110th anniversary bookmark

by Kathryn Doyle (2/13/2008)

The 110th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday was a resounding success. Steve Danko has posted a detailed report on the day at his blog: Maureen Taylor, Photo Detective. I was struck by Maureen’s incredible talent and passion for her subject, which we learned is a fusion of her expertise in history, photography and genealogy. I came away with a new appreciation for the value of photographs — not just as a supplement to our family history but also as a research tool. We all have to become “photo detectives” to make sure we have gleaned all of the clues lying in wait in our own family photographs.

All 140 attendees went home with a special souvenir of the day. CGS President, Jane Lindsey, planned early on to create a bookmark to commemorate the anniversary but it was CGS News Production Editor, Lois Elling, who thought to merge the idea with the theme. She combined her design skills and love of ancestral photographs to create a keepsake that perfectly complemented Maureen’s presentations.

Several CGS members submitted photographs for the bookmark. I promised that I would include a personal “thank you” to each and give a bit of background and biographical information about the CGS ancestors featured. I’ll start with the two photos that I submitted.

The first is a photograph of my uncle and mother taken in 1938 in Sendai, Japan. My uncle, Iwao OKAMOTO, was graduating from high school and had been instructed by his mother to stop by the local studio to sit for a graduation photograph. He took along one of his younger sisters, Miyako, age 8. My grandmother was surprised to find that all of his portraits included his sibling! Iwao was unconcerned. He told his mother that if she didn’t want to include his little sister she could be cut off. I’m so grateful that she wasn’t.

The second is from my husband’s extended NICKLES family. It is of two siblings, Pauline and George Nikolaides, taken about 1928 in the village of Tsintzina, near Sparta, Greece. The brother and sister spent their childhood years in two villages – summers spent in the mountains in Tsintzina, where it is cooler, and the winters in Zoupena; migrating back and forth, up and down the mountain each spring and fall, as has been the custom for hundreds of years. They came to the U.S. with their father and siblings in 1937; their mother remained in Greece throughout her life. Pauline Nickles Poulos died in 1986. George P. Nickles died November 22, 2007. May their memories be eternal.

This is one of only three photographs taken on the wedding day of Clare and Alta McAllister THOMSON, parents of Thomas Thomson who is the husband of Shirley Pugh Thomson, CGS board member and recording secretary. The young bride and groom (she only 18, he age 19) were photographed 4 June 1916, in Sullivan County, Indiana. In the back seat are their best friends and witnesses, Paul and Lena Sharpe. The car was the groom’s father’s Buick.

Two photographs were contributed by CGS member Lisa B. Lee. David Moses LEE was born in 1847 in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, the son of William Barnard Lee and Eleanor Jane Smith, and descendant of William Lee, a black Loyalist who fought in the Revolutionary War on behalf of the British Crown. In his early 20s, he moved to Buffalo, New York with his mother and worked first as a blacksmith and then as a male nurse, a position he held for over 50 years. For much of his adult life, he worked in Dr. Pierce’s Hospital, an institution on Buffalo’s Main Street. Lee died in 1936 in Buffalo at the age of 89.

Lisa’s second contribution was the photograph of the MILLER Family. William Miller was born in Pennsylvania about 1811 and escaped slavery to Ontario and settled in the Wellington County area around 1835. He and his wife, Mary Ann Clement (a Canadian native) had at least 11 children. Those pictured in the photo are William Miller’s grandson John Sylvester Miller, John’s wife, Amanda Cromwell (whose grandfather was a black Loyalist in Nova Scotia) and their children, Joseph, Jane, William and Cecil.

I have a few more details to gather for the remaining photographs so stay tuned.

The year was 1898

by Kathryn Doyle (2/12/2008)

The year was 1898.

William McKinley was president and declared war on Spain.

Madame Marie Curie and her husband Pierre discovered radium.

The Hawaiian Islands became a territory of the United States.

Folks were trying a new soft drink called “Pepsi-Cola.”

Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, died and C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, was born.

And, on February 12, 1898, the California Genealogical Society was created.

[Photo of William McKinley from the Library of Congress Digital Collection.]
Great Registers of Voters – SF 1890

by Kathryn Doyle (2/12/2008)

Several genealogy blogs have commented on the recent release of a new database on ancestry.com – California Voter Registrations, 1900-1968. This collection is a portion of what is more commonly known as the “Great Registers of Voters” which date back to 1866. Legislation was enacted that year to combat voter fraud and bring order after the massive population influx that came with the Gold Rush. The registers are compiled lists of voter names and addresses arranged by district. Additional information was collected which varies by year.

CGS Research Director Nancy Peterson, who devotes a chapter to “Voting Records” in her book Raking the Ashes: Genealogical Strategies for Pre-1906 San Francisco Research, notes that “the Great Registers before the years that Ancestry digitized contained naturalization information.” The 1866 legislation required voters to provide the country where they were born and “if a naturalized foreigner, when, where, and by what Court he was admitted to become a citizen of the United States.” By 1900, when the United States began collecting specific naturalization information from individuals during the decennial census, the voters of California were no longer required to supply it.

CGS member, Jim W. Faulkinbury, gives the complete background of the Great Registers and has an online database index of Foreign-Born Voters of 1872.

The California Genealogical Society participated in the statewide indexing of the 1890 Great Register of Voters, chosen to provide a partial substitute for the lost United States census of that year. The massive project, which took eleven years to complete, was organized by the California State Genealogical Alliance, a consortium of independent genealogical societies throughout California, chaired by Janice G. Cloud of Santa Barbara. The California 1890 Great Register of Voters, a three volume set, indexes 311,028 men living in California in 1890 and includes significant personal information but not the naturalization data.

The California Genealogical Society separately indexed and published in 2002 a one-volume San Francisco, California: 1890 Great Register of Voters, edited by Jane Billings Steiner. It contains the names of 59,712 men living in the many precincts of the city and county of San Francisco in 1890, as well as their age, place of birth, occupation, home address and all naturalization details as found in the official record. CGS has a names search at our Web site which includes this records set, as well as many more. Results that include the code “FRAN” come from this database and can be purchased.