Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Infectious Diseases of the Civil War" Presentation by Barbara Hemmingsen

Barbara Hemmingsen started her presentation, titled "Infectious Diseases of the Civil War," saying "Even though I'm no longer teaching microbiology, I still love bacteria." It drew a nervous laugh from the 30 or so attendees at the Chula Vista Genealogical Society program meeting today at the Chula Vista South Branch Library.

Barbara has possession of 240 letters from her great-great-grandfather Joseph Bruff, a Civil War officer from Ohio, to his family back home from his three plus years of service, mainly in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas. Even though the talk was about infectious diseases, the excerpts from Joseph's letters made this talk come alive. This was a real person that suffered and survived. Barbara says "I know this man better than my own father." What a beautiful collection of letters. She passed a copy of one around sent to his 13-year old son back home telling him not to come help him in the War.

In addition to describing the casualty rates, Barbara discussed the factors involved in deaths from disease, the infection causes in soldiers, the treatment of wounds and diseases, the microorganisms and the symptoms of the different maladies, with gruesome stories and pictures of some of them. Cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever, typhus, pneumonia, malaria, yellow fever, smallpox and body lice were discussed in some detail.

There were very few effective treatments of infectious diseases because the "doctors" did not understand that there were microorganisms that caused and prolonged the diseases. She noted that there the treatment for wounds consisted of bedrest, pain control with morphine, quinine and limb amputation.

The diet of Civil War soldiers didn't help much - salted pork, bacon, beef, flour, corn meal, hardtack, beans, rice, sugar, salt, vinegar, coffee and tea, plus fruit and berries gathered along the roads. In one letter, Joseph Bruff noted that he ate raw bacon because he was so hungry.

Barbara will place the originals of the letters in the Western Reserve Historical Society archives for posterity, and she hopes to write a book detailing all of the persons described in the letters of her ancestor.

This was an intriguing and informative presentation about "real life" people and situations.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

CVGS Program June 30: Infectious Diseases of the Civil War

The June program meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society will be Wednesday, 30 June 2010, at 12 noon in the Conference Room at the Chula Vista South Branch Library (389 Orange Avenue, the southeast corner of Fourth and Orange). Please note the venue change for this meeting - it is at SOUTH BRANCH.

After a brief business meeting, Barbara Hemmingsen will present "Infectious Diseases of the Civil War." Her CV:

Barbara Bruff Hemmingsen earned a B.A. in Bacteriology, an M. A. in Microbiology, and a Ph.D. in Marine Microbiology from the University of California more years ago than she wishes to remember. She then did research in Environmental Microbiology and taught various lecture and laboratory courses in Microbiology at San Diego State University for 30 years.

When she retired in 2004, she began preparing her great, great-grandfather's letters for publication. Joseph Bruff wrote 240 letters to his wife during the Civil War when he served as an officer in the Union Army, 1862-1865. These letters contain a great deal of fascinating military, political, economic, health, and cultural information. As a microbiologist, Barbara was struck by the many references Joseph Bruff made to illnesses, his own and his men.

Her lecture "Infectious Diseases in the Civil War" will introduce the audience to the diseases which were common in America in the middle 1800s, and will provide an understanding of what it was like to live (and die) before the advent of modern medicine.

For more information about CVGS or this meeting, please contact Barbara I. by phone at 619-477-4140, or email at

Please note that this program will be at Chula Vista South Branch Library (389 Orange Avenue)!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

CVGS Weekend Program June 27th - "Using Effectively"

The Board of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society recently decided to provide Sunday afternoon programs for members and others who cannot attend the Wednesday daytime meetings.

The first Sunday program will have CVGS Member Randy Seaver presenting "Using Effectively." This talk will be at 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 27th, in the Auditorium of the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street in downtown Chula Vista).

The talk summary is:

The subscription website has many wonderful features - it's like a lavish buffet where it is hard to choose what to do and how to use it.

o For searches: basic or advanced search; new or old search screens; exact or ranked matches; full names or wild cards; specific or all databases; restricted collection or whole collection.

o For family trees: public or private; one-editor or group editors; GEDCOM upload or enter-by-hand; upload photos and documents; attach historical documents; add stories; "collect" data from others; synchronization with software; etc.

In this presentation, Randy will discuss and demonstrate these issues and offer recommendations for effectively using databases and family trees.

Randy Seaver is a former President of CVGS, and is the current Newsletter Editor and Research Chairman. He also writes the Genealogy 2.0 column in the quarterly FGS FORUM Magazine and is well-known in national genealogy circles through his Genea-Musings genealogy blog. Randy has 22 years experience in genealogy research and has been doing online research since 1992.

All meetings of CVGS are free for members and non-members to attend. We welcome guests and visitors, and hope that you will want to join our active society. Flyers that announce all of our scheduled programs are placed in libraries, senior centers and other places around the San Diego South Bay area.

If the first two of the Weekend programs are successful, then CVGS will add a program each month for the balance of 2010.

For more information about CVGS, or about this presentation, please contact Barbara by phone (619-477-4140) or email (

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New or Updated Genealogy Databases - June 2010

Here is a list of the new or recently updated genealogy databases on several large websites for early June 2010:

1) New or Updated Databases at (NEHGS, $$)

o See list of all document sets on

2) New or Updated Databases at ($$)

o Civil War Maps (66% complete)
o See list of all document sets on at

3) New or Updated Databases at ($$)

o Vermont Rolls of Rev. War Soldiers
o New Hampshire Rolls of Rev. War Soldiers
o Spirit of ’76 in Rhode Island
o Pennsylvania in the War of the Revolution
o Pennsylvania Archives, 5th Series, 6th Series
o New Jersey Register of Rev. War Soldiers
o Maryland Muster Rolls of Rev. War soldiers
o Officers and Men of PA Navy, 1775-1781
o Delaware Archives
o Coll. Of New York Historical Society, 1914, 1915
o Civil and Military List of RI, 1647-1800
o See list of all document sets on World Vital Records at

4) New or Updated Databases at ($$)

o See list of all available newspaper titles at

5) New or Updated Databases at ($$)

o Marseille, France Marriages, 1810-1915
o Alpes-Maritimes, France Births, Marriages, Deaths
o US World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942
o Nebraska Extracted Family History, 1945
o Ontario, Canada Deaths, 1869-1936
o Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1911
o Dunfermline, Scotland, Journal, 1851-1931
o Many books in German, French, Italian
o See New and Updated Ancestry databases at

6) New or Updated Databases at FamilySearch Record Search (Free)

o Nova Scotia Antigonish Catholic Diocese 1823-1905
o Civil War Pension Index Cards (90% complete)
o Massachusetts Deaths and Burials, 1795-1910
o Massachusetts Marriages, 1695-1910
o Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958
o Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications Files
o United States Census, 1910 (15% complete)
o Czech Republic, Southern Bohemia, Trebon Archive Church Books, 1650-1900
o Spain, Catholic Church Records, 1500-1930
o Spain, Municipal Records
o Brazil, Catholic Church Records
o Guatemala, Guatemala City, Sagrario Parish Baptisms, 1898-1920
o Miscellaneous Australian Genealogical Records, 1776-1980
o See all Volunteer-indexed databases on the Pilot Record Search site at

Thursday, June 10, 2010

CVGS Research Group meeting summary

We had 15 enthusiastic genealogists at our 9 June meeting of the CVGS Research Group. Several of them were beginning researchers or non-members.

* Randy started by discussing the SCGS Jamboree, "cousin bait" and "where to find the 'good stuff'." He noted that web sites with full names, dates and places make good "cousin bait" for a search engine, but you have search in specific online family tree databases too. The "good stuff" was defined as land and probate records that help define relationships, and many can be found on FHL microfilms.

* Jaye had a research problem to discuss - her Aunt Ferol Embody (1896-????) was born in 1896, married Beryle McClelland in Missouri, and divorced him, and died of tuberculosis in her late 30s. She had one daughter, and seven siblings. Jaye wanted to know how to find the death date and location. The group suggested tracking her in the census records, tracing the parents, siblings and daughter, and obtaining family records or newspaper articles or obituaries that might lead to Ferol's death date and location.

* Dolores has a 4th great-grandmother, Elizabeth (Sherk) Wolf, that raised a family in Lancester PA, but was kidnapped by Indians in about 1800 and taken to NC, then lost in the records, according to information on an Ancestry Member Tree. A child was born in NC and died in Oklahoma. She wanted to know how to find out more about the fate of her ancestor. The group suggested looking for journals from nearby forts in Indian Territory, and newspapers around the time of the kidnapping. This lead to a discussion of the Trail of Tears.

* Martha and Mary have a grandmother that was born in Arizona Territory to an English man named Harrop and a Native-American mother. The man was Mormon, and had many wives or consorts. The grandmother died in 1964, and the death certificate does not identify her parents. The group suggested newspaper records, LDS church records, and consulting a Native-American expert for guidance. This lead to a question of how to find which newspapers were published in a given location. Randy recalled that the Chronicling America site at the Library of Congress has a directory of historical newspapers - you can search it at

* Yolanda noted that she had a relative that lived near present-day Laughlin, Nevada in 1880, but it was part of Bernalillo County of New Mexico Territory. She wondered where she should look for records. The group suggested New Mexico State Archives, Bernalillo County NM records, Clark County, Nevada records, and the National Archives branch at Perris CA.

* Ruth has been in contact with an expert on Spanish genealogy and the Conquest of Mexico, in pursuit of her husband's ancestry.

* Susi noted that browsing through the books on the shelf at the Chula Vista library has paid dividends - she found helpful information on three surnames there.

* The other attendees shared their current research challenges and successes. Several have dead ends in the 1800 to 1850 time frame in NY and PA.

The next Research Group meeting will be Wednesday, 14 July in the Conference Room at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 2010 Issue of CVGS Newsletter is Online

The June 2010 issue of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society Newsletter is available for your reading pleasure at

Previous issues are also available - see the list at

If your society newsletter editor would like to receive an email attachment of this newsletter, please contact us at

Friday, June 4, 2010

In Memoriam: Robert W. Kerney (1920-2010)

Longtime Chula Vista Genealogical Society member Robert W. Kerney passed away on 22 May 2010.

His obituary was published in the 25 May 2010 edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper (online here). The obituary reads:

ROBERT W. KERNEY Visit Guest Book


Robert W. Kerney, 89, was born September 16, 1920 in Chicago, Illinois. He died May 22, 2010. He is survived by his sons Newton with his wife Julie and his grandchildren Joshua, Benjamin, Carlyn of Cotati, CA; Michael with his wife Jeri and his grandchildren Joseph and Kevin of Simi Valley, CA; David with his wife Catherine, and his grandchildren Regan, Shaun, Kyle, and Keith of Escondido, CA; and a daughter Pamela of Bozrah, CT. He was preceded in death by his wives Veretta in 1963, and Marilou in 2003; and a daughter Marjorie.

He became an Eagle Scout at the age of 14. Two sons and two grandsons were also Eagle Scouts.
He graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology with a degree in Fire Protection Engineering. He went into the Navy as an Ensign in World War II. After the war, he returned to IIT and received a BS and MS in Electronic Engineering. He returned to active duty during the Korean War and retired in 1968 as a Commander. He then went to work as a civilian in the Naval Ordinance Systems Support Office, Pacific. He retired again in 1982 as a GS-14.

He was Exalted Ruler of Chula Vista Elks Lodge 2011, District Chairman of Youth Activities, State Scholarship Chairman of the California-Hawaii Elks Association for four years; President, Chula Vista Chapter of the Retired Federal Employees for three years; 1st Vice-President, Sweetwater Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America; member of the Military Order of World Wars, Tau Beta Phi (Engineering Honor Society), Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity and the Navy Mutual Aid Association. He was a Life member of the Chula Vista Elks Lodge No. 2011, the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, the Military Officers Association of America, the National Defense Industrial Association, and the Marines Memorial Club.

Services will be held at the main chapel at Glen Abbey Mortuary on Friday, May 28th, at 11:00. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to the Chula Vista Elks Lodge- Local Youth and Charitable Activities (LYCA)- 901 Elks Lane, Chula Vista, CA 91910.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Genealogy Days in Chula Vista - June 2010

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society events for June 2010 include:

** Wednesday 9 June, 12 noon to 2 pm, Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street) -- CVGS Research Group meets in the Library Conference Room, led by Randy Seaver. We will review the latest genealogy news, share success stories and information, and discuss members research problems, and potential solutions, based on the collective knowledge and wisdom of the group.

** Wednesday, 16 June, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street) -- CVGS Computer Group meets in the Library Computer Lab, led by Shirley Becker. We will visit some helpful genealogy web sites. This is an opportunity for those members who haven't used computers for genealogy research to practice with a mentor to guide them.

** Sunday, 27 June, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street) -- CVGS Special Program Meeting in the Auditorium. The speaker will be CVGS Member Randy Seaver on "Using Effectively."

** Wednesday, 30 June, 12 noon to 2 p.m., Chula Vista South Branch Library (389 Orange Avenue) in the Conference Room -- After a brief business meeting, the speaker will be Barbara Hemmingsen, speaking on "Infectious Diseases of the 1800's."

** Monday mornings (11 a.m. to 1 PM) - June 7, 14, 21, 28 - Genealogy Table Talk with John Finch in the Family Research section of the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library. They are ready and willing to help people with their research, discuss a research problem or success, or just tell stories.

** Wednesday evenings (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.) - June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 - Genealogy Help with CVGS members in the Family Research section of the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library. They are ready and willing to help people just starting on their genealogy research, discuss a research problem or a success.

** Sunday afternoons (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.) - June 6, 13, 20 and 27 - Genealogy Help with CVGS members in the Family Research section of the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library. They are ready and willing to help people just starting on their genealogy research, discuss a research problem or a success.

The Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library is located at 365 "F" Street in Chula Vista - between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue, midway between I-5 and I-805 (take the "E" Street exit from the freeways). The Chula Vista South Branch Library is located at 389 Orange Avenue (on southeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Orange, enter parking lot east of building on Orange, enter south door that says "Literacy Center").

We welcome guests and visitors to our CVGS programs and events - if you are in the greater San Diego area and want to attend our events - please come and introduce yourselves. Please contact Barbara (email, phone 619-477-4140) for more information.