San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Upcoming Events and Classes

Who’s in Your Neighborhood?  
Meeting the Diverse Research Needs of Your Community

Speaker: Linda Harms Okazaki
Saturday, February 24, 2018
10:30 am - 12 noon
Coffee and Cookies starting at 10 am

This talk will focus on examining the different cultures within our community of San Mateo County reaching back through historical events, laws, immigration patterns, and primary source documents. Many examples from local ethnic groups including Japanese Americans, Chinese, Filipino, and Pacific Islanders will be presented.
 In order for genealogical societies to become more diverse, we need to examine and embrace the different cultures within our communities. Is your genealogical society inclusive? Does your membership reflect the diversity of your community? What immigrant populations have historically lived in your county? Who currently lives there? Does your genealogical society reach out to the surrounding community? What records are specific to certain ethnic groups?
Linda Harms Okazaki is a fourth generation San Franciscan and has been researching her husband’s ancestry for the past several years, documenting his family in the internment camps and in Japan. She is passionate about researching, documenting, teaching, and sharing the stores of Japanese Americans. Her other areas of research include California, upstate New York, England and Australia. Linda is a member of APG, the Genealogical Speakers Guild, and the DAR. She is a graduate of GenFed, ProGen and several genealogy institutes. She currently serves as the president of the California Genealogical Society.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and a Master of Arts degree in Education. You may find her blog at


Instructor: Craig Siulinski
10 Sessions - Saturdays starting Mar 3
College of San Mateo (CSM)
Registration Closes Mar 3

The benefits of a shared autobiography writing class are many.  Sharing one’s writing in a positive supportive social setting is an affirming experience for the writer.  Making connections with others, particularly for elders, contributes significantly to one’s overall health and well-being. 
Students in Life Story Writing will learn to organize and write their life stories two pages at a time. Participants will learn how to bring stories alive by describing events using all the senses. By reading the individual stories in class each week, the students learn to listen deeply, understand and appreciate others and their life stories. At the end of the sessions the participants will have nine written stories, which could be the made into a book for oneself or as a gift for family and friends. The students can go as far and wide with their writing as they choose.  

Instructor Craig Siulinski has more that 18 years of teaching experience.


 Using the Tools on the DNA websites to Examine Your DNA Matches
Speaker: Christine Bell Green PLCGS

Saturday, March 3, 2018
11 am - 12 noon

South San Francisco Library, 840 W Orange St, South San Francisco CA

This talk will focus on using tools available at Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, and My Heritage to analyze and compare your DNA results with those of your close matches. The strengths and weaknesses of the tools and the various websites will be discussed.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mortuary Files of Valente Marini Perata & Co.

The firm of Valente, Marini, Perata and Co. was established in San Francisco in 1888.  129 years later it has closed its doors and donated the records to the Colma Historical Association.

Most burials are for those living in San Francisco, however, there is a smattering of records for those in the northern parts and coast of San Mateo County as well as other places through out Northern California.  Information in the early records can be sparse, some of the earliest give only a date and the name of the person "purchasing" services.  They are included in the Index, as the family name might lead to more information.

Other records give a wealth of information.  The ledgers for the years around 1910 often include obituaries, many are from Italian, French and other foreign language papers.  The index includes name, death date (in some cases this might be a burial date, date plot was purchased, or date of removal from one cemetery to another), birthplace, age, city of residence (or death), cemetery when they are given.  Volume and page direct you to the original record.  A note column might give a hospital, or other interesting information.

Embalming Table
The index is no substitute for the original record.  Contact the Colma Historical Association for a copy of the original entry.  Even better, visit and look through the journal's yourself.  Not included in the index are the many notations of payments for the burials that were indexed.  Payments might be made for months or years after a burial.  In the early books, you will find notations of "drinks" being expenses when arrangements and/or payments were made.

Embalming machine

Spelling of names is inconsistent even within single entries.  Think creatively about how your names might be spelled, or how we might have misread them,  The early books also have purchases of supplies and more recorded in the same books.  Later, the book pages become forms and the amount of information increases.

If you visit, be sure to allow time to tour the museum.  Not only will you find information on all of the cemeteries in Colma, you will also find some really fascinating  items, such as embalming tables and machines in the collections.  There are also some wonderful early photographs.  And best of all a crew of people that are eager to help you.

Index to the Records of Valente, Marini, Perata and Co.  

 Carolyn Williams posted the following on Facebook recently.

"Are you looking for a great genealogy event to attend in the Bay Area, California or nationally? There are three main calendars for finding genealogy events:
Conference Keeper (Calif & national events), type ‘California’ into the Search bar
Eastman’s Online Newsletter Calendar (Calif & national events)
Sutro Library in San Francisco has taken over keeping up to date the old SF Genealogy calendar most recently kept by Kathryn Doyle. Thank you to Sutro Library, California State Library! "

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

San Mateo County Cemeteries: Hoy Sun

Prior to World War II, the Ning Yung Benevolent Association would remove bones from Ning Yung Cemetery in Daly City and return them to their native villages in the Taishan District of China. The association which is a member of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association  caters to individuals from the southern province of Quantung China.

With the formation of the People's Republic of China in 1949, this was no longer possible and the local Chinese cemeteries started to run out of room.  In 1960, 1970 and 1982, bones were removed from grave sites and placed in a common burial mound, allowing the ground to be reused. But ultimately more land was needed.

Hoy Sun Cemetery was established by the  association in 1988 to meet that need.  Located on
on approximately 10 acres of land on Hillside Blvd in Colma.

Only 75 burials have been recorded on Find A Grave

Pictures by Lauren Perritt & Cath Trindle

Hoy Sun Memorial Cemetery
2101 Hillside Blvd. Colma


SMCGS Library News......

Judy Darland, former Library Manager reported,

"In November we conducted a workshop called Hidden Gems. An integral part at the beginning of that workshop was a tour of the stacks given by Barry Hinman. At the end of the tour, I asked if the group was “dazed and amazed” by the content of our library. I was answered with a resounding YES!

"Barry reminded me that he and Mary Lou Grunigen are always available to give tours on their volunteer day at the library – the second Tuesday of each month between 1:00 and 4:00 PM. Please feel free to stop by for your own personal tour. Just remember to check that the CaƱada College Library is open, especially during the holidays."