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

Monday, April 24, 2017

SMCGS Spring Seminar

Early Bird deadline is this Friday, April 28!

Please be sure to register for the SMCGS Spring Seminar by this Friday, April 28 in order to take advantage of advance pricing. Walk in Rates apply after April 28.

Not Your Usual Records with Amy Johnson Crow
Spring Seminar on Saturday, May 6, 2017, 9 am - 3 pm
Menlo Park LDS Church, 1105 Valparaiso Ave, Menlo Park
$45 Members, $50 Non-members, $55 Walk-Ins

Step off the beaten path with Amy and discover unexpected resources in these four one-hour sessions:
- Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker: Using Occupational Records
- After Mustering Out: Researching Civil War Vets
- Finding Ancestors before 1850
- Desperately Seeking Susan: Finding Females

Amy has a master's degree in Library Science, blogs regularly, and helps clients with research.

Book Sale
Thank you to all who have recently donated books from their collections. Some sample titles you will see at the Book Sale:
The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy edited by Szucs & Luebking
My Ancestor was an Apprentice by Raymond
Tracing Your Tank Ancestors by Tait & Fletcher
Army Records for Family Historians by Fowler

Silent Auction 
Here is a chance to try new software, or add to your current subscription while helping SMCGS raise funds to cover our expenses. We have for the auction:
Mini-consultations with Inge Harding-Barlow
Walk over to the Family History Library right next to the Seminar building.
Hours: 7:30 am - 1:00 pm
Note: The Family History Library will be open on May 6 until 4:00 pm.
Home-baked Cookies 
SMCGS bakers will be mixing up their usual hard-to-resist homemade cookies and bars.

Hope to see you there!

Warm regards,

Christine Green
Seminar Chair

Sharing Stories

Last call for stories!
Submissions close this Sunday, April 30
Please finish up and send us your stories!

Sharing Stories: 
A SMCGS event to encourage writing our stories 
for future generations

Join the fun and write a family history or local San Mateo County story.
Submit your story to SMCGS to be entered into a drawing for prizes, publication,
and/or reading aloud at a monthly meeting. Each entry receives a small gift.
For information on guidelines & formatting, and to submit a story, click here.
We look forward to receiving your stories!

At our monthly meeting on May 20, we will have drawings for prizes for all stories submitted, an extra drawing for those stories taking place in San Mateo County, and a small gift for all entries. We will round out the meeting with story readings and sharing a pot luck meal together.
We hope you get a story down on paper to share with your fellow genealogists, not to mention your own family!

Questions? Contact
Sharing Stories Readings and Lunch - May 20
More information on Sharing Stories can be found on our website at

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Barry's Bits

culled from the San Francisco Examiner by Barry Goyette 

Ah...The Problems of Wealth ....

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

San Mateo County Cemeteries: Japanese Cemetery

Lying directly across from Olivet Memorial Park is the small but very picturesque Japanese Cemetery. Established in 1900 by the Japanese Benevolent Society,  the burial grounds are open to Japanese people of all faiths.  The Japanese Benevolent Society of California was established in 1890 and over the years has met its mandate to assist those in need.  It has served as a unifying force for the Buddist, Shinto and Christian Japanese communities.
SF Chronicle Friday, July 10, 1936  pg 17

The cemetery was opened in June of 1901.   In 1906 the Meiji Emperor of Japan  gave a grant to the Benevolent Society "for the relief of sick, disabled or destitute persons of the Japanese race” in California and to provide “a suitable burial ground for deceased Japanese.” Bodies were moved from Laurel Hill Cemetery and Masonic Cemetery as the San Francisco movement to close cemeteries took effect.

More than 5000 burials have taken place since 1901.  Among the graceful and often majestic stones you will find a tower honoring the three crewmen from the Kanrin-Maru who on landing in 1860 brought the first Japanese embassy to the US, a monument to Ministers and Members of the Buddhist Churches of America, a War Memorial to unknown soldiers, and a monument to bodies moved from Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Japanese Cemetery
1301 Hillside Ave, Colma

Japanese Cemetery - FindAGrave - lists 155 burials
Japanese Benevolent Society-Jikeikai
Japanese Cemetery Annual Clean-up 
Praying for deceased souls in Colma Japanese Cemetery


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

SMCGS Databases: San Mateo Times Gazette Index 1859-1899

One of the early indexes published by SMCGS is the San Mateo Times Gazette Index 1859-1899 compiled by Mary Lou Grunigen.

There are two parts to this index, which was originally published in 1996 in book form.  The first part is an index to vital records (births, marriages, deaths, probates, etc.) for the first forty years of this early publication.

The second part is an every name index to the paper from 1859-1867.  Here you might find entries for tax lists, memberships to social institutions, crime reports and much more.

The printed publication, like all SMCGS publications has been digitized and is available for public search on the SMCGS website.

San Mateo County Times Gazette Index

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sharing Stories: Millie Lueck MacInnis, Salvation Army Captain

Hopefully, you are all busy composing stories for the SMCGS Sharing Stories contest. You have a month left to get those creative juices flowing. As you compose don't forget pictures, maps or graphics of any kind, they help grab the audiences attention.

Plan to attend the meeting and pot luck lunch, where we'll share some of the stories. There will gifts for all those who submitted stories and a drawing for prizes.

Here is a sample story as told by Carolyn Williams on

Millie Lueck MacInnis: Salvation Army Captain 

Captain Millie Lick in The Salvation Army
 c. 1890
“You are all arrested, come along,” declared Officer Pete Walsh of the Butte, Montana police force. In the midst of a heavy snowstorm, Captain Millie Lick (Luec)and her six fellow Salvation Army soldiers were taken down to the city’s barracks on charges that their marching and singing in the streets was disturbing the peace. As it turned out, the complaint was from the owners of dive bars who were afraid of losing their clientele to the nightly Salvation Army prayer meetings.
Leaving Germany – The Luecks were a small family of four who left the rural farming village of Stargard in what is now northeastern Germany. It was 1874 and Bremen shipping merchants were heavily advertising cheap passage to the US in order to fill their empty US-bound ships with emigrants so they could return with moneymaking US cotton and tobacco.
Peasants were motivated to emigrate as they were rapidly losing their land due to German unification as well as economic insecurity caused by an oncoming great depression triggered in 1873 after the close of the Franco-Prussian War.
Along with 150,000 other German emigrants in 1874, Friedrich and Wilhelmina, ages 34 and 32, and their two children Millie Pauline and Wilhelm, ages three and one, sailed to the USA where they could find good farm land and a better opportunity in life.
Arriving in Wisconsin – Wisconsin was a prime destination for German immigrants with many already having settled there during the emigration boom of the 1850s and it is likely that the Luecks had heard that Wisconsin welcomed farming families such as theirs.
They settled in Green County in southern Wisconsin and began farming and adding to their family, another four children over the next 10 years.
Millie Pauline – This is the story of the Lueck family’s first born, Millie Pauline, who arrived in Wisconsin from Germany when she was three, and grew up with the hard labor that is life on a farm.
Undoubtedly, Millie’s daily life included milking cows twice daily, feeding chickens, slopping pigs, helping with planting and harvesting, cooking, caring for her five younger siblings, and going to their local Lutheran church.
Threshing on the Lueck Farm
The Salvation Army – The Salvation Army was a new, Christian evangelical organization founded in England in 1865 “to bring salvation to the poor, destitute and hungry by meeting both their physical and spiritual needs.” By the late 1880s the organization had reached Wisconsin, and in 1888, at age 17, Millie Pauline joined the Salvation Army and left her family’s farm.
Lueck family c. 1888 when Millie (far left) left the farm
What lit a spark in Millie to leave the farm for an evangelical life did not come down in the family history story. But I can imagine a girl’s desire to see the world outside of a farm and cheese-making community in southern Wisconsin as well as her finding a passion for helping people.
Although she grew up being called “Pauline,” she began to use “Millie” as her first name, a derivative of her middle name “Emilie,” and “Lick” instead of “Lueck” as her last name when she left, perhaps crafting a new, more “American” identity.
Butte, Montana – Two years later Millie was now Captain Lick (Americanized “Lueck”) and in charge of a small band of Salvationists sent to make conversions among the rough crowd in the largest mining town in the world, Butte, Montana.
The first months were full of challenges. Most people, including both the good citizens of Butte and the miners, scoffed at the Salvationists as an offbeat religious group.
Their prayer meetings were crowded, but filled with “roughs” who harassed them with catcalls, jeering, breaking out in popular songs instead of hymns, and throwing stink bombs. Drunks broke up the meetings, and newspapers mocked and ridiculed them.
On a snowy February night in 1890, the Butte police arrested seven Salvationists including Millie on the charge of disturbing the peace as their band marched through the streets playing and singing hymns.
Fortunately, at the trial the following week, reason prevailed. The people of Butte opposed the evangelical methods of the Salvation Army, but they could not deny the good that they did and the right to do it. The case was dismissed.
The Salvationists continued their activities. Newspaper accounts report that Captain Lick and her loyal soldiers held nightly prayer meetings, visited jail houses, marched with their band (Millie played the guitar, see photo) through the streets singing hymns and inviting people to the meetings, and wove their way in and out of bars nightly selling the Salvation Army’s magazine, “The War Cry.”
Captain Lick, along with her two women lieutenants, had a motto: “Never Say Die.”
Captain Millie Lick and lieutenant
By the end of four months, their group had grown to 60 members, and one of them was Millie’s husband-to-be, G. Kenneth MacInnis, a rollicking Canadian Scottish miner who is thought to have disrupted a few meetings before he converted, or was “reclaimed” as he liked to put it.
Millie and Kenneth – The following year in 1892, Kenneth and Millie were married in Des Moines, Iowa, where The Salvation Army had its headquarters. Both Millie and Kenneth were soldier evangelists, and for Kenneth, it was the beginning of a lifelong career as a preacher. Millie was age 21 and Kenneth 27.
Several years later in 1895, Kenneth enrolled at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, for a seven-year journey to earn a bachelor’s degree in Classical Studies. In Millie’s obituary, it is stated that it was her encouragement that helped her husband complete his formal training.
To get through college, Millie and Kenneth ran a boarding house where they rented rooms and Millie cooked daily meals for 12 men. She also took two years of history and literature classes at Lawrence University and looked after their two children.
Before he graduated from Lawrence at age 37, Kenneth was ordained by the Methodist Episcopal Church and spent his life as a pastor and lecturer in Wisconsin.
Millie was an active member of the Methodist church and other societies throughout her life, including a term as the President of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in Evansville, Wisconsin.
As a child of immigrants, and an immigrant herself, my great grandmother Millie was said to be a hard and constant worker – in her husband’s words “No idle hours in your plan.” She died shortly before I was born, but I believe that she set in motion a legacy of valuing hard work, education, moral living, helping others and closeness in family life.
I grew up hearing that Millie said her life reflected the three German Ks: Kirche, Kinder and Kuche ‑ Church, Children and Kitchen. Although the three German Ks have been modified in subsequent generations as women have moved to work and professions outside the home, her immigrant values have remained core to our family.
Story submitted by Millie’s great granddaughter Carolyn Williams.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sharing Stories

Submissions are open March 15 – April 30

Join the fun and write a family history or local San Mateo County story.

Submit your story to SMCGS  

to be entered into a drawing for prizes,


and/or reading aloud at a monthly meeting. 

Each entry receives a small gift.

Submit your story to

Mark your Calendar
Sharing Stories Readings and Pot Luck Lunch
May 20
Watch the website for more information

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

San Mateo County Places: San Gregorio

EAST FRONT FROM SOUTHEAST - San Gregorio House, San Gregorio Road, San Gregorio, San Mateo County, CA

East Front From South East -  SAN GREGORIO HOUSE

  • Digital ID: (None) hhh 
  • Reproduction Number: HABS CAL,41-SAGR,1--1
  • Repository: LOC Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.  

In 1865 George Washington Tully Carter purchased five acres along the northern bank of San Gregorio Creek near the stage road.  Here he built San Gregorio House, a "summer resort for the citizens of San Francisco." (1)  Although Carter only lasted three years in what he considered a lonely place, by the 1870s the little town was thriving.  It had a school, a post office, a general store, a church, a blacksmith shop, a boot shop, a butcher shop, a Levy's store branch (1872) and of course a saloon. 

In 1875 the hotel was bought by John R Evans.  He preceded to add to the original building. Few changes have been made to the building which still stands today.   In 1888 the hotel was sold to the Palmers who ran it in partnership with Frank Bell, a native of the area.  Bell married the Palmer's daughter and the hotel remained open until 1930 when Mrs. Bell closed it, continuing to live on the premises.

Website for San Gregorio General Store 
In 1889 the current San Gregorio General Store building was added to the complex of buildings, which also had added another saloon and a Chinese laundry. The area was a major stop on the stage road down the coast from San Francisco.  A Chinese community grew up along the creek but eventually was washed away due to heavy rains. 

In 1915, the community was home to seven cheese factories.  
Report of the State Dairy Bureau 1915
Appendix to the Journals of the Senate & Assembly v5 p94

Residence of JB Harsha - Fairview Church in Background
Moore & DePue's Illustrated History of San Mateo County
GT Brown & Company 1878

Some Early Residents of San Gregorio & Vicinity 
Name, arrival, nativity, early holdings 1870 Census (holdings in 1877)

  • Salvadore Castro (1114)
  • Rodriguez 13344 15/100
  • Jacob Downing 1853 New York (500)
  • William S Downing 1854 Downing (600)
  • George F Keiffer 1854 Virginia 190 acres  
    • Joseph Keiffer (800)
  • William Rayner 1857 England 748 Acres (748)
  • George Watkins 1857 England
  • John Ralston 1858 Pennsylvania 1200 acres (1037)
    • William Ralston 1858 California
  • George William Morrell 1860 Canada 180 (50)
  • James W Bell 1860  Ireland  1140 acres
  • JB Harsha  1862 Ohio 750 Acres (350)
  • Alfred Fay 1863 New York 378 acres
  • James Quintin 1867 Pennsylvania 1300 acres (1300) 
  • Conrad Lautenschlager 1869 Germany 345 acres (450 24/100)
  • Rane Capen Merrill 1870 Maine 240 acres
  • Thomas Leary Baldwin  1873  - Maine
  • A Marsh 1875 New York
  • William Shields 1875 Ireland 262 acres
  • K R Evan 1875 England 60 acres
  • John Rayner (451)
  • Newell (748)
  • SM Culver (240)
  • Alex Gordon (925)
  • Alex Gordon (224)
  • Rachel Dale (224)
  • J C Richardson (150)
  • LJ Dale (187)
  • William Dale (187)
  • Mary & J Dale 392 46/100
  • Samuel W Preble 367 46/100
  • John H Osgood 403 69/100

  1.  San Gregorio House  An Enduring Heritage: Historic Buildings of the San Francisco Peninsula By Dorothy F. Regnery, Junior League of Palo Alto (Calif.), Historic American Buildings Survey
  2.  History of San GregorioThe Story of San Mateo County, California, By: Roy W. Cloud, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company. Chicago, Ill 1928

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

SMCGS Databases: Appeals From Justice Courts / Change of Venue

Record sets in the San Mateo Country Record Center range from hundreds of volumes to papers tucked into a single small drawer.  One of the small sets is Papers Concerning Appeals from Justice Courts and Change of Venue to San Mateo County Superior Court which is located in drawer 32 of cabinet RC5B1.

There are just 52 cases in the drawer, for many there are multiple documents. Cases range in date from 1882 to 1920. Among the cases we find the request to appoint a guardian for Soledad Sanchez as she is incompetent to handle her own affairs and the petitions of the neighbors of Mrs. Arnold who was living at 307 Knowles Street to declare her insane.

There are venue changes from as far away as Imperial County for a land sale.  Among the other venue changes include a bankruptcy in Napa and a misappropriation of monies case from San Francisco.

There is a variety of appeals from Justice Courts including the suit of H W Hickey against William Hatfield for lack of payment for labor.

Index to Drawer 32: Appeals from Justice Courts and Change of Venue to SMC Superior Court

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

San Mateo County Cemeteries: Harrington (Belmont)

Google Earth
Lat: 37°30'12"N, Long: 122°19'26

It was noted in the 1931 that this pioneer cemetery had not changed since the days of the early settlers.  A clump of oak trees stood guard over four graves which lay on a little knoll about four miles west of Belmont.  King's Mountain stood beyond the Spring Valley lakes obscuring the view of the Pacific Ocean.

FindAGrave lists 28 burials for Harrington Cemetery, however, the majority of those listed appear to be incorrect.  I have seen no documentation of any but the four burials listed below.  In fact most of the burials attached to this cemetery date long after the cemetery which was supposedly used only from 1855-1859 was defunct.

Fred Kemmerle's historical of the cemetery, which can be found on , provides a different and more likely to be accurate picture.  He visited the cemetery in 1966 and photographed and transcribed the tombstones.

He notes that the cemetery was established by William Harrington in the winter of 1855-1856.  At the time, measles had hit the community and several people had died.  He adds that the cemetery was used until 1859 and then abandoned. He goes on to share the allegation that Harrington had used a sled to bring the coffins up the hill during that rainy winter.

Photo by Margaret Melaney
Besides the four named burials several Native Americans who had worked for the Harrington family were purportedly buried there, with the burials marked by wooden tombstones that had long disappeared.
Denny Lawhern of Belmont HS
with stones from Harrington Cemetery
Photo by Margaret Melaney

In the 1970s the stones were removed from the site, due to vandalism.

They are currently located in the Belmont Historical Society Museum.

Known Burials
Elizabeth Finch 19 Feb 1821 - 24 Apr 1855
Francis M. Meredith d. 7 Jan 1856 age 22
Richard A Harrington d. 10 Jan 1856 age 7 m 21 d
Eliza S Kinneson d. 9 Sep 1858 age 18 y 17d

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Early Families: Northern County Families, cont.

Russ Brabec has contributed another installment of  Early Settlers of Northern San Mateo County.  This collection now includes 45 biographical treatises and Russ says there is one more coming.  Compiled from San Mateo County Records, old newspapers, maps, pictures and more, each of these papers provides an in depth look at one of the early families in the northernmost part of the county.

Even if your family is not one of those covered, they provide a picture of the northern area of the county in the early years.

The new biographies include.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sharing Stories: Writer's Workshop

Do you need inspiration to write a story for the SMCGS's Sharing Stories? Come join us for a Writer's Workshop with Elliot Margolies of the MidPen Media Center.

Elliot is the Director of the online archive of US immigration stories. He does a wonderful workshop that will get your ideas flowing and help you to find the hooks and best story ideas that will draw in your readers.

When: February 9, 2:30-4 pm
Where: SMCGS Library at Canada College

Can't make the workshop? Visit the website and read some of the stories you'll find there for inspiration.

Be sure to add the SMCGS May potluck meeting to your calendar. All those that submitted a story and are in attendance will receive a small gift. Names will be drawn for cash prizes, and many story contributors will be asked to share their stories with the audience.

When: May 20, 10:30-1:00
Watch the website, facebook page and blog for further details

Contest Details

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

SMCGS Databases Online: Coroner's Records II

The long-term project to index SMC Coroner's Records has been completed.  The majority of the 40.000+ files were indexed by Russ Brabec.  The index goes through the year 1984.  An earlier post on this blog, SMCGS Databases Online: Coroner's Records, discusses the index and the digital images that are available on FamilySearch.

Coroner's records can be full of interesting  information.  Take the case of James Malaney, who was found outside some 60 yards from his cabin by John Anderson.  John originally saw him and thought he was sleeping but on passing him again 2 1/2 hours later checked him and realized he was dead.

It turns out that James had received some money.  As was his custom, according to witnesses, he went on a drinking binge.  The binge had lasted between 8 and 10 days.

A jury was sworn, heard the evidence and on 14 Mar 1881 found that James Malaney, age about 58, nativity unknown but thought thought to have resided in  Wisconsin previously, had died of exposure and exhaustion.

Some files are much longer than this five page file.  You will find natural deaths, train accidents, drownings, murders, suicides and much more.

Index to San Mateo County Coroner's Records 1856-1984

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Barry's Bits

culled from the San Francisco Examiner by Barry Goyette 

Politics as usual

But let's not 
worry too much

SMCGS Obit: Maxine Driscoll

SMCGS member and long time Daly City resident, Maxine Driscoll, died 23 Nov 2016 surrounded by family members.   Maxine Claire Books was born 11 Sep 1929 in Modesto, CA, the second of three daughters of Olive Crist and Samuel Books.  She was a librarian, employed by the San Francisco School District for 46 years.  

Maxine was married for over 50 years to Raymond Finnbarr Driscoll (1923-2004). They had three children, twins Teresa and Joan and Raymond Edward.

A member of SMCGS since Sep 2001, Maxine was known by many. Her friendly face will be missed by all.  

Maxine, who had been in poor health for some time, was cremated.  At her request there was no memorial.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sharing Stories

We Invite You to Write a Story


Sharing Stories

Join the fun and write a family history or local San Mateo County story.
Submit your story to SMCGS to be entered into a drawing for prizes; and/or for publication, or reading aloud at a monthly meeting. Each entry receives a small gift. 



February 9, 2:30-4 pm - Writing Workshop with Elliot Margolies
March 15 - Submissions OPEN, watch for announcements
April 30 - Submissions DEADLINE
May 20, 10:30 am-1 pm - Event! Story readings, prizes drawn, gifts given,
family storyteller speaker, & POTLUCK LUNCH



All entries receive a small gift on day of the event, May 20
All entries entered into the Sharing Stories drawing for three $25 cash prizes
• Additional drawing for entries about or which take place in San Mateo County for three SMCGS tote bag prizes



• Open to all SMCGS members & non-members
• Non-fiction family or San Mateo Co. stories
• 1,000 words or less
• Up to three entries per person
• Sample story topics: A person, family, incident, birth/marriage/death, immigration, place (house, business, church, etc.)
• Photos, maps or other graphics encouraged
• Online submissions only via website
• Writers must agree to have their stories printed in the SMCGS newsletter, blog, or Facebook page
• Questions? Contact


Sharing Stories