Calaveras Genealogical Society was organized in 1991 to assist
researchers with their research needs. The stated purpose of the CGS is:
To assist people interested in genealogy to research their roots by providing educational opportunities, research materials and tools.
To compile and make available local information of interest to genealogical researchers.
The Calaveras Genealogical Society is a tax exempt non-profit organization. We do accept donations, which are a tax deduction to the donor.
How Do You Join CGS?
Individual membership in the CGS is only $15 annually. The dues year is from July 1 through June 30. Those joining after January 1 only pay $7.50 for the remainder of that fiscal year. There are discounted membership fees for joint membershipa, where more than one member live in the same house and we offer membership to other organizations also.
When you join, you will get the quarterly Froghorn, discounts on entry fees to most of the CGS seminars, a mentoring program, monthly speakers, and emailed research tips on a regular basis, all for only $1.25 a month! A membership form can be downloaded and printed by clickingHERE.
The Calaveras Genealogical Society publishes a quarterly newsletter " THE FROGHORN" for their members. Older issues can be read on the Froghorn and Library page.
What Does CGS Offer Members?
Monthly meetings where members can learn new ways to do their research.
A large genealogical research section at the Calaveras County library in San Andreas that is owned by the CGS. The books cannot be checked out but are available to do research in the library. A list of the books and other resource materials with a map of the stacks where the books are stored can be read on the Froghorn and Library page.
A quarterly newsletter, the Froghorn, that is sent to all members.
Emailed tips on new genealogical websites, freebies for genealogy etc.
Discounted fees for most Seminars and research trips.
Social meetings with a tour of a local historical location, with stories told during the tour of the pioneer families of that are.
A mentoring session before the monthly meetings, led by experienced researchers.
The opportunity to place their Surname Research List on this website where others researching the same names are able to make contact to share information. You will find the list of names on the SURNAMES AND RESOURCES page.
What Else does CGS offer?
The website has a CONTACT REQUEST form that can be filled out by anyone who would like to request help with information on
a Calaveras County ancestor. The form will be emailed to one of the
CGS volunteers who will do research on the family names you send and email the results to you. They cannot obtain birth, marriage or death certificates which are available only from the Calaveras County Recorder for a fee.
On the FINDING THEM page,
a list of known deaths and burials for Calaveras County, taken from old lists, newspapers,
mortuary records and gravestone surveys, is available in PDF format that
can be viewed online or downloaded to your computer. The
lists become out of date daily as new research is done, with
errors in old information discovered and new names found, but it is a
very good resource for ancestors from Calaveras County and the most
complete list you will find.
Check out the Calendar page to see the upcoming schedule of monthly meetings, workshops and seminars.
Some history of Calaveras County
This first courthouse building for Calaveras County was made in China and shipped to California where is was erected at Double Springs in 1850. The next county courthouse was located in Jackson, which was in Calaveras County at that time, then was in Mokelumne Hill and finally the county courthouse was in San Andreas where it remains today.
Native American families are very important in the history of Calaveras County. Most of the county's Native Americans were Miwok.
The gold seekers started arriving by 1848, most of them men who lived in tents at first and also moved frequently from mining camp to mining camp, always looking for the better gold prospects.
As women starting becoming a larger part of the Calaveras County population, schools and churches were started and fraternal lodges became an active part of life in the villages and towns.
Lumber was a large industry, many of the trees cut down being destined for the deep mines thatstarted later in the 1800's. Many types of crops were also grown countywide, with potatoes, all kinds of fruit trees, hay and other grains as well as vegetable farms. The town of Murphys even had a large strawberry farm at one time.
It did not take long for the folks in the cities to recognize the beauty of the county, with Big Trees being one of the more popular vacation places. The hotel there was elegant and there was a dance hall on a tree trunk and, at one time, even a bowling alley there. Other popular hotels were located in Avery and Dorrington.
Calaveras County took care of its own, with the first county hospital started as early as 1858, where indigents were cared for at county expense. That first county hospital was near Mokelumne Hill with its replacement opened in San Andreas in 1869, with that hospital serving the county until a larger one was opened in 1890. All three of the hospitals had cemeteries located next to them where the indigent patients were buried. Only one of those cemeteries is still visible, at the hospital opened in 1890, located where the county government center is now. The cemetery was behind the hospital and the rocks placed at the head of each grave site number in the hundreds.
Medical care in the 1800s was very rudimentary and the use of narcotic drugs such as opium and cocaine was common. Even such simple things as cough medicine for babies was often loaded with alcohol or other dangerous substances.
The pioneering families had an active social life with dances held frequently and with masquerade balls, parades, skating parties and other festivities often listed in the newspapers of that era. If a family was in need, a fundraising dance would be held, which was usually well attended. These dances often lasted all night with a break at midnight for a dinner, which often consisted of ravioli, and followed by dancing until dawn when the weary attendees would start for home. Angels Camp started their Frog Jump Celebration in 1928 and the tradition still goes on today
Angels Camp 1931 Frog Jumpheld on Main Street in Angels Camp
Many of the towns had bands and baseball teams. Horse races, wrestling, boxing and other sports were frequent and gambling on these events was common. Outdoor events were common and groups would pack up the wagons and head for the mountains for a camping trip that often lasted several weeks. Some ranchers put on annual picnics on their ranch with everyone invited and hundreds attended some of those picnics.
Carrying a knife, gun or other weapon was normal in the earlier 1800's but there was a gun law passed in the later 1800s. George Cox, who shot his son in law and was the last person hung in Calaveras County on August 31, 1888, was called a martyr to the new gun law by some people. Sheriff Ben Thorne, sent out engraved invitations to the hanging.
As the years passed, the big mines closed down and the towns became business centers. Some of the older citizens still mined by hand to make a living and some folks still look for gold, more as a hobby than as a way to make a living. Many of the old ranches were sold and split into smaller parcels and more families moved here from the cities but the spirit of the 49ers still lives on and there are still folks who remember what life used to be like in the sleepy foothill communities, where everyone knew everyone and were probably related to most of them.
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