Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas to All!

Merry Christmas to All!

Best Wishes to All for A Very Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Blessed New Year!

San D, Joanne & Del

Christmas Eve from our backyard (note the temp)!

Celebrating the Holidays with friends.

The Red Sweater Group!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Serendipity, Good Luck or ?

Serendipity, Good Luck or ?

My wife and I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with our youngest daughter and her family in Fort Collins, Colorado.  While there we had dinner in Denver one evening with my college roommate and longtime friend, Roger Kinney, and his wife.  After we finished eating and were chatting, Roger pulled a photo out of his jacket, related a short story about the photo and handed it to me. 

In 2009 Roger had written a book, Kinship--A Story of the Kinneys, An English/American Family, tracing them from about mid-9th century in England to the current time.  To make it more readable and interesting he wrote it using a story line.  The story line was created by weaving the historic facts about the family, the times and locations; with assumptions he made about his ancestor’s activities and motivations. 

Roger had given a copy of his book to Jay Sanford, who had helped him on an Oldtimer’s Baseball event that had been hosted by the Colorado Rockies.  This man happened to be quite an authority on the history of baseball.  In reading and discussing the book with Roger, his attention was drawn to a passage that dealt with Roger’s father, Stevens Park Kinney, going back to New York around 1911 to live with his grandparents.  Stevens Park's grandfather, Harry Stevens, had run the concessions for the New York Giants baseball team and, somehow, this rang a bell with Jay.  Shortly, thereafter, Roger received the below photograph of a group of New York sports writers from Jay.  The caption reads, in part, “Sitting on the ground:  Concessionaire Harry Stevens and his nephew”.  The nephew happened to be Roger’s father!

Damon Runyon (3rd from L--on chair), Grantland Rice (2nd from R--on chair);  Stevens Park Kinney and Harry Stevens (Roger's Father and Great-grandfather--on ground)
 To make the story even more interesting, and particularly to sports and literary fans, is the fact both Damon Runyon and Grantland Rice are also in the picture.  Damon Runyon was a very famous writer and newspaperman, whose writings led to the musical “Guys and Dolls” and two other Broadway Productions.  Grantland Rice was the “Dean of Sports Writers” of his time.  He coined the phrase “The Four Horsemen” which he used to describe the backfield of the 1924 Notre Dame football team.

After doing a little research on Roger’s great grandfather, Harry Stevens, I now realize why it wasn’t difficult for Jay Sanford to know who Harry Stevens was.  I found the following about Harry on Google:

Stevens, a British steelworker turned American sports concessionaire, sent his vendors out to buy German sausages and rolls when the crowd at the old New York Polo Grounds turned their frosty thumbs down at the traditional ice cream and peanuts.
The hawkers returned to the stands yelling: "Get them while they're hot!" A New York Post cartoonist asked Stevens what his new item was called.
"Dachshund sandwiches," Stevens said.
"But he couldn't spell dachshund, so when he drew the cartoon, he called them hot dogs," recounted Sandy Rose, a Stevens senior vice president and direct descendant of Harry M.
Harry M. Stevens Inc. is a company that cares a great deal about both tradition and hot dogs. The first company ever formed to cater to the sporting world, it has never strayed far from its original business of selling the fans food, drink and souvenirs. It has had some of its clients, like the now-San Francisco Giants, for nearly a century.

As I discussed with Roger, had he not written the book and given a copy to Jay; the likelihood of him ever finding that photo would have been very, very slight. Just another good reason we should all get around to writing our family history!  

Serendipity, Good Luck or ?


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Blogging--It Was Fun While It Lasted; but. . . .!

Blogging--It Was Fun While It Lasted; but. . . .!

I am just short of seven months of blogging, have posted 153 blogs and feel that is adequate time to evaluate my efforts.  I have enjoyed the experience; but have learned it takes a lot of time.  This, combined with the fact I am only getting about 100 pageviews on a good day, have convinced me to shift my focus to other activities that I have been neglecting.  I have lots of genealogy research, home projects and volunteer activities to keep me more than busy in the future. 

I have only been doing about one subject a day in my blog, whereas, the more popular bloggers are doing two to four subjects.  It takes me about two hours just to do one subject.  That is a lot of time just for a few readers.

I really appreciate those (few) of you who have been "regular subscribers"; but know that there are lots of other genealogy bloggers out there for you to follow.

I have certainly gained a lot of respect and admiration for people like Dick Eastman, Randy Seaver, James Tanner, Pat Richley-Erickson (Dear Myrtle), Thomas MacEntee and Diane Haddad who blog every (or almost every) day of the month come rain or shine.  They, and the many others I haven't named, are truly dedicated genealogists.

I have enjoyed blogging and will probably post occasionally in the future; but need to get back to those "brick walls" and many other activities that I have been neglecting.

Thanks again for you past interest and happy ancestor hunting! . . . . . Del


Friday, November 22, 2013

Where Were You When JFK was Assisinated? (Assuming you are over 55!)--The Killing of My Great Grandfather's Brother in a Wyoming Gunfight)

--Where Were You When JFK was Assassinated (assuming you are over 55)
--The Killing of My Great Grandfather's Brother in a Wyoming Gunfight!

Where Were You When JFK was Assassinated?

Over these past 50 years all of us (who are over the age of about 55) have had the experience of discussing JFK's assassination and, invariably, each person recounts where they were that day when they heard the news.  That is because it was such a traumatic and significant event that it is forever etched in our memories.
I was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and was stationed in a aviation training squadron at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego. Most of the squadron officers and enlisted men worked in the hangar; but my office was in a small building near the hangar.  I believe the wife of one of my fellow officers called to inform him of what happened.  There were no TVs in any of the offices, nor was anyone listening to a radio.  Several of us went outside where our cars were parked and one of the officers turned on his car radio so we could listen.  We all gathered around for several minutes  trying to comprehend the severity of what had just happened.  

Many of us had been in the same squadron just about a year earlier, in October 1962, when the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred and had similar feelings; not knowing at the time who had done the shooting.  The squadron had been put on high alert during the missile crisis and, being the squadron's Top Secret Control Officer, I had to break out our war plans and deliver then to our Commanding Officer and his senior staff.  We were prepared to do the same following the assassination; but our alert status never escalated to that level. 

After listening to the radio for much longer than we probably should have, we got back to work; but in the backs of our minds were thoughts about what had happened and was going on in Dallas.  

Once I got home my wife and I were glued to the television until late that night.  It was a sad day and not one any of us who experienced it will forget. 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    The Killing of My Great Grandfather's Brother in a Wyoming Gunfight!

My paternal great grandfather, Thomas Frank Dean, was the sheriff of Las Animas, Colorado.  He had several brothers including the youngest, Jess.  Jess went to Gillette, Wyoming and got a job working on a ranch.  Gillette is a very small town just to the west of Sundance, Wyoming; famous as the home of the legendary Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  

In December 1899, he was paid for his seasons work by the rancher he worked for and headed into Gillette.  He ended up in a card game, a dispute followed somewhat later, and he was shot and killed.

After word reached my great grandfather he sent letters to the Sheriff in the area, an attorney in Sundance, Wyoming and to the rancher for whom his brother worked.  I have copies of the replies from all of those people explaining what they knew about the shooting.  It reads like a movie script for those western movies many of us (who are older) watched as kids.

I commented in yesterday's blog about how difficult it will be for a computer program to transcribe handwritten documents.  Following are two of the three pages of the latter.  The handwriting is relatively good; but was still a bit of a task to transcribe.

Letter Page 2

Letter Page 4
 Note on the final page above that the signature is very hard to read.  It looks a little like it could be George Amos; but I just can't be certain.  If any of you have ideas, please let me know.   I guess I could go to the 1900 Census for Gillette, Wyoming and see if I can match up any of the names with the signature.  That might be a bit of a chore; but perhaps not if there were only a couple hundred people who lived there.

The envelope below is interesting, in that it was just sent to my great grandfather with the name of the town, county, state and the word "Sheriff".  However, in small towns in those days, this was quite common.  I have other letters to ancestors in Las Animas with just their name and Las Animas, Colorado as an address. 
Following is the transcription of the letter.  Note that I still have a couple question marks where I wasn't sure of the words and I still am not able to make out the name of the rancher who sent the letter as his signature was very hard to read.

Transcription Page 1
Transcription Page 2

Ironically, just two years earlier (1897) Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and his gang held up a bank in Sundance, Wyoming.  Thus, the shooting of Jess Dean and the legendary criminal activities of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were only a couple years apart.

A couple years back the idea crossed my mind of submitting these letters to a movie script writer; but I figured they probably had already done every version of western gunfight killing possible.  However, as I am writing this, its comes to mind that I have a nephew now working in the movie industry.  Hmmm, maybe I will bounce it off of him?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Family Tree DNA Sale Prices--NGS Family History Conference Registrations Opens 1 Dec--Mocavo Attempting to Develop Handwriting Recognition Software

--Family Tree DNA Holiday Sale
--NGS Family History Conference Registration Opens 1 Dec
--Mocavo Attempting to Develop Handwriting Recognition Software

Family Tree DNA Sale Prices

I received a notice today about Family Tree DNA offering special sale prices until December 31.  More information at their web site.  Their Family Finder test is only $99 and includes a $100 gift card from Restaurants.com.

Family Tree DNA Web Page


The NGS 2014 Family History Conference
7–10 May 2014 in Richmond, Virginia
Registration Opens 1 December 2013

I received the following notice from the National Genealogical Society.  I attended two years ago in Charleston and had a wonderful time.  I read over the list of speakers and topics and this looks to be another great conference.  If you think there is any chance of attending, I highly recommend booking a hotel reservation now.  If you change you mind you can always cancel later.

The sixteen-page Registration Brochure for the NGS 2014 Family History Conference, 7–10 May 2014, is now available and can be downloaded at http://goo.gl/KwHTix. Conference registration opens on 1 December 2013. Register online at http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/event-registration/

Have you made your hotel reservations yet? Up-to-date information about the hotels can be found at: http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/attend/accommodations/.  

Mocavo Initiates Project to Develop Tool to Read Handwriting 

Many of the bloggers, including Dick Eastman, Randy Seaver, and James Tanner, have talked about Mocavo's recent announcement  to develop a computer program to read historic handwritten documents just as today's programs have OCR technology to read printed text.

This would be a tremendous breakthrough because there are probably millions of handwritten documents that could be digitized if this technology could be developed.  

I hesitate to say that they won't do it, knowing all the amazing things that computer technology has done within the past half century.  However, having spent some time translating just a few handwritten documents in my possession, there are some challenges that come to mind.  I imagine the computer programs would attempt to use some sort of logic in the translation process; but the spelling of many of our ancestors wasn't always the best.  Also, the structure of sentences and terminology has changed considerably over the years and varies greatly depending on the education level of the individuals.  

The most obvious challenge is the handwriting itself.  I had a three page letter on 5" by 7" stationary and it took me over an hour to translate and type it because the handwriting was so difficult to read.  I would leave blanks for words I couldn't read and then would go back and see if I could determine the word based on context and/or letters that I could identify by comparing them to other letters in the document.  To further complicate the process the handwriting often fades in and out with differing shades of darkness.

I am not saying it can't be done; but there are certainly going to be some formidable challenges.  I wish them well and commend them for taking on this task.  As James Tanner commented, "Is Handwriting Recognition the Holy Grail of Genealogy?"  I think it certainly has the potential to be!
Disclaimer:  I have no affiliation with Family Tree DNA or Mocavo, nor have I received any compensation from them.  I have done DNA testing with Family Tree DNA and have been very pleased with the results and the follow-on support.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Enigmatic Mary O'Malley--My Grandmother


In 2012 Mocavo ran a contest in honor of Mother's Day.  Each applicant was to write, in 1000 words or less, about a woman who had played an important role in his life.  I had written an article about my grandmother about a year earlier for a local genealogy society newsletter.  It was considerably longer than 1000 words, so I spent some time modifying it.

I submitted it and promptly forgot about it until I received a notice from Mocavo  a couple weeks later that I was one of five finalists.  The five stories were placed on the Mocavo web site and the winner was to be selected based on votes by viewers and friends over about a weeks time.  Voters could vote once per day.  

Surprisingly, to me, I jumped out to a lead which lasted a couple days.  Realizing I could win the contest, I got active and started recruiting friends and family to vote for me.  The winner was to receive a trip to Boston and a consultation with Mocavo's new Chief Genealogist, Michael Leclerc.

I ended up winning the contest, thanks to a lot of help from friends and fellow genealogists here in San Diego.  Following is the story I submitted.

Mary O'Malley Dean

When we had thunder and lightning I always knew I could find my grandmother sitting on the front porch.  In fact, at the age of 5 or 6 I recall her calming my fears of thunder and lightning by having me join her on the porch while assuring me there was nothing to fear, rather this act of nature was something to watch and enjoy.  Over the ensuing years I spend many a stormy evening on the porch enjoying nature’s show and chatting with my grandmother.

In my grade school years, when I wanted to have a little money to buy something special, I could always count on grandma; but I always had to earn it by doing chores.  In later years when she couldn’t attend mass on a regular basis because of failing health, she would always give me money to put in the collection and a quarter for me to buy an ice cream or malt—a subtle bribe to attend church on Sundays.  This work ethic and religious faith she encouraged have served me well over the years.

Mary O’Malley Dean was my maternal grandmother and probably the most influential person in my life, not just for calming my fears of nature; but for the stability and guidance she provided for my siblings and me throughout our young lives.  Mary was also a lady somewhat ahead of her time.  She and my grandfather lived in Las Animas, a small town in southeastern Colorado. The community had one or two family doctors and a small hospital.  Despite the fact they were people of only modest means, each of her four children was born in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Denver, which was 200 miles away.  Why she made this trip eluded me until I started researching my family long after she passed away. 

When I later developed an interest in family history, one of the most interesting tasks I undertook was to piece together grandma’s early life.  About all I knew at the time was that her maiden name was O’Malley and she met my grandfather in Denver. 

Apparently, Mary and Lee’s father, Walter O’Malley, abandoned the family and ultimately the two were raised by their father’s sister. Initially, I didn’t know her aunt’s identity, so I dug back through piles of family papers and found was an obituary for Sara Jane McCabe.  The obituary revealed that Sarah and her family had moved from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Mason County, Illinois when she was 18.  I then pieced this together with the court records establishing guardianship for Mary and Lee by Sarah McCabe.  I learned from an uncle that my grandmother left the McCabe’s and went to Denver; got a job and later sent for her brother, Lee, when she had saved sufficient money. 

One of the more pressing questions that came to my mind was: Why would Mary and Lee’s mother let them be raised by her sister-in-law?  Why didn’t she raise them? 

In gathering additional information about my grandmother’s mother, I obtained Mary’s birth record from the Sate of Illinois.  It revealed that her mother’s maiden name was Elizabeth Earhart.  Further research in Illinois records revealed that Elizabeth died in 1892, when Mary and Lee were 6 and 4, respectively.  This answered my question as to why the children weren’t raised by their mother

I was able to get the marriage record for Elizabeth’s mother and to learn that her first husband died and she remarried John Gilmore.  That name Gilmore proved to be very important to my research.   I knew that grandma owned some land in Illinois and speculated that it had been inherited in the 1930s—but from whom?

As luck would have it, in rereading one of the letters in the boxes of papers my mother had saved, I ran across a letter sent by Sarah McCabe in July 1933 to my grandmother saying that “Ma Gilmore” had passed away and that her land now belonged to Lee and her.   Had I not tracked down the fact she had remarried, I would never have been able to establish that “Ma Gilmore” was Mary and Lee’s maternal grandmother.

Why had Mary gone to Denver when she left the McCabes and when did she go?  I was able to confirm that she moved to Denver as I found her as a “boarder” in an apartment building there in the 1910 census.  In my mother’s papers I found several Denver newspaper articles about members of the Hyland family and I recall my grandmother talking about the Hylands.  So I began tracing the Hylands and, around the same time, was trying to learn more about Mary’s father’s siblings.  In addition to his sister, Sara Jane McCabe, who raised Mary and Lee; Walter had six other siblings.  I then speculated that perhaps one of his sisters married a Hyland.  Further research revealed that Thomas Hyland had married Mary O’Malley, my grandmother’s aunt.   I then checked the Colorado census and confirmed that Thomas and Mary were living in Denver in 1910. 
So it wasn’t by chance that grandma moved to Denver when she left Mason County, Illinois.  She had an aunt there who preceded her in moving from Mason County.  It is also very likely that she stayed with the Hylands each of the four times she went to Denver to have a baby. 

Bottom line—I now know a lot more about the wonderful lady that had such a positive impact on my life. No longer is she such an enigma for me. Like many of our ancestors, hers was not an easy life, but she persevered and had a successful and full life.  I think she would be surprised and pleased at how much I now know about her early years and her ancestry.

I had a great trip back to Boston and was really pleasantly surprised that Michael spent almost the full day with me at the New England Historic Genealogical Society's library.  In January he had moved from being the head Genealogist there to the same position with Mocavo.  Following is a photo of Michael and I.

Michael LeClerc and I--NEHGS Library 2012


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ancesstry.com Announces Partnership with AP--50% MyHeritage Discount for BillionGraves Members--Mocave adds 30K Data Bases

Ancestry.com Partners with Associated Press

I read the following announcement today in Dick Eastman's Newsletter:

"Ancestry.com has announced a deal to add historical news articles to the site, via a new link with the Associated Press, according to an announcement released by the two this morning. Ancestry.com said it will feature the original, wire copy format of fifty years of news stories from the Associated Press as part of the deal, spanning from 1937 to 1985. The deal brings more than one million AP stories to the site. Financial details of the deal were not announced."

More details are provided at the Ancestry.com blog.

New Partnership with MyHeritage and Special Offer

I received the following notice from BillionGraves today.  It is a reminder of an earlier announcement that some of you might have missed.

As a reminder, this amazing offer from MyHeritage - our new partner* - expires in just three short days.

Sign up now at this great low price!

Some have asked if a subscription is now required to access BillionGraves; NO! This is a promotional offering sponsored by MyHeritage and is NOT required to make contributions to or gain access to the BillionGraves website.  BillionGraves is and will always continue to be a free resource to you and the world.

This special offer from MyHeritage is HALF OFF their full regularly priced PremiumPlus and Data membership! 

Personally, I much prefer FindAGrave to Billion Graves; but I do believe MyHeritage is a very good site, especially at a 50% discount.
Mocavo Announces Addition of 30,000 New Databases

Mocavo recently announced the addition of 30,000 new databases in a one month period.  This now brings their number of databases to 138,000.  James Tanner who writes the Genealogy's Star blog, had a very good write up about Mocavo in his blog recently.  
Disclaimer:  I am in no way affiliated with any of the aforementioned companies nor do I receive any compensation from them.  These are strictly my own opinions.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Dad's College Baseball

My Dad's College Baseball

In addition to my dad playing football at the University of Colorado (CU), as discussed in previous blogs, he also played baseball for them.  I had several newspaper clippings about his baseball at CU; but was surprised about a year ago when the following two pages from CU yearbooks showed up while doing a Mocavo search.  

The following page from the 1934 CU yearbook, noted that four players on the baseball team were named to the All-Conference team.  My father was one of them and their best pitcher, Bill Subry was another.  Bill's photo is on the left below.  They were co-champions of the league that year.  Bill and my dad were classmates and played on the same team at CU for three years.  Twenty years later when I attended CU on a baseball scholarship, one of the other pitchers in my freshman class was named Bill Subry, the son of my father's teammate.  Bill and I played three years together at CU, just as our fathers had.

1934 CU Yearbook

My dad's photo is in the upper right corner of the yearbook page below.  The write-up listed him as the starting third baseman for the team.  

1935 CU Yearbook

My dad's coach throughout his years at CU was a man named Harry Carlson.  When I attended school there 20 years later Harry Carlson was the Dean of Men.  He would frequently attend practices and games and, having been a pitcher in his younger days and then a coach, would offer me pointers and advice.  To carry the irony further, my coach was a man named Frank "Chief" Prentup.  Chief and my dad had been officers in the same unit together in the Navy during WW II and the Athletic Business Manager, Kayo Lam, had been my dad's teammate, an fellow All-Conference player, on the CU Football team. 

 This worked to my benefit in getting a scholarship and financial aid; but it also put extra pressure on me to live up to the high levels of performance of my dad at CU.  I enjoyed my time at CU and baseball helped me get through school; but I was never as good an athlete as my father. 

1959 CU Yearbook (Del Ritchhart lower left)

The following newspaper clipping is from the Denver Post showing four CU athletes who all participate in more than one sport at the school.  My father is in the lower left and also played football.  He was All-Conference in both sports.

Del Ritchhart (lower left)


Friday, November 15, 2013

Fhoto Friday--San Diego's New Public Library Genealogy Section

Fhoto Friday--San Diego's New Public Library Genealogy Section

I went downtown yesterday to visit the New San Diego Central Library and thought I would share some insights about the Genealogy Section.  I call it Genealogy Section; but it is listed on the Library's web site as Special Collections, with an obscure reference to genealogy.  I really find that misleading because I  looked at almost every shelf of books and they are about "Genealogy" and should be referred to as such!  I will, therefore, refer to it as the Genealogy Section throughout the remainder of the blog (and in the future--forever).  

The library has been open now for almost two months; but there was still evidence that it is not a finished product.  Several of the parking stalls in the underground two-level garage are still filled with construction material.  The main elevator is not yet serviceable and, yesterday, one of the two remaining elevators was undergoing repairs.  Since the genealogy section is on the top (9th) floor, it took a lot of patience as the one working elevator stopped at every floor, with large numbers of people waiting to get on going both up and down.  Hopefully, this is a temporary problem.  

I stopped on the 1st floor to get a library card and the process was very efficient.  It does help if you fill out the application online before going to the library.  They immediately pulled it up and printed out my card.  You do need a photo ID to prove San Diego residency; but your photo is not included on the library card.

San Diego Central Library
Throughout the library their is a nice feeling of openness and light.  Additionally, being on the top floor, the genealogy section has a wonderful view from the row of large windows looking southwest toward the bay.

The photo below is of the Reading Room, which has also been dubbed "The People's Penthouse".  As you can see from this view looking down from the 9th floor terrace, it is very open and airy.  The room is three stories high, extending upward toward the dome.

8th Floor--Reading Room (People's Penthouse)

Below is the view from the 9th Floor Terrace looking up at the dome with the glass enclosed, three story 8th Floor Reading Room in the foreground. 
9th Floor View of Dome

As you get off of the elevator on the 9th floor and look directly ahead one sees the view below which is the entrance to the Special Collection and Rare Books, which includes the Genealogy Section.
Rare Books & Special Collections Entrance

Following is a photo of a portion of the Rare Books room, which has entrances both from the terrace area outside and, inside, from the Genealogy Section.  The books have not yet been put on the shelves in this section.  It is a very warm room with dark wood floors and shelves.
Rare Books

Below is a view of the bank of eight computers that are available immediately to your right upon entering the Genealogy Section.  Entrance to the Rare Book section is immediately to the rear in this photo.They do have the Library Version of Ancestry.com.  Throughout the library is free Wi-Fi which is appropriately titled "New Central Library Wifi".  It immediately connected on my laptop and worked very well without my having to even select it or click on "connect".  In addition to the computers, toward the back of the room they have two digital microfilm readers with a printing capability and a copier.
Genealogy Section Computers (8)

The next photo is of the stacks in the genealogy section taken from the back of the room.  When I took the photo I had my back toward a complete wall of windows looking southwest toward the bay.  Along that wall are several tables equipped with power outlets for laptops and other electronic devices.  The periodicals are in the shelves in the forefront of the photo, state and county oriented books are in the central rows and along the front of the room are general books about genealogy.

I noticed in looking through the shelves that there is lots of space for the addition of more books.  I assume that in the near future the displays at both ends of each stack of shelves with contain the appropriate call numbers.  Currently, only the end of each shelve facing the front of the room has the numbering.  As you can see from this photo taken from the back of the room, their are no call numbers listed.

Genealogy Library Stacks

This photo is taken from near the far left front of the Genealogy Section and, in the background shows a portion of the wall of windows looks out on San Diego and toward the bay.  In the forefront are study tables all equipped with power outlets. 
Study Table 

The below photo is of the 9th Floor Terrace area immediately adjacent to the Genealogy and Rare Books section (left of terrace in this view).  The glass walled area on the right of the photo looks down on the 8th floor Reading Room.

9th Floor Terrace

I can only speak from having visited the 9th floor and the entrance area on the 1st floor; but I was very impressed with what I observed.  The library has a very open feeling to it, which is further enhanced by many floors having access to outside areas, such as you see in the photo above.  This might not be as practical in Buffalo; but suits San Diego's climate very nicely. 

In case you live in the San Diego area and would like to visit the new library and also take in a genealogy presentation, on behalf of the San Diego Genealogical Society, I will be providing an "Introduction to Genealogy Workshop" on 10 December at the beautiful  Special Events Suite on the 9th floor from 10 am until noon.  Please let us know if you are coming at sdgsclasses@gmail.com.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

MyHeritage Announces Helpful New Feature--Take Advantage of Upcoming Genealogy Conferences and Meetings

MyHeritage Announces Helpful New Feature

I received an announcement today from Daniel Horowitz, MyHeritage's Chief Genealogist and Translation Manager, about a new feature that will allow users to copy sources from records into multiple profiles on family trees.  For instance census records that contain data for parents and multiple children can be  easily extracted into all relevant family tree profiles.

New: Extract information to multiple profiles 

More details on how this feature works, including helpful screen shots, can be found by clicking here.
Upcoming Genealogy Events

I received an email today from the Coordinators of the 2014 Escondido (California) Family History Fair that it will be on Saturday 1 March.  Additionally, the Chula Vista (California) Stake of LDS will be conducting a Family History Fair the following Month; however, I don't have the date.  With RootsTech in Salt Lake City being 5-8 February and the Southern California Genealogical Society's Annual Jamboree being 5-8 June, those of us in Southern California are going to have to be working our schedules and saving our pennies!

I have not attended RootsTech before; but plan on attending this one.  I was advised by a previous attendee to arrive early for the lectures, because the rooms fill up fast.  I have attended Jamboree for several years and always enjoy it very much.  I not only enjoy the presentations; but the opportunity to interact on a personal basis with the vendors.  It provides a rare opportunity to tell them what you like or don't like about their products--especially the genealogy software programs.  I was pleased to see a change in the 2014 Family Tree Maker Program (FTM) that I had recommended to one of the FTM demonstrators at last year's Jamboree.  It might have been coincidental that the change occurred; but I prefer to believe that they listened to my recommendation.

I think the local conferences, such as the Escondido and Chula Vista Family History Fairs, are particularly good, in that they enable people who can't travel great distances because of physical limitations, limited funds or lack of vacation time to be exposed to an excellent selection of genealogy speakers and topics.

Wherever you live, I encourage you to do yourself a big favor and take advantage of similar genealogy educational opportunities in your region and communities.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Loading Family Tree Maker from a Disk--Too Hard!--Compouter Genealogy Society of San Diego--November Meeting

Loading Family Tree Maker from a Disk--Too Hard!

In my blog of 1 November, I discussed the problems I had merging two of my trees on Family Tree Maker (FTM).  Since FTM tech support had no solution for my problem and determined the program was corrupted, I decided to delete FTM 2014 and reload the program. I started that process yesterday afternoon about 3 pm.  At about 4:30 pm, after being unsuccessful in trying to get the disc to load, I contacted technical support.  I got a very nice and helpful lady and she talked me through the process which included disabling the Norton firewall, closing all applications and opening Internet Explorer.  We then copied the FTM disc from it's location in the disc drive.  The next step was to paste that on the desktop and then open the program.  The instructions for this, which she sent me, were 2 1/2 pages long.  Unfortunately, that didn't work; despite trying it about three times.   I keep getting a widow that says "Can't read from the source file or disc".  I had also uninstalled FTM 2014 from the computer prior to trying to load the disc.  At 5:40 pm, I finally gave up.  I spent another hour this morning; but still couldn't get the program to load.
The technician said she spends about half her time each day helping people with this same problem--trying to install FTM 2014.  She said both Norton Security and Windows 8 further complicate the problem.  I will say that I had no problem loading FTM 2014 on my Windows 7 laptop. I asked her if it would work better if I downloaded the program from their web site; but she said I would have to pay again for the program to do that. Seems like they should be able to give me a temporary pass code for a one time download, assuming that would work better than the disc.    I am wondering: "What happened to being able to insert the disc in the drive and have it auto load?"

Obviously, there must be problems doing that; but the current situation is totally unsatisfactory.  People should not have to spend half a day trying to load a program.  I recall when I originally loaded FTM 2014 a few month back, I had to call technical support.  We were successful then in getting it to load; but as of today, I am still unsuccessful in being able to reload FTM 2014, let alone solve the merging problem.  I hate to have to revert back to FTM 2012, which I fortunately still have loaded on my computer.  I did notice a statement on the FTM website this morning that if the aforementioned procedures for loading 2014 wouldn't work, call them back again and they would have the technician take control of the computer and load the program.  I guess that will have to be my next move if I want to use 2014.
Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego--November Meeting

I received the following notice about the CGSSD November meeting:

The Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego meets on the 3rd Saturday of each month (except December) from 9:00 a.m. to noon on the campus of UCSD, University of California, San Diego. See our map page for directions.
The next meeting will be held on 16 Nov 2013 from 9:00 am to noon. Here are the details:

Annual Meeting and Election of Officers
25th Anniversary Celebration!

  • 9:00 - User groups: Legacy and Roots Magic. SIG: DNA.
  • 10:00 - Break / Anniversary Cake
  • 10:20 - Announcements / Giveaways / Annual Meeting and Election of Officers
    • Short Updated History of CGSSD by Joan Lowrey, followed by program:

"Excel and Word, the Genealogist's Best Friend"
by Hal Horrocks

Excel and Word can greatly enhance your genealogy research.  Examples showing how they can be used in your everyday research will be presented.  From taking your current database and converting it to Excel for better examination to extracting large amounts of data for finding those tough to find ancestors will be shown.
A native Californian and longtime Orange County California resident, Hal Horrocks is a professional genealogist, teacher, and lecturer.  He has been doing family research for 15 years and is a member of Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), Genealogical Speakers Guild (GSG), Orange County California Genealogical Society (OCCGS), Guild for One-Name Studies, Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society (UK), and Cheshire Family History Society (UK).  He has written several articles for publication in the UK.  He is also the current President of OCCGS. In addition, he has developed a web site for the Horrocks surname that includes a one-name study, a DNA study, and family trees for Horrocks researchers.  Hal has been giving lectures to genealogy societies thought out southern California for the last 5 years.
We meet at the Robinson Auditorium complex on the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus in La Jolla. From North Torrey Pines Road, turn at Pangea Drive into UCSD. Free parking is available in the parking garage on the left; use any space other than those specifically reserved for UCSD vehicles. Signs will mark directions to our meeting room. Please refer to our website www.cgssd.org; or the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies website (click here) for driving directions and a map.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

My G4 Grandfather Christian Ritschart's Hauss Buch (House Book)

My G4 Grandfather Christian Ritschart's Hauss Buch (House Book)

I first became interested in genealogy in 1993 when I received a letter in the mail promoting a new book with the title "Richhart Ritchhart Ritschard--A Swiss-German Family From 1500 Until 1993" by Bettye Richhart.  Page 15 of the book was titled "Hauss Buch" (House Book), which was a record started by Christian Ritschhart on 7 April 1750, the year the family emigrated from Switzerland to Pennsylvania.

The following information about the book was provided on that page:  "A partial translation can be found at the Pennsylvania Historical Society.  The translation was done by George R. Seiffert of Philidelphia, date unknown.  The complete book can be found on film #468306, Item 3 at the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, Utah."  

The book contained excerpts from the book that provided pertinent names and dates of births, deaths, marriages and other key family events.  At the time I thought it would be great if I could have the original Hauss Buch"; but I discarded that thought since the book was in the hands of the Pennsylvania Historical Society (PHS) and there were other descendants with as much right to the book as me.   I did, however, want a copy of the book and a few years later sent to the Pennsylvania Historical Society for a copy.  The following are the first three pages:


 I was a little disappointed that the cover wasn't in color like you would expect a bible or record book to be.  

Title Page

 Although I appreciated the translation, as the original would have been in German; I also expected to receive a copy of the original pages as written in German. However, I was still happy to receive the information and that Christian had been so accommodating as to have kept the record.

Typical Transcribed Page 
The notes pertaining to Christian I and II on the above page were mine, as there was a transition from father to son in recording the family events. There were three pages of the transcribed writings, covering 12 pages of the original book.  

Two years ago, while on a trip back East to do Genealogical research; I stopped in Philadelphia and visited the Pennsylvania Historical Society in hopes of getting to view the original "Hauss Buch."  I didn't even need to look up the call number as the "Gen Ri5" was on the cover of the copy that I received.  Much to my dismay, however, when the document was delivered, it looked exactly like what was sent to me as a copy.  They didn't hold the original document--just the translation!  I asked if there was any way to determine if the original copy still existed and/or where it might be.  They did check a couple sources; but said there was no record pertaining to the original document.

Unfortunately, the translation has no date on it, nor did the PHS have any record of when they received the translation.  I have been unsuccessful in searching for George Seiffert, the transcriber.    

I would hope that the original still exists somewhere; but haven't had any luck it finding it.  My consolation is that I, at least, have the translation.  My visit to PHS also revealed that there were an additional two pages of transcriptions, covering 8 pages of the original document, that had not been sent to me when I originally requested a copy of the book.  Just another example that repositories do make mistakes.