Thursday, November 26, 2015

Questing Heirs Wishes All a Happy Holiday 

May your family gathering be filled with good cheer and with many stories of “the Old Days.”

image: The Graphics Fairy

Who knows—you might have a genealogical breakthrough at the Thanksgiving table!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Byron Wallace Hicks

Long Beach’s sidewalks contain impressed “signatures” of many pavers who plied their trade in the city. If your ancestor owned a construction company or worked for one of those cement contractors, our “Sidewalk Signatures” series will be of interest to you.

photo: QHGS

Byron Wallace Hicks was the son of William Soloman Hicks (born January 1, 1833 in Bodmin, Cornwall, England) and Rosetta Tear (born October 16, 1839, in LeRoy, Ohio). Byron was born September 20, 1877, in Warren, Illinois, and he married Gertrude L. Copeland in Vulcan, Michigan, on November 1, 1904. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a B.S. on Civil Engineering and was a contractor for waterworks, railways, and highways in the Midwest for many years. Byron and Gertrude came to Long Beach in the 1920s with their children, and he continued his contracting profession here. The 1928 Long Beach City Directory lists them like this: “Hicks Byron W (Gertrude L) cement contr h 2364 Atlantic av.” In the 1930 census we find Byron widowed, living with his daughter Lucy. He is described as a “contractor street paving.” Byron W. Hicks was married again in 1933 to Alma M. Brister. He died in Long Beach on June 6, 1947. Clues in his obituaries reveal that he was a Mason (he had a Masonic funeral service) and that he probably attended St. Luke’s Episcopal church in Long Beach (the officiating pastor at his funeral was the Rev. Perry G. M. Austin, D. D., who was rector at St. Luke’s during the 1930s and 1940s). He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Warren, Illinois.

RESEARCH NOTE: Sources for this sketch:;; LBPL; The Alumni Record of the University of Illinois 1913, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign © 1913; Long Beach Independent, Long Beach, California, 8 June 1947; Santa Ana Register, Santa Ana, California, 14 November 1933; Journal-Standard, Freeport, Illinois, 13 June 1947. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Our November Meeting 

If you didn’t make it to our November 15th meeting, you missed a great presentation: Chris Elia’s virtual tour of the National Archives in St. Louis.

photo: QHGS

Chris told us how the National Archives protects its documents and showed us what she found there during her two-day research trip, not only for herself, but for other members of Questing Heirs as well. Chris enlarged her slides so that everyone in the meeting room could see each document clearly, and she explained how she photographed many of the documents. Thank you, Chris, for taking us all on a wonderful adventure at NARA.

RESEARCH NOTE: There are NARA branches in several U. S. cities. Our own Southern California Branch is located at 23123 Cajalco Rd., in Perris, California 92570. Telephone: (951) 956-2000.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How to Find Digitized Newspapers 

Newspapers often tell us where and when our ancestors were born; they provide elaborate descriptions of marriage ceremonies; and they print those florid obits we love to find. But that’s not all we can discover in their pages. Graduation exercises, school plays, county fair prizes, visits by other relatives from far and near, legal notices of tax arrears, fraternal lodge meetings, participation in sports teams, church socials—town newspapers chronicled every event in our ancestors’ lives.

image: Wikimedia Commons

Which of the following two sentences makes you feel that Patrick Hanlon was a real person? “In 1901 Patrick Joseph Hanlon played baseball on the local businessmen’s team,” or “One of the most interesting events of the ball game between the Fats and the Leans was when the Hon. P. J. Hanlon caught a swallow as it passed over center field thinking it was a fly ball.” The first example comes from an automated genealogy program biography. The second example comes from a newspaper article in the May 31, 1901 issue of The Sioux County Bee, which describes the ball game, inning by inning (the Fats won, 21 to 16). If you want to make your genealogy more interesting, use newspapers to do so.

Thousands of small town newspapers were published during the 18th and 19th centuries, and many of these papers are now available online. Some companies require subscription fees to access what they have digitized, while other organizations offer their newspaper images for free.

Begin with Wikipedia’s article about online newspaper archives. It tells you which repositories offer their images for free and which require payment to view their images online. It also tells you about newspapers at library sites and lists newspapers from all over the world from Algeria to Venezuela. External links to other collections of old newspapers are at the end of the article which is available at

The Ancestor Hunt has a good collection of links to connect you with newspapers at

Historical Newspapers and Indexes On The Internet is available at

Historical Newspapers Online is at

The Library of Congress has browsable newspapers listed by state at

If you are looking for newspapers published outside the United States, search the world’s historical newspaper archives at Elephind

ICON’s page links to past, present, and prospective digitization projects of historic newspapers. The focus is primarily on digital conversion efforts, not full-text collections of current news sources, but it is an interesting website to visit if you want to know about future projects being planned at

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Marsha H. Rising

On May 10, 1986, the Questing Heirs Genealogical Society of Long Beach presented a seminar which featured well-known genealogist and author Marsha H. Rising.

photo: QHGS

Marsha gave four lectures: two talks focussed on “Problem Solving Techniques,” one taught us how to get results with “Successful Genealogical Correspondence,” and the last, “Evaluating Genealogical Sources.” explained how we should rank our sources by their importance and accuracy.

Marsha H. Rising was a Certified Genealogist who wrote many books which are still available online today. Google her name to find them. She was active in many genealogical societies and associations: FGS and the National Genealogical Society being just two examples. Marsha passed away in 2010, but her website is still active at You can find links to her publications and helpful hints for genealogical research there.

RESEARCH NOTE: The way we “do” genealogy has changed a lot since Marsha gave her “Successful Genealogical Correspondence” lecture in 1986, teaching us how to get results from well-written inquiries using a pen, paper, envelope and stamp. But the basics of good genealogical research remain the same: a concise request followed by a “thank you” when someone provides the information you ask for, will usually get results.  

Friday, November 13, 2015

John Christian “J. C.” Houck

Long Beach’s sidewalks contain impressed “signatures” of many pavers who plied their trade in the city. If your ancestor owned a construction company or worked for one of those cement contractors, our “Sidewalk Signatures” series will be of interest to you.

photo: QHGS

The son of Fred Hou[c]k and Lizzie Weipert, John Christian Houck was born in Ludington, Michigan, on August 15, 1888, and died in Los Angeles county on August 19, 1968. He registered for the WWI draft in Utah while working for a copper company; and the “old man’s” WWII 1942 draft card found him in Long Beach, working as a contractor. 1920 and 1930 censuses list J. C. Houck in the Long Beach/Signal Hill area, and his entry in the 1940 census describes him as a cement finisher living at 1425 E. 56th Street in Long Beach with his wife Minnie. His name appears in many of our Long Beach city directories under the heading “Cement Contractors.” 

RESEARCH NOTE: Sources for this sketch come from,, and the LBPL. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

November Elections at Annual Meeting 

Sunday, November 15, is our QHGS Annual Meeting. After Christine Elia gives her presentation, we will be electing officers for our 2016-2017 Board of Directors.


Members in good standing will vote for the following candidates:

Secretary – Christina McKillip
Treasurer – Michael Powers
Director-at-Large – Deborah Boughman

Nominations for the office of First Vice-President will be accepted from the floor.

Please attend the Annual Meeting and make your voice heard. Every member of QHGS is important, and we want to hear your suggestions and comments re: our programs and events for 2015, so we can make 2016 even better.