Saturday, July 14, 2007

Seaver Surname - Origin, Meaning, Famous People, Localities

The next Carnival of Genealogy is about Surnames! The instructions were:

"Pick a surname on your tree and tell us about it. What are it's ethnic origins? Has it morphed over time as your family has used it? (or at Ellis Island ;-) What does it mean? Is it common or rare? What are the common misspellings? Any famous people or places with your surname?"

OK - here we go for SEAVER.

1. Ethnic Origins - there seem to be several opinions here - English, Germanic, Gaelic, Roman, French, Nordic.

2. Has it Morphed over Time? Probably - the spelling has changed as families branched off and clerks wrote it differently.

3. What Does it Mean? - Well, it depends on the ethnic origin!

* English: from the medieval personal name Sefare, a continuation of an unattested Old English female name, S?faru, composed of the elements s? ‘sea’ + faru ‘journey’. This name has also been established in Ireland since the early 17th century. (Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press)

* Gaelic: Saibher, rich; (An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names With an Essay on their Derivation and Import; Arthur, William, M.A.; New York, NY: Sheldon, Blake, Bleeker & CO., 1857.)

* French - Sever, local, a town in France (in Normandy). (Ibid).

* Roman - Severus - "stern" in Latin. The name Severus was borne by several early saints.

* Germanic - from "Siebmacher" meaning "sieve maker."

My Seaver heritage is most likely English or Gaelic. A rich seafarer? I wish!

4. Is it Common or Rare? - Yes, both. It was fairly common in New England in the 19th century - almost every town had a family with the name. It's relatively rare now - it was #8,167 in the 1990 census if you believe the statistics (I don't - see here).

5) What Are the Common Misspellings? - Seaver, Sever, Siever, Seiver, Siver, Sevier, Seavers, Severs, Seever, Seeber, etc.

6) Any Famous People or Places with the Surname? -- Actually, not too many.

* The most famous Seaver person is probably George Thomas Seaver, the Hall of Fame basball pitcher known as Tom Seaver, now a broadcaster. He's my cousin.

* The TV series "Growing Pains" was about a fictional Seaver family - mom, dad, 4 kids, pets, etc.

* Pepperdine University in has a "Seaver College" named after an alumnus - inventor Frank R. Seaver, who mentioned Pepperdine in his will. However, it was his widow, Blanche E. Seaver who gave large donations which enabled the school to expand into Malibu in 1971. In 1975, the Malibu campus was named the Frank R. Seaver College, and it has become the flagship undergraduate school of the University.

* The most prolific published genealogy person with the Seaver surname is probably Jesse Montgomery Seaver, who wrote a slew of rotten surname books in the 1920s, and apparently went to jail for taking people's money without delivering promised books.

That's probably much more than anyone cares to know about the Seaver surname - never fear, I can always use this musing in my Seaver Family Journal newsletter at Christmas for the relatives!

Surname Origins and Meanings

The next Carnival of Genealogy is about Surnames -their origin, famous people or places, etc. So I went looking for web sites to help me with my English SEAVER surname. Here is what I found from a simple Google search - and perhaps they will help you find what your surname means also!

* Glossary of Last Name Meanings and Origins at

* Name History and Origin Search Engine at (free)

* Origin of Surnames article by Kathi Reid at

* Last Name Meanings at

* Names Encyclopedia at

* Surnames, Family Names, Meanings of Names at

* Last Name Meaning and Family Coats of Arms at

* Behind The Name - Etymology and History of Surnames at

* Coats of Arms, Family Name Origins and Surname Meanings at

* Coats of Arms and Surname Histories at

You get the idea. There are specialist sites for surnames from each country or ethnic group if you can't find anything in the above list. For example, just Google [ surname meaning china ] if you want Chinese surname meanings.

Now on to finding out what the surname SEAVER means! Maybe I'll find a useful coat of arms too!

Genealogy Web Sites You'll Never See

One of the real gems I read in the latest Family Tree Magazine was a list of the "Top 10 Genealogy Web Sites You'll Never See." This was a sidebar in the listing of the 101 "Top of the Worldwide Web" article.

The editors claimed that it was a product of "a few too many vending machine coffees and way too much procrastinating on the more important aspects of editing a family history magazine..." My guess is that they just have very fertile minds and way too much time on their hands.

Here are my three favorites from their list of 10:


* Mindy's List: A Directory of Genealogy Sites That Don't Link to

* A Photo-Sharing Site

You get the idea - create a web site name that is funny, not likely to be created and genealogy related. Since I don't drink coffee or edit anything (obviously!), I can think of a few sites.


* -- dissident society members complain - they don't know what's good for them.

* UniversalGenWeb: Mars -- where's Art Bell when we need him?

* -- pinup pictures of genealogy authors, bloggers and researchers.

* -- 47 generations, completely filled out - back to Kermit! I'm jealous!

* - Getting family information is sometimes difficult!

* TheLastGenerationOf - not until everyone is finished!
* - I've owned this for 5 months and have not done a thing with it. At least I have a blog named The Geneaholic. Arggh.

* Lolo's Grandpa's Time-Wasting Blog -- hmmm, how did this get on the list?


* Felicia submitted a bunch of them:

** DescendentsoftheSpaceShipMayflower.Com
** - or How old is my grapefruit anyway?

* Bill West added -- if your birthmark looks like mine,we may be related!!!

* Jimmy suggested -- Want to know what your ancestors look like today? For only $5.00, we will dig 'em up and send you a high quality digital photograph. All exhumations performed with utmost dignity & decorum. Remember our guarantee - we put 'em back the way we find 'em. He promises a T-shirt soon!

* John came up with -- You too can be Related to Greatness. For $10 we will connect your family to the famous person of your choice on OneWorldTree. With the following exceptions: Elvis Presley: $15; Amelia Earhart: $20; Queen Elizabeth: $25. For special combinations, inquire for prices. Nothing is impossible: Lucille Ball can be your mother, and Desi Arnaz can be your son at the same time!

* My son-in-law James suggested - a social networking site for dead ancestors - they can exchange stories and laughs while you try to find their resting places.

* Miriam wondered about - "Honey" can be male or female, you know - even sweet. Whatever lights your inner bear (ask Winnie the Pooh)!

Thanks, everybody, for participating. Frankly, I think that there is a good possdibility that we WILL see web sites with these names.


I know that my readers can be really creative, and so I invite you to make up some web site names and put them in the Comments below and I'll promote them into this post. Or create your own blog post with the story behind your web site we will never see. Come on - let's have some fun - give it your best shot. What else is there to do on a lazy summer weekend?

Keep them coming!

UPDATED last on 7/15 10:30 PM.

Friday, July 13, 2007

California Marriage and Divorce Indexes on Ancestry

The California Marriage Index (1960-1984) and California Divorce Index (1966-1984) are now available on the commercial database service.

The 1960-1984 California Marriage Index (4.8 marriages) is the Brides Index (alphabetical on the Bride column) and contains in columns (left to right):

* Groom surname
* Groom first name
* Groom middle initial
* Bride surname
* Bride first name
* Bride middle initial
* Age of Groom
* Age of Bride
* Marriage County Number
* Marriage Month
* Marriage Day
* Marriage Year
* Registrar County Number
* Registrar Certificate Number
* State Registration Number

The online index at is helpful in that you can search for either the bride or the groom, and the Ancestry index provides the County name (that corresponds to the County Number). There is a link so that you can see the image of the actual California Index with all of the above data.

This 1960-1984 Brides Index has been online at for some time, until recently. Now it is a Premium Search item behind a subscription wall. They also had marriage records from 1949 to 1959 until recently - that too is behind a subscription wall now. The 1960-1984 Groom Index and Bride Index are also available on microfiche at many Family History Centers.

The 1966-1984 California Divorce Index (over 3.5 million divorces) is alphabetical by Groom's Name and contains columns (left to right):

* Groom Last Name
* Groom First Name
* Groom Middle Initial
* Bride First Name
* Bride Middle Initial
* Type (I don't know what this means)
* County of Dissolution Number
* Dissolution Month
* Dissolution Day
* Dissolution Year
* County Case Number
* State File Number

I have not seen this Divorce Index before.

Having these indexes online will facilitate 20th century research somewhat. Obviously, it would be wonderful to have ALL marriages and divorces online, but we'll have to wait for that, I think!

Family Tree Magazine - September 2007 issue

The September 2007 issue of Family Tree Magazine came the other day, and I have been reading the articles and the advertisements. The Table of Contents is here. Note that there are a few "web extras" available on this page - information that is not in the print magazine. One of the nice things about the web site is that they provide a PDF of the links found in the print magazine.

The articles that I particularly enjoyed included:

* Top of the World Wide Web by David A. Fryxell - 101 web resources that are the pinnacle of online genealogy. It includes 4 blogs - Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, Family Matters, The Genealogue and The Practical Archivist.

* Tools of the Trade by Allison Stacy - 21 essential resources for building your family tree. This is a list of things you need - charts, binders, storage, computer, Internet, library card, books, atlas, camera, society membership, and more.

* Record Highs (and Lows) by David A. Fryxell - he ranks the give most- and least-researchable European ancestries, with advice for pursuing research in Europe.

The advertisements always intrigue me - there are full page ads for,, RootsMagic software,, the book "You Don't Have to be Famous, How to Write Your Life Story" by Steve Zousmer (F+W Publications), Personal Historian, and

I always enjoy this magazine, and appreciate the Family Tree Magazine Forum at

SDGS Meeting on Saturday

Hey, San Diego area readers - come to the San Diego Genealogical Society meeting on Saturday, July 14th at 12 noon. The meeting is at St. Andrews Lutheran Church 8350 Lake Murray Blvd (at Jackson Drive) in San Diego.

The program is threefold:

1. "The Flags of Our Forefathers," by Carl Dustin, will display and discuss nine of our country's most historical and unusual flags dating from 1686 to 1864. How many can you recall? Come and learn some of the little known facts of history and our flags. It should be fun and most educational.

2. ICE CREAM Social - $1 a scoop, 25 cents per topping. Be sure to bring the children, grandchildren neighborhood kids, etc. as it will be fun for all (and who doesn't like ice cream?).

3) After the ice cream, we will have a special presentation by board member Mary Card. Her topic, "Timber, The Midwest Gold Rush" will discuss the history, culture, impact and legends surrounding the logging and lumber industry in Great Lakes area that really had a nation-wide influence. This will be of particular interest for anyone with Michigan or Wisconsin ancestors.

I plan to attend this meeting after visiting the Family History Center in the morning to order microfilms and to check on the availability of the partner databases on the FHC computers.

If I survive the ice cream blitz, I'll report on this meeting on Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Win a copy of "Evidence Explained ..."

The genealogy world awaits the publication of a new "Bible" -- the book Evidence Explained - Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Baltimore, GPC, 2007). The book is offered for sale for $49.95 plus shipping and handling at the BCG site here.

If you order the book, you can receive a refund of the price if you enter their contest to see how many books are sold at the FGS Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana over three days in August 2007. The person who guesses the closest to the number of books sold will be the winner.

I'm afraid that when I read this book that I'll find out that all of my source citations for about 30,000 people in my database will now be wrong -- correcting them is not something I look forward to! I'm still trying to bring them up to the standard of Mills' earlier book Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian.

NEHGS Email Newsletter

I receive a number of email newsletters from genealogy societies, commercial companies, book publishers and other organizations.

One of the best weekly email newsletters is from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The email newsletter usually has timely announcements about new databases at NEHGS, book announcements, research news and tips, an article on other repository holdings, a research problem solution, NEHGS meetings and classes, etc.

Receiving the email newsletter does not require you to be an NEHGS member. You can see an archive of the email newsletters here. Just click on the link for the year at the top of the page.

Unfortunately, the link above does not cover the archive for the year 2007 yet due to an oversight on their part. If you want to see the 2007 archives, go here.

If you want to join NEHGS, and have the benefit of the excellent NEHG Register journal and fine New England Ancestors magazine, plus the online databases, you can join here.

Please note that I am an NEHGS member, but no one asked me to write this - I just thought someone might like to receive the email newsletter!

Will of Nathaniel Horton (1730-1819) - Part 3

I posted the first part of the will of Nathaniel Horton (1730-1819) of Foster RI here, and the second part (the best part, I thought) is here.

This is the third part of the will - plus the codicil which nicely defines the burial place of his parents.


"Item. I give Devise and Bequeath to my Beloved Wife Sarah Horton the use occupation & Improvement of the Whole of my Real Estate During her Naturall Life, and also as her absolute and improvement Property and Estate one third part of any Personal Estate of Every Kind, to be set off and assigned to her Before any Division thereof to be made Between my Children as aforesaid, and I also Give to her the use and improvement of the said two thirds of my indoors household moveable goods During the turm of her Natural Life, which after her Decease I have Given to my six Daughters as aforesaid.

"Lastly I Constitute and Appoint my said Beloved Wife Sarah Horton, and my son Nathaniel Horton Jr. joint Executors of this my Last Will and Testament, thereby annulling & Revoking all former or other Wills and Testaments by me at any time heretofore mad, Ratifying & Confirming and Declaring this and No other as or for my Last Will and Testament. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my Hand & Seal this Eight Day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight hundred & fourteen and in the 38th year of the Independence of the United States of America.
.............................................................. his

............................................. Nathaniel X Horton (seal)
"Signed sealed Published and Declared
by the said Nathaniel Horton as & for his
Last Will and Testament in the presence
of us who at his Request & in his presence
& in the presence of Each other have
subscribed our Names hereto as Witnesses
James Durfey Asa Ballou Theodor Foster

"A Codicil to the Last Will and Testament of Nathaniel Horton Senr of Foster in the County of Providence & State of Rhode Island .... on this Seventh Day of August in the Year of Our Lord 1817.

"Whereas on the 8th Day of February AD 1814, I the said Nathaniel Horton did make my Said Will and Testament baring Date on that Day Which Was Witnessed by James Durfey, Asa Ballou and Theodore Foster I Do therefore hereby Ratify and Establish the same as my Last Will & Testament With the following small alterations (viz) in addition to what I have therein given to my faithful & Beloved Wife, Sarah Horton, I Do now hereby give and Bequeath to her all the silver money of Every kind Which shall Belong to me in my Possession at my Decease and shall then be in my Possession to be paid to her & to Become her own absolute Dispoasable Property Imediently from and after my Decease - and Whereas there is on the Land of Theodor Foster Esqr. a Privilege Reserved to my self and heirs, of a small Buring place two Rods square, on the East side of the Foster & Glocester app??? way so Called, Where my Deceased Father and Mother, and some of their Descendants are Bured and Whereas it hath been porposed by the said Theodore Foster to make an addition to the said Buring Place for the use of him self his heirs or assigns on the Easterly & Southerly sides of this said two Rods Square Resarved as afore said for the family of Which I am Descended, I Do therefore hereby order & Direct that my Executor shall make and Direct four Rods of Good stone Wall Equal in Goodness to that which shall be made & Erected by the said Foster his heirs or assigns for fencing in the said old Buring Place, that to be made by my Executor to be Erected on the Northerly & Easterly sides of said Buring Place and to be Done as soon as Conveniently may be after the said Theodore Foster his heirs or assigns shall have made the Wall for fencing in the said additional Buring Place the Expense of making the said four Rods of Wall to be paid by my Executor out of my Whole Estate - and I Do hereby make & Declare this Codicil Contained on this half & part of paper as above Expressed to be part and Parcel of my Last Will and Testament.

"In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the Day & year as above Written.

................................................. Nathaniel X Horton (seal)
"Signed sealed Published & Declared
by the said Nathaniel Horton Senr
as part and Parcel of his Last Will
and Testament & signed by us at his
Request & in his presence & in the
presence of Each other Who have hereunto
set our Names as Witnesses unto
- Peter Sprague Gardner Horton Theodore Foster"


I like that when Nathaniel dated this will in 1814, he added "...and in the 38th year of the Independence of the United States of America."

I wonder if the graveyard in Foster is still standing and accessible? I guess I'll try and find out the next time we go to New England.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Happier than a pig in s***

In my humble opinion - there's nothing more fun for a genealogist than to research for hours and find lots of useful data - he's happier than a pig in slop - a big grin on his face and a satisfied feeling. Sometimes I think I could do this all day and night - and I have today for about 8 hours - except for the memorial service for a friend this morning, a short nap, dinner and tending the garden tonight (since there's no baseball game). I did sneak in a blog post too.

This started a month ago when my wife was talking to one of her best friends up in Idaho - and the friend asked "could Randy research my family for me?" She told Linda her parents names and I put the sheet on my paper stack.

I found it last night buried in the stack, and thought "well, I guess I'd better see if I can find anything." Ten working hours later, I have her father's line pretty well in hand back four generations. Her mother had a fairly common name, so I need to ask her the names of her maternal grandparents names - I hope she knows!

This was all done online in, SSDI, Rootsweb WorldConnect, LDS FamilySearch, Google, and the message boards. I still need to check the mailing lists for the surnames and localities. Of course, all of the data is tentative until proven, but I have some solid leads from good sources.

I have a computer folder with images of 16 census records, several Wisconsin marriages, Washington births and deaths, and SSDI records. My stack of paper for this project is around 40 sheets right now, including a WorldConnect ahnentafel report and several FamilySearch entries. I have about half of the paper file in an FTM database.

While we all know that ALL data is not on the Internet YET, there is now enough to do this survey phase fairly quickly.

I may not post for awhile :) Back to the genealogy trough of data ...

The will of Nathaniel Horton (1730-1819) of Foster RI - Part 1

The will of Nathaniel Horton (1730-1819) of Foster, Rhode Island is instructive in that it illustrates the detail sometimes found in wills from this time period.

The first part of the will reads (transcribed from the Foster (RI) Town Council Probate Records, 1781-1887, Volumes 3-4, (1814-1826), Volume 3, pages 532-538, on FHL Microfilm 0,941,056):


"The Last Will and Testament of Nathaniel Horton of Foster in the County of Providence in the State of Rhode Island &c. I the said Nathaniel Horton, being now far advanced in Life (viz) in the Eighty third year of my age, through the goodness of God of sound Disposing mind and memory, Considering the uncertainty of Life, and the Necessity of my being Prepared for Death, do make and ordain, this Last Will and Testament in the following manner.

"I hereby recomend my soul to the ???nsive mercy of almighty God Beseeching his Generous forgiveness of all my Sins and his Blessing on my family and Children, and the Disposal which I am Now about to make, of the Estate wherewith he has Pleased to favour me, as my A?? attained with Lasting Benefits to them all.

"Item. I Order that my just Debts and Re?????? be ?????? ??????? to be paid by my Executor hereinafter named in form as Conveniantly may be Done ????? after my Decease.

"Item I Give and Bequeath unto my Beloved sons Abel Horton and John Horton ??? ?? ????? ????? ?????? forever to be Equally Divided Between Them all my Land and real Estate, Consisting of the one undivided half of Part of the farm with the Buildings thereon whereon I now dwell in the said Town of Foster, to Come unto them on the Death of their Mother as hereinafter Mentioned, Provided and on Condition, that they shall pay to their six sisters Ruth Rachel Sarah Phebe Olive & Freelove or their heirs or assigns, Respectively, the seven Lagacies hereafter Given to them Respectively being the sum of twenty Dollars to Each, making in the whole one hundred and twenty Dollars, one half thereof to be paid by my son Abel and the other half by my son John & to be paid as herein after mentioned within one year Next after the Decease of myself & their Mother. Having heretofore give by Deed to my son Nathaniel Horton the Twenty acres of Land adjoining Land of Peleg Williams - as described in my Deed to him lying in said foster, and having also given to my son Chase Horton the other half of the farm aforesaid. Not thereby ???ised as described in my Deed to my son Chase Horton, all which Deed are Recorded in the Town Clerk offices of said Foster and Considering what I have given them by Deed and What I have otherwise done for them, as their shares Respectively of my Estate in Land is the Reason Why I Do Not Now Give them any more of my Real Estate Hoping that they will feel satisfied With the Conduct of their Effectinnate Father herein Who is Desirous of Doing as Well as he can by all his Beloved Children, having Due Regard to times and things best.

"Item. After setting and assigning to my Beloved Wife Sarah Horton as hereafter mentioned on this out of my Personal Estate. I Give and Bequeath to my beloved Grand son Asa Comstock Horton and to his heirs Executors administrators or assigns ??? said Asa is son of my son Chase Horton, the one quarter part of the Remainder in Value of all my Livestock, and one quarter part in value according to the Inventory which shall be made of all my outdoor Moveables of Every Kind to be to him When he shall have arrived to the age of twenty one years, to be paid to him in money, to the amount of one quarter part of the Inventory as apprised, or as the same may be sold, at vendue at the Election of my Executor.

"Item. I give and Bequeath to my Beloved sons Abel Horton John Horton & Nathaniel Horton Jr. and to their heirs Executors admors & assigns Respectively the other three quarter parts of all my Live Stock & out Doors Moveables of Every Kind to be Equally Devided Between them and also all my money & s???tys for money and all other my Personal Estate Excepting what I have Given to my grandson Asa C. Horton and Excepting What I shall otherwise Dispose of by this my Will. I Give & bequeath to my said three sons, Abel Horton, John Horton and Nathaniel Horton Jr. to be Equally Devided Between them it being my meaning & Intention and Intention that there shall be No Division of my said Personal Estate among my said Children as aforesaid untill one third part thereof shall have been assigned & set of to my said Wife Sarah Horton, as herein after mentioned, and that then the Remainder shall be divided between them my said sons, and my said Grandson as mentioned in this and the preceding Paragraph."


I absolutely enjoy reading the testimonies given in the first parts of almost every will - they are eloquent and heartfelt. While they may be similar in format in one location, they differ some in content from place to place and time to time.

There are more question marks in the text above - I've tried to count the number of letters in each word - each question mark represents a letter. I just couldn't read the handwriting due to imprecision, dark background or my own foibles. I can guess at some of them.

I posted the second part of this will in an earlier post - here. I will post the last part of the will and the codicil in a later post.

One reason for posting this is to try to find distant cousins who might have Nathaniel Horton in their ancestry. Any cousins out there?

Online Public Records

Many states have placed public records online - vital records, deeds, probate records, licenses, legal transactions, etc.

The web site collects links to these records by state.

For instance, I checked California - they have links for corporations, teacher credentials, alcohol board licenses, professional licenses, state employee directory, vital records, campaign finance, inmate locator, toxic sites, newspaper lists, unclaimed property, missing children, and more.

Many of these links provide only an index listing, and you have to pay to get the actual public record.

Under Professional Licenses, there are listings for accountants, architects, acupuncturists, automotive, barbers, cemetery and funeral, chiropractors, medical doctors, dentists, professional engineers, and many more. I found that the license for my dentist expires on 1 July 2008.

At the bottom of the state page, there are links to each county in the state and a page for their public records. Under San Diego County, there are links for land assessor records, superior court records, fictitious names, jail and inmate records, sex offender records, county library, property sales, warrants and many more.

I checked several other states, and the categories are different for each state, but similar in content.

If you are curious about your neighbors, your doctor, your dentist, your lawyer, your friends, etc., you can use this resource to see public records.

For genealogists, the gold mine here is probably the land deeds, assessments, licenses, court records, vital records, etc.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Using FTM's "Web Search"

I've had FamilyTreeMaker genealogy software for almost 10 years, but have never pressed the "Web Search" button to find information on the Internet about a person in my database. I don't know when that became an option, but it's in my FTM 2005 version.

Of course, you need a subscription to take advantage of the "Web Search" capability. I finally subscribed to Ancestry back in November so it's only been the last 8 months that I could have used this feature.

I had two reasons for checking this out - the first was that I need to put some screen shots from this capability into a Powerpoint presentation for the CVGS FTM class. Secondly, I was curious if I could find anything useful, especially for some of my elusive ancestors.

So that I didn't mess up my database, I created a new entry for my grandfather, Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942) and then pressed the "Web Search" button for him in FTM. After maybe 20 seconds, the program found data, stored on, from One World Tree, the WW1 Draft Registrations, and the 1880 to 1930 census records. I chose the One World Tree database, and followed the screens until I had captured his parents, his wife, and four children into my database. You have to pick "Preferred" or "Alternate" for each person to bring into the database. Sure enough, when you press the "Merge" button, you get the family data. I captured all of those screens and now have a Powerpoint for the FTM class to demonstrate how the feature works (since we don't have Internet access in the classroom).

Next, I decided to see if there was any data available for one of my elusive ancestors - Hannah Smith (1767-1827), the wife of Josiah Sawtell of Brookline NH. I pressed the "Web Search" button for her and the system found over 175,000 matches! I went through the first 150, and there was only one that pertained to my Hannah Smith - it was a One World Tree database for her daughter, Hannah Sawtelle (1789-1857) who married Zachariah Hildreth.

I looked at the online database by pressing the "View Online" button, and the family came up - pretty much as I have it. I clicked on the "2 User Submitted Trees" button, and then on the trees listed, and found that a Bill Zehm had contributed one of the trees. It looks like he has more information on the extended family than I do, so I may go capture some data later on.

However, the Web Search did not reveal the parents of my Hannah Smith (1767-1827). Oh well, another dead end - but I'm used to them.

My judgment about this Web Search hooked into FamilyTreeMaker is that it is both wonderful and dangerous. Wonderful in the sense that the software finds lots of information in a short time - some of which is pertinent and useful - and you have to decide whether to accept it and incorporate it into your database.

Dangerous because someone could easily incorporate erroneous data into their database. For instance, my Hannah Smith (1767-1827) was in the list of possible matches (but as a Hannah Smith with no dates - down around #174,000 - I didn't search that far!). But there were plenty of Hannah Smith's born around Brookline NH in the 1765 to 1770 time frame - and a researcher might be tempted to pick one of them, merge the data, build a fine Smith pedigree, and be totally wrong.

I think I'll go query the system for the even more elusive Thomas J. Newton now. See you later! I'm having fun ... however, it would be more fun if I got some help from all this technology.

I'm NOT going to try FTM 2008 now

The FamilyTreeMaker web site home page now takes you to a splash page for FTM 2008, but provides no link for a download. It does provide a link for FTM 16.

You can download the Beta version of FamilyTreeMaker 2008 at The announcement comes with warnings:

Announcing Family Tree Maker 2008, the next generation of the world's best-selling genealogy program. Family Tree Maker 2008 is coming this August, but you can give it a try now by downloading and installing a beta of the program. Simply click the link below to download the beta.

Before you continue please note the following:

* This is a beta program; therefore there are no guarantees that the program will perform correctly, nor are there any warranties of any kind.
* Since this beta version is still in development it may crash or fail to function correctly. Though unlikely, installing the program may also negatively affect the operation of your computer.
* Files created in this beta may not open in the release version of the product. * Always keep a backup of your data in another genealogy program (such as Family Tree Maker 16).
* The beta will stop functioning on August 24th. If you have entered information into the program that you would like to preserve please be sure to create a GEDCOM export before the 24th of August.
* The beta download is very large (170 MB). Please note that a considerable amount of time may be required to download the beta.
* The minimum system requirements for running the program are:
Operating System: Windows XP/Vista
Processor: 500 MHz Intel Pentium II or equivalent (1 GHz or faster processor recommended)
Hard Disk: 400 MB for installation. Additional space required for data files.
Memory: 256 MB of RAM (512 MB of RAM recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution (1024x768 resolution recommended)
Internet: All online features require internet access


The Beta site at shows several screens for a Family Page (with a pedigree view), a Person Page (with a color-coded timeline, including historic events), a Places Page (with a map), and a Media Collection Page (with a collection of photos).

The Menu Bar has Plan, People, Places, Media, sources, Publish and Web Search. The look and feel of the format is completely different from all previous FTM versions.

Change is required for progress to be made, but not all change is progress.

Why should I spend my time and computer memory to download FTM 2008 just to have it go dormant (and stay on my hard drive) on August 24 (unless I buy the program)? That's only 6 weeks away. If I made comments or suggested modifications, would they be able to include them? I doubt it. I am going to let others download it, test it, find the bugs, etc. My opinion is that this public Beta release is intended to create a buzz among users - that users will test it and like it and FTM 2008 will get significant "word-of-mouth" advertising before the official version is released.

The conditions for me to buy it in the future will be contingent on the capability of the software to perform the following tasks efficiently and accurately:

1) Ability to add Facts and Sources easily in an accepted professional format (such as in Elizabeth Shown Mills new book, Evidence! Explained ... )

2) Ability to create within genealogy reports the embedded Field Codes required for word processing documents to create Tables of contents and Indexes. I want to be able to edit the genealogy report after creating it but then be able to easily make an index.

3) Ability to create a simple Ahnentafel - just numbers, names, dates and places. All FTM versions to date cannot do this - you have to make an Ahnentafel Report then edit out the children and other phrases to get a simple Ahnentafel report.

4) Ability to create a GEDCOM file compatible for any earlier version of FTM.

5) Ability to read a GEDCOM created from any other software, without adding any text to the notes (for example, I just made a GEDCOM of a database, and when I opened a New file with that GEDCOM, all of the notes had the line "[seaver.ged]" in them. That is unacceptable).

What about you? What are you looking for in FamilyTreeMaker 2008? What conditions do you have for buying it?

UPDATED 7/11: Kathi at the Ancestor Search blog has downloaded FTM 2008 and posted a list of her likes and dislikes here. Nice job, and I hope she continues her evaluation.

I will post links to additional reviews when I find them.

I modified my paragraph about why I'm not going to download it and test it.

UPDATED 7/13: Dick Eastman's post has many comments on it from folks who have downloaded and tested FTM 2008.

There are ongoing discussions and tips on using FTM 2008 at the FTM-TECH mailing list - the July 2007 Archives are here.

Monday, July 9, 2007

First FTM Class today at CVGS

We had our first two-hour class on FamilyTreeMaker (FTM) for our CVGS members today. We had 23 members sign up for the class, plus the two instructors (Gary and I) - remember, CVGS has about 80 members (so we had over 30%). The experience level ranged from none on FTM to fairly knowledgeable on FTM. We have two more classes scheduled.

Our plan was to go through the FTM tutorial showing the features of the software, eliciting questions along the way, and then demonstrating the solutions to the questions. I prepared a handout with URLs for the FTM web site, FTM16 features, the Knowledge Base, the FTM message board, etc. We didn't exactly follow the plan.

Gary has FTM 2006 and his genealogy database on his laptop, and we used that. The attendees use everything from FTM version 5 to 2006/16. 13 of the 25 have FTM 2005/15 or 2006/16. One person just bought FTM 2006 and installed it on her Mac (with Windows XP). Two other attendees have old software (not FTM) and want to transfer their data.

During the presentation, Gary visited each of the items on the FTM Menu bar and then on the FTM Button bar. In this process, the capabilities of the FTM software was revealed. He spent a lot of time on the Charts and Reports menus and not much time on the File and Edit menus. Gary showed the Family View and Pedigree View formats. Everyone learned something new.

We had asked the attendees to give us their questions about FTM and their problems. Gary found answers to these questions on the Knowledge Base and demonstrated the solutions.

Next week, we will go into the basic functionality of the program - importing and exporting a GEDCOM, adding children and spouses to the Family View, moving forward and backward through generations, correcting errors, making notes, adding facts and sources, adding Scrapbook items, etc.

This was a very lively two hour session - it's amazing how varied the experience of each researcher is - each is a bit different from everybody else's experience.

Della's Journal - Week 28 (July 9-15, 1929)

This is Installment 28 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.

Here is Week 27:

Tuesday, July 9 (warm): We fixed quilt for Ma's house, I stitched edge & border. Fixed a little on my dress.

Wednesday, July 10: Rose called in afternoon, had her feet treated by a woman. Lyle's to entertain Emily's friend from Kentucky, Mary Emily her mother & father & Mrs. Gregg & husband.

Thursday, July 11: Mr. Watson's moved out. Lyle took her out to their new house & Ma & Betty rode out too. Mrs. Auble took down curtains to wash. Ma & Mrs. Pentecost cleaned walls. Ma cleaned sink & tubs. I sew on my dress. Lyle starts vacation.

Friday, July 12: I cleaned on floors. Mrs. Auble ironed curtains & mended. Ma cleaned rugs. Lyle's went to see boat come in. Emily worked.

Saturday, July 13 (warm): I cleaned in kitchen & bedroom, Ma in bathroom. Ed did not come over. A[ustin] took last foot treatment & took check for Bal[ance] $17.50. Letter from Mary Dyar & Aunt Libbie yesterday. Emily worked all week.

Sunday, July 14 (warm): Lyle's went La Playa, put up tent, went in bathing. Austin put on chair rail in breakfast nook [at] 2116 Fern, & fixed window & screen that would not work. Watered Fig tree.

Monday, July 15 (hot): I finished my dress hem. Ma worked outside, made curtain. Emily did not work. Mrs. Auble to have her hair waved, Bessie present to her, looks nice.


This was a week of all work and no play, it seems.

I have a picture of Emily and her cousin Mary Emily from Kentucky from their childhood - I've never known who Mary Emily was. I still don't know, I wish she had listed Mary Emily's surname or the names of her parents. I have no clue who the Gregg's are - perhaps friends of Mary Emily's family. Mary Dyar is a cousin from Della's side of the family.

Miriam has interesting forms

I'm a big fan of useful genealogy forms, and have made several based on my own research needs.

Miriam Midkiff at her Ancestories blog has a post about some of the forms she has developed and used - read about it at

She has a link to the forms page on her website. The forms include a Cemetery Employee Interview, a Funeral Home Employee interview, on Online Research Log, a U.S. Research Checklist, and a Timeline.

Thanks, Miriam - great job! May I suggest that you put a copyright notice on your forms?

Miriam also has a post about "Tidy Your Documents" month declared by T.K. on the Before My Time blog. Some wise words there by both of them. I thought about trying to tidy up during July, but ...

I fear that my piles have grown so high that it will take months to get them sorted onto the forms and put into the notebooks and bookcases. I used to be really organized - with research logs, correspondence logs, to-do lists, and the like - about 10 years ago! But events overtake all of the good intentions. If I hadn't started blogging, maybe things would look tidier around here...or maybe there would be even higher piles and no outlet to complain about it!

Is there a procrastination gene? If so, I must have it.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

My Lonely Y-DNA Strand

Blaine Bettinger at The Genetic Genealogist blog bemoaned the fate of his family Y-DNA line in The Lonely Surname post the other day - there are only 6 male line descendants from a 1793 ancestor.

That got to me to thinking about my own Seaver line, and how many male descendants of Robert Seaver (1608-1683) are available for Y-DNA testing. I think there are hundreds, if not thousands, American males with the Seaver surname who can trace a Robert Seaver descent for 12 to 15 generations.

However, in my specific line, I think we have tapped out. Here's why:

Generation #6, Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816) and Martha Whitney (1764-1832) had four sons, Job (unmarried), Benjamin (see #7), Silas (3 sons) and Isaac (2 sons).

Generation #7, Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825) and Abigail Gates (1797-1867) had two sons, Isaac (see #8) and Benjamin (died young). Isaac Seaver (1802-1870) married Benjamin's widow, Abigail (Gates) Seaver, and had two sons, Lyman (see #8) and Loring (unmarried).

Generation #8, Isaac Seaver (1823-1901) married Lucretia Smith (1828-1884) and had two sons, Frank (see #9) and Benjamin (had 1 daughter). Lyman Seaver married Ann Gordon and had one daughter.

Generation #9, Frank Seaver (1852-1922) married Hattie Hildreth (1857-1920) and had three sons, Fred (see #10), Harry (married, no children) and Howard (died young).

Generation #10, Fred Seaver (1876-1942) married Alma Richmond (1882-1962) and had two sons, Frederick (see #11) and Edward (see #11).

Generation #11, Frederick Seaver (1911-1983) married Betty Carringer (1919-2002) and had 3 sons - Randy (see #12), Stan (see #12) and Scott (see #12). Edward Seaver (1913-2004) married Janet Roukes (1913-2003) and had one son, Peter (see #12).

Generation #12, Randy Seaver had two daughters, Stan Seaver had one daughter, Scott Seaver had one daughter, and Peter Seaver had one son (died at age 25, unmarried).

Therefore, the Y-DNA strand has died out in my Seaver line with myself, my brothers and my cousin.

Tracing back through the generations, it is apparent that the only other male Seaver descendants of #6 Benjamin Seaver is through the Silas Seaver line. There are no male descendants of #7 Benjamin Seaver to carry the Y-DNA line!

This analysis really points out the vagaries of early parental death, infant and childhood mortality, the reduction in number of children due to societal pressures and birth control, and blind bad luck.

Thanks, Blaine, for the idea!

Ancestry Member Trees - Terms and Conditions

I posted the other day about uploading my Seaver database with over 6,900 persons into an Ancestry Personal Member Tree. I did it to test out their system and thought that if it worked well that I could make it public at some time in order to share the information to my family and the genealogy world (I have already put it in text format at as long with other databases).

I decided to check the Ancestry Terms and Conditions at

Hmm, there is an interesting paragraph there:

"User provided content

"Portions of the Service will contain user provided content, to which you may contribute appropriate content. For this content, Ancestry is a distributor only. By submitting content to Ancestry, you grant, Inc., the corporate host of the Service, a license to the content to use, host, distribute that Content and allow hosting and distribution of that Content, to the extent and in that form or context we deem appropriate. Should you contribute content to the site, you understand that it will be seen and used by others under the license described herein. You should submit only content which belongs to you and will not violate the property or other rights of other people or organizations., Inc. is sensitive to the copyright of others. For more concerning copyright issues, view our corporate policy. We will not edit or monitor user provided content, with the exception that, to promote privacy, an automated filtering tool will be used to suppress, and omit from display, information submitted to the tree areas of the site which appears to pertain to a living person. We also reserves the right to remove any user provided content that comes to our attention and that we believe, in our sole discretion, is illegal, obscene, indecent, defamatory, incites racial or ethnic hatred or violates the rights of others, or is in any other way objectionable."

The way I read that is - if I submit a Member Tree, they can distribute it however and wherever they want. They can put it on a CDROM or other media and sell the media. They could allow other subscribers to download it as a GEDCOM file. But they will protect my privacy, for which I am grateful.

So far, I've submitted only a Personal Member Tree. Reading the T&Cs, it appears that they can use it and distribute it even though it is Personal. If I delete it from their system, will they still be able to use it or distribute it? I think so.
I also think that I can still submit this database to another service, which will probably have a similar set of Terms and Conditions.

Interesting, no? What a tangled web woven by corporate giants, even in genealogy.

By the way, note that Inc. is still the corporate entity. Did you know that there is a blog? It is for users of the "old" - the private family web sites.

UPDATED 9 July: I erred in referring to a Hugh Watkins post about Family Tree Builder at, and Elaine Collins called me on it in the Comments. My apologies to Elaine and I deleted the erroneous line from this post so that it won't be archived online.

It took me a while to go through my Bloglines list of over 150 genealogy blogs to find what I was referring to. I found it, but the T&Cs referred to in the blog post were modified by the software company. I must have read the two posts the same day and linked to the wrong one. My error. Thanks, Elaine, for calling it to my attention.