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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Labor in the Cemetery

San  Francisco Call - 13 Oct 1892
CDNC Collections

In 1892 over 80 men with the Granite-cutters Union went on strike demanding 50 cents and hour and 8 hour days.

San Francisco Call 4 Apr 1903
CDNC Collection

In April 1903 it was reported differences settled between the Cemetery Workers Union and several had been San Mateo County Cemeteries.

SF Chronicle 4 Jun 1903 p39
However, it appears that the agreements did not go without a hitch, two months later it was reported that a Boycott against Cypress Lawn had been called off  after arbitration by Mayor Schmitz.  The 23 men who had gone on strike were to be reemployed and the 8 non-union scabs would all be let go within 2 weeks.


CGS announces a seminar with Judy G Russell, The Legal Genealogist on 23 Sep 2017 in Berkeley.
Take advantage of Early Bird Registration and learn more about the days program


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

SMCGS Sharing Stories 2017

San Mateo County Pioneers

by Laurie Coulter

My grandparents, Fritz and Louisa Meyer were part of the early growth and development of San Mateo County, in California. They were not part of the wealthy Floods, Menzes, Crockers or Stanfords, but they did play a part in the economic and social growth of the county south of the big City of San Francisico.
Annie, Carl and Freida Meyer and Arthur Wolfe
In the late 1880's San Mateo County was starting to find its own identity other than a country home for the wealthy. Towns which had grown up around stagecoach stops began to flourish. Redwood City less than 30 miles south of San Francisco, had a port. The port on the San Francisco Bay gave access for the redwood cut in the coastal hills to be milled and shipped north to San Francisco and east to the delta and the gold country. Most roads were dirt and horse and wagon were the main source of local transportation.
Fritz and Louise settled in a village called Woodside nestled beneath the coastal hills, about two miles west of Redwood City. They had both traveled a long way to get there. Their families were part of the wave of German immigrants who came to the USA in the mid to late 1800's. They came with their families and extended families many of whom settled in German communities in the midwest. Fritz was born in 1850 and named Fredrick in the farming town of Oiste, Germany, about 70 miles northwest of Hanover. At the age of eighteen he had been in the United States at least five years, because he applied for American citizenship in Mason County Indiana in the year of 1868.  Two years later he is living with relatives in Alameda County, California working as a farm worker. Seven years later he marries Louisa Bolte, born in 1854 also in Oiste, Germany on August 24,1877. Three years after that they have settled in Woodside on the western side of the San Francisco Bay, with two children, Margaret age two years and Henry, age six months.
The Meyers managed to buy a bit of land and build a house. They raised vegetables and chickens. Fritz was hired to work for the county watering the dirt roads, particularly the logging road that carried the lumber to the port of Redwood City. That road, Woodside Road is a major arterial road to the present day. Louisa was busy raising their family. They had nine children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. They were in addition to Margaret and Henry: Louise, b 1881; Augusta, b1883; Freida, b 1885; Anna, b 1887; Matilda, b 1889; Carl, b 1891; and Hazel b 1895. Both Augusta and Matilda died a month after birth.
Farmhouse and Barn with Freida and her future husband Arthur,
Hazel, Carl & Henry (hat).
Henry never married, and was a gardener at the developing Leland Stanford Jr. University, Lou and Margaret worked as housekeepers for the affluent in San Francisco until the 1906 earthquake, when they were brought home, never to work outside the home again. Margaret , Annie and Frieda married and raised their famlies in the area. Carl, my dad, grew up and left home to live in the industrial city of South San Francisco. He worked in the booming meat industry, in the stockyards, slaughterhouses and eventually as a plant manager. Lou and Hazel never married. They lived in the family farmhouse until 1957 when it was sold to support them.

Meyer Gravesite, Union Cemetery, RWC aft. 1903
Fritz died in 1900 as a result of an accident. He was watering the county road and got kicked in the head by his horse.  He was only 50 years old. There is an obituary and a small newspaper article about the accident in the local paper. Louisa died in 1903 of influx of the bowels after a brief illness. Both are buried in the historic Union Cemetery on Woodside Road in Redwood City, CA. along with three of their children, the babies, Augusta and Matilda and son Henry. The rest of the family for the most part, is buried in Colma, CA at Cypress Lawn Cemetery.

Fritz and Louisa were pioneers. They were ordinary people who contributed to the growth and viability of San Mateo County. They will not be found in the history books but they had to be tenacious and kind to have raised a wonderful family. I am still in touch with several cousins because of the value that our parents taught us about the importance of families sticking together.
There is a small obituary for my grandmother Louisa that states that she was a "devoted mother, a true Christian woman and good neighbor and admired for her many womanly virtues." It also states that she was "well known and liked by all." She died at age 48 years leaving five adult children and two young ones, my dad Carl and his sister Hazel. They were raised by their older siblings and it seems Louisa's values of hard work and kindness were passed on to them. Values I got from my dad were about the importance of family, hospitality, never turning anyone away who needs help and doing acts of kindness without any notice to oneself.  4 Jun 2015
Searsville Lake - when it opened for water and Recreation abt. 1893
Annie, Louisa holding Carl, Freida, Fritz, Margaret, Lou, & Henry Meyer
(Hazel wasn't born yet)
Laurie Coulter has been a member of SMCGS for 8 years. She was born in San Francisco but raised in San Mateo and has lived on the peninsula ever since. Her Dad was born in Woodside in the 1890s where the family had a farmhouse until the 1950s.  She is actively working on her First Families Application.  Laurie started taking classes from Gayle Simon and says "My classes led me to writing stories about my family as a way of sharing the family history which is so much more than a pedigree chart. Since I had no elders to ask, I decided that my own memories and those of my sister and cousins will have to do. I use research for gaps, but I inherited a lot of documents and photos which gain meaning and context in the stories. For now my focus remains on what we know collaboratively  and what I can verify."
© 2017 Laurie Coulter - Please contact SMCGS  for permissions.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

SMCGS Databases: Professional Registers

In 2006 SMCGS published the Index to the Professional Registers in book format.  The index which includes entries from six volumes found in the SMC Record Center is now among those that can be found in pdf format on the SMCGS website.

The volumes that are included are:
  •  Register of Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Pharmacists, Dentists and Dental Hygienists (Nov 26, 1923‐1952)  Affidavit forms in this volume contain the following information for the applicant: name, age, office address, date and number of license, nationality.  You will also find the signatures of president and secretary of governing board of his profession, of applicant and of county clerk.  Some records are duplicates of those actually created earlier and lost in the 1906 earthquake. This Volume is indexed in the front. It is then divided into sections according to the type of certificate: 
    • Chiropractic Pages 1‐98 (61‐98 are blank); Chiropodist Pages 99‐101A
    • Optometrists Pages 101A‐113 (This was an added section)
    • Osteopaths Pages 101‐164 (102‐164 are blank)
    • Osteopath (physician/surgeon) Pages 165‐200 (167‐200 blank)
    • Osteopath (drugless) Pages 201‐250 (205‐250 blank)
    • Pharmacists(licensed) Pages 251‐300 (258‐300 blank)
    • Pharmacists(registered agent) Pages 301‐350 (304‐350 Blank)
    • Dentists Pages 351‐400 (pages 397‐400 blank)
    • Dental Hygienists Pages 401‐440 (403‐440 blank)
    • Pages 441‐464 are missing from book
    • Physiotherapy Page 465  
  • Physicians, Surgeons & Optometrists (Oct 1876‐Mar 1929) The certificates in this volume show the education & diploma information for the applicant, signature of president and secretary of the state board of medical examiners, date and signature of county clerk.  Some certificates are typed and some are handwritten.  The are arranged chronologically. There maybe a chronology of the places the individual has practiced. Not only Physician, Surgeons and Optometrists are included despite the title of the book. There are also records for Veterinarians, Osteopaths, dentists, Pharmacists and Midwives..Indexed by Ken Tessendorf & Cath Trindle 
  • Index to Medical Licenses  (1876‐1931)  This is an index of physicians granted licenses to practice medicine in San Mateo County.  It gives the volume and page # of the entry in the preceding volume. Computer index created by Ken Tessendorf.  
  • Register of Dentists (May 23 1903‐July 26 1935) Entries include the following information for the applicant: name, age, office address, date & number of license, and nationality. There are signatures of president & secretary of the governing board of the appropriate agency, of the applicant and of the county clerk. Only the first 36 of 200 pages are filled in. Index by Ken Tessendorf.
  • Medical Certificates 1940‐1970 Arranged Alphabetically within each volume. 12 3/4 x 10 1/2 x @4 Post WPA and Coy I would think that an index to these certificates probably exists in the clerks office. We should check before doing any type of indexing. The first volume would be the only one likely to fit in a 1950 cut off date for indexes. [This record group was not included in the SMCGS index]
  • Index to Register of Doctor's Certificates (Aug 10, 1914‐May 29, 1951) These certificates give the University from which the Dr. graduated and the date. Besides regular certificates this volume includes reciprocity certificates which also give the original licensing state.  Indexed by Jack Taylor, Bob Tousey and Cath Trindle.
The following volumes were not indexed

  • Medical Certificates 1940‐1970 Certificates are arranged alphabetically within each volume.  
General Laws of the State of California 1906
In drawer 33/ cabinet RC5B1 there are entries for Certified Dentists who paid dues in 1903-1906.  The list is included in it's entirety here.

DE Blackburn - Pescadero 1903-1905
Ira H Chapman - Burlingame 1906
AW Collins - Redwood City 1905
Della M Johnson Locke - Half Moon Bay 1906
AL Sanderson - 1 B St., San Mateo 1903 & 1905
Ernest K Sisson - San Mateo 1903
J H Stineman - Redwood City 1905
WO Stuttmeister - Redwood City 1903-1906
In the drawer you will also find a  certified copy of the certificate of Heiman Bernhardt Adelson who was registered as an Optometrist on 4 Sep 1903. 

Index to the Professional Registers 

Don't miss the next SMCGS Meeting.......

The Berryessa Family: A California Legacy

Saturday, June 24, 10:30 am - 12:00 pmGrace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo   
read more   SMCGS Website   CGS Blog

Anthony Ray is an avid genealogist who specializes in church records, California, Mexican, and Southwest research. He has been researching his own family for the past fourteen years and has been a member of the Antelope Valley Genealogical Society, the Genealogical Society of Hispanic America, The Contra Costa County Historical Society, and the Solano County Genealogical Society.

In 2011, Ray was honored with being awarded the first Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant, which he used to further his research. He has done extensive research all throughout California, Arizona, and in the northern Mexican state of Sonora. He is currently in the process of researching and writing a comprehensive history of the Berryessa’s, a founding family of San Francisco and San Jose. 

In addition to being a genealogist, Ray is also a musician, currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in vocal performance and music education. He sings with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Tonality, Lore Vocal Ensemble, and the Sunday Night Singers. He has also been a guest chorister with many other community and church choirs throughout the Los Angeles area.  -- Carolyn Williams

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

San Mateo County Cemeteries: Oakwood Community

Google - Map see link on left
Located on the grounds of Sacred Heart School at 140 Valparaiso Ave in Atherton, this small burial ground serves the nuns of the religious of Sacre Coeur of Jesus (RSCJ).  Also located here is a retirement home for the religious community.  

Alden R. Tagg, on surveying this cemetery in August of 1998, noted that "Stones are mostly alike, at ground level, rectangular most with Alpha/Omega symbol, others with a cross, all with "RSCJ' prominently marked.  The area is well cared for.

"The cemetery is laid out in rows which are oriented roughly N-S, with a central path and a statue in the trees at the western end. Facing toward the statue, left is northerly, right is southerly. The school track is adjacent north, a road is adjacent west and south, a very visible water tank tower is east across another road."

Oakwood Community Cemetery - Find A Grave  Lists 282 burials, 98% have photographs

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

SMC Places: Stanford Village

a submission to SMCGS Sharing Stories 2017

Stanford Village, Menlo Park

Sara Tanke

My first view of Stanford Village was in late June 1961. My husband had been accepted into the Stanford University graduate program in Asian history, and we had secured an apartment in Stanford Village, student housing located in Menlo Park. The week we moved in, the temperature in Menlo Park was 107°, and I was eight months pregnant. My clearest memories from the days before my son was born on July 17 are of decorating his room with large copies of Tenniel illustrations from Alice in Wonderland and of refinishing, outside on the back porch, an antique cradle that his aunt had given us.

We rented our two-bedroom apartment for around $59 a month. But the low rent was not the most important advantage of living in Stanford Village. I was a twenty-four–year-old inexperienced mother whose own mother and mother-in-law were many miles away. In Stanford Village I found friendly mothers older than I who had two or more children and were very helpful and supportive.

It was a congenial environment, with a babysitting co-op, other young families to socialize with, and experienced moms to go to for advice. The back porches of the apartments faced each other across a large grassy area shared by children and parents. 

Stanford Village had 300 apartments, dorms to accommodate 1,500 men, a laundry, general store, and nursery school. It was located on Middlefield Road at Ravenswood Avenue in Menlo Park, where SRI International stands today. The map on the next page shows Stanford Village in 1954. The buildings not shaded in black included barracks-style apartments and dorm rooms. I read in the Stanford Daily of 1964 that there had also been a post office, barber shop, drycleaners, soda fountain, butcher shop, bowling alley, service station, and a chapel. Truly a village!

Here is a picture of me, my son, and a little of our apartment.


Stanford Village in 1954
(Stanford Research Institute buildings are shaded in black)
 Map courtesy of SRI International

In researching the history of the land on which Stanford Village stood, I learned that Ohlone Indians inhabited the area when the Spanish colonized Alta California in the late 1700s. The Spanish government granted a tract of land to José Dario Argüello in 1795. Among Argüello’s posts were commandante of the presidios of San Francisco and Monterey, and, briefly, governor of Alta California. This land grant, named Rancho de las Pulgas, was confirmed later by the Mexican government and, subsequently, by the U.S. government, as Alta California changed hands. Rancho de las Pulgas contained around 35,000 acres; it was bounded by San Mateo Creek on the north, San Francisquito Creek on the south, the Bay on the east, and the hills on the west. The rancho was sold by the Argüello family in 1859.

The development of the Peninsula—as the area south of San Francisco, bounded on the east by the Bay and on the west by the Pacific, was called—was facilitated by the completion of the railroad from San Francisco to San Jose in 1864. People and cargo could travel back and forth easily, and many wealthy San Franciscans built summer homes on large estates on the Peninsula. 

In 1864, William Barron, one of the directors of San Jose’s New Almaden mine, purchased 280 acres, bounded by the railroad, San Francisquito Creek, and what would be Middlefield Road and Ravenswood Avenue. Barron developed the estate, bringing in water for lush landscaping and a trout pond, and creating a deer park. He had a gatehouse built as the entrance to the estate, the sole remaining building today.

Milton Latham, former senator from California (1859–1863), bought the estate when Barron died in 1871. Latham purchased the fountain, which remains on the property, in France.  He sold the estate in 1883 when he moved to New York. 

The estate was purchased by Mary Hopkins, the widow of the railroad magnate Mark Hopkins, who, along with Leland Stanford, was one of the “Big Four,” the founders of the Central Pacific Railroad. The estate was not far from the summer estate of Leland and Jane Stanford. In 1888 she gave the 280-acre estate to her adopted son, Timothy Hopkins, as a wedding gift.


From the 1890 official map of San Mateo County,
Library of Congress

 A page from the Sunset Seed and Plant Co. catalog of 1895

The Sunset Seed and Plant Company on the map on page 3 was Timothy Hopkins’s business from about 1881 to 1898. The page from the 1885 catalogue on page 4 shows the greenhouses of the nursery. Hopkins was on the board of the Southern Pacific Railroad, which founded Sunset magazine in 1898. According to Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California, the magazine was named in honor of the passenger train, the Sunset Limited, which began operation in 1894 between New Orleans and San Francisco via Los Angeles. The name “Sunset” was already in use by Timothy Hopkins’s business, so it’s unclear which came first. In 1951 Sunset magazine moved from its San Francisco offices to a remnant of the Hopkins estate, where the Hopkins Sunset Seed and Plant Company’s nurseries had been located. 

The 1906 earthquake damaged the Hopkins summer residence so severely that he moved his summer home to the gatehouse, which he enlarged. Timothy Hopkins, who was president of Stanford University from 1908 to 1914 and a trustee until his death in 1936, bequeathed the property to Stanford. His wife continued to live there until her death in 1941.

In 1942 the estate buildings were demolished except for the gatehouse and its gate. The United States Army leased the gatehouse to use as officers’ quarters during World War II.  The US government bought 140 acres of the Hopkins estate. And in 1943 the Army built the Palo Alto General Hospital, soon renamed the Dibble General Hospital (after Colonel John Dibble who was killed in a military transport plane crash in 1943).  The hospital cared for soldiers injured in the South Pacific. It specialized in plastic surgery, blind care, neuro-psychiatry, and orthopedics. At its peak it had 2,400 beds. (For comparison, the entire town of Menlo Park in 1940 had a population of only 3,258 residents.)

At the end of the war, the City of Menlo Park purchased twenty-nine acres of the Dibble General Hospital grounds on which the civic center buildings were erected. 

Stanford University took over around eighty-six acres to provide needed housing because of the increase in student enrollment caused by veterans entering on the G.I. bill. Stanford remodeled the hospital buildings, installing bathrooms and kitchens, to accommodate approximately 2,000 students. The area was known as Stanford Village, and existed as student housing until the mid-1960s. This land was also the site of the Stanford Research Institute, a think tank established by Stanford. In 1970, in response to Vietnam War protesters at Stanford who claimed that it was part of the military-industrial complex, Stanford Research Institute became independent and was renamed SRI International.


We moved out of Stanford Village in 1962 because my husband left graduate school to return to his previous position at Stanford University Press. However, my son went to the Stanford Village nursery school from 1964 until the nursery school on the Stanford campus was built in 1966.

The gatehouse of the Hopkins estate was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It is the oldest existing structure in Menlo Park. The Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula and the City of Menlo Park renovated the gatehouse in 1996, and the Junior League became the tenant.

In August 2014 I moved into an apartment across the street from the gatehouse.

One day on a walk down Laurel Street, which borders SRI, I noticed some army-barracks-style buildings. They were clearly from the era of the Dibble General Hospital. A chainlink fence prevented me from exploring. I knew that SRI had a closed campus and was reluctant to visit.

The gatehouse, built by William Barron in 1864, with
the fountain, purchased by Milton Latham in France, in the foreground

Fellow students in my genealogy class encouraged me to pursue my interest, so one day I braved the receptionist at the main entrance to SRI. It turned out that “braved” is the right word. The receptionist was a fierce guard dog, who not only refused me entrance, but also refused to contact a superior to inquire whether I could enter or even to give me the name of anyone I could write or call. It was fortuitous that someone of authority walked through the lobby during this exchange. The receptionist directed me to him, and, unsurprisingly, he was very hospitable and, after I explained my mission, took me on an extended tour of the old buildings that were on the grounds. I took some photos of the exterior of several buildings, but declined his offer to go inside since the interiors had been extensively remodeled. This aerial view of SRI shows some original buildings from the Dibble General Hospital that are still in use.

With the visit to SRI, I feel that my story of Stanford Village is now complete.


  • Cain, Julie. “From Floral Paradise to Commercial Nursery and Back: The Saga of the Barron/Latham/Hopkins Estate.” Eden: Journal of California Garden & Landscape Society, Vol. 15, no. 1 (Winter 2012).
  • Gulker, Linda Hubbard. "Menlo’s oldest mainstay: The Gatehouse." January 24, 2010. Accessed March 12, 2017.
  • “The Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula.” Accessed February 18, 2017. 
  • "Menlo Park City School District." History of the District & Community / Thurlow Estate becomes Dibble General Hospital becomes SRI Int. Accessed February 16, 2017.
  • San Mateo County Genealogy Blog, “San Mateo County Places.” Accessed February 16, 2017.
  • The Stanford Daily, Volume 125, Number 47, 28 April 1954, “Future of Stanford Village”; Volume 145, Number 67, 28 May 1964, “Last Days of the Village”; and Volume 154, Number 21, 18 October 1968, “Last Days of the Village” [again].
  • Streatfield, David C. "The San Francisco Peninsula's Great Estates." Eden: Journal of California Garden & Landscape Society, Vol. 15, no. 1 (Winter 2012).
  • Sunset Magazine, 1888-1998 - Historical Portraits and Bibliography. Accessed March 03, 2017.
  • "Sunset Seed & Plant Co. (Sherwood Hall Nursery Co.): Internet Archive. Accessed February 20, 2017.
  • “Timothy Hopkins: Palo Alto Founder.” The Tall Tree: Newsletter of the Palo Alto Historical Society, Vol. 35, no. 3 (December 2011). Accessed April 25, 2017.
Sara Tanke, an on and off member of SMCGS for several years. has lived in the SF Bay area since 1959.  Prior to that she lived in Pocatello, Idaho and Fayette, Missouri.  Sara has been passionately engaged in genealogical research and writing about her family history since 2004. You can contact Sara at tankesara @

© 2017 Sara Tanke - Please contact author for use of any portion of her story.
Get ready for the next Story event!   
Craig  Siulinski  is presenting Life Story Writing, Enriching Your Family History at CGS this Saturday May 27.  He will also be teaching a 10 week class at the College of San Mateo  Continuing Education on Saturdays in the Fall, watch for details.