Saturday, November 10, 2007

What records should be added to WorldVitalRecords?

Paul Allen gave a talk in Salt Lake City to the local Association of Professional Genealogists chapter and then blogged about it - his post is here. He took a survey at the start of the talk - did they want to hear about the early history of or did they want to hear about the future of genealogy? Everyone voted for the latter, but he talked a bit about Ancestry/MyFamily anyway. Then he talked about the future, especially of He covered some of his thoughts in his blog post.

The most interesting part of his post is:

"We [WorldVitalRecords] will do some digitizing and indexing but it will be small in relation to these other organizations who make this their primary business. Our fundamental approach is to partner with content providers worldwide and to enable our customers to find records in their databases, whether we host them or not. ... Our business model is built on paying substantial royalties to content owners."

He also said that there is one seat on their Board of Directors reserved for an "industry expert." He suggested that there could be a "Genealogy Idol" series on Roots Television to select that person - one candidate gets voted off every week.

He ended with this:

"Anyway, in the coming weeks it will become more clear what place World Vital Records hopes to fill in the family/genealogy community, and how we will differentiate our products and services from those that are currently offered by the leading online genealogy companies.

"If you are into genealogy, I invite you to give me a list of the top 5 things you would do if you were running World Vital Records. I’m very interested in hearing from you. (But be careful–if your suggestions are too good, you might get recruited by the genealogy community to fill an open board seat!)"

Well now, that certainly is blog fodder for some of us, isn't it? I'll jump in:

1) STATE VITAL RECORDS. As many as possible. doesn't have them all. Nobody has them all in one place online. The LDS has the best "collection" available to researchers but they're on microfilm. Births, marriages and deaths from as many states as possible over as wide a range as possible. Consider partnering with state vital records offices to digitize them, provide searchable databases and host the databases.

2) VITAL RECORDS IN OTHER COUNTRIES: Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Mexico, Caribbean, Latin America, Australia, Scandinavia, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, etc. Partner with governments, genealogy and historical societies, churches, etc.

3) BIBLE RECORDS and OTHER FAMILY PAPERS: The DAR, NGS and other genealogical/historical societies have collections of these either online, on microfilm, in publications or moldering away in society file cabinets and garages. There are some online on web sites and blogs. Many local societies have "vertical files" of papers submitted by members or their estates. Organize local genealogy societies to find, collect, digitize and publish them.

4) COLLECTIONS OF PEDIGREE CHARTS: Many local genealogy societies have books chock full of pedigree charts submitted by members. My small society (80 members) has four books of them - maybe 200 charts. It's another project that could be organized for local genealogy societies to digitize and publish them. WVR did this with the large Everton collection - a good job!

5) CLEARING HOUSE FOR VITAL RECORDS: A one-stop shop for every country, every state, every county. Provide a list of what records are available on any media - paper, microfilm, online database, etc. Provide links to available online records (even to LDS and other commercial companies). Tell what is available on microfilm. Provide links to vital records offices for those unavailable on media.

There's my fave five. I'm pretty sure that WVR is considering things like these already. I hope so - they have smart leadership.

Read Paul's entire post - it touches on a lot of interesting topics. I can hardly wait to hear what the 12 mistakes that Ancestry made after he left them. Likewise, I'm interested in his vision for WorldVitalRecords and for the future of genealogy.

Shoot - never mind - I'm embarrassed by my lack of real vision - I make that list above and find out, by reading Paul's blog over the last year, that WVR is doing most of those things. Here are Paul's goals for 2007 - revealing. Oh well, a small mind on a small blog. That's why he's rich and famous and I'm stuck on 200 readers a day.

What do you think? Tell Paul - he wants to know! But read his blog first. Post your comments on his post here.

Nobody went to the Party?

They held a blog party, er, an exposition, called BlogWorldExpo in Las Vegas this week. Thousands of bloggers showed up - I guess no genealogy blogger attended. Too bad. It would have been fun. Rubbing elbows with the "big boys and girls." Seminars, forums, talks, parties, dinners, arguments, sharing, etc.

I guess it would have been even funnier if only one Genea-blogger had attended - a party of one. Were any genea-bloggers invited or even aware of BlogWorldExpo? I knew about it because of who I mindlessly listen to on the radio while concentrating on genealogy in the Genea-Cave.

A smart NGS or FGS conference planner might want to organize a "meet-and-greet" or even have a conference track (well, maybe one talk?) about genealogy blogging in 2008. While our numbers are small, our influence is migh..., um, pretty small too. Well, except for the "corporate" genea-bloggers who actually do it while making a living doing genealogy.

But we have a lot of fun in our little blog world, don't we? "Talking" and sharing with our audience of 100 or so visitors each day (some may even return, some are on the MTA ( another song to write lyrics too perhaps? down Randy)).

See y'all next year at the BlogWorldExpo!! Our little group can sit at a corner table, share some drinks, food and family stories and watch the arguments between the prog/con, Win/Mac, and God/athe bloggers. Maybe they'll even have "ultimate fighting" battles next year!

Friday, November 9, 2007

You Learn Something New Every Day

When you're working on genealogy and family history nearly every day, and often for hours on each day, you should strive to learn something new each day.

Today was a frustrating genealogy day for me. I had the day all planned. We received a query last month asking for cemetery information on three people, and then a request for death certificates for these three people, who all died in the 1930's. I had to wait until I got the money in hand to pay for them as a sound financial measure (having been burned in the past!). I received the money on Monday last, and so I planned to go to the San Diego County Clerk's office branch here in Chula Vista to order the death certificates.

My previous experience at the County clerk's office getting death certificates has been great - it takes about 5 minutes to ask for it and about 10 minutes to get it, you pay $12 and walk out happy as a clam. I've done that at least 10 times in the past 5 years. Never a problem.

Today - a problem. Because the deaths occurred in the 1930's, two of the records were not on the county computer system. The clerk had to call to the main office in San Diego and have the records pulled from the paper files, copied, and then faxed to the Chula Vista office. One of the faxed copies was not dark enough - you could hardly see the typewritten information in many fields. The second one was dark enough, but the clerk could not figure out how to get the "For Information Only" overlaid on the certificate. The third one was in the system and I received the certificate. Her recommendation was to go down to the San Diego office and they would be able to give me the two certificates. This process took an hour instead of 15 minutes, throwing off my whole schedule for the day.

While I was waiting, I "played" with the public computer system at the County Clerk's office. Their system has categories of Assessor and Taxpayers, Real Estate Index, Marriage Records (1973-2007) and Death Records (1905-2007). I managed to find the names of the owners of all of the houses on our street, plus the assessed value and the property tax on each property. Now I know more of my neighbors names!

In the Marriage Records (1973-2007), the information contains only the names of the bride and groom and the date - no ages, birthplaces, location of marriage, etc. There are marriage records for 1960 to 1985 on, and at the LDS FHCs on microfiche, but this is the first time I've seen marriages after 1985 anywhere. Good! I learned something new there.

To see the Death Records (1905-2007), they require that you fill out a form in order to see them. In the future, this may be a good way to find recent deaths, since and databases are from 1940 to 1997, and the Vitalsearch records are for 1905-1939 and 1940-2000. Again, I learned something. I should have filled out the form, I guess, to see what information could be obtained, but the clerk called me to give me the good news about my certificates.

I went to Costco for lunch, then met my friend to go walking, but he couldn't go. So I went to the library for 10 minutes and came home early. Scanning was the time-spender this afternoon.

Family Tree Magazine, January 2008 TOC

The latest issue of Family Tree Magazine came this week in the mail.

The Table of Contents includes:


* "Ladies First" by Lisa Alzo - page 22. Use these eight research strategies and nine key sources to trace your female ancestors.

* "Software Test Kitchen" by Allison Stacy - page 30. How does your software compare to the competition? Our test panel's reviews reveal how four popular family tree programs rate with genealogists like you.

* "That's Entertainment" by Lisa Alzo - page 46. Did your ancestor star in theater, vaudeville or even ther circus? Follow these six steps to spotlight performers in your pedigree.

* "Social Climbing" by Rick Crume - page 52. Social networking Web sites are the hottest new trend in online genealogy. Learn what they can do for you - and pick a service that meets your needs - with our guide.

* "Ancestors of the Caribbean" by David Fryxell - page 58. Bring your island heritage ashore with this compilation of tips and resources.


* "Branching Out" by Diane Haddad - page 10. What's new in discovering, preserving and celebrating your family history.

* "State Research Guides" - page 37. Pullout guides for Alabama and Nevada.

* "The Toolkit" by Allison Stacy - page 74. Reviews and roundups of the latest, greatest family history resources.

You can see more detail on these articles and the department articles at They also have all of the web links mentioned in the magazine as a PDF here.

The software article covered only FamilyTreeMaker, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic and The Master Genealogist. However, they have a web extra with reviews about all 15 programs (10 Windows programs, 5 Mac programs) that were evaluated here. The review for each program goes to a Family Tree Magazine forum article about each piece of software. They did a nice job with this.

I found the "Ladies First" and "Software Test Kitchen" articles to be informative and helpful. If someone has Caribbean ancestry, the "Ancestors of the Caribbean" would be very helpful. I haven't found a circus performer (or worse) in my ancestry and the Social Networking stuff doesn't really excite me yet. Different strokes for different folks, eh?

More Genealogy-related songs

After my semi-futile attempts at writing lyrics that "honor" genealogy and searching for family history, Bill West has written lyrics called "Wests in New England" to Barry Manilow's song "Weekend in New England" music. Great job - I especially love the sound of the National Genealogical Fluteaphone Orchestra!

There are real songs that talk about genealogy, family trees and family history. Some of them include (title and artist, not the lyricist I think):

"Family Tree" by Loretta Lynn

"Let Her Fly" by Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette

"Family Reunion" by the O'Jays

"Here We Are" by Jimmy Buffett

"Heirlooms" by Amy Grant

"Paradise" by John Denver

"I'm the End of the Family Line" by Morrissey.

"In My Family" by Sparks

"Going Home for Christmas" by Steven Curtis Chapman

"Thanksgiving Day" by Ray Davies

"Grandma's Feather Bed" by John Denver

Amazingly, I haven't heard any of these songs, to my knowledge!

The classic song is, of course, "I am My Own Grandpa" which has a YouTube video here. had a music video two months ago called "Family Tree" by the Crisptones Band - excellent!

I know there are lots more - what are they? I'm limited by my imagination in picking key words. Tell me and I'll add them to the list. Or do like Bill West did, take an existing melody and write your own song - blog about it or put it in comments here. I'll post a list.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

SDGS Program on 11/10 - DNA Research

The San Diego Genealogical Society meeting is Saturday, 10 November at 12 noon at St. Andrews Lutheran Church located at 8350 Lake Murray Blvd (at Jackson drive) in San Diego. The meeting is in the hall to the north of the parking lot.

The program speaker will be John R. Carpenter on two topics:

12:10 PM: "DNA Research: Haplogroups, Y-DNA and MtDNA"

1:15 PM: "Famous and Other DNA"

The program summary reads:

"Are you using DNA in your family research? Do you know what it can, and can't do, to help you find your ancestors? Come and learn how to take your research into the 21st century.

"Find out about the DNA of some famous and infamous people. See DNA comparisons from ancient to modern times. Are Neanderthal and Humans related? How do Chimpanzees compare? Learn how scientists can extract DNA from scattered and damaged sources."

The speaker profile reads:

"John R. Carpenter has been involved in his ancestral quest for almost 30 years. His fourth great-grandfather, Samuel Carpenter was in the Revolutionary War. He has assisted the SAR in collecting Carpenter research material for the SAR Library. In 2001 he published a Carpenter Family CD of over 88,000 names. A noted lecturer, he recently spoke at the DAR Southern California Conference.

"John became involved in Y-DNA research after a Carpenter Conference in 2002. He is currently involved in Carpenter Family research program with other serious and dedicated researchers. He is the Administrator of the Carpenter Cousins Y-DNA Project and has written articles on genealogy and on Y-DNA. He is a member of ISOGG - the International Society of Genetic Genealogy. John has four daughters and five grandchildren."

Copied from the San Diego Genealogical Society Newsletter for November 2007.

Note that the SDGS newsletters since April 2004 are on the SDGS web site at Peter Steelquist does an excellent job of providing society news and genealogy tips and techniques in this newsletter. I am a member of SDGS.

The Best Day of My Life

Terry Thornton in his blog post "Photo Challenge" asked his fellow genea-bloggers and H.O.G.S. Bloggers to post one of the "defining" photographs of your life and to explain why you are all dressed up in a costume as an adult.

Being the rather staid fellow that I am, and thankful that there weren't cameras on hand (to my knowledge) when I dressed up as a woman on Hallowe'en one year (well, maybe two), I searched my photo archives for pictures to post.

I decided on this one, taken 21 March 1970, which I consider to be the very best day of my life.

You can see why - isn't she beautiful? After 37 years, she still is beautiful, and the most caring, friendly and fun person I know.

To Terry's question: I am dressed this way because this was a traditional church wedding and reception in the church hall.

The five things that I remember well from the day are:

* I left Linda's two-pence coin at the apartment - and it delayed the wedding about 20 minutes for me to go back for it.

* During our vows, the pastor said "Linda, do you take this man as your lawful wedded wife?" and she broke up laughing. I didn't catch it, of course...

* At the reception, when we cut the cake, she smeared cake all over my face. I only got it in her veil.

* When Linda's brother was driving us to the airport, he ran over a box spring on the roadway and the car got stuck. The three guys lifted the car up and dragged it out.

* When we got to the airport near Los Angeles airport, we had a midnight champagne toast in our room. The rest is history!

This certainly was a "defining" moment in my life. From this decision - this time - have flowed home, food, love, happiness, babies, church, vacations, sports, friends, grandchildren, and family history.

There ARE things that happen in a second that take a lifetime to explain!

I'm not using Vista, are you?

I'm still using Microsoft Windows XP - not Windows Vista, or Linux.

Here is a funny (if you're not using Vista, or are not a Microsoft fan) video about using Microsoft Vista -

Warning - don't click if you're offended by the 7 words not used on broadcast media.

If you are a Vista user, I'm interested in how accurate this is!

Connecting the Dots

The theory behind "The Mother of All Genealogy Databases" (MOAGD) that was in the news in September was that "everyone will share their genealogy data and be able to connect the dots to earlier generations and create one big database containing all of the families that ever lived."

Two recent emails concerning my Seaver database illustrate both the possibility and improbability of this hoped-for MOAGD.

In the first email, a distant Seaver cousin was excited to find my Seaver family genealogy reports on my web site. He found his great-grandfather listed, and emailed me with data on the later families. I, in turn, made a genealogy report with more information on his Seaver line that included his updated information. In this case, the system worked well - my info helped him, his helped me, we're both pleased with the result. In the ideal world, this is how the MOAGD would work - someone would connect the dots with documented information.

In the second email, my correspondent had seen the Seaver data on my web site but did not find her earliest known Seaver male, Adam Seaver (1811-1889) - an appropriate name, eh? Adam was born in NY, moved to IL and IA, and died in KS. I looked in my Seaver database - but I don't have him included. I have heard of him before from when I was doing my Seaver census collection project. So I checked the Ancestry historical records, family trees and publications/stories. There was one family tree with some information and descendants - created by the person who wrote me. The census records for 1840 to 1880 for Adam Seaver are complete - 6 kids, 2 wives. That matches the family tree data (which probably the same sources). But I still can't place Adam as a child with a set of parents. I looked in the counties where Adam Seaver lived, especially in New York, but did not find any other families with the Seaver (and variants?) surname in the 1840 and earlier censuses. I input Adam and his family data into my Seaver database so that I have it available next time someone asks. It's a brick wall for now.

The only way the "parents of Adam Seaver" problem will be solved is if there are land, tax, or probate records in the places he resided that identify his parents, siblings, or his previous location. The state of online genealogy does not include records like these yet. They might in the future - when the LDS digitizes and indexes these records. The only way for my correspondent to "connect the dots" in this case is to find the pertinent records, if they exist, on LDS microfilm or in courthouse files.

By the way, Adam's wives names were Nancy and Louisa. Adam has a long list of descendants who are proud of their ancestor's life and accomplishments. Unfortunately, Adam's parentage and ancestral lines have not been found yet.

This last example shows the problem with the MOAGD concept - a significant number of ancestral lines have this "connecting the dots" problem - the evidence is hiding in unindexed and hard to find records. Even with exhaustive searching in repositories for all records, many "brick wall" genealogy problems are not solved because there is not enough information, or there are conflicts between different records. My educated guess is that perhaps 40 to 60% of all ancestral lines end up like this - a person born in the 1770-1840 time frame with as-yet unknown parents.

What say you? Is the MOAGD possible?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"Searching" by Randy

Lyrcs by Randy Seaver
(sung to the tune of "Searchin'" by the Coasters (1958))

(Gonna find 'em,)
(Gonna find 'em.)

I've been searching, un-huh,
Searching all my ti-ime a-way.
Looking for Thomas J. Newton,
I know I'll find him some day.

(Gonna find 'em,)
(Gonna find 'em.)

I've been searching, uh-huh,
Searching my time a-way.
Looking for Elizabeth Dill,
I know I'll find her some day.

If I have to walk a graveyard,
You know I will.
If I have to storm a library,
You know I will.
And if she's hiding up on Beacon Hill
I'm really gonna find her,
I just know I will.

Cause I've been searching,
Oh yeah, searching,
Searching my time away.

(Gonna find 'em,)
(Gonna find 'em.)

Elizabeth Shown Mills and
Arlene Eakle got nothing on me,
Christine Rose, Dick Eastman
And Megan Smolenyak, you see.
They can't find them either,
But I'm searching my life a-way.

I've been searching,
Searching all my time a-way.
I'm looking for William Knapp,
I know I'll find him some day.

I'm searching,
Oh yeah, searching.

(Gonna find 'em,)
(Gonna find 'em.)

I've been searching, uh-huh,
Searching my time a-way.
I'm looking for Cornelia Bresee,
I know I'll find her some day.

No matter where they're hiding,
They'll see me coming down the street.
Looking for all my Ancestors
Still hiding well from me.

I'm still searching,
Oh Lord, searching,
Searching my time away.
Yeah, Yeah.

But I'm like those genealogists,
who look in every place,
Trying to find records
It's a very long race.

I'm searching, uh-huh,
Searching my life away.

(Gonna find 'em,)
(Gonna find 'em.)

Really? When? Where? How?
Oh baby, you know what I want.

The words in parentheses are background singers. The lyrics don't match the music exactly, but what the heck. You get the idea. I wish I could sing. We could have a ball at a conference singing genealogy lyrics to old rock songs, eh?

My Grandfather, Frederick W. Seaver (1876-1942)

Frederick Walton Seaver was born 9 October 1876 in Leominster, MA, the son of Frank Walton and Hattie Louise (Hildreth) Seaver. He grew up in Leominster with his parents and brother, Howard. The family lived at what is now 149 Lancaster Street in Leominster.

Fred married Alma Bessie Richmond (1882-1962), the daughter of Thomas and Julia (White) Richmond, on 18 June 1900 in Leominster, MA. The picture below is of Fred and Bess before their wedding day.

After his marriage, the Frederick Walton Seaver family lived for a short time in Leominster MA at 149 Lancaster Street (with his parents and grandmother Hildreth), where their two oldest children were born. Fred was working in a comb-making factory in Leominster. In about 1905, he became a superintendent at another factory in Fitchburg. The family lived at 56 Linden Street there, where son Stanley was born. They bought a house at 116 Lawrence Avenue in Fitchburg where Ruth and Frederick were born, and the older children went to school at Highland Avenue School, then Maverick Street School, and finally Goddard Street School.

In the 1910 U.S. census, the Fred W. Seaver (it is indexed as Leaver in the census record) resided at 116 Lawrence Street in Fitchburg Ward 6, Worcester County, Massachusetts (1910 U.S. Census for Massachusetts, Worcester County, National Archives Microfilm Series T624, Roll 608, Page 193, Enumeration District 1745, Sheet 6B, dwelling #82, family #125, line 52). The family included:

* Fred W. Seaver -- head of household, male, white, age 33, married once, 10 years, born MA, father and mother born MA, speaks English, superintendent in a comb shop, a worker, owns home, with a mortgage, can read and write
* Bessie A. Seaver -- wife, female, white, age 28, married once, 10 years, 4 children, 4 living, born CT, father born England, mother born CT, speaks English, no occupation, can read and write
* Marion F. Seaver -- daughter, female, white, age 8, single, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, attends school
* Evelyn Seaver -- daughter, female, white, age 7, single, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, attends school
* Stanley R. Seaver -- son, male, white, age 4, single, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, attends school
* Ruth W. Seaver -- daughter, female, white, age 2, single, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, attends school
* James H. Richmond -- brother-in-law, male, white, age 23, single, born CT, father born England, mother born CT, speaks English, comb-maker, in a comb shop, a worker, 24 weeks out of work in 1909, can read and write

In about 1911, Fred was offered a position as superintendent at the Patton Manufacturing Company in Leominster, which made hairpins from celluloid material. The family moved to a large house on the factory site at 290 Central Street, where Edward and Geraldine were born. The house was on the main road from Leominster to Sterling and Worcester, with streetcar tracks in the middle of the road. There were several smaller buildings around the house - a barn which was used as a garage, chicken coops and rabbit hutches. A brook ran beside the house to the factory. The house was heated by warm air from the factory.

In the 1920 U.S. Census, the Frederick W. Seaver family resided at 290 Central Street in Leominster, Worcester County, Massachusetts (1920 U.S. Census for Massachusetts, National Archives Microfilm Series T625, Roll 747, Page 125, Supervisor District 3, Enumeration District 102, Sheet 14A, dwelling #175, family #288, line 1). The family included:

* Frederick W. Seaver -- head of household, male, white, age 42, married, born MA, father born MA, mother born MA, superintendent of a comb shop, a salaried worker, rents home, able to read, write and speak English
* Bessie R. Seaver -- wife, female, white, age 38, married, born CT, father born England, mother born CT, no occupation, able to read, write and speak English
* Marion F. Seaver -- daughter, female, white, age 18, single, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, attending school, able to read and write, and speak English
* Evelyn Seaver -- daughter, female, white, age 16, single, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, attending school, able to read and write, and speak English
* Ruth W. Seaver -- daughter, female, white, age 12, single, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, attending school, able to read and write, and speak English
* Frederick W. Seaver Jr. -- son, male, white, age 8, single, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, attending school, unable to read and write, able to speak English
* Edward R. Seaver -- son, male, white, age 6, single, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, attending school, unable to read and write, able to speak English
* Geraldine Seaver -- daughter, female, white, age 2, single, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, unable to read and write, unable to speak English

During the 1920's, Fred and Bess bought a cottage on the shore of Whalom Lake, between Leominster and Fitchburg. The family spent summer weekends there. Vacations were taken at Cape Cod on occasion.

In about 1927, the owner of the Patton Manufacturing Company, Barney Doyle, sold the factory to the Dupont Company, and the site closed on Central Street. Fred moved to the main plant in Leominster, and was superintendent of the toothbrush division there until his retirement. The family bought a house at 20 Hall Street in Leominster.

In the 1930 US Census, the Fred W. Seaver family resided at 20 Hall Street in Leominster, Worcester County, Massachusetts. The household included (1930 US Census for Massachusetts, Worcester County, National Archives Microfilm Series T626, Roll 964, ED 226, page 3A):

* Fred W. Seaver -- head, own home, worth $5,000, owns a radio set, male, white, age 52, married, first at age 25, can read and write, born MA, father and mother born MA, speaks English, superintendent in a celluloid company
* Alma B. Seaver -- wife, female, white, age 48, married, first at age 18, can read and write, born CT, father born England, mother born RI, speaks English
* Ruth W. Seaver -- daughter, female, white, age 22, single, can read and write, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, speaks English, teacher in a public school
* Frederick W. Seaver -- son, male, white, age 18, single, can read and write, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, speaks English
* Edward R. Seaver -- son, male, white, age 16, single, can read and write, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, speaks English
* Geraldine Seaver -- daughter, female, white, age 12, single, attends public school, can read and write, born MA, father born MA, mother born CT, speaks English

The picture below is Fred Seaver taken probably in the 1930's.

During the Depression, Fred took a cut in pay at Dupont, and the bank foreclosed on the house. The family moved to an apartment on West Street in downtown Leominster.

Fred Seaver retired at age 65, and died shortly thereafter, on 13 March 1942, of prostate cancer at the home of his daughter, Evelyn Wood, in Andover MA. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Leominster with his wife Bess and their first son, Stanley Richmond Seaver who died in 1910.

"Ge-ne-al-o-gy" by Randy

lyrics by Randy Seaver
Sung to the music of "Surfin' USA"
by the Beach Boys (1962 - what memories!):

"Since everybody has a family
Across the USA
Then everybody be searching
for family histor-a.

"You'll see me in graveyards,
And in libraries too,
A white beard and sparse hairdo,
it's genealogy.

"Catchin' ancestors in Boston,
San Francisco C A,
Philly and Chicago,
and Washington D C.

"All over New England
And down Carolina way,
Everybody's gone searchin'
Family history.

"I'm still planning the road trip,
I'm gonna take next year,
Sprucing up my pedigree,
Finding stories to share.

"I'll be gone for the summer,
Seeing cousins and friends,
Tell my wife I'm researchin'
my genealogy.

"Wiltshire and Somerset,
Scotland and Ireland too,
Stockholm, Oslo, and Voss,
Toronto and Waterloo.

"All over the world,
And on the Internet too,
Everybody's gone searchin'
their genealogy.

"Everybody's gone searchin'
for family history."

I hope my cousin Brian Wilson doesn't mind.

Be Careful with Indexes in Ancestry

The key feature that makes and other commercial web sites so valuable are the Indexes. Without them, we would be reading handwriting on page images just like we did with microfilm images in years past. The Indexes on genealogy web sites have many excellent features - wild cards, many search fields, exact or Soundex searches, etc. They significantly raise the odds of finding the information that we are searching for.

However, sometimes there are flaws in the indexes, or in the data indexed. I pointed out flaws in the California Death Indexes here some time ago. Now I have found another.

Ancestry has a database called "Indiana Marriage Collection, 1800-1941." The Ancestry source description of this database says:

" Indiana Marriage Collection, 1800-1941 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data:
* Works Progress Administration, comp. Index to Marriage Records Indiana: Indiana Works Progress Administration, 1938-1940.
* Jordan Dodd, Liahona Research, comp. Electronic transcription of marriage records held by the individual counties in Indiana. Many of these records are on microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah."

One of my colleagues was looking for a marriage of Benjamin Reynolds to Cerilda Flinn in Indiana in the 1860's. If he goes directly to this database (which is a logical thing to do), he gets the following results:

* If he searches for the name as "Benjamin" and "Reynolds" - he gets 7 matches, but none to Cerilda Flinn.

* If he searches for the name as "Benj" and "Reyn" - he gets 9 matches, but none to Cerilda Flinn.

* If he searches for the name as "Ben" and "Rey" - he gets the 10 matches, but none to Cerilda Flinn.

* If he searches for "B" and "Rey" - he gets 82 matches, but none to Cerilda Flinn.

* If he searches for "Cerilda" and "Flinn" - he gets 1 match for Cerilda J. Flinn married to Benjamin J. Reynolds on 22 Sep 1867 in Crawford County IN. The same match comes up if he uses wild cards for Cerilda.

* If he leaves the names blank and searches for the Spouse name of "Benj*" and "Reyn*" - he gets 10 matches including the one who married Cerilda Flinn.

But if he didn't know Cerilda's given name, or surname, he would have missed out on this information. Before this search, he thought the name was Sirelda from another record. The Soundex search does not find the record with a given name of "Sirelda" because it works only on the surname. [As a side note, there are 31 "Cerilda" entries in this index! I've never heard the name before.]

I found this record just by happenstance. I put "Ben*" and "Reyn*" in the search box on the Ancestry main Search page. That gave me a long list of matches in different databases. When I clicked on the "Indiana Marriage Collection, 1800-1941" link, I found the record quickly. The search found the spouse's name in this search.

It is evident that the search box results for this specific database only finds the name in the "Name" column, not the "Spouse" column. The main Ancestry Search box finds both. I don't know if this holds for all databases or just this one. I tried more spouse's names in the database search box, and while many resulted in matches, some did not - I'm guessing 5% to 10% did not show up as a match.

The lessons here are:

* The Ancestry main search box may provide more matches than the specific database search box.

* Not all names of persons in a specific database are found by a search using "Given Name" and "Last Name" searches.

* In this specific database, some names of spouses are not included in the "Name" database - they apparently were not indexed.

* Searches in specific databases should include not only the search in the given name and last name boxes but should consider putting the target name in the "Spouse's Name" fields if that is available.

Is this's fault? Maybe not, if they took the database from other sources (see above). Perhaps the WPA list did not include the name(s) missing from the "Name" column.

I am so spoiled by the availability of these databases with excellent indexes and search capabilities. If I don't find someone after I use all of my "tricks" to find them in an index, I often will assume that they aren't there. On census records, I have resorted to using spouse names when known, but I haven't used them on vital records indexes and other databases previously. I will now!

We need to remember that "Pobody is Nerfect." Not you, me, Ancestry, web sites, other researchers, etc.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Scanning a Photo Album

I've spent a good part of the day scanning individual photographs from my Aunt Gerry's collection. My goal is to provide a CDROM for my cousins with her photograph collection for Christmas. I have a good start on the loose photographs. I'm saving them as TIF files at 300 dpi and trying to label them by subject-date-location as best I can in the file name (which I can change easily later). Hopefully, I can put real captions on them digitally

There are a few "new photos" for me - here is a picture of Gerry and her mother Bess getting off the train in San Diego just before my parents wedding in July 1942. From the left, the people are Lyle Carringer, Emily Carringer, Fred Seaver (my father), Dorothy Chamberlain (my father's cousin), Gerry Seaver (beaming at brother Fred), Bess (Richmond) Seaver (Fred and Gerry's mother), and Betty Carringer (my mother). Look at Fred's suit and the hats on all of the ladies - times have changed, haven't they?

My next problem is the photo album. It is a "magnetic album" with many photos pasted down and a clear sheet over them. The pasted down photos won't come off, of course, and I'm not going to try. Some photos overlap others. The clear sheet can be raised enough that I can get the pages down on the face of the scanner.

The album has a comb binding, so the pages can lay almost flat. My plan is to lay each page of the album on the scanner flatbed and scan the whole page and save it. Then I hope to use the photo editor to select each individual photo off the image of the album page one at a time and save them individually. There are many photos in this album without captions or dates, and I'm just going to identify them as "album-page01-photo001" unless I know who they are. There are about 16 pages in the album.

Has anyone done this sort of thing before? Any advice?

My next problem will be using software to caption the photos that I have. What do you recommend? I have Picasa and Microsoft digital Imaging on my computer and don't really want to buy more software. I've seen photos online with captions and labels and tags, but am confused by what there is and what would be best. What would work best on a CDROM with a PDF format or in a Powerpoint slide show? What do you recommend?

AncestryPress Webinar available

An AncestryPress webinar (WEB semINAR) was held on 1 November 2007. The webinar can be viewed by clicking the link at the AncestryPress blog post here - it's down at the bottom of the post by Stephanie Condie - a link labelled "clicking here." This webinar presentation will be available until 31 January 2008. You can download the presentation slides as a PDF file. The link to the summary page that starts the presentation, and the presentation itself, are not able to be copied.

AncestryPress books are described in the presentation as:

"Ancestry’s brand new online self-publishing application presents new ways to preserve, share and give your family’s history as a gift. It also presents plenty of new avenues to explore, and plenty of neat features to master. Please join us for a 30-minute online interactive presentation where you’ll learn how to:

* Build a book, or let AncestryPress build one for you from your online tree.
* Bring your book to life by adding photos, historical records, maps, postcards, newspaper clippings, family recipes and stories.
* Customize the look and feel of individual pages by choosing backgrounds and fonts and adding embellishments.
* Create custom family tree posters and photo pages that you can frame and share with everyone on your holiday gift list.

I posted about my AncestryPress experiences in "Using AncestryPress to Make a Book - Post 2.0" and "Using AncestryPress to Create a Book." I was not complimentary to the final product - it really didn't suit my needs. But I'm willing to be shown the error of my opinions...

The Webinar presentation is excellent. Stephanie Condie shows a beautiful coffee table type family history book with many family photos, some stock photos, document images, etc. Then she shows the process used to generate many of the pages. I can see how this product can be very useful as a family history book that provides significant information to living family members about their immediate ancestors for whom there are photographs.

They took several polls during the webinar where participants could respond to questions, and they showed the poll results a bit later. These charts are not in the downloadable presentation.

They took questions and answers in the last 15 minutes of the webinar. Stephanie said that the current format of the book could not word wrap from page to page - you have to build each page separately using cut-and-paste. That was my biggest complaint about AncestryPress, and I'm glad that she addressed it.

Another question concerned the four generation limitation for the charts and the book pages - they said that they were going to increase the number of generations eventually.

If AncestryPress is something you might be interested in, I encourage you to click the link in Stephanie's post and watch and listen to the presentation.

Should I add images to my FTM and Ancestry databases?

I'm a bit old fashioned sometimes in that I don't take advantage of the latest technological innovations immediately. I still don't have a cell phone, don't have a digital videocam, don't upload videos to my computer, etc.

I don't have any images in my genealogy databases. No family photos, no census images, no passenger list images, no vital records certificates, no Bible page images, etc. I do have lots of those items, but I haven't uploaded any of them into my databases currently in FamilyTreeMaker or into my Member Trees on Ancestry.

Why? Because my "Master" genealogy database is already up to about 20 megabytes. If I added, say 100 images, to that database it might grow to be 80 megabytes.

If I want to use something like FTM or AncestryPress to make a book, I would want to add images. Since I have images for the last 4 or 5 generations, perhaps I should make a smaller database with only 5 generations (perhaps 1,000 people at most) and upload images for those people.

In the past, I have made genealogy reports in word processing format and added photos and images to that word processing file, then saved them as a PDF or other document, printed them out, put them on CDs, etc. This has worked pretty well for me.

How have other researchers handled this problem? What are the benefits of adding photos and images to your genealogy databases in your computer and online? What are the drawbacks? What is the most effective way to share photos and document images with your family members? I would appreciate comments to this post, or a blog post in response, to help me deal with this issue. Are there articles or blog posts available on the Internet that discuss this issue?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Della's Journal - Week 45 (November 5-11, 1929)

This is Installment 45 of the Journal of Della (Smith) Carringer (1862-1944), 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 45:


Tuesday, November 5: A[ustin] went to the dentice. Betty did not go to school but no worse. I sent for Prosperity Bank to put in $4.50 so to renew My Unity and Wee Wisdom to Betty & Hazel from Ma for this Xmas Present.

Wednesday, November 6: Ma washed, I trimmed tree by clothes line. Betty went to school. I ironed in P.M. Emily got me two hats $2.00. Fred & Jessie called.

Thursday, November 7: I went down deposited $20. of Girls rent (took out $5), Pd 178.70 1st Instal= on Co tax on lots 8 & 9 & where Ed lives. Got two little tacks @ 10c each, Ma shoe strings 10c, book stamps 25c, & face powder 10c.

Friday, November 8: I told Mrs. Wilson that I could not rent to her next month. She said it was all right. Miss Thoren & I rode down to see parade for Fox Theartre.

Saturday, November 9: Ed over, we worked in yard, transplanted General McArthur rose, divided it into four, Ed too one, I set out three. I trimmed tree at N. corner of house. A[ustin] got his teeth Fri[day] paid $10. Gave Ed a $10 check. His grapes carried him two months.

Sunday, November 10: We did not go any place. Lyle's worked at home.

Monday, November 11: Armistice Day. Ma & I went down to see the Parade. It was nice. Then we walked down to Mrs. Shures. Came home on #7 street car. Lyle's went to the new Fox Theartre. Will Rodgers Picture. Said it was good & the new Theartre very nice.


This was a fairly un-newsworthy week. Della's already thinking about Christmas. They seem impressed by the new Fox Theater downtown (although Della can't spell it correctly). There has not been a word in the Journal about the stock market crash that occurred on 29 October 1929.

I wonder where Mrs. Shures lived? Perhaps north of Balboa Park. The #7 street car went up 12th Avenue pout of downtown onto Park Boulevard and then east on University Avenue. The #2 street car went east on Broadway out of downtown and then north on 30th Street. Della and her family lived right on the #2 street car route - I remember the tracks running down the middle of 30th when I was a boy.

The First Genealogical Wave?

Megan Smolenyak has been on a genealogy cruise with 350 genealogists, and has what she thinks is the "first genealogical wave" on video at Roots Television. When I heard this, I thought "wow - a wave came over the ship and engulfed a bunch of genealogists" ... then I thought maybe they had everybody lined up at the rail waving goodbye to Megan or Dick Eastman or whoever. Well, I was wrong - you can see the wave here.

It took me three tries to understand what these folks were saying - it appears to be "Holy Jeans."

Why in the world would they do the wave and yell that? You would think they would have said "Hail Megan" or "Yay Dick" or "The Master Genealogist Rules." But no, they said "Holy Jeans."

Aha! Maybe it was "holy genes" - perhaps they had just seen a presentation about Biblical genealogy, or royal genealogy research. Were they worshipping some person named Jean? Or Gene? Or maybe two Jeans?

Then again, maybe I didn't get the context right - maybe it was "Hole-y jeans" meaning jeans with holes in them. If so, whose were they? Stone-died? Tie-washed? Blue?

Strange video - only 3 seconds. They need a little more explanation for us landlubbing genealogists. At least nobody shot the camera the bird - but how could you tell, it was only three seconds of video. And no one flashed the camera-man - I checked.

Couldn't we do this at a conference or in a stadium also? Will there now be contests at genealogy conferences to see who can get the biggest group of genealogists to shout something for the GeneaTube people?

UPDATE 7 PM: OK, I knew all along it was"Wholly Genes" but I thought somebody would appreciate my lame attempts at humor. However, nobody laughed except to think to themselves "he doesn't get it." Or worse! Of course, who would call a software company "Wholly Genes?" Sounds like a teenagers clothing outlet. Don't let me get started again. Get thee down irony, out satire, begone wit. Genealogists are supposed to be earnest, balanced and upright folks. Well, some of us are so tummy heavy we can't be balanced and upright for long. And don't call me Earnest. Nurse! Nurse! My jacket please - yes, the one that ties in the back. They're coming to take me away, ho ho, hee hee, ... I need a good genealogy puzzle to get back on track here, I guess. Dunham will probably ask us to find Jack Bauer's third mother-in-law's second husband's grand-nephew's third grade teacher's name. I pick Mary. I think he makes the puzzles up, frankly.

William Hutchi(n)son (1745-1826) Family History - Post 2

William Hutchi(n)son (born ca 1745 NJ, died 1826 Ontario) has been one of my stoutest brick wall ancestors for many years. I found several references to him in the various books about Loyalists who settled in New Brunswick and Ontario, but had not found real "human interest" stories for the family history book.

My first post about my 5th great-grandfather William Hutchi(n)son is here.

Thanks to Bev Franks in her WorldConnect database, there are quite a few stories for me to pass on to the family. Here is one of the stories from: E.A. Owen, "Pioneer Sketches of Long Point Settlement," published by Briggs, Coates and Huestis. Wesley Buildings. Toronto, 1898. This is a series of historical sketches, genealogies and essays which tell the story of pioneer life in the early days of Long Point Settlement, and depict the character and life work of the first cabin-builders. Pages 207-210:

"A Jolly Pioneer":

"CAPTAIN WILLIAM HUTCHINSON was one of Walsingham's jolliest old U. E. Loyalist pioneers. At repartee he had no equal among them. If he was not an Irishman, he was certainly equal to one in the large vocabulary of witticisms which he was able to command at all times and on all occasions. He was a tobacco chewer, and on one occasion Squire Backhouse lectured him in court for it. The Squire was very much opposed to the habit, and he told Mr. Hutchinson that tobacco chewing was a nasty, dirty, filthy habit, and that he ought to be ashamed of himself for indulging in it. "Yes," rejoined Hutchinson, "it is a n-a-s-t-y, d-i-r-t-y, f-i-l-t-h-y habit, and I am ashamed of it, but, your honor, it is the only one of which you are not guilty."

"Captain Hutchinson's home was in New Jersey, that little state whence came so many of our old pioneers. When the war of the Revolution broke out he remained loyal, and allied himself with the British army and did some good work as a scout. His military services were varied; and many stories are told of thrilling adventures and narrow escapes experienced by him during the war. On one occasion a scouting party to which he was attached was pressed into close quarters by a strong detachment of the rebel forces. Under the spur of the moment they secreted themselves in a clump of bushes, and the enemy passed so close to them that they could actually look into their faces and hear every word they uttered while passing.

"William Hutchinson was a widower at the close of the war, and in common with all the U. E. Loyalists, he found it necessary either to leave the country or swear allegiance to the new Republic. The latter he could never do, and so he fled to St. John, New Brunswick, where he married his second wife. In 1798, he came to Long Point with his family, and settled in Walsingham, near the Hazen settlement. His family consisted of five sons--Alexander, James, David, Joseph and George; and three daughters--Mary Jane, Elizabeth and Catherine.

"William Hutchinson was sworn in as a Justice of the Peace, and sat on the Bench as Associate Justice in the early years of the old Quarter Sessions at Turkey Point. He sat as Judge, or Chairman, pro tem, at a session during the June term, 1804; and in March, 1809, he was elected Chairman of the Court, succeeding Thomas Walsh, Esq. In 1804, he was made Associate Justice for the
Court of Request for Walsingham, and was reappointed for the same position in the following year."


This book covers his RevWar exploits less than Part 1, but has more background on William's life in Walsingham in Norfolk County, Ontario. The article includes a description of the children of William and Catherine (Lewis) Hutchinson. I posted what it said about Mary Jane Hutchinson, one of my 4th great grandmothers, here.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Best of the Genea-Blogs - Week of October 28 to November 3

Here are my picks for great reads from the genealogy blogs for this past week. My criteria are pretty simple - I like posts that advance knowledge about genealogy, or are funny and/or poignant. I don't list posts destined for the Carnival of Genealogy, or my own posts (hopefully, others will do that!).

* "Using Ancestry: Census Searching Reminders" by Michael John Nell, posted on the 24/7 Family History Circle blog. Michael has excellent tips for finding your elusive ancestor in the census indexes on Read the comments too.

* "DNA Analysis of 5 People Who Helped Create America" by Blaine Bettinger on The Genetic Genealogist blog. Franklin, Jefferson, the Adams, Hamilton, and Lincoln DNAnalyzed a bit. Intriguing.

* "How to Innovate and Change the World" by Whitney Ransom on the WorldVitalRecords blog. This is a summary of a lecture she attended by Guy Kawasaki with the same title. Whitney then applies the techniques to WVR. Unfortunately, she missed points 1 and 2. Interesting advice. Does it apply to genealogy blogs?

* "Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635" by Lori Thornton on the Smoky Mountain Family Historian Blog. Lori found several descriptions of the hurricane of 1635 that thrashed the Northeast.

* "Can Kalonji get his Sons of the Confederacy Membership? Maybe DNA Can Help" by Taneya on Taneya's Genealogy Blog. I thought that this was the best post for the Carnival of Genealogy on DNA. It combines family stories and traditional genealogy research techniques to figure out how to use DNA to prove a patrilineal ancestry. I know I'm violating my rule, but it's my blog.

* "FamilySearch vs." at the Ancestry Insider blog. Someone may know who this blogger is, but s/he's not telling. Even more interesting are the comments - especially the discussion the costs and benefits of new database content, and how it affects subscription prices.

* "My Ghost Story" by Renee Zamora on Renee's Genealogy Blog. This was the best genealogy Hallowe'en story of the week. Ever had this feeling?

Those are my "best of" for the week - I hope you enjoy them, and learn from them, asm uch as I did.

35th Carnival of Genealogy is Online - a must read!

The topic for the 35th Carnival of Genealogy was "Do you have a family mystery that might be solved by DNA?" Blaine Bettinger at The Genetic Genealogist blog offered to analyze a submitted post for questions or family mysteries that might be solved using genetic genealogy.

Blaine really did a great job with this Carnival - it is posted at There were 19 submissions by bloggers about DNA analysis, plus two concerning bio-ethics. Blaine's analysis of each post was excellent.

My submission was "Ancestral Clues from DNA Studies." Blaine neatly summarized my meanderings with "Although a Y-DNA test only reveals a tiny portion of your ancestry, why stop with a single Y-DNA test? Why not test your other male lines? Randy points out that this has its own challenges (extensive paper trail research, finding people who will undergo testing, finding someone to pay for it!), but it can be well worth the effort."

If this subject interests you, please take the time to read the Carnival post and every post in the Carnival. They are all good!

The next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be a “carousel” edition. Just like carousels have a variety of animal figures on the ride so too will the next edition of the COG have different topics. All topics (genealogy-related of course!) are welcome. Submit any article you’d like. This edition will be hosted by Jasia on the Creative Gene blog. The deadline for submissions is November 15.

Please submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

James H. Remley (1911-2007)

This obituary appeared in the 4 November 2007 edition of the Boston Globe (posted on here):


"Passed away at Maine General Rehabilitation and Nursing Care at Gray Birch in Augusta on Nov. 1, 2007, at the age of 95. He was born Jan. 21, 1912, to Sarah Ellen and Frederick Lloyd Remley of New Castle, Pa., the town in which he grew up. His entire career was devoted to music education. He graduated from Indiana State Teachers College in Indiana, Pa., with a bachelors degree in music in 1933 and received a masters degree from New York University in 1938.

"He taught music in several Pennsylvania school systems and finally accepted the call to be supervisor of music in the Newton (Massachusetts) Public Schools in 1940, from which he retired in 1970. He was instrumental in establishing a for-credit music curriculum in the schools that received national attention. In addition to his school activities, he directed local choral groups and church choirs and was invited to direct All-State Choruses in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Long Island. He was a part-time faculty member at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and Lasell Junior College in Newton. He inspired both students and adults with his conducting skills, charisma, and passion for music.

"He married Inez Virginia Hysong in 1938. They were parents to Virginia Elaine (Perachio), Sarah Jane (Southmayd), and James Howard Jr. Inez died in 1969. In 1970 he married Geraldine Seaver who preceded him in death on April 26, 2007. He is survived by his three children, all of whom attended the Newton Public Schools, (listed above); their spouses, Adrian A. Perachio, Willliam W. Southmayd, and Deborah M. Remley; seven grandchildren, Nancy Alice Perachio Clough, Elise Virginia Perachio, Daniel, Glenn Christopher Perachio, Susan Remley Southmayd, David Webster Southmayd, Katherine Inez Remley, and Lauren Elizabeth Remley; and three great-grandchildren, Madison Ann Southmayd, Kyle William Southmayd, and Carson James Perachio.

"The family wishes to recognize and thank the kind souls at Granite Hill Estates, Maine General Medical Center, and Maine General Rehabilitation and Nursing Care at Gray Birch for their care and devotion during their fathers last months of life. Anyone wishing to honor his lifelong commitment to music may contribute to the Lasell College Annual Fund (in memory of James H. Remley), 1844 Commonwealth Ave., Newton, MA 02466. Those wishing to commemorate his longtime and beloved summer residency on Lake Cobbosseecontee may contribute to the Friends of Cobbossee, P.O. Box 5003, Augusta, ME 04332. Services and burial will be private. "Music hath no other end than the glory of God and the recreation of the soul". J.S. Bach. "


Isn't that a wonderful obituary? I know that Jim's children and grandchildren were very proud of their father's accomplishments and the life he had lived.

Here is a photo of Gerry and Jim Remley on their wedding day in 1970: