Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Why Do Genealogy?

Hey genealogy buffs - it's Saturday Night - time for more Genealogy Fun!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1) Think about the question: "Why do I pursue genealogy and family history research?"

2) Tell us about it on your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a comment on Facebook.

This question was prompted by a current ongoing discussion on the APG Public mailing List about celebrities and their relationship to royalty of famous historical persons. There are some excellent responses in this mailing list thread.

Here's why I pursue genealogy and family history research:

1) To honor the effort and lives of my ancestors.

2) To put my life into a historical perspective.

3) It is intellectually challenging and stimulating, and serious fun!

Surname Saturday - HORTON (of Eastham MA)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week. I'm up to number 71, who is Mary Horton (????-????), one of my 4th-great-grandparents. The only record that names Mary Horton is the two death records of her daughter, Elizabeth Horton (Dill) Smith in 1869.

My hypothesis is that the mother of Elizabeth Horton Dill is not Mary Horton, but is really Hannah Horton (1761-1797), who married Thomas Dill on 18 May 1782 in Wellfleet MA. Thomas and Hannah (Horton) Dill had nine children (Ezekiel, Obediah, Seth, Isaiah, Jabez, Elizabeth, James, Daniel and Asa Dill between 1784 and 1795), and Hannah apparently died before June 1797 when Thomas Dill married Ruth Linkhornew.

I have described my evidence conflicts for this case in my post Elizabeth Horton Dill: A Very Elusive Ancestor. If she is indeed the Elizabeth Dill, born 09 May 1791 in Eastham, Barnstable, MA, the daughter of Thomas Dill and Hannah Horton, then my potential ancestral line back through four generations of HORTONs is:

1. Randall J. Seaver

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

4. Frederick W. Seaver (1876-1942)
5. Alma Bessie Richmond (1882-1962)

8. Frank W. Seaver (1852-1922)
9. Harriet Hildreth (1857-1920)

16. Isaac Seaver (1823-1901)
17. Lucretia Townsend Smith (1827-1884)

34. Alpheus B. Smith (1802-1840)
35. Elizabeth Horton Dill (1794-1869)

[and then the hypothesis fits right here... Elizabeth Horton Dill was daughter of Thomas and Hannah (Horton) Dill]

70. Thomas Dill, born 18 May 1782 in Wellfleet, Barnstable, MA. He was born about 1755 in Eastham, Barnstable, MA, and died after 1830 in probably Eastham, Barnstable, MA. He was the son of Thomas Dill and Mehitable Brown. He married (1) 18 May 1782 in Wellfleet, Barnstable, MA.
71. Hannah Horton, born 28 April 1761 in Eastham, Barnstable, MA; died before 1797 in probably Eastham, Barnstable, MA.

142. Nathaniel Horton, born 24 February 1720/21 in Eastham, Barnstable, MA; died Bef. May 1775 in prob. Eastham, Barnstable, MA. He married 10 January 1741/42 in Eastham, Barnstable, MA.
143. Eunice Snow, born 30 November 1722 in Eastham, Barnstable, MA. She was the daughter of 286. Jabez Snow and 287. Elizabeth Paine.

Children of Nathaniel Horton and Eunice Snow are: Elnathan Horton (1743-????); Nathaniel Horton (1746-????); Obadiah Horton (1747-????); William Horton (1750-????); Elizabeth Horton (1753-????); James Horton (1755-????); Eunice Horton (1757-????); Jabez Horton (1759-1759); Hannah Horton (1761-1797); Anna Horton (1763-????).

284. Samuel Horton, born 31 January 1685/86 in Boston, Suffolk, MA; died before 01 April 1778 in Eastham, Barnstable County, MA. He married 28 January 1713/14 in Eastham, Barnstable County, MA.
285. Hannah Atwood, born about 1680 in Eastham, Barnstable County, MA. She was the daughter of 570. Stephen Atwood and 571. Apphia Bangs.

Children of Samuel Horton and Hannah Atwood are: John Horton (1715-????); Hannah Horton (1717-????); Nathaniel Horton (1721-1775); Susanna Horton (1723-????); Abigail Horton (1725-????); Elizabeth Horton (1727-????); Samuel Horton (1729-1799); James Horton (1731-????).

568. John Horton, born about 1650, died before 06 April 1710 in Eastham, Barnstable, MA. He married before 1677
569. Hannah, died 07 January 1689/90 in Boston, Suffolk, MA.

Children of John Horton and Hannah are: Dorothy Horton (????-????); Hopestill Horton (1677-????); Samuel Horton (1686-1778).

The line ends with John Horton. There was some discussion many years ago that this John Horton that had at least one child in Boston in 1686 and died in Eastham in 1710 was a descendant of Thomas Horton of Rehoboth MA, or of Ralph or John Houghton of Lancaster MA. I've consulted the available books for those two families, and do not find a candidate to be the John Horton (or Houghton) of Eastham. A brief search using Google and Rootsweb WorldConnect databases did not provide any revelations. This John Horton of Boston and Eastham is listed in several databases, with a wife named Hannah ????, Hannah Harden and Hannah Long.

If any researcher has more up-to-date information about this John Horton (or Houghton) of Boston and Eastham, I would appreciate hearing from you. Are there any cousins with this Horton family in Eastham MA - I would appreciate hearing from you also! My email is

UPDATED: It appears that there is a book about this family: "Descendants of John Horton of Boston, Massachusetts and New London, Connecticut through his son Samuel Horton of Eastham, Massachusetts" by Margaret Horton Weiler published by Penobscot Press, 1994. Now on my "To Find" list!

Friday, June 25, 2010

What's Cooking at GIGO?

There is more news from the LDS FamilySearch website about the new Family Tree online database. I was reading Renee Zamora's Renee's Genealogy Blog post titled nFS June release beta includes new features, discussion boards, etc. from last week, and she noted that several new features were coming soon, including:

"The biggest one is 'Discussion boards'. Behind each ancestor will be a discussion board, sort of like a talk page on a wiki, where one can discuss what they are doing or what they need to find in regards to that ancestor."

"The next feature is 'exact search', you will need to have several of the fields filled out to activate this. There will also be some things with the standardized places to allow for defunct places that are not yet in the database to be added."

Renee included a link to the site to see more about the Discussion Boards, but the link doesn't work for me now. I found a 7-page PDF for the June 2010 What's New information. Please read all of Renee's post.

James Tanner, on the Genealogy's Star blog, recently wrote Waiting for the shoe to drop in New FamilySearch about the Discussion Boards, and he noted that:

"The newest version of New FamilySearch implements the individual "Discussion Board." This is sort-of a mini-forum available for each individual. The announcement of the implementation says:

"* Each deceased individual in the system has a discussion board, where you can do the following:
* Identify yourself as someone who is interested in or actively working on an individual or family line.
* Coordinate the correction of errors and additional research with other interested users.
* Identify incorrect information on the individual’s record."

Please read all of his post. James' closing paragraph is:

"It will be interesting to see if the new discussion feature has an impact on the amount of poorly researched and inaccurate information being loaded into the program. One of the most obvious issues with the new discussion tab is that there is nothing in the program indicating that there is discussion going on. It is likely that the same people who do not take the time to edit or review their inaccurate entries will not take the time to read the discussions either. I am putting out a few discussions to see if anyone reads them."

That sure doesn't give me a lot of confidence that the new FamilySearch Family Tree will be much better than the current Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File and IGI cobbled together! It sounds like GIGO - Garbage in, Garbage Out - to me.

The impression I had from all of the nifty FamilySearch presentations at NGS 2010 and SCGS 2010 was that the duplicates were being combined and the general public would be invited late in 2010 or in early 2011 to contribute their family tree data. The "One Big Mother of all Family Trees" was almost ready to go!

James identifies the big problem with using the existing data in the nFS Family Tree database in his post What is going into New FamilySearch? He concludes his post with:

"In this regard, the latest change to the program initiated a Discussion tab for each individual. Other than the fact that there is nothing in the program indicating that a discussion is available, this is at least a possible step in the right direction. But it does not address the core problem of the multiplicity of inaccurate information flooding into the program. "

Is the nFS Family Tree database destined to go the route of almost all other large family tree databases (whether merged or separate)? They have many duplicate entries and wrong information for many persons.

The Discussion Boards sound like a wonderful idea in theory. I truly hope that they will work as intended. I wrote about the use of Footnote Pages to capture evidence and resources about individuals during the NGS Conference, and mentioned something like the Discussion Boards. But what if they don't work as intended? Does FamilySearch have a fallback position if they don't work as expected?

The one online family tree database that I'm aware of that has some sort of editorial control over duplicate persons, and information for those persons, is the WeRelate family tree wiki at When I added persons to the database, I had to manually merge persons in my tree with persons in the existing database that were probably the same persons before it would let me upload my tree data. For some persons, mainly those with many descendants that submitted family trees (e.g., Mayflower passengers, connections to European royalty, etc.), the information about them was standardized and "fixed" by designated editors or monitors, and changes to the information can only be done by discussion and agreement between the submitters and the editors/monitors.

Perhaps FamilySearch will have to take the decisions about what is "alleged" about a specific person in their Family Tree database out of the hands of the contributors and create some sort of mediation or arbitration board that decides facts based on the available evidence brought to the discussion by the contributors. That sounds like many lifetimes of hard work that may cause a lot of hard feelings and arguments. But it may be the ultimate best solution that bases judgments on facts and evidence rather than unsupported data.

As you probably know, I am not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and do not have access to the new FamilySearch Family Tree database. I am really interested in what is going to happen with the nFS Family Tree database because many non-LDS researchers will be tempted to search it for research clues and may add their family tree data to the database.

My thanks to Renee and James, and to The Ancestry Insider, for sharing their information about the nFS Family Tree changes. Who will be the first genea-blogger to show what the Discussion Boards look like and how they work?

Follow Friday - We Tree blog

For Follow Friday this week, I want to highlight Amy Coffin's We Tree blog:

Amy's blog sub-title is "Adventures in Genealogy." Her "About Me" paragraph includes:

"Welcome to my blog, where I chronicle my own adventures in genealogy and hopefully inspire you to do the same. "

Amy is also the creator of the 52 Weeks To Better Genealogy - a series of weekly blogging prompts that are a bit more challenging and are geared towards those new to the field of genealogy and family history, as well as those who want to brush up on some skills which might be a bit rusty.

If you are not reading Amy's blog, I encourage you to add her to your list of favorities, bookmarks, RSS feed, blog aggregator or email reader.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is Robert Pattinson a cousin to Vlad III Dracula?

The newspapers and the blog have an enthusiastic report today that English entertainment star Robert Pattinson is a distant cousin to Vlad III Dracula - the Count Dracula of history and entertainment. The New York Daily News story is here. Is this claim true?

A screen shot of the blog page is shown below, and it includes a simple ancestry chart:

The chart shows Robert Pattinson descended (through an unknown number of generations) from the "Pickerings of York." The Princes William and Harry are also show descended from the "Pickerings of York." And then the Princes are also shown descending from the parents of Vlad III Dracula (through an unknown number of generations through King George VI).

There is only one thing wrong with this picture - remember the adage that "the cousin of my cousin may not be my cousin!" Just because Barack Obama is my cousin doesn't not mean that all of my cousins are also his cousins - only those that share my specific lineage back to a common ancestor are his cousins.

The common definition of a "cousin" is a person with a common ancestor to the subject.

If the information in the picture is correct, then Robert Pattinson is a distant cousin of the Princes. and the Princes are a distant cousin to Vlad III Dracula. But Robert Pattinson and Vlad II Dracula are not distant cousins because no common ancestor is shown on the chart.

If has more specific direct evidence with primary information from original sources concerning the ancestry of Robert Pattinson and Vlad III Dracula, then they should display it for the world of genealogy to see it. Until then, they should remove the claim.

For the genealogists of the world, a better ancestral chart showing all of the generations from the "Pickerings of York" to the Princes and from Vlad's parents to King George VI should also be shown so that the degree of cousinship with the Princes can be established. Proof of all of the relationships would be nice, too.
UPDATED: Nick Gombash, who writes Nick Gombash's Genealogy Blog, has more information about the Besarab family associated with Vlad III Dracula. Nick disputes the link between Vlad II and King George VI of England in his post, Robert Pattinson is related to Dracula?

Searching Newspapers Using Keywords

I was trolling through the online newspapers at and found a "better way" to search for my people. This may fall into the "you already knew this, but I just found out" category, but that's OK - there may be some users in the vast (yeah, right!) Genea-Musings readership that could use the information to make the searching task easier or better, especially for common names.

In the past, I have always put first name and last name in the search fields when I've searched Newspaper and Book collections on I received an email today that said "have you looked at keyword searches?" Ummm, no, not really.

I started out on the Newspaper Collection page on - and there was a helpful link to a Juliana Smith article from 2009 titled "Searching for Newspaper Stories." This article suggested that:

"Typically when searching for a person, it’s best to leave the “Match all terms exactly” box unchecked. This allows us a little wiggle room, but when searching for common terms, it’s easy to become overrun with results. For keyword searches it’s helpful to keep that “Match all terms” box checked. (Just bear in mind that when you go back to searching for people, you’ll want to uncheck this box again.)"


"Remember that if you want to search for several words together, you can put them in quotes which will tell to look for that exact phrase (e.g., “cholera epidemic”)."

Read the whole article - it helps! Here's a screen shot of the article page:

To illustrate the differences between a Name Search, using names in the first and last name search fields, and using a Keyword Search, I'm going to use my grandfather's name, Frederick Seaver. For the Name Search, I entered First Name = "Fred*" (because he went by Fred and Frederick) and Last Name = "Seaver." I clicked on "Restrict to Exact" for both names. The Search fields are shown below:

I received 341 matches from my Name Search, in a number of newspapers:

The Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel was one of the local newspapers for Leominster MA, so I clicked on that link, and saw 53 matches:

The results page above has snippets showing one or more matches on a given page. When you look at the matches produced by the Name Search, you see that not all of the matches are for Fred* Seaver. Some matches are for a page with Seaver in one place and Fred* in a nearby place on the page. Some of the matches found using the Name Search are for Frederick W. Seaver, which I definitely want to find.

For the Keyword Search, I entered "fred* seaver" in the Keyword field of the Search box:

I received only 138 matches in fewer newspapers from this Keyword Search:

I clicked on the Fitchburg Sentinel link again and saw:

There were only 26 matches for the "fred* seaver" Keyword Search, and all of them were for my "Fred* Seaver" or his wife listed as "Mrs. Fred* Seaver." However, none of the matches for Frederick W. Seaver are listed. Drat! I did another search for "fred* w seaver" in the Keyword Search and there were 16 matches.

The lessons learned here include:

* a Keyword Search, when used with quotes around a person's name, will return exact matches for the search terms.
* a Name Search will return more spurious or extraneous matches because it finds the first and last names in proximity to each other on the newspaper page.
* If a person had a middle name or initial, then a Keyword Search should be performed for the name with and without the middle name or initial. By the way, a wildcard for the middle name or initial doesn't work - it violates the Ancestry wild card rules).

When should the user use a Keyword Search? I would advise that it should be used in databases indexed by Optical Character Recognition - Newspapers, Periodicals, Books, Stories, etc.

Treasure Chest Thursday - a Hildreth+Newton Marriage Record

It's Treasure Chest Thursday - time to share another genealogy jewel from my collection of stuff.

This week, it is the Marriage Certificate of Edward Hildreth (1831-1899) and Sophia Newton (1834-1923) in Northborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts on 25 December 1852:

This is the original source (record copy), primary information and direct evidence record that I have for the marriage of my great-great-grandparents Edward Hildreth and Sophia Newton.
Unfortunately, it does not list their birth dates (only their ages), Edward's parents names or Sophia's mother's name. It does list Sophia's father's name as Thomas Newton. It also states that Edward was born in Townsend MA and Sophia was born in Vermont (all of those are, of course, secondary information items).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Using Effectively" Talk on Sunday, 27 June in Chula Vista CA

The Board of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society recently decided to provide Sunday afternoon programs for members and others who cannot attend the Wednesday daytime meetings.

The first Sunday program will have CVGS Member Randy Seaver presenting "Using Effectively."

This talk will be at 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 27th, in the Auditorium of the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street in downtown Chula Vista).

The talk summary is:

The subscription website has many wonderful features - it's like a lavish buffet where it is hard to choose what to do and how to use it.

o For searches: basic or advanced search; new or old search screens; exact or ranked matches; full names or wild cards; specific or all databases; name and place filters; restricted collection or whole collection.

o For family trees: public or private; one-editor or group editors; GEDCOM upload or enter-by-hand; upload photos and documents; attach historical documents; add stories; "collect" data from others; synchronization with software; etc.

In this presentation, Randy will discuss and demonstrate these issues and offer recommendations for effectively using databases and family trees.

Randy Seaver is a former President of CVGS, and is the current Newsletter Editor and Research Chairman. He also writes the Genealogy 2.0 column in the quarterly FGS FORUM Magazine and is well-known in national genealogy circles through his Genea-Musings genealogy blog. Randy has 22 years experience in genealogy research and has been doing online research since 1992.

All meetings of CVGS are free for members and non-members to attend. We welcome guests and visitors, and hope that you will want to join our active society. Flyers that announce all of our scheduled programs are placed in libraries, senior centers and other places around the San Diego South Bay area.

For more information about CVGS, or about this presentation, please contact Randy by phone (619-422-3397) or email (

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Post 108: San Diego Carringers

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:

My grandfather's writing on the back of this photograph says it was taken in 1939. Pictured here are (from the left):

* Harvey Edgar Carringer (1852-1946); brother of Henry Austin Carringer; never married, resided in San Diego
* Della (Smith) Carringer (1862-1944), wife of Henry Austin Carringer, mother of Lyle Carringer
* Henry Austin Carringer (1853-1946), husband of Della Smith, father of Lyle Carringer
* Lyle Lawrence Carringer (1891-1976), son of Henry Austin and Della (Smith) Carringer - my maternal grandfather.

I am unsure of the setting of this photograph. It looks like a back or side yard. My best guess is that this was taken in the back yard of the Lyle Carringer home at 2130 Fern Street in San Diego.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who's #29,849? The Least "Popular" Databases?

While wandering around on Tuesday, I saw the list of "databases by Popularity" in the Card Catalog. I wondered what were the "least popular." After a period of moving page by page (believe me, I tried every trick I could think of - at least I was able to go 10 pages at a time) to the last screen of the "Most Popular" databases, I came across the page with numbers 29,826 to 29,849. Here is the bottom of that page:

The "least popular" database, at least according to the "by popularity" list, is "Newport illustrated: in a series of pen & pencil sketches."

The Ancestry database has no description of this work. The source citation says:

" Newport illustrated : in a series of pen & pencil sketches [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
Original data: Mason, George C.. Newport illustrated : in a series of pen & pencil sketches. New York: D. Appleton & Co., c1854."

Here is the database page for this database:

It looks interesting, doesn't it? The book has many chapters with descriptive titles. Here is the page image for Chapter V:

Why is this book at the bottom of the "by popularity" list? My guess is that very few researchers know that it is in's database offerings. It has only 116 "records" according to Ancestry's database list, so not too many researchers find it when doing a name search. How many researchers use the Card Catalog to find books about localities, such as this work? Not many, I'm guessing.

The good news is that, with this post and anybody else that checked it out after reading this blog post, that it won't be at the bottom of the list in the near future. But it will still be unread by almost every researcher that uses!

The next one up from the bottom on the list is #29,848 - "The Bottskill Baptist Church."

The citation for this book is:

" The Bottskill Baptist Church [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.
Original data: Wade, Stuart C.. The Bottskill Baptist Church : Greenwich, Washington Co., N.Y. : copy of all tombstone inscriptions existing in 1901. unknown, 1989."

My guess is that there are hundreds of genealogy researchers that would love to have a look at this book, but they don't know that it is available on Now when they do a Google search, they may find this post and know that it is available.

There are 118 pages in this book on (and I don't think that the book is complete...). There must be many more names than the 116 records noted in the list of "by popularity." Hmmm, perhaps the 116 is then umber of pages and this database, this book, is not name indexed at all.

So the lessons learned here, for me, are:

* apparently has many (hundreds, thousands?) "databases" that are not indexed by every name, and nobody knows about them because of the lack of a name index for them.
* The Card Catalog is your friend - you may find some genealogy jewels hiding in the card catalog.

Dear Randy: What is the AGBI?

A reader asked:

" I found an ancestor is mentioned in the AGBI. I am not exactly sure what that means? Do I need to look it up in the index to find what other source it points to?"

The answer:

The AGBI is the American Genealogical Biographical Index. Back when I started doing genealogy research (not really the dark ages...), it was one of the most important resources to use to find published information about a person. The AGBI provided a reference for specific books or periodicals for a specific name. The description of the AGBI reads:

"One of the most important genealogical collections, the American Genealogical-Biographical Index, or AGBI, is the equivalent of more than 200 printed volumes. This database contains millions of records of people whose names have appeared in printed genealogical records and family histories. With data from sources largely from the last century, each entry contains the person's complete name, the year of the biography's publication, the person's state of birth (if known), abbreviated biographical data, and the book and page number of the original reference. In addition to family histories, other genealogical collections are indexed. These include the Boston Transcript (a genealogical column widely circulated), the complete 1790 U.S. Federal Census, and published Revolutionary War records. The most recent update to this database reflects the inclusion of volumes 196-206. For researchers of American ancestors, this can be one of the most valuable databases available at

"Most of the works referenced in the AGBI are housed at the Godfrey Memorial Library in Connecticut. A photocopy service is available. Please contact Godfrey Memorial Library at 134 Newfield St, Middletown, CT 06457 or via e-mail at to make use of this service.

"To learn more about the AGBI, read the extended description below, but also read Kory Meyerink's article 'Genealogy's Best-kept Secret: American Genealogical-Biographical Index.' "

The AGBI is available on the Godfrey Memorial Library site,, and on, both subscription sites. Using's database, I used the AGBI collection to search for one of my ancestors, Burgess Metcalf. Here is the search screen:

The results page shows three specific items for Burgess Metcalf (and 14 matches for other people because I have my search set to include initials):

The first match is shown below:

This match refers to the citation in AGBI is in Volume 117, page 91. "miscellaneous Rev. docs. Of NH. Ed. By Albert Sillman Batchellor. Manchester, NH, 1910. (17,658p.):112 Rev.War Recds:N.H: 2:384; 3:924." I must admit that I have not seen this record before, and it might be helpful to provide more detail about Burgess Metcalf's military career.

The second match is:

This match references "Stat of Vt: Rolls of the soldiers in the Rev. War, 1775-1783. By John E. Goodrich. Rutland, Vt. 1904. (22,2,927p.):23." I have not seen this record before, either.

The third match for Burgess Metcalf was his entry in the 1790 US Census in "Heads of Fams. at the first U.S. census. NH. By U.S. Bureau of the Census. Washington, 1908. (146p.):36."

One of my early genealogy finds at the San Diego Public Library were these 226 volumes of the AGBI on the shelf. I spent several days looking for my ancestors in them, writing down the citations and information that might lead me to the information about them.

Having many New England ancestors, one of the primary resources quoted in the AGBI for many of my people was the Boston Transcript newspaper clippings with genealogy queries published from 1896 to 1941. The AGBI provided the volume and page number, and I tabulated and ordered those and made an organized search through the Boston Transcript microfiche's available at the San Diego Public Library and Carlsbad Library. These were queries that often had useful information in the query, and many were answered with more family information.

"In the old days - BC" (before computers), this is how genealogy was pursued. You used finding aids such as the AGBI to find references to surname books, locality books and other books or periodicals that might have useful information. There were many other very useful finding aids - and they are still on the shelves at many libraries. The ones that come to mind are the Meredith B. Colket, Jr. book about Colonial New England Families (on the shelf at CVPL), the Sutro Library book index (on the shelf at CVPL, I could obtain items by Inter-library Loan), the New England Historic Genealogical Register Index for Volumes 1-50 (and later volumes 51 to 145), etc. (all volumes were on the shelf at SDPL). Ah the good old days - BC.

Now, of course, most of these reference books are available on Google Books. But the references in the AGBI are still valid and useful. Have you looked in that neglected bookstack of AGBIs at yourl ocal library? Or looked at it online at If not, you should, and you might find some long forgotten but very useful reference about your ancestor.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"Trees" on FamilySearch Beta Site

While looking through the FamilySearch Beta Site ( last week, I noticed the "Trees" link on the home page. Being a curious sort of guy, I clicked on it and added a name to the search fields, as shown below:

There were 39 matches to the name, and the screen shows 20 at a time:

All of the matches were from the LDS Ancestral File database (Version 4.19), which is family tree data submitted by LDS members via GEDCOM many years ago.

I clicked on one of the entries and saw (two screens):

On this screen, I could click on the parents names to see their data, and/or click on the Show Children link to see the list of children for the person shown on the record above. I could navigate from one family to another by clicking on parents and/or children until the database runs out of records.

The submitters of this record to Ancestral File are also listed (some by using the "More" link).

The LDS Ancestral File 4.19 is described as:

"Ancestral File is a collection of genealogical information taken from Pedigree Charts and Family Group Records submitted to the Family History Department since 1978. The information has not been verified against any official records. Since the information in Ancestral File is contributed, it is the responsibility of those who use the file to verify its accuracy."

The LDS Ancestral File is also searchable, although with a much more limited search engine, on the "classic" LDS FamilySearch site here.

The results for the two sites appear to be the same, at least for my limited searches.

All researchers should be aware that the accuracy of some of the information on the Ancestral File database by be poor. It should be used as a finding aid, or clue, only. Researchers should verify all information from Ancestral File by obtaining original records with primary information, if possible. There was no attempt to verify or certify the accuracy of the Ancestral File records, but there was an attempt to combine the records of one or more researchers for the same person; for example, the record above had 10 submitters listed.

The Ancestral File records are part of the New FamilySearch Family Tree project, so there may have been some effort to determine the best or accepted evidence for facts in the nFS Family Tree database. However, this is not available to non-LDS members yet.

Is this "Trees" link on the FamilySearch Beta site the "portal" for researchers to eventually search on the nFS Family Tree? Perhaps...we'll have to wait and see.

What about the Pedigree Resource File (PRF) database that is also on the "classic" FamilySearch site here? This large database is not yet on the FamilySearch Beta site, although I believe that the PRF records were included in the nFS Family Tree database.

Lastly, where are the International Genealogical Index (IGI) records in the FamilySearch Beta site? Many of these records were transcriptions from original or derivative printed sources, and have some value. However, some of the IGI records were submitted by LDS members and some have errors. This large database has not appeared yet in the FamilySearch Record Search databases to my knowledge. I believe that the IGI records were included in the nFS Family Tree database also.

Can an LDS member with access to nFS Family Tree confirm that Ancestral File (AF), Pedigree Resource File (PRF) and International Genealogical Index (IGI) records are included in the New FamilySearch Family Tree database?

Amanuensis Monday - the probate records of Elizabeth (Arnold) (Hawkins) Smith

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started his own Monday blog theme many months ago called Amanuensis Monday. What does "amanuensis" mean? John offers this definition:

"A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another."

My subject today is the probate records of Elizabeth (Arnold) (Hawkins) Smith (1685-1758) of Providence, Scituate and Glocester, Rhode Island. She married (first) William Hawkins (1679-1712) in 1704 and bore him five children, and (second) Israel Smith (1690-1726) in 1718, and bore him four children.

Widow Elizabeth (Arnold) (Hawkins) Smith of Glocester died testate, having written a will dated 1 July 1758. The will was proved on 17 July 1758 (Glocester (RI) Probate Records, 1731-1915, Volume 1, Pages 173-176, on FHL Microfilm 0,941,847). The will reads (a clerk's copy in the town records):

"In the name of God Amen This 5th day of July in the 35th year of the Reign of our soverign Lord George the Second of Great Britain the King AD 1758: I Elizabeth Smith of the Town of Glocester in the County of Providence & Colony of Rhode Island &c widow being Sick & weak of body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be given to allmighty God for the Same: and Calling to mind the mortality of my body and Knowing it is appointed for all men to Die: Do make and ordain this to be my Last will & Testament: that is first of all I Recommend my Soul into the hands of God that gaive it and as touching Such worldly Estate as it hath pleases God to give me in this Life I Give Demise and Dispose of the Estate in the following manner and form. Imprimus my will is that all my Just Debts be first Satisfied and paid by my Executors hereafter named.

"Item I give to my Son Stephen Smith all my Coopers Tools that did belong to my Husband and like wise a Draught Chain & one pair of horse Chains.

"Item I Give to my Two Daughters Ruth Hopkins and Deborah Waid my best feather bed to be Equaly Divided between them and like wise I Give to my Daughter Deborah Waid my Iron Kettle.

"Item I give to my Daughter Elizabeth Man my Chest of Drawers warming pann Smoothing base and my Long Cloke.

"Item I Give to my Daughter Neomia Angel my Squar Table and five pounds old Tenor.

"Item my will is that all the Remainder of my Estate be Equally Divided among my Children namely my son Stephen Smith my Daughters Ruth Hopkins Deborah Waid Elizabeth Man and Namoi Angel the Ramaining part of my Estate that is not above Dispose of in this my will: and my will is that my Son Elijah Hawkings Children have no part of my Estate he having Recd his portion already and my will further is that my Son Stephen Smith and my Grandson William Hawking be the Executor to this my last will and Testament.

"Item my will is that my Grand Daughter Elizabeth Hopkins have my large Silver Sleeve Buttens.

"Item I Give my Grand Daughter Martha Smith my Small Silver Sleeve Buttens & my looking Glass. And I do hereby Reject Revoke & Disallow and Disanull all former or other wills or Testaments by me at any time made Ratifying this & no other to be my last will and Testament.

"Signed Sealled published pronounced .................................. her
and Declared to be her Last will .............................. Elizabeth + Smith {seal}
and Testament in the presence of us - .................................. mark
Andrew Brown
Abraham Smith
Uriah Hawkings

"Glocester July the 17th 1758.
In council Andrew Brown Esqr Abraham Abraham Smith and Uriah Hawkings the witnesses to this will on Solemn Engagement Declared that they Saw the Testatrix Sign Seal publish pronounce and declare this will to be her Last will & Testament. and that they in her presence Subscribed as Witnesses: and at that Time She was in her perfect mind & memory according to their Judgments Wherefore it is vited & Resolved that this will be now approved & allowed to be a Good will & hereby is ordered to be Recorded.
.................................................................... Richd Steere Clerk
Received the 17th of July 1758 and Recorded by R. Steere C Clerk."

"The Inventory of the widow Elizabeth Smiths personall Estate in Glocester who Departed this Life the Eleventh Day of July in the year of our Lord 1758: and was apprised on the thirteenth of the same July by us the Subscribers

Item to Wearing apparel and Linen ................................................ 159-00-0

Item to one bed and beding with out Cord or bed Sted .................... 100-00-0
Item to one warming pan L6: & a flat hanging basket L1 ................... 07-00-0
Item to pails & bowle & trays L3: frying pan L1:brass kittle L2 .......... 06-00-0
Item to one Tramel L4: Tongs L1 10:Shie L1: one Kittle L3 ................. 09-10-0
Item to one flock bed & furniture L38: one Chest of Drawers L12 ...... 48-00-0
Item to one pair of Stillyards L7: to one box Iron & Ructers L4
& one Char L1 ................................................................................. 12-00-0
Item to pewter L8: & two Glass bottles L1-16: & one laidle Kirk ......... 09-16-0
Item to another pail & Chesfals & one Earthen pan & a tunel ............ 02-05-0
Item to one Table L6 - to one Clark Stole & Small morter L1 ............. 07-00-0
Item to Two cowes L120: & five Sheep L25 ..................................... 145-00-0
Item to one wooden ladle Stick & a Chamber pot ............................. 00-10-0
.................................................................................................... 406-01-0
Abraham Smith
Jonah Steere

"Glocester July the 17th 1758
In Council Voted & Resolved that the above written Inventory be accepted allowed & it hereby is ordered to be Recorded, Richd Steere Clerk.
Received the 17-th of July 1758: & Recorded by R. Steere C Clerk."

"Whereas Elizabeth Smith of Glocester in the County of Providence widow deceased did in & by her Last will & Testament name and appoint her son Stephen Smith and William Hawkings both of said Glocester yeomen Executors of her Said will (but the said Stephen died before his mother the said Elizabeth) and Where as the said William did on the Seventeenth day of July Ad 1758: and in the thirty Second year of his majestys Reign George the Second of Great Britain &c King prove said will before the Town Council of Glocester aforesaid.

"These are therefore to order & fully Impower you the said William Hawkings: and you hereby are fully Impowered to take into your Care Custody & possession all & singular the personall Estate of the said Elisabeth that did at the Time of her death belong to her & on the Same fully to administer by paying all her Just Debts and Legacies & to act and do in all Cases as you by Law and the aforesaid will are Impowered and Required to do: and Render an account of your proceedings therein unto the Town Council or their Successors in said office when Legally called there unto: Given by order of the Town Council aforesaid Held at said Glocester the above said Seventeenth day of July AD 1758: and Sealed with their Seal by their order, I Richard Steere Clerk.
Recd the 17th of July 1758 and Recorded by R. Steere C. Clerk."

This is the will that provides the best evidence that her daughter, Ruth Hawkins, was the woman who married Nathaniel Wade (1709-1754) in 1731 in Scituate, RI and then married, as Nathaniel's widow, Zebedee Hopkins on 9 February 1758. In the will, written after Ruth's marriage to Zebedee Hopkins, she is clearly named as daughter Ruth Hopkins. Daughter Deborah Hawkins married Nathan Wade, a brother of Nathaniel Wade.

Elizabeth had a substantial personal estate, although some of the appraised values seem inflated to me. For instance, the bed without the bedstead was appraised at 100 pounds. I wonder how you "divide the best feather bed?" Her clothing and linen was valued at 159 pounds. The inventory does provide the value of a chamber pot - 10 shillings.

Note that these probate records define her death as 11 July 1758. Her son, Stephen Smith, died on 7 July 1758 and could not act as an executor.

Aren't probate records wonderful? I am always amazed that many researchers never search for them in order to solve their elusive ancestor problems.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daniel Horowitz talk on "Genealogy Super Search Engine"

Daniel Horowitz of MyHeritage gave a one hour plus presentation to about 70 attendees at the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego (CGSSD) June meeting on Saturday, 20 June. It was fast-paced, informative and humorous. Daniel is an engaging person and speaker, and he had his audience interested the whole 80 minutes.

He started his presentation "Genealogy Super Search Engine" by saying that he was going to show the audience how to "find relatives without searching." Everybody scoffed (well, almost everybody!), and said "that's impossible." Then he proceeded to do exactly that, and he did it using several methods.

The presentation had several components, all using Powerpoint slides (not online), including:

* Demonstrating the Surname Search Engine on the site. He covered the Exact, Soundex and Megadex options. Then he showed the results. Technically, this was a "search" on the surname, but the user does not have to search 1,500 databases - the user puts the name in once and the program finds matches in many databases. The user can then save the search results to the MyHeritage site and click through the matches at their leisure. Daniel recommended that the user "enjoy a cup of coffee" or do something else online while this search engine works.

* MyHeritage offers the Family Tree Builder Version 4.0 software for a free download. The software is full-featured, and can import GEDCOM files from other programs or the user can build their family tree one person at a time. They are working on an upgraded version, and will develop a version for the Mac in the (near?) future.

* MyHeritage offers a free basic website for registered users, with up to 250 persons permitted in the tree. A Premium website permits 2,500 persons in the tree, and a Premium Plus website permits an unlimited number of persons in the tree. A user can upload the tree directly from Family Tree Builder (any number of persons), can build it one person at a time on the MyHeritage website, or can upload a GEDCOM file to the MyHeritage site. A member's tree on the MyHeritage website can be downloaded in GEDCOM format to import to a user's desktop software.

* Once the tree is online on MyHeritage, then their "Smart Matches" system finds potential matches of the user's tree persons with persons in the trees of other MyHeritage users. These Smart Matches come in the online email at MyHeritage and at the user's home email address. This is truly "finding relatives without searching."

* Within the Family Tree Builder software, the user can run "Smart Matches" to other trees on the MyHeritage site. There is also a "Smart Research" capability wherein the user can click on the "Research" button in Family Tree Builder, select one person, a group or everyone in the database, and the program will search in 100 genealogy databases for matches (more finding relatives without searching). If you run this "Smart Search" for everyone in your tree, Daniel said to let it run overnight.

Those are the highlights from my notes. I tweeted the talk on Twitter - see my feed at on Saturday, 19 June. I made 57 entries in 75 minutes during the talk. One time Daniel made a comment "don't tell that to the world, Randy" and my response was "I already have." Oops.

During the first part of the talk, I entered "Seaver" in the Surname Search Engine and let it run. About 30 minutes later it finished with over 315,000 matches in 107 databases. I saved the search results for later review.

All in all, this was a talk that informed and impressed the audience. Daniel gave away 60 free copies of the Family Tree Builder software (I already had it installed on my computer and laptop).

After the presentation, Daniel and I joined several CGSSD/SDGS colleagues at a local restaurant and enjoyed a meal with fine food and conversation. I drove Daniel around Point Loma and downtown San Diego for a little sightseeing before dropping him off at Petco Park for the Padres-Orioles baseball game. He wanted to see batting practice, and I had to get home to pick up my wife to go to the game. Daniel had a seat down in the field level not far from the action. I hope he enjoyed himself.

UPDATED 6/23: Daniel told me in email that a user can upload a GEDCOM to the MyHeritage site. And he had a great time at the ball game too!

Best of the Genea-Blogs - June 13-19, 2010

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:

* Genealogist or Gossip by the writer of The Ancestry Insider. Mr. AI continues his series about evidence management and conclusions.

* Summer of Genealogy Wishes - I Wish For A Ph.D. by Karen Rhodes posted by Tina Lyons on the Gen Wish List blog. Karen wishes for a university that awards PhDs in genealogy, and one for herself.

* Missing Documents and NARA Responds to Issues by the writer of The Ancestry Insider. These posts discuss problems with missing documents on and the NARA response. NARA says it wasn't their fault, but now they're working with Ancestry on quality issues.

* President's 2009-2010 Year-End Review by Robert L. Ward on the Cape Cod Genealogical Society blog. Robert is the outgoing President of CCGS, and reported on the state of his society. If every society did this annually, they would have an excellent historical record!

* Why Read Blogs (and More)? by Carolyn L. Barkley on the blog. Very interesting advice in this article - are you reading more than blogs and applying the gained knowledge to your research?

* Genealogy Programs for Windows by Dick Eastman on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter blog. Dick describes many of the Windows genealogy software programs for his readers.

* Treasure Chest Thursday: Another enslaved ancestor found! and Follow Friday: Finding my Enslaved Third Great-Grandmother by Dionne Ford on the Finding Josephine blog. "I desire to find my people." Dionne's second great-grandmother wrote those words. A beautiful story, and a testament to the power of blogging, networking, and RAOGK.

* Ancestry’s Public Member Trees: An Addictive New Game by Greta Koehl on Greta's Genealogy Bog blog. Interesting take here by the Tree Trampler with Will Bombs and Land-Deed Grenades ... funny one too.

* Random thoughts on FamilySearch by James Tanner on the Genealogy's Star blog. James highlights some problems and quirks with the FamilySearch development that concern him.

* Lucky the Massachusetts Genealogist When It Comes to Vital Records by Polly Kimmitt on the Pollyblog blog. Ah, the travails of the New England researcher. Polly shows why it's not always easy, but easier than many places, to do research there.

* 10 Names I Decided Not To Use For My Genealogy Company by Chris Staats on the Staats Place blog. Chris has the humor pick of the week! I hope Elyse is paying attention!

* CoAAG 4th Edition: FreedomTweet 2010 ~ What Does FREEDOM Mean To You & Me? by Luckie Daniels on the Our Georgia Roots blog. The theme of this Carnival of African-American Genealogy was Freedom - what an excellent set of meaningful posts.

* Follow Friday 18 June 2010 by Greta Koehl on Greta's Genealogy Bog blog. A fine list of Greta's favorites from the week.

* Weekly Genealogy Picks by John Newmark on the TransylvanianDutch blog. John highlights his favorite reads of the week.

* SCGS Jamboree 2010 Post Summary highlights all of the genea-bloggers that wrote articles about their experiences at the SCGS Jamboree last weekend. Lots of neat research stories, photographs and talk summaries on the list!

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 640 genealogy bloggers using Bloglines, but I still miss quite a few it seems.

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here.

Happy Father's Day! - Great Quotes

From my email...

Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance. ~Ruth E. Renkel

It is much easier to become a father than to be one. ~Kent Nerburn

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. ~Mark Twain

Father! – to God himself we cannot give a holier name. ~William Wordsworth

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me. ~Jim Valvano

What a father says to his children is not heard by the world, but it will be heard for posterity. ~ Jean Paul Richter

Father taught us that opportunity and responsibility go hand in hand. I think we all act on that principle; on the basic human impulse that makes a man want to make the best of what’s in him and what’s been given him. ~Laurence Rockefeller

One father is worth more than a hundred schoolmasters. ~George Herbert

My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. ~Clarence Budington Kelland

I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection. ~Sigmund Freud

My father always told me, “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” ~Jim Fox

If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right. ~Bill Cosby

A man’s worth is measured by how he parents his children. What he gives them, what he keeps away from them, the lessons he teaches and the lessons he allows them to learn on their own. ~Lisa Rogers

You don’t have to deserve your mother’s love. You have to deserve your father’s. He’s more particular. ~Robert Frost

It is easy for a father to have children than for children to have a real father. ~Pope John XXIII
Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow. ~Reed Markham

That is the thankless position of the father in the family-the provider for all, and the enemy of all. ~August Strindberg

The fundamental defect of fathers is that they want their children to be a credit to them. ~Bertrand Russell

The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get. ~Tim Russert

Dad taught me everything I know. Unfortunately, he didn’t teach me everything he knows. ~Al Unser, Jr.

It is a wise father that knows his own child. ~William Shakespeare

A father is always making his baby into a little woman. And when she is a woman he turns her back again. ~Enid Bagnold

Why are men reluctant to become fathers? They aren’t through being children. ~Cindy Garner
By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong. ~Charles Wadsworth

Every dad, if he takes time out of his busy life to reflect upon his fatherhood, can learn ways to become an even better dad. ~Jack Baker

Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope. ~Bill Cosby

The father is always a Republican toward his son, and his mother’s always a Democrat.” ~Robert Frost

The father of a daughter is nothing but a high-class hostage. A father turns a stony face to his sons, berates them, shakes his antlers, paws the ground, snorts, runs them off into the underbrush, but when his daughter puts her arm over his shoulder and says, ‘Daddy, I need to ask you something,’ he is a pat of butter in a hot frying pan. ~Garrison Keillor

Life was a lot simpler when what we honored was father and mother rather than all major credit cards. ~Robert Orben

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. ~Johann Schiller

It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was. ~Anne Sexton

A father is a man who expects his son to be as good a man as he meant to be. ~Frank A. Clark

The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. ~Rev. Theodore Hesburgh

Love and fear. Everything the father of a family says must inspire one or the other. ~Joseph Joubert

Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes. ~Gloria Naylor

At a time of reproductive freedom for women, fatherhood must be more than a matter of DNA. A man must choose to be a father in the same way that a woman chooses to be a mother. ~Mel Feit

A man knows he is growing old because he begins to look like his father. ~Gabriel Garcia Marquez

To support mother and father, to cherish wife and children, and to have a simple livelihood; this is greatest blessing. ~Buddha

Aren't those great quotes? Thank you to Maddie Ruud who wrote Meaningful Quotes for Fathers & Fatherhood for the list.