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

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Barry's Bits and Upcoming Events

San Francisco Examiner

                       Upcoming Events                          
FALL SEMINAR 2018 - Registration opens on August 15. 

We encourage you to register early as this event will sell out.

Exploring DNA & Genetic Genealogy with CeCe Moore

Sat, November 3, 2018,  9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Menlo Park LDS Church Hall, 1105 Valparaiso, Menlo Park

CeCe Moore is a well known, well respected, and well loved genetic genealogist. She is an innovator in the use of autosomal DNA in genealogy and has been a long-time expert on the PBS show  "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr."

For our website info, click here.

To download the flyer, click here.

No August Meeting

September Meeting:   

Researching Your Civil War Ancestors

     Date:        Saturday, September 22, 2018

         10:00 am Cookies & coffee
         10:30 am - 12 noon 
Location: Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
         Entrance in back.

Speaker: Mary Boyle

From 1861 to 1865, this country was torn apart by an internal war. Counting both the Confederate and Union armies, 3.3 million men were in the service. The U.S. 
population in 1860 was 31,443,321. Find out how you can discover whether or not your ancestor served and what happened in "his" war.
This presentation will cover resources both digital and printed that will help with Civil War research. We will look at examples from both the Union and Confederate sides. Learn why the war lasted so long and produced so many casualties and get some insight into why it is still impacting us in 2018.

Mary Boyle has been a librarian at the Santa Clara City Library since 2004. She is currently Local History/Genealogy Librarian and has assisted many people in furthering their genealogy research. Mary has lectured in California on genealogical topics since 2014 and has been researching her family for more than thirty years. In 2010, she proved her lineage to a Revolutionary War patriot, Prince Soper. His grandson, her great grandfather, served on the Union side in the Civil War.


October Meeting:  

A Year in Salem: The Witchcraft Crisis of 1692

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

SMCGS Databases: Abstract of Judgements

Abstract of Judgment is a copy or summary of a courts judgment. It is a document disclosing a monetary award issued by the court in favor of a person who won the lawsuit against a losing defendant. It includes the rate of interest to be paid on the judgment amount, court costs, and any specific orders for the losing defendant. An abstract of judgment is a public record and creates a lien on any real estate property owned by the defendant in the county in which the abstract of judgment is recorded. Issuance procedure and contents of abstract of judgment varies according to statutes. (

This transcription of San Mateo Counties Index of Abstracts of Judgment appears to include  Judgments from Township courts in San Mateo County and a variety of courts in other counties.  It does not include Judgments made by the Superior Court of San Mateo County.   Most likely they are indexed in the Docket Books for the Superior Court.

Many of the earliest Judgments were not recorded into books, but rather filed.  Whether those filed record still exist is unknown, but it seems unlikely.  From 1856 until 1918 those Abstracts of Judgment that were recorded are found mainly in the Miscellaneous Books, with a few recorded in the Deed Books.  Starting in 1918 a separate set of Books called Transcript of Judgment was kept.  

Information in this transcription includes:
Fee Book Number, Page in Index, Debtor, Creditor, Judgment Notes, Judgment Amount, Costs, Date Recovered. Court of Recovery, When Filed, When Recorded, Record Set, Book, Page, Satisfaction Date, Notes.

Judgement Liens on Property in California - Nolo Press
Abstract of Judgement - Wikipedia

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

SMC Newspapers: San Mateo Times

The San Mateo Times was established as a weekly paper on 4 Apr 1901 by Robert A Thompson. In 1903 the paper was purchased by Paul Pickney and Henry Thiel. Pickney bought out Thiel in 1910 and continued as editor and proprietor until his death on 2 Nov 1918.  His assistant,  Horace W Amphlett, became proprietor and with a short time converted the paper from hand-set to automated.

On 2 Jun 1924 the Times became a daily paper in an effort to compete with the News-Leader.  A year and a half later, on 21 Jan 1926 Amphlett purchased the News-Leader and consolidated it with the Times. In 1930 the San Mateo Times moved its offices to 145 Second Ave in San Mateo.  

Amphlett passed away in 1933, but the newspaper was continued by Amphlett Publishing. In 1944 J Hart Clinton, husband of Helen Amphlett,  took the helm.  By 1957, the editorial staff had grown to 29.   

In 1970 the San Mateo Times claimed a readership of over 81,000 and had offices in Burlingame and Redwood City as well as San Mateo. In 1996 the paper was sold to Ang Newspapers, a subsidiary of Media-News group, and renamed the San Mateo County Times.  In 2016 the San Mateo County Times was merged into the San Jose Mercury News.


Newspaper Archive 1925-1928
The Mercury News - San Mateo
SMCGS Obituary Index - San Mateo Times 1925-present (p)
San Mateo Times 1901-1926 (w/n 1924 +) Vol. 1, no. 1 (Apr. 4, 1901)-v. 7 [sic], no. 16 (Jan. 20, 1926) Microfilm CA Lib (s), SM Lib (s), UCR (s)
San Mateo Times and Daily News Leader 1926-1961 (n) Vol. 7, no. 17 (Jan. 21, 1926)-v. 61, no. 160 (July 6, 1961) Microfilm CA Lib (s), SM Lib (s), UCR (s)
The Times, San Mateo Times and Daily News Leader 1961- 1973 (n) Vol. 61, no. 161 (July 7, 1961)-v. 73, no. 133 (June 4, 1973) Microfilm CA Lib (s), SM Lib (s), UCR (s)
The Times, San Mateo Times and Daily News Leader, Advance Star 1973-1979 (n)  Vol. 73, no. 134 (June 5, 1973)-v. 79, no. 116 (May 15, 1979) Microfilm CA Lib (s), SM Lib (s)
The Times (San Mateo, California) 1979-1996  (n) Vol. 79, no. 117 (May 16, 1979)- v. 96, no. 60 (Mar. 9-10, 1996) Microfilm CA Lib (s), SM Lib (s), UCR (p)
San Mateo County Times 1996-  (n)  Mar. 11, 1996- Microfilm CA Lib (s), SM Lib (s), UCR (p)
San Jose Mercury News - San Mateo 2016

(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 Association Archives

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Barry's Bits and Upcoming Events

SF Examiner 21 Aug 1924

                       Upcoming Events                         

Round Table Discussions

July 2018 Meeting

Round Table Discussions
Saturday, July 28, 2018   10:30am - 12:00 pm 
Cookies & Coffee 10-10:30 am
Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo

August Meeting - No meeting in August

See you in September!

       SMCGS - Fall Seminar 2018

           Coming Saturday, November 3, 2018
           The SMCGS Fall Seminar with 
          CeCe Moore, Genetic Genealogy Expert and Scriptwriter for the TV show  finding your roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
         This event will sell out.  Ticket sales open on August 15, 2018.

Genealogy Summer Camp!

Genealogy Classes in the Central Peninsula
Listed below you will find links to some of the local Genealogy Classes. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

SMCGS Databases Online: Valente 2

We have just uploaded an updated index to the Valente, Marini and Perata Mortuary Records.

The early books are not in the best condition, partially due to age and partly due to the fact that after the 1906 earthquake, as fire swept through the city,  Mr. Perata grabbed the ledgers and ran across the street and buried them in Washington Park.  It is our hope to get those early books digitized for the  Colma Historical Society before we finish the project.

As we were indexing, we found a number of entries stating "remains transferred to J Hagan."  Lauren Perrit did a little research and found that J Hagan was the owner of Sunset View cemetery (the pauper's cemetery).  In the earlier books there are also a number of notations that graves were gratis in other cemeteries.

The early books are more than just registers of burials.  They are journals that contain information on the entire business, including payments to vendors, charges for taking family out for drinks and much more.  They also resemble scrapbooks at times, with interesting articles and documents pasted on the inside covers and on blank pages.

Index to the Valente, Marini and Perata Mortuary Records.  

If you would like to help with this project, either by helping with the index, or by helping with the digitizing of the early books, contact 

Streetwise: Valente, Marini and Perata - Outside

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

SMC Cemeteries: Chinese

In Feb of 1898, Ellen Maria Barry (daughter of Owen McMahon), petitioned the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors for authorization to extablish a cemetery on her inherited land in the area known as Happy Valley,

In a review on Yelp Mike C notes.......

"This particular cemetery is one of the larger and definitely the oldest amongst the Chinese dominant locations.  My father told me that only members of the Kong Chow Benevolent Association are here which is a big deal given how large the Bay Area Chinese community is now."  

Twice a year the Chinese visit this and other Chinese cemeteries to pay respects to their ancestors.  While the younger more modern generations might only bring offerings of flowers, tradition suggests full ceremonies with incense, food and burning money.

According to Sean Keacham's post of 2015 there are two small potter's fields in the corners of this cemetery.
When we visited this cemetery recently, it looked like construction was underway.  What was being constructed wasn't clear, currently the office is on Jason Street in San Francisco, are they moving it to the cemetery?

Daly City's Cemeteries  by Russ Brabec
Chinese Cemetery on Facebook
San Francisco's Old Chinese Cemetery - Sean Keacham

Find A Grave - only 88 listings

  • Chinese Cemetery  
    Address4650 Callan Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015 Phone number(650) 992-4581 

 Chinese Cemetery Association

Address34 Jason Ct, San Francisco, CA 94133  (415) 982-4148

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