Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Civil War Search Engine Idiosyncrasies--Be Careful!

Civil War Search Engine Idiosyncrasies--Be Careful!

The National Park Service has a "Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Data Base" that can be accessed by clicking on the following link:  You then click on the "Soldiers" photo shown in yellow below.


That then takes you to the "Search" Template.  I used this web site to find the record for Spear Dean, who I discussed in my blog of 16 September which can be accessed by clicking here.

It is interesting to note that there is only one search mode.  There is no "advanced search" or choice to do an "Exact" or "Soundex" search.  Also, notice that I have highlighted in yellow above information about how you can obtain copies of the full service records. 

I was searching for my gggrandfather, Wesley Ritchhart and entered his name spelled just that way.  I got no results; but knew he was in the Civil War.  I then entered Wesley Ritchart and still didn't find him, so I entered Wesley Richhart and got the following response:

Note that his alternate name was listed as Wesley Richheart.  I am not sure what the alternate represents; but the search engine doesn't appear to be using soundex.  As I was doing the searches I noticed that Ira Richhart came up for both Richhart and Ritchhart and Samuel came up for both Ritchart and Ritchhart so the engine must include some spelling variants; but they didn't seem to work for my Wesley.

Ira Richhart

Ira Ritchhart and Samuel B. Ritchhart

Samuel B. Ritchart

I think the lesson here is that you really have to understand and test the search engine before you give up too early and assume the data base doesn't contain your person of interest.  I knew that Wesley was in the Civil War and we all know that spelling of names can be a problem, so I persisted in trying different spellings.  However, it would have been easy to give up after the first two tries.
Dick Eastman Announces Eastern Caribbean
Cruise for December 2014--lots of time to plan!

Dick Eastman's Newsletter contained the following announcement:  

"A new genealogy cruise was announced today and it looks like a good one. I'll be there as one of the presenters. This cruise will start December 7 of 2014, almost 16 months from now. I'd suggest the time to start planning is NOW.

Leaving from Fort Lauderdale, the ports of call include: San Juan, Puerto Rico; Basseterre, St. Kitts; St. Maarten; plus three days at sea (with genealogy presentations all thee days), returning to Fort Lauderdale on December 14. That strikes me as a good balance between genealogy and sightseeing."

I think that may be too close to Christmas for a lot of folks.  But a great time to go to the Caribbean if you live back East!