Saddleback Valley Trails

 South Orange County California Genealogical Society

Vol. 15 No. 7                               P.O. Box 4513, Mission Viejo, CA. 92690                             July 2008

Editor: Mary Jo McQueen

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.


Next General Meeting

July 19, 2008


“Newspapers: A Gold Mine of Information.”

Presented by

Connie Walton Moretti


              A Torrance native and third generation Californian, Ms. Moretti claims to have done genealogy all her life due to a story-telling grandmother who enrolled her in the Covered Wagon Club at Knott's Berry Farm in the 1940's. She is retired from 30 years as an educator and is currently teaching Beginning Internet and Computer Genealogy classes at South Bay Adult School. Connie is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, and U.S. Daughters of 1812. Also, she is past president of the California Division and historian general of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She formerly was the editor of the South Bay Cities Genealogical Society Newsletter.

            Ms. Moretti specializes in American lineage and has traveled extensively in Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Indiana, Tennessee, South Carolina and California.     

            Following are some of the topics that will be covered in this lecture: 

      • What to look for in Newspapers.
      • Newspaper research.
      • Were your Ancestors on the front page?
      • Preserving Old Newspapers.
      • Newspapers on Microfilm.
      • Steps to follow in newspaper research.




October Seminar

          Registration is under way for the Seventh Annual Seminar on October 18. George Morgan, who is often featured in this newsletter, (see page 3) will speak on four topics of special interest to genealogy researchers. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear one of the premier lecturers in this field. Please use the registration form on page 6 and sign up now.

          Ticket sales have begun for another beautiful quilt that is up for raffle. Be sure to buy one, or six, and don’t forget to let your friends in on this opportunity. Tickets are $1.00 each, or six for $5.00. A picture of the quilt and a seminar registration form may be found on the SOCCGS website at


 "A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes."

~Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948


President’s Message

~Bill Bluett        

          As you read this message, Helen and I will be well into our sightseeing/genealogy vacation. Our trip will take about one month and we will be visiting the California “Gold Rush” country, Oregon, Washington, Montana, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arizona – in that order. At each location we will have friends, family, or cemeteries to visit - or all of the above. One of our primary sightseeing locations will be Glacier National Park in Montana. Helen’s father was born in the small Mennonite farming community of Creston, which is only a few miles from the Park entrance. Then, we will travel to the Mt. Rushmore/Deadwood, South Dakota area that will include stops at a few cemeteries along the way. I have ancestors in the cemetery at Deadwood where “Wild Bill” Hickock and “Calamity Jane” are also buried. One of the main highlights of the trip will be a Reynolds family reunion in Iowa. This is Helen’s maternal side of the family. They hold a reunion every three years. Coincidentally, her 50th high school reunion is being held on the same day in the evening, so, we will be able to attend both events. That’s what you call “timing”! Traveling homeward, we will visit Helen’s cousins in Missouri and Oklahoma. Finally, our last stop will be with our son, Matt, in Chandler, Arizona. So, as it turns out, both sides of our families are well represented in our BIG TRIP.

          With the high cost of gasoline expected, we are driving our Honda Civic, which gives us over 40 MPG on the open road. Most overnight stays will be with family, friends, or B & B’s (Bed and Breakfast). You say, “Isn’t a B&B expensive?” “Well, I’m glad you asked.” We recently joined a B&B network in the U.S.A. that has over 800 members nationwide, as well as locations in Canada, the British Isles and Europe. As members, we must allow folks to stay with us in our home approximately 5 or 6 times a year. Now, hold on to your hats. The cost for the overnight stay (including breakfast) is a whopping $15 per night! Now, that will cut down travel expenses in a hurry. If you would like to inquire about the club, go to the website at: EVERGREENCLUB.COM. Check it out. It could be an inexpensive way for any one of you to take an extended genealogy research journey.

          Our trip begins in Sonora, California, for the California Cornish Cousins Annual Conference. All members of this organization have ancestors from Cornwall, England. My great-grandfather even had a cousin who lived in this area beginning in the 1860’s. He worked and managed several gold mines in the region. I plan to visit the Tuolumne County Historical Society and Museum while in Sonora and see if I can find out any more information about the mines and my ancestor. As we travel onward I can research my ancestors who were located in Iowa, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, and Oregon. Helen’s settled in Iowa, Montana, Missouri, and Oklahoma. So, our areas of interest are pretty well balanced between the two of us. It is amazing to me how close to one another (in distance) that our two families were in some locations. In Iowa, for example, Helen’s ancestors were living in and around the Iowa City/Cedar rapids area. I had great-great grandparents located about 100 miles east in Dubuque and 125 miles west in Winterset. This situation occurred over 150 years ago. Who’s to say that our ancestor’s paths may have crossed at some point and time? It’s unlikely that we’ll ever know the answer to that question.

          So, by the time you receive this newsletter, we will most likely be in Iowa preparing to work our way westward. I will give you a brief report at our July monthly meeting regarding the Iowa reunions, the B&B accommodations, and our gas mileage. See you then.

P.S. Now, Helen wants to know if we have any ancestors in Hawaii!



            Three new members have recently joined our group: Barbara Calabrese and Carol Jarvis, both are Mission Viejo residents. Carol has volunteered to fill the docent position on Thursday’s 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. What a great way for a new member to “jump right in!” Rosanna Gahran, who lives in Lake Forest, joined at the June meeting.

                Longtime member, Willis Wyant, has moved to Las Vegas 3250 S. Town Center Dr. #2053, Las Vegas, NV 89135-2263. We wish him well, but will miss him immensely.


“The Lunch Bunch”

            After each monthly meeting members and guests are invited to meet for lunch at Carrow’s Restaurant located on Marguerite Parkway. This is a great way to meet new friends and discuss genealogy.


Tips from the Pros: Take a Friend to the Cemetery

            After each monthly meeting members and guests are invited to meet for lunch at Carrow’s Restaurant located on Marguerite Parkway. This is a great way to meet new friends and discuss genealogy. Although quiet and peaceful in appearance, cemeteries can be dangerous places. Snakes, spiders, open graves, toppling tombstones, and unseen holes--all it is a good idea to take a friend with you when you visit a cemetery. He or she can provide company, help you search for graves, and act as a deterrent to anyone who might wish you harm. In the event of an accident or emergency, your friend can be the difference between life and death by providing first aid or going for help. It is also a good idea to let someone else know where the two of you have gone to conduct your research and remember to carry your cell phone with you.


June Meeting

          In the absence of president, Bill Bluett, Sandy Crowley conducted the meeting; and a fine job she did, too! It was announced that vice president, Nellie Domenick, is undergoing medical tests and will be absent from the library for a while. We will certainly miss her and wish her a speedy recovery. Barbara Wilgus, Pat Weeks and Cindy Reilly have volunteered to cover Nellie’s docent shifts during July.

          There were over sixty members, and a record number of eleven guests, in attendance to hear Leland Pound. He provided insight into many aspects of compiling & publishing a family history. For this purpose we were told to research lines going forward, especially collateral lines. Leland instructed us to search for living people by inserting “People Search” into Google and to use social networking sites, such as My Space and Face Book. He also told of the value of having a personal website. (Note: A program on this topic is scheduled with Michael Kratzer in September.

          Barbara Wilgus, quilt chairman, was busy selling quilt raffle tickets. At the meeting’s end she announced $120 in sales. Joanne Florence donated the quilt, which is made from an early America Jamestown pattern. Joanne is a Mission Viejo resident, and friend of Mary Jo McQueen.

          Sharing pictures of fathers and grandfathers was a highlight of this meeting. Next month members are encouraged to bring pictures of family members who were in the military. Ruth Relin and Jesse Ellison provided scrumptious treats, which were served in a patriotic setting by hospitality chairman, Trish Leard. Thank you!


Safari News – There is no safari scheduled for July.


“Some Websites of Interest to Genealogists” - “Where Knowledge Junkies Get Their Fix.” Not necessarily for genealogy buffs, but worth a look nonetheless. - This is a great site for those interested or searching for information in San Francisco 1906. A "Who Perished list" that Gladys Hansen compiled from newspaper clippings: A roster of names compiled from newspapers of those persons who died as a direct result of injuries received either at the time of the earthquake and fire, or during the latter half of April 1906. - It is time, once again, to list this very important website. Click on “About this Website and how to use It.” for a comprehensive guide to using the site. - A website that shows the distribution of family names in the US for 1850, 1880, 1920, 1990. The 1990 list is based on phone directories. The others are based on census records. It is a free site. (Lots of Allan’s here since it is from the Allan family website.) - The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission has made available the 1850 Agricultural Census for Pennsylvania. On the right hand side under Calendar of Events, Recent Web updates, you will see 1850 Agricultural Census. Look at the "Manuscript Data" which shows the actual census. -  Search Griffiths Valuation records for free. These records list each parcel of land throughout 32 counties of Ireland and were recorded in 1850s and 60s. - Any “Bowers” out there? If so, you might want go to this Bowers Family Website.


 (Thanks to Donna Hobbs, Pat Nostrome, Karyn Schumaker and Shirley Fraser for their website contributions.)


“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

~Bill Cosby        


Small Town News: Looking in Little Places Can Turn Up Big Results

~William Thomas Tucker


                            Why Small Town News Is Good News - I love small town news, regardless of the source. Newspapers, letters, conversations, they all serve my purpose, and they enlighten me on the juicy details of matters I might not otherwise have known.

            For a genealogist like me, that’s good, because two of the most readily accessible forms of entertainment on the frontier back in the 1800s were newspapers and letter writing. This makes both of them prime candidates for direct research and small town news.

            Today, local newspapers make a wonderful genealogical starting source. They keep excellent records by way of back copies, usually on microfilm/microfiche, and, since news traveled slowly years ago, editors filled the paper with mundane local news and big obituaries that contain more information than a dozen official record books.

            Obituaries, for example, usually reported the names of everyone who attended a specific funeral and each person’s relationship to the deceased, every place the deceased ever lived, the schools attended, jobs held, and dates, dates, and more dates. They tended to tell a story about the deceased’s life and lifestyle, offered intimate details about the person’s death, and sometimes even dug up old quotes from him or her.

            Researching small town news sources is relatively simplenewspapers are almost always more than happy to let you peruse their files. And, if the newspaper you’re looking for is now defunct, there’s a good chance it was bought out by a rival who kept copies of the original publication’s papers.

            Case in point, my great-granduncle, Emmett Lott. I found Lott’s obituary in the Chippewa Falls News (Wisconsin), and it delivered far more personal information than I could have ever found in just about any other source. “Lott, said the obituary, was a railroad man who bought a three-story, wood-frame house in 1859 with a $100 mortgage. His monthly payments, said the paper, were a scant $1. But one month, continued the obituary, Lott was fifteen minutes late with his payment because he had trouble finding a dollar. The bank immediately foreclosed and threw him and his family out of their house.” (It’s for reasons like this that Wisconsin and other enlightened states enacted laws to give homeowners a payment grace period.)

            What intrigued me even more was that on the exact same page of that newspaper was an advertisement for a pair of store-bought Sunday-go-to-meeting men’s trousers, at the bargain price of “only $50”the equivalent of half of my great-granduncle’s entire mortgage. Imagine if today a pair of pants cost half a mortgage. While looking through a 1950s issue of the Stevens Point, Wisconsin newspaper, I happened upon another interesting story. Shortly after the murder of Stevens Point’s sheriff, said the paper, the townspeople got “liquored up” in the tavern across from the sheriff’s jailhouse, got the deputy drunk, too, and then broke into the jail across the town square to take matters into their own hands. They dragged the sheriff’s murderer into the square, used a rope from the local hardware store, enlisted the wagon belonging to my great-great-grandfather, Joseph E. Ross, hoisted the desperado up, fashioned a noose around his neck, and hung him from the highest limb on the town square’s old oak tree.

            When the circuit judge rode horseback into town on his rounds, he found the body still hanging from the tree. Since capital punishment has never been legal in Wisconsin, the judge held a one-man grand jury to fix the blame, asking first who was responsible. When no one stepped forward, the judge decided to indict the hardware store owner and my great-great-grandfather, whose guilt was determined because he had the only wagon in town. But when the judge arrested the pair for trial, every man in town stepped up and volunteered that he, too, was the guilty culprit. The judge, outnumbered and unable to prosecute the entire town, let everyone off with an admonition to never have a lynch mob again and hurriedly rode out of town.

            Interestingly enough, about fifty years later the same paper offered additional insight into my great-great-grandpa Ross’s life, via the following obituary: “Saturday, July 24, 1909, Joseph E. Ross, one of the earliest settlers in the county dropped dead at his home at 237 Plover Street at 4 o'clock Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Ross had lived in retirement for a number of years at the above address and although well advanced in years he had always enjoyed very excellent health until a few months ago when he began to suffer with heart trouble.

            In April Mr. Ross suffered an attack of heart failure when out in the yard and, in falling, injured his arm and side and lay helpless on the ground for upwards of an hour. He finally succeeded in calling loudly enough to attract attention and was helped into the house, but had been in a more or less feeble condition ever since. Tuesday, he and Mrs. Ross entertained several callers while sitting on the front porch. After they left, Mr. Ross went into the house and, sitting on the bed, said to his wife, "This is the hottest day I ever saw. I feel sick to my stomach. I believe I'll have to take my coat off and lie down a while."

            Mrs. Ross joked with him a little about taking off his coat on account of the heat because under ordinary circumstances he never removed his coat for any reason. After helping him remove the coat, she went back to the porch, but soon was attracted by his peculiar breathing. She found him almost unconscious, scarcely able to speak, but after the application of camphor and restoratives to his head he roused up and said he felt quite comfortable. She then summoned her neighbors, but soon after they came in he had another sinking spell and passed away.”


Enlisting the Town Historian - Small town news doesn’t just come from printed sources. Sometimes self-appointed “historians” or “reporters” make great sources of obscure details as well.

            Just about every small town in American has one: a kindly old lady who has the inside scoop on everything and everyone. If you prefer a cup of hot tea and gossip to musty books and time-consuming records searches, a phone call will usually be all you need to get an invitation to visit. You can get the “historian’s” name and a networking reference from any number of sources, even the local newspaper editor or the local librarian.

            One such little old lady told me that my grandmother’s first cousin, Ruth Bauer, was alive and well, at age ninety-two, and living twenty miles down the road in Weyauwega. When I decided to visit, I found out that, yes, she was alive, and though only 4’ 9”, she was still able to almost kick my 6’ frame off of her porch.

            “A relative, you say? You don’t look like a relative, you’re too tall. Well, just don’t stand there, come in if you want to, but don’t forget to wipe your feet,” she bellowed, as she whacked me in the shins with her cane.

            I had inherited two albums of tintypes from my grandmother twenty years earlier, but none of the people pictured were identified, nor were the tintypes dated. I had done most of the work myself already, but there were a few identities that had escaped me. I asked Ruth if she could help. Ruth nodded and led me into her Victorian parlor. On the wall was what she called her “Rogues Gallery”pictures of family membersall the same tintypes I had. Hers, however, were named and dated.

            “That,” she said, pointing to a picture of a previously unidentified man, “was my uncle. I remember he used to have crying fits. They called it ‘Melancholy,’ but we’d call it depression these days. It all started when he came back from the war.”

            “The war?” I asked. “You know, the War of the Rebellion. The one they call the Civil War,” she said. “I remember as a little girl sitting on his lap and him having these crying fits every once in a while. He and my father’s older brother were in the Second Wisconsin Volunteers and were prisoners at Andersonville.”

            “That was a terrible place,” she continued. “They starved the prisoners. There was a no-man’s-land area between the compound and the fort walls. The prisoners were starved as a matter of daily routine. But the guards would put out tables of food in the no-man’s-land area with the threat if any prisoner crossed the line he would be shot. When one of my father’s brothers finally broke and ran for the food,” she continued, “my uncle panicked and ran after him. He tackled his brother just feet from the line, but when the two of them went down, his brother’s hand fell across the line and the guards shot him dead. My uncle never got over the feeling of guilt for having failed his brother.”

            Power of Paper - I have found letters, wills, Bibles, wedding certificates, memberships in the SAR and DAR (Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution, respectively), and other memorabilia during my genealogical research. Much of it comes from these distant cousins whom I visit whenever I’m in a different part of the country. I carry my genealogy along and look them up in the local phone book whenever I’m in that area.

            My family tree is dotted with hundreds of former soldiersancestors who served in every war in which America was ever engaged. The majority of them served in the Civil Warsome Union, some Confederate. From privates to generals, from sea captains to horse raiders, from those killed in action to those who stood at Appomattox for the surrender. Of the dozens of stories in existence, none is more poignant than this one gleaned from a small town newspaper: Letter home from Lieutenant Fredrick Dearborn Wight of the First Division of the Fifth Army Corps, being first in line when the enemy was headed off at Appomattox and given the distinction of receiving the enemy's arms.

            "I had the pleasure that day of being in line with my company and witnessing the tattered remnants of Lee's veterans stack their arms and deposit their worn and ragged, but cherished banners. The ranks of Lee's army were so decimated that their division and brigade colors were nearer together than our regimental flags. One color bearer who stood directly before me, hugged closely, with his one remaining arm, his bullet-scarred staff, upon which still remained a piece of a flag. I can see that man now with his old, patched, ragged butternut colored suit, his lank, but erect body, his long sandy hair, his pinched, famished face, struggling to restrain his tears. But restrain them he could not; and they were not unmanly tears--they did him honor."

             (William Thomas Tucker is an amateur genealogist who has been researching his family tree for over 50 years. So far he has identified 65,000 ancestors and continues to collect their life stories.)

From Ancestry Magazine Archive, May/June 2005 Vol. 23, No. 3. Submitted by Gene Cramer.


Minnesota Data Website

   is absolute the best website for Minnesota information. I have found many printed obituaries from Minnesota newspapers. There are also cemetery listings and other record types.

(From Debbie Hall, Ancestry Weekly Journal, 26 May 2008)


 Carlsbad Library Announcement

          From North San Diego County Genealogical Society June newsletter: “Recently the Carlsbad City Library performed some maintenance on the patron database. Patrons who have not checked out library material since 2004 were removed from the system and this includes those who use their cards to access the Internet, but have not checked out materials since 2004. The Library apologizes for the inconvenience and encourages you to reapply for a library card.”

          Note: Just to be sure that your card is current you might want to call the library, 1-760-434-2871.



            Now is a good time for members to visit the website in search of surnames of interest. Herb Abrams will update your information on the SOCCGS Surname Website Listing as needed. Please check your information, and if corrections and/or additions are necessary notify Herb or (949) 581-6292). New members are especially encouraged to add their Surnames to this list.  Send an email to Herb listing your surnames, locations and years you are researching.


Seminar Topics

“25 Places Where Family Facts May Hide”  

“Bring’em Back to Life: Developing an Ancestor File”

 “The U.S. Naturalization Process & Documents: 1790 to 1954”

  “Colonial & Early American Land Records: The Process & Evidence”


"Ancestors Of Yesterday"

~Sandy Solari


Ancestors of so long ago, I'll search until I find.

Till I can prove and clearly show, that you are truly mine.


I'll follow behind your trail of tears, the hidden footprints of time.

Covered and buried throughout the years, and continue each mountain to climb.


I'll search every faraway seaside shore, and every valley below.

I'll unlock each and every door, as my own teardrops flow.


I'll unearth the buried History of you, and your own Ancestral kin,

I'll search for that all-important clue, and open my heart to let you in.





Register for the Seminar!


Pre-registration must be received by October 15 / Tickets at the door $25.00, no lunch.

(Seminar information & registration form also available on SOCCGS website.)



SOCCGS ‘2008’ Seminar Registration


Name(s) __________________________________________Registration: ____ @ $20.00 _________________________________________________ Box Lunch: _____@ $7.50

Address: ____________________________________________ Total: $________

City & Zip: ___________________________________________               

Telephone: __________________________________________

E-mail: _____________________________________________

Mail to:  SOCCGS, P.O. Box 4513                                  Information: (949) 492-9408 or

Mission Viejo, CA 92690-4513                                    http://www.rootsweb.ancestrycom/~casoccgs/






August 9 - British Isles Family History Society: Noon–5:00PM, Santa Monica Public Library. Information about Michael Gandy's BIFHS-USA appearance is on the website -

Follow the links for "Details" and "Flier with RSVP form" (PDF).


October 18SOCCGS Seminar featuring George Morgan.

For information and registration go to:


50 Most Popular Genealogy Websites for 2008

~Kory L. Meyerink, MLS, AG, FUGA

Mr. Meyerink has published his list of the most popular genealogical websites for 2008.

Go to:

(This information is borrowed from Questing Heirs Genealogical Society newsletter, June 2008.)



Please send ancestor stories, web site information or items of special interest to the newsletter editor by Wednesday following the monthly meeting. These may be sent via email or Word attachment. All submissions are subject to editorial approval, and may be edited for content or space. Articles should be of genealogical significance. Complete stories, outlines and/or rough drafts will be accepted.         Send to:


Member Badges

Please wear your name badge to the general meetings. Don’t have one? Sign up at the check-in table and Herb will make one for you. Or, call him (949) 581-6292; email -





Bill Bluett


Vice President…………………..

Nellie Domenick


Recording Secretary………….

Sandy Crowley


Corresponding Secretary.....

Pat Weeks



Mary Jo McQueen



Jack Naylor



Herb Abrams



Bunny Smith



Shirley Fraser



Trish Leard



Barbara Wilgus


Newsletter Editor................

Mary Jo McQueen



SOCCGS Website @

Mail List:

SOCCGS Library within the Mission Viejo Library;

Marguerite Parkway at LaPaz, (949) 470-8498


SOCCGS E-mail:




South Orange County California Genealogical Society Membership/Renewal Application


(  ) New                        (  ) Renewal                  (  ) Individual, $20/yr.              (  ) Joint 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    Date Rec'd_____________

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