Monday, March 18, 2019

Relax . . .Connect . . .Discover

AFTER the excitement of Conference sessions, join others to wind down in a relaxed setting at our evening “Connections 2 Discoveries.”  Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16 from 5:15 - 6:15 pm.  

Our casual evening gatherings are offered as an opportunity for you to make connections and discuss various topics, geographic areas of interest, genealogical society networking, and much, much more.

Currently Proposed Connections:

Regional:  The Pommern Group, Bohemia…
DNA:  Sharing Results…
Under-Utilized Resources:  America, Germany, Europe…
Society Newsletters/Publications
Genealogy Through Quilts

What other connections would you like to make?

Please indicate your interest in the proposed offerings, suggest ideas for topics to round out this program, and let us know if you would like to facilitate a group or know someone who would.  

Contact Amy Chidester at: 

with ideas, questions, and comments.  Your participation will make this a tremendous event!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Meet IGGP Conference Presenter Ingeborg Carpenter

Ingeborg Carpenter is a native German and the president of the Sacramento German Genealogy Society.  She performs German research and translation duties, and teaches the old German script. Her interest is in social anthropology and as such she speaks frequently about the social aspects of our German ancestor's lives.   

Ms. Carpenter will give the Saturday keynote luncheon, which is sponsored by Ancestry, at the IGGP Conference. Her topic is “Forget What You’ve Heard!  The Real ‘Gold Rush’…A Woman’s View”. Her presentation offers a first-person account of the arduous travel to California, the conditions upon arrival, and the reality of life in San Francisco and Sacramento during the Gold Rush days, as experienced by a German woman.

If you haven't yet registered for Ms. Carpenter’s Keynote Luncheon, now is the time to do so!  

Learn more HERE.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Meet IGGP Conference Presenter Dr. Michael Lacopo

Dr. Michael D. Lacopo is a retired small-animal veterinarian born and raised in northern Indiana.  Researching since 1980, he has lectured internationally and written for numerous periodicals and journals.  A self-described “all-American mutt,” his research skills cover a broad range. 

Dr.  Lacopo will give three presentations at the IGGP Conference:

  • “The ‘Forgotten Immigrants’: The Swiss To America”
  • “Using Mitochondrial DNA Testing for Genealogical Problem Solving”
  • “The German Immigrant Experience in the 18 th Century”. This is the keynote for the luncheon on Sunday, June 16th

If you haven't yet registered for Dr. Lacopo’s Keynote Luncheon, now is the time
to do so!

Learn more HERE.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Meet IGGP Conference Presenter Dr. Roger Minert

With a doctoral degree in German language history, Dr. Roger Minert (BYU) has more than 150 publications and has spoken as family history conferences since 1991.  He directs the research program "German Immigrants in American Church Records" and recently published books on German census records and residential registration.

Dr. Minert will give three presentations at the IGGP conference:

  • "Residential Registration in Germany"
  • "Family History Research in the Territories of Modern Austria Since 1500" - given jointly with Charlotte Champenois
  • "Marriage and Courtship in Germany from 1500 to 1871" - This is the keynote for the luncheon on Monday, June 17th

If you haven't yet registered for Dr. Roger Minert's Keynote Luncheon, do so now, as it is expected to sell out.

Learn more HERE

Monday, January 14, 2019

Last Day For Early Bird Registration

January 15th is the last day for early bird pricing for the 2019 International German Genealogy Conference

To register now, click

Sunday, January 6, 2019

9 Days Left For Early Bird Registration

9 Days Left for
Early Bird Registration
to the
German Genealogy Conference

It’s rare that any genealogy conference is able to pull together speakers from around the world, but our roll call of 47 genealogy experts from five continents will descend upon Sacramento, California in June 2019 for the
International German Genealogy Conference – “STRIKE IT RICH! with CONNECTIONS 2 DISCOVERIES”. 

This conference will feature three full days of German-centric presentations in multiple tracks – Geographic, Technology, Advancing Your Research, and more. Our all-star cast of presenters will share their expertise in German genealogical research techniques, tools, and more. 

Conference sessions will focus on all aspects of German genealogy through multiple educational tracks. An all-star cast of presenters from the United States, Germany, Austria, Australia, Israel and Brazil will share their expertise in German genealogical research techniques, tools and more.

To register for the conference CLICK HERE

Friday, January 4, 2019

Portraits of California's German Pioneers: John August Sutter, Jr.

Portraits of California’s German Pioneers:
by Anne Schaack Brenneis

In June 2019, the second Conference of the International German Genealogy Partnership (IGGP) will be hosted in Sacramento, California. Not only is the host city the home of the notable Sacramento German Genealogy Society, but California has been the adopted home of some of the most extraordinary German immigrants in American history. Captain John Sutter is remembered well for his famous Fort and Mill. However, history has largely ignored Sutter’s first-born son and the role he played in the founding of today’s capitol city of Sacramento, California.
            The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which brought an end to war between the United States and Mexico, included Mexico’s sale to the U.S. of land north of the Rio Grande that now comprises many of today’s western States, including California. The idea of turning California into a U.S. territory immediately following annexation was a problematic one at the time, due to the reticence of Congress to upset the balance of “slave” and “free” states and territories. Therefore, a system of U.S. military magistrates was set up to govern California, in an attempt to maintain Federal control and provide for local law-keeping. Californians had become accustomed to dealing with Spanish and Mexican magistrates, but the region was changing rapidly. A hybrid of Yankee and Latino culture, that included a great deal of intermarriage, had already been developing in California for several years. The culture of Mexico would remain an essential part of life for Californians, but expectations for freedom under U.S. rule would not tolerate the irregularity of military magistrates for very long. The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in northern California would provide the final push for Washington, D.C. to expedite the admission of California as a State in 1850.1
Ambitious and audacious in equal measure, Johann Augustus Sutter, a native of Kandern in the southwest of today’s Germany, had been operating in northern California since 1839. Sutter had been granted a great deal of land by the Mexican government and had built a fort near the Sacramento River. Sutter’s Fort became an important trading post and way-station for immigrants, and he was involved with the leasing of land and a number of other enterprises.2 Sutter had strategically chosen the site for his fort along the Sacramento River due to that river’s usefulness as a transportation conduit with San Francisco. A sandbar in the river prevented ships from going any further north most of the time, so the future home of the city of Sacramento became a major hub of shipping activity. Sutter was fortunate, too, that the land grants he had obtained from Mexico gave him considerable control of development in the area.3
By 1848, Sutter had taken note of the increased number of settlers arriving in northern California and saw the potential profitability of owning a water-powered sawmill. Buildings were going up that required rapid production of lumber. A swiftly running fork of the American River was chosen for the sawmill. One morning, James Wilson Marshall, the carpenter who was building the mill for Sutter, was inspecting the site for the mill when he spotted pebbles sparkling in the water. Marshall picked up some of the pebbles, curious about their mineral content. After conducting some tests on them, Marshall realized that the flashy little rocks were gold nuggets. Life in California changed drastically from that point, and John Sutter’s dreams for development of the area surrounding his fort were dashed. Sutter began to lose control of both his enterprises and his debts. Workers abandoned their jobs to join the hordes of opportunists who trampled recklessly through Sutter’s fort and farmland to go prospecting for gold.4
John Sutter had left behind a wife and family in Switzerland in 1834, when he abruptly left home to escape debtor’s prison and made his way to America. In 1848, his grown son John Augustus Sutter, Jr., known as August, left Europe to reunite with his father. August did not learn of the gold discovery until his long journey to California was nearly concluded. He arrived to find both the fort and his father in a dismal state. Deeply awash in an alcoholic crisis, yet relieved at the sight of his first-born son, Sutter decided to transfer management of his Sacramento property to August. Sutter then escaped north into the mountains for a while.5

John Augustus “August” Sutter, Jr.
(Harry C. Peterson, California State Parks)

There had arisen considerable controversy over ownership of land in Sacramento. The bulk of land titles had been granted by the Mexican government prior to U.S. Federal jurisdiction, but rights to those titles were protected by treaty with the United States. New settlers from the east, accustomed to homesteading when they moved west, were either ignorant of the Mexican land grants or would attempt to insinuate themselves into modest homesteads in hopes of being allowed to stay, since the grants made by Mexico tended to stretch over vast amounts of acreage.6 August determined that the sale of small lots would help deter squatters on Sutter’s Sacramento land, and the idea of turning the triangle of land formed by the Sacramento and American rivers into a city began to take shape. An Army engineer, Captain William Warner, was hired by August to survey and lay out the new Sacramento City.7
            The booming growth of Sacramento presented multiple other motives for the formation of a bonafide city. The somewhat sleepy region that had been Sacramento had transformed, by July 1849, into a boomtown crackling with excited adventurers and jangling with newly pecunious merchants, bankers, and gamblers. The sudden density of population, with the increase in new residents as well as visitors preparing to go elsewhere, created tremendous housing and sanitary challenges. Many who arrived via San Francisco were drained of their strength and resources. The illness and homelessness that plagued the Forty-Niners were much worsened by the wind, cold, and rain that pelted Sacramento. A new hospital erected on the public square had blown down in a storm. Tremendous floods soon followed. A formal city government was urgently needed, and city leaders made haste to organize a chartered government for Sacramento.8
            The elder Sutter disagreed with August over the lot sales. When August was stricken with malaria and became bedridden, Sutter revoked August’s rights to the Sacramento property. August’s efforts to improve his father’s financial state had realized a good deal of success, but with Sutter once again in charge, the fabric of August’s careful management began to unravel. The agent August had hired to sell lots of land was not informed of the ownership transfer back to Sutter. This resulted in confusion over sales of the lots, which were being sold by Sutter’s agents and also August’s agent, Peter Hardeman Burnett, who would later become the first Governor of the State of California. Still ailing from malaria and in utter disgust over his father’s antics as well as the frenetic atmosphere in Sacramento, August left California and moved to Acapulco, Mexico.9, 10, 11
In Acapulco, August recovered his health and fell in love with a local girl, MarĂ­a del Carmen Rivas, whom he married. August would return to California a few times, for both business and family reasons, but August would make his permanent home in Mexico, and for 17 years he served as United States Consul to Mexico.12

Marker for the tomb of John A. Sutter, Jr.,
Sacramento Historic City Cemetery, CA (Wikimedia Commons)

John Augustus Sutter, Jr. died in Acapulco in 1897 and was buried there in Saint Francis Cemetery. In the 1960s, the government of Mexico decided to remove the Saint Francis Cemetery to make room for development. Despite August’s utter dislike for the city of Sacramento, his youngest daughter—the last one surviving of his 12 children—arranged for his remains to be brought back to California and reinterred in Sacramento Historic City Cemetery. August had been responsible for the donation of 10 acres of land to found this City Cemetery, but considering his longstanding distaste for Sacramento, it seems ironic that it became his unwilling final resting place.13, 14

1. Starr, Kevin. California—A History. New York: Modern Library, a Division of
Random House, Inc., 2005; pp 73-75, 80, and 97.
2. Hurtado, Albert L. John Sutter—A Life on the North American Frontier. Norman, OK:
University of Oklahoma Press, 2006; pp 6 and 56.
3. Henley, James E. “Why Sacramento Was Located Here,” Small Bites of Sacramento History, episode 3, produced by the Center for Sacramento History, webcast, audiovisual, 2:13;
accessed August 9, 2018, or.
4. Hurtado 77-80.
5. Hurtado 13 and 234-238.
6. Thompson, Thomas H. and West, Albert A. History of Sacramento County, California,
With Illustrations. Berkeley, CA: Howell-North Press, 1960 (reprint of original 1880 ed.); p 50.
7. Hurtado 241-242.
8. Thompson and West 48-49.
9. Henley, James E. “John Sutter, Jr.,” Small Bites of Sacramento History, episode 50, produced by the Center for Sacramento History, webcast, audiovisual, 2:27; accessed August 9,
10. Henley, James E. “John Sutter, Jr. Established Sacramento City,” Small Bites of Sacramento History, episode 51, produced by the Center for Sacramento History, webcast, audiovisual, 2:58, accessed August 9, 2018,
11. Hurtado 247 and 249.
12. Hurtado 289 and 325-326.
13. Henley “John Sutter, Jr.”
14. Armstrong, Lance. “Final Resting Place of City’s Founder Located in Sacramento’s Oldest Cemetery,” Valcom News, January 13, 2011. Sacramento, CA: Valley Community Newspapers, Inc. Accessed December 15, 2018,