San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

San Mateo County Places

Menlo Park - Stanford Village

                      Dibble  Army Hospital                    

Dibble General Hospital - 

On 3 Jan 1943, the US War Department purchased 128 acres of land east of El Camino Real from Wells Fargo Bank & Union Trust Company.  An additional 11.94 acres were leased from Claude Lindsay.  Here, in anticipation of the need to care for wounded soldiers returning from Pacific operations, they built a hospital.  Originally named Palo Alto General Hospital it renamed Dibble Army Hospital to honor Colonel John Dibble.  He had been killed in an aircraft crash in 1943.

This land, which had been the estate of Mark Hopkins and included the mansion known as Thurlow Lodge, which was built in 1864 by William Eustace Barron, was quickly developed.  By the end of 1943 there were 115 buildings providing 2700 beds. Dibble specialized in care for the blind, neuro-psychiatry, orthopedics and plastic surgery.

The Anchora of Delta Gamma May 1946
Menlo Park in 1943 was still a small town.  The only store on Santa Cruz Avenue was on the corner of El Camino according to Dr. Bernard Silber who was transferred from Letterman Hospital in San Francisco to the new hospital.

The town grew with the new activity.

With the end of the war, the General Services Administration terminated the lease of 7.52 with Claude Lindsay on 31 Oct 1945. By 31 Jul 1946, the hospital was closed.  The remaining lease acres as well as 127 .27 acres that had been purchased were turned over to the Federal Public Housing Authority.  The FPHA returned the rest of the leased acres to Lindsay.

The .88 acres that remained were turned over to the War Assets Administration on 5 August 1946 an additional 41.607 acres were given to the WAA on 7 May 1947.  The WAA quit claimed their holdings over the next two years to the Methodist Church, Sequoia Union High School District, the Menlo Park Sanitation District and the City of Menlo Park.

Future of Stanford Village
The remaining 85.644 fee acres were utilized by FPHA for student-veterans housing purposes at Leland Stanford Jr. University (Stanford Village) beginning 15 March 1946.  The village consisted of 300 apartments for married students and 1500 dorm beds.  By 1953 the population was already waning as student housing became available on campus, but it wasn't until 1964 that Stanford Village was closed down.

The 1940s: On the Homefront 
California Military History in Palo Alto
Army Medical Department Optomology
California Military Museum - Dibble Army Hospital
Future of Stanford Village - Stanford Daily 28 Apr 1954
Last Days of the Village - Stanford Daily 28 May 1964

The site of Dibble General Hospital is currently occupied by:

* Stanford Research Institute
* City of Menlo Park
* United States Geological Survey
* West Bay Sanitary District
* First Church of Christ Scientist
* California Department of Fish and Game
* Several private owners

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

San Mateo County Families: Who is E.S. Maynard?

In October 1856, E.S. Maynard filed an inventory of her property with the San Mateo County Court.  This was one of the first entries in the San Mateo County Sole Trader’s Register.  The filing permanently protected her separate estate consisting of more than 1000 acres of land, , “seven horses, six cows, 12 Chinese Sheep, two ploughs, three double and one single set of harness, two buggy waggons and a lot of fowls numbering one hundreds and twenty five or thereabout.”(1)

San Joaquin Republican
(Stockton, CA)
   V: 6-1 P: 3
But who was E.S. Maynard?  Early San Mateo county land records offered a few clues including a deed dated 29 Oct 1856 which like the sole trader document names her husband John C. Maynard.  The 1860 census lists the family in Township 3 (post office Woodside).  S. Ella, who is 23, was born in MIS.  Her husband, John C., age 29 was born in Virginia.  There is a 4 year old son, Gwesing(?), born in California.  Also in the household are a number of farm laborers and servants and a George F. Maynard born in Virginia who is assumed to be John’s brother.

Another clue to the identity of E.S. can be found in a newspaper article dated Saturday, November 19, 1859.  It was printed throughout the state. This article identifies E.S. as the adopted daughter of Sen. William Gwin and his wife.  The article does not identify the actual parents of S. Ella, however.  

Various sources (none documented - see books and website below) identify her father as Samuel, the brother of William. He died in 1837/8 when E.S. was a baby.

It turns out, Samuel led a colorful life.  Born in Tennessee he relocated to Mississippi in 1831.  The following letter written after his appointment as land registrar in Mount Salus explains a bit about his life.  

"Washington, October 14, 1831 Hon. George Poindexter, United States Senator: Sir- My recent appointment, Register of the Land Office at Mount Salus, makes it my duty to explain to you why I sought the position, and to say something of my antecedents. I am a native of Tennessee; was a volunteer under Jackson in his Indian campaigns; was in Coffee's brigade in the assault and capture of Pensacola in 1814, and in all the engagements with the British below New Orleans. I lost my health by long protracted exposure, and to this day am a habitual sufferer. In 1829 the Postmaster General was good enough to give me a clerkship in his department, since which time I have never been absent from my post. My beloved wife is now threatened with consumption, and I am advised that the only hope for her is to take her to a warmer climate. Under this advice, and with this hope, and for the happiness of a young family, I submitted the case to the President, and, with the noble sympathies of his nature, he conferred on me the Mount Salus appointment.

I do not apprehend that anyone will doubt my qualifications or character, but I fear my non-residence may be considered an objection. For this I must ask indulgence. I have never resided in Mississippi, but have shed my blood on her soil in her defense, as the records of our battles will attest. My venerable father and his six brothers were soldiers of the Revolution. Respectfully, your obedient servant, Sam'L Gwin "

It turns out, Senator Poindexter did resent the appointment and managed to defeat the nomination of Colonel Gwin in the Senate.  The Gwins, in turn, led the successful fight to defeat Poindexter in the next election.  The result was that in 1835 Judge Isaac Caldwell, Poindexter's law partner, and Colonel Gwin engaged in a dual. Each armed with six revolvers and agreeing to move forward as they shot, the inevitable happened and both parties fell. Caldwell died within a few hours. Gwin, shot through the lungs, survived a year, dying in New Orleans in 1838.

So we are still left with the question, is ES (S Ella) the daughter of Samuel?  The obvious next step is to find probate records for Samuel.  We know he owned land in Hinds Co., Mississippi and he reportedly died in New Orleans.  Probate records for both are available online and he is not found in New Orleans nor in the index for Hinds County thru 1842. It is possible that the probate was filed at a later date as there were land records in his name (listing multiple patentees) at least as late as 1841, it is also possible that he still had holdings in Tennessee and that the official probate was filed there The Elite Directory for San Francisco and Oakland (Argonaut Publishing 1879) notes that Mrs. "Gwin's daughter married Mr. Evan Coleman, and her charming niece, Miss Ella Gwin, was led to the altar by John C. Maynard."  Again Ella's father is not named but it does corroborate a close relationship.  It does not note that Ella by this point is already deceased.

Locating E.S. in 1850 might also give a clue to her identity.  She was not found with the family of William, who was living in Virginia at the time.  A search for Gwins born about 1837 in Mississippi found Samuella Gwin age 12 living in Warren, Mississippi with the family of James C. Mosby.  While my first thought was that her mother had remarried, James' wife Sarah was only 22 making it impossible for her to be Samuella's (ES/S Ella) mother.  The second thought that Sarah was an older sister is also unlikely as "again undocumented" sources suggest instead that James' first wife was Elizabeth Gwin the sister of Samuel and that Sarah was his second wife.  

Adding credence to the ancestry of Samuella are the fact that her name is a feminine version of Samuel, she named her first son Gwin, and a daughter Edith.  She was definitely connected to Samuel's brother William as he acknowledged her as an adopted daughter.  Leaving the door open to a change, however, is the fact that Samuel came from a large family.  His father James had moved to Mississippi, so any of his children could have had a child born there, and no documentation has been found to date proving her parentage.  

The sources previously mentioned provide a death date for Samuella of 9 Dec 1862.  While no death record, obituary, or grave has been found, we do know that John had remarried before 1870.  In fact no record has been found for Samuella  after the 1860 census was taken.  A thorough search of land record documents should verify a time of death, however, as those lands would have been been inherited by family members.  One possible source of further information might be a court  case in which William M. Gwin was involved which was reported in the San Mateo County Times Gazette on 7 Feb 1863. 

July 13, 1874    San Francisco Bulletin   V: XXXVIII-82   P: 3. 
 E.S. and John C. Maynard reportedly had four children. Two, Edith and Hylton, most likely died in childhood as they are not found in the 1870 census. Perhaps Samuella died in childbirth and the three were buried on Oak Hill Ranch grounds or in the defunct and lost West Union Cemetery as they are not found with the rest of the family burials.

Gwin was born 15 Dec 1856 and died in 5 Jul 1874 according to his tombstone (FindAGrave#85676932)  which is located in St. John’s Cemetery in San Mateo.  One source says that he was killed, but I have found no record to back that up, surely anything spectacular would have been reported in the newspaper.  The only newspaper notice I've found is shown here. Perhaps an unspectacular accident, or a suicide by a seventeen year old might have been kept quiet?

Mary, the daughter of E.S. and John,  was born 8 Nov 1858 She married Henry Stanley Dexter about 20 Jun 1887(Dexter Henry S 26 Napa Valley Maynard Mamie 25 San Mateo 17-Jun 18853 278 San Mateo) . Mary died just over two years later on 29 Oct 1887 according to her tombstone (FindAGrave85676933) . 

See the May SMCGS Families posting for more on JC Maynard

Sources and Research Possibilities

Schellen’s Collection

  • E.S. 1856 Oak Hill Ranch 3 41.1 8,10

SMCGS - Early Land Record Index
  • Maynard E.S. 29-Oct-1856 D1 41 Grantee wife of John C. 
  • Maynard E.S. 2 Apr 1858 D1 328 grantee 
  • Maynard E.S. 26 Jun 1858 D2 52 thru 53 grantor 
  •  Maynard E.S. 9 Sep 1859 Mort1 326 thru 327 Mortgagor \
  • Maynard E.S. 4 Feb1860 D2 251 thru 252 grantor  

Census Records 

  • 1850 James C. Mosby Household, Warren, Mississippi; Roll: M432_382; Page: 210B
  • 1860 - Township 3, San Mateo, California; Roll: M653_65; Page: 83 (1)

  • Founding the Far West: California, Oregon, and Nevada, 1840-1890  By David Alan Johnson p.118 (2)
  • George Archer I of the Umberslade Archers of Henrico County, Virginia and his descendants by Randolph, Wassell. 1987 p. 11
  • Jackson, Andrew Message from the President of the United States, with Documents Relating to the Character and Conduct of Samuel Gwin.   Washington, D. C. 1837 (Charges of Fraud and Favoritism in Land office Dealings) 
  • Virginia Cousins  By G. Brown Goode, Goode p353

  Do YOU have a San Mateo County Pioneer Family that you would like to see on this blog?  Contact  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

SMCGS Databases Online: Index to Richard Schellens Collection of Historical Materials

A 191 volume manuscript collection covering the years 1852-1975 

Richard Schellens, one of the founding members of the Redwood City Archives Committee, was an accountant by trade and a historian by obsession. His love of the history of San Mateo County and San Francisco has left us with a collection of abstractions that have been organized into binders by the Redwood City Archives Committee. The originals of these volumes, which cover the whole county rather than just Redwood City, are housed in the Redwood City Main Library History Room.

Schellens gathered not only current day information, but he systematically went back through old directories, county histories, great registers, county record books and newspapers, extracting, abstracting, photocopying and indexing the lives of the residents of San Mateo County, San Francisco and beyond.

Three volumes of Redwood City real estate transactions include hand drawn maps and references to the deeds in the San Mateo County Official Record books. More than 50 books hold records of Redwood City residents sorted by the main surname of the record. Other volumes are sorted by township, with both current and no longer existent townships being covered.

While the Schellens Collection would seldom be considered an end source, being comprised of second hand materials, it is a wonderful finding aid for records of tens of thousands of San Mateo County and San Francisco residents, as well as residents of other California counties and the western states. The main limitation of this work was the lack of an index. With the help of many dedicated SMCGS members as well as members of other societies around the state, the entire 191 Volume collection has been indexed and you can find links to the indexes below.

It is important to note which index you find a name in if you are ordering copies or trying to find the item in the library.

The original volumes are housed in the Redwood City Public Library History Room.

SMCGS has copies of the entire collection housed with our library collection in the Cañada College Library. The San Mateo County collection can be found at 979.461 SCH and the San Francisco Collection can be found at 979.461.

Volumes covering the other counties of California can be found in a binder at the beginning of each county’s book collection, general volumes contained in the California Binders are also included in this index.

The collection also includes one or more volumes from the states of Alaska (1), Arizona (2), Idaho (3), Montana (4), Nevada (5), Oregon (6), Utah (7) and Washington (8).

An index to the sixty volumes covering the other counties of California can be found on the members only website of the California State Genealogical Alliance.  Members of member societies should ask their society for log-in information.

Check out the other SMCGS Databases and good luck with your research

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

San Mateo County Cemeteries: Greek Orthodox Memorial Park

Established in 1935, the cemetery has over four thousand burials on 7 acres  Original Brochure

The Greek Orthodox Memorial Park is the only private Greek Orthodox cemetery in the United States.  Opened in 1935 by Nicholaos Doukas as a place for the Orthodox to be buried together, it caters to all Eastern Orthodox faiths.  It is not a non-profit, thus pays taxes on land and profits. The cemetery was consecrated in 1936 by the most Rev. Archbishop Athenagoras of New York City.

In the early days of San Francisco Orthodox burials took pace in Yerba Buena, Laurel Hill and City Cemeteries.  In 1884 the Greco-Russian community extablished a cemetery bound by Turk, Parker, Golden Gate and North Willard Streets in SF.  It was closed in 1893 as the housing market boomed and all bodies were moved to Golden Gate Cemetery by the next year.

Gradually all SF Cemeteries were closed to further burials and in 1904 the newly founded Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church established a relationship with Mount Olivet Cemetery in Colma. A group of plots was purchased in Myrtle section in 1907 and when the "Greek Plot" was filled another group of plots was purchased in Section L.  This was the primary cemetery for Orthodox burials until Greek Orthodox Memorial Park was opened. Tombstones inscribed in Greek can be found in those sections today.

With the opening of the new cemetery, some burials were moved including Father Pythagoras Caravellas, 1890 - 1934

Follow the gentle hills and winding road to the top of the cemetery where you will find the  Eastern Orthodox chapel  which is called the Fountain of Life (Παρεκκλησιον Τησ Ζωοδοξου Πηγης).

Remember that this, like most of Colma's cemeteries is private.  Be sure to check in at the office and check out the rules before wandering about.


FindAGrave lists 492 burials with 44% photographed, this is just a fraction of the burials in the cemetery which has more than 4000 burials within it's seven acres.

1148 El Camino Real