31 October 2006

St. Charles, Missouri--this weekend

I will be presenting the Family History workshop in the St. Charles, Missouri, area on 4 November 2006, Saturday. This all-day event is sponsored by the St. Charles County Genealogical Society and the St. Charles Community College. Registation is still possible and more information is on our website below:


Registration is very reasonable.


29 October 2006

Ancestry.com contests

Ancestry.com is having a sweepstakes and an offer for three free days of Ancestry.com. How much you can find in three days is a whole "nuther" story, but a trip would always be good. To enter the contest click below....you can always enter just for the three free days, or just start a free 14 day trial and not worry about the contest.

24 October 2006

Scheduling Workshops and Seminars

I'm scheduling genealogy workshops and seminars for 2007 and 2008. Lectures can be given on a wide variety of topics...my presentation style is relaxed and informative. I don't just read the handout!

A partial list of topics is posted on my site and my current speaking schedule includes dates that have already been booked and more current topics. New topics can be developed upon request, with adequate lead time.

If you are interested in having me present for your group, send me an email.


23 October 2006

Family History on QVC-Heraldry Items

Those who want their "coat of arms" and surname history can now get it instantly on QVC. Progress is wonderful.

You can pick whatever name you want. Heck, even make one up. It will let you purchase a coat of arms for the Idiot family (I tried but changed my mind when they asked for a credit card--after all, I'm no Idiot), but most of those "seven dirty words" are forbidden (ok, I tried a few of those too but I won't admit it to my kids).

If you've tired of overpriced jewelry and other knick-knacks......

I won't post the URL here...but clever websurfers can probably find it easy enough ;-)

(we'll return to real genealogy in a future post)

21 October 2006

1851 Canadian Census is coming

The first complete index for the 1851 Census for all of Canada will be available for searching on October 24, 2006 at Ancestry.com Join either Ancestry.com or Ancestry.ca to search for ancestors by name, and to view the images free from the release until the end of October. The database will only be free until the end of the month.


19 October 2006

Female Ancestors

Biology indicates that half of our ancestors are female. For those of us working in American records, a knowledge and understanding of the legal system is important.

There was a time when women could not own property, could not will property, could not be guardians for their children, etc. etc. In some cases, a failure to understand the law of the time may create brick walls that do not exist.

For example, my ancestor Sarah Turberville, left a will in Virginia in 1761, mentioning no real property. What? How can that be? The family had a farm, etc. etc. The reason is that in 1761 Virginia women could not own property in their own right...that is why.

We've posted more articles on searching for female ancestors on our site at:

And some of us might not have the same number of male and female ancestors, but that we'll leave that for a later post.

17 October 2006

SS5 forms

Anyone who has a social security number has an SS-5 form, the "application for Social Security and Tax Account Number" appears on the right.

I don't often get these. They are $27 from the Social Security Administration and are open to the public for anyone who is deceased. They are helpful when other records are not available or other records are confusing. The one on the right is for my wife's grandmother. It is one of the few I have...because in her case records were inconsistent.

Keep in mind that for more individuals these forms were filled out by the applicant themselves. That is usually not the case with death certificates and why in some situations these records provide information that is at odds with the death record.

More about SS5 forms can be located on our site at http://www.rootdig.com/ss5/


Reading those Latin Church Records

Records written in a foreign language are always a challenge. There are several thigns to keep in mind when working with records that are not in your native tongue.

  • Many church records can be translated using a handful of words.
  • Many church records follow boilerplate text.

For these reasons, word lists from the Family History Library (http://www.familysearch.com) are particularly effective. Also it is extremely helpful to copy all the register entries on the same page as the located entry and to find entries for all family members, not just your direct line.

A column of mine from the Ancestry Daily News, Catching Christening Clues: Belgian Baptismal Beginnings , discusses several entries I obtained from Belgium. The images themselves have been posted on my website for anyone who wants to try their hand at reading Latin (http://www.rootdig.com/stofferis/).


15 October 2006

Lectures for Friends of VA State Archives

Thanks to the Friends of the Virginia State Archives for inviting me to give their annual Richard Slatten lectures at the Library of Virginia this past weekend. It was great to be at the library and I hope the attendees enjoyed the seminar as much as I did presenting it. I also appreciated the Southern hospitality and only wish I had more time to utilize the library's wonderful collection and absorb more of Richmond's history.

The workshop was held at the Library of Virginia, home to an excellent collection of Virginia archival materials. http://www.lva.lib.va.us/


Computer workshop-Using Ancestry.com

There is still room in the "Using Ancestry.com" workshop being sponsored on 21 October at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Attendees will have access to Ancestry for the duration of the workshop and all will have their own computer to use. For more information or to register, visit our page with details.



09 October 2006

Spokane Seminar

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the Spokane seminar as much as I did this past weekend. The committee from the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society did an excellent job from my perspective and hats off to them for all their work and preparation. Hopefully everyone enjoyed their doorprizes as much as I enjoyed putting the winning numbers on the screen ;-)

The website for ordering materials will have additional links added to today. That link should be in your handout.

The URL for the Missouri Death Certificates is:
They are still working on it, but those who have people in this place during the time period of the records should give it a go.

If there are other URLs or links that you need from the seminar, please let me know mjnrootdig@gmail.com and I'll send them to you privately or post them here for others to use as well.

Thanks for having me as your speaker. Spokane is certainly a beautiful city and the short tour I got Saturday night from Donna Potter Philips was greatly appreciated. It's clear she loves Spokane and knows a great deal about its history as well.


Here is a link to the book I mentioned during the lecture, Prairie Patrinomy. The link is at Amazon...you don't have to get it there, but that will give you enough bibliographic information to either interlibrary loan or purchase it as is your pleasure.

Links mentioned that weren't in handout:
World Connect http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com
Mailing Lists at Rootsweb http://lists.rootsweb.com
Message Boards at Ancestry http://boards.ancestry.com

04 October 2006

FGS Boston Conference Recordings Now Available

For those who have been waiting, many of the conference sessions from the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2006 Boston conference can be downloaded online for a nominal charge. The FGS Board and the conference committee is hoping this is a way that we can share the conference information with those who were unable to attend.

Individual sessions can be downloaded for just $1.99. Special packages of 15 sessions are available for $25 – a discount of 17% off the usual price. Once you download the sessions you can listen to them on your computer, iPod or other MP3 player. Visit www.lulu.com/fgs2006 to download your sessions now. If you have any problems or questions about downloading, please contact the FGS office at fgs-office@fgs.org .

My searching lecture is

and my UFO Ancestor lecture is

FGS Board Member

03 October 2006

Migration Chains

Genealogists who focus too much on migration trails might overlook what usually is more important in my opinion: migration chains.

If your ancestor moved from point A to point B, what brought him there? Determing the likely reason lead to new research opportunities. Of my numerous immigrant ancestors in the 1840-1885 era, I thought I only had one who came "alone." Turns out they didn't come alone after all---I just missed the links because the links. The connection was not obvious and involved several degrees of "in-laws." All of my immigrant ancestors during this period (nearly a dozen families) immigrated to where they had family or relatives. Keep looking...there's probably a connection somewhere.

Readers of the Ancestry World Journal will see my story on this migration chain in an upcoming edition.

And if anyone knows what caused August Mortier to be one of the earliest Belgians to settle in Moline/Rock Island, Illinois (they arrived in 1880 which was a decade before significant numbers came to the Quad Cities)...let me know. I have several Mortier descendants living in my house, but am not one myself ;-).


Me at NGS-Chicago

I'm a little tired in this picture...but someone asked me for a recent one and it is the most current that I have. Juliana Smith (of Ancestry.com) snapped it at NGS in Chicago in June (I'm probably working on two hours of sleep...) . At every conference...she's got that darned camera ;-).

Spokane and Richmond

This weekend, I'm off to Spokane, Washington, for a workshop for the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society on 7 October.

The following weekend, I'm in Richmond, Virginia, for a workshop at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. Anyone who is interested can email me and I can put you in contact for more information.