Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dear Randy - How Did My Father Get to San Diego From New York?

After my "Searching Ancestry.com Effectively" presentation on Saturday at the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego, I was asked by an attendee, Audrey, this question:

"How did my father get to San Diego from New York?"

She said that the family story was that her father came to San Diego with his mother and siblings in about 1929, and returned to New York several years later.  Her father told her that a picture of the family arriving in San Diego was in a newspaper article, and Audrey wondered if I could tell her how to find the article and the picture.  I asked some questions about names, and this week I did some searching in all the usual online databases.

After finding the family, and verifying the names I was given, in the 1920, 1930 and 1940 U.S. census records (all in New York), I looked on GenealogyBank.  GenealogyBank has the San Diego Union newspaper from 1868 to 2012, and is a tremendous resource for me in finding my San Diego families and their collateral lines.

So I searched on GenealogyBank for the surname, added "San Diego" to the Keyword field, and limited the search to 1925 to 1940 and had some success in the "Newspaper Archives, 1690-1977" collection.  There were 77 matches, and on the first list of 10 matches was the first article about the family.  There was also a short article in the 17 September 1930 edition about the family settling in La Mesa.  Here's a screenshot of the search result page:


The article is on the front page of the San Diego Union, dated 13 September 1930, with a picture of the whole family!  Won't that be a wonderful family treasure for Audrey and her family?

Here's a snippet of the entire article:


The story tells about why they came to San Diego, the date they arrived, and that they had come on the Panama Pacific liner, S.S. California.

I had never thought about how people came to San Diego before - I've always figured they came by covered wagon, horse and buggy, train, bus or automobile before air travel began.  So can I find out more about the Panama Pacific liner, the S.S. California?



This advertisement was on page 8 of the 28 September 1928 edition of the San Diego Union newspaper.

There is a later article, on 7 June 1931, about how the Panama Pacific Line had brought more than 40,000 visitors to San Diego on the ships Pennsylvania, Virginia and California.  The ships were on a fortnightly service from New York, Havana and the Canal Zone.  Manufactured products came from the east coast, and California ports sent refrigerated fruit and vegetable products to the east coast.

There are web pages on the Internet about the S.S. California and the Panama Pacific Line - see here and here.  Check out some of the advertising on the sites.  Here is a photo of a picture of the S.S. California (later renamed the S.S. Uruguay), courtesy of Wikipedia:


Some of the advertising material said that the passage from New York to San Diego took 13 days, and that passengers could choose to take the train back to New York.  The fare in 1935 was $185 each way in First Class, $120 each way in Tourist class.

I told Audrey about what I had found, and advised her to go to the San Diego Central Library when it reopens to get her own copy of the page from the bound paper copy or the microfilm at the library.  I also advised her to contact the San Diego Union-Tribune to see if they still have the photograph in their photograph collection.  It's a beautiful picture.  I hope they do!

GenealogyBank is a wonderful collection of local newspapers that can really help genealogists and family historians to find interesting, and often, unique, details about the lives of their ancestral families.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2013/08/dear-randy-how-did-my-father-get-to-san.html

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Barbara Luetjen said...

You forgot to leave a link for comments!

I love GenealogyBank.com.
I was able to find an obituary for my great-grandfather that was in the middle of a gossip/local information column in the newspaper of a neighboring state (just across the border.)