Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Good Genealogy Luck

It's Saturday Night - time for our weekly Genealogy Fun!

John Milton originally said "luck is the residue of design" (and Branch Rickey is often credited with the saying). However, the definition of "luck" is "the chance happening of fortunate or adverse events."

I saw a post on the Genealogy Insider blog by Diane Haddad about Ways I'm Genealogically Lucky. I thought to myself "old Rand, that would be a good SNGF topic." Thank you, Diane, for the idea:

Here's the directions (and would you all please follow the directions? Thankfully, these are easy to follow):

1) When have you had a dose of good genealogy luck? What document or resource did you find just by happenstance or chance? By being in the right place at the right time? By finding a family history treasure in your family's attic or basement? By finding a helpful document or reference without even looking for it?

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

Here's mine:

Read Treasures in the Closet for my extreme good luck after I thought that all family treasures had been found. This was certainly a case of being in the right place at the right time.

I'm still working my way through all of these items! I wonder where I put some of them? Hmmm, probably the file cabinet! I need to scan them and get them archived somewhere.

Using GenealogyBank - Post 5: Using Keyword Searches

In Using GenealogyBank - Post 1: Getting Started, I described the GenealogyBank subscription site and started a search. Using GenealogyBank - Post 2: Seeing Search Results, described and demonstrated how the results look and how to save them and print them. Post 3:More Navigation Options showed easy ways to navigate within the Historical Newspapers collection. In Post 4: More Databases, I demonstrated navigating to the other collections from the Search results page and we looked at the SSDI result.

In this post, I'm going to use the Keyword search fields to demonstrate using quotes around names, and excluding certain keywords.

On the opening Search screen, the user can input keywords into the Search field labelled "Include keywords to search." I input the name "Thomas Seaver" in quotes in the "Include keywords" field, as shown below:

There were 273 matches in all of the GenealogyBank databases:

I clicked on the "Historical Newspapers" collection and saw the first five matches. I decided to rank them by "Oldest items" so I chose that in the "Sort by" field and saw:

267 matches is a lot to go through. I was mainly interested in Thomas Seaver persons that did not reside in Boston or New Hampshire, so I went back to the Search box and added the terms [boston hampshire] in the "Exclude keywords from search" field, as shown below:

There were 132 matches in the Historical Newspaper collection, as shown below:

I clicked on the "Historical Newspaper" collection and saw the first five matches:

I noted that the fourth one on this list was a New Hampshire newspaper. Obviously, the term "Hampshire" did not appear on the page with the note about Thomas Seaver.

The user needs to be careful excluding certain words. For instance, since I excluded both Boston and Hampshire, I will not see matches that include counties named Hampshire, or persons named Boston.

The best use of the "Exclude keywords" feature is when the person is associated with a certain activity. If I had searched for "Tom Seaver" in the example above, I should have added "baseball" and "pitcher" to the Exclude Keyword field just to eliminate those matches, assuming I wasn't after my cousin, the Baseball Hall-of-Fame pitcher.

Sorting by "Oldest items" is very helpful to order things rather than reading every match presented in some haphazard order. The Search fields permit a year range for the matches to help narrow the search.

The best use of the "Include keywords" feature is to narrow the search to a specific name using the quote marks, and to add a place name to the search for persons with common surnames.

This completes my brief survey of the GenealogyBank commercial website. It has very useful resources in the Historical Newspapers, America's Obituaries, and Historical Papers collections. Many of these resources are unique to GenealogyBank - they are available in no other place on the Internet.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Interesting Maps

Most of the maps here are not exactly genealogy or family history, but these maps are, well, um, interesting. The blog is called Strange Maps...

Here is one map that is useful for understanding American population shifts:

footnoteMaven talks about genealogy blogging

footnoteMaven - The expert footnote creator, photo collector and world famous genealogy blogger speaks! Lisa Louise Cooke has featured fM on her latest podcast at Family History: Genealogy Made Easy.

The program summary for Genealogy Blogging Wisdom: Be Yourself - Everyone Else Is Already taken is on the Genealogy Gems News blog, the show notes are on Family History: Genealogy Made Easy. and the podcast with footnoteMaven's wit and wisdom is here on the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast site.

You do read footnoteMaven's blogs, don't you? Check out and for excellent genealogy blog reading! Put them in your reader. She is one of my very favorite genealogy bloggers. And one of my favorite persons!

Thank you, Lisa, for letting footnoteMaven's share her experience, wit and wisdom with the genealogy world.

Terry Thornton's Hill Country Blog is Back!

Terry Thornton has returned his Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi to its beautiful spot in the genea-blogosphere.

Terry says in his post WELCOME that:

"Welcome to Terry Thornton's HILL COUNTRY. Here you will find archival copies of more than 900 of the articles previously published at his retired blog, HILL COUNTRY OF MONROE COUNTY MISSISSIPPI."

Read all of Terry's post. If you don't know of Terry's work, then please spend some time reading his beautiful photo essays and descriptive articles about life in northeastern Mississippi. To see the Archives, use either the Search box on the left sidebar or click on Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi and scroll back in time.

I wish Terry well in all of his endeavors - writing, cooking, cemetery searching, loving, health, living, traveling. I hope that we see more of his efforts in some form or another.

Fact Lists in RootsMagic 4

When I posted Comparing Genealogy Software - RootsMagic 4 - Part 1, I mentioned that there were more "Events" in the GEDCOM upload of my Family Tree Maker 16 database than in the native file upload of the same database. I wondered why.

Bruce Buzbee, the creator of RootsMagic, commented on Facebook that:

"I'd be curious about this too, especially that big difference in the events. It looks like the GEDCOM contains a lot of events that RM doesn't see in the FTM file. If you go into Lists > Fact type list do you see any fact types in the GEDCOM import that aren't in the direct one?"

I spent awhile this morning trying to figure this all out using Bruce's guidance. I'm a bit more confused than I was before!

The native file upload to RootsMagic 4 has 80 Fact Types, while the GEDCOM upload has 71 Fact Types.

The Fact Types in the native upload file that are not in the GEDCOM upload are:

* Facts 1 through Fact 13 (0)
* Medical (0)

The Fact Types in the GEDCOM upload that are not in the native file upload are:

* Friends (6)
* Other- Begin (4)
* Partners (3)
* Single (2)
* Unknown - Begin (4)

The numbers in parentheses are the number of entries on the Fact List for those Fact Types.

The other Fact Types on the Fact Lists include:

* Adoption
* Alternate Names
* Ancestral File Number
* Annulment
* Baptism

* Bar Mitzvah
* Bas Mitzvah
* Birth
* Blessing
* Burial

* Caste
* Census
* Census (family)
* Christen
* Christen (family)

* Confirmation
* Cremation
* Death
* Degree
* Description

* Divorce
* Divorce filed
* Divorced
* DNA Test
* Education

* Election
* Emigration
* Engagement
* Excommunication
* First Communion

* Graduation
* Illness
* Immigration
* LDS Baptism
* LDS Confirmation

* LDS Endowment
* LDS Initiatory
* LDS Seal to parents
* LDS Seal to spouse
* Living

* Marriage
* Marriage Banns
* Marriage contract
* Marriage License
* Marriage Settlement

* Military
* Miscellaneous
* Mission
* Namesake
* Nationality

* Naturalization
* Occupation
* Ordination
* Probate
* Property

* Reference Number
* Religion
* Residence
* Residence (family)
* Retirement

* Separation
* Social Security Number
* SSN Issued
* Stillborn
* Title (Nobility)

* Will

I did not go through all of the Fact Types in each database to determine where the "extra" 40,000 "Events" were. I did go through the Facts that I thought might have high numbers, such as:

* Births - 594 pages in native FTM upload, 623 pages in GEDCOM upload
* Marriage - 430 pages in native FTM upload, 452 pages in GEDCOM upload
* Death - 317 pages in native FTM upload, 318 pages in GEDCOM upload

There are about 45 names on each page, so that accounts for about 2,300 in the difference of Events uploaded. The total number of Births, Marriages and Deaths for the native FTM upload is about 60,300 - which is more than the reported number of "Events." [Note that the number above assumes 45 persons per page of each Fact Type. If the assumption was 40 persons per page, the sum would be 53,640. I didn't count all of the names, and the Fact List doesn't count them either.]

This is not unique to RootsMagic - I noted that there was an even larger difference between the two different uploads for Family Tree Maker 2009!

Like I said, this only adds confusion to the question raised about the difference in the number of Events in the summary statistics between the two different uploads.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Comparing Genealogy Software - RootsMagic 4 - Part 1

One of the genealogy software programs I'm using is RootsMagic 4. In this series of posts, I will be comparing how RootsMagic 4 performs relative to What I Want in a Family Tree Program and relative to Family Tree Maker 2009 and to Legacy Family Tree 7.

My first test is to upload both a native FTM 16 file and a GEDCOM file to RootsMagic 4. I am using the same FTM 16 database, and a GEDCOM file created from it, to perform these tests.

RootsMagic 4 permits native file uploads from RootsMagic 1-3, Family Origins (Version 4 and later), Family Tree Maker (Version 2006 and earlier), Legacy Family Tree, Personal Ancestral File, and from a GEDCOM file. I uploaded the native FTM 16 file, the screen below summarizes the data file characteristics:

The file statistics showed:

* People = 38,420
* Families = 15,129
* Events = 55,379
* Places = 10,011
* Alternate Names = 151
* Sources = 301
* Citations = 5182
* Repositories = 83
* MultiMedia Items = 11
* MultiMedia Links = 11

This file took about 3 minutes to upload, and has a file size of 26,545 mb and the 11 media items have a total file size of 2.88 mb.

When I uploaded the GEDCOM created by the same FTM 16 database, the file statistics are:

* People = 38,420
* Families = 15,129
* Events = 95,538
* Places = 10,314
* Alternate Names = 150
* Sources = 304
* Citations = 5271
* Repositories = 0
* MultiMedia Items = 0
* MultiMedia Links = 0

This file took about 1 minute to upload, and has a file size of 30,533 mb and there are no media items.

Comparing this data to the others, I noted that:

* RootsMagic 4 provides much more file information - including places, alternate names, number of citations, number of repositories, etc.

* The number of individuals in each file is the same. The number of familes is slightly different between FTM 2009 (15,121) and RootsMagic 4 (15,129) and Legacy (15,129).

* The number of "Events" and "Places" is different for the two uploads to RootsMagic - I don't know why. I wonder if this is why the RootsMagic 4 file size is larger for the GEDCOM upload than for the native file upload.

* The number of sources (probably the "Master Sources") are different from the FTM 2009 count, but similar (but not exact) to the Legacy count.

* As with other programs, the GEDCOM upload does not bring multimedia items across from the first program.

* The RootsMagic file size is much smaller than the FTM 2009 and Legacy Family Tree file sizes.

I hope my readers didn't mind that I devoted today's blogging effort to these four posts. They will enable all of us to better understand what we are getting in our genealogy software.

Comparing Genealogy Software - Legacy Family Tree 7 - Part 1

One of the genealogy software programs I'm using is Legacy Family Tree 7. In this series of posts, I will be comparing how Legacy Family Tree 7 performs relative to What I Want in a Family Tree Program and relative to Family Tree Maker 2009 and to RootsMagic 4.

My first test is to upload both a native FTM 16 file (if possible) and a GEDCOM file to Legacy Family Tree. I am using the same FTM 16 database, and a GEDCOM file created from it, to perform these tests.

Legacy Family Tree 7 permits uploads from Personal Ancestral File Versions 2 through 5, Ancestral Quest Versions 2 and 3.x, and from a GEDCOM file. It cannot upload from a Family Tree Maker file.

I uploaded the GEDCOM, and the screen below summarizes the data file characteristics:

The Legacy Family Tree 7 file contains:

* 38,420 individuals
* 15,129 families
* 298 sources

The GEDCOM file took about 10 minutes to upload.

The Legacy Family Tree file is 76.964 mb in size in my computer file folders.

The number of families (15,129), and number of sources (298), in the Legacy Family Tree 7 file are different from the numbers found in the Family Tree Maker 2009 (15,121 and 1,466) file uploaded via GEDCOM. The number of Individuals is the same. Also, FTM 2009 indicated 1,466 sources, not 298. Hmmm, I wonder why the difference? I think that I have many more source citations than 1,466, but don't think that I have that many master sources. Obviously, FTM 16, FTM 2009 and Legacy Family Tree 7 are counting source things differently!

Because this was a GEDCOM file upload, any images that I had in my FTM 16 database did not import into the program.

Finally, the file size of the Legacy Family Tree 7 file (76.964 mb) is somewhat smaller than the Family Tree Maker 2009 file size (82.468 mb).
UPDATED 9 p.m. to change the number of families - I didn't read the number correctly on a small screen!

Comparing Genealogy Software - FTM 2009 Data - Part 2

In Comparing Genealogy Software - FTM 2009 Data - Part 1, I uploaded a native FTM 16 database into Family Tree Maker 2009.

For this post, I uploaded a GEDCOM of the same FTM 16 file into Family Tree Maker 2009. Here is the summary of the file statistics:

The file statistics given say:

* 38,420 individuals
* 15,121 families
* 120,931 records
* 1,466 sources
* 0 media items

The file took 4 minutes and 49 seconds to upload according to FTM 2009.

The FTM 2009 file size is 82.468 mb for the database, and the 0 media items are not included.

There are some interesting differences between the uploading of the native FTM 16 file and the GEDCOM file:

* The number of "records" for the native upload is 55,013 records, while for the GEDCOM upload it is 120,931. That is a big difference. I wonder why this happens? What are the added records? Are Records = Facts?
* The number of sources is slightly different - 1,472 vs. 1,466. Are these master sources, or source citations? I can't tell.
* The native upload for media items was 11, but was 0 for the GEDCOM upload. This is typical - a GEDCOM file won't upload media files, at least from FTM 16 to some other program.
* The time to upload the file was much shorter for the GEDCOM upload than the native file upload - about 16% of the native file time. I did not expect that large a difference.
* The FTM 2009 file size for the GEDCOM upload was lsightly smaller than for the native upload. I wonder why? Fewer sources? Fewer links to media items?

I hope someone who is working with FTM 2009 can explain these differences!

In the next post, we'll look at the FTM 16 to Legacy Family Tree 7 upload statistics.

Comparing Genealogy Software - FTM 2009 Data - Part 1

Astute readers of Genea-Musings know that I'm still working on selecting a preferred genealogy software program. I've narrowed my selection to Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree and RootsMagic because I have a Windows computer system and can really handle only three programs at once. I posted What I Want in a Family Tree Program a month ago in an effort to help me make my final selection. Trying to work my way down that list has been difficult - I put too much on the list, I fear. I needed a "standard database" to work with, so I selected the 38,420 person database I described in Putting it all together - Finally! I will use this database to upload to each program and report on the file statistics in each of the programs.

Some programs will permit a direct upload of the native FTM 16 file, and others require a GEDCOM file to upload. If possible, I will do it both ways just to see the differences.

I uploaded the native FTM 16 file (35,984 kb in file size, which includes the media items) into Family Tree Maker 2009. FTM 2009 can upload native files from Family Tree Maker (version 5 or later), Legacy, The Master Genealogist, Personal Ancestral File and GEDCOM files.

The FTM 2009 statistics screen showed:

* 38,420 individuals
* 15,121 families
* 55,013 records
* 1,472 sources
* 11 media items

The file took 24 minutes and 40 seconds to upload according to the FTM 2009 screen below:

The FTM 2009 file size is 82.715 mb for the database, and the 11 media items are in a separate directory with a total of 2.86 mb.

I will do a similar exercise for the GEDCOM file to FTM 2009 and then do the same exercises for Legacy 7 and RootsMagic 4 too.

UPDATED 11 a.m. to add the image.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Microfilm Scanning at the FHL and FHC

Several readers have commented or emailed me about the Microfilm Reader/Scanner/Printer setup at the San Diego Family History Center based on my comments in Finally! A Research Day.

I wrote a summary of "what it is" and "how to do it" in 2007 - you can read it at Microfilm Scanning at the FHC. They're using the same machines two years later, but I don't have a photo of the machine. I'll try to take one next time i'm there.

I also described the similar setup at the Family History Library (in Salt Lake City) in my post Checking out the Family History Library - Post 2 in January 2009. There is a photo of the microfilm scanner machine, but it's not the same setup as at the San Diego FHC.

Besides being modern, essentially paperless and quicker, the best thing about these machines is that they don't cost much to use ($1 per hour at the San Diego FHC - I spent $2 yesterday getting 91 images). The biggest drawback is that you need a relatively large USB flash drive - the 91 images I captured yesterday took up about 400 megabytes of storage - 3 to 5 mb each as 300 dpi TIF files. But they come out looking pretty good if the film is readable.

When I get home with my flash drive, I upload the images into my computer and rename them, then transcribe them at my convenience. Transcribing right from the images saves me the ink and paper of printing the images out.

When I transcribe these scanned documents, I use the handy device of side-by-side windows - one window for the image (in my photo program) and one window for the transcription program (I did the one today using IE7 in Blogger). Here is a screen shot with Blogger open (this post) on the left and the Isaac Lanfear image on the right:

I also do this type of thing when I'm transcribing into my genealogy software by using a top-and-bottom arrangement of windows.

Estate Papers of Isaac Lanfear - died 1851 in Jefferson County NY

Probate records, when they exist, are one of the best resources to prove relationships between parents and children, and perhaps siblings and grandchildren too.

What are probate records? See the article here for more information about Probate Records.

Each state has a different set of papers, but in Jefferson County in New York State, there are Surrogate Court record files for Wills, Letters of Administrations, Letters Testamentary, Minutes, orders and decrees, Estate Papers, etc. I think that most New York counties have a similar system.

Where do you find probate records? In paper format - at the county courthouse or a local or state archive. However, many pre-1920 probate records are on microfilm at the LDS Family History Library Catalog - you can see the Jefferson County NY Probate Records available on microfilm from the FHLC here.

I searched the Estate Papers microfilms for the first part of the L surnames yesterday, and found five files for the surnames Lamphear/Lanphere/Lanfear, etc. As an example of what can be found, here is a letter written by a son of Isaac Lanfear (only the first page shown):

The three-page letter transcribed is:

[Page 1]

Surrogates Court / County of Jefferson
In the matter of the
application for Letters
of Administration on the
Estate of Isaac
Lanfear late of Lorraine
in the County of Jefferson,

To James R.A. Per-
kins Esqr Surrogate of Jefferson County

The petition of
Latham Lanfear of the Town of Lorraine
in the County of Jefferson respectfully sheweth
that he is the eldest son & an heir at law
of Isaac Lanfear late of said town
deceased; that said Isaac Lanfear
died in said Town a natural death
in or about the 3d day of May
1851 - & died intestate as your petitioner
verily believes; that your petitioner has
made diligent search & enquiry for
a will of said deceased & has not
found any or obtained any infor-
mation that he left or ever made one;
that your petitioner has to the best of his
ability estimated & ascertained the value of
the personal property of which the said
deceased died possessed and that the
same does not exceed in value the
sum of three hundred

That said deceased left him
surviving kindred & children entitled
to his estate whose names and
places of residence are as follows, to wit:
Rosana Lanfear of Lorraine widow of the
deceased. Your petitioner & John Lanfear
sons of the deceased, both of Lorraine aforesaid.

[Page 2]

Anna Shelmedine, wife of William Shelmedine
of Lorraine. Malinda Lanfear & Sarah
Lanfear of Lorraine. Eleanor Loveland wife
of Lester Loveland of Rodman in the County
of Jefferson. Betsey Rose wife of Chester
C. Rose of the town of Brownsville in said
County; & Polly Muzzy wife of Nelson
Muzzy of Sandy Creek in the County
of Oswego. & also Susan Kellogg
wife of Orlando Kellogg of Lorraine
all daughters of deceased & all
now living except said Susan Kellogg
who is now deceased & left her survi-
ving two children, to wit, Harvey Orlando
Kellogg & Isaac Orlando Kellog, now
living with their father Orlando Kellogg
in Lorraine & grandchildren of the deceased
& both infants under fourteen years of
age & of about six or seven
years old & have not to the knowledge or
belief of your petitioner any general
guardian; that the above named
children of said deceased who are
now living are all & each over twenty
one years of age....
and are the only surviving children
of said deceased & the above named
grandchildren & children now surviving
with said widow are the only persons
entitled to share in the personal & real estate
of said deceased & now living.

That said deceased & intestate
at immediately previous to this time

[Page 3]

of his death was an inhabitant of
said County of Jefferson & had property
therein; that your petitioner is of full
age & that said Rosana Lanfear
widow of said deceased has renounced
her right & claim to letters of Administration
upon the estate of said deceased which
renunciation is hereunto annexed in
writing signed by her & the execution thereof
duly proves that said John Lanfear
who is equally with your petitioner en-
titled to Letters of Administration upon said
estate has also renounced & waived
all right thereto as appears in his written
renunciation thereof signed by him & duly
proven also hereto annexed; that your
petitioner is informed & believes that the
Surrogate of said County of Jefferson
has sole & exclusive power to grant letters
of Administration of the goods, chattels &
credits of said intestate.

Wherefore he prays that
in pursuance of the Statute in such
case made & provided and your
petitioner will ever pray &c

Dated September 6th 1853

/s/ Latham Lanfear

Source citation: Isaac Lanfear Estate Papers, New York Surrogate's Court (Jefferson County), Estate papers 1905-1945 (original records in Jefferson County Courthouse, Watertown, New York. Microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1967; 278 microfilm reels.); Case File L-67 (accessed on Family History Library US/CAN Film 0,527,037 (Box L 7-10 Cases, 60-104 1805-1900 by Randy Seaver on 21 July 2009).

Isn't that a great find for a descendant of Isaac Lanfear? It names all of his living children and their residences, and the husband and children of a deceased daughter.

In my case, I hoped against hope that it would name "Devier Lanfear the son of my deceased son ... Lanfear who was adopted by Ranslow Smith now residing in Wisconsin" but my hopes were dashed. Oh well.

My purposes in transcribing this Estate Paper and posting it on this blog are twofold:

1) As an example of the type of information a researcher can find in Probate Records

2) In case a descendant of Isaac Lanfear is searching for information about him that they can find this post in an online search.

This is also an excellent example of the type of record found in the Family History Library microfilms that will eventually be digitized and indexed by the Family Search Indexing project.

When records of this type are available online for searching, then many brickwall research problems will be solved. These records are available to researchers, but they are well hidden right now. It certainly seems that not too many researchers understand that they are available now or that they even exist.

Starting your Family Tree - Three Views

I was honored to be asked my advice for persons starting out in genealogy and family research by Bob Samil at Genoom (a family tree and social network site), which has a blog here.

They published their post today Starting Your Family Tree: Advice from the Pros with words of wisdom and experience from Dick Eastman, Debra Fleming and myself.

In retrospect, I should have added another sentence in the last paragraph to make the point that most genealogy resources, especially those that prove relationships like land and probate records, are still found in repositories in paper or microform. Oh well, I thought mine was too long as it was. Turns out it was comparable length to the other two.

What else would you have said? What advice would you give beginning genealogists, in one to three paragraphs? Tell me in Comments to the Genoom blog post, in Comments to this post, or in your own blog post.

Family Photographs - Post 65: Betty's Trike

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 loose pictures found in a box, probably from my grandfather's photo album, that I scanned during Scanfest in February:

I think that this picture dates from the 1922 to 1923 time frame. My mother was born in July 1919, and she looks like she is three or four years old in this picture. I really like this picture, because I have very few pictures of her smiling as a young girl.

I'm pretty sure that this picture was taken in front of the Carringer house at 2130 Fern Street in San Diego.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Finally! A Research Day

I actually ventured out of the Genea-Cave today to do some "real" genealogy research...

The San Diego FHC called about three weeks ago to tell me that I had two microfilms in the file drawer, and that they would be available until 1 August. I forgot, of course, with all of the excitement of Jamboree, Fourth of July, and Real Life (well, granddaughter visits).

So I went down there today lugging my bookbag with my Lamphier notebook in hand, and two trusty flash drives in my pocket (can't have too few megabytes free, you know).

I got the films out of the file, fired up the microfilm scanning machine, and went at it. The films were Estate Papers of Jefferson County probate records, for 1805-1900. I had found Lamphier/Lanphear/Lanfear/etc. entries in the index to these records back in March, and finally ordered them in mid-June.

These records were listed in an orderly fashion in the FHL Catalog - Film 0.527,035 had the index for the L names, and the Lamphier/etc. names were in Boxes L-6, L-7, L-8 and L-19. Boxes L-6 and L-7 were in Film 0,527,036 (Cases 17-59), and Box L-8 was in Film 0,527,037 (cases 60-104). I figured that these files were in alphabetical order on the microfilm...which was almost right.

When I loaded the first film, for Boxes L-6 and L-7, the first file was labelled L-17 for Herbert Loomis, and nine cases later there was L-26 was for Thomas Lynch, etc. I thought "what the heck?" and figured someone had stuffed the wrong film in the right film box. I was going to complain loudly to the desk, but thought I should look further on the film, and soon found that the label numbers were actually Case numbers and that the Box number was handwritten on the film. Names starting with LA were Cases L-27 and on. Crisis averted.

I had four names on my list for these two films:

* Allen Lanfear of Ellisburgh, died 1832, Case L-31.

* George N. Lanphear of Wilna, died 1870, Case L-47.

* Hiram Lanphear of Wilna, died 1862, Case L-52.

* Isaac Lanfear of Lorraine, died 1852 - Case L-67.

I finally found all of them. But I also found Jeremiah Lanphear of Wilna, Case L-46, who died 1862, and was not indexed correctly!

I copied 90 pages of Estate Papers to my flash drive to bring home and review.
After two hours, I ordered the Will Index (somehow I missed this when I reviewed the Estate Papers, Letters of Administration and Letters of Guardianship indexes) and came home.

When I got home, I transferred them to my hard drive, and renamed them, then read them. There is some great information in these Estate Paper files. Unfortunately, none of them mention my Devier Lamphier. Oh well.

I will post some of the information anyway because it may help some other Lamphier/Lanfear researchers. The list of heirs-at-law are really useful!

It was a fun day... I really need to order more films and do more research rather than mess around in online family trees and write boring blog posts. I need to update my master to-do list and actually pursue more research challenges if I want to publish books before I'm age 75.

Using GenealogyBank - Post 4: More Databases

In Using GenealogyBank - Post 1: Getting Started, I described the GenealogyBank subscription site and started a search. Using GenealogyBank - Post 2: Seeing Search Results, described and demonstrated how the results look and how to save them and print them. Post 3:More Navigation Options showed easy ways to navigate within the Historical Newspapers collection.

In this post, I'm going to use the Navigation links on the left side of the Search and Results screens to check out the other collections. The America's Obituaries matches for Thomas Seaver is shown below:

The state, date of publication and newspaper title are shown with the link to the obituary.

Clicking on the "Historical Books" link in the left frame produces one match:

There were 40 matches in the "Historical Documents" collection, and these are provided with 10 matches per page:

The Social Security Death Index is FREE for anybody on GenealogyBank - and they claim that it is updated weekly and is the most up-to-date SSDI available. There were 5 matches for Thomas Seaver:

I clicked on one of the SSDI entries, and saw this summary:

The SSDI results obtained are similar to other websites:

* Name
* Date of Birth
* Date of Death
* Age at Death
* Last Known Residence (including state, county, city, zip code, latitude, longitude)
* Social Security details (state issued, SS number)

The SSDI page has a helpful box in the middle of the page - it says "Continue Discovering Your Family's Past" with links to obituaries, historical newspapers and a search of all GenealogyBank databases. That's smart marketing!

My Favorite FREE Genealogy Resources

I posted yesterday about Miriam Midkiff's Forum article on Genealogy Wise titled Your Favorite Free (or Low-Cost) Genealogy Resources, but I didn't list any of my own favorites. Maybe that's why nobody responded to my post! I hope they responded to Miriam's.

Here are my Favorite FREE Genealogy Resources, based on my own research needs:

1) San Diego Family History Center computer center. This local FHC has FREE access to,,,, Godfrey Library,, and several other commercial databases. A genealogy researcher in San Diego can capture record images from all of these sites on their flash drive and use them in their research - all for FREE (except for the costs of getting down to the FHC in Mission Valley).

2) Carlsbad (CA) Georgina Cole Library. This public library has a wonderful collection of printed books and periodicals, plus the free access to Ancestry, Footnote, WorldVitalRecords, New England Ancestors, Heritage Quest Online, NewspaperARCHIVE, and several other commercial databases. This library is 43 miles away for me, so the travel cost is higher for me.

3) The FREE LDS FamilySearch site has their legacy databases - International Genealogical Index, Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, 1880 US Census, 1881 UK and Canada censuses, plus the Genealogy Research Guides, Family History Library Catalog, and more; the Record Search Pilot has all of the released Family Search Indexing projects, all for free access at home. More indexed and digitized databases are on the way over many years. The BYU Family History Archive is part of the FamilySearch "family" too. Family Search Labs is developing other FREE resources, including the Research Wiki.

4) This FREE site has some online record databases, including Death Indexes for Social Security, California, Kentucky, Maine and Texas. The WorldConnect family tree database is valuable, and has the same data as the Ancestry World Tree. Other valuable resources on Rootsweb are the Mailing List Archives and the Rootsweb/Ancestry Message Boards. hosts the Rootsweb sites without cost.

5) There is a separate web page for each state, and for each county in each state, all with transcribed and indexed information pertaining to the specific location. There are several different projects (e.g., USGenWeb Archives, Tombstone Transcription Project), all created and maintained by volunteers.

6) This site has some records in vital records, military, land, court and probate, biography and history, geography and reference categories.

7) Cyndi's List has the best organized collection of genealogy links on many subjects.

8) and These volunteer cemetery transcription and photograph websites are very useful.

9) Lorine Schulze has a fine collection of small databases and links to other free and commercial databases, concentrating on immigration, Canada and northeastern US states.

10) Joe Beine has collected links for free and commercial online death indexes. He also has pages for online Birth and Marriage indexes, Military Indexes, Emigration and Immigration List Indexes, Naturalization Indexes, German resources, and several more.

That's my Top Ten - what's yours? What "really great one" did I not list?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Susi Chats about Blogs, and more

My CVGS colleague, Susi Pentico, started a blog called Susi's Chatty Performances on Genealogy after being inspired at the Bloggers Summit at the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree. I promised her that I would ask my readers to visit her site. So, if the spirit moves you, please read Susi's blog and put her in your blog reader of choice.

Her most recent post is titled Thoughts on Genealogy Research Sites and she ponders:

* Are the many blogs being written and read messing us up - are they time-wasters?

* Would our time be better spent working on volunteer genealogy sites like and

My views include:

* Time management is the real issue here with blogs and other social networks. Some people read blogs using a Favorites or Bookmark system, others use a feed like Google Reader or Bloglines to organize their blog favorites and read them efficiently. I spent no more than 30 minutes a day reading the 508 blogs on my Bloglines list. There are probably 120 to 150 posts every day on my reader. On social network media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Genealogy Wise, I try to limit it to one or two visits a day - no more than 30 minutes total.

* Blogs have many roles - as a family history recorder (stories, photographs, diaries, documents, biographies, etc.) for relatives, a genealogy news broadcaster (press releases, commentary), database and website finder and tester (noting new or great databases and websites, demonstrating how to use them), commercial company interaction with customers, just to name a few. There is a place for all of these categories, and many more (I saw that Thomas just added over 80 categories of genealogy blogs at Geneabloggers!).

* Genealogy Blogs are, with two exceptions, totally free to read and comment upon. They provide an opportunity for every genealogist to share their research and their opinions - these opportunities used to be reserved for the elite genealogists that wrote and edited genealogy articles or columns. Blogs have democratized the discourse. They also provide a learning opportunity and proving ground for potential columnists and writers for traditional or online magazines.

* Blogs that don't post often, or are poorly written, or are offensive or wrong will quickly die off because nobody will read them. The voice of the blogger needs to be civil, constructively critical and accurate in order to gain the respect and attention of their readers.

* The emphasis back in the 1995 to 2005 time frame was on the volunteer sites like,, the Genforum message boards, the Rootsweb message boards and mailing lists. My observation is that the traffic and participation on many of these sites is way down - either they offer nothing new for users or new researchers are unaware of them. The message boards, in particular, are wonderful vehicles for finding distant cousins researching the same surname. The USGenWeb county boards seem stagnant, but that may be because they have collected just about everything that is available.

* I wonder if the diligence of FamilySearch and the commercial database websites (Ancestry, Footnote, WorldVitalRecords, GenealogyBank, NewEnglandAncestors, etc.) in providing indexed records in digital format has created a lethargy in both traditional and online genealogists. A counterpoint to this argument is that there are thousands of volunteer indexers working on Family Search Indexing and the Ancestry World Archives Project. Perhaps the volunteer efforts have just been oriented toward different projects.

* Like others, I have observed that the visitor count at local libraries and Family History Centers is way down from five to ten years ago. This is usually attributed to the myth that "it's all on the Internet now" that many of us hear or read about.

* Every genealogist has free will to do what they want in the time they devote to genealogical activities. I choose to blog, to read and learn, to network, to serve my local societies, to teach and present, to research online, at the FHC and at distant repositories, etc. I manage to fill a 60-hour week with all of these activities, plus my husbandly and grandfatherly duties. I do wish that I did more research and worked toward publishing my own ancestral books.

Well, I opined for awhile there, kind of in an organized stream of consciousness, eh? What do you think about these issues? Please tell me in comments or your own blog post, and please visit Susi's blog and comment on her thoughts too.

We're Related passes 50 Million Milestone, but ...

Have you read the press release from today concerning their We're Related application on Facebook? If not, Leland Meitzler has it in his post Surpassing 50 Million Users "We're Related" Proves Families are Popular on Facebook.

The basic claim is that there were 50 million Facebook members that have used the We're Related application, and they have posted over 300 million persons to the application. This is up from 15 million members back in January 2009.

I have written several times about We're Related, and none of it has been positive. My main complaint has been about the lack of a GEDCOM upload - at least they don't claim that "it's almost ready" anymore (like they did for over one year)!

I've tried to give it a good try, to the extent of loading by hand, one person at a time, back to my eight great-grandparents and my siblings and children. Plus some thumbnail images. has added more to the We're Related platform on Facebook, and I thought that I would show them to you, since nobody else has (not even We're Related)! Here is the opening screen when you manage to find the We're Related application (check your Applications icon in the lower left-hand corner of the Facebook screen):

There are four tabs on the top menu (with the green background) - Family Stream, Find Relatives, Add Relatives and My Trees.

The "Family Stream" screen above shows the Facebook Updates of myself and My Relatives (all four of them). There are four tabs on the "Family Stream" page - for Add Update, Add Photos, Add Link and Add Favorite.

I clicked on the "Add Photos" link and added several photographs:

That was pretty easy, although it took up to 60 seconds to upload a 500 kb photograph.

Here is the "My Trees" screen after clicking on the link from the top menu on the first screen above:

You can see that I've added birth and death dates and places, and thumbnail pictures, to my direct family line. Doing the ten additional people a few weeks ago took over one hour.

Despite all of the publicity that puts out, my opinion is still that this Facebook application is worthless to genealogists and to persons trying to connect to distant cousins. My reasons for saying this include:

* It is v-e-r-y- S---L---O---W to use. I get frustrated by slow...

* The site has no way to navigate to siblings or children - I added my children and siblings, but cannot see their information.

There is no GEDCOM upload capability - without this it is difficult to find any relative past great-grandparents.

* I don't know if I can see the Tree or Photos of My Relatives. I have only four "Relatives" in my "Family Stream, and they have, apparently, not added a Family Tree or photos to their We're Related page. If they have, then I cannot see their Tree or their photos. I could add more "Relatives" from my Facebook Friends, but I don't want to put them through the agony of trying to use this application.

* We're Related has added another feature - the user can add a Family Pet to their We're Related page. How dumb is that? What's next - best friends? Cars?

* I could find no way to search for persons in other Facebook users' Trees - I think that that would be one way to lead me to relatives so I could share information.

* The recent announcement says "With features like photo sharing along with ability to communicate, organize communication, and keep everything private to a desired list of family members, We're Related makes perfect sense for keeping family together and learning about loved ones." This apparently refers to the Family Stream items, including photos.

Am I missing something? Is my problem here that I don't have enough relatives that have added photos and trees? If so, then would some Facebook Friend please invite me to be their Relative so I can see their Family Stream and Tree items?

As I've pointed out before, the 50 million We're Related users and the 300 million persons in Family Trees works out to about 6 persons per tree. That is not very many, and is probably indicative of the difficulty in using the We're Related application on Facebook. My guess is that 90% of the We're Related users use it once and give up on it. Others, like me, keep coming back in hopes that it has improved capabilities.

Previous Genea-Musings posts on We're Related application can be found here.

Favorite Free (or Low Cost) Genealogy Resources

Miriam Robbins Midkiff, author of the Ancestories: Stories of My Ancestors blog, started a Forum discussion on Genealogy Wise over one week ago and it is still going strong with 97 responses (to date).

The title is Your Favorite Free (or Low-Cost) Genealogy Resources. There are lots of great genealogy resources listed here! Check it out!

Which leads to my real question: What are YOUR favorite free (or low-cost) genealogy resources? Tell Miriam in her Genealogy Wise forum article, or tell me in comments to this post, or write a blog post of your own about it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"FamilySearch - The Old, The New, The Future" with Ann Montgomery

The Saturday meeting of the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego featured Ann Montgomery on the subject of "FamilySearch - The Old, The New, and the Future." There were about 80 in attendance at this meeting, with about 20 guests. You can see the summary of her talk and her CV here.

Ann's presentation combined a Powerpoint introduction to FamilySearch with going online to demonstrate all of the links, menus and tabs on the home page. This worked well because of the excellent wi-fi- signal at UCSD in the classrooms. Ann is a former schoolteacher, and currently teaches genealogy classes, so she treated the audience like eager students ready to learn - with lots of interaction through hand raising and questions and answers.

1) For The Old, Ann went across the menu tabs with dropdown menus on the home page, plus the links on the home page below the search box. She noted that it takes only one or two clicks to get anywhere in the website. The Family History Lesson Series, the FamilySearch News Releases, the Family History Library Research Series, the African-American and Jewish Resource pages, and the recently added Family History Library Catalog lessons were highlighted. Several of these were "new" to me.

Ann spent some time in the Family History Library Catalog, and in the classic Advanced Search (IMHO that is really a misnomer!) databases - the IGI, Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, the transcribed census records, etc.

2) The New part of the talk was mostly concerned with the BYU Family History Archives collection, FamilySearch Indexing and the result of the indexing - the FamilySearch Record Search Pilot site. Only a few in the audience were involved in the Indexing project, and a significant portion of the audience was not aware of the Record Search site.

Ann mentioned New FamilySearch, but noted that Gary Hoffman had talked about it last month at the CGSSD meeting, so she didn't show much on the site.

3) The Future portion of the talk was about the projects in the FamilySearch Labs site. She said that FamilySearch Alpha will probably be the new "face" of FamilySearch - using the Search link there goes right to the Record Search Pilot site. There are Forums on the Labs site to discuss research and new FS, but you have to have a username. In the Research Wiki, she mentioned finding research articles, but not finding information about countries, states and counties - too bad, because it would have impressed many attendees (but then, many states and counties are not written up yet...).

Ann logged into the Family Tree portion of new FamilySearch and showed us around a bit, noting that it, like new FamilySearch, is available only to LDS members at this time. The Standard Finder was briefly shown (and noted that it is a place to get Geocoding information). She said something like "Life Browser would be wonderful but is not on the current agenda." The Pedigree Viewer can be used to see how pedigrees in new FamilySearch will be displayed. They have sample charts, or anybody can upload a GEDCOM file to see what their pedigree chart looks like (they don't keep the GEDCOM files).

All-in-all, Ann's talk was full of information and I know everybody at the meeting took home something useful from it.

Best of the Genea-Blogs - July 12-18, 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:

* Blog Content Theft – How To Deal With Splogs by Thomas MacEntee on the Geneabloggers blog. This is a real timely issue - Thomas has good ideas on how to deal with spam blogs that use your blog content.

* Tim's Report from Jamboree 2009 by Tim Cox on the California Genealogical Society and Library blog. Tim wrote from the exhibitor and Jamboree worker perspective and relates his experience at Jamboree. He shows off the iceberg chart again, too! I love that chart!

* A Report from Family History Kid’s Camp 2009 by Michael Melendez and Jean Hibben on the Eastman's Online Genealogical Newsletter blog. This is one of the events that set the 2009 SCGS Jamboree apart from other conferences. A tremendous effort made to ensure the future of genealogy.

* Researching, Blogging, Social Networking, and Finding Time by Greta Koehl on the Greta's Genealogy Bog blog. This article really struck home with this Geneaholic - are there really only 24 hours in a day? Read the comments too!

* The Twig That Knocked Down A Brick Wall by Lee Drew on the FamHist blog. Lee tells an excellent research story that is a good lesson for all researchers.

* How Grandpa Zeke Collected a Bounty on Himself by Craig Manson on the Geneablogie blog. Craig sure has interesting ancestors and research problems! I didn't know about the Civil War Bounties for slave enlistments.

* My Genealogy Heartbreak by Jennifer Eklund on the Genealogy Wise blog. Jennifer tells a sad story about family pictures, and the lives of her grandfather and his family too.

* How Genealogists Use Social Networking by Gena Philibert Ortega on the WorldVitalRecords Blog. Gena asked geneabloggers the question, and uses four examples to describe how they use social networking.

* The music question I can't answer by Jean Wilcox Hibben on the Circlemending blog. Jean provides resources for historical American music.

* Why Cloud Computing Makes Sense for Genealogy by Dick Eastman on the Eastman's Online Genealogical Newsletter blog. This is an extensive description of Genealogy and Cloud computing, with lists of pros and cons. The commenters make good points too.

* Top Secret FamilySearch Project by The Ancestry Insider on The Ancestry Insider blog. This is a review of a recent Ron Tanner talk about Source Centric Open Edit features on the LDS new FamilySearch Family Tree. Maybe.

* To Group or Not To Group, That is the Question... by Jasia on the Creative Gene blog. Jasia's question brought many excellent responses from bloggers who like the freedom of expression and lack of a formal organization, but still feel part of the group.

* Is A Lookup A Copyright Violation? by Thomas MacEntee on the Geneabloggers blog. Another great question, and some interesting answers.

* The Carnival's In town - Finally! by footnoteMaven on the Shades of the Departed blog. The theme for this Smile for the Camera carnival was "They Worked Hard for their Family." 31 writers contributed photos and descriptive material for this carnival.

* Five We Like: Another week of family history goodies by Larry Lehmer on the Passing It On blog. Larry lists some things he likes from the genealogy world.

* Sheri Goes To Samford - Sophomore Year - The End by Sheri Fenley on The Educated Genealogist blog. Sheri's humor is infectious, as is her zest for genealogy learning. She sure was busy at Samford!

* Carnival of Genealogy, 76th Edition by Jasia on the Creative Gene blog. This 76th Carnival of Genealogy has 23 entries on the topic of "How I spent my summer vacations."

* Canadian Genealogy Carnival - 5th Edition Favourite Canadian Vacations by Kathryn Lake on the Looking4Ancestors blog. There were six entries in this monthly Carnival - read them!

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 500 genealogy bloggers using Bloglines, but I still miss quite a few it seems.

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here.