Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, January 10th, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

It may have been the seasonal singing of  I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In (whose second line should be “but I can’t prove my ancestor was on it”) or it may have been that I have actually started scheduling a few hours every day to work on my own genealogy (what a concept!). Whatever the case may be, I have been thinking about ships and thought it would be a perfect time to take an in-depth look at a useful online resource –

My previous experience with ship and passenger arrival records has largely been a duel with the incredibly ugly to look at and often indecipherable National Archives microfilm, or with printed multi-volume indices that are not available in many libraries due to cost, shelf space, or collection parameters. Even the various Lloyds of London publications (such as casualty reports, etc.) have posed problems, with a series often starting just a year or two after the date I have in my files. When I discovered, however, I felt I could see light at the end of the research tunnel.

This source is self-described as “a site created to make researching a vessel easier and more effective than it has ever been. We find valuable resources that serve as quality reference material for ships and put every mention of a vessel in that resource into our database.” These resources include citations in books, journals, websites and other resources, and access is provided through a single search on a specific ship’s name. (Yes, you do need to know the name of a ship, but this information can often be identified through other research – obituaries, pension records, family letters, etc.)

My third great-granduncle was Aaron Stephen Lanfare (27 September 1824-19 August 1875) of Branford and, later, New Haven, Connecticut. A Medal of Honor recipient during the Civil War, he went on to captain a spice merchant ship for the Trowbridge Brothers of New Haven – the bark May Flower which, according to Aaron’s widow’s Civil War pension application, was lost at sea in 1875 somewhere between the Bahamas and New York. I have identified the ship in Lloyd’s Register and in the “Shipping News” columns of the New York Mercury (the latter now much more easily accessed through Genealogy Bank or the Historical Newspapers collection at I decided to see what additional information might be available at

First, however, a bit of background information. There are several ways to conduct research at this site. There are 142,804 entries that are accessible at no cost, derived from books such as Robert G. Albion’s Square-Riggers on Schedule: the New York Sailing Packets to England, France, and the Cotton Ports (Princeton University Press, 1938); Howard I. Chapelle’s The American Fishing Schooners, 1825-1935 (W.W. Norton, 1973); Jim Gibbs’ Disaster Log of Ships (Superior Publishing Co., 1971); Basil Lubbock’s The Colonial Clippers (Brown, Son & Ferguson, 1948); and Greg H. Williams’ Civil and Merchant Vessel Encounters with United States Navy Ships, 1800-2000 (McFarland & Co., 2002). The vast majority of entries, however, (2,403,716 to be exact) are available only with “premium access.” A full list of resources is available online, with premium database titles clearly marked with a gold star. The premium database cost is quite reasonable, however. You can subscribe for a monthly recurring fee of $8.00, or there are four fixed-term subscriptions (two weeks, three months, six months, or one year) with costs ranging from $6.00 to $65.00. These subscriptions provide affordable access for a time-period tailored to the intensity of your specific research.

When I completed a preliminary search for the May Flower, the results included fifteen resources (four books, one journal and one online resource) available as part of a free search. Each entry provided me with author and title (if the resource was a printed volume) as well as a link to World Cat to identify a library with the title in its collection, and a link to a bookseller, such as AbeBooks, with a copy for sale. None, however, seemed to meet my search criteria (bark out of New Haven). Also contained in the results were 247 citations from twenty-one resources, including eight books, six journals, and seven online resources from the premium database. Given the large number of citations, I eliminated those which identified geographic locals such as Alaska, Virginia, or Louisiana, and selected for further review only those that identified a bark named May Flower (others were identified as brigs, schooners, sloops, etc.) as I knew from previous research that this rigging was correct. There were six specific entries for May Flower (bark), dating from 1871 to 1877, a perfect span of time for my research. These citations, as they were from the premium database, required a subscription, and I easily updated my free access account to a two-week account via PayPal. Be careful, however, as even though I updated to a fixed-term subscription, my receipt still included a notice that it would renew automatically via PayPal until I cancelled the recurring payment. I will be sure to check on this in two weeks’ time.

The six entries for the bark May Flower in the premium database are all references to the Record of American and Foreign Shipping which has digital images available on the Mystic Seaport Digital Initiative site. While I have accessed this information previously in print format at the Mariner’s Museum Library in Newport News, Virginia, the ability to locate information quickly and print quality copies of the Record from my home computer is convenient. All of these entries were for the correct ship. The last entry is dated 1877, two years after the reported loss of the ship, but no ship’s master is listed for 1876 and 1877, so I will need to determine the meaning of a series of abbreviations in the remarks column to see what they might add to the information. I will continue my work with this list of citations as there are some entries that do not include the type of rigging. In addition, there is an option at the head of the list of citations to “Notify me when this page is updated,” that may prove helpful in the future. I will also duplicate the search using the “Mayflower” variant, and will search Genealogy Bank for further information about the ship. While I did not discover any new information during this initial brief search, I was impressed by the ease with which I could locate information.

A blog is also available at that posts articles about books, conferences, website improvements and database use, lectures, maritime history, new content, and more. You can also “like” the page on Facebook.

Librarians can request a free trial, with subscriptions available based on projected use. These include IP-based access for unlimited simultaneous users, with plans for academic institutions and public libraries. This database allows even the smaller library to provide access to a wide range of information about ships that will be useful to both its genealogy clients and those with an interest in maritime history.

Your core home or library shipping collections will benefit from ownership of the following titles:

American Passenger Arrival Records by Michael Tepper, updated and enlarged, (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993, reprinted 2001).

Immigrant and Passenger Arrivals: a Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications revised ed. (National Archives Trust Fund Board, 1991).

Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals For the Years 1890 to 1930 at the Port of New York, and for the Years 1904 to 1926 at the Ports of New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1931, reprinted 2001).

Ships of Our Ancestors by Michael J. Anuta (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983, reprinted 2006).


Heredis® for Your iPad 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Friday, January 4th, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley


I am a PC user, but I have an iPad which seems like an extension of my right hand. One of the reasons I bought a tablet was to make my genealogy information more accessible when I was away from my desktop. I’ve used an iPad for about two years and am a long-time Master Genealogist user. As the later has no plans (the last time I asked) to create an iOS version of its program, I have been searching for an iPad genealogy app that would meet my research and database needs.

First, I tried GedView. It did allow me to download information via GEDCOM and the information was accessible even when no Wi-Fi or 3G connection was available. GedView at that time, however, was only a viewer; I was unable to edit the information. In addition, because Master Genealogist is my major desktop application, I could not synch information between my files without the considerable effort of exporting and importing GEDCOM files – not my favorite pastime. Consequently, I continued to look for another solution.

Next, I tried Ancestry’s mobile version. Once again, I could access my information easily, but now could also add or delete information from a family file, accessible on any device after I signed into my Ancestry account. But, I still rely on Master Genealogist as the main repository of my family files because of its functionality. If I added or changed any of my information on Ancestry, I would have to reenter it into Master Genealogist to keep the main database current.  I coupled the issue of duplicative work with the fact that the “green leaves” often lead to duplication and confusion if I am not careful, and continued to look for another solution.

After several other trial experiences (and that is “trial” in both senses of the word!), I discovered the Heredis app while scrolling through the iTunes genealogy apps category. Some background research yielded a Dick Eastman post dated 21 June 2012 which announced the launch of a New Blue Suite of programs for Macintosh and iOS, as well as Windows, by the French company Heredis. After some reading of his article, among others, I installed the app on my iPad and began to explore.

I must say that I am very pleased with the results of my preliminary work with this app.

  1. Heredis is very pleasant to look at with a blue theme which is easy on the eyes, clear and readable. While not a technological assessment, perhaps, long hours of research can be quite tiring visually and every little bit of user friendliness is important.
  2. I was able to transfer a GEDCOM file easily into the app by moving the file into DropBox and then opening it with Heredis. So far, so good!
  3. After “hacking around” for a bit (what? Read the manual first?) to discover where various functions were located, I noticed that on the main page (which I, of course had skipped merrily through to get to my family file), if I selected “Help,” I could access assistance in creating people, navigating, illustrating, searching, creating charts, importing/exporting, and synchronization.
  4. Major functions include “Persons,” where I was able to locate a list of individuals in the file from which I could select a specific individual; and “Charts,” where I could view information as four-generation “designed” charts (olive tree, American elm, live oak tree), or in 4, 5 or 6 generation single-page pedigree charts (the more useful of the two styles) that could be either printed (I don’t have a printer compatible with the iPad at this time) or could be emailed as a pdf file. My favorite function, “Indexes,” provided me with a list of either all the places or all the sources in my file. (I understand that Heredis also offers additional index choices, such as one for occupations, depending on the content of your GEDCOM).

This index function is particularly exciting. I can choose, for example, Rockbridge County, Virginia, in the left hand navigation bar, and on the right the app will display “assignments.” These assignments are all of the records (birth, marriages, deaths, land, etc.) contained in the file for that location along with the individuals associated with those records. If I then tap an individual’s name, an event screen is provided with further details (if available) on the specific event (birth, etc.). If I then tap on the arrow beside the event location, I arrive at an integrated map showing the geographical location for that record and individual. WOW!  But, be as specific as possible in your geographic description and be careful to standardize your entry for each geographical place (or at least clean up your GEDCOM) as entries of Augusta Co., Virginia, Augusta County, Virginia, and Augusta Co. Virginia (both in the city detail box) will result in three separate index entries.

The “Person” feature is, I think, my favorite. If I choose a specific individual in the left hand navigation bar, the individual’s family screen comes up. Instead of needing to work through several screens to locate or enter multiple spouses, parents, and grandparents, I can complete all of that information on the same screen. In other words, “at a glance” I can see information about the focus individual, all his or her spouses, all children, both parents, and both sets of grandparents. If any of those boxes are empty, a tap on the box will bring up an entry form to add the information. WOW x 2!

  1. To me the most exciting feature is the ability to synchronize data between Heredis on your iPad or iPhone and your desktop Mac or PC. This attribute appears to resolve one of my major issues with the apps tried previously. Although it is implied in the literature, I would want to confirm that the synchronization function works across platforms. In other words, will I be able to synch my iOS iPad file with my PC desktop tile? WOW x 3!
  2. If you are using Heredis on your iPhone, you can dictate to Siri. WOW x 4!
  3. The Mac version of Heredis is available in standard edition at no cost (imagine that!). The “commercial” version is available for $47.99 (a 20% discount is currently being offered). The PC commercial version can be purchased for $29.90 (at the same 20% discount). Demo versions may be downloaded at no cost.

I have not gone so far as moving from Master Genealogist to Heredis, but I must say that I am strongly considering it. Software reviews are available online that compare Heredis with Family Tree Maker, Legacy, RootsMagic, Ancestral Quest, Family Historian, The Master Genealogist, and several other genealogical programs.

If you are looking for a more user-friendly genealogy app, or if you have just received a new iPad or iPhone for Christmas and want a great genealogy app, take it from me, you will want to investigate Heredis.

The Lure of Maps 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, December 27th, 2012 by Carolyn L. | No Comments

by Carolyn L. Barkley

I love maps – the older the better., I fear, however, that GPS technology may distance us from intimate contact with maps, even as e-mail has all but destroyed the art of writing letters. I freely admit that I often begin a road trip without consulting a map, trusting my GPS to deliver me to my destination and reorient me if I take a wrong turn.

Simply stated, a map is a “geographic representation or scale model of spatial concepts. It is a means for conveying geographic information. Maps are a universal medium for communication, easily understood and appreciated by most people, regardless of language or culture. Incorporated in a map is the understanding that it is a ‘snapshot’ of an idea, a single picture, a selection of concepts from a constantly changing database of geographic information….Old maps provide much information about what was known in times past, as well as the philosophy and cultural basis of the map….Maps are one means by which scientists distribute their ideas and pass them to future generations.”1

As a genealogist and historian, I use maps to provide me with links that allow me to “put my ancestors’ feet on the ground,” and, in some instances, allow me to stand in their footsteps. This statement is somehow much richer than the basic definition.

Individuals have been lured by maps for centuries, with the earliest examples dating from the Babylonian Empire. The Greeks, the Romans, medieval monks, the Vikings, Renaissance printers, surveyors, and individuals from many cultures have expanded man’s knowledge of cartography and provided rich documents for the historians and researchers of the future. Today we are able to access their maps, both fanciful and incredibly detailed, informing us of the worlds of our ancestors.

Here are five groupings of map resources that I have encountered through my research or that I own in my home library. These choices are clearly not meant to be exhaustive, but rather are provided to whet your appetite with some interesting opportunities. I know that you have personal favorites as well.

  1. Virginia in Maps: Four Centuries of Settlement, Growth and Development, edited by Richard W. Stephenson and Marianne M. McKee (Library of Virginia, 2000). This title is the definitive map book for Virginia history, beginning with very early maps such as Robert Tindall’s 1608 rendering of Jamestown, and running through modern satellite image maps. If you do Virginia research, this book should be part of any “wish list.” The Library of Virginia has an extensive map collection and encourages membership in the Fry-Jefferson Map Society.
  2. Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920, by William Thorndale and William Dollarhide (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2012) is a title which I keep within reach at my desk. I have used it so frequently, that it is beginning to fall apart. While I acknowledge that there are software programs such as Animap that provide the same information in a more portable, technological format, I confess to liking the hard copy (unless I’m traveling when weight is a problem). My most recent use of the Map Guide was to orient myself to county development in New Jersey in order to more correctly edit a client’s book (for example, Mercer County did not exist until 1838, and thus not reflected in the census until 1840).
  3. United States research requires us to learn about vast geographical areas during multiple historical periods. As the country expanded westward, pulling our ancestors into new locations, their new locations require us, as researchers, to learn about the geographical and socio-economic pressures which governed their lives and influenced their life choices. Whether it is a map of an east-coast post road shown in William Dollarhide’s Map Guide to American Migration Routes, 1735-1815 (Heritage Quest, 1997), or a map about westward expansion in such titles as Carrie Eldridge’s An Atlas of Settlement between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi-Missouri Valleys (CDM Printing, 2006) and An Atlas of Northern Trails Westward from New England (CDM Printing, 2000), or more specialized collections such as county historical atlases, Derek Hayes’ Historical Atlas of the North American Railroad (Univ. of California Press, 2010), or Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, a wealth of background information is available in maps.
  4. The military experiences of our ancestors can be enriched through the use of resources such as The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War (Barnes and Noble, 2003), a large-sized reprinting of the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, published by the U.S. Government Printing Office between 1891 and 1895. A magnificent collection of military maps is also available through the Library of Congress’ American Memory project site including maps from the Revolutionary War through World War II.
  5. Online maps (there is so much more than Google maps!) provide convenient access to vast collections of cartographic material. Once again the Library of Congress’ American Memory site is a wonderful place to explore what is available, but you will also want to check out sites such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Historical Maps Online, featuring maps from “four hundred years of historical development in Illinois and the Northwest Territory,” or the David Rumsey Map Collection, with over 36,000 maps and images online. Old Maps Online is a “search portal for historical maps from five different map libraries in Europe and the United States, offering access to an estimated 60,000 maps. You will want to reserve several hours of uninterrupted “surfing” in the University of Texas Libraries’ Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collections’ nine pages of links to maps from Africa, Asia, Australia/Pacific, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Middle East, Russia, South America, the United States, and astronomy.

As I began the list with a map resource for my home-state (that is differentiated from birth-state!) of Virginia, I will also share, as a bonus, map sources from one of my research concentrations – Scotland. Many of us own gazetteers of Scotland, whether it be Samuel Lewis’ A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851, Genealogical Publishing Co., 2002, but currently out of print) or John Wilson’s 1882 publication, The Gazetteer of Scotland (Heritage Books, 2002). Geography, however, become three dimensional, and stories more meaningful, when we can actually see a specific location. I recommend the wonderful collection of map images provided by the National Library of Scotland, including maps of counties, towns, estates, geographical locations, and military campaigns; the collection numbers over 48,000 maps of Scotland. In addition, if you do Scottish research and are a map lover, try to locate a library (and probably not your local public library) with a copy of William Roy’s The Great Map: the Military Survey of Scotland 1747-55 (reprinted by Birlinn Ltd. in 2007). This collection is outstanding for its illustration detail and depth of information. I own a copy, a rather (probably the right word is incredibly) lavish retirement gift to myself, but one that I have never regretted.

There are many more types of maps that I have not included here: ordinance survey maps, USGS maps…well, the list could go on and on. I hope you will use this article as the stepping stone to many enjoyable hours spent among maps of all kinds.


1 James S. Aber, Brief History of Maps and Cartography ( : accessed 27 December 2012).


Who Built Mount Rushmore? 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, December 20th, 2012 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

A few observations before beginning to write about the workers who built Mt. Rushmore. First, this article would probably have been more appropriate for a Labor Day post, but as a blogger with five years worth of postings (think 260 articles); I have to seize a blog topic when it pops into my mind. Second, some articles sound great when I schedule the topic, but turn out less well – or at least differently – than I expect. This article is one of those that didn’t quite realize the original goal.

The saga starts last July when I visited Mount Rushmore National Monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Much has been written about Gutzon Borglum–who was lured away from his carving at Stone Mountain (Georgia) to initiate work on the new mountain-side sculpture—and people like Doane Robinson, known as the “Father of Mount Rushmore; John Boland who helped raise funds and monitored expenses; Senator Peter Norbeck of South Dakota; Congressman William Williamson who successfully realized Congressional funding and brought President Calvin Coolidge for a visit in 1927; and, the mountain’s namesake, New York City Attorney Charles E. Rushmore, who in the late 1880s conducted title searches in the Black Hills area. Scarcely anything is known, however, of the individuals who actually did the manual labor to create the monument.

During my visit, I noticed a plaque, located quite conspicuously in the entrance arcade, listing all the names of the individuals who worked on the monument (a list is available at the National Park Service’s Mount Rushmore website). Those 400 names piqued my interest. Each name documents an enormous effort, despite extremes of weather and physical dangers, over the long span of fourteen years (1927 to 1941) which it took to complete the project. As a visitor standing in the entranceway looking up, I found it hard to imagine the every-day experiences that produced the final monument to our some of our nation’s most influential leaders.

I left the Black Hills with the idea that I would, at some point, discover a little about the workers. One of the first things that I noticed was the imaginative nicknames listed for many of them, which seemed to offer tantalizing snapshots of personalities. Were Edward Anton, nicknamed “Pee Wee,” and Frank Hudson, nicknamed, “Shortie,” really short? Why was Albert Gensler called “Babe?” Did Lloyd Virtue, live up to his nickname of “Lively,” or did Leonard “Red” Zwanziger have red hair? Was Alton Parker “Hoot” Leach, the father of Clyde Arthur “Little Hoot” Leach? (Perhaps we don’t want to wonder why H.V. Huntimer was called “Big Dick!”) Nicknames notwithstanding, I imagined that I would easily be able to identify these men – and occasional women – through the 1930 and 1940 censuses and then be able to provide brief vignettes about some of the more interesting individuals. In actuality, I discovered that the research, if it were to be done thoroughly and well, required far more time than I had available to devote to the effort.

I began by starting with the first name, searching for them in the 1930 federal census for South Dakota. This method quickly proved both time consuming and fairly fruitless; a new strategy was required. I consulted Ann S. Lainhart’s State Census Records (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2008) from which I learned that a 1935 state census existed for South Dakota. I mentally crossed my fingers and checked first Ancestry and then FamilySearch and discovered that the latter provided access to digitized images from that 1935 census. I once again began my methodical approach to researching the workers’ names.

In fact, I was able to locate some individuals in the 1935 census. I was ecstatic when I identified an entry for O. E. Anderson (Otto E. on the plaque), aged 33, born in South Dakota, living with his spouse (maiden name Hamilton) in the 2nd township in Keystone (the location of Mount Rushmore), Pennington County, South Dakota. His occupation? Stone cutter! As I began to locate other names from the plaque, I began to see a pattern: many individuals, served by the Keystone Post Office lived in Township 2, section 6E, identified as being in the northern Black Hills area. When I could make a definite match, I discovered laborers, blacksmiths, carpenters, and mechanics, all possible trades that would have been employed during construction.

With the township and section more clearly defined, I re-visited to the 1930 federal census, now focused on a search in Pennington County. Rather than search name by name (there are 400 names after all), I decided to browse the township, line by line, through at least one part of township 2, section 6. I quickly discovered that I could scan down the occupation column as workers were clearly identified when they were involved in the Mount Rushmore project. Thus I was able to confirm that Harvey Brown was a 48-year-old blacksmith, born in South Dakota and residing with his wife and one child, and employed at Mount Rushmore. J.C. Denison was a 58-year-old head of household, born in South Dakota, and working at Mount Rushmore as a laborer. Lodgers in his household included Charles Flathers, a 44-year-old laborer, born in Iowa; and Loid E. Whitney, a 40-year-old laborer, born in South Dakota, both employed at the monument project. Laborers were of all ages, including Charles O. Chaney (Charles O. Cheney on the plaque), who was a 68-year-old widower, born in Ohio. His age provides some insight into his nickname – “Pops.” Harry Burchard, aged 33 and born in Iowa of Germany parents, was a laborer, living with his wife Charlott [sic], and children Ruby, 10, born in Minnesota; Darrell, 8; Kathryn 5; Wayne, 3; and Roger 1; all born in South Dakota. The household of Raymond Groves, a 48-year-old stonemason who was born in Minnesota, suggests that individuals in that trade followed their craft from place to place, as he had a son, Walter, aged 18, born in Minnesota; a daughter Alma, aged 15, born in Montana; and a daughter Vivian, aged 5, born in South Dakota.

Some of the 400 were neither in the 1930 federal census for South Dakota nor in the 1935 South Dakota state census. In some cases I couldn’t confirm that a census-enumerated individual with the same name as a Rushmore worker were one and the same. Was Walter G. Atwell for example,  a construction engineer living in King County, Washington in 1930 and in Tulare County, California in 1940, the same Walter G. Atwell listed on the plaque? Only further research could say. Others may have worked on the project for only a few years between censuses. Still others have their stories available online, such as that of Luigi Del Bianco, the chief carver of the monument. He immigrated to Barre, Vermont, a stone cutting center, from Italy prior to WW I, returned to fight for his native country during World War I, and returned to the U.S. after the war. From Barre, he moved to Port Chester, New York, where he was enumerated in the 1930 census with his wife, Nellie, and sons Silvio and Vincent. He had worked for Borglum at Stone Mountain and other projects, and was brought into the Mount Rushmore project in 1933. In 1940, he was enumerated in Westchester, New York, employed as a stone cutter for a WPA project.

I only wish I had the time to continue delving into the lives of the 400 workers. Further information can be located through diligent searches of newspaper articles, other collections of South Dakota and Pennington County records, and with deeper searching through online resources and printed material. Little by little, this list of 400 names can give up its stories and provide insight into the everyday workings of the monument project. These individuals are indeed more than “just names on a wall” (to quote the Statler Brothers).



Mourning Photography – Remembering the Recently Departed 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, December 13th, 2012 by Erica | No Comments

by Carolyn L. Barkley

A picture of a deceased family member, in today’s world, is not an unusual part of our family archives. With the advent of affordable cameras, (and now smart phones, iPads, etc.) for the average individual, our albums (or archival boxes, disk drives, or Cloud storage) include many pictures of deceased family members. These pictures, however, are seldom taken after death. Modern sensibilities would consider such pictures more than a bit ghoulish. Earlier generations, however, particularly those living during the Victorian era (beginning in 1831 and lasting until the end of the nineteenth century) considered them in a completely different light.

For individuals living prior to the invention of the daguerreotype in 1839, the only way to preserve the likeness of a family member was a painted portrait, often in miniature, that could be transported more easily. Such paintings, however, were expensive and normally available only to the wealthy class, and were subject to the skills of the artist. For those less fortunate, the image of a deceased loved one existed, most likely, only in memory. The daguerreotype, however, provided an exact likeness and made this photographic image available to a larger segment of the population. The later development (pardon the pun) of other formats, including the carte de visite, further expanded the audience. For many families, a picture of the recently deceased individual might be the only likeness they had, particularly for children.

The practice became, then, for a photographer to visit the bereaved family, often soon after the body had been prepared for burial. Initially, however, these individuals were not photographed in their coffin. They were, instead, usually glimpsed in close-ups of faces, although sometimes the entire body was photographed, often in repose on a bed. A review of such photographs quickly illustrates many are children, emphasizing the high rate of child mortality during the time period. Children, in addition to being shown in their cradles or beds, were photographed while they were held in their mothers’ arms.

More disconcerting to modern sensibilities, however, are the pictures in which the deceased individuals are posed in life-like situations with other, living, family members (a friend of mine said this constituted a new definition of “still life”). An example is seen to the left in a photograph from Wikimedia Commons.

We are familiar with the stiffness (oops, another pun) of many poses in pictures from this time period as individuals had to remain in one position for an extended period while the picture was exposed. However, if you have such an image among your family pictures, you may want to analyze them carefully. Can you see any mechanism holding an individual in a specific pose? Are hands placed in unnatural positions? Often a post was clamped at the waist and neck to hold the individual in place, while wires held the arms. Are the eyes of the individual open or has the photographer “painted” the pupils over the closed eyelids? One of the best examples of this type of composition is a picture of a young girl standing between her mother and father. At first glance it looks like a typical family portrait, but closer investigation reveals the staging behind the picture.

Another practice during this era was the addition of a photograph to a gravestone. I first discovered this practice in a cemetery in my home town (East Longmeadow, Massachusetts). As a teenager, I visited (for some reason, long forgotten) the Billings Hill Cemetery (corner of Prospect and Pease) and discovered a gravestone with a porcelain plaque that, once the cover was slid to the side, revealed a picture of the person buried beneath. This past Thanksgiving, with some extra time on my hands, I decided to re-visit the cemetery and see if the picture was still there. Relying on at least 45-year old memories, I was successful. After walking up and down the several rows, I found the gravestone of Angeline B. Lathrop (wife of F.K. Lathrop), who had died in February 1859 at age 28 (see my picture below). Sadly, the cover is now gone,  and the picture has been destroyed by the elements. I was curious, however, about the fact that Angeline’s is the only gravestone in that cemetery (379 interments) with such a picture affixed to it. I wondered why.

Quick, preliminary research in the 1850 census located Frederick K. Lathrop, aged 26, living in Longmeadow, Hampden County, Massachusetts (East Longmeadow was not founded until 1894), with his mother Caroline, and his brother, Joseph.1 Continuing the search, I located an Angeline Billings, aged 20, living with her father and mother, Warrin and Emily, and siblings Truman, Harriet, and Emilus.Both the Lathrop and Billings family had real estate valued at $2,000. By the 1860 census, Frederick had remarried and had a five-year old son. At that time, he had real estate valued at $2,500 and personal property valued at $1,200.3 While the research didn’t explain why Angeline’s gravestone was the only one with a photograph, it does suggest that her family (both hers and her in-laws) had the financial ability to purchase one.

Pleased with my (re)discovery, I returned home to Virginia and mentioned my experience to a friend who volunteered that a similar stone existed in a cemetery in Crimora (outside Staunton), Virginia. On Monday, we set out to look. We arrived at the Trinity Lutheran Church (2564 Rockfish Road), described on its sign as the oldest Lutheran congregation in Augusta County (dating from 1772). We ambled happily through the cemetery’s oldest section remarking on the many Revolutionary war graves, one 1812 grave, and many lovely German stones.

Then, we found it…the gravestone of Eliza Jane Harris, wife of James Harris, who died in August 1861 at the age of 24. What was particularly exciting to me was the porcelain plaque on the stone, again with the cover missing and the picture disintegrated – and again, the only such plaque in the cemetery. Another quick search, this time in the 1860 census, identified Eliza Jane Harris, aged 22, living in the same household with her husband James H., a dentist, aged 25; their daughter Laura, aged 2, and their son, M.H., aged 5 months. The head of household is Eliza Rosenberger (presumed mother of Eliza) and her (presumed) daughter Susan, and brother, A.G.4 While James has only $300 in personal property, Eliza Rosenberger had  real estate valued at $5,480 and personal property valued at $1,590. Once again, this family has the economic means to purchase the plaque for Eliza Jane’s gravestone. BUT, one again, her stone is the only one in the cemetery with a porcelain picture plaque.

I don’t have the answer as to why only one stone in each of the cemeteries, but I am intrigued by the two instances – one in Massachusetts and one in Virginia – within two years of one another (1859 and 1861) with a similar porcelain picture plaque. Clearly more research is in order.

Meanwhile, several online sources provide collections of Victorian mourning photographs including the Museum of Mourning Photography and Memorial Practice (MoMP), The Thanatos Archive, and the collection of Paul Frecker. In addition, an article, “Faces from the Past – Ceramic Memorial Plaques,” posted on 18 May 2012 on the blog A Grave Interest explores ceramic memorial plaques, dating the process to about 1854.

Our ancestors dealt with death with greater frequency than we do today. It was not unusual to have several children die in large families. Photographs of the dead were ways these families used to keep the memory of their loved ones close.


1 1850 U.S. census, Hampden County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Longmeadow, p. 4B, dwelling 64, family 66, Frederick K. Lathrop, digital image, ( : accessed 12 December 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 318.

2 1850 U.S. census, Hampden County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Longmeadow, p. 9 (stamped), dwelling 142, family 147, Angeline Billings, digital image, ( : accessed 12 December 2102); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 318.

3 1860 U.S. census, Hampden County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Longmeadow (Wilbraham Post Office), p. 62, dwelling 544, family 574, Frederick K. Lathrop, digital image, ( : accessed 12 December 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 503.

4 1860 U.S. census, August County, Virginia, population schedule, North Subdivision, p. 183, dwelling 1241, family 1246, Eliza J. Harris, digital image, ( : accessed 12 December 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1333.

‘Tis the Season for Genealogy Gifts 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, December 6th, 2012 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

Now is the season for gift-giving. Do you have a genealogist on your holiday list? Perhaps, you are a genealogist who needs to provide a list of gift ideas to a family member. Here are five ideas to help your holiday shopping.

  1. Give the gift of books. Thomas Jefferson stated “I cannot live without books.” I couldn’t agree more. While some may debate the future of the printed word, I believe that it has a long successful future within the genealogical community. There are many titles that would be great additions under your tree. Examples include any – better yet, any combination of titles – from the Genealogy at a Glance series from These laminated, four-page basic research guides make great research travel companions, weighing little and consuming minimal suitcase space. Library Journal, in its December 2012 issue, includes a “Short Takes” in which it states that “offering vetted online resources, further reading suggestions, and practical tips…these pamphlets will provide novices with a starting point, while more advanced researchers will likely discover in them a detail or two they hadn’t considered.” Currently, there are eighteen titles in the series including research in the Family History Library, ethnic research (French, Italian, Scottish, Cherokee, African American, French-Canadian, English, Irish, and German), research in various states (Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Virginia), and several other topics including American cemeteries, Ellis Island, immigration, U. S. federal census records, and Revolutionary War genealogy. The cost is perfect for filling that Christmas stocking – just $8.95 each.

Another perfect one for gifting is Todd Andrik’s Reporting the Revolutionary War: Before It Was History, It Was News (Sourcebooks, Nov. 2012, $39.99), while Andrea Wulf’s Founding Gardeners: the Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation (Knopf, 2011, $35.00) is a great book for a cold winter evening. Perhaps one of the best gifts would be a copy of Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (2nd ed., Genealogical Publishing Co., 2010. $59.95) a must-have for anyone’s home genealogical library.


  1. Give the gift of an online subscription, a gift that will keep giving all year long. The choices are limitless, but here are a few to consider: access to 2.5 billion fully searchable records and historical documents (an increase of 1 billion records over this time last year). Gift memberships are available for different terms, beginning with a three month subscription for only $19.95.

□  GenealogyBank: access to over one billion family history records, including historical newspapers (1690-2010), historical books (1749-1900), and historical documents (1789-1994), plus additional collections such as the Social Security Death Index. Subscriptions start at $9.95 for a thirty-day trial and then cost $69.95 per year (monthly rate is also available).

□  Newspaperarchive: access to 120 million newspaper pages (1607-present) from ten countries and all fifty-states. An annual subscription costs $39.95.

□  Fold3: access to 101,397,324 records in the “web’s premier collection of original military records.” Subscriptions cost $79.95 per year, with a discount offered to subscribers and National Genealogical Society members, among others.

□  Ancestry: access to what is, arguably, the world’s largest collection of online genealogical resources. Ancestry makes it simple to give a gift subscription – just look for the “gift membership” tab at the upper right of the home page. Subscriptions focusing on United States research are available for $155.00 per year, or $77.00 for six-months; subscriptions encompassing the world are available for $299.00 per year, or $149.00 for six-months.

  1. Give the gift of technology. If you keep up with genealogical posts on Facebook, or read genealogy-related blogs throughout the year, you will have run across many possible gifts in the technology category. Probably the one most prominently discussed is the Flip-pal mobile scanner.

This device is capable of scanning (at 600 and 300 dpi) photographs, drawings, documents, and other printed items, as well as small objects such as coins. Large objects can be scanned in sections and the device’s software will “stitch” the images together.  Images are stored on an SD card and can be uploaded to your computer or laptop. Cordless, compact, and lightweight, the Flip-pal makes the perfect scanner to take along on research trips. The cost is $149.00, and a variety of accessories such as carrying cases are available as well. A Flip-pal can be purchased from a number of online vendors including

  1. Give the gift of membership. There are many membership opportunities starting with local historical or genealogical societies, and ending with regional organizations such as the New England Historic Genealogical Society (beginning at $79.95 per year) and national organizations such as the National Genealogical Society ($65.00 per year). Membership in an organization such as the Association of Professional Genealogists, moreover, will support life-long learning on a continuing basis (full membership, $65.00 per year).
  2. Give the gift of learning. Genealogy, both as a profession and as a hobby, necessitates constant learning and skill-building., and numerous opportunities are available annually. You may want to gift a small scholarship to defray the cost of registration or travel to one of the many genealogy conferences and programs available each year. Some examples of the latter include the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy each January; RootsTech, in Salt Lake City in March 2013; the New England Regional Genealogical Conference, held every two years and scheduled in Manchester, New Hampshire, in April 2013; the Samford Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research in June 2013 on the campus of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama; the National Institute on Genealogical Research held in Washington, D.C. in July, and the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference, scheduled for August 2013 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

I hope that some of these ideas will help put genealogy under your tree or in your stocking – or those of your favorite genealogist.

Get Thee to the Courthouse – Why Visiting in Person is Still Necessary 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, November 29th, 2012 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

I think that we genealogists may be in danger of falling victim to the need for instant satisfaction. The ability to look at records on Ancestry or FamilySearch, or any number of online resources, is seductive. We like the fact that we don’t have to leave the comfort of our own homes – or at least, don’t have to go further than our local library – to do our research. The plethora of materials accessible with ease saves us a great deal of time and effort – and for those of us with asthmatic tendencies — prevents exposure to moldy and musty materials. What could be wrong with this image, you might ask? First, the majority of courthouse records are not available online at this time, although some jurisdictions are more open to digital access than others. Second, in my judgment, when we rely too heavily on easy online access, we risk distancing ourselves from the records themselves, depriving ourselves of a more intimate understanding of their content, organization, and relationship with other records in the same geographical area. What is my solution? Read on…

When at all possible, visit a courthouse in person. If distance prohibits such onsite research, consult microfilm copies of the records. Here are some strategies:

  1. First plan your research trip well. Locate current information about location and hours, including holidays. Learn the rules governing scanning (Flip-Pal), taking photographs, or photocopying records. Rules concerning these activities will vary courthouse to courthouse. Some allow personal scanners, some don’t; some allow you to take photographs, but not photocopy; some allow you to photocopy, but nothing else. Some will allow you to photocopy any book that can be taken apart (ah, those lovely steel rods), some don’t care. Some will allow you to make your own photocopies; some require you to submit a request. In addition, determine the cost of copies. In my experience, the cost can range from fifty cents to one dollar per page. Then there are some curious rules which depend upon the individual county clerk! In Amherst County, Virginia, you must request a specific chancery case file in advance, requiring, then, at least two trips as you probably only identified the case during your first trip. Even though I live only an hour or so away from that courthouse, it is an annoying rule. At the Southampton County, Virginia, courthouse several years ago, when you had identified several record books from which you needed copies, you could not stack them on top of one another. Staff at the Goochland County, Virginia, courthouse have apparently discovered that their photocopy revenue was decreasing as more individuals began using personal cameras and scanners. This courthouse now charges fifty cents per copy no matter what method you use to make your copy – yes, that’s right, even if you take a picture with your own camera!
  2. Identify records that are unavailable online as part of your research plan; do not spend your time looking at material that you can view effectively online. Consider online records for Albemarle County, Virginia. A quick card catalog keyword search for “Albemarle” in Ancestry identifies only twelve entries, only six of which pertain to Albemarle County in Virginia. More importantly, none of the entries provide access to a digitized image of an original record. While Virginia Births 1886-89 and 1890-96, and Virginia Marriages, 1851-1929 may be helpful in your research, they are abstracts only. A record search in FamilySearch, filtered by Virginia as a geographical location, identifies fourteen collections, but none specifically for Albemarle County (the filter is unavailable below the state level). Three entries, Virginia Births and Christenings (1853-1917), Virginia Marriages (1785-1940), and Virginia Deaths and Burials (1853-1912) do contain Albemarle records (32,833 births and christenings, 185 marriages, 8,149 deaths and burials, respectively), but if you read the collection description carefully, you will discover that all three point to the same database which does not contain images of original records. The Library of Virginia’s A Preliminary Guide to Pre-1904 County Records in the Virginia State Library and Archives, however, indicates that original Albemarle records are available for several courts (Circuit, County, District, Superior Court of Law, Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery, etc.), election records, fiduciary records, registrations of free Negroes, land records, marriage records and vital statistics, military and pension records, road and bridge records, tax and fiscal records, township records, wills, sheriff receipt books, etc. What a difference!
  3. Once onsite, visually browse the entire record room collection before you start your research. When I visit a courthouse that is new to me, I always walk the shelves in order to understand what records are available for what years; what records have indices (while deeds and wills are usually indexed, order or minute books may not be); what titles are used for specific record groups (for example, Nelson County, Virginia, calls all non-chancery courts cases “Law Causes”); and understand their arrangement. (I once struggled to locate deeds in the Frederick County, Maryland, courthouse as the record book titles seemed to have no understandable arrangement – turned out that they were arranged by the initials of the county clerk, making chronological browsing of the shelf impossible unless you knew the sequence of clerks.) Be sure to ask the clerk what records may be accessible on request, but are located in the vault; or what records have been transferred to a state archive or library. Such browsing can also locate research gems such as the Surveyor’s Books (spanning the years 1750 through 1853) that I found while browsing the shelves in the Albemarle County courthouse. Many of the early surveys were done by Joshua Fry, who, with Peter Jefferson, is responsible for the well-known 1751map entitled A Map of the Most Inhabited Part of Virginia containing the Whole Province of Maryland with Part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina. Early surveyor’s books are not commonplace in courthouse collections and can prove invaluable in solving research problems.
  4. Read the source that is as close to the original record as possible and read it in context. All of us know that as information from an original record is transcribed, abstracted, or otherwise interpreted, the possibilities for error increase exponentially. In addition, available online indexing, although in some cases the only indexing that exists, can be vexing at best and misleading at worst. Only by reading the original are you able to analyze the information yourself. Yes, online digitized records provide us with an exact image of the original, but have you ever had difficulty with a clerk’s handwriting? By spending some of your research time reading several records in the same clerk’s hand, you will be able to understand whether that name is “Sand” or “Land,” for example.
  5. If, however, you are unable to visit the courthouse personally, the next best strategy is to look at microfilm of the records pertinent to your research, applying the same techniques as if you had the bound volume or loose paper in front of you. The microfilm may be available through your state archives/library or through the Family History Library. My search for Albemarle County, Virginia, in the Family History Library catalog identified thirty subject categories, including entries for microfilmed courthouse records, many of which were listed in the Library of Virginia’s finding aid mentioned above.

Some resources to assist you in your courthouse research include Christine Rose’s Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures (CR Publications, 2004) and Courthouse Indexes Illustrated (CR Publications, 2006), as well as the classic County Courthouse Book by Elizabeth Petty Bentley (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2009), now in its third edition.

Research in a county courthouse is one of my favorite genealogical activities. Step away from that computer and get up close and personal with the records. You’ll be glad you did.

1620 and all that – Resources for Mayflower Research 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 by Erica | No Comments

By Carolyn L. Barkley

This article was originally posted on November 21st 2008. I thought it was worth sharing the information once again, with minor updatess.

Thanksgiving was just yesterday [OOPS! This article was supposed to post on Friday, 23 November...obviously we enjoyed too much turkey! Sorry for the delay]. In addition to the turkey and trimmings, this day is inextricably linked to the voyage of the Mayflower and its landing at Plymouth on the coast of Massachusetts. My primary purpose is to share information about the wealth of resources available about the voyage and its passengers, but first, as a native of Massachusetts and a thirty-seven year resident of Virginia, I’m obliged to muse momentarily on the origins of the thanksgiving event.

Growing up in Massachusetts, every school child’s attention is focused on the Mayflower passengers and their feast of thanksgiving held in 1621. The New England tradition, of course, flies in the face of Virginia’s claim to the first Thanksgiving, let alone that of St. Augustine, Florida, where a Thanksgiving celebration was held in September 1565! In 1619, a group of settlers left Bristol, England, and landed three months later at the present-day site of Berkeley plantation on the James River in Virginia. The tradition is that immediately after reaching sold ground, they fell to their knees and thanked God for their safe arrival. A rivalry about whether the Virginia event in 1619 or the Massachusetts event in 1621 represents the “real” Thanksgiving continues today. Both are re-enacted annually and I would suggest that they can coexist as different types of Thanksgiving events, although neither of them is the “first” in the New World. The Massachusetts event was a harvest festival in which the settlers gave thanks for the summer’s crops and their survival through the harsh first winter. They were joined by Wampanoag Chief Massasoit and about ninety of his men who brought venison and turkey. The Virginia event was a religious service of thanksgiving at which a meager meal of bacon, peas, cornmeal cakes and cinnamon water was served. (It is interesting to note that at the time of the Mayflower’s arrival, Massachusetts was considered to be a northern part of Virginia.) Thanksgiving proclamations were made by American presidents beginning with George Washington. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln formally designated Thanksgiving as a national holiday to be held on the final Thursday of November.

Who, then, were the individuals feasting and giving thanks in Massachusetts in 1621? They would not have referred to themselves as “Pilgrims,” a term applied to any travelers for religious purposes, but rather as “Saints.” Some were Puritans, some were not. They arrived in the new world at the end of a long journey from England, first to to Leyden in Holland, and then back to England, where they finally embarked for North America. Nicholas Philbrick’s Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (Viking, 2006) presents a very readable, comprehensive history of the voyage and landing of the Mayflower and the history of Plymouth Colony in the years after their arrival.

A story in my family had always tied one of my maternal lines to Thomas Rogers, a passenger on the Mayflower. One version said his nephew Joseph, who arrived after the first winter, was the direct ancestor; my later research suggested that the lineage descended from Joseph, one of his younger sons. For a number of years I tried to document the line conclusively, but consistently have been confounded by the several Noah Rogers who existed in later generations. In addition, the Joseph Rogers who many believe to be Thomas’ son is not accepted by the Mayflower Society as a qualifying ancestor, so my research into Mayflower ancestry has not been successful to date. The Mayflower Society’s web site is a good place to start for anyone hunting for Separatist roots, as it lists the twenty-six men and three women who are accepted ancestors for membership purposes. The site’s bookstore offers an extensive list of titles for sale, including the latest revisions of works in the Society’s Five Generations Project.

Robert Charles Anderson’s Great Migration Study Project is a seminal work for New England researchers in general and Mayflower enthusiasts in particular. The project’s aim is to “compile comprehensive genealogical and biographical accounts of every person [twenty thousand English men, women, and children] who settled in New England. Such information will eliminate much duplication of research and make authoritative, well-documented material available to all researchers.” The project publishes a series of volumes, each of which features sketches for about 200 individuals for the period 1620 to 1633; future volumes will cover 1634 and 1635. Sketches may include such information as place of origin, migration date, first residence, removes, occupation, education, offices, estate, birth, death, marriage, children, and more. In addition, a Great Migration newsletter supplements this work with “feature articles on a variety of topics, including the settlement of early New England towns, migration patterns, seventeenth-century passenger lists, church records, [and] land records.” The first phase of the project, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, can be searched by New England Historic Genealogical Society members at that organization’s web site.

Researchers will also find an extensive list of resources for Mayflower ancestry at

The Internet also provides a wealth of research information.

Whether you are from Massachusetts, Virginia, or elsewhere, you may discover a Mayflower ancestor in your lineage. I hope that some of the resources here will help guide you on your journey back to Plymouth and beyond. Revisited 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Friday, November 16th, 2012 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley


Last month I wrote a posting about my experiences with In it, I noted that I had been a subscription-level member for approximately three weeks and had received no messages about record matches or Smart Matches™. As a reminder, a record match is a match between information in a family tree which you have uploaded to the site and information in a variety of data collections; a Smart March™ links a specific piece of information in your family tree with information contained in “hundreds of millions of profiles in other trees.”

My lesson learned, I soon found out, is that you need to be careful what you wish for! Today, two full months later, I have 589 record matches and 3,659 Smart Matches™ to review!

I decided to review the record matches first, as the number seemed more manageable. I had been notified of these matches in a series of emails, and I could review the matches either through links in the email, or by logging onto where I could review all of them in one list. The list could be sorted by individual (first name or last name) or by collection. Each match provided me with an opportunity to confirm the information as a match, or delete it as unconnected to the individual in my tree. My matches fell into ten separate data collections: California Births, 1905-1995; California Deaths, 1940-1997; Everton Pedigree Charts and Family Group Sheets; Find a Grave; Illinois Marriages 1763-1900; the Maximillian Family Tree; Newspaper Archive; the Social Security Death Index; Texas Births, 1926-1995; and WikiTree. The site also noted that there were thirty-seven further record matches not listed as they did not meet my search criteria for “match confidence.” Of my 589 record matches, 59.4% were from WikiTree, 24.6% were from Find a Grave, and 11.7% were from the Social Security Death Index. I quickly looked through the list. From the first sixty matches, only two were not pertinent; eight will require a bit more research for me to confirm that the individual from my tree and the individual in the record match are identical. I could confirm the remaining suggested matches.

I made several observations as I reviewed the suggested record matches.

  • In many cases, the information in my tree is more detailed than that contained in the suggested match abstract.
  • As all of the individuals in my family tree were considered, I had matches on many individuals in collateral lines that I have had little opportunity (as yet) to research in any depth. The new information may spur my interest to pursue these lines further.
  • The matches will save me a great deal of time searching individual names in resources such as Find a Grave. I now have a long list of cemeteries to visit to investigate further. The Find a Grave matches can be viewed for free (see data collection cost information below), and a link will take me to the actual Find a Grave page with its additional information concerning the individual.
  • One significant caveat is that you need to carefully assess the use of women’s maiden and married names. For example, in my family tree there is an individual named Hannah Gaylord, the daughter of William Gaylord and Anna Porter. She was born in 30 January 1626 in Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut, and died on 3 August 1678 in Westerly, Rhode Island. She was the wife of Elder John Crandall. The match abstract provided for my review (from Find a Grave), however, lists her name as Hannah Crandall Gaylord (same birth and death dates), buried in Old Crandall Cemetery in Rhode Island. I find the transposition of the maiden and married names disconcerting. When I selected the link for the match, I learned that the Find a Grave site does list her name appropriately and notes her husband’s name correctly. This problem of maiden name/married name appeared several times throughout the MyHeritage matches.
  • It appears that suggested matches from the Newspaper Archive are the least reliable, but require my close review of the suggested match to be sure.
  • Given the need to move past the suggested match abstract to a review of the full match information surfaced an additional caveat. When I selected the “Review match” box for a suggested match from a data collection such as the Newspaper Archive, California Births, 1905-1995, or even the Social Security Death Index, the subsequent screen prompted me to purchase a data subscription for $5.40 per month (unlimited credits) or $33.96 for 180 days (5,600 credits). Based on an international data subscription model, the number of credits used to view a suggested match will vary with each specific data collection. These costs represent a 45% introductory discount good for the first year only. Hmm! My less-than-careful reading when I purchased my annual subscription to failed to reveal that the subscription did not include access to all data collections. While some, like Find a Grave are provided at no cost, many are not.

I also looked at some of the suggested Smart Match™ abstracts. These are aggregated by site with a notation of the number of matches in each. For example, the Rumrill Web Site has twenty-seven suggested matches, predominantly in my Chapin line. I will (at some point) begin to work my way through these matches, analyzing the information for accuracy, available documentation, etc. My emphasis, however, will continue to be on the record collection matches.

In the course of my work on this article, I have received a phone call from as a follow up to my recent subscription. While the call was probably intended solely as a solicitation to purchase a data subscription, I seized the moment and spent almost thirty minutes in conversation about my review articles, my experiences with the site, and other related information. The company seems genuinely interested in user feedback and is planning “progressive” growth and expansion with enhanced features planned for the future. I was able to share my dislike for the modern tree view (see my first review) and my concern about the maiden name/married name issue that I discussed above. What good timing!

I intend to continue to explore and learn more about the research assistance it can provide me in the future. I hope you will too.



Papers of the Continental Congress 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, November 8th, 2012 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

Yesterday the essence of democracy was at work in the United States. Even though the margin was slim, the people exercised their basic right and cast their ballots. While this morning at least 50 percent of Americans are perhaps unhappy with the outcome, the important point is that voting occurred, unhindered and without threat of reprisal. No purple thumbs here. Nevertheless, this past campaign (as with several preceding it) makes me wonder what the delegates to the three Continental Congresses would think of our modern political landscape.

The fifty-six individuals elected to the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia from 5 September to 26 October 1774. They represented twelve of the thirteen colonies, and met in response to a shared outrage at Great Britain’s “Coercive Acts,” passed by Parliament earlier that year. Also known as the “Intolerable Acts,” this five-part legislation sought to eliminate the growing colonial resistance to British authority that had fanned into a blaze by the Boston Tea Party on 16 December of the previous year. These acts changed colonial government positions into royal appointments, forced citizens to quarter British soldiers in their homes, and deprived colonists of their steaming cups of tea with the closure of Boston harbor until the East India Company’s demand for restitution for its lost tea might be met. Common cause was a key element in uniting both the Congress and the majority of colonists. More importantly, however, congressional delegates were able to compromise with regard to their states’ individual responses to the issue of colonial rights. They acted decisively, organizing an economic boycott in response to the loss of their civil liberties, while petitioning the king for redress of their grievances. This first assembly would ultimately lay the ground work for the Second Continental Congress, which would begin its deliberations, again in Philadelphia, in 1775.

The Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia on 10 May 1775 after the outbreak of hostilities. It would remain in session until 1781. Its discourse was deliberate and debate, while often acrimonious, fundamentally changed the future of the colonies. Delegates established the Continental Army, issued the Declaration of Independence, and drafted the Articles of Confederation as a basis for an independent government and crafted a common vision for a new nation. Decisive action in the name of the common good was, once again, a shared value.

Finally, the Third Continental Congress, known as the Congress of the Confederation, met from 1781 to 1789 as the first federal government. Its delegates, after seeing the war to its conclusion, found themselves with too little power to govern successfully; many of its elected delegates declined to serve. States rights and individual interests continually trumped national issues and governance. Despite the perceived weakness of the confederacy, this congress passed important acts, including the Northwest Ordinance (1787). Recognizing the need to support the efforts that had been achieved by the first two congresses and by the war efforts, the delegates drafted the United States Constitution and established the United States Congress. Again, thoughtful, decisive and timely actions characterized their efforts, without which, the United States would be a far different nation today.

Who were these men whose actions created the United States of America? Many of the delegates’ names are familiar: John Adams, Silas Deane, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Benjamin Harrison, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, and George Washington. Others, however, are less well known (at least to me): Josiah Bartlett of New Hampshire (sound familiar to you West Wing fans?), William Few of Georgia, Leonard Gansevoort of New York, Cyrus Griffin of Virginia, and Joseph Hewes of North Carolina. Still others were elected, but did not attend: Timothy Danielson of Massachusetts, John Evans of Delaware, William Hillhouse of Connecticut, Paul Mumford of Rhode Island, and Paul Trapier of South Carolina, among others. An extensive list of both those who served, and those who were elected but did not serve, is available on Wikipedia. Links are provided to individual Wikipedia pages for the various individuals. (Caveat: These are Wikipedia pages and as such may require additional verification and documentation).

Access to the inner workings of these assemblies exists in a variety of formats. Some of the papers of the three congresses are available in printed form. Spanning thirty-eight volumes, the Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (GPO, 1904-37), is supported by a finding aid, Index: Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (NARA, 1976). National Archives Record Group 360, Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, includes papers from the various sessions, including journals, committee reports, correspondence, memorials and petitions, and my favorite, secret journals. They are arranged by type of record, and then chronologically, alphabetically, or by subject, depending on the type of record. Three microfilm publications encompass the collection: M247, Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (204 rolls), is organized into 196 separate “items;” M332, Miscellaneous Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (10 rolls) includes those materials not included in the item categories in M247; M886, Records of the  Constitutional Convention of 1787 (one roll) contains records specific to that group. Full text online access to selected documents from the Journals is available at the Avalon Project site, and as The Journals and Papers of the Continental Congress in the JSTOR collection of articles from the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography.

Technological advances have made improved access. Fold3 features three separate collections: Continental Congress – Papers (with 171, 519 images) includes records found in NARA M247; Continental Congress – Misc (with 6,939 images) includes the Miscellaneous Papers found in NARA M332; and Foreign Letters of the Continental Congress (with 474 images). These collections are free and can be accessed even though you are not a personal subscriber to Fold3.

I searched in Continental Congress – Papers collection for records related to the Barclay surname. I identified 680 items, including a letter from Samuel Huntington, a delegate from Connecticut and President of the Continental Congress, in which he informed Thomas Barckley [sic], Esq. of his appointment as Vice Consul, to reside in France, at a salary of $1,000 per year. Another Thomas Barclay-related item is a letter to Thomas Jefferson, written from Madrid and dated 5 April 1786, relating the status of ongoing negotiations with the Barbary pirates. If your ancestor was this Thomas Barclay and you were trying to locate him during this time period, knowledge of his appointment and subsequent residence in Europe might assist you with a difficult research brick wall. An additional search for records pertaining to the Buffington surname identified nine items, including a letter of marque, as well as petitions to Congress and various letters; a search for records pertaining to the surname Aldrich identified seven items including memorials, grants, and an interesting record in a document about “British plundering and ravaging” naming African Americans Prince Aldrich and Betsey Aldrich.

The collected papers of the Continental Congress, documenting some of the earliest national government’s discussions and actions, may prove helpful in your genealogical research. They often reference neglected materials about individuals, both the powerful and the average citizen, and provide both specific and background information. These records remind us that government can be both visionary and decisive, and that action in support of the common good, coupled with the application of well-reasoned thought, can accomplish great things.