Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Conversation with David E. Rencher - Part 4

This is the fourth and last post in a series that transcribes parts of my telephone conversation on 21 April with David E. Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer for Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here and Part 3 is here.

In the last five minutes of our conversation, I raised a question about GenSeek, the FamilyLink application to digitize the Family History Library Catalog (and other repository and online resources). David is not responsible for that application, and did not know the status of the project.

We talked briefly about the NGS Conference, and David said that I should not miss Jay Verkler's Opening Session presentation about "From the Granite Mountain to the Ends of the World." I noted that there are so many excellent speakers and topics that I'm wondering when I'll have time to sleep, and David's response was "Sleep is overrated." We signed off with my hope that we could meet in person in Salt Lake City next week.

I really enjoyed this conversation with David. Audio-taping it with my Olympus Voice Recorder made the call easier on me - I didn't have to take notes in order to recall what was said.

Transcribing the tape was not easy. We all speak around 80 to 100 words a minute, but I can type only 30 to 40 words a minute and can recall only 10 to 15 seconds of dialogue at a time, so transcribing this was a chore. I tried to capture the essence of what was said using our words, but eliminated the pauses, false starts and some extraneous words (many of them mine!). If I misinterpreted anything David said, it is my error, and I hope that he will contact me with corrections. Also, if he wants to add something to certain comments (extend the record, as they say in Congress), I will be happy to publish them.

David is very communicative and responsive, and speaks in complete sentences (one of my problems - I sometimes don't type in complete sentences!). I am sure that a written response to my questions and comments would have been more succinct, but that wasn't the opportunity here.

I will try to capture more of my thoughts about what David said in another post when I have time to gather my thoughts. I'm looking forward to hearing one of David's talks at NGS next week.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - FREE 1930 Census Data

Hey genea-fanatics - it's Saturday Night, time for more Genealogy Fun!!

What can be more fun than finding records online for FREE? Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1) Go to Pick one of your ancestral family members that was in the 1930 US Census and search for that person. The 1930 US Census is FREE through the end of April on Are you a Footnote member already? Fine. If you are not, you will need to register to access the 1930 census, but they will not ask you for a credit card.

2) When you find the census image with your ancestral family member, figure out how to see the source citation (Hint: click the "About image" link): figure out how to Download the Image; figure out how to Print the image.

3) Extra credit: Can you create a Footnote Page for your family person? Footnote Pages are a way to create a page for a specific person and add family information, including facts, photographs and stories, to the Page to share with the world. (Hint: remember that popup box before you saw the census image? That's where you do it. Click on the "I'm Related" link, fill in the information, upload a picture if you want, and click on the person's name to create the Footnote Page.)

4) What other family members do you need to find on the 1930 US Census?

5) Tell us about your Fun - in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a comment on Facebook.

Here's mine:

Well, I tried to upload some images but Blogger is not cooperating. I'll try again later.

I registered for a free account using one of my email addresses.

I searched for and found my great-grandfather, Henry A. Carringer (1853-1946) residing with his wife and mother-in-law in San Diego, San Diego County, California on page 1-A, ED 37-116, NARA Series T626, Roll ??? (it doesn't provide the roll number! How dumb is that?).

I created a Footnote Page for Henry A. Carringer based on the 1930 US Census information. I could have added more photos, more facts, more family stories, and links to other information about Henry.

I realized I did not have a 1930 census record for Henry Carringer's brother, Harvey Carringer who also resided in San Diego. I went looking for one, and could not find it on either or No wonder I didn't have it!

Surname Saturday - UNDERHILL (MA > NH > NY)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ahnentafel list each week. I'm up to number 53, who is the mother of Devier James Lamphear Smith. Unfortunately, I do not know who the parents of Devier are, so I will move on to Number 55!

Number 55 in my Ahnentafel is Mary Ann Underhill (ca 1815-after 1880).

My ancestral line back through the five generations of my Underhill ancestral families:

1. Randall J. Seaver

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

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

12. Henry Austin Carringer (1853-1946)
13. Abbie Ardell Smith (1864-1944)

26. Devier James Lamphear Smith (1839-1894)
27. Abigail A. Vaux (1844-1931)

54. Samuel Vaux, born before 11 February 1816 in South Petherton, Somerset, ENGLAND, and died Aft. 1880 in prob. Marshall County, KS. He was the son of 108. James Vaux and 109. Mary Palmer. He married before 1839 in Aurora, Erie County, NY.
55. Mary Ann Underhill, born About 1815 in Aurora, Erie County, NY; died Aft. 1880 in prob. Marshall County, KS.

110. Amos Underhill, born 15 April 1772 in Chester, Rockingham County, NH; died 15 October 1865 in Aurora, Erie County, NY. He married 25 March 1801 in Piermont, Grafton, NH.
111. Mary/Polly Metcalf, born about 1780 in Piermont, Grafton County, NH; died before 1860 in Aurora, Erie County, NY. She was the daughter of 222. Burgess Metcalf and 223. Jerusha.

Children of Amos Underhill and Mary Metcalf are: Cyrus Metcalf (1804-1841); James Pierce (1809-1884); Almeda (1813-1859); Mary Ann (ca 1815-ca 1880); Frederick (1820-????)

220. John Underhill, born 20 June 1745 in Chester, Rockingham County, NH; died 1816 in Plainfield, Sullivan County, NH. He married 1767 in NH.
221. Hannah Colby, born 14 February 1744/45 in Amesbury, Essex County, MA. She was the daughter of 442. Joseph Colby and 443. Abigail Worthen.

Children of John Underhill and Hannah Colby are: Joseph (1770-1843); Amos (1772-1865); Nancy (1774-????); John (1776-1858); Susan (1778-????); Jonathan (1779-1875).

440. John Underhill, born 16 March 1720/21 in Salisbury, Essex County, MA; died 31 July 1793 in Chester, Rockingham County, NH. He married 21 October 1741 in Chester, Rockingham County, NH.
441. Joanna Healey, born 29 July 1718 in Hampton Falls, Rockingham County, NH; died August 1809 in Chester, Rockingham County, NH. She was the daughter of 882. William Healey and 883. Mary Samborne.

Children of John Underhill and Joanna Healey are: Betty (1742-1806); William (1744-1780); John (1745-1816); Molly (1747-1835); Moses (1749-1838); David (1751-1827); Samuel (1752-1828); Jeremiah (1755-1794); Sarah (1759-1838); Joanna (1764-????).

880. Sampson Underhill, born about 1692 in ENGLAND; died before 27 March 1732 in Chester, Rockingham County, NH. He married 15 January 1717/18 in Salisbury, Essex County, MA.
881. Elizabeth Ambrose, born 02 October 1698 in Salisbury, Essex County, MA; died before 1782 in NH. She was the daughter of 1762. Nathaniel Ambrose and 1763. Sarah Eastman.

Children of Sampson Underhill and Elizabeth Ambrose are: John (1721-1793); Jeremiah (1724-????); Moses (1726-1804); Hezekiah (1727-1800);

Are any readers, or searchers, descended from any of these Underhill families? If so, please let me know - email is

Friday, April 23, 2010

Devier J. Smith in 1880 Agricultural Census

... recently added more of the Non-Population U.S. Census Returns for the years 1850 to 1880 (see Ancestral Entrepreneurs: Details of 19th-Century Businesses Now on on the Blog for more details). The states covered include California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington Territory. The schedules covered include Agricultural, Industry/Manufacturers, and Social Statistics and Supplemental Schedules.

Are my ancestors in these non-population schedules? You bet! I decided to use the New Search (with Default Settings, not Exact Match) to try out the new schedules. I put First Name = "Devier" and Last Name = Smith" into the search box for the Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880, as shown below:

I had to scroll down to find the orange "Search" button (this still bothers me - it would be so much more efficient to put it at the top of the Search Box!). Here are the results from my "Ranked Search" with "Default Settings:"

Hey, Devier J. Smith is right at the top! And the only "Devier Smith" in this database. I need to search for "D.J. Smith" too - it may be further down this list of 54,060 matches that found in less than ten seconds for my search criteria (isn't that amazing? Your speed may vary!).

I know that he was enumerated in 1880 in Shannon township, Pottawatomie County, Kansas in 1880, so that's my great-great-grandfather. Here's the record summary:

It doesn't tell me much, does it? I clicked on the "View original image" link and found:

Devier J. Smith is on line 6 on this 1880 Agricultural Census record. For this particular census, they stacked four pages of information on one page, so all of the information for this group of people is together:

What are the column headings and the information for Devier J. Smith?

1. The Name of the Person who Conducts this Farm: Smith, Devier J.
2. Tenure: Owner: checked
3. Tenure: Rents for fixed money rental: Unchecked
4. Tenure: Rents for shares of products: Unchecked

5. Acres of land: Improved: Tilled (including fallow and grass in rotation): 40
6. Acres of land: Improved: Permanent meadows, orchards, pastures, vineyards: 0
7. Acres of land: Unimproved: Woodland and forest: 0
8. Acres of land: Unimproved: Other unimproved, including "old fields" not growing wood: 120

9. Farm Values: Of farm, including land, fences and buildings: $1600
10. Farm Values: Of farming implements and machinery: $200
11. Farm Values: Of livestock: $4000

12. Fences: Cost of building and repairing in 1879: $0
13. Cost of fertilizers purchased in 1879: $9

14. Labor: Amount paid for wages for farm labor in 1879, including value of board: $250
15. Labor: Weeks hired labor in 1879 upon farm (and dairy) excluding housework: $0
16. Estimated value of all farm productions (sold, consumed or on hand) for 1879: $1000

17. Grasslands: Average 1879: Mown: 150 acres
18. Grasslands: Average 1879: Not mown: 0 Acres
19. Grasslands: Products harvested in 1879: Hay: 1200 Tons
20. Grasslands: Products harvested in 1879: Clover seed: 0 Bushels
21. Grasslands: Products harvested in 1879: Grass seed0 Bushels

22. Horses of all ages on hand June 1, 1880: 15
23. Mules and Asses, all ages, on hand June 1, 1880: 0

24. Neat cattle and their products: On hand June 1, 1880: Working Oxen: 0
25. Neat cattle and their products: On hand June 1, 1880: Milch Cows: 20
26. Neat cattle and their products: On hand June 1, 1880: Other: 180
27. Neat cattle and their products: Movement 1879: Calves dropped:
28. Neat cattle and their products: Movement 1879: Cattle of all ages: Purchased: 0
29 Neat cattle and their products: Movement 1879: Cattle of all ages: Sold living: 0
30 Neat cattle and their products: Movement 1879: Cattle of all ages: Slaughtered: 0
31 Neat cattle and their products: Movement 1879: Cattle of all ages: Died, Strayed and stolen and not recovered: 0

32. Neat cattle and their products: Milk sold or sent to butter or cheese factories in 1879: 0 Gallons
33. Neat cattle and their products: Butter made on the farm in 1879: 0 Pounds
34. Neat cattle and their products:Cheese made on the farm in 1879: 0 Pounds

35. Sheep: On hand June 1, 1880: 0
36. Sheep: Movement 1879: Lambs dropped: 0
37. Sheep: Movement 1879: Sheep and lambs: Purchased: 0
38. Sheep: Movement 1879: Sheep and lambs: Sold living: 0
39. Sheep: Movement 1879: Sheep and lambs: Slaughtered: 0
40. Sheep: Movement 1879: Sheep and lambs: Killed by dogs: 0
41. Sheep: Movement 1879: Sheep and lambs: Died of disease: 0
42. Sheep: Movement 1879: Sheep and lambs: Died of stress of weather: 0
43. Sheep: Clip, spring 1880, Shorn and to be shorn: Fleeces: 0
44. Sheep: Clip, spring 1880, Shorn and to be shorn: Weight: 0 Lbs

45. Swine: On hand, June 1, 1880: 0

46. Poultry on hand June 1st, 1880: Exclusive of spring hatching: Barn-yard: 0
47. Poultry on hand June 1st, 1880: Exclusive of spring hatching:Other: 0
48. Eggs produced in 1879: 0

49. Cereals: Barley, 1879: Area: 0 Acres
50. Cereals: Barley, 1879: Crop: 0 Bushels
51. Cereals: Buckwheat, 1879: Area: 0 Acres
52. Cereals: Buckwheat, 1879: Crop: 0 Bushels
53. Cereals: Indian Corn, 1879: Area: 16 Acres
54. Cereals: Indian Corn, 1879: Crop: 800 Bushels
55. Cereals: Oats, 1879: Area: 20 Acres
56. Cereals: Oats, 1879: Crop: 500 Bushels
57. Cereals: Rye, 1879: Area: 0 Acres
58. Cereals: Rye, 1879: Crop: 0 Bushels
59. Cereals: Wheat, 1879: Area: 0 Acres
60. Cereals: Wheat, 1879: Crop: 0 Bushels

61. Pulse: Canada Peas (Dry), in 1879: 0 Bushels
62. Pulse: Beans (Dry), in 1879: 0 Bushels

63. Fiber: Flax - 1879: Area in Crop: 0 Acres
64. Fiber: Flax - 1879: Seed: 0 Acres
65. Fiber: Flax - 1879: Straw: 0 Acres
66. Fiber: Flax - 1879: Fiber: 0 Acres
67. Fiber: Hemp: 0 Acres
68. Fiber: Hemp: 0 Tons

69. Sugar: Sorghum - 1879: Area in Crop: 0 Acres
70. Sugar: Sorghum - 1879: Sugar: 0 Pounds
71. Sugar: Sorghum - 1879: Molasses: 0 Gallons
72. Sugar: Maple - 1879: Sugar: 0 Pounds
73. Sugar: Maple - 1879: Molasses: 0 Gallons

74. Broom Corn, 1879: 0 Acres
75. Broom corn, 1879: 0 Lbs.
76. Hops, 1879: Area: 0 Acres
77. Hops, 1879: Crop: 0 Lbs
78. Potatoes (Irish), 1879: Area: 1/16 Acres
79. Potatoes (Irish), 1879: Crop: 10 Bushels
80. Potatoes (Sweet), 1879: Area: 0 Acres
81. Potatoes (Sweet), 1879: Crop: 0 Lbs
82. Tobacco, 1879: 0 Acres
83. Tobacco, Crop: 0 Lbs

84. Orchards, 1879: Apple: Acres: 0 Acres
85. Orchards, 1879: Apple: Bearing Trees: None
86. Orchards, 1879: Apple: Bushels: 0 Bushels
87. Orchards, 1879: Peach: Acres: 0 Acres
88. Orchards, 1879: Peach: Bearing Trees: None
89. Orchards, 1879: Peach: Bushels: 0 Bushels
90. Orchards: Total value of all kinds sold or consumed, 1879: $0

91. Nurseries: Acres: 0 Acres
92. Nurseries: Value of produce sold in 1879: $0
93. Vineyards: Acres: 0 Acres
94. Vineyards: Grapes sold in 1879: 0 Pounds
95. Vineyards: Wine made in 1879: 0 Gallons

96. Market Gardens: Value of produce sold in 1879: $0
97. Bees- 1879: Honey: 0 Pounds
98. Bees - 1879: Wax: 0 Pounds
99. Forest Products: Amount of wood cut in 1879: 0 Cords
100. Forest Products: Value of all forest products sold or consumed in 1879: $0

As you can see, a researcher can learn an awful lot about their ancestor's farm if they are in the Agricultural Census!!!

Note: The Agricultural census form for other years is different from the one above.

A Conversation with David E. Rencher - Part 3

This is the third post in a series that transcribes parts of my telephone conversation on 21 April with David E. Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer for Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.

Part 3 continues with information about FamilySearch Indexing and online record access:

Randy Seaver (RS): Let's switch gears here. Family Search Indexing - you have many thousands of people working on that --

David Rencher (DR): Three hundred thousand --

RS: Wow, and you have 2.4 million microfilms and another million microfiches, how many of those microfilms can you do with copyright issues and that sort of thing?

DR: I'm glad you went straight to the heart of the issue. Most people do not understand. When we started microfilming in 1938, no one envisioned the digital era. Most of those contracts were never negotiated in that way. Where we've picked up one film here, a dozen films there, 150 films here, we have to go back and we have to look at those contracts, and, oftentimes, look at it from the standpoint of whether or not we have the digital rights to post those images. Things change over the years. We just have to be very careful - we don't want to do anything that would damage our reputation in the archival community, we don't want to do anything that would jeopardize any of those relationships. We are very earnest in trying to do all that we can to maintain good working relationships with the archives. When we post images, we want to make sure that we have the right permission to do that.

RS: So are you going to be able to do most of them? It seems to me that a lot of what you have, the ones really important to me - the ones with high genealogical value - the probate records, the land records, the vital records - they're before 1920 and of government origins, and I guess that the repositories that hold the originals would be ecstatic to have digital access.

DR: Right. There's a certain percent that fall in that category. There's a certain percent that we won't image - and it's because they are either duplicate copies of the same records, for instance, we have two copies of the 1870 U.S. census, and so there's no reason to digitize both copies, because we know that one was photographically far superior to the other one, which was why we re-imaged it in the first place.

Think about a set of probate records in the courthouse, for example. Think about the fact that there are probate records themselves, and the indexes for the probate records. If we're indexing the probate records from the originals, do we need to image the indexes? We may choose not to image the rolls of indexes, and therefore create our own index from the original records, which overcomes the problem of an entry being left out of the index. When we say that we will image a certain portion of the 2.4 million rolls, but there's a good chance that we won't image all of them - all of them may not be image-worthy.

RS: How do you choose which films to image and index at this point in time?

DR: Right now, we're trying to do what we determine to be the highest priority ones, and we're starting a little bit different approach than we've had in the past. In the past, there's been a number of records, and we were indexing records at a different level. Today we're thinking in terms of complete record sets. Can we create a complete record set for a particular area. One of the difficulties we used to have with the International Genealogical Index, once you'd searched it, you weren't quite sure what you had searched. So your next step was to go back, then, and try to determine, if I just searched for this marriage in Alabama, which marriages records have I not now searched by virtue of searching the IGI? That would drive then: "Oh, I need to search the marriage records for Sumter County, or Greene County, or Hale County." But you only knew that if you knew which records were not in the index to begin with. How much better it is if we can create a complete index that says "I've just searched all of the marriage records for Alabama." Now I know that if it's not there that there may be some other techniques and there may be some reasons, but at least I know with some certainty that I've pretty much covered the planet. Instead of taking more of a "swiss-cheese approach" we're taking a much more complete record approach. We're starting with the top tier records, until those are done, those basically are covering the bases. Until you get all of those covered, we're not going to move on into the more esoteric sources.

RS: Will more of the databases be put on the commercial sites like Footnote and Ancestry, and you have the indexes?

DR: We've worked very diligently with the other players in the community. We welcome all of the other players. We see what they are doing as a vital part of having a community of players. When you look at the deals that we do, where we may provide an index and point to images, we have to weigh that against "OK, if we were to just do that ourselves, how long would it be until we can get to that record?" As a user, would you rather have the indexes now, and point to an image that you may have to pay a small fee for. Or would you rather not have that data for ten years online? Those are kinds of the tradeoffs that most people don't see from the industry view point that we do, because we're looking at a lot of data.

RS: No kidding! Have you figured out how many images you have from all of those microfilms?

DR: Actually, we have. I believe the figure is around three billion.

RS: And there may be 50 to 100 names to be indexed on each image.

DR: You know, one of the films is going to be first, and one of them is going to be last. If we can come up with an interim solution that makes the data available to you more quickly, as a user wouldn't you rather have that than hold out for ten years just because we might put it up for free ten years from now. That doesn't really help your research much.

RS: If it's just the images, that's like scrolling through the microfilm down at the Family History Center, but dong it at home in your pajamas, that's the tradeoff. It's a lot easier to do it at home and capture the images.

There's one more segment that I will try to transcribe tomorrow.

What other questions should I have asked David about FamilySearch Indexing and putting imaged records online? Or what wasn't explained well? Please send comments - perhaps David will read them and respond to them either in Comments or via email to you or me.

Several of you have asked in email and comments about my own thoughts and reactions to what David Rencher has said in this interview. I will try to capture my own thoughts in a summary post after the last segment.

Follow Friday - the Blog

It's Follow Friday - time to highlight another genealogy blog or web site that I follow on a regular basis.

This week I chose the blog at

This blog has several authors - all employees of However, they blog about many of the products - the searchable databases, Family Tree Maker, DNA, ExpertConnect, and more.

In the past year or so, this blog has become much more communicative as has tried to increase their dialogue with readers and customers. It's not unusual for blog posts to have many comments from satisfied or disgruntled customers and readers, with a subsequent response from the blogger. These comments often provide me with information or ideas that help me understand the products.

If you are interested in new content, in search techniques, in Family Tree Maker capabilities, etc., then reading the blog will help you stay on top of the offerings.

Disclosure: I am not an employee, contractor or affiliate, and have not been remunerated for this post. I am a fully paid subscriber with a US Deluxe subscription to

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Filters are Working!

... announced earlier this week that new Name and Place Filters would be installed and available for use on their databases in these posts on the Blog:

* Preview of Changes to Search by Tony Macklin

* Ancestry Search: Name and Place Filters coming to New Advanced Search this week! by Anne Mitchell

* Ancestry Search: Place Filters on New Advanced Search by Anne Mitchell

These posts provide all of the detail about "what it is" and "what your choices are."

I checked this morning, and found that all of the described filters are in place and are working, seemingly well.

It's important to realize that these filters only work on New Search and on the Advanced Search screen in New Search. There are popup windows for details on the First Name Search and Last Name Search that explain the different terms - Default Search, Exact Search, and Exact Search with one or more of Soundex Variations, Phonetic Variations and Similar Variations.

I tested it on the 1880 US Census with my second great-grandfather, Isaac Seaver, and found:

* With Default Settings checked for both first and last names, I received 2,206 matches

* With Exact Search checked for both first and last names, I received 3 matches (including my guy)

* With Exact Search and Soundex Variations checked for both first and last names, I received 2,195 matches

* With Exact Search and Phonetic Variations checked for both first and last names, I received 1,610 matches

* with Exact Search and Similar Variations checked for both first and last names, I received 1,607 matches.

* with Exact Search for first name, and Default Settings for Last Name checked, I received 310 matches.

* with Exact Search for first name, and Exact Settings with Soundex Variations for Last Name checked, I received 306 matches.

* with Exact Search for first name, and Exact Settings with Phonetic Variations for Last Name checked, I received 16 matches.

* with Exact Search for first name, and Exact Settings with Similar Variations for Last Name checked, I received 14 matches.

Now I realize that Isaac Seaver isn't the hardest name to search, but I found it interesting to see what names the Default Settings returned (both first and last names), and the order in which they were listed:

* First Name = "Isaac" and Last Name = "Seaver" (3 matches)
* First Name = any with "I" in the first or middle name and Last Name = "Seaver" (9 matches)
* First Name = "Isaac" and Last Name = "Saver" (2 matches)
* First Name = "Isaac" and Last Name = "Saphra" (1 match)
* First Name = "Isaac" and Last Name = "Savory" (1 match)
* First Name = "Isaac" and Last Name = "Schaeffer" (10 matches)
* First Name = "Isaac" and Last Name = "Schafer" (2 matches)
* First Name = "Isaac" and Last Name = "Schaffer" (4 matches)
* First Name = "Isaac" and Last Name = "Schapare" (1 match)
* First Name = "Isaac" and Last Name = "Schauber" (3 matches)
* First Name = "Isaac" and Last Name = "Scheafer" (1 match)

.... and on in alphabetical order by Last Name - including Seeber, Seiber, Sever, Severe, Shaefer, Shaeffer, Shafer, Shaffer, Shapire, Shaver, etc. These are listed by birth year order for each name.

* First Name = "any name" and Last Name = "Seaver" (many matches)

The above ordering is interesting - you can use a similar search to see how the Search algorithms work if you have the time and patience to wade through all of the results.

I want to test this out with some of my known Carringer "interesting" indexed spellings to see if it catches them.

This change does make the search process even more complex on, and will probably increase the learning curve time for new users, but for experienced users it will probably improve the search results.

Based on this first testing, I think that these name filters will be very helpful and useful for all researchers. It may even make me change my former opinion that Old Search is superior to New Search. Of course, Old Search could disappear at any time chooses, and we "dinosaur searchers" will have to learn to use and enjoy New Search effectively.

A Conversation with David E. Rencher - Part 2

This is the second post in a series that transcribes parts of my telephone conversation on 21 April with David E. Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer for Part 1 is here.

Part 2 continues with more information about New FamilySearch:

Randy Seaver (RS): We're all spoiled by Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic, Legacy and Reunion, they all react really fast to input data. I can add ten people in five minutes, not with notes of course. Will the family tree aspect of New FamilySearch be able to match that speed?

David Rencher (DR): I don't know if it matches it, we'll certainly have the convention to do it. The beauty of it is that you can still use those products, and upload your data, so you can still choose to manage your data the way that you like. That to me is a big win - we don't force you down one particular path. If you still like all of the convention and the feature set and the experience that you use with a Legacy or RootsMagic, then you can continue to use that product and I'm sure that they will continue to add to that feature set, and continue to make it a better product. The beauty of it is that you can do both.

If you like the convention of the way we've set up our data entry, and you're comparing a Version 4, 5, 6 of an existing product to Version one of this product, our product will get better over time. We'll get the feedback, we'll go through the iteration cycles, and things will improve. Whether it will be comparable or not, it's like time testing turning on your phones - when you do the head-to-head test some of them turn on faster than others.

RS: The software folks are trying to find ways to synchronize to New FamilySearch, aren't they? If I add ten people to my database, and I already have 20,000 on New FamilySearch, I can go to the software and press a button and my ten new people, my four notes and my five sources, will go onto New FamilySearch.

DR: We've shared the code with them [the software companies] to make sure that they're compatible with the product. That's something that we wanted to ensure and it's not an exclusive with anybody. That's something we want to make sure is available and out there and if that's the way people want to choose to participate, then that's great with us.

RS: When can we expect the non-LDS members to have access? Is there a crystal ball there?

DR: I don't know that I have a crystal ball. From all accounts, I don't have a date. Hopefully, either later this year or early next year. We're hoping that it's soon. There are some things that I want to make sure that the known challenges and issues are identified, or that we have an answer for, they may or may not be fixed yet, but at least we can share the genealogical community that "yes, it is on our radar, yes we understand that it doesn't work exactly the way you want it to, and yes we are going to fix it." Those are the kinds of messages that we will have to make sure the people will understand, and that the people will withhold judgment on the "new baby" until it matures a little bit.

RS: There's always the maturity issue, isn't there? We've seen it on Ancestry and Footnote and the others. And your site too.

DR: We all remember those images painting across our screen at a slow rate.

RS: Technology is amazing. I look back ten years, and I look at what I was doing and how I was doing it. In ten years from now, it will be really impressive.

DR: Exactly. And whose crystal ball can predict?

RS: Will I as a non-LDS member be able to read all of the information for a person on New FamilySearch?

DR: All of the information except for the LDS ordinance data, there's no real reason to have that data. All of the genealogical information will be open to the public.

RS: Will I be able to contribute to it - to add content to a person?

DR: Absolutely. In fact, we welcome your content and your contributions. One of the things we want to do in a very collaborative nature is to reduce the amount of effort and duplication that people do on a particular research problem. If you and I work on the same problem, and you and I end up spending ten dollars a pop on the same vital record certificate, to the tune of six, eight or ten certificates, that's a lot of money that we could spend on something else for the same problem. So we really hope that people will collaborate and be able to do that. That's going to require a mindset change because as genealogists we are not used to having our data out there where virtually anybody can view it, share it, and contribute.

What happens today is that you and I get together, and we develop a relationship and I reach a point at which I say "I think I can trust Randy with my data" and therefore I will expand my little network here to include Randy and he's now one of my trusted confidants, and I'm confident in his research ability and his attention to detail, and he thinks like I do as far as approach, and now you're there.

In a Wikipedia approach to genealogy, if you will, that's a completely different world. In a collaborative environment where anybody can play, we don't have that gradual disclosure, the ability of bringing each one of those people into our trusted circle of confidants, one by one. So what we do instead is we monitor what's going on - a "watch this page" mentality which says "somebody just changed this data" and I get an email alert and I go and look at it and now I may agree or disagree with the change the person's made. If I disagree with it, the beauty of the collaborative nature of it is that I can immediately contact them and say "I'm curious, why did you do this, in this way?" They may say "Oh, I may have messed that up, did I mess that up?" "Yeah, you messed that up." In which case they may back out.

RS: So, it will be like a wiki environment, like WeRelate, or some of the others?

DR: It will be a collaborative effort in which we are working together to solve genealogical problems and share data. The beauty of it is that down the road, as we are able to add artifacts and other things, then the evidence is right there. Now when I have my source data, I can actually attach the artifact, and you can actually see the document, not just the reference of the source citation for the document.

The other thing that is going to smoke out is that you and I, right now what isn't transparent to us, is when you are working on, let's pick a common name, say John Williams; you go out and claim a record for the John Williams you are working on, and I claim the same record for the John Williams I am working on, even though they are two completely different people. That is masked right now, to us, because we don't see it unless we happen to read each other's work, and happen to notice that we both cited the same record. In a collaborative environment, when we go to attach the same record to two different parts of the pedigree, with two completely different identifiers, it's going to alert us, and so it will say "This John Williams record is already attached to this John Williams over here in the pedigree, are you sure you want to attach it?" Then we can suddenly pull back the covers and say "oh wow, we're both claiming the same guy." Isn't that kind of neat?

RS: And long term, you're providing a lot of those records with the Family Search Indexing of all the microfilms and all of the databases. It's been my view for years now that when you get the probates and the lands and the taxes and the vitals all imaged and indexed, that a lot of the brick walls are going to tumble.

DR: I think that's going to happen. The other thing that's going to happen is that from these types of pedigrees, we're going to be able to determine where the ends of the lines are, so we're going to be able to determine where people are stuck. When we can determine that, then we can determine as a community where to apply our resources, to figure that out, and figure out what the solution should be.

RS: So everything you've told me about this, it sounds just like what I saw on the Life Browser some years ago, when you had that on the Family Search Labs. I loved that, I loved the vision of it.

DR: The same guys that tested the Life Browser are the ones that are continuing to develop these, and Family Search Labs is there to be able to test concepts, and we gather feedback from people. That's what happens in this environment and it's really kind of neat.

In the next segment, we will discuss Family Search Indexing and more!

I'm curious - what other questions should I have asked David about New FamilySearch? Or what wasn't explained well? Please send comments - perhaps David will read them and respond to them either in Comments or via email to you or me.

Isn't collaboration wonderful?

Treasure Chest Thursday - Julia White's Death Record

It's Treasure Chest Thursday - time to find another jewel hiding in my genealogical treasure files on my computer.

One of the records I need to prove my ancestral line back to the 1620 Mayflower passengers (if I ever want to join the Mayflower Society) is the birth of Julia White in 1848 to Henry and Amy (Oatley) White. I have found no birth record for her, and the marriage record for "Juliette" White to Thomas Richmond in 1868 does not list her parents. I wrote to the Killingly, Connecticut Town Hall for a death record, and received this:

Her death record, as "Julliet Richmond," does list her parents as Henry White and Amy Oatley. It lists her cause of death as cancer of the breast, and her residence, at the time of her death, as 6 Church Street in Putnam, Connecticut (I don't think I knew that before). It lists her birthplace as East Killingly, Connecticut. The informant - her husband, Thomas Richmond - didn't know the birthplace of her father and mother.

Julia (White) Richmond was buried in Grove Street Cemetery in Putnam, Windham County, Connecticut. She is buried with her husband, Thomas Richmond and first son, Frederic (1870-1875) - the gravestone is shown here. More information about this couple is provided in my post Thomas Richmond (1848-1917) and Julia White (1848-1913).
The birth date and parents names in this "original source" death record are definitely "secondary information" and "direct evidence" - but it is the "best" and "most authoritative" record I have for those facts. This record agrees with the other records I have about Julia White's birth, from censsu records and her obituary.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Conversation with David E. Rencher - Part 1

I had the distinct honor and pleasure of talking by telephone to David E. Rencher, the Chief Genealogical Officer for You can read David's curriculum vitae and responsibilities in this blog post by The Ancestry Insider from about a year ago.

I audio-taped our 30 plus minute conversation, and will transcribe some of David's responses (with his permission) to my questions about in a series of blog posts in the next few days. I listened to David's interview with Dick Eastman that Dick posted on my Monday to his Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter - the post was titled Podcast: An Interview with David Rencher about the NGS Conference in Salt Lake City and dealt mostly with the upcoming NGS Conference.

I wanted to focus on what's happening with, and especially with New FamilySearch and Family Search Indexing. Unfortunately, my time ran out before I could ask about the Record Search databases and the Family Search Wiki.

Here is a segment from our discussion about New FamilySearch:

Randy Seaver (RS): Has New FamilySearch been rolled out to all of the LDS Stakes now?

David Rencher (DR): The rollout to the LDS audience has been completed. First and foremost, New FamilySearch is a way that LDS members can submit names for Temple Ordinances, so it's an evolving process. It really began in earnest back when we were able to mount the International Genealogical Index to compact disks. That was really the gateway to be able to distribute the names clearance function out to members. With the advent of that system, we were able to allow members to clear names at a local Family History Center or a church or ward building near them.

New FamilySearch takes that now the next step further. Now we can extend it beyond the borders of the Family History Center circulation and operation and we can move it all the way into the home. We're taking such a unique different approach to New FamilySearch. with a pedigree approach to clearing names, it gives us more identifiers, and we think the advantage to having more identifiers, meaning with more family names and things of that nature, that it will decrease the duplication of work and effort and we'll actually be able to collapse some of those pedigrees that have multiple names and representations of the same individual.

That said, the basis for doing that creates a pedigree system that, taken to the next level, given appropriate source citations and dealing with the data in a way that genealogically makes sense. That's a program that we believe the general public will want to use as well. Of course the jury is still out, because we haven't released it to the general public, but the point at which we do we believe the people will like a number of the product features. As with any product, it's just barely finished it's initial rollout, there are a number of features and applications that are going to have to improve and be enhanced, because it's a different approach to doing things than the way we've done them before.

I think the genealogical audience at large, when they first view it, are going to have a number of observations about it, they're going to have a number of things that they want it to do that it doesn't yet do, but I think they are also going to see the potential of it and what it could become. Hopefully we can stand the suspense of getting to the point where it really is a tool that people want to use and that it helps and facilitates people to do the kind of things that they want it to do.

RS: It's been a long birth of the baby, hasn't it?

DR: It has. One of the things that is sometimes difficult to estimate is the complexity of family history. At first blush, it just doesn't seem that complex. But when you stat having to deal with the massive amount of data, with the standards that need to be in place, with the data transfer, with the merging algorithms, with the combination groups, the quality algorithms, when you start to go down that path, and really start to develop a system that has to do so many complex tasks, it's easy to underestimate the scope of what you're trying to accomplish.

RS: What does New FamilySearch include at this time?

DR: The pedigree feature gives you the ability to see families in context. The great thing that it going to open up that we haven't had before is the collaborative aspect of it . People have made submissions to the International Genealogical Index and the Ancestral File, and other products over the years, one of the things people have always wanted to be able to say is "who submitted this information and how do I get in touch with them?" New FamilySearch is finally going to give us the ability to be able to collaborate with each other. It's also going to give us the ability to disagree with each other. You and I may be working on the same line, I may make a different conclusion than you do. You are able to get in touch with me and say "Dave, I really think it's this person for these reasons." And I'll be able to look at the evidence and say, "Randy, you're right, I blew that one, I like your evidence and I agree with you, let's make sure that it gets represented that way in the system."

RS: Is that discussion in email, or on the web site? How public is it?

DR: It is not public to everyone. It's a forum between the two of us. We'll collaborate and we'll be able to do that. Then you can open and extend that to others that you choose. So you can open it as wide as you want to. The other major difference is that it removes the need to have your own personal desktop data management software. You can manage all of your data now on New FamilySearch. Where I've used Personal Ancestral File for years on my laptop, I don't have to have my own Personal Ancestral File database any more. I can simply go to New FamilySearch and manage all of my content there. So that's a pretty radical departure from the way most genealogists have learned over the years to manage their data.

To be continued...

CVGS Seminar on Saturday, 24 April

Hey - San Diego and Chula Vista genealogy seekers -- here's a FREE seminar for you:

So, who do you think you are? You watched the PBS television program “Faces of America” with Henry Louis Gates, and the NBC television show “Who Do You Think You Are?” – and you saw the inspirational stories of the family histories of a number of celebrities.Are you ready to discover your own family stories?

Let us help you get started with a “Getting Started – Finding WHO You Are” program tailored to new members and beginning researchers.

The seminar will be held on Saturday, 24 April, from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the South Chula Vista Library (389 Orange Avenue in Chula Vista, just east of Fourth Avenue) in the Conference Room (located at the far west end of the library building. You can enter through the door on the south side of the library near Fourth).

This program, presented by CVGS member Susi Pentico, will discuss the easy way to start your genealogy research. She will show you how to start without a library trip or other data being necessary. This method may come as a pleasant surprise to many. Come learn the "down home" way of doing research, starting with a minimum of fuss and have some fun. Genealogy so helps you to learn who you are.

Following Susi’s talk, CVGS President Gary Brock will discuss the ways that the Chula Vista Genealogical Society can help new and experienced members pursue their research.

There will be opportunities to have brief one-on-one consultations with several experienced genealogists after the presentations.

Reservations for this seminar will be appreciated so that CVGS can prepare sufficient handouts – please contact Virginia (email, phone 619-425-7922).

New FamilySearch Record Search Release coming

The FamilySearch Labs blog announced on 2 April 2010 that:

"Later this month we are going to have a new release of Record Search. To test this new release we are looking for patrons who have experience using Record Search to participate in a short beta."

This slipped past my Fiji-addled brain at the time...

Today Nick Gombash on his appropriately named Nick Gombash's Genealogy Blog posted Record Search Pilot Is Coming To An End... which states (from an email he received):

"The Record Search Beta has ended. Thank you so much for your help in testing this new release. We received some great feedback are now working to fix the issues you reported. The beta site might be available for a few more days if you want to continue to use it, however we will not be contacting you when it is no longer available.

"What is our plan going forward:
Our plan (which always seems to change) is to release this new version of Record Search next week. Shortly after this release you will see some new collections published that were not part of the beta test and have not previously been available. This release expands our capacity to publish records and we hope to continue to publish new collection every week, so please keep checking the Record Search web site to see what is new."

So it sounds like there may be more databases on the FamilySearch Record Search site in the next week or so. I'm wondering:

* Will the Record Search site have a new URL?

* Will the site look different? I hope it has more color and contrast.

* Will the site work differently? I hope that I can use the Page Up/Page Down keys on it.

* What databases will be added to the current list of 168 databases? Will it be Ancestral File, International Genealogical Index, Pedigree Resource File, and some of the other "classic" databases?

I checked the list today and there are NO (meaning ZERO) "new" databases so far this month on the Record Search site.

Inquiring minds want to know!

By the way, have you had a look at the FamilySearch Beta site at Is this the "face" of the new Record Search? If you click on the "All collections" link you get a list of 115 online databases, all of which are listed on the current Record Search site. I wonder why the other 53 databases aren't on that list?

Thank you, Nick, for the heads up about this news - a great genealogy scoop for Nick! Databases

I visited the San Francisco Genealogy website ( again today and noticed that there is a category for Vital Records - Births, Marriages and Deaths. The Online Genealogy Databases are here:

The database list includes links to all of the available online California vital records:

I was unaware that the California Birth Records 1905-1995 were available for FREE at this web site, so I checked it out. Here is the search box (I put my name in the search box):

And the results:

Yep, it found me, and even provides my mother's married name, similar to the California Birth Index 1905-1995 on

There are two other links to FREE California Birth Index databases - at and on (need to register). There is also a link to, which is a fee-based service.

I'm going to explore more of the databases on for data on my California surnames and families (especially my wife's McKnew, Schaffner, Paul and Leland families).

This website is really one of the jewels of California genealogy!!

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Post 100: Lyle, Rex and Tom

I'm posting 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.

I managed to scan about 100 family photographs in the Scanfest in January, and have converted the scanned TIF files to smaller JPGs, cropped and rotated as best I can. Many of these were "new" to my digital photograph collection.

Here is a photograph from the Carringer family collection handed down by my mother in the 1988 to 2002 time period:

This is a picture of my grandfather, Lyle L. Carringer in 1909, with his dog, Rex. Lyle is holding a San Diego High School flag or banner - he was attending his alma mater that year and for several more years, although he was age 18 in 1909. San Diego High School is also my mother's alma mater and my own (my 50th class reunion is in 2011).

Lyle and Rex are posing in front of their home at 2105 30th Street in San Diego. I think that during this time that Lyle was living in the upstairs bedroom. There is one other interesting feature in this photograph - the electric wires coming out of the ground and into the upper story of the house.

I saw the word "Tom" on the photograph, and wondered what it meant - there is a cat on the ground to the right of Lyle - he must be "Tom!"

I can't believe how similar my youngest brother, Scott, in his teens and twenties, looked like Lyle at that age.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

San Francisco April 1906 - A ride down Market Street

There is a 7-minute YouTube video that shows the view from the front of a streetcar riding the tracks down Market Street in San Francisco towards the Embarcadero.

The infomration that came with the video via email says:

"Here's a neat opportunity to enjoy some time travel. The film is from a streetcar traveling down Market Street in San Francisco four days before the big earthquake/fire that destroyed the area. You can clearly see the clock tower at the end of the street at the Embarcadero wharf that's still there... The quality & detail is great, so be sure to view it full screen."

The video is here and hopefully embedded below:

My wife has several families that endured and survived the San Francisco Earthquake on 18 April 1906, so this is special to her.

I was struck by:

* the seeming nonchalance of the pedestrians, car drivers, horse/buggy drivers as the streetcar approached them. Lots of close calls!

* the men are dressed in coats and ties, the women in nice dresses and big hats.

* the streetcar didn't stop even though it's apparent many people wanted to get on the streetcar.
* the cars were all right-hand drive.

* the street looks like cobblestones, especially towards the end of the ride.

NARA List of Records Digitized by Partners

The National Archives has posted a List of records digitized by NARA’s digitization partners on their NARAtions blog.

The actual list is posted in List of NARA Microfilm Publications and Original Records Digitized by Our Digitization Partners This page notes that:

"Our digitization partners, and, have digitized selected NARA microfilm publications and original records and made them available on their web sites for a fee. Each partner allows free searches of some or all index terms for each title. Access to and is available free of charge in all NARA Research Rooms, including those in our regional archives and Presidential libraries.

"The list below includes all microfilm publications and original records that have been digitized by the partners as of March 2010. The list will be updated when additional materials are digitized.

" created digital copies of many of the National Archives microfilm publications prior to entering into a partnership agreement with NARA. These digitized materials are included in the list below.

" posts digitized materials on its web site in increments rather than waiting until the full title is available. Any partially digitized materials will have "In progress" in the status column.

"The list is arranged in alpha-numeric order by NARA microfilm publication number. Original records that have been digitized will have “Original records” listed in the microfilm publication number column. The list can be re-sorted by clicking on any of the column headings. Clicking on the titles in the list will direct you to the web sites of our partners."

The list looks like this:

There are columns for:

* Microfilm Publication Number

* NARA Microform Publication Title

* Partner

* Status

* NARA Record Group

A user can do an Edit > Find to see the items on the list for a specific publication number, publication title, record group, etc. For instance, I did a search for [1812] and found a number of records from The War of 1812.

This is a very helpful list from NARA - it is dated March 2010. I hope that they update this list on a regular basis.

I noted a complaint on Facebook yesterday to the effect that "the National Archives has sold out to the commercial database companies who are hiding government data behind their subscription wall."

My view is that the National Archives made a very smart and cost effective decision to use commercial partners to digitize their content - the commercial companies have the technology, the interest and had an economic incentive to do so, and it is a Win-Win for all parties involved - the Archives, the companies and the researcher. The Archives wins because the records are digitized and made available to the public online, and access to and is FREE at Archives facilities. The researcher wins because there are many more useful records available for a fairly low price - the retail cost for an Ancestry US membership is about 43 cents a day, and for a Footnote membership it is 22 cents a day.

It's not like a user that cannot afford a membership at Ancestry or Footnote is shut out of the records - they can visit a National Archives branch, a local library or some Family History Centers with subscriptions. It's how we did it before the Internet, only better!

English Parish Record data and Forrest Gump

One of the really great benefits of blogging about my ancestors is that other researchers know much more than I do about record availability and record access.

For example, in response to my post Who were parents of Susanna Page (ca1611-1691)? yesterday, there were responses from:

1) Martin noted that:

"According to Burke's "Key to The Ancient Parish Registers of England & Wales" 1908, Hawstead, Suffolk registers start in 1558. Assuming they were not destroyed in WWII, the Genealogists Society in London would have them.

"I don't know if you're familiar with this web page, but this is the listing of all the parish registers that have been transcribed into the IGI. Hawstead is not among them. "

2) Sheena noted that:

"...According to the Phillimore "Atlas and Index of Parish Registers" (2003 Edn) the parish registers survive from 1558-1926. The originals are in the Bury St Edmunds branch of Suffolk Record Office. The Society of Genealogists in London has copies for 1558-1857 and Boyd's marriage index has coverage from 1559-1837."

Thank you to Martin and Sheena for this helpful information.

I have very little expertise in English parish records, other than searching some of them on FHL microfilm and visiting the Wiltshire County Record Office back in 1993 to view them on microfilm and typed extractions for Wiltshire. I knew that many parish registers were extracted and put in the IGI by the LDS folks, but didn't have the link that Martin provided. have used the Phillimore Atlas and Index, the closest copy for me is at the San Diego FHC.

I mentioned in my post that the Hawstead Parish Registers, and an index to them, are available from 1668 to 1857 via Family History Library microfilms. However, the records for this page family are probably in the Hawstead records before 1668, so I'm stuck until I can get to England and visit the Suffolk Record Office or the Society of Genealogists. A Google for Hawstead Parish Registers revealed this surname site with a list of Suffolk parish registers, including:

"Hawstead All Saints (Baptisms 1558-1857-Modern Transcript; Baptisms 1813-1901-SBI; Marriages 1559-1857-Modern Transcript; Marriages 1559-1837-Boyd's; Burials 1559-1857-Modern Transcript; Burials 1559-1899-NBI 2nd ed/SUI)"

That's great - there are modern transcriptions of the records, but I'm not sure exactly where they are - probably the Suffolk Record Office. Note that NBI = National Burial Index, SBI = Suffolk Burial Index, Boyd's = Boyd's Marriage Index, SUI = Suffolk Burial Index.

There is a detailed description and many pictures of All Saints Church in Hawstead here. How cool is that page?

I wondered about the Probate Records noted in Dan Page's message board post, so I checked the FHL microfilms and see:

* Original wills, 1429-1857; miscellaneous papers including probate inventories, ca. 1734-1858; act books, 1577-1596, 1842-1858 Church of England. Archdeaconry of Sudbury. However, the list of microfilms does not include the years 1594 to 1657!

* Original wills, 1459-1857 and miscellaneous wills not proved, 1554-1739 Church of England. Archdeaconry of Suffolk. However, the list of microfilms does not include the years 1579 to 1773!

* Probate records, 1354-1857; indexes, 1520-1857; probate inventories, 1573-1817 Church of England. Archdeaconry of Sudbury. This includes the years between 1630 and 1640 in Volumes 51 through 54.

The latter should give me a good start, depending on which Archdeaconry the will was filed in. I saw several Peculiars in the list too, so it may not be as easy as it looks. The bigger challenge may be reading the "secretary" style handwriting of the document. Perhaps one of the other films has a transcription of the will I want.

Now I'm thinking that I need to search my family tree database to see which other ancestors died in Suffolk and may be in the Suffolk wills. This is an opportunity to not miss in Salt Lake City next week at the FHL!

I note that all of this is a pretty good example of the Forrest Gump Principle of Genealogy Research -- "Genealogy research is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to find, but you have to look everywhere your 'genealogy gem' might be hiding."

As I explained yesterday, I investigated an email from a colleague the other day, and totally lucked out finding the will of Thomas Page already transcribed by another researcher. My only work was Googling the names Susanna Page and her husband Thomas Gleason!

Ah, The Genealogy Snowball is growing bigger by the minute, eh?

Monday, April 19, 2010

CGSSD Meeting Review - Del Ritchhart's Trips

I enjoyed Del Ritchhart's photo summaries of his trips to Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City during 2009. Del was the program at the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego (CGSSD) meeting on Saturday, 17 April, and there were about 70 people in attendance. He took both trips with the San Diego Genealogical Society, and was able to use his free week's stay at the Plaza Hotel in SLC that he won in an SDGS drawing.

Del's advice for distant library goers was to plan ahead for your trip, and to take advantage of the opportunity if you have ancestral families in nearby towns. When Del went to Fort Wayne, he flew into Chicago, rented a car, researched in several towns in Illinois and then in Indianapolis before getting to Fort Wayne. It looked like he had a great time in the ancestral towns and in Fort Wayne.

1. The Genealogy Center on the second floor of the Allen County Public Library is impressive. There are over 350 thousand printed books, including 55 thousand family histories, over 500 thousand microfilms, and many periodicals. The library provides computer access to, HeritageQuestOnline and New England Ancestors, and has wireless Internet throughout the building.

Microfilms are filed by locations - right on the film boxes and the film drawers. The microfilm computer readers permit the user to transfer images to USB drives or to print them out. The Help desk people are really helpful.

The Allen County Public Library website is, and when you use the Genealogy tab you can find research helps and a catalog search. The PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) - which indexes articles in many genealogy periodicals - is available to use, and the periodicals are either on the shelf or on microfilm.

2. Del's weeklong trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City was highly profitable and fun with the society colleagues. They had a good tour of the city and the Great Salt Lake on the Sunday they arrived. Each person in the group had a tour of the library, and an hour with a professional researcher during the week, which was helpful.

Del outlined the holdings of the Family History Library, and the layout of the library with five floors of books and microfilms. He mentioned that copy cards cost $1 to purchase, but photocopies were only 5 cents each and prints from microfilm images were 23 cents each. The FHL has some microfilm scanner units that permit the user to capture microfilm images to their USB drive for free.

The first hour of the CGSSD meeting was devoted to groups on Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic and Reunion for the Mac. I attended the RootsMagic class, and Ruth Himan has summarized her experiences there in her blog post RootsMagic on her Genealogy is Ruthless Without Me blog.

Who were parents of Susanna Page (ca1611-1691)?

I received an email from a CVGS colleague several weeks ago saying "Randy, do you have a tie to Susanne Page 1611-1690, if so go to Ancestry & search Richard Robert Page, this is her grandfather..." Okay, I thought, I'll go check it out, since I recalled that I did not know the parents of my Susanna Page (1611-1691).

Susannah Page was an immigrant to colonial New England, probably with her husband Thomas Gleason (1607-1686), and settled in Watertown and later Cambridge in Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Over the years, there have been many claims in online Family Trees concerning the parentage of Susannah (Page) Gleason, including:

1) In Ancestral Tree database: no entries!

2) In the Pedigree Resource File: 79 entries

* No parents listed - 24 matches
* John Page/Phoebe Paine - 24 matches
* Robert or William Page - 16 matches
* Robert Page/Lucy Ward - 8 matches
* Robert Page / no spouse - 3 matches
* John Page/Mary - 1 match
* John (George) Page/Phoebe Paine - 1 match
* William Page/no spouse - 1 match
* William Page/Ann - 1 match

3) One World Tree: 3 matches:

* John Page/Phoebe Paine - 116 trees (with 7 different birth places)
* Robert Page/Lucy Ward - 7 trees
* John Page/Mary Paine - 3 trees

4) Public Member Trees: 78 matches

* John Page/Phoebe Paine - 53 matches
* John Page/Mary Paine - 3 matches
* John Page/no spouse - 1 match
* John (George) Page/no spouse - 2 matches
* William Page/no spouse - 4 matches
* William Page/Phoebe Paine - 2 matches
* Robert Page or William Page/no spouse - 3 matches
* Robert Page/no spouse - 2 matches
* Robert Page/Margaret Goodwin - 1 match
* Robert Page/Phoebe Paine - 4 matches
* Robert Page/Lucy Ward - 3 matches

5) WorldConnect database - 72 matches

* No parents - 24 matches
* John Page/Phoebe Paine - 21 matches
* Robert or William Page/no spouse - 19 matches
* John Page/Mary Paine - 3 matches
* Robert Page/Lucy Ward - 3 matches
* William Page/no spouse - 1 match
* William Page/Phoebe Paine - 1 match

Where did these people gather their information? Likely from other researchers who put the information in an online family tree, or passed around a family group sheet or pedigree chart via snail mail or email.

The "most popular" set of parents was John and Phoebe (Paine) Page who settled in Watertown MA and had several children. This family is in Robert Charles Anderson's The Great Migration Begins book, but the sketch does not list a daughter Susanna. There are NEHGR articles (Volumes 101 and 103) that list the descendants of John and Phoebe (Paine) Page. There is an NEHGR article for the descendants of Robert and Lucy (Ward) Page - at least they had a daughter, Susanna! Wrong one, I think.

What's the right answer to my question? After being totally frustrated by the above f*ckall useless search, I Googled using search terms ["Susanna Page" "Thomas Gleason"] and received 145 matches. Almost all of them regurgitate information similar to the data above. However, the very first one is a GenForum message written by Dan Page on the GLEASON Message Board on 19 August 2007. The message (there is an identical message on PAGE message board) says:

"Recently, researcher Robert Page and others have been looking for English origins of the oft-mentioned Thomas Page who came early to the Isle of Wight, VA. Of course they were alert for Pages named Thomas. They have been sifting records for Co. Suffolk, England. In the process, they came across the following will:

"THOMAS PAGE of Hawstead, yeoman, 13 January 1636/37
Commends soul to God trusting through merits of my sweet saviour Christ Jesus to have commission of sins and consequently inherit the kingdom of heaven prepared for me and all the elect people of God. I give the poor people of Hawstead 20s to be distributed at discretion of my exor. Upon marriage with my new wife Elizabeth I entered into a bond to pay her L11 p.a. for life and another L4 p.a. out of certain lands in Finningham. In addition I now devise to her all the household stuff she brought with her at time of our marriage in lieu of all demands on my estate. I entreat her to be contented with this. I promised Thomas Lock L60 in consideration of marriage with my daughter Mary; I have already paid him L30 and I give him L30 more to be paid within a year of my decease. To son William L10 within a year; and to daughter Susan, wife of Thomas Gleason, L20 within 2 years. To son John the reversion of my two tenements of Finningham after my wife's decease; the possession of them is settled on her for life. To son Joseph, L40 when 21 and in the meantime he is to be brought up at charge of my exor and bound out as an apprentice at his charge. All the rest of my real and personal estate, my legacies and funeral charges being paid, I give to son Thomas and make him sole exec. Legatees have benefit of survivorship.
Wit. George Scarpe, Rebecca Page, Thomas Page. Pr. at Ixworth 11 July 1633 by John Syer to exor.

"You may recall that Susanna (Page) Gleason is believed to have had a brother William Page of Watertown. e.g.: William's will made small bequests to all his kinsmen in N. Eng., mentions his kinsman, Thomas Leason; to his kinsman, William Leason, then living with him, 10 pounds at the age of 22 years. Inventory, Jan. 18, 1664-5, 137 pounds 12. His widow, Anna, married previous to June 22, 1669, Nicholas Wood, of Goggestow, near Meadfield. She afterwards married Edward Winn, of Woburn.

"Now, the Will of Winn's widow Anna, dated Sept. 9, 1685, proved Nov. 1, 1686, gave John Coolidge, 5 pounds; Dea. Henry Bright, 5 pounds; brother-in-law, Gleason, 40s.; kinsman, Thomas Gleason, 20s.; wife of Thomas Pratt, 20s., and bequests to her kinsmen, Joseph, John, Philip, Isaac, William, Mary, and Anne Gleason. Thomas Pratt was the spouse of our Susanna (Page) Gleason's daughter Susanna."

What a superb example of genealogy research performed by the Page people! They found the link to Susanna (Page) Gleason. My thanks to Dan Page for noting it and posting it to the PAGE and GLEASON message boards.

In my little mind, this will, and the other cited documents, are primary information concerning Susanna's birth parents. I need to find the original source, the actual record, of course, but will pursue that in Salt Lake City next week! Now what about Thomas Page? I could find no other record for this particular Thomas Page in Suffolk in Ancestry family trees. Perhaps the Hawstead parish registers will have him listed with a spouse and children (if it exists). I wonder what Susanna's mother's name was? Susanna named daughters Mary and Ann.

So who's going to beat me and be the first person to put this on an Ancestry Public Member Tree? Better hurry!

The bigger question is "who is going to correct ALL of those spurious online family tree entrees?" Unfortunately, the answer is "only a few researchers who see the GenForum message and this post." Too bad.

This is pretty typical of the state of online family trees - every researcher needs to understand that online family trees are full of wrong information!

UPDATED: I got curious if Hawstead Church records existed before 1640, and it looks like they do not. There are records for 1668-1857, but not before then, at least in Family History Library. Drat! No low hanging parish register fruit.