Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Show Us Your Visited States and Provinces Map

It's Saturday Night - 
time for more Genealogy Fun! 

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

1) What states in the USA and what provinces in Canada have you visited or lived in?  

2)  Either list, or make a map of them (at the website) and indicate the following:

*  red for states/provinces where you've not spent much time or seen very much.
*  amber for states/provinces  where you've at least slept and seen some sights.
*  blue for states/provinces  you've spent a lot of time in or seen a fair amount of.

*  green for states/provinces  you've spent a great deal of time in on multiple visits.

3)  For extra credit, you could make a map to show where your ancestors resided at any time (e.g., in 1900), or perhaps where your 16 great-great-grandparents or 32 3rd-great-grandparents married, or where your ancestors were born, all with an appropriate legend.

4)  Tell us, or show us, your "Where I've been" map, and any other map that you created having fun tonight.  Put them in your own blog post, on Facebook or Google+, and leave a comment on this blog post so that we all see them.

Here are my maps:

1)  My "Where I've been" map of the United States and Canada:

So I've been to 40 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.  I have ancestral localities in Iowa and Nebraska and definitely want to visit there someday.  

I've only lived in California, but have made more than five trips to the other green states (hmm, maybe Hawaii and New Hampshire should be green too!).

2)  I decided to show where my 16 great-great grandparents resided at the time of their marriage.  The scale I used is:

*  red for states/provinces where 1 or 2 resided at marriage.
*  amber for states/provinces where 3 or 4 resided at marriage.
*  blue for states/provinces where 5 or 6 resided at marriage.
green for states/provinces where 7 or more resided at marriage.

I have 1 state (Massachusetts) where four of my great-great-grandparents resided at marriage, and 4 states and one province where 2 resided, and another 2 that married in England.  These marriages occurred in the 1840 to 1865 time frame.

3)  I decided to show the 3rd great-grandparents too (same scale):

*  red for states/provinces where 1 or 2 resided at marriage.
*  amber for states/provinces where 3 or 4 resided at marriage.
*  blue for states/provinces where 5 or 6 resided at marriage.
green for states/provinces where 7 or more resided at marriage.

Now I have 8 that resided in Massachusetts, and 4 that resided in 4 states and one province, and 4 that resided in England.  

The England folks migrated to Connecticut in 1855, and the Ontario folks migrated from New York and New Jersey.

4)  A map of where my ancestors from my parents back through the 3rd great-grandparents (62 ancestors) were born - with a scale of:

*  red for states/provinces where 1 or 2 were born.
*  amber for states/provinces where 3 or 4 were born.
*  blue for states/provinces where 5 to 8 were born.
green for states/provinces where 9 or more were born.

On this map, out of the 62 persons from my parents back to the 3rd great-grandparents, I have 16 born in Massachusetts, 8 born in England, 7 born in New York and Pennsylvania, 6 born in Rhode Island and Connecticut, 5 in Ontario, etc.  The 1 in Quebec is my one French-Canadian ancestor who married in Ontario.

That was fun!

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Surname Saturday - LNU (England?)

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

I am in the 7th great-grandmothers and I'm up to Ancestor  #735, who is the mother of Rachel whose parentage I don't know.  So I'll go to the next number in the ancestor name list with a known ancestor, which is #737 Rebecca LNU (1662-1733) 
[Note: the earlier great-grandmothers and 7th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts].

My ancestral line back through one generation in this LNU family line is:

1.  Randall J. Seaver (1943-living)

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

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

10.  Thomas Richmond (1848-1917)
11.  Julia White (1848-1913)

22.  Henry Arnold White (1824-1885)
23.  Amy Frances Oatley (1826-1864)

46.  Jonathan Oatley (1790-1872)
47.  Amy Champlin (1798-1865)

92.  Joseph Oatley (1756-1815)
93.  Mary Hazard (1765-1857)

184.  Benedict Oatley (1732-1821)
185.  Elizabeth Ladd (1735-1814)

368.  Jonathan Oatley (1689-1755)

369.  Deliverance LNU (????-1734)

736.  Jonathan Oatley  
737.  Rebecca LNU

Child of Jonathan Oatley and Rebecca is:

i. Jonathan Oatley, born before 19 January 1689 in Holborn, London, England; died before 03 September 1755 in South Kingstown, Washington, Rhode Island, United States; married (1) Deliverance before 1726 in probably Rhode Island, United States; married (2) Mary before 1737 in probably South Kingstown, Washington, Rhode Island, United States.

As you can see, I'm awash in LNU female and have no idea what their maiden names are!

The Oatley family history book is really the only reference I have for the Rhode Island families:

Harry J. Oatley, The Oatley Family in America and Their Descendants (Providence, R.I. : Oatley Family Association, 1970).

The Oatley book notes a family tradition that the immigrant to Rhode Island came from London. 

There are several entries in the International Genealogical index on FamilySearch that are extractions from English church parish records, including:

*  There is a christening record for Jonathan "Otley," born in about 1689 in Holborn, England in St. Andrew's Church on FHL microfilm 374350 (found in the International Genealogical Index on to Jonathan and Rebecca (--?--) Otley.  Apparently, Jonathan and Rebecca (--?--) Otley had another child, Mary Otley, christened 30 October 1698 in Ross, Hereford, England.  

*  A Jonathan Otley married 22 January 1704 in Ross, Hereford, England to Alice Apperley.  A Jonathan and Alice Otley had children Sarah Otley in 1711 in Ross, and Lucy in 1715 in Ross.  

*  A Jonathan Otley (no spouse's name given) had children christened in Grassmere, Westmoreland:  John in 1720, Jonathan in 1720, Henry in 1722, and Jane in 1732.  

*  A Jonathan Otlay (no spouse's name given) had Mary Otlay christened in 1735 in Scarborough, York, England.

We know that the IGI is not complete insofar as coverage of every English church, so there may be other Jonathan Oatleys born and christened in the 1680 to 1705 time frame.

I don't know if the Jonathan Oatley christened in 1689 is the son of the Jonathan and Rebecca (--?--) Otley of Holborn, or if the other Jonathans are the same person or not.  I think it's likely that the Jonathan who came to Rhode Island and had four children starting in 1726 with Deliverance --?-- is not the Jonathan christened in 1689 in Holborn, and is probably not the one christened in 1720 in Grassmere.  

Has anyone else done research in the English ancestry of Jonathan Oatley, the immigrant to Rhode Island before 1726?

The URL for this post is:

copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Friday, November 15, 2013

NEHGS ( Has the Great Migration Project Sketches Online

If you have a significant New England ancestry like I do (hey, it's not my fault!), then you really should be a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) (  Access to their library in Boston, the quarterly New England Historical and Genealogical Register (the oldest peer-reviewed genealogical journal) and the American Ancestors Magazine (a bi-monthly magazine) are three great reasons to join the society, but there is much more.

The website is a gem for New England researchers, with new databases constantly being added.

If you have immigrant colonial ancestors who came into New England before 1635, then sketches for those ancestors are probably in the book series The Great Migration Begins, Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633 (3 volumes) and the book series The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635 (7 volumes).

Those volumes are all available to read online in The Great Migration Study Project collection.  Here's an easy way to access them:

1)  On the home page, after logging in, I click on the "Advanced Search" link located above the search field:

2) The "Advanced Search" link opens a search box on another page.  Here I can add a first name, last name, year range, record category, database, record type, country, state/county, and city/town.  Names can have wild cards.  The user doesn't have to enter information into the other fields, but then all databases will be searched.

I wanted to look for George Allen (ca1580-1648) of Sandwich in the "Great Migration Study Project" category, so I entered his name and picked the right item in the Category:

3)  The search results gave me 16 entries in the collection:

4)  I clicked on the first match, and saw the first page of the sketch in Volume I for George Allen of Sandwich:

5)  Below the page image, there are controls to print, save, rotate, magnify go full screen, and restore the image:

There is also an index for names and some information from the page, but not a transcription.

I've started reading this resource for many of my early Massachusetts colonials and sourcing the information gleaned in my genealogy database.  I also save the pages to my computer file folder for the specific family so that I can easily find it again.  I don't attach the page images to persons or facts in my database, however.

Because of my extensive New England family history (about 60% of my possible 9th great-grandfathers), the NEHGS AmericanAncestors website is invaluable to me and my research.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Follow-Up Friday - Helpful and Interesting Reader Comments From the Past Week

It's Friday, so I like to pass on helpful and interesting reader comments to Genea-Musings posts each week,  Here is this week's batch:

1)  On What Should Genealogical Societies Offer? My 11 Suggestions (posted 13 November 2013):

a)  Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith noted:  "If each local society could accomplish these 11, Randy, there would be no need for talk of them "disappearing"!!  Thanks for sharing your excellent list! ;-)"

b)  Geolover offered:  "I'd add interface with local/County/regional library, Archive or other repository. Do they have a place for patrons to pick up a brochure describing the Society with contact information? A meeting room? Would it make sense for Society members to be present at regular times to provide genealogy-research help? Is there a buried manuscript collection that Society members could volunteer to index? Could the Society provide support such as raise money for a microfilm scanner/reader?"

My comment:  Excellent suggestions.

c)  Dawn Watson commented:  "Thank you for these comments. We've just started a new regional society (Southern Appalachians Genealogical Association) and are wrestling with the question of what benefits and activities we can offer. This is especially difficult for us because our members (all three dozen of them) are scattered across the continental US. But, your suggestions provide a good starting point!"

My comment:  My comments were more along the lines of an in-person meeting society with programs and such.  What you describe would be significantly different.  I will be interested to see what your SAGA offers.

d)  homesteadgenealogy said:  "Sounds like an inspiring discussion today! I agree with Geolover's suggestions about forming some sort of relationship with a local library or archive - what a great way to raise awareness of the group, and I especially love the idea of members volunteering to index long-lost manuscript collections that could then be shared online. I could see this going even further, if a library does not already have a genealogy section on their web site and would like assistance in building a list of their available resources. A local library or archive might also be grateful for society volunteers who could assist with out-of-state look-up requests."

e)  Drew Smith noted:  "In our local society in Tampa, we either already do these things (although in many cases we could do them more often or better), or I would like for us to seriously consider doing these things. 

"The only one I think I would disagree with is the newsletter. I think that news should be released on the website and/or Facebook page as it happens, not to wait for a monthly newsletter. Newsletters made sense in pre-Internet days when you had to collect information for a month and mail it out in a batch (what you could afford in postage)."

My comment:  The newsletter editors would like that - but we have to turn them into bloggers and emailers.  But let the non-techno folks without a computer just guess at when the meetings are?  I understand the reasons for not publishing a newsletter, but "traditional" local societies will lose a significant number of members if societies go no-newsletter or email-newsletter distribution only.

f)  Jen Baldwin commented:  "First of all, Randy, thanks for continuing the conversation. The special session of #genchat we did on this topic was enthusiastic to say the least; this is very obviously an important issue for many. 

"I would add that societies need to advance with the technology. I often hear complaints of the lack of 'young members' and I think that virtual events, offering your speakers via Skype or G+ hangout or some other live platform would be a great way to start engaging us 'kids.' 

"Personally, I cannot commit to society meetings: I have work, a family, other events such as after school events, and more that must come first. If a society were to offer me a virtual benefit, I would likely join and be engaged in that manner. But my priorities are simple: feed the family, get the kids to bed - 'it's a school night!' Societies need to find a way to educate themselves and embrace the tools that are now available to them in order to grow. Just my two cents."

My comment:  That's the challenge right there for "traditional" societies - how do they accommodate the working mothers, fathers, and students who are passionate about genealogy research.  The other major challenge is "distance" members who cannot attend meetings but like the services a society provides, including a newsletter, webinars, databases, lookups, etc.

g)  Michigan Girl said:  "Randy, Thanks for talking about an important subject. I belong to several genealogy societies from one coast to the other and over in Scotland. We are very fortunate here in San Diego to have several good societies. I feel fortunate to live here as our San Diego Genealogical Society has wonderful seminars twice a year, with well known speakers. And, we have informative monthly meetings, also with good speakers. Being part of these societies has allowed me to meet and learn from some very wonderful, experienced genealogists. And, what could be better than talking to others about our hobby/passion/addiction and knowing they won't roll their eyes? LOL!"

My comment:  I agree with you - SDGS and CVGS are two of my model societies that do almost everything I listed.

h)  Kevin Ralston of Heritage Forensics opined:  "Many of these things I've considered and run through the mill on, and the primary problem behind some of these suggestions is funding. A GenSoc either doesn't have the money or isn't willing to pay for anything. 

"Nobody likes working for free and many of the websites GenSoc's have are great examples of what you get for free (most of them suck... sorry, but we all know its true). In many cases, these "labor of love" projects have a way of become full time monsters. Since nothing is for free, somebody has to bear the cost of it.

"I would stop everything I'm doing to work exclusively with GenSoc to implement many of these suggestions, but unless they are willing to make these things happen, it never will. 

"Although I do not participate in GenChat, the things you've outlined are quite literally almost verbatim a conversation I had with a couple others in mid-Oct (hmm...). I know how to do most of the things suggested, but again (and this is something I've stressed til I'm about sick of talking about it) nobody like to work for free.

"Overall, the GenSoc as a whole needs to evolve to survive. Otherwise, they will become a thing of the past struggling on a few members if that. I would like to see them change, this would impact the industry in a big way."

My comments: Very few "traditional" local genealogical societies have paid staff - nearly every local society is run by volunteers and the society has a limited budget.  Revenue for 100 paid society members typically runs $2,500 to $3,000 a year, and things get done through a dedicated volunteer team that wants to "own" the society's activities.  Monthly programs (venues and speakers cost), yearly seminars (venue and speaker cost), newsletters, all of it gets done well by those volunteers.  

i)  Julie Goucher offered:  "Randy, I took part in this Genchat and wrote about it here

"Here in the UK, we are I believe behind Societies in the US - we have not embraced online facilities as much as we should, that is because we do not typically have the logistics of geography in the same way as the US and Australia.

"I belong to the Guild of One Name Studies and the Society of One-Place Studies, both of those have embraced online issues.

"Many of the FHS here in the UK do offer monthly meetings, typically evenings and after a day of being on my feet or in meetings etc I want to get home to dinner!

"When I consider some of the UK FHS it is about modernisation, reflection and succession planning, sadly most have not looked at this, which is a great shame.

"GenChat provided a great medium for pondering on these issues and I have thought of several more since I wrote my blog post."

My comment:  Thank you for the link to your post, Julie, and the comments about the UK FHS issues.  The American societies have the same problems you mentioned - and are gradually working their way towards modernization and technology as retiring Baby Boomers retire from their work life and embrace genealogy and give their talents to local societies.

j)  Russ Worthington chimed in:  "Great list with many options to make them happen. However, I have one, minor, suggestion to add to your list. Have FUN. "

My comment:  Amen!

2)  On Creating an Honor Wall Page on (posted 11 November 2013):

a)  treetracker noted:  "Randy, a noble effort on the part of Fold3. But... I wish that the site could combine duplicate pages instead of connecting them. It looks like a separate page is made for each military source. I connected the two profiles but I'm not sure if the delete function deletes the page or the relationship. Guess I'll just leave it as is and complete one page."

My comment:  Excellent suggestion - I hope the Fold3 folks fix that issue, or provide guidelines for users who face the issue.

b)  T noted:  "My father had a prefilled profile but my two uncles and one aunt did not so I made them from scratch. You can use a photo you've uploaded in place of their silhouette. There's a button somewhere, I looked and looked for it and finally found it. I had a lot of trouble getting my entries just right. Must be old age or impatience.  Now I see it! on the silhouette it says add a profile picture."

a)  Geolover helped:  "An interesting will.  The copying clerk might not have read it this way, but on p. 137, your 'pup (?)' is probably supposed to be 'pass,' for the phrase 'pass and entry in the house.' As in 'free passage.'

"On page 137's 6th line, after 'linen, yarn' is 'hemp' before 'flax'. You probably know that hemp was widely cultivated for its fiber, particularly for weaving material for such non-refined items as sacks and ticking."

My comment:  Thanks for the corrections - good eye!  

b)  Jodi Spade Roessler noted:  "Fascinating! I, too, have York County roots, and recently did a transcription of a York County Will written in 1797, proved in 1799, just before Adams County was created. You might recognize the clerk's surname. "

My comment:  Ah, Mr. Barnitz!  He had a steady job, I think.

c)  Michael Helfrich commented:  "Thanks for the transcript. I am researching King's Mill and the adjacent properties.  Let me know if you would like to see the house your ancestor purchased from Solomon Miller in 1792. I live in the house on the north side of the Codorus, one of the "tenements" that went with the Grist Mill. This is where he and Philip Jacob King and his family lived before the "King's Mansion" was built on the property south of Codorus Creek. Michael Helfrich 717-779-7915."

My comment:  Thank you, Michael, for the comment, and the offer.  I would love to see a photograph of the house my ancestor purchased in 1792!  Would you please email me at  Or I'll call you.

a)  Geolover commented:  "Very nice description of your hunt, Randy.  A useful missing datum from the extract from the Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths database is the identity of the informant for the record, who just might be Ruby's husband. The full name of the informant could take this record out of the realm of plausible circumstantial evidence."

My comment:  I'm going to look for the death certificate when I go to the FHL in early February.  It's on my to-do list!

b)  Russ Worthington noted:  "Did you notice in the 1930 Census, for Berl Collins, and he was a Vet ??? I just sent you a link to a record that you might find helpful. Firming up your 1930 Census findings. (I think)"

My comment:  I didn't, and am thankful that you did!  Since he was born in 1891, my guess is that he served in World War I.  The record that Russ sent me was a World War II draft registration card.  Berl also has a World War I draft registration card.  

5)  There were many more comments this past week, but my hourglass has run out for this morning's blogging, so I'll stop there.  Did anybody read all of the above?  Just wondering!  

Thank you to the Genea-Musings who comment on my blog posts - you are indeed really smart and technological adept people to successfully defeat the Captcha trap.  Somehow Mr. Anonymous does it many times a day, but rarely does he get through Blogger's spam filter!

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Randy's Saturday Roadtrip - Whittier Area Genealogical Society

I will be speaking to the Whittier Area Genealogical Society on Saturday, 16 November 2013 at 1 p.m.  The society meets at 7604 Greenleaf Avenue in Whittier, California.  The day at WAGS begins at 12 noon with a sandwich lunch - the website has details.

My topic will be Discovering Jane's Roots in California, Australia and England.  The presentation summary is:

In this presentation, Randy will explore the research journey to find the ancestors of his wife's great-grandmother, Jane (Whittle) McKnew (1847-1921).

She married in Gold Country, had a family of 11 children, survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and died in San Francisco. Jane was born in Australia to parents who were born and married in England. Most of the research was done with online resources and in a collaborative environment

If you have missed hearing/seeing this presentation, please come and attend - and let me know that you're a Genea-Musings reader!

The URL for this post is:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dear TGF: How Should Our Library Digitize and Organize Collected Family Records?

There was an interesting post on the Transitional Genealogists Forum message board on Rootsweb last month.  Barbara LeClair asked:

"A librarian from a nearby community library has contacted me, asking for software suggestions for a project that they intend to undertake.   Here is her description of the project:

"Our small library through the decades has been given and has collected a hodgepodge of local genealogy articles (newspaper clippings/funeral in memoriams/etc.) in the form of marriage/birth/engagement/anniversary/etc announcements and obituaries. We are wanting to digitally organize our collections to make it accessible to our patrons. Do you have a recommendation for a software program that we could input the vital statistics of each person, link them to other relatives, and attach the PDF/JPG/etc of our information source for our patrons to view? Ultimately, we'd like to upload our many branches of community family trees online. 

"Does anyone have suggestions for a software program that would be well-suited for the kind of project that they have outlined?"

This is a remarkable request, and efforts like this would greatly benefit all genealogy researchers with ancestry in this community.

This type of resource organization would also be very useful for genealogical societies, historical societies, family associations, and other types of societies interested genealogy and family history.

There are some issues, such as privacy of living people, that would have to be addressed.

I have some suggestions on how to make this work effectively, and readers may have other suggestions.

Some thoughts:

*  Genealogy software programs, such as RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Maker, and others are ideally suited for the task of inputting vital statistics, connecting relatives, record images.  The cost is nominal ($30 to $40 for the software), and several programs are free to download and use (with some functions crippled).  However, software has a learning curve and limited presentation capabilities.

*  Presentation of the results is the challenge.  Digital presentation makes them ost sense to me - that's the way of the world these days, and it doesn't preclude publication of a hard or soft-covered book(s).

*  The major issue, in my mind, is this:  Do you want it to be freely accessible to patrons and other searchers?  If so, then it can not be done behind a genealogy provider firewall - like,, or another family tree system that has separate family trees because that's not free and usually are not searchable by search engines.

*  Likewise, it really doesn't work for a connected family tree system like FamilySearch Family Tree,, WikiTree, WeRelate, etc. because the information can be modified by other researchers.

I see two good options here for digital access and (if desired) book publication:

1)  I think that a dedicated public blog for the community genealogy collection is the best use of freely available publication resources.

*  An individual or family sketch can be written in a blog post, images can be attached, links to other persons in the sketch can be made, charts can be added, sources listed, etc. The sketches can be edited, etc.  Multiple persons can add to the blog content.  The home page of the blog could list all of the family surnames available and link to the sketches for each person.

The blog posts could be collected into a book format and published as a covered book or an ebook if the library desires.  Best of all, a public blog would be searchable and those wonderful local community resources would be available to all researchers and not just patrons of the library.

*  This option requires no software learning curve besides the FREE blog platform (most are just word processing fields with some editing features, plus linking and image uploading), which is easily learned by competent people.

*  The library would have to do the web page with the links to the different sketches on the blog.  Introductory information on the web page would describe the project, giving credit to the providers, etc.

2)  Another option would be, if using genealogy software, to write narrative descendants reports.  

*  They could include the vital records, family relationships, story transcriptions, source citations, record images, index lists, etc. Introductory information could be added to each report describing the project, giving credit to the providers, etc.

*  Each report could be made into a PDF (which would include the images) and put on a free document site like  The library genealogy web page could list the available reports by surname or family name and link to the reports.  The software data could be modified or edited, new reports created, and the new reports uploaded to replace the earlier version.

*  This option requires the software purchase and learning curve struggles, and editing of the reports.  The library genealogy web page would have to be developed, but the result is reports, that cannot be edited by a viewer, on a free server that are searchable by search engines.

So what do my readers think?  What other possibilities are there?  What are the problems for this library to do this task?

Has any library or genealogical society done this in the recent past?  Are there any real good examples available?

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Finding John's Other Grandmother, R.A. (--?--) Collins in Online Resources

I've had good success finding the ancestral families of my friend John's mother, born Agnes Jean Powell in 1922 in Oklahoma.  See Finding Ethel - Post 1: Candidate Search (posted 7 November 2013) and Finding Ethel - Post 2: Ethel Found. Who Were Her Parents? (posted 8 November 2013).

Over the two weeks I've worked on John's problem, he asked me if I could do a family tree for him.  I agreed (because I like working on research problems and he's a friend) and have been working occasionally on his tree, and have built a Family Tree Maker 2014 database with the help of my friends (including Russ Worthington who shared an Ancestry Member Tree with me he used to help work on Ethel).  

The next big problem I had was finding John's paternal grandmother's maiden name and ancestry.  His grandfather was Berl Collins (1891-1968).  John did not know the given name or maiden name of his paternal grandmother.  

1)  I found the Berl Collins family in the 1930 U.S. Census residing in Yale, Jasper County, Illinois with a wife Mamie (born about 1900 in Illinois), along with four children, including John's father (the first child on the list):

The oldest child is age 11 in the record above, which means there should be a 1920 U.S. Census record for the family.

2)  There is a 1920 U.S. census record for the Berl Collins family in Grandview, Jasper County, Illinois with a wife R.A. (age 21, born Illinois) and one child (age 1, born Illinois); the child's age matches the age of the first child in the 1930 census record and has the same given name initials (B.E. instead of Edward B.):

Hmmm.  Is R.A. (--?--) Collins in 1920 the same person as Mamie (--?--) Collins in 1930?  I didn't know, and checked to see if there was a 1940 U.s. Census entry for the family, and Mamie is the wife's name in the 1940 U.S. Census entry in Casey, Clark County, Illinois.  I've subsequently found that Mamie's maiden name is Hickox, and she died in 1974.

3)  So it is likely that R.A. and Mamie are two different people, and R.A. is likely John's paternal grandmother.  So did R.A. die or was there a divorce?  I tried to find out what R.A.'s given name was.  Where do you find given name lists for R?  I could have looked in a given name list like the one at

I didn't - I asked my CVGS colleagues yesterday to help me out - "please give me female given names beginning with R"  They quickly came up with Rachel, Rebecca, Rhonda, Rita, Ruby, Ruth, and several others.

3)  Assuming that R.A.'s birth family was enumerated in the 1910 U.S. Census, and was in Jasper county, Illinois, I searched on for persons with an initial "A", born between 1897 and 1901 in Illinois.  That resulted in 59 matches, which included some persons with a given name starting with R.  I listed those and investigated them using the Suggested Records, but could not tie R.A. definitively to one of them.

I tried a new tack - I used the Web Search feature in Family Tree Maker 2014, and, after several attempts to find records, looked for exact match records for "Collins" in Jasper County, Illinois with any event between 1920 and 1930.  Here is the list of record Categories found:

That was manageable to search, but I honed in immediately on the Find A Grave listing, and opened that and saw:

There were 6 matches, but only one of them had a first name starting with R and a middle initial of A.  Ruby A. Collins has an entry in the database, and died in 1922.  Which makes sense, since the third child in the 1930 U.S. Census listing of the Berl Collins family was age 3.

4)  Here is the summary for the Find A Grave entry for Ruby A. Collins: has kindly provided a Suggested Record for Ruby to the right of the summary - a link to the "Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1816-1947" database.

5)  Here is the record summary for the Ruby A. Collins entry in the "Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1816-1947" database:

There is no image for this record - it's only an indexed database.  But it provides a lot of very helpful information, including:

*  Name: Ruby A. Collins (Ruby A. Snearly)
*  Birth Date of 20 May 1899
*  Birth Place:  Ill.
*  Death Date:  13 Nov 1922
*  Death Place: Bement City, Jasper Co., Ill
*  Death Age:  25
*  Burial Date: 15 Nov. 1922
*  Burial Place:  Hunt City, Jasper Co., Ill.
*  Occupation:  housekeeper
*  Race:  White
*  Marital Status: M
*  Gender: Female
*  Father Name:  John Snearly
*  Father Birth Place: Jasper Co., Ill.
*  Mother Name:  Ruella C. Downey
*  Mother Birth Place:  Ill.
*  Spouse Name:  Collins
*  FHL Film Number: 1557035

I looked up the FHL Film number and it referred me to the FamilySearch record collection for Death certificates for the state of Illinois, 1916-1945, excluding Chicago with the exception of stillbirths; index, 1916-1938; internet index, 1916-1950.  That referred me to the Illinois State Death Index website, which has less information than the Ancestry indexed database.  There was a link to the "Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-`1947" database on FamilySearch, and the indexed entry there for Ruby A. Collins has the same information as the indexed database, and also provides an item number and a certificate number.

What I don't know is if the actual Illinois death certificate will have more information than is in this index.  for instance, will it have the spouse's given name?  Obviously, I could write for an Illinois death certificate for Ruby A. (Snearly) Collins, but my conclusion is that this is "good enough" for this survey phase of my family tree climbing fun.

Subsequently, I have found John Snearly's parental family, and am stuck on the parents of Adelia (it's Adelia in the 1900 to 1940 census records and the Illinois Death Certificate Index and her Find A Grave memorial, not "Ruella") C. Downey.  

As always, I learned quite a bit doing this relatively simple task of finding a person's name starting with only the given name initials of a female.  Searching takes patience and lots of trial runs, the suggested records really help, and the Family Tree Maker 2014 Web Search feature is really useful.  

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Copyright (c), Randall J. Seaver

Treasure Chest Thursday - Post 189: Obituary for Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver (1882-1962)

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

The treasure today is the obituary for my grandmother, Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver (1882-1962) who died in Leominster, Massachusetts.

The transcription of this obituary is:

"Mrs. Alma B. Seaver

"Mrs. Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver, 80, at 119 Helena street, died yesterday at Leominster Hospital after a long illness.  The widow of Frederick W. Seaver, she was born in Killingly, Conn. and lived here most of her life.  

"She was a member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church and was organist there for many years.  A retired organ and music teacher, she had been organist at the First Methodist Church in Fitchburg for 10 years and organist at All Saints Chapel in Whalom for three years.

"She leaves four daughters, Mrs. Marion Baithwaite of Maitland, Fla., Mrs. Evelyn Wood of Seekonk, Mrs. Ruth Fischer of Sterling, and Miss Geraldine Seaver of Newton; two sons, Frederick W. Seaver, Jr. of San Diego, Calif., and Edward R. Seaver of Leominster; two sisters, Mrs. Emily R. Taylor of San Diego, Calif., and Mrs. Grace R. Moody of Norwood; 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

"The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at St. Mark's Episcopal Church with Rev. Richard A. Hennigar officiating.  Burial will be in Evergreen Cemetery.

"Calling hours at the Silas F. Richardson and Son Funeral Home will be from 2 to 3:30 and 7 to 8:30 p.m. tomorrow."

I obtained this newspaper clipping from the Seaver family papers that I obtained from my mother during the 1988 to 2002 time period, and my father had received it from his brother in 1962 after their mother died.  I don't know which newspaper published it, or the date that it was published.

The source citation for this clipping, using the "Family Records, Non-bible (Privately held)" source template in RootsMagic, is:

Alma B. Seaver obituary (newspaper clipping, after 29 June 1962), photocopy privately held by Randall J. Seaver, [address for private use], Chula Vista, Calif., 1988 (grandmother). clipping from Fitchburg or Leominster, Mass. newspaper. provided to Frederick W. Seaver by Edward R. Seaver, and passed to current owner.

I learned some new things about my grandmother from this obituary.  After transcribing it, I copied and pasted it into my database in the Person notes and in the source citation for the obituary.

The URL for this record is:

copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What Should Genealogical Societies Offer? My 11 Suggestions.

There was an interesting #GenChat on Twitter on 31 October 2013, hosted by Jen Baldwin on this subject.  I won't go through the log of the chat and summarize the suggestions made - you should read it if you are interested in this topic.

What I want to do is provide my own ideas of what a "traditional" genealogical society could offer to members and visitors.  Every genealogical society is different - some are local, some regional, some national, some ethnic, etc.  They offer a range of features and services.

In my opinion, people join genealogical societies in order to be educated on a regular basis, have a regular and enjoyable social outlet with like-minded colleagues, and to contribute their talents and knowledge to colleagues and attendees.  The local society should be welcoming for potential members, and a place where members can improve and share their abilities and knowledge.

My discussion below is for a local society (town, city, county) that has a physical presence in the community (i.e., the "traditional" genealogical society that is often struggling to stay afloat).

A local genealogical society could offer (to my mind, the more the better):

1)  A regular (monthly?) meeting in a public place that features some sort of educational aspect - a speaker, a panel, a discussion.  This serves both an educational need and a social need.  There could be snacks and drinks provided, door prizes or opportunity drawings, etc.  This is an excellent way to encourage members to create and make presentations, and serve on committees.

2)  Special events to enhance social interaction among attendees - a summer picnic, a holiday party, etc., in a public place or at members homes.

3)  A yearly seminar in a public place, perhaps with a sitdown or buffet meal for a cost with a well-known and respected speaker(s).  This serves an educational purpose and helps the society find potential leaders through committee actions.

4)  Regular workshops/user groups (weekly, monthly, quarterly) intended to help attendees learn about specific resources, educational resources, genealogy software programs, genealogy websites, computer techniques, DNA, etc.

5)  Genealogy education classes for beginners, intermediates and advanced researchers on a regular basis (e.g., annually).

6)  Hands-on, one-on-one or small-group research help by mentors or experienced members in a semi-private environment.

7)  Research trips to local repositories, family history fairs or conferences, or local historical sites.  Carpools can be used for distant trips or for those who don't drive.

8)  A regularly published newsletter with news of upcoming events, highlights from past events, genealogy industry news, member research articles, local repository information, etc.  The newsletter can be paper/mailed, PDF/emailed, or a combination thereof.

9)  A website that is updated regularly providing society meeting and event information, the newsletter, society documents, event photos, etc.  It could have a "members only" section with speaker handouts, newsletters, member directory, local genealogy databases (e.g., cemetery, directory, family paper collections, anything digitized by the members), etc.

10)  Social media network pages - a society blog, a Twitter handle, a Facebook page, etc., with frequent postings to promote meetings and events.

11)  Record collection, indexing and digitizing projects that help the genealogy community and provide members a way to "give back" and "pay it forward" the help they've received over the years to the genealogy community.

There are my eleven suggestions about what a local "traditional" genealogical society could offer to their members and their local genealogy community.

Of course, a genealogical society needs enthusiastic members to volunteer for board positions, to write articles for the newsletter, to serve on committees, and to help with meetings and events, etc.  Funds are required to support speaker programs and seminars, publications, outreach programs, facility rental, equipment, etc.  So societies usually require yearly dues to keep them going.  TANSTAAFL!!  [do you know what that means?  "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch."]

In my experience, the value of a local genealogical society far exceeds the cost of being a society member.  Perhaps I'm spoiled by my local San Diego societies, but the societies that I visit occasionally in other cities and states (from small senior communities to large cities) have many of the elements that I listed above.

What other types of "features" or "opportunities" could or should a traditional local genealogical society offer?  Please tell me in comments.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver