Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - The Rivers of Your Ancestors

Hey genea-folks, 
it's Saturday Night again, 

 time for more Genealogy Fun!


Your mission this week, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  I posted 
The "Rivers of America" Map yesterday, and demonstrated how to find the downstream course of a river in the United States, or the upstream watershed area of a river.  Please refer to that blog post.

2)  This week, your Saturday Night Genealogy Fun mission is to make a map using the National Atlas map (at the downstream course of a river that one of your ancestors may have traveled on.  What does it tell you?  What did you learn?  Did they live at other places on that river, or downstream of that river?  

3)  Tell us about it in a blog post of your own (please show us the map you created - use an image snipping tool or take a screen shot), or make a comment here on this post, or write a Facebook status or a Google+ stream post.  

Here's mine:

I was curious about the river system in Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  My Carringer family migrated from there to Louisa County, Iowa in the late 1850s.  I don't know if they traveled by horse/oxen and wagon or by river and then wagon.  If they went by river, I figured that they went down by wagon to a place on the Ohio River, then down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River and up the Mississippi River to Louisa County, Iowa.  

I am interested in the rivers and creeks around Perry township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  Here is a zoomed in map of the area (unfortunately, county boundaries are hard to see):

The Martin Carringer family settled in 1796 right about where the red dot is on the map above (I put it there are then copied the image).   This appears to be one of the highest spots in the area.  As you can see, there is Neshannock Creek to the south of the homestead, which drains to the south, through the towns of Mercer and New Castle to Beaver, where it empties into the Ohio River.  The stream to the north of the red dot is the Little Shenango River which drains through Greenville, Sharpsville and New Castle, and thence to Beaver and into the Ohio River.  

The watercourse for the Little Shenango River is:

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Surname Saturday - SMITH (England to colonial Massachusetts)

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

I am in the 7th great-grandmothers, I'm up to Ancestor #633, who is Sarah SMITH (1661-????) 
[Note: the earlier great-grandmothers and 7th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts].

My ancestral line back through two American generations of this SMITH family line is:

1.  Randall J. Seaver (1943-living)

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)

18.  Edward Hildreth (1831-1899)
19.  Sophia Newton (1834-1923)

38.  Thomas J. Newton (ca 1800 - ????)
39.  Sophia Buck (1797-1882)

78.  Isaac Buck (1757-1847)
79.  Martha Phillips (1757-????)

158.  John Phillips (1722-????)
159.  Hannah Brown (1725-????)

316.  Ebenezer Phillips (1695-1746)
317.  Mary Smith (1698-????)

632.  Andrew Phillips, born about 1661 in probably Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States; died 10 December 1717 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States.  He was the son of 1264. Andrew Phillips and 1265. Elizabeth.  He married 11 November 1683 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States.
633.  Sarah Smith, born before 04 August 1661 in Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.

Children of Andrew Phillips and Sarah Smith are:
*  Andrew Phillips (1687-????), married 1706 Mary Covell.
*  Ebenezer Phillips (1695-1746), married 1719 Mary Smith (1698-????).
*  Joanna Phillips (1697-????)
*  Samuel Phillips (1699-1722).

1266.  Michael Smith, born about 1620 in England; died after 1687 in Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  He married before 1639 in Massachusetts, United States.
1267.  Jane, born about 1620 in England; died 10 November 1692 in Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.

Children of Michael Smith and Jane are:
*  Nathaniel Smith (1640-????)
*  Michael Smith (1643-????)
*  John Smith (1645-1678)
*  Samuel Smith (1648-????)
*  Pelatiah Smith (1651-????0, married Sarah.
*  Sarah Smith (1661-????), married 1683 Andrew Phillips (1661-1717).

The only information I have about the Michael Smith family is from derivative sources such as town histories.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Friday, July 19, 2013

The "Rivers of America" Map

Have you seen this map?  It shows the rivers and streams of America that end up flowing out of the Mississippi river into the Gulf of Mexico.

The map actually shows all of the rivers in the United States.  You can see it, and zoom in on specific areas, and track the course of a specific river, on the National Atlas website - see

On the National Atlas website, I zoomed into see the area around Cheyenne County, Kansas (the most northwest county in Kansas) because that is where my great-grandparents married in 1887.  Here is what I saw:

Up at the top of the map, there is a button on the menu line that says "Trace Downstream."  You can click on a point anywhere on a river and see the trace of that river downstream to where it ends up in the ocean.  Here is the trace for the Republican river which flows through Cheyenne County, Kansas:

By zooming in, I can see that the Republican River passes through McCook, Nebraska, Concordia, Kansas, and Clay Center, Kansas; all of those places are where the Devier Smith family resided during their lives.  The Republican eventually goes into the Missouri River at Kansas City, and the Missouri into the Mississippi River at St. Louis.

I wondered about the Colorado River - what is its' watershed area (what does it drain)?  Another button on the menu line at the top of the screen enables you to Trace Upstream."  I chose that, and clicked the cursor on the point where the Colorado enters the USA in Arizona, and saw:

I love maps!  This is one of the coolest maps I've seen.  As you can see, the different major river drainage systems in the USA are shown with green boundaries.

Why is this important to genealogists?  Because the rivers were one of the major means of transportation in the United States and colonial America before trains and automobiles and airplanes.  How did your ancestors travel to the places they resided?

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Follow-Up Friday - Interesting and Useful Reader Cmments

Here are some of the interesting and useful comments from Genea-Musings readers this week, and my responses (if warranted).  I'm not going to list all of the comments from each post:

1)  On Interesting Questions About Online Family Trees (posted 15 July 2013):

*  Elyse said:  "I don't have an updated tree on Ancestry only because I can't transfer my tree to someone else if I die. I know that technically my descendants could download it to a GEDCOM, but it won't look the same. I'd rather put my tree on WikiTree where I can easily pass it on to someone by just adding them to the Trusted List. (And no, I'm not just saying that because I work for WikiTree). What I like about collaborative sites is that you can share an ancestor profile - and if a tragic thing were to happen where I died or could no longer do research, someone could continue my work. This could work on sites like WeRelate (perfect if you never put living people online) or WikiTree.

"I understand why people put their tree on Ancestry - I've just never really seen a need."

*  Dr. Bill (William L. Smith) commented:  "I'm like Elyse in that I do not use the Ancestry Family Tree function. I was an early and continuing contributor and participant in WikiTree. I like it very much. Yesterday, coincidentally, I looked at the FamilySearch Family Tree (wiki!) and connected my name (all I had since I first registered) to my parents - they, and most of the rest of my research over the years, was already there. I went in and did some editing on the far distant pass relatives...correcting errors from prior work, that they had picked up and recorded (from somewhere). It was actually quite gratifying to see it all there, for the world to access and comment on, should anyone so choose. What an interesting life we lead! ;-)"

*  Victor noted:  "Most of the researchers appear to use only what is available on The few that have worked on my family do not have sources listed beyond US census records. A majority of the none attributed information appears to be based on my early shared research and/or my tree on the old usgenweb. I update my tree on, because my ancestors were Germanic Europeans and there are many researchers on that site doing original work in non British European records."

*  Geolover said:  "All Public Member Trees are mirrored on Any registered user, whether a subscriber or not, can search and view any tree there. Anyone can create a new account just to view trees there. It is a rather clumsy interface, and has been in 'beta' for several years - but still free. Trees that are 'private' on are not supposed to be shown on, but there have been glitches."

My comment:  I've tried to access Mundia, but it seems very cumbersome and slow.

*  T explained:  "I've been doing this for more or less 3 years. I put my tree on as a public tree BECAUSE of the misinformation on 99.9% of the trees I found when researching my own family. To name a few: wife's parents attributed to husband, brother's children included with own children, information about a niece of the same name as wife incorporated with wife's information, wrong place or date of birth, wrong spouse, extra children, children not assigned to the right mother or father, children born after the mother had died, children older than either parent, children born to a parent impossibly younger/older than childbearing age. I was astounded at the carelessness of tree authors. 

"Some of my ancestors were extremely hard to find. When I found them I wanted to be sure someone else looking for the same information didn't have to go through all that I did. I would guess 1/4 of the people on my tree are not "out there" and I had to do some creative thinking to find them. One shocking revelation was the extended family I had right in my own back yard and never knew it. 

"Yes, people help themselves to my documents and my work. It would be nice if they cited me but not all do. I've become more selective about which documents I will buy. It's easy to turn this hobby into a money pit. 

"I don't know if this will be the right solution to maintaining my tree in years to come but I have names a limited number of people as editors to my tree. They will have access and can add, subtract, and correct misinformation. None of my children are the least bit interested. I don't want all this work and money to end up in the dumpster when I die. Hopefully someone will keep my online tree alive. And who knows, maybe by the time a child is MY age they will become interested in family history and be thankful I have done so much work."

*  Donna said:  "It never crossed my mind to not use the capabilities of Ancestry for my tree - it is free and is easy to attach supportive documentation so others can understand follow the trail that led me to my conclusions. Because I'm thorough [I add all siblings and children and their spouses/children, etc.) and attach documentation, there is a reasonably complete picture of my family - not just a direct line listing of names and dates. I have others who have or can have Editor capability with the tree so it can be continued after my death. And who cares if someone accesses and uses the information - sharing is a part of the reason for doing it. Then, of course, there is the benefit of connecting with relatives who find you by way of the tree and beginning to collaborate on the family history. I find the WikiTree, FamilySearch, My Heritage, Geni, etc. trees frustrating - although I do have my information available in all of them, I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time either correcting all the misinformation or deleting emails asking me to merge people from my own tree [documented by way of many research aids] with others' undocumented and frequently inaccurate trees."

2)  On Am I A Bad Researcher Because I Cite "Indexes?"(posted 16 July 2013):

*  Heather Rojo said:  "I cite indexes, too, until I can get to the actual documents. Sometimes I never get to the actual documents because they are at a distance and/or I cannot write for copies. Most of my genealogy files are 'working files' like yours. I consider them 'in progress'. If I am writing an article I would only include actual citations for actual documents, or work very hard to get to the documents or have someone pull copies for me. I have a long, long list of such documents waiting to be pulled! No, I don't consider you or I to be 'bad researchers'. A 'bad researcher' is one who never cites where they find anything. An index or a bad citation trumps no citation any day."

*  Lisa commented:  "...I cite indexes all the time. It's the start to finding out further information. I find it's best to have that than nothing at all. The GPS is needed for those people that hit our "brick wall" and help us in breaking it down. For our working files, the indexes work great!"

*  Gelover noted:  "Sometimes only an index is available, such as in the case of a judgments or docket index for records that went up in flames in 1875 or 1910. One must use such things with great caution as to 'same name = same person' and other pitfalls.

"Bad researcher? You are setting priorities and limits. If you aimed for completeness and accuracy in the case of one-name studies, I am confident that you would not settle for indexes in "collections" type databases that are not associated with immediately accessible images. So you have decided to settle for possible vagueness and inaccuracy?"

*  Elizabeth Shown mills offered:  "Bad researcher? If so, Randy, then you're getting lots of encouragement from EE, which has several dozen citation examples for citing indexes and carries a whole section (2.12) covering some of the reasons *why* good researchers cite indexes. Bottom line: (a) we cite what we use; (b) it could be days or years before we are able to access the actual records to which the index entry points; and (c) many indexes, even those contemporary to the actual record, carry helpful information not in the record itself. 'Bad research,' I'd argue, would happen if we base a genealogical *conclusion* on an index entry without making an effort to consult the actual record and without significant supporting evidence."

*  Mel said:  "I also cite indexes. In my area of research (Hawaii), sometimes indexes are all you have. For instance, their are next to zero original birth records available prior to 1910 for Hawaii. What you have are marriage register books, which are an index to the original records. I use that info. and I cite it because I'm not going to have anything else to work with.

"There may also be a cost factor. I've pulled hundreds of entries from the California Death Index (My grandfather's side of the family was huge). I could never afford to order all the death certificates for all those people.

"But, I cite indexes in other cases as well. To me, it's like the first step in the trail. I located this name, date, and place in an index. I put it in my database with a citation. I evaluate it as such. Later, I might have a chance to find a transcription of the record. I cite that too. Then someday, I might have access to the original. I cite that (of course!). If I get to the original and I realize that there was an error in the index, then I assess and correct my data at that point. "

*  Russ Worthington noted:  "Like you and the comments I read so far, I too Cite indexes, every time I find one.

"What I understand is, that I can't / shouldn't use an Index when writing a conclusion statement.  My reason for this: I can't pass the first step in the GPS because I haven't found, nor looked at the document that the Index points to.

"In a book, you have to turn to the Page, that the index suggests, before I can capture Information from that Container (book). So, I haven't met the reasonably exhaustive research. I didn't turn the page. OR I didn't find that or didn't go to the Find-A-Grave website, that an Index pointed me to.

"All of that said, I have and will continue to Cite those index pages, but won't refer to that index at all in any summary statement. I WILL use the Container that the Index points to When writing that summary.

"Oh, and just because I opened that book to the right page, captured the information that was contained, doesn't mean that I have completed step one, but I can / should include the information in that 2nd container in my summary."

*  Lisa Suzanne Gorrell offered:  "I used citations from indexes in the book I wrote about my husband's family. There just wasn't enough money in the budget to pay for all of the birth, marriage and death certificates. Even though family told me the information, I felt I needed to have a source for each piece of information. So the index was confirming what the family told us."

*  SearchShack said:  "Indexes have frequently pointed me to additional information and sometimes are all I can find and now that I'm citing everything (as many, wish I'd started that 20 years ago), I cite them as I try to use the great examples in Evidence Explained. Still learning about the methods of drawing drawing formal conclusions via many great Webinars being offered on this topic and the many fabulous genealogy writers who are sharing excellent information. Also love these educational debates as I get to read many different perspectives on the topic of genealogy."

*  GenXalogy commented:  "I routinely cite indexes. For a start, evidence which may be less reliable is still ahead on 'no evidence' in my book, also it helps me remember what I need to have a further look at, and there's just only so much time and money! E.g., I regularly cite our BDM index, 'cause at $42 a pop, I am NEVER going to be able to buy all the original documents."

My comments:  Thank you all for sharing.  There are some excellent examples and reasonable practices shared in the comments.  

3)  On What Exactly is "Indirect Evidence?" (posted 17 July 2013):

*  Russ Worthington said:  "My take is knowing the right question to be asking. For birth (date) information I only have ONE question. What is my subjects Birth Date. Most sources fail to completely answer that question. I agree with you that the first four are indirect. I may get close but not jump off the page complete answer, which would be direct as I understand it.

Having found the direct answer, I don't stop looking, but continue to look for conflicting information even I might find more confirming information.

I may not be focusing on that specific question, but be aware that there is a question that might have another answer."

*  Elizabeth Shown Mills offered:  "Russ, given your stated question (What is my subject's birth date?), let me pose a pair of situations that, IMO, better shows the difference between direct and indirect evidence.

"Let's say your subject is John Puzzler. Let’s say we have his memoir saying that he was born during a blizzard the first year his parents lived in North Dakota. Let’s say we find an affidavit by Jenny (Puzzler) Jones who, we know, was his sister. Jenny says: 'On Christmas Day, right after we moved to North Dakota, my mother died in childbirth. I helped deliver my brother because we were in the middle of a blizzard and no one could go get a doctor.' Jenny does not even mention John by name. She was not addressing the issue of John’s birth date. But her testimony IS evidence we can use to determine John’s birthdate. It’s INdirect evidence.

"By comparison, let’s say that we find testimony by Sam Puzzler, whom we can otherwise prove to be John’s first cousin. Sam testified: 'Both John and I were born on Christmas Day, in the middle of a blizzard, right after our families moved to North Dakota.' Sam has supplied us with a day and month. Sam does not specify the year, so we don’t have ALL the information we want. But he did directly, explicitly, address the issue of John’s birth date; and he explicitly, directly stated part of that date. He gave us direct evidence for our question: What was John’s birth date?

"If the evidence directly addresses our question, it is direct evidence, whether it tells us EVERYTHING we want to know or not. We wouldn’t say: Oh, yeah, it tells me 2/3 of the answer I want but it doesn’t give me the last 1/3 so I have to relabel it and call it INdirect."

*  Paul K. Graham noted:  "I think you bring up one of the most critical responsibilities of a genealogist. Even if you've found the answer to a question, you must be willing to accept the possibility that new evidence will challenge what you think to be true. 

"After finding direct evidence for a question in one source, it's important to find other sources that either corroborate or conflict. However, it's equally important to recognize that the reasonably exhaustive search does not require us to search endlessly for conflicting evidence, especially as consistent direct evidence stacks up."

*  Russ Worthington noted in response to Paul:  "That is why I also am on the look out for conflicts, or differing data.

"One point that I keep in the back of my mind though, is that I don't have to create a "brick wall" because I only found the Direct Evidence from once source. I may have also incomplete or Indirect Evidence as well. My experience and from I have heard from others, is that we will find that information, conflicting, or direct, when we least expect it."

My comment:  I love it when a discussion occurs in my blog comments.  Thank you to Elizabeth for her interesting "situations" (something tells me they are based on actual research situations with the names/places changed).

4)  That's enough for today - lots of excellent discussion on my Genea-Musings posts.  I decided not to make extensive comments of my own...I did that in the posts themselves.

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Have You Posted Your Genealogy Research on the Internet? I Practice PMGDOE!

You've done ALL of this genealogy and family history research, over many years and even decades, and invested countless hours in collecting information, organizing resources, creating a family tree in software or on paper charts, and perhaps even creating a series of reports, manuscripts, or books that document your research.

Have you put your research, in whatever form, on the Internet?  If so, how?  In an online family tree database or website (e.g., Ancestry Member Tree, FamilySearch Family Tree, MyHeritage,, WikiTree, WeRelate, etc.)?  Or on a free website (e.g., Rootsweb WorldConnect), your own hosted website, or a genealogy blog?

Note that some of the options above are not found in a search by the search engines - Ancestry Member Trees, FamilySearch Family Tree and MyHeritage are not, but Geni, WikiTree, WeRelate and WorldConnect entries are found by the search engines.

Why I have done this (it seems like on all of the options listed above!) is to serve as "cousin bait."  My theory is that I should "Post My Genealogy Data Online Everywhere" - PMGDOE.

How does PMGDOE pay off for me?  Let me count the ways:

*  Because I post my research experiences on my genealogy blog, often as I am doing the research.  My best example is the Whittle Genealogy Research Compendium - readers much more knowledgeable than I helped me find Australian, English and American resources that helped solve my research problems.

*  I posted a number of genealogy reports on my Randy Seaver's Genealogy and Family History FREE website on back in 1999, and updated them in 2005.  They are downloadable for free.  I receive several queries every week based on these reports even though they are dated a bit.  Last week, a Dill cousin was thrilled to do a search, land on my Dill report, and find six generations of her ancestry there to read and enjoy.  We're exchanging data on her 20th century families.

*  Because the had a 10 megabyte limit, I couldn't post more information there.  About a year ago, I found that I could put reports (or even digital books) on  I wrote about it in Updating my Online Genealogy Ancestral Reports on 1 October 2012.  I have a list of the available reports on the Randy's Genealogy page (at the top of this blog page).  They are downloadable for free.  I don't get many responses from those pages yet, but eventually I think that I will.  I was able to add much more content, with the source citations to support the information (well, not EVERY event, but a lot of them).  

*  I have my entire database available on an Ancestry Member Tree, and I try to update it at least once a year.  I also have my ancestral families in another Ancestry Member Tree so that I can sync it with the Ancestry App on my iPhone and Samsung tablet, and carry my ancestry in my pocket.  I receive several messages via the Ancestry message system each week asking questions or offering information about persons in my tree.  

*  I am adding my ancestral families to the FamilySearch Family Tree, including sources, selected photos and stories, and selected documents. The FamilySearch goal is that the Family Tree will be a connected family tree open to everyone to contribute to.  Unless you are or had ancestors who were LDS members, it's probable that your last three or four generations are not in this online family tree.  Mine were not, so i'm adding them gradually.  

The point is that I have done PMGDOE - I've posted my genealogy data online (almost) everywhere.  I've done it for (almost) FREE (an Ancestry Member Tree is FREE, as is FamilySearch Family Tree, Scribd, etc.). 

What happens when I pass into the great ahnentafel in the sky?  I hope that one of my descendants will carry on the research, or at least maintain the websites so that others can benefit from my research.  By practicing PMGDOE, I have a good chance of having my research live on after my demise.

I do think that the FamilySearch Family Tree has the best chance to become a true connected FREE online family tree, survive a national catastrophe, and have my research live on.  Who knows, Jay Verkler's vision of the genealogical future (see Do You Believe the FamilySearch Vision of the Future?) may even come true!

What do you think?  Are you following my PMGDOE strategy?  If not, why not?  What's your strategy?

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

New RootsMagic 6 Feature - Problem Alerts

The RootsMagic Blog announced a new feature yesterday - Problem Alerts.  You can see examples and watch a short video about Problem Alerts on the blog post.  To use this feature, the user has to have the latest RootsMagic 6 version, (and later).

I decided to see what I might find in my RootsMagic 6 database.  Sure enough, I looked on my "Pedigree View" (it works also on the "Family View" and "Descendants View") and found several instances of problems.  Here's a "Pedigree View" for one of my ancestors:

A Problem Alert icon (a red triangle with an exclamation mark in it) shows for Jonathan White (1806-1850, the father of Henry Arnold White) on the line with the person's name, next to the FamilySearch icon.  I clicked on the Problem Alert icon and saw:

The "Problem List" window opened, and told me that the problem was "Census after Death."

On the "Family View" for Jonathan White, the Problem Alert icon appears on the person's name line, next to the FamilySearch icon:

I double-clicked on Jonathan White's name, and the "Edit Person" screen opened:

Yep, I have an 1850 U.S. Census record there for Jonathan after his death on 29 April 1850.  That's because I put all of the family census records in Jonathan's Notes.  I should have put the 1850 Census Event in the Profile for his wife, Miranda (Wade) White, and his tow sons.

The fix is to add the 1850 Census Event to his wife and sons, and delete it from Jonathan White (1806-1850).  I did that!

The list of Problem Alerts, and choosing which ones to find, can be found in the Tools > File Options menu in RootsMagic.

The Problem list used includes:

*  Individuals without sex entered
*  Proper order of events
*  Birth before parents marriage
*  Birth before parent's birth
*  Birth after father's death
*  Birth after mother's death
*  Age at death should be less than 100 (default)
*  Age at marriage should be between 14 (default) and 70 (default)
*  Father's age should be between 14 (default) and 70 (default)
*  Mother's age should be between 14 (default) and 50 (default).

The user can change the default items.

That's strange, there is no "Event After Death" feature listed - that was my problem for Jonathan White.  The Probate Event and the Burial Event did not show up on the "Problem Alert" list either, and they are after the death date.  Perhaps the "Proper order of events" error covers the Census Event, and there is an exception for the Probate Event and the Burial Event.

This is a very useful feature, I think.  The Problem Alert icon is visible on the Views most often used by users, and the user can easily determine the problem.  The user can choose "Not a Problem" or "Add to To-Do list" on the Problem Alert screen if they wish.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Treasure Chest Thursday - 1838 Guardianship Record for Isaac Seaver 3rd

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 1838 guardianship record for Isaac Seaver of Westminster, Massachusetts (second item on the page below):

The transcription of this typescript is:

Case A-52855                 Abigail Seaver et als.                    Nomination

To the Hon. Ira Barton/Judge of Probate for the County of Worcester.

This certifies that Isaac Seaver 3d a minor above the age of fourteen years and Son of Benjamin Seaver late of Westminster in said County deceased This day came before me the Subscriber one of the Justices of the Peace for said County and made choice of Jeremiah K. Gates of said Westminster yeoman to be his Guardian.

Dated at Westminster the nineteenth day of February A.D. 1838.

                                                 Simeon Sanderson Justice of the Peace

A true record.
Attest:                                       George H. Harlow

The source citation for this guardianship record is:

Worcester County, Massachusetts Probate Court Records, 1731-1916, Probate Records, Volumes 204-206 (1740-1860), Volume 205, Page 462, Isaac Seaver Nomination of Guardian; accessed on FHL microfilm US/CAN 0,860,639.

The original paper of this guardianship record can be found in Probate Packet A-52855 Abigail Seaver et als at the Worcester County Court House in Worcester, Mass.

Isaac Seaver's father, Benjamnin Seaver, died in 1825.  Abigail (Gates) Seaver, Isaac's mother, was appointed guardian of her minor children after Benjamin's death.  In 1832, Abigail (Gates) Seaver married (2) Isaac Seaver 2d (Benjamin's brother, 1802-1870), and had two children by him in 1834 and 1837.  Massachusetts law at this time permitted minors aged 14 and older to choose their own guardian, so Isaac nominated his mother's brother, Jeremiah Knowlton Gates (1808-1845) to be his guardian.  Jeremiah Knowlton Gates resided with his family in Gardner, Massachusetts, the town to the west of Westminster, Massachusetts.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What Exactly is "Indirect Evidence?"

There was a spirited discussion on the Transitional Genealogists Forum message board earlier this month.  The first message I see in July 2013 was by Michelle Lewis, titled "direct vs. indirect."  There are many responses to this post that involved many of the best minds in the genealogy world.

Thomas W. Jones new book, Mastering Genealogical Proof, defines "Direct Evidence" as (page 14):

" information item that answers a research question all by itself.  When we consider the possibility that an information item describes what actually occurred we are using that information item as direct evidence."

And "Indirect Evidence" as:

" ...a set of two or more information items that suggest an answer to a research question only when they are combined."

The discussion on the TGF board quickly went to "it depends on the question being asked."  Example questions and answers included (my interpretation, I hope I got them right!):

*  With a question of "How old was John Doe on 1 June 1850?" an answer of 49 years old is "Direct Evidence" (because it answers the question - it doesn't have to be exact, or correct).

*  With a question of "What year was John Doe born if he was age 49 on 1 June 1850?" (and therefore he was born in either 1800 or 1801), the answer would be "Direct Evidence" (because it answers the question, but not exactly).

*  With a question of "What was John Doe's birth date if he was age 49 on 1 June 1850?"  The answer would be "Indirect Evidence" because it does not answer the question exactly.

*  With a question of "What is the birth date of John Doe if he died on 1 June 1850 and his age at death was 49 years, 4 months and 3 days?" the answer would be "Direct Evidence" (because this single piece of information provides enough data to permit calculation of an exact birth date).

*  With a question of "What is John Doe's birth date?" if a death certificate says the birth date was 29 January 1801, the answer would be "Direct."

Elizabeth Shown Mills added this in the discussion:

"If we assume that direct evidence gives a full answer and anything less than that is INdirect, then we have simplified both our expectations and our research. If we redefine INdirect as "something that addresses the question but doesn't give a full answer," then our focus--and our research  methodology--stays at base level."

In my assignment of Direct or Indirect Evidence to source citations that provide information about an exact date (day-month-year), I've been using "Direct" for information that states a specific day-month-year, and "Indirect" for information that requires additional information to determine a specific day-month-year.  

My practice has been to assign "Indirect" to the first four examples above if the question was "What is John Doe's birth date?" My view was that I needed more information to determine an exact day-month-year in the first three cases, and that I need to make a calculation in the fourth case (since there were two different pieces of information - a death date and an age at death).  I find age at death quite a bit in the Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1915 collections and use them to determine birth dates.  Some gravestones list a date of death and an age at death also. 

Is a death record that includes both a death date and an age at death one piece of information or two?  I've been treating it as two, but it seems like it's one now to me.  Am I quibbling over a small point?

The TGF message board also highlighted that assigning Direct or Indirect to evidence items was not the most important factor here - the purpose of the assignment of the term is to help the researcher evaluate all of the available evidence and apply the Genealogical Proof Standard to draw a soundly reasoned conclusion that answers the question at hand.  

Elizabeth Shown Mills summed it up nicely with:

"Success with a BCG portfolio--indeed, success with genealogical problem solving--doesn't hinge upon learning textbook definitions or knowing what label to apply to something. What makes us successful is (a) the ability to recognize evidence that doesn't jump off the page and slap us in the face; and (b) the ability to use that unobvious information to solve a problem. "

I encourage interested readers to read the entire thread of responses.  The TGF message board is one of the best freely available forums to ask questions and receive answers from knowledgeable and respected genealogists.  

Am I correct with my assignments of Direct vs. Indirect in the five examples above?  What examples do you have that you are puzzled about?

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

CGSSD Meeting on Saturday, 20 July on BLM/GLO Records and Google Earth

The ComputerGenealogy Society of San Diego meets on the 3rd Saturday of each month (except December) from 9:00 a.m. to noon on the campus of UCSD, University of California, San Diego. See our web page  for directions.

The next meeting will be held on Saturday, 20 July 2013 from 9:00 am to noon. Here are the details:

9:00 - User Groups: 
*  Legacy with Reuben Marchant 
*  Roots Magic with Randy Seaver
10:00 - Break
10:20 - Announcements followed by the program:
Land Ho! - Using BLM Government Land Office records and Google Earth to find ancestor owned property, by Blythe Stokes
Land Ho!
Bring your netbook, laptop, iPad or tablet loaded with Google Earth to take full advantage of this talk.  Even if you don’t have a mobile device you will still learn how to incorporate Google Earth into your family’s genealogy. After a quick overview of Google Earth, we will step into to the past. Learn how to incorporate BLM/Government Land Record data into Google Earth to view the location of your ancestor’s property. You will find that Google Earth is a tremendous tool that you can put into your genealogy toolbox. Best of all, it’s free!! 
Blythe has been involved in genealogy research since the 1970’s. She just recently received her certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University and is presently working towards her professional certificate in genealogy.  She has been asked to present a variety of genealogical lectures to a variety of groups from the Orange County California Genealogy Society, The Jewish Genealogy Society of San Diego, the North San Diego County Genealogy Society and the Southern California Genealogy Society.  She teaches the genealogy classes offered at the Cole Library, Carlsbad. She also teaches genealogy for OASIS, a senior centered education program. Blythe is a member of the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Professional  Genealogists. She was a science educator for 16 years and a science mentor teacher for the State of California . In the early 1990’s she was also involved in a genetic/microgravity/cosmic radiation experiment that rode on the space shuttle Discovery in 1992.

We meet at the Robinson Auditorium complex on the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus in La Jolla. From North Torrey Pines Road, turn at Pangea Drive into UCSD. Free parking is available in the parking garage on the left; use any space other than those specifically reserved for UCSD vehicles. Signs will mark directions to our meeting room. Please refer to our website; or the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies website (click here) for driving directions and a map.

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Post 265: Lyle and Emily (Auble) Carringer in 1970

I'm posting family photographs from my collection on Wednesdays, but they aren't Wordless Wednesday posts like others do - I am incapable of having a wordless post.

Here is a photograph from the Seaver/Carringer family photograph collection passed to me by my mother, or taken by Linda or me in the 1970s:

This is a photograph of my maternal grandparents, Lyle Lawrence Carringer (1891-1976) and Emily Kemp (Auble) Carringer (1899-1977) taken on 20 March 1970 in their home at 825 Harbor View Place in San Diego.  The occasion was the wedding rehearsal dinner for Linda and me.  

I wish that this picture wasn't so out of focus, because it is probably the last "good" picture of the two of them together before their health declined.  I guess beggars can't be choosers (this is why I take at least two photos of every scene with my iPhone now...). 

I did not recall that Lyle's hair was still relatively dark at age 78, and I don't think it ever turned all white.  I love the narrow tie with the short sleeved shirt.  He was always a relatively small and spare man; at this time he's probably 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed about 130 pounds.  Emily had been stout throughout the 1950s and 1960s, but had a stroke in the mid-1960s and lost a lot of weight.  They were both very precious to me - I had a special bond with them both, having lived with them, or in a nearby house, for the first 8 years of my life.  

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Copyright (c) 23013, Randall J. Seaver

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Hack Genealogy" Website Announcement

I received this press release from my colleague, Thomas MacEntee today:

Repurposing today's technology for tomorrow's genealogy

17 July 2013 – Chicago, IL. Genealogy educator and author Thomas MacEntee announces the debut of Hack Genealogy, a new resource for the genealogy industry and the growing community of genealogy and family history enthusiasts.

Hack Genealogy is about “repurposing today's technology for tomorrow's genealogy” and a little bit more. Hack Genealogy is more than just a list of resources: It provides information on emerging technology inside and outside the genealogy industry.
Hack Genealogy is not merely about surviving the overwhelming presence of new and emerging technologies . . . Hack Genealogy is about genealogy and technology success in its many facets.
What Will You Find at Hack Genealogy?
Here are the features to be offered at Hack Genealogy over the coming months:
·       Cool GenStuff: Each day we’ll provide a curated list of the latest information about genealogy that deserve your attention.
·       Discussions and Issues: We’ll discuss issues important to the genealogy community including education, self-publishing, sharing research and more.
·       Education and E-Guides: Through the use of webinars, e-guides, Google+ hangouts and other innovative educational technologies, Hack Genealogy seeks to educate genealogists on the latest technologies.
·       GenBiz Buzz: Learn how others have succeeded with their genealogy and family history-related business and the tools they used to succeed.
·       Interviews: We’ll ask a variety of players in the genealogy landscape this question: How Do You Hack Genealogy? to learn more about how technology is being repurposed to expand the family history experience.
·       Product Reviews: Reviews of the latest products and services including software, mobile apps and more.
·       Resources: A listing of the best tools for every aspect of genealogy from research to sharing photos to writing and publishing your family history.

How Hack Genealogy Got Started
Hack Genealogy takes its inspiration from the Technology and Genealogy group on Facebook ( started by Susan Petersen in late 2012. As an administrator of the group, Thomas MacEntee – creator of GeneaBloggers and High-Definition Genealogy – realized that the questions asked by group members and the great content shared was reaching only the Facebook audience. Hack Genealogy is a way to get more genealogists and family historians to discuss the use of technology in a non-threatening, easy-to-understand environment.
We hope you’ll travel along with us on this journey of discovery in the genealogy and technology fields.
About Hack Genealogy

Hack Genealogy ( is a technology resource for the genealogy community with a focus on “repurposing today's technology for tomorrow's genealogy.” Thomas MacEntee is the driving force between Hack Genealogy whose goal is to provide information on emerging technology inside and outside the genealogy industry.

About Thomas MacEntee

Thomas MacEntee is a genealogy professional specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogy research and as a way to connect with others in the family history community. When he’s not busy writing blog posts, organizing the 3,000+ members of GeneaBloggers, teaching online genealogy webinars and more, Thomas MacEntee is busy in his role as “genealogy ninja.” Stealth is not easy, but he manages to get the inside track on emerging technologies and vendors as they relate to the genealogy industry. After being laid off from a 25-year career in the tech industry in 2008, Thomas has been able to “repurpose” his skill set for the genealogy community and loves to see other genealogists succeed, whether it is with their own research or building their own careers in the field.
Contact:       Thomas MacEntee
High-Definition Genealogy
1416 W. Carmen Ave., #3
Chicago, IL  60640
+1 (773) 661-3080