Spotlight on the Manuscript Collection: The Covell Family Papers

Posted by:

Just over a year ago the California Genealogical Society celebrated completion of the Manuscript Project – a comprehensive review and organization of the collection of donated family materials made to the society over its 112 year history. The collection totals ninety linear feet which has been cataloged and stored in a specially prepared archive room. Boxes of family information including the usual ancestry charts, family group sheets, ancient documents, letters, photographs, and many other types of items are alphabetically arranged.

A comprehensive document contains a descriptive synopsis of each family collection, providing the family surnames, geography, timeframe and description of the material. The latest version of the CGS Manuscript Collection Database was uploaded to the website in July 2010, and is free and available for download.

Materials continue to be donated to the society. Those recently received include materials from the Fischbeck, Covell, and Young families, and a Mills Terrace Christian Church, Oakland, photo album with more than 70 identified photographs.

Manuscript Committee members Georgia Lupinsky and Virginia Turner are the current caretakers of the collection and they hope shine a periodic spotlight on some of the family treasures under their care. This month’s focus is COVELL.

Georgia Lupinsky and Virginia Turner

The Covell collection was received in March 2010 and contains vital, deed and probate records, obituary and news articles, family correspondence, mementos, many original photos and portraits, school yearbooks, pedigree charts and family history files on the Covell and Coover families and related lines. It was compiled by Leah Jeanette Porter Gainer, great-granddaughter of Frank Marion Covell and Ann Eliza Peffers, granddaughter of Archer Morgan Covell and Leah Coover, daughter of Leah Jeanette Covell and Homer Porter. Mrs. Gainer died December 29, 2007.

Ann Eliza Peffers Covell

The patriarch of the family in California was Frank Morgan Covell, born to Morgan Covell and Laura Chamberlain on March 12, 1851 in Ridgebury Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Frank came to California by 1871 and settled in the Santa Cruz area. His interest in genealogy is evidenced by his 1918 hand-written account of the family that details military service by his ancestors in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.


The collection is filled with personal material that can enrich and amplify a family history. Items include a diary that Frank kept for a brief period of time in which he notes: “May 10th 1872. Took Annie Peffers to dance. Made Charly Myars mad. He won’t hurt anybody I guess.” Frank and Annie were married a year later.

Also in the file is Frank’s 1926 letter written to granddaughter, Esther Covell, reminiscing about his 1868 high school graduation and sharing with her some of the hopes and dreams he had as a young man. These items and many more are awaiting the visits of interested descendants and researchers.

The Covell Family papers are a 40 linear inch collection with the following surnames: Aronen, Chamberlain, Chisolm, Coleman, Coover, Covell, Farum, Finley, Gainer, Gammon, Holway, Kane, Maki, Peffers, Porter, Quinn. The family geography includes: California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

Photographs by Kathryn M. Doyle. COVELL family information provided by Georgia Lupinsky and Virginia Turner.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library