Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - It's Fun Day!

It's Saturday Night - time for Genealogy Fun!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  When was the last time you had Genealogy Fun?  It could be research, conferences, a society meeting, or just talking with friends about your research, a favorite trip, etc.

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

Here's mine:

I'm at the Escondido Family History Fair today.  We just heard the Keynote address by Diane C. Loosle of FamilySearch - she spoke on "FamilySearch and the Community - Working together to help each other."  It was inspirational and informative.  Diane touched on many aspects of the updated FamilySearch site.  One of the best examples of "working together" in her presentation was how geese in flight help each other -- by flying in a V formation, they get 71% better range, they honk to support the leader, and the leader can fall back and another goose can take the lead. 

Speakers today at the Fair include Gena Ortega, Jean Wilcox Hibben, Nancy Carlberg, Barbara Renick, Debby Horton, Tom Underhill, Alice Volkert, and several others.

I carpooled the 35 miles from Chula Vista to Escondido - we had 11 in three cars.  There are at least 12 other Chula Vista Genealogical Society members at the Fair - that's 23 out of a membership of 120 or so.  Several of the CVGS attendees are new members this past year.  CVGS has a display table with handouts, books and articles written by CVGS members.  I will have some pictures in the near future of some of the display tables.

Surname Saturday - CARPENTER (England > Massachusetts > Rhode Island)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week. I am up to number 187,  who is Elizabeth CARPENTER (1741- ????), one of my 5th-great-grandmothers. [Note: The 5th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts] 

My ancestral line back through five generations of CARPENTER families is:

1.  Randall Jeffrey Seaver (1943-....)
2.  Frederick Walton Seaver (1911-1983)
3.  Betty Virginia Carringer (1919-2002)
4.  Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942)
5.  Alma Bessie Richmond (1882-1962)
10.  Thomas Richmond (1848-1917)
11.  Julia White (1848-1912)

22.  Henry Arnold White (1824-1885)
23.  Amy Frances Oatley (1826-before 1870)

46.  Jonathan Oatley (1790-1872)
47.  Amy Champlin (1798-1865)

92.  Joseph Oatley (1756-1815)
93.  Mary Hazard (1765-1857)
186. Stephen Hazard, born about 1730 in North Kingstown, Washington, Rhode Island, United States; died 24 October 1804 in North Kingstown, Washington, Rhode Island, United States. He was the son of 372. Thomas Hazard and 373. Hannah Slocum. He married  about 1760 in Rhode Island, United States.
187. Elizabeth Carpenter, born 02 October 1741 in South Kingstown, Washington, Rhode Island, United States.

Children of Stephen Hazard and Elizabeth Carpenter are:  Thomas Hazard (1760-????); Mary Hazard (1765-1857); Martha Hazard (1767-????); Rouse Hazard (1767-????); Sarah Hazard (1775-????); Elizabeth Hazard (1775-????); Elizabeth Hazard (1783-1870).

374. Daniel Carpenter, born 18 December 1712 in Westerly, Washington, Rhode Island, United States; died in . He married 29 April 1733 in North Kingstown, Washington, Rhode Island, United States.
375. Renewed Smith, born 08 May 1717 in North Kingstown, Washington, Rhode Island, United States; died in . She was the daughter of 750. Ephraim Smith and 751. Margaret Pearce.

Children of Daniel Carpenter and Renewed Smith are: Jeremiah Carpenter (1734-????); Sarah Carpenter (1736-????); Jonathan Carpenter (1739-????); Elizabeth Carpenter (1741-????); Daniel Carpenter (1744-????); Renewed Carpenter (1746-1810); Margaret Carpenter (1749-????); Mercy Carpenter (1752-????); Hannah Carpenter (1754-????); James Carpenter (1756-????); Mary Carpenter (1759-1823); Stephen Carpenter (1763-1835).

748. Solomon Carpenter, born 23 December 1677 in Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, United States; died before 08 October 1750 in South Kingstown, Washington, Rhode Island, United States. He married  about 1702 in probably South Kingstown, Washington, Rhode Island, United States.
749. Elizabeth Tefft, born 29 September 1687 in Kingstown, Washington, Rhode Island, United States; died before 1750 in South Kingstown, Washington, Rhode Island, United States. She was the daughter of 1498. Samuel Tefft and 1499. Elizabeth Jenckes.

Children of Solomon Carpenter and Elizabeth Tefft are: Elizabeth Carpenter (1703-????); Solomon Carpenter (1706-1743); Joseph Carpenter (1708-????); Daniel Carpenter (1712-????); Samuel Carpenter (1714-????); Sarah Carpenter (1716-????).

1496. Samuel Carpenter, born about 1638 in probably Weymouth, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States; died 20 February 1683 in Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, United States.  He married 25 May 1660 in Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, United States.
1497. Sarah Redway, born about 1642 in probably Hingham, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States; died 15 July 1717 in Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, United States. She was the daughter of 2994. James Redway.

Children of Samuel Carpenter and Sarah Redway are:  Samuel Carpenter (1661-1737); Sarah Carpenter (1663-1748); Abiah Carpenter (1665-1732); James Carpenter (1668-1758); Jacob Carpenter (1670-1693); Jonathan Carpenter (1672-1732); David Carpenter (1675-1701); Solomon Carpenter (1677-1750); Zachariah Carpenter (1680-1718); Abraham Carpenter (1682-1758).

2992. William Carpenter, born Bef. 23 May 1605 in Shalbourne, Wiltshire, England; died 07 February 1659 in Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, United States. He was the son of 5984. William Carpenter and 5985. Alice. He married 28 April 1625 in Shalbourne, Wiltshire, England.
2993. Abigail Briant, born Bef. 27 May 1604 in Shalbourne, Wiltshire, England; died 22 February 1687 in Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, United States. She was the daughter of 5986. John Briant and 5987. Alice.

Children of William Carpenter and Abigail Briant are: John Carpenter (1626-1695); Abigail Carpenter (1629-1710); William Carpenter (1631-1703); Joseph Carpenter (1634-1675); Samuel Carpenter (1637-1637); Samuel Carpenter (1638-1683); Hannah Carpenter (1640-1673); Abiah Carpenter (1643-1689).

Several books and journal articles have been written that discuss the
English ancestry and biography of William Carpenter, the settler of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, including:

1)  Charles Lorain Carpenter, The Descendants of William Carpenter, Rehoboth, Bristol County, Massachusetts, 1988.

2)  Eugene Cole Zubrinsky, "The Family of William Carpenter2 of Rehoboth, Mass.", The American Genealogist, Vol. 70 no 4, p 193ff.

3)  Eugene Cole Zubrinsky, "William Carpenter (William1) of Rehoboth, Massachusetts," published online (, revised 23 January 2009. 

The Carpenter book and the Zubrinsky articles don't agree on the parents of William Carpenter, the immigrant.  The Zubrinsky work is the most authoritative, I believe.

Friday, March 4, 2011

GenerationStation - Adding Family Members

I've spent some time the last two days adding some of my ancestral families to the GenerationStation, and want to share some of my experiences.  I started with my maternal grandparents, Lyle L. and Emily (Kemp) Auble, then added Lyle's parents, his brother, and his grandparents. 

The process is pretty easy.  I'm going to add information about Devier James Lamphear Smith in the discussion below:

From the My Account page, I can click on the "Add a New Person" link:

The program asks if the person is male or female, and living or deceased, and then the Birth and Married Name.  Once those are filled in, then the Birth data (drop down menus for month and day) and place (town/county in one field, state/country in another field), Death data (same sort of fields), and parents names can be filled in, as shown above. 

Clicking on the Submit button, the user goes to the "Snapshot" page for the person.  From there I selected the "Biography" button and clicked on the "Get Started" button.  A large edit area appeared, with some Microsoft Word-like editing tools, and I went into my database, copied the text for the notes for Devier Smith, and pasted it into the Biography text field:

I have to click on "Save Changes" to add the text material.  I can go back and edit this text any time - in fact, any registered user can.   Next, I wanted to upload a thumbnail photograph of Devier Smith, so I clicked on the "Media" button.  The "Media" page opened, and I clicked on the "Upload Media" button and was asked where the photo was - in my computer files or already in my account:

It was in a file on my computer, so I clicked that and selected the photo from my collection:

I selected Devier's photo from the list, and clicked on the "Upload" button:

The photo was put into the GenerationStation Media gallery.  The last task is to make that photo the thumbnail photo for Devier on his "Snapshot" and other pages.  I had to click on the existing thumbnail photo (with the dummy light blue photo) and then click on "Change Picture," and select the photo I want, and click on "Submit" and it's on the pages for Devier Smith:

This goes fairly easily.  The only part of the process that wasn't intuitive was how to get the Photo that was in the Media gallery into the thumbnail picture. 

The process did not take too long - perhaps five minutes for the whole exercise.  Of course, I had the biography text already available, so the copy and paste effort made that task pretty easy.

We'll look at creating a Family in the next post in this series.

Reader's Genea-Rant #2 - "Family Tree Maker 2011 sucks..."

An anonymous reader commented on my post Family Tree Maker 2011 Announced:

"I originally had the 2005 version and loved it. The 2011 version sucks it is unbelievable confusing. I have no idea when I am on my computer and when it has jumped me to the web. I am well educated and this is the most nonintuitive and poorly laid out software I have seen. It is just tooooooo complicated and non intuitive with pathetic help. If you want to take classes and spend a few weeks figuring it out, fine."

My upset reader did not ask me for suggestions or recommendations, he only wanted to rant and have me publish it as a warning to others.  Frankly, I've heard many similar complaints from readers and society colleagues, and have had similar thoughts myself.  If he had asked me, I would have said:
The 2005 version of Family Tree Maker (and version 2006 too) was an excellent program that I used as my main genealogy software until this year.  It was easy to use, very fast, and not too complicated.  However, I heard that it was out-of-date and that they could not add more features to it easily.  In addition, their competition had added many new features that weren't in FTM 2006 and before.
Family Tree Maker 2008 was the first version using the totally new programming that included the mapping, standard locations, source citation templates, and other features.  Unfortunately, 2008 dropped some of the great features of 2006 (and before), and many of them they have been added back into the program since 2008. 
As you noted, FTM 2011 is very busy, complicated and slower, when compared to 2006 and before.  The menus, the screens, the the other functions are all different.  The program has a definite learning curve.
It also has a good Help function - on the Menu bar.  You can click on that, enter a search term in the box, and see exactly how to do anything you want to do with FTM 2011. 
In addition, offers free Webinars (Web Seminars), including some on using Family Tree Maker 2011.  View their archived webinars at is also an online tutorial for FTM @011 at  You can watch the webinars and tutorial at your leisure in the comfort of your home, there's no need to go out for quality instruction in using the program.
You mentioned that it "jumps me to the web" when you don't expect it to.  That should happen only when you click on the "Web Search" workspace button, or click on the "View" menu and select "Search." 
My advice to you is to check out the webinars and the online tutorial, and use the Help menu when you need a hint as to how to do something.  It's a very powerful program, and every user should take the time to learn about the features and capabilities.
Disclosure:  I am not an employee or contractor of or Family Tree Maker.  I received a gratis copy of Family Tree Maker 2011 in order to provide software reviews.  I use it, but I don't love it.  It is not my software of choice at present, due to specific source citation and GEDCOM issues.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New or Updated FamilySearch Historical Collections - March

I last listed the new or updated collections on the FamilySearch website on 3 February, when there were 541 collections on the list.  Since then, these Historical Record Collections have been added or updated to make a total of 561 collections:

Argentina, Catholic Church Records  - updated 3 Mar 2011 (37,188 records)
Brazil, Catholic Church Records  - updated 3 Mar 2011 (browse images only)
Texas, Comanche County Records, 1858-1955  - updated 3 Mar 2011 (browse images only)
Texas, Mills County Clerk Records, 1841-1985  - updated 3 Mar 2011 (browse images only)
U.S. Social Security Death Index  - updated 3 Mar 2011 (88,701,435 records)

United States Census, 1910  - updated 3 Mar 2011 (29,601,754 records)
Colorado State Census, 1885  - updated 2 Mar 2011 (browse images only)
Italy, Civil Registration, 1806-1940  - updated 2 Mar 2011 (browse images only)
Illinois State Census, 1855  - updated 1 Mar 2011 (256,004 records)

New Hampshire Marriage Records, 1637-1947  - updated 1 Mar 2011 (501,128 records)
Philippines, Manila Civil Registration, 1899-1994  - updated 1 Mar 2011 (browse images only)
Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1886-1933  - updated 25 Feb 2011 (217,414 records)

North Carolina Deaths, 1931-1994  - updated 25 Feb 2011 (2,642,875 records)
Ohio, Cuyahoga County Probate Files, 1813-1900  - updated 25 Feb 2011 (browse images only)
Zimbabwe, Death notices, 1904-1976  - updated 25 Feb 2011 (browse images only)
England and Wales Census, 1901  - updated 24 Feb 2011 (34,136,242 records)

Germany, Posen, Church Book Duplicates, 1794-1874  - updated 24 Feb 2011 (113,713 records)
Spain, Lugo Diocese, Catholic Parish Records, 1550-1930  - updated 24 Feb 2011 (23,791 records)
England and Wales Census, 1861  - updated 23 Feb 2011 (19,178,973 records)
Germany, Baden, Church Book Duplicates, 1810-1869  - updated 23 Feb 2011 (63,987 records)
Germany, Bremen Passenger Departure Lists, 1904-1914  - updated 23 Feb 2011 (44,315 records)

Germany, Mecklenburg-Schwerin Census, 1890  - updated 23 Feb 2011 (94,251 records)
Hungary Catholic Church Records  - updated 23 Feb 2011 (9,065,513 records)
Mexico Census, 1930  - updated 23 Feb 2011 (2,665,665 records)
United States, World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942  - updated 23 Feb 2011 (3,507,841 records)
Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954  - updated 23 Feb 2011 (721,132 records)

Texas County Tax Rolls, 1846-1910  - updated 18 Feb 2011 (browse images only)
United States Census, 1920  - updated 18 Feb 2011 (30,663,555 records)
Delaware Marriage Records, 1913-1954 - updated 17 Feb 2011 (112,894 records)
England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 - updated 7 Feb 2011 (67,754,937 records)
India, Moga Land Ownership Pedigrees - updated 17 Feb 2011 (browse images only)

Massachusetts Marriages, 1841-1915 - updated 17 Feb 2011 (1,538,139 records)
Nicaragua, Managua, Civil Registration, 1879-2007 - updated 17 Feb 2011 (320,890 records)
Spain, Catholic Church Records, 1500-1930 - updated 17 Feb 2011 (43,646 records)
Texas Birth Certificates, 1903-1934 - updated 17 Feb 2011 (440,509 records)
Virginia Naturalization Petitions, 1906-1929 - updated 17 Feb 2011 (browse images only)

Kansas, County Marriages, 1855-1910 - updated 11 Feb 2011 (browse images only)
Arkansas Confederate Pensions, 1901-1929 - updated 10 Feb 2011 (Browse Images)
England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991 – updated 10 Feb 2011 (15,078,612 records)
England Marriages, 1538–1973 - updated 10 Feb 20111 (5,673,510 records)
England, Cheshire Non-conformist Records, 1671-1900 - updated 10 Feb 2011 (157,094 records)

Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950 - updated 10 Feb 2011 (338,109 records)
Virginia, Freedmen's Bureau Letters, 1865-1872 - updated 10 Feb 2011 (834,422 records)
Wales Deaths and Burials, 1586-1885 - updated 10 Feb 2011 (1,296 records)
England and Wales Census, 1891 - updated 4 Feb 2011 (31,782,845 records)

There are 49 items on the list above, but only 20 were added databases since 3 February.  I still wish that FamilySearch would also indicate which databases are newly "Added" rather than just "Added or Updated" and what the completion percentage is of those that are updated.

All FamilySearch Historical Record Collections can be accessed at  You can see which collections were recently added or updated by clicking on the "Last Updated" link.

GenerationStation is Open

I new family networking site is now in Beta - it's called GenerationStation, created by Michael Dowdle.  The announcement blog post says:

"This morning, we raised the curtain on GenerationStation, an entirely new way to create and preserve your family history.  We developed this product because we couldn’t find anything that would preserve our family history for future generations to enjoy.  Now we’re ready to let you enjoy this free service!
Here are the top 5 things you should know before proceeding:
  1. GenerationStation is FREE. In addition to the free service, we will also offer annual subscriptions which give members access to Premium Features for more control over their content.
  2. We’re under construction. This is still a beta version so there are still bugs & the site is still in development.
  3. Constant feedback is vital. Click the‘feedback’ link from any page to give is your opinions, issues, suggestions, complaints — we’ll even accept praise!
  4. Deceased and Living Profiles are different. There’s a vast difference between profiles for deceased family and living family. We don’t collect information on living persons except for name and links to existing social networks.
  5. GenerationStation is transparent. All profiles are open to public view so that you can collaborate. Content that you edit will be attributed to you."
That sounded pretty good to me - so I created a FREE account (which provides only a limited number of persons and media) - name, password, email, and you need to click a confirming email - and worked a bit in the site.

As a good example of what can be added, here are some screen shots for the page created for Michael's father, John Anthony Dowdle (links on the top menu bar):

1)  The "Snapshot" page (a short summary of the person's information):

2)  The "Biography" page (the full biography contributed by any registered person, photos can be included):

3.  The "Stories" page (stories or media added by any person):

4)  The "Media" page (images and video uploaded by any person):

5)  The "Family" page (parents, spouse(s), children of the person, added by any person):

6)  The "Guestbook" page, where any person who does not sign in can add content.

7)  The "Discussion" page, where any person can comment.

This new family network system seems to be very fast, easy to navigate, and is well laid out and thought out. 

There are limitations to how much a registered user can add to a Free account.  With my "Pioneer" membership, I receive 100 File Uploads and unlimited Alerts.  At present, the Video, Guestbooks, Draft Profiles and Custom URL items are unavailable. 

Upgrading to a Premier Membership for an individual costs $24.99 for one year, and for a family (four individual memberships to share) costs $59.99 for one year.

There are, of course, a number of other free and subscription sites that are available for persons interested in connecting with family members and having them share their information, stories, media, etc.  I really like this site, because it is so easy to use and because it is not very expensive, at least at this time.

This is still a Beta site, meaning that features will be added for some time before the site is completely functional.  Will this site become a FamilySearch affiliate and be able to communicate with the FamilySearch Family Tree when it is fully functional, with links to Person Pages and supporting documents?

Some issues for me:

*  There is no marriage data provided yet on the site.  This is important, and should be added to the "Family" page.

*  The user has to add persons one at a time - there is no GEDCOM or similar upload capability.  The user can copy and paste text to the "Biography" section, and add photos to the "Media" section for the person.

*  The site is wide open, so registered members should refrain from adding information about living people without their permission.  The site does ask the user to indicate if the person is living or deceased, and restricts living person's information.

*  This is very much a wiki-like format, where a registered user can add, edit or delete content.  The guestbook provides a way for non-registered users to contribute content.

Disclosure:  I was not offered, nor have I received, any remuneration for writing this review.  I did receive an email about the site recently (I deleted the email, I guess) and added their blog to my Google Reader, which is where I saw the announcement today about one hour ago. 

Using the Internet Archive Website: Books - Post 2

In the post, Using the Internet Archive Website: Books - Post 1, I highlighted the problems I've had searching for genealogy-related books on the site working with the plain text books on the Internet Archive website (  I provided simple work-arounds that I use in the hope that other frustrated searchers will use them.

There are several other ways to search and read the books on the Internet Archive.  Here is the screen for the plain text book (4th screen in first post):

In order to see other formats for this particular book, the user can click on the red "See other formats" button to the left of the plain text panel.  When you click that, this screen appears:

In the left-hand panel (headed "View the Book"), there are choices for:

*  Read Online
*  PDF
*  B/W PDF
*  Kindle
*  Daisy
*  Full text
*  DjVu

There is a Help file that defines the different choices.

In the right-hand panel of the screen above is source and catalog information for the work. 

If the user chooses "Read Online," then color images of the book pages, as scanned, are shown in the central panel.  Here's the cover of the Samuel Sewall book:

There is a Search Box in the top line.  I searched for "Seaver" and the page with the first instance of the search term showed on my screen:

There was only one instance in the book, and the system went right to it.  See the orange tack in the bar at the bottom of the screen?  That shows where the search terms are found.  If there is more than one, then more show up as orange tacks on that line.  Each one shows a snippet of text when the mouse is run over it.  The user can click on each orange tack and the book will flip to that page.

There are icons in the bottom bar that can be used to show one page view, two page view (as above), thumbnail view, zoom in, zoom out, flip left, and flip right.

In the online two page view like the above, the user can click on the page to "turn" to the next page.

The book can be downloaded in PDF format and saved to your computer folders.  To print book pages, the user could click on PDF and show it on the screen, then print selected pages.  The user could also take screen shots of the pages, copy them to a word processor, and print the selected images.  The user could save just those pages as a file.  Copying text from the book pages is only possible in the Full Text version of the book, which has line breaks and any OCR errors included.

Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver's Civil War Pension Papers: Widow's Pension Awarded

It's Treasure Chest Thursday, time to share one of the documents or artifacts in my family history collection.  In previous posts, I have displayed documents from the Civil War Pension File of Isaac Seaver, my second great-grandfather. 

I received the complete Civil War Pension File for Isaac Seaver on 3 January - see my post My Christmas Present Came Today - Oh Boy! - and it has 81 pages in the file.  Some of them have little or no information on them.  I'm going to cherry-pick some pages for this and later Treasure Chest Thursday posts.

Last week, we saw that Isaac's widow, Alvina Seaver, submitted an affidavit on 26 October 1908 in support of her application for a pension filed on 29 July 1908, after the Act of April 19, 1908 required widows of soldiers to have been married to the soldier before 27 June 1890 and to not have married again.

The "Treasure" this week is the Widow's Pension document that awards her $12 per month. 

The transcript of information this page is (filled in lines underlined, handwritten items italicized):

No. 738086
Accd Pd.

ACT OF APRIL 19, 1908.

Claimant: Alvina M. Seaver
P.O., Dickinson Centre
County, Franklin; State, New York

Soldier, Isaac Seaver, 3d
Rank, Private; Co. H
Regiment, 4 Mass Vol H A

Rate, $12 per month, commencing July 31, 1908, and $2 additional for each child, as stated below:

All pension to terminate _____________, 1____, date of _________________

Payments on all former certificates covering any portion of same time to be deducted.

_________________ Born, ___________ Sixteen, ______________ Commencing _______________

[eight lines like that]


Name, Charles W. Kendall
P.O., Fitchburg, Mass.
Fee, $10; Agent to pay


Submitted for ad. Oct. 8, 190 8; GMD Browne, Examiner
   "  "  November 17, 1908  J.D. Bloodgood  "
Approved for admission under Act of April 19, 1908
Oct. 13, 1908 Geo. Albertson (Reviewer)
Nov. 19, 1908 G A
Nov. 19, 1908 J.E. Bradford (Rereviewer)
The soldier was _-_pensioned at $ 12 per month. for

Enlisted, Aug. 10, 1864
___ honorably duisch'd, June 17, 1865
Reenlisted, No other service, 1____
___ honorably disch'd, __________
Died, Mar. 12, 1901
Declaration filed, July 31, 1908
Claimant ______ write

Soldier's application filed June 15, 1892
Clt's app'n under other laws, Mar. 28, 1901
Former marriage of claimant once and soldier twice
Death of former {husband Jan. 5, 1882
Death of former {wives Sep. 26, 1857 and Mar. 24, 1884
Clt's marriage to soldier, Sep. 15, 1888
Cl't not remarried. No divorce

Based on this document, Alvina finally received the Civil War pension of $12 per month based on her husband's Civil War military service, the fact that she married him before 27 June 1890, and the sworn testimony that she did not have adequate financial resources. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New "Research Courses" on the FamilySearch Learning Site

I'm trying to stay up-to-date on the offerings at, and it can be a challenge. 

One of the most useful educational tools is the genealogical presentations on the Learn tab - go to

Here are the courses listed with a green NEW label as of today:

Researching in the British Isles, presented by Fred Held (28 minutes)

My Experiences in German Family Research, presented by Fred Held (59 minutes)

Cemetery Art, presented by Ellen Miller (26 minutes)

Finding Your Way: Locating and Using Maps in Your Research, presented by Gary Toms (30 minutes)

How to Find More at a Genealogy Library, presented by Gary Toms (36 minutes)

If I'd Ever Known, presented by Beth Foulk (52 minutes)

Managing Your Family Records on the Internet, presented by Fred Held (26 minutes)

Basic U.S. Military Records with Tiff, presented by Tiffany Wright (25 minutes)

Beginning Census Research and Record Keeping, presented by Henry Tharp (23 minutes)

Colonial Immigration, presented by Beth Foulk (53 minutes)

Colonial Land, presented by Beth Foulk (35 minutes)

County Histories and Your Family, presented by Janice Shultz (17 minutes)

Finding the Slave Generation, presented by Angela McComas (18 minutes)

Locating Ancestors on the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes, presented by Kathy Huber (26 minutes)

See You on Sunday! Church Records in Genealogy, presented by Angela McComas (13 minutes)

* Some Underused Online Resources, presented by Gary Toms (56 minutes)

U.S. Courthouse Research, presented by Christine Rose (25 minutes)

Welcome to the World of Periodicals, presented by Charlotte McIntosh (11 minutes)

If those don't wet your genea-whistle, go check the entire list of over 130 research courses at

The neat thing about these courses are that they are taught by subject matter experts, they are free to access, and they can be viewed by individuals or groups with an Internet connection.  Think about how your local society could use them for member programs and classes.

Using the Internet Archive Website: Books - Post 1

I have struggled over the years to use the FREE Internet Archive website ( effectively.  It seems like almost every time I use it, my Internet Explorer browser locks up.  I have no idea why!

I have also been frustrated by the search limitations on the site, and have finally figured out "my way" of doing it.  If others have better methods, I would love to hear them.

Here is the home page of the site:

I was looking for a specific book about Samuel Sewall of Massachusetts, so I put "samuel sewall" (in quotes) in the small search box at the top of the page.  After about one minute, I got this screen:

It told me that "The search engine encountered the following error:  search engine returned invalid information or was unresponsive. We are working to resolve this issue.  Thanks for your patience."

I was still impatient, so I turned to my trusty work-around.  I searched the website in Google, using the string: ["samuel sewall" site:] (without the brackets).  Here were my results:

That's better - there are plenty of mentions of Samuel Sewall in the Archive site - and look what's number 1:  "Diary of Samuel Sewall, 1674-1729)."  I clicked on it and saw:

To someone inexperienced using this site, the result looks like gibberish.  The user can scroll down and find real text, but it can be confusing to someone trying the site the first time.  Why the gibberish?

The Internet Archive seems to always open with the full OCRed (Optical Character Recognition) text version.  The graphics on a scanned page often create unintelligible text, as shown above.  It seems like there are many misspelled words in the text, probably because of the OCR process of text in difficult to read fonts.

This is usually where my system locks up.  Perhaps it is because it takes a long time (sometimes a minute or more) to load this OCRed text page.  If I click on something without the page telling me that it's "Done," my system locks up.  I thought this problem would go away once I bought a new computer with more RAM.  But it hasn't gone away so far.

There is no effective search box for the site (that I can see) on this screen.  My work-around here is to go to the Edit menu on my browser, and click on "Find on this Page" and enter the text I'm searching for in the search box (see screen above).  The screen instantly goes to the first use of the search text:

If I want the next instance of the requested text, I can click on the "Next" button and the next instance will be highlighted. 

The Internet Archive has a wealth of resources available.  There are other ways to read these online books, and we'll look at some of them in a future post.

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Post 142: San Diego Mountain Snow

This is the view that some San Diegans had over the weekend.  A major winter storm came through on Friday night, the skies cleared on Saturday and Sunday, and this picture was in the newspaper over the weekend.

The photograph was taken from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Point Loma (where my parents are buried), west of downtown San Diego.  The high snow-covered mountain in the background is Mount Cuyamaca (kwee-ah-mah-cah), over 6,000 feet high, and the central peak is a good 40 miles east of downtown San Diego.

There are many locations in San Diego that afford a similar view of the mountains, but only when the air is really clear, as it was when this picture was taken. 

Last weekends storm dropped snow down to about the 2,000 foot level in the county, which occurs once in about every five years.  The higher mountains get snow several times every year,  and resort towns like Julian (about 4,000 feet) get snow every winter, sometimes more than once.

When it is real clear, it seems like you can see forever.  I remember being out at Cabrillo National Monument on the southern tip of Point Loma and being able to see the top of snow-covered Mount Baldy which is over 120 miles to the north above Ontario, California. 

Has it snowed at sea level in San Diego?  YES! - several times in my lifetime - read about my experiences with San Diego winter weather in Advent Calendar - December 9: Christmas Weather. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Videos from RootsTech 2011

Eagle eye Jill on the Geniaus  blog pointed me toward some videos from RootsTech 2011 on the Middle Peninsula African-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Virginia (MPAAGHS) website, on their Videos page.

The videos available are:

The Changing Face of Genealogy
Curt Witcher, Allen County Public Library

Cloud Computing: What It Is and How It Has Been Used
Brian Pugh,

The Power of PDF: Tools for Every Genealogist
Josh Taylor, New England Historic Genealogical Society

Virtual Presentations Roundtable
Thomas MacEntee, Moderator

Apparently, these are not available yet on the FamilySearch Research Wiki yet.  I check the RootsTech 2011 page every so often for the videos, and more.

Reader's Genea-Rant #1 - "My cousin's done genealogy research, and it's wrong!"

I love it when my readers write with comments or questions - even rants.  Here's one I received recently (with his permission to publish it on Genea-Musings):


"So my wife and put the word out that we are doing the family genealogy. We receive notice from my wife's second cousin that they have already researched their tree (25% of my wife's tree in common), further they have even turned the family history into a book and are selling it on the Internet!  They graciously agree to send a CD of the book, including an ancestral file of the family tree to us for no cost.  We are stoked!  The thought of 12.5% of our family tree already being laid out for us brought smiles to our face.  Until I started researching that family line.

"I wrote away to obtain copies of primary sources like vital records and began to notice they did not square with the relative's research. I emailed him and he said all sources were in the ancestral file, so I booted it into Legacy.  But the sources were written in some strange words and when I Googled them a multitude of ways they always returned zero results.  I emailed again, but all he had to offer was an apology that he "couldn't remember that particular file" and then he wished me to have fun.  WHAT??  I email back, and this time all he says is that his relatives "did not deliver much information" (aka. "nothing") on that line I was researching, so he got all that was there in the book from the Internet, and wished me good luck!  SERIOUSLY?!?   He had NO intention of standing behind his research!

"I bet you can figure where I am going.  I finally discovered his "source."  It was an Ancestral File from the Family Tree section on the website.  Exactly, one of the same ancestral files for which the website states "Data in the File has not been verified and should only be used as a starting point for additional research."  In other words, they are "clues."  My wife's relative had published, and was charging money for, a family history book with inaccurate clues 
represented as facts!  I could scream!  Now everything he did has to be verified, every source double-checked. Wonderful."

My upset reader did not ask me for suggestions or recommendations, he only wanted to rant and have me publish it as a warning to others.  If he had, I would have said:

"Nothing is truly worthless.  You can always use it in genealogy education classes as a 'bad example.'  

"It appears that you wife's cousin did no real 'research' - he did an online search for information and grabbed what he could find.  In that regard, he is like many people who dabble in genealogical pursuits - they don't go for the 'good stuff,' but grab the 'low hanging fruit' in online family trees.

"You're doing exactly what everyone should do when they find 'clues' in Ancestral File, Rootsweb WorldConnect, an Member Tree, or some other online family tree.  Or they find 'clues' in published books and periodical articles.  Obtain primary information in original sources if possible, and follow the Genealogical Proof Standard process to determine your own conclusions as to names, dates, places, relationships, events, etc., with appropriate source citations and research analysis.

"I hope that you will publish the results of your research, based on authoritative sources, in a genealogical periodical or on a genealogical blog or website, or even in your own book so that other researchers can have the benefit of your hard work."

What other advice would you give to my ranter?  Tell me in comments - he'll read it.

Unfortunately, those not experienced in the "art of genealogy research" don't always recognize  unsubstantiated work, or even fabricated work, as when they see it.  Most of us know that quite a bit of the online family trees are genea-crapola (new word...), but that they are potentially useful as finding aids to search for and obtain historical records that will prove our genealogy and family history. 

I hope my reader got his money's worth with his rant!  Thanks for writing!

What do you want to rant about?  I can make this a regular feature of Genea-Musings if you send them in.  They're probably more entertaining, and perhaps more useful, than my usual blog fodder.  We could even set up as an anonymous site and have a really fun time! 

Adding a Smart Story to Family Tree Maker 2011 - Post 2

In my earlier post on this subject (Adding a Smart Story to Family Tree Maker 2011 - Post 1), I demonstrated the process of creating a Smart Story in Family Tree Maker 2011, and noted that these Smart Stories can be uploaded to an Member Tree.

I didn't demonstrate if or how the Smart Story changes when current information is changed, or new information is added.

In the first post, I made a Smart Story for my great-grandfather, Frank Walton Seaver (1852-1922).  In this post, I'm going to add a Fact and see if the Smart Story changes, and then I'm going to edit a Fact and see if the Smart Story changes.

1)  Here is the Person screen in the People workspace for Frank Seaver before I add a Fact:

I want to add a Baptism Fact for Frank, so after I do this (clicking the blue + (plus) button, selecting "Baptism" from the "Add Fact" list, and filling in the information), the screen looks like this:

You can see that the Baptism Fact is added to the Fact list.  Did the Smart Story change?  Here's the Smart Story after I added the Baptism Fact:

The Baptism Fact was not added to the Smart Story.  See the bottom of this post for conclusions.

2)  What if I change the information for an existing Fact?  I decided to change Frank's birth date - here's the screen as I'm changing the Birth Fact.  In the field for birth date, I changed it to 6 October 1852, as shown below:

So did the revised date show up in the Smart Story?  Here's the screen after I changed the Birth Fact:

The Smart Story changed as you can see in the screen above. 

I experimented with changing other Facts, changing the Notes, and changing the Fact Sources.  As long as I didn't add a new Fact, add another type of Note, or add a Fact Source, the Smart Story changed accordingly.

The conclusions I draw from this post are:

*  Smart Stories do change when a previously created Fact, Note, or Fact Source is edited or modified.

*  Smart Stories do not change when a newly added Fact, Note type or Fact Source is created.  The user has to create a new Smart Story if those elements are added to a Person's profile.

*  If the Smart Story in the genealogy database is changed, then the Smart Story in the Member Tree will not be changed until the user uploads a new Family Tree Maker 2011 database into a new Member Tree.

Tuesday's Tip - Find Ancestral Homes using Google Maps

Today's Tuesday's Tip is to:  Use Google Maps ( to find the location, and current buildings, of your ancestral homes.

Google Maps has both street maps and satellite maps, and the user can zoom in to see street and building details.  Street Views can be shown for many locations and the user can "walk" along the street and swivel the view to see street details of homes, cars, people, etc. 

The user needs to know an address, of course, in order to use the Maps to find homes.  Most cities were using street addresses by 1900, so the addresses are in the census records since 1900.  City Directories also have street addresses, when they were used.

For example:  I knew my great-grandfather Charles Auble's addresses in Chicago, Illinois from the 1900 US Census (515 West Adams Street) and the 1910 US Census (611 West 76th Street).  I went looking for these places in Google Maps and found:

*  515 West Adams Street is in downtown Chicago, and 515 is where Union Station is.

*  611 West 7th Street is south and west of downtown Chicago, west of the Dan Ryan Expressway in the Hamilton Park area.  There is no house at this location - there is a railroad track just to the east of this address - the Google Map satellite image shows a train running right beside the address when the satellite took the image.

Here is the Satellite Map view of 611 West 76th Street:

And the Street view:

I guess I don't have to bother to visit this location...

I don't know enough about the Chicago street numbering system to determine if the homes were on the north side of the streets or the south sides of the street, or if the street numbering system in 1900 and 1910 are the same as today.

The address system in some cities may have changed between the time your ancestor lived in the location.  City Directories will usually describe the street numbering system, and the user should check a directory from the time your ancestor lived there and a more recent directory that can be tied to the neighborhood. 

I'll discuss using Google Maps to find a more rural ancestral home location in another Tuesday's Tip.

Monday, February 28, 2011

An interesting record - has anyone used it?

One of my students in my Beginning Computer Genealogy senior adult class today asked me if i'd seen the book about miscreant deeds o f women, abused wives and unfortunate children in the Family History Library Catalog.

I admitted that I had not, but was ecstatic that she was using the FHLC and had found something so obscure.  It sounded interesting, so I went looking for it.

It is in the "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia" section of the FHLC in the "Social life and customs" and the "History" subject.  Here is the record description:

Elopements and other miscreant deeds of women as advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette together with a few abused wives and unfortunate children
stmt. resp.:compiled by Judith Ann Meier
authors:Meier, Judith Ann Highley (Main Author)
Pennsylvania gazette (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), (Added Author)
publications:Norristown, Pennsylvania : J.A. Meier, c1986
physical:1 v. in various foliations
subject class:974.811 B3


Includes indexes.
Records cover 1730-1789.

It's on the shelf at the Family History Library.  Has anybody found a family member in this book? 

Are there works like this available in other large cities?  A book like this might be really useful for researchers dealing with large cities with a significant immigrant population, like Philadelphia was in the 18th century.

I looked for repositories for this work on and did not find any.  Apparently, the FHL is not on WorldCat!  I didn't know that, and am disappointed that it is not. 

Dear Randy: Why the false geography in your database?

Reader BK commented on my LADD Surname Saturday post:

"After all the posts about source citations ... why the false Geography in your database ?

"The Ladds were in Colonial America.  And the " US " did not exist yet.

"I hope you are entering the true locations during your database update."

I wondered how long it would take for a sharp-eyed reader to catch this in my Surname Saturday posts!  As astute readers know, I recently converted all of my Place locations to "Standard" places using Family Tree Maker 2011 software.  My reason for doing this was to enable geo-coding of the place names, and to get more consistency in my place names.  My understanding is that the FamilySearch Family Tree, and probably other online family trees in the future, will require Standard place names.  FamilySearch has a Standard Finder with their standard place names.

As BK points out, I no longer have the "historical place identification" associated with the places when many of my ancestral families were living in colonial America (including Canada).  Some examples:

*  The present state of Massachusetts was comprised of Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony until the two were merged before 1700.  The state of Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1820.  Rhode Island was the colony of "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."  New York was "New Amsterdam" before 1664.  And so on.

*  County names were changed and boundaries moved over time.  Some of the earliest towns presently in Essex County, Massachusetts were originally in Old Norfolk County (which included some New Hampshire towns also).  A "new" Norfolk County was  formed in 1793 and took part of Suffolk County in the process.  The "purist" genealogist would clearly define which county the records were in, and denote whether it was in Massachusetts Bay Colony, Suffolk County (before 1793) or Norfolk County (after 1793). 

*  Some town names were changed - for instance, Narragansett No. 2 became Westminster in Massachusetts, Raby became Brookline in New Hampshire, etc.  Town boundaries changed over time.

*  The area west of the Appalachian Mountains were native American areas or colonial provinces of England, Spain, France, Russia, then Territories of the United States, and then States.  The southern states seceded in 1861 are were re-admitted to the Union after the Civil War.  The "purist" genealogist would say to use terms like "Cherokee territory," "Wisconsin Territory," "State of Franklin," "Alabama, CSA" for records during the time periods in question.

*  The area now the province of Ontario in Canada went through "Upper Canada," "Canada West," and then "Ontario" as Canada's situation changed. 

*  God only knows how many places in Germany and Eastern Europe should be called a Principality, or Duchy, or other jurisdictional terms.  The case can be made for using the present country names, in the native language, for countries all over the world, rather than the English translation, or equivalent.

Frankly, my genealogy database was really messed up insofar as Place names were concerned prior to standardizing my Place names.  If I had followed the "purist" route, I would have changed every place name in colonial or territorial times, or for town, county or state name or boundary changes, to the correct jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, the geo-coding and map definition in the software programs would be really fooled by many of the historical place names and I would probably have to change every one of them again - over 300,000 events - when they were ported to a family tree that requires Standard place names.

Therefore, I took the easy route - I standardized my Place names to the collection of places in Family Tree Maker 2011.  That permits me to use the mapping functions in the software, and will permit me, I hope, to upload my tree to family tree databases that require standard place names.  I can now identify the geographical location of an event.

As a seasoned genealogy researcher, I know that names and boundaries changed over historical time, and I know that part of my research task is to determine the proper jurisdiction of each Place in my database and search in the appropriate repositories for the records in those jurisdictions. 

I appreciate and encourage the "purist" genealogists, those who consistently use the historical jurisdictions in their database, and are sticklers for accuracy and completeness. I also understand that peer-reviewed publications usually want the historical place names used, especially when names and boundaries have changed. 

Even though my database uses the Standard place names, and the standard convention of "Town, County, State, Country (for the USA)," the genealogy software permits a place description to be added for specific events.  Therefore, I will eventually add comments to the description such as "was Raby town before 1797," or "was in Suffolk County before 1793" to help the reader understand some of the historical jurisdictions.

What does your database have?  Are all of your place names consistent - either historical jurisdictions or present standard names?   How have you managed this place name and record jurisdiction problem?

Thank you, BK, for the interesting comment.