Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saturday Night Fun - Scavenger Hunt

Tonight (and any time you want to play) let's go on a Scavenger Hunt for ancestors of well-known genealogy bloggers.

For each person listed below, provide the name of the spouse of the person and the genea-blogger to whom they are related. Easy, eh?

1) Emma Priscilla Libby

2) Cerena Whipple

3) Elenor L. Vreeland

4) Abbie Ardell Smith

5) Daniel Derondo Delaney

6) Ophelia Elizabeth Nix

Please post the answers on your blog (if you have one), or in my comments (if you don't have a blog). That way it doesn't matter who was first, only that you played the game well.

A bonus question: Who in your ancestry has a very unique name? Tell us - amaze us with the creativity of your ancestors!

This is for fun, not work or intellectual challenge, although it might improve your Google search skills. Enjoy!

Searching for Mary's Parents - Post 1

I posted earlier this year about the elusive Mary Magdalena Hoax (ca 1768-1850), who married Martin Carringer before 1785, probably in Westmoreland County PA. That post provided almost everything I knew about Mary - except what I don't yet know, of course.

Ah - that's the key - find out what resources you don't know about and then try to find more information in those resources. I have started the process - in fact I started on the Wholly Genes genealogy cruise in early November with my one-on-one with Sandra Hewlett.

When I got home from the cruise on Wednesday 11/5, we had our monthly ProGen Group homework assignment - which was to create a Research Plan for one of your elusive ancestors. I chose the parents of Mary Magdalena (Hoax) Carringer, of course! In the plan, I gathered what I knew about her, a timeline for her life, the sources already reviewed and the results obtained, and listed questions to be answered. From that, I formulated a research strategy. I shared my Research Plan with my ProGen Group chat colleagues for our monthly chat on Thursday, 11/6.

On Saturday, 11/8, I went off to the Family History Center with my Research Plan in hand, a folder with microfilms to be ordered, and lots of hope in my heart. I scanned the FHC's card catalog, and noted that they had quite a few records from Westmoreland County PA - a German church record book (1772-1791), a Will Index book, and several years of the Old Westmoreland periodical. I had limited time on this day, since I had to present my Genealogy Web Sites You Can Use talk to SDGS at 12 noon, so I ordered the Westmoreland County land records Grantee and Grantor indexes for surnames G-L and left, hoping to get back to the FHC before Thanksgiving.

Of course, the phone call that the films had arrived came on Saturday 11/22, and my granddaughters were here, so I couldn't get to the FHC until today (they were closed all of Thanksgiving week).

The December homework assignment for the ProGen Group was to create a Locality Guide for a place at which I do research - so I chose, what else, Westmoreland County, PA, and specifically Hempfield township. The Guide contains a Historical outline, the available records and their locations (original, digital, etc), published sources, newspapers, useful web sites, maps and repositories. I used web resources and the LDS FHL catalog to help define the history, records, etc. I worked on the guide all of this week, and shared it with my colleagues for our ProGen chat on Thursday night.

Armed with my Research Plan and my Locality Guide, I sprinted off to the Family History Center this morning. My two microfilms of the deed indexes were sitting in the S drawer (very lonesome - not many people are ordering films these days), and I spent an hour on the Microfilm Scanner machine capturing images of the Grantee and Grantor Indexes for names like Haag, Haak, Hack, Haack, Hauck, Hawk, Hoke, Hokes, Hook, Hoock, Houck, Houk, etc. I will explain the Deed Index in a separate post later - it took me a while to figure it out. I was really disappointed that there weren't more early deeds recorded - by early, I mean before 1800.

Then it was back to the Book shelves, and I extracted all of the mentions of the Haag...Houk and Carringer...Geringer names in the book, "The German Church Records of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 1772-1791" by Paul Miller Ruff, published 1979. These records provided child's name, birth and baptism dates, parents names and sponsor's names. That took awhile - it's a 178 page book with thousands of entries of birth and baptism dates. The book also has some background material for early Westmoreland County and the German churches in the county. I only checked Volume 1 of this work, up to 1791. I know that there are three more volumes but I haven't found those yet - I may have to order them on microfilm.

Finally, I checked the book "Index to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania Wills, 1773-1896" by Bob and Mary Closson, published 1986. There was only one early Haag...Houk will listed - George Hawk in 1799. I guess I will have to order the film for that one. I found a small booklet titled "History of Westmoreland County, History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania" by I.D. Rupp (a reprint of a part of an 1847 book) which had some very interesting and useful historical information in it, but not any biographies. Lastly, I spent some time going through the 1983 issues of Old Westmoreland, a quarterly periodical, looking for records for my Haag...Houk names. The early issues of this periodical has deed and will abstracts from the 1773 to 1800 time frame, so I may not have to order and search deed and will microfilms immediately.

That's the status of my current research project. While I've done a lot of preparation, and have started implementing my plan, I haven't found a whole lot of useful data yet.

It was a fun day - I may go back sometime next week to read more periodicals and order some microfilms. It feels good to be doing some real research - I just wish I had some real fruits from my labor.

California City Directories on added many City Directories from the 1880 to 1910 time frame to their collection recently - over 50 million names. Access to these records at home requires a subscription, or you can access them for free at a library with Ancestry Library Edition or an FHC with Ancestry Institution.

For California, the ones added included:

1. Fresno: 1897-1901

2. Los Angeles: 1873-1900

3. Oakland: 1879-1900

4. Sacramento: 1880-1901

5. San Diego: 1897-1901

6. San Francisco: 1879-1894

7. Santa Barbara: 1886-1888

8. Stockton: 1888-1896

There are City Directories for some of the intervening years, but not for all of them. These years provide some information about names, residence, employment but they cannot take the place of the missing 1890 United States Census.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Today is Sinterklaas!

The Feast of Saint Nicholas is the evening of 5 December. Here in the USA, we hear the term "Saint Nicholas" or "St. Nick" and we identify him with Santa Claus and Christmas.

In much of Europe, Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 5 or 6. Saint Nicholas and the various observations are described in the Wikipedia article here.
Henk van Kampen has posted an excellent description of the celebration of Sinterklaas in The Netherlands on his excellent Trace Your Dutch Roots blog. He says it is the number one tradition in The Netherlands.
This tradition seems so much more rational than giving gifts on Christmas, which should be a religious holiday for Christians and not the secular holiday that it has become in the USA.
The drawback is, of course, that St. Nicholas Day comes too soon after Thanksgiving, and would shorten the shopping season tremendously. That may not be all bad, of course!
What's the genealogy connection here? If you had Dutch and German ancestors (and probably others), then they probably celebrated Sinterklaas after they emigrated to America with traditions similar to those described in the linked articles. Wouldn't it be interesting to be a time traveler back to the times of our immigrant ancestors and "visit" them to observe their traditions?

123 Yourself

Do you have a web presence? Do other people with your name have a web presence? The web site permits the user to input a first name and a second name and see what the web presence is for people with the name combination.

I can't resist doing things like this, of course. I input "randy" and "seaver" in the Search box and the top of the results page looked like this:

It found:

* 32 web links
* 23 images (not all of a Randy Seaver)
* no videos (thank goodness)
* 10 social profiles (only LinkedIn?)
* 6 email addresses (including mine)
* 10 phone numbers (and addresses)
* 19 blogs
* 20 documents
* zero amazon results
* zero IMs
* zero news items

Ten people with "Randy" or "Randall" as a first name and "Seaver" as a last name, with addresses and phone numbers.

Here is the second part of the web page showing results:

The third part of the web page:

There is a Tag Cloud there that probably applies to all of the Randy Seavers with a web presence, but this Tag Cloud looks to be influenced by my own web presence.

This may be a very useful "people finder" that should be used by anybody searching for living people, e.g., the Unclaimed Persons group on Facebook.

Thanks to Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak for the lead on this site - she posted What's Online about You two weeks ago. She 123ed herself too.

I just figured out that Megan has changed her blog URL to I missed the announcement, I guess.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Josephine Shaw Lowell (1843-1905) - any relatives?

Susan, one of my CVGS colleagues, is involved in a DAR organization and received an email query from Irene. Susan asked me to "put it out" and see if anybody can connect to these people. Irene wrote:

"I was at a friend of a friend’s house yesterday. He had an antique store at one time and is now selling everything in his home. Among those things are a portrait of Josephine Shaw Lowell and several articles of furniture that were in their home.

"Since Charles [Russell] Lowell (January 2, 1835-October 20, 1864) was a general in the Union army and was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek I thought you might know of someone who would be interested in these items."

If someone knows something about these people, please contact me at and I can forward the email to Susan and Irene. I don't know where Irene is located, or where these antiques are located.

I looked for Charles R. Lowell (born 1835) in the 1850 and 1860 census on Ancestry, and a quick search did not identify him in a family or married to a Josephine Shaw. Likewise, I didn't find a Josephine Lowell in the 1870 census. There is one family tree on Rootsweb WorldConnect and Ancestry World Tree with Charles Russell and Josephine (Shaw) Lowell, but there is no further information there about Josephine. The Civil War indexes on Ancestry list a Charles Russell Lowell Jr, from Boston, was a Brigadier General in the 2nd Infantry Regiment raised from Watertown, MA.

A check on Google revealed a Wikipedia page about Charles Russell Lowell and Josephine Shaw Lowell. They apparently had a daughter, Carlotta Lowell.

Josephine Lowell (1843-1905) became well known in New York City society circles. She died 12 October 1905 in New York City, and her obituary in the New York Times dated 13 October 1905 identifies her daughter, Miss Carlotta Russell Lowell, and three sisters, Mrs. George William Curtis, Mrs. Francis C. Barlow and Mrs. Robert Minturn.

Carlotta Russell Lowell (1864-1924) apparently did not marry. She is living in New York City in the 1900, 1910 and 1920 census records. Her obituary was in the New York Times on 7 October 1924 here, and she is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Watertown MA.

Isn't it amazing what we can learn about some people using online resources in about 60 minutes of searching? Of course, not everyone marries a famous Civil War general, or is prominent in NYC society.

I'm sure that there is more information on the sisters families, and on this couple and their daughter also.

Any takers?

"New" cousins finding me

One of my major reasons for putting my genealogy research on a web site (currently at is so that cousins I don't know about can find me and hopefully contribute to my family history knowledge.

This has happened this year for me - a second cousin once removed named Laura found my web site, and then my blog, and contacted me via email back in late April. Since then, we have been sharing family information and family photographs. I look forward to meeting her and her family, and her parents too. Apparently, they lost touch with the Richmond relatives over time - which is a fairly common occurrence, unfortunately.

On my part, I sent Laura a genealogy report on her Richmond/White ancestors from my genealogy database, with notes and sources (such as they are). Then I started sending her copies of my Seaver-Richmond Family Journals (the yearly newsletter I send out to family members - they're on the list now!). I've also provided Richmond family pictures that I have in my collection.

Laura has provided information about her great-grandmother's family and quite a few pictures of her family line and of my aunts and uncle as children. She has been researching the ancestral families herself - which is great because it will, hopefully, confirm my own research, and probably add to it. Laura made contact with a Marshman researcher in Hilperton in Wiltshire, who is researching the Richman and Marshman families for her - again this may provide additional information about these ancestral families that I have not been able to find.

The web site is one thing, family tree and social networking sites are another. I decided several years ago that, since I have a relatively public face (meaning people can find me, contact me, etc. - it definitely comes with the blog), I would put my genealogy information on these sites. So far, I have genealogy data on:

* Private Member Tree (I should make this public, I guess)
* (a genealogy wiki)
* (a social networking site - I haven't invited anybody yet)

I think that's all of them. The only one that I've tried to upload to and failed was - it wouldn't take my GEDCOM file and we couldn't figure out why.

I get notices from GeneaNet, MyHeritage and WeRelate when there are matches to my data in other people's family trees. Occasionally, someone will contact me based on information found on the Ancestry Private Member Tree.

For me, this is the "really fun" part of genealogy. To be able to find a cousin, or have them find me, to be able to provide significant family history information to the cousin, and to have them do the same back to me. We are both "richer" for the connection - a real "win-win" in my book.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Naturalization Records web site (Canada and USA)

The web site is part of the Olive Tree Genealogy suite of genealogy and family history web sites owned and posted by Lorine McGinnis Schulze, who lives in Canada. She has specialized in records of Canada and the northeastern United States.

On her Naturalization Records site, she has information and data concerning:

* U.S.A. Naturalizations,
* Canada Naturalizations,
* Samples of Naturalization Records, Citizenship Records,
* American Naturalization Records,
* American Passport Applications,
* American Alien Registrations,
* American Almshouse Records,
* American Census Records,
* American City Directories,
* American Land Records,
* American Newspapers,
* American Voters Registrations,
* Naturalization Records on Books & CDs,
* Naturalization Records Site Map,
* Naturalization Records Mailing Lists,
* Canadian Passports,
* Canadian Census Records,
* Canadian Land Records,
* Canadian Oaths of Allegiance,
* Canadian Sessional Papers

Isn't that a great collection of links? What I really like about this site is the educational portion - the definitions and examples of these records.

The USA Naturalization link provides information about the Naturalization laws and process in the USA throughout history, while the American Naturalization Records link provides a state-by-state summary of the available online records. Most of the latter are on the commercial sites and

The Canadian Naturalization link provides information about the Naturalization laws and process in Canada throughout history, while the Canadian Naturalization Records link provides links to actual records, some of which are on commercial web sites.

Lorine puts a lot of work into all of her web sites. I really appreciate her efforts to educate researchers and to provide useful links to Canadian and USA records.

Family Photographs - Post 32: Mother and daughter

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 Carringer family collection:

This is a photograph, taken in about 1930, of my mother, Betty Virginia Carringer (1919-2002) and her mother, Emily Kemp (Auble) Carringer (1899-1977). Aren't they absolutely beautiful? I think so, but then I'm biased.
This photograph was in the Carringer/Smith photograph collection handed from Lyle and Emily Carringer to my mother Betty (Carringer) Seaver, and to me in about 1988.

The family that blogs together...

Have you visited Becky Jamison's genealogy blog, Grace and Glory, yet? It is beautiful, and the writing is good too. Becky also has the Gramma's House blog about her family life.

Have you visited Ernie Margheim's blog, Ernie's Journeys, yet? Ernie is age 88, and Becky's father. Ernie is blogging about his life memories.

Then there is Lisa Jamison's two blogs, Two Star-Crossed Lovers and Chasing Butterflies, which are personal life blogs. I think that Lisa is Becky's daughter, but I'm not sure.

Three generations of bloggers sharing their lives with readers. I think it's cool. Becky is helping Ernie with his postings, since he wrote a lot in emails over the years.

Wouldn't it be great if every family had the elders writing about their memories and experiences, the middle generations saving them for posterity and writing about their lives and family history work, and the younger generation writing their own experiences and reading the posts of their elders.

What a great example of a family sharing their lives with each other. Thank you, Lisa, Becky and Ernie, for sharing with all of us too.

I'm sure that there are other three, and perhaps even four, generation families of bloggers, but probably not with a genealogy or family history interest.

Do you have an elder with lots of stories in their memory bank? Have you asked him or her to tell you about them - either in writing or verbally, capturing it on paper, on audio or video? If they are Internet connected, could they write on a blog?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tombstone Tuesday - the Seaver/Hildreth Stone

The Seaver-Hildreth gravestone in Evergreen Cemetery in Leominster, Worcester County, Massachusetts is two-sided - one side is the Frank Seaver family side, and the other is the Edward Hildreth family side. These families lived in the same household at 149 Lancester Street in Leominster from 1874 until Sophia Hildreth died in 1923.

I took these pictures in May 2007 when I visited Leominster to mourn Geraldine (Seaver) Remley's passing. We stopped by each of the Seaver family stones in Evergreen Cemetery to reflect on the contributions of these ancestors to our lives.

On the east side of the stone are inscriptions for:

* Frank W. Seaver, 1853-1922.
* Hattie L. Seaver his wife 1858-1920
* Howard E. Seaver 1893-1900

On the west (Hildreth) side of the stone are inscriptions for:

* Edward Hildreth 1830-1899
* Sophia Hildreth his wife 1836-1923
* Clarence Hildreth 1874-1876

In the photo above, you can see one in-ground gravestone on the other side of the stone. There are two in-ground stones there - for Edward R. Seaver (1913-2004) and Janet R. Seaver (1913-2003). Edward R. Seaver was my father's brother, and Janet was Ed's wife.

Frank Walton and Harriet Louise (Hildreth) Seaver were my great-grandparents, parents of my grandfather, Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942). and Edward and Sophia (Newton) Hildreth were my great-great-grandparents, parents of Hattie (Hildreth) Seaver.

This Week's Advent Calendar of Genea-Musings Posts

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

Rather than waste bandwidth duplicating the posts every day (since nothing much has changed since last year), I'm just going to post them week-by-week, along with my little original doggerel for each day.

The first week of Advent posts include:

Day 24 - The Christmas Tree

On the 24th Day of Christmas,
I'm supposed to talk about the Christmas Tree.

Day 23 - Christmas Tree Ornaments

On the 23rd day of Christmas,
Christmas Tree Ornaments are the rage.

Day 22 - Holiday Foods

On the 22nd Day of Christmas,
My holiday thoughts turn to food.

Day 21 - Christmas Cards

On the 21st day of Christmas,
my true friends sent to me
a Christmas Card from their family.

Day 20 - Outdoor Decorations

On the 20th day of Christmas,
my neighbors gave me a treat,
they lighted up the whole darn street!

Day 19 - Santa Claus

On the 19th day of Christmas,
I have happy thoughts of
visiting and being Santa Claus.

Day 18 - Christmas Weather

On the 18th day of Christmas,
I want everybody to know
That it doesn't snow (much) in San Diego.

More next week! Enjoy.

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

NGS 2009 in Raleigh - Registration is now open

The National Genealogical Society Conference in the States, titled "The Building of a Nation, From Roanoke to the West," is being held in Raleigh, North Carolina from 13 May to 16 May 2009.
The Conference Registration information is on the Conference web page here. The Family History Conference program is listed here. The Program has tracks for BCG, Migration, Carolinas, GenTech, Working with Records, States, Ethnic, Methodology, NARA, Military, Workshops, Land, Libraries, Basics, etc.
There is an NGS Conference 2009 blog at with up-to-date information about the conference programs, activities, etc.
I've never been to an NGS Conference before, but I need to go to national conferences if I'm going to advance in genealogy research. What's the weather like in Raleigh in mid-May?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Photos from "Heirloom Discovery Day" Program at CVGS

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society had its "Heirloom Discovery Day" program on Wednesday, 26 November with Georgie Stillman, ASA, expertly appraising family heirlooms brought in by CVGS members.

I posted photographs of each presenter and their heirloom, with Georgie, on the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog in the post here.

Another Top Ten Genealogy Blogs list

The January 2009 issue of Internet Genealogy, which I downloaded today, has an article by Janice Nickerson on page 52 titled "Top Ten Genealogy blogs!"

Janice's list, in alphabetical order includes:

* 24/7 Ancestry Circle, by Juliana Smith, for (correct title is the 24/7 Family History Circle)

* Crowe's Nest Genealogy Blog, by Elizabeth Powell Crowe (now called Elizabeth Powell Crowe)

* Dear Myrtle's Genealogy Blog, by DearMyrtle, aka Pat Richley

* Family History Research: Methods and Writing in Genealogy, by Sharon Gayle

* Family Matters — Tech Support for the Family Historian, by Denise Olson

* Genealogy Blog — Everton Publishers (by Leland Meitzler, offline since early September 2008)

* Kimberly’s Genealogy Blog, by Kimberly Powell

* The Family Curator, by Denise L.

* The Practical Archivist, by Sally J.

* Tom’s Tips for Genealogists, by Tom Clough

It's nice to see genealogy blogs get some recognition in the magazines, including several blogs recently started by Libbi Crowe, Denise L. and Tom Clough.

Congratulations to all of the selectees - hopefully they will receive a blogalanche of new readers.

Are you reading all of the above blogs? If not, why don't you try them out?

SCGS Writing Contest Entries due by 31 December

The Southern California Genealogical Society has an annual writing contest with monetary prizes in two categories. The categories and entry rules are defined on the Writing Contest page. There are Frequently Asked Questions here that are useful to review.

Paula Hinkel of SCGS posted this on the APG Mailing List:

"The deadline for submitting entries to the 9th Annual GENEii Family History Writing Contest, sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society,is quickly approaching. Writers will have until December 31 to send in their submissions.

"SCGS founded this contest in 2000 to encourage genealogists to put the personal and "human" aspects of their research into writing, and to broaden their research to include the social context of their ancestors' lives. The contest is also meant to encourage genealogists to record their own first-hand information about their own generation, via memoirs, character sketches, and accounts of family and local history incidents-information that no future generation will be able to recover unless it is recorded by those who lived it.

"Earlier submissions to the contest resulted in the publication of a book of winning entries, "Celebrating Family History - An Anthology of Prize-WinningStories Sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society," edited and with an introduction by Beth Maltbie Uyehara and published by HeritageBooks 2005. Some of the 2007 entries can be found online at

"There is no fee for entry in this year's GENEii Family History WritingContest. Submission rules and FAQs can be found at

"Write, write write!"

This is a worthy endeavor for amateur and professional writers alike, including bloggers. But you have to follow the rules!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Family Holiday Traditions

The current questions for the next Carnival of Genealogy include:

What traditions were passed on to you from an earlier generation?

The only traditions that I can think of were that children were to believe in Santa Claus, a cut Christmas tree, lots of presents for the kids at Christmas, and family dinners on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

My parents were not religious, and my San Diego grandparents were not either. I never met my paternal grandfather and met my paternal grandmother only one, in 1958. So Christmas was pretty secular, although we did sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve with my grandmother leading.

My dad's cousin Dot and her husband Chuck lived in San Diego, and we always went over there for a meal before Christmas dressed up in a shirt and tie. I loved to look through their National Geographics for naked women, and tried to visit the upstairs bathroom which had naked women on the walls (Dot was an "artist" you see). My brothers and I never did like Dot's gourmet tastes. Her Christmas tree was homemade with decorated foam things rather than the traditional balls and garlands and lights.

On Christmas Eve, we would go over to my grandparents house on Point Loma because they had a fireplace (Santa Claus, you know). And it was a great place for my folks to store our gifts since we were pretty nosy. In the evening, they put us to bed in a back bedroom and my grandmother sat there with us singing Christmas carols with us - it's a great memory - I still get emotional remembering that.

Christmas Day was bedlam - with all the gift opening by the fireplace. We always had to go out and play with our toys on the street in the afternoon. Christmas 1954 was the best - we got Davy Crockett coonskin caps, Daisy air rifles. In 1955, we got Flexible Flyers (sleds with wheels and handlebars). In 1956, we got bicycles, and found out that there wasn't a Santa Claus (we discovered the bikes in the garage before Christmas). As I recall, my grandmother served the traditional turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, peas, pumpkin pie, etc. for Christmas Day dinner.

Do you keep those traditions? What tradition(s) will you or have you passed on to a younger generation?

When Linda and I had our family, we kept all of those traditions (well, not going to Dot's to see the naked women), and started some of our own. Linda was from San Francisco, so every other year we would fly to San Francisco on Christmas Day to visit her family. In the other years, Linda's parents would come down to visit us and sleep on our lumpy hide-a-bed in the spare room (they never once complained).

We were attending Chula Vista Presbyterian Church (we still do!) and they always had a Christmas Eve program which we rarely missed. Then the church started a "Living Christmas Tree" program that we took part in - Lori and Tami in the children's choir, and Tami was the Angel once, and I was always a "wise man" decked out in a turban, a long gown and carrying a gift to the Christ child.

One "new" tradition was started in the late 1970's I think - my father, my two brothers and I started a game of throwing peas into a water glass or wine glass after dinner but before dessert. We were, and still are, quite competitive. After Dad died, my brothers and I kept it going, even though my mother was horrified by our uncouthness. Rather than waste peas, we graduated to wadding up the paper napkins and tossing them - first one to 10 wins bragging rights for the year. When my girls were old enough, they played too (they're very competitive) and now their husbands play too, so it's evolved into a "tradition." After my mother died in 2002, we have called it the "Betty Seaver Memorial Wad Toss."

After my father died in 1983, we rotated the Christmas Eve or Day dinner among my mother, my brothers homes, and our home. Invariably, my one brother would get drunk (is that a tradition?). We always had a great time telling stories and watching the kids act up, er, play in the house - it usually ended up being a game of tag, or go outside and through the football around.

Since our daughters have married and have children, we usually go off to their homes for Christmas, and also visit Linda's brother up in Sonoma County. This is usually a 7 to 10 day driving trip. Last year was different - the girls came to Chula Vista with their families, and it was too much stress for all of us.

Do you think they will keep it up?

I think that they will keep the real traditional things - the tree, the gifts, the meal. They each married into different traditions, and are enjoying those also - centered on getting together with the families.

I am quite sure that the "Betty Seaver Memorial Wad Toss" will be a longtime family tradition - it is too much fun to do it!

Do you care if they do?

Of course - they are family traditions, right? I'm thinking of starting a new family tradition - perhaps a family history game, or a recitation of ancestors, etc. Or painting my bathroom wall with nudes... um, Linda says no.

Best of the Genea-blogs - November 23-29, 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:

* History/Genealogy Related Federal Government Jobs by Tim Agazio on the Genealogy Reviews Online blog. Need a job? Tim has found some openings with Uncle Sam for folks with history, genealogy and intelligence skills.

* November 23, Appealing Subjects with Craig Manson: Photographic Evidence in Court by Craig Manson on footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed blog. Craig analyzes how photographic evidence was used in the early days of photography, and some "interesting" court cases concerning use of unsuitable photos.

* I'll Surround Them by Lee Drew on the FamHist blog. Lee's describes his decades-long search for his Farrar family and the successes he has had breaking down this brick wall. It's an excellent example of taking the wall down one brick at a time. But he's not done. When he is, I'm sure that he will tell us about it!

* Visiting NARA: NARA Records on by the Ancestry Insider on The Ancestry Insider blog. The AI lists the National Archives records currently available on This is a really useful list - I wish Footnote would do something like this for their collections.

* Don't Do Thanksgiving Without These Essentials by Maureen Taylor on the Photo Detective with Maureen A. Taylor blog. Maureen lists ways to get your relatives to identify people in photographs at Thanksgiving time. The list applies to any time, of course, but you probably won't get pecan or pumpkin pie.
* Baptism: Holocaust survivors break off Mormon negotiations by Shelly Talalay Dardashti on the Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog. Schelly traces the history of this problem of the LDS church baptizing people of the Jewish faith, and the issues it raises. It's an excellent summary of an important issue.

* What's In a Name? I Showed you Mine, Your Turn to Show me Yours! by Lorine on the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. Lorine discusses given names, nicknames and pet names.

* Beloved Ireland: 10th edition Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture by Lisa on the Small-leaved Shamrock blog. Lisa is hostess for this Carnival this month, and it's a great one. The topic was "what aspects of Irish culture and traditions are beloved by us." There were 11 submissions. Is any other country as "green" as Ireland? Lisa's photos are majestic.

* The Worse Thanksgiving Ever by the blogger (Teresa?) who writes the Generations Gone By Weblog. I couldn't resist adding this Thanksgiving story - the situation was probably very common 100 years ago.

* 13th Edition, Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy by Elizabeth O'Neal on the Little Bytes of Life blog. Elizabeth was hostess of this monthly carnival - the topic was "What resources are you thankful for..." Ten genealogy bloggers contributed their thoughts.

* Happy CGSL Blogiversary by Kathryn M. Doyle on the California Genealogical Society and Library blog. The CGSL celebrates on year of blogging. This is the best of the genealogy society blogs - filled with society news, photographs, travel summaries, etc.

* Doing Some Volunteer Work During the Holidays by Elyse Doerflinger on The Graveyard Rabbit of Eastern Tennessee blog. Elyse encourages readers to volunteer at a cemetery - she has excellent and inspiring suggestions.

* The MyHeritage Interview Series: Genealogist Schelly Talaly Dardashti by Linde on the MyHeritage Blog. This is the start of an interview series - read it and learn more about our blogging colleague, Schelly.

* One Society Bites the Dust; Another One Celebrates a Milepost by Miriam Midkiff on the Eastern Washington Gernealogical Society Blog. Miriam analyzes the sad news about Sangamon County IL society, and highlights the CGSL as a good example. Excellent opinion piece - I totally agree with Miriam's analysis, FWIW.

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!