Saturday, June 21, 2008

Software: Making an Ahnentafel list - Post 2C

I asked the question in my post "Does any Genealogy Software do this? - Post 2A" ---

Can a genealogy software program create an ahnentafel list (also known as a Sosa-Stradonitz list)? This list is defined as a list of ancestors, in pedigree chart numerical order, separated into generations, with birth date and place, death date and place, and marriage date and place.

I ran six genealogy software programs that I currently am evaluating to determine the process and the results. I posted "Software: Making an Ahnentafel list - Post 2B" that discussed Legacy Family Tree 7, RootsMagic 3 and FamilyTreeMaker 16.

The next three programs tested include:

4) The Master Genealogist Version 7.0 (Free trial version):

I selected a key person (my grandfather, Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942)) and clicked on the Report menu item. I selected Ahnentafel from the drop-down list, and the Report Definition Screen box for Ahnentafel opened, as shown in the screen below. The key operator on this screen box is the Options button. Clicking on it, I was able to select a number of format options for the report. One of the Tabs is Tags, and using Tags I selected Birth, Marriage and Death by double clicking on them (a check appears for each selected Tag). The screen at this point looks like (with the Ahnentafel box and Options box open):

Then I clicked the OK button on the Options box and the Create Report button on the Ahnentafel box and obtained the Ahnentafel report list shown below:

This report includes names, dates and places for each couple, including birth, marriage and death dates and places. The report includes marriage data for each person in a married couple, so there is a bit of redundancy. I'm pretty sure that the format can be modified to make the report more attractive, but I didn't explore those options. The first time I posted a result, I only got the names because I had no clue as to how to get the dates and places - see the Update note below! It looks like I need significant training to use TMG7 effectively. I need to take the cruise and attend the classes, I guess!

5) Personal Ancestral File Version 5 (free downloaded version): I selected the same key person, and searched all over for a way to make Reports, and finally found the Printer icon that opens the Reports and Charts menu with many tabs and options, as shown below:

I investigated all of the tabs, and figured out that the Books Tab would create an Ahnentafel book. On that tab, I selected 5 generations, no sources, no notes, and clicked on the Preview button. The resulting Ahnentafel Book looks like this (you can select one or two pages to be visible on the screen).

This is an Ahnentafel list with the minimum requirements I expect - names, dates and locations for each ancestral couple, listed by generation. If I desired, I could save this report to an .rtf file or I could print it out.

6) Family Tree Builder 2.0 (free version): I selected the same key person, and clicked on the Reports button and then selected Ancestors from the drop-down list, as shown below:

When I clicked on Ancestors in the menu, the Ancestors report was created as shown below:

The Ancestors report provides the birth, death and marriage data for each couple. It also provides the additional event data like baptisms and burials. For each person in the Ahnentafel, it lists the parents of each person. In my opinion, the parents are superflous in a list like this - they should be in the next generation anyway.

However, when I look further down in the report, since 14 Thomas J. Newton is married to 15 Sophia Buck, I expected no entry for 28 and 29 since I don't have parents for Thomas Newton in my database, and I expected entries 30 and 31 to be the parents of 15 Sophia Buck. In the Ancestors report, the parents of #15 Sophia Buck were #28 Isaac Buck and #29 Martha Phillips. The "Ancestors Report" created is not an Ahnentafel list or report - it's an Ancestors report.

I will write a summary post for these findings that will include comments from readers about these six and several other genealogy software programs.

Comments are welcome if someone has methods or tricks to create the Ahnentafel List I want and expect my genealogy software to be able to create, especially for TMG7 and FTM16.

UPDATE 6/22, 4:30 p.m. Drew and Carol have suggested ways to make TMG7 create an Ahnentafel report list and they worked well. Thank you to them.

I guess one lesson learned here is to "...let others think you're a fool rather than publish something and remove all doubt." As I stated, I'm not experienced with TMG7 and doubt if I ever will be...

Wheel of Genealogy Fortune - Post #4

You all know how to play Wheel of Fortune -I've given you R S T L N and E just like in the Final Round on the TV game!

Take a crack at this quote:

E _ E R _ _ N E .... _ _ S .... _ N _ E S T _ R S ....

_ N _ .... _ T .... _ S .... _ N L _ .... _ .... _ _ E S T _ _ N ....

_ _ .... _ _ _ N _ .... _ _ _ _ .... _ _ R .... E N _ _ _ _ ....

T _ .... _ _ N _ .... _ .... _ _ _ _ .... _ N E.

Extra credit if you can find the author, and find the quote on a web page.

Put your answer in Comments.

Sheri Goes to Samford - Post 2

by Sheri Fenley
(c) Sheri Fenley, June 2008

Monday, JUNE 9TH

At an hour of the day that I did not know existed (6:00 AM) I dragged my behind out of bed so I could peel the bed sheet off of it (my behind, that is) and get ready for the day. Now I could have said that my eyes popped open at the sound of the alarm clock and as I leapt out of bed ready to greet the new day, blah, blah, blah. But you and I both know what a big fat lie that would be!

There is a nice air-conditioned shuttle bus available to take you where you need to go on campus. It is perfect for those perky; "early bird gets the worm" kind of people who can make it out the door in time. For those of us who are perhaps a tad cranky upon arising, do not like worms, and are fond of our snooze buttons, the walk from the dorms to the cafeteria is downhill and if the wind is blowing in just the right direction it is a very short 5 minute walk. I would recommend taking the shuttle on any return trip to the dorms until your body acclimates to the heat and humidity. No amount of wind, blowing in any direction, is going to get you up that hill without your calves screaming in pain that first day.

A short detour here - I am used to 100 degree summers here in Stockton. I want to be clear on this - the heat is not a problem for me, and neither was the humidity once I learned how to breathe without absorbing excess moisture and drowning.

Again, the food was very tasty. I still do not like grits but have a tip for new people on how to make friends and fit right in - scoop some of those grits onto your plate and surround it with some more of the local favorites. You are allowed to eat all the food you want, so get an additional plate of food that you are comfortable with and voila’, instant friends. Beware however of meat that appears to be a chicken fried steak - it is catfish in disguise and does not go well with spiced apple oatmeal.

At 8:30 a.m., I walked to my classroom and feel silly admitting that I was very nervous. All the bright, perky, worm-eating people were already there. I took the last remaining seat in the back row (which as I will later relate was the best seat in the house) and tried not to call attention to myself.

(Note to self: - Wardrobe color and selection DO matter. - Save the fluorescent lime green mini skirt for day 3 or 4.)

Birdie Monk Holsclaw was the instructor for Land Records Case Studies. I felt at ease as soon as she began the class. She provides a stress-free learning environment. This is a term we use in California. It is meant to encourage blonde girls to get an education. It basically means that blondes are capable of learning and that previous theories of an overload of information does not make your brain explode, as first thought.

I knew the basics of land records, but Birdie taught me how to use them more effectively. She gave me tools I had never thought of using before to make those kinfolk connect. I am the registrar for our local DAR chapter and need to make sure that applications for membership that I send in are well documented and verifiable. Many times that magic piece of paper in which someone declares …”to my son/daughter…” does not exist.

I learned from taking this course that different pieces of evidence, when analyzed and correlated properly, can present a convincing argument for the case you are trying make.

Claire Bettag was up next. Now I have to explain something here. I had done a little snooping to find out about the instructors I would be learning from. Claire was one of a few that scared the hell out of me. I just knew that she would be able to take one look at me at say, “Aha! You’ve never been to Washington DC; you’ve never filled out a slip of paper with all those numbers on it to request a single case file from NARA.”

(Note to self: Preconceptions are a bad thing to carry around.)

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Claire is not scary at all! Claire gave us a wonderful presentation on the use of Private Land Claims. She made sure that no one was getting left behind in the class. She didn’t move on until everyone’s questions had been answered. She is just as passionate about teaching and sharing her knowledge as I am about learning.

I was in bed that evening at another time that I did not know existed - 9:00 pm. I learned so much, my head did not explode, and I had a smile on my face.


Sheri Fenley is a guest blogger here on Genea-Musings - previous blog entries include:

* An introduction, and a description of the IGHR program at Samford University in Birmingham, were posted 19 June 2008 as "Meet Guest Blogger Sheri Fenley."

* "Sheri Goes to Samford - Post 1" was posted 20 June 2008.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Software: Making an ahnentafel list - Post 2B

I asked the question in my last post "Does any Genealogy Software do this? - Post 2A" if software can:

Can a genealogy software program create an ahnentafel list (also known as a Sosa-Stradonitz list)? This list is defined as a list of ancestors, in pedigree chart numerical order, separated into generations, with birth date and place, death date and place, and marriage date and place.

I ran six genealogy software programs that I currently am evaluating, and found the following for the first three of them (I'll look at the other three in my next post on this subject):

1) Legacy Family Tree 7.0 Standard Version will make an ahnentafel list. The first screen below is a screen shot of Legacy showing the screen after I selected my target person (my grandfather, Frederick Walton Seaver) and clicked the Reports icon, and then the Books and Other tab, and finally the Ancestors button. I then modified the Ancestors box tab selections and the Report Options selections, and picked 5 generations on the Ancestors box.

Clicking on the Preview button at the bottom of the Ancestors box resulted in a five page report that provided an Ahnentafel report that almost satisfies my "expectations." The screen shot below shows the second page of the Ahnentafel Report )the first page is a title page).

The format looks good, the names are highlighted, and the font size is readable (all of those can be modified - I just used the default values for this example because I was looking more for capability then presentation). The program provides birth and death information for each person, and includes baptism and burial information if that is available in the database.

There is a seemingly redundant paragraph for each couple - the marriage information is repeated for each person, rather than for each couple, which I expected to see. But wait, when someone has more than one spouse, having some information about each of them might be very useful to someone reading the report. From what I can tell, Legacy Family Tree 7.0 picks up only the first marriage for each person, not all of the marriages for each person.

2) RootsMagic 3 (I have the free trial version) will make an Ahnentafel list. After selecting the target individual, I selected the Reports icon, then selected Lists from the left-hand drop-down menu, and selected Ahnentafel. The screen shot below shows the Ahnentafel box over the Family View page.

After clicking on the Create button at the bottom right of the Ahnentafel box, a two page five-generation Ahnentafel list was created. The screen below shows the first page of the report.

The list had names, birth dates ands places, and death dates and places. Marriage information and other individual facts are not shown in the Report. I wish they were!

3) FamilyTreeMaker 16 is my current genealogy software program of choice because I have about 10 years of experience in it. FTM16 will make an Ahnentafel Report. The screen below shows the Family View of my selected person for an Ahnentafel Report, with the drop-down list after I clicked on the Reports icon.

I selected Genealogy Report from the Reports menu, and FTM16 created an Ahnentafel (Ancestor Ordered) Report. I had to use the Format menu to select the type of report, and the Contents item to select the number of generations and to suppress notes, sources, etc. The first page of the resulting Ahnentafel Report is shown below.

There is a paragraph for each couple, with their names highlighted. Birth, death and marriage information is included, but additional facts like baptisms, burials and other spouses are not included.

However, the Report provides a list of the children of each couple. That's not what I want! I want just a list of ancestors. If I want a list of ancestors and their children, I should be able to click a box and include the children. The only way to get the Ahnentafel list that I want is to save this report to a file, and edit all of the children out of it.

I'll do a similar analysis of The Master Genealogist 7, Personal Ancestral File 5, and Family Tree Builder 2.0 in a later post.

Comments are welcome if someone has methods or tricks to create the Ahnentafel List I want and expect my genealogy software to be able to create.

Does any Genealogy software do this? - Post 2A

I learned a lot from my first post with this title - about creating a list or calendar of ancestral birth dates or marriage dates. The summary of responses was here. Several readers helped me out, and I learned a bit about, and gained experience in, several genealogy software programs.

My question is: Can a genealogy software program create an ahnentafel list (also known as a Sosa-Stradonitz list)? This list is defined as a list of ancestors, in pedigree chart numerical order, separated into generations, with birth date and place, death date and place, and marriage date and place. The beauty of this numbering system is that each ancestor has a unique number.

This type of list is a staple of genealogy research. for me, it is absolutely the most useful list to put in my research notebook and carry around - I prefer it to a set of pedigree charts or an alphabetical list of ancestors. Perhaps my preference is due to the over 2,000 ancestors I have in my ancestral database - it is more difficult for me to quickly find a specific person in a large set of pedigree charts than it is in an ahnentafel list.

I have tried to create the ahnentafel list that I want in these programs:

* Legacy Family Tree 7.0 Standard Edition (some limitations in free edition)

* RootsMagic 3 Free Edition (some limitations in free edition)

* FamilyTreeMaker 16 Deluxe Edition

* The Master Genealogist 7.0 - Free Trial (for a month)

* Family Tree Builder 2.0 - Free Edition

* Personal Ancestral File 5 - Free Edition

I have not tried to do it using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 or any other program but the ones listed above. If readers want to provide me with their experiences using other programs, I would welcome it.

I'll write at least two more posts showing my experiences using the six programs listed above.

Sheri Goes to Samford - Post 1

by Sheri Fenley
(c) Sheri Fenley, June 2008
  • Not all donuts have a hole in the middle and come in big, pink, square boxes.
  • "Motorcycle Mama" has new meaning for me.
  • I may be geographically challenged for opportunities to join my peers at events, but I no longer feel alone in my pursuit of a career in the field of genealogical research.
  • I do not like thunder and lightning storms as much as I thought I did.
  • There is room on the porch with the big dogs.
  • There's a whole new definition for humidity and a human being's tolerance for it.
  • I do not like grits but I really like butter beans.
  • I don't care what anyone says, I like the Waffle House!
  • There is nothing better than being around so many people who don't think you are crazy.

I feel the need to share my reasons for the statements above and my first academic adventure at Samford and so begin with Day 1.


Birmingham, Alabama

My flight from California was smooth and fast; after a mere 30-minute layover in Houston, I arrived in Birmingham, Alabama, about 2:30 PM. I have never seen a place as green in the summer like Birmingham. Birmingham sits at the bottom of the lower Appalachian Mountain Range. Everywhere you look are low, tree covered, rolling hills.

My roommate had arranged for us to stay with a shirttail relative of hers because we could not check into the dorms until Sunday. We went to dinner at a Chinese buffet called Aunt Lisa's where the only Chinese food I saw were the fortune cookies we were given as a parting gift when we left.

I was promised dinner and a show and was not disappointed. In the Winn Dixie parking lot was a group of musicians who get together once a month and play. One of the band members appeared to be under the age of 65, the other 11 were not. Three of them were women (one of them playing a bass fiddle that was 3 feet taller than she was). A total of 1 mandolin, 1 fiddle and 1 bass fiddle and 9 guitars. They played everything from very old gospel favorites to Elvis. An addition to the festivities was a car show (Southern definition of a car show: A group of 3 or more newly washed vehicles that are NOT trucks parked next to one another). Dancing was an option that a few took advantage of.

The next morning was a church service that I still do not know how to explain. Finally, after church but before we were dropped off at Samford, was another dining experience that I feel I must share - The Waffle House.

There is a Waffle House everywhere in the south. The places are no bigger than my bathroom at home so I am assuming in order to serve the masses of people who frequent the establishment, having one on every corner is not over-doing it. I had hash browns that were smothered, covered, diced, chopped and some others things that one can have done to their food order. As you tell your waitress all the different ways you would like your food to be assaulted, she repeats your request to the cook shouting your preferences across the room.


Sheri Fenley is a guest blogger here on Genea-Musings - her introduction, and a description of the IGHR program at Samford University in Birmingham, were posted yesterday as "Meet Guest Blogger Sheri Fenley."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Article on Adoptees Using DNA to find their father's surname

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) web site has an interesting article titled "Adoptees use DNA to find Surname" by Paul Rincon, the Science Reporter for BBC News, published on 18 June 2008.

The key paragraphs are:

"Male adoptees are using consumer DNA tests to predict the surnames carried by their biological fathers, the BBC has learned.

"They are using the fact that men who share a surname sometimes have genetic likenesses too.

"By searching DNA databases for other males with genetic markers matching their own, adoptees can check if these men also share a last name.

"This can provide the likely surname of an adoptee's biological father."

and ...

"... Mr Greenspan said that, for some adoptees, discovering the surname of their birth father in any other way might be extremely difficult, or even impossible.

"'That's the real miracle of the DNA test. [The Y chromosome] can act in a sense like a silver bullet.' he said."

Reading this, it looks like they have the technical details correct. That's good!

Did I just hear a shoe drop?

THUNK! The sound is unmistakable.

The Ancestry Insider posted tonight about a lawsuit brought by The Generations Network against Millennia Corporation over the cover design on the Legacy 7.0 software box as compared to the FamilyTreeMaker 2008 box.

Here is a picture of the box from the Legacy 7.0 web site at

Is there more than one box design being sold? The one in the post is shown on

If you just download the Legacy 7.0 program and don't buy a box, is TGN injured?

Read the entire post. Not being an attorney, I have no opinion on this, but the battle may be interesting.


Longest recorded marriages

When I posted the article from Minnesota yesterday about the 83-year long marriage between Clarence and Mayme Vail, I asked the question "What is the longest marriage in recorded history?"

Larry Lehmer, posting on his Passing It On blog, noted that Wikipedia had a list on their web site titled, strangely enough, "List of people with the longest marriages." [Hmmm - note to self: sometimes you can answer your own questions by doing a little homework without looking completely dumb].

The Wikipedia list shows that Philipose Thomas (100 years at the time) and Sosamma (99 years and six months at the time) of Kerala, India were married 17 February 1919 and their marriage had lasted 86 years, 4 months as of 2005. I wonder if they are both still alive? You would think that if one of them had died, it would have been reported in the newspaper and the Wikipedia entry would have been updated. If they are still alive today, then they have been married 89 years, 171 days.

The oldest recorded combined age of a married couple is 212 years and 364 days, for Leonardus Arnoldus Marie Koppert (30 January 1885 - 17 November 1990) and Marie Cornelie de Chauvigny de Blot (27 October 1890 - 8 January 1998) from Bilthoven (Utrecht) in the Netherlands.

Thanks to Larry for the kick in the keyboard and the link!

Meet Guest Blogger Sheri Fenley

After laughing very hard while reading her APG and TGF mailing list posts, I asked Sheri Fenley if I could share, on my blog, her experiences at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, which was held at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama during the week of June 8-13, 2008. You can see a description of the courses offered this year at IGHR here.

First, let me introduce Sheri Fenley in her own words (provided by email in April, 2008 to her colleagues in one of the groups in the Professional Genealogy Study Group - Sheri is the discussion leader of the group in which I participate monthly):

"I live in Stockton, California, which is in the San Joaquin Valley east of the Bay Area and south of Sacramento.

"I have been researching since 1988. Five years ago I decided I wanted some sort of formal education and have just finished two years of family history studies that I took entirely online at Monterey Peninsula College. Karen Clifford is the instructor.

"I make it a point to attend most genealogical events in Northern California. The National Archives in San Bruno offer excellent workshops once a month on how to use their facility and the records that they hold. The California Genealogy Society always offers great programs at their monthly meetings as well as special events.

"I have completed the NGS American Genealogy Home Study course as well as the Transcribing, Extracting and Abstracting Course. I attended the week long Family History Conference at BYU last summer and will be at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama for a week in June. I am taking the Land Records - Case Studies course which is being taught by Birdie Monk Holsclaw.

"I recently took over the job as editor for the San Joaquin Genealogical Society's newsletter. I am chapter registrar for El Toyon DAR here in Stockton. I am a volunteer for the Missouri State Archives transcribing land records as well as for Brigham Young University's Immigrant Ancestor Project where I transcribe ship passenger lists. I am a member of NGS, California Genealogical Society, DAR, my local genealogical society, and am days away from sending in my application to BCG to start the clock to become certified.

"I have three sons, ages 30, 23 and 21, four cats and one husband."

As you can see from her genealogy resume above, Sheri is experienced at genealogy research and has made a serious effort to further her genealogy education as she pursues becoming a board certified genealogist. I admire Sheri for her dedication to improving her skills and appreciate her forthrightness and sense of humor.

This will be a serial set of posts that will capture Sheri's day-by-day experiences in her own words as she attends IGHR in Birmingham, one of the pre-eminent educational courses in the genealogy world. These posts were originally submitted to the APG and TGF mailing lists during this last week, but I thought that genealogists who are not on those lists would learn from them and enjoy them.

Fasten your seat belts!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Taking Genealogy to the People

We all live in a community much larger than the membership of our local genealogy society. In my case, the Chula Vista Genealogical Society has about 90 members in a culturally diverse city of over 200,000 people. The San Diego Genealogical Society has about 400 members in a very diverse city of over 1.2 million. That means that these societies attract 1 of every 2,000 to 3,000 people in the community. Obviously, there is room for growth of local genealogy societies!

The demographics of these San Diego area genealogy societies are significantly different from the overall population - the society members are older, whiter and better educated than the population as a whole, but they are probably not wealthier.

How can local societies grow their numbers? In my humble opinion, only by being more of a presence in the communities they exist in, and by serving the needs of the population as they relate to genealogy.

One way to increase community presence and awareness is to receive favorable publicity, such as the recent article about CVGS in the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper.

Another way to increase presence and awareness is for members to go out and speak to community groups such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Elks, American Legion, VFW groups, women's groups, church groups, senior centers, etc.

I was invited two months ago to speak to the South Bay Christian Women's Connection today, and I prepared a 20 minute talk (well, it ended up being 30 minutes) about genealogy and what it means to me. I took along handouts with the CVGS brochure (including an application), a pedigree chart and a family group sheet. I took my father's 10-generation wall chart for show-and-tell.

When I first started writing my talk which I titled "Moments in Time," I focused on "what is genealogy and family history," "my own genealogy and family history stories," "how and where to pursue genealogy research," and a bit about CVGS meetings.

My wife read it over last week and said "how boring..." so I added a bit of humor and human interest - some of the strange or funny names, curious occupations, tombstone inscriptions, and the "Genealogy is a Lot Like Sex" T-shirt. I had all of those on this blog and in my "Genealogy Is Fun! Seriously!" presentation material from early 2006, so it was easy to find and include the material in my script.

Then I realized that this was a Christian group I was speaking to, and that some of the funny names, occupations, and the T-shirt idea might not go over too well, so I replaced some of the names and occupations, and eliminated the T-shirt section. I substituted an excerpt from a 1780 will that demonstrated the Faith of Our Colonial Forefathers, and finished up with the excerpt from How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn (included in the post here).

There were about 40 in attendance and the talk seemed to be well received. It cost CVGS only the $10 for the handout copies. I got a free lunch out of it, as did my wife, who may join this particular group. There was an inspirational speaker after my presentation, so they really got their money's worth! I know of one probable new member for CVGS (she's leaving next week on a family history trip to the South), and there may be others who were so inspired (I wish!) by my moving presentation that they want to pursue family history research.

We've talked in our CVGS board about having a speaker's bureau and actively pursuing speaking to community groups and inviting them to join our merry little band of genealogy sleuths and story-tellers. I wanted to see how this type of event worked, and I think it is something we will do again with other groups.

Family Photographs - Post 10: Gramps and Mom on an Elephant

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

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

The man in front on top of the elephant is my grandfather, Lyle Lawrence Carringer (1891-1976). I think that the child on his right and on the same side of the elephant is my mother, Betty Virginia (Carringer) Seaver (1919-2002), but I'm not 100% sure. I don't know who the other persons are. I also don't know what the elephant's name was.

This photograph was taken in about 1923, probably at the San Diego Zoological Society grounds in Balboa Park. This photograph was in the Carringer family photograph collection handed down from my grandparents.

The world-renowned San Diego Zoo has been a fixture in the lives of my grandparents, parents, my own family, and my daughter's families since it opened in 1916. The Zoo was only about two miles to the west of the Carringer family home on 30th Street in San Diego, and we could often hear animal sounds (lion roars, monkey screams, bird squawks, etc) at the house when the wind was from the west (which is the prevailing wind direction in San Diego), especially on the second story of the building where I grew up.

A very long marriage

The St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper published a story yesterday titled "Till death did they part: Hugo couple's marriage endured for 83 years" by Andy Rathbun. The key graphs in the story are:

"Little did Clarence Vail know when he wed his high school sweetheart in 1925 that those vows would one day make them famous. Clarence and Mayme Vail became local celebrities as their commitment surpassed the 80-year mark, making them contenders for the Guinness Book of World Records and international symbols of a healthy marriage.

"But even a union as strong as the one they shared had to end. Clarence, a longtime resident of Hugo, died Saturday with his wife at his side. He was 101 and had been married to Mayme, 100, for 83 years."


"Together, they begat four generations: six children, 42 grandchildren, 101 great-grandchildren and 43 great-great-grandchildren. Three grandchildren preceded Vail in death."

Wouldn't that be a grand family tree to have on your wall?

This article raises two questions in my mind:

1) What is the longest marriage in recorded history (other than the pre-Noah Biblical marriages!).

2) Was there something in the genes of Clarence Vail and Mayme (whose maiden name was not given) that enabled them to live this long together? Or was their long life together due to their environment, attitudes, and life style?

It's a great human interest story, isn't it?

Carnival of Genealogy #50 - Family Pets

Bill West is hosting the 50th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy this month on his West in New England blog. The topic for this carnival was Family Pets.

There are 29 entrants, and 30 stories in this Carnival. My entry was titled "Rootie Toot Toot, Lickety Split, Softie and Squash/Mira". Please take some time to read these devotions to our furry companions.

The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Independent Spirit. With the upcoming July 4th holiday, there is no more perfect time to honor someone from your family whose life can be summed up in one word – INDEPENDENT! Do you have a relative who was feisty, spoke their own mind, was a bit of a free spirit? Anyone who most people might consider a “nut” on the family tree but you know they really just followed a “different tune?” We all have at least one person whose character and habits may have made them seem “ahead of their time” and now is the chance to tell us their story.

The host for the next edition of the COG will be the very free spirited, Thomas MacEntee. The deadline for submissions will be July 1st. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using our carnival submission form.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Miriam is a Google Book Video Star!

Have you watched our genea-blogging colleague, Miriam Robbins Midkiff, of Ancestories fame, in her video talking about Google Book Search here?

There is a two minute video segment with Miriam talking about her use of Google Book Search to find more information about Alice Teddy, a relative of her great-grandmother.

Well done, Miriam! It's nice to put a face and voice to the Ancestories posts. Miriam's Internet has been messed up for several days - I hope she knows we're talking about her!

Hat tip to Becky Wiseman on her Kinexxions for finding this first! She saw it on the Inside Google Book Search blog.

I'm 1 in 1,000!

I received an email two weeks ago that said:

"Dear Winner,

"Congratulations! You have been selected to receive a prize by registering in The Buick Heritage Sweepstakes, administered by ePrize.

"Since the end of the promotion, ePrize has conducted a random drawing to select a prize winner. Your name was randomly selected in the The Buick Heritage Sweepstakes and you have won a Family History Kit consisting of Family Tree Maker Essentials software, a DVD of African American Lives (as seen on PBS) and a hardcover copy of In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past."

That was a surprise! I do vaguely recall filling out an entry form online and submitting it. Cool - it's fun to win things once in awhile.

There were 10 Grand Prizes - an Ancestry DNA kit. I haven't seen an announcement of the winners yet, but I'm sure they've all been notified.

The box with my prizes came today via UPS. I'm now the proud owner of FamilyTreeMaker 2008 Essentials (which includes one month of an Ancestry US Deluxe subscription), the African American Lives 2 DVD, and the book Finding Oprah's Roots by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The latter is a substitute for the originally named book.

I started reading the book while watching TV tonight, and will write a book report on it after I finish it. I saw the TV show on PBS, so I don't know what I'll do with the DVD - perhaps I'll donate it to CVGS or another society.

I'll load FTM2008 sometime soon and work with it - and then decide if I want to make it my primary genealogy software or not. I'm going to be sure that I don't knock out my FTM 16 software, though, just in case I want to use it as my primary software.

Any other Buick Heritage Sweepstakes winners in my readers? I know that Apple was one.

Kentucky Land Office Records

A CVGS colleague passed the Kentucky Secretary of State web page to me to check out for Kentucky Land Records.

There is a PowerPoint presentation, with accompanying notes, on this web site that provides historical information about colonial history, colonial land claims, the land patent process in the 1800's, and how to obtain these records.

The Powerpoint presentation (warning, over 10 mb) of the Land Office program from the May 10, 2008 workshop co-sponsored by the Kentucky Genealogical Society and Kentucky Historical Society is here. The accompanying supplemental notes are here in PDF format.

The information that is online at the Kentucky Secretary of State web page includes (see for all databases):

* Virginia & Old Kentucky Series: Patents authorized by: Revolutionary War Warrants; Certificates of Settlement & Preemption Warrants; and Treasury Warrants
* West of Tennessee River Military Series
* Jackson Purchase Locator
* County Court Order Series Database (over 8200 patents link to scanned images)

Land records that are not online include:

* South of Green River Series
* Kentucky Land Warrants Series
* Tellico Series
* South of Walker’s Line Series (Tennessee Land)
* West of Tennessee River Non-Military Series (use the online Jackson Purchase Locator to determine location of these patents)

This is a wonderful resource for historians and genealogists. If only every state or county would do something like this, our research efforts would be enhanced and quicker.

Thanks to Susi P for passing this on from the KYMERCER mailing list.

Searching Genealogy Mailing List Archives

One of the most interesting genealogy tasks I pursue every year is to search the Rootsweb-sponsored and archived Mailing Lists. This used to be very difficult when you had to select a specific list and search it month-by-month.

Now, you can search one specific or all of the lists at Rootsweb using a search box at If you choose the Advanced Search tab, you can specify search terms that are in the body of a message, in a subject line, on a specific list or posted on a specific date (such as June 2005, 2005, or a range such as 2005-2007).

If you just input a surname in the "Body" section of the search box, you will receive a list of every post with the surname in the text of the posts, including the submitter of the post. If I just want, for personal vanity reasons (who me?), to find out how many mailing list posts I made in a specific time frame, I could put "Randy Seaver," or my email address, in the "From" line of the Search Box (I have made 21 posts in 2008 to date).

I use this Mailing List Archive Search box on a yearly basis to:

1) Find information submitted about my major family surnames - Seaver, Carringer, Vaux, Auble, Dill, etc. I go through them one by one and determine if I need to add the information to my database. I may discover a distant cousin in the process.

2) Look for information about a specific person, especially for common surnames like Smith, Miller, Johnson, etc. If you get too many hits, for a common given name and surname, you can add a town or county to narrow the search. For instance, I can search the entire mailing list database for "Ranslow Smith" (using the quote marks) and find that there are only 3 posts with that search term, all of them mine with an email address from 12 years and 6 ISPs ago. If I search for "Russell Smith" I get 2,218 matches, but if I specify "Russell Smith" AND Jefferson NY, I get 10 matches in the specific area I'm searching for him.

3) Look for information posted by a specific person. You can put the person's name or email address in the "From" line. This can be useful if you find an older mailing list post and want to contact the author, but the given email address doesn't work. If you input the author's name in the "From" box you may find a more recent email address.

The Search of the Rootsweb Mailing List Archives is really pretty useful and time-saving. And it's FREE!

I noticed that, as of today, there are 33,668,488 documents in this Rootsweb Mailing List Archives, dating from the early 1990's. This is a fantastic resource, especially for researchers just starting their search.

The posts are also found using a Google search using appropriate search terms.

The Carringer Family Letter Collection (1890 - 1900)

I posted a number of letters to my Carringer family in San Diego several months ago, and I need to collect links to all of them in one post.

This series of family letters is from the parents, brother and aunt of Henry Austin Carringer residing in National City and San Diego in the 1890 to 1900 time frame. Austin's parents (David Jackson and Rebecca (Spangler) Carringer and brother (Harvey Edgar, unmarried) resided in Boulder, Colorado during this period of time and there is news of towns people and events in these letters. Aunt Helen Brown resided in Conneautville, Pennsylvania in 1890.

Post 1 -- from Helen Brown to Austin and Della Carringer, 28 May 1890

Post 2 -- from Helen Brown to Austin and Della Carringer, 2 October 1890

Post 3 -- from Rebecca Carringer to Austin and Della Carringer, 8 November 1891

Post 4 -- from Rebecca Carringer to Austin and Della Carringer, 6 December 1896

Post 5 -- from Harvey Edgar Carringer to Austin and Della Carringer, 7 March 1897

Post 6 -- from Rebecca Carringer to Austin and Della Carringer, 13 March 1897

Post 7 -- from Rebecca Carringer to Austin and Della Carringer, 28 March 1897

Post 8 -- from Rebecca Carringer to Austin and Della Carringer, 5 April 1897

Post 9 -- from Rebecca Carringer to Austin and Della Carringer, 12 April 1897.

I will add to the list when I publish more of these letters.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Vermont and New Hampshire Databases on

In May, I posted the list of New York databases available on the web site, which actually links to, the web site of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS).

I thought it would be useful to post the databases available for all of the New England states - perhaps someone will Google a town or record type and see my post and be led to a useful record.

For Vermont, the NEHGS has these searchable databases on their web site:

* Vital Records of Worcester, Vermont, 1813–1858
* Vital Records of Weybridge, Vermont
* Vital Records of Westfield, Vermont, 1793-1860
* Vital Records of Shelburne, Vermont, 1743-1896
* Vital Records of Putney, Vermont
* Vital Records of Hardwick, Vermont, to 1860
* Vital Records of Fairfax, Vermont
* Vital Records of Dover, Vermont
* Vital Records of Bristol, Vermont, 1771-1859
* Vital Records of Brattleboro, Vermont to 1814
* Roster of Vermont Soldiers in World War I - (1917-1919)
* Records of the Rev. George W. Bailey of Springfield, VT, 1840-1902
* Records of the Proprietors of Weybridge, Vermont
* Records of the First Church of Rockingham, VT
* Records of the Congregational Church of Weybridge, VT, 1794-1894
* Records of The Congregational Church of Rutland, VT
* Early Vital Records Jamaica Windham Co., VT Early Marriages
* Early Records of Morgan, Vermont

For New Hampshire, the NEHGS has these searchable databases on their web site:

* Bow, New Hampshire, The Town Book of Bow, New Hampshire
* Elliot Family of Boscawen, New Hampshire, by Henry Ames Kimball (1918)
* Marriages Performed by Rev. Stephen Peabody of Atkinson, New Hampshire
* Records of the Proprietors of Bow, New Hampshire, 1727 - 1783
* Plaistow, New Hampshire Vital Records, 1726-1871
* Vital Records of Nottingham, New Hampshire, 1734-1877
* Vital Records from the New Hampshire Gazette
* Vital Records of Enfield, New Hampshire, 1761-1940
* Town Records of Goffstown, New Hampshire
* Records of the Second Church of Christ, Kingston, New Hampshire
* Records of the Second Church of Christ of Boscawen, New Hampshire
* Records of the First Church of Christ, Nottingham West (Hudson), New Hampshire, 1737-1795
* Records of the Congregational Church of Lyme, New Hampshire
* Record of Births Attended by Dr. John French in Bath, New Hampshire and Surrounding Towns, 1807–1857
* Record Book of New Castle, New Hampshire
* Members of the First Congregational Church of Campton, New Hampshire — 1800–1874
* Marriage and Death Notices Published in New Hampshire Newspapers
* History and Church Records of East Kingston, New Hampshire
* Bill of Mortality for Dover, New Hampshire — Deaths from 1708 to 1802

Of course, you have to be a member of NEHGS to use the databases at the site.

NEHGS is offering a $15 (single member is $75 a year) discount for new memberships through June 30, 2008. Alternatively, you can receive a free copy of the book, "New York Essays" by Marian S. Henry. This offer is only available for new memberships and only by calling the membership department at 1-888-296-3447.

Disclosure: I am a member of NEHGS and enjoy the publications, but I find that the online databases are frustratingly difficult to use.

The Ancestry Indexing Project

The Ancestry Insider recently let the "cat out of the bag" about the Ancestry Indexing Project which is currently in Beta testing.

The purpose of this project is (per the blog post) to:

"Ancestry will create digital images of archive records as the first step in the project. Volunteers who transcribe the records using Ancestry's indexing tool. Ancestry will then create an index and publish it free to everyone."

Individuals can still sign up to participate to hear about, index and test in this Project - see The interesting paragraph on this page is:

"That’s why we’re creating the World Archives Project, to let anyone help preserve the contents of these valuable documents in indexes that will remain FREE to the public. As a participant, you'll be the first to see new collections as you enter information into our database. You'll also get the satisfaction of helping families better understand their unique, meaningful stories."

Note that this says that the INDEX will be FREE for anyone to see. It doesn't say one word about the IMAGES that are indexed, does it?

The Ancestry Insider also provides a chronology of this project, which indicates that Juliana Smith posted about it in this post on her 24/7 Family History Circle blog back in early March. My memory must be shorter than three months, because I don't recall seeing it! Read the comments from months ago, too.

The question I have is:

"Will there be any incentives for people who participate by indexing databases from images in the Ancestry Indexing Project? Is this a pro-bono effort, or will they establish some sort of payback for helping them out - like reduced subscription prices for certain levels of participation?"

Such an incentive program might be real attractive to genealogists on fixed incomes who want to help the genealogy community and receive a bargain on an Ancestry subscription.

The Words We Use

Every one of us uses subjective words in our daily lives to express a level of confidence in the truth, accuracy or correctness of information about a fact or event. In genealogy reports, we often express that confidence in the correctness using words such as possible, probable, certain, unlikely, likely, impossible, perhaps, etc.

How do genealogists view these terms? What scale value from 0.0 to 1.0 do we assign to these subjective terms? This is the question Donn Devine asked recently on the TGF and APG mailing lists here. He is taking a survey to try to quantify them on the probability scale. Read his post to see the terms that he wishes to define on a probability scale.

Naturally, I sent him my list this morning before I went online to see if there are lists of scale values of probability for the subjective words that Donn is trying to define. I'll post my responses as a comment to this post, and I encourage you to do the same.

Are these terms really quantifiable? They are terms of probability and chance, and there is a scale from 0.0 (impossible) to 1.0 (certainty) as discussed in textbooks and this web page (among others).

I did find one article with a list of some of these terms on a scale, with plenty of discussion, with some value assigned to them - here.

It is important that we, as genealogy researchers and writers, have a common and familiar scale when we use these subjective terms. I encourage you to read Donn's post, and to send him your response with your own subjective scale (tell him I sent you!). He promised to post the results on the mailing lists when he compiles them.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wheel of Genealogy Fortune Puzzle #3

You all know how to play Wheel of Fortune -I've given you R S T L N and E just like in the Final Round on the TV game!

Take a crack at this quote:

_ .... _ _ _ _ .... R _ T .... _ S .... _ _ R _ ....

T _ .... L _ _ E .... _ _ T _ .... _ _ T ....

_ _ _ E S .... _ .... _ _ N E .... _ N _ E S T _ R.

[Note: If you can see the "..." they are spacers between words. Blogger doesn't do double spaces well. I whited them out on the blog web page.]

Extra credit if you can find the quote on a web page.

Put your answer in Comments.

Best of the Genea-Blogs: June 8-14, 2008

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

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

* "Pro-Gen Study Group #2" by Mark Tucker on the ThinkGenealogy blog. Mark summarizes his second month of participation in the Professional Genealogist's Study Group (this group is for genealogists considering being a professional). I am also participating in this group, and Mark is in my discussion group, but not my peer group. While this group is closed to newcomers, as Mark explains, the outline of reading and assignments has a lot of value to anybody trying to improve their research, writing and business skills.

* "My Favorite Virginia Genealogy Sources" by Arlene Eakle on the Arlene Eakle's Virginia Genealogy Blog. Arlene describes her favorite genealogy sources, and her favorite my surprise you. I agree with her choice. The problem is that they are so difficult to find and use effectively.

* "Productive research leads to new ancestral questions" by Pat Richley on the TeachGenealogy Blog. Pat describes her Study Group's field trip to the Family History Library last weekend. They had a great time, and Pat summarizes some of the research findings in this post.

* "In Viet Nam, I'm my Own Grandmother" by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak on the Roots Television: Megan's Roots World blog. The title initially made me put this on my list, but then I read about the process Megan went through to see how she came to that conclusion!

* "WeRelate: Sources, Notes, References and Footnotes" by Denise Olson on the Family Matters blog. Denise covers these topics as they are used in WeRelate databases. Alas, they are everything I'm not good at! That's why I'm going to study extra hard this week. I really appreciate Denise's efforts to learn more about WeRelate and pass them on to make my learning easier.

* "Showing Off Your Photos in AncestryPress" by Stefanie Condie on the blog. They have significantly improved the options in the AncestryPress family books, resulting in more capability and coverage. I'm almost ready to try this out! Thanks, Stefanie.

* "The Future of e-Paper" by Dick Eastman in the Eastman Online Genealogy Newsletter. Dick's timely article should be "must reading" for everyone with a genealogy cave full of books and magazines. The future can be nearly paperless! But read the comments too - many people won't do this.

* "June 13 - Friday from the Collectors - The Gift of the Photograph, Uniting Families with their History" by Lisa on footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed blog. Lisa writes about her experiences finding family photographs and sharing them with her extended family.

* "I Still Think She's Dead - and Here's Why" by footnoteMaven (or should she now be the shadyMaven?) on the Shades of the Departed blog. fM posted last week about this photo of a female who might be dead, and she wrote this week about her reasons for thinking that she is dead. Fascinating detective work!

* "The Ancestry Newspaper Rollout. Why I Say 'Meh' " by Jennifer on the Rainy Day Genealogy Readings blog. I really appreciate blog postings without sugar coating, and this one of Jennifer's is great. I was going to write something more prolix and confusing on this subject, but Jennifer hit the nail on the head before I had a chance to find my hammer!

* "Are Genea-bloggers Journalists?" by Thomas MacEntee on the Destination: Austin Family blog. Thomas asked an important question here, and searches for the answer. My input is that "yes, in many cases, they are."

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!

My First Father's Day

I was only 8 months old when I celebrated my first Father's Day - with my dad, of course! Here's a picture from about that time in 1944:

I don't know if he's tickling me or what, but it looks like I was having fun!

I learned a lot from my father, and I wrote about some of them in I Learned from my Dad...

My father's biography is in My Dad - Fred Seaver (1911-1983). I posted pictures of my dad and brothers in My Father and his Boys

My maternal grandfather's biography is in A Wondrous Life.

This is my 35th Father's Day as a parent, and each has been special. Our two daughters were darling children and are responsible adults, who have made wonderful families, and we love to visit with and be visited by them. We have one daughter and our two granddaughters here this weekend, and I've had a lot of quiet time holding, feeding, and singing to the littlest one, Audrey. She slept in my arms for an hour this morning while I read the paper and then read my email and blogs. Her older sister, Lauren, is a ball of fire and a lot of fun, and we play games and share treats with each other. Gee, I wonder if she wants another Hershey's kiss? Or just a Grandpa's kiss? Tough choice? Not for me, I have plenty of both - an endless supply!