Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Inspiration!

It's Saturday Night again, so it's time for some Genealogy Fun. Let's wax nostalgic for a minute.

Here's the question: What event or person inspired you to start your genealogy research?

Please write a blog post, or post a comment to this blog post, with your answer.

For me, it was twofold. Unlike many researchers, I did not read the book Roots by Alex Haley until about 1986. If I had known that I would find a lifelong interest like genealogy, I would have read it when it was first published, in what, 1977? Who knew!

My second inspiration was my aunts and uncle. There were all of the family stories floating around after we visited New England in 1982, and then my father died in 1983. I might say that his death was the catalyst for starting genealogy research, but the truth is I didn't start until 1988. But I thought about it some, and then when I finally read Roots it still took over a year to get going. But once I started, I haven't stopped and I think my aunts and uncle, and all my cousins, are glad that I have worked 21 years on it.

So I have a special spot in my brain for Alex Haley, and in my heart for Ed, Ruth, Marion, Evelyn and Gerry. And Dad too.

Ancestry Quirks - the missing Janes

A reader named Judy sent me a fascinating, and disturbing, Ancestry quirk. Usually, I can analyze them and explain how things happen, but this one is a real mystery to me. Here's the problem:

Judy knew that her Slone Janes resided in Sonoma County CA in the 1910 to 1930 time period, because she has census records and a World War 1 Draft Registration card for him. So it made sense to look for him in the California Voter Registrations 1900-1968 database on When she did, there were no matches for any surname "Janes" in the records. She tried the first name (since it is rather rare) and got no results, and eventually found her Slone Janes by going page-by-page through the Sonoma County listings - so she knows that he's there!

I said to myself "hey, that can't be right..." Wrong. I started my search in the home page search box, and input the exact last name = "Janes" and pressed Search (see screen 1 below):

The California Voter Registration database does not have a Janes indexed, so it is not listed in the Matches. Am I sure? No, so I went to the Card Catalog, got the California Voter Registration database on my screen, and input "Janes" in the surname field. The result was:

Nothing. Nada! Zero!! Were there no Janes who signed up to vote? At this point, I asked Judy to tell me what page he was on so I don't duplicate her tedious page-by-page search through hundreds of pages. Rather than answer my question, her reply said that she used the Keyword field on the Search form last night to find him again. The Keyword field? It takes names? Who knew? I didn't!

Ever the glutton for new search techniques, I input the surname "Janes" in the Keyword field on the Search form. Here's what I got:

There are 4,131 matches to the keyword "Janes." Are they all the surname of someone, or maybe a street name? I don't know. I'll put in "janes slone" (with quotes) in the Keyword field and see (I chose last name first because that was how all of the names were listed - alphabetical, last name first):

Hey -- four matches, all in Sonoma County between 1914 and 1922. But are these the right person? I clicked on one of them, and here's the page with the name of Slone Janes on it:

There he is, the 5th one down in the left column, a barber, resides at 135 Howard St. and a Republican.

Being the out-of-the-box thinker that I am, I decided to check some of the other persons on this page - maybe this page was skipped by the indexers for some reason. I picked Sine Jacobsen, Achille Kahn, Sidney Lehman and Leune Johnstone to see if they are indexed (becuase they have unusual names - surely the indexers can't mess up TYPED names!). The search for Sine Jacobsen, Achille Kahn and Sidney Lehman, using the first name and last name fields in the Search form, found them easily - they were indexed correctly and the pages are linked correctly. However, anyone searching for Leune Johnstone in Sonoma County using the name fields would be fooled into thinking he didn't register to vote. Like Slone Janes, he is easily found using the Keyword field.

I did not make this a senior project today - I didn't check out the 4,131 Janes entries from the Keyword field matches to see if they were first names, last names or street names (or something else - ah, I got it! James spelled wrong!!!). I'm guessing that they were mostly last names.

To verify that, I input "Janes" in the given name field and got 4,131 matches! That's the same number I got when I put "Janes" in the Keyword field. Wrong guess... I did a random sampling from the first 100 matches and only one out of ten had the last name Janes. The rest were James entries that were misspelled. By the way, there are 394,970 matches for first name = "James" and none for last name = "James."

Is this typical of the indexing for the California Voter Registration lists? Sadly, it is. It appears that the name boxes are just there to provide two names to search for. If I put "John" and "Seaver" in the two name fields, I get 58 matches (only some of which are a John Seaver), but if I put "seaver john" in the Keyword field, I get 17 matches of actual "John Seaver" persons. If I put "seaver" in the first name field, I get 0 matrches; I get 1,056 if I put "seaver" in the last name field; I get 1,056 matches if I put "seaver" in the Keyword field. Now that is different from the Janes entries, isn't it? Somethings not right in Provo!

Many researchers have noticed the quirk in the name indexing for this database - it finds pages containing the first name and the last name, but not necessary persons named "First Last."

My reader found one way around this for this database - use the Last name first in the Keyword field and put the name in quotes. More good news - wild cards work in the Keyword field with quotes - e.g. "Seav* Joh*" found 52 matches, including John Seavers and other matches.

My advice is to search using only the Keyword field, and if you are searching for a known person use last name first then first name and put quotes around them, and use wild cards if necessary. At least until fixes the indexing.
Judy's last line in her email to me said "It really makes me wonder what I'm missing on my quest to find other family members." Amen! Many of us wonder the same thing about the online genealogy databases.

Thank you, Judy, for an interesting exercise. I know that quirks like this are frustrating for users.

At the NGS Conference yesterday, said that they were spending money to fix databases with missing content, erroneous indexing and/or wrong links. I hope that Ancestry will move this database to the top of the list to be indexed accurately and completely. All of us California researchers will appreciate it!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Taking Genealogy to the Community

About 20 CVGS members and family attended a very nice program meeting, luncheon and guided facility tour at Fredericka Manor in Chula Vista on Tuesday, 12 May from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event was hosted by Betsy Keller, Marketing Manager of Fredericka Manor, which is a senior retirement community in downtown Chula Vista.

The idea was for CVGS to introduce Fredericka residents to starting genealogy and family history research and the genealogy society, and for Fredericka Manor to introduce their facility and services to CVGS members. It may be the start of a symbiosis relationship! About 25 CVGS members and family attended, and about 40 Fredericka Manor residents attended the program.

The program meeting started with a sign-in, a snack and drink. Betsy Keller welcomed everybody and held the first 15 door prize drawings. Gary Brock, President of CVGS, summarized the CVGS activities and introduced some of the members in attendance. Pam Journey of the San Diego Genealogical Society gave a wonderful lecture on Beginning Genealogy Research, with a six page handout that included a pedigree chart and family group sheet. Besides talking about "how-to-start-your-genealogy," she addressed why people do family history research and the family, educational and social benefits of it. After the talk, there were more door prize drawings.

Then it was off to lunch in the Fredericka Manor dining room, hosted by staff people who answered questions and made sure that everyone at their table was well fed. The menu was salad, spaghetti with meat sauce, vegetables, garlic bread, and bread pudding and/or ice cream.

After lunch, we were shown six different living accommodations in the facility from a one room studio to a 1,500 square foot two-bedroom detached house. Some of the units are detached on the property, and some are in the seven-story tower building. The tour lasted about 30 minutes and was very well done.

We were quite pleased with the event, and hope that some of the Fredericka attendees will come to our society meetings. We already have several residents in our society.

This event pointed out to me that meetings with community groups and businesses can have mutual benefits. CVGS can provide speakers at social, church and service clubs, and businesses, like Fredericka Manor, could partner with CVGS to the mutual benefit of both.

It struck me that this was (old-fashioned) social networking at its best!

Everton's Genealogical Helper has a new owner?

Good news sure travels slowly sometimes. After I wrote Everton's Genealogical Helper goes Quarterly on 20 February, I heard some rumors about the possible closing down or sale of Everton's Genealogical Helper magazine and was wondering what was happening. Would we see it continue, or be a victim of the recession?

My first inkling that something was amiss was a note I received on one of my blog posts to the effect that "I called Everton's and the person that answered was in the office next door and that the Everton's office was closed." I didn't think a lot about it - hmmm.

Today I read Arlene H. Eakle's Genealogy Blog post titled Genealogy Preservation–An Ongoing Need and saw the news that came from the Logan (Utah) Family History Expo last weekend:

"Everton’s Genealogical Helper is now under new management–with Leland Meitzler as editor of the magazine. And the Everton Library, boxed up and stored away last year until a new location could be found for it, will soon be available for public use."


"Things got rocky last year and into 2009: with both the Genealogical Helper and the GenealogyBlog. So the best discovery of all, at the Logan (Utah) Family History Expo 9 May 2009, was the NEWS that the magazine had a new owner (who is both a business man and a working genealogist) and that Leland had agreed to continue as editor of the Helper."

This is really GOOD news, in my opinion (notwithstanding my subscription hasn't run out quite yet!), for the genealogy community at large and (I hope) for Leland and his band of excellent writers. The Everton's Genealogical Helper is different from other genealogy magazines - more pages, more advertising, more topical articles, more queries, and more book reviews, among other things. Even as a quarterly, it is something to look forward to!

Did I miss a press release (I don't get many, it seems!)? I don't recall seeing a blog post, a tweet or a Facebook status report from the Logan conference. I knew that Leland had a flood at his home and it took over a week to get that taken care of and get him off to Raleigh. Maybe when the dust settles for Leland he will give us the information about the Helper and his editorship.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

News from the NGS Shindig

I've been surprised by the lack of "news conference" items coming from the National Genealogical Society Conference in Raleigh NC this week. Usually, "big" announcements are made the first day or two of the conference. My hope was that would open up the site, but it is still not available to regular folks like you and me.

Dick Eastman is at the NGS Conference but has made very few posts and written nothing about the conference yet (as of 9 p.m. PDT on 14 May).

Amy Coffin is the only genea-blogger (the We Tree blog) who has written more than one report of her conference experiences. Her posts so far cover:

* NGS 2009 Conference Recap for May 12
* NGS 2009 Conference Recap for May 13
* NGS 2009 Conference Recap for May 14

It sounds like she is having a lot of fun and learning interesting and useful information and techniques.

My favorite DearMYRTLE is also posting daily summaries. Hers include:

* NGS Day One

There are several conference attendees twittering about their experiences, including:

* Amy Coffin (tweetname ACoffin) is twittering her sessions and social events using the hashtag #ngs09.

* Dean Richardson (tweetname hikari17) is twittering using the hashtag #ngs.
* Crista Cowan (tweetname CristaCowan) is twittering using the hashtag #ngs.
* ArcaLife (tweetname arcalife) is twittering using the hashtag #ngs.
* Anne Mitchell (tweetname giverofstars) is twittering using the hashtag #ngs.

The last four are exhibitors in the exhibit hall.

Did I miss anybody? Please shout out!

I know that many of my Facebook Friends are at the Conference, but most of them have not posted anything about it. Methinks they are having too good a time working, learning, eating and talking to find time to put on Facebook or Twitter.

That's it - very few people summarizing or broadcasting the events at NGS. I feel so left out of the loop! There's something really neat going on and I'm ...

Well, I'm having the time of my life with my grandsons this week - it's the NGS here in San Diego - the Nifty Grandsons Shindig meeting and I'm hosting it. Today we played baseball at 8 a.m., went miniature golfing and played air hockey at 10 a.m., out to lunch, home for naps, over to a friend's house to swim in her pool, played soccer, played tag, two rounds of Grandpa Monster, and more baseball tonight before bedtime. Sleepy boys, pooped grandpa. NGS day 1 is over here...

That's why you haven't heard much from me today. I probably won't have much posted until Sunday when the family goes up to Long Beach for the family day of the U.S. Marine unit.

CVGS Research Group Meeting Summary

We had our Chula Vista Genealogical Society Research Group meeting on Wednesday, with 10 persons contributing. There were some interesting problems.

Ann (a visitor) is doing research for a friend, and was looking for a McNabb born in about 1892 in Texas in the census records. She found him in the 1920 and 1930 census with his family, but couldn't find him in 1900 and 1910 with his parents. The group suggested trying different last name variations - McNabb, MacNabb, M'Nabb, Nabb, etc. And to use wild cards for both names, and birth year and birth place to narrow the search.

Mary has an interesting challenge - her mother was raised by her father, and Mary has looked for what happened to her mother's mother without much success. And she wants to know her grandmother's ancestry too. The grandmother's maiden name was Esther Fletcher, and after she left her first husband (mother of her mother, born in 1912 in Quebec) in Maine, she married a Sprague and a Marks and lived in Toronto, Ontario. The group suggested looking for an Ontario death record, obtaining a death certificate, finding an obituary, etc. One of the marriage records may provide a birth date and place and perhaps parents names.

Ruth had an interesting problem too - her great-grandfather, John C. Hayley born in 1872 in Tennessee, ran off from his family at age 14 when his step-father put him down a well (who could blame him for running off?). She thinks that John C.'s father was Johns W. Hayley (1829-1874) who died in Tennessee, and left no land or probate records. Her question had to do with the father of James W. Hayley - was it James W. Hayley who died in 1842 in Madison County, Tennessee? Ruth has James W.'s will and John W. is not mentioned. The group suggested looking for other Hayley's in the area in the 1840 time frame (census, land, probate, tax records) and pursuing records of John W.'s death (obituary, county history) which might provide clues to his parentage.

Dearl decided to clean up some of his older file folders, and found that he had many more records than he recalled from his early years of researching. There's a good lesson here for everybody - check your previous work before doing more on a family.

Marcia followed up on some of the ideas from the April seminar, and has found another Timothy Leahy descendant in Ireland and they are corresponding. In the mean time, she found her Corkery family in Iowa, and found cousins on the Internet along with some family trees. We recommended getting death records and obituaries for the siblings of her Corkery, and to check the county history books also.

Pam is still chasing her Benjamin Sherman in Connecticut. She's going to step back from finding new records and try to sort out what she already has before charging off for more new information. She's planning to find a book by Roy V. Sherman using Inter-Library Loan.

Gary wondered where he could find information about the history of La Vista Cemetery in National City for a Memorial Day project. We suggested the National city library's Local History Room which has the Star newspaper indexed in a card file and has many books and pictures about National City history.

John sent an email to one of Randy's blogger and Facebook Friends and received a packet of information about two North Carolina families, including land records and the will of a John Leeper in 1796. He was surprised that the wife's name was Elizabeth, and now wonders if he started with the wrong information from an online family tree. He really appreciated the results from the query!

Dick has a problem with Family Tree Maker 2009 - he downloaded the update and now cannot open the program. He will contact the FTM customer service to see what needs to be done. We assured him that his databases were fine, and he could uninstall and reinstall the program, or anything that FTM sends him, and use his database with it.

There wasn't much time for Randy, who briefly described how the War of 1812 pension file index is not name indexed on, and that he had found 15 databases like that on

Several people wanted to know about how to obtain the Social Security for a relative, and we pointed them to Rootsweb where they write the letter to the SSA for you.

The two hours seemed to fly by as we all wondered about the complexity of families, the things that happen in family life, and the fact that we may collect only 10 to 20 records that reflect just snapshots of a person's life over 60 to 80 years (perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 days).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CGSSD Meeting on Saturday - " 101"

Via email from CGSSD's Linda Hervig:

The Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego (CGSSD) meets on Saturday, May 16, 2009 from 9:00 am to noon.

9:00 - User groups for Family Tree Maker and RootsMagic; and Special Interest Group “DNA Genealogy”

10:00 - A break and refreshments

10:15 - Announcements followed by Program " 101" by Randy Seaver

Randy will enlighten his audience of the nooks and crannies of this thing called “Ancestry.” While most members use this subscription service, Randy will demonstrate features rarely seen before.

Randy is a native San Diegan, a graduate of San Diego State University, a retired aerospace engineer, a genealogist and a family guy. He has been active in the CGSSD for several years and is a past-president of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society. His ancestry is about 50% colonial New England (including Mayflower passengers, Massachusetts Bay Governors, and several of royal descent), with liberal portions of English, German and Dutch lines. Randy runs several blogs about his families and the southern California area. He is a contributing member of the Association of Graveyard Rabbits.

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.

Hmmm, I really set some high expectations with the talk description, didn't I? Never fear, I even have pictures! Of the nooks and crannies, I mean. Heh heh. And lots of screen shots looking into every link I could find on the web site. Then I deleted about half of them because the talk can be only 75 minutes long!

One of the problems with a talk like this is that new things happen all the time. What was new and interesting last month is now old news and something else is the latest and greatest. So I've been putting the program together last week and this week in hopes that nothing really major is announced at NGS this week (although I can add it quickly to the presentation if it does - isn't PowerPoint great?).

Another problem is that many people are just as experienced, or even more experienced, than I am on I expect to hear questions like "What about the flaw in this particular database?" and "How can you tout a for-profit web site?" and "Why should I subscribe?"

Did my commentary here raise or lower expectations? Heh heh. If you're in the San Diego area, come and listen! And if you're a Genea-Musings reader, please let me know after the program.

Family Photographs - Post 55:- The Matthias Loucks Family

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:

The note on the back of the photograph indicates that this photo was taken at Christmas 1916. The setting is the Austin and Della (Smith) Carringer house at 2105 30th Street in San Diego (from the palm tree and the porch decoration seen in other photographs in this collection).

The people in this photograph are members of the Matthis Loucks family that lived in Oregon in this time period. I think that the persons in the photograph are:

* Matthias (Tice) Loucks (1846-1918), a native of Canada, died in Los Angeles.

* Harriet (Vaux) Loucks (1849-1924), the daughter of James and Harriet (Taylor) Vaux, and the first cousin of Abigail (Vaux) Smith, the mother of Della (Smith) Carringer.

* I think that the man in the cap is Wano Glenn Loucks (1886-1945), son of Matthias and Harriet (Vaux) Loucks), but I'm not sure. It might be his brother, Warren Tice Loucks (1889-1965) or his brother-in-law, Dallas Stubbs, husband of Blanche (Loucks) Stubbs.

* I think that the young girl is either Blanch P. Stubbs (born 1903) or Maude Stubbs (born 1906), daughters of Dallas and Blanche (Loucks) Stubbs. It may also be Thelma Loucks (born 1909), daughter of Wano and Bessie (--?--) Loucks.

* I don't know who the young man is - he may be Paul Stubbs (born 1899), the son of Wano and Bessie (--?--) Loucks, but he looks too young to be age 17.

If someone descended from this Loucks family can identify these persons, I would appreciate it! I have several more group photos of them with some of the Smith and Carringer families.

Lookee here! - a Genea-Blogger map!

I was reading my Twitter list this morning and saw the re-tweet by GeneaBloggers (Thomas MacEntee) that said:

"geneabloggers RT @genseek: Look what I found! A cool map of recent genealogy blogging. #genealogy blog finder"

I clicked on the link, which went to Chris Dunham's Genealogy Blog Finder page and clicked on the Who's Blogging Where link and lookee what I saw:

The map shows which of the 1,348 genealogy blogs (the current number in the Blog Finder) have posted Today (red marker), Yesterday (Blue marker) or earlier (Yellow marker).

If you click on one of the markers, you can see which blog is located in that location.

The blog map is refreshed every 30 minutes or so! Great job, Chris!

SCGS Genealogy Jamboree news

Paula Hinkel posted this on some of the mailing lists yesterday...

The Southern California Genealogy Jamboree will be held Friday through Sunday, June 26 through 28, 2009, at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in Burbank, California.

Here's a reminder that the Early-Bird registration closes at the end of the day May 15, 2009. Don't miss out on this opportunity to save. And you definitely don't want to miss this conference! Registrations are running very strong and we expect a great turnout. The registration cost is one of the best bargains in genealogy today. Register online at and follow all the Jamboree details and updates at

This year's Jamboree features:

- focus on British Isles ancestry - England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales
- focus on DNA- ethnic courses for Eastern European, Italian, African American ancestors

Jamboree speakers include 60 top-notch professionals, including:

- David Rencher, AG, CG, FUGA, FIGRS, CGO of FamilySearch
- Andrew Wait, Sr. VP and General Manager,
- Tony Burroughs, FUGA
- Maureen A. Taylor
- Feargal O'Donnell from the Irish Family History Foundation
- Tukufu Zuberi, Ph.D., of the PBS series History Detectives
- Dozens and dozens of others - check the website!

Free sessions on Friday morning include:

- Tour of SCGS Research Library with transportation provided
- Beginning Genealogy
- Advanced Beginning Genealogy
- Genealogy Librarians' Boot Camp
- Family History Kids' Camp

Special events

- "Son of Blogger" - Blogger panel discussion with a star-studded panel
- Friday night banquet featuring Tukufu Zuberi, Ph.D., of the PBS series History Detectives
- Effective Society Management breakfast on Saturday
- "The Art of Mourning" Sunday morning
- Facebook Friends face-to-face get-together Saturday afternoon
- It's a Small World round-table discussions for research "across the pond"
- Saturday evening "Humor Among the Journal Pages" with David Rencher

Collaborations with several leading organizations including

- New England Historic Genealogical Society
- British Isles Family History Society - USA
- Creative Continuum
- Generation Maps
- National Genealogical Society
- Family Tree DNA
- World Vital Records
- California State Genealogical Alliance
- Salt Lake Plaza Hotel
- GenealogyBank

Register today!!! Don't miss this outstanding conference.

I sent my Jamboree registration in through the San Diego Genealogical Society which is sponsoring a train trip from San Diego up on Friday and back on Sunday to the Jamboree. We drove last year and missed all of the great conversation on the train!

While I am not on the Blogger panel this year, I will attend the Blogger Panel session and I urge all genea-bloggers at the Jamboree to attend, be supportive and ask questions of the panel (assuming they're brave enough to take questions!). I hope that the panel asks all genea-bloggers in attendance to identify themselves and their blogs. If you are there, please stick around afterwards so that we can get a group picture of the biggest meetup of genea-bloggers so far. We had about 15 last year all in one place, but not everyone was in the picture. The big question I have is "will we have to modify the face of The Ancestry Insider to keep him anonymous?"

I noticed that there is a Facebook Friends meetup scheduled for Saturday afternoon - cool! That may double as a genea-blogger meetup since many genea-bloggers are also on Facebook.

UPDATED: In a comment, Paula noted that "One of the primary reasons for registering early is to get a FREE copy of the 400-page printed syllabus as well as a CD version. Those who register after May 15 will receive only the CD for free, and can buy the printed syllabus for $15 while quantities last."

Thanks, Paula!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Using - Post 2

I took a look at the other day - see Using - Post 1.

I wanted to do a surname search to see if there are Lanphear/Lamphere/etc. resources that I've missed in my search for the parents of Devier J. Lamphear alias Smith. I put the "Lanphear" surname in the Search box on the LiveRoots Search page:

I clicked on "Search" and received some Surname Results, some Resource Results, including some Partner site results (two screens):

I was interested in what was found on the Family History Library Catalog site, so I clicked on that link:

I was also interested in the Genealogy Bank results:

And I was interested in the World Vital Records results:

There are some really neat things about the web site:

1) It is really easy to use - put a name or keyword in the box and click Search.

2) The Searches are really fast - this search took 0.6 seconds to work, although it did not provide a link to every bit of information about the search term in the partner sites. I like FAST!

3) This search engine is getting to be an excellent one-stop shop for researchers needing to look at many web sites for an elusive surname or keyword.

What would I like it to have? I'd like it to search for a given name and a surname, and I'd like it to use wild cards. I don't want much, eh? My guess is that such a request would slow the process down quite a bit, but it would sure be useful, and helpful.

I complained back in January that surname results from did not show up in the list of resources found by LiveRoots. It still doesn't, even though LiveRoots has links to the Rootsweb databases (found by searching for "Rootsweb Records").

Because results for at least one significant web site doesn't show up in the list, I have no idea if results from other web sites also don't show up.

The Major Collections are listed here. It would be good if the date they were added to the site search capability was available so that a user could see what s/he might havem issed before.

Ancestry Quirks - Arkansas Database Content Errors

I received an email from Ben Walker, who commented that the Arkansas Marriages, 1933-1939 database on has a problem with missing images and erroneous page numbers of results.

Ben was looking for McElfresh marriages, and when he input the name in the Search box for the database:

Six results appear - three males and three females:

When you click on one of the males, and then click on the record image, you get page 194 of 488:

This page does not have McElfresh on it. It starts with the MURPEY surname and ends with the MURPHY surname.

I did a little sleuthing and found that the "M" surname pages on the site include:

* page 1 - starts with MAAS
* page 107 - has MAULDIN as the last name on the page
* page 108 - has MOORE as the first name on the page
* page 213 - has MZRTINA as the last name on the page
* page 214 - has MCGLOTHIN as the first name on the page
* page 275 - has MEIERS as the last name on the page
* pages 276-488 - the "Error Processing Request" message comes up.

Looking at the information above, it's apparent to me that there are pages missing between MAULDIN and MCGLOTHIN and between MEIERS and MOORE. In addition, the pages have been scrambled somehow.

Further testing showed that the indexes are probably correct - for instance, McElfresh is probably on Page 194 IF the page images were complete and in alphabetical order.

I sent a "Report an Image Problem" to, but it doesn't permit a written comment - I could only choose "unreadable," "wrong" or "missing" image. Frankly, some of them are unreadable, some of them are wrong, and many of them are missing in this database, at least in the "M" pages. I could only choose one, so I chose "Missing image."

This is not an Indexing or Search problem - the problem is the Content - the images are incomplete and out of order. Perhaps the Content people at will see this blog post and take steps to correct the problems.

German court upholds ban on lengthy last names

Today's San Diego Union-Tribune has an interesting article titled "German high court upholds ban on lengthy last names" by the New York Times News Service. Key graphs include:

Germany takes a highly regimented approach to naming. Children's names must be approved by local authorities, and there is a reference work, the “International Handbook of Forenames,” to guide them.

Juergen Udolph, a University of Leipzig professor and head of the information center there that provides certificates of approval for names that have not yet made the official list, said that “the state has a responsibility to protect people from idiotic forenames.”

The most notable case that tested the law was:

The Constitutional Court ruled in 2004 to limit the number of forenames a child could have, capping at five the number a mother could give her son – to whom she had attempted to bequeath the 12-part “Chenekwahow Tecumseh Migiskau Kioma Ernesto Inti Prithibi Pathar Chajara Majim Henriko Alessandro” – to protect the child.

Interesting, isn't it?

Is this the reason that this fellow emigrated from Germany (according to this site)?

(First and "middle" names)
Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvim John Kenneth Loyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor Willian Xerxes Yancy Zeus
(Last name)Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorffvoralternwarengewissenhaftschafer-swesenchafewarenwholgepflegeundsorgfaltigkeitbeschutzenvonangereifen-duchihrraubgiriigfeindewelchevorralternzwolftausendjahresvorandieer-scheinenbanderersteerdeemmeshedrraumschiffgebrauchlichtalsseinursprung-vonkraftgestartseinlangefahrthinzwischensternartigraumaufdersuchenach-diesternwelshegehabtbewohnbarplanetenkreisedrehensichundwohinder-neurassevanverstandigmenshlichkeittkonntevortpflanzenundsicherfreunan-lebenslamdlichfreudeundruhemitnichteinfurchtvorangreifenvonander-erintlligentgeschopfsvonhinzwischensternartigraum

I have two thoughts about the long name above:

* Who would name their child something like that? The "Senior" implies that there is a child named that also.

* How did the kid ever remember all of it? Especially "Irvim" and "Yancy?"

I wonder if this is a real name? It is not on the US Passport 1795-1925 files on

Monday, May 11, 2009 has GEDCOM capability now

I received an intriguing email today from - it said:

"Good news for your fingertips... No more typing – just upload your GEDCOM data!Mapping and sharing your family history is now even easier with our new GEDCOM upload facility. Upload your data, confirm its location, and you’re done."

I described my trials and travails at in my posts Ancestral Atlas: Post 1 - First Look, Ancestral Atlas - Post 2: Events and People, and Ancestral Atlas Help offered in early March, and recommended at that time that a GEDCOM upload was required.

So I tried it again today after receiving the email. I remembered my username and password, so logging in was easy, and the user home page looks like this:

The five people that I entered with some difficulty back in March are listed on the left margin. There is a button to "Upload GEDCOM" in the top menu row, so I clicked on it:

The upload box says "We currently only allow one GEDCOM file to be loaded into your profile at one time."

I found the 23,000 person GEDCOM file in my computer files, and clicked on the "Upload Now" button. After 3.5 minutes, the system told me that there was an error and my GEDCOM wasn't uploaded.

I'm guessing that the file was too large (8.6 mb), but the system gave me no clue.

Being somewhat resourceful, I have a GEDCOM file of my last eight generations of ancestors that I used for some time ago so I tried that (3,120 persons, only 1.3 mb), and after about 15 seconds it worked.

The box says: "Your GEDCOM file has been uploaded successfully, and is queued for processing. We will send you an email as soon as your data has been loaded into Ancestral Atlas."

That's encouraging to hear, I guess. When it is loaded, I will come back and see what it looks like.

This application has a good future, I think, if it can be made user friendly and informative. I'm curious to see what other information it provides besides the maps.

Using - Post 1

I visited in early January in my post Checking in on The site continues to add more resources that it accesses in response to search criteria.

Using a Search Engine like can serve as a "one-stop shop" for busy genealogists, but only if the "one-stop shop" has access to a large variety of resources. My judgment is that LiveRoots reached the critical mass of accessed databases some time ago.

In my opinion, it has become a "must-use" site for persons seeking surname and locality information. I thought that I would demonstrate how I use the site.

Here is the home page screen:

There are links on the home page for Search, Discover, and Learn More. The Learn More link provides the Getting Started page with useful information about how to use the site:

The Discover link provides a list of Recent Discoveries - that is information that has recently been added to the LiveRoots content list:

The Search link provides a Search box for surnames or keywords. The site says: "... will access two key resources: the Live Roots catalog and the Live Roots index. The results we be presented under the headings Surname Results and Resource Results. "

In the next post, I will do a surname search.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Best of the Genea-Blogs - May 3-9, 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 Attracted Our Ancestors to the New World by Dick Eastman on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter blog. Dick has a wealth of experience and knowledge and I appreciate it when he writes original work like this for his readers.

* Browning v. Beck, Pt. 2 - Another Charge Is Added by Patti Browning on the Consanguinity blog. What an interesting case! Patti takes us through some court records that talk about Trespass on the Case. Good sleuthing here!

* More Genealogy Research Aids by Lee Drew on the FamHist blog. Lee has some useful technology tips about Google News Timeline and using Google Earth to create fly-throughs of historical sites.

* Graveyard Rabbits Carnival - May 2009 by Julie Cahill Tarr on The Graveyard Rabbit blog. There are five entries in this monthly carnival with the theme of cemetery preservation.

* Scanning My Women Wearing Glasses And What I've Learned by footnoteMaven on the Shades of the Departed blog. fM has excellent advice for scanners of photographs - read the list and follow it!

* (TGN) Town Hall Webinar - From My Viewpoint - May 2009 by M. Diane Rogers on the CanadaGenealogy, or "Jane's Your Aunt" blog. Diane sat in on the webinar this past week and comments on it. Perceptive, they seem spot on. Good job!

* New site features coming to by the writer of The Ancestry Insider blog. Mr. AI also attended the webinar and snagged some screen shots of several of the new features, including the new People Pages.

* Family Reaction to Genealogy by Tina Sansone on the Gtownma Genealogy blog. Tina has an interesting take on the subject - good discussion and photos too.

* Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009, Part 2: Consulting with the Experts by Denise on The Family Curator blog. Denise's second report about her NEHGS visit describes her consultations with resident experts at NEHGS. This event is on my genealogy "bucket" list!

* I'm baking for the Sale at Itawamba Historical Society by Terry Thornton on the Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi blog. Terry shares his bread baking secrets with the rest of the drooling world in a series of posts complete with pictures of each stage of the process. I wish I could smell and taste the results!

* United States Veteran Burial Places by Gena Philibert Ortega on the Gena's Genealogy blog. Gena provides descriptions and links to military veteran burial places.

* The Census Explained by Craig Manson on the Geneablogie blog. Craig posts a newspaper article about census taking for the 1890 census. Good catch! Fascinating!

* What Family History Terms Are People Searching For? by Sean Sexton on the Sean on Family History blog. Sean has a bit of fun with the "type ahead" feature on Google. Try it - interesting.

* Genealogy Questions Answered in 6 Minutes by Dan Lawyer on the Taking Genealogy to the Common Person blog. Dan uses Twitter and Facebook to get a genealogy question answered quickly. This demonstrates the power of online social networking.

* World's Oldest Mom, age 110 - over 1,000 descendants by Tom Kemp on the GenealogyBank - The Official Blog. Tom finds a newspaper article from 1915 that tells of this Louisiana woman married at age 13 with over 1,000 descendants. Amazing story. I'll bet she couldn't remember the names of all those descendants. Can you imagine how many cards she would have to send out every week?

* Happy Mother's Day! ~ Before I was a Mom by Cheryl Fleming Palmer on the Heritage Happens blog. Cheryl's post is the best Mother's Day ode to motherhood I've read this week. Thanks for sharing, Cheryl!

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.

Happy Mother's Day!!

To all the mothers I know, have known and will know in the future - a virtual bouquet:

There's a vase with red roses, just like this one, on our kitchen counter for the mother of my daughters and she will be treated to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

Our two daughters are "chips off the beautiful block" and are wonderful mothers to their children. The acorns don't fall far from the tree, I think!

My mother was so good - I wrote about her two years ago on Mother's Day in My Tribute to Mom - Betty Virginia (Carringer) Seaver.

I've been really blessed in my life.