Saturday, February 3, 2007

Ruth Campbell Smith's Diaries, 1925-1927

Carol commented on my "Della's Journal" series and posted her own blog link Carol's blog is the diaries of Ruth Campbell Smith, Carol's grandmother, of Indiana, who wrote from 1925 to 1927.

Carol posts daily - she is up to 4 February 1926 now. In addition to the diary entry written by Ruth, there are comments by Ruth's daughters Marjorie and Eleanor, and by Carol herself.

All in all, it is a fascinating (I find it enthralling) window into the daily life of an everyday housewife with many children to feed, clothe, educate and otherwise nurture, plus a husband and parents to keep happy.

Now I wish that I had discovered Della's Journal before my mother died so that she could have commented on Della's writings and put it in perspective. The lesson here is to be aware of the family journals and get editorial comments from those who were contemporaneous with the writers before they pass away.

Bravo to Carol for posting this - it is priceless! You have another faithful reader.

Research Trip to the FHC Today

They say that every day doing research is a good genealogy day...

CVGS sponsored a research trip to the San Diego Family History Center today. We car pool from Chula Vista so that our elderly members don't have to drive - it's only 12 miles each way, but it's almost all freeway. Today, 3 of us car pooled, and 4 others came separately, plus two spouses came. The German Research Association had their monthly meeting at the FHC today and two of our members sat in on that.

The highlight for me was getting four more sets of South Kingstown (Rhode Island) probate records for my ancestors Elizabeth Tefft/1740, Mary Greenman/1743, Solomon Carpenter/1750 and Jonathan Oatley/1755. The FHC has some South Kingstown Probate and Town Council records on microfilm on permanent loan (plus probate records for many other RI towns), so I am working my way through them.

We can no longer make paper copies directly from the microfilm at the FHC - the machines are out of order. The new setup is pretty cool - you put the microfilm into a reader/scanner hooked up to a computer. Software on the computer scans the images of the pages you want (one at a time), and you can modify the brightness and contrast of each image. You then have a choice - you can print them off on the printer, save them on a CDROM, or save them on your flash drive. The images are fairly large TIF files - about 7 to 10 mb each, so my 512 mb flash drive can take about 50 of them. However, I only copied 16 pages today.

Later, I was helping one of my colleagues find an immigration record on, and a lady at the next computer asked me if I could help her when I was done, thinking that I was on the FHC staff.

I asked her to explain her problem - she has a Carl Klingner born in 1854 in Germany, she knows his parents names from his death record, his wife's name and marriage date, his immigration date in 1882, his family resided in St. Paul MN, but she doesn't know his birthplace. We found 1900 and 1910 census images of the "Charles" Klingner family in St. Paul, Minnesota (the wife's name and 5 children's names were correct), but they just said "Germany" for his birthplace.

We also looked for a naturalization record for him, since that will most likely have his birthplace and confirm his parents names. We found an entry for Carl Klingner in the Ramsey County MN court records index on, and noted the volume and page of the actual court record. However, when we checked the FHL Catalog for the actual court records, we couldn't match the index record (Volume I) with a record volume (they went A to H, but no I and on). We don't know if it should be a "1" or an "I". Frustrating! She needs to contact someone in St. Paul to try to figure out how to obtain the naturalization record and solve her problem.

When I got home, I copied my 16 pages of probate records onto my hard drive, then renamed them to reflect the subject and source, and printed them off one by one. I will try to transcribe or abstract them and put them in my genealogy database in the coming weeks. There are a lot more of these probate records to find, image, capture, copy and transcribe - over 100 potential ancestors - it's my main research task this year.

All in all, it was a decent genealogy day - and it was fun to help several researchers a bit and be able to do my own research. I even made a new genealogy friend.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Yep, Barack Obama is my cousin!

I just had a feeling about this...

Assuming that the data in the WorldConnect databases (e.g., David Dunham's database is here) for Senator Barack Obama is correct, his line of descent from Joseph Holloway and Rose Allen (of Sandwich MA) is:

1) Joseph Holloway (1605-1647) married 1641 Rose Allen (1609-1692)
2) Mary Holloway (1638-1703) married 1662 Nathaniel FitzRandolph (1642-1713)
3) Samuel FitzRandolph (1668-1754) married Mary Jones (????-1760)
4) Prudence FitzRandolph (1696-1766) married 1716 Shubael Smith (1693-1768)
5) Mary Smith (1716-1791) married 1730 Jonathan Dunham (1710-????)
6) Samuel Dunham (1742-1824) married 1770 Hannah Ruble (1753-????)
7) Jacob Dunham (1795-1865) married 1819 Catherine Goodnight (1794-????)
8) Jacob Mackey Dunham (1824-1907) married 1853 Maria Eliza Stroup (1837-????)
9) Jacob William Dunham (1863-1937) married 1890 Mary Ann Kearney (1869-????)
10) Ralph Waldo Emerson Dunham (1894-1970) married 1915 Ruth Lucille Armour (1900-????)
11) Stanley Armour Dunham (1918-1992) married 1940 Madelyn Lee Payne (1922-????)
12) Shirley Ann Dunham (1942-1995) married 1960 Barack Hussein Obama (1936-living)
13) Barack Hussein Obama (1961- living)

My maternal descent from Joseph Holloway and Rose Allen (of Sandwich MA) is:

1) Joseph Holloway (1605-1647) married 1641 Rose Allen (1609-1692)
2) Mary Holloway (1638-1703) married 1662 Nathaniel FitzRandolph (1642-1713)
3) Samuel FitzRandolph (1668-1754) married Mary Jones (????-1760)
4) Jacob FitzRandolph (1708-1779) married 1730? to unknown
5) Samuel Fitz Randolph (1730-????) married 1750 Martha Gach (1729-????)
6) Tabitha Randolph (1761-1841) married 1769 Stephen Cutter (1744-1823)
7) Sarah Cutter (1785-1878) married 1804 William Knapp (1775-1857)
8) Sarah G. Knapp (1818-????) married 1844 David Auble (1817-1894)
9) Charles Auble (1849-1916) married 1898 Georgianna Kemp (1768-1952)
10) Emily Kemp Auble (1899-1977) married 1918 Lyle Lawrence Carringer (1892-1976)
11) Betty Carringer (1919-2002) married 1942 Frederick w. Seaver (1911-1983)
12) Randy Seaver - ME!

Therefore, I am the 8th cousin once removed (most recent common ancestors are Samuel FitzRandolph and Mary Jones) to Barack Obama on my mother's side. My mother's line (up to her mother) is included in the ahnentafel report here.

My father's descent from Joseph Holloway and Rose Allen (of Sandwich MA) is:

1) Joseph Holloway (1605-1647) married 1641 Rose Allen (1609-1692)
2) Sarah Holloway (1642-1680) married 1664 Joseph Allen (????-1704)
3) Joseph Allen (1667-1735) married ???? Rachel ?? (1658-1731)
4) Rachel Allen (1708-????) married Ichabod Kirby (1710-1794)
5) David Kirby (1740-1832) married 1763 Martha Soule (1743-1828)
6) Sybil Kirby (1764-1848) married 1788 Humphrey White (1758-1814)
7) Jonathan White (1806-1850) married 1824 Miranda Wade (1804-1850)
8) Henry A. White (1824-1885) married 1844 Amy Frances Oatley (1826-186?)
9) Julia White (1848-1913) married 1868 Thomas Richmond (1848-1917)
10) Alma Bessie Richmond (1882-1962) married Frederick W. Seaver (1876-1942)
11) Frederick W. Seaver (1911-1983) married 1942 Betty Carringer (1919-2002)
12) Randy Seaver - Moi!

I am the 10th cousin once removed (most recent common ancestor Joseph Holloway and Rose Allen) to Barack Obama on my father's side. My father's line (up to my grandmother, Alma Bessie Richmond) is included in the ahnentafel report here. Sharp readers will note that my mother and father had Joseph Holloway and Rose Allen as common ancestors also, and were therefore 8th cousins once removed on these lines!

I'll leave it to someone smarter than me to determine the consanguinety between myself and Barack Obama.

There might be other cousin relationships with the spouses whose lines are not well defined online yet.

Of course, all of the above assumes that there are NO surprises in the woodpile, so to speak - on cousin Barack's line and on either of my lines.

I probably shouldn't invite my cousin George W. Bush to come visit when my cousin Barack Obama is here ... but it would be an interesting discussion, I'll bet!

Are you reading Global Gazette?

Another of the regular genealogy newsletters I receive is the Global Gazette, found online at The focus of this web site and newsletter is Canadian research, but it has significant content for the USA and England also.

Each issue of the newsletter has a number of feature articles. This issue has:

1) Celebrating Black History Month in Canada

2) Gordon Watts Reports (01 February 2007)

3) USA Social Security Death Index

4) Africa's Children, History of Blacks in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

There are also article archives on, including lists by topic and by authors. Many of these articles cover US records and provide interesting perspectives. Check them out - you may find an article to help you in your research.

I was happily surprised to see Xenia Stanford on the list of authors - Xenia was a colleague of mine about ten years ago on the Delphi genealogy forum, and I've lost touch with her. Maybe she'll see this if she Googles herself often.

Finding Probate Records in Massachusetts

One of the questions that pops up every once in awhile on the Massachusetts Rootsweb mailing list is "how do I find probate records?"

I posted the following on the board this morning, based on my own experiences:

Since you are in Boston, it may be easier to go to the probate court offices of each county, although there are parking issues and record access issues at some locations. I would recommend you try going to one of these sites and see if you can be successful. I have only been to Worcester for these records, and it was hectic in the main room where you order the probate packets, and difficult and expensive (50 cents a page?) to get copies made in a timely manner.

Another alternative - and by far the best one for those not in New England - is to access the probate records using microfilms on loan from the LDS Family History Library. You need to go to an LDS Family History Center to order them, however. I think you can order them at NEHGS in Boston, and perhaps other large genealogy repositories, also.

Finding the actual probate records is usually a six-step process:

1) You need to find an index of probate records for the state and county in question. The LDS Family History Library Catalog (online at can help you determine which film to order for the indexes. Order the film with the name of your target ancestor in the county that you think he resided and might have left an estate.

2) Once you get the index, you can find your target ancestor and determine the probate packet number. Be sure to check alternate spellings. Be aware that there may be no probate record for your target ancestor.

3) Go back to the FHLC and find the film number for that probate packet. Order that film.

4) Search the probate packet film for your target ancestor and write down (or copy) the entries for administration, will, inventory, etc. These will be in terms of Volume and Page number for each item.

5) Go back to the FHLC and find the films for those volumes and pages. Order those film(s).

6) Search the film(s) for the specific records, and either transcribe them, abstract them, or copy them.

For some counties (one is Middlesex in Massachusetts), the records have been filmed as whole probate packets - the original documents - and you skip steps 5 and 6 - the probate packet film has the records to transcribe, abstract or copy. For other counties (Worcester in Massachusetts is one) you have to go through the six step process above.

When you find the records by volume and page, note that these are usually transcriptions of the original documents entered into the court record by a clerk, and therefore are not the original documents - the originals are still in the probate packets at the record repository.

Some of the Massachusetts county probate packet indexes are online at and perhaps other web sites. Some of the probate packet indexes may be available to view, on film, at NEHGS and other repositories.

In San Diego, the FHC has Middlesex and several other county indexes on permanent loan, so ordering the film in step 1 can be eliminated.

The process for other states is similar - but the court names may be different and the detailed process may be different.

That seems pretty complicated, but if you are not in Massachusetts with access to the court records, it is the easiest and cheapest way to access these great records.

Needless to say, probate records are some of the very best records to find for your ancestors since they are usually primary information in original sources that is direct evidence of relationships - pretty much a gold standard on the Genealogical Proof Standard scale.

UPDATE: Over 200 of the early (pre-1700) Essex County (MA) wills have been transcribed and placed online at

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Is Barack Obama my cousin?

There was a press release put out by Family Forest (R) that claims that Ann Dunham, the mother of Barack Obama, is descended from Laurence Washington of Sulgrave in England, and that she also has New England ancestry. They claim that Ann Dunham is a distant cousin of George Washington, James Madison, Jimmy Carter, Harry Truman and Quincy Jones, presumably through the Virginia families. Family Forest (R) is selling an eBook for $9.95 that lists the descendants of Laurence Washington in an apparent attempt to cash in on Obama's fame.

I do have a fine New England ancestry, so there is a good chance that Senator Obama is my cousin as well. I just don't know the connection yet! I'm wondering about Chris Dunham - is he also a cousin to Obama? Chris has the same surname as Ann Dunham...

Genealogy magazine indexes

I subscribe to Family Tree Magazine, and I try to read Everton's Genealogical Helper at the Library and Family Chronicle magazine on loan from a friend. There are other genealogy magazines - Ancestry, Internet Genealogy and Digital Genealogist come to mind. What ones have I missed? Heritage Quest magazine and Genealogical Computing are gone. I'm considering only magazines not tied to a society like NEHGS or NYGBR.

I wish that all of them had online indexes so that a researcher could find articles easily, either in their personal collection or at a library, or with a friend.

Family Tree Magazine has indexes here.

Family Chronicle magazine has a list of How-To articles here (and available to download), and an 8 year index (1996 to 2004) here.

I can't find a comprehensive index to Everton's Genealogical Helper, but there is an article archive up to 2002 here. Access to 200 issues (1947 to 1996?) of the Helper is available here, and there is a free Search engine that provides free images of pages (until 10 February) - that's great!

The point here is that many libraries have these magazines on their shelves, and many researchers have a personal collection of them at home. But it is very difficult to find anything without a comprehensive index.

Actually, there are more index resources than I thought there were at the beginning of this rant, er, post. I want them to be complete and searchable. Any index depends on the magazine itself creating one and posting it.

UPDATED: 1 February, 4:15 PM:added more Everton information.

UPDATE 2: 1 February 2007, 9:00 PM: Drew Smith commented that PERSI indexes all of the genealogy magazines, and is available on HeritageQuestOnline through a subscribing library. Thank you, Drew, for the tip. I knew that, of course, but didn't remember it...

Best Family Genealogy web sites

Family Tree Magazine has a contest for the best family genealogy web site. The finalists are:

Family Historians

The Genealogy of the Kloosterman Family

John & Susan Howell's Family Trees

Kerry Kelley's Genealogy Web Site

Our Innes Tree and Tangled Branches

Check out the sites, then log on to
and vote for the site you think is best overall. Multiple voting is allowed. Spread the word to friends, family, coworkers, casual
acquaintances and random people you run into so they can have their say, too. Voting ends Tuesday, Feb. 13 at midnight EST.

I checked them all out, and they are all very well done. The Kloosterman site is the most striking visually - check out the photo montage at the top of the page - each small photo has a caption - that's neat.

I like the sections with photos, documents, genealogy reports, pedigree charts, etc. - the visual effects are very informative and interesting.

They are all very different, also. I am always struck by web sites like this at the creativity and ingenuity of the authors and owners. There are lots of good ideas here for people like me who want to put a family web site together and are searching for ideas on design and content.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Josephine, Red Beard and Crazy Joe - a blog post revisited

I posted on a peculiar census record here back in April. Now a comment has appeared on that post from Ann Hathaway Boll, who wrote:

"I am an amateur genealogist and historian in Wichita, KS. A friend directed me to your peculiar census record, knowing I research madames and prostitutes of early Wichita.

"The census taker was undoubtedly all too well aware of the occupations of the members of the Palmer household, and was probably bored when he wrote those occupations for the female boarders. Josephine DeMerritt was the first name on the next page of the census, and that's why she and Nellie didn't get the same treatment as the ladies on the previous page.

"I can tell you for certain that Josephine was indeed a prostitute, and Nellie almost certainly was as well. The Palmers ran a brothel. It wasn't as fancy as a parlor house, but it was better than a crib on the line. At the time of the 1870 census, the railroad in Kansas only ran as far south as Ellsworth.

"By the time of the 1871 season, the railhead had been extended to Newton, and Josephine had gone south as well. She had become the mistress of Edward T. "Red" Beard, who ran a dance hall in Newton. By 1872, the railhead had been extended to Wichita and Red and Josephine had a dance hall in Delano, the lawless township on the west side of the Arkansas River from Wichita.

"Red had a running feud with "Rowdy Joe" Lowe, who had also moved his rival dance hall south with the railhead, and right next door to Red's. It all came to a head on a day in October 1873 when Rowdy Joe shot Red Beard.

"Josephine claimed that Red had made her a co-owner of the dance hall in Delano, but when Red's wife showed up in Wichita the papers were proved to be a forgery. Josephine spent a couple of years in Leavenworth Penitentiary, was released, and ended up in Leadville, CO.

"After escaping to Fort Worth, Texas, Rowdy Joe spent some time in Leadville as well, before ending his days in Denver. Josephine was one of the few prostitutes I have researched who used her own name instead of an assumed name. "

My thanks to Ann for providing those insights. I hope she doesn't mind my promoting her research work to the top of my blog stack. It's amazing what information you can find if you have access to the records, and the patience to search them. I hope that Ann enjoys her research!

That census record was one of the funniest I've ever seen - not because they were prostitutes, but because of the unique "occupations" given in the census records.

I Googled the name "Josephine DeMerritt" to see if there was any other information online. There are only two hits for Josephine, my earlier post and an expired eBay auction for a book described as "Gunfighters-Lawmen-Army Scouts-Buffalo Hunters-Old West" which apparently has the names of Red and Josephine in it, since they are listed in the book description on the web page.

Article on Blogging and Family History

Another favorite genealogy blogger of mine is Lorelle VanFossen, who has the "Family History" blog at . She often blogs about genealogy research subjects and her own family history research.

Lorelle has posted an article about "What Do You Put Into Your Family History Blog?" - found at She has captured the what, why, when, who and how of genealogy blogging - especially the What.

There is a list of links at the bottom of her post which provides other articles about similar subjects. One of the most interesting is "Building a Genealogy Blog" at

Escondido Family History Fair is March 3

The biggest annual San Diego County genealogy conference is a Family History Fair hosted by the Escondido South Stake of the LDS church. The next Fair will be on 3 March 2007. The Fair web site is

People can register for the conference, which is free to attend, using the form here. If you wish to reserve a syllabus of the conference, or order a box lunch, you can do that also (those links aren't active right now, it seems) for a fee.

The keynote speaker for this conference will be Kory Meyerink. The faculty includes Beth McCarty, Barbara Renick, Richard Wilson, Alan Jones, Cassandra Selzer, Dee Sallenbach, Ann Montgomery and Daniel Bartosz. There are usually five or six sessions in each hour between 10 AM and 4 PM.

Many of the San Diego County genealogy and heritage societies have a booth at the Fair to display their wares. Some commercial vendors and book sellers also attend, although sales cannot occur on the LDS property.

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society has a booth at the Fair - please stop by and meet me and my colleagues.

Specific Topic Research Lists

I really appreciate lists of resources on specific topics. Sites like Joe Beine's, and are wonderful aids to genealogy researchers.

Other researchers and bloggers have made resource lists - I've been reading Valorie Zimmerman's genealogy blog for some time at . On her current page she has lists for:

1) Newspapers at

2) Ontario at

3) Timelines at

4) Creating Simple Websites at

5) Continuing Education for Genealogists at

6) Genealogy Blogs and Podcasts at

7) Maps at

8) Epidemics at

9) Ireland at

10) Old Photographs at

You get the idea - you can check Valorie's blog index at

What other blogs or web sites create similar "one-stop shopping" lists? Tell me about them.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Where did the day go?

I've spent most of the day on the computer, and just realized it was after 4:30 PM.

The morning started with boxing up the wall pictures, the knick-knack stuff, and the china hutch contents in the living room so that we can paint the living room.

After reading my email, and making one blog posting, I checked out Illya D'Addezio's web site That's interesting - he has started adding genealogy information about famous people, in a blog-type format. One link led me to, and somehow I input SEAVER in the surname box and decided to see what was in some of the databases that I haven't browsed through before.

The "Family Data Collection" was a database that I have never explored - the "database was created while gathering genealogical data for use in the study of human genetics and disease." Interesting. It had many records of SEAVER people, especially children of Seaver women, that were not in my Seaver database. It is unclear where the records really came from, and it may be that it was obtained from researchers who participated in a genetics project. From what I could see, the data was consistent with other data I've collected from many sources.

So I put the Ancestry window next to my FamilyTreeMaker database window and entered data (mainly birth, marriage and death dates and places, but some spouse names also) into my FTM database. There were 456 SEAVER entries in the database. There were also 156 SEVER entries in the database. I started that at about 12 noon and completed the SEAVER set at about 4 PM.

Have you explored the "Family Data Collection" for your folks? Although it is secondary information from derivative sources, you never know what you might find!

Genealogy Pointers Newsletter + Search

Are you receiving the weekly Genealogy Pointers email newsletter from It is published by Genealogical Publishing Company, and usually contains a major article and many discount book summaries.

You can sign up for the newsletter at

You can read past issues of the newsletter at

The current issue, dated January 30, features an article by Bill Dollarhide titled "U.S. Counties Created or Abolished, 1920-1983." It provides the followup to the book "Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 790-1920" by William Thorndale and William Dollarhide (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1987), which is an essential resource for genealogy research. The book shows county boundaries for each state in each census. The article lists the counties that have been added, changed or deleted since 1920, so it provides a valuable follow-up to the maps in the book.

I encourage you to sign up for the weekly newsletter if you are interested in articles about genealogy research, or in seeing what new books are available.

To help you choose books, Genealogical Publishing Company has a name search on their home page - it covers about half of their available books. You can see which books or CDs in their inventory have your surname or your specific forename/surname, and the pages they are on. Of course, with this information, you could try to find the books or CDs at your local library, or use Inter-Library Loan, to obtain the information in the book.

I entered SEAVER as a surname in the search box, and got 708 hits on CDs (which usually comprise the out-of-copyright history and genealogy books), many of which I haven't reviewed because I had not searched them previously, or they did not have an index. Now I have a list of books to look for, and the pages to review also. I got out a fresh "to-do list" of "Books to Review" and wrote them all down. This is a nice surprise!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Great CVGS Program today

We had a great Chula Vista Genealogical Society program at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library today. About 30 were in attendance, including four visitors. Our usual format is a 20 to 30 minute business meeting, followed by the guest speaker and questions/answers.

The guest speaker today was Gena Philibert Ortega, who talked about "Cemeteries and Their Secrets." Gena is an excellent speaker, and used her own laptop and LCD projector to show her visuals on the big auditorium screen over 60 minutes. Every page was very readable and informative. She provided a four page handout which included tables for "Places to Search for a death and/or gravestone" and "Places to Find those Records."

She had many examples of the different types of death and cemetery records, and pointed out the key parts of, and the possible flaws in, each record. Gena also showed many web sites to help find where your family might be buried, and spent some time describing some cemetery symbols and their meanings. Her handouti ncluded the URLs for the web sites.

All in all, the presentation was well-delivered, very informative and appreciated by the audience.

Gena will be giving this presentation at the St. George, Utah Genealogy and Family History Jamboree on February 9-10. If you attend, be sure to catch it.

One of the perks of being President of CVGS is taking the speaker to lunch at the nearby Marie Callender's. Gena and I had a fun time sharing research experiences and blogging challenges. I think Gena is the first genea-blogger that I've met in person.

Della's Journal - Week 5 (Jan 29 - Feb 4, 1929)

This is Installment 5 of the Journal of Della (Smith) Carringer, my great-grandmother, who resided at 2115 30th Street in San Diego in 1929. The "players" and "setting" are described here. Pictures of some of the players are here. Last week's Journal entry is here.


Tuesday, January 29th: I did not work outside. Took my bath. Mr. Rose died this A.M. Sack [of] cow manure 50 c[ents]. Ruth & Louie called. Washed kitchen curtains.

Wednesday, January 30th: Sewed some. Mrs. Setchel came home from Paradise Valley.

Thursday, January 31st: A[ustin] got pay. I went to town, got syrup of figs 47c, curtains for 2119 [30th] 45 + 50 = 95c for my bathroom 45c, five mush dishes 50c, bag for clothes 15c, cards 10c, envelopes 5c, towel 10c.

Friday, February 1st: Rained a little. Made curtains. A[ustin] has some cold.

Saturday, February 2nd: Rained in night & some this forenoon. Ed did not come over. I wrote him to come over Mon or Tue. Myrtle and Ben came in afternoon, had their new car.

Sunday, February 3rd, pleasant, warmer: Pleasant all day. Myrtle and Ben stayed until 1:30 P.M. Then Jack called said he was going to San F. tomorrow. He had to fix his place & rent it since he was here.

Monday, February 4th, cloudy & showery: I went to town. Pd $200. on 2116 Fern, got Pass $1.00, & $65 month pay. Cookies & crack[ers] .60, coffee .50, candy .50, horvunds (?) .25, chair seat .15, Errame (?) meat .15.


Ben and Myrtle Milbank lived in Long Beach, Myrtle was Della's first cousin, the daughter of Elizabeth (Vaux) Crouch, sister to Abigail (Vaux) Smith. I have no clue who Ruth, Louie or Jack are - friends or neighbors, I guess. Or what words she meant with "horvunds" and "Errame."

Leroy Thompson's obituary

After banging my brains on the Robert Leroy Thompson problem for a week or so, it finally dawned on me that there might be an obituary in a North Carolina newspaper. I had found his entry in the SSDI and it said that the last benefits were sent to Charlotte NC.

On Saturday night, I hunted for newspaper resources in Mecklenburg County, NC. I found the web site for the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (, filled out their request form for information and emailed it at 5:30 PM, hoping for an answer in the advertised 48 hours.

The response came this morning (less than 48 hours), cand they found this obituary:

The following notice appeared in the Charlotte News on Sept. 26, 1965, p. 8a:

Funeral services for LeRoy Thompson, 85, of 2304 N. Poplar St., will be held at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday in McEwen West Chapel. The Rev. Edward Bliss, pastor of St. Peter's Catholic Church, will officiate.

Burial will be in Salisbury.

Mr. Thompson died yesterday in a local hospital. Mr. Thompson was born Aug. 12, 1880, in Huntland, Tenn., son of the late William and Lydia Childress Thompson. He was a retired barber, a World War I veteran, and a member of St. Peter's Catholic Church.

Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Norma Kendrick Thompson; four daughters, Miss Dorothy Thompson and Mrs. Gewn Nelson of Charlotte; Mrs. James E. Newby of Shreveport, La., and Sister Margaret Marie of Milwaukee, Wisc.; a step-daughter, Mrs. Emma Sue Hunley of Kingsport, Tenn.; two stepsons, Earl Scott Pendleton of Chicago, Ill., and James Pendleton of Briston, R. I., and 12 grandchildren.

vb, NCR Reference Staff

What wonderful service. I highly recommend queries to this library!

The obituary told me several things that I needed to verify:

1) That this is the Robert Leroy Thompson I am searching for. All I had was the family information, which I thought was correct, but wanted to verify. The birth and death dates match and the names of the children match.

2) The names of his parents - William and Lydia Childress Thompson. All I had was the family information, and they weren't sure of his mother's first name. Of course, it may be she went by her middle name...

3) Leroy's home address, occupation and religion. The family probably knew this, but I didn't.

4) The name of Leroy's second wife, and her children's names. The family did not tell me about a second (or later?) wife, but it doesn't matter much, I think.

5) The married names of his children.

While the newspaper obituary provides secondary information from an unknown source, it is evidence that helps to partially paint the picture and tell the story of Leroy's life.

What a wonderful way to start the morning! Now I have to greet the kitchen tile man, go to the UPS Store and make flyers, then lead the CVGS meeting today at 10 AM, and take the speaker out to lunch.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Lisa Fires Up her readers

One of my favorite genealogy writers (and bloggers) is Lisa Alzo, whose blog - The Accidental Genealogist - always has fresh thoughts and research tips. Lisa writes books and magazine articles on family history and genealogy topics, especially with Eastern European connections.

One of her latest articles for Internet Genealogy magazine (February/March 2007 edition) is titled "23 Websites to Fire Up Your Family History!" Her blog post introducing the article is here, which includes a link to a PDF file of the complete article.

The 23 recommended web sites include many that we all know and love, but there are some that I had not considered using before. Check out Lisa's list.

Many of Lisa's previous articles are on her web site - go to to see the list and click the links if you find something interesting. While you're there, click on the other links and look at Lisa's web site - it's an excellent example of a web site for a professional writer and genealogist.