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

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

SMCGS Databases Online: Leases

So, you found your family in census records but you can't find a deed?  Maybe you haven't found them at all, although the family insists they were in San Mateo County before the turn of the century.
Perhaps they leased the property they farmed or the shop they ran rather, than owning the land or building. The newest addition to the SMCGS database collection is an Index to Leases from the beginning of the county through 1921.  The early leases were recorded in Miscellaneous books but by the 1870's dedicated lease books were used.  Occasionally leases were recorded in the Miscellaneous volumes after that date, and a few are found in the Deed books.  The lease books end with #9 as does the index we used as the basis for our index.  Most likely leases continued to be recorded in either Miscellaneous books or Official Records after that date.

Not every lease was recorded, and many were recorded sometime after they went into effect. Sometimes, there was a problem on one side with meeting the terms of the lease.  Other reasons might include: one of the parties assigning their rights to someone else, the surrender of the original lease, or the death of the lessor with the estate taking over.  Many properties were continuously leased by the administrators of estates and you will find copies of court permissions to lease said properties in the volumes indexed.  Be sure to check who asked for the lease to be recorded as that might give a clue as to the reason it was.

While many of the leases are short and give little information beyond the location of the property, and even that is sometimes missing, others are full of information.  The lease of a restaurant or hotel might include a full inventory of every item included in the lease, right down to salt and pepper shakers.  Farm leases might include buildings, equipment and livestock.  There might be already-sown fields that are not included or agreements that crops would belong to lessee even if the lease was terminated.

Some lucky researchers will find property maps and building plans. 

Some individuals can be followed from farm to farm, as they expand operations, change partners or move to a different area of the county.

There are a number of "mineral"  and "timber" leases, many of which were "assigned" (transferred to others) numerous times.  There are a few equipment leases. Besides a possible description of the equipment, terms often included restrictions on where the equipment could be used. 

Our index includes: Name of each party and their Role, the Date of the original lease and the Date it was recorded, Fee book number if given, Notes (description of property, location of additional records, etc.), record location (record set (book) Pages).  When a corporation or fraternal organization was one of the parties, the principals are included and identified by role, if the corporation or organization appeared to be based in San Mateo County.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Fence: Titus Webb vs County Roads

Mratha Wallace & Cath Trindle 

In Nov 1859 Titus Webb filed suit in the Circuit Court of the US. District of California, asking for $1000 in damages BG Lathrop, San Mateo County Clerk, and JV Diller, San Mateo County Road Commissioner as they had torn down his fence. He denied that there was a right of way across his land, and denied that he had made an agreement through his lawyer, Nightengale to give such right of way.

Diller and Lathrop had torn the fence down to make way for a road from Redwood City to Whipple's Mill which would be used to transport lumber and presto to the port.

Webb won the jury trial and was awarded $100 for his fence.  It does not say whether he had to give up the right of way.

21 1 318 Titus Webb Benjamin G Lathrop, John V Diller Jas Williams, John Nightingale, Gergeo D Williams, Milo Calkin, Owen McGarvey, Chas N Fox, Herman Baer, A F C Engert 8 Aug 1859 20 Aug 1859 San Mateo County Webb owned 160 acres near Cordillas Creek, part of Rancho de las Pulga and enclosed with a substantial fence. Lathrop and Diller broke down and carried away the fence; damages $1000. Whitcomb, Pringle & Felton for plaintiff; Jas McCabe for defendant 23 Nov 1859 Verdict by jury for plaintiff wit

A challenge to the reader.  Can you find a definition for Presto?  I assume that it is the sawdust and small pieces of wood left by the milling process, but I have been unable to find a definition or description.   Send any links or information to publications @ smcgs(dot) org.

It seems that Titus wasn't content with suing over his fence.  In another case that same year, a judgement against AFC Engert in the Twelfth Judicial District Court, County of San Mateo he forced a sale of Engert's property to satisfy a judgement.  (

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Barry's Bits / Winter Genealogical Class Schedule

culled from the San Francisco Examiner by Barry Goyette 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Advanced genealogy and writing
Instructors: Margaret Melaney/class
Ongoing September - June
Mondays 9:30 - 11:30
Writing group alternate weeks 11:30-12:30
Trinity Church Menlo Park  $75 annually


Family History – The Next Step (mainly intermediate level)
Thursday Mornings 8:45 am-11:15 am   1/11-3/29
Classes held at San Mateo Adult School/SMART Center, 789 East Poplar Avenue, San Mateo
Register in person, by mail or at the first class meeting.
Instructor: Inge Harding-Barlow 650-558-2100           Website
Description: Family History (Genealogy) is a journey into the lives of our ancestors – their joys, triumphs and problems. These 10 classes will review basic genealogy and websites. Then the class will discuss more advanced information available for the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Germany and other countries from which the ancestors of the 2017 Winter-Spring class members originate. The classes will consist of talks, discussions and individual work on class members’ family trees with “instant” help being available from the teacher and classmates on problems and some brick walls. Class members are also encouraged to set up 90-minute individual consults on their genealogical brick walls with the teacher at the specialized genealogical Family History Library in Menlo Park. These classes will also help participants understand what they can and cannot obtain via computers.

Palo Alto Adult School: - Winter Quarter Registration opens 1st December 2017

Jump Start Your Genealogy: Fundamentals
Instructor: Christine Bell Green, PLCGS
10 weeks • January 18 – March 22 2018
Thursday • 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Palo Alto HS Rm. 204 • $75*

Discovering your roots is exciting; it teaches you about yourself as well as your family. This class is designed to give family historians/genealogists a strong foundation. We learn to effectively use common genealogical record types and important family history websites. Helping each other by sharing our journeys is an important part of the class.  Field trip is included.

 Optional text: Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy: 3rd Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 2005

Genealogy: Intermediate
Instructor: Christine Bell Green PLCGS
10 weeks • January 17 – March 21 2018
Wednesday • 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Greendell Rm. P3 • $75*
Prerequisite: Beginning Genealogy or 1 year Genealogy research experience.

Do you have brick walls in your family history or ancestors you know little about? Learn to research using a broad cross-section of genealogical records and extract all the information from them, use the Internet effectively and become skilled at inferential genealogy. We maximize our efficiency by organizing our research better and sharing helpful tips. We write stories that will interest our families.  Field trip is included.

Optional text: Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy: 3rd Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 2005

Mountain  View/Los Altos Adult School – Winter and Spring Quarters Registration opens 17 November 2017

Genealogy Advanced Intermediate/Advanced
Instructor: Christine Bell Green PLCGS
8 weeks – January 8 – March 12 2018 (no class 1/15 or 2/19)
$90 ($70 seniors)
Monday – 12.30 – 3pm

Break through your brick walls and solve complex genealogical problems using a broad cross-section of genealogical records. Become skilled at inferential genealogy.

Genealogy Beginner/Intermediate
Instructor: Christine Bell Green PLCGS
9 weeks – January 9 – March 13 2018 (no class 2/20)
$99 ($79 seniors)
Tuesday – 12.30 – 3pm

Learn to use a wide variety of genealogical records to discover your roots. Sharing your journey with other passionate genealogists is a part of the class

Optional text for both genealogy classes:
Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, 3rd Edition, (Baltimore, 2005.)