I Can’t Hardly Wait for the Next Jamboree!

The Southern California Genealogical Society’s 40th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree will be held June 26-28, 2009, at the Burbank Marriott Hotel and Convention Center, Burbank, California. Jamboree has earned a reputation as a well-organized, fun, informative, educational genealogical conference; and the 40th edition will be no different. With Jamboree, you’ll pick from nearly 100 lectures, full exhibit floor, enjoy lots of camaraderie, entertainment and networking – all for a reasonable registration fee. For more information, see www.scgsgenealogy.com or www.genealogyjamboree.blogspot.com.

I will be there, and plan to speak three times during the 3-day event. I will also participate in the son-of-blogger panel discussion, as I did last year. And of course, I’ll be manning an exhibit booth.

See You There!

Database of Emigrants of Falköping, Sweden Online

A new free website dealing with emigrants from Falbygden, Sweden is now available. Emigrant.se contains a list of found emigrants who were born in some of the 52 parishes in Falköping, Sweden (the area is called Falbygden). Most of them immigrated to United States. The published number is 2,505 and the list is growing. The emigrants’ names are published and sorted in the parish where they were born, as well as by birthdate.


A database of the emigrants and the families in the old country and the new are in progress. The number is up in 25,000 individuals. They are in some way related to one or several emigrants or are one themselves.

There is also information about the farms and history of Falköping on the Website. Note that my link is to the English translation of the site. Click on the Swedish flag and you’ll get the site in Swedish.

According to Annelie Jonsson, researchers may also make contributions and ask for a search in the database which isn’t online.

Many thanks to Annelie Jonsson of Falköping, Sweden for alerting me to this site.

British Royal Marines Records Available Online

The service registers of about 110,000 seamen who joined the Royal Marines between 1842 and 1936 are now available to search (free) and download (for a fee) at the British National Archives website.

You may search under:

  • Surname
  • Given name
  • Register number
  • And date of enlistment

The researcher may find the names of ships and shore stations served on, details of conduct, medal entitlement and a lot more.

I searched on the surname, Canfield, and found two documents, both for the same fellow. Clicking on one of the two links, I got the following screen, with enough information that I was able to make a decision as to whether I wanted to go ahead and spend the 3.50 (£) for the document.

New Research Aids Available – Free Online

Mark Tucker (Think Genealogy) does a presentation titled “Navigating Research with the Genealogical Proof Standard.” He has posted the slides (all 84 of them!) online, using Slideshare. Presented and recommended in that lecture are three excellent research forms that Mark has developed. They are as follows:

  • Research Plan
  • Research Log
  • Research Analysis


Mark has these forms, blank as well as examples all filled-in, available for free download at his site. To access the slideshow and the forms, see Mark’s “3 Documents to Improve the Quality of your Research” blog.

Canadian Documents Showing Aboriginal Persons Needed

John Reid (Anglo-Celtic Connections) is reporting this morning that Janice Nickerson is needing documents for an upcoming book – and she’s willing to pay for them. The deadline is January 25. Janice is looking for:

“A copy of a Civil Registration, Will or Estate Record, Newspaper item, School Record, Land and Property record, Notarial record from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, in which an Aboriginal person is featured.”

For more information, see John’s blog.

Did Your Ancestor See Chimney Rock?

Chimney Rock is one of those Oregon Trail landmarks that can’t be missed if you’re anywhere nearby. The landmark even found its way onto the Nebraska-themed quarter minted in 2006.


The rock has been a landmark for travelers for nearly two centuries. About half a million pioneers passed by it on their way west between 1812 and 1866, and it is considered the most famous landmark along the Oregon-California Trail. It rises roughly 325 feet above the valley floor, with a trademark spire of 120 feet.

Chimney Rock was designated a National Historic Site on Aug. 9, 1956, and is maintained and operated by the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Built in 1994, the center is operated by the Nebraska State Historical Society and is also known as the Ethel and Christopher J. Abbott Visitor Center. It is about 1.5 miles south of Highway 92 on Chimney Rock Road.

The center offers a close-up look at the nearby formation. Exhibits explain how the rock was formed and offer visitors an opportunity to touch a stone collected from the base of the formation. They feature diary entries from pioneer travelers, numerous sketches, a time line of the overland migration, museum pieces and a gift shop with a collection of books about the site. An auditorium offers visitors the chance to see a 15-minute film about its role in America’s history.

Read the full article by Steve Frederick in the January 7, 2009 edition of the North Platte Telegraph.

Bavaria Series Complete for Map Guide to German Parish Registers

It took us about a year, but the entire ten volumes covering Bavaria were recently completed by Family Roots Publishing.


Written by Kevan Hansen, and edited by Patty Meitzler, the German Map Guide series now has 23 volumes in print. The series is meant to do the following:

  • Identify the parish where an ancestor worshipped based on where they lived.
  • Give the Family History Library microfilm number for the family’s parish records – allowing you to often view the Parish Registers that include the vital records of your ancestors at a Family History Center near you!
  • Identify nearly every city, town, and place that included residents.
  • Visually identify church parishes for Lutherans & Catholics in each district.
  • Identify adjoining parishes in case an ancestor attended an alternate parish.
  • Aid in area searches, particularly across district or regional borders.
  • Provide visual identification of search areas in which to look for a family.
  • Help in determining proximity of one area to another.
  • Aid in determining reasonable distances of travel from one area to another.
  • Identify population centers in each parish.
  • Identify archives, repositories, and other resources.
  • Aid in identification of the location of minority religions.

Volume 23, which was published in December, is an index to the Bavarian places found in volumes 13 through 22, as well as a Bavarian Gazetteer.

The Guides are published in library-quality hard-back binding, as well as soft-cover editions. Click on the links to learn more or order online. Visa and Mastercard are accepted at the site. Libraries my also order by purchase order only.

Mayview State Hospital in Allegheny County, PA, to Close

Why am I blogging the close of a state hospital in a genealogy-related blog? Because thousands of our relatives were born, lived and died at this facility. The Mayview State Hospital started in the 1893, known as Marshalsea, aptly named for for the famous London debtors prison. The 80 buildings on 335 acres in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania was preceded by Pittsburgh’s almshouse, on the same property. The poor, the orphaned, the unwed & pregnant, the tubercular, the insane, mentally retarded and others lived here on the banks of the Monongahela.

They kept records at Mayville that recorded the life events of patients who lived and died there. Where will the records go? Hopefully to the State Archives in Harrisburg.

Joe Fahy wrote a fascinating article for the December 28, 2008 Pittsburgh Gazette about the history and the closing of the facility. You might want to check it out.

Village Records Fade a Bit More Each Day

Millions of village and town records nationwide beg to be preserved. However, in many, if not most, cases there is little chance that those records will be saved. The costs are high, and even if there are those who care, there often isn’t funding for such things. Following is an excerpt from an article dealing with the Coal City, Illinois village records:

Municipal documents, some dating back to the village’s formation, sit on a shelf at the village hall. Each year the pages of the leather-bound books yellow a bit more and the ink fades a shade lighter.

“This is our history and it needs to be preserved,” said Village Clerk Pam Noffsinger, who has asked the Board of Trustees to consider budgeting funds to restore the documents.

There are about a dozen books containing the handwritten minutes of village board meetings, birth records and police magistrate documents from as far back as 1881.

Noffsinger’s afraid that if the documents continue to be ignored, they won’t be around for future generations.

“I understand it’s an expensive process, but these are our village records and unless we stop this, it will only get worse,” the clerk told trustees.

A records preservation service has estimated the restoration cost at a little more than $9,800.

Read the full article by Ann Gill in the December 30, 2008 Coal City Courant.

Your Birthday is Now January 1 – even if you were born in August

It seems that numerous refugees, from countries where celebrating birthdays isn’t customary, end up with January 1 as a birthday when resettling in the United States. Following is an excerpt from an article by Sherri Williams that was published in in the Columbus Dispatch – on January 1, of course.

About 6,000 refugees who resettled in the United States in the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 were assigned a Jan. 1 birthday, according to the U.S. State Department. That includes 54 in Ohio.

About 80 percent of the nearly 5,000 refugees resettled in Columbus by Community Refugee Immigration Services in the past five years have Jan. 1 as their birthday, said Angie Plummer, the agency’s director.

That can cause problems, said Ahmed Kamil, a caseworker at the agency. “It happens sometimes that people share the same date of birth and the same name. There are a lot of Abdis, Ahmeds and Hassans.”

Read the full article in the Columbus Dispatch.

Maine Adoptees Now Have Access to Their “Real” Birth Records

Last Friday (January 2, 2009), a new law passed in Maine went into effect. The new law allows adoptees the right to copies of their original birth records – complete with the names of their parents. Maine’s new law includes a protection for birth parents by allowing them to state that they do not wish to be contacted by the child. But at the very least, this gives adoptees enough information that they should be able to construct their family history, with or without the birth parents’ help.

So, as you can imagine, a good sized group of folks lined up at Maine’s Vital Records Office in Augusta, on Friday – all there to obtain records that were not legally obtainable for the last half-century.

New Hampshire adopted a similar law a short time ago, so it looks like New England is leading the way when it comes to adoptees rights.

For more information, read Glenn Adams AP article in the January 3, 2009 edition of Nashua Telegraph.

The Annual Town Census in Massachusetts

Although I faintly remember hearing something about the annual town censuses in Massachusetts, it wasn’t until I was playing with Google today that it was brought to my attention again. I ran across an article in the Providence Journal that detailed the Rehoboth Census Form for 2009.

It seems that every household in town gets one of these annual census forms that must be filled out and returned to the town. The census is conducted as of the first of January under the auspices of the Board of Registrars. In addition to the name, address, date of birth, occupation, veteran status and number of dogs, the form includes a section for school information required by the school department. I could not tell from the article whether every person in the household is listed by name or not, but I’m assuming they are.

There is a separate application for dog licenses enclosed with census form. I wonder if the dogs’ names get recorded? Now that could make for some interesting genealogical/historical data 100 years from now…

It seems that the data collected is used for a number of things, including:

  • State college entrance applications
  • Veterans’ benefits
  • Amending and establishing birth records
  • Locating missing persons
  • Establishing precinct lines
  • Predicting future school enrollment
  • State and federal funding to the town
  • Police and fire protection
  • Updating the voting list and other legal purposes.

After running across the article in the Providence Journal, I googled for more articles dealing with other Massachusetts towns, and sure enough, there were all kinds of them.

My question is this – What happens to these town census records? Are the statistics recorded and then the originals destroyed? Are there laws that effect how the original census records are dealt with? I’m sure there are. Comments from folks acquainted with these records would be appreciated.

The WPA in Minnesota

Did your ancestor work for the WPA (Works Progress Administration) during the great depression? Mine certainly did. My own father, Theodore Canfield Meitzler, worked for the WPA in Oregon for at least a short period. I remember hearing him talk about it as a child. With Congress and President-elect Obama seriously considering a massive economic stimulus package which is meant to employ Americans, looking back at the WPA era seems reasonable. Iric Nathanson has an article at MinnPost.com dealing with the WPA era in Minnesota. It’s a good read.

Following is a short excerpt:

The image has become part of American political iconography. It shows a man in a slouch hat leaning against his shovel. He is earning a few dollars a day during the 1930s working for the Roosevelt administration’s WPA — the Works Progress Administration.

To its conservative critics, the WPA was just another big government boondoggle. But to its supporters, this federal jobs initiative brought a modest weekly income and self-respect to millions of out-of-work Americans who were the chief victims of the Great Depression.

A centerpiece of the Roosevelt administration’s “second New Deal,’ the WPA was enacted in April 1935 as a replacement for direct federal relief — known as “the dole” — that was considered demeaning and demoralizing for its recipients.

Read the full article, “The WPA in Minnesota: economic stimulus during the Great Depression,” by Iric Nathanson, in the January 7, 2009 edition of MinnPost.com.

Our First Native American Ancestors Arrived as Two Migrations

According to new genetic evidence, it seems that the majority of the population of the Americas came into North America 15 to 17 thousand years ago, via Beringia – that being the landmass connecting Siberia and North America during the last ice age. One group migrated down the Pacific coastline, while another came in to an ice-free area just east of the Rocky Mountains. 

That being said, if you have Native American ancestry, you can pretty-well figure that your 60th great-grandparents were pioneers. Pretty interesting stuff.. Following is one of several press releases that brought this to my attention:

Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation and University of Pavia Study Reveals First Wave of Humans Migrating into Americas Likely Brought Along Linguistic and Cultural Diversity

America’s Earliest Ice Age People Included Diverse Genetic Groups Traveling Widely Separated Migratory Paths During the Same Time Period, According to Study by International Team of Scientists Featured on Next Week’s Cover of Current Biology. Molecular Geneticists Found Distinct Distribution and Migration Patterns by Analyzing in Depth for the First Time the Complete Genomes of Two Extremely Rare Native American Maternal DNA Groups.

SALT LAKE CITY and PAVIA, Italy (Jan. 8, 2009)—Genetic researchers from the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) in Salt Lake City working with scientists from the University of Pavia in Italy today published a study shedding new light on the puzzling question of why Native Americans exhibited such extraordinary linguistic and cultural diversity when the first Europeans arrived in 1492.

Featured on the cover of Current Biology journal, the striking finding by an international team of researchers challenges the traditional idea that the first groups of humans to colonize the Americas came from a single population source, which would imply one language family, technology and culture, when they crossed an Ice Age land bridge connected to Asia 15-17,000 years ago.

By analyzing for the first time at the highest level of molecular resolution two rare lineages of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from modern Native Americans, geneticists identified separate migratory paths that marked the initial stages of human colonization. Traveling concurrently, one genetic group of Paleo-Indians followed the Pacific coastline route and arrived at the southern tip of South America, while the second group followed an ice-free corridor east of the Rocky Mountains and settled in the Great Plains and Great Lakes regions.

The evidence that separate groups of people with distinctive genetic roots entered the Americas independently at the same time strongly implies linguistic and cultural differences between them. “The origin of the first Americans is very controversial to archaeologists and even more so to linguists,” said study corresponding author Professor Antonio Torroni, heading the University of Pavia group. “Our genetic study reveals a scenario in which more than one language family could have arrived in the Americas with the earliest Paleo-Indians.” Torroni is a world-renowned population geneticist in the field of mtDNA research and the first to identify the major genetic groups to which 95 percent of Native Americans belong.

In March 2008, the same research team published a study that was the first to compile all known Native American mtDNA sequences into a single genetic tree with branches dated. Results showed almost all modern Native Americans descended from six ancestral founding mothers. They used the built-in molecular clock of DNA to establish the time the first humans moved into the Western Hemisphere, finding a narrow window between 15-17,000 years ago.

For both studies researchers combed the Sorenson database—the world’s largest collection of correlated genetic genealogy information containing DNA collected in more than 170 countries—for mtDNA belonging to Native American lineages. Then, using techniques developed at the University of Pavia, the samples were analyzed using a complete-mtDNA genome approach for the first time.

“Six major genetic lineages account for 95 percent of Native American mtDNA and are distributed everywhere in the Americas,” said first author Ugo Perego, director of operations at SMGF. “So we chose to analyze two rare genetic groups and eliminate that ‘statistical background noise.’ In this way, we found patterns that correspond to two separate migration routes.”

Today’s study analyzed two rare genetic groups. D4h3 spread into the Americas along the Pacific coast and, at the same time, X2a migrated inland through an ice-free corridor between the Cordilleran and the Laurentide glaciers. The D4h3 group is rare today in North America, while X2a is found exclusively in the U.S. and Canada, mainly in the Great Lakes and Great Plains regions. The six most common Native American mtDNA lineages are A2, B2, C1b, C1c, C1d and D1.

“This study does not end the debate,” said co-author Dr. Alessandro Achilli, researcher at the University of Pavia and assistant professor at the University of Perugia, “but the implications of our findings are significant. The distinct industries and technologies observed in North American archeological sites might be related to separate genetic groups using different migratory routes rather than being the result of in situ differentiation. Future research will dissect common pan-American lineages into sub-branches, and we do expect distribution of some of these subgroups will parallel that of D4h3 and X2a.”

The study, “Distinctive Paleo-Indian Migration Routes from Beringia Marked by Two Rare MtDNA Haplogroups,” was published online today by Current Biology and will be the cover story for the print version on Jan. 13, 2009.

About Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation

The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF; www.smgf.org) is a non-profit research organization that has created the world’s largest repository of correlated genetic and genealogical information. The free, publicly available SMGF database currently contains information about more than seven million ancestors through linked DNA samples and pedigree charts from more than 170 countries, or approximately 90 percent of the nations of the world. The foundation’s purpose is to foster a greater sense of identity, connection and belonging among all people by showing how closely we are connected as members of a single human family. 

From Jacob Moon, Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation Public Relations