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.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Questing Heirs Wishes All a Happy Holiday 

Wikipedia tells us that, “Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors military veterans, that is, persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. It coincides with other holidays, including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I; major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The United States previously observed Armistice Day. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.”

photo: QHGS Blogger’s genealogy archive

The photograph above shows WWI Army soldier Louis R. Zito. Louis arrived in the United States from Corleto Perticara, Italy, at age 10 in 1905 with his mother and siblings. He received his U. S. Citizenship at Camp Devens by serving in the Army during WWI. He saw service in the 301st Field Artillery Regiment, part of the 151st FA Bde., 76th Infantry Division. The 76th Division was a National Army division consisting of men from the New England states and northern New York. The division camp for the 76th was (then) Camp Devens, Mass. The 76th was deployed to Europe in July 1918. Due to heavy casualties taken by US forces at St.Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne, the 76th was used as a “depot division” supplying replacements for decimated units already on the line. The 301st FA Regt. was re-assigned to the 3rd Depot Division, part of the 5th US Army Corps in France. This regiment, which originally was organized as a 75mm howitzer outfit, was returned to the US in January, 1919.

RESEARCH TIP: How many veterans are on your family tree? Do you know about the regiments, brigades, divisions, companies, etc. each veteran fought with? Research your veterans’ service histories to find out more about their lives.   

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dr. George K. Schweitzer

Thirty years ago on May 11, 1985, the Questing Heirs Genealogical Society of Long Beach presented a seminar which featured well-known chemist and genealogist Dr. George K. Schweitzer.

image: QHGS Archives

The session opened with a meeting of the California State Genealogical Alliance which was followed by Dr. Schweitzer’s presentations about military history and sources. Photographs in our scrapbook from this seminar show what an entertaining speaker Dr. Schweitzer was—he dressed the part, donning military garb from each era he discussed! We have photos of him wearing a Revolutionary War soldier’s uniform and two photos of him as Civil War soldiers—one from the North and one from the South. All attendees had a great time and learned a lot.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Tips for Successful Interviews 

Thanksgiving will soon be here. Getting people to sit down at the table isn't hard, but getting them to share their stories isn’t always as easy. That’s why family gatherings during the winter holidays are ideal situations for contacting relatives to set up times for interviews in the new year.

 image: “Grandfather’s Stories” Wikimedia Commons

Some stories may arise spontaneously as two people stand side-by-side at the kitchen sink, one washing and the other drying the dinner dishes; but most come by following basic strategies for successful family interviews. Listed below are several websites you may consult to learn how to do family interviews, when to do them, and what to ask:

RESEARCH TIP: While you are at it, why not introduce yourself to future generations who may wonder about the person who gathered all of their family stories together? Answer the questions yourself, and include your write-up with the family genealogy that you are compiling.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Howard Thomas Keltie, City Inspector

We know that Long Beach’s sidewalks contain impressed “signatures” of many construction companies and contractors who plied their trade here; and, a recent Sunday stroll in the Belmont Heights neighborhood revealed a surprise: our City inspectors sometimes added their names to cement projects as well!

photo: QHGS

Howard Thomas “H. T.” Keltie was a Long Beach City Inspector. In the 1914-1915 Long Beach City Directory he was listed like this: “Keltie Howard T city insp h 1738 E 4th.” In 1922 his wife May was included with him in the directory, and he was described as “insp public service dept”; and, his 1935 entry shows that he and May had moved to 3614 E 3rd Street. Howard and May also appear in the 1910, 1920, and 1930 censuses in Long Beach. The California Death Index says Howart [sic] T Keltie died on 6 July 1935, and you can see a photograph of Howard and May posted on the Howard Thomas Keltie public family tree at

RESEARCH NOTE: Sources consulted for this post:, FamilySearch, and the Long Beach Public Library. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Orange County Archives

Your Blogger attended a lecture this morning given by Chris Jepsen, Assistant Archivist at the OC Archives. Chris presented a “Behind the Scenes” look at what the Archives actually has in its many collections; and the breadth and depth of those holdings amazed everyone present.

photo: © Asfandyar at en.wikipedia

Archival records begin in 1889, the year Orange County separated from Los Angeles County, and they continue up to the present day in some cases; so, put the Orange County Archives on your list of genealogical repositories to visit. They are located in the old courthouse building at 211 West Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, CA 92701. 

For more information, and to access digitized images from the Archives, go to

RESEARCH TIP: If you have been unable to find obits for Long Beach family members who retired to Orange County in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, this is the place to look!  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Edward C. Woodruff

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

Edward C. Woodruff was described in the 1920 census as a cement contractor living in Long Beach at 2502 14th Street with his wife Jessie. In the 1921 Long Beach City Directory he is listed at the same address: “Woodruff Edwd C (Jessie E) cement contr h 2502 E 14th [st],” and, he is also listed in the business section of that directory under “Contractors—Cement.” The September 9, 1921, issue of Southwest Builder and Contractor mentions him, too: “Long Beach—Ed. C. Woodruff has been awarded a contract at 45c lin. ft. cem. curb and 18c sq. ft. sidewalk on Mira Mar Ave. from Colorado St. to Fourth St.”

RESEARCH NOTE: Ed Woodruff’s sidewalk signature is unusual because the city inspector’s stamp appears neatly placed between each impression. If you wish to know more about “P. Wallick, Inspector,” read his profile which was published two months ago on the September 6 blog post. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

November and NARA – Research Adventures 

QHGS member Christine Elia traveled to Saint Louis recently, and while she was there she researched military records at the National Archives.

image: QHGS

If you have ever wanted to research records housed at a NARA branch, this is the presentation for you! On November 15th, beginning at 1:15 p.m., Chris will tell us about her preparation strategy and how she requested record files before she left California. She will also tell us what she found and how she helped others with their research.

RESEARCH TIP: Remember—members of your local genealogy club can be just as knowledgable in their chosen fields as nationally known speakers are in theirs; so, don't be afraid to ask the person sitting next to you at a meeting for help. You might be researching the same surname and not know it!    

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

You Can Make a Difference!

The War of 1812 Pension Digitization Project website says, “the Pension Records from the War of 1812 are among the most requested documents at the National Archives. Unfortunately, these fragile documents are in urgent need of digitization.

image: loc

“In support of this monumental task of digitizing 7.2 million pages, has provided a dollar for dollar matching grant, so every dollar you contribute will make four more pages accessible and free for everyone.” With that in mind, please go to Preserve the Pensions and contribute:

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Norman Edgar Wright

Thirty-two years ago on May 21, 1983, the Questing Heirs Genealogical Society of Long Beach presented a seminar which featured well-known genealogist Norman Edgar Wright.

photo: QHGS Archives

Mr. Wright, who passed away in 1996, was an Associate Professor at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. An author of several books, he is best known for the volume Building an American Pedigree: A Study in Genealogy which is still available today on the Amazon website. In 1983 he gave two lectures to QHGS seminar attendees: “Migration Routes and Settlement Patterns” and “Naturalization and Citizenship.”

RESEARCH TIP: Many of Mr. Wright's books have been digitized and are available on the FamilySearch website. Click the “Books” tab, type his name, Norman Edgar Wright, in the search box, and read to your heart’s content.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Who Done It?

Eileen A. Souza, is a Maryland genealogist who researches in Anna Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick and Howard counties for clients. On her Old Bones Genealogy blog she writes about her discoveries.

Her entry of July 29, 2012, caught my eye because Eileen wrote, “Since my youth, I have been an avid reader of the mystery genre…so I began researching the mystery book market for genealogy-related mysteries….For those of you who also enjoy reading mysteries, I would like to share these discoveries.” This year Eileen posted “Genealogy Mysteries—Expanded and Updated” on her blog at
If you enjoy reading mysteries and doing genealogy, check out this amazing list!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Gravestones: But Wait—There’s More!

Always walk completely around a tombstone to get all of the information on it. Many have additional names on the back. The photo below shows the front of a gravestone in Mount Saint Benedict Cemetery, Bloomfield, Connecticut:

photo: KMG

The photo below shows the back of this stone:

photo: KMG

Names on this side of the gravestone are a daughter and son-in-law of the people memorialized on the other side.

RESEARCH TIP: Don't forget to examine the sides and the top of old grave markers—you may find additional names carved there.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Questing Heirs Wishes All a Happy Holiday 

How did your ancestors celebrate Hallowe’en? In the “old days” tricks were more common than treats.

image: “Uncle Sam’s Hallowe’en” 1904

Do you have family stories of bobbing for apples, carving Jack o’ Lanterns, or telling ghost stories? Your QHGS Blogger remembers a tale told by her father about a particular Hallowe’en night in Northern Michigan when his father, aided and abetted by several other young farmers in the area, dismantled a hay wagon and rebuilt it, piece-by-piece, on top of the schoolhouse. Imagine how surprised all of the students were when they arrived for their lessons on November first. Now there’s a real trick!

RESEARCH NOTE: Save all of the stories you can—don’t let everyday life in the early 1900s be forgotten. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Clarence Feiock

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

Clarence Feiock’s name appears in many Long Beach city directory advertising sections as a cement contractor; and, he and two of his sons, Gordon and Kenneth, are listed as cement workers in several householder indexes as well. In 1935 his entry looks like this: “Feiock, Clarence (Eliz M) cement contr 2037 E 7th street.” He was born in Wayne County, New York, in 1879, married Elizabeth M. Spillard in California in 1902, and died in Los Angeles county in 1968. Clarence was the son of Heinrich/Henry Veiock/Feiock who came to the U.S. from Leiterswieller, Betschdorf, Bas-Rhin. 

RESEARCH NOTE: Information about Clarence’s family in New York is posted on the Wayne County, New York, GenWeb page. A photo of the Feiock family reunion of 1905 shows Clarence’s father, old Henry Feiock, and obits of Clarence’s parents are available at Other sources used for this sketch: FamilySearch and 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

November’s Newsletter is on the Way 

QHGS publishes a monthly newsletter, and it is emailed to all members in good standing

image: QHGS

If you like to keep up with genealogical news in Long Beach and find out what other clubs are doing in the surrounding area, join Questing Heirs and receive the QHGS Newsletter every month. Download your membership application at

NOTE: Our newsletter received the CSGA Publications Award this year! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Resources at the Historical Society of Long Beach

The Historical Society of Long Beach has many resources available to historians and genealogists. Two of these resources are especially valuable for understanding how Long Beach has developed over the years: the City Managers’ Files and the Mayors Oral History Series.

image: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

City Managers’ Files: 
The HSLB website tells us that, “one of the most important sets of documents in the collection is the correspondence from the city manager’s office spanning the years from 1923 to 1953. During those years, many significant historical events took place including the discovery of oil on Signal Hill and in the harbor, the 1933 earthquake, and the buildup of the Navy leading into World War II. All of these events had an impact on the city, and their significance is reflected in the city managers’ files.”

Mayors Oral History Series: 
Former mayors Tom Clark, Eunice Sato, Ernie Kell, Beverly O’Neill and Bob Foster share their memories on five videos. Access these oral histories at  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Our First Seminar

Thirty-seven years ago on October 28, 1978, the Questing Heirs Genealogical Society of Long Beach held its first seminar.

image: QHGS Archives

Martha Hess and Naydean Updike chaired the seminar committee, and the event was such a success that QHGS continued to present annual seminars for twelve years. In the coming weeks we will be highlighting several QHGS seminars which featured nationally-known speakers.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

Erastus Slocum

Erastus Slocum’s headstone tells us that he served with the 9th Minnesota Infantry in Company C.

image: FamilySearch

To find genealogical information about him—his date of birth, his date of death—several online databases were visited in the following order:

1. To establish the fact that Erastus served in the Union Army, we consulted U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009. 
This source provided the following information: 
“Erastus Slocum, living in Minnesota, enlisted in Company C, Minnesota 9th Infantry Regiment, on 19 August 1862 as a Private at the age of 18. He was mustered out on 24 August 1865 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.”

2. To find out if Erastus was a Civil War pensioner, we looked for him in the National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000.  
This source provided the following information:
“Erastus Slocum filed for a Civil War pension on 24 March 1897 as an Invalid. He filed this application in Wisconsin. His widow, Minnie E. Slocum, filed for a Civil War Widow’s pension 19 years later, on 28 February 1916, in California.”

3. Using information from source two, we looked at the California, Death Index, 1905-1939 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.
This source provided the following information:
“Erastus Slocum, born about 1844, died on 13 February 1916, in Los Angeles county.”

4. Finally, using information from source three, we found a digitized image of Erastus’ death certificate on the FamilySearch® website at California, County Birth and Death Records, 1800-1994, index and images, FamilySearch, Los Angeles, Long Beach > Death certificates 1915-1919 no 221-403 > image 346 of 2705. 
This source provided the following information:
“Erastus Slocum was born on 28 December 1843, in New York. His father, Cook Slocum, and his mother, Elizabeth Smith, were both born in New York. Erastus died, aged 72, on 13 February 1916. He died while he was out walking on Orange Avenue near Arbelle Street in Long Beach, California. He had been a resident of California for 4 years, 4 months and 13 days. According to his death certificate, Erastus was buried in Sunnyside Cemetery on 17 February 1916, and the undertaker in charge of his interment was E. H. Cleveland.”

5. However, death certificates can contain incorrect information, and if you look for the Slocum gravestone at Sunnyside Cemetery, you will not find it there. A check on the FamilySearch® website of the “United States Headstone Applications for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1949” database shows that there was an application made in August of 1932 for a headstone which was shipped to the “Signal Hill Cemetery” (an old name for Long Beach Municipal Cemetery) on November 25, 1932. And, sure enough, at the Find A Grave website, Erastus Slocum’s headstone has been photographed in Long Beach Municipal Cemetery and it is displayed as Find A Grave Memorial# 9624687 at  

The five sources cited above create only the barest outline of Erastus Slocum’s life. To find out more about him—to make his story “come alive”—we can use U.S. Census records to trace his journey to California. We can examine 1913 and 1915 city directories to find out where he lived in Long Beach. 

To learn more about the Minnesota 9th Regiment Infantry, we can access an article by the Minnesota Historical Society at, and we can look on Wikipedia at  John Lundstrom has written a fascinating story about his ancestors who fought in the Minnesota 9th. It is available in pdf format at Lastly, we can also search to see if there is information about Erastus in public family trees.

RESEARCH NOTE: Researching Erastus show us that we cannot believe everything we read on a death certificate! Sometimes it takes a little extra work to locate the true place of burial. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

20th Annual Historical Cemetery Tour

From the HSLB’s website: “Beginning in 1995, the HSLB has conducted an annual living history tour at the city’s two oldest cemeteries. Located on Willow Street between Orange and California and adjacent to one another, Long Beach Municipal Cemetery and Sunnyside Cemetery are ‘home’ to more than 20,000 past residents of the city.

photo: QHGS

“The tour takes place on Hallowe’en—Saturday, October 31st—this year and features graveside presentations by professional and volunteer actors who relate the life and death of the person lying at rest. Each year’s program features a number of stories. Some are individuals who helped shape the city’s political past, and others are ordinary people whose tales remind us that rich or poor, famed or barely remembered, everyone has a story to tell. Period costumes worn by all the performers further heighten the experience with an aura of authenticity. Many guests get so involved in the presentation that they forget that it’s an actor telling the story and ask ‘what was it like to live here in 1920?’ The tour is appropriate for families and all ages. There is nothing scary about the presentations or the location. The ground is uneven, so we recommend comfortable shoes. And typically the morning is chilly but by afternoon it’s quite warm, so a removable sweater or coat is recommended. There is some parking inside the cemetery and easy parking in the surrounding neighborhood.”

If you have never been to this event, be sure to go this year. It’s a great opportunity to combine Long Beach history with your interest in genealogy because both of these cemeteries were transcribed by QHGS members forty years ago and published in the Society’s first book, Some Early Southern California Burials. Need more information? Take a look at the HSLB website where you can order tickets online and watch videos of presentations from past years to get a good idea of what takes place.

RESEARCH TIP: Genealogy societies and historical societies work hand-in-hand in their communities. The historical societies document important events and the genealogical societies record information about important families. When you are researching ancestors in another city, don't forget to contact the historical society there. Your ancestors may appear in photographs of important events available only at the historical society.  

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Saga of Bobby Dunbar

Last Sunday at our monthly QHGS meeting, we heard first-hand how DNA information was used to reunite two people of uncertain parentage to living relatives. But what happens when family questions are over 100 years old? Can DNA solve a mystery like that?

   image: This American Life

Bobby Dunbar was a boy whose disappearance at the age of four and apparent return was widely reported in newspapers across the United States in 1912 and 1913. After an eight-month nationwide search, investigators believed that they had found the child traveling in the company of an itinerant peddler, and Dunbar’s parents claimed the boy as their missing son. In 2004, DNA profiling established in retrospect that the found boy had not been a blood relative of the Dunbar family. Listen to this genealogical adventure story by clicking on This American Life, Episode 352, March 14, 2008.

Historic Mysteries at also has an article about the Dunbar kidnapping.

Want to learn more? Read the book, A Case for Solomon: Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping That Haunted a Nation, by Tal McThenia and Margaret Dunbar Cutright. It is available on Amazon at

RESEARCH TIP: DNA can help us prove relationships that our genealogical research has indicated might be in question, but it is not a “magic bullet” that answers every question. As you listen to the hour presentation from This American Life you will see how much research in newspapers and libraries went into establishing a plausible scenario of what occurred before anyone took a DNA test to confirm relationships. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

John Wesley Marshall

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

John Wesley “J. W.” Marshall was born March 10, 1882, in Carnegie, Pennsylvania. He married Mary E. Brown in Columbiana County, Ohio, in 1907, and, by 1918, he resided in Long Beach. He is identified as a cement contractor in the 1923 Long Beach City Directory, living with his wife Mary E. at 269 Bennett Avenue; and, his family is enumerated in the 1920, 1930, and 1940 censuses here. John Wesley Marshall died on 20 March 1966, but his presence lives on, impressed into the concrete sidewalks he poured and finished in our city.

RESEARCH NOTE: Sources for this sketch: FamilySearch’s digitized Ohio marriage licenses and census records, 1923 Long Beach City Directory, WWI and WWII draft registration cards, and the California Death Index.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Coming Attractions in 2016 . . . 

Responses to the Spring and Fall 2015 member surveys were quite specific—members told QHGS that they wanted more inter-active presentations, some help searching various websites, and a greater focus on writing family stories.

Keeping member preferences in mind, QHGS has engaged the following speakers for 2016 lectures:

Our January 17th meeting
John McCoy: “Family Secrets: How to Handle Sensitive Information in Your Genealogy”
Francie Kennedy: “Advanced Google Tools for Genealogists”

Our February 21st meeting
Linda Serna: “The War Between Brothers: Families Torn Asunder”
Connie Moretti: “Using Land Records for Genealogical Research”

Our March 20th meeting
Marion Werle (from the SCGS Writer's Workshop): “Beyond the Family Tree—Bringing Your Family Stories to Life” This is an inter-active presentation where we will listen, learn, and begin writing a family story.

Join us next year as we pursue our genealogy goals together, helping each other discover family relationships that break down brick walls!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Procter and Gamble

Procter and Gamble employed workers at its Long Beach plant from 1931 to 1987. If one or more of your ancestors worked for this company in Long Beach, you may be interested in the online links below.  

image: restoration ©Adam Cuerden

Read a short history of P&G’s Long Beach plant in the June 29, 1987, article “An Institution Is Fading Away In Long Beach : Procter & Gamble Closing Plant It Opened in 1931,” published in the Los Angeles Times at

The Port of Long Beach blog post of July 8, 2011, “Soap, Shortening and More,” can be found at

“Procter and Gamble Celebrates 50 Years in Harbor,” Port of Long Beach Harbor Highlights, vol.5, no. 1, Fall 1981, is online at

Four photographs commemorating the 20th Anniversary of P&G in Long Beach are available at the USC Digital Library Archives

A full-page ad for Ivory Flakes, “made in Long Beach,” can be found on page 8 of the October 26, 1948, issue of the Long Beach Independent at

RESEARCH TIP: When doing genealogy research, don’t forget to look in company archives and at in-house company publications. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Betty Marie Marr Memorial Lecture

Nine years ago on May 21, 2006, the Questing Heirs Genealogical Society of Long Beach presented two lectures by esteemed genealogist Henry Z. “Hank” Jones, Jr., FASG.

photo: from the QHGS Archives

These talks were made possible by our late member and benefactor, Betty Marie Marr. They were a gift to the genealogical community of Southern California. No admission fee was charged, and tasty snacks were provided at the break to all attendees. The turnout was large, fulfilling Betty’s dream of providing educational opportunities to local genealogists.

RESEARCH NOTE: The event described above came to fruition because Betty Marr remembered QHGS in her will and made a special bequest to our organization. We are thankful she did so, and we will honor her memory again in 2016 at the next Betty Marie Marr Memorial Lecture.   

Monday, October 19, 2015

WWI Memorabilia

Wikipedia tells us that, “the Selective Service Act or Selective Draft Act (Pub.L. 65–12, 40 Stat. 76, enacted May 18, 1917) authorized the federal government to raise a national army for the American entry into World War I through the compulsory enlistment of people. During World War I there were three registrations. The first, on June 5, 1917, was for all men between the ages of 21 and 31.”

photo: QHGS

Wikipedia also says that, “in the United States during World War I, the word ‘slacker’ was commonly used to describe someone who was not participating in the war effort, especially someone who avoided military service, an equivalent of the later term draft dodger. Attempts to track down such evaders were called slacker raids.”

Pictured above is a ribbon that was given to registrants at the draft board in Healdsburg, California. The words “No Slacker” meant that the man who received the ribbon had registered and was not a draft dodger. This ribbon is a family treasure that belongs to one of our QHGS members.

More information about the Selective Service Act of 1917, “Slacker Raids,” and WWI Draft Registration Cards may be found at the following websites:

RESEARCH TIP: What treasures like this might lie among old WWI photos in your genealogy files? Do you have funeral cards pressed between the pages of a prayerbook or missal in your family archives? Reexamine your memorabilia—who knows what you will find!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

WWII Draft Registrations: But Wait—There’s More!

Many items that look like single-page documents online actually consist of two pages, and we often forget to look at the digitized image which precedes or follows the one we are focussed on. In fact, not all genealogy websites bother to tell you that there is a page two!

image: WWII Draft Registration, front of card

The “Old Man’s” draft registration cards from WWII have a front and a back. Be sure to look at the other side which gives a physical description of the registrant. 

Let’s examine the example above:
This card is “image 445 of 2545.” It shows where Jerry Brangiero lived, where he worked, how old he was, where he was born (and when!), and lists the name of his wife. It also bears his signature. From the display online, one might assume that the above image is all there is. But wait—there's more! Go to image 446 of 2545, and you will find a physical description of Mr. Bragiero: how tall, what he weighed, color of eyes, color of hair, complexion, and where he registered.

RESEARCH TIP: “Page twos” are easy to miss. Always check the image before and the image after the one which holds your immediate attention. Why check before? Because some of the microfilm reels were digitized in reverse!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dick Eastman at SOCCGS

QHGS members are off to Mission Viejo this morning to attend a seminar featuring Dick Eastman, writer and publisher of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.

logo courtesy of SOCCGS

Dick will give four lectures at the seminar, and we all expect to learn a lot. We thank the South Orange County California Genealogical Society for engaging Dick as a speaker, and for making his appearance in Southern California possible. Keep up to date with the latest genealogy news—read Dick's newsletter at!

RESEARCH NOTE: Plan now to attend a seminar in you area next year. You will meet new people, get new ideas, learn about the latest genealogy technologies, and have fun. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Edward E. Palmer

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

Edward Ernest “E. E.” Palmer was born in England. He immigrated to the U.S. around 1886 and by 1914 he was laying cement in Long Beach. City directories list him and his family yearly, with the 1922 edition publishing this typical entry: “Palmer Edwd E (Minnie K) cement contr h 667 Termino av.” Your QHGS Blogger looked at entries for E. E. Palmer in census records and discovered that both of his sons were also cement contractors as adults. California marriage licenses for each son on FamilySearch gave Minnie K[ate]’s maiden name; and, Minnie K. Palmer’s date of death (husband’s initials EE) was easy to find in the California Death Index. Finally, an image of Minnie’s death certificate is online in the California County Birth and Death Records database at FamilySearch. It lists both of her parents’ names and tells us that she is buried in Sunnyside Cemetery here in Long Beach. Using Find A Grave, your Blogger discovered that both Minnie and Edward are buried in Sunnyside in the Daisy section, lot 94, grave 5.

RESEARCH NOTE: E. E. Palmer’s Find A Grave page is a very good example of genealogical information available on the website.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

“Family Ties and DNA” 

Have you wondered how to use DNA results to discover genealogical information about your family?

image: QHGS

Come to our October 18th meeting and hear QHGS member Christina McKillip’s lecture explaining how DNA has helped her unite families. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The National Road

Wikipedia tells us that, “the National Road (also known as the Cumberland Road) was the first major improved highway in the United States to be built by the Federal Government. About 620 miles long, the National Road connected the Potomac and Ohio Rivers and was a gateway to the West for thousands of settlers. When rebuilt in the 1830s, the Cumberland Road became the first U.S. road surfaced with the macadam process pioneered by Scotsman John Loudon McAdam.

photo: Brant Jones “Mile Marker along the National Road, Columbus, Ohio”

“Construction began heading west in 1811 at Cumberland, Maryland, on the Potomac River. It crossed the Allegheny Mountains and southwestern Pennsylvania, reaching Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia), on the Ohio River in 1818. Subsequent efforts pushed the Road across the states of Ohio and Indiana. Plans were made to continue through St. Louis, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and to the territorial capital of Jefferson City of the Missouri Territory (previously the old Louisiana Purchase of 1803, and the later part of which became the State of Missouri), upstream on the Missouri River. After the Financial Panic of 1837 and the resulting economic depression, however, Congressional funding ran dry and construction was stopped at Vandalia, Illinois, the territorial capital of the Illinois Territory, northeast of St. Louis and the Mississippi River. Today, much of the alignment is followed by U.S. Route 40, with various portions bearing the Alternate U.S. Route 40 designation, or various state-road numbers (such as Maryland Route 144 for several sections between Baltimore and Cumberland).”

If you have ancestors who traveled west on the National Road in its 1820–1835 heyday, the following websites will help you feel like a pioneer, too:

The National Park Service has an historical overview with a fine map and good illustrations at

Legends of America devotes a page to the National Road at

The Federal Highway Administration site has a “Highway History” section with an article about the National Road at

RESEARCH TIP: Don’t forget to use Cyndi’s List as your best “online links” source. Cyndi has 12 links devoted to the National Road at

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

“Find A Grave for the Family Historian” 

Have you wondered how to use the Find A Grave website to discover genealogical information about your family?

image: QHGS

Come to our October 18th meeting and hear Dick Humphrey’s lecture about using the site to grow your family tree.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Questing Heirs Wishes All a Happy Holiday 

Wikipedia tells us that, “Columbus Day first became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1906, and became a federal holiday in the United States in 1937, though people have celebrated Columbus’ voyage since the colonial period.

photo: 1912 Columbus Day Parade Washington, D.C., loc

“In 1792, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. During the four hundredth anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic rituals were framed around themes such as citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress. Many Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage, the first occasion being in New York City on October 12, 1866. Columbus Day was first enshrined as a legal holiday in the United States through the lobbying of Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian, in Denver. The first statewide Columbus Day holiday was proclaimed by Colorado governor Jesse F. McDonald in 1905, and it was made a statutory holiday in 1907. In April 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus and New York City Italian leader Generoso Pope, Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed October 12 a federal holiday under the name Columbus Day.”

RESEARCH NOTE: How did your ancestors celebrate this holiday? If they were Italians who lived on the East Coast, did they march in the annual parade in New York City?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ship Manifests: But Wait—There’s More!

Many items that look like single-page documents online actually consist of two pages, and we often forget to look at the digitized image which follows the one we are focussed on. In fact, not all genealogy websites bother to tell you that there is a page two! Ship manifests are a good example of this. The later passenger lists, after 1906, have two pages. Information on the first page tells us where the immigrant was from, and of course it is valuable to genealogists trying to find the town or village of origin for our ancestors. But information on the second page tells us where that immigrant was going once they arrived in the United States, and that can be just as valuable in different ways.

image: NARA microfilm series T715, roll 996, volume 2212

The image above shows the second page of the S.S. Cretic manifest from the ship’s arrival in New York City on 21 September 1907. Just like census records, ship manifests reward careful examination. Read each column heading to ascertain exactly what is being asked of the immigrant. When we look at this part of the passenger list we read a question in column heading 18: “Whether going to join a relative or friend and if so, what relative or friend and his name and complete address.” Concetta D’Ascenzo answered that question like this: “uncle Giovanni D’Ascenzo 271 Box New Canaan, Conn.” A family puzzle was solved by this one-line entry: the “uncle Giovanni D’Ascenzo” in New Canaan was related to the D’Ascenzo family in Chieuti, a tiny commune in Southeastern Italy.

RESEARCH TIP: With two-page manifests, follow the immigrant by numbered line: “8” on the first page will be “8” on the second page although the name will not be repeated on the second page.    


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Vital Records: But Wait—There’s More!

Information may be written on the back of vital records, especially those older than 1920. 

image: QHGS Blogger archives

The example above is the other side of my grandmother’s marriage certificate of 1906. It has her mother’s and father’s signatures on the back giving their consent to the marriage. 

RESEARCH TIP: Death certificates documenting children who died in diphtheria epidemics often have descriptions of elaborate burial preparation procedures on the back; and, birth certificates may include the doctor’s filing date on the back. Always turn your documents over to make sure you have not missed any important information!