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

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Order of the Owls

by Barbara Ebel

Portion of an envelope circa 1915

As I’ve been scanning the Layng and Tinney mortuary files, I’ve run across men who belonged to an organization called “Order of the Owls” which I’d never heard of.  In googling the topic, I found it was a fraternal organization founded in 1904 in Indiana by John Talbot.  Its purpose was to assist other members in business, obtaining employment, and assisting widows and orphans of members.

Arthur Preuss: A Dictionary of Secret and Other Societies 1924
The descriptions of this society go on for over two more pages 

“Owls do good, speak kindly, shake hands (there was, of course, a secret handshake) warmly, and respect and honor their women.”  Membership was open to white males, most of them Catholic.  

The San Mateo County Historical Association has a web page about the Owls.  There are many other Owl images on the web, but most are listed as “may be subject to copywrite” so no more are included here.  You can google them, though, if you’re interested.  

Redwood City’s branch (called a Nest) disbanded in 1997.

San Mateo County Historical Association - Order of the Owls  
Order of Owls - Wikipedia


If you would like to give Barbara a hand scanning the mortuary files (either at the library or in the comfort of your own home) contact 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

SMC Newspapers: The SSF Enterprise

Press room interior early 1900s
SSF Public Library Photostream on Flickr

The Enterprise was established as a weekly in South San Francisco in 1895. The first publisher was Ebenezer E Cunningham. Through much of it's existence it remained a weekly although in the mid twentieth century it was a semi-weekly for a period of time. The name on the masthead went through a number of renditions as noted in the list below, but those changes did not always signal a change in ownership.

E E Cunningham
Biographies of
Representative Men

The paper was first located at 261 Grand Street, moving in
the 1900s to 312 Linden Ave and in 1931 to 411 Grand Ave.  In 1964 the San Mateo County Times purchased the Enterprise and moved it to 323 Mayfair Ave.

In Reminisences of SSF and the Enterprise Journal, Vincent Mager tells some of the early history of the Enterprise Journal which was a pioneer in many areas, including being the first newspaper west of the Mississippi to adopt the offset press in 1942.  This allowed the inclusion of more and better pictures. 

  • The Enterprise Vol. 1, no. 1 (Nov. 9, 1895)-v. 35, no. 5 (Jan. 28, 1927) Publisher E E Cunningham  Microfilm UCR, SSFPL (possibly original as well), CA Lib starts 1907, 
  • The enterprise and the South San Francisco journal. Vol. 35, no. 6 (Feb. 4, 1927)-v. 46, no. 42 (Oct. 21, 1938) (South San Francisco [Calif.])  Concord Publishing Co. 1927-1938 Microfilm UCR, SSFPL  
  • The Enterprise  Vol. 46, no. 43 (Oct. 28, 1938)-v. 54, no. 43 (Oct. 26, 1949) Publisher: Aleen E. Bramble and Logan L. Franklin Microfilm CALib, SSFPL, 
  • South San Francisco enterprise. Vol. 54, no. 44 (Nov. 2, 1949)-v. 55, no. 12 (Mar. 22, 1950) Publisher: Aileen K. Bramble, Logan L. Franklin Microfilm CALib, SSFPL, 
  • South San Francisco enterprise-journal. Vol. 55, no. 13 (Mar. 30, 1950)-62nd year, no. 45 (Nov. 7, 1957) Publisher: Aileen E. Bramble, Logan L. Franklin Microfilm CALib, SSFPL, 
  • South San Francisco enterprise-journal and shopping time.  62nd year no. 46 (Nov. 14, 1957)-64th year, no. 42 (Oct. 18, 1961) Publisher: Industrial City Pub. Co Microfilm CALib, SSFPL, 
  • Enterprise-journal and shopping time.  64th year, no. 43 (Oct. 25, 1961)-72nd year, no. 28 (July 10, 1968) Publisher: Industrial City Pub. Co Microfilm CALib, SSFPL, 
  • Enterprise-journal . 72nd year, no. 29 (July 17, 1968)-76th year, no. 42 (May 26, 1972) Publisher: Industrial City Pub. Co Microfilm CALib, SSFPL, 
  • South San Francisco enterprise-journal 76th year, no. 43 (May 31, 1972)-83rd year, no. 16 (Feb. 23, 1979) Publisher: Industrial City Pub. Co. Microfilm CALib, SSFPL, 
  • Enterprise journal. (Recorder-progress) 3rd year, no. 17 (Feb. 28, 1979)- Publisher:
    Industrial City Pub. Co. Microfilm CALib, SSFPL,    
  • Sold to San Mateo Times in 1980

CA Lib - California State Library
UCR - University of California Riverside - Newspaper Master Files 
SSFPL - South San Francisco Public Library

City of SSF - Facebook - A bit of HistoryBiographies of Representative Men - E E Cunningham pg 129 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Barry's Bits and Upcoming Events

18 Aug 1890 San Francisco Chronicle

Crystal Springs was not without troubles as evidenced by this tragic report of a drowning in 1890.

                       Upcoming Events                          

Thu, Feb 14, 2018 – Workshop, Hispanic Genealogy: Spanish Records

2:30 am–4:00 pm; Cañada College Library Computer Lab, 4200 Farm Hill Blvd, San Mateo
Free for Cañada College students, faculty, and staff. SMCGS Members $5, Non-members $10.
Presenter: Lucy Jennings Sweeney

Discover how to ss as baptism and marriage, where to find records for your country and town, and learn about the Spanish naming system. Plus receive a resource list of online/print materials.

Lucy is a San Francisco native who graduated from UC Berkeley. When she retired from teaching, she began investigating her heritage which spans roots in both Mexico and Ireland.

Sat, Feb 23, 2019 – City Directories
10:30 am–12:00 pm; Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo, entrance in back

Presenter: Pamela Brigham

City directories sometimes are referred to as census substitutes, yet they are much more. They are a source to an inside view of your ancestor’s life. You can track cities that your ancestors lived in over the years, develop a history of the town, and view social meetings that your ancestor may have attended.  The pictures in city directories can provide a rich window into what your ancestors may have seen as well. 

Pamela Brigham is the President of the Silicon Valley Computer Genealogy Group and a devotee of using technology in genealogy.  She teaches classes in genealogy including using online research programs.

Sat, Mar 23, 2019 – Lies, Lies and More Lies:  Can DNA Solve My Parental Lineage
10:30 am–12:00 pm; Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo, entrance in back

Presenter: Jeff Vaillant

From Research to Story – A Writing Workshop
Saturday, March 30, 12:00-1:30 pm
Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
 Bring your research and family lore to life through writing compelling stories. This workshop will help you generate ideas and focus on powerful storylines to create family history stories for future generations. Come to have fun and share creative ideas with your writing peers.
Craig Siulinski teaches genealogy and life story writing classes, and does presentations on blogging, location research, and other family history topics. Craig is passionate about helping people research, write and share their life stories. 

Finding Power in Your Family’s Story – A Writing Workshop
Thursday, April 11, 2019, 2:30-4:00 pm
Cañada College Library Computer Lab, 4200 Farm Hill Blvd, San Mateo
Finding Power in Your Family’s Story – A Writing Workshop
 Tell your family story in a way that engages, inspires, and changes perspectives. Find transformational gems in plain sight. Using a 7-step process, you will learn how to develop your authentic voice and to create a compelling story worthy of publication that may change your life and the lives of others.
Regina Mason is an international speaker, an award winning author, and Executive Producer of the docudrama, Gina’s Journey: The Search for William Grimes.

Workshops are $5 for SMCGS Members, $10 for Non-Members
Workshops are FREE to Cañada College Faculty, Staff & Students 
RSVP required.  Send email to: 

Save the date for the SMCGS Spring Seminar
               with Michael John Neill
National Lecturer on Genealogical Research
Practical, Down to Earth, with Just the Right Amount of Humor

Saturday, May 4, 2019
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Menlo Park LDS Hall, 1105 Valparaiso, Menlo Park
Ticket sales open on February 15, 2019

Barry Hinman and Mary Lou Grunigen volunteer at the San Mateo County Genealogical Society library located at Canada College in Redwood City. They welcome members of the Society and visitors who would like a tour of the library and an introduction to its holdings. They are also available, of course, to consult about genealogical problems or research strategies. They are there from 1:00-4:00 on the second Tuesday of every month if the Canada library is open to the public on that day.