RootsTech 2013 Conference – Day 1 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Friday, March 22nd, 2013 by Carolyn L. | No Comments

Imagine – 6,700 genealogists (and that’s just those who pre-registered) in one building for a conference! The RootsTech conference is the largest of its kind held in the United States, with attendees from forty-nine states (what’s wrong with Delaware and why didn’t even one person attend from the “first state?”) and seventeen countries, with another 10,000 participating through streaming video of selected programs. Not only that, an additional 2,000 young people will be attending the conference on Saturday.

The day began with an atmosphere of heightened expectations, and proved to be an enjoyable day despite the early morning snow that greeted us on our walk from the hotel to the Salt Lake Conference Center – the Salt Palace. First, the eighty-five genealogy bloggers in attendance were treated to a quick orientation to the exhibit hall before its official opening and then were escorted to VIP seating for the opening keynote sessions. It was a nice feeling to be so recognized!

Hosted by FamilySearch, and cosponsored by such well-known companies, societies, and educational institutions as, MyHeritage,,, Mocavo, Backblaze, Dell, APG, FGS, NEHGS, NGS, BYU, and several more, the conference, now in its third year, offered a clear vision of the future: 1) every individual has a right to exist, but cannot do so unless his or her story is discovered, preserved, and shared; 2) as the profession seeks to broaden its appeal and attract a younger generation, it recognizes that technology is the mechanism by which that growth will be successful; 3) it is our obligation to present “Gen-Y” with an accessible, affordable adventure; to use technology to engage their interest instantaneously; and 4) we must constantly ask ourselves, “what will our great-great-grandchildren wish we could have done?” We must record the “richness and fabric” of our lives and be the “pioneers of today for researchers of tomorrow.” Finally, speakers emphasized the power of the crowd, emphasizing the fact that we cannot accomplish all there is to do by ourselves. A compelling example is seen in the following: the Family History Library/FamilySearch has been collecting records since 1894. It took eighty-five years for the first billion records to be acquired; it has only taken since 2,006 to add the next billion records thanks to the generous time and effort donated, in large part, by volunteers such as the 200,000 (equivalent to the city of Des Moines, Iowa) who accomplished the indexing of the 1940 census in four months! The community must come together with a common purpose. Definitely food for thought!

I used the rest of the day to take a first look at the exhibit hall (with 50% more space than last year), taking in a few demonstrations and beginning to identify those products which warranted a more detailed look. In addition, I attended three sessions, although I was disappointed that the room, in which the one I really wanted to attend was scheduled, was full before the sessions before it were completed. I guess that’s what happens when so many people are in attendance, but it was a disappointment. I’ll share more about session and exhibit hall highlights between now and Saturday.

The day ended with a social at the Leonardo Museum and then a mini-concert by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the Tabernacle in Temple Square – a lovely way to end the day. Time now to recharge the batteries and be ready for more RootsTech 2013 adventures tomorrow. Be sure to read the story of Day 2 coming tomorrow!

A Look at Northern Ireland Research 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, March 14th, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley


I have to admit that I find Irish research more difficult than other immigrant-related genealogy. It is not enough to know the unique record categories of Irish genealogy – Title Applotments, Griffith’s Valuation, and the Spinning Wheel Premium Bounty List–to name only a few. Instead, to do Irish research well requires an understanding of its history and jurisdictions as well as its records. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, when it seems as if the world is Irish for the day, this week’s article takes a brief look at the history of the Northern Ireland,   the various jurisdictional divisions effecting Irish records, and a few of the more unique record types.


A brief look at the historical perspective.


Ireland’s history is characterized by invasion: the earliest arrivals in 6500 B.C., the Danes and the Vikings in the eighth and ninth centuries, the Normans in the twelfth century, and the mid-sixteenth century “reconquest” begun by England’s Henry VIII. As might be expected, these invasions ran into severe resistance and the subsequent uprisings seemed continual. In Ulster, the O’Neills and the O’Donnells fought back unsuccessfully during the Nine Years War (1594-1603), resulting in the “flight of the Earls” in 1607. Their defeat opened the door for the “planting” of English and Scottish families in the northern counties – the Ulster Plantation. Another wave of rebellion occurred in 1641, but was finally extinguished in 1649 following Cromwell’s victory in the English Civil War.


With the advent of a degree of peace, much of the land was removed from the indigenous Catholic ownership and redistributed to individuals in favor with the new government in London. Following the return of the Stuarts to the throne, James II invited many settlers into Ireland, particularly Protestants, in an attempt to stifle rebellion and to gain firmer control over the island.  When James was himself defeated in Ireland by William of Orange in 1690, the resulting rent increases, wide-spread emigration of Catholics, and imposition of the Penal Laws not only restricted Catholic rights, but often applied to Presbyterians as well, prompting their emigration to North American and Canada.


While the beauty of the Irish countryside suggested a bucolic peacefulness, such an image was misleading. In 1800, under the Acts of Union, the Kingdom of Ireland was combined with the Kingdom of Great Britain forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the abolition of the Irish Parliament and the transfer of representation to Westminster, unrest became more frequent and vocal.


The rising in 1916, known as the Easter Rebellion, led to twenty-six counties choosing independence and eventually, five years later in 1921, to the creation of  the Republic of Ireland [or “The Irish Free State” for those of us who went to school at a certain time]. Six counties, however, – Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Derry, and Tyrone, chose to remain within the United Kingdom and became known as “Northern Ireland.” Modern history attests to the fact that struggle, often violent, remains a part of life in Northern Ireland. Sectarian feelings remain strong and a fragile co-existence has been achieved only within the past decade.


A brief look at civil and ecclesiastical jurisdictions.


Records are usually created in response to a particular historical, political, religious, or socioeconomic event or trend. In considering Irish records, it is important to understand the several types of boundaries within which individuals lived in order to locate appropriate records. As much of our research probably falls into the pre-1921 era, the following information applies to all counties.


First, there are civil jurisdictions. Beginning with the smallest civil division, an individual fell within the jurisdiction of a townland, a rather amorphous entity varying in size from ten to several thousand acres. Creating confusion is the fact that townlands do not contain towns and might not even contain any inhabitants, but are part of the address of many individuals, particularly those in rural areas. There are approximately 64,000 townlands. They are normally organized into civil parishes, which can contain as many as twenty-five to thirty townlands as well as actual towns and villages. There are approximately 2,500 civil parishes.


The next type of jurisdiction, baronies, are groups of civil parishes. However, just to complicate things again, barony boundaries may not always conform to the boundaries of the civil parishes they contain. There are 273 baronies.


The Irish county is the most constant type of organization.  There are thirty-two counties and they are, in turn, organized into provinces (Connaught, Leinster, Munster, and Ulster). Should the progression of townland, civil parish, barony, county, province not be enough for you to master, there are also cities, towns, boroughs, poor law unions (established in 1838 and named after a local large town), and general registrar districts (areas within which birth, marriage, and death records are collected, but which do not match county boundaries). Confused? I’m not surprised.


A source that will significantly help you in sorting out these civil divisions is the General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, Parishes and Baronies of Ireland (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2006). If, for example, I look up the townland known as Drumbeecross, I find that it is situated in County Armagh, the Barony of Fews Lower, the Parish of Mullaghbrack, and the Poor Law Union (in 1857) of Armagh. The Index also provides a citation to the townland census of 1851 and the number of the sheet on which Drumbeecross appears in the Ordnance Survey Maps.


To further compound the records complexity, there are ecclesiastical divisions, including church parishes, presided over by a priest or minister. Church of Ireland (Protestant) parishes usually encompass the same area as the civil parish, but Catholic parishes do not. Parishes are grouped into dioceses, presided over by a bishop. These dioceses again do not conform to county boundaries, nor do Church of Ireland parishes encompass the same localities as Catholic parishes.

Finally, there are General Registrar’s Districts, usually named for a large town falling within their boundaries, which are responsible for the civil registration of birth, marriage and death records that are not maintained on a county basis. More complications: Centralized registration for the Church of Ireland began in 1845, but universal civil registration did not occur until 1864.


Maps of ecclesiastical divisions can be found in the second edition of Brian Mitchell’s New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2008). Information useful in determining extant parish registers is available in Mitchell’s A Guide to Irish Parish Registers (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2009). If, for example, I look up the civil parish of Mullaghbrack in County Armagh, I find that its Church of Ireland parish of the same name was established in 1787, that its Roman Catholic parishes are Ballymore and Mullaghbrack, and that its Presbyterian parishes included Markethill, Drumminis, and Redrock, with some mergers throughout the years. In addition, there was a Methodist Parish of Markethill, established in 1830.



A brief look at uniquely Irish records. Space does not allow an in-depth discussion of Irish record types. A few, however, are important enough to warrant at least brief mention.


  • Tithe Applotment Survey. The Church of Ireland became the established church in 1867. Tithes were levied to provide for the maintenance of the Church. Valuations, conducted between 1823 and 1837, determined the tithe payable by each landowner. This list is not comprehensive as only certain types of land were taxable and urban residents were not included. Tithe Applotment Survey information for the six counties of modern-day Northern Ireland is available on a CD entitled Tithe Applotment Books, 1823-1838 from the Genealogical Publishing Company.


  • Griffith’s Valuation Survey. All lands in Ireland were surveyed between 1848 and 1864 in order to establish the levy rate for local taxes payable by each land or leaseholder. This survey lists each landholder or householder and provides the name of the townland, a description of the property, the name of the landlord, and the annual valuation. An index of the names in the Title Applotment and Griffith’s Valuation Surveys is available on microfilm from the National Library of Ireland as well as on CD (An Index to Griffith’s Valuation 1848-1864) from Genealogical Publishing Company. Another helpful source is James R. Reilly’s Richard Griffith and His Valuations of Ireland (Clearfield Company, 2008).


  • Spinning Wheel Premium Bounty List. This list, sometimes referred to as the Flax Growers List, was published in 1796 by the Irish Linen Board and includes the names of almost 60,000 individuals who received awards for planting a specified acreage of flax. The information includes the name of the grower, the civil parish and county where the flax was grown.


  • Rate Books. The Poor Law Relief Act was enacted in 1838. Under this welfare law, landholders were required to contribute to programs to help the poor in their area. As if there were not already enough jurisdictions, new divisions called Poor Law Unions were established in order to collect and distribute the contributions, known as rates. The Rate Books list payers by area, holding and valuation.


The following two resources will add to your understanding of Irish records and enhance your research into Northern Ireland families.


  • Brian Mitchell’s The Surnames of North West Ireland (Clearfield, 2010) provides “concise histories of the major surnames of Gaelic and planter origin.” North West Ireland encompasses the counties of Derry, Donegal and Tyrone. This region is of great importance in tracing Irish ancestral origins as not only was it the last Gaelic stronghold, but it was also the location to which many settlers from England and Scotland came during the “planting” of Ulster in the seventeenth century. A significant number of these settlers later emigrated to the United States and Canada, as well as to Australia. Mitchell’s work includes 324 single-page histories of surnames (including variant spellings) that were either native to North West Ireland or became prominent there as settlers arrived. In content, it is similar to Black’s Surnames of Scotland, and researchers into Scottish families will find many familiar names throughout the book. For example, Graham is a name quite prominent in Scottish history. Surnames of North West Ireland notes that it is “among the twenty most numerous names in Ulster, and in Counties Down and Fermanagh, it is among the ten most common names.” The Graham entry continues with information about its ultimate derivation from Grantham in Linconlnshire, and various and important personages and historical events associated with the surname. Another entry, for the surname Hamill, notes that this name is most common in Ulster, particularly in Counties Antrim and Armagh, and traces its lineage back to Eogan, son of the fifth century High King of Ireland, Niall of the Nine Hostages. If you are unsure where your ancestor came from in Ireland, this book may prove useful in highlighting counties in which the surname is most prominent, thus providing some direction for a preliminary search.


  • Defenders of the Plantation of Ulster, 1641-1691, also by Brian Mitchell (Clearfield, 2010), helps mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of Ulster. (The Province of Ulster includes the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone in Northern Ireland, and the counties of Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland.) This book includes the names of about 2,500 planters who participated in the defense and security of the Plantation of Ulster during the 1641 rebellion and the William of Orange/James II war of 1688-1691. It includes the“Muster Roll of the Garrison of Londonderry during the Rebellion of 1642-1643” and “Defenders of Ireland during the Williamite War of 1689-1691.”


The first list identifies 905 men in nine companies of foot who defended the walls of Derry. These combatants, who were drawn from the estates throughout County Londonderry and its neighboring counties, provides surname, given name, rank, and foot company. For example, James Nixon, soldier, served in Sir Thomas Staples’ Foot Company; John More was a drummer in John Kilner’s Foot Company. Such information offers an opportunity to continue research in military records when extant.


The second list provides the names of Ulstermen who defended Londonderry against the Jacobite opposition to William of Orange. The list identifies major planter families in the province of Ulster and identifies their connection to the original planters from England, Wales, and Scotland. The roster also denotes an ID number taken from William R. Young’s Fighters of Derry – Their Deeds and Descendants, 1688-1691 (a major source  for Mitchell’s work), surname, first name, residence and remarks. These remarks may contain information about planter origins in England, Wales or Scotland, as well as references to next-of-kin, military campaigns, and emigration. For example, John Blackwood of Bangor, County Down, was the son of John Blackwood; married Ursula, daughter of Robert Hamilton of Killyleagh Castle; and his descendants were the Viscounts of Clandeboye and the Earls and Marquesses of Dufferin and Ava. Rev. Thomas Boyd was the Presbyterian minister of Aghadowey. George Buchanan of Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, was the first of the family in Ireland, settling at Omagh in 1674. He descended from the Buchanans of Carbeth, Scotland. Researchers who use  the Young ID numbers provided for each entry may find more in Fighters of Derry.


Other titles useful for Irish research include:



Genealogy at a Glance: Irish Genealogy Research by Brian Mitchell (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2010)


Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research by Margaret Dickson Falley, 2 vols. (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1998).


Irish Gravestone Inscriptions: A Guide to Sources in Ulster, edited by William O’Kane & Eoin Kerr (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2008).


Irish Records: Sources for Family & Local History by James G. Ryan (Ancestry, 1988).


Land Owners in Ireland 1876 (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1998).


Macmillan Atlas of Irish History by Seán Duffy (Macmillan, 1997)


A Short History of Ulster by Sean McMahon (Mercier Press, 2000).


The Surnames of Derry by Brian Mitchell (Genealogy Centre, Derry, 1992).


Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, by John Grenham, 4th ed. (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2012).


















Across Our Northern Border 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, March 7th, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley


Having just finalized a hotel reservation for a trip to Fergus, Ontario, for the summer, I realized that many of us in the United States know little about the history and genealogical research of our neighbor to the north. We need to rectify this shortcoming, particularly if our research has turned up a Canadian ancestor – or at least an ancestor who entered the United States by crossing the Canadian border. There are many resources, both in print and online, that will help us gain the necessary knowledge to support our ongoing research.

As a first step when beginning research in a new geographical area, I like to read background materials, particularly ones which will provide an historical context for my research. This reading usually explains why records were – or were not – created, and will provide insight into the times in which an individual lived, possible origins, and reasons for emigrating.

Informal in format, but rich in information, Will Ferguson’s Canadian History of Dummies (2nd ed., 1005) is useful if you are looking for short summaries of important historical events that may have influenced the lives of your ancestors, both in Canada, and for those living in the states just over the border in the colonies, and later United States. Topics begin with the rise – and fall – of New France (1608-1766) and continue through the turn of the current century. The book is particularly helpful in explaining the events leading up to the Confederation. In 1867, three British colonies (the Province of Canada comprised of Upper Canada and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) became four Canadian provinces (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia), following the Confederation Conference in Charlottetown. The process of creating the nation we know today as Canada has continued almost to the present day with the addition of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories in 1870; British Columbia in 1871; Prince Edward Island in 1873; the Yukon in 1898; Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905; Newfoundland in 1949 (renamed Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001); and Nunavut (Arctic Archipelago and islands in Hudson, James and Ungava Bays) in 1999. While Canadian History of Dummies could be read in its entirety, I suggest it more as a reference source to dip into as needed during your research, and a perfect source with which to create a chronology to superimpose on your specific ancestral research.

Lovell’s Gazetteer of British North America 1873 (Global, 1999) provides a convenient locator for place names which you might run across in your research. For example Fergus, a lovely town that I will be visiting again this summer, is described as follows: “an incorporated village in Wellington co., Ont., on the River Grand, and on the W.G. & B. R., 15 miles N. or Guelph. It possesses good water power, and contains flour, oatmeal and planning mills, 2 distilleries, woolen, cabinet, fanning mill, stave and sewing machine factories, tanneries, breweries, and an iron foundry. Also, 2 branch banks, several insurance agencies, a number of stores, hotels and churches, 2 telegraph agencies, and a printing office issuing a weekly newspaper. Pop. 1,666.”2 If your ancestor lived in or near Fergus, Ontario, in the 1870s, this relatively brief gazetteer entry would provide you with a detailed bird’s-eye view of what life there was like there at the time.

Here are two additional highly recommended books for background reading, particularly if you are interested in learning about Scottish emigration to Canada:

A Dance Called America: the Scottish Highlands, the United States, and Canada, by James Hunter (Mainstream, 2010), provides an in-depth look into the earlier periods of emigration from Scotland to Canada and the United States. Barred from relocating to the colonies prior to 1707, Scots emigrated to Canada due to a series of events including crop failures, land clearances, wars, transportation after the rebellion of 1745, an expanding tobacco trade, and somewhat later, organized emigration schemes. The book’s title derives from a story related by James Boswell in his well-documented Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides made with his companion, Samuel Johnson. On 2 October 1773 Boswell wrote, “In the evening the company danced as usual … We performed, with much activity, a dance which, I suppose, the emigration from Skye has occasioned. They call it America. Each of the couples, after the common involutions and evolutions, successively whirls round in a circle, till all are in motion; and the dance seems intended to show how emigration catches, till a whole neighbourhood is afloat.” 2 You alredy have Note 2 above. The Scottish emigration pattern in Canada was similar to that in the United States, with lowlanders tending to settle in towns and cities near the coast, while highlanders retreated into the more remote “back country.” This book is essential reading for anyone with Scottish ancestors who relocated to Canada in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

The second title is Ian Charles Cargill Graham’s Colonists from Scotland: Emigration to North America 1707-1783 (1956, repr. Clearfield, 2006). I have read this title so often that my paperback copy is falling apart. Graham very succinctly outlines several issues with regard to emigration: lowlands vs. highlands, compulsion (individuals forced to emigrate), and various aspects of social history. One important event impacting population growth is the fact that when British soldiers were discharged after such conflicts as the French and Indian War, they often did not return to Scotland, but instead stayed on–a significant proportion of them from the Black Watch (the 42nd – otherwise known as famous “forty and twa”), the Fraser’s, and Montgomery’s Highlanders regiments.  The strong ties of kinship and friendship that existed between these ex-soldiers and their friends and relations at home would draw many others to make the voyage, joining in the “dance called America.” Graham’s book includes an extensive bibliography listing important document collections, newspapers, periodicals, and other materials, both primary and secondary. [For further information on the soldiers who remained in North America, read John Kitzmiller’s In Search of the Forlorn Hope: A Comprehensive Guide to Locating British Regiments and Their Records (1640 to WWI) 2 vol. (Manuscript Pub. Fndn., 1988).]

Once I have read some of the available background material, my next task is to consult resources that discuss methodology and specific resources. Two comprehensive titles include Sherry Irvine and Dave Obee’s Finding Your Canadian Ancestors, a Beginner’s Guide (Ancestry, 2007) and Angus Baxter’s In Search of Your Canadian Roots: Tracing Your Family Tree in Canada (3rd ed., Genealogical Publishing Co., 2008). The former title discusses various types of records in general (immigration, census, vital, cemetery, probate, military, land, and newspapers) and then review the records for specific provinces. The chapter on Ontario provides a map and brief history, and then discusses how to find localities, censuses, civil registration, church registers, etc. Illustrations of records are included, as well as a list of websites, a bibliography, and addresses of a variety of research institutions and record repositories. The Baxter book begins with a discussion of several migrations (Scots, Irish, German, Huguenot, United Empire Loyalist, Ukrainian, and Jewish, etc.), followed by a look at various record collections, including those at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the National Archives of Canada, as well as specific record types, such as censuses, church records, and coats of arms. Succeeding chapters discuss record research in each of the provinces.

Other useful resource and methodology titles include Althea Douglas’ Here Be Dragons! Navigating the Hazards Found in Canadian Family Research: A Guide to Genealogists with Some Uncommon Useful Knowledge (Ontario Genealogical Society, 1996) and its sequel, Here Be Dragons, Too! More Navigational Hazards for the Canadian Family Researcher (Ontario Genealogical Society, 2000). In addition, a review of Canadian resource links on Cyndi’s List will help identify many useful articles.

Now armed with background historical and genealogical information, as well as a working understanding of the methodology and resources necessary to conduct successful Canadian genealogical research, it is finally time to begin working on a research objective (to say “research problem” suggests that we’re doomed from the beginning!).

Several print compilations are available including two series by Terrence M. Punch, the three-volume Some Early Scots in Maritime Canada (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2011), and the four-volume Erin’s  Sons: Irish Arrivals in Atlantic Canada, 1761-1853, as well as Donald Whyte’s A Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants to Canada Before Confederation (Ontario Genealogical Society, 1986).

As always, those individuals searching for records online will want to review collections and databases available at and FamilySearch. Sites include the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) which, among many other record collections, provides online access to databases for the Canadian censuses for 1851 (Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia), 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, the Northwest Provinces (1906), 1911, and the Prairie Provinces in 1916. The LAC also has launched its own YouTube channel, with fourteen videos currently available. A site particularly rich in census information is providing links to Canadian census indices and records, as well as provincial census records (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec, with Nova Scotia available “soon”). A useful list of related links is provided including the Canadian Geographical Names database, Post Offices and Postmasters database, the Canadian Encyclopedia Online, and the Canadian Genealogy Centre. An interesting site is Home Children (1869-1930). During the time period covered by this site, over 100,000 orphaned, abandoned, and pauper children were sent to Canada from Great Britain, ostensibly to offer them a better life. On arrival, they were sent to temporary homes and then to work on area farms. The information on this site represents a continuing project that may help you solve more modern research problems. To date over 96,597 names from passenger lists, 10,678 names from Boards of Guardians records, as well as 11,241 names from other records, have been made available.

Finally, a useful source to consult on a regular basis is GenealogyinTime Magazine’s free weekly online newsletter which provides regularly updated lists of recent genealogy records by country. The most recent list of new Canadian records is forty-two pages long with descriptions, sample images, and links to pertinent sites. Included in the list are announcements concerning the release of the LAC’s indexed version of the 1911 census; about the Ontario Genealogical Society’s Ontario Name Index, now with one million names in its database; FamilySearch’s addition of an additional 750,000 Quebec notary records;’s addition of Canadian voter lists from 1935 to 1980 (89 million records), and border crossings from 1895-1954 (4.8 million records); and the LAC’s addition of 73,000 images from the War of 1812. You won’t want to miss this newsletter!

Canadian research is rich with resources. Learn more about our giant neighbor to the north and discover if your family might have a Canadian connection.



1 James Hunter, A Dance Called America: the Scottish Highlands, the United States and Canada (Edinburg: Mainstream, 2010), frontispiece.

2 Lovell’s Gazetteer of British North America1873 (Milton, Ont.: Global Heritage Press, 1999), 114-115.


Genealogy Connect – Ask For It at Your Local Library 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, February 28th, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

I’d like to introduce you to a new product from Gale/Cengage Learning – Genealogy Connect. This product currently provides online access to 579 titles from (the parent company of Genealogical Publishing Company and Clearfield). Over the next twelve to eighteen months, the collection is projected to grow to over 1,500 titles.

Genealogy Connect will be offered to libraries in subscriptions that include either the entire collection, or in “bundles” that can be combined to meet the needs of an individual library. Six bundles are currently offered, including “Getting Started” (32 titles), “Essentials (93 titles), “Immigration” (160 titles), “Colonial and Revolutionary” (189 titles), “Royal and Noble” (40 titles), and “Native American” (65 titles). Let’s take a look at the individual bundles for a better understanding of their contents.

There is no overlap in titles between the “Getting Started” and “Essentials” bundles, and the two, taken together, form a core collection of materials covering a variety of subject areas that will help both the beginner and intermediate researcher define research goals, learn about best practices and locate people.

The remaining bundles add depth to the collection, and are useful regardless of an individual library’s geographical location.

Besides the content, Genealogy Connect is noteworthy for its powerful platform. For instance, it can search across all titles (or at least all titles in the combination of bundles a library has purchased). The researcher who is savvy technologically can access several useful options, including the ability to view an article right from the list of articles, can save the article, format it as a pdf, or email the article. When selecting an article to view, the researcher can have the article read to him or her and can download the article as an mp3 file. In addition, there is a language interface to thirty-eight foreign languages, as well as machine and text-to-speech translations into thirteen. And did I mention that, best of all, Genealogy Connect is available to library-card holders remotely from their homes, offices, or while on a research trip?

I conducted a very basic search for the word “Barkley,” across all 579 titles, and identified 261 articles including ship names, biographical entries, muster and militia records, lineage information, and state and vital records, among just a few. If I limited my search to Barkleys in Maryland, the number of articles was reduced to just eighteen.

I also searched for my eighth great-grandfather, Deacon Samuel Chapin, from whom I descend through my maternal grandmother, Mildred C. (Abbe) Smith. I had done very little earlier research concerning this individual. My files included only Samuel’s approximate birth date; the approximate date of his freeman’s oath in Boston, Massachusetts; his wife’s first name; the names of seven children, with birth or baptismal dates for just two of them; the approximate date of his move to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he was one of the original founders; and his death date.  My basic search for “Samuel Chapin” in Genealogy Connect identified 478 articles. Looking at just two articles, I was able to add Samuel’s exact birth date and location in England; the names of his mother and father; his date of marriage; his wife’s maiden name and the name of her father; marriage records; and baptismal dates and locations for ten children. In addition, a possible grandfather’s name was provided, as well as lineages for this grandfather and for Samuel’s father, Samuel, himself, and two of his sons. While I have not yet reviewed all 478 articles, I will probably limit my search by geographical location to eliminate less relevant entries. For example, by adding Springfield as a limit, I reduced the number of articles to 184, and by adding Massachusetts as a further limit, I reduced that number to 56. If I wanted only articles mentioning Samuel’s son, Japhet, the number was further reduced to nine.

In a very short time, I added a variety of useful information about Samuel and his immediate family to my working files. Clearly, however, as the information was found in compiled or extracted record collections, I will need to pursue these clues and locate the sources of the original records. As I descend through two of Samuel’s sons, I have added this work to my list of research projects.

In summary, Genealogy Connect focuses on a period of American history that predates the keeping of many public records while also providing material from later time periods. Much of its contents are written by experts in their respective fields, and the majority of titles offered are unique, with very little overlay with or HeritageQuest. Gale/Cengage Learning has added value to the content with indexing and retrievability.

This online resource may not yet be available in your local library, so recommend it to the librarians there! They can request a trial subscription by visiting the Gale/Cengage Learning site. In addition, an archived webinar presented to interested librarians on 26 February 2013, Engage your Genealogists and Enrich Their Stories -20130226 1836-1, is available for your listening and viewing enjoyment. The webinar runs 44 minutes (Although the first few minutes are missing from the recording, you will not miss much information and will still be able to view the live demonstration).

Genealogy Connect, whether subscribed to in its entirety, or in a combination of its various bundles, would be a crucial, well-used addition to any library’s online resources.


Planning a Successful Research Trip 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Friday, February 22nd, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

The 2013 RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City is just a month way (March 21-23). If you are planning to attend, surely you will also be planning to squeeze in as many hours at the Family History Library as possible. Planning is essential.

Planning an effective and efficient research trip has always been an important component of a genealogist’s repertoire. With today’s gas prices – and have you looked at airline prices lately? -  affecting the cost of your trip more than ever before, however, your ability to plan well has become an even more significant skill. Here are eight tips to help you make that trip as successful as possible. These strategies work whether you are taking a cross-country trip to Salt Lake City or a morning’s drive to your local library– and regardless of whether you’re working on your own family or doing client research.

First, remember that research is a cycle of work with several important steps: planning, collection, organization, analysis, reporting, and then planning once again. Each research trip builds upon the work accomplished in previous trips and sets the stage for work to be accomplished in future ones.

  1. Your single most important action is to focus on a problem you wish to solve. Then, you need to be able to answer the following questions:
  • Who is the one person – or one event – that I want to learn about during this trip?
  • What do I already know about this person or event?
  • Where is information on this person or event located?
  • What research can I do in advance?

Consider all of these questions long before you leave home. If you have no answers, you are not yet ready to begin your trip. When you can answer them, you will endear yourself to librarians and archivists everywhere because you will be able to present your research needs concisely (please, no twenty-year history of your family even if you are excited by your knowledge) and you will be prepared, knowing what is available – or not – at the institution you are visiting. (Note: You may want to prepare two or three problems in case you find that your first problem, despite careful preparation, cannot be resolved, or that you are SO successful in solving the first problem, that you have time to do more.)


  1. Plan where you will go to conduct your research. First, answer the question: “Do I really need to travel to do my research?” Check the institution’s website for collections of online digitized records and databases or the availability of interlibrary loan of microfilm or other resources. (Note: never travel to see microfilm that you can borrow through your home library, or records that are available online.) For example, if I am researching a family in Princess Anne County, Virginia, a place search in the Family History Library catalog would alert me to the fact that all entries are under “Virginia, Virginia Beach (Independent City).” If I used FamilySearch to look for the Pebworth family in Princess Anne County, I would be able to identify 31 records for Pebworth families in Princess Anne. By continuing that search, I would be able to identify which records are not available online and concentrate on those during my research at the Family History Library.

If you decide that you do indeed need to make the trip, check the institution’s website to verify its address, find driving directions and parking information, and its operating hours and record access requirements. Check as well for any state or local holidays or unexpected construction interruptions that may have been scheduled recently. (I ignored the holiday issue to my regret last summer, arriving at the Family History Library for a day and a half of research during a cross-country trip only to find that it would be closed for a full day due to a state holiday – Pioneer Day. Ignore this rule at your peril!) Check to see what other activities are located nearby (special library collections, museums and museum libraries, historical societies, etc.) that might support your research). Decide if you will need to stay overnight (or stay several nights) in order to be successful in completing your research goal.

  1. Plan carefully what to take. I am personally allergic to the idea of the rolling suitcase with all of my files bumping along behind me. If you have focused and defined your research problem(s) well, I believe that you only need to take the files that relate to the specific research focus for your trip. Another method to avoid the dreaded black bag is to make sure that your research has been entered (and is up-to-date) on your laptop or tablet, either through a genealogical program – sources please – or through copies of previous research reports and spreadsheets. For the latter, I am a regular user of Dropbox (or you may already use Evernote or some other version of Cloud storage) for research files. Because these files are available to you on any computer with Internet access, you can access and update your files in real time during your research.
  2. Make sure you know what the institution’s rules or special requirements are. Are pens allowed; are cameras or scanners allowed? (Did you know that the Library of Congress does not allow musical instruments? – I’m just sayin’!) Make sure you have a picture ID, pencils and erasers, a loose-leaf binder or paper, address labels (they make it much easier to complete request or photocopy slips), and blank labels (indicate source’s bibliographic information and place on back of photocopies). If you are taking a laptop, does the institution have easily accessible electrical outlets? Should you bring a small extension cord? Do you have a surge protector? Is Wi-Fi available? Do they allow you to plug your thumb drive into their equipment (the Family History Library in Salt Lake City does, many public libraries do not)? (Note: Bring lifesavers. I know that food is banned in most libraries, BUT, no matter how healthy you are, you will get a tickle in your throat or a cough in the drier humidity and a lifesaver will live up to its name.)
  3. Bring forms (on your laptop/tablet and/or in hard copy) to assist you in your research. I strongly recommend using a research log. There are many different varieties that can be found online, in books such as Emily Anne Croom’s Unpuzzling Your Past Workbook: Essential Forms and Letters for All Genealogists (Betterway Books, 1996), or on a CD such as Michael Hait’s The Family History Research Toolkit: Forms & Charts for Genealogical Research (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2008). Research logs allow you to document the name of the individual being researched, your objective or problem, the research institution, and the date of your search. It also documents the location or call number of sources you use (whether you found anything in them or not), the source’s bibliographic description, and comments such as “no index,” “page x is missing from this copy,” or “book/microfilm reel, etc. is missing from the collection.” You will also need pedigree charts, family group sheets, and other more specialized abstracting forms depending on the type of research you will be doing.
  4. Once at the research site, take a few minutes to orient yourself to the facility. Where are the restrooms, lockers, coffee shop, copiers, film readers, computers, etc.? Do you need a copy card? What is the collection layout? (Check on the latter two questions carefully as libraries may rearrange shelving and may (read probably) have changed the copy card system since your last visit!) Are the stacks open access, or will you need to request items from closed stacks (and need to have something to do while you wait for them to be pulled)? Are there finding aids, maps of the facility, etc.? Where is the staff located in case you need assistance? It is also very important that you take care of yourself while you work. Plan to take breaks at specific intervals. I find that after two hours, I need to take a short walk, drink some water, rest my eyes, and reorder my thoughts. Make sure you take time for lunch and get out into fresh air and, hopefully, sunshine. You will be more alert during the afternoon if you do.
  5. When you have finished your research, organize your materials–research logs, forms, photocopies, and any spreadsheets or chronology tables you might have created–so that you can analyze your findings. I recommend using chronology tables as they often will provide visual clues to gaps in your research or to the fact that you might have found more than one person with the same name. I use a simple MS Word table with date, event (name and action), and source of the information. This table also tells me if my documentation is from original sources, rather than from too many secondary reports of the event.
  6. Always, always, always analyze what you have found during your research trip. This step is very often over-looked. Think of the many family trees you’ve seen online where the mother’s birth date is chronologically after the birth date of her children. Simple analysis would have prevented this type of error. Be sure to answer the following questions:
  • Is your information from a primary or secondary source?
  • Does the information add to or conflict with what you already know?
  • If the problem has not been solved, or has led (inevitably) to another research problem, what further work is required?
  1. Write a research report summarizing your trip. Again, this step is often overlooked or deferred, but is important for your own research, not just for client work. In your report, restate the object of your research (your research problem), what you knew when you began the work, the institution(s) in which you researched, the sources you consulted, and your findings and analysis. Outline future work. Attach all of the copies that document your findings. You will have all of this information easily at hand if you kept a detailed research log, annotated each of your copies and supporting documentation, and analyzed your work. The report is simply a way to organize your thoughts and documentation so that the next time you decide to work on this particular research problem, you can simply remove the report from the file and review your previous research as well as your notes about future work.

For further information on many of the topics mentioned here, check out the following sources:

Genealogy at a Glance series (Genealogical Publishing Co.). These concise guides are perfect for travel with. Check the extensive list of topics available, written by experts in their fields. If you are going to the Family History Library, particularly if this trip is your first, you will want to use Genealogy at a Glance: Family History Library Research.

The Library: a Guide to the LDS Family History Library, edited by Johni Cerny and Wendy Elliott (Ancestry, 1988).

The Guide to FamilySearch Online, by James L. Tanner (Bookmark Graphics, 2011).

Quick Sheet series (Genealogical Publishing Co.). Elizabeth Shown Mills has authored a series of concise guides in such topic areas as Genealogical Problem Analysis: a Strategic Plan; Citing Online Historical Resources Evidence! Style*; and The Historical Biographer’s Guide to the Research Process, among others.

Your Guide to the Family History Library, by Paula Stuart Warren and James W. Warren, (Betterway Books, 2001).

You are now ready to plan your next trip when the cycle begins once again. If you’re attending RootsTech, perhaps I’ll see you in the Family History Library!



Thoughts about St. Valentine’s Day 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, February 14th, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

When I was in elementary school, February was fun. First, the month was short. Then to make it seem even shorter, Massachusetts schools had an entire week off ( known, obviously, as “February vacation”) and we lost it only if we had already experienced an excessive number of snow days). Best of all, there were three separate and distinct holidays to celebrate – Lincoln’s Birthday (I remember our second-grade beige “math paper” cut in the shape of Lincoln’s profile), Valentine’s Day, and finally, Washington’s Birthday with its requisite stories about honesty and cherry trees. We miss so much today when all of our holidays seem to run almost concurrently, with their emphasis on retail sales rather than history or moral lessons–or even fun–as well as because of our manufactured-need for three-day weekends. What school student today even knows the actual date of Lincoln’s birthday? (I’m going to believe that they might know which presidents are included in President’s Day—despite what I have seen on Jay Leno!)

The origins of St. Valentine’s Day, 14 February, are perhaps the least well known of the three separate holidays of my youth. Just who was St. Valentine? In fact, there were at least two Valentines. One, known as Valentine of Rome, was beheaded ca. 269 during the reign of Emperor Claudius II (213-270 CE), and the other, known as Valentine of Terni, was martyred during the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270-275 CE). Both were buried in Rome on the Via Flaminia. Much later, in the fifth or sixth century, the Passio Marii et Marthae included stories about Valentine’s martyrdom (probably the earlier of the two Valentines), including the miracles he was said to have performed prior to his death. The established church at the time, feeling threatened by lingering attachments to earlier pagan rituals, was busily usurping pagan festival days and designating them as church observances. Thus the old Roman Lupercalia became the feast day of St. Valentine.  These stories about St. Valentine were repeated for several centuries, became accepted parts of the liturgy of both the Catholic and the Lutheran churches, and resulted in the emergence of a single figure. It was Chaucer, however, who in the fourteen century first introduced the concept of romantic love with regard to St. Valentine’s Day in a poem written to honor the wedding anniversary of King Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia.

Still later, hand-made Valentines began to be exchanged. The practice became popular enough that by 1797, The Young Man’s Valentine Writer was published to provide ready-made sentimental verses to those unable to commit original thoughts or feelings to paper. By Victorian times, the practice of sending Valentine greetings had become so popular that the sentiments began to be mass produced.1 Today, millions of Valentine’s Day cards are purchased and sent to family, friends and loved ones.











Do you remember the anticipation of selecting which card to send to which classmate?2 or the thrill of sending just the right one to a favorite girl- or boyfriend? Did you count how many you received and compare the number with your friends? How about those multi-colored candy hearts with the various sayings printed on them?

If your ancestors were among the Puritans, I can’t imagine that they would have allowed any observance of such a holiday as Valentine’s Day. Even the Catholic Church, by 1969, removed the feast day of St. Valentine from the official calendar, stating that nothing was really known about him, thus relegating any religious observance to local or national custom. Other countries celebrate similar holidays on days other than 14 February, celebrate other saints, or may have been influenced by the more commercial aspect of American observances of the holiday. For example, in Wales, St. Dwynwen’s Day is celebrated on 25 January (Dwynwen being the patron saint of Welsh lovers) and in Romania, “Dragobete” is celebrated on 24 February. Japan didn’t celebrate the holiday until 1936, and Valentine’s Day has not fared well in Islamic countries where celebrations and the sale of holiday-related merchandise are often banned due to their close Christian connection. In Finland, the holiday celebrates friendship more than romantic love.

Whatever our memories or traditions, St. Valentine’s Day is a day to reach out to our loved ones and friends and to remember those who have gone before. As genealogists, it may even send us to the attic, or to those boxes in the closet, to see what Valentines of the past might have been saved and how we might preserve them to be enjoyed by future generations. By the same token, if you are interested in further information about saints, one comprehensive source is Alan J. Koman’s A Who’s Who of Your Ancestral Saints (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2010).

1 Image to the left is from Wikimedia Commons

( : accessed 10 February 2013), from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division, digital ID cph.3a61286 (

2 Image to the right is from Pintarest, “Vintage Valentine: Hot Dog!” by pageofbats on Flickr.

The British Newsletter Archives – A Rich Documentary Resource 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Monday, February 11th, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

We should never underestimate the ability of newspapers to add detail to our research or, perhaps, loosen the mortar in a research brick wall.

I recently had a critical breakthrough after forty years of searching – with no success – for information about the family of my great-great-grandmother (Kate Dodd, née Duncan) in Scotland and England. The mortar began to crumble because of a newspaper notice that I never would have found except for the inclusion of the Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican in the historical newspaper collections available at Genealogy Bank. At the end of a long evening of searching all entries in the Republican pertaining to my Duncan family, the very last entry (Saturday 23 November 1861, page 3) yielded the following: “Near Rangoon, East Indies (accidentally drowned,) August 13th , Edward Duncan, 23, son of George Duncan of this city, and brother of Capt. F. Duncan, commander of the Lord William Bentige [sic] in her majesty’s service, Rangoon, Burmah [sic], and of George H. Duncan, private in the 10th Massachusetts volunteers.” I was speechless! Previous research had documented that Kate’s father was named George, and that she had a brother named George H. I knew that the latter was indeed a private in the 10th Massachusetts Infantry during the Civil War. Without that final line in the death notice, I would not have been able to tie this event conclusively to the family. More importantly, however, I had never ever heard of two additional brothers, at least one, if not both, older than Kate. Similarly, the notice suggests that neither brother had emigrated to New Haven, Connecticut, with Kate, her father, step-mother, and brother in the early 1850s. The fact that this notice appeared in the Springfield paper, where the family had relocated, however, suggested continued contact between the family then in the United States and the two brothers who apparently were left behind.

Almost simultaneously with this discovery, I read a Facebook post about the British Newspaper Archives, a product of brightsolid, the folks who brought you Findmypast among other genealogical online products. This source seemed to offer a perfect opportunity to continue my search for Edward Duncan, his brother, F. (Francis?, Frederick?), and perhaps the latter’s ship, the Lord William Bentinck. To be honest, I have made little headway, mostly due to limited time, and so cannot provide any additional information (yet), but what I can do is share information about the British Newspaper Archives, a wonderful resource for anyone conducting research in the British Isles.

British Newspaper Archives is a collaborative project undertaken by brightsolid and the British Library. According to a press release dated 24 May 2010, the project, over a ten-year period, will make up to 40,000,000 digitized newspaper pages available to users.1 The release further stated that “Digitised material will include extensive coverage of local, regional and national press across three and a half centuries. It will focus on specific geographic areas, along with periods such as the census years between 1841 and 1911. Additional categories will be developed looking at key events and themes, such as the Crimean War, the Boer War and the suffragette movement. The aim will be to build a ‘critical mass’ of material for researchers – particularly in the fields of family history and genealogy.”1 The website’s homepage indicates that the current total of new pages is 6,389,174 (as of 5 February 2013), with thousands scanned and added every day.

Anyone can search on the site at no cost after a free registration. However, if you wish to view pages of interest, you must purchase either a subscription or a credit package. Black and white newspaper page images over 107 years old cost five credits each; color images over 107 years old cost ten credits each; and images less than 107 years old cost fifteen credits. The free registration includes fifteen free credits. Credit packages for purchase include a two-day package with 500 credits for £6.95; a seven-day package with 600 credits for £9.95; and a thirty-day package with 3,000 credits for £29.95. If you will be searching these newspapers on a frequent basis, you may want to consider the annual subscription with unlimited credits at £79.95.

A list of newspaper titles included in the collection is available and is preceded by a list of issues added within the last thirty days. For example, on 5 February 2013, the recently added list included fifteen selections, such as the Aberdeen Journal (various years between 1902 and 1950), the Dublin Evening Mail (1854 and 1871), the Gloucester Citizen (various years between 1915 and 1950), the Stamford Mercury (1715-1716, 1783, 1882-1893 and various other years through 1912) and the West London Observer (1953 and 1956). Included in the full list of titles are the Caledonian Mercury (1720-1867), the London Daily News (1846-1900), the Oxford Journal (1753-1900), and Yorkshire Gazette (1819-1913).

In order to make your search as efficient as possible, I recommend that you read both the FAQ sections on “Getting Started” as well as “Search Tips.” The latter is particularly important so that you can understand how the keyword search is conducted. For example, an important tip is the suggestion to use a “phrase search” (located in the advanced search option) when searching for a “specific forename/surname combination.” In addition, filters are available to narrow your search, including region, date, article type, newspaper, and the ability to limit a search only to articles appearing on the front page of a newspaper issue.

My Edward Duncan (phrase search), with no filters, resulted in 1,222 articles. However, filtering for family notices appearing between August and December 1861 reduced that number to six – unfortunately none of which applied to my research needs.

As I have an interest in the 1745 Rebellion in Scotland, I was able to search the Caledonian Mercury, published in Edinburgh, and located an issue printed a few days after the Battle of Culloden (16 April 1746). Included in it is a letter “from an Officer in his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland’s Army, to a Friend at Edinburgh,” dated the day after the battle stating, in part: “They likewise attacked our Right, but were repulsed directly, and charged in the Retreat by Kingston’s Horse, which made great Slaughter. In short, they all run away as fast as they could, and were pursued by the Cavalry as far as this Town [Inverness], who took about 600 Prisoners, and I think, by the Number of Bodies on the Field of Battle and on the Road to this Place, there is near 2000 of them killed and wounded.”

One of the site’s most innovative features is the “My Research” area. If you purchase a credit package, all images that you have viewed are automatically saved to “My Research.” You can then bookmark images and organize them into folders for more convenient access. In addition, by using the “My Notes” function, you can make annotations useful to your research. (Your notes are private.) These images remain available during the subscription period for those with annual subscriptions; for those with “pay per view” packages, images remain for two months following the expiration of the term of the package. Images may also be downloaded and/or printed. Another option includes the ability to order a print (or a framed print) of a specific search result. The prints are provided “on heavy-weight satin finish paper, sized 23” x 23”, using special archival ink.” Yet another interesting feature is the sample document that can be viewed (must be either registered or have purchased a package) at no cost. On 5 February the image was from the Oxford Journal of 23 February 1788, and was the announcement of Charles Edward Stuart’s (Bonnie Prince Charlie’s) death in Rome on 31 January 1788. You can also keep up to date with interesting facts, documents, and stories at the site’s blog.

A final note, without the addition of which I would be remiss in this discussion: The “Terms and Conditions” governing the use of this archive is seven pages long and should be read in their entirety. In essence, they state “You can only use the website for your own personal non-commercial use. This means you can use the website to: purchase goods that we may sell on the website; research newspaper archives and other archives featured on the website that you are interested in; download and print low-resolution content for free or high-resolution content subject to payment of a fee (in either event, you cannot share the hardcopy with any third party); transcribe and quote from website content that is out of copyright; use website content that is still in copyright … which includes the website content for private study, research for non-commercial purposes (provided a suitable acknowledgement is included), and criticism, review and news reporting; make use of the social network functionality on the website including our networking tag and comment facilities; and post links to any article or content of interest on third part sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Google. We are also happy for you to help out other people by telling them about the newspaper archives and other information available on the website and how and where they can be found. However, you must not provide them with copies of any of the newspapers (either an original image of the newspapers or the information on the results page), even if you provide them for free.”2

I highly recommend the British Newspaper Archives if you are researching a family line in the British Isles, or if you are looking for historical background information for an article or book. It is easy to use, with a cost that is both economical and easily tailored to your needs.


1 “British Library and brightsolid partnership to digitize up to 40 million pages of historic newspapers; press release, 24 May 2010 brightsolid (,-data-storage-and-publishing/latest-news/recent-news/british-library-and-brightsolid-partnership-to-digitise.html : accessed 5 February 2013).

2 Terms and Conditions, British Newspaper Archive                

( : accessed 5 February 2013).



Did They Really Serve? A Civil War Research Cautionary Tale 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, January 31st, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

If you are a regular reader you know that the Civil War era and research in its records are passions of mine. I have written about my two Dodd ancestors who served in the 6th Connecticut Infantry and my Smith ancestor who did not serve and my effort to find out why. (The current status of that research indicates that he was employed in a paper factory. Did that company make a product used by the military? If so, I may have begun to unravel that particular puzzle). I have also written about my son’s paternal great-great grandfather who, although originally a soldier in a Massachusetts unit, ended the war serving in a Maryland unit under an assumed name. It seems fitting as we continue to commemorate the sesquicentennial of this conflict that I share another example, again from my son’s paternal line, although this time on his grandmother’s side.

The Curtis family of Virginia and West Virginia is my current personal research focus. My son, although he has Union ancestors and despite his West Virginia birth, has lived almost his entire life in Virginia, and really wanted to discover if he had a Confederate ancestor. I thought that his Curtis line might offer the best possibility. I believe (although the process of documentation has not been completed), that this family line descends from John Curtis of Sussex County. Here, however, I will focus on John’s grandson, Claiborne Alexander Curtis.

Claiborne, the son of Churchwell and Lucy Curtis, was born in 1791 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, and died in 1868 in Raleigh County, West Virginia. Claiborne and his first wife, Nancy/Anne Smith, had four children: Eliza, James Parker, Lucy, and Mahala. In 1833, after Nancy’s death in 1830, Claiborne married Martha Lucas Kirks, and the couple had one son, Claiborne Alexander Curtis, Jr., born in 1834.1 Claiborne was a Methodist preacher in Mecklenburg and Botetourt Counties, and later served in the same capacity within the Disciples of Christ while living in Raleigh County, Virginia/West Virginia.

As I was searching the family through the various federal censuses on Ancestry, I noticed in the right-hand side bar that family tree information was available for Claiborne. While I don’t normally consult such resources early in my research, I decided to have a quick look. When printed, the detailed information for Claiborne covered three pages, with detailed notes included for some entries and sources indicated for many. However, when analyzed, these sources were almost always other family trees – not a good sign. Of particular interest, however, was an annotation indicating that his eldest son, James P., served as a private in the 41st Virginia Infantry, and his youngest son, Claiborne, Jr., served in the 7th West Virginia Cavalry.2 I decided to investigate these two pieces of information on the Fold3 web site.

I looked for Claiborne Alexander Curtis, Jr.’s military record first. The family tree information indicated that he had served in the 7th West Virginia Cavalry, enlisting on 26 January 1864 and mustering out on          1 August 1865. I located his record only after discovering that the 7th West Virginia Cavalry was a Union unit. Claiborne was listed in the company’s descriptive book as being 26 years old, 5’7” tall, with a dark complexion, black eyes, and black hair. However … he reported for duty and was enrolled in Raleigh County, Virginia (later West Virginia) on 25 December 1861, and was listed on a detachment muster-in roll for Lt. Dunbar’s Company (Co. H) of the 7th in Buffalo, Putnam County, Virginia (later West Virginia) six days later. He was consistently noted as present on company muster rolls (listed on one as company cook) through 25 November 1862, when he was reported as absent without leave. He was included on a list of deserters dated 8 April 1863. His muster out roll, dated in Wheeling, West Virginia, on 23 January 1865, noted that he deserted on 12 November 1862 “in Fayette County has never returned.” The company’s descriptive book further states that he “deserted company while on a scout in Fayette Co., Virginia, Nov 12/62.”3 So – no Confederate ancestor to be found here, and an example of someone’s inaccuracy in extracting information from the military record.

My second search in Fold3 was for Claiborne, Jr.’s elder brother, James P. Curtis. The family tree information indicated that he was a private in the 41st Virginia Infantry. I quickly found an index record for a James P. Curtis in Co. B of the 41st Virginia Infantry.4 However, with only the jacket and one card including the middle initial “P,” coupled with a notation that this individual had been transferred to the Confederate Navy in 1864, I felt that further documentation was necessary to prove that this James Curtis was the correct individual. I first looked for information on the 41st Virginia. The synonym for Co. B was the Confederate Grays, and the company was formed from Chesterfield, Henrico, and Hanover Counties, as well as the City of Richmond. Supporting this geographic description was the fact that this James enlisted in Manchester, just across the James River from Richmond. This information made little sense for “my” James P. Curtis, who in 1860 was a resident of Giles County, Virginia – quite a distance away. Before I abandoned the search completely, however, I consulted United States, Civil War Confederate Papers of Citizens or Businesses, 1861-1865, also on Fold3.5 This resource may eventually point to a resolution to this identity problem: “Jas P Curtis” was exempted from service as a “Minister of. Religeon” [sic]. I will continue my research to confirm that James did serve as a minister, as did his father. Once again – I found that the Ancestry family tree was incorrect in its military annotations and once again – no Confederate ancestor.

I analyzed the Curtis family information in my own database to determine who else might have had Civil War service. I decided to see if James P. Curtis’ eldest son, Clayborn/Claiborne McChesney Curtis, born in 1845 in Virginia, might have served. I once again turned to Fold3 and discovered a record for C. M. Curtis, who was a private in Co. F of the 45th Infantry.6 This individual enlisted on 1 April 186[?] at Narrows, Virginia, and joined Co. F, which was a company of sharpshooters from Bland County. Narrows, Virginia, is located in Giles County, where Clayborn was living in the 1860 census in his father’s household,7 and the adjacent county to Bland. Although the year of enlistment was not completely filled in on the card, it would make sense that he joined later in the war as he was only 16 or 17 years old when war broke out in 1861. A muster roll dated 1 April 1864 noted that he was absent without leave since 31 March 1864. He must have returned as he was listed on receipt rolls for clothing dated 11 August, 17 September, and 11 December 1864.6 Finally – a Confederate ancestor, my son’s great-great grandfather! Mission accomplished! Further research will determine if Clayborn received a pension from Virginia after the war.

I subtitled this article “a cautionary tale” as it is a splendid example of why it is important not to accept someone else’s research and why analysis of information discovered through research is crucial. My look at the family tree on Ancestry gave me clues (albeit often partially or completely inaccurate) that prompted my further research and documentation. It is unfortunate, however, that such incomplete or incorrect information is then copied exponentially in other trees when just a little research could provide accurate information.

1 1850 U.S. census, Raleigh County, Virginia, population schedule, District 59, pages 14-15 (stamped), dwelling 200, family 200, Claiborne [A.] Curtis; NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 972.

2 “Public Member Trees,” database,

(  : accessed 5 January 2013), “Rosencrantz Family Tree,” entry for Claiborne “Clyde” Alexander Curtis (1791-1868); submitted [unknown date] by William Rosencrantz.

 3 “Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of West Virginia,” database, Fold3 ( : accessed 5 January 2013), entry for Claiborne A. Curtis, Co. H, 7th West Virginia Cavalry; citing National Archives microfilm publication M508, roll 71.

4 “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served from Virginia Units,” digital images, Fold3 ( : accessed 5 January 2013), entry for James P. Curtis, Co. B, 41st Virginia Infantry; citing National Archives microfilm publication M324, roll 862.

5 “Confederate Papers Relating to Citizens and Business Firms, 1861-1865,” digital images, Fold3 ( : accessed 5 January 2013, entry for Jas. P. Curtis; citing National Archives microfilm publication M346, roll 220.

6 “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served from Virginia Units,” digital images, Fold3 ( : accessed 5 January 2013), entry for C. M. Curtis, Co. F, 44th Virginia Infantry; citing National Archives microfilm publication M324, roll 885.

7 1860 U.S. census, Giles County, Virginia, population schedule, [Mechanicksburg P.O.] pages 123-4, dwelling 835, family 779, Claiborne Curtis; NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1345.




Cemeteries and Gravestone Care 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, January 24th, 2013 by Erica | 1 Comment

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

In April 2012, I posted an article about cemetery research resources. This fall, as I visited cemeteries in both Massachusetts and Virginia, I was reminded how much I enjoy walking their paths, surveying the gravestones, and gleaning family information where I can. As I walked in a Virginia cemetery with a friend, she related a story of how, some years ago, the women of the church, concerned that many of the stones had become difficult to read or looked dingy, washed and scrubbed each of them with bleach. While the cemetery apparently looked wonderful after its cleaning, it is now noticeable that the polish on the many marble stones has been completely destroyed. (Any gravestone preservationist reading this anecdote has just suffered a metaphorical heart attack!)

Despite the cold weather and perhaps snowy conditions many of us are now experiencing, spring is coming, bringing with it weather more conductive to cemetery visits. So. here are some topics to consider both as you plan a cemetery visit, and while you are in the cemetery itself. (By the way, Google™ defines a gravestone as “an inscribed headstone marking a grave” and a tombstone as a “large flat inscribed stone standing or laid over a grave. Please note that in this article, I have chosen to use only the term “gravestone.”)

Do your homework prior to arriving at the cemetery.

  • Purchase (or borrow from your local library) a copy of Lynette Strangstadd’s A Graveyard Preservation Primer (AltaMira Press, 1995) and read it to become familiar with issues surrounding the care and preservation of gravestones.
  • While you are noting the cemetery’s address and hours, also identify the individual owner or the organization responsible for the cemetery, as you may need to contact them in order to gain access or to receive permission to clean a particular stone or photograph it.
  • Gravestone rubbings have long been popular among family researchers, and you will find instructions in many locations on the Internet. However, you will want to determine if there are any laws in effect governing your ability to do so. These laws have been enacted at the federal, state, county, and local levels. For example, no stone rubbings are permitted in the national cemeteries operated by the Veterans Administration. At the state level, New Hampshire law states, “No person shall make gravestone rubbings in any municipal cemetery or burial ground without first obtaining the written permission of the town selectmen or the mayor of a city … [who] will ascertain to the best of their ability that the person making the request knows the proper precautions.”1 Michigan has published the Michigan Historic Cemeteries Preservation Guide which recommends against gravestone rubbing, stating that they are “no longer considered an acceptable practice because of the harm and damage that can occur.” The article outlines the concerns posed by this practice, which are worth summarizing:2
    • Rubbing paper may tear allowing rubbing wax to come into contact with the surface of the stone itself. The residue of this wax may discolor the stone, interact with acid rain and accelerate the deterioration of the surface.
    • The edges of raised artwork and incised letters can be damaged by the pressure of the repetitive rubbing process.
    • The pressure of rubbing may exacerbate any previous damage to the stone surface and design elements.
    • The adhesive from tape used to hold the rubbing paper on the stone may leave damaging residue.

Create a “cemetery kit” to carry in your car. This kit should include some of the following:

  • Gardening gloves; hat; umbrella; bug repellant; sun screen; water or drinks, etc. (These items are to help preserve you!)
  • Brush and grass clippers; white nylon bristle-white handle brushes; white, non-lint cloths. Do not use wire or natural-bristle brushes, or those with colored bristles.
  • Bottled water and a non-ionic detergent such as Orvis or Photo-Flo. The former is a PH-neutral solution that, strangely enough, is used to wash horses, but is also endorsed as a cleaning product for everything from gravestones to heirloom quilts. It can be purchased at many tack stores or seed and feed outlets. The latter is a solution, in what again appears to be a strange pairing, often recommended for cleaning photographic equipment as well as grave stones. Photo-Flo decreases water-surface tension, minimizes water marks and streaks, and dries uniformly. It can be purchased in camera stores. Do not use bleach or household cleaners.
  • Camera; tablet or smart phone containing your genealogical files; mirror – if possible, one the size that you would hang on the back of your closet or bathroom door, but at least 8×10”; notebook; pencils.

Once you are in the cemetery and have identified a stone of interest (and any necessary permission to clean or photograph it):

  • Assess the material out of which the stone was created. Depending on the age of the cemetery and individual plot or stone, these materials may include slate, sandstone, limestone, marble, granite, (and more recently bronze). Each of these types of stones has a different density or hardness measured by the Mohs hardness scale, ranging from limestone and sandstone as the softest and granite as the hardest.
  • Assess the condition of the stone.
    • If it is flaking or sounds hollow when you rap it with your knuckles, do not attempt cleaning to prevent further damage.
    • Is it covered with dirt, dust, lichen, mold, fungus, or other such growth? If so, wet the entire stone evenly and then clean the stone in a light circular motion with a soft cloth. Use one of your brushes (gently) if growth or dirt needs to be removed from incisions or lines of artwork detail. Rinse well. While it may seem self-evident, do not use a power washer.
    • In your notebook (or on your tablet) note the location of the grave in the cemetery (street/avenue/path name, as well as row and stone number). In addition to the information on the stone, make notations of the cleaning efforts you have undertaken, including the date, as it is not recommended that cleaning be repeated more frequently than every ten years.
    • Photography is the best alternative to gravestone rubbing. Take several pictures of the stone, both close-up images and longer-range shots which establish the location of the stone in relation to its larger setting. If the surface incisions are difficult to discern, use the mirror in your cemetery kit. The mirror will help create shadows on the face of the stone, or conversely may direct sunlight onto the face of the stone, thus enhancing picture clarity. Do not use chalk to fill in the letters and numbers in order to make them more readable. Chalk contains materials such as plaster of Paris, which is non-biodegradable and can cause discoloration or further damage if not rinsed completely. Do not use shaving cream. This compound contains stearic acid which when applied can act like concentrated acid rain and cause significant damage to the stone. In addition to your stone photographs, also make sure that you have taken a picture of the entrance to the cemetery itself in order to document the location.

Further information is available online, including the following:

Association of Gravestone Studies

Cemetery Conservation and Tombstone Care

Cleaning and Preservation of Tombstones, Headstones and Gravestones

CSI: Cemetery Scene Investigation

Cyndi’s List

Gravestone Preservation Info

International Association of Cemetery Preservationists


1New Hampshire, Statutes, Title XXVI, Section 289.22.

2 Gregg G. King,, Michigan Historic Cemeteries Preservation Guide (Saline, Mich.: McNaughton & Gunn, 2004), 150-151.








Evidence Explained – a Closer Look 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, January 17th, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

This article marks the fifth anniversary (and the 259th article) of


There is something about the dark days of winter that turns our thoughts to organizing our piles of family documents, artifacts and research notes. This year I am determined to do more than think about the project, as cleaning out my mother’s house last winter brought many additional boxes into my home.

My resolve to create order from disorder and to capture the meaning and provenance of various family objects and documents has led me to consider how Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained (2nd ed., Genealogical Publishing Co., 2010) might assist me in describing and inventorying these items.

I concentrated my investigation on Chapter 3, “Archives and Artifacts,” specifically sections 3.24 through 3.40 (pages 138 through 153), which discuss citing privately held materials. I quickly realized that I had many of the specific types of materials including loose Bible pages, marriage certificates, jewelry, portraits, military objects, quilts, newspaper articles, and school photographs. I’ve chosen a few examples to share with you to provide insight into how citations can bring context and order to your family archival materials, and make that information accessible to future generations. I have chosen to use the “First Reference Note” format, and you will notice that each entry includes similar descriptive information: identification of the type of item, current or last-known location, description, and provenance.

  1. Loose Bible pages. Family Bible citations normally include bibliographic information about the Bible. The date of publication and variations in ink and handwriting often allow us to determine if the entries are original or copied. Sometimes, however, we have only the family record pages from a Bible, the actual volume long lost or destroyed. These loose pages still require description, however.

Example:  Buffinton/Buffington Bible Records, 1791-1830, loose “Family Record” pages [births] from unknown Bible; privately held by Carolyn L. Barkley, Roseland, Virginia, 2013. Entries suggest that the original owners were Royal Buffinton (born 1791) and wife Eunice Morse (born 1794), who married ca. 1810. Remaining ten entries are for their children, ranging in date from 1811 to 1830. Handwriting is consistent with the exception of the last entry. Page is in three columns: the left-hand column includes an undefined, non-consecutive number for each entry; the center column gives name and birth (month, day and year); the right-hand column indicates the numbered day of the week (1st-7th) of the birth. This document has passed through various related families to the current owner, who is the fourth great-granddaughter of Royal Buffinton/Buffington.

Example: Aldrich Bible Records, 1810-1916, loose “Family Record” pages [births, marriages, deaths] from unknown Bible; privately held by Carolyn L. Barkley, Roseland, Virginia, 2013. Entries suggest that the earliest owners were Nahum White Aldrich (1810-1879) and Cynthia Buffington (1811-1899), who married 23 December 1833. Handwriting is consistent until the entry for Nahum’s death in 1879. These documents have passed through the Aldrich and Smith families to the current owner who is the third great-granddaughter of Nahum White Aldrich.

  1. Marriage certificates. Certificates of marriage were provided to the bride and groom following their marriage to prove that the marriage took place. They were often quite ornate in design.

Example: Marriage Certificate; privately held by Carolyn L. Barkley, Roseland, Virginia, 2013. Certificate states that Edward S. Smith, of Ware [Massachusetts] and Jennie C. Aldrich, of Belchertown [Massachusetts] were married on 18 May 1859 in Belchertown [Massachusetts] by William N. Fay, Clergyman. The lines for witnesses’ signatures are blank. Illustration (single-color) drawn by W. Momberger and engraved by C. Craske of New York; printed by N. Tibbald, 100 Nassau St., N.Y. This document passed down through the Smith family to the current owner, who is the second great-granddaughter of Edward S. and Jennie C. [Cynthia Jane] Aldrich Smith.

  1. Jewelry.

Example: Clifford F. Smith, wedding ring, 1920; privately held by Carolyn L. Barkley, Roseland, Virginia, 2013. The band is inscribed M.C.A. C.F.S. 7-21-20 [Mildred Carolyn Abbe; Clifford F. Smith]. Ring has been passed from Clifford F. Smith (1890-1972) to his daughter Lois C. (Smith) Lopes (1921-  ) to his granddaughter, the current owner.


  1. Quilt. My great grandmother made one quilt per year, spending the winter months cutting and piecing together the quilt top, and the summer months adding the batting and backing and tying the quilt. While I will eventually document at least the quilter, if not the date, of these quilts, the uniqueness of the following family quilt needs full documentation.


Example:  Quilt; privately held by Carolyn L. Barkley, Roseland, Virginia, 2013. Crazy quilt- style quilt, measuring 64×64, made of various velvet and other materials; piecework U.S. flag in center; embroidered in various colors and shapes including the date 1884; among pieces are fifteen ribbons from Grand Army of the Republic reunions for units in which family members served (10th Massachusetts and 6th Connecticut Infantry and 1st Connecticut Cavalry) and for dedications of Civil War monuments in Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut. Quilters are not specified, but based on the time period and the ribbons used, any one of, or combination of, the following women may have worked on the quilt: Lois (Lanfare) Dodd (1818-1907), Kate (Duncan) Dodd (1839-1908), and Grace L. Dodd [later Grace (Dodd) Smith], (1865-1963). Item has passed through the Dodd and Smith families to the current owner, who is the 3rd great-granddaughter, 2nd great-granddaughter, and great-granddaughter, respectively, of the probable quilters.

  1. Military items.

Example: Uniform buttons; privately held by Carolyn L. Barkley, Roseland, Virginia, 2013. Gold Grand Army of the Republic uniform buttons, three large, one small, manufactured by the Waterbury (Connecticut) Button Company. Buttons belonged to either Frederick Dodd, 2nd Lt., Co. K., 6th Connecticut Infantry (1813-1871) or Frederick O. Dodd, Sgt., Co. K., 6th Connecticut Infantry (1837-1902). Items have passed through the Dodd and Smith families to the current owner, who is the 3rd and 2nd great-granddaughter of the GAR members.

  1. Photographs.

Example: Lois (Lanfare) Dodd (1818-1907), carte-de-visite, November 1862; privately held by Carolyn L. Barkley, Roseland, Virginia, 2013. Sepia-tone photograph was taken and produced by F. W. Burwell, 301 Chapel Street, New Haven, and the reverse side states “Gramma Lois Dodd, New Haven, Nov. 1862.” Photograph has passed through the Dodd and Smith families to the current owner, who is Lois Dodd’s 3rd great-granddaughter.

Example: Classical High School (Springfield, Massachusetts) Class of 1939; privately held by Carolyn L. Barkley, Roseland, Virginia, 2013. Lois C. Smith (1921-   ) is 4th from the right in 5th row of 8 x 10 sepia-tone photograph taken by Bosworth Studio of Springfield, Massachusetts. Current owner is the daughter of Lois C. (Smith) Lopes, member of the graduating class of 1939.

  1. Journals.

Example: Olivio A. Lopes (1921-2006), “Journal” (Troop train trip from Miami Beach, Florida, to [Oklahoma], 16 April 1943-?; pages are incomplete); privately held by Carolyn L. Barkley, Roseland, Virginia, 2013. Current owner is the daughter of the journal’s author.

  1. Certificates.

Example: American Flag House and Betsey Ross Memorial Association Certificate No. G92026; privately held by Carolyn L. Barkley, Roseland, Virginia, 2013. Multicolor certificate awarded to Clifford Smith of Springfield, Massachusetts, (1890-1972) in 1899 certifying his membership and status as subscriber to the fund for the “purchase and preservation of the Historic House in which the First Flag of the United States of America was made and for the erection of a National Memorial in honor of Betsey Ross.” Document was passed to his daughter, Lois C. (Smith) Lopes and then to his granddaughter, the current owner.

Example: Proclamation from the City of Springfield, Massachusetts to Clifford F. Smith (1890-1972); privately held by Carolyn L. Barkley, Roseland, Virginia, 2013. Presented to Clifford F. Smith on his retirement after forty-five years of service – nine years as Assistant City Clerk and thirty-six years as City Clerk – dated 15 January 1959. Document passed to his daughter, Lois C. (Smith) Lopes, and then to his granddaughter, the current owner.

The foregoing illustrations show how the process of citing the information known about each item helps organize its place within family archives, preserving the provenance and importance of the item (while I can still remember them!). I will attach a label with the citation to each item (or to its container) and will also keep a compiled list of citations for easy access when documenting other writing or research.

This work has always been one of those projects “I’ll get to.” Now that I have created citations for just a few of the archival items passed down to me, I see both the value of the work and the ease with which I can accomplish several citations each week.

I had not previously thought of using Evidence Explained for this purpose, although my copy automatically opens to either the section for census records or the one for various types of courthouse records.  I hope you will take time to delve deeper into the information provided in this seminal work and start your winter organization and citation project soon.