Saturday, July 4, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Fourth of July Memories

It's Saturday Night on the Fourth of July - let's have some Genealogy Fun! If you're reading this on Sunday morning, or even later, it's not too late for you to participate.

Here is the assignment for tonight:

1. Think of the best Fourth of July you remember from your childhood.

2. Think of the best fourth of July you remember from your adulthood.

3. What did you do today?

4. Write about one, or all, of them on your blog or in Comments to this post.

Here's mine:

1. The best memory I have from my childhood was going over to my father's cousin's house and playing with sparklers and watching firecrackers go off. San Diego County was, and still is, a firecracker free county (but many break the law, of course). My father's cousin's husband, Chuck (we always called him just "Chuck," but his real name was Marshall Beal Chamberlain) bought firecrackers and sparklers from Tijuana (or from someone who snuck them up from Tijuana). And my brother and I got to wave the sparklers around. Chuck and his buddies would shoot off the firecrackers in their enclosed patio and yard. This may not sound like a big deal to you, but it was "forbidden fruit" in the 1950's for this San Diego boy.

The other memory I have is going to my grandparents house on Point Loma and driving along Rosecrans Street in their 1950 Hudson with fireworks going off overhead. I never liked being real close to the booms and these were a little too close.

2) As an adult, we often went to Coronado Beach on the 4th of July, sometimes with the girls softball team or the girls Brownie/Girl Scout troop. For several years, the team and coaches (I was the coach, Linda the manager) rode in an open truck in the Coronado 4th of July Parade down Orange Avenue. One year at the beach it was really cold - like 65 F and the wind blowing the sand in the afternoon. We never shed our outer clothes and never saw the sun that day. These beach outings usually ended with a fire in the concrete rings cooking S'mores.

3) We're off to the Padres-Dodgers game at 1:10 p.m. at Petco Park today. After that, we'll go to our church where there is a traditional picnic on the patio with lots to eat, games for the kids, enough shade for the sensitive, and fireworks in the evening from the adjacent San Diego Country Club. We always have front row seats! If we're lucky, Tami and her family will come for the game and picnic, but maybe not the fireworks, since it will be past Lolo and Audder's bedtime.

My Revolutionary Roots

I wanted to post my list of Revolutionary War soldiers in order to honor them for their service:

* Martin Carringer (1758-1835) of Mercer County PA (RevWar Pension file)

* Jacob Philip Row (1752-1817) of Hunterdon County NJ (RevWar Pension File)

* Peter Putman (1760-1835) of Hunterdson County NJ and Yates County NY (RevWar Pension file)

* Stephen Feather (17??-1804) of Middlesex County NJ and Westmoreland County PA

* Rudolf Spengler (1738-1811) of York County PA

* Philip Jacob King (1738-1792) of York County PA

* Burgess Metcalf (1741-1816) of Piermont, Grafton County, NH

* Isaac Buck (1757-1846) of Lancaster and Sterling, Worcester County, MA (RevWar Pension File)

* Thomas Dill (1755-1830) of Eastham, Barnstable County, MA (RevWar Pension File)

* Joseph Champlin (1758-1850) of South Kingstown, Washington County, RI (RevWar Pension File)

* Norman Seaver (1734-1787) of Westminster, Worcester County, MA

* Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816) of Westminster, Worcester County, MA

* Zachariah Hildreth (1728-1784) of Westford, Middlesex County, MA

* Zachariah Hildreth (1754-1828) of Townsend, Middlesex County, MA

* Amos Plimpton (1735-1808) of Medfield, Norfolk County, MA

* David Kirby (1740-1832) of Westport, Bristol County, MA

* Joseph Oatley (1756-1815) of South Kingstown, Washington County, RI.

Amazingly, each of them survived their wartime experiences.

I thank God for these men, the families that nurtured them, the wives that supported them, and the children who learned from them the importance of service to their country.

I continue to pray for the health and safety of all of our armed forces personnel, for the wisdom and perseverance of our leaders, and for the patience and understanding of our citizens as we continue the battle to keep America safe and free.

May God continue to bless the United States of America.

Happy Fourth of July

Eleven score and thirteen years ago our forefathers brought forth a new's our BIRTHDAY!!

What a magnificent work that Thomas Jefferson penned ... see the text here.

And the Trumbull painting of the signing...

Thank you, gentlemen. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Freedom is so precious. May our leaders be wise enough to preserve it, and may our citizens be brave enough to defend it.

For the Seaver folks in Chula Vista, today will be a day in the sun. We go to the Padres-Dodgers game at 1:10 p.m. and then to church for a picnic with friends capped by the fireworks display at 8:30 p.m. over the Country Club grounds - less than a quarter mile away. Big booms. My daughter and her family, including Lolo and Audder, will probably make it down for the game and picnic, but I'm not sure about the fireworks.

Genealogy will continue on Sunday!

Friday, July 3, 2009

New Look for Family Trees - Post 1

I noticed yesterday that had made their "new look" permanent in their Member Family Trees. See A New Look for Ancestry Member Trees on the blog for details of what they did - and read the comments from users too. Not everyone is happy about this - the "I hate every change" factor is alive and well!

I like the look and feel of this family tree better than I liked the previous version. says that it is faster - and I think it probably is (although I have no metrics for it), and am glad for that. Is it "fast enough?" Nothing is ever "fast enough," I fear!

Coincidentally, I uploaded a new "Ancestry of Randy Seaver" family tree yesterday with all of my updated information - names, facts, sources, etc. I then deleted my earlier family tree of the same name on which I had attached some images and records. So, my updated tree has no images or records attached to it at present.

I'm going to go exploring in my "new look" Family Tree and see if I can find things I like and want improved. When I click the "Family Trees" tab on the home page, and then click on the "Ancestors of Randy Seaver" family tree link, I get this summary page:

It tells me my "Recent Activity" - photos, stories, videos, audio, and comments. I haven't added any yet. On the right side is a small table with the number of People, People with Hints, Photos, Stories, Video, Audio and Records in my tree. That is interesting, but I really want to see my Family Tree.

I clicked the "Family Tree" tab to the left of the "Recent Activity" tab, and saw a Pedigree Chart in the "Pedigree View":

This chart lists the spouse and children of the #1 person on the chart, and the names, birth year and death year of the other persons on the chart. The little green "leafs" on the right side of each person's box are the "Hints" that has found for your person.

The user can move to the next generation by clicking on one of the children of the #1 person, and can move to an earlier generation by clicking on one of the arrows on the rightmost generation.

There are two other Tabs in the main "Family Tree" tab - one for "Family" and one for "Family Group Sheet." I clicked on the "Family" tab and saw an all-in-one chart for two generations of ancestors and descendants:

This chart has buttons to move up, down, right or left in the chart, and to zoom in or out, similar to Google Maps.

I clicked on the "Family Group Sheet" tab and saw this view (two screens):

If I had thumbnail photos of each person in my online family tree, they would show up on this family group sheet. The chart itself is pretty standard - names, dates and places, but not names of the spouses of the children or their marriage date.

There are links to "Add Another Spouse," "Add a Child" and "Add a New Life Event" to the "Family Group Sheet" page. Sheet.

I wanted to navigate to the "Person Page" for Frederick Walton Seaver, and was confused - there was no link for the person's name - I wonder why? Then I noticed the four small icons to the right of the parent's names - for Ancestry Hints, for the Person Profile, for a Quick Edit, and for Search Historical Documents. There is a fifth one for the spouse - for Make Focus Person. Using the Person Profile icon appears to be the only way to navigate to a Person Page for the parents, other than to go back to the "Pedigree View" tab and click on the Person and the "View Profile" link. Clicking on any person on the Family Group Sheet takes you to their own Family Group Sheet, not to a Person Page. I also found that the "Add a New Life Event" link takes you to the "Person Page" for the selected person in the Family Group.

Navigation on the "Family Tree" tab could be better - I would prefer a "View Profile" link for each person on the Family Group Sheet view.

I wanted to make a printout of the Pedigree Chart and the Family Group Sheet. I didn't see any links, so I went to File > Print Preview > Print to get printouts. The Pedigree Chart looks best in a landscape format, but the print is very small and includes only the name, birth year and death year. The Family Group Sheet should be done in Portrait mode. In both charts, the font size is very small - almost unreadable for my old eyes. This feature needs to be greatly improved in order to make it useful to genealogists.

Aha! There is a blocky person icon on the right of the Pedigree View (but not the Family Group Sheet view) menu bar (white on green background) to create a "Printer Friendly" pedigree chart. It looks better, and includes the birth, marriage and death dates, but includes only the state, not the town and county, for the birth, marriage and death events.

In the next post, we'll look at the features on the "Person Page" and how to navigate around in it.

Facebook/Twitter Meetup at SCGS Jamboree

Okay, I'm just about done with my SCGS Jamboree photographs. Frankly, I wish that I had more to last the weekend as blog fodder (since my granddaughters are coming to visit).

During Jamboree, there was a Facebook and Twitter face-to-face meeting scheduled at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Naturally, many geneabloggers, blog-readers, Facebook Friends and Twitter tweeters dropped by, and I managed to take some pictures:

1) Madaleine Laird greeted me and said that she was a devoted GeneaMusings reader and thought that she might start a blog. Cool, I said - jump in! Here's Madaleine with "Rock Star" Amy Coffin from Houston (Amy brought the "Rock Star" ribbons that all of the geneabloggers wore - people asked about that! Wondered what band we were in - we said Geneabloggers... hmm, nobody ever heard of that group):

2) Somehow, Janet Hovorka and Kathryn Doyle managed to find an empty table for a heart-to-heart talk about fellow rock stars (I wonder what they were really talking about! Probably Kathryn's chart.):

3) Here is the only picture I have of my CVGS and SDGS colleagues from the weekend. The people I know are Jackie MacMaster (standing in white, on the left, SDGS member), Shirley Becker (sitting, back to camera, talking to Jackie, CVGS member), Susi Pentico (sitting, in red, CVGS member), and Pam Journey (standing, in lavender, SDGS member), and Bruce Buzbee (RootsMagic guru, not an SDGS/CVGS member, but many of us love his program! Pam leads the RootsMagic SIGs at SDGS and CGSSD):

4) The irrepressible (and I use this word totally accurately) Susan Kitchens brought wine and cheese to the FB/T meetup and shared it with the, um, group. Susan is the one on the left holding the cheese plate, Denise Levenick is grinning madly (how many glasses of wine?), and footnoteMaven is showing the empty wine bottle label:

5) In a quieter moment, before the wine and cheese was passed around, here are (from the left) Bruce Buzbee, Drew Smith and Thomas MacEntee trying to contain their glee at being at the FB/T meetup. Or they're tired out from two days of vendoring, talking, shopping, etc.:

I think that is all of my photographs. Other bloggers are posting theirs and I hope that someone will put together a summary post for all Jamboree blog posts.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Online Family Trees - Post 1: What I Want

After writing the Genealogy in the Cloud piece about how the "future of genealogy" is in using online databases, and not in desktop genealogy family tree software, I wrote What I Want in a Family Tree Program fully intending that it apply to both local computer software and online platforms.

What I did not mention in my "wants" and "needs" for online family trees was:

* If I make a change to my local software program - whether it be a name, date, place, relationship, image, note, source, etc., I want to be able to upload it to my online family tree also so that the two are synchronized (have exactly the same information).

* If I make a change to my online family tree - whether it be a name, place, relationship, image, note, source, etc., I want to be able to download it to my local software program so that the two are synchronized (have exactly the same information).

* I want both the local software program and the online family tree to have approximately the same navigation features, and to be able to move quickly within the database. By "quickly" I mean almost instantaneously - less than one or two seconds to jump from one person to another in the pedigree chart or the tree name index.

* I want the online family tree to be able to capture record images from any website (e.g., Ancestry, Footnote, FamilySearch, WorldVitalRecords, FindMyPast, Rootsweb, etc.) and attach it to a person in my online family tree.

* I want the online family tree to be able to capture the standard source citation for any record on any database and insert it into my online family tree.

* I want to be able to "copy-and-paste" text from a document on my local computer or from an Internet website into the Notes field in the online family tree.

* I want both the online family tree to be able to create, save and print out essentially the same types of reports with basic formatting options. My preference is that the online family tree program will create RTF, HTML and PDF reports similar to those in Family Tree Maker 2009, Legacy Family Tree 7, and RootsMagic 4.

* I want the online family tree to be able to create, save and print out essentially the same types of charts with basic formatting options. My preference is that the online family tree program will create pedigree, family group sheet, all-in-one, bow-tie, fan, wall and other charts similar to those in Family Tree Maker 2009, Legacy Family Tree 7, and RootsMagic 4.

* I want online family trees to be collaborative, so that other researchers can add to or edit my work, subject to some sort of privacy filter and approval process. This "want" conflicts with the first two "wants," I fear!

* I want the online family trees to be on the Internet forever ... not subject to the marketplace, hosting services, or death of the tree creator.

* I want access to the online family trees to be free to search by anybody.

Whew! I don't want much, do I? And some of those "wants" may conflict with others of the "wants." And with the "wants" of the online family tree providers. But hey - we're talking about "genealogy in the cloud" here...

Actually, all of those "wants" are essentially what I, and everybody else with genealogy software, has in the current crop of genealogy software programs. I'm using Family Tree Maker 2009, Legacy Family Tree 7 and RootsMagic 4 (and I know that there are other programs, but I don't have those other programs). They are my current standards of family tree excellence. However, they are not perfect - each can be improved, and probably will be improved over time.

Why should I accept anything less than what I have in an online family tree program? I shouldn't, and I won't. The minimum standard has to be the current crop local genealogy software programs, not the current crop of online family tree websites.

So the challenge is for the suppliers of online family trees to make their offerings so attractive and so capable that people will flock to their website and make the tree suppliers rich, or at least famous, and their customers happy.

So which family tree systems should I consider? The obvious answers include:

* FamilySearch Family Tree

And any other sites! What other online family tree website should I pursue here? Which one currently provides the most capability and meets my "wants" best?

I have a tree on almost every one of the listed websites (not FS Family Tree or OneGreatFamily - yet!). It is difficult to keep up with them all in any organized way.

What else do you want in an online family tree system? Tell me, tell the providers. That's what we're all here for.

What really happened at Jamboree? Elizabeth tells all!

I thought that I was done with SCGS Jamboree posts, but I can't help myself from posting this:

Quick - click over to Little Bytes of Life, Elizabeth O'Neal's genealogy blog, and read her posts about the Jamboree, including:

* JAMSTOCK '09: Massive Recycling Effort Underway at the Burbank Marriott
* JAMSTOCK 09: Exclusive Video of the Geneabloggers Dinner

* JAMSTOCK '09: What REALLY Happened at the Geneablogger Dinner

* JAMSTOCK '09: Son of Blogger Jamfest Rocks the Marriott


* JAMSTOCK '09: Genealogists Stage Sit-In

* JAMSTOCK '09: Let the Love Begin!

Elizabeth's stories are revealing and, um, creative... and funny as hell. Go read them for the pictures and the laughs. Well done, Elizabeth!

UPDATED 9 p.m.: Added two more posts - Elizabeth is on a roll here! This series will be difficult to top.

Checking out the SCGS Jamboree Exhibits - Post 2

There were many exhibitors at the SCGS Jamboree at the Burbank airport Hotel and convention Center last weekend. I took some pictures of some of them. Part 1 is here. Here is my second installment:

1) I stopped by the display on Friday afternoon and met Tony Macklin, who I've talked to on the telephone a few times:

2) I had made arrangements with Lisa Louise Cooke to do an interview for her Genealogy Gems podcast on Friday afternoon, and her daughter Lacey took this picture afterwards:

Kiril Kundurazieff (the Mad Macedonian) has a funny story on his blog about coming by Lisa's exhibit while doing the interview, and a good picture of the three of us. I will let you know when, or maybe if, the podcast is available from Lisa's pod- and video-cast empire.

3) Here's another picture of the Family Roots Publishing table showing Patty and Leland Meitzler frantically selling books.

4) The Generation Maps exhibit was one of the busier places. Kim and Janet Hovorka kept their chart printer real busy! Here's the lovely Janet posing in front of their display:

You can see a picture of Janet and I posing with the 8-generation pedigree chart that she printed out for me here. I'm trying to create "head shot" photos for as many ancestors as possible so that I can have Generation Maps create a really nice wall chart. It won't be 60+ feet of course. I'm thinking more of a fan chart with 10 generations. One for me, one for my wife. We can probably wallpaper several rooms with them!

That is all of the usable pictures I have from the exhibit area. Seriously, I meant to take a lot more, but talking to people seemed to be more important than taking their picture.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Isaac Buck - Revolutionary War Soldier

One of my favorite ancestors is Isaac Buck (1757-1846). Not only did he live a long time, but he overcame trials and hardships, and he served in the Revolutionary War for the duration of the conflict.

His service in the Revolutionary War in both the Massachusetts Line and the Continental Line is summarized by this:

"During the Revolutionary War in 1775, young Isaac Buck was in Captain Benjamin Hastings company of Bolton, Colonel Asa Whitcomb's regiment. He was matross in Captain James Swan's company, Colonel James Craft's regiment, in 1776. A "matross" was a private in the army who aided the artillery gunners to load, fire and sponge the guns. He was also in Captain Philip Marett's company in 1776-1777. He was in the Continental Army in Captain John Houghton's company, Colonel Josiah Whitney's regiment in 1778, and was in Captain Redding's company, Colonel Gamaliel Bradford's regiment in 1777. In 1780 and 1781, he was in Captain Thomas Jackson's company, Colonel John Crane's Third Artillery regiment."

Another significant record of his life accomplishments is in his application for a Revolutionary War Pension. The Pension file (S34136) for Isaac Buck contains affidavits attesting to his war service and the circumstances of Isaac Buck life. He applied for a Pension in April 1818, and received it in 1820. It includes:

"I, Isaac Buck, a citizen of the United States, now resident at Sterling in the County of Worcester in the State aforesaid, do on oath testify and declare that in the War of the Revolution in the month of December in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy nine, I entered and engaged in the land service of the United States on the continental establishment, and served accordingly from that time to the end of the war as a private against the common enemy without any interruption or absence, that I belonged to Captain Jackson's company of Artillery in Colonel Crane's Regiment under the command of General Knox, and that I left the service in the month of June 1783 at West Point when the Army was disbanded, and that by reason of my reduced circumstances in life and poverty, I stand in need of assistance from my country and support being now of the age of sixty years - and I hereby relinquish all claims to every pension heretofore allowed me by the laws of the United States if any may be or hath been allowed. My discharge was lost from my pocket many years since and is not in existence."

/signed/ Isaac Buck.

A schedule of the property belonging to Isaac Buck of Sterling as of May 1 1820 included:

"one cow - one clock - one table - one looking glass - one chest - one shovel - one tongs - crockery - glass stemware - one old axe - one hoe - one old plough - one old wagon - one pot - one kettle - one pair of dogs - three old chairs - six knives and forks - $30.25"

The schedule also says, apparently written for Isaac Buck:

"The said applicant is a farmer, but wholly unable to labour the present season on account of a wound in his shoulder in May last - and never expects to perform much labour hereafter. His wife named Patty Buck is aged 60 years - is barely able to do the work of her house. I have but one child at home named Isaac Buck aged 14 years and performs as much labour as other farmer's boys at his age, but does nothing toward my support. This is the whole of my family."


Isaac Buck.

For his service, he was awarded a pension by the United States of $8 per month commencing 8 April 1818.

Isaac Buck participated in many of the historic campaigns of the Revolutionary War. He probably helped Henry Knox move the artillery from Ticonderoga to Boston in the winter of 1775-6, and probably was with Knox and Washington from then until the end of the War - fighting the British in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Isn't it amazing what records you can find for your ancestors?

I thank God for all of the Isaac Bucks who have served their country so well for so many years at the risk of life. They have kept, and are keeping, our country free and thriving.

Note - This is a repost from 15 September 2007 for the 75th Carnival of genealogy. Tim Abbott did a little more research on Isaac - see Tim's comment on my earlier post.

Check out the HistoryBeat pages from

Like many other geneabloggers, I received this information from

"We wanted to let you know of an exciting new partnership between Footnote and the largest newspaper publisher in the US, the Gannett Company. Gannett, publisher of 84 daily newspapers including USA Today, will be able to digitize their vast archives for the first time by working together with Footnote.

"Through this partnership Footnote Members will be able to access valuable historical newspapers never seen before on the internet.

"In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Moon Landing and Woodstock, we have kicked off our partnership by digitizing the newspapers covering those events. We have recently launched the first runs of Florida Today and the Poughkeepsie Journal (NY). Footnote will continue to digitize the full run of those newspapers including all of the Poughkeepsie Journal, which goes back to 1785.

"Visit our Moon Landing ( and Woodstock ( pages today and relive the 60’s man."

So I visited the pages and was rewarded with the Moon Landing page (two screens):

And for the Woodstock page (two screens):

On each of these pages, there is a description of the event, and a gallery of pictures and documents.

The reader can upload their own memories, stories and photographs.

The reader can also search the full collection of the Poughkeepsie Journal and Florida Today newspapers on I looked for "Knapp" in the Poughkeepsie paper and found articles from the 1850's.

Will digitize all of the newspapers in the Gannett collections? The list of Gannett papers is at If so, this will be a tremendous benefit to genealogy researchers. Unfortunately, they don't publish a San Diego area newspaper.

Checking out the SCGS Jamboree Exhibits - Post 1

There were many exhibitors at the SCGS Jamboree at the Burbank airport Hotel and convention Center last weekend. I took some pictures of some of them. Here are my first installments:

1) had a corner space, and came with a curved screen. I'm not sure how that worked for their video display. Here is Gordon Atkinson of in front of their display:

2) Tom Underhill of Creative Continuum, Inc. is one of the most creative and fun presenters and exhibitors. One of his products is coffee table photo books, so he brought in a couch and coffee table for his space. Here is Tom with two daughters sharing a family moment on the couch:

3) RootsMagic had a large display space, and Laurie and Bruce Buzbee were there all through the weekend.

4) Leland and Patty Meitzler own Family Roots Publishing and had a large display space and did a lot of business during the Jamboree. Bill Dollarhide signed many of his books for appreciative readers:

5) The WorldVitalRecords site was busy too. I forgot to write down who the gentleman was in the booth.

I will post several more photos from my walking around the exhibit hall. I neglected to get pictures of many of the exhibitors - I got so wound up talking to people! Oh well - next year!

Family Photographs - Post 62: Betty and the Chickens

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:

This is one of my most precious pictures. Inside the family chicken coop, there is Betty Virginia Carringer looking the egg providers in the eye and maybe even trying to kiss them. Some of these chickens are about her size!

This picture was taken in late 1920, with several others, by my grandfather, Lyle Carringer. He dutifully noted the egg count for each day in his account book, and the prices he received for the eggs. I don't know where he sold them, though. Perhaps Emily or her mother sold them on the street or by a neighborhood market.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More on California AB130 - California Vital Records Access

I received this from Liz Stookesberry Myers (on CSGA Legislative Committee) today about Assembly Bill 130 that affects California vital records and indexes:


Assembly Bill 130 will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee very soon. It was introduced by Kevin Jeffries (Republican ) of the Temecula area. The Bill was presented at the request of the Recorder Association of California. They want to be able to handle Marriage Records the same as Birth and Death Records. That means that they can black out the Mother’s Maiden name, if the County Recorder chooses. The Recorder also has the option of sending out an informational copy only.

The main concern is what the Recorder of each county may or may not choose to do. At least that is the way it is written today.

As we know, the unfounded fear of ID theft is a worry to Legislatures on the State and National Levels. Yet, research shows that ID Theft is caused by Data Hackers or stolen items from a friend or acquaint!

I urge you to notify the Senate Appropriation’s Committee and your State Representatives of our feelings about access to these public records. Remind them that these records help us to find family and determine if an inherited disease is running through the family lines. That seems to get their attention.

Go to and click on Committees go to: Standing Committee to Appropriations. There you will see the members of the committee and staff information. Call or write these committee members and let them know who important changing this rule is to genealogists world wide!

Go to to find your local representative. When this bill goes to the Senate and Assembly Floor, we will need to jump in and let them know how important access to these records is to us!

We have been advised by Jan Meisels Allen, of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and Chairperson, of Public Records Access and Monitoring Committee to “write to the governor as it can be heard as soon as today and the way this bill is moving it won’t take long for it to pass both houses on the floor.” Urge the governor to veto the bill…”

Please take a moment to make a call, or write a letter or fax your thoughts. It will only happen if we take the time to do it now!

Liz Stookesberry Myers
California Alliance of Genealogical Societies
Legislative Committee


Thank you, Liz, for the additional information.

I encourage California societies and individual members to make their voices heard on this issue. My previous posts were California Assembly Bill AB130 - IAJGS Letter (which provides Jan Meisels Allen's letter to the legisloators) and Access to California Vital Records Indexes (which provides links to the amended bill and applicable California codes).

In my opinion, we need a list of recommendations to modify the bill to satisfy the genealogy community needs and desires.

Geneabloggers Dinner Photos - Post 3

In Post 2, I lamented that I did not have a picture of Denise Levenick or myself in my photo collection from the Geneabloggers Dinner.

I was wrong! I have this great photograph of Denise (in white in center), footnoteMaven (on right) and Kathryn M. Doyle (in black on left) in my camera:

George G. Morgan must have said something funny at this moment in time!

Kathryn M. Doyle posted this photo from her "Geneabloggers Gone Wild" collection on her Facebook page, and I hope she doesn't mind if I use it here:

This is the 4th table - with Linda Seaver (no blog), Randy Seaver (this blog and three more) and Dean Richardson (the Genlighten blog). Thank you, Kathryn!

There - I think we got a picture of everybody at the dinner!

California Assembly Bill AB130 - IAJGS Letter

I discussed the California Assembly Bill AB130 concerning access to California vital records and vital records indexes in a post last week.

Jan Meisels Allen has written a letter on the letterhead of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies that she forwarded to me and has given me permission to reprint. Here is Jan's letter:


June 28, 2009

California Senate Appropriations Committee
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: AB 130 Oppose Unless Amended

Dear California Senate Appropriations Chairperson Kehoe, Vice Chairman Cox, and Committee Members Corbett, Denham, Hancock, Leno, Oropeza, Price, Runner, Walters, Wolk, Wyland and Yee:

On behalf of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS), I am writing due to concern we have regarding the provisions of AB 130 which would extend the limitations of access to comprehensive indices and vital records to marriages. The bill is being heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 23.

We in the genealogical community are concerned about its impact as currently drafted. The genealogical community is supportive of the intent to protect the residents of California from improper usage of their personal information, and protect them from identity theft, however, we are very concerned of further limiting access to the comprehensive indices and public records that AB 130 proposes.. It has been rarely documented that people’s identity are violated by access to vital records but rather the violations occur due to computer breeches from government and private enterprises—many of these computer breeches have been well documented in the press.

Genealogy is not only a hobby of millions of people— it assists in tracing family medical problems that are passed on from generation to generation. Information included in marriage records is critical to reconstructing families and tracing genetically inherited attributes in current family members. To assure the family is correctly identified, the mother’s maiden name is essential. Not including the mother’s maiden names in the proposed non-comprehensive marriage indices would hamper such research, as it may make it virtually impossible to determine which marriage is the correct record. For example, a marriage between John Black and Mary Smith, both common names; the only way to identify the correct marriage for family medical history research would be to have the mothers’ maiden names included in the index so the researcher could order the correct informational copy of the marriage record. As genealogists and family historians, we want to assure continued access to needed information that should be included in the non-comprehensive indices so that the correct vital records—birth, marriage and death records may be obtained.

The IAJGS is the umbrella organization of 73 genealogical societies worldwide (of which 5 are located in California) whose approximately 10,000 members are actively researching their Jewish roots. We want to continue to allow our members the maximum access to these vital records.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted,


Jan Meisels Allen

Jan Meisels Allen, Director
International Association of Jewish
Genealogical Societies and
Chairperson, Public Records Access
and Monitoring Committee
Reply address: [redacted]

[Jan's email is jan(at)]

I really appreciate Jan's efforts to read the proposed legislation and make cogent and reasoned comments on it.

Jan seems to think that this bill will pass both houses of the California legislature easily, and thinks that the only way to stop it may be a veto by Governor Schwarzenegger. However, vetoes can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses, so it may be put into law.

California genealogy societies need to contact their representatives in order to influence their vote. If other persons or societies draft and send letters concerning this bill, I will be happy to publish them as a way to spread the word. Jan's letter is one vehicle to do it. If you want a copy of Jan's letter to send to your representative, I'm sure that Jan would be happy to provide you with a PDF of it.

The best advice I've heard is to get your California vital records certificates now!

UPDATED 7/2: Jan Meisels Allen provided the corrected letter, dated 2 July, that modifies the third paragraph above. Thank you, Jan!

In the Genea-bloggers Lounge at SCGS Jamboree

There is an area in the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel that has a table (with electric plug access) and some comfortable chairs for Internet users just off the lobby and as part of the Coffee and Snack Bar on the way to the West Wing of the hotel. The Genea-bloggers adopted this area as the Geneabloggers Lounge and used this area for meetups and talkfests all weekend. I got a few pictures (and subjects are welcome to download them and use them):

1) Denise Levenick and her mother Suzanne put together swag bags for geneabloggers that included food and drink goodies, and Thomas lined up some freebies from RootsMagic and GenerationMaps for the bag. Here are the beautiful Denise and Suzanne greeting us in the lobby:

2) After we got the swag bags, we went to the other end of the lobby and recognized the smiling yet enigmatic and boisterous Thomas MacEntee sitting on the couch next to Amy Coffin:

3) We soon found the Internet area and sat around talking - here is a picture of the lovely footnoteMaven while she was acting incognito and the beautiful Elizabeth O'Neal with some geneaholic guy in the background. I have no clue who took this picture on my camera, but I'm glad they did!

4) After awhile, footnoteMaven let us take her picture "cognito" and she is shown her with the Photo Detective, Maureen Taylor, and Schelly Talalay Dardashti:

5) We tried really hard to participate in Scanfest on Sunday morning. Thomas had his Netbook with the webcam and saved a video taken at the table here and tried to upload it to the Scanfest and brought Miriam's chat to a halt. In this picture, we see Susan Kitchens on the left on her Netbook, Thomas on his Netbook, Kathryn Doyle taking our picture, and Craig Manson on his laptop.

6) Sometime during Scanfest, which we were connected to through Susan's Netbook, footnoteMaven and Susan did this "upside down shades" maneuver (I have no clue why) while Craig and Thomas were obliviously pecking away:

7) We gave up on Scanfest when they ignored our attempts at humor and insisted on talking about photographs and slides, so we just hung out and talked. In this picture, are the lovely, erudite and really fun (applies to all of them) Kathryn Doyle, Amy Coffin, Elizabeth O'Neal and Sheri Fenley:

Needless to say, we all had a lot of fun getting together at the SCGS Jamboree. I ended up being social rather than studious - the only session I went to was Steve Danko's session for about five minutes in search of somebody and a glass of water.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Geneabloggers Dinner Photos - Post 2

Here are the rest of my pictures from the Saturday night Geneabloggers dinner at the Marriott Hotel Daily Grill restaurant. We had about 35 in attendance here for a fixed price dinner arranged by Thomas MacEntee, who writes the Geneabloggers and Destination: Austin Family (and several other) blogs.

At the table closest to the entrance were (from left):

* Lisa Alzo (The Accidental Genealogist blog)
* Steven Danko (Steve's Genealogy Blog)
* Drew Smith (Rootsmithing, Social Networking for Genealogists and Genealogy Guys Podcast blogs)
* George G. Morgan (George's Genealogical Gleanings and Genealogy Guys Podcast blogs)
* Kathryn Doyle (California Genealogical Society and Library blog):

On the other side of the above table are (from left):

* Denise Levenick (The Family Curator blog - back of head, sorry Denise)
* footnoteMaven (footnoteMaven and Shades of the Departed blogs - partial face, sorry fM)
* Sheri Fenley (The Educated Genealogist blog)
* Elizabeth O'Neal (Little Bytes of Life blog)
* dick Eastman (Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter blog)

Astute observers of the above photo will notice an empty seat - it belonged to Cheryl Palmer (Heritage Happens and Graveyard Rabbit of South Alameda County blogs).

Now I have no clue where Susan Kitchens (Family Oral History Using Digital Tools blog) was sitting... but in the photo below, Susan is taking the picture in back of footnoteMaven and Sheri Fenley.

In the background is the 4th table, with:

* Linda Seaver (Randy's wife in blue dress)
* Dean Richardson (Genlighten blog)

Just before the food arrived, there was a real flurry of photographers trying to take pictures, and ending up taking pictures of each other taking pictures. In the photo below, Kiril Kundurazieff (Musings of a Mad Macedonian blog) and Cheryl Palmer are taking my picture while I take theirs.

So the only persons at this dinner that I haven't included in these pictures are Denise Levenick and myself (I think!). Hopefully, others will provide some pictures.

I'm sorry that I didn't get better pictures of everybody but they just wouldn't sit in their seats and smile - they were a dynamic, loud, fun group of geneabloggers who wanted to roam around the room and wouldn't mind anyone, let alone me.
UPDATED 10:30 p.m. Elizabeth straightened me out on who was sitting where - I fixed it, sorry Cheryl!

Tweeting the Bloggers Summit

As noted earlier, I Twittered all through the genealogy Bloggers Summit on Saturday at the SCGS Jamboree 2009 conference. You can see all tweets from the SCGS Jamboree at that use the #scgs09 hashtag..

The tweet posts are limited to 140 characters, and are subject to the wireless access in the hotel working flawlessly. It didn't, so I missed some of the rational comments made by the Bloggers Panel. Oh well, my rational memory is about 100 characters, if that! You will have to read between the Ines sometimes. Here are the tweets captured from my Facebook page, with an approximate time (some typos corrected):

9:29: almost ready to start - they're all in their places with bright shiny faces
9:30: interesting dress code - Eastman, Manson, Mr AI in t-shirts, Morgan, Danko and Meitzler in shirts/ties, ladies look good!
9:31: more bloggers in audience than on panel, I'm next to footnoteMaven, Sheri is hiding behind shades, Cheryl taking pix
9:35: Paula Hinkel starting... testing mics...George "can you hear us now"
9:36: Thomas MacEntee introduced as sponsor of Bloggers Summit. Big hand!!
9:37: "biggest group of geneabloggers to meet so far" - over 35 here
9:38: George's intro - lecturer, author, columnist, blogger, podcaster
9:39: Ancestry Insider - "man of mystery, hiding behind his mask"
9:40: Lisa Louise Cooke - looks stunning as usual, blogger, podcaster, videocaster
9:40: Steve Danko - blogger, lecturer, Polish expert

9:41: Pat Richley - lecturer, author, columnist, blogger, podcaster, videocaster, introduced fiance Gordon Erickson
9:42: Schelly Dardashti - lecturer, author, columnist, blogger, Jewish gen expert
9:43: Dick Eastman - EOGN blogger, lecturer, tech expert
9:43: Leland Meitzler - lecturer, blogger, author, publisher, editor
9:44: Craig Manson (Geneablogie) - blogger, author, columnist, lawyer, etc.
9:45: Lisa (Genealogy Gems) - uses digital audio recorder, blogs to bring readers to her podcasts and videos, two shows - Gen Gems podcast
9:47: Lisa - has Family History Made Easy podcast/video, has Genealogy Gems YouTube channel, "Socks to America" immigration story
9:48: Lisa - Sock family worked in laundry, had lots of soul, ... funny story, watch the video
9:49: Lisa - says sequel to Socks to America coming - maybe starring Ancestry folks

9:51: Dick is surrounded by ladies, feels inadequate becuz he had a newsletter and doesn't use word blogging much
9:52: Dick - spectator, not humorist or entertainer, mentions addiction, writes about technology and genealogy
9:52: Dick - has lots of fun, goes to conferences, shares his fun on his blog
9:59: Schelly - fun to see colleagues in person. started in journalism - gen columnist for Jerusalem Post, editor said "who's interested
10:00: Schelly " dead people.?" Twitter got slow, sorry. Schelly is a really interesting blogger
10:00: Schelly - genealogists are no longer generalists - now are more specialized

10:03: Leland and AI are tweeting from podium. The only ones?
10:06: George taking blog provider survey - mostly Blogger, some wordPress, others. Damn wi-fi signal up and down
10:07: Pat has been talking awhile, while signal has been poor. DearMYRTLE is a sweetheart - showing audio capability of blog posts
10:09: focus of dearMYRTLE is on beginning genealogists.
10:10: about 100 in attendance...George showing iGoogle features for some reason

10:11: George reads Genea-musings, listed many other blog posts. Pat says "cool we have free space to write about our genealogy"
10:13: Craig has - wearing his Geneablogie t-shirt. Started as way to keep track of his own research
10:17: Craig - not too concerned about who reads it. Checkered past - many careers and roles, wrote stories, 2007 changed his blog life
10:18: wi-fi problems still - Craig got known with legal analysis of database problems. Introduced footnoteMaven
10:18: Craig is happy to be blogging and sharing his knowledge. Big hand for his philosophical views
10:19: Mr AI - got into blogging becuz of frustration when working at Organizations need a human voice in corporate speech
10:20: AI - if they don't work with us, we will talk about them until they do. Employee blogging is dangerous, may want to be anonymous

10:21: AI - Craig offered legal help to AI. AI tries to be a supportive critic to and FSI. Graphics and pictures add to blog posts
10:23: AI - Fireshot has screen shot grabs for Firefox. Schelly uses Snagit. used to add shadows to non-square objects
10:24: AI - has tech background and creates widgets - shows one for most recent FamilySearch Record Search databases
10:26: Leland - blogging since Nov 2003, into it becuz tech guy said he should to support company. Got URL
10:27: Leland - blogging took over his life, as bad as gambling. 6-8 hours a day. (Is that all?). Leland has photos of audience now
10:29: Leland - now runs Family Roots Inc - book store. Patti edits books, not blogs. Does news, new databases, book stuff

10:31: Leland out of job since 17 February, busy with Family roots Publishing and blogging. Has some sponsors for his blog - appreciates!
10:31: Leland - don't know of genealogy bloggers that make a living blogging...
10:33: Leland - wants to write a book about town of Arline Mills - worked on it for 20 years. Going to blog about it.
10:33: I need to get photos of the panel and audience...back in minute
10:36: Steve - run blog for over 3 years, primary info and original documents for his family history, and admin for 2 DNA projects
10:38: Steve - talking about DNA nobility group in Eastern Europe. Group found his blog and using his stuff. Niedzialkowski!
10:39: Steve - found a Nied--ski cousin, goes to Poland regularly, is helping Steve with research. All becuz of DNA projects and blog

10:41: Steve - cousin sent lots of material at Christmas. Much of it not microfilmed.
10:44: George showing George's Genealogical gleanings - tips for readers. Maintains Florida Gen society (Tampa) blog site.
10:45: George - societies not in competition with each other - should cooperate and share information
10:47: hi new twitter followers of @rjseaver. Thanks, will follow you later
10:49: George - talking about FGS-Tampa activities, blog not just "my research" - can be communication tool for other audience

10:51: Q&A: "not a writer. Would blogging help me become better writer?" Dick: "blog is what you make it. I write articles."
10:52: Q&A: Pat: helps you become a writer, have to think about it, blogs are for local gen societies to communicate"
10:53: Q&A Pat: use your blog to do whatever you want. Craig: a forum for collaboration, society or family.
10:55: Steve: did autobiographical memories as part of Xmas carnival.
10:55: Q&A: What is name of blog directory? George:, and
10:57: Lisa: if you're going to write a blog, make sure you can be found. Let audience know location, interests, etc.
10:59: Q&A: taking a break, back soon

11:12: break is over - Pat: power-bloggers don't take potty breaks
11:13: George: don't be afraid of speakers - talk to them, share with them. work the vendor hall. Support the vendors
11:14: George: Thomas has put together website - site. There to help folks get started.
11:17: George: blogging is as easy as using word processor. Starting new blog using - should have google account and Gmail
11:19: Q: How do you get columns to line up? Schelly: blogger software uses templates - columns, fonts, colors, backgrounds, banners etc

11:24: George is creating the Genealogy Summit Blog Extravaganza blog - but I can't see the URL
11:25: Q: blog or wiki? Steve: why not both.
11:26: Q: how do use blog for surname research? Thomas: put surname in blog, and locations. Title needs to reflect interest and focus
11:29: George is showing editing features of blogger posting. Schelly says use readable font, minimize colors, info must be quickly read
11:30: #scgs09 is not in top 10 Twitter topics yet, but we're trying!

11:32: George showing how to create a link - but he's typing it in instead of copy-pasting from a site.
11:39: George trying to get first post. taking a long time. Added some tags in "labels" in blogger. URL is
11:40: Q: how long do blogs last? Leland: his blog went away, becuz controlled by tech guy. Then it went away - 6000 posts lost

11:44: Leland: blog will go away if hosting service is not paid. happened to him. back up everything.
11:45: George - shows to change the blog template. looks terrible. changing layout.
11:46: time has flown by here. Almost over.
11:47: Q: is there help page for beginners? George: blogger has help center.
11:48: Q: can you use Google analytics for traffic and info? Schelly: Yes, sign in through google account, find analytics.

11:53: showing a gen society blog -
11:54: Schelly mentioned using Rss feeds and email alerts to read posts - Bloglines, Google Reader, Feedburner, etc
11:56: Q; how do I make sure that it is saved forever? Lisa: is a blog the best vehicle to do it?
11:57: George: wants fam history blog of own family - set up a wiki site with person pages, and web site with family pages
11:59: George: you can mix and match and link them together in a mashup, or composite. Schelly: set up fam website on social network site
12:01: Craig recommends Footnote Pages to add content, photos, stories, etc. George: social network sites let you control access
12:02: It's noon and we're done. Thank you to the panel. To audience for q


To finish my thought above "... questions to panel" and encouraging folks to start a blog to share your research.

87 tweets in about 150 minutes. It would have been more if the damn wi-fi signal was strong! Go to Twitter to see all SCGS09 tweets.

At that point, wi-fi was slow, and I had to try to get folks to gather for a picture while the hotel staff was trying to turn seats into tables with chairs. We got a picture, but not everyone was there.

The funniest part of this panel session was when George created the blog, when he hit Submit for the first post, Kathryn Doyle was already a follower! Others soon added their "Follower" icon.

There were about 100 in attendnace (my estimate) for the first 90 minutes, but only 60 or 70 for the second part of it. This bloggers session spanned two lecture sessions, so some people went off to hear something else.

I will have some comments about the Bloggers Summit in a later post. Name Change and YouTube Videos

I heard a rumor at the SCGS Jamboree that The Generations Network (TGN) was going to change their corporate name to Inc. I forgot to wear my reporter's hat that day (and didn't have my trusty ballpoint pen) and I cannot remember who told me that - I don't think that it was an Ancestry employee.

If the name does change, this will complete a the circle -, Inc. changed to, Inc. in 1999, and then to The Generations Network in 2006, according to Wikipedia. Why change? Will they bring all of their properties under the URL?

I just saw a tweet from Ancestrydotcom highlighting several new YouTube videos at There are five videos posted now. I watched one - they are short (one minute) and quite moving. The one I watched opens with a man trying to discover his roots, finding an ancestral record in Ancestry's databases, shows some vintage photos or movies, and tells about discovering a living relative who had more information about his ancestor.

Updated 11:30 a.m.: Ancestry sent out a press release this morning about their new "My Story" advertising campaign - the five YouTube videos - you can probably read it on several blog sites. Elyse Doerflinger attended the "What's New at" presentation at the SCGS Jamboree and saw them played.

Geneabloggers Dinner Photos - Post 1

Here are some of my pictures from the Saturday night Geneabloggers dinner at the Marriott Hotel Daily Grill restaurant. We had about 35 in attendance here for a fixed price dinner arranged by Thomas MacEntee, who writes the Geneabloggers and Destination: Austin Family (and several other) blogs.

Here is our host, Thomas MacEntee, and his partner, George (both from Chicago area):

Across the table from Thomas and George were (from the left):

* Ruth Himan (almost a blogger now, one of my CVGS colleagues) from Chula Vista CA, who wasn't looking at the camera
* Schelly Talalay Dardashti (Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog) from Tel Aviv (furthest traveler to the GB dinner!)
* Lisa Louise Cooke (Genealogy Gems Podcast blog) from the Bay Area CA
* Lacey Cooke (Lisa's daughter and videographer) from the Bay Area CA

Across the table from Lisa and the others were (from the left):

* Amy Coffin (We Tree blog) from Houston
* Elyse Doerflinger (Elyse's Genealogy Blog) from Lomita CA
* Gini Webb (Ginisology blog) from San Diego
* Steve Webb (Gini's husband) from San Diego

At the back table were (from left):

* Craig Manson (Geneablogie blog) from Carmichael CA
* Illya D'Addezio (Genealogy Today owner) from New Jersey
* Jane Rollin (almost a geneablogger) from L.A. area (I think)
Across the table from the above were (from left):

* Leslie Mehana (Rooting Around Genealogy blog) from the L.A. area (I think)
* Gordon Erickson (not a blogger, Pat's fiance) from Virginia
* Pat Richley (DearMYRTLE Genealogy blog) from Utah
* Jean Hibben (CircleMending blog) from Lake Matthews CA
* Diane Wright (Graveyard Rabbit Travels Wright blog) from Corona CA area

This dinner was so much fun. They could hear the laughter out in the Conference Center from our special room. Inside, we could hardly hear each other talk.

I will have more pictures posted soon - need to get some homework done first! If anybody wants a copy of my photos, please email me at Or you can just download them from here. They are all about 1 megabyte in size and the images are fairly good for my relatively old camera without a zoom lens.