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!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

Questing Heirs member Kathy Oehlman Latham has “paid it forward” by performing an Act of Genealogical Kindness for the unknown relatives of L. S. Cook.

photos: QHGS Newsletter April 2014

Kathy received some letters and photographs from her mother, Margaret Bailey Oehlman. Margaret had them because they had belonged to her father, Terry E. Bailey, and she knew that Kathy would want to have her grandfather’s correspondence since it was of genealogical interest. When Kathy examined the bundle, she decided to send scans of the photos and letters to the Sonoma County Genealogical Society (SCGS) just in case descendants of the letter writer/photographer still lived in Healdsburg or Windsor. Kathy knew nothing about L. S. Cook, the man who sent these letters and pictures to her grandfather whom he addressed as “Friend Terry” in the letters, but she assumed that her grandfather must have known Mr. Cook when he lived in Healdsburg and worked as a mechanic on both autos and airplanes because the photographs document the building by L. S. Cook of an airplane and a race car.

Photos of the race car clearly show background buildings in a town that one member of SCGS identified as Windsor, California; so, with Kathy’s permission, SCGS also gave copies of the scans to the Historical Photographs Department of the Sonoma County Library. Kathy’s “mystery photos” from 1928 and 1929 of the plane, its wings, struts, and hand-made machine parts, complete with individual shots of shock absorbers, pistons, and the disassembled motor with its propeller, were featured in the Spring 2014 edition of the SCGS journal, The Sonoma Searcher, accompanied by scans of the letters L. S. Cook wrote to Kathy’s grandfather.  

It is quite possible that Kathy will never find out if the photos and letters reach any of Mr. Cook’s descendants; but some day, far in the future, a genealogist looking for information about L. S. Cook may come across these documents and thank her silently for sharing them with SCGS. 

Why not “pay it forward” yourself and send scans of your old “mystery photos” to the genealogical or historical societies in your research area(s)? You may be contacted by people eager to identify the photos’ subjects; and, you will be preserving history, earning thanks from future genealogists.

RESEARCH NOTE: Have you been the recipient of a “Random Act of Genealogical Kindness?” Tell the QHGS Blogger about it by posting a comment below. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Promote Your Society with “Genwear”

Wear a QHGS t-shirt and/or cap to the next genealogical seminar you attend, and let everyone know you’re a Questing Heirs member.

photo: QHGS

Take notes at the conference in your QHGS journal, carry all of the handouts in your QHGS tote, and, when you get home, drink your coffee or tea from a QHGS mug. Our promotional merchandise is easy to order. Just go to the QHGS website at and click “Shop” in the left-hand column of choices. When the Shop page opens, click on the “cafepress” logo at the top left of the page. This will take you to the company’s QHGS page where you will be able to purchase the following items: men’s t-shirts, men’s golf shirts, men’s long-sleeve t-shirts, women’s t-shirts, women’s long sleeve t-shirts, caps, totes, mugs, boxes, and journals, all carrying the QHGS logo.

Be proud of your organization—advertise your affiliation by using and wearing QHGS merchandise!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

C. W. Johnson

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

In the 1923 Long Beach City Directory, C. W. Johnson is listed like this: “Johnson Chas W (Annie) cement contr h 334 E 17th,” and in the 1928 Long Beach City Directory, he is listed like this: “Johnson Carl W (Annie S) cement contr h 235 E 16th.” Looking at census records from 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940, we can surmise that Carl/Charles was born in Sweden c.1872 and became a naturalized citizen in 1922. More research would have to be done to prove either date, however.

RESEARCH NOTE: Information about C. W. Johnson was surprisingly difficult to find. The QHGS Blogger used,, and the Long Beach Public Library website, but Carl’s date of death, burial place, and obituary remain elusive.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What They Tell Us about Our Ancestors

Genealogical research in Québec always begins with church registers, either Catholic or Protestant (or both). The problem with these registers is that they tell us only three facts about our ancestors’ lives: when they were baptized, when they married, and when they were buried. Once you have exhausted the Drouin collection at and the Québec Parish Records online at, what do you examine next? The notarial records!

image: FamilySearch

Québec towns and counties have no “Probate” category in the FHL microfilm catalogue, nor are there “Land and Property” microfilms available. So where are the land/deed records we all use that tell us where members of our family lived? Where are the probate files that we search to discover what kind of life-style our forebears enjoyed (or didn’t!) by reading their wills? For that matter, where are the wills and the guardianship papers which we find transcribed in other Canadian provinces and in United States county probate records on microfilm?

In Québec, this valuable information is contained in notarial records because notaries were charged with creating legal documents (Actes) which recorded all of the above matters of everyday concern: contracts between employers and employees; wills; estate inventories and disbursements of property to heirs; land sales; land grants; land transfers; marriage contracts (the original “pre- nups” of their time); guardianship papers regarding minor-aged children...the list goes on and on and on.

It’s obvious that notarial records are useful and interesting. To find out more about them and how to access them, start by reading the “Québec Notarial Records” article on FamilySearch’s
WIKI. To read more about what each type of record offers, Marlene Simmons’ website has an excellent article posted online. You can find out which judicial district your ancestors lived in by Googling “Wikipedia AND Québec AND Judicial Districts.” Once you have found the correct district, you are ready to go to the library—the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, that is. It’s the “NARA” of Québec. Access their notarial records online at and begin your search. If you are lucky enough to know which notary your ancestors used, you can find him by name. If you don’t know the notary’s name, you can search the judicial district in which your ancestors lived and examine the records of each notary listed who worked during the time frame that includes your family.

Happy hunting and bonne chance!

RESEARCH TIP: Marriage contracts and wills with their inventories are the notarial records most often used by genealogists; but, don't forget to look at land sales as well! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fighting for Canada in 1914–1917

Do you have U.S. ancestors who crossed the border and enlisted early to fight for Canada during WWI? Canada entered the war on August 4, 1914, when Britain declared war on Germany, three years before the United States did so on April 6, 1917; and, genealogical information on the Canadian enlistment records is much more extensive than on U.S. WWI draft registration cards.

image: loc

Americans Fighting in Canadian Forces: The “American Legion” 
Find out about the Americans who fought for Canada in WWI at Then click on the link at the bottom of the article to view rosters of U.S soldiers in the 97th Battalion, the 211th Battalion and the 213th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.

Wikipedia’s description of the “American Legion” Battalions:
97th Battalion, CEF
embarked for Britain on 19 September 1916 to provide reinforcements for the Canadian Corps in the field. Based in Toronto, Ontario, the 97th was commanded first by Lt.-Col. A. B. Clark and second by Lt.-Col. W. L. Jolly. 
211th Battalion, CEF was based in Vancouver, British Columbia. After sailing to England in December 1916, the battalion was transferred to the Canadian Railway Troops in March 1917. The 211th had one Officer Commanding: Lieut.-Col. W. M. Sage.
212th Battalion, CEF was based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It disbanded while still in Canada, and the men were transferred to the 97th Battalion, CEF. The 212th had one Officer Commanding: Lieut.-Col. E. C. Pitman.
213th Battalion, CEF was based in Toronto, Ontario. After sailing to England in January 1917, the battalion was absorbed into the 4th reserve Battalion. The 213th had one Officer Commanding: Lieutenant Colonel B. J. McCormick.
237th Battalion was based in Sussex, New Brunswick.

RESEARCH TIP: Library and Archives Canada holds the personnel records for the 600,000 Canadians who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War (1914-1918). To identify the file references for nurses, chaplains and soldiers, you can search the Soldiers of the First World War database at

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Departement du Bas-Rhin Vital Records

Departement du Bas-Rhin vital records include: parish registers from the 16th century to 1792; 10-year indexes and civil registers of births, marriages and deaths from 1793 to 1912; and a register of family names chosen by Jews in 1808. Three million images are in the database, and access is free. This is one of the most user-friendly departmental archive sites currently online. You do not have to read French to use it because the graphics are so well-designed.

photo: QHGS member archives: “Alsace Ancestors in Schiltigheim

Find your ancestors in Bas-Rhin by going to the conditions by checking the box by “J’accepte ces conditions,” and then, when two lines of type appear below, click on “Accéder à la version graphique.” A new window will open, and you will use a small keypad to click on the first letter of the town that you want to research. In a moment, all of the towns beginning with that letter will appear listed in alphabetical order. Click on the village you want, and the beautiful graphic interface will arrive on your screen.

You’re ready to begin! A sliding bar at the bottom of the screen lets you navigate the time line easily. Parish registers are on the far left; Catholics are first and Protestants are second. The “books” are color-coded; registers, both parish and civil, are green and indexes are red. White volumes are special. They may signify missing records, or they may direct you to other towns where the records you seek are located. Double-click on any volume and it will “open” to display its digitized images or its directions for researching additional records in other towns. A “bookmark” will let you know which volumes you have consulted.

Print individual pages by clicking “imprimer” at the top of the page. The document will appear positioned on a virtual sheet of paper. You can enlarge, reduce, or rotate it using buttons at the bottom of the page; and in the “Annoter votre document” area you can type information about the record itself. Click “Valider” in the lower right-hand corner, and your document will be printed with a light archival watermark that does not obscure the image. To return to the volume and pages you were looking at previously, click “Retour.”

RESEARCH TIP: All this and censuses too! Yes, census records exist for the years 1819–1885; and access is free at, another branch of the Bas-Rhin Archives. You will be dealing with two languages in Bas-Rhin; so, print the French and German Genealogical Word Lists available at FamilySearch in the WIKI to help you translate your documents [the October 1, 2015, blog post explains how to do this]. More information about the Alsace region and its genealogy resources is available at

Saturday, October 3, 2015

County Histories

Francie Kennedy, Past President of the South Orange County California Genealogical Society, gave a presentation about county histories at the Orange County California Genealogical Society today, and your QHGS Blogger went there to learn all about them. Francie packed so much information into her hour lecture that I’m still processing it all.

During the next few weeks we will discuss various ways to access county histories and, once we’ve found them, we’ll explore how to use what we find in them. So stay tuned for some interesting genealogical adventures!

RESEARCH TIP: Many county histories have been indexed and/or transcribed by volunteers on the U. S. Genweb. Begin searching for them there.   

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Oregon Trail

Wikipedia tells us that, “the Oregon Trail was a 2,200-mile historic east–west large-wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon. The eastern part of the Oregon Trail spanned part of the future state of Kansas and nearly all of what are now the states of Nebraska and Wyoming. The western half of the trail spanned most of the future states of Idaho and Oregon.

image: NARA

“The Oregon Trail was laid by fur trappers and traders from about 1811 to 1840 and was only passable on foot or by horseback. By 1836, when the first migrant wagon train was organized in Independence, Missouri, a wagon trail had been cleared to Fort Hall, Idaho. Wagon trails were cleared further and further west, eventually reaching all the way to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. What came to be called the Oregon Trail was complete, even as improved roads, cutoffs, ferries and bridges made the trip faster and safer almost every year. From various starting points in Missouri, Iowa or Nebraska Territory, the routes converged along the lower Platte River Valley near Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory and led to rich farmlands west of the Rocky Mountains.

“From the early to mid-1830s (and particularly through the epoch years, 1846–1869) the Oregon Trail and its many offshoots were used by about 400,000 settlers, ranchers, farmers, miners, and businessmen and their families. The eastern half of the trail was also used by travelers on the California Trail (from 1843), Bozeman Trail (from 1863), and Mormon Trail (from 1847) before turning off to their separate destinations. Use of the trail declined as the first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, making the trip west substantially faster, cheaper, and safer. Today, modern highways such as Interstate 80 follow parts of the same course westward and pass through towns originally established to serve those using the Oregon Trail.”

If your ancestors migrated westward on the Oregon Trail, be sure to access Wikipedia’s entire article at

RESEARCH TIP: The Oregon Trail is one of the best known routes to Oregon and, thence, to California and Washington; but, there were many other trails followed by our relatives. An excellent place to begin researching your ancestors’ routes west is the American Migration Patterns website at This site has charts, links to many other webpages devoted to particular routes and trails, and important information from the National Park Service. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Can You Read French? / Pouvez-vous lire le français?

Do you need to decipher documents written in languages other than English? It isn’t difficult to teach yourself how to do it because lists of genealogical terms in many languages are available at the FamilySearch Wiki.

image: 1814 marriage record Antoine Benoit

To access a pdf copy of genealogy terms in the language you need go to the FamilySearch website and click “search.” When the “search” home page opens, click “WIKI,” and enter whichever language you need, followed by the words “Genealogical Word List.” Like this: “French Genealogical Word List,” “Latin Genealogical Word List,” “Italian Genealogical Word List,” etc. Then click the search button. You will get a list of numbers, days of the week, times, months, occupations, relationships—everything you need—in the language you have requested with its English equivalent.

RESEARCH TIP: Once you’ve figured out basic information in your ancestor’s foreign language records, transcribe the documents you have and use Google Translate to hep you understand more of their content.