Saddleback Valley Trails
South Orange County California Genealogical Society

Vol 11 No. 5 Editor: Mary Jo McQueen May 2004

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 wishing to join. Yearly membership fees are $20 per calendar year for individuals, $25 for joint membership. SOCCGS is not affiliated with the LDS Family History Center.

Dawn Thurston
“Write A Family History That Breathes Life Into Lifeless Ancestors”

How do you write an interesting life story about Great-Grandma Gertrude from the names, dates, and places you’ve compiled from your genealogical research? It’s not easy, particularly if Grandma left no letters or journals to offer some insight into her personality and feelings about her life. It’s simpler to write about people you know, of course, like your parents and immediate family. Is it possible to breathe life into family members further back on the family tree, about whom you know little more than basic vital statistics and a few assorted facts? The answer is yes, but it requires a different kind of research approach than you typically use for your genealogical sleuthing. You won’t want to miss Dawn’s presentation as it will offer ideas for “fleshing out:” that pedigree chart data and writing a story that will be both interesting and inspiring.


Dawn has taught Life Story Writing at Santiago Canyon College since 1997 and has helped hundreds of students write and publish stories about their ancestors and their own lives.
She and her husband have lectured on the topic of life story writing for genealogical societies and family history fairs both in California and Utah. She has long believed and taught that family histories should be more than boring recitations of genealogical data, but, instead be interesting stories that bring ancestors to life. She and her husband have compiled their ideas in a forthcoming book, called Breathe Life into Your Life Story.
Dawn was raised in Orange County and currently lives in Villa Park, where she raised four children. She attended Brigham Young University, UCLA, and Cal State Fullerton and received a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in communications. She has worked as a freelance writer, publishing articles for newspapers and magazines. In 1996 she published a family history of her Scottish grandparents.


June 19................Catherine Mikolajczak, “The Irish In The American Revolution
July 17.................Connie Moretti, “Learning to Love the Pre-1850 Censuses”
August 21.............Joan Rambo, “Getting the Most Out of Family History Centers”
September 11.......Garage Sale
September 18.......Nancy Huebotter, “Bringing Order Out of Chaos”
October 16.......... Seminar - Bill Dollarhide and Leland Metzler
November 20.......Elaine Alexander, “How to Locate Naturalization Records”


On May 26 we will visit the Los Angeles Public Library. The group will leave the LDS parking lot promptly at 9 a.m. Please reserve your space in advance. How about driving? We will likely need more than one car. There are places to buy lunch in the library and across the street. Usually we have dinner on the way home in order to miss the heavy traffic. Be prepared to pay your driver $5, unless the price of gas goes up!

I am a strong believer in luck and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.
~Benjamin Franklin


We extend our sympathies to the family of longtime member Irma Ward, and to Warren Bruns on the passing of his wife, Peggy. Warren and Peggy were founding members of SOCCGS.
Those of you who attended the last meeting are aware that Jamie Walker ‘s grandson, Marine Staff Sgt. Allan Walker lost his life in Ramadi, Iraq in the battle of Al Anbar on April 6. He was only twenty eight years old. We share Jamie’s grief in this immense loss.


Leon Smith, Ways and Means Chairman reminds us that our annual garage sale will be held on Saturday, September 11. It is not too early to start cleaning out and saving your salable goodies. As in the past Leon will accept and/or pick up items beginning, August 28, two weeks before the sale.


Teresa (Terri) Lancy has agreed to be a substitute docent at our library. Substitutes are an important part of our volunteer program. Please consider adding your name to the list.


We welcome two new members this month.

Marian Hatch. Marian is searching KOERNER and MEYER in Wisconsin, O’SULLIVAN in Brooklyn and BROWN in New York.
Colleen Robledo. Colleen is searching ROBLEDO, NIETO, FLANAGAN/FLANNIGAN, HAYES, REGAN, REUTHER AND SANSONE. She invites us to visit her family history site.


Corrections and additions: Jamie Walker,; Jo Ann Minnig,; Carolyn Phelps,; Eileen Merchant,
Note: 2004 membership lists will be available for members to purchase at the May meeting. Cost is thirty five cents each.


Over fifty members and guests enjoyed an informative presentation by Bob Spidell. He gave many hints on how to do genealogical research without leaving home. The following guests were introduced and gave surnames and places they are searching: Carol Nastasi, Carol Lobo, Marcia Maloney, Jude Moyer, Howard Coburn, Maria Carias, Nancy Perez, Sally Orthman, Ann Rule. Former member, Warren Bruns also attended the meeting. We invite these guests to join so that we may assist them in their research. Surnames being searched by new members are listed in the newsletter.


A very old bible was recently brought to the docent desk in hopes that the family could be located. Herb has been doing some searching on the Internet but, so far, the bible has gone unclaimed. The first entry is:

George Smith & Elizabeth W. Wilson
May 13, 1837 by John Law, Esq. of Philadelphia

A girls complexion may be stamped on her lover's heart, but most
of the complexion comes off unless put there by Rocky Mountain Tea.
Powder is a bad thing. Ask your druggist.
Palo Alto Reporter; May 12, 1899

Serendipity or Just Dumb Luck?
Finding Family History Using An Unusual Resource
By Norma Storrs Keating

Hank Jones calls it “Serendipity” but I would label my recent acquisition of a lost family treasure as a one-in-a-billion luck of the draw. I became interested in acquiring genealogical artifacts through after hearing Cheryl Singleton speak at a Genealogy Society of North Orange County California meeting last fall. She explained that items sold on the popular website can add depth and greater understanding to family histories. Her examples of maps, unusual historical books, photos and postcards relating to areas where several ancestors lived drew me into the website. Much to my surprise I immediately found several really wonderful postcards and other things that helped me add background to my family’s story, such as a 1916 photo of a hotel in Lake Lamoka, New York once owned by a Storrs family member. Perhaps you will also decide to add to your genealogical resource list after reading this story.
I almost didn’t bid on the postcard. It has a picture of the Central High School in Traverse City, Michigan where several family members attended school, including my father, my aunt and uncle, my grandmother, my great-aunts Lucia and Martha, and my great-uncles Herman and Arthur Paul. But the starting price of the auction was low and, since so many family members went to the school, I decided to go for it. As I placed my bid I was thinking about Aunt Lucia telling me stories of how she would commute twenty miles to school every day from Kingsley, MI where her father, Niels Sorensen, operated a gristmill. The family lived in Kingsley for about ten years between 1900 and 1910 before moving to Traverse City permanently.
The seller’s description and the scanned image of the front of the card indicated it was in pretty good condition, though it had been used and was postmarked September 1909. I was the winner of the auction a few days later and, as instructed, emailed the seller to obtain payment instructions. When no answer was forthcoming within 5 days, I got worried and contacted eBay for more information. After ten days I ended up calling the seller directly on the telephone. There was not problem - she was just away on vacation. So, by the time all this took place, I didn’t get the postcard until almost six weeks after placing the bid on it. I had almost lost interest in the card at this point.
It arrived in a small envelope carefully protected from damage. As I pulled it out of the envelope I saw a very good photograph of the Central High School, as advertised. Then, I turned it over and read the card. It took several minutes as my mind worked in slow motion to fully comprehend what I was seeing. It was addressed to Mr. A. P. Sorensen, Kingsley, Michigan. The message: Dear Friend, I just got home OK. There is one thing I feel ashamed of. I don’t remember if I said goodbye to your Mother or not. I don’t know what she will think of me. Ask her if she will please overlook my ignorance. Georgina.
There are only four people in the world who would recognize A. P. Sorensen and Georgina-my aunt and uncle; one of my cousins, and myself. This card was written by Ada Georgina Krone and sent to my Great-uncle Arthur Paul Sorensen. He lived in Kingsley and she lived in Greilickville. They married two years later in 1911.
Excitedly, I e-mailed the seller to say I had received the postcard and to share the incredible coincidence with her. Her reply revealed a story even more bizarre and heightened the odds against the card finding it’s way back to the family. She was selling the card for a friend who found the card in a box on the sidewalk in Lansing, Michigan. Apparently the box containing the postcards and photos was put out for the trash man. Knowing postcards were popular on eBay, the lady took the box home. Several of the cards had already been sold.
Shivers ran down my spine and goose bumps appeared as I read this tale. I don’t think the odds can be calculated that the card would find it’s way to my door. Subsequently, in late January 2004 the seller sent me the remaining items from the box for my inspection and purchase. They included two more postcards written by Aunt Ada to Uncle Art, and eleven photographs of Sorensen and Krone family members.
I couldn’t identify everyone in the pictures so I immediately sent scanned images to my aunt in Florida to see if she knew who the people were. When I called her to discuss the pictures, she was very excited. She did recognize one of the people - he was the minister who had married her 50 years ago on 7 February 1954 in Traverse City. At the time she did not get a picture of him and was thrilled to now receive one on the eve of her golden anniversary. More chills and goose bumps appeared as she related this to me. The timing was extraordinary!
Thanks to Cheryl and eBay, I have received some invaluable information to add to my family history. Serendipity, you say? No, just one of those genealogical miracles that occasionally happen when we are least expecting one.

A great library contains the diary of the human race. ~Thomas Carlyle


SOCCGS Purchases:

CD:Vermont Historical Gazetteer edited by Abby Maria Hemenway. The Vermont Historical Gazetteer is the source of first resort for researchers with ancestors from the Green Mountain State. Compiled during the latter half of the nineteenth century, this work contains information on all towns in thirteen of the Vermont’s fourteen counties. (The town of Andover was the only part of Windsor County to be published.) Genealogists turn to the Gazetteer for citations on thousands of early Vermonters mentioned in it, some with explicit genealogical information and many more with important and unique clues from an era when people moved around a lot and left few paper trails. This valuable resource is in a fully searchable format.
Books: State Census Records by Ann S. Lainhart. This is the first comprehensive list of state census records ever published.
King Philip’s War (The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict) by Eric B. Schultz and Michael J. Tougias.

Beverly Long - Obituaries Abstracted from the Hartwell Sun 1877-1902 (Georgia)
Tuoc Pham - The Grand Chapter of California Order of Eastern Star 1873-1973
Mission Viejo Library - Americans of Gentle Birth by Hannah Pittman
Who’s Who Among American High School Students 1969-1970
Unknown Donor - La Concha 1939 & 1940, College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, MN
Oracle 1964 & 1965, Sierra High School, Whittier, California
Lumen 1962, St. Paul High School, Santa Fe Springs, California
The Beaver 1942, Oregon State College

Thank you to all who donate books and cds for our library. Your generosity is appreciated. Janet Franks, Librarian


We are the chosen. I believe, in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know, and approve. To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe.
All tribes have one. We have been called as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us: “Tell our story.” So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, “You have a wonderful family you would be proud of us?” How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.
It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why do I do the things I do? It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying I can't let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do.
With love and caring we scribe each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers. That, is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.

Borrowed from the Beattie Project Newsletter ~~ Author unknown
Thanks to Eugenia Gannon for sending this our way. (We miss you!)

There is no life that does not contribute to history.
~Dorothy West


Old English handwriting [note: for Printout, use Legal size paper & narrow margins]

"RootsWeb Guides" -- with Links:

Among the top ten of my favorite websites to "get lost in" is the American Memory Project from the Library of Congress. Among other goodies the Railroad Maps Collection, 1828-1900 contains 623 maps from all over the U.S. The maps can be searched by keyword or accessed by geographic location, subject index, creator index, title index, or railroad line.

More than 3,400 Medals of Honor have been presented to U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen since the decoration's creation in 1861. Do you have an ancestor or relative among them?
See: "Medal of Honor Citations"

Looking for your 19th century ancestors who served in the British and Indian Armies? You might find them in some of the photographs, campaign medals, and biographies here:

SOMOS PRIMOS - Newsletter published by the Society of Hispanic Historical and Ancestral Research

Sacramento History Online

From the first river vessels built by Native Americans in the Sacramento Valley to the vast networks of
irrigated croplands created in the early 20th century, Transportation and Agriculture have had a long and storied past in the area in and around Sacramento. This online digital archive is a wonderful repository of items related to these two thematic areas created by a partnership of California organizations (including the Sacramento
Public Library and the Sacramento Archives), with generous funding from the U.S. Institute of Museum and
Library Services. Within the site visitors can search for various pieces of printed materials located here by decade, topic, or document type, or just browse around through various subtopics for either agriculture or transportation. Other resources available here include an introductory essay and a timeline. The site also has two archival film clips, one highlighting hop production on the Horst Ranch, and the other highlighting the importance of Victory Gardens in Sacramento during the Second World War.

Connecticut State Library, Preservation advice for Libraries, Historical Societies and Home Collections

Nineteenth-Century Texas Law: Gammel's "The Laws of Texas 1822-1897", Vol. 1-10 is available online at:

“Find a Grave.” With 5.3 million records in its database, there is always a good chance that you can find a U.S.
ancestor listed. You can search this database at

The Italian Genealogical Group has just posted a searchable index to New York City deaths from 1891 to 1911. This free database contains more than 1,400,000 records. More years are being added.
Click on the Databases link at

The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts
but learning how to make facts live.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

The kindergarten teacher was showing her class an encyclopedia page picturing several national flags. She pointed to the American flag and asked, "What flag is this?" A little girl called out, "That's the flag of our country." "Very good," the teacher said. "And what is the name of
our country?" 'Tis of thee," the girl said confidently.


May 19-22 - NGS Conference in Sacramento -
Registration brochures are at the SOCCGS genealogy library
June 5 - OCCGS Special Interest Group on New England research, 12:30 p.m., Room D, Huntington Beach Library
June 7-21 - Tour Wales, research your ancestors with Nancy Bier. Information:
June 20-27 - San Diego Genealogical Society trip to Salt Lake City <>
October 18 - SOCCGS Annual Seminar featuring Leland Metzler and Bill Dollarhide


OCCGS is starting a New England SIG on Saturday, June 5th at 12:30, after the general meeting and lecture. This group will meet in Room D at the Huntington Beach Library. Plans for this first meeting include having each attendee discuss his or her ancestral background, names, dates, areas they are currently researching, and their own area of expertise. Persons interested in research in any of the six New England States - Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island - are welcome. Persons attending are encouraged to bring their five-generation charts. For further information contact Marcia Huntley Maloney, or Bob


Check out your surname list on the website. http://www.soccgs.orgsurnames.htm


The genealogy internet class we cosponsored with the Mission Viejo Library was time well spent. Library Assistant and new SOCCGS member, Colleen Robledo, provided excellent instruction. She didn’t need much input from Herb or Mary Jo!
An audience of forty paid attendees and two volunteers attended the class, which raised $200.00 in donations to be split between the two organizations.
The program focused on using online resources for assisting with genealogical research, including: digitized and/or transcribed records, indexes, and finding aids. Participants received a packet of suggested links and annotations for sites covering fifteen different research topics, and watched a demonstration of seven of the major sites. Emphasis was placed on techniques used to conduct more effective searches, and patrons also received an overview of nearby resources for conducting in-person research.
Approximately one-third of the attendees are new to genealogy and were the largest group of participants and not currently members of SOCCGS. This is exciting news because it means the class reached out beyond our existing patron base and attracted some new people.
It is hoped that the success of this collaborative effort will lead to more such events, and continue to attract more patrons to genealogy. A survey was taken and much interest was shown in future genealogy presentations. Copies of the excellent handout are available at the docent desk in the library.


1. You brake for libraries.
2. You hyperventilate at the site of an old cemetery.
3. You would rather read a census schedule than a good book.
4. You are more interested in what happened in 1697 than in 1997.
5. You know every register of deeds in the state by name, but they lock the doors when they see you coming.
6. You store your clothes under the bed because your closet is full of books and papers.
7. You have traced everyone of your ancestral lines back to Adam and Eve, have it documented, and still don’t want to quit.

Boils and pimples are due to impure blood.
Remove them by making the blood pure with Hood's Sarsaparilla.
~June 3, 1896: From the Emmetsburg Democrat


It was the first day of census, and all through the land; The pollster was ready ... a black book in hand.
He mounted his horse for a long dusty ride; His book and some quills were tucked close by his side.
A long winding ride down a road barely there; Toward the smell of fresh bread wafting, up through the air.
The woman was tired, with lines on her face; And wisps of brown hair she tucked back into place.
She gave him some water ... as they sat at the table; And she answered his questions ... the best she was able. He asked of her children. Yes, she had quite a few; The oldest was twenty, the youngest not two.
She held up a toddler with cheeks round and red; his sister, she whispered, was napping in bed. She noted each person who lived there with pride; And she felt the faint stirrings of the wee one inside.
He noted the sex, the color, the age... The marks from the quill soon filled up the page. At the number of children, she nodded her head; And saw her lips quiver for the three that were dead.
The places of birth she "never forgot"; Was it Kansas? or Utah? or Oregon ... or not? They came from Scotland, of that she was clear; But she wasn't quite sure just how long they'd been here.
They spoke of employment, of schooling and such; They could read some .and write some .. though really not much. When the questions were answered, his job there was done; So he mounted his horse and he rode toward the sun.
We can almost imagine his voice loud and clear; "May God bless you all for another ten years." Now picture a time warp ... its' now you and me; As we search for the people on our family tree.
We squint at the census and scroll down so slow; As we search for that entry from long, long ago. Could they only imagine on that long ago day; That the entries they made would effect us this way?
If they knew, would they wonder at the yearning we feel; And the searching that makes them so increasingly real. We can hear if we listen the words they impart; Through their blood in our veins and their voice in our heart.
~Author Unknown

Mission Viejo Library Newspaper Holdings

  • The Los Angeles Times
- Paper format: 2 months + current issue
- Microfilm: 1973 - 2/10/99, and 12/2003+

  • The Orange County Register
- Paper format: 2 months + current issue
(Newport Beach central library has Jan 1987+ on microfilm)

  • The New York Times
- Paper format: 2 months + current issue
- Microfilm: 1967+


South Orange County California Genealogical Society
Membership/Renewal Application

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

Name(s) _______________________________________________________________________________

Address _______________________________________________________________________________

City _______________________________ State_____Zip____________Phone ____________________

Email address:__________________________________________________________________________

Make check payable to: SOCCGS Check No. __________________
Mail with application to: SOCCGS, P.O. Box 4513, Mission Viejo, CA 92690-4513

Date Rec'd__________________



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