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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

San Mateo County Places - Brisbane

Brisbane, CA - Sharon Hart Darlin  - Some rights reserved
 Nestled between San Bruno Mountain and the San Francisco Bay,  at the southeast corner of the Guadalupe Valley,  Brisbane consists of 3.1 square miles of land and 17 square miles of water, the Brisbane Lagoon.  A portion of the Rancho CaƱada de Guadalupe la VisitaciĆ³n y Rodeo Viejo which also included San Bruno Mountain, the Visitacion Valley district of San Francisco and Bayview district in Daly City, Brisbane was originally platted in 1908 with the name of Visitation City.

Seven Mile House - turn of century
Built in 1853 - Sports Bar and Grill today
The hope was to draw those who had been displaced by the earthquake to the area which was easily accessible by the Southern Pacific Railway line that ran just east of the site.  Originally the railroad planned extensive terminal facilities just north of town, with plans to employ over 1000 workers.  The panic of 1907 delayed those plans and the relatively high cost of the platted lots contributed to the very slow growth of the area.

In the 1920s Arthur Annis, stating that the name Visitacion City a handicap as it lay too close to the San Francisco district of the same name, proposed the name Brisbane instead. Conflicting stories state the name came from the port city of Brisbane, Queensland (Annis' daughter's version) or from newspaper columnist Arthur Brisbane who had a home in the area.

The railroad yard was finally built during World War I but it wasn't until 1929 that the area began to grow.  Annis sold lots during the depression by offering payments as low as $16 a month. By 1933 there were more than 400 homes.  Soon the area had a Fire Department, a resident physician, churches and numerous civic and social organizations.

Brisbane was incorporated in 1961.  In 2010 the population of the thriving community was 4282.

Brisbane is known as the City of Stars because of a holiday tradition established over half a century ago. At the start of the Christmas/Hanukkah season, many residents and business owners place large (3'-8') illuminated stars, on the downhill sides of homes and offices throughout the city. The Chamber of Commerce has been active in enabling the stars to be given out free of charge to both businesses and residents since it's inception in 1944.

For More Information see:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

George E Wentworth

Circa 1850
Florence Photographic Gallery
28 3rd St. SF

Among the earliest settlers in San Mateo County we find George E. Wentworth.  Born on 5 Nov 1830 in Laconia NH,  the second son of to John Tuttle Wentworth and Susannah C. Pitman. This influential New Hampshire family, included royal governors and statesmen from before revolutionary times, having arrived in the colonies about 1636. One relative was a signer of the Articles of Confederation and George's Great Grandfather was a selectman, and served in defense of West point during the war. His father had a farm in Belknap county. (1) 

GEW Circa 1860 
George travelled to California at the age of 19 to work as a cattle herder for Miller and LuxHe had settled in San Mateo County by 1856 when he is listed as juror.(2) He worked in the stock raising business on the Dennis Martin Ranch before moving on to butchering for JQA Tilton and then John Hancock in Redwood city.  He can be found in a variety of early land transactions in the county. (3) 

In the early 1860s he purchased interest in the Pioneer Livery stables which were located at the corner of Main and Phelps St. (Middlefield Rd). (4) 

On 24 Jul 1869 George  defeated J. Crowley and RG Sneath in a special election for the office of Supervisor to fill the unexpired term of SH Snyder.  On 1 Sep 1869 he was elected Supervisor from Woodside. (5)

The Illustrated History of San Mateo County
Moore and DePue - 1878
By 1875 he was concentrating on farming and running his tannery, Wentworth & Co., one of three in Redwood City.  According to The Illustrated History of San Mateo County (6) the tannery employed 35 men in 1878. (7)

The Wentworth farm was located about a mile from the current El Camino on the North side of the current Woodside Rd, the area now known as Woodside Plaza. 

Besides serving as a supervisor he was active in the Redwood City Fire dept.  In 1868 he donated the land for the first fire house. (8)  He also served as the first treasurer for the dept, remaining in that position for a number of years.

George died on 27 Jul 1888 in Redwood City. (9)  Among the tributes to his life we find the following which was published in the Times Gazette the next day: 

WHEREAS, Our esteemed comrade, George Wentworth, who had been for years connected with the interests of the Fire Company of this town, and also a charter member of this organization, has passed over the river of time, to join the silent company beyond, and WHEREAS, by his congeniality during life he had endeared himself to all who knew him, and particularly to the little band of Exempt Firemen. Be it

RESOLVED, That by his departure his wife has lost a pleasant and agreeable companion, his family a loving father, the community an active, upright citizen, and this association a congenial comrade.

RESOLVED, That the Exempt Firemen unite in extending to the bereaved wife and family their sympathies and condolences in this, their hour of gloom and despair, and in hoping that the clouds which now shadow them may be dispelled, and the bright sunshine again illuminate their journey through life.

RESOLVED, that these resolutions be engrossed in full on the mission of this association, and a copy be presented to the bereaved family.


J. CHRIST(Marshal), 
J. TURNER, Committee

Sarah Teague Wentworth
circa 1880

Frank Pitman Wentworth
circa 1872
On 23 Apr 1864 George married Sarah Ann Teague (1844-1924) the daughter of Andrew Teague and Permelia Morgan. (10) They had two sons.

Charles Oscar Wentworth
circa 1872

Charles Oscar Wentworth (1865 - 1909) 
 Frank Pitman Wentworth (1867 - 1960) 


George, Sarah and Charles are buried in Union Cemetery in Redwood City.  George's inscription reads: George E Wentworth aged 57 yrs 8 mons & 22 days Native of NH (11)



  1.  Joe Wentworth provided much of the material for this blog posting.
  2.  San Mateo County Court 1856-1871 Minutes p 9 
  3. SMC Land Records Index
    1. Wentworth George 2 Feb 1857 Mort1 262 mortgagor Redwood City  
    2. Wentworth George 10 Jun 1862 D3 303 thru 304 grantee Rancho de las Pulgas
    3. Wentworth George 18 Oct 1862 Mort2 81 thru 82 mortgagee San Gregorio Rancho
    4. Wentworth George 13 Dec 1862 D3 550 grantor Mezesville [RWC]
    5. Wentworth George 19 Jun 1863 D3 549 grantee Mezesville [RWC}
    6. Wentworth George 22 Dec 1863 D4 135 Grantee Redwood City
    7. Wentworth George 23 Jan 1863 Mort2 130 thru 131 mortgagee Mezesville - Redwood City
    8. Wentworth George 16-Aug-1864 D4 328 thru 329 Grantor Vicinity of Union Cemetery 
    9. Wentworth George 10-Apr-1877 P1 581 19-Apr-1877 patent from state of California
    10. Wentworth Geo. 13-Aug-1884 P2 202 20-Sep-1884 patent from state of California
  4.  Richard Schellen's Collection: George 1861 livery stables 1-5 pp 316,320,322-323,327-328
  5.  RSC: 1870 Supervisor 2-39.1 p.46
  6. Moore & DePue's Illustrated History of San Mateo County, California, G.T. Brown & Company, 1878
  7. RSC: 1878 tannery 1-9.1 pp.49,53-55,57-61,63-64,82-83, 86,89,92,112; 1874 Directory Listing 1-17.1 p3 1874; RWC Business 1-30 p168 1873; Assessment book 1-37.2 p63
  8. RSC: 1868 land to Fire Department 1-31.1 pp.18,9  Besides the listings here you will find many other listings in the index to The Richard Schellen's Collection of California Materials for George and his family members.  The Collection is available in the SMCGS Library and the RWC Main library history room.
  9. Find A Grave Maintained by Joe Wentworth - this site is well linked to burials for parents, siblings, children and grandchildren for both George and Sarah.  You can contact Joe by leaving a message on this page.  There are also additional obituaries for George.
  10. San Mateo Times Gazette Index - Teague, Sarah Ann 23 Sep 1864 m. 20-Sep George Wentworth 
  11. Photos by Cath Trindle

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

SMCGS Databases Online: Marriage Index 1853-1948

One of the earliest projects undertaken by SMCGS was an index of marriages through the year 1900. A few years ago we decided to create a database from that original index, add some details and perhaps add a few years.

Russ Brabec, Barry Goyette, Jo Rebuck, Walter Castor, Norma Sheehan, George Zinckgraf and Cath Trindle worked on the project adding residence, and adding the years 1901 through 1948.  This was no lightweight project, it took a few years.  The cutoff date coincided with the beginning of the statewide index of marriages which is available on microfilm and on various genealogical websites.

FamilySearch subsequently scanned some of the Marriage License Applications for San Mateo county.  This is not the same record set, but used in conjunction with the index above you might be able to find the record by date.  San Mateo County Records on FamilySearch.

Records can be obtained from the San Mateo County Recorder's Office.

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Daly City Cemeteries

by Russell Brabec 

Everyone has heard of the multitude of cemeteries in Colma, but adjacent Daly City has four active cemeteries, one inactive cemetery and one cemetery that was never developed.  The lands for these
Russian Sectarian Cemetery
properties were acquired from the descendants of two Irish-American families, Bridget and Patrick Morgan Brooks and Elizabeth and Owen McMahon.
  These two pioneer families held land comprising today of southern Colma, northern South San Francisco and southern Daly City.

During the last decade of the nineteenth century, as civilization marched westward through the Western Addition and the new district known as the Richmond, the “City Cemetery” and others became a target for closure by residents and developers.  Situated above Lands End, the former cemetery is now occupied by the Veterans Administration, the Palace of Legion of Honor and Lincoln Park and its golf course.  The cemetery was home to a number of ethnic groups and organizations along with a section for paupers.

The Chinese Cemetery bounded by Arguello, California, Euclid and Palm (or Jordan) Streets was also affected.  The Ning Yung Company had on its books fully one-half of all Chinese in the United States.

The closing date for burials of 01 March 1898 was extended to 01 April 1898 to provide time to locate property elsewhere for burials in San Mateo County.  The undertakers feared a backlog of burials on the horizon and immense disposal problems.  The Hagan brothers started acquiring lots in a block in the Abbey Homestead across from Cypress Lawn Cemetery (Sunset Cemetery) on the east side of Hillside Boulevard to be used for paupers.  The Serbian, Jewish and others followed to Colma.

The Chinese, victims of discrimination, had no such opportunity in the Colma cemetery area.  Ellen Maria McMahon Barry, daughter of pioneers Elizabeth and Owen McMahon, sold 40.17 acres on 21 February 1898, for a Chinese Cemetery for an undisclosed amount of money.  This cemetery, now slightly reshaped to 32.326 acres by the development of Serramonte in Daly City, lies at the intersection of Hickey Boulevard and Callan Boulevard.

Pioneer Patrick Morgan Brooks, former County Supervisor, sold 5 acres of land for $2,500 on 25 March 1898, to the Ning Yung Benevolent Cemetery Association including his authorization for establishing a cemetery.  The Ning Yung Benevolent Cemetery Association acquired its 5-acre northern section from J. A. Christen on 18 June 1948, for and undisclosed amount of money.

The San Francisco Call stated “none will be interred but those belonging to that [Ning Yung] society, while other cemetery members will find a temporary resting place until their bones are removed for transportation to the home of their forefathers.

       “… The Superintendent of the City Cemetery charged them [Chinese] $2.50 for the opening of every grave against $1.00 to all others who had a grave opened within the enclosure.  The distance of       fifteen miles [to the new cemetery], however, is a matter that annoys them somewhat, as it will cost more to convey the bodies and the funeral eatables for the defunct on his long journey to the land of the rising sun.

       “Each cemetery will have a white man for superintendent, as the Chinese do not favor grave digging.

       “The rest of the article notes the prejudice against the Chinese; the two-tiered rate structure                     against the Chinese [noted below] and the grave contractors’ financial and contractual                         responsibility to bury the dead even though the cemetery has closed.” 

Patrick followed this by selling two acres to the Chinese Christian Cemetery Association on 26 July 1898 for $1,000; sold two acres to Edward Kelly on 09 Dec 1898, which is now know as Chong Seen Cemetery, and appears inactive, and his daughters sold 25 acres to the City and County of San Francisco on 07 February 1905, for $8,750 for a City Cemetery, which was never developed.  This land was on an extremely steep slope on the north side of what is now Hickey Boulevard.      It would have been a pauper’s cemetery, but it is now occupied by other uses.

The City, in turn, sold 3.35 acres to the Russian Sectarian Cemetery Association on 30 November 1932 for $3,350, and sold 4.9 acres to the Tung Sen Cemetery Association on 14 January 1937 for $4,900.

These five smaller cemeteries were annexed to the City of Daly City on 01 April 1974, so they could have a back up waters supply at in-city rates.

Read more Daly City Cemetery History 2015 Russ Brabec - History Guild of Daly City/ Colma and SMCGS