Monday, December 28, 2015

Playing Clue Game with Genealogical Documents

The year end holidays present a perfect opportunity to entertain ourselves with games and puzzles. One of my favorite games is Clue: The Classic Detective Game.  The object of the game is to solve a murder mystery by finding clues about the identity of the murderer, where the crime took place, and which weapon was used. Each player assumes the role of one of the six suspects, and attempts to deduce the correct answer by strategically moving around a game board representing the rooms of a mansion and collecting clues about the circumstances of the murder from the other players.  When you have collected sufficient clues you can announce that it was Professor Plum, in the Hall, with the revolver!

Genealogists are detectives that collect clues from historic documents.  Many of those clues will lead to other documents that help us to deduce the facts about our ancestors.  Who were they?  How did they arm themselves to make a living?  Where did they live, work and socialize?  The clues to answer these questions are found in genealogical and historical documents.  Names, occupations, dates and places are clues that help us identify the most likely suspects of our family history.

Some people get excited about receiving holiday cards in the mail.  I get excited when I receive an envelope with a vital record for an ancestor.  On December 15, I mailed a check for $5.00 to the State of Louisiana, Secretary of State for the Death Certificate of Price Bishop 1890-1955.  On December 17 a staff researcher at the Vital Record office found the death certificate and put it in the mail to me on the same day.  I was really excited about how quick and inexpensive it was to order a death certificate from Louisiana.

The death certificate for Price Bishop contained some amazing clues about his identity and his last days in New Orleans.  These clues lead me to other documents and images which help to illustrate his life.  Let's use this death certificate as an example of how to analyze clues in historic documents.

Death Certificate of Price Bishop 1890-1955
Box 7 on the death certificate contains the date of birth of the deceased: April 17, 1890.  This date matched the date of birth that I had from his World War I draft card so I knew I had the right man.

World War I Draft Card of Price Watson Bishop born April 17, 1890 in Cleburne, Johnson County, Texas.
However there is a slight discrepancy between the two documents.  The death certificate states that Mr. Bishop was born in Dallas, Texas.  The draft card states that he was born in Cleburne, Texas. These two cities are only sixty miles apart.  Mr. Bishop was residing in Dallas in 1918.  Usually the draft card would be considered a more reliable source since the information is a first hand account from the man himself. The informant on the death certificate would be considered a secondary source relying on his memory in a stressful time after the death of a friend or loved one or perhaps the informant knew very little about the person.  To further emphasize this point, the informant did not know the names and places of birth of the parents of Mr. Bishop.

Price Bishop was residing for four months prior to his death at a hospital or institution at  4000 Dumaine Street in New Orleans.  The physician attended Price Bishop from 7 February 1955 to the date of his death which is a four month period.

You can discover a lot more than your ancestor's name and address in city directories.  The clue from the death certificate was that there was a hospital or an institution located at 4000 Dumaine Street in New Orleans.  Instead of using a general search, it is best to search directly within the City Directory database.  The image below shows the City Directory search page which can be accessed from the card catalog at

Access the City Directory search page from the card catalog at to conduct a keyword search.
I used the address "4000 Dumaine" as a keyword search and limited it to the year 1954 which was one year before the death occurred.  Several names came up as matches for this address.

As I scrolled down the list of names at 4000 Dumaine, I found nine people were residing at that address.  I also found a curious name: "Patients Accepted Bedridden."  Clicking on the link led me to a directory listing for the Elysian Convalescent Home as follows:

  4000 DUMAINE
  (See opposite page)

On the opposite page was this advertisement in the City Directory:

Advertisement in the 1954 New Orleans City Directory for the Elysian Convalescent Home at 4000 Dumaine Street.
A search of Google Maps for the address of 4000 Dumaine led to this map and a street image:

4000 Dumaine was located very close to the New Orleans City Park.
This building was certainly large enough to serve as a ten-bed nursing home in 1955.

The death certificate also showed that his burial place is listed as Grand View Cemetery in La Porte, Texas.  His body was removed to the cemetery on the same day that he died: 11 June 1955.   Grand View Cemetery is located very near the borders of La Porte, Deer Park and Pasadena, Texas which are all part of the Houston Metropolitan area.  I found a current listing for the cemetery as follows:

Grand View Memorial Park/Bethany Cemetery
Address: 8501 Spencer Hwy, Pasadena, TX 77505
Phone:(281) 479-6076

Unfortunately, the cemetery has been unable to find his burial record to determine the location of his burial.  Apparently, this cemetery files their burial records under the name of the owner of the cemetery lots.  We tried looking under all of the names associated with the four daughters of Price Bishop but the cemetery staff could not find his burial record.  There is no record for him on either.  Some clues lead to more questions: why was Price Watson transported from New Orleans to the Houston area for burial?  He did have family in the Houston area but none of them are buried in this cemetery.

All of these clues from the death certificate provide useful information about the circumstances of the death and burial of Price Bishop.  The advertisement from the City Directory gives some reassurance that Mr. Bishop received good care.  Hopefully, the cemetery will be able to find precisely where he is buried.  More mysteries need to be solved as to why and where he was buried in Grand View Memorial Park.

If you would like to learn more about genealogical research techniques, please contact me.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Writing a Genealogical Biography with

Have you written a biography for one of your ancestors?  Often it is difficult to know where to start. I see many complaints about the "New"  No automated tool is foolproof and every technological tool needs to be refined.  I have seen a few people question the value of the new LIFESTORY view at  I happen to love the LIFESTORY feature because it eliminates the biographical writer's block.

The first step in effective genealogy research is to assess what you already know about a particular ancestor.  A chronology for your ancestor is essential to the genealogical analysis.  That is why I love using the LIFESTORY feature as a starting point.  The biographical sketch and the chronology is already written for you.  All you have to do is analyze the accuracy of the story and then edit if necessary.  The LIFESTORY can be printed and shared with your family members.  This a great way to stimulate interest in the genealogy that you have compiled.

For example, I recently had a conversation over the telephone with my dad about our ancestor, James Lee, 1761-1819, who owned a pub in England called the Millstone Inn between Liverpool and Manchester.  Dad wanted to know more about our ancestor and see a picture of the pub which is still in operation.  I printed a copy of the LIFESTORY to a PDF and sent it to my dad via email.  So here are the images from that LIFESTORY printout.

The automated approach of the LIFESTORY presents all of the known facts that I entered on his timeline.  The LIFESTORY begins by writing a summary of his life.  The name of his father is unknown which is immediately obvious when the automated tool writes that James Lee was "the child of his father".  I can edit this paragraph if I prefer that it read differently.  The map shows a heart icon for the marriage and a house icon for a residence.

I added an image of the marriage register to the marriage event which helps to illustrate the chronology.  I love this image because it describes the residence and occupation of my ancestor: James Lee of Newton, Victualler.  The definition of victualler is
  1. 1.
    a person providing or selling food or other provisions.
  2. 2.
    a person who is licensed to sell alcoholic liquor.
  3. I have also seen it described as an innkeeper which fits with the fact that he was known to have operated the Millstone Inn.

This page shows more events from his chronology.

This page contains a history of the Millstone Inn that I found and a picture from the internet.
Here is a transcription of the story to make it easier for you to read:

James Lee was the owner of the Millstone Inn from at least 1803 at the time of his marriage. James Lee is described in the marriage record as a victualler. His widow Miriam Lee continued to keep the inn to at least 1825 when she is listed in the Baines Directory. 

From: Simon Wells Sent: Sat 10/15/11 12:34 AM 
Dear 'Cousin' Nick, I found this description of the village Newton-in-Makerfield in the year 1837 from the 1825 Baines Directory. Miriam Leigh is shown as the Inn Keeper because James Leigh has passed, the only burial record that matches to James even if it is spelt as Lee is the one below, it shows Miriam and James are both buried at St Oswald Church, Winwick and they had a son called William buried in the churchyard also. 

"A little nearer Newton we should come to the Malt Kiln, kept by Henry Pennington, and then to the Mill Stone Inn, kept by Miriam Leigh. Proceeding, on the left, we would notice that fine old timbered building, Newton Hall -the late home of the Blackburnes, but in which Wm. Clayton then resided (and after his death tenanted by Mrs. Clayton and her brother and his family, who were named Boardman), to be (followed by Edward Ball, his son John and others. In recent years, we learn that it was contemplated to take the Hall down and re-erect it on the higher ground adjoining. but as some membars of the Blackburne family did not wish it to he disturbed on account of the family's connection with it, it was allowed to remain." 

Transcription of the Newton-in-Makerfield section from the Lancashire Baines Directory 1824-5 (c) copyright 2003 : Steven Dowd - feel free to use this text for any educational, personal or non-commercial purposes 
Millstone [Inn?], Miriam Leigh See complete listing of Inns and Taverns in Newton-in-Makerfield below: 
Blue Bell, Wm. Leather, 
Blue Lion, James Molineux, 
Bull Inn, John Hamer, 
Bulls Head, Henry Glover, Golborne Dale, 
Greyhound, Ellen Naylor, 
Common Horse & Jockey Inn, Chas. Steel, 
Millstone, Miriam Leigh
Red Lion, Henry Smith 
Royal Oak, Peter Forshaw 
Swan, John Smiley, 
Common White Lion, John Gaskell
This is my favorite view of the Millstone Inn.

I have found the LIFESTORY feature to be a great publishing tool.  It also helps me to identify the gaps in an ancestor's chronology.  It prompts me to publish the information that I already have and to search for the information that I am missing.  This particular LIFESTORY for James Lee also inspires me to save up for a trip to England so I can retrace the steps of my ancestors and walk inside the building that he once owned!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Preserving Holiday Memories- "The Ghosts of Christmas Past"

Every genealogist should start by writing down their own memories, so I am modeling the way.
Christmas 1955                                                 

I decided to search my brain for memories of "Christmas Past."  I seem to have found some "Friendly Ghosts" but I am  not always sure of the accuracy of those ghosts.  I hope that after I write this down that it will generate many corrections and additions from my family.

I really don't have any memories of Christmas in the 1950s but I found a few pictures:

Nick Cimino Christmas 1954
Christmas 1955- Left to right: Elaine Kelly, Christine Watson, Nick Cimino, Jill Cimino, and Jack Kelly.  George Kelly is the horse and my dad, Dick Cimino is the rider.  This was at the Kelly residence on Parkside Court in Sacramento. 
This is another picture of me from the 1950s.  I am guessing that this was Christmas 1956.  The plug in the baseboard makes me think it is at the home of my grandparents, True and Helen Mayne in San Francisco.  It looks like I am wearing mukluk slippers.  There appears to be a Raggedy Ann Doll laying near me in a heap.

The Cimino Christmas Eve in the 1960s was usually celebrated at Uncle Tony and Aunt Betty's house on Demaret Drive in Sacramento.  Uncle Tony Cimino was the oldest and he and Betty had six children: John, Mike, Paul, Tim, Mary and Toni.  There were four children in our family: Nick, Vicky, Vince and Faran.  Aunt Betty and her husband, Elson Hancock had two children: Mary Lynn and Larry.  Aunt Joy Gail had two daughters: Rhonda and Aleen Burns.  In the early years,  we would get presents for every aunt, uncle and cousin, which made Christmas a very expensive endeavor.

As the years progressed,  we switched to a gift exchange where we would draw names out of a hat for the following year.  I can't remember if we had a meal together on Christmas Eve but I am pretty sure there were cookies.  Grandpa Dick and Grandma Macy had a tradition of giving all the grandchildren a box of chocolate covered cherries on Christmas Eve and the adults received a ham. Several of the Cimino family dispersed from Sacramento in the late 1970s so that was the end of the Cimino Family Christmas Eve celebrations.  You knew that you had come of age when you received the ham but I still long for the chocolate covered cherries.

Christmas morning was almost always spent at our home at 2352 Craig Avenue in Sacramento.  My most vivid memories of Christmas presents include the four inch think Readers Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary and the subscription to Quinto Lingo.  I think it was my mother who liked to encourage my scholarly aspirations but I seem to recall my Aunt Donna Johnson also sent educational presents.
The Readers Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary.  I received one of these as a Christmas present in the 1960s.

It was either my mother or my Aunt Donna Johnson that was encouraging my interest in foreign languages when she got me a subscription to Quinto Lingo for Christmas.

Grandpa Dick and Grandma Macy usually hosted a dinner on Christmas Day at their house at 4434 61st Street in Sacramento.  Their Christmas tree was made of aluminum and it was displayed with a color wheel lamp that would rotate to the different hues.  The house was filled with aunts and uncles and cousins at holidays.  My cousins and I would play cards in the winter and play hide and seek or tag in the yard in warmer weather.

Christmas Day 1977- Grandma Macy is on the left and Grandpa Dick on the right. Vince Cimino is the guy on the couch with the long hair and Saturday Night Fever shirt collar.  The baby is my nephew, Gino Valenzuela.  Others in the picture include my brother, Faran and my sisters Vicky and Shannon.  I am the guy with the yellow shirt in the center.  The shiny aluminum Christmas tree has been replaced with a green artificial tree.

The disturbing part of all of these memories is that I cannot seem to find any photographs of the Cimino Christmas Eve celebrations.  I know there must be dozens out there in the collections of the extended family.  Perhaps this will prompt my family to send me a few.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Rich and Not So Famous Kin- The Fairbanks Family of Petaluma, California

The Fairbanks House of Petaluma, California was on the market in 2013 for $2,345,000.  This house was on the market in March 1997 for $995,000.  My wife and I toured the house when it was for sale in 1997 and fantasized about buying the house for a B&B.  A pair of San Francisco architects designed this 8,500 square foot house for Hiram T. Fairbanks in 1890.  Hiram Talbert Fairbanks 1827-1915 is my 3rd great grand uncle.  Our common ancestors are Sheldon Fairbanks and Mercy Ann Sage.
One of my favorite surnames in my own family history is Fairbanks.  This is the surname that first got me interested in researching my family history.  My grandmother, Elaine Coffman Kelly, had told me stories about being related to the Fairbanks House of Dedham, Massachussetts.  I visited the Fairbanks House in 1984 five years before I began my genealogical quest.

The Fairbanks House of Dedham, Massachussetts has been dated by dendrochronology to the late 1630s or early 1640s.  This is the oldest timber framed house in America.  SOURCE:
My wife and I drove a rental car from Boston to Dedham and pulled up in front of the house which is a house museum maintained by the Fairbanks Family in America, Inc. since 1904.  From the curb we could see that there was a sign in front of the house that said "CLOSED FOR SPECIAL EVENT".  Having traveled from coast to coast we could not believe our misfortune to arrive at the house on a day that it was closed to visitors.  I have never had any hesitation about knocking on doors.  I trotted up to the entry to find out what was happening.  The gentleman who answered the door told me that the museum was closed for a FAMILY REUNION!  Suddenly my face brightened and I exclaimed that "I was a member of the family" and we had come all the way from the west coast to see the museum.  The gracious gentleman ushered us inside and gave us the full tour!

As the family reunion festivities began to draw to a close, one of my new-found cousins asked me how we were related to the Fairbanks family.  I had no idea, but this became one of the first research projects for me when I commenced this genealogical quest, five years later.

I knew that the Fairbanks house was built by and for the original Fairbanks immigrants, Jonathan Fairbanke and his wife, Grace Smith but I did not how my grandmother was connected.  I learned that Gram Elaine's grandmother was Harriett Anne Ketcham [1853-1938] and that she married Archibald Coffman.  Her death certificate gave the names of her parents, James Ketcham and Lucinda Fairbanks.  So there was my connection.  Her full name was Mary Lucinda Fairbanks.  She was the daughter of Sheldon Fairbanks and Mercy Ann Sage.  She had a brother, named Hiram Talbert Fairbanks.  She became my connection to two Fairbanks family homes on both the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts.

The Fairbanks house in Dedham was continuously occupied by Fairbanks family members from the 1640s to 1904. Rebecca Fairbanks [1827-1908] was the last family member to live in the house, moving out in 1904. On Rebecca’s departure, the Fairbanks Family in America, Inc. (a genealogical membership organization made up of descendants of the original Jonathan and Grace) opened the house as a museum. The Fairbanks Family association has now owned and maintained the Fairbanks House for over 100 years. For more information on this house visit the website:

Wouldn't it be great if the Fairbanks Family in America, Inc. could preserve two houses!  As with most non-profit groups, they are probably struggling to maintain the house that they have.  If you know anyone with a couple extra million jingling in the pocket, let me know.  Maybe the next time it is on the market we can pool our resources!  If you are interested in the Petaluma house you can take a full tour of the Fairbanks house at the website that was built by the realtor: Realtor site

This portrait of Hiram T. Fairbanks with his signature was published on page 488 of the Genealogy of the Fairbanks Family in America 1633-1897. by Lorenzo Sayles Fairbanks, A.M.  The book was originally printed for the author and was distributed by subscription.  Hiram T. Fairbanks was acknowledged by the author as a sponsor of the genealogy.  Digital copies of the book are available at and which is where this image was obtained. My 2nd great grandmother, Harriet Anne Ketcham [1853-1938] was listed on page 262 of the Fairbanks Genealogy.

If you are really intrigued about how Hiram became the rich uncle, you can read all of the notes that I have compiled on him over the years:
Sonoma County Biography
Hiram T. Fairbanks
As one of the oldest settlers and successful business men of Petaluma Hiram T. Fairbanks is deserving of mention in a history of Sonoma county. A native of Indiana, he was born in Manchester, Dearborn county, December 29, 1827, on the paternal farm, and he was educated in the country schools of that time and place. When he was about nineteen years of age, in 1846, he ventured out in the world on his own responsibility, at that time going to Augusta, Des Moines county, Iowa, and making his home with the Hon. Levi Moffet. The following year he enlisted in the United States army for service in the Mexican war. The year 1849 found him in Indiana once more, but his stay there was brief, for the same year found him starting on the overland trip for the Pacific coast. Mining had been the attracting magnet in bringing him hither, and with his brothers he mined at what was then known as Mormon Island, on the south fork of the American river, about twenty-five miles from Sacramento. The venture proved successful, and with the proceeds of his labor he returned to Indiana by way of Panama in 1851 and the same year went to Iowa, where he followed merchandising.
 It was while he was in that state that Mr. Fairbanks was married to Miss Lucinda, the daughter of Hon. Levi Moffet, the ceremony being performed July 14, 1852. In addition to his mercantile interests he was also engaged in milling, continuing both enterprises until 1859, when he made a second trip to California, bringing with him across the plains his wife and four children. The fall of that year marked their arrival in Petaluma, where Mr. Fairbanks followed farming in connection with the lumber trade until the fall of 1861, discontinuing farming at that time, as he decided he was not fitted by nature for the work. In the following year, 1862, he established himself in the mercantile business in Petaluma, a business which grew steadily with the passing of years, and in connection with which he also maintained a commission house in San Francisco. He continued in the merchandise business in Petaluma until 1869, when with his family he went east on a visit. His return to California in the fall of that year found him in Petaluma once more. During the year 1870 he gave up his commission business in San Francisco and in the winter of 1870-71 he again embarked in the mercantile trade, this time in company with the Hon. A. P. Whitney. Not only is Mr. Fairbanks regarded as one of Petaluma’s prominent and successful business men of former years, but he was equally well known and influential in financial circles. He was one of the founders of the Petaluma Savings Bank, which was organized in 1870, and was its manager and president until he retired from business. He was also president of the city board of trustees for several terms. In resigning from the presidency of the Golden Eagle Flour mills Mr. Fairbanks severed his connection with active business life, covering a long period of activity, and since then has been enjoying with his family the ease and comfort which his labors have made possible. Personally he is a man of fine character, and in the evening of life he can look over the past with the conviction that all that he has accomplished has been honestly accumulated, and added to this is the knowledge that he has the love and esteem of a large circle of friends and acquaintances.
 History of Sonoma County, California
 History by Tom Gregory : Historic Record Company, 1891
 Los Angeles, Ca. 1911
 Transcribed by Roberta Hester Leatherwood
 August 2008
 Pages 1078-1079

!BIRTH: Batch #: 8570908, Sheet #: 29, Source Call #: 1396078

Des Moines County, Iowa, 1856 Census Augusta Village Part 01
Page w Page p Dwell  Fam#  Name  Age Sex Col Mar Wid Years Where Born      Occupation       NVV NLV ALI MIL DND BLI INS IDI LandOwn Comments

12  26  63  1 LEVI MOFFET                      56 M       X          21 NY              FERY MAN         X
                     ANTNETT MOFFET                      F       X          17 M*
                     JOSEPH MOFFET                    32 M       X          21 PA              SAWYER
                     CAROLINE MOFFET                  22 F       X          17 MO
                     ROFFINNA MOFFET                  17 F                  17 MO
                     UPHIMA MOFFET                    12 F                  12 IA
                     ZORAH A. MOFFET                   3 F                   2 IA
                     ULILAH MOFFET                     1 F                   1 IA
12  26  64  1 H. T. FAIRBANKS         28 M       X      10 IN    MERCHANT         X           X             X
                           LUCIND FAIRBANKS                 22 F       X          21 PA
                           ISABELL FAIRBANKS                 3 F                   3 IA
                           DOLPHIS FAIRBANKS                 1 M                   1 IA
Page w = Written Page Number
Page p = Printed Page Number
Dwell  = Dwelling Number
Fam#   = Family Number
Name   = Full Name as listed
Age    = Age of Individual
Sex    = Gender
Color  = Race
Mar    = Married
Wid    = Widowed
Years  = Number of Years Lived in Iowa
Where Born = State or Country Born In
Occupation = Work or profession
NVV    = Native Voter
NLV    = Naturalized Voter
ALI    = Alien
MIL    = Militia
DND    = Deaf and Dumb
BLI    = Blind
INS    = Insane
IDI    = Idiotic
LandOwn    = Owns Land
Comments   = Comments by Transcriber

!FAMILY: For all children of Hiram Tolbert Fairbanks and Lucinda Moffett:L.S. Fairbanks Genealogy pp.488-489; Cypress Hill Cemetery grave stones and caretaker records examined by Jane Risser Aug.31, 1990.

!For more information contact the following: Petaluma Historical Library and Museum, Fourth and B Streets, noon to 4 Thursday through Monday or Petaluma History Room at the Petaluma Library, 100 Fairgrounds Drive.

!CENSUS: 1860 California, Sonoma Co., Petaluma Twp., 19 June 1860, Petaluma P.O., pg 558; Fam/Dwelling 141/141 Hiram Fairbank 31  Farmer $2500 RE $300 PE B-IN, Lucinda 27 IN, All children born Iowa: Isabella 7 , Adolphus 5, Augustus 3, Franklin 1; also enumerated with family are George Fairbank 37 Farmer IN & Jefferson Fairbank 13 IN.  George is probably Hiram's older brother.

!CENSUS: 1870 California, Sonoma Co., Petaluma Twp., pg. 335
Name        Age in 1870  Est. Birth Yr/Place  Gender
Hiram G Fairbanks   42      1827 Indiana      Male
Lucinda Fairbanks   35      1834 Ohio         Female
Bell Fairbanks         17      1852 Iowa         Female
Adolphus Fairbanks 15      1854 Iowa         Male
Augustus Fairbanks 13      1856 Iowa         Male  
Frank Fairbanks       11     1858 Iowa         Male
Nettie Fairbanks       9      1860 California   Female
Hattie Fairbanks       7      1862 California   Female  
Lizzie Fairbanks        5      1864 California   Female
William Fairbanks      2      1867 California   Male
Sheldon Fairbanks     3/12 1869 California   Male

Fairbanks, H. T. of Sonoma County, Calif. Republican. Delegate to Republican National Convention from California, 1880.

!CENSUS: 1880 California, Sonoma Co., Petaluma Twp. & City; VOL 16 ED 123 SH 30 LN 39
 Name  Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace(BP) Occupation Father's BP Mother's BP
 Hiram T. FAIRBANKS   Self   M   Male   W   51   IN   Banker   VT   VT
 Lucinda FAIRBANKS   Wife   M   Female   W   47   PA   Keeping House   NY   PA
 Dolphus B. FAIRBANKS   Son   S   Male   W   25   IA   Book Keeping   IN   PA
 Frank J. FAIRBANKS   Son   S   Male   W   21   IA   Miner   IN   PA
 Harriet L. FAIRBANKS   Dau   S   Female   W   16   CA   At School   IN   PA
 Ada L. FAIRBANKS   Dau   S   Female   W   14   CA   At School   IN   PA
 William H. FAIRBANKS   Son   S   Male   W   12   CA      IN   PA
 Zorah FAIRBANKS   Dau   S   Female   W   7   CA      IN   PA
 Dacia FAIRBANKS   Dau   S   Female   W   5   CA      IN   PA
 Matilda PETERSEN   Other   S   Female   W   22   PRU   Domestic   PRU   PRU
Source Information:
  Census Place Petaluma, Sonoma, California
  Family History Library Film   1254084
  NA Film Number   T9-0084
  Page Number   73B

!NEWSPAPER: 1882  Google News Archive Pay-Per-View - Los Angeles Times - ProQuest Archiver
Los Angeles Times (1881-1886) - Los Angeles, Calif.
Date: Jul 19, 1882
Start Page: 0_1
Pages: 1
Text Word Count: 930
 Abstract (Document Summary)
The Petaluma Fair will open August 28th.
H. T. Fairbanks and Henry Wilson of Petaluma are bringing from France to the Pacific coast ten Norman horses. There are now 100,000 head of cattle and ...

!CENSUS: 1900 California, Sonoma Co., Petaluma Twp., Petaluma City, ED 167 SH 7B LN 51, 658 D Street, Hiram T. Fairbanks B-Dec 1827 IN age 72, married 48 years, parents born NY, Bank President, owned free house.  Lucinda, wife, B-Mar 1833 PA, age 67 mother of 11 children 10 living, parents B-NY & PA.  Single Children: Dolphes B. son, Nov 1854 45 IA Bank Cashier;  Ada E. Daughter Oct 1865 34 CA; William H. son Oct 1867 32 CA miner; Zorah daughter Aug 1872 27 CA; Dacia D. daughter Jan 1875 25 CA.  Servant: Yee Kam male Sep 1868 31 China immigrated 1876 House servant.

!MARRIAGE: 50th Anniversary 1902
FIFTY YEARS OF WEDDED LIFE- Mr. and Mrs. H.T. Fairbanks Receive Friends-- Elaborate Reception in Honor of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Their Wedding on Wednesday Afternoon-- A Brilliant Social Function
     For fifty long years Mr. and Mrs. H.T. Fairbanks of this city have walked together hand in hand, up hill and down dale, along life's rugged highway.  For fifty long years they have fought each other's battles and shared each others joys and sorrows.  'Tis a long journey for man and woman to make together, arriving at the fiftieth mile stone 'mid happy surroundings and with good cause to rejoice in the belief that many another mile stone lies gleaming in the bright future.
     This important event in the marital career of Mr. and Mrs. Fairbanks was most fittingly celebrated at their home on D street Monday afternoon, July 14, 1902.  Hundreds of invitations had been sent to the hundreds of friends of the couple in response to the bidding they came far and near to pay their respects to their friends and each to add a word of congratulation.  All the afternoon the guests who had been bidden to the golden anniversary came and went, as brilliant a throng as ever attended any social event in Petaluma.
     For the auspicious occasion, the Fairbanks' home was profusely but tastefully decorated in the rarest of the season's bloom's and greenery.  Sprays of asparagus ferns, and smilax, with pretty marigold and other blooms peeping out from their green backgrounds, ornamented every nook and corner of the spacious hall and all the large reception rooms.  The scene was one of fairyland enchantment, heightened by the throng of prettily costumed ladies, who with their gentlemen escorts, filled the large reception rooms to overflowing.
     As the guests entered the residence they were received by Miss Elizabeth Fairbanks, and in turn presented to host and hostess proper by Mrs. Wellington Bell.  In the parlors the guests were received  and entertained by the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Fairbanks, Mrs. H. B. Higbee, Mrs. A. B. Hill, Mrs. Gus Fairbanks, Mrs. Eva Fairbanks, Miss Elizabeth Fairbanks, Miss Dacia Fairbanks.  Col. Fairbanks also assisted with the entertainment of the guests.
     Mr. and Mrs. Fairbanks received their guests with hearty hand-clasps and returned the compliments of the visitors with right good will.  The were both in happy mood and none present were more merry nor sprightly than they.
     A striking feature of the reception was the Japanese tea garden.  This was arranged on the lawn closely adjoining the residence on the east.  A canvas covered enclosure was bedecked in Japanese fashion, large Japanese fans, parasols, lanterns and other peculiar  Japanese knick-knacks being used with pretty effect.  In the tea garden were ten tables and around these the guests gathered in merry groups and partook of the bounteous hospitality of host and hostess.  Presiding over the tea garden were the following ladies: Mrs. Capt. Fox, Mrs. C.R. Winfield, Mrs. Will Beggs of San Francisco, Mrs. Rebe Nourse of Sacramento, Miss Clara McNear, Miss Gertrude Shelton, Miss Margaret Grant, Miss Ruby Fairbanks and Mrs. Capt. Maclay.  It was a pretty nook and many were the words of praise spoken by the guests as they entered and lingered therein.
     On a small porch on the east side of the residence a cosy corner was arranged for the gentlemen.  Here they gathered, old and young, to smoke fragrant Havanas and exchange comments and recollections brought to mind by the occasion.
     Mr. and Mrs. Fairbanks were the recipients of many handsome presents.  One of these the one perhaps as much prized as any, was a handsome cut-glass punch bowl with accompanying glasses and a beautiful ladle of gold.  It was a present from the directors of the Petaluma Savings Bank of which Mr. Fairbanks is and for more than thirty years has been, the president.  The handsome gift from his business associates was especially pleasing to Mr. and Mrs. Fairbanks.
     Another gift that excited the admiration of all was a very large and beautiful floral piece in the shape of an immense horse shoe sent by A.O. Hale of Hale Bros. & Co.  The exquisite floral offering was tied with very wide streamers of ribbon and upon one of these was printed in golden letters: "The Greatest Boon Must be the Fiftieth Honeymoon."
     Hiram Tolbert Fairbanks and Miss Lucinda Moffett, the latter the daughter of the Honorable and Mrs. Levi Moffett, were married at the home of the bride's parents at Augusta, Iowa, in 1852.  In 1859- Mr. Fairbanks brought his wife and family then consisting of four children across the plains to California.  They arrived in this city in the fall of '59 and have resided in Petaluma almost continuously since that time.  Mr. Fairbanks engaged in the lumber business and farming for two years.  He next engaged in the mercantile business here but sold out in 1869 and went east on a visit.  Returning to this city he entered into a co-partnership with the late A.P. Whitney in 1870-1.
     It was in 1870, also, that Mr. Fairbanks established the Petaluma Savings bank of which he became President and which  position he has held uninterruptedly.
     Mr. Fairbanks has been a long time in Petaluma and during his residence here his connection with the business world has been steadfastly honest and upright.  He has served three terms as a member of the city council and has always been prominent in public affairs.
     The Fairbanks home, so graciously presided over by Mrs. Fairbanks, has a state-wide reputation for its hospitality.  The doors of the Fairbanks home have ever been open to the merry young folk of the town and community and many have been the social functions that this genial couple have provided.  The Argus joins the hundreds of friends of the couple in the wish that Mr. and Mrs. Fairbanks may live to celebrate their diamond wedding a few years hence and that the path they shall tread in the remainder of their journey in life shall be strewn with the roses of happiness and that they may ever enjoy the perfect contentment they so richly deserve.
     The music for the reception was furnished by Newburgh and Smith's orchestra stationed in a secluded nook in one of the parlors.  The music was admirably rendered and tuned for the occasion.
     Among the guests from abroad not before mentioned were Judge and Mrs. Albert G. Burnett, Judge and Mrs. S. K. Dougherty, M. Doyle and others from Santa Rosa; A. Shroyer of Fruitvale and Wm. Topke of San Francisco.

!CENSUS: 1910 California, Sonoma Co., Petaluma Twp., Petaluma City, ED 150 SH 3A LN 13 ENUM 4 MAY 1910  Address is now listed as 758 D Street.  Hiram is now a widower, parents are listed as NH and NY.  Also enumerated in the household are daughter Julia Higbee and Elizabeth Hill and their families which are described fully in their notes.  In addition daughter Dacia is still living at home.  Occupations for the father and the two sons in-law are listed as "own income".

!RESIDENCE: 1915 758 D St., Petaluma, CA; Historic Resource Inventory Sheet at the Petaluma Museum; References: Argus Courier, Development Edition, 1915. This is certainly one of Petaluma's most distinctive residences.  It is very large mansion-like with carriage house and extensive gardens.  In the 1915 edition of the Argus Courier Development Edition, this house is pictured belonging to H.T. Fairbanks.  Mr. Fairbanks was a prominent citizen and investor in Petaluma in the 1880's and on up (sic) the early part of this century and was President of the City Board of Trustees for three terms.  He was one of the few early residents of Petaluma that had success in the mine fields.  This house reflects the success of H.T. Fairbanks in its generous proportions and extensive grounds.
Also listed in Petaluma's Architectural Heritage by Dan Peterson, 1978, p. 69 includes photos and architectural description.

!BIRTH-MAR: "Genealogy of the Fairbanks Family in America, 1633-1897", by Lorenzo S. Fairbanks, A.M.; Boston; American Printing and Engraving Co.; 1897; CS 71 F164 1897; p. 488-9.
     Born Dec. 29, 1827, in Manchester, Indiana.  When 19 years old he emigrated to Iowa, settling in Augusta, Des Moines county, where he made his home with the Hon. Levi Moffett. In 1849 he returned to Indiana and the following year he crossed the plains to California where he engaged in mining with his brother, Augustus D. Fairbank[sic], at Mormon Island, on the south fork of the American river.  Success attended him in his mining operations, and he returned to Indiana in 1851, going from there to Iowa, where he followed merchandising.
In addition to his mercantile pursuits, he engaged in milling, which he followed with success until 1859, when he again crossed the plains to the Golden State taking with him his wife and four children, and arriving at Petaluma in the fall.  He engaged in farming, in connection with the lumber trade, until 1861, when he abandoned agriculture, and established himself as one of Petaluma's merchants in 1862, and also opened a commission house in San Francisco.  Seven years later he disposed of his business in Petaluma.  In 1870 he retired from the commission business in San Francisco, and embarked in the mercantile trade, with the Hon. A.P. Whitney, in Petaluma.  He was one of the founders of the Petaluma Savings bank, which was organized in 1870, and has been its manager and president ever since.  Besides his interest in the bank, of which his eldest son, Col. D.B. Fairbanks, is cashier, he and his sons own the extensive plant known as the Golden Eagle flour mill, in Petaluma, conducted by J.F. and W.H. Fairbanks, and a fine large ranch in Humboldt county, managed by Augustus Fairbanks.  He owns an elegant house on D street, which is in striking contrast with the old Fairbanks home in which he first lived.  The name of Fairbanks is indissolubly connected with the growth and prosperity of Petaluma.  Hiram T. and his sons stand in the front rank of its leading citizens, and are widely known for their financial ability, unblemished records and rigid integrity.
     He married July 14, 1852, Lucinda, daughter of Hon. Levi and Elizabeth (Keek) Moffett, of Augusta, Iowa, who was born in Orangeville, Iowa, March 2, 1833.

!DEATH-BURIAL:Cypress Hill Cemetery records, 430 Magnolia St., Petaluma CA. Jane Risser visited Cypress Hill Cemetery, Petaluma 31 AUG 1990.  She photographed Fairbanks family plot and spoke to secretary at cemetery.   Wife Lucinda Moffett and 7 of 11 children buried here.

!OBITUARY: The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, CA Wednesday, June 30, 1915, Front Page.  DEATH HAS COME TO H. FAIRBANKS-- Pioneer Merchant and Banker Died Last Night at His Beautiful Home in Petaluma
   Another of the widely known citizens of Sonoma county, whose name for years was prominently identified with its financial and business circles, has crossed the great Divide.  At 11 o'clock last night at his beautiful home in Petaluma Hiram T. Fairbanks died.
   About 11 o'clock yesterday morning  Mr. Fairbanks suffered an attack of apoplexy from the effects of which he did not rally, death ensuing at the hour named.  The deceased had many old-time friends among the pioneer citizens of Santa Rosa and Sonoma and Marin counties.
   Mr. Fairbanks was born in Indiana, December 29, 1827.  When nineteen years of age he went to Des Moines county, Iowa, and year later joined the United States troops and fought in the Mexican war.  With the vast stores of wealth in Califonia mines as a magnet he was drawn to the Pacific coast in 1849. Accompanied by his brother, he struck a rich vein of ore on the south fork of the American river, twenty-five miles from Sacramento.  With wealth acquired in mining pursuits he returned to Indiana in 1851 and shortly afterward moved to Iowa, where he established himself in business.
   Accompanied by his wife and four children, he again crossed the plains to California in 1859, and first took up ranching near Petaluma in 1860.  Two years later he abandoned ranch life and established a mercantile trade in Petaluma with a commercial house in San Francisco.  He also abandoned this work for several years and did not engage in trade again until 1871.  The year previous he helped found the Savings Bank of Petaluma, of which institution he was president for several years.  Then he served several terms on the board of trustees as president, and was president of the Golden Eagle Milling Company. The closing years of his life were spent in retirement from active business interests.

!OBITUARY: Wednesday, June 30, 1915 Petaluma Argus.  Copy in possession of Nick Cimino.
This obituary goes into greater detail than the above.  Here is an excerpt of some of the relevant passages:
"When he was about 19 years of age, in 1846, he ventured out in the world on his own responsibility, at that time going to Augusta, Des Moines county, Iowa, and making his home with the Hon. Levi Moffatt. (sic)
     The following year he enlisted in the United States Army for service in the Mexican War.  The year 1849 found him starting on an overland trip for the Pacific coast, from Indiana, where he found himself at the close of his enlistment, his stay being brief for the mining excitement appealed to him strongly, and he could not resist to make a try in the then unknown west.  He arrived safely and with his brothers, he mined at what was then known as Mormon Island, on the south fork of the American river, about 25 miles from Sacramento.
     The venture proved eminently successful and with the proceeds of his labor, he returned to Indiana in 1851, and the same year went to Iowa, where he followed merchandising....
     (The Fairbanks) 50th anniversary was celebrated on an elaborate scale at the beautiful home here July 14, 1902 and the event is still remembered by the many friends of the beloved pioneer and family...
    [this is followed by a detailed account of his many and varied business interests including farming, milling, lumber, mercantile, a commission house in SF, the Petaluma Savings Bank, Golden Eagle Milling Co. taken over from the Percivals, four terms on the Petaluma City Council, three of these terms as president of the board, which was equivalent to mayor.  Active with Masons including Commandery of Knights templar; one of heavy stockholders of the Petaluma Power & Water Co. and vice president up to the the time of his death.]...
   He was a true friend and one of the oldest subscribers of the Argus, and the paper always followed him on his annual pilgrimages east....  [These articles would be very interesting to pursue because they would mention his visits to family and friends. Note by Nick Cimino]

!RESIDENCE: 758 D Street Offered at $995,000 by Terrie Lonacker at Frank Howard Allen Realtors, 905 E. Washington St. Petaluma, 707-762-7766 in March of 1997; the advertisement reads in part as follows:
     Quality and graciousness describe one of Petaluma's celebrated classic Victorian estates located on more than an acre of prestigious D Street.  This Queen Anne was built in the 1890s by Hiram T. Fairbanks...
     Designated a Heritage Home Society award winning restoration, this lovingly maintained three story estate of grand proportions boasts a wide variety of architectural textures and window styles.  It features a five sided corner tower, a wrap around veranda, an in-ground pool, two patios, and a pergola.  The lush gardens are outlined by a stone wall that includes an inscribed carriage step on D Street to assist present day lady guests arriving in modern horseless carriages.
     The grand entry hall of this stately residence invites you to an interior of high ceilings and spacious rooms that are beautifully detailed with marble, oak, hardwoods and magnificent mill-work.  Stained glass windows and three working fireplaces enhance over 8500 square feet of living area consisting of 8 bedrooms, 5 1/2 baths, a remodeled gourmet kitchen and a basement with a 3 room office suite, workshop and wine cellar.
     This home is both of historic and architectural distinction.  It was designed by the famous San Franciscan architectural firm of Cullett & Cuthbertson...
     One of the finest homes in the region, this estate has been featured in numerous television commercials, has hosted Petaluma's annual "Music in the Mansion" series since 1989, and has been a frequently used site for special occasions including community fundraising, weddings, and elegant entertaining.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Behind the Scenes at Genealogy Roadshow

It has been a week since Genealogy Roadshow completed the filming of the Houston episode on Sunday, November 22. The air date is yet to be determined, but it will be sometime in May or June of 2016.  I had the good fortune to be behind the scenes as the Genealogy Roadshow was being taped last week.  It gave me the opportunity to meet and interview one of the people that will be featured in this episode.

Sarah Lasater is seen here in the upper left and the lower right.
Her Texas family history was revealed by professional genealogist, Mary Tedesco featured here.
Sarah Lasater became interested in the Genealogy Roadshow after she saw a Facebook posting by a friend from college.  Her friend had submitted a query about her African American family history and Sarah became intrigued by the possibility of submitting her own story.  She had been interested in her family roots for several years.  She built a family tree at and compiled files from her home and family followed by more research.

Sarah's friend put the idea in her mind to submit some of her own family stories.  She went to the Genealogy Roadshow website and  submitted five questions that she had on various ancestors on her family tree in February 2015.  She did not hear anything for a couple months until she was contacted by a researcher from the show who wanted to pursue preliminary research.

Two months ago she was contacted again by the researcher and notified that they wanted her to appear on the show.  Her grandfather told her that there might be a connection to to an illustrious Texas veteran on one of the branches of the family tree.  Her grandfather knew that the family had resided in the vicinity of Eastland County, Texas where he was born.  Her great grandfather had died young so her grandfather was unable to learn much about his father’s family history.  Sarah’s grandfather passed away in 2011. She wanted to verify her ancestral connections.   We will have to wait until the 2016 season of the Genealogy Roadshow to find the answer to Sarah's question.

To complicate matters Sarah got sick and was in the hospital until 3:30 PM Saturday.  The production crew had hoped to do additional filming with Sarah on Saturday.   She had nothing but compliments for the staff of the Genealogy Roadshow and was amazed that they would send a car to Victoria, Texas to pick her up on Saturday night and provide her with a hotel in Houston that night.  She has the highest regard for the whole production team.  The experience was great from the moment she found out that the Roadshow was interested in her story.  All of the Roadshow staff were very kind, generous and approachable.

Visitors swarm the exhibit hall at the Genealogy Roadshow.
This episode was filmed at the historic Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library.

Sarah also found all of the booths in the Exhibit Hall to be very informative.  She is intrigued by the possibility that she might be eligible to join one or more of the lineage societies.  She had fantastic conversations and she is hoping to explore more about her ancestral connections.  She was so excited to be one of few chosen from thousands of applicants.  All in all, she had a great time!  And so did I! I can't wait to see the finished episode when the new season of Genealogy Roadshow debuts in May 2016.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Do You Want to Be a Genealogy TV Star?

The two worlds of reality TV and genealogy collided in Houston yesterday at the filming of the PBS Genealogy Roadshow.  I was there yesterday in the Exhibit Hall in the Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library representing,  the Bay Area Genealogical Society and the Association of Professional Genealogists.

Nick Cimino representing and APG in the Exhibit Hall for the Genealogy Roadshow.  Helen Mooty and her husband, John Dickey were being filmed for her upcoming appearance on the show.
The Bay Area Genealogical Society (BAGS) was well represented at the Genealogy Roadshow with a cadre of members volunteering throughout the Exhibit Hall.  First and foremost was BAGS member, Helen Mooty who will be featured in the Houston episode of the PBS Genealogy Roadshow.
Helen Mooty will learn about her family history in the 2016 season of Genealogy Roadshow.
Genealogist Mary Tedesco is seen here with Helen revealing the results of the family research.

Helen Mooty described the entire Genealogy Roadshow experience as thoroughly enjoyable.  The Roadshow staff was very professional, on-time, and friendly.  The production team spent a half day scouting locations for the episode and another entire day filming Helen before the event on November 22.   They filmed Helen portraying Jane Long, “Mother of Texas.” Helen and John took four members of the production team on a Galveston Bay sailboat trip  to give the television viewers the authentic Gulf Coast experience.

Helen Mooty portraying Jane Long, "Mother of Texas"
SOURCE: Houston Chronicle,
BAGS had an information table in the exhibit hall.  Thanks to all of the BAGS members who worked the table from setup at 8 AM until closing at 6 PM.  In addition to our own table, BAGS members worked at tables provided by Clayton Library Friends, Daughters of the American Revolution and several other genealogy and lineage societies.

Mary Tedesco visited the table yesterday at the Genealogy Roadshow.  Mary is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.  Debbie Parker Wayne and Nick Cimino, fellow APG members, listen attentively as Mary explains some of the inner workings of the Genealogy Roadshow.
The Lonestar Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists had several members on hand to pass out information on hiring and becoming a professional genealogist.  When you work with a professional genealogist, we recommend that you write down what you know about your research challenge.  The more accurate and concise the information provided, the more help a professional genealogist will be able to provide. A written statement describing what you know about your ancestor will maximize the research productivity:

  • Name of focus person:
  • Lifespan (approximate if unknown):
  • Describe each problem to be analyzed  (1-2 sentences)
  • List the resources you have already consulted (for example, 1850 census Washington Co., TX, Civil War pension file, land & probate records, etc.) AND what you found in each.
  • Provide a timeline of the key events in the life of the person of interest to this research question 
Visitors swarm the Exhibit Hall in the Julia Ideson Building
of the Houston Public Library at the Houston Genealogy Roadshow.

Your next opportunity to become a star of the Genealogy Roadshow is in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Old Airport Terminal – Saturday December 12th (9am – 6 pm).  The show is also planning to film another Roadshow event in January 2016 in Los Angeles.  Go here and fill out the casting application. Good Luck!

#Genealogy #Texas #GenealogyPBS @originsitaly #houstonlibrary

Monday, November 16, 2015

Famous Kin: John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

I am a poor cousin to the Rockefeller family!  I never knew about this connection as a child.  My mom had stories about being related to famous people but I never heard my dad tell any of those kinds of stories.  It wasn't until I started working on our family history in 1989 that I was able to find out that we are related to one of the richest families in America.

The Rockefeller name is well known to most Americans.  John D. Rockefeller, Sr. made his fortune in the oil business with Standard Oil Company.  John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was instrumental in the construction of Rockefeller Center in New York.  The complex is a dining and shopping mecca in Midtown Manhattan. The Art Deco skyscraper in the center of Rockefeller Center known to most people as "30 Rock" houses the studios of NBC television and the plaza plays host to broadcasts of the Today Show every weekday morning.  The Rockefeller Family includes oil tycoons, governors, industrialists, philanthropists and a vice president.

One of the Rockefeller accomplishments that has been closest to my heart is Colonial Williamsburg. This city is a living history museum that provides a snap shot into the lives of our colonial ancestors. Every genealogist and history buff should put Williamsburg on their bucket list.  This historic treasure was preserved thanks to my fourth cousin, three generations removed, John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

I found out that I have a lot in common with my Rockefeller cousin.  For example, he had a Social Security number and so do I!

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. applied for a Social Security Number.

I even have one up on Mr. Rockefeller.  He had to sign up for the draft.  The draft ended the year I became eligible.

John D. Rockefeller Jr. signed up for the draft during World War I.

It is definitely good for a laugh to say that I am related to the Rockefellers.  At the Texas State Genealogical Society meeting, we heard fellow professional genealogist, Cari Taplin tell her family story of being related to Roy Rogers.  I won't spoil the surprise ending to her story but I will tip my hat to her for inspiring this blogpost.  Happy trails!  Until we meet again!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Is My Brickwall About to Tumble Down?

The latest discovery in my own family history is an obituary which ties my great grandmother, Mae Blanche Moss to a man named John Lauenstein in 1906.  The obituary states that "May" Moss is the step-daughter of Mr. Lauenstein.  My maternal great grandmother, Mae Moss, was the first wife of my maternal great grandfather, Ernest Coffman, and the mother of Elaine and Vivian Coffman.  Later she married Ernest "Doc" Forbes, a pharmacist for Owl Drug.

Mae Moss is my genealogical mystery woman.  She was placed in the Sacramento Protestant Orphan Asylum by her mother in 1892.  This institution was known to us in Sacramento as the Sacramento Children's Home.

!BIRTH: 1882 Sacramento Children's Home Register; copied by Jill Mayne, Oct 1989 May Moss born Feb 19 1882, American; came to California June 1890, Sacramento; Admitted: 6 Dec 1892 by Mrs. J. Moss; Discharged: 4 Aug 1897 to Mrs. Moss, Father: Nashville, Tenn.; Mother: Richmond, VA; Married: Galveston, Tex.; Parents Death: Waco, Texas; Parents Habits: Intemperate.  Mrs. Moss took May without permission from the Board.

I have never been able to find any records which substantiate any of the vital information provided by Mae's mother to the orphanage.  Between the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the 1900 Galveston storm, there has been considerable record loss which has affected my search.

Mae stated on her 1936 application for a Social Security account number:  Mae B. Moss Coffman; 885 Aileen Street, Oakland Calif.; Employer: Owl Drug Co. at 14 & Washington Sts., Oakland, Cal.;  age at last birthday: 51; DOB: 19 Feb 1885; POB: Brooklyn, New York; Father: John Moss; Mother: Annie Lanstein; signed Nov. 30, 1936 by Mae B. Coffman.

Lanstein vs. Lauenstein.  This raises the possibility that Lanstein was not the maiden name of Mae's mother, rather it was a married name.  Curiously, however, no wife is mentioned in Mr. Lauenstein's obituary:

The San Francisco Call, Saturday, January 13, 1906, page 13.
LAUENSTEIN---In this city, January 12, 1906, at his residence, 8 Miles court, John Lauenstein, stepfather of May Moss, a native of Hamburg, Germany, aged 46 years, 9 months and 4 days.
  Friends and acquaintances are respectfully invited to attend the funeral services Sunday, January 14, at 12 o'clock m., at his late residence, 8 Miles court, off California street near Powell. Interment Mount Olivet Cemetery.
  Funeral will take place under the auspices of San Francisco Aerie No. 5, F.O.E., Sunday, January 14, at 1 o'clock p.m., from Eagles Hall, 731 Market street. By order of 
  D. J. CREAMER, Acting President. 
 GUS POHLMAN, Secretary.
Publication Title: San Francisco Call; 13 January 1906, page 13; California Digital Newspaper Collection []

California Digital Newspaper Collection

The address "off California Street" does match with the stories that both Elaine and Vivian told me:

!BIOGRAPHY: 1906 Elaine Coffman Kelly, Interview by Nick Cimino 4 Nov 1989
     Mae and her mother lived in San Francisco on the street below the Fairmont Hotel.  Going up California Street it was the first street before you hit the top.  The rooming house was down there in the middle of the block.  Mae worked on California and Montgomery at a fancy fruit and vegetable market for Mr. Gedding and she apparently knew the family.  She was a cashier.  When the fire broke out after the earthquake in 1906 some of the people went to the Golden Gate Park.  Elaine remembers her mom telling about her father pulling this trunk down California Street one block below the Fairmont all the way down to the ferry boat which went over to Oakland.  They assume that Ernest took Mae and her mother to Aunt Viola Coffman Hughes house at 742 46th Street.

!BIOGRAPHY: 1906 Vivian McGrath, Interview by N. Cimino 10 Nov 1989;  Vivian told me many times that her mother and grandmother were in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake.  Mae Moss was working as a cashier or a bookkeeper for Mr. Gedding who had a wholesale produce company at the foot of California Street.  Mae and her mother were living in a flat on a little narrow street right behind the Fairmont Hotel. They put their possessions in a big trunk, got the trunk down the stairs of the place and pushed it out to California Street but they could not get the trunk up the hill because it was too steep.  Mae smiled at two strong men coming up the hill and they pulled the trunk up the hill for her.  She and her mother then pushed it down the hill.  They got out to Golden Gate Park somehow. Everyone was camping in the park.  Ernest Coffman found them in the park and brought Mae and her mother back to Oakland to the house of Viola Coffman Hughes at 742 46th St.
To corroborate the above stories, I checked the 1920 Census for names that sound like "Gedding".  I found a Mr. Charles L. Goetting, age 52, born in Germany, immigrated 1868 and naturalized 1878.   He was a lodger at 568 California Street and his occupation was produce salesman.   He is also listed with his family at 675 Second Avenue. The story about Mr. Goetting checks out pretty well.  I have found advertisements for his produce business. 

Now I have John Lauenstein as the stepfather of Great Grandma Mae and residing near California Street. His gravestone in Mt. Olivet in Colma says that his wife was Virginia.  That threw me a curve ball.  I cannot find him or a wife named Virginia in the 1900 census of San Francisco.  What happened to Mae's mother, Annie?  Is Virginia the same as Annie?  Why doesn't the obituary mention Virginia?

FindaGrave Memorial #135257484

Grandma Mae has been one step forward and two steps back at every turn in the research journey.  But at least I have a few more names to trace down and hopefully, it will lead to actual records of Mae and her parents.


Here is the complete chronology for John Lauenstein, 1859-1906:

1859- BIRTH • Hamburg, Germany
Per obituary; died January 12, 1906, aged 46 years, 9 months and 4 days. This yields a birthdate of 8 Apr 1859.

1890- NATURALIZATION • San Francisco, California, USA
Naturalized: SF Sup.[Superior Court?], July 31, 1890 per 1890 & 1896 Voter 
Registers  see below.

1890- VOTER REGISTER • San Francisco, California, USA
Name: Lauenstein John; age 30; Nativity: Germany; Occupation: Carpenter; Local Residence: 621 California, Floor 2, Room B; Naturalized: SF Sup. [Superior Court?], July 31, 1890; Date of Registration: Oct., 7, 1890; Publication Title: Voter Register, 10th Precinct, 31st Assembly District, San Francisco County, 1890 []

1896- VOTER REGISTER • San Francisco, California, USA
Name: Lauenstein John; age 36; Height: 5', 5"; Complexion: Light; Color of Eyes: Hazel; Color of Hair: Brown; Occupation: Carpenter; Nativity: Germany; Local Residence: 428 Broadway, Floor 3, Room 9; Naturalized: SF Sup. [Superior Court?], July 31, 1890; Date of Registration: June 3, 1896; Publication Title: Voter Register, 7th Precinct, 45th Assembly District, San Francisco County, 1896 []

1899 RESIDENCE • San Francisco, California, USA
Lauenstein John, porter [resides with?] James W. Boyce; Publication Title: San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1899 []

1900 CENSUS  Presumably San Francisco but have not yet found the census record for John Lauenstein despite a variety of clever search techniques.  If I could find this record it might reveal the mysterious Mrs. Virginia Lauenstein.

1903 RESIDENCE • San Francisco, California, USA
Lauenstein John, bartender, r. 423 Sutter; Publication Title: San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1903 []

Before 1906 he was married to a woman named Virginia [maiden name unknown] per the gravestone. Unfortunately, there do not appear to be marriage records for San Francisco County available prior to the 1906 earthquake.  The Western States Marriage Index  at shows a divorce occurring in Boise, Idaho between a John Lowenstein and wife, Annie.  The index refers to a marriage occurring in San Francisco on 10 Jun 1890.  The date of the divorce is not given.  It seems odd that Annie or John would have gone all the way to Boise to get a divorce.  The original divorce record in Ada County, Idaho may reveal more but the transcript in the Western States Marriage Index has several blanks in the form.

1906- OBITUARY • San Francisco, California, USA
The San Francisco Call, Saturday, January 13, 1906, page 13.
See transcript above in italics.

!BURIAL: January 14, 1906 per obituary.
Name: John Lauenstein
Cemetery: Olivet Memorial Park
Burial or Cremation Place: Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA
Find A Grave Memorial# 135257484

!PROBATE: A reasonably exhaustive search has not revealed a probate record for John Lauenstein.