Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Database Evolutions

Many years ago - back in 1987 when we got our first computer - I started seriously working on my genealogy with a program called Genealogy on Display. A friend referred to this program as GOD. It was a pre-Windows program that ran on our Tandy 1000. When we bought this behemoth, it did not even have a hard drive. You ran programs off floppy disks.

When we upgraded that Tandy 1000 with a hard drive and swapped out one of the 5.25" floppy drives for a 3.5" floppy, we thought we were really moving with the times.

Somewhere in there, I upgraded from GOD to Brother's Keeper. It was a great program and I used it for years. I much preferred it to the LDS church's Personal Ancestral File.

Then I found Family Origins and it was wonderful in Windows. I started with version 2 or 3. Like Brother's Keeper, you could link images to each person, but at the time, you could only link one. How limiting. But the program grew more wonderful with each generation until finally it evolved into RootsMagic.

Again, the program got better, but it had issues. For years, I could not print or even display a decent narrative report with footnotes rather than endnotes. At the time I wanted to print out everything on my mom's Zimmeth line.

I was hearing good things about Legacy. One of the things I liked the most was being able to backup your images (not just the links to the images) with the database or without.

I had owned version 7.5 deluxe for years but really wasn't impressed. Version 8.0 deluxe had me. I switched my stuff over there, did some database cleanup. And used it but a few things really were lacking. Most important, I missed being able to find someone by hitting Ctrl-F. I am a keyboard user. I was a medical secretary for 9 years and a library clerk for 10. I used the keyboard whenever I could. It was faster.

Well, after two years of using Legacy 8.0, I am making my way back to RootsMagic, current version 7. I am glad I am doing it, although it's not without its own issues in transferring.

Continue to watch for more on this. I am hoping it ends well.

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Death Certificates - You Never Know What You'll See.

I am working on transcriptions for the state of Missouri Death Certificate project. As my followers know, this is a project near and dear to me.

You see many odd things on these death certificates. Some are nice, some are ridiculous (almost) and some are thoroughly tragic. Nice: the decedent work for the State Historical Society; ridiculous: he was born in Frankenstein, Missouri. Hey, you can't make up this stuff. Tragic: the young man of 35. I always look to see why someone that young dies. Usually it's due to an accident.  Since this death was accidental, I was surprised to see he died in a car due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Apparently this man was trying to keep warm with a camp stove.

The truly sad and tragic, was the death of a young 22 year old man. Cause of death was legal execution. This was also the last gas chamber execution in Missouri. I looked it up here.

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

1965 is Waiting!

It's here! My favorite project of the winter, the 1965 Missouri Death Certificates are ready for transcription. Do you have relatives who lived or died in Missouri?  Are you housebound by the snow, cold or the sniffles? This is the chance you were waiting for, transcribing the death certificates. It is so easy to do.

If you are already a volunteer, you got the notice. If you would like to sign up, go here. This is the one project I will put ahead of my personal projects. I wish more states were like Missouri.

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Relative or Not?

Sometimes you need to be a detective to figure out the census. For instance, in 1920, I cannot find my John J. Ochsenfeld/Ochensfeld/Ochenfeld anywhere. He was probably born in Detroit, although I find no record. He was married the first time in Detroit, Michigan, his children were born in Michigan and in 1910, he is living in Detroit. In the 1919 and 1920 City Directory he is living in Detroit. So where the heck is he in 1920. His first wife died in Detroit in July of 1920. He married his second wife, my mother's aunt Rose, in Detroit in 1921. My mother lived with Rose and John in Detroit. In 1930 he is in Detroit. I guess in 1920, he was abducted by aliens. Along with his whole family.

Then on my dad's side - the Oliphant line, Alexander Oliphant is in Holdenville, Oklahoma in 1910, with his wife and some of his children. In 1920, he is still living in Holdenville with his wife and his three sons, Ralph, Alex and George, all minors, are listed as boarders. What?

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes

Friday, January 22, 2016

Making Sense of the Census.

I started looking at census many, many years ago. And I did it by scrolling through rolls of census microfilm. Mostly, I either copied the film page or transcribed it. And it is by actually scrolling through these pages on microfilm where you see a lot of the mistakes census transcribers make.

For instance, I was on the other day looking for an 1860 census record for Isaac Shelby Kirtley, his wife Susan Anna and those children who were born and survived to be counted. I had the reference for the page and the location and still couldn't find it. Then I remembered a lot of people who index can't really read everything and whomever actually transcribed the information to the census sheet made an error.

I did find him eventually, Shelby Kietley, his wife Anna and those kids. After carefully downloading and saving the image to be linked to his census event, I took the time to correct the transcription. It may help someone else, or me when I go to search for him again for some reason.

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

That Census Mess!

I knew I was going to have an issue with my Kettler line. I just knew it. Sure enough, I have no idea what I was thinking when I linked some of these censuses. After I untangled August Christian Kettler with August Ludwig Kettler (the latter I think also had a twin who died near birth by the name of August Friedrich Kettler) I went to untangle some of the William Kettlers. Actually, it wasn't much of an issue since William Christian Julius was also know as Julius Kettler, and was the son of William Kettler. It is this senior William Kettler who is giving me a headache.

You see, I think he was married more than once. Especially since I find him with two of his children, Julius and Sophia in the 1860 census. Julius was born in 1852 and Sophia in 1854. The problem? The only recorded wife, Regina Wilhelmina Louise Henriette Donnerberg (and variations in the arrangement of her names) weren't married until 1861. For most people, that probably wouldn't be an issue, but I doubt these people had 2 children before they married. The real problem? William appears on that 1860 census with the two children, and Charlotte, born around 1830. William the senior was born in 1828. I think if Regina were their mother, she'd have been enumerated with them. And Charlotte was not one of her multiple names.

Also enumerated with William the senior is 82 year old Mary Kettler. Hmmmm. His grandmother possibly? An aunt? More investigation is in order.

At this point, I have to honor Lucille Francis, who lives in Ohio and is adding biographical info to Find-a-Grave. She is a very special person. Thanks, Lucille!

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It's Happening Again!

As I straighten out the mess I call the census - somehow people came unlinked in these shared facts and I have no idea how - I am finding stuff. Stuff that doesn't pertain to census at all.

For instance, Jane Percival, whom I think is the daughter of Timothy Percival and Louisa Shattuck. She married Henry W. S. Field in 1824 in Boone County, Kentucky, where a lot of my Percivals married. Her age is sketchy in the census. Let's just say she was born between 1798 and 1807. I do believe I found her headstone on Find-a-grave. It gives her age at death, if you can believe it. But no death date. And of course no birth date. So I printed all this out and stuck it ... under my pile of census to fix. Refiling now into the cemetery folder I have. And I have them in 1850 and 1860. The 1850 census says she is 46. Maybe. The 1860 lists her as 52. Um. Probably not! She is gone by 1870, so probably have the correct stone in Missouri. Time will tell.

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes

Monday, January 18, 2016

I'm NOT Talking to You! Or: Yes, I AM Talking to You.

I grew up in a family of six children, five of whom were girls. I can only imagine what it was like for my dad.

In moving through my LONG list of census to fix, I came across this household in the 59th district of Fayette County, Kentucky in 1880:

Arthur DeLong (head) age 28
Etta (wife) age 24 *Real name Henrietta*
Henrietta (daughter) age 2
Henrietta Berkley (mother-in-law) age 53
Sallie Curtley (aunt) age 68.

Are we seeing the problem here?  I never understood the concept of giving a daughter the same name as the mother. It's compounded obviously by the grandmother also being called Henrietta. Arrgh. I'm sure Mr. DeLong referred to her as Mother Berkley and not by her first name, but I am sure there was a lot of confusion anyway.

And poor Aunt Sallie. They spelled her last name wrong. It should be Kirtley.

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes

Friday, January 15, 2016


I've been doing a little census housekeeping recently. Basically making sure all my censuses are sourced. It's a little confusing because I printed out a census list that had missing sources. Some of the ones they say are missing aren't.

One of the people listed was Lucile DeNevers Carter.  She is memorable, to me at least, by the fact that she married a relative of mine by the name of Manville J. Chinn, Jr.

Her 1920 census record was added to my database before I started linking the actual images, so I thought for the heck of it I would look for her and her husband and children on 1920 again. Indeed, she was there not only with her husband and children, but her parents. Her parents were Robert E. and Ida B. Carter. For the heck of it I decided to look for them in my database because I have tons of Carters in Missouri.

That is when the bells went off! I had both her folks in my database, but the age on the census was 8 years younger than their death records. I did indeed have a couple by the name of Robert Ewing Carter and Ida Bell Vivian, both of whom are related to me separately. It took a very careful perusal of Ida's death certificate to see that the informant was Lucile Chinn. Then, after a little more digging I found the Social Security application index record that gave Lucile's parents' names. I love it when things work out like this.

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Where There's a Will ... NOT!

Another of my ancestors died intestate. John Vivion Webb. His elder children were appointed guardians of the minor children in 1854. John V. Webb died in 1855. He was shy of his 58th birthday. I presume that he was incapacitated in some way that he was not able to write a will. It was astounding to me that in the 1855 probate records that his sons, William and John G. and son-in-law Edward Roth, had to post a bond in the amount of Sixty Thousand Dollars.  That would be about 1.5 million today. Almost speechless here.

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Where There's a Will, Part the Second

Reverend Charles Whiting left a will, written in Springfield, Missouri in 1872. In it he names his six boys: Percy Whiting, Charles Whiting, Marcus Whiting, John Whiting, James Whiting and Eugene Whiting; "some of them having middle names which I have neglected to write." Then he mentions his daughter Jennie. What? Actually this must be Virginia Emma, almost always shown as Emma.

This will was written two years before their youngest son was born, Frank Everett Whiting. Maybe Frank didn't make it past the 1880 census, so his father didn't think to change his will?

Reverend Whiting was married to Lucy Mourning Webb, a daughter of John Vivion Webb, another of my great-great-great grandfathers. Lucy outlived her husband by 20 years.  

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Where There's a Will ...

Periodically, I have been known to surf through the Wills and Probate Records has recently added. And we have to admit, that genealogy would be so much easier if all our ancestors had wills.

For instance, my great-great-great grandfather, John Stearns Percival, who died in 1841, died intestate. Granted he was only 48. A young man by current standards, extremely middle-aged by the standards of the time. Young, as his own father died in April of 1841 at the age of 81.

I've long looked for any ancestor who had a will. One of my favorite ancestors, great-great-great grandfather, Alexander Oliphant, surveyor, actually took the time and wrote two wills, one in 1872 and one in 1875. Alexander traveled a lot as a surveyor, so maybe he thought he should provide for his loved ones.

It was curious, therefore, when I discovered his will on He left one third of his estate to his son Ralph, one third to his daughter, Mary G. Maitland nee Oliphant and one third to his grandchildren James and Mary Black, children of his late stepdaughter, Joanna Nesbit.

Nice, huh? His widow is not even mentioned. I hope he assumed their children would provide for her. They did. Both his son and widow refused to qualify as executors and instead recommended Alexander Maitland, son-in-law, for the position, which he accepted. All of this information was record on September 28 1878. I don't know how many times I typed it before I realized the significance of the date. One hundred one years prior to my marriage!

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes

Monday, January 11, 2016

Organization Nut!

Okay, I really do like to be organized, but that pile-o-paper that was on my desk was making me nuts. Or nuttier.

This is how I work. I madly pull all the information I can find from an online database and it sits on the top of the pile on my desk until I add the person/information to my database.  Lately, I've been spending less time on the input than I like. Or I get distracted by seeing what else I can find on the subject of the record. This leads to my Obsessive Compulsive Family Research Disorder.

Last year, I even found a solution to some of my piles-o-paper in this wonderful file box.

 Yeah. The second from top is the "file" section. I finally got to the filing and now that is all put away.

Then I sorted everything in my pile-o-paper. This is what it looked like after sorting.

But I wasn't done. I bought something to keep all this stuff OFF my desk except when I wanted it there. They call them wall pockets. This is clear plastic and open-ended and holds my legal size file folders. Love it.

And now my desk looks like the bottom photo.

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes

Monday, January 4, 2016

Ringing in the New Year

My DH, Older Daughter and I rang in the New Year. Well, actually, DH didn't make it that long. Older Daughter and I watched Annie - the new version and Steel Magnolias - the old version. So we were well into the New Year before we went to bed.

The menu for dinner is simple, usually. We usually nosh on cheese, crackers, salami, pepperoni, kielbasa, and whatever else we can think of. This year, Santa brought me a small snack sized crock pot setup with three crocks. I added a warm spinach dip, pumpernickel bread, a salsa and cheese dip with nachos and a chocolate dip with strawberries, oranges, angel food cake and french bread to the menu. Along with the appropriate alcoholic beverages that is.

New Year's eve, DH came home with the Blu Ray of "A Walk in the Woods" based on the Bill Bryson book of the same name, which chronicles his attempt at walking the Appalachian Trail. After two updates of our blu ray player via a 25 ft ethernet cable, we discovered it was never going to be compatible with that disc. Now, we've had that player for maybe four or five years. It was a hand-me-down from Older Daughter.

Do you remember when Betamax and VHS players came out? They were hundreds of dollars. I  think we got our first one in the mid 1980s. Such wonderful things. But expensive. At least for those times when we had two small children.

The new one was much less expensive and what the heck we bought a sound bar with a separate subwoofer, and now the sound on our UHD TV is awesome.

It really makes watching movies and even regular television programming an event. I wonder if we started a new tradition?

Copyright 2010-2016, ACK for Gene Notes