Youth, as they say, is wasted on the young. And while you’ve got to love having non-conformist ancestors, sometimes their adventures make it difficult to track them. Case in point: my grandmother María Lucia “Lucille” Alvarado Wood Dunham Minasian. She was quite a handful, especially once she met up with my grandfather Sumner Earl Dunham… Read More


As my great-grandparents José María and Jesús Alvarado would exit the front door of their modest residence at the corner of Bellevue Avenue and North Broadway in 1900 Los Angeles, two blocks to the northwest they would see this grand house, built in 1887, on a hill above them. This was the residence of Joseph… Read More


An unusual color photograph of downtown Los Angeles in 1900. The view is looking south down Broadway, not far from where my great-grandparents lived at North Broadway and Bellevue Avenue. The tower visible at the top left is Old City Hall.… Read More


The 1850 U. S. Census was a disaster in California. It was disorganized and many of the records were lost, requiring California to mandate a state census in 1852 to try to gauge the massive increase in population due to the Gold Rush. Among those Gold Rush newcomers was my great-great-grandfather Seth Dunham (4 May… Read More


Sonoratown along Buena Vista (North Broadway) From Fort Moore Hill

The city of Los Angeles, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, was founded on September 4, 1781 by a multi-racial group of settlers from Mission San Gabriel. The city continued to grow slowly; its leaders generally Californios of the landed classes who had received vast tracts of land, the ranchos, by grants from… Read More


Yesterday on NPR I heard a review of a new book on the history of Los Angeles. It sounded fascinating, so I immediately went to the Taschen store at the Farmers Market and bought it. Los Angeles: Portrait of a City, is a huge, 571-page book containing hundreds of photographs of the city’s history from… Read More


George Morton (1585-1624) and Nathaniel Morton (1613-1685) This past week my publisher delivered the files for my book to the printer.  I imagine that within the next couple of weeks I will have an actual copy of my first book in my hands. The book is Ascend: The Catholic Faith for a New Generation, published… Read More


When my great-great-great grandparents James Dunham (1788-?) and Betsy Gilpatrick (1795-1860) were married in 1814 in Orland, Hancock County, Maine, they created a link between my Dunham ancestors and the ancestors of John Hancock, signer of the Declaration of Independence. Governor Hancock is actually my second cousin. He is seven times removed because he and… Read More