Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hall of Records - again

Not having finished searching for old family divorce and probate records at the Los Angeles County Hall of Records, I had to head back to the Civic Center, downtown.  This time it was old hat, although I narrowly avoided four cars stopped at the end of the on-ramp onto I-5 (no it wasn't at the red light - it was a fender bender I think).  I parked at the $18/day lot and walked a bit further, but no problem.  Included is what I wrote while waiting at the Microfilm Library in the basement today:

Why didn’t I remember my iPod??? I could have been listening to Genealogy Podcasts or Blog Talk Radio. But I forgot. At least I remembered my checkbook… I’m sitting in the hallway outside Room 111 the Microfilm Office in the basement of the Los Angeles County Hall of Records. It’s been two hours since I signed in… a continuation of yesterday when I waited three hours, got to the microfilm machine, copied one divorce case (Bagley), then they closed. So the four other divorces are to copy on the microfilm machine today. At great risk of not being present when my number was called, I took an hour and a half and went down the escalator to the Archives and looked through the old books for one more divorce (Ferrell) and three Probates. (Blanding, Pearce, Hook). These books give the dates and case file numbers. The file numbers are the important thing for the microfilm library… just the numbers -with prefix..

So after munching on a “power bar” left behind at the Jamboree, by my kind roommate, Darlene Campbell, I survived the morning-long wait. One can quickly see that the L.A. County microfilm office needs more staff and microfilm readers, and more space too. They are hard workers in this office, whereas the chit-chatting workers downstairs have plenty of time to talk about food and their lack of sleep. Today in the Archives they figured it was easier to just bring and pile up the books I would be asking for, rather than get them one at a time. For two of the probate cases I was seeking, I was given microfische to peruse. It took me awhile to figure out the plan on the microfisch reader, especially when the map guide on the machine was turned around in the opposite direction. For the two early probates to search I was sent to the Probate side of the Archives and a girl gave me two re-conditioned Probate books that were in good shape-  one from 1924 (Pearce) and one from 1947 (Blanding).. (The old divorce books were huge and coming apart at the peg-style binding.) "

I eventually got onto a microfisch reader/copier and frantically copied two divorces -then my 30 minutes was up, but I'd pulled another number when I went down to the Archives, so she called my number in a few minutes.  Luckily the Monday madness of people only lasted till about noon today.  So I was allowed to happily (and feeling the neck pain) copy the rest of the divorces and the three Probates I'd found.  At 4 pm I went back down the the Archives to pay the cashier - I wrote a check for 50cents a page - total was $121.  Am I crazy?  Maybe so.  Now I'll have to scan the pages (242) and get rid of the paper copies.  I haven't even read them yet. 
From there I had a half hour so walked to the City Hall (walked all around it just to find the public entrance) where there was a airport-style security x-ray search (also happens at the court houses).  I wanted to ask the City Hall people if they had a business license from my great-grandparents when they arrived in L.A. from Minnesota (via Georgia and Florida) about 1905. They built a big boarding house at E. 21st St between Alameda and Long Beach Blvd. The Tax and License people said they only had records from 1980s and sent me to the L.A. County Treasurer & Tax Collector (Business License) at 225 N. Hill St.  But then they gave me a paper to go back to City Hall Tax Registration and Permit Office, 200 N. Main.  I protested that they were the ones who sent me to them.  They only keep records for 5 years, so I was sent to the "Unsecurities Office" or something like that, and then they sent me to the Business and Real Estate office.  With one skinny minute before closing time at 5pm, I was told I should have come earlier (no kidding), and she gave me the phone number of the "Business Office" information clerk. She said that it would take special search to find that old of a record for a business license... 1905, and she would have to get the real estate people to try and find an assessment number.  They would have come over to her office and talk about it.  Sigh... I think I'll just go find the land  deeds in the Vital Records Hall in Norwalk. 
     I bought an egg sandwich for the first meal of the day and sat outside of the building wolfing it down.  Then on a whim, I drove over the freeway and drove around Olvera Street.... old Mexico.  I remember visiting there several times growing up.  Then I kept droving down Alameda to 21st street to see again the place that used to be where "Hotel Fern" was located.  My mother's family boarding house.  Now its covered with a warehouse and Prudential Lighting.    It was a nice drive, really.  The streets in LA downtown are actually not too bad.  With the cars mostly on the many nearby freeways, the city streets are not hard to navigate.  I passed "Angeles Flight" a little tram way that goes up Bunker Hill between 3rd & 4th Streets.  Someday I'll ride on that short rail again. 
   I put my GPS directly aimed at the Southern California Genealogical Society Library.  There was plenty of traffic, but got to the Library in Burbank at 7pm an it was open until 9pm so I got some quality time searching Rock County, Wisconsin.  I found the marriage of Wesley Stevens, son of Phineas Stevens II,  to Mary Pember - they were both "from" Johnstown township.  I thought they'd married back in Harmony, Chautauqua Co., NY where they were from.  Heide, the president of the SCGS, was there and we had a nice chat about the Jamboree.
     With much accomplished today, I felt I'd made progress in getting the low-down on my family in L.A.  The last time I was in City Hall was 1967 when I went there to get my marriage license.  I have to give L.A. kudos for their bus and metro system... they seem very popular, the buses too.
        I'm leaving Burbank tomorrow, and will make my way  to Norwalk again.  Maybe I can drop by the SCGS in the morning.. they open at 10am.   That genealogy bug has bit me, with an added boost at the Jumboree.

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