Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - show us your Genealogy Space

It's Saturday Night - time for some Genealogy Fun. Or maybe not, depending on your ability to transfer a photo from your digital camera to your computer. You can do that, can't you?

Here's the challenge for tonight:

1) Take a digital picture of your Genealogy Space - whether it is a table, desk, bookcase, whatever. Take more than one if you want.

2) Show off your Genealogy Space to all of us in a blog post showing your digital pictures. If you aren't blogging or don't want to show us your pictures, go to 3) below without passing Go or collecting another ancestor.

3) Tell us something about your Genealogy Space. How long does it take you to find something? Are you thinking of reorganizing your space?

Here's my pictures of the Genea-Cave. The Cave is in a small back bedroom, formerly my daughters, and it is chock full of paper and stuff. The first picture is of my desk and the computer setup:

As you can see, I have paper neatly stacked to the left of my computer (my working files), just in front of my printer (on the left, the things I don't know where to put them), and in an expensive filing rack on the back left side of the monitor. I take notes on the little papers to the left of my keyboard in unreadable Seaver-scrawl.

Just to the right of the desk, under the window, is my fine collection of mostly useless genealogy paper in notebooks in three low bookcases- this is the Fred and Betty (Carringer) Seaver Memorial Collection of mostly derivative sources and secondary information collected during my 20 years of research. I can find any piece of paper, but sometimes it takes more than 30 seconds. On top of the three bookcases, and almost to the window level, is my collection of genealogy magazines, newsletters and journals. I've been collecting them for a long time, and rarely go through them. I wish that they were all digitized and/or online. They aren't! Yet.

To the left of the desk is two bookcases - a tall one with my "active" notebooks of my research, including genealogy reports of my ancestry, my wife's ancestry and my reports on my one-name Seaver, Carringer, Dill and other surnames. The smaller bookcase holds my family history photo albums. On top of the smaller bookcase is the Randy Seaver "M&M Happiness" jar, a wine glass with stuck M&Ms in it, my grandfather's gold watch that doesn't work, and a green underwater camera from 2007, among other things:

That's it! Well, wait, that's not it. I forgot to take a photo of the large filing cabinet, and two small ones, the round table with stacks of paper, and the floor to my right and back with boxes of genealogy society stuff (and family photographs). Oh well. Next time.

Now do you see why I call it the Genea-Cave? I even tidied the stacks up before I took the pictures! If I were to take some time to put everything in a proper place, reorganize my files, and clean off my desk it would take weeks away from manic blogging, researching and losing stuff. Hey, it's all mine. My kids and wife will have a field day with it if I check out early. I hope they can find my Genealogical Will codicil. I wonder where that is now? It would be funny if it weren't sad, eh?

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 7: Creating a Narrative Descendants Report

I downloaded the free RootsMagic 4 beta release in early March, and easily uploaded my Family Tree Maker file to it. In this series, I'm looking at different features of RootsMagic 4. I'm not doing a comprehensive review, just looking at features important to me.

Previous posts in this series include:

* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 1: Navigation
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 2: Editing Person Data
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 3: Adding a Child to the Family
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 4A: Creating a Pedigree Chart
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 4B: Creating a Pedigree Chart
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 5: Creating a Family Group Sheet
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 6: Creating a Narrative Ancestor's Report

In this post, I'm going to create a Narrative Report of the descendants of my 4th great-grandfather, Humphrey White (1758-1814). In the "Family" View, I clicked on the "Report" menu item and highlighted the "Narrative Report" option:

We've discussed all of the options in earlier posts, so I won't repeat them here. After clicking on "Narrative Report," the "Report Settings" menu opens:

There are five different types of Descendants Reports that can be chosen:

* Modified Register - where each descendant has a unique, sequential number, and families are listed in numerical order, separated by generation headers. A system like this is used in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and other scholarly genealogy periodicals and reports. It is my preference for descendants reports.

* Register - where only descendants with children have a unique, sequential number. This system is used in the New England Historic Genealogical Register (NEHGR), a quarterly scholarly journal published by the New England Historical and Genealogical Society.

* Outline (indented) - where each descendant has a unique, sequential indicator - but in the order of Capital Roman Numeral, Capital letter, Arabic number, Lower-case letter, Lower-case Roman numeral, bracketed Arabic number, etc. I've seen this system used in books - it is impossible to follow while reading!

* Henry (indented) - where each descendant has a unique numerical designation based on the generation from the starting person and the child number of each ancestor. This is a logical system, but is difficult to use, but the indentations help. I have an example below.

* D'Aboville (indented) - where each descendant has a unique numerical designation based on the generation from the starting person and the child number of each ancestor, separated by periods. This is a logical system, easier to use than the Henry system. I have an example below.

The Modified Register system is shown below (first page only):

The Henry system is shown below (first two pages):

The D'Aboville system is shown below (first two pages):

Why would a genealogist use the Outline, Henry or D'Aboville numbering systems? The best reason is to keep all of the descendants of a certain person immediately under that person. The Modified Register and Register numbering systems list persons in generational order. Authors have written books about the merits of different genealogy numbering systems. My preference is the Modified Register system, where every person has a number and the families are listed in numerical order with Generation Number headings.

In the next post, we'll look at some Charts.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Articles at

I noticed that Juliana Smith hasn't posted many articles on the 24/7 Family History Circle blog recently. I went looking for her work on the Learning Center and found a whole set of new online publications there.

Among the "goodies" on the site are:

* The Ancestry Weekly Discovery - The Ancestry Weekly Discovery brings a weekly boost to your research with helpful articles, tips, and information on the latest new tools to help you discover your family's history. It's also a gateway to the 24/7 Family History Circle blog where you can interact with columnists and other readers and share your tips and comments on newsletter posts.

* The Ancestry Monthly Update -- The Ancestry Monthly is an e-mail newsletter created specifically for subscribers and registered users. Each issue contains great articles that tell you what’s new on the site and explain how to get the most out of your subscription. Get tips that will help you with your family history, discover exciting new record collections, or check out interesting and humorous finds from readers just like you.

* Ancestry Magazine -- Why did they come here? Where did they live? What were their lives like? And how do I learn more? When all you know about great-great-gramps is a name, turn to Ancestry Magazine. Six times a year, Ancestry Magazine and Ancestry Digital Magazine give you the insight, experience, and know-how you need to transform your family history questions into answers. From original articles to expert advice, rely on Ancestry Magazine to help you uncover your past.

* Article Archive -- The description of the archive is the same as for the weekly discovery set - an error I'm sure that will be fixed soon! Proofreaders on strike? The Article Archive is the collection of over 13,000 articles by respected genealogy writers on every topic you can think of. The site has a Search box - input a topic or an author's name to see the holdings.

There are also Videos and Webinars available at the Learning Center.

All of the articles, videos and webinars are FREE at the Ancestry Learning Center. They are a tremendous resource, especially for beginning researchers, or for researchers working with a new-to-them topic or record set.

You can sign up to receive the Ancestry Weekly Discovery and Ancestry Monthly Update newsletters via email. I did - I don't want to miss anything!

Genealogy Videos on YouTube

I was searching for genealogy and family history videos recently, and discovered that there are several "Genealogy" channels on, the largest personal video site.

The genealogy-related video channels I found include:

* Family Tree Magazine YouTube Channel -- – 15 videos (less than 10 minutes each)

* GenealogyGuy YouTube Channel -- – 11 videos (less than 10 minutes each) hosted by Robert Ragan.

* Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel -- – 21 videos of interviews hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke (variable length, up to 20 minutes).

* FamilyHistoryExpos YouTube Channel -- – 13 videos of interviews hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke (variable length).

* Genealogy Scrounge YouTube Channel -- - 32 videos of cheap and/or free genealogy research tools hosted by Dennis (last name unknown, a genea-blogger at Genealogy In & Around Quartzsite).

* Elyse90505 YouTube Channel - - 27 videos hosted by Elyse Doerflinger (a genea-blogger at Elyse's Genealogy Blog)

* African Ancestry YouTube Channel - - 27 videos sponsored by

There are many more channels with one to many videos. You can search for “genealogy” (2,380 matches) or “family history” (2,220 matches) at YouTube (, and find other videos contributed by genealogy researchers.

Enjoy -- I have!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 6: Creating a Narrative Ancestors Report

I downloaded the free RootsMagic 4 beta release in early March, and easily uploaded my Family Tree Maker file to it. In this series, I'm looking at different features of RootsMagic 4. I'm not doing a comprehensive review, just looking at features important to me.

Previous posts in this series include:

* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 1: Navigation
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 2: Editing Person Data
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 3: Adding a Child to the Family
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 4A: Creating a Pedigree Chart
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 4B: Creating a Pedigree Chart
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 5: Creating a Family Group Sheet

In this post, I'm going to create a Narrative Report of my father's ancestors. In the "Family" View, I clicked on the "Report" menu item and highlighted the "Narrative Report" option:

I clicked on "Narrative Report" and the "Report Settings" menu box opened. I chose 5 generations and "Ancestors and children" in the Report Type column (the other choices were Ancestors only, and Descendants reports in Modified Register, Register, Outline, Henry and D'Aboville numbering systems. I clicked on the "Options" button and selected a Date format, and unclicked all other options (start each generation on a separate page, print uplines, print preparer, print color codes, print notes, include photos, include private facts, include private notes, and strip brackets). I could have changed the sentence template text for people with no entered facts.

I clicked the "OK" button and then clicked the "Layout" button on the right side of the "Report Settings" box. The "Layout" input menu includes a Page tab (select paper size, portrait or landscape, and page margins) and a Header/Footer tab (input information for three sections of the header and footer, select to print the header/footer, and mirror header on even pages):

I clicked "OK" and went back to the "Report Settings" page and clicked on the "Fonts" button. The "Report Fonts" menu box opened, with options for Narrative Text and Narrative Headings. I could select font type, font size, bold, italics, underlined or strikethrough for both choices.

I clicked "OK" to go back to the "Report Settings" and clicked on the "Sources" button. On this menu, I could select from tabs Endnotes and Footnotes, Bibliography, Options and Fonts. On the Endnotes and Footnotes, I chose to print Footnotes at the bottom of the page; to Reuse Endnote numbers whenever possible; and Use "Ibid" in consecutive duplicate citations:

I clicked on the "OK" button to go to the Report Settings menu, and clicked on the "Indexes" button. The "Indexes" menu box opened and the tabs were Name Index, Place Index and Fonts. For the name and place indexes, I chose to have the name, birth and death listed, and two columns:

I clicked "OK" and was back to the "Report Options" box. I have all of my report options added, so I clicked on the "Generate Report" button to create the report.

The five-generation report of my father's ancestors took all of two seconds and created 13 pages. Here is the first page:

And the bottom of the first page (with footnotes) and the start of the second page:

Here is the bottom of the second page:

Scrolling down, the Name Index page is shown below:

There are some problems with this report (and other reports):

* No marriages are listed for any of the children, except for the descendant child.

The text sometimes shifts from standard to italics at random times. It isn't shown in the screens above, but it happened today for the same report - I double-checked the Fonts box to make sure that italics was unchecked.

There is no option to include other spouses and children for people married more than once.

I created a 12-generation report (no notes) in about 45 sections - 343 pages, including the indexes. Adding Notes took 50 seconds to generate a 12 generation report, which had 927 pages. Those numbers are very impressive, I think.

The user can save, print or email the report using the buttons in the very top row on the left side of the screen. The user can save the report as RTF, PDF, HTML or plain text. If saved as an RTF or plain text, the report can be edited, but extensive editing might mess up the indexing.

The ability to create reports is vital for modern genealogy software, and RootsMagic 4 seems to do it consistently and well (except for the items noted above).

In the next post, I will look at the Lists available using RootsMagic 4 and will create an Ahnentafel List.

We're Related - what value is it?

The organization is congratulating itself for "fool"ing millions of We're Related users on Facebook with the "you're a fourth cousin of Barack Obama" email foolishness. Some of us weren't "fool"ed of course - see my post Related to Barack Obama?

This would all be good fun if the We're Related application actually worked for genealogists.

Like many Facebook users, I signed up last year for We're Related and input my own name and my parents' names, and birth and death information, into the application. But I knew that adding people one at a time wasn't time efficient for me (with over 2,000 known ancestors), so I decided to use the GEDCOM upload. It failed. In spite of numerous promises, there is still no useful GEDCOM upload capability. GRR.

Recently, at the invitation of We're Related, I added one set of grandparents, and when I tried to input the other set of grandparents, they failed to load into the application. Naturally, I tried again, and wasted another 15 minutes of frustration. Can I get reimbursed for my lost time? GRRRR.

I would love it if We're Related on Facebook worked really well for me and other researchers. A great application would draw more users, and those enthusiastic users would invite their extended family members to view the family information and add more information. That's the way its supposed to work. crows about an "audience" of over 34 million and almost 200 million family relationships input to We're Related. Do the math - that's an average of less than six persons per user. My "tree" has only five persons, mainly because there is no GEDCOM capability and the system doesn't always "take" what I input by hand.

Genealogists want programs and applications that work well, don't cause frustration, upload GEDCOM files, and enable us to share our work with our extended family.

If it won't work well, what good is it? First impressions linger. Any company that provides a seemingly defective product will engender harsh feelings from the users of the product. Or be ignored. Or bashed. had a great opportunity to demonstrate the usefulness and versatility of the We're Related application - but it failed, IMHO. They should have "fixed it" before they showed it off.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

There are things that happen in a moment...

One of my favorite sayings is "There are things that happen in a moment that take a lifetime to explain." This is certainly true in genealogy - every person is a product of a "moment" between a biological father and a mother.

I posted about my Challenging Moral Dilemma almost two years ago, and nothing much has changed on that issue. I know Mary's surname, and who she married, and I don't think that there is a step-sibling of mine, unless she gave the baby up for adoption.

But WHAT IF my father had gotten Mary's father's approval, and had married Mary in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1940 or later? What would have happened? Here are some possibilities:

* There would have been no Randy Seaver (or his brothers) born in the San Diego area to Fred and Betty (Carringer) Seaver! Who would my mother have married? (Actually, another Randy Seaver WAS born in San Diego in 1963 - unrelated to me).

* San Diego High School and San Diego State University would have been deprived of one of their sterling graduates. Would they still care?

* A San Francisco woman would not have met this fellow at the bowling alley and fallen for his left-handed speed ball and wicked sense of humor. Who would she have married? Would they, and their children and grandchildren, be better off?

* Rohr Industries and Goodrich would have had to find another aerodynamics engineer to analyze flow fields and test thrust reversers.

* Two young girls would not have been born in the San Diego area with a fine New England ancestry.

* The San Diego Family History Center would have suffered a grave financial loss over the last 20 years.

* If Fred and Mary had children, what would have been the name of their first-born son? Probably not Frederick, Frank or Isaac. Perhaps Thomas, Walton, or Richmond, or Hildreth. Maybe Patrick, Michael or Sean?

* Would their first-born son have loved being with his grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc.? YES, I'm sure, very much so.

* Their children would have a fine Irish heritage, which would provide many elusive ancestors for their first-born son to identify and enjoy learning about, assuming that he cared about genealogy research.

* Their first-born son might have been a computer scientist, a teacher or baseball player rather than an engineer. Where would he have settled? Stayed in New England? Gone west?

* Who would their first-born son have married, and how many children and grandchildren would he have? It's impossible to know! But they would have a wonderful New England and Irish ancestry too!

* If their first-born son had turned to genealogy research, would the New England genealogy community be richer for his presence? Who knows.

Ah - there are things that happen in a moment... a simple YES to Fred when he asked Mary's father for her hand in marriage would have changed history in several places.

The amazing thing is that no one would have ever known the difference, eh?

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 5: Creating a Family Group Sheet

I downloaded the free RootsMagic 4 beta release in early March, and easily uploaded my Family Tree Maker file to it. In this series, I'm looking at different features of RootsMagic 4. I'm not doing a comprehensive review, just looking at features important to me.

Previous posts in this series include:

* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 1: Navigation
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 2: Editing Person Data
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 3: Adding a Child to the Family
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 4A: Creating a Pedigree Chart
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 4B: Creating a Pedigree Chart

In this post, I'm going to create a Family Group Sheet for my second great-grandfather, Isaac Seaver (1823-1901). The Family Group Sheet is an item on the "Report" menu drop down list, as shown below:

Clicking on the "Family Group Sheet" item on the dropdown list results in the "Report Settings" menu opening:

I checked the boxes for "Other spouses of parents," "Spouses of each child," "Basic events even if blank," and "Notes." I could have clicked on the "Fonts" button to change the font type, size, bold, italics, etc. of the text. I could have clicked on the "Sources" and "Indexes" buttons to print them also. I clicked on the "Generate Report" button and saw the classical Family Group Sheet:

All spouses for the parents are listed, as are the parents of the parents. The spouses of the children are shown.

The next sheet is the start of the Notes section for the father, Isaac Seaver:

At the end of the father's notes are the mother's notes:

This is a standard genealogy report done well. I didn't see any way to add color to the chart, but most FGS's don't have color - they are just useful charts to convey family information.

I remembered that the free RootsMagic 4 trial ended on 31 March, and when I opened RootsMagic 4 this morning, the program asked me if I wanted to continue with the trial version (crippled), purchase RM 4 or use the registration key if I had already purchased the program. I clicked the latter, and easily used the Registration Key sent via email and registered my copy of RootsMagic 4.

In the next post, we'll look at a Narrative Report that could be used to document a portion or all of a person's genealogy research.

Family Photographs - Post 49: An Outdoor Playpen

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

This photograph is from my grandfather's photo album that I scanned during Scanfest in January:

That is my mother, Betty Virginia Carringer (1919-2002) in her sturdy, well-constructed wood and screen playpen. It was probably taken outside the Lyle and Emily Carringer family home at 2052 Harrison Street in San Diego in late 1919 or early 1920.

I wonder who constructed the playpen? Her grandfather, Henry Austin Carringer, was a carpenter. Perhaps her father, Lyle Carringer constructed it. It's a simple construction, and effective. The baby could see what was happening as the world went by, and she was contained sufficiently. She could explore the grass, dirt and any bugs that she could find in her little 16 square foot domain. I wonder how long it took before she could climb out of it?

Related to Barack Obama? Aren't we all?

One of my emails this morning said:

"Hi, Barack Obama (Washington, DC) has confirmed you as his fourth cousin once removed on We're Related. Follow this link to see how you are related:

"We're Related Team"

Well, thank you We're Related for figuring this out! I couldn't resist clicking on the link provided (figuring that it was just an advertisement or something), but I saw this (two screens):

Pretty neat, huh? But WRONG! Here is even more genealogy data put on the web that is WRONG! By a reputable genealogy data provider, too. The horrors. If you examine the line of descent from the common ancestor, you will see that they conveniently put (private) after my grandparents and parents names, thereby creating the impression that they are respecting the privacy of my deceased loved ones. Heck, everyone knows who those folks are if they read my blog. They even added my photo to make it look authentic!

Did you notice that they even spelled my cousin Barack's name wrong at the top of the page? Does my cousin Barack really have a Facebook page?

Everyone who reads my blog know that I really am related to Barack Obama - see my post Yep, Barack Obama is my cousin! We are 8th cousins once removed, not 4th cousins once removed.

You would think that, in the interest of accuracy, We're Related would get it right. After all, they went to the trouble to create the information in We're Related to make this chart and send it to me. And to many other Facebook genealogists too, I think. I wonder how many?

I would correct this error if I could find the time to laboriously enter the information for my more than 2,000 known ancestors into We're Related on Facebook. I decided to wait until they permit a GEDCOM upload. They've been promising it for over a year. I've been waiting a long time, with great patience. When, oh when, will We're Related stop holding my GEDCOM upload hostage?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - Finding a Specific RevWar Pension File

I've had a lot of trouble narrowing my searches in in past months, so I decided to try some alternate methods.

I knew that Isaac Johnson of Chatham, Connecticut had a Revolutionary War Pension File, and I knew that his wife's maiden name was Rebecca Cole.

Here is the new home page - it has a search box at the top just waiting for a name to be put in:

I resisted the urge to put the name in the box, since I knew that doing that would give me too many matches and I'd have to select the Revolutionary War Pension File collection anyway. Instead, I scrolled down a bit to the "Search by Historical Era" row and rolled my mouse over "Revolution - 1700s-1815" and the list of collections for that era were visible:

I clicked on Revolutionary War Pensions from the list, and this screen appeared:

I input [isaac johnson connecticut] in the Search box (see above) and clicked on "Search":

There were 428 matches found for my search criteria, which is too many to look at one at a time. I need to narrow my search. I tried inputting "Chatham" as a keyword and got zero matches. I backed up one screen, and decided to input "Cole" - Isaac's wife's maiden name, in the Keyword box, as shown below:

I was rewarded with only 8 matches (two screens below, they overlap a bit):

The second and third matches have Isaac Johnson and Rebecca (or Rebekah) Cole listed in an Isaac Johnson pension file, so I clicked on the "View Image" button and Page 18 of the Isaac Johnson pension file appeared:

The annotated and indexed names are shown with a yellow border around them when you run your mouse over them. At the bottom of the screen is the filmstrip of all of the pages in the file. You can click on the large left or right arrows to move forward or backwards in the file. There are 52 pages in the Isaac Johnson pension file, including pages that identify their daughter Anna Johnson as the wife of Benjamin Sherman.

On the right of the screen is the source citation information, including the NARA publication (microfilm series) number, the state, the veteran's name, the pensioner's name (in this case it was Rebekah Johnson), the pension file application number, etc.

The user can print any or all of the pages out, or save them to their computer hard drive. These actions have to be performed one page at a time. It took almost an hour to download this 52 page file.

The search process described above seemed very cumbersome to me. The Search process seems to take a really long time compared to other genealogy database search engines, even when you start from a specific database as I did in this case. If I didn't know to narrow the search using a state (included in my first search term) and then the wife's maiden name (it was lucky I knew that), then I would have taken several hours to try to find the right Isaac Johnson in the 428 matches resulting from the initial search.

I don't know what to suggest to about this - perhaps a list of the Veterans with their state, home town, military unit and pension application number? There are problems with that, though - they may not have applied in the home town that they served during the war. Also, the veteran might have served with more than one unit. Not everyone will know the pension application number before performing this search.

For many of these NARA databases, is the only online provider, so it behooves all of us to learn how to perform our searches efficiently and effectively.

Was there an easier way for me to perform this search? If so, please tell me in comments to this post, or send me an email at

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 4B: Creating a Pedigree Chart

In my last post, I lamented (complained?) that I wanted to put colors on the names in the pedigree chart. Reader Rudolph J. gave me a clue how to do that - activate Tools > Color Code People, then select a color and check the Ancestors of current person box. I picked Red!

Here is the result - the six-generation (without cascading sheets) with the "Ancestor of current person" being myself:

Then I read Rudolph's comment again, and found that I could color code groups of people with different colors. I chose my four grandparents to have different colors, and came up with my own pedigree chart:

He noted that the color coding shows up in the Pedigree, Family and Descendant and People Views, and in the Name Index on the left.

Thank you to Chris for the hint and the help. There are so very many options in this program that I haven't explored yet. I did find the Maps finally - I'll show some of that in a later post.

I bought the program yesterday ahead of the 1 April 2009 deadline, and got the $10 discount for users of other genealogy software. They send a registration key via email. They suggested a way to use the registration key before 1 April, and I tried it, but it didn't work for some reason. On 1 April, the trial version will ask for the registration key, I think. We'll see!

Tombstone Tuesday - Ephraim Sawtell (1685-1768)

Ephraim Sawtell was born in about 1685 in Groton, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, the son of Obadiah and Hannah (Lawrence) Sawtell. He married (1) Abigail Farnsworth on 10 April 1713 in Groton, married (2) Hannah Farwell on 15 March 1755 in Groton, and married (3) Hannah Parker on 30 September 1762 in Groton. Ephraim Sawtell died 8 October 1768 in Groton.

Ephraim Sawtell's tombstone stands in the Old Burying Ground in Groton, Massachusetts:

The tombstone shows a cherub's head on the top, below the words "Memento Mori."
The inscription says:

Here lies Interred
the Body of Capt.
Ephraim Sawtell
who departed this
Life October 8th
1768 In the 83d
year of his age.

"Dear friends for me pray do not weep,
I am not dead but here do sleep,
Within this solid lump of clay,
Until the Resurection Day:
And here indeed I must remain,
Till Christ shall rais me up again.
Isn't this a beautifully carved stone? There are many well-preserved stones like this in the Old Burying Ground in Groton. Transcriptions of the stones in this cemetery are provided in the US GenWeb archives here. A book (Epitaphs from the old burying ground in Groton, Massachusetts, By Samuel Abbott Green, Arthur Bruce Coburn, Published by Little, Brown, & Company, 1878) is available on Google Books here.

I don't recall where I obtained this photograph, and others from this cemetery. I may have taken them myself on a trip to New England in 1994 or 1995, and I may have obtained them from a kind correspondent who took them and sent them to me years ago.

I thought that this Ephraim Sawtell was my ancestor, but it turns out that he is a brother of my ancestor Hezekiah Sawtell (1703-1779), also of Groton. I thought that it was such a great stone that I would post it anyway!

Monday, March 30, 2009

50 Most Popular Genealogy Web Sites

Kory Meyerink MLS, AG, FUGA, has compiled the 2009 list of the 50 most popular genealogy web sites - they are listed here. He presented the list at the BYU Computerized Genealogy Conference held on March 13 and 14.

I didn't see many surprises on the list. is number 1, and The Generations Network has #2 (, #4 (Rootsweb), #5 (MyFamily) and #21 (FamilyTreeMaker) slots also. is #9 and is #13. No genealogy blogs made the list.

I was surprised to see at #18 and at #26. The other surprise to me was that was #15 while was #30.

The big movers on the Top 50 were moving from #18 to #8; Linkpendium from #35 to #24; from #40 to #29; from #49 to #30; breaking onto the chart at #35.

Read the whole list! David Lifferth has up-to-date rankings from Alexa on his web site that are somewhat different from the Meyerink Top 50 list.

Hat tip to the WorldVitalRecords blog for alerting us to the Top 50 list.

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 4: Creating a Pedigree Chart

I downloaded the free RootsMagic 4 beta release in early March, and easily uploaded my Family Tree Maker file to it. In this series, I'm looking at different features of RootsMagic 4. I'm not doing a comprehensive review, just looking at features important to me.

Previous posts in this series include:

* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 1: Navigation
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 2: Editing Person Data
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 3: Adding a Child to the Family

In this post, I'm going to create a Pedigree Chart for my father, Frederick W. Seaver (1911-1983). The Pedigree Chart is an item on the "Report" menu drop down list, as shown below:

Clicking on "Pedigree Chart," the program opens the "Report Settings" box.
I can change the Start Person if I need to by clicking on the "Start person" button at the top left. I can control how many generations are on the chart - I chose 6 (the choices were 4, 5 or 6). I can also choose to create cascading pedigree charts for more generations by checking the box "Print cascading charts and selecting then umber of generations in the middle left side of the "Report Settings" box.

There are four buttons on the right side of the "Report Settings" box - Reset, Layout, Fonts and Index. I clicked the "Layout" button and could select Portrait or Landscape, and the margin sizes, for the chart. I could have clicked the "Header/Footer" tab and added information to the header and footer also. The "Page Layout" screen looks like this::

Back on the "Report Settings" page, I clicked on the "Fonts" button, and this box appeared:

I could choose the font name, font size, bold, italic, underline and strike out for the chart names, the chart events and the chart labels. I was surprised that there were no color options for the Pedigree Chart. I would love to make the names and the lines in red or blue so that they stand out.

Next on the "Report Settings" box was the "Indexes" button - this brings up the "Index Settings" box:

In this box, I could change the fonts, font size, etc. for the Name Index and the Place Index. I could select no index, the index style and the number of columns. I chose "no index."

After going through all of the "Report Settings" box options, I clicked on the "Generate Report" button on the bottom right of the box, and my six-generation pedigree chart was created:

As you can see, the information for the 5th and 6th generations are limited due to size restrictions to get it all on one page. A four-generation chart shows all of the birth, marriage and death information, and a five-generation chart shows only the dates in the fifth generation (similar to the six-generation chart above).

What about the earlier generations? Without closing the Pedigree Chart, I can click on the "Settings" button in the upper left hand corner of the screen and get back to the settings:

In order to see the next five generations, I checked the "Print cascading charts" button, selected 10 generations, and clicked on the "Generate Report" button at the bottom right, and the program created 20 pedigree charts for me. Note that the continuation notice applies to the line above the notice. Here is the second pedigree chart, for no 32 on Chart #1:

Once you get used to the menu items and the navigation buttons, the program is pretty easy to use. It works very quickly - taking just about three seconds to create the 20 pedigree charts. I would like to see a bit more formatting on the Pedigree Chart (such as color options for the lines and the names, dates and events, but it works well.

In the next post, we'll check out the Family Group Sheet reports.

Mystery Monday - Robert Leroy Thompson of Tennessee (1880-1965)

Amy Crooks on her Untangled Family Roots blog suggested a "Madness Monday" meme to discuss those ancestors that drive us crazy - either because of what they did with their lives or because they are so elusive.

Here's one of the elusive ancestors of my brother-in-law's wife that is so mysterious that I have been unable to find a birth, marriage or census record for him.

ROBERT LEROY THOMPSON (1880-1965) of Tennessee

Here is a series of posts about my hunt for this elusive ancestor:

* My UFOs are hiding

* More UFO attempts

* Desperately seeking the Thompson family

* Leroy Thompson's obituary

* The Robert Leroy Thompson brick wall

* The Ultimate "Dodging the Census" Puzzle

* Sharing Family Information

Rather than re-post all of this information, I will leave the information buried in those links. Suffice it to say that I have not found anything about this man on my own except for the SSDI entry. The family had the letters which provide a marriage date time frame, the military papers that provides his enlistment date and place, and the photographs. The death certificate, which provided the birth date and place and death date and place, and his obituary were provided by a kind soul in NC.

I welcome any suggestions on how to find a marriage record in Tennessee in the 1917 time frame, and how to find name changes and adoption/guardianship records (but I don't know the county!). I recall that I was going to get the SS-5 application and didn't do it.

Must-Read Genealogy Blogs - Ask Olive Tree Genealogy a Question

I'm going to start highlighting genealogy blogs that add significant value to the genea-blogosphere. This may be a regular weekly feature at Genea-Musings!

I want to start the series by mentioning the absolute BEST new genealogy blog for 2009, in my humble opinion. There are quite a few new blogs, but this one, in my book, is number one.

My first Must-Read genealogy blog is Ask Olive Tree Genealogy a Question, written by Lorine McGinnis Schulze who has a number of other genealogy blogs and the Olive Tree Genealogy web site.

Lorine started her new blog on 1 January 2009 and committed to writing a new blog post every day answering a question from a reader. Today is the 89th consecutive day of Lorine's commitment, which I think is amazing (a time period that included the death of her mother).

The lead paragraph on Lorine's site says:

"Do you need help finding an ancestor? Do you have a genealogy question you would like to ask me? Do you want to know where to find certain genealogy records? Let Lorine help! Every day I will choose one question to answer. Send your query about your ancestors to me then check back here to see if it has been answered. Please take a few minutes to read other queries that I've responded to so you get an idea of the kind of query most apt to be chosen."

I encourage all of my readers to go visit Ask Olive Tree Genealogy a Question and see the scope of the questions and the quality of Lorine's responses.

This is a tremendous challenge for many of us - to authoritatively respond to a reader's brickwall question, and to do it with patience and good humor. Lorine does it extremely well. I really appreciate the effort and the leads the answers have provided me for my own research.

Are there any other genealogy blogs doing this type of question-and-answer on a regular basis (even weekly)? I can't think of one.

Do you have a nominee of a Must-Read Genealogy Blog? If so, please let me know in comments or email ( I will summarize your suggestions occasionally so that we all can benefit from them.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Best of the Genea-Blogs - March 22-28, 2009

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:

* What's NOT in Ancestry Library Edition by Diane Haddad on The Genealogy Insider blog. This is a really helpful post for those who access Ancestry at a public library.

* Free genealogy lectures via Skype by Schelly Talalay Dardashti on the Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog. I completely missed the move of Beau Sharbrough's blog to another platform, and the announcement that he was no longer at This post provided very useful information about using Skype to provide a genealogy program to a remote location like a society or conference.

* Genealogy and History Channels on YouTube [Reference Shelf] by Jennifer on the Rainy Day Genealogy Readings blog. Jennifer passes along a list of links to YouTube channels of interest to genealogists. There are some new ones to me on the list.

* Top Ten Reasons Why I Blog by Greta Koehl on the Greta's Genealogy Bog blog. Greta has a nice list of reasons - #1 is that we might be contacted by a distant unknown relative who finds our blog. This happened to Greta recently. Read all of her reasons.

* Gen Web Project by the author of the blog. This post provides a nice summary of the origin and scope of the USGenWeb project which is an indispensable genealogy research tool.

* There’s No Such Thing as Proof by Craig Manson on the Geneablogie blog. Craig's thesis is that "Something which is true may not necessarily be proven, and that which is not true might be proven. So it is in life; so it is in genealogy." and he demonstrates it with examples from his own research. Great post!

* Secrets of a Successful Genealogical Society by Kimberly Powell on Kimberly's Genealogy Blog. Kimberly shares a link to her article outlining ways for a society to grow and thrive. Good ideas, all!

* Choices ~ Consequences by Lee Drew on the FamHist blog. Lee writes about his father's choices and how they affected many lives. A wonderful tribute to a good man.

* Death of's living person database by the Ancestry Insider on The ancestry Insider blog. The AI provides a great list of People-Finder sites after the demise of the "old" Public Records Index. He also cautions against giving any web site your email address book. wise words.

* (Not at All) Wordless Wednesday - Browning vs. Beck (1837) by Patti Browning on the Consanguinity blog. Patti finds some interesting court records that clear up a family mystery. Nice work putting it together!

* Genealogical Blogs – A Wealth of Information at Your Fingertips by Carolyn L. Barkley on the blog. Carolyn's article discusses genealogy blogs, their purposes, how to find them, and provides links to some interesting blogs that I haven't read before.

* Internet Genealogy – It's Just the Tip of the Iceberg by Kathryn H. Doyle on the California Genealogical Society and Library Blog. Check out the terrific graphic created by the daughter of a CGS member. It's an instant classic that should be on a poster displayed in every repository.

* Friday From the Collectors - March 27: Is She Dead? by footnoteMaven on the Shades of the Departed blog. fM has presented another intriguing photograph and asked the question "Is She Dead?" I don't think she is. Read the comments for interesting analyses.

* Computing in the Clouds by Dick Eastman on the Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter blog. This post describes "cloud computing" which may be where the Internet is headed - information stored online instead of on hard drives. There are several genealogy applications already, and dick describes them nicely. Read the comments too.

* Bound for Mom, A Journey of Firsts by Thomas MacEntee on the Geneabloggers blog. This is the first edition of this new Carnival, and there are six submittals on the topic.

* March 28: The Humor of It by Donna Pointkouski on footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed blog. Donna explains how all of the pictures of her family somehow came out somewhat skewed - to the point that whole persons, or only heads, were cut off. Funny.

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 - all bloggers appreciate feedback on what they write.

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

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here.

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 3: Adding a Child to a Family

I downloaded the free RootsMagic 4 beta release in early March, and easily uploaded my Family Tree Maker file to it. In this series, I'm looking at different features of RootsMagic 4. I'm not doing a comprehensive review, just looking at features important to me. Previous posts in this series include:

* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 1: Navigation
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 2: Editing Person Data

In this post, I am going to add a child to the Frank and Hattie (Hildreth) Seaver family. In the "Family" View, I can click on the row below the last child (it says "+Click to add child" in that row) and a popup box appears:

The box asks me if I want to Add NEW person or Select EXISTING person (already in the database but not connected to these parents). I clicked on "Add NEW person":

The "Add Person box appeared and I entered the child's name, birth date and birth place, and death year and death place to the box. When I typed the place name, the program provided all previous place name entries in my database that started with the typed letters (see above). There is a World icon to the right of the place names - if you click on it you get a list of all of the place names in the database, as shown below:

If you click on the "Online Map" button at the top of this place name box, you can see a Microsoft virtual Earth map of the location.

I selected the death place from the list, then clicked on the "OK" button on the "Add Person" box and saw:

This is the "Edit Person" box for the person just added. I could have added a Note, a Source or Media for this person in this box. I resisted that temptation. To add the person to the family, I clicked on the "Close" button and the child was added to the family:

You can see that Oh-My-God Seaver (1887-1887) has been added to the Frank and Hattie (Hildreth) Seaver family. That was really very easy to do. At some point, I need to figure out how to delete Oh-My-God from the family since s/he is a fictitious person. It should be easy!

The process to Add an unrelated person to the database is just as easy - the user can go to the "Add" menu item and select "Individual" from the drop-down menu and proceed to the "Add Person" menu.

In the next post, we'll start to look at the Report options.