores.

When I first started researching my dad's family line I knew that his father was from the Island of Faial in the Azores. With time and a lot of research I was able to trace his line back to about 1700 all within the two villages of Salao* and Cedros. The last person in that line was someone known in Catholic Church records as Joao 'O Rico' Fialho. As it turns out, he was originally from Candalaria on the island of Pico, right next to Faial. He was born in 1673 to Antonio Fialho. Since there were no records beyond that, I figured that was the end of the line. Well, it was, sort of.

Now as a side issue, but related, I should mention that a number of times during my search of the Azores I was told a story about how some of the Azores islands, especially Faial, had been settled in part by Flemish people who had been sent there around 1450 by Phillip, Duke of Burgundy. That supposedly was why there were so many blue eyed Portuguese on Faial. In researching the story, I learned that when Portugal first discovered the Azores, about 1432, Portugal looked for people to populate the Islands. Duarte I was King of Portugal at the time. He had a brother Henry, known as "The Navigator," and a sister Isabel who had married Phillip, Duke of Burgundy. Isabel contacted Henry with the suggestion that certain families in Flanders who had been troubling Phillip at the time be sent to populate parts of the Azores, especially Terceira and Faial. Henry accepted the offer and went about the business of transporting Flemish families to Faial. One of Phillip's sons named Van der Hagen, later changed to Silveira, was responsible for pulling together and leading the Faial voyage. I didn't think that any of this had anything to do with my family. How wrong I was!

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Flag of the Azores Flag of Flanders

Returning to the Silver family tree, the information that took me back further than Joao Fialho had nothing to do with records. It had to do with the results of a cheek swab sample I had sent to Family Tree DNA for Y DNA analysis. I chose a 25-marker test hoping that it would give me information regarding the region of the world where my male line originated. The results indicated that my hap­logroup was R1b, perhaps the most common group in all of Western Europe, not particularly helpful. A little later I submitted my information to a DNA study group that looked for people who had similar markers. Much to my surprise, in February 2007, I was notified that they had found one person with whom I had a perfect match in 23 out of the 25 markers. Given the mutation rates for the markers involved, Family Tree DNA states that there is a 97.7% chance that we have the same male ancestor within 24 generations, which is nearly 600 years ago or about 1400. The person's name is Andres Peekna and he lives someplace in Wisconsin. I did a Google search and found that he had done quite a bit of technical publishing. Most of it had to do with mechanics and physics research that he had conducted. I also noticed that there were other articles listed that implied a special interest in Estonian activities within the US.

So, I contacted him and learned that he had, in fact, been born in Estonia but that his family name had originally been Beckman, which he assumed to be German. The family changed their name to Peekna when, following the Second World War, Estonia became an independent republic. Peekna was an Estonian name. We puzzled over how we could have the same male ancestor given that my folk were from the Azores and his were from the Baltic area. It all came together for us when I remembered the story of the Flemish settlement in the Azores and he learned that his family had originally been from the Netherlands and that their name was actually Beekmann, a very Dutch name. Sometime before 1450 in either the Netherlands or in Flanders (Dutch-speaking Belgium) we had a common ancestor. In later generations, his male line would end up in the Baltic, perhaps as part of Hanseatic League trading, and mine would end up in the Azores, specifically Faial.

In early March 2007, I was once again notified by Family Tree DNA that another person had popped up in their database who had 23 out of 25 markers as perfect matches for my Y DNA. I contacted the person and learned that his surname was Van Vranken. He is a lawyer living in upstate New York near Albany. His family descends from a person who came from the Netherlands to North America in 1651 with the Van Rensselaer family. Another Dutch cousin! This second person helps confirm that the Silver (Fialho) family traces back to the Belgium/Flanders/Netherlands area.

This has been a most satisfying experience for me. There is no absolute certainty in this business but at least I now have another avenue to consider. Since the migration from Flanders to Faial was formally commissioned, I believe that a passenger list may still exist. I am now checking this. But that may well only get me part of the way there. The next challenge will be to determine the original, i.e., Flemish, name of my family, not at all a trivial task.

* To see Salao on Google Earth, enter the following in the "Fly to" box:

38 37 23 N 28 39 53 W

Then go to Eye Altitude about 4500 km to see the position of the Azores in the Atlantic, about 650 km to see all of the islands, and about 25 km to see all of Faial.

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Juanita Schenone Vidalin

A Direct Descendant of Robert Livermore and a Longtime Teacher in Livermore and Pleasanton

By Del Warren

I am sure some of the group of Pleasanton School District old-timers, like the Stewarts and the Aleses, saw the obituary for Juanita Vidalin. I had the privilege of working with Juanita when I first started teaching in Pleasanton in 1962 as a young 20-something. For many years she taught third grade and touched the lives of many students. She was a great mentor to me as I taught with her for about 15 years at Alisal and Camp Parks. At that time Pleasanton operated a K-6 school at Camp Parks for students from Komondorski Village, the sheriff's department and other children in the area.

Juanita was a direct descendent of Robert Livermore and very proud of it. Juanita was separated from her husband, whom she called "Frenchy," and was supporting her young twin sons. She lived with her parents, the Schenones, in their house, Rancho Las Positas, just over the freeway at the end of the overpass between the auto dealers and Target. Juanita was very proud of her Livermore Heritage and of Livermore. I wish I had listened to her a little more, but I was young and not really interested at that time. I still remember some of the information she was always talking about. I remember her showing me one book about Livermore that had just been published. It had a picture of her two sons standing beside a large "tallow" pot.

Juanita was very active in the Tri-Valley community. She was very proud of playing the flute with the Livermore-Amador Symphony. She was always joking that they only kept her around because they needed some one to fill the seat. In addition to the local professional school associations, she was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, a teacher's honorary society, a member of St. Michael's Church, the Livermore Heritage Guild, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and Los Californianos, an organization for descendents of the first Spanish settlers in California. I am sure there were other organizations in which she was a member.

I count it a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with her for several years and share her friendship. Juanita always had a smile on her face and a kind word for everyone. The Livermore-Amador Valley has lost a great friend and supporter.

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt of the article published in the Oakland Tribune, January 8, 2007, written by Lea Blevins. Used with Permission.

LIVERMORE -- Robert Livermore settled in the Valley in the 1830s and died in 1858 before the city named for him was even founded. But his legacy would continue on for years to come. One piece of that legacy is now gone.

Juanita Schenone Vidalin, a descendant of Robert Livermore, died Jan. 8, at the age of 86. Vidalin was a Livermore resident until she moved to be near her family in Modesto about five years ago. She was a teacher in the Tri-Valley for 36 years, beginning in the late 1930s. She taught at a one-room schoolhouse off Greenville Road in Livermore, at the Fifth Street School and Junction Avenue School in Livermore, at Alisal Elementary School in Pleasanton and even at Camp Parks in Dublin. She enjoyed teaching the elementary school students, said her niece Jean Porlier of Modesto. "That was her love," she said. Porlier helped care for her aunt in later years, but remembers stories of her from the past.

As a teacher, Vidalin was especially generous. Porlier recalled Vidalin helping less-fortunate children buy their lunches or even bringing beds to their homes so they had a place to sleep. "She was a very generous person," Porlier said.

Although her many students will remember her as their teacher, the Valley knew Vidalin as a direct descendant of Robert Livermore. She came from the line of Robert Livermore Jr. and Teresa Bernal. Her maiden name was Schenone - the same as the family who built the now-historic building next to the flagpole in downtown Livermore. Juanita enjoyed having prominent history in her own lineage and made genealogy one of her interests. She was one of the early members of the Livermore Heritage Guild, which operates the Livermore History Center. "She was a valued member," said local historian Gary Drummond. Though Vidalin had not been active in the guild for about 20 years, Drummond and his wife remembered her fondly. "I remember her as gracious and intelligent," said Drummond's wife, Anna Siig. "She truly was a gentlewoman."

Aside from teaching and history, Vidalin had a third love: music. She knew how to play piano, violin and the piccolo, but it was the flute, which she played with the Livermore-Amador Symphony for 30 years, that she enjoyed most. Fellow symphony member Marie Ruzicka worked with Vidalin on the association's annual contest that gave high school students an opportunity to play with the symphony and possibly earn a scholarship. She described Vidalin as "very sweet, polite, and very modest," adding, "She always had a wonderful smile on her face."

Although Vidalin suffered many strokes, causing some memory loss, Porlier said she never lost her sense of humor. "She and I would always tease," Porlier remembered.

A Catholic Mass in Vidalin's honor was held at St. Michael's Catholic Church, 458 Maple Street, Livermore. Graveside service followed at St. Michael's Cemetery.

Staff writer Lea Blevins can be reached at lblevins@angnews.

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2007 - Already a Banner Year

By Linda Garrett

Malinda Brenneman Miller, daughter of Henry Miller and Anna Brenneman, granddaughter of Andrew Miller and Elizabeth Gochenour.

The year 2007 has already been a banner year for me. I have pushed back at least one generation, and sometimes more, on two of my families: Miller and Martin. And all of the success came from correspondence and library digging - not from the Internet.

Miller Family


I have been trying to find the documentation that would tell me whether my Henry P. Miller (1804-1876) was the son of Andrew Miller and his wife Elizabeth (Gochenour). I had been in contact with another researcher whom I had found via a Family Tree Maker's Family Archive CD. He turned out to be a second cousin. He gave me information about the Miller Family in Lancaster County, but he did not include any sources for this information.

On my recent trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I began to find dates in both cemetery and church records that correspond with what my cousin had told me, and now I had the evidence I needed. The cemetery records show that Andrew Miller and his wife, Elizabeth, were buried in the Huber Cemetery, near Refton, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; and that Elizabeth's parents, Jacob Gochenour and Margaret (Good) were buried in the Old Byerland Cemetery in the same county.

I was also very happy to learn that Elizabeth's father, Jacob Gochenour/Coughnauer was listed on a Militia roster of 1782, making him the only Revolutionary War Patriot for the DAR I have yet to find on my father's side!

I discovered that the Andrew Miller family went to Pequea Reformed Church (now Zion United Church f Christ of New Providence, PA). I recently talked to the church secretary there and she confirmed this was my Miller family. Since I have learned in my genealogy research that most people in the beginning of the 19th century did not travel more than five miles to their church, I had a better reference as to where the Millers might have lived. The early census records showed them in Martick Township. The church was located in New Providence, but at the present time, New Providence is located in Providence Township. This mystery was solved when I found that Providence Township was formed from Martick Township in 1853.

While at the Salt Lake Family History Library, I was also fortunate to find a biographical profile on George Kling, a grandson of Andrew Miller. This profile verifies the children of Andrew and Elizabeth. The book, Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia of The Juniata Valley, 1897, page 1090-91, says that "his maternal grandfather was Andrew Miller, a native of Lancaster County, a tanner and worked at his trade all his life. He was married to Miss Kochenaur. They had twelve children: Jacob, Henry, Solomon, Philip, Margaret, Christina, Martha, Nancy, Mary and three whose names are not known."

Martin Family


The Martin family of Chester County, Pennsylvania was more of a mystery. I have a 5th cousin in my Burnett family who lives in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She asked a friend of hers who volunteers at the Charlestown Historical Commission if she could help me. With her help I have gone back two more generations. I have been looking for the parents of Hannah Martin. The information the volunteer found showed that Hannah's grandparents were Mathias Martin and wife Ethelew (unknown), and that her parents were Llewelyn Martin and wife, Elizabeth (unknown) of Charlestown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. I am interested in the fact that Llewelyn and Ethelew show a Welsh background and that Mathias Martin sounds very German. Is it possible that the Welsh background is only on the Mother's side? The volunteer friend found the information about Hannah's parents and siblings in a will that was in the Chester County, Pennsylvania Wills, 1713-1825. It named Hannah as a daughter and was filed in Charlestown in 1740. This will also gave information about Hannah's mother, brother, four sisters and an Uncle Lewis Martin.

Another exciting aspect of this discovery was information about the house that belonged to my 6th great grandfather Llewelyn Martin. The Llewelyn Martin/Roger Little house is now on the Registry of Historic Places! This gives me another good reason to travel to Pennsylvania!

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350 Glimpses of Past Life in our Valley

By George Anderson

After five years of research, dozens of interviews, hundreds of difficult decisions about which illustrations to use, and after waiting for months while the printer and bookbinder practiced their crafts, L-AGS President Anne Homan received the product of her labor in mid-April - a three thousand pound shipment of her most recent book, Historic Livermore, California: A - Z. At almost 600 pages in length and three pounds in weight, it is hefty to pick up, but once started, harder to put down. Congratulations to Anne on a valuable contribution to our Valley's history.

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Members Helping Members

By Jane Southwick

One of the benefits of our society is the help with genealogical research that members give to other members. Steve McLeod wrote:

I have an interest in two Lutheran Churches. The San Francisco one is St. Marks, San Francisco. There were two congregations at one time. One was called the Greenwich St. congregation. Finally a single edifice was built on Geary St. opposite Union Square, today occupied by Macy's. The present St. Mark's was dedicated on March 10, 1895 at its 1111 O'Farrell St. location.

I wrote to the archivist at St. Mark's and he supplied several parish register entries that were useful to me. Here is the address: Dr. Gordon M. Seely, PhD, Archivist, St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, California 94109, evgor@sbcglobal.net.

Henry Steinbeck started Zion Lutheran Church in the 1800s. The first church was located in Oakland and, in 1953 or 1954, the congregation moved to Piedmont, California. This church has very old and fragile original records going back to its founding. The early records are in German.

Now I need a similar contact for Zion Lutheran Church in Oakland, California. I suspect some of my missing marriage, baptism and death information would be in the Zion parish register.

Surnames: Lotz, Mohn, Kolln, Reimers, Soltau, Diestel, Lorsbach. All these people came from the Duchy of Holstein in the mid 19th century and settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, in particular, San Francisco, Oakland, and Livermore. I have birth records from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Seester, Kreis Pinneberg, Schleswig-Holstein for my great grandparents Henry Lotz and Geesche Mohn, along with their siblings. The records from Seester were transcribed by volunteers and are in an archive in Elmshorn, Schleswig-Holstein. I can read the old German parish records and know where to get help on the really archaic German used in some of the old records. Check this web page:


Henry Lotz arrived in California in 1858 at the age of 12, but not with his parents, who never left Kreis Pinneberg. Still trying to track down how he got to California and who he traveled with. Great grandparents Henry and Geesche Lotz are buried in Roselawn Cemetery. I found Geesche in the ship passenger lists at NARA. Check this web page for more details:


Answers from L-AGS members

I received a couple of replies to my request for help with Zion Church parish record searches. Herb Borcher suggested that I email the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church archivist, Karl Wyneken, at wyneken@sbcglobal.net which I did. His reply was to contact Zion Church directly, which I will in due course.


The mention of Seester in Kreis Pinneberg, Schleswig-Holstein seems to have hit a number of hot buttons. A transcription of the parish records for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Seester is stored in an archive in Elmshorn. I suspect that most of the early German immigrants in Livermore could be found in those records.

Several towns near Seester were mentioned in replies, all of which I recognized as the birthplaces of either my great grandparents or of their relations, all of whom were baptized in Seester. All of these people probably knew each other when they were children in Germany.

Dick Finn promised to contact Mary McMurtry, who wrote a book titled The Fruchtenicht/Rechter Family of Grand Island, Colusa County, California. These families also came from Kreis Pinneberg, so there could be a chance for some "cross pollination."

The RootsWeb list for Schleswig-Holstein was a key element in my research. There are a number of people on that list who are familiar with the genealogy records available in Schleswig-Holstein and Kreis Pinneberg in particular.


Steve McLeod, Broad Run, Virginia

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We Have Millions of Names That Are Not On-line

By Judy Person

The library has some CDs in their own binders that have a great amount of information. The first two are from LDS.

British Isles Vital Records Index, Second Edition. These cover England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are 104 million birth and christening records and 1.9 million marriage records, both civil and church, from 1530 to 1906, on 17 CDs.

Pedigree Resource File, Volumes 1-3. There are 75 discs in this set. These are lineage-linked pedigrees that have been submitted to the LDS and there is a master index.

From Family Tree Maker's Family Archives series, we have Pennsylvania Biographies and Genealogies from the 1600s to 1800, and Germans to America, those who arrived from 1850-1874.

We have over 600 other CDs and over 1000 books, as well as periodicals of general interest and from specific localities, sure to help with your research.

Pleasanton Library hours are Monday to Thursday, 10-9, Friday and Saturday 10-5, and Sunday 1-5.

L-AGS docents are on duty in the genealogy area on Wednesdays 10-1 and 6-9.

New at the Library

Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs, by Maureen Alice Taylor.
929.1072 TAYLOR
Red Mountain : The Rise and Fall of a Magnesite Mining Empire, 1900-1947, by Robert W. P. Cutler.
979.465 CUTLER.
Family Tree Maker [CD-ROM]: Passenger and Immigration Lists: Germans to America.
CD-ROM Genealogy 929.3 FAMILY.
Family Tree Maker [CD-ROM]: Pennsylvania Biographies and Genealogies 1600s-1800s.
CD-ROM Genealogy 929.3748 FAMILY.

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A Family Legend - Plausible or "Busted"?

Researched by Robert A. Ware

My maternal grandfather, William Wiles, was a mystery person. He died in 1899 of complications resulting from an industrial accident without revealing his family history. An inquiry to my mother revealed very little information except "His family were orthodox Jews from Palestine and they disowned him because he married a gentile." Therein lies an old legend ripe for research - plausible or "busted"?

William was born in Ohio in 1838. His immediate family moved to Washington, Pennsylvania in 1848. Life was uneventful for him until April 1861 when Confederate Army artillery in Charleston, South Carolina, bombarded Fort Sumter, which was occupied by the United States Army. William responded to the "call for arms" and enlisted in July in Company K, 8th Regiment, Pennsylvania Reserve infantry. His enlistment was for three years; the first record of his military service noted that he was with Company K on July 29, 1861. His military records are spotty and incomplete. It is recorded that in May of 1862 he was detailed to a construction battalion under the command of General McDowell; in September of that year he was back with Company K.

During the winter of 1862/63, William's Regiment was under the command of General Burnside during the Fredericksburg campaign. William was wounded or injured, probably injured, during Burnside's famous Mud March, January 20-24, 1863, and was hospitalized. Ironically, his military record for May/June 1863 indicates that 76 cents was deducted from his pay to cover the cost of his transportation from the military hospital in Baltimore, Maryland back to Company K garrisoned in Washington, D. C. His pay was docked again in the amount of $1.89 for the loss of equipment during the battles of the Rapidan campaign: 49 cents for the loss of a shelter tent, 41 cents for a lost canteen, and the remainder for a lost haversack. The Rapidan campaign escalated into the Wilderness campaign, and on May 8, 1864, William was wounded in the heel while climbing over a rail fence during the battle at Spotsylvania Court House. A portion of his heel bone was removed in a field hospital and he was sent to a military hospital for additional treatment and convalescence.

Military personnel who suffered wounds or injuries during the battles of the northern Virginia campaigns were transported to the military hospitals north of the Potomac River via railroad trains. The major problem was that the trucks on the southern railroad cars would not fit on rails of the northern railroads. There was a freight transfer yard in Alexandria, Virginia for military supplies but the congestion there made it impractical to transfer the patients and it delayed their transportation to northern hospitals. In order to cope with the situation, the tracks for the north's railhead were extended westward to the area where the tracks of the two southern railroads converged for their approach to Alexandria. There the patients in southern railroad cars were off-loaded to an adjacent field, sorted by their designated hospital destinations, and reloaded onto the northern railroad cars. Unfortunately, this pause in their northern journey required the patients to be laid out in an open field and exposed to the elements while they were being processed. The ladies from the nearby residences responded to the area and provided comfort to the wounded soldiers. However, it was not appropriate for a southern lady to help a "Yankee soldier" so they called it "compassionate aid."

One of the persons who responded was a 15-year-old young lady, Mary Theresa Murphy, who became my maternal grandmother. William met her while he was being transported to the Philadelphia military hospital and she served him water and made his foot comfortable during his wait. William was discharged from the army later in 1864 and returned to his home in Washington, Pennsylvania.

In 1866, William was employed by the contractor responsible for the rebuilding of the "Washington City, Virginia Midland and Great Western Railroad" and worked from their construction headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia. From there, William occasionally traveled to Alexandria on the contractor's business, and he took the opportunity to visit the Murphy residence to renew his acquaintance with the pretty young lady who had befriended him when he lay wounded. These friendly visits were made during a period of five years into the year 1870, when William proposed marriage to the then nineteen-year-old Mary Murphy. They were married in 1871 and Mary returned to Charlottesville with William where eight of their twelve children were born.

In 1883, William was employed by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps as the foreman of a group of laborers at the Arlington National Cemetery. Later he was promoted to the resident superintendent's position and was privileged to live in Robert E. Lee's home, the mansion house that sits high on the hill overlooking Washington, D.C.

In late 1899, while William was performing his daily rounds through the cemetery in a small utility carriage, he came upon a funeral ceremony. He stopped the horses and stood at attention in the carriage. When the honor guard fired the twenty-one-gun salute, the horses bolted; William lost his balance and fell forward between the hooves of the runaway horses pulling the carriage. He was dragged quite a distance before the horses were brought under control. William died of complications resulting from his injuries. The Wiles family lived in the mansion until William's death in the latter part of 1899.

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The Custis-Lee mansion, former home of Robert E. Lee, now the headquarters building for the Arlington National Cemetery. My grandfather, William Wiles, was superintendent of the cemetery in the late 1800s and was privileged to live in the mansion.

As a widow of a wounded Civil War veteran, Mary was entitled to a pension and she applied to the War Department for it. Her petition was denied because "there was no proof that William Wiles was wounded." Evidently the person investigating her petition found the records of William's first hospitalization for an injury and denied Mary her pension without further research. Mary was persistent that her petition was valid, and in 1933 the two Maryland senators championed her cause and found in her favor. They added a line item into the Veterans Administration appropriation that provided Mary with a pension for the remainder of her life and a lump sum payment retroactive to the date of her first petition. Mary died in 1943 with a very happy smile on her face.

My research has proved that the legend is BUSTED. The legend was fueled by ninety-five years of confusion about the difference between Palestine and Palatine. William's family did not disown him because he married a gentile. Rather, they disowned him because he married a Catholic. William's ancestors were devoted Lutherans who fled religious persecution administered by the Catholics in the lower Palatine province (Rhineland) of Germany. They arrived in the Pennsylvania colony about 1730. Every generation of the Wiles family since then has contained several Lutheran ministers.

The family history related in my research is based on oral contributions by my mother and grandmother, confirmed by research at the DAR Library and by census records of the years 1840 through 1890. William's military records, and Mary Wiles' applications for a survivor's pension and the War Department's denials, were obtained during visits to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and at the Veterans Administration. His records of employment at Arlington National Cemetery were obtained from the Federal Registers dated 1883 and 1991. Information about the railroads in northern Virginia was obtained at the Fairfax County Library in Fairfax, Virginia.

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Surname Wails from Wales

Take ten, he said, and call them Rice,
Another ten and call them Price,
A hundred more and dub them Hughes,
Take fifty others, call them Pughes,
Now Roberts name some hundred score,
And Williams name a legion more,
And then he moaned in languid tones,
Call all the other thousands Jones.

Author unknown. Reprinted from Family Chronicle in memory of my ancestor, John Jones, from Wales.        George Anderson

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20070510.jpg (32013 bytes) An Invaluable Genealogy Resource

The Livermore Family History Center

As Told to Marie Ross By Jim Davis

FHC Volunteer Joe LeBlanc at the new scanner.

The Family History Center is located in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 950 Mocho Street, Livermore, California. We welcome members of the public or anyone interested in genealogical research to use the facilities. This service is provided without fee. The dedicated volunteers who staff the center include a number of our own L-AGS members.

There are links to most non-subscription genealogy websites as well as access to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, its catalog and database. There is also a link to the Oakland Family History Center and its database. That database has information about what is available in other Family History Centers in the broader Bay Area.

We have a new scanner that will print from film (including 16mm, 35mm and microfiche), burn to CDs and download to portable drives. Film readers and a microfiche reader plus computer and printer set-ups are also available. A high-speed black and white printer and a color printer are also available at the Center.

Films and fiche may be ordered from Salt Lake City. Films ($6 each) may be renewed twice, and the third time they are kept at the FHC. Fiche are 15 cents each and stay at the Family History Center.

Several file cabinets of film have been accumulated from rentals over time, and volumes of research information are on the shelves.

No materials may be removed from the Center other than paper and digital copies that were made during the course of personal research. Paper copies are ten cents each.

The Family History Center's hours are: Monday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday: 6 to 9 p.m.; Saturday 1 to 4 p.m. The focus of the Center is on the genealogical research needs of each patron.

You may want to just drop by to see what is available and if it might be of help or interest to you. Be sure to take advantage of this generous resource and expertise available to genealogy researchers of all levels of experience!

View a map to the Livermore FHC at: http://www.L-AGS.org/maps/Liv-FHC.html

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I Recommend

Private Eye Data - for Free!

By George Anderson

You've seen the ads on the Internet: "Use our People Search to locate old Friends, Lovers or Family for Free." These are come-ons for companies that will give you a little bit of data for free, but then try to sell you the details for 10, 20 or 50 dollars.

The interesting thing I found out recently is that the "little bit of data for free" can be just what you need, and more than you've found in the usual databases. If you need to find that living cousin thought to be still living, go to


and try the first five links under Births, Deaths, and other Vital Records. With luck you may find address, phone number, birthdate, former residences and names of relatives, without spending a penny.

To learn about the fascinating techniques that private eyes use, go to http://www.backgroundcheckgateway.com/ebc/index.html and click on "How to locate people."

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The Lyster-Lester Clan

Descendants of Local Pioneer Family Celebrate a Reunion

By Diane Lester Kolb

In May 2002 L-AGS received a letter from a Mr. James Lyster of London, England. Mr. Lyster wrote that he was researching his Lyster distant cousins, some of whom he had found were buried at the Dublin Cemetery and the St. Augustine's Catholic Cemetery, Pleasanton. He was interested to learn of any books, booklets, or other literature that he might purchase telling of the early days of Dublin and Pleasanton. A few of us at L-AGS took this as a challenge to find out what we could for Mr. Lyster. Little did we realize where this project would take us.

The product of our research was a 112-page book that we had printed in September before Mr. Lyster returned to London. We took the dozen or so names and other information that Mr. Lyster supplied us and added hundreds of California descendants, including Naomi McDannold and her son Bruce, who hosted a reunion last September. I was unable to attend, but L-AGS member Diane Lester Kolb and her husband did and filed the report below. Diane met other distant Lyster descendants who will help fill in more information on this interesting early Tri-Valley family dating back to Lawrence and Sarah (Moran) Lyster who came to California in August of 1852.                Dick Finn

On September 30, Naomi McDannold organized a Lyster/Lester/McLaughlin reunion in her house in Rocklin, California. My husband and I drove an hour and half before we reached the gate to her housing area. Her son Bruce answered the door and welcomed us to Naomi's house. Since I had never met Naomi, I asked him where she was. He pointed to the woman in the wheelchair in the living room, which held about twenty-five other guests. At first Naomi didn't know who I was, although we had talked on the phone for months. There was about twenty minutes of "what do we do now," but thankfully, Cousin Bob Girling offered us something to drink and that broke the ice. We started talking about how we fit in with him. He was one of many cousins I met that day.

Naomi's living room table was full of papers about the family and all of her research she had worked on for years. There was also a side table full of pictures. To me they were just pictures because I knew nothing about the McLaughlin bloodline. All I was sure of is that Bridget Lyster married Bernard McLaughlin.

After about twenty-five minutes we were given a map to the "Venita Rheas" Restaurant in Rocklin where our reunion was to continue. On the way to our truck, Cousin Bob Girling handed me a folder that held a picture of Bridget Lyster. This picture had a handwritten note on it that said, "this picture was taken about 15 years ago when I was sick with malaria." The note also said that her mother's name was Sarah Moran, her father's name was Laurance Lester (born January 6, 1836, died January 8, 1890); that she (Bridget) was the mother of Bernard McLaughlin, the grandmother of Mabel A. McLaughlin, the great grandmother of Frances Collins, and that she died January 24, 1917 at Mabel's house, 422 Sharon Avenue, Stockton, California. When Cousin Bob gave me that picture, he made my day.

We drove in a caravan about five miles to the restaurant. The restaurant had a special menu for the McGlaughlin group. This spelling was different from any spelling I had ever seen. After everyone arrived and we were seated, Bruce handed out packets of information that Naomi had worked on for years; some pages had repeats and some were too light to read, but I finally had a picture of a Lyster/Lester.

When we had finished eating, Bruce took care of the bill. The cameras then came out and that's when everyone figured out I was on Bridget's side of the family. I met a lot of family that day - I still can't remember who's who.

Because of the reunion I obtained many e-mail and postal addresses. I've heard from cousin Dorothy Girling, and got Robert Girling's address; he lives in Livermore. We plan to get together. A cousin, Sandy Collins Talbert, who I've been e-mailing information about the Lyster/Lester line, is like me in that I knew nothing about the Lyster/Lester genealogy until L-AGS worked on Cousin James Lyster's project.

From this reunion I can say, don't be scared to visit unknown family. They open so many new doors.

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James Lyster of London and I during his visit in 2002. He is my third cousin once removed.

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Staff meeting

Livermore Roots Tracer Staff

Managing Editor Jane Southwick
Reporters Marie Ross, Lois Barber, Lois Smith, Kay Speaks
Compositor George Anderson
Web Editor Vicki Renz


Sandra Caulder
Staff Contributors
G.R.O.W  Frank Geasa

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11 May 2007, 11:28:55