Saturday, November 15, 2008

CGSSD Meeting report

The Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego (CGSSD) had its monthly meeting today - there were user groups for RootsMagic and Legacy, then an Annual Meeting with officer reports and elections, followed by a nice lunch spread.

I got there late due to another commitment, and went into the Legacy Family Tree user group meeting at about 9:35 a.m.. Louise G was the leader, and she was working her way through the training video "Your 12-Step Checklist to Using Legacy." We watched a series of short video segments from the CDROM and finished the video right at 10:15. It was interesting to see some of the "nuts and bolts" inside Legacy 7 - the program has lots of options! The one that we all cringed at, however, was the advice to back up our database on "floppy disks" - this was made in 2002, apparently. Legacy should revise that, and any other segments, that are out of standard practice in 2008.

After a short break, former President John Kracha presided over the Annual meeting where the officers gave their reports for the past calendar year. The CGSSD membership is now 212, with 19 of them out of the San Diego area. Average attendance was 49 for the programs, with 30 for the user group meetings. They have had about 100 responses to the member survey sent out in email several weeks ago - that's a pretty good return!

The COMPU.GEN quarterly newsletter editor for the past five years has been Joan Lowrey, and she has to relinquish the office due to family issues. There is an assistant editor, but they need an editor to do the planning and layout for each issue. The proof readers are willing to stay on board. The question was raised if the task would be reduced by providing online access behind a membership wall to a PDF of the newsletter, and the answer was "no" - the planning, editing and layout still have to be performed. An online edition would permit more pages per issue, but there are quite a few libraries that subscribe and want the printed copy of the newsletter.

Elections were held, and the following officers were elected:

* President: Corlee Morris (incumbent)
* Vice President- Administration: Al Strohlen
* Vice President - Membership: Dale Nesbit (incumbent)
* Secretary: Joan Dittmer
* Treasurer: Louise Guilbault (incumbent)

After the meeting, I talked to several people about the newsletter, and they asked "what would you recommend?" My answer was to "provide what your customers want" - a printed copy for those that want it, and an online copy for those that want that. This wouldn't reduce the editor's job any, but would reduce the society's cost of printing and mailing to those who want it online in PDF form.

We also discussed the differences between CGSSD and other local societies: CGSSD is focused on computer issues and every presentation is on or near the "cutting edge" of software, database, web site or other technology issues. The majority of SDGS and CVGS programs are more on general or specific genealogy topics, which are usually more "evergreen" like - the information can be used in years to come. This is why I (and other San Diego area genealogists) appreciate and enjoy CGSSD, of course!

It was interesting to see how CGSSD runs its annual meeting - it's completely different from the SDGS meeting and the CVGS meeting! It was informative, efficient and comprehensive.

The venue for the CGSSD meetings are large auditorium-style classrooms (seating for about 100) at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) in La Jolla. There are desktops, plugs and wireless Internet available at the seats (with a guest password) and the presentations are done with the LCD projector from the ceiling hooked to the speaker's podium. It is, by far, the best venue for the San Diego genealogy societies - it's large enough, everything works well, and is fairly central for all of the County (25 miles from Chula Vista, about 20 miles from Carlsbad and El Cajon). CGSSD is fortunate to have this connection with UCSD professors and IT experts.

"Unclaimed Trains" case in San Diego

Frederick Perchway Jamieson died on 23 July 2008 in a downtown San Diego hotel, leaving a rented room full of the Lionel electric train collection he had bought over many years. The County Administrator could not find any indication of family members from the papers of the deceased, and the collection was to be sold at auction today. An article, titled "Beloved train sets head for auction,"about this situation appeared in Friday's San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper.

Today's San Diego Union-Tribune front page has a follow-up article - titled "Collector's family derails auction of model trains" which explains the effort by a local dentist and his daughter to find living relatives of Frederick Jamieson after the County Administrator did not find any useful records. How the case was solved:

"The investigators apparently didn't do what Leucadia dentist Andrew Softley and his 10-year-old daughter, Julie Ann, did after reading the article about Jamieson yesterday morning.

"A Google search using Jamieson's first, middle and last names turned up several postings written four years ago by Janice Sellers, a genealogist in Oakland.

"At the time of the postings, Sellers was dating Evan Jamieson and helping him search for his father. The search wasn't successful, but her posts are probably the only places on the Internet that link Frederick Jamieson to a living relative."

Read the whole article for more information, including the family situation.

So the "Unclaimed Trains" have found a home - I just hope that the heirs will appreciate what Frederick left them as his posterity. Cases like this are similar to many of the "Unclaimed Persons" cases that the Facebook group is dealing with - these are people who have left their families for some reason and cannot be easily connected back to them, except by a concerted effort, in many cases.

I'll bet that the County Administrator's office will be getting Google training in the near future, too! It's a great reason for them to buy Dan Lynch's Google Your Family Tree book (that's a free plug, Dan!).

Good work by Andrew and Julie Ann Softley, too. I hope they receive a nice reward from the family - they deserve it. I wonder if Andrew is a genealogy society member?

Test Drive of Family Historian 3.1 - Post 1

After the announcement on Wednesday, I downloaded the free trial copy of Family Historian 3.1 and installed it on my computer, and then loaded a 20,000 plus person GEDCOM file into it. I want to demonstrate some basic screens, charts and reports in this series of posts.

There is a Tour of Family Historian 3 at for those interested.

The program always works with a GEDCOM file format, so everything loads really quickly, it seems. Here is the first screen when you load a database:

As you can see, it is an alphabetized list, and you can use the "Name" box or the "Record ID" box to find the person in the database that you want to work with. For this demonstration, I chose to work with Isaac Seaver (1823-1901). I put his name in the "Name" box, then clicked on it and the "Individual" box popped up, as shown below:

The "Main" Individual box has all of the birth, marriage and death data for the individual. Since Isaac was married three times, there are three tabs in the "Marr. Spouse" section - one for each spouse.
The "Detail" tab in the "Individual" box looks like this:

There are some blanks that could be filled in for Title, Alternate Name, Religion, Education, Group or Caste, Description, Nickname, National Origin, Emigration, etc.

The "Events" tab on the Individual" box lists a time line of events in the individual's life:

The "Notes" tab on the "Individual" box provides the text information for this person.

The "Objects" tab shows all of the photographs or video that have been attached for the person - I don't have nay for Isaac.
The "All" tab on the "Individual" box shows a summary of the relationship information known for the person:

You can add a spouse by clicking on the open Tab on the row of spouses, enter the name and vital information for the new spouse, and the X out of the box when you are done. The information for the new spouse will be included in the list of persons.
You can add children the same way - click on the open space below the last child on the list and enter the information about the child. You can Tab from one entry box to the next.
The user interface is fairly simple and intuitive - you do have to select the person that you want to work with from the alphabetical list. There appears to be no way to start your session with a selected person or the last person you worked on.
The "Individual" box, where all of the information is input, is fairly small but contains a lot of information. Navigation is easy and intuitive. A larger box might be helpful.
Unlike several other programs, the visual display for Family Historian is very basic - no graphics, just text in boxes and tabs. There are no Maps for places in the database, or the ability to capture images from the Internet (although you can search the Internet from the Internet menu - there is a long list of free and commercial US and UK sites). You can create a web site from the Internet menu.
I will look at example charts in the next post.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why do I do genealogy?

Brenda Joyce Jerome asked this question of herself today on her Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog. Her post is here.

I answered her with (edited a bit after review):

1) To honor my ancestors - the effort they put in to live lives that helped build this country, our family, and produced me and my descendants.

2) To instill a sense of history and tradition in my descendants and family members by bringing the stories of our ancestors to light.

3) It is a really challenging and fun vocation that I can pursue in leisure - it's a treasure hunt, detective puzzle and intellectual challenge to find elusive ancestors.

I wondered how others have answered the question, and found these:

* I do genealogy for the love of history, and for the love of my ancestors, some of whom I knew, but most of whom I did not. Not every ancestor or relative was a wonderful person, but I love them all, warts or whatever. I am a little piece of they who came before, and if they are now in a position to look down and smile, I hope that the fact that I remember them, and honor them, warms their hearts wherever they may be. I also hope someone will remember me after I inevitably pass on, and certainly it is human nature to want to be remembered... (David L. Casey)

* By doing genealogy, we continue to remember our beloved family members who have preceded us in death and teach future generations to honor those who continue to live in our hearts and memories. (Lynna Kay Shuffield)

* To me, genealogy is the study of particular individuals or particular family groups with a view toward discovering how their life choices were affected by the historical times and places in which they lived. Knowing that your ancestors lived through a particular era or historical event makes history relevant in a way that no classroom lecture or textbook can. You'll probably come to the conclusion that your ancestors were braver, stronger and more resourceful than you ever imagined...and maybe--just maybe--they're out there somewhere, cheering you on to greater accomplishments, too! (Donna Hansen Carr)

* Because I have to. At the risk of sounding'wooey-wooey', I know that I'm acting as an emissary for the deceased - my own, and sometimes other people's. I feel privileged to walk with one foot in our realm and the other in theirs. (Judy Herbert)

* For me, since my lines go back to the early 1600s in North America, genealogy personalizes history for me; I feel a closer connection to the events I read about in school. It also gives my wife and I a sense of perspective. When we read about the hardships, tragedies, and triumphs of our ancestors, it makes us realize how relatively easy we have it, and how fortunate we are. And it gives us a real sense of debt and gratitude. (Bill Merklee)

* At first, I did genealogy because my parents dragged me into it, with me kicking and screaming and hollering, "No! No! No! No! No!" But, after a little while, I discovered that our genealogy project was actually a WEAPON! Yes indeed. (Lester Powers) [read it all - a different take!]

* I do genealogy to leave a mark. I would hate to think we pass through this lifetime without leaving some sort of a mark so that other people know we passed. I continue to work on the genealogy, send it to Salt Lake as a means of leaving that mark. To top it all off, it's fun and educational. Look at how much you find out about history and geography, besides it keeps me off the streets. (Bud Miner).

* ... my great driving force was trying to understand the incomprehensible dynamics of my family--you know, the standard dysfunctions, but when you are a kid growing up in the midst of irrationality....nothing seemed so important as trying to understand the whys and wherefores. And tracing the roots of various issues has been very helpful. Finally, I just plain love a good mystery and this is my chance to play detective! (Marge Jodoin)

* 1. Curiosity and feeling connected with ones roots (finding oneself)
2. Forensics - i.e. finding living descendants or closest living relatives for legal reasons (e.g. for property disposition of those who died intestate)
3. Genetics - inherited diseases or traits for psychological research/treatment
4. Memberships in organizations such as Mayflower Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, United Empire Loyalists, etc. (sense of belonging) (Xenia)

* I know that psychologically speaking, people do genealogy to feed the soul. It is a way to look at the past that warms the heart. There are many other ways to feed the soul as well. From what I've learned, digging into the past is a way to put your life into perspective. It is also a way of coming to terms with ones own mortality. Most people don't think about it these ways, but they can be a subconscious reason for doing genealogy. (Lorna Ellis)

* Religious, because I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We believe that people who do not, or have not had the opportunity to hear the gospel in this life, will have the opportunity to hear it in the next. As we believe that people must be baptised, and baptism is an earthly ordinance, we need to identify our Ancestors. Fun, because it is a challenge to try and locate our ancestors. It is stimulating to the mind, it gives one a real buzz when you find someone you've been looking for. You don't need to take drugs or alcohol to get a high just do your Family Tree, it will give you all the "highs" you want. (Liddell)

* "I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me, those who are to come. I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers, and in front, to see my son, and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond. And their eyes were my eyes. As I felt, so they had felt, and were to feel, as then, so now, as tomorrow and forever. Then I was not afraid, for I was in a long line that had no beginning, and no end. And the hand of his father grasped my father's hand, and his hand was in mine, and my unborn son took my right hand, and all, up and down the line that stretched from Time That Was, to Time That Is, and Is Not Yet, raised their hands to show the link, and we found that we were one, born of Woman, Son of Man, made in the Image, fashioned in the Womb by the Will of God, the Eternal Father." Extracted from the work of Richard Llewellyn "How Green Was My Valley" (Anne Adams)

* "a family is many generations closely woven; that though the generations may die, they endure as part of the fabric of the family; .... We carry the dead generations within us and pass them on to the future aboard our children. This keeps the people of the past alive long after we have carried them to the churchyard." - Russell Baker. This is why I do genealogy. We are all a product of our past and our ancestors make us our past and to know them is to know ourselves. (Lorraine R. Friberg)

The question has been asked, in many forms, on many forums and boards. The above are just some of the more eloquent and poignant statements of faith and action that I found using a simple Google search.

Why do YOU do genealogy research? Tell me. Tell Brenda. Tell the world! This worthy of a Carnival of Genealogy topic, I think!

My thanks to Brenda for providing a blog topic on a day that I've been struggling to write anything.

Touched by Alzheimer's Disease

Since November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month, the topic of the 60th Carnival of Genealogy is the impact that Alzheimer's Disease (dementia) has had on your family history. An estimated 5 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer's Disease. Alzheimer's robs people of their memories and all that they could have passed on in the way of family history.

For many of us researching our families, it is difficult to determine if they had dementia or some other mental or physical illness if it is not noted in a death certificate or an obituary. I think that the term "old age" given in many records and articles probably encompasses physical disabilities and mental disorders.

The one case I know of in my family that was clearly dementia was my dear grandmother (I just teared up writing that - she is just so dear to my heart even after 30 years), Emily Kemp (Auble) Carringer (1899-1977). She suffered a stroke in the 1960's but seemed to recover quickly, lost quite a bit of weight, and was her prim, proper, happy, optimistic and loving self into the 1970's.

She became fairly forgetful, repeated herself, and did tasks repetitively during the 1970's. When her husband, Lyle Carringer, became ill with colon cancer, was hospitalized and then died in November 1976, she was alone in her home on Point Loma for the first time in her life. Dear Emily started wandering at night in her nightgown or just her slip - she would go about 100 yards down the street and stop outside a neighbor's garage and call out "Lyle, Lyle, are you in there?" The neighbors would call my parents, who would have to go over in the dead of night to take her back and get her settled back in her home and bed. The wandering became more frequent as time went on.

My parents lived 10 miles away, but my mother didn't drive, and my father avoided going to the house because she always berated him for something or other. My mother insisted on going over at least once a week to check on Emily and the house (are the toilets flushed? are dishes piled up? is there food in the frig? is the heat too high? are the clothes washed? is the trash out? is she clean? endless questions). When my father wouldn't go, my mother asked us to go. We usually made an outing of it - taking the girls to see their grandmother and great-grandmother. Emily doted on our two little ones, and served us Squirt! every time - Lori thought it was great, but Tami was still a baby. It was good for Emily to look forward to these visits, but I feel guilty that we didn't go often enough.

My mother was thinking about placing her in an assisted living care facility, but Emily was adamant about living in her own home. However, the predictable happened. We took my mother over and knocked on the door, and there was no answer. My mother used her key, and we found Gram on the floor next to the couch in the living room. She was alive, and semi-conscious, seemed paralyzed, and couldn't speak - just clicks, it seemed. The paramedics came and took her to the hospital, but she died the next day, 19 June 1977, the 59th anniversary of her wedding to Lyle. She had had a stroke, probably several days earlier. My mother felt very guilty about not checking on her more often, or not doing more for her.

The other example in my extended family was my cousin, Dorothy (Taylor) Chamberlain (1904-1992), who lived in San Diego. After her second husband died, she had a stroke in about 1988 and her daughter, who lived in San Jose, placed her in a series of care facilities. Linda and I made a point to take her out for a ride and lunch about once a month, and she really looked forward to our visits, although she couldn't remember them from one month to the next. I had just started my genealogy research, so I used these visits to learn more about her family history (and mine too, since she was my father's cousin). I asked about different people, and she told us stories about them. She often repeated stories, which we encouraged. We looked through her photo albums and talked about the people - she knew who they all were, but couldn't remember our names some of the time. She had definite symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease, suffered a major stroke in 1992 and died soon after in a convalescent hospital that was really the pits.

Needless to say, I am very sensitive to signs of memory loss in myself, my wife, our family and our friends.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tombstone Thursday - DJ, Rebecca and Devier Carringer

I visited La Vista Memorial Park in nearby National City yesterday to obtain pictures of several gravestones of my relatives and the cemetery itself (for my post La Vista Memorial Park on the South San Diego County Graveyard Rabbit blog).

My great-great grandparents, David Jackson (D.J.) Carringer (1828-1902) and Rebecca (Spangler) Carringer (1832-1901) are buried here, as is Devier David Carringer (1889-1890), their grandson, and brother of my grandfather, Lyle Carringer.

Their gravestones are flush with the ground in the older section of the cemetery, just west of the cemetery office and parking lot, and just past the fenced in Kimball graveyard. Here is a picture of the gravestone setting looking east, with the three Carringer stones in the foreground and the fenced Kimball graveyard beyond it.

The grave stones are very simple - here's a photo of David Jackson Carringer's:

Here's a photo of Rebecca (Spangler) Carringer's gravestone:

Here is Devier David Carringer's gravestone:

I just realized that I haven't posted much about David Jackson and Rebecca (Spangler) Carringer, other than the transcribed collection of family letters listed here.

Try Family Historian 3.1 software before buying

One of the top-rated genealogy software packages in the British Isles is Family Historian. Family Historian 3.1 runs on Windows Vista, XP Home and XP Professional, 2000, ME and 98.

Now it is available at 1,500 Target stores in the United States and Canada, according to a press release from Enteractive Distribution (received via email) - available online at GenealogyToday here.

Enteractive Distribution also announced a new web site to provide useful information to consumers and genealogists. This new web site provides modern consumer features such as a product blog, updated news about the product, discussion forum, store locator, FAQ, product support groups, and easy to use customer support features.

I don't want to buy a product sight unseen (and the FH3 web site has very little detail information on it), I decided to investigate the software further. There is a web site for Family Historian at which has a 30-day free trial of the software at

My devoted readers know that I just cannot resist a free trial of software - so I downloaded the software (very quick - only 10 mb), installed it (less than a minute), and uploaded a 20,000 person GEDCOM file (very quick - less than a minute). I wandered around the program for about 30 minutes, ensuring that all of my data came across (it did) , and checking navigation, charts and reports.

When you install the program, also installed onto your computer is a complete PDF (electronic document) version of the book Getting the Most From Family Historian. It installed into the Program Files/Program/ file folder on my hard drive. I probably should read it before I do much testing of the program.

The press announcement conveniently avoids giving the price of the software. I had to go to the UK software page to determine that it costs about 35 pounds, which includes some units. A download version costs $56, which is a bit pricey compared to other genealogy software available in the USA, like Family Tree Maker 2009, RootsMagic, and Legacy. I wonder if the price at Target will be lower?

I will post later when I have some testing done and some opinions on the software.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

BYU "Ancestors" Television Series

One of our society members mentioned seeing the "Ancestors" television series on BYU-TV at our meeting today, and I admitted that I wasn't familiar with it. So I went looking for it.

The 13 series episodes are the PBS genealogy and family history series that were broadcast previously on PBS, and they are described at The episodes include:

* Records at Risk
* Family Records
* Compiled Records
* Technology Tools
* Vital Records
* Religious Records
* Cemetery Records
* Census Records
* Military Records
* Newspapers
* Probate Records
* Immigration Records
* Writing a Family History

I tried to view the short video segments that are offered in each episode description, but was unable to view or save the files. The site says the files are 220 kb, but all I download is 53 kb for some reason.

The current program schedule for this series is at The English language episodes are at 12:30 p.m. (MST) and 7:30 p.m. (MST) - so 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. PST. In San Diego, Cox Digital Cable has them on Channel 435.

CVGS Research Group summary - Wednesday, 12 November

I posted the Genealogy News Summary for November on the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog. We discussed it briefly in the CVGS Research Group meeting at the library today, and I emailed it to our email list.

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society Research Group meeting at the Library today had 12 in attendance, including three visitors. We went around the table and everybody shared their genealogy highlights for the last month:

John is still chasing birth certificates from England with some success. He found orphan records in Luzerne County PA that might have information about his 2nd-great-grandmother.

Andi (a visitor) is visiting John from Northern California, and they are having fun chasing some of her ancestors in Tennessee using the census and vital records on Ancestry.

Dearl is still fighting his new computer - he thinks he's losing.

Jerome (a visitor) has been working on his genealogy for awhile and has 2,000 persons in his database. He's looking for a place to get research tips and techniques - we told him he's at the right place. He wondered "how much work should you do on lines?" and Shirley said "as much as you want."

Charlene (a visitor) has been doing her research for about ten years, and has two local ancestors that she is researching.

Virginia received her mitochondrial DNA results from Ancestry - she is in the H haplogroup. She was cleaning a closet and found some treasures that her sister gave her some time ago.

Shirley H. wondered why the 1900 US census index on Ancestry has changed. We explained that they shifted to the index generated by FamilySearch Indexing.

Phyllis wondered if there were marriage records in Brook County VA (now WV) in 1820. We recommended checking the USGenWeb site and the LDS FHL Catalog. She mentioned the BYU family history TV program that is on digital cable channel 435 at 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. No one else knew about it.

Shirley B. received an envelope from her sister with their mother's birth certificate, and her SSN on the back of it. There was also a paper with the names of four Plue relatives - she wonders if they are still alive.

Dick is enjoying working with Family Tree Maker 2009 - especially the links to He gave a brief summary of his uncle's safecracking exploits for the group's amusement.

Nancy wants to reorganize all of her paper files. We recommended the Sharon Carmack book about Organizing Your Family History Research.

Randy discussed the new Google Your Family Tree book and passed it around. He also described his adventures in New York City and on the Wholly Genes Conference and Cruise to the Caribbean, and passed the syllabus around.

Shirley B. demonstrated her new genealogy filing system on her computer. She adopted Leland Meitzler's system that he described at the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree in June. The key is to have a fast scanner and a big external drive. She brought her 500 gb external drive and walked us through the computer filing system.

Andi and John described Andi's research problem. She has 1880 and 1900 census data for her George Cory (born ca 1836 in VT) family in Dickson County, TN, and a marriage record in 1870 for George Cory and E.R. Pickett, but her grandmother was positive that Harrell was Elizabeth Rebecca's maiden name. It's made more complicated by two "Hessell" brothers living with the Cory family in 1880. We recommended looking for an earlier marriage of a Harrell to a Pickett, and looking for George Cory, the two "Hessell" brothers, and E.R. (or Elizabeth or Rebecca) with different surname spellings in the 1870 and earlier census records. We also suggested looking in online family trees to find more about the families, and looking in military records, since George was an "engineer" in the 1880 census - perhaps he was a former Union soldier and part of the Reconstruction effort.

Charlene had two problems to discuss: Her Willis Mills was born about 1820 in KY, but resided in IL, MO and TX in his life. She had a timeline with many names marrying Mills people in these places, but is not sure if they are all related or not, and if they are, how are they related? We suggested that she check online family trees and the USGenWeb county sites, and search probate, land and tax records to try to put families together. This sounded like a big kinship problem with several families moving together and inter-marrying. Her second problem is the William and Margaret (Reynolds) Taggart family - were they from Ireland or the Isle on Man? Charlene has found them in PA, IL and MN, last in the 1885 state census in MN. We suggested that their origin might be found in county history books, obituaries, naturalization records and death records.

This was a very lively session - it was fun to have several problems to challenge us.

CGSSD Meeting on Saturday, 15 November

I received this notice from Linda Hervig about the CGSS meeting on Saturday:

The Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego meets on Saturday, November 15, 2008 from 9:00 am to noon. Join us for the last meeting in 2008!

9:00 – Brief announcements and user group meetings for Legacy and RootsMagic

10:15 ¬– Break, refreshments

10:30 – Annual Membership Meeting, Election of Officers for 2009, Reports from Board members, and Sharing

We meet at the Robinson Auditorium complex on the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus in La Jolla. From North Torrey Pine Road turn at Pangea Drive into UCSD. Free parking is available in the parking garage on the left; use any A, B, or S space. Signs will mark directions to our meeting room.

Please refer to our website; or the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies website for driving directions and a map.

Family Photographs - Post 29: Thomas Richmond

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

Here is one of the most precious (to me) images from my Richmond family collection:

Isn't he a handsome dude? He has piercing eyes, a neatly trimmed mustache, smooth cheeks, a nice head of hair (which I didn't inherit, obviously).
This is a picture of my great-grandfather, Thomas Richmond (1848-1917), son of James and Hannah (Rich) Richmond, husband of Julia (White) Richmond, and father of my grandmother, Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver (1882-1962).
I don't know exactly when this picture was taken. He appears to be a fairly young man, perhaps in his 20's or 30's, which would place it in the 1868 to 1888 time frame. I have other pictures of Thomas from about 1885 here (in the James Richmond family), in about 1887 here (with his own family), and in about 1895 here (with his own family with young children). The picture above shows a much younger man than the three 1885 to 1895 pictures.
There is a good possibility that this picture was taken at or soon after his wedding to Julia White (1848-1912), which was probably in Killingly CT. However, I don't have a "companion" photograph of Julia taken at about the same time. It would be interesting to know if the clothing worn by Thomas in the picture above is typical of a certain time period - I'm not expert enough at these things, of course.
The provenance of this photograph is unclear to me. I believe that it was in the family collection that my father had from his mother, and was handed to me after 1988 by my mother. It is possible that I received a copy of it from one of my father's siblings.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008 offers Veterans a break

I received an email from with this subscription offer: features millions of original records from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War that document the heroic lives of our veterans. In celebration of Veterans Day, would like to extend some special offers to access these records found nowhere else on the web.
We are grateful for the service of our veterans so is offering a veteran's discount on an annual full access membership for only $39.95 (regularly $69.95.
Veterans click here to sign in and take advantage of this Veterans Day offer.

For all non-veterans, is offering a Veterans Day special price of $59.95 for an annual full access membership. Non-veterans click here.
Please take the opportunity today to thank our veterans for their invaluable service.

The Footnote Team
Offer Ends November 30, 2008

This is a great deal for veterans, IMHO. I did not see any "check" that would ensure that someone signing up for $39.95 was a veteran. Surely, nobody would take that offer if they weren't eligible, would they?

Book Review: "Google Your Family Tree"

Daniel M. Lynch sent a review copy of his new book, Google Your Family Tree (published by, Inc., 2008) to me while I was on vacation.

I have had a chance to read through it, but haven't yet grasped every nuance and technique mentioned in the book. The reason for this is that it is so chock full of excellent demonstrations, suggestions and tips for genealogists to use in searching the Internet for information about their ancestors and relatives -- my brain hurts!

There is a companion web site at which has the Table of Contents and the Foreword by Paul Allen, Accolades from other reviewers, some PowerSearch examples, and a page to reserve the copy of the book ($34.95 retail, plus shipping).

Dan patiently explains, and demonstrates, how to effectively perform genealogy searches on the Internet using Google's Basic and Advanced Search boxes. The use of keywords, quotes, and commands are shown using real genealogy oriented examples. He also shows how to obtain results in Web, Images and Video, Books, News, Language Tools, Maps, Blogs, etc. There are chapters on using Google Alerts, Google Earth, Google Notebook, the Google Toolbar, and Tips and Tricks (e.g., flight status, weather, current time, currency, population statistics, patent search, tracking parcels, stock prices, mathematics, unit conversions, etc.).

The adage that "we don't know what we don't know" certainly applies to Google! I didn't know that Google could be used to do ALL of those things, and have not explored every one of them YET, but I will! I use Google mainly for web and image searches, and use the Books, News and Maps features when I remember that they are available to use.

I think that this book should be on the desk of every genealogist doing online research. With a book like this, dedicated to use by genealogists, I will be able to do my searches more efficiently and faster, and be able to investigate more avenues in my research.

The book includes appendices on "Getting Started in Genealogy" and "Top Sites for Genealogists" that are basic but useful (although I disagree with some of the cited top 10 best "free" web sites to use for genealogy). There are also appendices for other Internet Search engines, the history and evolution of search engines, a syntax summary and quick reference pages.

My conclusion is that this book is a vital addition to the library of beginning genealogy researchers, and is a great reference book for experienced researchers. It's a keeper for me, and would make a great Christmas gift for the genealogist in your life (or yourself - tell your friend, spouse or partner about it).

My thanks to Dan for the preview look at the book.

Veteran's Day - my heroes

We celebrate Veteran's Day today - it started as Armistice Day to commemorate the ending of World War I at 11:11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

I listed the war veterans in my ancestry in my post Veteran's Day - My Heroes.

The only ancestor of mine that served in World War I was my maternal grandfather, Lyle Lawrence Carringer (1891-1976). I posted a biography and muse about him and his life in Today is Gramps' 116th Birthday.

Here is a photograph of Gramps in his U.S. Marines uniform taken in about 1917 in San Diego - in front of a plam tree, of course.

I honor my grandfather and appreciate his service to our country, and his devotion to our family.

I have tremendous respect and appreciation for those serving in the Armed Forces today in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. May God bless them all and bring them home safe.

Monday, November 10, 2008

U.S. Exploration and Settlement Maps

I've been working my way through Cyndi Howells' syllabus pages on Maps and found this really neat Exploration and Settlement Map for 1675 to 1800 on the Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection on the University of Texas web site - this map is at

This map collection is very rich - go explore the Historical U.S. maps and see if one or more can help you understand migration trails of your ancestors. The exploration and settlement map for 1800 to 1820 is here, for 1820 to 1835 is here, for 1835 to 1850 is here, for 1850 to 1890 is here, etc. I find these types of maps fascinating. I open them in my photo viewer and magnify them so I can see the details of certain towns or states.

Does anybody know where Polypotamia and Pelisipia were in the 1783 to 1803 time frame? Check out this great territorial map of the United States.

I've always loved maps... I used to have a big collection of National Geographic maps from the 1930's on. With many maps on the Internet, the collection was downsized recently as we consolidate our stuff and remodel our house. I'm afraid that the Genealogy Cave is the next to be downsized... but not without my permission.

How do you self-identify your ancestry?

Drew Smith posted a fascinating comment to my post I Knew How the Election Would Go. He wrote:

Randy, I've found another interesting connection between the recent election and genealogy. Compare the following two maps and tell me what you see:

(look at the second slide, of which counties voted more Republican)
(look at those who chose "American" in response to their ancestry question)

The second link is the real gem, for me and genealogists, of Drew's comment - the map below shows how United States residents responded to the question about their ancestry (I'm not sure of the exact wording) in the 2000 census. The map shows the highest percentage reported in each county:

Drew's point was that the areas of the country that voted in 2008 more for Republicans this time than in 2004 self-identified as "American" (the light yellow in the map), rather than as having ancestry from a specific country. We need to remember that the map shows only the highest percentage of responses, and that not everybody in each county identified as the highest percentage. In many cases, the highest percentage of respondents in a county might be less than 20%.

I also identify as "American" - how could I do otherwise? Of my 16 great-great-grandparents, 12 were born in the United States, two were born in Canada and two were born in England, but became American citizens. I understand, however, that very few non-genealogists even know the names of their great-great's, let alone their ancestry. My guess is that people recite racial or their surname origin when asked about ancestry.

What the map tells me is that many people retain an ethnic or national identity even after several generations of residence in the USA. Maybe that will "change" in the next century.

This Wikipedia page provides more information about the response to the ancestry question - it lists the percentage of responses to the racial, ethnic and ancestry questions in the 2000 census. However, some of the percentages stated are from later demographic studies. As I expected, the ancestry identification of European-Americans is broken up into smaller pieces, although they make up over 60% of the residents of the USA.

Thank you to Drew for finding these studies and pointing them out - there is a lot of demographic information available if we look for it!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I Knew How the Election would go - because...

I applied the "test" posited in the book Generations, written in 1991 by William Strauss and Neil Howe. Frankly, I didn't have the gumption to write this post before the election...

I'm sure that many of my readers have marveled, as I have, at the insights in this book. The basic tenets are (these are my summaries, based on charts in the book):

* The history of the English colonies and the United States can be defined by "generations" - groups defined as born between certain years, each generation encompassing 15 to 25 years in length.

* Each one of these generations has tendencies toward certain "peer personalities" - they call these personalities "Idealist," "Reactive," "Civic" and "Adaptive." The four generations cycle repeats in approximately 80 to 85 year periods.

* Two types of "social moments" occur in each 80-year cycle of the four personality types - a Secular Crisis (think Revolutionary War, Civil War, Great Depression) and a Spiritual Awakening (think Transcendental Idealism in the 1821-1839 time, Reform and Revivalism in 1886-1903, and the Sixties in 1967-1980 - the sexual revolution).

* As each generation moves through history, they take on attributes in approximately 20-year periods - for instance:

** The Adaptive personality type are suffocated in youth, conformist in Rising Adulthood, indecisive in Midlife and sensitive in Elderhood. These generations are the peacemakers, go along to get along, etc. The previous Adaptive Generation was called "Silent" (1925-1942) in the book, and the current Adaptive Generation doesn't have a name (born 2001-???) in the book.

** The Idealist personality types are indulged in Youth, narcissistic in Rising Adulthood, moralistic in Midlife and visionary in Elderhood. The current Idealist Generation, who tend to "think great things," is the "Boom" generation (born 1943-1960), which came of age during the 1960's and 1970's.

** The Reactive personality type are criticized in Youth, alienated in Rising Adulthood, pragmatic in Midlife and reclusive in Elderhood. The previous Reactive Generation, who tend to fix things, (1883-1900) was called the "Lost" Generation, and the current Reactive generation (born 1961-1981) is called the "13th" Generation in the book.

** The Civic personality type are protected in Youth, heroic in Rising Adulthood, powerful in Midlife, and busy in Elderhood. The Civic generations are those that do "great things" - the previous Civic generation was the GI generation born in 1901-1924 - the ones who fought in World War II and built American industry after the War, and the current Civic Generation are called "Millenial" (1981-2001?). There is great hope for the Millenials, of course.

I identify with the Adaptive personality type. However, I was born in 1943. My younger brothers are definitely Boomers, but I'm not, at least in personality type. Just call me "Mr. Sensitive," I guess.

Think about relationships between parents and children, and employees and managers, and you can understand why there are personality conflicts. It';s no wonder to me, that I identify so closely with my grandchildren who were all born after 2001, and are Adaptive types like me.

You have to read the 500-page book to get the full flavor of these theories and groupings, but they seemed persuasive to me at the time, and still do. Of course, not every person fits "neatly" into the "peer personality" type listed in the book, but it seems like the leaders of our country do fit.

One good example is Presidents:

* The "Lost" generation (Reactive) Presidents were Truman and Eisenhower

* The "GI" generation (Civic) Presidents were Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush I.

* The "Silent" generation (Adaptive) Presidents were - none. Think Mondale, Dukakis, Dole, McCain in this generation. There have been Adaptive Presidents in US history - Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson are on the list.

* The "Boom" generation (Idealist) Presidents were Clinton and Bush II, and perhaps Obama. Or perhaps Obama is the first President from the "13th" generation, which is Reactive. It's too early to tell. What Obama accomplishes or how he governs may define his generation type.

Strauss and Howe make the point in the book that once the Presidency turns over to the next generation type, it doesn't go back. Clinton and Bush II are Idealist types, but McCain is a "Silent" generation Adaptive, and Obama is in a later generation type - either a "Boom" Idealist or a "13th" Reactive. So McCain, being an earlier type than already in office, really didn't have a chance, if the theory in the book is true.

I have tended to look at past, current and future history through this Generations lens. Strauss and Howe predicted events out into the 2060's in general terms.

When the 2008 Presidential nominees were McCain (an Adaptive) and Obama (an Idealist or Reactive type), I instinctively knew which one would win the latest election. I have no doubt that if the Democrats had nominated Hillary Clinton (a "Boom" Idealist), she also would have beaten McCain (an Adaptive). If the Republicans had nominated a "Boom" nominee like Huckabee, Romney or Giuliani, they might have won since the previous 16 years were "Boom" generation Presidents and there might not have been a generation-type turnover.

The book projects the next Secular Crisis in the 2010 to 2020 time period - we are close to that now. Will it be the current financial crisis (leading to depression or anarchy?) several years early? Or will it be a momentous political or cataclysmic event like a world (or nuclear) war or an asteroid strike? Nobody knows, but I'm not sure that I'm anxious to find out! And then in the 2040-2050 time there will be another spiritual awakening.

If you have the chance, buy the book or find it in a library and read it for the insight provided. They have published a sequel called The Fourth Turning which modifies some of the generation year ranges, and added more predictive material based on what has happened over the past 17 years since Generations was published.

How does this apply to genealogy research? Each of our colonial and American ancestors was born into one of these generations and probably had the typical "peer personality" of that generation. We may be able to correlate the typical "peer personality" with the life events of our ancestors, or perhaps be able to discern how they thought. The book has summaries of the historical events experienced by each of the generations.

What do you think? Do these theories have real purpose and validity? Do the "peer personality" descriptions fit your personality and outlook on life?

Best of the Genea-Blogs - will be back next week

Due to my vacation and laziness since we've been home, the regular Sunday feature "Best of the Genea-blogs" won't be published today. It will have to wait until next Sunday. I'm sorry, but I didn't note blog posts while I was on vacation (mainly because I had to read about 600 of them in one day) and then was caught up in the confusion of coming home and getting up to speed. The ones I did note in passing (mainly because I seem to remember seeing them) include:

Jasia has published the 59th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy on her Creative Gene blog - the topic was Politics and Our Ancestors.

The Ancestry Insider has had a series of articles about visiting the National Archives in Washington DC and an article about the Ancestry vs. USGenWeb squabble and the resulting problems created.

Terry Thornton has been chasing posts from about 40 Graveyard Rabbits on his The Graveyard Rabbit blog.

footnoteMaven has posted several more of her weekly Friday from the Collectors articles on her Shades of the Departed blog from guest authors - November 7 was about Vintage Cameras - Time Machines by Rebecca Fenning from the web site Sense of Face.

I miss Leland Meitzler's Everton Publisher's Genealogy Blog, which has been missing for over two months now, and I miss DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Blog posts too (I think she moved...).

On the other hand, many of my genea-blogging colleagues have been busy writing and posting, and I have neglected to write them down. Note: I have to write them down - I have over 350 blogs on my Bloglines list - too many to check each week one-at-a-time..

The Best of the Genea-Blogs will return next Sunday - I promise!