Saturday, December 15, 2007

Book Review - "The Genetic Strand" by Edward Ball

After hearing mention of the book "The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History through DNA" by Edward Ball, I picked it off the "What's New" shelf at the library several weeks ago.

This is the story about Ball's search for his genetic ancestry, using DNA research to determine genetic origins for some of his ancestors. He bought a house in Charleston SC in 2000, and obtained an heirloom desk dating to the mid-1800's, which had a secret drawer. Inside the drawer were nine envelopes with locks of hair, nicely labelled. The locks were from his family members that lived in the 1825-1860 time frame. The book describes the lives of these people and the results from DNA analysis of them.

The book really has two stories - there is a lot of technical DNA description, based on the different tests and testing methods used to determine Y-DNA, mitochondrial DNA and autosomal DNA results. The second, and most interesting, story is the people themselves, the family relationships and the family history uncovered in the search. The book has a very helpful family tree chart in the front, with the names of people found in the narrative, and the contributors of the hair locks denoted.

Four of the hair locks were from males, but all were from the Ball family, so their Y-DNA should be identical, but no Y-DNA can be recovered from hair. However, these four males had three different mothers between them, and the five females with hair locks had two more mothers between them. Two of these "mothers" had the "Ball" surname in earlier generations; this results in five mitochondrial DNA candidates.

There was a rumor of African-American and of Native American heritage in this family, and the author tried very hard to determine if they were true. He had a false positive early in the search with one of the male locks, but a subsequent mtDNA test did not show the tell-tale markers.

A living female second cousin was tested for "ancestral proportions" that showed 85% European, 11% East Asian/Native American and 4% Sub-Saharan African ancestry, which indicated possible "race-mixing" five generations before. The author thought he knew which great-grandparent was the result of this event, but could not find any records for the parents of Kate Fuller (1857-1893).

The author and a male second cousin had their Y-DNA tested and it was found to be identical for the two of them. The author described several other Y-DNA test results, including the Jefferson-Hemings data, to cover the subject.

Lastly, the author explores cousin marriages, mental depression and lead poisoning using toxicology analysis of the hair locks. He found significant lead content in several of the males - 1,400 micrograms, almost 6 times the threshold for alarm. He postulated that wealthy families had Wedgwood "china" with a glaze with high lead content, and this might be the origin of early family deaths. He also discussed mercury and asbestos poisoning.

All in all, this was an interesting book for me because of the family history details, the detective search process and the application of the DNA results to the family history. However, many of the DNA technical descriptions were mind-numbing for me. The discussions the author had with some of the analysts was useful and their examples of other research results was interesting.

12 Days of a Genealogy Christmas

A genealogy oriented version of the Twelve Days of Christmas is available on the Internet - see Kimberly Powell's site at

I decided I would do my own based on using computer genealogy, my own needs and my own research:

On the 12th day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me --

Twelve RevWar pension files (12)

Eleven passenger lists (22)

Ten WorldConnect entries (30)

Nine message board postings (36)

Eight probate records (40)

Seven census pages (42)

Six deed abstracts (42)

Five blog readers (40)

Four marriage records (36)

Three family Bibles (30)

Two draft card images (22)

And a new name in my family tree. (12)

I've put the total number in parenthesis of each item - if you sing the song all the way through, going one number at a time.

My true love is a busy girl, isn't she? But, but, but ... that would take all the fun out of the search, wouldn't it?

Day 9 - Christmas at School

On the 9th day of Christmas,
I got dressed up as a tree
for the school play pageantry.

1) What did you do to celebrate Christmas at school?

My elementary school days were in 1948-1955, and I really don't remember much about Christmas activities at school. We must have made Christmas cards for our siblings and parents and grandparents. And paper chains to decorate the Christmas tree or the house. We probably made "hands" in clay, or paperweights with our picture on them, or some little gift like that for our parents. We probably sang some Christmas songs - especially the secular ones like Frosty, Jingle Bells, Rudolph, etc.

2) Were you ever in a Christmas Pageant?

Again, I don't recall (perhaps conveniently?). If I was, it was probably as a tree or a shepherd or a wise man with no speaking part. I was terribly frightened of public speaking until after college.

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 14, 2007

Comparison of HQO and Footnote Pages

In my last post, I compared the content of the Revolutionary War Pension File of Philip Row of Tewksbury NJ on HeritageQuestOnline (12 selected pages only) and on Footnote (48 pages, the entire file).

In this post, I want to show a comparison of the same page on both web sites. The first document is page 3 from the HQO file - the first page of Mary Row's affidavit. It is a .GIF file (147 kb) and the writing is extremely clear. The background has not been "adjusted" to take out "noise" or "dots" (hmmm, probably not the proper technical term!) on the page.

The image from Footnote below is page 4 from Philip Row's pension file. It is a .jpg file (536 kb). The image is "softer" - there are no obvious "dots" in the background, and the writing is not as easy to read.

All of the pages on Footnote are similar - they appear to have been visually adjusted to take out the background "noise" through some process. However, large blotches on pages have not been adjusted or removed, based on a comparison of other pages in this Pension File.

Comparison of HQO and Footnote RevWar Pension Files

I went to the Family History Center on Wednesday and captured complete Revolution War and Bounty Warrant files for two of my Revolutionary War soldiers - Isaac Buck of Sterling MA and Philip Row of Tewksbury NJ.

The San Diego FHC has access to Footnote in their Premium Database links on the computer systems. I thought it would be useful to compare the pages included in the complete file (assuming the file on Footnote is complete) with the pages I downloaded last year from HeritageQuestOnline, which has only "selected pages" available online.

On the HeritageQuestOnline site (accessed by library card), the Pension File W2350 for Philip Row of Tewksbury NJ has 12 pages:

1. Cover sheet for File W2350.
2. Outside view of the cover of the Pension Packet.
3-6. Letter request for a pension from Mary Row, widow of Philip Row, written in 1840, which testifies to her husband's service, their marriage, and her continuing widowhood.
7-8. Family paper with marriage information on it, two views.
9-10. last two pages of Mary Row's letter (same as 5-6)
11-12. Letter request for reconsideration from son Philip Rowe of Indiana.

On the Footnote site, the Pension File W2350 for Philip Row of Tewksbury NJ has 48 pages:

1. Cover sheet for File W2350.
2. Outside view of the cover of the Pension Packet.
3. Inside view of the cover of the Pension Packet.
4-7. Letter request for a pension from Mary Row, widow of Philip Row, dated 4 February 1840, which testifies to her husband's service, their marriage, and her continuing widowhood.
8-9. Family paper, two views, submitted to prove the marriage of Mary Smith and Philip Row, in German with English translation.
10. last page of Mary Row's letter (same as 7)
11-14. Letter affidavit from John Blane, dated 3 February 1840, testifying to his concurrent service with Philip Row.
15-16. Letter affidavit from William Youngs, dated 4 February 1840, testifying to his concurrent service with Philip Row.
17-19. Letter to Secretary of Interior dated 27 May 1850 by Lewis Condict, pension examiner in NJ. 20. NJ Bounty Warrant data showing pay for Reinhart's regiment.
21-22. Letter request for reconsideration from son Philip Rowe of Indiana.
23-24. Letter from Will Cumbach in 1856 asking for information on behalf of Philip Rowe.
25-29. 2nd Letter to Secretary of Interior dated 14 May 1850 by Lewis Condict asking for resolution of appeals to rejected claims.
30. Approval of report letter from Secretary of Interior to Lewis Condict dated 19 June 1850
31-35. Rejection Letter from Secretary of Interior dated 11 September 1847 to Lewis Condict for Mary Row and Mary Beach.
36-37. Letter to Secretary of Interior dated 27 May 1850 by Lewis Condict appealing decision.
38. Letter to Secretary of War dated 27 May 1850 from Mahlon Dickerson testifying to character of Lewis Condict.
39-43. Request on 24 December 1846 by Lewis Condict to Secretary of War withdraw arguments for several pension cases.
44-45. Letter of 14 August 1847 from Lewis Condict to Secretary of War submitting appeal in cases of Mary Row and Mary Beach.
46-47. Letter to Secretary of War by Congressman John L. Robinson dated 28 May 1850 requesting approval of pensions for Mary Row and Mary Beach.
48. Letter dated 14 August 1847 from Lewis Condict to Secretary of War soliciting an appeal.

For this particular case, the HQO file included the letter from the applicant, Mary Row, and her son Philip Rowe. However, it did not include the supporting letters by two comrades of Philip Row, which provide more detail about his service and their experiences, nor all of the correspondence between Lewis Condict and the Departments of War and Interior concerning the application, the rejection, the appeals, etc.

It's an interesting comparison, isn't it? I don't understand why they duplicated some pages in both files.

Needless to say, the Footnote file provides a lot of information about the approval, rejection and appeals process. I'm guessing that the entire file was transferred back and forth by mail or courier between Lewis Condict and the different government Departments each time a letter was sent. How else would they have all of these papers, unless they made a handwritten copy on both ends of the correspondence?

Perhaps one of my astute readers know the answer to this question.

Day 10 - The Family Journal

On the 10th day of Christmas,
I sent to all my relatives
this year's Family Journal to read.

1) What helps you remember Christmases past?

My Christmas gift to my aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and children is a 16 page (usually) family journal, called the "Seaver-Richmond Family Journal." This was my 20th year of doing this family journal. I end up sending about 25 copies out every year to the extended family. I print them on my own color inkjet printer two-sided, which is a major production.

Fred Seaver and Bessie Richmond married in 1900 in Leominster MA and had seven children, 6 of whom lived to adulthood and married, five of whom had a total of 11 children. This family line is 3/4 New England colonial immigrant (Seaver, Hildreth and White), and 1/4 English immigrant (Richman/Richmond, immigrated in 1855).

The content of my family journal has changed over time. I used to print more lines of descent from famous or notable people, and more lines from immigrant ancestors to my grandparents generation. However, I ran out of these types of articles several years ago - I had covered all of the family lines with 5-generations or more.

In recent years, I've added more family photos - both of the older generations and the new generations - young families with babies and the like. I've also written more memorials as the aunts and uncles have died.

Last year, the Table of Contents looked like:

* 2006 Family Search - page 1
* What's Inside? - page 1
* The Ancestry of Fred and Bessie (Richmond) Seaver Book Project - page 2
* Seaver and Richmond Photo Collection - page 2

* Seaver-Richmond Ancestry on the Internet - page 2
* The "Genea-Musings" Blog - page 2
* Charles Alvin Seifert (1945-2006) - page 3

* Seaver Family News (1900 to 1950) From The Fitchburg Sentinel - page 4
* New England Vacation Pictures - page 5

* Smock Marriages (by Sidney Perley) - page 6
* Seaver/Hildreth Gravestones - page 7
* Earthquakes in Colonial New England - page 8
* More Seaver Newspaper Articles From The Fitchburg Sentinel - page 8
* Immigrant Ancestors - Caleb Carr (1616-1695) of Newport RI - pages 9,10
* Immigrant Ancestors - Giles Slocum (1623-1683) of Portsmouth RI - pages 11, 12
* Immigrant Ancestors - Simon Stone (1586-1665) of Watertown MA - pages 13, 14
* Logan Scott H*** Born - page 15
* Megan Seifert Weds - page 15
* Lewis Soule Weds - page 15
* Picture of the Soule Girls - page 15
* Answers to the Family History Quiz - page 16
* Finis - page 16

The 2007 Edition Table of Contents includes:

* 2007 Family Search - page 1
* What's Inside? - page 1
* Aunt Gerry's Photograph Collection - page 2
* Seaver-Richmond Ancestry on the Internet - page 2
* Geraldine (Seaver) Remley (1917-2007) - page 3

* James Howard Remley (1912-2007) - page 4
* Remarks at Aunt Gerry's Service by Randy Seaver - pages 5,6
* Gerry's Young Life in Pictures (Wasn't she cute? And beautiful?) - page 7
* Thomas Code Seaver Adopted - page 8
* Beth Soule Marries - page 8
* Pictures of Isaac and Lucretia (Smith) Seaver - page 8
* The Seaver Family Homes in Leominster and Fitchburg - pages 9, 10
* Colonial Ancestors - Job Card (1653-1739) of Rhode Island - pages 11,12
* Barack Obama is a Seaver and Richmond Cousin - page 13
* Mitt Romney is a Seaver Cousin - page 14
* Mary and Jonas - Love Rather Than Money - page 15
* Another Seaver/Richmond Family History Quiz - page 16
* Finis - page 16

The production process is pretty simple. I use last year's MSWord document as a template - but delete the content and save it as a new document. Then I add content over a 7 to 10 day period, based on family papers and photographs, material from my blog, the Internet or my genealogy databases. When the content is completed, then I print off 25 copies (16 pages, in color, two-sided). I save it also as a PDF file to put on CDROMs to give to family members who want one.

It's funny - even though I ask the family for pictures and stories, either by snail mail, email or in person, I never receive anything from them. Maybe they are bored by it all; maybe it slips their mind or they think they don't have anything to contribute. I do get compliments in the Christmas cards I receive, so I think they appreciate the effort.

I sent the Family Journal, along with our family Christmas letter, off to the cousins yesterday. I have copies at home for my brother, my niece and my daughters and will gift them with it on Christmas Day. Hopefully, we will share a bit more about Gerry and Jim, and memories of our parents and grandparents.

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 13, 2007

Dear Genea-Man: What is "proof"?

Dear Genea-Man,

For "proof," must I have a birth, death or marriage certificate or is something else considered "proof", i.e. Census info? Are birth, death or marriage certificates the only way to resolve conflicting information?

Dear Colleague,

Your question about "proof" is the hardest one to answer definitively in all of genealogy research - "how much and what kind of evidence is enough?" And then you asked the next hardest question - "how do I resolve conflicts in information?"

For some organizations such as lineage societies, you must submit "proof" in the form of birth, marriage and death certificates, wills, deeds, Bible records, naturalization records, military records, etc. If you cannot adequately document the relationships to their standards, then you haven't proved your claimed line.

For all of your research problems (especially when there are sparse or no vital records available), you need to collect every scrap of evidence that you can from every place that holds them, and then you weigh that evidence and draw conclusions. If there are vital records available, you should still try to gather all evidence you can, because one or more items in a record may be wrong (e.g., a birth, death or marriage certificate is only as good as the knowledge and communication skills of the person providing the information, and the ability of the clerk to accurately record the information - the clerk is not an omniscient person).

The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is described in some detail on the Board of Certified Genealogists (BCG) web site at and in lots of detail in the book BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (see There are examples of sample work products from successful certification portfolios and published articles at Look at the Proof Argument articles and the Research Report examples.

Original source records are better than derivative source records, Primary information is better than secondary information, direct evidence is better than indirect evidence. However, many relationships have been proved by indirect evidence obtained from secondary information in derivative sources, as long as the Genealogical Proof Standard has been applied to the evaluation. The key is the exhaustive search for records and then resolving any conflicts in evidence.

You can learn a lot by reading what other researchers have done. There are case studies in each issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) ( and New England Historical and Genealogical Register (NEHGR) ( journals (among others). Many libraries, including Chula Vista's, has many years of these on the shelf, but they cannot be borrowed.

There are also many articles on these subjects online at Ancestry - go to (it's free) and input search words like "proof evidence sources" and you will get many hits.

I input "conflicting" into the search box and found these articles (out of 423 matches):

* "Evaluating Evidence" by Patricia Law Hatcher at

* "Corroborating or Conflicting Evidence" by Patricia Law Hatcher at

* "Corroborating or Conflicting Evidence - Part 2" by Patricia Law Hatcher at

* "When It Just Doesn't Add Up" by Juliana Smith at

* "Using Clues: The Pros and Cons of Secondary Information" by Juliana Smith at

* "Weighing the Evidence" by George G. Morgan at

* "Building a Case When No Record 'Proves' A Point" by Elizabeth Shown Mills at

There are many other articles by respected and professional genealogists in this Ancestry article archive. There are also general and specific books about Records, Information, Sources, Evidence, Proof, etc. - you can buy them at the Ancestry Store (, Amazon ( or the specific book publisher web sites.

Stephen Danko had an excellent series of articles in August 2006 discussing these issues, with examples of his critical evaluation of the evidence, on his blog - see

* A Preponderance of Evidence
* The Genealogical Proof Standard
* Complete, Accurate Citations
* Original Sources, Derivative Sources, Exact Images, and Original Records
* New Definitions of Original Source and Derivative Source (A Proposal)
* Primary and Secondary Information
* Evaluating the Quality of Aunt Mary's Records

I am convinced that many genealogy research problems can be solved by applying the GPS - doing the exhaustive record search, critically evaluating all evidence, resolving conflicts and arriving at a reasoned conclusion. The challenge for each of us is doing it with limited knowledge, time and resources.


This is a question from one of my society colleagues who is trying to do research the right way. The society members range in experience from beginner to advanced, and there is so much material available that it can be overwhelming to many members. I write these answers hoping that they will gain knowledge by breaking it down into a manageable reading list, and then hoping they will apply the lessons learned to gain experience and confidence. It also helps focus my research efforts, and perhaps it will help some of my readers learn more about genealogy research and family history. As you can tell, I am NOT an expert in this field - just a genealogist with a keyboard.

What should I have added here? Any more suggestions for articles and books? Any online seminars or videos that address this issue?

A Genealogy Carol - "O Family Tree"

As we approach the Christmas season, I'm going to use some of the material I've collected for many years. Today - the song "O Family Tree" - sung to the tune of "O Tannenbaum" or "O Christmas Tree"

O Family Tree, O Family Tree
How sturdy are your branches.
O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
How sturdy are your branches.
Through many years in ages past
You have shown the strength to last.
O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
How sturdy are your branches.

O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
There is so much for you to tell.
O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
There is so much for you to tell.
Reveal to me your mystery
As I research my ancestry.
O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
There is so much for you to tell.

O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
Show to me my heritage.
O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
Show to me my heritage.
I learn from you so I can see
A part of you lives on in me.
O Family Tree, O Family Tree,
Show to me my heritage.

-- Author unknown --

If someone knows the author of this, please let me know.

Blog-Caroling - "Angels We Have Heard on High"

Our genea-blogging friend footnoteMaven has started a Blog Caroling meme here - we are supposed to claim our favorite Christmas Carol.

I mentioned "Angels we Have Heard On High" in my Christmas Arts post yesterday, and I think this is just about my favorite - maybe because of the Latin in it? Or because I can sing it in J-sharp and no one notices because of the joy it brings everone else?

Angels We Have Heard on High

Angels we have heard on high,
Singing sweetly through the night,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their brave delight.

Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why these songs of happy cheer?
What great brightness did you see?
What glad tiding did you hear?

Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Come to Bethlehem and see Him
whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee
Christ, the Lord, the new-born King.

Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

See him in a manger laid
Whom the angels praise above;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While we raise our hearts in love.

Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.


Musicologists have decided that this anonymous French tune was probably created around the eighteenth century. Some legends place its origin as as early as the second century.

Traditional French Carol
Words: Tra­di­tion­al French car­ol (Les Anges dans nos Cam­pagnes).
Trans­lat­ed from French to Eng­lish by James Chad­wick (1813-1882); ap­peared in Crown of Jesus, 1862.
Music: “Gloria (Barnes),” French carol melody; ar­ranged by Ed­ward S. Barnes.

Recorded/Performed: Andy Williams - 1970

Also recorded by: Tennessee Ernie Ford; Mormon Tabernacle Choir; Tommy Greer; Clancey Brothers; Scarlet Rivera; Eric Rigler; Madeline McNeil; Dandi Patty; Nat King Cole; Lorie Line; Connie Brown; Scott Miller; Vienna Boys Choir; Percy Faith; Collin Raye; Frankie Gavin; Texas Boys Choir; Mel Weston; Donny Osmond.

Day 11 - Fruitcake - Friend or foe?

On the 11th Day of Christmas,
some joker sent to me
the biggest fruitcake I ever did see!

1) Did you like fruitcake?

I don't recall ever eating more than one bite of fruitcake, so I don't know if I like it or not. I think probably not...

2) Did your family receive fruitcakes?

As a kid, I don't think so. We didn't get many gifts from out of town, and no one here, except probably Cousin Dorothy who was "different," received them.

3) Have you ever re-gifted fruitcake?

I recall that Linda and I received one by opening a gift at a Christmas party, and we promptly re-gifted at the New Years Party - to much laughter. We had to disguise it in a box, though.

4) Have you ever devised creative uses for fruitcake?

Of course...examples -- Petrified Fruitcake (surprise your favorite geologist)? Fruitcake fights (hidden in a snowball)? Fruitcake-eating contest (go for a Guinness world record)? Juicy-Fruitcake gum (hide it under your best friend's desk)? Scantily clad girl surprises 90-year old on his birthday by jumping out of a large fruitcake (Ah, the mind wanders, er, well, I should be so lucky in 25 years)?

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.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

LDS Record Search is adding content

On the way home from the FHC today, I thought to myself "I really need to check and see what the LDS FamilySearch Record Search has added recently." So - here are the databases that I found at :

1) Census Records

* 1850 US Census Population Schedules - partial set of images for 33 states/territories, no index yet.
* 1850 US Census Mortality Schedules - partial set of images for 16 states/territories, no index yet.
* 1850 US Census Slave Schedules - partial set of images for 18 states/territories, no index yet.
* 1880 US Population Schedules - every-name index, but no images available, no family groups either.
* 1895 Argentina Census - every-name index, with images
* 1930 Mexico Census - partial set of images from 31 states, no index yet.

2) Migration

* New York Passenger Arrival Lists (New York), 1892-1924 -- every-name index, links to images.

3) Military

* World War II Draft Registration Cards (fourth draft, men born 1877-1897) -- partial set of images from 6 states, no index yet.

4) Land and Property

* Vermont Land Records, Early to 1900 -- partial set of images, by county and town, no index yet.

5) Court and Legal Records

* England, Cheshire, Register of Electors (1842-1900) -- every-name index and images complete.
* Freedman's Bank Records, 1866-1874 -- every-name index and images complete.
* Maryland, Cecil County Probate Estate Files, 1851-1940 -- every-name index and images complete.

6) Vital Records

* England, Diocese of Durham Bishops Transcripts, ca 1700-1900 -- images only, no index yet.
* Freedman's Bureau, Virginia Marriages, ca 1815-1866 -- images and index for 5 Virginia counties
* Georgia Deaths, 1914-1927 -- images and every-name index complete
* Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953 -- images and every-name index complete
* Ontario Deaths, 1869-1947 -- every-name index and database, no images.
* Texas Death Index, 1964-1998 -- every-name index and database, no images
* US Social Security Death Index -- every-name index and database, no images
* Utah Death Certificates, 1904-1956 -- every name index and images complete.

You will have to register, for free, to use the FamilySearch Record Search site, but it is well worth the effort.

The image viewer (when there are images) takes a little time to figure out - there is a "Zoom Bar" in the upper right hand corner, and you move around the image by using the "Magic Hand" to move the image up, down, right, left.

There are several new databases on that list that I haven't looked at yet -how about you?

Day 12 - Christmas and the Arts

On the 12th Day of Christmas,
my true love accompanied me
to witness a Living Christmas Tree!

1) Did your family attend any special events or performances during the holidays?

As a child, the only special performances we attended were the school plays and sing-alongs with myself or my brother trying to remember the words and not sing too badly off key.

As a parent, we attended quite a few of the school plays and other events that our daughters were involved in - they at least could sing pretty much on key.

Our church had a "Living Christmas Tree" program for about 15 years (performed two or three times each year) - with tableaux, actors and narration telling the Christmas story, and the choir singing Christmas songs. Because of my beard (probably the only real criteria), I always got to be a "wise man" - one of the Three Kings who brought gifts to the Christ child. We walked down the aisle, presented the gifts, and looked adoringly at the plastic Jesus in the small wooden manger. We even got to sing a bit in the final act - always "Adeste Fidelis" or "Angels We Have Heard on High." However, if I got too exuberant, they always told me to try to sing in some key other than my normal J-sharp.

When she was a young teenager, my daughter Tami was the "Angel" in these productions, and got to "fly" over the congregation once, I think.

Linda and I have attended several Lamb's Players Theatre (a local theatre group) Christmas productions at their theatre in Coronado and the dinner production of "An American Christmas" at the Hotel del Coronado. Both are excellent, and we try to do this every so often.

Participating in the Living Christmas Tree always gave me a calm and reverent attitude during the Christmas season - I felt good doing it and it created in me a spirit of thankfulness, and of giving and receiving gifts.

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 11, 2007

NEHGS Online Seminars

The New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston has a number of relatively short online seminars for members to benefit at a distance from the expertise of the NEHGS staff. The seminars currently offered at include:

* Finding Your Ancestors Online by D. Joshua Taylor

* Methods of Finding a Wife's Maiden Name by David Curtis Dearborn, FASG

* NEHGS Resources OnLine by Marie E. Daly

* Civil War Pension Research: Union Soldiers by David Allen Lambert

* Who Was Your Mother's Mother's Mother's Mother? by Julie Helen Otto

* Getting Started in Irish Genealogy Part 1 by Marie E. Daly

* Applying to Lineage Societies by Christopher Challender Child

* Genealogical Tips: Transcribing Gravestones by David Allen Lambert

* Getting Started in Genealogy - Part 1 by Marie E. Daly

* Getting Started in Genealogy - Part 2 by Marie E. Daly

* Getting Started in Genealogy - Part 3 by Marie E. Daly.

The presentations are done in FlashPlayer - you see the slide and hear the speaker - you can click on the next slide any time you want, or go back a slide or two to hear something again.

These presentations are excellent, and are a great opportunity to learn about the topics presented by expert genealogists.

I believe that access to these presentations is FREE to everyone. I logged out of my subscription account and was able to access the presentations. If that is not the case, would someone please let me know? Thanks.

"New England Ancestors" Magazine TOC - Holiday 2007 Issue

The Holiday 2007 issue of the New England Ancestors magazine, Volume 8, Numbers 5-6, came last week, and I really enjoyed reading it. This magazine is published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and is included in a society membership (which is $75 a year).

The Table of Contents lists the following Features:

* "New England Moves West: Connecticut's Pennsylvania 'Colony' " by Donna Bingham Munger -- page 21.
* "Finding the Whole Truth: The Terry Family of the Wyoming Valley" by Stephen C. Young -- page 26.
* "Salem witch Judge: The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall" by Eve LaPlante -- page 30
* "Friendship Books: An Overlooked Source for Genealogists" by Marjorie Hubbell Gibson -- page 33
* "Bring Your Ancestors to Life" by James and Marianna Carbine -- page 36
* "Ten Further Notable American Cousins of Diana, Princess of Wales" by Gary Boyd Roberts -- page 38
* "Ebenezer Knight Dexter's Enduring Gift to Providence" by Edwin M. Knights, Jr -- page 41.

The Columns Include:

* Computer Genealogist - "Computer Security by Rhonda R. McClure -- page 45
* Computer Genealogist Spotlight - "British History Online" by Connie Reik
* Genetics & Genealogy - "The Coddington DNA Study Project" by Jonathan Coddington -- page 48
* Manuscripts at NEHGS - "Update on the John Insley Coddington Papers" by Timothy G.X. Salls -- page 51
* Bible Records at NEHGS - "The Bush and Loomis Bible, Part Two" by Robert Shaw -- page 53
* Tales from the Courthouse - "The Case of the Stone-Throwing Devil" by Diane Rapaport.

In addition, there are the UpFront department articles with Greetings, In This Issue, Letters and Feedback, Announcements, Education Programs and Tours, and New England Online.

I really learned a lot from the article about Connecticut's Pennsylvania Colony and the history of this area. I don't think I have any of my ancestors in this settlement, but I need to consider it when helping others. The Samuel Sewall, and Ebenezer Dexter articles were fascinating for different reasons - Sewall was involved in the Salem Witch Trials and I have a Rebecca Nurse connection, and the Dexter article is about the "asylum" he built in Providence in the 1800's - I am always searching for Seaver people in obscure records for my one-name study. The Coddington DNA Project results are intriguing too.

In the Letters and Feedback department, there are three entries to the "My Most Challenging Brick Wall" stories - they are typical of New England elusive ancestors. The New England Online "From the Desk of the Online Genealogist" article by Michael J. Leclerc had answers to five queries submitted by readers was very interesting. Lastly, the 2007 index was included in this issue.

Occasionally, when I'm bored with routine genealogy work, I re-read these magazines and see what I have missed or forgotten, and especially note earlier articles that may help solve a recently surfaced problem.

This magazine provides a nice balance between traditional repository research and online database research - and reinforces the thought that you cannot do everything in genealogy research online, and probably never will be able to do it all online.

Day 13 - Charitable/Volunteer Work

On the 13th Day of Christmas,
My true love gives to the community
Her time, prayers and compassion.

1) Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women's shelter during the holidays?

These are difficult questions for the Genea-Scrooge...

I don't think my parents ever did this in the 1940-1980 time frame. Charity was not on the radar, other than dropping coins in the Salvation Army kettles.

Our church has hosted a homeless shelter for two weeks twice a year, and the shelter is there this week and next. We donate food items to this, but haven't been physically present at the shelter. Linda went down on Saturday to help set up the shelter cots and bedding.

Linda has been part of the Forest Home Women's Auxiliary for many years - Forest Home is a Christian camp in the San Bernardino mountains that our family attended for many years when the kids were kids. The Auxiliary has run a thrift shop in La Mesa for many years until just recently. We donated many clothing and household items over the years, and Linda worked one day a month at the shop.

Randy has essentially sat on his butt and not done anything of charitable value...sad to say.

2) Were you able to make the holidays special for someone less fortunate?

The people that I can think of are Linda's great-aunts who lived alone in San Francisco during the 1970's. We would go pick them up and bring them to Linda's parents house for Christmas dinner and gift exchange.

Over the years, we have occasionally invited some of the elderly church members with no local family to Christmas dinner with us, and they really appreciate the invitation and invariably are enthusiastic, friendly and fun.

Linda is a Deacon at church this year, and the Deacons usually "adopt" one or more church families, or friends of church families, who won't have Christmas gifts for their children or need help with meals. She is one of two persons who go with the pastor to serve communion to the shut-in church members.

Needless to say, I almost didn't respond to this prompt, but what the heck - my readers need to know that I'm a Genea-Scrooge sometimes, at least when it concerns the community. Maybe it's genetic, or a learned behavior?

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.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wikipedia article on Genealogy improved

The Wikipedia article on "Genealogy" was not "wonderful" until recently. The first paragraph read (as of 29 October):

"Genealogy (from Greek: γενεα, genea, "family"; and λόγος, logos, "knowledge") is the study and tracing of family pedigrees. This involves the collection of the names of relatives, both living and deceased, and establishing the relationships among them based on primary, secondary and/or circumstantial evidence or documentation, thus building up a cohesive family tree. Genealogy (often misspelled "geneology"[1]) is often also referred to as family history, although these terms may be used distinctly: the former being the basic study of who is related to whom; the latter involving more "fleshing out" of the lives and personal histories of the individuals involved."

Today, the opening paragraph reads:

"Genealogy (from Greek: γενεα, genea, "family"; and λόγος, logos, "knowledge") is the study and tracing of families. Because many unrelated individuals can share a common name, modern genealogical research is more than a collection of names affixed to pedigree charts. Rather, genealogy involves identifying living and deceased individuals, differentiating between individuals who bear the same name in the same place and time, establishing biological or genetic kinships, and reassembling families. By modern standards, reliable conclusions are based on the quality of sources (ideally original records, rather than derivatives), the information within those sources (ideally primary or firsthand information, rather than secondary or secondhand information), and the evidence that can be drawn (directly or indirectly) from that information. In many instances, genealogists must skillfully assemble circumstantial evidence to build a case for identity and kinship. All evidence and conclusions, together with the documentation that supports them, is then assembled to create a cohesive "genealogy" or "family history".[1] Traditionalists may differentiate between these last two terms, using the former to describe skeletal accounts of kinship (aka family trees) and the latter as a "fleshing out" of lives and personal histories. However, historical, social, and family context is still essential to achieving correct identification of individuals and relationships."

John Newmark and Elizabeth Shown Mills have taken the lead in sprucing the article up - there is a lot more than just the opening paragraph. At least the opening paragraph is accurate, is written by a renowned genealogist, and is a significant upgrade over the previous version.

It is interesting to see the History of the Genealogy entry - you can see all of the changes, with comparisons to the previous entry and to the current entry, here.

This "problem" has been a discussion item on the APG mailing list for the past few days - the first entry was here. The discussion quickly turned from "politically correct" to "let's fix the genealogy entry" to the latest fix. Undoubtedly there will be more additions and corrections. It's fascinating to watch (at least to me!) the editing process at work!

My compliments to John and Elizabeth for doing a professional job of improving the entry.

Della's Journal - Week 50 (December 10-16, 1929)

This is Installment 50 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 50 -


Tuesday, December 10: I went to town, pd last Paving & Ed's sewer. Put $17 of Ma's in bank of Italy.

Wednesday, December 11 (warm): Peck came to fix leaky faucets and toilets in both upper flats. Mr. Puterman called. Augie came over for a while. We sewed a little, fixed Ma's waist.

Thursday, December 12 (pleasant): I made on my pajamas & Ma's.

Friday, December 13 (warm): Ma wrote Aunt Libbie. We cleaned dining room. I cut out Ma's under skirt drab satune [???? what does that mean?].

Saturday, December 14 (foggy nights): Ed did not come over. We worked on sewing & Miss Thoren pd rent.

Sunday, December 15 (pleasant): Mrs. Chapman over a while in afternoon. I went with Lyle's out to Spring Valley, got oranges & eggs. Took washboard out to Mrs. Tompson in Ma's house.

Monday, December 16 (warm): I went out to Mrs. Schmidt's, took my lunch & ate with Mrs. Snyder. Visited a while then went downtown, did a little shopping for Xmas. A[ustin] got pay.


This was a really boring week from my point of view! She seems to be writing just one thing on many days - perhaps she's not writing every day and "catching up."

Day 14 - Holiday Travel

On the 14th day of Christmas,
we packed up the car to go
All the way to San Francisco.

1) Did you travel anywhere for Christmas?

As a kid, we never traveled anywhere for Christmas, other than to Cousin Dorothy's, my grandparents and the Christmas tree lot.

After we were married, we would alternate Christmas between San Diego and San Francisco, because Linda's parents and brother were there. They would come to San Diego one year, and we would go to San Francisco the next year. Until the kids were older, we usually flew to San Francisco on Christmas Day and returned before New Years Day. As the kids grew older, we would drive to San Francisco, usually leaving on the 23rd and arriving on the 24th. This let us do some winter vacationing in Yosemite and other places.

Our daughters started their own families, and so now, in alternate years, we drive to Tami's in Victorville several days ahead of Christmas, then go on to Lori's in Santa Cruz on the 23rd, then go on to Monte Rio to visit Linda's brother after Christmas. We usually stop back at Lori's on the way home.

2) How did you travel and who traveled with you?

We either flew to San Francisco and were picked up by Linda's father or brother, or we drove the 550 miles, usually up Highway 101 because it wasn't as subject to snow, ice and fog like Interstate 5 was.

Now, we almost always drive alone, as described above.

3) Do you remember any special trips?

The trip to Yosemite after Christmas in about 1987 was the best! The girls were young teenagers and loved to travel. We stayed in a motel, but were able to wander around the lodge, see the waterfalls, bike around the valley, and go to the ski resort. There, we did some sliding on mats (I think), had snowball fights, watched the skiers, and enjoyed hot drinks in the lodge. That night, we visited Linda's cousin in Fresno and stayed the night, and headed home the next day.

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.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Best of the Genea-blogs - December 2-8, 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 Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" hosted by Thomas MacEntee at the Destination: Austin Family blog. This is a daily Carnival of Christmas memories by genealogy bloggers. Click on a date and see the list of posts.

* "Could Dick Eastman be Misleading Us?" by John D. Reid at the Anglo-Celtic connections blog. John discusses statements made by noted blogger Dick Eastman about DNA tests and results, and asks some hard questions.

* "Mont Blanc at Christmas" by G. at the how to survive suburban life blog. This is really about how to roast chestnuts, and it is a long process. G. gives us stories about re-creating a Hungarian tradition in Canada.

* "Where DOES One Put Those Research Reports?" by Pat Richley on the DearMYRTLE blog. Pat has some good ideas about making and filing notes, genealogy reports and other information.

* "Libel and Fair Use and Defamation, Oh My!" by fM at the footnoteMaven blog. fM provides a funny and telling video about libel, fair use and defamation and warns bloggers to consider the implications of what they use.

* "Genealogy, Life is Good!" by Jimmy Kavanagh at the Genealogy Gifts blog. This is my favorite genealogy design so far for T-shirts, bags, and other stuff. Jimmy has other good ones too - check them out.

That's all I wrote down this week - I'm sure I missed many excellent posts, but I can't go back and look at over 200 blogs on my Bloglines list.

Day 15 -- Christmas Gifts

On the 15th day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
The greatest gift of all - her love.

1) What were your favorite gifts, both to give and to receive?

I'm guessing at the date, but on about this date in 1969 I realized just how much Linda loved me and that I really loved her also. We had known each other for almost two years, but had been seriously dating only four months. As we made plans for Christmas with our respective families (mine in San Diego, hers in San Francisco), we talked openly about how much we meant to each other. I don't remember the physical gift we gave to each other at Christmas 1969, but I do know we gave each other a gift of commitment and happiness. The proposal was yet to come on Valentine's Day in 1970 (see, I was Mr. Romantic before I started doing genealogy), but this was the happiest Christmas of my life even though we were apart on December 25.

As a child, the best Christmas of all was 1954, when my brother Stan and I got our Davy Crockett coonskin caps and our Daisy BB guns for Christmas. Next best was 1955, when we got our Flexible Flyers, and the next best was 1956 when we got new bicycles. With the Flexies and bikes, we could roam all over San Diego and deliver our paper route on wheels - they meant freedom. We had had older bikes before this, but these were new with balloon tires and better brakes (still braking with the pedals, though).

Nowadays, I can count on receiving something electronic (I'm hoping for a photo keychain fob) and photographs of the grandchildren from my daughters and their families, some Hawaiian shirts and HP ink cartridges from Linda, and I usually treat myself to some genealogy books after the holiday. I usually get Linda some clothing - usually colorful (aqua, green, blue, red, purple) tops, gift certificates and perhaps a promise of a cruise or vacation.

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.