Saturday, March 10, 2007

Changes at Genea-Musings

I've made some changes recently to the Genea-Musings format. Have you noticed? I was tired of the old colors, so I messed around in the template until I found some I liked.

I also updated my Blogroll to add some of the genealogy blogs that have come online, or that I've belatedly found, in recent months. There is no particular order to the list - I am still doing this in the old Blogger template (Blogger offers moving to the new easier-to-use template, but it means entering all the links again) by cutting and pasting URLs and typing the blog owner and blog name.

Chris Dunham's Blogfinder has over 500 genealogy blogs on it, but many are dormant. I have 108 now on my account - that's how I keep up with my colleagues in the genealogy blogging universe.

If you are actively blogging on genealogy (meaning more than one post a week) and you want to be added to my blogroll, please let me know by commenting on this post. Please let me know also if a link doesn't work so I can fix it, or if a genealogy blog has gone dormant so that I can remove it from my list.

Googling for Cornelia's parents

I did a bit of Googling for the Bresee (and variant spellings) family today. I found a few flakes, but not the gold nugget.

1) Googling for "cornelia bresee" pulls up 10 hits, most of them mine.

2) I tried the surnames Bresee, Brezee, Brazie, Brazee, Brissee, Brusie, Bries, Brees and Breese in combination with the word "family" and got many hits (of course!). Most of the ones that referred to the family were my own musings on this blog. Many of the other hits were for modern day people and their businesses or schools or other activities.

3) Then I tried surname and locality combinations like "bresee family claverack" (or the localities "hillsdale," "copake," "linlithgo," "kinderhook," "livingston," "schodack," "greenbush," "stockbridge," "rensselaer," and "columbia"). These yielded several message board posts on Genforum and archived mailing list posts on Rootsweb.

By far the most informative and interesting post I found on the mailing list was at This gave a great history of the Bresee surname and followed one line from immigration to Albany to Livingston to western Massachusetts, including some forgotten history about the Gore - land in dispute between Mass and New York in this area. Here is an excerpt of it:

"The New York colony had made a grant to certain Dutchmen of New York for the same lands that the Massachusetts Bay Colony granted to the English, known as the Patent of Westenbook (the New York Colony's name for the Housantonic River). The Dutch claimed the territory as far east as the Housantonic River. This land between the Housantonic and Hudson Rivers was in dispute for nearly a hundred years.

"On May 7, 1757 a party of men from Livingston Manor, New York pulled down and burned the buildings of six families including those of brothers Christopher and Hendrick Bresee. This may have been done for the lack of payment of rent. After the burning most of the families moved and settled on the easterly side of the Taconic Range.

"Christopher and Hendrick Bresee came to West Stockbridge, Mass. where in 1766 Christopher purchased land from the Indian, Mhtocksin, on the uppermost banks of the Seekonk River (now Alford Brook) that extended south and east. In 1785 Hendrick died to befollowed by Christopher in 1789. "

If only I could find several more posts with that kind of detail!

I found many records in the IGI concerning the Bresee families in Berkshire County MA, and have included them in my database.

The major lesson I've learned in this particular exercise is that the archived Rootsweb mailing lists are searched by Google. It is definitely easier to search them using Google than by going to the archived mailing lists and searching one year at a time in a particular list. With Google, you get results from all of the boards based on your search terms.

SDGS Meeting today - Gene Cheney

The San Diego Genealogical Society meeting was today. The programs are usually longer than the one hour presentations you get at most societies. SDGS has structured their day so that, after a brief introduction, the speaker does about 45 minutes of program; then there is a 15 minute break for a snack and drink; then about 10 minutes of society news from the President (Peter Steelquist) and a raffle (usually more than one book or CD - there were two books and two software programs today); finally, the speaker goes for another 45 to 60 minutes.

This schedule facilitates longer programs on one topic, or two separate programs by the same speaker, or by two different speakers.

Gene Cheney from Hemet in Riverside County (about 80 miles north) was the program speaker today - his topics were "Netherlands Research" and "New England Research."

I missed the first half of the Netherlands talk, but the part I heard was excellent. He summarized the availability of records in the Netherlands - they are the most complete genealogical records in Europe. The church records (late 1500-s to 1810) and civil registration records (after 1810) are fairly complete, and the LDS Family History Library has all of them (into the 1900's) on microfilm or microfiche. Gene also mentioned the naming patterns for Dutch children. He then showed some of the online resources - web sites like and . A good list of Dutch web sites can be found at
and the LDS Research Guide for the Netherlands is at

The second presentation was on New England Research, which is an awfully large topic. Gene showed maps of the different states, their counties and townships, and discussed migration routes and settlement patterns. He noted that there are town records for almost all of the towns back to the founding of the colonies. The state Vital Records start in the 1800's, and are available at state libraries or the LDS FHLibrary microfilms. Gene showed a number of resource books for each state, most of which will be on the shelf at a decent genealogy library. The only one that I wasn't familiar with was the Ricker compilation of CT vital and other records, which is fairly recent.

Gene told a number of stories about his ancestors, especially in New England. These help "humanize" the records search. His speaking style is folksy and extemporaneous, and it is effective because he has a wealth of experience and knowledge to draw from. He is the Director of the Hemet FHC, a professional genealogist, a teacher of genealogy at Mt. San Jacinto College, and Southern California Family History Advisor for the LDS Church.

This was a great meeting - I wish I had been there at the beginning.

Funny names in the census - St. Patrick's Day edition

I browsed through the 1920 census on the other day looking for funny or strange names to help celebrate St. Patrick's Day and Irish names.

There is a rich selection:

* Patrick Ireland resided in Matagorda County TX (born in Texas - who knew?)

* There are 87 females named Rose Ireland - many born in Ireland.

* St. Lester Patrick resided in Hillsborough county NH (born in Canada)

* Patrick Patrick resided in Macon County AL (born AL)

* Patrick Fitz Patrick resided in Queens County NY (born in Ireland)

* Paddy Green resided in Lucas County OH (born Ireland)

* Green Kelley resided in Hudson County NJ (born Ireland)

* There are 64 males named Patrick Green born in Ireland.

* Daniel Boy resided in Cuyahoga County OH (born in Russia)

* Daniel Erin Ireland resided in Wyandotte County KS (born in KS)

* Patrick Luck resided in Kings County NY (born in Ireland)

There were no people in the census with the surname of Leprechaun, but there were many with the surname Irish, Ireland, Green, Clover, etc.

Not being Irish, or having known Irish ancestry, or much experience researching in Ireland - I don't know all of the legends and songs that might provide more names to search. I considered going for city and county names - Cork, Dublin, Shannon, Limerick, etc.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Searching Rootsweb Freepages for surname data

One of the items on my "research to do" list for searching online resources for Bresee/variants surname data was to search the Freepages and Homepages submissions at If someone else has gathered information about this surname, and have posted it online at Rootsweb, I want to read it and evaluate it.

Another item on my list was to search the USGenWeb Archives for Bresee/variant surnames.

The searches I performed included:

1) At the site, I clicked on the Rootsweb Freepages link near the top of the page under Websites. This took me to the list of initial letters (A through Z) for the submitted databases, and I selected B for Bresee. I then did an [Edit] [find] for "bresee" and other variants. I found no specific submitted databases with Bresee/variants in their title. I could have gone through every letter in the alphabet, but I figured that searching the content of the databases would be better than searching the titles.

2) At the site, I clicked on the "Index of all Search Engines and Databases" link under the Search Engines and Databases section near the bottom of the page. The best way to search the Freepages and Homepages for surnames or keywords is to click on the "Search Thingy" link under the Our Most Popular Search Links section.

Inputting the surname "bresee" into the search box results in 131 databases on the Rootsweb site, ordered by the number of times the term is used in each database. Unfortunately, only one database has 2 occasions of Bresee, and the others have only 1 occasion. After looking through some of the sites, I decided that there were no extensive Freepages or Homepages with Bresee surname data.

This search engine also finds entries in the USGenWeb archives. Again, there were no significant (more than one) entries in any of the databases.

The same results held for the Brazie/Brazee/Bries/Brees/etc. surnames - there were no significant entries in the Rootsweb databases.

I decided to see if wild cards worked in this search engine. They do not. It ignores a wild card.

These Rootsweb resources are excellent when you can find information about your surname. I can cross those two entries off my "to-do" list.

If you haven't used these resources before, you might use these directions to determine of other researchers have submitted data for your surnames.

The Genealogy Research Process

Lee Anders' first new post at her new blog The Amateurologist is about The Research Process. She links to the Roots Television 26 episode video series that does a great job of defining the process. She also links to some articles that go into significant detail - I found the Jamie McKenzie article very interesting - it brought back memories of engineering school!

For beginning genealogists, the 26 step program at Roots Television is very worthwhile viewing. They use wonderful examples to demonstrate the forms and techniques used.

Read Lee's article and follow her links.

Sign up for a free trip to Ireland has offered a free trip to Ireland for one subscriber (three other people, seven days, six nights) to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. The link to the entry form is at

If you have an Ancestry subscription (either paid or free, having submitted a family tree at some time in the past) then you can easily enter the contest. If you are not a subscriber, and have not submitted a tree, you will probably have to submit a tree. I did that some time ago - put in one name and now I have a tree on Ancestry!

My sense is that this is just the latest method that Ancestry has come up with to find more potential subscribers. You gotta do what you gotta do in the world of competitive genealogy commerce - I appreciate Ancestry's offer. Competition from other commercial sites (WorldVitalRecords, footnote, GenealogyBank, etc) is a wonderful thing!

I hesitated posting about this, because the more entries they get, the lower are my chances of winning. But I thought that awareness of the contest outweighed my own personal interests. If my post leads the eventual winner to join the contest, I would really appreciate tagging along on the trip! If I win the contest, who are my new best friends?

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Hop over to Gene-Frog

I was browsing through Cyndi Howell's New genealogy web sites list and found this one -


The web page says:

You don't have to start at the beginning with family history.

Let's face it, you probably have no idea where the beginning is!

So start anywhere, leap into family history with ....

GeneFrog (with a hopping green frog .gif )

It's very attractive, with a good motif. Follow the links and read the site. Some of the resource links go to

Cute. Kind of breezy and fun. Green. Fun. Cool. Somewhat informative.

A new genealogy blog - The Amateurologist

Steve found a new Genea-blog from an old friend -- THE AMATEUROLOGIST, found at

The sub-title says "BECAUSE NOBODY PAYS ME TO HUNT DEAD PEOPLE" Nice! Welcome back to the genea-blogging world, Lee.

Go visit and comment.

Thanks for the heads up, Steve.

The LDS IGI - a Gold Mine of Data

I have used the LDS International Genealogical Index (IGI) from the beginning of my research. It is a gold mine of data on births, christenings, and marriages.

Unfortunately, there is some "fool's gold" in this database, and a researcher needs to be careful in accepting each piece of information.

With experience, I learned to accept data extractions (from church records, town records, etc) as very likely accurate (but subject to transcription errors). I consider data submissions (from an LDS member who obtained it from some source, or made it up) as possibly accurate, yet always suspect. However, if data submissions have a date and location, then I may accept them as probably accurate.

I also realize that not every birth or marriage before 1900 is entered into the IGI. There are many locations where birth and marriage data does not exist as official records, and many families that do not have LDS members as descendants.

How can you tell if an item is an extraction or a submission? You look at the Messages section at the bottom of the web page and check the Source Information section (by clicking on the microfilm number). There are three examples below:

1) For the IGI entry for a Cornelia Bresee (christening on 17 Jan 1768, Linlithgo, Columbia, NY) has the following in the Messages section (at the bottom of the entry web page):

"Record submitted by a member of the LDS Church. The record often shows the name of the individual and his or her relationship to a descendant, shown as the heir, family representative, or relative. The original records are not indexed, and you may have to look at the film frame-by-frame to find the information you want. A family group record for this couple may be in the Family Group Record Collection; Archive Section. (See the Family History Library Catalog for the film number.) These records are alphabetical by name of the father or husband."

The Source Information (clicking on the microfilm number 0,184,265) for this record is:

"Salt Lake City temple endowments for the dead, 1893-1970; heir indexes, 1924-1956; baptisms for the dead, 1941-1970, 1893-1970, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake Temple"

While this is a submitted record, it does have a date and a location for the record - and it is a christening record, which means that someone found it in a church record book of some sort - the original, a microfilm copy or a transcription or abstract. I trust that this record is very likely correct, and I should be able to find a record to support the IGI entry.

2) The IGI entry for a Cornelia Bresee (born about 1766, New York, married to David Coon 1784 in Rensselaer County NY) has the following Messages:

"Record submitted after 1991 by a member of the LDS Church. No additional information is available. Ancestral File may list the same family and the submitter."

The Source Information section says:

"No source information is available."

This record may be accurate - it is impossible to check because there is no Source listed. In this case, I don't trust the information on this record unless there is another independent record that supports it.

3) The IGI record for a Cornelia Bresee (christened 18 August 1775 in Saint John's Lutheran Church, Manorton, Columbia, NY) is an extracted record. The Message says:

"Extracted birth or christening record for the locality listed in the record. The source records are usually arranged chronologically by the birth or christening date. "

The Source Information for the record is :

Batch No.: C503921
Dates: 1765-1872
Source Call No.: 974.739 N1 V26B
Type: Book
Printout Call No.: 0933984
Type: Film

Sheet: 00

There are six sources on this microfilm 0,933,984, including:

"Item 3 St. John's Lutheran Church, Manorton, New York computer printout, births and christenings, 1765-1872 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Department"

By renting the microfilm at my FHC, I can find record of this christening. Note that this is a computer printout - in other words, a transcription of the original record.

I have high confidence that this record is accurate, and subject only to possibly transcriptions errors. I don't think that someone made up this record.


Do you agree with my assessment of these records? Which ones should I include in my Bresee database (remembering that I'm looking for possibly family ties and not trying to "prove" the relationships yet)?

Searching for Cornelia in the IGI

For my Cornelia Bresee project, I have been "data mining" in the IGI. There are quite a few records for a Cornelia Bresee born in the Albany NY area between 1760 and 1800. Unfortunately, none of the entries match the birth date I have for Cornelia (5 December 1780, obtained from a WorldConnect database record - source unknown). That means any or some of five things has occurred:

1) The birth date I have may be wrong - my Cornelia Bresee may have been born sometime between 1770 (youngest child born 1817) and 1780 (oldest child born about 1797).

2) My Cornelia may be one of the two Cornelia Bresee entries in the IGI born in Columbia County NY in 1775 (quite possible), or even one of the two born in the mid-1760's (less likely due to the children birth years.

3) The birth or christening of my Cornelia Bresee was not entered into the IGI database.

4) There may be a birth or baptism record for my Cornelia Bresee hiding in a church or town record that has not been extracted by the LDS or submitted by an LDS member. The challenge in this case is to find the record.

5) There may be no birth or baptism record of my Cornelia Bresee in any town or church resource. In that case, I'm out of luck and will have to find other records to find her parents (deeds, probates, etc.). I recognize that I may never find her parents.

I am operating on the assumptions that there is a record for her birth or baptism, that the birth date I have is reasonably accurate, and that she was born to a family living in Rensselaer or Columbia Counties NY (mainly because she was married in Schodack township in Rensselaer County, but right next to Columbia County - according to the WorldConnect database). However, I may be wrong, and therefore am trying to collect as much information as possible on candidate families for Cornelia.

In everything I've found so far on the Internet, there are many Cornelia's in the Bresee/variants family line in Albany/Greene/Columbia Counties up to 1800, but no Cornelia's in the Bries/variants family line in Albany/Rensselaer Counties up to 1800. That doesn't mean that she wasn't a Bries - but I've concentrated on the Bresee family so far.

Do you have comments or suggestions on the above discourse? Please share them with me either as a comment or as an email (rjseaver(at)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Messages on the boards for my Cornelia

I wrote a message titled "Who are the parents of my Cornelia Bresee?" and posted it to:

** message boards for Bresee, Brazie, Brazee and Breese surnames

** message boards for Columbia and Rensselaer Counties, New york

** Genforum message boards for Bresee, Brazie and Brazee surnames

** Genforum message boards for Columbia and Rensselaer Counties, New

The message reads:

"I recently found out that one of my ancestors is Cornelia Bresee, born 5 Dec 1780 in NY, died 1840 in Jefferson County NY; she married James Bell (born 7 Aug 1777 in Scotland, died 1839 in Jefferson county NY) in Schodack (Rensselaer county NY) in about 1797. Their children were Sarah, Polly, Nancy, Betsy, David, James, Oren and Lucinda. Some of this data is from a WorldConnect database "sprague family" submitted by Lance Sprague. I believe that the birth dates for Cornelia and James probably came from some sort of family record.

"I've been digging through as much Bresee (Bressee, Bresie, Brezie, Brazie, Brazee, Brasy, Brissee, Brussie, etc) data as I can find on the Internet. It appears that one of the major centers for this surname in the late 1700s was Columbia County NY, just south of Rensselaer County (and just across from Schodack). There is also a concentration of Bries (and Brees, Breese, Breeze, etc) families in Rensselaer County and very few are in Columbia county.

"Does anyone have my Cornelia Bresee (born 1780) in their databases? Does anyone have a list of Bresee (and variant spellings) families in the Rensselaer/Columbia county area in about 1780-1800? If so, who are likely parents of Cornelia (some can be eliminated due to age, marriage date or other children born in 1780)?"

Is this an effective message for the message boards? How could it have been improved? Where else should I post it?

Searching in the HQO RevWar Pension Files

Another web site that I wanted to use for my Bresee/Bries/variants was the HeritageQuestOnline database of Revolutionary War Pension records. Again, I used my Carlsbad library card to access HQO.

In the search box you have the choice of Surname, Given Name, State and Service. The temptation is to input all of the name variations and see if any from New York (in my case) come up. I decided to see if a wild card in the surname would work.

So I started with Surname = "bre*" hoping to find Bresee, Brezie, Bressy, etc. What happened surprised me. The search worked - 3750 entries! But it found all surnames with the letter combination "br" (not "bre") - so I got surnames like aBRaham, alBRo, etc., plus the BResee names I was hoping for.

OK, let's try Surname = "bres" - only 268 hits with BRE in the surname. 748 with BRI in the surname. 682 hits with BRA in the surname. 161 with BRU in the surname.

Of these, only four entries were in New York - a pension record for Mary Brizee, widow of Philip Carpenter, which mentioned Philip and Peter Carpenter, which were indexed as Brizee. And a pension for Wynsim Bruizee of Columbia County NY which mentions only his uncle Teunis Bruizee. There were about 15 Brees/Breese/Breeze entries in NJ, where another family of that name lived.

I could have done the same type of search and limited the search to New york entries only. But I didn't. It is not hard to look through even 700 index entries when almost all of them are not close to the name you are searching for.

So it's another strikeout here -- but I'm gradually eliminating resources that might have records of Cornelia Bresee! The game is still on.

Searching for Bresee in PERSI

I decided to look for periodical articles for the Bresee/Brazee/Brazie/Bries/Breese surnames in PERSI (the PERiodical Source Index) which is available online at HeritageQuestOnline.

Using the "People" link, I input each of the surnames into the search box. You can use a wild card in a surname in this search at the end of a name. There were some hits, but there were none that were the typical family genealogies you would find in NEHGS or NYGBR or other periodicals.

I went back to the PERSI search page, and clicked on the "Places" link, hoping to find church or other records for the New York counties of interest.

I input State = "New York," County = "Rensselaer" and Type of Record = "Church" and got 114 hits of different church records. For Columbia County, I got 217 hits for church records. Some of these are for the early church records (before 1800), but some citations do not include years of the records. These have the best potential I've found to date to identify the parents of Cornelia Bresee. Hopefully, there are indexes available for these periodicals.

I made a list of the periodicals and issues that look the most promising to me, based on the locations of Bresee/Bries/variants families in the late 1700's (basically Schodack and Greenbush in Rensselaer County, and Kinderhook, Claverack, Ancram, Livingston and Linlithgo in Columbia County).

I noticed that I saw no church records for Linlithgo or Livingston in Columbia County (and I know they lived there), so I went back to the "Places" search box and deleted the Type of Record = "Church" and substituted Keyword = "Livingston" or "Linlithgo." Apparently, no church records have been published for those places, but other types of records have been published.

I will go to the FHC sometime soon and check for the periodicals - I know they have the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record on the shelf. If I can't find the other periodicals at a local library, I will send an email to a local library in the target county and see if someone can do some lookups for me. Failing that, an order to Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne IN to copy the articles may be necessary.

This experience in PERSI is similar to my previous research - I rarely find surname articles of value, but there are lots of locality articles - and many of them are not indexed anywhere.

Have you had a different PERSI experience? What have I missed here - any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

County Maps for each state over time

Cathy, in a comment to my first Cornelia Bresee post, provided a link to a web site that shows how the county boundaries in New York changed over time. The site for New York is

Based on this, I can tell that nearly all of the "action" before 1786 occurred in Albany County - Greene, Rensselaer and Columbia Counties were formed after 1786 from Albany County.

On the left hand side of the New York web site is a list of all of the states. You can find similar maps for all of the states by clicking on the state abbreviation.

This is a tremendous set of web sites - I'm thinking there may be more to explore here tomorrow.

Thanks, Cathy, for your wonderful tip and link.

3 Free Days at Ancestry until 12 March is still offering three free days of research on until March 12th. This is in conjunction with their African-American records release. The link is here.

If you have any kind of subscription that pops up, then Logout from it and try the link again.

If you want more than the African-American records, unclick the box that says "Show only results for those noted as people of color 1850 to 1930."

On the first screen, click on the "Home" tab near the top of the web page. You can search any of their databases, but eventually you will have to give them a name and an email address to get your free three days.

One of the bonuses is that it appears we can access the England, Wales and Scotland census and other records using this free subscription. It also appears that the Canada census and other records are available.

Have fun!

Wonderful New York Church Record list

While searching for my elusive Cornelia Bresee/variants in New York records, I ran across Lorine Schulze's Olive Tree Genealogy web pages and found that she has a tremendous list of church records at

The baptism records for 1703-1789 of Zion Lutheran Church at Athens (formerly Loonenburgh) in Greene County (across the Hudson from Columbia County) are available (link too long to post well). I tried all of my surname combinations (truncated to 2 or 3 letters) and found 14 "Brasy" and 1 "Bresy" entries - all were familiar names from the work already done in the books and WorldConnect. These are transcriptions of the original records - about the best we can do online without getting a microfilm from the FHC.

For Albany County, the Records of the Dutch Reformed Church Records of Albany for 1683 to 1809 are available at This is a massive set of data, broken down by years. These were published by the Holland Society in the 1905 time period.

Unfortunately, Rensselaer County and Columbia County did not have useful church records on this list.

These are wonderful resources - my thanks to Lorine for the links! Lorine has many other links - i'm going to look at them next.

I'm having fun puttering around - my problem is that I go off on a tangent when I find things and sometimes can't find my way back to the research plan. Does anybody else have that problem [BG]

A good quandary

I have a quandary as to how to proceed with a friend of mine who is very excited about her new-found Swiss ancestry.

She knew that her grandfather was a missionary born in Switzerland, his approximate birth date, his spouse's name, but little else. I gave her the web site to search in hopes she could find several more generations.

On Sunday at church, she ran up to me after the service and gave me a big hug and kiss, just radiating happiness, and said "thank you so much for helping me - I found my grandfather's birth and marriage record, my great-parent's names and where they lived. And my great-great-grandfather's name too. But I think my great-great-grandfather was from Germany."

Needless to say, I encouraged her to keep looking, and that she should download Personal Ancestral File and put her family data into the database so that she could organize her data and write genealogy reports for her family.

Today, I went searching in the IGI and found 8 generations back from her grandfather in his surname, all in two parishes. I doubt that there is a German connection after 1600 or so, at least in her grandfather's surname. Perhaps there is in one of the collateral lines.

Some of these records are extracted church records and are probably reliable. Some are records from LDS member submissions - inherently unreliable, but there are several generations in some instances, with dates and places, so they must be based on some source.

I want to encourage her enthusiasm and curiosity - I don't want to tell her everything, I want her to discover it herself. She really needs to have some basic genealogy education so that she can broaden her search and perhaps prove the relationships found in the IGI.

So it's a "good quandary" - how much should I help her with this? When should I tell her to keep looking in the Swiss parishes and not go off on a wild goose chase in Germany?

Finding Bresee/Briese data in the WorldConnect database

My favorite "user-contributed" database is the Rootsweb WorldConnect database, which has almost 500 million names in it (some of which are duplicated by people with more than one database, or by several people submitting the same name in their database). This database also has the "Ancestry World Tree" entries in it. I prefer the Rootsweb presentation of the data to the AWT presentation - hands down!

There are lots of entries for:

Bresee - 1581
Bresie - 409
Bressie - 1117
Brissie - 140
Brusie - 437
Brussie - 25
Brazie - 441
Brazee - 1531

Bries - 1081
Briese - 882
Brees - 5522
Breese - 11470

Well, that's a lot! Too many. But many are after 1800 which I am not going to pay a lot of attention to at this point.

I went looking for the early settler names (from the Albany records - Hendrick and Anthony Bries and Christoffel Bresee/Brazie) and found many databases with several generations of descendants.

Many of these databases have the same name, date, place and spouse data. This is good from one point of view - they don't disagree. But how many of them copied data from another database? My experience is that the best user submitted databases have dates and places in them, indicating that the dates and places probably came from some reliable source record - town records, church records, Bible records, probate records, etc.

This type of data mining is dangerous without source record backups. However, I find that doing this to identify families that others have put together helps me relate corroborative data in other sources to these families.

As I identify the potential "best" databases on WorldConnect, I go to the earliest ancestor in the line and click the "Register" link at the top of the page to generate a genealogy report (up to 6 generations). I then click on "Printer friendly" to save the page to my computer files, and then print them out.

At this point, I'm going to start a Bresee/Bries database in FamilyTreeMaker and enter the families from the WorldConnect databases and use that as a basis for putting families together so that I can verify birth, marriage and death dates and places as I run across them in other sources.

Surname Search in the Books

My post yesterday about searching the Card Catalog file focused on finding records in a specific county - in this case, Columbia County, New York.

Last night, I tried to find records for the Bresee (and variants) surname in the "Family and Local History" collection. I am especially interested, at this point in my search, in records before about 1820 that provide information about Bresee families that might have a daughter Cornelia, and their ancestors. Therefore, I'm going to look at, but not download or print, records of Bresee families in the New York area or after about 1820.

I searched the surnames Bresee, Brazie and Brazee by themselves, then the surnames Bries^ and Brees* with a wild card. There were many hits, but books with several Bresee families in them will have more hits than others - so I concentrated on books with more than 5 pages with the name on them. Out of these searches, three works came up that provided significant information.

1) The Jonathan Pearson book, "Collections in the History of Albany, New York..." published by Munsell in 1871, had several generations of Bries/Breese families in Albany and Rensselaer Counties; it also had a few mentions of Bresee/Brazee/Brissy/Brusie/etc.

2) The book "Arnold, Redway and Earle family" had details on one family.

3) The book "Van Duersen family" had details on one family.

These works help some in my search, especially the Pearson book.

It appears that there are two separate family lines here - the Bries/Breese line which starts in Albany and goes to Rensselaer County, and the Bresee/Brazie line which is in Greene County and Columbia County early on, with offshoots to Berkshire County MA and Rutland County VT.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Using the Card Catalog

While searching for information about the Bresee (and surname variants) family in New York, I used the card catalog at

I was looking for specific databases in Columbia County NY that might hold records of the family. In the Card Catalog search form for "Databases", I input

"columbia county" "new york"

I got a list of 5 databases:

1) Chatham & Hudson Monthly Meeting, Columbia County, New York: Quaker Records

2) Calendar of wills of Columbia County, New York

3) Gravestone inscriptions of Columbia County, New York,

4) Inscriptions from graveyards in the northern part of Columbia County, New York.

5) The Benjamin families from Columbia County, New York

I searched each of those references for my surname search terms - "Bres*", "Brees*", Bries*", Bras*", "Braz*", "Bris*", "Bros*" and "Brus*".

There were two hits - one for a "Bristol" name, and the other for a will abstract of Andries H. Bresee (interesting! but not useful except to eliminate him as a potential father of Cornelia). At least the wild card search works!

I realized that my search terms may have been too limiting - so I used the "Keyword" search box for "Columbia County" "New York".

The results gave me 30 databases - including the five above. The most interesting were several small church cemetery databases that did not have "Columbia county" in the database title, but did have it in the text.

Unfortunately, there were no useful hits there either!

Then I realized that perhaps the term "New York" might not be in the database title or in the text - perhaps "ny" or "n.y." would find different databases.

Using "columbia county" "ny" in the Database Title got zero hits. Using "Columbia county" "n.y." gave me two graveyard databases that were in the list of 30. Similar results were achieved when I put the terms "columbia county" "n.y." in the Keyword search - I got 9 hits, all of which were in the list of 30.

Some of you may be thinking "why didn't you just put a Keyword of bres* in the 'Stories and Publications' on the main Ancestry page?" The problem is that there are too many hits - over 207,000 in the "Periodicals and Newspapers" collection, and 9,262 in the "Family and Local Histories" collection. Using a Keyword of "bresee" still resulted in 240 hits. That illustrates why I limited my search to Columbia County, New York! Now I need to do the same thing for Rensselaer County NY.

Someone might think "why didn't he use the Keywords of bresee "columbia county" and limit the search to the US/New York?" When I do that, I get 550 hits in "Periodicals and Newspapers" and zero hits in "Family and Local Histories." That is strange...but it shows that you can't combine surnames and locations in the Keyword box of "Stories and Publications" for some reason.

Based on the above sequence of events, and learning what I learned about the keywords, my recommendation for the folks is to enable a surname search in all of the databases that come up in a locality search. That would reduce the number of overall surname hits to a manageable number in the locality of interest.

Of course, I searched only one of my 16 databases - the books library. There are many more searches to be done and reported on.

I know this post has been pretty much "Inside Genealogy" stuff, but if it helps someone else do an effective search then it is worth it.

Searching for Cornelia's family - Part 1 (Online)

Who were Cornelia Bresee's parents?

I posted recently about learning her maiden name from an email received from a distant cousin that shares my ancestry of James and Cornelia (Bresee) Bell, who resided in Henderson township, Jefferson County, New York in the 1820 to 1840 time frame. My correspondent also said that, based on information from other researchers, that James Bell (born 7 Aug 1777) and Cornelia Bresee (born 5 Dec 1780) were married in Schodack township, Rensselaer County, New York (on the eastern bank of the Hudson river, just south of Albany) before 1797 (their oldest child was born about 1797). The available information stated that James Bell was born in Scotland, the son of Thomas and Margaret (Lecki) Bell. It is likely that James Bell and Cornelia Bresee met and married in the Schodack area.

That provides some clues as to where to find Cornelia's parents. A look at the maps show that Schodack is in the southwest corner of Rensselaer County, and that I will have to consider the neighboring counties on both sides of the Hudson.

With a name like Bresee, it is likely that it was a German or Dutch name and there may be spelling variations. Breese, Briese, Brezee, Brazee, Brissie, Brazie, Brusee, etc. come to mind based on pronunciation and handwriting considerations. I know that the Dutch were in the Albany area before 1700, and that many German Palatines came to this area, east of the Hudson, in the early 1700's.

My five segment wheel of genealogy phases are Survey, Research, Evaluate, Document and Preserve. This wheel of genealogy is not necessarily used in order - evaluation, documentation and preservation occurs throughout the research process.

The "Survey" phase starts the process. I usually start a search like this by trying to find if other researchers have this family, then read and evaluate their information and prove it to my own satisfaction. There is no reason to "re-invent the wheel" here. But I am very conscious that research posted in databases, web pages and books can be erroneous.

My research plan for the "Survey" phase of the project, using online resources, is the following:

1) Search the Ancestral File for member-contributed data.

2) Search the IGI for extracted or submitted data.

3) Search the WorldConnect database for data on Bresee (and variations) families in this New York area before 1800.

4) Search the user-contributed databases (One World Tree, Public databases, but not Ancestry world Tree, since that is in the WorldConnect database).

5) Search the Family Finder database for user-contributed reports.

6) Search the Freepages for user-contributed reports.

7) Search the surname and locality book collection at

8) Search the surname and locality book collection at HeritageQuestOnline (through my Carlsbad library card).

9) Search Google Books for the Bresee/variant surnames, and for County records.

10) Search the USGenWeb archives for the surnames in the localities.

11) Go to the USGenWeb county web sites and review the resources available there, especially the vital records, cemetery transcriptions, Bible records, etc.

12) Search the PERSI (PERiodical Source Index) for Bresee (and variants) and Columbia, Rensselaer, Greene and Albany County records.

13) Search the Ancestry surname and locality message boards for Bresee families in the Albany NY area. Post messages on these boards to try to draw responses from other researchers.

14) Search the surname and locality message boards for Bresee families in the Albany NY area. Post messages on these boards to try to draw responses from other researchers.

15) Search the Bresee surname and locality mailing list archives. Subscribe to some of the mailing lists and post messages there.

16) Search Google Web for occurrences of Bresee/variant surnames with the county names - especially on researcher web pages.

17) Search "Making of America" database for Bresee/variant surnames

18) Search the NEHGS databases (I am a member) - especially the NEHGRegister archives, the Early American Newspapers, and the NY Will Abstracts 1787-1835.

19) Search the Revolutionary War Pension files (on HeritageQuestOnline) for Bresee soldiers.

20) Check the cemetery sites and for Bresee records.

21) Check the database indexes (I'm not a member)

22) Check free online data portals (like,, etc.) for Bresee records.

23) Search the 1790, 1800 and 1810 census on for these surnames in the area around Albany NY.

24) Search the LDS Family History Library Catalog for the surnames and locality to determine if there are published books or manuscripts on microfilm or microfiche. If there are books or manuscripts, order them at the FHC.

I do not have a subscription so I can't search the World Family Tree databases that are on about 200 CDs. I don not have a subscription to other commercial family tree services like OneGreatFamily or to digital resources at services like WorldVital Records, GenealogyBank or Footnote.

My plan here is to post details of this research in hopes that:

1) the search process will be a good example for others to follow,

2) Bresee family researchers will help me out here,

3) readers will make suggestions to help me out.

I am sure that I have missed some searching opportunities in the list above - tell me about them!

UPDATED 6 March: added #17 to 20 to the list, and added some comments to other paragraphs.

UPDATED 11 March: changed the title of the post, added #21 to 23 to the list.

UPDATED 12 March: added #24 to the list, and modified a bit of text.

UPDATED 13 March: reordered the list to make it more "orderly," and modified some text.

Della's Journal - Week 10 (March 5 - 11, 1929)

This is Installment 10 of the Journal of Della (Smith) Carringer, my great-grandmother, who resided at 2115 30th Street in San Diego in 1929.

The "players" and "setting" are described here. Pictures of some of the players are here. Last week's Journal entry is here.


Tuesday, March 5: We washed. Mr. Roberts brought A[ustin] salve, $5.00.

Wednesday, March 6: I went to town, tended to income tax report. Called a dress maker.

Thursday, March 7: worked at home.

Friday, March 8: worked in yard.

Saturday, March 9: Ed over and we worked in yard, put on furtilizer, then in afternoon after Ed went home it rained and in night.

Sunday, March 10 (rained nearly all day): We all stayed in the house and read.

Monday, March 11 (cold): Worked on lawn, pulled weeds.


The journal was pretty sparse this week - like it was an afterthought done at bedtime. It gets better next week!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The talks I missed

I posted yesterday about the five talks that I attended at the Family History Fair in Escondido (CA). I missed 23 other talks, so I read the syllabus last night in a free hour and found some talks that I wish I had attended:

1) Alan Jones presented "The Magic of Roots Web" and "Using" One of my colleagues attended the Rootsweb one and said it was excellent. Unfortunately, the syllabus doesn't give much detail.

2) Kory Meyerink also presented "Getting There from Here: US Sources for Tracking Immigrant Origins," "Getting There When There's Nothing Here: European Sources for Tracing Immigrant Origins," and "Digging Up the Roots of Electronic Family Trees: Sourcing an Unsourced GEDCOM File." Kory is well known for his expertise on immigration, and I'm sure his two presentations were very helpful to those with that research area of interest. The last one has an excellent list of web sites with online family trees. The syllabus material is in outline form, and has numerous references, but I know (from experience) that Kory said a lot more than what is in the syllabus.

3) Barbara Renick also presented "Evaluating Compiled Genealogies," Finding Indexes for Un-indexed Books," and "Eleven Layers of On-line Searching." She applied the five phases of genealogy research on the first talk, and said that a compiled source should be evaluated using a "three strikes and you're out of luck" rule if the answers to the following questions are "no":

a) Are sources quoted?
b) Is the compiler related to the ancestral family or ancestor?"
c) Has standard usage been followed?
d) Is the information complete?
e) Is the family structure incomplete or inconsistent?
f) Is there a contradictory migration pattern?
g) Did the author gain anything by stretching or obscuring the truth?

One of my colleagues went to the "Finding Indexes ..." presentation and enjoyed it. Barbara defined OCR, and listed resources of online OCRed and electronic books. After reading the outline, I see that she missed some of the volunteer book transcriptions done by Janice Farnsworth (I've lost the link for her books), Jane Devlin (, Ray Brown ( and others in New England.

Barbara's last talk on "Eleven Layers..." looks interesting and is similar to my own list for searching online census records for elusive ancestors (hers is better outlined than mine). Her outline provides lots of advice and some warnings, including browsing through databases before searching them (try to find alternate spellings of names) and to beware of repositories with more than one catalog, or sites with more than one library.

4) Richard S. Wilson presented "Using Legacy Family Tree," "Scanning Basics," and "Editing and Enhancing Photos." His syllabus outlines are in narrative form and are very helpful. In the latter talk, he provides helpful hints for graphic formats, image editing programs, and recommended scanner resolution.

There were several other presentations, but these are the ones I think I missed out on the most. Having the syllabus helps, but there is no substitute for being there.

In my dream world, these talks are videotaped and sold online for download so that the speaker is rewarded for their hard work and the researcher can see and hear the talks they missed.