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

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

SMC Newspapers: San Mateo Leader & The San Mateo County News

On 25 May 1889, Charles N Kirkbride and R H Jury with help from Henry P Bowie, established the San Mateo Leader, the first newspaper in the city of San Mateo. Jury subsequently bought out Kirkbride and became the sole owner.  At some time before 1913 the Leader was purchased by Charles M Morse.

On 1 Nov 1913 John D Bromfield and AP Bellisle purchased the leader from Morse. Bellisle had been working with Morse in the production of the Leader and Bromfield had been working for the San Francisco Call for about five years.  Within a few months of the purchase, the two young men had announced their intention to establish a new daily newspaper. The History of San Mateo County reported that they had over six hundred subscriptions within less than Two days.

Many thought the enterprise wouldn't be successful, however, it took off.  They continued to publish the Leader as a weekly paper.  Eventually,  Bromfield bought out Bellisle and became the sole owner.  On 31 Dec 1918 he combined the two papers into the the Daily-News Leader.  In 1920 the paper was purchased by Ed S Riggins of San Francisco.

It continued production until 21 Jan 1926 when it was purchased by Horace W Amphlett and consolidated with the San Mateo Times

The San Mateo County News  - History of San Mateo County from the Earliest Times - 1916
  • San Mateo Leader (Weekly) Vol. 1, no. 1 (May 25, 1889)-v. 30, no. 52 (Dec. 26, 1918) Microfilm CA Lib (s) , SM Lib (s) , UCR (s)
  • San Mateo County News (Daily/no Sun) [Vol. 1] no. 1 (Jan. 5, 1914)-v. 5, no. 301 (Dec. 31, 1918) Microfilm  SM Lib, UCR 
  • News-Leader (Daily) Vol. 6, no. 1 (Jan. 2, 1919)-v. 6, no. 63 (Mar. 18, 1919) Microfilm CA Lib (s) , SM Lib (s) , UCR (s)
  • News-leader, the San Mateo County news (Daily/no Sunday) Vol. 6, no. 64 (Mar. 19, 1919)-v. 7, no. 75 (Mar. 31, 1920  Microfilm CA Lib (s) , SM Lib (s) , UCR (s)
  • News-Leader (Daily/no Sunday) Vol. 7, no. 76 (Apr. 1, 1920)-v. 9, no. 203 (Aug. 31, 1922) Microfilm CA Lib (s) , SM Lib (s) , UCR (s)
  • Daily News Leader (Daily/ no Sunday) Vol. 9, no. 204 (Sept. 1, 1922)- v. 13, no. 16 (Jan. 20, 1926) Microfilm   SM Lib, UCR (s) CA Lib, SMCHA (p)

(w) weekly (d) daily (n) daily except Sunday and holidays
(p) partial run  (s) scattered missing issues
CA Lib - California State Library
UCR - University of California Riverside - Newspaper Master Files
RCL - Redwood City Public Library
SM Lib - San Mateo City Library
SMCHA - San Mateo County Historical Associatino

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Barry's Bits and Upcoming Events






SMCGS Meeting-   Saturday, Jun 23, 10:30 am - 12 noon
 Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo Entrance in back.

  Ireland Online
 Cath Trindle
         10:00 am Cookies and coffee

Join us for this exploration of Irish online resources.  The celebration of the Centennial of the Easter Uprising of 1916 caused a tremendous surge in the availability of online records, and the upcoming 2022 and 2040 projects are keeping the movement going.  The emphasis will be on free resources with a glimpse at what is available on paid sites.
Sharing Stories:  June Baxter will read My Roommate

The Public is welcome to this FREE event. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

SMCGS Databases Online: Inventories

Learn the Importance of the Historical Records Survey: Historical Records Survey workers inventorying and surveying records in a sub-cellar below river level in New York City c. 1935.

Historical Records Survey

In 1938 an inventory of the Archives of San Mateo County was taken as part of the Historical Records Survey: Division of Women's and Professional Projects - Work Progress Administration.  It was published by the Historical Records Survey in San Francisco in June 1838.  While delving into the drawers at the County Record Repository many years ago, a copy of the publication was found.  This is a digitized copy.  In it you will find a listing of all the found records by department.  As we search for records of the past this is a guide to what existed just prior to WWII.

Historical Records Survey #42 - San Mateo County
Historical Records Survey - Living New Deal
Historical Records Survey - Wikipedia
Historical Records Survey - Guide to Unpublished
NARA Records of the Work Progress Administration

Historical Records of County Government in California

In 1981, Secretary of State, March Fong Eu, in conjunction with the State Archives, the California Historical Records and Consultant Service with funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, created "Identification of the Historical Records of County Government in California."  This document provides a helpful description of the records that should be found in every county in the state.

Identification of the Historical Records of County Gov. in CA

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Railroad

The Pacific and Atlantic Railroad Company was incorporated on September 6, 1851.  The route was surveyed and published by the end of 1851.
William J Lewis - San Francisco 1851
Unable to raise funds locally, they turned to banking houses in New York and New England for funds.  Those institutions turned them down, stating they needed to raise local capital first.

The company tried again.  They reorganized on October 29, 1853, just before the expiration of the original construction permit, $2,000,000 of stock was authorized for sale.  Unfortunately, a downturn in the economy again scared investors away.   There after all notices of the Pacific Atlantic Railroad appear to be focused on just that, a railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coasts.

Daily Alta California, Volume 4, Number 333, 22 December 1853 

By 1857, the public sentiment suggested it was time for a railroad along the San Francisco Peninsula.  The  San Francisco and San Jose Railroad Company was incorporated in late 1859.  They intended to raise public funds by putting a referendum to the voters of the three counties served (San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara).  The goal was to raise $600,000 by the sale of bonds. A law was passed by the State Legislature and signed by Governor Dewey on 21 Apr 1860 allowing the referendum and allowing for an interest tax to cover the cost of interest on the bonds for a period of twenty years. 

Newpapers reported this as  "an attempted fraud upon the tax-payers of the counties" and the company dissolved in June 1860.
Daily Alta California, Volume 12, Number 167, 16 June 1860 

A new San Francisco and San Jose Railroad incorporated on August 18, 1860 with San Francisco industrialist Peter Donahue stepping in as treasurer, choosing his friends Judge Timothy Dame as president and Henry Newhall, a successful San Francisco auctioneer, as vice-president, and placing the company headquarters in San Francisco. Donahue, Dame and Newhall are thus credited as the three co-founders of the line.

  1.  Daily Alta California, Volume 4, Number 24, 24 January 1853 — San Jose Railroad 
  2. Railroad Law Daily Alta California, Volume 12, Number 118, 28 April 1860
  3. Dissolution of the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad Company
  4. San Francisco and San Jose Railroad - Wikipedia  

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Menlo Park Family History Center has new hours starting June 1

The following announcement came from Erik Jacobsen, Director of the Menlo Park Family History Center,
Starting in June, the Menlo Park Family History Center is shifting to a new schedule. We will be open all day on Tuesdays, evenings only on Thursdays, and will be open Saturday mornings with Saturday afternoons dedicated to training sessions.

The details:
Tuesdays: 10:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Thursdays: 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. with classes from 1:15 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

New Classes added for July
In addition to five different training sessions in June, we have added three classes in July, including sessions on German EmigrationIrish Emigration, and Jewish Genealogy Research.
You can see details and register for any of our 8 remaining summer classes here: MPFHC Training Session Registration
There is no cost for the training sessions, but space is limited, so please reserve a spot by pre-registering for the sessions that interest you.

New Facebook Page
The Menlo Park Family History Center is now on Facebook. Like us and stay up to date with upcoming events and resources at the Center. Take a look: MPFHC on Facebook

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

SF History at Hyde Street Pier

By Maggie Melaney

Last Monday a few intrepid members of the Menlo Park genealogy class took a train to San Francisco, a streetcar to the wharf, and then walked right off the Hyde Street Pier into the history of San Francisco’s maritime industry.  We didn’t even get our feet wet! 

Our guide, an enthusiastic National Park ranger named Alan, took us aboard the Eureka ferry boat and the schooner C.A. Thayer, which carried fish, and then lumber, along the California coast and as far as the South Pacific.

 For many of us, this was a stroll through our family history.  Several folks recalled family tales of ancestors sailing on such a ship, or buying lumber off the pier.  We tried to imagine what it would be like sleeping in the hold of the ship when it carried cod from Alaska! 
The car ferries when still running when I was a child, and I remember traveling with my grandmother as she drove her car up - or down (the tides) into the bottom of the ferry in Berkeley.  
We were able to get out and go up top to enjoy the trip, then had to rush down as docking was announced in San Francisco.  There was even a restaurant which served what must have been the first truly fast food on the trip across.

After a lunch out on the pier, we went across to the National Park Service visitors center.  A few years ago, when I first visited, it was a small display area and a room for videos.  It’s now much larger with several dioramas, a boardwalk, a crashed ship(!), and displays of store fronts selling goods imported from Asia and Europe.  You can see below your feet some of the objects found during various excavations of the waterfront, the graveyard of gold rush ships.  There are Park Service rangers on hand to answer questions, and several videos and interactive maps.

The pier is now part of the National Park Service.  Entry is free with your National Park pass.

“Located in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park offers visitors the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Pacific Coast maritime history. The Park includes a magnificent fleet of historic ships, a Visitor Center, Maritime Museum, Maritime Research Center, and Aquatic Park Historic District.”

Guided tours can be arranged through their website at

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Barry's Bits and Upcoming Events


SMCGS Meeting-   Saturday, May 19, 10:30 am - 12 noon
 Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo Entrance in back.

 The Streets of Menlo Park
 Bo Crane
         10:00 am Cookies and coffee 

The Streets of Menlo Park delves into the genealogical backgrounds of the manyspecial people behind the street names of Menlo Park, especially those from the Gold Rush Era. Wealthy San Francisco city dwellers purchased land in the area of Menlo Park Ranch after the railroad depot was completed. A street grid was developed and populated with names from numerous sources.

Bo Crane grew up in North Palo Alto in an area now in Menlo Park. He was an English major at Stanford, and is the author of two books: The Streets of Menlo Park, and The Life and Times of Dennis Martin.
Sharing Stories: Sarah Coston will read Thoughts on My Ellis Island Trip

The Public is welcome to this FREE event.

Upcoming Meetings

June 23 10:30-12:00  Ireland Online - Cath Trindle
July 28 10:30-12:00  Round Table Discussions 

NO August Meeting

All SMCGS Meetings are free and open the public.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

SMCGS Databases Online: Jury Lists

One of the privileges of being able to vote is also being able to serve on a jury.  Well, I suppose, some believe that is one of the disadvantages.  Whatever way your thinking leans, if you are looking for information on your ancestors, finding them on a jury list gives another peek into their lives.

The jury lists found in Drawer RC5B1-31 in the San Mateo County Record Repository are a combination of Certified Lists created by the Board of Supervisor at the request of various court judges and lists that were created to show that a summons to jury duty had been delivered. When both existed for the same court and time, double entries were eliminated from the index.  Unfortunately, there are many gaps in the lists which cover the years 1908-1932.  Some of the lists name the court and judge that requested the jurors, others do not.  Some lists give the address of the potential jurors, others do not.

As the index was created it was noted that in 1912 county courts took month of July off and in 1922 Woodside and Portloa were part of Redwood City R FD.

When women gained the right to vote, the juror lists swelled with women’s names.  On some lists including that for the Grand Jury in 1930 the majority of those on the lists were women. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

San Mateo County Cemeteries: Eternal Home

Eternal Home Cemetery was established in 1901 on 2 acres acquired by Congregation Ohabi Shalome.

"The cemetery is but the gate to the Eternal Home. The name we have chosen for this spot symbolized the supernal destiny of man, symbolizes the change from the transient and mortal to the everlasting and the undying." Rabbi Isador Meyers

Between 1903 and 1926, there were two cemeteries on the site, Eternal Home and Chevra Kadisha. 
A monument to those moved from the cemetery of The Stockton Street Congregation (Congregation Shaair Zedek f.1890) after it was dissolved in 1910 is located in the section that was originally Chevra Kadisha.

In 1926, the cemetery was sold to Sinai Memorial Chapel which had been established in 1902 with the mission to provide a dignified burial for all Jews (Orthodox, Conservative and Reformed) regardless of their ability to pay. Over the years it has expanded to it's current 25 acres.

Among the highlights is the Court of the Twelve Tribes of Israel located near the road and separated from the rest of the cemetery by twelve pillars along the walk. All of the tombstones in this section are of uniform size and color.

The Holocaust Monument was erected in 1983 by Bikur Cholim of San Franciscodedicated to the memory of the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust which was erected by several organizations including Bikur Cholim of San Francisco, the San Francisco Zionists and the American Jewish Congregations of Northern California.  The memorial was restored and moved to a new location in 2012.

There are over 15,000 burials in the cemetery as well as cremains.

Eternal Home Cemetery - Find A Grave Over 5000 burials listed with 93% photographed.

Eternal Home Cemetery
1051 El Camino Real, Colma
Phone: 650-755-5236
Sinai Memorial Chapel

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

San Mateo County Records on Family Search

A few years ago FamilySearch spent months in the San Mateo County County Record Center digitizing records.  Among the records were the entire series of Naturalization Records, Coroner's Records, Deeds, Homesteads, Patents, and Marriage Applications.

The images are currently available to browse, but are not indexed.  Fortunately SMCGS has indexes for many of the available volumes, including the naturalization records, the Coroner's Records, the Patents, Homesteads and some of the Deeds.  By using the indexes on our website first you can then access the online images .

The list of available volumes is arranged in Alphabetical Order, which sometimes makes it difficult to find what you are looking for.  With that in mind, we have created a page on this blog with links to the individual volumes, arranged in a more understandable order.  It is a work in progress, so continue to check if you don't find what you are looking for.

A few realities of using the images. First you are required to create a free account on FamilySearch and sign in  if you want to view the images.   Second, when you are searching for a page it is not going to be the same as the image number.  Depending on the volume there might be numerous document images for each page number.  Using the Naturalization Petitions as an example a page might have a Declaration of intention (2 images), a ship record, and other correspondence in addition to the two images of the petition page itself.  All of the sudden you might find that page 88 is in fact image 557.

Taking a few minutes to orient yourself is well worth while.  I usually look at the first page...which might be image 5 considering the image of the book cover, the book spine, etc.  Then I check the last page, and then look at the middle.  Using those three checkpoints you should be able to quickly navigate forward or backward to the record you are looking for.  Be sure also to scroll.  There might be two or more records on an image.  Depending on the zoom factor, you might not see those on the bottom or side. without using the scroll bars or downloading the entire image.

Index to Image Volumes on FamilySearch (with links to each volume)
Images on FamilySearch

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Upcoming SMCGS Events

 Spring Seminar 2018:  
Forensic Genealogy plus California Research: 
Missions to Present
 Info and Registration click here. Early Bird registration deadline in two
 weeks on April 27. See below for more seminar details.

April Meeting: English Probate and Death Duty Records

Speaker: Christine Bell Green, PLCGS
Date: Saturday, April 21, 10:30 am - 12 noon
10:00 am Cookies & coffee
10:30 am - 12 noon 
Sharing Stories: June Baxter will read My Roommate
Location: Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, SM
Entrance in back.

English probate records, when available, can 

be instrumental in providing primary information 
about family relationships. They frequently 
provide direct evidence that links adult children
with their parents and/or siblings. Wills of 
childless or single people are especially worth 
collecting as they typically name several family 
members (including nephews and nieces).  
During the 19th century an additional set of 
records, death duty records, which complement 
probate records is extant. Death duty records are 
available for both testate and intestate probate 
cases. Record types and methodology will be 

Christine Bell Green has a professional learning certificate in Genealogical Studies 
from the University of Toronto. She is a ProGen graduate and an alumnus of the 
Salt Lake Institute, the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, and the 
Genealogy Research Institute of Pittsburgh where she studied a variety of 
advanced level courses. She is a past president and current seminar chair of 
SMCGS and a professional researcher who teaches Genealogy in Palo Alto and 
Mountain View/Los Altos Adult Schools. In her spare time she travels to visit 
her living relatives.

This event is free and all are welcome.
More information on SMCGS classes and events 
can be found on our website here.
Spring Seminar 2018:

Forensic Genealogy 


California Research: Missions to Present


Sheila Benedict

Saturday  ~  
 May 5, 2018  ~  9 am - 3 pm

Early Bird Registration until Friday, April 27:
$45 Members - $50 Non-members - $10 Lunch

After April 27 & Walk-ins $55

Professional genealogist Sheila Benedict brings to life her in-depth forensic, historic, and family genealogical experience through examples and case studies from courthouses to California missions. 

Sheila is the recipient of the National Genealogical Society Award of Merit and is the author of the NGS publication, "Research in California."

Seminar talks (detail below):
    - Forensic Genealogy: What it is and is not; Case Studies
    - California Research: Past and Present
     - California Historic Missions and their Records

For more information and registration, click here.

Also at the seminar:

Book Sale
A good selection of gently used genealogical books. If you have some books you no longer use, please consider donating them to the book sale and bringing to the February and March meetings.
Silent Auction -  Some great donations from the following companies:
            2 semi-annual World Explorer individual memberships to Ancestry
            1 annual subscription
            1 annual Basic subscription
            1 AncestryDNA kit
            1 year subscription to My Heritage or 1 My Heritage DNA kit
From  12 month Ultimate British and Irish subscription (top level!)
From GenealogyBank:   
            1 year subscription to GenealogyBank
            1 year subscription to GenealogyBank
Book: "Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave" by William L. Andrews (Editor), Regina E. Mason (Editor)
Home-baked Cookies - SMCGS bakers will be mixing up their usual hard-to-resist homemade cookies and bars.

To download the seminar flyer, click here

For more information and registration, click here.

We look forward to seeing you for what is going to be a fascinating seminar.

Warm regards,

Christine Green
Seminar Chair

Seminar topic descriptions:
Introduction to Forensic genealogy: What it is and what it is not
What is Forensic Genealogy? This definition is that it is genealogical research done in cases where there is legal implications, such as probates and estates, guardianships, capital mitigations, immigration and citizenships, land issues, and much more. Kinship determination through due diligent research, including DNA, courthouses and their records, and many of records that family historians used regularly, will be discussed in a totally different way.

Case Studies in Forensic Genealogical Research
Discussion will include the education, training, and work experience required to work on forensic cases. Standards and ethics, genealogical proof standard. Further information about forensic genealogy will be discussed using source examples, such as DNA, courthouses, vital records, and case examples, such as adoptions, probates, trademark law, and dual citizenship. Using source materials familiar to genealogists, included will be examples of affidavits, legal briefs, and contracts.

California Research: Past and Present
California is a melting pot of ethnicities, religions, lifestyles, and economics. The history includes thousands of years inhabited by native people, explorers, gold miners, religious expeditions, Spanish and Mexican rule, land grants, taxation, migration patterns, and statehood. The history and records available from the past to the present will show these diversities and offer genealogists, in and out of the state, with insight into what is available in the repositories, usual and unusual, public and private, along with the records that can be found. Highlighted events include explorations, gold rush, earthquakes, land grant system, and much more.

California Historic Missions and Their Records
The historic California Missions and Presidios can be seen as a timeline of history and an invaluable part of California and national history. The records they maintained in the past, and still do, hold vital information for historians, genealogists, Catholic and non-Catholic researchers, and others. Land grants are just one layer of California history that will be explored, along with case examples of the records held, where they are located, and the important benefits to all researchers, in and out of California.