Thursday, September 3, 2015

HistoryLines Adds New Features and Content

I received this information recently from HistoryLines:


Hello everyone! We've been moving fast---here's a brief update:


*  You can now add stories and events before and after a person's life

*  You can now add notes on each story section, if you are researching and collecting information, or noting sources

*  We have made dozens of tweaks to the story logic and format, and enhanced picture arrangement on the printable PDF.

*  You can now sign in to HistoryLines with a Google account

*  HistoryLines will email you as we add story content to your ancestors' stories

As more and more of you create and expand your stories, we hope you find this all useful! Check it out »


We have expanded our research and writing team, and making great progress on stories from Sweden, France, and Poland. We've also been having great fun with several states in the US, including California and Illinois. Floods, wars, uprisings. Town criers, literacy, and newspapers. So much great context and perspective! View your stories »


I revisited one of my HistoryLines timelines (for my grandfather, Lyle Lawrence Carringer (1891-1976)) and saw several improvements and additions:

There are now more stories generated by HistoryLines, and they list the newly added stories, presumably since the last time I accessed the HistoryLine for my grandfather, below the name and date.

If I click on one of the new stories listed, a popup window opens and I can read what was added.  Here is the story for "Call of the Wild:"

 And here is the story for the "Childbirth" story:

These stories have been added to the long HistoryLines information for my grandfather.

I like the concept of HistoryLines, and especially the capability to add my own Stories and to hide stories that really don't apply to the person.  I disagree with some of the views expressed in the history stories and feel that they are biased towards a view of history that I don't share.  But I'm not going to take the time to provide feedback.

I posted a series of articles about HistoryLines several months ago, including;

*  HistoryLines Launched This Week - Post 1: First Look (22 April 2015)
*  HistoryLines Launched This Week - Post 2: Custom Events (23 April 2015)
*  HistoryLines Launched This Week - Post 3: An English Story (14 April.2015)
*  HistoryLines Launched Last Week - Post 4: A Canadian/American Story (27 April 2015)
*  HistoryLines Launch - Post 5: Saving or Printing Your Story (29 April 2015)

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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

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Treasure Chest Thursday - Post 278: 1741 Birth Record of Burgess Metcalf (1741-1816) in Medway, Mass.

It's Treasure Chest Thursday - time to look in my digital image files to see what treasures I can find for my family history and genealogy musings.

The treasure today is the  birth record of Burgess Metcalf (1741-1816) in Medway, Massachusetts:

The birth record of Burgess Metcalf is on the right-hand page, third up from the bottom:

The transcription of the record is:

Burgess Metcalf son of Michael Metcalf &
Melatiah his wife was born Aug. 28th 1741

The source citation for this record is:

Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, digital image, (, Medway, "Births, Marriages and Deaths, Births," page 26 (image 44 of 1171), Burgess Metcalf birth record, 1741; citing original data from Massachusetts town and city clerk records in Jay and Delene Holbrook, Massachusetts Vital and Town Records (Provo, Utah : Holbrook Research Institute), Microfiche collection.

This record is obviously a transcription of an earlier record since all of the entries are in the same hand.  So it is a Derivative Source (a transcription), Primary Information (likely first recorded near the time of the event) and Direct Evidence (it provides the child's name, parents names, and birth date).

Burgess Metcalf is my fifth great-grandfather, who married Jerusha --?-- in about 1770, and fathered ten children, including my 4th great-grandmother, Mary "Polly" Metcalf (1780-1855), who married Amos Underhill (1772-1865) in 1801 in Piermont, Grafton county, New Hampshire.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

NEHGS Salutes Labor Day with FREE Access to Databases on

I received this press release today from the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS):


Family Historians May Commemorate Labor Day by Working FREE on Family History on September 2 through September 9

September 2, 2015Boston, Massachusetts—To commemorate the Labor Day holiday, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is granting FREE Access to a large group of databases within its popular Census, Tax, and Voter List category on, its data-rich website.

The Census, Tax, and Voter Lists category is a collection of 40 separate databases containing a range of resources to provide information about the families who resided in the New England states between the 18th and 20th centuries. Other broader databases help to trace families as they moved to other areas of the United States. And a handful of European databases within the collection can assist researchers attempting to further document their family’s heritage.

Included within the collection are transcripts of the U.S. Federal Census, 1790—1880, and a variety of state and town tax records. Because these records often carry occupational information, researchers might uncover their ancestors diligently at work.

These databases from NEHGS will be open with FREE access to the public beginning Wednesday, September 2, through Wednesday, September 9. Registration is required at as a FREE Guest User to gain access to these valuable resources. Guest User accounts allow web visitors to use a limited suite of databases and access web content such as making purchases from the online store. Unlimited access to all 450+ million records and to other benefits is available through membership at NEHGS.

Family historians may start their Labor Day research at


The advanced search page at AmericanAncestors looks like this (I put 'seaver' in the last name field):

I checked to see what databases are included on this list:
This is an excellent opportunity for researchers with New England ancestors to search the Census, Tax and Voter List databases on AmericanAncestors.

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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

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The press release headline is Ancestry Launches Largest Online Collection of Wills and Probate Records in United States.  The lead paragraphs say:
"More than 170 million pages from the largest collection of wills and probate records in the United States is now available online exclusively on Ancestry. With searchable records included from all 50 states spread over 337 years (1668-2005), this unprecedented collection launches a new category of records for family history research never before available online at this scale the United States. 
"Until now, these records have only been available offline. Ancestry spent more than two years bringing this collection online, working with hundreds of different archives from individual state and local courts across the country and making a $10M investment to license and digitize the records. The documents cover well over 100 million people, including the deceased as well as their family, friends and others involved in the probate process. Ancestry expects to continue to grow the collection, with additional records available over the next several years."
Please read the whole press release for more details.

The last paragraph says:
"To celebrate the launch of the new U.S. Wills and Probates collection on Ancestry,, the collection along with all U.S. birth, marriage and death records, will be available to explore for FREE, September 2 (12 p.m. MT) through September 7 (10 p.m. MT)."
Now, I love probate records - they are my favorite record type because they provide significant information about names, relationships, property, location, etc.

Ancestry has provided these records by states - here are links to each collection
I finally found a record for one of my ancestors.  Here is a Mercer County, Pennsylvania will book page for Martin Carringer (1758-1835), my 4th great-grandfather:

However, I could not find the probate records for Daniel Spangler or Cornelius Feather in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, which I have found on FamilySearch.

I have poked around in these records for awhile (about an hour), and have noted:

*  The collections are not complete - there are probate records that I have accessed online at FamilySearch, AmericanAncestors,  and on FHL microfilm that are not included in these collections.  County courthouses may have additional probate files available.  Ancestry may add more content over time.

*  The collections are not every name indexed - the searchable indexed names seem to be those that were in indexes.  In some cases, only a last name, or even no name, are indexed even though the probate record provides a name.

*  The records can be searched by name and by county, and they can be browsed by county and volume.  

*  This will be an extremely valuable collection, but it is not the only collection available to find probate records online or offline.

*  This collection greatly adds to the online corpus available for searching and finding probate records and will help online researchers add rich and significant content to their ancestor's life stories.  I'm going to repeat what I said last week:  "My view is that probate, land, tax, town, and church records are the key to solving many difficult research problems."  

I'm going to poke around more!  I will have more comments, and probably lots of examples, in later posts.

UPDATE:  Juliana Szucs has a helpful blog post on the blog - U.S. Probates are Here!  This has a link to a FREE Probate Research Guide.

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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

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Sweethearts at the Padres Game -- Post 376 of (Not So) Wordless Wednesday

I'm posting old (and sometimes new) family photographs from my collection on Wednesdays, but they won't be wordless posts like others do - I am incapable of having a wordless post.

Here are some of the most precious (to me) images from my Seaver/Carringer genealogy collection - these are from Monday, 31 August 2015:

My granddaughters, the Sweethearts of HB, Lauren (age 10) and Audrey (age 7) went to the San Diego Padres-Texas Rangers baseball game with us on Monday night.  They made a sign on poster board to hold up and hope to bet on the video board.

The Padres have a Twitter feed, and if you post a photograph on Twitter and use the hashtag #SDinHD then they may show the photo, or the tweet, on the video board.  I submitted the picture above at about 6:45 p.m. (25 minutes before the game) and it was shown several times on the video board.

Here is a poor photo of the video board (I zoomed in too much) with the photo above:

Our photo is second from the left on the top row of photos.  I don't think the one to the left, which says "Cutest Padres Fan!" was meant for them, but it should!

The girls were ecstatic about this and squealed every time they saw it as the game progressed.

After the 7th inning stretch, Audrey was dancing in the aisle with the sign, and she and Linda were briefly on the video board live.  They were excited.  I missed it.

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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Mining the California, County Marriages, 1850-1952 Collection on FamilySearch

I have been mining the California, County Marriages, 1850-1952 historical record collection on FamilySearch during the last week or two.  There are 1,911,081 indexed entries, and 2,480,495 images in this collection.  The collection page says it is 99% complete, but I noted that it didn't have any marriage entries for San Diego County yet.  Significantly, it has marriage records from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange, Fresno and many other counties.

I have been mining this collection for Seaver persons.  I used the "Exact" check box and found 191 matches:

When I pick one at random, say the 4th one down the screen above, there is indexed information for the two marriage partners, including the marriage date and place, and, in this case from 1911, their ages and their parents names.

For many earlier marriages (before 1900), there are no parents listed.

For some later marriages, there are marriage record images provided, such as this one:

There is an image available in the right-hand side of the screen, so I clicked on that, and after increasing the zoom of the image, saw:

I did not have Charles Henry Seaver (born 1889 in Tennessee, son of James S. Seaver and Mary Lee) in my database.  I wanted to add the marriage, so I did, and added the parents names, but then a search on FamilySearch and Ancestry did not reveal a family with James S. Seaver/Sever and Mary Seaver/Sever as parents, although there are several Charles Henry Seaver (or Charles H. Seaver/Sever) persons born in Tennessee in the 1885-1895 time period.  So now I have another loose end in my database - but other records may surface in the future that will permit me to connect James S. Seaver/Sever to a set of parents.

I did have good luck today working through the next match on the list - a Doloris Seaver who married Elton Gray; her parents were identified as Paul E. Seaver and Barbara Maibach.  I was able to trace Paul Seaver's line back to Jacob and Esther (Croberger) Seaver/Sever.  I had not added family members for four Seaver families in that line previously.

There are still many more matches to look at just for the Seaver surname in this record collection.  I need to do the same thing with my other one-name surnames - Carringer, Vaux, Auble, and McKnew.

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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

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Post Number 9000 on Genea-Musings

My motto:  "Life is short - eat ice cream and do genealogy first!"

A funny thing happened nine years and five months ago on my way to the ice cream store - I said to myself:  "Randy, maybe you could blog about something once a week or so ... about genealogy, politics, sports, religion, you, know, your life."  My wife said "Honey, that would probably be pretty boring - who in the world would read what you write?"

So the experiment began, and 9,000 posts later here I am - happily stuck in a "routine" of writing two or three or more blog posts each day about genealogy resources and results on Genea-Musings, a daily journal blog post on The Geneaholic almost every day, and occasional posts on the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe.  Then there's Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, including my almost weekly participation on video (available on YouTube) in Mondays With Myrt!  My wife wonders what I do in the Genealogy Cave every day for eight or ten hours!  Heh heh.

Oh, I forgot, there's my society meetings, society presentations, the senior adult and CVGS education classes, and I even find time to spend on online research (and very occasional repository research), entering data and sources into my genealogy database, entertaining the grandchildren and my wife, and watching Padres baseball games on TV or at Petco Park.  There is Life with Genealogy!  But, for me, there is no Life without Genealogy!  It's part of me, who I am, and has been for 27+ years.

In celebration of my 9,000th post (that's over 2.6 posts per day on average, and over 960 posts per year on average), I'm going to take the rest of the day off from ... blogging, not genealogy.  Or maybe not if there is something interesting to blog about. Tomorrow is another day.  

The statistics for nine years of blogging, from StatCounter and Blogger (it looks like SiteMeter has died):

*  1,983,328 unique visitors (StatCounter since 2006)

*  2,774,541 page views (StatCounter since 2006)

*  5,095,060 page views (Blogger, since 2010)*  15,525 comments (average of 1.7 per post, Blogger since 2007).

*  StatCounter says I had 25,158 unique visitors in August, an average of 812 per day, which may not include returning visitors day after day.
*  Blogger says I'm getting about 112,000 page views per month, or about 3,600 a day.

I don't know why StatCounter and Blogger have different page view numbers - it probably something to do with feed readers like Feedly.

Then there are the static Pages (see the links below the Genea-Musings header that continue to pile up visitors.  These count on the visitor and page totals, I think.

Thank you to my friends, geneablogging colleagues, and Genea-Musings readers for their patience, understanding, collaboration and support over the years - it's been a lot of fun, and I hope it continues for years to come.

I do appreciate your comments and emails, and will be happy to answer "Dear Randy" questions about genealogy, research, online resources, software, family trees, etc. on the blog.

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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

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Monday, August 31, 2015

FamilySearch Family Tree Rules for Entering Names

What "rules" or "guidelines" or "conventions" do you use to enter names into your genealogical program or your online family tree?

As many of us know, different cultures have different naming patterns - some with a family name first, or a family name last.  Here in the English speaking United States, we have a first-middle-last name system that usually takes the father's last name as ta child's last name, but not always.  Some children are being named with a mother's - father's last name system, like Smith-Jones.  In historical times, persons may have changed their names to Anglicize them, or to reflect adoption, or for other reasons.  How do we deal with this in our research?

I decided I wanted to see if my naming "rules" were as consistent as possible with the FamilySearch Family Tree.  When I looked at my RootsMagic file, I see first names like "male" or "child" or "unknown," and last names like "Unknown" or "_____" or LNU."

1)  FamilySearch has created a set of Family Tree tutorials at that has a Level One section titled "Reading Tutorial, Rules for Entering Names."

These rules seem pretty reasonable, but I have some problems with them.

2)  I am in the process of eliminating all of the "unknown" first and last names, especially for married females, that have popped up over the years in my database.  What should I replace them with?  There are some choices:

**  The rules above say to name a married female "Mrs. Mary Last" when you know her first name but not her maiden last name,
**  The rules above say to name a married female "Mrs. First Last" when you don't know either name, and her husband's name is "First Last."
**  If the married female's given name is unknown, then name her "Mrs. Last" if her husband's last name is "Last."

**  When the parent's names are known, but a daughter's given name is not known, just use the last name.
**  When the parent's names are known, but a son's given name is not known, just use the last name.

3)  Some questions are raised by these "rules" including:

** What about if I know only the husband's first name, like a Scandinavian patronymic?  Do I just use that?
**  I guess a husband whose first name is unknown is entered just as "Last."
**  It feels funny to list a second wife as "Mrs. First Last" when I don't know her maiden name.

4)  I'm not satisfied with the Family Tree naming rules, but I don't have a clear set of rules for my own family tree.  

When I encounter a record with a different name for a person in my database, I enter that name as an "Alternate Name" and source it to the record.  That includes name vairations like Randall Jeffrey Seaver, Randall J. Seaver, R.J. Seaver, R. Jeffrey Seaver, Randy Seaver, Randy Jeff Seaver, etc.  Everything but "hey, you" it seems!  I try to make the preferred name the most complete name, or the name with the most authoritative source.

But then there are the immigrant names that have been Anglicized -- like Philip Jacob Konig (I know, I need the diacriticals too!) with the German name in some records and the surname King in other records because he was called that name. I have entered that as "Konig/King."  Then there is my Richman family in England who quickly adopted Richmond in America after immigrating in 1855.  I have ancestors in England with Latin names in the baptism records, but they were the English equivalent in other records and in common use.   I'm not consistent, it seems!

5)  What other naming conventions are there?  How do you handle these variations?  There must be reference books with recommendations for names.  I think the software programs have naming conventions also.

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