Saturday, January 9, 2010

Blogger Day at 2010 invited a number of genealogy bloggers to attend their briefings in Provo, Utah this weekend. Information from the server farm and office tour, the presentations by Ancestry executives, and the dinners hosted by Ancestry is starting to be posted.

Leland Meitzler has the best summary so far, including some "hot off the press" new about future database plans - see Leland's post at Blogger’s Day 2010 at

Who attended this year? Leland's post has this list:

Dick Eastman - Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter
Thomas MacEntee -
Leland K. Meitzler -
The unknown blogger - The Ancestry Insider
Craig Manson -
Diane Haddad - The Genealogy Insider
Lisa Cooke - Genealogy Gems Podcast
Pat Richley-Erickson -
Kimberly Powell - Genealogy

Leland also posted a picture of this August, er, January, group.

I received several emails asking about why I wasn't included. I was invited early on by, but declined due to previous commitments. I had three major events this weekend here in San Diego - the SDGS Seminar featuring Jean Wilcox Hibben on Saturday, my daughter and grandgirls came on Saturday to visit, and publishing the CVGS newsletter on Sunday. Besides, it was 75 F here in San Diego, and about 30 F in Salt Lake City! I will be attending the NGS Conference in April and will be able to get some FHL time, and see all of the Ancestry folks and most of the bloggers who attended this Bloggers Day, then.

I look forward to seeing reports from all of the genealogy bloggers that attended the Bloggers Day events. I greatly appreciate the effort by to connect periodically with the genealogy community, including bloggers.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - What's Your Superpower?

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

Dean Richardson posted What’s Your Genealogical Superpower? on his Genlighten Blog - Genealogy Documented blog last week, along with a nifty picture of a young lady with a big S on her shirt flying (is that Dean's wife?). I thought Dean's question was a great one for SNGF - so your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to...

1) Answer the question: Do you have a genealogical “superpower”? (i.e., a unique research ability or technique that helps you track down records or assemble conclusions that others can’t?) If so, what is it?

2) Tell us about it in a blog post, a comment to this post, a comment to Dean's post, or a comment to this post on Facebook or Twitter.

3) If you have a picture of yourself in superpower mode, please show it to us!

Here's mine:

1) I think my "Superpower" is to analyze situations, do some research and come to conclusions about how the situation will affect me and my research. I enjoy analytical challenges - especially one involving numbers!

The recent "Who Is Mr. Seaver" series is a good example. I loved the challenge, dug right into the problem, and had the answer within two days of the first contact with my correspondent. I fleshed out all of the details later, but I knew that I had the right answer within 48 hours of the first contact. Of course, the results were all found online - I didn't have to go to a San Francisco society building or library to search in musty papers or books. If I had been unable to find the answer online, I would have done that too, but it would have taken more than 48 hours!

2) This post.

3) I don't have a picture of me flying around the Genealogy Cave (hmmm, you all know, of course, that the Genealogy Cave is really stacked up, so flying is well-nigh impossible, but you get the idea!). Maybe I can get my daughter to take a picture soon in "Thinker" pose with my "Geneaholic" shirt on.

Surname Saturday - OATLEY

On Surname Saturdays, I am posting family lines from my own ancestry. I am doing this in Ahnentafel order, and am up to number #23, who is Amy Frances Oatley (1826-<1870).

My ancestral line back to the first Jonathan Oatley is:

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)

10. Thomas Richmond (1848-1917)
11. Julia White (1848-1913)

22. Henry White (1844-1885)
23. Amy Frances Oatley, born 1826 in South Kingstown, Washington County, RI; died Bef. 1870 in Killingly, Windham County, CT. She married Henry Arnold White 30 June 1844 in Thompson, Windham County, CT. He was born 1824 in Glocester, Providence County, RI, and died 01 August 1885 in East Killingly, Windham County, CT. He was the son of Jonathan White and Miranda Wade.

46. Jonathan Oatley, born 07 July 1790 in South Kingstown, Washington County, RI; died 10 August 1872 in East Killingly, Windham County, CT. He married Amy Champlin 29 May 1813 in Exeter, Washington County, RI.
47. Amy Champlin, born March 1798 in South Kingston, Washington County, RI; died 08 February 1863 in East Killingly, Windham County, CT. She was the daughter of 94. Joseph Champlin and 95. Nancy Kenyon. Children of Jonathan Oatley and Amy Champlin are:
............ i. John Alfred Oatley (1815-1863); married 1839 Eliza A. Edson (1818-1854)
........... ii. Joseph H. Oatley (1816-1898); married 1838 Cynthia Taft (1815-1901).
............ iii. Almira O. Oatley (1817-1903); married 1840 Warren Taft (1817-1899)
............ iv. Nancy Oatley (1818-1892); married 1837 Ira Edson (1815-1895)
............ v. Lorenzo Dow Oatley (1821-1900); married married (1) 1844 Elizabeth Weatherhead (1829-1846); (2) Dolly Leavens Aldrich (1820-1887);
............ vi. Stephen Hazard Oatley (1822-1863); married Susan Maria Wood (1824-1890).
............ vii. William Henry Oatley (1824-1899); married (1) 1849 Sarah Ann Randall (1820-1859); married (2) 1863 Jennie W. Butts (1834-1874)
............ viii. Benedict Oatley (1825-1891); married 1845 Caroline Olive Mowry (1825-1926)
... 23 ... ix. Amy Frances Oatley (1826-<1870); married 1844 Henry Arnold White.
............ x. Jonathan Oatley (1828-1884); married 1849 Hannah Bishop (1823-1897)
............ xi. Mary Eliza Oatley (1831-1907); married 1849 Earl Wright Pray (1827-1901).
............ xii. Hannah H. Oatley (1832-1907); married 1849 Asahel Edwin Chase (1828-1874)
............ xiii. Olive F. Oatley (1836-1891); married 1856 Harris Olney Burton (1836-1897)
............ xiv. G. Whittier Oatley (1837-1837)

92. Joseph Oatley, born 17 July 1756 in South Kingstown, Washington County, RI; died 29 November 1815 in South Kingstown, Washington County, RI. He married Mary Hazard 29 January 1781 in South Kingstown, Washington County, RI.
93. Mary Hazard, born about 1764 in Newport, Newport County, RI; died 20 May 1857 in South Kingstown, Washington County, RI. She was the daughter of 186. Stephen Hazard and 187. Elizabeth Carpenter. Children of Joseph Oatley and Mary Hazard are:
............ i. Polly Oatley (1781-1796).
............ ii. Hannah Oatley (1783-????); married James Rodman Carpenter (1779-1865)
............ iii. Betsy Oatley (1786-????); married Jonathan Carpenter (1773-????)
............ iv. Nancy Oatley (1788-1873); married 1811 Jonathan Carpenter (1773-????)
... 46 .. v. Jonathan Oatley (1790-1872); married 1813 Amy Champlin.
............ vi. Joseph Oatley (1793-1883); married 1823 Eliza Wells (1801-1864)
............ vii. Stephen Oatley (1796-????); married Knox.
............ viii. Mary Oatley (1798-????); married 1816 Stephen Congdon (1797-????)
............ ix. Benedict Oatley (1800-1811).
............ x. Susan Oatley (1803-1895); married 1821 Davis Mumford.
............ xi. Rouse Oatley (1806-1812)

184. Benedict Oatley, born 25 December 1732 in South Kingstown, Washington County, RI; died 01 August 1821 in South Kingstown, Washington County, RI. He married Elizabeth "Betsy" Ladd 02 October 1755 in South Kingstown, Washington County, RI.
185, Elizabeth "Betsy" Ladd, born 09 July 1735 in Little Compton, Newport County, RI; died 27 November 1814 in South Kingstown, Washington County, RI. She was the daughter of 370. Joseph Ladd and 371. Lydia Gray. Children of Benedict Oatley and Elizabeth Ladd are:
.. 92 ... i. Joseph Oatley (1756-1815); married 1781 Mary Hazard.
............ ii. Rhoda Oatley (1758-????); married 1782 Holley Chappell (1759-1836)
............ iii. Abigail Oatley (1760-1831); married 1799 Benjamin Peckham (1773-1853)
............ iv. Susannah Oatley (1762-????).
............ v. Jonathan Oatley (1764-????).
............ vi. Lucy Oatley (1766-1814), married Hazard.
............ vii. Benedict Oatley (1773-1849); married Martha Carpenter (1778-1843)

368. Jonathan Oatley, born before 06 January 1688/89 in London, London, ENGLAND; died 03 September 1755 in South Kingstown, Washington County, RI. He married Deliverance before 1726, probably in RI.
369. Deliverance [--?--], died About 1734 in South Kingstown, Washington County, RI. Children of Jonathan Oatley and Deliverance are:
............ i. Samuel Oatley (1726-1794), married (1) Mary; married (2) 1771 Abigail Nichols
............ ii. Rebecca Oatley (1728-????), married 1745 Michael Champlin (1723-1786)
............ iii. Rhoda Oatley (1730-1757), married 1750 Ephraim Drake
.. 184 .. iv. Benedict Oatley (1732-1821), married 1755 Elizabeth "Betsy" Ladd.

I have been unable to determine the parents of Jonathan Oatley. If there are any Oatley cousins reading this with more information, I would appreciate hearing from you via email at

Friday, January 8, 2010

Who Is Mr. Seaver? - Post 3

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced the family history mystery presented to me by an email correspondent. Before I answered my correspondent the first time, I managed to find a reference to Euphemia Seaver, widow of L.B. Seaver, in an 1899 Los Angeles City Directory.

After sending the census and City Directory information to Marilyn, she responded with more family information that I posted in Part 2 of this series. Based on her information, I found more data and clues, but still didn't have a given name for the elusive L.B. Seaver.

After my second email to Marilyn, she provided even more fascinating family history information about Euphemia's life:

"Euphemia and William Marshall who came from Scotland had two living children. (in a census I see she had 4 but only two living). Louise was the elder born in 1859 and my grandfather, William Henry Marshall was the younger, born in 1863. They were both born in Calif. in the gold rush area. Their father was a carpenter and built a ferry across the American River to ferry the miners across. They lived in a log cabin on the banks of the river. A storm washed away the ferry and about that time they heard of the silver strike in Virginia City and moved there for a short time. I think it was about 1870 or close to it. The story goes that the miners started giving a pinch of gold or silver dust to touch Louise's pretty blond hair and they decided to have her leave and go to a convent school in California. (I think it was in Santa Clara.) Those dirty old miners you know. Soon after the family moved to San Francisco and that is where William Marshall went off on a ship that was to go around the horn. The ship was lost and Euphemia was widowed. Meanwhile Louise grew up and married young and had Frank (with Al McQueen) and then was divorced soon after and you found where she was living for a short time. I had noticed the Siever name in the household where she was lodging and wondered if there was any connection, but can't figure one by age etc. If E L. Siever is Euphemia where is her husband or who is he?"

That is the question, isn't it? Everything I've found to date in the census records, and one Los Angeles City Directory, does not put L.B. with Euphemia at a place and time. The family history information provided by Marilyn was invaluable in sorting out the identity of L.B. Seaver.

Further online research revealed the following bits of information:

1) A Google Search for "L.B. Seaver" uncovered an article that said "L.B. Seaver, Pioche" was a passenger that arrived overland on 9 October 1871 in Sacramento, California according to the Sacramento Daily Bee newspaper (accessed at

Recall that "L.B. Seever" was in BullionVille, Nevada (now a ghost town) as a miner in the 1870 census, so now he's arrived in California. Pioche is a town in Lincoln County, Nevada - on US 93 in eastern Nevada, northeast of Las Vegas, and closer to St. George, Utah - and is about ten miles away from BullionVille. I wonder if he traveled to Sacramento by stage coach or railroad?

2) The same Google Search turned up "L.B. Seaver, supt. Hackberry Mill and M. Co." under Hackberry, Mojave County, Arizona Territory in the book "The Handbook to Arizona" by Richard J. Hinton (Payot, Upham & Co., San Francisco, and American News Co., New York, 1878, accessed on Google Books) on page lviii. The book was published in 1878, but it is unclear when L.B. Seaver was a superintendent at this place in Arizona.

There are seven matches for "L.B. Seaver" in the California Digital Newspaper collection ( that indicate L.B. Seaver traveled all over the West in his mining superintendent activities. There are 31 matches for "Seaver L.B." in the CDNC database, most of them lists of shareholders in mining companies in Nevada.

3) has the San Francisco City Directories for 1862-1923 online, and a search revealed these entries:

* 1873: page 585: "Seaver, L.B., merchant, dwl 405 Kearny"
* 1877, page 775: "Seaver, L.B., mining superintendent, dwl 157 Seventh"
* 1879, page 784: "Seaver, Loran B., mill & mining superintendent, r 157 Seventh"
* 1880, page 814: "Seaver Loren B., mining superintendent, r 157 Seventh"
* 1881, page 845: "Seaver Lorin B. mining r 157 Seventh"
* 1883, page 937: "Seaver L B. mining superintendent, r 157 Seventh"
* 1884, page 980: "Seaver L.B. mining superintendent r 157 Seventh"

These entries are important, because they provide L.B.'s first name - Loren or Lorin. They also provide a residence at 157 Seventh in San Francisco, which is where his wife Euphemia, as "E.L. Siever," was enumerated as a lodger in the 1880 US Census. Lastly, his occupation deals with mining, which is consistent with the 1870 census entry.

There are years missing in the City Directory entries above. Where was L.B. Seaver? He may have been out on assignments or traveling when the City Directory enumerators came around. The Google Search data noted above indicates he was all over the West in the 1860 to 1880 time period.

4) A death notice for "Doran B. Seaver" appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper dated 12 November 1884, page 4 (accessed on It read:

"SEAVER -- In this city, November 10, Doran B. Seaver, a native of Massachusetts, aged 47 years, 11 months, and 25 days.

"Friends and acquaintances are respectfully invited to attend the funeral this day (Wednesday) at 2 o'clock, from the hall of Pacific council, O.C.F., 85 Eddy Street."

I was lucky to find this, because the newspaper spelled Loren's first name creatively... probably from word-of-mouth and a rush to publication deadline. And we now have a birthplace, a death date and an age at death. Age 47 years, 11 months, 25 days translates to a birth date of 16 November 1837.

5) I looked in my Family Tree Maker database for a Seaver person (I have about 4,000 of them) with a name starting with "L" born on or around that date, and found Loring Seaver, born 15 November 1837 in Westminster, Massachusetts to Isaac and Abigail (Gates) (Seaver) Seaver.
Abigail Seaver died 4 January 1867 in Westminster, Massachusetts, and her intestate probate record (in the Worcester County MA Probate Court files, Packet #52,857, accessed at Worcester (MA) Court House, also available on FHL Microfilm), with her husband Isaac Seaver as administrator, included "Loren B. Seavers (son of Austin, Nevada)" as one of the heirs.

Review of the book "History of Westminster, Massachusetts (first Named Narragansett No. 2) from the date of the Original Grant of the Township to the Present Time, 1728-1893, with a Biographic-Genealogical Register of its Principal Families" by William Sweetser Heywood, published 1893 (accessed on Google Books) shows (page 866 in the family genealogy section):

"50. Seaver, Loring B., b. Nov. 15, 1837. went Cal. and m.; no chn; died Nov. 10, 1884."

That matches the San Francisco data pretty well, doesn't it? One day off, which could be a math error.

There is no birth record for Loring/Loren Seaver in the Westminster, Massachusetts Vital Records "tan book" -- Systematic History Fund, Westminster: "Vital Records of Westminster, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849," (Worcester, Mass., F.P. Rice, 1908).

Loring Seaver, age 13, is in the 1850 US Census with his parents in Westminster, Worcester County, MA, and I can't find him in the 1860 US Census.

6) I still don't have a record that puts Loren B. Seaver with Euphemia (Kirk) (Marshall) Seaver, do I? And I still don't know Loren's middle name. But all of this data is very consistent, and there is no conflicting information.

My conclusion is that Loren B. Seaver (1837-1884), born in Westminster, Massachusetts, married Euphemia (Kirk) Marshall sometime before 1880, probably in San Francisco.

To find useful information, I just had to look in the right places. In this case, the San Francisco City Directories and newspaper entries provide enough clues to identify L.B. Seaver as Loren Seaver who resided at the same place as "E.L. Seaver" did in the 1880 census. And the information in those entries provided enough information to tie Loren B. Seaver to his parents, Isaac and Abgiail (Gates) (Seaver) Seaver. Having Abigial Seaver's probate record and the Westminster book data firmed up the conclusion nicely.

Why am I so interested in this man, Loren B. Seaver? Simply because he was a Seaver, but he was also a step-brother to my second great-grandfather, Isaac Seaver (1823-1901), whose parents were Benjamin and Abigail (Gates) Seaver. Yep - the same Abigail (Gates) Seaver who married Isaac Seaver (1802-1870) in 1832, the brother of her first husband Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825).

Note that all of this research was done in online resources. Research in San Francisco repositories may reveal much more information. Isn't it amazing just how much information can be found online now? When the LDS FamilySearch Indexing is completed (LOL), we will have even more online information.

My thanks to Marilyn for allowing me to post some of her family history information in this blog series. Her information was vital to solving the problem. What lessons have you learned from following my research in this case study? How can you apply those lessons learned to your own research?

Follow Friday - The Slovak Yankee

For Follow Friday, I've been trying to highlight genealogy-oriented blogs that inform me about research topics, the genealogy industry and help my own research.

This week, I want to put the spotlight on Martin Hollick who writes The Slovak Yankee blog - the byline says "a blog by a lifelong genealogist."

Martin lives in the Boston area, is a published genealogy writer, and is very familiar with NEHGS and other Boston-area repositories. He posts about his New England and Slovak ancestors - hence his blog name - and he posts about some of my ancestors, too! - we are distant cousins. I appreciate Martin's experience in and objective (and sometimes contrarian) views on genealogy and family history research.

Please go read The Slovak Yankee blog and put it in your RSS Reader.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Navigating the Census Databases

I've always felt like a ship waiting to go through the locks on a canal when I've wanted to "go back" to a former screen, or to another database, on I really hate using the "Back" button and waiting for the next page to load, and it's even worse when there are four "Back" button clicks.

I wrote about relieving some of my "Ancestry Frustration Level" in my post about using Michael John Neill's quick links here. That works fine if you want to go from one database to another -for example, from the 1930 census to the 1920 census.

I think I've finally figured out my "best practice" to navigate within a census Results list, or to quickly go to a database for another census year. Perhaps this is old hat to many of my readers, but if it helps someone else relieve their " Frustration Level," then it is worth the bandwidth.

My "best practice" way stays within the system and uses the same number of mouse clicks as using Michael Neill's web page. The "key" to this way is to customize your Home Page so that the Record Collections box is at the top right (so you don't have to scroll down the Home Page) - beside the Search Fields, as shown below:

If you want to change to another census database, or to another database collection, all you have to do is click on the "Home" tab if it is shown on the screen. Note that in all of these examples, I'm using the "Old Search" screens, which is still my user preference, and Internet Explorer 7 for this demo, so your experience may vary.

If I choose the 1930 US Census, from the link in the Record Collection box above, I can enter a name in the search field - I chose Last Name = "Seaver" and checked "Exact matches" (I almost always use Exact Matches too... a user preference):

Clicking on the orange "Search" button at the bottom of the Search Field (and I wish there was one on the top of the Search field...) takes me to the list of "Search Results" for my search parameters:

If I wanted to "Go Back" to do another search in this census, I can use my "Back" button once (left arrow) on my URL line, or I can scroll or use the "End" key to go to the Search fields at the bottom of this screen; I prefer the latter because it is one less page load! If I wanted to "Go Back" to work in another census, I can click my "Back" button two times to get to the "Home" Page, or click once on the "Home" tab on the Ancestry menu line. I prefer the latter! Note that if you click on the "Search" tab on the Ancestry menu line, you cannot easily change to another database.

If I choose one of the matches on the Search Results list above, I can click on the "View Record" link beside the name and see the Ancestry Record for the selected person. I scrolled down the list and selected Barbara C. Leaver, hit "View Record" and the Ancestry Record appeared:

Again, if I want to "Go Back" to the "Search Results" list, I can click the "Back" arrow once to select another person from the list or scroll to the bottom of that page to change the Search parameters; if I want to "Go Back" to work in another census, I can click my "Back" button three times or click once on the "Home" tab on the Ancestry menu line (but not the "Search" button on the Ancestry menu line).

If I want to see the actual Census record for my selected person, then I can click on the "View image" link on the screen above. Here is the 1930 census screen for the family with Barbara C. Leaver:

Note that there is now no "Home" or "Search" tab on the Ancestry menu. If I wanted to "Go Back" to work in another census, I can click my "Back" button four times or click once on the "" link at the top of the page (which takes me to the "Home" page). If I want to do another search within this census, I have to click my "Back" button two times to get to the "Search Results" page and enter new information into the search fields, or click "Back" three times to get to the Search field screen.

There is a slightly faster way (you still need two clicks, but you avoid one or more page loads), and that is to go to the little down-arrow next to the "Forward" button on your URL line and click on it. Here is what I see (note the dropdown menu in the upper left corner of the screen):

I can then select any previous web page in the list - if I want to modify my search, I can pick the one two pages down the list, or three pages down the list to get to the starting Search fields. If I want to go to the Home page, I can pick the one four pages down the list (as highlighted in the screen above). That's only two clicks and one page load, so it saves some time. Frankly, doing these things make me feel more efficient when I navigate the web pages.

Some of these tips work on other websites and databases, but the details will be somewhat different.

What little navigation tricks or tips do you have for navigating This old dog is always willing to learn new tricks!

Who Is Mr. Seaver? - Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced the family history mystery presented to me by an email correspondent. Before I answered my correspondent the first time, I managed to find a reference to Euphemia Seaver, widow of L.B. Seaver, in an 1899 Los Angeles City Directory.

I sent the census and City Directory information to Marilyn, and she responded with more family information:

"To tell you how the Seaver name came into being with Frank. Louise (Mary Louise, but she always went by Louise or Louisa, you know how names were) married a man named Alfred McQueen about 1878 and had Frank about a year later. They had a very bitter divorce. She first moved into a rooming house and then moved in with her mother and step-father who was the Seaver who we are trying to trace. Little Frank was a toddler and became known as the 'little boy in the Seaver house.' Later the neighbors called him 'the little Seaver boy.' When he entered school Louise McQueen (who later married James Atchison) enrolled him as Frank Seaver because she so hated Al McQueen who had had nothing to do with them. (I found him on the 1880 census back living with his parents.) So on the 1880 census Louise was a McQueen and so was Frank. Then of course there is no 1890 census and it really messes things up doesn't it? Like you I couldn't find Euphemia as either a Marshall or a Seaver on the 1880 census. I don't know why. I never knew her to live anywhere but California. So the Seaver name with my cousins is a 'taken' name."

Ah, there are a wealth of clues in that information!!! Thank you, Marilyn. She found them in the 1880 census. Family information often provides more information than any census or directory record, especially about family stories and relationships -- if they are recounted and handed down accurately.

1) Back to the 1880 U.S. Census - I found that the E.L. Siever family resided at 157 Seventh in San Francisco, San Francisco County, California (1880 U.S. Census, San Francisco County, California, San Francisco District 143, Page 364D, dwelling #76, Family #91, lines 3-6, accessed on, citing National Archives Microfilm Series T9, Roll 76):

* E.L. Siever - white, female, age 39, a lodger, married, born Scotland, parents born Scotland/Scotland
* Louisa McQueen - white, female, age 22, a lodger, married, born California, parents born Massachusetts/Scotland
* Harry Siever - white, male, age 17, lodger, single, an apprentice machinist, born California, parents born Massachusetts/Scotland
* Frank McQueen - white, male, age 1, single, born California, parents born California/California

Is "E.L. Siever" really Euphemia (Kirk) (Marshall) Seaver, wife of L.B. Seaver? Everything in this census record matches what Marilyn told me, except for the name of Harry Siever. He should be Harry Marshall, right? Unfortunately, since they are lodgers in this census, there are no relationships given. The data also match the 1900 to 1920 census data I reported in Part 1, except for the surname of Frank McQueen, which was Seaver.

My opinion is that Harry was listed as a Siever because the enumerator asked E.L., or somebody in the family: "who is in this family." E.L. may well have said "there's my daughter Louisa McQueen, my son Harry, and Louisa's little boy, Frank." Note also that the birthplace of Louisa and Harry's father is listed as "Massachusetts." Perhaps they asked Euphemia where her husband was born?

But where is L.B. Seaver? Completely missing from the 1880 census - at least I cannot find him!

2) What about the 1870 US census? I did find "L.B. Seever" resided in Bullionville, Lincoln County, Nevada. The listing showed (1870 U.S. Census, Lincoln County, Nevada, Bullion Ville township, Page 180, line 7, accessed on, citing National Archives Microfilm Series M593, Roll 834):

* L.B. Seever, age 35, male, white, a laborer, $100 in real property, $500 in personal property, born MA.

There is now more information about L.B. Seaver - born about 1835 in Massachusetts. That's helpful for other searches. Still don't find him in 1880! Had he died by then? However, Euphemia is listed as "married" not "widow" in the 1880 census.

I have been unable to find any census record for William and Euphemia Marshall, or their children Louisa and Henry/Harry Marshall.

3) In the 1860 U.S. Census, the Marshall family resided in Big Bar, El Dorado County, California (Page 754, Dwelling #1027, family #1499, accessed on, citing NARA Microfilm M653, Roll 58). The household included:

* M. Marshall - age 32, male, a miner, born Scotland
* Euphemia Marshall - age 19, female, house keeper, born Scotland
* Mary Louisa Marshall - age ??, female, born California
* Minnie Marshall - age 17, female, born Scotland
* Joseph Marshall - age 13, male, born Scotland
* Robert Marshall - age 20, male, miner, born Scotland

4) I still don't have any records that show L.B. Seaver residing with Euphemia (Kirk) (Marshall) Seaver, do I? And what is L.B. Seaver's first and middle names?

Stay tuned - he was hiding in plain sight, all I had to do was find the right information sources.

Treasure Chest Thursday - A Calling Card

It's Treasure Chest Thursday - time to open the musty old trunk and see what priceless memorabilia is hiding down below, or within, the bigger items. [Actually, I don't have a "musty old trunk" - I have a large cardboard box with all kinds of stuff in it, handed down from my great-grandparents to my grandparents to my mother to me.]

One of the "bigger items" was a county history book that has family items pasted on the pages. I've scanned some of the pages and then cropped some of the items. Here is an interesting calling card from the 1880's:

D.J. Smith (1839-1894) is my second great-grandfather, husband of Abbie (Vaux) Smith and father of my great grandmother, Della (Smith) Carringer. I've written extensively about D.J. Smith (Devier J. Smith, born Devier J. Lamphear) on this blog, since he is one of the ancestors that I have a treasure trove of memorabilia for, and has a mysterious parentage.

The card above identifies him as D.J. Smith of Concordia, Kansas, a member of an organization "Commandery No. 20, Clay Center." From other information, I know that Devier Smith resided in Cloud County, Kansas in the 1880 to 1885 time period.

What is that symbol in the upper left hand corner of the card? It says "In Hoc Signo Vinses." What does that mean, and whose symbol does it represent?

I Googled the saying and found that it means "By this sign thou shalt conquer" and was used by Knights Templar organizations and by Freemasonry organizations.

The Knights Templar entry states that:

"Predominantly in the United States the Knights Templar is the final order joined in the York Rite. Unlike other Masonic bodies which only require a belief in a Supreme Being regardless of religion, membership in the Knights Templar is open only to Christian Masons who have completed their Royal Arch and in some jurisdictions their Cryptic Degrees.[3]

"A local Knights Templar division is called a Commandery and operates under a state level Grand Commandery as well as The Grand Encampment of the United States. This is unique among Masonic bodies as most report to the state level alone."

I am woefully ignorant about these organizations, so these articles are helpful to my understanding.

The image I have above was taken from a photocopy of the page in the book. My guess is that the triangular area in the upper left corner was a red color. I'll have to check the actual card pasted into the book.

Until now, I was unaware that Devier J. Lamphear Smith was a member of any fraternal organization. This is one more little bit of "family history" to add to his biography! It's a nice Treasure Chest item!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Article Archives at

I'm sure that many New England researchers are aware of the Article Archives at the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) website, but I wasn't, even though I've been a member for more than 20 years.

While the databases on the NEHGS site are members-only, the Articles page in the Databases & Research category is FREE to everybody. The Articles page has links to collections of articles for:

* African American Family History
* Bible Records
* Canadian Family History
* Computer Genealogist
* Ethnic Research

* Family Health Histories
* Genealogy and Technology
* Genetics\DNA Research
* Getting Started in Genealogy
* Hot Topics

* Immigrants to New England: 1634 - 1635
* Manuscript Collections
* Mayflower Research
* Military Research
* NEXUS Archives

* Passenger Lists
* Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources

The list of all of the available articles - about 500 of them - is in the Articles Archive, in order of publication on the website.

There is a treasure trove of useful genealogical information here - from sketches of Pilgrim Village Ancestors (Plymouth colonists in The Great Migration Begins book series), articles from NEHGS publications like NEXUS and The Computer Genealogist, to how-to articles for different geographical areas, and much more.

My attention was drawn to it today by an article in the NEHGS eNews email newsletter in my Inbox this afternoon. The article mentioned was a 77 page article (more than half of it are sources and bibliography) titled "A Line from John Guild of Dedham to Wrentham, Massachusetts, and Beyond," by Helen Schatvet Ullmann, CGSM, FASG. John Guild is one of my immigrant ancestors, and this article provides excellent biographical information on him and one line of his descendants (not my specific line, unfortunately!) - much better than the Guild book published in 1887.

If you have New England ancestry, be sure to browse through this collection.

Who is Mr. Seaver? - Part 1

Everyone loves a good family history mystery, and occasionally I get a question via email asking for help with a Seaver mystery. Here is part of an email from Marilyn that I received several months ago:

"Sir, seeing the Seaver name on the computer interests us. One of our family married a Seaver in the 1800s (probably in the late 1870s). The name isn't common and we haven't been able to trace him or where he came from. He married a widow Euphemia (maiden name Kirk, born in Scotland and 1st married name Marshall, her first husband also from Scotland. Her first husband was lost on a ship going around the horn.) Her daughter came to live with them when she was divorced and brought her little son to live with them too. In time her son's name was changed to Seaver so that branch has been Seavers since then, but no one knows who the man's name is that it came from. Obviously he helped raise the child. I saw the LONG detailed list you have on the computer and can't get over how many Seavers there are. Do you have any idea how we could trace this unknown Seaver in our family?"

Aha - a mystery Seaver. Is the husband of Euphemia in my Seaver database posted in an Ancestry Member Tree or on my website? I looked in my database, and did not see a Euphemia married to a Seaver, so I probably don't have information about her, or her marriage, in my database.

Marilyn had provided some names, but few dates or places. The name "Euphemia" really stood out for me. Where could I find Euphemia (Kirk) (Marshall) Seaver? I started with the census records in 1920:

1) In the 1920 census, this family resided at 517 Ashbury Street in Assembly District 27 in San Francisco, California (Sheet 10A, ED 332, NARA Microfilm T625, Roll 142). The household included:

* James R. Atchison - head of household, male, white, age 59, married, born Illinois, father born Pennsylvania, mother born Ireland, an engineer, works in construction, rents home
* Louise M. Atchison - wife of head, female, white, age 58, married, born California, parents born Scotland
* Euphemia L. Seaver - mother-in-law, female, white, age 77, widow, born Scotland, parents born Scotland.

This is probably the Euphemia I'm looking for, and there is her daughter Louise married to an Atchison. Let's look in 1910:

2) In the 1910 census, this family resided at 519 Ashbury Street in Assembly District 37 of San Francisco, SF County, California (Sheet 10A, ED 176, NARA Microfilm T624, Roll 99). The household included:

* James R. Atchison - head of household, male, white, age 47, first marriage, married for 19 years, born Illinois, father born Scotland, mother born Ireland.
* Louise M. Atchison - wife of head, female, white, age 47, second marriage, married 19 years, 1 child born, 1 child living, born California, father born Scotland, mother born Ireland
* Euphemia L. Seaver - mother-in-law, female, white, age 67, widowed, 4 children born, 1 child living, born Scotland, parents born Scotland, immigrated in 1857.

More clues here - including the number of children, and how long Louise has been married to Mr. Atchison - they married in about 1891. Going back ten more years:

3) In the 1900 U.S. Census, this family resided at 836 East 6th Street in Ward 7 of Los Angeles city, Los Angeles County, California (Sheet 3A, ED 64, NARA Microfilm T623, Roll 90). The household included:

* James R. Atchison - head of household, white, male, born Jun 1860, age 39, married, for 10 years, born Illinois, father born PA, mother born ??, an engineer, works in a powerhouse, owns home with a mortgage.
* Louise M. Atchison - wife of head, white, female, born Feb 1861, age 39, married, for 10 years, 1 child born, 1 child living, born California, father and mother born in Scotland
* Frank L. Seaver - step-son, white, male, born Oct 1878, age 21, single, born CA, father and mother born CA, a machinist
* Euphemia Seaver - mother-in-law, white, female, born Mar 1843, age 57, a widow, 4 children born, 2 children living, born Scotland, father and mother born Scotland.

There is Frank L. Seaver, listed as a step-son of James Atchison - if that is correct, then Frank is the son of Louise, not of Euphemia. Birth months and years for all of them too, which can be useful in later searches. And the Atchisons married in about 1890, which corroborates the approximate 1910 date.

4) In the 1880 U.S. Census, I found no matches for a Euphemia as a Marshall or a Seaver, or Louise as a Marshall or a Seaver, or Frank as a Seaver or a Marshall. So now I'm stuck - where was Euphemia? Was she married by 1880? Is she listed with a first name that I cannot find? Is she living with her daughter and grandson? Do they have a surname other than Seaver or Marshall?

5) I put "Euphemia Seaver" in the search box, and found the Los Angeles City Directories available on

* 1899: Euphemia Seaver (widow L.B.), resident 836 East 6th St.
* 1899: Frank L. Seaver, machinist, Fulton Engineering, resident 836 East 6th St.

Aha - the first real clue! Euphemia Seaver was perhaps the widow of L.B. Seaver. Finally, a clue to a first and middle name. My Seaver database had one person with initials L.B. that might be Euphemia's late husband - a man named Loren B. Seaver, born in July 1848 in Vermont, but he had a wife Aranna and five children in the 1880 to 1910 census records, and resided in St. Johnsbury, Caledonia County, Vermont in the 1900 census (Page 164, ED 53, Sheet 4, Line 45, NARA Microfilm T623, Roll 1690). So - that couldn't be the L.B. that married Euphemia, unless he had two families on opposite sides of the country in the 1870 to 1900 time frame. Of course, my database had many males with first names starting with L born around the 1840 time frame - was L.B. Seaver one of them?

Now, this is a series, so please don't go running off to the census and other records to try to help me out here. There are a few more clues as to the identity of L.B. Seaver, and Marilyn has some interesting stories to tell - so stick around and enjoy the ride.

Genea-Musings Statistics for 2009 - Post 2

I posted Genea-Musings Statistics for 2009 - Post 1 yesterday with charts and numbers for visits, page views and RSS subscribers of this blog.

What did all of those visitors and readers read online? Google Analytics keeps a record of the web pages that the visitors to the URL looked at. The 20 most "popular" blog pages, based on all page views, were:

1. - 70,494 views (29.4% of all page views)

2. World records for number of children (posted 21 July 2006) - 5,474 views

3. John Tyler's Grandson is still alive! (posted 20 February 2007) - 1,876 views

4. How rare is your personality type? (posted 20 June 2007) - 1,853 views

5. Make Your Own Gravestone (posted 29 July 2007) - 1,750 views

6. Electronic Genealogy Magazine Publication (posted 22 April 2009) - 1,661 views

7. Family Tree Maker 2010 software - what? when? (posted 11 July 2009) - 1,448 views

8. Tombstone Tuesday - Nathaniel Grigsby (posted 19 May 2009 ) - 1,117 views

9. Are imaging services missing NARA records? (posted 5 January 2009) - 1,081 views

10. Family Tree Maker 2010 <=> Ancestry Member Tree Synchronization (posted 1 August 2009) - 1,029 views

11. More on and (posted 20 March 2009) - 907 views

12. FTM 2009 Source Citations - First Look (posted 5 February 2009) - 882 views

13. Online Historical Directories (posted 27 October 2009) - 787 views

14. My mtDNA is in the K Haplogroup (posted 30 September 2008) - 775 views

15. Family tree tattoos? (posted 10 January 2007) - 709 views

16. Searching Online for Genealogy Data (posted 18 May 2009) - 606 views

17. Ancestry and MyLife Public Records Index (posted 18 March 2009) - 592 views

18. Unindexed Databases on (posted 4 May 2009) - 571 views

19. Was Daniel Boone an Ancestor of Pat Boone? (posted 31 August 2007) - 550 views

20. Working in RootsMagic 4 - Summary of Posts (posted 27 April 2009) - 549 views

Six of these top 20 pages are "oldies but goodies" (numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 15 and 19) - posts that people find by using a search engine. The others are more recent posts, and the traffic for most of them peaks right after they are posted and dies down quickly.

For example, if you check the first graph on Post 1, you see that the most visits and page views occurred on 24 April 2009 (767 visits, 1,272 page views). The post Electronic Genealogy Magazine Publication had 602 visits on that day after the post was highlighted by Dick Eastman.

The key to getting high blog post visits and page views is to be linked to by another genealogy blogger, mentioned by a magazine article, or be listed in a Google Alert.

Like I said in an earlier post - I'm a "numbers guy."

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Family Photographs Post 87: In the Garden

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

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

This photograph was taken in about 1945, probably by my grandfather, Lyle L. Carringer. It was taken in the backyard garden area, perhaps in the greenhouse, of 2130 Fern Street in San Diego, where my grandparents lived. My grandmother, Emily (Auble) Carringer, was an accomplished horticulturalist and flower arranger during her lifetime.

Who is the little boy with a very cool looking chapeau? Well, that's little Randy Seaver toddling around smelling flowers and looking for bugs to watch. Isn't that a really great hat? I wonder where it went?

The backyard and greenhouse was a wonderful place for a little boy to play. It was safe and enclosed (the block I grew up on was between two busy streets), had a variety of things to watch and do (several ponds and bird baths, lots of plants and bushes to check out, plenty of bugs to catch, torture and release, birds to watch, and several cats to chase and pet.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Does Ancestry World Tree = WorldConnect Project?

Some people are surprised when I tell them that the Ancestry World Trees (which are FREE to view on for registered users) and the WorldConnect Project database on Rootsweb (which are FREE for anybody, no registration required) are the same database.

But are they exactly the same database? I wondered about that, when I noticed different totals of persons in the two different databases last night. Here is the screen shot from the Ancestry World Tree page in the Card Catalog:

The Ancestry World Tree is listed with 467,671,004 records. The page says:

"The Ancestry World Tree contains nearly 400 million names in family trees submitted by our users. The Ancestry World Tree is the largest collection of its kind on the Internet. "

Another set of numbers that don't match.

I decided to see how many Smiths were in this database, and found:

There are 4,617,751 Smith entries in the Ancestry World Tree database.

Okay - now I have two points for comparison.

Off to the WorldConnect Project database at Rootsweb - here's the start page:

The page above says that there are "More than 575 million names on file." Hmmm, that's different from the Ancestry World Tree number - I thought that they were the exact same database. I entered "Smith" in the Last Name field above to see how many Smith surname entries there are in the WorldConnect Project database.

Here is the search result for the "Smith" last name:

The screen above says that there are 4,617,751 entries for the Smith surname. That's the same exact number as were in the Ancestry World Tree. How could the two databases NOT be the same?

I did the same experiment with three other surnames, and got the exact same number for each in both the Ancestry World Tree database and the WorldConnect Project database on Rootsweb. So the numbers in the two databases are the same.

How many records are really in the two databases? The last screen above probably provides the right answer: 601,084,936 (it's above the search results just under the words "Rootsweb's WorldConnect Project Global Search").

Why don't the two WorldConnect Project numbers agree? Probably because the 575 million number is on a static web page, while the 601 million number is on a dynamic web page. Someone has to physically change the 575 million number, and they do occasionally.

So why don't the Ancestry World Tree and WorldConnect Project person numbers agree? Same reason - someone has to make a physically action to change the number in the Family Tree table on the Card Catalog page. Those record numbers must not be "dynamic" - meaning they change automatically when records are added.

So my curiosity is satisfied to some extent, although the consistency issue is there again.

How many family trees are in the Ancestry World Trees? The answer is shown on the WorldConnect Project page: 425,369. The average family tree size in the WorldConnect Project/Ancestry World Tree database is 1,413 persons. That's more than 10 times the average family tree size in the Ancestry Member Tree databases (assuming that the number on the Corporate page were correct - 1.1 billion records, 11 million tree).

Why do I care about this? Besides being a "numbers guy?" Well, the WorldConnect Project family tree collection is one of the most versatile family tree databases available, it's free, and it has a lot of people in the database. If the contributor of a database included notes and sources in their uploaded database, then those notes and sources are readable. Any user can obtain an Ahnentafel Report, Register Report, or Descendants List from a WorldConnect database. Yes - they are compiled family trees and many of them have erroneous data, and poor or no sources, but some of them are excellent records of ancestral research and can be used with the "it's a clue, but verify the information" proviso. When I have a new ancestor to search for, the WorldConnect Project is the first place I look for clues to parentage and lineage.

I find that the WorldConnect Project is much easier to use and seems much faster than Ancestry World Tree. I do wish that WorldConnect Project would return a list of more than 20 matches at a time, but perhaps that's why it's faster!

So the answer to my "Does Ancestry World Tree = WorldConnect Project?" is YES!

Genea-Musings Statistics for 2009 - Post 1

Being a "numbers guy," I can't resist checking out my blog statistics - number of visitors, page views, readers, etc. I use three services for this, Sitemeter, StatCounter and Google Analytics. They all give somewhat different numbers.

So how many readers does Genea-Musings have? It's really hard to tell! Here is the StatCounter report for Page Loads, Unique Visitors and Returning Visitors to the web site URL for 2009:

From the above graph, it appears that there were, on average, about 150 unique visitors, about 350 returning visitors, and about 750 page views every day.

How does that compare to years past? Here is the same graph from January 2007 to December 2009 - three years worth of data:

From these two graphs, the attentive reader can see that 2008 was a year of significant growth for Genea-Musings visitors and page views, and 2009 was a year of limited growth in visitors and page views.

Here is the same graph from Google Analytics for 2009 with Visits (blue line, right scale) and Page Views (orange line, left scale):

The Google Analytic statistics say:

*Total Number of Visits = 152,942 (average of 419 per day)

* Total Number of Page Views = 240,247 (average of 658 per day)

* Number of Unique Visitors = 84,112 (average of 230 per day).

Where do these people come from? The top 5 countries of visits come from:

* USA = 123,103 (80.5%
* Canada = 8,756 (5.7%)
* United Kingdom = 7,495 (4.9%)
* Australia - 2,658 (1.7%)
* (not set) - 864 (0.6%)

Of course, these numbers only measure those readers who click on a bookmark/favorite or a link on a web page or email to reach They don't measure the people who read this blog in an RSS feed. The numbers of persons subscribing to RSS feeds for this blog include:

* Google Reader = 103 (from my Blogger Dashboard page)
* Feedburner = 402 (today's counter) - many of these via email
* Bloglines = 144 (sum of six different feeds)

However, these don't include persons who read the blog on Facebook and other social media that publish posts on their site with my permission - I have over 600 "Friends" on Facebook, and some of them read my blog posts there without going to the URL or an RSS feed. Then there are the unauthorized copies of my posts on spam blogs...

The best estimate I can make is that an average of about 900 to 1,000 persons read Genea-Musings every day. Interestingly, the number who visit the URL is only 25 to 30% of that total.

I will post more information about the most popular blog posts during 2009, and the most popular search terms, in another post.

THANK YOU to all of you for reading my ramblings and musings. I try to stay on top of the genealogy news while performing my own research, furthering my genealogy education, and enjoying life. The opinions expressed on this blog are my own, based on my knowledge, experience, and the analysis tools at my disposal.

Tamura Jones' GeneAwards 2009

I am late in recognizing Tamura Jones' genealogy industry awards that he posted in GeneAwards 2009 on 30 December 2009 on his Modern Software Experience website.

These awards are important for the genealogy industry - they recognize accomplishments and provide an incentive to improve genealogy products.

Tamura's outlook is a bit different from many others in the genealogy industry - he seems to be objective and offers praise and constructive criticisms based on his technology background and research skills. I greatly respect his opinions and appreciate the efforts he makes to evaluate genealogy software, websites and products.

Tamura awarded the GeneAwards 2009 to:

*** Best Genealogy Product of 2009: RootsMagic 4

*** Best New Genealogy Product of 2009: 1911 Census
.......honourable mention: MyBlood

*** Best Genealogy Organisation of 2009: Footnote

*** Most Surprising Product of 2009: GenealogyCloud

*** Most Improved Product of 2009: RootsMagic
.......honourable mention: Behold

*** Worst Genealogy Product of 2009: MyHeritage Family Tree Builder 4.0
.......dishonourable mention: USA Surgeon General's My Family Health Portrait

*** Worst Genealogy Organisation of 2009: MyHeritage
.......dishonourable mention:
.......dishonourable mention: FamilySearch
.......dishonourable mention: FamilyLink

*** Vapourware 2009: GenSeek

Tamura has discussion of each award and the reasons for naming the recipients - read them at

He also awarded GeneaBlog Awards for 2009 here.

Note that Tamura Jones's website cannot be read by Internet Explorer browser users without a special fix (which I cannot find on his site now).

How Many People are in Member Trees?

I'm a "numbers" kind of guy - I love to know "how many," "how much," and "what's the most" or other types of numerical questions.

I was surprised tonight to look at the list Family Tree databases in their Card Catalog and see the entries for:

* Public Member Trees -- Record Count - 128,050
* Private Member Trees -- Record Count = 38,904

Huh? My recollection was that there were almost 1 billion names in these Member Tree databases submitted by diligent genealogists in order to share their family trees with other ancestor-hungry researchers.

Hmmm, I wonder how many there are of the top names in almost any database. I put "Smith" in the Last Name field of the Public Member Tree search box:

And saw that there were over 4 million "Smith" entries in the Public Member Tree database:

I put "John" in the First Name field of the Public Member Tree search box, and found that there were over 44 million in the database:

So there are at least 44 million, and probably closer to 800 million, persons in the Public Member Trees, and likely about 30% of that number in the Private Member Trees. The About corporate information page says "Over the past three years, our registered users have created over 11 million family trees containing more than 1.1 billion profiles."

How does come up with the "Record Count" values? Are they the number of Family Trees in the Member Trees system? Not likely, since they claim over 11 million trees. Are they the number of "profiles" in the Member Trees system (can't be, can it? Stupid question)? Is trying to hide the fact that the Member Trees system is one of, if not the largest, family tree system on the Internet? Frankly, that's makes no sense.

Just what is counting, and why are the numbers so low for these two databases?

One more numbers question - 1.1 billion profiles, 11 million family trees - so the average number of profiles in a Member Tree is only 100? For this genealogist with an extensively researched family tree (over 38,000 persons) - that doesn't compute either. But it may be that there are millions of Ancestry Member Trees with just two to ten profiles and they are "invisible" to those of us that use the database regularly.

Is all of this really important? In the larger picture - NO. They are "just numbers" but they don't make sense to this "numbers guy." But there is a consistency issue here - if "Records" = "Profiles" for the Member Trees (and they apparently do for the other family tree databases on the list), then the numbers should be about 700 times higher!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Teachable Moments in "Doing a Reasonably Exhaustive Search"

I received this information via email from reader Richard Aurand Sherer (whom I met at the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree last year), and he encouraged me to share it with you:

"I ran across something interesting during my research today and thought that, of all the bloggers I read, you might be the best one to share it with. I was researching a William Folckemmer and found his Civil War pension record at both and I've combined the two images into a collage, so you can see what I saw:

"The record contains the pensioner's wife/widow's name and two file dates. The image does not show the widow's name, but does show the pensioner's death date at the bottom. Both were useful to me: I had early found the 1880 census record for William with his wife, Ann, so the record confirmed that this probably was the right William. But I didn't know William's death date, so the record was also extremely valuable.

"The take-away from this is that researchers shouldn't be satisfied with just one source but need to keep looking for confirming evidence. That's a point that's often made, but it might be helpful to have a clear illustration like this to drive it home."

Thank you, Richard, for the excellent lesson in "doing a reasonably exhaustive search." The actual Civil War pension file will have all of that information and more, and should be obtained if this is an ancestral family. Unfortunately, these Civil War pension files have not been microfilmed or digitized yet, although is working on a small number of them with a longer term goal of digitizing and indexing all of them.

I was curious about the two databases, so I went and looked at the database citations and descriptions:

* National Archives and Records Administration. Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000. Original data: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. T288, 544 rolls.

Description: This database is an index to and images of pension cards of Civil War veterans in the United States. Each record includes the veteran's name and state in which he, or his dependents, filed the application. The digitized image of the index card itself, contains additional information on the individual, such as unit of service, date of filing, and application and certificate numbers for the pension case file housed at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington D.C.

* Publication Number: T289. Publication Title: Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900. Publisher: NARA

Short Description: NARA T289. Pension applications for service in the US Army between 1861 and 1917, grouped according to the units in which the veterans served.

So there are two different record collections of essentially the same persons but with somewhat different information. There are other teachable moments here - no genealogy database provider has every database in their collection, and not every NARA database has been microfilmed.

While I have only one Civil War veteran with a pension file in my ancestry (Isaac Seaver), I do quite a bit of database mining on my ongoing one-name studies (Seaver, Dill, Auble, Carringer, Vaux). This is an excellent tip for me! adds Wild Card Search Flexibility

Anne Mitchell posted Ancestry Search: Improved Wildcard flexibility on the blog today.

Researchers can now use the "*" (up to six letters) and "?" (for one letter) wild cards anywhere in the name fields. The rules include:

* Now you can put a wildcard first, such as *son or ?atthew to catch all of those crazy spellings and variations that our ancestors came up with.

* Either the first or last character must be a non-wildcard character. For example, Han* and *son are okay, but not *anso*

* Names must contain at least three non-wildcard characters. For example, Ha*n is okay, but not Ha*

Read all of Anne's post for more examples and contribute your own to the comments on the post.

This is an excellent improvement to the search capability. Of course, it won't find those hopelessly mangled names, or the hopelessly messed-up indexed entries, but it will help!

Genealogy Software Reviews - and Awards

I received this email yesterday from Louis Kessler, who owns the web site and is creating a new genealogy software program called Behold. Louis passed this information along about his web site and the User Choice Awards for genealogy software:


Winnipeg, Manitoba -- January 2, 2010 -- GenSoftReviews is a website that allows users of genealogy software to rate and review the programs they've used or tried. This allows others who are looking for programs to better compare and select software that will help them.The site is located at:

After just over a year of operation, 509 reviews have been submitted to GenSoftReviews. These include reviews of genealogy software for Windows, Mac, Unix, handheld and online programs. Many of these are full-featured programs to enter all your genealogy data, while some are GEDCOM utilities, website builders and other programs useful for genealogy.

The site collects ratings in five categories: Whether you enjoy using it, if you use it often, if it has easy input, useful output, and an overall rating. Then you can write a short review and list the program's biggest pro and biggest con.

Based on user ratings, all the programs with a user rating of 4 or more out of 5 and at least 10 reviews are being awarded a GenSoftReviews Users Choice Award.

The 2009 winners, ordered by highest rating are: RootsMagic, Legacy, The Next Generation, Brother's Keeper, Personal Ancestral File, Reunion, Family Tree Builder and GRAMPS. Complete results can be found at:

"The Genealogy community has really been making great use of the GenSoftReviews site. It's a great place to check out what others think of the program you're interested in before you buy" says Louis Kessler who developed and maintains the site. The Genealogy Software Review site is free to use and does not require registration.

###About Louis Kessler: Louis Kessler has been a genealogist and programmer for over 30 years. He has published newspaper articles on genealogy, given presentations on genealogy, and is Past President of a regional Heritage Center. He is the developer of the genealogy program known as Behold that can be found at

Contact Information -- Louis Kessler, 111 Wallingford Cres., Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3P 1L5; phone: (204) 488-2858; homep:; email:


Hmmm. Where is Family Tree Maker? There are many negative comments on the site about FTM since 2008. Are these negative comments warranted, or are they a backlash against Family Tree Maker (and because they modified the popular Family Tree Maker (up to Version 16)?

Also, I noted that there are very few (two?) reviews of RootsMagic since Version 4 was released early in 2009.

Thank you to Louis for the information, and I am glad to pass it along to my readers. Please go read the reviews from users at, and make some comments of your own if the spirit moves you.