Friday, February 27, 2015

February 25th Program Review - Barbara Zaragoza

CVGS member Barbara Zaragoza was the Program speaker at the 25 February 2015 program meeting at the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library Auditorium.  Her topic was "San Ysidro and the Tijuana River Valley."

Barbara recently wrote the book San Ysidro and the Tijuana River Valley for Arcadia Publishing, and it is chock full of photographs of the border region from the 1850s up to the present.  She published 90 of the 2,000 photos that were collected.

In the first part of her talk, Barbara discussed the pre-American history of the border region, from the Native-American tribes who had three vilalges in the region and left lots of artifacts, to the Spanish colonization starting in 1769 by Father Serra, then about Mexico's independence from Spain in 1821 and creation of the Santiago Arguello Melijo Rancho and Rancho Tiajuana that stretched from the ocean to Otay Mountain.  She had a picture of the Arguello home called "La Punta" which was obliterated by building I-5 in 1951 near the salt works.

After the U.S.-Mexico border was defined by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 51 border monuments were installed between the ocean and El Paso, Texas, with three strands of wire marking the border to prevent animals from straying across.   In the 1870's, a U.S. Customs House was built near the present San Ysidro border crossing.  Real estate development started on the U.S. side, some Japanese farmers settled in the Tijuana river Valley, and a schoolhouse was built at the end of Hollister Street.

Tiajuana City was started in 1887 on the U.S. side near the present border crossing, but it was wiped out by the 1891 Tijuana river flood, and the residents fled to the Mexico side of the border.

Another border commission installed new border monuments starting in El Paso and finishing with number 258 at the Pacific Ocean.  Marker 255 still stands in San Ysidro by the train station.

William E. Smythe, an East Coast journalist, laid out a utopian agricultural community in 1908 called "Little Landers" in San Ysidro on 1 acre plots, with a hotel, on the river floodplain.  He also named the area San Ysidro.  In the 1916 great flood, the community was washed away.

In 1911, the Industrial Workers of the World took over Tijuana on the Mexico side by force, and some Mexicans fled to San Ysidro.  Some Americans watched the battles from their side of the border.  Mexico eventually won the battle.

In 1915, the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego sponsored train trips to Tijuana for a Mexican Fair, sightseeing and other purposes.  When the U.S. passed Prohibition in 1919, Frank E. Beyer set up a "Vice City" in Tijuana with clubs, opium dens and a racetrack and many Americans visited.

By 1924, San Ysidro had a library, two churches, and many homes.  In the 1930s, dairy farmers were in the Tijuana River Valley.  Border Field was opened in 1929 and became a State Park in 1971.  In 1955, a chain link fence was built.  In 1957, San Ysidro was annexed into the city of San Diego.  By the 1960s, the population of San Ysidro was about 7,000, and 80% were of Mexican heritage.  The building of I-805 in the 1967-1975 time period displaced about 300 homes and businesses in San Ysidro.  The San Diego Trolley terminus was located in San Ysidro near the border crossing.  The border crossing has traffic of about 50 million persons a year, the highest land port of entry numbers in the world.

The far western portion of the Tijuana River Valley is still undeveloped and is protected as a California State Park, and is the largest coastal wetland on the West Coast Flyway.

This was an interesting discussion of local history and the events that led to the settlement of San Ysidro, Tijuana and the Tijuana River Valley.  Barbara's book can be purchased at and at  She has a website at including a blog about local history and culture.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

CVGS February 25th Program - Barbara Zaragoza


from 12 noon to 2 p.m.
At Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library Auditorium 
(365 F Street)

Barbara Zaragoza on “San Ysidro and the Tijuana River Valley”

San Ysidro and the Tijuana River Valley by Arcadia Publishing traces the history of the border region through a large collection of photographs. In 1851, surveyors placed a marble obelisk on a mesa overlooking the Pacific Ocean, which demarcated the United States-Mexico boundary line. Tourists flocked to the region alongside land speculators who envisioned upscale hotels, resorts, and spas. Tia-juana, at the time, was a small town, which existed on both the American and Mexican side. 

Two decades later, an East Coast journalist, William Smythe, established a utopian agricultural colony in what is today San Ysidro. The colony was washed away by the 1916 flood and after that, Border Barons lived there while earning their living through the flourishing Vice Tourism industry in Tijuana.  

The presentation will include pictures of the San Diego-Tijuana border from the 1880's onward, stories of the man who drank one bottle of whiskey per day, the controversial rumor that Seabiscuit was boarded in the Valley, and a private picture of Bobby Kennedy in San Ysidro one day before his assassination.

Author Barbara Zaragoza, a CVGS member, with her master's degree in history from Harvard University, has used extensive interviews of community members as well as photographs from private and public collections to capture what it has meant to live in this small border community. She is a freelance writer who resides in Chula Vista, California.  Barbara will have her books to sell for $20 each.

This meeting is free to attend.  There will be a short society business meeting before the presentation, and refreshments before and after the meeting.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Escondido Family History Fair is Saturday, 7 March 2015

The all-day Escondido Family History Fair will be on Saturday, 7 March, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Escondido Family History Center (2255 Felicita Road, Escondido).  Registration opens at 8 a.m., and registrants can sign up for classes after checking in.

The Fair is free to attend, but you should have a ticket when you arrive that morning. Go to their website and just type in your name and email address.

They've had a problem with pre-registering for the individual classes, and there are no times listed, so we won't know until we arrive that day when each class will be. 

The Keynote speaker is Crista Cowan "The Barefoot Genealogist" for  Other speakers include (click on their names to see a list of topics):

You can also order lunch for $3.70 using Paypal by going to this link (The Hispanic Heritage Project is providing their services for payment of the lunch).

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society will have a carpool leaving at 7:15 a.m. from the second level of the downtown Chula Vista parking garage (halfway between the Marie Callender's entrance on F Street and the Fuddruckers entrance on Third Avenue).  The carpool will leave at 5 p.m. and arrive in Chula Vista at about 5:45 p.m.

If you want to go by carpool, please contact Randy Seaver (email, or phone 619-422-3397) to get on the list.

Monday, February 16, 2015

CVGS Research Group Review - February 2015

The 11 February 2015 Research Group meeting had 16 attendees and met in the auditorium. 

In the first hour of the meeting:

Karen Yarger reminded everyone about the Escondido Family History Fair with particular attention to registration mechanics.

John Finch facilitated the meeting, beginning with a discussion of the website Genealogy Today at The cost is $9.00 per year and it has many features, such as blogs, a daily news email, and several family charts.

John focused on a case study where he could not find available records and initially relied on other sources. Searching for his wife’s grandmother, he found she disappeared after the 1930 census. Family members were tight-lipped about her story, but he persisted and finally discovered the answer to the mystery – the grandmother murdered her husband in a desperate act. Searching for the complete story in newspapers from Gallup, N.M. for the year 1932, he continued his search in Chula Vista using an inter-library loan. It was a remarkable story because even though she was convicted and sentenced to 99 years, women petitioned the court and Teresita was released from prison. John later found even more when the New Mexico Department of Corrections released its records and there was a photo and background information about Teresita. His message was twofold: be persistent in asking questions of family and search all types of records.

In the second hour of the meeting, John first took questions. 

*  Scarlet asked about an ancestor originally in North Carolina but later moved to Indiana and Iowa. The only thing she knew was that this person was a Quaker. John suggested the person started in the Shenandoah Valley and migrated to Indiana and Iowa because of the homesteading available for fertile land. He added that most of the North Carolina area was settled by plantation owners, indentures, and slaves.

*  Sylvia asked about a second great grandfather who immigrated from Germany to Indiana in about 1855-1857. John suggested she look at manifests for Castle Garden, but cautioned they have no indexes. He added that travelling to Illinois he found family information in a Cook County library, adding that once again the information was in an unexpected place.

Then attendees went around the room and shared their current status: 

*  Gary is busy with Wild Apricot and not doing genealogy right now!

*  Arlene is looking for a Smith or Hastings ancestor that may have been illegitimate

*  Mary Lou seems to find brick walls everywhere and is looking for an Irish ancestor that enlisted in the Civil War, was released in Houston and then continued to travel. She also pointed out that the website now has information that was previously only available to DAR members, such as Bible records and other affidavits.

*  Karen Y. is focused on recording family stories, such as a French Huguenot and Irish immigrant here during the American Revolution. Her interest is when and why they chose a side to fight for during the conflict.

*  Ralph seems stuck on his father’s side, a great grandfather who lived on both sides of the border in Ozona, Texas and Del Rio, Mexico in about 1900 and is difficult to pin down.

*  Carole is working on an email received through She has located some new relatives on her great grandfather’s side. She also brought a news article and news photos about the driving of the golden spike that joined the California and Arizona railroads.

*  Karen S. is integrating some old information she collected in the late 1970s with information collected in the past two years.

*  Sam Seat can’t seem to go beyond a second great grandfather on his line and tried to attach it to a Creech, but was unsuccessful so far. He also asked how to identify old photos and got several suggestions.

*  Linda put together old family pictures to show at a family reunion and got cousins involved.

*  Ana found a 1797 baptismal record from a Catholic mission near Juarez, Mexico. It has her third great grandfather’s name on it. She is trying to learn where the family came from in Spain or the Canary Islands.

*  Sylvia –is searching for Thomas Benton Hoover, born in Tennessee 1843 and died about 1888 in Texas.

*  Kathleen is grateful she contacted relatives who successfully labeled the old photos she inherited.

*  Gary did a short presentation on Wild Apricot, showing several features of the website such a the searchable book list, information about other surnames members are looking for, and the features only available to members.

The next meeting of the Research Group will be on Wednesday, 11 March 2015, at 12 noon in the Auditorium of the Chula Vista Civic Center Library (365 F Street in downtown Chula Vista).

My thanks to Karen Smith for this review!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

February 2015 Newsletter is Published

The Febuary 2015 issue of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS) Newsletter was published last 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 - February 25th Program Meeting  
page 2 - President’s Message 
page 2 - RootsTech 2015 Livestreamed Video 
page 3 - March 14th Workshop  
page 3 - Next Computer Group Meeting 

page 3 - Lemon Grove Research Group News 
page 3 - March 21st NSDCGS Seminar
page 3 - Membership and Program Interest Surveys 
page 3 - DearMYRTLE Beginning Genealogy Group
page 4 - March 7th Escondido Family History Fair

page 4 - Who Do You Think You Are? Information
page 5 - Genealogy In Time Top 100 Websites
page 5 - Geneapalooza Comic Strip
page 6 - January 14th Research Group Review
page 7 - January 28th Program Review

page 8 - Top 10 Most Searched FamilySearch Databases
page 8 - Rob Cardwell's Genealogy Video
page 9 - CVGS Society Information 
page 9 - San Diego Genealogy Events  
page 10 - Genealogy Days in Chula Vista 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

CVGS Saturday Workshop on February 7th: Mississippi Research

The next Saturday Workshop is February 7th, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bonita-Sunnyside Library (4375 Bonita Road) in the Community Room.

Susi Pentico will lead the discussion of "Researching Mississippi."

Monday, February 2, 2015

January 28th Program Review - Steve Andres on "U.S.S. Midway Museum"

Steve Andres was the featured speaker at the January 28th program meeting - his topic was the "U.S.S. Midway Museum."  There were 35 in attendance.  Steve discussed the history of the ship and the features of the current museum anchored in San Diego Bay (see

The U.S.S. Midway (CV-41) is a "retired" aircraft carrier - commissioned in 1945, built in Newport News in 18 months, refitted several times, and decommissioned in 1991.  It was brought to San Diego in 2004 to be a museum on San Diego Bay rather than being destroyed.

The Midway was the first steel-deck carrier.  It started as a 45 thousand ton warship without an angled deck, and was refitted in 1955 with an angled deck, and again in the 1960s to bring it up to a 75 thousand ton warship.  The U.S.S. Midway was homeported around the world, including Norfolk, Virginia, Yokosuka, Japan, and Alameda, California.  It played a major role in the Viet Nam War, Cold War, Desert Storm, and humanitarian missions, especially in the Philippines.  The Wikipedia article about the Midway is at

As a museum, it is supported by museum members, gate ticket receipts, and donations.  There is a large number of volunteers who act as docents, providing information to visitors and as tour guides, in addition to maintaining and improving the ship and the onboard aircraft.  There are 60 exhibits, 27 aircraft, movies, and more.  Visitors can take a self-guided audio tour to learn about the U.S.S. Midway.  The attendance has increased each year, and the museum had 1.2 million visitors in 2014.

The Midway Museum has several educational programs - overnight sleepovers, day programs for 2nd to 8th graders, and evening programs for adults, with dinner attendance up to 5,000 persons.

This was an interesting slide presentation, and Steve's humor and information was excellent.  He answered many questions about the ship's history and the features of the U.S.S. Midway Museum.