Thursday, April 11, 2013

Finding Martin Carringer's Revolutionary War Rolls on - Difficult!

I was tapping around in my Ancestry Member Tree App on my iPhone last night while watching the Padres baseball game on TV, and noticed that there was a Hint in the Revolutionary War Rolls of my 4th great-grandfather, Martin Carringer (1758-1835).

The App showed a black image, which I thought was strange, so I went in today on my desktop computer to take a look at it.  In my Ancestry Member Tree, there was a Hint for this record:

I wanted to look at the image, so I clicked on the thumbnail image above and saw:

Hmmm.  Zooming out, I see that this is the leader on the microfilm roll that was digitized.  The heading above the image says:

"Pennsylvania > 7th Regiment, 1777 (folder 34), 8th Regiment 1778 (folder 35), 9th Regiment, 1777-78 (folder 36) ... > 1"

It is apparent that the link from the Martin Carringer Hint does not go to a page with Martin Carringer on it, but to the first image of 702 images, and that this microfilm contains one (or more) pages with the name of Martin Carringer on it.

That really sucks!  Apparently, I need to look through up to 702 pages on this microfilm to find Martin Carringer's entry (or entries).

I checked my Notes in my database, and found that Martin Carringer was a member of Colonel Carnahan's Company in the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot in the Pennsylvania.  I found (finally) the 8th Regiment on this microfilm stream, and on Page 286:

And another entry on Page 284:

How many researchers would go through this on this database?  Perhaps 10%.  Certainly no one using the App would.  I wonder how many App users accepted this hint and now have a black image on their smart phone?  How many users have attached the black image to their Ancestry Member Tree?

I saved the two page images to my computer files under Martin Carringer, and will attach them to my RootsMagic database, and might even upload them to Ancestry Member Tree.  I rejected the Hint on my Ancestry Member Tree for obvious reasons.

But now I need a source citation.  The Ancestry source citation given on the screen says: U.S. Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data:  Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M246, 138 rolls); War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, Record Group 93; National Archives, Washington. D.C.
Records indexed by Direct Data Capture.

That doesn't work for me -  Ancestry has non-standard source citations.  Here is what I crafted using the "Military Records, Images" source template in RootsMagic:

National Archives, "U.S. Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783," digital image, ( : accessed 11 April 2013), Muster Rolls, Pennsylvania 8th Regiment, Colonel Carnahan's Company, June 1778, unnumbered page (image 286 of 702), Martin Carringer (Private) entry; citing citing National Archives Microfilm Publication M246, Roll 83.

I could not find the NARA Microfilm Roll number on Ancestry's image page or database information page, but it was in the link to the Roll on the record summary for Martin Carringer when I searched for him.

How many databases does have that have an index but don't link to the actual record pages? has an index - it says it was indexed by Direct Data Capture - why don't they link to the actual image?  They do for millions of other records. Why doesn't the Ancestry source citation provide the NARA Roll number?  They do for other NARA records.

Why does Ancestry make this so difficult?

After I wrote that, my thought was "You're so spoiled ... five years ago, you would have ordered that microfilm at the FHC, or at an Archives branch, and searched page by page until you found it (or passed over it with my eyes glazed over).  We're lucky to have this database in digital format."

Yes, we are ... but Ancestry provides a Hint, and every user's expectation is that they will see the image.  That's part of the deal, isn't it?  We pay money to Ancestry to provide a record image when it's available.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


Mariann Regan said...

Very good questions! (Plus a lot of exhausting work.) You could call Ancestry and tell them. I bet they'd like to know what's not working.

Dan Stone said...

You can also use the 'report a problem' feature, which I hope you did. Just yesterday, I came across a city directory from 1892 which was mistakenly referenced as 1829, which I reported. They seem to be good at making corrections, and users reporting problems is an important part of the databases continuing to get better.

Geolover said... has been deleting a lot of stuff from citations. I have not been able to detect a pattern. They also have been revamping some indexes and extracts from relatively accurate to absolutely wrong in some cases.

In the case of the Revolutionary War Rolls, they had the name index very early in their corporate internet installation, long before they had the microfilm images. Thus there was no indexing project that would have linked names to actual uploaded images. Every online index link to this group is to the first image that was uploaded from each microfilm roll, no matter what it was.

In this record group there are image sections and individual images that are not indexed at all.

At the beginning of each roll is a summary of what is on each of the rolls, plus a list of what is on the particular microfilm roll. This can be tedious to page through, but can give a rough idea of where in the images one could best start browsing: the Jacket [file] Numbers are given here, and are in the microfilm images at the beginning of each Jacket, although not included in the index.

A general list of what is on each microfilm roll (not broken down by Jackets) has most generously been provided by John K. Robertson and Bob McDonald:

Anonymous said...

Mariann Regan said:
You could call Ancestry and tell them. I bet they'd like to know what's not working.

Ha! What a hoot!

Jennifer Leible said...

So glad to come across your post and know I'm not the only one having a problem! So you said you finally found it on page 283/4. How did you finally come to those pages? I've been looking and looking through my document with no luck yet...please help elaborate on how you found it! Thanks!!

Randy Seaver said...


I used determination and knowledge gleaned before - I checked my Notes in my database, and found that Martin Carringer was a member of Colonel Carnahan's Company in the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot in the Pennsylvania. I found (finally) the 8th Regiment on this microfilm stream.

That's it....prior information that I was lucky enough to be able to find before wasting three hours going page by page hoping i'd be able to recognize the name when it appeared on a page.