Saturday, December 25, 2010

SNGF - My best genealogy Christmas gift

Here's my Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post for the week - the challenge was:

"What gift that you received for Christmas is your favorite for genealogy purposes? Book, magazine, hardware, software, website subscription, research time - what was it, and how will it affect your genealogy research?"

The only tangible genealogy gift I received was my very own presentation pointer for use in advancing slides and pointing at the screen.  It could be used as a cat exerciser, also. 

The intangible gifts are many - the hours spent with the grandchildren and my daughters, the hours spent talking to my brother-in-law and his partner about their ancestry.  Paul pulled out some pictures I had not seen before, and I scanned them and saved them to his hard drive and my flash drive.  We identified the people in two photos from their family structure - three boys and three girls, which led us to identifying the parents in separate portraits - all dated about 1880.  Paul and Deb were mesmerized by the genealogy software databases, and my ability to pull up information nearly instantaneously from the notes. 

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and that Santa was really good to them.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - what did you get?

It's Saturday Night - time for more Genealogy Fun! We can have lots of fun on Christmas! Come on, spill!  And it's OK to respond to this the day after too!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1) What gift that you received for Christmas is your favorite for genealogy purposes? Book, magazine, hardware, software, website subscription, research time - what was it, and how will it affect your genealogy research?

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

Since I am writing this several days before Christmas, and am in the Santa Cruz mountains with my daughter and grandsons when this post will publish, and have no clue what I'm getting (lumps of genealogy coal?), I will write a separate post with my own response!

Surname Saturday - FLETCHER (England to Massachusetts)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week. I am up to number 147, who is Elizabeth FLETCHER (1720-1761), one of my 5th-great-grandmothers. [Note: The 5th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts]

My ancestral line back through five generations of FLETCHER families is:

1. Randall J. Seaver

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

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

8. Frank Walton Seaver (1852-1922)
9. Hattie Louise Hildreth (1857-1920)

18.  Edward Hildreth (1831-1899)
19.  Sophia Newton (1834-1923)

36.  Zachariah Hildreth (1783-1857)
37.  Hannah Sawtell (1789-1857)

72.  Zachariah Hildreth (1754-1828)
73.  Elizabeth Keyes (1759-1793)

146. Jonathan Keyes, born 21 Jan 1721/22 in Chelmsford, Middlesex County, MA; died 20 Jun 1781 in Westford, Middlesex County, MA. He was the son of 292. Joseph Keyes and 293. Elizabeth Fletcher. He married 7. Elizabeth Fletcher 20 Jan 1745/46 in Westford, Middlesex County, MA.

147. Elizabeth Fletcher, born 09 Mar 1719/20 in Chelmsford, Middlesex County, MA; died 23 Jul 1761 in Westford, Middlesex County, MA.
Children of Jonathan Keyes and Elizabeth Fletcher are:  Joseph Keyes (1746-1823); Joanna Keyes (1749-1753); Aaron Keyes (1751-1753); Stephen Keyes (1754-1758); Joanna Keyes (1757-????); Elizabeth Keyes (1759-1793); Hannah Keyes (1761-1833).

294. Samuel Fletcher, born 06 Sep 1684 in Chelmsford, Middlesex County, MA; died 06 Sep 1749 in Westford, Middlesex, MA.  He married about 1712 in Chelmsford, Middlesex County, MA.
295. Hannah, born about 1689 in MA.

Children of Samuel Fletcher and Hannah are:  Samuel Fletcher (1713-????); Jacob Fletcher (1715-????); David Fletcher (1717-????); Hannah Fletcher (1718-????); Elizabeth Fletcher (1720-1761); Samuel Fletcher (1722-1730); Susanna Fletcher (1723-????); Jacob Fletcher (1725-????); Joanna Fletcher (1729-1730).

584. Samuel Fletcher, born before 01 Feb 1655/56 in Chelmsford, Middlesex County, MA; died before Dec 1723 in Chelmsford, Middlesex County, MA.  He married 06 Jul 1673 in Chelmsford, Middlesex County, MA.
585. Hannah Wheeler, born about 1649 in Concord, Middlesex County, MA; died 11 Dec 1697 in Chelmsford, Middlesex County, MA. She was the daughter of 1170. George Wheeler and 1171. Katherine Penn.

Children of Samuel Fletcher and Hannah Wheeler are:  William Fletcher (1673-1753); Hannah Fletcher (1676-????); Elizabeth Fletcher (1679-1715); Samuel Fletcher (1683-1683); Samuel Fletcher (1684-1749); Mary Fletcher (1686-1768); Lydia Fletcher (1689-1766); Susanna Fletcher (1692-????); Isaac Fletcher (1694-1772); Sarah Fletcher (1696-????).

1168. William Fletcher, born about 1622 in ENGLAND; died 06 Nov 1677 in Chelmsford, Middlesex County, MA.  He married  07 Nov 1645 in Concord, Middlesex County, MA.
1169. Lydia, born in ENGLAND; died 12 Oct 1704 in Chelmsford, Middlesex County, MA.

Children of William Fletcher and Lydia are: Lydia Fletcher (1647-????); Sarah Fletcher (1650-1656); Paul Fletcher (1656-????); Samuel Fletcher (1656-1723); William Fletcher (1657-1712); Mary Fletcher (1658-????); Esther Fletcher (1664-1693).

2336. Robert Fletcher, born about 1592 in ENGLAND; died 03 Apr 1677 in Concord, Middlesex County, MA. He married  before 1618 in ENGLAND.
2337.  Sarah, born in England.

Children of Robert Fletcher and Sarah are: Grissel Fletcher (1618-1669); Francis Fletcher (1620-1704); William Fletcher (1622-1677); Luke Fletcher (1625-1665); Samuel Fletcher (1632-1697);

Resources used for the Fletcher family include (besides Massachusetts town vital record books):

1.  Winifred Lovering Holman, Robert Fletcher of Concord, Mass. Bay, 1637, 1930 (manuscript on FHL Microfilm 0,015,506 Item 11

2.  Edward H. Fletcher, The Descendants of Robert Fletcher of Concord, Mass., Boston, Mass. : Rand, Avery & Co., Boston, 1881.

3.  Joan S. Guilford, The Ancestry of Dr. J.P. Guilford, Sheridan Psychological Services, Inc., 1990, Volume 1 (one line of the family).

I have several lines from Robert Fletcher in my ancestry.  In this particular line, I have four Fletcher wives that I only know the first names for - I wonder if any recent scholarship has found their maiden names?  I haven't looked for over ten years.  These problems may be solved once Massachusetts land and probate records are indexed and searchable. 

I'm sure that there are many readers descended from Robert Fletcher!

Merry Christmas to All!

There is a reason for the season! Thank you, God, for your Gift to the Earth.

Merry Christmas to all of my Christian readers and friends. I hope that this day finds you healthy, happy, with family and friends, and that Santa brings you everything you desire.

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night Before (the Genealogist's) Christmas

I received this parody of Clement Moore's masterpiece via email back in the mid-1990's, the author is unknown to me. Kimberly Powell at the About Genealogy page also has it on her site.

'Twas the night before Christmas
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even my spouse.

The dining room table with clutter was spread
With pedigree charts and with letters which said...
"Too bad about the data for which you wrote;
Sank in a storm on an ill-fated boat."

Stacks of old copies of wills and such
Were proof that my work had become too much.
Our children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

And I at my table was ready to drop
From work on my album with photos to crop.
Christmas was here, and such was my lot
That presents and goodies and toys I'd forgot.

Had I not been busy with grandparents' wills,
I'd not have forgotten to shop for such thrills,
While others bought gifts to bring Christmas cheers,
I'd spent time researching those birth dates and years.

While I was thus musing about my sad plight,
A strange noise on the lawn gave me such a great fright.
Away to the window I flew in a flash,
Tore open the drapes and yanked up the sash.

When what with my wondering eyes should appear,
But an overstuffed sleigh and eight small reindeer.
Up to the house top the reindeer they flew,
With a sleigh full of toys and 'ole Santa Claus, too.

And then in a twinkle, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of thirty-two hoofs.
As I drew in my head, and bumped it on the sash,
Down the cold chimney fell Santa--KER-RASH!

"Dear" Santa had come from the roof in a wreck,
And tracked soot on the carpet, (I could wring his short neck!)
Spotting my face, good 'ole Santa could see
I had no Christmas spirit you'd have to agree.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
And filled all the stockings, (I felt like a jerk).
Here was Santa, who'd brought us such gladness and joy:
When I'd been too busy for even one toy.

He spied my research on the table all spread
"A genealogist!" He cried! (My face was all red!)
"Tonight I've met many like you," Santa grinned,
As he pulled from his sack a large book he had penned.

I gazed with amusement--the cover it read
Genealogy Lines for Which You Have Plead.
"I know what it's like as a genealogy bug."He said
as he gave me a great Santa hug.

"While the elves make the sleighful of toys I now carry,
I do some research in the North Pole Library!
A special treat I am thus able to bring,
To genealogy folk who can't find a thing."

"Now off you go to your bed for a rest,
I'll clean up the house from this genealogy mess."
As I climbed up the stairs full of gladness and glee,
I looked back at Santa who'd brought much to me.

While settling in bed, I heard Santa's clear whistle,
To his team, which then rose like the down of a thistle.
And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,
"Family history is Fun! Merry Christmas! Goodnight!"

--Author Unknown

To all, I wish a very Merry Christmas, and I hope Santa brings you a special gift for your family history.

Advent Calendar - 24 December: Christmas Eve

This is the 24th of 24 posts for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, a Geneablogger tradition.

On the first day of Christmas,

Anticipation was high
For Santa Claus was nigh!

1) How did you and your family spend Christmas Eve?

As a child, we always (that I recall) spent Christmas Eve at my grandparents house in Point Loma because they had a chimney. At a young age, I was always trying to figure out how Santa Claus could visit us in our apartment flat - and my parents tried to prevent questions by doing this. I'm sure my grandparents loved this, since my brother and I were their only grandchildren.

It was also a handy place to store toys and gifts for us before the holidays. We used to look everywhere in our house for them.Then one frosty Christmas Eve, (um, well, wrong adjective, but what the hey) my brother and I were exploring my grandparents' garage - and found two bicycles. Aha - if we get these tomorrow from Santa, then we will know for sure that Santa is really our parents. Sure enough, there they were on Christmas morning - marked from Santa!

But, being smart little boys, we just smiled at each other, and kept the secret for another year or so. After all, we now had a new little brother to watch over and have fun with.Christmas Eve day also included shopping - at least for me (covered on Day 6).

Speaking of which, I need to go on Monday the 24th to get the stocking stuff for Linda and maybe another gift or two. I wonder if she wants a USB flash drive for my laptop? Or a netbook? Or a laser pointer? Oops, that's what I want, but maybe I'll pick them up just to make sure she has enough gifts.

Back to Christmas Eve - in our married life, when we were scheduled to fly to San Francisco on Christmas Day, we often had our Seaver family Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve with my parents, grandparents, cousin Dorothy and my brothers. This was always Christmas dinner, gift exchange, and family talk.

When we were in town, we went to church on Christmas Eve - when the kids were young, we usually went to the early service at 6 or 7 PM, and saw the Christmas Story, sang hymns, and had our candle light march (as I explained on Day 5).

In years when we travel to see our girls and their families, we usually leave several days before Christmas, spend two nights in Victorville, then arrive Christmas Eve day in Santa Cruz. Last year, the Santa Cruz family with the grand-boys was here the weekend before and we were in Victorville for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the grand-girls.  This year, we were in Victorville last weekend, we're in Monte Rio for Chrisrtmas Eve, and we'll get to the Santa Cruz family on Christmas Day in time for dinner.

When the grandkids are here, then there is the setting up and setting out of gifts on Christmas Eve while sugar plums dance in their heads, plus putting cookies and milk out for Santa, his elves and the reindeer.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Names in the Census Records

Here's an oldie but a goodie for my devoted readers --

I was devastated when the post came out several years ago about the Christmas characters that Dan Lynch posted on his web site,  I had worked on most of those names for two weeks and was waiting for the "season" to post them.

So, here are the rest of my "character" findings (originally posted in 2006) -

1) Ebenezer Scroggs (1850, Harrison County OH) is as close to Ebenezer Scrooge as I can get.

2) Robert Crachet (1880, Scott County AR). Another Robert Crachet flew into New York City from Paris on Air France on 2 August 1956 - maybe to perform in a play on Broadway?

3) Three Grinch brothers (Charles, John and Lenwards) came into New York City on 6 September 1875 aboard the "Egypt." There is no word if they came to steal Christmas. Obviously, if they did, they failed.

4) There is a Jasper Magi and Baldermo Magi (1930, Fairfield County CT) but no Melchior; there are Gaspar Wiseman (1930, Queens County NY) and Melvin Wiseman (1930, Muskegon county MI), but no Balthasar or similar.

5) There are 18 Harold Angel persons in the 1930 census. No Hark Angel, however.

6) Sila Knight (1870, Randolph County, AL) is the closest to Silent Night I could find. Lots of Silas Knight people.

7) There are 3 Noel Noel persons in the 1930 census.

8) Angel Angel (1930, Maricopa County AZ) is one of the repeating angels.

9) There are two Merry Christmas girls in the 1930 census (there are lots of Mary Christmas females too).

10) Holly Bush (1930, Roanoke County VA) sticks out.

11) Christ Tree (1930, LaPorte County IN) probably extended his branches

12) Jessie Manger (1930, Polk County IA) parents were not Joseph and Mary

13) Then there are Santa's reindeer: Were they:

Cupid Wiseman
Melvin Dancer
Hugo Blitzen
Chris Donder
Rudolf Dasher
Dasher Berry
Prancer Saner
Vixen Locke
Theodore Comet

Just wondering!!

You know, if Bah Morgan (1900, Stephenson IL) had married Cecil Humbug (1900, Delaware County PA) we would have had more Humbugs than we would know what to do with.

I'm wondering if Alvin Monk (1930, Schoharie County NY), Simon Monk (1930, Lonoke AR) and Theodore Monk (1930, Cotton County OK) really got together in 1958 to sing The Chipmunk Song. Maybe they weren't a figment of Ross Bagdasarian's imagination.

OK, I'm done! I hope you enjoyed this little prance down Santa Claus lane.

What other Christmas related names are there? C'mon, lay them on me.

Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver's Civil War Pension File: Dropped from the Rolls

For Treasure Chest Thursday, I am presenting and transcribing papers from the Civil War Pension File (selected documents) of my Second Great-Grandfather, Isaac Seaver (1823-1901). In previous posts, I've presented:

* Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver's Pension Declaration
* Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver's Civil War Pension File: Widow's First Declaration
* Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver's Civil War Pension File: General Affidavit #1
* Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver's Civil War Pension File: General Affidavit #2
Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver's Civil War Pension File: 1900 Status Report

Isaac Seaver's death on 12 March 1901 was reported to the Pension Office and this form was added to the pension file:

The transcription of this document is:

Act of June 27, 1890.
Pensioner Dropped.

U.S. Pension Agency,
May 31, 190 1
Certificate No.  850,736
Class  Valid
Pensioner Isaac Seaver 3d
Soldier  _____________
Service Pri. H 4 Mass V H A
W O 738086
Hon. Commissioner of Pensions:

SIR: I have the honor to report that the
above-named pensioner who was last paid
at $ 8   to 4 March, 1 901
has been dropped because of REPORTED DEATH
Date 12 Mch 1901
Very respectfully,
Pension Agent.

The useful information from this document is that Isaac Seaver was receiving a pension of $8 per month for his service. 

Advent Calendar - 23 December: Christmas and Sweetheart Memories

This is the 23rd of 24 posts for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, a Geneablogger tradition.

On the 2nd day of Christmas

My true love spoils me
With so many Christmas gifts.

1) Do you have a special memory of a first Christmas present from a sweetheart?

I have no clue what the first Christmas present from Linda was in 1969. I do know that we made a commitment to each other about that time, and that was the greatest gift I could have received. We married in March 1970.

2) How did you spend your first Christmas together?

We didn't in 1969, even though that was our first year "together." Linda flew up to San Francisco to be with her parents, brother and other relatives for Christmas. I probably took her to the airport on the 23rd or 24th, and I'm sure that I welcomed her back several days after Christmas.

In the literal sense, our first Christmas together (1970) was spent in San Francisco at her parents house on 47th Avenue in the Sunset District. I had been there several times before. It was one of those row houses ("little boxes on the hillside") that was essentially 24' by 24' with two stories - living above, garage below. They had added a room (again probably 24' by 24') on both stories - the upper room was her parents' bedroom, the lower room was the party room.

When we visited, we got to sleep in the second bedroom with a foldout bed. A terrible bed - had a plywood board under the two-inch thick mattress. Christmas there was different - with several elderly family members coming to dinner and close neighbors dropping by.

The atmosphere was celebratory, everyone seemed happy to see everyone else, liquor flowed freely, and the gifts were forgettable. But the family feeling was always there. The most special person was Linda's grandmother - called "Oo Hoo" (yep - you guessed it, when Linda was a child, when they arrived at the door, her aunt would call out "Yoo hoo" and "Oo Hoo" would come to greet everybody. The name stuck - everybody used it). In 1970, she was age 86 and had attended our wedding and just beamed when her granddaughter married this nice young engineer man from San Diego with some hair. Paul and I would go fetch the elderly aunts, another elderly distant cousin and her husband would come also, and a widow from down the street who was her parents good friend.

As the years went on, we alternated celebrating Christmas in San Francisco and San Diego. When the girls came along, we kept this tradition well into the 1980's.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - A Christmas Greeting!

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.

Here is a recent photograph (from last Christmas, we haven't changed much!), taken at our home of my wife Linda and myself as we prepared ourselves for the "four grandchildren opening gifts in one hour."

From our home to yours,

We Wish You All a Very Merry Christmas!

We are off now for a visit to our daughter's home in Santa Cruz - so blogging will be light. I will have my laptop available and will read but may not blog.

Advent Calendar - 22 December: Christmas and Deceased Relatives

This is the 22nd of 24 posts for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, a Geneablogger tradition.

On the 3rd Day of Christmas

My true love said "I'm sad,
Let's go see your mom and dad."

1) Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas?

I have specific memories of, as a boy, going with my mother and her parents to put flowers on the wall to honor Georgia Auble, and Austin and Della Carringer, at the Cypress View mausoleum. I think it was at Christmas. My grandparents were very close to their parents, having lived with them, or next door to them, nearly all their lives. I think I took my mother (since she didn't drive) to Cypress View after her parents died for several years at Christmas.

I don't recall going to my father's grave at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery at Christmas time, although we went occasionally when we had Seaver family visitors.

2) How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?

We have never had shrines or anything like that for our deceased relatives. There are pictures on the walls of them. At the Christmas Day dinner, I usually lead a family prayer and specifically mention those that have gone before, and name them by name (I only go back to my grandparents! It would be a really long prayer otherwise).

I had hoped to gather thumb sized face photos of as many ancestors as possible from my collection of photographs and get them put onto Christmas tree ornaments but that project was put on hold. If I did that, then I could put the photos in my online Family Trees too.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The 12 Days of a Genealogist's Christmas

A genealogy oriented version of the Twelve Days of Christmas is available on the Internet - see Kimberly Powell's site at

I decided I would do my own based on using computer genealogy, my own needs and my own research:

On the 12th day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me --

Twelve Revolutionary War pension files with the Family Bible -pages included (12)

Eleven passenger lists clearly written (22)

Ten WorldConnect entries of elusive ancestors (30)

Nine message board postings from distant cousins (36)

Eight probate files (40)

Seven census pages (42)

Six deed abstracts (42)

Five newspaper obituaries (40)

Four marriage records (36)

Three family Bibles (30)

Two draft registration images (22)

And a new name in my family tree. (12)

I've put the total number in parenthesis of each item - if you sing the song all the way through, going one number at a time.

My true love is a busy girl, isn't she?

But, but, but ... that would take all the fun out of the ancestor search, wouldn't it?

Tombstone Tuesday - Shubael and Hannah (Wilson) Seaver in Roxbury

I ran out of tombstone pictures several months ago, but found some photos taken by a distant Seaver cousin many years ago in my drawer.  I scanned them at the last Scanfest, and want to share them today:

My cousin, Jack Beierle, sent me a letter, dated 1995, with a map of the "Eliot Burial Ground" cemetery location in Roxbury, Massachusetts (now within Boston city limits).  The cemetery is on the northeast corner of Washington and Eustis Streets:
Jack's directions from downtown Boston say:

" Take (3) south, take exit 18 "Roxbury." After exit, bear to the left avoiding Mass. ave. and following sign to "Melnea Cass Blvd."  Turn left on Harrison (light, left turn lane).  Turn right at next corner on Eustis.  Turn right on Washington going north - you will find legal parking on the right (two-three spaces).  To arrange to have the cemetery unlocked, call Elizabeth Shepard at (617) 635-4505, extension 6516.  There's voice mail and she's most likely to be at her desk mid-afternoon."

Here are the two photos that Jack took and shared with me:

The stone on the left is Hannah Sever's (1647-1722).  Only some of the words can be read since the stone has weathered over time:

"Here lyes yt body of
Mrs. Hannah Sever
ye wife of Mr. Shubael
Sever she died Febr
ye ..."

The stone in the middle is Shubael Sever's (1640-1730).  Only some of the words are readable due to weathering:

"Here lyes buried
ye body of Mr Shu
bael sever He died
ye ..."

Obviously, Jack's information is over 15 years old, so the person at the phone number, and even the phone number, may be non-responsive. 

My thanks to Jack for the photos, and I hope he doesn't mind my posting them on this blog post.  I have lost contact with him over the years... Jack, if you're reading this, having done a Google search for yourself, please contact me at

Advent Calendar - 21 December: Christmas Music

This is the 21st of 24 posts for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, a Geneablogger tradition.

On the 4th Day of Christmas

My true love sang to me,
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
(in J-sharp, but with spirit!)

1) What songs did your family listen to during Christmas?

When I was a boy, we sang the traditional carols at school - Joy to the World, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Away in a Manger, Deck the Halls, The First Noel, Oh Come All Ye Faithful come to mind. So, as a child, I knew the tunes and the first stanza of each. These came in handy on Christmas Eve when we stayed at my grandparents house - she would come into the bedroom (no doubt my parents and grandfather were putting stuff together in the garage or living room) and we would sing together for quite a while before going to bed hoping that sugar plums would dance in our heads (a sugar plum? I'm sure I hoped for dreams of toys and fun things). I don't remember my parents singing Christmas carols, or popular Christmas songs, in the home.

After I was married and the girls came along, our house was filled with Christmas carols because they were always practicing for the King's Kids performances in church. We would often sing some carols and popular songs just before bed with them.

2) Did you ever go caroling?

As a boy, I never went caroling. Sing in public, who, me? Mr. J-sharp? Nope.

As a parent, we went several times with our kids as part of the church couples group. We usually got a list of shut-in families from the church office and would go around singing to them. Now, there is a yearly Christmas Carol event on a Sunday before Christmas (it was two Sundays ago - we didn't go this year).

3) Did you have a favorite song?

I think my favorite traditional Christmas carols are "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World." Of the newer carols, I love "Angels We Have Heard on High."

Of the popular Christmas songs, my tastes range from Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," "Winter Wonderland" and "Silver Bells" to Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and Elmo's "Grandma Got Run over By a Reindeer."

I like the "12 Days of Christmas" parodies too - see and hear them here (I've been waiting to slip that in somewhere).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - Probate Papers of Joseph Keyes (1667-1757) of Westford, Mass.

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started this blog theme  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."

The subject today is the probate file of Joseph Keyes (1667-1757) of Westford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, one of my 7th great-grandfathers.  He married Joanna Cleaveland (1670-1758) in 1690 in Chelmsford, Mass.  They had five children:  Lydia (1693-????); Joanna (1695-1787); Joseph (1698-1744); Miriam (1700-????).

Joseph Keyes died testate, and his will is included in Middlesex County [Massachusetts] Probate Records, Packet #13,196 (accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,416,784). The will reads:

"In the Name of God Amen. I Joseph Keyes of Westford in the County of Middlesex Gen^n being in Bodyly health & of sound and Disposing mind and memory Thanks be given unto God, therefore Calling unto mind the Mortality of my body and Knowing that it is appointed for all Men to dye, Do for Avoiding Controversies after my Decease Make Publish & Declare this my Last Will and Testament in maner following And first of all I give and Recommend my Soul unto the Hands of God that gave it, and my body I Recommend to the Earth to be Buried In Decent Christian Burial at the Discretion of my Executor. Nothing Doubting but at ye General Resurrection I Shall Receive the same again by the Mighty power of god. And as Touching such Worldly Estate wherewith it hath pleased God to Bless me in this Life I Give Demiss and Despose of the same in the following manner and form.

"Imprimus I Give and bequeath to Joannah my Dearly Beloved Wife all my Houshold goods During her Life, also I give to Mirriam Lofton my Eldest Daughter Twelve Pounds & Ten Shilling in Bills Emitted in the year One Thousand Seven Hundred and forty four or in other Bills Eaqul to the same mailing Bills of the Province of the Massachusestts Bay and one Cow. Also I give to my Daughter Lydia Mudge Twelve Pounds and Ten Shilling in the Like Bills Described aforesaid.

"Also I give to my Daughter Joannah Fitch Twelve Pounds and Ten Shillings in the Like Bills Described aforesaid, and Also I give to my Three Daughters Mirriam Lydia and Joannah after my wife Decease all my Houshold goods Eaquily to be Devided amongst them. And the Sums of money that I have given to my Three Daughters before Named, my will is that Jonathan Kyes my Grandson Should pay unto my Three Daughters or to Thare Heirs or Assigns The full sum before mentioned in Two Years after my Decease.

"Also my will is that the Children of my Son Joseph Keyes deceased shall have paid out of my Estate after my Death the Sum of Twenty shillings in Bills of the Last Emittion of the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

"Also I Do Nominate and appoint Josiah Sartell of Groton in the County of Middlesex to be Sole Executor of this my Last Will and Testament, And I do hereby utterly Disallow Revoke and Disannul all and every other former Testament & Wils Legacies and Bequests and Executors by me in any ways before Named Willed and Bequeathed, Ratifying and Confirming this and no other to be my Last Will and Testament In Witness Whereof I have hereunto Sett my Hand and Seal this Twenty Ninth Day of June One Thousand Seven Hundred And forty five And in the Eighteenth year of his Majesties Reign.

"Signed Sealed Published
Pronounced and Declared
By the said Joseph Kyes ................................................ Joseph Keyes
as his Last Will and
Testament In Presence
of us the Subscribers
Jacob Wright
Andrew Spaulding
Ephraim Wright"

The will of Joseph Keyes, late of Westford, gentleman, was presented for probate by Josiah Sawtell. Jacob Wright and Andrew Spaulding made oath that they saw the said testator sign, seal and declare the will to be his last will and testament. The will was proved by the Court on 11 July 1757.

Joseph Keyes wrote his will in June 1745, after his only son died.  Conceniently for researchers, he named his three daughters with their married names, and also named his grandson Jonathan, who must be a son of his only son, Joseph Keyes, deceased.  I descend from Joseph Keyes, this testator, through Joseph Keyes (1698-1744) and his son, Jonathan Keyes (1722-1787).

Advent Calendar - 20 December: Religious Services

This is the 20th of 24 posts for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, a Geneablogger tradition.

On the 5th Day of Christmas,

my true love reminded me
Of the reason for the season.

1) Did your family attend religious services together during the Christmas season?

As a child, my family did not attend any religious services. Neither of my parents had a religious tradition, although we boys were baptized. My brother Stan and I attended the Presbyterian church two blocks down 30th Street when we were young teens, but I don't recall Christmas traditions.

Linda and I married in and joined the Chula Vista Presbyterian Church in 1970, and have been members, and have served as elder and deacon, ever since. We have always attended religious services at Christmas, and participated in them as I noted in the Arts post.

When the girls were young, we would usually attend the Family Christmas Eve service (usually at 6 or 7 PM) with the Christmas Story and Christmas carols (and sometimes I was a wise man in a tableau). After the girls left home, we usually attended either the family service or the late evening communion service which was more solemn.

Now that our girls have families, we are not always at home - usually we are at one of their homes to celebrate Christmas.

2) What were the customs and traditions involved?

The really outstanding (literally, as you'll understand!) tradition, in my mind, is the parade of parishioners with lighted candles proceeding, after the service, from the sanctuary outside to gather around the cross, and singing Silent Night until everyone has gathered around the cross. Initially, the cross was in the patio next to the sanctuary, but now it's down in the parking lot in the center of a traffic circle. It is usually cold (for Chula Vista, that means the 40s or 50s) on Christmas Eve, but rarely wet, so everybody is in their Christmas finery and coats. After the song ends, the pastor gives a benediction, and everybody hugs and wishes "Merry Christmas" to their friends and colleagues. It is a solemn, mystical and inspirational end to the evening.  It was usually the highlight to my Christmas season... well, except for the excitement of Christmas Day watching the little ones discover gifts and trying them out.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Best of the Genea-Blogs - December 12-18, 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:

ProGen Study Groups by Angela McGhie on the Adventures in Genealogical Education blog.  Angela outlines the ProGen Study Group program and encourages serious genealogists who want to improve their skills to consider joining a group.

Planning Reasonably Exhaustive Research by Tonia Kendrick on the Tonia's Roots blog.  Tonia shares her notes from a Thomas Jones lecture on this topic.

Technologically speaking, where will we be next year at this time? Part One and Part Two by James Tanner on the Genealogy's Star blog.  Crystal ball time - and James has a fairly clear one!

Applying The Scientific Method to Genealogical Research (Part 6) by Steve Danko on Steve's Genealogy Blog.  This series demonstrates how Steve uses the scientific method to analyze and solve research problems.  The link is to the last part, which has links to all six of the posts in the series.

“Gimme an ‘N’!”: Using Neighbors To Solve Deed Dilemmas by Chris Staats on the Staats Place blog.  Chris has success using the FAN Club principle (Friends, associates, Neighbors) to sort out some property ownership trails.

Benjaman Kyle – Close Calls, Part I and Part II by Colleen Fitzpatrick on the Identifinders Blog.  Like many others, I am fascinated by the Benjaman Kyle case.  I love that Colleen is sharing her progress in the case on a regular basis. 

*  Lost Souls of Children by Polly Kimmitt on the Pollyblog.  Polly found newspaper reports for a child that died young with no official record of birth or death in one of her ancestral families.  Good work, including using an online family tree as a finding aid.

The Top Personal History Blogs of 2010 by Dan Curtis on the Dan Curtis - Professional Personal Historian blog.  Check Dan's picks for 2010 - you'll enjoy the reads.

We Want Tech: Automatic Citations by the writer of The Ancestry Insider blog.  Mr. AI laments the poor citation creations on and FamilySearch and yearns for something better.

What is research: Understanding the Kaleidoscope  by GeneJ on the Build a Better GEDCOM blog.  I love the graphic in this post created by GeneJ.  Very helpful to understand doing a Reasonably Exhaustive Search.

More thoughts on preservation by Pat Richley-Erickson on the DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Blog.  Ol' MYRT commented on the NARA post about the 2010 Census preservation, and has more questions and comments besides. 

Trends in use of genealogy-related terms revealed by John D. Reid on the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog.  John used the new Google Books NGram Viewer to look for trends over the past 200 years

Online Historical Newspapers Galore! by Miriam Midkiff on the Ancestories: Stories of My Ancestors blog.  There are two major announcements and additions to the online newspaper world - Miriam is on top of them.
A Digital Genealogical Disaster Plan or What's the Minimal Amount of Family HIstory to Pass On? by Michelle Goodrum on The Turning of Generations blog.  Excellent list.  Michelle's actually doing this - have you?  I haven't.  I should.

Several other genea-bloggers wrote weekly pick posts this week, including:

* Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere - December 17 by Susan Petersen on the Long Lost blog.

* Best Bytes for the Week of December 17, 2010 by Elizabeth O'Neal on the Little Bytes of Life blog.

* Friday Newsletter and Follow News: 17 December 2010 by Greta Koehl on Greta's Genealogy Bog blog.

* Donna's Picks - December 17, 2010 by Donna Pointkouski on the What's Past is Prologue blog.

I encourage you to go to the blogs listed above and read their articles, and add their blog to your Favorites, Google Reader, RSS 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 740 genealogy bloggers using Google Reader, but I still miss quite a few it seems.

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here.

Genea-Musings is on the road for the next two weeks, so there will be no Best of the Genea-Blogs posts on 26 December or 2 January.  BOGB will return on 9 January!

Advent Calendar - 19 December: Christmas Shopping

This is the 19th of 24 posts for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, a Geneablogger tradition.

On the 6th Day of Christmas,

My true love "ordered" me
To go out and buy some jewelry.

1) How did your family handle Christmas shopping?

When I was growing up, I think my mother did all of the Christmas shopping for all of her boys (three sons and a hubby). I hope (but I don't know!) that my father shopped for my mother - I really don't have a memory of gifts that she received. We usually had gifts made at school for mom and dad.

When I became a teenager, I went shopping with my mother to get gifts for my brothers and my father. I also shopped for my mother - but I don't remember any gifts I bought. I do remember one year, when I was probably in college, that I bought a new mailbox for mom and dad - I was so proud of this practical gift. I got some strange looks that year.

Linda now does most of the Christmas shopping for family and friends, including our daughters, their hubbies and kids. I tag along sometimes for consultation.

She spoils me with gifts - always including chocolate (for my semi-yearglass figure - fully expanded, needing suspenders, yea verily, the sands of time have not been kind), white socks, printer ink cartridges, computer things (I usually pick it out) and some clothes - necessities.

My only real shopping task is to shop for my Angel Linda. It's a big job, but someone has to do it.

I got her a spa subscription two years ago (she loved it!), a digital camera three years ago (she uses it occasionally, but pictures are usually fuzzy), a laptop computer five years ago (I got it early and use it - she doesn't like it), and a digital camcorder six years ago (she doesn't use it). I try to buy nice clothes for her - essentially blouses, sweaters, pants. Her favorite colors are aqua, green, blue, purple, and red. She likes fancy things, but not items that have to be dry-cleaned. She sometimes buys things for herself and hands them to me to wrap for her. Jewelry is a must each year - and sometimes she tells me what she would like - gold earrings, bracelets, necklaces (but most are not long enough or are too fragile) with angel charms or figurines are prized. It is a challenge each year to find something new and different.

2) Did anyone finish early or did anyone start on Christmas Eve?

I always finish early - at least before Christmas Day. Linda usually starts before Thanksgiving, and usually has things well in hand by a week before Christmas. I'm still shopping this year...

Linda's brother is famous for waiting until Christmas Eve to shop. There were years that he and I would go out shopping on the 24th to find gifts for his sister, his dad, his girlfriend, etc.

3) What are the highlights of shopping for you (an added question)?

The first highlight is finding a real special gift for Linda that will make her face light up and earn me a big hug and kiss, even a leer. The second highlight is watching the little kids sitting on Santa's lap in the little house on the mall walk. I stopped the other day and watched for about ten minutes while four kids talked to Santa. One cried the whole time, one was scared to death and wanted to get away, but two sat there and talked to him and hugged him at the end. Most of the kids are dressed up, and so are the moms accompanying them. I like watching the Santa helpers too...