Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Write Your Own Obituary

Another Saturday Night, and I ain't got nobody ... wait, Sam Cooke, it's time for Genealogy Fun!!

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

1)  Geneabloggers is running an obituary writing contest - and you can win an ObitKit by participating.  See ObitKit™ Contest – What’s In Your Obituary?  Read the rules!

2)  Write your own obituary in a blog post of your own, or in a Comment on this post, or in a Facebook Status line or a Google Plus Stream line.  [Note, you may freak out your Facebook Friends or Stream followers if you do this without a warning.]  BE CREATIVE, but accurate...have fun doing this!

3)  Be sure to post a link back to your own obituary on the ObitKit™ Contest – What’s In Your Obituary?  post.

Here's mine:

23 October 1943 to 1 April 2054

He had hoped to live to age 114, so that he would be the oldest person in his family tree.  He fell only four years short.  The body worked perfectly for all of these years.  Randy died doing what he loved best - pursuing his family history wherever it led him, to libraries, courthouses, cemeteries, and the Intergalactic Web.  He had just found a treasure trove of Newton family records in an attic in Maine and while reading through them, the floor of the attic collapsed and he fell through to the floor below, striking his head on his motorized chair.  Death was instantaneous.

What a wonderful life!  Randy was born at Paradise Valley Sanitarium in National City, California (now Ciudad National, Alta California) to Frederick W. and Betty V. (Carringer) Seaver, who had married on 30 July 1942 in San Diego.  He attended school at Brooklyn Elementary (now Einstein Academy), Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School (now Emilio Zapata Middle School), San Diego High School (class of 1961), and San Diego State University (class of 1966), majoring in Aerospace Engineering.

The aircraft industry boomed after World War II in San Diego, and Randy worked for Wagner Aircraft Company in 1963, for Sunrise Aircraft Company in La Mesa from 1964 to 1967, and then for Rohr Aircraft Company (which was purchased by Goodrich in 1997), from 1967 to 2002 and after retiring in 2002 he worked from 2004 to 2006 as a contract engineer.  He worked as an Aerodynamics Engineer, moved into engineering management in 1979, rising to be Chief of Aerodynamics and Thermodynamics.  His specialties were turbofan thrust reverser design and testing, engine nacelle fluid dynamics, and FORTRAN computer programming.  He worked on many Boeing, McDonnell-Douglas and Airbus Industrie aircraft, and Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and General Electric engine nacelle projects. 

Randy met the love of his life in 1968 - Linda J. Leland, an elementary school teacher in Coronado.  They married on 21 March 1970 in Chula Vista at Chula Vista Presbyterian Church, where they held membership for the rest of their lives.  Their first home was an apartment in Chula Vista, and they bought a home on Otay Mesa in 1972, and moved to their home on Via Trieste in Chula Vista in 1975.  There they raised two wonderful daughters - Lori born in 1974 and Tami, born in 1976.  The girls were successful in their school work and graduated from college with advanced degrees.  Linda went back to work in 1989 at a Chula Vista elementary school. 

One of the highlights of their lives was the birth of five grandchildren, - Lori had two boys, Lucas and Logan, and Tami had two girls, Lauren and Audrey and a boy, Charlie.  As the grandkids grew up, Randy and Linda doted on them and enjoyed seeing them grow into successful adults - an astronaut, an artist, a medical doctor, a college professor, and a dentist.  The five grandchildren have filled out the family tree even more - Randy and Linda now have 12 great-grandchildren and 27 great-great-grandchildren.

Outside of his work life, Randy began studying his genealogy and family history in 1988, inspired by the 1976 book Roots by Alex Haley (his books-to-be read list was pretty long in those days).   Frederick Seaver had a fine New England and English ancestry, with families back to the Mayflower, the Winthrop fleet, and hundreds of other Great Migration settlers.  Randy is the 12th generation Seaver that starts with Robert Seaver (1608-1683), who immigrated to Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1634 (Robert, Shubael, Joseph, Robert, Norman, Benjamin, Benjamin, Isaac, Frank, Frederick, Frederick, Randy).  Fred's English ancestry was to the Richman family in Hilperton, Wiltshire area, who immigrated to Connecticut in 1856.

On his mother's side, the Carringer line has been traced back five generations to Martin Carringer (1758-1835) who settled in Mercer County, Pennsylvania after the Revolutionary War. Betty's ancestry is much more diverse - with American colonial ancestry from England, Germany, France and Holland, and several Canadian Loyalist families.  There was only one post-Revolution immigrant family - Vaux from Somerset in England to New York during the 1830s.

During over 50 years of genealogy research, Randy solved almost all of his "brick-wall" family history problems, with the exception of the parents of Devier Lamphier Smith in New York, and the Thomas J. Newton line in Maine.  It is hoped that his namesake great-grandson, Randall Seaver Smith-Newton can solve those problems.  He leaves an online family tree at with over 200,000 persons in it, fully sourced to the "Millsource standard" and documented with record images, with links to over 20 U.S. Presidents and all of the pre-Conquest royal houses of Europe.  Most of his ancestral families have been added into the FamilySearch Family Tree, which has over 3 billion entries.

During his illustrious genealogy career, Randy published four ancestral family histories on his own ancestry, a ten generation multi-volume work on Descendants of Robert Seaver (1608-1683), and a volume on Linda's ancestry.   He was one of the earliest genealogy bloggers, but gave that up in 2022 after 16 years in order to write the books before he passed on.  During this period, he also wrote genealogy magazine articles, served local genealogical societies, spoke on family history subjects at societies and conferences, and taught genealogy at local societies. 

Randy and Linda loved to travel, having been to 40 states, the British Isles, northern, eastern, western and southern Europe, Israel, the Caribbean, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Tahiti and Canada in their lifetimes.  They included heritage travel in some of their vacations.  Unfortunately, mobility problems limited them in their later years.  Linda passed away in 2039 at the age of 96, after 69 years of marriage.  Randy moved into the Home for Retired Genealogists in Oakland soon after so that he could be close to his daughters and their progeny.  He was still going on research trips until his death.

A memorial service for Randy will be at Chula Vista Presbyterian Church in Chula Vista, Alta California, with burial next to Linda in Glen Abbey Memorial Park in Bonita, California. 

Note to readers:  This is not an actual obituary - Randy is still alive at its writing. However, it could be used to form an obituary by editing the futuristic work (including the publishing, Linda's death, and Randy's death circumstances) appropriately.  As written, this would cost about $2,000 in newspaper fees in 2011 dollars!  Better to put it on the Internet, since nobody will read newspapers in 2054, or will they?

Surname Saturday - ATWOOD (England > Massachusetts)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week. I am up to number 285, who is Hannah ATWOOD (1686-????), one of my 6th-great-grandparents. [Note: The 6th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts]

My ancestral line back through four generations of ATWOOD  families is:

1. Randall J. Seaver

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

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

8. Frank Walton Seaver (1852-1922)
9. Hattie Louise Hildreth (1857-1920)

16. Isaac Seaver (1823-1901)
17. Lucretia Townsend Smith (1827-1884)

34. Alpheus B. Smith (1802-1840)
35. Elizabeth Horton Dill (1791-1869)

70. Thomas Dill (1755-after 1830)
71. Hannah Horton (1761-1797)

142.  Nathaniel Horton (1721-1775)
143.  Eunice Snow (1722-????)

 284.  Samuel Horton, born 31 January 1686 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States; died before 01 April 1778 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States.  He was the son of 568. John Horton and 569. Hannah.  He married 28 January 1714 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States.
 285.  Hannah Atwood, born about 1686 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States.

Children of Samuel Horton and Hannah Atwood are: John Horton (1715-????); Hannah Horton (1718-????); Nathaniel Horton (1721-1775); Susanna Horton (1723-????); Abigail Horton (1725-1765); Elizabeth Horton (1727-1760); Samuel Horton (1729-1799); James Horton (1731-xxxx).

570.  Stephen Atwood, born about 1653 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States; died before July 1722 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States.  He married June 1677 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States.
 571.  Apphia Bangs, born 13 October 1651 in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States; died after July 1722 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States.  She was the daughter of 1142. Edward Bangs and 1143. Rebecca Hobart.

Children of Stephen Atwood and Apphia Bangs are: Stephen Atwood (1678-????); Malchiel Atwood (1679-1728); Joseph Atwood (1680-1740); Apphia Atwood (1681-????); Eleazer Atwood (1681-1729); Joshua Atwood (1683-1724); Hannah Atwood (1686-????); Thomas Atwood (1696-1784).

 1140.  Stephen Atwood, born 1616 in London, London, England; died 21 December 1694 in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States. He married 13. Abigail Dunham 06 November 1644 in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States.
 1141.  Abigail Dunham, born 1627 in Leiden, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands; died after 25 January 1668 in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States.  She was the daughter of 1182. John Dunham and 2283. Abigail Ballou.

Children of Stephen Atwood and Abigail Dunham are: Abigail Atwood (1645-1684); John Atwood (1646-????); Hannah Atwood (1649-1729); Eldad Atwood (1651-1707); Stephen Atwood (1653-1722); Daniel Atwood (1655-1735); Medad Atwood (1659-????).

2280.  John Atwood, born before 04 February 1583 in Sanderstead, Surrey, England; died 27 February 1644 in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States.  He was the son of 4560. Nicholas Atwood and 4561. Olive Harman.  He married 25 July 1612 in St. Martin's, Surrey, England.
 2281.  Joan Coleson, born about 1585 in London, London, England; died 01 June 1654 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States.

Children of John Atwood and Joan Coleson are:  Johanna Atwood (1613-????); Harmon Atwood (1613-1651); John Atwood (1614-1673); Stephen Atwood (1616-1694); Agnes Atwood (1618-????); Henry Atwood (1620-1670); Philip Atwood (1620-1700); William Atwood (1622-????).

 My research in this family line is incomplete.  I have obtained the above information from derivative sources without references to original sources, so please take the information above as tentative.

There is a multi-generational article in Mayflower Descendants, 46:131-136, 47:33-40, and 47:123-130 that is on my list of articles to obtain and peruse.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Follow Friday - Weekend Genealogy Fun

Here are my recommendations for some Genealogy Fun this weekend:

1) Listen to Geneabloggers Radio tonight (Friday night, 9 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. CT, 7 p.m. MT and 6 p.m. PT) hosted by Thomas MacEntee. This week's topic is "The Final Chapter – Obituaries, Death Records and Genealogy." The special guests include:

* Susan Soper, author and journalist who has created ObitKit™, a book – a guide – a plan for writing your own obituary or that of a family member or friend.
Diana Crisman Smith, a professional genealogist, author and educator, who teaches the Death Records 101 course at Family Tree University.

2) Listen to the FGS Radio - My Society show on Saturday (2 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. CT, 12 noon MT, 11 a.m. PT) hosted by Thomas MacEntee this week. The topic is "If Your Society Folded Today, Would Anyone Care?" The special guest is:

*   FGS Director Randy Whited whose recent blog post at entitled We’re Doing It Wrong has generated an important discussion on the survival of genealogy societies.

In addition, we’ll be highlighting FGS member society, North Hills Genealogists in our weekly Society Spotlight feature.
3) Check out the recent Webinars on:

The Three Cs of Irish Research: Civil Registration, Church Records, and Census. by Judith Eccles Wight (Legacy Family Tree, free until 31 October 2011).* Exploring and by their founder, Paul Allen. (Legacy Family Tree)
* "Newspapers for Genealogists: Using to document every day of your ancestors' lives" with Tom Kemp. (Legacy Family Tree)
* "Organizng for Success" with Karen Clifford (Legacy Family Tree)
* "The Power of DNA in Unlocking Family Relationships," with Ugo Perugo (Legacy Family Tree)
* "Leveraging the Power of "We": a Watershed Event in Discovering Where to Find Your Ancestors (Research Wiki, Research Courses, and FamilySearch Forums)," with Michael Ritchey (Legacy Family Tree).

* RootsMagic Webinars (all free) available at

* National Genealogical Society (NGS) Videos (some are free to view) at

* Thomas MacEntee's Explorinar on Easy Website Creation (free to view).
* Thomas MacEntee's Explorinar on Evernote - Easy Note Taking UPDATED (free to view)

4) Respond to my Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge, posted on soon after 12 noon Pacific time (that's 1900 GMT for those who understand time zones).

5) Go to a local genealogical society program. I'm not going to any local society this weekend, but you might want to check out what's offered in your area.

6) Go to a local or close repository with genealogy and family history material. Do some research in traditional resources or order FamilySearch microfilms online with original source records.

7) Do some online research in the latest record collections at FamilySearch (free,, Ancestry ($$,, Fold3 ($$,, WorldVitalRecords ($$,, American Ancestors ($$,, GenealogyBank ($$,, etc.

8) Add material (names, dates, places, notes, images, sources, etc.) to your genealogy software program. I still have three inches of paper collected from my vacation, and will try to enter some of it into my database this weekend.

9) Spend time with your family doing fun things. We have the two granddaughters with us this weekend, plus our new grandhound, Spencer - he's a basset puppy.   I'll try really hard to make some good family history!

10) Go to a local cemetery and clean stones, take gravestone pictures, or transcribe epitaphs for your local society, for Find-a-Grave, or a similar online service.

Whatever you decide, please tell us about your genealogy endeavors on a social network or in a blog post. You never know when your experiences may stimulate or encourage others to do useful genealogy work.

Follow-up Friday - Dane County, Wisconsin Naturalization Records

I'm writing "Follow-Up Friday" posts in order to highlight comments made by readers that raise issues, and I will try to make useful responses.

In my post Treasure Chest Thursday - A Certificate of Naturalization for T.S. Leland, Geolover commented that:

"Randy, your series is useful in indirectly pointing out that many governmental jurisdictions have sent original records to other repositories.

"You still have not said why you decided not to go to the County Courthouses.

"In response to your question about location of declarations of intention, I took a quick look at the LDS Family History Library Catalog. This lists Declarations and Oaths on microfilm for two different Dane County courts and for a Madison Municipal Court.,+Dane&author_givenName=&author_surname=&uri=http%3A//catalog-search-api%3A8080/www-catalogapi-webservice/search%3Fquery%3Dsubject_id%3A360067%26count%3D50&subjectId=360067

"The naturalization case files containing these may still be in the Courts' storage facilities, but it is possible that some were discarded when the book you looked at was transferred to the Historical Society. Possibly the Historical Society also has the microfilm, but the person you talked to did not know how to look it up."

Thank you for the comment, Geolover. 

Indeed, one of my major purposes in writing almost every blog post is to demonstrate that "All records are not on the Internet" (but there are many!), not on Family History Library microfilm (again, there are many records on microfilm), or in local, regional or national libraries/archives.  By highlighting a set of records found in a State Archive, my hope is that other researchers will consider looking at the resources in State Archives.

I decided not to go to the Dodge County, Wisconsin court house because I knew from my reading that the files in that county were burned in 1877.  Since my Devier Smith and Ranslow Smith left Dodge County in 1867, I figured that I would not find anything if I went to the Dodge County Courthouse.

I didn't go to the Dane County Courthouse because of severe time limitations.  My wife had suffered through three days of driving on our vacation, and waiting for me to do research in Dodge and Dane Counties, and was eager to do something more useful and fun.  So we went looking for homesteads and graveyards in Dane county rather than going to the Courthouse.  I also figured that the land and probate records for her Norwegian families in Dane County were probably on FHL microfilm and could be found during a visit to the FHL in Salt Lake City.

As Geolover pointed out, the Family History Library Catalog has Dane County naturalization records.  An index is available in Naturalization card index for Dane County, Wisconsin, which I think is the card file that I accessed at the Wisconsin Historical Society Archives.  I can't find an FHL microfilm description that matches the book of records that I accessed for Torger S. Leland's declaration.  In this case, accessing the naturalization records at the State Archives was probably the best option, but I didn't know that before  I went.  There may be naturalization record files at some other repository also, as Geolover suggested. 

It seems like our work is never done, doesn't it? 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What is the Status of the FamilySearch Family Tree?

In Beta Test of FamilySearch's Family Tree, James Tanner (write of the excellent Genealogy's Star blog), highlighted a FamilySearch White Paper titled "The Case for Moving to 'Our Tree'" from April, 2011.  The FamilySearch Family Tree is, of course, the website, where all of the LDS Church Membership, Temple Ordinance, Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File and other genealogy data resides in a large interconnected family tree, rife with duplicate persons, duplicate facts, limited documented sources, and a relatively complicated interface. 

I had missed this white paper, "The Case for Moving to 'Our Tree,'" so I asked James if he had a link to it, and he helped me find it at

There are several interesting quotes from this seven page document:

"We have not yet met the goal of reducing duplicate research, which requires an accurate, source-based family tree whose data endures longer than any of the researchers who contribute to it. "


"The genealogical information from the Pedigree Resource File, Ancestral File, Church membership records, and Church temple records will not automatically become conclusions, as they are now. Instead, they will be large resources of "opinion" data that you can search and use to create conclusions.

"To allow a community of interested researchers to identify, record, and maintain an accurate set of conclusions in the family tree, the family tree feature will be modified to:
• Remove features that prevent you from correcting other contributors’ data.
• Add new collaboration, monitoring, and roll-back features to help control this more open environment."

The White Paper describes the Goals, the Challenges, and the stated Solution to turn the current tree structure, which is a conglomeration of "My Trees" interconnected, into an "Our Tree" system that relies upon documented sources and researcher collaboration to drive to source-centric conclusions about persons, facts and life histories. 

I encourage interested genealogists to read the whole White Paper.

This all sounds like it will work as well as an interconnected tree can work, once the existing data structure is "fixed" and an "Our Tree" data structure has been developed and implemented as described in the White Paper. That's a big task, and not one that will happen overnight.  James Tanner's post notes that there is a "FamilySearch Family Tree Beta Test" in progress, which is really good news. 

I know, there are persons who say that open, interconnected, family trees will never provide sufficiently accurate source-centric data, so that it is a "one-stop" center for persons in historical records, but I think that is the "vision."  If anyone can do this, I think FamilySearch can.

 I look forward to adding information about my ancestral families to the FamilySearch Family Tree when it becomes the "Our Tree" system described in the White Paper. 

We will just have to wait until the "Our Tree" FamilySearch Family Tree is released.  Will it be limited to LDS members at first, and then opened to the public later?  My recollection is that, back in February 2011 at the RootsTech Conference, FamilySearch said that the Family Tree might be available to the public in late 2011.  We are in the fourth quarter of 2011 now - is the release of this tree imminent?  Or will it be released to LDS members, or to the public, at the next RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City in February, 2012?  Or will it be released later in 2012?  This inquiring mind can hardly wait!

I've written extensively about the FamilySearch Family Tree in these earlier posts:

FamilySearch Blogger Day - FamilySearch Family Tree (25 October 2010)
FamilySearch Family Tree Update (21 January 2011)
More on the FamilySearch Family Tree Update (23 January 2011)
New FamilySearch Family Tree Compendium (12 May 2011 to 14 June 2011).

Disclosure:  I am not an employee of FamilySearch, am not an LDS Church member, and have no "inside information" about the FamilySearch Family Tree.  I was invited to use the site back in April and reported on it during my investigations.  I have shared what I have been told about it from my own investigations in my blog.

Treasure Chest Thursday - Betty Carringer's 1940 College Yearbook Pictures

It's Treasure Chest Thursday - time to look in my digital image files to see what treasures I can find for my family history and genealogy musings.

This week's "Treasure" is my mother's college yearbook photograph and college work summary.  She attended San Diego State College (SDSC) from 1936 to 1940 as an Art major.  Two of the images I found in the U.S. School Yearbooks collection for the 1940 San Diego State College yearbook are shown below:

1)  Page 70:

Del Sudoeste was the name of the SDSC yearbook, and this is their page in the yearbook.  The page above says of my mother:

"Betty Carringer assisted Clark, always kept appointments except to class.  Affably did odd jobs, all  senior drawings; helped with mountings, backgrounds."

The bonus, for me, is the picture at the bottom of this page, labeled "Carringer."  Here is the picture of my mother:

2)  Page 89 is the Operetta page:

Betty's section is the last one on the page:

"BETTY CARRINGER measured for costumes as costume mistress.  costumes came from San Francisco.  "The Desert Song" was presented by special arrangement with Samuel French of New York."

3)  Page 160 is the Phi Sigma Nu sorority page:

My mother is in the first row, on the far right.  Here is her picture:

My mother enjoyed meeting with her sorority sisters all through her life.  After my father died in 1983, going to the sorority sister meetings was a monthly outing that she really looked forward to.

I just realized that I have several family Treasures on the wall of our living room - my mother's copper enamel art pieces!  She was an accomplished copper enamel artist and we have several original pieces of her work, as do my brothers and my daughters.  I will take some pictures and use them in future Treasure Chest Thursday posts!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Do you Have "Comments" on Your Ancestry Member Tree?

I was puttering around one of my Ancestry Member Trees the other day, and saw the "Comments (22)" item in the list for the "Tree Overview" page.  What's that, I thought... I didn't know there were any comments.  The "Tree Overview" screen looked like this:

Okay, let's see what is at the "Comments" link:

There were 22 Comments on this list that asked questions or provided information about persons and facts in my Ancestry Member Tree.  Since October 2009!  Who knew?  I didn't, and figure that readers might not either (although I know that many of my readers are smarter than me!). 

I methodically went through each Comment and added information to my RootsMagic database if the information was sourced or could be verified with other records.  When I upload my updated RootsMagic database to an AMT (probably by exporting via GEDCOM to Family Tree Maker 2012 and then synced to a new Ancestry Member Tree), the updated information will be included. 

This is an example of the genealogy community trying to collaborate with me, and I didn't even know about it until recently.  I greatly appreciate those researchers that took the time and made the effort to offer updated or new information to me about persons in my Ancestry Member Tree.

Using Google Maps to Document Your Way

When I created my presentation "Lessons Learned on my Midwestern Family History Mystery Tour" last week (described in CVGS Research Group Summary), I created a map to show the roads traveled and places visited using Google Maps.

The final map looked like this:

This was very easy to do in google Maps ( - you just input a list of places and then create the map.  I tried zooming in a bit more but the lines went off the screen.

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Post 175: Inside The Four-Mile Inn at Old World Wisconsin

I've been posting old family photographs from my collection on Wednesdays, but now I want to post some current photographs. This is not a wordless posts like others do - I simply am incapable of having a wordless post.

On Day 13 on the Seaver Family History Mystery Tour five weeks ago, we visited Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, Wisconsin to see the Four-Mile Inn that my second great-grandfather, Ranslow Smith, built in 1853 in Rolling Prairie, Wisconsin.  The post noted has pictures of the exterior of the Four-Mile Inn as it stands at Old World Wisconsin.

I took many pictures inside the house, but some of them didn't turn out (and my camera battery died during this day).  Here are some of the inside photos on the main floor of the house:

1)  The dining room:

2)  The parlor (southeast corner, I think) - where the family would gather to talk or work:

3)  Another corner of the parlor (northeast corner):

The parlor above was closed off to visitors - I took these pictures from behind the barrier.

The curator at Old World Wisconsin said that they tried to gather furniture, kitchen ware and utensils, artwork, photographs and ephemera from the 1870s time period.  I wondered what the books were - on the round table in the second picture; in the bookcase in the second picture; and on the small table in the bottom picture, and what the papers were on the desk in the corner.  Check out the clock on the wall in the second picture - and there's a picture of a house right below it.  I wonder what house that is - I'm pretty sure that it's not the Four-Mile Inn.

More inside pictures next week!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ancestry has Added Many Vital Records Collections

... has added about 48 new Vital Records collections, with over 50 million entries, to their Card Catalog recently.  The list can be seen at their Recently added or updated collections page.  It appears that many of them, if not all, are from the FREE FamilySearch Historical Collections. 

These additions increase the Card Catalog count to 30,270 as of today.

Is Family History Knowledge Declining? Updated!

The 1000Memories website blog has a series of posts celebrating Family History Month, including:

Survey shows family history knowledge declining despite growing interest by Michael Katchen on 15 October 2011

It’s time to change the game - family history survey response (1/4) by Caroline Pointer on 17 October 2011

Genealogy's need for curators - family history survey response (2/4) by Thomas MacEntee on 18 October 2011

Societies and the Non-Genealogist Genealogist - family history survey response (3/5) by Amy Johnson Crow on 19 October 2011.

We're doing it wrong - family history survey response (4/5) by Randy Whited on 20 October 2011.

Transforming the genealogy experience - family history survey response (5/5) by David Rencher on 21 October 2011.

Looking Forward When Looking Back by Elyse Doerflinger on 19 October 2011.

The reason for the blog post series, as best I can tell, is a perceived reduction in knowledge about family information.  Michael Katchen's post says:

"A lot has changed in four years. There has been an explosion of digital records, new tools and mass-market entertainment such as NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” All this begs the question -- has this helped the vast majority of Americans get started in genealogy? To find out we commissioned a new version of the 2007 survey."

The website has this graphic:

In a 2007 survey commissioned by, 78% of respondents said that they were interested in genealogy, and 50% said that they could name more than one great-grandparent (out of 8 possible).   If you look at the survey results, you will see that the 2007 survey indicated that:

*  One-third (33%) of Americans cannot name any of their great-grandparents, and 50% can name more than  one of them.
*  40% of Americans know both of their grandmothers maiden names.
*  78% of those surveyed said that they were interested in learning more about their family history.
*  50%  of American families have researched their roots.
*  And more - read it all here.

The 2007 survey results do not indicate the survey scope (how many persons), the questions (how were they posed - yes/no or essay?), results (percentages) or respondent demographics (age, gender, race, income, location, etc.).  It just provides a verbal summary of the results. 

In the new survey ( labeled 2010), the graphic above indicates that 80% said they were interested in genealogy, but only 40% said that they could name at least one great-grandparent. 

Without knowing the survey scope, the questions asked, the results, or the respondent demographics, an accurate comparison with the 2007 survey can not be statistically made.  Were the same questions asked of the same demographic groups (age, gender, race, income, location, etc.)?  I have requested more information about these issues from Michael Katchen at 

Any valid comparison between 2007 and 2010 survey results needs to be based on similar questions and demographics.  Otherwise, we are dealing with apples and oranges.  It will be interesting to see what the 2010 survey results were.  

 Update: Michael Katchen provided the link to the 2010 survey: He noted via email that they had 300 respondents.
Frankly, I was not surprised by the 2007 survey results - I think that they reflect American societal circumstances, attitudes and values.  With approximately 50% of marriages ending in divorce, and with families so dispersed around the country, I think that it's not unusual for adults to not know their great-grandparents names - it's likely that they never met them, and are too busy with life to worry about knowing or remembering their names.  The same for grandmothers maiden names -- they likely knew, and many even met, their grandmothers, but they never bothered to learn their maiden names. 

I greatly appreciate the guest blog posts by Caroline Pointer, Thomas MacEntee, Elyse Doerflinger and others. They are thoughtful, resourceful, and provide excellent guidance for individuals, genealogy societies, non-profit organizations and commercial companies.

Updated 19 October:  Added Elyse's post, and added link to the 1000Memories survey questions.
Updated 21 October:  Added Amy, Randy and David's posts.

Family Tree Maker 2012 - Post 8: Receiving and Installing a GEDCOM File

In Comments on my post, Exploring Family Tree Maker 2012 - Post 7: More GEDCOM Trials, Russ Worthington (of the Family Tree Maker User blog) tried to understand what I was doing and how I was doing it.  He then tried to duplicate my actions with one of his own trees, and created a GEDCOM file from an FTM 2012 file synced with one of his Ancestry Member Trees and sent it to me.

Russ's process in creating the GEDCOM file was demonstrated in his post, Genea-Musing Blog for FTM2012.  The GEDCOM file had one person, 6 Media items and 16 sources.  He created a Zip file for the 6 Media items linked in the GEDCOM file.  Then he emailed me the GEDCOM file and the zipped Media .file.

1)  When I received the email, I saved the attachments to my Family Tree Maker file folder, and then unzipped the zipped Media folder.  Then I opened Family Tree Maker 2012, and in the Plan Workspace, I chose the "New Tree" tab and checked the "Import an existing tree."  I then browsed my file folders and selected the GEDCOM file that Russ sent to me via email:

2)  After clicking on the yellow "Continue" button in the screen above, the GEDCOM file loaded quickly and the "Import Complete" window is shown below:

The screen above showed that the GEDCOM file contained one person, 6 Media items and 16 sources.

3)  I clicked on the "Person" tab in the People workspace, highlighted the name of Hiram Edmund Deats, and saw:

In the screen above, you can see that there are five sources for Hiram's name.  The Notes for Hiram are shown in the bottom frame (and I note that those Notes, apparently created in the Ancestry Member Tree, has no paragraph breaks). 

4)  I clicked on the Media workspace button and saw that the actual images were not there.  I clicked on the "Media" menu and chose the "Find Missing Media" item:

In the screen above, you can see one media item is highlighted, and the link in the lower right-hand corner is to a file folder on Russ's computer, not on my computer.  We have to get the links in my FTM 2012 file connected to the Media items in the Media folder on my computer system.

5)  I clicked on the "Find Missing Media" item and saw the list of items with links in the GEDCOM file:

6)  I chose the  "Select All" button in the screen above and then clicked on the "Search" button and saw:

The six Media items on the list above were found in my computer files (only because I extracted them before I loaded the GEDCOM file).

7) I clicked on the "OK" button on the screen above, and saw in the Media workspace:

The six Media items are now included in the Media workspace. 

8)  I clicked on the People workspace, the "Media" tab for the lower frame, and then on the Burial fact, and saw:

In the screen above, the two pictures attached to the Person are shown in the "Media" tab area on the bottom frame.  The "Media" tab in the right-hand panel shows the two Media items associated with the Burial Fact. 

The demonstration above, using a GEDCOM file for selected person(s), shows that the Media items are included when a GEDCOM file is created from a FTM 2012 file synced with an Ancestry Member Tree.

That is not my earlier experience, as demonstrated in my post, Exploring Family Tree Maker 2012 - Post 7: More GEDCOM Trials.  I don't have an explanation for the different results.  Russ used a synced FTM 2012 file, then exported "Selected Individuals" using "GEDCOM 5.5," selecting "Other" and "ANSI," for his GEDCOM file creation. 

I have done exactly the same type of GEDCOM file creation operation four times now (I know, stupidity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result!) - and do not get any Multimedia items when I import the created GEDCOM file into FTM 2012.  No Media file folder is created when the GEDCOM file is created, even though there are Media items attached to the selected Persons and Sources in the synced FTM 2012 file.  

It appears that my FTM 2012 does not work the same way that Russ's FTM 2012 works insofar as creating GEDCOM files.  That makes no sense to me.  I don't see anything in the File or Tools menu lists and items to change settings. 

I think that my next step is to create a GEDCOM file, with Media items, and send it to Russ to see if his system performs exactly like mine does. 

Tombstone Tuesday - Anna (Leland) Woelffer (1859-1892) in Deerfield, Wisconsin

On our Midwest Family History Mystery Tour, we stopped at the St. Paul's Liberty Lutheran Church in Deerfield, Dane County, Wisconsin on 17 September. Linda has at least three ancestors buried here. I posted a picture of the cemetery and her great-great-grandfather Severt T. Leland's gravestone in Tombstone Tuesday - Severt T. Leland (1804-1889) of Deerfield WI, and a picture of the shared grave of her great-grandparents in Tombstone Tuesday - Anna and Torger Leland in Deerfield, Wisconsin.

Today's picture is the gravestone of Anna Sjursdatter (Leland) Woelffer (1859-1892), a sister of Torger Sjurson Leland and a daughter of Sjur (Severt) Torgerson and Brita (Olsdatter) Leland.  It stands near the stone of Severt T. Leland. 

The inscription on the stone (which has "Woelffer" on the raised base) is:

JULY 2, 1892
33 YRS & 1 M

I have been trying to find out more about Anna's husband, Charles Woelffer.   I think that he is the Charles "Wolfer" son of Robert and Augusta Wolfer in Jefferson County, Wisconsin in the 1860 census, and the Charles Woelfer, age 23, in Jefferson County in the 1880 census, and the Charles Woleffer, age 42, living in Jefferson County, Wisconsin with wife Lena and daughter Meta.  He is probably the brother of Ernst Woelffer (born in about 1861) who resides in Dane County, Wisconsin in the 1900 census.  Charles disappears from the census records in 1930, although his widow Lena is still residing in Jefferson County, Wisconsin.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Guess Who Won the AARP "Discover Your Roots" ePrize?

Does anyone recall the AARP Discover Your Roots contest back in the summer time?  I entered it and thought "fat chance - I never win anything."

I was really surprised when I received an email on 30 August 2011 saying (in part):

"We're happy to let you know you’re a winner in the AARP The Magazine's Discover Your Roots Sweepstakes! You've won a five (5) hour private consultation via phone with nationally-renowned professional genealogist, Megan Smolenyak; signed copies of Megan Smolenyak's books (Who Do You Think You Are? and Trace Your Roots with DNA); one time DNA Ancestry Testing through; a one-year subscription to; and a $1,000 gift card. This prize has an approximate retail value of $2,500. Congratulations! "

In order to receive this prize, I had to submit a notarized Affidavit of Eligibility within ten days, which I did just before we took our Midwest Seaver Family History Mystery Tour.  I was notified of the acceptability of the affidavit while we were on vacation, and was finally contacted about discussing the details and receiving the different prizes on 5 October, and discussed them with the contact person on 6 October.  The five different prizes have started coming in - I have the DNA test kit and the gift card, and we're working on the others (the subscription is a US subscription). 

I've been contacted by Megan Smolenyak about the consultation, and we're trying to figure out what we can do - they apparently did not figure that the ePrize winner would already have done even some family history and genealogy work! 

My wife was real excited about this award - I think she's planning on an iPad coming out of this deal.  Me, I'm thinking a Smart Phone for me as a minimum, and maybe a Netbook, and I'm concerned about the income tax implications... (there's a 1099 form on its way) - all from the Gift card.

Apparently there is no real publicity about the award of this prize - no great introduction of the winner at AARP headquarters, no visit to Megan's office, etc.  This blog post may be it! 

I want to thank the Prize Fulfillment Services of AARP, The Magazine for sponsoring the Discover Your Roots Sweepstakes, and for selecting me, at random, as the prize winner.  I finally won something!

So - what should I spend my luck-gotten gains on?  Do my readers have suggestions for a Smart Phone (I only have a cell phone at present) or a Netbook or tablet (my laptop is so old!)?  The goals are to be able to talk on the phone; take pictures, print them, and upload them to social media; access my computer photo and genealogy files; be able to create and display text and presentation documents; be able to access my online trees and edit them; and be able to do research on genealogy websites.  So what say you?  iPhone or Android? iPad or tablet or Netbook?  Help me here!

Exploring Family Tree Maker 2012 - Post 7: More GEDCOM Trials

I hate to harp on this issue, but I still think that there is a problem with the GEDCOM export from Family Tree Maker 2012, at least for some program options.  See  Exploring Family Tree Maker 2012 - Post 5: Importing and Exporting Media Files with GEDCOM and Exploring Family Tree Maker 2012 - Post 6: Understanding Media Items for the background.  In those posts, genea-bloggers Russ Worthington (Family Tree Maker User) and Caroline Gurney (Caro's Family Chronicles), tried to educate me on Media items and how they work with FTM 2012, and also made helpful suggestions while trying to understand my problem.  I appreciate their help!
I have done a lot more testing today on this, and I think I have figured it out.  In the previous tests, I used a large Ancestry Member Tree, synced it to FTM 2012, and then created a GEDCOM file for selected individuals (only to make it faster to do the test).  When I imported that GEDCOM file into FTM 2012 or into RootsMagic 4, links to the Media items in the file folders on my computer were not included.

In Post 6 comments, Caroline noted that:

"I have replicated your Scenario 2. I created a small new tree on Ancestry, to which I added 2 media. I then imported the tree from Ancestry into FTM 2012. The 2 media were attached and showed up correctly. I created a GEDCOM and checked the box to include media files. In the Export to GEDCOM box I chose Other and UTF-8. After exporting the GEDCOM to my Desktop, I looked at the file in Wordpad and the media file links were there. I then imported the GEDCOM back into FTM 2012. The Import Complete window showed that the import included two multimedia files and the media showed up correctly in FTM 2012."

Okay, so maybe I'm wrong about this?  Let me try to replicate Caroline's GEDCOM exploration with one of my own Ancestry Member Trees.  I have a small tree there with 18 attached Media items.  Here are the FTM 2012 actions on this tree:

1)  The Ancestry Member Tree was imported into FTM 2012 and synchronized:

2)  The Person screen for one of the persons in this tree, with icons showing Media for four Facts:

3)  The Media workspace for the entire database shows 18 Media items:

4)  To start the GEDCOM download, I went to File > Export:

On the "Export" screen, I kept the "Entire file" for export, selected Output format for export = "GEDCOM 5.5", and in the "Export to GEDCOM" menu I selected Destination = "Other" and Character set = "UTF-8."

After clicking OK, I named the file with a unique name (call it "Entire"), and the resulting GEDCOM file was created.

5)  I went to the Plan workspace, and imported this "Entire" GEDCOM file into FTM 2012, naming it "Entire." The screen below told me that I had 18 Multimedia items in the imported GEDCOM file:

6)  The Media workspace for the imported "Entire" GEDCOM file also shows 18 Media items.  So far, so good!

7)  I then created another GEDCOM file (named "Selected") from the synced Ancestry Member Tree in FTM 2012. The only change I made was to click on the "Selected individuals" (instead of the "Entire file") and included everyone in the file, selected "GEDCOM 5.5," "Other" and "UTF-8," and exported the GEDCOM file.

The resulting "Selected" GEDCOM file import into FTM 2012 showed:

The Multimedia count for this imported GEDCOM, using Selected individuals rather than the Entire file, shows 0 items.  The Media workspace is empty, and there are no media images in the Media file folder for the "Selected" database.

When I worked in Post 5 and Post 6, I used the "Selected individuals" option rather than the "Entire file" option in the FTM 2012 GEDCOM export.  When I use the "Entire file" option, I get the Multimedia items, just like Caroline did. 

I've done this twice just to make sure I did it consistently and obtained the same results both times.

It looks to me that we are both right, doesn't it? 

Amanuensis Monday - The Will of Thomas King (ca1600-1676) of Marlborough, Mass.

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 will of Thomas King (ca 1600-1676) of Marlborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, probably born in Dorset, England,.  He married Anne --?-- in about 1624, and they had seven children:  Anna King (1625-1698); Peter King (1628-1704); Mary King (1630-1715); Sarah King (1632-1706); Elizabeth King (1635-1667); Mercy King (1638-1669); Thomas King (1642-1643).  Thomas King married Bridget (Loker) Davis (1613-1685), widow of Robert Davis, on 26 December 1655 in Sudbury, Massachusetts.  They had no children.

The will of Thomas King was dated 12 1st month (March) 1675/6.  The will reads (transcribed from Middlesex County [Mass.] Probate Records, Volume 5, pages 23-25, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,521,762):

"Marlborow.  12 1 1675.1676: Tho: King.
It having pleased God, to cast mee Thomas King of Marlborough upon the bed of sickness, and being weake, yet in perfect understanding, considering that God by his providence, and Dispensation towards mee at this time, calls for me, to Set my house in order, and to Dispose of the estate, that God in his mercy hath given me, to my beloved wife, children, & relations.

"I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Bridgett King dureing her life, my dwelling house, barnes, orchards, closes, & Pastures, all that pt of my house lott from the highway on the west end, unto my great Pasture fence, and halfe my meadow called by the name of Pod meadow and halfe my meadow in Angell meadow, with the rights & priviledges belonging thereto.  It is also my will that my beloved wife should injoy peaceably, all the land & meadow called by the name of Cole Hole, lying in Sudbury new grant, and to have it forever to her owne disposing at her owne will & pleasure, further whereas there was an agreement made before mariage of me the said Thomas King & Bridgett my wife, bearing date the 17th of Decembr 1655, Signifieth, that I the said Thomas King should dy first, & leave my wife Bridgett King a widow, that I should leave unto my beloved wife the full sume of fourscore & twelve pounds, and upon the acct of the same, my will is that my deare wife should have foure oxen of mine and three cowes, & a heiffer, & two mares, and a muskett, & an Iron Barr.

"Also I do give & bequeath unto my Sonne Peter King all my lands & meadows undisposed of being in Sudbury, also my Butchers tooles and my fowling peece.

"Also I do give and bequeath unto my son Wm. Kerly, and Anna my daughter my Second Division of land lying in Marlborow, and all my meadow lying in Rocky meadow.

"Also I do give and bequeath unto my sonne Nathaniell Jocelin, & Sarah my daughter, all the rest of my hay lott, being eastward of that which I have given unto my beloved wife and halfe my mead. in Podd mead, and halfe my meadow in Angellico mead, and after my wifes decease to have my now dwelling house & all my house lott, and all my first Division of meadow excepting Rocky meadow.

"Also I do give & bequeath unto Thomas Rice, Jossuah Rice, & Josiah Rice, my 3 grandchildren all my third division of land lying in Marlborow and all my Second division of meadow both land and meadow, to be equally divided between them.

"And also I do give and bequeath unto Anna Carly, Mary Rice, & Sarah Joselin, my 3 daughters, all my household stuffe, wch shall appeare to be mine before mariage of my wife Bridgett King, and all the rest of of my household goods, it is my will my wife Bridgett King should have it, upon the acct of the fourscore & twelve pounds.

"Further I Thomas King have made my Sonne Peter King Executor of this my last will & testamt.  Further I do give & bequeath unto my Sonne Peter King & my sonne Jno Brigham my two horses that are in the woods to be equally divided between them.  Also before Richard Nuton & Jno Maynard I Thomas King do acknowledge this to be my last will & testamt, as witness my hand,
......................................................................................... Thomas King

"This signed in the prsence of 
Richard Nuton his mark
Jno Maynard"

Thomas King added a codicil to his will on 15 March 1675/6:

"The 15th day of the first mo 1676."
"This is an addition to this my Will that ye money I have wch amounts to the Sume of foure pounds or thereabts and this money besides wh is expended on my buryall, I do freely give & bequeath it unto my beloved wife Bridgett King, or forty shillings of the above Specifyed Summe of money.

"And further it is my Will & order that my beloved wife Bridgett King Should have her fourscore & twelve pounds, as will appear by an agreement before our marriage, and if that that is before mentioned in this my will, upon the account of making up that Sume, be not enough, it shall be made up to her, out of my propper estate, as corne & provisions, & other things undisposed of.  And the rest I give & bequeath unto my Sonne Peter King, Executor of this my last will & testamt, and this I Thomas King do owne to be my will, as an adition to the Same, as witness my hand
..................................................................................... Thomas King (his mark)"

Richard Newton his marke
Jno. Maynard"

Note that the three grandchildren mentioned in his will were the eldest sons of Mercy (King) Rice, Mary (King) Rice, and Elizabeth (King) Rice.  Mercy and Elizabeth died before their father.

An inventory of Thomas King's estate was made by Deacon Wm. Ward and Lt. Rudduck on 24 March 1676, and amounted to 383 pounds, six shillings.  The houses and lands in Marlborough were apprised at 200 pounds, and the lands in Sudbury at 60 pounds.

The will and the inventory were accepted by the Court on 20 June 1676 (Middlesex County [Mass.] Probate Records, Volume 5, pages 27-8, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,521,762).

My ancestry is through two daughters of Thomas and Anne (--?--) King - Mary King who married Thomas Rice, and Elizabeth King, who married Samuel Rice.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Best of the Genea-Blogs - 9 to 15 October 2011

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

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

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

Family History Expo Northern California by Cheryl Palmer on the Heritage Happens blog.  Cheryl shares her experiences at the recent Family History Expo in northern California.  Sounds like she learned a lot and had fun too.

*   Genealogy Serendipity in the Cemetery by Geoff Rasmussen on the Legacy News: Genealogy blog.  Geoff had an interesting experience in a Maine cemetery, and shares some special moments.

Everything! We’re Genealogists! We Want Everything! Free! Online! Whaddaya Mean You Pulped It???  by Mel Wolfgang on the Mnemosyne's Magic Mirror blog.  Sad, but true - Mel raises a good point about books in repositories. 

How to be a Genealogy Steward -- Following GPS by Bart Brenner on the Stardust 'n' Roots blog.  Bart has excellent advice for all researchers on how to apply the Genealogical Proof Standard.

Catch the Real Villain: Factor in the Economy by Susan Farrell Bankhead on Susan's Genealogy Blog.  Susan makes excellent points about why our ancestors may have "moved on."

Objects in the Mirror Are Not Authoritative: The "Indirect Citation" by Barbara Mathews on The Demanding Genealogist blog.  We all do it because we often cannot access the original source - but it's better than no source at all!

The Ancestors' Geneameme and The Ancestors' Geneameme - Responses by Jill Ball on the Geniaus blog.  Jill created this and is listing all of the participants.

In your searching, you may have overlooked... by James Tanner on the Genealogy's Star blog.  Here's great advice on some different records that might help in breaking down brick wall problems.

Several genea-bloggers wrote weekly pick posts and news summary posts this week, including:

Monday's Link Roundup by Dan Curtis on the Dan Curtis ~ Professional Personal Historian blog.

Around the Blogosphere - October 10 by Susan Petersen on the Long Lost blog.

Ruth's Recommendations by Ruth Blair on The Passionate Genealogist blog.

Follow Friday: This Week’s Favorite Finds  by Jen on the Climbing My Family Tree blog.

Follow Friday Gems - 10-14-11  by Deb Ruth on the Adventures in Genealogy blog.

Genealogy News Corral, October 10-14 by Diane Haddad on the Genealogy Insider blog.

* Best Bytes for the Week of October 14, 2011 by Elizabeth O'Neal on the Little Bytes of Life blog

Around the Blogosphere - October 16 by Susan Petersen on the Long Lost blog.

Week in Review by John Newmark on the TransylvanianDutch blog.

I encourage readers to go to the blogs listed above and read their articles, and add their blogs to your Favorites, Google Reader, RSS feed or email if you like what you read. Please make a comment to them also - all bloggers appreciate feedback on what they write.

Did I miss a great genealogy blog post? Tell me! I am currently reading posts from over 1060 genealogy bloggers using Google Reader, but I still miss quite a few it seems.

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here

Updated 16 October, 9 p.m.:  Added Susan's post - missed it this morning.
Updated 17 October, 9 a.m.:  Added John's post - it failed to post on Saturday.