Saturday, December 5, 2009

SNGF- Dear Genea-Santa: Just One Small Hint...

For Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, we are to write a letter to Genea-Santa asking for one gift for Christmas, and telling Genea-Santa what good genea-boys we have been.

Dear Genea-Santa,

I've been a pretty good genea-boy this year. With my writing (blogs, FORUM column, CVGS newsletter editor), speaking (five local societies, some twice, and two libraries) and teaching (three OASIS courses, eight hours total), I've helped educate San Diego area genealogists on all levels. Leading the CVGS Research Group, and occasionally the Computer Group, has enabled me to provide some expertise to society colleagues. My research has sputtered and surged as I found leads to identify the parents of Devier J. Lamphier alias Smith (1839-1894), and I tried to help Mark uncover the Putman/Martin/Rolfe mysteries.

My one gift request for Christmas is a solid clue as to the parents of Devier J. Lamphier (1839-1894), born in Jefferson County NY to either a Lamphier couple or to a single Lamphier young lady. Devier was adopted by Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith before they migrated to Dodge County, Wisconsin in about 1843. Please, please, please, could you please just help me uncover his parents names? Hopefully, I can take it from there, and will mention your name prominently when I write the article about this family..

Thank you, Genea-Santa. As always, the cold beer, rosy red apple and beautiful Christmas tree sugar cookies will be waiting on the fireplace mantel for you on Christmas Eve, and I'll be all snugged in with my Angel Linda snoozing away dreaming of Lamphiers appearing on my family tree!

Always -- Randy.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Dear Genea-Santa

Hey, fellow geneaholics, it's Saturday Night, and time for lots of Genealogy Fun!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission: Impossible music), is to write a nice letter to Genea-Santa Here are the directions:

1) Write a letter to Genea-Santa and ask for only ONE thing. It could be hardware, software, a missing family Bible, a record that you desperately want, etc.

2) Tell Genea-Santa what a good genea-girl or genea-boy you've been this past year and give examples.

3) Exhibit your letter on your own blog, in a Facebook post commenting on this note, or in a Comment to this blog post.

So - go forth and write your letter!

Updated 4:45 p.m.: I didn't realize that the Carnival of Genealogy would include a Dear Genea-Santa theme this year. So my advice is to ask for everything you want in the Carnival post and only one thing in your SNGF post.

Surname Saturday - LAMPHIER > SMITH (NY>WI>IA>MO>KS>NE>CA)

It's Saturday, and time for another Surname Saturday post about one of my family lines. I'm doing these in Ahnentafel List order - starting with the first entry for the specific surname in my Ahnentafel List.

I'm starting this SMITH list with my great-grandmother, Abbie Ardell (Della) SMITH (1862-1944). She is #13 on my Ahnentafel List. I've included my descent from Della to myself in the list below:

1. Randall J. Seaver (1943-....) - moi.

2. Frederick W. Seaver (1911-1983)
3. Betty Virginia Carringer (1919-2002)

6. Lyle L. Carringer (1891-1976)
7. Emily Kemp Auble (1899-1977)

12. Henry Austin Carringer (1853-1946)
13. Abbie Ardell (Della) Smith was born on 11 April 1862 in Waupan, Dodge County, WI. She was born on 11 April 1862 in Waupan, Dodge, WI. She died on 1 January 1944 at the age of 81 in San Diego, San Diego, CA.

26. Devier James Lamphear Smith was born on 7 May 1839 in Henderson, Jefferson County, NY. He was adopted before 1843 in Jefferson County, New York. Devier died on 1 May 1894 at the age of 54 in McCook, Red Willow County, NE. Abigail A. Vaux and Devier James Lamphear Smith were married on 4 April 1861 in Rolling Prairie, Dodge County, WI.

27. Abigail A. Vaux was born on 28 October 1844 in Aurora, Erie County, NY.. Abigail died on 11 September 1931 at the age of 86 in San Diego, San Diego County, CA. Devier James Lamphear Smith and Abigail A. Vaux had the following children:

...13 ...i. Abbie Ardell\Della Smith, born 11 April 1862, Waupan, Dodge County, WI; married Henry Austin Carringer, 11 September 1887, Wano, Cheyenne County, KS; died 1 January 1944, San Diego, San Diego County, CA.
.......... ii. David Devier Smith, born 15 October 1863, Rolling Prairie, Dodge County, WI; married Leava A. Smith, 20 June 1889, McCook, Red Willow County, NE; married Amy Ashdown, 25 May 1908, San Diego, San Diego County, CA (CA MI); died 2 February 1920, San Diego, San Diego County, CA.
.......... iii. Mary Ann (Matie) Smith, born 7 May 1866, Rolling Prairie, Dodge County, WI; married George Chenery, 10 December 1889, McCook, Red Willow County, NE (divorced April 1895); married Joseph C. Cramer, after 1895, prob. San Diego County, CA; married John Frank Morrill, about 1920, prob. San Diego County, CA; died 14 July 1922, San Diego, San Diego County, CA.
.......... iv. Agness Bell Smith was born on 26 February 1868 in Rolling Prairie, Dodge County, WI. She died on 26 April 1870 at the age of 2 in Bedford, Taylor County, IA.
.......... v. Lucian\Lutie H. Smith was born on 16 June 1875 in Bedford, Taylor County, IA. She died on 19 March 1878 at the age of 2 in Concordia, Cloud County, KS.

52. Lanphier???
53. Lamphier???

Devier J. Lamphier changed his name to Devier James Smith on 21 March 1866 in Dodge County, Wisconsin. His birth parents are not known, but were probably living in Jefferson county, New York in the period before 1843. His father may be a Lamphier (or with other alternative names - Lamphear, Lamphere, Lamfear, Lanphier, Lanphere, Lanphear, Lanfear, etc.). His mother may be a Lamphier also - she may have had the baby out of wedlock and gave him up for adoption.

Devier J. Smith's adoptive parents were Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith, who married and lived in Henderson, Jefferson county, NY before 1840. They moved to Dodge County, Wisconsin before 1843, and Mary died there in 1865. Ranslow Smith, and his son, Devier J. Smith, moved to Taylor county, IA in 1867, thence to Andrew County, MO, where Ranslow died. Devier Smith moved to Cloud County KS, Pottawatomie County KS, Marshall County KS, Red Willow County NE and Cheyenne County KS.

If anybody has information about the Devier J. Smith family, or the Lamphier/etc. family in New York and Wisconsin in the 1820-1870 time period, I would appreciate hearing from you!

Advent Calendar: Day 20 - Outdoor Lights

On the 20th day of Christmas,
my neighbors gave me a treat,
they lighted up the whole darn street!

1) Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights?

When I was a kid (1950s and 60s), there were few lights outside the homes, if any, in San Diego. We had no lights outside the house, mainly because we lived on the second floor and with the lighted Christmas tree in the cubby-hole, it was visible to passers-by on the street.

Starting in about 1970 (when we married), I noticed that some neighbors would string lights around their roof eaves or on a bush or tree in the yard. We put strings of lights on our roof eaves all across the front of the house and garage and in the entry-way starting in about 1975 until about 1995. We haven't done it since, mainly due to safety reasons (I'm not confident on the roof any more!).

With our daughters away from home, we were often not home at Christmas time.

In recent years, several of our neighbors on our cul-de-sac have the mesh-lights on their eaves, and several have blow-up displays or lighted figures in their front yard.

2) Did some people really go "all out" when decorating?

Oh yes. And they still do, even more. One of the Christmas traditions for our little family in the 1975 to 1985 period was to drive around "Candy Cane Lane" and "Christmas Tree Circle" in Chula Vista to see the outdoor displays - lights, scenes, music, etc. One of our family traditions for awhile was to go to a pizza place with family friends, then drive by the lighted streets, and then have a gift exchange at our house with the friends. Unfortunately, they moved away, and we haven't done it since.

"Candy Cane Lane" is gone, but "Christmas Tree Circle" still exists in Chula Vista. There are many more of these neighborhood displays now all over the San Diego area. I saw a map in a local magazine yesterday of the biggest and best displays. Someone could drive around to about 20 sites using the map.

Originially published on 4 December 2007.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Making FTC Disclosures about Blog-swag

Dean Richardson (hikari17 on Twitter, writer of the GenLighten blog) tweeted this morning:

"hikari17 A humorous way to deal with the new FTC blogging conflict-of-interest rules: #genealogy #blogging "

So I clicked on the link and found Louis Gray's post FTC Disclosures Made Simple For Bloggers With Conflicts with a number of graphics to depict what a blogger or writer could use to depict what emoluments, if any, they received for a blog post. Here's one of them:

See Louis Gray's post for all of them.

Follow Friday - the California Genealogical Society and Library Blog

It's Follow Friday, where I get to choose another "Favorite" blog and recommend it for my readers to follow.

My choice this week is the California Genealogical Society and Library (CGSL) blog, authored by Kathryn M. Doyle. The URL for the blog has changed recently - it is now Here is their home page from this morning:

Kathryn and her society have tailored their blog to provide interesting and up-to-date information about society activities to their membership and their other readers (like me). I am not a member, but I enjoy seeing how the society brings in programs, speakers and does their library activites.

One thing that sets this blog apart from other genealogical society blogs is the liberal use of photographs to depict society activities. They have excellent photographers that seem to capture the best part of events and even daily activities. In this way, their blog is an extension of their monthly newsletter (which is available for email reception for anyone).

Several CGSL members created a terrific poster last year that was displayed and sold to researchers at the SCGS Jamboree and other events:

Isn't that a great poster? It conveys the message well just with the graphic - and the words explain the message succinctly. This is an excellent fund-raiser for their society.

I can hardly wait to visit their library on one of our occasional trips to the Bay Area. Maybe we can arrange a genea-blogger meetup.

Advent Calendar: Day 21 - Christmas Cards

On the 21st day of Christmas,
my true friends sent to me
Christmas Cards from their family.

1) Did your family send them?

My parents sent Christmas cards to family and friends all of my life. My mother made them for many years (I know I have several in my boxes of stuff...somewhere) - usually a fairly simple madonna or angel theme with a "Merry Christmas" and "from the Seaver family" or something similar. I remember a single color (red or green) stencil on card stock folded into a card, with writing on the inside.

2) Did your family display the ones they received?

In my childhood home, I don't remember having a mantle or shelf space that had displayed cards. I'm sure that my mother displayed them somewhere - perhaps on a bulletin board in the entry way. I'll have to ask my brothers. I wish I could remember more about this time of my life.

We received cards from my father's mother and siblings in New England which often had family letters in them. These were prized because this family never made long distance phone calls and rarely wrote letters, so this was our only contact each year with the family 2,500 miles away.

3) Do you still send Christmas cards?

Oh yes! That's what the post-Thanksgiving hecticity (is that a word?) is all about. "We have to get this done so we can do this and this next ..." Angel Linda is a taskmaster. This solemn process includes:

* finding the boxes of cards bought during the year at thrift shops or 99 cent stores. Or going out and buying more. We only get angel cards, naturally.

* Randy prints off the Christmas card address list and Linda updates it. The list is then printed on peel-off labels.

* Linda affixes the labels on envelopes, puts the return address labels (hopefully, Christmas motif) on the envelopes, and puts stamps on the envelopes.

* Randy writes the two-page Christmas letter (more on this in a later post), Linda edits it, and Randy creates 120 copies of it (this takes about four days to finish).

* Linda writes messages on the cards, since Randy thinks that the Christmas letter covers everything that could be said. Linda's handwriting is much better, too! Randy and Linda stuff the letters in the envelopes and seal the envelopes.

* We typically send these out in early December - soon!

This process takes about ten days from start to finish, but it's now a tradition and we have a proven process for it. I also send the Christmas letter to email correspondents, but I don't want to post it online because it has some personal details not appropriate for the world to see. If you want one, please send me an email address (if I don't already have one - at

Originally published on 4 December 2007.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Family Tree Maker Cannot Make an Ahnentafel List - Still!

I've been using Family Tree Maker since Version 5 (I believe) - when was that, about 1998? One of my reasons for investigating genealogy software programs other than Family Tree Maker is the lack of a simple Ahnentafel List. Every other program can create an Ahnentafel List - defined as a numerical ancestral list in pedigree chart order, containing:

* Ahnentafel Number of the Father
* Name of the Father
* Birth date and location of the Father
* Death date and location of the Father
* Marriage date and location of the Father and Mother
* Ahnentafel Number of the Mother
* Name of the Mother
* Birth date and location of the Mother
* Death date and location of the Mother

The "Ahnentafel List" is one of the basic, standard lists that genealogists know and use to keep their ancestors in good order. I carry mine in my notebook that I take to the repositories to do research - with it, and other lists or reports, I can quickly figure out if the information in a source is about my ancestor or not.

All versions of Family Tree Maker, including FTM 2010, can create an "Ahnentafel Report," and the later versions can create a "Simple Ahnentafel Report." The screen below shows the "Genealogy Report" selections available in FTM 2010:

I created an "Ahnentafel Report" for myself in the screen below:

In the screen above, I selected only the name, birth, death and marriage dates and places. I was unable to deselect the children. In order for me to use this report as an Ahnentafel List, it requires me to edit the report and delete all of the children data plus some text in the Father and Mother sections.

The "Simple Ahnentafel Report" is shown below:

Again, the children are shown, plus the "More About Facts." This report does not satisfy my need for a simple "Ahnentafel List."

In years past, I've edited the FTM file to obtain the Ahnentafel Lists for my Father and my Mother - the edited list for my Father (no children) comes out at about 50 pages long (it started out as over 300 pages long, and took hours to edit out all of the stuff). Now, I transfer my database to RootsMagic 4 or Legacy Family Tree 7 and create an Ahnentafel List, save it to my hard drive, and print it out when I need to.

I know that other researchers need to make an Ahnentafel List, so rather than complain about it solely in this blog post, I filled out an "Enhancement Request" on the Family Tree Maker Support page with my suggestion on how to improve the situation:

Maybe that will get some attention from the FTM software developers. I mentioned it to them verbally when I visited last January, and again at the SCGS Jamboree in June and FGS Conference in September.

It's not as if this is hard to do - it is much simpler than creating an Ahnentafel Report. All of the elements are just like the Ahnentafel Report - they just need to add check boxes to select listing of children and listing of Facts other than birth, marriage and death.

[OK - rant off. There - I feel better!]

Found a Family Home on Google...

I love to Google... and am often surprised by what I find. I Googled my address today, and found the site which has information about my house and the others on my street - when last purchased, how much, assessed value, size of lot, size of house, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, etc. I Googled other addresses too...

When I put "2130 Fern St" and "San Diego" in the search field, one of the sites that came up was a Vacation Rentals site. It appears that they've turned the little house on Fern Street, that my grandparents built in 1920, and sold in about 1950, into a vacation rental. For $120 a night, anybody can rent the place out and enjoy living in the middle of San Diego. It has only one bedroom and one bathroom, but sleeps four somehow.

Here are some screen shots from the Vacation Rentals site for 2130 Fern Street:

They "lie" a little bit here in claiming that it's only five minutes from the Zoo and downtown, and 10 minutes to the beaches on Coronado. Maybe as a fast crow flies. Driving it takes a bit longer!

The top upper-left photo above is of the entrance to the house, and the other photos show the nicely appointed living areas.

The bottom-right photo on the screen above shows, I think, the back door area. It looks like there is a covered patio in the back yard.

Do you know what the house your ancestors built or lived in looks like now? Have you driven by the old homestead recently? I did several weeks ago, and took some pictures.

My biggest surprise is the size of this house - about 700 square feet. I thought that it was bigger than that. My grandparents had only one daughter, my mother, but they also housed my great-grandmother, Georgianna (Kemp) Auble, for many years. I wonder if my mother and great-grandmother slept in the same room? I seem to recall my mother telling me that, but cannot clearly recall it.

I really want to go take a look inside this house sometime. I have no real memories of it, since I was only seven when it was sold. However, this is probably the house where I learned to walk, talk and go potty, among other things. My grandmother watched me while my mother taught school. We moved to our own apartment (at 2116 Fern Street, next door!) in late 1945 after my father came home from the US Navy. Ah, memories.

Advent Calendar: Day 22 - Christmas Tree Ornaments

On the twenty-second day of Christmas,
My super-wifey says to me
It's time to decorate the beautiful Tree!

Did your family have heirloom or cherished ornaments? Did you ever string popcorn and cranberries? Did your family make ornaments?

I really don't remember many heirloom or cherished ornaments from my childhood. Almost all of the ornaments were small or medium sized round glass balls of varied colors. We usually applied a lot of tinsel to the tree branches.

As school children, we brought home paper chains for the tree. Sometimes we had a popcorn string, but never cranberries. I don't think we made ornaments - we were boys! We did have some of Dorothy's home-made ornaments on our trees.

When we had children, my mother made Christmas ornaments for each of her grandchildren. Each was unique and incorporated angels into the design. They were kiln-fired enamels on flat copper plate. Each had the child's name and the year on it. These were given featured places on our family Christmas trees as my kids grew up. After my mother died, and as my daughters started their families, we gave them to our daughters as a Christmas gift. Each has chosen to display them year round in a case on the wall rather than put them on their Christmas trees.

Originially published on 1 December 2007.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Are There Errors in the Social Security Death Index?

I was searching through the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) this morning and ran across someone born 16 July 1810. And with a reported death date of July 1911.

A little more checking showed the same item in the SSDI on,, and

A little more searching on the database showed:

* 33 persons born in 1800 (check out Margara Morales - she died in 1987!)
* 21 persons born in 1810
* 22 persons born in 1820
* 26 persons born in 1830

There were no entries with a birth date before 1800.

According to the GenealogyBank database, where you can input a birth year range, there are 998 entries for birth dates before 1830, with the earliest in 1800. And there are 1,816 entries for deaths before 1936. Admittedly, these are small errors - 2,814 obviously mis-keyed entries out of about 85 million entries. About 0.0033% - or one in every 30,000 entries.

The errors are probably inevitable. And it looks like some of them have been corrected - there is another entry for Margara Morales with a birth date of 31 June 1898 instead of 1800 (another error there, of course, June has 30 days) with the same death date and location.

Since Social Security numbers were first applied for in the 1937 time frame, almost all of the listings for a birth date before 1830 must be errors. And most of the deaths reported before 1937 must be errors, since the persons should not have had Social Security numbers. What about the 118,950 deaths reported between 1937 and 1950, and maybe even up to 1962? Are they all correct, or are they keying errors also? Undoubtedly, some of them are correct, but many may be erroneous.

There are some cases where the birth and death date are approximately the same and before 1950 - for instance, Samuel N. McNutt is listed as born on 8 October 1950 and died the same day, and he has an SSN issued in Maryland. These are probably not correct - the death date is probably keyed incorrectly as the birth date. A check of newspaper obituaries would probably correct the discrepancy.

The point here is that we researchers cannot rely on the Social Security Death Index as the sole source for a birth date or a death date - we need to find other sources with primary information (if possible). The SSDI is a wonderful finding aid, and leads us to the SS-5 application.

The SS-5 application is often used as a "gateway document" leading us to information about birth date, birthplace, parents names, location and occupation when they applied, etc. The application itself is an "original source" (created by someone with knowledge of their identity) with both "primary information" (the name, residence, location) and "secondary information" (birth date, birthplace, parents names).

Have you obtained the SS-5 application for your family members? If not, you might consider requesting it and perusing the information on it for more leads to earlier generations.

For the record, seems to have the best search field capabilities and permits wild cards, and permit wild card entries and will write a request letter for you, and permits wild cards and the user can create a Footnote Page for each individual for stories, photographs, and additional data.

(Not So) wordless Wednesday - Family Photographs: Post 82 - Seaver Christmas Tree

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 the box of loose photographs given me by my mother between 1988 and 2002:

This photograph is from Christmas 1970 (I think) and was taken in the living room of the Seaver home at 2119 30th Street in San Diego. The people shown are my father, Frederick Seaver (age 58 at the time), my brother Scott (age 15 at the time) and my mother Betty (age 51 at the time). This was my first year to be married, and I don't have digitized pictures of my first Christmas together with Linda.

From the mid-1960s on, my parents bought white flocked trees at the Christmas tree lots around town. My mother, ever the artiste, enjoyed decorating them. My father and my brother, ever the chow-hounds, just enjoyed the Christmas goodies and the gifts!

Advent Calendar: Day 23 - Holiday Food

On the 23rd Day of Christmas,
My Angel Linda gives to me
Turkey, mashed potatoes, and peas.

1) Did your family have any traditional dishes for the holidays?

Our Christmas dinner (sometimes on Christmas Eve, sometimes on Christmas Day) in San Diego was always turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, peas, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and mince pie. I doubt that I had anything else when I was a child and young adult, at least at my parents or grandparents homes.

After I was married and we visited San Francisco, Linda's parents had one more item - creamed onions.

When my family has Christmas dinner now (us, my brothers, our kids and grandkids), we have - guess what - turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, dressing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. It rarely changes!

2) Was there one dish that you thought was unusual?

For me, it was the creamed onions in San Francisco.

3) Not on Tom's question list, but ... I just have to share it, because it was associated so closely with the dinner.

The absolute highlight of the Christmas dinner was the family competition that followed the meal, but before the dessert. The game was "toss the pea into the glass." In the beginning, it was just my dad and the three boys. There were always leftover peas, so one of us would commandeer the pea bowl and pass peas to the other contestants. Then we would spread out around the table and set up our water glass at equal distances from each other.

The game was to see who could toss the most peas in the water glass opposite them. Of course, the misses weren't contained on top of the table. And the misses were greeted by howls of laughter and derision. Those who put their pea in the glass, shouted out the number of peas they had made so far.

My mother, my wife and the other females would withdraw and not watch, but often commented about "boys being boys." My mother really didn't like this game, and I think she intentionally made fewer peas each year.

To try to assuage her anger and keep family peace, the game has devolved to throwing wadded up paper napkins into the glass or cup. My competitive daughters, and now my sons-in-law (and I'm sure it won't be long before the grandchildren) all participate in the Betty Seaver Memorial Pea Toss - but using napkins in deference to her wishes.

This post was originally published on 3 December 2007.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Orphans of two kinds

The topic of the 85th Carnival of Genealogy is "Orphans and Orphans." The first type of orphan refers to those ancestors or relatives who lost their parents when they were young. The second type of orphan would be those siblings or cousins of our ancestors who could be called “reverse orphans.” They are the relatives who, for whatever reason – death at a young age, never having married or had children, or having children who did not survive to provide descendants – have no direct descendants of their own, so it falls to us, their collateral relatives, to learn and write their story.

Part 1 - they lost their parents

I know of at least one orphan (of sorts) in my family tree. He is, of course, Devier James Lamphear alias Smith - who I have discussed in these posts:

* Stymied on Devier J. Lamphear Smith problems

* Resolving an Evidence Conflict - Post 2: The Evidence

In short, Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith of Henderson, Jefferson County, New York adopted Devier J. Lamphear (may be Lamphier, Lamphere, Lanphear, Lanfear, Lanphier, Lanphere, etc.) beforem oving to Dodge County, wisconsin in about 1843. Devier J. Lamphier legally changed his name to Devier J. Smith on 21 March 1866, and went by that name for all of his life. I have been unable to track down his birth parents to date, although I have some decent candidates in the children of William Lanfear and Isaac Lanfear, both of Lorraine, Jefferson County, New York. One of their sons may be Devier's father, or one of their daughters may have had Devier out of wedlock.

The unfortunate part of finding out about Devier being adopted by the Smiths is that it took away a fascinating Hudson River Dutch ancestry of Mary Bell through her mother, Cornelia Bresee. I worked several years on that, and now it sits dormant in my database without a connection to my family tree.

Type 2 - the ones that died young

My aunt Marion, Aunt Geraldine and Uncle Ed never failed to remind me that there were children in our ancestral families that died young, including:

* Clarence Hildreth (born 24 May 1874, died 21 February 1878), son of Edward and Sophia (Newton) Hildreth of Leominster, MA. Clarence was the only sibling of Harriet Louise (Hildreth) Seaver, my great-grandmother. The Massachusetts Vital Records entry (Volume 303, Page 345) for his death says the cause was "Ac. poisoning." I wonder if that means "acute poisoning," "accidental poisoning" or some other type of poisoning? There is a listing down the page for "Ac. drowning" so it probably means "Accidental poisoning." I don't have a picture of Clarence Seaver.

* Howard Edward Seaver (born 8 August 1893, died 10 April 1900), son of Frank Walton and Hattie (Hildreth) Seaver, my great-grandparents. Clarence was a sibling of Frederick Walton and Harry Clifton Seaver. The Massachusetts Vital Records entry (Volume 506, Page 389) lists the cause of death as "meningitis from disease of middle ear." I don't have a picture of Howard Seaver.

* Stanley Richmond Seaver (born 20 October 1905, died 24 April 1910), son of Frederick Walton and Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver of Leominster and Fitchburg MA, my grandparents. Stanley was a brother of my father, Frederick Walton Seaver (1911-1983), who named his second son after him. The Massachusetts Vital Records (Volume 43, Page 70) for 1910 says that Stanley Richmond Seaver died of "scarlet fever" on 24 April 1910, age 5. I have a picture of him here.

Finally, there is Devier David Carringer (born 19 August 1889, died 10 May 1890), son of Henry Austin and Della (Smith) Carringer, my great-grandparents. Devier was the only sibling of my grandfather, Lyle Lawrence Carringer. I posted a picture and the death card of Devier here.

CVGS "Heirloom Discovery Day" Highlights

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society "Heirloom Discovery Day" program was last Wednesday with Georgie Stillman, ASA, as our superb heirloom appraisal expert.

The heirlooms presented by eleven of our members are summarized in "Heirloom Discovery Day" Program Highlights - 11/25 and pictures of five of the heirlooms and their presenters are in Some Heirloom Photos from Georgie Stillman program.

The CVGS events for December are listed in Genealogy Days in Chula Vista - December 2009 .

Advent Calendar: Day 24 - The Christmas Tree

This post is number 1 in a series of 24 for the 2009 Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

On the 24th Day of Christmas,
I'm supposed to talk about the Christmas Tree.

Did you have a real tree, or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree?

When I was a kid ... we always had a real tree, but a dead one. My folks would get it from a tree lot somewhere. The tree was usually 6 to 7 feet tall, and was almost always a Douglas Fir. I think we had several flocked trees over the years.

The tree was set up in the "cubby-hole" at 2119 30th Street in San Diego - the upstairs flat. It was visible from the street. I think my dad attached the tree stand, and strung the lights - they were multi-colored bulb lights on a continuous string - if one went out, they all went out. My mom would put most of the ornaments on the tree, especially the "nice" ones that were up at the top where little boys couldn't touch them. Then she had a gauzy white covering to put over the tree stand.

The "cubby-hole" was out of the traffic areas of the living room, but it was highly visible to anybody in the living room. If one of we boys were caught shaking, feeling up or opening the wrapped gift boxes, there were threats made about taking them back to the store.

There were other Christmas trees in my life as a kid. My grandparents always set up a tall Douglas Fir in their living room - in the corner by the window looking out toward the Bay. We went there for Christmas Eve because they had a fireplace (made sense - Santa could visit us much better - although he never neglected us at 2119).

The other Christmas Tree was at cousin Dorothy's house in Kensington. Dorothy was my dad's first cousin - her mother Emily (Richmond) Taylor was my father's mother's sister. Dorothy was an artist, and always had a non-traditional tree. Not an evergreen - usually a manzanita bush without leaves, or some other hand-cut bush or tree. She decorated this tree with hand-made ornaments of her own design. My mother always loved the originality, to we boys (including my dad), this wasn't really a Christmas Tree.

A side note: I'm going to concentrate in these posts on my childhood, rather than on my married family times, or the current post-children years. My goal in writing these is to be able to provide a nice collection of memories so that my children and grandchildren can read them if they are interested.

Note: This post was originally written on 30 November 2007. It has been edited slightly.

"Find My Family" on ABC-TV

Did you watch the new ABC-TV series, "Find My Family" last night? I saw a reference to it at 8:59 p.m. and was in front of my TV at 9:01 p.m.

In last night's episode, two cases were solved that both featured adopted children trying to find their birth families. In the first case, titled "Wonder Moment," Ashley, adopted at birth, was reunited with the brother she knew existed, and the younger sister that she didn't know about. The show researchers found Ashley's family by searching Ohio birth records - first for Ashley, listed with no name in the index, but with an uncommon mother's surname, and they found the other two children with the same surname, contacted them and the match was made. Pretty basic research, but effective. The match would have been impossible if the surname had been more common.

In the second case, titled "Mom Moment," Jamie, a single mother of three, meets her birth mother, June, after a long search for June in the online directories. The case was solved by checking all of the places June lived and finding someone in the neighborhood that knew where she lived.

Both cases were heavy on the dramatics, the tears, and the joy of the reunions. The reunions take place on a small hill under a large "family tree" - kind of hokey, but good visuals. The people then sit and talk on a bench under the tree to get to know each other. Eventually, they meet the extended family.

Both subjects in last night's episode had searched for years in online resources, but without success. Little time was spent on the actual search for the relatives. It is difficult to tell how long the search took, and if resources unavailable to "normal" genealogists were made available.

This is a reality show, and in prime time, but was only bought for six episodes. The first episode was last week, and I missed it.

If this type of program interests you, then tune in next Monday evening to ABC-TV at 9 p.m. EST/MST/PST, 8 p.m. CST.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday Genealogy Specials

Today is supposed to be the biggest online shopping day of the year. Here are some genealogy-related specials for your shopping pleasure - for the genealogist that just needs to have everything!

* Footnote has a $39.95 one-year subscription Cyber-Monday special here. Good only on 30 November. Retail price is $79.95 for one year.

* Michael John Neill has a Casefile Clues subscription for $12 on Cyber-Monday here. Good only on 30 November.

* Leland Meitzler's Family Roots Publishing has Cyber-Monday specials on many titles here. Good through 30 November.

* OneGreatFamily has a Cyber-Monday special of $59.95 for one-year, plus two free months, here. Good through 30 November. Regular annual membership is $79.95.

* Lisa Louise Cooke is offering discounts on her Genealogy Gems book and Premium Channel here, through 30 November.

Diane Haddad on the Family Tree Magazine blog listed several other deals here, which I just saw as I wrote this post.

Getting Help for Family Tree Maker 2010

There are two places that a Family Tree Maker 2010 user can get instructions for using the program or obtain help to answer questions or solve problems.

The first place is within Family Tree Maker 2010 itself - on the Help menu item shown in every workspace. When a user clicks on the "Help" menu item, a window opens with a Welcome screen, and tabs for Contents, Index and Search are in the left-hand sidebar:

Using the "Help" menu, a user can usually find an answer to a specific question or step-by-step directions to perform an operation.

The second place to obtain help and instruction is from the Family Tree Maker website at If you click on the "Support" tab on the top menu of the site, you get the "Getting Help with Family Tree Maker" page:

There are an umber of links on this page to different FTM helps. For instance, the Getting Started Guide to Family Tree Maker 2010 link provides a PDF file (for downloading) with directions to begin your first Family Tree Maker project and master the program’s basic features:

The Knowledge Base link provides a long list of articles with up-to-date information about Family Tree Maker and related products and services:

If a user clicks on one of the articles listed, or an article found by using a Search query, the article provides detailed information about the subject. for instance, here is the article titled Uploading my file from Family Tree Maker to

Back on the FTM Support page, there is a "Tutorials" link in the left-hand sidebar for Family Tree Maker 2010, which lists eight different video tutorials:

Another link on the left-hand sidebar is titled "Webinars." Clicking on this link takes you to the Webinar page specifically for Family Tree Maker (all recent variants):

Webinars are, when they are online live, interactive with the speakers discussing and showing a presentation, and the online audience can ask questions and participate in surveys. After the event, any user can hear and view the webinar content by registering to do so.

What if you have a question that you cannot find help for, or have a great idea for a new feature or capability for Family Tree Maker? Well, you can click on the "Enhancement Requests" link on the "Support" page. When you do this, you see a form that requests your email address, your idea or problem, and a description of your problem or idea:

The Family Tree Maker "Support" Page also has links for getting help with earlier Family Tree Maker versions, including FTM 2009, FTM 2008, and FTM Versions 2005, 2006 and 16 (the earlier versions that are completely different from FTM 2008/2009/2010). There are no visible links to even earlier versions of Family Tree Maker.

However, the Family Tree Maker Software Message Board on Rootsweb/Ancestry, and the Using Family Tree Maker message board on Genforum, have thousands of queries from users and responses from other users and FTM volunteers for most of the earlier and current versions of Family Tree Maker.

Lastly, Russ Worthington has the Family Tree Maker User blog that shows FTM 2010 features and functions.

Why is Genealogy Software so Complex?

One of my society colleagues recently told me:

"All I want is a software program that lets me input my names, dates, places, notes, sources and photos so that I can organize my genealogy research. Then I want to be able to make nice charts, print out genealogy lists and reports, and upload my family tree to Why do they have to make this so hard?"

It sounds so simple, doesn't it? Just a database. Oh, I want all of these features. And I want to be able to share it.

Having written some engineering software a long time ago, I know that "it isn't really that easy!" I marvel at the capabilities of all of the available genealogy software programs - they have not only the features that my colleague wanted, but almost everything that you and I, and the other million or so genealogy software users, want! Is it any wonder that genealogy software is so complex?

Genealogy software is very complicated these days because the genealogy industry is so competitive - each company wants to offer a complete suite of features, and a new capability from one program is often in later versions of the other programs. Also, genealogy research can be extremely complex (think about multiple and preferred facts, hundreds of source types, multiple spouses, adoptions, DNA, same-sex, LDS ordinations, etc.) - and the software programs need to include all possible capabilities so as to attract as many customers as possible.

Consequently, the software has been designed to satisfy the needs of beginners and professionals alike, and most commercial programs have advanced features in order to be competitive and to satisfy all of their users. In general, they all succeed at adding features and being competitive.

However, the users are often befuddled by a genealogy program and its capabilities. After the software installation on your computer, whether from CDROM or downloading from the Internet, how do you start inputting data? Some users have GEDCOM files available, or the new software permits an upload of an existing database from another program. But beginning researchers have to start somewhere, with Person #1. And then spouse, children, parents, grandparents, and on and on until they have built their family tree out to, perhaps, thousands of persons with facts, notes and sources.

Where do they find help to get them started, and to help them input data correctly? The answer is twofold - every software program has a Help item or tab on their menus, and most programs have online Help features.

In other posts, I will provide links and some detail about the Help features of Family Tree Maker 2010, Legacy Family Tree 7 and RootsMagic 4. These are the three programs that I am somewhat familiar with and that many researchers currently use. Earlier versions of these software programs have similar Help functions, but the online support may not be as extensive as it is for the three programs noted above.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

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

Hundreds of 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:

* 19th and 21st Century Culture Clash in Middle America by Bernie Gracy on the HistoricalTownMaps Blog. Bernie and his son took a road trip and they both learned some history.

* Day One Grandma's Genie Camp, Day Two Grandma's Geni 101 Class, Day 3 of Grandma's Genie Camp, and Day 4 --- Grandma's Genie Camp by Ruth on the Genealogy is Ruthless Without Me blog. Ruth set a great example for genealogy grandparents this week - read all of these posts!

* Digitized Records Not Just for Mormons by the writer of The Ancestry Insider blog. Mr. AI sets his correspondents straight about access to the LDS New FamilySearch and Family History Centers.

* Dad Memorial Scanfest, part 2: How we used the images by Susan A. Kitchens on the Family Oral History Using Digital Tools blog. Susan recounts her efforts to put together a memorial for her father -a wonderful example of what can be done.

* Computer Tricks 3 – Naming Electronic Files by Natalie Cottrill on The ProGenealogists(R) Blog. I really like Natalie's naming conventions - wonder how long it will take me to rename all of my images?

* Resources for PDF by Thomas MacEntee on the Geneabloggers blog. Thomas provides links to some tools to work with PDF files.

* Going to the Source by Daniel Hubbard on the Personal Past Meditations - A Genealogical Blog. Daniel has an interesting article about non-conventional sources and their importance.

* An End to File Cabinet Genealogy by Thomas Fiske on Leland Meitzler's GenealogyBlog blog. Tom is thinking ahead about how we save all of our genealogy work, and who saves it.

* How to find Native American Heritage by Amy Crooks on the Untangled Family Roots blog. I really appreciate Amy's post because I've had similar queries and have been unable to respond well.

* A Big Appetite, He must have loved Thanksgiving! by Heather Wilkinson Rojo on the Nutfield Genealogy blog. Here's a fascinating story about one of Heather's relatives, and her research of his life.

* Talking Turkey: Family history holiday by Schelly Talalay Dardashti on the Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog. Schelly's has a classic Thanksgiving turkey story - don't miss this one!

* Evolution of my Slovak Research by Martin Hollick on The Slovak Yankee blog. I am fascinated by the process of how researchers get back to the "old country" - Martin tells his story.

* Indexes are hearsay by James Tanner on the Genealogy's Star blog. James has excellent advice for all researchers about using indexes only as finding aids.

* WAXING POETIC ABOUT GENEALOGY: THE GREAT AMERICAN LOCAL POEM GENEALOGY CHALLENGE by Bill West on the West in New England blog. Bill created this one-time carnival - 15 writers responded - please read them all, a fine collection.

* What's In A Name? Open To the Possibilities by Caroline M. Pointer on the Family Stories blog. Caroline thinks it's a good idea to keep track of given names in the family - excellent advice.

* Taking Them from Names to People by Miles Meyer on the Miles' Genealogy Tips blog. Miles shows how he turned basic genealogy data into family history for one of his great-grandfathers. Well put, and well done.

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! I am currently reading posts from over 540 genealogy bloggers using Bloglines, but I still miss quite a few it seems.

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here.