Saturday, December 8, 2007

Dear Genea-Man: How do I access this book?

Dear Genea-Man,

I understand the SLC FHL will not lend books. I don't think the Chula Vista Library would have the following book. How do I obtain an interlibrary loan (or find out if it is available re interlibrary loan)? John Mallet, the Huguenot, and Descendants. Author: Anna S. Mallett. Publication: Harrisburg Publishing Company, 1895.

Dear Colleague,

Just ten years ago, Inter-library loan was about your only option, it seemed. Now, there are more options, including:

1) Chula Vista Public Library has an Inter-library loan (ILL) service. You can find out which libraries hold a certain book by using Scroll down to the Search Box. You can input "john mallett" or "anna s mallett" and find matches for the book you want. Click on one of the matches, and you will get a list of libraries that have the book you want. You could print this off and take it to the CVPL and get an inter-library loan. I don't know what the ILL fee is now, but it's reasonable.

2) Another option is to check the LDS Family History Library Catalog (FHLC) at I chose an author search, and input "mallett" for the surname and "anna" for the given name in the search box. A page with a list of her single book - the one you want - came up. I clicked on the book title, and got a "Title Detail" page about the book, which is on the shelf at the FHL in Salt Lake City. They also have the book available for loan on a microfilm - click on the "View Film Notes" in the upper right hand corner. The film number for this book is FHL US/CAN Film 0,982,137 Item 3. You can print that page off (use the printable version link), and take it to the FHC down in Mission Valley and order the microfilm for $6.25 rental fee.

3) Some books in the FHLC are now available online. For the John Mallett book, there is a link on the "Title Detail" page that says "To view a digital version of this book, click here." If you click on this, it takes you to a book in the BYU Family History Archive at This is a digitized version of this book, page by page. You can print the pages on your home printer, or save them to your computer, or just read them online.

4) If you want some pages from a database, book or microform at the LDS Family History Library, you can print out the form here and submit it by mail to the Family History Library. You will need specific pages, book call numbers, microform number and item, but it can be done for a price. Obviously, you can get many microforms at the FHC on rental and copy pages yourself, but for those resources not on microform, this service beats a trip to Salt Lake City. Thanks DearMYRTLE for the suggestion.

5) Google Books ( ) has only a "snippet" view of pages from this book. has the complete book on their subscription side.

There are other web sites with digitized out-of-copyright books on the Internet.

As we can see, there are several good choices that genealogy researchers can make to find published works, especially those published before 1923.

UPDATED 9 PM: Drew Smith suggested I use the simpler for the Catalog - done! Thanks, Drew.

DearMYRTLE suggested that pages from books or microforms can be ordered from the Family History Library using forms found here. In my 20 years of going to the FHC, I've never used this service, nor was I aware of it. I could not find that web page by browsing through the site (even using the Site Map). They have hidden it very well! Thanks MYRT!

Day 16 - Christmas Parties

On the 16th day of Christmas,
my relatives acted hearty
at a family Christmas party.

1) Did your family throw a holiday party each year?

When I was a kid, we didn't have a separate holiday party that I recall - just celebrations with my grandparents and my cousin Dorothy's family.

After we were married, my parents, my brothers and us would have a Christmas party either on the weekend before Christmas, on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day with the traditional dinner. As the children grew, these became great fun watching the little ones open gifts, show off for grandma and grandpa, and play out in the yard.

Our family would fly (on Christmas Day) or drive (several days before Christmas) to San Francisco to celebrate the holiday with Linda's parents and brother. They would invite their living aunts and uncles to dinner and Paul (Linda's brother) and I would often go pick them up and take them home. Sometimes, we would go down the peninsula to visit the aunts, uncles and cousins. There was always lots of laughs, sharing of memories, interesting gifts and lots of good food at these events.

2) Do you remember attending any holiday parties?

Besides the family parties, there were Christmas parties at church and with colleagues at work. The church couples group adopted a New Year's Eve "progressive dinner" party, with white elephant gift giving, rather than a pre-Christmas party. This was done because everybody had a busy schedule with their kids and family, needed a sober New Year's event to attend, and we could get rid of useless but valuable gifts at the New Year's party.

We also attended a pre-Christmas party with our Marriage Encounter board couples with a white elephant gift exchange. If we didn't like the gift we got here, we took it to the New Year's party. Fruitcake, especially!

For many years, my work group got together for an evening pot luck party with much drinking and telling stories about people who didn't attend. These were always at someone's house, and it was a good way to meet the spouses of your colleagues, stand under the mistletoe and be spurned, and to see how they lived. I don't have many specific memories of these, of course, except that Linda had to pour me into bed more than once.

Linda's teaching colleagues also had a pre-Christmas party at someone's house, which was similar to my work colleague party, except it was more interesting because the families were in different income brackets. The group was much more diverse and the people more interesting. There was a designated gift giving at these parties - each teacher drew a name at school to give a gift to.

This post will be part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" carnival - organized by Thomas MacEntee at the Destination: Austin Family blog. Please go to Thomas' blog and read the submissions for each day.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Ancestry Survey Reveals Lack of Family Knowledge has a press release titled "Survey Reveals Americans' Surprising Lack of Family Knowledge" - read the whole thing here. The findings are summarized as --

-- Young Americans are looking to their roots - 83 percent of 18- to 34-years-old are interested in learning their family history. Following closely are the 35- to 54-year-olds at 77 percent and Americans ages 55+ at 73 percent.

-- Half of Americans know the name of only one or none of their great-grandparents.

-- Twenty-two percent of Americans don't know what either of their grandfathers do or did for a living.

-- Although America is known as a nation of immigrants, 27 percent don't know where their family lived before they came to America.

-- Seventy-eight percent of Americans say they are interested in learning more about their family history.

-- Fifty percent of American families have ever researched their roots.

-- In comparing regions, Southerners know the least about their roots. Only 38 percent know both of their grandmothers' maiden names, compared with 50 percent of Northeasterners. Also, only 47 percent of Southerners know what both of their grandfathers do or did for a living, while 55 percent of Northeasterners know both grandfathers' occupations.

Are you surprised by these findings? I'm not. Look at the state of the world today -- with

* many children born out of wedlock who do not know their biological fathers,
* many raised by single parents or foster or adoptive parents,
* many divorced couples,
* many family members spread out all over the world due to immigration and occupation.

Frankly, I'm amazed that so many people do know about their grandfathers' occupations and their grandmothers maiden names.

Those same reasons for the lack of knowledge are why there is the interest in family history - they want to know more about their family and how they came into being. There is a yearning for knowledge about identity and genetics - a desire to know "where do I belong?"

There is an opportunity for genealogy societies and researchers to help these people in their quest. The challenge is to find the best way to help people find their family history. I think it lies in education - especially using audio-visual methods - and in finding and telling family history stories that people can relate to.

The Ancestry press release has some questions for inquisitive people to ask their family members during the holidays - it's a good list. I hope that more people take the opportunity to ask the questions and video or write down the answers.

Do you agree? What else can be done to help those inquirers, and genealogy societies deal with them?

Were they in the Poorhouse?

Each of us searching for "elusive ancestors" has to think "outside the box" in order to find the dates, places, siblings and parents of these "brick wall" ancestors. Resorting to "cluster genealogy" techniques, often found in books and the published journals and periodicals, may find some of them with their families in a variety of records..

Usually, however, there are unusual sources that may contain one or more clues to solve the puzzle. They are almost always located in the places where the "elusive ancestor" lived, and it can be a challenge to find them. They may be in genealogy society files, historical society files, a local library, a local business or church, a school or university, or in someone's private collection.

One excellent example of an online source that might unlock some secrets is a Poorhouse register. Linda Crannell has gathered a wealth of information on her web site - The Poorhouse Story - at Read her own story about looking for and finding her great-great-grandmother, Emma Warner Thorn Pinchin here. Linda has a Letter to Genealogists also, detailing what types of records might be in these records, including:

* Homeless Families (who may have been burned out or flooded out of their homes)
* Destitute Families (who, for a time, could not afford to buy food, clothing or fuel)
* Victims of Domestic Abuse
* Unwed Mothers
* Orphans
* Elderly People (who were frail or ill and had nobody to care for them)
* Seasonally Unemployed Workers (who often were single men needing housing for the winter)
* Occupationally Injured Workers (who often worked in factories or on the canals or roads, or as lumbermen, etc.)
* Handicapped People (mentally ill, mentally retarded, blind, physically handicapped)
* Sick People (who had no money for treatment and may have suffered temporarily from the frequent epidemics of contagious diseases or from chronic diseases)

While we all hope that none of our ancestors lived in a Poorhouse, it is very likely that some of them did at some time in their lives, and Poorhouse records might unlock your own "brick wall" puzzle.

Linda has a link for the History of Poorhouses, and a page of links for Poorhouses by State. She also has a page of Tips for searching for these records. You might want to explore her web site and see if there are resources on her list that might help you in your research.

Of course, this is not the only place to look. A search of PERSI for poorhouse records in your state or county of interest might be fruitful, and USGenWeb county sites might have a list of Poorhouse records. Historical and genealogy society web sites or catalogs might also have them noted.

A search of the LDS Family History Library Catalog (FHLC) using the keyword = "poorhouse" resulted in 5,454 titles available in book or microform at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (microform are available for loan at a local Family History Center for a fee). You could narrow the search by adding your county of interest to the keyword search.

Ancestry's Learning Center has 24 titles with information about researching Poorhouse records. These articles are free. A search of the Ancestry Database Card Catalog found no use of the word "poorhouse*" in a database title.

In our pursuit of "elusive ancestors," we need to leave no record unopened - and Poorhouse records may be just the resource you need to crash through your brick wall.

My thanks to my colleague Penny B. for sending me the link to Linda's Poorhouse Story web site, and my compliments to Linda Crannell for doing such a wonderful job of sharing her story and compiling all of the great information.

Day 17 - Christmas Cookies

On the 17th day of Christmas,
my honey presented me
a whole plate of sugar cookies.

1) Did your family make Christmas Cookies?

My mother, my grandmother, my wife and my daughters all made or make Christmas cookies. They all had or have a set of the classic cookie cutters - a snowman, a Santa, a tree, a sleigh, etc.

In olden times (pre-1990 or so), they would make the dough somehow (always a mystery to me), roll it out with a rolling pin (who has one these days?), and try to get as many cookies out of the flat dough as possible. Then they would take the scraps and mash them together, roll it out again and cut out more. Pop them in the oven and then sprinkle them with colored sugar crystals, or cover them with colored frosting and maybe M&Ms or red-hots, when they come out.

Now, the cookies seem to be packaged - you put a blob of dough on the cookie sheet and put it in the oven, bake it and mark it with R (hmmm, wrong song), and dress it up if necessary.

2) How did you help?

I was, and am, a champion cookie eater. I made every female in my life feel good about their culinary skills by devouring their baked goodies. It contributes mightily to my "look like Santa" thing.

I did help my mother when I was a kid by being creative with the cookie cutters, and by lavishing extra frosting and sugar on the baked cookies.

3) Did you have a favorite cookie?

I think my favorite Christmas cookie is a Christmas Tree sugar cookie with green sugar crystals on them. Close behind is a Santa cookie with red sugar crystals. Third is a Snowman cookie with white sugar crystals. I don't count chocolate chip cookies with red and green M&Ms in them, or Oreos with red or green filling (why hasn't Oreo come up with a red and green cookie?). I like those too, of course, but they aren't my favorite at Christmas - just the rest of the year? Yummy.

I haven't had any Christmas cookies yet - my first taste will probably be on Monday at the CVGS holiday luncheon (see, there is some genealogy in this series!).

This post will be part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" carnival - organized by Thomas MacEntee at the Destination: Austin Family blog. Please go to Thomas' blog and read the submissions for each day.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Waldseemuller Map from 1507

From the Wikipedia article atüller_map:

The Waldseemüller map, Universalis Cosmographia, is a wall map of the world drawn by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller and originally published in April 1507. It was one of the first maps to chart latitude and longitude precisely, following the example of Ptolemy, and was the first map to use the name "America". Waldseemüller also created globe gores, printed maps designed to be cut out and pasted onto spheres to form globes of the Earth.

The wall map consists of twelve sections printed from wood engravings measuring 18 x 24.5 inches (46 x 62 cm). Each section is one of four horizontally and three vertically, when assembled. The map uses a modified Ptolemaic coniform projection with curved meridians to depict the entire surface of the Earth.
Cool map. Read the whole thing - I'm amazed by the detail involved. And puzzled by some of the large errors in East Asia. I don't think Australia is shown either.

Want a research challenge? Try the Forensic Genealogy contest!

One of the best programs we've had at CVGS was Colleen Fitzpatrick on "Forensic Genealogy." Colleen has a web site with a weekly contest at You are given a picture, and asked some questions about it. The challenge is to use your research skills to find the answer and post it to Colleen.

This week, the contest has this picture:

The questions are:
1. Where was this picture taken?
2. What date was it taken on?
3. Who took it?

Isn't this a wonderful picture? Look at the prices for food, and the prices for barber services. Amazingly, you can find many pictures like this on the Internet in historical society or art collections.

This one was fairly easy for me - I got lucky in my search. Some of the previous week contests are very difficult.

If you want an occasional challenge, try to solve Colleen's puzzles. They will really help you solve your own photograph puzzles by honing your searching and researching skills.

Besides, it's FUN!

Day 18 - Christmas Weather

On the 18th day of Christmas,
I want everybody to know
That it doesn't snow (much) in San Diego.

This is the first "Christmas Grab Bag" edition of the Advent Calendar, which I really appreciate!

Jasia asked several days ago "Did you ever see snow on Christmas" in a comment to my Day 24 post. The short answer is "Yes -- on television - on the weather report, the national news and the football games. Not outside our window ever."

Our weather in San Diego at sea level on Christmas Day is typically partly cloudy, with a high in the low 60's and a low in the high 40's. We have had sunny and warm (highs in the 80s) Christmas Days before, and have had rain all day on occasion. We don't usually have real cold (for us - temps in the 30s) weather in December - it usually happens in January. The record low temperature in San Diego is 25 F, which happened in 1923 - the water froze in the fountain at the downtown Plaza. The temperatures on the coast are always warmer than inland - if you go 10 miles inland, the low temps are always 5 to 10 degrees colder than the San Diego city temperature. The Laguna, Cuyamaca and Palomar Mountains to our east and north (all are over 6,000 feet high) get snow occasionally, even at Christmas time. The TV stations always show folks parked on the sides of the roads, sliding down hills and throwing snowballs. Every 5 years or so, we get a snow fall down to 2,000 feet elevation but rarely at sea level.

It has snowed several times in my lifetime in San Diego. At sea level. In January 1949 (I think), it snowed while I was walking to school (I was in kindergarten and it made a big impression on me). In December 1967, it snowed on my way to work. This time, the snow stuck for most of the day in the suburbs, and many San Diego kids (including the 25 year-old Randy) had a lot of fun. It snowed again in late December 1987 in San Diego, but we were on the way home from San Francisco and missed it. In every case, it snows at sea level early in the morning when a fast-moving cold front follows a clear and cold night.

In all the years that we went to San Francisco at Christmas time, it never snowed on us there, much to my disappointment. In 1987, it did snow on us at King City (south of Salinas) on Highway 101 and we stopped and had a wonderful snow ball fight. In 1985, we went to Yosemite after visiting San Francisco, and stayed several nights in that icy wonderland. We marveled at the frozen ponds, the waterfalls shedding ice, and had a glorious day sledding and snowballing at Glacier Point, a ski resort.

I have been in snow on occasion on trips to Portland in 1968, Boston in 1968, Cincinnati in the 1990's, and Topeka in 1987 and 1996. Each time, I am filled with wonder. Others (the natives) laugh at me - my lack of preparation (no hat, no gloves, no boots), my giddiness, my sliding on ice (unaware of the dangers). For me, snow is really special - a treat.

Our daughters live in areas that have snow occasionally, but we haven't been there when it has snowed. At least my grandchildren will have some memories of playing in the snow as children. We travel to their homes at Christmas time every other year - we might get lucky and really have a fun snow time with the little ones.

As a kid, I was very jealous that we did not have snow, at least on occasion, just so I could enjoy what other kids all over the country enjoyed. We didn't even have snow clothes, and still don't. We got Flexible Flyers (sleds with wheels) for Christmas, not snow sleds. When there was snow in the mountains, my folks never took us because of the crowds. I did go several times with the church youth group when I was 10 to 12 years old - it was cool! Wet. Cold. Fun.

We don't have snow tires, or own chains, or ice scrapers. We try to avoid driving where it is snowy and icy. We didn't take the kids to the snow when they were young because of our lack of proper equipment. The kids did go with their youth group several times, so they weren't totally deprived.

These days, I look forward to the absolutely clear days that follow a storm that dumps snow on the mountains. We can see Mount Cuyamaca (an Indian name, pronounced "kwee-ah-mack-ah") from all over San Diego County, and it occasionally has a snow mantle down to 4,000 feet. It is majestic and beautiful - I will try to get a picture the next time I have a chance.

Last Saturday, it was a cold, rainy and windy day up in Julian (temperature in the mid-30s with intermittent downpours and hail). Linda and I had our overcoats on and we bought gloves, and tried to find refuge in the little shops and stores along Main Street. We finally went to lunch at a restaurant with large windows facing the street. It was spitting snow while we ate. We hurried up to finish our meal and get out in it, and hoped to gather some up in our hands and laugh and throw it at each other. Alas, the moment passed, the little bits of frozen water melted quickly, and we were disappointed. But we saw snow fall, and it was a special moment - we will always remember it. Funny how that works, isn't it?

UPDATED 12/13: The San Diego Union-Tribune published an article today "The day it snowed in San Diego" describing December 13, 1967 - the day I remembered in my post above. There is also a list of other San Diego snow days - including January 11, 1949 and December 24, 1987. The article is at I don't know if it will be accessible for a long time. I saved it to my hard drive. The opening paragraphs:

“ 'This is something you tell to people who are from out of the area. They have a hard time believing it,' said Ken Ayers, a county native who was a dazzled 7-year-old on that wondrous day.

“ 'It's the California Christmas dream.'

"The dream came true 40 years ago this morning, when gale-force winds blew a Canadian cold front far, far off course. Across San Diego County, residents woke up to see the air shimmering with something cold, white and unfamiliar."


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Santa has a blog!

Becky at the Kinexxions blog posted about the Santa Claus blog at Very cool stuff! Funny, organized, from the CEO perspective. I can't figure out North Pole Time, though. I added it to my Bloglines immediately.

Nothing about Santa's family history. I wonder if he is related to this real Santa Claus?

Thanks, Becky (BTW, I like your blog color scheme!).

Dear Genea-Man: What do those markings mean?

Dear Genea-Man,

What do the handwritten markings mean on this passenger list? I'm interested in Alfred Wm. Wilson, line #16 on this list. There is a number 7-185009 and a date 10/24/41 marked on his line.

ANSWER: Genea-Man is not very experienced with passenger lists and naturalization records, but he has a very informative book on the subject.

Looking at the book "They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins" there is a section on page 161 about Certificates of Arrival. It says:

"Probably the most common reentry annotations are related to an immigrant's first step toward naturalization. Verifying that all petitioners for naturalization were legally admitted immigrants was one of the reforms instituted by the Basic Naturalization Act of 1906. Smith further notes that

" 'under the 1906 statute, the naturalization procedure required a step whereby the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization checked ship manifests to verify the legal admission of every applicant for citizenship who had Declarations of Intention or Petitions to a naturalization court. On these forms, the immigrant named the port, date and ship of his or her arrival. Copies of the form were forwarded to the appropriate ports of entry to be checked by verification clerks who located the immigrants arrival record among their immigration manifests. If the record was found, INS issued a Certificate of Arrival and sent it back to the naturalization court.'

"Between 1906 and 1924, the certificate of arrival was a critical identifying factor connecting the immigrant to the port of arrival. Beginning 1 July 1924, the INS began collecting immigrant visas, which subsequently became the official arrival records. One could not be admitted without an immigrant visa, and only a permanent admission could be used to issue a Certificate of Arrival, which would support a naturalization. According to INS historian Smith, an immigrant visa leads to permanent admission, which leads to a certificate of arrival, which leads to naturalization. The alien's immigrant visa file then became the first place to search for proof of legal entry into the United States."

The above was obtained from
Loretta Dennis Szucs, "They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins," Ancestry Inc., 1998, page 161.
The passenger list image was obtained from
Manifest, S.S. Majestic, 25 November 1908, page 11, line 16, for Alfred Wm. Wilson (age 2), digital image, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006. Original data: Year: 1908; Microfilm serial: T715; Microfilm roll: T715_1174; Image 11, Line: 16 (, accessed 5 December 2007).

Consequently, I think that there is an excellent chance that Alfred Wm. Wilson's Certificate of Arrival was number 7-185009, and that it was signed on 24 October 1941. There is probably a naturalization record for him (and his parents) in a court house someplace near where he lived in the 1940's.

What say you? Did I get this right?

This is a good lesson for all of us who haven't done much immigration and naturalization research. I learned something! Maybe I'll learn more from more experienced researchers. I'm going to use this as a show and tell at the next CVGS Research Group meeting.

UPDATED 12/8, 9 PM: Pete Small had helpful suggestions in Comments, viz.

"Passenger Lists were micro-filmed 1942/43. A researcher will not find annotations for an ancestor who began the Naturalization process after these years.

"Verification clerks began to record Verification & Certification activities on Passenger Lists in 1926. All annotations refer to Naturalization activities that occurred in 1926 or later.

"You can find much more than you probably need to know at:"
Thanks, Pete!

"The Essex Genealogist" TOC - November 2007 issue

Here is the Table of Contents for The Essex Genealogist, Volume 27, number 4, for November 2007:

* Letter from the Editor -- page 146
* TEG Feature Article: "Records from the Ivory Tower: Researching in Academic Institutions" by Laura Prescott -- page 147
* "Descendants of Hugh Ditson," Part III by Marilyn Fitzpatrick -- page 160
* "Richard Bryer and Descendants through son William" Part II by Margaret Blair -- page 168
* "Charter Street Cemetery Inscriptions" by Jeanne Stella -- page 173

* Additions and Corrections to TEG plus Query Answers -- page 175
* "Gloucester Tax List of 1693" by James G. Dempsey -- page 177
* Old Kittery and Her Families Corrections/Additions transcribed by Margaret Blair -- page 183
* David Thurston Ahnentafel by Barbare Beake -- page 185
* Daniel Onthank Ahnentafel by Dr. Stephen Brown -- page 187

This periodical is published quarterly by the Essex (MA) Society of Genealogists (ESOG), and concentrates on records and families of Essex County, Massachusetts.

The feature article, transcribed from the 16 September 2006 presentation by Laura Prescott to ESOG. Her lecture was intriguing because it touched on resources that many of us, myself included, don't really consider when we are researching family history. Laura's examples were excellent. She really made the point to me that "you never know what a repository holds until you research there."

I also found that I am a distant cousin of both people who submitted the Ahnentafels, since I have a significant number of Essex County ancestors in Lynn, Marblehead, Ipswich, Salisbury, Amesbury and Newbury back in colonial times.

Day 19 - Santa Claus

On the 19th day of Christmas,
I have happy thoughts of
visiting and being Santa Claus.

1) Did you ever send a letter to Santa Claus?

I don't think I ever did send a letter.

2) Did you ever visit Santa and "make a list?"

We visited Santa Claus every year down at the Marston's Department Store in downtown San Diego where my grandfather worked for 55 years. I think we "made a list" sometimes, especially as we got older and the wanted gifts became more complex. My recollection of visiting Santa is one of awe - this really big fat person in a red suit with a long white beard who flies around in a sleigh who goes down chimneys to leave gifts for children - I didn't question this for a long time (being a pretty smart kid, I guess).

3) Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

They say that in the first part of your life, you BELIEVE IN Santa Claus. In the second part of your life, you DON'T BELIEVE IN in Santa Claus. In the third part of your life, you ARE Santa Claus, and in the last part of your life, you LOOK LIKE Santa Claus. In my case, I have all four of these attributes ... still.

The magic of Santa Claus in a child's eyes is priceless. Everybody FIGURES OUT that SC is a figment of imagination - why do we fool our children like that? I love giving gifts to my wife, children and grandchildren. I've had a beard for 30 years, been practicing my "ho-ho-ho's" forever, but am working on reducing the belly. I still believe ... irrational, isn't it?

I love going to the shopping center, and sitting on a bench near Santa's little hut and watching the little ones go up and talk to Santa. I've thought about being a "store Santa," but doubt if I ever will.

4) When did you find out "the truth" about Santa Claus?

We lived on the second story of a two-story house at 2119 30th Street in San Diego from the time I was 4 until I left home in 1968 at age 24. The house did not have a fireplace, so my brother Stan and I could never figure out how Santa Claus could bring the presents under the tree. Did he come in the window? Did dad leave a key or leave the door unlocked?

My maternal grandparents, Lyle and Emily Carringer (“Gram and Gramps”), built a beautiful home on Point Loma in 1951, and Christmas Eves were spent there for many years – and it had a fireplace! Our stockings were hung there in hopes that Saint Nick would fill them to the brim. Before bedtime, my grandmother would lead us in Christmas carols while we lay in bed – it was a wonderful way to fall asleep.

Santa was always good to us, probably because, in retrospect, we were usually good boys – mischievous but not criminal, loud but not abusive, whirlwinds but not destructive. We usually received toys that were all the rage of the day, plus the usual boring clothes, and fruit, candy and small toys in our stockings. The most memorable gifts were the "good" toys, of course. BB guns and Davy Crockett coonskin caps in 1954, Flexible Flyers (sleds on wheels) in 1955, bicycles in 1956.

Of course, Santa Claus isn’t mysterious forever. The Point Loma house had a two car garage that my grandfather had filled with generations of stuff – it was a wonderful place to hide, explore and search. We found the bicycles in the garage before Christmas in 1956, but didn’t tell anybody else. Sure enough, on Christmas morning they appeared by the fireplace and Christmas tree marked “from Santa Claus.” Aha! So, we knew, but being rather smart guys we didn’t tell the folks – why kill the golden goose?

This post will be part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" carnival - organized by Thomas MacEntee at the Destination: Austin Family blog. Please go to Thomas' blog and read the submissions for each day.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

'Tis a mystery!

While working with the search engines today, I used a "last name first" search for "smith devier" - Devier James Smith was the son of Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith. I was surprised to see the following on the web site.

NAME = SMITH, Devier J. [changed from] LAMPHIER, Devier
COUNTY = Dodge
DATE = 1866/Mar/21

This is a list of name changes that were recorded in Wisconsin county courts. The database says -

" The name changes transcribed here were found in the following resource books: Laws of Wisconsin Territory, General Acts Passed by the Legislature of Wisconsin, Private & Local Laws Passed by the Legislature of Wisconsin and Acts & Resolves Passed by the Legislature of Wisconsin. It is best to check the source given, as some of the records indicate the place of residence, the parent's name and why there was a name change."

So my question is, who was Devier Lamphier and why did he change his name to Devier J. Smith? The things I considered were:

1) Devier Lamphier is a minor child adopted by a Smith family in Dodge County. However, there is no Devier (and spelling variations) Smith in the census records in 1870, except for my Devier J. Smith age 30 in Taylor County, Iowa. This is a realistic hypothesis.

2) My Devier J. Smith was born Devier Lamphier. However, the Bible pages I have say his parents were Ranslow and Mary Smith, and he is in the 1850 and 1860 census as their child. I don't think that this hypothesis is realistic.

3) My Devier J. Smith was the son of Ranslow and Mary Smith, but changed his name for some reason before 1866, and in 1866 he changed it back to Devier J. Smith. This really doesn't change the ancestry of Devier Smith, does it? I don't think that this hypothesis is realistic.

I found a likely candidate named Derias J. Lamphier, age 2, in the 1860 census in Dodge County WI, son of Nathan and Ellen Lamphier. However, D.J. Lamphier, age 12, is in the 1870 census as the son of Nathan and Elen Lamphier. If he were adopted by someone else in 1866, he came back to his family by 1870. By the way, Devier and Abby (Vaux) Smith moved to Taylor County, IA before 1870 - perhaps that caused the adopted child to return to his family?

I cannot find Derias/Devier/D. J. Lamphier (and alternate spellings) in the 1880 census anywhere. I did find a "Nat Lamphere" living without the rest of his family in 1880 in Dodge County WI. The rest of the family are not in the 1880 census as far as I can tell.

My hypothesis at this point is that Devier Lamphier was a child adopted by a Smith family - but I don't know if it was the Devier J. Smith family. It might have been! I don't think that this was "my" Devier J. Smith changing his own name.

How can I find out? By chasing the paper trail - find the Dodge County WI court record executed on 21 March 1866 - it may give more particulars of the parties. The LDS Family History Library Catalog does not show any Court or Probate Records available in microform, so a review of the resource books in several Wisconsin repositories is probably required.

Name changes may be one of the most overlooked resources to finding "elusive ancestors" and their parents.

Can anyone come up with other hypotheses for me to consider concerning this mystery? I'd appreciate any help you can provide.

Pursuing Elusive Ancestors in Search Engines

For some time now, I've done a stupid thing - in the interests of time, I've considered Google as the premier search engine for web pages, news, images, etc., and really have used only Google. That was a mistake. Let me illustrate this with an example:

One of my most "elusive ancestors" in Ranslow Smith - born 1805 in NY, died after 1870 somewhere. He married Mary/Polly Bell in Jefferson County NY before 1830, and they had a son, Devier James Smith - my great-great-grandfather (Della (Smith) Carringer's father). The Ranslow Smith family resided in Henderson, Jefferson County NY until about 1848, then in Dodge County WI until about 1866, and then in Bedford, Taylor County, IA (there in 1870 census, married to a second wife, Julia Johnson).

I've posted several times about Ranslow Smith - his house in Henderson NY, his land in Dodge County WI, his inn in Dodge County WI, and the Smith Family Bible.

Now about the searches: I added a Yahoo! toolbar and search box to my IE7 screen recently and used it this morning just to see if the search results were different from using the Google search box. Then I decided to check MSN and AltaVista to see if they provide different results.

Using Google, Yahoo!, MSN Live Search and AltaVista to search for the string "ranslow smith" I found -

* Google -- 51 claimed matches (actually 34), including 18 from Genea-Musings, 1 for my web page, 1 for Historic houses in Jefferson county NY, 3 About:Genealogy forum messages, 3 GenForum messages, 6 for Rootsweb matches (including 3 CVGS site matches), and 2 evident "phony" matches in StretegicBoard and BendyRules (whatever they are - don't go there!).

* Yahoo! -- 41 claimed matches (actually 12), including 2 from Genea-Musings, 1 for my web page, 1 for Historic houses, 1 About:Genealogy forum message, 2 Genforum messages, 2 Rootsweb messages, and 3 evident "phony" matches in Strategicboard and CriminalsCheck.

* MSN LiveSearch -- 7 claimed matches (actually 18), including 7 from Genea-Musings, 1 for my web page, 1 for Historic houses, 3 About:Genealogy forum messages, 1 GenForum message and 6 Rootsweb matches (3 from CVGS web site).

* AltaVista -- 41 claimed matches (actually 39), including 23 from Genea-Musings, 1 for my web page, 1 for Historic houses, 1 About:Genealogy message, 2 GenForum messages, 7 Rootsweb entries (4 from CVGS site), 3 from Strategicboard and 1 from CriminalsCheck. This is similar to Google.

For the Google, MSN and AltaVista searches, I counted the matches covered by the "Show more results from 'web page'" link.

I know that there are more Search engines available, but these are the ones I chose to use. Do you have a better one? Please tell me and I'll add it to my list above.

The lesson learned here is that the different search engines find fairly similar results, but often vary in the number of matches found on a given web site. Of course, other searches may provide a unique match - and therefore a researcher needs to check many search engines, not just Google.

UPDATED 4:45 PM: John, Devorah and Deb in Comments have suggested a number of other search engines. Thanks, guys and gals!

I used all of the search engines suggested, and found no additional matches that Google, MSN and Yahoo! found, at least for "ranslow smith."

Day 20 - Outdoor Decorations

On the 20th day of Christmas,
my neighbors gave me a treat,
they lighted up the whole darn street!

1) Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights?

When I was a kid (1950s and 60s), there were few lights outside the homes, if any, in San Diego. We had no lights outside the house, mainly because we lived on the second floor and with the lighted Christmas tree in the cubby-hole, it was visible to passers-by on the street.

Starting in about 1970 (when we married), I noticed that some neighbors would string lights around their roof eaves or on a bush or tree in the yard. We put strings of lights on our roof eaves all across the front of the house and garage and in the entry-way starting in about 1975 until about 1995. We haven't done it since, mainly due to safety reasons (I'm not confident on the roof any more!). With our daughters away from home, we were often not home at Christmas time.

This year, several of our neighbors on our cul-de-sac have the mesh-lights on their eaves, and several have blow-up displays or lighted figures in their front yard.

2) Did some people really go "all out" when decorating?

Oh yes. And they still do, even more. One of the Christmas traditions for our little family in the 1975 to 1985 period was to drive around "Candy Cane Lane" and "Christmas Tree Circle" in Chula Vista to see the outdoor displays - lights, scenes, music, etc. One of our family traditions for awhile was to go to a pizza place with family friends, then drive by the lighted streets, and then have a gift exchange at our house with the friends. Unfortunately, theym oved away, and we haven't done it since.

"Candy Cane Lane" is gone, but "Christmas Tree Circle" still exists in Chula Vista. There are many more of these neighborhood displays now all over the San Diego area. I saw a map in a local magazine yesterday of the biggest and best displays. Someone could drive around to about 20 sites using the map.

This post will be part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" carnival - organized by Thomas MacEntee at the Destination: Austin Family blog. Please go to Thomas' blog and read the submissions for each day.

I forgot to submit yesterday's "Christmas Card" post to the carnival. Oh well.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Carnival of Genealogy #37 is posted - Wish Lists!

Sixteen genealogy bloggers submitted posts to the 37th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. The topic was Wish Lists - what do you want for Christmas? Jasia hosted this Carnival on her Creative Gene blog - the post is here. As always, the posts in the carnival are well written and in many cases, humorous. And there are several new blogs for me to peruse and add to my blog list.

My post for this carnival (in 2007) was Dear Genea-Santa. My post for 2006 on this topic was also Dear Genea-Santa.

The next Carnival of Genealogy topic will be The New Millennium. Where were you when the year 2000 came around? How did you celebrate the New Year 2000... with friends? family? at a party? in a bunker? What were your thoughts, fears, and feelings about the new millennium? Can you believe it's been 8 years since then? Record your memories now for posterity!

The deadline for submissions will be December 15th. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Carnival of Genealogy using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

What Genealogy Reference Books should you own?

George G. Morgan answered that question in his column on the 24/7 Family History Circle blog. It is an excellent list. I have some of them, and have read the others at the library.

However, I would add a number of books to this list:

* Ancestry's Concise Genealogical Dictionary, compiled by Maurine & Glen Harris.

* Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, by Christine Rose.

* Producing a Quality Family History by Patricia Law Hatcher.

Of course, everybody's tastes vary, but these are indispensable to me.

What other genealogy and family history reference books are indispensable to you?

Della's Journal - Week 49 (December 3-9, 1929)

This is Installment 49 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 49 -


Tuesday, December 3: In afternoon, Betty & I went down town and came home with Lyle & Emily. Got Money Order $4.50 for Unity.

Wednesday, December 4: I went downtown, put $120 in Bay City Bldg & Loan. Got Ma new red dress.

Thursday, December 5: Sent letter to Unity with $4.50 for my Unity renewal and Wee Wisdom for Betty & Hazel.

Friday, December 6 (lovely): Ma & I went with Etta & Frank to Alpine, spent the day, had a lovely time. The forest fire burned over a large area. The creek is dry. The fire ran along to the Garage. I do not see how they saved the town. Joe Muthors house he used to own did not burn but all the orchard did. I called on Mrs. Tubs & daughter, & Mr & Mrs Flegal. He has made cement block (hollow) for a double garage. They make their grape juice every year.

Saturday, December 7: Ed over, cut lawn & I painted front stairs & landing to 2116 Fern St Flat. Ma called on Mrs. Matajka, she has come home for a while. Irene is home from the East. Mrs. Thompson told me his sister went east last Fri[day]. Betty made signs for me, they were nice. I gave her 25 c[ents] for them as I can keep them to use again. Emily is working all the time.

Sunday, December 8 (cloudy): I made fruit cake, cooked Pork roast. Lyle took pictures of our Poinsettias, Betty & kitty in picture. A[ustin] finished Iron gating. The flats acrost the street is being fixed over, commenced to take off stucko Fri. the 6th.

Monday, December 9: We took baths & washed. Paper says we may have rain in 24 hrs, have had only one sprinkle since July. Letter from Mrs. Schmidt. The people are moving in & have taken the desk over to her house so to have room for Radio, their name is Tompson.


Going out to Alpine was a big deal in 1929 - about 30 miles from their home, but two lane road all the way. I'm guessing they drove through Dehesa into southern Alpine rather than down Viejas grade into northern Alpine. It would be an easier ride. The forest fire came into Alpine, apparently. I have no idea who Joe Muthors, Mr. and Mrs. Flegal or Mrs. Tubs are - probably family friends.

I was puzzled as to what Unity and Wee Wisdom were - probably subscription magazines.

I was happy to see more than one sentence for some of these days - they are all on loose paper.

Day 21 - Christmas Cards

On the 21st day of Christmas,
my true friends sent to me
a Christmas Card from their family.

1) Did your family send them?

My parents sent Christmas cards to family and friends all of my life. My mother made them for many years (I know I have several in my boxes of stuff...somewhere) - usually a fairly simple madonna or angel theme with a "Merry Christmas" and "from the Seaver family" or something similar. I remember a single color (red or green) stencil on card stock folded into a card, with writing on the inside.

2) Did your family display the ones they received?

In my childhood home, I don't remember having a mantle or shelf space that had displayed cards. I'm sure that my mother displayed them somewhere - perhaps on a bulletin board in the entry way. I'll have to ask my brothers. I wish I could remember more about this time of my life.

We received cards from my father's mother and siblings in New England which often had family letters in them. These were prized because this family never made long distance phone calls and rarely wrote letters, so this was our only contact each year with the family 2,500 miles away.

3) Do you still send Christmas cards?

Oh yes! That's what the post-Thanksgiving hecticity (is that a word?) is all about. "We have to get this done so we can do this and this next ..." Angel Linda is a taskmaster. This solemn process includes:

* finding the boxes of cards bought during the year at thrift shops or 99 cent stores. Or going out and buying more. We only get angel cards, naturally.
* Randy prints off the Christmas card address list and Linda updates it. The list is then printed on peel-off labels.
* Linda affixes the labels on envelopes, puts the return address labels (hopefully, Christmas motif) on the envelopes, and puts stamps on the envelopes.
* Randy writes the two-page Christmas letter (more on this in a later post), Linda edits it, and Randy creates 120 copies of it (this takes about four days to finish).
* Linda writes messages on the cards, since Randy thinks that the Christmas letter covers everything that could be said. Linda's handwriting is much better, too! Randy and Linda stuff the letters in the envelopes and seal the envelopes.
* We typically send these out in early December - today is the day!

This process takes about ten days from start to finish, but it's now a tradition and we have a proven process for it.

I also send the Christmas letter to email correspondents, but I don't want to post it online because it has some personal details not appropriate for the world to see. If you want one, please send me an email address (if I don't already have one - at rjseaver(at)

Astute readers of Genea-Musings are aware that many genea-bloggers are in the middle of this "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" carnival - organized by Thomas MacEntee at the Destination: Austin Family blog. Please go to Thomas' blog and read the submissions for each day.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Best of the Genea-Blogs - 25 November to 1 December 2007

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!).

* "The Survey" by John D. Reid at the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog. The results of the survey are interesting. There was a newspaper article about this survey too- it noted that so many Canadians don't know their great-grandparents names.

* "Tonight's Software Disasters" by someone on The Ancestry Insider blog. This tuned-in, highly proficient, and technically ept Ancestry employee had a really bad day, and blogged about it. I completely understand...and do feel sorry for him because it can happen to any of us, at any time.

* "How to download videos from YouTube" by John Newmark on the Transylvanian Dutch blog. I've wanted to know how to do this and was perplexed. Thanks, John!

* "Anniversary on the land-locked cruise ship" by G (the woman who writes the) how to survive suburban life blog. This is a wonderfully funny family history story. How many of us have had experiences like this?

* "The Future of Genealogy Software is Not Hard to See" by Mark Tucker on the ThinkGenealogy blog. I admire people who can think about five and ten years into the future. This is an intriguing post.

* "An Improbable Home" by Thomas MacEntee on the Destination: Austin Family blog. This is a wonderful tribute to Thomas' mother's strong determination and resourcefulness.

* "The World's Smartest Sister" by Craig Manson on the Geneablogie blog. Craig posts about a special birthday for a special person in his life - funny, poignant, nice.

* "An Unconventional Naming Convention" by Chris Dunham on The Genealogue blog. This is a serious post by Chris, and would really upset the genealogy apple cart! Um, how can I tell he was serious? Or Marilyn, for that matter.

* "I'm not in Kansas Anymore" by Becky Wiseman on the Kinexxions blog. Becky has been on the road (read all of her posts, not just this one), visiting people, taking pictures and roaming graveyards.

* "Athalia: Child of Happiness" and "The Mother of Us All" by Tim Abbott on the Walking the Berkshires blog. Tim's grandmother, Athalia, died this week and Tim honors her with several articles about her life.

This list was hard to compile because I have been so busy this last week with other things - and then we went our of town for the weekend.

I hope you enjoy these posts by some of my favorite genea-bloggers and writers. I did!

UPDATED 7:30 PM: Added the Tim Abbott posts!

Day 22 - Holiday Foods

On the 22nd Day of Christmas,
My holiday thoughts turn to food.

1) Did your family have any traditional dishes for the holidays?

Our Christmas dinner (sometimes on Christmas Eve, sometimes on Christmas Day) in San Diego was always turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, peas, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and mince pie. I doubt that I had anything else when I was a child and young adult, at least at my parents or grandparents homes.

When I was married and we visited San Francisco, Linda's parents had one more item - creamed onions.

When my family has Christmas dinner now (us, my brothers, our kids and grandkids), we have - guess what - turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, dressing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. It rarely changes!

2) Was there one dish that you thought was unusual?

For me, it was the creamed onions in San Francisco.

3) Not on Tom's question list, but ... I just have to share it, because it was associated so closely with the dinner.

The absolute highlight of the Christmas dinner was the family competition that followed the meal, but before the dessert. The game was "toss the pea into the glass." In the beginning, it was just my dad and the three boys. There were always leftover peas, so one of us would commandeer the pea bowl and pass peas to the other contestants. Then we would spread out around the table and set up our water glass at equal distances from each other.

The game was to see who could toss the most peas in the water glass opposite them. Of course, the misses weren't contained on top of the table. And the misses were greeted by howls of laughter and derision. Those who put their pea in the glass, shouted out the number of peas they had made so far.

My mother, my wife and the other females would withdraw and not watch, but often commented about "boys being boys." My mother really didn't like this game, and I think she intentionally made fewer peas each year.

To try to assuage her anger and keep family peace, the game has devolved to throwing wadded up paper napkins into the glass or cup. My competitive daughters, and now my sons-in-law (and I'm sure it won't be long before the grandchildren) all participate in the Betty Seaver Memorial Pea Toss - but using napkins in deference to her wishes.