Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 27th Program Review - "Probate Records"

Over 40 members and guests attended the CVGS program on 27 May 2015 at Bonita-Sunnyside Library to hear "Probate Records - My Favorite Record Type" presented by CVGS member Randy Seaver.

This talk covered three main topics:

1) Why do you want to obtain Probate Records?  Randy noted that they help define family relationships in an official court document, they may provide death dates and locations, they may provide married daughters' surnames, they may provide insight into literacy, belongings and real property, and they may provide occupations and signatures.

2)  What are Probate Records?  He said that they are court records created after a person's death for the purpose of distributing the real and personal estate to heirs and creditors, usually filed in a county court, according to state law at the time of the event.  Estates are either testate (there is a valid will) or Intestate (there is no valid will).  Randy described the proceedings required for both testate and intestate cases, the widow's dower rights, inheritance guidelines for intestate cases, guardianship proceedings, etc.  Each event in a probate case may generate one or more pieces of paper, each submitted to the court for approval, and these papers make up the estate case file.  

Randy showed and read text from three wills of his ancestors to illustrate the content and variety encountered in colonial and more modern wills.  He also described and showed several of the papers that might be in an intestate case file.  

3)  Where can you find Probate Records?  Indexes of probate records may be found online, at a library or repository in published or periodical form, and in local courthouses.  Actual probate records - the estate case files - are usually in the county probate court or in a state archive.  Court clerk transcriptions of some of the original documents are also in the county probate court.  Microfilms of probate court records for many counties are available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and can be borrowed at a local FamilySearch Library.  Other repositories may have microfilms also.  He worked through finding an ancestor's will in Norfolk County, Ontario on FHL microfilm.

FamilySearch has digitized probate court records for about 30 states from the microfilms, but these record collections have to be browsed - think of them as "digital microfilm."  To use them, the records are "waypointed" by county, then by the case numbers or by the court volume numbers.  The key is to use the Estate Index" to find the name of the deceased, note the proceedings index volume and page, search the proceedings index for the deceased name, note the record type, court volume numbers and page numbers, and then access the court volumes and find the records on the pages.  Randy worked through one example from Pennsylvania probate records on FamilySearch. also has probate and estate databases, but has few actual probate case papers.  Other online sites may have case file indexes and, in some cases, digitized probate case files or court volumes.

In conclusion, Randy noted that:

*   Probate records are really valuable genealogical records, 
*  Not all probate records are available on microfilm or online - you may have  to visit a courthouse or archive to access them
*  It is important to know the state probate laws at the time of the deceased's demise.h
*  It is important to know the jurisdiction - state or territory, county, town, etc. - at the time of the deceased's demise. 

Randy has a page on his Genea-Musings blog with his transcriptions of probate and other records of his ancestors - see

Sunday, May 24, 2015

CVGS Program on Wednesday, 27 May is on "Probate Records"

The 27 May 2015 Program meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society will start at 12 noon in the Community Room at the Bonita-Sunnyside Library (4375 Bonita Road in Bonita).  

NOTE:  The venue is changed for this month.

The program of "Probate Records - My Favorite Record Type!" will be presented by Randy Seaver.

The program description is:

"Probate records are my absolute favorite record type for identifying and proving family relationships. This presentation describes the overall probate process, the different kinds of probate records, and how to find and obtain probate records in repositories and online record collections."

The speaker's biography is:

"Randy is a native San Diegan, retired aerospace engineer, genealogist and family guy. He and his wife (Angel Linda) love to travel, visit friends and relatives (especially the grandchildren), sightsee, cruise or do genealogy. Their travels have taken them all over the USA, England, Down Under and Scandinavia.  Randy is a past President of CVGS and is currently the Newsletter Editor and the Research Chair.  He blogs every day at Genea-Musings ( on genealogy news, resources, software and his own research."

There will be a short business meeting before the presentation, and snacks before and after the meeting.  This meeting is FREE to attend.  

Saturday, May 16, 2015

CVGS Research Group Review - 13 May 2015

We had 20 eager genealogists at the May 13th Research Group meeting at the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library.

In the first hour, Randy discussed the following items:

*  CVGS Member Barbara Zaragoza published Dorothy Alvord's memoir on living in San Ysidro on her website, Friends of San Ysidro.  See Dorothy's memoir and photos at  Ralph Munoz mentioned that he also has a photo gallery on Barbara's website at

*  Pinterest ( is a free social media website where members can upload their own photos, or can "pin" images from websites.  The images can be put into "boards" which are collections.  Randy's Pinterest boards can be seen at  This serves as a photo backup service and a way to save interesting images.  He collects "genealogy stuff" in addition to photo boards for several family groups.  Several other attendees had Pinterest accounts.  

*  Find A Grave ( is a free genealogy site with over 120 million memorials for deceased persons added by volunteers.  The memorials include vital information, cemetery information, biographies, obituaries, and photographs of gravestones.  The site can be searched, and registered users can create memorials and upload photographs and other information.  We found that Glen Abbey Memorial Park was 90% photographed.

*  DearMYRTLE (Pat Richley-Erickson) has a YouTube Channel ( ) that archives her Hangouts On Air with panelists on various topics.  Pat has weekly free-to-watch Hangouts On Air called Mondays With Myrt, Beginning Genealogy, Genealogy Game night, Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group, etc.  Viewers can watch these videos at any time.

*  MyHeritage has introduced Instant Discoveries for users with a MyHeritage Family Tree.  The system searches other trees for the same person, and suggests a number of family members to the user.  By accepting an Instant discovery, more persons are added to the user's family tree.

In the second hour, the attendees shared:

*  Diane went to the Mission Valley FamilySearch Library with the CVGS group and found information on her Michael surname family.  It took her uncle's line back 10 generations.

*  Lorrie asked about the DNA Tribes website. The link is  

*  Karen's mother had a baby sister named Sarah who died as an infant.  The family had a locket with the baby's picture.  Karen has been researching Sarah, and realized that she named her own daughter the same name without knowing her aunt's name.  Psychic?

*  Jane subscribed to, and found her father's father's death certificate.  It said his father was born in Naples, Italy.  She also watched in amazement at the NBC Today show segment shown on 12 May about the family story hologram made of a Holocaust survivor answering questions about his life.  The hologram looked very real - she thought it was "a way to talk to the dead" in the future.  Watch the video segment at

*  Ann passed around the newly received New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer book that CVGS recently ordered.  She brought two books that she obtained during her research trip to Germany in 2014.  She found a Drollinger cousin on Facebook before the trip, and visited him, and ate in the family restaurant.  He gave Ann the two books, one on the Drollinger family and one on the hometown.    They are in German, of course, and Ann needs a way to translate phrases in the book.  Sam noted that the Translate mobile app will translate text in one language to another from a screen image.  

*  Gary noted that uses modern place names for their records and maps, not the historical place names.  He wondered how to find historic place names.  FamilySearch has the FamilySearch Place Research tool at  A user puts in the modern location and the historical place jurisdictions and years involved are returned. 

*  Karen Y. has collected military records for her father from World War II.  She has been seeking her uncle's military records, and found that the uncle died on Iwo Jima.  A relative had movies made by the uncle during the battle.  Karen found a book at a Coronado boo9k store with a photo of the uncle.  There was also a story in the book about the Mariana Turkey Shoot which her father was in.

*  Hazel asked exactly what Evidence Explained is.  Randy showed features from the book on his computer as a PDF file, and Elizabeth Shown Mills' website,

*  Gary noted that the new CVGS website has a Forums feature where members can ask questions, answer them, or provide useful information to society members.  See the Forums section on

The next CVGS Research Group meeting will be on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 at 12 noon in the Computer Lab of the Chula Vista Covic Center Branch Library.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 2015 CVGS Newsletter is Published

The May 2015 issue of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS) Newsletter was published this week.  

Society Members can read it online, in a PDF format - use the "Members" link (roll over "Members," and click on "Newsletters") at  

Non-members can read CVGS Newsletters two months after publication, per Board of Directors direction (on, roll over "News" and click on "Newsletters").

The Table of Contents lists:

page 1 -- May 27th Program Meeting   
page 2 -- President’s Message  
page 2 -- Who's Due to Pay Dues? 
page 3 -- June 6th Workshop  
page 3 -- Next Computer Group Meeting

page 3 -- Lemon Grove Research Group News
page 3 -- Save the Date: June 27th for Picnic 
page 3 -- Save the Date: November 7th for Seminar
page 4 -- Research Trip Report  
page 4 -- SCGS Genealogy Jamboree News 

page 5 -- Carlsbad Cole Library Closed September to February
page 5 -- Ancestry Academy
page 5 -- Family Tree Webinars
page 6 -- April 13th Research Group Review 
page 7 -- April 29th Program Review 
page 7 -- Nina Schultheis Passed Away 

page 8 -- Genealogy News for March and April 
page 9 -- CVGS Society Information 
page 9 -- San Diego Genealogy Events 

page 10 -- Genealogy Days in Chula Vista 

Monday, May 4, 2015

April 29th Program Meeting - Donie Nelson on "Family Stories: Secrets, Lies and Surprises"

The CVGS Program meeting on April 29th had 42 attendees, who heard Donie Nelson speak on "Family Stories: Secrets, Lies and Surprises."

Donie said that "you don't have to be a celebrity to have family surprises" and "Secrets, lies and surprises bring dull facts to life and bring generations together."  She suggested that we embrace the black sheep in our family tree because they are colorful and human. Each surprise leads to a family story that can be shared over generations.  

Yesterday's scandal may become today's exciting family story.  Stories can bring your ancestors to life.  All families have secrets, but they can reveal truths.  Secrets are concealed by lies.

Donie told a number of family stories that illustrated her points.  Her father, Raymond Nelson,  had Swedish and Scots ancestry, and her mother, Corinne Valdez, had Spanish and Scots ancestry.  Her father ran off to join the circus for five days, and worked for bootleggers on the upper Missouri River in the early 1930s.  Her parents tell different stories about how they met in Trinidad, Colorado, but they eloped to Raton, New Mexico to marry.  

Donie was named after her paternal grandmother, Donie Current, and Donie is short for Caledonia (there was a song about Caledonia).  

One of her mother's ancestors was Antonio Valdez, an early 20th century politician in Colorado, whose grandmother was Mary Clorinda Romero who was literate and a Jehovah's Witness.  Her mother's given name came from Clorinda.

Antonio Valdez was married three times, and there is a fascinating 40-page 1923 divorce document.  This line goes back into the early 1800s, including a Jose Joaquin Young who rode with Kit Carson all over the West.  

As Donie showed, there is some truth in every story, but sometimes it is difficult to sort out the story from the actual events.  Truth makes your family history memorable, and your stories may inspire family members to become researchers.  

Friday, May 1, 2015

Genealogy Days in Chula Vista - May 2015

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society events for May 2015 include:

 ** Saturday, 2 May, 10 4 p.m., Bonita-Sunnyside Library (4375 Bonita Road) -- 
CVGS Workshop.  Randy Seaver, Shirley Becker Bethel Williams and Susi Pentico on different subjects. 

** Wednesday, 13 May, 12 noon to 2 p.m., Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street) -- CVGS Research Group meets in the 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, 20 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. Bring your laptops to sharpen your computer skills and investigate online genealogy resources.

** Wednesday, 27 May, 12 noon  to 2 p.m., Bonita-Sunnyside Library (4375 Bonita Road).  CVGS Program Meeting meets in the Community Room.  The speaker will be Randy Seaver on "Probate Records -- My Favorite Record Type." Refreshments before and after the meeting.

**  Wednesdays, 6, 13, 20, and 27 May, 10 a.m. to 12 noon, Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street) --Research Assistance in the Family Research area.  John Finch will help you with your research problems.  Bring your laptop if you want to do online research.

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-Sunnyside (County) Library is located at 4375 Bonita Road in Bonita - turn north on Billy Casper Way, just west of the Otay Lakes Road intersection with Bonita Road, on the north side of Bonita Road.

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.  All CVGS events are FREE to attend, except for some seminars and picnics.