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Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Standard Edition

A Weekly Summary of Events and Topics of Interest to Online Genealogists

Vol. 9 No. 10 – March 8, 2004

This newsletter relies solely upon "word of mouse" advertising. If you enjoy reading these articles, please tell others to go to

Some of the articles in this Plus Edition newsletter are restricted to your personal use.

Search previous issues of Standard Edition newsletters at:

All opinions expressed in this document are those of Dick Eastman and his alone, unless otherwise attributed. None of his statements are to be interpreted as endorsements by his employer, by the other authors or by advertisers.

Copyright© 2004 by Richard W. Eastman. All rights reserved.


- Turmoil at NGS (Continued)
- (+) Lindows 4.5
- (+) Genealogy Scams
- (+) For the Love of Genealogy
- Linkpendium
- Palmer List of Merchant Vessels
- Free Online Genealogy Course from Barnes and Noble
- Ancestors in German Archives
- FormalSoft, Inc. Changes Name to RootsMagic, Inc.
- Two of John Kerry's Relatives Died in Holocaust
- Genealogists and DNA Analysis Try to Solve 35-Year-Old Mystery
- What You Inherit From Your Ancestors
- Vermont Town Wants to Secede and Join New Hampshire

Items marked with a Plus Sign (+) appear only in the Plus Edition newsletter.

Heredity: People believe in it until their children act like fools.

- Turmoil at NGS (Continued)

The following is an update to articles written in the January 12, 2004 edition of this newsletter (available at and the January 26 edition (available at If you are not familiar with the recent developments at the U.S. National Genealogical Society, you might want to read those articles first.

This week saw the release of three announcements from the U.S. National Genealogical Society. In the face of a difficult financial situation and recent managerial changes, the society's board of directors has decided to sell the society's headquarters building and to reduce the number of national conventions that it sponsors.

Here are this week's announcements, each of which is followed by my own comments:

First announcement:

1 March 2004

National Genealogical Society to Sell Glebe House

On 21 February 2004, the National Genealogical Society Board of Directors voted unanimously to place the Society's Arlington, Virginia, headquarters, known as Glebe House, in the hands of a real estate company. Insignia Group received a contract to sell our historic property.

The Board of Directors will now begin investigating office space to lease in the Arlington area. After Glebe House is sold, NGS will move its offices to a nearby location, and the remaining library books will be shipped to the St. Louis County Library, where they will be added to the existing NGS Circulating Book Collection.

The proceeds from the sale of Glebe House will be employed in a variety of ways to help stabilize the Society's finances. First, a substantial portion will be set aside to rebuild the investment account. Second, some of the money will be used to cover current expenses, including moving the Society's offices. Finally, a portion of the funds realized by the sale will be directed toward the development of new member services, especially the enhancement of the Society's web site, with new features and more online data for members.

Glebe House was listed on the Virginia Historic Landmarks Register in 1971, and on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. In December 1986, this property was gifted to the National Genealogical Society as a result of a provision in the sale agreement between the Ball family, owners of Glebe House, and Preston Caruthers, a building contractor. With the assistance of Mr. Caruthers plus a fund raising drive by NGS, in 1987 the carriage house was built to house the Society's library.

To read more about the history of the National Genealogical Society, visit

For information about the Society's May 2005, Conference in the States, visit

Sandra M. Hewlett, CGRS
National Genealogical Society
4527 17th Street North
Arlington, VA 22207-2399


Comment from Dick Eastman:

It is sad to hear of any national organization selling its headquarters. I have been to Glebe House several times and must say that it is a great location that seems to fit the society's needs well except for one fact: its expense. I do not know the maintenance costs of this fine old building, but those expenses must be significant.

The Arlington County web site at lists the assessed value of the land and buildings at $1,442,700. Of that price, the buildings only account for about a third of the value: $471,500. The county says that the land is worth more than twice as much as the buildings: $971,200. Furthermore, the buildings have not increased in value very much in the past eight years ($428,400 to $471,500) while the value of the 42,000 square foot lot has more than quadrupled in eight years: rising from an assessed value of $186,400 in 1997 to $971,200 in 2004.

While the land is worth much more than the buildings, new owners will probably need to keep the present buildings in more or less the same state as today. The main building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and also sits in a neighborhood with strict zoning. Demolishing the building or making major renovations will not be an option for new owners. The county's Web site lists the property class as "single family detached."

You can read more about the history of the Glebe House at

As you might expect, a lot of discussion has floated around genealogy circles since this announcement was made. Some NGS members are opposed to selling the property although I note that none in opposition seem to have any alternative plans in mind. Most people I have talked to seem to support the NGS Board of Directors. As one anonymous poster on this newsletter's Discussion Board wrote:

[The] library is in St. Louis.
Book orders can be done (if they aren't now) by a fulfillment service.
Directors live far away from the current headquarters.
Records can (if they haven't already) be scanned into a database and accessed from anywhere.
A very, very small percentage of NGS members have ever, or will ever, visit the headquarters.
I can't see why they need to hang onto the place.
[signed] Dino, NGS Member

I agree with Dino. The Glebe House certainly has a lot of sentimental value, but I would suggest that sentiment is not enough to justify the expense of keeping the place. In fact, the National Genealogical Society probably can do an equally good, or even better, job of serving its members from rented quarters in a modern office complex someplace.

The services of the national society are conducted primarily by mail, by the Web, and by in-person seminars held at many locations throughout the country. The library already serves its members by mail and is now able to serve far more members than those who ever visited it when the books were in Virginia. Why else would the headquarters need to be at any particular location?

In fact, I do not see any need for the location to be in or near Arlington, Virginia. If this is, indeed, a national organization, the headquarters could be in Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, or East Podunk. The locations of the staff’s desks are unimportant.


Second announcement:

National Genealogical Society's Conference in the States and NGS GENTECH 2005 Call for Papers

From: Sheila Benedict, NGS Committee Chair for Conferences and Events and Jeanne Lund, NGS Conference Program Manager

In 2005 NGS will return to Nashville for its twenty-seventh Conference in the States on 1-4 June. The 2005 conference will be combined with the annual GENTECH conference and is planned to bring together a broad range of educational opportunities for researchers.

Nashville was first settled in 1779, and is often referred to as the "Athens of the South"--- due to its abundance of educational institutions and classical architecture, it was designated the capital of Tennessee in 1843.

The 2005 Conference offers potential speakers a myriad of lecture possibilities. Presentations on topics related to settlement in Tennessee and Nashville are most welcome. Migration, frontier research and settlement patterns will be of major interest to attendees. Potential speakers should think about proposing lectures on researching various ethnic groups, especially British, Scots-Irish, Irish, German, and African and Native American. Special interest topics might focus on the Great Wagon Road, the Wilderness Trail, the Melungeons, or specific religious groups. Topics addressing research in adjacent states and archival institutions are also welcome.

The NGS GENTECH division will contribute substantially to this conference. We invite proposals for lectures on all aspects of the interactions between genealogy and technology. Submissions are welcome under the usual headings of genealogical software, the Internet, imaging technologies and the like. We also hope to receive proposals for advanced and leading edge topics.

All national conferences need presentations that address more traditional record groups like the U.S. census, probate, land, church and military records. Methodology lectures, ones that address frontier research in particular, are most welcome and very useful. Also needed are presentations on publishing, professional research, and other aspects of genealogy.

Generally, sessions are limited to one hour, which includes about ten minutes for questions and answers. All speakers must provide camera-ready material for inclusion in the syllabus.

Speakers can submit a number of proposals; in fact they are encouraged to do so. Preference will be given to speakers who are members of NGS.

Presenters will receive compensation, travel expenses, a per diem, and hotel accommodations based on the number of lectures given. A complimentary conference registration will be included.

Entering information online is actually easier and saves money, but in the event problems arise, two copies of each proposal should be sent to Jeanne Lund, NGS Learning Center, 4527 17th Street North, Arlington, VA 22207-2399. For details, see

Proposals should include the following information:

The title of the presentation and a brief but comprehensive outline or abstract.

A short summary, limited to forty words with title, for the program brochure.

An indication of the audience level: beginner, intermediate, advanced.

Audio-visual requirements for each presentation.

The speaker's full name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address.

A brief speaker biography - two or three sentences max.

A resume of recent lectures.

Due date: 15 April 2004

Comment from Dick Eastman:

This announcement contains both good news and bad news.

The good news is that there will be a 2005 national NGS conference. A location has been determined, arrangements have been made, and the NGS Board of Directors is going forward to serve its membership well.

The bad news is briefly noted with the words "The 2005 conference will be combined with the annual GENTECH conference…" In other words, the 2005 GENTECH conference has been killed.

I have to give a disclaimer: I am a past member of the GENTECH Board of Directors, so readers should realize that I am not an unbiased observer.

GENTECH has served its intended audience well for more than a decade, primarily by holding annual conferences in various cities that brought together most of the technology leaders in the genealogy community. At each conference plans were made, partnerships were formed, education was conducted, and more. The annual GENTECH conferences directly affected the software, Web sites, and other technology that we all use today.

The National Genealogical Society absorbed GENTECH in 2002. It was called a "merger" at the time, but I don't think anyone believed that the new organization would represent both organizations equally. In fact, most of the members of the GENTECH Board of Directors were afraid that GENTECH would simply be absorbed and soon forgotten. Sadly, those fears are now being realized.

In the January 28, 2002, edition of this newsletter, I wrote about the just-completed GENTECH 2002 conference. I quoted NGS President Curt Witcher as saying that it is not NGS's intention to convert GENTECH into a "Computer Interest Group." It will not be a separate but equal group; instead, GENTECH will be an integral component of NGS's core operations.

In the August 5, 2002, edition of this newsletter, I wrote about the cancellation of the GENTECH 2003 conference. Prior to writing that article, I discussed GENTECH and its future with then-NGS President Curt Witcher. I then wrote, "Witcher and the others at NGS apparently want to assure everyone that the organization remains committed to the goals of GENTECH and that future GENTECH conferences will be held and promoted heavily."

Today, Curt Witcher is no longer at the helm of the society. Unforeseen financial realities have intervened, and the NGS Board of Directors obviously has set priorities. Those priorities no longer have GENTECH as an equal partner. The announcement simply says, "The 2005 [NGS] conference will be combined with the annual GENTECH conference."

The expenses and organizational difficulties of holding two conferences next year are understandable. I certainly do not blame the NGS Board of Directors for making that decision. If I were in their shoes, I probably would have done the same. However, I hope this is not the end of GENTECH. I hope the board either can hold a separate and equal GENTECH conference in 2006 or else can find another organization that can do that for them. There is no need for the National Genealogical Society to organize the GENTECH conferences and to absorb the expenses alone.

If you have an opinion about GENTECH conferences, I would ask you to share your thoughts with any and all of the NGS Board members in coming months. You can find their names and biographies at


Third announcement:

Board of Directors Appoints Nominating Committee - Nominations Welcome!

The National Genealogical Society is pleased to announce the newly appointed Nominating Committee:


Marty Hiatt, CGRS, Virginia


Donn Devine, CG, CGI, Delaware
Marie Melchiori, CGRS, Virginia
Merrill Mosher, CG, Oregon
Lynda Suffridge, Arkansas

The committee welcomes nominations from the membership. For the 2004 election, the Committee will consider candidates who reside in any of our 50 states provided they have been a NGS member for at least twelve months prior to being nominated. In addition to time and talent requirements, candidates must be willing to pay their own expenses (transportation and lodging) to attend quarterly board meetings. The new Officers and Directors will begin their terms on 1 October 2004. Officers serve for two years and Directors serve for four years; all board members can be nominated for a second term.

Please send your recommendations to Marty Hiatt at Please include a letter from the person being recommended stating they agree to have the Nominating Committee review their application. To be considered, nominations must be received by 15 April 2004.

Comment from Dick Eastman:

As mentioned earlier and in previous articles, the U.S. National Genealogical Society needs your support. Now is the chance for you to become involved and to make good things happen.

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- (+) Lindows 4.5

The following is preview of a Plus Edition-only article. It is copyright 2004 by Richard W. Eastman.

Lindows is an operating system for personal computers that is a specialized version of Linux. If your computer can run Windows, it can also run Lindows. In fact, many older computers that are not powerful enough to operate Windows XP will work just fine with Lindows ., Inc., was founded by Michael Robertson, the founder and former CEO of The name "Lindows" is a marriage of the names of two other operating systems: Linux and Windows. In short, Lindows is supposed to feature the best of both worlds: Linux's stability and low cost along with Windows' ease of use and wide base of available applications. It includes many applications for Internet browsing, e-mail, instant messaging, media playback, gaming, and much more.

When first announced, Lindows supposedly was going to run most applications written for Microsoft Windows in a Linux environment. By the time the product became available, the producers had backed away from some of their earlier claims. However, the operating does indeed run some Windows programs, such as Microsoft Office 97. has been sued by Microsoft over the use of the name "Lindows." Microsoft claims that it sounds too much like "Windows" and constitutes a copyright infringement. points out that many other non-Microsoft products in the marketplace use the word "Windows" or variants of it. The court case is pending.

I used Lindows for a while when the operating system first appeared. I wrote about my experiences in the December 2, 2002 Plus Edition of this newsletter and described a genealogy program that I used with Lindows. I summarized that article with the following words:

I am pleased with Lindows although I have no plans to use it as my only operating system. To be sure, it is more stable than Windows, is lower-priced, and has a number of powerful "general purpose" applications available for word processing, spreadsheets, photo editing, Web browsing, e-mail, and more. However, it does not yet have nearly the number of "specialty applications" available that Windows does.

Lindows has not stood still in the fifteen months since I wrote those words. While I have not been using it, a number of Lindows updates were released. Version 4.5 is the current release, and this week I decided to see what has changed since the first release. I was particularly interested in anything new that would appeal to a genealogist.

The preceding is a "preview" of a Plus Edition-only article. The full article is available only to Plus Edition subscribers. Click on Plus Edition for more information.

[Return to Table of Contents]

- (+) Genealogy Scams

The following is preview of a Plus Edition-only article. It is copyright 2004 by Richard W. Eastman.

A few years ago I wrote a number of articles about the infamous Halberts of Bath, Ohio. This company would send an advertisement for a book that claimed to be a "history of your family name." After paying about $40, the hapless purchaser received a cheaply-produced paperback containing a bit of generic "how to get start tracing your family tree information" accompanied by listings from telephone books. Sadly, similar information was available online at no cost.

In August 1998 I even visited the address that Halberts used in Bath, Ohio, and I wrote about my trip in that week’s edition of this newsletter. You can read that article at

I found no company named Halberts at that address. In fact, the address was simply a mail drop. All orders sent to that address in Bath, Ohio, were actually forwarded to the parent company in nearby Akron. About a year after my on-site visit, Halberts folded up. They gave layoff notices to all of their employees, sold the office furniture, and ceased operations. The company blamed "competition from the Internet" for their business failure. In my opinion, the competition was twofold: (1.) the same information was available online at no charge, and (2.) the Internet provides a great place for tracking such scams. Those who received the advertisements could easily go online to check Halberts’ reputation. You could simply go to any search engine and enter the word "Halberts" to learn of the experiences of others. In fact, you can still do that today.

Of course, Halberts was not the only company with questionable business practices in this arena.

The preceding is a "preview" of a Plus Edition-only article. The full article is available only to Plus Edition subscribers. Click on Plus Edition for more information.

[Return to Table of Contents]

- (+) For the Love of Genealogy

by Kellie Reeve Robinson

The following is a "preview" of a Plus Edition-only article. It is copyright 2004 by Kellie Robinson.

How many RootsWeb surname mailing lists do you belong to? If you're like me, you can't remember off the top of your head, but you know it's quite a few. And if you're like me, you are dutifully searching for not only your paternal and maternal lines in your own family, but those of your significant other, your next-door neighbor, and probably your boss. Everyone talks about how you should be paid for your hard work, and you explain that you agree, but you haven't found the time to construct your shingle, let alone hang it.

Many times those list queries bear fruit. New cousins are found, and more unanswered questions arise. It's a thrill to get a response to a query. In some cases amazing discoveries are made, although as I have discovered, some are not for the faint of heart.

This story is being told here for the first time. I would suggest that the reader not try this at home, and would submit as well that there is no real need to alert the authorities.

The preceding is a "preview" of a Plus Edition-only article. The full article is available only to Plus Edition subscribers. Click on Plus Edition for more information.

[Return to Table of Contents]

- Linkpendium

Karen Isaacson and Brian Leverich were the founders of the extremely popular RootsWeb genealogical community site. At the time of its merger with in June 2000, RootsWeb had about 600,000 registered users, was serving about 100,000,000 Web page views monthly, and was delivering about 160,000,000 pieces of email monthly to the subscribers of its 18,000 mailing lists. The company had more than 40 employees and operated its own 7,000 square foot network operations center in Bakersfield, CA.

Karen and Brian took some time off after the acquisition, but now their friends will be pleased to hear that they have re-entered the online genealogy world once again. This week I received the following message from Dr. Brian Leverich:

Hi Dick -

I don't know if you've noticed, but Karen and I have finally recovered from RootsWeb and we're starting back into genealogy.

We certainly aren't out to build RootsWeb again, but we do think there are things we can do that will make genealogical research go faster and be more fun.

The first thing we're doing is building a directory of everything relevant to genealogy on the Web. Folks can use that directory now as it grows by visiting:

About 146,000 pages are now categorized. I would guess that the directory will cover 300 - 500,000 pages as it matures over the next year or so.

Folks are welcome to submit their Web pages for inclusion, if they don't want to wait for us to find them using our automated tools.

The plan is that we'll be using this directory as a basis for new research tools for everybody to use. I expect we'll be opening some of the tools up for public use within the next year.

Because this directory is a stepping stone to other things, it has a different focus than CyndisList. That doesn't make it more or less useful than Cyndi's work -- just different.

If you think Linkpendium might be of interest to your readers, please feel free to comment on it.

I did look at Linkpendium and am impressed by what I saw. The project obviously is in its infancy. It has a ways to go, but already there are more than 146,000 genealogy-related links. I will probably write a full review in a few months as it becomes bigger.

In the meantime, you can watch Linkpendium grow at

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- Palmer List of Merchant Vessels

Do you know the name of a vessel that your ancestor sailed on to reach the United States? By finding more information about that vessel, you might gain new insights into your ancestor’s travels. The Palmer List of Merchant Vessels is an online database created by Michael P. Palmer. Wherever possible, Palmer lists the name of vessel, its rigging, and its nationality. In a few cases there are photographs available.

For instance, here is the description of one such sailing vessel:


The Bremen ship CARL was built at Vegesack/Grohn by Johann Lange, for the Bremen firm of E. C. Schramm & Co, and launched on 2 December 1857. 498 Commerzlasten / 1099 tons; 52,5 x 10,5 x 6,7 meters (length x beam x depth of hold). International Signal Code: QBNS. Masters of the CARL were, in turn, E. Lüdering, Hinrich v. Harten, Christian Friedrich Otten, H. C. Bockelmann, and J. Hashagen. Originally engaged in the "triangle trade" between Bremen, New York, and the cotton ports of the south, she was transferred to the petroleum trade between North America and Europe in the 1870's, when she ceased to carry passengers (vessels engaged in the petroleum trade customarily did not carry passengers). In 1888, the CARL was sold to A. Ménard, of Fiume, then in Austria-Hungary, who first entrusted her to Capt. Michielli, but in 1890 assumed command himself. On 6 August 1892, the CARL stranded off Little Hope Island, Nova Scotia, and became a total loss.

Source: Peter-Michael Pawlik, Von der Weser in die Welt; Die Geschichte der Segelschiffe von Weser und Lesum und ihrer Bauwerften 1770 bis 1893, Schriften des Deutschen Schiffahrtsmuseums, Bd. 33 (Hamburg: Kabel, c1993), p. 234, no. 238.


    1. North German (Bremen) ship CARL, [Christian Friedrich] Otten, master, arrived at New York on 10 May 1869 (passenger manifest dated 11 May 1869), 34 days from Bremen, with merchandise and 500 passengers, consigned to Hermann Koop & Co. "Had strong westerly winds; latitude 46, longitude 45 W, saw several large icebergs; had 1 birth and 4 deaths among the passengers."

The above description is accompanied by a picture of a silk embroidery of the ship by Thomas Willes of New York, created prior to 1865.

You can access the Palmer List of Merchant Vessels online at:

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- Free Online Genealogy Course from Barnes and Noble

Barnes & Noble is offering a free online course in genealogy, taught by Emily Croom. In this case, the course is "free" although you do need to purchase two textbooks that are the basis of the course. Of course, Barnes & Noble just happens to have the same two books for sale online. In my mind, the course really isn't "free," but you obtain two excellent books plus receive personal attention from an expert instructor at no additional cost beyond purchasing the course materials.

The course is titled "Unpuzzling Your Past: An Introduction to Genealogy and Family History." The estimated completion time is 16 hours over four weeks. You will have to register, which is free, in order to participate in the course. The books that are needed to complete the course are "Unpuzzling Your Past: A Basic Guide to Genealogy" and "The Unpuzzling Your Past Workbook: Essential Forms and Letters for All Genealogists," available through Barnes and Noble, as well as other bookstores.

The following description can be found on the Barnes & Noble Web site:

Are you hearing more and more about genealogy and wondering what all the excitement's about? Are you interested in learning about your roots? Do you already have some ancestral names and want to figure out what do to with them? Then join the party and learn about the rich array of resources available to help you. Discover the vast world of genealogy beyond the Internet. Learn strategies for success. Share success stories with other class members, and maybe meet some distant cousins. And prepare to get hooked on a fun, fascinating endeavor that lasts as long as you do.


You can find this online genealogy course at On that page, click on "B&N University" near the top of the page. Next you will see the B&N University page. Click the link on the left hand side to browse all the available courses. In the long list that appears, you will find the genealogy course well down on the right side.

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- Ancestors in German Archives

This week I had a chance to look at a thick new book, entitled Ancestors in German Archives – A Guide to Family History Sources by Raymond S. Wright III, Nathan S. Rives, Mirjam J. Kirkham and Saskia Schier Bunting. If the name of Raymond S. Wright III sounds familiar, you might know him as the current Director of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. He started this book when he was a professor at Brigham Young University and finished it this year.

When I say "thick," I mean that this book is 1,189 pages thick. It is filled with information about more than 2,000 national, state, and local repositories in Germany.

To create this book, questionnaires were mailed to archivists in thousands of German archives, asking them to identify their archives’ jurisdictions and to describe the records housed in their archives and the services provided by their staff. The returned questionnaires, supplemented by Internet searches, were used to create summaries of each archive’s jurisdictions, holdings, and services. The result of this massive survey is an exhaustive guide to family history sources in German archives at every level of jurisdiction, public and private. Anyone searching for data about people who lived in Germany in the past need only determine which archives today have jurisdiction over the records that were created by church or state institutions.

The book is divided into separate chapters for each German state, plus additional chapters for Federal archives, another for religious archives, and a first chapter that serves as an introduction to the rest of the book. Within each state chapter, all entries are arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the city in which the archive is located. The first part of each chapter contains listings of state archives, followed by listings of all city and regional archives. Church archives with jurisdictions within the state are in the third section, while the fourth section lists family archives. Last, all other archives in the state for which a questionnaire was returned, or a website found, are listed.

For each of the 2,000 archives, information is provided under the following headings:

When researching German ancestors who immigrated to Canada or to the United States, you will first need to find out what locality they came from. You typically can find that from ships’ passenger lists or from naturalization records. Once you have a location available, a quick check of this large reference book will tell you where to look next. In fact, this book often will give you the names and addresses of several archives that serve a single area.

Ancestors in German Archives is an all-in-one directory to genealogical sources in all repositories in all places in one country. I would expect everyone researching German ancestry will either buy this book or look for it in a local library. It is an expensive publication at $85.00 (U.S. funds), but it appears to be the best listing available of German archives. The book also answers questions about the very existence of genealogical records in Germany. I cannot imagine starting German genealogy without access to this new book.

Ancestors in German Archives – A Guide to Family History Sources is available directly from the publisher: Genealogical Publishing Company. Other bookstores can also order it for you if you specify ISBN#: 0806317477. For more information or to safely order this excellent reference book online via a safe and secure shopping cart system, look at:

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- FormalSoft, Inc. Changes Name to RootsMagic, Inc.

The following is an announcement from RootsMagic, Inc.:

SPRINGVILLE, Utah, March 1, 2004 - FormalSoft, Inc. announced today that, effective immediately, the company is changing its name to RootsMagic, Inc.

"The name change to RootsMagic, Inc. reflects our commitment to the RootsMagic product line and to the family history market" said Bruce Buzbee, founder and president of RootsMagic, Inc.

"In addition, the overwhelming success of our RootsMagic genealogy software in just its first year has overshadowed the company name recognition built during all the years we licensed Family Origins to other publishers."

Coinciding with the name change is the switch to as the official company website.

About RootsMagic, Inc.

Founded in 1986, RootsMagic, Inc. is a publisher of family oriented software, with headquarters in Springville, Utah. RootsMagic's product line includes its flagship genealogy software RootsMagic, Family Reunion Organizer, and Daily Journal which is sold under the Broderbund label. In addition, RootsMagic, Inc. also hosts, the world's most popular family reunion planning website. Additional information on RootsMagic, Inc. can be found at

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- Two of John Kerry's Relatives Died in Holocaust

If John Kerry is elected President of the United States this fall, he will be the first U.S. president with family members known to have perished in the Holocaust. This is according to Felix Gundacker of the Institute for Historical Family Research in Vienna. Gundacker was hired last year by the Boston Globe to study Kerry's roots. While Gundacker finished his assignment for the Boston Globe last February, he has continued to work on the family's genealogy.

Kerry's grandfather, whose parents were Czech Jews, changed his name from Fritz Kohn to Frederick Kerry and converted to Catholicism in 1902 before immigrating to the United States.

According to Gundacker, on Aug. 13, 1942, Kerry's great uncle and great aunt (the brother and sister of Kerry's paternal grandmother, Ida Lowe) were snatched from their Vienna apartment. Otto Lowe was killed less than a year later at a Jewish prison and ghetto erected by the Nazis in Czechoslovakia to serve as a point of debarkation to extermination camps in Poland. Jenny Lowe survived the ghetto, only to perish in a concentration camp.

You can read the details in the Newark, New Jersey Star ledger at

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- Genealogists and DNA Analysis Try to Solve 35-Year-Old Mystery

Kathryn Guildea Bogiages is trying to solve a 35-year-old mystery in Laos. She wants to know what happened to her husband. She is asking genealogists for assistance to help prove or disprove one theory.

Air Force pilot Christos C. Bogiages, Jr., disappeared 35 years ago when his F-105 disappeared while on a bombing mission in Laos. The mystery of what happened to the Albany, New York, native has not been solved. However, a tiny bone fragment recovered from the scene of an F-105 crash site could hold the clue to confirming the pilot's fate. An analysis of the fragment, which wound up in the possession of the Air Force, determined the bone was from a Caucasian. With a known mitochondrial DNA sample, a scientific link could be made.

Christos and Kathryn Bogiages had two sons, Christos III, who owns a medical computer systems company in Florida; and Andrew, who died in 1988. Linda Bogiages said coming to terms with the apparent death of their father affected her sons differently. Andrew never really accepted it. For Christos, "not having a father, I think, has made him a better father," she said.

For the widow, acceptance "was a very gradual thing." It was three years, she now believes, before she stopped looking for him. She never remarried "because you don't want to lose another person you truly love."

In April 2003, the Air Force awarded the American History Co. in Fredricksburg, Va., a contract to track down Bogiages' ancestors. The company hopes to solve the case through mitochondrial DNA, which is passed along maternal lines. While a man will have the same DNA code as his mother, he will not pass it on to his children, even if he were to have a daughter. That eliminates Bogiages' niece -- his only living female blood relative -- as a possible source. Defense Department regulations prohibit exhumation of a relative to recover DNA for identification of service personnel, so a living relative must be found.

"This is where the public might be able to help," said Therese Fisher, the company's genealogy expert. "There may be folklore that opens up new avenues of research."

Genealogy research shows that Christos Bogiages' mother was Kathryn Guildea Bogiages, who was the daughter of Julia Burke Guildea, who was the daughter of William Burke and Jane Porr Burke, Irish immigrants who settled in Schaghticoke in the 1860s.

But in those generations, there were no other known female children who lived to adulthood, hence no other line from which a DNA match might be possible.

The search went further back to the Civil War days, when birth records showed that Julia Burke had two sisters, Margaret Burke, born in 1857, and Anna Burke, born in 1860.

Unfortunately, the researchers could find no death or marriage certificates or other records for either woman, and the trail for William Burke and Jane Porr ends in 1870 with William's death. "He was about 15 years older than she, so we assume she might have remarried (which might open up another DNA line), but we can't find any records," Fisher said.

"Somebody has heard family stories, or has church records or even done their own family research," Fisher said. "It's coming at it from a different direction. A way that we don't know of that could resolve this case."

While Linda Bogiages said she feels she found closure long ago, she hopes the mystery of her husband's fate will be solved in a way that will touch the lives of the generations that followed him.

A positive determination on his remains, she said, "will be meaningful for our son and his children."

Anyone with possible information on Jane (Porr) Burke or Margaret or Anna Burke or their female descendants is asked to contact American History Co. toll free at (800) 813-1049.

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

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- What You Inherit From Your Ancestors

A few people inherit great wealth from their parents. However, we all inherit much more: we inherit our looks, our health, our intelligence, and our very beings.

Our immediate inheritance is from our parents: 50 percent of genes come from the mother, the same from the father. Of course, parents merely pass on to their children a proportion of what they themselves have inherited. So another way of looking at it is that every person can be "quartered" in terms of their four grandparents, with each grandparent contributing 25 percent. Going back further, we share around 940 genes with each of our great-great-great grandparents.

Want to know where you got your hair color or the protruding jaw? You might be able to blame your great-great-great grandfather!

The sharing of genes occurs horizontally across family trees as well as vertically. Identical twins share all their genes. On average, we share 50 percent of our genes with full siblings; 25 percent with half siblings. While there may be little to unite us with our first cousins, we generally have one-eighth of our genes in common.

Geneticists will caution, however, that these numbers are averages. In fact, any one person may inherit more than 50 percent of his genes from one parent with less coming from the other. Genetic inheritance is random in the sense that it is impossible to predict precisely which genes will make up the contributions from each parent. Because of this, it is theoretically possible, though extremely unlikely, for full siblings to have no overlapping genes and, therefore, to show virtually no genetic similarity. In some cases, says Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University and an expert on the applications of genetics to genealogy, it is as if a person has inherited almost all their looks from one parent.

There is a famous precedent for the inheritance of a facial feature: the Habsburg jaw. The distinctive, protruding jaw — mandibular prognathism syndrome — afflicted 34 generations of European nobility, particularly the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The gene conferring this feature was dominant: if a child inherited the associated gene from one parent and a normal gene from the other, he or she would be guaranteed to develop the condition. It comes as no surprise to find that few portraits of these wealthy aristocrats survive. We can presume that most of these people did not care to have accurate portraits made of their unattractive faces.

Because the rules of genetic inheritance are oblivious to social standing, Sykes points out that the upper classes are no more likely to look like their ancestors than any other sector: "The difference is that most of us don’t have paintings of our forebears to look at."

Still, the noble people are more likely to be the beautiful people. Sexual selection — the search for appropriate partners with whom to procreate — means that wealthy, male aristocrats can attract the most comely companions. "I would say that aristocrats tend to be better-looking," Sykes admits. "That’s because of the allure of status and wealth. You only have to go to Harrods to see beautiful women accompanying men whose only attraction is their wallet."

For more information on this fascinating subject, look at the recent article in the Times Online at,,8123-1025526,00.html

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

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- Vermont Town Wants to Secede and Join New Hampshire

Residents of Killington, Vermont, this week voted to become a part of New Hampshire. The cause was the same as one of the fundamental causes of this country's independence from Great Britain: taxes.

After years of what residents call unfair tax rates and lost legal battles with the state, the resort community took an extraordinary step, voting to secede from Vermont in the hopes of joining New Hampshire.

Residents of the town of 1,100 said that switching state affiliations could save taxpayers $10 million a year. "We send $10 million to the state of Vermont and get $1 million back," Selectman Michael Miller said. "I think we'll be treated better in New Hampshire."

"When you remove all other possibilities, the only thing left is tax revolt," resident Robert Chernin said.

Of course there is a geographical problem: the town of Killington is 25 miles away from New Hampshire and is completely surrounded by other Vermont towns.

Killington town officials now hope to get approval in the next New Hampshire legislative session. New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson said he isn't sure exactly how the town can realistically switch states.

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

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Dick Eastman is employed by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, serving as Assistant Executive Director for Technology. He is a frequent presenter at major genealogy conferences. He has published articles in Genealogical Computing and Family Chronicle magazines and for a number of Web sites. He was an advisor to PBS' Ancestry series and appeared as a guest in one of the episodes. He is a past Director of GENTECH and of the New England Computer Genealogists. Dick is the author of YOUR ROOTS: Total Genealogy Planning On Your Computer published by Ziff-Davis Press. He can be reached at: Due to the volume of e-mail received, he is unable to answer every e-mail message received.

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