Saturday, October 11, 2008

Digging in the Putman Garden of Genealogy Mysteries

I had several hours to myself today and rather than mindlessly blog about some esoteric genealogy web site (well, I did write one post about GeneaNet - which is not esoteric) or go to the SDGS meeting, I reviewed information about my Putman line.

I found that I had not updated my genealogy database with more recent Putman information, so I decided to do that, based on the information gathered by my probable distant cousin, Mark R. Putman. Mark has a web site at on which he has the current Putman Family Bulletin, which includes some of his latest research and also his Y-DNA comparisons.

Mark has a page for Jan Pootman, the immigrant from Holland to the Albany/Schenectady area of New York in the 1600's, and separate pages for each of Jan and Cornelia (Bradt) Pootman's children. My own Putman line is from their son, David Putman. The information for this line is at

One of the things that Mark has done on all of his web pages is add information that seems to be pertinent to the Putman families he is discussing. He has gathered a lot of information about the associates of each of the Putman descendants and has put this data in his biographies. Unfortunately, while there is quite a bit of data available from original sources, there is often not enough data to satisfy the Genealogical Proof Standard concerning names of spouses, relationships to children, and localities that the families resided.

A good example is the wife of David Janse Putman - she is said to be Elizabeth Beekman (daughter of Henry Martinse Beekman) or Helena Van Gelder (daughter of Evert Hendrickse Van Gelder). Or both. Or perhaps neither. The circumstantial evidence, based on Dutch naming customs and a few land records, says that her first name was Helena. And they named a daughter Fyke, possibly after the wife of Evert Van Gelder, who transferred land to David and Helena Putman with her second husband, Mathias Van Horne. You can see the web growing denser. Perhaps Elizabeth Beekman was a second wife of David?

However, there are no records that either an Elizabeth Beekman or a Helena Van Gelder ever existed. The classical Beekman surname book does not mention an Elizabeth marrying a Putman, and the classical Van Gelder book does not mention a Helena of the right age. The databases for the Van Gelder family on Rootsweb WorldConnect (see here) do not show a Helena Van Gelder, although there is a 6-year break between 1684 and 1690 so that there might be another child of Evert Hendrickse and Fytje Adamse (Brouwer) Van Gelder.

Mark's web pages are an excellent example of a One-Name Study in work - and I really appreciate the effort that he has put into finding the information and posting it.

I enjoyed digging for information in Mark's Putman genealogy garden, although I am not convinced that Helena's maiden name was Van Gelder. I did add some of the spouses names and other data for later Putman generations to my own database. I also incorporated some of Mark's more recent findings into my Notes for my Putman ancestors, giving credit to Mark's family bulletin and web site as the source.

My work day ended too soon, since Linda and Lolo came home from Disney on Ice at 2 p.m. and we spent the evening transporting Lolo up to connect with her mother in Temecula, where we celebrated two of our impending birthdays. We had Lolo for three days here, and she was almost perfect for us (naps are a problem!). She was happy to be going home after her "vacation" week in Chula Vista while her mother was dealing with some physical problems.

Using - Post 3

I started this thread earlier this week, introducing as a social network and family tree web site with over 200 million names in their databases in the post Using - Post 1. I showed what my own database on GeneaNet looked like in Using - Post 2.

In this post, I want to check out the Report Options in GeneaNet.

On the left margin of the GeneaNet pages for a Family Tree is a list of options - Search, Explore, Access Rights and Family. The Family section has a number of links - to Family History Book, Anniversaries, and Tools.

While in my database, with Robert Seaver (1608-1683) on my screen, I clicked on the Family History Book link and got this screen:

Pretty empty. The same thing happened when I tried several other persons in my database. There is nothing on the web page that says "This feature is included in the Club Privilege..." or similar (the subscription part of the site). I expected some sort of dialogue that asked how many generations, descendants or ancestors, include notes and sources, etc. Ah, I'll check the Help feature. Frequently Asked Questions seemed to be the only place to find information, and the FAQs had a link for Family History Book. I clicked on that and there was one FAQ - "I can't modify my Family History Book even if I'm logged in as 'wizard.'" The response was "This bug will be soon fixed. To solve it immediately, please add the term ';v=0' in the link of the page." I tried that but it didn't work. I'm disappointed that there isn't more information to help me.

OK, perhaps they're still working on this feature, although being a Wizard seems to be a requirement. What's a Wizard? On the Family History Book page there is a link for Wizard Access, so I clicked on that, and used my username and password to login, and received an Update box to fill in. Apparently, I am a Wizard, but it still doesn't show me a Book.

Let's move on. Anniversaries are listed on the left margin of the screen - I clicked on Births and this screen appeared:

Hmmm. I have over 21,000 persons in my database and none had birthdays on this day, or the next two days. What are the odds of that? And there's no way to specify a date or a month, which is what I really want with a tool like this. I made the screen above the other day, so I checked it again today and it gave me two birthdays for living people, so the Births list only applies to living persons, not deceased persons. Again, there is no helpful information here to tell the befuddled user why there is no birthday information.

There is a box for the user to input a month, and the result is a list of living persons (or persons without a death date) born in that month. That is a useful list, but the link is misleading - it should say "Births of living persons."

Marriages is the next item on the left part of the screen, and the screen below appeared:

This is more like it - it took just two seconds to create this list of marriages that occurred in the past on the current day and the next two days. There is a box at the bottom of the page to select a month and obtain this list for the whole month requested. I like the list!

Deaths is the next item on the Anniversaries list, so I clicked that and received this screen:

This took just two seconds, and the list shows deaths, and births, for the current day, plus the next two days. It appears that this list is only for persons who are deceased, not living persons (since my cousin's birth wasn't on the list). There is a box at the bottom of the page to select a month and obtain this list for the whole month requested. My preference would be to separate the list into Births and Deaths also.

The next post in this series will look at the Tools on the left hand part of the screen - the Statistics and the Calendar Converter.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Annie Moore gets her memorial

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak has the information about the Annie Moore memorial in Cork, Ireland and in New York City in her post Annie Moore Gets Her Day in Cork and New York!. This memorial is a wonderful end to the "genealogy feel-good story" of the century, as far as I'm concerned.

Who was Annie Moore? The press release notes:

"On January 1, 1892, Annie Moore, a teenage girl from County Cork, Ireland, made headlines as the first immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island. Her image will forever represent the millions who passed through Ellis Island in pursuit of the American dream, and is a symbol for immigrants of all nations that have contributed to the rich fabric of the United States. On September 15, 2006 noted genealogists revealed the true identity and story of Annie and her descendants. At that time it was also discovered that Annie Moore's remains lie in an unmarked grave in Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York, along with five of her children. Led by descendant family members and supporters, the Annie Moore Memorial Project, established through the Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation of Phoenix, Arizona, was created to raise funds for a monument for her unmarked gravesite. Fully donor supported, funding for this special project has been realized through a national and international effort. "

Isn't history amazing? A teenage girl, picked out of a crowd by an immigration offical, becomes world famous for being the first person registered at Ellis Island. She lives a normal live - marrying, having a family, making the best she can of life, and dies before her time. 80 years later, a memorial is held in both Ireland and America to celebrate her life's achievement and to honor her memory, with her second, third and fourth generation descendants present. All because a curious genealogist questioned the "status quo" and made the effort to search for "the rest of the story." Bravo, Megan!

See more at, and watch the RootsTelevision videos of Megan's search at:

* Roots TV: "From Cork to New York: The Annie Moore Story"
* Roots TV: "In Search of Annie Moore"
* Roots TV: "Making up History: The Search for Annie Moore"

LiveRoots is online and has great potential

Illya D'Addezio has created another web site to help genealogy researchers find information in databases. Illya announced the formation of the web site in his blog post Live Roots Launched Today on the Illya D'Addezio's Blog. He describes LiveRoots this way:

"Live Roots is an information resource that assists you with locating genealogical data, regardless of where it may be stored. Genealogists use Live Roots to find vital records and original publications, share opinions about online repositories and learn more about tools available to simplify their research projects.

"The concept behind Live Roots was to build a single resource that bridges the gaps between independent genealogy web sites, large commercial ancestry repositories and many other printed family history materials yet to be digitized and published on the World Wide Web.

"Live Roots extends beyond the typical bounds of a traditional search engine or link directory by facilitating access to offline records and publications through partnerships with amateur and professional researchers who either own copies or are geographically closer to the libraries and archives that do."

That sounds, to me, very ambitious, but I think if anyone can make it work, Illya can because of his track record and online genealogy background.

Naturally, I had to check out what LiveRoots offers for me and my surnames:

I input SEAVER as the surname and received:

* 1 SEAVER Surname match (in the Genealogy Today collection)

* No Transcribed Ephemera

* 74 SEAVER Surname results and 1 SIEVER result in Subscription Data (all in Genealogy Today databases)

* 42 possible matches in Document Results (some of these are books available online or in print from,, Genealogical Publishing Company, Higginson Book Company, etc.) One match was my blog Genea-Musings.

You get the idea, I think. Live Roots has the potential to be a "one-stop shop" for researchers looking for information about a surname. But only if the site eventually incorporates nearly every genealogy database site available (think Footnote, FamilySearch, Rootsweb, USGenWeb, FindMyPast, Family Tree Legends, Ancestor Hunt, etc - any site with databases that are either free or subscription).

A second problem that I see with the surname search is the sheer volume of matches that will be available for a common surname. A SMITH search provides over 3,000 matches in the currently available databases on LiveRoots. The use can add a keyword - I used SMITH and WISCONSIN and received the same number of matches, so a keyword probably doesn't work yet.

I think that has excellent potential. Its' ultimate success as a web site rests on its ability to search a multitude of genealogy web sites with useful data and be able to add localities or given names to reduce the search results.

UPDATED 11 a.m.: Illya commented that the major collections indexed so far are in an index here. The current major collections include:

AfriGeneas ($) - daily updates
Christine's Genealogy Website
Family History Library (partial)
Family Tree Connection ($) - weekly updates ($) - weekly updates
Genealogical Publishing Company ($) - monthly updates ($) (in progress)
National Archives And Records Administration
New England Historic Genealogical Society
Olive Tree Genealogy ($) - daily updates

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Is This My New Computer Genealogy Filing System? - Post 2

In my first post on this subject, I provided a look at my current computer filing system for my genealogy data, and mentioned several alternative systems that I've looked at recently. Wendy, Colleen, Geoff and Ben commented - and I appreciate their taking the time to do so.

Ben's comment that "...I've found it useful to consider the ways I might look for the item in the future. After all, that is what it's all about. How do you want to be able to retrieve the data? That ought to inform your decision regarding how to store it." really defined the problem well, I thought.

I've spent two evenings trying things out and thinking things through - even to the point of copying reports, images and correspondence into file folders just to see if what I was doing was going to work. I think it will.

My goal is to put as much information about each family and place they lived that I research in a separate, identifiable file folder. The logical way to this is by Surname and by family and locality within the Surname folder.

Here's what I've decided so far:

* Genealogy> [all genealogy in this folder]
** Client-Colleague Research -- all files for clients and colleagues, sorted by client/colleague name
** Education -- books, magazines, articles, tutorials, etc.
** Forms -- masters of forms
** Randy's Family History Research -- all material relating to my own family history research (my own, my wife's, my sons-in-law, etc.)
** Societies -- files for different genealogy societies
** Software -- files for different genealogy software
** Talks -- presentation and handout files for my society talks
** Websites - information about specific genealogy websites

This list looks similar to my current list, except I've eliminated the Correspondence, Locality, Reports and Surnames folders and will incorporate that information into the Client-Colleague Research and Randy's Family History Research folders.

In the Randy's Family History Research folder, I have broken the research down into:

** Randy's Family History Research>
*** Carringer-Auble Families (my mother's lines)
*** Seaver-Richmond Families (my father's lines)
*** Leland-Schaffner Families (my wife's lines)
*** etc. (my sons-in-law families)

Within each of these major groupings:

* Genealogy>
** Randy's Family History Research>
*** Seaver-Richmond Families>
**** Books and Reports - books, reports and newsletters that I've generated
**** Genealogy Databases - my databases for FTM, Legacy, etc.
**** Localities - information by country, state, county for each locality. I chose this because there are usually several families in a given locality.
**** Master Lists - A master source list, a repository list, a to-do list, a list of resources by surname, etc.
**** Surnames

The key folder here is Surnames - in the Surnames folder I am putting only surnames, e.g.:

**** Surnames>
***** Auble-Able
***** Carringer
***** Hildreth
***** Seaver
***** Smith-MA-Norfolk County
***** Smith-NY-Wis-Neb

etc. I've created over 30 surname folders already, and will have several hundred (which is why I want to break them up into family groups!). When surnames are duplicated, I'll put the state(s) and counties (in necessary).

Within each specific Surname folder, I will have each known ancestral family (for example):

***** Carringer>
****** 01-Lyle L Carringer and Emily K Auble
****** 02-Henry Austin Carringer and Della Smith
****** 03-David J Carringer and Rebecca Spangler
****** 04-Henry Carringer and Sarah Feather
****** 05-Martin Carringer and Magdalena Houx
****** 06-Earlier Carringers - information on earlier families with the surname
****** Correspondence - letters, emails, etc. form other researchers
****** Other Carringer Families - not my line but maybe helpful to others
****** Research Logs -- specifically for the surname - including sources searched and found something or nothing.
****** Surname Genealogy Reports

I numbered the generations of my ancestral families so that I can find information about them easily. I chose full names rather than Carringer-Auble or LLC-EKA for clarity.

One more sub-folder set - for each family in the list (for example):

***** Carringer>
****** 01-lyle l carringer and emily k auble>
******* Documents -- vital records, census, military, immigration, land, probate, obituaries, Bibles, etc. - all documents pertaining to this family.
******* Genealogy Reports -- family group sheet, descendants chart, pedigree chart, etc.
******* Photographs -- all photographs pertaining to this family
******* Published Material -- book or periodical pages pertaining to this family

There is bound to be some overlap, especially for documents, photographs, and published material, but hard drive space is relatively cheap.

I think that this will work out well in the long run. It will take some time to move all of the documents, photographs, reports, books, etc. around, but I can do it as I find time [hmmm, time is always a problem, note to self - take a day and get it done!].

The big question I have now is "where do I put my One-Name Studies for Seaver, Dill, Buck, Richmond, Vaux, Carringer, Auble, etc. " I could put them in the specific Surname folder and create families under Other Surname Families so that they are included in the surname, but I may want to break them out into their own folder. I haven't decided yet.

I think it will work better for me, especially as I scan more documents and published pages. The beauty of computer files is that you can always modify them to make the system work better. The problem is that modifying the sub-folder names for hundreds of surnames may be a time challenge. That's why defining the structure now will save time in the future.

What do you think? Will this work? What have I missed? What would you add for yourself? Is it too complicated? Help me out here!

Using - Post 2

I started this thread earlier this week, introducing as a social netowrk and family tree web site with over 200 million names in their databases in the post Using - Post 1.

At the end of the first post, I had decided to look at entries in my own family tree submitted to GeneaNet. In this post, I want to check out how GeneaNet resents the family tree I submitted.

Here is the screen after I selected one of the Search matches for "Seaver" - I picked my own tree:

When I clicked on the link to "Seaver," I figured that it would take me to the specific person in my tree that I had clicked on in the Search results screen (in Post 1). I was wrong - it took me to the Seaver family tree data that I had in my database. The Search in the database links only to Surnames, not to a specific person with that surname.

The next screen is the top of a Descendants Chart of the Seaver family members in my database:

The Descendants Chart provides names, spouses, birth-death years of each person with the surname in the database. The program picked the earliest ancestor for the top spot in the chart. Note that on this chart that there is a link at the top of the page for an alphabetical list of persons with this surname. That link could be used to go to a specific person with the surname.

I decided to click on Isaac Seaver 1823-1901 to see what information is included for a specific person. The resulting screen is shown below:

For a specific person, the screen above shows the person's information (birth, baptism, death and burial), the parents, the spouses and children, the siblings, and then notes for the person. The next screen shows the continuation of the above screen:

All the way down at the bottom of this web page is a five generation pedigree chart for the selected person, as shown below:

In order to generate some of this material, the user has to go into the My Account>Online Family Tree>Customize page and decide on the format for the web page presentation. To some extent, what can be shown is user-selected. For instance, I chose a plain white background for the information above rather than a sepia-colored document background. I chose to add the pedigree chart to the selected person's page.

One thing I've noticed is that persons born in the last 100 years or so have their years of birth obscured. for instance, my information and that of my parents and siblings, and our spouses and descendants, have our years of birth and marriage obscured, but not our names. I appreciate that for identity reasons.

In the next post, I will explore some of the report options available in

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

SDGS Meeting on Saturday, 11 October - Discovering Genealogical Treasures

The next meeting of the San Diego Genealogical Society is Saturday, 11 Ocxtober at 12 noon at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church (8350 Lake Murray Blvd., San Diego, at Jackson Drive).

The program speaker will be Michael Kratzer on Discovering Genealogical Treasures in Attics, Yard Sales, Swap Meets and Internet Auctions.

The program description:

"Family history and genealogical research can be so much more than a collection of names, dates, and family group sheets. After compiling all those birth notices, marriage announcements, death certificates, and obituaries, then what? Come and learn how to discover the hidden Genealogical Treasures waiting to be found in the most unexpected places. New and used books, photos, family business advertisements, ancestral heirlooms, artifacts, and memorabilia can enhance and enrich your enjoyment of your own personal family history library and archives. This topic goes beyond the usual 'primary' and 'secondary' sources and will enable you to better piece together the true story of your ancestors. This topic is for all researchers and shouldn't be missed!"

About the speaker:

Our speaker, Michael Kratzer, has been adding to his personal family history archives for over 15 years. A graduate of Orange Coast College and a certificate holder from the University of California at Irvine, he has held managerial positions in Southern California based manufacturing enterprises, primarily in the Metal Finishing trade. He lives in Costa Mesa with his wife Brenda, and volunteers his time assisting other family researchers at the Huntington Beach Family History Center."

This is a program different from most genealogy society programs, but it will touch on unique places to search for those ephemeral artifacts and papers that might solve your genealogy brick wall problem - or somebody else's.

CVGS Research Group Summary - 8 October 2008

We had ten genealogy researchers at the monthly CVGS Research Group today, and everybody shared their activities over the past month and what they hope to accomplish in the next month. Randy discussed the newspaper article about the putative President of America and the Genealogy News of the Month before we went around the table.

* Dave took Randy's advice from last month - and put aside his Lehr family search frustrations to work on his paternal grandparent's ancestry. He created a short report for his grandfather's family, identifying 21 people in a 1928 family photograph. He did it for his paternal grandmother's family too - a photograph with the people clearly identified.

* Dick bought Family Tree Maker 2009 from Ancestry, and when he installed it he lost his FTM 16 icon and gained over 100 desktop icons. His wife finally found his FTM 16 database so he can start working in FTM 2009. He received a Final Payment work Sheet from NPRC for his aunt the WAC in World War II.

* Phyllis has been stuck on her Crowley brick wall. The group suggested that she research another family so that she can make progress on her research.

* Shirley B. received a lead on her great-grandmother's maiden name, and will research it. She is waiting for DNA results from ancestry for her Wright cousin in Texas. Back in 1999, a cousin sent over 100 pages of Siver/Sypher information that she rediscovered in her re-organization efforts. Recently, she received several wills and deeds from another cousin that she is going to transcribe.

* Virginia swabbed her cheek and sent her mitochondrial DNA sample to Ancestry. She also received information from a contact after correcting her mother's 1930 census entry.

* Art had an "oh boy" experience - he discovered ten generations of ancestors in his family lines on Ancestry in the Drouin Collection (Quebec church records). He is capturing both the Ancestry summary and the handwritten record image. He's having a great time reading the French entries, and looks forward to many more family lines to find.

* Shirley H. is helping a friend in Tennessee find records for her birth parents. They know the parents names, but the records are inconsistent. An RAOGK volunteer found a cemetery record for the father and is looking for newspaper records. They have her birth record, her father's SS5 and military enlistment and discharge records, but not a marriage record or census records.

* Dearl is having a good time learning his way around his new computer and Windows Vista, and is trying to find his genealogy data salvaged by the Geek Squad. He will load his FTM soon and start working in that.

* John received a birth record from the English civil Registry after sending away for it to an agent. He's ordering two marriage records now. While recovering from his operation, he signed up for's pay-per-view service and has found some English census images for his grandkids English ancestry.

* Randy shared the newspaper article about his mother's baby shower, his GeneTree mitochondrial DNA results, and progress on his Project M research for his friend - he received an SS5 application and wrote letters to Ed's siblings asking for information about Ed's father.

We even took a picture of the group for the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog page! The Genea-blogger Gnome was there too.

Family Photographs - Post 26: The Kids

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 own family collection:

This photograph was taken in 1977 in our current living room - notice the 1970's-style shag carpet and wood paneling? We just changed it all last year!

This is a picture of yours truly on his knees (note that there is no beard, and I had some hair!) with two darling little girls on his back totally enjoying a rather rocky piggyback ride. Lori is age 3 and Tami is about age 1 in this picture. Look at the hat that Lori is wearing - I should have submitted this to the Crowning Glory carnival! Angel Linda is sitting in the chair in the background. I wonder who took this picture - I have no clue!

And a bonus, since we are up to the next generation in our family history. We recently had all four grandchildren at our house, in our family room (now with "Oatcake" colored walls and wood floors) and managed to take a decent picture of all of them:

They are all hams, aren't they? When you say "smile," Lolo makes a kissy-face, Logan laughs and Lucas grins widely. How did baby Audrey get suspended on top of a box? Well, her mom is hiding behind the kids and the box - you can see her hand. This is my current background picture on my desktop computer screen.

Every time I see these pictures, and many others of our kids and their kids, it brings a big smile to my face, my heart gets really full, and I thank God for my great fortune for giving us two loving daughters and four beautiful grandchildren.

Beware of this "dream" genealogy client!

My email this morning included an email from someone I don't know, and which is a SCAM similar to other banking scams. It has a genealogy twist to it - someone has intentionally targeted me because I have the same last name:

The email, titled "I NEED YOUR ASSISTANCE PLEASE ... Randy Seaver," started:

"I am Richardson, an attorney at law. A deceased client of mine, by name Mr James Seaver, who shall be referred to as my client, died as the result of a heart-related condition on the 11th November, 2004. His heart condition was due to the death of all the members of his family in the Gulf Air Flight Crashes in Persian Gulf Near Bahrain Aired August 23, 2000 - 2:50 p.m. ET as reported on:

"I have contacted you to assist in distributing the money left behind by my client which the bank wanted to confiscate, where this deposit valued at 7.3 million dollars is lodged. This bank has issued me a notice to contact the next of kin before i could lodge the money into security company, or the account will be confiscated. My proposition to you is to seek your consent to present you as the next-of-kin and beneficiary of my named client, since you have the same last name, so that the proceeds of this account can be paid to you from the security company. Then we can share the amount on a mutually agreed-upon percentage i will take 60% while you take 40%. All legal documents to back up your claim as my client's next-of-kin will be provided.

"All I require is your honest cooperation to enable us see this transaction through. This will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from many breach of the law. If this business proposition offends your moral values, do accept my apology. I must use this opportunity to implore you to exercise the utmost indulgence to keep this matter extraordinary confidential, whatever your decision, while I await your prompt response.

"Please contact me at once to indicate your interest. I will like you to acknowledge the receipt of this e-mail as soon as possible, this transaction will be treated private with absolute confidentiality and sincerity. I look forward to your quick reply. Come to malaysia to witness every thing if you are not bussy but if you are busssy we can do it online with the bank, or contact me immediately i can still give you detail and prove of the statement of his account as it was deposited in the Bank and also his death certificate, please it will not cost you any thing is just for you to comply and help for this money to transfer into your account in your country."


The CNN article is real, but no mention is made of a Seaver. There is a Beaver mentioned, but not a Seaver.

Other than the spelling and grammar errors, it appears that "Richardson" is asking me to commit fraud. I have half a mind to respond to this asking for a copy of the death certificate so that I can find the real heir from my vast wealth of Seaver surname information.

But then I realized that this is a pure scam intended for me to put my own money in a bank and this guy will suck my bank account dry faster than I can say Lake CHARGOGGAGOGGMANCHAUGGAGOGGCHAUBUNAGUNGAMAUGG.

Anybody else receive an email like this? forewarned is forearmed!

King Paul I of America makes the news

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak wrote an article in Ancestry Magazine in September issue about The Man (or Woman) Who Would Be King of America - I commented on it in Is it King Frank II, Queen Brynda or King Paul I?

Now Ancestry issued a press release yesterday with an article titled Reveals Who Would be King of America and Candidate Roots as Presidential Election Approaches. It appeared essentially verbatim in newspapers around the country.

The beauty of articles like this is that they provide an entree for researchers to talk about their addic..., er, passion for genealogy and family history. I fully expect several people to bring the article to the CVGS meeting today and for people at church to give me copies of it on Sunday and ask if I read it. Of course, I will ask them if they have researched their ancestry - perhaps they are related to Barack Obama or Sarah Palin like I am, or perhaps to George Washington or John McCain. They will tell absolutely unique family stories, and each one fascinates me.

This addic..., er, passion that I, and most of my readers and colleagues, have is full of surprises and rewards and disappointments. We find stories that inspire us, and a few that repulse us, as we find that most of our ancestors were people who lived typical lives in their time, but some were exceptional, whether they were kings or horse thieves.

Here's one to chew on: If Robert Seaver, who came to Roxbury in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634 as a 26 year-old man, had proclaimed himself King of Massachusetts Bay Colony somehow, and the line was never overthrown, that I would be King of Something today, since I am the agnatic primogeniture descendant of this Seaver line - the oldest surviving son, that had male offspring, through 11 generations. Megan's article explains all of this, of course, but the Ancestry press release doesn't.

Does anybody else know that they are the agnatic primogeniture descendant - the oldest surviving son of the oldest surviving son, etc. back to colonial times?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Update on contacting a living relative

I posted almost a month ago I need advice - the best way to contact a living relative. The twist to the post was that they are not my relatives, but a friend's relatives. My friend, Ed, asked me to find information about his father in what I've named Project M in order to keep the identities of the players hidden.

I had many responses giving great advice - about half said to phone, about half said to write a letter, and DearMYRTLE said to let Ed do it - it's not my job. I really appreciate and value everybody's advice. So I asked Ed - do you want to make a phone call, or write a letter? I asked him to think about how he would feel if they were calling or writing him. He said that we should write a letter to all three of them and ask them to contact us by phone or email. He asked me to write the letter because I could do it easier and better than he could. So I did.

In the letter, I told the three half-siblings that I was Ed's friend, that he only wanted information about his father's life, and that I had found them from newspaper obituaries for their sister and mother that identified them by name, and then using the online public telephone sources at to get their addresses. I listed Ed's and my names, phone numbers and email addresses. We'll see what happens now - they should get the letters late this week.

I fully understand DearMYRTLE's argument that writing and sending the letters wasn't my job, that it was my client's job. However, Ed is also a friend, and not able to do some things that he used to be able to do, so in the interest of "finding information about his father," I wrote the letters with his approval.

On the Project M research front, I received the SS5 application for Ed's father - he signed up in 1936, and it verifies his father's name, but the surname of his mother is given as C****, which is the surname of her second husband (both living at the time of the SS5), not Ed's grandfather. Argggh. Unless, C**** is really her maiden surname and she married another C****! I should check.

I've found quite a bit more information from the census and other online records about Ed's ancestry, and have added it to his family tree. He was genea-smacked to see how much I've found out about his ancestry. But he really wants to know about his father.

Stay tuned!

Using - Post 1

I am still looking for my "ideal" family tree and social networking site - I spelled out what I would like to have in Family Trees and social Networks out the wazoo (?). In Comments to that post, Jean-Yves Baxter said "Genea-Net offers all of those features and much more."

I had registered for free and uploaded a GEDCOM to GeneaNet some time ago, thinking that I would test it out. So - in this series I'm going to see if Jean-Yves' claim is correct, and if this site satisfies my research needs.

Here is the welcome screen for for a registered user:

On the left-hand side, there is My Account options, Archives and Services. We'll explore some of those later. The Search box for surnames and localities is front and center. There are icons for different languages in the upper right-hand corner - the options are English, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Dutch.

GeneaNet has many free research opportunities, and some paid ("Club Privilege") research opportunities. The cost is 40 Euros for a one year and 75 Euros for a two year subscription. The menu of Club Privilege benefits is below:

I'm going to stick to the free side for now, even though I can't search by first name, by spouses, by alternate spelling, or use filters, see maps, or print reports and charts, among other features.

I'm most interested in the Search features. The Search box claims that there are over 233 million names in their databases. I plugged "Seaver" into the Search box on the home page, and received 725 matches, listed 20 to a screen, as shown below:

The list has the user/contributor name on the left, the surname, some years, a locality (place, county, region, country), and a symbol (the green family tree, there may be others).

I scrolled down and clicked on the link for one of my entries (I'm user rjseaver). The screen below appeared, and shows a link to my family tree. There is also a "most popular surnames" cloud on this page.

In the next post, I'll look at search results in my own database.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Is This My New Computer Genealogy File System? - Post 1

I have been saving computer files on my computer for over 25 years now, and what a mess it is! Every once in awhile I "re-organize" and (hopefully) "improve it." However, I'm still dissatisfied. I have a hard time finding a specific document, correspondence, web page, photograph, report, etc.

I would like to have as much of my genealogy documents (images, reports, web pages, emails, etc.) organized on my computer as possible, and backed up to an external drive and an outside site. My goal is to eliminate about 50% or more of the paper files in notebooks (which I rarely consult) - most of them are photocopies from books or periodicals, or computer printouts.

Currently, my computer File Folder heirarchy, as it pertains to Genealogy, looks like this (reduced for clarity) in My Documents on my hard drive::

* genealogy - has these file folders in it:
** correspondence - letters and email - all surnames and localities, a hodge-podge.
** databases -- Family Tree Maker files and GEDCOMs
** education -- file folders for books, articles, magazines, chats, newspapers, etc.
** forms -- form masters
** funnies -- humor collection - mostly old stuff
** localities -- file folders by country and/or state
** randys ancestry -- file folders for seaver data, carringer data, leland data, kemp data, richmond data, census, newspaper, research problems, elusive ancestors, interviews, journal, lists, pedigrees, revwar, sources, reports, etc.
** research reports -- file folders for client/colleague files by name
** societies -- file folders for CVGS, SDGS, CGSSD, NGS, NEHGS, etc.
** software -- file folders for FTM 2005, FTM 2008, Legacy 7, RootsMagic 3, TMG 7, PAF 5, MyHeritage, FamilyBuilder, FamilyTreeLegends, Gensmarts, etc.
** surnames -- hundreds of surname file folders with stuff in them
** talks -- presentations and handouts in MSWord or PowerPoint format, filed in folders by title, date and society
** websites -- screen images and Powerpoint files from genealogy web sites, filed in folders by web site name.

I've been working with this "organization" for several years now and am ready to try something else, at least in the Surname and Randy's Ancestry areas.

But what to try? I toyed with the idea of making "family files" for each couple in my ancestry, ordered by ahnentafel number. I made folders within each family for each record type. After populating some of them with data from the current files, I decided that method was too cumbersome. I would have to search for the couple every time I had something to file for them. I abandoned the idea.

I read Leland Meitzler's handout for the 2008 SCGS Jamboree and thought that it sounded like an organized method, but I didn't like his use of initials for the couple (e.g. FSBC would stand for Fred Seaver-Betty Carringer) in a given surname file.

I watched Ben Sayer's Creating a Genealogy File System on Your Mac videos on the MacGenealogist site and liked the simple concepts but not the specific application (last name, first name, years).

[RANT ON] I searched in the maddeningly slow Ancestry Learning Center for "Computer Data Organization" articles and never found one I liked, out of the 62 offered. It took almost 30 minutes to check all 7 pages of titles and about 8 articles. The "new" Ancestry has too many gadgets and Javas and Flashes going all the time - it takes 30 to 45 seconds to load the damn page - and all I want is a friggin' text article. [RANT OFF] Ummm, sorry, where's my meds?

If you have a really neat computer data management idea, please let me know. Give me some URLs to read and I'll be a happy camper. I'll probably download it to my education file folder (now where do I have that?).

Who are my German-born Ancestors?

Jessica Oswalt on the Jessica's GeneJournal blog says that Monday, 6 October, is German-American Day, so I thought I would list my German-born (well, those born where present-day Germany exists) ancestors:

* CARRINGER - I believe that Martin Carringer (1758-1835) was born in Pennsylvania, but I am sure that his parents were German-born.

* DINKEL -- Dorothea Dinkel (1748 Germany - 1835 PA) was the daughter of Johann Daniel and Maria Ursula (von Ernest) Dunckel/Dinkel and the wife of Rudolf spengler (1738 PA - 1811 PA).

* SPENGLER - Johann Balthazar Spengler (1706 Weyler, Hilksbach, Rhine - 1765 PA), son of Hans Rudolf and Marie (Saeger) Spengler.

* RITTER - Magdalena Ritter (1706 Germany - 1784 PA), wife of Johann Balthazar Spengler.

* DUNCKEL - Johann Daniel Dunckel (???? Germany-1755 PA).

* VON ERNEST - Maria Ursula Von Ernest (1713 Colmar, Alsace - 1793 PA), married Johann Daniel Dunckel.

* KING - Philip Jacob King (1738 Germany-1792 PA), son of Nicholas and Margaret (--?--) King, married to Maria Barbara Wilhelm.

* SPENGLER - Hans Rudolf Spengler (???? Germany - ????), married to Marie Saeger.

* KING - Nicholas King (???? Germany - 1776 PA), married to Margaret --?-- (????-1771 PA).

*ABLE - Michael Able (1719 Germany - 1791 NJ), son of Andreas and Maria (--?--) Able, married to Christina --?-- (????-1804 NJ).

* ABLE -- Andreas Able (???? Germany - 1751 NJ), married to Maria --?-- (????-1771 NJ).

* TRIMMER -- Johannes Trimmer (???? Feldkirchen, Palatinate-1749 NJ).

* NACHBAR -- Johann Leonhard Nachbar (1700 Hinzweiler, Palatinate), son of Thomas and Elisabetha Margaretha (--?--) Nachbar. Married to Maria Margaretha --?--,(1698 Germany - 1770 NJ)

* ZAVERING -- Frederick Zavering/Sovereign (1715 Germany-1805 Ontario), married Ann Waldruff (1738 Germany-1768 NJ).

* PICKEL/BICKEL - Johan Balthasar Pickel (1687 Hartenburg, ??- 1765 NJ), married Anna Gertrude Teiterin (1684 Germany - 1761 NJ).

* REIFFENBURG - Johann Georg Reiffenburg (Flammersbach, Germany - ???? NY?) married Maria Elisabetha Deiken.

* KELLER - Christian Keller (???? Germany? - 1710 NY), married to Anna Margaretha.

* PROPER - Johann Just Proper (1679 Germany? - ???? NY), married to Anna Elisabetha.

There are several other family names that are probably of German origin - FEATHER/FETTER, ROW/RAU, HOUX/HOKES/HOUKS, etc. I have not been able to connect them to a German-born immigrant.

As you can see, all of my German immigrants are from the 17th and 18th centuries - the last German-born immigrant may have been around 1750.

I have not done any research on these families of my own - I have found, reviewed and used research on most of these families obtained from published books and other researchers. Considering that ALL of my ancestry - both my father's side and my mother's side - immigrated to New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, I think it's amazing that I don't have any more recent German-born ancestors. Frankly, I feel cheated!

If you have more information on any of these German-born immigrants to America, I would love to hear from you.

Using GeneTree as a Social Network

I posted last week about my mitochondrial DNA results obtained from and I wanted to show what the social network side of the web site looks like.

Any user of GeneTree needs to be registered for free - the login screen looks like this:

After logging in, the user can add a Profile - a description and a picture, as I did below:

The user can set Preferences for their Profile and Notifications. The different privacy categories are Family, Friends, DNA and Public. The user can control access to ten items. I chose to make my Description and Picture, Family Tree, and Display Name public, as shown below:

The Tree tab at the top of the web page displays your family tree. When I registered, I uploaded a GEDCOM file. I am showing the default colors - blue for males, pink for females. My uploaded tree has 644 persons in it, and it took a long time to load (about 30 seconds for the first persons to appear, over 2 minutes for all 644 to be added). The family tree screen is shown below:

There are links for each person on the tree for Tree, Edit, and More. If you click on Tree, the selected person becomes the person at the top left of the field. If the user clicks on Edit, the user can edit the information for the specific person - the name, birth date/place, death date/place and gender. The More link permits the user to Edit Person, View Profile and View Tree. The Edit Person screen looks like:

The information for a Person s very limited as far as I can tell - just name, gender, birth date/place and death date/place. There appears to be no marriage information available and no other Facts or Notes typically found in genealogy software.

This web site appears to use Family Tree Builder for the Tree application. I don't know enough about Family Tree Builder to comment on it beyond this at the moment.

The user can invite family and friends by email to view the Tree, the Media, the DNA results, etc.

I don't see any way to Add persons to the Tree. I tried the Add to Tree link on the My Action Links on the web pages, and it just took me to the existing Tree with no apparent option to add somebody.

I don't see any way to delete the Tree once it's been uploaded.

In summary, GeneTree is a combination DNA Match and Social Network site. I like the concept, even though the Tree aspect is limited.

I'm still waiting to hear from the two persons with Exact Matches to my mtDNA that I sent a message to through GeneTree. I wonder if I'll ever hear from them?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Best of the Genea-Blogs - September 28 - October 4, 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:

* Tuesday Tales - Some Final Thoughts From Home by Mary Mettler on the California Genealogical Society and Library blog. Mary wraps up her months of genealogical travels by summarizing her experiences, and provides a complete list of her weekly sagas. Articles like these would be great for every society newsletter and blog, wouldn't they?

* Correcting Mistakes by Pat Richley on the DearMYRTLE Genealogy Blog. Pat discusses mistakes made in published genealogies and online databases, with a side trip through coincidence-ville to entertain us. The operative phrase is "A compiled genealogy is never done, as additional information will most assuredly come to light." Isn't that the truth? And it's usually right after I've published something about my family lines!

* The Value of an Ox by Bill West on the West in New England blog. Bill's post discusses an incident that happened to his ancestor in 1845 revealed in a 1905 newspaper, with a cautionary tale about an ox. Ox had tremendous value in colonial and pre-tractor times as a look at estate inventories will attest. I found it funny that this was written up in an Oxford County (ME) newspaper (and think about where the name Oxford came from too). [Yeah, I know this was Bill's entry in the Carnival of Genealogy, but I liked it!]

* Organizing Your Genealogy by Elyse Doerflinger on Elyse's Genealogy Blog. Elyse shares her methods of controlling and organizing her genealogy charts, papers, and pictures. Elyse is a college student with little room for her genealogy stuff, so she has this down pretty well.

* Part 1. ROUNDUP at HILL COUNTY: Getting to Know You: Overture, Act 1, Scenes 1 - 15; Part 2. ROUNDUP at HILL COUNTRY, Getting to Know You: Overture; Act 2, Scenes 16 - 30; and Part 3. ROUNDUP at HILL COUNTRY, Getting to Know You: Act 3, Scenes 31 - 42; Finale and Reprise by Terry Thornton on the Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi blog. Terry put together this meme of 50 genea-bloggers talking about themselves and their blogs. Be sure to listen to Terry singing the song, too (click on the post title on the blog)!

* 1968: A Personal Memoir - Part 1; 1968 - A Personal Memoir: Like in the Duke City; 1968 - A Personal Memoir: Van Buren Junior High School; 1968 - A Personal Memoir: Presidential Politics, all by Craig Manson on the Geneablogie blog. Craig remembers some interesting things from 40 years ago and shares them with us. Read the last one, especially - a great story! I'm real glad that Craig is back to blogging.

* Geneablogger Yearbook by Colleen on the Orations of OMcHodoy blog. Colleen collects the funny yearbook face posts of many genea-bloggers ( created at Yearbook Yourself) in one place for eternal reference. I'm thinking of rotating one of mine each week in the blog picture at the top right. Good stuff!

* By the Number: The Importance of Using Numbering Systems by Carolyn L. Barkley on the blog. This excellent article provides a great summary of six different numbering systems that all researchers should be aware of, and use, in their research.

* New London Notes by Tim Abbott on the Walking the Berkshires blog. Tim takes us with him to the New London CT area and visits a number of historic sites. I need to visit this area (my Kenyons were there for awhile) and Mystic Seaport too.

* How to share your family history with your family - Traditions by Janet Hovorka on The Chart Chick blog. Janet talks about family traditions - holidays, foods and activities - as part of her ongoing series of posts.

* A Salute to the Old-Timers! by Becky Wiseman on the kinnexions blog. Becky collects all of the genea-bloggers who have been at it for awhile and puts them all in one place - a wonderful blogroll!

* Little Women by Wendy Littrell on the All My Branches Genealogy blog. Wendy was thinking about her mitochondrial DNA line, and posted pictures of the most recent five in her matrilineal line, plus the names of two more.

* Coverleaf: Read magazines online by Schelly Talalay Dardashti on the Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog. Schelly finds a really useful online magazine aggregator - did you know that you could read so many magazines online?

* Tracing a Southern Pedigree by Arlene H. Eakle on the Arlene Eakle's Virginia Genealogy Blog. Arlene describes some of the features and pitfalls of researching Southern families - a must-read for those of us with northern research and biases.

Thank you to all genealogy bloggers for an interesting and informative week. Did you notice some new blogs on this list? I hope so!

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!