Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Watch a FamilySearch Research Course

It's Saturday Night again - and time for more Genealogy Fun!!  Are you up for this?

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

1)  Go to the FamilySearch Research Course page - - and select a Research Course of interest.  Use the filters in the left-hand column for Places, Skill Level, Subject, Format and Language to help you decide.

2)  Click on the Research Course you selected, and watch the video.  In some cases, there is a syllabus that you can download and/or print out.

3)  Tell us about your experiences in a blog post of your own, a comment to this post, or in a Facebook status line or a Google Plus Stream post.  Tell us why you selected the specific course, what you learned, and what other course you want to watch.

Here's mine:

I selected the "Heads of Household Only" course, presented by Angela McComas. 

My reason for selecting it was that it was relatively short (19 minutes), and I was interested to see what it was about.  The syllabus shows each of the slides presented.

The most useful information in this course for me was how she compared several years of census records to narrow down the search for the "right" family in pre-1850 census records.  She also mentioned the census forms in the William Dollarhide book, The Census Book, which includes a form to help you with those comparisons.  I have the Dollarhide book in a PDF format, so I went into my book files and printed out that page (page 180) for use on a current project.

The course that I want to watch next is Evaluating and Solving Research Problems with Karen Clifford.

There is a wealth of genealogy education on the FamilySearch Learning Center.  There is something for persons at every level of genealogy experience.

Surname Saturday - SMITH (England > Charlestown, Massachusetts)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week. I am up to number 317, who is Mary Smith (1698-????), one of my 6th-great-grandparents. [Note: The 6th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts]

My ancestral line back through two generations of SMITH 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-????)

158.  John Phillips (1722-????)
159.  Hannah Brown (about 1725 - before 1774)

 316.  Ebenezer Phillips, born 17 August 1695 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States; died before 21 August 1746 in Southborough, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States.  He was the son of 636. Andrew Phillips and 637. Sarah Smith.  He married before 1719 in probably Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.
 317.  Mary Smith, born 08 March 1698 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States.

Children of Ebenezer Phillips and Mary Smith are: Mary Phillips (1719-????); Ebenezer Phillips (1721-????); John Phillips (1722-????); Samuel Phillips (1726-1810); Joanna Phillips (1729-1788); Ruth Phillips (1733-1746).

 634.  John Smith, born about 1647; died before March 1706 in probably Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States.  He married 18 May 1693 in Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.
 635.  Ruth Cutler, born 02 February 1668 in Reading, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; died 17 May 1758 in Reading, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  She was the daughter of 1270. Thomas Cutler and 1271. Mary Giles.

Children of John Smith and Ruth Cutler are: Ruth Smith (1694-????); Mary Smith (1698-????); Elizabeth Smith (1700-????); Hannah Smith (1702-1704).

The only resource I have for this Smith family is the vital records of Charlestown, Massachusetts. 

It is possible that John Smith (1647-1706) is related to Michael Smith (1620-1687) of Malden, Massachusetts.  Michael Smith's daughter, Sarah Smith, was married to Andrew Phillips (1661-1721) and was Ebenezer Phillips mother. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Follow Friday - Genealogy Fun on New Year's Weekend

Christmas weekend is here, and many of us will be really busy with family and friends. If you have some free time (yeah, right!), 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. There is no show this week - the next live show will be 6 January 2012.  Please check the Archives for past radio shows. 

2)Listen to the FGS Radio - My Societyshow on Saturday (2 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. CT, 12 noon MT, 11 a.m. PT) hosted by Thomas MacEntee. This show is on hiatus until 7 January 2012. Please check the Archives for past radio shows.

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)
*** 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 over 128 items on it now, including (free to view):
*** LIVE: Using Online Trees to Help with Pre-1850 Relatives with Anne Mitchell.
*** 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. We are returning home today from our Christmas visit to Santa Cruz and Monte Rio. We made some more family history and memories.

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.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Assessing My 2011 Genealogy Goals and Objectives

It seems like every year I make a set of lofty goals and objectives, and then fail to meet many of them.  Here are my assessments of my goals and objectives for 2011:

1)  Research:  Grade = C

I went to the FHC once, and to Carlsbad Library once.  I did get to the Allen County (Indiana) Public Library for one day of research.  My to-do lists are lacking and not up-to-date.  I did solve one brickwall research problem and spent quite a bit of time adding information and sources to my genealogy database.

2)  Data Organization:  Grade = C

I managed to create couple-based digital folders and transferred many, but not all, of my documents into those folders using a consistent file naming convention.  I sorted out the paper piles into "to be filed" and "to be entered and then filed" stacks and have worked through about 20% of the "to be entered..." stack.  I haven't filed anything.  I created a surname notebook system and managed to fill up two surname notebooks, leaving, oh, about 200 to go.  The photos have not been added to the couple-based digital folders yet.

3)  Genealogy Database: Grade = C

I have added quite a few new sources, and quite a few source citations, as I add new information and work through my "to be entered..." stack.  However, I've added very few citations for sources previously entered.  I did several critical analysis reviews for brickwall ancestral families, including William Knapp.

4)  Education:  Grade = B

We went to the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree in June and the FGS Conference in September.  I attended a few webinars, but watched many more after the event.  I didn't read many new genealogy books.

5)  Society Activities:  Grade = A

I attended as many CVGS, SDGS and CGSSD meetings as I could, led the CVGS Research Group, edited the CVGS newsletter wrote on the CVGS blog, responded to queries, and contributed to the SDGS newsletter.

6)  Speaking and Teaching:  Grade = A

I spoke to CVGS, SDGS, CGSSD, NSDCGS, EGS, and GSNOCC during 2011, taught three OASIS courses, one Genealogy 101 course at CVGS, plus two library presentations on genealogy.

7)  Writing:  Grade = A

I have kept up my writing on my Genea-Musings, The Geneaholic,  and the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blogs, but the the South San Diego County Graveyard Rabbit blog has languished.  I wrote my four FGS FORUM columns, the Graveyard Rabbit Journal columns, and my yearly Seaver-Richmnd Family Journal.

8)  Real Life:  Grade = B

We went for a two-week Midwest vacation, visited with the daughters, grandchildren, and brother-in-law, but no brothers or cousins.  I actually lost 14 pounds by May, but have put it all back on since our vacation (I injured my foot), and ate too much).  I think I slacked off a bit on genealogy, averaging maybe 9 hours a day this year.
So, three A's, two B's and three C's.  The C's all relate to my research, organization and database work, and the A's all relate speaking, writing and teaching.  That's not as bad as I thought it would be!

How did you do with your 2011 genealogy goals and objectives?

Treasure Chest Thursday - The 1906 Schaffner-McKnew Marriage License

It's Treasure Chest Thursday - time to show another digital image of a treasured document in my collection.

This week it is the 1906 Marriage License of Linda's maternal grandparents - Paul F. Schaffner and Edna C. McKnew in San Francisco, California.  I found it in the historical record collection for San Francisco County Records, 1826-1997. 

The transcription of this record is (all words typed, except italicized handwritten entries):

M A R R I A G E   L I C E N S E
State of California .......................................... City and County of San Francisco

....THESE PRESENTS are to authorize and license any Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge of the Superior court, Justice of the Peace, Police Judge, Priest or Minister of the Gospel of any denomination to solemnize, within said County the marriage of PAUL F. SCHAFFNER aged 26 years, resident of City and County of San Francisco State of California, and EDNA C. MCKNEW aged 22 years, resident of City and County of San Francisco State of California said parties being of sufficient age to be capable of contracting marriage.

..... IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the Seal of the Superior Court of said City and County this 23rd day of June A. D. 1906.

(seal)  .................................................. H. I. MULCREVY, County Clerk
............................................................. and ex-officio Clerk of the Superior Court
............................................................. by G.L. MUNSON, Deputy Clerk.

..... State of California
City and County of San Francisco

........................................... I HEREBY CERTIFY that the parties named in the above license were joined in marriage by me, on the 24th day of June A. D. 1906 in said City and County and State, that May Mc Knew a resident of San Francisco County of San Francisco State of Calif. and Herman Schaffner, Jr. a resident of San Francisco County of San Francisco State of Calif., were present as witnesses of said ceremony.

.............. IN WITNESS WHEREOF I hereunto set my hand this 24th day of June A. D. 1906.

.................................................... E.G. KEITH, Clergyman
.................................................... Methodist Episcopal Church

Recorded at the request of E.G. Keith
June 28, 1906
No. G, 703.

............................................................................ Jno H. Nelson
............................................................................ County Recorder
............................................................................ By OW Kyle, Deputy

I'm always interested in the format of these older documents.  In this case, there is not much new to my knowledge base - the two new information items are the church denomination and the names of the witnesses, who are siblings of the contracting parties.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'm Mitt Romney's (Distant) Cousin

In my unending quest to find cousin relationships with famous people, I went searching for my connection to Republican candidate for President, Mitt Romney. I found that I'm probably an 9th cousin once removed to him.

Our Most Recent Common Ancestors are probably Francis Nurse and Rebecca Towne (yes, the Rebecca Nurse hanged as a witch in 1692 in Salem). Here is the descent from them (with ahnentafel numbers and information from

1. 1954 Francis Nurse (????-1695) m. 1644 Rebecca Towne (????-1692)
2. 977 Elizabeth Nurse (1665-????) m. 1678 William Russell (1655-1744)
3. 488 Ebenezer Russell (1688-1762) m. 1710 Deborah Hubbard (1687-????)
4. 244 Ellis Russell (1730-????) m. 1751 Joanna Wolcott (1733-????)
5. 122 Oliver Russell (1777-????) m. 1794 Nancy Newton (1779-????)
6. 61 Nancy Russell (1799-1889) m. 1815 Robert Berry (1783-1847)
7. 30 Robert Berry (1823-1905) m. 1842 Elnora Warner (1822-1865)
8. 15 Rosetta Mary Berry (1843-1918) m. 1865 Charles Edward Robison (1845-1883)
9 7 Alma Luella Robison (1882-1938) m. 1903 Harold Arundel LaFount (1880-1952)
10 3 Lenore LaFount (1908-1998) m. 1931 George Wilcken Romney (1907-1995)
11 Willard "Mitt" Romney (1947- )

My line from Francis Nurse and Rebecca Towne is:

1. 2394 Francis Nurse (1618-1695) m. 1644 Rebecca Towne (1621-1692)
2. 1197 Sarah Nurse (1648-????) m. 1669 Michael Bowden (1651-1740)
3. 598 Michael Bowden (1673-1741) m. 1697 Sarah Davis (1676-1754)
4. 299 Mary Bowden (1705-????) m. 1726 Michael Bowden (1703-1748)
5. 149 Mary Richards (1733-????) and Isaac Buck (ca1730-????)
6. 74 Isaac Buck (1757-1846) m. 1780 Martha Phillips (1757-1820)
7. 37 Sophia Buck (1797-1882) m. ca 1833 Thomas J. Newton (????-????)
8. 18 Edward Hildreth (1831-1899) m. 1852 Sophia Newton (1834-1923)
9. 9 Hattie L. Hildreth (1857-1920) m. 1874Frank W. Seaver (1852-1922)
10. 4 Frederick W. Seaver (1876-1940) m. 1900 Alma Bessie Richmond (1882-1962)
11. 2 Frederick W. Seaver (1911-1983) m. 1942 Betty V. Carringer (1919-2002)
12. 1 Randall J. Seaver (1943- )

So in this line I am the 9th cousin once removed to Mitt Romney.

There are several other New England colonial families that we share; the common immigrant ancestors include (ahnentafel numbers from here)

1952 William Russell and Martha --?--
3920 William Towne and Joanna Blessing
and probably others in later generations

Do you think that if Mitt Romney becomes President, that he will consult with me, or even acknowledge our distant relationship? If he does take the office, I'm going to write him and tell him that I am at his genealogical service. He'll probably pick someone more known than me, but maybe he will give me some consideration.

Do you have a connection to Mitt Romney? What about any of the other Presidential candidates?

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Post 185: Norway in a Nutshell Tour

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 Wednesday (you know me, I can't go wordless!)..

These are two photographs from our visit to Norway. We took a Norway Fjord tour out of Voss on a bus one day through the mountains north of Voss to Gudvangen. We boarded a ship that cruised across the Sognefjord to Leikanger, then cruised further up the fjord to Flam. We got off the boat in Flam and took the Flam Mountain Railway up the mountain past raging waterfalls, to Myrdal, where we caught the train back to Voss. This was the sightseeing highlight of our vacation.

Here are several pictures:

1) This is a farm alongside one of the smaller fjords, taken from the ship:

Here is the town of Gudvangen, taken from the ship:

This is the large raging waterfall on the railway between Flam and Myrdal.

You can see the current Norway in a Nutshell tours offered here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: San Francisco County Records on FamilySearch

This week's Tuesday's Tip is:  Look for Marriage, Probate, Land and other records for San Francisco on

I have seen the future of online digital records in the record collection titled California, San Francisco County Records, 1824-1997.  The collection description says:

"Records from San Francisco County, California including an alphabetical newspaper clipping file of the "San Francisco Examiner", death reports, general index, indexes to deeds, deeds, indexes to marriage certificates, marriage licenses, indexes to naturalizations, naturalization records, coroner's records, and alien registrations. This collection is being published as images become available."

The user can browse through over 1 million images of records that are organized by subject, and then by years and volumes. 

For instance, here is the screen for the Marriage Records:

This collection page shows that there are:

*  Marriage Affidavits - 1906 (Volumes 1 and 2), 1912-1915 (Volumes 38-52)
*  Marriage Certificate Index (Brides) - 1904 to 1975 (Volumes A, 1-47)
*  Marriage Certificate Index (Grooms) - 1904 to 1975 (Volumes A, 1-48)
*  Marriage Certificates, Marriage Licenses - 1918 to 1936 (Volumes 164 to 350)
*  Marriage Certificates - 1906 to 1922 (Volumes 1 to 60)
*  Marriage Licenses - 1906 to 1920 (Volumes 1 to 194)

I wanted to find the marriage on 24 June 1906 of my wife's grandparents.  I selected the Marriage Certificate Index (Brides) for 1906 and the first image in that collection opened:

I went to the next page (right arrow on top line) and quickly figured out that the list was in last name first letter alphabetical order.  I guessed page 110 for the M's, and found Edna McKnew on page 119 (the Mc persons got a separate page from the M persons):

This page tells me that Edna C. McKnew married Paul Schaffner on 24 June 1906, and their marriage was performed by E.G. Keith.  It is on Volume 3, page 181 (presumably of the Marriage Certificates). 

Well, they weren't in Volume 3 of the Marriage Certificates collection (don't ask me why - Volume 3 was for 1908-1909).  I found them in Volume 1 which was for 1906-7 on page 31 (two screens):

This is a register, not the actual certificate.  The information is:

*  Cert. Number: 1683
*  Date of Entry: June 28, 1906
*  Date of Marriage: June 24, 1906
*  Place of Marriage: S.F.
*  Names of Contracting Parties:  Paul Schaffner, Edna C. McKuen [that's how I read it!]

*  Residence:  S.F., S.F.
*  Age:  26, 22
*  Color or Race:  White, White
*  Birthplace:  Calif., Calif.
*  Name of Bride if Previously Married:
*  By Whom Married:  E.G. Keith

So now I'm wondering which Volume 3 has more information about the couple.  Is it the Marriage Affidavits?  Volume 3 of the Marriage Affidavits is not available yet. 

Is it the Marriage Licenses?  Volume 3 is for 1906, and there I found the license (on page 181, image 183):

I saved the full license to my computer files:

Maybe I'll transcribe that for Treasure Chest Thursday!  Stay tuned!

There is a wealth of information in these San Francisco records, but you really have to Browse to find them.  Actually, it's just like scrolling through microfilm at the FHC, except it's slower to scroll through and you can do it at home in your bunny slippers, pajamas and nightcap.  But it's much faster to access the digital records than order the microfilms and then go to the FamilySearch Research Center several weeks later to read the film in your research outfit.

I think that the future of genealogy research is in these digital record collections.  I think that many brickwall problems will be solved once the land, tax, town, church and probate records hiding on the FamilySearch microfilms are digitized and indexed. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Q&A with Julie Hill of about the 1940 U.S. Census

After was announced as the National Archives partner to host the 1940 U.S. Census images back in mid-November, I asked Julie Hill of if she could answer the questions that I had about the announcement, the 1940 U.S. Census, and the effort.  Here are my questions and Julie's  answers (all via email):

Randy Seaver (RS):  Was this announcement about the 1940 U.S. Census image hosting a result of being awarded the NARA Contract for no-cost hosting of the images?

Julie Hill (JH) Yes. Our recent press release about the 1940 Census was to publicize our award of the NARA contract. Our press release and NARA’s press release were published the same day. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with NARA on this important project. As part of the project, we will build a website for NARA where the 1940 Census images will be available electronically April 2, 2012. More info at

RS:  Will have to increase their hardware investment (e.g., servers, drives) to provide the requested service times and volume specified in the NARA contract? 

JH:  We are prepared for a large traffic spike April 2, 2012 and plan to scale appropriately to handle user demand. We are factoring in the large interest for the 1940 Census into our plans.

RS:  What is the expected size of the individual images of the 1940 U.S. census pages, and the total size of the collection?

JH:  The 1940 Census image collection consists of 3.8 million images, from 4,745 rolls of microfilm.

RS:  Will create an every name index for the 1940 U.S. census?  If so, when will that work begin?

JH:  Archives will make a 1940 Census name index available on its website – accessible for free. This is a separate effort from the NARA project. The announcement was made last week that will be a partner in the 1940 US Census Community Project along with FamilySearch and brightsolid. The project will rely on volunteers to index the 1940 Census by name, and work will begin after the 1940 Census is made public April 2, 2012.

RS: If does not create an index, will you partner with another company that is creating an index?

JH:  Joint project mentioned above.

RS: When do you expect a complete every name index of the 1940 U.S. census to be available?

JH:  Indexing work will begin immediately following April 2, 2012. No exact completion date has been announced – but the name index will be made available as soon as possible. More information about timing will be published next year.

RS:  How extensive will the every name index be - will researchers be able to search on names, dates, locations, relationships, etc.?   Will they be able to use wild card searches, exact searches, Soundex and other searches?

JH:  The 1940 Census will be indexed by volunteers using the FamilySearch indexing tools. Information regarding the exact fields to be indexed is best provided by the FamilySearch staff. Functionality provided to search the 1940 Census (like wild card searches, etc) will depend on the website – our goal at will be to make the records as easy to search as possible. Exact searches are possible on today, and we expect to make future enhancements to increase functionality further.

RS: NARA has said that the images will be freely available on the host site.  Will that ever change on 

JH:  Like other members of the consortium, our intention is to make the 1940 Census free on and we don’t have any plans or timeline for changing that.

RS: Will the index on be free also, or will it behind the subscription wall?

JH:  You will not need to enter credit card information on to access the 1940 Census images or name index.

RS:  In the time between when the images are available (2 April 2012) and when the complete index is available, how will guide researchers to find their research targets?

JH:  This is a great question. Until the name index is available, our goal will be to make the 1940 Census as accessible and easy-to-browse as possible. This will in part be done by the way that we design the NARA website, with the aim to make searching and viewing images as intuitive as possible. Another aspect will be providing adequate help resources that will assist people in finding the location of their ancestor in 1940 (since “location” is required for browsing). These same ideas will be present both on and the NARA website.

RS:  Have you been consulting with Steve Morse and Joel Weintraub on this?  I'm sure you know that they have put an ED Finding Aid on the web site. 

JH:  The one-step tools are a great resource for helping users find the correct ED. We have been in contact with Steve and Joel – and certainly appreciate their expertise!

My thanks to Julie and the team for their responses.  I asked these questions before the announcement of the 1940 US Census Community Project, and Julie asked me to be patient until they could provide firm answers to my questions.

Amanuensis Monday - the Will of Thomas Graves (1686-1756) of Southborough, Mass.

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 Thomas Graves (1686-1756) of Southborough, Massachusetts. He was married in about 1710 to (1) Ruth Collins (1685- before 1715), and they had Ruth Graves (1711-????).  Thomas Graves married in 1715 to Ruth Taylor (????-1756), and they had children:  Hannah Graves (1715-????); Joseph Graves (1717-1788). 

Thomas Graves of Southborough died testate, having written a will on 16 February 1756.  The will reads (transcribed from Worcester County Probate Records, Volume 5, page 5, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,856,277 (clerk's copy);  in places, the handwriting is difficult to decipher):

"In the name of God Amen the 16 day of Feb'y in ye 27 year of His Majestys Reign Anno Domini 1756.  I Thomas Graves of Southboro'h in ye County of Worcester within his Majestys province of ye Massachusetts Bay in New England yeoman being ??? to a Considerable degree of age but of perfect mind & memory Thanks being given to God therefor calling to mind the Invitality of my body and knowing it is appointed for all men to die do make & ordain this my Last Will and Testament That is to Say former nul & first of all I give & Commend my Soul into the hands of God that gave it and my body I Commend to the Earth to be buried in a decent Christian buriall at the discretion of my Executor nothing doubting but at the Generall Resurrection I Shall Receive ye Same again by the mighty power of God and as Touching such worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me in this life I give demise & Dispose of the Same in ye following Manner & form.  In the first place I give to my Daughter Ruth Buck Six shillings & Eight pence Lawfull money and one Cow to be paid unto her at the end of one year after my decease and these with what she hath already had to be to her in full for her part of portion out of my Estate.

"Secondly I give to my Daughter Hannah Wait five pounds Lawfull money and three Sheep & one bed & beding & her mothers wearing Cloths & Linin & Two Chests which to be delivered her in one year after my decease which is to be in full unto her the said Hanah for her part of Portion out of my Estate.

"Thirdly I give to my Son Joseph Graves all the Remainder of my Estate not otherwise disposed of both of lands buildings Creatures & out Door moveables, and also my will is that he the said Joseph Graves pay all my debts and all the funerall Charges of my self & wife at his own Cost & Charge.

"Fourthly & Lastly I do hereby make & ordain him my said Son Joseph Graves my Sole Executor of this my Last Will & Testament & I do hereby ??? Disallow Revoke and Disanull all & Every other former Testaments Wills Legacys requests & Exec-r by me in any ways before Named Willed & bequeathed Ratifying & umpowering this and no Other to be my last Will & Testament, In Wittness whereof I have hereunto Set my hand & Seal the day & year Above written.

"These words vizt. eight pence Interlined & one Cow were done before Signing & Sealing.
.................................................................... Thos Graves  (seal)

"Signed Sealed pronounced and declared by the said Thomas Graves as his Last Will & Testament In the presence of us the Subscribers John Newton Ezekiell Collins Ephraim Woods."

"Southboro-h Feby 24 1756 we the Subscribers being heirs to the above named Thomas Graves Dec-d do hereby Submitt unto & Consent that the abovesaid Will and Testament as Wittness our hands Isaac Buck, John Wait, Ruth Buck her mark and Hannah Waight her mark."

Joseph Wilder, Judge of Probate of Wills for Worcester County proved the will on 23 March 1756 with John Newton and Ezekiel Collins making an oath that Thomas Graves signed, sealed and declared that the abovewritten was his Last Will and Testament, and approved Joseph Graves as Executor of the estate of Thomas Graves.

My descent is through daughter Ruth Graves (1710-???) who married Isaac Buck (1706-1780) in 1729 in Reading, Massachusetts.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Best of the Genea-Blogs - 18 to 24 December 2011

Hundreds of genealogy and family history bloggers write thousands of posts every week about their research, their families, and their interests. I appreciate each one of them and their efforts.

My criteria for "Best of ..." are pretty simple - I pick posts that advance knowledge about genealogy and family history, address current genealogy issues, provide personal family history, are funny or are poignant. I don't list posts destined for the genealogy carnivals, or other meme submissions (but I do include summaries of them), or my own posts.

Here are my picks for great reads from the genealogy blogs for this past week:

No “genealogical community”? by Michael Hait on the Planting the Seeds blog.  Michael responds to James Tanner's article, and describes several long-lasting genealogy communities.

Wherein I Eat My Words... by James Tanner on the Genealogy's Star blog.  James makes cogent points while admitting that societies are genealogical communities. 

Comparing SSDI Results by Leah on Leah's Family Tree blog.  Leah reviews all of the available SSDI options.  Which service do you like best?

No Genealogy Community? That Depends On Who You Ask by Robin Foster on the Saving Stories blog.  Robin defines "community" and describes her experiences.

Is The Genealogical Community Closed or Inclusive by Angela Walton-Raji on the My Ancestor's Name  blog.  Angela shares her views on the community issue.

Do You Hear What I Hear? by the writer of the footnoteMaven blog.  Here is the Blog Caroling post with over 40 entries. 

Case Studies: Learning by Example by Kimberly Powell on the Genealogy blog.  Kimberly provides links to many useful and intriguing case studies and video presentations that are available to show "how it's done."

Are Bloggers Really the New Experts?  and Are Bloggers Really the New Experts Part 2 by Marian Pierre-Louis on the Marian's Roots and Rambles blog.  Marian addresses many of Michael Hait's issues raised last week in his Paradigm post. 

My Thoughts on Genealogy Societies & Blogs by Jennifer Holik-Urban on the Generations: Piecing the Past Together blog.  Jen expresses her opinions on Michael's blog post.

Are Bloggers Leading the Genealogy Community? by Elyse Doerflinger on Elyse's Genealogy Blog.  Elyse offers her insightful observations and opinions on this week's issue. 

Changes in Access to the SSDI and Vital Records by Philip Trauring on the Blood and Frogs blog.  Philip has a great summary of the recent SSDI changes.

Moving from Blogger to WordPress and Moving from Blogger to WordPress, Part 2 by JL on the JLog blog.  This might be a good idea.  Excellent step-by-step directions, and the pitfalls too.

Some New Data on the Genealogy Industry from Family Tree Magazine by Thomas MacEntee on the Geneabloggers blog.  I love marketing and demographic data!

The stolen identity of Ava Pilcher, or how the SSDI is being scapegoated by Kim Ostermyer on the Late Night Genealogies blog.  Kim questions whether the SSDI is the culprit in identity theft cases.  Good questions that deserve an investigation.

 Several genea-bloggers wrote weekly pick posts and news summary posts this week, including:

Fab Finds in Genealogy for the Week of December 18, 2011 by GenuinelyLAF on the 1 Ancestry 2 Little Time blog.

Monday Morning Mentions by Lynn Palermo on The Armchair Genealogist blog. 

Ruth's Recommendations by Ruth Blair on The Passionate Genealogist blog.

Monday Recap for December 19, 2011 by Amanda on the Geni Blog.

Genealogy Round Up, December 22 by Megan Smolenyak on Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak's Roots World blog.

Genealogy News Corral, Dec. 12-16 by Diane Haddad on the Genealogy Insider blog.

Follow Friday: This Week’s Favorite Finds by Jen on the Climbing My Family Tree blog.

I encourage readers to go to the blogs listed above and read their articles, and add their blogs to your Favorites, Google Reader, RSS feed or email if you like what you read. Please make a comment to them also - all bloggers appreciate feedback on what they write.

Did I miss a great genealogy blog post? Tell me! I am currently reading posts from over 1110 genealogy bloggers using Google Reader, but I still miss quite a few it seems.

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here

NOTE:  There will be no Best of the Genea-Blogs on 1 January 2012.  I'm taking the week off!

Merry Christmas to All!


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

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