Sunday, April 24, 2011

April 27th Program: Hank Jones - "When the Sources are Wrong!"

The April Program meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society is this Wednesday, 27 April at 12 noon in the Auditorium at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library (365 F Street). Please enter through the conference room door (off the east hallway) to register your presence, pick up a program, buy an opportunity drawing ticket, and have a snack to tide you over.

After a short business meeting, the program will be Henry Z. (Hank) Jones speaking on "When the Sources are Wrong." The description of the talk and Hank's biography are below:

Erroneous sources are part of the territory in genealogy. Each and every family historian has, at one time or other, run into a source that is wrong. Sometimes, however, the actual source is just fine: it's our perception of that old document that may need a bit of work. This talk examines our common problem of erroneous sources and offers solutions as to what to do when we encounter them.

Secondary sources are discussed. The genealogical validity of the late-19th early 20th century "mug books" are examined as to their accuracy. Census indices are scrutinized, and reasons for their many errors examined (for example, a published census index of the 1830 Federal Census of Maryland showed 52% error when compared with the original documents!).

The older family histories (pre-Jacobus emphasis on documentation and weighing the preponderance of the evidence) are looked at, with suggestions made as to which hold water today. Some of the "saints and sinners" of our genealogical past are discussed, and names set forth as to which ones to trust.

The quirks of old church books are studied, with special note of errors made therein that are contemporary with the actual event - enough to send modern-day genealogists blithering and blabbering off into the sunset. Case studies of actual errors found in church records are presented, with solutions offered as to what to do when errors are discovered therein when compared with other known documentation.

This topic is a universal one for genealogists everywhere, and this talk offers suggestions as to how to overcome the problems presented ... "When the Sources are Wrong!"

Henry Z ("Hank") Jones, Jr. has been actively climbing family trees since the age of eight, and, since his graduation from Stanford, has specialized in tracing 18th century German emigrants. Hank has written several books and many articles over the years. He received the NGS Award of Merit for "Distinguished Work in Genealogy" and has been elected a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, of whom there are only fifty in the world.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Computer Group Highlights - 20 April 2011

We had ten attendees at the 20 April CVGS Computer Group meeting, in the Computer Lab of the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library, led by Shirley Becker.  Some highlights:

*  Allen County Public Library site - The Genealogy Center ( has 222 online databases with mainly northern Indiana indexed material (no images).  The online catalog for the library holdings is useful if a researcher is planning a trip there.

*  The Internet Archive ( has not only online book texts, but also audio and video collections - all free.  The Wayback Machine was discussed - it has historical images of defunct or revised websites.

*  Several features on were explored for the beginners in the group - the WorldConnect family tree database (, the U.S. Town/County Name Database ( and the Surname and Locality Mailing Lists ( 

*  The group explored the Find-a-Grave burial database (, and noted that not every burial is listed here, but it is the largest online database for burial information. 

The next Computer Group meeting will be the third Wednesday in May, the 18th, at 12 noon in the Computer Lab of the Civic Center Library.  Please come if you need help on the computer, or if you want to explore online databases and need some help.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book donations to the Chula Vista Public Library

CVGS Librarian Bernice Heiter reports these donations were made by CVGS Members, or by CVGS funds, to the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library in August 2010 and are now on the "Family Research" shelves:

Donated by Susan Pentico:

The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Vol. 152, Apr, July, Oct, 1998. 929.374 NEW

Donated by Dorothy Alvord:

Ofield, Helen M. and Pete Smith. Images of America: Lemon Grove. 929.3794 OLD

Donated by Shirley Becker:

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. Vol 135, #4; Vol 136 , #1,2,3,4; and Vol 137, #1. 929.3747 NEW

Tree Talks: Essex County:Abstract of the 1800 Federal Census and part 2: Clinton County Abstract of the 1790 Federal Census. 929.3747 TRE

Rode, Arlene and Jean M. Hanchett. Subject and Surname Index to Tree Talks Vol. 37, #1,2,3, 1997
Vol. 41, #1,2,3, 2001; Vol. 42,#1,2,3, 2002; Vol. 43, #1,2,3, 2003; Vol. 44 #1,2,3, 2004. 929.3747 SUB

Donated by Randy Seaver:

Arons, Ron. Wanted! U.S. Criminal Records Sources and Methodology. 929.373 ARO

Purchased In Memory of CVGS Member Larry Schultheis:

Walker, Charles M. History of Athens County, Ohio. 929.3771 WAL

Purchased with CVGS Funds:

Rhode Island Periodicals: Genealogies of Rhode Island Families. 929.3745 GEN

Bryab, Wm S. and Robert Rose. A History of the Pioneer Families of Missouri. 929.3778 BRY

Rosengarten, J.G. French Colonists and Exiles in the United States. 929..344 ROS

Murray, Sonia Bennett, comp. The First Parish Register of Belize 1794-1810 and the First Four Censuses 1816-1826. 929.3728 MUR

Dupuis, Kateri (Teri), Don Cayen et al. St. Louis Catholic Parish, Fond du Lac, Wixconsin: Repertoires of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1850-1920. 929.3775 DUP

McLane, Dennis, comp. An Index of Irish Events in Dorchester County, Quebec (Frampton & Vicinity Vol.) 929.3714 McCA

Thursday, April 14, 2011

CVGS Research Group Summary - 13 April 2011

We had 17 enthusiastic attendees at the 13 April meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society Research Group. 

Randy Seaver gave a short presentation on "Newspaper Records" - showing how to determine what newspapers have been published in specific localities, and a list of online finding aids and online newspaper collections (both free and subscription).  He also showed several newspaper articles from his family history, including a 50th wedding anniversary article, an ancestor's biography, information about an ancestor moving to town and buying land, and his recent research into an 1821 murder mystery.

Myrna G. described some of her family history newspaper collection, and she noted that they serve two purposes - to fill in some of the family history details of people's lives, and to provide information about births, marriages and deaths.  Her examples included finding probate notices, immigration information, and life events.  She noted that she has only used so far, and was happy to get information on additional online resources.  As a result of her newspaper research, she is off on a trip to Germany to meet some Zuck relatives and do more family history research.

John F. went to Illinois in March to see his grandson graduate from NTC, and was able to have two days doing research in nearby Lee and Will counties.  He called ahead to the libraries, and the librarian had materials ready for him to review.  He copied many newspaper pages with information about his Holdren families, and was able to determine the parents of his ancestor Mathias Holdren, the list of Mathias Holdren's  children  from an obituary, and Holdren farm sale news.

Helen S. noted that, she was able to find her husband's ancestor's obituary from cemetery records, and the obituary helped with subsequent research.

Susi P. and Shirley B. have had good success finding records on the Old Fulton History website and obituary clipping collections in libraries and genealogical societies.

Ann S. is helping to transcribe articles from Clark County, Wisconsin historical newspapers.

Other success stories included:

Shirley B. found a death date for her Jacob Plue in the 1860 Census Mortality Schedule, and information about a War of 1812 Land Warrant for another ancestor.

Susi P. found a compiled military service record for one of her second-great-grandfather's Civil War service - she had not known he had served.

Helen S. passed around an image of two records for a marriage, both dated the same day - one was the license to marry, the other the certificate of marriage, with different record book references.  She also learned from this record that the bride had been married previously.

Randy shared news of the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree in June and the DearMYRTLE Organization Checklist he is using to create surname notebooks as part of his file organization task. 

All in all, this was an informative session with lots of records discussed and questions answered.

The next CVGS Research Group meeting will be Wednesday, 4 May at 12 noon in the Conference Room at the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chula Vista Historic Home Tour on Saturday, 30 April

Chula Vista's 100th Year Anniversary of incorporation of the city is in 2011. The Chula Vista Centennial website is at  One of the major activities is the Historic Home Tour and Street Fair on Satyurday, 30 April from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Five homes will be on tour, along with our popular “Tea in the Garden.” There will be an old-fashioned street fair, vintage autos, a horse and carriage, costumers in period dress, cultural entertainment, raffles, and unique items for sale. The tour will include houses from 1896 to 1995, encompassing almost a hundred years. For more information and to buy tickets:
The Chula Vista Genealogical Society will have a booth located in the yard of the home at 344 Hilltop Drive. We will display memorabilia and history of our society, pictures and bios of our honorees, CVGS member, Mrs. Mary Nelson, and Mr. Roy Peters, husband of CVGS member Margaret Peters. Mary and Roy were born in Chula Vista over 80 years ago. Mary will be at the booth from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. to share her experience about growing up in Chula Vista and to answer questions. Mary’s ancestors and Roy’s ancestors have played an important role in the development and history of Chula Vista. The biography and pictures of Ann Hedenkamp, mother of CVGS member Eleanor Hedenkamp will be displayed. Ann was very well known in Chula Vista over the past sixty years, and the Hedenkamp Elementary School is named in honor of Ann and her husband, William. Other interesting items will be displayed and genealogical items will be sold at the CVGS booth.

The Home Tour and Fair will have vintage autos, including Model A’s, on view at each of the five historical homes on Hilltop Drive and at the Chula Vista Heritage Museum. A vintage horse drawn carriage will be available for rides. A trolley will furnish transportation from the Chula Vista Heritage Museum, 360 Third Avenue to and from the Fair route on Hilltop.

Refreshments and a place to rest will be provided to all CVGS members attending the fair. The picnic venue will be located at the Starkey House (21 F Street). Period dress is encouraged. Ruth Himan can be contacted for hats, parasols, and dress. Top hats are available for under 20 dollars for the men to "walk" the ladies. A simple suit, overcoat, etc would work fine for men. If you wish to reserve "dress" with Ruth ---it will be first come - first served. So call soon  619-934-0971.  There will be dressers at Ruth's address on the morning of April 30th to help with dress, hair, or make-up,  if desired.

This is an opportunity for a family fun day where family members of all ages to learn more about our society, its members, and Chula Vista history.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Probate, Will, and Insurance and the Law Seminar Review

We had 32 attendees at the April 2nd CVGS Seminar, including five non-members, at the Bonita Library for the presentations on Probates, Wills, Insurance Papers, and the Law” by Del Stevens (husband of CVGS member Ann Stevens) and Michael Murphy (President Gary Brock's neighbor).

Del Stevens explained the history of insurance – it started the merchants in China insuring their wares in 2500 BC. Life insurance started in England in the early 1800s, and it was prevalent in the USA by the 1830s – New York Life, Metropolitan, Prudential were mentioned. Basically, the insurance agent assesses risk and defines the premium required to insure the life, property, etc. for a term. Insurance in the 21st century is confidential between the insurance company and the parties – the companies hold the applications and other paperwork and have no responsibility to provide it. If you find it in a set of family papers of an ancestor, the papers can be highly informative and are judged to be highly reliable, and would provide a good biographical snapshot at the time of the application. Property title information is a different story – they are public records and can be accessed at County Recorder offices.

Michael Murphy defined many of the terms found in probate records, including will, codicil, administration, etc. He also described the different parts of a 21st century will and what it needs to cover – name of the testator, state and county of residence, alternate names, and declaration that it is their will. The will needs to declare marital or partnership status, declare the children of the testator, declare an executor, and be signed in the presence of two or more witnesses. A formal will can be changed by a codicil, which revises or adds to the terms of the will.

After the death of the testator, the executor files a petition for probate of the will in the Probate Court, and the substantiating witnesses may need to testify in order to prove the will as valid. There is no probate if there is no property. In California, an estate with property values below $100,000 goes through an abbreviated administrative process rather than the more complex probate process. The executor must take an inventory and make an appraisal of the real and personal property, and provide lists for “separate property” (owned solely by the testator) and “community property” (jointly held with another person such as a spouse). If real estate must be sold to disperse the property to the heirs, then a notice must be published. An Executor's Deed would be in the probate records that shows the parcel number and a description of the property. The Executor files a petition for court approval of the final property distribution according to the will of the testator, the actions of the executor and the laws of the state. After court approval, the property is distributed to the heirs.

Both presenters provided visuals of some of the papers that make up insurance and probate papers based on their own family histories.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Paula Sassi on "Handwriting and History"

The CVGS Program on Wednesday, 30 March featured graphologist Paula Sassi speaking on "Handwriting and History."  Her curriculum vitae is listed in CVGS Program on Wednesday, 30 March: "Handwriting and History."   Her website is Handwriting Consultants (

She noted that the handwriting of every person is unique - each person's brain controls their hand movements and there are variations in letter form, letter, word and line spacing, and letter slant.

Several different "art forms" throughout history were shown - from hieroglyphics, Gothic, and Spencerian "hands" to Palmer and O'Nealian copybook methods were shown as examples of how handwriting standards varied throughout history.

Paula said that graphologists use certain clues from the letter and word variations to identify personality characteristics.  for instance, a leftward slant denotes interest in the past, the self, the feminine; no slant may indicate someone in the present and independent; a slant to the right denoted interest in the future, other people, and the masculine.  How a person dashes t's, dots i's, and does lower zone tails (e.g., g, y) may reveal other characteristics. 

Her examples were handwritten samples from her collection - famous signatures in a hotel ledger, Civil War and World War II letters, autograph books, dance cards, family recipes, etc.  Paula pointed out some of the traits suggested by graphology in her presentation.  The stories from the ephemera were even more interesting than the handwriting analysis.