Saturday, December 2, 2006
I found only two books on my "books I want to review" list in the catalog, so I started with them. There were several entries for Seaver people in the Boston cemetery records. I went browsing and found that they had the second volume of the Bristol County (MA) probate records, for 1745-1780 (I think, I don't have my notes handy). I used Volume 1 last year to track down the abstracts and the probate record volumes for many Bristol County ancestors. Perusing Volume 2, I found data for another 6 ancestors, so now I can order the records at the FHC next time I visit there.
Having had some success browsing, I looked then for Plymouth County probates, and found a book that covered up to about 1690. I used my list of Plymouth County ancestors (including those who were in areas now in other counties) to determine if they had probate records, and the probate record volume/page numbers for them. Many of these were transcribed in "The Mayflower Descendant" volumes in the early 20th century, and those references were noted also.
Now I need to update my lists of Bristol and Plymouth County ancestors to get the right probate volume/page info and to update my status of the search - whether I have copied the pages and if I have transcribed them.
Lastly, I had not reviewed the last year of the periodicals at the Carlsbad library, so I took some time browsing through many that I don't subscribe to - like NYGBR, GSNJ, Western PA, RI Roots, Cape Cod, etc.
Then it was off to find Linda, check into the hotel, take a nap, have a nice dinner, watch TV, post a blog item, and snuggle a bit. Today, we got up late, had a nice late breakfast, took a ride around Carlsbad, ended up at the beach where we walked and got our feet wet (it was 75 F today), watched the kids and dogs at a park, and came back to the hotel. Linda is in the pool while I blog, and a nap beckons, I think.
Friday, December 1, 2006
1) Books I want to buy
2) Books I want to review for content, and the surnames to look for in them. I review each magazine and journal I receive for books to add to my list. When I go to a repository, I note if it has the book.
3) For a given surname, the online databases that I want to review and explore.
4) For a given locality, the online databases that I want to review and explore.
5) Web sites to visit, review and explore. I review each magazine or journal I receive for interesting web sites.
6) A to-do list for each repository I visit.
7) A to-do list for each surname, surname group or locality that I'm actively searching.
This system gives me some record of where I've looked and what I've found. The challenge is to keep adding items to the book each time I do some research online or at a repository, and to note what I find and where I found it.
I keep this notebook of lists - on forms on paper - right next to the computer so I can add to it when I have a worthy thought. I take it with me to the library, and make notes on the forms as appropriate. I can investigate the web sites either at home, at a repository, or on the road with the laptop.
All of this is on top of carrying with me in a separate notebook my ahnentafel lists, my elusive ancestor forms, and tables of sources already searched for each surname and locality.
What lists do you make? Tell me about them - if I like the idea I'll add it to my book.
My problem all fall has been "what to get her for her birthday?" And then for Christmas. Back in the summer, she lamented that she couldn't access her email while I was doing my endless genealogy work on the desktop computer in the "genea-cave" at home. So I said, thinking logically, "how about getting a laptop so you can read your email from your bed?" She said "that would be great! We could take it on vacation with us too." So I said, smiling broadly, "OK, I'll get it for you for your birthday."
And I did -- then when I mentioned it she said "well, you're the one that's going to use it the most, so I want something else for my birthday." OK, I said "what about a wireless network for the house?" She was not amused -- so now the laptop and wireless network are "our" Christmas presents (in her mind, I think it means they are "my" Christmas presents - that's OK!).
Angel Linda collects angels, so now I'm thinking I'll get her a nightgown that reads "I collect angels, my husband thinks I began with him." Or a T-shirt that reads "I'm Married to a Sexy Genealogist."
We will probably go shopping this weekend for her birthday and Christmas. The fallback gifts are, of course, jewelry and clothes. Gift certificates too. Tiffany's is calling, I think.
Any help out there? What do you get for the Angel Wife that has everything?
Thursday, November 30, 2006
The puzzle is:
On June 1st, five couples who live in Trumbull will celebrate their wedding anniversaries. Their surnames are Johnstone, Parker, Watson, Graves, and Shearer. The husbands' given names are Russell, Douglas, Charles, Peter, and Everett. The wives' given names are Elaine, Joyce, Marcia, Elizabeth, and Mildred.
Keep in mind that no two couples have been married the same number of years. From the clues given, try to determine the husband and wife that make up each couple and the number of years they have been married.
* Joyce has not been married as long as Charles or the Parkers, but longer than Douglas or the Johnstones.
* Elizabeth has been married twice as long as the Watsons, but only half as long as Russell.
* The Shearers have been married ten years longer than Peter and ten years less than Marcia.
* Douglas and Mildred have been married for 25 years less than the Graves who, having been married for 30 years, are the couple who have been married the longest.
* Neither Elaine nor the Johnstones have been married the shortest amount of time.
* Everett has been married for 25 years.
Dan will publish the solution to this puzzle on 1 January 2007.
Can you figure it out? How long did it take?
Hat tip to Dick Eastman for publicizing this.
The topic that caught my eye today in the "Hot Topics" category was "Monopoly?" by Diane Haddad. Her note read:
Is there a monopoly in genealogy? Does it matter? How do you maximize your choices in the online database business? After reading the February 2007 Family Tree Magazine special report on the genealogy industry, post your comments here.
My response was:
Why wait until I've read the February 2007 FTM article?
My opinion is that there are several major players in the online genealogy industry, and probably more to appear in the years ahead. There was a significant merging over the last several years as MyFamily gobbled up Genealogy.com and Rootsweb and merged them into Ancestry. The appearance of WorldVitalRecords (with a goal of being the 2nd biggest online provider of genealogy content) and the goal of the LDS FamilySearch FHL to digitize and index the FHLC microform records (and make them available, apparently for free) in the last six months indicates that there is lots of competition ahead.
There are other web sites, free and subscription, that provide significant content for research (e.g., LDS FHL, Rootsweb, USGenWeb, Ellis Island, HeritageQuestOnline, NEHGS, NYGBR, NGS). There are many web sites that aggregate the available data by subject also.
A monopoly? I don't think so - not right now. It looks like a healthy competitive industry from my keypad.
Does it matter? It would if there was a monopoly entity that raised prices significantly or restricted access. I think competition will prevent that from happening - to the corporations, it's a business that will be treated as a business - profit and loss. Mergers will happen. New companies will form in response to the market. Current companies will offer freebies with limited time or limited access to attract new subscribers.
I maximize my choices in the online database business by using the free services available online, at the FHC and at local libraries, subscribing to organizations with content that I "need" to have to support my research (Ancestry, NEHGS, NGS), and critically evaluate new online offerings to see if I want to use or subscribe to them.
How about you - do you think there is a monopoly in online genealogy content? Tell me about it, and check out the FTM forums.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
One of my biggest long-term blunders in pursuing my family history and ancestry concerns the father of Elizabeth Horton (Dill) Smith. My case study of my elusive Elizabeth is here. Briefly, there are two death records for Elizabeth Horton (Dill) Smith, one in Leominster MA (where she died in 1869 at the home of her daughter, Lucretia (Smith) Seaver) and one in Medfield MA (where she lived from 1822 to the 1860's). The Leominster record says her parents were Thomas Dill and Mary Horton. The Medfield record says her parents were Jabez Dill and Mary Horton. Both records say she was born in Eastham MA on Cape Cod. Her age at death computes to 19 May 1794 as a birth date.
The blunder here was pursuing a phantom father for Elizabeth from about 1990 to 2005. When I found the Leominster death record in the Massachusetts VRs on microfilm at the FHC, I did not make a copy of the record. I transcribed it. Without magnification, the father's name looked like HEMAN Dill, so that's what I wrote down. So I looked for a Heman Dill in Eastham records for a long time. There was one, but he was born after Elizabeth was.
It was only when the Massachusetts VRs came online at the NEHGS web site www.newenglandancestors.org that I found my mistake. I saved the image of the record, and then magnified it about 8 times and, sure enough, it looks like THOMAS Dill. If you write the names HEMAN and THOMAS in cursive, you can see how the error could be made.
At our CVGS Research Group, I passed around an 8x10 copy of the death record image and asked people to read the name. The vote was 10 to 2 for Thomas, but they could understand how I could have made the mistake back in 1990. When I showed them the magnified name, they all saw THOMAS, and they marveled that a researcher with my reputation and skills (ahem!) could have made the mistake.
The first lesson here is that we should try to see the original record, and get a legible copy of it. The original record is in the Leominster MA vital record book, not in the Massachusetts VRs.
The second lesson here is that we should revisit our "problem children" case studies once in awhile, and get fresh eyes and minds to review our case study to offer suggestions.
I still haven't solved my problem, as shown in my case study. There are two derivative records with secondary information of equal value with two different fathers, but both records list the mother as Mary Horton. The only Elizabeth Dill I've identified in the Eastham records that fits the approximate birth date was born on 9 May 1791 in Eastham to Thomas and Hannah (Horton) Dill.
So I have a lot of conflicting indirect evidence that I haven't been able to resolve - the father's name, mother's name and birth year are in conflict with each other. If I had read the death records correctly in 1990, I would have had another 15 years to stew over it!
Using this resource, I've found many articles about my Seaver, Richmond and Hildreth families of Leominster MA in The Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel newspaper. For example:
On 27 December 1932: "Edward Seaver, student at Columbia university, is passing the holidays with his parents Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Seaver, 20 Hall Street."
On 1 July 1933: “Seaver Will Filed” Worcester, July 1 – "The will of Nellie M. Seaver of Leomnster, who died June 26, has been filed in probate court by Atty. J. Ward Healey. There are bequests of $1000 each to nephews Frederic T. Blanchard of Los Angeles, Laurence C. Blanchard of National City, Calif., and Frederick W. Seaver of Leominster, and $250 to another nephew, Harry C. Seaver of Leominster, and a like amount to a niece, Edith J. Russell of Orlando, Fla. * All furniture, jewelry and wearing apparel of the testatrix is left to Cathryn Morse of South Acton, and the will directs that residue be divided equally among Emma E. Seaver of Fitchburg, Cathryn Morse, Ida W. Preble of Somerville, Alice P. Carpenter of Leominster, Nellie M. Emerton of Leominster, and Lillian A. Emerton of Leominster. * There is no indication as to the value of the estate. Miss Seaver was a retired school teacher." [Note that * denotes a new paragraph.]
On 29 January 1934: "Fred Seaver of Leominster is playing center on the basketball team at Worcester Academy."
On 7 October 1937: "An automobile owned by Fred Seaver, 65 Pleasant Street, Leominster was stolen from 80 Atlantic Avenue, Monday night, was found abandoned in front of 1231 Main street, last night, bearing the number plate which had been removed from an automobile registered to Arthur H. Bussiere, 571 Ashburnham street."
The frustration is that the search for words on each page provides too many hits that are not useful. For instance, if I search for "fred seaver" the search results in all pages that have the words "fred" and "seaver" on the same page. Thus, I had to plow through about 100 hits in the Fitchburg paper to find about 30 with "fred seaver" together - my father's and grandfather's name. Common names result in hundreds or thousands of hits for a given paper.
I do greatly appreciate the availability of these newspaper records and that there is any sort of index. It would be very difficult to search these papers line-by-line and page-by-page, even if I knew the event date I was looking for. I probably would not have found the last item above without the index.
I used this data to put a page and one-half in my family newsletter with just the wedding announcements for my Seaver aunts and uncle. There is a great deal of data in some of them - names of friends and relatives.
This newspaper data is sort of a Forrest Gump deal - you never know what family history goodies you are going to get.
Another article appeared in The Guardian (UK) newspaper on 14 November in response to the Zoe Williams article - the Dan Waddell article is here. His thesis is that:
So, researching your ancestry is an impediment to understanding the past? That's absurd. It encourages people to engage with history and immerse themselves in the events that shaped our society. The vast majority of us are descended from
ordinary working-class folk. These were the people who fought and were killed in wars; who were forced by circumstance into the workhouse; who worked in the mills or were sent down the mines aged 10. And who exactly does Williams believe comprised the "radicals, grassroots movements, that sort of thing"?
Read the whole article. Frankly, I thought that readers Tim, Cathy, James, Dana and Miriam did a great job of defining their reasons for pursuing genealogy and family history in their comments here. Too bad Dan didn't read them first when he responded!
Thanks to Schelly at the Tracing the Tribe blog for pointing to this article.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
This is a tremendous time spender, but fascinating. You can pick one of the topics along the top of the "map" and certain blocks of the map light up. By running your cursor over the block, a small picture of the item in the Smithsonian collection is shown in the left hand window.
The easiest access is through their new web site, http://www.ellisislandexperience.com. You can click on the link at the bottom of the video window and search the collection. Or you can choose to see some of the Ellis Island experience stills and videos and the interactive screens. It is extremely well done.
I am suffering from Genealogy Infoglut - too much information, in paper or digital form, hiding in plain sight, with no quick and effective means to find it and retrieve it. How in the world do people deal with all of this? Especially after almost 20 years of "collecting dead ancestors" and the papers that document them. I guess many don't try, but I'm sure many of you, my dear readers, have the same problem.
Let me describe my "holdings:"
1) 4 bookcases with notebooks containing the paper portion of my genealogy files.
2) A 5th bookcase with all of the family photo albums.
3) On top of 3 of the bookcases are a box of correspondence and unfiled research papers (mostly deeds and probates not yet in the databases), stacks of genealogy magazines and newsletters, and genealogy books.
4) 3 file cabinets with supplies, manuscripts, family papers and photos.
5) 5 boxes with CVGS papers and notes, notebooks with my presentations and notebooks with magazine articles of interest.
6) The desk has the computer system with several stacks of papers and tools, and the drawers are filled with computer disks, manuals and cables, stamps, coins for copies, and assorted papers and tools from my work life.
7) In the computer are about 25 gb of genealogy data - software, databases, genealogy reports, correspondence, data images (census, newspaper, vitals, etc), web pages, e-books and e-magazines, etc.
You get the idea, and I imagine most of you have the same sort of "stuff" in your genealogy office. It seems like the more stuff I collect, the harder it is to find what I need. And the magazines, periodicals, data images, and saved web pages just keep on coming.
How should I deal with it? I guess I could take a year or two and scan all of the useful pieces of paper into the computer, organized by surname or locality. I could donate all the books, magazines and periodicals to CVGS or SDGS where I could find them if needed (and if they retained them). I could triage all of this stuff into "keep, save or trash" piles. But none of that is "fun" by my standards. At worst, my kids will do the triage after I pass on into the next life.
It got so crowded in my "cave" recently that I stored the Dell box, with the new laptop computer in it, at the end of the desk and my wife never knew it! (It was supposed to be her birthday present, but now it is "our" Christmas present to ourselves. I'm thinking of giving her the wireless network for Christmas now.)
What about you? How do you handle your genealogy infoglut? Please tell me about what works for you -- before one of these genea-piles falls and pins me to the floor with fatal consequences.
I've been searching for content to put in my family newsletter, so I Googled <"dark day" "new england" 1780 > and quickly found a page from Weather Almanac here.
The "Dark Day in 1780" was a result of forest fires, probably in the woods of New Hampshire or Maine. The effects of the fire were felt over a wide area:
"As the extraordinary darkness descended, those observing it wondered if it was a local phenomenon or more widespread. With no rapid communication networks in place, the only way to determine the extent of the darkening was through letters and newspapers from across the region. After the event, Professor Samuel Williams of Harvard College undertook the collection of such information from across the region. He was able to determine that notice of the darkness was taken as far south as northern New Jersey and New York City coastal waters, as far north as Portland, Maine and west into the Hudson Valley, but no mention came from Philadelphia or outlying Pennsylvania. (The New Jersey report came from George Washington's diary at Morristown.) Williams concluded the dark centre of the event was located around northeastern Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and southwestern Maine."
Read the whole article - it's a good compilation from a number of sources.
So now I know. And my family members will also know (assuming they read it!).
Monday, November 27, 2006
In the 1910 census, "Sante Claus" was age 23, single, a farm laborer, living as a hired man in the household of David Fleshman in Liberty township, Saline County, MO (NARA T624, Roll 823, ED 172, Page 4A).
In the 1920 census, "Santy Clause" (age 31, single, a boarder) resided with his brother Earl Clause in Blackwater township, Pettis County, MO (NARA T625, Roll 939, ED 125, Page 4B).
In the 1930 census, "Santa Claus" (age 42, married, first at age 24, born in MO, a laborer, works in river construction) resided in Marshall township, Saline County, MO with his wife Mabel Claus (age 36, married, first at age 18 in MO), son William Claus (age 15, brn MO), son Raymond Claus (age 12, born CO), son Fred Claus (age 9, born MO), son Joseph Claus (age 6, born MO), son James Claus (age 3, born MO) and daughter Dorthy Claus (age 0, born MO) (NARA T626, Roll 1246, ED 20, Page 12A).
Michael John Neill at his http://www.rootdig.com/ blog has census images for Santa Claus (with different spellings) for the 1900, 1920 and 1930 census.
Notice that son Raymond Claus was born in Colorado, not Missouri. And also note that Santa was in Missouri in the 1920 census listed as single, but he obviously had a wife and children in 1920 if the 1930 census records are correct.
There is more:
"Santy Clause" registered for the World War I draft on 5 June 1917 in Prowers County, Colorado. He was age 29, born 4 April 1888 in Marshall MO, a natural born US citizen, caucasian, married with two children. He was a farmer, and resided in Lamar, Route A, Prowers County, Colorado. He was medium height, medium build, blue eyes, light brown har, and no disabilities, and had no previous military service.
I was unable to find Mabel Claus or the two children William and Raymond in the 1920 census - perhaps someone else would like to try! My best guess is that they may be in Colorado then, or back in Saline County MO.
One last bit of data: Members of the Clause family are buried in Blue Lick Union Church Cemetery in Saline County, Missouri. The list includes:
Donna Clause (died 3 Oct 1942, age 0-4-24)
Earl Clause (1894-1940)
Helen F. Clause (1919-1955)
Henrietta S. Clause (18__-1915)
Minnie Mabel Clause ("mother," 1894-1944)
Raymond E. Clause (1917-1971)
Santa Clause ("Father," 1888-1957)
Silvina Clause (1877-1964)
William Clause (1856-1917)
So, to summarize:
"Santa Claus" was born 4 April 1887 or 1888 in Marshall, Saline County, MO, the son of William and Henrietta (--?--) Claus. He married Minnie Mabel --?-- in about 1912 and had at least 6 children, and was a laborer in river construction in 1930. He died in 1957 and is buried in Saline County, Missouri.
This Santa Claus is, unfortunately, not coming to town soon - he's dead and buried in Missouri. It doesn't appear that he could possibly be the jolly purveyor of toys and good cheer with a big belly and long white beard who lives with his unnamed wife and elves and 9 reindeer at the North Pole, does it? Don't tell the kids.
Isn't it amazing what you can find on the Internet with lots of spare time on your hands?
We had 11 members share - all the way from long-time members down to one of our newest members (who joined in October). There was a tremendous variety of remarks - from pure research experience to vacation summaries. Here are my summary of each person:
1) Bobbie (new member in 2006) - found immigration records for her German great-grandparents, and found much French-Canadian data while searching for, and finding, a Native American link.
2) Barbara - found data on her biological grandfather in World War I draft registrations and marriage certificate.
3) Martha - found probate records in South Carolina for her RevWar ancestor.
4) Kathy (new member in 2006) - connected with cousin through Internet with 11 generations of family
5) Shirley - found 1850 to 1880 census data for a previously elusive family with four different surname spellings - added a generation of ancestors.
6) John - found land record in PA for an ancestor, then googled the surname and found cousin with two published books, which extended his line 3 more generations.
7) Randy - started a genealogy blog, organized a successful workshop, found many probate records in MA and RI, got a lead on parents of an elusive ancestor, and visited New England to visit relatives, take pictures and drive through Maine, NH, VT and MA looking at the foliage.
8) Bill - received an email from somebody who found a letter with his surname in a purchased used book. He also vacationed in NC and found connections.
9) Helen - vacationed in Philadelphia and found lots of info on her ancestor, James Wilson, a Declaration signer and Supreme Court Justice.
10) Jan - visited the National Archives, DAR, and Colonial Dames libraries in Washington DC and found RevWar connections.
11) Penny (new member in 2006) - received a letter from a distant cousin (who did not respond to her 1993 letter earlier) who provided lots of data and introduced her to cousins in CA and WA.
Our members enjoy these sharing times because they reveal experiences and research tips, in addition to providing insight into their research problems. Several connections were made between members who had suggestions on further research.
Yours truly was elected President of CVGS for the next two years, and very capable people were elected for the officer positions. Our challenge will be to continue the excellent programs, to find ways to help our members in their research, and to not mess up a really good thing.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
On the "Family Facts" page, you can input a surname, and find out the:
1) the numbers of and names of Civil War soldiers
2) the number of immigrants by year for 1851 to 1891 from the NY Passenger Lists
3) life expectancy from 1945 to 2005 from the SSDI
4) surname distribution in England and Wales by county in 1891
5) surname distribution in the US by state for 1840, 1880 and 1920
6) name meanings for a given name and a surname
7) newspaper headlines from a certain decade - with a link for the surname in Ancestry's Historical Newspaper collection
8) top occupations from the 1880 US census
9) place of origin for the surname from the NY Passenger Lists
10) ports of departure for the surname from the NY Passenger lists
If you have an interest in these things, you can check out the different Family Facts for your surnames, but you will need an Ancestry subscription to see the actual records. I will probably use some of this information in my family newsletter.