28 August 2007

Places in FTM 2008

The places feature in Family Tree Maker 2008 is really neat. It has been interesting using it for some Chicago, Illinois, locations. Just be careful. The location is gave me for Bowling Township, Rock Island County, Illinois was actually Bowlesburg School in Silvis. Oops.

The places are worldwide and I've really had fun using the place feature in Family Tree Maker 2008 for locations in Europe as well. Neat.

FTM2008 Suggests I not use the word "county"

In the help on place names, Family Tree Maker 2008 is suggesting that I not use the word "county" in any of my place names. Instead, it is suggesting that I use "Cook, Illinois" instead of "Cook County, Illinois." I'm going to continue using using words like "County" and "Township" as a part of my placenames.


Because it adds clarity is why.

I entered my own birth place in FTM as "Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois." FTM's suggestion was "Carthage, Hancock, Illinois."

However, when I entered my grandmother's place of death "Prairie Township, Hancock County, Illinois" FTM suggested "Prairie City, Hancock, Illinois." If there is a Prairie City in Hancock County, I have never heard of it and am curious as to where it is. Actually many of my relatives were born and died in Prairie Township and that is what I am entering in my database.

Family Tree Maker 2008 has never heard of Harmony Township in Hancock County, either. It suggested "Harmony, Hancock, Illinois." Frankly I think this implies that there is a village in Hancock named Harmony and it also implies more precision for a location than I may have. I intend also for those rural vital events where I only have a township name to include the word "township" as a part of the place name.

Family Tree Maker 2008 couldn't find Northeast Township in Adams County, Illinois---it's right there in the northeast corner of the county. It wasn't too keene on Keene Township in Adams County either, again insisting on dropping the "township" part of the place name.

If you think about it for a minute, whenever one refers to a county in the United States, the word "county" is a part of the name. I was born in Hancock County. I live in Knox County. One would rarely hear someone say "I was born in Hancock." Or maybe I'm just not listening closely.

I understand the theory behind the place name concept in FTM 2008. But I've had enough theory myself to know that practice is different.

Family Tree Maker 2008 suggests "Des Moines, Iowa" as the location when I enter in "Des Moines County, Iowa." How many people will know that (in FTM 2008) "Des Moines, Iowa" refers to the COUNTY of Des Moines (along the Mississippi River) and not the CITY of Des Moines (located more centrally within the state)?

I will continue to enter as much precision into my locations as necessary and will continue to use the words "county" and "township." I wish FTM's list of place names had done the same.

Family Tree Maker 2008

I received my copy of Family Tree Maker 2008 yesterday. It is installed and we'll be posting my experiences with it here over time. The new interface looks fairly slick and those who are familiar with the old interface will have some adjusting to do. Many of the features have been re-arranged, it is a matter of finding where things have been put. No strong opinion here yet, but there are still things I do with a word processor or on paper.

And if there is a program out there that will let me print a relationship chart for just ten-fifteen people of my choosing, I'd like to hear about it. Not a family of ten, but ten people I have specifically picked.

22 August 2007

Sharing 14 out of 16 great-great-grandparents

One of my Grandpa Neill's few remaining cousins passed away last week. What is interesting is how many great-great-grandparents they shared: 14 out of 16.

First cousins normally share 8 out of the 16 great-great grandparents. This cousin and my Grandpa were not just first cousins. They were also second cousins and they were also third cousins.

Grandpa Neill (Cecil Neill 1903-1968) was the son of Charles and Fannie (Rampley) Neill.
Edna Dion (1914-2007) was the daughter of James E. and Sarah (Neill) Rampley.

Charles Neill and Sarah Neill were brother and sister.
Fannie Rampley and James E. Rampley were first cousins, children of brothers Riley and James Rampley.

But there is one more connection.
Brothers Riley and James Rampley both married Nancy Newman, just not the same one. Riley married Nancy J. Newman, James married Nancy E. Newman. Nancy J. was the daughter of William Newman. Nancy E. was the daughter of Edward Newman. These two Newman men were brothers. I can keep it straight, but explaining it sometimes is difficult.

When one looks at their great-great-grandparents on a five-generation chart, 14 out of the sixteen names are the same. Only one set of great-great-grandparents are different. Now that is related.

Spying ca. 1900

I had a relative who left the country ca. 1900 due to an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Colorado. He was known to have been in Cuba, Columbia, and possibly other areas south of the United States border as well.

Future blog posts and Ancestry World Journal articles will discuss this relative in more detail, but a summary of an investigation into his whereabouts indicates that the postmaster in North Platte, Nebraska, where his sister listed, was monitoring her mail for letters from out of state that had handwriting similar to the missing brother. The letters were not opened, but information from the envelope was forwarded to investigators. Stay tuned as we learn more about this relative's involvement in Cuban stamp fraud and the Battle of Santiago.

Google Search Snags Footnote Reference

I don't know if it works in all cases, but it did for me at least once.

A search on google for Alaim Blain brought up several results, one of which was a Revolutionary Service card on Footnote.com. Now, I'm not certain if every annotation or name on Footnote.com will come up under a Google search, but it appears as if some aspects of their database will be returned as search results from Google. Neat.

The "Information about this document" comes from the Footnote.com website which came up after clicking on my results page.

A screen picture of part of the compiled service record completes this post.

Of course, I should have searched for Alaim on Footnote.com anyway, but just had not gotten around to it and was searching in an attempt to find other web pages with information on him.

21 August 2007

What is FGS?

Over 1,000 genealogists attended the FGS conference in Ft. Wayne, Indiana last week. More have heard of FGS, but how many really know what FGS is and what the goals of FGS are?

FGS stands for the Federation of Genealogical Societies and its overridding goal is to support genealogical societies in their work for genealogy. Genealogical societies provide services to their members via newsletters, websites, publications, workshops, and the like. Societies are often in the forefront of local records preservation and access (or they should be).

FGS exists to support these societies in their mission of serving their members, both those members that live in the local area and those that live a distance away. One day of each FGS conference is devoted to society management so that officers can better serve their society, reinvigorate their society, encourage the volunteers they already have and motivate additional individuals to volunteer for the society. FGS is also a way for society officers to network with others to share ideas and techniques.

Individuals do not join FGS; societies join FGS. Membership dues are based upon the size of the society, with smaller societies paying lower fees than larger ones. Each member society appoints one delegate who serves as a conduit between the member society and FGS. Delegates elect members of the FGS Board.

FGS also publishes papers on a variety of genealogical society management topics, from working on a newsletter to handling volunteers. These are all written by experienced genealogical society members who want to share their knowledge with other societies in order to help them thrive and grow...one of the goals of FGS.

To learn more about FGS and the services it could offer your society, visit it on the web at www.fgs.org. More about society membership can be seen here.

Genealogical Computing Week--Galesburg, Illinois March 2008

We have set the dates for our tenth annual Genealogical Computing Week at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois.

The dates are 3 March 2008-8 March 2008.

Please mark your calendars. We are setting topics over the next few weeks and are open to suggestions. Suggestions can be sent to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com. Requests to be put on our mailing lists can be sent to me at mneill@sandburg.edu.

Galesburg is home to the birthplace of Carl Sandburg, near Bishop Hill, and within driving distance of the Swenson Research Center on the campus of Augustana College. We're easily accessible via interstate or Amtrak. All attendees have a computer to use for the duration of the workshop. To see what we offered in 2007, check out our site http://www.rootdig.com/sandburg.html

Our registration fee will remain at $35 per day and there are relatively inexpensive motels nearby. Mark your calendars!

20 August 2007

Records Preservation and Access Committee

The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) is a joint committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies & the National Genealogical Society. The mission of the Committee is:

"To advise the genealogical community on ensuring proper access to historical records of genealogical value in whatever media they are recorded, on means to affect legislation, and on supporting strong records preservation policies and practices."

Staying on top of records preservation and access issues is crucial to present-day and future genealogists.

The RPAC has created a web page where records preservation and access issues can be submitted to the committee and individual state reporters so that the genealogical public can be made aware of these issues. The RPAC has created a blog to help keep the genealogical public informed. The Committee though needs the help of genealogists in the field to learn about new issues as they arise.

For more about the RPAC or to view their blog, visit http://www.fgs.org/rpac/

Keeping our head in the sand only gets sand in our mouth.....

FGS 2007 is over

FGS 2007 in Ft. Wayne is over, but plans are well underway for FGS 2008 in Philadelphia.

I enjoyed meeting genealogy friends and aquaintances in Ft. Wayne, including a few people I had known online for years, but never met face to face.

If you've never attended an FGS Conference, consider doing so in September of 2008. Even those of us who do a significant amount of our genealogy "online" still benefit by networking with others face-to-face and attending lectures.

As a member of the FGS Board up for re-election, I'm also interested in hearing your thoughts on the conference if you attended (mjnrootdig@gmail.com) We are always looking for ways to enhance the conference experience for attendees.

18 August 2007

Virgil White's Revolutionary Abstracts versus Footnote.com

Virgil White published a wonderful collection Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files in 1990 (the National Historical Publishing Company, Waynesboro, Tennessee). However, even if you have used these abstracts, you still need to search the Revolutionary War pension images that are being added to the database at Footnote.com.
I reviewed White's abstract for the pension of Elam/Alam Blain. The abstract mentions widow Catharine and daughter Polly, but does not mention the individuals who provided affidavits or the fact that one of the affidavits was given by a son-in-law. I originally thought I had never looked in White for the "correct" spelling of Wickiser, but now realize that I had not overlooked it. White's compilation is wonderful, but users should be aware that due to limitations of time, he was unable to include every reference in his work. Had I only used White's Abstracts, I would have not located the Wickiser reference and not learned the maiden name of Catherine Wickiser.

17 August 2007

Chicago Ancestors dot org

Organizing information geographically is an excellent genealogical tool. For those with Chicago area ancestors a new piece of equipment in this toolbox has just been developed.
The Newberry Library is demonstrating a new website at the Federation of Genealogical Societies' conference in Ft. Wayne. I had the pleasure of seeing a quick demonstration of the at the library's booth just a few minutes ago. Rarely am I so excited as I am about this site. Chicagoancestors.org allows users to enter in an address, obtain google maps and see nearby churches and other items of genealogical interest.

The screen picture shows just part of my results for 339 Kensington Avenue, where my wife's great-grandmother was living when she was divorced in 1921. The church where her father married his second wife is shown (Elim Lutheran) as well as the church where she had her children baptized and where she married her second husband (Holy Rosary). The website even indicates if the Family History Library has microfilmed the church's records and the film numbers for those films. Wow.

Part of the screen I obtained when clicking on Holy Rosary is shown in this image.

Chicagoancestors.org gives users the ability of entering a Chicago address and learning about some resources located near that location. The site is still in development, but at this point one can see nearby Catholic and Lutheran churches, some homicides, some yearbooks, and more.

This site is still in development and staffers tell more additions are in the works.

16 August 2007

At FGS in Ft. Wayne

I'll be at the annual Federation of Genealogical Societies' annual conference in Ft. Wayne Friday and Saturday. If you are a regular reader of the articles in the Ancestry.com blog, feel free to stop by after one of my lectures and say "hello."

I'll be lecturing Friday on:
  • 100 Acres, a Mortgage and 3 Sisters
  • Illinois Research

And Saturday on:

  • Math for Genealogists
  • Finding UFO Ancestors

We are still accepting registrations for the conference at the door.....

09 August 2007

Ancestry.com Blog Article on Getting Katherine

Ancestry's Blog published my article on making certain I had the correct Katherine in a Revolutionary Pension. Unfortunately, the link to the sample pension images was inadvertantly omitted. Those wanting to view the images from the Blain pension can do so here. We are working on a follow up article for an upcoming Blog posting.

05 August 2007

Missouri State Genealogical Association Conference

I returned home today from the annual Missouri State Genealogical Association Conference in Jefferson City, Missouri, where I gave three lectures and gave the Friday evening banquet talk. The only problem with the banquet speech is now that everyone knows I descend from a few individuals who spent a great deal of their time in the courthouse and in the newspaper (well not actually "in" the newspaper, but you know what I mean).

It was a great conference and I hope the presentations went over well. I picked a few Missouri examples from my own research for illustrations where I could. This was very fortunate as after I was done lecturing, a lady approached me and indicated she was a descendant of Nancy Lake Linebaugh of Chariton County, Missouri. Nancy's brother was Granville Lake (1863-1946), my wife's great-grandfather. Hopefully we'll be able to share information and I was very glad I had used a few Lake examples in my lectures.

Unfortunately I was not able to spend too much time in the Missouri State Archives, but the walk I did around the capitol area Saturday morning was very enjoyable and picturesque. Of course, I am used to a little flatter terrain, but I managed ;-)

Footnote's Use of ACPL material

Like many others, I was excited to see the announcement that Footnote.com will be adding material from the Allen County Public Library's collection to their online set of data and images. I'm a big fan of footnote.com, it's collection, and it's interface.

However, I was disappointed that the press release was non-specific in terms of the materials that were being digitized. Most of the articles I could find regarding the agreement were pretty much cut and paste jobs of the same press release, even several of those on genealogy blogs or news sites. The older I get, the more frustrated I get with sites (and newspapers) that simply cut and paste a press release and call it news.

Of course, most of the library's holdings are still under copyright and my guess is that the majority of what will be digitized will be material from the early twentieth century and before. But that's only a guess. Which is all we have until specifics are released.

Regardless, Footnote.com has some really neat stuff and I have made good use of the site in my own research.

03 August 2007

Reminder about Revolutionary Pensions at Footnote

Just a reminder that the Revolutionary War Pensions being posted at
Footnote.com are being posted as they are completed. As this is written, that is about 53%. Their search capabilities are really neat and I'm anxiously awaiting for the completion of Tennessee and a few other states.