Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Ahnentafel Roulette!

Hey there, genea-lovers, it's Saturday Night - time for more Genealogy Fun!!
Your mission, if you decide to accept it, is to (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) How old is your great-grandfather now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."

2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ahnentafel (ancestor name list). Who is that person?

3) Tell us three facts about that person with the "roulette number."

4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook or Google Plus note or comment, or as a comment on this blog post.

5) If you do not have a person's name for your "roulette number" then spin the wheel again - pick a grandparent, a  parent, a favorite aunt or cousin, or even your children!

Here's mine:

My great-grandfather, Henry Austin Carringer, was born in 1853, so if he were alive he would be 158 years old.  Divided by four (doing this in my head) is 39.5, rounded off to #39.

Number 39 in my ancestor name list is Sophia Buck (1797-1882) - here is her entry:

39. Sophia Buck was born on 3 May 1797 in Holden, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States, daughter of Isaac Buck and Martha Phillips. She died on 6 Jan 1882 at the age of 84 in Westborough, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States.  Sophia Buck and Thomas J. Newton were married about 1832 in probably Worcester, Massachusetts, United States.
Three facts about Sophia Buck:

1)  Sophia Buck was married three times - first to Lambert Brigham in before 22 February 1817 in Sterling MA ("Columbian Centinal" newspaper, Boston, Massachusetts, 22 February 1817, "Sophia Buck m. Lambert Brigham, formerly of Westborough, in Sterling."). Secondly, to Thomas J. Newton after 1830 and before 1832, place unknown (no record found to date).  Thirdly, to Jonathan Stone on 7 July 1862 in Northborough MA. She was listed as Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) Newton, age 63, born in Holden MA, in this record ("Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910," online database, New England Historic Genealogical Society, American Ancestors (, citing original data at Massachusetts State Archives, Marriages: Volume 155, Page 224).

2)  Sophia had at least four children - Augustus Brigham (1820-1903), Aurelius Brigham (1830-1878), Thomas J. Newton (1832-1915), and Sophia Newton (1834-1923).

3)  Sophia Stone died 6 January 1882 in Westborough MA ("Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910," online database, New England Historic Genealogical Society, American Ancestors (, citing original data at Massachusetts State Archives, Deaths: Volume 339, Page 452). The extracted data from the record includes:

"Sophia (Buck) Stone, widow, age 84y 7m 3d, resident of Westborough MA, died of heart disease, born in Holden MA, parents Isaac and Martha (Phillips), father born in Southboro MA, no listing for mother."

Doing this exercise makes me wonder if I ever looked to see if there was a probate file for Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) (Newton) Stone in the Worcester County Probate Records.

Surname Saturday - STEARNS (England > colonial Massachusetts)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week. I am up to number 271, who is Abigail STEARNS (1716-1798), one of my 6th-great-grandparents. [Note: The 6th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts]

My ancestral line back through four generations of STEARNS  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)

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

32. Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825)
33. Abigail Gates (1797-1869)

66. Nathan Gates (1767-1830)
67. Abigail Knowlton (1774-1855)

134. Jeremiah Knowlton (1745->1783)
135. Abigail Pierce (1750-1776)

 270.  Samuel Peirce, born 03 July 1712 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; died 30 March 1772 in Waltham, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  He was the son of 540. John Peirce and 541. Elizabeth Smith.  He married 03 June 1739 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.
 271.  Abigail Stearns, born before 01 January 1716 in Lexington, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; died 25 July 1798 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  

Children of Samuel Peirce and Abigail Stearns are:  Abigail Peirce (1740-1747); Samuel Peirce (1741-1806), Elizabeth Peirce (1743-1808); Daniel Peirce (1746-1747); Nathaniel Peirce (1748-1749); Abigail Peirce (1750-1776); Judith Peirce (1753-1805); Ezra Peirce (1755-1795); Beulah Peirce (1764-????).

 542.  George Stearns, born before 22 June 1690 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; died 26 June 1760 in Waltham, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  He married 23 October 1712 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.
 543.  Hannah Sanderson, born 31 May 1689 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; died 21 May 1770 in Waltham, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  She was the daughter of 1086. Jonathan Sanderson and 1087. Abiah Bartlett.

Children of George Stearns and Hannah Sanderson are:  Jonathan Stearns (1713-1758); Abigail Stearns (1716-1798); Judith Stearns (1716-????); David Stearns (1717-????); Hannah Stearns (1719-????); Lydia Stearns (1724-????); John Stearns (1727-????); Daniel Stearns (1729-1779).

 1084.  John Stearns, born 24 January 1657 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; died 22 February 1722 in Lexington, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  He married about 1681 in probably Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.
 1085.  Judith Lawrence, born 12 May 1660 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; died before 02 April 1713 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  She was the daughter of 2170. George Lawrence and 2171. Elizabeth Crispe.

Children of John Stearns and Judith Lawrence are:  Rebecca Stearns (1683-????); Judith Stearns (1690-????); Sarah Stearns (1690-????); George Stearns (1690-1760); Benjamin Stearns (1690-????); John Stearns (1692-????); Abigail Stearns (1700-????); Thomas Stearns (1701-1772); Daniel stearns (1701-????); Isaac Stearns (1701-????); Mary Stearns (1701-????); Elizabeth Stearns (1701-????); Charles Stearns (1701-????).  Many of these "birth" dates are baptism dates.

 2168.  Charles Stearns, born before 07 January 1616 in Fordham, Essex, England; died in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.  He was the son of 4336. Charles Stearns and 4337. Martha Lasall.  He married 22 June 1654 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.
 2169.  Rebecca Gibson, born about 1634 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  She was the daughter of 4338. John Gibson and 4339. Rebecca.
Children of Charles Stearns and Rebecca Gibson are:  Shubael Stearns (1655-1734); John Stearns (1657-1722); Isaac Stearns (1658-1692); Charles Stearns (1660-1695); Rebecca Stearns (1661-1746); Martha Stearns (1663-????).

The biography and descendants of Charles Stearns is ably summarized in the book:

Mrs. Avis Stearns Van Wagenen, Genealogy and Memoirs of Charles and Nathaniel Stearns, and their Descendants (Syracuse, NY: Courier Printing Co., 1901).

Friday, September 2, 2011

I'm almost ready now to go research!

In How do I catch up to 13 years of genealogy sloth? I lamented that I had fallen behind in keeping track of the genealogy and family history resources that I have in my possession, and knowing what resources were available to seek out for my ancestral families.

Please understand that much of my "research" is really finding what has already been published, hopefully by competent researchers.  My "real research" uses that information as a starting point, and tries to find original source records to verify the information, and to find new information (especially probate, land, tax, and other records not available in online databases).  I tend to rely on "authoritative" and "reliable" sources for ancestral families (e.g., The Great Migration Begins, Mayflower Families), especially those in the early colonial time period and before.  There are not enough years to check all of the records available in New England and England personally! 

Two weeks ago, I set a goal to get my "Source Reference Lists" in order, and to update my "Books and Journals to Review List."  I finished those today.  I took these steps:

1)  Went through my piles of "to-be-filed" papers and entered the source on my Source Reference Lists. 

2)  Used Martin Hollick's book, New Englanders in the 1600s, to add content for my colonial New England families and most of my colonial New Jersey families.  Martin's book indexes published genealogical research from 1980 to 2005 for New England families, and is invaluable!  I added items to my "Books to Review: list, noting author, title, and volume/page numbers.  I did the same thing for periodicals, separating them into three categories - the New England Historic Genealogical Register, The American Genealogist, and all other periodicals. 

3)  Edited and printed the lists, and put them in my master research notebook.  They are also in a file on my flash drive and my laptop, which is going to the Midwest with me.

What I don't have is a complete listing of resources by family before 1980 or since 2005.  Oh well, I only had two weeks! 

I don't have listings of resources for non-New England locations for my surnames either, but nearly all of my ancestral families, and brick walls, are in New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

I am going to check PERSI (the Periodical Source Index) for my brick wall surnames (well, not Smith...) and for many of my localities outside of New England and see what is available.

The primary research repository on this trip is the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where I plan to be on Monday, 12 September.  I only planned for one day, so I'm going to go for the "low hanging fruit" of the periodicals that I cannot easily access here in San Diego, and the recently published books that I find to be authoritative and well-sourced.

At the Watertown, Wisconsin Library and the Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, Community Library, I'm going to search for local newspapers in the 1840 to 1870 time period that might have information about my Devier J. Lanphear Smith and the Samuel Vaux family.  I'm particularly interested in Devier's marriage in 1861 and his name official change in 1866.  Perhaps there will be leads there about his birth parents.  Or not.

At the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, I will ask about the court records for Devier's name change in 1866, look for "vertical files" for my Smith, Vaux and Seaver families, and search local newspapers for information about my wife's Norwegian families, plus cemetery transcriptions and information about the towns they settled in (Cottage Grove and Deerfield.  I only have one day here, so I will do a survey first and then search the most promising leads.

Then we will visit the towns where the Leland/Natvig homesteads were located, and visit the churches and cemeteries that they worshipped in and are buried in.  I need to look for local historical societies also, if they exist.

Finally, we'll visit Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, Wisconsin where the Ranslow Smith Four-Mile Inn has been relocated and refurbished in their living history collection.  Ranslow Smith was the adoptive father of Devier J. Smith.  Devier grew up in this Inn, and ran the livery stable when he was a young man.  I hope that they have the stable at OWW! 

I'm almost ready to go!  Blogging may be light...

1000Memories Breakfast Panel at FGS Conference on Thursday

I was invited to attend a Breakfast Panel meeting, hosted by 1000Memories, at 7 a.m. on Thursday, 8 September at the Federation of Genealogy Societies conference.  Michael Katchen of 1000Memories sent me this information and asked me to write about it.  The 1000Memories blog post is Engaging your family in genealogy: A panel at FGS 2011:

The Panel is titled "Engaging your family in genealogy" and the panelists include two of the genealogy community’s top personalities, D. Joshua Taylor and Pat Richley (Dear Myrtle).

Joshua is Conference Chair for the 2011 FGS Conference and a nationally recognized genealogical speaker, author, and researcher. Myrt is a prolific genealogy blogger and author of DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Blog, currently rated among the top blogs in the industry.

This all-star team (which also includes Jonathan Good, co-founder of 1000memories), will tackle one one of the biggest issues confronting the genealogy community today: how to get the next generation excited about family history. All the hard work of assembling and documenting your family’s genealogy and history is something that should be shared with future generations so that they too can understand where they come from - the panelists will share strategies and tips to excite the next generation.

If you plan to be at the conference, we would love for you to join us for breakfast on Thursday morning. Space is limited so please email Michael to register.

FGS 2011 Conference - my Saturday, 10 September Selections

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 2011 Conference, "Pathways to the Heartland," is September 7 to 10 in Springfield, Illinois. I'm looking forward to attending and being an Official Blogger.

The program schedule is at I decided that I'd better think about the presentations I want to attend. Here's my list for Saturday, 10 September:

*  8 a.m.:  S-404: The Parish, by Audrey Collins -- The basic unit of administration throughout most of the British Isles: there is a lot more to it than just baptisms, marriages and burials

*  9:30 a.m.:  S-410: Porkopolis to Bonanza Farms: Midwest Historical Geography for Genealogists, by J. H. Fonkert -- Natural resources, transportation and technology shaped the settlement of migrating Americans and immigrants in the Midwest. Learn how the pivotal role of Chicago as the Midwest developed, from Cincinnati on the Ohio to the Bonanza farms of Dakota.

*  11 a.m.:  S-419: Discovering the Goldmine of Knowledge in Court Records, by Anne Roach -- Learn how to locate court records that are often overlooked, but may be full of vital record information, biographical details, or information that isn't available anywhere else!

*  2 p.m.:  S-432: Online, On Microfilm, And In Print: Finding Ancestors in Newspapers, by James L. Hansen -- Newspapers are vitally useful sources, often including details recorded nowhere else. This lecture will discuss what can be found in newspapers (in whatever form/format), how to identify and track them down, and how to search them most effectively and efficiently.

*  3:30 p.m.:  S-441: U.S. Census Agricultural Schedules: Placing Your Farming Ancestor in Context, by George G. Morgan -- The 1840 through 1910 U.S federal censuses included an Agricultural Schedule. It details your ancestor's farm including crops, livestock, timber, mining, and production of commodities such as honey, butter, and eggs. Learn how to find and use these insightful documents.

*  5 p.m.:  S-452: How Mature are you (Genealogically)?, by Robert Raymond -- You will learn an easy system to rate your own genealogical skill level and identify your strengths and weaknesses. You will learn a simple framework for improvement using Genealogical Maturity Levels. After attending this class you will have the knowledge you need to become a better genealogist.

I'm sure that I'll wander through the Exhibit Hall several times during the day talking to vendors, providers and friends. I'll also camp out at the Media Hub, where there will be Internet connections for Official Bloggers, of which I am one.

Paula Stuart-Warren has been publicizing FGS Conference activities on the FGS Conference News Blog for several months. See that blog for more information. I was chagrined to learn in Miscellaneous Conference Tips, Part 3 that attendees cannot use extension cords for their electronic in the meeting rooms. I guess I'll have to take notes the old-fashioned way. RootsMagic is sponsoring a CyberCafe where attendees can charge their devices, check email and the web, and print out syllabus pages (is there a charge?).

Disclosure: I am an Official Blogger for this FGS Conference, and have had my conference registration comped. One of my duties as an Official Blogger is to write stories leading up to and during the FGS Conference in order to publicize the event.

Folliow Friday - Labor Day Weekend Genealogy Fun

Here are my recommendations for Genealogy Fun this Labor Day weekend:

1) Listen to Geneabloggers Radio tonight (Friday night, 10 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CT, 8 p.m. MT and 7 p.m. PT) hosted by Thomas MacEntee. This week's topic is  "The Way We worked - Genealogy and Labor." The special guests discussing occupations and researching them will include:

Ginger Frere of the Newberry Library in Chicago discussing her presentation Cobbler, Tailor, Trunkmaker: How My Grandpappies Made a Living;
*  genealogist Tim Pinnick will help us understand how to research our coal miner ancestors;
*  Beverly Rice, CG℠ will lead a fascinating discussion of the volunteer aspect of the labor force and its paper trail.

2) Listen to the FGS Radio - My Society show on Saturday (2 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. CT, 12 noon MT, 11 a.m. PT) hosted by Thomas MacEntee this week. The topic is "Digital Publishing for Preservation and Community Building." The special guests are:

Mark Weaver of Mark will discuss how digital publishing can be used to achieve society’s goals – both in terms of needing to preserve your historical documents but also leverage published content to better serve and promote your society. He will also introduce Ancestry’s fledgling Ancestry Content Publisher program and share examples of how it’s being used today by various institutions to provide open access to its collections and increase reach to potential members.
*  Debbie Mieszala CG℠ is our FGS 2011 Conference Speaker of the Week about upcoming presentations at the conference in Springfield, Illinois this September.

3) Check out the recent Webinars on:

"Best Internet Resources for African American Genealogy," with Angela Walton-Raji (free until 15 September from Legacy Family Tree)
* "Newspapers for Genealogists: Using to document every day of your ancestors' lives" with Tom Kemp. (available from Legacy Family Tree)
* "Organizng for Success" with Karen Clifford (available free indefinitely from Legacy Family Tree)
* "The Power of DNA in Unlocking Family Relationships," with Ugo Perugo (available indefinitely from Legacy Family Tree)
* "Leveraging the Power of "We": a Watershed Event in Discovering Where to Find Your Ancestors (Research Wiki, Research Courses, and FamilySearch Forums)," with Michael Ritchey (available from Legacy Family Tree).
"Further Your Research and Unify Your Family Reunion with Beautiful Genealogy Charts," with Janet Hovorka (available from Legacy Family Tree).

* RootsMagic Webinars (all free) available at
* National Genealogical Society (NGS) Videos (free to view) at
* Thomas MacEntee's Explorinar on "Easy Website Creation" (free to view).
Thomas MacEntee's Explorinar on "Evernote - Easy Note Taking" (free to view)

4) Respond to my Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge, posted on soon after 12 noon Pacific time (that's 1900 GMT for those who understand time zones).

5) Go to a local genealogical society program, or go to a library or repository with genealogical resources. My plan is to publish this month's CVGS Newsletter on Saturday and then go to the CVGS Workshop at Bonita-Sunnyside Library to catch Susi Pentico's talk on "Research Methods in Pennsylvania."  I'm also going to work on preparing for my trip to the FGS Conference, researching at the Allen County Public Library, and visiting Wisconsin to explore ancestral homes and do research at repositories.

6) Add material (names, dates, places, notes, images, sources, etc.) to your genealogy software program. I collected 127 pages three weeks ago at Carlsbad Library, and have been slowly adding that to my database.  Not much hope to do this over this weekend, and when I get back I'll have lots more data!

7) Spend time with your family doing fun things.   Linda and I are going to the Padres game on Saturday night, and packing for our trip.

Whatever you decide, please tell us about your genealogy endeavors on a social network or in a blog post. You never know when your experiences may stimulate or encourage others to do useful genealogy work.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New FamilySearch Historical Collections - August 2011

I last listed the new or updated collections on the FamilySearch Historical Collections website on 2 August, when there were 683 collections on the list. Since then, these Historical Record Collections have been added to make a total of 707 collections as of today:

  • Mexico, San Luis Potosí, Catholic Church Records, 1586-1970 , added 1 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • North Carolina, Confederate Soldiers and Widows Pension Applications, 1885-1953, added 31 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Mexico, Chihuahua, Civil Registration, 1861-1997 , added 1 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Idaho, Cassia County Records,, added 31 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Mexico, México Estado, Civil Registration, 1861-1941, added 31 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • United States, Index to Passenger Arrivals, Atlantic and Gulf Ports, 1820-1874, added 31 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Idaho, Teton County Records, added 31 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1883-1945, added 30 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Oregon, Yamhill County Records, 1857-1963, added 30 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Michigan, Detroit Manifests of Arrivals at the Port of Detroit, 1906-1954, added30 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • United States, Records of Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861-1865, added 30 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Spain, Cádiz, Testaments, 1550-1920, added 26 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh City Deaths, 1870-1905 added 25 Aug 2011, 154,203 records

  • Mexico, Jalisco, Civil Registration, 1857-2000, added 25 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Kentucky, Probate Records, 1792-1977, added 24 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Denmark Civil Marriages, 1851-1961, added 22 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • North Carolina, Estate Files, 1663-1917, added 20 Aug 2011, 13,273 records

  •  Austria, Seigniorial Records, 1537-1888, added 19 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Russia Tver Church Books, 1722-1918, added 19 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Mexico, San Luis Potosí, Civil Registration, added 18 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • England, Essex Parish Registers, 1538-1900, added 18 Aug 2011, 537,583 records

  • Ohio, Stark County Coroner's Records, 1890-2002, added 16 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • Belgium, Oost-Vlaanderen, Parish Registers, 1588-1799, added 16 Aug 2011, browse images only 

  • Virginia, Winchester, Evening Star Obituaries, 1899-1909, added 12 Aug 2011 5,819 records

  • United States, Civil War Widows and Other Dependents Pension Files, added 9 Aug 2011, 1,351,000 records

  • Austria, Upper Austria, Linz Citizen Rolls, 1658-1937, added 3 Aug 2011, browse images only

  • In the list above, I tried to identify many of the collections as newly added by comparing them to last months listing. When FamilySearch sends their email notifications to interested parties, they are identifying whether they are new or previously existing collections - they don't say which collections are added to the list for the first time..

    There are 25 items on the list above, but 24 newly added databases since 2 August, so I have missed one. Oh well! I will update the list as I receive information about the new databases.

    All FamilySearch Historical Record Collections can be accessed at You can see the date that collections were recently added or updated by clicking on the "Last Updated" link.

    Content from SmallTownPapers and Gannett Leaving Fold3

    I received this news from Fold3 via email:


    Content from SmallTownPapers and Gannett Leaving Fold3

    On September 15th we will be removing from Fold3 some of the newspapers that came from two of our partners, SmallTownPapers® and Gannett.  This is due to contractual issues and we have no plans to remove any other content from the site.

    Here are a few questions that you may have about this change:

    Which titles will be removed and which will still be available on Fold3?

    All titles from SmallTownPapers and Gannett will be removed.  Nearly all of these titles are from our newspaper collection.  To help you see which titles will be affected, we've collected those that will be removed into a category called
    "SmallTownPapers and Gannett" in the "Other Records" category of the browse on the site until they are removed on the 15th.

    Only titles from SmallTownPapers and Gannett will be removed and we will still have great historical newspapers on the site including The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Constitution and The London Times.

    What about images from these titles that I have added to my Gallery or downloaded?

    All Gannett images will be removed from the site and will no longer be accessible on Fold3. From the SmallTownPapers collection, we have negotiated ongoing rights to images to which users have contributed (for example, bookmarked, commented on, annotated, spotlighted or added to their Gallery or to a memorial page). All other SmallTownPapers images will be removed from the site. Of course this will not affect any copies of images you have
    downloaded to your hard drive.

    How does this affect other titles on Fold3?

    This only affects titles from SmallTownPapers and Gannett. We have ongoing rights to all the other titles on the site and have no plans to remove any other content.


    I appreciate providing this information, and I'm glad that the five newspapers mentioned are still included in the Fold3 historical collections.

    The Small Town Papers site is free to access (

    disclosure:  I have a fully paid subscription to (formerly and have received no benefits from them for writing this post.

    Searching Census Records on

    In has 1790 to 1930 U.S. Census Records, I highlighted what was indexed and provided to users in the U.S. Census records available on  In general, has access to the FamilySearch census record collections, which includes an index to all of them and page images for the 1850, 1870, and 1900 U.S. census.

    I wanted to show some screen shots and make some observations about searching these census records.

    A general search in the census records (all years) for Isaac Seaver, born in 1823 in Massachusetts, produces a screen like this:

    There are links to each match on the right.  If an image is available, then an image is shown and can be clicked on to view the image.

    The search fields are shown on the left-hand side of the screen so the user can modify their search criteria - the fields are First Name, Last Name (required), Middle Name, Maiden Name, Residence (Required), Birth State, County, Birth Year (with range), and census Year.  The user can check a box for Exact matches for the First Name, Last Name and Residence. 

    An 1840 census record looks like this:

    As you can see, there is no other information, or links to other information, except for the name and residence.

    The 1870 U.S. census match looks like this:

    In the screen above, you can see the links to other persons in the household, and you can click on the image to see the image, which is shown below:

    The 1920 U.S. census search matches for Fred Seaver (born 1852 in Massachusetts) is shown below:

    I tried to use a wild card for his names in the search box, and saw this:

    A user cannot use wild cards for any name - the acceptable characters are letters, spaces and dashes. The user can select either "All" or a specific state for the Residence and Birth State fields.  The user can add a birth year range of plus/minus 0, 1, 2, 5, or 10 years. An "Exact" check box produces only an Exact Match.

    The lack of wild card capability makes census searches much more difficult, because of the many errors in enumerating and indexing the records.  The free website permits wild card searches, why doesn't

    Disclosure: provided a free subscription to their collection at the SCGS 2011 Jamboree which I appreciate. This did not influence my statements in this blog post, but it did enable them to be made! has 1790 to 1930 U.S. Census Records

    ... added the U.S. census data to their collection today - read it at GeneaPress - Adds the U.S. Census to its Website.

    I checked it to see what they have in terms if index items and page images:

    *  1790 U.S. Census - index listing only (first name, last name, residence, genealogical society number, NARA microfilm series number, NARA microfilm roll number, source information), no page images.

    * 1800 U.S. Census - index listing only (first name, last name, residence, genealogical society number, NARA microfilm series number, NARA microfilm roll number, source information), no page images.

    * 1810 U.S. Census - index listing only (first name, last name, residence, genealogical society number, NARA microfilm series number, NARA microfilm roll number, source information), no page images.

    * 1820 U.S. Census - index listing only (first name, last name, residence, genealogical society number, NARA microfilm series number, NARA microfilm roll number, source information), no page images.

    * 1830 U.S. Census - index listing only (first name, last name, residence, genealogical society number, NARA microfilm series number, NARA microfilm roll number, source information), no page images.

    * 1840 U.S. Census - index listing only (first name, last name, residence, genealogical society number, NARA microfilm series number, NARA microfilm roll number, source information), no page images.

    * 1850 U.S. Census - index listing (first name, last name, age, gender, birth location, residence, other people in household (linked), genealogical society number, FHL microfilm number, line number, source information) and page images.

    * 1860 U.S. Census - index listing only (first name, last name, age, gender, birth location, residence, other people in household (linked), NARA publication number, source information), no page images.

    * 1870 U.S. Census - index listing (first name, last name, age, gender, race, birth location, residence, other people in household (linked), genealogical society number, FHL microfilm number, line number, source information) and page images.

    * 1880 U.S. Census - index listing (first name, last name, age, gender, race, ethnicity, birth location, residence, occupation, relationship to head of household, other people in household (linked), father birthplace, mother birthplace, marital status, spouse's first name, spouse's last name, spouse birthplace, NARA microfilm/roll number, line number, source information), no page images.

    * 1890 U.S. Census (very limited coverage due to census loss) - index listing only (first name, last name, age, gender, race, birth location, ED, residence, occupation, relationship to head of household, other people in household (linked), father birthplace, mother birthplace, marital status, spouse's first name, spouse's last name, spouse birthplace, FHL microfilm number, NARA microfilm/roll number, source information), no page images.

    * 1900 U.S. Census - index listing (first name, last name, age, gender, race, ethnicity, estimated birth year, birth location, ED, residence, occupation, relationship to head of household, head of household first name, head of household last name, other people in household (linked), father birthplace, mother birthplace, marital status, years married, spouse's first name, spouse's last name, spouse birthplace, immigration year, genealogical society number, line number, source information) and page images.

    * 1910 U.S. Census - index listing only (first name, last name, age, gender, race, ethnicity, estimated birth year, birth location, residence, relationship to head of household, head of household first name, head of household last name, other people in household (linked), father birthplace, mother birthplace, marital status, years married, spouse's first name, spouse's last name, spouse birthplace, immigration year, source information), no page images.

    * 1920 U.S. Census - index listing only (first name, last name, age, gender, race, ethnicity, estimated birth year, birth location, residence, relationship to head of household, head of household first name, head of household last name, other people in household (linked), father birthplace, mother birthplace, marital status, years married, spouse's first name, spouse's last name, spouse birthplace, can read, can write, own residence or home, immigration year, line number, source information), no page images.

    * 1930 U.S. Census - index listing only (first name, last name, age, estimated birth year, birth location, residence, relationship to head of household, head of household first name, head of household last name, other people in household (linked), source information), page images available on only.

    I highlighted in red the presence of an index and page images in the list above. has the 1790 through 1840 U.S. census index, which is currently not on the FamilySearch website.  It appears that uses the FamilySearch index items directly.

    I noted that the reference to FHL microfilms and/or NARA microfilms is very inconsistent in both the FamilySearch and Archives index listings.  There are no ED numbers for some of the censuses that had one, there are no roll numbers for most of the censuses, there are no page numbers for any of the censuses, etc.  That makes it very difficult to source these census records accurately. It's really not that hard...FamilySearch and Archives would do researchers a favor by adding at least the NARA microfilm publication number and roll number to the index listings.

    I'm glad that is providing access to these records, but researchers can obtain all but the 1790 to 1840 records for free at

    I'll have more to say about the search capabilities in a later post.

    Disclosure: provided a free subscription to their collection at the SCGS 2011 Jamboree which I appreciate.  This did not influence my statements in this blog post, but it did enable them to be made!

    Treasure Chest Thursday - Amy Oatley's 1865 Death Certificate

    It's Treasure Chest Thursday - time to look in my digital image files to see what treasures I can find for my family history and genealogy musings.

    The treasure today is the certified death certificate for Amy (Champlin) Oatley (1798-1865) of Killingly, Windham County, Connecticut:

    The information in this death certificate is fairly sparse, mainly because the town of Killingly did not collect a lot of information when a person died in this time frame. The information available is:

    * Name: Amy Oatley
    * Sex: Female
    * Date of Birth: ------
    * Race: White
    * Age: 66
    * Date of Death: Feb. 8, 1865
    * County of Death: Windham
    * Town of Death: Killingly
    * City & State of birth:  Kingston, Rhode Island
    * Marital Status: Married
    * Last Spouse: --------------------
    * Usual Occupation: Housekeeper
    * Residence-State: Connecticut
    * Residence-County: Windham
    * Residence-Town: Killingly
    * Cause of Death:  Phthisis
    * Certification - Physician: E.A. Hill

    I did not include all of the other fields on the form which had no typed data in them.

    I obtained this certificate by mail from Kathleen M. Pelletier, Registrar of Vital Statistics for the town of Killingly, on 24 January 1992.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Story: Family Tree DNA confirms two NFL players are half-siblings

    I received this press release from Max Blankfeld of FamilyTreeDNA today.  It's interesting to me for both the DNA aspects and the fact that one of the half-brothers is a San Diego Charger football player:


    Family Tree DNA confirms two NFL players are half-siblings.

    Family Tree DNA, the pioneer and largest DNA testing company for genealogy purposes, through its Family Finder test, provided the conclusive proof that two NFL players are half-siblings.

    Until a few months ago, Xavier Omon, from the San Francisco 49ers and Ogemdi Nwagbuo from the San Diego Chargers did not have a clue that they were related. Early August, at the request of ESPN, Family Tree DNA performed the Family Finder test on both, and the result was unequivocal: definitely half-siblings. More of the story can be found at the ESPN website, under the “Brother’s Tale” story [titled A brothers' tale for Omon, Nwagbuo.].

    The Family Finder test allows connecting with family members across all ancestral lines. While the Y-DNA matches men with a specific paternal line and the mtDNA finds potential relatives only along the maternal line, Family Finder can look for close relationships along all ancestral lines. Anyone, regardless of their gender, may confidently match to male and female cousins from any of their family lines in the past five generations. The science is based on linked blocks of DNA across the 22 autosomal chromosomes that are matched between two people.

    Based on this concept, Family Tree DNA bioinformatics team has worked extensively to develop the calculations that would yield the closeness of the relationship.

    The possibilities to find matches abound: grandparents, aunts and uncles; half siblings; first, second, third and fourth cousins; and, more tentatively, fifth cousins.

    About Family Tree DNA

    Founded in April 2000, Family Tree DNA was the first company to develop the commercial application of DNA testing for genealogical purposes, something that had previously been available only for academic and scientific research. Almost a decade later, the Houston-based company has a database with over 345,000 individual records – the largest DNA database in genetic genealogy, and a number that makes Family Tree DNA the prime source for anyone researching recent and distant family ties. In 2006 Family Tree DNA established a state of the art Genomics Research Center at its headquarters in Houston, Texas, where it currently performs R&D and processes over 200 advanced types of DNA tests for its customers.

    Media contact
    Sharon Weisz, —tel: 323-934-2700; e-mail:


    CVGS Meeting on Saturday, 3 September on Pennsylvania Research

    The September 2011 Workshop for the Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS) is Saturday, 3 September, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bonita-Sunnyside Library (4375 Bonita Road in Bonita).

    The workshop will be "Research Methods in Pennsylvania," presented by Susi Pentico, the CVGS Education Chair.

    Planning for my visit to Dane County, Wisconsin

    After writing Planning for my visit to Dodge County, Wisconsin, I started working on planning to visit Dane County, Wisconsin (two counties southwest of Dodge County). 

    I want to do research at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, looking for information about my Smith and Vaux families of Dodge County, but also information about my wife's Severson/Leland and Erikson/Natvig families that immigrated from Norway in the 1850s and settled in Deerfield and Cottage Grove towns, respectively. 

    I had hopes that the homes might still be standing, so I needed to find out where the two families resided.  Fortunately, has plat maps for 1873, 1890, 1899 and 1911 for Dane county and I easily found the maps for the two towns. 

    Here is the town map of Dane County from 1873:

    Cottage Grove town is two towns east of Madison, and Deerfield is three towns east of Madison.

    The map of Deerfield from 1873 is shown below :

    Looking carefully, I found T. Severson (Torger Sjurson) in Section 23 (three up, two over from the lower right-hand corner of the map above).  His land is the Southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 23.  This map page says that Deerfield town is Township 7 North, Range 12 East of the 4th Principal Meridian in Wisconsin. 

    So how can I find that place on a current map?  I used Google Maps to see the road map and the satellite map for the area, but could not figure out exactly where the land was because the roads are different now than they were in the plat maps. 

    I recalled attending Pam Sayre's class at FGS 2009, and Lisa Louise Cooke's class at Jamboree in 2010 about using Earthpoint and Google Earth to define the location of the Section.  I wrote about it in Using Google Earth to find land location in the Public Land Survey System States in 2009.

    I knew the section description, so I went to the page for Township and Range - Public Land Survey System on Google Earth and entered the Section information, then clicked on the "Fly To on Google Earth" button, and saw:

    Section 23 is outlined in magenta in the screen above.  I zoomed in to the Section and saw:

    Fortunately, you can see some of the outlines of the 40 acre plots from the survey, especially in the Southeast quarter.  Zooming in some more to the Southeast quarter:

    There's a house on this property in the current satellite map.  It is on North Fair Oak Road, just south of Fair Oak Road and north of London Road.

    I found the Erikson/Natvig property in Cottage Grove too, and one of the roads through the current property is called Natvig Road.  However, there does not appear to be a house on the property now.

    The 1890 plat map of Deerfield indicates that the property was owned by by C. Kufahl in 1890 (SE quarter of SE quarter, 40 acres), by Wm. Kufahl in 1899 (now S half of SE quarter, 80 acres), by Wm. Kufahl in 1904 (S half of SE quarter, 80 acres), and by Wm. Keufahl in 1911 (S half of SE quarter, 80 acres).

    It appears that Torger Severson (later Torger Leland after the family adopted the Leland name before 1880) sold the property before 1890.  T. Leland and O. Leland are listed with the London post office on the 1890 plat map. 

    Aren't these online tools cool? 

    (Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Post 168: Bess and Gerry at the Train Station

    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.
    Before I started this (Not So) Wordless Wednesday series, I posted The best picture from Gerry's collection that showed my grandmother (Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver) and my Aunt Geraldine Seaver posing with my father (Frederick W. Seaver) and mother, and my maternal grandparents, at the San Diego train station in July 1942, just before my parents wedding.

    Here is a photograph from the Geraldine (Seaver) Remley albums that I received after her death in 2007:

    This picture is of my grandmother, Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver (1882-1962) and her daughter, Geraldine Seaver (1917-2007), arriving at the San Diego train station in July 1942.  My understanding is that they came all the way from Leominster, Massachusetts on the train, no doubt changing trains at several stops along the way. 

    My first reaction to this picture was "I'll bet they 'freshened up' and 'changed clothes' after they got off the train and before they took this picture."  Nobody could look that good after three days (?) on the train - wearing dresses, jackets, hats, gloves, pearls and heels (and who knows what else?) in July.

    I wish that I could ask Aunt Gerry about this - I'm sure that there's a story here for a 25-year-old young lady traveling with her mother to see her brother get married.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    Dear Randy: Tell me about Syncing FTM 2012 and Ancestry

    My colleague DearMYRTLE asked a question in a comment on my post "Thinking About Software, Online Trees and Syncing":

    Randy, when Syncing FTM2012 to Ancestry Trees and back, does it upload and download the attached document files? THAT would really be wonderful, even if you had to take a break from the computer for the task to be accomplished.

    DearMYRT:  YES, it does, flawlessly.  And fairly quickly, if you've added only a few media items since the last synchronization.

    As long as you understand these four things:

    1)  The sync occurs from within Family Tree Maker 2012.  You have to upload your tree to a new Ancestry Member Tree (AMT) from the 'Plan" workspace in FTM 2012.  That tree in FTM 2012 can have the media files (documents, photos, audio, video) attached to Persons or Facts in your FTM database, and they will appear in the new Ancestry Member Tree "synced" to FTM 2012.  We had this feature in FTM 2011 - the media went from FTM 2012 to a new Ancestry Member Tree when we pushed the Upload button in FTM 2011.

    Depending on the selected setting when you set up the FTM 2012 to AMT syncing, the syncing occurs either manually (you press a "Sync Now" button in FTM 2012) or automatically (when you save, as long as you have the Internet active, are logged into Ancestry, and have FTM 2012 open).

    2)  Once the Ancestry Member Tree has been created, then the user can go into their AMT, edit persons, facts, notes, sources, and attach even more media to persons in the tree by uploading files from their computer into the AMT.  The information and media changed in the AMT will be downloaded to the FTM 2012 when synchronized.

    3)  But, and it's a big but, if you have "Saved" an record to a Fact in your Ancestry Member Tree, then the image of that document is not in the Media tab in your AMT or your FTM 2012 file.  The source citation created by Ancestry for the document is in both the AMT and FTM 2012 files, but the image is not.  From within the AMT, you can "View Image and "View Record" when in the "Facts and Sources" tab for a specific person.  From within the AMT, you can attach a media file, but only from your own computer file folders, not from the Ancestry collection.

    UPDATE:  Duff Wilson, a Family Tree Maker developer, wrote in Comments to this post:

    "Related to point number three above, an update for the Family Tree Maker 2012 Beta was just released today which addresses this. With this update, Ancestry record images that are attached to your online tree are downloaded to Family Tree Maker automatically subsequent to the next sync."

    That is good news!  Back to the original post:

    4)  The FTM 2012 user can use the "Web Search" workspace to find online images on and attach them to persons in the FTM 2012 database.  When you do this, the Ancestry document image is added to the Person and the Facts, and the user can attach these Facts to other family persons.  When you sync the FTM 2012 tree to Ancestry, these media items and sources are uploaded.

    So far in my three days of working with the latest FTM 2012 beta program version, this has worked perfectly.  I've done all of those functions, both ways. 

    As long as the user keeps their specific Ancestry Member Tree linked to an FTM 2012 file, the user has a true synchronization between the two systems.  If the user unlinks their Ancestry Member Tree from the FTM 2012 file (while in the AMT Tree Settings), then the sync doesn't work any longer.  Likewise, if the user deletes or renames his FTM 2012 file, the AMT tree is unlinked.  In either case, the user can download the current AMT from Ancestry, or upload to a new AMT from FTM 2012.

    I hope that explains it clearly.  Why are my posts always so prolix?  Is that a new word for you?  If so, go look it up!

    Merge Decisions in - Got a Match!

    Yesterday in Merge Decisions in - No Match!, I showed the process when there is not a match between your person and the person(s) that thinks might be a match to your person.

    Today, we'll look at the process when there is a match to your person.  From the "Randall Jeffrey Seaver's Merge Center," I clicked on one of my ancestors, Mary Hazard (1764-1857).  The "Tee Matches" page for her is:

    There was one match for her, so I clicked on the check box and then the blue "Compare Profiles" button  to compare the two profiles for Mary Hazard - mine and the other person's.  [Note, I could have clicked on the "Compare profiles" to the right of the screen also] 

    When I clicked on "Compare Profiles" I saw:

    Here are the two profiles side-by-side.  I decided, based on the information provided (same parents, same spouse, same child) that this was a match, so I clicked on the blue "Yes, merge these profiles" at the bottom of the screen, and saw:

    The "Conflicting Data" screen above shows the items that are in conflict between the two person profiles about to be merged.  In this case, it was only the last name - I had "Hazard" (Mary's maiden name) and the other profile had "Oatley" (Mary's husband's surname).  I chose Mary's maiden name (shown in green above) because that is the standard most of us use for female names - we use the name she was born with.

    clicking on "Save," I saw:

    This screen told me that Mary Hazard was now merged.  I clicked on Mary's name, and saw her profile:

    This shows that Mary's profile was added by the other person, and I am listed as a manager along with the other person.

    This worked pretty well. makes the decision process pretty easy - you just have to make a judgment.  If I have any doubt, I do not merge the two person profiles. 

    One thing that happens when you merge profiles like this is that sometimes the spouses or children or siblings are listed two or more times (depending on how many profiles were merged).  I think that if the names are different (for Mary Hazard Oatley above, there are now sons "Rev. Jonathon Oatley" and "Jonathan Oatley" who are the same person), a separate child is listed.  Now those duplicates need to be merged too. 

    I worked my way through all of the "Tree Matches" on my home page yesterday, and today there are 40 more.  This looks like a never ending task. 

    Tuesday's Tip - Use's Free Offerings

    This week's Tuesday Tip is to:  Take advantage of's FREE offers to use their collections.

    This week, is permitting FREE use of their Immigration collection, in honor of Labor Day (you do have to register for a free account, but not provide a credit card).  There are 331 collections in the Immigration and Travel category in the Card Catalog.  The collection is available for free until 5 September.

    At other times, Ancestry has opened specific collections for limited periods of time, usually for a one week period. also offers a 14-day free trial to their entire collection for non-subscribers.  You do have to enter a credit card number and cancel before the end of the 14 days if you don't want to subscribe to 

    The Immigration and Travel collection includes records from the United States and other countries, including England, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Australia, etc.  The collection includes Naturalization records also.  If you don't have an Ancestry subscription, you can use this free week to find records of interest to you from all countries.

    Here is a screen shot from my search for surname = Seaver (exact match) in the Immigration collection (from my non-subscriber account):

    That list includes record collections for the USA and other countries.

    I have a paid U.S. Deluxe subscription to, so I don't have access to the other record collections.  This week, I'm going to "mine" the Immigration collection for Seaver, Carringer, Whittle, Vaux and several other surnames in some of the non-USA collections.  My target collections include:

    UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960
    Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935
    Border Crossings: From U.S. to Canada, 1908-1935
    England, Alien Arrivals, 1810-1811, 1826-1869
    Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

    England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892
    Canada, Ocean Arrivals (Form 30A), 1919-1924
    New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters, 1806-1849
    New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896
    New South Wales, Australia, Settler and Convict Lists, 1787-1834
    New Zealand, Naturalisations, 1843-1981

    I had a fun moment last night - my 88-year old neighbor came down to visit on his evening walk.  He escaped from Austria in 1939 and came to America.  I asked him what year he came, and he said 1939.  I quickly found him in the New York Passenger Lists arriving on the ship Comte de Savoia.  I printed out the record summary, the passenger list page, and the picture of the ship and gave it to him.  He had tears in his eyes and thanked me profusely.  He said he had always wondered if there was a record of his immigration.  Then he said that he and his wife went to Europe to visit family in 1949, and returned.  I went and found them on the ship Vulcania and printed that for him too.

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    New Features in Family Tree Maker 2012

    Tamura Jones alerted me to the message board post titled "What is new in 2012" by suecucch on the FTM Sync Beta board:

    "So far in looking at 2012, I don't see anything different from 2011. Can someone tell me what the difference is between the two? The only thing I noticed is that when importing my data, it needed to convert my file to a new designator. So far my data seems to have converted without problems but my file is quite large so I can easily miss something."

    Duff Wilson, the leader of the Family Tree Maker 2012 development team, responded with:

    "The main new feature is the ability to synchronize your tree between Family Tree Maker and and we're especially focused on making sure that works well.

    "Here is a list of new features:
    1. TreeSync - Ability to synchronize your tree between FTM and Ancestry.
    2. Blended family view - Easily show all of the children for two spouses whether they are children of one or both of them.
    3. Index of Individuals Report
    4. Chart improvements
    - Show generation labels
    - Add text anywhere on a chart
    - Option to limit descendant chart to the direct line between two people
    5. Report improvements
    - Custom fact sentences (used in genealogy reports & Smart Stories
    - Automatic Smart Story generation includes primary individual, spouse, and children
    - Research notes report changed to "Notes Report" with options to include other types of notes"

    Further down the message board thread, is this comment by Marshall Sinback:

    "There appears to be a new option of exporting a 5.5 GEDCOM file that will include media. Is this correct?"

    Duff responded with:

    "Yes. You can now include media links in the GEDCOM export."

    All of those sound like useful upgrade features, but it's the TreeSync feature, to synchronize (either way) your Ancestry Member Tree with your Family Tree Maker 2012 database, that will be the big selling point for the software.  Assuming it works well, of course. 

    I have been working with the latest version of FTM 2012 and have found no problems using TreeSync so far adding/deleting persons, adding/deleting facts, adding media, adding/changing sources, etc. in FTM 2012 or the linked Ancestry Member Tree. 

    There are some "fine points" about sources that need to be understood, however.  I haven't had any problems with "free-form" sources, but "template" sources can not be edited in the Ancestry Member Tree.  The Tree page for a source created in Family Tree Maker 2012 with a source template has a message "This source uses a Family Tree Maker template that can only be edited in Family Tree Maker." 

    Thinking About Software, Online Trees and Syncing

    There were several comments and blog posts referencing my GEDCOM, Software, Online Trees and Syncing post last week, including:

    *  Tamura Jones commented:

    "What you want is AncestorSync Ultimate :-).  They have no plans to produce that yet, but if more genealogists tell them they want it, who knows..."

    I had forgotten that Tamura wrote this back in May 2011.

    *  Louis Kessler commented:

    "Sounds like what you really want is to do all your adding and editing of your familytree data in one program (in your case, RootsMagic).

    "Then in an ideal world, you’d like that one program to do all the functionality needed so that you do not have to load it into other programs. (In your case, you are helping others, but if one program did everything - remember this is an “ideal” world, then you’d simply recommend to others to use this ideal program.)

    "Finally, the ideal program would have one button syncing to the one ideal all-inclusive online database that (and this is important) keeps everybody’s data separate - no one but the author can update the author’s data!!! What this ideal online system has is another database of linkages, which allows people to “conclude” that a person in their tree is the same as a person in another tree. Then this online database will “virtually merge” the data for the same people together when displaying it for you (maybe showing your data in one color and other people’s data in another).

    "Sadly, I don’t see the industry going this way … yet."

    Louis wrote The Ideal Genealogy System on the Louis Kessler Behold Blog shortly after my post, including: 

    "First, I’ve written before about my strong feelings against merging data. No matter how well it is sourced, you’ll still lose the context of the original researcher and the work they did. You’ll dilute the work. You’ll incorporate errors made by others (and others may incorporate errors made by you) that may never get detected but get supported by the fact that multiple works of research support them."

    *  DearMYRTLE wrote Syncing and GEDCOMing - can someone press the fast forward button? and noted:

    "I have no interest in syncing my data in a "borg tree" as Tamura Jones calls them, where another researcher can independently modify my previously uploaded data without my knowledge or permission. (This model is currently expressed by and among others.) Such a sync would effectively wipe away the integrity of my personal database.

    " trees currently supports a better model for syncing - sorta. There I can accept or ignore suggestions from the trees of other researchers, yet my tree is out there for collaborative purposes. I would like to sync my tree and attached image files with my pc-based data. I do not however, want to be forced to use Family Tree Maker. In fact I use several genealogy management programs for the variety of views, report layouts, etc."

    As a result of these shared thoughts, I think I've crystallized my thinking a bit as to what it is I want, informed by the wisdom of my colleagues noted above.  Here are my ideals:

    1) The "I-Own-My-Tree" program: 

    In my ideal world (I know, we've wandered through this before!), I want to have one master database, with one set of names, relationships, places, sources, facts, media, notes, etc. that I control. But then I want to share that master database with any number of online unconnected family trees and with other software programs.  I want to be able to press one "synchronize" button and everything gets updated.

    This ideal synchronization program can read my "master" database, whether in native software format (e.g., RootsMagic, Legacy, Family Tree Maker, Reunion, etc.) or in an online family tree database with unconnected, contributed family trees (e.g.,, Rootsweb WorldConnect,, GeneaNet, FindMyPast, etc.). 

    I can tell the program where the "master" database is, and the software file types and names I want to sync to, and the online tree file names I want to sync to, and it will synchronize the file in the different software programs and the online trees so that they are all the same.

    For example, if my "master" database is in RootsMagic, and I want to sync with my tree on Ancestry Member Trees or MyHeritage, it would do that.  And vice versa.  At present, we only have the FTM 2012 Beta/Ancestry Member Trees sync that works both ways.  Family Tree Builder will sync "up" to MyHeritage, but not down from MyHeritage.

    2)  The "Our Shared Tree" program:

    This is a program that will synchronize data from my "master" database with one online inter-connected (shared) family tree (e.g.,,,, new FamilySearch Family Tree).

    The program could be a stand-alone program (that reads the online tree or software database), or be embedded in genealogy software, like the RootsMagic (and other programs) interface with new FamilySearch Family Tree (that works really well, except for the limitations on sources in nFSFT). Using this feature, the user would select what information to add or change on the Shared Tree, or to download from the Shared Tree to the "master" database, wherever it is. 

    Ancestor Sync promises to do this one "source" and one "target" at a time, with a user's choice of each.  But my understanding is that they will do it by creating a whole file in native format (or GEDCOM), not synchronizing person-by-person or fact-by-fact. 

    Ancestor Sync also promises to sync with shared trees like and new FamilySearch Family Tree, possibly using techniques developed to interface FamilyInsight software with new FamilySearch one person at a time. 

    I look forward to seeing how all of this works out!

    What say you?  How would you make these ideas work?  Are these ideals even possible?