29 December 2010

California Quotes: Pleasant Odors

"In California the happy New Year comes without the wishing. Balmy air, golden sunshine, refreshing showers, pleasant odors, verdant landscape, and attractive blossoms, charm the eye and please the senses, leaving no yearning for a happier New Year, if the physician is absorbed in his calling, for he will be deriving sufficient pleasure from its study to supply all other lackings."

From: The California Medical Journal, Volume 10, No. 1, p. 29. Published 1889.

28 December 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Thieves are Busy

From: The Oakland Tribune, 13 December 1910


During the absence of the family last night, between 6 and 10:30 o'clock, burglars broke into the residence of Mrs. R. Walters at 422 Twenty-eighth street and stole jewelry valued at $124. The thieves worked carefully and the burglary bears the mask of habing been committed by professional v[?]gmen. The front door was forced open by using a jimmy, and the rooms were thoroughly ransacked, every portable article of value being taken.

A room thief entered the suite occupied by Miss May Mullender at 915 1/2 Washington street yesterday afternoon, and stole a purse containing $32 in gold and silver coin. A $25 automatic revolver was stolen from the B[?]ain company at 908 Broadway yesterday.

Mrs. AR Baldwin of the Associated Charities of 808 Broadway reported to the police this morning that a small purse left on a bookcase at the headquarters was stolen by a man who visited the place. The purse contained $38.

27 December 2010

Life on the Victorian Farm

We spend a lot of time reading about, studying and researching people who were farming during the 1880's, but it can be difficult to truly appreciate the details of our ancestors' lives, when the minutiae are so easily overlooked.

I spent a few hours last night enraptured by the BBC series "Victorian Farm" which originally aired in 2009. (Luckily for those of us stateside, it is available in its entirety on YouTube. Link below.) Along the lines of Frontier House, Colonial House and 1900 House, the series takes some historical scholars and plunges them into the day-to-day life of a farm in 1880's Shropshire. The result is a very detailed and fascinating recreation of a tumultuous yet sincere era.

Anyone with agricultural roots (and in the US, that is most of us) will find lots to appreciate in this series. Apparently the BBC is currently airing a related series, Edwardian Farm, video for which is not available to anyone in the US who isn't spoofing their IP. (Again, that is most of us). In the meantime we'll have to enjoy Victorian Farm and hope some kind soul shares more of the ongoing agrarian drama with us in the future:

22 December 2010

California Quotes: Christmas in California


When little children in the East
Are playing in the snow,
I live in California
Where winter roses grow.

While they are sliding on the ice,
And snow is on the land,
I am playing in the ocean waves.
And digging in the sand.

No sleigh bells ever tinkle,
There are no snowbells here,
But oranges grow on the trees,
And flowers all the year.

Yet Santa Claus remembers us
He brings us pretty toys,
And puts them in our stockings
For little girls and boys.

Our Christmas tree with gifts and lights
Is trimmed so fair to see,
And a little silver Christ-child
At the tiptop of the tree.

-M.S. Hosmer

From: Recitations and Dialogues for Special Days in the Sunday School, Number Two, p. 150. Published 1919.

21 December 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Jumps Out of a Wagon

From: The Oakland Tribune, 06 December 1910

A. Alvis, Business Man of Oakland, Seriously Injured and May Die

Leaping from a milk wagon directly in the path of a speeding automobile, A. Alvis was hurled twenty-feet through the air and alighted at the side of the boulevard on his side, suffering injuries which may prove fatal. The accident occurred about noon today on the boulevard near Fiftieth avenue, Dr. J. M. Shannon of 28 Orange street being the driver of the automobile. Alvis is a business man and lives at 420 Thirteenth street, and has been taken to the Shannon sanitarium by order of the physician.

An investigation was made by the police, and according to their findings, it is not thought that Dr. Shannon is to blame for the accident.

Little is known concerning the injured man other than that he was well dressed. He is a married man. The injuries consist of bruises and lacerations, and possible internal injuries which may prove fatal.

15 December 2010

California Quotes: We Roll Upon Our Lawns

"A California Christmas is all good. The earth rejoices, the skies give thanks and are glad. We do not have to be happy between shivers, nor imprison ourselves lest Nature slay us. All is joyous together. The rains have come, and with them the Resurrection. There are new heavens and a new earth; a turquoise arch above an emerald floor. The birds can keep Christmas, too--and a winter which even a goose has too much sense to inhabit is not fit for christians.

We roll upon our lawns, or swing in hammocked verandas, or gather roses from the bushes that over-run the house, and sniff the breeze across the orange-blossoms--while above the dark-green orchard the ieffeable snow-peaks of the Sierra Madre climb twice and tall on the blue sky as the loftiest mountain in the East. And in the air is such a tang of freshness and strength and inspiration that to drink it is like breathing champagne.

We sit out and read out, we ride, drive, walk, take a swift plunge into the Pacific surf and out. The children do not need to be burglar-proofed against colds, or croup, or pneumonia. Day-long they are are out of doors, undeterred from God and Nature, and so with better bodies and minds, and hearts--but the same old child-faith in Santa Claus."

From: Out West, Volume 3, p. 68. Published 1895.

14 December 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Secret Wedding

From: The Oakland Tribune, 06 December 1910

Secret Wedding Revealed By Bride's Chance Remark

As a culmination of a romance which began during their school days, Miss Hazel E. Reid and Francis W. Edwards slipped away to San Rafael October 26 and were married by Rev. Griffin M. Cutting of St. Paul's Episcopal church.

The news of the marriage had been kept a secret from the families and friends of both young people, but it was revealed yesterday by a chance remark dropped by the bride.

The youthful bride has been living with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Reid of 1224 Twelfth street, who had no suspicion of their daughter's secret marriage.

Both young people declare that "they did it for a lark" and that there was no opposition to the marriage from either family.

08 December 2010

California Quotes: The First Christmas Tree Ever

"I will give you a little story of two Christmas days in Los Angeles. One the first of these Christmas days, I have reason to believe, was held the first Christmas tree ever prepared in Southern California. In 1857 Los Angeles could boast of but a limited residence section. The plaza formed the center of the city. North of it were the adobe homes of the native Californian population, while south of it were the few business houses of that date and the homes of the American residents. Los Angeles street marked the eastern boundary, and beyond large vineyards and orchards extended toward the Los Angeles river. First street, open only to Main, marked the southern limit of population, except, perhaps, a few homes just the other side of it.

On Main street, between First and Court, there was in those days a long row of adobe houses occupied by many of the best families of primitive Los Angeles. This neighborhood was often designated "the row", and many are the pleasant memories which yet linger in the minds and hearts of those who lived there in "good old days" and who still occasionally meet an old time friend and neighbor. In "the row" lived an Englishman and his wife-Carter by name. Their musical ability was often a source of great deligh to those about them, and they possessed the faculty (well called happy) of bringing to a successful issue matters pertaining to the social entertainment of others. So it was that about the year 1857, when it was proposed that a union Christmas tree be prepared, Dr. Carter and his wife were prime movers in the affair.

Where not stands the McDonald block was the home of Dr. Carter, and it was there that many Los Angeles families enjoyed in common the gaily decorated tree which had been so lovingly prepared by the many willing hands of friendly neighbors. The childer were, of course, the honored guests, for the thought of the littles ones had incited the work of preparation.

Los Angeles, into which no railroad came, was in those days far away from the world, and the limited resources of the time would restrict even Santa Claus' possibilities. But on that Christmas eve no limitations were felt, for the true spirit of the Christmastime illuminated each and every heart. Dr. Carter officiated as Santa Claus, while music and songs, dancing and games and the pleasant chatter of friends completed the evening's festivities. That night the children of Los Angeles, than whom none of their successors are happier, did not retire until the wee small hours of Christmas day."

From: "Olden Time Holiday Festivities" by WH Workman, as found in the Publications of the Southern California Historical Society, Volume V, p. 23. Published 1901.

07 December 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Missing License

From: The Oakland Tribune, 05 December 1910

William V. Bryan Gives Up Hope of Marrying When Paper Shows Up.

Driven to distraction by the disappearance of a marriage license from his pocket at Sacramento, Saturday night, William Vose Bryan, a wealthy real estate man about to give up hope of marrying Miss Mary Dennison Mitchell of this city that evening, when he thrust his hand into his pocket for the last time and discovered that the document had reappeared. Mystified, Bryan and his fiance, left their hotel in an auto and were made husband and wife, and it was not until their return that they were made aware of a prank that had been played upon them.

Bryan was in Sacramento with the Mystic Shriners conducting the ceremonies attending to the taking of a number of initiates at the capital over the [?] sands. He had arrived on the Western Pacific hours in advance of his bride, who reached the capital with her prospective mother-in-law, Mrs. W. J. Bryan, and Mrs. H. P. Booth, on the Eldorado flyer of the Southern Pacific.


Bryan was at the station to meet the party, and after taking them to the Capital hotel spent more than an hour in locating the deputy of the county clerk's office, who looks after the issuance of marriage licenses. The license was finally obtained, however, and Bryan returned with it to the htoel, where several Shriners were waiting to greet him in the lobby.

During the congratulations, one of the Shriners filched the license from Bryan's pocket. Unaware of the theft, Bryan was about to escort Miss Mitchell into the waiting automobile a d drive to the home of Rev. A. R. [?]tton of the Congregational church, when he suddenly discovered the loss of the license. Bell boys, clerks, and maids about the hotel were kept busy searching for the license, while the waiting automobile was chugging outside.


Bryan was on the point of going in search of another license, when he thrust his hand into his pocket and found that it had reappeared. It was not until then that he was aware of the prank that had been played upon him.

The marriage ceremony was brief, and Bryan and his bride returned to the hotel, where the gathering of Shriners and other friends were waiting to congratulate them a second time.

Mr. and Mrs. Bryan returned to San Francisco last night and will take up their home at the Bryan home, 2002 Buchanan street. They will leave shortly for a tour of the South.

30 November 2010

Tribune Tuesday: A Very Nervous Man

From: The Oakland Tribune, 26 August 1904

This is Reason of Mrs. Sietz Coming to This City

Mrs. Seitz, formerly a lodging house keeper was arrested this morning by Policeman Caldwell on a warrant from San Francisco, charging her with feloniously defrauding Minna Dun?e out of a large sum of money in the sale of a lodging house at 62 Ellis Street, San Francisco.

Mrs. Seitz states that there is nothing in the accusation. She says that she paid $1,600 for the lodging house and sold it for $1,200.

In explaining why she had come to this side of the bay, Mrs. Seitz said that she had lost money and that her husband was a very nervous man and that it would kill him if he knew that the money had been lost. She says that she intended to earn the money which was lost by working.

24 November 2010

California Quotes: Whiskey Diggings

"A thick haze veiled the horizon and rendered the sunset less pleasing than we had expected to find it. A hurried walk of an hour in the twilight brought us to a small mining camp called Whiskey Diggings where we found good accommodations for the night, and to our surprise, found it a very quiet, sober place in spite of its suggestive name. I learned that the peculiar name of the camp originated as follows: Three Irishmen went there two or three years before from an adjacent mining camp to prospect, taking a bottle of whiskey with them, and returned drunk and reported that they had discovered not gold but "whiskey diggings," and the place was ever afterward called by that name."

From: My Adventures in the Sierra, by OG Wilson, 1902, p. 117

23 November 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Jack London Deeds Lot

From: The Oakland Tribune, 30 August 1904

Jack London Deeds Lot and Will Build the House

As part of the settlement with his wife in regard to their property rights, a deed to a lot on Thirty-first street, with a builder's contract for a pretty shingled cottage was filed for record this morning by Jack London, novelist and newspaper writer, who is being sued by Bessie Maddern London for a divorce. She is to have the same until she marries again, in which case by a provision in the deed the property is to revert to him.

The land was purchased from AJ and Sophie Snyder for $1,575 and building to be erected is to cast $2,175. It is a 45-foot lot, about midway between Grove and Telegraph avenue, on the south side of Thirty-first street.

At the time of the withdrawal of the injunction restraining London from drawing any of his salary as war correspondent or royalties from his books it was stated to Judge Greene that the property rights had been settled out of court. The first complaint in the divorce action filed by Mrs. London, containing several typewritten pages of the misdeeds of London, was also withdrawn, and a second complaint filed, charging simple desertion as the ground for the suit. The building of a home for Mrs. London follows along with other arrangements made in regard to the settlement of their difficulties.

A default has been entered against London in the divorce action now pending in the court, and the matter has been referred to the Court Commissioner Clarence Crowell for the taking of testimony.

17 November 2010

California Quotes: Grotesque Feet

"A walk of a few minutes from the north steps of the Del Coronado brings us to an ostrich farm. Why the word farm is applied to it, I hardly know. It has a comparatively small area of ground, perhaps an acre. It is bounded with a close fence, high enough to prevent the escape of the ostriches. Of these there are thirteen, in a sort of corral, inside the inclosure [sic]. Their two-pronged, grotesque feet have beaten every sign of vegetation from the arena; and they have the pleasure of sauntering about over the sand as in their native desert. Some of these solemn creatures are black as to their wing feathers and tail, others a kind of saffron color; and both varied with patches of white. Some parts of their bodies present only a surface of wrinkled skin. The beak is rather useful than aggressive in its construction; and the eye is the most strangely introspective organ that I have ever seen in bird or beast. It suggests to you that the possessor has been studying into the mysteries of Buddhism, and expects, in due course of time, to enter into Nirvana."

Photo from Outwest Magazine, Volume VI, 1896, p. 138.

Text from Transactions of the American Horticultural Society, Volume V, 1888, Page 321

16 November 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Severely Beaten

From: The Oakland Tribune, 18 August 1904

Charles P. Tye is Laid At Rest in Grave

The funeral of Charles P. Tye, the prize figher who lately went insane through the effects of a fight and afterward died, was held to-day from the parlors of a local undertaking establishment. The funeral was conducted under the auspices of Oakland Aerie No. 7, Order of Eagles.

Tye leaves a widow, Mrs. Lucie Tye, and two children, Frank and Charles Tye.

The deceased was well known in local sporting circles. He was by trade a butcher, but previous to engaging in that occupation he had made a record as a prize fighter. During the butcher's strike he resigned from his union and went back to his old profession of pugilism. A fight in Dietz Hall, the opera house, in which he was severely beaten, resulted first in his losing his reason, and afterwards his life.

10 November 2010

California Quotes: Isolated Cottages

"The Livermore Sanitarium was started in 1893 by Dr. John W. Robertson for the treatment of nervous and general diseases. Since 1894, however, it has been practically devoted to the treatment of mental diseases.

In 1912 Dr. V. H. Podstata, formerly superintendant of Elgin State Hospital, Illinois, and Dr. Willhite of Dunning, Chicago, became interested in the institution, since when it has been conducted under the joint names of Drs. Robertson, Podstata and Willhite.

There are no large buildings, but many isolated cottages, some for single individuals, and all without either window guards or enclosed restraints. All patients receive individual nursing and care.

The general hydropathic building was completed in 1906 and occupies grounds entirely separate from the cottages."

From: Insitutional Care of the Insane in the United States and Canada, 1916, Volume 2, p. 59. Photo from Oakland: Athens of the Pacific, 1897, p. 38.

09 November 2010

Tribune Tuesday: The Same Tent

From: The Oakland Tribune, 09 August 1904


George Petroff, a laborer employed on the main lake sewer, reported to the Chief of Police this morning that he had been robbed of $20 last night. He lays the crime at the door of Joseph Jones, a colored man, who took lodgings in the same tent with him last night. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Jones. Petroff says that he had the money in his trousers which he placed under his head on going to bed. He was not awakened by the process of extracting the money.

04 November 2010

Are You A Real Genealogist?

Well, it's that time of year again, when we all start getting bored with ourselves and start wondering if other people we deal with online are "real genealogists" or not.

In the interest of transparency, I have decided to provide anyone interested with a flowchart of my own gauge of your genealogical realness, as decided by me, using my own criteria. Sort of a mind-map of how I am judging you whenever I read your blog/forum post/wiki edit/diary entry/doctor's note/grocery list. Just so everyone knows where I think they stand.

Click on the image to get a readable version. Good luck, and here's hoping you are a real genealogist like me!

03 November 2010

California Quotes: The Mansion of Mr. Yount

"We stopped for a night at the hospitable mansion of Mr. Yount. This old man had led an adventurous and chequered life, in the course of which he had fought under Jackson at New Orleans, and in the Seminole war, had been taken prisoner by the Indians, and actually bound to the stake. He had been a hunter and trapper, and Indian fighter at large, in the heart of the continent, until his combative propensities were gratified--and he finally found himself one day at the "jumping-off place," and made his first attempt at ocean navigation on the bosom of the broad Pacific. In the unpretending skiff of an otter-hunter, often unaccompanied save by his trusty rifle, he coasted the shores and islands of California, in search of the pelt of his valuable prey.

While employed one day (in the year 1836) in his regular pursuit, he chanced to steer his skiff into the navigable creek or estuary of Napa, rightly judging it a place of resort for his furry friend.

The valley was then inhabited by none but Indians, and he made his way up to a beautiful spot, a few miles from his boat, which had been selected for a rancheria by a tribe called the "Caymus". Here he sat down to rest, when suddenly there flashed upon his mind, like a gleam of light, a long-forgotten prophesy of an old fortune-teller in his native state. He declares that the Sybil had predicted the spot of his future residence in terms exactly answering to the description of this valley, including all the accessories of grove, plain, mountain, river, and even "medicine-water" as the Indians call the springs.

The old man pondered over this prophecy, counted his gains, which had been considerable, and philosophized over the vicissitudes of human life--not forgetting, however, to examine the valley more carefully.

On his next visit to Monterey, he became a citizen of California, and obtained a grant of land embracing the charmed spot indicated by the western witch."

From: A Tour of Duty in California, 1849, p. 93.

02 November 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Hospital Cases

From: The Oakland Tribune, 03 May 1904

Hospital Cases

Harry Dawson is the victim of a gamecock. He went to the Receiving Hospital today with a hand badly swollen with blood poisoning and is in a dangerous condition. He lives at 657 Jefferson street. He explained that he had a "stag" whose natural spurs he had not yet cut off. The cock took a fly at him the other morning and stuck his finger, and the bad hand is the result.

Masagi Kobaushi, a Japanese, went to the Receiving Hospital suffering from a dog bite. He lives at 533 Sixteenth street and told Steward Harry Borchert that a dog had sprung upon him and bitten him. He was suffering from a lacerated wound in the left thigh.

George O'Hare of 1641 Market street was the victim of a soda water bottle this afternoon, which struck him in the forehead and inflicted a bad laceration, which needed several stitches to med. He said that two men were fighting and one threw a bottle which missed its mark and struck him in the forehead.

20 October 2010

Online Reading on the Kindle

I received a Kindle as a gift in December of last year, and have been using it to read public domain books from Google Books since that time. As a tool for genealogical research (well, background research), the Kindle has been helpful, and I love it because it represents a nexus of my inner bibliophile and Scrooge. For the past year I have been using my Kindle to read a variety of books on early California history, as well as the wagon migration to California across the plains, all for free.

Another Way

One other way to use the Kindle for research purposes which I haven't seen mentioned is Instapaper. At heart, Instapaper is just a simple bookmarking tool, but the benefit of it is that you can export the content of your bookmarks to a Kindle-friendly format, which you can then move to your Kindle.

I have a hard time focusing enough to read long articles online at my computer, so I "instapaper" longer articles to read at my leisure in my prime reading time, which is in bed before I go to sleep. The translation of the web page to the Kindle isn't always perfect, but it is nice to be able to read a web article or blog post--photos, graphs, and all--in my bed, even though I don't have a laptop at the moment!

15 October 2010

New on GooBooGenI

I don't know about you, but September has a tendency to slip away from me every year, and here it is, the middle of October! This year September was particularly eventful--my Mom turned 80, my daughter started crawling and my son started preschool--so I hope my absence can be excused!

At any rate, I have been working on the Google Books Genealogy Index site, (GooBooGenI), and have added two features which I think will be useful: commenting and user registration.

Anyone can see comments, but users will have to register to leave comments on book pages. I'm hoping that this will serve as a good place to make notes for other users about particular books--which ones are interesting, which ones are full of mistakes, which ones are best skipped. For example, I left a comment about a great book I read recently!

If anyone has any questions about this, just leave a comment!

29 September 2010

California Quotes: Eggs in the Early Days

"And yet eggs in the early days were very dear; and it would have seemed as if there was great encouragement to produce them. The clipper ship John Bertram, said to be the first clipper expressly built for the California trade, arrived on its first voyage in the summer of 1851 and among other things brought out ten thousand dozen eggs, which sold for ten thousand dollars."

From: History of California, 1898, Volume 3, p. 882

28 September 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Persistent Youth

Persistent Youth Annoys Young Woman

From: The Oakland Tribune, 22 May 1906

The persistence of Fera Pavero, a nineteen-year-old youth, in annoying Miss May Kammeler, of West Oakland, resulted in his arrest late last night on a charge of disturbing the peace. He went to the young woman's home at Seventh and Wood streets, it is alleged, and created such a disturbance that she called the Policeman Fenton and had his arrested.

22 September 2010

California Quotes: Clear Brandy of San Jose'

All the woolen goods made were coarse and suited to the necessities of the time, for in the early days of the country the government tolerated no display of luxury. Father Duran well understood how to make wine and aguardiente; clear brandy of San Jose' which came out with the appearance of clear water, was colored with a sirup [sic] made with burnt sugar. The color was then a light yellow. The brandy was double-distilled, and therefore very strong.

From: California Pastoral, 1888, p. 449

21 September 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Petty Offenses

Petty Offenses Reported to Police

From: The Oakland Tribune, 15 May 1906

The record of petty offenses committed yesterday and within the last few days and formally announced today by Chief Wilson is considerably in excess of that made known yesterday and on preceding days.

JB Butter reported the theft of a dress-suit case and contents

JA Gonigle of the WUTC lost a watch chain and charm

D Robbins colored who resides at 811 Center street was fleeced while asleep in a card room in a cigar store on Seventh street between Willow and Wood streets, of $5

MP Connolly of 1065 Thirtieth street was relieved of a watch

George Ruth, a boy, was deprived of 75 cents

ER Horsewell of 154 Eighth street had his pockets picked on Broadway

William F. Gartelmeyer of Livermore was relieved of a suit case near First street and Broadway

John Beal and Richard O'Day are now going without bicycles which others have appropriated

The police are endeavoring to run down the lawbreakers.

17 September 2010

The Not-So-Secret Vital Records of Mrs. Beeton

I re-watched the BBC drama "The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton" last night (on Masterpiece Theater). The movie is about the original Martha Stewart who published "Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management" in 1861, a book that became a manifesto to a burgeoning middle class and the women who ran their households. The BBC drama is an oddly-mixed humor and tragedy story about the Beetons, and the supposed syphilitic condition of her husband which resulted in the sad deaths of three children in the early years of their marriage. Isabella (Mayson) Beeton died shortly after childbirth from puerperal fever, when she was 28.

I decided to take to the intertubes to see what I could find of the Beetons in vital records, since the story was an interesting one, and hey--who needs an excuse to do some people hunting? My search was particularly fruitful!

Young Isabella
Isabella was baptised 20 April 1836 at Saint Mary, Bryanston Square, in Westminster; she was the daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth Mayson. From the baptismal book:

Isabella's father, Benjamin, passed away on the 28th of July, 1840 (from the Register of Burials for Guildhall, St Botolph Bishopsgate):

As of the 1841 census, Isabella is living with her grandfather, John Mayson, in Orton, Cumberland:

On 27th March, 1843, Elizabeth Mayson remarried, this time wedding Henry Dorling, a prosperous widowed businessman (from the Saint Mary, Islington, Register of Marriages):

In 1851, Isabella is residing in Surrey with her mother and step-father, Elizabeth and Henry Dorling:

Introducing Samuel Beeton
According to the drama, Samuel Orchart Beeton was a swaggering young man, known for gambling and the enjoyment of women; the photo to the left shows the young man in 1854. A braggart entrepreneur, he was brash and a risk-taker. Apparently, Isabella's father-in-law initially forbade the marriage; even when the nuptials did finally take place in 1856, he refused to attend the ceremony. The marriage was registered in the 3rd quarter of 1856.

By the time of the 1861 England census, Samuel and Isabella were residing in Harrow, Middlesex, along with their household help and their young son, Samuel (the second Samuel; the first had died at 3 months old in 1857). It was at the time of this census that Samuel and Isabella were working on the Beeton Housekeeping Book:

The second Samuel Orchart Beeton's death was recorded in the 1st quarter of 1863; according to Wikipedia, he died from scarlet fever on New Year's Eve, 1862, while the family was on vacation in Brighton:

After Isabella's Death
Isabella died shortly after giving birth to her fourth son, Mayson; she was buried 11 February 1865, in Norwood Cemetery, Lambeth, Surrey:

In 1871, the widowed Samuel Beeton, along with sons Orchart and Mayson, resided in Swanscombe, Kent, in the home of Charles and Matilda Brown. Matilda, who had begun writing for the Ladies' magazine published by the Beetons prior to Isabella's death, became an editor of the magazine after Isabella passed away. (I love that in 1861, Isabella, who wrote a huge portion of the book bearing her name, was just the wife of a publisher, but by 1871, Matilda Brown is clearly an editor unto her own!):

Samuel Orchart Beeton died 06 June 1877 (from the National Probate Calendar):

A photo of the couple's headstone at Norwood Cemetery can be seen on Findagrave.

15 September 2010

California Quotes: The Teeth of California

It is universally acknowledged by not only dental surgeons but medical men generally, that the teeth of the human family in California are in a much worse condition than in any other State. And from parents to children this lamentable condition of those important organs increases as it is entailed, until it has become with many scientific gentlemen a serious questions: "Shall an approaching generation in California be toothless?"

From: California State Agricultural Society Report, 1876, p. 92

California Quotes: Coyote Diggings

Coyote Diggings: Small shafts sunk by the gold miners in California, so called from their resemblance to the holes dug or occupied by the coyote. This animal lives in cracks and crevices made in the plains by the intense summer heat.

The coyote diggings require to be very rich to pay, from the great amount of labor necessary before any pay-dirt can be obtained.- Borthwick's California, p. 138

From: Dictionary of Americanisms, 1889, p. 156.

14 September 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Made Insane By Loss of Son

Made Insane By Loss of Son

From: The Oakland Tribune, 08 May 1906

Crazed by grief over the loss of her son, who is supposed to have perished in the San Francisco fire, Mrs. Anna Kelly of that city has sat and moaned at the Providence Hospital, refusing food or relief in sleep, until she has become a raving lunatic.

She is now confined at the Receiving Hospital, but this evening she will be taken to the Stockton Asylum for the Insane.

Mrs. Kelly, who is a native of Ireland, 50 years old, went to Providence Hospital soon after the earthquake and has since been treated by Dr. Reinle. It as at first thought that she was suffering from nervous prostration, but all efforts to induce her to sleep or eat proved futile and her mind rapidly gave way until she became so violent that it was deemed necessary to confine her in the State hospital.

09 September 2010

New Google Instant Search

I was going to write a post on Instant Search which Google rolled out yesterday, but as usual, ResearchBuzz has gotten to it first, and done it better. I highly recommend the following article for in-depth exploration of the new instant search, tips on searching, complaints about the new feature, and how to turn it off, if you hate it:

Google Instant: Breaking It, Gaming It, and The Future, from ResearchBuzz

08 September 2010

California Quotes: A Perch For Instance

"At four PM, on board the "New World" steamer for Sacramento, en route to the mountains. A great crowd on board, smoking and spitting everywhere-one cannot walk in the saloon without kicking over "spittoons" as the receiver is called, the very sight of which invites a discharge from an American mouth. Supper on board--tea, coffee, cakes and bread; a steak at one end of the table, innumerable small dishes up and down the sides, holding--some one meat-chop, some a small fish each, a perch for instance, others contain one slice of ham, others again two baked potatoes, and so on; these dishes are cleared with a very natural rapidity, and the less energetic gentleman must be contented with bread and butter; for this, one dollar and a half is paid."

From: California: Its Gold and Its Inhabitants, Volume I, pp. 37-38

07 September 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Cut By Trunk


From: The Oakland Tribune, 01 May 1906

D. J. Crowley, baggageman at the station of the Southern Pacific at First and Broadway was struck in the face by the corner of a trunk, in a passings [sic] truck load yesterday morning, and a right angled gash an inch or more long each way from the corner cut in his face just under the eye. The cut laid the flesh open to the bone. Steward Harry Borchert at the receiving hospital stitched the wound up.

01 September 2010

Online Family Trees- Good, Bad or Ugly? Or, a Rant in D-Minor.

I'm still thinking about Lynn's post from July about the worth (or problems) of online family trees. Her summation that the situation represents information chaos is a pretty acute one, but as I said in a comment to her post, I've fallen on the "what can I do?" side of the argument, and have decided to keep my tree online, despite the drawbacks. Her discussion was more about what happens when bad data goes viral via sloppy family trees, but I thought I would consider the issue in a more personal way in this post, since that's how I've been thinking about it. My experiences with online trees, both my own1 and others, have been all over the map, and I've seen the good, the bad, and the rather ugly.

The Good

I have certainly been guided gently through the research process by a few outstanding, detailed and well-sourced trees. These are few and far between, I know, but they do exist, and I am grateful to these people for putting what they have found online, to keep me from having to recreate the wheel. I like to think that by putting my tree online, I can or will save another researcher a few years by sharing the things I've learned. I get caught up in elaborate daydreams where we join research forces and push through the family tree with the power of multiple researchers, each utilizing their own skills and geographic resources to get to the truth! In short, I fantasize that my online tree will spawn a group of genealogical superheroes. Needless to say, this dream has yet to materialize.

The Bad

Of course, it can be disheartening to page through a site like Rootsweb, and see page after page of Broderbund, "WFT est.", or no citations at all. At all! I would much rather see a reference to IGI or Ancestral File, which would at least tell me that the author of that tree is as clueless as myself on the matter, but seems to know it. Yet when I see a tree with no citations, I still wonder: Does this person know something I don't know? The void in the Sources section is sometimes more suggestive than it ought to be.

And if you should email some of these researchers... so much the worse! How does one ask, nicely of course, "How do you know what you know?" without it seeming like "Hey moron, what kind of crap is this in your tree?" Typically, queries to people with no sources result in no response. I never hear back what I am hoping to hear: "Great-Grandmas's twelve page memoir" or "The old family bible from 1835!". I get, instead, a harsh and cricket-filled silence2.

Worse yet, they may well respond, but in a fashion that makes me more frustrated than ever. I've had this email exchange many a time:

Me: "Would you mind sharing your source for the death date of Joe Schmoe?"

Them: "It's in my files somewhere, let me get back to you."

Followed, of course, by the ubiquitous, soul-benumbing crickets.

Now these issues aren't issues with online trees per se, but they do present a frustration with the whole supposed-good about online trees, namely that they bring researchers together, and then we all morph into a highly-efficient cyborg-like research machine. So far it seems more "lone-wolf" than "hive of bees".

The Ugly

There are, alas, more egregious things than a lack of etiquette-in-discourse. If, for one instant, I was imbued with the power of the aforementioned Genealogical Superheroes, and could wave my magic wand over all those researchers languishing in Genea-La-La Land, I would immediately and without remorse revoke their right to GEDCOM download!

If I come across one more person who has simply downloaded a section of my tree and added it to their own, I shall scream. What, pray tell, does this download accomplish? Is the research so tedious, so unworth your while that you must depend on importing my work into your database in order to accomplish this hobby of yours which, I would have thought, was to research your family tree??? That item that you now have as a source on one of those imported people, how about that? You know, the one that refers to a piece of paper that my cousin sent me, and which I can guarantee that you have never seen, nor have ever asked for a copy of? Don't you see the ridiculousness in you having that there? And when you import all of my notes? My lord! I feel faint. This must be the genealogical equivalent of stuffing your pants. 'Tis a sham, and I won't stand for it!

The Denouement

In response to Lynn's post I wrote the following comment:

If someone wants to take some random online tree as gospel, they have much larger research-practice problems than the fact that any given piece of information is online or not. At least that's what I figure.

I'm not a nanny, and can't help tree-snatchers become better genealogists or more competent researchers. I know I benefit so much from the well-sourced trees (as sparse as they are) that I can't help but keep mine up as an offering to others who may use it properly: to locate articles, order records, make connections, etc.

I think the impulse to control information is an impossible one to sate, and the internet demands a way of thinking about data management that is less traditional. But that's another discussion for another time, I guess.

Apparently, I was feeling more generous to the online world that day. It goes to show that the ambivalence that Lynn refers to--the pure desire for things to work a particular way, but the helplessness you feel when they don't--it is alive and well, at least in the breast of this genealogist. In the meantime, I leave my tree up, but I do admit, it is getting harder and harder every day.

1. I first put my tree online about seven years ago, as a convenience to my own research. I was working at the time, and tended to spend lunch hours at my desk doing background reading and research, and it was handy to me to have dates and names online to reference while I worked, since my files and my database were at home.

2. Can you have silence filled with the sounds of crickets? Or is that just cricket-noise? Sounds less poetic. Let's stick with what I've got.

California Quotes: Hard Drinking

"The Recorder's Court often affords much amusement to the idle vagabonds who are fortunate enough to avoid its jurisdiction. The following are specimens of cases before the "Honourable" the Recorder, who bears a title in spite of the republican repudiation of such things.


Honourable G. W. Baker, Recorder.

JH Burke, hard drinking, five dollars.

Thomas Donahue, drunk for a week, beat his wife, pulled her out of bed, threw dishes at her, tore her clothes off, and was very riotous. Sent to City Prison for sixty days.

Frank Weisic, D. D., City Prison two days.

Jerry McCarty, drunk again, beat his wife, broke the window, and got nabbed by an officer. Jerry said his wife got drunk and gave him no peace of his life, and he had to get drunk to keep even. The Recorder evidently did not believe him, and he was sent down stairs for thirty days."

From: California: Its Gold and Its Inhabitants, Volume II, 1856, pp. 192-193

31 August 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Refugee Is Insane

From: The Oakland Tribune, 26 April 1906


BERKELEY, April 26.-Wildly tearing her hair and shouting at the top of her voice, Mrs. Jordan, a fire refugee from San Francisco, went temporarily insane at the North Berkeley Hotel last night during dinner hours. The loss of her pretty home in San Francisco and the hardships she underwent in fleeing from the burning city was too much for her tired brain, and the result was a total collapse.

Just before dinner, Mrs. Jordan took some headache powders to ease the pain in her brain. But the powders had a contrary effect and the unfortunate woman went wildly insane.

Dr. Kelsey was called and diagnosed the case as one of temporary insanity and the patient was at once removed to the Alto [sic] Bates Sanatorium on Dwight way. It will be some months before the woman recovers from the shock.

25 August 2010

California Quotes: A Sort of Aquatic Temple-bar

"Opposite the Bay of Sausolito [sic], in a north-easterly direction, lies the island of De los Angelos, much the largest in the Bay of San Francisco. Its shores are bold around, but on the south and west rise abruptly to a giddy height. It is covered with fine pasture, possesses good water, and a sufficiency of firewood; but as yet has not tempted a wooer to its angelic embrace. Were I to remain in California, I should choose it as my head-quarters, for, over and above the properties I have mentioned, its picturesque situation is pre-eminently attractive, reposing under the shelter of the coast range, and commanding a most expansive view of the bay; from its south-east cliffs you see through the gullet of the harbour the undulating bosom of the broad Pacific; immediately opposite, the more elevated terraces of the city sweetly challenges the view; and beyond its jutting extremes the southern portion of the bay stretches beyond the limits of vision, to receive the waters of the Santa Clara, on which stands the embarcadero of the capital of San Jose'; while towards the northward is discernible the great entrance to the Strait of Carquines, with the city of Benicio [sic] on its shores--a sort of aquatic Temple-bar, where vessels, boats, and barges are jostling agains each other as they pass and repass in crowded throngs through this narrow thoroughfare."

From: An Excursion to California, Volume II, 1851, p. 266. Photo by Telstar Logistics, available via Creative Commons for non-commercial usage.

24 August 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Five Are Killed

From: The Oakland Tribune, 18 April 1906:


Five people were killed in the Empire Building on Twelfth Street, near Broadway.

The dead are:

Otto Wisher, forty-five years of age

Amelia Wisher, thirteen years of age

Edward Marney, about twenty-five years of age

Mrs. Edward Marney, twenty-five years old

Unknown man, about twenty-five years of age

John Judd, dropped dead of heart disease

Scripophily- Your Friendly Neighborhood Collecting Craze

If you are looking for an interesting browse on the stranger side of the historical, check out Scripophily.net, or Oldstocks.com. Defined as the study and collection of stocks and bonds, scripophily is an interesting trip into the business successes and failures of yesteryear. Take, for instance, the New England Breeders' Club (illegal horse-racing anyone?). And many of the certificates are beautiful!

Ah collecting. I have to say that I had no idea that people collected old stock and bond certificates. What's next... collecting the names of dead people and putting them in a database?

18 August 2010

California Quotes: These Learned Statesmen

"The farmers have set up a wail here and described the difficulties they have had down in these valleys in establishing homes. The miners themselves, many of them, have sailed clear around the horn, and many of them have been balanced upon the point of a horn ever since, in an honest endeavor all the time to find something that would add to the wealth of the State, and certainly they have succeeded, because I see that during the year eighteen hundred and seventy-seven they have produced nearly nineteen million of dollars; and yet these learned statesmen want to go to work and impose this onerous tax upon the men who are endeavoring to bring this wealth to the surface. It is the only industry to-day in this State which pays to the laboring men three dollars and four dollars a day. In my county the ruling rate is four dollars a day for miners. Now the laboring men cut up so about wages down in San Francisco that they have got the wages down to nothing. The only men who pay them full wages in this State are the miners, and yet the Workingmen stand up here and vote to tax them out of existence, and prevent the organization of companies which will pay them better wages than they can get in any other place."

From: Debates and proceedings of the [California] Constitutional convention, Volume II, 1881, p. 911

17 August 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Prefers Whisky To Wife

From: The Oakland Tribune, 31 January 1906, p. 1

This Woman Gets a Divorce For Her Hubby's Habits

Two bits worth of whisky before breakfast, two bits more for a "chaser" after breakfast; two bits worth of beer for lunch and two bits for whisky in the evening--$1 a day for liquor for 365 by actual count was the record of Peter Keogh, according to the testimony of Julia Keogh in her divorce action in which she was granted an interlocutory decree this morning by Judge Ellsworth on the ground of Keogh's habitual intemperance.

They are an aged couple and have made their home at Seventh and Adeline streets where Mrs. Keogh conducted a little store. She is 72 years of age and he is 74, but she says he made life so unbearable for her finally that she had to leave him.


During the last five years, she testified he had hardly been sober a day and when she refused to give him money for liquor she says he would beat her.

She said that she had to stay out in the street much of the time to get away from him and at night she used to have to sit up. She said she did not go to her neighbors because she hated to let them know of her troubles. Six months ago she says she left him.

15 August 2010

Around the Web Today

* New digitization of the Domesday Book from King's College in London.

* The Quilt Index (a collaboration from Michigan State University and other institutions) has photos, provenance, and maker information on quilts from a number of states.

* Whole lotta Mathew Brady photos online from NARA... now with geotagging!

* Mark Kleiman at The Atlantic talks about the use and origins of you, thee and thou and legacies of class distinction.

12 August 2010

In Defense of Google Books

Martin Hollick over at Slovak Yankee had a post recently expressing his frustration with Google Books, which had me thinking about the nature of Google Books and what it can and can't do for us as researchers. I am, after all, one of those blogging internet genealogists who raves about Google Books. That doesn't mean, however, that I am unaware of its limitations; merely that I find its benefits outweigh its deficiencies, making it a useful site despite the shortcomings.

Complicated Searching

Martin's complaint, as I read it, was twofold: 1) A public domain work which he was searching for was not available on Google Books, and 2) Navigation within Google Books is unnecessarily opaque.

On point two, I believe Martin is undoubtedly correct. It is a run around chore to find out what, exactly, Google Books has online in what sort of view (full, snippet, partial, no), in which edition, and which volume. I wonder at times why Google has invested the time, money and effort of their own company (as well as that of libraries around the world) to create this resource, which is then handicapped by a sub-par search interface and a complete lack of taxonomical organization. Even using Google Books' Advanced Search to cut through the clicks, it recently took me almost two hours to wade through search results and editions information to compile a list of Hubert Howe Bancroft's works that are available on the site.

In an echo of Martin's experience, I was frustrated to find that of the thirty-nine volumes of Bancroft's collected works, three of the ones I am most interested in are (yet?) to be released in full-view, despite the fact that they are in the public domain. It also leaves what could be a valuable reference resource (a full volume-set of Bancroft's works) full of holes. This, of course, leads to questions: Why should some volumes of Bancroft's collected works not be available, when other volumes of the work (all in the same edition) are presented not once, not twice, but three times under different ID numbers, and therefore as separate results in a given search? Where is the redundancy control? Is anyone anywhere within the digitization effort trying to ensure that complete sets of works get digitized? What is the system for prioritizing the volumes to be digitized, and if, as I assume, it resides with the libraries, is there any centralization to ensure that duplication is not taking up valuable digitization resources?

It is this--the sometimes chaotic and seemingly untamed sprawl of Google Books--which renders it vast but wild, and sometimes frustrating to use. On these points, Martin's criticisms seem, to me, appropriate.

Better Use

Of course, with such a plethora of information, it is easy to expect Google Books to have everything, especially what we are looking for, whenever we want it. The thrust and thrill of research demands optimism that what we set out to find will yield in the end. Yet experience shows that even as digitization efforts continue, Google Books isn't always the best choice when our research directs us to a particular work (or even a particular edition of a particular work), since it is not yet the broad clearinghouse of human publishing history that it aims to be. Often, as Martin invokes, a visit to a flesh and blood library is mandated.

To assume that Google Books replaces a library is as incorrect as assuming that Google Books has set out to BE a library in the first place. The ends and means--and even usage--of Google Books can be completely different than that of a library, as the cascade of interactions with both entities, though beginning in the same place (the need for information), succeed in different ways and toward different satisfactory endings. Google Book's strength lies not in emulating a library, but in altering the interaction with information that is found in books.

In a library: What I require is a way to find the volume I need, have it sent via ILL to my local branch (if necessary), then check it out and read it. The library's purpose is to either house the volume or provide a conduit of service which will allow me to access another institution's copy. They have to provide a searchable interface for their own collection that allows me to find what they have available. And they provide the invaluable service of librarians who can augment my research with suggestions for other resources. Beyond that, my interaction with the information I need, in the book I want, is a straight-forward one, wherein the search leads to a nose-in-book ending.

On Google Books: The mode of interaction here can replicate that of a library, if I locate the volume I want, then download it and read it on my Kindle, (which is one way I use Google Books). In this way, the site has served dually as a library by housing the volume and providing a (perhaps poorly organized) catalog, and is little more than digital delivery service.

The difference--and the strength--of Google Books is that it allows interaction beyond this traditional library > catalog > user triptych by presenting the information within books in a more multi-dimensional way. In this sense, Google Books serves not as an electronic bookshelf, but as a true spinoff of its greater search cousin: a database of published information that breaks out of the traditional bindings of books.

Fruits of the Search

In my search for Volume VI of Bancroft's History of California, Google Books fell short. All I wanted, in this case, was to have the complete volume to read. In other situations, where my search is more general, I have found the ability to search "outside of the binding" to be invaluable, in that it allows me to find information in places I almost never would have thought to look, or in books which I would have had myriad problems obtaining. (This holds true particularly for 19th-century research, for which Google Books holds a wealth of public domain works). Examples of items I have found include:

* A beautiful illustrated advertisement for a GGG-Grandfather's architectural offices, found in a Catholic Laity Almanac.

* Information on a letter written by the same GGG-Grandfather which was at the root of a Supreme Court case in 1858; this was in a rather arcane publication about the railroad involved in the suit.

* A letter written by a G-Grandfather about his son's WWI service in France was read aloud at a Congressional hearing in 1923. Google Books had a snippet view result showing his name and residence, which allowed me to order the book through ILL and obtain the full testimony read before the committee.

* Various South Carolina governmental reports, as well as post-Civil War shipping industry publications have allowed me to piece together a list of vessels captained by a GGG-Grandfather.


Certainly I could have found many of these books independently of the internet, if I had wandered into a repository which housed them, thought of pulling them off the shelf, then sat down and paged through them, page after page after page. Realistically, though, most of these items were nuggets residing silently within the pages of books I never would have dreamed of touching or books which are in places I may never be lucky enough to go. The digital database that is Google Books makes discoveries like this possible, enhancing my research and my understanding of the individuals I am pursuing.

11 August 2010

California Quotes: Crammers of Wheat

"It may be well in this place to say something briefly of country life in California. And the thing first to be said is that there is not another State in the Union where everything outside of city limits is so unrural, so contractor-like, so temporizing, so devoid of whatever is poetical, romantic and snug in the old farmer-life of our East. I did not see ten honest, hard-fisted farmers in my whole journey. There are plenty of city-haunting old bachelors and libertines who own great ranchos and lease them; and there are enough crammers of wheat, crammers of beans, crammers of mulberries, crammers of anything that will make their fortune in a year or two, and permit them to go and live and die in "Frisco". Then, for laborers, there are runaway sailors; reformed street thieves; bankrupt German scene-painters, who carry sixty pounds of blankets; old soldiers, who drink their employer's whiskey in his absence, and then fall into the ditch which they dug for a fence-row; all looking for "jobs" or "little jobs" but never for steady work."

From: Afoot and Alone: A Walk from Sea to Sea by the Southern Route, by Stephen Powers

10 August 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Fishing and Whiskey

From: The Oakland Tribune, 22 January 1906, p. 1

Went Fishing on Sundays and Took Whisky With Him

"When I went to pray at night my husband would mock me and roll and toss on the bed and blow like an old gander," was the graphic description given by Mrs. Louise P. Hinton, of 1259 Campbell street, a member of the Holy Roller sect, in her testimony against Roger B. Hinton, from whom she was granted an interlocutory decree of divorce this morning by Judge Waste on the ground of cruelty.

Mrs. Hinton, it is alleged, was the victim of a cruel husband, who viewed with aversion her alligning [sic] herself with the forces striving to gain an eternal salvation in another world by a course of action in this, and in her testimony before Court Commissioner Crowell she recited his various acts of cruelty and said:

"After I got saved he tried to lure me onto the devil's side. When I tried to sing a hymn he would clap his hand over my mouth and try and stop me."

Her effort to practice her religion according to the interpretation of the peculiar sect with whom she had associated herself, met with vigorous protest on his part, and she further testified that he went to drinking harder than ever, and would go fishing on Sundays with men who took drink along with them, and that he would come home in an intoxicated condition. He then would abuse her, and she says finally in her extremity she left him.

He had threatened to hill her on several occasions, and she left the state of Georgia, and went to Teas, and her husband followed her there. She then went to Texarkana and finally came to Oakland, where she has been at peace. She states that she was married to Hinton at Atlanta, Ga., in 1895, and that she left him in 1903.

Her husband followed her to Oakland, but she would not see him.

09 August 2010

Anatomy of an Internet Genealogist

It is genuine curiosity that leads me to the question: What is an "internet genealogist"? Used by some as a descriptive term ("I happen to do my genealogy research on the internet"), a badge of honor ("I've adopted technology!") or a term of disdain ("Internet genealogists vs. real(?) genealogists?"), it seems like the term is all over the place, and time and time again I am unsure what it really means, whether it describes a type, subset or defect in genealogy, and whether, in the end, it really matters at all.

From what I can tell, usage of this term breaks down into the following seven categories:

The Accidental Internet Genealogist- Has been researching in genealogy say five years or less. In this time, digitization of records has increased to the point where much of the basic tree building going on in beginning genealogical research can be accomplished online. This person has neither adopted nor despised traditional modes of research via libraries, government offices, repositories, etc., they simply haven't advanced their own research and/or research skills to the point where going offline for research has been very necessary.

The Adamant Internet Genealogist- Perhaps started as an Accidental Internet Genealogist, but has not progressed to the point where they have started using offline sources for the advancement of their research. Lack of digitized records online confuses and dismays them, and they are often found lambasting the "lack of information online" on message boards and list-servs.

The Tree-Grafting Internet Genealogist- When Accidental and Adamant Internet Genealogists go wrong, they go here. Stymied by a lack of primary sources online, and unwilling to explore (or unaware of) offline resources, they engage in unsafe tree-grafting practices, mashing up the ancestry of humanity into completely fictitious, if fanciful, forms. GEDCOM download is their primary mode of research, and they have been known to be completely unaware of who or what is in their own tree.

The Researching Internet Genealogist- Probably 90% of everyone engaging in genealogy falls into this category. They are on the internet often in the course of their research, either to find offline sources via indices and catalogs, or using online data sources like ancestry.com or familysearch. They acknowledge that the internet is a tool, a means to an end, but not the end-all-be-all. Their research is a hearty blend of digital and paper, face-to-face and email. They are intelligent, altruistic, unusually handsome, have glowing skin, always use their turn signal, are always regular, and never swear.

The Anti-Internet Genealogist- Takes the stance that the internet is the reason for the downfall of genealogy, and that it is a runaway train of amateurish misinformation bound to destroy us all. The Anti-Internet Genealogist believes that the novice and ill-skilled genealogists one finds online are typical of a growing trend of lazy research and shoddy intellectual reasoning. Strangely, they are often found espousing this opinion on the internet.

The Homebound Internet Genealogist- Mothers with young kids, people with mobility issues, people with pocketbook issues...pretty much anyone who has ever uttered the phrase "When I finally take that research trip". This group is well aware of the value of the FHL, the regional FHC, Allen County Library, the small dusty Recorder's office, the basement of the County Clerk... without the time or money to get there. Often seen building "dream itineraries" on their blogs and mapping out driving times between places they may never visit. Identifiable by the wistful look in their eyes and the callouses on their thumbs from excessive space-bar usage.

And lastly,

The Internet Genealogist- A generic creature without identifiable shape or form, often invoked with disdain by people with vague issues of discomfort regarding the encroachment of technology on their heart's passion. Often a stand-in for general dismay with the research practices of others, but sometimes just a blind swipe at the calamitous nature of online information and resources. Can be construed as an entity built of derision or intellectual elitism, but more often just a sign that change is in the air. See also, "boogey man".

05 August 2010

The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft

Prolific writer Hubert Howe Bancroft was a master historian of the West, and many of his works are on Google Books. Trying to ascertain what, exactly, is online, can be very confusing, so I took the time to compile the following list. Six volumes of the complete works are not yet online; amazingly, three of those are from the seven-volume set of California histories. (Update 2013: The remaining volumes are now online, and have been linked below. Thanks to Jeff of Comstock House History!)

(Incidentally, anyone reading the series on California would be interested in "Misrepresentations of Early California History Corrected", published by the Society of California Pioneers. The book stems from their 1893 effort to oust Bancroft as an honorary member of the society, and outlines some supposedly grievous character assassinations committed in his works. It also gives an interesting glimpse into the difference between the first and second editions of some of Bancroft's California histories, in which major changes are made in text about some of the major figures discussed.)

The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft:

Volume I: The Native Races, Volume I
Volume II: The Native Races, Volume II (Civilized Nations)
Volume III: The Native Races, Volume III
Volume IV: The Native Races, Volume IV (Antiquities)
Volume V: The Native Races, Volume V (Primitive History)

Volume VI: History of Central America, Volume I (1500-1530)
Volume VII: History of Central America, Volume II (1530-1800)
Volume VIII: History of Central America, Volume III (1801-1887)

Volume IX: History of Mexico, Volume I
Volume X: History of Mexico, Volume II
Volume XI: History of Mexico, Volume III
Volume XII: History of Mexico, Volume IV (1804-1824)
Volume XIII: History of Mexico, Volume V
Volume XIV: History of Mexico, Volume VI (1861-1887)

Volume XV: History of the North Mexican States and Texas, Volume I (1531-1800)
Volume XVI: History of the North Mexican States and Texas, Volume II (1801-1889)

Volume XVII: History of Arizona and New Mexico (1530-1888)

Volume XVIII: History of California, Volume I
Volume XIX: History of California, Volume II (1801-1824)
Volume XX: History of California, Volume III
Volume XXI: History of California, Volume IV (1840-1845)
Volume XXII: History of California, Volume V (1846-1848)
Volume XXIII: History of California, Volume VI (available at archive.org)
Volume XXIV: History of California, Volume VII (1860-1890)

Volume XXV: History of Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming (1540-1888)
Volume XXVI: History of Utah (1540-1886)

Volume XXVII: History of the Northwest Coast, Volume I (1543-1800)
Volume XXVIII: History of the Northwest Coast, Volume II (1800-1846)

Volume XXIX: History of Oregon, Volume I
Volume XXX: History of Oregon, Volume II (1848-1888)

Volume XXXI: History of Washington, Idaho and Montana (1845-1889)
Volume XXXII: History of British Columbia (1792-1887)
Volume XXXIII: History of Alaska
Volume XXXIV: California Pastoral, 1769-1848
Volume XXXV: California InterPocula
Volume XXXVI: Popular Tribunals, Volume I
Volume XXXVII: Popular Tribunals, Volume II
Volume XXXVIII: Essays and Miscellany
Volume XXXIX: Literary Industries: A Memoir

04 August 2010

California Quotes: Bothersome or Unmanly

"In the warm hospitable Sierra, shepherds and mountain men in general, as far as I have seen, are easily satisfied as to food supplies and bedding. Most of them are heartily content to "rough it", ignoring Nature's fineness as bothersome or unmanly. The shepherd's bed is often only the bare ground and a pair of blankets, with a stone, a piece of wood, or a pack-saddle for a pillow. In choosing the spot, he shows less care than the dogs, for they usually deliberate before making up their minds in so imporant an affair, going from place to place, scraping away loose sticks and pebbles, and trying for comfort by making many changes, while the shepherd casts himself down anywhere, seeming the least skilled of all rest seekers.

His food, too, even when he has all he wants, is usually far from delicate, either in kind or cooking. Beans, bread of any sort, bacon, mutton, dried peaches, and sometimes potatoes and onions, make up his bill-of-fare, the two latter articles being regarded as luxuries on account of their weight as compared with the nourishment they contain; a half-sack or so of each may be put into the pack in setting out from the home ranch and in a few days they are done."

From: My First Summer in the Sierra, by John Muir, pp. 106-108.

03 August 2010

Tribune Tuesday: A Hungry Stranger

From: The Oakland Tribune, 17 January 1906, p. 2:


John Hockins, a youth of seventeen years who states he came from San Jose to this city looking for work, was arrested at 8 o'clock this morning while standing in the doorway of a saloon at the corner of Fourteenth and Broadway. Hockins stated that he was "broke" and hungry. He had in his pockets several pieces of food, which he acknowledged taking from the "free lunch" counter several hours before. He said he had remained in the saloon until 12 o'clock. The police will probably allow the young man to go as there was nothing criminal in his actions.

29 July 2010

Finding the Father by Searching for the Sons

I've had yet another experience reinforcing the necessity of researching entire families when presented with problem areas in research. It was one of those experiences that underscores all the research rules you learn when first entering genealogy (look at neighboring families in the census, research witnesses to documents, etc.)... those rules that I have, for the most part, stuck to, but some of which have fallen by the wayside in the general forward thrust of everyday research.

Such was the situation when I was trying to establish the death place and date for my GGGG-Grandfather, Robert May.

Good things happened for me when I searched the Sons of Union Veterans grave database. I had been researching Robert, and since I didn't (and still don't) have a firm birthdate for him, I was unsure about his potential Civil War service. I decided to check the SUV database on a whim, even though I estimated he was probably too old for service.

Finding results on Robert null, I tried a general May search, and found listed therein R. R. May, of San Jose, CA, my GGG-Grand Uncle! I had written about Richard recently in my post The Veteran Who Never Served, so finding that he had military designation for his burial was interesting enough, but I had been unable to find his death date until this time, so was happy to get a lead. I could have shrugged my shoulders and filed away the information without following up on it--after all, Richard, though interesting, is "only" a GGG-Granduncle, and not my direct ancestor. I could have re-focused my effort to find Richard's father Robert, and left the lead on Richard for another day.

Luckily for me, the May family is part of a very minute and detailed research project I am undertaking, in which I am truly taking the time to "do it right" and scrutinize each iota of information and follow each and every lead for everyone in the family group. With the information from the database I was able to call his cemetery of burial in San Jose (Oak Hill Memorial Park), which kindly mailed me information on his burial. Imagine my joy when I found out that Richard was buried with five other relatives, including his father, Robert May! According to information from the cemetery, Robert died in San Jose at the age of 91, on 29 March 1897. He was buried with his son, Richard, his daughter-in-law, Marion P. (Gould) May, two of his grandchildren, and a great-grandson-in-law.

I was lucky enough to stop by the cemetery when I was in San Jose recently, and visited the gravesite. I found the spot where my relatives were buried, but unfortunately, aside from Richard May's headstone, the lot only held some depressions in the grass to mark the other burials:

I have a death certificate for Robert May on order from the Santa Clara Recorder's office, which should (hopefully) arrive soon.

Taking information from the cemetery, I was also able to locate an obituary for Robert in the SF Call, 31 March 1897, page 4:
San Jose, Cal., Mar 30- Robert May, an old resident of this city, died at the home of his son, Robert R. [sic] May, last evening. He was 92 years of age and a native of England. He came to the United States in 1837, and twenty-five years ago arrived in California. May leaves two daughters and six sons, the youngest of whom is fifty years of age.

The news that Robert had died in San Jose was interesting, since as of the 1880 census he was still in Stanislaus county, where he had been since at least 1870. I had checked death records, wills and cemetery transcriptions for Robert in that county, and was frustrated to not find any evidence of death.

MOST frustrating of all? Upon re-reading a biography of one of Robert's other sons, I saw that the biography had said, explicitly that Robert had died in San Jose in 1900. While the year was off, I am still left unimpressed with my research skills, in that I didn't take the lead and run with it, and request a record search of Santa Clara death records as soon as I had read the biography! (And I don't want to be vindicated by having the death record not found... Please genealogy G*ds, don't let that happen!)

In all, it has been a major lesson for me in the merits of taking the time to discover all you can about associated family members, and not ignoring them in the pursuit of direct-ancestor glory. It seems totally basic, totally rudimentary, totally elementary, yet so incredibly easy for me to forget!

28 July 2010

California Quotes: Cast off the Bow, Fast

"SALEM, MASS, March 17th, '49--Saturday, 3:30PM, we cast off from the wharf, and in the good barque "La Grange", Captain Joseph Dewing, made sail and started for San Francisco. Since noon, the crowd on the wharf had been continually increasing, until it numbered thousands, who had assembled to take leave of friends who were about to embark on a long and somewhat novel and perilous enterprise. Many now leave their homes for the first time, and none can say it may not be the last.

"Cast off the bow fast; leave the ship, all who are not going to California", sings out the pilot, and spreading the canvas to the northwestern breeze, her bow recedes from the wharf, the last grasp of the hand is given, friends hurry ashore, and excepting the pilot, none remain on board but those who are to be in intimate companionship for many long months."

From: The Overland Monthly, Volume VIII. San Francisco, 1886. Page 93

27 July 2010

Tribune Tuesday: A Plucky Woman

29 October 1894

Mrs. Fred Gatter and her Woful [sic] Accident, [sic]

Mrs. Fred Gatter, the victim of the unfortunate shooting accident at Spanish Valley, which necessitated the amputation of her left leg above the knee, has returned to this city and is now resting quietly at her home, 540 Twenty-third street. The accident took place four weeks ago last Monday, and Mrs. Gatter is now progressing favorably toward health.

The main features of the accident have already been published in THE TRIBUNE, one of which was that five and a half hours elapsed from the time of the shooting until Dr. S. McCurdy of St. Helena, twenty miles distant, arrived at her side, after a remarkable drive over the mountain. During those hours it was a fight between the patient and death. When she saw how badly she had been wounded the thought occurred to her, she said, that it would require only half an hour for her to bleed to death. But she made up her mind that she would not die, and kept this resolution during the long interval, notwithstanding that she saw the blood gradually flowing from the limb despite the fact that ligatures had been placed around it in three pieces.

One of these bands during all these hours was kept tight by Fred Gatter, her husband who never allowed the ends of the ligature to leave his hands. The strain was most exhausting and Mr. Gatter was kept from fainting only by frequent applications of cold water to his head.

When at length the surgeon arrived, Mrs. Gatter was so faint that life, it was thought, could not be maintained, to say nothing of surviving the shock of amputating the limb. Indeed, after chloroform had been administered, Mrs. Gatters's pulse could not be felt. Stimulants, however, restored circulation and this patient survived the operation and shock with wonderful heroism.

The amputation was accomplished by Dr. McCurdy with no professional assistance, because no one could be obtained and the successful and tender manner in which he performed the important work has been the subject of comment that section of the country ever since.

26 July 2010

CA History in the News 04 - 25 July 2010

* A touch of Abe Lincoln in the Golden State

* Saving the home of the San Jose artist who saved Big Basin

* A man in Auburn shows off his collection of 700 books... all copies of the same book, Two Years Before the Mast, "the 1840 true-life classic of the high seas, partly set in pre-Gold Rush California – a best-seller in the mid-19th century that collectors call one of the 80 seminal works of historic California." (The book is available on Google Books here.

* Who knew? The California Rice Commission (a new one to me) is trying to save the first Japanese settlement in the United States in Coloma, California.

* History or No History? Michael Jackson's Neverland as State Park? I'm sure our descendants will thank us.

* Visit a 1926 Roland E. Coate home in San Marino hills

* Lands surrounding the mid-19th century Willson Ranch in Gilroy are saved through purchase by the Nature Conservancy

* Concerns about the effect of the proposed high-speed rail on the historic park dubbed the "Ellis Island of Los Angeles"

* The last remnants of Rancho Cucamonga's Chinatown may soon disappear

* SF's Historic Preservation Commission surveyed Van Ness Avenue's "historic auto row"

22 July 2010

When Greenbacks Go West

In the wake of last week's post on the Panic of 1873, I thought I would share this tidbit I ran across. It is in regard to the effect of currency issues on immigration to California:
The great financial panic of 1873, presaged by that monetary cyclone, "Black Friday in Wall Street", had no immediate effect upon business in California. The years 1873 and 1874 were among the most prosperous in our history. Through good and evil report California had clung to her gold and silver money. The specific contract act of the Legislature of 1862, making debts payable in gold coin, virtually demonetized the government legal tender and the national bank notes in our State... It certainly did for a time retard immigration to California from the East. The eastern immigrant landing on our shores with $1000 in greenbacks found himself compelled, before he could make an investment, to convert his paper into gold. Theoretically, he might be convinced that the six or seven hundred dollars in gold twenties which he received in exchange were equivalent to his thousand in government legal tenders, but practically he felt that somehow he had been worsted in the exchange... The capitalists of the East preferred to retain their wealth where resumption of specie payment was gradual instead of instantaneous, as in California. The bulk of immigration to Southern California in the early '70s was from the central and northern parts of our own State.1 (emphasis mine)

Although the quote above represents speculation on Guinn's part (and contradicts other sources claiming heavy east-to-west coast immigration due to unemployment), it is interesting to consider how something so fundamental could have an effect upon the migration patterns of our ancestors. The Specific Contract Bill, passed in 1863, did actually allow most commerce in California to take place in gold coin, instead of the federal greenback. One imagines that this could have had very real implications for anyone from "back East" who sought to start up or engage in business in California2.

1. Guinn, JM. "Los Angeles in the Sixties and Seventies", Southern California Quarterly Volume III, 1893. p. 68.

2. For more detail on the "Specific Contract Bill" see A Financial History of California by William Fankhauser (1913), p. 221.

21 July 2010

California Quotes: The Meat of the Cub

"The grizzly did so much damage to the farms, and besides, he furnished so much meat, he was industriously hunted for years, until his numbers are greatly reduced. His food is largely vegetable, though he is fond of fresh meat of nearly every sort, and especially of fresh pork. The cub is easily tamed, and is most playful and amusing; he can be taught many clever tricks. The meat of the cub is tender, and like young pork, but that of an old bear is very strong, so much so as to be scarcely palatable."

From: Pacific Bank Handbook of California. San Francisco: Pacific Bank, 1888. Page 203.

20 July 2010

Tribune Tuesday: Death's Bride

Note: The legibility of the article was very poor, thus all of the omissions in the article below. But the story seemed worth telling despite the fractured narrative. -jjr

From The Oakland Tribune, 31 October 1894

Miss Caroline Lembs' Last Wish Carried Out
She Was Buried Today in Her Wedding Dress
The Sad Story That Closed in a N?b? Young Life

One of the most sorrowful funerals which ever took place in this city was that of Miss Caroline Lembs which was held this afternoon at 4? Walsworth avenue.

The remains of the young woman were attired in bridal robes, although she had never been a ???? Death had stepped in and deprived ??? that pleasure, --- --- she --- --- the marital ceremony --- performed. Last Saturday night --- --- --- been married to O?? W????? --- -- officer on the --- --- --- Wa?ub had come --- --- --- ceremony, --- --- --- --- was taken ill several days --- --- --- and the nuptials were deferred --- the groom expectant sailing away at the request of Miss Lemb, on a short cruise up the Pacific coast.

Mean??? Miss Lembs died, and, owing to the fact that W???b could not return, the funeral took place without the groom expectant, --- --- being held in the cosy but unfurnished home which Wa?ub had erected as above given. The funeral attracted many sympathetic friends. The remains were interred in Mountain View Cemetery.

15 July 2010

The Panic of 1873 and the California Constitution

Note: I had occasion to do some research recently on The Panic of 1873 and its effects--particularly in California; I thought I would share the fruits of my research with you. -Jennifer

The Panic of 1873 is a particularly interesting research topic* as it came at such a dynamic time for the United States: society was shaking off the ills of the Civil War, Reconstruction was under way, expansion in the West was in full-force, and the economies of the Eastern seaboard were trying to bloom into their full industrial potential. Businesses were being born, and people were on the move. Optimism in the newly reunited country was high, and the potential for individual and national success seemed unlimited. Then calamity struck, and struck hard.

In California, in particular, the legacy of the Panic of 1873 was a political one as much as an economic one--powering grassroot movements and building ideologies that culminated in the formation of the state's constitution.

The Panic
The Panic of 1873--known in the rest of the world as "The Long Depression" or "The Great Depression", was most immediately triggered by the collapse of the railroad bubble, which had seen its apex in the United States in the years following the Civil War. Economic troubles in Europe--a ready lender to US businesses--meant that the market for investment in railroads became a stale one, and many companies on the brink financially (both banks and railroads) felt the effects:
[A] sharp financial panic in May 1873 on the Vienna Bourse warned every European investor and banker that he must watch carefully his commitments and set his financial house in order. The Vienna panic stopped the negotiation in Europe of bonds of new railroads, and made difficult the sale of those of companies of established credit. The glut of American railway bonds in Europe forced the New York bankers to carry the new railroads which they backed, by straining their own individual credit. This became increasingly difficult.1

Resultant collapses in the banking sector wreaked havoc on the fledgling industrialized US economy, and the country entered a despondent period of "declining markets, exhaustion of capital, a lowering in value of all kinds of property including real estate, constant bankruptcies, close economy in business and grinding frugality in living, idle mills, furnaces and factories...labourers out of employment, reductions in wages, strikes and lockouts, the great railroad riots of 1877, suffering of the unemployed, depression and despair.3." These economic troubles would persist until the economy finally cycled up again in 1879.

The deflation following the panic, and its companion reduction in prices, was particularly hard on farmers who depended upon sustained food prices to keep their operations afloat. Many had also borrowed heavily in the boom times and were now finding themselves either in peril of default, or without means to borrow to fund further expansions of their businesses. Workers in industrial fields--many of whom had been working for now-defunct railroads--were also affected as high unemployment and excess labor pools meant low wages, long hours and little job security4.

These economic hardships were a trigger to political action; grassroots movements became energized and powered calls for change and agitations for legislative and economic reforms across the country. In California, the agitation resulted in a new state constitution.

One party working actively in California in the years following the panic was the Workingman's Party led by the vociferous and provocative Dennis Kearney. This urban movement was characterized by a strong foment on the part of the labor class, along with a denunciation of the monied and propertied echelons of society and the bearer of all capitalist evil: the railroads. The party also soon began to cave to xenophobic tendencies, captured in the mantra "Chinese Must Go":
[R]adicalized white workers denounced capital and the owning class, but they also were already blaming “coolie” labor for dragging wages downward. The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad led to a big influx of skilled Chinese workers, who came to dominate employment in cigar making, shoe making, and textiles. Thousands of white workers came to San Francisco during this same period, seeking work out west in the wake of the economic depression back east. But the railroad brought the depression along with the workers5.
The party took to inflammatory rhetoric and intimidation tactics like large-scale rallies and rioting, but called all the while for legislative changes at the state level that would address their concerns about the power of the wealthy and the effect of immigration on labor.

Similar agitations for change were occurring in rural parts of California, where farmers were aggregating to discuss grievances under the auspices of a movement known as The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, or "The Grange". This fraternal order became a political organization of powerful momentum, which took on what farmers saw as two major evils: the excessive rates for freight charged by the tyrannical railroads, and the profligate expenditures of government6.

Both factions--rural and urban--soon became unlikely allies in the revision of the California Constitution:

Instead of going on with the idea of revolution, the Workingmen's Party now set out, with the assistance of the discontented Grangers, to capture a majority of the delegates [to the Constitutional convention] to be elected in June, 1878. So successful were their efforts that when the votes were counted it was apparent that the farmers and laborers together had won a clear majority of the seats in the convention. Continuing their co-operation, the Workingmen and Grangers wrote a new constitution for the state that embodied most of their radical ideas.7

Many of those ideas--particularly stringent statutes against Chinese immigrants--were later deemed illegal under the US Constitution. The agendas which both political factions brought to the table at the Constitutional convention did leave some legacy, including corporate and railroad regulation, and a number of tax policies. For anyone interested in the details of the California Constitution, both the original 1879 Constitution and the working papers from the 1878 Constitutional Convention are online.

* I've read on the internet that Glenn Beck recently had words to say about the Panic of 1873 and the Workingman's Party, tagging the event and the organization as the "racist roots" of the union movement. I wrote the majority of this post before his commentary aired, and my discussion of it here has nothing to do with Mr. Beck's commentary or his opinions.

1. Rhodes, JF. History of the United States, Vol. VII. London: MacMillan & Co., 1912. pp. 40-41.

3. Ibid. Page 53.

4. Ayers, et. al., American Passages. Boston: Wadsworth Publishing, 2008. Page 472.

5. Carlsson, Chris. The Workingmen’s Party & The Dennis Kearney Agitation

6. Hittell, TH. History of California, Volume IV. San Francisco: NJ Stone & Company, 1897. Page 517.

7. From Unrest in California, by Prof. J. D. Hicks.