Tuesday Tales From the Road – Vermont

by Kathryn Doyle (9/9/2008)

Mary Mettler is still on the road. Here is installment six:

Greetings from Vermont I drove from Suffield, Connecticut through Massachusetts and up the middle of Vermont on Saturday. After the horrible Route 95 drive across the George Washington Bridge a week ago, the Vermont drive was wonderful! I loved the rolling green hills, steepled churches and “Moose Crossing” signs. Of course, I could not resist a stop at Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory.

Monday, I journeyed to Westford, a tiny town about thirty minutes from Colchester, where my 3rd and 4th great grandparents and 2nd great grandmother lived. Birth, marriage and death records were not required until 1857, so one needs some luck to find information. I liken the search to an Easter Egg Hunt! You’ll never guess where I found the 1809 marriage record for my 3rd great grandparents – buried among land entries in the Third Volume of Land Records! I spent the day digging out gems from the Charter Book and the Land Record Books. Early settlers would come in to record this information, and I guess the Town Recorder would just put them in whatever book happened to be open!

The next day I moved down to the Montpelier area and stopped at the Vermont Public Records Center in Middlesex. They have the birth, marriage, death and land records on microfilm. The problem is each informational page costs $3! I spent the day copying some of the records by hand and printing only the most important. The next day, I discovered that I could print them out for twenty cents at the Vermont History Center/Vermont Historical Society (VHS) in Barre! So, Vermont researchers, go directly to VHS for birth, marriage and death records unless you need certified copies. VHS also has an extensive library of books and manuscripts, not only for Vermont but also for other New England states. Marjorie Strong, the Assistant Librarian, was very knowledgeable and helpful for my two days at the library. I would have loved a third day there, but today is a Vermont Holiday, the Battle of Bennington Day.

On a different note, I have a new “best friend,” Mike at Stone’s Auto Service in Barre. I lowered the passenger side window to tell the busy motel housekeeper to skip my room, but my window would not go back up. Yikes! It rains a lot in Vermont, not to mention that all my worldly goods are in my car. The motel suggested Stone’s Auto Service, and Mike took the door apart to discover a broken cable. A quick call to the only BMW dealer in Vermont, about an hour away in Burlington, yielded a frightening “about seven days” to get a new cable. Mike came up with an ingenious solution – he drilled a hole in the railing on which the window moves and put in a screw to hold the window up. I can’t open that window, but I should be able to drive home without any further trouble. However, I am now terrified to open any of the other windows and will pray each time I have to stop and pay a toll on the turnpikes. You didn’t think this trip was all fun, did you? Next week – Dorset, Rupert and Bennington.

From Your Roving Reporter,

Mary Mettler

Read the entire series:
Part One: Salt Lake City
Part Two: Indiana
Part Three: Pennsylvania
Part Four: More From Pennsylvania
Part Five: Washington D.C.
Part Six: Suffield, Connecticut
Part Seven: Vermont
Part Eight: Dorset, Vermont
Part Nine: West Point and Back to Pennsylvania
Part Ten: Some Final Thoughts From Home

CGS Member Spotlight: Barbara Close

by Kathryn Doyle (9/8/2008)

Scores of volunteers at the California Genealogical Society work in the background to keep the library humming along. Whether they are shelving books, cataloging periodicals, opening mail, paying bills, maintaining computers or performing umpteen other tasks, members selflessly contribute their time to the overall running of the society.

Usually CGS volunteers do their work behind the scenes, without fanfare or public acknowledgment. But occasionally members step forward to significantly contribute to a published work that warrants placing their name on the cover of a book. If you scroll down the right sidebar of this blog you will see some of the publications edited by Barbara Close.


Barbara Ross Close directed the indexing of several society projects, including the San Francisco I.O.O.F. Crematory records, the S.F. Death series and the California Surname Index. Each work represents time spent by a team of members, gathering up raw data held by CGS, then writing and sorting it – imposing order by printing, proofing, formatting, finishing, publishing, marketing and distributing it along the way. Thousands of volunteer hours are the underlying reality of the CGS publication list. In addition to her contribution supervising specific indexing projects, Barbara also served as chair of the Publications Committee for the last three years.

Barbara is well-trained for her tasks at CGS. She holds a B.A. in English from University of California, Berkeley and has a Masters in Library Science from San Jose State. The twin skills of patience and perseverance required for indexing were honed during a career in education in Oakland, where Barbara taught grades four through nine, and was a school librarian.

Close has been a member of the California Genealogical Society since 1991. She was first introduced to the society by past-president, Rick Sherman, who shares another passion with her – folk dancing. (I’ll have to blog sometime about the large number of CGS members who are involved in all manner of dance pursuits!) Barbara’s interest in genealogy dates back to a conversation with her uncle just after her father’s funeral in Redding, California. She realized that she knew almost about her father’s family and the search began.

Barbara recently stepped down as chair of the Publications Committee. Thanks, Barbara, for all of your exceptional work.

CGS titles edited by Barbara Close:
California Surname Index: Biographies from Selected Histories, California Genealogical Society, 2000
San Francisco, California: I.O.O.F. Crematory Records, California Genealogical Society, 2001
San Francisco Deaths 1902-1904, California Genealogical Society, 2003
San Francisco Deaths 1865-1869, California Genealogical Society, 2004

Photograph by Kathryn Doyle.

Angel Island Foundation Dinner – September 12, 2008

by Kathryn Doyle (9/5/2008)

CGS member Jeanie W. Chooey Low sent this announcement:

There’s still time to get your tickets to the The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation Annual Fundraising Dinner held next Friday, September 12, 2008 at the Westin San Francisco Market Street, 50 Third Street, San Francisco. Tickets are $200 and proceeds go to continuing the Foundation’s efforts to inform the public about the rich history of the Immigration Station and its implications today.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Erika Lee, co-author of Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America with Judy Yung. The book is due out in 2010, but you will get a preview of the new stories emerging from their studies of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian immigrants, who passed through Angel Island between 1910 and 1940.

Pianist/composer Jon Jang will perform Prologue to Angel Voices, a series of musical compositions inspired by new translations of the Chinese poems carved on the Detention Barrack walls, Japanese poems written about the Angel Island experience, and excerpts from a Russian immigrant’s letters about his stay on the island.
Come learn about the upcoming reopening of the Immigration Station on February 15, 2009. To buy tickets, email your contact information to [email protected] or call Julie at 415-262-4429.
The immigration experience is a common thread binding the histories of most Americans. Whether escaping persecution, poverty or lack of economic prospects, immigrants have come to the United States for the ideals it represents — freedom, democracy, and opportunity. Most Americans know the story of Ellis Island, where immigrants crossing the Atlantic Ocean were processed. But the story of its West Coast counterpart, Angel Island, is little-known.
Located in the middle of San Francisco Bay, Angel Island Immigration Station was routinely the first stop for immigrants crossing the Pacific Ocean. The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (AIISF) is the nonprofit partner of California State Parks and the National Park Service in the effort to preserve, restore and interpret the historic immigration station.