Thursday, April 21, 2016

Entertaining Podcasts for Genealogy fans

For those of you who eat up genealogy talk and the newest results of DNA and document research tangents, this podcast may suit you well. It features well- known experts (including those from "Who do You Think You Are" and NEHGS)  in a folksy discussion of matters genealogical. It is produced by Extreme Genes: Family History Radio, and while providing a lot of up to date information seems to take itself not all too seriously, allowing for fun in the mix and for a wide range of genealogy knowledge in the audience, from beginner to expert. Take a listen or visit the website.

Link: Podcast of Extreme Genes

Gedmatch, a website I have often recommended, gets a nice mention too.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Set up a Walking History Tour in your Town

It is not too difficult to create a historical walking tour in your town, and generate some interest in the history of the area. Every place has some history--so see if you can find some good landmarks all easily reached in a walking tour that will take an hour or so. To learn more about the history of the area you live in, you can talk to the historians and archivists at the local and county historical societies. A great source of historical information about buildings, streets, and agricultural and park history can often be found in old photos. These can be found more and more often online, but if they are not there, they may be held at the historical societies or they may be published in books about your area.

Once you have determined your landmarks and their great stories to be shared on the tour, make a simple map of the tour, including all the destinations. On the day of the tour you may want to ask the walkers to find interesting, funny, or strange things that you may place near the landmarks, or that may already be there to be viewed. In that sense, it can become a treasure hunt.

If possible, ask for a volunteer or two to man the landmarks and to explain some of the history when walkers arrive. If the volunteer has personal ties to the landmark, or personal knowledge of its history, this can make the visit very meaningful to the walkers.

Of course you will want to follow up with photos and a written report, which can appear in a local newspaper or on a historical society website.

This should be a great event for everyone, generating interest in the past, present, and future of the town and its landmarks.

Don't forget to involve people in the know about the town and its history, and don't forget to get any permissions and permits you might need, and of course to publicize the event.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Charley Parkhurst: California stagedriving man or woman?

It is always interesting when the records are inaccurate. In the case of Charley Parkhurst, the US Census record of 1870 provides the identity of this California resident as male, which is what Charley apparently liked to convey. She was, however, female. Choosing to get by as a man, she was able to take on a typical male profession and to vote. Listed in this record as a farmer, she drove stagecoach in the Santa Cruz area for years. Her grave is in the pioneer cemetery in Watsonville.

Apparently she was born in Lebanon, New Hampshire or Sharon, Vermont, as Charlotte Durkee Parkhurst, possibly daughter of Ebenezer Parkhurst and, according to the FindAGrave write-up, Sarah Morehouse. Sarah died a few years after Charlotte's birth. Until a birth record shows up, however, this is just one possibility for her parentage.

There are a variety of legends about how Charlotte was abandoned to an orphanage. Charlotte moved around as a young woman, and then came West.

The census record (click to enlarge):

The discovery in 1880 that she was female:

 Census image from Newspaper article from California Digital Newspaper Collection.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Now Levi's Stadium, once Spanish Land Grant

Now it is an exciting venue for football, and for a great halftime show. This is now, and what was then?
Someone lived there before…..

West of the former Santa Clara Alms house, between Guadalupe and Coyote creeks, on land formerly the Ulistac Nature Area, and before that Rincon de los Esteros, is a small but recently culturally important location once situated on a land grant given to Ignacio Alviso in Alta California days. The land grant was claimed by several parties as was de rigueur for a large Spanish Rancho. Later the location in question was set pretty much on the former Santa Cruz Division Railroad track…Francisco Berryessa lived there in 1880 (see census record) on land he claimed in 1852.

This land is the location for Levis Stadium, the site of the 2016 Super Bowl in Santa Clara. Cleats will tread where early ranchers, farmers, and train passengers once worked and played.

Historical maps tell the whole geographical story:
Enter any location that interests you--for the stadium you can enter
4900 Marie P DeBartolo Way, Santa Clara, CA 95054.
Census image from 1880 U.S. Census record.