Saturday, April 11, 2009

My Genealogy Easter Egg Hunt

Some bloke named Randy Seaver decided that I should have some fun on this Saturday night, so he devised this Genealogy Easter Egg Hunt.

Here's what I found: I followed directions to the letter... and put the search string [mccook nebraska genealogy society] into Google. Well now, the very first match (out of 4,860) was the South West Nebraska Genealogical Society (SWNGS) -

I'm looking for the Devier J. and Abigail (Vaux) Smith family - son David D. and daughters Della and Matie. I know the family lived in McCook, Red Willow County, Nebraska there between 1885 and 1894, according to family papers and letters. But I don't know much about their lives there.

OK, let's see what they've got:

* Patriots - none of mine
* Civil War - none of mine
* Cemeteries - none of mine (although I saw a book at the FHL that listed D.J. Smith buried in Memorial Park Cemetery - he's not on the list here)
* Red Willow Census - 1880 and 1885 State -- no 1885 data here yet.
* Court Records - one event in 1889 showing D.J. Smith sued.
* Red Willow Probate - a listing for a probate for Devier J. Smith, filed in 1929! Hmm.
* Graduates - too late for my Smiths
* Marriages - a marriage of Mattie Smith to George Chenery in 1889
* Landowners - for 1905, my Smiths are gone.
* Newspapers - an obituary for Devier J. Smith in The McCook Democrat in May 1894
* Funeral Homes - a listing for Devier J. Smith in 1894, died of "dropsy" and the casket cost $76.
* Obituaries - too late 1960s
* Plat Maps - 1905 - too late
* Sanborn Maps - 1889 map shows D.D. Smith's Livery one block from the railway station.
* School census - 1886. No luck
* WW1 Draft - too late
* 1909 High School Annual - too late.

Not a bad haul, eh? A court record, a probate index record, a marriage of a daughter, an obituary, a funeral home record, and a Sanborn map. Amazing!

And all of this from a small county in southwestern Nebraska that I had never really checked out before. I was ecstatic to find these records online - my compliments to Thomas E. Corey and SWNGS for indexing, transcribing and posting all of this information for us to find.

Now I need to have someone go find the probate record in the court house and send it to me. The others are "nice to have," but the probate record is the potential gold mine for me.

As a bonus to everyone who has read down this far - go read Thomas Corey's Step-by-Step guide to Genealogy Research. It is extremely well done. It is a bit dated, but is comprehensive and helpful. A keeper!

That was REALLY fun!!! And profitable too! Thanks, Randy...

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Easter Egg Hunt!!!

It's Saturday Night, let's have some genealogy fun!

Remember those Easter egg hunts you had when you were a kid? Or you hosted when you were a parent or grandparent of small children (or even big children...)? Remember the happiness and joy you had finding the eggs hidden in the garden or the field? And the goodies sometimes found inside them? I'm really looking forward to the Easter egg hunt in our backyard for Lolo and her friend Abigail on Sunday morning.

I have a Genealogy Easter Egg Hunt for you! Here's the directions:

1. Pick a place that you have ancestry, but don't know much about.

2. Go to Google (or your favorite search engine) and put in the place name, the state name, and the words "genealogy" and "society." For example my search string is going to be [mccook nebraska genealogy society]. Don't use mine - use your own!

3. Go to the web site that looks the most interesting or promising, and search for data about your ancestor(s) that lived there.

4. Did you find anything new or interesting? If so - those are your genealogy Easter Eggs! Enjoy them - browse some more! If not, try again with another place name.

5. Tell us all about it on your blog, or in comments to this blog.

Happy hunting!!! I will show off my genealogy Easter Eggs on Sunday (if I find any... I hope I've been a good little graveyard rabbit).

CVGS Seminar on Saturday, 25 April - "Finding Your Elusive Ancestors"

The next Saturday Seminar of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society will be Saturday, 25 April 2009, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library (365 F Street, in Chula Vista) in the Auditorium.

The Seminar theme is "Finding Your Elusive Ancestors." The schedule of events is:

10:00 a.m. Registration in Auditorium

10:30 a.m. Program Introduction – Gary Brock

10:40 a.m. “Doing a Reasonably Exhaustive Search” -- presentation by Randy Seaver

12 noon. Refreshments (sandwiches, veggies, fruit, goodies, water) – provided by CVGS in the Conference Room adjacent to the Auditorium, please eat in the Park adjacent to library (not in the auditorium).

1:00 p.m. “Solving Your Brickwall Problems” – Panel Discussion of Member Research Problems. Panel of Shirley Becker, John Finch, Susi Pentico and Randy Seaver, moderated by Gary Brock.

2:30 p.m. Questions from audience answered by the Panel

3:00 p.m. Conclusion

This all-day seminar is FREE for all to attend (a donation for the refreshments is appreciated)

RESERVATIONS ARE REQUESTED!! We need an accurate count of attendees to provide handouts and the refreshments. For more information, and to make reservations, please contact Virginia Taylor (619-425-7922, email

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mexico Church Records on FamilySearch Record Search

One of my CVGS colleagues emailed me today to tell me that the LDS FamilySearch Record Search databases now include Catholic church records for two states of Mexico - Aguascaliente (1616-1961) and Chihuahua (1622-1958).

My friend wrote:

"Baptismals, marriages, confirmations, deaths are listed back to the 18th century for many churches. Baptismals give the parents and maternal and paternal grandparents- sometimes their ages are given or if they are deceased. Females are always listed with their maiden names. Some of the later records are indexed."

The records on the site are images of the actual church parish registers. In general, there are no indexes. There are registers for each parish in each state, and then by church (if there is more than one).

When these parish registers are completed for all states of Mexico, the search for ancestral and family records in these states will be much easier. In the past, the researcher had to order the microfilms and roll through the images down at the Family History Center.

I just checked the FamilySearch Indexing Projects page and I don't see any other Catholic church records in the queue. Bummer.

This is one example of how the FamilySearch Indexing project will help researchers all over the world. Eventually. When all of the microfilms and microfiches are digitally imaged and indexed. 5 to 10 years from now?

Checking out

The web site made a major announcement this week - you can read all about it here. The key graphs were (for me):

"The team at the Family History website is in the final stages of a new website design that will enhance and simplify the way records can be accessed on its website. Previously Familyrelatives' members were able to click on one of two tabs to access records from England and the United States.

"Now with the growth of data sets and the forthcoming addition of records from Australia, New Zealand, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the United States it has been necessary to expand the tabs and simplify the website layout to accommodate the growing number of datasets."

I decided to go take a look, since they claimed to have databases from the USA. Here is the home page for

It is a subscription site, and costs 30 pounds for a year (if you are identified as a USA resident, it is $50 per year). A user could sign up for a number of pay-per-view credits also. Apparently, I registered three years ago for a free account, so I logged in and browsed through the site.

Here is the top of the list for the UK records:

The UK record list includes Civil Registration for Births, Marriages and Deaths; Parish Records (partial); Trade directories; Military Records; University Alumni Records; Irish Records; Land Records; some Australia records too. There are tabs for England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. There are no databases listed yet for Canada, Scotland, Wales or New Zealand.

One free UK database is listed - Overseas Births (1761-1984), which can be browsed (alphabetical, but not in exact order, over 21,000 entries).

There are some USA databases, as shown below:

These include California Birth Index (1905-1995); Texas Marriages; Texas Divorces (1968-2004); Maine Marriages; California Deaths; Maine Deaths; Social Security Death Index; US WW2 Enlistments and POWs; US Korean War Deaths and POWs; Irish Immigration Records (1846-1850).

At this time, all of the USA databases are FREE to access if you have registered with I checked the California Birth Index, put in my SEAVER surname, and saw this list of 261 matches:

This is the same information that you receive on

The web site also has a family tree area. Here is the screen to start inputting family information:

There is a GEDCOM upload capability. I haven't tested that yet.

As I mentioned, this is a subscription web site. Here is the subscription information page:

Note that this site does not offer some of the typical UK database offerings like Census Records.

For a California resident without an Ancestry subscription, this site would be useful for the free California Birth Index.

For a researcher looking for UK records, some of these databases may be unique to - I'm not aware enough of what is offered here and on other sites.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

NARA Laguna Niguel to Close

I had a very distressing email from Joel Weintraub (whom I have blogged about several times when he has provided excellent programs at San Diego area societies) today. It reads:

"Randy, I'm going to send the below to both you and to JewishGen..... JewishGen because I am a regular member and know that southern California researchers read the daily messages, and you because you are a southern California based genealogist and will get out the word.

"As you know, I volunteer at NARA Laguna Niguel. I have done so for 8 or so years.The staff here was told a few weeks ago that NARA-Pacific Region (Laguna Niguel) be moved to Perris, California. They will join a NARA facility that presently specializes only with federal courts.

"See: the Perris facility.It's not clear when the move will happen or be completed, or that it actually will occur, but today staff was measuring tables and it does look like a firm decision has been made. I wouldn't be surprised if the Laguna Niguel facility ceases operation no later than summer 2010.

"This is clearly a cost-cutting move. The new location will open up the Inland Empire to access a NARA branch, and may not add that much commute time to get to the Pacific Region branch from San Diego or Los Angeles Counties, but will negatively impact Orange County residents (and my own ability to volunteer).

"Joel Weintraub
Dana Point, CA "

This is disappointing to me - NARA Laguna Niguel was very easy for San Diego area residents to get to - we missed almost all of the heavy morning traffic if we went on a weekday. It will be a much longer trip to Perris for anybody along the San Diego County coast.

NARA Laguna Niguel not only had the National Archives material but also had free access to several commercial subscriptions, including and, that the local Orange County genealogy community was able to use.

I hope that Joel will have his 1940 census ED indexing work done by the time of the final move.

My thanks to Joel for the news. The word is out!

The Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal

Are you reading the Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal? This Online Journal is composed of eight columns, with a different column every week, and a new set of columns every two months. To date, there are six columns published in the first issue, with headings:

* Digging for Answers - April 9, 2009 by Randy Seaver
* Educated Rabbit - April 2, 2009 by Sheri Denley
* Photo Monument - March 26, 2009 by Julie Cahill Tarr
* A Rabbit's Tale - March 19, 2009 by JoLyn Day (this is a column with various authors)
* Tech T.I.P. - March 12, 2009 by Denise Olson
* History Hare - March 5, 2009 by footnoteMaven

Still to come in the current issue are:

* International Rabbits by various authors
* The Graveyard Guru by Stephanie Lincecum

This Online Journal is coordinated and published by editor Julie Cahill Tarr. The Association of Graveyard Rabbits publishes The Graveyard Rabbit blog, with Julie, Sheri Fenley, Diane Wright and footnoteMaven as editors.

Are you a Graveyard Rabbit? I am, and proud of it, writing the South San Diego county Graveyard Rabbit blog. There are over 60 of us now.

If you want to be, request to join the Graveyard Rabbits Association and start a blog devoted exclusively to articles about cemeteries, grave markers, burial customs, the study of cemeteries, transcriptions of tombstones, or the preservation of cemeteries.

A Noble Life - Lyle Lawrence Carringer (1891-1976)

I've thought a lot about who I was going to write about for the Smile for the Camera: A Noble Life carnival theme, and I finally chose my grandfather, Lyle Lawrence Carringer (1891-1976), son of Henry Austin and Della (Smith) Carringer.

I have written extensively about Gramps over the three years on this blog, with the best summary of his life in Today is "Gramp's" 116th Birthday!.

The defining photograph of Gramps life is this one, I believe:

Family. It was always about family. Parents, wife, daughter, grandsons. In everything I've heard and read about, and by, my grandfather, his fierce love and steadfast dedication was to his family.
Patient. Encouraging. Confident. Friendly. Inquisitive. Astute. Helpful. Peaceful.
That is how I remember my grandfather. I really appreciate the lessons he taught me, the example he provided to his grandsons, and the life he lived, with my grandmother, that created emotional stability and wealth.

A Noble Life? You bet!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

CVGS Research Group Meeting Summary

We had our monthly meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society Research Group today at the library, with nine in attendance, including three guests (and hopefully soon-to-be members). The highlights were:

* John received another marriage record from the English Civil Registration for his daughter-in-law's family. He is happy that the cost has come down to about $11 (7 pounds) for them due to the exchange rates. He ordered a will from the North Carolina State Archives, and found land records for one of his families online at the Archives site after working through books on the CVGS library shelves.

* Dick is frustrated that the FBI won't send him information about his Uncle Jim, the post-office robber. Jim's been dead over 50 years, but they are withholding documents to protect the privacy of third parties (who are probably deceased). He's planning a trip to Wisconsin to visit graveyards, and wondered how to find places with GPS coordinates without a GPS. We suggested maps from Google Earth to help him find the cemeteries. Or buy a GPS!

* Shirley's trip to the FHC last week was fruitful - she found some Plue (Plug/Plough/Pflug) people in the 1820 census in NY, and later found them in the 1840 to 1880 censuses also - a different spelling every year! She's been corresponding with a man who found Pflug family baptism records in a Schoharie County record book that look like her folks.

* Joyce (a visitor) is just starting her search, and wants to trace her father's life in Alabama where he died in 1944. We gave her a quick primer on doing research, and suggested that she find death, marriage, birth, cemetery, obituary, military, census, etc. records to try to define his life, and those of his wife and children, then work back to his siblings and parents. We offered family group sheets and a pedigree chart as a way to document what she finds, and offered to help her on Mondays in the Table Talk area. She's excited by the hunt, and has lots of questions.

* Flossie (a visitor) came with Joyce, and has quite a bit of ancestral family information already. She's been to the LDS FHC in Mesa and received help there. She wants to gather all of the family photos, scan them and distribute them to her family members.

* Gary is still working on his second great-grandfather Solomon Roff, but has had little luck finding Roffs living or buried in Cayuga County NY where Solomon was born in 1805. He has looked at records from over 200 cemeteries there.

* Dearl says that there were too many Glenns who were illiterate and moved around too much. He's stuck on his second great-grandfather William Glenn, born in 1795 in North Carolina. There are 24 Glenn families in the 1800 census, five of them with sons under age 10. Dearl has had a Y-DNA test, and has an exact match with a man in Turkey. Huh?

* Ruth (a visitor) is not new to genealogy research, but wants to get better organized. She has family tree data on Ancestry, MyHeritage and MyFamily, and wants to get it all in one place. We suggested a free software program like Family Tree Builder or Personal Ancestral File, and getting GEDCOMs of her data from the web sites, create one database with all of the information, and then replacing the databases at the online sites.

* Randy briefly mentioned buying and working in RootsMagic 4 and trying to find the parents of Devier J. Lamphere before his talk on 25 April.

This session went long because the visitors were excited about finding help and listeners. Dearl took them over to the CVGS library shelves and provided some family group sheets, pedigree charts and membership applications to them.

SDGS Meeting on Saturday - "The Hand in the Snow"

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

The speaker for both parts of this meeting will be Colleen Fitzpatrick, Ph.D on the topic "The Hand in the Snow: A Different Kind of DNA Talk."

The program description says:

"Forensic scientists and genealogists share similar goals. Applying their methods can lead to unconventional discoveries from surprising sources to better understand how our ancestors lived.

"In this special presentation, Dr. Fitzpatrick will reveal how the frozen human arm and hand found at the 1948 Alaskan crash site of Northwest Flight 4422 was identified using forensic genealogy. Many of these same DNA techniques are used in genealogical research and will help researchers understand how they can help us in their research -- as well as their limitations."

Colleen's curriculum vitae:

"Colleen Fitzpatrick, Ph.D, is a Consulting Genealogist for the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory and has authored three award-winning books on genealogy. She has been recognized for work on the crash of Northwest 4422 and identifying the remains of the unknown child of the Titanic. She is a columnist for major genealogical publications and lectures at national genealogy conferences and numerous genealogical society meetings.

"Dr. Fitzpatrick was last with us in May 2006 with her remarkable presentations on 'Photo Identification' and 'Weird DNA.' Visit her web site: . You won't want to miss this program!"

I look forward to seeing Colleen again and hearing about her work in this case. I posted a link to the "CSI Alaska" article in Scientific American here.

Family Photographs - Post 50: The Lath-house

I'm posting old 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.

This photograph is from my grandfather's photo album that I scanned during Scanfest in January:

The people in this picture are my great-grandparents, Austin and Della (Smith) Carringer. It was taken between 1915 and 1920 (based on adjacent photographs in the album). The setting is a lath-house that adjoined the house situated at 2105 30th Street in San Diego, which the Carringers built in the late 1890's.

Inside the lath-house there appear to be potted plants which may have been flowers or vegetables. Outside the lath-house were fruit trees and berry vines or bushes. Della had a green thumb - there were still vegetable, fruit, and berry vines/bushes/trees on the property when I was a boy in the late 1940's and early 1950's - my brother and I used to pick the produce in the summer and sell it on the street corner up at the Piggly Wiggly market two blocks away.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Correcting my mistakes...Carpenter Family of colonial New England

One of the common complaints about online family trees (and blogs) without sources, or which use derivative sources such as published books and genealogy databases, is that the information is often incorrect. In some cases, this is true. In many cases, the information is accurate, having been obtained from original sources and primary information data. The challenge is sorting the wheat from the chaff.

The best advice for all researchers is to treat all sources of information with skepticism, and work to obtain original source material with primary information concerning names, dates, events and locations. We are all human and make mistakes of omission and commission, usually unintentionally in good faith, but sometimes with poor judgment or knowledge.

Yea, verily, I have put incorrect genealogical information on the Internet. Even though I have done my best to be accurate, I have relied, in many cases, on derivative sources and secondary information, especially in surname books and in online databases. These errors mainly crop up in my earliest work, where I was "collecting" names and families, entered it into my genealogy software, and didn't look critically at the information or the sources.

Over the past ten years, I created genealogy reports based on my "research" and posted them on my web site, called (rather creatively I thought) Randy Seaver's Ancestry and Family History. The reports are unsourced, and do not include research notes - only names, dates and places.

Several times each month I receive an email from other researchers requesting me to send them information about people in these reports, thanking me for posting helpful data, or telling me that my information is wrong. The latter ones are actually the most helpful for my own research, because usually they provide more authoritative information than I had previously.

Such is the case with the email I received last week from Gene Zubrinsky, who has performed authoritative research on the William Carpenter (1605-1659) who settled in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. Gene told me that my ancestor, Solomon Carpenter (1675-1750) was not the son of Abiah Carpenter (1643-1699) but of Abiah's brother, Samuel Carpenter (1638-1683), both sons of William Carpenter. He sent links to his Carpenter family research work to back up his assertions. The Carpenters' Encyclopedia of Carpenters has sketches, done in Great Migration style, for the early Carpenter families of Rehoboth MA. Gene has published much of this work in the New England Historic Genealogical Register and in The American Genealogist.

I spent a fun two hours today correcting my genealogy database getting Solomon into the right family, and filling in the family of Samuel and Sarah (Redway) Carpenter. I listed Gene's work as a resource in the notes for the families.

It's been four years since I've updated the genealogy reports on my web site. There have been other changes to my ancestral database as a result of my own research and the help from others, like Gene. I need to create new genealogy reports and post them on my web site.

I appreciate Gene taking the time to send the correction, and links to his material, to me and being willing to share his work with Carpenter descendants on the Internet. Take a look at his work, especially if you are a descendant of William Carpenter (1605-1659).

How many other mistakes are there in my ancestral database? I'm sure that there are many - that's one of the problems with over 2,000 ancestors in my database. Each of us needs to be open-minded when we are confronted with errors in our work. We need to investigate it, accept the correction if we judge it accurate, and apologize for misleading people with our faulty information.

One of my favorite sayings, which especially applies in issues like this, is "Pobody's Nerfect!" I've known this for a long time, of course, that I am, and my research work is, imperfect. Um, Angel Linda dear, where is that piece of humble pie?

I wish that we had more Gene Zubrinsky's in our genealogy world that creates excellent research and shares it. My goal is to do better on the research, analysis and writing parts of the task. It's why I've been pursuing deeds, probates and other original documents for my ancestral families. Maybe, before I leave this mortal coil, I'll be able to create research work as complete and well done as Gene's Carpenter work. There's a goal to shoot for! Thanks, Gene!

Updated 18 October 2013:  Corrected Gene Zubrinski's link to his Carpenter work.

Copyright (c) 2009, Randall J. Seaver

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 8: Creating a Wall Chart

I downloaded the free RootsMagic 4 beta release in early March, and purchased the program on 31 March. I easily uploaded my Family Tree Maker file to it. In this series, I'm looking at different features of RootsMagic 4. I'm not doing a comprehensive review, just looking at features important to me.

Previous posts in this series include:

* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 1: Navigation
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 2: Editing Person Data
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 3: Adding a Child to the Family
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 4A: Creating a Pedigree Chart
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 4B: Creating a Pedigree Chart
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 5: Creating a Family Group Sheet
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 6: Creating a Narrative Ancestors Report
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 7: Creating a Narrative Descendants Report

In this post, I'm going to create a Wall Chart of the ancestors of my grandfather, Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942). In the "Family" View, I clicked on the "Report" menu item and highlighted the "Charts" option, and the "Wall Chart" item:

I clicked on "Wall Chart" and the "Report Setting" menu opened. I made Frederick Walton Seaver the selected person; I chose the Chart Type (I chose Ancestor Chart, the other choices were Descendant Chart and Hourglass Chart); I chose the Orientation (I selected Top to Bottom, other choices were Bottom to Top, Left to Right and right to Left); I chose 8 generations of Ancestors; and I checked the "Print Color Coding" box. Here is the menu showing all of my choices:

There are other buttons on this page that open menus for:

* Reset - resets all options back to before the user started changing them.
* Fonts - change font type, size, bold, underline, italics, strikeout for name, data and title. For this post, I chose Name = 12, Data = 10 and Title = 48.
* Data to Include - the user can select the name format and up to eight items to include. The "Data to Include" menu is shown below:

Birth, Death and Marriage were pre-selected. The user can select any of the other Facts listed in the drop-down box (shown above). There are also five boxes on the right to check for options. I clicked "OK" and was back to the "Report Settings" menu. I clicked on the "Background" button:

The "Background" menu permits you to select no background, a solid color background (from a palette, as shown above), or an image. I chose the light yellow background from the color palette and clicked "OK." Back on the "Report Settings" menu, I clicked on the "Boxes" button:

On the "Boxes" menu, I could choose the box width, box height, space between horizontal and vertical boxes. The first item greatly affects the overall size of your wall chart! I narrowed the box width to 1.5 inches and increased the box height to 1.5 inches (trust me, there was a reason for this!). I clicked "OK" and from the "Report Settings" menu I clicked on the "Colors" button:

The "Colors" menu permits the user to select colors for the title text, box color, box border color, shadow color, name text color and data text color. I changed the default colors to the ones shown above. I clicked on the "OK" button and now was ready to create my wall chart.

I clicked on the "Generate Report" button and a separate window for RootsMagic Chart opened (which has its' own menu system). When it opened, I saw a blank yellow sheet. When I scrolled down to the bottom, I saw this:

This is a 100% zoom level for the chart. The overall chart measures 140 inches wide and 17 inches high (see why I wanted to limit the box width?).

The user can go to the "View" menu and select from options of "Zoom Percent" (50%, 75%, 100%, 200%), "Zoom Custom" (the user inserts the zoom percentage) or "Zoom to Fit."

I selected "Zoom Custom" = 30% and the chart showed:

I clicked on the "Zoom to Fit" item and saw:

As you can see from the charts above, I got the yellow background I requested, but the box background came out reddish even though I chose a light blue. I tried many colors and couldn't make the box background color change. It's probably a bug that can be easily fixed. The other colors and text were as I specified.
UPDATE: Reader RootsMagic commented that I requested "Print color coding" in the "Report Settings" menu. This branch of the family was selected to be "pink" so it looksl ike the color coding overrides the user request for a different box color.

The menu system and options are easy to use and navigate. The "Report Settings" for all reports and charts are essentially the same, so the user doesn't have to learn a lot of menus to get things right. The learning curve on the Reports and Charts is really shallow, I think.

The menus and icons on the RootsMagic Chart program permit the user to add text boxes, lines and shapes wherever the user desires.

The user can save the chart in File>Save As as a RootsMagic Chart file (.rmc) - my 8 generation chart was 264 kb in size. I could not do a File>Export because the RootsMagic Chart program I have is a demo version (does it cost more to download it separately? Or is this feature not working yet?).

What else would I like to see in the Wall Chart option?

* Ability to change box outline design
* Ability to change line weights and colors
* Some nice family tree and nature scenes for backgrounds.

I looked for Chart Printing options and the web page has a link to where the user can purchase a chart.
UPDATED 4/8/09: added an update to one of my comments about the box colors - the reader was correct!
I still cannot get RootsMagic Chart to export a file. There is no way to register it from the program. I have registered my RootsMagic 4 program. Any suggestions?

Tombstone Tuesday - Hezekiah Sawtell (1703-1779)

Hezekiah Sawtell was born 2 March 1702/3 in Groton, Middlesex, Massachusetts, the son of Obadiah and Hannah (Lawrence) Sawtell. He married Joanna Wilson on 1 August 1723 in Groton. Hezekiah died 18 March 1779 in Groton.

Hezekiah Sawtell's stone stands proudly in the Old Burying Ground in Groton:

A cherub's head adorns the top of this gravestone. The inscription reads:

To the Memory of a Beloved Friend.
Here lies the Body of
Lieut. Hezekiah Sawtell
Who Departed this Life March Ye 18th
1779 in the 77th Year of his age:
in his life he was a Kind & Loving Husband,
a tender and Provident Parent, a
Friendly and Benevolent Neighbour,
Singularly Pitiful and Liberal
to the Poor, Needy and Distress'd
His life useful, his Death Lamented.
"Stop Passenger as You Go by
Remember You Was born to die.
As You are Now So Once was I
As I am Now So You Must be
Prepare For Death and Follow me."

What a beautifully carved stone? There are many well-preserved stones like this in the Old Burying Ground in Groton. Transcriptions of the stones in this cemetery are provided in the US GenWeb archives here. A book (Epitaphs from the old burying ground in Groton, Massachusetts, By Samuel Abbott Green, Arthur Bruce Coburn, Published by Little, Brown, & Company, 1878) is available on Google Books here.

I don't recall where I obtained this photograph, and others from this cemetery. I may have taken them myself on a trip to New England in 1994 or 1995, and I may have obtained them from a kind correspondent who took them and sent them to me years ago.

Hezekiah Sawtell is one of my 6th great-grandfathers, and is also a first cousin nine times removed according to the Legacy Family Tree 7 relationship calculator!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Expert Connect Service from

The cat is out of the bag over on the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) mailing list about one of's newest endeavors - called ExpertConnect. DeeDee King started the discussion on the APG mailing list, in a post titled "Ancestry and professional genealogist project" last Saturday, noting:

"Well, Ancestry announces new pilot partnership with professional genealogists.Ancestry sends out lovely invitation: 'You're one of the nation's top genealogists.' Go to"

So I did ... and read the services offered (Record Pickup, Local Photo, Ask an Expert, Record Lookup and Custom Research), the FAQs, and the Terms and Conditions. It's an interesting concept - and has potential benefits for both clients and providers, and for (since they will take a percentage of the gross).

Now there are many posts by professional genealogists discussing the service offered by to help connect people who might need professional services with professionals who might be able to provide the services. Some of the most interesting are:

* An example of how the money exchange might work, by Dee Dee King

* Is the professional genealogist profession a ripe goose for the plucking? by Mary Petty

* wisdom about how this might affect different levels of professional genealogists by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

* there are similar client-provider services available by Jeanette Daniels

* Todd Godfrey of ExpertConnect commented on discussion

* Comments about how T&Cs affect professionals by Dee Dee King

What do I think? I was not asked to participate in this, so this is my first exposure to the issue and the web site.

* The service might be useful for Ancestry subscribers who need records, lookups, and photos in distant places, and could be provided by a "one-stop" shop like this.

* The service could be helpful for genealogists who want to work as part-time contractors rather than start and maintain their own small business.

* Established professionals that sign up would probably increase their gross fees in order to achieve their current net fees. There is no real incentive for a professional with a thriving practice to sign up.

* There may be problems with withholding fees to providers until the client is satisfied. and with resolving client-provider disagreements.

* Many of the records found and much of the work that would be performed by the providers of this service would probably be in records that does not have in its' databases - the original source material in courthouses, town halls, genealogical and historical societies, local libraries, cemeteries, family homes, photo albums, etc.

The APGers are doing a great job of dissecting this issue - raising issues, asking questions, providing examples, etc. in a civil manner. Read all of the APG mailing list threads and the web site too for the entire context.

What do you think? Would you use this service as a client? Would you sign up to be a provider?

Top 25 Genealogy Blogs for 2009

Remember the Top 40 music surveys from our youth (well, my youth...I'm probably older than most of my readers). I collected them religiously in the early '60s, compiled my own national music survey for awhile, and listened to the radio every day to hear the latest and greatest songs by my favorite "artists." That eventually wore off as other "hobbies" captured my interest (girls came al ittle later).

It's funny - it's not much different today for me - I sample over 450 genealogy blogs every day using Bloglines as I search for genealogy news and research tips, and check genealogy databases for more online data. I hardly have enough time to do my own genealogy research anymore. But who's #1?

If I turned on my radio, would I hear "Hey, we're counting down the top genealogy blogs for 2009 on K-GEN, your favorite station for all things family history."

"Coming in at #3, is Genea-Musings... with genealogy news commentary, software reviews and testing, personal family history articles, and more..."

Wow. I'm genea-smacked. Thank you, ProGenealogists!

Read the whole list. The article was written by Heather Henderson.

What were the counting criteria? After all, this isn't subscriptions sold, or number of links counted. The article says:

"For this study, hundreds of genealogy blogs were evaluated based on their overall content, Technorati rating, and industry experience. Due to the ever-changing nature of the blogosphere and the authority basis of Technorati rankings, it is anticipated that this list will change frequently. Note that Technorati does not list Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter (EOGN) as a blog; statistics drawn elsewhere."

I'm glad that they did not use web site hits as the sole metric. So many blogs are read using readers, email subscription, or aggregators.

I have some quibbles with the list, although I don't have the Technorati information on hand. My opinion is that Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter must be #1. It has much higher web site traffic than any other genealogy blog - about 37,000 unique people each month per Quantcast. In addition, Dick sends a regular email subscription newsletter to thousands of readers.

By comparison, Genea-Musings has web site traffic of about 5,400 unique people each month per Quantcast.

The results for Leland Meitzler's GenealogyBlog are skewed because he was offline for five months. Before the feed break, Leland was probably #2 to Dick in genealogy blog traffic and influence. I look for Leland's blog to get a star in the 2010 rankings as he jumps from #22 to the top 3.

Numbers are nice, but I think that writing quality is really the key to great genealogy blogging. In my blog list reading, I see a lot of great writing by bloggers not on the Top 25. This is one reason that I write the Best of the Genea-Blogs each week - to expose great writing and genealogy stories to more readers.

More genealogy blogs pop up all the time - I add 10 to 20 genea-blogs each week to my Bloglines list.

Who will be #1 next year? Who will be the big movers up or down the list? We'll see! Patience...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Best of the Genea-Blogs - March 29 - April 4, 2009

Several hundred genealogy and family history bloggers write thousands of posts every week about their research, their families, and their interests. I appreciate each one of them and their efforts.

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

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

* In Memorium - Patricia Ann (Wickliffe) O'Connor (1934-2009) by Patti Browning on the Consanguinity blog. Patti lost her cousin who helped her get started in genealogy and who shared her work with Patti. This is a beautiful tribute to someone special to Patti.

* Meet: The Educated Rabbit by Thomas MacEntee on The Graveyard Rabbit blog. Thomas interviews Sheri Fenley about her, um, "bunny" work in the cemetery, and quite a bit else. These two could be a comedy act, I think.

* Tech - Tombstone Tuesday: Look What We Found on the Web! by Denise Levenick on The Family Curator blog. Denise experiences an intentional act of genealogical kindness from Midge Frazel and really enjoys it. It's great to see geneabloggers working together! I wonder if Midge could help me ...

* How to Make Effective Use of Blogs in Your Research by Craig Manson on the Geneablogie blog. Craig discusses what blogs are good for, and how to use them. Wise words. When someone criticizes geneabloggers, they try to turn it into constructive work.

* Oh Yeah, I Went There: A Case for Genealogy 2.0 by Amy on the WeTree blog. Amy was at a Web 2.0 conference when she read the Duxbury post, and had very pertinent comments from a broader perspective. More wisdom.

* Women in Central and Eastern European Genealogy - 17th edition, Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy by M. Diane Rogers on the CanadaGenealogy, or, Jane's Your Aunt blog. This Carnival has five entries celebrating International Women's Day.

* The Challenge of Using Online Records by James Tanner on the Genealogy's Star blog. It's an interesting topic, and James does a nice job of illustrating why there is still no complete substitute for going places to look at original records.

* Finding 1861–1869 Names of Residents & Civil War Soldiers – Part Two - Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware & the District of Columbia by Leland Meitzler on the GenealogyBlog blog. This is the second in a series, and is a "keeper" to be saved and referred to. It was originally written by Bill Dollarhide.

* announces Ancestry Séance by the author of The Ancestry Insider blog. This was the best of the April Fool's Day humor posts. Well done, almost believable.

* 35 years ago… by the author of the Generations Gone By blog. Here is a first-person account of living through a big tornado. Scary stuff. There are things that happen in a moment...

* Stopping at a Country Graveyard on a Sunny April Day by Terry Thornton on the Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi blog. Terry stops by his own grave at the cemetery and enjoys the beauty, serenity and scents of the place. Terry writes so well...

* Friday From The Collectors - April 3 : Mary, Pirie and Teddy. Oh My! by Donna McClure on the Shades of the Departed blog. Donna does a wonderful job of figuring out the photographer who took one of her family photographs, and what he did with his life, complete with many footnotes. Well done!

* Delayed Birth Certificates by Gena Philibert Ortega on the Gena's Genealogy blog. Gena does a great job of describing what delayed birth certificates are and how to obtain them.

* THE 69TH CARNIVAL OF GENEALOGY: "WHAT IF...?" by Bill West on the West in New England blog. There were 14 entries in this Carnival of Genealogy who took the opportunity to consider how history, and their family, might have been different if "What If...?"

* Footnotes - How to Cite Sources In Blogs and Websites by Thomas MacEntee on the Bootcamp for Geneabloggers blog. Thomas provides step-by-step lessons for adding Footnotes to blog posts on different platforms.

* Follow The Yellow Brick Road! by footnoteMaven on the footnoteMaven blog. Here is the "how-to" guide for inserting footnote superscripts and footnotes into Blogger by the expert in footnoting.

* Weekend With Shades - Saturday - April 4: An Easter Story by Penelope Dreadful (Denise Levenick) on the Shades of the Departed blog. Penelope tells a story based on a photograph - well done!

* Genealogists in Glass Houses by Chris Dunham on The Genealogue blog. Chris scores a bullseye with this humorous analysis of Duxbury's work. It's nice to have Chris back to blogging again.

* Obituaries: Clues from beyond, Part 1 by Schelly Talalay Dardashti on the MyHeritage Genealogy Blog. Schelly provides a great example of analyzing an obituary and provides places to find them online. This post was dated 25 March, but came across my Bloglines yesterday for some reason.

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!

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here.