Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Best of Genea-Musings for 2007

Her are my nominations for the Best posts on Genea-Musings for 2007, in my judgment. I haven't ranked them yet, and would appreciate your input as to which was the best.
* Yep, Barack Obama is My Cousin! from 2 February.

* 5 Best Genealogy Research Sites in San Diego from 11 February.

* The House I Grew Up In from 22 February.

* Shadows of a Live Man from 3 April.

* My Digital Wish List from 11 April.

* The Crystal Ball: Part I -- Will All Records be Digitized? from 21 April

* The Genealogy "Time Tunnel" from 11 May.

* Why Join a Genealogy Society? from 15 May.

* 12 "Suggestions for Researchers" from 22 May.

* Dear Genea-Man: How Do I Find My Grandfather? from 30 May.

* Dear Genea-Man: Why Can't I Find My Ancestor in the Census? from 6 June.

* My Census Whacking Index from 7 June.

* Crystal Ball: Part 2 - Digitizing Records from 21 June.

* Then (1988) and Now (2007) from 22 June.

* Genealogy Research is NOT Bunk! from 27 June.

* A Challenging Moral Dilemma from 24 July.

* 25 Genealogy Web Sites I Can't Do Without from 25 July.

* TANSTAAFL from 26 August.

* Who Will Decide What Is Correct? from 31 August.

* Was Daniel Boone an Ancestor of Pat Boone? from 31 August.

* The Mother of All Genealogy Databases from 21 September.

* Dear Genea-Man: How do I Find Someone to do Research For Me? from 21 October.

* Genea-Musings Greatest Hits from 24 October.

* The Future of Genealogy - My Turn from 1 November.

* "Ge-ne-al-o-gy" by Randy from 7 November.

* Elusive Ancestors in New England from 20 November.

* Dear Genea-Man: How Do I access This Book? from 8 December.

* Dear Genea-Man: What is "Proof?" from 13 December.

By the time I added all the ones that I want to consider, it came to 28 - out of 990 to date in 2007. All of them are prolix and befuddling, not a terse one among them. They read like I am being paid by the word or the line, or the bullet point.

Oh well - I guess I should be able to find the Best One from that selection!

What say you? Which was the Best of this bunch?

SmartMatching on

I received an email newsletter before Christmas from that announced SmartMatching 2.0 - see a description on their blog here.

In the email to me, they noted that

Good news! MyHeritage has found Smart Matches for you!

Smart Matches are people thought to be the same, in your family tree and family trees of other users on (our 19 million users have submitted well over one million family trees to MyHeritage with 200 million names). Correct Smart Matches may lead your way to discover new relatives and ancestors!

We've found a total of 3177 Smart Match(es) for people in your family tree(s), in 100 other family tree(s).

I had almost forgotten that I had submitted my Seaver database to MyHeritage last year so that I could test their system.

If you are frustrated by other commercial database or family tree web sites, you might consider to display your family tree.

I wrote posts here and here about the MyHeritage search engine and results. I also downloaded and tested their genealogy software, Family Tree Builder, in 2007 and reported on it here.

This is one of my Top 25 genealogy web sites, and is also one of the most popular genealogy web sites worldwide. And it's FREE. news update

I have registered for, one of the United Kingdom database subscription web sites, but I haven't subscribed. They send out a regular newsletter to registered people and subscribers.

This month, they are offering a 20% off deal for 2008 subscriptions - choose either 20% off subscriptions or an extra 20% free pay-per-view units - whichever suits you better. But hurry - this offer is only valid until midnight (UK time) on December 31st 2007. Subscription options are at

In the last newsletter, they summarized their work for 2007:

It's been quite a year on findmypast, the site's changed a great deal in the last twelve months, whilst maintaining the same high standards of accuracy and quality. We've added millions of records - just to refresh your memory 2007 saw us launch:

* New decades for the Passenger Lists - now covers 1890-1939 with the final two decades to come in the new year
* Parish records from the
National Burial Index and City of London Burials
* The 1871 census is now 75% complete, and the 1881 census transcriptions are available to search, for free
* The
Civil Service Evidence of age, Royal Naval Division Casualties and Divorce and Matrimonial Causes records

As well as all of these new records 2007 also saw the launch of the innovative, free and entirely online Family Tree Explorer, as well as a new viewer which means looking at the original historical records on findmypast is now simpler than ever.

FindMyPast also asked their subscribers for stories about using the web site and databases, and selected these persons (now they're on the Internet too!):

* Tom Wingate - a great-uncle who had three funerals, many years apart
* Roger Manley OBE - an amazing coincidence with a Lord
* Adrienne Coward - uncovered a family tie to George Eliot
* Evelyn Dick - a tale of a goldsmith and an heirloom
* John Brown - an eminent ancestor
* Steve Kirby - a matter of living relatives
* Ron Whitmore - name changes and emigration
* Jan Lawrence - a poignant family name
* Marian Gill - a family reunion
* Janet Peters - identified an ancestor on board the Moreton Bay

Read all ten of these fascinating stories in full here .

While I have significant English ancestry, almost all of them came to America before Civil Registration and the Census Records. Therefore, I don't subscribe to, but I like to stay informed about UK and Ireland resources so that I can help other people in their research.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Resolutions -- How did I do in 2007?

My genealogy resolutions for 2007 were posted here, and included:

1) Go to the Family History Center more often, and obtain primary land and probate records for my ancestors.

Grade: D. I mostly failed! I think I went perhaps as many as 10 times to the FHC. I did order films of church records for my Bresee ancestry research, but didn't obtain land and probate records for ancestors other than in #2 below.

2) Complete the probate records collection for my ancestors of Alma Bessie Richmond.

Grade: C. Partial success! I ordered microfilms, copied about 20 probate records, and transcribed most of them into my database. But I didn't complete the task by any means. There are still some Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts probates to find and obtain.

3) Determine if any of my San Diego County ancestors left probate and land records, and obtain copies of them.

Grade: F. Failure. all I did was figure out where the Probate Court archives might be.

4) Continue adding complete source citations to my ancestral and Seaver surname databases.

Grade: C. Small success: I added some source citations, and edited many more, but there are many, many more to complete.

5) Continue to post quality research tips, ancestral stories, and genealogy humor on this Genea-Musings blog. No more rants...unless they are deserved!

Grade: B. Mostly a success. I posted many research tips (hopefully of high quality), many ancestral stories, and some humor to Genea-Musings. However, I had a few rants, one of which almost got me sued.

6) Serve the Chula Vista Genealogical Society as President with energy, wisdom and patience.

Grade: A. A success, except for adding "new blood" to the Board. We had a very successful year with 50 meetings in the library with good attendance. Our members seem aware and enthusiastic and look forward to our events.

We added the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog to augment the web site - We need more members to use it.

7) Add video learning to the CVGS computer group and research group monthly meetings by using laptops and LCD projectors to demonstrate research techniques and help solve research problems.

Grade: B. A partial success. We used the projector in the computer lab, but the wireless signal in the Conference Room and auditorium is not strong enough. We are working with the library to improve the situation.

8) Prepare and deliver three new presentations at local San Diego societies in 2007.

Grade: A. A success. I prepared five new presentations in 2007 - on Genealogy blogging, Online genealogy, resources, LDS resources and Rootsweb/USGenWeb resources. I gave the blogging talk to CGSSD in April and CVGS in September, and the other four at the CVGS seminar in October. I also spoke to the Questing Heirs Genealogical Society in Long Beach in May on Census research.

9) Continue reading genealogy research books, journal articles, online web pages and newsletters, etc. as part of my continuing genealogy education.

Grade: B. A partial success. I obtained and read several genealogy research books, many online resources, periodicals and journals. However, I didn't attend a national seminar or go on a cruise - next year!

10) Find something fun and useful to do with my wife, who often feels like a genealogy widow.

Grade: F. Ummm, a failure, I think. I hide in the Genea-Cave even more now than a year ago. She is excited about a genealogy cruise though.

So that's it - the Report Card shows 2 A's, 3 B's, 2 C's, 1 D and 2 F's. It averages out to a C+. My summary: I made some progress in my own research, but only some of it was "quality" in terms of primary records. My CVGS work, speaking engagements and education were beneficial to my own professional development.

However, I feel like I waste too much time - blogging, searching databases, etc. I decided to start a daily genealogy journal just to see how much time I spent doing different tasks - you can see the last two months at the Geneaholic blog. Just being aware that I am documenting my time this way has led me to avoid some time-wasting activities - like finding funny census names.

Now what can I propose for Genealogy Resolutions for 2008? Tune in over the weekend for my list.

Finding the nuggets that solve the puzzle

I posted last week about my Genea-Santa surprise gift - a report from Old World Wisconsin that identified the parents of my Ranslow Smith (1805 - >1870). I've read the package several times now and am struck by several things:

1) The use of newspaper articles - news, advertising, obituaries, stories, etc. - was absolutely vital to piecing together the story of The Four-Mile House, an inn built by Ranslow Smith in 1853 and sold in the late 1860's. The daily news items - meetings held, visitors to town - provide some context to the daily life. Stories told by "old-timers" often talk about people - A funny incident about Justice of the Peace Ranslow Smith is described in one of them. The obituaries of Ranslow's brothers, George Smith (1812-1876) and Lyman Smith (1807-1889) apparently name brother Ranslow Smith and their parents names, Russell and Esther Smith.

2) Town meeting minutes can define town leaders, officers, and leading business men. Lyman was Burnett town treasurer for over 30 years, Ranslow was a town supervisor, meeting moderator, justice of the peace and highway overseer over the years.

3) Agricultural Census records can be used to determine how people lived - in 1860, Ranslow Smith's wheat, corn and potato harvests were nearly double the averages from other farms in the area, and likely provided food for the visitors in the hotel. An above-average oat and hay harvest indicates they probably supplied the livery barn, where visitors horses were sheltered. A large number of swine may indicate pork was standard table fare at the inn.

Many researchers understand that resources like these should be consulted in order to "flesh out" the lives of their ancestors, but how many of us do it for every ancestral family? I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't done that for many of my ancestral families.

Of course, in most cases, they are not available in online searchable databases - and many are not available on microform from the LDS Family History Library. You often have to visit the local genealogy society, historical society or libraries in order to obtain this information, and you often have to spend days reading page after page to find it.

I need to obtain the obituaries, town reports and other documents referenced in the Old World Wisconsin report. I will report on my progress as time goes by.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Arlene H. Eakle is featured speaker at SDGS Seminar/Luncheon on 12 January

The San Diego Genealogical Society has an all-day seminar and luncheon planned for Saturday, January 12th. The featured speaker is internationally known genealogist and author, Arlene H. Eakle, Ph.D. If you haven't already mailed in your reservation, be sure to do so now as they need to be received no later than January 8th to ensure your place at this exciting event.

A prolific writer with more than 90 titles, Arlene edited the award winning The Source: Guidebook for American Genealogy, a seminal book for genealogical research. A professional genealogists since 1962, she is president and founder of The Genealogical Institute and a founder of the Association of Professional Genealogists. She is a popular and well-known presenter at national conferences. Visit her web site to find out more:

Her topics for this memorable event will be of interest to researchers at all levels:

* Appalachian Triangle
* How to Find Birth, Marriage, Death Records Before 1900
* Evaluating Genealogical Evidence
* Dusting Off the Family Skeletons

She will also be selling many book titles and other publications at discount prices to seminar attendees.

Many door prizes will be offered including a Salt Lake City hotel package.

The meeting will be at the Handlery Hotel and Resort, 950 Hotel Circle North, Mission Valley, San Diego, CA. Registration will begin at 8:30.

The fee, including the gourmet sit down lunch, is $35.00 per person. The lunch includes salad, entree, dessert, roll & beverage. The Entree choice is
Roast Pork Loin, Chicken Piccata or Special Diet (please specify) Reservations must be received by January 8th. No refunds after January 9th.

Mail your name, address, check (payable to SDGS), and menu choice to Gloria Osborn, 1997 Alameda Terrace, San Diego, CA 92103. For more information, e-mail Gloria at

Hey San Diego genealogists - I have reserved my place at this seminar - have you? This is a great opportunity to hear presentations by one of the best genealogy researchers of our time.

Della's Journal - Week 52 (December 24-31, 1929)

This is Installment 52 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 52 -


Tuesday, December 24 (warm): Roberts called, has changed to 5th Ave[nue], gave him candy, & a box with fruit & cookies. Fixed poinsettias & gave to the neighbors & finished sending cards, gave boxes of candy to Sun & Union boys.

Xmas, Wednesday, December 25: We were all at Lyle's, had a lovely time. Went to see the tree picked in morning. Ed over. In afternoon, Lyle took Austin Ed & I to see Will Rodgers in (Had to See Paris), fine.

Thursday, December 26: Rested some, went out to Garlocks, they are not very well.

Friday, December 27: We worked, I went to town and paid Gas bills, Water & A[ustin]'s lodge.

Saturday, December 28: A[ustin] home in afternoon. Mr. Allen came, gave us another demonstration. Wrote Alta (?) Sat[urday] or Sun[day] to bring me some cords for me to sell, Mrs. Chapman bought one.

Sunday, December 29: I went riding with Lyle's, we drove over to Old Town to a flowerist to look for water lily. Came back by Mission Hills. Found lily at a Jap's place.

Monday, December 30: We washed. I potted ferns. Mr. Putman's brought me 5 cords & some wires, I bought two and will sell the others for him.

Tuesday, December 31: I went to town, went to Elta's & Forrest's took the children a book a piece for the boys & beads for Sherrie. I gave a Neverknot wire to Frank & Elta, and have a fern for her, she gave me a linnen lunch cloth & 4 napkins, also a doll clothes bag. I got a few New Years cards. Lyle & Emily went out to the church, Betty & Mrs. Auble will go in morning with Mr. Nolans. We have had warm dry weather not a sprinkle of rain this mo[nth]. Miss Thorn came home Sun[day] night 29th or Mon[day].


It appears that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were not big celebrations. Gifts were exchanged, but there does not seem to be a big family dinner. This may be because of the agnostic views held by Austin and Della (harbored for over 40 years by now) that resulted from the death of their first child. Lyle took them to a film in the afternoon - it was a day off for working people, I guess.

I still don't know who Roberts is...I don't recall seeing Elta (or Etta?) or Forrest as given names before, and don't know their surnames.

I don't have a clue what a Neverknot wire was - I should Google it I guess. I think Della received some cords of wood on consignment and was trying to sell them.

This is the end of the Journal of Della (Smith) Carringer for 1929. There are several more pages in the Journal - there are several accounts of expenses, home repairs, medication, gifts given and received in 1928 and 1929, and Christmas cards given and received in 1928, 1929 and 1930. The Christmas Card list may be very helpful in identifying extended family ties by using the census records.

I will post these lists in the next few weeks - not because they are of general interest, but they are part of this Journal. Reviewing some of the names tonight, I see several extended family members that I don't know much about, and some clues to last names of family friends.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What a day! Genea-Musings will return on Thursday!

This was a very busy and tiring day for all of us here at the Genea-Manor. The little boys (ages 4 and almost 2) got up at 6:30 and were all excited to see so many gifts under the tree and in their stockings hanging from the fireplace mantel. Their mom got up soon after, and Lolo (age almost 3) and her parents arrived at about 7:30 (they had to sleep at a friend's house - the GM was full!). We got the stockings down and the frenzy began. Each child must have had 20 or 30 gifts to open and either admire or put in their box. The adults supervised, kept the trash picked up, and marveled at the energy levels. Then it was time for the real gifts, and we gathered them for each person and started opening - the kids pretty much non-stop. Whew - we really outdid ourselves and the kids already have tested almost everything (except for the blow-up space shuttle and the "Cars" movie race car set). Then it was time for the "piece-de-resistance" - Santa brought the boys a 9 x 12 blow-up jump house set. Lori and I set it up last night in the back yard (she is really good at figuring out directions, much more mechanical minded than I am) and all we had to do was turn the air blower on. The kids squealed with excitement, and jumped for probably an hour or more. I even got in and wiggled around on my belly, and the kids were jumping on me and bouncing off the walls into me - they loved it, and I did too - I'm really a big (literally) kid at heart.

I squeezed in a nice 40 minute nap with Walter (my grand-hound - a basset) on the bed in the late morning, and missed out on the Carls Jr. lunch fest around noontime. The kids struggled to go down for naps and their moms could hardly wait to take one too. Lolo and her parents left at about 3 PM to beat the traffic home up I-15. Lori and Linda started the turkey at about 2 PM and had things well in hand for a 6 PM dinner - just the five of us, which was low key and OK. The dinner was great - turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, topped off by pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream (the boys gobbled that up). The boys were in bed by 8 PM. I put the little one down, then washed the dishes and tried to pick up a bit, including starting to dismantle the jump house.

Needless to say, I did no genealogy work today - but I helped make a lot of family history. The grandkids are almost old enough to remember these special events in their lives. I certainly will.

The genealogy scene is pretty slow, isn't it? That's good, I think - we can catch our breath for 2008. I have some summary posts planned, but they will have to wait until I return from Santa Cruz on Thursday.

Lori, the boys and I are driving the 500 miles to Santa Cruz on Wednesday, and I'll fly home from San Jose on Thursday. Therefore, posts on Genea-Musings will be "light" (heck, non-existent most likely, since I won't have the laptop with me this time and Lori's computer is on the fritz).

I wonder what major genealogy event will happen while I'm out of commission? Will Ancestry be FREE for the next week? Will other subscription web sites be free until New Years? Will there be a merger of genealogy companies or partnerships announced?

If you absolutely have to read Genea-Musings, please go through the Archives. Do me a favor and tell me which post was the most helpful or most interesting to you?

By the way, this is my 1,500th post since 18 April 2006 (an average of about 2.4 posts a day!).

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to All!

There is a reason for the season - thank you, God, for blessing us so richly.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Best of the Genea-Blogs - December 16-22, 2007

I'm only one day late with this - sorry - I've been sick, the house is really busy, and everybody is shopping...

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!).

* I hope that everyone has been reading the Christmas Advent memories at Thomas MacEntee's blog, Destination:Austin Family. This link is to his summary post - click an ornament and see the posts for that day. Thomas has done a great job of organizing and presenting the posts of an umber of bloggers - Thanks, Thomas!

* "First Whack at Family Tree" by Dan Lawyer at the FamilySearch Labs Blog. This post shows screens from the new Family Tree application for New FamilySearch. This blog has also had several interesting posts this week about Record Search and Standard Finder.

* "News for 19 December 2007" on The Ancestry Insider blog. This post is chock full of information about Ancestry and FamilySearch.

* "Ancestry Hints - New and Improved" by Kenny Freestone on the Blog. This is a good summary of how Ancestry is working to provide clues to researchers who have their trees online.

* "What is Genealogy and Why Should I Do It?" by Summer Owens on the Genealogy, Family History and Temple Work blog. Summer provides some nice answers to the age-old question. This is an interesting blog.

* "How Does the Genealogy Community View Design" and "More Design in the Genealogy Community" by Mark Tucker on the Think Genealogy blog. Mark has some intriguing thoughts about how to make genealogy databases work better.

* "My Favorite Articles at Hill Country for 2007" by Terry Thornton on the Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi blog. Terry lists his favorites from his year of writing on his blog - it's hard to decide which is best, since they are all excellent!

* "GeneaBlogging Elves Run Amok" by Janice Brown on the Cow Hampshire blog. Want a good laugh? View these videos from JibJab that Janice made with genealogy blogger faces. I love it! Made my day when I saw myself dancing with Miriam, Apple, Jasia and Craig. I wish I could dance half that well.

That's it - a short post for me. The second family has arrived and Christmas Eve is nigh.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Day 1 - Christmas Eve

On the first day of Christmas,
Anticipation was high
For Santa Claus was nigh!

1) How did you and your family spend Christmas Eve?

As a child, we always (that I recall) spent Christmas Eve at my grandparents house in Point Loma because they had a chimney. At a young age, I was always trying to figure out how Santa Claus could visit us in our apartment flat - and my parents tried to prevent questions by doing this. I'm sure my grandparents loved this, since my brother and I were their only grandchildren. It was also a handy place to store toys and gifts for us before the holidays. We used to look everywhere in our house for them.

Then one frosty Christmas Eve, (um, well, wrong adjective, but what the hey) my brother and I were exploring my grandparents' garage - and found two bicycles. Aha - if we get these tomorrow from Santa, then we will know for sure that Santa is really our parents. Sure enough, there they were on Christmas morning - marked from Santa! But, being smart little boys, we just smiled at each other, and kept the secret for another year or so. After all, we now had a new little brother to watch over and have fun with.

Christmas Eve day also included shopping - at least for me (covered on Day 6). Speaking of which, I need to go on Monday the 24th to get the stocking stuff for Linda and maybe another gift or two. I wonder if she wants a USB flash drive for my laptop? Or a wireless weather station? Or a laser pointer? Oops, that's what I want, but maybe I'll pick them up just to make sure she has enough gifts.

Back to Christmas Eve - in my married life, when we were scheduled to fly to San Francisco on Christmas Day, we often had our Seaver family Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve with my parents, grandparents, cousin Dorothy and my brothers. This was always Christmas dinner, gift exchange, and family talk.

We also went to church on Christmas Eve when we were in town - when the kids were young, we usually went to the early service at 6 or 7 PM, and saw the Christmas Story, sang hymns, and had our candle light march (as I explained on Day 8).

In years when we travel to see our girls and their families, we usually leave several days before Christmas, spend two nights in Victorville, then arrive Christmas Eve day in Santa Cruz.

This year, both families will be here. We even have to sleep over at a friend's house in order to have enough beds here in the Genea-Manor. Christmas Eve will be very hectic with three small children (ages 4, almost 3 and almost 2) all excited about being here, plus the Chargers play Denver at 5 PM. Then there is the wrapping of gifts and setting them out on Christmas Eve, putting cookies and milk out for Santa, his elves and the reindeer.

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.