Sunday, May 31, 2015

Administrators, Teachers, and Students

If one (or more) of your ancestors attended or taught at a high school in Long Beach, California, you can look for them in 77 yearbooks online. 

image: Long Beach Public Library, Caerulea 1921

Three annuals are represented in this collection at
Long Beach Polytechnic High School’s Caerulea 1908–1955 (some years missing)
Woodrow Wilson High School’s Campanile 1928–1951 (some years missing)
David Starr Jordan High School’s Trailblazer 1936–1955 (some years missing)

RESEARCH TIP: School records are one of the most under-utilized resources for genealogical research. Discovering what kinds of educational opportunities were available to your ancestors may help you understand why they chose the occupations they followed as adults.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Fill in the Blanks

The Library of Congress offers free downloads of old family registers in its collection.


These forms were used to record important events in Bibles. Many different designs were sold between 1850 and 1895, and several of the charts are elaborate lithographs from the printing firm of Currier & Ives. If you’d like to record one of your 19th-century families on a register that the family might actually have used, download the register of your choice at

RESEARCH TIP: The Library of Congress is a marvelous resource for genealogists. Quoting from the LOC website at, you can “access online collections, view maps, and find photographs; read letters, diaries and [old] newspapers; hear personal accounts of events, listen to sound recordings, watch historic films,” and learn something new abut the United States every day on the library’s “Today in History” page at

Friday, May 29, 2015

Alfred A. Hill

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

photo: QHGS

Alfred A. Hill was a cement contractor who lived in Long Beach at 839 Belmont Avenue in 1923 with his wife Grace. 
Address Source: Long Beach City Directory 1923; Western Directory Company: Seaside Printing Co., Long Beach, California, ©1923.

RESEARCH TIP: Long Beach is a city of neighborhoods, each with a different ambiance and history. To find a list of these districts go to,_California.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Who We Are—What We Do

The Questing Heirs Genealogical Society of Long Beach, California, has been helping genealogists  create family  trees and pedigrees for over 45 years. Founded in 1969 and incorporated in 1981, the Society is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization open to the public. Our monthly meetings promote interest in genealogy by providing educational opportunities to anyone interested in discovering their family’s history.

logo design: QHGS

If you need assistance finding your ancestors, please visit our website where you will find resources not only for Long Beach, California, but for the entire Southern California area. 

RESEARCH TIP: Have you come to a brick wall on your family tree? One of our members may be able to offer a new perspective to help you move forward. If you need help, advice, or just want to ask a question, send an email to <> and we’ll get back to you!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Fire Department

The Long Beach Fire Department was organized 113 years ago, on May 27, 1902.

photo: Library of Congress at

If your ancestor served in the LBFD, you may find his name mentioned on these websites:

City of Long Beach, California
Long Beach Fire Department History–The Early Years
Quoting from the article: “On May 27, 1902, the Board of Trustees, called a citizens meeting at City Hall, with Mr.Jacob Kuhrts, an experienced Fire Commissioner from Los Angeles, as the principal speaker. From his expert knowledge of the necessity of organizing a trained group for the purpose of combating fires, the Trustees gave the go ahead signal to organize the first Fire Department since Long Beach had become a City.” Read the full-page article to see names of early fire department officers as well as volunteers.

Long Beach Firefighter’s Museum

California State University Dominguez Hills
Dateline Dominguez
Quoting from the press release: “5,000 digitized photos depicting 70 years of the Long Beach Fire Department...are now accessible online through the California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) Department of Archives and Special Collections. The collection represents the history of firefighting in Long Beach. Pictures include businesses and homes damaged by fires, oil fire devastation, plane and car crashes as well as images documenting the construction of the city’s fire stations, LBFD fire trucks and other apparatus over the decades, and fire personnel.”

RESEARCH TIP: If you’ve ever wondered about a “stranger” in your great-uncle’s wedding party (why did Gene choose him to be the best man?), the answer may lie at your relative’s workplace.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

22 Pedigree Charts

In 1971 QHGS published 22 Pedigree Charts, a compilation of members’ ancestors.

We have a copy of this book in our archives, and it can also be viewed (without the original cover) on the ExLibrisRosetta website at  

RESEARCH TIP: If your ancestor was active in a local genealogical society, there may be useful lineage information waiting for you in that organization’s pedigree files, publications, or scrapbooks.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Stephen A. Combs

In honor of Memorial Day, let’s find genealogical information about one of the Union soldiers buried at Sunnyside Cemetery.

photo: QHGS

Stephen A. Comb’s gravestone simply records that he served with the 25th Massachusetts Infantry, in Company D, and belonged to the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic), a fraternal organization of Union veterans. 

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

1. To establish the fact that Stephen A. Combs 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: 
“Stephen A. Combs, a bootmaker living in Massachusetts, enlisted in Company D, Massachusetts 25th Infantry Regiment, on 9 January 1865 as a Private. He survived the war and was mustered out on 13 July 1865 at Readville, Massachusetts.”

2. To find out if Stephen 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:
“Stephen A. Combs filed for a Civil War pension on 25 March 1889 as an Invalid. He filed this application in Colorado. His widow, Amelia Combs, filed for a Civil War Widow’s pension 25 years later, on 14 January 1914, 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:
“Stephen A. Combs, born about 1847, died on 3 January 1914, in Los Angeles county.”

4. Finally, using information from source three, we found a digitized image of Stephen’s 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 1911-1915 no 140-220 > image 1327 of 2208.
This source provided the following information:
“Stephen A. Combs was born on 10 December 1846, in Haven Hill, New Hampshire. His father was Nelson Combs and his mother’s maiden name was Cummings. Stephen died, aged 67, on 3 January 1914, at his home in Long Beach, California. He and his wife lived at 514 Ohio Avenue, and they had resided there for the 2 years that they had been residents of California. Stephen was buried in Sunnyside Cemetery, and the undertaker in charge of his interment was E. H. Cleveland.”

The four sources cited above create only the barest outline of Stephen A. Combs’ life. To find out more about him—to make his story “come alive”—we can use U.S. Census records to trace his journey from New Hampshire to Massachusetts to Colorado, and thence to Long Beach, California. We can also look at marriage records to find out when and where he married Amelia. To learn about the Massachusetts 25th Infantry, we can read books and consult online websites covering the unit’s Civil War exploits. Additionally, we can look at microfilms of old Long Beach newspapers available at the Main Branch of the Long Beach Public Library to find Stephen's obituary, as well as any articles that might describe his activities in this city. For information about the library’s newspaper holdings, go to

Stephen A. Combs’ inscription teaches us that a single gravestone may not provide any of the genealogical information we seek, but it can lead to sources that do provide the dates and names we need.     

RESEARCH TIP: When you are recording family burials in a cemetery, examine each gravestone thoroughly. Look at the front, the sides, the back, and the top for inscriptions. Photograph the gravestones from all angles so you can review the information on them when you get home. And don’t forget to take pictures of surrounding stones as well—they may be relatives you haven’t discovered yet! 

Sunday, May 24, 2015


On this Memorial Day weekend, the Questing Heirs Genealogical Society honors veterans buried in Long Beach, California.

photo: QHGS

RESEARCH TIP: Because many easterners and midwesterners migrated to Long Beach in the early 20th century, a large number of Civil War veterans from Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Ohio are buried in our city cemeteries. James Henkel has created “virtual” Civil War Veterans Cemeteries online at Find A Grave for the following city cemeteries:
Long Beach Municipal Cemetery has 101 records at
Forest Lawn Memorial Park has 9 records at
Sunnyside Cemetery has 131 records at

Saturday, May 23, 2015

City Directories

Did your ancestors come to Long Beach, California, between 1900 and 1930? 
Do you know where they lived in the city? 
You can look up addresses in a free Long Beach Public Library database which contains 56 digitized City Directories published between 1899 and 1969 (a few years are missing). 

RESEARCH TIP: Long Beach street numbering changed in 1921, and street names have also changed over time. For more information about Long Beach addresses, consult Long Beach and Signal Hill Street Names Changes: 1900-2006 in the reference section of the Main Library.