Saturday, July 28, 2007

US Marine Corps Muster Rolls (1893-1940) on Ancestry

Good things happen to genealogists who browse...

It's been a lazy morning, with an early breakfast with friends, home for awhile, and then a memorial service. While home for awhile, I opened up and put Lyle Carringer, my grandfather's name, in the Search box, thinking it would only find his 1920 and 1930 census, SSDI and California Death Index entries. Surprise!

Hmmm. U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1893-1940 - 24 matches. I recalled that he had served in the US Marines during World War I, but I didn't have any details about his service.

The database information is here. Where did this database come from? I've not seen or heard of it before - it's probably been hiding on the long list of databases on Ancestry for years! The description says:

"This database contains an index to U.S. Marine Corps muster rolls from 1893-1940. Information contained in this database includes: name, rank, enlistment date, muster date, and station."

These images are from National Archives Microfilm Publication T977, 460 rolls; Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, Record Group 127; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

For my grandfather, there are 24 monthly reports, from May 1917 to May 1921, of his service - where he was, what he did, etc. Private Lyle L. Carringer enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on 7 May 1917 in San Diego CA, and it appears he served his duty as a Saleman at the PX (store) in Balboa Park in his native San Diego. The report for May 1917, says "Jd by enrollment at this post." In the report for December 1919, he reported his address was 2054 Harrison Street in San Diego (same as the 1920 census address). In the report for June 1921 (the last one), it says "Expiration of Enrollment, Character 'Excellent.'"

Here is a picture of Lyle in his uniform, taken probably in 1917. He was 5 foot six inches tall and weighed about 120 pounds. He wasn't married to Emily Auble yet. He probably dazzled her with the uniform and his Marine training. I'm so glad he did!

What a pleasant surprise today!

How about you? Any Marines in your ancestral families? Have you checked this database?

My Fave Blog Posts of the Week

I have over 150 genealogy blogs on my list. Blog posts appear once (usually, unless they are updated!) and then are gone. I usually don't go to the actual blog unless I want to comment on it.

I usually can't recall everything that I've read, and about once a week I will go through my blog list and review the posts for the week. Since I know many of my readers may not have the time to do this, and I seem to have a lot of reading time on some days, I decided to make a list of blog posts that really helped my research, informed me about history or genealogy, or that I just liked. Here is my list for this past week (in the order I found the post - no ratings here intended):

* J.L. Bell's Boston 1775 blog post on "How to Play Tip-Cat." I'm a big baseball fan, but have never heard of tip-cat. Bell's blog articles are always informative - he really brings Boston in 1775 alive.

* Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter post about "Mysterious Messages Appear in Nova Scotia Cemeteries." This might be something for a genealogy society with time on its hands and enough manpower to do for a centennial (or other important) celebration.

* The Ancestry Insider's post about "New FamilySearch Rollout Accidentally Announced." Good - the West Coast is #2!

* Craig Manson's Geneablogie series of posts about his research trip to the Midwest. Craig offers tips for travelling genealogists that are timeless in his post "Some Lessons Learned." Read all of his travel posts (note that he is not finished yet!). He has a good looking beard, too!

* Chris Dunham's The Genealogue post titled "Top Ten Signs Your Genealogy Scoiety is in Trouble." My favorite is #6. "Board of Directors outsources task of ignoring member complaints to Bangladesh." Excellent humor - I'm going to use it at the next CVGS board meeting!

* Megan Smolenyak's post on Megan's Roots World about "Making Up History: The Search for Annie Moore." Read Megan's reaction to seeing herself portrayed in a play. The play sounds wonderful!

* Steve Danko at Steve's Genealogy Blog posted "Beginning Italian Genealogy." I found it very helpful and concise, even though I don't have Italian ancestry (to my knowledge), but it may help a colleague who does have it.

* Bill West's series at his West in New England blog on "Aunt Dot's Memories." The link is to his 5th post, go to his blog for all of them. I had a "Cousin Dot" who was kind of like Bill's Aunt Dot. This is real life memories!

* Larry Lehmer's Passing It On blog post "What Obituaries don't Tell You." Some excellent thoughts here about writing down your family history. I guess that's why I blog!

That's enough for now - I know I read many more excellent genealogy blog posts, but these are the ones that I chose.

If you have a few minutes, please click on the blog links and read more of each blogger's work. Many genealogy bloggers get few hits and I'm sure these will appreciate you dropping by and perhaps leaving a comment.

UPDATE: I knew I got the idea for this type of post from someone! Sally J. at the Practical Archivist provided a Quick Link Roundup the other day. I hope she doesn't mind that I used the idea - I had most of this written before I found her post.

Friday, July 27, 2007

"Researching Hispanic Family History" Program at CVGS on Monday

The next program meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society is Monday, July 30 at 10 AM in the Chula Vista Civic Center Library auditorium.

The speaker will be Patricia Diane Godinez on "Researching Hispanic Family History." Diane will discuss the following topics:

* locations in the Hispanic world,
* filling out a pedigree chart and family group sheet using family sources,
* citing sources,
* using,
* ordering the correct microfilm for use at a family history center,
* Parish records (Birth, Marriage, Marriage Petitions, Death),
* Civil Registration,
* the 1930 Mexican Census.

Diane's resume includes:

"She was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and educated in the United States. Diane has been researching her family tree in Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Bessarabia, and Russia. She has been researching her husband's Hispanic family tree for 30 years and has traveled to Mexico and Canada numerous times. Spanish is her second language. She has been a paraeducator in Special Education at Nestor Elementary School for 16 years. She is secretary of the Evergreen HOA board of directors. Diane has been a Family History Worker at the Bonita Family History Center of the LDS Church for 10 years. Plus, she is affiliated with the Family History Center of the LDS Church in Estaca Central, of Tijuana, Mexico."

Chula Vista's population is about 50% Hispanic, and Tijuana in Mexico is only five miles south of the city. We hope that this presentation by Diane will draw attendees with Hispanic heritage from the entire San Diego/Tijuana area and spark interest in family history research among those attendees. CVGS receives an occasional query about Hispanic research, and Diane's talk should inform our current members about Hispanic research opportunities and techniques.

CVGS invites all San Diego area genealogy and family history researchers to attend our meetings. There is no charge.

Cross-posted to the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe, the CVGS blog.

Using the FHLC to find probate records

DearMYRTLE has a detailed post that should be required reading for all genealogists who do not know about or use the LDS resources found in the Family History Library Catalog.

Her post is at

Ol' Myrt's correspondent had an index citation for a will of Henrietta Nichols in Chambers County, Alabama in Will Book 3, 1855-1872. Myrt went through the process of finding the FHL holdings for the County and provided the listing of probate record resources available on microfilm. In the end, the specific will volume was not listed in these records, but the index was.

Ol' Myrt suggested writing a letter to the probate court and requesting the full estate record for Henrietta Nichols. That is one way to get these records.

However, it appears that the FHL has microfilms of the Chambers County Estate Records filed by alphabetical surname for 1832-1915. The citation is:

"Estate files and index, 1832-1915, Chambers County, Alabama," -- records housed at Probate Judge Office in Chambers County Courthouse in LaFayette, Alabama. There are 77 microfilms for these records - each microfilm has a citation like this:

"Estate case files, Blair, Adam - Blount, William T. (folder 5 of 6), 1832-1918
/ VAULT US/CAN Film 1221960"

Ol' Myrt's correspondent should order the microfilm that has Henrietta Nichols' estate file at a Family History Center (FHL Microfilm 1542472). This microfilm should contain more than the will - it will probably contain the probate court affidavits, the will, an inventory, an account, a distribution, and perhaps more records of her ancestor's estate. And even better, these are probably the original records with the actual will and other papers, all probably enclosed in a probate packet closed by a twine thread. These estate case files are the best probate record you can find.

I sent the above information to Ol' Myrt last night and she posted it to her blog at

Myrt points out that in her experience, the will is not in the probate packet or estate file. My experience, mainly in New England records, is that the original will is in the probate packet. Like Myrt, I have not researched in Chambers County, Alabama so I do not know for sure that the estate file includes the will.

What I do know for sure is that Myrt's correspondent got a lot of good advice and information for the price of an email. Maybe someone who knows about this county's records can enlighten us on the contents of the estate files.

Thanks to DearMYRTLE for the great blog post and the opportunity to climb up on my soapbox and remind researchers that the FHLC microfilms contain wonderful resources that are otherwise available only at the local courthouses or other repositories. You can order the microfilms for about $6 each for a 4 week rental, and copy the pages you want onto paper or onto your flash drive or CDROM (if the FHC is equipped with them).

Searching for 20th Century Property Records

One of my CVGS colleagues wanted to know how to find property records for her grandparents house in Maspeth, Queens County, New York. The grandparents died in 1972 and 1980, respectively, and she wanted to know what happened to the property.

Initially, it was difficult to find an online resource for property records in Queens. I went to the site that I discussed earlier, but they didn't have a link for property records in Queens County NY.

I Googled "property recorder queens new york" hoping to get an address that my colleague could write to or visit. Voila! One web site that popped up was the "Automated City Register Information System - ACRIS" web site at . This site has property records (plus many more records!) online since 1/1/1966 - including printable images.

The search page is at I chose Party Name and got this page -

I put the surname in the surname box, set 1/1/1965 as the starting date, selected Queens and hit Search. The list of hits included the grandmother with a Release of Lien of Estate Tax (Real Property) on 13 August 1980. I selected that one, and got an image of the paper, which I printed. The index defined the block and lot numbers, so I went back to the first Search screen and selected the Borough/Block/Lot search and got a list of property transactions for the specific property since 1966.

There were no listings for the grandfather by the name my colleague gave me. However, there was a person with the same surname in 1972, and I found a deed for the grandfather transferring his survivor title to himself and his son in 1972, after the grandmother died.

Earlier deeds that are not online can probably be found in the New York City Municipal Archives, Room 103, at 31 Chambers Street in Manhattan. [WRONG! See the update below.]

One reason I like to help my CVGS colleagues with their research problems is that I learn so much about other localities and types of records. It was fun to learn something, help somebody and solve a research problem.

Have you checked to see if your counties of genealogy interest have public records like these available online?

UPDATE 7/27 8:30 PM: Joy Rich made a helpful comment:

"Randy, in New York City, property records are located in the City Register's Office in each borough (except Staten Island). The Queens office has records from 1683 to the present. The URL for the Queens office is ."

Now, why wouldn't that show up in my Google search? Perhaps I didn't dig down in the Google heap.

Thank you, Joy! People helping people - that's really how we all benefit from blogging!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Probate Record of Nathaniel Wade (1709-1754) - Part 1

This is one of a series of probate record transcriptions for my Rhode Island ancestors. I don't think this record has been provided online previously, although I think an abstract has been published in RIGR. If I ever get my web site up and running, I will post many probate record transcriptions there.

Nathaniel4 Wade (Jonathan3, Nathaniel2, Jonathan1) was born 27 Jan 1708/09 in Medford, Middlesex County, MA, and died 29 Jun 1754 in Scituate, Providence County, RI. He married Ruth Hawkins 26 Jun 1731 in Scituate, Providence County, RI, daughter of William Hawkins and Elizabeth Arnold. She was born 14 Mar 1710/11 in Providence, Providence County, RI, and died 07 Dec 1789 in Scituate, Providence County, RI. They had six children - Simon, Dudley, Mary, Ruth, Deborah (died young) and John.

Nathaniel Wade died testate, having written a will on 30 May 1754 that was proved on 13 July 1754. The will (transcribed from Scituate (RI) Probate and Civil Records, 1731-1886, Volume 1, pages 231-232, on FHL Microfilm 0,941,155) reads:

"The Last Will and Testament of Nathaniel Wade of Scituate aforesaid was presented to the Council and Read in the Following Words (Viz:)

"In the Name of God Amen. the Thirtieth Day of May in the Twenty Seventh year of his Majesties Reign George the Second King of Great Britain &c Annoq. Dom: 1754: I Nathaniel Wade of Scituate in the County of Providence in the Colony of Rhode Island &c being very sick and Weak of Body but of Perfect Mind and Memory Thanks be given to God: And Calling to Mind the Mortality of My body and Knowing that it is appointed for Man once to Die do make and Ordain this My last Will and Testament in Manner and Form Following That is to Say principally and first of all My Soul I Recomend into the Hands of God that gave it and my body to the Earth to be Buryed Decently at the Discretion of my Executors herein after Named and as Touching of Such Worldly Estate wherewith it hath Pleased God to Bless me in this present Life I ??? [do?] Demise and Dispose of the same in the following Manner and Form, Viz:

"Imprimis My will is and I do hereby order that all my Lands and Real Estate be Sold as Soon as Conveniently as can be after My Decease by my Executors herein after Named and My ??? ????? [sd executors be?] fully Impowered to Sell the ???? [land?] and a Deed or Deeds of Conveyance Shall be good and ???? [true?] to all Intents and purposes that is by them Regularly Made.

"Item I Give and bequeath to My Loveing Wife Ruth Wade the use and Intrest of Three Hundred pounds old Tenor of the Money that Shall be Raised or paid upon the Sale of the Land for and During the full Term of her Naturall Life in this World.

"Item I give and bequeath all the Remaining part of the Money that Shall Rise upon the Sale of My Land after the sd Three Hundred Pounds is Taken out that I have given the use of to my Wife: To my Three Sons Simon Dudly and John to be Equally Divided between them as Soon as it is Collected or paid and also the said Three Hundred Pounds after my said Wifes decease to be Divided Between them in Like Manner.

"Item My Will is that all my just Debts Shall be paid out of my Moveable Estate and the Remaining parts thereof I give and bequeath to My aforesaid Wife and My Two Daughters Mary and Ruth to be Equally Divided Between themselves.

"And I do hereby Nominate Constitute appoint and ordain Ruth my aforesaid Wife and My said Son Simon to be the Sole Executors of this My Last Will and Testament and I do hereby Utterly Revoke Disallow and Annull all and Every other and Former wills Testaments Legacies bequests and Executors by Me heretofore Made Willed or bequeathed Ratifying allowing and Holding Firm and Effectuall this and No others to be My Last will and Testament: In Witness whereof I have Hereunto Set my hand and seal the Day Month and Year first above Written.
...................................................Nathaniel Wade (seal)

"Signed Sealed Published Pronounced and D
eclared by the sd Nathaniel Wade as his Last Will and Testament in presence of us the Subscribers
Gideon Harris Aaron Aldrich Abiel Aldrich (her mark)"

"We Gideon Harris Aaron Aldrich and Abiel Aldrich all personally appearing Declared on their Several Engagements that they Saw the above Subscriber Nathaniel Wade Sign Seal and Declare what is hereabove Written to be his Last Will and Testament and that he was then of a Sound and Perfect Mind and Memory and that they and Each of them Did at the same time in the presence of sd Testator and of Each other Subscribe their Names thereunto as Witnesses.
Test. Gideon Harris Court Clerk."

I will add the Court affidavits and Inventory in a later post.

Nathaniel Wade died at a relatively young age (45) and left a wife with five children. His oldest son was 23 at the time. Nathaniel willed that the property be sold - perhaps the sons weren't mature enough to provide sufficient income for the wife and kids to survive. By selling the property, he created a "trust fund" so to speak for the wife in order to raise the younger children, and a "nest egg" for the sons to start their own families with when they married. Ruth (Hawkins) Wade married Zebedee Hopkins in 1758 and resided in Scituate until her death. Sons Simon Wade and John Wade settled in Foster RI, the next town to the west of Scituate. My ancestor is the eldest son Simon Wade (1731-1790), who married Deborah Tracy in about 1765.

Due to the relatively poor quality of the image on the FHL microfilm, I have some unreadable portions of this probate record. If somebody wants to take a look at some of the mystery lines I would welcome that. Please email me at rjseaver(at)

Annie Moore Deja Vu

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak has a blog post about a play called Making Up History: Searching for Annie Moore. It is about the search for the real Annie Moore last summer - her post is at

Megan attended the play in Washington DC last weekend, and really enjoyed seeing herself portrayed on stage. Read her description of the play and the cast.

I'm wondering if this is the first play performed on stage that has genealogy research as one of the main themes?

I also wonder if there is or will be a video of the play, and if it will ever be shown on Roots Television or sold on DVD.

I wonder if the play might some day be performed at a national or regional genealogy conference. Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing for conference goers to go to instead of a semi-humorous dinner talk by Homer Bloviateur after a long day of sitting on hard chairs in six hour-long sessions. It might also vastly improve the cultural quotient of genealogists, and improve their reputation, at least in the eyes of their spouses.

Ah, the real Annie Moore. To see you "in person," young and old, immigrant and mother. I invested a little time in the search, and still get a bit misty eyed when I speak about it as a great example of 20th century genealogy research.

I hope that Megan gives us more information about the play as time passes.

Privacy Issue in Ancestry One World Tree Database

One of the attendees at the CVGS Research Group on Wednesday described finding her name, her husband's name and the names of her children on the Ancestry "One World Tree" database. The names have no birth dates or places, no marriage date or place, and no death dates or places (obviously, they are all alive!).

My colleague was upset that her family names were available online and she didn't understand how they got there. But she was happy that she was able to find information about her ancestry from the database. She has no idea who submitted this database.

Ancestry describes the "One World Tree" database as:

"What exactly is OneWorldTree?

"Its one big community family tree. 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.

"Its a great place to find hints. OneWorldTree can give you hints about your family history but not necessarily facts. There are a number of sources consolidated in OneWorldTree and its impossible to know if there are errors in member-submitted family trees. Also, occasionally the computer algorithms in OneWorldTree can incorrectly link people with similar names.

"In addition to the overall community tree, OneWorldTree also maintains the original family trees and source records submitted. See original source information for any person in a tree on the "edit person" page. Use the "connection service" if you want to anonymously contact the Ancestry member who submitted a family tree or record."

Ancestry also says this about privacy issues:

"Is everything in OneWorldTree available to all members?

"Certain information is never shared. OneWorldTree never shares information about living family members born after 1930. Any information in your family tree regarding living people born after 1930 will show up on your personal family tree but will remain hidden from other Ancestry members.

"Your personal privacy is always protected. OneWorldTree was created to let Ancestry members benefit from the combined research efforts of the community. Even so, your personal identity always remains private unless you choose to share it with other Ancestry members on your own."

I found my colleague's name in One World Tree because I knew what it was, and sure enough, on the family page, after you click on the name in the Search matches, you get the living family with all the names, with a pedigree chart. Going back one generation at a time, the names of all of the children show up, even if they are living.

When I click the link for "1 User-submitted tree," the first name changes to "Living" for many of the entries (which is good). If I click on her name, then the database goes into Ancestry World Tree format with the first names as "Living" (which is good). I downloaded the GEDCOM file for this database, and all of the potential living people come up with a given name of Living (which is good!).

I don't see any link to the "connection service" noted in the About OWT page ... perhaps I missed it, or perhaps it has been eliminated and the About OWT page was not updated.

There must be some sort of glitch in the OWT software that can't figure out if a person is living or not if there are no dates for several generations. That may not happen too often, and therefore this problem has gone undetected.

I tried to find a way to show who submitted the particular database but had no luck. I do know the database number from the GEDCOM download.

Perhaps someone from Ancestry will see this post and advise me what to do. I would be happy to put them in contact with my colleague so they could protect her family's privacy. My email address is rjseaver(at)

Any other ideas out there?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

7/25 CVGS Research Group highlights

We had our Chula Vista Genealogical Society Research Group meeting today at the Library, with 15 genealogy devotees in attendance, including two visitors and a new member. We had to meet in the Computer Lab but the projector didn't come to the meeting so we couldn't project on the wall. We did discuss genealogy research in several areas.

I reviewed the genealogy news highlights for July 2007 (posted here) - covering web sites, online databases and software. Then I passed around the latest issue of the NGS Quarterly and noted that the article about using cluster genealogy might be useful to some of our attendees.

Bill is trying to find records for his great-grandfather and family from Bohemia and wondered if the GGF had to notify someone if he changed the spelling of his surname. We didn't think so, but warned him to look out for spelling variations in the US and overseas records. If he can find a US record of the GGF's birth date/place in a naturalization record or a death record, then he can try to find church records in Bohemia and see how they spelled it there. He also wondered about residency data in Chicago around 1880 - we recommended finding city directories (online, FHLC microfilm, library), tax records, voting records, court records and Sanborn maps.

Bobbie told us about her planned trip to northern Illinois to visit the local historical societies, libraries and cemeteries. She wondered about the best way to do gravestone rubbings. There was no group consensus. We recommended that she find message boards, ask about the different methods and also determine what the cemeteries will allow. Bobbie also commented on some of Bill's questions since she has recently done similar research.

Lillie (a visitor) had just done some research on her ancestry, and with the help of her daughter had made a large family tree chart for a recent family reunion. It was about 3 feet square with a large tree in the background. She was concerned that her family was in the One World Tree database on, and wondered how that had happened. We told her that someone submitted it, and since it didn't have birth or death dates in the submitted database, Ancestry posted the information about living people. She wondered how to contact the submitter. Lillie has traced her ancestry back to slaves in Alabama around 1820, so we recommended that she contact the San Diego African-American Research Group in order to get more help on her specific research problems.

Rita was frustrated because New York would not send her death certificates of her mother and father, even though she sent them her driver's license data and her own birth certificate showing her parents names. They say that she is not named on the death certificate, and therefore cannot obtain one. The group talked a bit about other the policies of other states, and the recent limiting of access to many records due to identity theft concerns.

I showed my Union Case photo of Isaac and Lucretia (Smith) Seaver, and the plat maps I made from the Ontario (Canada) Digital Atlas. Bobbie showed some census data with close family on adjacent pages. Elsie told about phoning the second cousin and getting information about the French church in Haverhill in the 1890's.

The next CVGS Research Group meeting will be on Wednesday, August 22 in the library conference room.

25 Genealogy Web Sites I Can't Do Without

The genealogy magazines print lists of web sites in occasionally - such as in Family Tree Magazine here and Family Chronicle here.

John D. Reid at the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog has posted his list of 25 genealogy web sites that he, as a Canadian researcher, can't live without - see his post here.

I haven't made a list like this for almost a year - my last top 10 list is here. Here are my top 25 that I, as an American researcher, can't live without (in approximate order of value to me) for online genealogy research:

1. Ancestry databases, family trees and publications (subscription site) and free articles -
2. Rootsweb databases, message boards, mailing lists, research guides, etc -
3. LDS Family Search databases, research guides, library catalog -
4. US Genealogy Web state and county pages, user-submitted databases -
5. Joe Beine's links to military, vital, naturalization, immigration, census and topic lists -

6. (subscription site) free family web pages and Genforum message boards -
7. Heritage Quest Online databases - using library subscription.
8. Steve Morse One-Step Web Pages links and search engines -
9. Cyndi's List links to genealogy sites -
10. New England Historical and Genealogical Society databases and publications (subscription site) -

11. Linkpendium genealogy links -
12. Olive Tree Immigration, Naturalization, Vital Record links -
13. National Archives databases -
14. Find A Grave cemetery transcriptions -
15. cemetery transcriptions -

16. Legacy obituary search -
17. Obituary Archive at Newsbank (subscription site) -
18. Encyclopedia of Genealogy -
19. Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness -
20. United States Vital Records -

21. Family History 101 State Genealogy Information -
22. Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System -
23. BLM General Land Office Records -
24. Ellis Island NY Passenger Lists -
25. WorldCat Library Cooperative -

There are thousands more genealogy web sites with very useful and helpful data. The sites above link to many of them.

I didn't include the recently created subscription sites like World Vital Records, Genealogy Bank and Footnote. I don't subscribe to them and have not evaluated them critically for my own use.

My list above does not include information or entertainment sites such as search engines, photos and videos, contests, humor, blogs, articles, societies, magazines, software, wikis, etc. I may make a separate list just for those.

Thanks to John Reid for the idea - making a list like this sharpens the pen, so to speak, and makes you think about what is important to performing genealogy research.

I'm sure you have a different opinion on many of these. What would you add to my list? What would you leave out? Either comment on this post, or write your own blog post.

Two Family Tree Builders?

I've been so busy the past three weeks with family and CVGS activities that I have not had time to do those "Round Tuit" tasks that I want to do. One of those tasks is to test out some of the online family tree web sites that claim to be the best thing since sliced FTM.

I recalled that had a Family Tree Builder software for online trees, so I looked in my email folders for the announcement, and found it from July 6. The email said that the site for FREE provides:

"* 2 family trees
* 25,000 individuals per tree
* 200 mb media storage for scanned documents, certificates, photos, film and audio clips to be added to your tree
* Unlimited invitations to share your tree with family and friends
* Choice of privacy options: password protected, invited researchers only, or completely open to the public
* Full ancestry, descendant and full family views"

I went to the site, logged in (I have registered, but have not used the pay-to-view options yet), clicked on the "Family Trees" link and found that I could upload a GEDCOM to the site. I did that, and my 7,000 person GEDCOM uploaded fairly quickly, and I explored the site for about an hour, testing the menu items, the buttons, etc.

For some reason, I went to Google and put "family tree builder" in the search box and up popped the My Heritage site - - that has a FREE download for software called Family Tree Builder which can also be used to upload a family tree to Family Pages at the MyHeritage web site. I read the T&Cs fairly carefully, and downloaded this Family Tree Builder software to my computer, installed it and opened a GEDCOM file in order to test it. I spent about an hour and tested all of the menu items, the buttons and links to try to understand how it works and if it would be useful for my research.

The web site describes the software as:

"Download Family Tree Builder, our free genealogy software for putting together your family tree. It's not only completely free, and free of ads and spyware, but it's also one of the best genealogy software programs you'll find. It has original, easy-to-use pages that let you grow your family tree visually. It runs in 12 languages and lets you create and print your family tree in several languages. Bring your family tree to life with photos and documents and use our ground-breaking face recognition technology to annotate your photos and discover the identity of people you don't recognize in your old family photos. In a few mouse clicks, you can publish your family tree to the Internet on your own family Website and share it with family and friends!"

Note that this version of Family Tree Builder is fully functional and FREE to download and use on your own computer.

I will write up reviews of both of these after I have explored them more fully. I am especially interested in the charting capabilities and the report writing capability of the software.

I know there are more free online family tree sites out there - I recall Ancestry Member Trees, NewFamilySearch, Geni and WeRelate - what other ones should I look at in this quest to fill up online genealogy databases with my GEDCOMs? Has anyone compared the merits of all of these sites yet? I admit that I've sort of lost track.

Are these two pieces of software called Family Tree Builder related? They sure don't look or feel or work the same. If they weren't created by the same person or group, will there be an issue over having the same name?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

NGS Quarterly Table of Contents - June 2007 Issue

The National Genealogical Society Quarterly for June 2007 (Volume 98, Number 2) came yesterday, and I'm already half way through it.

The Table of Contents includes these articles:

"John Bush of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Master Horn Carver" by Charles W. Thayer Ph.D. and Melinde Lutz Sanborn, FASG - page 85

"Using Cluster Methodology to Backtrack an Ancestor: The Case of John Bradberry" by William M. Lichtman, Ph.D., CG - page 103

"Reality Behind the Legends: The Search for Nellie West's Father" by Robert E. Hoagland - page 117

"A Maiden Name for Mercy: Indirect Evidence of the Wife of Benjamin Burgess of Dartmouth, Massachusetts" by Thomas Knight Burgess - page 127

"Cornelius McDermott Roe: Indentured Servant to George Washington" by Nathan W. Murphy, AG - page 135

"Old Letters and Even Older Envelopes: A Hill Family of Cornwall, Wales and Somerset" by Ronald A. Hill, Ph.D, CG, FASG - page 147.

The book reviews include:

"The Sea Captain's wife..." by Martha Hodes.

"Dennis Darling of Braintree and Mendon and Some of His Descendants, 1662 to 1800" by William A. Martin and Lou Ella J. Martin.

"Some Descendants of John Sibley of Salem, Massachusetts" by Helen Schatvet Ullmann.

"Arizona Genealogical and Historical Research Guide: Early sources for southern Arizona ..." by Barbara Baldwin Salyer and Jean Powell Banowit.

"Finding Indiana Ancestors: A Guide to Historical Research" edited by M. Theresa Baer and Geneil Breeze.

"Proprietary Records of South Carolina, Vol. 1, Abstracts of the Records of the Secretary of the Province, 1675-1695" edited by Susan Baldwin Bates and Harriott Cheves Leland.

"Proprietary Records of South Carolina, Vol. 2, Abstracts of the Records of the Register of the Province, 1675-1695" edited by Susan Baldwin Bates and Harriott Cheves Leland."

* The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy," 3rd ed., edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking.


As I've posted before, the value of NGSQ (and NEHGR and TAG) to me is not in the specific families covered in their articles, but in the research examples that can be emulated in my own research or that of others. For example, one of my society colleagues is stuck on her family research in Arkansas in the 1850 time frame. The Cluster Methodology article is perfect for her to use as a boilerplate on how to proceed further with her research. The article on the search for the father of Nellie West in the Philadelphia area around 1900 is very similar to another society colleague's problem in finding her John Robinson Hall - she can use the article as a guide for resources in the Philadelphia area. I'm, going to take this issue with me to the CVGS Research Group tomorrow.

I am wondering why the NGS (and by extension, the other societies also) does not put a Table of Contents (similar to what I've listed above) on their web site for researchers to peruse online? In this age of online resources, it would be invaluable for a researcher to be able to find a reference to an article about a specific family or locality. More members/subscribers might be the result. I know that NGS and NEHGS have email newsletters but they go mainly to subscribers/members. I just think that more could be done to market the societies in a relatively inexpensive manner.

A Challenging Moral Dilemma

The topic for the upcoming Carnival of Genealogy is:

"Moral or legal dilemmas in genealogy and genea-blogging, which ones have you had to deal with and how did you resolve them, if you did?"

The biggest legal dilemma in my short genea-blogging career was when that fellow who shall remain nameless (so that this post doesn't show up on Google) accused me of libelling him in my blog post. I resolved it (I hope!) by removing the offending words and apologizing - I haven't heard from him since.

The moral dilemma I want to discuss concerns the fact that I may have a half-sibling in central Massachusetts that I don't know the name of, or if s/he was born or lived into adulthood.

According to family lore (and we all know how reliable that is), my father left Leominster MA in December 1940 and drove across the country to San Diego "in order to escape a failed romance, and the girl was pregnant when he left." All of my father's sisters claimed the above is true but were short on the details (like if she had the baby and who the girl eventually married). His brother scoffs at the claim, saying that he would have known about it, and it didn't happen. My father's siblings are all deceased, and their children tell me what their parent told them. If the girl was my father's age, then she would by 95 now, and so she is probably deceased also.

We know the girl's name - Mary was a Catholic young lady whose father forbade a marriage to a Protestant young man (who converted to Catholicism at the time). I have looked at the 1930 census data to try to identify the young lady and her parents, without much luck - it's a fairly common Irish family surname.
The dilemmas I have include:

1) If Mary was pregnant and had a child, that child probably does not know about his/her genetic father. The child would be age 66 or so now.

2) If Mary married before the child was born, then the child thinks that her husband is his/her genetic father. The husband is probably deceased by now also. I don't know if Mary married or what happened to her.

3) If Mary had the child out of wedlock and gave the child up for adoption, then the child might be searching for his/her genetic parents.

4) If the child was male, then he would be a male descendant of Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825) (see my post about My Lonely Y-DNA Strand). If he had male children, then they would be the only ones carrying on the Y-DNA of my particular Seaver line.

5) If there were no child, or the child was aborted (highly unlikely, I think, in 1940 Massachusetts), then I would intrude on a family's dignity if I pursued this further.

I have been nibbling around the edges of this dilemma - looking for census records and newspaper articles in the Leominster area to see if I can find out more about Mary's family and if she married and had children. I think I have found her family in the 1930 census, and a marriage announcement in the newspaper in October 1942.

I did blog about this earlier, and gave Mary's surname, so if someone was curious about this, they could find me fairly quickly using a search engine.

I have anticipated a telephone call or an email from a possible step-sibling for some time. If I receive one, I will be happy to share details of my father's life with that person.

It is probable that many others have faced this dilemma from the different views - that of the child, that of the genetic parent, or that of the other children of the genetic parent.

I found out about this when my cousin Marcia was cleaning out her mother's things back in 1992 and ran across a picture of my father and Mary, and the writing on the back said "Fred and Mary, the girl he got pregnant" (or something similar). I have the photo in a box somewhere. Unfortunately, Marcia sent that to me in an unsealed envelope to my mother to give to me, and she opened it and saw the photo and the caption. She was very hurt (it was about 10 years after my dad died) and I never mentioned it again.

So what do you think I should do? Should I sit tight and hope that someone contacts me? Or should I hire a private detective in the Leominster area and have him/her turn over the town records and perhaps interfere in the lives of others? Or something in between those two extremes?

Monday, July 23, 2007

3rd FTM Class Notes

We had our third and final session of the FamilyTreeMaker class today for our CVGS members at the library on Monday, with 20 in attendance. The first meeting was summarized here, and the second meeting here.

Today we covered merging persons, fixing relationships, importing and exporting GEDCOM files, adding scrapbook items, and doing a Web Search. We didn't have time to cover creating books.

The process for importing and exporting GEDCOM files is difficult to remember because most people don't do it very often, and it wasn't in the FTM2005 tutorial that I passed to the attendees. The best thing to do is to use the Help menu button to define the processes, and print them out so you do it right.

Many of our members have added photos to the scrapbook but struggle to get them to show up in the charts and reports. Other members have not done this at all, but would like to. Gary demonstrated how to add a record, in JPG form, to the scrapbook for a person. Then we struggled making it show up in a chart or report. We finally figured out that it would not show up in a genealogy report, but probably could be added to a genealogy book. It seemed like you had to add it to every chart one-by-one - there is no switching from a pedigree chart with a picture to a family group sheet without adding the object/photo to the FGS manually. You can save each chart if you wish.

Doing a Web Search is a task that some members have done, but many have not performed it. Since we didn't have Internet access in the conference room, I had made a Powerpoint presentation from screen shots documenting the Search process using my Ancestry subscription. I saved it to a PDF file, put it on my flash drive, and then accessed the PDF file on Gary's computer. The starting point was my grandfather with a birth year and birth place, and I documented how to capture his birth/death date/location, his marriage date/location, his parents, his spouse and children, all from a One World Tree database on This was the only 5-star item on the list of 25 or so matches. This worked pretty well, and some of the attendees really liked the result. This also provided the opportunity to discuss Sources and how to make a Preferred Source again, and how to change it on the Edit button screens.

My opinion is that this 6 hours of class on FamilyTreeMaker 2006 helped our members understand many of the techniques used by FTM for data input, fact and source addition, and how the program can be used to produce pedigree charts, family group sheets, ahnentafel and descendant reports, etc. This is a very complex software program (and they all are!), and it takes a lot of time to work with it effectively.

My concluding comment to the group was that the Help menu is your friend, and they should use it frequently to figure out the correct process to do any specific task.

Della's Journal - Week 30 (July 23-29, 1929)

This is Installment 30 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.

Here is Week 30:


Tuesday, July 23: We worked on several things outside & in. Mrs. Jones started this a.m. Lyle had to get breaks fixed to Auto. Got my Congoleum for Bathroom in Flat 2116 Fern 3: pd $1.50, screen door $3.05, frame $2.88, hauling $0.50. I painted stove in 2116. Broom $0.75. Ed painted stairs.

Wednesday, July 24: Ma ironed. Lyle's last day of vacation, had to take car down again.

Thursday, July 25 (warm): I went to town, pd A[ustin]'s lodge dues for Aug, got A's cookies. Emily gave me a dress at Marston's. I exchanged it for a different one, paid difference of 85 cents, feet med 48 cents & .10, candy .10, Birthday cards 15 cents. Went to see about hot water heater.

Friday, July 26: McClusky sent man to fix water tank $2.50. The folks went to beach. I trimmed fruit vines, took down all old on N. end. Letter from Venice ??Pres Hefele home Aug 15th.

Saturday, July 27: Ed over. Emily & Lyle helped us put down bathroom Congolium. Lyle's went to country.

Sunday, July 28: Lyle's back at 4 P.M, went near Pine Valley & Descanso. A[ustin] fixed screen door & frame. I helped him some he fixed Ironing board. Bathroom floor looks nice. A[ustin] varnished toilet top.

Monday, July 29 (cooler): Ma oiled screen door. I put one coat paint on hot water heater. Dirty job getting it ready. Mrs. Fry over she is having painting done, thought our Flat 2116 Fern was nice.


It was another week of work around the house, the yard and the flat at 2116 Fern. I have no idea what the ??Pres means... Note that Della does all of the shopping and buying of everything - Austin is back at work during the week.

Pine Valley and Descanso are out US highway 80 east of San Diego climbing to the 4,000 summit just past Pine Valley - it's about 35 miles from their home in San Diego. Now we whiz by on the Interstate, but then it was a two-lane road up and down hillsides with twisting turns. Lyle was brave testing his new brakes on this trip!

Cool Ancestry Popup Tool

I was trolling through the 1930 census records tonight looking for the very elusive Robert Leroy Thompson family (see earlier posts here, here and here) and was surprised to see a pretty neat tool that has added.

When you get the list of matches to your search query, you can put your cursor over the "View Record" link (but don't press the mouse button!). A box pops up that lists the person's name, birth year, location, relationship to head of household, father's name, mother's name, and all the family members with their ages. This popup box works for all of the census records from 1930 back to 1850, with the appropriate list items.

This tool provides a peek at the family group that was enumerated - you don't have to click the link to see the family group. This is a wonderful tool that will save quite a bit of time when doing searches that result in many matches.

Unfortunately, I didn't find the elusive Thompson people even with the super Ancestry popup tool.

When did add this tool? I haven't done census searches for several days with Lolo in town, and haven't seen a reference to it anywhere.

UPDATE 7/23, 9 AM: All (or most) of the Ancestry databases that link to record images seem to have this popup tool. I tested it on Vital Records, Military Records, Immigration Records and other collections.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

World Vital Records Databases

World Vital Records continues to add significant online databases to their offerings each week. In recent weeks, they have added:

1) Gazetteers from Massachusetts, West Virginia, Texas, Maryland, Delaware, England and Wales

2) Pioneer Ghosts of Kentucky: Comprehensive Name Index of the Dickey Diary series

3) Databases containing vital records from Canada (and here too) - baptisms, marriages and burials

The links are to posts on the WorldVitalRecords blog which announced the record availability. In each blog post are links to the databases themselves.

While WorldVitalRecords is a commercial genealogy database site, they permit FREE access to new databases for 10 days after they are announced. It is a good idea to subscribe to their free newsletter that announces the new databases. You can sign up for it here.

Note that I am not a subscriber to WVR or an employee.

Fred, Fred, Ted, Randy, Tami, Lori, Tony, Lolo, Lucas and Logan

Good family histories have traditions. Building a tradition is something that families do in order to create positive and happy memories. For me (and many of us), baseball is one of those traditions (remember "baseball, apple pie, and Chevolet")?

Our family tradition starts with my grandfather, Fred Seaver (1876-1942), who lived in Leominster MA. He played ball with a local sandlot team. One story is that when he married Bess Richmond he told her that summer Saturdays were reserved for the baseball game and a night out drinking with his teammates.

My father, Fred Seaver (1911-1983) grew up in Leominster and played baseball as a boy, in school, and in college before a knee injury shut him down. When he had kids, we all played in sandlot games, and my two brothers played in Little League, Pony League and Colt League, which my dad coached and managed. I kept score, pitched batting practice and coached. As we grew up, my dad rooted for the Red Sox and loved it when their game was on the radio or TV. His hero, and ours, was Ted Williams. Teddy Ballgame grew up in San Diego, and went to school with my mother for several years. She remembered going to North Park to watch his teams play high school ball. Ted went on to Boston, of ocurse, but never forgot his San Diego roots.

Being in San Diego, I grew up rooting for the San Diego Padres - my team through thick and thin. They were in the AAA Pacific Coast League until 1969, when they were an expansion major league team. My brother and I would take the bus to the games from 1953 until 1963 or so, but my father rarely took us to a game. The major league Padres didn't have a winning season until 1978, and didn't win a pennant until 1984. Our high hopes for a World Series championship were dashed in 1984 by the powerhouse Tigers, and again in 1998 by the Yankees. Linda and I have a 20-game season ticket plan, and rarely miss a game on TV.

Our girls, Lori and Tami, were born in 1974 and 1976, and grew up going to Padre games and hearing them on the radio. They went to the Padres games with us in the '80's and '90's. They played softball from age 8 through high school. They have both coached younger girls in their adult years. They are raising their children with baseball play, attending games and watching on TV. In 1985, they met and got autographs from Tony Gwynn and have cheered him all through his career.

Now our girls have children - Lori has Lucas and Logan, Tami has Lauren (Lolo). Whenever they come to San Diego, we get tickets and take the little ones. They love the excitement, the food, the music, the scoreboard, the ads, and what happens on the field is secondary right now. We had Lolo with us this last week, and her parents came and got her yesterday, but not before she went to three Padres' games this week. The tradition continues. If we continue the tradition as they get older, they will pass it on to their children and grandchildren.

We got Lolo a pink Padres shirt, taught her to cheer "Go Padres!" and taught her how to do the wave. She had a hot dog, popcorn, pretzel, and ice cream last night at the game. I'm sure the tradition will continue!

The San Diego Padres have also tried to build traditions around ballplayers and team successes. It has been difficult due to player transitions, losing seasons (decades?), and few real stars in a city that can only support a low-budget team. The Padres' mainstay for 20 years (1982-2001) was Tony Gwynn, who played right field, smashed over 3,000 hits, hit 0.394 in 1994 (the highest since Teddy Ballgame hit 0.406 in 1941), won the NL batting title 8 times, and was an NL All-Star 15 times. Tony was elected to the Hall of Fame this year, and will be inducted on July 29th in Cooperstown NY. One of Tony's heroes was Ted Williams and he escorted Ted onto the field at the All-Star Game in Boston several years ago.

We celebrated Tony's induction into the Hall of Fame last night at Petco Park - with testimonials from players and fans, a video tribute and a 9-1/2 foot statue of Tony swinging the bat. Three generations of our family were there to honor Tony and witness this event. I'm not sure that Lolo will remember much of it, but my daughter and I will. The tradition continues.

Some wise person (Yogi?) said that baseball is just like the game of life. There are emotional highs and lows, but everybody moves on to play another game. We remember the good times and forget the bad times. We honor heroes and encourage our children to emulate them. Winning is important in a competitive world, but playing fair, trying hard, and being a gracious winner are still valued in our society. The challenge for us as individuals, parents and coaches is to instill those values and enjoy the competition, but to not let it define us.

I am proud of my family, my team and my city. They all try hard, play fair within the rules, and are thriving. The baseball tradition is living and growing in all three.