Saddleback Valley Trails
South Orange County California Genealogical Society

Vol. 13 No. 1 Editor: Mary Jo McQueen January 2006

 P.O. Box 4513, Mission Viejo, CA. 92690

Monthly meetings are held on the third Saturday of each month from 10:00 a.m. to Noon at the Mission Viejo Family History Center Institute Building, 27978 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo, between Medical Center Drive and Hillcrest Drive. Membership is open to anyone interested in genealogy. Individual membership fees are $20 per calendar year; $25 for joint membership. SOCCGS is not affiliated with the LDS Family History Center.

Please see membership renewal form on last page.

GENERAL MEETING, 21 January 2006

Presented By
Penny I. Feike

Many pioneer ancestors homesteaded, or purchased land. The original documents which were filed could be an extensive source of genealogical data.
Penny Feike will help guide us through the process of locating these documents and, thereby, uncovering additional information about our ancestors. It is also possible that land records may help verify facts already collected.
Ms. Feike has been involved with genealogy since she was 15 years old, when she began working at the San Diego Family History Library in 1970. She became a professional researcher in 1972. Penny’s areas of expertise are North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Please plan to attend and bring a friend! Refreshments will be served.
You might meet a cousin!


February 18 - Colleen Fitzpatrick, "Forensic Genealogy"
March 18 - Kathleen Trevena, "Migration Patterns in America"
April 15 - Allan Jones, “Genealogy Sources on the Internet”
October 21 - Seminar, Dr. George Schweitzer


On January 25 we will trek to Santa Monica to research at the Los Angeles Regional Family History Center. Go, where you can search for books, film and fiche available in the Center. this will enable you to better plan the day.

The car(s) will leave the LDS parking lot at 9 a.m. Bring a brown-bag lunch, $$ for your driver and dinner on the way home.


DR. SCHWEITZER is coming back to Mission Viejo. He will be the featured speaker at the October 21st Seminar. Many members will remember his presentations at our 2003 Seminar. Those who missed him then will want to be sure not to do so again! We are indeed fortunate to have secured him for our Fifth Annual Seminar.

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about. ~Charles Kingsley


We express our deepest sympathy to Herb Abrams on the passing of his wife, Marilyn Joan Abrams. She was born, Marilyn Thrasher, on November 17, 1932 and passed away on December 25, 2005. She was married to Herb Abrams in 1958. Herb’s job as an aerospace engineer took the family to Nashville, Ft. Worth, (where son Tom was born), Seattle, and back to San Diego. For several years Marilyn owned and operated a children's book store in La Jolla, California. She moved to Mission Viejo in 1971, where Herb was then employed. The family spent 18 months in France where Herb worked on the Concorde SST. In later years most of her time was spent tending her back yard garden. She had many cats and all were much loved. Marilyn was enthralled by nature, especially birds. She enjoyed collecting unusual items to decorate her patio, loved to laugh and play cards. Marilyn was a friend to all she met. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her.

Press Release: General Land Office Records Web Site Reconnected in BLM-Eastern States

“The Bureau of Land Management-Eastern States announced that its General Land Office (GLO) Records Web site is now back on line at Title companies, historians, genealogists, and other interested people can now once again obtain millions of historic land title records from the thirty Public Land States (those States not included in the original 13 Colonies), East and West, dating back to the 1780s. These fascinating and valuable records include homesteads, patents, military warrants, and railroad grants. To date more than 4.2 million records have been scanned and imaged since the project began in 1989. This Web site provides a wealth of historical data and literally tells the story of the settlement of the West.

The GLO Records Web site is one of the most popular Web sites at the Department of the Interior. The Web site offers customers the ability to easily research and query the GLO database by name, land description, and county, and view and print these historic documents from their homes or offices, saving them time and money.

As the BLM completes its first round of Web site reconnections of State-specific information sites, the following other BLM State Office Web sites are also once again available on the Internet: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. In addition, the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Information site is also now available. The Bureau originally disconnected these sites so that site security could be improved.

We at BLM recognize the impact that this disconnection has had on our customers, and we thank them for their patience and understanding during this period. The last six months have posed challenges, but making sure that all constituents receive timely information about the agency's actions has been a priority for the entire agency."

The BLM is now concentrating on reconnecting sites that provide interactive non-Indian Trust data and services. Unfortunately, sites of this kind are more complex and time consuming to reconnect. Additional announcements will be made as other sites are reconnected.”

(Thank You. Pat McCoy for sharing this information.)


Saturday, January 28 - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Genealogy Department, Mission Viejo Library
All levels of genealogy research will be covered.
Beginners are especially welcome!
No reservations necessary.


Let me, tonight look back across the span
Twixt dawn and dark, and to my conscience say-
Because of some good act to beast or human-
The world is better that I lived today.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox


It is New Year's Eve 1852 and Henry HYDENWELL sits at his desk by candlelight. He dips his quill pen in ink and begins to write his New Year's resolutions.
1. No man is truly well-educated unless he learns to spell his family name at least three different ways within the same document. I resolve to give the appearance of being extremely well-educated in the coming year.
2. I resolve to see to it that all of my children will have the same proper names that my ancestors have used for at least six generations in a row.
3. My age is no one's business but my own. I hereby resolve to never list the same age or birth year twice on any document.
4. I resolve to have each of my children baptized in a different church -- either in a different faith or in a different parish. Every third child will not be baptized at all or will be baptized by an itinerant minister who keeps no records.
5. I resolve to move to a new town, new county, or new state at least once every 10 years -- just before those pesky enumerators come around asking silly questions.
6. I will make every attempt to reside in counties and towns where no vital records are maintained or where the courthouse burns down every few years.
7. I resolve to join an obscure religious cult that does not believe in record keeping or in participating in military service.
8. When the tax collector comes to my door, I'll loan him my pen, which has been dipped in rapidly fading blue ink.
9. I resolve that if my beloved wife Mary should die, I will marry another Mary and again make no mention of her family name.
10. I resolve not to make a will. Who needs to spend money on a lawyer?
11. I resolve to leave lots of family photographs, but never to inscribe the names or relationships of those in the pictures.
12. In the above manner, I will enshrine myself and my progeny to the whims of all those descendants who wish me to be more like they believe they are.
(Author Unknown. From the Missouri, Washington County Rootsweb List via Pat Weeks)


We have been notified by Valerie Maginnis, Director of Library Services, that members of SOCCGS have donated 2,278 hours of service to the Genealogy Department 0f the Mission Viejo Library during the fiscal year 2004/2005. Congratulations and Thank You!

Iris Graham has a back injury and will be out for several weeks. We wish her a speedy recovery. In the meantime her library shift, Tuesdays 10 to 1, needs to be filled. Please call if you are able to help.

We also need: Mondays 12:30-3 or 3-5, Tuesdays 1-4, Wednesdays 3-5 (1st & 3rd).

Please think about donating two or three hours a month. Or, how about joining the substitute list. Call Bunny Smith, 472-8046 or Mary Jo McQueen, 581-0690, if you can help.

Ongoing classes for persons considering becoming docents are held on Thursdays (12-3) and Saturdays (10 to 1). These classes are also open to current docents and other members needing help in using the resources available at the library. If this is not convenient, call Bunny or Mary Jo, to set up a special time.

9:30 am to 4:30 pm & 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
9:30 am to 1:00 pm
(949) 364-2742 - 27976 Marguerite Pkwy (Corner Hillcrest & Marguerite)

There Are Few Absolutes

For virtually every rule in genealogy, there is an exception. There will be individuals who do not follow societal norms, who leave little paper trail, and who move where they know no one. Those ancestors who break all the rules are the ones who build the strongest brick walls.
~Michael John Neill
(Ancestry Daily News, 2005,

(Ancestry Daily News, 2005,
Alton Telegraph and Democratic Review (Alton, Illinois), 31 August 1849, page 1:

The following is the third in a series of reports from Benjamin Cleaver that he sent on his journey on the Oregon Road. Parts one and two appeared in the December 2005 issue of this newsletter.
March 16, 1849

DEAR SIR:-Again I embrace a few moments time to give further information of the country and some items of news:

On Saturday the 2d inst., our Governor, Gen. Lane, of Indiana, arrived in Oregon City. He was respectfully received by our citizens and welcomed to the station of his appointment as Governor of Oregon--Mr. Meeks, also, who was sent to the States with an express in regard to the Indian war some twelve months since, arrived at the same time, and in company with the Governor; and we understand also, that Mr. Meeks has been clothed with the office Marshal of the Territory. Both of the above named gentlemen came by way of California, and took passage on the Jeannette ship in the bay of San Francisco for this place.

The Willamette valley is variously estimated to be from 150 to 200 miles in length and from 30 to 75 miles in width. So much of this valley as has come under my notice appears to contain three different looking soils. . . Each settler boasts of the quality of the soil he resides upon, and says that it is the best. . .

The portion of the valley that I have seen is supplied with abundance of excellent water, clear and pure, from the size of a small spring branch to large rivers. There are a great number of the finest mill and machinery sites in this valley, or at least in the part that I have noticed; and what renders those privileges more valuable is, that the climate is so mild that they scarcely ever freeze during the winter. . .

I commenced in my former letter to say something about the gold fever which has attracted the people of this section; and will now add more, but hardly know how to begin. Part of the tale, however, is quickly told; and this is, that there is certainly a very rich gold mine or mines in California, and that the people of Oregon or great numbers of them have found those mines. No farther proof of this fact is wanting after you have examined their leather pouches or sacks loaded with this yellow creature. From some discoveries lately made here, it is know to exist in this valley, but to what extent the gold may be found here is not fully known. I fear, however, that there will be enough found to ruin the country.

I had omitted to mention any thing about the Indian war that existed in Oregon about one year since. We received information of the existence of this war by Mr. Meeks' express, shortly after we left St. Joseph, Mo., and we thought at that time of traveling the Southern route to Oregon, in order to avoid the savages. But on our arrival at Fort Hall, we learned that a temporary treaty had taken place between the parties, and there formed ourselves into larger companies in order to enable us make an effectual defense, if necessary. We proceeded on our journey, however, on the Northern route to Oregon, and found our soldiers still in the field where the battles had taken place, having tarried there for the express purpose of guarding the emigrants; and we were, therefore, enabled to perform our journey in safety.
Respectfully yours,
Benj. Cleaver

(Monte Engel - Ancestry Quick Tip - ADN,

The North Dakota Division of Vital Statistics has now placed its public death index online. The searchable database includes all recorded death certificates for the state from 1881 up to about 2004. The search terms can include Last Name (required), First Name, Date of Death (required, a range of up to 10 years may be entered) and county of death. The results may be ordered by: Name, Birth Date, Date of Death or County.

Since North Dakota has a small population, it is generally best to not add the county to the search terms. Many small communities did not (and do not now) have medical facilities, so the county of death may be 100 miles or more from the county of residence. Also, since the population is so low, it is often best to search an entire decade with last name only. Using my family name, Engel (not rare, but not too common), the results for some 10 year periods only resulted in 1 or 2 matches.
The results list: Name (Last, First, Middle), Date of Death, County of Death, Gender, Age, Date of Birth, State of Residence, County of Residence and Action. Action allows you to place an order for a copy of the death certificate.

This search may also, at times find death certificates for you relatives from Minnesota. The large hospitals that serve northwest Minnesota are in Fargo and Grand Forks, ND. The hospital in Williston, ND serves parts of NE Montana. The hospitals in Bismarck, ND serve parts of northern South Dakota.


At the November General Meeting it was voted by the membership to make a donation to a historical society affected by Hurricane Katrina. Following is a letter from the Pass Christian Historical Society. This society was referred to us by the Director, Archives and Library Division, Mississippi Department of Archives & History.

Hello Mary Jo,

It was a pleasure to visit with you briefly by phone this morning. It is very nice of you folks to want to help us out in our time of need.

As we discussed, in Katrina the Society lost the building which had been purchased in the 1960's. Because the building had been built to be used as the first bank in Pass Christian (about 1910), there was a vault, in which we had stored archive items, which we considered irreplaceable, or at the least very difficult to replace.

After the storm, the vault was the only thing left of the building. In fact, even a part of the concrete slab had been destroyed. The vault did not have the locking outside door one usually expects to find on a bank vault; the locking mechanism had been removed long ago, probably when the bank ceased operations or moved to another location. The outside door was there, but it did not close securely as would have been needed to be water tight.

Sometime after the storm, a few of us went to try to see if there was anything which we could salvage from the vault. The outside door had rusted in the closed position, so it took a can or two of WD40 to break the "rust seal." Once we had opened the outside door, we discovered that unfortunately, the (inside) steel locking doors had been collapsed inwardly by the force of the water. [Normally these doors opened only outwardly.] Naturally, almost everything in the vault had suffered severe water damage, from the storm surge. Most everything was sopping wet, and mold had already begun to flourish.

At this point, with the help of some volunteers from distant places, (most everybody here was involved in trying to salvage whatever they could find remaining from their homes and/or businesses), we began removing things from the vault. Fortunately, we had some good drying days, so we were able to spread the things out on the slab of the building, in an attempt to start the drying process. After a few days, we began boxing the items, and they have been placed in freezer storage in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson.

We know very little about what all is involved in the process of conservation and/of preservation of these types of things. However we are told that the process is very labor intensive, and therefore very expensive. We have applied for some grants which are dedicated to these types of projects, but to date, we have not been informed of any awards.

In addition to the loss of the archive items, of course the building was destroyed. The Society's building was insured under the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association (high risk pool), due to our location just across the highway from Mississippi Sound, however there was no flood insurance. We have not received any determination regarding insurance proceeds from the windstorm insurance carrier. There had been no attempt to insure the items in the Society's collection, because most of them were considered irreplaceable.

I hope that this note will help your group understand and appreciate the Society's current situation.

Again, on behalf of the Society, I would like to express appreciation for any help you folks can give us.

John Peterson, Treasurer

Pass Christian Historical Society

Note: The Executive Board voted to send a $500 donation from our Ways & Means Fund and to also donate the proceeds of the January Penny Basket. We may wish to make this an ongoing project for our society. This will be up for discussion at the next general meeting.

SOCCGS Participates in Fremont Investment & Loan’s Deposit Incentive Donation Program.

This program allows us to make an extra contribution to our group without taking any money from our own pockets. At the end of each calendar year, FI&L will make a donation to our group based on the annual average combined balance on deposit by our members. FI&L is making this donation. It does not come out of your account or interest. For more information, flyers will be available at our general meetings.

Getting old is a fascinating thing.
The older you get, the older you want to get.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

The genealogical world is an amazingly generous one and it's hard to keep track of all those who do kind turns for others simply because they can. But there are a few who stand out from the pack -- a few who provide tools, resources or services that help countless strangers and receive only a fraction of the credit they're due.

I'd like to periodically recognize these unsung genealogical heroes - and I invite you to e-mail me your recommendations for candidates to be featured in future articles. To get us started, though, I'd like to tell you a little about five people I think the world of. Each one of them has helped hundreds, if not thousands or even millions of us, with their talents and time.

Steve Morse first made a big splash in the genealogical world back in 2001 when he quietly uploaded some search forms to make it easier to find those ancestors-in-hiding in the Ellis Island database. Someone discovered the forms and told someone -- and that someone told someone else. And so on. And before you knew it, everyone was using his site to dig through the Ellis Island records.

What many don't realize, though, is that Steve has continued to create customized search forms for numerous other databases. He now has forms for everything from passenger lists (through multiple ports) to New York City vital records to public records. If you haven't been to his site recently, you're in for a treat.

Joe Beine has made a handful of cameo appearances in my articles before -- and it seems I mention him in just about every talk I deliver -- but it's impressive how few people have heard of him. Every time I quiz an audience about Joe, I get mostly blank looks. And that means I get the credit for being the first to introduce them to his online guide to "Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records."

If you have ever had cause to search for death-related data -- and what genealogist hasn't? -- you need to bookmark this site. It's not fancy, but it provides links to hundreds of sites containing or pertaining to death records, death certificate indexes, obituaries, probate indexes, and cemetery and burial records. Better yet, it's all cleanly laid out and organized geographically, starting at the state level and working down through regional, county and city levels. I can't tell you how many times I use this site, and increasingly, Joe's lists for other topics (such as military, census, and other vital records) that can be accessed by clicking on "Genealogy Links" at the bottom of the home page.

Marge Rice - I first wrote about Marge Rice back in 2002 in one of my earliest "orphan heirloom" articles. At the time, Marge had personally rescued 409 photos and returned them to family members. I was so impressed with her efforts that I added a Marge-o-Meter to one of my websites. If you check it out now, you'll see that Marge has single-handedly returned 900 photos to 667 people!

You may not have heard of Marge before, but if you're one of those 667 people, she's a genealogical rock star in your eyes! You can read more about her in "One Woman and Her Tireless Reuniting Effort."

Tracy St. Claire - Another remarkable rescuer is Tracy St. Claire. This article from August 2004 discusses Tracy's efforts to protect and preserve hundreds of Bibles by transcribing and digitizing any family-related pages and posting them online at Bible Records Online.

As of the writing of this article, Trace had 1,140 Bibles online with 5,638 instances of 3,439 surnames. And yes, this is all a one-person effort, hard as that may be to believe.

Jim Tipton - I've never had the opportunity to even have an e-mail exchange with Jim Tipton, but I love the site that he and his team dreamed up. In fact, it was recently key to cracking one of my cases for the U.S. Army's Repatriation Project. If you haven't explored, take a few minutes now and poke around. At last count, more than 9.2 million graves were indexed here, and thanks to the constant stream of data added by enthusiastic contributors, this number continues to grow in leaps and bounds. In fact, I find it entertaining just to peruse the profiles of the top fifty contributors to learn more about them and see what motivates them.

You can search by name or by cemetery, or even for gravesites of the famous, who can also be browsed in clusters ranging from magicians to Medal of Honor recipients. A surprising number are accompanied by images of the actual tombstones.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, co-author (with Ann Turner) of Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree (as well as In Search of Our Ancestors,Honoring Our Ancestors and They Came to America), can be contacted through and
(Copyright 1998-2005,, Ancestry Daily News (

Joy is not in things! It is in us!
Benjamin Franklin


Hemet-San Jacinto Genealogical Society
Spring Seminar
February 25, 2006
Henry Z. “Hank” Jones, Jr.
* When the Sources are Wrong!
*Tracing the Origins of Early 18th Century Palatine & Other Emigrants
*Family Tradition: How to Separate Fact from Fiction in Genealogical Research
*Genealogy in the New Millennium: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going
For reservation information:
Flyers available at SOCCGS Library.

Genealogical Society of Hispanic America, Southern California
General Meeting, Saturday February 4, 2006
At SCGS Library, 417 Irving Dr., Burbank, CA
(818) 843-7247

North San Diego County Genealogical Society
Spring Seminar
Saturday, 18 March 2006
Making Dead Ancestors Come Alive
John Philip Colletta, Ph.D.
Flyers available at SOCCGS Library

Orange County California Genealogical Society - Special Interest Group

The OCCGS New England SIG group meets on the first Saturday of each month, after the general meeting and lecture. The meeting place is in Room D at the Huntington Beach Library. For further information contact Marcia Huntley Maloney, or Bob


Orange County California Genealogical Society
Go to to find copies of the society newsletter beginning January 1, 2006.


South Orange County California Genealogical Society Membership/Renewal Application

( ) New ( ) Renewal ( ) Individual, $20/yr. ( ) Jt. Members, same address $25/yr.

Renewal Membership Number(s) _________________________ _____________________

Name(s) _______________________________________________________________________________

Address _______________________________________________________________________________

City _____________________________ State_____Zip ____________Phone ______________________

Email address:__________________________________________________________________________

Make check payable to: SOCCGS (South Orange County CA Genealogical Society) Check No. __________________

Mail with application to: SOCCGS, P.O. Box 4513, Mission Viejo, CA 92690-4513


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