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

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

SMCGS Sharing Stories 2019

Chez Yvonne
 Terry Blaine

Andre Frelier was French and his restaurant, L’Omelette in Barron Park reflected his warm French hospitality.  It was a favorite of Stanford students for its cozy lounge around an open fireplace, good drinks at reasonable prices and rarely checked ID’s.

Andre’s wife, Yvonne, was also French, but French Moroccan, and had a firey personality.  Their marriage ended, and to spite Andre, Yvonne opened her own restaurant in Mountain View – Chez Yvonne.  The atmosphere there was similar to L’Omelette, but had an extra edge to it, and checked ID’s even less frequently.  Both restaurants were important to the atmosphere of the area.

Decades later, both L’Ommies and Chez Yvonne had disappeared.  I started a new company in a field which never existed before in the Bay Area – condominium association management.  One of my first accounts was Los Altos Square. 

Condominiums were a new concept, and the developer had created an innovative, attractive community.  The new board of directors didn’t really know what their responsibilities were, but they knew they should have some rules.  They decided that all cars must be parked in garages.  There was one townhouse that always had a car outside in the driveway. The Rules Committee instructed me to contact who-ever it was down in that Townhouse 43 to find out why that car was always in the driveway.  I procrastinated, but finally I rang the doorbell, Yvonne Frelier answered the door.  She was thrilled to see an old customer and I was thrilled to see her.  She invited me in to see her house.  It was lovely, but there were differences between a condominium and a single-family home which sometimes made it difficult for a developer to sell both the concept and the home.

The developer of Los Altos Square was a really nice person, but he would have sold his grandmother if he could make a deal.  Yvonne told him that she had to have a family room.  In order to sell the townhouse, he made a deal with Yvonne that she could convert her garage to a family room.

She insisted that I see her creation in the garage.  It was a full-sized Moroccan bar.  A huge zebra skin covered the floor.  The mahogany bar glowed from layers of bar-top varnish.  Above the bar, a false roof of palm fronds concealed soft indirect lighting.  Behind the bar, glass shelves held rows of exotic liqueurs which were probably left-overs from Chez Yvonne.

Then she said, “Meet my kitty – here kitty, kitty”.  I heard 100 decibel purring, and out from behind the bar came a full-grown cheetah.  With a smile on its face, it rubbed its chin on my leg like any affectionate cat and purred even louder when I scratched behind its ears.

I said, “Yvonne, I don’t know you, I have never been in your house, and I don’t have a clue what sort of deal you made with the developer”.  Fortunately, the Rules Committee forgot about cars parked in driveways and went on to more important issues.  But a wink was sometimes exchanged between Yvonne and me.

Chez Yvonne lives on in a garage in Los Altos

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Seminar with Judy Russell: the Legal Genealogist

The Law, GPS Evidence, and DNA Ethics

Saturday, November 2, 2019,  9 am - 3 pm. Doors open at 8 am.
Menlo Park LDS Church - 1105 Valparaiso, Menlo Park

Join us for a day of gaining insight about genealogy, more than you may have thought.
Judy Russell is a genealogist with a law degree and is one of the best thinkers and lecturers in the field. Her talks are delivered with good humor, perception, and thoughtful connections. She will address law in our ancestors' time, conducting solid research, and ethics surrounding today's DNA testing.
  • Finding the Law
  • The Law and Reasonably Exhaustive (Re)Search
  • DNA and the Golden Rule: The Law and Ethics of Genetic Genealogy
  • No Vitals? No Problem! Building a Family through Circumstantial Evidence


  •  8:00 – 9:00       REGISTRATION & Time to Browse our Silent Auction Items & Book Sales
  •  9:00 – 9:15      INTRODUCTIONS
  •  9:15 – 10:15    LECTURE ONE - Finding the LawTime and time again, we’re told as genealogists that we need to look at records in the context of the law at the time and in the place where the records were created. Easier said than done! With 50 states and the federal government all passing laws, how do we find the laws we need?
  • 10:15- 10:45 BREAK
  • 10:45 – 11:45   LECTURE TWO The Law and Reasonable Exhaustive (Re)Search They’re the building blocks of any genealogy: wills, deeds, vital records. Once we've gathered records from all areas where our ancestors lived, we tick off that GPS—what once was called the “reasonably exhaustive search.” We have, we believed, examined “a wide range of high-quality sources” and therefore minimized “the probability that undiscovered evidence will overturn a too-hasty conclusion.” Or have we?
  •  11:45 – 12:45   LUNCH   Time to check out the Silent Auction Items, Book Sales and the Family History Center
  •  12:45 – 1:45   LECTURE THREE  DNA and the Golden Rule: The Law and Ethics of Genetic Genealogy Whose permission is needed to test a child or an adult unable to consent? Who owns our DNA? What can we disclose about a cousin who has tested? The rules of the road for the ethical challenges facing genealogists interested in using DNA evidence as part of their family history research. Learn how applying the Golden Rule can guide us through many if not most of the situations in which we as genetic genealogists find ourselves.
  •  1:45 – 2:00  BREAK
  •  2:00 – 3:00   LECTURE FOUR No Vitals? No Problem!Building a Family through Circumstantial Evidence - A Family for Isabella When there’s no birth, marriage or death record, what’s a genealogist to do? Learn how to use circumstantial evidence to build a family. This case study involves tracing a woman married before the 1850 census.

 The Legal Genealogist, Judy G. Russell CG®, CGL℠, writes and lectures on topics ranging from using court records in family history to understanding DNA testing. On the faculty of numerous genealogy institutes, she is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, from which she holds credentials as a Certified Genealogist and Certified Genealogical Lecturer. Her award-winning blog is at

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Barry's Bits and Upcoming Events

San Francisco Examiner

                       Upcoming Events                          

Sat, Aug 24, 2019 10:30 am–12:00 pm, Free
SMCGS Work Day: Indexing
CaƱada College Library Computer Lab, 4200 Farm Hill Blvd, San Mateo.
Coordinator: Cath Madden Trindle, SMCGS Publications Chair

SMCGS members and other interested individuals are invited to join us as we begin an index to the early San Mateo County Board of Supervisor Minutes. These contain references to early settlers. No experience is necessary. If you can read and write your skill will be of use. Digital images will be available on lab computers.


Sat, Sep 28, 2019 10:30 am–12:00 pm, Free
What You Don’t Know About
Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo, entrance in back.
 Crista Cowan, The Barefoot Genealogist,
Many of us are not aware of everything there is to know about Come along and learn as Crista shares her deep and wide knowledge of to open up new avenues of
research for all of us. Crista Cowan has been employed by since 2004; her involvement in family history,
however, reaches back to childhood. A professional genealogist, Crista has spent thousands of hours discovering, documenting and telling family stories.

Sat, Oct 19, 2019 – Researching Ancestors in Historical Events: A Salem Witch Trials Case Study
10:30 am–12:00 pm, Free. Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo, entrance in back.

Presenter: Melinda Kashuba
If your ancestor participated in or lived near the area of a major historical event, this talk will help you discover how to draw upon narratives penned by historians and other researchers to fill in your ancestor’s story. A case study on the Salem Witch Trials will highlight techniques that you can use for events in which your ancestor was involved.

Melinda Kashuba holds a PhD in geography from UCLA and is a popular lecturer on many topics including American research and maps. 

Sat, Nov 2, 2019 – FALL SEMINAR 
The Law, GPS Evidence, and DNA Ethics
9 am–3 pm. Members $50, Non-members $60. After Oct 25 & Walk-ins, add $10. LDS Hall, 1105 Valparaiso, Menlo Park
Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist

Join us for a day of gaining insight about genealogy, more than you may have thought. Judy Russell is a genealogist with a law degree and one of the best thinkers and lecturers in the field. Her talks are delivered with good humor, perception, and thoughtful connections. She will address law in our ancestors’ time, conducting solid research, and ethics surrounding today’s DNA testing.

REGISTRATION OPENS THURSDAY, AUGUST 15. Please register early, this event may sell out.
Everyone is welcome at SMCGS events.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

SMC Newspapers: The Free Press

Found in Remington's 1893
The run of the Free Press is currently unknown and only one issue seems to be available in the California State Library.

The free press. : (Redwood City, Cal.) 1893-1???  
Geographic coverage: Redwood City, San Mateo, California   
Publisher: Frank H. Owen
Dates of publication: 1893-1???
Description: Began in 1893.
Frequency: Weekly
Language: English
Subjects: California--Redwood City.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01215157 
Notes: Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 18 (Aug. 18, 1893).
LCCN: sn 95061995
OCLC: 33823815
Holdings: California State Library  <1893:8:18>
(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
AFL - Alameda Free Library
SSFPL - South San Francisco Public Library