Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Woman 140 Years Old?

There is an intriguing article titled "A Woman 140 Years Old" in The Ohio Democrat (of New Philadelphia, Ohio] newspaper dated 21 June 1877, page 4 (on

The article reads:

"A Woman 140 Years Old

"The oldest human being in the world is Senora Peras Glen, a Mexican woman, who lives in San Gabriel Mission, California. She is 140 years old. He age is declared to be a matter of undisputed record. She was born in Lower California, and removed to San Diego in 1758, and her name was then registered on the books of the old mission. In 1770 she removed to San Gabriel Mission, where she has lived ever since in an adobe house, with only a ground floor. She eats only the plainest food, and has been a tobacco smoker all her life until fifteen years ago, when she turned over a new leaf, signed the anti-tobacco pledge, and quit drinking wine at the same time. She was married at thirteen, and has had eleven children. She is now living with her youngest - a baby of eighty-three. A photographer in Rochester, N.Y., has paid a visit to the ancient dame, and taken a series of photographic and stereoscopic views of her. It is a singular fact that her hair, once white as snow, is now turning black and silky. If she lives another half century or so, she will at this rate be restored to blooming girlhood again."

How about that? Can it possibly be true? But the Mission San Diego de Alcala was founded in 1769, and Mission San Gabriel Archangel in 1771. She had a daughter at age 57? This doesn't sound right.

Another newspaper article in the Los Angeles (CA) Herald dated 9 June 1878 notes:

"A Notable Death - The Oldest Woman in the world

"Eulalia Perez de Guilen, who it is claimed had reached the patriarchal age of 143 years, died at the residence of her daughter, at the Mission San Gabriel, Los Angeles county, on Friday nite. She was born at Loreto, Baja Cal., where she married and resided until she became the mother of two children. With her two children, one an infant at the breast, she accompanied her husband, who was a soldier, and who was a member of a small detachment of troops sent by land from Loreto to San Diego not long after the founding of missions in Alta California by the Franciscan friars. She remained in San Diego, where her husband was stationed, some years and until Mr. Guilen was transferred to the mission of San Gabriel, then comparatively a new mission, to which place she accompanied him. She was the mother of a large family of children. While living in San Diego she acted as midwife, and after coming to San Gabriel she followed that calling both at the mission and in this city. Some of her family or connection attempted, about two years ago, to take the old lady to the Centennial, but as other members of her family were unwilling to have their ancestor carried off to be shown as a curiosity, proceedings were instituted in the courts here to restrain the commission of what they looked upon as almost a sacrilegious act. Since then the old lady has lived with her daughter at the mission of San Gabriel."

Well, there's a different story - still over 140 years, but a lot more believable detail.

The Wikipedia entry for Mission San Gabriel Archangel says "... buried among the padres is centenarian Eulalia Perez de Guillén Mariné, the 'keeper of the keys' under Spanish rule; her grave is marked by a bench dedicated in her memory."

The Wikipedia biography of Eulalia Perez de Guilen indicates her birth year as 1766. When she died in 1878, she was actually about 112 years old. That's more believable.

I checked the 1850, 1860 and 1870 census indexes on Ancestry and didn't see an obvious listing for here.

The classical California history books tell parts of this story, but not as well as the Wikipedia entry does.

Isn't it funny how newspapers publish the wildest stories? And this was a good one!

UPDATED: One of the references in the Wikipedia entry is this:

California's Centenarian: Eulalia Pérez de Guillén National Genealogical Society Quarterly June 1962, Volume 50 Number 2 (Washington, DC: National Genealogical Society, 1962).

How did mom get so smart?

All through my school years, I knew that my mother, Betty Virginia (Carringer) Seaver, was a really smart person. She seemed to know what I was doing, what I was studying, who I was playing or hanging with, what my interests were, all without asking a single question. If I was having trouble with homework, she would say "just ask if you need any help." It was like she "had eyes in the back of her head." Did she have spies at school? A pipeline to the teacher(s)? Did she talk to my friends' mothers all the time? Or was it just life experience, and her background as a student and as a teacher? I think it was the latter.

I was the first child of three boys, but she was an only child of only children. She always said that she was really lucky, that she was protected, nurtured and spoiled as a child, that she was an excellent student all through her school years. Mom attended Brooklyn Elementary School at 30th and Ash Streets in San Diego, then Woodrow Wilson Junior High on El Cajon Blvd, San Diego High School at Russ Blvd and 12th Avenue near downtown San Diego (graduating in 1937), and finally San Diego State College (graduating with a BA in 1941). She was the first of her direct family line to even attend college, let alone graduate. Her parents had a high school education, and her grandparents probably no more than a 9th grade education (although I don't know) - actually that might be better than a high school education now - see here!

My father, on the other hand, dropped out of high school, went to three different prep schools to get a high school degree, and then dropped out of Dartmouth College after injuring his knee. The last thing on his mind was education - it was all sports and girls.

After college graduation, Mom received a contract from the San Diego School District to teach Art at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School. This had a wonderful consequence, as I discussed in "The Wedding I Really Appreciate." She also taught Art and English at Memorial Junior High and Pacific Beach Junior High.

In our home at 2119 30th Street, we had a bookcase filled with the World Book encyclopedia, travel books, and adventure novels from the 1900 to 1940 time frame. We subscribed to the San Diego Union newspaper, and received the Saturday Evening Post, Life and Look magazines in the mail. These provided a wealth of learning opportunities for current affairs, geography, economics, etc. We discussed current affairs and had competitive games at the dinner table (and everywhere else, it seemed).

My mother was a very creative person. She majored in Art, and painted watercolors in the 1940's (escape from little boys?), made pottery in the 1950's, and created copper enamel scenes, ornaments and jewelry in the 1960's to 1980's (escape from big boys?). One of her social activities was to go to the Enamel Artists Guild meetings in Balboa Park regularly, and to contribute to art shows at local galleries.

Looking back over my life experiences with Mom, the qualities that stand out to me are patience and grace. Nothing seemed to faze her. Somehow she raised three active, educated, happy boys and she seemed to do it without yelling, beating or bribing. She was competitive without being aggressive or mean. She laughed easily.

Here is a picture of our family in 1976 - the occasion is my brother Scott's wedding - he was the youngest and last to marry. Mom's work raising three boys is done now, and she obviously enjoys the moment here. I'm the one on the left (age 32), my brother Stan is the curly guy on the right (age 29), and Scott is the hippie looking guy in the middle (age 20). Mom and Dad have aged gracefully (Dad was 64, Mom was 56).

In her later years, Mom really enjoyed reading historical, political, mystery and crime fiction books, and had her own little lending library at her home (I was one of her best customers!). She added to it every month, but re-read many of them over time. She kept her mind active until she died - she loved to watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, and we often conversed about current affairs, politics, and sports.

However, she didn't want to talk much about boring old Family History. She would identify photos and tell me stories about people, but she didn't really care about those old dead people that she didn't know, notwithstanding the "The Ancestry of Betty Virginia Carringer" book I gave her in 1994 for her 75th birthday.

I've always figured that I'm a chip off this wonderful genetic block - I tell myself that I'm happy, creative, witty, educated, intelligent, curious, reflective, patient (yeah, right!), lifelong reader, etc. - just like Mom. I guess I got the genealogy gene from Dad. It's not a bad combination, and I'm really proud of - and thankful for - Mom's accomplishments in life.

Saving computer images at the FHC

I was down at the San Diego Family History Center yesterday and worked a bit on the computer system collecting 1851 Canada census images for my Kemp, Sovereen and Putman families an Ancestry Institution (yes, they have ALL of the Ancestry collections - US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Italy, etc.).

The 1851 Census images are in PDF format so it was relatively easy to save them to a hard drive directory for copying to my flash drive later. However, the census image doesn't show the "source citation" - the film series, roll number, page number, etc. This information is on the summary page for the person searched for - how can I capture that (besides writing it down on a piece of paper in my Seaver-scrawl which I often misplace)?

My solution is to use OpenOffice 2.2 (OO) which is installed on the FHC computer systems. I open up a presentation format, create a number of blank pages, and then do the {ALT-Print Screen} key combination to copy the screen and then switch to the presentation program and paste it using a {Ctrl-V} key combination. In addition to capturing the PDF of the census page, I also captured a Zoomed image of the census record for my target families, along with the "person summary page" which listed the source data.

When I was done capturing images, I saved the OpenOffice document to the computer hard drive, inserted my flash drive, and copied the PDF and OO files to my flash drive, and then deleted the files I had created on the computer hard drive.

At home then, I copied the captured files to my hard drive, and can save each image in the OpenOffice presentation as a JPG file if I want to for transcription purposes. I also have a presentation ready-made to demonstrate to colleagues these techniques.

At the San Diego FHC, they don't have OpenOffice 2.2 listed in the Programs area of the Start menu for some reason. They used to just a month ago - I wonder why they took it out (I checked 5 different computers). No matter, I went to My Computer, Program Files and OpenOffice and found the "simpress.exe" file and clicked on it to open the presentation program. Worked like a charm! There are many ways around a roadblock!

I'm going to work on collecting the census records for my English ancestors the next time I'm down there.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Where is Ancestry World Tree in the new Ancestry Search?

While comparing the "old Ancestry Search" and "new Ancestry Search" results and presentation, I noticed that there was at least one major difference.

On the old Ancestry search screen, I chose the "Family Trees" tab and entered a check in "Exact Search" and "Seaver" in the "Last Name" box. Here's the result:

As you can see, it found entries in Public Member Trees (3,799), Personal Member Trees (3,544), One World Tree (2,007) and Ancestry World Tree (11,646).

In the "new Ancestry Search," I checked "Exact matches" and put "Seaver" in the "Last Name" box. The Family Trees section is way down the results list, and I clicked on the link to See All Family Tree results. Here's what I see:

In this list are Public Member Trees (12,109), Personal Member Trees (8,662), and One World Tree (6,925), plus several others (which were in the Vital Records section previously, I believe).

However, Ancestry World Tree is not included in the "new Ancestry Search" list. I wonder why? Is it because it is associated with Rootsweb and is now accessible only through Rootsweb (well,

My other mystery is why there are more matches in "new Ancestry Search" than in "old Ancestry Search" for the Public, Personal and One World Trees? I get a different results list when I click on the two different search results. Hmmm, I wonder why?

The "old Ancestry" gave me only 3 matches (from 3 different databases) when I request "Isaac" in the "First Name" box and "Seaver" in the "Last Name" box - all for persons named "Isaac Seaver."

In the "new Ancestry," when I input "Isaac" in the "First Name" box and "Seaver" in the "Last Name" box it found 117 matches - including spouses, children and parents named Isaac. It did find 8 "Isaac Seaver" items from 8 different databases, but it found 109 records where there was no "Isaac Seaver" as the subject of the record. When I ask for a search for "Isaac" "Seaver," I expect to receive results for "Isaac Seaver."

So that seems to explain the differences in the two Search results!

I'm pretty sure that I don't like finding more people not named "Isaac Seaver" when I really want to find an "Isaac Seaver." The searches are hard enough without this help from the new Ancestry Search finding people I don't want to find.

Sometimes change is not always progress! Off my soapbox (and I don't mean to offend the Ancestry programmers - it's a hard job, I know, but I shared some of my concerns back in February and March).

New Ancestry Search available to everyone

On the 24/7 Family History Circle blog, Juliana Smith announced that the "New Ancestry Search Beta Now Available to Everyone" today.

I'm not sure that it's good news for everyone, but now everyone can try it out. I tried to point out some of the new "features" in my posts back in early April - here and here. Some people said they couldn't access the new Ancestry Search for some reasons - hopefully, they can now.

Frankly, it looks to me that the "new Ancestry Search" just changed the "look and feel" of the web pages and the presentation of the results obtained. Did the actual "Search Engine" change? Did they improve the search algorithms to make them faster or or more accurate? I don't know - it would be interesting to find out.

I've worked for more than two months in both the old and new Ancestry Search versions, and I really prefer the old "look and feel" and presentation of results. My opinion is that it took me fewer mouse clicks to find a record in the old system. It was easier to change an existing search. It was also easier to start a new search since the Search Box was usually at the bottom of each web page. In the new Search, you have to click on a link for each item, then fill in the boxes one at a time. That may be "user-friendly" but it takes a lot longer.

Now I'm wondering just how long the "old Ancestry Search" "look and feel" and results presentation will be around.

The one thing I do like in the new system is the listing of all matches for a given search - the Historical Records, Family Trees, Stories and Newspapers and Photo and Maps are all in one list when you get your matches. In the old system, you had to click on tabs for the four items.

Have you tried the "new Ancestry Search" yet? Do you like it? If not, have you told Ancestry about it - they do encourage feedback (a link is in the upper right-hand corner of the New Search screen).

Los Angeles area resources

In my wanderings around the Internet, I occasionally find a really helpful web site that I save to my Favorites and use frequently. The other day, I wondered what resources there might be in the Los Angeles area besides the LA Public Library and the Southern California Genealogical Society in Burbank.

I found a link to the Los Angeles Regional Family History Center web site at This is a really great site - with lots of information about activities at the LARFHC in Santa Monica. Besides the summary information on the main page, there are links to many pages with information on specific topics. The webmaster, Jon Schweitzer, has done a wonderful job of collecting information and posting it and keeping it up-to-date.

The important pages, for me at least, include:

* LARFHC Online Genealogy Classes at I checked out several, including the Land Research, Beginning Genealogy, Finding Birthplaces and Dates, and Genealogy Research on the Web.

* A comprehensive list of the Online Databases available at the LARFHC at This includes descriptions of the commercial databases that are FREE to use at this location.

* Book Holdings ( and Microfilm/Fiche Holdings ( at the LAR FHC.

* Southern California Libraries, Genealogical and Historical Societies at

* Genealogy Resources on the Internet at

There are many more useful and helpful pages.

I emailed Jon the other day to ask him to add the Chula Vista Genealogical Society to the list of Southern California societies and to add my blog to his Internet resources. He did these immediately, and has also provided some comments about the CVGS web page design!

I really appreciate all of the hard work that Jon and others have put into this web site to help Los Angeles area researchers do their genealogy work, and by extension the rest of us by making information freely available. The Los Angeles Regional FHC educational programs and holdings have excellent publicity through this site. I can hardly wait to visit this Regional FHC!!!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Another "Family History is Really Bunk" article

The Spectator magazine in the United Kingdom has an article dated 30 April 2008 by Leo McKinstry titled "Sorry, But Family History Is Really Bunk." There are four pages to it, Page 1, page 2, page 3 and page 4.

Some snippets:

"Leo McKinstry says the current craze for genealogy reflects an unhealthy combination of snobbery and inverse snobbery, and is a poor replacement for national history"

"But the belief that there is something intrinsically interesting about a family’s origins is badly mistaken. Most people’s ancestry is as dull as their holiday snaps. As any reader of historical biography knows, by far the most boring passages in any such book are the early sections covering the subject’s forebears. But that does not deter the obsessives who think that their findings are ‘fascinating’. "

"The tragedy is that the family history boom has not led to a greater understanding of our nation’s past. While we beaver away on the net or in the archives, we have never been more ignorant about our island story. Genealogy is no substitute for a true sense of identity."

Interestingly, the author ascribes a political motive to the promotion of family history and genealogy research in the UK. Read the whole thing, and the comments too. I'm reminded of the brouhaha in the genealogy world a year ago about a similar article in Smithsonian magazine.

Not everybody thinks that family history research is worthwhile, notwithstanding all the efforts by genealogy bloggers!

The genealogy pub experience

A funny thing happened on the APG mailing list last night and today - it was like all these serious professional genealogists were giddy - and they probably needed to be after the heavy discussions about the Catholic Church records.

It started when Tom Kemp titled his post "1st genealogy pub in America - 284 years ago today." He meant the first "publication" but you wouldn't know it from the comments:

* Jodee said "The subject line got me excited, thinking there was actually a Genealogy PUB somewhere... :-)"

* Janessa added "I liked the idea of a genealogy pub too, until I got to thinking about the possible pickup lines there ... 'Been to any great cemeteries lately?' "

* Peggy added "So, would the bar be lined with microfilm readers and computers with Internet access? Beer and genealogy I think are very compatible!"

* Rhonda gurgled "I'm not a beer drinker, but I'd have a strawberry margarita with an extra shot of tequelia just to celebrate this day - now've I've got to mark it on my calendar for next year! "

* Richard had a great idea "The only rule for a genealogy pub is that there be no damned loud music That way the genealogists can tell their harrowing experience involved in learning the identity of great-great whatever., (Each person gets a turn, except if someone buys a round, he or she gets to go next."

* Chris said "I was thinking it would need some theme music, though - maybe like the theme from "Cheers". All we would need to do is change the line : 'Where everybody knows your name.' to 'Everybody knows surnames' "

* Drew added the lyrics: "OK, now we have to do the whole lyrics:

"Finding your roots in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your brick walls, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to find a way? Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows surnames, and they're always glad you came.

"You wanna be where you can see, our puzzles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows Surnames.
You wanna go where people know, sources aren't all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows surnames.

***Drew Smith"


* Craig opined "Shucks, I thought if you bought a round you could skip having to tell anyone anything. Then you could just concentrate on the single malt and the pros and cons of proxy baptism."

* Bob asked "More to the point -- is there a genealogical pub in Kansas City that I canvisit next week during the NGS Annual Conference in the States?"

* Melinde said "This has real potential. Anyone else thinking a "Callahan's CrossTimeSaloon" for genealogists?"

* Craig (wearing his kilt) added "Aye, lass but you would be misunderstanding our purpose. As much as we like that single malt Irish whiskey, it be Scots single malt we be after. The the strictly cash policy, well you know how Scots are with cash. And in that is our pain and our joy."

* Helen asked "Ok. Can Norwegians join in? After all, the Irish are just ship-wrecked Norwegians who couldn't find their way home."

Whew. What a wonderful thread ... wasn't that fun? Witty? Educational too. We could use more threads like these sometimes, eh?

I missed out on this frivolity and fun, having a full genealogy day where I was away from my email for about 8 hours yesterday.

Thanks to all of the APGers who contributed...I hope they don't mind me excerpting them here for a coherent story. er, thread.

Of course, I sort of hoped that the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe would morph into something like a genealogy pub - where "you can get any genealogy info you want at Randy's restaurant..."

Mom and Me - I Smile for the Camera

Dear footnoteMaven has come up with another excellent Carnival - I Smile for the Camera. The first Carnival is a picture showing mother's love.

Well, I found this one in my family picture collection - I think it qualifies!

Who is the baby? Moi!!!! The picture was probably taken in early 1944 in front of my parents rented house at 577 Twin Oaks Avenue in Chula Vista.
Needless to say, the love I felt from my mother captured in this photo lasted her whole life, for which I am grateful and thankful. In retrospect, I wish that I had spent more time with her throughout our married life.
Here is my Mother's Day tribute to my mother last year. Reading this again brought tears to my eyes, a prayer to my heart and thankfulness to my head.

The WeRelate Genealogy Wiki

When the WeRelate web site ( started up last year, I was really impressed by the potential of the web site and the wiki concept. Like several others, I uploaded one of my databases to try it out, and found that it was easy to use. I posted about my experiences at

My WeRelate home page is at I noted today that four other people are "watching" my page - including bloggers Harold Henderson, Denise Olson and Apple.

Occasionally, I receive a notice via email that someone has edited one of my pages and I check it out. However, I haven't added anything to my people/families since I uploaded the database in August 2007.

I really like the wiki concept. The site is very readable once you figure out how to navigate it. I haven't fully explored it myself -- and I need to, I think, in order to better understand and use it. They have some tutorials for users at The creators and dedicated users of WeRelate are trying hard to improve the web site and make it user-friendly.

The main page for WeRelate claims that there are over 1,500,000 people/families in this genealogy and family history wiki. This pales in comparison to other "user-submitted" web sites, but it is the most for a wiki site. On WeRelate, each person and family has an "article."

There is an interesting discussion about "junk genealogy" and some visitor statistics in the article at The visit statistics for April show that they had 11,432 unique hits.

I wonder why more people aren't using the site? It may be just a lack of publicity, or it may be the fear that the submitted data will be "stolen" or "sold." Some people seem to be loyal to the web site where they have placed their data.

My opinion is that every web site of this type needs a "critical mass" of information before the larger group of "family tree genealogists" find it, no matter how many announcements and blog posts are written. People check Ancestry One World Tree and Public Member Trees, FamilySearch Ancestral File, Rootsweb WorldConnect and other user-submitted databases to find others researching the same person or family because they have submitted data to them or know about them.

Apparently, WeRelate doesn't have that critical mass yet. I hope they do soon, because I think it can be a real benefit to genealogy researchers everywhere. I fear that only a small percentage of researchers are aware of WeRelate.

If you are thinking about uploading your genealogy database (in a GEDCOM file format) to a FREE database, I encourage you to do so at It has, in my opinion, the best ease of use, user interfaces, person and family information, and highest potential to be of real help to the genealogy researcher community.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

FamilySearch Record Search screens

After my two posts yesterday about the currently available databases and their completion status on the LDS FamilySearch Record Search web site, I thought it might be worthwhile to share some of the "look and feel" of the search process and the results.

After logging in, you get the screen shown below with the list of the available databases. You can click on any one of the databases and get a search box for the specific database, or you can use the Search Box on this first screen. I did the latter and put "seaver" in the Last Name field. There are other options in the Search box - an Event box (All, birth/baptism, marriage, death/burial), two Year Range boxes, a Place box, and a box for the type of search match you want ("Exact match," "Exact & close matches" and "Exact, close & partial matches"). For this exercise, I left All events, left the years and location blank, and chose "Exact & close matches." I think that this means a Soundex match but I'm not sure. There are more search options - you can specify parents and/or spouse names also.

When I clicked on Search, there were 3,900 matches in all of the databases (I think that this is the maximum that they allow at this point - there were probably more matches but they limit them at 3,900).

The screen below shows the first page of matches - the first column has the person's name, which is the link to the detail page for the person; the database name is shown below the person's name on the left; Events are in the second column, Spouse and children in the third column, and Parents in the fourth column. If you put the mouse over the name link, you get the pop-up box with most or all of the information in the record.

I clicked on the first person's name "Jennie Seaver" and got a screen with all of the transcribed and indexed information (screen not shown) for the 1900 US Census. It essentially matches what is in the pop-up in the previous screen. On this page is an icon to click to see the image. I clicked on the icon, and the first image page came up.

The first image page shows the entire image of the record, but, in most cases, you will have to use the Zoom slide above the image to read it clearly. Note the small box with the highlighted area shown in the lower right hand corner of the image.

I slid the Zoom bar a little to the right and got a readable image, as shown below. The "magic hand" (what is it really called?) can be used to move around the image in the frame so you can read the details.

Notice that the yellow highlighted area in the small page view in the lower right hand corner shows the area of the image shown in the frame.

Above the image frame are buttons for Print, Save, Negative on the left and Previous and Next on the right. You can also choose a page number to go to in the box on the upper right.

When I printed the 1900 census image using the Print button, I got an 8.5 x 11 page in portrait mode with the highlighted portion of the page readable and the rest of the page fairly unreadable (too dark). I couldn't figure out how to make all of the page be readable. I changed my printer orientation to Landscape and got the same size image.

When I clicked the Save button, I got a JPG file (3771 x 3778 pixels, 538 kb in size). I can print this image and get a clear print on 8.5 x 11 paper.

I'll discuss the Search process in a later post.

SDGS Meeting on Saturday, May 10

The monthly meeting of the San Diego Genealogical Society will be at 12 noon on Saturday, May 10 at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church (8350 Lake Murray Blvd (at Jackson Drive) in San Diego).

The program speaker will be Dr. Franklin Gaylis on "My Jewish Ancestry: A Case Study." The program summary and speaker biography are below (from the SDGS Newsletter):

"Sometimes there is no better way to learn the nuts-and-bolts of genealogical research than to see the research of others and their successes. The 'case study' method is often the best way to see how the various research elements fit together and solve difficult research problems. It can also be a most instructive way for beginners to see the end result of painstaking and time consuming research efforts.

"Dr. Gaylis will share his amazing research experiences from his 2001 travels to retrace his roots to the Baltics. Many records had only recently become accessible with the downfall of the Soviet Union in the areas where his grandparents fled at the turn of the 20th century. Be sure not to miss this fascinating tour of discovery, particularly if you have ancestors from this region.

"Dr. Franklin Gaylis, M.D., a La Mesa urologist, was born in England and lived most of his life in South Africa where he went to medical school and married his wife, Jean. In 1982, he immigrated to the US where he did his residency training at the University of Minnesota and Northwestern University. Seeking a more favorable climate, he moved to San Diego and set up his practice.

"Dr. Gaylis has done extensive study on Jewish history in Lithuania and Latvia as well as their general history over the past 3 to 4 thousand years."

I'm looking forward to hearing Dr. Gaylis' presentation about his heritage, his travel experiences and his genealogical research.

Family Photographs - Post 4: Carringer/Auble/Smith Families in 1920

I'm posting old family photographs from my collection on Wednesdays, but they won't be wordless posts like others do - I simply cannot have a wordless post.

Here is one of the more interesting images from my Carringer/Auble/Smith family collection:

This picture was taken in about 1920 in San Diego, California, in front of the Carringer family home at 2105 30th Street. The persons in this picture are (from left to right):
* Georgia (Kemp) Auble (seated, 1868-1952, mother of Emily (Auble) Carringer)
* Mary Ann (Smith) (Chenery) Cramer (standing, known as "Matie," 1866-1922, daughter of Devier and Abigail (Vaux) Smith, sister of Della (Smith) Carringer)
* Abbie Ardell (Smith) Carringer (seated holding cat, known as "Della," 1862-1944, daughter of Devier and Abigail (Vaux) Smith, wife of Austin Carringer, mother of Lyle Carringer)
* Harvey Edgar Carringer (standing in hat, known as "Ed," 1852-1946, brother of Austin Carringer, never married)
* Emily (Auble) Carringer (standing, 1899-1977, daughter of Georgia (Kemp) Auble, wife of Lyle Carringer, mother of Betty Carringer).
* Henry Austin Carringer (seated holding baby, known as "Austin," 1853-1946, husband of Della (Smith) Carringer, father of Lyle Carringer).
* Betty Virginia Carringer (baby on Austin Carringer's lap, 1919-2002, daughter of Lyle and Emily (Auble) Carringer).
* Lyle Lawrence Carringer (standing on right, 1891-1976, son of Austin and Della Carringer, husband of Emily (Auble) Carringer, father of Betty Carringer).
* Abigail A. (Vaux) Smith (seated on right, known as "Abbie," 1844-1931, mother of Della Carringer and Mary Ann Cramer).
This is a four generation photograph with great-grandmother Abigail (Vaux) smith, grandmother Della (Smith) Carringer, father Lyle Carringer and daughter Betty Carringer. Betty is my mother.
This photograph was in the collection of Smith/Carringer/Auble family papers from the estate of Lyle and Emily (Auble) Carringer that I obtained from my mother, Betty (Carringer) Seaver after 1988. It is now in the possession of Randy Seaver, Chula Vista CA.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Louis A. "Babe" Sturla - A Beautiful Man

Attentive readers know that I made a quick trip to Santa Cruz last week in order to shepherd my two grandsons while their parents went to Petaluma to celebrate the life and mourn the death of Michael's grandfather, Louis A. "Babe" Sturla.

Babe's obituary is on this page. I'm not sure how long it will be there, so I will include it below.

Louis R. "Babe" Sturla
March 31, 1924 - April 25, 2008
Petaluma, California

Passed away at home in Petaluma, CA , Friday, April 25, 2008, of congestive heart failure. Beloved husband for 62 years of Mary Leda Sturla. Loving father of Cheryl Strubeck and Robert Sturla (Heidi) both of Petaluma and the late Janice Hede Martinez. Adored grandfather of Michael (Lori), Diana (Bill), Kimberly (Bill), Amber, Angelina and Jimmy. Cherished great grandfather of 5. Brother of the late Melba M. Calegari and brother-in-law of Adolph Calegari of Petaluma. Beloved uncle of Arleen Calegari of Petaluma. A native of San Francisco, Ca. Age 84 years.

Babe, lifelong resident of Petaluma was well known for his involvement in youth sports, coaching CYO basketball and Little League teams for many years. Babe also served in the U. S. Army Air Force during World War II. He retired from the Petaluma Sanitary Disposal Co. in 1971 and later was involved in managing St. Vincent de Paul Society Thrift Stores in Sonoma County and later managed the Petaluma Kitchen for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He was a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, YMI #9, Nicasio Parlor #183 NSGW, Harmony Grove #38 Druids, American Legion and SIRS #100.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, May 1, 2008 at the PARENT- SORENSEN MORTUARY & CREMATORY, 850 Keokuk St., Petaluma from 11:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. with the Vigil Service conducted at 7:00 P.M. Family and friends are also invited to meet on Friday, May 2, 2008 at 8:45 A.M. at the mortuary, thence to St. Vincent de Paul Church where a Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 A.M. Committal will follow at Cypress Hill Memorial Park. The family prefers memorials be made to Hospice of Petaluma or to St. Vincent de Paul Church.

I loved Babe. I kissed him goodbye last November, but he insisted on living until Michael came home from Iraq. What an absolutely wonderful, vital, loving man. He was always positive and encouraging, interested in everyone's lives, and proud of his family.

He and Leda welcomed Lori into their family and adored her - and the little boys. And he welcomed us - his grandson's in-laws - to his family. We attended one Thanksgiving and several Christmas holidays at their home in Petaluma, and reveled in the beauty and love of this family.

Babe died in the arms of his loving wife; I can't think of a better way to go. He died knowing that he had done everything he could to nurture and support his family and his community, and that his Lord and Savior would welcome him with "Well done, good and faithful servant." May he rest in peace.

LDS Record Search database completion status

In my last post, I highlighted the databases that are available to search or browse on the LDS FamilySearch Record Search list at

Unfortunately, not all indexed databases are complete - yet. Here is the status for the USA Indexed databases:

* 1850 United States Census - 61% complete (states indexed are AR, CA, CT, DE, DC, FL, IL, IA, KY, MD, MA, MI, MN, NH, NM, OR, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VT). The other states are browsable only.
* 1850 United States Census (Mortality Schedule) - 94% complete (states indexed are AR, CT, DE, DC, IL, IA, KY, MD, MA, MI, NH, SC, TN, TX, UT). The other states are browsable only.
* 1850 United States Census (Slave Schedules) - 39% Complete (states indexed are AR, DE, DC, FL, MD, TN UT). The other states are browsable only.
* 1855 Massachusetts State Census - indexed and imaged for Boston only.
* 1865 Massachusetts State Census - indexed and imaged for Boston only.

* 1880 United States Census - 100% complete, index only, not browsable
* 1895 Argentina Census - 100% complete (indexed and images)
* 1900 United States Census - 98% complete (all states indexed and imaged, except for Armed forces and Indian Territory which are imaged only)

* Freedman's Bank Records 1867-1874 - 100% complete, but only 67,000 records.

* New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Iaslnd) 1892-1924 - 100% complete

* Georgia Deaths 1914-1927 - 100% complete
* Ohio Deaths 1908-1953 - 100% complete
* Ontario Deaths 1869-1947 - 100% complete
* Texas Death Index 1964-1998 - 100% complete
* Texas Deaths 1890-1976 - 100% complete

* Utah Death Certificates 1904-1956 - 100% complete
* Utah, Salt Lake county Death Records, 1908-1949 - 100% complete
* Washington Death Certificates, 1907-1960 - 100% complete
* West Virginia Deaths 1853-1970 - 41% complete
* Freedmen's Bureau Virginia Marriages ca. 1815-1866 - 100% complete, but only for Augusta, Goochland, Louisa, Nelson and Rockbridge counties.

The message here is that "we need to be patient..." I can hardly wait for the 1855 and 1865 Massachusetts census records to come online. I see that I have some data mining to do in the Vital Records indexes for the available states - I should be able to find quite a few Seaver folks in these databases.

One thing I noticed in the state death indexes was that the father's name, if given, appears in the index also. So a female born a Seaver but married to a Smith will show up if I search for Seaver if her father's surname was given in the death record. That is very good!

LDS Record Search Databases

I haven't checked into the LDS Record Search databases recently, so I clicked over to (you do have to register if you have not been there before) and found that the list of indexed and/or browsable databases now includes:


* 1850 United States Census - indexed and browsable, new or updated in last 30 days
* 1850 United States Census (Mortality Schedule) - indexed and browsable, new or updated in last 30 days
* 1850 United States Census (Slave Schedules) - indexed and browsable
* 1855 Massachusetts State Census - indexed and browsable

* 1855 Wisconsin State Census - browsable
* 1865 Massachusetts State Census - indexed
* 1875 Wisconsin State Census - browsable
* 1880 United States Census - indexed
* 1885 Wisconsin State Census (browsable)

* 1895 Wisconsin State Census - browsable, new or updated in last 30 days
* 1895 Argentina Census - indexed
* 1900 United States Census - indexed and browsable
* 1905 Wisconsin State Census - browsable
* 1930 Mexico Census - browsable


* England, Cheshire, Register of electors, 1842-1900 - indexed
* Freedman Bank Records 1865-1874 - indexed
* Maryland, Cecil county Probate Estate Files 1851-1940 - indexed and browsable


* Vermont Land Records, Early to 1900 - browsable


* New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island) 1892-1924 - indexed


* United States World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 - browsable


* Cheshire, Church of England Burial Records 1538-1907 - indexed
* Cheshire, Church of England Christening Records 1538-1907 - indexed
* Cheshire, Church of England Marriage Records 1538-1907 - indexed
* Freedmen's Bureau Virgina Marriages ca. 1815-1866 - indexes
* Georgia Deaths 1914-1927 - indexed

* Ohio Deaths 1908-1953 - indexed
* Ontario Deaths 1869-1947 - indexed
* Texas Death Index 1964-1998 - indexed
* Texas Deaths, 1890-1976 - indexed, new or updated in last 30 days
* U.S. Social Security Index - indexed

* Utah Death Certificates 1904-1956 - Indexed
* Utah, Salt Lake County Death Records, 1908-1949 - indexed
* Washington Death Certificates, 1907-1960 - indexed
* West Virginia Deaths 1853-1970 - indexed
* Czech Republic, Litomerice Regional Archive Church Books 1552-1905 - browsable

* England, Diocese of Durham Bishops Transcripts ca. 1700-1900 - browsable
* France, Coutances Catholic diocese 1802-1907 - browsable
* Germany, Brandenburg and Posen, Civil Transcripts of Parish Registers, 1800-1974 - browsable
* Illinois, Diocese of Belleville, Catholic Parish Records 1729-1956 - browsable
* Spain, Albacete Diocese, Catholic Parish Records 1550-1930 - browsable
* Virginia, Fluvanna County Colbert Funeral Home Records 1929-1976 - browsable

The "indexed" databases can be searched (and many of them are linked to images, but not all of them are) and the "browsable" databases can be searched page by page (they appear to be collected into groups - counties or towns, etc.)
From talking to my society colleagues, my impression is that very few casual researchers knows about these FREE databases being available. The LDS people down at the FHC know about them.

FamilySearch Indexing is about a year old now, and has done a tremendous job of indexing these databases, with more in the works. It may take 5 years or more to get all of the US census records online, but it's going to happen. It may take longer to get the vital, deed, probate, tax, town, church and other original sources online, but it's going to happen. I can hardly wait.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Hale's Honey of Horehound and Tar

You might wonder, as I did, what in the hail was Hale's Honey of Horehound and Tar? I saw this advertisement on page 3 in the 4 January 1883 issue of The Weekly Hawkeye newspaper of Burlington, Iowa. It says:

FOR THE CURE OF Coughs, colds, Influenza, Hoarseness, Difficult Breathing, and all Afflictions of the Throat, Bronchial Tubes, and Lungs, leading to consumption.

"This infallible remedy is composed of the HONEY of the plant horehound, in chemical union with TAR-BALM, extracted from the LIFE PRINCIPLE of the forest tree ABIES BALSAMEA, or Balm of Gilead.

"The Honey of Horehound SOOTHS AND SCATTLES all irritations and inflammations, and the Tar-Balm CLEANSES AND HEALS the throat and air-passages leading to the lungs. FIVE additional ingredients keep the organs cool, moist, and in healthful union. Let no prejudices keep you from trying this great medicine of a famous Doctor, who has saved thousands of lives by it in his large private practice.

"N.B. The Tar Balm has no BAD TASTE or smell.

Great saving to buy large size.
'Pike's Toothache Drops' Cure in 1 Minute
Sold by all Druggists

Why did I go to all the trouble to type that up? Because it caught my eye while doing a search in newspapers for a colleague, and it applied to my present condition:

Cough - check! Cold - yep! Hoarseness - you bet! Difficult breathing - ask my wife! Influenza - probably not! Hey, I got 4 out of 5. I catch this crud from my grandsons just about every time I see them. This time, the 4-year old had the cough and the 2-year old had the runny crusty nose... I wonder if my Tylenol Cold & Flu white and blue pills are made of this same type of stuff?

I did a Google search on Honey of Horehound and Abies Balsamea and found that the ads were in the newspapers from the Civil War up to at least 1900. There is a good article about Patent Medicines in Quackwatch at

Scattles? What are scattles, you ask? I have no clue .. sounds like it may be related to coughing. All I saw on Google was a game like Skittles.

While Googling, I saw that Janice Brown on the Cow Hampshire blog has a nice picture of the advertisement here from 1876. The ad didn't change in seven years!

Of course, I didn't find what I was looking for to help my colleague, but at least I got a blog post out of the futile search.

Solving Family Mysteries one at a time

Do you have a family mystery? For example, why did a man leave his family? Or why did he move to the west?

One mystery on my wife's side of the family was "why did Elijah McKnew leave Maryland and come to California before 1865?" The "family story" was that Elijah did not want to serve in the Army during the Civil War and went to the "gold country" in California to escape military service.

The US Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, which is a new database recently added on, provides one of the answers to the family mystery:

Elijah McKnew, age 23, born in Baltimore MD, a laborer, enlisted in the 1st Dragoons, Company A on 3 January 1856. He was 5' 7-1/2" tall, hazel eyes, brown hair, fair complexion. He deserted on 20 January 1856. He served all of 17 days!

My guess is that he came west after deserting. In 1856, he was just 20 years old. His mother died in 1845, and his father married twice more, and they resided in Washington DC for several years. So now we have a probable reason for coming to California.

I can't find Elijah McKnew in the 1860 census. He is in the 1870 census in Tuolumne County CA (listed as E A McNew, age 34 born in MD, with wife Jane and children A.J. and A.R. McNew).

He must have corresponded with his siblings over the years, since he and his family corresponded with several of his siblings and their children. A picture of Elijah and some of his family in 1906 is here.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

US Army Enlistment Records, 1798-1914 has added a significant database to its fine collection of Military records - the U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914. The picture below shows the actual record for a page containing a certain Russell Smith (not the one I'm looking for, but this will do for illustrative purposes.

The headings across the top include (with the entries for this Russell Smith):

* NAMES - Smith, Russell
* AGE - 21
* EYES - blue
* HAIR - Light
* FEET - 5
* INCHES - 7-2/4
* WHERE BORN (State, Empire or Kingdom) - N.Y.
* WHERE BORN (Town, County or Province) - Washington
* ENLISTED When - 1833, Oct. 19
* ENLISTED Where - Rochester
* ENLISTED By Whom - Lt. Hetzel
* ENLISTED For What Period - 3 yrs
* FUTURE HISTORY Regiment and Company - 2 Inf. C
* FUTURE HISTORY Discharge, Date of - blank
* FUTURE HISTORY, Discharge, Cause of - blank
* FUTURE HISTORY, Died - blank
* FUTURE HISTORY, Deserted - 30 May 34
* FUTURE HISTORY, Apprehended - blank
* REMARKS - blank.

As you can see, there are quite a few interesting columns for these Army enlistees, including a physical description.

The citation for this database is:

" U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data: Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M233, 81 rolls); Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C."

The database description reads:

"This database contains a register of enlistments in the U.S. Army from 1798-1914. Data in these registers was compiled from a variety of other military records, including enlistment papers, muster rolls, and unit records. Information listed on these records includes:

* Name of enlistee
* Age at time of enlistment
* Birthplace
* Date of enlistment
* Enlistment place
* Occupation
* Physical description (eye color, hair color, complexion, and height)
* Rank, company, and regiment
* Date and cause of discharge
* Remarks

"Note: some of this information be only be obtained by viewing the register image. Also, the register images are usually two pages long. When viewing an image, be sure to scroll all the way to the right in order to see all pages that are part of that record.
"These records are arranged chronologically and alphabetically according to first letter of the surname."

I searched for many of my male ancestors but did not find one listed in this database. I don't know how many persons are listed in this database, nor if the database is completely online at this time.

UPDATE 5/5: Craig Manson posted about this database on Friday and did some investigation into the number of entries in the database. He searched by Country of birth in his post at Craig found that there are over 1 million entries in this database, which doesn't seem "high enough" to me for enlistments between 1798 and 1914. Thanks, Craig, for the research.

Best oif the Genea-Blogs - April 27-May 3, 2008

Here are my picks for great reads from the genealogy blogs for this past week.

My criteria are pretty simple - I pick posts that advance knowledge about genealogy, address current genealogy issues, provide personal family history, are funny or are poignant. I don't list posts destined for the Carnival of Genealogy, or other meme submissions (but I do include summaries of them), or my own posts.

* "Do You Have Taphophilia?" by Lori Thornton on the Smoky Mountain Family Historian blog. Lori defines the term and admits her love for ... well, read her post.

* "Becoming a Top 1000 Web Property" by Paul Allen on the Paul Allen (the lesser) blog. Paul always provides interesting and challenging insights on creating and developing companies.

* "Decline of Letter Writing" by John Newmark on the Transylvanian Dutch blog. John's comments are, I think, exactly right about letter writing, email and telephone use. Of course, that is exactly why some of us blog - so that there is some sort of permanent record of our musings.

* "The Ancestry Insider Unveiled" by the AI on the Ancestry Insider blog. The AI shows us a Simpsonized likeness of himself (hmmm, male, hair, eyebrows, teeth, we've narrowed it down some) and comments on the Ancestry World Archives Project (I missed this last week, but it was the only guess that anyone made).

* "Lessons Learned from a Genetic Genealogist Quiz" by Blaine Bettinger on The Genetic Genealogist blog. Blaine sets us straight on the answers to his quiz. I got 700 on it - missing two questions that Blaine discusses in this post.

* "Royal Me and Thee" by Tim Abbott on the Walking the Berkshires blog. Tim has an interesting take DNA results and the royal European bloodlines. He had me with the Lady Godiva poster!

* "Grandma's Apron" by Ole Bob on Bob and Reb's Genealogy blog. This post gives us some idea about why the women in times before yesterday wore aprons and how they used them.

* "Think it's a man's world? Think again" by Larry Lehmer on the Passing It On blog. Larry analyzes an interesting article about low sperm counts and notes that males may be obsolete in about 125,000 years. Whew...I made it, I guess!

* "Friday from the Collectors - May 2: Oscar Wilde, Sonny Bono and the Naked Orphans" by Craig Manson writing on footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed blog. Craig takes us through copyright and ownership of old photographs. This is one of the most unique blog postings ever too!

I encourage you to go to the blogs listed above and read their articles, and add their blog to your Favorites, Bloglines, reader, feed or email if you like what you read. Please make a comment to them also - we all appreciate feedback on what we write.

Did I miss a great genealogy blog post? Tell me!