Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Finding Living People in One Step

In an earlier post Mike mentioned using ZabaSearch to track down his cousins with whom he had not had contact in decades. A DNA clone of mine [a story for another time] in Florida just emailed me a tip about a search engine that is much more comprehensive. pipl bills itself as "The most comprehensive people search on the web"; and that may be a credible claim. Check it out. Click on the link "What's so different about pipl?" pipl yourself. It's a little bit scary what you will find. Then find all your missing living relatives!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I am back home and scheduling computer skills classes

I am back home and have notified the 4 people whose computer skills class I had to cancel last week.  I have sent emails to all of them and hope to have a class on Friday 4/2 and Monday 4/5 both at 1pm.  Any takers?  Be sure to check out the computer skills blog at Computer Skills Blog  .

Monday, March 29, 2010

Genealogy Society Meeting Saturday in San Luis Obispo

Sharon's post gives me an opening to invite everyone to our local SLO County Genealogy Society meeting this Saturday. We should have an interesting speaker. Learning from Christine Rose will be a new experience for me. For more information about the location of the meeting, this week's topics and other information, click on the link to the upcoming meetings of our Society website:

You do not have to be a member to attend.

Join the local Genealogical Society

2 weeks ago I mailed membership checks to the Chicago GS and the Lake County GS in Illinois. Yesterday I was googling some old family addresses in Chicago and found the house that my parents and sister lived in just before I was born - for sale $90,000 with pictures and a few details. I'm hoping to "visit" some of these places when I go to Chicago in June. With google I could "travel" down the street and find my way to the closest Metra station (4 blocks away). My plan is to take public transportation (my hotel is in The Loop), but I'm concerned about personal safety.

So, this morning before I even had a chance to eat breakfast, I get a phone call from the membership chairman of the Chicago GS. I ask her if the Beverly neighborhood is a safe place to walk. She replies - "I have a good friend who lives on S. Charles St in the 9900's block". I said my family house was 9938 S. Charles - small world. She then offered to pick me up and drive me so she could visit her friend. She also is giving my contact info to her friend. Wow!

Sharon M

Sunday, March 28, 2010

If Anyone is in the SF/Oakland Area

If any of you class mates are ever in the SF/Oakland area with some time to spend on research, I have been very successful with the following locations mostly specific to SF/Oakland.

The California Genealogical Society and Library in downtown Oakland is a great place to get info about the city and people. They have the actual city directories dating back to the 1800's and I was able to determine from them when my family actually changed their name from Madsen to Mathiesen, they also have the city voting registers which helped as well to pin it down. Another valuable to me research tool was the SF Chronicle newspaper on microfilm which helped me find an article about my Great Grandfather.

The staff is helpful but also lets you alone if that is your wish. They charge $5 for non members to use the library and they have the usual computer stations with access to various data bases. Saturday is the best time to go as parking in the lot across the street is free or it used to be. The building in which the library is housed is the restored Breuners Dept. store which is an art/deco structure. I remember it well as a child growing up in Oakland . The library is in the basement but it is still a great place to visit, check out their web site.

The next place that has been a real research bonanza for me is the SF Maritime Museum Library (J.Porter Shaw Library) located at historic Fort Mason on the SF Bay near Fisherman's Wharf follow the link to the library. You have to call in advance to make an appointment and the whole sequence of events leading up to actually getting an appointment is a little eerie ( who are you, what do you want?) which I attribute to the librarians spending way to much time indoors with their heads in books, but it is well worth it if you get in.....anything you want to know about SF Bay you will probably find out here. I found info about my Great Gandfather and and the ferryboat on which he was a skipper in the Bay, great stuff. Also an easy walk from Fisherman's Wharf or free parking in the Safeway lot across the street.

This only scratches the surface of research possibilities in the Bay Area, but I believe if anyone has research needs specific to this area, it would be a great start.

Good luck all!

Ted Mathiesen

Wing Family From Yesterday's Inbox

From: Raymond Wing (Wing Genealogist)

Subject: Wing Family

I am the Genealogist for the Wing Family of America, Inc. [WFA] I noticed your profile stated you descend from the Wings.
I was able to trace the surnames down to Joseph Large & Deborah Dungan.
You can view what the WFA has on this family online at:
I am definitely interested in learning more about your lineage from this family.

Raymond T. Wing
Genealogist, Wing Family of America, Inc. [WFA]

Wow! Wing Family of America, Inc! ;-)

My Wing family connection goes back to Plymouth Colony in the 17th Century and back to England; but for a while I had my doubts. In 2003 I set about to verify the “harvested” information I had found on this branch of my family tree. The first curiosity I encountered was that my reported ancestor Daniel Wing (b. abt 1616) seemed to have died twice—about four decades apart. Ok, there must really have been two consecutive generations of Daniels. No big deal. Happens all the time. One estate was probated about 1659 and the other in 1698. Well, my ancestress, Deborah Wing was reported to have been born in late 1660 so she would have to be the daughter of the younger Daniel. Right? Stay tuned the fun is only beginning.

Couldn’t find the birth, or life for that matter, for two Daniels who would be old enough. Deborah’s brother, Daniel, was younger than she was. So while he could have had a probate in the 1690s he could not be Deborah’s father.

Another problem. The only Deborah Wing listed in the Sandwich town birth records was born in 1648 and died about a decade later. In addition, Deborah was not listed in the distribution of either estate. I was definitely beginning to doubt my connection. But wait. I was researching this at the Family History Center so there were lots of records to consult from family association newsletters to printed histories as well as the afore mentioned town records.

Turns out Daniel was a Quaker who was not always warmly received in Puritan Plymouth Colony. He only died once physically but he died twice legally. In the 1650s Daniel was constantly being fined for refusing, on religious grounds, to signing various oaths of allegiance. The fines started to mount up to the point where it jeopardized his estate and his ability to support his large family. One of Daniel’s brother’s stepped in and invoked, on Daniel’s behalf, a obscure provision of British law that was a forerunner of our current bankruptcy rules. Daniel’s estate was “probated” and his assets distributed to his children so that their support would not become a burden on the community for their support. Thus, the first “probate” event is accounted for.

It appears that a consequence of this was that Daniel was considered legally dead and essentially a non-person for a time. At least when Deborah was born a year or two later she does not appear to be listed in the meticulous town records where all the other Wing children were listed. Only when I finally found Quaker records of Sandwich births did I find a record of her birth. She was not however included in the second probate process about 4 decades latter. A number of possible reasons are:
1. She had already received a portion of Daniel’s estate;
2. Her stepmother steered the estate to the children of the second marriage;
3. There was a rift between Deborah and her father as the result of her moving to Rhode Island and marrying a Baptist;
4. Daniel had lost track of Deborah since by the time of his death, she and her husband had moved further away and founded the first Baptist church in the state of Pennsylvania.

So much for religious freedom and tolerance in North America.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

An "Inbox Genealogist"

Guess I have never thought of myself this way before, but I’m probably an “Inbox Genealogist”. A good part of my genealogy research each day is determined by what I find in my email that morning.

A couple of days ago it was a note from a client who forwarded a message from her cousin:
“Hey, I wanted to let you know that I found some information that validates the findings of your genealogist regarding Harry Mxxxx’s father, Thomas R.C. Mxxxx having come from England via Scotland via Braintree Mass. via Nova Scotia and NOT being Irish. I found a page that has this information from the 1930 Census:
“1930 Census list Harry C. Mxxxx in Porterville, Tulare, CA as a 59 year old white male born in IL father born in Nova Scotia mother born in Ireland occupation Farmer General Farm”

“SO, I was wrong about Harry Mxxxx’s dad being Irish, but he WAS Irish through his mother. Harry’s mother’s maiden name was Harriet Bxxxx. This validates the family tradition that we came from County Clare, Ireland, although no definite link there exists. I had heard that Grandma Fannye said that we were related to Anne Boleyn (but the Boleyns were decidedly English with no record of an Irish connection), and I wonder if this is based on fact or simply on the similarity of the names.”

My client wanted to know, “Any truth to that rumor?”

So I went back and checked the 1930 Census record and her cousin had correctly interpreted the record. It said Mxxxx’s mother was born in Ireland. So did the 1920 Census record. However, whoever answered the census taker in 1910 and 1900 at Harry’s residence, said that his mother was born in Ohio. So, who do you believe?
Well, I’ve found mom in the 1860, 1870 and 1880 Censuses. In each case she was reported as having been born in Ohio. In addition grandpa was reported to have been born in Pennsylvania and grandma in Virginia.

I don't have nearly enough information to validate or discredit the Boleyn tale. However, I believe I have more than enough information to report to my client that if there are Irish ancestors in this line, they are a few generations further back than her great-great-grandmother.

I guess this is another validation of Dr D's rule-of-thumb, "When you see the same thing in THREE consecutive censuses, you can start to believe it."

Let's see, what else in in my Inbox?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Early Virginia Ancestral Lines

My own current activities in 17th Century Virginia are a mixture of “harvesting” and verification. “Harvesting” is collecting the pedigree charts that have been posted by other family historians. While these can give one a sense of direction, they vary greatly in reliability. I started my most recent round of collecting information on the families I thought I descended from in early Virginia last summer in Salt Lake City at the Family History Center Library. I continued in January at the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) Library in Boston. This latter institution is sometimes called “HistGen” by insiders. Sarah Jessica Parker visited this library in the first episode of WDYTYA as she began to move back her line to her Salem witch. I have continued to add information to my piles from Internet searches for pedigree charts, family focused forum such as those found on GenForum, and sites about early Virginia.

Now I am trying to organize and evaluate the piles of data and perhaps create a priority research “to do” list for a June trip that will take me to the DAR Library in DC and possibly the Library of Virginia in Richmond.

So far I have convinced myself of the following, at least until I can disprove these hypotheses:
1. I had a European ancestor in North America prior to the arrival of the Mayflower;
2. Thomas Jefferson was a third cousin-eight times removed. Perhaps this explains my fascination with Jefferson and Monticello. However it is more likely this fascination grew out of the tales told by of a high school history teacher who waxed so reverently in talking about Tom that she made us wonder if she used to date him; and
3. King Henry I, of England (abt. 1068-1135) is my 30th great-grandfather.
Of these three “finds”, the cousin connection to Jefferson and the biological link back to Henry seem to be pretty well documented. The links in my connection to Thomas Farmer who arrived in Jamestown in October 1616 seem to be credible but I continue to look for more solid documentation.

One other connection that is somewhere between fantasy and possibly true is a biological connection to John Clark(e) who was pilot of the Mayflower. Clarke Island in Plymouth Bay is said to be named for him. He made several voyages across the Atlantic prior to his death in the early 1620s in Jamestown where he had apparently decided to settle. I may never know if he was one of my ancestors. His line of descent is still much debated.

1st Posting - AG Genealogy Library

As requested by Dr. D, thought I'd better get on the ball and start sharing.

First up is progress on the Arroyo Grande Genealogy Library progress. We're almost done cataloging all the books and getting them in a data base on the computer! Just a few more categories left then we're done! When complete, the shelf list will be accessible online at the SLOCGS website. Currently the old list from 2007 is there.
(The current shelf list for the SLO branch is on the website.)
We have organized the AG list into smaller groups & have assigned subject categories so searching for particular topics should be easier.

One thing we have learned, though, is that we are quite lacking in many areas. For some states we have no books at all and for others there's less than 5 items. Our international section is also very, very thin. So if anyone has any material that they are finished with and would like to donate it to the AG Library, we would gladly accept it! No sense in cluttering up your home. Plus, if you ever need to use it again, you know where it is!

We've also wondered about the days & hours that the AG Gen Library is open. Traditionally, it's been open on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 1pm - 4pm. Would there be any interest in this library being open during any other days or times? This library is the only genealogy library between Santa Maria & San Luis Obispo so we don't know if people would rather go to the larger libraries or stay local & possibly get some help but not as much resources.

We have met some quite interesting people in the library! One was a direct descendant of John Price. And yesterday a man came in looking for info on his great grandfather who had lived in Pozo, which was originally call San Jose.

Well, that's all for my first post. Hope to see some new faces at the AG Genealogy Library!

Free Parts of

I just discovered a website that has many resources for genealogists. One of them is a portal to databases on The site is GenealogyBuff. If you go to, you will find a hyperlinked list of 200 or so databases that are, at least for now, free at Ancestry.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Deadly Days in Early Virginia

Virginia Colony did not get off to a good start. Many of the earliest colonists “we could call gentlemen-adventurers, ‘whose breeding,’ a contemporary said, ‘never knew what a day's labour meant.’ These were men, often lesser scions of nobility, with no future in overpopulated England, [who] didn't know how to farm, didn't know how to hunt, and--possibly feeling betrayed by the Virginia Company's promises, and lacking any land of their own--were not known for their spirit of cooperation either among themselves, nor with the local Indians.” [A Brief History of Jamestown,]

The survival rate of the early settlers was not much different than that of their documents described in yesterday’s post. “Out of fourteen thousand person imported to Virginia but one thousand two hundred and fifty-eight survived at the time of the massacre in 1622. The mortality rate was horrendous. Peter De Vries visited Virginia in 1632, and wrote of the climate that 'during the months of June, July and August it was very unhealthy, that their people who have then lately arrived from England, die, during these months, like cats and dogs, whence they call it the sickly season.’”[Bowman, James Lesley, Ancestors of James Leslie Bowman,

Conditions were so grim in the early days that the tale is told that the survivors piled themselves and their possessions on to an arriving ship and headed down river. Allegedly this total abandonment of the colony was only averted by the dramatic and fortuitous arrival, at that moment, of three ships with provisions and new colonists. Whether the fleet arrival was that dramatic or not, think for a minute how tenuous was the thread that perhaps determined that those in what is now the southern US would end up speaking English and not Spanish.

One consequence of this high mortality rate was that “multiple marriages for the survivors was the norm in Virginia. This was a genealogical bottleneck, a chokepoint where the choice of partners narrowed tremendously, and where through marriage and survivorship there was a possibility of tremendous upward social mobility. Through cousinage and the commonality of multiple marriages the older families of Virginia are incredibly intertwined and linked.... Virginia about 1700 had a relatively small population which was formed into an interlocked society which resembled a huge extended family where, although there were definite social stratii, everybody was likely to be related or socially connected in some fashion by blood or marriage.” [Bowman]

I’ll share what I am learning about my own Virginia ancestry tomorrow.

Matthew Broderick Featured on Who Do You Think You Are Friday Night

Matthew Broderick will be featured tomorrow night at 8 Pacific on WDYTYA? on NBC. His quest will take him back to the Civil War and Gettysburg and beyond.

How are you enjoying this series? Please post your mini-reviews!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

17th Century Virginia Research

My major genealogical activity this week is to try to stitch together my 17th Century Virginia ancestry. Those of us who have New England colonial ancestors are spoiled. Most of the early towns there kept meticulous records and most of them have survived more or less intact. Virginia, in the first century of settlement was a colony of a different color--genealogically speaking. Few of the records of the first half century--if they were kept--have survived and the second half century is only marginally better.

The Library of Virginia divides early Virginia county research into three categories:

"Several Virginia counties, most of them in the eastern part of the state, have suffered tremendous loss of their early records during the intense military activity that occurred during the Civil War, and others lost records in fires. At some point, almost everyone conducting genealogical or historical research will face the problem of finding information from a so-called "Burned Record county." Burned record counties might be grouped into three basic categories: Hopeless, Almost Hopeless, and Difficult. Included in the Hopeless category are James City, New Kent, Buckingham, Nansemond, Dinwiddie (before 1782), Appomattox, Buchanan, King and Queen, Warwick, and Henrico (before 1677). Almost Hopeless are Hanover, Prince George, Elizabeth City, and Gloucester. Difficult counties are Caroline, Charles City, King William, Mathews, Prince William, Stafford, Rockingham, and Nottoway."

Unfortunately many of my early Virginia ancestors spent some of the 17th Century in one or more of the "hopeless" counties. In particular:

"Henrico: created in 1634 as an original shire, all county court records prior to 1655 and almost all prior to 1677 are missing; additionally, many isolated records were destroyed during the Revolutionary War, and almost all Circuit Court records were destroyed by fire in Richmond on 3 April 1865."

When I encountered this situation a dozen or so years ago, I made a half-hearted attempt to verify the myth that my ancestress, Ann Farmer who was born in 1728, had an immigrant ancestor who came to Jamestown before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth. I was able to find that a Thomas Farmer did arrive in Jamestown in October, 1616 aboard the Tryall. However, whether or how Ann may have descended from him was beyond the records I could then find. I stitched together a possible connecting line. However, I was not very comfortable with it. I guess my ancestors were not yet ready to reveal themselves.

Recently I have been collecting data from the Internet and from printed sources in libraries. I am now trying to stitch it together. More on this effort tomorrow as the process continues.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mike's Family History Fieldtrip

You never know what knowledge will be useful to you as you try to trace down your family members. Who would ever have thought it would be knowledge of fruit? Mike describes how he planned a family research trip on which he is about to embark:

"I am prepping for a trip to N. Ca and into Oregon and Washington. In Washington, I will be visiting at least 2 of 3 first cousins I've not seen in 55 years. I started looking for them in one of Dave's first classes when I learned about ZABASEARCH and Google-Maps; 2 of the 3 had relatively common first names, and I only knew the third as "Buddy" and the searches never revealed a Buddy. Finally, my aunt in Santa Maria revealed that he and his wife always sent her a box of fruit (apples and pears), and she thought his real name was "Merrill". So, I sat and figured the only area that coincides with apples and pears simultaneously is the north west USA so I narrowed things down and finally found Merrill in Vancouver WA. He told me his next younger brother Bob, also lived there in Vancouver, and the youngest lives in Great Falls, Montana and may be able to get to WA, so I am planning to have a nice reunion."

"These cousins I am going to visit apparently visited with my father's half sister in Fresno, although he did not know of her until about 1950 or so; she was the child of my dad's father and some other woman after my dad's mother tossed him out for fooling around with her "best friend" shortly after 1910. Aunt Ruth died in Fresno about 10 years ago and I have not yet tracked her death certificate down to get the name of the woman who was her mother (my grandfather's second wife or mistress); the clan appears to have been very secretive about who did what with whom and there is little written that I have found. So far, nothing about grandfather after the 1910 census, and a pointer to his death shortly before 1920. I am hoping the cousins may have some info that their father (my dad's brother ) maintained and perhaps I can get more family links confirmed."

Check back in a couple of weeks for an update on Mike's quest in the Northwest.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Denise's Class

It was very enjoyable with a great view. I learned alot and now need to practice. Thanks.

Denise's hilltop class

This has been the coolest class!! Thank you thank you Denise!!!

Thanks Denise

I'm sitting at Dave and Denise's kitchen table with Janet W. and Helen looking out at the beautiful Morro Bay coastline. Denise has just spent a couple of hours giving us wonderful advice for using our computers with genealogy. I can't thank her enough as she answered questions I keep having. She's a great teacher. I think I will use my flash drive easier, move pictures around and organize easier, figured out my problem using Google Earth, and shortcuts doing everything.

Lisa Kudrow is Focus of WDYTYA Friday Night

Lisa Kudrow is the focus of tomorrow's episode of WDYTYA. Lisa, of Friends fame, rides an emotional roller coaster as she explores the impact of the Holocaust on her family. Is there a happy ending?

There is at least one instance of anecdotal evidence that WDYTYA is appealing to a younger audience. John Roose, posted the following to the listserv of the International Society of Genetic Genealogists (ISOGG):

"WDYTYA has proven very powerful in recruiting future genealogists! I have three grown children and only the youngest has shown even a mild interest in genealogy. However, WDYTYA has become a favorite TV program of her children - girls aged 9 and 6. The girls will not be home this Friday and insist it be taped; a must not miss program.

The older one has been taken with the ties to history of the first two programs - she "knew" the people and was amazed at the history that unfolded. The younger one was spellbound by Emmitt (for her, from both football and Dancing with the Stars) and his journey back to his roots in Africa. After going to bed, she came back crying. She wanted to know more about the selling of children, and why someone would do that. Mom said that provided an excellent opportunity for a very positive discussion. Both girls have talked about the programs with their classmates.

The net impact - totally positive - has been to interest a new generation in learning about their anccestors and where they might fit with history. WDYTYA is a powerful recruiting tool for now and the future."

For a tongue-in-cheek view of WDYTYA from the land of its birth, click on this link:

Happy viewing!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Glenn Close First Woman Known To Have Complete Genome Mapped

Actress Glenn Close appears to have become the first woman to have her entire genome mapped. At least she is the first to publicly announce it. If you watched the series Faces of America, you may recall that Louis Henry Gates, Jr., the host of the program, had this done for him and his elderly father. In that segment it was stated that by overlaying the genomes of the father and son, they could deduce what the deceased mother's genome would be. This process is reported to have cost $500 million when the first human genome was decoded in 2003. Now, if you have some loose cash, you can get a real bargain for only $48,000. Jay Flatley, president and CEO of Illumina, the lab which conducted Close's test. "We are entering a new era in genomic health where information from an individual's genome will increasingly inform lifestyle decisions and ultimately assist with health management."

For more information about Ms. Close's testing see the press release:
For more information about testing through Illumna:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Welcome Dianne J!

Thanks for registering. Hope you post your progress and enjoy the posts of others.

Retreiving similar posts on this blog using Labels

As this blog grows, it will become increasingly difficult to go back to review similar posts to the one you are reading---should you wish to do so. I am assigning "Labels" to the posts. These are sort of like subject headings in library catalogs and other similar databases. These Labels show up as links at the bottom of posts. By clicking on one of these Labels you will retrieve all posts that share this Label. That way it will not be necessary to repeat everything in every post. If you want more background, click on the label and you will be able to see if there are other posts on the same or similar topics. For example, this post is labeled "Navigating this Blog". You will see this Label at the bottom of this post. So far there are no other labels on this topic. However, if you were reading a post about a TV show on a genealogical topic and clicked on "TV Shows", you would retrieve several items.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Welcome Diane K, Ken and Edna!

Diane K, Ken and Edna came to my first 'computer skills' session at our home. They successfully navigated through the registration of the Blog and posted their first Blog. Congratulations!

first time Ken and Edna

this is my first post

New Post

Hi, I figgered out how too Post yea.

WDYTYA---The Book

As some of you may know there is a companion book to go along with the WDYTYA television series:

ISBN: 0670021636
Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History
by Megan Smolenyak
About this title: ," this comprehensive how-to guide for conducting genealogical research includes where to find census information, how to track down immigration documents, and more."

Also included in this 200+ page book. as a glossy centerfold section, is an unnumbered 24 page supplement summarizing the stories of what each of the seven celebrity biographees discover during their on-camera adventure.

The book is available from most bookstores, both storefront and online including Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc.

Many of you saw the author when Megan presented several sessions last month at the San Luis Obispo County Genealogy Society Seminar. She also appeared briefly on camera in last Friday night's episode when Emmitt was getting ready to follow up on his DNA results.

Happy reading!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cat DNA testing

Thanks to Arnie for the heads-up on pet DNA ID. His dog Duncan is 70% border collie, 20% australian shepherd and 10% dalmation. I need to raid my piggy bank to see if I can help pay for a DNA test for me. What the heck--I'll just use my plastic card or PayPal. Maybe I will find out who my great great grandaddy was.

Generations Project

For those of you who can get the BYU Channel on your cable or satellite TV (this is Channel 374 on our DirecTV), you may enjoy the Generations Project. It is sort of a WDYTYA featuring ordinary people. Of the several episodes we have watched, most have been very interesting. A couple have been less interesting and in one case there seemed to be about 30 minutes of content poured into a 60 minute slot. However, in fairness, there are no ads except at the beginning and/or end. As a result, there is more content to fill than on regular network TV. The new show each week seems to air at 7:00 PM Pacific time Monday nights and then repeat on Saturday at 12 PM, Sunday 10 AM, Monday 11 AM and finally at 5 PM--just a couple of hours before the next episode debuts.

Welcome Cathy!

Welcome to Dr D's Blog.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chicago Research

I was asked in class this week for assistance in finding the current location in Chicago of a street address from the 1890s. Chicago did not come up with its current numbering grid for streets until about 1909-1911. Prior to that there was a hodge-podge. In the standardization all north-south numbers were measured from Madison and east-west numbers were measurd from State Street. In the process, many streets even changed names. During this process your ancestors may have appeared to move but really stayed in the same location.

Http:// is a wonderful site for those researching Chicago that was created by the Newberry Library--a privately funded library that is one of the best locations for researching Chicago area ancestors. From the home page one can enter a street address and it's location will be highlighted on a city map. From the TOOLS tab it provides a gateway to many free digital resources including historical maps, selected city directories and much, much more. Included are two downloadable documents about the street renumbering. Also, try clicking on the city map on the homepage. You can then explore the neighborhood in which you have landed. If you have Chicago ancestors, check it out and explore the various links provided.

This is a great site for searching online and for planning a Chicago research trip.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Welcome two new bloggers!

I would like to welcome Nancy and Sharon to Dr D's Blog.

Computer skills for genealogy research

As you all might know several of Dave's genealogy students have expressed an interest in basic computer skills.  Because of the demand, I am hosting basic computer skills sessions in my home.  I can handle 3 people at a time and plan to do several informal 2 hour sessions.  My first session is filled already and is scheduled for Mon, 3/15!  Thanks Ken, Edna and Diane.  This is exciting and I am looking forward to helping Dave's fellow genealogists in basic computer skills.

Welcome charjane!

You are the 2nd person to accept the invitation to Dr D's Blog.  Welcome!  We hope you have some interesting finds or tricks to share. 

My longest standing brick wall

My longest standing brick wall is the origins of my 6th great-grandfather, Philip Dowell who died in Maryland in 1733. I have known about Philip since the 70s when my dad took me to visit a distant cousin of his who turned out to have a typescript copy of a Dowell family history done by an even more distant cousin. Over the ensuing years I have been able to uncover a lot of information about his adult life as a tobacco planter in Southern Maryland. I've visited the church that is on the site of his 1702 marriage to Mary Tydings. I've walked on 80 acres of land still owned by a sixth cousin-once removed which was part of 320+ acres that Philip purchased in 1722. However, in all the ensuing years, I have, yet to find convincing evidence about the origins of Philip and how he got to Ann Arundel County, Maryland in the 1690s.

On Wednesday another Dowell researcher, in sorting through his files, came across a reference to Philip and made the following post on the Dowell Family History site at
"Scottish Immigrants to North America.1600s - 1800s........Phillip Dowell the collected works of David Dobson: on a CD
Posted for Dave Dowell
Hey Dave~
BK 1485 - Directory of Scots Banished to The American Plantations 1650-1775 - page 176
This tells me that Philllip was probably the first Dowell to America, and evidence of that event taking place.........................
any comments from"

When J.E. Dowell speaks, I listen. He has been researching the Dowells several years longer than the four decades that I have been. He is the one that I was trying to match when I first DNA tested in 2004. We had been exchanging information for years and knew that his earliest documentable Dowell was in Virginia in the early 1700s. It was so logical that we had a common ancestor. One could have easily sailed down the James River in Virginia and up the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland or vice versa. That was the way that goods were brought in from England and tobacco was exported back to England to pay for it. So, after decades of futile efforts to find our missing link, we decided to DNA test to prove we were on the right trail.

Wrong!! According to DNA evidence J.E. and I have not had a common biological ancestor on our paternal lines for at least 3,000 years! However, we remain research colleagues and help other Dowells sort out from which branch they descend.

So when J.E. made that post, I paid attention. I went to and discovered that Google has digitized that book but only the first 23 pages can be searched online. I then turned to and found that the closest library to me which owned the book was about 45 minutes away in Santa Maria. I induced my wife to accompany me by promising her a nice lunch and the possibility of visiting a mall that is not often on our path.

Turns out that the reference was to an event about which I already knew--Philip's "purchase" in 1716 of an indentured servant by paying for his passage when the ship arrived in Maryland. I did learn one small detail about that event that I had not previously known, but my brick wall remains firmly in place.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are Friday Night

Don't miss the second episode of WDYTYA Friday night on NBC at 8 Eastern and Pacific. That's KSBY on the California Central Coast. This episode features Emmitt Smith whose football career kept him from family reunions until 2005. Now he is trying to make up for lost time and says "You need to understand where you were to appreciate where you are." After a journey back through slavery to Africa, Emmitt concludes "History is not his story anymore. History is really my story now."
OK guys, before you go into hibernation for another year until next Christmas, let's do a DNA test to see how we are related. We get a discount if we all do it together. Open your mouths!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Crash Course in Genealogy

Now that our Emeritus Class in Genealogy Research is over I am turning my attention to a project that will consume much of the rest of 2010. I have a contract to write A Crash Course in Genealogy. This book will be published by Libraries Unlimited--the publisher of my previous books on library topics. It will be part of their Crash Course in... series. The series is designed for library workers who need to learn a new skill quickly for immediate application on the job. It is to be approximately 60,000 words and to be delivered by the end of the year. With all the current media attention on family history, library workers will be needing even more knowledge and skills to help those who are motivated to pursue what is already one of America's favorite hobbies.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Welcome Laine!

You are the first one, other than Dave, RaggZ and me, to join this blog.  Welcome. 

Audience for first Who DoYou Think You Are (WDYTYR)

Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2010 15:20:44 -0700

Subject: First Who Do You Think You Are? Episode a Success


The tune-in numbers for the first episode of Who Do You Think You Are? are in, and they look promising! More than 6.85 million viewers tuned in to watch the show (including many of you!), making it the No. 2-rated show that hour.

This Friday – Emmitt Smith

This week’s episode is one you don’t want to miss. Tune into NBC this Friday at 8/7c as former NFL football player Emmitt Smith sets out to discover his slavery roots. In this episode, look for the Monroe County Courthouse in Monroe County, Alabama, and the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. Lisa Kudrow calls Emmitt’s episode “unbelievable” and the most compelling of the seven.

Check out the teaser to the episode featuring Emmitt.

Last Week’s Episode

For those who missed it – last week’s episode featured Sarah Jessica Parker, who learns that her 4th great-grandfather John S. Hodge was among the hundreds of thousands who tried to strike it rich by heading West during the 1849 California Gold Rush. Unfortunately, Sarah discovers John S. died soon after settling in El Dorado County, California. Sarah also pays a visit to Massachusetts and meets with researchers at the New England Historic Genealogical Society and Massachusetts Historical Society, who reveal that one of her ancestors was accused of witchcraft in 1692 during the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Luckily, Sarah finds out that the court surrounding the trials was dissolved just before her ancestor was accused, so she was never tried.

If you missed the episode, watch it here.

More about the Sarah Jessica Parker Episode

Interested in learning more about how the team of genealogists involved in the first episode located Sarah’s 4th Great-Grandfather John S. Hodge? Would you like to offer members of your organization or interested newbies a better understanding of the research process? Take a look:

Go-to resources: Census records, obituaries, published histories, more primary records

How they helped: Sarah Jessica Parker’s family tree presented a unique challenge – Sarah herself was certain her family was comprised solely of recent immigrants. Researchers, however, determined this was incorrect, tracing the family of her great-grandmother, Lillian Hodge, back to its early American roots.

Resource #1: census records

Researchers turned to census records to follow the Hodge family back through time. In the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, great-great-great-grandfather, John Eber Hodge, is a young boy living at home with his widowed mother.

Resource #2: obituary

Who was John Eber Hodge’s father? Researchers located an obituary for John Eber, dated 1908. His father, John S. Hodge, is mentioned in the obituary along with the note that John S. died on his way to California in 1849. Returning to census records, a John Hodge, who matches the description of John Eber’s father, is found in 1850 in El Dorado County, California. Occupation: miner.

Resource #3: published histories

But which is correct? Did John S. Hodge die in 1849 or did he abandon the family to strike it rich out West? Researchers focus on records about 49ers to learn more about the California Gold Rush. And then they strike family history gold: “We found a letter written by someone in Ohio to John S. Hodge, which had been published in a book,” says Natalie Cottrill of ProGenealogists, who appeared with Sarah Jessica in the episode. “One of my colleagues tracked down the original set of letters, which provided more details, including information about John S. Hodge’s 1850 death.”

Resource #4: more primary records

Estate and other documents further confirmed that the ancestral John S. Hodge and the California miner John Hodge was the same individual.

Why the discrepancy?

The 1849 death date is from a published obituary, not a primary source. Obituaries are compiled from information offered at the time of a person’s death, second-hand or even later. It’s likely that details in John Eber Hodge’s obituary were relayed by a friend or relative of John Eber, not John Eber himself. The person who reported the obituary facts may have relied on stories he or she had heard from John Eber Hodge, who himself had never met his father. Slight discrepancies in dates and other information are quite likely in secondary sources, which is why locating original records is so important.

Note: You are receiving this e-mail because we believe you are a member of the genealogy community or thought you might be interested.

Social Networking for Genealogy Research Class

This blog grew out of the conversation today in the last session of the spring in Cuesta's Emeritus College Genealogy Research Class. It will be a place for those who have been students in that class over the last couple of years to continue to help each other in a community learning environment.

This is a place to share successes, learning opportunities, and brick walls with colleagues.

Let the sharing begin!

From RaggZ Kat

I am trying to find my Ragdoll ancestors.

Here is what I look like. I am confused about my ancestry because I read on the internet that Ragdolls were created by some 'over the fence' connections back in the 1970's. I am not sure I want to face that fact!

Who is my Great Great Grand Daddy really???