Friday, August 2, 2013

Follow-Up Friday - Interesting and Helpful Comments From Genea-Musings Readers

My readers comment occasionally, and I appreciate that!  Here are some of the interesting and helpful comments on some of the Genea-Musings posts from this past week:

1)  On Finding More Information About Land Grants in U.S. BLM Tract Books on FamilySearch (posted 30 July 2013):

*  Angela helped:  "Randy, I love that you are using the tract books! I just lectured on them at IGHR and GRIP. You transcribed and interpreted your entries well. Just a few notes to help you --

"In the 'Part of Section' column on the left the register or clerk usually included the type of entry. 'Home' stands for homestead and 'Pre 41' stands for a Preemption under the Act of 1841.

"You can see that the 'By whom patented' column is really used for notes on the transaction. On Nellie's entry the 'Com. to Cash' means that the homestead entry was commuted to cash. She decided to purchase the land for $100 in 1887 instead of completing the five years of residency for obtaining the homestead land for free (after the $5 filing fee). The No. 4686 is the final certificate number of the cash entry and the one you need to order the land entry file from NARA. The file should include all the paperwork she submitted on the homestead entry before she commuted it to cash, so it could have some genealogical information in it.

"I am glad you noticed the pencil notation for Nellie Randell. The 'D.S. 1897' stand for Declaratory Statement number 1897 and means that in April/May 1885 Nellie Randell was living on the land and filed a declaration that she intended to claim the land by pre-emption. Clearly she did not complete her claim, as Nellie purchased the land Nov. 10, 1885, also claiming a pre-emption (see the 'Pre 41' in the left column). Again, even those these records would all be filed with the cash entries, they will contain more than just a final certificate and receipt. Both Della and Henry were claiming a preemption so they would have had to file statements proving when they settled on the land and detailing the improvements they had made. There will probably be affidavits from neighbors as witnesses on their behalf.

"You may be able to find the Declaratory Statement #1897 at NARA if you are interested. These records are filed by land office (Oberlin, Kansas) and then type of transaction (homestead, cash, or declaratory statement) and then certificate number. 

"Let me know if you have any questions on these records. I do love working with the tract books and land entry papers."

My comment:  Your comments cleared up most of my questions - THANK YOU!  It's nice to know an expert that I can call on when needed.  Now I'm wondering how my great-grandfather, Henry A. Carringer, who bought this land knew or was related to Nellie Randell.  And I wonder who Nellie Randell was - was she the original homesteader, or was Henry?   I may have more research to do here.  My obvious next step is to order the Land Entry file for this, and several other entries.

*  Dave L. asked:  "Even before you got to the problem you're really talking about I saw another possible issue. When the file went to your "Downloads" file was that automatic, or the default but you had the choice to redirect it?

"I really don't like programs that tell ME where I want to put something (whether downloading to the Downloads folder, or automatically installing on the C drive when I have a P drive set up for programs). If they're just going automatically to Downloads, then maybe that's something else they can fix."

My comment:  I use Google Chrome as my browser and it downloads the file to a file folder I designate (in Settings).  I chose "Downloads" as the file folder because I wanted one place to capture them., and then I go there and rename the downloaded file(s) and move them where I want them to my preferred file folder.  FamilySearch names the file for me - in this case, it's "fs-yearmody-timeZZ.xls.  At least it's a unique name on my computer - usually the file name is record-search.jpg or similar.  

By the way, this Export feature is still not of this morning.

*  Linda Schrieber offered:  "Gravestones.... Complicated, and potentially full of errors. Depends on the informant, and their knowledge, and the span between the death and the stone order. This stone looks pristine for an 1879 death. And even stone carver errors happen....
The death date is probably correct, because it would have been recorded at the cemetery office, but it's possible it was the burial date. At least the year fits reasonably with your first probate date.

"Birth date? It's a toss-up. I would trust other potentially better sources, and add this computed date into notes for analysis. I wouldn't take a birth date on a gravestone over other evidence. They are so often wrong...."

My response:  I did - I've kept the birth date in the Carringer family Bible as the birth date, but noted the calculated birth date in the Birth Fact Notes.

*  Marshall said:  "Pay it forward. Find an open photo request for Greenwood or Glen Abbey and claim it.

"Gets you out of your 'cave' for an hour, too ;-)"

My comment:  Great advice!  Maybe a new exercise program in the making here?

*  Chuck Livermore commented:  "I won't suppose that I could give you advice. But, since you asked, I will weigh in with an opinion and maybe one of your readers will find it helpful.

"As Linda Schreiber stated, gravestones are often erroneous, but that doesn't mean we should ignore them. They are a piece of evidence and you should keep all your evidence and analyze it until you find better evidence. As you pointed out, the grave marker is probably a better source for a death date than the Bible, but the Bible may be a better source for the birth date. 

"You can take the dates you have and look for confirmation in other sources. He would be elderly during the Civil War, but it is possible he fought. Also, search for military records from the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).

"You may also find his birth and/or death mentioned in church records. Since you indicate he is of German descent, you should look for Lutheran, Reformed, or Presbyterian congregations in the locations of his birth and death.  Wills and probate records, newspapers, and civil records may also be helpful."

My comment:  Excellent advice, Chuck, thanks!  Church records may be the best tip here.

*  Barbara in NC  helped:  "Here's another way to help with Find-A-Grave: take ownership of the memorials for your family members. Here's how:

"Log in to Find-A-Grave (registration is free).  Click the Edit tab, then click "Suggest a correction or provide additional information"  In the blank box, enter a message, such as:
'I'm the great-grandson of X and would be happy for you to transfer ownership of his memorial to me.'

"The owner of the memorial will get an email with your ID and the ID of the memorial, and can easily transfer ownership to you.  Then you can more easily and quickly add photos, a bio, family links, etc."

*  Dave L. noted:  "I use Family Tree Maker, so I have the ability to have multiple entries for a single event and mark one as "preferred." I'd create a second birth entry with the stone's information, but leave the Bible date as preferred and make some notes. With no other evidence to favor one over the other, I agree with the other posters that the Bible entry is much more likely to be reliable."

*  T said:  "Count me in as using other information for birth date, not the grave stone. My grandmother was 6 years older on her stone than her real age. I don't suppose the kids knew her real age but checking all the census records, her age kept progressing 10 years each time. I stuck with the original birth date I had for her and made note that the gravestone was not correct. Some confusion might have come from the 17 years difference in the couple's ages."

4)  On Standards, GEDCOM, FHISO, and my Genea-Fantasy (posted 1 August 2013):

*  Russ Worthington commented:  "Things are finally happening in the area of discussion. Thank you for the summary of  'current events.'

"My only comment is that I HOPE that we don't see the PC / Mac based program to a specific Web based program start to line up. Like FTM2012 to

"I clearly see that one, but one would hope that would encourage an API to their Ancestry Member Trees.

"Or that Family Tree Maker (only using that as an example) would develop to the API so that FTM20XX would sync to FamilySearch Family Trees, without using a generic GEDCOM file.

"I also hope that FHISO is able to get ALL of our Genealogy Database Management program developers and Web site developers to the Same TABLE to develop an International Standard so that we can share, transparently, between the various platforms."

*  Tamura Jones said:  "You write: 'Frankly, it wouldn't surprise me if all or most of the genealogy software companies, and all or most of the online family tree providers, adopt (and perhaps modify and improve over time) the FamilySearch API.'

"Riddle me this: wouldn't it make much more sense for FamilySearch to adopt the Geni API then for MyHeritage/Geni to adopt the FSFT API?

"'That would make the FamilySearch API a de facto standard.'

"'That may be a genea-fantasy, but it's one of mine!'

"What a dark, gloomy, distopian fantasy you have.  Having FamilySearch in charge of a de facto genealogy technology standard has been tried already.  The current mess is the result of that..."

My comment:  Not all fantasies are sugar and spice, everything sweet and nice.  Although most of mine are.  The one I mentioned - to have one means to share information across all platforms - is one of my hopeful ones.

If FamilySearch's goal was to develop an API that could share information between Family Tree and a number of genealogy software programs, including sources, discussions and notes, why would it adopt the MyHeritage/Geni API, which doesn't interact with anything but MyHeritage owned entities?  FamilySearch controls their API, and MyHeritage controls their API and they decide who gets to work with it.  The software companies agree to use the FamilySearch API because they have many LDS members as customers who need to use Family Tree, and many customers who are not LDS members but see the potential value of Family Tree.  

Yes, FamilySearch developed GEDCOM 29 years ago, and aren't we glad they did?  I am.  Nobody else did it, or improved it substantially, so here we are in 2013.  It still works, but technology advances and it doesn't handle everything that the users want it to perform.

Apparently, no other entity or group was able to develop and coordinate a genealogy data communication standard.  FamilySearch had the need for the Family Tree API so they developed it to serve their purpose.  If many of the genealogy software programs are then able to connect and interact with the Family Tree using the API, then that serves the purposes of both the software companies, the software users and FamilySearch.  The logical next step, in my mind, is to enable users to interact with each other, and for other online family tree systems to interact with FamilySearch.  If it becomes the "de facto standard," then so be it and kudos to FamilySearch.  

*  Pat Richley-Erickson noted:  "I think the MyHeritage .api has had a lot more experience/testing."

My comment:  I'm not so sure of that.  My guess is that FamilySearch had the new.FamilySearch API working for several years interacting with software programs, and built the Family Tree API using some of that technology, and adding the sources, discussions, and other features in the Family Tree API.  Hopefully, Notes and Media will be added soon.  

On the other hand, MyHeritage released their sync interaction with Family Tree Builder and the MyHeritage app and in the past year, but they are all owned by the same company, similar to the sync between Ancestry and Family Tree Maker.  

5)  On Post #7000 on Genea-Musings (posted 29 July 2013):

*  Louis Kessler said:  "Your comment entry system asks us to prove that we aren't a robot. I'm surprised you can respond to comments on your own site, because you most definitely are an incredible genealogy blogging robot."

My comment:  Thanks, Louis, I think!  Time for my oil change, so blogging will be light today!  A "Blogger Insider" tip: Since it's my blog, I don't have to defeat the Captcha system to post a Comment!!

6)  Thank you to all of my readers for their wisdom and helpfulness, and for their useful comments and email - I love the "crowd sourcing" aspect of genealogy blogging.  

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

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