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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

San Mateo County First Families

SMCGS has revamped their First Families Project.  First Families Promoter, Laurie Coulter, is the first to say it was a complicated process for the non-genealogist.    She would like to extend the following welcome to the new program, and also to invite anyone interested in getting started to the SMCGS meeting this Saturday.  There will be a First Families/San Mateo County Round Table Session, where we will explore the many online resources for finding information on your San Mateo County Families.

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Welcome to the San Mateo County Genealogical Society FirstFamilies Project!

Do you have relatives or know of someone who lived in San Mateo County in the 1880's? the early 1900's?

Do you know anything about them, like where they lived or worked or sent their children to school?
Perhaps you  have a picture of a house or business or land that identifies when or where the person was in the early development of the county.

Perhaps you have a diary or letter or business journal or map.

All of these things help to create the story. What story? The story of how people lived and contributed to the growth and development of the area.

The San Mateo County Genealogical Society is interested in these stories and learning more about the ordinary people who came to this area following their dreams. We have shelves in our library dedicated to these stories.

Our First Families Project is designed to assist friends, relatives, school children, scouts, and anyone interested in sharing these stories. We provide assistance with finding proof of residency and will assist you if you get "hooked" and want to delve into finding all the public documents related to your person or family.


Laurie Coulter

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Meyer's Family at Searsville Lake - Laurie Coulter
There are three categories of early pioneers in the First Families Program:
Founding Families – Ancestors who settled before 1879
Early Settlers – Ancestors who settled between 1880 and 1905
Century Families – Ancestors who settled between 1906 and 100 years ago.  
You will find the requirements and the needed forms for a First Families Submission on the SMCGS Website.  

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

SMCGS Sharing Stories 2017

My Roommate

June Baxter


My head was filled with thoughts of summer drawing to a close and the scary new world of junior high school looming ahead, when my parents announced that my grandmother, who had not seen me since I was nine months old, would soon be coming to share my bedroom with me.

I happily asked, “Will she play cards with me?” They smiled and said probably not.

Soon my room was reconfigured—my shelves went to the garage, childish drawings came down from the walls, a drawer and a portion of the tiny closet were emptied to hold her few garments. None of this really mattered to me, for as an only child, I was looking forward to having a roommate!

Sweet Anna Mary Krecek Pazderka, age 84 years (to my 12), made the long journey by bus from Omaha, Nebraska, to Palo Alto, California, with my mother’s older brother, Jim. I had not seen photos nor even talked on the phone with her.

As I look back now, I wonder what her thoughts were as she left the only home she had known since traveling with her family from then-Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) when she was about five years old. I’m sure she was delighted to finally be able to spend time with her precious daughter, but what about rooming with a pre-pubescent girl?

Once Grandma was safely ensconced in her new abode, I set off with great trepidation to the first day of junior high. I was soon immersed in mountains of homework, accordion lessons, and much to my chagrin, ballroom dancing lessons.

A quiet lady who had led a hard life as a widowed mother of two young children and worked in a meatpacking plant in Omaha to support them, Grandma loved sitting in a chair by the living-room window and gazing across the street at Matadero Creek. She neither read nor played cards, but watched a favorite soap opera on our newly purchased—and first—TV and faithfully dried the dinner dishes every evening.

When Grandma became ill my senior year of high school and my mother sat up with her all night, every night, I either slept on the couch or at our next-door neighbors’. After a few months, she moved to a nursing home just eight miles away; my mother even learned to drive so she could visit every day, with my dad and me accompanying her on weekends.

One day toward the end of May, filled with end-of-year angst, I came home to find my mother and several close friends sitting in the living room. I asked how Grandma was.

(From my diary): “To my greatest sorrow, I learned that my beloved Grandma passed away this morning at 7:00. At first I didn’t cry because I was really glad for her sake—and Mom said that she didn’t have it very easy. Then I really cried. I loved her so…”


Grandma was two months shy of her 90th birthday. It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood and appreciated how she had enriched my life with her quiet resolve, acceptance and gentleness. How grateful I am to have had her as my roommate. April 2017

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June Baxter was born and raised in Palo Alto, lived and raised her three children in Campbell and has now retired to Half Moon Bay. June was a high school English and business teacher for 25 years and currently writes the senior page for the Half Moon Bay Review as well as editing and writing newsletters for the state parks and the HMB history association.  She says she has little genealogical expertise, but her son is exploring her mother's history in Omaha, NE and she hopes to get more involved in the future. 

© 2017 June Baxter - Please contact SMCGS for use of any portion of this story.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

SMCGS Databases Online: Miscellaneous Ledgers

The Miscellaneous Registers for San Mateo County date from late 1856.  Register 7 goes into 1892.  At that point separate registers had been created for leases, mortgages, lis pendens and other record sets found originally only in the Miscellaneous Registers.  However, some of all those record types still find their way into the Miscellaneous Registers instead.

Besides leases, mortgages and lis pendens, you can find builders contracts, assignments, tax certificates, bonds, judgements, power of attorney, decrees of distribution and much more.  There are a number of maps tucked into the volumes.  In some cases there is a copy of the map as well as an original with a note that the original had been stolen but has now been restored to it's original home.







Some of the records in the early books were in Spanish and there are a few that are recorded in both Spanish and English.

Unfortunately, these books were not digitized.  Miscellaneous Registers 2-38 are located in the County Record Center.  Register one is not with them, perhaps it is at the Recorder's Office in Redwood City. To obtain copies of records found in the registers, contact the San Mateo County Recorders Office.    

An Index to Volumes 1-7 SMCGS Miscellaneous Registers  Indexes to later volumes are located on the same shelves with the Registers.