Welcome to the CCCGS blog.

The purpose of this blog is to promote the Contra Costa County Genealogical Society by announcing upcoming events and reporting on past events. In doing so, I hope it will encourage all who are interested to attend any of our events and meetings, and share in our enthusiasm of genealogical research.

August 9, 2016

Fall Seminar - October 15, 2016 - John Philip Colletta

Our fall seminar is going to a great one: "Ancestors on the Move: Immigration and Naturalization." National speaker, John Philip Colletta, Ph.D. will be the speaker and his topics are:

  • "Immigration to America, Colonial Times to Post-World War II: Where Do Your Ancestors Fit In? - Colonial Times to 1882" - Part I
  • "Immigration to America, Colonial Times to Post-World War II: Where Do Your Ancestors Fit In? - 1882 to Post-World War II" - Part II
  • "U.S. Naturalization Records, 1790-1930s: Sources and Strategies for Challenging Cases"
  • "Turning Biographical Facts into Real Life Events: How to Build Historical Context" 
John Colletta is a wonderful speaker who brings genealogy studies to life with engaging stories.

Our seminar will be held at the Lafayette Veterans Memorial Hall, 3780 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, California. The program is from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. An optional lunch can be purchase along with your registration. There will also be book sales and raffles.

For more information and a flyer to download, click here.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

October 21, 2015

Family History Month at California Genealogical Society's Library

This month is Family History Month. The California Genealogical Society is celebrating by having Lunch Discussions on Thursdays. There are two more this month and you can register here. The discussions a great way to meet and network with other genealogists.

Also, during October, the research fee of $5 is being waived. The library is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located at 2200 Broadway, Oakland. That is just two blocks from the 19th Street Station.

The other great news is the library catalog is now a part of World Cat. Check out their website at http://californiaancestors.org/.

Copyright © 2015 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

April 20, 2015

Try Out "Ancestry Academy"

There’s a new feature on Ancestry.com called “Ancestry Academy.”  

There are quite a few courses you can take on a variety of genealogy subjects. Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings wrote a great blog post about it here.

I decided to take a test drive and went through the 1940 Census class because it was free. In fact the classes using Ancestry’s products such as Fold3 and FamilyTreeMaker are free.

"You Found What in the 1940 Census?" with Anne Gillespie Mitchell was about an hour long but presented in short 4-5 minute segments so you don’t have to complete it all in one setting. I have been using the 1940 census since it has been available but I still learned quite a bit from this course.

Each segment begins with the learning objectives. The learning objectives are reviewed again after the presentation. The images all through the presentation were very clear and great searching tips are given as well. Many of the points she made can be applied to the other U.S. census records as well. Besides learning about each column on the census sheet, she covered how to present the data and write the source citation. Anne Mitchell’s presentation of the subject was superb.

At the conclusion, there is a test to test your comprehension of the material. You have all the time needed to complete the test. I passed with a 100% and received a certificate of completion, shown here.

I recommend trying out the free courses, especially this 1940 census class. 

Copyright © 2015 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

April 10, 2015

Follow Friday: Evidence Explained Quick Tip "How to Solve a Research Problem"

Are you ready to take your research from the beginner's stage? Here is a tip from the Evidence Explained website "Quick Tips" written by Elizabeth Shown Mills, entitled "How to Solve a Research Problem."

There are just 5 steps or rather axioms when conducting research and analyzing the information found in the sources.  These steps will help you stay on track and perhaps help solve a research problem.

And when you are at Evidence Explained website, check out the other great tips.

Copyright © 2015 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

March 22, 2015

Are You Using Land Records?

Are you using land records? Why not? Because you find them dry and boring? Well there can be a lot of information you can find from land records. They can help you place your ancestor in a time and place. You might be able to connect your ancestor to his family and neighbors. You might even find the place from where he came.

Susan Bankhead, M.A., CG writes a wonderful blog called "Brick Wall Genealogist." This week her blog post "Challenge #11: Drill Into Land Records" really has some good thinking points about land records.

I found a deed of my great-great grandfather, George W. Lancaster and his wife, Mattie, selling land in Arizona Territory.
Deeds, Maricopa County, Arizona Territory, 1889, p 32,
Lancaster-Coulson, FHL film 2196859

My question was, how did he acquire this land? There was no record of the land purchase in the Maricopa County deed index. Where was this land located? Who was Mary E. Coulson? All good questions to ask.

The best way to learn the most from a record is to transcribe it. As you transcribe it, jot down any questions that come to your mind that you want to know more about or ideas about where else you could conduct research.

Copyright © 2015 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

November 21, 2014

Follow Friday: Ancestoring: Word Lists

Michele Simmons Lewis writes a wonderful blog called "Ancestoring." She writes about general and specific genealogy topics as well as about her finds with her own family. She is also an employee for Legacy Family Tree and often writes about great ways to use that software.

This week she wrote about word lists. You can access it here.  These word lists are from wiki at familysearch.org and give you all in one place the words you might encounter with foreign vital records. What's great about her article is she has links to the various foreign language lists all in one place.

Check out her blog post.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

November 2, 2014

Searching Ancestry for Free!

This past week, Ancestry.com had a wonderful article, "Ten Free Data Collections to Get You Started With Your Family History" on their blog written by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, listing the databases that can be searched for free.  All you need to do is register on the Ancestry.com site.

I knew about the 1880 and 1940 census records, but did not know about the others on the list. Here's a chance to do some searching at home. If you find anything that needs the subscription databases, you can always visit the Concord Family History Center to view them on their computers.

Happy searching!

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

September 26, 2014

Follow Friday: 20 Questions You Can Use to Capture Grandma's Story, Family Search Blog

FamilySearch.org's blog has wonderful ideas for researching and gathering your family's stories. A great one was written by Paul Mauta called "20 Questions You Can Use to Capture Grandma's Story."

The article was probably geared towards young people and following his advice would be a great way to connect with your grandmother.  However, I was thinking that if your grandparents have already died, that these same questions could be answered by yourself.  It is just as important that your story be told as well, including those stories of your youth.

So take a look at the list of questions and begin to tell your story, too!

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

September 12, 2014

Follow Friday: "17 Genealogy Things To Do If You Only A Few Minutes" by Genealogy Insider

Don't have much time but you want to get some genealogy done? Or maybe you like to do some research while you watch television.

Diane Haddad from Family Tree Magazine has some wonderful suggestions of small projects you can do in a short time period.

If I have just a few minutes, I might spend time organizing my digital files. I tend to save items I find onto my desktop and they then need to be processed: entered into RootsMagic, then renamed and filed in that family folder on my computer.

Diane also has some links to other author's blog posts for more ideas.  Check out her post here.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

August 29, 2014

Follow Friday: Ancestoring blog on FamilySearch.org's Help Menu

Michele Simmons Lewis has a wonderful blog at Ancestoring. She writes about her research but also writes about the many sources you can use in your own research.  Today's Follow Friday post is featuring her blog post "Getting the Most Out of FamilySearch--The Help Menu."

FamilySearch help drop down menu
FamilySearch Help Menu

The FamilySearch.org website is wonderful and full of really amazing and helpful things for your own genealogical research. From actual databases with images to videos on how to use the site. The Wiki has a wealth of useful tools.

So check out Michele's blog post and then explore FamilySearch.org.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

August 9, 2014

Happy Blogiversary to Us!

This is our 4th anniversary!

We started the blog for our society 4 years ago in order to give our members more information about online sources and to let prospective members know more about our society.

Now that the author of these blog posts is no longer on the board of directors, posts will be more frequent.

We're on the summer break and our next meeting will be September 11. More about that soon!

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

August 1, 2014

Follow Friday: The Armchair Genealogist--"10 Free Genealogy Downloads"

The Armchair Genealogist blog has great articles about writing and researching your genealogy. This week, they put together a wonderful list of genealogy downloads from such websites as Family Tree Magazine, Legacy Family Tree, My Heritage, Family Chartmasters, Rootsmagic, and more.

Click here to read their post and see the downloads.

I am very anxious to try out "Family Tree tips, 23 Secrets to Organize Your Genealogy" by Family Tree Magazine and "48 Ancestry.com Tips" as well.  I'm sure to find good hints to doing searches at Ancestry.com.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

June 6, 2014

Follow Friday: Using Search Wildcards on Genealogy Websites from Genealogy Insider

Do you get frustrated when you can't find your ancestor in the various website search engines? Want to know which wildcards a website search engine will take? You know, those special characters like * or ? that help you search for variant spellings of your ancestor's surname.

Diane Haddad at Genealogy Insider has a great blog post called "Using Search Wildcards on Genealogy Websites," describing just what it takes to use wildcards at such sites as Ancestry.com, Mocavo, FamilySearch and others.

Yes, she's describing a genealogy class you can take through Family Tree Magazine University, but she has some great tips you can use now even if you don't plan to sign up for the class.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

May 30, 2014

Follow Friday - Sanborn Maps

I love maps and I think that maps are extremely helpful in your genealogy research. They help you see your ancestor in relationship to others. They help you see their community. They might help you discover the neighboring counties or states.

So when I saw the Kimberly Powell article on about.com on Sanborn maps, I was very excited.  You can read about it here.

Here is an example of the 1886 map I found of Jeffersonville, Indiana in Clark County. These are in full color!

1886 Sanborn Map of Jeffersonville, Indiana, sheet 3. This is from Indiana University Herman B Wells Library Map Collections

The maps do not have resident's names on the buildings, but there are addresses, so if you know their address, you might find the outline of their house. Also you can look for their church or place of business. These are usually in the index on the first sheet.

So check out these maps. On Kimberly's blog there is a list of states with available Sanborn maps.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

April 18, 2014

Follow Friday: 3 Tips for Overcoming Spelling Variations from Mocavo.com

Michael J. Leclerc at Mocavo.com has written a wonderful blog post, "3 Tips for Overcoming Spelling Variations" about spelling and spelling variations. His third tip is the best: ask a friend to write out the family name that you give to them orally. Don't tell them how to spell it but see all the variations they come up with from just hearing it. This is exactly how the town or county clerk or the census taker recorded our families' names--they never asked "how is that spelled?"

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

March 28, 2014

Follow Friday: "Create a Legacy Plan"

As we age, we begin to worry about what will become of our genealogical research, especially if we have no children who want to take it over.

FlipPal, the company who makes a portable scanner, has blog articles and this week there is a wonderful one written by Mary V. Danielsen about how to create a legacy plan.  I hope you will find this useful!

Read "Week 10: Create a Legacy Plan" here.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

March 7, 2014

Follow Friday - NGS To Have Live Streaming

This week there has been exciting news in the genealogy world.  The National Genealogical Society (NGS) is having their conference in Richmond, Virginia this May. If you think that is too far to attend, you can attend right from your home.

There will be live-streaming of some of the sessions. The cost isn't too bad. $65 for four sessions if you are a member or $80 if you are not.

There are two tracks to choose from and you can sign up for both tracks at another discount.  And if you can't watch it live, you will have the ability to watch it as many times as you want for 90 days.

More details about the deal here:

It's a great deal and I plan to sign up to listen to Elizabeth Shown Mills, Thomas Jones, Pamela Boyer Sayer, Sharon Tate Moody, and Michael Hait in track 1.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

February 28, 2014

Follow Friday: Ancestry.com Blog "4 Things to Do Before You Donate Your Genealogy"

It is tough to decide what you will do with all of your wonderful research.  Sometimes no one in your family is interested. Are you afraid they will just toss it out?

Well, there are steps you can take to ensure your research will not be tossed out by your family or executors. Amy Johnson Crow at the Ancestry.com blog has some good ideas here.

I think one of the best ways to ensure your ancestor's story continues for your family is to create something that is lasting--something your children will WANT to keep.  This can be as simple as writing short vignettes and saving photos and documents in sheet protectors which you then put into well-labeled binders. Family is less likely to toss binders with stories and pictures than file drawers full of file folders.  Also you could photocopy the pages and have a printer/copy place spiral bind them.  Create an attractive cover that is enticing.

Hope the article gives you some food for thought!

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

February 21, 2014

Follow Friday: Genealogy Problem Solving: 6 Strategies That Helped Me

I have a presentation on tips to break down brick walls and love reading articles with hints to solve all kinds of problems.  Here's one by Diane Haddad who writes as the "Genealogy Insider" for Family Tree Magazine. Her article "Genealogy Problem Solving: 6 Strategies That Helped Me" is a great resource for finding tough problems.

The article is primarily promoting one of their webinars to be given by Gena Philibert Ortega on Feb. 27 and information is given on the blog post if you are interested in learning more. However, her 6 tips are great ones and you can read all about them here.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

February 15, 2014

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun!

I really enjoy reading Randy Seaver's blog, Genea-Musings. He writes about a lot of different subjects from what's news in genealogy, how to use Ancestry.com or one of the genealogy software products such as Legacy or Rootsmagic, to writing about his own family research.

On Saturdays, he has a special meme called "Saturday Night Genealogy Fun" and today's question to write about is:
a) What was your first illness as a child?
b) What was the first funeral you attended?
c) What was your favorite book as a child?
d) What was your favorite class in elementary school?
e) What was your favorite toy as a child?
f) Did you learn how to swim, and where did you learn?
These were the questions asked by Judy G. Russell during her key-note speech at RootsTech last week. You can hear her presentation here.

I have decided to answer the questions here and challenge you to record your answers either in the comments below, in your genealogy database, or in a Word document.  This way you'll have something for your future descendants to find about you!

Lisa Hork Gorrell's Memories
A. My first illness that I know about was having scarlet fever. Our house was quarantined and I remember the doctor making a house call.  I hated the tongue depressor he used to look in my throat. I always thought I was going to choke.
B.  The first funeral I attended was my grandfather, Tom J. Johnston's funeral in 1973.  I was 19 years old and we rode from the funeral home after the service to the cemetery in a limousine.  The coffin was open at the funeral home and my grandmother was not too happy about it.  But he looked pretty good--just looked like he was happily asleep. My youngest sisters were not allowed to go to the funeral. I didn't agree about that and took my daughters to funerals at all ages.
C. My favorite book as a young child was Little Bear with the beautiful drawings of Maurice Sendak.  Later my favorite books were the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was also very fond of mysteries: Happy Hollisters, Trixie Beldon, and Nancy Drew.
 D. My favorite class in elementary school was Spelling.  I often got 100's by writing over and over the spelling words. I also liked making up stories using the spelling words.
E.  My favorite toy was anything to do with cowboys. I had a cowboy hat, vest, and pistol in a holster.
F.  I didn't learn how to swim until I was in the 6th grade. I could get around okay in the pool using some sort of dog paddle.  My mother put me into real lessons one summer and I learned how to swim really fast--my class was full of six-year-olds. I quickly got moved up to a class with older kids (though none my age). Funny how embarrassment can help you learn something fast!
So what are your memories!

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.