Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Do Some Random Research

Hey genealogy buffs - it's Saturday Night and time for more Genealogy Fun!  Play along with us and tell us about it.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to follow Chris Staats' rules (from Freaky Friday: Random Research Reports)  for picking a random person's name and then doing some online research about that person.  Here are Chris's rules (somewhat modified):

1. Go to The Random Name Generator and click the red “Generate Name” button at the top of the screen

2. Go to (or and enter your generated name in the search box on the main search page.

3. From the results, your research target will be the first census result for your generated name.  If there are no census records, go back and obtain another randomly generated name.

4. Using whatever online resources are at your disposal, see what else you can discover about your random person and write about it. It can be a formal report complete with footnotes, or just a “research story” about what you tried, problems you overcame, or success you had. Maybe you want to create a research plan for practice?

5. Post about it on your blog or wherever you wish, or tell us about it as a comment here or a comment on Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter.

Here's mine:

1.  There were no U.S. census matches for "Andrea Steele" or "Sheila Patton" so the next one was "Ellis Randall."

2.  On, the first census match for "Ellis Randall" was in the 1920 U.S. Census in Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts.

3.  The 1920 entry:

*  Ellis Y. Randall - head, male, white, age 64, married, born Mass., parents born Mass./Mass., no occupation.
*  Clara E. Randall - wife, female, white, age 59, married, born Maine, parents born Maine/Maine
*  Walter Randall - son, male, white, age 26, single, born Massachusetts, parents born Mass./Maine, a clerk in a bank

4.  Working backward in time in the census records:

In the 1910 U.S. census, the family was in Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts:

*  Ellis Randall - head, male, white, age 54, married, for 28 years, born Mass., parents born Mass./Mass., a superintendent at a shovel works.
*  Clara Randall - wife, female, white, age 50, married, for 28 years, 2 children born, 2 living, born Maine, parents born Maine/Maine.

In the 1900 U.S. census, the family was in Easton, Bristol county, Massachusetts:

*  Ellis G. Randall - head, white, male, born Sept 1855, age 44, married, for 19 years, born Mass., parents born Mass./Mass., a superintendent of shov. works
*  Clara Randall - wife, white, female, born May 1859, age 41, married, for 19 years, 2 children born, 2 living, born Maine, parents born Maine/Maine
*  Elmer A. Randall - son, white, male, born Aug 1882, age 17, single, born Mass., parents born Mass./Maine, a clerk at shovel works
*  Walter E. Randall - son, white, male, born Dec 1893, age 6, single, born Mass., parents born Mass./Maine
*  Sarah Randall - mother, white, female, born May 1822, age 78, widowed, 2 children born, 2 living, born Mass., parents born Mass./Mass.

In the 1880 U.S. Census, Ellis Randall resided in Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts with his parents:

*  Isaac Randall - white, male, age 61, married, a carpenter, born Mass., parents born Mass./Mass.
*  Sarah Randall - white, female, age 58, wife, married, keeping house, born Mass., parents born Mass./Mass.
*  Ellis G. Randall - white, male, age 24, son, single, a stationary engineer, born Mass., parents born Mass./Mass.

In the 1870 U.S. Census, Ellis Randall resided in Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts with his parents (indexed on as "Landall"):

*  Isaac Landall - age 51, male, white, works as a carpenter, born Mass.
*  Sarah Landall - age 48, female, white, keeps house, born Mass.
*  Mary A. Landall - age 19, female, white, at home, born Mass.
*  Ellis G. Landall - age 14, male, white, at home, born Mass.

In the 1860 U.S. Census, Ellis Randall resided in Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts with his parents:

*  Isaac Randall Jr. - age 41, male, a carpenter, born Mass.
*  Sarah Randall - age 38, female, born Mass.
*  Mary A.S. Randall - age 9, female, born Mass.
*  Ellis G. Randall - age 4, male, born Mass.

In the 1930 U.S. Census, Ellis and Clara are still residing on Main Street in Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts.  Therefore, Ellis and Clara both died after 1930.  I wonder if they're in the 1940 U.S. census on Main Street in Easton?

All of the above is very consistent, and because Massachusetts had excellent vital records during this time period, I will look for a birth record for Ellis Randall on the site (, in Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915).

Looking in vital records on and

I found no birth record for either Ellis or his sister Mary Randall in these records, even when using wild cards for the surname, and inputting parents names of Isaac and Sarah.  In the American Ancestors database for Massachusetts Births, 1841-1910 I found Mary A.S. Randall's birth record (on 11 Sept 1850) but not Ellis Randall's.  The Massachusetts Town Vital Collections, 1620-1988 has a birth record for Ellis Randall in Easton, Mass. on 30 September 1855, son of Isaac and Sarah.

In the Massachusetts Marriages, 1841-1915 collection on, I found the marriage record of Ellis G. Randall:

Place of marriage:  Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts
Date of marriage:  October 1881
Groom:  Ellis G. Randall
Age:  26
Occupation:  Mechanic
Birthplace:  Easton
Parents: Isaac and Sarah Stone

Bride:  Clara E. Baker
Age:  22
Birthplace:  Maine
Parents:  Bradford and Helen M.

I checked the and American sites for a death record of Ellis G. Randall and found none.

Ellis G. Randall acted in a play, "The Rehearsal," at his graduation ceremony at Easton High School in 1873 (Stoughton (Mass.) Sentinel newspaper clipping on  He was a Republican delegate from North Easton, Mass. in September, 1896 (Boston Herald newspaper on

There are no Ancestry Member Trees, or Rootsweb WorldConnect trees, with this Ellis Randall in them.
A Google search for ["ellis g randall" easton] had only two matches; one an Ancestry tree that was not the right Ellis, and the other an Easton Historical Society newsletter that noted that Ellis G. Randall was a town officer in 1910.

That's about all I could find in about 45 minutes of searching the available online databases.  A summary:

*  born 30 September 1855 in Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts to Isaac and Sarah (Stone) Randall.
*  married October 1881 in Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts to Clara E. Baker.
*  they had two sons, Elmer (born 1882) and Walter (born 1893) in Easton.
*  was a stationary engineer and a superintendent of a shovel works
*  was a Republican delegate in 1896.
*  no death information found.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Surname Saturday - WATHEN/WORTHEN (England > Massachusetts)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week.  I am up  to number 443, Abigail Worthen (1714-????). [Note: The 6th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts] 

My ancestral line back through four generations of WORTHEN ancestral families is

1. Randall J. Seaver

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 Smith (1863-1944)

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)

110.  Amos Underhill (1772-1865)
111. Mary Metcalf (1780-ca 1860)

220.  John Underhill (1745-1816)
221.  Hannah Colby (1745-????)

442.  Joseph Colby, born 30 July 1707 in Amesbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States; died after 1768 in Chester, Rockingham, New Hampshire, United States.  He was the son of 884. Joseph Colby and 885. Anne Bartlett.  He married  18 March 1736 in Amesbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.
443.  Abigail Worthen, born 14 May 1714 in Amesbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States; died in Chester, Rockingham, New Hampshire, United States.  
Children of Joseph Colby and Abigail Worthen are:  Ephraim Colby (1736-1736); Joseph Colby (1739-1839);/ Abigail Colby (1742-????); Hannah Colby (1745-????); Ephraim Colby (1750-????).

886.  Ezekiel Worthen, born 18 May 1672 in Amesbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States; died October 1755 in Chester, Rockingham, New Hampshire, United States.   He married  26 December 1704 in Amesbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.
887.  Abigail Carter, born 07 March 1686 in Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States; died in Amesbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.  She was the daughter of 1774. John Carter and 1775. Martha Brown.
Children of Ezekiel Worthen and Abigail Carter are:  Mary Worthen (1705-????); Jacob Worthen (1707-1791); Ezekiel Warren (1710-1783); Thomas Worthen (1712-1773); Abigail Worthen (1714-????); Hannah Worthen (1716-1750); Martha Worthen (1720-????); Mehitable Worthen (1722-????); Anne Worthen (1724-????); Samuel Worthen (1727-????); Ephraim Worthen (1728-1763).

1772.  Ezekiel Wathen/Worthen, born before 15 April 1636 in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England; died 15 June 1716 in Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.  He married  04 December 1661 in Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.
1773.  Hannah Martin, born 01 February 1643/4 in Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States; died 29 June 1730 in Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.  She was the daughter of 3546. George Martin and 3547. Hannah.
Children of Ezekiel Worthen and Hannah Martin are:  Hannah Worthen (1663-1730); John Worthen (1665-1743); Thomas Worthen (1667-1702); George Worthen (1669-1745); Ezekiel Worthen (1672-1765); Margaret Worthen (1674-????); Samuel Worthen (1677-1760); Dorothy Worthen (1680-????); 
Judith Worthen (1685-1759); Deborah Worthen (1686-????).

3544.  George Wathen, born about 1595 in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England; died before 27 December 1642 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.  He was the son of 7088. George Wathen and 7089. Joyce White.  He married 15 April 1634 at Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England.
3545.  Margery Hayward, born before 24 August 1593 in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England; died before 27 August 1644 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.  She was the daughter of 7090. Hugh Hayward and 7091. Joanna Sissell.
Children of George Wathen and Margery are:  Deborah Wathen (1625-1679); Eleanor Wathen (1627-????); Dorothy Wathen (1630-????); William Wathen (1632-????); Elizabeth Wathen (1632-1634); Ezekiel Wathen (1636-1716).

Information about the Wathen/Worthen families were obtained from:

1)  David Webster Hoyt, The Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts ; with some related families of Newbury, Haverhill, Ipswich and Hampton (Providence, R.I., Snow & Farnham, printers, 1897-1917)

2)  Malva Lynn Teed and Mary Louise Emil, We Are Because They Were, (Dugway, Utah : Malva Teed, 1982, accessed on Family History Library US/CAN Film 1033945, Item 6.).

3)  Clifford L. Stott, "English Background of George and Margery (Hayward) Worthen of Salem and their Nephew, William Sargent of Gloucester, Massachusetts," New England Historical and Genealogical Register, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Volume 148, Number 1, Pages 67-78 (January 1994).

4)  Joyce S. Pendery, "Descendants of George and Margery Wathen of Salem, Massachusetts," New England Historical and Genealogical Register, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Volume 154, Number 3, Pages 325-352 (July 2000).

Friday, April 27, 2012

Using RootsMagic 5 to Add to the FamilySearch Family Tree

In My First Look at FamilySearch Family Tree - Post 1 and Post 2 last month, I briefly described the content, navigation and look of the interconnected family tree on FamilySearch, plus the process of manually adding a source and adding a discussion item to a person in the tree. 

I had posted last year about using RootsMagic to access and add to the New FamilySearch tree in 

New FamilySearch Family Tree Compendium.  I was curious if:

*   Can RootsMagic 5 access the FamilySearch Family Tree (, accessed from the Family Tree menu item on the FamilySearch Home Page if a user is signed into FamilySearch) in the same manner as it accessed the New FamilySearch tree last year?

*  If so, how quickly was the information added or edited?

*  Do Place Details and Description field information get transferred to the FamilySearch Family Tree?

*  In the month since I last tested the FamilySearch Family Tree, have they added more source capability?

The short answers are YES, FAST, NO/YES and NO.  Here are the details:

1)  I accessed my great-great-grandfather, Edward Hildreth (1831-1899) in the FamilySearch Family Tree:

2)  After clicking on the "View Ancestor" link on Edward Hildreth's small window, his Person Page came up (two screens):

In the screens above, there are Facts for birth, marriage, death, and burial, and lists of his spouse and children, and his parents and siblings.

3)  In my RootsMagic 5 database, I have more Facts for Edward Hildreth (occupation, probate and census Facts).  Here is the Family page for Edward Hildreth in RootsMagic 5:

4)  I clicked on the FamilySearch icon on the line with his name, and the FamilySearch Person Tools screen came up for Edward Hildreth:

In the screen above, the RootsMagic information is in the left panel and the FamilySearch information is in the right panel.  As you can see, there are some Facts in both (colored green if they match exactly).  The Facts in RootsMagic with no counterpart in the FamilySearch Family Tree are not on the FamilySearch list.

5)  for each Fact I want to add to the FS Family Tree, I click on the check box to the left of the Fact on the RootsMagic list, and see a small window:

The small window asks "Add as a new event in FamilySearch?"  I clicked the "OK" button.  It took several seconds to add the Fact to the right-hand panel indicating that the Fact had been added to the FamilySearch database.

6)  After going through the list of Facts that I wanted to add from RootsMagic, the screen looked like this:

As you can see, I added nine Facts to the FamilySearch tree.

7)  Within one minute, I went back to the FamilySearch Family Tree and refreshed the Person Page for Edward Hildreth:

All nine Facts that I added were included in the Fact list on the FamilySearch Family Tree.  Interestingly, they are grouped by Fact Type rather than by Fact date.  

8)  What about sources for all of those Facts?  I have them in my RootsMagic database.  Do they transfer to the FamilySearch Family Tree?  Here's the bottom of Edward Hildreth's Person Page:

Evidently the Source Citations attached to a Fact (or a Media item) does not transfer to the FamilySearch Family Tree.  I don't know if this is a RootsMagic or FamilySearch issue, but this capability is absolutely necessary in order for FamilySearch to make the Family Tree as good as it can be.  Without this capability, very few persons will take the time to copy and paste source citations from their database, or take the time to type them in.  

One more thing I noticed:  the "Place Details" field for the Facts in RootsMagic 5 do not transfer to the FamilySearch Family Tree.  Therefore, addresses, cemetery names, ED numbers, etc. are not transferred for Facts.  The information in the "Description" field does get transferred.  I don't know if this is a RootsMagic issue or a FamilySearch issue, but I hope that the "Place Details" field gets added to the FamilySearch Family Tree in the near future.

I'm going to wait until FamilySearch Family Tree adds the capability to add a source (and a media item) from the genealogy management program before I add any more Facts in this manner.  When they do, then I'll have to go back and add the sources (and media) to the FamilySearch Family Tree for the 400+ persons I've already added or matched using RootsMagic.  

As far as I can tell, the addition of Facts using RootsMagic 5 to the FamilySearch Family Tree is nearly instantaneous.  

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Follow-Up Friday - Helpful and Interesting Reader Comments

It's Friday, so it's time to share some of the reader comments from this blog or from email and share my own responses.

1)  On Adding "Cause of Death" Fact to RootsMagic 5, there were some helpful comments: 

*  Eowyn noted:  "It's interesting to me that RootsMagic doesn't have that as a preset fact since when you are first adding a person there is a specific space to add "Cause of Death." 

*  RootsMagic (Bruce Buzbee) offered:  "
RootsMagic doesn't have a cause of death fact because the cause of death is part of the death fact itself. Just enter the cause of death in the "Description" field for the death fact. The sentence template for the death fact already takes this into account."

My comment:  Oh.  I didn't know that... As my grandson says - "Holy crabcakes..."  Is this another RTFM issue on my part? 

*  Lisa said:  "Randy, why would you want to separate the cause of death from the death fact? I'm sure you were already aware what RootsMagic said in the above comment?"

My response:  Well, no, I didn't know that.  It does make sense.  The blog post is still a pretty good example of creating a new Fact Type it's not completely useless!

I added the Cause of Death to the Description field of the Death Fact and the sentence template was worded:

"Frank Walton Seaver died of a cerebral hemorrhage on 27 November 1922 at the age of 70 at 149 Lancaster Street in Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States."

The part in blue is what I added to the Description field.  I like it!  

2)  On Whose Charts are shown on PBS "Finding Your Roots" Series?, I got the answer to my question in Comments:

*  Dave wrote:  "I'm a production associate for Ark Media, one of the production companies that produces Finding Your Roots. One of my colleagues forwarded me your tweet about the posters in the last episode. One of my jobs is to create the posters you see presented to the guests in the show. Using the information found by our researchers, I use a program called OmniGraffle to custom build the family trees posters. We use a local print shop here in Brooklyn called Remsen Graphics to do the printing, and it can cost anywhere from $30-$400 depending on the size."

*  Eden Joachim wrote:  "I used PlotPro in Los Angeles, CA to print a poster which includes 10 generations and measures 8 feet wide by 4 feet high. They exhibited at the IAJGS Conference in LA in July 2010. I wanted matte white heavy weight stock which could be written on by relatives I was meeting for the first time, but they did offer different papers, weights and finishes, including fabric.  Pricing was reasonable(about $175)and they delivered within 48 hours of submission of a pdf of my tree.  Regarding the Jewish ancestry of the celebrities, I don't know of any particular company being involved. Dorothy Leivers (LitvakSIG) assisted in acquiring records from Prienai, Lithuania for the Robert Downey, Jr. segment."

My comment:  Thank you both for the interesting and helpful comments.  Twitter works!  It's neat when I can ask questions on this blog, tweet it, and get the right answers from persons who know them.

*  plc718 noted:  "I use the trees when I am stuck but I use them as clues, not facts. It's like wikipedia - a great place to look for clues but then one must go do the research on one's own to verify the information."

*  Fi wrote:  "And this is why my Ancestry tree is private.There are too many errors I don't want copied. I also have a warning on my profile explaining that I'm happy to allow access, just be aware it is a work in progress and watch out for mistakes.  I agree with plc718 comment about using the trees as clues, then doing my own research."

*  MidwestAncesTree said:  "I rarely look at the Ancestry member trees unless I am really stuck. But sometimes I do just take a peek, and post a comment when I see incorrect data. In the comment I will direct the person to information I have found that disputes what they have in their tree. I offer to answer questions or assist them in their research. I have done this 100s of times and have heard back MAYBE 5 times.  What can you do? I think a lot of people do not get notified when comments are added to their tree (it is an option thru I believe), and if they don't look at their tree often, they will never notice it. It seems the majority of ancestry member trees have no documentation, no records attached.

"If I notice someone has information that I cannot verify, I will ask them where they obtained the info...often it is from other ancestry trees (both on and other internet trees). Maybe if we all try to teach the people who are assembling and gathering these trees, it will eventually get thru to them?"

My response:  Excellent comments, all!  I have found excellent clues, often with dates and places, on Ancestry Member Trees.  However, they are usually unsourced.  It is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.  I'm always asking myself "Who copied who here?"  My own policy is to post my tree online to use as "Cousin Bait" hoping that other researchers will find family and will then contact me for further information.  I know that I have errors in my's inevitable!  Some of the contacts who nip at my cousin bait may be able to provide correct information based on sources.  

*  Rick emailed with some very interesting comments:  "Ancestry only sent out 10,000 DNA kits for this beta test. Presuming a 90% participation rate means a tiny tiny data base. But wait there's more.  Once the beta is complete, should be in the next 60 days, Ancestry will open participation. I was unable to find out the new cost.  Also people can attach DNA results from other labs but these are not as in-depth nor as helpful for us. 

"I have been a bit more successful in locating "potential" surname connections than you. Also I have lists down to 10%.   Each day the list grows. 

"There is one very annoying issue though. It is not Ancestry but a user one. People who participated but blocked their tree name. I have sent emails to some of these but have had no response. What's their point in participating?

"When one does the DNA testing and the results returns Ancestry's map plotting names on various maps. At first I thought they found one of my relatives birth places. However Ancestry took the names from my tree and plotted them based upon the info I had included in my tree."

My comment:  This is very enlightening to me, thank you for the response.  I followed up with Rick, and he said he obtained the information from phone calls with AncestryDNA staff.

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Adding "Cause of Death" Fact to RootsMagic 5

I recently noted that several genea-bloggers are listing a "Cause of Death" Fact in their genealogy management software databases.  I have quite a few death certificates for my 20th century ancestors, so I thought that it would be good to add that Fact to these persons while trying to be an Evidence-Based genealogist.

I checked the Fact List in RootsMagic 5 (Lists > Fact Type List) and did not see a "Cause of Death" Fact option.  RootsMagic 5 lets users create new Facts, so I bravely decided to add the Fact type.  Here is the process:

1)  From the "Family" View, I clicked on the "Lists" menu item and chose the "Fact Type List:"

2)  The "Fact Types" window lists the different Fact Types.  To add a new Fact Type, the user clicks on the "Design New Fact Type" button (top left area of the window).  Another window opens asking if the new Fact Type will be an Individual Fact Type or a Family Fact Type.  I chose an Individual Fact Type.

The "Edit Fact Type" window opened and I filled in the "Fact Type Setup" blanks in the left-hand panel for "Name" and Abbreviation."  I used "Cause of Death" for both.  I clicked the boxes below these blanks for "Use date field," "Use place field" and "Use description field."  I checked all of the boxes for inclusion of this Fact in GEDCOM files, web sites, family group sheets, narrative reports, individual summaries and printed lists:

In the screen above, one Role was pre-selected, as "Principal."

3)  I wanted to create a "Sentence Template" so I had to learn how to do it.  I went to the "Help" menu item and put "sentence template" into the search engine.  The most helpful items listed were "Design New Fact Types," "Sentence Template Language" and "Fact Sentences."  I also checked the sentence template for the Census Fact and the Burial Fact to see how they were constructed.  What I wanted was a sentence that said  "The cause of death for a person in a town/county/state/country at an address was this."  I figured out (with a lot of trial and error) that an appropriate Sentence Template was:

The cause of death of [person] <[Date]> <[Place]> <[PlaceDetails]> was <[Desc:CauseofDeath]>.

On the screen above, I clicked on the "Edit Role" button and added the sentence template to the window:

 4)  I clicked on the "OK" button and the Sentence Template was added to the Cause of Death Fact:

5)  Now I wanted to use it.  From the "Edit Person" screen for Frank Walton Seaver, I clicked on the "Add a Fact" button, and selected "Cause of Death" from the Fact Type List:

6)  After double-clicking the "Cause of Death" Fact Type, the entry fields on the right-hand side opened and I entered the Date (27 Nov 1922), Place (Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States), Place Details (149 Lancaster Street) and Cause of Death in the Description field (cerebral hemorrhage) to the fields:

As I typed those in, the Sentence Template was building the information into the sentence that will be displayed in the selected reports and charts.  It says:

The cause of death of Frank Walton Seaver on 27 November 1922 in Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States at 149 Lancaster Street was cerebral hemorrhage.

The entry in a Family Group Sheet and Individual Report says:

Cause of Death.  22 November 1922.  Cerebral hemorrhage; 149 Lancaster Street, Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States.

Then I added the source citation from the death certificate to the Cause of Death Fact.  It was:

Leominster, Massachusetts, Certificate of Death, Frank Walton Seaver, 27 November 1922; City Clerk's Office, Leominster, Mass. (certificate dated 17 September 1990).

Figuring out how to do this, and then doing it, took about 20 minutes (it was easier once I used the Help function!).  It takes about one minute to add each  Fact once the Fact Type and Sentence Template are developed.

The user can change the Sentence Template for individual Fact Types by clicking on the "Customize sentence" link (in the "Sentence" line in the lower-right-hand corner on the screen above) or can change the Sentence Template for all of the Fact Type entries by going into the Lists > Fact Type List, select the Fact Type, and Edit the Role.

In a short period of time, I learned something new and added significant content to my database for about 20 persons.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Ancestry/Archives Comment Compendium

Several genea-bloggers have commented on the planned acquisition of by  

Here is a list of them to date:

*  Press release:

*  Randy Seaver:  Comments on Acquisition by

*  Dick Eastman:  Notes from the Conference Call

*  DearMYRTLE:  Thoughts on Ancestry Conference call

*  The Ancestry Insider: Intends to Acquire

*   Kimberly Powell:, Inc. to Acquire for $100 million

*  Diane Haddad: Acquires Addressing Genealogists' Concerns 

*  James Tanner:  Shift in the genealogical landscape

I will add to the list as more bloggers offer insights and commentary.  If you know of a post, please let me know in comments or email.

Last updated:  2 p.m., 26 April 2012.

The URL for this post is:

copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Treasure Chest Thursday - Zachariah and Hannah Hildreth Death Records

It's Treasure Chest Thursday - time to share an artifact or a document image from my collection of ancestral stuff.

The treasure today is the death records of Zachariah Hildreth, and his wife Hannah (Sawtell) Hildreth, in Townsend, Middlesex County, Massachusetts in 1857.  I found that I don't have a death "certificate" from the town for them for some reason...but I do have the death record entries from the Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910 collection found on

I actually have a two-fer here, because they died in the same year and are listed in lines 2 and 3 on the page above.

Here is a snippet of their entries:

The summary of the information for them is:

Line: 2
Date of Death: Jany 13 [1857]
Name and surname:  Hannah Hildreth
Age:  67 [years]
Place of Death: Townsend
Disease or Cause of Death: Parylitic
Sex and condition: Female Married
Occupation: [blank]
Place of Birth: Brookline NH
Names of Parents:  Josiah & Hannah Sawtell

Line: 3
Date of Death: Jany 22 [1857]
Name and surname:  Zachariah Hildreth
Age:  73 [years]
Place of Death: Townsend
Disease or Cause of Death: Consumption
Sex and condition: Male Widdow
Occupation: Cooper
Place of Birth: Townsend
Names of Parents:  Zachariah & Betsy Hildreth

This is, of course, the very same information that I would receive in an "official" death "certificate" for a fee from the Townsend town clerk.  

A source citation for Zachariah Hildreth would be, for the record above:

"Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910," online image, New England Historic Genealogical Society, American Ancestors ( : accessed 25 April 2012), citing original data at Massachusetts State Archives, Deaths, Volume 112, Page 173, Townsend, Line 3: Zachariah Hildreth entry.

The information above provides the death date, age, cause of death, place of death, occupation, birthplace and parents names of Zachariah and Hannah.  Only the death date, cause of death and place of death are primary information.  The rest of the information is secondary information.  This is a derivative source (being an image copy of a microfilm copy of a page submitted to the State Archives based on an original handwritten record in the town clerk's records).  It is direct evidence for the death date, cause of death, place of death, occupation, birthplace and parents names.

I have other evidence for the birth of Zachariah Hildreth, and for their marriage, but I don't have a source with primary information about the birth of Hannah Sawtell.

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Comments on Acquisition by

As many readers know, announced the acquisition of today for about $100 million.  See the press release at

I was away giving a presentation, and then attending the Chula Vista Genealogical Society program meeting this afternoon, so I was surprised when I got home by the announcement.  Fortunately, I got home in time to participate in a geneablogger telephone call with Tim Sullivan (CEO of and Joe Godfrey ( management).

Some of the things I think I heard on the telephone call:

*  Tim Sullivan noted that provides a different product set, different features, and a different user experience than

*  Tim noted that would be a separate entity within, similar to Fold3 and

*  Joe Goddard said that would continue to make family history simple and affordable.

*  Tim said that the acquisition is subject to anti-trust provisions, and the two operations will be separate for some period of time until they get approval.

*  Joe noted that about 40 employees would be part of the Ancestry team after the acquisition, and that they would try to keep the team together.  Inflection would keep the other entities (like PeopleSmart and

*  Tim said this was an important product to invest in and to improve over time.

*  Tim said Ancestry has tremendous respect for the way Archives has partnered with the 1940 census project and other projects.

*  Joe said that there will be no change to the 1940 Census indexing project, and that the project index will be separate from the Ancestry index.

*  Tim said that the acquisition was not intended to shut down a competitor, but a way to improve their company.

*Tim said that there are some technology features on that Ancestry could use.  He said their intent is to not mess up what has, figure out how to leverage Archives technology to help Ancestry, and to use the technology and human capital to make all of Ancestry entities better.

*  The question was asked about the status of, another Ancestry entity that has not been improved for several years.  Tim said that they have not optimized this site, and that it's hard to improve the dated technology in the platform without starting over.  He asked for suggestions as to what Ancestry should put onto the platform.  Thomas MacEntee suggested making it the education center for Ancestry.  After the call, I thought that moving all of to (mailing lists, message boards, user sites, some databases, etc.) makes a lot of sense - it gets it out from under the Ancestry URL umbrella also.

This was an interesting discussion, and I appreciate being included by the and team.  If I misinterpreted any of the above, I will be happy to correct my statements.

Disclosure:  I currently have paid subscriptions to both and, but I have accepted subscriptions, travel expenses and gifts from both companies over the years.  Those items have not influenced my objectivity as far as I can tell.

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Dear Randy - Can You Describe Your Genealogy Workflow?

Several weeks ago, I was asked in email to describe how I go about doing my genealogy research, documenting it and reporting it.  In other words, my "Genealogy Workflow."

The workflow description below is how I'm trying to do it now (over the last two years, and trying to be as digital as possible):

1)  Paper Records

Find a record in a repository -- a published book, periodical, manuscript or microfilm of records.
Make photocopies of the Title Page, the Table of Contents, and selected pages.  Write the source citation essentials on the first page if it is not evident.  Staple pages together.  If copies cannot be made, extract, abstract or transcribe important information.
*  Enter summary information to the Person Research Log in the genealogy database. [
I used to keep paper research logs by surname that described date, repository, record description, and summary of findings.  That sort of fell by the wayside... (I still have them in my notebooks).]
*  Put the photocopies in a folder on my desk labeled "to be entered" and try to work on them ASAP.
When "picked up," enter the name, date, location information into my genealogy database as assertions for each Event (evidence-based), always creating a master source for the work and citation details for each assertion.
*  Transcribe important information (e.g., wills, obituaries, letters) into the Person Notes in my database (always adding the source info in EE format to the Person Notes)
*  Extract or abstract other information into the Person Notes, always adding the source info  in EE format to the notes.
*  When finished with the paper copies, mark the photocopy pages with "database" and "sourced" and put them in the "to be filed" stack of paper.
*  Eventually cram the collected "to be filed" paper into the surname notebooks.

2)  Digital Records:

*  Find a record on a website, or in an online database, or on microfilm records that I capture on a flash drive, or books/documents/records that I capture on a digital camera.
*  Add summary information to the Person Research Log in the genealogy software.
*  Capture the image of the actual record or record summary (e.g., census, military, vital, etc.).  Save it to the "To be Entered" file folder in my Ancestor Files folder, 
Name the images using source title and sequence number.
*  When accessed again, enter the name, date, location information into my genealogy database, using a two-window method (either side-by-side or top-and-bottom on the screen), as assertions for each Event (evidence-based), always creating or using an existing master source for the work, and citation details for the page number for each assertion.
*  Extract, abstract or transcribe narrative information directly into the Person Notes of my genealogy database using the two-window method.   Always create or use an existing master source, and add citation detail  for the Event assertions in EE format.  Copy the Reference Note source citation to the Person Notes to minimize typing.
*  When finished, move the images to the specific family "documents" folder, and rename them with a consistent naming convention of [].
3)  Some comments:

*  I usually don't print the digital records out, nor attach them to events or sources in my genealogy database.  The process with digital images obviates the need for more paper to be put in the "to be filed" pile or crammed into the surname notebooks.  This is where the digital file organization and file naming protocols are really important - if I don't know that it is in a computer file, then I don't see it unless I really hunt for it.

*  I often have only one assertion for a birth, marriage and death, selecting the "best one" by a semi-instant conclusion process (hmm, does that need explaining?  Based mainly on seeming authority of the sources - e.g., a vital record outweighs a census record).  If I have a probate record that doesn't list date of death, I usually add a death event with "before dd mmm yyyy" - e.g., the date the administration was filed or the will was proved.  If I don't have a birth date/place record except from census records, I'll add "about yyyy" calculated from the age - entering an average birth year or earliest available record.  I dislike blanks in birth years.  I have not sourced a lot of these conclusion -based "best one" dates/places!  I've been trying to add all available evidence to my database for specific persons (usually my recent ancestors, my conflicted persons, or my end-of-line persons) along with source citations, trying to be more evidenced-based.

*  For evidence analysis, proof arguments, or written conclusions concerning a specific Event, I sometimes write a Fact Note (e.g., for Name, Birth, Death) to  discuss the available evidence and/or to summarize my current conclusion. 

*  I sometimes create a fictitious person (e.g., "Knapp") in my database when I don't know the given name of the father of a person, and put a summary of my collected evidence, my hypotheses, and analysis in the Person Notes.  I also create a Research Log in the database to help guide me through the search.  When I find information for specific persons that might be the father (or parents), I enter them as a disconnected person(s) and add the evidence, sources and notes for them.

*  I try to summarize the resources I've found in my Person Notes (with source citations) so that someone reading them can determine what I've found and used.  When I go off to a repository, I create Individual reports and/or a family line Narrative report that provides all of the information that I have for the Person or family line.  I usually print that and then mark it up while on the trip.  I also add "to-do" items to the Person's Research Log and print it off and mark it up while at the repository. 

*  Until recently, my surname notebooks have contained only the collected paper (photocopies from books, periodicals, correspondence, indexes, etc.).  I have tried to organize several of my surname notebooks by creating sections for a narrative report, charts, supporting documents, photographs, reference materials, and correspondence.  The idea was to make it so that someone who picks it up can figure out what I've done for that particular surname (thank you, DearMYRTLE!), while also getting the "to be filed" piles in notebooks and winnowing out useless stuff (like Ancestral File FGS).  It quickly became obvious that I was going to have to print out many more pieces of paper (narrative report, charts, documents, etc.) to do this for all of my surnames, and buy hundreds of notebooks to boot.  I'm out of shelf space.  Now I'm thinking of putting digital reports together with much of that information in them using the software and (hopefully) passing those to family members, and perhaps creating POD books to send to libraries or family members. 

*  I have lots of sourcing still to do.  I have over 111,000 events in my database, and only about 25% have a source citation attached to them.  I have lots of persons with no date/place info - mostly parents of spouses of siblings of my ancestors, or spouses of one-name study persons.   

*  Then there's the historical place names issue - I'm waiting for a software creator to make a one-button-fixes-that for the problem!

4)  Conclusion:

That's my workflow as I try to practice it at this time.  I know that I am not as disciplined as I should be.  It has evolved over time to the point that I am not entering data from unknown or unreliable sources like Ancestral File, Ancestry Member Trees, online websites, etc.  However, there is a lot of that type of information in my database and I'm trying to find authoritative sources to add content and source citations to the database.  I do look at those resources for clues to end-of-line ancestors, however.

How do you do your genealogy research and documentation?  Tell us in your own blog post!

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Post 202: The Baseball Guys

 I am posting photographs from my family collections for (Not So) Wordless Wednesday (you know me, I can't go wordless!).    

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

This picture was taken in the Spring of 1959, probably by my mother.  The person in this picture are (from left):

*  Frederick W. Seaver, my father, in the baseball hat
*  Scott Seaver, my youngest brother, in the catcher's mask.
*  Randy Seaver, moi, in the hooded sweatshirt
*  Stan Seaver, my brother, in the Little League uniform.

Stan was playing Little League baseball this year, and my father was the team manager.  I was the scorekeeper (being too old for Little League), and Scott was the mascot (I think he was the batboy too).  

After this year, Stan played Pony League for two years, then Colt League for two years, and played high school baseball for two years.  Dad managed the Pony League and Colt League teams.  I continued to keep score.  Scott started Little League in 1964, and dad managed his teams all the way through Colt League.  I was Dad's coach when Scott was in Little League, then managed my own Little League teams for six years.  

Baseball was a very big deal in our family!  I wish that I had more pictures from those years.  

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver