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

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Fence: Titus Webb vs County Roads

Mratha Wallace & Cath Trindle 

In Nov 1859 Titus Webb filed suit in the Circuit Court of the US. District of California, asking for $1000 in damages BG Lathrop, San Mateo County Clerk, and JV Diller, San Mateo County Road Commissioner as they had torn down his fence. He denied that there was a right of way across his land, and denied that he had made an agreement through his lawyer, Nightengale to give such right of way.

Diller and Lathrop had torn the fence down to make way for a road from Redwood City to Whipple's Mill which would be used to transport lumber and presto to the port.

Webb won the jury trial and was awarded $100 for his fence.  It does not say whether he had to give up the right of way.

21 1 318 Titus Webb Benjamin G Lathrop, John V Diller Jas Williams, John Nightingale, Gergeo D Williams, Milo Calkin, Owen McGarvey, Chas N Fox, Herman Baer, A F C Engert 8 Aug 1859 20 Aug 1859 San Mateo County Webb owned 160 acres near Cordillas Creek, part of Rancho de las Pulga and enclosed with a substantial fence. Lathrop and Diller broke down and carried away the fence; damages $1000. Whitcomb, Pringle & Felton for plaintiff; Jas McCabe for defendant 23 Nov 1859 Verdict by jury for plaintiff wit

A challenge to the reader.  Can you find a definition for Presto?  I assume that it is the sawdust and small pieces of wood left by the milling process, but I have been unable to find a definition or description.   Send any links or information to publications @ smcgs(dot) org.

It seems that Titus wasn't content with suing over his fence.  In another case that same year, a judgement against AFC Engert in the Twelfth Judicial District Court, County of San Mateo he forced a sale of Engert's property to satisfy a judgement.  (

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Barry's Bits / Winter Genealogical Class Schedule

culled from the San Francisco Examiner by Barry Goyette 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Advanced genealogy and writing
Instructors: Margaret Melaney/class
Ongoing September - June
Mondays 9:30 - 11:30
Writing group alternate weeks 11:30-12:30
Trinity Church Menlo Park  $75 annually


Family History – The Next Step (mainly intermediate level)
Thursday Mornings 8:45 am-11:15 am   1/11-3/29
Classes held at San Mateo Adult School/SMART Center, 789 East Poplar Avenue, San Mateo
Register in person, by mail or at the first class meeting.
Instructor: Inge Harding-Barlow 650-558-2100           Website
Description: Family History (Genealogy) is a journey into the lives of our ancestors – their joys, triumphs and problems. These 10 classes will review basic genealogy and websites. Then the class will discuss more advanced information available for the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Germany and other countries from which the ancestors of the 2017 Winter-Spring class members originate. The classes will consist of talks, discussions and individual work on class members’ family trees with “instant” help being available from the teacher and classmates on problems and some brick walls. Class members are also encouraged to set up 90-minute individual consults on their genealogical brick walls with the teacher at the specialized genealogical Family History Library in Menlo Park. These classes will also help participants understand what they can and cannot obtain via computers.

Palo Alto Adult School: - Winter Quarter Registration opens 1st December 2017

Jump Start Your Genealogy: Fundamentals
Instructor: Christine Bell Green, PLCGS
10 weeks • January 18 – March 22 2018
Thursday • 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Palo Alto HS Rm. 204 • $75*

Discovering your roots is exciting; it teaches you about yourself as well as your family. This class is designed to give family historians/genealogists a strong foundation. We learn to effectively use common genealogical record types and important family history websites. Helping each other by sharing our journeys is an important part of the class.  Field trip is included.

 Optional text: Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy: 3rd Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 2005

Genealogy: Intermediate
Instructor: Christine Bell Green PLCGS
10 weeks • January 17 – March 21 2018
Wednesday • 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Greendell Rm. P3 • $75*
Prerequisite: Beginning Genealogy or 1 year Genealogy research experience.

Do you have brick walls in your family history or ancestors you know little about? Learn to research using a broad cross-section of genealogical records and extract all the information from them, use the Internet effectively and become skilled at inferential genealogy. We maximize our efficiency by organizing our research better and sharing helpful tips. We write stories that will interest our families.  Field trip is included.

Optional text: Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy: 3rd Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 2005

Mountain  View/Los Altos Adult School – Winter and Spring Quarters Registration opens 17 November 2017

Genealogy Advanced Intermediate/Advanced
Instructor: Christine Bell Green PLCGS
8 weeks – January 8 – March 12 2018 (no class 1/15 or 2/19)
$90 ($70 seniors)
Monday – 12.30 – 3pm

Break through your brick walls and solve complex genealogical problems using a broad cross-section of genealogical records. Become skilled at inferential genealogy.

Genealogy Beginner/Intermediate
Instructor: Christine Bell Green PLCGS
9 weeks – January 9 – March 13 2018 (no class 2/20)
$99 ($79 seniors)
Tuesday – 12.30 – 3pm

Learn to use a wide variety of genealogical records to discover your roots. Sharing your journey with other passionate genealogists is a part of the class

Optional text for both genealogy classes:
Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, 3rd Edition, (Baltimore, 2005.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

San Mateo County First Families

SMCGS has revamped their First Families Project.  First Families Promoter, Laurie Coulter, is the first to say it was a complicated process for the non-genealogist.    She would like to extend the following welcome to the new program, and also to invite anyone interested in getting started to the SMCGS meeting this Saturday.  There will be a First Families/San Mateo County Round Table Session, where we will explore the many online resources for finding information on your San Mateo County Families.


Welcome to the San Mateo County Genealogical Society FirstFamilies Project!

Do you have relatives or know of someone who lived in San Mateo County in the 1880's? the early 1900's?

Do you know anything about them, like where they lived or worked or sent their children to school?
Perhaps you  have a picture of a house or business or land that identifies when or where the person was in the early development of the county.

Perhaps you have a diary or letter or business journal or map.

All of these things help to create the story. What story? The story of how people lived and contributed to the growth and development of the area.

The San Mateo County Genealogical Society is interested in these stories and learning more about the ordinary people who came to this area following their dreams. We have shelves in our library dedicated to these stories.

Our First Families Project is designed to assist friends, relatives, school children, scouts, and anyone interested in sharing these stories. We provide assistance with finding proof of residency and will assist you if you get "hooked" and want to delve into finding all the public documents related to your person or family.

Laurie Coulter


Meyer's Family at Searsville Lake - Laurie Coulter
There are three categories of early pioneers in the First Families Program:
Founding Families – Ancestors who settled before 1879
Early Settlers – Ancestors who settled between 1880 and 1905
Century Families – Ancestors who settled between 1906 and 100 years ago.  
You will find the requirements and the needed forms for a First Families Submission on the SMCGS Website.  

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

SMCGS Sharing Stories 2017

My Roommate

June Baxter

My head was filled with thoughts of summer drawing to a close and the scary new world of junior high school looming ahead, when my parents announced that my grandmother, who had not seen me since I was nine months old, would soon be coming to share my bedroom with me.

I happily asked, “Will she play cards with me?” They smiled and said probably not.

Soon my room was reconfigured—my shelves went to the garage, childish drawings came down from the walls, a drawer and a portion of the tiny closet were emptied to hold her few garments. None of this really mattered to me, for as an only child, I was looking forward to having a roommate!

Sweet Anna Mary Krecek Pazderka, age 84 years (to my 12), made the long journey by bus from Omaha, Nebraska, to Palo Alto, California, with my mother’s older brother, Jim. I had not seen photos nor even talked on the phone with her.

As I look back now, I wonder what her thoughts were as she left the only home she had known since traveling with her family from then-Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) when she was about five years old. I’m sure she was delighted to finally be able to spend time with her precious daughter, but what about rooming with a pre-pubescent girl?

Once Grandma was safely ensconced in her new abode, I set off with great trepidation to the first day of junior high. I was soon immersed in mountains of homework, accordion lessons, and much to my chagrin, ballroom dancing lessons.

A quiet lady who had led a hard life as a widowed mother of two young children and worked in a meatpacking plant in Omaha to support them, Grandma loved sitting in a chair by the living-room window and gazing across the street at Matadero Creek. She neither read nor played cards, but watched a favorite soap opera on our newly purchased—and first—TV and faithfully dried the dinner dishes every evening.

When Grandma became ill my senior year of high school and my mother sat up with her all night, every night, I either slept on the couch or at our next-door neighbors’. After a few months, she moved to a nursing home just eight miles away; my mother even learned to drive so she could visit every day, with my dad and me accompanying her on weekends.

One day toward the end of May, filled with end-of-year angst, I came home to find my mother and several close friends sitting in the living room. I asked how Grandma was.

(From my diary): “To my greatest sorrow, I learned that my beloved Grandma passed away this morning at 7:00. At first I didn’t cry because I was really glad for her sake—and Mom said that she didn’t have it very easy. Then I really cried. I loved her so…”

Grandma was two months shy of her 90th birthday. It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood and appreciated how she had enriched my life with her quiet resolve, acceptance and gentleness. How grateful I am to have had her as my roommate. April 2017


June Baxter was born and raised in Palo Alto, lived and raised her three children in Campbell and has now retired to Half Moon Bay. June was a high school English and business teacher for 25 years and currently writes the senior page for the Half Moon Bay Review as well as editing and writing newsletters for the state parks and the HMB history association.  She says she has little genealogical expertise, but her son is exploring her mother's history in Omaha, NE and she hopes to get more involved in the future. 

© 2017 June Baxter - Please contact SMCGS for use of any portion of this story.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

SMCGS Databases Online: Miscellaneous Ledgers

The Miscellaneous Registers for San Mateo County date from late 1856.  Register 7 goes into 1892.  At that point separate registers had been created for leases, mortgages, lis pendens and other record sets found originally only in the Miscellaneous Registers.  However, some of all those record types still find their way into the Miscellaneous Registers instead.

Besides leases, mortgages and lis pendens, you can find builders contracts, assignments, tax certificates, bonds, judgements, power of attorney, decrees of distribution and much more.  There are a number of maps tucked into the volumes.  In some cases there is a copy of the map as well as an original with a note that the original had been stolen but has now been restored to it's original home.

Some of the records in the early books were in Spanish and there are a few that are recorded in both Spanish and English.

Unfortunately, these books were not digitized.  Miscellaneous Registers 2-38 are located in the County Record Center.  Register one is not with them, perhaps it is at the Recorder's Office in Redwood City. To obtain copies of records found in the registers, contact the San Mateo County Recorders Office.    

An Index to Volumes 1-7 SMCGS Miscellaneous Registers  Indexes to later volumes are located on the same shelves with the Registers.