Saturday, March 17, 2007

The best laid plans...Murphy rules!

Murphy's Law: If something can go wrong, it will!

Murphy was an optimist, besides being Irish, I think.

The talk started off well - the PowerPoint presentation was well received and the audience was rapt with anticipation of seeing how a genealogy blogateer turned words into web pages. Then disaster struck.

I had just gone through the "parts" of a blog - the header, the posts, the blogroll, the archives, the statistics counters, etc. when I went to edit a draft of the previous post. I clicked on the "insert picture" icon on the edit panel (Blogger-masters will understand this) and waited...and waited...and nothing happened. The screen was frozen, the computer was frozen. The wireless signal was strong, but I was helpless in front of 70 attendees with my Bloglines hanging out.

After trying different things for a minute or three, I talked through the different types of genealogy blogs and their masters or mistresses, and closed the session with questions and answers. My intention had been to create a new blog, demonstrating how easy it is to do and then go visit some of the genealogy blogs that I enjoy.

When the computer froze, I could not close any windows and Ctrl-Alt-Del didn't solve the problem. I finally just turned the power off. I would have shut down earlier, but we had a lot of trouble connecting to the Internet at UCSD before the talk. They had arranged to have a computer guy there and he got my system up and running on the projector and the Internet. But I knew that if I shut down Internet Explorer that I wasn't going to have another shot at it - the computer guy was off playing basketball. Oh well.

Other than the computer glitch, I thought that the talk went well (sort of a "How did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?" scenario, eh?), and I hope that some of the attendees visit many of the available genealogy blogs, and use the blogs to share information and stay up-to-date with genealogy news.

I had lunch with several of the officers of CGSSD and one of them noted that one of the Family History Fair speakers said that she doesn't trust the wireless connections at the venues, and uses screen capture shots to illustrate Internet sites and database results. That certainly is the way I'm going to go about this from now on, I think!

An alternative would be to capture web pages to my hard drive soon before the talk and show the pages using the browser but not be connected to the Internet. In retrospect, I could have done that, but it would have been a lot more work to prepare for the talk, and it would require maneuvering from one file to another on the computer.

Has anyone else experienced this type of problem while giving the presentation with wireless Internet access? What did you do? What is the best way to ensure that it doesn't happen?

Live-blogging at the CGSSD meeting

Greetings to all attendees at the CGSSD meeting this morning.

By the time I post this, I will have provided a short presentation of the who, what, when, where and how of genealogy blogging, and am into the part of the demonstration of "how" to edit and publish a post.

Coming next is the demonstration of how to start a new blog (Blogger has much better tools now than a year ago! - you don't have to touch HTML). Finally, we will visit a number of genealogy blog web sites to sample the content of some of my favorite people.

My emphasis in my talk is about sharing genealogy news and research tips, and using blogs to help solve brick-wall problems.

The presentation will end with a question and answer period - I'll post this afternoon about the questions and how the overall presentation went. If some of the attendees want to comment, please do!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bombshell - at FHCs Discontinued

I admit that I never thought this would happen...I always figured that provided the LDS FHCs free access to their subscription site in order to get more home subscribers - hook 'em at the FHCs once a week and they'll figure out that a subscription that provides daily home access is cost effective and more convenient.

Leland Meitzler at has the announcement received by one of his readers:
To: Family History Center Directors in English Language Areas
From: Worldwide Support
Date: March 16, 2007
Re: Discontinued Access to Databases

For many years, has provided free access to patrons of family history centers around the world. Ancestry has informed the Church that as of April 1, 2007, it will discontinue this free access to the full service.

Free access through to the following databases will continue:

1. Index and images for the 1880, 1900 and 1920 U.S. censuses
2. Full name indices for the British 1841-1891 censuses (England and Wales)
3. World War I draft cards indices as created and miscellaneous other databases

Free access is likely to be discontinued for the remainder of the databases including:

1. Index and images for the 1930 U.S. census
2. Index and images for the 1901 British census (England, Scotland, and Wales)

At this point, is not offering an option for family history centers to independently purchase commercial or library site licenses. Patrons, of course, may choose to subscribe directly to

Free access to online databases is important and we therefore intend to add many new databases to Much of the data preparation will be accomplished through the online indexing program available at We encourage you to visit the website to learn more.

Volunteers have already begun indexing the 1900 U.S. census and other projects. Other censuses and vital record collections will be indexed as soon as the 1900 U.S. census project is completed. The more volunteers that participate, the sooner access can be provided. Since access to databases on is free to all, we anticipate that this will be of great interest to individuals around the world. We are also exploring opportunities to provide broader access to additional databases from other online service providers.

Please inform patrons regarding our plans to provide access to records and invite them to help by participating in the FamilySearch Indexing projects. We will communicate as more information becomes available. Thank you for all that you do on behalf of our patrons.

So the FHCs get "Ancestry-lite" - a limited edition of the current version with some of the popular databases.

What does this mean for the FHCs and for genealogy societies?

1) For FHCs, it probably means at least a temporary loss of patrons. Every time I go to the San Diego FHC the computers are well populated, but few patrons are looking at books or microfilms. Most everybody on the computers is working on There will still be Ancestry-lite at the FHC's it seems.

Of course, the FHL is indexing and linking to the images all of their microfilms, which includes all of the census data. When this happens, the result will be more free access to records, but if it's available for free on the Internet, there is no incentive to go to the FHC. The incentive to subscribe to Ancestry will remain for the records available there that won't be indexed by the FHL.

2) This is an opportunity for local genealogy societies to work with local libraries that provide access to Ancestry Library Edition. I would not be surprised if local societies make arrangements with those libraries for ongoing computer seminars to use Ancestry Library Edition. My CVGS has a monthly arrangement now - we may try to get weekly access.

3) It is also an opportunity for local society members to get involved in the FHL indexing project. There may be many more volunteers now due to the loss of Ancestry access at the FHCs.

4) The real short-term beneficiary to this may be libraries that subscribe to HeritageQuestOnline. They may see a steady stream of new library card applications so that census access from home (albeit with limited indexing) can continue.

5) It will be interesting to see if this marketing move by will generate a groundswell of antagonism from FHC patrons.

Here in the San Diego area, the San Diego City Library and branches, Carlsbad Public Library and branches, and the Chula Vista Library and branches provide access at the libraries to Ancestry Library Edition. There are probably others - Escondido and El Cajon come to mind - but I'm not sure of them. Only Carlsbad Public Library offers HeritageQuestOnline. Many researchers all over the County have a Carlsbad library card - I've had one for four years.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Searching the LDS Member Submitted Databases

When I started my genealogy research in 1988, the LDS Ancestral File database was about the only computer-based genealogy database available, and you could only view it at a Family History Center.

Ancestral File is a database composed of LDS member submissions which provided linked families - in family group sheet and pedigree chart format. As such, it was valuable to me IF the families I was searching for were in the database and IF there was not conflicting data. In many cases, several different researchers contributed data that was not consistent with the data from other researchers. You either tried to figure out which one was "best" or you decided to not trust any of them. In every case, the proper thing to do was to research in other resources to determine the correct family group and pedigree.

Still, the Ancestral File was, and is, a good finding aid - it gives you a start for further research.

The LDS stopped taking submissions to Ancestral File some time ago, but started another database called the Pedigree Resource File. This file shows links only to pedigree charts - no family group sheets.

Both the Ancestral File (AF) and Pedigree Resource File (PRF) databases are on line at Click on the "Ancestral File" or "Pedigree Resource File" links in the left-hand frame.

For my Bresee (and variant surnames) search, I first input Cornelia Bresee to see if my particular one was listed. She was not. So then I input the two "patriarchs" of the families - Christoffel Bresee and Hendrick Bries. They were in both AF and PRF. I traced the families in Ancestral File to the fourth generation where the submitted data ran out. It turned out that there was nothing new for me in either database.

While this search was fruitless for me, a similar search for your elusive ancestors may turn up useful data and research leads for you. I always check Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File just in case there is a research nugget that helps me do further research.

Searching the Rootsweb/Ancestry Mailing List Archives

It has been very difficult to search the mailing list archives at Rootsweb/Ancestry in the past - you had to go year-by-year in a specific mailing list, or use Google to find archived mailing list posts.

Rootsweb has made the search much easier - see the Rootsweb Newsroom post at They have developed a specific search engine for the mailing lists at

Make sure that you click on the Advanced Search tab.

In the Advanced Search box, you can find words in the body of a message or in the title of a message, and limit the search to a specific author of a message (by inputting their email address), or on a specific mailing list, or on a certain date.

There are no wild card search capabilities, so you have to input specific words or phrases. It does accept a specific phrase in quote marks - like "cornelia bresee".

This is a major improvement to the search capability on Rootsweb, and is long overdue. Hopefully, they will improve it even more - I would love to have a search between specific post dates, before a specific post date, or after a specific post date.

San Diego Genea-Blogging Meetup

I will be presenting "Genealogy Blogging - Soapbox or Service" at the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego meeting on Saturday, 17 March starting at 9:00 AM. You can get directions to the meeting on the University of California San Diego campus and information about CGSSD at

The entire program summary is (from the CGSSD web page):


At 9:00, there will be a Special Session on Digital Imaging. The regular SIGs will not meet today. Gene Powell will present a special “Digital Imaging Demonstration.” This will be an hour packed with information on scanning, editing, and saving digital images. Learn the basic techniques of scanning, hear about the latest developments in digital imaging processing, and see a demonstration of an HP flat bed scanner, Prime Film slide and film scanner and Photoshop Elements 5.0. Bring your own photograph or slide to scan (and a disk to take home your digital image). A break and refreshments will begin at 10:15.

At 10:30, following general announcements, Randy Seaver will present:


Weblogs (known as "blogs" - online journals or diaries) have multiplied over the last two years in all fields, including genealogy. This presentation will discuss the what, when, where, why and how of genealogy blogging, and introduce you to many active genea-bloggers - each with something to say in their own way. Genealogy news, research tips, family history examples, stories, humor, business, education - and more - are covered in genealogy blogs every day.

Randy Seaver is a retired aerospace engineer, a genealogy researcher and family historian since 1988, with a fine set of obscure Northeast US/Canada colonial ancestors, with some 19th century English immigrants. A native San Diegan, Randy is a member of CGSSD, SDGS, CVGS, NEHGS, NGS and ESOG. He is currently President of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society and has made genealogy presentations to CVGS and several other societies. Randy was the first genealogy blogger in the San Diego area, and you can read his blog "Genea-Musings," with daily postings, at


My presentation will be part PowerPoint and part online demonstration, and will include visiting many of my favorite genea-bloggers. I will probably post from the meeting during my talk in order to demonstrate the ease of posting on a genealogy blog. I hope that, from this presentation, more San Diego researchers will frequent the genealogy blogs and perhaps even start a blog of their own to share their wisdom, experience and stories.

The great thing about the CGSSD venue at UCSD is that wireless Internet access is everywhere! Therefore, Internet access can be used in presentations - which leads to a much more dynamic demonstration of online resources.
I would enjoy meeting any and all of my readers at this meeting.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Library of Congress "Chronicling America"

Chris Dunham alerted us to the presence of the "Chronicling America: Historical American Newspapers " digitization project at the Library of Congress - the web site is

Currently, 25 newspapers from CA, DC, FL, KY, NY, UT and VA are available for 1900 to 1910. There is great coverage of Washington DC, with 12 different papers.

I noticed that the San Francisco Call was one of the newspapers. I decided to give the site a test drive using one of Linda's ancestral names - McKnew.

I selected the specific newspaper and entered McKnew in the search b ox, and hit the Search button. This gave me 32 hits. Checking them one at a time is a bit of a chore, but turned out to be fruitful. I found the marriage license announcement for one of Linda's aunts, Belle McKnew to George F. Samwell. I had not known of Mr. Samwell's given name before (the family records just say "married a Samwell."

When you click on one of the links to a newspaper page, you get the full page on your screen in a window. It is at 11% magnification and is impossible to read. You can find the colored bar that indicates where your search item is located. So you can go to the menu at the top of the window and either hit the + button several times to magnify the image, or I just entered in 31% in the magnification window. Both ways work.

It takes a few seconds for the pixels to become legible, and then you have to manipulate the image (move it around by holding the left mouse button down and dragging it so that your target phrase becomes visible). After one or two trials you get the hang of it.

When this database gets fully populated (and who knows how many newspapers it will have?) it may be a wonderful free resource for genealogy researchers. I have made it a Favorite already.

Using the Family Finder

One of the sets of hidden researcher-contributed information is on the web site. It is called Family Finder, and it searches all of the databases at for specific names.

Many of the subscription databases at are similar to databases at or HeritageQuestOnline - for instance, the census records, the Genealogy Library online books, etc. Some of the subscription databases are only found at - for instance, the World Family Tree collection of user-submitted family trees, and the Family Archives CDs.

There are two fairly large databases that are free to all researchers - the Genforum Message Boards and the Family Home Pages.

When you go to the Family Finder page - at - you can enter a person's name (no wild cards), and birth and death dates and locations (if known). When you click on the Go button, you get a page with a list of resources for your search terms. Many of those items are in the subscription site databases, but the matches in the Family Home Pages are available to anyone.

For instance, if I enter First Name = "Isaac" and Surname = "Seaver", I get 3 matches in the Family Home Pages. By clicking on the link for the matches, I get a page with links to three researcher submitted web pages with genealogy reports that include an "Isaac Seaver".

One of them is my own web page at which has links to a number of genealogy reports. An "Isaac Seaver" is on at least three of my linked reports, but Family Finder does not link to them for some reason. It used to find all of the mentions of a name (and not just the name in the "home web page"), but has changed the search algorithm for some reason. It may be that, since I submitted my pages as a non-subscriber, and the pages were not created using FTM's web page creator, that it doesn't index my pages any longer. Family Finder appears to find the mention of names on some researcher submitted web pages, but not others.

I tried the surname "bresee" and the other variants in the Family Finder. If you just input the surname, it gives you a list of given names that are in one of the databases. I tested some of the given names and found no useful hits in the Family Finder.

Google, and probably other search engines, will find some of the mentions of individuals on Family Home Pages in my experience.

Searching for Patents on Google

One of the stories that my mother told me about her family was that her great-grandfather, Devier J. (DJ) Smith (1839-1894) had a patent on an invention dealing with horse buggies. I had searched the US Patent Office index online previously, but that site required knowledge of the patent number for 19th century patents.

Today I went to the Google Patent search page and tried to find my great-great-grandfather's patent. I tried the following search terms:

1) "devier j smith"

2) smith buggy

3) smith whip

4) "dj smith"

I found the right patent on the 21st hit of "dj smith" - Patent No. 331,565 "Harness Rack" - and that was lucky. The patent said "Devier J. Smith, of McCook, Nebraska" on the description page but that was not found by Google. I wondered why, and when I input the patent number to Google it listed his name as= "Deviee J. Smith." Somebody made a typing error!

I even got a signature of Devier J. Smith. The patent listed his full name as "Devier James Smith," I hadn't known his middle name for sure. Cool! Matthias Loucks was one of his witnesses - the Loucks family occasionally appears in Della's Journal.

Here are pictures of the Harness Rack that my great-grandfather invented:

The Harness Rack was the only patent granted to Devier J. (DJ) Smith. I posted a biography of DJ some time ago and mentioned his salesmanship as a purveyor of snake oil.

I also found my own thrust reverser patents from my previous life as an aerospace engineer. I was surprised (but shouldn't have been) that other "randall * seaver" people have invented things.

Google Patent is very helpful to find the old patents. Have you input the names of your ancestors to see if they have a patent?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Bluster About Blogging

It was inevitable that there would be some magazine or online articles, or presentations to local societies or conferences, about genealogy blogging.

Alan E. Mann has an online article at that covers all of the bases very well.

He provides a list of sample genealogy blogs that included a few that I have not visited, but I will [BG]. He provided a link to Genea-Musings that a number of people used today - that's how I found Alan's article!

Read the whole article. alan knows a lot about using the computer for genealogy research.

This was very interesting to me, since I am the speaker at the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego (CGSSD) on Saturday, 17 March at UCSD. See the web site for location, time and directions, plus a summary of the talk and my biography.

My topic is "Genealogy Blogging - Soapbox or Service?" I completed my Powerpoint slides over the weekend and made my handout yesterday. I will describe my presentation after it occurs on Saturday.

Methods to Find a Maiden Name

I was over at the New England Historic genealogical society web site and noticed a link to a presentation by David Curtis Dearborn, FASG, an NEHGS Staff Genealogist, given at NEHGS on 7 January 2007, titled "Methods of Finding a Wife's Maiden Name." This is part of an Online Seminar Series.

The presentation is audio linked to Powerpoint slides. To me, this is the ideal method for presenting conference speakers presentations - you can hear the speaker's voice and see the slide well. This is a MacroMedia Flash presentation - you may have to download some software. Turn up your speakers. You can go from slide to slide by clicking on the ndext slide in the slide index on the right side of the screen.

This is an excellent presentation (well, what did you expect from a well-known researcher and presenter?) on a topic that all researchers - novice and professional alike - need help with.

Try this link - I'm not sure if it will work for non-members, but give it a try. If it doesn't work, please let me know. I logged out and tested it and it seemed to work for me, but who knows.

Searching User databases has several user-contributed databases on their subscription site. They include:

1) Ancestry World Tree - this has been integrated into the WorldConnect database at

2) One World Tree - This database is a synthesis of families submitted by contributors. The site explains it is: "OneWorldTree takes family trees submitted by Ancestry members and "stitches" them together with family trees and historical records from other sources. OneWorldTree identifies probable name matches between these sources and displays consolidated results in a worldwide family tree that can help you with your family history research. "

3) Public Member Trees - recent submissions to Ancestry by members who agree to make it public. The site explain it as: "This database contains family trees submitted to Ancestry by users who have indicated that their tree can be viewed by all Ancestry members. These trees can change over time as users edit, remove, or otherwise modify the data in their trees. You can contact the owner of the tree to get more information."

4) Private Member Trees - recent submissions to Ancestry by members who wish to keep the information private.

For my Bresee (and variants) surname search, I have already searched the Ancestry World Tree data in the WorldConnect post.

The two databases that I haven't reviewed are the One World Tree (OWT) and Public Member Tree (PMT) databases.

The first search is for a Cornelia Bre* (born 1780 in NY, married to James Bell). I used a wild card to include many possible name spellings. I will also look at Bra*, Bri* and Bru*. The One World Tree database provides hits for the search terms in the person's name, the spouse or their parents. The Public Member Trees database does essentially the same. There was one entry in the One World Tree database for Cornelia Bresee (born 5 December 1780), married to James Bell. This was submitted by Lance Sprague, who also submitted the WorldConnect entry found earlier. No parents are listed for Cornelia.

Since I did not find the parents of my Cornelia in the two databases, I need to check out the potential families that might be hers (but she was not included in the database). The numbers for each surname are:

Bresee - OWT = 445, PMT = 95
Brezee - OWT =, 82 PMT = 23
Brasee - OWT = 9, PMT = 0
Brazie - OWT = 119, PMT = 27
Brazee - OWT = 372, PMT = 107
Brissee - OWT = 42, PMT = 3
Brussee - OWT = 101, PMT = 9

Bries - OWT = 196, PMT = 38
Brees - OWT = 1462, PMT = 762
Breese - OWT = 2309, PMT = 2225
Breeze - OWT = 1596, PMT = 1041

Hmmm. There are a lot, especially the last three. However, they are for "all time, and not the time frame of 1700 to 1800 that I am concentrating on. I chose to find families with children born in the 1750 to 1790 time frame (by clicking on "Advanced Search," using the surname, a birth year of 1770 plus/minus 20 years), born in NY, and father's surname. I did this for each surname, using wild cards (e.g., Braz*, Bres*, Briss*, Brus*). The search became manageable using these tactics.

The tree data in One World Tree is similar to that in Ancestry World Tree - you can click on a person and see their vital data, their parents, spouse and their children. The tree data on the Public Member Trees is in a different format, but essentially the same information as the One World Tree. I found less data, in general, on the Public Member Trees than on the One World Tree database.

In this process, I found several data items that did not agree with the other data previously collected, mainly from the WorldConnect and IGI databases. I also found several families with more data than I had before.

I am a bit leery of this One World Tree data, since it is a synthesis of member submitted data (meaning it was put together by someone from one or more databases). I need to double check everything I found today with what I found before.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Index for my Cornelia Bresee search

I can't keep track of all of my posts about my online search for Cornelia Bresee's ancestors - so I thought I would index all of them in a post and add to the list as I add more. At the end, the list will be complete and it will help me (and perhaps others) follow the research trail. Hopefully, my trials and successes will help other researchers find records to aid their search.

For background information - I am trying to identify the parents of Cornelia Bresee (born 5 December 1780 in New York), wife of James Bell. They were married about 1797 in Schodack, Rensselaer County, New York according to records held by family members.They resided in Henderson township, Jefferson County, New York from about 1810 to their deaths in 1839/40. They are ancestors of mine.

Here is my list of posts to date for the Online portion of my search for Cornelia's ancestry:

1) The "To-Do" Online Research list - Searching for Cornelia's Family

2) Using the Card Catalog

3) Surname Search in Books

4) Finding Bresee/Briese Data in WorldConnect Database

5) Wonderful New York Church Record List

6) Searching for Bresee in PERSI

7) Searching in the HQO RevWar Pension Files

8) Messages on the Boards for my Cornelia

9) Searching for Cornelia in the IGI

10) The LDS IGI - A Gold Mine of Data

11) Searching Rootsweb Freepages for Surname Data

12) Googling for Cornelia's Parents

13) Digging for Cemetery Records

14) USGenWeb Pages Search for Cornelia

15) Searching for Bresee Folks in Data Portals

16) Searching User Databases

17) Using the Family Finder

18) Searching the LDS Member Submitted Databases

19) Finding Census Data for the Bresee Surname

20) Looking for Bresees in Jefferson County NY Census Data

21) Finding Bresee Data in Rootsweb Mailing List Archives

22) Finishing Phase I of my Search for Cornelia Bresee

Last updated 20 April 2007, 11:00 AM PDT.

Searching for Bresee folks in Data Portals

There are quite a few genealogy data "portals" available now - web sites that have their own databases or access databases at other web sites - some commercial, some free.

I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything on my online search for Bresee (and variant spellings) family members, so I accessed several data portals, including:

1) Surname Web -

2) Access Genealogy -

3) Genealogy Today -

4) Ancestor Hunt -

5) Linkpendium -

In this process, I uncovered nothing useful for the Bresee/variants surname.

I still need to search a few other online commercial databases.

Della's Journal - Week 11 (March 12-18, 1929)

This is Installment 11 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, 12 March: Washed. Pulled weeds. Washed & ironed Ma's bedroom curtains. Letter from Aunt L[ibbie]. Rained in night. Mr. Watson pd. rent.

Wednesday, 13 March: Rained & hailed this A.M. I wrote Ed not to come this week sent him 5 o'clock. Write Ruth & Louie. Ma had another letter from Aunt Libbie. Glen Loucks called, he came down to Vista to put up garage but the truck got stuck in mud so he came on down to see his girl.

Thursday, 14 March: Miss Theron Pd. I trimmed shrubs on her house & porch. Ma worked on Fig tree. I went to dressmakers to have dress fit. Letter from C.V. to Frank sent it to Louie.

Friday, 15 March: I went to town, deposited Mr. Watson's check & $25 of Mrs. Theron's made $85. Pd. telephone. Got a few things. Went to see Parade, then came back with Emily & Mrs. A[uble], we went for Betty then out to Miss Session's, bought 3 roses (3 for $1.00 roses), she [Betty?] got same & some little plants.

Saturday, 16 March: Set out two roses fixed ground for more. Sent Money O[rder] for magazine.

Sunday, 17 March: Lyle's stayed home. Trimmed vines & white rose. In afternoon I went out to call on Mr. Garlock & visit a while.

Monday, 18 March: Ma & I worked in yard. Rested in afternoon. L[yle] deposited A[ustin]'s $90 for me.


Della wrote a lot more this week and there were many references to other people. Aunt Libbie is Abigail (Vaux) Smith's ("Ma") sister, Elizabeth (Vaux) Crouch, who lived in Long Beach CA. Glen Loucks is a Vaux-line cousin whose family settled in Oregon. I think Frank is Frank Munger, a Smith-line cousin. I don't know who Ruth and Louie are - probably a cousin - perhaps we'll find out later in the Journal!

USGenWeb Pages search for Cornelia

One of the items on my "to-do" list for the online records search for my Cornelia Bresee (and her ancestry) was to search the USGenWeb pages for data. Earlier, I searched the USGenWeb Archives (housed on Rootsweb) using the Rootsweb search engine.

I first went to the USGenWeb page for New York state - at This page has a number of links for statewide indexes. One that caught my eye was the tombstone transcription project - so I looked at that for Rensselaer and Columbia Counties (note that these cemetery records are also accessible from the County pages). The Columbia County list is very sparse. The Rensselaer County tombstone list has 93,000 entries in the tombstone index, including lots of Brees/variants.

On the Columbia County NY USGenWeb site - at - there are lists of repositories and some links to resources, but there is not a comprehensive list of resources by subject (e.g., births, marriages, deaths, census, etc.). I searched most of the links and found nothing that helps me on the Bresee/variants surname.

On the Rensselaer County NY USGenWeb site - at - I found a very well organized site with well-populated databases. I didn't find anything useful, but I did enjoy searching through the queries, biographies, births, marriages, deaths, etc.

At both sites, I did note the local historical and genealogical societies that might hold resources on my Bresee family (thanks to Miriam for the research tip!).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Digging for Cemetery records

I added online cemetery records to my "to-do" list for online resources that might lead me to the parents and ancestry of my Cornelia Bresee.

I chose the two major online cemetery repositories:

1) At, the Search box is real small in the left hand frame. I put in my Bresee/Brazie/Brazee/Brusie/Bries/Brees/Breese surname variations. You get a number of entries and list of cemeteries with those entries. To find the actual entries, you have to click the cemetery link and you get an alphabetized list of the gravestones, with the inscriptions. I found several death dates for people already in my database, but nothing that leads me to Cornelia's parents.

2) At, the Search box is centered well and is noticeable! I put in my surname variations. The results come 40 at a time - one line for each person. You can see the name, birth date, death date, and location for each person in the search results, but you have to click a link to see the list of the gravestones and the inscriptions in the cemetery.

It looks like has 14 million people listed, but has fewer - perhaps only 5 million. These are a fraction of the total number of graves, so there may be hope for me in published books or manuscripts. There were no cemeteries listed for these surnames in the counties around Albany NY where I've been searching.

Do you know of web sites with more cemetery records? If so, please let me know!

Thinking about the women in my ancestry

I sat in church this morning wondering which woman I should write about with a biography and commentary for the next Carnival of Genealogy, and thinking about the role women play in our ancestral stories.

I wrote a post in 2006 about my mother (which I will save for Mother's Day, I think) and my grandmother, Emily Kemp (Auble) Carringer.

I could choose my paternal grandmother, Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver, for whom I have extensive memories and stories from her children. Or her mother, Julia (White) Richmond, whose main claim to fame is here extensive New England ancestry.

I could choose Della (Smith) Carringer, about whom I have written extensively and am transcribing her 1929 Journal week-by-week. I have a lot of memorabilia and ephemera that she collected.

I could choose Della's mother, Abigail (Vaux) Smith, who came all the way across the country - from the Buffalo area to San Diego - in her lifetime and experienced the sorrows of her husband's early death and several of her children, and the joys of the lives of her surviving children. I know a lot about her husband's life, but not as much about her.

I could choose Abigail's mother, Mary Ann (Underhill) Vaux - another woman who left the Buffalo area as a young mother and died in Kansas. I have a lot of info about her English husband but don't have much information on her life.

There are many others of course - Polly (Metcalf) Underhill who hid the family possessions in the War of 1812 in Aurora NY, Tabitha (Randolph) Cutter who was an obstinate rebel during the RevWar in Woodbridge NJ; Molly/Mary (Hoax) Carringer who settled in the wilderness of Mercer County PA and raised a large family; Ann (Dudley) Bradstreet who was New England's first poetess; the brave women on the Mayflower in 1620 who came to a wild place and braved the winters and the sickness and survived to raise families - Susanna (--?--) (White) Winslow comes to mind.

Half of our ancestry are females who succeeded in their life's work - they survived childhood, married a man who provided for her, had children that survived her, ran a household (cooking, cleaning, weaving/sewing, gardening, healing, nursing, teaching, loving, scolding, encouraging, grieving, hoping, waiting...) in sickness and in health, and tried her very best to please her parents, satisfy her husband, raise her children, help her neighbors and serve her church and her community. If she died young - and many did in childbirth or home accidents - then her husband usually found another wife to help raise their children. If she lived to an old age, and was widowed, she was often dependent upon her children or the town for her livelihood.

The only lasting record for a woman's life well lived (at least before the 20th century) were usually lines in census records, entries in the family Bible (did it survive?), perhaps a mention in the county history and a cold stone in the cemetery. Hopefully, her children or grandchildren remembered her, wrote about her, and honored her.

Here's a cheer and a toast to the amazing women who gave us life!

The woman for the Carnival? I'll think about it some more. You'll see it soon.