Thursday, January 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday Indeed

As I mentioned in my last blog post, one of the historical, yet genealogy rich collections  in the California History and Family Research Room are what we call the “1938 School Board Books”. 

In 1938, a volunteer Committee from the Madera County Office of Education worked with Teachers from each school in Madera County to compile “The History of Madera County”.  Each school made a book that contained not only the school’s history, but the history of the area where the school was located, founding pioneer and family information, etc..Each book has a front and back cover made of wood particle board including a symbol of the school made out of metal which is attached to the front cover.  Each of these books is unique and the majority of them are a family researcher’s gold mine.  While I would love to showcase each individual book and their contents, I hope that through the examples in this post you will understand how special these books are and come by the Library to view them in person.

Dixieland School

In addition to providing the history of the school faculty, this book provides a rich narrative on the colonization of the District by the Fairmead Cooperative Land Company.  What makes this book unique is that it includes information on the settlers, a large majority of them, who were of Mennonite Faith. 


Arcola School

The Arcola School Board Book is the largest of all the Board Books.  T.O. Cavin was one of the founding farmers in the area and included in this book is a handwritten document, written by his wife, on the history of the school and the Alabama Colony settlers that lived in the area.  This book is unique in that it provides information on the Arcola 4-H Club!


Green School

This school is one of the many schools that were located in the foothills that surround Madera County.  This book contains history unique to this region, especially regarding the gold mines and the miners that came to California in 1849.


Fresno Flats

Fresno Flats, now known as Oakhurst, was another area located up in the foothills that was inhabited by early gold miners.  This book is both descriptive and colorful in its narrative, as you will see by the example provided below.

For a list of all the schools that have a book in this collection, as well as other school resources in the California Room, please click on the tab above titled "Resources for Genealogy".

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A New Year To Begin Your Family Research!

One thing I love about my job is the people I meet on a daily basis.   Madera is such an ethnically diverse County, I get to learn something new every day and then include this information for future patrons. Because of this, our California Room has grown to include a Genealogy collection that is quite diverse. With the start of a New Year, I thought the month of January would focus on some of the unique resources we have to help you start your family research!

Land Records

Did you family own land or property in Madera County?   Or maybe you’re a map geek like me and enjoy looking at old maps?  Thanks to the Chowchilla Historical Society, we have the 1920 Madera County Land Plat Maps and they are a family researcher’s gold mine for Madera County.  Not only do they reflect an ancestors name and location of property, but also their neighbors, buildings, rivers, schools, even the Sugar Pine Lumber Company Flume!   Below is a digitized image of Township 8 South, Range 20 East in Madera County.

If you are more tech minded, patrons can come in to the California Room and learn how to navigate the Bureau of Land Management’s website.  According to the BLM website “We provide live access to Federal land conveyance records for the Public Land States, including image access to more than five million Federal land title records issued between 1820 and the present”.  When I have used their website, I’ve been able to search homestead records back to when California became a state, including Native American Land Allotments issued by the Federal Government.  Did your family live in another state?  The BLM website has information on records outside of the State of California as well. For example, I found my Grandfather’s, 3 times removed, Land Patent in Oklahoma dated 1902.  Some original Land Patents haven’t been digitized, but many have and are available to print for your records. 

Madera County has two incorporated cities, the City of Madera and the City of Chowchilla.  Chowchilla was form when the U.S. Farm Land Company, led by O.A. Robertson in the early 1900’s, purchased large amounts of land which were divided into lots and marketed for sale all over the United States. The Bill of Sale records for these lots were kept in great detail and are included in our Chowchilla Historical Society’s collection.   Patrons whose ancestors lived in Chowchilla are welcome to research these historic records as they provide the Buyer’s original home address as well as the Lot Numbers purchased and Description of Property. 

The above mentioned collections can be a valuable resource to those who had ancestors living in Madera County but who have been difficult to research.  Lots of detailed information and not found anywhere else but our California History and Family Research Room here in Madera.  Next post will cover our Early Madera County Schools Collection.