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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

SF History at Hyde Street Pier

By Maggie Melany

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