Sunday, June 30, 2013

Don't Try This Unless Under Professional Supervision!--Buy a New iPad

One I got a little yard work done yesterday, wrote my blog and took my desktop to my compute repair people, it was off to buy our first tablet computer--an iPad.  Little did I know that the remainder of my day would be a mini-crisis!

After comparing prices at Best Buy, I went to Miramar Marine Corps Air Station Base Exchange, where the iPad 4 was $10 less in price plus a $50 savings because of no tax.  I headed home and at about 2:30 p.m. started setting up the iPad.  First was to set up the wi-fi so I could use my home wi-fi net.  I had my laptop running on it so I knew it was functioning properly.  However, despite repeatedly putting in the password (Net Key) it wouldn't work.  In fact it got to the point it kept searching for a connection and would not allow me to type in the password.  I tried turning it off, recycling the power to the router; but nothing would stop the pad from constantly searching for the wi-fi connection.

Finally, at about 4 p.m., I looked up the number on the internet for Apple support and gave them a call.  I got a person from India, where I think all computer tech support is based today.  He couldn't fix the problem right away so he said let's hook up the iPad through your computer, I will take control of your computer and analyze the problem.  Sounded logical.  He then ran a comprehensive test program on my computer and determined that I had 113 Registry Errors (125 and above was supposedly critical), the browser needed to be optimized, several services were stopped and needed to be started, the IP address was corrupted, and several other problems.  He said that although my iPad would normally operate independent of the laptop, the fact it was on the same corrupted network was the problem.    Since I had just taken my desktop in that morning with problems I suspected were the result of viruses and other contamination, I wasn't surprised that my laptop also had the same problem.  However, I still couldn't comprehend why these problems would have any impact on my iPad making a wi-fi connection.  He finally convinced me that for $150, he would solve all the problems, get the iPad working and I would have a one year guarantee on any computer, printer, or iPad problems.

I finally decided that rather than waiting until my desktop was finished being repaired and then taking in the laptop and loosing it for about a week, I would pay the price and get it all fixed.  He than connected me with their finance dept to make the payment.  That is when I learned that the payment was to be made to "iYogi". I inquired further and learned that I wasn't dealing with Apple at all, this was an internet company that does computer repair.  I had mistakenly called them thinking it was Apple.  I know to always check the URL to make sure it says "Apple" or the name of your company of concern; but somehow I failed to do it.  When I balked the agent took me to the BBB Site and they did have an "A" rating; but I wasn't happy that they had let me think I was talking with Apple.  Without dragging this out any longer than I already have, I ended up getting passed to the technician who was going to solve my problem. After quite some time he finally solved the problem with the iPad, which he said was a software problem with the new iPad.  However, he didn't say anything about the 113 registry problems and myriad of other problems with my corrupted laptop.  When I asked he, he said I didn't say anything about those problems when I was passed on to him.  I explained that was his predecessor's  fault not mine.  He agreed and, after some haggling and being passed back to a financial person, they agreed to drop all charges for the service.  The time was now--8 p.m.!  I had about a 20 min break while he worked on the iPad, during which time I had dinner.  I later checked the rating of  iYogi with the PC Magazine web site.  They had 3 or 5 stars and were rated reasonably priced; but technically about average.

The iPad now works fine and I set up my e-mail and several apps this morning; but I lost a whole afternoon and had to go through a lot of agony yesterday to achieve that.  I probably should have driven the 30 minutes to an Apple store and solved the problem in minutes; but if I had gone there and it logged in fine on their
wi-fi, I still wouldn't have been assured it would work on my wi-fi at home?  The moral of the story once again--always be sure and check the URL when you select a web site and contact them for a purchase or help!  A lesson RE-LEARNED the hard way!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ancestry Family Search Extension/New San Diego Library/Ancestry Release about Old vs. New Search

San Diego Public Library

Was interesting to note that Dick Eastman quoted the recent release  by the San Diego Public Library and the San Diego Genealogical Society about the upcoming grand opening of the new library on September 28. 2013.

Old vs. New Ancestry Search

I don't mean to be replicating all of Dick Eastman's newsletter; but he was asked by Ancestry to make an announcement regarding this current "hot" topic, and I think it is important for as many genealogists as possible to see their release.  Following is the Ancestry release as announced in Dick Eastman's newsletter: Family Search Extension

I led a discussion group last Saturday at the Computer Genealogical Society of San Diego's monthly meeting. During the discussion on of the members suggested that the group try an application that he had used with good success.  It is called Ancestry Family Search Extension.  You have to use it with the Google Chrome browser and you can download it at the Chrome Web Store.  You also have to have a family tree uploaded to  

In the search window in the upper left of the screen type in "Ancestry family search extension" and the choice comes up as the top box on the right.  Click on "Add to Chrome" and you are set.

In the graphic above of the Chrome Web Store, I have typed in "Ancestry family search extension" in the upper left box and it appears in the large box to the right.  Since I had already downloaded the extension it shows a green check mark on the left and the choice to "rate it".  However, if you have not downloaded it, you will see the choice "Add to Chrome" as seen above next to the red arrow for the app "RootsSearch".

Once you have downloaded the extension, you then open in the chrome browser, select your family tree and then select the profile view for an individual of interest that you want to search for in Family Search.  

In the graphic above I have opened the profile view of my paternal grandmother, Grace Azetta Bush Ritchhart.  Note in the upper right hand corner you will see the tree icon that we associate with Family Search. The presence of the tree signifies that you have the extension downloaded.  By clicking on the tree I will start the search in Family Search for data on Grace using selected information from my ancestry files.

After clicking on the tree icon the box shown in yellow above appears.  Each of the three selections Name, Event and Relationship control what ancestry data will be used for the search in Family Search.  The name pull down window allows you to select birth name for men and birth or married name for women.  The Event pull down selections are: None, Any, Birth or Death.  The Relationship pull down selections are None, spouse or parents. Depending on the choices you make, the corresponding date will be filled in (assuming it is in your ancestry data base) and used for the search in Family Search. 

In the bottom line within the Ancestry Family Search Extension box (yellow above), you are then given the choice to view the results of the search in Ancestry or Family Search.  I use Ancestry and Family Tree Maker (FTM) as my primary data file for my genealogical data, so I would view it in Ancestry and then save the data to my tree so I could sync it with FTM.  However, if you wanted to save the data to Family Search, you have that option. 

The above graphic shows the results of search as displayed in Family Search.  Unfortunately, either because of computer problem or a network problem, I was unable to display the search results in Ancestry.  You will note in the second graphic above it, there is an error note.  I have contacted Ancestry in hopes of finding a solution to the "HTTP status code 403" error.

As soon as I find a solution to the error problem, I will pass that information along.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Computer Problems

Computer Problems

Unfortunately, yesterday afternoon I had some computer problems with one of my applications.  In getting it fixed, technical support from the application company took control of my computer and it has been fouled up since.  I can't get either Internet Explorer of Chrome to work properly and I am doing my blog on Chrome.  I am able to get this out; but I am very limited in what I can do.  I am going to shift to my laptop; but spent so much time working on this desktop that I am again up against the timeline.  Sorry about the problems; but I hope to do better tomorrow.  Thanks for your patience.

Family Tree DNA Special Price Announcement

Family Tree DNA made the following announcement yesterday regarding special pricing for the next month:

Dear Valued Customer,
Summer is once again upon us and it is time for our Sizzling Summer event! Our successful summers over the last two years have led us to offer you great values again this year.

We have been working with Illumina to offer our Family Finder autosomal test for only $99 during our summer event. In fact, if we receive enough orders at $99, Illumina may be able to help us keep it at this extremely low of rate of $99!

As you take advantage of our summer event, remember that the permanency of the $99 Family Finder test is actually in your hands!


Beginning on Thursday, June 27, 2013 and running until Friday, July 26, 2013, we will offer the following:

Family Finder
was $289
Now $99
mtDNA Full Sequence
was $289
Now $189
was $169
Now $129
was $268
Now $208
was $359
Now $308
Family Finder + Y-DNA37
was $368
Now $228
Family Finder + Y-DNA67
was $467
Now $307
Family Finder + mtDNAFullSequence
was $398
Now $288
Comprehensive Genome (Y-DNA67, FMS & FF)
was $666
Now $496


Note:  I have no affiliation with Family Tree DNA, nor do I receive any compensation from them.  This announcement is for public service purposes only. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

WDYTYA Starting July 23

I learned in Dick Eastman's newsletter this morning that The Learning Channel (TLC) has announced their celebrity line up for this season's WDYTYA series.  I probably should have spelled our what WDYTYA means; but I am depending on the fact that most genealogists are going to know.  

Now that we have completed the series for Dancing with the Stars, American Idol and The Voice; I will have to tape and watch another "must see" series!  I must admit that I only know four of the celebrities.  Following is the announcement:

U.S. Version of Who Do You Think You Are? Announces This Season's Celebrities

TLC has announced the celebrities to appear on the new series beginning July 23. They are: Christina Applegate, Kelly Clarkson, Cindy Crawford, Zooey Deschanel, Chelsea Handler, Chris O'Donnell, Jim Parsons and Trisha Yearwood.

Details may be found on TLC's web site at

Ancestry Family Search Extension
I had hoped to provide a detailed discussion of a very neat application that allows you to open your tree and then do a search in Family Search with a search box that is populated by the data from your ancestry tree. It can only be used with Chrome, so you have to open ancestry with Chrome. Unfortunately, as I got to the end of the process, I received an error message.  To get it resolved I had to send the message data to Ancestry and wait for their response--which I hope will fix the problem.  Having spend a lot of time getting that far, I am out of time.  Thus, you are getting a very abbreviated blog tonight!  Sorry--will try and make up tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cemetery in a Corn Field

Blogging Statistics

I would certainly like to know what prompted so many to view my blog yesterday.  A month ago, I was lucky to get 80 view pages per day; then Randy Seaver mentioned my blog and the next day I had 130.  For the  next two to three weeks readership stayed around 100, then yesterday jumped to 230!  I hope it wasn't an anomaly. 

Yesterday, I was looking at some statistics about my viewers and discovered that figures are provided about viewership by country.  As you would suspect about 90% of viewership is from the U.S.  What was surprising is that Russia was #2 at around 7%!  I hope they are valid genealogists because I recently heard a presentation about computer security and the speaker mentioned that China and Russia were the top two countries involved in attempting to hack computers and run on-line scams in the U.S.

Cemetery in a Corn Field

In 1999 when I retired from Lockheed Martin in the Washington D.C. area, Joanne and I headed back to San Diego via a well planned route that included stops at the cities where my Ritchhart ancestors had lived during their migration from Pennsylvania to Colorado. One of those cities was Noblesville, Indiana; just outside Indianapolis.  I had a cousin I hadn't seen in at least 40 years whom we were staying with for a couple days and he lived just a few miles past Noblesville.  As we drove into town about 2 p.m., I figured we would stop at a gas station or fast food place and ask where Lowery Cemetery was.  Now that I am 14 years wiser about genealogy research, I would be better prepared; but this was basically my first research trip.

Noblesville and Lowery Cemetery

After stopping at two different businesses and getting nothing but blank stares, we headed to the County Courthouse.  We went to the County Clerk's office and, after some searching around, she produced a map that was approximately 4 feet by 3 feet and showed us where the Cemetery was.  I was about 4 miles outside town.  After paying $4 for the map, which we had to fold into a smaller portion, because it took up the total front seat; we headed out. 

Lowery Cemetery

When we arrived at the Cemetery we realized why no one knew where it was!  I was only about a two acre lot at the intersection of two country roads, surrounded by corn fields.  It was well maintained, we surmised, by the people on the farm adjacent.

You can see the corn field in the background of the photo above and how nicely the cemetery was maintained.  At the time I commented to Joanne that I imagine the people in the cemetery, including my gggrandparents, lived on farms close to the cemetery.  Later research revealed that my ancestors owned all the land surrounding the cemetery; thus, they probably donated the land.

Mary and Andrew Ritchhart's Headstones

After only about a 15 minute drive from the cemetery we arrived at my cousin's home.  I began telling him about our experience and asking him if he had been to the cemetery.  His answer was no and this was a person who actually had an interest in our family history and gave me some very helpful documents and photos.  The distance from his house to the cemetery was about the same as from Noblesville to the cemetery--4 miles!

Red box represents the home of my cousin

I believe he was a little embarrassed about the fact he hadn't been there despite the close proximity.  The next time we visited him we drove over and took some photos, including the one below.
Del and Ken Ritchhart

The moral of the story is to be well prepared when you go on your research trips and don't take anything for granted!  Something we all now know; but I had to learn the hard way.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Free Access to findmypast and Interesting Old Photos--How our Dress Code has Changed! Offers Free Access to Collection of Irish Records

The following announcement was made yesterday by  If you don't subscribe to findmypast, be sure and mark 27-30 June on your calendar to take advantage of their offer.

Free Access to Irish Records on June 27-30

On June 30, 1922, the Public Records Office of Ireland, located at the historic Four Courts in Dublin, caught fire during the Irish Civil War. Tragically a considerable amount of Irish records were destroyed. The fire has had lasting effects – still felt today – as Irish family history requires a unique approach to research than other heritages.

To commemorate this anniversary and encourage exploration of Irish genealogy, will offer its full collection of Irish Birth, Marriage and Death indexes free of charge from June 27 to June 30. Anyone searching for their Irish ancestors can access the full Irish record collection by registering for free at

Interesting Old Photo--How Dress Code Has Changed

I was looking at some old photos when it occurred to me how much our dress code has changed.  Looking at the following photos, imagine what people would be wearing if the photo were taken today.  
Out for a Sunday Ride--circa 1910

I am not sure who all the riders are; but believe the man is my great grand Uncle, Charlie.  This is in a very remote area south of Las Animas, Colorado; where I grew up.

My Great Aunt in Riding Attire--circa 1910
This is my great aunt, Blanche, possibly in the same area as the riders in the 1st photo above.  The markings of the mule don't match any of the mules in the first photo.  

My Great-Great Grandparents--circa 1888 
This is my maternal grandfather's parents, Ida and Thomas, parents of Blanche above.  Charlie, above, is Ida's brother.  Photo taken in the same general area as the other two above. 

My Great Uncle and Grandmother--circa 1910
This photo of my grandmother was either taken just after she married my grandfather and moved from Denver to Las Animas or just prior to the wedding on a visit to Las Animas from Denver.  She is obviously trying to impress with her attire while walking amongst the chickens!

Great Grand Uncle Charlie in Doorway--circa 1910

I believe this photo is taken in the same area as the 2nd photo above that has a corner of the cabin in the background.  Today the women would be in shorts or long pants and the men definitely wouldn't have on jackets and long pants!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Searching Find A Grave--Sometimes less is better!

Searching Find A Grave

I am a big fan of Find A Grave and have found a lot of very helpful information doing searches on the site.  However, I did encounter an interesting feature of the site while doing a search today.  I was searching for my gggrandfather's grave at St. Frederick's Cemetery in Manito, Illinois.  I know he is buried there because I have been there and photographed his headstone.  What I learned is that sometimes less is better than more.  When I put in his name, year of birth, year of death, and State and County of burial; I didn't get any results for the search.  However, when I just put the O'Malley surname with the State and County of burial the information came up for Peter, his wife, Julia, and their daughter and her family.  I later learned that the reason was that I had put date of birth as 1835 vice 1837, which is what is on the headstone and in the data base.  Thus, even thought I had everything correct except the date of birth--the search was unsuccessful.  I also checked and had not indicated it was an "exact" search.  I would have expected that the search algorithm would allow a little leeway for the date of death or birth.  Apparently not!  I repeated the searches a couple times just to confirm my results.  I will contact Find A Grave with this and let you know what they say.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Exploring World Vital Records

Exploring World Vital Records

I renewed my subscription to World Vital Records and hadn't used it to do any research in a while, so decided to see what I could come up with.  I did a search for the Ritchhart surname alone (no first name) and came up with several items listed.  As I scanned down the list I came upon the name of the family history book I published in August 2011 entitled Breathing Life into Family Ancestors.  When I clicked on that listing it displayed the Index pages of the book 375-377, which contained all of the Ritchhart names in the book.  What was most impressive is that they were all hyperlinked, such that when I clicked on them that took me to the place in the book where that individual was discussed.  Thus, the whole book had been scanned and was available.  They were also selling a copy of an e-book version for $3.03.  Not sure how they can do that when I have the copyright and without giving me any royalty.  I need to look into that a little more!  I assume they must have purchased a copy of the book from Amazon or the publisher, AuthorHouse; in order to scan it for inclusion in their data base.

I then decided to explore their Newspaper Archive Collection.  Like most search sights, you can either search their total data base or just specific collections.  Once again I was impressed that I did find several obituaries about Ritchhart ancestors or family members.  As I examined the listings more closely, almost all of the listings were from newspapers in two different cities where ancestors had lived; Joplin, Missouri and Anderson, Indiana.  I was disappointed that when I clicked on a selection, the full page of the newspaper was displayed; but the article of interest was not highlighted.  Thus, you had to search the total page to find the article containing your person of interest.  I also found it difficult to crop, enlarge and/or print the article of interest.  I finally ended up highlighting the article, copying it and pasting it into Microsoft Word.

Since I also subscribe to MyHeritage, which owns World Vital Records, I was concerned that they might both have the same data bases; thus, I was wasting money subscribing to both.  However, in looking more closely, I don't think that is the case.  World Vital Records does include MyHeritage's Family Trees; but each has collections that the other doesn't.


If you are traveling to Ireland in the near future you should be aware of this service that was announced today.  These genealogist are apparently available at the National Library in Dublin to assist visitors with their Irish research.  You can learn more at,  Following is the announcement from Eneclann.

Genealogy Advisory Service at the National Library of Ireland

 Eneclann and Ancestor Network have assembled probably the largest ever team of Irish genealogists with a huge range of expertise, including our own Fiona Fitzsimons and Carmel Gilbride; Brian Mitchell (author of the Irish Genealogical Atlas; Guide to Irish Church Records); renowned Irish-American genealogist Eileen O'Duill; and the research team behind the Genealogy Roadshow - Aiden Feerick, Hilary McDonagh and John Hamrock, to name a few. 

This crack genealogy team will be a wonderful resource for overseas visitors and the home audience alike, and a good news story in the year of the Gathering.  This is the second year that the Eneclann-Ancestor Network partnership has brought you the NLI's Genealogy Advisory Service, this year operating on extended hours to give you even more opportunity to research your family tree.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

PAF Going Away; World Vital Records Discount and Thomas MacAntee Webinar at Computer Genealogical Society of San Diego's June Meeting

PAF No Longer To Be Supported

Dick Eastman's newsletter of 21 June had an article revealing an announcement by Family Search that PAF will no longer be supported by Family Search after 15 July 2013. 


World Vital Records Discounted Subscription Rate
for Family Tree Magazine readers

World Vital Records announced a discounted subscription rate on 21 June 2013.  World Vital Records is now a Family Heritage Company and has also affiliated with Family Tree DNA.  You can read more at A Company

Dear Delbert,

We have arranged a great last minute special offer on a full year - PLUS TWO FREE ADDITIONAL MONTHS - for full access to

Hurry this offer is good for 4 days only! Offer expires Tuesday, June 25, 2013 

For a limited time, FamilyTreeMagazine readers can join for only $69.95 for a one-year subscription PLUS get two extra months for free, making it 14 months of access if you purchase before TUESDAY, June 25. That's a savings of more than $79! 

Disclaimer:  I have no affiliation with World Vital Records or Family Heritage and receive no compensation from them.  The announcement is for informational purposes only.

Thomas MacEntee Webinar at  Computer Geniological Society of San Diego's (CGSSD)) June Meeting

At today's meeting we viewed, via computer link, a presentation on "Backing Up Your Genealogy Data" by Thomas MacEntee.  Not only was it an excellent presentation by Thomas; but all of the technical aspects of the presentation were flawless.  His voice quality was loud and clear and the visual presentation was the same as if he were in the room with us.  Additionally, we had a Q&A session at the end in which the attendees could ask questions and receive a response in real time.  A similar presentation via computer link was tried by CGSSD about three or four years ago and it was marred by lots of technical problems. This was a rousing success, not only from my viewpoint; but as reflected in the comments of the attendees.  Credit goes to CGSSD President and Program Director Paul Hawthorne for scheduling and coordinating the presentation.  

Thomas had an excellent handout that accompanied the presentation and many positive comments were made by attendees on how much they appreciated how closely Thomas's presentation followed the handout outline.  Central to the presentation was a discussion of the pros and cons of various Online Data Backup Programs (in the cloud) such as Backblaze, Mozy, Dropbox and Carbonite. 

An organization wouldn't want to become totally dependent on this type presentation for their monthly meetings; however, it is a very effective means of periodically exposing the members to nationally recognized genealogy speakers regardless of their geographic location.  Rather than paying transportation, lodging and an honorarium; the organization only has to pay the honorarium--a big savings!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Del's Genealogy Blog for 21 June 2013

NEW at BillionGraves: FamilySearch Tree Connect!

The following was recently announced by BillionGraves:
Hey BillionGravers,
Now you can connect all those images you upload on the BillionGraves site straight to FamilySearch with just the click of a button!

Simply go to the "Tools" tab on the BillionGraves site, and click "FamilySearch" from the dropdown menu and you can start connecting your family members' records (and any other records for that matter) to their FamilySearch records. You can also attach any record by clicking on "Link to Family Search" on any records page.

To see how it works, watch our introduction video or read more about it on the BillionGraves blog!

This is another way we are making the valuable records you contrubute to those people who need them. By connecting these records straight to their corresponding FamilySearch records, you will be helping people piece together their family stories faster and easier than ever before.

Thanks and happy hunting!
The BillionGraves Team

Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego June Program

This month's meeting of the CGSSD has been moved back a week due to the graduation at UCSD, where the society holds their meetings. The following has been announced as the program for tomorrow:

9:00 - SIG: DNA Genealogy with Corlee Morris
Discussion Group: “Best Practices in using Cloud Genealogy Applications”, moderator TBA
10:00 - Break
10:20 - Announcements followed by program: Backing Up Your Genealogy Data - Live Webinar by Thomas MacEntee
Apparently Thomas had a potential conflict that would have prevented him from giving the Webinar, so I volunteered to be the back-up speaker in case he could not make it.  I scrambled around the last few days and put together a Case Study on my O'Malley Brick Wall; but found out about     1 that Thomas would be available.  Actually, I became much better organized in attacking my "brick wall" by putting the presentation together. I look forward to being able to do the presentation at a later time. 

Winning the Mocavo 2012 Mother's Day Contest
In 2012 Mocavo held a writing contest and the winner was awarded a two day trip to Boston and a consultation with their Chief Genealogist, Michael LeClerc.  Michael had only recently joined Mocavo, moving from the New England Historic Genealogical Society as their Chief Genealogist.  To win I wrote, in 1000 words or less, an essay about a woman who had played an important role in my life.  I wrote about my maternal grandmother, Mary (O'Malley) Dean.  Following the initial submission of essays, Mocavo selected about five as finalists.  The winner was then to be determined by votes by the public, with a limit on one vote per day per person.  The contest ran about five days as I recall.
I sent notices to almost everyone in my e-mail contact list encouraging them to vote and also called upon fellow members of the two Genealogical Societies in San Diego where I was a member.  I was in the lead most of the way; but the final day another competitor took a huge jump and I went to bed the final night believing I had been defeated.  However, a couple days later I was notified by Mocavo that I was the winner!  Apparently, some of the voting for the other competitor wasn't in accordance with the rules.  Anyhow, I was delighted; especially because I had planned to take my grandson to Annapolis the following month to attend a Water Polo Camp at the Naval Academy.  Mocavo was very quick to send me a check for my airfare and making reservations in Boston at the Parker House Hotel for two nights.  Thus, we flew to Baltimore, I dropped off Ryan the next day at Annapolis and headed for the Scranton area to do a couple days research and then on to Boston where I was to meet with Michael at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.  Following are some of the photos that I took in the Boston and Philadelphia area.  When I headed back to Annapolis, I stopped and spent a day doing research at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. 
New England Historic Genealogical Society

Michael and I

I was pleasantly surprised that Michael essentially spent the entire day with me, advising me on how to work on the "Brick Wall" problem that I outlined to him.  He even took me to lunch.  It was a most enjoyable day.  I can't say that I have broken through the "Brick Wall"; but it is a tough one and he gave me some very sound advice.  

Adjacent is the Old State House, the site of the Boston Massacre.  Fortunately many of the historic sites of Boston as well as the New England Historic Genealogical Society building, were within easy walking distance of my hotel.  I was only about a block from the Boston Common.                                                              

                                              Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Re-examining My Heritage Family Tree Builder Record Matches

On May 22nd I wrote about the new MyHeritage features, one being Record Matches.  The program used the information in your family tree and searches their various collections of documents to find potential matches.  In my case there were matches in 10 different collections: Find a Grave, Social Security Death Index, Newspaper Archives, WikiTree, 1880, 1900 and 1930 Census, Texas Births 1926-1995, and California Deaths 1940-97.

Today I examined the matches more closely and made a few  observations.  The matches are rated by degree of confidence from 5 star on down.  There is a filter that you can set depending on the degree of confidence you want.  I had set mine to 4 stars or higher.In both the Find a Grave (56) and SS Death Index (50) the matches were all 5 star and in looking them over fairly closely, I considered all of them as valid matches with the people in my tree.  Ironically, in the Newspaper Archives (108) all of the 108 matches were for two people, both of whom lived in small towns and were, obviously, very active in the local community.  The matches were about equally divided between 5 and 4 star and all appeared to be valid.   Unfortunately, they were very distant relatives so the information wasn't of much help to me.  I did note that when I set the filter at the lowest level, 1 star, there were 5092 matches in 67 collections--so they have many more collections than just the 10 that appeared when I set the filter at 4 star and above.

Filter Options

I estimate that almost all of the over 400 record matches in the 10 collections were valid--probably because I had the filter set so high; but still an amazing accomplishment when you really think of it!

I changed the filter to 3 star and above and took another look at the Newspaper Archive.  The articles increased from 108 to 991.  Ironically, as I scanned through I noticed a lot more people were included and suddenly I noticed an article about my uncle, however when I began reading it, the article was a write up about the 1st baseball game I pitched for the University of Colorado, when I was a sophomore.  I had never seen the article before and particularly enjoy it, as it pointed out I pitched 6 1/3 innings of scoreless relief against the University of Missouri.  Unfortunately, when I took over we were behind 3-0 and ended up loosing 3-2.  This find was a pleasant surprise, even if it wasn't a correct match!

The program is very similar to most searches that do matching, they provide side-by-side windows with your tree person's data and their search's matching data.  Any data that is new to that in your tree is highlighted in green as either "New" or "Improved".  You then can click on the arrow between the boxes beside the highlighted data and have it added to your data.   Obviously, if you don't want the data added you simply move on to the examine the next match.  

In moving from collection to collection, you go to the top of the page and click on "Record Matches by Collection" and then click on any of the collections you want to work on next.  

I continue to be very impressed with the new features they have incorporated into MyHeritage Family Tree Builder.  You might want to check it out.

Note:  I have no affiliation with MyHeritage and receive no compensation from them.  The opinions are totally mine.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

German Research

This afternoon I attended a meeting of our German Interest Group (GIG) which is a subset of the San Diego Genealogical Society (SDGS).  We began discussing research in general and two potentially fruitful research areas were mentioned: Church Records of U.S. German Churches and U.S. German Language newspapers.  Like the other ethnic groups such as the Italians, Irish and Scandinavians; the German communities in America often had their own churches and newspapers.  It your German ancestors lived in one of these communities, then it is definitely worth the effort to research German church and newspaper archives.  

Totally in tune with the electronic world of today, members of the group were immediately on their smartphones, iPads, laptops and other devices pulling up record sources.  One that seems worthy of mention is Roger P. Minert's 14 Volumes of U. S. German Church Records.  Unfortunately the volumes don't cover all of the U.S.; but certainly the areas with the greatest concentration of German immigrants.  My interest is Indianapolis, Indiana for researching Joanne's gggrandfather, Frederic Schmidt; and Volume 1 of Minert's work covers Indiana Protestants, which should cover them.  In the back of my mind, however, I think I have checked this book and was disappointed that they didn't have many Indianapolis churches.  I will check my Research Log (which isn't always complete) to see. I looked up the book in "World Cat" and the closest library listed with a copy of the book was in St. Louis,  I am hopeful one of the local genealogical libraries (such as SDGS), which normally wouldn't be in "World Cat", has the book. 

When we began exploring  German Language Newspapers in the U.S. and found a web site for the German North American Resources Partnership.  The site stated that current online editions can be found at the Internet Public Library website   Unfortunately, when I went to that website and clicked on the hyperlinks for three different states: Indiana, New York and Pennsylvania;  I ended up with a blank page.  

Another source we came up with by doing a Google search was, "German -American Newspapers & Periodicals, 1732-1955--History and Bibliography".  This is a book that is out of production but both University of California San Diego and San Diego State University libraries have copies.   Hopefully, that book would give me some insight into specific Indianapolis German newspapers, by title, that might exist.  

Our hope that we might find an online Index of either German Language newspapers or German American Churches wasn't fulfilled; but we did identify a couple sources worthy of further research.  Just another case where online resources can help identify sources of genealogical data; but one still has to obtain the book or visit a library to do the actual research.  


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

War of 1812 Pension Application Index

I was checking out the listing of new records on today and at the top of the list was "War of 1812 Pension Application Files Index, 1812-1815".  I know of one Ritchhart that was in the War of 1812, so went to the search template and just typed in Ritchhart for last name and did a search.  The name of John Ritchhart came up and I have a ggggrandfather John Ritchhart who was born in 1780, moved to Ross County, Ohio with his parents and siblings around 1797 and died in 1829 in Ross County.  Since he would have been 32 in 1812, I figure he could well be the person listed in the Pension Index.  I retrieved a copy of the document; but all it listed was his name, service number and unit (U.S. Dragoons).  

War of 1812 Pension Application
I did a little research on the dragoons and learned they were a relatively small cavalry unit.  I did pull up a couple photos as shown below.

The following description of the data base was provided by 
Ancestry: " . . . . . The application files indexed in this collection relate to claims of military service between 1812 and 1815. Most of the applications were filed as a result of acts instated in 1871 and 1878 (read more below). These acts made it possible for veterans and their survivors to receive pensions based on service alone. Earlier acts provided pensions only for service related deaths or disabilities.
This index consists of the fronts of the envelopes containing the actual pension applications. These envelopes are arranged alphabetically according to surname of applicant. The amount of information shown on the front of the envelope varies. However, the following information is generally provided:
  • Name of veteran
  • Name of widow, if she applied
  • Pension claim or file number(s)
  • Service type or organization"
I am going to have to do some additional research to confirm this is my John Ritchhart and to see if their is any more information in the record.  However, because there were relatively few Ritchharts at that time, I think it is my ancestor, John.  Since he died in 1829, a surviving relative would have had to apply for the pension, because the pension apparently weren't enacted until 1871 and 1878.

If you have any ancestors who might have been in the War of 1812, I encourage you to go the the site, locate that database in the "New Records on" and do a search.  

I am also going to do some more research on the Dragoons, as I might find index listings of the members of their units.  

In examining to see if I might have ancestors from other lines of the family who might have been of an age to be in the war, I find that most of them were born in the late 1790s or early 1800s and would probably have been too young.   

Interestingly, John's brother, Jacob, is listed in as the Captain of a Company from Ross County, Ohio in the War of 1812 in a document published in Ross County.  However, I can't find his name in this data base.  I do find a Jacob Richard from Virginia, which is where the family moved from when they moved to Ross County.  He might not have had any surviving ancestors who applied for the pension.  More checking I can do.  This one little discovery has certainly generated a lot of work for me to do!