Thursday, May 26, 2011

CVGS Program Summary - "My Ancestors Came From England..."

The 25 May program meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society featured Fred Spong, a retired physician and genealogist, presenting "My Ancestors Came From England, and That's All I Know."

Fred started off reciting his ancestry, and all he knew about his father's origins was that he was born in England in 1909.  He didn't know where.  The first lesson that he learned about English research was that you have to find the town that they came from.  He also heard a family story from his father's brother that the family was booked on the Titanic in 1912 but the children were sick with the mumps and measles, so they delayed migrating to Canada until 1914.  Fred noted that he wouldn't be here except for the mumps his father had as a child.

His mother had his father's US citizenship petition from 1926, which provided a birth date, and birthplace of Wandsworth near London.  With that information, Fred worked in the English Civil Registration indexes online and obtained his father's birth record in 1909, then his grandparents marriage record in 1906.  He then continued back in time using the Civil Registration records and the English Census records to find the ancestral families.  Before 1837, the church Parish Registers are the best resource for baptisms, marriages and burials, and Fred was able to take his Spong line back to 1720. 

In his presentation, he showed these research processes, using the  and subscription databases, ordering the civil registration (birth, marriage and death) certificates for a fee through the websites, and making use of the Family History Library microfilms for the older parish records.  It was an excellent example of using all the available resources - online databases, published books and microfilm records - to solve a research problem.

In the second part of the program, Fred described how to do surname research of a family with English ancestry, discussed the Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS, and provided a short bibliography of American and English books that describe English social history, researching in England, origin of names, immigration records, etc.

Friday, May 20, 2011

CVGS Program Wednesday, 25 May: "My Ancestors Are From England"

The May 25th program meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society will be at 11:30 a.m. in the Auditorium of the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street).  The program will start promptly at 11:30 a.m.  Please note the TIME CHANGE for this event only! 

The Program Speaker will be Fred Spong on "My Ancestors Are From England, And That's All I Know."

The possibility of finding an ancestor in English records diminishes significantly if you do not know the town and county that he or she came from.

This presentation will discuss the avenues that can be utilized if the town and county of the ancestor are unknown. There are a number of resources available that may direct the researcher to the correct ancestor and they will be discussed.

Fred Spong is a retired physician who has been doing genealogical research for about 13 years. He is a past-President of the North San Diego County Genealogical Society, and is a delegate to the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

Please note the time change – 11:30 a.m. for the start of Fred's presentation.  The Conference Room doors will open at about 11 a.m. for attendee registration, handout distribution, and a snack.  The business meeting will occur after the presentation this month.

Friday, May 13, 2011

CVGS Research Group Summary - 11 May 2011

We had 18 attendees (a record, I think) at the 11 May 2011 meeting of the CVGS Research Group.  It was a lively group with lots of sharing and many questions (with answers!).

After introductions around the table, Randy Seaver made a 30 minute presentation on Maps and Atlases, and their use in genealogy and family history research.  Using maps helps us find the residences of our ancestral families, help us determine jurisdictional location, help us understand the terrain where our families lived, and help us determine possible migration paths.  Useful books, useful free and commercial map websites, and Google Maps and the Earthpoint site were covered.

Several attendees expounded on how maps have helped their research:

*  Bobbie brought a plat map of Lake county, Illinois that helped her sort out neighbors of her Titus family.
*  Myrna advised "grad and keep maps wherever you find them" and told us about some of her colonial town, cemetery and town cadastral maps.  She noted that many historical societies have large cadastral maps on their walls or in their vertical files.
*  Karen shared some Maryland Eastern Shore maps with family names that she found in a historical society and a maritime museum.

*  Steve had a "Germania" map from the mid-1700s that he used to find ancestral towns.

Several question were asked about maps:

*  Where can one find European, Canadian and United Kingdom maps?  The group suggested sites for the countries, specific country archives and historical/genealogical societies, and the  Research Wiki.  For English parish maps, try the English Jurisdictions 1851 website.  Google Maps ( shows the road view, some street-level views, and the satellite view, for many settled places, especially in North America and Europe. 

*  How often does Google update their maps?  The group noted that the road and satellite views are updated regularly, but Street Views only occasionally.

*  How should we handle historical place names in our research and in our software?  The group stated that place names for events should reflect the jurisdiction at the time of the event.  However, the current software programs access Google Maps or Bing Maps, or similar, which reflect only current jurisdictions.  This can be a problem for historical place names that have changed jurisdictions.  The suggestion was made to use the current place name, but add the historical jurisdiction in your event or research notes and in the event description field.

If CVGS members want a copy of the handout from Randy's presentation, please contact him at

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May 2011 CVGS Newsletter is Online

The May 2011 issue of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society Newsletter is available online for your information and entertainment.  Go to:

The Table of Contents includes:

page 1 -- May 25th Program Meeting

page 2 -- President’s Message
page 3 -- June 4th Workshop
page 3 -- SCGS Genealogy Jamboree June 10-12
page 3 -- Ask Gene E. Allogee, Tips and Techniques

page 4 -- Research Group News
page 4 -- Computer Group News
page 5 -- Chula Vista Centennial Historic Home Tour
page 5 -- Lemon Grove Research Group News
page 6 -- March 30th Program Review

page 6 -- Tune in to Genealogy Radio
page 7 -- Computer-Related Genealogy News
page 8 --Upcoming Webinars in May and June
page 8 -- April 2011 Genealogy 101 Class Graduates
page 9 -- CVGS Society Information

page 9 -- San Diego Genealogy Events
page 10 -- Genealogy Days in Chula Vista

Friday, May 6, 2011

Saturday workshop on 7 May: "Mid-Atlantic States Research"

CVGS Member Susi Pentico will present "Mid-Atlantic States Research" at the Bonita Library (4375 Bonita Road, in the Community Room) on Saturday, 7 May from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

If you have ancestry in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia or North Carolina then this discussion might be useful to you.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Genealogy Days in Chula Vista - May 2011

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society events for May 2011 include:

** Saturday, 7 May, 12:30 3 p.m., Bonita County Library (4375 Bonita Road) -- Outreach Workshop meets  in Community Room.  Susi Pentico will present "Mid-Atlantic States Research."

** Wednesday 11 May, 12 noon to 2 p.m., 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, 18 May, 12 noon 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.  Sharpen your computer skills and investigate online genealogy resources.

** Wednesday, 25 March, 11:30 2 p.m., Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street) -- General Society Meeting meets in the Conference Room. Fred Spong will present "My Ancestors Came From England, and That is All I Know."  There will be a society business meeting after the presentation.

** Wednesday mornings (10 a.m. to 12 noon) - May 4, 11, 18 and 25 - Genealogy Table Talk with Dearl Glenn in the Family Research section of the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library. He is ready and willing to help people with their research, discuss a research problem or success, or just tell stories.

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 Bonita Library is located at 4375 Bonita Road in Bonita - just west of the Otay Lakes Road intersection with Bonita Road, on the north side of Bonita Road. The Chula Vista South Library is at 389 Orange Avenue (southeast corner on Fourth Avenue) - parking lot is off of Orange east of Fourth.

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.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

CVGS Program Review - "When the Sources are Wrong"

Hank Jones was the featured presenter at the Chula Vista Genealogical Society program meeting on Wednesday, 27 April; his topic was "When the Sources Are Wrong."

Hank is, of course, a well-known actor, author and genealogical speaker (see who now lives in the San Diego area, and CVGS has been fortunate to have him make presentations in 2010 and 2011.

In this talk, he noted that 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. The talk discussed our common problem of erroneous sources and offers solutions as to what to do when we encounter them.

Derivative sources were discussed. The genealogical accuracy of the late-19th early 20th century "mug book" sketches of living families may be fine, but colonial generations may be erroneous. Census indices may have errors (for example, a published census index of the 1830 Federal Census of Maryland showed 52% error when compared with the original documents!). The pre-1930 family histories (which often lacked the Jacobus emphasis on documentation and weighing all of the evidence) should be critically reviewed. Some of the "saints and sinners" of the genealogical past are discussed, and names set forth as to which ones to trust (not Gustave Anjou!).

From his long work with German language church books in the northeastern USA, Hank discussed the quirks of old church books, 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 were presented, with solutions offered as to what to do when errors are discovered therein when compared with other known documentation.

Perhaps the most interesting discussion was the classical way that Hank developed the family sketches in his Palatine books - he used the church books (in German) to make family group sheets to capture all of the details about families, and to link them together. He had 17,000 family group sheets! He found it best to look for patterns in the records, and to watch for inconsistencies in the records (for instance, one pastor mixed the columns for witnesses and parents, resulting in many grandparents being named as the parents in subsequent transcriptions and indexes).

Hank had many words of wisdom for today's genealogists:

"Nothing is ever where it should be." You may find marriages mixed into births in original records, living siblings may have the same names, and many events were not registered.

"Original sources are often wrong." The attending midwife or doctor may list the mother's names as "unknown," a church book may provide a wrong birthplace, the writer of the record may not understand the informant's speech or dialect.

"Keep your antenna up when evaluating sources." "Cousin" and "nephew" did not always mean what they do today, and a "brother" or "sister" might be part of a religious order.

"Put your 21st century minds in the 18th century lives. Try to be your ancestor" Don't assume that our ancestors knew what you know, or that their lives were like present-day, or even 20th century times.

"Historians don't have to be genealogists, but genealogists have to be historians." Amen!

"Write down what you know, and provide your own interpretation and opinion. Use the 3 P's - perhaps, possibly and probably - appropriately."

"The mark of a really great genealogist is to be willing to modify their own work." New records are found that provide additional evidence for conclusions. Amen!

"Bob Anderson's The Great Migration Begins volumes are the books I wanted to write." I think Hank did fine with the much more difficult to research Palatine books!

This was an engaging, humorous and serious talk about an important subject.