Thursday, July 31, 2008


I was approached today by a woman who asked if I could help her with some Greek immigrants. The contract would have been exceptional, and I could certainly have used the money!

But I turned her down.

Oh, not because I wanted to!

Before beginning any research project, I always do a preliminary search to make sure I am going to be able to give my client "something", even if just a quick reference, on their family. Unfortunately, for this client, I met only brick walls from every angle I took!

However, I did steer her to APG [Association of Professional Genealogists] to look for a specialist in immigrations. Hopefully there she will be able to get the assistance she needs.

I mention all of this because of one thing: there are some very unscrupulous persons out there who like to pose themselves as genealogists, and who really only attempt to perform the work for one reason. The money. [Believe me, the money is not that good! There are many more financially lucrative occupations out there!] These nefarious individuals take a clients money and promise them whatever the client wants to hear. And then never come through with the promised goods.

I assisted one woman recently who had spent over $5,000 just to receive her own research back. [You got it! The "genealogist", found the client's family tree posted online, copied it, word for word, and then sent it to her. No sources, bibliography, or professional report. Just the tree.] In order to prove to her that we weren't all in it for a "killing", I offered her the first 10 hours of my research project for free. Her first words after seeing those 10 hours were, "You gave me proof of everything you said!" That's me!!!

If I can't find any information for my client, I absolutely refuse to charge them. And if I find someone who has been treated wrongly by a so called genealogist, I will always offer them some research for free [not always 10-hours! usually 2-4 hours].

The point is, if you love this work, treat it like you love it! Treat your clients with the utmost respect and compassion. Chances are, they are wanting the research done because of some life altering experience [unfortunately, it seems following the death of a loved one is the most prevalent time to want to perform it, seconded only to the birth of a new child].

If you can't perform the work, tell your client so, and then steer them toward someone who can do it! Never leave them alone in their dilemma!

I always tell my clients that the door is always open, and they are free to contact me at any time. Please do the same.

If you love genealogy and it's your passion, be passionate about it!

Until next time!


The Queen's Bloomers - And Other Nonsense

The BBC reported yesterday that Queen Victoria's bloomers were auctioned off for an incredible 4500 British pounds. The incredible undies had a whopping 50" waistline! They had been kept by the Queen's Lady In Waiting ad passed down in that family until now. [They date from about 1890.] [Check it out here:

Okay folks, Levi's that sell for nearly $40,000 and now Queen's undies! What's the world coming to?

Well, yesterday the Associated Press ran with the story that Presidential Candidate Barak Obama mentioned in a speech that he "might" be related [distantly] to Wild Bill Hickock. Chris Child at the New England Historical Genealogical Society ran with it!

Within 30 minutes Chris Childs posted the following:

From the New England Historic Genealogical Society:

Boston Genealogical Society Confirms Obama and “Wild Bill” Hickok are Cousins
Obama Family lore talks of distant relationship to “Wild Bill” Hickok.

Boston, MA – July 30, 2008 – New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston has confirmed what Presidential candidate Barack Obama mentioned today in a Springfield Missouri speech.

During the speech, Senator Obama said, “If Senator McCain wants a debate about taxes in this campaign, I’m ready. Wild Bill Hickok had his first duel in the town square here. And the family legend is that he is a distant cousin of mine.”

Obama spoke of a family lore that tells of his being a distant cousin to legendary American west lawman, gambler, and gunfighter “Wild Bill” Hickok. NEHGS Staff genealogist Chris Child was quickly able to track down the information and confirm that it is indeed, true.

Obama and Hickok are sixth cousins, six-times removed. Their common ancestor is Thomas Blossom, who came to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1629 from Leiden, Holland. Obama’s 4th great-grandfather, Jacob Dunham, was 6th cousins with Wild Bill. Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann, is also a Dunham.

“The ancestry of Wild Bill Hickok was published by NEHGS some years back, which showed he descended from the Blossom family of Cape Cod, an early family written up in one of our scholarly publications,” said Child. He added, “Since we had also recently done the ancestry of Senator Obama, finding this connection was a little easier.”

[About NEHGS Founded in 1845, New England Historic Genealogical Society is the country's oldest and largest non-profit genealogical organization. Located in Boston, NEHGS collects, preserves, and interprets materials that help make accessible the histories of families in America. The NEHGS research library, one of the most respected genealogical libraries in the field, is home to millions books, journals, manuscripts, photographs, microfilms, documents, records, and artifacts that date back more than four centuries. The award-winning web site offers access to more than 110 million names in 2,400 searchable databases. NEHGS has more than 23,000 members nationally. ]

It's not so much that Obama is related to Wild Bill that amazes everyone out there. It's the SPEED with which Chris Childs was able to put together a legible and correct connection!

Hey, Chris! I've got a case right now I could use your help on! And I'm sure about a thousand of my colleagues could use a little "speedy" help as well!

Till next time, keep your lamps full of oil, and your wicks trimmed, for all those midnight forays into the stacks of genealogical digging!



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Levi's Sold! An Update

Okay folks! My Inbox is full with everyone wanting the same info!

"How much did the Levi's finally sell for?"

Hold onto your knickers boys and girls! The winning bidder is taking home a pair of 110 year old Levi's for the bargain price of.........


Pappy's garage is plum full of old doo-dads and gee-gaws. Reckon he'd miss just one if I put it on eBay? Hm.............

Till tomorrow, keep the light burning!


Update on the Levi's

As I post this, there is one hour and 5 minutes left on the Levi's auction mentioned yesterday. The current bid is $19,100.

Awe, some guys have all the luck!

Hmmm......wonder what I could get fer my pappy's ol' "Beechnut' can?

Hope you're having a great day!


Why Did I Get Started?

That's the question that's been passed among the member's of the APG mail list recently. This morning I read one of the most wonderful answers thusfar. I think it would be especially enlightening to the younger members of our group. Especially those who think of genealogy as "an old person's hobby".

And so with his kind permission, I am putting APG List Member, Craig Kilby's answer to the question "What Got Me Started". [Believe me, this is definitely worth the read!]


re: "What Got Me Started ....and When Can I Stop?"

What Got Me Started?

Most toddlers ask why the sky is blue, or why the sun shines. Not this tike. I already knew that the sun shone and that the sky was blue. That was obvious. As to WHY the sun shone, or WHY the sky was blue, I didn't care. What I wanted to know was where I came from, and how and when. (And still don't know all those answers.) I think that's what gets us all started. Natural curiosity.

My young imagination was fueled by the fact that my father was 20 years older than my mother, he had ancient aunts and uncles who would visit on occasion from some far distant place with tales of yore. The biggest thing of all--ancient photograph albums just begging for answers to a very active imagination. That my father was raised by his grandfather--an authentic civil war veteran from Culpeper, Virginia (wherever that was, but it sure sounded grand to a little boy growing up in St. Louis) and could keep all of us boys regaled for hours with his story telling....well, it didn't take much more encouragement to start seeking answers.

By age 13, I had figured out how to use the St. Louis telephone directory to find people not remotely related to me. I wrote letters to the only two other Kilbys in the phone book. One wrote back to say they were related (well, guess what?....) and one wrote back saying she was my grandfather's first cousin and had a huge Kilby chart and photograph album to show me. At the same time, I figured out how to write NARA and they sent me my great-grandfather's full civil war military service record. (Even THAT impressed my father!)

Well, this young boy could not have been more excited to learn he had a cousin who lived on Park Avenue in St. Louis with a big chart to give me. My father had a very rare occurrence of speechlessness, only saying when the letter arrived, "My God! Is she still ALIVE?." Yes, I could answer, she certainly was, and may I now please call her, father?

Now knowing how to use the phone book,, I called this woman up (long distance, and with permission of course.) My mother drove me down to the city one day soon thereafter. Park Avenue was not like the GREEN ACRES show in New York. It was a flat in a plain old mediocre high rise. I had never been to the city before, but Ava Gabore she was not.

But what did I know? I was all dressed up, , hair neatly combed, best shoes on, and met "cousin Robbie" who was ever-so- properly dressed herself. Lemonade and cookies were prepared. She had never been married, she informed us, "though she had many offers." She was a retired beautician but the best part was her talking parakeet, who was named "Pete". I may have been precocious in some ways, but I never got her joke about her name. "Pete" and "Repeat." Still isn't that funny, come to think of it.

After all the treats and niceties were over, cousin Robbie finally pulled out the 1940 Kilby Family chart made by Hubert St. Clair Kilby (father of St. Clair Kilby of Texas Instruments and silicon chips fame).

THAT was my epiphany. All drawn out on a huge chart--just waiting for me to discover it.! It was like Paul on the way to Damascus and getting hit by lightening. Or whatever that story is in the bible. It was like finding the Dead Sea Scrolls (though I did not know what the Dead Sea Scrolls were then.)

Now, here, dear lady friends, you are getting to a jolly laugh. And if you don't laugh, then you have no sense of humor or at least don't understand boys.

At the point where cousin Robbie rolls out this chart on the floor, I got down on my hands and knees to really look at this treasure. When cousin Robbie made a comment, I looked up at her and saw the most AMAZING sight of my tender years!

This pristine fine lady was wearing undergarments I could not possibly comprehend. My mouth fell open, my eyes went wide, and my mother started laughing. I must have turned 13 shades of crimson. Remember, this is around 1973 and old ladies still wore those "things." Girdles, snaps, garters, and all manner of contraptions that I could not even form into questions. I was literally agape and must have looked like the ultimate fool.

When my mother got home that day and company came over, she was still laughing hysterically, and couldn't wait to just telling all about it. (Why do parents think their children don't hear what they are saying about them?)

Oh, moving on from that. My TREASURE was a big hit the brothers and kids over that night. I was really SOME BODY, because I had FOUND this magic chart!

That started a fad in the whole neighborhood, and even my own mother became addicted to genealogy.

So, that is the long and short of "how did I get started."

Your Friend,
Craig Kilby
Lancaster, VA

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

No Post Last Night!


I must be slipping in my dodderage! What's to become of me?

Well, I hope this little tidbit will whet your appetite for continuing your genealogy, and perhaps archealogy!, dig!

I received a message from Dick Eastman this morning with this info. Apparently an old mine in Nevada was opened and a pair of Levi's from the 1890's was found! And now they are being auctioned off on eBay! [The auction is open until tomorrow, so if you're interested, I'll link the photo to the eBay site, or you can click here.]
According to the listing on eBay:
"This old pair of LEVI'S were found in a mine in the Rand Mining District, on the Mojave Desert,. California. They are covered in candlewax from the candle's the miner was using to light the tunnel he was working in. They were found with and old paper bag with the name of a mercantile store which operated between 1895 and 1898 in the town or Randsburg. Their was also a gunny sack with the initials A.P.K. and Randsburg marked on it. A.P.K. is through to be Adam P. Kuffel who was a partner in the mercantile store.

These pants have the cloth label vice the leather label. The label (pictured) indicates that they are size W34 x L33, They are copper riveted with the rivets marked L.S. & Co. S.F. They are buckle back (pictured) with suspender buttons. Buttons are silver in color and are all marked LEVI STRAUSS & CO. S.F.CAL. Tthe pants were made with just one back pocket on the right hand side.

The pants are in excellent condition with two small flaws. One hole just above where the left hand back pocket would be, which can be covered by a Quarter and one missing piece of cloth measuring approximatley 1/2 "by !/2" on the band just to the right hand side of the fly."
Oh... of only these pants could talk!
Hurry, as I post this, the bid is up to $8,700!
Have a GR8 Day!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Great Sites For Lost Heirlooms!

Received this in the email today and just had to share!

"Reunite the Family"

"All kinds of people have become interested in reuniting family treasures with the their families, and not just genealogists. Antique dealers, historians, librarians, and ordinary people have had their interest piqued with saving these orphaned belongings. These include photographs, diaries and journals, family Bibles, jewelry, and other possessions.

The Internet has provided many facilities to help reunite items with their families. Let’s explore some of the options available for placing photographs.

Dead Fred – This website, located at, is the preeminent place to search for photos, post photos, search by surname, check the “mystery” pictures, search by photographer, and examine annuals.

Look at Me – “Look at Me: A Collection of Lost Photos” can be found at and allows you to browse the pictures or post your unidentified items.

Slices of Time – This site, at, is dedicated to reuniting old photos with families. The price of each photo is $10.00, which covers the webmaster’s costs. Photographs are organized alphabetically by surname, if known. Unknown photos are grouped together, and there are categories for location, schools, and a collection of links to other sites.

Ancestor Genealogy Photo Album is located at and is a free database of vintage photographs. These are organized and searchable by surname. There are also unidentified photos and a special collection of yearbooks, etc.

Adopt a Photo is a site maintained by Anne White of Battlement Mesa, Colorado, at It provides a temporary place for lost and orphaned photographs. While not all states are represented, the pictures are grouped and browsable by state, gender, couples, children, and other criteria.

Heirlooms Lost – This site, at, “is designed to put people directly in touch with one another regarding lost family treasures.” A person can post a message concerning something they want to sell or reunite, or a person can post a message about something they are seeking. This is an interesting “broker” service. – This site, at, has more than 20,000 photos of many types. You can browse by surname or type, and you can browse through the vast collection of unidentified pictures.

eBay – The online auction site is a place where photographs of all types are posted for sale. These include Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, cabinet cards, cartes de visite, and other photographic types. (Search for these by keyword, or simply search for “vintage photograph” to see all search results.) Many people list old photographs for sale here and even include the names of the subjects, if known. at the website of the same address claims to have “9,678 surnames, 3,178 images and family ephemera to buy” as of this writing. There are interesting items ranging from Daguerreotypes to stereoview cards.

While the websites I’ve listed may or may not help you place the photos you have, they may give you some ideas. I’ll wager that you will become engrossed in searching these sites for your own family members, just as I did. You may also want to contact the site owners for suggestions about setting up your own site to help reunite photographs with their families."

Happy Sunday Evening!

No Bad Information....Bad Clients? Well......

Seven weeks ago I auctioned a 2 hour research project off on eBay. The project went to a young girl who sent payment by check, for 99 cents. I went ahead and performed the research and attempted to email it to her on three separate occasions. Each time her email was sent back to me stating that her email addy would not accept attachments. I attempted to send her messages on all three occasions requesting her to adjust her controls on her email, or to send me a different email addy. All of my messages went unanswered.

Now today, seven weeks later, I find she has left me a negative feedback on eBay.

I attempted to "keep my cool", but boy, it sure has been hard!

Instead, I left the facts for her feedback [as a seller, I make it a rule to wait until the buyer leaves feedback before I leave it for them]. She received a Positive feedback, as that's all that a seller can leave, but with the facts clearly spelled out.

Then I sent the buyer a private message and told her that I still have her information and still want to make her a satisfied client and would love to send it to her if she will only accommodate me with a good email addy.

So, we'll see if she leaves it or not.

So, where am I going with this? [Other than venting?]

We often have to deal with unreasonable clients. [This is no exception! I do wish she had attempted to even contact me rather than just leave bad or negative feedback!] And as a professional, to this client, I must smile and attempt to still make her a satisfied client.

But what if a client gives us bad information to start a research project with? Hmmm? How does one handle that?

Well, believe it or not, for most clients with unresearched family genealogy [at least in my experience], about half of the information received is faulty to some extent. This is due to family stories or myths being handed down from generation, to generation, with "tall-tales" or "myths" being added for embellishment.

You know what I mean? "My great-grandmother was a Cherokee Princess". [I hear that one ALOT! ] So what's the fault with that? Try examining Cherokee Royalty. There is no such lineage. The Cherokee nation does not have a royal hierarchy.

"My family is descended from the Mayflower." Okay. This one always cracks me up! I like to look at things "literally". This statement would literally mean that you were descended from a ship! Of course,w e all know what the client means. They believe they are descended from those who arrived on the Mayflower. While there are many, many who are, you would not believe how many have been descended from immigrants at just before the turn of the 20th century or at the early years of the 20th century.

"My family is descended from "this or that" famous person." [I hear this whether or not the surnames are the same!] Well, believe it or not, if there's someone famous attached to your family tree, it doesn't mean you're descended from them! Even if we can attach them somewhere in your tree!!! If we can say your great-great-grand [mother/father] was such and such famous person, then you are descended from them. If not, sorry. You are not descended from them!

However, those "famous" tales or myths or family legends are almost always steeped in some kind of truth. So, you were told your great-great-grandmother was a Cherokee Princess. I might discover that she was indeed an Indian. Maybe not a Cherokee, but of some or all Indian blood.

Descended from a famous person? Well, most likely not. However, maybe someone connected with your family tree was, or they were friends with, or partnered with, etc. someone who was famous.

A Mayflower descendant? But your family history can't be traced back any further than there immigration to Plymouth, Mass. in 1880? Hey! What's wrong with that? Not a thing! So, we find this out, we go even further and find out where they immigrated from. Your family history is only beginning to form!!!

There is no BAD information! As a genealogist I look at all information a client sends me, and I attempt to find the strengths and weakness of each piece of information I am given.

Bad clients? Well, we'll let that one rest for yet another day! I've vented enough for this one!

Till tomorrow!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Naming our Children

Well, a bit of a stomach virus has kept me down for the past couple of days, and I haven't been able to tackle this board for a bit, so I hope our many readers have not been too upset with me!

In lieu of trying to come up with something original, let me praise those who have the heart and desire to name their children after other family members.

As most everyone knows, I am the mother of five grown children. When I was married to the children's father, [many, many moons ago!], I was in an abusive relationship and could not follow my hearts desire which was to name my children after those individuals whom I most admired and loved. Of course, my children have all turned out fine, regardless.

But I was reminded this week of those desires when my cousin's granddaughter had a newborn daughter and named the newborn after another relative. Little Katie Jane is named after my cousin Frank's daughter, Katherine ["Kate"] and after my cousin, "Jane". Little Katie Jane is going to be a strong and formidable woman! She can't help but be so with names after strong strong women, who have put their faith in a God they serve, and a family they love more than life! And she's such a cutie, as you can tell from her picture! [She's going to break the boys hearts one day!]

I did want to remind everyone that there is a LONG tradition regarding the naming of one's children after their relatives.

In the 1800's, boys were named first after the paternal grandfather, second after the maternal grandfather, and then after the father. Subsequent sons were named after brothers or uncles. Daughters also were often named after paternal grandmother first, then maternal, and then mother, followed by sisters and then aunts.

It was not uncommon for a girl to be given a male ancestors name. Or a close version of it: Davida for David; Stefan or Stephanie for Steven/Stephen, etc. Johnnie for John. Clark, Michel, and many others.

Usually, during the 1800's we are able to figure out who most, if not all, of a family's children were named for.

Name a child after someone else is a sign of reverence and respect.

It's a tradition that I personally think should be revived.

I personally would like to see a son named, George Thomas Abraham Theodore _______[insert last name here]. Especially during this election year! All past president's names. All with qualities we should all aspire for!

Have a GREAT weekend!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Be Prepared

On July 20th Sharon Tate Moody of the "Tampa Tribune" wrote a wonderful article that will certainly help many professional, as well as non-professional, genealogists better prepare themselves for disaster and their precious files.

Sharon states that she had grown comfortable with the idea that everything she really needed to preserve was on her computer. Thus, in the state of emergency her spouse would grab the dog as he ran to the car; she would grab her computer. After viewing the devastation in Iowa and now with the coming hurricane season in Florida, Sharon took a different look at things. No one wants to see the kind of loss that resulted in Iowa with both personal and professional treasures!

Like most of us, Sharon states she has a "zillion" paper files and notebooks full of old correspondence, copies of original documents, journals, etc. Looking at these with new eyes she has decided there are those things among them that she could never replace, and has now devised a new strategy should she have to evacuate prior to a hurricane or other disaster.

Sharon moved all of her files from metal file cabinets into plastic filing boxes. These are inexpensive, readily available, and easy to grab and toss into the car trunk! She even devised a color coding system, whereby she utilized 2 different colored file boxes: one color of filing boxes wold be priority (first into the car) while the other color would be left behind to weather the disaster.

Beyond this, she offered these suggestions for anyone fortunate enough to have original letters, journals, old newspaper clippings, deeds and all family Bibles. THEY NEED TO BE STORED CORRECTLY AT ALL TIMES!

Never store these items in a metal file cabinet. Original documents should be stored flat, away from sunlight or fluorescent lighting. Never use rubber bands, staples or other metal fasteners on these documents [the rubber bands will harden and bond to paper and some fasteners will rust].

Photographs should be kept free from sulfur, acids and peroxides. They should be kept in acid-free folders or boxes. Daguerreotypes and ambrotypes should be stored in their original cases or frames. When "disaster looms" put these all in the large plastic storage bins for quick removal!
You can find archival storage products, most likely, in local office supply stores, but the absolute best products are available through national distributors such as Archival Products at or Hollinger Corporation at

You can find Rubbermaid's Roughneck file boxes available at most local office supply stores. I know I have personally purchased mine at my local Wal-Mart store. The one pictured above was found at on Office World, and retails for $21.99. Not a bad investment! It also features extra storage in the lid for notebooks or flat documents.

Be prepared for any disaster with your precious research! Know what you will take with you. Know what you will leave and how you will leave it to weather out any storm.

Oh, and by the way, my doggie goes to the car and then comes my files! No man [or pet] left behind!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Planning Your Next Research Trip

Planning successful research trip has always, and should always be, a top priority for any genealogist. With the rising cost of fuel, those unplanned trips can cost you a significant amount in lost revenue! Your ability to plan well can become one of your most significant skills. Below we list tips to make your next research trip a successful one.

First, you must realize that research is an ever-going cycle of planning, collecting, organizing, analyzing, reporting and then planning yet again. Each research trip will build upon the past work accomplished and sets the stage for work yet to be performed.

1: Focus on the problem you wish to solve.
You need to be answer the following questions:
* "Who is the person I'm researching?"
* "What do I already know about the person?"
* "What research can I perform in advance?"
You need to ask these questions before planning your trip. if you can't any of them, then you
aren't ready for the trip. When you CAN answer them all, you will be a dream patron to
librarians and archivists everywhere!

NOTE: I never go with only one problem or one person to research! This way if what I am
looking for is not available, I can always revert to another problem or person and the trip
will not have been a waste!

2: Plan where you will go to perform your research. Ask yourself if you really need to travel
to perform the research. You might be able to borrow microfilm through an interlibrary
loan, or a book the same way. You might be able to access the files or texts or index online!

3: Plan what to take carefully. I try to be minimalistic, but it seems I am forever carrying a
briefcase full of what I think I need! Bring only the files that relate to the case[s] you are
researching. If you can carry it in your laptop, so much the better! [Caution: if you are
relying on your genealogy program, make sure you have listed sources, as well as their
Make sure you know the institutions rules or special conditions/requirements for access to
the records you wish to view. Make sure you have a picture ID, pencils, erasers, a loose-leaf
binder with notepaper, blank labels [put on the back of photo copies with the sources
Since almost no institution allows food or drink, you may want to consider carrying a tin of
mints, or a roll of lifesavers [due to the low humidity level, you may become very dry and
thirsty [this will help! and if you get a tickle, it's a great way to keep from coughing!]

4: Bring forms to assist you. Use a research log. [These can be found for free to download at]

5: Once you arrive at the facility, take a few minutes to orient yourself to the area: where the
restrooms are located; coffee shop, copiers, film readers, computers, etc.

6: Once you have finished your research, organize your materials: research logs, forms, copies,
and any other materials you have garnered. Chronology tables can be helpful in organizing
your materials, it may prevent such silly misinformation as say a mother's death date
preceding the birth of her only child! [Yep! One of my pet peeves in online and printed data!]

7: Always analyze the material you gathered from your trip.

8: Write a research report summarizing your trip. This step is often overlooked, but it is important for your own research, not just for your client!


You are now ready to plan your next trip! And the cycle starts over once more.

For further information you can check out the following:

"Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians", edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Genealogical Pub. Co., 2007)

"Managing a Genealogical Project" by William Dollarhide (Genealogical Pub. Co., 2001)

"Getting the Most Mileage from Genealogical Research Trips" by James W. Warren and Paula Stuart Warren (Warren Research & Publishing, 1998)

Hope you're having a productive and fruitful week!

Until tomorrow,
The Mountain Genealogist

Monday, July 21, 2008

American Revolution Documents

As any good genealogist will tell you, there's really only one major place to go for those Revolution documents: NARA. The National Archives and Records Administration.

Today, while searching through the archives I found an ancestor for my client. The really great thing about this client is that they had virtually no information regarding their family prior to 1928. In tracking backwards I came to their ancestor who had served in the Pennsylvania Militia during the Revolution.

This person started out as a Lieutenant [and Adjutant]. Having served only 2 months he was captured by the British and held at a British compound on Long Island for over 3 years. On his release he was promoted to Brigade Major.

From no information, to having a real-life American Revolution hero! Now, that's exciting to me!

In copying the documents, [there's over 100 of them!] I was amazed at the vast array of information we could determine on this early American soldier.

He was paid $148.1/3 for his service just a few weeks before his capture. It was interesting to note that he was not paid by the military, but by a local physician who then applied for reimbursement of the amount after the war. [I am still a bit perplexed by that 1/3rd dollar! Hmmm???]

He was present at only one Muster that I could find. For the remaining he was listed as a Prisoner of War. His whereabouts always known. And complete reports on the conditions of the officers who were being held with this man were presented from the British to the Patriot's on a regular basis.

Clothing issued prior to his being taken as a Prisoner of War was listed. Even his meal rations were at one point listed.

It isn't enough to know that our ancestors served during the American Revolution, or to know what company or brigade, etc. that they served with. It isn't even enough to know who they served under. I like to uncover what they did, how they did it, where they did it.

Before I knew what had happened today, Major John Harper had come to life for me. A man who died 174 years ago. Living and breathing before me. Worn and weary by battle. Imprisoned by the enemy. And finally freed. He went home, married the girl of his dreams. They moved to North Carolina and eventually into Kentucky. They raised a rather large family. And they became prominent citizens of the county they resided in.

Never take the records you uncover for granted. For within their tattered, torn, smeared, faded pages, lie the lives of some of the most endeared individuals who ever walked upon this earth; our ancestors.

Until tomorrow,

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What's To Become Of It?

This morning on the APG mailing list, a question was asked as to what is to become of our research when we have passed from this life?

One researcher, in particular, has a client in Israel whose uncle passed away. The uncle was the family historian and had extensive files, but had never begun a real summarization, nor uploaded a gedcom to the Jewish Gen. sites, etc. So, his data is pretty much raw, and will need to not only be organized, but a summarization provided as well. The researcher said the problem is that the computer files are in Israel, while the raw data [documents] are in the U.S. The good news is that the raw data is also in the same city as her son, so when she visits from Israel in the fall, she will be able to pick it up then and work on it.

This is all going to be a massive expense for the family in order to preserve the work the uncle had already done! Still, they did not want his work to have been in vain or lost for future generations, and so they are more than willing to cover the expense.

The question this all poses is: "What is to become of our own research when we are gone?"

My personal solution follows. While it may not be what everyone would choose to do, I feel it is the right solution for my research.

MY PERSONAL RESEARCH: My personal research is to be downloaded into a gedcom, complete with notes, and all of my raw data [documents; photos; etc.] are to be donated to our local historical society. I am blessed in that my local historical society is also in the same county where 80% of my personal research [which is vast] takes place! My family was among the earliest settlers in the area, and as such, the historical society is very interested in our material. A copy of the gedcom will also be donated to another historical society where most of the remaining 20% of my research takes place. The historical society here has the funds and capabilities to keep all gedcom files updated in the latest formats. Those donated a few years ago on floppy disks are now safely stored on CD's. These are also safely copied and the master copies are preserved in case of damage to one of the copies. Raw documents are kept according to collections. So they will all be kept together, archivally safe.

MY GENEALOGY BUSINESS RESEARCH: For clients who retain the copyright to their material, I have all of their files shredded after 12 months. This allows the client to retain their degree of anonymity. As well as protect their identity. However, I do ask most clients to sign a release so that I can use the work I performed for publications, lectures, etc. For those files, they will also be left to my local historical society. They will be catalogued under the general family name of the research, but will be placed with my collection, listed as professional research. As such, should someone later wish to find research that was published under my name, they would be able to locate it in the historical society.

Again, while this solution may not work for everyone, I am comfortable with it.

Some researchers have children, or grandchildren, to whom they are able to leave their research. While I have five children, and numerous grandchildren [so far], I don't have anyone who is interested in genealogy, at least not with the passion that I carry And so I would choose to leave it to the historical society.

Others, might want to leave it to their children regardless of the child's interest in genealogy. I want to make sure the public can have access to my work.

You might also check with your local library, or county, state museum or historical society. Most of these have the capabilities, and the desires, to obtain well written and documented familial research.

Preserve the work you have performed. Protect it for the future generations!


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mega Genealogy Portal Available!

I received the following in an email this morning. What a treasure trove! I share it with you here.


Professional worldwide humanities and social sciences mega portal,connected directly to numerously related sub-sets, with billions ofprimary or secondary database family history and genealogy records.The most comprehensive Genealogy and Family History online Handbook,How-To-Guide and Manual.
SEARCH: Family Genealogy and History Internet Education Directory

Academic Education Learning Resources: Educators

Accelerated Teacher Resources

Alphabetic History of Civilization:Ancient and Modern Genealogies

Ancestor Roots Information

Archives and Knowledge Management

Bible: The BOOK [Stick] of JUDAH

Books - Publications: Genealogical Materials

California State Information

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:Mormon Family History and Genealogy Search -LDS Family History Centers and Temples

City Of Davis and Yolo County, CaliforniaBrooks - Capay - Clarksburg - Davis (El Macero) - DunniganEsparto - Guinda - Knights Landing - Madison - RumseyWest Sacramento (Broderick - Bryte/River Bank - Southport)Winters - Woodland - Yolo - Zamora

Computer - Internet - Software: Genealogy Programs Support

Documentation and Publications:Professional Genealogical Sources

English and Literature - Art, Dance, Music and Theater

Family History - Genealogy Articlesin the Ensign and New Era Magazines

Foreign Languages: Translations and Translators

Genealogy Webmaster - Webmasters

History and Social How Do I Begin To Document and FileFamily History? An Introduction.

Libraries and Museums: Reference Shelffor The Genealogist and Family Historian

Living Family and Fun Portal

The Lord Jesus Christ, Jews, The Houseof Joseph, Gentiles and Heathens [Introduction]

Math (Mathematics)

Medical and Health: Genetics, Genealogy and Melvyl System - University of California:Worldwide Genealogy and Family History Research

News, Media and Travel

Professional Library Sources

Reference and Homework Help

Regional Genealogy and Local History Research:Local History and Genealogy Portals to the Reunions: Family, Friends and Military

Schools - Colleges - Universities: Alumni and Genealogy Education

Science, Technology and How Things Work

Surname Newsgroups: Blogs, Genealogy Newsletters and Periodicals

Tinney - Green(e) / Baker - Quibell Family Organization Newsletter

Top Search Engines and Directories: Genealogyand Family History Internet Portals and Browsers

University of California at Davis - UCDGenealogy, Family and Local History Research

What's New in Family History, Genealogy & Local History Books?

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Who Can Find People?

World Ancestry - Roots In Antiquity:Ancient To Modern Genealogy and Family History

Worldwide Postal Information (General):[also] Tinney Home Pages, Email & Snail Mail

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Seize From Every Record Its Unique Genealogy Evidence

Once more, Arlene Eakle has outdone herself!

Arlene is a well-known Virginia genealogist, historian and lecturer.

In yesterdays feed Arlene wrote a most inspiring work regarding the title above.

"Seize from every record its unique genealogy evidence" is her advice. She goes on to tell us to combine all of our gleanings together to create as complete a picture as possible regarding each person we research. She states "This is a genealogy axiom."

Arlene states that by doing these simple things we can go on to trace even difficult to find ancestors. Arlene should know! She has a remarkable 96% success rate!!

One of her many tips is that when the money runs out for a research project, she keeps a special notebook and takes it with her everywhere she goes. If she sees data that might break the line open, she goes ahead and retrieves it for another day. How wonderful! So many of us end a project, and it literally "ends". She later shares it with the client.

Arlene ends by stating: "...your ancestors can also be identified if you SEIZE FROM EVERY RECORD ITS UNIQUE GENEALOGY EVIDENCE and then re-combine that evidence to prove each person. It is not in copying the information that we err. The difficult step is combining the facts to develop the family history."

How true and how wise Arlene! We thank you for your hard work and efforts in keeping us educated!


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

File Photos

I've often been asked where I find some of my file photos. Naturally, most have been sent to me by family or friends of the family. These have allowed me to amass a rather large photo collection of family members and of graves.

But there are four places that I frequent quite often that I'd like to share with you. All on the World Wide Web!

One of my favorite places to just browse is Dead Fred. This is a wonderful archive of old portraits and photographs. Many are unidentified. But most are listed by the subjects name. You are also invited to post your own old photos there as well to share with others.

Another good site is Family Old Photos It is quite similar to the Dead Fred site.

My favorite site to locate graves is at Find-A-Grave Here you will find "Millions" of graves recorded. Many with photographs of the grave and many with photographs of the deceased individual. Excellent! You can search by the individual's name, or the cemetery name if you know it.

And the last one I use is Interment This site is great for the newly deceased as it also posts obituaries.

All four are sites that I highly recommend and that I utilize on an almost daily basis.

Add these to your Favorites!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Use Only Verifiable Sources

There are rumors and reports running around, yet again, of the illegitimacy of Abraham Lincoln [as if that should really matter at this dateand time!]. These rumors are not new, although some would have you believe they are. They are unsourced and have no proof of their claims.

The lesson to learn from these unsourced reports is simple.

When you are adding information to your files, be sure to use verifiable data sources. Not only does your source have to be from an area where others can access it, but it also must be from a source that has a quality that not only convinces others who are reading your research, but will convince other researchers.

He said/ she said will not provide proof of anything in your research project! Make sure you provide the proof that is totally researchable and totally convincing!

Until next time!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Citing Websites as Sources

I have seldom cited websites for sources, but there are occasions where original material is found on a website and you must be sure to cite these sources appropriately.

Website sources must be treated the same as you would a book.

The name for the particular page is capitalized and written in italics within quotation marks, just as you would a book source. The website address is listed just as you would a publisher.

Be sure to give the author credit if he/she is known.

Any quotes from the cite must also be placed in italics and within quotation marks.

These are just the basic guidelines for citing websites as sources.

As always, give credit where credit is due!

Till next time!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Little Professionalism...Please!

Ok. So today I learned that I don't have the most business savvy in our household. Ugh!

I was putting together a report I did for a client. This client had purchased 40 hours of research. What I came to realize when I was tallying up the total hours involved in this "40-hour" project was that I had actually performed a little over 68 hours of research!!!

Yeah, I got a little carried away and was so involved in this project! I mean, this was practically virgin territory! There were alot of published genealogies on this family, but none of them listed any sources! On top of that, as I began doing the research, there were numerous errors on these published trees! The whole time I was photocopying documents and printing off census records, military records, and death certificates, I kept saying aloud "Where's the professionalism in any of this? Come on people!"

Then husband says, "Come on, Cyndi! Where's the professionalism! You're giving away over 28 hours of your work!"

Yeah, I know, that's not business savvy. Sure can't make a living doing that! Right?

But I'm not complaining. Nor am I browbeating myself. And neither is dear old hubby.


Because for me, this isn't just my business. This is my PASSION.

I couldn't be doing anything that is making me more happy than this!

[Well, nothing that is except some rocky road and a good love story on the tube!]

Hope you're having a GREAT weekend!


Friday, July 11, 2008

Research In the Computer Age

While most of us still utilize the historical socieites, courthouses and libraries that our previous generations of genealogists did, we have also come to rely heavily upon the digital age to make our research, and our businesses, much easier to do.

On the 7th of July, DIck Eastman, who authors, "Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter" [EOGN] wrote a wonderful article that I am going to share here, with his permission, regarding the use of the Internet for research. While there are many pro's [and much discussion and dissension among the ranks about research via the Internet, I think Dick pretty much covers my own opinion[s] on the matter. Thanks Dick! - cbh

"July 07, 2008
The Rising Cost of Travel Versus Online Research
A newsletter reader asked an interesting question this week. Here is an extract from a longer message:
As the economy continues to worsen and gas prices rise exponentially, I am curious to know how this will affect services such as,,, and others. Will these companies raise their prices in relation to other increases? Or will they maintain or possibly lower prices to keep subscribers? In tough times, leisure activities are among the first to suffer.
I am not sure that my crystal ball is any clearer than anyone else's. However, a few things do seem obvious to me.
I suspect the rising price of gas will be good for the online sites that offer images of original records, such as,,,, and others. As prices continue to rise for trips to libraries and other repositories, many people will turn to cheaper, online access whenever possible.
Let's compare online research expenses versus "in-person" research:
Prices will vary widely, depending upon where you live in relation to the repositories you wish to visit. I'll start off with my own example.
I live 35 miles outside a major city and am fortunate to have several major genealogy libraries, repositories, and archives within convenient driving distance of my home. Assuming gas mileage of 20 to 25 miles per gallon and gas prices of $4.00 to $4.50 for each gallon, it now costs me a minimum of $12.00 or more to visit the nearest such repositories that are about 35 miles away (that is obviously a 70-mile round trip, requiring three or more gallons of gasoline). Of course, that is for gasoline alone.
Next, add in tolls and parking. A round trip into the city from my home by the most convenient route now costs $7.50 in round-trip tolls. In most East Coast cities, parking fees start at $20 and go up. In fact, they go up quickly. It is not unusual to pay $30 or more per day for parking at the repositories I visit. Some of these repositories also charge admission fees as well as photocopying fees.
A cheaper method is public transportation to the city. However, this can be a false economy. A trip by commuter train costs me a couple of dollars in gas to drive to the train station, $4 for parking at the train station (a bargain in this area), and $12 for a round-trip ticket. I have to be at the train station by 7:00 AM or so in order to find a parking spot as the parking lot is usually full by 7:15 AM. The drawback is that the trip takes three times as long as an automobile trip, cutting into the research time available.
Even worse, one of the major repositories that I go to is more than a one-and-a-half mile walk from the nearest public transportation. That's a long walk in bad weather! The closest regional library of the National Archives and Records Administration is even further from public transportation. I always drive there.
I now figure that a single trip to any of the nearby “free” genealogy repositories costs me a minimum of $40 to $60, counting gas, parking fees, and tolls.
My statistics ignore automobile depreciation, repairs, tires, insurance, and similar expenses. These expenses are difficult to calculate on a per-mile basis but nonetheless are real expenses. Please consider my calculations to be the minimum expenses; most of us will pay more than this for each trip.
Of course, I am lucky to live within 35 miles of several major research facilities. If they have information about my ancestors, I am fortunate enough to pay "only" $40 to $60 for a single trip.
Many people live in rural areas or do not have nearby resources with information about ancestors who lived in another part of the country. Many genealogists have to pay much, much more than my $40 to $60 expenses. I suspect they envy those of us who are blessed with nearby, first-class research facilities.
If I need to travel to a distant state archives or local historical society or other repositories near the homes of my ancestors, prices mushroom quickly. Regardless of the mode of transportation, an overnight or longer trip to a distant repository can cost hundreds of dollars.
In comparison, the online services charge rather small fees for access. charges $7.95 a month for unlimited access. charges $9.95/month (for the U.S. Collection) or $14.95/month (for the World Collection) for unlimited access. Even's comparatively high prices of $12.95/month to $19.95/month (for the U.S. Deluxe Membership) or $24.95/month to $29.95/month (for the World Deluxe Membership) seem much cheaper than an in-person visit. If the online service has the record you seek, the savings can be enormous.
The key phase is "If the online service has the record you seek..." While these online services now have millions of records available, that is still a tiny percentage of all records available on paper or on microfilm. To be sure, the most popular records are now available online: U.S. census records, U.K. census records, some Canadian census records, U.S. Revolutionary War pension applications, Social Security Death Index, and more. However, if you seek a land record from Ohio or a marriage record from Vermont, you probably will not find it online.
I frequently make presentations to genealogy societies and to conventions. In one of my talks, I once stated that I estimated that fewer than 2% of all records of genealogy interest were available online. A nationally-known genealogy expert in the audience later disagreed with my assessment. Her estimate was that fewer than 0.02% of all records of genealogy interest are available online. Admittedly, neither of us has any documented statistics to back up our estimates.
Regardless of the precise number, it is obvious that the online sites only scratch the surface of available information. Nonetheless, if the record you seek is available online, a search of a commercial site can save hundreds of dollars in travel expenses. Even better, online searches often produce "hits" for records you didn't even consider or perhaps didn't even know about. Who knew that your great-great-grandfather filed a claim for losses suffered in the Civil War? A search of his name on the various online sites might produce results that you never dreamed of.
My correspondent asked, "Will these companies raise their prices in relation to other increases? Or will they maintain or possibly lower prices to keep subscribers?"
My belief is that the prices of the inexpensive services will remain about the same while the more expensive service(s) will be forced to drop prices, due to competitive pressures. The history of the online world has been one of constantly lowered pricing, and I do not see that trend changing. In fact, disk storage space is now much cheaper than it was only a few years ago. Web servers, high-speed Internet connectivity, and other expenses have remained about the same or have slowly come down. The one big expense is labor, and even that has been trimmed substantially in the past few years. Today's online services are leaner with lower corporate headcounts than those of a few years ago.
The long-term outlook for genealogists is great: more and more information is becoming available online every day. As this mass of available information increases, the need for expensive travel to view records in person is reduced.
I am confident that the online services will provide much cheaper access than any other available method. That is already true today, and the differences will increase with each passing year.
Posted by Dick Eastman on July 07, 2008 "

Let us know what you think!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What da name???

I’ve been working on a rather interesting case today.

I’ve been looking for a family through Census and tax records, and having very little luck. That is until I began looking at some of the trees posted online regarding this family.

Hmm….something just didn’t click for me. Dates were just a little bit skewed from one tree to the next. Yet, all of the family members were staying the same. So, I was curious about the variances. Only a few of the trees sported even a single source. Although some did indicate they had 2 to 3 sources.

Okay! Well, as I began to take a look at the sources, the truth began to dawn on me! Someone had at one time or another merged 2 entirely different people, with the same name, born in the same state, within just 2 years of each other, into the same tree. Hmmm.

This is one of my many pet peeves in genealogy. Merging trees to me is a HUGE no-no!!!

Merging your files or gedcom with someone else’s without first proving their files are accurate is tantamount to genealogical suicide! Your information may become skewed and so irreparable that you will have to start over from scratch on your entire file!

Everyone knows my thoughts on this subject. “If you can’t prove it, then don’t put it in!”

Well, once I figured out that I was looking at 2 separate individuals, I decided to take one of the known children and begin to trace backwards into the mess. And don’t you know it? I went back two decades earlier than any of the other individuals had!

What did I find?

I found that the family had, over time, changed the spelling of its name. Changing the first letter into another, and totally changing the name. I was able to prove this with the names of parent’s and children, who were known, and their birth dates. Eventually the entire family has over the years changed their name to this “new” spelling, and the old has totally been forgotten.

But the lesson I’d like for all of you to learn is that you must never, never take someone else’s information at face value!

Even when I am looking at an index, or a record that someone else has transcribed, and even if they are the most reputable of genealogists, I do not take the information for granted! I still take the time, be it ever so long or short to do, and prove that it is indeed correct. This way, I know that the records I have are completely accurate.

It was a lesson hard learned when I had traced my own great-great-grandfather back six more generations. I was so proud of myself! And at the time, I was such a novice still. I had taken the information my own grandfather had left us regarding his own grandfather. Horror of horrors when I found a death record of my great-grandfather and it listed another man’s first name for his father! Surely it was a mistake! But as I began to collect that generation’s death records, they all had the same name for their father!

And so I began to start over. And when I did, I found that those six generations were totally not linked to my family! I had merged information and trees, and the result was that I ended up having to totally pull an entire branch from my tree and start over. I was devastated.

A lesson worth learning however!!! I learned to never trust any information until I have proven it!

I wish you the best in finding the branches of your family tree, wherever it leads you; however it is spelled!

God Bless!

Do The Math!

One of my favorite genealogists and speakers is Arlene Eakle. Arlene puts out a blogfeed that is usually out of this world! And today's was no exception!

Today Arlene told about the May 9th speech of Senator Barak Obama that is now infamous; this is the speech in which he announced to Beaverton, OR that he had now been in "...57 states. I think one left to go."

Oh my! Senator Obama your gaffe is showing!

Arlene then brings up my favorite pet peeve [believe me, my hubby knows when I am poring over some other genealogists research and he hears me "snort" that I have located another "gaffe"]. I'm talking about the bad math.

Come on people! How hard is it to drag out the ol' calculator? Or as Arlene points out, "Calculators are easy to come by and every cell phone, ipod, etc. has a built in calculator."

Just this week I have been researching a particular family from Illinois that has some rather extensive research performed. This tree has been published by multiple individuals. MULTIPLE!!! And every single one of these researched trees has one particular man listed who was born a year after he died!!! Yeah, you can bet I'm still snorting over that one!

Arlene gives us four math ideas that can really be a death trap for the genealogist, and are well worth repeating here for your own improvement:

Fuzzy math: Arlene states that this is when you estimate a birth date from the age found in a census record. We've all done that at some point, right? And we've all found out at a later point that the particular date of birth found in one census record can vary from census record to census record. I recently did a report on a gentleman who married a woman twenty years his junior. His marriage record jives with his death record. However, each of the census records in between the marriage and death [and there were 4] varied his age from only a year older than her to the last showing him as forty years older! [He had "aged" 60 years between their first married census record to their last, in only 40 years!] Fuzzy math can give you an idea of a persons age; but I wouldn't rely too heavily on it for proof!

Bogus math: Arlene says that this is the math that occurs when you have an exact birth date for the first child, and you adjust the estimated birthday of the mother to match it. Oh, my! Such a big no, no! I have seen reports on families where the mother would have been 10 years old when she died! Or 150 years old! Let's use a little "common" sense folks! If it doesn't fit, don't try to make it fit!!!

Destructive math: This occurs when a death date is taken from a tombstone or a will for the wrong man in the wrong generation. Hey, this one is quite easy to goof with! In my own family tree, I have 4 generations of William M.'s. On top of that, many of the other sons named their own son after a William M. All of whom lived in a single county. I believe at one point, there were seven of these William M.'s all living in the county at the same time. Multiple generations with this particular moniker! We have to be so careful to make sure we have the correct person to fit in our research. If you take down the information, and it doesn't jive with the known facts, then it probably is not the correct person you are looking for. Look, if you're looking for John Smith's death date, and you've already got his correct birth date, from a proven source, [his birth was registered in Richmond, Virginia in 1832 - for instance], but you visit the cemetery that you think he is buried at, you discover his tombstone, and it says he died "1956", my friend, you have NOT discovered your John Smith's grave! Come on!! 124 years old! No, again we must go back to the "common sense" issue!

Lastly Arlene talks about Speculative math: this is when you match the age of the wife at first marriage to the actual date stated in the marriage records - especially where the wife carries a common first name - such as Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah, etc. Arlene states, [and I have found this to be true] that a surprising number of men choose a second wife with same given name as the first! Also, a surprising number of men chose a second wife that was an older or younger sister of the first! Sometimes even a third wife has the same given name or same surname! You must not do this gaffe: List the wife's date of birth as the same date they were married on! At least not in this country, newborn babies are not, were not, wed to their spouse! And certainly didn't begin bearing their children when they were only a year old! Again, if it doesn't match up with PROVEN sources, it probably isn't so!

If you insist on recording a "gaffe" then you must also insist upon your own professionalism to show where that error is wrong. I am sure that I have let some of these errors get through and past my research, but when they are noted, and I cannot find proof I will refuse to list them as notable in my research. Let me give you an example:

I might have a client who tells me that their grandpa was born in 1834 and died in 1833. Hmm! I tell myself this is absolutely impossible. But what do I do if I cannot provide proof of the correct date for either event? And I know the client has truly believed that their dates are correct. [Oh, it was in Mama's Bible or some such thing.] Well, I don't put the information in my proven data. [If you use a genealogy program, I don't put it into my birth or death date data areas]. Instead, I make a note under my notations that the client supplied me with the birth date of 1834 and the death date of 1833. This being a physical impossibility, I could not include it as proven data. However, I located marriage records indicating that a possible birth year was 1777. And there were no further Census records beyond 1830. Therefore we can assume he was born about 1777 as his marriage records indicated, and died after the 1830 Census, yet before the 1840, making the death year of 1833 given by the client as plausible but not proven.

Arlene states something quite similar: "State the date you have. Identify the record or source which supplied the date. Do not adjust or shrink to fit or push the 'make it fit button' on your computer. Let the records stand with their evidence. Then in a separate paragraph describe your own interpretation of the evidence based on all of the records you have researched. Include the math."

Arlene speaks so eloquently: "Obama cannot visit 57 states, with one more to go - there are only 50 to begin with." Do the math!

Your Mountain Genealogists

Monday, July 7, 2008

No Oklahoma Record????

Imagine our surprise when in one daily newsletter we received today, a well-known genealogist [whose name we will not mention] reported that there are no 1900 Census records for Oklahoma.

This prominent, professional genealogist, who has been practicing for decades, reported that she had never seen a 1900 Oklahoma Census.

Was she serious? or was she just being facetious?

Well, friends, there IS Census records for 1900 for the area now known as Oklahoma. You will find it listed as either "Oklahoma Territory" or"Indian Territory".

I tend to believe the newsletter I read this morning was playing at sarcasm rather than being serious.

However, I did receive about a dozen followup emails asking me if the writer had been serious or not.

Come on folks! A little common sense please!!!

Keep it together until next time!


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Using Posted Family Trees For Resources

I was recently asked the question if it was ethical for a genealogist to use a publicly posted tree for resource information when searching for a family's roots.

Well, of course it is not ethically correct to use what someone else has researched and claim as your own. I would never do such a thing. But....

What I have done on many occasions is use that information I have found in a publicly posted or printed family tree to bridge a gap in my own research. Okay, so here I am at a point that I can't find any further research on Great-great-great-grandpa Smith. I have no idea where to go to from here. So what do I do?

I search through the millions of posted and printed family trees at our resources. If I locate him, then I will record on paper his ancestry according to that tree. [You will be surprised that 99% of family trees posted have no resources listed, they are totally unsourced]. I DO NOT add them into the working tree. This is all done in my notepaper by hand at this point.

Next, I will begin to attempt to disprove that this next generation belongs to this family. Yes, you read that right. I first attempt to DISPROVE the connection. When I find that I can disprove them, I know they don't belong here and can scratch them from my notepaper and they don't even get a second glance.

However, if I have worked on them diligently and find that I cannot disprove them, then I will attempt to PROVE their connection. This can sometimes take days or weeks, as any genealogist will tell you. Providing the proof is the ONLY way you can add someone to a working tree.

Once I have proven them into the tree, then I will give credit where credit is due. I give the person who published the tree all the credit for finding the individual and putting them in their tree. If they have the tree posted online, give all of the known information about the publisher as possible for the source of the information. Let's say John Doe published the "Doe Family Tree" on, then I will put the source as "The Doe Family Tree" and John Doe's user name "jdoe1967" as the publisher, and then list the website page where it is found. [Elizabeth Shown Mills has an excellent series of books out about documenting sources!]

Next, I will put all of the information that I have found on the individual, as well as all of the sources for that information [birth, death records, marriage records, tax rolls, will, land grants, military records, etc.]. However, I NEVER use just the information from someones posted tree.

If I can't provide proof that someone belongs in a tree, then I just won't add them to it.

I also never upload a gedcom into my working or saved tree. I just don't find it ethical. Merging all of the information from someone elses work just doesn't quite jive with me. [Also, there's the fact that so many people never source their information, or I find virtually too many mistakes to make it worthwhile.]

Yes, I'm a picky genealogist. I want my work to be totally ME. When a client purchases MY RESEARCH I want them to know that there is no other research out there exactly like mine. I give my research efforts my best and undivided attention.

I don't believe there has ever been a client yet who has not received 125% effort [or better!] on my part. I don't say that to brag, I say it because I want every client to find complete satisfaction in my work.

So, to get back to the original question: Is it ethical to use posted or printed family trees when performing research? My answer has to be both yes and no! Give credit where credit is due. And never take a posted or printed family tree to be without error. Disprove and prove before ever using the information from another tree. And if you do use the information, provide excellent documentation giving the poster or publisher all the credit for putting that individual where they belong on the tree. Lastly, add you own proof as further documentation that you have proven that individuals rightful place in the genealogy branch.

Keep the great questions coming! You can email me at: or at our Mountain Genealogists email at:

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

On Today's Family Tree Newsletter, Diane Haddad writes about finding the boyhood home of George Washington. She also mentions that archaeologists and historians have been unable to locate any signs of the fabled cherry tree that good ol' George was said to have chopped down as a boy. This all goes back to our blog post of a few days ago when we discussed family myths and legends versus fact.

Oh the stories can be fun, can't they? We can get ourselves all excited because great-grandpa told our grandpa that his great-grandpa served in the American Revolution with General Washington or rode with Paul Revere! Or whatever! All of our families have these stories of some long ago moment of fame.

When it comes to proving these moments however, many of us find out that there was no way any of this was possible, and it was all a family myth.

The point is, we should never allow this to discourage us! Who among us has not embellished our own "story" at some point in our lives, just to make us look the better person? If you can honestly answer that you haven't, then you didn't have the childhood most of us had! Yes, be truthful, we've all done it at some point in our lives. Do we want anyone to think any less of us for having done it? Of course not! It's the sum of who we are! And neither is the family myth or legend the sum of who your ancestor was! And remains today.

Wait a minute....did I just say who they remain today?

Yes, I did!

In each of us continues to live the hopes and dreams of our ancestors. Those who came before us. Don't believe me? Well, who among us does not wish for, and pray for, a better future for our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren, etc.? We all do. And if we do, isn't possible our ancestors wished and prayed for us as well?

I have come to the realization that I know most of my ancestors better than I know most of my living relatives! I know that mine, at least, prayed over the welfare of this Nation and the generations that would follow them. And that means they prayed over me!


Kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, huh?

As we celebrate this Holiday of Independence, why not take just a moment of the day and say a little prayer for this Country. For our future generations.

It looks like rain here, so I'm not sure I'll be spending much time outside, but I am planning a picnic. Whether it's on the patio or in the kitchen! I'm leaving in just a moment to go pick up my hubby at the local truck stop. He's actually making it home for the holiday! Then we're going to cook on the grill this evening and share a big meal with my parents.

Our children are spread all over this country: Chris and his wife, Patsy, are in Meadow Bridge; David and his daughter are in Las Vegas; Debbie and her partner, Cheryl, are in Portsmouth; Mike and his son are in Beckley; and the youngest, Crissy, is in Hebron. So, while our children move in their own little circles, we continue to have our traditions here. A cookout is a MUST! [Darn, just wish I'd remembered to pick up the fireworks! Do you think there's anyone with them on sale at this late time? Hmmm........]

Kick off your shoes and enjoy this glorious day of freedom! Remember the men and women who keep us free!


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Back Again- Ethnic Searches

I can't believe that I did not get to the blog yesterday. It was one of those days when I could not get enough done all day! Seemed I was running in quicksand and getting nowhere fast!

However, I do my best work late in the evening and into the wee hours of the morning. Most nights never hitting the bed before 1 A.M. And I love it.

Last night was no exception. I was up about midnight and researching a family in Santa Fe with obvious Hispanic ancestry. They thought they had always emigrated from Mexico about 1800. Well, they were partly right. They did come in New Mexico Territory about 1800 from Mexico. But the story did not begin there!

It seems they had only been in Mexico about 40 or 50 years. Before that, they had been in California. They were actually of Spanish descendency! Their family had helped to found a mission in middle California in the mid-1700's! The lovely part was that it was all well documented with church records! I can't wait to let them know what I have uncovered!

I get such a thrill when I uncover a large unknown part of someones ancestry. To me it is like a "high". I literally get a "rush" from it. When I think I am about to have to quit and go to bed because I am too exhausted to go further, I find a tidbit, and suddenly, I am wide awake and going full speed ahead!

I had always heard that when you performed your passion for your"job" it was no longer a "job", it was your passion! I had often wondered if it were true. And believe me, when it's something you love and are passionate about, it is no longer a JOB!

I want to share with our readers that I am in the process of applying to become a Daughter of the American Revolution [DAR]. This is an elite membership limited to those individuals who can trace their ancestry directly to a person who served in the American Revolution. In my case, my great-great-great-grandfather was a private in the Pennsylvania and North Carolina Militia's. Joseph Wiseman's daughter, Rachel, married William M. Bean. Their son, William M. Bean, Jr. was the father of my grandfather, John M. Bean. When I have finally been accepted, and there is no problem with that, as the proof is quite evident of my ancestry, then we will apply for my Dad to become a Son of the American Revolution [SAR]. It is quite the exciting process!

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Remember....there is nothing so bad that a nice glass of red wine....or chocolate...can't fix!
Until next time!