I’ve been on the hunt for my 3rd great grandfather’s land records this week. I went through the indexes for San Mateo County, California and hit a gold mine. It turns out Martin Kelly owned more land than I ever dreamed possible. The family lore said that he owned “a boardinghouse in San Francisco”. That doesn’t even describe it. He owned land all around the Bay Area.
I decided to take a gander at the San Francisco indexes. Again, the listings at familysearch.org are confusing. I don’t think it helps that it’s on a half screeen, so you are scrolling forward and backward and going too far and having to back up.
There appear to be duplicative indexes within the records. I tried one type of index but there were no Kelly’s. I found that at the end of the list of records at familysearch.org there were more indexes. These were titled “General Indexes” and are done by date and then letter of the alphabet. Each year has multiple books. Each book seems to have more than one month. But so far, the books can start on any letter, not just “A”.
The first book turned up nothing. The second book had a bingo on the second page of Kelly’s. It is for 1865 and is a land transfer between Martin Kelly and his brother-in-law, Patrick Dolan. The entry says “Martin Kelly, et al.” I wonder who the “et als” are?
I was so excited that I immediately searched for the deed book. And, you probably guessed. It’s not there. The available books jump from the early 1860s to the 1890s. Sigh…
As the San Francisco earthquake and fire wiped out so many records, I am going to have to research this to see if the books are not available at all or if they just aren’t available through the familysearch.org website. This is not yet a complete collection, so perhaps I can cross my fingers that the book will appear at some point.
I do have one option available to me. I can go to the San Francisco newspapers at the California Digital Newspaper Collection website for that time period to see if the transaction was listed in the section on land and property deals.
I’m excited to find that my ancestor is in the index. It further proves what I was finding in city directories. But, the index doesn’t tell me squat except when the transaction happened and that it involves a deed. I want the details, dang it!
The genealogy Gods giveth and the genealogy Gods taketh away. Hopefully, they will giveth again.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com