The Roots Tracer is a quarterly publication with articles of interest to the genealogist. Members are encouraged to submit their "Profiles" as well as articles of general interest. Queries are free to members, $l.00 to non-members. The deadline for each quarterly is the 15th of June, September, December and March. Send material to: Roots Tracer, P. O. Box 901, Livermore, CA 94551-0901.


Calendar of Events

Family History Center

Library News

Thank You Note

From Our Files

Computer News

CD Corner

More Names of our Ancestors

From Our Members

Livermore Valley History

L-AGS Seminar


Copyright Notice: No articles may be reproduced for profit or commercial gain without the express consent of the authors, the editors, or the Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society.

(From various sources)

Jul 15 SAN RAMON VALLEY GEN. SOC. MEETING - 10 a.m. at Golden State Rehab Hospital, 7777 Norris Canyon Road.

Jul 24 L-AGS COMPUTER GROUP - 7:30 p.m. at LDS Church, 950 Mocho Street, Livermore. See Computer News in this issue for topic.

Jul 23-27 AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOC. - GERMANS FROM RUSSIA, Golden Gate Chapter & the CA District Council presents 29th International Convention. Hyatt Hotel, 1740 N. First Street, San Jose. (408) 993-1234.

Aug.12 L-AGS REGULAR MEETING - 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Beth Emek, corner of College Avenue & South M Street, Livermore. (925) 447-9386.


Aug 28 L-AGS COMPUTER GROUP - 7:30 p.m. at LDS Church, 950 Mocho Street, Livermore. See Computer News in this issue for topic.

Sep 9 L-AGS REGULAR MEETING - 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Beth Emek, corner of College Ave. & South M Street, Livermore. (925) 447-9386.

Sep. 20 L-AGS ANNUAL SEMINAR - at LDS Church, Pleasanton, California. See details in this issue.

Sep 25: L-AGS COMPUTER GROUP - 7:30 p.m. at LDS Church, 950 Mocho Street, Livermore. See Computer News in this issue for topic.

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Jeanne Tanghe

Our new room at the Family History Center in the LDS Church at 950 Mocho St.(annex) is now open. It has the microfiche and a microfilm reader. Come in an see how nice our Center is now.

There has been a glitch in the training of the volunteers. The person in charge of setting up the training session was unable to do it as he had planned. Don’t give up! We really appreciate your volunteering and you will be contacted as soon as we get our act together. If you can’t wait to be called, feel free to walk in and ask the person on duty to show you how the center works. I have trained 5 members and they seem to be enjoying themselves.


The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution have published the first volume of Revolutionary War Graves Register and are accumulating information for the next volume. Write to SAR National Headquarters, Grave Registry - Revolutionary Graves Committee, 1000 South Fourth St., Louisville, KY 40203 for a form to complete..

The Descendants of the Mexican War Veterans are also compiling information on the veterans of the 1846-1848 war and will publish it. Write to DMWV National Headquarters, Graves Registry, PO Box 830482, Richardson, TX 75033-0482 for a form to complete. (NVGBS Winepress, 23:2, p.4)

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Judy Person


A to ZAX, a Comprehensive Dictionary for Genealogists and Historians. By Barbara Evans. Donated by Bev Ales in honor of and in thanks to Doug Mumma for all his help in computers. (Lots of us agree!) Excellent dictionary of terms, plus lists of nicknames and names translated back and forth from Dutch for NY ancestors.

Abstracts of the Records of the Society of Friends in Indiana - 929.3772 - Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jim Scofield. This is Volume 1, including Whitewater and Springfield meetings in Wayne County. It continues the 6-volume Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, which L-AGS owns. Births, deaths, marriages, moves and "disciplines".

Atlantic Bridge to Germany, volumes VII, North Rhine-Westphaliam - 929.90943, and VII, Prussia - 929.30943, and Mecklenburg Genealogical Handbook - 929.34317. These bring our set up to date. By Charles Hall. Information and maps on each area.

City Directories at Sutro Library. By Bette Kot and Shirley Thomson - 019.92937. They have a huge library from most states, with many more on film and fiche. May offer occupations, addresses and other inhabitants, as well as names.

Early New Englanders and Kin. By Roy Burgess - 929.374. This is a bit of a challenge to figure out, but it provides a list of names, and to whom they are related, of 12,000 individuals.

Family Newsletter Handbook: questions and answers for editors. By Shirley Siems Terry - 070.593. Gift from the author! Guidelines, tips and hints for publishing a family genealogy newsletter.

Gateway to the West. Volumes 1 and 2. Bowers, compiler - 929.3771. This gathers and reprints an Ohio journal published 1976 to 1978, including some of Ohio’s most important genealogical records. Ohio was a very important transition state between east and west. Fully indexed. Vitals, marriages, land, will, cemetery and court records.

Genealogical Research in England’s PRO: a guide for North Americans. Reid - 929.1. The Public Record Office is roughly equivalent to our National Archives, but dates from the Domesday Book to the latest opened census, that of 1891, and also includes church records, many military and vital records.

Oxford Companion to local and Family History. By David Hey, editor - 929.107. Pleasanton Library owns. A fascinating encyclopedic volume of terms, each item from one paragraph to one page in length.

A Preservation Guide. By Barbara Sagraves - 025.84. Short, to-the-point guide on paper, photos, video, and textiles.

Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants Awarded by State Governments. By Lloyd D. Bockstruck - 973.34. Some state governments had access to their own land, or land further west, which was used to recruit or compensate soldiers, heirs of "sufferers". Gives name, where from, rank, dates, and number of acres.

San Francisco Probate Index, 1880-1906: a partial reconstruction. California Genealogical Society. Tries to substitute for records lost in the 1906 fire.

Pamphlets New to the Collection:

A guide to membership in the National Genealogical Society

Researching in the Colorado State Archives

Tracing the Women in Your Family: Twenty Methods

A series from Allen County Public Library Genealogy Department in Fort Wayne, Indiana, called Pathfinders:

English and Welsh Genealogy
French-Canadian and Acadian Genealogy
German Genealogy
Irish Genealogy
Scottish Genealogy
Swiss Genealogy

These have lists of books to search, some of which we have, as well as other information.

Happy Hunting!

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The State Vital Statistics Viewing Room in Sacramento is again open for business. While the room is open to the public, one must call 916-445-1719 for an appointment 24 hours in advance. Appointments are for a 30 minute stay only. You may view record indexes for births from 1956 to 1994; death indexes for 1940 to 1994; and marriage indexes from 1960 to 1985 on microfiche. These are the same indexes which the State makes available for sale and can be viewed at many of your reference and genealogy libraries.

For the researcher just tracing an individual or a few family members, an appointment may be more than adequate. But for professional researchers doing large numbers of searches, 30 minutes a day can be costly in time and bad for business. These researchers certainly have a justifiable reason to complain.

The appointment policy is established by the Vital Statistics Office. If you, as a researcher, find that it creates a hardship for you, write to the State Vital Statistics Office and let them know. Ask if it can be changed. If enough people take the time to make them aware of the problem, then the policy makers may very well change the policy. But if no one tells them there is a problem, nothing will change!

Iris Carter Jones in the Genealogical & Historical Council of Sacramento Valley "Council News Coordinator", Vol.8, No.6, Nov/Dec 1996.)


There is a call from Carlisle Barracks for information on WWII experiences. (From Genealogical Bulletin #36, Nov-Dec 1996, p.24)

Write or call U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, 22 Ashburn Drive, Carlisle, PA 17013-5008 (phone 717-245-3611; FAX 717-245-3711) and ask for the "Army Services Experiences Questionnaire". This includes all experiences, not only combat experiences, and covers men and women.

Please encourage relatives, friends, neighbors to contribute to this vast store of knowledge. It is a short, specific way for us to get information from some who are unwilling to give us information otherwise.


Supported languages: CZEch, DANish, DUTch, ENGlish, FREnch, GERman, HUNgarian, ITAlian, NORwegian, POLish, PORtuguese, SPAnish, SWEdish. First line should read #SRC>DEST, where SRC is the source language and DEST is the destination language. Example; #ENG>GER for an English to German translation. Your message should have a maximum length of 40 lines. This service is done for genealogists by volunteers who are willing to help, but can’t make any guarantees regarding correctness. Send your requests to (From Placer Trails, April 1997, submitted by L.H."Bud" Swendner)

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FROM: Linda E. Scanlon-Hayton

I was down home a few years ago and went to the Old Dublin Cem. Donald Foxworthy and I are working on Fallon lines his mother said were not related. But both Fallon families married into the Murray Family and some of my Fallons and his Fallons are buried in the same cemeteries. Anyway, when I was down there I hand wrote all the names and dates that were on the headstones, some time later Donald sent me a newspaper article telling of the vicious destruction of the head stones in the cemetery. I just could not believe it and was sickened by it. I remember taking my lunch that day and sat at the foot of Jerimah Fallon’s grave, I was all by myself and it felt really right to be there. Now it is gone. I am glad my grandmother was not living to have known about this, family meant so much to her. Please, if you attend a meeting of LAGS, tell them that a "Fallon" cousin will be forever in their debt for gathering the cemetery information so that others will at least have that part of their history.

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Doug Mumma,


The following L-AGS Computer Interest Group meetings have been tentatively scheduled. Firm announcements of the meeting topics will be made at the regular monthly meeting of L-AGS and they will be sent to everyone who is on our e-mail distribution list. These meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. at the LDS Church, 905 Mocho Street in Livermore. As always, we will try to reserve some time at the end of each meeting for general questions and problem solving.

July 24th, 1997 - "Genealogy Mapping" Art Lassagne from the GOLD BUG will demonstrate two computer mapping programs called AniMap and Centennia. AniMap is a County Boundary Historical Atlas for the United States that runs on any computer using Windows 3.1 or higher. It allows you to view and print the county boundaries of any state as they vary with time, from the original creation date of the state up to the present time. Centennia is a Historical Atlas program of Europe and the Middle East from 1000 to 1993 A.D. Art will also bring a selection of his historic map reproductions that are in both black & white and color. If you like maps showing the historical boundaries of states and regions where your ancestors lived, you won't want to miss this meeting.

August 28th, 1997 - "Privacy and Security on the Internet" Do you have concerns about privacy and security issues when you surf the Internet? Do you wonder what a "cookie" is that various Internet sites try to send you? Are you afraid to give out your credit card number over the Internet? Concerned about viruses? Then this meeting is for you. Chris Cochems, the system administrator for The Diamond Lane (TDL), a local Internet Service Provider, will explain it all in detail. Chris has the responsibility to insure that TDL is safe and that it runs smoothly. He also does Internet consulting about Web page creation and other computer issues. This should be a very informative meeting so get your concerns and questions together to ask Chris.

September 25th, 1997 - "Not Just a Pretty Face!" With the use of specialized genealogy software programs, we often forget that word processors are important tools for the genealogist, not just for making our documents look better, but also for heavy-duty data manipulation. George Anderson will present some useful tips and tricks you can use with word processors to get new insights into your data, to ferret out elusive mistakes, and to make book preparation easier.


Several focus groups that started in April are still functioning and active. The Family Tree Maker group is meeting on the 1st Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at the LDS Church on Mocho Street in Livermore. J'Nell Thompson serves as the group coordinator. The upcoming meetings will be devoted to discussing issues, tips, bugs and problems related to the new release of Family Tree Maker, version 4.0.

The Family Origins focus group is meeting on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in Wayne Barnes' house in Dublin. If you would like to attend one of their meetings, give Wayne a call as space is limited. This focus group is dealing with general questions and problems posed by the attendees.


A number of genealogy software companies have released revised versions of their software, providing new capabilities and enhancements. While most of you have received upgrade announcements directly from the vendors, it is appropriate to discuss some of the improvements and problems with these new versions.

PAF 3.0 (IBM DOS version) The revised version of PAF has been released and is available directly from the LDS Church Distribution Center in Salt Lake. The cost of the new version is only a modest $15 for mail orders and a nominal $2 service charge is added for telephone orders. The program can be ordered by telephone at (800) 537-5950. Some highlights and changes to the program are:

Longer name, date and place fields including the use of diacritics and special characters
Easier data entry from the Pedigree Search screen
Ability to link a child to more than one family (adopted, guardian, etc.)
Ability to add and store sources
Improved reports and charts (No book style reports available, however)
Notes may be added to marriage records
There is an improved notes editor
Can use more than one letter when performing an alpha name search

Several potential negative issues, depending on your own circumstances, are that your database will increase in size when it is automatically upgraded to the new version. Some users have observed a 38% increase in the files sizes. In addition, the old add-on utilities that you might have used with PAF 2.3 will no longer work with the new version because the database structure is different. This includes such add-on programs such as GEN-BOOK, FOREST, Ancestral Quest, etc. While some of the add-on programs will be modified to handle the new database, many will not. If you use add-on PAF programs extensively, this may be a problem for you.

A few significant utilities were dropped in the new version. The Research Data Filer (RDF) has been eliminated. Again, if you used this extensively in PAF 2.3, then you will sorely miss it. However, if you never used this feature, there is no consequence. The relationship calculator was also dropped. There is a potential problem with notes when they are converted to the new version. It has to do with the way version 2.3 added a hard carriage return to the end of each line. If you have extensive notes in the old version, the notes may appear to be very jagged in the new version. Also, if you used hanging indentations in the old version, there is an incompatibility between the two versions. There is a solution to this problem that is offered free by Ann Turner who has written a small program that will correct these problems.

If you are using PAF and are considering upgrading, I suggest you go to the following Web site on the Internet and read in detail the issues and known bugs. The URL for this site, which is maintained by Mike St. Clair, is listed below. Just follow the links on this page to various articles. Ann Turner's URL for downloading her PAF 3.0 notes utility is also listed there.

FAMILY TREE MAKER (version 4.0 for Windows and a version for Mac) The new version of FTM has been released and is being distributed. The upgrade price is $29.99. I received my copy and found a number of useful enhancements, including a much revised "book" style report that includes a table of contents and index, a new source database, and an improved GEDCOM facility to import and export files to either GEDCOM standard 4.0 or 5.5. The merge routine has been improved over the previous version and appears easy to use. Some bugs and problems have already been identified. There is a problem after notes have been transferred from previous versions of FTM. They have developed a work around, but a revised upgrade should be issued. This will be a test to see how Broderbund is going to treat its massive customer base. Keep tuned. If you are using the new version or need help with any version, I suggest you either attend our Family Tree Maker focus group sessions, call technical support, and/or monitor the Family Tree Maker Bulletin Board where problems and issues are discussed and solutions suggested. The FTM technical support staff monitor this board and make appropriate comments and answers. The address for this useful Web location is:

FAMILY ORIGINS - While no new versions have been announced for this program, reliable sources say that Parson’s Technology, the marketers of Family Origins, has been bought by Broderbund. Since Broderbund also owns Family Tree Maker, it is not known what the outcome will be and whether they bought the licensing rights to Family Origins. I think most users will not view this action as positive. This program is quite good, it is reasonably priced and has a number of features that are different from and better than Family Tree Maker. I was looking forward to seeing their next version, but now it is hard to tell what will happen. Keep tuned to the next episode of the rapidly changing genealogy software business.

ROOTS V - FAMILY GATHERINGS - ULTIMATE FAMILY TREE Lots of changes are happening with Commsoft, the vendor of Roots V and Palladium Interactive, the company who recently purchased Family Gatherings from Commsoft. In the latest maneuver, Palladium Interactive has purchased all of the rights to Commsoft’s genealogy software. In addition, Roots V and Family Gatherings will no longer be offered and a new product line called the "Ultimate Family Tree" will be released in early July. Palladium Interactive is obviously taking dead aim at the large market share that Broderbund has captured through their aggressive marketing of Family Tree Maker. Palladium wants to run with the "big dogs"! How successful they will be remains to be seen. They have thoroughly upset Commsoft’s established customer base through a series of ill-timed buyout moves and poor information announcements. The new product will be an enhanced version of Roots V. They will also offer a series of special CD-ROMs containing US Gazetteers, a genealogy tutor, a records requester that automatically creates information request letters, and a "Family Sleuth" to search family trees containing over 1.6 million names. If you are interested in this new product scheduled for release in early July, visit their new Web site at:

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Robbie Robinson

The big news at the National Genealogy Society meeting was the pending release of version 4.0 of Family Tree Maker due on 10 June 1997. We had the opportunity to demonstrate this new release and I have to tell you that it is a big step forward. Some of the new features are family books, advanced search capabilities and much improved source pages. If you have bought a previous version within 90 days of the 10 June date, you are entitled to a free update to version 4.0. A copy of the receipt is required to verify the date of purchase. If you fall outside this 90 day period, you may upgrade for $29.95.

The new version 4.0 of the Family Finder Index is now a two-CD set which references over 130 million names that appear in centuries of state and federal records in the Family Archive CDs. The same rules apply as above to upgrade from version 3.02 to version 4.0 of FFI.

Some of the recent CD releases include the following: Military Records: Confederate Soldiers - This CD contains the complete contents of National Archives microfilm roll number M918, "Register of Confederate Soldiers, Sailors, and Citizens Who Died in Federal Prisons and Military Hospitals in the North from 1861 to 1865". Each record generally gives the individual's rank, company, regiment, death date, location of their death or burial, and the number and locality of their grave. The collection includes the names of approximately 25,000 individuals which are indexed for convenience and easy searching. CD # 119, $29.99.

Family History: New England Families #1, 1600s to 1800s - This Family Archive contains images of the pages of 11 important family history books. Together, these books list over 113,000 individuals who lived in New England during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Individual’s names are indexed for your convenience. From this CD, you can learn the names of family members, along with dates and locations of family events. CD #117, $19.99.

Veterans' Schedules: U.S. Selected States, 1890 - This CD contains an index of approximately 385,000 war veterans and veterans' widows who were enumerated on the special veterans' schedule of the 1890 U.S. Census. Although the 1890 veterans' schedule was meant only to record information about union soldiers and their widows, it also lists information about some Confederate soldiers and soldiers who served in other wars, such as the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. States represented include AL, DC, IL, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, and WY. In addition, there are some records from CA, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, MA, NY, OH, and PA. CD # 131, $29.99.

Other new CDs include: CD 174, Virginia Vital Records #1, 1600s 1800s, $39.99; CD 175, Ohio Vital Records #1, 1790s - 1870s, $29.99; CD 176, Ohio Vital Records #2, 1750s - 1880s, $29.99; CD 284, Census Index, Massachusetts, 1870, $29.99.

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George Anderson

The new L-AGS surname book is now out, and a massive update it is. Some comparative statistics are given below.

By the time you read this, the electronic version of the book will be on our Web site on the Internet. The address is Hopefully, some of you will already have received queries from Internet browsers.

Thanks are due to Wes Nelson and Jim Scofield for many hours of data preparation, and to the 130 L-AGS members who spent hours compiling their data for submission. Thanks also to Larry Renslow and Doug Mumma for help with the Web publication.

Our new surname book, entitled "More Names of our Ancestors," is an index to our research interests. The purpose is twofold: to publicize the information that we have and are willing to share, and to seek out others with related information they are willing to share. Of course, we hope that a reader who finds matching interests with one of us will take the time to correspond with us, for mutual benefit.

All members of L-AGS were asked to submit an outline of their research as a series of one-line statements:

Surname and variants Locality of residence Inclusive dates of residence in that locality

To keep the book to a manageable size, the locality descriptions were limited to two levels in the United States: the state and either a county or a town; and to three levels in other countries: country, province, and county or town. The dates were limited to years only.

One hundred thirty persons submitted data. The total number of statements accepted was 10,103. A key identifying the submitter was appended to each statement. Names, postal addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of the submitters are listed in a table preceding the indexes in the printed version. In the Web version, only e-mail addresses are given. If you have e-mail, you will receive messages directly from the inquirer. Those of you who do not have e-mail will receive mail indirectly: The e-mail query will come to a generic L-AGS address, and your postal address will be sent back by e-mail, so that the inquirer can send a "snail mail" letter.

From the information L-AGS members contributed to the surname book, four indexes were constructed:

First is an index containing the surname and spelling variants, the locality, the dates and the submitter’s key. It is alphabetized by surname. In this index there are 10,103 entries, including 3876 different surnames, of which 452 are variants.

Second comes an index listing the locality, the surname without spelling variants, the dates and the submitter’s key. It is sorted by these fields in the same order. There are 9548 entries, fewer than in the surname index because some statements submitted have an unknown locality. Members’ geographic interests span 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, plus 41 foreign countries.

All the surnames in the book, sorted by soundex number, comprise the third index. This part contains 1532 different soundex numbers. A reader searching for a name that does not appear in the book can convert the name to soundex and perhaps find a valid match among similar names. A refresher on how to calculate soundex codes is included.

The last index is sorted by the members’ keys. This list is intended to help readers find those members with whom they might share an interest in several different surnames. Such multiple matches serve to confirm a kinship postulated on the basis of a single surname.

Our new book is a revised and expanded edition of our previous surname book, "Names of our Ancestors," published in 1994. That book contained 5861 submissions from 99 members and former members of the club. The 1994 book in turn superseded the 1988 edition containing 3290 entries. Our new book presents 10,103 entries from 130 persons. Only 2647 of these entries are carried over from 1994 — three fourths are new or modified. Submissions for the new book were accepted from current members only. First-time contributors account for 75 of the 130 submitters, primarily because of the Society’s rapid growth in the last few years.

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By Beth Rauch (new member)

National Genealogical Society Conference at Valley Forge, PA 7-10 May, 1997

The opening session of the NGS Conference closed with rousing music by a string band from the Philadelphia Mummers, dressed in brightly colored sequin-covered outfits and playing the Pennsylvania Polka. Over 2000 attendees danced their way out of the hall behind the mummers and into four days jam-packed with genealogical sessions from morning to night.

.It was difficult to choose among the many sessions, usually a minimum of seven sessions in any one time period. Probably the highlight of the week for me was a wonderful 2-hour dramatic historical re-enactment by George Schweitzer (PhD in history and Chemistry) on the history of immigration and emigration in Pennsylvania. George dressed and played the part of a Quaker for the first hour, detailing the history of Irish and border Scot immigration and, dressed as a frontiersman, he narrated the exodus of these same people south through the Shenandoah Valley and west down the Ohio River. As a resident of Pennsylvania for many years, and having many genealogical lines passing through the state, I thoroughly enjoyed his brief history lesson.

Other enjoyable and educational presentations that I was able to attend included sessions on the use of The Master Genealogist by its author, Bob Velke. Laurie Rofini and Barbara Weir, archivists at the Chester Co., PA, Archives and Chester County Historical Society gave an excellent talk on Courthouse Records in Pennsylvania: Beyond Wills and Deeds, including records of orphans court, clerk of courts, prothonotary, and commissioners records.

Eric Grundset, library director for the NSDAR Library, was an excellent speaker on the subject of Dates, Times & Ages for the Genealogist including the many calendar shifts throughout time and across national boundaries and religious groups.

Curt Withcher, manager of the Historical Genealogy Dept. of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was another excellent speaker who covered Finding Your Patriot: Beginning Sources for the Revolutionary War Ancestors, including those sources which account for 90% of the available information: state, local, and national public libraries; service records; other government documents; the internet; and a variety of less well known sources for the remaining 10%.

There were so many excellent talks offered that it was difficult to choose among them and almost impossible to find time to visit the Exhibit Hall where over 150 exhibitors, from publishers to genealogical societies, the National Archives, book dealers and software vendors, exhibited their products and services.

Next year this convention will be held in Denver, CO, 6-9 May 1998, and I would highly recommend it for anyone able to attend.

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Gary Drummond

Editor’s Note: Gary Drummond has long been a student of Livermore Valley History. He is the author and editor of several publications on Valley history, including the stories of Mary Ann Harlan Smith, William Mendenhall and James D. Smith, Headmaster of Livermore College from 1875 to 1893. He is on the Board of Directors of the Livermore Heritage Guild. He has graciously agreed to write an article on history in the Livermore Valley for each issue of the Roots Tracer.


The secularization of California missions from 1834 to 1837 opened great amounts of land throughout California for grants. The area now known as the Livermore Amador Valley had been the grazing land for Mission San Jose’s thousands of cattle and sheep since its establishment in 1796. The Mission church property was turned over to the government, who reduced it to just the land surrounding the church proper. But for some few years earlier, the Mexican authorities had been whittling away at mission lands, often in the form of land grants to those who had given exceptional service to the government.

The metes and bounds of a grant were usually determined by natural landmarks, such as trees or geologic features. Generally, surveys were imprecise, relying on two horsemen and a rope of known length. At a given point, one horseman held one end of the rope while the other rode ahead to its end in a predetermined direction. The first horseman then overtook the second, and they kept exchanging places until they reached a final point. The length of the rope and the number of times, give or take a few, the exchanges were made provided the distance.

Rancho San Ramon

One of those to whom land was given was Jose Maria Amador, whose years of service as a soldier merited him in 1835 a grant of four leagues (a league nominally being 4,400 acres) of mission land. He called it Rancho San Ramon. On a spot northwest of the present intersection of San Ramon Valley Boulevard and Dublin Boulevard, he built his home (destroyed in the 1868 earthquake) near a natural water source called Alamilla Springs (hidden in an apartment complex at that intersection and still flowing). Amador was one of the few grantees not entirely dependent on the sale of hides and tallow as income. He established facilities employing Indian laborers for tanning leather, making shoes and soap, saddles and harness, weaving blankets, and even manufacturing wagons. With the coming of Americans to the area, Amador took the opportunity to sell the land south of the present Dublin Boulevard to Irishmen, Michael Murray and Jeremiah Fallon, sometime before 1852, and property to the north to a Mississippian, J.W.Dougherty, some time after. In 1848, with the discovery of gold, he temporarily departed for the Mother Lode country where, with Indian laborers, he mined for gold. Amador County bears Amador’s name.

Rancho Santa Rita

Extending east from Foothill Road, with the San Ramon grant on the north and the Valle de San Jose grant on the south, Rancho Santa Rita was given to Jose Dolores Pacheco in 1839. The grant included more than 8,000 acres of excellent grazing land. Pacheco was an absentee landowner; in 1844, his majordomo (ranch manager), Francisco Solano Alviso, probably built the little adobe that stands on Foothill Road overlooking the valley. The house is known most recently as Meadowlark Dairy. Rancho Santa Rita won’t be forgotten - the Alameda County jail recalls it to memory

Rancho El Valle de San Jose

When the title to Rancho El Valle de San Jose was finally settled, the total area given the grantees was 64,000 acres, making it one of the largest Mexican land grants given out. The recipients were the Bernals, Jose Agostin, Juan Pablo, and their two sisters, one married to Antonio Maria Pico and the other to Antonio Sunol. The grant boundaries extended from the Santa Rita grant on the north to the Calaveras watershed on the south, and as far east as Robert Livermore’s Rancho Las Positas. By 1850, the herds of the rancho were estimated at twenty-five thousand cattle, several thousand sheep and a thousand head of horses. By the time the grant was finally patented in 1863, three of the owners had sold their share to Juan Pablo Bernal. The Bernals were one of the few families to keep their holdings intact, selling them off in "plots" of 100 to 500 acres each for any price they could get. Much of the towns of Livermore and Pleasanton and the intervening gravel pits now occupy the Rancho El Valle de San Jose.

Rancho Las Positas

The fourth, and second largest, of the Mexican land grants in the Livermore Amador Valley was made to Robert Livermore, a naturalized Mexican citizen of English birth, and Jose Noriega, in 1839. Livermore had been living on the property since about 1835. He was as much interested in viticulture and horticulture as he was in cattle and horses. He was the first in this area to plant a vineyard in 1845 and an orchard of pears and olives. Robert Livermore died in 1858 before the establishment of the town that bears his name.

The first building on his ranch was an adobe dwelling. In 1849, he added a two-story "Around the Horn" house, the first wooden building in the valley. The adobe was in ruins by 1875, but the wooden structure, essentially a "prefab", was not torn down until the 1950’s. Livermore’s became a popular stopping place after the discovery of gold for Argonauts headed for the Mother Lode country, as it was the first night’s stopping place from San Jose.

The name, Rancho Las Positas, comes from some small springs located about a mile east of North Livermore Avenue that provided him water for irrigating his fields.

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6101 Valley Avenue, Pleasanton, CA

Registration at 8:30 a.m.

Sessions begin at 9:00 a.m.

It is too early at Roots Tracer press time to give a full listing of speakers, but a sample follows:

Marge Bell - How to use the Family History Center

Coordination of Dates (Birth, Marriage, Death, etc.)

Ron Frye - The Internet

Hal Miller - How to use the National Archives

Jolene Abrahams - Beginning Genealogy

Garth Ludwig - The New PAF Program

Flyers will be sent to members before the Seminar and will be available at local Public Libraries and other locations

You may pre-register (details will be in the flyer) or register at the door.

Lunch will be provided ONLY for those who are pre-registered.

These seminars are usually well-attended and have been highly praised in the past. The Internet session, in particular, was very popular last year and registration may be limited to a first-come, first-served basis.

Register early and be sure of getting the sessions you want to attend!

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Last modified 10may04.0547 gwa