Note: The information in this archived copy was accurate on the date of publication. Since then, Web sites have appeared and disappeared, companies have been merged and many other facts have changed. You may find references in this archived copy that are no longer accurate.
EOGN: Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
A Weekly Summary of Events and
Vol. 6 No. 29 – July 16, 2001
This newsletter was sponsored by Ancestry.com,
To learn about Ancestry.com’s
Past issues of this Newsletter
Copyright© 2001 by Richard W. Eastman. All rights reserved.
If you do contact any of the companies or societies mentioned in this newsletter, please tell them that you read about their services in this newsletter.
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Genealogy Scams on the Web
- Genealogy Scams on the Web
The fast buck artists are still amongst us. In past years, I frequently wrote about Halberts, claiming to be from Bath, Ohio, although they were actually in nearby Akron. This company would send you an advertisement for "The History Of Your Family Name" or the "Worldwide Registry Of Your Family Name." The ads would speak glowingly about this marvelous publication with its high quality binding. The ads were never very specific about the contents of these books. After spending $30 or $40, the hapless buyers received a cheaply-produced paperback containing basic "how to get started in genealogy" information along with extracts from telephone books listing other people with the same family name as the buyer.
Halberts went out of business in September 1999, blaming "competition from the Internet" for their demise. By competition, they meant that potential buyers of their books could find the same information at no charge on the Internet. However, in a unique reversal of technology, the Internet is now the breeding ground of "Halberts wannabees."
Several online Web sites promise a lot but seem to deliver less than what the advertising insinuates. These sites often send "spam mail" claiming that they have genealogy databases available to anyone willing to pay for access. After spending $40 to $60 to access these "databases," the buyer discovers that the sites simply link to other sites containing free databases. The free databases can be accessed from any search engine and many genealogy link sites at no charge. In fact, many of the free databases have been mentioned in previous editions of this newsletter.
In many cases the rip-off sites use HTML frames to make the databases look as if they are a part of the original site. A "frame" allows a Web site to display another Web site’s pages inside a page on the first site. The first site supplies the header with their own logo, but the remainder of the page originates elsewhere. The result looks as if it all originated on the for-pay site. These rip-off sites are charging money to display information that comes from someone else’s noble efforts to make genealogy information available at no charge.
The prevalent offender today seems to be FamilyDiscovery.com. This company owns several other Web sites as well. They don’t seem to have many satisfied customers. The genealogy message boards and newsgroups are full of reports from people who feel they have been ripped off by FamilyDiscovery.com and its affiliated sites.
To read comments from many people about FamilyDiscovery.com as well as comments about Genseekers.com and Genealogy-Express.com, go to:http://www.imagin.net/~tracers/familydiscovery.htm and http://www.gensuck.com/FEATURES/familydiscovery/index.html and http://hometown.aol.com/vikkigray/parkcensus.htm and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/badbusiness
If you feel that you have been ripped off by this or any other U.S.-based company on the World Wide Web, you should file a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. That’s easy to do at the FTC’s Web site, at:https://rn.ftc.gov/dod/wsolcq$.startup?Z_ORG_CODE=PU01
- Senator Hatch Proposes "Family History Month" Resolution in the U.S. Senate
As I reported in the June 6 newsletter:
The full article is available at:http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/columns/eastman/3999.asp
The "grass roots" effort received more help this week from Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. Senator Hatch has drafted a resolution to make October the official Family History Month. The resolution is called the "Family History Resolution." However, even with support from a powerful politician such as Senator Hatch, this effort still needs your help. You need to contact your senator to tell him or her that you support this resolution.
As of a few days ago, Senator Hatch had not yet formally introduced the resolution on the Senate floor. Instead, he wrote to all the other senators, asking for their support when the resolution is introduced. Here is the letter Senator Hatch sent to his colleagues:
Senator Hatch also included the text of the resolution that he plans to introduce:
This is a perfect opportunity for you and me and every other person interested in family history to get this resolution passed. Contact your senator now! Ask your senator to support Senator Hatch’s "Family History Resolution." This resolution will pass only if we make our voices heard!
It is easy to contact your senator since all of the senators have e-mail in their offices. To find the name of your senator and his or her e-mail address, go to:http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm
I sent an e-mail to the two senators from my state this morning. I asked them to support Senator Orrin Hatch’s "Family History Resolution." I enclosed a copy of that resolution.
When will you contact your senators?
You can read more about the history of Family History Month at:http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/columns/compass/2480.asp
- New Book: "Your Family Reunion"
This week I had a chance to read a brand-new book, called "Your Family Reunion – How To Plan It, Organize It and Enjoy It." The book was written by George C. Morgan, a well-known genealogy author and speaker and a columnist on Ancestry.com. His feature "Along Those Lines ..." can be read at:http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/columns/george/george.asp. George’s new book is a guide for organizing a successful reunion, regardless of whether it is a casual backyard barbecue, a get-together at a hotel or resort, or a weeklong cruise.
George Morgan seems to hammer away at one theme: planning, planning, planning. He then goes on to show how to do such planning without becoming wrapped up in details. He shows easy and proven methods of compiling a family address book, developing a realistic budget, choosing a great location, working with hotels, caterers and other vendors, keeping records, and sending invitations to planning activities to get people communicating, ideas for sharing and gathering genealogical information, setting up the site, managing details on-site, and evaluating the event. He also lists many helpful Internet sites that provide resources to help you with all facets of successful family reunion planning.
I especially appreciate Appendix B in "Your Family
Reunion." This section is full of sample forms to help you organize the
event. You could keep such forms on paper or in your computer; the result should
be about the same. The sample forms in the book include a Family Reunion Survey,
Family Contact Sheet, Registration Form, Planning Summary, Announcements, Mail
Tracking Log, Budget Spreadsheet, Reunion Evaluation Form, Family Genealogy
Correction Form and even a Follow-Up Thank You Letter.
"Your Family Reunion" is easy to read and provides a lot of great ideas. If you are planning a family reunion or even thinking about planning one, you want this book!
"Your Family Reunion" by George C. Morgan is published by Ancestry.com. It retails for $16.95, and you should be able to order it through any bookstore if you specify ISBN 0-916489-97-3. However, you can also order it directly on Ancestry’s secure Web site for two dollars less: $14.95 plus tax and shipping.
For more information about "Your Family Reunion" by George C. Morgan or to order it online, look at:http://shops.ancestry.com/product.asp?productid=2460&shopid=128
- New England Marriages Prior to 1700 on CD-ROM
If you have been researching colonial New England ancestry for some time, you may have used one of the greatest genealogy resources: Clarence Almon Torrey’s "New England Marriages Prior to 1700," a massive twelve-volume manuscript.
As you might imagine, a reference of this size is too expensive for most genealogists who would like to purchase their own copy. Now, thanks to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, you can probably afford the new electronic version, released last week. Not only is it cheaper, but it is also easier to search than the original -- and you don’t have to buy several feet of shelving to hold it!
I had a chance to use this new CD-ROM this week. In fact, I spent a lot of time with it as I found many of my ancestors mentioned in it. I must admit that I already scoured the original version years ago, but I found it much easier and less confusing to use the electronic version this week. My only regret is that this CD-ROM was not available when I started in genealogy!
Quoting from the CD-ROM’s "Introduction," written by David Curtis Dearborn, NEHGS Reference Librarian:
Dearborn goes on at some length to explain Torrey’s presentation of information; a sort of "genealogy shorthand" meant to keep the volumes to a reasonable size. For instance, here is one reference that I looked at:
This example says that Roger Eastman and Sarah, with a possible maiden name of Smith, were wed by 1640. However, Torrey had doubts about that maiden name, as indicated by the brackets and the question mark. The words "by 1640(1?)" says that the couple’s first child was born in 1640 or 1641 so Torrey infers that the couple was web by that time. In other words, he found no records of the actual marriage and simply assumed it had occurred in advance of the birth of their first child. The word "Salisbury" refers to the town in which they lived.
The names and numbers following identify the sources of information that Torrey found. These somewhat cryptic references are all hot linked to a list of references that explains each code. For instance, "NYGBR 46:62" refers to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, volume 46, page 62, as published by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. "Frame-Dana 289" refers to information found on page 289 of "Some of the Ancestors of Rev. John Selby Frame & Clara Winchester Dana" published by Julia Locke Bunce in 1948. These hot links to the references make the CD-ROM much easier to use than the original manuscripts!
There is one subtlety that I was not aware of until I read David Dearborn’s Introduction:
Torrey’s "New England Marriages Prior to 1700" CD-ROM was created with Folio Views, an excellent choice of software. Best of all, it works both on Windows and on Macintosh systems. All the necessary software is included on the CD-ROM. Windows users will need 2 megabytes of hard disk space (minimum); a 4-speed or faster CD-ROM drive, a monitor with 800x600 pixel or greater display; 32-bit color or higher. It requires a Pentium I or better processor; Windows 95, 98, NT or 2000; 32 megabytes of RAM (64 megabytes recommended). While not mentioned, I suspect it will also operate with Windows ME. Macintosh users will need System 7.5 or higher (although Folio will not run on System OS X) and 40 megabytes of RAM memory (64 megabytes recommended).
It took about a minute to install the Folio Views software on my Windows 2000 system, after which I was able to search the database for families of interest. I had a lot of fun with the advanced query capabilities. The queries operate in the same manner as those on the NEHGS Manuscript Collections CD-ROM that I reviewed last week. The software is simple to use: simply type in a name, and it quickly shows you all occurrences of that name in the database. Basically, the program searches for single words; a search for John Smith will find occurrences of each word and will show you all the Johns as well as all the Smiths. However, there are many search options that allow for more advanced searches. You may use Boolean operators (and, or, not, exclusive or). You may also use wildcards (single character, multiple character, word form, synonym) such as Sm?th? to find all occurrences of Smith, Smyth, Smythe, etc. You can also use proximity operators to specify how close terms must be. For example: "phrase search"/5 would indicate that all words must occur within 5 words of each other. As you begin to use the Torrey CD-ROM more and more, you learn that you can quickly find the information you seek, even with more common surnames.
I found it easy to print selected records. I also was able to easily copy-and-paste information from the CD-ROM into any other program, such as the copy-and-paste of the record of Roger Eastman and Sarah [Smith?] that I placed into this newsletter earlier in this article.
The Torrey’s Marriages CD-ROM also features the ability to mark records as bookmarks so that you may quickly return to particular records in the future. You can also highlight records of interest or even insert "notes" into the database for your future reference. These bookmarks, highlights, and notes are actually written to your hard drive. The next time you go to the particular record on the CD-ROM, the Folio Views software will retrieve the applicable bookmarks, highlights, and notes from your hard drive and display them on the screen, along with the data from the CD-ROM disk. These bookmarks, highlights and notes will remain as long as you use the CD-ROM disk on the same computer. Should you ever move the CD-ROM disk to another computer in the future, the bookmarks, highlights and notes will be lost.
Torrey’s "New England Marriages Prior to 1700" on CD-ROM is a winner. The people at the New England Historic Genealogical Society have a right to be proud of this great new product. This CD-ROM disk is destined to become a reference in many personal and public libraries.
"New England Marriages Prior to 1700" on CD-ROM sells for $79.99 plus tax and shipping. For more information, or to safely order it from the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s secure Web site, look at:http://www.newenglandancestors.org/bookstore/libdetail.asp?sku=3107&added=yes
- Learn Genealogy on Your Palmtop Computer
Most colleges and universities embraced personal computers more than a decade ago. Today’s students expect to receive course assignments, do research, pass in assignments and even take exams online by using personal computers. Students no longer even need to be on a campus as "distance learning" grows in popularity.
Thanks to Corey Spencer, a Brigham Young University programmer, college students will soon be able to do these same activities on a handheld computer that fits in a shirt pocket. Spencer has created software that reformats the data in such a manner that it can be displayed on the 4-inch-square screens used in Palm and Windows CE devices.
BYU started with a pilot program for one of its independent study courses -- "American Government, Part 1" -- for high school students seeking a little summer or after-school enrichment. All that students will need to take the course is $92 and their own handheld computer and a wireless modem. University-level classes for the palm-sized computers are planned for this fall.
Brigham Young University has not yet announced any genealogy-related courses in the new format. However, since this is one of the leading universities for family history studies, I would speculate that such courses will be available on a tiny screen before too long.
Further details are available in an online Salt Lake Tribune article at:http://www.sltrib.com/2001/Jul/07132001/utah/utah.htm
- BYU’s Plans For Their DNA Database
I have written several times about the project of a number of researchers at Brigham Young University to build a major DNA database. This group has appeared at several genealogy conventions in the past year, gathering blood samples and pedigree charts from genealogists. Now an article in the Los Angeles Times describes the project in some detail. To read the article, go to:http://www.latimes.com/editions/orange
My thanks to Chad R. Milliner for letting me know about this excellent online article.
- Using Genealogy for Medical Genetics Studies
Kyle J. Betit is a genetics and DNA expert as well as a serious genealogist. He writes and lectures about using genealogy as a useful tool in genetics research -- in terms of applying the resources, strategies, tools, and pedigree-building expertise of genealogy to improving the success of efforts to isolate genes that cause certain diseases and find cures for these illnesses. He has given lectures at the Universities of Utah, Vermont, and North Carolina Chapel Hill on this subject of "Using Genealogy Research for Medical Genetics Studies." With Loni Gardner, he also co-authored an article in the current issues of New England Ancestors athttp://www.newenglandancestors.org. He also has established Medical Pedigree Research Services at: http://www.medicalpedigree.com to offer genealogy service to geneticists and educate the medical community about genealogy.
Now Kyle needs your help. He writes, "…on September 11 at the University of Oxford Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, I will be giving another presentation on the subject of "Using Genealogy for Medical Genetics Studies" and I would like to gain as much information as I can about how genealogy has been and is being used by various people in the genetics field. Often this kind of work is being done by isolated people and not necessarily heard about by others. I would like to give a broad overview of how genealogy is now helping medical genetics when I speak at Oxford. I am wondering if you think it might be appropriate to include a notice in your newsletter that I will be giving this presentation at Oxford, and people can contact me with information they have that the medical community might be interested in?"
You can contact Kyle at:Kjbslc@aol.com
- DNA and the Legacy of West Ford
Historians and genealogists have long maintained that George Washington had no children. However, the descendants of West Ford maintain otherwise. West Ford was born in 1784 or 1785 on the Bushfield Plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia, to Venus, a mulatto slave woman owned by George Washington's brother, John Augustine Washington and his wife, Hannah. According to Ford family oral history, Venus told her mistress Hannah that George Washington was her child's father. Historians dispute this claim, suggesting that one of Washington's nephews may have fathered the boy West.
A similar scenario existed with Sally Hemmings, a slave owned by Thomas Jefferson. Her descendants also claimed that Jefferson fathered one or more of Hemmings’ children. Recent DNA analysis compared the Y-chromosome DNA from the living male-line descendants of Jefferson and Hemmings. In November 1998, the British science journal Nature published the results of Dr. Eugene Foster's DNA Study. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation then issued a report in January 2000 concluding that Thomas Jefferson was the father of at least one and perhaps all the children of Sally Hemmings. Now the descendants of West Ford are attempting to conduct a similar DNA analysis to prove or disprove the two-hundred-year-old family tradition.
West Ford grew up on Bushfield Plantation in John Washington’s household. In the years 1785 to 1791, George Washington frequently visited the Bushfield Plantation. During these visits, West Ford served as Washington's personal attendant. Washington took him riding and hunting, and Ford often accompanied him to Christ Church, where he was provided with a private pew. Washington became President of the United States in 1791 and did not visit Bushfield Plantation again.
West Ford moved to the Mount Vernon plantation after the death of Martha Washington in 1802. He was freed on his twenty-first birthday in 1805 or 1806. In 1985 Donald Sweig wrote in the Fairfax Chronicles, "In his role as overseer at Mount Vernon, Ford had considerable independence and responsibility." The Washington family treated him as a privileged servant. Ford's children were educated in the estate schoolhouse along with the Washington children. West Ford became the first tomb guard for George Washington's gravesite. Three generations of Fords would also hold the title of tomb guard at the Mount Vernon plantation.
Bushrod Washington became the owner of Mount Vernon until his death in 1829. In his will he gave 160 acres of land adjacent to Mount Vernon to West Ford, who continued to live on the Mount Vernon estate. In 1833, Ford sold his land and purchased 214 acres adjacent to it. This area is known today as the Black community of Gum Springs, Virginia. In 1857, an entry in the Fairfax County Deed Books noted that Ford divided his land among his four children, giving each of them 52-3/4 acres.
In June 1863, an ailing West Ford was brought back to the Mount Vernon estate by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. The association cared for him until his death on July 20, 1863. The following day, the Alexandria Gazette carried his obituary, stating: "West Ford, an aged colored man, who has lived on the Mount Vernon estate the greater portion of his life, died yesterday afternoon, at his home on the estate. He was, we hear, in the 79th year of his age. He was well known to most of our older citizens."
Was West Ford the son of George Washington? It was thought that we would never know. However, modern DNA technology may soon be able to prove or disprove this Ford Family oral history.
For more information about West Ford, look at "The Legacy of West Ford" at:http://westfordlegacy.com. The information about possible DNA analysis can be found at: http://westfordlegacy.com/mvmtg/qa.html
- Boone Descendants DNA Testing Participants Wanted
Dell Ariola and Rochelle Cochran have just begun a BOONE-DNA Testing Project that will be conducted from July 1, 2001 until August 1, 2001, and they are looking for participants with the surname of Boone and all variant spellings. The following is their announcement of the project:
http://members.tripod.com/dellariola or send e-mail to the Project Coordinators: Rochelle Cochran @ email@example.com and Dell (Boone) Ariola @ firstname.lastname@example.org
- Court Papers, Lost During Civil War, Show Up on eBay
When Union troops raided the Brentsville Courthouse during their occupation of Prince William County, Virginia in 1863, they made off with batches of court papers from the Revolutionary War era as part of their spoils. The vital records -- including oaths of soldiers, certificates of birth and death, and deeds of property and business ownership -- tore a hole in the county's history and were considered lost forever. Many genealogists would like to obtain some information from those "missing" papers that date back to May 1779. Now they may soon have the chance.
Virginia historians and Prince William officials have recovered some of the documents because a researcher noticed just a few of the pages for sale on eBay. The Library of Virginia in Richmond contacted the dealer, Charles Barger, of Mansfield, Ohio, to see if he had more. The state then bought a 200-page record book for $8,000 from Barger, who had extolled the "beautiful handwriting" and "excellent condition" of the documents, according to the official auction listing.
The entire story is rather long and very interesting. You can read the full article in The Washington Post’s online Web site. To view the entire article, go tohttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49406-2001Jul11.html
- Rare Reprints on CD-ROM
April Blakely has started a non-profit project to reprint rare and old genealogy reference books and family histories on CD-ROM. The project specializes in books from South Africa and Zimbabwe currently but eventually hopes to expand to other countries around the world where research is difficult. Currently there are more than 50 titles available in the catalog with news additions monthly.
This project was generated by the RootsWeb South African Mailing List in August of 2000 and has grown rapidly. Books from this area of the world are extremely scarce, and even when they are available, the cost generally is out of the reach of most researchers. Rare Reprints hopes to change all that. April Blakely reports, "100% of the our proceeds are used to increase the book collection."
You may be interested in purchasing CD-ROM disks or in contributing to the project. You can see it for yourself at:http://rarereprints.tripod.com
- Hiram Smith, the Only Casualty in the Aroostook War
Did you ever hear of the Aroostook War? Most Americans have not. However, schoolchildren in Maine study the Aroostook War as a part of their Maine History courses. I well remember writing a homework assignment about the Aroostook War when I was in eighth grade in Dexter, Maine. It became much more personal to me in later years when I started researching my family tree; I found one ancestor who "participated" in this war (I cannot say that he "fought" as this was a war with no battles). I also discovered that I had many ancestors living at that time in Madawaska, the heart of the contested area.
Where is Madawaska, you ask? Take a look at a modern-day map of Maine. Go all the way to the top of the map, right on the northern border with Canada. There you will see a small town named Madawaska, located in Aroostook County. In fact, Madawaska, Maine and Edmundton, New Brunswick appear to be one town with a river running through its center. The Saint John River happens to be the international boundary between Canada and the United States. However, it wasn’t always that way.
Quoting from Jennifer Godwin’s Web site at:http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~godwin/reference/aroostook.html
Of the 10,000 men called out to participate in this "war," there was one fatality: Private Hiram T. Smith of Company F. Hundreds of thousands of motorists have passed his grave, perhaps noticing the single tombstone on the side of the Military Road (U.S. Route 2) in the middle of the so-called Haynesville Woods. I probably drove past this tombstone 100 times before Interstate 95 was built. It is a forlorn and lonely place for a military hero’s grave. Then again, perhaps he was no hero.
There is one unanswered question: What was the cause of Private Smith’s death? Official records seem to omit this bit of information. Perhaps he froze to death. After all, the men were marching through deep woods in mid-winter where the temperature occasionally reaches 45 degrees below zero.
One story says that the poor fellow was run over by an army commissary wagon. Another story says that he was stepped on while watering the horses. Another claims that he fell through the ice on Lake St. Clair, an interesting story, as there is no lake by that name today and none that can be identified in the area’s history. Finally, one more story says that he was a deserter, but again, proof is lacking.
In l930, the Daughters of the American Revolution of Houlton put a wooden marker on Smith's grave and later replaced it with the granite stone seen today. I’m not sure why the Daughters of the American Revolution did thatsince the Aroostook War had no reasonable connection with the American Revolution. Nonetheless, the D.A.R. did lend its prestige to the Hiram Smith story, and since 1930 he has been accepted as the only casualty of a war that was never fought.
Why is it that the census taker with the clear handwriting and the good ink never enumerated your ancestors?
- Home Pages Highlighted
The following is a list of some of the genealogy-related World Wide Web home pages that have been added recently onhttp://www.rootscomputing.com:
The Tree Maker, a commercial service that can print your family history on a beautiful 8-generation fan shaped tree. You can display over 500 family names in calligraphy:http://www.TheTreeMaker.com
Maier Family Tree Home Page:http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/m/a/i/Janet-Maierspeck-CO/index.html
The Ancestry And Some Descendants Of Thomas Jefferson Greening & Wife Sarah Delphia (Sadie) Ray Greening:http://home.inu.net/sadie/index.htm
Hubbard Gleanings, a vast collection of genealogical information about several Hubbard lineages that emigrated from England to the New England, mostly in the 1630s. Also some material on the migration patterns; into New York, Michigan, and Midwest:http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~hubbard/hubbard_photos
To submit your home page to this newsletter, enter the necessary information at:http://www.rootscomputing.com/register.htm. Due to the volume of new Web pages submitted, I am not able to list all of them in the newsletter.
Are you interested in the articles in this newsletter? Would you like to learn more or ask questions or make comments about these articles? Join this newsletter’s online discussion group on CompuServe’s Genealogy Techniques Forum. The CompuServe forums are free and are available to anyone using Netscape, Internet Explorer or CompuServe’s own software Go to:http://www.rootsforum.com.
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