Saturday, September 23, 2006

Two Fun Genealogy Days

Friday started off poorly for me - my monitor was on the fritz, but by using the sure-fire method of unplugging and plugging it in again, it came back to life. Then my cable connection was down most of the AM. But that permitted me to get some actual genealogy work done!

I spent the morning finishing my presentation on "Pursuing Your Elusive Female Ancestors," which I'm scheduled to give 30 September at CVGS. I'm using the Open Office Presentation program (a PowerPoint knockoff), and had to bring a number of scanned images (deeds, probates, VRs, census, etc) into the presentation to use as examples. That's pretty much finished now, and is ready to print the notes and overheads (I would use an LCD projector, but I don't have a laptop or projector yet).

On Friday afternoon, I blogged a bit and then went to work on the ancestry of our friend Cora who lives in Westford MA. She knew one set of grandparents names (Richard Picking and Olive Smith) and her mother's name (Ruth Basnett) but not Ruth's parents. I found them in the census records in Lowell MA and Westford MA from 1900 to 1920 with little difficulty in HQO.

Today, I went to the FHC and found the Smith's in the 1860 to 1880 and 1930 US census, and also the Picking and Basnett families in the UK 1881 census - all in

When I came home, I found some of the BMDs in the Mass VRs 1841 to 1910 on the NEHGS site, which gave me a few maiden names for some of the wives and the parents names in two cases. The Smith line leads into New Brunswick, but Ancestry Library Edition doesn't provide early Canada census records, so I'm stuck there.

I also captured some screen images of the new Ancestry search engine for a future presentation on census records.

Before we go to the Padres' game tonight, I'm going to input all of Cora's family data into FTM and see what I'm missing. She will be surprised by all of this.

Not a bad two days of doing fun things!

How about you - are you doing fun genealogy things? Tell me about them.

My Carnival of Genealogy Vacations

The topic for the next Carnival of Genealogy at Jasia's Creative Gene site is Genealogy Vacations.

I have posted several times about some of my own genealogy vacations, so I thought I would summarize them here for submission to the Carnival. Also, all my new readers can revisit any deathless prose they missed before.

1990: my brother and I attended the 50th wedding anniversary of our aunt and uncle in Leominster MA (my wife couldn't go - she had to teach). We renewed contacts with the living aunts and uncles, and with all of our cousins who attended. After the service and the party, the whole group visited the Seaver home in Leominster and Evergreen Cemetery. The Salem NH cousins were gracious hosts for several days for us, and we really enjoyed ourselves.

On a whim, we took off one day to Putnam CT to see if we could find some Richmond cousins there. We got a motel room, looked in the phone book, and cold called one of the Richmond's listed in the phone book. We managed to connect with the cousin who had all of the photos and papers and knew the family history - he was very surprised. He came and met us, escorted us through the cemetery, and then out to his house, near the family dairy farm. He allowed me to copy pictures and papers down at the local copy store. It was great!

1991: I took my wife back to visit the cousins and we had a wonderful time in Salem NH and Westford MA. I was able to do quite a bit of research in Leominster and Westminster MA, including finding all of the family in the cemeteries. We had planned to visit my Aunt and Uncle on Lake Cobboseccontee in Maine, but Hurricane Bob had wiped out the roads into their camp, so we settled for lunch in Brunswick ME. We took my cousin Virginia to Plimoth Plantation, and interviewed several of our Pilgrim ancestors. We did some sightseeing in Boston - I knew the answers to the Boston tour better than the guide.

I made my first visit to NEHGS in Boston, and found mounds of data. I went to Eastham MA, Providence RI and Killingly CT for more research, and tried to find the family home locations. It was another good research vacation.

1993: A vacation in England, with some research on my Seaver and richman lines is here.

1994: My wife and I returned to Bew England, and stayed with the cousins again. I planned this trip better - we visited Cape Cod, Killingly CT and Sturbridge MA for sightseeing or more research. I also visited NEHGS again and came back with more data. We looked up the Richmond cousins in Putnam CT again, and they met Linda.

1999: A vacation to Scandinavia, with a description of my Norway research and finds are here.

In 2000, we combined meeting Linda's cousins in Seattle with sightseeing, visiting friends and an Alaska cruise in 2000. I handed out my research summary from the Norway research to the cousins.

2004: We took a two week vacation to the Northeast to attend my cousin's 50th anniversary party in NJ< then traveled through NJ, NY, Ontario, PA and MD to sightsee at Cooperstown, Toronto, Niagara Falls and DC, while doing genealogy along the way. There are 4 posts:

** Post 1 about the trip is here.

** Post 2 covers my research in Newton NJ here.

** Post 3 covers my research in the Watertown NY area here.

** Post 4 described my efforts in Mercer County PA here.

In August 2006, we visited New England, and my vacation/research summary is posted here.

How about you - what genealogy research vacations have you taken? Blog about it and submit it to the Carnival of Genealogy before 1 October.

Note: I updated my 1990, 1991 and 1994 information on 9/24 at 10:50 PM PDT.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Annie Moore details

More details are now available about the life of Annie Moore, the first immigrant to Ellis Island in 1892.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak has posted a note with links to three Irish Echo Online news stories which provide a lot of information about the research and Annie's family.

Sharon Elliott at her Back-Track blog has posted a number of documents critical to the search - 1900, 1920 and 1930 census records, brother Philip's and husband Joseph Schayer's WWI draft registration card, and death records for Annie's parents. Sharon has organized the data she found at her web site here. Check out all of the links. Sharon does a wonderful job of organizing information.

The pieces of evidence I haven't seen so far, either through Megan and the newspaper articles, or on Sharon's site, are Anthony Moore's death record, the marriage record for Annie Moore, Philip Moore's naturalization record, and Annie's cemetery records.

I hope that Megan turns this into a magazine article and a conference presentation - mainly because it is such a remarkable research and human interest story that captured the interest of the genealogy community.

I am going to use the Annie Moore case as a research problem for our CVGS Research Group meeting on next Wednesday. It is classic! I will give the basic known facts, then have the group determine what records should be searched for. It should be interesting.

Genealogy Forum Chats in October

My colleague Susi Pentico sent this notice about chats at the Genealogy forum during Family History month in October:

The is planning a free month long event honoring the Family History Month in October. The website is a spin-off of the old Golden Gates Forum that was on AOL. The Hosts moved to a wider Internet-based site to reach more people.

We give: Lectures regarding how to do genealogy, events, places, where to locate data when stuck with a brick wall, quizzes to bone up on your knowledge of genealogy research, new URL's, etc.
We also do a Research Event every so often to help our guests specific needs. We are dedicated Genealogists who are hoping to help anyone who has been bitten by the genealogy bug, those who may be homebound or in need of knowledge they cannot otherwise reach.

We cover areas of the United States, Europe, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, etc. We have guests that come to the chats that are from all over the world. People from Germany, Poland, England and
other areas join in and share knowledge when they have time to help the people in the chat room.

We love what we do and we enjoy sharing our expertise with others, as others share their knowledge with us. We have a general chat area for any and all types of questions, comments or suggestions by others.

Please come join us during the month of October as we have various special guests plus our normal chat topics each week. Check the schedule on the web page at

The tentative schedule of speakers is at:

Susi is the mid-Atlantic host for chats.

I volunteered to be one of the "speakers" ("chatters?") about Genealogy Blogging and also about "Finding Elusive Female Ancestors." Check the schedule for the chats, and join in!

British Isles Y-DNA studies

There is an interesting article from The Independent newspaper in England concerning the heritage of the Celts who inhabited the British Isles. The article is at

The money quotes from the article:

A team from Oxford University has discovered that the Celts, Britain's indigenous people, are descended from a tribe of Iberian fishermen who crossed the Bay of Biscay 6,000 years ago. DNA analysis reveals they have an almost identical genetic "fingerprint" to the inhabitants of coastal regions of Spain, whose own ancestors migrated north between 4,000 and 5,000BC.

and later:
The discovery, by Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University, will herald a change in scientific understanding of Britishness.

People of Celtic ancestry were thought to have descended from tribes of central Europe. Professor Sykes, who is soon to publish the first DNA map of the British Isles, said: "About 6,000 years ago Iberians developed ocean-going boats that enabled them to push up the Channel. Before they arrived, there were some human inhabitants of Britain but only a few thousand in number. These people were later subsumed into a larger Celtic tribe... The majority of people in the British Isles are actually descended from the Spanish."

However, the most interesting part of the article for me is the summary of the different strains on British Isle ancestry:

Oisin -- Descended from Iberian fishermen who migrated to Britain between 4,000 and 5,000BC and now considered the UK's indigenous inhabitants.

Wodan -- Second most common clan arrived from Denmark during Viking invasions in the 9th century.

Sigurd -- Descended from Viking invaders who settled in the British Isles from AD 793. One of the most common clans in the Shetland Isles, and areas of north and west Scotland.

Eshu -- The wave of Oisin immigration was joined by the Eshu clan, which has roots in Africa. Eshu descendants are primarily found in coastal areas.

Re -- A second wave of arrivals which came from the Middle East. The Re were farmers who spread westwards across Europe.

Roman -- Although the Romans ruled from AD 43 until 410, they left a tiny genetic footprint. For the first 200 years occupying forces were forbidden from marrying locally.

I wish they had given some percentages for these origins.

This article is based on a new book by Dr. Dryan Sykes titled "Blood of the Isles" which will be published this week in England. The American edition apparently will not be available until November. It sounds like a future acquisition!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What caused you to start genealogy research?

I often ask our society's new members why they started doing genealogy research. The answers are often profound. Many say that an older family member died and they realized that if they didn't do it, nobody would be able to. This usually happens with an only child who has memories of grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins, often living in distant places.

So - what caused YOU to start doing genealogy research? Here's my answer:

I was always intrigued by the aunts and uncles and cousins in New England - my fathers siblings and their kids. My mother had no aunts or uncles and no first cousins. My maternal grandparents lived nearby and I knew them well. I met my paternal grandmother only once in 1959, and never met my paternal grandfather. We received Christmas cards and gifts from the Mass families all through the 1950's so I knew who they were. My grandmother, Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Walter, and my cousin Diana visited in 1959. I went to Mass in 1966 and 1968 on business and visited my Aunt Gerry, who took me to see the other aunts, uncles and cousins. What a great revelation for a young man. My Aunt Gerry, Aunt Marion and Uncle Ed came to San Diego several times in the 1970's and early 1980's. When Marion came to visit, I made audio tapes with her.

In 1982, my wife and I decided to vacation in Massachusetts - to visit my aunts, uncles and cousins and also several other friends. I sat with my Uncle Ed - my father's only brother - and made an audio tape of his life history and his family memories - again quite revealing and exciting to me. We spent a week in Maine with Aunt Gerry and Uncle Jim at their camp on the lake, and really enjoyed it.

In about 1985, I read "Roots" by Alex Haley and was fascinated by the story - and the research process. My problem was TIME - we had two small children, my engineering career was hectic, etc. I had another hobby, which had become stale and tiresome.

Finally, in 1988 I decided to chuck my other hobby and start doing genealogy. About this time, my Aunt Gerry made three hour long tapes of her life, memories and family history analysis. One of the family legends was that we were descended from Peregrine White - the first baby born to the Mayflower passengers in New England. This was the challenge I needed - the catalyst to really start research.

My mother (an only child of only children) had boxes of pictures and papers and books hiding in her file cabinets, and she gladly passed them to me. This was another catalyst for me, since it gave me a tremendous amount of data on her side back to the late 19th century.

I discovered the local FHC and other libraries, and was off and running. Because I had engineering experience with the scientific method of research, doing genealogy work was a natural for me. I read and studied and collected piles and bookcases of paper. I tried to organize it all with notebooks and research logs and pedigree charts and family group sheets. Then I got a copy of PAF and entered most of it in the database.

By 1990, I had proven to myself that the Peregrine White legend was true, and that there were three other Mayflower passengers in our ancestry. My brother and I visited Massachusetts in 1990 to sttend Uncle Ed's 50th wedding anniversary, and again saw the aunts, uncles and more cousins, some of whom invited us to stay with them and hear their stories and meet the younger generations. Linda and I went back in 1991 and 1995 for family visits and research in many towns and libraries.

In 1988, I sent out an 8 page Christmas newsletter detailing my family discoveries. I have continued this tradition ever since - it is now usually 16 or 18 pages.

Suffice it to say, it was a gradual immersion into the world of genealogy research. I was going down the path before I realized it. It became my major avocational interest. I loved the challenge. I enjoyed the camaraderie with other researchers and the extended family.

Then the Internet came alive for me, but that's another story.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I Updated my Blogroll

It's been awhile since I updated my genealogy blogroll on the right margin of this blog.

I deleted a few inactive genealogy blogs, and added a few new or newly active genealogy blogs.

Please look them over and visit them to see if there is a blog that you should read every day.

I have most of these on my Bloglines list, and can see if there are new posts with a single click.

Genealogy blogging is pretty dynamic - new blogs appear every day, and some go dormant. Sometimes, bloggers go on vacation ( least I warned you!).

Juliana's Top 5 Organizational Problems

Juliana Smith's 24/7 Family History Circle blog always has great articles. I especially like one of her latest - My Top Five Organizational Problems.

As you can read from the comments, her list described what many researchers are experiencing in organizing their research. Her top 5 problems were:

1.) Cut Back the Forest of Family Trees - use only one program to input research data

2.) Note Stages of Processing - analyze new data, enter it into the database, file it where you can find it, etc.

3.) Saving Files and E-mails - have an effective digital file system, feed it and keep it healthy.

4.) Date Everything - where and when did you find it,

5) Letting It Go - what to do with stuff you don't need.

Like most researchers, I have my own infallible filing system - I'm able to find bits of information within several hours of wondering where it is. I'm constantly tinkering with my digital files. My paper files are in notebooks by surname and locality group, except for the 10 inch stack of unfiled papers. Then there is the 20 inch stack of probate records, land records and military records that are not completely entered into the databases and won't fit into my full notebooks. Correspondence? Yeah, right. Like Topsy, it all grew!

I doubt that I could work full time for a year and get all of my papers in a logical and consistent file system.

Read Juliana's article and tell me what you think.

What Ancestor Would you like to talk to?

Craig Manson on his Geneablogie blog alerted me to an article in Parade magazine last Sunday. I missed it since we were on the road.

Craig notes:
The September 17, 2006, issue of Parade Magazine asks in its lead article, "If you had a one day to spend with someone who's gone... who would it be? What would you do?"

The article by New York Times best-selling author Mitch Albom, is written from the frame of reference of having one more day to spend with a deceased, beloved family member. Everyone it seems has a loved one they'd like to see just one more time.

But what if you could choose to spend one day with someone, anyone, on your family tree? Who would that be? Why?

Craig selected an ancestor who was a free man of color in Louisiana in the 1800's for whom he has been unable to find his ancestry. Craig has a number of reasons for selecting James Bowie - compelling material - read Craig's blog for wonderful and difficult research and historical context. The most profound words I saw in Craig's post was this:
And then I would tell him about the remarkable lives of his many, many descendants.

What a wonderful and beautiful thought!

My own selection would be a bit more mundane. I think it would be Thomas J. Newton, born in Maine, who married Sophia (Buck) Brigham - he is one that I cannot connect to a Newton family, as I described earlier. I would ask him who his parents were, where he lived, what he did for a living, how he hooked up with Sophia, why they moved to Cambridge VT, and what happened after the birth of their two (at least) children.

My second choice would be Elizabeth Horton Dill, who married Alpheus Smith in Dedham MA in 1826. Her vital records are confusing and incomplete, as I've described before. I would ask her who her parents and siblings were, what was her childhood like, why she moved from Cape Cod to Dedham MA, and about her life as a widow in Medfield.

My third choice would be Hannah Smith, who married Josiah Sawtell in 1790 in Brookline NH. I would ask her who her parents, grandparents and siblings were and about her children.

So I cheated - giving three instead of one. It is hard to choose only one, since I have so many brick walls.

There are many other ancestors that I would like to meet - William Knapp, Ranslow Smith, Martin Carringer, Isaac Buck, Norman Seaver, Peregrine White, Anne Bradstreet, etc. Perhaps in the next life! I keep hoping to have dreams where one or more elusive ancestors come by and give me clues to further my ancestry research.

I look at it this way - a better genealogy researcher than I should be able to figure these things out!

What about you - which ancestor would you like to meet, and why?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Genealogy Haikus

My wife challenged me to write a genealogy haiku as a car trip exercise. I'll give you one here and challenge you, my faithful, intelligent and creative readers, to write others in Comments, or on your own blog.

A Haiku is prose with three lines with 5 syllables, then 7 syllables and then 5 syllables, respectively.

Here's mine:
And Family History
Honor Ancestors

-- Randy Seaver

Easy, eh? Try it.

Family Photos - Carnival of Genealogy #8

Jasia has posted the 8th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy at her Creative Gene blog.

There are several links to excellent articles concerning Family Photos, restoration and improvement.

The next Carnival deadline is 1 October and the topic will be "Genealogy Vacation Travel Trips." You can submit your blog posts to the Carnival Submission Page here. You can read all 8 Carnival of Genealogy posts here.

Enjoy! And thanks to Jasia for hosting the carnival and for doing the work to put it together.

FGS 2006 lectures available to download

Genealogy in the 21st century may be a lot different than it was in the 20th century. Blogs, online databases, webcasts, podcasts and now conference lectures on audio.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies 2006 conference was held in Boston from 30 August to 2 September. I missed it...but there are a lot of lectures I would love to have heard.

Many, if not all, of the conference lectures are available in audio MP3 files at You can order and download the lectures for $1.99 per lecture. The above web site lists the lectures available, including lecturer and lecture title, but they are not in numerical order.

Sharon Sergeant created a web page here that has the available files in numerical order. The lecture titles, with a short description, are also here. The important thing to write down is the lecture number (e.g., W-56, T-158, F-254, S-339).

When you get to the Lulu web site to purchase and download the lectures you want, you can use your Browser's Edit Find menu to find the link for your target lecture. You will have to open an account at the Lulu site, and give your PayPal or credit card information. You can then Add lectures to your cart one at a time, then Check Out. After this, you can download your selected lectures, one at a time.

When you hit the "Download" button for each lecture, the file will download to your temporary files and will start to play. You will get a page where you can right-click the lecture title and "Save Target As" and save the file to your hard drive. Each lecture is about 30 mb and took me 60 to 90 seconds to download on a cable modem. I made a new folder "FGS2006" in my genealogy education folder for the lectures I downloaded.

I downloaded six lectures, and plan to listen to them in the car on CDs or my new iPod. I may also use them to help with my wife's insomnia.

What is still missing is the lecture syllabus for the conference - hopefully it will be available soon.

For $1.99 per lecture, I think these are a pretty good bargain.

UPDATE 10:30 PM: Ken Aitken has some details on the economics of this type of recording service, plus other interesting remarks here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Congrats to Megan on Annie's Story

I watched and waited during both vacations to hear the details about Annie Moore's life and family. Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak presented her story on 15 September to a NYGBS meeting in New York City. Megan's summary, with links to the two New York Times articles, is here.

Unfortunately, Megan's post and the NYTimes articles do not list the name of her spouse or her children, although it does provide a list of surnames for her descendants.

Before I left on vacation in mid-August, I had scoured the 1900 census for New York City on, searching for person's named Ann* (Ann, Anne, Annie, Anna, etc.) born in Ireland between 1875 and 1879 and immigrating between 1891 and 1893. At the time, I thought that if I could find an Ann* born in January 1877 (the 1892 article said it was her 15th birthday on 1 January 1892 when she came through Ellis Island) and immigrated in 1892, that I could narrow the field down significantly.

I made a list of about 40 females who were either married or widowed living in New York, Kings and Queens counties. There were none who had a birth date of January 1877, but we all know the census records aren't always correct (which is why I specified 1875 to 1879 in my search). The first name on my list was "Annie Schayer" born May 1877, residing in Manhattan; it was the first name that came up that met my search criteria, but the birth month was not January. I did not follow up on the index listing for any of the 40.

From the list of names on Megan's blog post, I'm guessing that Annie married a Schayer. I wish I had had more time to follow up on this, but it would have been blind luck on my part to have figured it out before Brian did.

I hope Megan will write an article about the whole Moore family - we know so little about Mathew, Mary, Annie, Anthony and Philip - but they are now part of my research mantra, and I for one yearn to know more. I hope Megan will describe how Brian found the critical data, what ProGenealogists did in this effort, and how the family was found.

This is a tremendous genealogy "feel-good" story that demonstrates the combination of traditional research with internet-accessible records to solve a thorny problem in 6 weeks.

Congratulations - and thank you - to Megan for the effort, and the lessons learned by all of us.