Monday, April 30, 2007

CVGS Meeting today - Margaret Read talk was excellent

The April general meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society was Monday at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library. After a brief business meeting, including describing the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog sponsored by CVGS, the drawing prize (of one hour of research with myself) was won by Grace, who does African-American research.

Our guest speaker was Margaret Fairfield Read, who is a retired school teacher, a member of the North San Diego County Genealogical Society (NSDCGS), and teaches many classes for NSDCGS.

The title of Margaret's talk was "The Strengths of Western Women - Quilting Women's Lives." Her grandmother left a book of hand-colored quilt patterns that intrigued her, leading her to find information about her ancestors lives, especially her female ancestors. She found that her 8 great-grandparents all came to California, some as children from the Midwest, via wagon train or train, and two came on ships through Panama or around Cape Horn. What was amazing is that several were single or widowed women with small children. She marvels at the strengths of the women who rode all the way across the country in wagon trains - how did they cope, what was their attitude, why did they come, where did they go?

Margaret focused her talk on her female ancestors, and their families, that migrated to California. She showed the records that indicated their presence in certain locations, and timelines that helped her search for more records. In all of these cases, Margaret has pieced together the fabric of their lives in a great demonstration of finding and using late 19th century records. The most useful resources were the census records, and she showed how mixed up and inconsistent that they can be. Vital records, city directories, deeds, probate records and county tax assessor records (both from FHL microfilms) provided wonderful records that showed relationships, where the families lived, and how the property ownership changed over time.

I really enjoyed Margaret's talk because she found original records that proved relationships and family structures, and she used traditional resources combined with Internet resources.

We had a fun time at lunch (8 of us) at Marie Callender's with many discussions of research brick walls and genealogy society operations.

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