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

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

San Mateo County Places - West Union

West Union Creek is a 4.5-mile-long stream originating on the east slope of Kings Mountain  and flowing down to the valley formed by the San Andreas Rift where it turns near the Phleger Estate to flow southeasterly on an unusually level course (for a mountain stream) to Adobe Corner in the town of Woodside where it joins Bear Gulch Creek, which in turn flows to San Francisquito Creek and ultimately, San Francisco Bay. (Description from National Park Service)

The origin of the name "West Union Creek" is attributed to Willard Whipple who named it "Union Creek".  He established two mills along the creek that he intended to call East Union and West Union. Those designations did not take, the mills being called instead  Whipple's Upper and Whipple's Lower Mill.  The upper mill was more widely known and the area around it was soon designated West Union. The Upper Mill was located in a direct line from today's Whipple Road.

Golden Gate National Parks Trail Map - Phleger Estate
Showing Whipple's Upper Mill just north of Phleger Estate

San Mateo County Times Gazette reported on 7 Mar 1885  "A little village of about a dozen houses was formed on the banks of the headwaters of San Francisquito Creek. This little burg, taking its name from that part of the county in which it existed, was called West Union. Its inhabitants, of which there were few, consisted mainly of the millhands in the surrounding hills. Close by, cosily nestled in the woods, was the village burial ground, composed of about a half dozen graves of the victims of accidents in the woods and others.  ........The village has entirely disappeared and in the place of the adjoining graveyard can now be seen broad acres of farm land."

The San Mateo County Times Gazette reported on 11 Dec 1886 that ..... 

"Years ago a little cemetery was located at West Union some fives miles north of Woodside...Only one body has been removed from the cemetery...Alexander MacDonald...The land has come into possession of some Italians who desire to use the property as part of a vineyard." 

Alden Tagg in his Norcal-L  posting 10 Oct 1997 states "The cemetery I have a hunch was west of Canada Road, perhaps a bit south of the school site."  (see San Mateo County Places: West Union

West Union School circa 1910
A school was established in the area.  In a post to Norcal-L on 10 Oct 1997 Alden Tagg notes "... the USGS/GNI does not show a West Union, however the Woodside 7.5 quadrangle does.  I guess no one's perfect. West Union Creek runs about 1/2 mile west of Canada Road andcomes down from the hills running NE then turns SE to run into Bear Gulch Creek south of Woodside Road. The West Union School was NNE of where the WU Creek bends from NE to SE, about 1/2 mile south of Edgewood Road a bit east of Canada Road. Hwy 280 runs through the old school property."

There were 72 students when the San Mateo County Gazette reported on 22 Oct 1859 ......

MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE – On the first day of July last, J.H. Pratt, Esq., who had been for some time engaged as teacher of the school at West Union, in this county, drew from the county treasury, one hundred and sixty two dollars, and two days afterwards started for San Francisco, since which time he has not been heard from. He was to have been absent but a few days, and was to have reopened his school after a short vacation. Mr. Pratt was temperate and regular in his habits, and his long-continued absence has created considerable uneasiness on the part of his friends. Fears are entertained that he has met with foul play. All his clothing and effects were left as usual – he having taken nothing with him except the clothing he wore at the time, and his money. He had recently purchased some land in Petaluma, and went to San Francisco to make a payment on it. We had a conversation with him just before he left, in which he stated that he should be absent but a few days, that he expected his wife out soon from the East, and intended to make this county his home. We do not know what State he came from. He was recently admitted to the bar in the District Court of this county, upon a certificate from the Supreme Court of Ohio. He was a rather short, thick-set man, sandy complexion, slightly bald, and about thirty-five years of age.

In Nov 1860 the school house was the site of county elections with  George F. Maynard serving as Inspector and  Robt. Greer and James Berry as Judges.  San Mateo County Gazette 6 Oct 1860

A petition dated 4 Nov 1861 stated, " The West Union (School) District shall be founded as follows, to wit; Commencing at the SE corner of the Wolf Ranch; thence West along the south lines of the lands of M Wolf and John Claffey to the point nearest the center of Sec 30 T 5 S R4W; thence to NE corner of the NQ quarter of Sec 9 T6 S R5W; thence East to the SW corner of the Home Farm; thence along the West line to the NW corner of said farm; thence to the SE corner of the Wolf Ranch. taking in Williams and Danl Ross to the old Watter Mill and to the Ride of the Mountain"

Signing the petition were: Robert Greer, OS Payne, Thomas Knights, Samuel Walker, Sylvester Waker
SH Snyder, M Erickson, Ales Little, Michael G Kelly, Jeremiah Conroy?, James Duffy, Edward Donnelly, Andrew McCormac, John Hanley, John S Richards, Michael McLaughlin, John Regan, Benjamin Ross, Michael Surrill ?, John Butte (Burke), Alex Stott, A S Bonen, Charles Hill

By 1920 only three students remained in the district and Superintendent Roy Cloud requested a temporary suspension.

Among those born in West Union was James V. Swift. Antone Scada and  Amada Valdes are listed in James Crowe's Death book as dying there and John Tomalis is listed in the Early Death Records.

West Union Creek Bridge
Sawmills in the Redwoods: Logging on the San Francisco Peninsula 1849-1967 Frank Stanger
The Town of West Union - John Edmunds

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

James Vincent Swift

"James Vincent Swift, postmaster of Redwood City and editor and proprietor of the Redwood City Democrat, is one of the county's best known and respected citizens. Born in January 1862 at West Union, a few miles from Redwood, Mr. Swift has lived and wrought his career in San Mateo County.
After receiving his early education in the Redwood schools Mr. Swift entered the printing office of the Times-Gazette at the early age of seventeen. He soon mastered the mechanical and editorial ends of the paper and in 1898 he had advanced  sufficiently to buy a half interest in the Democrat. In 1902 this paper became his sole property and has so remained. Mr. Swift has succeeded well in his ambition to make his paper one of the most progressive and enterprising in the county; and no move for civic betterment or the public good has failed to find a staunch supporter in Mr. Swift and his paper.
Mr. Swift's deep interest in Redwood's progress has caused him to serve four terms as city assessor, three terms as city trustee and five terms as trustee of the Redwood school district. Although San Mateo was recognized as a strong republican county, Mr. Swift has worked untiringly and fearlessly for the democratic party. As a fitting tribute to his party loyalty came Mr. Swift's appointment as postmaster this year. No appointment to public office ever received more genuine approval.
Mr. Swift has been married and has a son, Arthur and a daughter Eileen (Mrs. J.J. McCormick). Arthur is head of the mechanical department of the Democrat, the editorial being in charge of Mr. James Hedge, since Mr. Swift took over the duties of postmaster. Mr. Swift belongs to the Native Sons, and the Eagles." Biographies of Representative Men p 181-119,  History of San Mateo County, California: Including Its Geography, Topography, Climatography and Description, IC Steele  

 Sunday, February 21, 1915 

San Francisco Chronicle p.14

He bought the Democrat with W.L. Davis in 1898.  The partnership dissolved in Mar. 1903. 

This is a partial reconstruction of the family using census records and entries in SMCGS indexes.
Miles (Myles) Swift bn @ 1827 Ireland d. 1880-1900  m. Mary @1830 Ireland -1906
1. Elizabeth M. (Lizzie)   1858 SM - aft 1933 - unmarried in 1900
2. William J.   Jan 1860 - 1887
3. James Victor 1862 West Union - 1933   m. Emma Haferkorn 1 Jan 1885 Menlo Park
  1. Arthur  15 Mar 1885 - 7 Mar 1965 married Josephine Nicholas who died in 1927
  2. Eileen --- Swift, girl 27 Nov 1886 b. 23-Nov J. V. Swift - Times Gazette  m. J.J. McCormick
4. Morris A (Maurice)  1864 - 1914 m. Emma Derry -  living in Twp 3 in 1910
  1. William
  2. George 
  3. Leland V. 22 Jun 1898 - 2 Aug 1968 SM
  4. Olivia 6 Feb 1903 - 13 Apr 1987 Sacramento m Peter Christian Zinsli
  5. Mary Catherine (May) 29 Apr 1902 - 16 Dec 1994 SM  m1 Arthur L. Bowman m2 Wootten
  6. Maurice August 1905  m. Louise Alfreda Slater    
5. Rosa E.   1864 - 1933 unmarried  

By 1870 the family had moved to Redwood City.

Read more:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

San Mateo County Records: Estray Notices

Estray, in law, is any domestic animal found wandering at large or lost, particularly if the owner is unknown.

The Estray Act of 27 Mar 1897 provided that anyone that found any estray or domestic animal upon his property or on the roadway adjacent to his property may take the animal into possession and have a statutory lien on the animal for all the expenses incurred for its care.

The person who is holding the estray must file a notice with the Department of Agriculture within 5 days of impounding it.

An authorized inspector could take possession of the animal.  The inspector must try to find the owner and turn the animal over in exchange for the handling expenses.  If the owner did not come forward within 14 days the animal could be sold with the net proceeds (after paying the expenses) going to the Dept of Agriculture.  The owner could claim the net proceeds within a year.

Some of the Estray Notices filed in San Mateo County can be found in various drawers in the County Record Depository.  Here is an index of those found to date.

Dr Date Found by Where Description
5 1910 Barron, Andrew S Owl Dairy - Beresford 2nd township 4 calves
5 1907 Conti Bros. Colma one mare, 2 yr old colt, 6 m old colt held for damages to yard
5 1909 Corey & Rease Pebble Beach Hotel Pescadero 1 sow 2 barrow black
5 1909 Cramer, Charles Belle Air Park San Bruno Roan Colt
5 1902 Dotta, Louis Ranch north of Pescadero 2 year old heifer
5 1910 Emhoff, Frank Ranch Pescadero dark bob tailcow
5 1905 Enos, Manuel South San Francisco 2 wk calf
5 1898 Gillogley, Peter San Pedro bay mare about 8
5 1903 Greene, B S Colma bay mare  
5 1903 Griffin, M S Colma in potato field 3 heifers 
5 1897 Hall, Asa San Carlos bay colt
5 1904 Marceau, F Lake San Andreas sorrel colt
5 1908 Picaso, Andrew Ranch Pescadero Bull and Heifer
5 1902 Regley, CP Twelve Mile House  black horse about 8
5 1897 Silva C Ranch near San Bruno on mission road red milch cow
5 1896 Wilber A appraisal of lost property - Bicycle
61 1918 Holberton, George NW Side of Whipple 1 mile from RC 55284A and 55325- 43 Holstein
61 1940 SF Union Stock Yards 81441 

Learn more about Estray laws:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

San Mateo County Cemeteries: Hills of Eternity

In Judaism death is viewed as a natural part of life. 

In 1850 the Congregation Sherith Israel established a cemetery in the area now known as Pacific Heights (Vallejo St. between Gough and Franklin) in accordance with the two basic principals that are part of the natural life cycle: k’vod ha-mayat — the dignified and respectful treatment of the dead — andk’vod he-chai — the honored treatment of the mourners.

Ten years later they dedicated a second cemetery the area that is now Dolores Park.  On 22 Jan 1867 the San Francisco Bulletin (V.XXIII I.89 P. 3) reported the incorporation of the Hills of Eternity Cemetery Association.....  

Twenty one years later, on 30 Nov 1888 the Bulletin (V.LXVII I.47 P. 3) reported the opening of a new cemetery in San Mateo County..

Click here to read entire article

Hills of Eternity Memorial Park (Giboth Olam ) consists of twenty acres of  the foot of the San Bruno Mountains.  Endowed care helps keep the landscaping throughout the cemetery.  In addition to in ground burials, the Portals of Eternity Mausoleum, which was designed in neo-Byzantine style by Samuel Hyman and Abraham Appleton in the early 1930s, and the Gardens of Eternity Mausoleums offer above ground burial and niches for cremains. 

Hills of Eternity has designated sections for several Bay Area synagogues including: Congregation Beth Am, Congregation Beth Jacob, Congregation Kol Emeth, Congregation Or Shalom, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, and Peninsula Sinai Congregation.

Three of the four Jewish Cemeteries in Colma, Home of Peace, Hills of Eternity, and Salem Memorial Park, share staff and record-keeping.  Contact the office for help in locating burials within the cemetery.

1301 El Camino Real
Colma CA 94014
(650) 755-4700
Hours   8:30 to 4:00, Sunday through Friday.

For more information:

Congregation Sherith Israel
FindAGrave 13032 Burials listed 80% photographed
Cemetery Travel: Week #116
Roni & Jerry's Genealogy - Portals of Eternity shows a map for the mausoleum as well as some pictures inside and out.
American Jewish Archives - Congregation Sherith Israel - San Francisco 1866-1900
International Jewish Cemeteries Project