Saturday, January 31, 2009

Twittering the Great Depression

Taken from "The Genealogue" for 31 Jan 2009:

David Griner is Twittering his great-aunt's diary.

Late last year, my family found a line-a-day diary maintained by my great-aunt from 1937 to 1941. She was in her early teens, living on a small farm in rural Illinois with her two brothers, one of which was my grandfather. It's a fascinating account of life in a bygone era, a time when my family's only connections to the world were schoolhouse chatter and a neighbor's radio.

Looking at the terse journal, my sister quipped, "This is the Twitter of the 1930s." We glanced at each other and almost immediately began planning the Twitter account that would become

Friday, January 30, 2009

Md. Man Nearly Tosses 140-Year Old Lincoln Signature

The following was taken from the Fox Network's "Fox 5" web site in Washington, DC:

KEEDYSVILLE, Md. - How many times have you cleaned out your home and thrown things away before looking at them?

One Frederick County man nearly threw out a 140-year-old signature of Abraham Lincoln that he didn't know he had. It was just pure luck, though, that his piece of history didn't become history.

Charles Collins was cleaning out his mother's basement when he came across what looked like a rolled-up tube.

"I said knowing my mom and dad, you never know what could be inside this thing, so I decided I was going to check it out," Collins told FOX 5's Tom Fitzgerald.

Charles was holding a piece of family history.

"So I unrolled it and it's my great-great grandfather's civil war discharge," he said.

But it was not just any discharge. On closer inspection, Charles realized it was signed by Abraham Lincoln himself.

"And I pulled it down even further and I saw Lincoln's signature on the bottom, and I'm like, oh my gosh!" he described. "I'm holding a 140-year-old document in my dirty sweaty hands!"

The discharge was issued to Charles' great-great grandfather, Private James Nolan, who served in the union army.

"His unit of the Ohio cavalry, from the readings I have seen, escorted Grant to the surrender of Lee at Appomattox," Charles said.

Of course, to Charles the document is priceless, but everything does have a price. The last time a document like this was up for auction in 2003, it went for $4,000. The experts here say now this document could go for up to four times that amount.

After being rolled up for 140 years, Charles took the discharge to the Museum Store in Frederick to have it restored. Owner Vicki Corman says it was dangerously close to falling apart.

"Where it had been folded in the past, those areas were starting to tear, so we had to mend the tears on the folds," said Corman.

Now preserved, Charles says this hand-signed Lincoln document is a link to his ancestor that he can now share with future generations.

"It's something that I can pass along to my children," said Charles

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ellis Island Documentary Airs on PBS in February

The following is taken from Genealogy Insider for 29 Jan 2009 and is posted by Diane Haddad:

Forgotten Ellis Island, a documentary based on film producer Lorie Conway’s book of the same name about the immigrant hospital at America’s busiest port of arrival, is set to air on many PBS stations Feb. 2 at 10 p.m. (It'll air Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. in some places.)

See the Forgotten Ellis Island Web site and check local TV listings for updates. (The online schedule for our PBS affiliate let me set up an automatic e-mail reminder.)

I interviewed Conway for the November 2008 Family Tree Magazine, and the Ellis Island hospital is among my favorite topics I’ve covered. Conway shared photos and stories of immigrants treated there, revealing the hospital’s history and how the staff handled patients' varying cultures, languages and illnesses—while trying to balance a mission of humanity with a duty to protect the US population from diseases.

As mentioned in the November 2008 article, patient records are missing except a few documents scattered in other files. The hospital buildings are under the care of Save Ellis Island and awaiting restoration

****Be sure and watch this historic documentary! - cbh

Ancestors of American Presidents - 2009 Edition

The following post was taken from DickEastman's EOGN on 28 January 2009:

Gary Boyd Roberts is well-known for his tracing of family trees of politicians, movie stars and other notables. Now he has updated his previous work, Ancestors of American Presidents. The following is from the announcement:

More than thirty years in the making, this authoritative work presents ancestor tables for each president from George Washington to Barack Obama. Building on the comprehensive research conducted for the previous edition, New England Historic Genealogical Society Research Scholar Emeritus Gary Boyd Roberts has exhaustively investigated the most reliable genealogical sources of presidential ancestry.

The book includes:
* Ancestor tables for all presidents
* Royal descents of each president and first lady
* More than 150 charts outlining kinships between presidents
* Charts showing kin and “kin of kin” to Pocahontas, presidential Mayflower lines, and connections to European royal families
* Comprehensive name and place indexes 6 x 9
hardcover, 864 pages, $34.95 ($39.95 after June 1, 2009)

Praise for the first edition:
“This impressive work incorporates all the published scholarship to date on presidential ancestry. . . . Highly recommended.” –The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record

“This book should be a staple in the library of every serious genealogist.” – North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal

To order, email, call 617-226-1212, or visit

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ads From the 1930's

I hope everyone gets as much of a kick out of seeing these ads as I have! We've certainly come a long way! - cbh

Easy Open Schlitz Cans!
Doctor Recommended Camel's

Have a Fag

Eat Lard!


Douche with Lysol

Chesterfield's for Christmas!

The Tape Worm Diet!

Blow Smoke In Her Face!

Prophylactic Protection!


The following is taken from DIck Eastman's EOGN 27 Jan 2009:

I have written many times about "Who Do You Think You Are?," a very popular British television that has since been exported to other countries. Each country produces their own shows, featuring local television personalities and stories. Now NBC will bring the television program to American viewers, starting April 20. The program will air on Mondays at 8 p.m.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" will feature American celebrities, including Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker and Susan Sarandon, as they unearth their family trees. Kudrow's company, Is or Isn't Entertainment, will produce the programs, along with the U.K.'s Wall to Wall Productions.

The series will examine a star's family tree and uncover stories about love, secrets and triumphs in his or her family's past, while also weaving the family story into the larger narrative of American history.

"This show personalizes history and turns it into a gripping narrative," Kudrow says. "The most striking thing about the show is the realization of how connected we all are."


You can bet I'll be watching! - cbh

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Free Money From Your Ancestors?

The following is taken from the January 24, 2009 edition of "Your Future, Your Past":

Knowing your genealogy can actually be worth substantial money to you, and life-changing knowledge can be beyond priceless, truly of incalculable value.

For instance, having the knowledge I just discovered could have given a life-changing advantage of monumental value to one of your ancestors, to you, and to your descendants.

In fact, if one of your ancestors had discovered this key knowledge when they really needed it, you and your descendants would have been born into an entirely different and almost certainly much better socio-economic environment.

And you or one of your descendants may be standing at that very crossroads right now.

The amazing Google Book Search was the source of one key piece of knowledge that led me to the pleasing discovery that the Family Forest® contains an additional treasure trove of priceless knowledge that I was unaware of.

This particular gem of knowledge was found in a book that has been in the Harvard College Library for over a century. This book is number 299 of a 300 edition printing of a 1905 genealogy book about the Kingsbury family. A sticker in the front of the book says:

“From the Bright Legacy. Descendants of Henry Bright, jr., who died at Watertown, Mass., in 1686, are entitled to hold scholarship in Harvard College, established in 1880 under the will of Jonathan Brown Bright of Waltham, Mass., with one half the income of this Legacy. Such descendants failing, other persons are eligible to the scholarships. The will requires that this announcement shall be made in every book added to the Library under its provisions.”

So a couple of quick mouse-clicks in the Family Forest® New World Edition
revealed that Henry Bright, Jr. had descendants with the surnames of Abbott, Adams, Ahrens, Alexander, Atkins, Baker, Baldwin, Barnes, Bentley, Bicknell, Bigelow, Bond, Booth, Bowman, Bright, Bryant, Brown, Burkholder, Carder, Carter, Chamberlin, Cheesman, Clark, Coffin, Cooledge, Coolidge, Crane, Cunningham, Cummings, Dalton, Dean, Deane, Dvojacki, Dewey, Dexter, Folsom, Fowle, Frary, Fuller, Gates, Gibson, Gilman, Goddard, Goodloe, Gould, Greenleaf, Greenwood, Grosvenor, Hanna, Harpole, Hastings, Higgins, Homans, Howell, Jackson, Kiblinger, Langan, Learned, Leavitt, Lipphart, Little, Livermore, Martin, Merriam, Miles, Miller, Mills, Morgan, Munroe, Niebell, Owsley, Paddock, Page, Passarella, Pearce, Perkins, Pleasants, Pratt, Pulsifer, Quincy, Ray, Raymond, Rentschler, Rice, Rodger, Rowland, Sargent, Shattuck, Shreve, Smallwood, Smith, Skillen, Stearns, Stetson, Stocker, Stone, Storer, Stratton, Strecker, Sweeney, Tatnall, Taylor, Temple, Tileston, Tufts, Walker, Waller, Washburn, Webber, Webster, Welch, Wheeler, White, Whiting, Wier, Wigglesworth, Woods, Woodward, and others.

One of these is the surname of a friend who was struggling last fall to find funds to give his daughter a good college education. A couple of them are names of members of my church congregation, one is one of Kristine’s ancestors, four are some of my ancestral surnames, and some are names and/or ancestral surnames of people we see regularly in the news.

How many people who are entitled to basically free money from their ancestors are completely unaware of it? How many people with unusual surnames such as Ahrens, Dvojacki, or Passarella, or common surnames such as Baker, Clark, or Smith, would know that they had ancestors with the surname of Bright, and that this knowledge can entitle members of their family to a life-changing advantage?

Which of course leads me back to the Family Forest®. If key knowledge can be priceless, what is a digital edutainment resource that leads you to that knowledge worth?

Ernie & His Mama

The following was taken from "The Genealogue".


While working on a new website project, I ran across this photograph accompanying the passport application of Anna Boselli Borgnino. Anna—the daughter of Count Vincenzo Boselli—had brought her son Ermes to Milan in 1920, and while she was away her husband went and got himself naturalized in Connecticut. That meant she had become an American citizen as well, and had to get a passport to travel back to the U.S.

And that round-faced kid on her lap? He grew up to be Academy-Award-winning actor Ernest Borgnine. I wonder if he had a gap between his two front baby teeth.

Great Genealogy Blog Site is Back Online!

Leland Meitzler's "Genealogy Blog" has been offline for several months. However, he's back online and posting multiple lines of study!

You can read Leland's blog's at

Glad to see your material again Leland! - cbh

Monday, January 26, 2009

Human Statue of Liberty

I find it amazing that this photo, taken so many years ago, actually still exists! And now, someone has put it online for all of us to see. This INCREDIBLE picture was taken in 1918. It is 18,000 men preparing for war in a training camp at Camp Dodge , in Iowa .
What a priceless gift from our grandfathers!
Base to Shoulder: 150 feet
Right Arm: 340 feet
Widest part of arm holding torch: 12 1/2 feet
Right thumb: 35 feet
Thickest part of body: 29 feet
Left hand length: 30 feet
Face: 60 feet
Nose: 21 feet
Longest spike of head piece: 70 feet
Torch and flame combined: 980 feet
Number of men in flame of torch: 12,000
Number of men in torch: 2,800
Number of men in right arm: 1,200
Number of men in body, head and balance of figure only: 2,000
Total men: 18,000
The above wasreceived today in an email from Eydie Dunbar. Thanks Sis! - cbh

Finding Family in Pre-1850 Census Records

The following entry was written by Juliana Smith in this week's "Ancestry Weekly Journal". This is an excellent suggestion on how to keep track of those individuals who should be present in these census records! Love the idea Juliana! - cbh


While the U.S. Censuses for 1850-1930 are among the most popular resources for family historians, the pre-1850 enumerations are among the most overlooked. While they may not provide the same detail as later enumerations, they can still help place your ancestors in a particular location during the census year. The tough part is determining which family is yours.
I was recently searching for my Kelly family in New York in pre-1850 censuses and to help figure out where I need to look, I employed the use of a few charts.
First I created a chart that projected how old each person in the family would be for a particular census year. I used a spreadsheet, but this could easily be done on a sheet of paper by hand with a grid.
Across the top I listed each family members name and the estimated year they were born. Along the side of the grid were all of the census years. Beginning on the line for the first census year that they were alive for, I listed how old I thought they would be in that year. Then I just added ten years to each of these and filled out all the years in which they were alive. Now I had a handy chart to work with for my second step.
Next I printed out a blank census form for 1840 from Ancestry and put the initial of each family member in the appropriate age bracket based on the census chart I had created. Using my grid chart made it easy to go across the form and figure out which of the family members fell in each age category. Then I just had to tally them up.

A Few Things to Consider

There may be children listed in the census that died young and that I’m not aware of so if there are extra young children, I shouldn’t dismiss a record. There may also be more than just the one family living in the home. Additional adults may be other relatives or the spouse of one of the older children. For these reasons, I didn’t rule out families who had “extras.”

Older children may have moved out. To designate, which children might not be still at home in a particular census year, I circled the tallies for children that would have been twenty or older. I did the same for children who would have been in their upper teens. Since some families lived together even after the children were married, I didn’t want to rule them out, but still want to remind myself that one or more of them may have moved out. It was also a reminder that additional adults of the opposite gender could be spouses.

For a person whose birth bridged two categories (e.g., a fifteen-year-old might have fallen in the “ten & under fifteen” category, or in the “fifteen and under twenty” category, depending on when his birthday fell and when the census was taken.), I drew a line across the two categories to remind me that I could be flexible with that one.

Using this template, it was much easier to compare my family to the census records as I browsed through all of the James Kellys in New York. Despite the exceptions to the template, by looking at the individuals who would have most likely have been in the house—typically parents and young children—I was able to rule out most of the James Kellys in New York. Now I will turn to other records, like directories and possibly religious records, to see if I can discern if one of the remaining Kellys is my family.

Ancestry members can search U.S. Federal Census records here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Free Genealogy Newsletter Online!

The following is taken from Dick Eastman's EGON:

"January 23, 2009

Genealogy In Time - A Free Online Genealogy Magazine

This newsletter has a new competitor! The following was written by MissingLink Software Corporation:

Ottawa, Ontario - January 22, 2009 -- MissingLink Software Corporation announces the official launch of its new web site Genealogy In Time™, a free online genealogy magazine containing genealogy news, articles and links.

"Genealogy is such a popular hobby, and yet there is a lack of good quality, free genealogy web sites that can help people learn how to find their ancestors." said Miles Whittingham, President of MissingLink Software Corporation. "Our objective with the free online genealogy magazine Genealogy In Time™ is to provide useful genealogy resources and original, thoughtful content to help people track down their ancestors."Genealogy is such a popular hobby, and yet there is a lack of good quality, free genealogy web sites that can help people learn how to find their ancestors.Our objective with the free online genealogy magazine Genealogy In Time™ is to provide useful genealogy resources and original, thoughtful content to help people track down their ancestors.The genealogy marketplace has grown so large that it is time for a good quality, free online genealogy magazine

We want to help people save time in the search for their ancestors and, best of all, everything is free.Genealogy In Time™ continuously monitors thousands of news and genealogy sites
worldwide and then summarizes the best genealogy news stories so people do not have to spend their time searching through the internet for the latest developments in genealogy. Genealogy In Time™ also presents original genealogy resource articles and provides links to the most recent genealogy records. "The genealogy marketplace has grown so large that it is time for a good quality, free online genealogy magazine" said Miles Whittingham. "We want to help people save time in the search for their ancestors and, best of all, everything is free."

The free online genealogy magazine Genealogy In Time™ can be found at

About MissingLink Software CorporationGenealogy In Time™ is owned by the MissingLink Software Corporation, an independent company located in Ottawa, Canada. We specialize in family history software. Our mandate as a company is to give people the tools and resources they need to help them discover their family history. Genealogy In Time™ and MissingLink™ are trademarks of MissingLink Software Corporation.


This new web site is well worth your time to investigate! Take a look today!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Real Spin On The Subject!

Okay folks, I received this post this afternoon in an email from an old friend. You are gonna love this! - cbh

There's political spin, and then there's POLITICAL SPIN!!!

The story below is exactly what we pay our Congressional Representatives for...

Judy Wallman, a professional genealogy researcher here in southern California , was doing some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered that Harry Reid's great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry Reid share this common ancestor.

Harry Reid

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows in Montana territory.

On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription:
'Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.'

So Judy recently e-mailed Congressman Harry Reid for information about their great-great uncle.

Believe it or not, Harry Reid's staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research:
'Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory . His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed. '

NOW THAT is how it's done folks! That's real SPIN.

Morphing The Presidents

This is really quite impressive!

Please click HERE to watch a video on YouTube that literally morphs from the First President, George Washington to the 44th, Barack Obama. There is a brief moment before each President's name is shown ... see how many you can name! - cbh

An Exclusive Club at the White House

The following is an exerpt taken from the Jan. 20th edition of the Boston Globe.

"THE CLUB that Barack Obama now joins has traditionally been far more exclusive than just all white and all male. There has never been an Italian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Russian, Greek, Spaniard, or Hispanic elected to the White House. No descendent of the great waves of immigration from southern and eastern Europe that washed over this country in the 19th century has ever made it. Most presidential ancestors came from earlier, 18th- and 17th-century British immigrations in which the few names ending in vowels were mostly Scottish or Irish.

Michael Dukakis, of Greek ancestry, went up to the clubhouse door but wasn't allowed in. Nor have there been any Swedes, Danes, or Norwegians. Walter Mondale, of Norwegian descent, didn't come close. In more than 200 years there has never been a Jew, and only one Catholic, John Kennedy.

The genealogical background of presidents has been conspicuously narrow. Many are distant relatives of each other. The Bushes are allegedly related to 16 presidents and Franklin Roosevelt to 17.

All presidential surnames, save five, derive exclusively from the British Isles. The exceptions are the two Roosevelts and Martin van Buren from Holland; and Herbert Hoover (Huber) and Dwight Eisenhower (Eisenhauer) from Germany. And even then, both Teddy Roosevelt and FDR were only one-quarter Dutch. Most of their ancestors were English, Irish, or Scot.

Glance into the deep gene pools of our presidents and you will see the majority of their ancestors clustered into this same northwestern corner of Europe, with a few Frenchmen, mostly Protestant Huguenots, thrown in.

Even the two presidents whose presidential names were not their original surnames fall into the same ancestral corridor. President Clinton, originally William Jefferson Blythe, and Gerald Ford, originally Leslie Lynch King, took the names of stepfathers, but the old names, like the new, came from the British Isles.

There may be no more roots-conscious group in America than the Irish, and politicians are quick to claim Irish connections. The Blythes may have come over from England, but Bill Clinton said: "I've always been conscious of being Irish . . . It means a lot to me." Ireland lays claim to anywhere from 16 to 23 American presidents, depending on who is doing the counting.

Protestant Northern Ireland, however, has the edge, many presidents having descended from the traditionally feisty Scots-Irish. They originally came from the Scottish borders, where they were deeply involved with fighting the English. Recruited to put down the Catholics in Ulster, many then participated in one of the earliest mass immigrations to America, where they were in constant conflict with Native Americans. John McCain says he is descended from Scots-Irish stock.

Genealogy shops in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic are often competitive, but there was a time when both were willing to let the other have Richard Nixon.

Genealogists say that both Adamses, Taylor, Grant, Garfield, and FDR were descended from the Mayflower settlers in 17th-century Massachusetts. Nixon, Ford, and the two Bushes have Mayflower connections.

Some presidents can claim royal blood. Clinton is said to share ancestry with Henry III on his mother's side, and may be related to both presidents Harrison as well as Ford and Carter.
George Washington, FDR, both Bushes, and Coolidge are said to descend from a 15th-century Englishman named John Spencer from Warwickshire - as was Diana, the late Princess of Wales.
Now it is a decedent of Luo tribesmen who is being sworn in as president of the United States. The Luo moved into what is now Kenya from the southern Sudan at about the same time John Spencer was begetting his progeny.

But from his mother's side, Obama belongs in the same gene pool as past presidents; being of English, Scottish, Irish, French, Dutch, and German stock.

Obama is said to be a 10th cousin once removed of George W. Bush, through Samuel Hinckley who lived in Massachusetts in the 17th century, and a ninth cousin once removed of Dick Cheney, through a 17th-century Frenchman named Mareen Duvall.

So the shades of deceased members of the Presidents Club can't get too grumpy about the end of exclusivity.

H.D.S. Greenway's column appears regularly in the Globe."



Let's hear your comments! - cbh

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Colleen Fitzpatrick Upstages Barack Obama!

The following message was posted on the APG message board. Be sure to click on the link and watch the videos available at RTE!!! - cbh

19 January 2009
From Alaska to Askeaton - Mystery arm Forensic genealogist Colleen Fitpatrick is featured in this video summary of a team that solved a fascinating old, cold, Alaskan plane crash historical mystery with DNA and records from Limerick.,null,228

Then, of course, Barack Obama's ancestry in Moneygall of county Offaly is also featured :) As well as news you can use for the National Archives of Ireland and a recovered census in Armagh

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pitfalls That Can Create Brick Walls...

The following is from the Message Forum on Dick Eastman's EOGN, and is a wonderful entry made by Mary L.B. Everyone should read this!


"Following are just a few of the many PITFALLS that you need to be aware of:

l. JR. and SR: Don't EVER ASSUME that "Jr" and "Sr" are father and son!!! Often they are, but sometimes they are NOT. They may be uncle and nephew, grandfather and grandson, cousins, or even no relation. These are merely titles to distinguish an older man from a younger one with the same name. To add to the confusion, these titles shift as "SR" dies and "JR" becomes "SR", and a younger person often becomes "JR". Without sufficient research in official records, one can not detect these changes and identities. It only takes ONE misidentification to cause a researcher to spend years researching the WRONG PEOPLE.

2. PLACE OF DEATH AND PLACE OF PROBATE: A person's death record will be found in the county in which death occurred (if records were kept then). Examples would include death while traveling, visiting, hospitalized, in prison, etc. outside his or her county of residence. PROBATE records, (if there was property to be distributed) would be found in the person's county of residence. It is possible that additional probate records might be found in other counties / states where the deceased owned property. Why use death records??? Because they should contain parent information and various other important data. Why use probate records??? Because they can prove family relationships that may be found nowhere else.

3. ASSUMING THAT FAMILY STORIES ARE TRUE: Often there is partial truth in them but details have become distorted through the years. A common one might be "Great-great Grandma was an Indian". Someone may have said "She looked like an Indian", or, "She MIGHT have been an Indian", or "She lived near Indians". ALWAYS seek out official records that can prove or disprove components of the story. I once had a client who refused to pay me the balance owed because the records I found did not support her fantasy of an Indian connection. She said I just didn't want to believe her story!!! Thorough research can reveal the facts. Another client had me research the WRONG branch of the family for a supposed Indian connection.

4. ASSUMING THAT CHILDREN IN A PRE 1880 CENSUS HOUSEHOLD (when relationships began to be stated) ARE CHILDREN OF THE HEAD OF THE HOUSEHOLD: They may or may NOT be. They may be nieces, nephews, step-children, grandchildren, or no relation. Study the ages and birthplaces when shown of ALL household members. Other year's census records, probate, guardianships, deeds, etc. could help identify relationships and reveal the true children of the head of household. Understanding these relationships can be crucial to building your pedigree and can unlock mysteries. Census through 1840 can be very helpful when analysed with other records, but they can also be misleading if you insist on "accounting" for everyone. Various circumstances affected household members, and therefore one can only GUESS about what they see in census records before 1850.

5. WILLS DON'T ALWAYS MENTION ALL CHILDREN OF A DECEASED PERSON. Often a child has already been given property and it simply does not specify that in the Will. If the gift was real estate or other personal property, then there likely would be a DEED saying something like "For love and affection for my daughter and son-in-law Sarah and John Clark". Beautiful!!!! There is your proof of relationships. Wills are only a small part of probate records. Much, much more can be revealed in ESTATE records, INVENTORIES, BILLS OF SALE, ADMINISTRATOR BONDS, ORDER BOOKS, etc. ALL heirs are likely to be named in ESTATE SETTLEMENTS. LAW SUITS among family members often occurred and these can be a goldmine of factual information on which to build. Knowing the names of siblings and in-laws helps you to recognize key people in the indexes. Develop your family group sheets so the information will be handy.

6. MARRIAGE "LICENSE" VERSUS MARRIAGE "RETURNS": Occasionally couples obtained a license or bond to marry but never carried out their intentions. It is the Minister's or Justice Of The Peace's RETURN / CERTIFICATE that PROVES that a marriage took place. Also learn about the different types of records that are included in "Marriage Records". Marriage APPLICATIONS should be very informative.

7. HAVING THE MINDSET THAT COURT HOUSE RECORDS AND EVIDENCE ARE "JUST FOR PROFESSIONAL RESEARCHERS". Of course they are not!!! Court house records are essential for everyone's research project, as is evidence. All are there for everyone who wants to learn who their ancestors were. Begin with your parents / grandparents and work on back on your pedigree chart, building on the supporting evidence you find. Research is usually not difficult, but it does require understanding the basics. Basics are easily learned, and, with experience, productive research will become easy.

SUMMARY:For helpful information about genealogical research see these websites: (click research tab, and then "Articles"); (click on RootsWeb's Guide To Tracing Family Trees);

Subscribe to Ancestry's free newsletters. Read the many helpful articles on Ancestry Weekly Journal and their blog;

And, of course, read the wonderful articles Mr. Eastman is providing written by George Morgan, Lloyd Bockstruck, and Michael John Niell. These men all know their subjects VERY well.

Mary L. B."


Thanks Mary!!! This is all wonderful advice!!! - cbh

Saturday, January 17, 2009

An Explanation For An "Ordinary"

Virginia Library's Roots List has had an extraordinary topic thread the past few days. While it is not something that you may encounter frequently, unless you choose to research early tax rolls, it is still something undoubtedly you will encounter from time to time. The following is a copy of the thread:

"I always learn something new on this list.
Could someone explain what "Joseph Wood that has a license to run an Ordinary in 1785" means.Ordinary is that like a Inn or tavern or ?


"The term has a number of definitions, but in the sense of your reference, it is " dining room or eating house, or house of public entertainment (as opposed to a house of private entertainment) where a meal is prepared for all comers, at a fixed price for the meal, in distinction from one where each dish is separately charged."
from the Dictionary of Genealogical & Archaic Terms,"


"And quite usually those sold booze, it too being price regulated.Ordinaries seldom had overnight service or accommodations for horses."


I submit the following as well, taken from the "Online Dictionary" at:
1] a member of the clergy appointed to prepare condemned prisoners for death

2] a bishop, archbishop, or other ecclesiastic or his deputy, in his capacity as an ex officio ecclesiastical authority

3] (in some U.S. states) a judge of a court of probate

4] a restaurant, public house, or dining room serving all guests and customers the same standard meal or fare

Of course, in light of the original question, only this 4th definition would apply to the circumstance of requiring a license, and so could only be the correct answer to the query.

File this tidbit of information away for the next time you come across some research that lists an "ordinary", for you will need it!

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, January 15, 2009 Experiencing Difficulties

The following email was received today from

We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced over the past few days due to parts of being intermittently unavailable or slow.

Your family history is our top priority and we’re committed to providing you with the highest level of service.

We have been working around the clock to fix these problems and we believe that things have stabilized. To help further, we installed new hardware this week. We are continuing to monitor the site and will immediately work to rectify any issues that may occur.

We appreciate your patience as we resolve these issues on as quickly as possible.
Andrew Wait GM and SVP

Family Pursuit Makes New Announcement

The following announcement was written by Family Pursuit:

Provo, Utah, Jan. 14 - Family Pursuit, a leader in online collaborative genealogy research tools, today announced the release of Private Family Trees. Designed specifically for collaboration regardless of distance or time, this unique wiki-based website is now available for private use for the genealogist who is looking for a better way to work with others. Family Pursuit’s private family trees allow researchers to share not only conclusions, but their ongoing research, sources, extractions and theories with those invited to join the trees. They are the perfect solution for sharing research with the entire family, interacting with other family genealogists, or working within a family organization or one-name study.

Some of the unique collaborative tools available for private family trees include:

* Inviting an unlimited number of family members to join a private tree

* Organizing and sharing ongoing genealogy research

* Creating and assigning tasks

* Sharing research logs and extractions

* Adding living individuals

* Keeping all information about living and deceased individuals private

* Involving and mentoring family members

* Participating in family discussions

* Receiving notifications of changes made by tree users

* Rolling back and forth any change made by any user

* Advanced merging and unmerging

Along with these new private trees, Family Pursuit continues to offer its free Community Tree which has been created for genealogists to share research with the genealogy community to reduce duplicate efforts, accelerate research, and network and connect with distant relatives.

We have found that many genealogists feel more comfortable working privately with those they already know. A Private Family Tree offers this security,” said Mike Martineau, founder of Family Pursuit. “When genealogists feel confident in their research conclusions, they will be able to easily copy their conclusions to the Community Tree for others to view and add to. A Private Family Tree also allows the inexperienced genealogist to be privately mentored by more knowledgeable relatives. We are excited to offer a bridge between those who are overwhelmed by the amount of research and those who want to help but don’t know how. We look forward to continuing our progress in developing these important tools, and being a part of bringing more people into the work.”

About Family Pursuit

Started in 2004, Family Pursuit, a Provo, Utah company, provides web-based applications to accelerate family history work by providing a framework for genealogy researchers to work together in their efforts and to easily share their ideas, theories, research and conclusions. Family Pursuit enables genealogy enthusiasts to involve family members who have never engaged in family history work, bringing families together in sharing the rewarding experience of researching, exploring, and creating a personal understanding of their heritage. Visit for more information.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Does Publishing Need Genealogists?

by Judith Rosen -- Publishers Weekly, 1/12/2009

Genealogist is not a typical publishing title, yet forensic genealogy, best known for tracking down heirs, played a key role in unmasking two of 2008's biggest publishing hoaxes: Misha Defonseca's Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust and Herman Rosenblat's Angel at the Fence. Colleen Fitzpatrick and Sharon Sargeant worked on both cases pro bono, largely because when they learned about them—the Defonseca story came from former U.S. publisher Jane Daniels's blog, Rosenblat from Holocaust expert Deborah Lipstadt's blog—they knew they could bring resolution to the controversy that surrounded each story.

Their research uncovered baptismal and school records proving that Defonseca didn't escape the Holocaust by running with wolves. She didn't need to; her father was a Nazi collaborator. And if Defonseca had denied the evidence, Fitzpatrick and Sargeant were prepared to use DNA, which, along with photographs and archival records, are a forensic genealogist's stock in trade. “I almost feel disappointed that Misha confessed,” wrote Fitzpatrick on her Web site. “I was looking forward to identifying her through DNA.”

Although there is no question that Herman Rosenblat was a concentration camp survivor, his memoir also turned out to be a work of fiction. According to Michigan State University professor Ken Waltzer, figuring out the real Rosenblat story was “truly a team effort. Sharon and Colleen found crucial information about the two families, discovered additional people we could interview and additional evidence that pointed to serious contextual issues in the case. We wedded the methods of forensic genealogy and social history to discover a publishing fraud.”

Why did Fitzpatrick, a former rocket scientist with a Ph.D. in physics, and Sargeant, whose background is also in science and technology, succeed where editors and fact checkers did not? For Fitzpatrick, it's a matter of looking at a book in context. “We were successful because we weren't simply fact checking; we were investigating apparent inconsistencies in each narrative within the larger story of the Holocaust. We take the facts and draw meaningful information. Are the facts consistent? What's the big picture? Michael Crichton writes terrific fiction. Yet what's exciting is the way he incorporates nonfiction into it. Herman's story itself, if all this had come out ahead of time, would have been billed as historical fiction and would have been strengthened.”

Another issue, especially after a book comes out, is getting media attention. “Defonseca's two childhood friends tried to say for 10 years that she was a fraud,” said Sargeant. “It's not just a question of can you prove it. Can you get people to pay attention?” Although there had been murmurings online for years about the veracity of Rosenblat's love story, it took Waltzer's team and Gabriel Sherman's reporting in the New Republic to persuade Berkley to cancel Angel at the Fence and Lerner to recall its fall children's edition, Angel Girl. As another example, Sargeant cites Dawn Bailiff's 2007 memoir, Notes from a Minor Key, which publisher Hampton Roads continues to market as nonfiction, despite a debunking by the Wilmington News Journal early last year.

But can publishers afford a genealogist? Fitzpatrick said that a “sanity check” early on in a project might cost only a few thousand dollars and could provide important information before the book comes out. Although the book projects they've taken on fall under the category of “misery lit,” Fitzpatrick and Sargeant said that other works of nonfiction could benefit from a genealogical review, particularly histories, biographies and autobiographies.

Sargeant and Fitzpatrick are continuing to research the Rosenblat case and anticipate that more information will become public. They are also looking into another international bestseller, not a Holocaust memoir, but declined to discuss it. However, that's not their only brush with publishing. In 2005, Fitzpatrick cofounded Rice Book Press, which has published three of her books: Forensic Genealogy (2005), DNA & Genealogy (2005) and The Dead Horse Investigation: Forensic Photo Analysis for Everyone (2008).


The above was taken from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY for 12 Jan 2009.

Just goes to prove that if you decide to publish it, you'd better be prepared to defend it! It had better be true!

This is true, not just for biographical or memoir works, but for genealogy in general. You'd better have your "ducks all in a row" as far as being able to prove your information is 100% factual.

I once published part of a family tree that a client gave me, insisting it was completely correct and that she'd paid another genealogist to research it, and she could provide sources and proof for all the information. "Just put it in the book." I did, and later found out it was all a fraud. It was all taken from an unpublished, unsourced tree that someone had "tacked" on to some research. I was mortified! I had added my name to that mess!

Today I may use a tree from someone else's research to attempt to start with, as a "sounding board" perhaps. But, unless I can provide proof positive that the information is correct, I do not use it! I will leave out any unproven information!

Make that your habit as well! - cbh

"Ancestor's in the Attic" to Continue in 2009

The following comes from Dick Eastman's EOGN for 12 Jan 2009:

Good news: "Ancestors in the Attic" will continue and even expand within Canada. The following is an extract from a message sent by Dugald Maudsley, Producer & Co-Creator of Ancestors in the Attic:

We've just had some very good news. Ancestors in the Attic continues on Global TV in 2009.

The program will continue to premiere on History Television but can also be seen on Sundays at 7pm on Global.

Here is the January schedule. I will send February's as soon as I have it.

Sunday 11 January @ 7pm - Brother John
A man dying of cancer travels to Northern Ireland to fulfill his last wish: find his long-lost brother.

Sunday 18 January @ 7pm - Spirit Lake
A Ukrainian-Canadian goes in search of the truth about his family and stumbles into one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history.

Sunday January 25 @ 7pm - Missing Daughter
A WWII veteran goes on a quest to find the orphaned daughter of his best friend, a girl who disappeared more than 60 years ago.


This is a fascinating series if you've ever got the chance to watch it! Check your History Channel listings!- cbh

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tips From The Pros: Buying Used Books

Here is another article by Juliana Smith in todays "The Ancestry Weekly Journal".

It’s inevitable. When you become interested in family history, whether you were a book lover before or not, you become one. In addition to family history reference and how-to books, you suddenly have a need for atlases, old dictionaries, local histories, social histories, ethnic histories, or anything that will give you a better understanding about what an ancestor’s life was like.

Book collecting can be expensive, but with online used-book sellers you can get some great deals on even recently released titles. One book I recently bought is still in print and usually runs $16.00, but I was able to get a copy through a used bookseller on for about $7 (with shipping). and are other good places to check for reduced prices on books. Although the cheapest books have typically been used, most that I have purchased have arrived in remarkably good condition. Compare several sites to get the best deal on the books you need for your family history.


Yours truly purchases almost all of her books from I've been able to purchase books that cost more than $100 new for as little as $20. Most texts used are between $5-$15. Great site! - cbh

The Doors in Your Brick Walls

The following appeared in the Jan 11, 2009 edition of "The Ancestry Weekly Journal" and was written by Juliana Smith:

Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” When we run into those brick walls we often stumble upon in family history, sometimes we’re so busy staring at that one closed door that we overlook a bunch of open doors. Let’s take a look.

Unmarried Siblings
Married siblings with children represent the potential to connect with cousins, but sometimes the focus on our direct ancestor and siblings with causes us to overlook that spinster aunt or bachelor uncle. The fact is, we should be researching every sibling thoroughly because while the records of one child may not include the information you need, those of a sibling may include much more detail--details that can help us past that brick wall.

Died Young
Sometimes there were siblings that we don’t even know about. High infant and child mortality rates were a fact of life for our ancestors. The siblings of our ancestors who were born and died between censuses may hold the key to that closed door. Look for them in family cemetery plots and in vital records indexes. For mothers who were alive in 1900 and 1910, the U.S. federal census asked for the number of children born, and the 1910 census also asks how many were still alive that year. Mortality schedules will also list the children who died within a census year. Once you identify a child who died young, look for birth, and death records, as well as any church or other records that may have been created during their short lives.

Half Siblings
Half siblings still share one parent with your ancestors and their records could contain information on that parent that your direct ancestor’s record does not.

Cousins will share the same grandparents as your ancestor and you may even find a grandparent living with them for a time. The family Bible or other important heirlooms may have passed down through that line and that information may be waiting for you in the hands of a distant cousin.

Current Generations
Even if you think you know all you need to about current generations, researching them thoroughly builds a strong foundation for your research. Contemporary records have more detail and could have clues to ancestral origins that older records do not. Don’t skip over Grandma Betty’s records simply because she told you all you need to know. You never know what she forgot to mention or decided to hold back.

Step Families and In-Laws
Families from the old country often settled near others from their old neighborhood. These families often intermarried, so if you’re having trouble crossing the pond with your family, do a little digging into the origins of stepmothers and the in-laws of your ancestor and his or her siblings. You may find connections that reach back into the old country. The same thing applies to witnesses, sponsors, and business associates. Often you’ll find that not only do they share the same hometown, they also share an ancestor or two.

With so many records now indexed and available online, it’s easier to open up these often overlooked doors than it was in the past.


Thanks Juliana! - cbh

Behind the Scenes At

On today's "Genealogy Insider" we are treated with the following photographs that I thought you would all enjoy.

This is Corporate Headquarters for

This is Laryn Brown, head of the Document Preservation department, in front of monitors tracking the scanning.

About a dozen people operate different kinds of copiers and scanners: one photographs books [even turning the individual pages! There is even a scanner as large as an adult!

Diane Haddad wrote:

"More and more often, though, will digitize paper records on-site at repositories, with digital images sent to headquarters for processing.

Yes, many records are indexed in China and Uganda. Indexers receive months of training in English and whatever language the records are in; they're asked to key exactly what they see, even when a word is misspelled. US employees do quality spot checks and occasionally send back batches of records for re-indexing.

Back in the USA, another team examines records and indexes to “normalize” those misspellings and aberrations in data fields. Say a set of records is from California. The clerks who created the records way back when may have written the state as CA, Cal., Calif. or Calfa. The staff will add “California” to the index for these records so they come up in customers' California searches. "


Wow! I was glad to see how well organized and professional was! - cbh

First Humans Migrating into Americas Brought Linguistic and Cultural Diversity

The following announcement was written by the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation:

SALT LAKE CITY & PAVIA, Italy - Genetic researchers from the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) in Salt Lake City working with scientists from the University of Pavia in Italy today published a study shedding new light on the puzzling question of why Native Americans exhibited such extraordinary linguistic and cultural diversity when the first Europeans arrived in 1492.

Featured on the cover of Current Biology journal, the striking finding by an international team of researchers challenges the traditional idea that the first groups of humans to colonize the Americas came from a single population source, which would imply one language family, technology and culture, when they crossed an Ice Age land bridge connected to Asia 15-17,000 years ago.

By analyzing for the first time at the highest level of molecular resolution two rare lineages of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from modern Native Americans, geneticists identified separate migratory paths that marked the initial stages of human colonization.

Traveling concurrently, one genetic group of Paleo-Indians followed the Pacific coastline route and arrived at the southern tip of South America, while the second group followed an ice-free corridor east of the Rocky Mountains and settled in the Great Plains and Great Lakes regions.
The evidence that separate groups of people with distinctive genetic roots entered the Americas independently at the same time strongly implies linguistic and cultural differences between them. “The origin of the first Americans is very controversial to archaeologists and even more so to linguists,” said study corresponding author Professor Antonio Torroni, heading the University of Pavia group. “Our genetic study reveals a scenario in which more than one language family could have arrived in the Americas with the earliest Paleo-Indians.” Torroni is a world-renowned population geneticist in the field of mtDNA research and the first to identify the major genetic groups to which 95 percent of Native Americans belong.

In March 2008, the same research team published a study that was the first to compile all known Native American mtDNA sequences into a single genetic tree with branches dated. Results showed almost all modern Native Americans descended from six ancestral founding mothers. They used the built-in molecular clock of DNA to establish the time the first humans moved into the Western Hemisphere, finding a narrow window between 15-17,000 years ago.
For both studies researchers combed the Sorenson database—the world’s largest collection of correlated genetic genealogy information containing DNA collected in more than 170 countries—for mtDNA belonging to Native American lineages. Then, using techniques developed at the University of Pavia, the samples were analyzed using a complete-mtDNA genome approach for the first time.

“Six major genetic lineages account for 95 percent of Native American mtDNA and are distributed everywhere in the Americas,” said first author Ugo Perego, director of operations at SMGF. “So we chose to analyze two rare genetic groups and eliminate that ‘statistical background noise.’ In this way, we found patterns that correspond to two separate migration routes.”

Today’s study analyzed two rare genetic groups. D4h3 spread into the Americas along the Pacific coast and, at the same time, X2a migrated inland through an ice-free corridor between the Cordilleran and the Laurentide glaciers. The D4h3 group is rare today in North America, while X2a is found exclusively in the U.S. and Canada, mainly in the Great Lakes and Great Plains regions. The six most common Native American mtDNA lineages are A2, B2, C1b, C1c, C1d and D1.

“This study does not end the debate,” said co-author Dr. Alessandro Achilli, researcher at the University of Pavia and assistant professor at the University of Perugia, “but the implications of our findings are significant. The distinct industries and technologies observed in North American archeological sites might be related to separate genetic groups using different migratory routes rather than being the result of in situ differentiation. Future research will dissect common pan-American lineages into sub-branches, and we do expect distribution of some of these subgroups will parallel that of D4h3 and X2a.”

The study, “Distinctive Paleo-Indian Migration Routes from Beringia Marked by Two Rare MtDNA Haplogroups,” was published online today by Current Biology and will be the cover story for the print version on Jan. 13, 2009.

About Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation

The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF; is a non-profit research organization that has created the world's largest repository of correlated genetic and genealogical information. The free, publicly available SMGF database currently contains information about more than 7 million ancestors through linked DNA samples and pedigree charts from more than 170 countries, or approximately 90 percent of the nations of the world. The foundation's purpose is to foster a greater sense of identity, connection and belonging among all people by showing how closely we are connected as members of a single human family.

Taken from Dick Eastman's EOGN for 10 Jan 2009:

A new, free web site caught my eye his week:

The site is subtitled, "Using family history to improve your health." I must say that I am pleasantly surprised by the services available at this free web site. I am in a hotel room in Salt Lake City right now and do not have all my records and family health information with me. However, I plan to spend more time on this service as soon as I return home.

Quoting from the web site: is for you. You are the ultimate steward of your own health. We believe that giving you more power and control over your own health information will lead to better health outcomes. We believe that by helping you create your own family health history, we are empowering you to look inside your own genome and discover potential health risks before they occur. Our goal is to help you improve the quality of your life through family health history. is an open-access tool created and developed by SGgenomics, Inc. a privately held corporation that funds and develops innovative genetic & health based ideas. We encourage and invite everyone to use our family health history tool without cost or obligation. Tell your friends, family, patients, and colleagues that this service is available for all to use.

The online Family Health History Tool allows people to create a comprehensive family health history report that can be used by a healthcare professional. It is capable of charting complex family relationships and storing pertinent family health information in standardized pedigree nomenclature. It will reduce the amount of time that doctors and other health professionals spend in collecting data, thereby allowing for more time to be spent in evaluation and defining treatment.

The Family Health History Tool v1.0 and website features:

• Patent-pending pedigree-first design and features
• Adheres to Standardized Human Pedigree Nomenclature
• Follows the family health history core-data set recommendations established by the American Health Information Community (AHIC).
• 12 selectable diseases include: Heart Disease, Stroke, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Type II Diabetes, Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Lung Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Skin Cancer, and Osteoporosis.
• ‘Other’ option to enter any disease, condition, or trait
• 5 generation/3rd degree relative family member pedigree
• Unique family relationships (adoptions, half-sibs, pregnancy, etc)
• Fully editable personal and health information
• Health summary module
• Pedigree Assistant to assist user
• Linkup and automatically share info with family members*
• Save and store with login accessibility
• Print or E-mail family health history report
• EHR, EMR, PHR interoperability available with licensing
• Customizable tool features available with licensing
• Adobe Flash 9.0 platform
• Zoom in/zoom out, pan, expand screen capabilities
• Change proband
• Disease information available for selectable diseases
• Prevention Techniques
• Family Health History Guide
• ‘How to’ videos
• Frequently Asked Questions
• Personal information protected with SSL, firewall, data encryption, HIPAA compliant hosting

For more information, go to You might also want to check the introductory video at the web site. The same video is available at and at

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Smile For You

Remember! Not everything can be found on the Internet!
Get out there amidst the dust and crannies of the courthouses and libraries! That's where you'll find the BEST treasures!

National Archives Celebrates 75th Anniversary of Exhibits


Opening March 13, 2009 Washington, DC*The National Archives celebrates its 75th year in 2009 with a new exhibition featuring big records, big events, and big ideas. BIG! opens Friday, March 13, 2009, in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building. From the 13-foot scroll of the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States, to the size 22 sneakers of basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal, the items in the exhibition are pieces of the American story-writ large.

The exhibition will be on display through January 3, 2010, and is free and open to the public. The National Archives is located on the National Mall on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. Exhibit Hall hours are 10 A.M. - 5:30 P.M. daily, except Thanksgiving and December 25.

At a time when many people struggle to see documents and images on smaller and smaller screens, the National Archives presents the nation's original record in its full-scale glory. For example:

* A section of an enormous 13-by-13-foot Civil War-era map of the Gettysburg battlefield will be shown. With a scale of one inch to 200 feet, it shows the terrain at the site of Pickett's charge, one of the great infantry charges in military history, and the site where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address.

* As evidence that William Howard Taft was almost certainly the biggest man to serve as President of the United States, the exhibit presents the 1909 order for a bathtub and other special items to accommodate Taft's 300-plus-pound frame. A replica of the massive tub will be on view.

* The military personnel file of General Douglas McArthur is one of the biggest in the holdings of the National Archives National Personnel Records Center. The many thousands of items in the file chronicle the famous 5-Star General's half-century of military service. Included is a Presidential directive indicating a big clash of power between military and civilian command.

* The National Archives will display a treasure that embodies an idea so big that it engendered the birth of the nation. It is one of only 25 surviving copies from the first printing of the Declaration of Independence by John Dunlap. This broadside was inserted into the "rough journal" of the Continental Congress in the July 4, 1776, entry.

Throughout 2009, in addition to BIG! the National Archives is planning a wide range of events to celebrate the 75th anniversary of its establishment. A special web page,, shines a spotlight on defining moments in the agency's history through the decades with photo galleries, notices of special events at dozens of agency sites nationwide, a new National History Day award for middle and high school students, and a new Excellence in Genealogy Scholarship award. The website will also feature a guest book for researchers to share their stories of discovery and of how the agency has a made a difference in their lives.

Check in the coming months for full details.

*****The above article is taken from 7 Jan 2009's "Dear Myrtle".

President-Elect Barack Obama Inherited Speaking Skills?

Taken from "Dear Myrtle" 7 January 2009:

7 January 2009
President-Elect Barack Obama Inherited Speaking Skills?
Popular Turn-of-the-Century Census Now Free Online

FamilySearch International continues to feed the growing appetite of family historians and researchers worldwide with the release of its free 1900 U.S. Census online. The free collection allows users to search the entire population of the U.S. in 1900—over 76 million people—and view high quality images of the original census at (Go to, then click Search Records, then click Record Search pilot).

Using the online census, President-Elect Barack Obama would learn that public speaking skills and stage presence run in his family—his maternal great-great-grandfather, Charles Payne, was noted as an auctioneer by profession in the census. With just a few keystrokes, he’d find that Charles and his wife Della were born respectively in Missouri and Ohio and living with their six children in Johnson County, Kansas, in 1900. Obama’s great-grandfather, Rolla, was listed as their second child.

Famous inspirational writer and lecturer, Dale Carnegie (1888 to 1955), can be found as a mere 10-year-old farm boy in Nodaway County, Missouri. Researchers might notice that Mr. Carnegie’s family name was spelled Carnagey in the census. He would later change the spelling of his last name, perhaps to capitalize off of the popularity of tycoon Andrew Carnegie (no relation).

“The 1900 U.S. Census is such a significant collection for several reasons,” said Paul Nauta, public affairs manager for FamilySearch. “The 1890 U.S. Census was mostly destroyed in a fire. The 1900 census included information not captured from other censuses—like the exact month and year of birth of every person enumerated, years married, the number of children born to the mother, how many were still living, and how long an immigrant had been in the country along with their naturalization status,” added Nauta.

Researchers can also explore when and where a person was born, as well as the place of birth of that person’s parents. Such information is particularly helpful in trying to determine or document ethnic origins.

The 1900 U.S. Census is also a very important collection for Native Americans because it was the first to include separate Indian Population Schedule sheets for a county. Native Americans living in the general population were enumerated there. The 1900 census included the individual’s Indian and English name, tribal affiliation for the individual and his or her parents, percent of Indian blood in the individual and the parents, education, and land allotment information.

FamilySearch manages the largest collection of genealogical records worldwide. In 2007 it announced plans to begin digitizing and indexing its collection for broader, more economic online access—starting with popular collections like the U.S., Canada, and U.K. censuses. FamilySearch has created free online indexes to date for the 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900 U.S. Censuses. FamilySearch is working with The Generations Network to provide enhanced, free indexes for the remaining U.S. censuses.

Web Site Links African-Americans to Ancestor's Voyage

****The following is taken from Eastman's EOGN for 8 Jan 2009.

A new online database details the journeys of millions of slaves. Twelve and a half million slaves were transported from Africa to the United States as early as the 16th Century. For the first time a new free Internet database gives African-Americans the opportunity to explore their African heritage the way whites have long been able to chart their migration from Europe.

Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database is the result of 40 years of research by hundreds of scholars. Two years ago, Emory University researchers, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, began compiling maps, images, and other records of about 35,000 slave-trade voyages from Africa to North America, Brazil, the Caribbean and Europe. It is the first time such a large amount of data on the subject has been available to the public.

"The records for people of Africa and the Americas are better than the records of connections between Europe and the Americas for the simple reason that slaves were property," said David Eltis, a history professor at Emory and a director of the project. "No one cared what happened to free migrants. They did care what happened to slaves, because they were making money from them."

While the database can establish the regions slave ships launched from in Africa and where they arrived in the United States, it generally is impossible to determine which ancestors were on board, researchers said, because the records have African names that were changed when the slaves arrived in North America.

You can read more in the Chicago Tribune at,0,6302223.story.

Hillary Clinton and the King's Daughter's

****The following is taken from Dick Eastman in the EOGN for 8 Jan 2009:

Eastern Canada was originally settled by French adventurers, fur trappers, and soldiers. There were plenty of men but few women in the early days. The French government realized this was a problem and soon recruited young, single women to travel to New France. These women, known in French as the "filles du roi" or in English as the "King's Daughters," agreed to travel to the new settlements in North America and marry a settler there in exchange for a 50 pound dowry from the French King. Of the nearly 1,000 women who undertook the journey, about 800 made it to Canada.

Upon arrival, the women made contracts of marriage with the men who had originally settled the New World and usually married within a few days or weeks of the contract signing.

Sometimes the women broke the contracts, only to remake them or make new contracts with other men.

These couples were the founding families of Quebec and today have millions of descendants all over the world. Rosemary E. Bachelor has published an article that lists some of Hillary Clinton's descent from those early Quebec families. Hillary shares ancestors with former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, writer Jack Kerouac, singer Shania Twain, Madonna, Celine Dion, Angelina Jolie, Camilla Shand (wife of England’s Prince Charles) and with myself.

You can read more in Rosemary E. Bachelor's article at

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Are Digitalization of Records Missing Your Ancestors?

Genea-Musings blogger Randy Seaver brings up a seldom-raised issue: the quality and completeness of records digitization projects between the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and its partners Footnote, FamilySearch and

His post stems from a discussion on a professional genealogists’ mailing list. A list member experienced with NARA records did a spot check: She noted the first 25 names on a NARA microfilm reel of Civil War pension index cards and searched for those names in’s pension index database. She found just one of the names. (I can hear you thinking "I knew it!")

The researcher said the cards that didn’t scan well from the microfilm were left out of the database (’s source information states 10 percent of the cards are “missing;” she puts the percentage higher).

The researcher also questioned the wisdom of scanning colored documents in black and white, pointing to Footnote's Civil War widows' pensions project.

A NARA staff member explained that partner digitization projects use original records or the highest-quality “master” microfilm and are subject to quality controls. Other, non-partner projects may have digitized records from second- or third-generation film, resulting in poorer images.

He also said NARA does make original records available, even after they’re digitized, to "researchers who need to see them."

A respondent from commented that the microfilmed Civil War pension index cards were particularly difficult to scan because some cards were on dark paper, and the technology available at the time was inferior to today's.

See Seaver’s entire post here.

He raises good questions at the end.It’s easy and comforting to assume genealogy databases have every surviving document in a particular record set. This is a reminder that’s not always the case.

Genealogy Industry
1/6/2009 12:52:18 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)


Taken from:
Family Tree's "GENEALOGY INSIDER" by Diane Haddad.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Method to Revolutionize DNA Sequencing

Taken from Dick Eastman in EOGN 5 Jan. 2009:

New Method To Revolutionize DNA Sequencing

A new article in the Foresight Institute's web site describes a new method of DNA sequencing. The article is quite technical so I will leave it to others to describe the "3000 ZMWs (waveguides)" and other techniques used. What caught my eye is a claim that "Company founder Stephen Turner estimates that such a chip would be able to sequence an entire human genome in under half an hour to 99.999 per cent accuracy for under $1000."

Forget 9 markers, forget 24 markers, forget 32 markers. These folks are talking about ALL the markers. Not only will this help identify ancestry, it also opens up all sorts of possibilities about identifying diseases and other inherited traits. If the price this year is to be $1,000, what will the price be ten years from now? Probably only a fraction of this year's price.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's Not What You Find, It's What You Do With It

We’ve come a long way technologically with family history research tools. Years ago locating a record sometimes meant many hours cranking away at a microfilm reader and often transcribing the record because there was no machine to print it out. Now, with many records, we can sit in the comfort of our homes and locate our ancestors with the click of a mouse. Another click prints a copy, and with another click we can attach it to our electronic family tree. Voila! We’re done.

Ah, not so fast. While I love the advances that technology has brought us, sometimes we’re a little too quick to attach the record to our tree and move on. That wonderful find is relegated to a kind of electronic purgatory where we never fully explore it.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that you’re getting the most from every find:

1. Transcribe it.While this might seem a bit tedious, the act of transcribing a record forces you to read and think about every element of the record. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can glean from a find when you examine it closely.

2. Put it in context. Create a chronology or timeline for all the records you’ve found on your ancestor and copy your transcription into that timeline. Seeing the information in the context of other information you have found can help you to estimate important dates and learn more about your ancestor.

3. Create an action or to-do list. While you’re plucking clues from your new find, ideas will pop into your head for follow-ups. Keep a to-do list open on your desktop and add these ideas as they come to you. That way you don’t risk forgetting about them, and the next time you get a chance to return to your research, you know exactly where to start.

4. Add it to your tree. O.K., if you haven’t already done it, now is a good time to click and add that record to your online tree and/or genealogical software. You may have to do this in more than one place if you maintain an online tree and another in a genealogical software program.

5. File a paper copy.I like to keep a paper copy of what I’ve found. When I’m looking for a new angle, I find that browsing through paper copies is helpful. Plus, when it comes to showing family what I’ve found, most people seem to respond better to browsing through a binder than clicking through electronic files on a computer.

6. Pat yourself on the back.With every record you find, you’re adding a piece to your family history puzzle. Take some time to appreciate each find and know that you’re doing your part to preserve your family’s place in history.

Have you perhaps been too hasty in dismissing a recent find? During these cold winter months venturing outdoors on slippery roads to do research isn’t very appealing. Winter is an ideal time to revisit what you’ve found and search for clues you may have missed the first time around and pursue new leads online.

****The above was taken from: The Ancestry Weekly Journal, and was written by Juliana Smith.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Finger of Blame

From "The Herald" in "jolly old England" comes the following regarding a Croftamie historian:

CROFTAMIE historian Sion Barrington gave a reading in Strachur concerning the Rev Ebenezer Erskine, tragically tasked centuries before with conducting his own wife's funeral.

The burial process was later disturbed by the unscrupulous sexton. He opened the unfortunate young woman's coffin, stealing her wedding ring by hacking off her finger with a knife - whereupon the "corpse" sat up, having merely been comatose, going on to recover completely.

One of Mrs Erskine's descendants was in Sion's audience, pointing out that the gravedigger had, in fact, severed her apparently-lifeless finger with his spade, the ring remaining a treasured Erskine family heirloom.

Out of politenesss, Sion refrained from asking about the finger.

[This was just too cute of a story NOT to include here!]


Macabre "Bopper" Item on eBay!

Rock 'n' roll's most macabre historical artifact will go on the block when the family of the late 1950s pop star J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson auctions his casket on eBay sometime in the next few weeks - almost 50 years after "the day the music died."

The Big Bopper's 16-gauge steel casket was exhumed last year from his original grave at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Beaumont so it could be moved to a more visible location with a life-sized statue and historic marker. The disinterment also offered forensic experts a chance - with his family's blessing - to examine the pop singer's unautopsied remains after his death in rock 'n' roll's first great tragedy.

On Feb. 3, 1959, Richardson died at age 28 in the crash of a small plane in a field near Clear Lake, Iowa, that also killed 1950s rock stars Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens and sent a shock wave around the world. The accident has since been immortalized as "the day the music died."
Richardson was buried a few days later in his Beaumont hometown with great fanfare, including tributes from Elvis Presley and others.

Jay Richardson, the Bopper's son, plans to sell the empty casket on eBay to raise money for a musical show about his father and to keep the Bopper's memory alive. Born three months after the crash, Jay, who lives in Katy, never met his father in life - but saw him for the first time at his exhumation.

"Wouldn't it be wonderful to bring Dad back to life?" Jay, 49, said recently from Canada, where he was touring with a tribute act to his father, Holly and Valens.

"I have no personal use for the casket," he said. "When you get down to it, it is just a metal box. More important is what this particular metal box represents.

"In another 200 years, will people care about rock 'n' roll?" Jay asks. "Who knows? But why would I want to destroy it? Even though it was Dad's resting place for 48 years, it's also a unique opportunity to learn more about the early years of rock 'n' roll."

The exhumed casket is in surprisingly good condition after 48 years in the muddy gumbo of Southeast Texas. It bears minor rust spots and a white lime stain showing where several inches of water once leaked into the surrounding vault, but there was no evidence water had ever seeped into the casket itself.

Inside, forensic examiners found the Big Bopper's well-preserved corpse, dressed in a black suit and a blue-and-gray striped tie. He wore socks, but no shoes. Most remarkably, his thick brown hair was still perfectly coiffed in his familiar, 1950s flat-top.

After the 2007 autopsy found he died of crash-related injuries, the Big Bopper was reburied in a sleek new casket donated by the Batesville Casket Co., which made the original. Since late last year, the old casket has been on public display at the Texas Musicians Museum in Hillsboro, Texas.

Tom Kreason, the museum's founder and a rock historian who has developed collections for the legendary Sun Records Museum in Memphis and the Hard Rock Cafe©, admits the casket is macabre but says it is a "priceless" artifact of a historic moment in music.

"We gave it a name. We called it 'the day the music died' and there's no title bestowed on any other tragic days since," Kreason said. "No one knew, then, what was being created. This (casket) is very symbolic of how we lost three incredible artists, but it's also a statement about what we've lost with many other artists, too."

The Big Bopper died right as he was hitting the big time. The happy-go-lucky Texas deejay in a leopard-skin jacket would sell a million records but never see a dime from his greatest hit, "Chantilly Lace," a two-minute 1959 novelty song that is both innocent and suggestive.

Richardson, who also wrote the George Jones hit, "White Lightning," was toying with an idea he had for a new kind of jukebox that would play short films of musicians playing their hits. He called them "music videos."

Kreason approached some auction houses about selling the casket, but "they all seemed confused," so he decided to reach for a wider audience on eBay, an Internet site without borders. The Texas Musicians Museum will receive an undisclosed share of the sale, he said.

How much could a used celebrity casket bring on the open market? A handful of memorabilia dealers shied away from guessing, largely because a used celebrity casket has never been offered for sale and morbid curiosity could quickly decompose into open protest.

In the past year, hundreds of visitors have seen the Big Bopper's casket at Kreason's museum, where it's displayed much as it appeared in a 1959 funeral home photo, along with a reproduction of a guitar-shaped wreath sent by Elvis Presley. Nobody has complained about the grim exhibit, but both Kreason and Richardson expect some protests when it hits eBay.

"Certainly there'll be some distaste, but I think this is a piece of history that is very special," Kreason said. "Even if it doesn't sell, we've made a point about the historical value of J.P. Richardson. No matter what happens, he wins, historically."

Taken from :Beaumont Enterprise" written as: "Big Bopper's casket a macabre marketable on e-bay"
December, 27, 2008