I got interested in my personal genealogy back in the 90s and after retiring in January, 1997 I soon fell into the groove of visiting local libraries and archives to find the story of my Dwyers — where they lived and when they died. That was fine as long as they lived and died in the SF Bay Area. But my grandfather’s little brother Everett and his wife Mabel settled in southern California and their obituaries were gathering dust in the LA Times microfilm collection at the LA Central Library. I knew I would have to go there someday to connect the story of Everett to all the other members of The Dwyers of San Francisco. That someday finally came during the summer of 2003.
Becky Munoz, one of my wife’s best friends from Guam, became seriously ill that Spring and had to be flown to LA to receive special care at Good Samaritan Hospital. And so we began to make plans. Bennette would spend some time with Becky and her relatives and I would walk over to LA Central Library just a few blocks away and get my research done.
As it turned out, Becky was to be discharged the day we arrived and so we picked her up at Good Sam and drove her and her husband Frank to Long Beach to visit some cousins and then to Oxnard where Becky would be staying with her sister for a few days before returning to Guam. The next day Bennette stayed in Oxnard with Becky and her relatives and I drove back to LA to search for Everett.
Those microfilm reels were treasure chests and I obtained a wealth of knowledge on Everett and his family. Obituaries are often considered among the most important sources for genealogical data. Almost all obituaries contain the exact date of death and usually also mention the date and place of burial. But they also almost always include the names of family members, including the married names of female children. Without that knowledge it is almost impossible to go forward and gather the genealogy for the next generation. I discovered that day that Everett and Mabel’s daughter Margaret married a fellow by the name of George Sweeney and I found their obituaries, too, as well as the names of their children. I also browsed a few city directories and phone books and found the address for George D Sweeney in Pasadena. George would become the key to open all the doors in my search for Everett. He gave me some names and phone numbers and those I contacted gave me more names, more phone numbers, more email addresses. I had no idea that my search for Everett would be so successful!
We drove home the next day and I started to work on my list of long-lost relatives and we began to plan our return to southern California to meet as many of Everett’s descendants as we could. I will tell the story of that trip in my next post — The Search for Everett, Part Three. Stay tuned.