Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - A Genealogy Book

Hey genea-bodies - it's Saturday Night - time for more Genealogy Fun!!!

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

1)  Find the last genealogy book that you have read cover-to-cover or from which you learned something about genealogy.  Write a complete source citation, and transcribe the first paragraph of the Introduction.

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

Here's mine:

Michael O. Varhola, Life in Civil War America (Cincinnati, Ohio : Family Tree Books, 2010).

Introduction (page 12):

"Could you have Civil War veterans in your family tree? Now, a century-and-a-half since that great conflict, it has never been easier to start researching your Blue or Gray soldier ancestor.  Not only can you search for the basic facts of his military service, you also can delve into the details of his regiment and battles he may have fought in, trace the unit's movements on historical maps, and perhaps even find an image of him with his comrades.  Pension files and other records could provide long-sought details about your soldier's spouse and children, helping you win your own battle to understand your family's past."

UPDATED 2:30 p.m. to expand the qualifications a bit.

Surname Saturday - LAVER (Somerset, England)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week. I am up to number 207,  who is the mother of Catherine Ruth (wife of Philip Jacob King).  I also don't know #209, #211, #213, and #215.  Next on the list is #217, who is Joan LAVER (1782-1836), another of my 5th-great-grandmothers. [Note: The 5th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts] 

My ancestral line back to Joan LAVER is:

1.  Randall Jeffrey Seaver (1943-....)

2.  Frederick Walton Seaver (1911-1983)
3.  Betty Virginia Carringer (1919-2002)

6.  Lyle Lawrence Carringer (1891-1976)
7.  Emily Kemp Auble (1899-1977)

12.  Henry Austin Carringer (1853-1946)
13.  Abbie Ardell "Della" Smith (1862-1944)

26.  Devier James Lamphier Smith (1839-1894)
27.  Abbie A. Vaux (1844-1931)

54.  Samuel Vaux (1816- after 1880)
55.  Mary Ann Underhill (1815- after 1880)

108.  James Vaux (1787-1839)
109.  Mary Palmer (1788-1844)

216. John Vaux, born 1747 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; died before 31 December 1811 in South Petherton, Somerset, England. He was the son of 432. James Vaux and 433. Amy Terrell. He married  02 August 1785 in South Petherton, Somerset, England.
217. Joan Laver, born 1762 in Somerset, England; died 04 November 1836 in South Petherton, Somerset, England.

Children of John Vaux and Joan Laver are:

i. Amy Vaux, born before 07 July 1786 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; died before
10 May 1850 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; married Samuel Godden 08 August
1805 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; born 1785 in Somerset, England; died 1850.

ii. James Vaux, born before 20 December 1787 in South Petherton, Somerset, England;
died before 23 July 1839 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; married Mary Palmer 13
December 1808 in Martock, Somerset, England.

iii. John Vaux, born about 1789 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; died before 06
January 1790 in South Petherton, Somerset, England.

iv. William Vaux, born before 15 March 1791 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; died
before 1 August 1794 in South Petherton, Somerset, England.

v. Ann Vaux, born before 20 May 1792 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; died before
16 February 1809 in South Petherton, Somerset, England.

vi. John Vaux, born before 25 July 1794 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; died before
 16 October 1837 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; married Susannah Ostler 02
August 1821 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; born before 10 April 1799 in West
Lambrook, Somerset, England; died before 18 January 1880 in South Petherton, Somerset,

vii. Joseph Vaux, born before 14 July 1796 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; died
before 26 June 1872 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; married (1) Sarah Oten 08
April 1817 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; born about 1788 in South Petherton,
Somerset, England; died before 29 April 1852 in South Petherton, Somerset, England;
married (2) Mary Ann G. Chamberlaine 29 July 1858 in South Petherton, Somerset,
England; born about 1820 in Stogumber, Somerset, England.

viii. William Vaux, born before 14 July 1796 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; died
before 1860 in probably Aurora, Erie, New York, United States; married Susan Vile about
1819 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; born about 1798 in Somerset, England; died in
probably Waupun, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, United States.

ix. Samuel Vaux, born before 03 March 1799 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; died 09
July 1836 in South Petherton, Somerset, England; married Mary Ann Stower 07 March 1830
in South Petherton, Somerset, England; born 1803 in South Petherton, Somerset, England;
died before 05 March 1877 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

434.  Mr. Laver
435.  Mrs. Laver

If the John and Joan (Laver) Vaux family used the traditional English naming pattern, then
Joan Laver's parents might have been John and Ann. 

I have performed no original research on the Vaux and Laver families in Somerset - this
work was performed by my cousins Sara Anson Vaux (in America) and Hanna Nicholas (in
England), and several other researchers in Somerset.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Solution for US Census Free-form Source Citations in RootsMagic 4

In my last post about my genealogy database (Steadily Improving my Family Tree Database, posted 23 February), I noted the progress I'd made in my genealogy database by standardizing my place names,  making free-form standard sources, and adding sources for unsourced assertions.  Since then, I've modified almost all of my master sources in RootsMagic 4 to nearly Evidence! Explained (EE) quality. 

My main reason for making free-form master sources, rather than using the EE-style source templates, was because I want to use GEDCOM to upload my tree to several online databases.  My Source Citation Saga  Compendium series explained, rather graphically, just how almost every online tree and software programs mangles source citations from almost every bit of software or online tree.  My recommendations for readers adding or editing sources is to use free-form citations, based on the EE models.

One particular EE source citation model that has been difficult for me to model are United States Census records, at least in RootsMagic 4.  I noted in Source Citation Creation in RootsMagic 4 - some examples that "... [using the EE] Census source template ... will require each unique census page to have it's own Master Source citation (because of the need to put the NARA Roll number in the Master Source field)."

I have over 200 source citations to the 1900 US Census alone, so I needed to find a work-around, using free-form citations, to solve this problem so that I have only one Master Source for each census year.

In order to determine how to craft the free-form citation, I used the EE-style source template for the Census, US Federal (online images) as a model. 

1)  Here is my model for the 1850 US Census source for Isaac Seaver using the EE-style source template:

The Master Source details were entered as (field/entry):

*  Country (optional):  United States
*  Year and type:  1850 United States Census
*  Jurisdiction:  Norfolk County, Massachusetts
*  Schedule:  Population schedule
*  Item type:  online database
*  Website:
*  URL:
*  Credit line: citing National Archive Microfilm Publication M432, Roll 331

The Source Detail information were (field/entry):

*  Civil division: Medfield town
*  Enumeration district: [blank]
*  Page ID: page 356
*  Household ID: dwelling #699, family #699
*  Person of interest:  Isaac Seaver
*  Access type: [blank]
*  Access date: 1 Mar 2011

The resulting source citation elements were:

1850 United States Census, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Medfield town, page 356, dwelling #699, family #699, Isaac Seaver; online database, ( : accessed 1 March 2011); citing National Archive Microfilm Publication M432, Roll 331.

Short Footnote:
1850 United States Census, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, Population schedule, Medfield town, page 356, dwelling #699, family #699, Isaac Seaver.

United States. Massachusetts. Norfolk County. 1850 United States Census, population schedule. Online database. : 2011.

2)  With the "Footnote" source citation above, I crafted a Free-form source citation that matched as close as possible to the EE-style Footnote, as shown below:

In this source citation, the Master Source entries are:

*  Footnote:  1850 United States Census
*  Short footnote: 1850 United States Census
*  Bibliography:  1850 United States Census. Online database. (

And the Source details as:

Page Number: Norfolk County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Medfield town, page 356,  dwelling #699, family #699, Isaac Seaver; online database, ( : accessed 1 Mar 2011), citing National Archives Publication M432, Roll 331

The resulting Source citation elements are:

1850 United States Census, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Medfield town, page 356, dwelling #699, family #699, Isaac Seaver; online database, ( : accessed 1 Mar 2011), citing National Archives Publication M432, Roll 331.

Short Footnote:
1850 United States Census, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Medfield town, page 356, dwelling #699, family #699, Isaac Seaver; online database, ( : accessed 1 Mar 2011), citing National Archives Publication M432, Roll 331.

1850 United States Census. Online database. (

The only differences I see between the Source template Footnote and the Free-form Footnote is that is italicized in the Source template Footnote and not in the Free-form template.

There are more differences between the Short Footnote and Bibliography entries, but these do not, in general, get transferred in a GEDCOM transfer to an online family tree or to another program.  It is not possible, with the current RootsMagic free-form template, to match the EE-style template perfectly with the free-form template.

As I've shown before, the Free-form Footnote gets transferred very cleanly using GEDCOM to online trees and software programs.

So my current Source project is to go through all of my US Census sources and standardize them to the Free-form format shown above.  It isn't as onerous as it could be, since I have many of the elements already in my source details (the county, state, town, ED, page, dwelling #, family #, person's name, roll number) and only have to add "population schedule" and " (, citing National Archives Microfilm Publication M432" between the person's name and the Roll number.  They can be easily copied/pasted for each census year in each Source Detail line.

I recommend that RootsMagic make the National Archives Roll Number (or FHL Microfilm number) part of the Source Details rather than make users put it in the "Credit line"  of the Master Source.  I also recommend that RootsMagic put the "Jurisdiction" data in the Source Detail section.  That way one Master Source can be used for every jurisdiction in the Census EE-style Source Template. 

5th Birthday for Genea-Musings!!!

Today is the 5th Blogiversary of Genea-Musings.

It seems like just yesterday that I started my Randy's Musings blog - here is the first post on 15 April 2006. I explained the name change to Genea-Musings in my first anniversary post on 15 April 2007. In my two-year anniversary post, I showed a screen shot of the early blog page and showed a graph of my traffic in the past year. Last year, in my three-year anniversary post, I wrote about the past and the future of Genea-Musings.  For my fourth year post, I noted that not much had changed from the year before.

Not much has changed in the past year - readership is up slightly, and the number of posts is down slightly. The content has not changed much - in the last two years I posted more  personal family history research and the daily blogging memes.

My genealogy time budget has changed a bit too - with more time devoted to blogging and speaking/teaching rather than research (e.g., I have been to the Family History Center once so far this year), although I've done much more work in my genealogy database this past year standardizing place names and genea-ESMing my source citations.

After five years of Randy's Musings and Genea-Musings, this is post number 4,741. Over 1,461 days, that averages out to be 2.60 posts per day. In the past year, I've written 967 posts, or 2.65 posts per day (those are slightly higher than the fourth year). I think that the most over the five years was 7 posts in one day and I've had days with zero posts (usually when on vacation).

My readership has increased each year. Since I started this blog, I have had over 605,000 unique visitors (these include multiple visits per day by the same reader) and over 866,000 page views over five years, and over 258,000 page views and 183,000 unique visitors in the past year. Those numbers are slightly lower than last year, which (I hope) reflects the increasing use of blog readers and RSS feeds.

My StatCounter statistics indicate that this blog currently has about 502 unique visitors a day, with an average of about 708 page views.  I also use Google Analytics to look at statistics, and the numbers are a bit lower for some reason (430 and 659). 

In addition, about 670 subscribe via email using Feedburner, and about 910 via Google Reader.  I don't have a count for other feeds, blog readers and Facebook readers. If I had to guess, I would say that about 2,100 persons read Genea-Musings on an average day. A significant number of the readers (probably over 50%) on the actual website come via a search engine - you wouldn't believe what some of the search parameters are!

This StatCounter traffic chart for the last year (15 April 2010 to 14 April 2011) shows Page Loads (green), Unique Visitors (blue), and Returning Visitors (orange).

This is a traffic chart for the last five years (since July 2006 when I subscribed to StatCounter) in terms of Page Loads (green), Unique Visitors (blue), and Returning Visitors (orange).

Please permit me to genea-muse for a bit here:

I really appreciate the Genea-bloggers community and all of my Genea-Musings readers. Without all of you, we would not have as much genealogy information (news, research experiences, family history, photographs, etc.) online. Blogging and then social networking, has brought democratization to the world of genealogy writing - anybody can do it (and many do it very well) and the genealogy community has more information faster than it ever has had before.

The genea-blogger community is overwhelmingly friendly and supportive of each other and their readers.  There is very little overt competition, back-biting or flame wars.  This reflects the genealogy community as a whole, I believe - almost everyone believes in and works at collaborating with, educating and helping others - from the most famous (e.g., the genea-rock stars like Elizabeth, Tom, Megan, etc.) to the beginners (readers and bloggers). 

The genea-bloggers community as a whole has also garnered the respect of the genealogy industry - the database companies, the software companies, website owners, and genealogical societies.  They understand that genealogy blogs are a significant way to announce and publicize their products or services, and to create genea-buzz at conferences.  This could not happen without the commitment of genea-bloggers to objectivity and collaboration. 

I'm really proud to be a member of the genea-blogger community and to enjoy the camaraderie online and in person.  At a genealogy conference or seminar, genea-bloggers tend to flock together - it's an instant brother/sisterhood - many of us read each other's blogs and "know" each other's life and blogging experiences. 

Lastly, I want to salute four individuals that really started this genea-blogging explosion and have been doing it longer than almost everyone else:

*  Dick Eastman who writes Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

*  Pat Richley-Erickson who writes the DearMYRTLE Genealogy Blog.

*  Leland Meitzler who writes the GenealogyBlog.

*  Kimberly Powell who writes the Genealogy blog. 

They continue to provide excellent examples of professional genealogical blogging and I am ecstatic to know them and appreciate them.

So - what to blog about today?  I have no idea!  I may just work on my latest research project or add sources to my database.  Life is good in the genea-cave, and it's even better when family history is made with the grandchildren (in two weeks!). 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What is a Cenotaph? - see Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal

My latest "Digging for Answers" column article on the Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal is posted. 

The question was "what is a cenotaph?"

If you have a question that you would like answered, please send it to the editor of The Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal - Robin Simonton, who will forward it to me.

Recent articles in the Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal include:

Is this William R. Seaver, son of the murdered William Seaver?

In Some Records for the William Seaver Family Members, I found records for the wife and two daughters of William Seaver of Washington DC, who was murdered in 1821 in Virginia.

What about the son of William and Martha (Davis) Seaver?  Do these records refer to him?

1)  In the 1850 U.S. census, W.R. Seaver resided with the Benjamin Budd family in South Brunswick, Middlesex County, New Jersey (Page 189B, Dwelling #481, Family #481, National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, Roll 455, accessed on

* W. R. Seaver - age 35, male, a farmer, born Maryland

2)  I was unable to find William R. or W.R. Seaver in the 1860 and 1870 censuses.

3)  In the 1880 United States census, William R. Seaver resided in Millburn, Essex County, New Jersey (Dwelling #241, Family #270, Enumeration District 103, Page 593C, accessed on

* William R. Seaver - white, male, age 65, single, merchant, born Maryland, parents born Mass./Mass.

4)  An obituary for William R. Seaver was published in the New York Herald Tribune newspaper dated 28 April 1896 (accessed on It reads;

"Short Hills, April 27 (Special). -- William R. Seaver, one of the oldest and wealthiest residents of Short Hills, died at his residence, on Taylor Road, at 1 o'clock yesterday morning, from paralysis. Mr. Seaver was born in Baltimore about eighty-five years ago. His father was an officer in the United States Army, and was killed in the battle at North Point, Va., in 1814. After leaving college, young Seaver moved to Philadelphia, and afterward to New York, where he engaged in the tea importing business. He made several trips to China and Japan. He moved to Short Hills thirty-six years ago, and at that time he owned nearly the entire village. Mr. Seaver was a great fancier of horses, and some years ago built a half-mile track on his property. About five years ago he retired from active business. He was never married, and leaves a sister, who lives in Baltimore. The body will be taken to that city to-morrow and will be buried there, in Green Mount Cemetery."

I'm sure that I could find more resources in books and microfilm (especially land and probate records) from the Essex County, New Jersey area.

Why do I think that this William R. Seaver is the son of William and Martha (Davis) Seaver?  The clues are:

1)  He was born in the 1810 (age 85 in 1896) to 1815 (age 35 in 1850, age 65 in 1880) time frame in Maryland;  this is after the marriage of his parents.

2)  The birthplace of his parents is given as Massachusetts in the 1880 census; this matches all of the other records I have for the parents.  There were no other male Seaver persons in the 1880 census who were born in Maryland with parents born in Massachusetts.   

3)  The obituary in 1896 refers to an unnamed sister who lives in Baltimore.  And he is to be buried in Baltimore.  Information I have from my correspondent is that the unmarried sister Martha died in 1886, and that his unmarried sister Sarah died in 1900.  I need to find the grave in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore.  If he is buried with his mother and sisters, then that would be convincing evidence of the relationships.

What are the evidence conflicts?  The only one I see to date is this from the obituary:  "His father was an officer in the United States Army, and was killed in the battle at North Point, Va., in 1814."

That doesn't match the reality of the death of William Seaver (1782-1821).  Young William was old enough in 1821 (between ages 6 and 10) to remember vividly the death of his father.  Perhaps he told a romantic story about his father death in the War of 1812, rather than the reality.  Who provided the information to the newspaper on 27 April 1896, one day after his death?  Nobody can know the answer to this; it was likely a servant or family friend rather than his sister. 

One research avenue is to search for a Seaver that died in the War of 1812 in 1814.  I haven't done that yet, but I will!  I'm still having lots of fun with this research problem - not my ancestors, but a cousin!

Does any reader have any comments or ideas about this case?  Does any reader have access to Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore and can check the records or gravestones there?

Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver's Civil War Pension: War Department Folders

It's Treasure Chest Thursday, time to share one of the documents or artifacts in my family history collection.  In many 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. 

The compendium of previous posts for this Pension File is in Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver's Civil War Pension File: Compendium of Posts.

This week I'm posting one of the War Department folders in the pension file - both sides - that are images 42 and 43 received from NARA:

The transcription of this side (shown above is (blanks filled in are italicized and underlined):

[left hand side]

Name of Soldier
Isaac Seaver 3rd

Eastern Div.
CB Ex'r
No. 1,117,272
Bureau of Pensions, July 22, 189 2

It is alleged that the above-named man enlisted 10
Aug, 18 64, and served as a Pvt.
in Co. H, 4 Reg't Mass. Vol. H.A.
and was discharged at
Fort Richardson Va.
on 17 June, 18 65

The War Department will please furnish an official statement
in this case, showing date of enrollment and date and mode of
termination of service.
Very respectfully,
Andrew Davidson
Acting Commissioner

[right hand side]

War Department,
Record and Pension Division
Jul 23 1892

Respectfully returned to the
The rolls show that Isaac Seaver
mentioned in the preceding endorsement, was enrolled
Aug 10, 186 4, and
MO with Co June 17, 186 5
a Pvt

By authority of the Secretary of War:
J.C. Ainsworth
Col. U.S. Army

The transcription of the second side (shown above is (blanks filled in are italicized and underlined):

[left hand side]

Eastern Division

Department of the Interior

Washington, D.C., February 9, 18 93.
Respectfully, returned to the Chief
of the Record and Pension Division
for further search of the claimant
service record under the name of
Isaac Seaver 3d
Was there more than one of the name in Co.?
# 117,272
Isaac Seaver 3d
Pvt. Co. H, 4th Mass.
Vol Hy. Art'y.

Andrew Davidson
Acting Commissioner.

[right hand side]

Record and Pension Office
War Department
Washington, FEB 10 1893 [stamped]

Respectfully returned to the Comm.
of Pensions
with the information that the within
reported Isaac Seaver, Co.
H, 4 Mass. H. Arty is also
borne as Isaac Seaver, 3d.
There is no other soldier
of that name in the Co.

By authority of the Secretary of War:

J.C. Ainsworth
Colonel, U.S. Army, Chief of Office

These appear to be formal inquiries from one War Department government office to another, reduced to paper record.  The first image, left-hand side, dated 22 July 1892, asks if there is a record for the soldier Isaac Seaver 3d.  The right-hand side of the first image, dated 23 July 1892 (one day later), says that there was a soldier, named Isaac Seaver, who served in the stated company and regiment.

The second image (left-hand side), dated 9 February 1893, asks "was there another soldier by that name in the company?"  The right-hand side, dated 10 February 1893, says that the Isaac Seaver 3d noted is the only one in the company and regiment.  The same two government officials are involved, and Colonel Ainsworth has been made the permanent Chief of the Record and Pension Office of the War Department.

It took over six months for the information provided in July 1892 to be digested and acted upon (with another request for information) in February 1893.  I see from my list of posts that I haven't shown the award of the pension to Isaac Seaver.  Perhaps next week!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

CGSSD Meeting on Saturday, 16 April - Exploring FamilySearch

From Judy Davis of the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego:

The Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego meets on the 3rd Saturday of each month (except December) from 9:00 a.m. to noon on the campus of UCSD, University of California, San Diego.

The next meeting will be held on 16 Apr 2011 from 9:00 am to noon.

9:00 - User groups: Family Tree Maker and Macintosh; SIG:

10:00 - Break, refreshments

10:15 - Announcements followed by:

Exploring FamilySearch - The Very Best FREE Genealogy Website
by Randy Seaver

FamilySearch (owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has completely revised their website ( to host all of their past and future online offerings. There is a wealth of FREE historical record collections on the site, with more being added every month as a result of image processing and Volunteer Indexing. The online Research Wiki, which replaces the paper Research Guides, provides educational material about genealogy research techniques, historical record collections, and localities (countries, states, counties). The Family History Library Catalog has been improved with links to online books and records. Many online Research Courses (video presentations) have been provided for continuing education, with more added regularly. FamilySearch Forums provide an opportunity to interact with FamilySearch and subject matter experts. The new FamilySearch Family Tree is still in development, and may be available to all researchers later in 2011.

In this presentation, Randy Seaver will review the educational opportunities, the available record databases, the Family History Library Catalog, the Family Tree, and more.
Randy Seaver is a native San Diegan. His ancestry is mainly colonial New England and Upper Atlantic, with some colonial German, French and Dutch forebears, and several 19th-century English immigrants. He has been pursuing his elusive ancestors since 1988, and has been online since 1992. He is a past president of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society, and is currently the newsletter editor and research chair. He speaks to Southern California societies, libraries and groups, teaches "Beginning Computer Genealogy" adult classes at OASIS, and writes the Genealogy 2.0 column for the FGS FORUM magazine. He is a member of NGS, NEHGS, SDGS, CGSSD and CVGS. Randy blogs daily about genealogy subjects at Genea-Musings (, The Geneaholic ( and the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe (
We meet at the Robinson Auditorium complex on the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus in La Jolla. From North Torrey Pines Road turn at Pangea Drive into UCSD. Free parking is available in the parking garage on the left; use any space except those reserved for UCSD vehicles. Signs will mark directions to our meeting room. Please refer to our website; or the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies website for driving directions and a map.

Results from Myles Proudfoot Online Survey of Genealogists

Myles Proudfoot, who writes the Family History 21ster blog (started as a result of attending the RootsTech Conference in February 2011), has compiled the results of his Genealogy Habits, Attitudes and Origins online survey.

Myles' blog post Results from Family History Survey now available explains the survey:

"The Family History Survey was fielded March 12 to April 5 2011. Respondents were self-selecting, linking to the survey from Twitter feeds, genealogy blogs posts, Facebook pages, LinkedIn and email forwards.
A variety of genealogists responded to the survey from the inexperienced to highly proficient. I make no claim to be have a random representative sample. There is a respondent skew towards those more connected via social media."
The survey results are available in Microsoft Word format on Dropbox - use the link on Myles' post.
Myles also asks the genealogical community to analyze and draw conclusions from this survey.  There are 51 questions, and it is difficult to assess everything immediately. 
The one question with responses confused me was question #20 - " Which of the following websites have you used in the past 3 months?"  The compilation of the results listed a number of websites by order of number of responses, with a percentage number.  For instance, had 244 responses, and a percentage of 89.1%.  I believe this means that 244 respondents indicated they had used an website, and that 89.1% of the persons that answered this question had indicated they visited  If that's the case, then only 274 out of 1,021 respondents to the survey have used any website listed in the past three months.  The other percentages work out to a total of 274 respondents to the question. had a 79.9% rate, was at 70.4%, at 63.4%etc.   The responses that surprised me included at 3.3% and at 8.0%.
Does this mean that only 274 out of 1,021 (26.8%) answered this question, or are one set of the numbers wrong as presented in the table?
Question #21 asked " Do you have any paid subscriptions to genealogy societies or websites?"  74.1% indicated they have a paid subscription to online family history websites, and 42.3% have a current subscription to a family history society.  Those are impressive numbers, but likely reflect the fact that online genealogists were surveyed.  8.9% have never subscribed to either a subscription website or a society.
Question #24 asked "Have you personally taken any DNA testing for genealogy purposes?"  20.8% of respondents said they had.  I think that's pretty impressive.  It also provides more opportunity for DNA Testing companies to publicize their offerings to gain more customers.
Question #29 asked: "What, if any, social networking services do you use?"  Facebook was selected by 76.4%, LinkedIn by 28.5%, and Twitter by 27.8%.  None was picked by 19.9%.  Again, this is probably due to the survey sample being online researchers, and is not representative of the genealogy community.
What questions did you find interesting or confusing?  Please comment here, or directly to Myles on his blog.

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Post 148: Carringer House Almost Ready

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//Carringer family collection handed down by my mother in the 1988 to 2002 time period:

This photograph was taken by my grandfather, Lyle Lawrence Carringer (1891-1976) in October 1951 (according to the note on the back of the photo).  It shows the nearly completed house that my grandparents built on Point Loma at 825 Harbor View Place overlooking San Diego Bay.

The exterior of the home is completed in this photograph, but there is no vegetation planted yet.  I don't know if the interior of the house has been finished yet, but I know that they moved into the house in November 1951. 

The automobile in front of the house may be Lyle's car.  I'm just not sure if that is theirs or not, and the three cars we saw last week may have been neighbors or construction workers automobiles.  I doubt that my grandparents bought a new car between last week's picture and this week's picture!  The auto in this picture is shown in several other photos from the October 1951 time period, so I'm thinking now that this is the Carringer's automobile.  What is it?  Now I think that it might be a 1942 Studebaker Commander, but nothing on the Studebaker page looks exactly like the car in my photo above!

UPDATED 14 April:  Reader Ben Walker emailed that he thinks the car is a 1941 Hudson.  I checked and think that Ben is right!  Thanks, Ben!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Where is the Old Fulton NY History Site?

I was putting my presentation together for my CVGS Research Group meeting on Newspapers tomorrow, and when I clicked on my Bookmark for the Old Fulton County NY History site with old postcards and newspapers ( I got:

Ruh-roh...what happened?  Did it move?  If so, where?  Did they not pay their provider?  Did someone swallow it up behind a firewall?  Does anyone know?  Is there someone to contact? 

A Google search revealed no announcement or comment about the site.  It would be a shame to lose this site.

UPDATE:  The commenters Roger and Norman and Karen Leverich (in a Facebook comment) cleared this yup - the link is now .  And Charley G clarified it is not Fulton County but the town of Fulton in Oswego County... Thank you all!

Isaac Seaver (1823-1901), My Only Civil War Soldier

Whether through good fortune or happenstance, I have only one known Civil War Soldier.

Isaac Seaver recounted his service in his Civil War Pension Application (see Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver's Pension Declaration for details):

"State of Massachusetts County of Worcester, SS,
on this 11th day of June, A.D. one thousand eight hundred and ninety two,
personally appeared before me, a Notary Public
within and for the County and State aforesaid, Isaac Seaver 3d
aged 68 years, a resident of the town of Clinton
County of Worcester State of Massachusetts, who being
duly sworn according to law, declares that he is the identical Isaac Seaver 3d
who was ENROLLED on the 10th day of August, 1864 in  Company H
(private) 4th Reg't H'y Arty. Mass. Vol's
in the war of the rebellion, and served at least
ninety days, and was HONORABLY DISCHARGED at Fort Richardson, Va. on the 19th
day of June, 1865. "

Isaac Seaver (1823-1901) was living in the 1860-1865 time period in Westminster, Worcester County, Massachusetts with his second wife Lucretia (Smith) Seaver (1827-1884) and his four children - Juliette Seaver (1847-1910, by his first wife), Frank Walton Seaver (1852-1922), Benjamin Seaver (1854-1894), and Elizabeth Lucinda Seaver (1858-1914).  In the 1860 U.S. Census, Isaac Seaver's occupation is listed as a blacksmith, with real property valued at $1,800 and personal property valued at $300.

Isaac registered for the Civil War draft in 1863, as shown in Isaac Seaver's Civil War Draft Registration Record.  His occupation was listed as a mechanic.

Before he left for his service in the 4th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery, Isaac and Lucretia Seaver had their pictures taken and put in a Union Case photograph:

When did the 4th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery form and here did they serve?  There is a Wikipedia article that describes their service:

"In the late summer of 1864, fourteen companies of heavy artillery were raised throughout Massachusetts for the purpose of coastal defense of the state. They were to be "unattached", thus not part of a regiment, and sent to various military locations for a one-year term. They were numbered 17 through 30, and were the Unattached Companies of Heavy Artillery. They encamped on Gallops Island in Boston Harbor, where they organized and were mustered in during latter part of August and into the first days of September 1864. In September, they were ordered to Washington, DC for garrison duty in the forts surrounding the capital. The last companies to leave, the 29th and 30th, left on 26 Sept and 29 Oct, respectively.

"On 12 Nov 1864, a War Department order consolidated 12 of the companies, numbered 17 through 28, into one regiment, the 4th Regiment Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. Col William S King, formerly of the 35th Massachusetts Infantry, was put in command. They remained in Washington for the remainder of the war, until their mustering out on 17 June 1865."

That sounds very unexciting - it sounds like they were the reserve force sent to protect Washington DC in case the Confederates attached the city.  The "unexciting" service is borne out by the number of those in the regiments that died:  the Wikipedia article says:

"The regiment consisted of 72 officers and 1757 enlisted men, 21 of them dying by disease or accident."

For this 10 months of service, Isaac Seaver received a pension in 1892, as detailed in my series Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver's Civil War Pension File: Compendium of Posts.

Tuesday's Tip - Find Probate Records of your Ancestors

Today's Tuesday's Tip is to:  Search for, find, and carefully read Probate Records for your ancestral families.

Probate records include wills, administrations, inventories, bonds, affidavits, distributions, receipts, accounts, and so on.  They often include guardianship records for orphaned children.  Probate records for deceased persons are either testate (with a valid will) or intestate (without a valid will).  A will usually names an executor (executrix if female), and if it does not, then the court will name an administrator.  If the deceased was intestate, the Probate Court will appoint an administrator (administratrix if female).  Usually, the names of the heirs-at-law of a deceased person, with their relationship to the deceased and their residence, will be listed in an intestate probate.  Inventories detail the real and personal property held by the deceased person.

Where can you find probate records for your ancestral families?  The "easy" answer is in the Probate Court offices in the jurisdiction where the person died, or had substantial property.  In most U.S. states, that will be a county Probate Court, although some New England states had District Courts for one or more towns until the 20th century.  If you go to a Probate Court office (at least in New England), the probate cases are filed in packets with a packet number.  In the packet will be all of the papers that concerned the particular case.  In some Probate Courts, you cannot access the packets and will have to rely on microfilms of the Probate Court clerk records.

In general, probate record indexes are not online, and the actual probate records (the wills, inventories, etc.) are almost never online, unless they have been published in an eBook, a website or blog.  Some probate records, especially wills, from the 17th century have been published in books available at genealogy libraries.

If you cannot easily access the probate packets at a local courthouse or archive, you can probably access them on microfilm at your local LDS Family History Center.  Search the online Family History Library Catalog (  for your state and county of interest, and select Probate Records from the list.  Look first for an index of probate records, order that microfilm, and find all of the potential probate record packet numbers or volume/page numbers.  Then order those packets, volume/page numbers for your targets.  Copy the pages (all of them if possible) to paper, or to a flash drive to upload to your computer.  Read the pages carefully, noting names and relationships.  Transcribe the papers if you can and add them to the notes in your genealogy database.

My belief is that many previously unsolved relationship problems of parents to children will be solved once the FHLC microfilms of county probate records are indexed and put online by FamilySearch.  The indexes are name-rich, and so are the actual probate records.  Many more parents of married daughters (those Sarah --?-- in our databases that appear in the 1850 census without any other clue to their parentage), and parents of sons with common surnames, will be found once these records are indexed. 

For examples of what you might find, check my Amanuensis Monday blog posts - there are over 60 posts in that series, and most of them are probate record transcriptions.  I love Probate Records!

 The papers in a Probate Packet in a courthouse are original sources (first writing of the record), with primary information (first-hand information known to the writers) and direct evidence (provides specific name, date, location, relationship information) - the very best sort of family history data.  The papers found on the FHLC microfilms of the Probate Court clerk records are image copies of derivative sources (since they are not the first writing, but a clerk's copy), but they almost always are the best resource you can find if you cannot access the Probate Packets at the courthouse or on microfilm. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm a Proud GeniMate!

I was thrilled when Jill Ball asked me to fill in the form and be highlighted on her GeniMates blog.  She published it today with the rather humble title of Randy Seaver.  With my picture, and all sorts of biographical information. 

If you haven't seen GeniMates yet, here is today's post screen:

You'll have to scroll down a bit to see the information.

While you're there, check out the GeniMates Archives and read about others of your favorite GeniMates. 

If Jill asks you to be a GeniMate, please do agree to do it.  It's a simple fill-in-the-blank form and takes only 10 to 15 minutes of your time.  Your genea-blogger friends will appreciate it.

Thank you, Jill, for the opportunity and your part in helping to knit the genea-blogger community together.  Are there GeniMate T-shirts yet? 

You Might be A Genealogist If ... SNGF Recap

I posted Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - You Might be a Genealogist if ... on Saturday, with my own sayings, and we had a pretty good response.  I have several links to blog posts by players and some responses to the question in comments.

Here are the blog posts I've found to date:

You Might Be a Genealogist If… Saturday Night Fun… by Tina Sansone on the Gtownma's Genealogy blog.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun by Daniel Dillman on the Indiana Dillmans blog.

SNGF: You Might be a Genealogist if . . . by Katie O on the You Are Where You Came From blog.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - You Might be a Genealogist if ...  by Nick Gombash on Nick Gombash's Genealogy Blog. 

You Might Be a Genealogist if . . . by Wendy Littrell on the All My Branches Genealogy blog.

Saturday Night Fun You might be a genealogist if by Charles Hansen on the Mikkel's Hus blog.

Challenges, challenges for Genealogists ? by Susi Pentico on the Susi's Chatty Performances on Genealogy blog.

If I've missed capturing your SNGF blog post, please let me know by email ( or in a comment to this post.  I will update this list as needed.

Updated last on 11 April 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Probate Records of Samuel Whitney (1719-1782) of Westminster, MA

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started a Monday blog theme many months ago called Amanuensis Monday. What does "amanuensis" mean? John offers this definition:

"A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another."

The subject today is the intestate probate packet of Samuel Whitney (1719-1782), who died in Westminster, Worcester County, Massachusetts.  He married Abigail Fletcher (1720-????), daughter of John and Mary (Goble) Fletcher, in 1741, and they had 13 children:  Abigail Whitney (1742-????); Mary Whitney (1744-????); Samuel whitney (1746-1812); Abner Whitney (1748-1811); Achsah Whitney (1750-1772); Silas Whitney (1752-1798); Martha Whitney (1755-1755); Elisha Whitney (1757-1810); Alpheus Whitney (1759-1821); Phinehas Whitney (1761-1832); Hananiah Whitney (1762-1835); Martha Whitney (1764-1832); Susannah Whitney (1767-????).

Samuel Whitney died intestate; his probate records are in Worcester County [Massachusetts] Probate Records, Probate Packet 65,123 (viewed at Worcester County Courthouse).  His widow, Abigail, was appointed administratrix of his estate on 21 February 1783, with bond in the amount of 800 pounds.

An inventory was taken by Abner Holden, Nathan Howard and Thomas Stearns, all of Westminster, on 20 May 1783;  the inventory of the personal estate amounted to 83 pounds, 14 shillings and 11 pence; there was no real estate listed.

It is apparent that he gave or sold his land holdings to his children before his death, since the estate had such a small value.  Abigail's account was allowed 20 May 1783, with a balance of over 35 pounds. This was ordered distributed, after certain debts were paid, to the children.  On 15 June 1785, the heirs submitted a receipt (Worcester County [MA] Probate Records, 20.421, on FHL Microfilm 0,856,285).:

"We the subscribers do hereby acknowledge that we have each of us severally and for our selves received of our honoured mother, Abigail Whitney, Adx on the estate of our honoured father - Samuel Whitney late of said Westminster deceased the sum of two pounds three shillings in full of our part of the household furniture belonging to the estate of said deceased and we do severally acquit and discharge the said administratrix for our selves and heirs of all demands or rights or Chalange we or our heirs have or may have to the same & that this shall be a full and final acquittance for our selves and heirs to the above said household furniture forever by these presents.  In witness whereof we have hereunto severally set our hands the day and year aforesaid  Alpheus Whitney, Elisha Whitney, Benjamin Sever, Hananiah Whitney, Mary Scott, Silas Whitney, Job Whitcomb, Hannah Whitney."

Eight persons are listed in the receipt above - Alpheus, Elisha, Hananiah and Silas Whitney are the surviving sons of Samuel Whitney.  Benjamin Sever is the husband of the youngest surviving daughter, Martha Whitney.  Mary Scott was a surviving daughter, who married (1) Elijah Gibbs and (2) Edward Scott.  The names in the list are not in age order.  Sons Samuel, Abner and Phinehas Whitney are not named, and were living at this time, so they may have received their portions from the administratrix separately.  The widow's third portion is not accounted for either - that would be something less than 12 pounds. A split of the balance into eleven shares would be a bit more than 2 pounds each, which is what the receipt says each received.

I don't know how Job Whitcomb is related - did he marry a daughter of Samuel Whitney?  My records show that two of the five known daughters of Samuel Whitney died young - Martha and Achsah.  I don't have marriage or death records for Abigail or Susannah, but they are not named in the receipt above.  I don't have a marriage record for Abigail Whitney born in 1742.  There is an Abigail Whitney who married a Job Whitcomb on 5 March 1769, as his second wife, in Littleton, Massachusetts.   This receipt - one small piece of paper - provides evidence that the Abigail Whitney married to Job Whitney was the daughter of Samuel and Abigail (Fletcher) Whitney. 

I also don't know who Hannah Whitney is - she is the last named person in the receipt.  Is she an unrecorded child?  None of the sons died before 1810, so Hannah is probably not a widow of one of the sons.  But she received a portion of the estate, so she must be either a daughter, the widow of a son, a daughter of a deceased son, or a daughter of an unmarried daughter.  Abigail (Fletcher)Whitney was age 47 when she had the last known daughter, Susannah.  Did she have another daughter, Hannah?  She had had 13 children over a period of 25 years (1742 to 1767), but a Hannah was not mentioned.  Some researchers say that Hannah is the Hananiah born in 1762, but the receipt above shows both Hananiah and Hannah. Was Hannah the Susannah born in 1767? 'Tis a mystery!

 There is another resource for the children of Samuel and Abigail (Fletcher) Whitney - from the book Historic homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts, with a history of Worcester society of antiquity, Volume 4,  by Ellery Bicknell Crane, 1907, page 129. It reads:

"(V) Lieutenant Samuel Whitney, son of William Whitney (4), was born in Weston, Massachusetts, May 23, 1719. He married, October 20, 1741, Abigail Fletcher. He was a leading man in the settlement of the town of Westminster, Massachusetts, and was frequently elected to office. He went there from his native town of Weston probably soon after his marriage, about 1742. The old Whitney homestead there was owned lately by the Hartwell family, only the cellar hole remaining to mark the site of the old house, on Lot 51 near the north common. He was prominent, capable and much esteemed, one of the executive committee of the proprietors and a selectman three years after incorporation. He was a lieutenant in the revolution. He was a man of wealth as well as influence in Winchendon, and gave each of his sons a farm. He died January 1, 1782. The children of Samuel and Abigail Whitney: 1. Abigail, born August 27, 1742. probably died young. 2. Mary, born May 29, 1744, married Elijah Gibson and Edward Scott, of Westminster. 3. Samuel, born February 11, 1746, married Thankful Wilder. 4. Abner, see forward. 5. Achsah, born September 30, 1750, died May 14, 1772. 6Silas, born October 20, 1752, married Sarah Withington. 7. Martha, born November 26, 175S. died young. 8. Elisha, born July 2, 1757, married Eunice Seaver. 9. Alpheus, born February 25, 1759. married Esther Hartwell. 10. Phinehas, born January 16, 1761, married Elizabeth Rand. 11. Hananiah, born December 18, 1762, married Azubah Keyes. 12. Martha, born September 18, 1764, married (first) Benjamin Seaver and (second) Isaac Seaver. 13. Susanna, born February 9, 1767, died young."

As you can see, Hannah Whitney is not mentioned.  What is the source for this biography of Samuel Whitney?  It was probably the Heywood book, The History of Westminster, which relied on the town records.  That book did not have information about Abigail Whitney marrying Job Whitcomb because it did not happen in Westminster or a nearby town.

Do you see why I love land and probate records?  Do you see why every piece of paper in a probate packet may be significant?  Do you see why the researcher must analyze every bit of evidence found in the records?