Saddleback Valley Trails

South Orange County California Genealogical Society

Vol. 13 No. 12 Editor: Mary Jo McQueen December 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.

You Are Cordially Invited To A Holiday Party
December 16, 2006
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Lunch will be served.
(Regular meeting location.)


Presented by

Bill Bluett

How many of you know what Great American Poet was strongly impacted by the Christmas season during the Civil War? If you answered Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, you are correct. He suffered family tragedies during the period of time when our nation was torn apart by a terrible war. Longfellow found inspiration through poetry while in this difficult time of his life. Our Society’s newly elected President, Bill Bluett, will present the story of this man’s life, and bring to light the circumstances which inspired him to compose his wonderful poem, "Christmas Bells," on Christmas Day 1864. Later, the poem was used as the lyrics for a Christmas carol the world has enjoyed for the past 134 years. It’s title – "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." Come and enjoy the story of this Great American Poet.

Members are encouraged to share a special Christmas Story during the Genealogical Moments portion of the meeting.


Jan. 20 - Kathleen Trevena, "Colonial American Genealogy."
Feb. 17 - Caroline Rober, "Courthouse Research for the Serious Researcher."
March 17 - Liz Stookesberry Myers, "Ohio: Gateway to the West."
April 14 – Leland Pound, “Internet Research for Genealogists.” October 21 – Family History Seminar December – Holiday Party


Parliamentarian, Donna Hobbs, will install the elected officers for 2007 on December 16. The members which you have chosen to serve for the coming year are: President, Bill Bluett; Vice President, Nellie Domenick; Recording Secretary, Sandy Crowley; Corresponding Secretary, Patricia Weeks; Treasurer, Mary Jo McQueen.


"Heap on more wood! – The wind is chill;
But let it whistle, as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still."
~Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

"Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind.


The next safari will be on January 24, 2007. The destination will be announced in the January newsletter.


We had a great turnout for our pre-Thanksgiving meeting. Members Bruce Jewett, Barbara Wilgus and Diane Hearne shared their methods of organizing genealogy research. Diane also gave a preview of her newest genealogy game. Mary Jo McQueen gave her interpretation of using the pre-1850 censuses. Marcia Roy displayed her family history scrapbooks. She also shared a copy of a “Genealogical Codicil To My Last Will and Testament,” copies of which are at our library docent desk. Copies will also be available at the December meeting.


We have a new member: Shelly Morgan, . Surnames: DELANEY (Santa Cruz, CA); MORGAN (PA, OH, IN, CA); CURTIS (NY, IN. CA).

A previous guest, who has now joined: Bill Spicer, . Surnames: RIPPETTO (AR); SPICER (NC, GA, AL); MANCHESTER (RI, NC).

Existing members attending their first meeting: Dick & Joan Bissell, . Surnames: FINDLE, FINDL, LUDWIG, CROWLEY, GILLA; BISSELL, KING, HURST, MARQUART.

Their related guest: Richard Bissell Pember, .

(Thank you to Dick, who shared his giant pedigree chart.)

Another guest: Shiryl Boerlin, Lake Forest. We hope our guests will decide to join the society.


Please notify the membership chairman if you have a change of address. Newsletters are not forwarded and the cost is 75 cents for each one returned. If the change is temporary we will gladly hold your newsletters.

Membership: Verl Nash,

IMMIGRATION RECORDS has announced that immigrations records will be available for research, at no cost through December 31, 2006. This is the first time such a comprehensive collection of passenger lists has been made available online, with more than 100 million names. Some of the ports included are: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans and Baltimore. Be sure to take advantage of this great opportunity.

Go to and click on US Immigration Collection, then click on the orange box in the upper right corner. Good Luck!


The Irish Family History Foundation would like you to know that Limerick Genealogy is now open for business and providing a full time research service for those wishing to trace their ancestry in Limerick City and County. The computerized database contains over three million records and sources available to the service consist of church records of various denominations, civil records of births, deaths and marriages, land valuation records, the 1901 and 1911 Census, gravestone inscriptions and ancillary sources.

Researcher: Catriona Crowe

Website: Email:

(Information shared by Shirley Fraser)

"What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.

These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life's pathway,

The good they do is inconceivable."

- Joseph Addison 




An Ancient Holiday

The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.

The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

Outlaw Christmas - Oliver Cromwell


In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.

After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new constitution. Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

The Legend of St. Nicholas


The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. One of the best known of the St. Nicholas stories is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married. Over the course of many years, Nicholas's popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married. By the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe. Even after the Protestant Reformation, when the veneration of saints began to be discouraged, St. Nicholas maintained a positive reputation, especially in Holland.

Oh to be a child when magic sparkles on the tree,

And secrets hover in the air,

And waiting seems too much to bear!


By Michael John Neill

This week we discuss the alphabet looking for clues to ancestral brick walls. The list is meant to get you thinking about your own genealogy problems.

A is for Alphabetize.

Have you created an alphabetical list of all the names in your database and all the locations your families lived? Typographical errors and spelling variants can easily be seen using this approach. Sometimes lists that are alphabetical (such as the occasional tax or census) can hide significant clues.

B is for Biography.

Creating an ancestor’s biography might help you determine where there are gaps in your research. Determining possible motivations for his actions (based upon reasonable expectations) may provide you with new areas to research.

C is for Chronology.

Putting in chronological order all the events in your ancestor’s life and all the documents on which his name appears is an excellent way to organize the information you have. This is a favorite analytical tool of several Ancestry Daily News columnists.

D is for Deeds.

A land transaction will not provide extended generations of your ancestry, but it could help you connect a person to a location or show that two people with the same last name engaged in a transaction.

E is for Extended Family.

If you are only researching your direct line there is a good chance you are overlooking records and information. Siblings, cousins, and in-laws of your ancestor may give enough clues to extend your direct family line into earlier generations.

F is for Finances.

Did your ancestor’s financial situation impact the records he left behind? Typically the less money your ancestor had the fewer records he created. Or did a financial crisis cause him to move quickly and leave little evidence of where he settled?

G is for Guardianships.

A guardianship record might have been created whenever a minor owned property, usually through an inheritance. Even with a living parent, a guardian could be appointed, particularly if the surviving parent was a female during that time when women’s legal rights were extremely limited (read nonexistent).

H is for Hearing.

Think of how your ancestor heard the questions he was being asked by the records clerk. Think of how the census taker heard what your ancestor said. How we hear affects how we answer or how we record an answer.

I is for Incorrect.

Is it possible that an “official” record contains incorrect information? While most records are reasonably correct, there is always the chance that a name, place, or date listed on a record is not quite exact. Ask yourself how it would change your research if one “fact” suddenly were not true?

J is for Job.

What was your ancestor’s likely occupation? Is there evidence of that occupation in census or probate records? Would that occupation have made it relatively easy for your ancestor to move from one place to another? Or did technology make your ancestor’s job obsolete before he was ready for retirement?

K is for Kook.

Was your ancestor just a little bit different from his neighbors? Did he live life outside cultural norms for his area. If he did, interpreting and understanding the records of his actions may be difficult. Not all of our ancestors were straight-laced and like their neighbors. That is what makes them interesting (and difficult to trace).

L is for Lines.

Do you know where all the lines are on the map of your ancestor’s neighborhood? Property lines, county lines, state lines, they all play a role in your family history research. These lines change over time as new territories are created, county lines are debated and finalized, and as your ancestor buys and sells property. Getting your ancestor’s maps all “lined” up may help solve your problem.

M is for Money.

Have you followed the money in an estate settlement to see how it is disbursed? Clues as to relationships may abound. These records of the accountings of how a deceased person’s property is allocated to their heirs may help you to pinpoint the exact relationships involved.


N is for Neighbors.

Have you looked at your ancestor’s neighbors? Were they acquaintances from an earlier area of residence? Were they neighbors? Were they both? Which neighbors appeared on documents with your ancestor?

O is for Outhouse.

Most of us don’t use them any more, but outhouses are mentioned to remind us of how much life has changed in the past one hundred years. Are you making an assumption about your ancestor’s behavior based upon life in the twenty-first century? If so, that may be your brick wall right there.

P is for Patience.

Many genealogical problems cannot be solved instantly, even with access to every database known to man. Some families are difficult to research and require exhaustive searches of all available records and a detailed analysis of those materials. That takes time. Some of us have been working on the same problem for years. It can be frustrating but fulfilling when the answer finally arrives.

Q is for Questions.

Post queries on message boards and mailing lists. Ask questions of other genealogists at monthly meetings, seminars, conferences and workshops. The answer to your question might not contain the name of that elusive ancestor, but unasked questions can leave us floundering for a very long time.

R is for Read.

Read about research methods and sources in your problem area. Learning about what materials are available and how other solved similar problems may help you get over your own hump.

S is for Sneaky.

Was your ancestor sneaking away to avoid the law, a wife, or an extremely mad neighbor? If so, he may have intentionally left behind little tracks. There were times when our ancestor did not want to be found and consequently may have left behind few clues as to his origins.

T is for Think.

Think about your conclusions. Do they make sense? Think about that document you located? What caused it to be created? Think about where your ancestor lived? Why was he there? Think outside the box; most of our brick wall ancestors thought outside the box. That’s what makes them brick walls in the first place.

U is for Unimportant.

That detail you think is unimportant could be crucial. That word whose legal meaning you are not quite certain of could be the key to understanding the entire document. Make certain that what you have assumed is trivial is actually trivial.

V is for Verification.

Have you verified all those assumptions you hold? Have you verified what the typed transcription of a record actually says? Verifying by viewing the original may reveal errors in the transcription or additional information.

W is for Watch.

Keep on the watch for new databases and finding aids as they are being developed. Perhaps the solution to your brick wall just has not been created yet.

X is for X-Amine.

With the letter “x” we pay homage to all those clerks and census takers who made the occasional spelling error (it should be “examine“ instead of “x-amine.”) and also make an important genealogical point. Examine closely all the material you have already located. Is there an unrecognized clue lurking in your files?

Y is for Yawning.

Are you getting tired of one specific family or ancestor? Perhaps it is time to take a break and work on another family. Too much focus on one problem can cause you to lose your perspective. The other tired is when you are researching at four in the morning with little sleep. You are not at your most productive then either and likely are going in circles or making careless mistakes.

Z is for Zipping.

Are you zipping through your research, trying to complete it as quickly as possible as if it were a timed test in school? Slow down, take your time and make certain you aren’t being too hasty in your research and in your conclusions.

(Ancestry Daily News 1/11/2006, Copyright 2006,

Christmas is not date. It is a state of mind.

~Mary Ellen Chase

American Writer (1887-1973)



Family Tree Maker CD #118, Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s

This data set contains over two million records referencing individuals from all regions of Canada, as well as early Alaska. The vast majority of the records fall between 1600 and the mid-to-late 1900s, although some records date before the 1500s. Gleaned during twenty years of research from over one thousand different sources — including city directories, marriage records, land records, census records, and more — this collection of names represents one of the most complete indexes to Canadian historical records available.

This index helps you locate a particular individual at a specific place and point in time. In general, each record in the index tells you about an event, giving the individual's name, and usually also the year and location where the event took place. Each record typically also tells you what the source of this information is, so you can refer to the original materials for more details about the individual. Knowing a name, location, and year, may help you find your ancestor in other records of genealogical value, which are not necessarily included in this index.

Locations Covered: Alberta, British Columbia, Labrado, Manitoba , New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Yukon Territory.

Family Tree Maker CD #204, The Ontario Register, 1780s-1870s

This data set reference the names of approximately 244,000 individuals and includes records from the 1780s through the 1870s. While most of the individuals listed are from Ontario, Canada, some are from the United States. What you can learn about each listed individual varies, depending on the record. However, in this collection you will find records ranging from baptismal, marriage, and death records to cemetery inscriptions and family histories. From these records you can learn a great deal about an individual, including that person's full name, residence, and occupation. Also, you may learn the dates and locations of important family events, as well as the names of the participants, witnesses, or family members.

Sources for The Ontario Register, 1780s-1870s:

• Death Notices of Ontario

• Directory of the Province of Ontario, 1857 with a Gazetteer

• The Loyalists in Ontario: The Sons and Daughters of the American Loyalists of Upper Canada

• Marriage Bonds of Ontario, 1803-1834

• Marriage Notices of Ontario

• The Old United Empire Loyalists List

• Ontarian Families: Genealogies of United Empire Loyalists and other Pioneer Families of Upper Canada, Volumes 1 and 2

• Ontario Marriage Notices

• The Ontario Register, Volumes 1-8

Family Tree Maker CD #208, Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin

This data set contains images of the pages of volumes 1 through 38 of The Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin. Each volume includes historical and genealogical material, family charts from personal and public records, transcribed public-domain documents, letters to the editor as well as queries and answers. Published by the Maryland Genealogical Society, the Bulletin is distributed quarterly to its members and contains family history information from the 1600s to the 1900s. The essays and articles collected in this data set include information on approximately 240,000 individuals. There may be facts from the following sources: Death records, Correspondence

Census records, Baptismal records, Passport records, Land records, Estate holdings, Personal histories, Church records, Bible records, County and township records and Marriage records.


There are over 300 CDs available for your genealogy research at the SOCCGS Library. To find a CD in your area of research simply refer to the CD Catalogue. Need to know what information might be available on particular CD? Go to the CD Descriptive List where you will find a complete description of each CD. Many CDs have entire books digitized, from which you may print. You should take advantage of this valuable research tool! Herb Abrams is our resident CD expert.


WEBSITES OF INTEREST Here you will find the completely searchable “The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.” No serious study of the American Civil War is complete without consulting the Official Records. Affectionately known as the "OR", the 128 volumes of the Official Records provide the most comprehensive, authoritative, and voluminous reference on Civil War operations. - The Canadian Genealogy Centre develops databases on various aspects of the population of Canada and hosts other databases created by their partners. Each database includes a comprehensive online help page, which contains helpful information about the records, the database and how to consult the actual records.


February 3, 2007

Dr. George K. Schweitzer is returning to Hemet. His topics will include Missouri, Pennsylvania & Irish Research. Registration forms are available at the SOCCGS library.

February 24, 2007

Whittier Area Genealogical Society presents Curt B. Witcher, manager of the Historical Genealogy Department of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Topics: “Back to Basics: A Research Plan,” “Using Government Documents,” “Germans to the Midwest” and “Doing the History Eliminates the Mystery.” For information and registration:

Registration forms are available at the SOCCGS Library.

June 8, 9 & 10, 2007

Southern California Genealogical Society’s 38th Annual Genealogy Jamboree and Resource Expo

For more information and registration visit the website at


This year celebrate a traditional American Christmas...

With the tree from Canada, the ornaments from Hong Kong,

The lights from Japan, and the idea from Bethlehem.


Membership dues are payable by January 1, 2007.


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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