Friday, December 30, 2005

Gmail Manager

Earlier this year Kindred Matters posted about a Firefox extension called ScrapBook, which allows users to save bits of text, images or entire webpages to their hard drive.

Now there's another great Firefox extension: Gmail Manager. If you have multiple Gmail accounts for different mailing lists, interests, eBay, etc., you should find this add-on extremely useful.


Translations as you type is the site I use the most to translate German to English, but AJAX Translator is more fun to use.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

A new surname...but what is it?

It's funny how one can set out to research a particular family, find a few records and walk away with little on that family, but all kinds of info on a "new" family line. After initially wanting to find as much as possible about the LANKAU family in Halberstadt, it was clear that this was not their home before the 1840s. The good news is that Halberstadt was the home to at least one ancestral family well before 1840 and church records have provided three new surnames.

There would be a fourth "new" surname, but I can't read the surname of Johanne Sophie Justine OEHME's mother, which was listed in Johanne's and David ARNECKE's 1829 marriage record. The name appears to be CAWE, but it could also be LAWE or LACOE. Other apparent instances of the name in the records seem to show it as LAUE, which at the moment I believe to be the most accurate.

I've had someone much better at reading German records take a look and they also are unsure of the actual spelling. It looks like I'll have to track down this woman's burial record by ordering one or two more rolls of microfilm in the upcoming months. (Unfortunately, her baptism and marriage record are not available on FHL microfilm.) Until this gets solved, I'll either hold off on making a page for the surname or temporarily create an "unknown" page.

[, , , ]

World's oldest person

Reuters: Ecuadorean woman, 116, is world's oldest person.


Funny, as always

Genealogue: Government Agency Comes to Genealogist's Rescue and Top Ten New Year's Resolutions for Genealogists.


Wasting time with the census

While looking for an online transcription of an 1850 census at home (without access to Ancestry), I was lucky enough to find what I needed. The results were a little unclear, though, as the ages differed a bit from the 1860 census I had just entered into my database. Never mind that, what caught my eye was a household listed on the same page which had a man, age 90, and woman, age 112. Wow! What are the odds of that? Not very good, as it turns out. The transcription incorrectly attributed the 112 to a girl who was just 12. The mistake was clear after viewing the census image.

A few minutes later while using HeritageQuest, I noticed that the age option in their census search went all the way up to 150. I've been using HQ for a few years and never paid attention to that part of the form, at least how high it went. The funny thing is, it needs to go higher according to some census forms.

For example, the image on the right is from page 183 (1) from the 1870 census of Worcester (4th ward), Worcester County, Massachusetts.


WWI photos

Damn Interesting: Color Photos From the World War I Era.


August N. Rick

Marie D. RICK's 1911 baptism record notes that one of her sponsors was "Augustus N. Rick," but there is no known RICK male by that name. I think we've got a pretty darn good handle on our RICKs in St. Louis (and back in Baden), so this baptism record stands out.

I believe that this may be a reference to Marie's grandfather, who is known as August RICK (Sr.). August was baptized simply as August RICK in 1830, so either Marie's baptism record contains an error or August did indeed have an unknown middle name. Nickolaus?

[, ]

Kindred Matters

Lee is putting Kindred Matters on hiatus. Hopefully the blog does indeed return next summer, if not sooner.


FHL microfilm fees

Dick Eastman is reporting that FHL microfilm fees are increasing in a couple of weeks. It's still one of the cheapest ways to research, but I'd be curious to know why the price hasn't gradually increased over the years rather than instituting a 70% increase.


Can you hear the crickets?

Wow, two posts in the last month. It's a good thing I'm not being paid for this stuff.

Here's the deal. I am constantly messing around with my web template. I'm never happy with a layout because I have no discernible artistic skills. Take a look at CSS Vault and CSS Zen Garden and you'll see some of the stuff I wish I could do. The CSS isn't that big of a challenge. I just cannot create a great looking site or even try to replicate things I see. I know what I'd like to design, but Photoshop is a beast and like I mentioned, I'm not artistic.

In addition to coming up with yet another layout for next month and eventually doing something with the Blogger template, I'm still plowing through the KOCH and WIEDEY church records. I hope to be done with this branch by spring.

I've found a mistake in earlier research and will post that story soon. It's nothing as major as having to unlink or delete a family branch. I screwed up with a record that's interesting in a historical context, but not genealogically.

I've made some progress on a Colonial family and hope to do more with that very shortly.

I've also been working on other assorted German families. One of these days I'll become more focused...

The next few months should yield lots of records to confirm prior research and, hopefully, provide new details.

[, , ]

Monday, December 12, 2005

Obit Humor

How often does an obituary make you laugh? The obituary of Wilma Eckert may not seem funny to most folks, but if you're a Cardinals fan you probably understand the end of the second sentence and depending on your view of the situation it may make you chuckle.

To those unfamiliar with Ray King and the Cardinals, or baseball in general, allow me to provide some background details. King is a lefthanded relief pitcher, a valuable commodity in baseball, especially to a manager like Tony La Russa, who has been known to use -- some might say overuse -- his bullpen. I believe King was generally considered to be an above average reliever. In 2004, after being acquired from the Atlanta Braves in a trade, King had what I thought was a pretty good year on a team that got to the World Series. In 2005, King struggled. It was eventually reported that his father was terminally ill, ultimately passing away late in the season. There's no doubt it was a tough situation for King.

Down the stretch and into the playoffs it became clear that La Russa had lost confidence in King and essentially benched him. King then announced that he wanted to be traded. It seemed that the situation had calmed down, when King was recently traded to the Colorado Rockies for two players the locals don't seem to be all that impressed with.

I didn't care either way what happened to King in 2006. He said he would get in better shape and have a better season. On the other hand, could the team really keep a guy around that didn't see eye-to-eye with the manager and had expressed his desire to be elsewhere?

Anyway, I got a chuckle from the obit, which I found on a message board from the local newspaper. It reminded me of the obituary from earlier this year in which a man wanted his son to criticize what had been going on with the National Hockey League.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

St. Louis County Watchman-Advocate

The Special Collections Department of the St. Louis County Library (1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard) has begun indexing the St. Louis County Watchman-Advocate newspaper.

[, ]


As a joke, my sister bought a Jones Soda Holiday Pack. One by one, each soda -- Brussels Sprout with Prosciutto, Cranberry Sauce, Turkey & Gravy, Wild Herb Stuffing, and Pumpkin Pie -- was passed around the table so that everyone could pour themselves a small sample. This turned into an event that will not be forgotten, both for the distinct tastes and amusement of seeing everyone's reactions.

The cranberry and pumpkin pie sodas were declared the least offensive to our taste buds. Others claimed that the herb stuffing soda was pretty bad, but I thought it hardly had any flavor -- a good thing in this situation. The brussel sprout soda tasted as bad as it look and was, I believe, voted the worst of the lot.

Jones also sells another holiday pack. Broccoli casserole -- could it possibly be any worse than the brussel sprout soda?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Site update. For real this time.

I jumped the gun a bit on the 12th regarding site maintenance and it didn't help that the FTP connection to RootsWeb stopped working. All of the pages are up now. There are a few remaining images to upload, but I'll take care of them this weekend. After that, I'll start getting the overall image situation back on track (more frequent additions).

I will also be making some additional changes to the CSS to accomodate different screen sizes. That was the primary reason for altering the layout a bit. And then I'll try to come up with a new blog template. Nothing spectacular. Just something instead of a stock option.

Those using Internet Explorer to view the site may see some problems with the layout, namely some borders not aligning properly. I just noticed this issue. When I make pages and CSS files I always test them locally with Firefox and IE, and I did not notice this border malfunction. I'll try to take care of it this weekend.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Holtermann and Lodenkamper from Wiedenbrück?

After viewing the January 2, 1839 passenger list of the ship George Washington (Bremen to New Orleans), I am now even more convinced that the area around Wiedenbrück and Wadersloh (Westfalen) was home to our HOLTERMANN and LODENKAMPER ancestors as had once been suggested by a German researcher. The problem was, and still is, that the available church records do not show a match, per the IGI. Although excited to have found this passenger list, I'm still lacking enough clues to start ordering films blindly.

The key detail from the passenger list is that Bernhard HOLTERMANN, age 25, was heading to St. Louis from Wiedenbrück. As I've mentioned before, I've suspected a connection between Bernhard and our Wilhelm Ludwig HOLTERMANN. That Wiedenbrück, rather than something more vague such as "Germany" or "Prussia," was specifically listed is great, but where is the corresponding IGI entry? Were those records not fully indexed or were the HOLTERMANNs in fact from a nearby village? I tend to believe the nearby village angle at the moment.

The family of Ferdinand HOLTERMANN was also on the George Washington in 1839. Their origin was listed as Wadersloh, just south of Wiedenbrück. There is nothing to suggest Ferdinand was related to Wilhelm or Bernhard, but Wilhelm's second son was named Franz Ferdinand and it wouldn't hurt to keep Ferdinand in mind for the future.

Finally, Peter LODENKAMPER and his family, listed as natives of Wiedenbrück heading to Ohio, were on the George Washington as well. There really isn't anything to connect this family to ours in St. Louis, but this is the first LODENKAMPER on a passenger list I've found that mentioned a town name. And my gut feeling has been that Wilhelm HOLTERMANN and Dorothea LODENKAMPER were probably from the same area before immigrating.

[, , ]

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Files and Photos

Kimberly Powell has written a good article about organizing files, something I've spent too much time on this year. It's neccessary, but not exactly something I look forward to because of my past bad habits when creating and saving files. It's getting better now that I sort of have a system (aided immensely with Picasa for scans).

Since making some progress on photos, I'm looking forward to actually using Passage Express to create a distributable project rather than playing around with it. Who am I kidding? I know it will be sometime next year when that happens.

And among today's RSS headlines was an article from about making a digital photo album. Very cool.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Website maintenance

Hopefully, everything will be up and running by this evening.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Your Ancestors' Money

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has an interesting website, including the Showcase of Bills which depicts how American paper money has evolved over time.


Genealogy Audio Programs

I've mentioned Irene Johnson's Relatively Speaking genealogy radio show before. I enjoy it, but I often forget that it's on. When I do remember about the show on a late Sunday afternoon/early evening, I usually have to open up Audacity, hit record and walk away. I'll come back later, save the file (MP3) and then listen later in the week. This is why I like downloadable audio content (podcasts) and RSS. There's no need to be around at a set time or remember anything, except to run iPodder at some point to grab the latest files. What I'm getting at is that I wish Relatively Speaking was a podcast or at least had an online archive. Not only for my benefit, but for everyone. The show is that informative and enjoyable.

While on the subject, I also think The Genealogue should have a podcast, sort of a cross between The Daily Show and Diggnation.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


If you want to see how names of the past have fallen from favor, or how some names have become trendy, check out The Baby Name Wizard: NameVoyager.


Billy the Kid investigation resurrected

MSNBC: Billy the Kid investigation resurrected.

[, ]

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Google Print

The concept of Google Print is great, but their choice to employ opt-out is pretty disturbing.

Washington Times: Reining in Google.

BBC News: Google posts first books online.


Jack the Ripper

The Daily Telegraph: Australia may solve Ripper mystery.

[, ]

Copernicus Archaeologists identify Copernicus’ skull.

"The grave was in bad condition and not all remains were found, Gassowski said, adding that his team will try to find relatives of Copernicus to do more accurate DNA identification."

[, ]

Holtermann, Lodenkamper

I'm going to assume that Ancestry either added new data or corrected some names in the index, because I don't know how references to a passenger list with both HOLTERMANNs and LODENKAMPERs got by me before. But there it was today when I checked — out of desperation and wishful thinking — using the local library's subscription to ALE.

Although the given names don't match up at the moment, I find the reference to Bernard HOLTERMANN worth checking out. A man by that name applied for citizenship with Wilhelm HOLTERMANN on the same day in 1848 in St. Louis, and it appears that both men lived in the same general area and attended the same Catholic church. That LODENKAMPERs, possibly related to Wilhelm's first wife Dorothea LODENKAMPER, also immigrated on the same ship with Bernard HOLTERMANN makes me want to see this passenger list even more.

I haven't seen the microfilm yet because it's at another library, but this is the best lead on these families in a long, long time. These two families are among the few who have eluded me while searching immigration records and for whom I have almost no idea of their hometown in Germany.

[, , ]

Friday, October 28, 2005

PBS programs

From what I saw of the PBS program Cemetery Special, I thought it was OK. My opinion is somewhat skewed, though, because I really, really enjoyed two previous Rick Sebak programs that PBS aired, A Hot Dog Program and The Ice Cream Show, and I may have built the cemetery program up too much in advance. The program is being re-broadcast again this weekend, so I'll have to remember to tape it and watch the entire hour.

On a related note, I found the first two parts of Destination America mildly interesting. I missed parts three and four, but they are also being shown again this weekend.

[, , ]

Thursday, October 27, 2005

German maps

My favorite online site for German maps,, has upgraded their site with a Google Maps-like scrolling feature. Very nice.

[, ]

RootsWeb Mailing List RSS

If anyone else is thinking about switching from mailing list subscriptions to the RSS feeds, forget it. At least for now. RootsWeb says the feeds are an experiment. I got this response after contacting the Help Desk.

I wrote them because I was finding that some list admins didn't know that RSS feeds had been created, some have no clue about RSS, and some are reluctant to add users to the accept list. While the first two reasons are understandable — RSS is still fairly new — I do not get the reluctance of some admins to add users to their accept list. All it does is create more work for them. As far as I'm concerned, they can remain in the dark about RSS. The existence of the feeds doesn't have anything to do with them or the list.

If RootsWeb scraps the RSS feeds, for whatever reason, I'll have to redo my subscriptions. Fun! I'm now wishing they hadn't made the feeds public.

[, ]

Monday, October 24, 2005

Melle to New Melle

Visitors from Melle, Germany, came to the area this week for the dedication of a statue in their sister city of New Melle. The Post has two online articles , so I won't repeat the details.

Among the visitors were Wolfgang Dreuse and his wife. Wolfgang has been compiling information for a book about emigrants from Buer (near Melle) and his website is a valuable tool for researchers with family from the area since the church records are not available from the FHL. I was glad to briefly meet Wolfgang on Saturday.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Top Ten Genealogy Myths

The Genealogue: Top Ten Genealogy Myths.


Blog Change

Maybe. I'm getting fed up with Blogspot not performing well and have started to look at Wordpress.


Do they have these anywhere in America? Never heard of one.


The point of Google Print

Official Google Blog: The point of Google Print.


A Genealogy Intro

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter: A Genealogy Intro.


The Internet is EVIL! (updated)

There's something about people complaining about flawed research on the Internet that bugs me. Every time I read the latest mailing list, newsletter or blog post, I want to reply.

First, let's be clear that I wholeheartedly agree with those that point out the often underwhelming inclusion of citations with online family research. I've complained (mostly privately, until now) that a lack of documentation drives me nuts — if I can find the source of information about my ancestors, eventually I'll get around to getting my own photocopies. But I understand why most people chose not to list sources.

I'm about to send out a modified register report that, straight out of AQ, is 146 pages long — 45 pages of which are citations. There's still plenty to research for this surname, at least in my mind, but this is why I only list a handful of contacts on the website; there are too many citations derived from documents to manage. If anyone asks, I can easily check where the info came from, assuming I'm caught up on data entry and filing. And it's all there to see in the reports I send out privately.

This is different, though, than not knowing the source at all. Even if the source turns out to be inaccurate or comes secondhand, at least know where you found it.

What bugs me about other comments is what I perceive to be a different issue: How the Internet allows bad info to be found easily or spread quickly. I don't understand this line of thought. To me, the Internet makes it easy to share information and find new resources, and any identifiable pitfalls of online research seem to present themselves elsewhere. The Internet itself is not to blame. Poor research can be found in books, family newsletters, articles, vertical files, paid research (Anjou, anyone?) or unpublished private collections, not to mention the mistakes found in vital records and other assorted documents. It's people that are the problem. If anything, the Internet makes it easier to spot the flawed research and it's only going to get easier as more materials are digitized or at least indexed.

It's easy to complain about online family tree or GEDCOM backup sites, but that material would exist whether there was an Internet or not. You wouldn't be able to find it as easily, but the info is waiting for you in a library or with a new cousin. If anything, people should be praising the Internet for its ability to easily collect data, make comparisons and find new leads. (Aren't you baffled at how so many submissions to WorldConnect or FamilySearch can be so different for some individuals?)

Then there are those in the 'real world' that think "if it's online, it can't be trusted." Such thoughts are ridiculous. Wherever information comes from, it needs to be verified. I should question the work of a professional researcher or society, what is found on a state-issued death certificate, or in an obituary. Conversely, others should question my research. If I'm wrong about something, so be it. It's not the end of the world. I'd much rather be the person who can produce quality research while accepting that mistakes are made and corrections are part of the process, than the stubborn one who won't budge on the smallest detail.

The point that should be driven home is that we should stress good research and fact checking habits. It may be an extreme thought, but from personal experience I believe that everyone should take one class before beginning family research: How to Record Sources and Citations. Not learning that up front will cost you valuable time and perhaps add to your costs. And if everyone kept better records of their sources, judging the accuracy of online genealogical data wouldn't be such an issue.

Update (11/11): The news about family history books being scanned and put online came out a while back, but this sort of thing usually takes some time to make its way through mailing lists. In the last few days there have been several "I saw this on another list" kind of messages; the equivalent of forwarding email to dozens of people or sort of how I lazily post links here without writing anything else.

Granted, what I'm annoyed by at the moment is so far just a single message — I'm not going to scour all of RootsWeb's archives looking for supporting evidence to justify my pet peeve — but this is exactly what I wrote about before. To criticize a project over a couple of inferior (in someone's opinion) works and to then take a shot at the Internet...I simply do not understand this thought process.

This bad data or research, especially if it's over ten years old, is going to be found somewhere in the real world. Start complaining about that and lay off of the Internet for a while. It's working just fine for me and many others. Even bad data (different than fake info) can lead to something new and exciting, and groups (e.g., BYU, FHL, ProQuest, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft) that want to make it easier to find new leads for free are OK with me.

If some are disappointed that the Internet is not providing them with entirely accurate info or ready-made genealogies, then kindly tell me where in the real world you are getting that type of assistance because I need to become a member or visit their office ASAP.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sunday, October 16, 2005


A couple of days ago Dick Eastman wrote about HTML genealogy charts and linked to a free template. I liked the idea and have decided to add pedigree charts to the site when I post the next update. I'll be using a chart I made myself, though.

I would have added charts long ago, but I wanted to use PDFs and RootsWeb doesn't allow that file type.


Just What I Need...If I Were More Efficient

Since I don't have a laptop, I typically take scrap paper to the library. I'll sometimes use a notebook or legal pad, but since the paper is going to be recycled after data entry, I find using misprints and extras just as useful for scribbling my notes. (Junk mail and flyers work just as well, as long as there's a decent amount of usable surface area, typically the unused backside of a sheet of paper.)

Now I see that there's electronic reusable paper. This stuff looks really cool, but I can't help thinking of an Etch A Sketch. Random thought: Can you imagine taking the time to write notes on an Etch A Sketch, or hoping it doesn't get shaken and erase your genealogical find before getting home?

So, it looks like all I need is some electronic paper and an electronically charged pencil. Or do I? With so many sheets of normal paper stacked up waiting for data entry, maybe that wouldn't be such a good idea simply because of the cost. Sorry, trees, I'm not sure I could make the switch.

What is intriguing, though, is this text:

"An electronic reusable paper display could be very thin and flexible. A collection of these displays could be bound into an electronic book. With the appropriate electronics stored in the spine of the book, pages could be updated at will to display different content."

Is that application perfect for a genealogy book, or what?


Destination America

KETC, the PBS station in St. Louis, will be airing a four-part series titled Destination America beginning next Wednesday. Each segment is one hour. Parts one and two will air Wednesday, October 19th, and parts three and four will follow a week later on the 26th.

Part 1 — The Golden Door
Wednesday, October 19, 9:00pm
"A four-part exploration of immigration follows migrants as they seek what narrator Blair Brown calls 'the shimmering promise of America' for the same reasons their ancestors did. In Part 1 it's economic opportunity."

Part 2 — The Art of Departure
Wednesday, October 19, 10:00pm
"'The Art of Departure' follows a Taiwanese-born dancer and artists who fled the Soviet Union as they visit their homelands, and recalls conductor Arturo Toscanini's struggle against Italian Fascism in the 1920s and '30s."

Part 3 — The Earth Is the Lord's
Wednesday, October 26, 9:00pm
"'The Earth Is the Lord's,' explores religious freedom from the points of view of Mennonites, Tibetan Buddhists and Hasidic Jews."

Part 4 — Breaking Free: A Women's Journey
Wednesday, October 26, 10:00pm
"'Breaking Free: A Woman's Journey' explores reasons why women have sought refuge and opportunity in the U.S. Included: a Guatemalan fleeing domestic abuse who has requested asylum."

[, ]

St. Louis Public Library

The St. Louis Public Library has redesigned their website. While it looks very attractive, I wish they would once and for all fix their navigation issues. I always had trouble finding my way around their old website and now some of the old pages are not listed in the menu. Well, I'll give them a break on this since it looks like some pages have yet to be updated.

I'm also not fond of the script that gives the impression of an IFRAME. Such a script has its place, but to use it on every single page is overkill and does not add to the ease of use.

This library has a large history section and the second-best microfilm collection in the area. Now that they're getting a slick-looking site, maybe they'll beef up the content, too. (See County Library.)

[, ]

RSS for RootsWeb Mailing Lists

So far, so good on moving to RSS and Bloglines to keep track of RootsWeb mailing lists. As previously mentioned, though, I thought a problem might arise if I needed to post a comment or question to a list which I was no longer subscribed to. (Unsubscribing from the lists was necessary so that I wouldn't receive emails of the same messages I was getting with the RSS feeds.)

Drew Smith of The Genealogy Guys podcast saw my blog entry and left a comment. He later emailed and explained about the "accept list" that each list admin controls. Bingo! This is the solution.

I still have several list admins to contact to have my email address cleared for future messages, but my first test of the accept list will be tomorrow. Thanks again, Drew!

[, , , ]

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Monday, October 10, 2005

MO Deaths

It turns out that the Missouri State Archives' project to electronically index and digitize death certificates won't be online for a bit longer, but the progress being made is still remarkable.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Results from Bockhorst

Despite the disappointing appearance of film 473561 (baptism and deaths, 1820-1865), a quick review of the records shows that I may end up with more details than expected. I now have slightly higher expectations for the records I did not have time to glance at. The Bockhorst records are still proving to be some of the more difficult I've dealt with, for a number of reasons, but in the end the GEINER and WIEDEY notes should be respectable.

[, , , ]

Film Review: Bockhorst Lutheran Church Records

This reel of film is easily the worst of the latest batch and perhaps the poorest quality FHL film to date. Slight blurriness and the overall darkness of the film is probably going to cause printing difficulties. The film is not impossible to read, so I should at least be able to come away with transcriptions of what is needed.

Title: Kirchenbuch, Evangelische Kirche Bockhorst
Film number: 473561
Film quality: 4/10

[, ]

Results from Borgholzhausen

I had identified three death records of ancestors on film 473590 (deaths 1852-1921) as my goal for this reel of film. Proceeding quicker than anticipated, I scanned nearly the whole reel Saturday morning and found all three; Anna Maria (KOCH) SCHACHT died in 1853, Marie Elsabein (WIEDEY) KOCH died in 1885 and Johann Heinrich KOCH died in 1900.

The 1885 death of Marie Elsabein KOCH and 1900 death of her husband Johann Heinrich stand out to me, particularly the latter event. That I know of, these are the two latest deaths of ancestors that remained in Germany. I didn't give it much thought before, but we know have one ancestor that lived in Germany into the last century. The newness of such a discovery is both interesting and...I don't know. I can't think of how to express it. It's just "new." I guess it's the same kind of feeling after finding a new ancestral location or an unexpected detail. By that time, Johann Heinrich KOCH's son, William, had been in America for over 30 years.

(After now looking over AQ, the deaths of Emil LANKAU's parents may turn out to be later. Those church records are likely going to be unavailable from the FHL, though.)

[, , , ]

Film Review: Borgholzhausen Lutheran Church Records

I'll have to update this entry next week after printing copies, but judging by the appearance of the film it looks like this particular reel will make nice copies. The film is very easy to read, though there are some minor issues with ink blending due to the thickness of pen strokes on small notations.

Update: Copies from this film turned out very nice.

Title: Kirchenbuch, Evangelische Kirche Borgholzhausen
Film number: 473590
Film quality: 9/10

[, ]

Results from Halberstadt

As suspected, the latest order of Sankt Martini Church records did show that the two ARNECKE women that married Karl LANKAU had the same father, so they are at least half-sisters. The name of their mother(s) is a little up in the air at the moment, but because the same surname (OEHME) was listed, it may be an issue with how she was referred to from record to record. The Sankt Martini records are extremely consistent, though, so it may be that David ARNECKE married two OEHME sisters.

The Church records also show that widower David ARNECKE married widow Maria Anna van BORNBERGER (née FRANKE) in 1842. The marriage record states that his parents were Johann Heinrich Wilhelm ARNECKE and Justine RASEHORN of Cattenstedt (southwest of Halberstadt). There is no FHL film for Cattenstedt.

I found the baptism record of who I believe to be the elusive Karl/Carl/Charles LANKAU that immigrated with Emil in 1881; the Karl LANKAU that apparently immigrated at New York, settled in St. Louis, then moved back east to New Jersey. Emil and Karl were in fact half-brothers. The surprise was that Karl's mother was not one of the ARNECKE sisters, but rather a Maria Dorothea BIELERT. So, Emil's father Karl had at least three wives and nine children.

I doubt any additional Halberstadt church records are going to help with the LANKAU family. I'm not sure how to efficiently proceed with finding the family in Magdeburg, even though I am quite curious about that migration. Identifying the correct church in Halberstadt so quickly was a bit of luck.

Johann Christoph OEHME, resident of Kühlinger Straße no. 682, Halberstadt, died in 1850 at the age of 82. I have not translated the notations yet, but I believe this man will end up being the father of Johanna Sophie Justine (OEHME) ARNECKE, Emil LANKAU's maternal grandmother. The key detail is the address (Kühlinger Straße no. 682), which was referenced in several ARNECKE and LANKAU records.

[, , , , , , ]

Film Review: Halberstadt Evangelical Church Records

The latest batch of FHL film finally arrived. As usual, I went to the library ASAP to take a look. I don't know why I do this, but every time new film comes in I always seem to treat that first session as a scouting mission without printing copies, regardless of what I find.

Anyway, this particular film, as well as the previous reel I had ordered, is about as good as it gets. The Sankt Martini Evangelical Church records are legible and make nice printouts (based on my experience with the first reel). The handwriting really stands out; anyone could read at least 80% of the records, if not more. There are some notations in German script, but these are relatively easy to make out, especially with a little help.

The only downside is that the films are based on duplicate copies of the original church records. This is the only film available from the FHL, so they will have to do. But one might worry that details were perhaps lost or confused during the transcription. Despite this minor concern, which may be unfounded, the quality and legibility of the film makes these records, at least these two particular reels, winners.

Title: Kirchenbuchduplikat, Evangelische Kirche Sankt Martini (Halberstadt)
Film number: 1552292, 1552293
Film quality: 10/10

[, ]

Saturday, October 08, 2005

New details about FHL project

About a month ago came the announcement that the FHL was to begin digitizing their film collection. This morning The Genealogue has posted a link to a PDF entitled A Sneak Peak at the Near Future, which provides more details about this project.

[Tag: ]

Backyard Genealogy

Female First: gardening with Kids - Stepping Stones (via The Genealogue).

[Tag: ]

Future of Evolution

MSNBC: Before and After Humans.

[Tag: ]

Genealogy podcast

The Genealogy Guys Podcast is so far my favorite genealogy podcast. The last two shows featured segments you shouldn't miss: an interview with Megan Smolenyak about DNA testing and a discussion about Revolutionary War pension files.

[, ]

Ancestry Library Edition

I'm not sure exactly when it happened here, but Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) has replaced AncestryPlus (AP) as an in-library database. It must have been in the last few weeks. ALE's layout is similar to AP, but I found the usability to be slightly more difficult. Not difficult as in hard to use, but rather that ALE seemed to take longer to get to the data because of the way results were returned. If I searched for a marriage in St. Louis using AP, I knew that the results were only going to show St. Louis and Missouri marriages. With ALE, I get a list of hits that apparently ignores the location and shows me every sub-database that the names show up in. That's great if I had no clue where I was looking, but I do and don't think I should have to scroll through page after page of database hits until finding the relevant ones. This used to work in the past, why doesn't it now?

ALE has another problem that needs to be fixed: the way results are ranked. Actually, this issue goes back to the commercial version of Ancestry and it's former limited counterpart, AP. In many cases I just do not understand how those results are being ranked. It makes no sense to have to go to a second or third page of results to find entries more relevant to my search than some of the preceeding entries.

This search flaw is also obvious in the "My Ancestry" service that Ancestry offers. After entering several names, dates and locations, Ancestry is supposed to periodically send search results by email. Some of the search results are accurate. However, there are also results that clearly ignore the parameters of my search. These emails are now almost comical. I have not unsubscribed, though. I suppose I'm like everyone else that is willing to put up with the nonsense, hoping one day something new and useful might show up. At least it's free.

There is good news, though. Ancestry Library Edition includes Ancestry's Immigration Collection. I may not have raved about this online before, but I love this database. Anything that makes it unneccessary to guess how a surname was spelled in "Germans to America" or at is a winner in my book. AncestryPlus offered some of Immigration Collection, but ALE now has the New York arrivals with scans of the passenger lists. Fantastic.

[Tags: , ]

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Mailing Lists

Hoping to find information about an elusive ancestor on a mailing list is a nice dream, especially if the list covers topics such as a vast geographical area or a common surname. But even if you don't learn anything new about your family, the lists are still helpful for picking up tips about where to find records, etc.

I don't want to miss any new tips, but it's time to start cutting back by unsubscribing from some of the dozens of RootsWeb lists I read. For starters, I'm done with the Prussia-Roots and Bavaria lists. These choices are easy. Prussia-Roots, in particular, has had problems in the past, mostly caused by one person and the list admin's failure to deal with them. (I don't know exactly what could be done, though.) Recently both lists have been spammed with messages about a free service offered by one person. To some it seems that this offer is a gateway, or ad, to future services. I tend to agree, considering that a business URL is always mentioned in the posts. I also consider this thread spam because it has nothing to do with the list as a whole and is being repeated on the Bavaria list.

There is, by the way, a list which would be entirely appropriate for such "discussions," and perhaps this free offer (though RootsWeb does or did have a policy about promoting services).

Last winter I believe these two lists also were home to the barrage of postings about German traditions, recipes, etc. I did see some interesting messages, but there are other lists for such topics (1, 2; I recall a third but can't find the link) and few tried to make their posts relevant to the topic at hand.

I guess the RSS feeds offered by RootsWeb will be a better way to handle this situation. I'm tired of having so many useless emails and the bickering that follows.

[Tags: , ]

Friday, September 30, 2005

RootsWeb RSS

I'm a bit behind on email and the feeds I subscribe to, but I don't recall (or haven't yet seen) the announcement that RootsWeb has added RSS feeds to the archive page of each mailing list. Well, at least the ones I just checked.

I sort of like this idea, but I think it's a little flawed. I would in fact rather deal with those messages through Bloglines, but wouldn't I be getting duplicates every day because there's no way to turn off the email? Of course, I could unsubscribe from each list, but then I couldn't post new messages. Well, I could, but then each list admin's job just got more time consuming as they'd have to approve or forward what I and every other non-subscriber submitted.

I suppose the feeds will put an end to the constant problem of ISPs tagging the mailing lists as spam and people missing messages. Is RootsWeb prepared to educate people about RSS, though? I mean, there are still a fair number that think the mailing list is a newsgroup or can't grasp the concept of gatewayed messages and how to reply.

[Tags: , , ]

It was worth a shot

Well, we can probably kiss the giant pumpkins goodbye. It was so hot and dry this summer that keeping up with the watering was difficult. There were days that the vines seemed to just barely survive. The squirrels, who had ignored the plants all summer, just went nuts a few weeks ago and started to chew up the vines and fruit, apparently realizing that it was a great source of water. (There are no squirrels where the others were planted.) Despite the invasion, it appeared that a handful of pumpkins would survive.

Before heading to Maryland, it cooled off a bit and started to rain. It apparently rained some more while we were gone. It has continued to rain. Whether that caused rot, or insects attacked because the dust and spray was repeatedly washed off, I don't know. We'll be lucky if a single pumpkin here survives for Halloween. I don't even know if any of the regular pumpkins will make it.

At the farm, four giant pumpkins were planted and the vines had really grown. A few weeks ago there were numerous fruits, but last night I found just one remaining. The vines looked horrible, too. I think insect damage out there was the problem. I'm not fond of dusting and spraying to begin with, but next year something will have to be done. The regular-sized pumpkins and late squash are doing OK, but I'd be shocked to see decent results in a few weeks.

While out in Maryland, we were surprised to see so many pumpkins already for sale. We had some volunteer pumpkins come up early this year and after picking they rotted (big surprise in this heat) or were attacked by squirrels. I don't know how the Marylanders plan on keeping their pumpkins in good shape for the next month.

[Tags: ]

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Success in Virginia

Despite my complaints last night, I was able to come home with nearly every BOSWELL and HALL record that was on my list. One will was not where it was supposed to be, though I may have misunderstood about its existence. Had there been more time, I probably would have gone back to the Recorder's office after the library because of the references to additional deeds that were in the vertical files. Maybe if there's another chance to go to Maryland I'll pick those up along the way.

Since coming back I've been taking a preliminary look at the new nephew's maternal Maryland ancestry. Although I can't confirm a lot of the details from here, census records and what others have already researched have allowed me to come up with a decent rough draft. If it's ever desired, this outline should make it easy to compile a more respectable genealogy. I'm told that a lot of the Eastern Shore families have been there since the 1600s.

[Tags: , , , ]


Volunteering to the find obits in the St. Charles Demokrat German newspaper was a good experience, but it just took too long. And I didn't even do that much of the printing. (I did a fair amount of transcribing, though.) It didn't help that I was at the same time dealing with FHL films which obviously held my interest a great deal more, or that I was also looking for other assorted records here and there. I'll admit it: I don't focus very well sometimes. Most of the time.

When the next Society project — finding obits in the Republikaner, another German paper — came along, I should have passed. But I volunteered knowing that only a few years of the paper survive on film. I had in the past looked for a few obits and marriage announcements in the Republikaner, but found little for certain families. The overall picture, as I learned with this project, is that the Republikaner may have been superior to the Demokrat, if only because it was very easy to locate the news items. Who doesn't like finding the local news in the same place in virtually every issue?

The Demokrat obits have been printed, but I think are in the process of being bound. Although I had a great deal of influence with the introduction for that series, I don't know if I'm mentioned by name in the books, or will be when the Republikaner obits go to press. It doesn't matter because ultimately it was a Society project, but it would be neat to have my name listed in something in one of the fine local libraries.

Anyway, the point of this is that if a local researcher has overlooked the Republikaner, give it another look if 1884, 1897 and 1901 are relevant to your search. Here's what I submitted for the next volume's introduction regarding the Republikaner:

"Between the two German newspapers that were once published in St. Charles, it's probably a safe bet that the St. Charles Republikaner does not have the same recognition among researchers as the Demokrat. This is likely due to the limited number of Republikaner issues available on microfilm — from parts of 1884, 1897 and 1901 — whereas microfilm of the Demokrat covers over 60 years. As death notices were found in the Republikaner, though, it became clear that the paper was a valuable source of local announcements. Additionally, the Republikaner was very consistent with the placement of local news and the overall layout of the paper from week to week — helpful to those that may want to search for news items, but are not experts with the German language."

[Tags: , ]

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Self Serve

For the most part I have had few issues with repositories or staff. Before last week I only had minor issues such as:
  • Restrictions that made little sense at the time (and still do). For example, if a state's archives let's people view death certificates as late as the 1940s with no strings attached and offers copies for a dollar or less, why is it that a certain county charges $14 for a copy and will not allow the public to simply view the death register from 1902? I guess what bugged me the most is that the register/ledger format usually seems to have less details than a certificate would. So exactly why am I supposed to pay $14 for a lesser record sight unseen? I didn't need the record. It just would have been nice to have. Not $14 nice, though. I could have probably supplied the correct details for each column on the form without having to look at my notes. The person behind the counter was nice and understood my frustration, but it was out of their control.

  • The National Archives in D.C. makes everyone re-shelve the microfilm that they pull. It's not that I minded, because I didn't, but around here that sort of thing is not allowed and with good reason.

  • Flatbed scanners are not allowed in some places, but no one thinks twice about making photocopies. It can't be an issue with the light exposure then, right?

  • A place that houses public records and charges an entrance fee. Is that even legal when in other counties you just walk in, do you thing and pay for copies? I understand the need for donations and memberships to support an organization and their collection, but if a city's and/or county's material ends up in their control, aren't they obligated to have an open door policy just like if the records were where they should be, at the courthouse?

On the way back from Maryland last week I made sure we stopped to pick up some records in Virginia. It's not like the opportunity to research in Virginia comes along often, so this was something I was looking forward to since the trip was planned. At a Recorder's office I ran into two staffers that couldn't have been more stereotypical had they been trying. I walked into the office and had been there less than ten seconds when I approached the counter to ask where the older records (all before 1835) were kept. One of the two women sitting at desks looked up. The way she looked at me and the tone of her voice distinctly gave me the impression she really could not have cared less or that I was bothering her. Fine. Whatever. It's not brain surgery to lookup records and I didn't need any help once I found the books, but she didn't ask if I had ever been there before and was familiar with their rules or knew how to use the copier, things I've found are usually asked elsewhere.

So I made my way to the back room and found the records I needed; a handful of wills, a deed and a few marriage bonds. There were about a dozen people that afternoon looking up what I assumed were deeds, and a handful of them were constantly making copies. I got in line, made a copy, then went back to get the next record and got back in line. After a while the copier wouldn't work and it appeared that it was out of paper. I went to the front counter to ask for assistance. The lady that had "greeted" me upon my arrival walked out of the room. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she didn't see me approaching (even though I think she did) or that her shift was over (at 3 p.m.?) because she never returned.

The other woman that was present when I arrived was still at her desk, now on the phone. It became obvious within seconds that she was on a personal call, talking about how she had been under the weather and what her plans were for that night. I should have interrupted her, but I didn't. I stood there until she finished her call, at which time she asked me what I needed. I told her the copier might be out of paper because it stopped working. Without getting up, she explained where the supply room was and told me to find whatever size paper I needed and to re-stock the copier myself. If this is normal, it's new to me. Just like materials are not to be re-shelved around here, I wouldn't have dreamed of screwing around with city/county equipment. In fact, I can guarantee that some places here might kick you out for doing so or at least give a little lecture about what is off limits. I walked dumbfounded to the supply room, decided it wasn't worth the hassle and went back to make copies on a different paper size. I was in a hurry and this was already taking longer than I thought it would. A fellow researcher explained that the paper tray might be loose rather than being empty. It was loose.

I finished up my copies and went to the counter to pay. By this time there was a third woman behind the counter. I felt sorry for her because she was the only one there and now six or seven people were anxiously waiting in line. While the guy in front of me screwed around with a form and offered various excuses about why he couldn't do this or that, the clerk asked how many copies I had without counting. As much as the first two clerks had annoyed me, I should have given myself a discount and told her a lower number. I didn't. I paid in full and went down the street to the library where the staff was much more friendly.

[Tag: ]

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Google Blog Search

Blog Search:

Blog Search is Google search technology focused on blogs. Google is a strong believer in the self-publishing phenomenon represented by blogging, and we hope Blog Search will help our users to explore the blogging universe more effectively, and perhaps inspire many to join the revolution themselves. Whether you're looking for Harry Potter reviews, political commentary, summer salad recipes or anything else, Blog Search enables you to find out what people are saying on any subject of your choice.

Your results include all blogs, not just those published through Blogger; our blog index is continually updated, so you'll always get the most accurate and up-to-date results; and you can search not just for blogs written in English, but in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese and other languages as well.

The goal of Blog Search is to include every blog that publishes a site feed (either RSS or Atom). It is not restricted to Blogger blogs, or blogs from any other service.

[Tag: ]

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Heaton, Manock/Menock, Meadowcroft Family Bible

I was just contacted by someone who had found a family bible with the names HEATON, MANOCK (MENOCK) and MEADOWCROFT. The family lived in Philadelphia and England, and the dates range from 1836 to 1902. I have no connection to these families, but if anyone reads this and is, I would be happy to put you in contact with the person who has the bible.

[Tags: , ]

Your Computer Might Be At Risk

XP users tired of seeing the "Your computer might be at risk" warning when booting up should check out the PC World Magazine article 20 Things They Don't Want You to Know. Page nine (on the site) of the article shows how Security Center Can Be Muted. Good riddance!

Too bad TechTV was run into the ground; this is the kind of tip they would have mentioned a few years ago.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

DNA of Giant Deer and the "Hobbit"

National Geographic News:

A huge Ice Age deer with antlers spanning 10 feet (3.5 meters) has been traced to its closest living relative, thanks to DNA science.

Scientists at University College London studied DNA and skeletal remains of the extinct giant deer, or Irish elk, to construct its family tree. This is the first time this method has been used to reveal an extinct animal's living descendants, according to the study team.

The researchers found that the giant deer, which stood seven feet (two meters) tall at the shoulder, is closely related to the modern fallow deer, a much smaller species that still inhabits the former haunts of its Ice Age relative throughout Europe.

The article continues:

Recent technological advances have raised hopes that scientists may be able to pinpoint our own closest relatives in the human family tree.

Researchers are currently trying to extract the DNA of Homo floresiensis, whose remains were found last year on the island of Flores in Indonesia.

Nicknamed "the Hobbit" because of its tiny stature, H. floresiensis is believed to have diverged from modern humans some two million years ago.

[Tags: , ]

FHL to Digitize Microfilm

Wow. This announcement at first left me speechless. Kimberly Powell wrote on's Genealogy Blog that FamilySearch is digitizing their microfilm collection and with the help of volunteers will be creating new online indexes. The Deseret (Utah) Morning News notes that the "indexing demonstration and other planned improvements to the popular Web site are drawing standing-room-only crowds" at the FGS Genealogy Conference. This is a monumental project; there are over two million reels of film to digitize!

Although the project depends on volunteer support and may be several years from completion, this may be the most significant genealogical project ever. It's certainly the biggest thing since I started to research. Some may argue that the creation of the microfilm in the first place was the biggest project. I'm sure it was. This new project, though, depending on how they allow access, opens up the records to everyone that can get online. I'm assuming this means an eventual end to ordering a small batch of film each month. I won't miss that process.

Just like the State of Missouri 's forthcoming death certificate index, I plan on signing up to help with the FamilySearch indexing project and hope others will join in as well. Ideally, individuals will be allowed to choose which records to index. As Kimberly Powell wrote, "It's much more fun to volunteer to index records if you're interested in the records for your own research!" I agree. I would eagerly index names from Pennsylvania will and probate records with the hope of finding our very elusive HEATON ancestors, or German church records that may finally reveal where the last few "unknowns" emigrated from.

[Tag: ]

Friday, September 09, 2005

Post (Part II)

To clarify, it is the headline typeface that the Post is now using that I find odd. The same can be said for the section headers. The typeface used for an article's text is fine. In fact, if I could find the True Type version of Poynter, I'd probably start using it on the blog, my site and in family reports.

And while I find the white space objectionable, I am glad to see that the paper has apparently stopped having obituaries continue from one column to another. In the past that was always a problem when clipping obits. This new policy means that white space on the obit page is likely unavoidable, but I know many people — myself included — would be OK with it there.

Post changes layout

The Post-Dispatch has unveiled their new layout and so far it does not seem to have been well received. The new typeface looks odd, and the large headshots of the columnists are unnecessary and a waste of space. The biggest problem, though, is that there seems to be an awful lot of unused white space that makes the paper look like one of the lesser suburban publications or a certain cheap political rag that plagues St. Charles. We have just one major newspaper in St. Louis and there should be plenty of news for them to print and use up this white space. Those in charge of the layout should take a look at microfilm to see how the old papers looked — they didn't waste space or look goofy.

From their website:

"We’ve grouped local news obituaries and deaths from elsewhere inside the local section. We’ve also redesigned the Funeral Notices making them easier to read."

In the past, St. Charles obits were printed in our own section and generally included more information than what has always been found in the typical St. Louis death/funeral notice as far back as the 1880s or 1890s. I doubt this will be a popular decision. As for the latter decision, people are already complaining that the funeral notices are NOT easier to read.

I know that it's impossible to please everyone. Been there, done that. But if this is the future of newspaper design, I'm glad they publish many of the same articles on their website and offer RSS feeds.

The iPod Family Cemetery

Engadget has published an amusing article about the iPod's family tree and the demise of past models.

[Tag: ]

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Firefox Scrapbooking

Kindred Matters recently wrote about a Firefox extension called Scrapbook that had been recommended to her. I really don't need another way to save notes which I'll probably forget about, but this extension is cool. The ability to save a webpage's formatting of text and images is very useful.

Update: Using Scrapbook to compile a list of books to look at during upcoming visits to the library is working great.

[Tag: ]

Passage Express

Passage Express (PE), formerly known as Family History CD, has apparently been around for a while. I recently heard about the program but hadn't gotten around to trying the free demo. When word got out that the company was looking for beta testers to try out the program's compatibility with Ancestral Quest (AQ), I jumped at the chance.

The primary goal was to test how PE imported AQ files. Although there were some initial problems, the programmer (Jefferson) was quick to address any issues that the group of beta testers brought up. Some AQ files (like mine) were stubborn to cooperate with PE, while other testers reported minor problems or none at all. In a relatively short time, whatever was locking up my import was fixed.

During the time I had trouble with the AQ imports and waited for a resolution, I played around with other features of the program. Manually creating a multimedia project in PE was at first a little difficult, but once I learned the tools the task was easy. I'd have to say that computer novices might be a little intimidated by PE at first, but I would definitely recommend they give the program a chance and stick with it for a while. (Jefferson is currently tweaking the menu layout to make it more user friendly for first timers.) The alternative would likely be much more frustrating; by that I mean using a program like Photoshop to edit photos and create graphics, using [insert favorite program here] to record audio, and [insert favorite program here] to make slide shows. PE does a lot of little things well.

One of my favorite features is the ability to add audio to an image. That audio can then be played when the image is viewed in the final presentation or as part of a slide show. Another great feature is an editor for your project's welcome screen. Not being the artistic type, I found the tools very easy to use and pre-installed templates and graphics a huge help and inspiration for layouts.

Once the AQ import issue was fixed, I tested how PE handled the AQ file and included it as part of a presentation. I was impressed, though because AQ is not as widely used as other genealogical programs (why not, people?!) I don't know how often I'd use such a feature. Those viewing my presentation could install a demo file of AQ, of course, but I don't know how many would be willing to do so.

All in all, I would highly recommend that others looking for a way to bring together their genealogical data, scanned photos, videos, PDFs, and audio at least download and try the Passage Express demo. Passage Express currently works with Legacy, PAF and RootsMagic. If you don't use one of those programs, you could still try the PE demo to create a multimedia project.

[Tag: ]

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Case-sensitive searches for common surnames

The guest on today's Relatively Speaking radio show hosted by Irene Johnson mentioned that AltaVista is better than Google when it comes to case-sensitive searches. Apparently Google ignores how you enter the search term. This is ideal for surnames that are also common words.

That's a great tip, but I don't know that I'll be able to put it to much use. Even if I were to filter out search matches for someone writing about a hall or burger, there are still too many HALLs and BURGERs out there.

I wonder how the THE family deals with Internet searches?

[Tags: , ]

Instant Messenging

Skype: The ability to conference call is great, but it seems like the audio quality suffers a bit when multiple people are involved. There's also a bit of lag at times. Voicemail is only available with a subscription. The VSkype plug-in for webcams is a nice feature. File sharing works well, but can interfere with the your audio quality as it uses up bandwidth.

Gizmo Project: Voicemail is free; files are delivered by email. The hold feature is amusing — choose your favorite awful sound file and annoy the person on hold just like it's a customer service call. Gizmo sounds a little better than Skype, but it seemed like making a connection took a bit longer. We haven't tested the conference call feature yet.

Yahoo! Messenger: Lots of features means you'll need lots of RAM. This program seems like a resource hog, but it's hard to argue with the results. Messenger does instant messenging very well and integrates voice nicely, too. The selection of emoticons is OK. The "audibles" are more fun, though that could wear off. Some will not only like the audibles, but the ability to play games within the IM window. Messenger also has a very nice photo sharing feature and offers the ability to stream a webcam (not yet tested). File sharing works well, too. Voicemail is stored within the program.

Google Talk: It's brand new and lacks many of the features (conference call, voicemail, etc.) other programs offer. The upside is that you barely notice the program when it loads and runs in the background. We haven't played with this yet, but I've read some reviews that claim the audio quality surpasses what the aforementioned programs deliver. I do like that Google Talk is integrated with Gmail and can notify you of new mail.

At this time, I'd say that Yahoo! Messenger offers the most options and works well. You'd better have the system for it, though. If you're looking for simplicity, Gizmo Project or Google Talk would be the way to go. If and when Google starts to upgrade Google Talk, watch out. Chances are they will blow away the rest of the field.

Film Review: Borgholzhausen Lutheran Church Records

It makes sense, I guess, that since Borgholzhausen and Bockhorst were so close, that the records would be similar in format. The good news is that the Borgholzhausen Church records were more detailed than what was found on the Bockhorst reels. The bad news is that there were still instances of being stumped in the mid- and late-18th century. Researching the KOCH name didn't make it very easy to begin with, and the other names (ELLERBECK, FREUNING and GEINER) weren't "cooperating." I'm left with the assumption that some of the families came from elsewhere, or at least attended another area church besides those in Bockhorst and Borgholzhausen, before a certain point.

I would score these reels as a nine out of ten, but there were some sections that looked like I had hurriedly written the records — scary. Had I been looking up every KOCH baptism or marriage in the IGI, I would have had trouble completing the list in one month's time. Overall, though, the records are easy to read and made nice prints.

There are ten reels of Borgholzhausen church records and I'll have to rent at least two more, so another review will be posted when those have been viewed.

Title: Kirchenbuch, Evangelische Kirche Borgholzhausen
Film number: 0473583, 0473588
Film quality: 8/10

[Tags: , , , , ]

Saturday, August 27, 2005

NARA microfilm

Genealogyblog wrote that the National Archives will be raising the price of microfilm to $65 per reel. That's a big increase, sure, but it's still a better deal than what they charge for some of their copy fees. For example, $17.25 for passenger lists, $17.50 for federal census forms, and $37.00 for pension files more than 75 years old.

I can't help with the pension files, but if anyone wants to pay $17 for copies of passenger lists and census forms, by all means contact me.

[Tag: ]

1884 Steamboat Wreckage Visible

The recent lack of rain in the area caused the Missouri River's water level to drop. I don't know if this is the lowest it has been in a while, but media reports about an old steamboat wreck being visible are something I do not recall from the past. KMOV has an article, photo and streaming video. (Their site may or may not require free registration. It did not when I searched for the article, but I went back to check something and got the registration page. Annoying.) Google News seems to show the same AP article used by various media outlets.

I looked at microfilm of the St. Charles Demokrat (German) and The St. Charles Cosmos for an article from 1884. I found one in both papers, but only printed the English version since I didn't feel like translating the story from German.

The St. Charles Cosmos, 25 June 1884, p. 4

If anyone cares, the Demokrat's article was on page three of the June 27th edition.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Local Records Center to Close?

The Post-Dispatch wrote that "the Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted to move the Human Resources Command from Overland" to Fort Knox, Kentucky. If that is the Records Center I'm thinking of, it's time to finally pay them a visit. They may have one file of interest and I'd hate for it to be twelve hours (at least, round trip) away.

[Tag: ]

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Family Trees: Handwritten History

A few hours ago my brother emailed me a link to the MSNBC/Newsweek article Family Trees: Handwritten History. Interesting. Unfortunately, I don't think we have any old family letters. I wonder if the small collection of signatures I've been trying to collect would offer enough of a sample for a graphologist to analyze an ancestor? Here's a few:

[Tags: , , , , ]

Friday, August 19, 2005

Odd Fellows

We went to the Odd Fellows Cemetery near Granite City (Madison County), Illinois, today hoping to find the stone for Jacob HEATON, which according to a published index is the only HEATON stone in the cemetery. I'll have to double-check that book because today, as you can see, we saw that the cemetery was established in 1851 — several years too late to be the final resting place of earlier HEATON and KENSLER family members.

The cemetery is so overgrown and it was so hot and humid that I decided it wasn't wise to venture down any of rows. It would have been very easy to trip over low-sitting or broken markers and who knows how many snakes were out there. When it cools off and the weeds die down, we'll see about finding Jacob's marker.

[Tags: , , ]

Coming to a cemetery near you?

My first reaction to a tombstone that plays a video is, man, that's tacky. Then I kick it around for a moment and think it's not too bad of an idea, but I wonder if it would really be worth it.

Wouldn't it be a better (and more cost effective) idea to make a DVD with a longer, (presumably) higher quality movie or photo slideshow that could be distributed to family members?

Wouldn't these tombstones become a favorite target of vandals?

If this kind of product is going to take off, why not install a small storage device* with a GEDCOM of the deceased's ancestors that could be downloaded by visitors, or other files such as a digital copy of their obituary?

Never mind. My first impression was probably right.

* Update: Lee Anders notes that such a device already exists. Thanks!

"Consider for a moment the ability to visit a cemetery or monument and actually be able to read, see and even hear details about a family member, friend, or famous individual. Imagine having history come to life and be able to take this important information with you."

"The Memory Medallion's Patent Pending process offers a revolutionary way to store, retrieve, and modify information in a remote location. It is a weather resistant, extremely durable stainless steel computer memory device about the size of two stacked quarters, which allows storage of multiple pages of text and digital images in any location without the need for electric current."

[Tag: ]

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Film review: Bockhorst Lutheran Church Records

Thanks to the Bockhorst Church records, the WIEDEY family can be traced back to about 1721. Where the family lived and attended church before that time is a not known, but the records were useful despite most pre-1810 entries lacking the kind of details genealogists hope to find each time they load a reel of film onto a reader.

Some pages were blurry — undoubtedly because of the source material and not the result of poor filming — but overall the Bockhorst Lutheran Church records were easy to read and made nice paper copies. Many of the entries were not written in the German script you would expect to find, so finding names was easier than was believed at the time the film was ordered.

The church in Bockhorst is not that far from the church in Borgholzhausen and there were instances of families migrating between the parishes. Because death/burial records are not indexed, it may even be the case that some family members "missing" from Bockhorst and Borgholzhausen records were buried from another nearby church. Those researching families in this area should be prepared to order multiple films, not only because of the proximity of parishes but because the Bockhorst records are on five different reels of film.

Title: Kirchenbuch, Evangelische Kirche Bockhorst
Film number: 0473560, 0473563, 0473564
Film quality: 8/10

[Tags: , ]