Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best of Genea-Musings for 2008

I have nominated the following posts as my "Best of Genea-Musings for 2008" based on my own subjective criteria. I tried to pick only two or at most four posts from each month so that it is a manageable list.

January 2008:

* Bridging the Internet vs. Traditional Genealogy Gap (commentary on different types of researchers)
* The Four-Mile House of Ranslow Smith (my best Christmas genealogy-related gift)
* Online Research Strategy for Russell Smith (a list of web sites to check)
* Articles on Information, Sources, Evidence and Proof (a compendium of online articles)

February 2008:

* A Valentine's Day Gift (all about me and Angel Linda)
* "Genealogy in the 'Information Age': History's New Frontier?" (commentary about Genealogy 2.0)
* Searching for Distant Living Cousins is Hard (you bet!)

March 2008

* Traffic for Genealogy Social Network Sites (traffic for the social networks)
* Free Genealogy Database Site Traffic (traffic for free sites)
* Commercial Genealogy Site traffic statistics (traffic for commercial sites)
* My top 3 "genealogical smart moves" (commentary on what I did smart)

April 2008:

* The Pace of Genealogy Research - Post 1, Post 2 and Post 3. (a short series contemplating personal and society research problems)
* Social Security Death Index data (useful information about pre-1962 SSDI entries)
* The Imminent Demise of Genea-Musings (note the date!)

May 2008:

* Dear Genea-Man: Am I descended from John Tyler? (a research survey posted in response to a Comment query)
* The Most Important Announcement from NGS (about the FHLC Catalog)
* Funny Place Names (any post with "Lake CHARGOGGAGOGGMANCHAUGGAGOGGCHAUBUNAGUNGAMAUGG" in it has to be included)
* The "Magic of Genealogy" Moment - a "Genea-gasm" (I coined a new word and provided examples)
* How did mom get so smart? (a tribute to my mother on Mother's Day)
* The genealogy pub experience (and you thought we were all sober all the time!)

June 2008:

* Taking Genealogy to the People (my experience going to a local social group to promote genealogy)
* The Words We Use (trying to quantify words from impossible to certainly)
* Is Genealogy Blogging Healthy? (doh! what do you think?)
* Jamboree Musings - Post 3 (there were 8 SCGS Jamboree posts all up, this is about the Genea-bloggers Summit)

July 2008:

* Indexing Periodicals, Manuscripts, Collections, etc. (commentary on one of the keys to finding elusive ancestors)
* More on Ancestry "Ownership" of User Databases (comments from Cath Madden Trindle's SCGS presentation, plus my own commentary - read Craig's comment too!)

August 2008:

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Summary of Posts (a list of my 25 posts working with Family Tree Maker 2008)
* San Diego Slanguage (slang for San Diego visitors)

September 2008:

* I need advice - the best way to contact a living relative (and I got it!)
* Family Trees and Social Networks out the wazoo (?) (a list of what I want from a family tree and social network site)
* My mtDNA is in the K Haplogroup (My mitochondrial DNA was tested by GeneTree)
* Getting to Know Randy and Genea-Musings (an introduction and summary)

October 2008:

* Doing Genealogy Time (I tracked my genealogy related activities for a month)
* Using GeneTree as a Social Network (examples from GeneTree pedigree charts)
* Digging in the Putman Garden of Genealogy Mysteries (part of my genealogy research, and an excellent one-name study example)
* Is This My New Computer Genealogy Filing System? - Post 2 (a start on a new genealogy filing system for my digital files)

November 2008

* Wholly Genes/The Master Genealogist Conference and Cruise posts (my carnival of WG cruise posts)
* Learning from the Masters (my lessons learned from the WG cruise)
* I Knew How the Election would go - because... (how I knew long ago that Obama would win)
* Building a Genealogy and History Library (examples of online books)
* Why do I do genealogy? (another look at why I do this)

December 2008:

* Searching for Mary's Parents - Post 1 (another research post, following up from the one-on-one on the cruise; hmm, I need to do a Post 2 some time)
* The "Forrest Gump Principle of Genealogy Research" strikes again (ever had this happen to you?)
* How did I do on 2008 Genealogy Goals? (not well, I fear!)

OK, that's 44 of them - out of about 975 for the entire year). I can't parse them any further. Frankly, I don't remember writing some of them - I look at some of the posts on that list and think "hmmm, that was pretty good!"

The list didn't include some of the genealogy software and web site series I wrote - I recall doing GeneaNet, Family Historian 3.1, Geni, WebTree, GeneTree, in addition to the Family Tree Maker series. I know that I've forgotten some of the reviews I've done, and that I haven't really "finished" some of them with summaries and conclusions.

Which is your favorite post on that list (or in all of Genea-Musings for 2008)? And why?

Are any other genea-bloggers Twittering?

I signed up for Twitter the other day, but it's lonesome talking to myself. I need others to play with - who else is following and tweeting?

How often do you tweet? I can't see doing it every 10 minutes, but it may be a good way to stay in touch when away from the Genea-Cave (if I can figure out how to do it on a cell phone).

Is it a time-waster? It probably is if you let it be. I look at it as an occasional diversion - like Facebook is for me - I visit there 3-4 times a day and drop some nuggets of wisdom to my Friends. Are you on Facebook? It's free, and can be useful to network with people with similar interests, like genealogy.

I know that Denise Olson on Family Matters has written some Twitter posts - see All a Twitter. She has some good examples of how it can be used effectively.

Is this something that could be used for genealogy research? If so - tell me how! I can see using a laptop at the library to ask a research question of someone at home or at another library, but a cell phone would do just as well (but might cost for messages).

My Twitter ID is rjseaver - tell me yours, or send me a follower request and I will follow your tweets too, and vice versa.

My latest tweet said:

"rjseaver getting dressed to party for NYEve ... it's a progressive dinner - 4 houses, 4 courses, lots of friends, champagne and hugs/kisses at end"

It only allows 140 characters, and I had 138 in that message.

UPDATED: 1/2/09 - Dean Richardson posted an excellent response to this message on his Genlighten! blog this morning, titled GeneaTwits — A Twitter app for genealogists read it! Thanks, Dean.

I've managed to find over 50 genealogists on Twitter, and am following them. I've also been able to tweet on Twitter and have it show up on Facebook, but not vice versa. As long as being a Genea-Twit is time-efficient, I will keep at it.

What's coming soon at has a page titled Look at all the history ahead with summaries of the databases that are in the image and index pipeline.

The page has listings for each of their major record categories for both US and World Deluxe subscribers.

The most interesting, to me, are Contemporary Obituaries, US Deaths Abroad 1910-1974, World War II Draft Cards 1940-1947, US Circuit Court Criminal Case Files 1790-1960, Prison Records 1800s-1900s, Headstone Photos, 1600s - present, etc.

It seems like many of the "coming soon" databases are enhancements to current collections.

I look forward to seeing all of these new databases and more - it's been frustrating the last two months seeing very few new US databases posted - most new databases have been Canadian and German records.

Add the URL to your Favorites/Bookmarks to see if they add to it over the next few months.

The Proximidade Award

I've been remiss in not mentioning that I have received the Proximidade Award from several genea-bloggers.

What is this award? It is awarded for:

"These blogs invest and believe in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers, who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

Thank you to Cindy of the Everything's Relative - Researching Your Family History for starting this award cycle in the genealogy blogging community.

Thank you also to Julie Cahill Tarr of the GenBlog by Julie blog and Miriam Robbins Midkiff of the Ancestories: The Stories of My Ancestors blog for nominating me for this award.

It is difficult to find eight genea-bloggers who have not been nominated for this award, since I have not kept track of who has received it previously. Therefore - if you feel that you qualify for the award, please capture the award image and put it on your blog, and say that I nominated you!

Family Photographs - Post 36: Mom, Dad and Nana Seaver

I'm posting old family photographs from my collection on Wednesdays, but they won't be wordless posts like others do - I simply am incapable of having a wordless post.

Here is one of the most precious (to me) images from my Seaver family collection:

The persons in this photograph are Betty (Carringer) Seaver (my mother, age 40), Frederick W. Seaver (my father, age 47) and Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver (my grandmother, age 76).

The photograph was taken in summer 1958 (notwithstanding that it was printed in November 1958), probably by my grandfather, Lyle Carringer.

This was the only time I met my paternal grandmother, since she lived in Leominster, Massachusetts and I was in San Diego, California. Unfortunately, I don't remember much about the visit (other than I met my cousin Diana who came along with Nana Seaver, Walter and Evelyn (Seaver) Wood - the Wood's were Diana's grandparents). They drove across the country visiting friends, family and landmarks.

It was included in the boxes of photographs passed to me by my mother after 1988.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What do you want to know about TGN/FTM/Ancestry?

Do you have questions, comments or complaints about The Generations Network,, Family Tree Maker, etc.?

Are there:

* topics that you want to know more about?
* which databases would you like to see available?
* questions you have about their web sites or services?
* complaints you have about their web sites or services?

Please be specific and civil ... tell me in Comments to this blog post (or via email at and I will post them in a summary post in a week or two. I will keep comments anonymous if you wish.

Who will tell Dina's Holocaust story?

I had an interesting comment on yesterdays Rosenblat post from William who wrote:

"This hoax is a tragedy. The Rosenblats have hurt Jews all over and given support to those who deny the holocaust. I don't understand why Atlantic Pictures is still proceeding to make a film based on a lie. I also don't understand how Oprah could have publicized this story, especially after James Frey and given that many bloggers like Deborah Lipstadt said in 2007 that the Rosenblat's story couldn't be true.

"There are so many other worthwhile projects based on genuine love stories from the Holocaust. My favorite is the one about Dina Gottliebova Babbitt - the beautiful young art student who painted Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on the children's barracks at Auschwitz. This painting became the reason Dina and her Mother survived Auschwitz. After the end of the war, Dina applied for an art job in Paris. Unbeknownst to Dina, her interviewer was the lead animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. They fell in love and got married. Now that's a romantic love story! I also admire Dina for her tremendous courage to paint the mural in the first place. Painting the mural for the children caused her to be taken to Dr. Mengele, the Angel of Death. She thought she was going to be gassed, but bravely she stood up to Mengele and he made her his portrait painter, saving herself and her mother from the gas chamber.

"Also, Dina's story has been verified as true. Some of the paintings she did for Mengele in Auschwitz survived the war and are at the Auschwitz Birkenau Museum. The story of her painting the mural of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on the children's barrack has been corroborated by many other Auschwitz prisoners, and of course her love and marriage to the animator of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the Disney movie after the war in Paris is also documented.

"Why wasn't the Rosenblat's story checked out before it was published and picked up to have the movie made?? I would like to see true and wonderful stories like Dina's be publicized, not these hoax tales that destroy credibility and trust."

Thank you, William, for your comment and the story about Dina. I'm doing my small part to publicize it!

Wikipedia has a short article about Dina here. There are seven photos of some of Dina's paintings on the LA Times web site here. A New York Times article from 30 August 2008 showed Dina at her easel in Felton CA and discussed her effort to obtain her paintings from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland.

IdentiFinders is online

I highlighted the Herman Rosenblat fraud story yesterday, and in the post I hoped that Colleen Fitzpatrick and Sharon Sergeant would share more details of the investigation that exposed the Rosenblat fraud.

Colleen, Sharon, Janessa Roberts and Andrew Yeiser have published a web site called IdentiFinders International at Their current front page has some information about the Rosenblat investigation, and Colleen told me in an email that more information will be published. The key paragraph on the page says:

"Identifinders ... focused on obtaining evidence on the location of Roma Radzicki Rosenblat's extended family during the Holocaust. The inconsistencies of Roma's part of the story were just as significant but not as prominent. "

You can see short biographies of the principals of this company at Take a look at the Services offered tab at

I hope that the IdentiFinders thrive. They seem to have found a niche market for forensic genealogy services - one that serves the general public and demonstrates the value of disciplined genealogy research techniques.

UPDATED 12/31: Deleted an extraneous comment from the post.

Tombstone Tuesday - Norman Seaver in Westminster

Norman Seaver (1734-1787) is buried in Woodside Cemetery in Westminster, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Woodside Cemetery is east of town and Norman's grave is in the oldest section of the cemetery, on the west side.

There is a rough hewn stone with his name on it, and several smaller unmarked stones in the same plot. The Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) have erected a new stone to commemorate his service in the Revolutionary War, and it is marked by a flag on Memorial Day.

I don't know where Sarah (Read) Seaver's (1736-1809) grave is, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is next to Norman's and unmarked.

Monday, December 29, 2008

How did I do on 2008 Genealogy Goals?

I posted my genealogy goals for 2008 in my post here.

Here is my accounting of how I did during 2008:

1. Pursue original source material for my brick wall ancestors - especially Thomas J. NEWTON (ME), William KNAPP (Dutchess County NY), Russell SMITH (RI?), Hannah SMITH (Brookline NH), etc.

Grade: D: I found some original source material for the Russell Smith family, but nothing more on his parents or his spouse. I did not search for original source material for William Knapp, Thomas J. Newton, or Hannah Smith.

2. Obtain more probate records, land records and town meeting records for my ancestors of Alma Bessie RICHMOND (and finish Rhode Island if possible!).

Grade: C: I found (on FHL microfilm) quite a few probate records for this group of ancestors, but did not explore land records or town records to any great degree.

3. Add family history information to my genealogy databases as I obtain it from traditional and online resources, with adequate source notes.

Grade: C: I found some significant family history information on some of my ancestors both in online and repository resources. I'm afraid that I still haven't mastered writing adequate source notes although I am trying to do better.

4. Complete editing my Seaver surname database in order to make the notes and sourcing consistent.

Grade: F: Big Oops here [note to self: review your goals sometime during the year to see what you should be doing]. Do I get an F+ for adding good source citations to about 1,000 persons in my Ancestral database? It's a long process!

5. Complete my term as President of Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS) with energy, vision, wisdom and patience.

Grade: B: My term as President is complete, and I like to think that I led with energy, wisdom, patience and vision. OTOH, we're doing pretty much the same old thing, but we're doing it well!

6. Create at least three new presentations and deliver them to CVGS and other Southern California societies.

Grade: B: I made a "Finding Your Elusive Ancestor" presentation to CVGS in April, a "Internet Genealogy 101" presentation to CGSSD in September, and a "Genealogy Web Sites You Can Use" to SDGS in November. The last two were essentially the same presentation with updated information.

7. Take at least one genealogy research trip this year to visit ancestral homes, nearby repositories and distant cousins.

Grade: F: We didn't go anywhere for a genealogy research trip (unless one day at NYPL counts).

8. Enjoy at least one genealogy cruise this year with my wife (she likes the idea!).

Grade: A: I successfully maneuvered us onto the Wholly Genes Genealogy conference and Cruise - from New York City to St. Kitts, Antigua, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. I really enjoyed the conference, I'm not sure Linda enjoyed NYC or the cruise.

9. Attend at least one major genealogy conference this year.

Grade: B: I didn't go to the NGS or FGS conferences (because we were going on the cruise). I did go to the SCGS Jamboree in June and had a great time. Is that a "major" conference? I think it almost is.

10. Post quality research articles and notes on Genea-Musings that help other researchers, including my society members, pursue their genealogy and family history.

Grade: B: I'm sure that in the 970 odd posts (well, some weren't odd...) I published in 2008 (on Genea-Musings, there were more on the other three genealogy blogs!) that some of them helped other researchers in their addiction, er, genealogy work. My sense is that I didn't do as many "original thinking" posts this year. Part of the reason is that I was on travel often during the year to take care of the grandsons (6 trips to Santa Cruz).

11. Help family, friends and colleagues pursue their genealogy research as requested.

Grade: A: The major effort here was my friend Ed - I successfully connected him with his step-siblings and found his ancestry in the process. I did smaller projects for several other friends and colleagues.

12. Stay abreast of developments in the genealogy world and pass information to my colleagues and readers.

Grade: A: How can I help but not do this, I'm reading almost 400 blogs and scouring the Internet for new databases and software. This blog doesn't publish every news release, but it tries to analyze the major announcements asking the question "how does this help me, and my colleagues and readers, in their research? What does it mean for us?"

So - the self-graded summary is 3 As, 4 Bs, 2Cs, 1 D, 2 Fs. That averages out to be a B- if all 12 items are weighted equally.

There were more genealogy activities in 2008 than I set goals for - such as evaluate new genealogy software packages, improve my professional knowledge and capabilities, get DNA tests done, and find more distant cousins.

Is this the best music/family video of the year?

Take a look at this video on YouTube. It's hilarious. And oh so true.

Right, moms?

ROFL. How would you like to be the children and grandchildren of this mom? What a legacy!

Forensic Genealogy strikes again

I read this morning in the San Diego Union-Tribune that the Holocaust love story in the book Angel at the Fence by Herman Rosenblat was fictional - I'm sure many of you are dismayed that an author could fool a publisher and a TV star like Oprah Winfrey with this story. However, he didn't fool fact-checkers at The New Republic or two forensic genealogists, Colleen Fitzpatrick and Sharon Sergeant.

Colleen passed me these links in email last night:

* Original article in The New Republic framing the controversy about the Holocaust love story Angel at the Fence by Herman Rosenblat

* Framework of doubts about the story

* Cancellation of the book by Berkeley Penguin Press published in The New Republic, Rosenblats must return advance

* Dismay expressed by Herman's literary agent, etc. that the story was a lie

* Deborah Lipstadt's blog carries statement from Ken Waltzer, Professor of Jewish Studies at Michigan State University

The latter blog article gives Colleen Fitzpatrick and Sharon Sergeant credit for the research they did to bring about the confession. Unfortunately, there are no details about the research done by the two intrepid forensic genealogists. I hope that they will tell us more in the coming days and weeks.

Colleen Fitzpatrick's web site is

Sharon Sergeant's web site is Sharon has two articles as of today about this case, but no details of the research yet.

You may recall that, back in February 2008, Sharon was the researcher who led a research team, thati ncluded Colleen, that built an airtight case that proved that Misha DeFonseca was not a Jewish child with a forgotten surname or raised by wolves. See my post about this case here. Sharon wrote an article about this case for the NGS Quarterly dated September 2008.

Which podcaster will be the first to bring the research details to us? Or will the news media show some interest in the forensic genealogy of this case beyond the shaming of the author? Hopefully, Sharon will write another NGSQ article about the Rosenblat case.

Sharon's article says "The long arms of truth in history can reach to yesterday, a decade ago or centuries past." Sharon and Colleen are setting excellent examples of finding truth in history - and all genealogists should be following their lead when pursuing their family history. We can all learn more about analyzing difficult problems by reading about cases like these.

Table of contents for New England Ancestors - Holiday 2008 issue

The Table of Contents for the Holiday 2008 issue (Volume 9, numbers 5-6) of New England Ancestors, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, includes:


page 5 - Greetings from NEHGS, by D. Brenton Simons

page 7 - In this Issue, by Lynn Betlock

page 8 - Letters & Feedback, including My Most Challenging "Brick Wall"

page 10 - Announcements

page 15 - Education Programs and Tours

page 18 - New England Online, by David Allen Lambert


page 20 - Crossing borders: Slavery and Two New England Families, by Rev. David Allen Pettee

page 25 - Slavery in Rhode Island, by Christy Mikel Clark

page 30 - Reflections on the Great Migration Study Project, by Robert Charles Anderson

page 35 - Presenting Boston Beheld, by Penelope Stratton

page 38 - "For the Benefit of the Rising Generation": Reclaiming Hannah Mather Crocker's Lost History in Boston, by Eileen Hunt Botting

page 40 - Researching Newfoundland Ancestors, by Judith Lucey

page 45 - Discovering Family Treasures . . . The 10th NERGC Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire, by D. Joshua Taylor

page 46 - Discovering My Revolutionary Connections, by Carl W. Carruthers, Sr.

page 49 - The Diary of Reverend Thomas Cary of Newburyport, Massachusetts, by Marsha Hoffman Rising, CG, FASG


page 51 - Computer Genealogist: Repositories Going Digital, by Rhonda R. McClure

page 53 - Genetics & Genealogy: Results of a Y-Chromosome DNA Study on Surnames Sisson and Sissons, by Carol Sisson Regehr

page 56 - Manuscripts at NEHGS: Scrapbook Genealogies, by Timothy G.X. Salls

page 58 - Diaries at NEHGS: Excerpts from the Journal of William Freeman, by Robert Shaw

page 61 - Tales from the Courthouse: Fighting for Freedom: True Tales of Slave-Ship Insurrections, by Diane Rapaport


page 63 - Genealogies in Progress, Genealogies Recently Published, Other Books & CDs Recently Published, Family Associations, DNA Studies in Progress


page 70 - Index of persons (for Volume 9)

page 95 - Index of advertisers (for Volume 9)

This issue of New England ancestors was jampacked with interesting and useful information. David Allen Lambert's column New England Online: From the Desk of the Online Genealogist, deals with nine research problems, providing short answers to questions about records, repositories, cemeteries, etc.

There were three short stories in the My Most Challenging "Brick Wall" section - all challenging research problems presented in hopes that someone else has information that will help the submitting researcher. NEHGS actively seeks stories of readers' most challenging "brick walls" - solved or unsolved, for publication in New England Ancestors. If you would like to contribute, please send your story to or NEA-Feedback, 101 Newbury Street, Boston MA 02116-3007.

I continue to wonder why NEHGS and other societies that solicit "brick wall" problems and stories don't post them on the Internet on a blog or a web site where search engines can find them. The same applies to Tables of Contents, Book Reviews, Indexes, etc. If they just posted them where a researcher could find them with a search engine, they might gain more members and/or subscribers.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The New England Historical and Genealogical Register - October 2008 Table of Contents

The Table of Contents for the October 2008 issue (Volume 162, Number 4, Whole Number 648) of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, includes:

* page 243 - Editorial

* page 245 - The English Background of Richard Kent Sr. and Stephen Kent of Newbury, Massachusetts, and Mary, Wife of Nicholas Easton of Rhode Island, by Jane Fletcher Fiske

* page 255 - The Correct Parents of Thankful Stearns, Wife of Cyrus Knapp of Wardsborough South District (Dover), Windham County, Vermont, by Helen A. Shaw and Barbara (Shaw) Hanno

* page 258 - Identifying the Family of Rev. Leonard Frost (1782-1859) of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, by Joan A. Hunter

* page 264 - Genealogical Material on the Willet and Saffin Families from the Notebook of John Saffin, by Robert Wayne Hart

* page 269 - Richard Godfrey of Taunton, Massachusetts, and His Children and Grandchildren, by Helen Schauvet Ullmann (continued from 162:198)

* page 276 - Richard Scarrit of New London and Branford, Connecticut, by Diane LeBlanc Delbridge (concluded from 162:211)

* page 290 - Gowen Wilson of Hingham, Exeter, and Kittery, by Ken Stevens (concluded from 162:180)

* page 299 - Additions and Corrections

* page 302 - Reviews of Books and CD-ROMs

* page 306 - Index of Subjects in Volume 162

* page 310 - Index of Persons in Volume 162

As always, this peer-reviewed scholarly journal finds interesting and helpful articles for the New England researcher, even if they aren't his families (they almost never are mine, it seems). I have a connection to the Stephen Kent family of Newbury, and the article expands my knowledge of the English ancestry, but doesn't help with his descendants.

I usually find a research nugget or two when I review the articles. The article about the Saffin Notebook reminded me that manuscripts with significant genealogy material may reside in repositories like historical societies and small libraries.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Grandpa Randy's Workout Regimen

Many of my readers know that I've been away from the Genea-Cave visiting family for the holidays. Thank you for your patience with scheduled posts. We should be home on Sunday afternoon, but the holiday visits aren't over - my daughter and her family from Victorville are coming for several days - we haven't celebrated Christmas with them yet.

Fortunately, I've been able to read my email and blogs while at Linda's brother Paul's house in Monte Rio, and at my daughter's home in the redwoods near Santa Cruz. I'm in a Best Western in Carpinteria tonight just east of Santa Barbara and it has free internet wireless access - cool!

Our visiting has not been all happy - my son-in-law's aunt died on Wednesday (Christmas Eve), and Linda's brother's wife Deb had strep throat. Our 5-year-old grandson has been sick with a sore throat and cough too, and I'm afraid that I have it now too.

While in Monte Rio, I talked extensively with Deb about her grandfather,
Robert Leroy Thompson - the one whom I cannot find any census record for from 1900 to 1930 (I blogged about this several times - see The Ultimate "Dodging the Census" Puzzle). We decided that we need to seek the marriage records available form the State of Tennessee to determine if it provides the parents' names for RLT. I asked her if there was a chance that RLT was orphaned and adopted by another family - perhaps surname Thompson - and she agreed that that might have happened, and so court records from the 1880 to 1900 time period need to be searched also, but we don't know which county (ies?) to check on. It was fun to share this info with Deb and to discuss our possible research avenues.

We celebrated Christmas Eve dinner at my son-in-law's grandmother's home in Petaluma (the aunt who died on 12/24 was her daughter) - she is a trouper and seemed to enjoy having all of the family around her, although it was bittersweet for her. The dinner was excellent (as always!) and the gift exchange, which focused on the kids, was wonderful. It's a beautiful family.

We drove 3 hours through the rain to Santa Cruz on Christmas Eve - we got lost coming off the Golden Gate bridge and turned into the Presidio instead of going onto 25th Avenue. We made it to the little home in the redwoods, and amid the mud and puddles (my sneakers seem to have holes in them, I found) we got into the warm house. The boys' parents got all of the Santa gifts put out around the tree, and we all went to bed by midnight. I got to write the note from Santa to the boys than king them for the cookies and milk - fun! The boys "slept in" until 6:40 a.m., and we were awakened by the patter of little feet and squeals of delight as they discovered the gifts around the tree. After two hours, the gifts were opened and the living room was strewn with paper and unopened shrink-wrapped packages. In between raindrops, I managed to get their gifts from us into the house and Round 3 began with the same results. I think the boys managed to play with everything by Christmas night! My daughter fixed a nice pot roast for dinner, and another family came over to share it with us. The kids played well together and "Grandpa Monster" came out to play too.

"Grandpa Monster" is a "fee fie fo fum" type of guy who loves to chase, catch, tickle and hide from the little boys, but not scare them. They revel in it, and I try not to knock anything over or land on anyone. These little guys are really strong and persistent. I consider this as my physical workout regimen. It includes:

* climbing up Grandpa Monster to sit on his shoulders. Then we go around the house and I usually dump them on their bed.

* riding on Grandpa Monster's back as a horsey ride. This has morphed into standing up and balancing on my back and jumping off.

* jumping on the bed and eventually into Grandpa Monster's arms. Now, the 5-year-old jumps from one bed to the other over a 3-foot chasm between beds - the 3-year-old doesn't do this yet.

* a variation of the latter is for Grandpa Monster to sit on one bed, the kid climbs up on my shoulders and stands up, and then jumps onto the other bed.

* playing hide-and-seek - the boys still think that Grandpa Monster has disappearing powers, but they are much more observant than before.

These little guys are 100% boy - they are very physical, have an endless motor, are very creative and playful, and very happy to torture Grandpa Monster every chance they get.

Needless to say, the "Grandpa Monster" loves it, although he now takes his glasses off to play and sometimes takes timeouts.

All of this "workout regimen" is part of making more family history. We will always be able to share these memories, and when I'm gone (hopefully it won't be on Christmas Eve) they can talk about the fun times with the "Grandpa Monster." Hopefully, they will also remember the family stories that I tell them at bedtime too, and perhaps one of them will pick up the genealogy and family history books I've written (and will write) and carry on where I leave off.

Didn't do much genealogy this week, but made lots of family history! My arms, shoulders, back and legs are sore - is it the "Santa Cruz crud" or the tangible result of the "Grandpa Monster" workout regimen?

Saturday Night Fun - the Genealogue collection

For Saturday Night Fun this week, I want you to go to The Genealogue blog at and tell me the funniest post you found there.

To help you, you could click on the A Few Favorites link to see Chris's favorites, or on the Top Ten Lists to find a Letterman-like list. If you're pressed for time, click on the Random Post link.

If nothing else, we'll drive Chris's traffic up for a day or two! I'm taking a big risk here - that you'll go there and not come back to play the game here. You vill kum bock, won't you?

Have fun...and please come back and post what you thought was the funniest post you read.

Table of Contents of NGS Magazine - October-December 2008

The Table of Contents of the October-December 2008 issue of the NGS Magazine (Volume 34, Number 4), published by the National Genealogical Society, includes:

page 8 - 2008 NGS Home Study Course Scholarship Winner, by Lynda Childers Suffridge

page 9 - Win a trip to the next NGS conference, by Carmen J. Finley, PhD, CG

page 10 - NGS is looking for the next generation of genealogists, by Patricia Walls Stamm, CG, CGL

page 12 - The Building of a Nation: From Roanoke to the West, by Phyllis Matthews Ziller, MLIS

page 15 - Filby Prize winner David C. Dearborn, by Henry B. Hoff, CG, FASG

page 16 - Preserving old Texas records, by Robert de Berardinis

page 20 - Case study: Anna Mary's husbands, by Kathy Gunter Sullivan, CG

page 22 - The Last Lecture, by Mark Tucker

page 24 - Riding the roller coaster of post-adoption research, by Debbie Mieszala, CG

page 28 - Locating the first courthouse of Charles County, Maryland, by Diane L. Giannini, CG

page 32 - Surname spelling variations, by David W. Webster, FSA Scot

page 35 - They went west: Colonial and territorial records, by Diane Vanskiver Gagel

page 41: Column - National Archives: New Orleans slave manifests, 1807-60, by Claire Prechtel-Kluskens

page 46 - Column - Beginning genealogy: Recording life stories before it's too late, by Gary M. and Diana Crisman Smith

page 50 - Case study: Living a double life, Cyrus Townsend of Peekskill, New York and Pittsburgh, by Rebecca Rector, MLS

page 55 - Call for papers - Salt Lake City

page 56 - Column - Software review: Review of Legacy 7.0, by Barbara Schenck

page 59 - Column - Technology: Saving the planet one family tree at a time, by Drew Smith, MLS

page 62 - Column - Writing family history - An old friend, the Ozarks, and Rising's masterpiece, by Harold E. Hinds, Jr., PhD

This publication changed its name from the NGS NewsMagazine to the NGS Magazine, which makes a lot of sense. This issue has excellent articles - I especially like the columns and the case studies in this issue.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Table of Contents for Family Tree Magazine - January 2009

The Table of Contents for the January 2009 issue (Volume 10, number 1) of Family Tree Magazine includes:


page 20 - Power Hour: Pull up a chair and partake of these 14 genealogy jobs you can do on your lunch break, by David A. Fryxell

page 26 - Writing Riddles: Are faded ink, strange words or convoluted script concealing ancestral answers in your family papers? Solve eight penmanship puzzles with our tips, by Fern Glazer.

page 42 - Family History Fiesta: Seeking your roots south of the border? Our guide to Mexican genealogy will help you celebrate new ancestral discoveries, by David A. Fryxell

page 48 - Your Guide to Google: Genealogy and Google go hand in hand - and not just for ancestor searches. Try these 13 tricks to master the Web giant's other handy family history features, by Allison Stacy.

page 54 - Getting the Message: Let's talk about how your ancestors kept in touch - and how to uncover the records their communication methods left behind, by Maureen A. Taylor.


page 4 - Out on a Limb: Holding a candle to history. By Allison Stacy.

page 5 - Making Connections: Readers respond to Family Tree Magazine.

page 8 - Branching Out: What's new in discovering, preserving and celebrating your family history, including how libraries plan for natural disasters; Family Tree Maker 2009; our Difference Maker of the year; America's first national Hispanic lineage society. Edited by Diane Haddad.

page 14 - History Matters: Gauging the development of thermometers. By David A. Fryxell

page 18 - Now What?: Our experts answer your questions about veteran's graves and illegitimate children.

page 33 - State Research Guides: Essential facts, advice and resources you need to find your family anywhere in the country. In this issue: West Virginia and South Dakota.

page 58 - Preserving Memories: Pointers for saving needlepoint. Edited by Grace Dobush.

page 60 - Everything's Relative: Tales from the lighter side of family history.

page 64 - Brick Wall Busters: Filling up the tank with research ideas. By Sharon DeBartolo Carmack.

page 66 - The Toolkit: Reviews and roundups of the latest, greatest family history resources: FamilySearch's Record Search Pilot Site; Video camera buying guide; Help Googling historical images; The Book Report. Edited by Allison Stacy.

page 72 - Uprooted: Test your genealogy IQ on William and John Kellogg's family tree. By Sharon DeBartolo Carmack.

This issue is chock full of helpful research tips and web sites. The Feature articles were all timely, and I loved the map of Mexico the list of records available online.

I don't see the link to the PDF document that lists all of the web site links mentioned in this issue. This feature must have disappeared with the revamp of the Family Tree Magazine web site.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all!

There is a reason for the season! Thank you, God, for your Gift to the Earth.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the Night Before (the Genealogist's) Christmas

I received this parody of Clement Moore's masterpiece via email back in the mid-1990's, the author is unknown to me. Kimberly Powell at the About Genealogy page also has it on her site.

'Twas the night before Christmas
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even my spouse.

The dining room table with clutter was spread
With pedigree charts and with letters which said...
"Too bad about the data for which you wrote;
Sank in a storm on an ill-fated boat."

Stacks of old copies of wills and such
Were proof that my work had become too much.
Our children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

And I at my table was ready to drop
From work on my album with photos to crop.
Christmas was here, and such was my lot
That presents and goodies and toys I'd forgot.

Had I not been busy with grandparents' wills,
I'd not have forgotten to shop for such thrills,
While others bought gifts to bring Christmas cheers,
I'd spent time researching those birth dates and years.

While I was thus musing about my sad plight,
A strange noise on the lawn gave me such a great fright.
Away to the window I flew in a flash,
Tore open the drapes and yanked up the sash.

When what with my wondering eyes should appear,
But an overstuffed sleigh and eight small reindeer.
Up to the house top the reindeer they flew,
With a sleigh full of toys and 'ole Santa Claus, too.

And then in a twinkle, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of thirty-two hoofs.
As I drew in my head, and bumped it on the sash,
Down the cold chimney fell Santa--KER-RASH!

"Dear" Santa had come from the roof in a wreck,
And tracked soot on the carpet, (I could wring his short neck!)
Spotting my face, good 'ole Santa could see
I had no Christmas spirit you'd have to agree.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
And filled all the stockings, (I felt like a jerk).
Here was Santa, who'd brought us such gladness and joy:
When I'd been too busy for even one toy.

He spied my research on the table all spread"
A genealogist!" He cried! (My face was all red!)
"Tonight I've met many like you," Santa grinned,
As he pulled from his sack a large book he had penned.

I gazed with amusement--the cover it read
Genealogy Lines for Which You Have Plead.
"I know what it's like as a genealogy bug."
He said as he gave me a great Santa hug."

While the elves make the sleighful of toys I now carry,
I do some research in the North Pole Library!
A special treat I am thus able to bring,
To genealogy folk who can't find a thing."

"Now off you go to your bed for a rest,
I'll clean up the house from this genealogy mess."
As I climbed up the stairs full of gladness and glee,
I looked back at Santa who'd brought much to me.

While settling in bed, I heard Santa's clear whistle,
To his team, which then rose like the down of a thistle.
And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,
"Family history is Fun! Merry Christmas! Goodnight!"

--Author Unknown

To all, I wish a very Merry Christmas, and I hope Santa brings you a special gift for your family history.

Family Photographs - Post 35: Randy and Santa Claus

I'm posting old family photographs from my collection on Wednesdays, but they won't be wordless posts like others do - I simply am incapable of having a wordless post.

Here is one of the most precious (to me) images from my Seaver family collection:

I just found this picture in my box of loose pictures recently - isn't it great? It was taken in the mid-1940's - I look like I'm 3 or 4 years old in this picture. I think that my mother or grandfather took the picture. I'm going to guess that it was taken with the Marston store Santa Claus - my grandfather, Lyle Carringer, worked at Marston's Department Store in downtown San Diego, and we always went there to shop.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tombstone Tuesday - Benjamin Seaver in Westminster MA

Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825) and his wife Abigail (Gates) (Seaver) Seaver (1797-1867) are buried in Whitmanville Cemetery in Westminster, Worcester County, Massachusetts.

Whitmanville is a fairly small cemetery, and has mostly older graves. The entrance from the road looks like this - you can drivei nto them iddle of the cemetery if you want to:

Here is a view of the Seaver monument from the center of the cemetery.

The front of the gravestone looks like this:

It is difficult to read the inscriptions. They read:

Benjamin Seaver
died May 25 1825
AE. 33

wife of
Isaac Seaver
formerly wife of
Benj. Seaver
died Jan. 4 1867
AE. 69.

Benjamin and Abigail (Gates) Seaver are one set of my third great-grandparents. They resided in the northern part of Westminster on Beech Hill, where his grandfather Norman Seaver had built a house in the 1770's.

After Benjamin's untimely death at age 33 in 1825, Abigail married his brother, Isaac Seaver in 1832.

Monday, December 22, 2008

GeneaBlog Awards

The end of a year brings award nominations. Genea-Musings has been awarded the Best Daily Genealogy Blog by Tamura Jones at (you need a real browser, Tamura says - I'm using Firefox and Chrome to read his web site) in his article titled GeneaBlog Awards, dated 20 December 2008.

Tamura's comment is:

"Best Daily Genealogy Blog: Genea-Musings

An easy win for Randy Seaver, as Genea-Musings is practically the only daily genealogy blog. There is the MosGA Messenger, but there is whole team behind that one. Randy is a one-man geneablogging machine.

While others struggle to come up with one or two new posts per week, Randy easily manages one or two posts each day - even when he is on vacation! In fact, he actually writes multiple blogs, one of which is aptly called The Geneaholic."

The other genealogy blogs recognized by Tamura include:

* Best Genealogy Society Blog: MoSGA Messenger
* Best Daily Genealogy Blog: Genea-Musings
* Deepest Genealogy Development blog: Louis Kessler's Behold Blog
* Best Commercial Genealogy Blog: The RootsMagic blog
* Best Genealogy Software News Blog: Geneanet Genealogy Blog
* Best Genetic Genealogy Blog: The Genetic Genealogist
* Best Genealogy on MacOS Blog: MacGenealogist
* Best Blog: 24-7 Family History Circle
* Funniest Genealogy Blog: The Genealogue

Please go visit Tamura's web site and the GeneaBlog Awards article to read what he has to say about each blog.

Tamura also has a recent article on his site titled GeneAwards 2008 which addresses best and worst genealogy product, new genealogy product and genealogy organization.

I thank Tamura Jones for the recognition of Genea-Musings and appreciate his kind words in the award.

I congratulate all of the winners of Tamura's genealogy blog awards - each is deserving and contributes significantly to the genea-blogging world.

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 ancestor search, wouldn't it?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Best of the Genea-Blogs - December 14-20, 2008

Several hundred genealogy and family history bloggers write thousands of posts every week about their research, their families, and their interests. I appreciate each one of them and their efforts.

My criteria for "Best of ..." are pretty simple - I pick posts that advance knowledge about genealogy and family history, address current genealogy issues, provide personal family history, are funny or are poignant. I don't list posts destined for the genealogy carnivals, or other meme submissions (but I do include summaries of them), or my own posts.

Here are my picks for great reads from the genealogy blogs for this past week:

* The Carnival's In Town. 8th Edition, Smile for the Camera, A Carnival of Images: Stocking Stuffer by footnoteMaven on the Shades of the Departed blog. This carnival of images shows photographs that the genea-bloggers wish to give to other people in their Christmas stocking. There are 25 submissions.

* 2008 Christmas Tour of Blogs by Denise Olson on the Moultrie Creek blog. 16 genea-bloggers participated in this collection of homes and families sharing their decorations and traditions, past and present.

* Do You Hear What I Hear? by footnoteMaven on the footnoteMaven blog. fM put together this carnival of blog caroling - the favorite songs of 29 genea-bloggers, usually with lyrics and sometimes with links to audio or video.

* Carnival of Genealogy, 62nd Edition by Jasia on the Creative Gene blog. The topic for this carnival was Three Wishes - sharing our holiday wishes for things from our ancestors with Genea-Santa. 36 genea-bloggers wished for gifts from Genea-Santa. Ho ho ho...

* New FamilySearch by the writer of The Ancestry Insider blog. The AI shares information about the status of New FS in an answer to a reader's question. This was new information for me because I'm not involved in the LDS church or working in New FamilySearch.

* Tuesday's Tip: Organizing Your Digital Files and Update on Tuesday's Tip: Organizing Your Digital Files by Miriam Midkiff on the Ancestories: Stories of my Ancestors blog. Miriam shares her method of organizing her genealogy files on the computer - I like it!

* Are You in Someone's Photo? by Carol Wilkerson on the iPentimento: Genealogy and More blog. Carol notes that we are all in everyone else's photos, whether we realize it or not. She links to a new site where readers can check other people's photographs for people they know.

* We All Made it to 65. We didn't all get Social Security by Linda in Lancaster on the From Axer to Ziegler blog. Linda posted photographs of nine females in her ancestry that made it to 65 - and just for her own birthday! Who do you think Linda looks like?

* ThinkGenealogy Innovator Award #1 by Mark Tucker on the ThinkGenealogy blog. Mark creates an award and gives it to someone who is really innovative - read his post to find out who.

* "What Content do you have that I can't get anywhere else?" by Whitney Ransom McGowan on the Blog. Whitney answers a reader's question with a list of unique databases at WVR. It's a nice list - one that I wish other web sites would create for their holdings!

* MyHeritage Raise MyHackles, But We Make Up and MyHeritage Replies by Craig Manson on the Geneablogie blog. Craig rants a bit about problems working in MyHeritage, and they respond.

* The Ms. Universe Party by Elyse Doerflinger on Elyse's Genealogy Blog. Elyse shares a 70-year family Christmas tradition that sounds like a lot of fun - had me laughing! It also serves as a test for prospective family members! This year's is probably this weekend - I hope Elyse shares the results with us.

* Genealogical Roundup by Megan Smolenyak on the Roots Television: Megan's Roots World blog. Megan shares her list of "must-reads" for the week.

* The Problem of Pauline - Post 8 by Sheri Fenley on The Educated Genealogist blog. Sheri shares more of her research on one of her more, um, interesting relatives. Look at all of the interesting biographical information she has about Pauline's erstwhile husband!

I encourage you to go to the blogs listed above and read their articles, and add their blog to your Favorites, Bloglines, reader, feed or email if you like what you read. Please make a comment to them also - we all appreciate feedback on what we write.

Did I miss a great genealogy blog post? Tell me!

Have you noticed that I created a blog category for all of the Best of the Genea-Blog posts in the Labels below this post? Click on it if you've missed earlier editions of BOTG-B.

NOTE: There will not be a Best of the Genea-Blogs from me next week. I'm on the road for the next ten days and will not be able to take the copious notes :) that results in this type of post. I will do it the first Sunday of January, though.

Christmas Advent Calendar - Days 4 to 1

During December 2007, a number of genealogy bloggers participated in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee on his Destination: Austin Family blog (click on the Day of the Month - unfortunately, the images aren't there any more). Each blogger wrote an article around a meme for the day. It was great fun, but a lot of work. One of my reasons for writing these posts was to leave my memories of Christmas in an organized way for my progeny.

Rather than waste bandwidth duplicating the posts every day (since nothing much has changed since last year), I'm just going to post them week-by-week, along with my little original doggerel for each day. We are counting backwards in this Advent Calendar series - the First Day of Christmas is December 24th.

The fourth week of Advent posts include:

* Day 4 - Christmas Music

On the 4th Day of Christmas
My true love sang to me,
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"

* Day 3 - The Christmas Letter

On the 3rd day of Christmas,
our true friends sent to us
a Christmas letter to enjoy.

* Day 2 - Christmas Sweetheart Memories

On the 2nd day of Christmas
My true love spoils me
With so many Christmas gifts.

* Day 1 - Christmas Eve

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

If you didn't participate in this Carnival last year and you want to blog on the daily themes - go for it! Your progeny will appreciate it, and your colleagues in the Genea-Blog-world will enjoy them.