Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Baby Name Wizard

Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: 
 It's Saturday Night again - 
time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (where's my Mission Impossible music...drat, lost it), is:

This SNGF is based on the Baby Name Wizard at  

1)  Go to the Baby Name Wizard site and see how popular your name was over the 20th century, and how popular a baby name it is today.  Check out your spouse, your children and your grandchildren (if you have some!) also.  

2)  What does your name mean (find out on

3)  Tell us about it, and show us your graphs, in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, in a Facbook status or a Google+ Stream post.  

Here's mine:  

1)  I did both Rand and Linda:  Here is the Rand (which includes Randall, Randy, Randi, Randolph, etc.):

I was named Randall in 1943 by my parents, right before the peak Randy-naming frenzy in the 1950s.  In the 1940s, Randall was ranked #132 and Randy #155 for boys names.  In 2011, Randall was ranked #855 for boys names.

Here is my wife's chart:

Linda was named in 1942, right at the peak of the Linda-naming frenzy.  It was #2 on the girls name list in the 1940s.  In 2011, it was ranked #592.

My daughter Lori was born in 1974; her exact name ranked #32 in the 1970s.  It peaked in the 1970s.

My daughter Tami was born in 1976.  Her exact name ranked #273 in the 1970s.  It peaked in the 1970s.

My grandson Lucas was born in 2003.  His name ranked #67 in 2004.  This name has surged since the 1970s.  It was #811 in the 1960s.

My grandson Logan was born in 2006.  His name ranked #19 in 2006.  This name has surged since the 1990s - it was #755 in the 1970s.

My granddaughter Lauren was born in 2005.  Her name ranked #21 in 2005.  This name peaked at #13 in the 1990s.

My granddaughter Audrey was born in 2008. Her name ranked #44 in 2008.  This name is having a resurgence - it was #73 in the 1920s and 30s, slipped to #255 in the 1970s, and has come back in the 2000s.

2)  The origin of Randall is:  Transferred use of the English surname derived from Randolf (shield wolf), a personal name of Germanic origin introduced by both the Scandinavians in the form Randulfr and the Normans in the form Randolph.

The origin of Linda is:  Of various derivations, Linda is formed from the Spanish linda (beautiful, pretty). It is also a short form of any of the Germanic compound names containing the element lind (tender, soft, weak). Alternatively, Linda is used as a short form of Belinda, which is a name of uncertain origin.

3)  I did!

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Surname Saturday - SMITH (England > Massachusetts)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week.  

I am in the 7th great-grandmothers, up to number 541: Elizabeth SMITH (1674-1747). [Note: The 7th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts].

My ancestral line back through three American generations of this SMITH family is:

1.  Randall J. Seaver

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

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

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

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

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

66. Nathan Gates (1767-1830)

67. Abigail Knowlton (1774-1855)

134.  Jeremiah Knowlton (1745-1783)
135.  Abigail Pierce (1750-1775)

270.  Samuel Peirce (1712-????)
271.  Abigail Stearns (1716-1798)

540.  John Peirce, born 27 May 1673 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; died before 21 May 1744 in Waltham, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  He was the son of 1080. Joseph Peirce and 1081. Martha.  He married 05 November 1702 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.

541.  Elizabeth Smith, born 15 January 1673/74 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; died 20 September 1747 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  

Children of John Peirce and Elizabeth Smith are:  John Peirce (1703-1774); Jonas Peirce (1705-1776); Ezekiel Peirce (1709-????); Samuel Peirce (1712-1772); Elizabeth Peirce (1716-1743); Daniel Peirce (1719-????); Jonathan Peirce (1724-????).

1082.  Daniel Smith, born 27 September 1642 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; died 07 June 1681 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  He married 22 February 1667/68 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.
1083.  Mary Grant, born 22 February 1647/48 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; died after 1700 in Stonington, New London, Connecticut, United States.  She was the daughter of 2166. Christopher Grant and 2167. Mary.

Children of Daniel Smith and Mary Grant are:  Daniel Smith (1669-1718); Grace Smith (1671-1714); John Smith (1672-1739); Elizabeth Smith (1674-1747); Sarah Smith (1675-????); Abigail Smith (1678-????); Joseph Smith (1680-1742)

2164.  Daniel Smith, born about 1606 in England; died 14 July 1660 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  He married about 1642 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.
2165.  Elizabeth Rogers, born before 16 November 1617 in Dedham, Essex, England;  She was the daughter of 4300. Thomas Rogers and 4301. Grace Ravens.

Child of Daniel Smith and Elizabeth Rogers is:  Daniel Smith (1642-1681).

Other than Henry Bond's Watertown families book, the only resources I have for these two Daniel smith families are the probate records for both Daniel Smiths.  Daniel Smith and Mary Grant are highlighted on several pages of Roger Thompson's book, Sex in Middlesex, for their premarital romps in the Grant leanto.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pruning my Ancestry Member Tree Hints

One of the real advantages of Ancestry Member Tree Hints (the green shaky leaves we all know and usually love) is that they can short circuit a researchers search for an original source record.

While most of the Hints I have are for Ancestry Member Trees (every one in my ancestral tree has one - because I also have my full database as a separate tree), there are times when I find a gem from the Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 collection on  These are, in general, images of the original town record books, or, in some cases, images of a transcription of a town record book.

While I have many source citations for the published Massachusetts town vital records books (which are clearly derivative sources since they indexed and sometimes transcribed the town record books), I want to capture as many of the original town record images as I can, and source them, because they are usually the original source record.

I'm doing a bit of my ancestral tree at a time in my Ancestry Member Tree.  Here is one example of how I am pruning away the Hints that I don't need or want, and saving the ones I really want:

1)  In my Ancestry Member Tree, I listed the Hints for my 8th great-grandmother, Ruth (Hill) Willis (1644-1736):

There were 8 Unreviewed Hints for her.  They included:

*  Ancestry Member Trees
*  American Marriages Before 1699 Record
*  Family Data Collection - Individual Records Record
*  American Marriages Before 1699 Record
*  Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 Record
*  Public Member Photos (page from Dorchester Vital Record)
*  Public Member Photos (page 229 from Pioneers of Massachusetts)
*  Public Member Photos (page 230 from Pioneers of Massachusetts)

I choose to ignore all of those, except for the Town and Vital Records item, because the others are Derivative sources, and I already have a published town vital record book source for most events listed in the index collections for American Marriages, the American Genealogical and Biographical Index (AGBI), the Family Data Collection - Individual Records, etc.

2)  I clicked on the "Review Hint" for the Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 Record:

This is a record that I want to save to my tree - it is the death record for Ruth (Hill) Willis in Wayland in 1736.  I saved it to my tree using the orange "Save to my tree" button.

3)  After saving it, I can look at the record by clicking on the image in my list of Accepted Hints:

There is the death entry for "Ruth Willis widdow Died September 1st 1736" - the 4th entry on the left hand page (page W (penned) or page 342 (stamped).

4)  At this point, I saved the image of the page to my hard drive, noting the database name, the specific town record book (Wayland births, marriages and deaths, image 174).  My saved file name for this image is:

RuthWillis-1736-DeathRecord-WaylandMA Births marriages deaths-page 342stamped-pageWpenned-image174 (Ancestry Mass Town and Vital Records).jpg

With that file name, I can then easily create a source citation for this image in RootsMagic:

"Massachusetts, Town Records, 1620-1988," digital images, (, "Wayland [MA] Births, marriages and deaths," Page 342 (stamped), Page W (penned), Image 174, Ruth Willis widow death entry, 1 September 1736; original data from Massachusetts town and city clerk records in Jay and Delene Holbrook, Massachusetts Vital and Town Records (Provo, Utah : Holbrook Research Institute) Microfiche collection.

The source citation for this collection (note that it is not for the exact digital image) is: Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).

My devoted readers will recall that I save the images of records to my computer hard drive rather than leave them attached to a person in my Ancestry Member Tree.  That way the image can be attached to a person and event in my software database, which is independent of any one online family tree.

5)  I now can upload the saved image to my RootsMagic file for Ruth (Hill) Willis, and Tag it to the Death Event.

I have thousands of these to eventually find, so I'm grateful for the "low hanging fruit" of these indexed records on showing up in the Ancestry Member Tree Hints.  Similar original records are on FamilySearch, but they are not indexed.

This is not as tedious as it could be (e.g., searching page by page on FamilySearch or on microfilm), and I have tried to streamline the process in order to minimize the number of clicks required to get the specific record into a source citation and an image attached to an event in my database.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Follow-Up Friday - Interesting and Helpful Reader Comments

It's Friday, so here are some interesting and helpful reader comments, along with my response if that is called for.

1)  On Dear Randy: Is Find A Grave a Reliable source? (posted 20 November 2012):

*  Rorey Cathcart said:  "Sure I consider FindAGrave a source like any other. How much weight and credibility I give any memorial on it is where the analysis comes in.  When I use the site I try to limit my takings only to what I can see on the screen of the gravemarker itself. And then I try to source the information through different means. 

"Like you Randy, FindAGrave or my own trip to the cemetery, is sometimes the *only* evidence of someone's existence. Especially in the case of deceased infants."

*  Gerry commented:  "I think we are inclined to give too much credence to things that are written on stone.

"There are often two stones for Civil War veterans, one that matches the stone for a spouse, another the familiar government issue. Thus the spectacle of Jerome S. Campbell, 1829-1901, resting between his Sarah and his veteran's stone inscribed Jorom S. Campbell, 1839-1901.  The practice of obtaining markers for previously unrecognized veterans is laudable but can lead to errors. Wesley Greenman died of his injuries in 1866, but his stone says he died Dec 13 1928. Coincidentally, that was the exact date of death of his brother, veteran William Greenman, who led a long and well-documented life, and was buried in a different cemetery entirely. 

"Based on comparisons of death certificates with gravestones, engravers regularly confuse burial dates for death dates.  Monuments erected by the loving children long after the death seem especially prone to incorrect birth years.  Some monuments are placed in a cemetery where family members are buried although the decedent is not buried there at all. 

"Some of the FindAGrave memorials are detailed and helpful. Others are undocumented and suspect.  Not that I don't use 'em all the time - but as suggestions, not as evidence."

*  Jacqi Stevens noted:  "I was going to mention that those "set in stone" engravings aren't always correct themselves--and then I read Gerry's comment, providing even more instances! In addition to errors on dates, spelling errors are also possible, as I've seen in my own family lines. It all just teaches me that using a preponderance of evidence is the wiser move. One fact alone--even engraved in stone--may not provide an accurate picture."

*  Cormac offered:  "Gerry explained it even better than I did. I have scores of memorials there that have nothing but maybe a year of birth or death. No picture of a gravestone or marker. Like Gerry said, I would use Find A Grave as a suggestion and/or starting point. If you have a date of birth or death, where is your proof? Yeah, some memorials have a picture of the marker, but paraphrasing what Gerry and Jacqi said, not everything that is carved in stone is gospel."

*  Jim (Hidden Nuggets Genealogy blog) said:  "I have found in most cases that Find-a-Grave to be very accurate (at least with my own ancestors). I love it when there is a digital image of the gravestone. I have requested and received a number of photographs to be taken. There are volunteers on the site who will try to go out and take a photograph if one does not exist."

*  bgwiehle noted:  "Most of the comments have been focusing on the Find-a-Grave memorials as if they are unchangeable. Among the great things about the site:
- memorials can be amended with more detailed dates and places, pictures, links, comments, etc. They can be transferred to someone more closely related. Comments can be added when flowers are left. You can request a photo of the grave from local volunteers.
- contacts can be made with memorial owners or with people leaving flowers. If someone is making memorials for a whole cemetery but your person is missing, contact them!
- collections of memorials can be organized using virtual cemeteries

"Yes, there are errors and there are incomplete or preliminary pages. Come back later to see if the memorial has been updated. Or better, provide the correct information to the memorial owner so everyone benefits."

*  Bart Brenner commented:  "A source is a source is a source... Dare we ignore any source in our research? I think not. Having a source, however, is not the same thing as evaluating a source, its information, and its evidence. As you point out, Randy, it is the evaluation (ala the Genealogical Proof Standard) that transforms data collection into genealogical research. As usual, thanks for a good job well done."

*  Gerald Cohail offered: "There is one more thing to keep in mind when viewing information at Find A Grave -- even if you have an image of the headstone available.  If your ancestor died before the mid-1850s and their gravestone is made from granite, with a nice pristine face, it is not likely an original. That would make the dates upon it suspect, in my mind. The headstone should reflect those common to the time period in which your ancestor was buried.   Some headstones were obviously placed or replaced with modern headstones decades after the death and burial occurred."

My comments:  I thank everyone for a civil and expanding conversation.  The discussion centers on two views - one that the Find A Grave memorials should be used as a finding aid or starting point because they might be wrong or incomplete, and the second that "a source is a source" whether it is wrong or incomplete, and the researcher needs to resolve all evidence conflicts.  

To me, a gravestone is evidence that someone MIGHT BE buried at the site.  The inscription on the gravestone provides information about the person probably buried there - name, dates, perhaps more.  So it is "evidence."  Yes, it may be wrong or incomplete.  Someone has photographed the gravestone, or has consulted the cemetery records, and has contributed the information to the Find A Grave database.  The Find-A-Grave database is no different from any other online database - it contains information about al ot of people and is searchable.  If the gravestone photo is provided, it is as good as me walking up to it in person (as long as the Find A Grave memorial is correct).  If birth, death, marriage or family information is available, and the Find A Grave memorial is the only evidence I've found to date, I will use it as a source.  I should then try to find other evidence to support the Find A Grave evidence.  If I find and obtain a birth record, I will add that information and the source citation for the Birth event.  I don't delete the Find A Grave citation.  If the two records (or others) disagree, then I need to evaluate their veracity - which is accurate?  If I obtain a birth certificate from a government entity, I consider that to be an original source (record copy) and it usually carries more more weight than a derivative source like Find A Grave when evidence is critically evaluated.  My proof argument should compare and discuss the available evidence, and may lead to a conclusion.

bgwiehle's point that the Find A Grave memorials are not "set in stone" is a great one - a researcher can request more information and obtain more evidence to be critically evaluated.

2)  On Exploring RootsMagic 6 - Post 1 (posted 20 November 2012):

*  Yvette Hoitink noted:  "I've just upgraded to RootsMagic 6 and was very disappointed that a bug that has been bugging me still has not been fixed.

"I have a whole list of Evidence Explained! quality sample citations in Word. When I add a source in RootsMagic, I use the FreeForm and then copy-paste the reference footnote from Word. But when I do that, some spaces aren't copied and words get glued together that should not be. Does anyone else have this problem, or better yet, a solution?"

My comment:  Has anyone else had this problem?  I have copied and pasted a number of citations from one format to a Free Form citation and I don't recall having the problem.  

*  Bruce Buzbee (the RootsMagician) helped:  "The website actually does include all the images for each fact. It only displays one at a time but there are arrows below the image to move back and forth (you can also tap the image itself to move to the next image for that fact).

"On the missing fact types, can you do Lists > Fact type list and edit the fact types and see if they are checked to include when publishing online? If they are, another thing to check is whether the fact has been marked as private in the person's edit screen."

My comment:  Yes, it does.  I knew that it should do this...I probably should have read the Help file!  I will show some of the process noted above in later posts.  

*  Anonymous asked:  "Why are the names not searchable by the search engines? It seems like the main reason for putting your tree on the web is so that unknown cousins can find you. Is that something that will be added in the future?"

My comment:  Bruce covered this in the first Webinar, near the end of the discussion.  My recollection is that since these are not static web pages, they cannot be crawled by the search engines and indexed.  This is similar to Ancestry Member Trees in that they can be searched from within Ancestry, but not by a search engine.  It would be nice if the capability were added in the future as a user option. 

 I can link to my RootsMagic family tree website in my blog and on my other static web pages.  In my blog posts or in an email message, I could link to persons in this tree (e.g., Isaac Seaver (1823-1901)). The real benefit, in my view, of the site is the capability to see the tree persons and the supporting source citations and images, without being behind the Ancestry subscription wall.  

4)  On Mocavo Announces Free Scanning Service (posted 14 November 2012):

*  Laura Cosgrove Lorenzano noted:  "May I address another concern? I looked at both Mocavo and ReadyMicro's websites (I'm a Mocavo subscriber) and I am NOT convinced that it would be advisable to send your one-of-a-kind family material to them to be digitized. While it seems like this project would be fabulous for the reams and reams of contemporary paper we copy our research to, or duplicate photos we have, as an Archivist I would advise against sending anything else. Why? As someone who handles material of historical value every day, and a Consulting Archivist who worked on a large digitization project for a client, I know the disaster that can be caused by providing the material to a vendor who's specialty is high speed scanning not the scanning of historical material. And, while they make an off-handed comment about 'delicate material' on the website, would you want to risk an irreplaceable item in the hands of someone trained to do nothing more than use a piece of equipment? 

"Unfortunately, I've seen it happen with a client. I would hate to see it happen to anyone else."

My response:  Excellent point, Laura.  

5)  Ever since I've highlighted the Spam received each week, I haven't received any!

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Mayflower Connections - Soule, White, Warren, Cooke, Brewster, Hopkins and Fuller

I posted last year about my own connections to passengers on the Mayflower that landed at Plymouth in New England in December 1620.

Here are my blog posts for each core Mayflower ancestor (with the names of my Pilgrim ancestors in parentheses):

*  My Mayflower Connections - 1. George Soule (George Soule)  

*  My Mayflower Connections - 2. William White (William White, Susanna (--?--) White, Peregrine White)

*  My Mayflower Connections - 3. Richard Warren (Richard Warren)

*  My Mayflower Connections - 4. Francis Cooke (Francis Cooke, John Cooke)

*  My Mayflower Connections - 5. Stephen Hopkins (Stephen Hopkins, Constance Hopkins)

*  My Mayflower Connections - 6. William Brewster (William Brewster, Mary (--?--) Brewster)

*  My Mayflower Connections - 7. Edward Fuller (Edward Fuller, Ann? (--?--), Samuel Fuller)

You can see all Mayflower lines posted so far by geneabloggers in Heather Wilkinson Rojo's blog post,My Mayflower Passenger Ancestors.

I had an email last year from someone not to be named to the effect of:  "Why are you boasting about your Mayflower ancestors?  Are you trying to show that you are a better researcher than the rest of us?  Or that these passengers were somehow special?"

My response was:

No, I'm not "boasting," just documenting the lines from my Mayflower ancestors so that it might help other researchers. It's "cousin bait."  It is also the week of the American Thanksgiving holiday, and another geneablogger started the list meme going, so I joined in.  I think most readers understand all of this, but at least one didn't!  

Am I a "better researcher?"  No - I have done no original research on the Mayflower passengers.  I have done research on my lines from the passengers.  Other researchers have done an excellent job of finding and documenting the records and family relationships of many of the passengers. 

These passengers are "special" to me, they're my ancestors who shared in an historic adventure to North America.  They are part of history, as are ALL persons, but these Mayflower folks are better known and widely researched as a result.

How might it help another researcher?  Let's say that a beginning genealogist has just found a couple by diligently researching back in time - for example, perhaps s/he found that s/he was descended from Eliza Putman and Alexander Sovereign.  Then s/he Googled the couple and found the My Mayflower Connections - 7. Edward Fuller post.  Do you think s/he would be excited?  Do you think s/he would contact me and ask for me to share whatever information I was willing to share?  Do you think that  she might have family, photographs, or letters, or records that s/he could share with me?   That's what we're all striving for with many of our research posts, Surname Saturday posts, etc., isn't it?

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

I Am So Thankful ...

--- for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

--- for my wonderful loving wife, Angel Linda, who makes every day special.

--- for my two beautiful and smart daughters, and Tami's husband, who work so hard to do so well in order to live securely and happily.

--- for my four precious grandchildren, so innocent and with so much potential, and so much fun to be with.

--- for my enthusiastic father, who provided a large New England ancestry to research, and passed on an undying love for the game of baseball.

--- for my loving mother, so patient, supportive and kind, who saved so much family history and whose ancestry provides such fascinating research challenges.

--- for my brothers, their wives and children, who are interested in the family history and remember more than I do about our growing up years.

--- for my grandparents and earlier ancestors, who worked hard, played by the rules, raised healthy families, and provided a firm foundation for their children.

--- for my aunts, uncles and cousins, who opened their homes and their hearts and shared their memories.

--- for the brave passengers on the Mayflower and other early ships who colonized New England, and instilled a republican form of government based on personal freedom and responsibility.

--- for the immigrants that populated our country, diversified our culture, worked hard to succeed, and are woven into the country's fabric.

--- for the courageous citizens who revolted to secure our freedoms, and created the institutions that are the foundations of the USA.

--- for the soldiers, sailors, marines and pilots, of every historical time, who have defended our country and kept us safe and free.

--- for the entire Constitution and Bill of Rights - especially the freedoms of speech, religion and assembly. I am awestruck that the Founders wrote such a magnificent set of documents that have stood the test of time.

--- for educational opportunities, whereby every and any person in this country can be the best that they can be, but they have to really make an effort.

--- for the free market and free enterprise economic system that encourages and rewards work and innovation, and has allowed me and my family to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

--- for the marvels of science and engineering, that drive our health, transportation, communication and entertainment industries.

--- for the wonders of nature that beautify our world, inspire us and occasionally overwhelm us.

--- for my genealogy society colleagues, genea-bloggers and blog readers who challenge, educate, encourage and appreciate me.

--- for,,, GenealogyBank,, MyHeritage, FindMyPast and other genealogy companies that provide online databases to explore into the wee hours of the night.

--- for genealogy software that organizes our family structures and provides incredible reports and charts to share with our families

--- for repositories that collect, preserve and provide papers, photographs, books, manuscripts and artifacts to expand our research.

--- for genealogy conferences, societies, magazines, books and newsletters that inform and educate us.

This year, I am really thankful for good health and the joys of being with good friends on Thanksgiving.

What are you thankful for on this 150th Thanksgiving holiday?

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Exploring RootsMagic 6 - Post 3: My RootsMagic Family Tree Website

In Exploring RootsMagic 6 - Post 2: Online Publishing this morning, I demonstrated how to create a family tree website on the website.  My site is at

I want to share what the site looks like, and show you how to navigate it and investigate the various options available.  Creating the site took me only about 15 minutes from start to finish after I had registered my RootsMagic site.  There are 6,900 persons in my tree on the RootsMagic website.

1)  Here is the home page of my RootsMagic website:

The picture is of my parents wedding in 1942.  There are links on the left of the picture for "Home" (this page), "Name Index," "Pedigree" and "Contact."  The "Contact" link has my street address and email address.

2)  I clicked on the "Name Index" link, and saw:

The A surnames in my tree are displayed, and a user can click on any of the other letters of the alphabet.  If I click on a surname, I receive a list of given names with links to the person (the person icon, the family icon, the pedigree icon).  I clicked on the "Able" surname in the screen below:

3)  I clicked on the "Pedigree" link on the Home Page (or any page) and saw the Pedigree Chart for myself:

The chart above is a four-generation pedigree chart showing only names, birth and death dates.  As you can see, I've color-coded my grandparents and those colors persist throughout the tree.

As you can see, the boxes are a fixed width, and the font is (I think) a fixed size, so the full names and full dates are truncated for some entries.  That is a minor problem, in my view, but it would be nice if RootsMagic had a font size option to select.

From this chart, I can navigate forward (later generations) or backward (earlier generations) by clicking on the left or right arrows shown for the first or last persons on the chart.

If I want to seem ore information about a person, I can click on the three icons next to each persons name - a Person icon, a Family icon, and a Pedigree icon.

4)  I clicked on the Person icon for my grandfather, Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942).  His "Individual Details" page opened (two screens shown):

His parents family is also shown on the page above.

The page above provides the person's name, the birth and death dates, the attached media, the Events for the person, the person's families (as a parent, and as a child, with names, birth and death dates).  Each person in the families list has the three icons to navigate to their information.

One thing I noticed in the Events list is that it does not have ALL of the events I listed in my RootsMagic database.  I have many more Events - most for Census, Occupation and Residence.  I don't know why they are not all listed in the Events list.  Perhaps I missed a check mark in a box when I created the website.  I'm sure that someone at RootsMagic can tell me, and I will revise my website when I have more information.

5)  For each Event listed, there is an Event name, an Event Date, an Event Location, an Envelope icons for Sources, and a Camera icon for images.

I clicked on the Marriage Event Camera icon and saw the marriage certificate:

The image has a caption (provided in my RootsMagic database) at the bottom.  The image goes away if I click the small X in the lower corner of the white background, or in the black space outside the image.

What I have found is that there is only one image for each Fact, even if more than one image was linked in the RootsMagic database.

6)  When I clicked on the Envelope icon for the Marriage, a list of sources opened in a popup window:

The source citations above include both the master source and citation details that I've input into the RootsMagic database for the Event.

8)  Navigating within the tree is limited to the Name Index, the Pedigree chart (and left or right arrows for later or earlier generations, clicking on the Person or Family icons in an Individual or Family Page, or using the small Search Box in the upper right-hand corner of the "Name Index" screen.

9)  On the What's New in RootsMagic 6 webinar last night, Bruce noted that the persons in this set of My RootsMagic websites will NOT be searchable by search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.

I really like the ease of creation of the website - it's so idiot-proof that even I can do it.  I really like the tree content, the visual product, and the ease of navigation within the tree.  Plus, it's FREE as part of buying a superb genealogy software program.

What do you think?  Have you checked out my site at yet?  What do you like about it?  What do you not like?

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Exploring RootsMagic 6 - Post 2: Online Publishing

Bruce Buzbee and Michael Booth presented a "What's New in RootsMagic 6" webinar last night that highlighted most of the new features of RootsMagic 6.  I encourage you to watch it.  I listed the new features in Exploring RootsMagic 6 - Post 1 yesterday, and looked closely at the Enhanced Timeline View.

The newest and most interesting feature of RootsMagic 6 is the "Online Publishing" feature.  The RootsMagic site says this about it:

Publish Online -- Publish your family information to; Dynamic sites with pedigree, family and individual views for each person; Can include notes, sources, and media for each person

I succeeded in creating a website for my genealogy and family history using RootsMagic 6, and published it on the site.  You can go look at it.

Here is the process I used in RootsMagic 6:

1)  In any View, click on the "Internet" menu item and select "Publish online:"

2)  The "Publish Online" window opens, and you have to be registered for a website - if you need to register, then click on the "Manage My account link and register.  When you have an account, then click on the "Publish my information online" link:

3)  The first step is to design the home page for your site.  Put in Title for the home page, an Introduction (if you want), add a picture for your site if you wish, and added my contact information.  Here is the Home Page I came up with:

4)  I clicked on the "Next" button and the next screen wanted me to select the information that I wanted to include.  I selected no Notes, but Sources and Photos, and did not hide living people.  I added Genea-Musings as a link on my home page:

5)  When I clicked the "Generate site" button, I had to select the people to include.  I selected myself, marked it, clicked on "Mark group" and selected "Ancestors of highlighted person," all of my ancestral families (but not collateral lines) for 13 generations (not shown):

6)  I am now ready to publish my research to the website.  The screen below permits me to review the site in my browser, or publish the site:

6)  After clicking on the "Publish this site to" link on the screen above, I was asked to log into my RootsMagic account:

The web page elements are created (two progress bars are not shown, one for "Names," and one for Persons").

7)  Finally, I can click on the "Publish" button on the screen below...but a "Ready to Publish" screen appears with a link to the terms and conditions for using the site.  I did read them...

8)  And the website was uploaded.  

I clicked "Finished" and went back to my RootsMagic database to add more content, sources and media.

My web site files took several minutes to upload to the site.  When I look at my file folder with the files, I see that over 9,500 files were uploaded and the overall size is 23.3 mb.  The RootsMagic 6 webinar said that the limit was 50 mb.

I cannot edit or modify the web site pages - I can only replace them.  I tried to create more than one family tree using different file names and selected persons, but the second one replaced the first one.  Consequently, I replaced the second file with the file uploaded for this blog post.

I will highlight the website in the next post in this series.  You can get a sneak peak at Randy Seaver's Genealogy and Family History (13 Generations) at:  Enjoy!  Isn't it pretty?

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Post 232: Aunt Emily in 1960

 I am posting photographs from my family collections for (Not So) Wordless Wednesday (you know me, I can't go wordless!).

Here is a photograph from the Marion (Seaver) (Braithwaite) Hemphill family collection passed to me by Aunt Marion's daughter in 2000 after her passing. 

This is the Aunt Emily I remember from my childhood.  Sweet, somewhat stern, and proud of her home and family.  She was born Emily White Richmond in 1879 in Killingly, Connecticut to Thomas and Julia (White) Richmond.   Emily is the sister of my grandmother, Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver (1882-1962), who was my father's mother.  She married George Russell Taylor in 1901 in Leominster, Massachusetts.  They moved to San Diego before 1910.  Their daughter, Dorothy Taylor, was born in 1904, and after George died in 1945, Emily lived with Dorothy and Marshall Chamberlain at 4601 Terrace Drive in San Diego.  That is the house in the background of the picture above.  Emily died in 1966 in San Diego.

Unfortunately, I cannot recall the name of the dog...this picture was taken in about 1960.

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dear Randy: Is Find A Grave a Reliable Source?

On my post Pruning the Tree - a Wrong Buck Family yesterday, reader Cormac commented:

"... you actually use Find A Grave as a source? Maybe as a starting point or a clue, but NEVER as a source. I don't consider it to be very reliable."

I do use the Find A Grave website ( as a source, and create Burial Facts for persons in my database that I find on the site.  If the memorial page for a person provides a birth date and/or a death date, I add those IF they are on the gravestone or in an epitaph.  Some Find A Grave memorials provide links to potential relatives - spouse(s), parents and children.  Some memorials provide a short biography from some source, and some provide an obituary.  

(memorial courtesy of Carol A. Purinton)

All of that is information from a number of sources, one of which is the gravestone itself. The gravestone may be an original source (the first written, oral or visual record of an event) or it may be a derivative source (not in the first form).  The Find A Grave memorial is certainly a derivative source document (although the image of a gravestone is a digital copy of the gravestone).  It may be correct, or not.  The information may be primary (first-hand information) or secondary (second-hand information) depending on the knowledge of the informant.  The evidence may be direct (it provides definitive information) or it may be indirect (it does not provide definitive information).  

The Genealogical Proof Standard requires researchers to consider all sources while performing a reasonably exhaustive search, weigh and analyze all of the collected evidence using the types of source, information and evidence, resolve conflicting evidence and draw sound conclusions.  As part of this evidence collecting process, a diligent researcher will also pursue other records for the information on a gravestone and a Find A Grave memorial, including birth records, marriage records, death records, cemetery file records, funeral home records, newspaper articles, family papers, family Bibles, etc.  

For many persons in my database, the Find A Grave memorial, with or without a gravestone picture, is the only record I have for a person's death date and burial location.  So I use it, and source it.  Frankly, I have found very few Find A Grave records where a given death date (from the stone or an epitaph) does not match other records (e.g., a Death Index entry or a Social Security Death Index entry).  To be sure, there are many gravestones and Find A Grave memorials that do not have exact death dates, and some are off by a year or two (compared to other records).  

What bugs me, frankly, is the Find A Grave memorials that do not document a burial site, but document only what was found in other records.  I see a lot of these for New England records, where there is a link to a parent on a Find A Grave memorial but the burial location of the parent is not known.

Yes, Find A Grave memorials can be very useful as finding aids and clues for dates and other family members.  But they do provide information material from a (usually) derivative source.

Is any specific Find A Grave memorial a "reliable source?"  The researcher has to make that judgment based on all of the evidence available.

What do you think?

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Exploring RootsMagic 6 - Post 1

I read the press release about the latest RootsMagic version 6 (see and downloaded the program last night, paid for it online, and installed the registration key (when you open up the Essentials program, a box will pop up with 3 options.  One of those options is to "Unlock Full Registered Version").

The What's New in RootsMagic 6 page ( provides a summary of the new features, including:

*  Publish Online -- Publish your family information to; Dynamic sites with pedigree, family and individual views for each person; Can include notes, sources, and media for each person

*  Enhanced Timeline View -- Shows a full timeline of the current person's events and those of their parents, siblings, spouses, and children; Shows a graphical timeline of the person's events; Edit events, names, directly from the timeline view (without having to open the edit screen)

*  CountyCheck Explorer -- Lets you look up counties and states (US, Canada, UK, Australia) to view information about them; Access the FamilySearch Wiki page for counties and states; Access an interactive state map showing historical county boundaries

*  WebTags -- Attach links to websites to any person, source, citation, place, or research log item; Instantly jump to a web page tagged to a record; Print a list of WebTags you have added to your database

*  Find Everywhere -- Find every record containing text you enter; Find people, families, events, notes, sources, places, to-do items, research logs, media items, and more; Edit any found record directly from the results screen

*  Enhanced searching and selecting -- Search for people by the number of spouses, children, parents, or siblings that they have; Select people based on genetic lines (Y-STR and Mitochondrial)

*  Enhanced WebSearch -- Create a WebTag directly from your search results; Optionally use an external browser for search results

*  Enhanced Place List -- View place detail information directly from the place list; Edit place detail notes, media, etc. directly from the place list

All of that sound pretty good to me...but did the basic functions and screens change much?  Other than adding buttons to different windows and items to the different menu lists, I don't see much difference.  The basic data entry, data editing, source citing, media attaching/tagging, report writing, chart making, etc. are essentially the same.

I was curious about the Enhanced Timeline View, so I looked at that:

There are three buttons under the View menu bar:  "Add a fact," "Delete fact" and "Options."

From this menu, I can add a fact without going to the "Edit P{erson" menu - I clicked on the "Add a fact" button:

I could choose any Fact from the list, click the "Select" button and add content - a Fact panel opens on the right-side of the screen to add the Fact content.

Facts on the list can be deleted by highlighting the selected Fact and clicking on the "Delete fact" button.

The Timeline View "Options" button opens a list from which the user can check or uncheck different presentation options:

The Enhanced Timeline View works well as far as I can see.  Unfortunately, I deleted my RootsMagic 5 program as part of the installation procedure, so I can't do a side-by-side comparison of the enhancements.

More to come - I'm still working with it.  I'm intrigued by the My RootsMagic publication option and will look at it soon.

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Copyright (c) 2012 - Randall J. Seaver