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On a local note, in casual conversation with fellow genealogy dabbler and Morgan Hill resident, Sherry Hemingway, Janie learned of a compelling shared connection. “She and I are descended from the same Thomas Rogers of the Mayflower four generations down, until [the family line] split.” While Knopf only spends a few hours a week on her research, she says the time flies by when she goes online. She hopes to leave her grandchildren a legacy of their history, and to interest other friends in digging deeper into their roots. Dave Peoples: Steeped in Local History Dave Peoples, the friendly owner of the Garlic City Mercantile in Gilroy, has been exploring his genealogy for more than half of his 74 years of age, before the Internet came along to streamline the process. He’s a Californio—a term for those descended from families who received large land grants when they came to California between 1830 and 1880; a second generation Gilroy resident, whose grandmother was born and raised in San Jose, and whose direct ancestors owned significant chunks of local property, includ- ing, he said, “From about IBM hill south to the north end of Morgan Hill,” and parts of Harvey Bear Ranch. His interest in pursuing history’s mysteries stem from two origins: first, to answer a curiosity about whether his wife, a Colt, might be related to the revolver creator Samuel Colt, and second, to address a statement his grand- mother had told him. “She told me ‘David, you need to know that outside of Calistoga there’s a place called Franz Valley that should belong to us.’” While his wife does turn out to be distantly related to Samuel Colt, the Franz story revealed a Sea Captain with a family scandal. “One of the progenitors of our family is a Captain Franz who founded Franz Valley.” Peoples found out that their daughter had an illegitimate son at a very young age. Captain Franz’s wife raised the baby as though he were her own but, “When Captain Franz died, his wife kicked the illegitimate son out when he was sixteen.” 64 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Peoples spends between six to ten hours per week on and Family Tree Maker, two sites that make searching for your ancestors, and compiling your family tree, much simpler than the early days when everything was done by mail. Peoples has visited numerous libraries and archives, including one of the most comprehensive archives, the Family History Library, in Salt Lake City, Utah. “It’s amazing all the information that’s there, but I’ve really exhausted what they have,” he said. He jokes, “You don’t have to go very far to meet somebody you’re related to,” and admits that “at one time or another, [my family] were probably related to fifty percent of the people in Gilroy.” He’s been able to trace his family back to “The fourth Sheriff of Nottingham, between 1200 and 1300, and his wife’s family back as far as 1348.” But there’s a lone link in his family chain that he drives him mad with frustration. “If there were a record of all my computer searches, ‘James Peoples, 1798’ would be the most researched name in all of history,” he said with a laugh. In genealogy, these missing links are referred to as a “brick wall,” he said. “We know the factoids of what happened to him, but we don’t know where he was when he died. There’s no recorded history,” he says. This is not a total surprise, since he knew that numerous records in the Tennessee Valley, where the elusive James Peoples lived, were destroyed through massive fires or floods over the years. Genealogy also led him to connect with a fourth cousin named Richard, whom he met in person in Centralia, Illinois years ago. He says it felt like they’d known each “for absolutely years. We are an absolute match, just getting along famously.” So famously, he stayed an extra week on his trip, and he and his cousin strolled through local archives and city halls claiming to work for a fake organization just to have access to their family history. “We just had the greatest time for a whole week.” Since his daughter and grandson don’t want to take up the genealogy mantle, he plans to bequeath his four filing cabinets to a library, as soon as he decides which one. Getting started in Genealogy For anyone interested in dabbing in genealogy, you can start by running a Google search on yourself and your grandparents. From there you can plug in information to websites like and/ or software, like Family Tree Maker, to extend the process. The Family History Library in Utah also retains numerous records. JULY/AUGUST 2017