Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday Night Fun - history edition

For Saturday Night Fun this weekend, please find answers to these questions:

1) What day of the week were you born? Tell us how you found out.

2) What has happened in recorded history on your birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.

Here are mine, without the "Tell us how" bit (because I told you how earlier in the week - did you get the memo?).

1) 23 October 1943 was a Saturday.

2) Historic events that happened on 23 October:

* On 10/23/1086 - Battle of Zalaka: Alfonso VI vs Almoravids

* On 10/23/1642 - Battle at Edgeville (Warwick): King Charles I vs English parliament

* On 10/23/1775 - Continental Congress approves resolution barring blacks from army

* On 10/23/1824 - 1st steam locomotive is introduced

* On 10/23/1910 - Blanche Scott became 1st woman solo a public airplane flight

A Genealogy Carol - O Family Tree

As we approach the Christmas season, I'm going to use some of the material I've collected for many years. Today - the song "O Family Tree" - sung to the tune of "O Tannenbaum" or "O Christmas Tree"

O Family Tree, O Family Tree
How sturdy are your branches.
O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
How sturdy are your branches.

Through many years in ages past
You have shown the strength to last.
O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
How sturdy are your branches.

O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
There is so much for you to tell.
O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
There is so much for you to tell.

Reveal to me your mystery
As I research my ancestry.
O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
There is so much for you to tell.

O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
Show to me my heritage.
O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
Show to me my heritage.

I learn from you so I can see
A part of you lives on in me.
O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
Show to me my heritage.

-- Author unknown --

If someone knows the author of this, please let me know.

Grnea-Santa is on the road

What did you expect? For Genea-Santa to stay home in his cozy igloo and not distribute the genealogy gifts that all of the genea-bloggers desire? Of course, the issue is "have they been naughty or nice genea-bloggers?" Did they rant about databases and web sites, confuse readers, muck up their software reviews, or taunt their genealogy friends and colleagues? Did they post almost every day to keep their daily visits and page views up and up and up, not to mention the interest of their readers? Only Genea-Santa knows! He has some lumps of coal handy... and some neat surprises too, but the genea-bloggers will have to really search for them.

Actually, Linda and I are leaving Saturday morning to drive to Monte Rio to visit Linda's brother and his family, then to Santa Cruz to visit daughter Lori and her family (little boys aged 5 and almost 3), and to Victorville to visit daughter Tami and her family (little girls almost 4 and 8 months). Grandma and grandpa love to visit and watch the little ones in their native habitat and marvel at the energy and enthusiasm. We'll be in Santa Cruz on Christmas morning to watch the great gift opening frenzy, followed by playing with every gift within an hour or two. We should be home by New Year's Eve. The Lincoln is all tuned up, packed to the gills with presents, and ready for the 1,500 mile round trip. Thank goodness gas prices are down to about 33% of the prices from last summer.

I will have the laptop with me, and anticipate being able to read email, blogs and the Internet while at the family homes. I may post some notes, but then I may not! I have written some blog posts for the next ten days - enjoy!

Never fear - the blog posts will continue until the genealogy industry is perfect.

Friday, December 19, 2008

New searchable databases on

Searchable databases on are, with few exceptions, a benefit of membership in the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS).

The new searchable databases include (transcribed from the Holiday 2008 edition New England Ancestors magazine, published by NEHGS):

* Sandwich, Massachusetts Vital Records
* Belchertown, Massachusetts Vital Records
* Index to Massachusetts Births, 1911-1915

* The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume II, C-F

* New Netherlands Connections, Volumes 5-8

* Families of Ancient New Haven, Volumes 1-8

* Boston Church Records, Part 2
* Plymouth Church Records

I'm going to go explore the 1911-1915 Birth index for Seaver persons, the New Netherlands Connections for my recently found Long Island families, and the two church record databases for Seaver and other surnames.

Need information about NEHGS membership? Visit or call 1-888-296-3447.

I'm posting the names of the databases here because, as far as I can tell, they don't appear anywhere else on the Internet. These databases could help researchers find their "problem children" and might even bring more customers to NEHGS.

Who is really the oldest in the 1880 census?

My Saturday Night Fun post from last week resulted in unintended consequences! I wanted readers to check the 1880 census and find the name, age and location of the oldest person enumerated. I wrote the question before I checked for the answer, and then was really surprised by the answers I found.

Three researchers took the time to respond in a comment to my blog post. Thank you to Julie, Eileen and Apple for their efforts. They taught me a lesson too!

Julie must have stayed up all night (she posted her comment at 1:31 a.m. PST) looking for birth dates year-by-year back to 1650. She found the 43 persons born in 1760 according to the index on and on FamilySearch Record Search. But then she checked the 1850-1880 Mortality schedules on and found Adil Laurf who died at age 150 in Charleston, SC in 1880.

Eileen found an entry for John Capistrano (presumably on FS Record Search) - age 133 living in San Antonio, Monterey County, California. His age was not indexed on

Apple also found the 43 persons born in 1760 on, and checked earlier years.

The FamilySearch Record Search site lists 43 entries born in 1760. It also lists 2 born in 1759, one in 1752 - Maria Winder, and one in 1747 - John Capistrano. You cannot see the actual images on the FamilySearch site. You cannot define years on the 1880 census search without a name on the web site. If you put John Capistrano into the site, you get the 1880 census transcription that says he was born in 1747.
I was intrigued by the John Capistrano entry, so I went to to look at it, and his age is shown in parentheses. I wonder if that indicates that it was an estimate given by someone, or if the census taker didn't really believe it. He is an Indian, has younger people in the household, lives by charity, and his health is listed with "old age." I cannot find him in the 1850, 1860 or 1870 census records in Monterey County CA, or anyone in that county born before 1755, although there is an Indian in San Antonio township named Josefat aged 100 in 1860.

In the 1880 Mortality Census, I couldn't find the name Adil Laurf that Julie found. However, I found an entry for Lucy Orlet, age 153 in Charleston, SC - the actual entry does look like Adil Laurf, but all the names were last name first, and I can see how they picked Lucy Orlet! The "3" digit in "153" is impossible to read - even at maximum magnification. I agree with Julie - it may well be 15 months or even 15 days and not 153 years because she was "sick from birth."

Other candidates from the 1880 Mortality Schedule on are Zilphy Gilson, aged 150 who died in Macon County, GA in October of 1879 of "dropsy of heart," and Mary Bess, aged 150 who died in Millbury, Worcester County, MA in December of 1879 from "injuries from a fall."

A check of the 1850 census for Zil* Gil* in SC showed no one born before 1770 with that name. There is a slave aged 120 owned by Daniel Huger in Charleston County SC that may be Zilphy.

A check of the 1850 census for Mary Bes* in MA shows no one by that name born before 1775, and no person born before 1736 (Bridget Wheland) in MA. amazingly, there are 19 persons over age 100 in MA in 1850.

My best guess is that the "oldest person listed in the 1880 census" records is either Zilphy Gilson or Mary Bess.

What are the lessons here? For me, they are:

* The ages in the census may not be real accurate (we all "know" that but these are good examples!)

* Check surrounding names on the schedule to see if they list them as last name first.

* There are records "hiding in plain sight" when we just blithely say "look in the census." We need to look for state census records, mortality schedules, and slave schedules (even if they don't list the names of individuals).

* It helps to have more than one set of indexes for census records.

That was fun and educational, wasn't it?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Making history personal" article about Bob Velke

Megan Smolenyak posted a link on Facebook to a Baltimore Sun story titled "Making history personal" by Janene Holzberg, dated 18 December 2008, that tells the story of how Bob Velke started and developed The Master Genealogist.

There are three excellent photographs of Bob at his desk (I wish mine was that clean), his family tree, and a closeup of some books and a CDROM.

Some quotes from the article and photos:

""Every family's got a genealogist," says Bob Velke, president of Wholly Genes, a genealogical software company that had its genesis in Oregon in the 1980s.

"Nearly half of all Americans list genealogy as a hobby," says Bob Velke, who lives in Columbia.

"Part of the attraction [of genealogy] lies in the hunt, and the hunt can go on forever," says Bob Velke. "You're never done."

This is an excellent article promoting genealogy research - look for a Velke-alanche at the Baltimore area genealogy societies and for TMG orders.

Thanks to Megan for the link.

Famous People in the Census

I always enjoyed browsing through Michael John Neill's web page at showing records of famous people, and tried to participate in some of his reward searches for people that he couldn't find. Then TGN/ "requested" that he take the census images down from his web page and he did.

Well, Famous People in the Census is alive and kicking on Michael's new blog, appropriately titled Famous People in the Census! Michael is posting image snippets found on non-TGN web sites (think FamilySearch, footnote, and HeritageQuestOnline) of famous people. Of course, he knows where to look!

I'm happy to see Michael doing this, and will enjoy reading the posts every day/week. Michael is still posting census snippets from for his personal research on his blog, which is allowable per the TGN Terms and Conditions.

A Holiday Present from Dick Eastman

Dick Eastman just gave his readers a Holiday present (well, the ones who don't subscribe to his Plus edition) - a look at the current Plus edition newsletter. See Dick's blog post here. The Plus Edition of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter is available here. Subscription rates are:

* $5.95 for three months
* $19.95 for twelve months.

The Plus edition contains all of the "free" newsletter items that Dick publishes on his blog, plus the technology and genealogy articles written by Dick and his contracted writers, which currently includes George G. Morgan and Lloyd D. Bockstruck.

In the free issue of the Plus Edition, these four Plus articles are available:

** How to Obtain Information from the 1940 and Later Census Records

** Every Tradition Has a Story by George G. Morgan

** Resources for Revolutionary Georgia & Sleuthing Methods by Lloyd Bockstruck

** Sources to Try: Something Old, Something New by Lloyd Bockstruck

These are interesting and useful articles, and typical of the content published in the Plus Edition by Dick Eastman each week.

I really appreciate Dick's efforts to bring all of the news that crosses his desk to the online genealogy world - especially those of us who live and breathe genealogy every day. Dick's blog has an archive of posts going back over 10 years - it's a wonderful record of the genealogy world we live in and enjoy being part of.

Thank you, Dick, for all you do.

The "Forrest Gump Principle of Genealogy Research" strikes again

I just love it when things happen out of the blue... read my story, learn about the lesson I learned (again), and see if you agree with my definition.

I posted a picture of the gravestone of my great-grandaunt Elizabeth Lucinda (Seaver) Blanchard, and her husband and daughter, on Tuesday in my Tombstone Tuesday post. I found that I didn't have information about her son, Kenneth L. Blanchard (1891-1918), in my Master database (he was in the Seaver database), so I decided to search for information about him. I recalled that he had died during World War I in France. I Googled him immediately, and found this American Legion post web site, which had this information about the entire Frederick Blanchard family in National City:

"At a meeting held December 8, 1921 the name of the Post was changed to Kenneth L. Blanchard Post 255 in honor of a National City young man who paid the supreme sacrifice.

"THE BLANCHARD FAMILY (source unknown): Mr. and Mrs. Frederick G. Blanchard came to National City from Boston in 1888. They lived for a long time in the house known as the “Blanchard House” on Tenth Street, near where the Luther Harris family lived. They brought their son Fredrick with them and later added 2 more boys: Lawrence and Kenneth – and then a dear little girl who soon left them for a home in another world.

"Mr. Fredrick Blanchard was an expert gardener. He loved to trim rosebushes and other shrubs and was quite probably the first expert gardener in National City. But there were not enough gardens here to keep him busy, so he decided to try his skill on lemons and other fruit trees. He may even have pruned the orchard at the head of Paradise Valley which D.E. Strahl planted, the first orange orchard on the Rancho de la Nacion, which was later purchased by Mr. Owens and by the way of Miss Owens finally became the property of Joseph Fritz – her husband and one of our former National City Councilmen. (The oranges originally were all seedlings.) However that may be, Mr. Frederick Blanchard made pruning his steady occupation and so well was his work done, that he was called further and further away from home, with more to do than he could take care of, until added years forced him to confine his activities to his own large garden east of Highland, near where the Corey’s’ lived.

"After Mrs. Blanchard died, Mr. Frederick Blanchard lived alone and went nowhere except very rarely to Coronado where he visited Mrs. David Webster whose daughter Mary was married to his son Fred (Professor Fred Blanchard, former head of the English department at the University of California, Los Angeles branch. After son Lawrence and his wife returned from Australia and added Jane to their family, they were very good to the old gentleman (Mr. Frederick Blanchard) in every way, until death called him.

"Son Lawrence was always an electrical genius. When the nation called for volunteers, he was taking a post-graduate course in electricity at U.C. while son Kenneth was studying to be a lawyer. Both dropped everything and enlisted - going over with one of the first hospital units. “Over there” they made good, and were promoted several times – son Kenneth always just a jump ahead. When son Lawrence had almost completed an electrical circuit connecting the various posts in France, a bomb sliver struck him over one eye, causing him to lose his sight. In addition to this, he had several times been gassed. In spite of this, he was made head of the auto division receiving the foreign dignitaries who came to Paris to sign up for the armistice, etc. Later, son Lawrence coming home by way of Gibraltar was in charge of a division of soldiers.

"Son Kenneth had been put in charge of a hospital in France and would have to wait 2 years before coming home. He was suddenly taken with pneumonia in a violent form and in a few days had answered to the last roll call. This is the Kenneth Blanchard after whom the local Post is named."

I broke the text up into paragraphs for easier reading. I wish that they had written more about my first cousin twice removed, Kenneth L. Blanchard. I'm not sure if he died in 1918 at the end of hostilities in France, or later while performing his hospital duties.

I'm wondering what the source is for this biographical entry. Is it a published Blanchard surname book or a collection of biographies in a San Diego local history book. I did not find it in a Google Book search for ["kenneth l blanchard" "national city"]. There is a book by Emma Gladden, titled The Blanchard Family and related families, published in 1959 (no publisher), listed in the Complement to Genealogies in the Library of Congress (found using Google Books for ["the blanchard family"]. It may have come from the Gladden work.

I relearned a lesson here: "There are resources that are not published, or on the Internet, that rest in repositories all over this world. You never know what you are going to find any time you visit a repository, where there might be periodical collections, family papers in a vertical file, or unpublished manuscripts."

I call this the "Forrest Gump Principle of Genealogy Research."

Why do I call it the "Forrest Gump" principle? Remember the 1994 movie, Forrest Gump, where the most famous quote was "My momma always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'"

So the Forrest Gump Principle of Genealogy Research is "Genealogy research is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to find, but you have to look everywhere your 'genealogy gem' might be hiding"

Other people call it "serendipity." I wish I would apply it more often! All you have to do, in genealogy, is go to repositories and look for the books and other records that might be available. Road trips are a lot of fun, sometimes!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What good is it if it won't work?

[Rant on...]

How often do you go to a genealogy web site or database provider, enter search terms in a search box, and then ... wait ... and wait ... and wait longer ... zzzzz ... and finally give up?

I wanted to find more information about the Frederick and Elizabeth (Seaver) Blanchard family tonight (their marriage location, their first son's birth date and birth place, etc.). I went to the New England Historic Genealogical Society's web site, logged in (I am a member), clicked on Databases and then on the Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910 link, and entered terms in the search box for the Blanchard-Seaver marriage.

The matches to my search came up quickly, and I clicked on the one for 1878 in Leominster, knowing that it was the right one. I then had a choice between the MrSID plugin and the "non-plugin image" to click on. I had downloaded the MrSID plugin several months ago (again, probably the third or fourth time I've done it), so I clicked on that since I know it is easier to manipulate and read the image than the other one. What - a blank screen? Arrggghhhh. Okay, back to the choice, the "non-plugin image" should do. I clicked on that, and I waited ... and waited ... and after three minutes got an "Internet Explorer cannot display the web page" message. What the ----? Double Arrggghhhh.

So I went back to the Search box and went looking for the Birth record. I clicked Search and after waiting ... more waiting ... waiting at least five minutes, what the fu--? I finally stopped it and started writing this post. I gave them two chances and they have two strikes and a frustrated customer.

Okay, deep breath, let's try again [note to self, don't strike the keyboard or the mouse button hard, be gentle, it's not your computer's fault] -- back to the Search box, enter the birth information, hit Search, the search results appeared within five seconds, click on the "non-plugin image" link, the image comes up within five seconds, there he is, yep, Frederick Thomas Blanchard was born on 24 September 1878 in Harvard MA to Frederick G. and Elizabeth L. (Seaver) Blanchard.

Being the whining victim that I am, I decided to go for the third strike - I went back and clicked on the MrSID plugin image link, and it popped up within five seconds also. So - no third strike. I guess I'm glad of that. My mouse is too.

I had this same experience yesterday morning trying to find the same information. I gave up then too. I've had this same experience probably ten times over the past six months - again and again.

The page with the Search results says:

"Please note that some users are experiencing a problem where their browser closes after viewing 5 or 6 images with the MrSID plugin, we are working to resolve this issue and apologize for the interruption in your research. We suggest that you make sure your browser and PC are updated, it has been our experience that this helps to resolve the issue." in capital letters, but small font size.

Isn't that wonderful? It not only doesn't work about 75% of the time, but stops working, and shuts down your browser, soon after it does work. And they want to blame my browser and computer? I wonder how long that notice has been on the web site? Something tells me they aren't working very hard to resolve this issue.

Does NEHGS really want us to use the web site to search their databases? If so, why haven't they fixed it? They must be aware of the problems with this particular database. Frankly, the VR databases are my major reason for continuing to pay $75 a year for the membership. I would have to go to Boston and stay in a hotel to view these VRs, or go to Salt Lake City to the FHL to view the microfilms, or rent many films at my local FHC to obtain the information I need. The other benefit of the NEHGS membership is the two excellent publications - the New England Historical and Genealogical Register and New England Ancestors. I can always read the periodicals at one of the local libraries a year after publication.

My basic questions are: Why did this work at 8:10 p.m. PST and not at 8:00 p.m. PST? Why doesn't it work quickly every time? Are they really working hard to resolve this issue? Can I call them right now and see how much progress they're making?

Frankly, I would feel more "connected" to NEHGS and if it worked quickly every time I tried to use it. That's the standard of customer service that I expect from NEHGS, Ancestry, WorldvitalRecords and all of the other database providers that I pay good money to use their services. Am I wrong to feel this way?

[Rant off]

There, I feel better. The opinions expressed here are those of the author of Genea-Musings. Your experience and mileage may vary.

What genealogy database providers frustrate you? Are any others as bad as NEHGS is for me?

UPDATE 12/18, 2:30 p.m.: Squeaking wheels get attention, and this post got some at NEHGS. I was just on the telephone with NEHGS President and CEO D. Brenton Simons, whom I briefly met at the SCGS Jamboree (I'm sure he doesn't remember, but I do). He said that he understood the frustration behind the post, and that they receive many similar complaints from members. Brenton said that they are aware of the problems with the web site, and are working on fixing it, but it will take some time. I appreciate Brenton's contact and understanding and his willingness to improve the site. I look forward to praising the new site design and operation when it happens. We had a good conversation.

Let's have some fun today

I feel like I am on Genea-glut = 10 - overloaded with genealogy, Christmas, history, current events, rain, etc.

So in my seemingly endless exploration of the Genea-net (the Genealogy Internet) I happened to land on the ProGenealogists Genealogy Sleuth page.

There are some interesting and even fun pages linked here - such as:

* Date conversions - Julian to Gregorian. There are also Roman numbers to Arabic number conversion boxes and a Roman Numeral test here. I got X out of X on the conversions!

* Universal Currency Conversions. The top 85 currencies can be converted to any of the other currencies. Did you know that $1 US is equal to 68.6 Banklgadesh Taka?

* Current Value of Old Money - has many links to really interesting web pages concerning the cost of items in historical times.

* Our Timelines - creates a personalized timeline showing historical events within the lifetime of a person you define.

* This Day in History - input a month, day and year and see who was born, who died, and historical events on the specified day. Leave out the year, and you get the full sweep of history from 4 AD up until 1997 AD.

* What Day of the Week Was It? - input a date, month, and year and determine what day of the week it was. I was born on a Saturday.

* Tools and Implements from 1881 - need to know what a scagliola is? Check out these terms (you'll need a LizardTech plugin to see the pages) from the 1881 Knights Mechanical Dictionary.

Have fun! We'll do more genealogy tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month. There is always more to do than we have time for, isn't there?

Family Photographs - Post 34: Christmas 1954

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 Seaver family collection:

This is my family at Christmas 1954. From the left are my father, Frederick W. Seaver (age 43), my brother Stan Seaver (age 8), me (age 11) and my mother, Betty (Carringer) Seaver (age 35). Check out the fancy outfits - who knew that there were big collar leisure suits in 1954? I love my dad's bow-tie, too. Pretty snazzy! My mom had really red lipstick too, and looks so proud of her three guys. Little did she know that there would be four within a year.

The setting is the Lyle and Emily Carringer home at 825 Harbor View Place on Point Loma in San Diego. This is the famous "Santa Claus" fireplace - we didn't have a fireplace at our house at 2119 30th Street. I don't see the "stockings hung by the chimney with care" so the photograph may have been taken at Thanksgiving in order to send the picture of our family to the relatives in New England.

On Christmas Day, we were out on the front steps with our Davy Crockett coonskin caps and Daisy BB guns - see the photo here.

This photograph was handed down to me from my mother in the great family photograph transfer from 1988 to 2002.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another Trial Subscription

I posted several weeks ago in Give Ancestry for Christmas that there were bargains for subscriptions through (but they include buying Family Tree Maker 16, 2008 or 2009 - your choice).

I bought Family Tree Maker 16 last month with a six-month Ancestry subscription for $32.49 plus $6.95 for shipping = $39.44, a savings of $62.26 for two three-month subscriptions (but only a savings of $38.26 for half of a 12-month retail subscription).

My previous subscription expired on 15 December - yesterday. I cancelled it the day before, effective on 15 December. I was working away in yesterday at about 3:30 pm PST and all of a sudden the subscription went "Guest." Okay, I thought, now I'll activate the new trial subscription from within my newly installed and registered Family Tree Maker 16 software.

Activating a trial subscription is supposed to work from within FTM 16 by clicking on Internet>Start an Ancestry Trial Subscription. I did this, entered my credit card information and waited a few seconds - and got "You have already activated this trial subscription." Wait - no I haven't, I just bought it and if I had activated it I would have six months left on it.

Where's the Ancestry phone number? Not clearly shown on their web pages. Ah - 1-800-ANCESTRY. That makes sense. Oops, it's after 4 pm PST now, and they are open from 10 am to 6 pm Eastern time. I'll have to call tomorrow. So I went without Ancestry for a night - no big deal (well, actually I could have used it, but I found something else to do).

This morning, armed with my software box, the order and invoice forms, I called 1-800-ANCESTRY, navigated the voice mail directions successfully, and spoke to a delightful woman who helped me out. I told her my sad story, and gave her my current user ID. She asked me if there was a validation code in the software box (nope!), and then asked for the bar code number on the software box. I gave that to her (it's on the bottom of the box), and she said that I would be registered for six months sometime today. It took about two hours (and I was out of the house for one of them) to receive the confirmation email and to test it out - it works fine!

Of course, I need to do the same thing in six months...but then I'm being a frugal genealogist these days.

I'm an Elf!

The JibJab folks make it easy for a group of persons to "star" in a dance routine. Here is the link to five of the ProGen Group D participants, er, elfs, in "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

Do you recognize any of these folks? You should! I didn't do this - my friend Sheri did it - and she did a great job!

This video is good only through 15 January 2009. Of course, I could download it and save it to show to my progeny, but it costs $4.95 to do that.

If you have the time and thumbnail photos, you can Elf Yourself (or your kids, or your folks - be creative).

Tombstone Tuesday - the Blanchards

My father, Frederick W. Seaver (1911-1983) was not the first from my family Seaver to settle in the San Diego area. His grand-aunt, Elizabeth (Seaver) Blanchard (1859-1914) came to San Diego with her husband, Frederick G. Blanchard, before 1888, and settled in the (then) booming town of National City, just south of San Diego along the bayfront (and just north of the now booming city of Chula Vista)..

Frederick and Elizabeth (Seaver) Blanchard are buried, with their daughter Elizabeth, who died at age 14 months, in National City, California, and are buried in La Vista Memorial Park in National City. They are buried in the unmaintained portion of the cemetery, shown in the photo below:

The handsome granite stone is on the western edge of the cemetery, and looks like this (viewed from the east):

This is the only record I have found for the daughter, Elizabeth Blanchard, who died at age 14 months. I have not found a birth or death record.

Elizabeth Lucinda (Seaver) Blanchard was born 26 March 1858 in Westminster MA, the daughter of Isaac and Lucretia (Smith) Seaver. She married Frederick G. Blanchard on 1 January 1878 in Leominster MA, and died 10 September 1914 in National City CA. I am descended from Elizabeth's oldest brother, Frank Walton Seaver, my great-great grandfather.

Frederick and Elizabeth (Seaver) Blanchard had three sons, Frederick Thomas Blanchard (born 24 September 1878 in Leominster MA, died 3 February 1947 in Los Angeles CA, married Mary Helen Webster on 21 December 1912 in San Diego County CA); Lawrence C. Blanchard (born 29 May 1888 in National City CA, married Vivienne Pettit in 1921, died 2 July 1945 in San Mateo County CA); and Kenneth L. Blanchard (born May 1891 in National City, died in late 1918 in FRANCE). I believe, but don't know for sure, that the daughter Elizabeth was the fourth child of Frederick and Elizabeth (Seaver) Blanchard - she is dead before the 1900 census (Elizabeth is listed with four children born, three living).

I discovered this gravestone by happenstance when visiting La Vista Memorial Park for the South San Diego County Graveyard Rabbit post about the cemetery. See, blogging pays off!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Brothers find each other after 67 years

The BBC News web site has a good story today titled "Brothers together after 67 years" about two brothers, separated in Germany during World War II, who found each other after 67 years.

Klaus Mueller of Germany is 76, and never knew he had a younger brother by his father, Hans Beschorner (it doesn't say, but I'm guessing that Klaus was adopted after World War II, but knew his father's name). Peter Hans Beschorner of Norfolk in England was also the son of Hans Beschorner, by a mother that Hans married in England.

Peter applied for information about his Jewish father stored in a German document archive. Klaus also searched for the same details, and they found each other. What are the odds of that happening?

Genealogy research creates a win-win situation again. Cool.

Christmas Advent Calendar - Days 10 to 5

During December 2007, a number of genealogy bloggers participated in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee on his Destination: Austin Family blog (click on the Day of the Month - unfortunately, the images aren't there any more). Each blogger wrote an article around a meme for the day. It was great fun, but a lot of work. One of my reasons for writing these posts was to leave my memories of Christmas in an organized way for my progeny.

Rather than waste bandwidth duplicating the posts every day (since nothing much has changed since last year), I'm just going to post them week-by-week, along with my little original doggerel for each day. We are counting backwards in this Advent Calendar series - the First Day of Christmas is December 24th.

The third week of Advent posts include:

* Day 10 - The Family Journal

On the 10th day of Christmas,
I sent to all my relatives
this year's Family Journal to read.

* Day 9 - Christmas at School

On the 9th day of Christmas,
I got dressed up as a tree
for the school play pageantry.

* Day 8 - Christmas Church Services

On the 8th Day of Christmas,
my true love reminded me
Of the reason for the season.

* Day 7 - Christmas Stockings

On the 7th Day of Christmas,
my true love said to me
"You'd better fill that up for me!"

* Day 6 - Christmas Shopping

On the 6th Day of Christmas,
My true love "ordered" me
To go out and buy some jewelry.

* Day 5 - Christmas and Deceased Relatives

On the 5th Day of Christmas
My true love said "I'm sad,
Let's go see your mom and dad."

More next week! Enjoy.

If you didn't participate in this Carnival last year and you want to blog on the memes - go for it! Your progeny will appreciate it, and your colleagues in the Genea-Blog-world will enjoy them.

Critical Genealogy Software Reviews - and more

Is this what you think about Family Tree Maker 2008?

"Family Tree Maker 2008, a complete rebuild of the product, accomplished something entirely unexpected: it made Family Tree Maker Classic look good"

It is what Tamura Jones thinks about FTM 2008, and he is not afraid to say it.

Have you read many truly critical software reviews - you know, reviews that constructively criticize the contents of a software package, the user interfaces, the standards used, etc.

Most genealogy software reviews comment about the look and feel, the output, the ease of input - frankly, that's what my "testing" posts of FTM 2008 and other packages have been about. Other genea-bloggers essentially post the press releases from the software companies and praise the latest and greatest features.

Are you willing to look and think critically about genealogy software? If you are, then check out Tamura Jones web site, called Modern Software Experience, at

The web site is comprised of original articles dealing with genealogy, browser, office and other software packages. In each article, he analyzes the program components and features, tests them with his own databases, and constructively criticizes the package - what does it do well, what could it do better, where is it dangerous, etc.

Tamura says he uses "...web standards so you can use any web browser worthy of the name. It uses Unicode-encoded XHTML 1.1 with CSS, and all images are in PNG or SVG format." The "web standards" reference means that you CANNOT use the standard Microsoft Internet Explorer on his web site (although he provides instructions for changing IE settings to make it work). For Windows computers, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are web standard compliant, and Tamura provides a link to download them. I downloaded Google Chrome and use it to read Tamura's site.

His is a web site, not a blog. It has no RSS feed. You have to visit it often to see new content. The web site is beautifully simple - a list of key words on the left, a list of links to articles on the right. The content is frequently updated.

What genealogy software programs has Tamura written about? There are articles about Family Tree Maker 2009, The Master Genealogist Version 7, Legacy Family Tree 7.0, Family Historian 3.1.2, It's Our Tree 1.0, and many more (click on the Genealogy link for the list).

He also has survey and review articles like Social Genealogy Sites, Footnote is not Facebook, Genealogical Record: Most Married, etc.

Tamura has been a frequent commenter on Genea-Musings about genealogy software and has helped me with many of my software questions. I appreciate and value his expertise.

I admit that I am not a computer scientist like Tamura, so I cannot critically evaluate his comments about the "computer" aspects of his critiques.

Will genealogy software companies read his critiques and modify their programs to incorporate Tamura's suggestions or correct problems that he points out? I sincerely hope that they will. The genealogy "industry" needs computer scientists providing constructive criticism that improves their products.

UPDATE 12/15 10:40 am: After I posted this, I was reading my Bloglines and found that Louis Kessler on his Behold Genealogy blog also reviewed this web site at It's a good review with more and different information than I provided above.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Best of the Genea-Blogs - December 7-13, 2008

Several hundred genealogy and family history bloggers write thousands of posts every week about their research, their families, and their interests. I appreciate each one of them and their efforts.

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

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

* 10 Simple Steps to Start Writing Your Genealogy Memoirs Today by Coralie Johnson on Ben Sayer's blog. Coralie is a published author, and has excellent ideas for writing family history stories and books.

* Definitions, Explanations and Clarifications of Sociological and Anthropological Terms by Carolyn Earle Billingsley on the Life in Possum Hollow blog. Carolyn links to an excellent paper about these terms - read all about sodality, exogamy and many more terms.

* What is Truth? by John Newmark on the Transylvanian Dutch blog. John has some interesting examples of sorting out truth from family fiction - three fascinating stories about names and dates.

* Tuesday's Tip: City Directories by Miriam Midkiff on the Ancestories: Stories About My Ancestors blog. Miriam has written a comprehensive summary of what city directories care, why use them, and where to find them. Excellent work!

* First Parish Cemetery of York, Maine by Pat Richley on the DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Blog. Ol' Myrt spotlights Tom Feeney's email about the efforts to write online biographies about every person buried in this cemetery. This is a tremendous undertaking, and could be a worthwhile project for genealogy societies.

* The Heirs of Emily Bair by Becky Wiseman on the kinexxions blog. Becky tries to figure out who all of the people are in a guardianship court record and why their father had to be named their guardian. It's an interesting case and Becky finds more questions to answer.

* Compiled Military Service Records by the author of The Ancestry Insider blog. The Insider continues with his series of posts about visiting NARA and NARA records. He discusses the records, their organization, finding aids and sources of information.

* Canadian Genealogy Carnival - 2nd Edition by Kathryn Lake Hogan on the LOOKING4ANCESTORS blog. Kathryn spotlights eight genea-bloggers that contributed posts about their most famous Canadian ancestor.

* Genetic Genealogy Links for December 12, 2008 by Blaine Bettinger on The Genetic Genealogist blog. Blaine provides a great summary of DNA Testing specials, Genetic Genealogy Research Articles and Genetic Genealogy in the News.

* Bringing Family History Through the Back Door by Bob Kramp on the Life's Journey blog. Bob has some great ideas for involving children and young adults in genealogy and family history research, and tells some good research stories too.

* Edit is a Four Letter Word by Emily Aulicino on the Writing Your Memories blog. Emily has wise advice for writers about taking the time to EDIT - Educate, Draft, Incorporate and Take Time - my/your deathless prose.

* Survey of Washington Chapel Cemetery by Terry Snyder on The Great Black Swamp Graveyard Rabbit blog. Check out Terry's terrific slide show presentation with photos of stones in this cemetery.

* A Note From Beyond the Grave by Kathryn M. Doyle on the California Genealogical Society and Library blog. Kathryn hears a genea-gasm (well, a shriek of delight, anyway) in the library, and tells us about a wonderful, but not fortuitous, find hiding in a musty book donated 75 years ago (and probably not opened since).

* The thrill of the hunt, the fun of the search by Schelly Talalay Dardashti on the MyHeritage Genealogy Blog. Schelly's article describes what many of us feel about genealogy and family history research, and she has many words of wisdom for new researchers. For me, this is the Best Of the Best Of for the week.

Thank you to all genealogy bloggers for an interesting and informative week. Did you notice some new blogs on this list? I hope so!

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!

Have you noticed that I created a blog category for all of the Best of the Genea-Blog posts in the Labels below this post? Click on it if you've missed earlier editions of BOTG-B.