Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saturday Night Fun - Census Whacking

Have you heard of Census Whacking? It started in England where bored genealogists decided to pick a name off the census records and then find out something more about that person.

When it hit the USA, it evolved into finding really strange and funny names in the census records. For example, My Census Whacking Index is posted here.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to find a unique name in the census (first name, last name, combination, etc. - any census!) and post it on your own blog, or in my comments. If you want to do more than one - go for it.

If you are census-impaired, or just too busy, then tell me which name that you found in my Census Whacking Index posts, or on The Genealogue, that strikes you as really funny, strange or even obscene.

If you come up with good new ones, I'll even use them in my Genealogy is Fun presentation in three weeks!

99 Things Meme

Julie Tarr posted this on her GenBlog by Julie blog (and she found it on the Geniaus blog!) - and I thought it was interesting.

Things you’ve already done: bold

Things you want to do: italicize

Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog. (5 at last count - do I get extra credit?)
2. Slept under the stars. (when I was a kid)
3. Played in a band. (not me...)
4. Visited Hawaii. (at least six times)
5. Watched a meteor shower. (in the mountains)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland/world. (many times to Anaheim, twice to DW in Fla.)
8. Climbed a mountain. (a small one in San Diego back country)
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo. (only in the shower, probably doesn't count!)

11. Bungee jumped. (not me... Mr. Chicken)
12. Visited Paris. (several times)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning. (not that I know of)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. (now closed...)
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. (in the Louvre)
20. Slept on an overnight train.

21. Had a pillow fight. (too many to count)
22. Hitch hiked. (as a kid to the beach)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. (well, d'oh. I worked 40 years)
24. Built a snow fort. (what's snow?)
25. Held a lamb. (I'm a city boy)
26. Gone skinny dipping. (not that I recall, and i'm sure I would recall!)
27. Run a marathon. (can't run a block...)
28. Ridden a gondola in Venice. (only in Las Vegas...does that count?)
29. Seen a total eclipse. (an annular solar eclipse while in my backyard several years ago)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. (many sunsets, fewer sunrises)

31. Hit a home run. (only in sandlot games)
32. Been on a cruise. (Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, NY => PR)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. (in 2004, very cold and wet there!)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. (some of them...)
35. Seen an Amish community. (in Lancaster PA in 1999)
36. Taught yourself a new language. (yep, FORTRAN, BASIC, etc.)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. (frankly, I'm almost satisfied now)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing. (Mr. Chicken again)
40. Seen Michelangelo's David in person. (in Florence, right?)

41. Sung Karaoke. (only to the computer)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. (in 1995)
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. (I live in San Diego, come on!)
46. Been transported in an ambulance. (heaven forbid...)
47. Had your portrait painted. (I wish!)
48. Gone deep sea fishing. (when I was a kid)
49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. (twice - in 1972 and 1984, at least as high as they will let you go)

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. (snorkel in Hawaii and Caribbean)
52. Kissed in the rain. (wife, daughters, grandkids...)
53. Played in the mud. (friends, kids, grandkids)
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre. (as a kid, as a parent)
55. Been in a movie. (only on JibJab, and in home movies)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia. (on a business trip in 1997)
60. Served at a soup kitchen.

61. Sold Girl Scout cookies. (helped daughters sell)
62. Gone whale watching. (on Alaska cruise)
63. Gotten flowers for no reason. (mainly from granddaughters on walks around the block)
64. Donated blood.
65. Gone sky diving. (nope - Mr. Chicken again)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a cheque.
68. Flown in a helicopter. (in Juneau, Alaska)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. (model railroad train! - gave it to my grandsons)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.

71. Eaten Caviar. (on a Delta flight to Moscow in first Class)
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square. (does drive-through count?)
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job. (thank goodness!)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London. (in 1993)
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. (several times, all from south rim, and from airplane window)
80. Published a book. (self-published two books with limited distribution)

81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car. (last one was 2005 Lincoln Town Car)
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper. (interviews, no picture)
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House. (in 1999)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox. (as a kid)
89. Saved someone’s life. (hope I never have to)
90. Sat on a jury. (several times served on one)

91. Met someone famous. (is Howie Mandell famous enough? Tony Gwynn?)
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one. (parents, grandparents)
94. Had a baby. (not Mr. Chicken - his wife had two)
95. Seen the Alamo in person. (in the mid 1980's)
96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone. (only for the last year)
99. Been stung by a bee. (as a kid)

OK, now who's brave enough to take this on and tell us more about their life?

UPDATED 10:15 p.m. - edited a few items.

World War II Heroes Pages on announced their World War II collection in early December, and it is still FREE for everyone to access for a limited time. The collection includes:

* Interactive USS Arizona Memorial -- Easily search the Arizona Memorial Wall for names you know. Leave a tribute, a story or photo for any USS Arizona casualty

* WWII Hero Pages -- Over 8.8 million pages have already been created. Upload photos, view timelines and maps, add your stories.

* WWII Photos -- Explore the largest free collection of historical US Military photos from WWII on the Web.

* WWII Documents -- Read news articles from home about the war, case files about war crimes, accounts of air battles and much more.

As with their Footnote Pages (over 80 million pages seeded by the Social Security Death Index), Footnote has created more Footnote Pages by seeding them with the over 8.8 million US Army Enlistment Records (1938-1946). The basic information given is from the enlistment records, but a family relative can add more information to the Footnote Page - story, photos, vital records, family members, etc.) if they wish. On each Footnote Page for a person, there is a Timeline, Facts, Stories, Comments, Images, a Map, and Links to other web sites.

The Facts listed for each Hero Page on Footnote includes vital records information (name, birthplace, residence) and US Army Enlistment information (Army component, serial number, branch, enlistment date, place and term, source of personnel, and Source Information (reel number, box number).

All of the Footnote Pages are FREE for anybody to access and add information to them. I think that this is a great opportunity for all researchers to find useful information about their special person and to add photos, stories, vital information, etc. to memorialize their family members.

SDGS Seminar and Luncheon Features Lloyd Bockstruck

The San Diego Genealogical Society will have a very special event on Saturday, January 10, 2009. It is the 63rd Annual all-day Seminar and Luncheon, with nationally known lecturer and researcher, Lloyd Bockstruck as the featured speaker for the day. The Seminar and Luncheon will be at the Handlery Hotel and Resort (950 Hotel Cir North, San Diego, CA 92108)

DATE: January 10th, 2009,

TIME: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

REGISTRATION: Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m.

FEE: Including gourmet sit down lunch, is $40 per person.

RESERVATIONS: Reservations must be received by 5 January 2009 (see note below)

The featured speaker for this all day seminar will be nationally known lecturer and researcher, Lloyd Bockstruck. Last at SDGS in 2001, his talks always get rave reviews. This year he will be discussing:

1) Migrations 1607-1850,

2) Newspaper Genealogy,

3) Church Records,

4) Illegitimacy.

These are certainly topics every researcher will want to hear. Mr Bockstruck has been Supervisor of the Genealogical Section of the Dallas Public Library since 1973. He graduated cum laude with a B. A. in Biology andHistory from Greenville College, earned his M. A. in Modern European History at Southern Illinois University, a M. S. in Library Science at University of Illinois and a certificate from the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. He is also a teacher and since 1991 has authored the “Family Tree” column in the Dallas Morning News. He is a member of numerous genealogical and historical societies and is featured in Who’s Who. His awards include the Filby Prize for Genealogical Librarianship, Outstanding Alumnus and Award of Merit from the National Genealogical Society. We are most fortunate that he could be with us for this event.

The luncheon will feature a three course, sit-down gourmet meal including salad, choice of Chicken Pecan or Salmon Ravioli, dessert and beverage. SDGS will also be installing our new board members for 2009. There will be drawings for numerous door prizes. There will be a special drawing for a 7 night hotel package for the Plaza Hotel in Salt Lake City. Tickets for this will be available at the seminar and by mail on the SDGS web site.

The reservation form is on the SDGS web site ( ). Parking will be validated for a reduced fee.

Friday, January 2, 2009

2008 Genea-MusingsReview in 12 Sentences

John Newmark on the Transylvanian Dutch blog found this meme about creating a brief summary of your blog in 2008 - take the first sentence from the first post of each month. You will end up with only twelve sentences. Post those twelve sentences.

Here is Genea-Musings 2008 year in review in 12 first-of-the-month posts:

1 January: "Craig Manson has a great post about his "Greatest Genealogy Find Ever" which talks about finding records for the mother of his Aunt Grace." in My Greatest Genealogy Find Ever.

1 February: "Many, or all, LDS Family History Centers will be closed on Saturday, 2 February, in honor of their deceased President, Gordon Hinckley." in FHCs may be Closed on Saturday, 2 February.

1 March: "This is the third in a series of posts that define what I know about the descendants of my 3rd-great-grandparents, Samuel and Mary Ann (Underhill) Vaux." in Descendants of Samuel and Mary Ann (Underhill) Vaux - Post 3.

1 April: "Automobiles were a big part of many peoples lives in the 20th century." in The Cars of My Life.

1 May: "Manning M. Knapp (1825-1892) was a Justice in the New Jersey Superior Court for a number of years up to his death in 1892 in the court room." in What a Way to Go.

1 June: "Here are my picks for great reads from the genealogy blogs for this past week." in Best of the Genea-Blogs - May 25-31, 2008.

1 July: "At the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree, I attended Cath Madden Trindle's presentation on Sunday morning titled "But It's My Family; Copyright Issues for the 21st Century Genealogist," and learned (perhaps re-learned what I had forgotten) a lot. " in More on Ancestry "Ownership" of User Databases.

1 August: "My wife and I are going cruising in October on the Wholly Genes cruise, departing New York City on 26 October, visiting Antigua and the Virgin Islands before landing in San Juan, Puerto Rico on 2 November." in Cruiser needs Hotel Advice in NYC and PR.

1 September: "It's Labor Day, and I thought somebody (My readers? My kids? My friends?) might be interested in my job history." in Randy's Job History.

1 October: "I posted about receiving my mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) results in My mtDNA is in the K Haplogroup. " in My mtDNA Results on GeneTree.

1 November: "We will dock today at 7 am in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands in the eastern Caribbean." in My Genealogy Plan for Saturday, 1 November 1.

1 December: "The Southern California Genealogical Society has an annual writing contest with monetary prizes in two categories." in SCGS Writing Contest Entries due 31 December.

That's it - another meme complied with...who else is brave enough to do this? The only benefit I see is that your blog gets a bunch of Page Views from all of the hyperlink copy and paste.

MyHeritage goes commercial

It was probably only a matter of time before web sites that offered a free family tree and/or a social network went commercial - charged for their services. recently did it ($4.95 per month for a Pro account), and now has done it. You can read the MyHeritage press release on Miriam Midkiff's Ancestories blog here or on Dick Eastman's blog here.

The press release starts by noting that there is a new version of Family Tree Builder 3 software which users can download for free to their computer and use at their leisure to create family tree information.

Later in the press release is the "news" that MyHeritage has created a tiered membership plan that limits how many persons can be on a person's family tree on their web site. The plan tiers are:

* Basic - free: Family tree size = 500 people, Data storage = 100 mb, Basic smart matching

* Premium - retail $3.95 per month, billed annually: Family tree size = 2,500 people, Data storage = 500 mb (about 500 pictures), Enhanced smart matching, Priority support, ad-free.

* Premium plus - retail $9.95 per month, billed annually: Family tree size = unlimited, Data storage = unlimited, Enhanced smart matching, Priority support, ad-free.

My Seaver database is on MyHeritage, and would require a Premium Plus membership in order to maintain it there. I don't have any pictures or documents stored there - so I don't use a lot of data storage space (I can't tell how much, the GEDCOM was about 6 mb).

When I logged in to this morning, I saw this message:

"Your family tree has 9,945 people. This exceeds the Basic subscription plan of your family site. In order for your family tree to display all people, you need to upgrade the site plan. We have a holiday special: 50% discount on our Premium plan! But hurry up, this offer expires very soon."

They are offering a 50% discount on a Premium membership ($1.95/month instead of $3.95/month - total cost would be $37.44 for two years with another 20% discount) and a 20% discount on a Premium Plus membership for a two-year subscription (total cost would be $191.04 for two years).

I think I will pass. I have had very few contacts from persons finding my information on I have my databases on several other free web sites and on the subscription site. The Ancestry databases generate several queries each month.

I downloaded Family Tree Builder 3 from the MyHeritage site - it took less than a minute to install on my computer (I did have an earlier version). Then I uploaded a GEDCOM file of 7,000 persons to it, and it loaded in less than 20 seconds. I will test it in the weeks ahead to see if it is a significant improvement over the earlier version I tested and discussed here (and in the earlier posts linked).

UPDATE 1/2, 6:40 p.m.: Tamura Jones has written an article called MyHeritage hijacking homepages detailing how installing Family Tree Builder 3.0 can result in a user's home page being switched to Note that Internet Explorer users cannot read Tamura's articles (Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox users can, however). Tamura also commented on this post earlier today.

I worked a bit more in Family Tree Builder 3.0 and noticed that several of my complaints with the earlier version have not been fixed. Some of the "improvements" from FTB 2.0 to 3.0 require a "premium" subscription to

Barbara Renick's Tutorials

I received my issue of UpFront, the NGS monthly email newsletter, today, and noted the mention of two new Searching at tutorials by Barbara Renick, a noted Southern California genealogist and conference/seminar lecturer.

The two tutorials are located at They run 11 and 13 minutes respectively, and are very well done - a PowerPoint slides with Barbara's voiceover, and notes on the right side of the screen. The screen on the Part 1 tutorial is larger and easier to read than the screen on the Part 2 tutorial. However, you can click on the "Full Screen" icon next to the run time in the lower right hand corner to see the full screen with better resolution.

Barbara also has a nice set of genealogy links on her Links page - There are lecture notes on her Notes page - (this is where the Ancestry tutorials are "hiding" - under the NGS Lecture Notes button).

There are several other genealogy lecturers and societies that are providing online tutorials in this format. I appreciate them, and I hope you do too!

If you know of other video tutorials like this other than on, Roots Television or New England Ancestors, please let me know in Comments.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Genea-Musings Traffic for 2008

I've been reporting on Genea-Musings traffic each quarter, more for my own edification, but if this interests you, please read on! My last report was for January through September, 2008.

I signed up for Google Analytics on January 4, 2008 in hopes of being able to gather more information about the site traffic. Here is a summary of daily visitors for 2008:

The statistics are:

* 50,867 Absolute Unique Visits (average 140 per day)
* 86,584 Visits (average 239 per day)
* 137,956 Page Views (average 380 per day)
* 1.59 Page Views per Visit
* 00:01:47 Average Time on Site
* 74.12% Bounce Rate
* 58.67% New visits.

The first two lines mean that 59% of my visitors never come back, and that an average of about 99 persons visit every day.

The bottom of the web page shows more charts and a list:

The statistics for "where did they come from" indicates:

* 42.12% from Search Engines (a link from a search engine)
* 34.21% Referring Sites (a link from another site)
* 23.58% Direct Traffic (a link from a Bookmark or Favorite, or typing an URL)

Where did these visitors come from? 129 Countries in all - the top 10 are: *

* United States - 70,953
* Canada - 5,162
* United Kingdom - 3,878
* Australia - 1,167
* Netherlands - 788
* Ireland - 752
* Germany - 407
* Israel - 292
* Norway - 262
* Finland - 256

Here is the Page View daily count:

Genea-musings "biggest hits" so far this year have been:

The "top 20" posts are:

1) World Records for Number of Children (posted 21 July 2006) - 5,820 views
2) John Tyler's Grandson is Still Alive (posted 20 February 2007) - 1,191 views
3) How Rare is Your Personality Type? (posted 20 June 2007) - 1,017 views
4) Sam Champion's Roots on ABCs Good Morning America (posted 2 November 2006) - 867 views
5) Family Tree Tattoos (posted 11 January 2007) - 839 views

6) 5 Year statistics for Traffic (posted 25 March 2008) - 752 views
7) Yep, Barack Obama is My Cousin! (posted 12 February 2007) - 587 views
8) US City Directories (posted 16 September 2008 ) - 576 views
9) Pilgrim's Thanksgiving in 1621 (posted 22 November 2007) - 535 views
10) Genealogy Software Reviews (posted 2 January 2008) - 528 views

11) John McCain's Family Link to Robert the Bruce (posted 23 March 2008) - 507 views
12) Sarah Palin is My Cousin Too (posted 29 August 2008) - 491 views
13) "I Am My Own Grandpa" (posted 30 June 2006) - 469 views
14) Book Review "Google Your Family Tree" (posted 11 November 2008) - 449 views
15) Obtaining my Dad's WWII Service Record (posted 4 August 2006) - 435 views

16) VP Dick Cheney is My Cousin Too! (posted 19 October 2007) - 392 views
17) Was Daniel Boone an Ancestor of Pat Boone? (posted 31 August 2007) - 378 views
18) I'm Almost Ready to Cruise (posted 17 October 2008) - 354 views
20) Is This My New Genealogy File System? (posted 6 October 2008) - 334 views

My observation based on the hit list is that no one is really interested in my opinions on genealogy articles or web sites or my own family history posts, except for those about entertainment and political figures. Also, only seven of the top 20 posts are from 2008.

Quite a bit of the traffic in this period comes from Google (or other) search engine queries. Oh well...

By the way, this is post 2,495 of Genea-Musings - in 32.5 months (over 76 posts per month, about 2.5 posts per day on average).

There are more people reading Genea-Musings than just the ones noted above, which come via a link or an URL - the statistics above do not count RSS feeds (e.g., Feedburner (about 195 subscribers), Google Reader, Yahoo Reader, etc.). I am not sure if the stats count Bloglines (perhaps 55 subscribers) or not (I think so?).

These readers are probably 100% genealogy devotees, unlike a majority of my visitors to the URL that come via a search engine.

To all of my readers - Thank You for visiting and reading. I hope you learn something about genealogy and have a chuckle once in awhile.

Genealogy Goals for 2009

It's time to think about my goals and objectives for genealogy research, education, society, and writing for 2009. I didn't do very well in meeting my 2008 goals, but this is an opportunity to start anew - with hope and energy.

1) My Genealogy Research -- spend more time working on my own research so that I get more done!

a) Pursue more original source material for my brick wall ancestors - especially Thomas J. NEWTON (ME), William KNAPP (Dutchess County NY), Russell SMITH (NY, RI?), Sarah MARTIN (NJ, NY), Stephen FEATHER (NJ, PA), etc.

b) Obtain more land records and town meeting records for my ancestors of Alma Bessie RICHMOND in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts.

c) Complete creation of source notes for direct line persons in my ancestral database and in my Seaver database. This is ambitious since there are over 30,000 people in these two databases, but it needs to be done before I write any books.

d) Get my filing system in order - scan more photographs and documents, obtain more digital document images, reduce the paper piles, fully implement the new computer data filing system.

e) Decide on a long-term genealogy software program, convert all databases to use it, and become an expert user of it.

2) Genealogy Education -- learn more about specific research tasks and becoming a professional.

a) Attend at least one major genealogy conference or genealogy cruise.

b) Go to at least one major genealogy library this year for research purposes.

c) Participate monthly in the Transitional Genealogists and ProGen Study Groups homework and chats.

3) Genealogy Society -- work for and with my local societies and colleagues.

a) Support Chula Vista Genealogical Society as Research and Queries Chair, leading the monthly Research Group meetings.

b) Make at least five presentations to local genealogy societies.

c) Help society colleagues (and friends) with genealogy research if requested.

4) Genealogy Writing -- the writing will continue until I'm paid not to write any more.

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

b) Post quality research articles and notes on Genea-Musings, the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe and the South San Diego County Graveyard Rabbit that help other researchers, including my society members, pursue their genealogy and family history.

c) Write a quarterly column on genealogy for XYZ Magazine (to be named later)

Some of the items above are similar to last year's goals, but I can't "divorce my ancestors" or stop doing much of what I've been doing.

One thing that can help me pursue these goals is to avoid wasting time on frivolous things like television programs, political news and financial worrying. I will not sacrifice time with my family (wife, daughters, grandchildren) for genealogy purposes. I'm lucky to have an understanding wife who indulges my genealogy pursuits and enjoys the side benefits of meeting people and traveling to interesting places.

I still think that Genealogy is Fun - Seriously!

Happy New Year - 2009!

To all of the readers of Genea-Musings, Happy New Year!

May 2009 bring you happiness, good health, many friends, lots of love and more time to pursue your genealogy addicti, er, passion.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best of Genea-Musings for 2008

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

January 2008:

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

February 2008:

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

March 2008

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

April 2008:

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

May 2008:

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

June 2008:

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

July 2008:

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

August 2008:

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

September 2008:

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

October 2008:

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

November 2008

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

December 2008:

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

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

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

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

Are any other genea-bloggers Twittering?

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

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

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

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

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

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

My latest tweet said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Proximidade Award

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

What is this award? It is awarded for:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

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

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

Are there:

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

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

Who will tell Dina's Holocaust story?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IdentiFinders is online

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tombstone Tuesday - Norman Seaver in Westminster

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

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

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

Monday, December 29, 2008

How did I do on 2008 Genealogy Goals?

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

Here is my accounting of how I did during 2008:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right, moms?

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

Forensic Genealogy strikes again

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

Colleen passed me these links in email last night:

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

* Framework of doubts about the story

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

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

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

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

Colleen Fitzpatrick's web site is

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

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

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

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

Table of contents for New England Ancestors - Holiday 2008 issue

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


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

page 7 - In this Issue, by Lynn Betlock

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

page 10 - Announcements

page 15 - Education Programs and Tours

page 18 - New England Online, by David Allen Lambert


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

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

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

page 35 - Presenting Boston Beheld, by Penelope Stratton

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

page 40 - Researching Newfoundland Ancestors, by Judith Lucey

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


page 70 - Index of persons (for Volume 9)

page 95 - Index of advertisers (for Volume 9)

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

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

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

Sunday, December 28, 2008

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

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

* page 243 - Editorial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* page 299 - Additions and Corrections

* page 302 - Reviews of Books and CD-ROMs

* page 306 - Index of Subjects in Volume 162

* page 310 - Index of Persons in Volume 162

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

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