Saturday, December 26, 2009

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

The challenge for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun was to tell:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - What did you get?

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

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

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

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

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

Surname Saturday - NEWTON

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

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

1. Randall J. Seaver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!

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

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Author Unknown

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

Treasure Chest Thursday - Aunt Gerry's Baptismal Certificate

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

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

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

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

Advent Calendar - Day 1: Christmas Eve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Merry Christmas!

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

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

From our home to yours,

We Wish You All a Very Merry Christmas!

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

Genealogy In Time website

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

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

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

Free genealogy articles and how-to guides.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advent Calendar - Day 2: Christmas and Sweetheart Memories

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

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

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

2) How did you spend your first Christmas together?

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Types and Number of Databases on

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

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

* 345 in Census and Voter Lists

* 1,003 in Birth, Marriage and Death

* 374 in Military

* 257 in Immigration and Emigration

* 9 in Family Trees

* 1,339 in Newspapers and Periodicals

* 1,431 in Member and Directory Lists

* 23,724 in Stories, Memories and Histories

* 380 in Court, Land, Wills and Financial

* 439 in Reference Materials and Finding Aids

* 22 in Pictures

* 33 in Maps, Atlases and Gazetteers

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

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

NARA Laguna Niguel Move to Perris CA

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

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

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

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

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

NARA has posted a notice about the move at

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

Advent Calendar - Day 3 - Christmas and Deceased Relatives

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

1) Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas?

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 21, 2009

Megan's List

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak has written Name Game: Celebrities Have Nothing on the Rest of Us on the Huffington Post blog. Yes - it has ... funny names from the census.

For instance - Prince Charming, Toothless Widow, Sacred Heart and Mustard Mustard. Read all of Megan's article - a nice list with many unique names.

Of course, funny names in the census are not new... check out:

1) Chris Dunham on The Genealogue has --

* Censuswhacking for Halloween
* Censuswhacking in England
* Yet More Censuswhacking
* Even More Censuswhacking
* More Censuswhacking
* Censuswhacking in America
* Censuswhacking and Other British Diversions

2) I have posted on Genea-Musings --

* What Were Their Parents Thinking?
* Census Whacking #1
* More Census Whacking - PG Rating
* More Census Whacking - Strange or Funny Names
* Census Whacking - Famous Names
* More Census Whacking - Strange but True Names
* "Different" Occupations in the 1880 Census
* More Christmas "Characters"
* Valentine Censuswhacking
* Funny Names in the Census - St. Patrick's Day Edition
* If Mary April Married Claude Fool...She Would be Mary April Fool!
* Berry People in the Census
* Census Whacking on St. Patrick's Day

Great - now I have more material for my Genealogy is Fun! Seriously! talk. Thanks, Megan!

Massachusetts Vital Record Books Online

Christine Sharbrough wrote Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850: Are they really? on The ProGenealogists Blog on Sunday. She described the collection of Massachusetts town books, many of them called the "Tan Books," which were created from whatever records were available from different towns in Massachusetts - town records, church records, personal records, probate records, cemetery records, etc.

ProGenealogists have created the Massachusetts Genealogy Databases web page with links to some of the town record books that are available online at free or commercial web sites. I counted records for 11 towns, which is about half of the total available in the "Tan Book" series. There are also some books online that are not in the "Tan Book" series, and there are some town vital record books that are not online due to recent publication and/or copyright restrictions.

While this list is very helpful, it is not complete. I hope that ProGenealogists will update it as they acquire more information about online Massachusetts town vital record books. For instance, there are online books available for:

* Vital records of Leominster, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849
* Vital records of Westminster, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849
* Vital records of Ashburnham, Massachusetts: to the end of the year 1849
* Vital records of West Boylston, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849
* Vital records of Warren [formerly Western], Massachusetts, to the year 1850

* Vital records of Framingham, Massachusetts, to the year 1850
* Vital records of Roxbury, Massachusetts to the end of the year 1849
* Vital records of Southborough, Massachusetts: to the end of the year 1849
* Vital records of Northborough, Massachusetts to the end of the year 1850
* Vital records of Marlborough, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849

Those are some of the ones I've found during my research endeavors - and I have ancestors in all of them but Warren, I believe. There are plenty more town vital record books available online that are not on the ProGenealogists list.

While looking for the town record books noted above, I ran across perhaps the most complete listing of the records available for each Massachusetts town on the Massachusetts Genealogy website at There are lists by county, by town, by record type, and much more. It looks like a fantastic resource for researchers with colonial Massachusetts ancestors.

So - a two-fer - I like the ProGenealogists list, and I like the Massachusetts Genealogy website too. Already favorites!

Advent Calendar - Day 4: Christmas Music

On the 4th Day of Christmas
My true love sang to me,
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
(in J-sharp, but with spirit!)

1) What songs did your family listen to during Christmas?

When I was a boy, we sang the traditional carols at school - Joy to the World, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Away in a Manger, Deck the Halls, The First Noel, Oh Come All Ye Faithful come to mind. So, as a child, I knew the tunes and the first stanza of each. These came in handy on Christmas Eve when we stayed at my grandparents house - she would come into the bedroom (no doubt my parents and grandfather were putting stuff together in the garage or living room) and we would sing together for quite a while before going to bed hoping that sugar plums would dance in our heads (a sugar plum? I'm sure I hoped for dreams of toys and fun things). I don't remember my parents singing Christmas carols, or popular Christmas songs, in the home.

After I was married and the girls came along, our house was filled with Christmas carols because they were always practicing for the King's Kids performances in church. We would often sing some carols and popular songs just before bed with them.

2) Did you ever go caroling?

As a boy, I never went caroling. Sing in public, who, me? Mr. J-sharp? Nope.

As a parent, we went several times with our kids as part of the church couples group. We usually got a list of shut-in families from the church office and would go around singing to them. Now, there is a yearly Christmas Carol event on a Sunday before Christmas (it was two Sundays ago - we didn't go this year).

3) Did you have a favorite song?

I think my favorite traditional Christmas carols are "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World." Of the newer carols, I love "Angels We Have Heard on High."

Of the popular Christmas songs, my tastes range from Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," "Winter Wonderland" and "Silver Bells" to Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and Elmo's "Grandma Got Run over By a Reindeer."

I like the "12 Days of Christmas" parodies too - see and hear them here (I've been waiting to slip that in somewhere).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

12 Days of a Genealogy Christmas

A genealogy oriented version of the Twelve Days of Christmas is available on the Internet - see Kimberly Powell's site at

I decided I would do my own based on using computer genealogy, my own needs and my own research:

On the 12th day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me --

Twelve Revolutionary War pension files with the Family Bible -pages included (12)

Eleven passenger lists clearly written (22)

Ten WorldConnect entries of elusive ancestors (30)

Nine message board postings from distant cousins (36)

Eight probate files (40)

Seven census pages (42)

Six deed abstracts (42)

Five newspaper obituaries (40)

Four marriage records (36)

Three family Bibles (30)

Two draft card images (22)

And a new name in my family tree. (12)

I've put the total number in parenthesis of each item - if you sing the song all the way through, going one number at a time.

My true love is a busy girl, isn't she?

But, but, but ... that would take all the fun out of the ancestor search, wouldn't it?

Best of the Genea-Blogs - December 13-19, 2009

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

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

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

* State Census Records Online by Miriam Midkiff on the Ancestories: Stories of my Ancestors blog. Miriam listed the states with state census records, the years available, and the online web sites that have them (if any). Excellent finding aid!

* Working with the Federal Population Schedules by "TGblogger" on the Blog of a Genealogist in Training. Persistence and a bit of help from an ED finder paid off for TGblogger - she found her target family in the 1900 census. An outstanding example of census research - and typical of maybe 10% to 20% of the population enumerated.

* SNGF: Dream Database by Taneya Koone on Taneya's Genealogy Blog. Taneya summarizes last week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun submissions, but then provides the wonderful example of making those dreams come true. Well done, Taneya!

* Newspaper Research by Robyn on the Reclaiming Kin blog. What a great collection of newspaper clippings that Robyn has posted. They are examples of what can be found in local newspapers all over the country. Not all are online!

* 10 top new genealogy resources online in 2009 by John Reid on the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog. John put this list together of Canadian and British Isles resources - a keeper!

* A Lesson in Writing a Narrative Family History by Lynn Palermo on The Armchair Genealogist blog. Lynn has helpful advice on the subject, obviously from her experience.

* It's All a Memory Now.... by Terri Kallio on The Ties That Bind blog. Terri wrote a beautiful tribute to her late husband - thank you, Terri, for sharing your memories, and we mourn your loss.

* Canadian Genealogy Carnival 7th Edition by Kathryn Lake on the LOOKING4ANCESTORS blog. There were three submissions to this Carousel edition of the Canadian Genealogy carnival, but they are good ones!

* A MOMENT OF SANITY by Bill West on the West in New England blog. Bill had an encounter with a customer in his bookstore that ended with satisfaction for both of them. A small event in a hectic day that both will remember.

* My Favorite Christmas Carol by Thomas MacEntee on the Destination: Austin Family blog. Thomas sings a little ditty for the Choir of Genea-Angels, and it is, um, unique. Funny too. Priceless, in fact. Is it viral yet on YouTube?

* Cemetery Inventories and Find A Grave by Denise Olson in her Tech T.I.P. column in the Online Graveyard Rabbit Journal blog. Denise discusses submitting cemetery inventories to Find-a-Grave using an Excel spreadsheet to organize the entries.

* Carnival of Genealogy, 86th Edition by Jasia on the Creative Gene blog. This Carnival had two themes - "The Other December Events" (birthdays and anniversaries) and "Our Wish Lists for Genea-Santa". There were 17 and 22 entries, respectively, for the two themes.

* Saw Dust and Dark Holes by Lee Drew on the FamHist blog. Lee tells a fascinating story about ice and his great-grandfather's business of providing it in the 1800s without refrigeration.

* The Carnival's In Town by footnoteMaven on the Shades of the Departed blog. The topic for the 19th edition of the "Smile for the Camera" carnival was "Gift" and had a record 62 entries.

* The Discussion about Standards, Certification, Maturity, etc.: Useful or Divisive? Elitist Envy or Intellectual Inevitability? by Craig Manson on the Geneablogie blog. This is Part I of a courtroom drama - well done, and the readers can hardly wait for the sequels!

* Furthering the discussion on certification by James Tanner on the Genealogy's Star blog. James follows up on Craig's post with summations and comments about expertise.

* Weekly Genealogy Picks by John Newmark on the Transylvanian Dutch blog. John's list of good genea-blog readings!

* Weekly Rewind by Apple on the Apple's Tree blog. Apple's weekly summary of her activity, including favorite blog posts.

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

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here.

UPDATED 9 p.m. Added the Shades of the Departed carnival post, which I missed in my Bloglines review during the week. sorry, fM!

Advent Calendar - Day 5: Religious Services

On the 5th Day of Christmas,
my true love reminded me
Of the reason for the season.

1) Did your family attend religious services together during the Christmas season?

As a child, my family did not attend any religious services. Neither of my parents had a religious tradition, although we boys were baptized. My brother Stan and I attended the Presbyterian church two blocks down 30th Street when we were young teens, but I don't recall Christmas traditions.

Linda and I married in and joined the Chula Vista Presbyterian Church in 1970, and have been members, and have served as elder and deacon, ever since. We have always attended religious services at Christmas, and participated in them as I noted in the Arts post.

When the girls were young, we would usually attend the Family Christmas Eve service (usually at 6 or 7 PM) with the Christmas Story and Christmas carols (and sometimes I was a wise man in a tableau). After the girls left home, we usually attended either the family service or the late evening communion service which was more solemn.

Now that our girls have families, we are not always at home - usually we are at one of their homes to celebrate Christmas.

2) What were the customs and traditions involved?

The really outstanding (literally, as you'll understand!) tradition, in my mind, is the parade of parishioners with lighted candles proceeding, after the service, from the sanctuary outside to gather around the cross, and singing Silent Night until everyone has gathered around the cross. Initially, the cross was in the patio next to the sanctuary, but now it's down in the parking lot in the center of a traffic circle. It is usually cold (for Chula Vista, that means the 40s or 50s) on Christmas Eve, but rarely wet, so everybody is in their Christmas finery and coats. After the song ends, the pastor gives a benediction, and everybody hugs and wishes "Merry Christmas" to their friends and colleagues. It is a solemn, mystical and inspirational end to the evening.

It was usually the highlight to my Christmas season... well, except for the excitement of Christmas Day watching the little ones discover gifts and trying them out.