Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Create a Genealogical Proverb

Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: 

 It's Saturday Night again - 
time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!): 

1)  Did you watch the David Pogue Keynote address at RootsTech 2013 on Saturday, 23 March?  Remember his bit about creating a Chinese proverb?  One of the best was "The Pit is Always Smaller Than the Plum."

2)  Now it's your turn to create (or blatantly modify) a genealogical proverb.  Or two or three.  They can be serious, funny, or logical - no bounds here!

3)  Tell us about your genealogical proverb(s) in your own blog post, in Comments to this post, in a Facebook status or a Google+ stream post.

Here's mine:

ummm, blank wall...  "Genealogy without sources is mythology."  Hmm, that's already taken, but you get the point.

*  Genealogist who cite sources get gold star!

*  Prune your family tree to keep it healthy.

*  DNA of your ancestors makes you you-nique.

*   Solving family history mysteries is fun!

What can you come up with?

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Surname Saturday - FREEMAN (England > Massachusetts)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week.  

I am in the 7th great-grandmothers, up to number 575: Bennett FREEMAN (1671-1715). [Note: the earlier great-grandmothers and 7th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts].

My ancestral line back through three American generations of this FREEMAN family line 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 (1755-1830)
71.  Hannah Horton (1761-1797)

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

286.  Jabez Snow (1696-1760)
287.  Elizabeth Paine (1702-1772)

574.  John Paine, born 14 March 1660/61 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States; died 18 October 1731 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States.  He was the son of 1148. Thomas Paine and 1149. Mary Snow.  He married 4 March 1688/89 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States.

575.  Bennett Freeman, born 05 March 1670/71 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States; died 30 May 1716 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States.  
Children of John Paine and Bennett Freeman are:  John Paine (1690-1771); Mary Paine (1693-1770); William Paine (1695-1713); Benjamin Paine (1697-1713); Sarah Paine (1699-1772); male Paine (1701-1701); Elizabeth Paine (1702-1772); Theophilus Paine (1704-1755); Josiah Paine (1706-1728); Nathaniel Paine (1707-1728); Rebecca Paine (1709-1744); Mercy Paine (1712-1774); Benjamin Paine (1714-1717).

1150.  John Freeman, born before 28 January 1626/27 in Billingshurst, Sussex, England; died 28 October 1719 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States.  He married 13 February 1649/50 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States.
1151.  Mercy Prence, born before 28 September 1631 in Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States; died 28 September 1711 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States.  She was the daughter of 2302. Thomas Prence and 2303. Patience Brewster.
Children of John Freeman and Mercy Prence are:  John Freeman (1650-1651); John Freeman (1651-1721); Thomas Freeman (1653-1716); Edmond Freeman (1657-1717); Mercy Freeman (1659-1745); William Freeman (1660-1687); Hannah Freeman (1664-1744); Patience Freeman (1665-1746); Prence Freeman (1665-1665); Nathaniel Freeman (1669-1760); Bennett Freeman (1671-1716). 

2300.  Edmond Freeman, born before 25 July 1596 in Pulborough, Sussex, England; died before 02 November 1682 in Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States.  He was the son of 4600. Edmund Freeman and 4601. Alice Coles.  He married 16 June 1617 in Cowfold, Sussex, England.
2301.  Bennett Hodsoll, born before 25 August 1596 in All Saints Barking, London, England; died before 12 April 1630 in Pulborough, Sussex, England.  She was the daughter of 4602. John Hodsoll and 4603. Anne Maundy.
Children of Edmond Freeman and Bennett Hodsoll are:  Alice Freeman (1619-1651); Edmund Freeman (1620-1673); Thomas Freeman (1621-1621); Bennett Freeman (1622-1634); Elizabeth Freeman (1624-1692); John Freeman (1627-1719); Nathaniel Freeman (1629-1629); Mary Freeman (1630-1688).

Information on these families was obtained from:

William Jessup Cleaver, The Ancestry of Allen Grinnell Cleaver and Martha Irene Jessup, 172 Allied families (Baltimore, Md. : Gateway Press, Inc., 1989)

Mary Walton Ferris, Dawes-Gates Memorial Lines (Milwaukee, Wis. : Wisconsin Cuneo Press, 1943)

Josiah Paine, "The Freemans -- The Eastham Branch of the Sandwich Family--Major John Freeman," New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 20, No. 1 (January 1866), page 59.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dear Randy - Why Does LDS Church Exert So Much Control over Genealogy?

I get some interesting email is a recent one from E:

"I am not Mormon, no one on either side of the family is Mormon nor has anyone ever been Mormon as far back as the family has been traced.  For that reason, I fail to understand why the LDS church can exert so much control [over] something like genealogy. 

"I am a novice at this and have been trying to research my husband's family to complete the family tree for the children and potential grandchildren.  Online records which appear to me should be public knowledge or that the public should at least have free access to are not completely shackled by the LDS Church.  No matter what website I find to work with, up pops Ancestry,com,, or any one of countless sites owned, controlled or partnered with the LDS Church.

"Do they own and control every credible website that will help me in my search?  If not, can you point me toward some websites before they have a chance to buy them up, too?"

Dear E,

I don't think that the LDS Church exerts "control" over the genealogy world.  The church is certainly a presence, and, in my humble opinion, a force for good in genealogy.  I am not a member of the LDS Church.  I'll try to respond to all of your assertions in the list below:

*  The LDS Church has been collecting genealogical records from all over the world since 1894, and continue to do so.  They have a massive Family History Library in Salt Lake City (which anyone can visit for FREE) with over 300,000 books, manuscripts and periodicals, over 2.5 million microfilms, over 700,000 microfiche sets (all available to access for FREE, you do have to pay for copies), and the website with over 1,500 record collections (almost all available for FREE anywhere you can access it).  Many of those digitized record collections have been indexed by volunteers - both LDS members and non-LDS persons alike, out of the goodness of their heart, without remuneration.  The volunteers indexed the 1940 U.S. census records in five months, and the index and images are available for FREE on FamilySearch and several other providers.  

*  If you cannot visit the FHL in Salt Lake City, you can visit a local FamilySearch Center, can rent microfilms or microfiche there, and read them at the local FSC.  The FHL and the FSCs provide FREE access to many commercial subscription sites in their facilities.  In 26 years of visiting these wonderful repositories, I have been helped by very patient and knowledgeable people, and have never been asked to join the church or attend any briefings about the church.  Frankly, they do all of this to honor all of our ancestors.  I greatly appreciate the LDS Church and FamilySearch for their dedication to preserving genealogy and family history records, and providing records and education freely.

*,,,,, and are websites owned by the private company,  They are not owned by the LDS Church, and do not follow any directive of the LDS Church, although many employees and some principals of the companies are members of the LDS Church.  To my knowledge, having studied this for over ten years, the LDS Church does not exert undue influence over these companies.  In fact, they have been and will be competitors to in many cases.  In some cases, the commercial companies have partnered with FamilySearch and other entities, like the National Archives, to bring genealogy records to their customers.  For example, FamilySearch may have the images of a collection on microfilm, Ancestry might create an index of the collection, and both parties use the digitized images and index on their sites.

*  Private or public genealogy companies like Ancestry, MyHeritage, FindMyPast, and hundreds of other companies (family tree software, chartmakers, photosavers, storytellers, etc.) are in business to provide a product or a service.  They have expenses and employee salaries to meet, and their operation depends on profits, so they often charge for their product or services.  If they didn't charge, or didn't have ads on their websites, they would quickly go out of business.  You get what you pay for. costs me $155.40 every year (that's 42 cents a day...I use it every day of the year).  It's a bargain for me - I couldn't do my research quickly without it!  Each person determines what they want to buy or subscribe to, whether it's a website, a magazine, software, an app, etc.  Free market competition is good for everybody - it keeps prices low, prevents monopolies, stimulates creativity, drives companies to add content and new features, etc.

*  Commercial genealogy providers like charge you and me to access the records that they have contracted to obtain, have put in digital format, have indexed many fields so that we can find them (in many cases), even without a name, have saved and hosted on their servers so that when you request to look at the image it can be provided in a second or two.  All of that costs money to provide, and is why the companies charge for subscribers to use their service or buy their product.  You can print the record or capture it and save it to your computer files, can attach it to a person in your family tree, can send it to someone in email. has a feature that leads you to other records for persons in your Ancestry Member Tree - the green shaky leaves.  It's about 90% accurate!  I can access it online on the website, on my smart phone and tablet mobile devices, and can add content from them.  It's like magic, isn't it?  

*  Government agencies have many of the records that are offered by FamilySearch, Ancestry and other subscription sites.  They charge you to obtain a vital record (birth, marriage, death), a land deed, a probate record, a military pension file, a military service record, a Social Security application, etc.  You can go to a National Archives branch and access any of the federal government records they hold for FREE, but you will have to pay copy costs.  This is not convenient for me (I'm 90 miles away from the nearest Archives branch, and Washington DC is 2300 miles away for me), and I can access many, but not all, of the records at my local FamilySearch Center or through genealogy subscription sites.  

*  Have you heard of TANSTAAFL?  There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch?  It applies to genealogy!  Frankly,, and the Family History Library, are the closest thing to a Free Lunch that the genealogy community can enjoy and feast on.  To me, commercial sites like are almost free - I spend more than 42 cents a day on relatively useless things that are soon discarded or forgotten - a print newspaper, cable TV, coffee, soft drinks, fast food, a movie, eating out, adult beverages, etc.  It all depends on your perspective.

*  I hope that you appreciate the many wonderful things that FamilySearch, and other genealogy companies provide for you - at a minimal cost, often freely - to use to pursue your genealogical studies.  It's an excellent hobby and profession, full of beautiful people willing to share their knowledge and skills.  

*  To answer your last question:  There are many websites that offer genealogical records, education and information for free.  Check out,,,,,,, the Library of Congress Chronicling America site, and many others.  I have a list of many genealogy websites at (both FREE and commercial).

*  Thanks for reading and listening, and I hope that you find information about your family on FamilySearch and other genealogy websites, and in repositories also, and create a wonderful family tree.  I also hope that you will find it in your heart and mind to appreciate what FamilySearch, and the LDS Church, have done for the genealogical community, and researchers like you and me, over the years.  

copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Follow-Up Friday - Interesting and Helpful Reader Comments

It's Follow-Up Friday - where I post interesting and helpful (and sometimes funny) reader comments, and respond to them.

1)  OCreating the Land Record Source Citation in RootsMagic 6 (11 February 2013):

*  Ann Gilchrest commented:  "I am curious as to why you decided to put Erie County New York Deeds, 1844-1850, Volumes 78-79 in quotes? The quotes would indicate that this is the title of the deed book. The cover was not microfilmed so I don't know if that is really the title. Typically deed books have the county name and a single number. IMHO adding the words, "deed in Aurora N. Y" is not necessary to find the deed. If this was important to my narrative it would be in the body and not the citation.

"I am also curious as to where you found the "citing original records... " came from? When I looked at the records the images came from FHL microfilm 590047. Looking up the film number the records came from the Erie County Clerk's office. 

"If I was writing this citation the first half would look like yours. The second part would be: Erie County, New York, Deed Book 78, p. 396, Seth Sprague & Lucy his wife to Samuel Vaux; FHL microfilm 590047

"I wouldn't use the word volume as that is implied by the number after book. If I chose to use volume it would be abbreviated as vol. For page numbers, I use p."

My response:  I used the "Digital Archives" source template in RootsMagic 6 because I found the deed records in an online FamilySearch record collection, not on a microfilm at the FHL, and not on the shelf at the Erie County Clerk's office.  Evidence! Explained tells us to cite the source that we used, and also to cite the "source of the source"  if we can find it out.  I used the online record collection at FamilySearch.

In the FamilySearch record collection, the deed was found by selecting "Erie County" and then (after using the index book), the "Erie County New York Deeds, 1844-1850, Volumes 78-79" sub-collection.  I tried to lead a future researcher to the deed by dropping those bread crumbs in my source citation - again, I'm citing the source I used.  I added the image number so that a researcher could easily find the deed (assuming the image number doesn't change!) The sub-collection is from one FHL microfilm, which is for Volumes 78-79.

If I had visited the Erie County Clerk's office and pulled Volume 78 from the shelf, then I would have cited the specific Volume without the sub-collection note.

I recall finding something when I was working with these records two months ago that the deeds were located at the Holland Land Office Museum, but now I cannot find that information.  The FamilySearch Wiki article, and the FHLC entry, say that they were filmed at the Erie County Courthouse, so I will modify my citation to show that.

My personal preference is to not abbreviate words or terms, so I use "Volume" and "page" in my citations.  I'm trying to not confuse any other researcher (and myself) by using abbreviations, or even an implied abbreviation like "78:396."

I take your point about the superfluous "deed in Aurora, N.Y." and using the "from X to Y" in the citation.   

Thank you, Ann, for taking the time to help me out on this - I'm still learning how to do this, and am open to constructive suggestions such as yours.  Here is the revised source citation for this record, showing the bread crumb trail and modifying as noted:

"New York, Land Records, 1630-1975," digital images, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, FamilySearch ( : accessed 2 February 2013), Erie County > Erie County New York Deeds, 1844-1850, Volumes 78-79 > image 184 of 792; Volume 78, Page 396, Seth and Lucy Sprague to Samuel Vaux, 1845; from FHL US/CAN microfilm 590,047; original records at Erie County [N.Y.] County Clerk's office, Buffalo, N.Y.

2)  OFollow-Up Friday - Helpful/Interesting Reader Comments (8 March 2013):

*  Michael Hait said:  "Just to clarify: "Unknown" is not a third category for information. Information is either primary or secondary, period. We just can't always identify whether it is one or the other due to lack of necessary data to make that determination. In these cases, it is better to abstain."


"A derivative source can contain primary information. There is no bearing of one on the other."

My comments:  Michael and I discussed this issue twice while in Salt Lake City, and I appreciate his view.  I think what he said to me was (my paraphrase): "If the primary information given in an original source is repeated in a derivative source, it is still primary information."

This is at odds with another view that "A derivative source cannot contain primary information because the informant (the writer of the derivative source) was not an eyewitness or participant in the event."

If I don't know whether the information is "primary" or "secondary," how do I "abstain?"  In that case, I guess I would choose "secondary" as a fallback option.

I don't know the correct answer to this, and hope that other "experts" will weigh in on the issue.

3)  On RootsTech New Product Alert - Legacy Mobile (21 March 2013):

*  Doug Williams said:  "Hmm, interesting, but when I saw the title of your blog post, my first thought was, 'Cool, Legacy Family Tree has a new app.' I was especially hopeful since I've never been able to configure the app that Legacy Family Tree requires for use on my Motorola Xoom tablet. Methinks there will be others confused by the naming of this new app. Thoughts?"

*  Laila Christensen noted:  "Agree with Doug Williams, I first thought this was my favorite genealogy program, Legacy Family Tree for my Android! "

*  Jasia commented:  "Yah, I'm disappointed that this is a FamilySearch app. I was really hoping Legacy Family Tree had finally gotten with the times and released their own mobile app."

*  Taneya said:  "This is great to hear about! As you know, I've been spending time on the FamilySearch FamilyTrees, so I look forward to seeing this. Thanks!"

My comment:  I think that it is unfortunate that they named it "Legacy Mobile" because of the implication that it is related to Legacy Family Tree software.  There will be confusion among users.  The appropriate name that fits would be "Family Tree," but that name for an app is already taken, or FamilySearch wouldn't allow it to be used.  

4)  On William Hutchi(n)son (1745-1826) Family History - Post 1 (30 October 2007):

*  Anonymous asked:  "Randy - how are you related to William Hutchinson?"

My response:  William Hutchinson is one of my fifth great-grandfathers, through his daughter Mary Jane (Hutchinson) Sovereign > Alexander Sovereign > Mary Jane (Sovereen) Kemp > Georgianna (Kemp) Auble > Emily Kemp (Auble) Carringer > Betty Virginia (Carringer) Seaver > me.

5)  I will hold comments on this week's posts until next week.  My thanks to all of my readers for their Comments, and appreciate their perseverance in overcoming the Captcha in order to do so.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Problems with John Richman's (1788-1867) Line in FamilySearch Family Tree

Now that I have access to the FamilySearch Family Tree through the Family Tree API in RootsMagic 6, I've started checking out and adding information to my ancestral families again.

In looking at my end-of-line ancestors, I often find that someone else has added one (or more!) sets of parents to the line.  One example is my 3rd great-grandfather, John Richman (born about 1788, died 1867) who married Ann Marshman in Hilperton, Wiltshire in 1811.  There is no baptism record in the Hilperton parish register (as seen through the Bishops Transcripts) for a John Richman in this time frame, although several Richman families were having children in the 1780-1800 time frame.

What does FamilySearch Family Tree say?  Here is the family tree chart for John Richman (1788-1867) in FSFT:

FSFT has an entry for John Richman (1788-1867) that says his parents are John Richman (1765-????) and Jane Child (????-????), who married in 1788 in Biddestone, Wiltshire.  And that John Richman's (1765-????) parents are John Richman (1733-????) and Elizabeth (1737-????).  

There is an entry in the Hilperton records for the baptism of John Richman (1765-????) to John and Elizabeth Richman in 1764.  There is an entry in the IGI for the marriage of a John Richman and a Jane Child in 1788 in Biddestone.  But I've found no connection between the John Richman baptized in 1765 and the John Richman who married in 1788.

The Person page for John Richman (1765-????) is shown below (two screens):

I was curious as to how all of that information about John Richman (1765-????), his wife, and his parents were entered, so I clicked on the "Show All" link in the "Latest Changes" box.  Here is the complete Change Log for this John Richman (1765-????) (three screens):

It appears that the process used was:

*  User Unknown4470317 entered the gender, birth date/place and christening date/place on 10 January 2012.

*  User MichaelHanny1 entered a Death fact as "deceased" on 10 January 2012.

*  User Unknown 4470317 entered the person's name, John Richman, on 10 January 2012.

*  User FamilySearch added the mother, father, mother's relationship, and father's relationship on 19 april 2012.

*  User FamilySearch added the Wife, Jane Child, to John Richman (1765), along with a Father Fact (to John Richman (1788), Father's Relationship and Mother's Relationship (to John Richman (1788)), and the Couple Event (the marriage in 1788 in Biddestone), all on 5 May 2012.

There are no sources attached, and no discussions offered.

The question becomes - who did all of this and did they do it based on some evidence at hand (like picking the John Richman/Jane Child marriage in 1788 in a town 10 miles away from Hilperton) or was this just slapped together by FamilySearch when someone had nothing better to do?

I should mention at this point that there are Richman families in Hilperton, Wiltshire continuously from the 1620s when the Bishops Transcript start.  There were several Richman families having children in every decade since the 1620s.  Many of them are recorded in the Bishops Transcripts.  However, it is nearly impossible to link one John Richman baptized in, say, 1740, with a person with the same name who marries a spouse in, say, 1765.  There are just no records available to make that connection, except for probate records, which can be used to link several families together.  I have studied this parish for over 20 years and cannot connect many persons to parents, spouse(s) and children in a way supported by evidence.

At this point, the best thing I can do is ask some questions and hope that the people who created the links from John (1733) to John (1765) to John (1788) will see them and respond in a polite manner.

I wrote two Discussion items, as shown below:

The two Discussion items are:

1.  John Richman (1788-1867) Baptism

How do you know that the John Richman (1788-1867) is the son of John and Elizabeth (--?--) Richman? There is no baptism record in the Hilperton records for a John Richman in 1788 or in the 1785-1795 range in Hilperton.

2. Richman - Child Marriage

How do you know that the John Richman who married Jane Child in Biddestone is the John Richman born to John and Elizabeth (--?--) Richman in Hilperton? Does the Biddestone record say John Richman is from Hilperton?

That's just for starters. I actually doubt that anyone will respond to those Discussion items. I hope they do, but I'm not going to hold my breath about it.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

CVGS Spring Seminar is Saturday, 30 March - Featuring CeCe Moore on DNA

Time is running out and we are nearing capacity! 

If you are in the Southern California area, please join us on Saturday (30 March) for an exciting all day genetic genealogy seminar in Chula Vista. I hope to see you there! 

Chula Vista Genealogical Society

 Spring Seminar

  "Do Your Genes Fit? Discover Your DNA"

Featured Speaker: CeCe Moore

DNA Double Helix Photo of CeCe MooreDNA Double Helix

Do you want to know all about DNA genetic testing and how it can help you learn about your ancestors?  On March 30, 2013, CVGS will present renowned genetic genealogist CeCe Moore for a lively and informative day-long seminar.  We'll learn about the various DNA tests available, how to read and understand the results and how they'll apply to researching our family trees.  Adoptees are encouraged to attend.

You're encouraged to bring your test results to the seminar so CeCe can help you interpret them. 

The seminar will be held at the Chula Vista Golf Course in Bonita from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and includes a catered lunch.  The fee is $40.  Door prizes include a 23andMe kit,  two $30 Family Tree DNA coupons, and an 6-month subscription.

Walk-ins will be accepted!


Or contact Karen Yarger at 619-426-0834, or Gary Brock at 619-475-4054


Chula Vista Golf Course
4475 Bonita Rd.
BONITA, CA 91902

Driving Directions 

Note:  The Chula Vista Golf Course parking lot is to the north of Bonita Road.  Turn north onto  Billy Casper Way (a stop light) and the gold course parking is on the right.

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2013 Readers Choice Awards in Genealogy

The 2013 Readers Choice Awards for Genealogy have been awarded - see the complete list at

Some of the vote spread in different categories include:

1)  Best Windows genealogy software:

2)  Best Mac Genealogy software:

3)  Best Subscription Genealogy Website:

4)  Best Free Genealogy Website:

5)  Best Online Family Tree Tool:

6)  Best Genealogy Education or Learning Experience:

7)  Best Online Genealogy Tool or Mobile App:

There were several other categories - read the whole list.

Congratulations to all of the winners.  

I am not surprised by any of the choices, but I was surprised by some of the vote spreads.  I do think that there is an anti-Ancestry/Family Tree Maker bias in the genealogy community (although they did vote for Ancestry as best subscription site).  I think that websites like Family ChArtist and Steve Morse should be separated from Mobile Apps.  I think that Conferences and Institutes deserve their own category, and that online learning experiences should have a category (that includes YouTube channels, the FamilySearch Research Wiki, etc.).

I hope that continues to run these Reader Choice contests every year.  I hope that there will be more publicity about nominations for the contest (e.g., why was MyHeritage left off the best subscription site?) and the voting time of the contest.

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Treasure Chest Thursday - 1860 U.S. Census for Ranslow Smith Family

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.

The treasure today is the 1860 United States Census record for my Smith 3rd great-grandparents  in Town of Oak Grove, Dodge County, Wisconsin:

The Ranslow Smith family enumeration:

The extracted information for the family, with an enumeration date of 3 July 1860, is:

* Ranslow Smith - age 55, male, a Farmer and Inn Keeper, $7800 in real property, $930 in personal property, born in State New York

*  Mary Smith, wife - age 55, female, born State New York
*  Devier Smith - age 21, male, a Farm Laborer, $1232 in personal property, born State New York
*  John Eaton - age 42, male, born State New York
*  Lewis Eaton - age 25, male, Blacksmith, born Hanover
*  Frederick Yankee - age 24, male, a Shoemaker, born Hanover
*  Elizabeth Cole - age 28, female, Domestic, born State New York
*  John Ely - age 26, male, Farm laborer, born Vermont
*  William Hampf - age 20, male, Farm laborer, born Germany

The source citation for this census record is:

1860 United States Federal Census, Dodge County, Wisconsin, Population Schedule, Oak Grove; Page 745, Dwelling #704, Family #701, Ranslow Smith household; digital image, (; citing National Archives Microfilm Publication M653, Roll 1406.

I don't see any errors in the enumeration for Ranslow, Mary and Devier Smith.  

Ranslow and Mary owned the Four Mile House in Rolling Prairie, very near the railroad station there.  Devier ran the livery business - feeding and watering horses, providing transportation service to the area with stage coaches, buggies and the like.  I think that is why Devier has a fairly significant personal estate - he had a fairly large stock of horses, livery vehicles and supplies.  

I'm curious about the other persons in the household - the blacksmith and shoemaker probably worked in the livery stable, the domestic probably worked in the Inn, and the farm workers worked on the farm producing food for the inn and fodder for the livery stable.  

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How Can I Resolve This Evidence Conflict?

I was so happy last month when I found the Find A Grave memorial pages for Samuel Vaux and Mary Ann (Underhill) Vaux because they provide birth and death dates.  I wrote about it in Tombstone Tuesday - Samuel and Mary Ann Vaux.  The Find A Grave memorial for Samuel Vaux looks like this:

Because there was no image of the gravestone, I requested one through Find A Grave.  I have not heard back from them.  

I figured that the Find A Grave entry might be from some sort of catalog or list of burials housed at a cemetery, so I checked the Family History Library Catalog for Concordia, Cloud county, Kansas, and found this entry:

As I surmised, the Pleasant Hill Cemetery burial index cards were on microfilm, FHL US/CAN Film 182,799 Item 1.  When I was at the Family History Library last week, I checked out this microfilm and found the index cards for both Mary Ann and Samuel Vaux:

Wait a minute!!  The death date for Samuel Vaux on the cemetery card says 9 October 1890, while the death date on the Find A Grave memorial says 9 October 1880.  Concordia, we have a conflict!  

The Find A Grave information was probably derived from the index card, but we don't know when the index card was created.  Was it immediately after the death, or was it sometime later?  The handwriting on the two index cards above looks to be identical, so the cards were probably made out well after the deaths.  They may have been made at some time before 1958, when the GSU filmed them.  Where did the information on the cards come from?  They may have come from a careful transcription of gravestones, or they may have come from contracts or forms in the cemetery office.

From what I know, both pieces of evidence are Derivative Source, Secondary Information, Direct Evidence, so they are equally weighted.  But the Find A Grave entry is probably derived from the index cards, so, to me, that makes the index cards the more authoritative source.

What can I do to find additional information about the date of the death of Samuel Vaux?  Here are my ideas:

*  A gravestone photo will probably help - if there is a gravestone.

*  A newspaper article in a Concordia area newspaper may provide an obituary and a death date.

*  There is a book in the FHLC listings:

Marilyn Johnston, Louise Ganstrom, and Cloud County Genealogical Society, Early Deaths, Cloud County, Kansas, before 1903 (Concordia, Kan. : Cloud County Genealogical Society, 1994)

It's on the shelf at the FHL, and also available on microfiche.  I'll add this to the To-Do list for my next FHL visit!

The Notes for this item in the FHL Catalog says:

"Information taken from county records, funeral homes, newspapers, and cemeteries."

If the record for Samuel Vaux in this book is from the cemetery index cards, then it may say 1890.  But there may be other records that corroborate one date or another.

*  A probate record for Samuel Vaux would probably clear this up quickly.  Unfortunately, the Cloud County, Kansas entries in the FHLC indicate that no probate records (or land records) are available on microfilm from Cloud County.

An 1885 Kansas State census search for Samuel Vaux (or a Sam* born 1816 +/- 2 years in England) yields no record.  D.J. and Abbie (Vaux) Smith resided in Clyde, Cloud County, Kansas in the 1885 Kansas State Census and the household does not include Samuel Vaux.

I have an interesting conflict - does any reader have another idea for finding the actual date of Samuel Vaux's death?

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

FHISO and GEDCOM X Musings

In my post, Post-RootsTech 2013 Musings on 25 March, I stated:

"I went to the FHISO panel discussion and was disappointed by the information provided there."

I received an email soon after, and comments on the blog post, asking why I was disappointed, and I replied to the email correspondent:

"I was disappointed because my expectations were higher than reality. It seemed like the FHISO panel had nothing to say about actual nuts and bolts work on any standard. They all spoke in general terms and platitudes about the members of FHISO, how much had been accomplished getting into the standards world, and that they were working on a Call for White Papers. Robert Burkhead was the only panelist who said much about anything. I asked a question about what the "vision of FHISO" was and Bruce Buzbee was the only one who actually answered the question. Part of my question was that it seemed like GEDCOM X was going to be the GEDCOM replacement by default.

"My expectation walking into the meeting was that I would hear about progress toward a GEDCOM replacement and the other standards that would be created.  My expectations were too high, obviously.  My fault... There is no list of projects - only a Call for Papers that might eventually form a list and actual standards down the road a bit.  There was no mention of a GEDCOM replacement except that Ryan Heaton is talking nice about FHISO and vice versa.  I learned later [in a private discussion] that the GEDCOM X beta is due in May 2013, and that the FamilySearch Family Tree (FSFT) API uses it.  Bruce Buzbee didn't tell me that, but told me that the FSFT API does not includes Sources, Notes or Discussions yet, but that it eventually will.

"Reading the tea leaves, GEDCOM X will be what FSFT uses, and perhaps will be one of the white papers offered, and perhaps they will apply for FHISO approval.  A cynic would say "GEDCOM X will be the GEDCOM replacement since no other alternative was developed."  The interesting thing will be if GEDCOM X is accepted by the FHISO members and the other software providers and online tree companies. It may be that GEDCOM 5.5 and GEDCOM X have to be accounted for in any genealogy data exchanges."

My hope is that the Family History International Standards Organisation (FHISO) effort will result in a GEDCOM replacement that is open, understandable, complete, can be modified, and will be utilized by every genealogy software program and online family tree.  I was an early member of the BetterGEDCOM effort, but dropped away when I knew that I couldn't offer much to the discussion.  I have been, and still am, impatient for progress to occur towards this goal.

I did not attend the GEDCOM X session at RootsTech 2013 given by Ryan Heaton of FamilySearch.  There is a GEDCOM X web page at with more information about it. The Requirements document for GEDCOM X is at

Other RootsTech 2013 attendees have weighed in on this issue, including:

1)  Michael McCormick wrote a summary of it in My RootsTech 2013: Day 1 - FamilySearch reveals website beta and vision, BillionGraves tech plans.  The paragraph about this issue says:

"In the FHISO (Family History Information Standards Organization) class at 3pm, many of us voiced the community's opinion that FHISO was working too slowly and we wanted to see FamilySearch working with them. To the credit of both FHISO and Ryan of GEDCOMX (FamilySearch), they mentioned each other in a friendly manner. The points in the FHISO discussion seemed not to be answered to the satisfaction of many present. For example, it was asked what we have to work with today regarding a better GEDCOM model. It was asked where we might read more specifics of a suggested model for any particular standards. 

"While the answers there seemed soft and tentative, the GEDCOMX vision discussed in the next hour was well defined--an example of a modern and live (within FamilySearch) model that could be used by FHISO and altered to the community's needs. Ryan was enthusiastic about the idea of working with FHISO to adjust the 'open' GEDCOMX. The complexities were interesting. It was mentioned that the name GEDCOMX is owned by FamilySearch and requires a citation crediting them, but the things needed to implement it are all open and may be altered without permission. When we asked Ryan about why FamilySearch had not officially joined FHISO, Ryan told us that he wanted the same thing and we should take it to upper management because his recommendation was previously dismissed. We do not know why the choice was made, so it is our job to try and find contact information for the right person (that isn't easy) and tell them we want to see an official partnership."

2)  Michael Dorsey Iams commented on my earlier post and said:  

"I also attended the FHISO panel meeting and I think there was much frustration in the room regarding the lack of a plan of action. While there is consensus that GEDCOM 5.5 is insufficient for today's needs, there seemed to be no sense of urgency among any of the panel members toward resolving the situation. The words from RootsMagic, BrightSolid, & Ancestry were that they don't have any particular agenda, but would like a seat at the table. Understandable, but that does not sound like any of them are looking to take a leadership role, or at least do it publicly in front of the small number of people in attendance. 

"What I take from the FHISO tagline 'It begins here, it begins with you' is the goal of FHISO is to only facilitate the creation of the standards, and maintain neutrality, to the point of passivity. Is it not possible for a standards organization to set a goal of defining a standard by a set time? The hope seems that coalitions will coalesce out of the "Call for Papers" and drive the process forward. Given the minimal of progress over the last several years, more concrete plans are desired.

"What I wanted to see from the meeting was a statement of goals for the organization and a presentation of the strategy to get there over the next year. I don't believe any goals or commitments were made at the meeting. Although I would prefer goals for creation of a successor GEDCOM standard, I would settle for goals regarding the organization itself and building the necessary capabilities. What sort of budget and membership is required? What marketing will be done to get the word out? What skill sets are needed in the organization to make this happen? And most importantly, how are we going to get there?"

3)  Russ Worthington commented on my earlier post and said:  

"I wasn't going to jump in on this topic, but I find that I must.  There are two words that WE, the end users, need to understand. 'International' and 'Standard'. Short translation, 'VERY SLOW'.

"The current leaders of FHISO are ALL volunteers, NO corporation is provided the resources to "produce" something. As I listened to the community gathered, I came away with that community was expecting a product, or something, or progress from RootsTech 2012. The FHISO volunteers meet weekly, from around the world. I don't attend them, but [they] are attempting to pull the right folks (People and companies) to get a new standard started.

"I have been involved with Standards before. I helped fund several people to write Papers, as in Call for Papers. Taking those papers to an end product, took far too long, but the end product, when the Working Groups took those working papers and created a standard, was something that the everyone can use.

"'Upgrading' / Updating the current GEDCOM has been discussed since the Better GEDCOM days, but to me that is creating limitations on the standard, based on the change in the technologies that we have today.

"Michael Dorsey asked about funding. I am not sure that the Organisation can determine that, as it is not clear to me just how big this project is. The call for papers, I think, will help the companies involved, determine the funding level within those companies.

"My take on this presentation was positive. What I saw was some of the right groups at the table at the front of the room. Software companies, genealogists, and end users.

"What I didn't hear, and would have like to have heard, was What does a Call for Papers mean to End Users and companies who FHISO needs to sign up for this project. How can an End User participate directly with FHISO. To me, the End User can be involved in TWO ways. Part of FHISO and to be talking with my software vendor, encouraging them to be part of FHISO.

"My two cents on this topic."

Thank you to Michael, Michael and Russ for your helpful comments.  

If other attendees to either the FHISO or GEDCOM X presentations have comments, I would greatly appreciate them in Comments to this post and will edit this post to include salient comments.

I did receive a followup email from my correspondent who said that the FHISO panelists were working on a response about issues raised at the FHISO panel session.  I look forward to that, and thank the FHISO panelists for their patience and efforts.  I will try to be more patient.  

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver