Saturday, September 29, 2007

TMOAGD Revisited

My post critiquing the article about TMOAGD (The Mother Of All Genealogy Databases) triggered comments via comments to the post and email from several readers. The best response was from Dale Grant, who wrote (note that I obtained his permission to post this):


I have several comments about The Mother of All Genealogy Databases.

1. With the current fear of identity theft, the amount of information available to tie people to living relatives is small. With the continuing practice of governments to restrict access to databases such as censuses, unless people want to be tied together, it will be difficult to do so. Living people are usually deliberately left out of on-line databases.

2. Lack of records, as you mentioned, would be a major problem. There are often few records available to tie people together who lived on the forward edge of the expansion of America.

3. A large number of available family trees have errors, due to false assumptions of parentage for example. I believe disagreements over who were the parents of certain ancestors basically caused the Mormon Church to stop using Ancestral Files, which they had hoped to use to tie everyone together. There are so many people just accumulating people from other family trees that any error, bad assumption, etc. is propagated to many others. Even careful researchers can make mistakes. Who will/could arbitrate the truth?

4. Many lineages have errors due to unofficial adoptions, non-paternity events (which are almost always hidden and thus incorrect in the official records), etc.

5. For many reasons, Official Records, may be incorrect. Guesses by whoever answered the Census for example. Deliberate lies about age are also fairly common in the Census records.

6. DNA will not be available from everyone, because many people will refuse on the basis that they don't want to know what diseases they may be susceptible to or they don't want the insurance companies to know.

7. Many people today are still not using computers, don't have usernames, and are not part of Linked-in social networks--and won't be in 10 years.

8. In my opinion, there will be many records that could be used to tie people to their ancestors that will not be available in any electronic database in 10 years. Family Bible records for example.

9. There are many people who have deliberately avoided being in the records: illegal aliens, tax dodgers, some criminal, homeless, etc. Many of these people will not be in records from the past, today, and probably not in the future. Tieing everyone together will never happen, in my opinion.

Specifically to answer your questions:

Is it feasible? Theoretically yes, discounting all of the places where records just don't exist. Practically no, there will always be resistance to the invasion of privacy, many people will not willingly give up their DNA or family information.

Will it ever happen? Perhaps in some limited form.

Dale Grant


My thanks to Dale for his cogent and measured comments adding to the discourse - all of which I agree with.

"Genealogy Blogging - Soapbox or Service" talk today

I gave my "Genealogy Blogging - Soapbox or Service?" presentation today at the Chula Vista Genealogical Society meeting at the Chula Vista Library. Unfortunately, there was a lot of competition for the entertainment dollar today, and only 12 people attended. I thank them for their perseverance and support! I guess the lesson here is "don't schedule something when there is a community fair just three miles down the road."

In the talk, I discussed:

* What is blogging, who can do it, the advantages and disadvantages of it.

* How do you create a blog, and what should you put on a blog?

* Finding genealogy blogs, keeping track of blogs

* Why did I start blogging?

* Finding your way around a genealogy blog

* Using a service like Sitemeter for statistics and visitor information

* All of my favorite genealogy bloggers (well, I missed some of them, but you don't know who it was!)

* A demonstration of creating a post and publishing it - see the post below. I missed the time by only two minutes!

* Finally - Soapbox or Service? Yes. Both, at least for me and many others.

The attentive audience wondered how much all of this cost, and they were surprised to learn that everything I've done in blogging has been free - except for my time, of course, which I haven't charged myself for. I'm having fun doing it, making online friends, and learning a lot about writing, web pages, etc.

Then we adjourned to the conference room for shrimp cocktails provided by Jan, one of our members. See what everybody else missed!

I wore my new denim shirt - the one with a family tree logo that says "Genealogy, so many ancestors, so little time." It was a gift from one of our new members for helping her find some of her ancestry earlier this year.

We used Shirley's Epson projector and Gary's laptop for this presentation - we'll use them again on 20 October when I present our "Discover Your Family History Online" seminar.

Hi there, CVGSers

This is a shoutout to all of the folks attending my presentation of "Genealogy Blogging - Soapbox or Service?" in the Chula Vista library auditorium.

You all have sat patiently through an endless viewing of all of my favorite blogs, and now I'm demonstrating how posting on Genea-Musings is done while keyboarding in the Genea-Cave. It's not live of course (since the library doesn't have Wi-Fi in the auditorium) this is the next best thing - it's screen shots!

It's pretty easy, isn't it? Even a complete bumbling genealogist can do it...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Happy Birthday to Roots Television

I absolutely love and appreciate Roots Television. The interviews and the long seminar pieces are just OK. What I really like are the humor and the sentimental pieces about people's lives. I thought that the "Finding Annie Moore" play was the video highlight of 2007 for me (but then I thought that Megan's talk at the NYGBS last year was the video highlight of 2006).

So Roots Television has been available for one whole year. Break out the funny hats, the noisemakers, the big fudgy cake with lots of chocolate frosting and the wine...

"Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, Roots TV,
Happy birthday to you!

And many more..."

To help us celebrate, they are offering a contest. Here is their news release sent via email today by Og (who?):

"Tomorrow is Roots Television's Fabulous First Birthday!

"Og is soooo very excited! He wishes he could share a super giant piece of fudgy chocolate birthday cake with all of his friends. Since no one has invented a sufficiently satisfying virtual dessert, we thought the next best thing was a good old-fashioned party game.

"So get ready for the first RTV Scavenger Hunt. Og's come up with six very tricky questions, listed below. It's your job to dig through the Roots Television archives to find the answers.

"Hint: a good place to start is to check out our searchable Program Guide. We'll choose the winners at random from those entries that have the most correct answers, and we'll send those winners some dynamite Roots Television gear. So synchronize your watches - you have until Monday, October 15th to email Og your answers (

Roots Television Happy Birthday Scavenger Hunt

* What song did Chris Haley sing at the 2007 FGS Conference?
* Was the man who raised Bob Zins his real father?
* Name three famous descendants of the Sockish.
* What was author Victor Villasenor’s grandfather’s claim to fame?
* What six required tools of the genealogist does Dick Eastman mention in his lecture "Putting the Genes in Genealogy"?
* Name any of Flat Stanley’s ancestors."

If you've been a fan watching Roots TV over the past year, you know how to look for the answers to these questions. Go for it!

Congratulations to Megan Smolenyak, Og and the rest of the Roots TV staff for putting together a wonderful product that enhances genealogy and family history research. Thank you for making it educational, funny, and free.

Book: "The Civil War Veterans of San Diego, CA"

One of the absolute "best" genealogy books about San Diego area people is the book "The Civil War Veterans of San Diego, CA" by Barbara Palmer, Ph.D., published by the author, 1999 (on the Genealogy Reference shelf at the Chula Vista, Civic Center Branch, Public Library - Dewey 973.749 PALMER).

This book describes:

* California and San Diego in the Civil War

* Cemeteries Studied for the survey

* Other Cemeteries in San Diego

* Additional Research Sources - includes libraries, historical and genealogical societies, etc.

* Specific Genealogical Records Available in San Diego - by subject (e.g. military, death, probate, etc.)

* General Findings concerning Civil War Veterans

* Civil War Veterans buried in San Diego (in studied cemeteries)

* Civil War Veterans with Burial Locations unknown (but who died in San Diego)

* State of First Enlistment of Civil War Veterans

This is an excellent reference work - not just for Civil War veterans but for all local genealogy researchers - the research sources and specific records available in San Diego are very useful in describing holdings.

Of course, the Civil War veterans, and their burial locations, are the focus of this book. The information available for each veteran found in a San Diego cemetery, using codes, includes:

A. Veteran's Official Tombstone (info. from the official government tombstone)
B. Veteran's Unofficial Tombstone (info. from unofficial or family tombstone)
C. Cemetery information (cemetery name, grave location, date of death/burial, age at death, nativity, marital status, etc.)
D. Heintzelman Post #33 G.A.R. (code for info. for this specific post)
E. Datus E. Coon Post #172 G.A.R. (code for info. for this specific post)
F. Information on Veteran's Wife (if located, including birth/death info, age, nativity, marital status, info in quotes are in cemetery records).

For example, here is one entry:

"Adams, Frederick F.
B. F.F. Adams, Co B 43rd Ohio Vol Inf 1861-1864
B. F.F. Adams, October 5, 1842 - October 28, 1928
C. MH/Div. 4 DOD/B 10/28/1929-2/23/1930 A. 86/__/23 O. died Seattle WA (grave stone says date of death is 1928)
D. Frederick F. Adams N: Ohio A:39 O: Merchant CW: Co B 43 Ohio Inf (Sgt) E/D: 10/61 - 9/64 LOS: 34 mos GAR: 3/31/81 SP: 4/30/1890 RE: 12/10/1890 TR: 12/13/1910 S: H
F. Mary Virginia, his wife March 2, 1854 - October 30, 1887 "He giveth His beloved sleep" DOD/B 10/30-11/1/1887 A: 34 N: California M: Married J/S: "Adams, Mary d. 30 Oct (1887), 35 yrs, bur. Mt Hope Cem" "

The cemetery abbreviations are:

* CAL = Calvary Cemetery (also known as Mission Hills Cemetery and Pioneer Cemetery)
* CV = Cypress View Mausoleum (opened in 1927)
* FR = Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery (opened after 1883)
* GW = Greenwood Cemetery (opened in 1907)
* HC = Holy Cross Cemetery (opened in 1919)
* MH = Mount Hope Cemetery.

For the Civil War veterans whose burial place is unknown or is outside the city of San Diego, the information offered was gleaned from GAR records of the two San Diego posts.

A typical entry is:

"Abrahams, W.F., N. Steubenville, Ohio CW: Co F 84 Ohio Vol Inf (Pvt) Term: 90 days E/D 5/62-9/62 Camp Delaware, Ohio GAR: 5/28/1904 Died 3/31/1915 age 63. Buried: Los Angeles S: DC."

There are 182 pages of veteran listings in this book. The book has source notes and photo credits, and an index of the Civil War Veterans and their wives.

I found this book on the shelf several years ago and have used it often. Today, I had to answer a query received from a correspondent about a civil War veteran ancestor and I wanted to find out if he was in the book and if so to gather his information from the book. Unfortunately, he was not in the book even though I found that he is buried in Glen Abbey Memorial Park in Bonita, but without a Civil War designation. This probably means that he was not a GAR Post member and therefore was not a "target" of Barbara Palmer's study.

A book of this type, whose records are not online in any form, but may be available in a cemetery list published by a society, is priceless for a local historian. A bonus for San Diego area researchers is the survey of local repositories and available source records.

A study of this sort would make an excellent genealogy or historical society project.

Genealogy Web Site Rankings - 9/28/07

Once in awhile, I look for rankings of genealogy web sites and blogs. I found the Quantcast web site which was pretty easy to use. You just input the URL and it tells you the "Global Reach" and "US Reach" - defined as the number of unique visitors (not visits) per month worldwide and in the US. It also gives a ranking in Reach against all web sites. The site doesn't say when these measurements were taken.

To test this out, I found the Reach (some global, some US) and ranking (all web sites) for the following URLs (done on 28 September, so they may be different when you read this):

* - 3,601,655, #405
* - 2,668,656, #601
* - 2,296,830, #751
* - 1,038,527, #2,167
* - 766,539, #3,089

* - 763,227, #3,105
* - 668,656, #3,602
* - 623,387, #3,891
* - 473,450, #5,106
* - 406,453, #5,786

* - 396,581, #5,900
* - 358,445, #6,487
* - 313,100, #7,301
* - 289,049, #7,802
* - 281,624, #7,980

* - 279,556, #8,022
* - 264,903, #8,568
* - 256,698, #8,605
* - 254,176, #9,721
* - 204,934, #10,296

* - 186,884, #11,221
* - 176,690, #11,655
* - 168,988
* - 168,125, #12,194
* - 160,693, #12,691

* - 157,697
* - 155,930, #13,038
* - 146,807, #13,772
* - 96,634, #19,879
* - 89,054, #21,326

* - 88,281, #21,484
* - 81,247, #23,118
* - 78,666, #23,796
* - 62,034, #37,158
* - 58,417

* - 52,082, #34,302
* - 50,016, #35,572
* - 48,520, #36,490
* - 45,264
* - 43,528

* - 23,204
* - 18,777
* - 13,350
* - 10,028

Unfortunately, Quantcast does not make a list by topic (e.g. genealogy) like does. I haven't compared Quantcast with Alexa rankings, either.

These are mostly random selections by me - I'm sure I've left out many popular genealogy related sites. Tell me what "popular" site I've missed and I'll add it to the list.

My point in doing this is to ask you a question - are you visiting the web sites that can help you with your research? Are there sites on this list that you haven't checked out?

In reviewing the list, it seems to me that many people in genealogy-land are visiting web sites that are not particularly helpful - I won't name them, but you can check out the list above and find some. But maybe they aren't useful for me, but are useful for others!

UPDATED 9/30: I received one comment and several emails suggesting web sites, and I thought of a few more. I've integrated the additions into the list above.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Smith Family Bible

Pages from a Family Bible were in the family papers that I received from my mother when I started doing genealogy and family history research. I don't know the present location of this Bible, or the bibliographic information or publishing date of the Bible.

What I do have is family information (and knowledge of the person who wrote it):


BIRTHS (all in the hand of Devier J. Smith)

Devier J. Smith, May 7th 1842
Abbey A. Smith, Oct. 28th 1844
Abbey Ardelle Smith, April 11th 1862
Devier David Smith, Oct. 15th 1863
Mary Ann Smith, May 7th 1866
Agnes Bell Smith, Feb. 26th 1868
Leutie H. Smith, June 18th 1875.

DEATHS (first two in the hand of Devier J. Smith, next two in hand of Abbie (Vaux) Smith, last 5 lines in hand of Lyle L. Carringer)

Agnes Bell Smith, April 26th 1870
Leutie H. Smith, March 19th 1878
Grandson of Devier & Abbie Smith
Devier David Carringer Borne Aug 19, 1889
died May 10, 1890.
Devier James Smith - died May 1, 1894
Abbey A. Smith (wife of D.J. Smith) died Sept. 11, 1931 (10:00 AM)
Devier David Smith, died Feb. 2, 1920
Mary Ann (Matie) (Smith) Morrill Died July 14,
Abbey Ardelle (Della A.) (") Carringer Jan. 1, 1944
Abbey A. Smith

MARRIAGES (all in the hand of Devier J. Smith)

Devier J. Smith & Abbey A. Vaux, April 4th, 1861
Abbey Ardell Daughter of D.J. & A.A. Smith Sep. 11 1887
Devier David, son of D.J. & A.A. Smith 1889
Matie Smith Daughter of D.J. & A.A. Smith 1889

MEMORANDA (in the hand of Devier J. Smith)

Spring Ranch Cheyenne Co Kans.
I wrote the Mairages Births and Deaths
of or Little Daughter & Son this 10th Day
of Nov 1889. This is the Sabath. I have
writen a Letter to My Dear Wife in Nation
-al City California a Daughter and
soninlaw there with a Granson and
Son and Daughter & Daughterinlaw in
McCook Neb. Myself on the Ranch
alone, have red a number of Chapt
in this good Book today it does my
Heart good to read the Holy Bible
May we all prais the Lord for
ever, is my Prair, Devier J. Smith.

There was also two untitled pages along with the pages removed from the Bible. These pages include:

Page 1 (in hand of Abbie (Vaux) Smith):

Parents of D J Smith
Mary Smith Borne April 23, 1805
....................... Died May 12, 1865
Ranslow Smith borne July 11, 1805
their only child
Diver James was born May 7, 1839
.......................... Died May 1, 1894
his wife
Abbie A. Smith was born Oct 28, 1844

Thier Children
Abbie Ardell ^Della^ Smith was born April 11th 1862
Davie Diver Smith Born Oct 15, 1863
Mary Ann (Matie) Born May 7, 1866
Agness Bell Smith - born Feb 26, 1868
............................ died April 26, 1870
Lutie H. Smith Born June 16, 1875
.......................... died March 19, 1878

Page 2 (in hand of Abbie (Vaux) Smith):

DJ Smith and Abbie A. Vaux
April 4, 1861 Wis. Rolling Prairie, Dodge Co.
Abbie Ardell (Della Smith an
Henry Austin Carringer Sep 11, 1887
Wano, Cheyenne Co., Kans
Matie Smith and George Chenery
Married Dec 20, 1889 McCook Neb
Divorced April 1895 at San Diego, Calif.
Grand Children of D.J. and Abbie Smith
Devier David Carringer Borne Aug 19, 1889
................................... Died May 10, 1890
son of Della & Austin Carringer
Lyle L. Carringer born Nov 2, 1891
David & Leeva Smith's child
Eva Etta Smith born May 6 1890.


I have not found any of the dates above in any other record, except for the California deaths after 1905. Therefore, these are the only dates and locations of events available to family researchers. Besides myself and my brothers, there may be progeny of David Devier Smith still living - I have some information on those families in my records, mainly from the California vital records and some obituaries.

I have posted about my great-great-grandfather, Devier James Smith here and here.

The Wedding I Really Appreciate

Is there any doubt that the most important wedding in a person's life is the one that resulted in their birth? [Of course, that assumes that your parents were traditional and married before you were conceived...]. In my case, my parents were very traditional when they married on 12 July 1942.

Betty Virginia Carringer was born in 1919 and was raised in San Diego by her parents, Lyle and Emily (Auble) Carringer. She attended Brooklyn School, Wilson Junior High School, San Diego High School and San Diego State College, graduating in 1940 with a BA degree. She was an Art and English teacher at Wilson Junior High in 1941 to 1943.

Frederick Walton Seaver was born in 1911 in Fitchburg MA, and was raised in Leominster MA by his parents, Fred and Bessie (Richmond) Seaver. He attended Leominster High School, Worcester Academy, Kingsley Prep School, Cushing Academy and one year at Dartmouth College, but did not graduate. In December 1940, he drove west to San Diego to escape the New England winter and a failed love affair. He lived for a time with his Aunt Emily (Richmond) Taylor and her family, which included Marcia Chamberlain, a teenager who attended Wilson Junior High and took art classes there.

The story told by Marcia's mother, Dorothy (Taylor) Chamberlain, was that Fred came home from work one day and said "I need a girlfriend." Marcia heard this, and said "I know a nice girl - she's my art teacher." Evidently, a date was made and the couple fell in love.

They were married at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in San Diego. The best man was Marshall Chamberlain, Dorothy's husband, and the matron of honor was Eleanor Steddom, one of Betty's lifelong friends. Fred's mother and sister Geraldine took the train across the country to attend the wedding.

Betty and Fred honeymooned for a week at the beach in Laguna Beach in Orange County, and settled down in a bungalow house at 577 Twin Oaks Avenue in Chula Vista. Fred was working at Rohr Corporation, which manufactured aircraft parts for military aircraft supporting the war effort. Betty also went to work at Rohr after their marriage, until their first son, Randy, was born in late 1943.

Fred enlisted in the US Navy in 1944, and Betty and Randy moved back to her parents home at 2130 Fern Street in San Diego. Betty continued to teach at Memorial and Pacific Beach Junior High Schools. Fred got out of the Navy in early 1946, and the family moved to the bottom flat at 2114 Fern Street (next door to 2130). When their second son, Stan, was born in late 1946, they moved to the larger upstairs flat at 2116 Fern which had more room, and then in 1947 they moved to the other side of the block to 2119 30th Street - the upstairs apartment above 2115 30th Street, the house built by Henry and Della (Smith) Carringer - Betty's grandparents.

After the death of my father's youngest sister, Geraldine, in late April 2007, I was allowed to take many of her personal papers and books. One of the books was Gerry's diary of her trip with her mother to San Diego in July 1942 to attend the wedding. So I have a first person account of the events leading up to the wedding, the wedding itself, and the events after the wedding. I will probably publish a series from this diary on this blog later. I also have an 8 mm movie and videotape of some of the wedding activities that my grandfather, Lyle Carringer, took.

This marriage produced three unique individuals - myself and my two brothers (Scott was born in 1955). It is what made me me, for what it's worth. I am so different from my brothers, and they are so different from each other. We have different lives and memories of our parents, childhood and youth.

Needless to say, I really appreciate the marriage of my parents, and I also appreciate their effort to create and support their family, their work ethic, their traditional morals and societal views, their hopeful outlook on life, the fun times we had as a family, and their emphasis on education that drove me to be the person that I am today.

I also really appreciate the fine English, German, Dutch, New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania ancestries that they left me. There are just enough brick wall ancestors to keep me real busy doing research for the rest of my life. Where's the Mother of All Genealogy Databases when I really need it?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Do living people outnumber the dead?

I can't resist commenting on studies like this. Tom Kemp in a Genealogy Librarian post links to this article in the March 2007 issue of Scientific American by Clara Curtin.

In the article, the author provides the following information:

"In 2002 Carl Haub, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a nongovernmental organization in Washington, D.C., updated his earlier estimate of the number of people that have ever existed. To calculate this, he studied the available population data to determine the human population growth rates during different historical periods, and used them to determine the number of people who have ever been born."

<----- snip ----->

"To calculate how many people have ever lived, Haub followed a minimalist approach, beginning with two people in 50000 B.C.—his Adam and Eve. Then, using his historical growth rates and population benchmarks, he estimated that slightly over 106 billion people had ever been born. Of those, people alive today comprise only 6 percent... "

The population numbers at different time points given are:

* 50,000 BCE, homo sapiens appears (an estimate)
* 9,000 BCE, population is 5 million
* 1 CE, population is 300 million
* 1650 CE, population is 500 million
* 1800 CE, population is 1 billion
* 2002 CE, population is 6.2 billion

Based on historical growth rates that the researcher "knows" (e.g., less than 0.1% from 9,000 BCE to 1 CE), he comes up with a total number of people who have ever lived on Earth - 106 billion. He doesn't present the actual growth rates other than the one listed above.

Assuming that he has some sort of birth rate, child mortality rate, proportion of adults who bore children, average number of children birthed, and average age of motherhood, it would be theoretically possible to come up with an equation or a spreadsheet that would calculate the total number of people who ever lived (at least since a mythical Adam and Eve in 50,000 BCE). But how accurate could the result be if the input data were only estimates? Is there demographic data for those rates and other data?

Let's consider the only growth rate that is quoted - less than 0.1% average population growth between 9,000 BCE and 1 AD. Assuming his numbers of 5 million (9,000 BCE) and 300 million (1 CE) are correct, a 0.1% average population growth rate yields 40.373 billion people, not 300 million. The actual average population growth rate is about 0.0455%, not 0.100% (calculated by multiplying (5 million) times [{1.0+growth rate}^9001] - for this calculation 1.000455^9001 = 60.0, times 5 million = 300 million).

For the years between 1 CE and 1650 CE, the average population growth rate calculates to 0.031% (this may be highly variable, as the author points out the effects of plague and other population controls). Between 1650 and 1800, the average population growth rate is 0.46%. Between 1800 and 2002, the average population growth rate is 0.91%. The current average population growth rate is 1.2%.

The real challenge is making estimates for the rates of birth, childhood mortality, the percentage of adults who bore children, the average lifespan of adults who survive childhood, etc. Each of these variables may change significantly during each generation and century. It would be interesting to see graphs of these variables and of the world population based on them. The "error bands" for the rates would be useful too. I would love to see and understand the spreadsheet!

Of all the numbers given above by the article, the one that I find most curious is 300 million people in 1 CE. If the numbers are correct, the average population growth rate from 9,000 BCE to 1 CE is 50% greater than the average population growth rate from 1 CE to 1,650 CE. I would have thought that they had plagues and disasters in the pre-Roman times also.

Obviously, I can't authoritatively challenge the population estimates given, or the estimated result of 106 billion people since 50,000 BCE. I'm just an old aerospace engineer with a calculator, not a demographer like Carl Haub with a large spreadsheet and the considered scientific opinion of many demographers at his fingertips. Frankly, it all seems pretty reasonable to me, now that I think more about it.

You know, 50,000 BCE is about 2,000 generations. Each of us has over 1.1 quadrillion potential ancestors in the 50th generation. The number of potential ancestors 2,000 generations ago is very high: 2^2000 = about 10^600 (that's 10 with 600 zeroes - at least a zillion!). The actual number of ancestors in 50,000 BCE is much closer to 2, I think!

I wrote this post to get my thoughts down on paper - math is something I was good at in school. This was FUN to think about! Thanks to Tom Kemp for posting the link to the article.

UPDATE 6:30 PM: Now if we could only get the Mother of All Genealogy Databases (MOAGD) to find the names, dates and places for all 106 billion of these folks, we would all be out of a job. Can FTM 2008 handle 106 billion people? How long would that take to input? Let's see, if everyone did 60 people an hour, that's 16.67 million hours...or over 200,000 full-time person-years. Now that would be a big project. Scratch the idea!

CVGS Meeting on Saturday - "Genealogy Blogging"

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS) has a Saturday meeting several times a year - on 5th Saturdays in the spring, summer and fall. We wanted to provide a meeting opportunity for researchers who are unable to attend our monthly weekday morning meetings.

On Saturday, 29 September, the CVGS program will be "Genealogy Blogging - Soapbox or Service?" presented by Randy Seaver, CVGS President.

The talk summary and the speaker's biography are below:

"Weblogs (known as "blogs" - online journals or diaries) have multiplied over the last two years in all fields, including genealogy. This presentation will discuss the what, when, where, why and how of genealogy blogging, and introduce you to many active genea-bloggers - each with something to say in their own way. Genealogy news, research tips, family history examples, stories, humor, business, education - and more - are covered in genealogy blogs every day.

"Randy Seaver is a retired aerospace engineer, a genealogy researcher and family historian since 1988, with a fine set of obscure Northeast US/Canada colonial ancestors, with some 19th century English immigrants. A native San Diegan, Randy is a member of CVGS, SDGS, CGSSD, NEHGS, NGS and ESOG. He is currently President of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society and has made genealogy presentations to CVGS and several other societies. Randy was the first genealogy blogger in the San Diego area, and you can read his blog "Genea-Musings," with daily postings, at"

If you are in the San Diego area and need a genealogy fix on the weekend, come to our CVGS meeting at 10 AM in the Chula Vista Civic Center branch library auditorium (365 "F" Street in Chula Vista).

CVGS Research Group today

Our monthly Research Group of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society was today at the Library. At this meeting, we discuss the Genealogy News of the Month (prepared by me), talk about the research problems and questions brought to the table, and hear success stories and research experiences. We had 12 in attendance today, and it was pretty lively.

Joan received her husband's father's SS-5 application from Social Security recently, and it verified what she knew about his birth date, birthplace and parents names. Now she wants to know what else she might be able to find with his SS number. Can she request death information, employment and wage information, etc. from Social Security? The group suggested that she write the SSA to find out what else might be available, while we search the Internet for answers. Her problem is that she doesn't yet know his death date or place and would like to find that information.

Bob is researching his wife's great-grandfather who immigrated in about 1880 to Boston from Scotland. However, he thinks that this man was born in Denmark. He asked how he could find the man's birth date, birth place, parents names, etc. He has found him in the 1900 to 1930 census records. We suggested looking for a marriage record in the MA VRs on the NEHGS web site, check newspapers for an obituary, and try to find out if he was naturalized, and if so to obtain a naturalization record.

Dave, a new member today, told about having to get a delayed birth certificate to join the Navy years ago. He has a problem using Ancestry to find ancestors with his surname because of his last name - he is a McC***** person, and finds his name McC*****, MacC*****, C*****, etc. The same thing happens with "O'***", "de la ****" and "Van " people (like O'Leary, de la Torre and Van Buren) - the "O' " or "de la" or "Van" sometimes is left off, or the person is indexed with and without it.

Bobbie has a conflict among three records for an ancestor's birth date - a baptism record from October 1885, the WW1 draft registration which says October 1886, and the cemetery tombstone which says October 1886. She asked which one should she trust? The group suggested that the one closest to the event, and the one provided by persons who were present for the event, was the one to believe. In this case, it would be the year from the baptism record, and the day of the month from the other records.

Bobbie told about her trip to Illinois and finding the gravestone for her great-grandmother, Cunigunda Titus hiding in plain site right between her husband and her daughter. The cemetery book doesn't list her for some reason, and the limestone is very worn and almost unreadable. The dates on the stone match well with her probate record, and now Bobbie wants to get her in the cemetery book.

The really fun part of this meeting is to pass papers around so that everyone can see good examples. Today we passed an SS-5 report, military enlistment and discharge papers, pictures of Cunigunda's gravestone, etc.

Dearl offered a bit of parting advice to everyone - to review all of your information every so often - sometimes you find things that you've forgotten, and sometimes you are able to connect the dots with data you found recently.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Family History Live Online Fair on Saturday, 9/29

I received this from Gena Philibert Ortega the other day. If you are interested in an online seminar, please check it out.

WHAT: A free Family History Live Online Fair
WHEN: Saturday, September 29 from 8:00am to 4:00pm (Mountain Daylight Time - starts 10 am EDT, 9 am CDT, 7 am PDT).
WHO: Scheduled topics and presenters include:

* "Getting Organized" by Amy Anderson.
* "Swedish Podcast" by Anna-Karin.
* "English Records before 1837" by Peter Barrie.
* "An Introduction to Online Scottish Research" by Peter Barrie.
* "Swedish Research" by Janet Hovorka.
* "Hamburg Passenger Lists" by Sandra Raymond Jarvis.
* "Researching German Records When You Don't Speak German" by Jean Wilcox Hibben.
* Roots Magic

HOW: This online fair is free. To participate you will need a computer with an internet connection and a free membership to Family History Live Online. Once you have signed up for a free membership you will be able to download our free software viewer that will allow you to hear and see this family history fair. We ask that you sign up for your free membership by Wednesday, September 26 to allow time to receive the software and instructions.

FOR MORE INFO:See Family History Live Online's website at www.familyhistoryliveonline.comor
email the Fair Director, Gena Philibert Ortega at

Are Family Trees Depicted Correctly?

Something that has bothered me for a long time has been the depiction of our ancestors perched in a "family tree." As an example, here is a nice graphic from

To fill this out, you put a living person or a recent ancestor at the bottom position on the tree, and then add parents above them, grandparents above them, great-grandparents above them, and so on. The earliest ancestors are higher up in the tree. Descendants are shown below the ancestors higheri n the tree, which has some logic to it. Of course, the graphic above doesn't even have all of the boxes in the right place!

But then we talk a lot about "ROOTS." Our family roots are these same ancestors that we perched high up in the tree. To me, the "family tree" should be depicted with "roots" (ancestors) below the selected person and "branches and leaves" (descendants) above the selected person.

There are some graphics available, like here, that put the ancestors below the ground. Isn't that where our ancestors really are? Almost all of them are below the ground, not up in the tree!

I haven't looked for graphics in software programs other than FTM 2005, so there may be some more graphics out there that depict ancestors below the ground and descendants above the ground. I guess maybe I should stay away from graphic depictions of "family trees" that don't show "roots."

Why do they depict the tree this way? I think it is because we want an ordered graphical depiction of our ancestry. Branches and leaves are brown and green and pretty, roots are dark and gnarled and semi-ugly. We know how many people are in each generation and so the "family tree" above the ground can have a set number of branches and leaves. If we put descendants above the ground in the graphics, then each tree would be different - some families have many children, and some have only one or none.

I guess it is my scientific, engineering and Presbyterian mentality that requires "order" above all. It has always bothered me for some reason.

Is this a symptom of geneaholism?

UPDATE: Perhaps the better terms would be "progenitors" for anccestors" and "progeny" for "descendants." Then we aren't confused by "ascending" and "descending. "

It would be difficult to show 4 or 5 generations of ancestors below the ground and 4 or 5 generations of descendants above the ground on one piece of paper without small print. Perhaps an hourglass chart with a family tree graphic (leaves, branches, trunk and roots) as a background would be the best we can do.

Kids and Genealogy

At our CVGS meeting yesterday, one of the attendees asked the question: "How can we involve kids in genealogy and family history?" He is tutoring middle school kids and some of them seemed interested, or at least curious about it, and he told them that "hunting for ancestors is like being a family detective."

There are a number of books on this subject, and many magazine and online articles also. I found the article "Creating Future Genealogists, Suggestions and Resources" by Mindi Stevens in the May/June 2007 issue of Everton's Genealogical Helper that addresses this question directly, and provided an excellent list of methods of engagement, movies, internet links and a bibliography. The article quotes from these books:

* Ira Wolfman, "Climbing Your Family Tree," New York, Workman Pub. Co., 2002.

* David Weitzman, "My Backyard History Book," Covelo CA, Yolla Bolly Press, 1975.

There are 13 hits in the Ancestry Learning Center using the keyword "kids", including (these are all free to view, by the way):

* "Encouraging Future Family Historians" by Juliana Smith

* "More Genealogy for Kids" by Michael John Neill

* "Getting Kids Hooked on Genealogy" by Barbara Krasner-Khait

Our society colleague said that the word that made the teens pay attention was "detective." That sounds like fun, and if you combine it with "family history detective" and tell stories about your own life or the lives of grandparents or earlier ancestors, you may hold their interest long enough to ask them if they know any family stories or know who their great-grandparents were.

What other words might be helpful in stimulating interest in children and young adults? "sleuth" "hunt" "hunter" "investigator" "digger" "explorer" - those can be combined with words like "genealogy" "roots" "family" "ancestor" "ancestry" to create terms that kids might relate to.

The Mindi Stevens article notes two myths that need to be overcome - that genealogy is only for old people, and that it is boring. Her articles addresses these issues and suggests ways to involve young people in genealogy. Her devious methods of engagement include scrapbooking, talking about family skeletons and traditions, vacations and trips to ancestral homes, ancestry of famous people, collections and heirlooms, etc. She also has a list of family history oriented movies, from Disney's "Tigger" to "Roots" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" and many more.

What has worked for you to get children and youth interested in family history and genealogy? What has your local society done? What other books, articles or web sites do you recommend?

Monday, September 24, 2007

"Reunions" talk at CVGS today

We had our monthly "last Monday" Chula Vista Genealogical Society meeting today at the library. The speaker was John Finch, the CVGS past president, on the topic of "Reunions."

John has participated in several family and military reunions, and has organized a family reunion and a class reunion in the last 7 years. His talk used a Powerpoint presentation with good graphics. He started out with four panels from the Cathy comic strip which ran this past summer - they were funny and appropriate for the topic.

He discussed the three major types of reunions - family, class and military. John spent quite a bit of time discussing how to find information on the Internet about how to organize and execute a reunion. His recommendations were:

* Class Reunions: Events and Reunions tab provides a step-by-step process to create an event (you probably need to have an account, they're free).
* Family Reunions: has a comprehensive format to guide you and has ideas for family history and genealogy in the planning here.
* Military Reunions: has excellent resources for planning this type of reunion here.

Finding the people that make up the class, family or military unit can be a challenge. John used and to find classmates. He used the Navy Fleet Reserve Association and the Military Locator and Reunion Services to find former military personnel. For the hard-to-find folks, he subscribed for a period of time to and used the Public Records Index at

The rest of John's talk was about selecting a date, finding a location. announcing and publicizing the event, selecting dining, activities and entertainment, deciding on souvenirs and memorabilia, and coordinating with the selected site.

All in all, this talk was interesting and helpful, especially if someone wants to plan and execute a reunion. John's experience, and comments about his planning activities, were evident and useful.

My thanks to John for making a wonderful presentation. Our 80 member society tries to encourage presentations by our own members, and we usually have 3 or 4 different member presenters each year. It keeps the costs down and also provides an outlet for presentation experience and improvement.

Della's Journal - Week 39 (September 24-30, 1929)

This is Installment 39 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 39:


Tuesday, September 24: I picked figs 20 lbs sold 15 to Mrs. Witts 75c. A man came to look at Ma's house. I rode out with them. They looked at the place, went to see others, came back & took it @ $18. We pay water. I painted wall & cleaned carpet. He brought me home & A[ustin]'s tools. Pd for 1 mo[nth] his name is Hariss, Sep 24 to Oct 24, his wife will be down Thurs. We took down cucumber vines. Letter from Blanch.

Wednesday, September 25: I went to town, paid A[ustin]'s dues. Water (our) $2.80, got lamp $8.45 for 2119 30th & 2 rugs $2.50, curtains $0.45, Spoons $1.35, Ma's Brets (?) 0.25, rings 0.10, rod 0.05, towel road 0.10, chopping bowl 30c.

Thursday, September 26: We washed. Sold 13 lb figs.

Friday, September 27: A[ustin] commences vacation. I picked 14 lb figs, sold 10 lbs. We Ironed.

Saturday, September 28: In afternoon I rode out with Lyle's. He had never been to Murray Dam so they went there. He got some Plumbs & Doughnuts on the way home. Lyle's last Sat[urday] off. A[ustin] put Fertilizer on E[ast] lawn.

Sunday, September 29: We did not go any place. Lyle's put in New Lawn in where they took roses out. Betty practiced on water color painting on Poinsettia leaves. Miss Thoren's Sister came from L.A. to visit her a few days.

Monday, September 30: Picked Figs 21 lbs, sold most of them.


This was pretty much a fig-picking week. As I recall, it was a large tree in the yard between Austin and Della's two story house at 2115 30th Street and the garage of Lyle and Emily's house at 2130 Fern Street. When the 2130 Fern Street house was sold in 1951, the fig tree was fenced off by the new owner, Mr. Phillips. As a boy of 7, I was upset that I couldn't go pick figs any more off the tree, or go explore, find bugs and reptiles, and play in the lath house and green house that was part of the property.

I'm surprised that my grandfather, Lyle Carringer, had not been to Murray Dam. He loved to drive places just to see them and take pictures of them. I'm sure that he had been all over most of the San Diego County roads west of the desert. Perhaps the dam was new in 1929? Murray Dam is just north of Mission Valley and just west of 70th Street. The dam collects watered drained from Cowles Mountain, a landmark 1,500 foot mountain, about three miles north of the lake, that can be seen from all over San Diego.

Plums and doughnuts? That's an interesting food combination, but I can see that it could work for my grandfather. Is that where my sweet tooth came from?

Other than this, there was really not much news for this week.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Best of the Genea-Blogs: Week of September 16, 2007

Here is my short list of the "best" posts from the genealogy blogs that I read (my list in Bloglines is up to 180) for the week of September 16-22. My criteria are pretty loose - I pick those that are important to me as a researcher or a blogger, are helpful or are funny. They are in no particular order:

* "Interfacing With NFS - Part One" by Renee Zamora on her Renee's Genealogy Blog. This post describes how New FamilySearch (NFS) is coordinating with several software developers so that the software can query the New FamilySearch databases.

* "A New Genealogical Project: HARP" by Craig Manson on his Geneablogie blog. This describes Craig's new project - the Historical Appellate Review Project (HARP) - to investigate historical cases of ne'er do well ancestors and judge if they deserve a historical pardon or not.

* "Ancestry, Don't Miss the Train - Part 1" on the Ancestry Insider blog has good advice for about communicating with researchers. This is the first of a multi-part series.

* "Funny Genealogy: My Fam Can-Can" by Janice Brown on her Cow Hampshire blog. This post challenged genea-bloggers to demonstrate their humor gene, and a whole lot of us did! Janice has the list.

* "Poland, A Holocaust Mystery UPDATE" by Schelly Talalay Dardashti on her Tracing the Tribe blog. This post refers to an AP story about a girl who discovers a photo album with pictures from World War II. Moving. Sad. A challenging research project.

* "... and tenderly kissed the picture..." on the how to survive suburban life blog. I enjoy reading articles like this from this Hungarian expatriate now living in British Columbia. She is such a good writer and we get to know her Hungarian and Canadian families, all by their nicknames!

* "Where Will Your Stuff Go?" by Michael John Neill on his blog. This is something we all have to face at some time - how do we keep what's important, share with our families, and let go of the rest?

* " 'An Impetuosity in his Temper' But 'An Honest Rectitude': Jonathan Dayton at the Constitutional Convention" by Tim Abbott at his Walking the Berkshires blog. This is a wonderful biography of an obscure and important patriot.

That's my short list for this week. If I've missed a "great one" please let me know.

It's been a bad day here in the Genea-cave: my Chargers lost this morning, my Padres lost this afternoon, the dinner out was poor, and when we got home my car had two flat tires (neighbor kids?). Tomorrow is our CVGS meeting so I probably won't be able to blog until late afternoon.