On 24 September 1704, the Plymouth Colony Court of General Sessions granted liquor licenses to several colonists. Each deposited a bond (“surtie”) with the court to ensure orderly behavior of their patrons, except, for some reason, the last man listed. That would be my seventh great-grandfather Eleazer Dunham (1659-1719). He’s listed as an “inholder,” that… Read More


San Quentin State Prison, circa 1910

My great grandparents Sumner Dunham (1871-1947) and Cora Belle Ivans (1873-1963) were married on 8 July 1894 in Cummings, Mendocino County, California, with Cora Belle’s parents William and Mary (Wilson) Ivans serving as official witnesses. It’s unlikely Cora Belle’s brother John E. Ivans, my great granduncle, would have been in attendance at the wedding. Then… Read More


Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Culiacán

When I first began working on my family history, I was surprised to hear the maiden name of my great-great-grandmother María del Rosario García (1854-1924), carefully recorded by my mother in her bride’s book: Moraila. That was an unusual Spanish name. Could it have really been Murillo, or something similar? Her mother’s name was Verdugo;… Read More


TCatedral de la Purísima Concepción, Mazatlán

The hand-written family history provided by my great-grandmother, Jesús García de Alvarado (1871-1966), has proven invaluable in building out the Alvarado line of my family history. At the same time, it has presented some conundrums. This article proposes a theory of our Alvarado lineage back to the Spanish colonial era, seeking to reconcile church records… Read More


For some time I’ve had a mission to find a photograph of the house on Fremont Avenue in downtown Los Angeles where the Alvarado family lived in the late teens and early 1920s. I’ve spent many hours combing through online collections of historical photographs, hoping to find some clue that would give me a window… Read More


My second great-grandfather Fernando Alvarado married María Eugenia Trinidad Tamayo probably sometime around 1840 in Sinaloa. Recently I received the 1822 baptismal record for Maria Eugenia Trinidad from San Pedro de Chametla in Sinaloa. The record clearly states that she was “mulata,” meaning one of her parents was black. Here’s what the record says: María… Read More