Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Your Genealogy and Family History Gifts

Are you done Christmas shopping yet?  Put the wrapping paper down, and step up to your keyboard.  It's Saturday Night, and time for some Genealogy Fun!!

Rev up the olde thynking cap and cue up the Mission Impossible music - your mission should you decide to accept it - keeping with the Christmas theme - is:

1) Pick out a genealogy-oriented gift for someone you know, admire, appreciate or love. It could be for a family member, someone in the genealogy community, or a friend or colleague. Describe your genealogy gift to them? [Note: you don't have to actually gift them, although it would be a nice thing to do!]

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 or Google Plus.

Here's mine:

1)  I would like to give the "Spirit of Genealogy" to one of my daughters and/or grandchildren. I have tried really hard to get them interested, but my daughters are really busy with family, children and careers. The grandchildren are still too young (the oldest is age 8). I tell the grandchildren stories about their ancestors, including myself, in an effort to imbue them with an interest in family history. Although the research on my own family, and the research I've done on my wife's family, is incomplete, it is fairly well defined, but there are plenty of brickwall ancestors to search for. However, the genealogy of the fathers of the grandchildren may be challenging and interesting.

2)  I would like to give a genealogy report to my wife and to my brother-in-law about the ancestry of their grandmother, Edna (McKnew) Schaffner (1884-1974).  It would include my research on the McKnew and Whittle ancestry.  I may break it into two separate reports just to make them manageable and relatively simple. 

3)  I just mailed the 24th edition of the Seaver-Richmond Family Journal to my brothers and cousins.  I described it in Advent Calendar - December 17: The Family Journal. 

Surname Saturday - GRAVES (England > Massachusetts)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week. I am up to number 313, who is Ruth GRAVES (1710-????), one of my 6th-great-grandparents. [Note: The 6th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts] [Note:  I've skipped numbers 301  through 311 because they are unknown persons]

My ancestral line back through four generations of FARWELLs 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)

38.  Thomas J. Newton (????-????)
39.  Sophia Buck (1797-1882)

78.  Isaac Buck (1757-1846)
79.  Martha Phillips (1757-????)

156.  Isaac Buck (ca 1732-????)
157.  Mary Richards (1733-????)

 312.  Isaac Buck, born about 1706 in Woburn, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; died 19 May 1780 in Framingham, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  He was the son of 624. Ephraim Buck and 625. Esther Waget.  He married 03 December 1729 in Reading, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.
 313.  Ruth Graves, born 10 January 1710 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.

Children of Isaac Buck and Ruth Graves are:  Thomas Buck (1730-????); Isaac Buck (1732-????); Hester Buck (1734-????); Susanna Buck (1736-????); Ebenezer Buck (1738-1827); Joseph Buck (1740-????).

626.  Thomas Graves, born 16 December 1686 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States; died 21 February 1756 in Southborough, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States.   He married  09 January 1710 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.
627.  Ruth Collins, born 26 October 1685 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States; died before 1715 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.  She was the daughter of 1454. Joseph Collins and 1455. Mariah Smith.

Child of Thomas Graves and Ruth Collins is: 
Ruth Graves (1710-????).

 1252.  Samuel Graves, born 01 October 1655 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States; died December 1723 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.  He married 12 March 1678 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.
 1253.  Sarah Brewer, born before 13 November 1659 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States; died December 1723 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.  She was the daughter of 2506. Crispus Brewer and 2507. Mary.

Children of Samuel Graves and Sarah Brewer are:  Crispus Graves (1679-1758); Hannah Graves (1681-????); Samuel Graves (1684-1752); Thomas Graves (1686-1756); Mark Graves (1689-1729); William Graves (1692-1756); John Graves (1695-????); Rebecca Graves (1698-1739); Daniel Graves (1701-1765); Nathaniel Graves (1701-????).

2504.  Thomas Graves, born about 1620 in England; died 24 January 1697 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.  He married before 1643 in probably Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.
2505.  Hannah, died Aft. 1697 in probably Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.

Children of Thomas Graves and Hannah are:  Amy Graves (1643-????); Hannah Graves (1645-????); Mark Graves (1650-1730); Thomas Graves (1653-????); Samuel Graves (1655-1723); Ann Graves (1658-1736); Sarah Graves (1660-????); Elizabeth Graves (1662-????).

5008.  Samuel Graves, born in England; died in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.  He married 5009. 
5009.  (unknown)

Children of Samuel Graves and (unknown) are: Thomas Graves (1620-1697); Mark Graves (1623-1709); Samuel Graves (1628-1674).

Some of the material on the Graves families was obtained from the book: 

Kenneth Vance Graves, Samuel Graves 1630 Settler of Lynn MA and his Descendants (Wrentham, Mass.:Family History Publications, 1985).

Information on the Graves families of Lynn was obtained from the article:

Marcia Wiswall Lindberg,  "Three Graves Families, Thomas Graves of Lynn, Mass., Mark Graves of Andover and Samuel Graves of Ipswich," The Essex Genealogist, Volume 20, Number 4, November 2000. 

Other material is from the various town vital record books.

Advent Calendar - December 17: The Family Journal

This is the 17th of 24 posts for the 2011 Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, a Geneablogger tradition.  This is a "Grab Bag" post - one I choose to post.

On the 8th day before Christmas,
I sent to all my relatives
this year's Family Journal.

1) What helps you remember Christmases past?

My Christmas gift to my cousins, brothers and children is a 16 page (usually) family journal, called the "Seaver-Richmond Family Journal." This is my 24th year of doing this family journal. I end up sending about 20 copies out every year to the extended family. This is my way of "connecting" to my extended family and sharing some of my family history research.

Fred Seaver and Bessie Richmond married in 1900 in Leominster MA and had seven children, 6 of whom lived to adulthood and married, five of whom had a total of 11 children. This family line is 3/4 New England colonial immigrant (Seaver, Hildreth and White), and 1/4 English immigrant (Richman/Richmond, immigrated in 1855).

The content of my family journal has changed over time. I used to print more lines of descent from famous or notable people, and more lines from immigrant ancestors to my grandparents generation. However, I ran out of these types of articles several years ago - I had covered all of the family lines with 5-generations or more.

In recent years, I've added more family photos - both of the older generations and the new generations - young families with babies and the like. I've also written more memorials as the aunts and uncles have died.

This year, the Table of Contents looks like:

* 2011 Family Search - page 1
* What's Inside? - page 1
* Seaver/Richmond Ancestry on the Internet - page 2
* Online Genealogy Record Collections
* Seaver Family Photographs from Aunt Gerry's Collection - pages 3 and 4
* Geraldine (Seaver) Remley's Autobiography - Part 4 - pages 5-7
* Finding the Parents of Elizabeth Horton (Dill) Smith (1791-1869) - page 8

*  The Ahnentafel of Elizabeth Horton Dill - pages 9-10
*  Immigrant Ancestors - William Brewster (1567-1644) of Plymouth - pages 11-12
*  Isaac Seaver's Civil War Pension File - pages 13-15
* Famous Cousins Descended from William Brewster - page 16
* Finis - page 16

The production process is pretty simple. I use last year's MSWord document as a template - but delete the content and save it as a new document. Then I add content over a 7 to 10 day period, based on family papers and photographs, material from my blog, the Internet or my genealogy databases. When the content is completed, then I print off 25 copies (16 pages, in color, two-sided). I save it also as a PDF file to put on CDROMs to give to family members who want one.

It's funny - even though I ask the family for pictures and stories, either by snail mail, email or in person, I never receive anything from them. Maybe they are bored by it all; maybe it slips their mind or they think they don't have anything to contribute. I do get compliments in the Christmas cards I receive, so I think they appreciate the effort.

I sent the Family Journal, along with our family Christmas letter, off to my brothers and the cousins yesterday. I have copies at home for  my daughters and will gift them with it when we see them to celebrate Christmas. Hopefully, we will share stories and memories of our parents and grandparents.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Elizabeth Shown Mills's "Historic Pathways" Website

I just added to my Favorites list (in the "Education" section) on my computer.  This is the website of one of the most prolific, expert and supportive genealogists I am proud to know - Elizabeth Shown Mills.

There are a number of articles on the "Articles" link that demonstrate the depth and breadth of Elizabeth's work.  I spent an enjoyable hour yesterday, and another today, reading:

*  “Assimilation? Or Marginalization and Discrimination? Romani Settlers of the Colonial Gulf”

*  “The Genealogist’s Assessment of Alex Haley’s Roots

*  “Unravelling Balls of Yarn: Lessons in the Use of a Skeptical Eye”

*  “Roundabout Research: Pursuing Collateral Lines”

*  “Stanville ‘Estinville’ Sémère, aka Stanville Simmons (Hunt Oil vs. Julien)"

There are many more articles on the website.  I look forward to spending many more hours reading Elizabeth's work.  I have read several of her NGSQ articles previously, and have her three major genealogy books. 

There is a wealth of documented research on the site that knock my socks off.  These articles are excellent examples of doing "real" genealogical research using all available resources. 

I highly recommend that all genealogists read the work of Elizabeth Shown Mills in every venue possible, and attend several of her scintillating lectures at genealogy conferences and seminars. 

Note that Historic Pathways is a website, and not a blog that would be accessible by an RSS Reader. 

Follow-Up Friday - The William Knapp Search

I've been trying to Follow-Up on Fridays to answer comments received on Genea-Musings posts and questions in email. This post will cover issues raised concerning my search for the parents of William Knapp (1775-1856).  For reference purposes:

My Elusive Ancestor - William Knapp (1775-1856) (9 October 2006)
Possible Knapp Families in Dutchess County NY - Post 1: The 1790 U.S. Census (14 December 2011)
Possible Knapp Families in Dutchess County - Post 2: The "Nicholas Knapp Genealogy" (15 December 2011)

Here are comments and questions from correspondents, and the answers I have today:

Q.  Anonymous asked in a Post 1 Comment:

"Did William have sons who might have been named after his father? I'd look at families headed by men of those names as a priority."

A.  Good comment.  Russ Worthington listed the children in a comment on the same post.  I will list them in an upcoming post, and analyze them.

Q.  Connie recommended in email:

"I would start with a list of your William's children and grandchildren. Then eliminate any names that you are sure came from his wife's family.... father - mother - siblings (you can go back to them later) then compare your remaining list to the given names in 1790 as a jumping off point for future research. A Phineas would be a stroke of luck. I'd also look for abstracts of wills and deeds for each area, since they usually have every-name indexes and you may find William there."

A.  Excellent ideas, and I will do this in an upcoming post.

Q.  Howard Swain had several suggestions in a Comment to Post 2 above:

"You might try looking for a Knapp will naming "my son William". NEHGS has recently put the Eardeley will abstracts online:  Abstracts of Wills, Admins. and Guardianships in NY State, 1787-1835. I looked but didn't find anything helpful.

"There is a very interesting article by Henry Hoff in the latest (Fall 2011) issue of American Ancestors (the newsmagazine of NEHGS) titled "Navigating New York Probate". He mentions that in 1830 there was a NY law passed that required a petition listing all heirs of a decedent. The FHL has microfilm of them for some counties. From a table he shows, it looks like they have Dutchess Co. for 1793-1868. As they say, Read the whole thing.

"And, if you want to pursue the probate angle, you should read New York State Probate Records by Gordon L. Remington. It has been newly updated and is available from NEHGS.

"I'm curious how you know he was born in Dutchess Co. Do you know where he and Sarah were married? Where did he die? Have you searched for an obit?"

A.  Thank you, Howard, for the ideas.  My responses:

*  The last time I checked, the NEHGS database did not have Dutchess or Putnam Counties.  Now it does, so I've added this to my to-do list.

*  I read the American Ancestors article.  I have the Dutchess County NY probate records on my to-do list for my trip to the FHL in February.

*  I have accessed the first edition of the Gordon Remington book, and need to read it again.

*  The only clues I have for William's birth in Dutchess County NY is the 1850 U.S. Census which shows him as age 75, born in New York (enumerated in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey), and the death record in the New Jersey records that I abstracted as (it is also on now):

"William Knapp, died of Old Age, died 16 June 1856, Newton [Sussex County] NJ, age 81, shoemaker, born Dutchess Co., NY [no parents listed]"

The source citation:

New Jersey State Library, "Records of births, marriages, and deaths of New Jersey, 1848-1900," Volume AF, 1848-1867 (Sussex County), page 655, William Knapp entry, FHL Microfilm 0,584,582.

Both of those records indicate a birth year of about 1775 in New York.

*  I don't know where William Knapp and Sarah Cutter were married.  My hypothesis is that they married in about 1804 in Woodbridge, Middlesex County, NJ.  Sarah was the daughter of Stephen and Tabitha (Randolph) Cutter of Woodbridge, and the birth record of at least one of their first eight children is in the Woodbridge records.

*  William Knapp died in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey, and is buried in the Old Burying Ground there.

*  I have not found an obituary for William Knapp yet, although I have only looked in online newspaper resources.  That's another to-do list item the next FHL visit or Newton NJ visit.

Q.  In a Post 2 comment, Martin noted:

"Where does William claim to have been born in the 1850 and 1855 censuses?

"Which families from the 1790 census in Dutchess county with a son under 16 have a son over 16 in the 1800 census? 

"Have you used the series the Beekman Patent? They have passed the K's so, it should have everyone listed.."

A.  Good suggestions:

*  In the 1850 U.S. Census, William claims to have been born in New York.  There is no 1855 census for New Jersey.

*  I haven't looked at the 1800 census for New York for entries with a white Knapp male aged about 25.  He may have been in New Jersey by 1800, and there is no 1800 U.S. Census available for New Jersey.

*  I have a photocopy of the Knapp section of the Settlers of Old Beekman Patent by Frank J. Doherty, and will evaluate those families in an upcoming post.

Q.  In an email, my CVGS colleague Susi suggested:

"I have some suggestions for follow up on Knapp. Look at the 1800 census and compare how many boys leave that bracket. It will help weed out some of those you won't need to look at.  Also look for school lists, church rolls, town council meeting minutes, and how many other Knapp researchers have you collaborated  ? with?"

A.  Another good list of suggestions:

*  The 1790 census had age groups of under 16 and over 16 for males.  The 1800 census has age groups of 0-10, 10-16, 16-26, 26-45 and over 45.  It will be difficult to correlate these, but I may try.

*  I've added school lists, church rolls, and town meeting minutes to my to-do list to search at the FHL and on a trip to Dutchess County NY.

*  I've emailed with over 30 other Knapp researchers with New York ancestry over the last 24 years.  None of them could help me.  I've posted on message boards and mailing lists.  I've reviewed most of the published Knapp surname books.  I checked the Knapp Family Association bulletin that was on an FHL microfilm. 

Q:  Richard emailed me, saying:

"Here are two URLs that may be helpful:
Dutchess County Historical Society:
Dutchess County Genealogical Society: "

A:  Yes, very helpful.  They look like candidates for a visit to Dutchess County!

I think I'm up-to-date on this!

Russ Worthington is continuing his review of the research problem and is chasing Knapps in New York and New Jersey.  See his posts listed in File Sharing and Brick Walls - Russ Examines My Database.  I provided Russ two GEDCOM files and he has set up a shared Ancestry Member Tree in order to capture and share his findings. 

Thank you to my readers and colleagues who have been helping me with this elusive ancestor problem.

Follow Friday - Pre-Christmas Weekend Genealogy Fun

Now that your Christmas card writing and gift shopping are done, you can have some genealogy fun this weekend (You do have the cards out and the shopping done, right?).  My wife says "step away from the keyboard, put down your ahnentafel, and have a life." Me? I just want to have some Genealogy Fun this weekend. I recommend:

1) Listen to the Geneabloggers Radio show tonight (Friday night, 9 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. CT, 7 p.m. MT and 6 p.m. PT) hosted by Thomas MacEntee. This week's topic is "Do Books Still Matter in Genealogy?" The special guests include:

Jim Ericson, Senior Product Marketing Manager for FamilySearch representing family history & technology conference RootsTech who will start off our discussion of books and their role in the genealogy industry;
Leland Meitzler of Family Roots Publishing Co. in Salt Lake City, Utah who was recently one of several book vendors initially banned from the RootsTech exhibit hall;
Curt B. Witcher, MA, FUGA, FIGS, Genealogy Center Manager at the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana who’ll help us understand trends in the book and library industry, especially in terms of technology and genealogy;
*  Biff and Nancy Barnes of Stories to Tell, another “banned” vendor and one that specializes in helping folks publish their own family history books.

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's topic is "Dear Santa: What I Want This Year for My Genealogy Society."  This will be a call-in show where genealogy society members, leaders and members of the genealogy community voice their wishes and desires for their own genealogy societies. This is a great way to get ideas from other genealogy societies and hopefully put them to work in 2012!
3) Check out the recent FREE Webinars on:

* LegacyFamilyTree:

*** "Is My Pet Frog Part of My Family?" Children and Genealogy in the Classroom, by Maureen Taylor (free until 26 December)
*** Tracing Immigrant Ancestors, by Lisa Alzo (free until 19 December)
*** A Closer Look at Google+, by Dan Lynch (free until 12 December)
*** New Genealogy Technology: Flip-Pal™ Mobile Scanner, by Gordon Nuttall (free)
*** Celebrate the Holidays and Share Family History with Heritage Collector software, by Kathleen Bitter
*** Creating a Shareable CD with Legacy and Passage Express software, by Jefferson Shupe *** Exploring and by their founder, Paul Allen.
*** "Newspapers for Genealogists: Using to document every day of your ancestors' lives" with Tom Kemp.
*** "Organizng for Success" with Karen Clifford
*** "The Power of DNA in Unlocking Family Relationships," with Ugo Perugo

* RootsMagic Webinars (all free) available at Recently added:

*** What's New in RootsMagic 5
*** Fun Family Gifts with RootsMagic, Personal Historian, and Family Atlas

* National Genealogical Society (NGS) Videos (some are free to view) at

* Thomas MacEntee's Explorinars, including:

*** Easy Website Creation (free to view).
*** Evernote - Easy Note Taking UPDATED (free to view)
*** Facebook Pages vs. Facebook Groups (free to view)

*'s YouTube Channel has 127 items on it now, including (free to view):

*** LIVE: Reading Handwritten Historical Documents  with Anne Mitchell
*** Live: How to Control Your Results  with Anne Mitchell
*** LIVE: How to Use the World War II Draft Registration Cards with Juliana Smith
*** LIVE: How do I find the maiden names of women in my family tree? by Crista Cowan
*** LIVE: I believe my ancestor was Native American/Indian, How do I prove that? by Crista Cowan
*** LIVE: Unlock the Secrets of the 1790 - 1840 US Census Records with Anne Mitchell
*** LIVE: Search with Ancestry Anne with Anne Mitchell
*** LIVE: One Question with the Barefoot Genealogist with Crista Cowan
*** LIVE: Lorraine's 5 Tips for Online Grave Digging with Lorraine Bourne
*** LIVE: How do I use newspapers on to find out more about my ancestors? with Crista Cowan
*** LIVE: How Do I Find My Ancestors Before 1850? with Crista Cowan.
*** LIVE: How to dress up your family tree ...for the holidays! with Anne Mitchell.
*** LIVE: How to Find Your Civil War Roots on with Anne Mitchell.
*** Emigration & Immigration Records Online with Crista Cowan @ Ancestry Day San Francisco
*** Find Them Fast: Secrets to Searching with Laura Dansbury @ Ancestry Day San Francisco
*** Five Tips for Digging Up Answers at with Jeanie Croasmun @ Ancestry Day San Francisco

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. Is any society doing anything this weekend?  Check for seminars in 2012 and sign up for them!

6) Go to a local or close repository with genealogy and family history material. Do some research in traditional resources or order FamilySearch microfilms online with original source records.

7) Do some online research in the latest record collections

* FamilySearch (free,,
* Ancestry ($$,,
* Fold3 ($$,,
* WorldVitalRecords ($$,,
* American Ancestors ($$,,
* GenealogyBank ($$,,
* Archives ($$,

8) Add content (names, dates, places, notes, images, sources, etc.) to your genealogy software program. I still have two inches of paper collected from my vacation, and more from before that, and will try to enter some of it into my database this weekend.

9) Spend time with your family doing fun things.  Our daughter and her family are coming on Saturday to have Christmas a week early.

10) Go to a local cemetery and clean stones, take gravestone pictures, or transcribe epitaphs for your local society, for Find-a-Grave, or a similar online service.

11) GO SHOPPING for genealogical products or services, or for technology products, for yourself, or for a gift for that special genealogy friend. Online or in a store - go for it!

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.

Advent Calendar - December 16: Christmas at School

This is the 16th of 24 posts for the 2011 Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, a Geneablogger tradition.

On the 9th day before Christmas,
I got dressed up as a tree
for the school play pageantry.

1) What did you do to celebrate Christmas at school?

My elementary school days were in 1948-1955, and I really don't remember much about Christmas activities at school. We must have made Christmas cards for our siblings and parents and grandparents. And paper chains to decorate the Christmas tree or the house. We probably made "hands" in clay, or paperweights with our picture on them, or some little gift like that for our parents. We probably sang some Christmas songs - especially the secular ones like Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, etc.

2) Were you ever in a Christmas Pageant?

Again, I don't recall (perhaps conveniently?). If I was, it was probably as a tree or a shepherd or a wise man with no speaking part. I was terribly frightened of public speaking until after college.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Possible Knapp Families in Dutchess County - Post 2: The "Nicholas Knapp Genealogy"

According to the limited records I have, William Knapp was born in 1775 in Dutchess County, New York. I have been unable to determine the names of his parents after searching all of the Knapp surname books I can find, and reviewing many other books like the Dutchess County surname book.

Since he married Sarah Cutter of Woodbridge, NJ in about 1804, and had several children there before the family moved to Newton, Sussex, NJ, it is probably that, as a 25 year old man, he had left Dutchess County NY before 1800.

In Post 1, I reviewed the Knap(p) entries in the 1790 U.S. Census trying to identify families that have a 15 year old white male.  There were 32 families, of which 22 had a white male under age 16. 

One of the resources I have in the genea-cave is a photocopy of the 900+ page book Nicholas Knapp Genealogy, compiled by Alfred Averill Knapp, M.D., published in Winter Park, Florida in 1953. 

There is also a Supplement to Nicholas Knapp Genealogy compiled by Alfred Averill Knapp, M.D. in 1956.  I don't have a complete copy of the Supplement.  The Supplement indicates that William Knapp (1775-1856) is #G-109 from the first volume.  The entry in the first volume for G-109 lists him as a son of #F-34 Shubel Knapp (1757-1831), who married Rebecca Mead (1767-1830) before 1788.   The family apparently resided in Greenwich, Connecticut.  The entry for #G-109 William says:

"G-109  William, b. 1788, d. Jan. 13, 1830 or Aug. 13, 1832, age 46 years.  Round Hill Cemetery. m. Sarah Cutter (?)."

By all indications, this identification of William Knapp (1775-1856) as the son of Shubel and Rebecca (Mead) Knapp is wrong.  All of the information I have for the year of William's birth (only the age 81 at death in 1856, the age of 60 to 70 in the 1840 census, the age 75 in the 1850 census, and the birth of the first child with Sarah Cutter in about 1804) supports a birth date of about 1775;  Shubel Knapp would have been age 18 in 1775, and Rebecca would have been age 8 in 1775. 

Back to the Nicholas Knapp genealogy.  This book has thousands of Knapp families listed.  some of them are residing in Dutchess County, New York in the late 1700s.  Last night, I went through my list of Knapp families in Dutchess County, NY in the 1790 U.S. Census, and could identify only 10 of the 32 census entries in the book.  Those families were:

D-75:  Benjamin Knapp (1738-1795) and Sarah Smith (?), resided in Peekskill and Putnam County, NY.  Had children John S. Knapp (1772-1850); Elijah Knapp (1775-1826); Israel Knapp (1776-????); Catherine Knapp (????-????); David Knapp (1771-1815); Phebe Knapp (????-????).  Benjamin was a Revolutionary War soldier

D-85:  Joseph Knapp (1740-1830) and Mary Clark, resided in Peekskill, NY.  They had children Joseph Knapp (1777-1830).

D-76:  Israel Knapp ( 1727-1789) and Mary Henion (????-1797), resided in Dutchess County, NY.  They had children Sarah Knapp (1771-1776); Rebecca Knapp (1772-1776); David Knapp (1774-1847); Elijah Knapp (1775-1826); Susanna Knapp (1778-????); Frederick Knapp (1780-1837); Elizabeth Knapp (1783-1842); Samuel Knapp (1785-1845); Samantha Knapp (????-????).

C-21:  Moses Knapp Sr. (1710-1795) married Elizabeth Ogden (1702-1770), resided in Peekskill and Yorktown, NY).  They had children Althea Knapp (1730-????); Daniel Knapp (1733-????); Abigail Knapp (1735-1753); David Knapp (1738-????); Joseph Knapp (1740-????); Moses Knapp (1742-????); Benjamin Knapp (1745-1853); Eli Knapp (????-????).

D-86:  Moses Knapp Jr. (1742-1833) married 1761 Mary Humphrey or Elizabeth Hatfield.  Had children Moses Knapp (1773-1839).  They moved to Montreal, Canada after the Revolutionary War.

D-74:  William Knapp ( 1725/30-????) married Jane --?-- (?).  They had children Jonathan Knapp (1775-????); William Knapp (1777/9-????, married Phebe?); Moses Knapp (????-????); Phoebe Knapp (????-????).

D-87:  Benjamin Knapp (1745-1853) married Sarah Smith (?), resided in Peekskill, NY.  They had John Knapp (1768-1870).

E-76:  Phineas Knapp (1739-1814) married 1758 Mercy Rundell (1743-1826, resided in Dutchess County, NY.  They had children Phineas Knapp (1768-1841); Abraham Knapp (1775-????); Mary Knapp ( 1763-1842); Rachel Knapp (1760-1839); Mercy Knapp (1759-????); Elizabeth Knapp (1766-????); Samantha Knapp (1773-1845); David Knapp (1776-1815?); Annor Knapp (1778-????); Tamma Knapp (1779-????); Charlotte Knapp (1785-1876); Abraham Rundell Knapp (1788-1864).

F-123:  Phineas Knapp ( 1768-1841) married Rebecca Westfall (????-1852).  They had 15 children.

E-193:  Thomas Knapp (1730-1804) married 1758 Lois Newcomb Bearse (1728-????).  They had children Zerviah Knapp (1759-????); Mary Knapp (1760-????); Josiah Knapp (1763-????); Daniel Knapp (????-????). 

E-192:  Peter Knapp (1730/40-????) married Martha Bearse (1738-????), resided Amenia, NY.  Newcomb (1778-1861); Benedict (1782-1833);  Asa Knapp (1767-1807); Peter Knapp (1770-????); Zilpha Knapp (1771/2-1829); Lois Knapp ( 1750-1834); Josiah Knapp (1762-1842); Samuel Knapp (176?-1805?).

The only real candidate in those families is #E-245 William Knapp (1777/9-????), who married Phebe --?-- and had children William Knapp (1795-????) and Jonathan Knapp (1809-????). 

All of the above assumes that Arthur Knapp correctly identified the names, dates, places and relationships from the myriad data available to him in 1953. 

Based on the above, I think that I can eliminate all of the ten entries above as possible parents of my William Knapp (1775-1856).

What next?  Several correspondents suggested looking at the names of the children of William and Sarah (Cutter) Knapp to see if there are recurring names which appear in other records.

Treasure Chest Thursday - Lucretia (Smith) Seaver's Death Certificate

It's Treasure Chest Thursday - time to share an artifact or a document image from my collection of ancestral stuff.

The treasure today is the death certificate for Lucretia (Smith) Seaver's (1828-1884) in Leominster, Worcester County, Massachusetts, obtained by mail from the Leominster Town Clerk in 1991:

The information on this "CERTIFICATE of DEATH" includes:
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
From the Records of Deaths in the City of Leominster, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

1.  Date of Death: MARCH 24, 18842.  Name: LUCRETIA D. SEAVER
     Maiden Name:  SMITH
3.  Sex, and whether Single:  FEMALE
    Married or widowed:  MARRIED
4. Age: 56 Years, 6 Months, 18 Days
5.  Color:  WHITE
6.  Disease or Cause of Death:  ABCESS
7.  Residence:  -----
8.  Occupation:  -----
9.  Place of Death:  LEOMINSTER, MA.
10.  Place of birth:  MEDFIELD
11.  Name of Husband or wife:  -----
12.  Name of Father:  ALPHEUS SMITH
13.  Maiden Name of Mother:  ELIZABETH D. (NOT LISTED)
14.  Birthplace of Father: ------
15.  birthplace of Mother:  -----
16.  Place of Interment:  LEOMINSTER, MA

I, Audrey J. Johnson, depose and say that I hold the office of City Clerk  of the City of Leominster, County of Worcester and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, that the records of Births, Marriages and Deaths required by law to be kept in said City are in my custody, and that the above is a true extraction of the records of Deaths in said City, as certified by me. 

Date of Recording:  1884

WITNESS my hand and seal of said City, on the 28TH day of AUGUST  19 91
Audrey J. Johnson
City Clerk

I posted the 1901 death certificate, obtained by Isaac Seaver's third wife, Alvina (Bradley) (Lewis) Seaver after Isaac died in order to obtain Isaac's Civil War Pension, in Treasure Chest Thursday - Lucretia (Smith) Seaver's Death Record.  I thought this was interesting to see how the format of a death record provided in 1901 looks significantly different to that which are provided in more recent times.  The information is the same, however!

The one interesting thing I saw on this death certificate was the age at death - 56 years, 6 months, 18 days.  For the death date of 24 March 1884, that works out to a birth date of 6 September 1827.  The Medfield, Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 book notes that Lucretia was born on 6 September 1828. 

The quandary now is did the informant, presumably her husband, Isaac Seaver, mis-state the year either from personal knowledge or from a record? 

The Original source for the birth record is the handwritten Medfield Town Clerk's entry in the record book using information provided by someone, probably Lucretia's father, soon after her birth.  This record is Primary Information and Direct Evidence. 

The town book record of the birth was then transcribed into the Vital Records of Medfield, Massachusetts To the End of the Year 1849 book published in 1903.  This book is a Derivative Source with Primary Information and Direct Evidence.

The Death Certificate above is a Derivative Source (the record was not made contemporaneously with the birth event), Secondary Source (relied on information provided by an informant who was not present for the event) and Indirect Evidence (I had to calculate the birth date from the age at death) for Lucretia's birth date.

Advent Calendar - December 15: Holiday Happenings

This is the 15th of 24 posts for the 2011 Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, a Geneablogger tradition.

On the 10th Day before Christmas,
my true love inquired to say
Did any ancestors marry on Christmas day?"

1) Select one or more December to mid-January birthdays and/or anniversaries on your family tree.

This, of course, requires knowledge of the birthdays, and anniversaries, of my ancestors and other relatives. What better way to find out than to exercise my genealogy software programs. The RootsMagic 4 program easily makes a list of persons born on specific days and couples with specific wedding days.

In my over 41,000 person database, there are 48 persons born on 25 December, but only one of my known ancestors - Benedict Oatley (1732-1815) - was born on Christmas Day.

Likewise, in my database, there are 40 couples married on Christmas Day. Only one known ancestral couple - Edward Hildreth (1831-1899) and Sophia Newton (1834-1923) was married on Christmas Day.

I had to use the Custom List in RootsMagic 4 to look for the 40 people that died on 25 December, but I found that none of my known ancestors died on that date. I did find that my ancestor, Thomas Wheeler (1621-1704) died on 24 December.

2) Write a short tribute to or memory of those birthday guys and gals and write a toast to the anniversary couples.

I am, of course, thankful that each one of my ancestors were born on the day that they were born, and that they were married on the day that they were married. There are things that happen in a moment that take a lifetime to explain - a birth, a conception, a marriage, a death, or any of the events that each individual experiences in their lifetime.

I wonder if my great-great-grandparents Edward and Sophia (Newton) Hildreth had some sort of special way each year to celebrate their marriage on 25 December 1852. I hope so! They shared 46 wedding anniversaries together.  A toast to Edward and Sophia (Newton) Hildreth - thank you for  your fine New England ancestry (even though Sophia's Newton ancestry is still one of my biggest mysteries!).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Possible Knapp Families in Dutchess County NY - Post 1: The 1790 U.S. Census

According to the limited records I have, William Knapp was born in 1775 in Dutchess County, New York.  I have been unable to determine the names of his parents after searching all of the Knapp surname books I can find, and reviewing many other books like the Dutchess County surname book.

Since he married Sarah Cutter of Woodbridge, NJ in about 1804, and had several children there before the family moved to Newton, Sussex, NJ,  it is probably that, as a 25 year old man, he had left Dutchess County NY before 1800.

That leaves the 1790 U.S. census as one of the finding tools that can be used to possibly narrow down the search for parental families.  In the 1790 U.S. census, there were only three columns for different age groups of white people, males age 16 and older, males under 16 years, and females.  William would be approximately age 15 in 1790, so I am looking for families with males under age 16.

All of the Knapp families in the 1790 U.S. census for Dutchess County are (with numbers for the three age groups, and those families with a white male under age 16 are in red):

Amenia Town:
Jones Knapp    1 -- 0 -- 2
Daniel Knapp   1 -- 2 -- 2
Silas Knapp    1 -- 0 -- 2
Thomas Knapp   1 -- 1 -- 4

Clinton town:
David Knapp  2 -- 1 -- 4
Samuel Knapp  3 -- 1 -- 6

Fishkill town:
Jonathan Knapp  2 -- 0 -- 2
James Knapp 1st  1 -- 1 -- 3
Benjamin Knapp  1 -- 0 -- 3
Shadrack Knapp  1 -- 0 -- 5
James Knapp 2nd  2 -- 2 -- 3
Nehemiah Knapp  2 -- 2 -- 2

Daniel Knapp  2 -- 2 -- 2
Benjamin Knapp  1 -- 4 -- 3
Joseph Knap  1 -- 4 -- 4
Israel Knap  1 -- 0 -- 2
Moses Knap Sr.  2 -- 0 -- 2
Moses Knap Jr.  1 -- 1 -- 5
William Knap  1 -- 0 -- 4
Benjamin Knap 2nd  1 -- 3 -- 3

Northeast town:
Thomas Knapp  2 -- 1 -- 4
Peter Knapp  2 -- 3 -- 4

Philipstown town:
Hannah Knapp  5 -- 3 -- 6
Mary Knapp  2 -- 3 -- 3
John Knapp  1 -- 4 -- 2

Poughkeepsie town:
Isaac Knapp  1 -- 2 -- 4

Washington town:
Phinehas Knapp  3 -- 2-- 4
Phinehas Knapp Jr.  1 -- 0 4
Amos Knapp  3 -- 4 -- 3
Nathaniel Knapp  1 -- 3 -- 3
John Knapp, 2 -- 1 -- 2

So 22 out of the 32 Knapp names in the 1790 U.S. Census for Dutchess County have a male under the age of 16 residing with them. 

Note also that some of the towns may be in present day Putnam County, the present county (formed in 1813?) just south of Dutchess County, NY.

Two potential problems may be that William Knapp (1775-1856) wasn't residing with a family headed by a Knapp in 1790, or the family he was residing with did not live in Dutchess County in 1790.  A third potential problem is that he may have been listed in the males 16 and over category.

How can I narrow these potential Knapp parental families down a bit more?  I can compare the family composition in the 1790 census with family entries from the Knapp Genealogy surname book.  I'll do that in my next post on this subject.

If readers have a good suggestion as to research opportunities for further narrowing possibilities, please offer them!

Rootsweb Review Bites the Dust

It seems like change is inevitable and constant, doesn't it?  For many years (14, I think), Rootsweb Review was a constant in the genealogy world - a weekly newsletter (and recently a monthly newsletter) chock full of useful, interesting and humorous articles and notes. 

It was a must-read for me for all of those years - I looked forward to reading it, and saved many of them.  Many society newsletters have used items from Rootsweb Review over the years to inform their readers.

The last issue of Rootsweb Review, December 2011, came in today's email.  Editor Anna Fechter wrote:

"I have had the privilege of being part of RootsWeb for many years and for the past 5 years I have worked behind the scenes on things such as creating mailing lists, message board improvements and managing the day-to-day operations of the site. For the past few years I have been the editor of the RootsWeb Review working with Gerhard, Joan and Mary to create an informational and entertaining newsletter. It saddens me to tell you that this will be the last edition of the RootsWeb Review. For 14 years we have laughed at funny names, cried over amazing discoveries, screamed in frustration at our brick walls, and most importantly we’ve grown and found our roots together. I encourage you to stop by the Newsroom for updates on what is happening around RootsWeb. Best wishes to you and your families for a wonderful holiday season.

Anna Fechter"

Hopefully, the full suite of Rootsweb Review issues will remain (forever?) in the Rootsweb archives at   The current list does not have November and December 2011 included yet.

Thank you to the editors, writers and contributors who gave so much to inform so many budding and experienced genealogy researchers over the past 14 years.  It was a labor of love for them, and I, for one, really appreciate the effort and the product.

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Voss from Molster Farm

I recently scanned some photographs from our 1999 trip to Scandinavia, including a visit to Oslo,  Voss and Bergen in Norway. I am posting some of these photos for (Not So) Wordless Wednesaday (you know me, I can't go wordless!)..

These are two photographs from our visit to Molster farm on the hill above the town of Voss in Norway.  They show the town of Voss below in essentially two side-by-side views:

The bottom photo shows the east end of the Vangsvatnet lake. 

In the bottom picture, I think that the Parek Liland Hotel is the building on the far right nearest the lake.  We took Bjorg Liland to dinner there after our very full Saturday of driving around the Vangsvatnet visiting Gjelle farm, Liland farm, and Molster farm.

Advent Calendar - December 14: Fruitcake! Friend or foe?

This is the 14th in a series of 24 posts for the 2011 Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, a Christmas Geneablogger tradition.

On the 11th Day of Christmas,
some joker sent to me
the biggest fruitcake I ever did see!

1) Did you like fruitcake?

I don't recall ever eating more than one bite of fruitcake, so I don't know if I like it or not. I think probably not...

2) Did your family receive fruitcakes?

As a kid, I don't think so. We didn't get many gifts from out of town, and no one here, except probably Cousin Dorothy who was "different," received them.

3) Have you ever re-gifted fruitcake?

I recall that Linda and I received one by opening a gift at a Christmas party, and we promptly re-gifted at the New Years Party - to much laughter. We had to disguise it in a box, though.

4) Have you ever devised creative uses for fruitcake?

Of course...examples --

* Petrified Fruitcake (surprise your favorite geologist)?
* Fruitcake fights (hidden in a snowball)?
* Fruitcake-eating contest (go for a Guinness world record)?
* Juicy-Fruitcake gum (hide it under your best friend's desk)?
* Scantily clad girl surprises 90-year old on his birthday by jumping out of a large fruitcake (Ah, the mind wanders, er, well, I should be so lucky in 22 years)?
*  Add "Fruitcake" Seaver to my family tree and see if a cousin finds it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Commentary on Social Security Death Index Restrictions

Since the finding yesterday that the Social Security Death Index (SSDI, the public version of the Death Master File (DMF)) had been removed from the free Rootsweb website, there have been a number of articles about the issue by notable genealogists that shed some light, and some commentary, on the issue.  These include:

Amy Johnson Crow wrote Why Closing the SSDI is a Bad Idea on 25 November.  She refers to the “Keeping IDs Safe Act of 2011″ (aka KIDS Act), introduced but not yet passed in the U.S. Congress. 

*  Kimberly Powell on the About: Genealogy blog wrote Social Security Administration Removing Names from Public Death Master File (aka SSDI) on 12 December.  She refers to Amy's post and to Social Security's FAQ on Online availability of SSA's Death Master File.

*  Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak wrote Are We Going to Lose the Social Security Death Index (SSDI)? on her blog today  which summarized some of the identity theft reports and referenced a Presidential Memorandum for Managing Government Records. 

*  Dick Eastman wrote Genealogists are Losing Access to SSDI, Mostly Due to Misinformation and linked to several identity theft reports. 

Megan and Dick noted that the problem is that the government agencies, credit organizations and banks that should be utilizing the Death Master File to screen income tax returns and other identity-critical information are not using the tool provided to them by the SSDI/DMF. 

They also identify the proactive response that genealogists can take to influence their congressional representatives and senators - and point out the real problem in a polite, informational letter or telephone call. 

Otherwise, we're going to lose the Social Security Death Index as a useful genealogical resource if we don't do something soon.  We will still be able to order information from the Social Security Administration, but the process will be much more difficult to execute.  The Social Security Application can be ordered using the form at

Early-Bird Deadline for APG PMC in Salt Lake City

I received this press release today and want to pass it on to those interested:


Early-Bird Deadline Approaching for APG Professional Management Conference

WESTMINSTER, Colo., December 13, 2011− The early-bird registration deadline is rapidly approaching for the upcoming APG Professional Management Conference (PMC). The one-day conference will be held February 1, 2011 at the Radisson Hotel, Salt Lake City. Members who sign up before December 31, 2011 will receive $25 off of the registration fee.

The conference is also open to non-members. PMC is being held one day before the RootsTech Family History & Technology Conference ( The conference, themed “Techniques, Tools, and Technology,” will feature lectures from top genealogists, including J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA; Paula Stuart-Warren, CG; Thomas MacEntee; Teresa Koch-Bostic; Melissa A. Johnson; Laura G. Prescott; Kory L. Meyerink, AG; and Diane L. Giannini, CG. Lectures will provide strategic and practical advice for genealogists, from research planning to earning a living.

The conference is open to professionals, aspiring professionals, and anyone interested in networking with professional genealogists. Lecture topics and registration details at

About APG

The Association of Professional Genealogists (, established in 1979, represents more than 2,400 genealogists, librarians, writers, editors, historians, instructors, booksellers, publishers and others involved in genealogy-related businesses. APG encourages genealogical excellence, ethical practice, mentoring and education. The organization also supports the preservation and accessibility of records useful to the fields of genealogy and history. Its members represent all fifty states, Canada and thirty other countries. APG is active on LinkedIn, Twitter ( and FaceBook (

### Media Contacts:
Kathleen W. Hinckley, CG, Executive Director,
Association of Professional Genealogists
P.O. Box 350998, Westminster, CO 80035-0998
Phone 303-422-9371, fax 303-456-8825,

Corey Oiesen, Communications Officer
Association of Professional Genealogists

Tech Tuesday - Smart Phone and a Tablet...oh my!

We went shopping last weekend for new phones, and I got an iPhone 4 (not a 4s, they were out of them at the Verizon store) in an effort to bring my technology into the 21st century.  Unfortunately, Linda still had a Verizon contract so she couldn't get one too.  While she was sitting in a chair looking sad, a salesman interested her in a Samsung Galaxy we got that for her so she can play games, check her email and check Facebook.  Maybe she'll even read my blog once in awhile (hmmm, I'll need to be careful what I say here!) or even look at her family tree.  Merry Christmas to us!

Back to my iPhone.  After learning how to use the phone, hooking up to my Gmail account, how to use the camera, how to use the Maps function, and how to use the App Store (wow!), I brought it home and have added so far:

*  Twitter
*  Facebook
*  Google Reader
*  Google Plus
*  Evernote
*  Billion Graves
*  The Weather Channel
*  Sudoku
*  FamilyConnect

I tried to upload my 41,000 person (that was naive of me!) to the iPhone...big mistake...after an hour it was about half loaded.  I canceled that.  Heather Rojo suggested a smaller database works fine, so I made a GEDCOM file using RootsMagic 5 that included my ancestry (12 generations, including siblings of ancestors), Linda's ancestry, my great-grandparents descendants, and Linda's great-grandparents descendants.  That came to about 7,000 persons, including all of our close families.  I imported that to Family Tree Maker 2012, and then added it to my trees.  That was easily managed by the iPhone.  I'm thinking that I can invite my brothers, daughters, and cousins to that Ancestry tree and they can add it to their smart phones also (perhaps interesting one of them to carry on the quest).

Is there a way to get PDF documents into the iPhone? 

I'm still experimenting with music and podcasts that I have on my desktop computer and adding them to iTunes to transfer to the iPhone. I have only 8 gb so need to be careful with quantity. 

We haven't done much with the Galaxy Tablet yet ... Linda is still experimenting with it, and wants to go get more training from the Verizon salesman.  I may end up using that to read PDFs and presentations.

I can access YouTube through the iPhone so I can probably watch the different genealogy channels.  Now I'm wondering if I can watch the FamilySearch Research Courses through the browser.  I need to try that also.  So many features, so little time!

While the smart phone is really useful, I find that so far I have used it to read email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ while I'm watching television or waiting somewhere.  As such, it will save me some reading time on the desktop computer. 

I asked about additional Apps on Facebook, and received a number of suggestions (and have added some of them in the list above).  I haven't bought anything yet.

What other Apps should I add that are useful for genealogy research and documentation?  Please tell me what and why!

Advent Calendar - December 13: Holiday Travel

This is the 13th of 24 posts for the 2011 Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, a Geneablogger tradition.

On the 12th day of Christmas,
we packed up the car to go
All the way to San Francisco.

1) Did you travel anywhere for Christmas?

As a kid, we never traveled anywhere for Christmas, other than to Cousin Dorothy's, my grandparents and the Christmas tree lot.

After we were married, we would alternate Christmas between San Diego and San Francisco, because Linda's parents and brother were there. They would come to San Diego one year, and we would go to San Francisco the next year. Until the kids were older, we usually flew to San Francisco on Christmas Day and returned before New Years Day. As the kids grew older, we would drive to San Francisco, usually leaving on the 23rd and arriving on the 24th. This let us do some winter vacationing in Yosemite and other places after the holiday.

We tried each year to have a get-together and dinner with my brothers here in San Diego. If the girls were here, then we would have a Christmas Day dinner at our house or my brothers' house.. If we were going north, we would get together with the brothers the weekend before Christmas.

Our daughters started their own families, and so now we have to juggle everybody's schedule. Last year, we drove to Tami's before Christmas, then to Linda's brother's house in Monte Rio, and to Lori's for Christmas Eve and Day.  This year, Tami is bringing her family here the weekend before Christmas, and we'll get to Lori's home before Christmas Day, and be home by New Year's Eve.

2) How did you travel and who traveled with you?

We either flew to San Francisco and were picked up by Linda's father or brother, or we drove the 550 miles, usually up Highway 101 because it wasn't as subject to snow, ice and fog like Interstate 5 was. Now, we almost always drive alone, as described above.

3) Do you remember any special trips?

The trip to Yosemite after Christmas in about 1985 was the best! The girls were pre-teens and loved to travel. We stayed in a motel, but were able to wander around the lodge, see the waterfalls, bike around the valley, and go to the ski resort. There, we did some sliding on mats (I think), had snowball fights, watched the skiers, and enjoyed hot drinks in the lodge. That night, we visited Linda's cousin in Fresno and stayed the night, and headed home the next day.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Social Security Death Index Gone from

One of the very best FREE databases for the past ten years or more has been the Social Security Death Index (actually the Death Master Index) on Rootsweb (  One of the best features of this page was the letter that could be printed to order an SS-5 application from the U.S. government.

Now it is gone.  The note on the site says:

"Due to sensitivities around the information in this database, the Social Security Death Index collection is not available on our free Rootsweb service but is accessible to search on Visit the Social Security Death Index page to be directly connected to this collection."

This must have happened in the last few days, since I used it last week on Rootsweb.

The Social Security Death Index is also available on:  FREE, but no letter written.  FREE, but no letter written.  not FREE; if you have a subscription, the information will be provided.  There is a link to write a letter in the Page Tools (upper left corner of the Search results) - "Request copy of original application."  not FREE: if you have a subscription (or register for a free three-day subscription), you can see the information.  FREE:  but no letter is written.  FREE: will write a letter to obtain the application.

There is an interesting comment on the Ancestry page:

"Why can’t I see the Social Security Number? If the Social Security Number is not visible on the record index it is because does not provide this number in the Social Security Death Index for any person that has passed away within the past 10 years."

This is, I think, another recent change.

Hat tip to Sheri Fenley on Google+.

Updated:  13 December 2011 - added content in red type.

Tamura Jones finds the GEDCOM X playground

I no sooner finished my RootsTech post and put atweet on Twitter about it, and than I saw Tamura Jones's tweet about his post titled "GEDCOM X" on his Modern Software Experience website. 

There are several highlights that Tamura has discovered:

*  The URLS,, and were reserved by Gordon Clarke of FamilySearch last February right after the RootsTech 2011 conference.

*  FamilySearch is apparently using the freemium service to develop GEDCOM X.

*  There are some interesting screenshots on Tamura's site, with links to different documents, on the Cloudbees site relating to GEDCOM X.

Please read all of Tamura Jones's post and investigate on your own.

First Look at the RootsTech 2012 Schedule

I spent some time today looking at the list of RootsTech 2012 presentations and speakers on the page. 

The description says:

"At RootsTech you’ll hear from technology leaders and innovators in the family history industry. Learn new skills, best practices and discover technology tools through interactive presentations and hands-on workshops."

There are two "tracks" - one for "Users" (80 talks) and one for "Developers" (53 talks).  I am most interested in the "Users" track.  Unfortunately, there is no listing of dates and times for the different presentations on the RootsTech web site yet.  I went looking for intriguing "Users" presentations, and saw these "Top 10":

*  "A Report Card for the Genealogy software Industry" by Ron Tanner

*  "Digitizing Your Way to Organization" by Pamela Sayre

*  "Future of FamilySearch Family Tree" by Ron Tanner

*  "Genealogy 2.0: international panelists discuss their use of social media to connect with cousins, collaborate on projects, discuss issues, market and promote genealogy services and perform acts of genealogical kindness., with Jill Ball, Joan Miller, Audrey Collins, Amy coffin.

*  "Genealogy Internet Gems" by Ancestry Insider

*  "Inspiring Ways to Capture the Interest of the Non-Genealogists in Your Life" by Lisa Louise Cooke

*  "Mobile Apps for Genealogy" by A.C. Ivory

*  "RootsTech Genealogy Idol" by Geoff Rasmussen

*  "The Fifty Most Popular Genealogy Websites (Really!)" by Kory Meyerink

*  "What does it take to get a good result? The inner-workings of the search engine" by John Bacus

And in the "Developers" track, these caught my eye:

*  "A New GEDCOM: Project Scope, Goals, and Governance" by Ryan Heaton

*  "A New GEDCOM: Tools, Syntax and Semantics" by Ryan Heaton

*  "A Robust Open-source GEDCOM Parser" by Dallan Quass

*  "Citation Principles for Tech Creators" by Robert Raymond

There are many more, of course!   Go look at the page and see what you would like to attend.

What presentations top your "must-see" list?

Something tells me that I won't be spending as much time as usual in the Bloggers cage/fishbowl/lounge...

Disclosure:  I am an Official Blogger for RootsTech, and have had my conference registration comped by RootsTech.   I will be  blogging from the conference and sharing my experiences, opinions and photos about what I see and hear.

Amanuensis Monday - the Will of Joseph Farwell (1641-1722)

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

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

The subject today is the will of Joseph Farwell (1641-1722) of Dunstable, Massachusetts. He was married to Hannah Learned (1649-????) in 1666 and they had ten children:  Hannah Farwell (1668-1739); Joseph Farwell (1670-1740); Elizabeth Farwell (1672-1729); Henry Farwell (1674-1738); Isaac Farwell (1678-????); Mary Farwell (1681-????); Sarah Farwell (1683-????); John Farwell (1686-1709); William Farwell (1688-????); Oliver Farwell (1692-????).

Joseph Farwell died testate, having written his will on 13 November 1711, and his probate records are in Middlesex County Probate Records, Probate Packet 7,361 (image copies of original documents, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,397,055).  His will reads:

"In the Name of the Lord God Amen Joseph Farwell Senr of the town Dunstable in the County of Middlesx in the province of the Massachusets Bay in Newengland yeoman being of Sound and Perfect memory praise be given to god for the same yet knowing the Uncertainty of this Life on Earth and being Desirouss to Settle things in order Do Make and Ordaine this to be my Last Will and Testament.  Hereby Revoking all former Wills by me made and signed to be null and of none Effect.

"Im Primus My Soule I give unto the hands of allmighty god that gave it in sure and certaine hopes of Eternaul Life through our alone Lord and Saiover Jesuss Christ and my body to the Earth from whence it came to be Decently Interred at the Descretion of My Executors -- hereafter Named and after my funerall expenses and Debts satisfied And Paid What Worldly goods it hath pleased god to Endow me with - all I Do give and Bequeath in manner as followeth --

"Item I Do give unto My beloved Wife Hannah Farewell all my Moveable good both within the House and abroad of all sorts Whatsoever to be at her Disposall for ever excepting one paire of Andirons ...

"Item I Do give and Bequeath to my Son Oliver Farewel and to his Heirs executors Administrators for ever the one half of My housings and Land which I have now in my possession when he shall Attaine to the age of twenty one years allso I do give to him one paier of Andirons:  Allso I do give and bequeath to him my son Oliver Farewell and to his Heirs the other part of all of my Housings and Lands which I have in possession after my Decease and after the Decease of my Wife Hannah Farewell if in the meane time of our Lives he doth take the whole care of us Both And to provide all things comfortable and Necessary for us both in sickness and in health and to Bestow upon us or either of us A Decent Buriell:  Hereby Authorizing and fully Impowring my Beloved wife Hannah Farewel and my son Henry Farewell to be Whole and Sole Executors Joyntly and Severally of this my Last Will and Testament - In Witness Whereof I have hereunto subscribed as Witness my hand and seall the thirteenth Day of November Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred and elevon, and in the tenth year of her Majestie's Reign &c.

"Signed, sealed and published
to be the Last will and testament
of Joseph Farewell
In presence of us
Ames Chever
Samuel Moody
John Meriam Junr.

"Before signing and sealing it is to be understood that all my other Children both sons and Daughters have Received their full portions of me allready.

...............................................................  Joseph Farwell        Seal

The will was proved on 16 January 1722/3, with John Meriam Junr and Francis Foxcroft Junr attesting.  Henry Farwell posted 100 pounds in currant money.  Joseph Farwell, Henry Farwell, William Farwell, Thomas Colbern and Oliver Farwell also signed an unreadable piece of paper - probably an agreement to the provisions of the will.
Note that his wife, Hannah, was not mentioned in the will proving.  Since the will was written in 1711, but proved in 1723, Hannah (Learned) Farwell may have died before Joseph Farwell died.

The only children named in the will are sons Oliver and Henry, but we see that at the time the will was proved in early 1723 that at least sons Joseph, Henry, William and Oliver, plus the wife of Thomas Colbern (Mary Farwell), were still alive. 

I wonder if this name was pronounced "fair well" rather than "far well" because of how Joseph consistently spelled the last name in the will.

I descend from Joseph Farwell (1670-1740), the first son of Joseph and Hannah (Learned) Farwell.