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 loner accurate.
Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
A Weekly Summary of Events and
Vol. 3 No. 5 February 2, 1998
This newsletter is sponsored by Ancestry Publishing,
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Copyright (C) 1998 by Richard W. Eastman and Ancestry, Inc. All rights reserved.
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IN THIS ISSUE:
- The Master Genealogist Version 3.5
- The Master Genealogist Version 3.5
The Master Genealogist has a reputation as one of the best genealogy programs on the market. TMG users are among the most loyal of any users I have ever met. Ask anyone who uses The Master Genealogist why they use that particular program, and you will probably receive the answer, "This is the program that does it all." Wholly Genes Software has announced that an update to The Master Genealogist for Windows will be released in the near future. Version 3.5 will add several enhancements to the program, one of which is a reduced price.
In addition, Wholly Genes Software also announced that version 3.5 will be available in two configurations: the Gold Edition and the Silver Edition. The press release says that both editions of The Master Genealogist will include the following new features:
Both the Gold Edition and the Silver Edition continue to have these features:
However, the following features are available only in the Gold Edition:
The following books are included only on the Gold Editions CD-ROM:
Another feature that caught my eye was the announcement of "GenBridge" by Wholly Genes Software. I will describe that in some detail in a separate article.
The major price reductions in this announcement ring in at a suggested retail price of $59.00 (U.S. funds) for The Master Genealogist version 3.5 Silver Edition and $99.00 for the Gold Edition. Keep in mind that most dealers offer discounts from those prices.
According to the announcement, registered users of The Master Genealogist for Windows version 3.0 will be able to upgrade to the new version 3.5 GOLD EDITION at no cost. The upgrade will be available on the Wholly Genes Web page. A second method of upgrading will be to obtain the new CD-ROM directly from Wholly Genes, Inc. A modest fee will be charged to cover the cost of producing the upgrade CD-ROM and the shipping expenses. Wholly Genes has not yet announced the price for this option, however.
Registered users who purchased The Master Genealogist for Windows after 1 December 1997 will receive the upgrade to TMG Gold Edition on CD-ROM at no charge. Those who purchased directly from Wholly Genes Software at full retail price during that period will receive a $30.00 rebate.
Note that this is an announcement only; the actual upgrade isnt ready yet. The company will make an announcement when it is available. I expect to carry that announcement in this newsletter as soon as it is made. For more information on The Master Genealogist version 3.5 or about the upgrade, look at: http://www.whollygenes.com
One item that caught my eye in the announcement about The Master Genealogists new version is the introduction of GenBridge. This is a new piece of software designed to eliminate almost all the problems associated with importing GEDCOM files. While GEDCOM is a universal standard among genealogy programs, it has enough holes in it to qualify as Swiss cheese. It is rare that a GEDCOM transfer of data between two dissimilar programs results in all data transferring accurately. In fact, at least one well-known genealogy program cannot even export data in GEDCOM format and then read the same file back into the same program without dropping some data!
GenBridge is a new technology that has been trademarked by Wholly Genes Software. This technology is built into The Master Genealogist for Windows version 3.5. GenBridge sidesteps the entire "GEDCOM problem" by using an entirely different method of reading data from another program.
In the past I have described GEDCOM as being similar to translating documents from one language to another by going through a third language. Imagine that you have a document written in German that needs to be translated to English, but there is no interpreter available who is literate in both languages. Instead, you have one person who knows both German and Mandarin Chinese and a second person who knows both Mandarin Chinese and English. So the document gets translated from German to Chinese by the first person. The second interpreter then translates the Chinese version into English. As you might imagine, some things change or are missing entirely once the process is completed.
Transferring data from one genealogy program to another via GEDCOM is a similar process. Until now, the only method has been translation to a third format: GEDCOM. Like my analogy to Mandarin Chinese, some things change or get lost along the way. The end result will be very similar to the original information, but not an exact translation for anything beyond the simplest data elements of name, dates and geographic locations. And I have seen examples where even those simple data elements do not always translate properly.
The new GenBridge software within The Master Genealogist does not require GEDCOM. Instead, it can directly read data from all of the following genealogy programs:
In addition, the program also will import GEDCOM version 4.0 and version 5.5 files from other genealogy programs not shown in the above list.
GenBridge not only reads names, dates and places; but it also extracts unique fields from each of the above programs databases and translates them to The Master Genealogists database structure. The database elements that are translated even include some that are ignored by GEDCOM.
At this time GenBridge will only translate data into the format used by The Master Genealogist. However, at last weeks GENTECH98 conference, there was some talk about the possibility that Wholly Genes Software would make this technology available to other developers in the future.
I know several beta testers of The Master Genealogist version 3.5 who have said that GenBridge works well. They have told me that it is far more accurate than GEDCOM imports. If this holds up, the days of GEDCOM may be numbered.
- SAR Revolutionary War Graves Register CD-ROM
Progeny Software Inc. is now shipping their new Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) Revolutionary War Graves Register CD-ROM for Windows. The Revolutionary War Graves Register (or RWGR) provides the cemetery locations of war graves for over 69,000 Revolutionary War soldiers, patriots and spouses.
I had a chance to use the CD-ROM this week and found that it was very easy to install and use. And then I also found a probable new ancestor! You think Im excited? You bet I am! If you have Revolutionary War ancestors, this CD-ROM could also be helpful in your research.
The information on this CD-ROM is compiled from the Revolutionary War Graves Register, which was first published as a book in 1993 by the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Quoting from the forward by then President General Robert B. Vance:
I will point out that this CD-ROM does not contained scanned images of the original book. Instead, the data has been laboriously re-entered into a true computer database that is fully searchable. The "search engine" is the brand-new Progeny Family Explorer which is included on the CD-ROM. You do not need any other software to use this database.
Use of the Progeny Family Explorer is "falling off a log simple." Start the program, enter a last name, enter a first name and click on OK. Within a couple of seconds you see a list of all the Revolutionary War soldiers of that name with known burial locations.
More advanced searches are also possible. You can search by surname, by sex (quite a few lady patriots, spouses and even a few female spies are listed), event type and dates. You can specify date searches either exactly or say, "before 1860" or, "after 1805." The more information you enter, the narrower the results.
I entered the names of some of my ancestors and found them within seconds. And in one case, I found information about an ancestor that I had not known previously. Daniel Nelson had a large family in Canaan, Maine, that was well documented years ago. In fact, Daniel and his wife are my ancestors twice as two of their grandchildren (first cousins) married each other. My aunt wrote extensively about Daniels children in the 1930s after interviewing one of Daniels grandchildren. But I didnt know much about Daniel himself. The SAR Revolutionary War Graves Register CD-ROM listed the following:
Up until I tried this CD-ROM, I did not have a date of birth for Daniel. Some years ago I entered "circa 1765" into my own database as guesswork. The SAR CD-ROM reports 1762.
One difference is that the SAR CD-ROM reports Daniels wife as Polly Cranville while my aunts notes report Julia Granville. Well, Cranville and Granville are easily mixed up, and the name Polly is often a nickname; so, now I have a new research task on my "to do" list: determine which name is correct.
Of course, this needs to be verified from original records, but it looks good. Canaan, Maine is a small town. I already knew that Daniel Nelson lived most of his adult life there, having obtained the land as a reward for Revolutionary War service. The man listed on this CD-ROM almost has to be my great-great-great-great-grandfather.
OK, now comes the fun part: Daniels daughter Sarah (my great-great-great-grandmother) married a man named Isaac Waldron. Isaac has been a "mystery man" about whom I have found no information. But I did a search on the CD-ROM looking for all the Revolutionary War soldiers buried in this small cemetery, and guess what I found? Ebenezer Waldron, born 1755, died 1830, served as a doctor in the troops from Maine, SOURCE: #30449 RWGR-IZ.GED 18 Dec 1997. He has the same last name, is exactly the right age to be the father of my known ancestor, and he lived in the same small town. Is this my great-great-great-great-grandfather? I dont know yet, but it looks mighty suspicious. If not the father, then I bet hes an uncle or a cousin. Thanks to the SAR CD-ROM, I have a strong clue that I didnt have previously.
Of course, this is only a clue until I validate the information. I am scheduling a visit to the Old Canaan Cemetery on my next trip to central Maine. I want to see the tombstone of Julia or Polly and also want to search the rest of the cemetery for other relatives. Then a trip by the town clerks office seems in order. I will also obtain the SAR records listed as sources.
Another thing that I found interesting was the number of spies listed. I went to the advanced search pages and did a search on the word "SPY" in the Notes field. The database has 56 references to Revolutionary War spies. I assume all of them spied for the patriots. One that caught my eye was Patience Wright (Lovell) who is listed as being buried in 1786 in London, England. I bet there is a story someplace about her exploits!
The Revolutionary War Graves Register CD-ROM comes with a tiny users guide that slips inside the CD-ROM jewel case. I didnt use the manual much; the Family Explorer software is intuitive enough that no manual is needed.
One complaint I have is that there seems to be no easy way to cut-and-paste information from the CD-ROMs database. Most Windows programs have an EDIT section next to FILE on the pull-down menus. The Progeny Family Explorer did not have such a section, and the normal Windows shortcuts of Control-C and Control-V also did not work, with one exception: for some reason, these shortcut keys did work on the Notes area. I have no idea why that is. I would have liked to copy the data into my favorite genealogy program as well as into this newsletter. Instead, I had to re-type most of the information by hand.
To use the Sons of the American Revolution Revolutionary War Graves Register CD-ROM, you will need Windows 3.1, Windows 95 or Windows NT. There is no Macintosh version. You will also need 3 megabytes of free space on your hard drive, and obviously, a CD-ROM drive is also required.
The SAR Revolutionary War Graves Register CD-ROM costs $29.95 plus $5 shipping (U.S. funds). It is available now from Progeny Publishing by calling toll free 1-800-565-0018 or by sending a check or money order to Progeny Publishing, Olympic Towers Suite 200, 300 Pearl Street, Buffalo, NY 14202.
- Tasmanian Genealogy Index Online
The Archives Office of Tasmania has an online index to genealogical data about Tasmanian ancestors. I used the database briefly this week and was impressed by both the data available and by its ease of use.
The Tasmanian Family Link database has been compiled and validated by the National Heritage Foundation from AOT data. It is designed to link individuals with other members of their families who were living in Tasmania in the 19th Century. The information about individuals is based on records of births, deaths, and marriages and similar events, held in the Archives Office of Tasmania. The database presently contains approximately five hundred thousand entries and is still growing.
I did a search on my own surname and was pleasantly surprised to find many entries. Here is one that shows the typical information available in the Tasmanian database:
The numbers shown to the left of the names apparently are record ID numbers within the database.
If I had ancestry in Tasmania, I would be scouring this database. Also, if I was involved in a genealogy "one name study," I would use this database. I wish that all online genealogy databases were this extensive and this easy to use!
The Archives Office of Tasmania home page is available at: http://www.tased.edu.au/archives/
The "Tasmanian Family Link" button links is at: http://www.projects.tased.edu.au/pioneers/
- Winchester (England) Online Property Database
Newsletter reader Jim Boulden sent a story to me from the January 22nd edition of the London Telegraph. The Telegraph reports that the city of Winchester is moving its property archives from dusty shelves to touch-screen technology.
Academics at King Alfred's College are logging information about every property in the town and its owners onto a database. Residents and visitors will soon be able to study every building from the year 1000 A.D. to the present day using a digitized map. A click of the mouse on any plot will produce all the data for that address. Researchers will be able to key in hundreds of thousands of owners names from the 11th century onwards and see where they lived.
The project started in 1988 with plans to link maps, pictures, lease and occupancy records, census records and trade directories to each property. By the year 2005, the database will hold seven million items; it currently has about three million.
The database itself is not yet available online. Information about the project can be found at: http://www.wkac.ac.uk/schools/shss/winproj/proind.htm
- Ancestry, Inc. To Move Online Databases
In the December 27 edition of this newsletter I wrote about Ancestrys offer to allow free and open access to their 225 genealogy databases over the holidays. The following week I wrote about the problems Ancestry encountered with that offer. In short, their Web servers were overwhelmed with the response. While the free offer has since ended, usage of these online databases remains high, and Ancestry apparently has had continued problems handling the load. This week they took decisive action to solve the problem: they called in "the big guns."
Ancestry, Inc. has announced the selection of GlobalCenter, Inc. as its Web hosting partner. GlobalCenter, located in Sunnyvale, Calif., is best known as the host for some of the Internet's most successful companies and sites including Netscape, Yahoo!, and Quote.com.
"We are creating the world's largest and most useful online genealogical community and that leaves us very little time for being in the Web hosting business," said Ancestry CEO Paul B. Allen. "Our new relationship with GlobalCenter will give us the freedom and flexibility to do what we do best without the technical hassles of trying to keep up with the growing demands for our products and services."
In describing the Holiday load, Allen said, "We were completely unprepared for the kind of response we got which quickly overwhelmed the capacity of our T1 connection and, in some cases, our server hardware. The decision to outsource after that experience was an easy one and GlobalCenter's reputation and responsiveness made it that much simpler."
The Ancestry HomeTown already is providing services to as many as 50,000 unique visitors each day. The site now boasts more than 300 searchable databases containing some 80 million genealogy records and offers thousands of pages of reference material. At least one new database has been added to the collection each business day since the site was officially launched in April 1997.
Recent data from Media Metrix indicates that Ancestry's site attracted approximately one percent of the total Internet audience in September. One percent of such a huge audience is a significant volume for any Web site. According to the Media Metrix report, 350,000 unique visitors visited http://www.ancestry.com and those visitors averaged more than 15 page views per visit.
With the site now hosted by GlobalCenter, Ancestry President Dan Taggart says the company is now prepared for a projected site usage increase of 400% in the first half of 1998.
- "The Irish At Home And Abroad" Web Site
In the August 16, 1997 edition of this newsletter I wrote about "The Irish At Home And Abroad" magazine. I was impressed with its scope and quality. I did chide them a bit for not having an online presence, not even an e-mail address. Well, Co-Editor Kyle J. Betit sent an e-mail this week and invited me to look at their new Web site. I did so and am glad to report that they have a first-class site in operation.
The "The Irish At Home And Abroad" Web site includes:
To view "The Irish At Home And Abroad" Web Site, look at: http://www.IHAonline.com
I barely returned from the GENTECH98 conference last weekend when Mike St. Clair of the GENTECH committee was sending out e-mails about next years conference. It will be held on January 22 and 23 in Salt Lake City, which strikes me as a great place to hold a genealogy conference. I bet the 1999 conference will draw the biggest crowd yet.
The GENTECH committee has issued a Call for Lectures. The announcement says (in part): "The conference program committee would like to extend an invitation to all interested parties to submit suggestions for possible lecture topics that they would be willing to present at the conference."
If you are interested in presenting a lecture at this major conference, look at: http://www.gentech.org/gt97call.htm. Please note that the proposals are due by March 15th of this year, roughly six weeks from now.
- Ex-President Researches Roots
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter seems to have colorful relatives. This quiet and conservative southern gentleman seems almost out of place in his family tree. While President, the news media often wrote stories about his brother Billie, sometimes calling him Billy Beer. The ex-Presidents sister and mother also were the subjects of news stories. Now the former President wants to know more about the descendants of his posse-riding, gun-toting great-great-grandfather.
"I'm doing this with more than a bit of trepidation," Carter said. "Sometimes it's good not to know too much about your own family."
Jokes aside, Carter is serious about bringing together the hundreds of direct descendants of his great-great-grandfather Wiley Carter. A reunion is planned in May in his hometown of Plains. His search has produced some hair-raising details.
Wiley Carter himself killed a man for stealing a slave. His son Littleberry Walker Carter, the former President's great-grandfather, was killed in 1873 in a gunfight with his business partner over money from a carousel. Then Carter's grandfather was fatally shot in the back in 1903 after a fight with a man who stole a table from the family store.
Finally, there's Wiley Carter's youngest son, Sterling. He lit out for Texas in the 1870s and made a living hauling buffalo bones in the wild west. He later served as Roberts County sheriff at a time when a sheriff survived by the frequent use of his six-shooter.
"As far as I know, most of the other family members have been both law-abiding and peaceful in nature," Carter said.
The former President is reportedly using a computer program that traces family history, but I havent been able to find out which program he is using. By using his computer along with a little ingenuity and the help of a cousin, Carter has tracked down hundreds of relatives, including a teacher in North Carolina he found last week. When he called, she was skeptical and tested him with questions about her family history. "She didn't believe for a long time I was Jimmy Carter, former President," he said in a telephone interview.
Carter decided last year to plan a reunion for the 200th anniversary of Wiley Carter's birth. He has a database of 2,000 names going back 12 generations and estimates there are about 500 living direct descendants of Wiley Carter. "It's just kind of like a rolling stone. Different people have been sending me more and more information about how they may be a part of my family," Carter said.
While he was President, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave him a leather-bound book documenting 12 generations of his family from the church's repository of genealogical information. Then the National Enquirer hired a team of researchers to examine Georgia courthouse records and newspaper files for a story that played up the seedy side of his family tree. "What I remember is that several direct Carter ancestors had been involved in an unusual series of violent acts," Carter said.
Wiley Carter was a member of a posse in northern Georgia when he killed a man over a slave. After feuding with the dead man's family, he moved south to Plains. He had 12 children: Amanda, Caroline, Calvin, Euphrasia, Littleberry Walker, Jane, Julia, Louisiana, Wiley, Ann, Jesse and Sterling. The former President said he's particularly interested in finding the descendants of Wiley Carter's daughters. Their married names were Sammons, Lyon, Beckworth, Hart, Rumph, Abbott, Mize and Ford.
Prospective relatives can send Carter and his cousin, Betty Pope, the names of their ancestors, and they will be entered into the computer database.
"When Jimmy came up with the idea, we laughed about it and said, `You know, there are going to be would-be hopefuls coming out of the woodwork.' But we're keeping it to direct descendants," Mrs. Pope said. She estimated the two of them have found 300 long-lost relatives through their efforts.
Because of all this effort, Jimmy Carter has finally learned what happened to Sterling Carter. "For years we didn't hear a word from them. This past year, I got a letter from Sterling's descendants," Carter said.
John E. Kinney, a retired lawyer in Austin, Texas, wrote the former President with news of Sterling, including details of his death. Kinney wrote, "On his death bed, according to family history, Sterling asked be buried between his first and second wife, but to tilt him a little towards (his second wife)"
- Next Weeks Newsletter
I thought Id write a quick warning that next weeks newsletter might be a bit late. Ill be in London, England, next weekend. I will have the Libretto palmtop computer with me, and CompuServe has local telephone access all over England. I should be able to send the newsletter on time. In fact, Ill probably write a great deal of next weeks newsletter on the seven-hour flight from Boston to London.
If everything goes well, I will be sending the newsletter from England. However, sometimes the computer gods dont smile when you want them to. Dont be surprised if there is a delay.
- Home Pages Highlighted
The following is a list of some of the genealogy-related World Wide Web home pages that have been listed recently on http://www.rootscomputing.com. Some of these sites may charge a fee for their services:
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.
If you would like to submit news, information or press releases for possible inclusion in future newsletters, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. The author does reserve the right to accept or reject any articles submitted.
DISCLAIMER: This newsletter is being written and sent via e-mail at no charge. I expect to write one new issue on a more or less weekly basis. However, life sometimes interferes, and the need to earn a living may create an occasional delay.
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About the author: Dick Eastman is the forum manager of the four Genealogy Forums on CompuServe and is editor of Genealogical Computing magazine. He also is the author of "YOUR ROOTS: Total Genealogy Planning On Your Computer" published by Ziff-Davis Press.