Thursday, December 31, 2009

Genealogy Goals and Dreams for 2010

After reading how poorly I performed on my 2009 goals and objectives (see Grading my Progress on 2009 Goals and Objectives), I've decided to be a bit more vague in my goals and objectives for 2010.

Here are my GOALS for 2010:

1) Research

* Go to the local Family History Center and local libraries more often in order to pursue ancestral information.
* Go to at least one major genealogy repository and do research over several days.
* Concentrate on brickwall ancestors, but spend time finding family history items for known ancestors.

2) Data Organization

* Convert items in computer file folders into couple-based digital file folders, including photographs and documents, using systematic file naming protocols.
* Start to weed out extraneous paper from bookcase binders, and enter useful sourced data into genealogy database.
* Start the clean up of the Genealogy Cave so that I can find things.

3) Genealogy Database

* Continue converting existing sources in my database to actual sources (with author, title, publisher, date, page, comments, etc.).
* Eliminate duplicate persons and facts, and add specific page numbers to existing source citations.
* Add sources to unsourced information in my database.
* Update Randy Seaver web page.

4) Education

* Attend at least two genealogy conferences (or cruises) in 2010.
* Participate in Transitional Genealogists Forum monthly chats.
* Obtain or borrow genealogy resource and how-to books of interest.

5) Society Activities

* Attend CVGS, CGSSD and SDGS society programs and seminars.
* Lead CVGS research group effectively.
* Be effective editor of Chula Vista Genealogical Society Newsletter.
* contribute articles to SDGS and CGSSD newsletters.
* Respond to research queries received by CVGS and CV library.
* Help society colleagues and friends with their research if requested.

6) Speaking and Teaching

* Speak to at least five different local and regional genealogical societies in 2010
* Teach three adult education "Beginning Computer Genealogy" classes for OASIS (4 sessions each, 8 hours total each class)
* Speak at local libraries and service groups about genealogy and family history.

7) Writing

* Blog a bit... on Genea-Musings, The Geneaholic, The South San Diego County Graveyard Rabbit, and the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blogs.
* Publish Volume 23 of the Seaver-Richmond Family Journal for extended family.
* Produce four "Genealogy 2.0" columns for the Federation of Genealogical Societies FORUM magazine.
* Produce six "Digging for Answers" columns for the Online Graveyard Rabbit Journal.

8) Real Life

* Take my wife to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji to celebrate our 40th anniversary
* Visit our daughters and grandchildren, and our brothers and their families, more often in order to make more family history and spread the joy of genealogy research around [yeah, right... they might even read the yearly Family Journal]
* Limit genealogy activities to no more than 10 hours a day... [who put that in? Linda, do you know how to edit this? At least it doesn't say 3 hours]

Here are my DREAMS for 2010:

* Solve all of my major brickwall ancestral challenges - Newton, Dill, Knapp, Smith/Lamphear, Richman, etc.

* Complete the genealogy database source citation, locality resolution, data duplication and note addition.

* Completely reorganize my paper files and computer files.

* Be the #1 genealogy blogger on the Family Tree Magazine list

* completes digitizing and indexing all of their microfilms and microfiches, especially probate records, land records, church records and English parish registers.

* digitizes and indexes more USA and Canadian databases, optimizes their New Search algorithms, and indexes unindexed databases.

* digitizes and indexes more vital records

* digitizes and indexes all of the census records and military records

* digitizes and indexes vital records for all New England states

* and digitize and index all historical newspapers, especially for San Diego.

* launches with an effective navigation system and search engine, and comprehensive lists of online and repository resources.

*,,, and other online family tree databases, permit unrestricted GEDCOM uploads, and provide the ability to synchronize with genealogy software databases to update information.

* Genealogy software programs permit transfer of data, including images, audio and video, from one program to another, and from software to online family tree databases.

* Online family tree databases have report and chart creation capabilities equal to those of genealogy software programs.

* Easy-to-use online collaborative family tree wiki system is created and adopted by millions of genealogists (is it Or FamilySearch Life Browser? Or something else?)

* Family tree data posted online is correct and complete. [then I woke up...]

Hmmm, got carried away a bit there, I guess. We can all dream, can't we?

What are your genealogy goals and dreams?

Treasure Chest Thursday - Abbie Smith's Death Certificate

It's Treasure Chest Thursday, and I want to highlight just how important death certificates can be.

This is the California death certificate for my great-great-grandmother Abbie A. (Vaux) Smith (1844-1931), widow of Devier J. Smith and the mother of my great-grandmother, Abbie Ardell "Della" (Smith) Carringer:

I obtained this death certificate by walking into the San Diego County Recorder's office in Chula Vista and requesting a copy of it and paying $12 for the service.

Here is what I learned from this record:

* Abbie died at "10:10 a.m." on "11 September 1931" at "2115 30th Street" in San Diego, California.
* She was "female," "white" and "widowed" and was the widow of "Devier J. Smith."
* Her birth date was 28 October 1844 , and was age 86 years, 10 months and 14 days at death.
* Her occupation was "at home."
* Her birth place was "New York"
* Her parents names were "Samuel Vaux" born in "England" and "Mary A. Underhill" born in "New York."
* She resided at the place of death for "45 years" and in California for "45 years"
* The cause of death was "Carcinoma of breast with general metastasis" treated over "four" years, with contributing cause of "acute dilatation of heart" for "2 days"
* The attending doctor was Chas. R. Langsworth M.D." who practiced at "3115 University Ave" in San Diego who first attended her on "4 January 1928" and last attended her on "9 September 1931."
* There was no operation performed or autopsy conducted.
* Place of cremation was "Clover Lawn Crematory" and date was "Sept. 15 1931."
* The undertaker was "Benbough Funeral Parlor" at 711 Date St. in San Diego.
* The informant was "Ada G. Kellogg" of "7111 Date St." although I think that is the person who provided the information to the county registrar. I am certain that the information came from Abbie's daughter, Della (Smith) Carringer.

My main purpose of obtaining this death certificate back in 1995 was to determine if it named Abbie's mother - and it did. I did not know the surname "Underhill" before I obtained this record. I have no other record that provides her mother's maiden name. This knowledge led me to an extensive New England ancestry from Old Norfolk County in colonial Massachusetts Bay Colony (eastern New Hampshire towns and Massachusetts towns north of the Merrimack River).

As far as I can tell, all the information in this record is correct (well, the registrar's address is probably incorrect). The birth date, birth place, parents names, parents birthplaces, etc. are secondary information and should be confirmed by other records. But they do match the information in the Smith Family Bible, other family papers, and census records.

I just realized that I have not found Abbie's final resting place - I wonder where she is inurned? My best guess is at Cypress View Mausoleum where my great-grandparents and grandparents are inurned. This is the first I've heard of "Clover Lawn Crematory" and have no clue where that was in 1931, although it was probably near Benbough's Funeral Parlor in downtown San Diego. I can probably find out from a 1931 San Diego City Directory.

One more mystery - what was Abbie's middle name? All of the records say only "A." Her mother's middle name was "Ann." Her daughters middle name was "Ardell." My best guess is that it was "Ardell" but I don't know for sure.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Find Latitude and Longitude of Any Place

Dick Eastman posted Convert an Address to Latitude and Longitude yesterday about the website, so I thought I would try it out. See Dick's article for the basics about latitude and longitude, degrees, minutes, seconds and decimals - all of that scientific stuff that I love.

On the Get Lat Lon website, you are presented with a Google Map of the world, and a search field above the map. I typed in my street address, city and state - shown below:

After I clicked on the "Zoom to place" button, the site went immediately (I mean fast!) to show my house lot on my street:

The cross-hairs in the center of the map are on my house lot (just about the Genealogy Cave actually), and the latitude and longitude numbers for the cross-hairs say

Latitude, Longitude: 32.620434, -117.044326

Yep, that's right! How cool is that?

Dick's post said that we could input the latitude and longitude for a place in the search field, so I picked out a favorite place, and input 40.77040386721811, -111.89426600933075:

And clicked on "Zoom to place" button and saw:

Yep - that's right! The Family History Library in Salt Lake City! [Actually, it's the side of the street outside the library. The Library entrance is at 40.770418086484604, -111.8942928314209 if the Google Map is correct.]

Even though the system calculates the coordinates to six decimal places, you don't need any more decimal places than that. The numbers go to 14 decimal places if you move the map. By my calculations, 1 foot is .00000274 degrees. Six decimal places is "close enough!" Isn't technology great?

Which raises a point - are you finding latitude and longitude of your ancestral homes, churches, places of work and gravestones, and putting them in your genealogy software database? This is a tool that lets you do it easily without trudging around in the muck and the weeds.

Thank you, Dick Eastman, for the cool technical tip!

Top Ten Genealogy Moments in 2009

Lisa Alzo, who writes The Accidental Genealogist blog, posted her Top 10 Genealogical Moments of 2009 and invited other genea-bloggers to write about theirs too.

Here are my challenges met, highlights and accomplishments (assuming I don't have a tremendous research breakthrough in the next two days!):

10. Mark Putman's solution to the parents of Sarah Martin - it led to many more colonial New Jersey and New England ancestors for me to research!

9. Becoming the "Genealogy 2.0" columnist for the quarterly FGS FORUM Magazine - this is an intellectual challenge for me, and a breakthrough into the traditional "genealogy community."

8. Attending the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2009 Conference in Little Rock (Day 1a, Day 1b, Day 2a, Day 2b, Day 3, Day 4); I enjoyed the presentations, exhibits, meeting people, and our Midwestern vacation (with a special shoutout to Patti Hobbs for her hospitality and sharing a day with us).

7. Speaking seven times for five San Diego County genealogical societies on genealogy subjects, and at two public libraries on "Genealogy - Be An Ancestry Detective."

6. Realizing that Devier J. Smith was born Devier Lamphear and was adopted by Ranslow and Mary Smith, and then re-orienting my research activity to finding his parentage.

5. Teaching the "Beginning Computer Genealogy" adult education course for OASIS in San Diego. I taught three series of four two-hour classes each to ten students in each class.

4. Completing the ProGen Study Group 18-month course, including doing the homework that helped me refine my research methods and analysis.

3. Researching at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City in January (Day 3, Day 5). I had only two days to research, but obtained quite a bit of information for several brick wall problems.

2. Attending the Southern California Genealogical Society Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, California in June (Day 1, Day 2, Blogger Summit, Day 3, Pictures). In addition to the presentations and the exhibits, I really enjoyed meeting so many genealogy bloggers, exhibitors and presenters.

And the #1 top genealogy moment for me in 2009 was:

Attending the "Bloggers day" at in Provo, Utah in January (Day 1, Day 2a, Day 2b, Day 2c, Day 3, Day 4), including the tours, the dinners, and the meetings with staff and executives, and having fun with the SLIG planners. I really appreciated the invitation (not being one of the "elite" in genealogy circles) and the opportunity to become acquainted with the company and the staff.

In a list like this, the day-to-day genealogy activities - like feeding the database, working for local societies, writing blog posts, get lost in the Top Ten aspects. There is some sort of genealogy highlight or accomplishment almost every day for me - whether it is creating good blog fodder, finding another ancestral record, helping a colleague in their research, or just reading a genealogy magazine or blog that adds to my genealogy education - genealogy is really a lot of FUN for me!

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday -- Honeymoon Couple

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

Here is a photograph from the Seaver family collection handed down by my mother in the 1988 to 2002 time period:

This is a photograph of my parents, Betty (Carringer) (age 22) and Frederick W. Seaver (age 30), on their honeymoon in July 1942. I believe that it was taken in Dana Point in Orange County, California.

They look happy, don't they? I'm glad! They had no idea what the future held for them. World War II had just started. Fred joined the US Navy. Betty taught school. Fred became an insurance agent. Betty was a stay-at-home mother. Three sons. Bowling tournament vacations. Little League baseball. Chargers football. 41 years of marriage. Four grandchildren. Health issues.

I wonder where the pictures from my own honeymoon are? Probably in the box hiding somewhere in the garage! Yikes - another project that I don't have time to do.

Grading my Progress on 2009 Goals and Objectives

It's the end of the year 2009, and time for an accounting. I defined my 2009 goals and objectives for my genealogy efforts in Genealogy Goals for 2009 on 1 January 2009. They are listed below, with my grade for each goal and objective (the goal in green, the objective in blue, grade in RED):

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.

GRADE: C minus: Did nothing for Newton, Knapp or Feather. Changed course on Smith (when I found out that Devier Smith was adopted as a Lamphear), and lucked out on Martin when Mark Putman found her ancestry.

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

GRADE: F: dropped the ball completely here! Got sidetracked on Lamphear/Smith research.

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.

GRADE: C: Made good progress on this, with perhaps 50% done, but still have lots to do. Bigger job than I thought.

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.

GRADE: D: did scan more photos and documents, did obtain some document images, but paper piles grew and did not implement new computer filing system.

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

GRADE: C: still doing all database work in FTM 16, but have learned to use FTM 2010, RootsMagic 4 and Legacy 7. I like them all, and don't want to make a choice yet. Combined all databases into one to eliminate duplication of effort. Need to complete the source citation task, and database cleanup in FTM 16, then transfer everything to new programs.

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

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

GRADE: A+: attended SCGS Jamboree in Burbank in June and FGS Conference in Little Rock in September. Woo-hoo!

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

GRADE: A: Went to Family History Library in January for two days of research. Should have added more days! Also went to Kansas State Archives in Topeka for one day, and Carlsbad CA Library for two days.

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

GRADE: A-: participated in TGF and ProGen monthly chats, but missed several due to family reasons. Turned in all ProGen homework and completed the 18-month course.

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.

GRADE: A-: Completed all queries, led all meetings but one - missed while on family trip.

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

GRADE: A+: Made presentations to Escondido Genealogical Society in January, North SD County Genealogical Society in March and October, Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego in May, local POINTERS group in June, and Chula Vista Genealogical Society in April and October.

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

GRADE: C: Finished one project, started another that is not yet complete and has sat for six months, answered questions and gave research advice to several colleagues.

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.

GRADE: A-: Tried very hard to succeed here - with posts about new websites, new databases, new software, and newspaper stories. Often was first in genea-blog world with screen shots and testing.

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.

GRADE: C+: Not as many research articles on Genea-Musings as past years, did OK on CVGC, but failed miserably in last six months on SSDC Graveyard Rabbit.

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

GRADE: A: Wrote four Genealogy 2.0 columns on deadline for the FGS FORUM Magazine.

Of course, one cannot always predict what's going to happen ahead of time. The big thing I didn't know about at the beginning of 2009 was teaching the 4-session (8 hours total) adult education "Beginning Computer Genealogy" courses at OASIS, and the two library talks that go along with them.

I also fell down big time in going to local libraries and repositories. I went to the Family History Center maybe six times all year, and didn't order enough microfilm. I'm going to add that to my 2010 goals because it is important to me.

An Overall Grade? I would have to say B-. There were major accomplishments and some major failures in achieving my 2009 goals and objectives.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pictures of Annie Moore!

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak has another post titled Photos of Annie Moore, First Ellis Island Immigrant: Help Solve a History Mystery on The Huffington Post blog. She doesn't show the picture of the young Annie, but she talks about one that sure sounds like it may be her.

The New York Times published a picture, along with an article, about the mature Annie Moore in their article the other day - see (the article may disappear from the site soon). Nice to see who we looked for... and learned the story of three years ago.

Follow the links in the two stories for more information about the Annie Moore saga. New Databases for 2010

I received a "Dear Randy" email from CEO Tim Sullivan over the holidays, telling me the great things that did in 2009 and what was planned for 2010.

The email included these paragraphs:

"Looking ahead, we’re already working on adding the collections many of our members asked for in a recent survey. Here’s just a sampling of what’s to come on in 2010.

"Popular U.S. collections in the works:

* Birth, marriage and death records, especially from 1861–1914
* Funeral home and cemetery records, 1800s–1900s
* State and territory census records
* Land ownership maps, 1860–1920
* Historical newspapers, especially from 1861–1914
* Civil War Records, including Union draft registers and Confederate pension records

"Popular international collections in the works:

* Scottish city directories, 1800s–1900s
* London electoral registers, 1900s
* German regimental histories, 1800s–1900s
* Canadian city and area directories, 1800s–1900s

"See more details about what we brought to in 2009 and what we plan to add in 2010."

I clicked on the "See more details" link and there was a nice list of the databases planned for 2010 - and I captured the screens below:

I wonder why the email didn't list ALL of the items shown on the web page? The ones not listed are:

* State Vital Records - Connecticut divorce records (1969-1997), Delaware birth, marriage and death records (1800s-1933), Missouri death records (1910-1958), Ohio death index (1830-2009) and Vermont birth, marriage and death records (1909-2003)
* Improved U.S. Federal Census Records
* U.S. Public Records - voter lists, 1930s to 1980s
* Naturalization Records (1795-1972)
* Passenger Lists (1899-1957) - including Boston, Honolulu, New Orleans
* Revolutionary War Records - including compiled army service records (1775-1783) and pension and bounty land applications (1775-1800)
* World War II Draft Cards - for Idaho, Oregon and Washington (1942 only)
* Returns from U.S. Military Posts (1800-1916) - for 21 states
* Navy Muster Rolls (1900s)
* Federal Penitentiary Records - for McNeil Island (1875-1923) and Atlanta (1898-1922).
* Yearbooks (1900-2000)

* German Census Records for L├╝beck, Germany between 1808 and 1831
* French Vital Records
* UK Vital Records (1694-1921) - non-conformist clergy records
* Australian Birth, Marriage and Death Registers (1788-early 1900s)
* UK Alien Entry Books (1794-1921)
* French Citizenship Declarations - Alsace-Lorraine in 1872
* Australian Passenger Lists - Queensland and Western Australia
* UK Military Citations
* Australian Convict Records from New South Wales

I'm especially looking forward to the state vital records, the voter lists, the Navy muster rolls and the 1950s City Directory collections.

My Favorite Online Genealogy Newsletters

The Genealogy In Time website recently listed the Top Ten Most Popular Online Genealogy Magazines, which included two genealogy blogs (one an excellent newsletter, not really a magazine) and several magazines/journals behind subscription walls.

For some reason, the list did not include Ancestry Magazine, Internet Genealogy magazine, Discovering Family History Magazine, the FGS Forum Magazine, the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, or the Chula Vista Genealogical Society newsletter, among others. All of the above, perhaps with the exception of the CVGS newsletter, have many more readers than half of the Genealogy In Time list.

There are many more online "magazines" and journals, and most of them are behind a subscription wall for a good reason. However, many society newsletters are pulbished in PDF format on the Internet for free, and a reader can subscribe to free online or email newsletters from web sites, software companies, print magazines and database providers.

Here is my list of genealogy newsletters sent regularly via email to keep me informed of genealogy events and news (I'm not counting blogs here...):

* Rootsweb Review - a monthly newsletter - subscribe here.

* Ancestry Monthly Update and Ancestry Weekly Discovery - weekly and monthly newsletters from - subscribe here (in the "Up-to-date Family History News" box on the right).

* Genealogy Gems Podcast free monthly e-Newsletter - subscribe here.

* News from the Photo Detective newsletter - subscribe here.

* Genealogy Pointers from - subscribe here.

* California Genealogical Society and Library eNews - subscribe here.

* New England Historic Genealogical Society eNews - subscribe here.

* free newsletter - subscribe here.

* free newsletter - subscribe here (click on Settings).

* free newsletter - subscribe here.

* Legacy Family Tree software free newsletter - subscribe here.

* e-newsletter - subscribe here.

* Family Tree Magazine free e-newsletter - subscribe here.

There are several more, but finding a subscription link for some of them is difficult.

Which online or email newsletters do you subscribe to and get genealogy information from? Tell me!

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Mayflower (1620) Research Article Index

I was reading the Fall 2009 issue of New England Ancestors (published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society) and saw the letter from Susan E. Roser (Deputy Governor, Historian; Canadian Society of Mayflower Descendants; Milton, Ontario). The letter mentioned that there is an index of Mayflower-related research articles which have appeared in genealogical journals from 1976 to the present. There are over 350 entries, indexed under the Mayflower head of the family.

The index is on the website of the Canadian Mayflower Society ( The list of reference articles is at

I'm interested in this topic because I have four known Mayflower families (Cooke, Soule, Warren, White), plus several possible families from my Dill and Martin ancestry. Looking through the list, I saw several articles that I have not read to date, including:

* "Susanna White, Woman of the Mayflower", by Kay Campbell, MQ 75 [Sept. 2009]:207-210. [Biographical]

* "William White", MQ 70 [Mar. 2004]:61-63. [Biographical]

* "Descendants Of John Young Of Plymouth And Eastham", by Andrew P. Langlois, MD 55 [Winter 2006]:29-52. [Includes family of Elizabeth4 Young (Robert3-2, John1) and William5 Green (William4, Elizabeth3 Warren, Nathaniel2, Richard1).

* "Pilgrim George Soule: Update on his possible ancestry", by Louise W. Throop, MQ 74 [June 2008]:140-43. [Discussion with no firm conclusion.]

* "The Hunt for the English Origins of George Soule", by Caleb Johnson, MQ 75 [Sept. 2009]:245-261. [Recounts in depth research in many English parish registers and the various George Soules which have been found.]

This is a wonderful bibliography of articles written about the Mayflower families.

"Playing with DNA" Article

One of the very best things about Genealogy in 2009 is that Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak is writing a regular column for The Huffington Post. Genealogy research, including DNA analysis, is getting significant exposure in the online and elite media.

Her latest column is titled Playing with DNA: Is Larry David Really 37 Percent Native American? She talks about George Lopez's autosomal DNA results and the problems with the specific test that he took. Then she discusses Larry David's autosomal DNA results, and warns people about taking these test results as gospel truth.

Please read the whole article, and watch the George Lopez video too.

Mystery Monday - Finding Jane and Elijah in the 1860 Census

If we don't have the good fortune of an autobiography or a great obituary, piecing together the lives of our ancestors relies on finding bits of information about them. Typically, we can find census records, vital records (if available), city directories, immigration and/or citizenship records, military records (if they registered or served), land records, probate records, a gravestone, an obituary, and other types of records. An elusive ancestor hunt is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates - you never know exactly what you are going to find.

I've written about my wife's great-grandparents, Elijah Pickrell McKnew (born 1836 in MD, died 1912 in CA) and his wife, Jane Whittle (born 1847 in Australia, died 1921 in CA), married in 1865 in San Francisco, California, in Solving Family Mysteries one at a time, 18 April 1906 - San Francisco - They Were There! and Finding daughters married names in census records. I had previously found them in the 1870 US Census in Township 2, Tuolumne County, California, in the 1900 and 1910 US Census in San Francisco, California. But I had not found either Elijah or Jane in the 1860 census, or their family in the 1880 census.

I found Jane in the 1860 US Census last night. Since Jane was born in Australia in about 1847, I searched for "Jane Whit*" born 1847 +/- 2 years in Australia residing in California. There was only one match - Jane White, age 13, born Australia, residing in Township 2, Tuolumne County, California. Here's the census image from

Is that the Jane I'm looknig for on line 31? Jane White (sic) is residing with the W.B. Ray family. And lookee there! Elijah Picrell (age 26, born in MD) is two lines below her! That has to be the Elijah Pickrell McKnew I'm looking for!

Naturally, this raises some questions:

* Where were Jane's parents? Here's a 13 year old girl residing in a mining community in the Gold Country of California. Jane's parents are Joseph and Rachel (Moore) Whittle, and I think that Joseph Whittle lived until 1871, dying in San Francisco. There are no Joseph Whittles (or similar names like White) born in England in about 1821 in Tuolumne County or in San Francisco (although he apparently naturalized in San Francisco in 1861) in the 1860 census (the likeliest candidate is a Joseph White, age 36, born England, in San Francisco with a 23-year-old Sarah White (born Bombay). I have no record of when Rachel (Moore) Whittle died, so I don't know if Sarah is a second wife of Joseph Whittle.

* Is Jane related to Elizabeth Ray (age 21, born in England)? I don't know, but they may be sisters. That would explain why Jane was in Tuolumne County. Perhaps her parents, or at least her mother, had died.

* Why was Elijah Pickrell McKnew listed as "Elijah Picrell?" The simple answer is that he was hiding in plain sight from the US Army that he deserted from in 1856.

I have searched several times for the Elijah McKnew family in the 1880 US Census, especially in San Francisco, without success. According to the San Francisco City Directories on, Elijah McKnew resided in San Francisco from 1875 on, and in 1880 resided on the South side of Nineteenth Street near Castro. I haven't been able to find him in the 1880 census yet, but now that has improved their browse function, I will go search page by page for the McKnew family. If I find them, I will write another post about the search.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Best of the Genea-Blogs: December 20-26, 2009

Hundreds of 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:

* Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850: Are they really? by Christine Sharbrough on The ProGenealogists(R) Genealogy Blog. Christine has excellent comments about using the Massachusetts "Tan Books" and provides a link to a list of online Massachusetts vital record books. This is a big help for me!

* Name Game: Celebrities Have Nothing on the Rest of Us by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak on The Huffington Post blog. More "unique" and funny names from the records related to Christmas.

* How to Deal with Distant Repositories by Katrina McQuarrie on the Kick-ass Genealogy blog. Katrina makes excellent how-to lists! This one is valuable, especially to researchers who don't go often (or have never gone) to a distant repository. A keeper.

* Privacy, Identity Theft and Genealogy -- First in a series, Privacy, Identity Theft and Genealogy -- Privacy, an issue?, and Privacy, Identity Theft and Genealogy -- Privacy worries by James Tanner on the Genealogy's Star blog. James tackles the privacy issue for genealogists in terms of identity and information. Wonderful series, to be continued.

* A Visit to Moultrie Creek by Becky Wiseman on the kinexxions blog. Becky is still on her road trip of the eastern USA, and visited Denise Olson in St. Augustine, Florida. They had fun sharing tales and information, and did some sightseeing too. I love it when genea-bloggers get together!

* WorldCat and Online Special Collections, Internet Archive - audio, video, texts and more!, and Other Collections for Family Stories Online by Tami Glatz on the relatively curious about genealogy blog. This series is about finding family stories online - but Tami covers several very useful websites too.

* Ancestry World Archives Project: Keying During the Holidays by Crista Cowan on the Blog. Crista summarizes the efforts by dedicated indexers in 2009 to create free indexes on

* Special Stocking, Precious Gift by Apple on the Apple's Tree blog. Apple's story touches my heart every time I read it - a Christmas nightmare turns out well, eventually.

* Advent Calendar - That Certain Christmas Eve by Thomas MacEntee on the Destination: Austin Family blog. Thomas's birth story is poignant and interesting.

* Weekly Rewind by Apple on the Apple's Tree blog. Apple's weekly summary of her reading and research.

* Weekly Genealogy Picks by John Newmark on the TransylvanianDutch blog. John's weekly summary of his favorite readings.

* There were many fun, poignant and interesting stories on the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories series hosted on the Geneabloggers blog.

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 - all bloggers appreciate feedback on what they write.

Did I miss a great genealogy blog post? Tell me! I am currently reading posts from over 570 genealogy bloggers using Bloglines, but I still miss quite a few it seems. Especially this past week - with the holidays I read through my blog list hurriedly and may have missed your great post.

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

SNGF: The best genealogy gift was ... family videos

The challenge for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun was to tell:

What gift that you received for Christmas is your favorite for genealogy purposes? Book, magazine, hardware, software, website subscription, research time - what was it, and how will it affect your genealogy research?

My favorite Christmas gift this year that can be used for genealogy and family history purposes is a Flip Cam-corder:

This was our main gift from our daughter and her family - and I love it! The Ultra model is described on this web page. The best qualities of it are:

* 4 gb Flash memory - no disks or tapes
* Two hours of video time.
* Comes with built-in USB thingie-doodle arm that plugs right into USB port
* Anybody can use it.
* Uploads videos to computer easily (with built-in software)* Can upload to Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or web sites

I just uploaded a clip to Facebook showing Santa Claus coming in the house. The files are MP4 files, and are quite large. A 20 second video clip is about 12 mb. I try to limit the clips to 10 to 15 seconds so that they can be emailed.

One drawback is that there is no additional light source - you rely on the available light. Another drawback, for me, is that the grandchildren are too quick - they pass by in a flash and my panning skills are weak. Oh well - I'd rather have bad videos than none at all!

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - What did you get?

It's Saturday Night - time for some Genealogy Fun!

Your mission, if you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible music) is to:

1) What gift that you received for Christmas is your favorite for genealogy purposes? Book, magazine, hardware, software, website subscription, research time - what was it, and how will it affect your genealogy research?

2) Tell us about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a comment to this blog post, or in a comment on Facebook in response to this post.

Since I am writing this several days before Christmas, and am on my way back from Victorville when this post will publish, I will write a separate post with my own response!

Surname Saturday - NEWTON

For Surname Saturday posts, I am working my way down my ahnentafel list. This week, I am on #19.

Here is the Ahnentafel List that leads to #19, and then what I know about this family line:

1. Randall J. Seaver

2. Frederick W. Seaver (1911-1983)
3. Betty V. Carringer (1919-2002)

4. Frederick W. Seaver (1876-1942)
5. Alma Bessie Richmond (1882-1962)

8. Frank W. Seaver (1852-1922)
9. Hattie L. Hildreth (1857-1920)

18. Edward Hildreth, born 30 April 1831 in Townsend, Middlesex County, MA, and died 26 April 1899 in Leominster, Worcester County, MA. He was the son of Zachariah Hildreth and Hannah Sawtell. He married 25 December 1852 in Northborough, Worcester County, MA.
19. Sophia Newton, born 14 September 1834 in Springfield, Windsor County, VT; died 29 August 1923 in Leominster, Worcester County, MA.

38. Thomas J. Newton, born About 1800 in ME. He married before 1832 in probably Worcester County, MA.
39. Sophia Buck, born 03 May 1797 in Holden, Worcester County, MA; died 06 January 1882 in Westborough, Worcester County, MA. She was the daughter of Isaac Buck and Martha/Patty Phillips. Children of Thomas Newton and Sophia Buck are:
........... i. Thomas J. Newton, born 03 June 1832 in Cambridge, Lamoille County, VT (marriage record); died 31 May 1915 in Albany, Orleans County, VT (burial); married Amanda Proctor 23 November 1864 in Worcester, Worcester County, MA; born About 1841 in Northborough, Worcester County, MA; died before 1920 in Albany, Orleans County, VT.
... 19 .. ii. Sophia Newton, born 14 September 1834 in Springfield, Windsor County, VT; died 29 August 1923 in Leominster, Worcester County, MA; married Edward Hildreth 25 December 1852 in Northborough, Worcester County, MA.

And that's it! I'm stuck on #38. Who are #76 and #77? #39, Sophia Buck, is not a problem!

I do not have information on the parents or earlier ancestors of Thomas J. Newton.

I posted everything I know, along with some analysis of the research problem, in Mystery Monday - Thomas J. Newton of Maine (19th century).

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!

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

Merry Christmas to all of my Christian readers and friends. I hope that this day finds you healthy, happy, with family and friends, and that Santa brings you everything you desire.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Author Unknown

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

Treasure Chest Thursday - Aunt Gerry's Baptismal Certificate

It's Treasure Chest Thursday - time for another peek at one of the goodies hiding in boxes and file cabinets in the Genealogy Cave.

Ah, here is the baptismal certificate for my Aunt Geraldine Seaver:

Gerry was baptized at St. Mark's Episcopal Church (in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts) in Leominster, Massachusetts on Saturday, 30 March 1918 by Rev. Donald Alexander. The parents names were Frederick Seaver and Bessie Richmond, and the Sponsors were Grace Shaw, Eva Whenman (??) and Fred Shaw. Grace Shaw was Bessie's sister, and she was married to Fred Shaw.

I have no clue who Eva Whenman is! In the 1920 census, Eva and Barry Whenman resided at 127 Lancaster Street in Leominster - just down the block from the Seaver house at 146 Lancaster Street. So, she is a neighbor, and probably one of Bessie Seaver's good friends.

Advent Calendar - Day 1: Christmas Eve

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

1) How did you and your family spend Christmas Eve?

As a child, we always (that I recall) spent Christmas Eve at my grandparents house in Point Loma because they had a chimney. At a young age, I was always trying to figure out how Santa Claus could visit us in our apartment flat - and my parents tried to prevent questions by doing this. I'm sure my grandparents loved this, since my brother and I were their only grandchildren.

It was also a handy place to store toys and gifts for us before the holidays. We used to look everywhere in our house for them.Then one frosty Christmas Eve, (um, well, wrong adjective, but what the hey) my brother and I were exploring my grandparents' garage - and found two bicycles. Aha - if we get these tomorrow from Santa, then we will know for sure that Santa is really our parents. Sure enough, there they were on Christmas morning - marked from Santa!

But, being smart little boys, we just smiled at each other, and kept the secret for another year or so. After all, we now had a new little brother to watch over and have fun with.Christmas Eve day also included shopping - at least for me (covered on Day 6).

Speaking of which, I need to go on Monday the 24th to get the stocking stuff for Linda and maybe another gift or two. I wonder if she wants a USB flash drive for my laptop? Or a netbook? Or a laser pointer? Oops, that's what I want, but maybe I'll pick them up just to make sure she has enough gifts.

Back to Christmas Eve - in our married life, when we were scheduled to fly to San Francisco on Christmas Day, we often had our Seaver family Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve with my parents, grandparents, cousin Dorothy and my brothers. This was always Christmas dinner, gift exchange, and family talk.

When we were in town, we went to church on Christmas Eve - when the kids were young, we usually went to the early service at 6 or 7 PM, and saw the Christmas Story, sang hymns, and had our candle light march (as I explained on Day 5).

In years when we travel to see our girls and their families, we usually leave several days before Christmas, spend two nights in Victorville, then arrive Christmas Eve day in Santa Cruz. This year, the Santa Cruz family with the grand-boys was here last weekend and we are in Victorville for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the grand-girls.

When the grandkids are here, then there is the and setting out of gifts on Christmas Eve while sugar plums dance in their heads, plus putting cookies and milk out for Santa, his elves and the reindeer.

This post will be part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" carnival - organized by Thomas MacEntee at the Geneabloggers blog. Please go to Thomas' blog and read the submissions for each day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Merry Christmas!

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

Here is a recent photograph (like on last Saturday!), taken at our home of my wife Linda and myself as we prepared ourselves for the "four grandchildren opening gifts in one hour."

From our home to yours,

We Wish You All a Very Merry Christmas!

We are off now for a visit to our daughter's home in Victorville - so blogging will be light. I will have my laptop available and will read but may not blog.

Genealogy In Time website

I try really hard to be aware of genealogy resources on the Internet, so I was surprised when I read about Genealogy In Time ( - I didn't recall hearing about it before last week (I am getting older and more forgetful, so I may have missed it!).

So what is Genealogy In Time? It's a genealogy information and education service. Here is their description:

"Genealogy In Time™ is a free genealogy magazine that is published exclusively online. As a family genealogy magazine, we provide:

Free genealogy articles and how-to guides.

Our very popular weekly column Genealogy This Week, a short weekly compilation of the best and most interesting new genealogy tools, resources and stories to help you get the most out of your family history research.

Listings of the latest online genealogy records as they become available on the internet.

Unique and relevant genealogy news stories often not found on other genealogy sites"

Take some time to click on the "News", "Resources" and "Articles" links - there are some interesting and useful articles and links in the offerings.

They offer a FREE weekly newsletter sent via email - you can sign up here.

Disclosure: I have no interest or affiliation with this website. I do subscribe to their FREE newsletter.

Advent Calendar - Day 2: Christmas and Sweetheart Memories

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

1) Do you have a special memory of a first Christmas present from a sweetheart?

I have no clue what the first Christmas present from Linda was in 1969. I do know that we made a commitment to each other about that time, and that was the greatest gift I could have received. We married in March 1970.

2) How did you spend your first Christmas together?

We didn't in 1969, even though that was our first year "together." Linda flew up to San Francisco to be with her parents, brother and other relatives for Christmas. I probably took her to the airport on the 23rd or 24th, and I'm sure that I welcomed her back several days after Christmas.

In the literal sense, our first Christmas together (1970) was spent in San Francisco at her parents house on 47th Avenue in the Sunset District. I had been there several times before. It was one of those row houses ("little boxes on the hillside") that was essentially 24 by 24 with two stories - living above, garage below. They had added a room (again probably 24 by 24) on both stories - the upper room was her parents' bedroom, the lower room was the party room.

When we visited, we got to sleep in the second bedroom with a foldout bed. A terrible bed - had a plywood board under the two-inch thick mattress. Christmas there was different - with several elderly family members coming to dinner and close neighbors dropping by.

The atmosphere was celebratory, everyone seemed happy to see everyone else, liquor flowed freely, and the gifts were forgettable. But the family feeling was always there. The most special person was Linda's grandmother - called "Oo Hoo" (yep - you guessed it, when Linda was a child, when they arrived at the door, her aunt would call out "Yoo hoo" and "Oo Hoo" would come to greet everybody. The name stuck - everybody used it). In 1970, she was age 86 and had attended our wedding and just beamed when her granddaughter married this nice young engineer man from San Diego with some hair. Paul and I would go fetch the elderly aunts, another elderly distant cousin and her husband would come also, and a widow from down the street who was her parents good friend.

As the years went on, we alternated celebrating Christmas in San Francisco and San Diego. When the girls came along, we kept this tradition well into the 1980's.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Types and Number of Databases on

I was curious to see how many of each type of database that are available on, so I made this list:

As of today, 22 December 2009, has 29,356 databases in their Card Catalog. The number of databases (not number of records) in each category include:

* 345 in Census and Voter Lists

* 1,003 in Birth, Marriage and Death

* 374 in Military

* 257 in Immigration and Emigration

* 9 in Family Trees

* 1,339 in Newspapers and Periodicals

* 1,431 in Member and Directory Lists

* 23,724 in Stories, Memories and Histories

* 380 in Court, Land, Wills and Financial

* 439 in Reference Materials and Finding Aids

* 22 in Pictures

* 33 in Maps, Atlases and Gazetteers

That sums to 29,356! So it appears each database is in only one specific category. I've always wondered about that!

I checked all of those categories using Old Search. New Search has a different number of databases in many of the categories - for instance, New Search has 439 databases in Census and voter Lists, while Old Search has 345. Why the difference?

NARA Laguna Niguel Move to Perris CA

Joel Weintraub emailed me with this information about the National Archives move from Laguna Niguel to Perris in Riverside County, California:

"I found out today [Monday] the projected timetable for the move of NARA Laguna Niguel to Perris, CA.

"The move will start January 4th. The first things to be moved will be the textual records (original records). Microfilms will go later in the move.

"It is anticipated that the genealogy room [at Laguna Niguel] with the computers (and subscriptions to Ancestry, Footnote, HeritageQuest) will be open until February 19th.

"Anyone coming to the Laguna Niguel facility during January and February would be wise to call in advance to make sure any films they need are still at the facility, and that the genealogy room is, in fact, open."

NARA has posted a notice about the move at

Thank you, Joel, for keeping us apprised of this move that affects all researchers in Southern California and several other states (Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii?).

Advent Calendar - Day 3 - Christmas and Deceased Relatives

On the 3rd Day of Christmas
My true love said "I'm sad,
Let's go see your mom and dad."

1) Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas?

I have specific memories of, as a boy, going with my mother and her parents to put flowers on the wall to honor Georgia Auble, and Austin and Della Carringer, at the Cypress View mausoleum. I think it was at Christmas. My grandparents were very close to their parents, having lived with them, or next door to them, nearly all their lives. I think I took my mother (since she didn't drive) to Cypress View after her parents died for several years at Christmas.

I don't recall going to my father's grave at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery at Christmas time, although we went occasionally when we had Seaver family visitors.

2) How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?

We have never had shrines or anything like that for our deceased relatives. There are pictures on the walls of them. At the Christmas Day dinner, I usually lead a family prayer and specifically mention those that have gone before, and name them by name (I only go back to my grandparents! It would be a really long prayer otherwise).

I had hoped to gather thumb sized face photos of as many ancestors as possible from my collection of photographs and get them put onto Christmas tree ornaments but that project was put on hold. If I did that, then I could put the photos in my online Family Trees too.