Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Where Did You Go to School?

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge is one of those rare few when I have more information than Randy:

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I want you to:

(1)  Michael John Neill started an interesting Facebook meme:  When and where did you go to school?  

(2)  Tell us in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a status line on Facebook or a stream post on Google Plus.  Be sure to leave a link to your post in Comments on this post.

• September 1968 (I believe) to 1969 or possibly 1970:  I attended Rorimer Elementary School in La Puente, California.  I don't really remember anything about the school other than the name.

• 1969 or 1970–March 1971:  From La Puente my family moved to Pomona, California, so I'm sure I changed schools.  I have no idea what the name of the school was or what grade I was in.  I think we took a bus to school there.  I know I was in the 3rd grade when we left and moved to Australia, in March 1971.

• April to late November or early December 1971:  4th grade at Daceyville Public School in Daceyville, New South Wales, near Sydney.  I remember I learned to play the recorder while at Daceyville, and I think I did some stage plays. I learned to tie a Windsor knot, because a tie was part of the school uniform.  My mother might have driven me, my brother, and my sister to school.  This is also the school I was attending when my mother had to come in person to sign a document stating that it was ok for me to take a school period to study during the religion time slot.  My mother told me I refused to go to church classes.

• About February to late November or early December, 1972:  For the 1972 academic year, I was in 5th grade at Woollahra Demonstration School in Woollahra, also near Sydney. This was a school for advanced students, all taking advanced classes. I remember my embroidery/needlwork class, which I really enjoyed. I remember the school uniforms, particularly my sports uniform, which was very different from my everyday one; we had sports once a week.  I still have a stencil for drawing a map of Australia that I got from class.  My mother drove me to school and picked me up.

• March–June 1973:  My family returned to the United States in March 1973, and I went into the 6th grade from April to June 1973 at James E. Plew Elementary School, in lovely Niceville, Florida.  My teacher's name was Mr. Rich, and I ended up explaining one of the class textbooks to him.  He took it upon himself to register me for 7th grade, signing me up for all the advanced classes.  He did let me pick my own elective.  I took a schoolbus to and from school.

• September 1973–(probably) June 1976:  I actually attended junior high school, C. W. Ruckel Junior High School, and senior high school, Niceville Senior High School, both in Niceville, with no moving out of the area, and finishing all three years at each.  While I was in junior high school, I announced to my mother that it was ok if she wanted to move again, but I was going to finish a school for once in my life.  Lucky for me, my mother did not move.  If she had, I might have ended up living at my grandfather's house, or maybe my aunt's.  I think I took a bus to get to Ruckel, and most of the time I took the bus to go to high school.  If the (unpaved) streets in Villa Tasso had flooded or it was a below-zero morning (yes, we had those on the Panhandle), my mother would drive me to school.

• September 1979–about November 1988:  After graduating high school, I moved back to California to go to the University of Southern California.  My degree was a Bachelor of Arts with a French major, Russian and Spanish minors.  After graduation, I continued to take classes on a a part-time basis through 1988.  I lived near campus.  I usually rode my bicycle to and from campus.

• 1977 or 1978:  While I was going to USC part-time, I also took two semesters of tailoring classes at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College.  I don't remember exactly when, but it was probably in 1987 or 1988.

• September 1989 to about 1992:  I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and started taking American Sign Lauguage, music, computer, and creative writing classes at Vista College (now reincarnated as Berkeley City College) in Berkeley.  I used to drive to and from my ASL classes, and parking was always terrible, even at night, because Vista was in the middle of downtown Berkeley.  The creative writing classes I took were held on the UC Berkeley campus, also a horrible place to have to look for parking.  (Vista was in a small building without a lot of rooms or capacity).

• About 1992 to 1993:  I took orchestral performance and class voice at Laney Community College.  More horrible parking at a downtown location.

• About 1993 to 2000:  I discovered someone was teaching millinery at College of Alameda and took her class for seven years.

I think that covers everything.  All of that and only one degree!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Another Insurance Policy, Another Trip for Rosita?

This 9" x 6" piece of off-white paper is a carbon copy of another insurance policy for Rosita E. La Foret.  As with last week's policy, the cost was $1.00, noted as paid in the upper left corner.  The date on the form is October 18, 1929, and Rosita was 20 years old.  Her birthdate is noted as September 4, 1909, and she again responded "no" to the questions asking whether she was totally blind or deaf, or crippled to the extent she could not travel safely in public places.

The beneficiary was Rosita's mother, Emma M. La Foret.  They both resided at 615 Indiana Street, Vallejo, California.

This form indicates that Rosita was a present reader or subscriber of the San Francisco Examiner, whereas the previous year she had been a new subscriber.  The "solicitor" (salesman, I presume) who sold the policy was Alf Harrison.

The insurance policy paper, while similar to that from last week, is not as detailed.  It is only 11 7/8" x 18 3/4", about half the size of the previous two policies, so designed to be folded in half and then thirds.  It varies between off-white and yellowish and has some greasy-looking stains.  This is a "SPECIAL Automobile Travel and Pedestrian Accident Policy."  I wonder how "special" differs from "federalized."

Again, almost everything on this policy is preprinted, including the signatures on the back page.  The date; Rosita's name, age, and address; and Emma's name and relationship as beneficiary are typed.  This policy doesn't even have the added contact information that last week's example did.

The compensation amounts in this policy don't have as much detail or variety as those in the 1928 policy, and the payment amounts have generally decreased.  Now there are six categories of injuries, with the top payments being $10,000 and $4,000 (instead of 1928's $5,000 for the lower payment).  These were for an injury in a railroad or steamboat accident.  The lowest payments, $750 and $375 (down in amount from $1,000 and $500 in 1928), were for injuries during a pedestrian or miscellaneous accident.

This is another policy from the Federal Life Insurance Company of Chicago, so the Examiner had not changed its affiliation during the past year.

The policy came with the standard acknowedgment letter, on an 8 1/2" x 11" off-white piece of paper, about 20# bond in weight, no watermark.  It is word for word exactly the same as that from 1928; even the sentence lengths are the same.  It's the same letter.  The only difference is the year in the upper right of the page.  Even the signature of the circulation manager looks the same, but this one has no texture and appears to have been printed.  Since it looks exactly the same as the one from 1928, I now suspect the earlier one was probably printed; I don't know where the texture came from.

Because this is the same letter, the Examiner still doesn't trust its salesman.  There's also the same conflicting information about being able to hold a policy as a reader but the admonition to keep one's subscription paid up.

This policy was written on October 19, 1929.  Less than a week later, on October 24, came the Stock Market Crash of 1929, which marked the beginning of the Great Depression in the United States.  I wonder how much the policy was worth at that point?  At least the company survived.

Surprisingly, this is the last document I have for Emma.  The only items pertaining strictly to her were three insurance policies.  Now I have to decide who to look at next.  Yes, I still have lots of documents left!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Rosita La Forêt Is Insured Again

This is a 9" x 6" off-white piece of paper.  It is a carbon copy of an application for a $10,000 insurance policy for Rosita La Forêt.  The policy cost $1.00, indicated as paid.  Rosita was 18 years old and still living at 615 Indiana Street, Vallejo, California.  Her birth date was given as September 4, 1909, which matches that on the emergency passport application her mother filled out in 1917.  The application included questions asking whether Rosita was totally blind or deaf (no), or crippled to the extent that she could not travel safely in public places (no).

The application was dated July 7, 1928.  This time the only beneficiary named was Rosita's mother, Emma La Forêt.  Jean La Forêt had died shortly after the date of the insurance policy I posted last week.

Now that this has surfaced, one item that Emma saved makes a little more sense.  On July 17, 1928, Emma bought a subscription to the San Francisco Examiner.  When I posted about that, I wondered why she would have bothered to keep such an apparently inconsequential item.  Even though this insurance policy was available to readers of the Examiner, as was last week's policy through the Chronicle, the fact that the subscription and the policy are dated on the same day may mean that Emma had simply kept the paperwork together.

The insurance policy itself is similar to that in last week's post.  It is again 22" x 17", designed to be folded into quarters and then thirds.  The scan is close to the paper's true colors, an off-white with some color on it.  It is labeled as a "Federalized Readers Service Travel Accident Policy."

Almost everything on this policy is preprinted.  The exceptions are the stamped contact information on the front in red; and the date, Rosita's name, age, and address, and Emma's name as beneficiary on the "title" page.  On this policy the signatures on the the third page appear to have been printed with the policy, not stamped on it later.

As with last week's insurance policy, no specific reason or travel is indicated, so we don't know why Rosita was being insured.  The details about compensation are similar to those in the previous policy.  Payment amounts are higher than those from 1926 — $10,000 and $5,000, as opposed to $7,000 and $3,500 — at least for the first classification of injuries.  This policy has four different levels, however.  The distinctions are based on how the injuries were sustained.  The lowest payments went down to $1,000 and $500.  So if Rosita had been injured during the "wrecking or disablement of a railroad passenger car" while she was traveling on it as a "fare-paying passenger", she would have been eligible for the highest category.  On the other hand, an injury via lightning, cyclone, or tornado fell into the lowest category.

This policy was from the Federal Life Insurance Company of Chicago.  The company is still in business today, unlike good old Eureka Casualty Company from last week, although it is now in Riverwoods, Illinois.

The policy also came with a formulaic acknowledgment letter.  It is on an 8 1/2" x 11" off-white piece of paper, about 20# bond in weight, with no watermark.  It was printed.  The signature has some texture and is significantly darker than the typed letter; it might be real.  The letter was not glued into the policy but was loose.

This is another fairly standard letter, but the Examiner doesn't seem to have entirely trusted its salesmen.  Why else would it be necessary to include the disclaimer that it could not "assume responsibility of verbal promises made by them"?

There's a slight conflict in some of the information in the letter.  The first paragraph states that a regular reader was entitled to a policy, and the application form includes readers as a category, but the next-to-last paragraph has "Be sure and pay your subscription regularly and do not allow your paper to stop and this policy will cover you for one year . . . ."  Maybe that was just a marketing tactic to try to keep subscribers?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Not Everyone Watched the Super Bowl on Sunday

Some of us were focused on genealogy!  In fact, I was at the Sacramento Public Library talking about using Freedmen's Bureau records, specifically focusing on the recently digitized and indexed version available on and searchable through  And we actually had about 40 people show up!

Now remember, these records are extremely important for black family history research because they are the contemporary primary source that indicates the last owner of a formerly enslaved individual.  In many of the records created by the Freedmen's Bureau, one of the questions asked was "What was the name of your last owner?"  That owner's name is critical to finding more information about the individual prior to Emancipation.
One big topic I covered was the limitations of the new searchable index.  First of all, notwithstanding all of the publicity, not all of the Freedmen's Bureau records were transcribed.  Most of the field office records still have no index.  So of the 30 Bureau databases on, only half have an index.  (One small sliver of hope:  FamilySearch is still considering whether to have the field office records indexed. I really hope they do it.)

Another problem is that the National Archives microfilms of the Bureau records had the records sorted by state.  Now all the labor contracts are in one “United States” database, and the same for school records, hospital records, etc.  So if the state that the freedman was living in didn’t actually appear on the record but another state did (and yes, some of the records are like that, like a contract where the person hiring is in a different state), that record will only appear under the second state, not the one that the person was living in.  Most of the time a researcher isn’t going to check a record that lists the wrong state, so that’s a bunch of people who are now harder to track down.

There are also problems where the location listed on the index is not that on the record.  So someone might be in Plaquemine Parish, Louisiana, for example, but the index says New Orleans.  This is another situation where a researcher probably wouldn't look at that record.

Something else that hasn’t been publicized well is how the search works now for the records.  If you go directly to, as I did at first, you will need to search through each database individually.  If you go to, the very, very basic search on that page — which allows you to input only first and last names, so it looks next to useless — actually searches all 15 indexed databases at once, which is a good thing.  But don’t pay attention to the short list of 20 results you’ll see on the DiscoverFreedmen page.  Click the link that says it will show you all the results.   That will take you to, and along with the option to see more than 20 results at a time, you’ll get to see which databases the results came from.  You can delete databases if you don’t think the locations will be relevant, but considering the whole location problem discussed above, do so with caution.

And yet another problem with the index:   From the beginning, the instructions given to volunteers were not to transcribe every name on a record.  Yes, someone decided that Bureau employees weren’t worthy of being recorded, and some other people’s names also were not included in the index.  So the index is not really an every-name index for these records.

The good news is that even a flawed index is better than no index, and the Freedmen’s Bureau records are far more accessible than they used to be.  But the flaws need to be understood so that researchers will know when not to put all their faith in that index.

For some additional pointed commentary on the new search, see this post on Nicka Smith's blog.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: The Facebook Meme

Uh-oh!  Apparently there's a new Facebook meme going around, and Randy Seaver fell down the rabbit hole, because he's using it for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.  What they hey, I guess I can do it too:

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I want you to:

(1)  Use the Facebook "Learn about Each Other" meme being passed around this week and answer the 32 questions as listed below.

(2)  Tell us in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a status line on Facebook or a stream post on Google Plus.  Be sure to leave a link to your post in Comments on this post.

So here are my answers.  I copied Randy's blue, even though I hate the HTML.  I noticed that Randy's list had no 5, 27, or 28, so I looked on Facebook and discovered multiple variations of the meme (no surprise there).  I found a question 5 I liked and added that, and my cousin had the question 20 I've used.  So mine is actually a list of 31 questions, whereas Randy has only 29!

1. Who are you named after?  I was named for my two Jewish great-grandfathers, following the Ashkenazi tradition to name children after deceased relatives.  My mother used the initials:  Janice is for Joyne (Gorodetsky), and Marie is for Moishe (Meckler).
2. Last time you cried?  A few days ago watching a sob story on the news.
3. Do you like your handwriting?  Not as much as I used to.  I used to write in a beautiful cursive, but I seem to be getting sloppy in my middle age.
4. What is your favorite lunch meat?
 Genoa salami.
5. Spicy or sweetSpicy, every time!
6. Longest relationship?  
Father, uncles, and aunts:  almost 55 years.
7. Do you still have your tonsils?  Yes.
8. Would you bungee jump?  Hell no.
9. What is your favorite kind of cereal?  Hot:  Cornmeal mush with sugar and whole milk.  Cold:  Lucky Charms with whole milk.
10. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?  Yes, almost every time.
11. Do you think you're strong?  Physically:  Not really anymore (work injuries).  Emotionally:  Yes, most of the time.
12. Favorite ice cream?  Ben & Jerry's Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz; almost anyone's Mint Chocolate Chip.
13. What is the first thing you notice about a person?  Hair, face, eyes.
14. Football or baseball?  Both, but football a lot more.
15. What color pants are you wearing?  Gray.
16. Last thing you ate?  Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolate.
17. What are you listening to?  The TV in the bird room, which is currently airing Sesame Street on PBS Kids.
18. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?  Royal Blue.
19. What is your favorite smell?  Maybe frying bacon, even though I don't like to eat it very much.
20. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?  My friend Vernester.
21. Are you marriedNo.
. Hair color?  Medium brown with shots of gray.
23. Eye color?  Brown (I'm full of it up to there).
24. Favorite foods to eat?  Rare steak, shrimp, scallops, crab, mango, sushi.
25. Scary movies or happy endings?  Scary movies.
26. Last movie you watched?  Wild Kratts:  A Creature Christmas with my birds.
27. What color shirt are you wearing?  White and brown aloha shirt.
28. What is your favorite holiday?  Passover/Pesach.
29. Beer or Wine?  Yes!  To be more specific, my favorites are Guinness and Gewürztraminer.
30. Night owl or morning person?  Now night owl, but I was an absolute morning person until a few years ago.
31. Favorite day of the week?  Friday, for Grimm and Sleepy Hollow, or Tuesday, for NCIS and NCIS:  New Orleans.

If you feel like contributing you answers, feel free to post them as a response to my list!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: An Insurance Policy for Rosita La Forêt

Two weeks ago I posted the last document I have that is directly associated with Jean La Forêt, a letter from his daughter Adrienne.  After going through the files I created for the other individuals in my "treasure chest", I decided the next logical person to work on is Jean's younger daughter, Rosita.  She has been discussed in some posts previously, but always as a secondary person in a document or photograph.  These documents are really about her, although I don't have many.

This is a "Travel and Pedestrian Accident Policy" for Rosita E. La Foret.  The full sheet of paper is 22" x 17", designed to be folded into quarters and then thirds, of a size to fit into a standard business letter envelope.  It's currently off-white in color with some stains that look like grease.  It's about the weight of 20# bond and has no watermarks.

Almost everything on this policy is preprinted, with the exceptions of Rosita's name, age, and address on the first full, "title", page and the date, signatures, location, and beneficiary information on the third full page.  All nonprinted information except the signatures has been typed.  The signatures appear to be stamped; they have no texture and do not appear to have been signed by hand.  Geo. A. Fisher's name has been stamped twice, with one instance offset from the other.

There's no indication of any specific event for which this insurance was bought.  Rosita was 17; maybe she was going on a trip?  It is a travel policy, after all.  The address for her and her parents is the one we have seen before, 615 Indiana Street in Vallejo.

The policy is dated July 31, 1926, less than two months before Jean passed away.

The policy itself goes into a lot of detail about how much it pays and under what circumstances.  On the first full page, I find it surprising that the amount for loss of life of the insured is the same as loss of two body parts.  You'd think it would be more if the entire body was out of commission.

And the circumstances which are covered are specifically described:  "wrecking of a railroad passenger car or street, elevated or underground railway car", "being struck by lightning or a cyclone or tornado", "collapse of the outer walls of a building Insured is therein" (but apparently not the inner walls?), "result of accidental drowning at a Public Bathing Beach during the time that a Life-Saver is on duty, and not otherwise", for a few examples.  The policy cost only $1, plus $0.25 to register it, and also depended on the insured being a "regular reader" of the San Francisco Chronicle.  I had no idea that newsapers sold insurance policies.  Since it did not specify the insured needed to be a subscriber, I wonder if I could go to the library and read the Chronicle and still qualify.

The Chronicle was pretty proud of its building.  It included an image of the building on the back of the policy.

The insurance was through Eureka Casualty Company of Los Angeles, which had a local office in San Francisco on Sansome Street.  I didn't find much information about the company online, but several of the hits from my Google search were for lawsuits against Eureka.  I guess it's a good thing that it doesn't look as though Rosita had to try to collect on the policy.

This letter is on a sheet of 8 1/2" x 11" paper.  It's a grayish white; it might have been white originally.  It is about 20# and has no watermark.  It is glued into the policy over the signature page.  It was printed, not typed.  I'm not sure if Geo. A. Fisher's signature was printed or stamped.  This version of his signature looks different from the one on the policy.  I wonder if either version was actually signed by him.

This is a pretty standard cover letter.  (Apparently not much has changed in 90 years.)  I am amused by the second paragraph:  "We are confident you will experience an increasing measure of satisfaction in possession of this policy."  That's funny, I would have thought policy-holders should experience greater security or maybe safety.  I never thought about being satisfied that I had an insurance policy.

This envelope is 6 1/2" x 3 5/8".  It scanned much yellower than it is; the true color is a medium grayish-white.  It has "Medical Matters" written on it twice, once in pencil and once in what looks like blue crayon.  This was tipped into the folded insurance policy.  It's too small for the policy to have been in it at any point, because there would be more fold marks on the policy.  I don't know what its relevance is to the policy.  Maybe it just ended up there over the years.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

My First Issue of the Nugget as the Editor!

Today in the mail I received my first issue of The California Nugget for which I was the editor.  I'm so excited!!  I hope everyone enjoys it!  (It will be sent automatically to subscribers and to members of the California Genealogical Society.)  Send me feedback!

Thanks to my great team:  Stacy L. Hoover, assistant editor; Nancy Cork, proofreader; and Lois Elling, compositor.  And to Linda Harms Okazaki for inviting me to be the new editor.