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. 4 No. 16 April 17, 1999
This newsletter is sponsored by Ancestry Publishing,
To learn about Ancestry's
Past issues of this Newsletter
Copyright (C) 1999 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:
- Gunman in Salt Lake City Family History Library
- Gunman in Salt Lake City Family History Library
By now most everyone has heard the sad news from Salt Lake City: On April 15 a 71-year-old man calmly walked into the Mormon church's Family History Library and opened fire with a small-caliber handgun. Before it was over, the gunman had killed a church security officer and a library patron and wounded five others, including a police officer. He was fatally shot by police and died later in an ambulance.
Police knew of no motive for the gunman, identified as Sergei Babarin, age 71, of Salt Lake City. Babarin, a married man with children, was a Russian native often frustrated by his broken English, neighbors said. Babarin's wife told investigators he had not been taking his medication for schizophrenia and each day would walk a dozen-odd blocks from their home to the State Capitol and to Temple Square.
There was some fear that Babarin had left a bomb in a truck in a nearby parking area, adding to the confusion and concern, but this proven to be untrue.
The library has 200 full-time staff and nearly 400 trained volunteers. It hosts an average of 2,700 visitors daily. Among the visitors at the time of the shooting were Fred and Daisy Thomas, who reported on CompuServe that they were in the library at the time of the shooting. Fred was an eyewitness while Daisy was on the floor below when all the shooting started. Quoting from their message:
Tour guide, Jan Gow, from Auckland, New Zealand, recalled the most frightening moment of the siege:
I believe that all genealogists hearts reach out to the innocent victims of this terrible tragedy and to their families.
- On The Road Again
Much of this weeks edition of the newsletter is being written on a Toshiba palmtop PC on board Air Canada flight 807 to Toronto and also on flight 804 returning to Boston. I spent Saturday at the Colloquim meeting of the Ontario Genealogy Society Region V. This was a very nice genealogy meeting held at a Canadian military base north of Toronto. They ran two "tracks" all day with presentations on a variety of topics. I especially noted that they had presenters from three countries. I met a very enthusiastic group of genealogists at the Colloquim although I am still learning to pronounce that word!
I would especially like to thank John and Rita Turner who served as my hosts, tour guides and advisors on this trip. They are the greatest.
- Roots in Time
If you havent already seen it, anyone in the United States might want to obtain a copy Time Magazines April 19, 1999 edition. The front cover loudly proclaims "How to Search for Your Roots Genealogy is Americas latest obsession. And thanks to the computer, its as easy as one, two tree!"
Inside the magazine there is a 12-page story about researching ones ancestry using modern high tech methods. Many of the genealogy articles I have read in past mass-circulation magazines have been superficial "hack jobs" written by people who obviously have little knowledge of the subject. The article in Time Magazine was a pleasant surprise; it is very informative and accurate. The authors obviously spent a lot of time and effort researching this article. They also quoted several experts, many of whom have been mentioned in past editions of this newsletter. The experts quoted included Steve Kyner, Cyndi Howells, Yvon Cyr, Albert Cheng, Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, Tony Burroughs and Bob Velke.
The article prominently mentioned the popularity of genealogy searches on the World Wide Web. It says that, in the March Nielsen/Net Ratings, the tree top genealogy Web sites had an audience of 1.3 million individuals. Thats of people checking on their roots!
My favorite line in the article appeared on page 55: "Root seeking ranks with sex, finance and sports as a leading subject on the Internet." Time Magazine says that genealogy on the Internet is as popular as sex? All right! We have arrived!
I spent this weekend in Canada and noted that the Canadian edition of Time Magazine did not carry the article. In fact, I quickly thumbed through the Canadian edition but did not see the word "genealogy" mentioned anywhere. However, Canadians or anyone else can read the article on Times Web site at: http://cgi.pathfinder.com/time/magazine/toc/0,3392,0,00.html although I dont know how long it will be available at that address.
- Halberts (Again)
I recently received an advertisement in the mail with the following words on the outside of the envelope: "A remarkable new book is about to be published and you, Richard Eastman, are in it!" The signature of Doris C. Eastman appeared under those words.
Now, I dont remember anyone ever mentioning a relative named Doris during family gatherings. And I question why anyone would want to write a book about my relatives. I dont think we ever had any notables in our family tree. When I opened the envelope the first thing that fell out was a small card listing the name of Doris C. Eastman, 3687 Ira Road, Bath, Ohio, 44210 telephone 330-945-8200. The same card also claimed satisfaction guaranteed or else I would receive "an immediate and unquestioned full refund of the purchase price." The following disclaimer was also on the same card:
OK, if this isnt a genealogy book, then what is Doris Eastman of Bath, Ohio trying to sell? The advertisement had lots of words although it didnt give much of a description of the offering:
Another piece of paper included within the envelope extolled the quality of the publication:
The missive continued, announcing that the regular price was $49.50 but that a pre-publication price of $34.50 represented a 30% savings. However, they did ask for $4.88 shipping charges, making a total price of $39.38
The order form lists a company named Halberts but with a street address that is the same as Doris Eastmans: 3687 Ira Road, Bath, Ohio, 44210.
Being of suspicious mind, I decided to check into things a bit. First of all, the letters "i.a." on Doris C. Eastmans signature looked unusual. I dont remember seeing "i.a." after anyone elses signature. I consulted a legal dictionary and found that "i.a." stands for the Latin words "in absentia." In other words, Doris Eastman wasnt present at the time and someone else signed the document in her name.
The apparently hand-written signature on the advertisement had the trailing letters "i.a." but those letters did not appear on the signature printed on the outside envelope. Yet the two signatures appear to be identical.
Next, I called the telephone number listed under Doris name, expecting to speak to her directly. It was evening and I was connected to a recording that said, "Our offices are closed at this time. Please call back Monday through Friday between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Eastern time." Strangely, the recording never gave the companys name. It only said "Our offices ".
The following morning I called the number again. A pleasant-sounding lady answered the phone. When I asked to speak to Doris I was told that "she isnt here right now."
I decided to see this "Personalized Heirloom Book" that would allow me to amaze myself "with historic Eastman facts from actual immigration records." I am an experienced genealogist who has spent hundreds of hours researching my family tree and I didnt believe this book was what it claimed to be. For one thing, Roger Eastman arrived in Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1638, not in New York in 1620 as the advertisement claimed. In fact, the advertisement overlooks the fact that New York didnt exist yet in 1620!
I filled out the order form and sent it to Halberts at 3687 Ira Road, Bath, Ohio, 44210.
Some weeks later a large envelope from Halberts arrived. I opened the envelope and found a cheaply bound paperback that clearly looked like it was a homegrown effort. About a third of the book was basic historical information about immigration in the United States, the same sort of stuff that you will find in a sixth-grade history textbook.
Next, I found about 25 pages of marriage records for people named Eastman from all over the United States. Some were in Massachusetts in the 1600s and others were for later years from all over the United States. The references are minimal, although sufficient: the names of the bride, the groom, the date, the county and the state. This section of the book does appear to live up to its advance billing.
That was followed by a few pages of "How Early Coats of Arms Were Granted" and then by "How Names Originated." Again, this was all generic information, nothing specific to the Eastman name. If Halberts prints books for different family names, they obviously can use these pages in every one of their books.
Next, a black-and-white drawing of an Eastman coat of arms appeared, along with its description from Burkes General Armory. Again, this was accurate although I noted that the book failed to mention that there is no such thing as a "family coat of arms."
Many more pages were filled with the generic "How to Discover Your Ancestors." Again, there was nothing specific to the family name in those pages.
Finally, I arrived at the "Eastman International Registry" that had been glowingly described in the advertisement as "the only International Directory of virtually every Eastman household (with up-to-date address) in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and South Africa." Technically, that description is accurate. This "registry" was obviously a copy of telephone directory listings!
The advertisement I had received some weeks earlier spoke about the book in the most glowing of terms. However, comparing the final product against the advance advertisement shows a number of glaring shortcomings:
In the summer of 1998 I traveled through Ohio to a genealogy convention held in Cincinnati. When planning my trip, I noticed that my route of travel would take me within five miles of Bath, Ohio. I decided to stop at 3687 Ira Road in Bath to look for myself.
I found Bath easily. It is a rather picturesque little town that consists primarily of two streets: Ira Road runs east-west, and the North Cleveland Massillon Road runs north-south. The address of 3687 Ira Road is within a couple hundred feet of the intersection of these two roads. But there is no sign there for Halberts. In fact, I couldnt find any trace of them at all not could I find Doris C. Eastman. The address of 3687 Ira Road should have been alongside Rurs-Puel Real Estate or Bech & Tabeling Architects. But there was no hint of Halberts there. This seems to confirm what I had been told earlier: the name and address shown in the Halberts ads is only a mail drop.
Halberts has been in court several times to answer charges lodged by the U.S. Postal Service. The court documents always list Halberts as a subsidiary of the Numa Corporation of 1566 Akron Peninsula Rd, Akron, OH 44313-5154.
Halberts and Numa were in court in 1988 as defendants in an action claiming false advertising. I dont have the details of the 1988 action, but a 1995 complaint referenced an order in 1988 requiring Numa/Halberts to stop claiming that relatives of the addressee signed the advertising letters. The 1995 court session apparently took a dim view of Halberts fake signatures. Quoting from an announcement released later by the National Genealogical Society:
Obviously Halberts is still using fake signatures, as my ad signed by "Doris C. Eastman, i.a." attests. Halberts apparently complies with the wording of that court order, if not the spirit, by using the following in their advertisements: "Though we are probably not related " I have one question for Halberts: "Is Doris C. Eastman, i.a. related to ANYONE? Does she even exist?"
A few months after I purchased the "New World Book of Eastmans" I received an ad from the "U.S. Information Bureau" that started off with an all-too-familiar refrain, "I have exciting news for you and all Eastmans." This advertisement went on at some length to extol the virtues of an upcoming book to be called "The Eastmans of the Civil War." The rest of the wording in the advertisement was quite similar to the earlier ad from Halberts with one notable exception: it wasnt signed by anyone using an "i.a." after their name. Sharon Taylor signed this one. The enclosed envelope was addressed to: U.S. information Bureau NUMA, 3220 N St., N.W., Suite 1400, Washington, DC 20077. Obviously the Numa Corporation uses their mailing lists for multiple mailings. The Washington, D.C. address is the third address I have found for the Numa Company and its subsidiary operations.
In later months I received still more advertisements from Halberts. One was for a "Eastman Classic Plaque" showing the "distinguished Eastman Coat of Arms." The same Sharon Taylor who signed the earlier advertisement from NUMA of Washington, DC, signed that advertisement from Halberts of Bath, Ohio. Still later I received a post card advertising a set of beer mugs with the "Eastman Coat of Arms" engraved on them. Finally! Something I can identify with: beer mugs! Doris C. Eastman, i.a, again signed this advertisement.
CompuServe members report that Halberts and their international "affiliates" have been sending similar advertisements for several years now to unsuspecting people in England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Switzerland and Australia. Some years ago the formerly well-respected firm of Burkes Peerage had financial problems and eventually was bought out by Numa Corporation of the United States. Advertisements from Burkes sent to British addresses now have almost the identical wording of the advertisements sent from Halberts.
Many people on CompuServe have reported receiving as for these "books" inserted into other pieces of mail. Frequently bills from credit card companies will include an advertisement stating "A remarkable new book is about to be published and you are in it!" Halberts apparently develops partnerships with other companies who send out hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail.
When I was in Canada this week I saw such an advertisement that was included with an advertisement from Sears Canada. It seems a shame to see a respectable retailer like Sears in a partnership like this. If you have any suggestions for Sears regarding their selection of business partners, you might want to express your suggestions in a letter sent to:
Paul S. Waters
Finally, while doing a search on the Web one day, I found an interesting site called ListBroker.com. This site coordinates the buying and selling of mailing lists amongst junk mail advertisers. These mailing lists are obviously worth a lot of money. I suspect that I am listed in the following mail list that is offered for sale:
"Well-established and affluent"? Maybe I should be flattered.
The information at Listbroker.com claims that more than 7,600,000 individuals have purchased Halbert's Heraldic Books. If we assume a price of $39.38 per book, including shipping, then the total sales have been more than $299,288,000! Lets round that off to $300 million.
The lists offered for sale include 67,035 names and addresses from the United Kingdom plus a total of 1,513,388 from three years of mailings in the United States. To read all the details yourself, look at: http://www.listbroker.com/lists/00272.html
If I ever receive another ad from 3687 Ira Road in Bath, Ohio, do you know what I will do with it? Wrong! I will buy it. I will not buy it because of the information contained within. Instead, I will buy it so that I can write another follow-up article to report what has changed, if anything.
I do have one piece of advice for you, however: if you receive an ad from 3687 Ira Road in Bath, Ohio, I suggest you throw it in the trash.
- Mattel to cut 3,000 jobs
As most readers of this newsletter already know, Mattel recently acquired The Learning Company, which, in turn, had early acquired several companies that produce genealogy software. The products now owned by Mattel include Family Tree Maker, Family Origins, Ultimate Family Tree and Family Heritage. Now Mattel is reducing its work force by 10%, roughly 3,000 positions. It also expects to close some facilities as part of a restructuring.
Mattel says the restructuring and costs related to its merger with The Learning Co. will result in a $300 million-$350 million pretax charge in the second quarter. Jill Barad, Mattel's chairwoman, said, "We expect these combined actions to result in cost savings of approximately $50 million in 1999 and at least $400 million over the following three years."
Mattel also said it will spend $50 million on a new Internet marketing initiative. That initiative is expected to result in a subsidiary and could lead to a public offering of part of it later this year.
On Thursday Mattel announced a first-quarter loss of $17.9 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with earnings of $12.7 million, or 4 cents a year earlier. Sales declined 2 percent to $692.1 million.
The impact of the job cuts on the production of any or all of Mattels genealogy software programs is not clear at this time.
- Archives of Kosovo in Danger
On April 14, 1999 the (U.S.) Society of American Archivists Council voted to approve the following resolution on the destruction of archives in Kosovo and Yugoslavia:
- Korean War Project
Marty O'Brien sent an interesting e-mail message that I will repeat here in its entirety:
- Genelines Now Supports Family Tree Maker Versions 5 and 6
The following press release is from Progeny Software, Inc.:
For my reviews of the earlier versions of Genelines, look at: http://www.ancestry.com/columns/eastman/eastmar09-99.htm#4 and http://www.ancestry.com/columns/eastman/eastOct26-98.htm#lines
- The Family History Show Is Still on the Internet
Mike Matthews popular "Family History Show" is broadcast every week on a number radio stations in Texas. It was also was broadcast live on the Internet, but the station supplying the feed apparently "pulled the plug" a while ago. Now the show is back online and is available to listeners around the world.
You can check this out at: http://www.ktsa.com
- Home Pages Not Highlighted
When traveling, it is quite difficult for me to assemble a list of new home pages. Ill skip it this week and do a double listing next week.
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 newsletters online discussion group on CompuServes Genealogy Techniques Forum. CompuServe members using Netscape, Internet Explorer or CompuServe 2000 can go to http://go.compuserve.com/GenealogyForum. If you are using Classic CompuServe, you can GO ROOTS.
If you would like to submit news, information or press releases for possible inclusion in future newsletters, send them to email@example.com. 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.
COPYRIGHTS: The contents of this newsletter are copyright by Richard W. Eastman and by Ancestry Publishing and by others so designated. You are hereby granted rights, unless otherwise specified, to re-distribute articles from this newsletter to other parties provided you do so strictly for non-commercial purposes. Please limit your re-distribution to one or two articles per newsletter; do not re-distribute the newsletter in its entirety. Also, please include the following words with any articles you re-distribute:
Thank you for your cooperation.
Subscription information: To subscribe to this free newsletter, send an e-mail message to the following address:
The message title is unimportant.
The first line of text in the message must have the words SUBSCRIBE ROOTSCOMPUTING followed by your first and last names. For instance, if your name is Jane Doe, you would write a message of:
That is the entire message; nothing else should be in the message text.
To cancel an existing subscription, send an e-mail to:
The message title is unimportant.
The text of the message must be exactly:
Please note that the address of firstname.lastname@example.org is an "e-mail robot" and messages sent to that address are only read by a computer. If you send any more text in the message, it will be ignored.
If you want to see the current issue as well as back issues of the newsletter, look on the World Wide Web at: http://www.ancestry.com/columns/eastman/index.htm
Please feel free to copy this subscription information and pass it on to anyone else who you think might be interested in obtaining a free subscription.
About the author: Dick Eastman is the forum manager of the four Genealogy Forums on CompuServe. He also is the author of "YOUR ROOTS: Total Genealogy Planning On Your Computer" published by Ziff-Davis Press. He can be reached at: email@example.com