Monday, December 30, 2013

A badge for doing what I love

At WikiTree, an orphan is a person profile which no longer has a manager to respond to requests. 'Adopting' an orphan profile is good for everyone - our community tree remains healthy and interactive. The profile does not have to be one from your own ancestry, and frequently it is not. Here is an image of my newest badge:

I wanted to expand on my own ancestral lines, so I went hunting for orphans with surnames from my tree. I found a family group to adopt, and in the process, my family tree suddenly blossomed on one branch, all the way back to the 1200's.

Goldibear kept saying, 'you need to go to bed' and I kept replying, 'just one more file'. I mean, if you were picking up dollar bills someone left lying the road, would you be ready to quit just because the clock said 'bedtime'? Only this is better than dollar bills. These are Medieval ancestors, and at least one is associated with a castle, Castle Rising. According to their home page, Castle Rising is "one of the most famous twelfth century castles in England". Below is a picture of Castle Rising, seen through the gatehouse entrance, from Wikipedia, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license, picture by Dennis Smith.

Friday, December 27, 2013


My latest badge at WikiTree says 'GEDCOM Equipped. It means I have uploaded my family tree to WikiTree - in this case, my Finnish grandfather's ancestors. To quote from the WikiTree GEDCOM page: "GEDCOM, which stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunication, is a file format for transferring family tree information."

Randy Seaver, who writes a blog at Genea-Musings, has a wonderful layout of the whole GEDCOM upload process, complete with screen shots and links. Thank you Randy, for making my upload easy! Randy's post on Christmas Eve was very amusing, and I have added his blog to the list on the right of your screen.

It was not difficult at all, partly because no one from my Finnish grandfather's tree was in the WikiTree yet, so the only match was my grandfather, who I entered 'by hand' when I joined. This will be more challenging when I upload ancestors who go back to Colonial America, or back to European nobility. Those family lines are very nearly completed at WikiTree, and I will probably end up filling in any I have that aren't there already one ancestor at a time. Which is better than creating a lot of duplicates.

Well, it's back to bed for me, as I wish to get over these shingles, and instead of going away, they popped back up. So I do a little genealogy, have a meal, take a nap, repeat. Shingles are not uncommon, and usually only last up to four weeks. They can be very serious if they do not go away, as they can cause damage to organs. So Goldibear is nagging me to sleep, rest, take my medicine. He loves me:)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What is a False Dichotomy?

Well, first, What is a Dichotomy?

Di-chot-o-my: division into two non-overlapping, contradictory things {1}

So a false dichotomy would be seeing two things as separate and opposite when they are in fact, not.

WikiTree (you knew it was related somehow, right?) is not in opposition to having complete control of my own data, formatted just the way I want it. The two concepts - a community world tree shared by interested people, and a personal tree controlled by only me, are not mutually exclusive and are in fact, complementary and exist together quite nicely.

I can keep my own family tree on my own computer, and keep it coordinated with what I see of my ancestors on WikiTree. In the one case I reap all the benefits of many people working on my - and their - ancestors; in the other case I can add any theories, notes, or embellishments to my own tree that I want to have.

Thanks to Lianne for giving me the idea for this short blog.

{1} Merriam-Webster dictionary online

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

To Wiki or Not to Wiki - That is the Question

This morning I read a post on the WikiTree forum - a new member decided WikiTree did not meet his needs, so he was saying goodby. Each month a few people who try WikiTree quickly decide it is not for them. Usually it is the same reason: they discover they want absolute control over their own tree.

This led me to ask the Great Genealogy Question of the Internet Age:

To Wiki or Not To Wiki?

In most decisions there is a gain/loss balance to consider: if I do X, what do I gain and what might I lose?

Here is my gain/loss analysis on joining WikiTree:

GAIN - I can freely express my strong opinions on 'how things ought to be'
LOSS - the consensus on any given issue might not agree with my opinion

GAIN - technology supporting WikiTree is constantly improving and making it easier to accommodate our diversity
LOSS - priorities in what improvements should be made first may not always coincide with my own priorities

GAIN - in the future all locations will be mapped modern and old names
LOSS - I'm not in control on how locations will be named, formatted or presented, the community as a whole decides

GAIN- refinements added to the tree multiply with membership growth
LOSS - time lost orienting new members, fixing mistakes by newbies like me

GAIN - challenges of differing opinions sharpen my knowledge and broaden my experience.
LOSS - frustration when the majority does not share my own preferences

GAIN- access to ancestors I would not have found on my own, many 'lost link' ancestors I have found on WikiTree.
LOSS - what if I do not agree on who is is my ancestor? [see note]

GAIN- participating in groups focused on my special interests where other people contribute to my special ancestors
LOSS - my energy and time diverted to people not in my direct ancestor lines

GAIN - learning from generous people sharing their wealth of experience
LOSS - time invested in a learning curve for the Wiki way of doing things

GAIN - building a unique tree for future generations where people can see their heritage, meet cousins
LOSS - what if I don't like the cousins I meet (what if they don't like me?)

GAIN - everyone contributes their valuable data, everyone reaps the rewards of others contributions
LOSS - my data is no longer solely mine - it becomes mutually owned by the community [see note]

It is true that a wiki format is not for everyone; we all give up a certain amount of personal control, in return for what we all have decided is a greater benefit to ourselves and to the community - a tree that grows over time, in scope and in accuracy, from thousands of contributors adding their unique discoveries.

In light of my gain/loss analysis, I believe that the benefits inherent in WikiTree far outweigh the loss of total control over "my" tree.  It is a delusion to think that because I discovered and documented certain of my ancestors, that they are all unique solely to myself. It is a fallacy that I have sole control over how that data is presented - the same data is available publicly and will be used by the thousands of cousins who are also descended from the same people. 'Control' quickly becomes a trap where every mistake I make is affirmed in the echo chamber of only one opinion - mine. I much prefer to have errors discovered and corrected.

Most genealogy websites harbor thousands of family trees which repeat the same individual names and data, often with the same errors, created by thousands of users.

WikiTree is the opposite, thousands of contributors growing a single, connected tree of our mutual ancestors, with short individual branches down to our unique families.

NOTE: strong exception to the 'mutually owned' tree - my own profile and my immediate ancestors remain private
NOTE: these conflicts are worked out by citing sources, and the strongest sources win

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

WikiTree - The Total Experience (don't miss it)

I just passed my second month anniversary at WikiTree, and if someone had told me how much I would learn, how much I would do, two months ago - I just would not have believed it. So here are some highlights of my unbelievable first two months in the friendliest community genealogy site ever:

1,000 contributions! I just passed that milestone. It means I have added to the content of WikiTree a thousand times: some have been bios that took hours to write and document; some have been a quick update of a single fact. With thousands of community members doing the same thing each day, WikiTree grows more beautiful all the time.

Another badge:

As you can see, I made at least 100 contributions in November. This is such a nice way of reminding us that every thing we do is important and adds worth to the community. Displaying the badges on our profiles shows others that we are active members of the community and participating in reaching our mutual goals.

I have been working on merges the past couple weeks. It requires prolonged focus and attention to details. The result which I did not foresee but welcome, is that my perception of individual lifespans and family relationships is more acute. Like any activity that is repeated, a deepened awareness of the nuances of the subject develops quickly and naturally. Also the technical aspect of the work becomes easier with practice. It helps that WikiTree has recently developed software tools that make merging duplicate profiles nearly foolproof.

As a member of the Profile of the Week group, I have read fifty-eight profiles in the past eight weeks. They demonstrate an amazing variety of humanity. Pioneering women in New Zealand; aristocracy in Scotland; transported convicts in Australia; bigamist in America; war heroes on every continent; the long-lived, the tragic, the resolute and the plodding - our mutual ancestors are remarkable and they have one thing in common - they left descendants to carry on for another generation.

The Profiles of the Week also demonstrate the research skills and creative presentations of their descendants in the profiles which are nominated. We see outline formats, narrative style, profiles with source document images attached, timeline format, those with old photographs that speak of different times and places. We read of family mysteries and of the losses and triumphs of every life.

It is such a privilege to be a voting member of the Profile of the Week group, and it is only one of many ways to participate in the WikiTree community. If people don't have time to enjoy a special interest group, they can just upload their GEDCOMs and work on their own path through the ever-growing tree at WikiTree. It helps to thoroughly understand the way WikiTree functions, what our goals are - it isn't complicated. It is written in our Honor Code and spelled out in the G2G forum.

The longer I'm at WikiTree, the more I use the G2G forum. My particular interests include the Puritan Great Migration, 1776 - the American Revolution, using sources and citations, merging profiles. I entered those in my personal tags list and get a report of any forum activity on those subjects. Today I found WikiTree members sharing valuable tips on sources and on citations.  What I  learn in the G2G forum challenges me to ramp up my standards for the work I do, because I can see possibilities that would not occur to me on my own. Learning does not take place in a vacuum, but in an exchange of experience and ideas. Following are links to try for yourself - see if you agree with me that there is value added in being part of a lively genealogy community.

Citing Sources - WikiTree develops templates for citations

Free Access to Scholarly Articles

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Map Your Ancestor's Moves

The winning Profile of the Week this week is the story of a rogue - you can read about Clayton Sloan at WikiTree. The profile demonstrates the sleuthing abilities of Sean Sloan Johnson, as he tracked down an ancestor who used many aliases, and moved around quite a bit. One of the many excellent touches added by Sean is a map of the movements around the country of his ancestor. In response to my comment on it, he sent me a link to Google Maps Engine.

So I'm in the process of mapping the life of my gr-great grandfather James Sherrill, one of my Oregon Trail Pioneer ancestors. This is another example of how the WikiTree community inspires me to better work on my family tree.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Evidence Explained - the Facebook 'Blog'

Elizabeth Shown Mills, a highly credentialed and experienced genealogist, has long been recognized as a leader in setting professional standards in her field, especially regarding sources - why, when and how to source a fact in a family tree.

I have her weighty tome, Evidence Explained, and one of her QuickSheets (which is less likely to break my wrist holding it up). To your right you may see I have added a link to Ellizabeth's Facebook pages for her book. I was not aware of this valuable resource until today. I found it through a link in the G2G group at WikiTree, and thanks to Jillaine Smith for giving us the link!

This is just one more example of how joining WikiTree is helping me grow, not just grow my tree, but grow my ability to make it a good one.  I recently discovered a resource listing that Rick Pierpont.created and shared. Another resource list I like to use is Kitty's Library, which has benefited many in the WikiTree community.

Being part of a collaborative community is making my family tree hobby more fun, and more effective.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Like a Kid in a Candy Shop

Some well-behaved children go into the candy shop, stand in one place, and quietly ask their parents: "May I have that one, please?"

Not like me.  I'd wander from one side of the shop to other, considering the delicious choices. With my nose plastered to the glass covered display case, I'd say, "That one - no wait - this one, uhmm - may I have them both?".

Nothing has changed except my hair - it is gray instead of brown.  I dash (virtually) from one profile to another at WikiTree. I find a missing link that takes a branch that has been stuck for years way, way back. I work on it for a week, then I'm peeking into other branches, finding more missing links - oh please may I have all of them?!

Unlike the candy shop - the answer is YES!  And it won't even make you fat! So here is my Miner missing link; here is my Crow missing link - like a magic candy shop, you can have some too, and there is always more left than before! 

Of course I know that working carefully, logically, from a well-thought-out research plan, would get me where I want to go quicker in the end. What can I say? I'm just a kid, hiding in a grown-up body....

WikiTree Globe
WikiTree - Where We Are All Related

Where did the Week Go?

You have heard the saying "Time flies when you're having fun" -- well the past week went by at super-sonic jet speed.  To make a perfect week even better, last night when I checked my profile page for updates, I found this:

 Community StarFamily Star

  -- and it isn't even my birthday!
The family star may be awarded by any member to anyone  "for making valuable contributions to their family's history or genealogy".  This one was from Tami Osmer.  Tami and I share many of the same ancestors, and she has uploaded her GEDCOM (a format for transferring family tree information) to WikiTree. She too blogs about genealogy - you can find her blog with the link to your right "Finding Family stories". She wrote on Nov. 8:  "Thank you for caring about ancestors by honoring them with thoughtful profile pages!" This from someone who produces so many great stories of her ancestors! Wow! Thank you Tami!

The community star may be awarded to anyone " for outstanding generosity in the community or dedication to the WikiTree mission to grow a shared, worldwide family tree".  It is reserved "for those making contributions beyond their own family."  This one was awarded by Terry Wright - she is the Project Leader for the Profile of the Week, and she also works on Photo for the Week Project; Scottish Clans Project; Australian Convicts Project - and many other valuable contributions to WikiTree.  She has made a major commitment of her time to be a greeter for the new members of WikiTree. In fact, she was the one who greeted me and has made me feel very welcome.  Here is part of what she wrote on Nov. 9: "April shows such outstanding generosity to the WikiTree Community April is willing to help in any way that she can." Thank you Terry!

Speaking of the WikiTree Mission - here is the statement from About WikiTree:
" Our mission is to grow a single worldwide family tree that will make genealogy free and accessible for everyone."

The Vision statement begins: "WikiTree is designed to balance privacy and collaboration so that everyone can share the same family tree."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Reading, Writing and WikiTree

 October 2013 Club 100
I spent part of the weekend reading the nine profiles nominated for Profile of the Week - (scroll down, link on the right side).  It is interesting to read about the lives of people who came before us - not just the famous but everyday sort of people.

I am also learning how many ways a profile can be presented - narrative, timeline, combination, mainly pictures, etc.  I spent my insomniac part of the night/morning writing another profile.

I hope you like my October Club 100 badge at the top of this page. Points can help me measure my impact at WikiTree and they give me a way to track my productivity, but points aren't the goal or purpose of WikiTree.  Points - they are just a way of acknowledging every single contribution made by the members.

In a collaborative work such as WikiTree, it is the sum of mutual effort that is important. The goal is to produce accurate trees and interesting profiles, well sourced, with pictures.  There is no such thing as an 'insignificant' contribution in a co-operative body of work. My little finger is small, but not at all insignificant!

Today I have been reading back dated issues of the WikiTree Blog, which I strongly recommend for anyone interested in genealogy. Whatever level of experience you may have acquired, from beginner to expert, I think you will find articles that interest you.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Surprise! a badge for genealogy blogging


OK, so I made it bigger - just didn't want you to miss it:)  To me blogging is like thinking out loud to a friend.  So getting a badge for blogging is just - like two desserts - extra extra.  The part I like best is that my blog will be listed on the bloggers page at WikiTree.  I have read all the blogs on the page and it is inspiring to see these meticulous researchers going the extra mile to find out more than vital statistics about their ancestors.

AK's Genealogy Research demonstrated research skills in a blog about her Irish ancestors last month.  I have Irish ancestors too:)  In fact, I have more Celtic ancestors than anything except Finnish.  Reading other genealogy blogs always gives me new ideas. Thanks, AK!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Editha Stebbins 1613 - 1688

Editha Stebbins - a Founder of Hartford CT - a Puritan in the Great Migration in 1633

Editha Stebbins is Goldibear's 10X-great grandmother.  She led an extraordinary life in early Colonial America. Read her story at WikiTree:

 Edith (Stebbins) Holyoke

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why I Love WikiTree

Reason #1 - Wikitree is helping me grow my own family tree. Yes, Many places claim to do that. WikiTree is where I can put my confidence that the information is accurate. Why? Because they demand sourcing, and are busy to correct mistakes quickly.  I do not have to choose one person to trust for the information - each profile in WikiTree is 'owned' by the whole community. Instead of everyone duplicating the same work over and over, there is one work, which is contributed to and checked by many people with an interest in that branch. Makes sense to me!

Reason #2 - WikiTree has interest groups (Projects and Categories) which cover my special interests - Revolutionary War Patriots; Puritans of the Great Migration; Founders of Hartford, etc.

Reason #3 - Working for the improvement of a Project will earn a badge on my homepage (and yes, I was motivated by gold stars as a kid, too).  Here are my badges:

Wiki Genealogist 1776 Project Member Puritan Great Migration Project Member Profile of the Week Voting Member Honor Code Signatory Volunteer

Pretty, yes? And they each mean a lot to me: they represent the research, the passion and work that I have invested in special projects in my family tree.  The 1776 is self-explanatory. The "pgm"? Puritan Great Migration - the settlement in the early 1600s of the towns of New England by Puritans. Would you be surprised to find out that a great many of those people lived into their 70's and even their 90's?

Reason #4 - see "Voting Member - profiles" badge.  I am a bit excited, as one of the profiles I wrote for a Puritan ancestor is being considered for Profile of the Week award.  Results will be announced tomorrow.  It was certainly part of my motivation as I wrote the profile, winnowed the sources, and wrestled the footnotes into place, to think that it could be nominated. Also, the profile was of a person who led a truly extraordinary life, and deserves to be recognized. The seventeen member committee reads all the nominated profiles, and each vote raises the profile in a Google search.

Reason #5 - coming soon, a 'Club 100' badge for October.  Any member of WikiTree who makes 100 or more contributions to the worldwide family tree project in a given month is eligible. There is also a Club 1,000 badge. 

Reason #6 - The people I have met at WikiTree are just simply the nicest in any genealogy group I have ever known. Really.  And that is probably the very best reason of all.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Amos Miner responded to the Lexington Alarm April 22, 1775, fighting the British under the command of Capt. Daniel Tilden.[1] He was nineteen years old.[2]
Amos Miner enlisted at Roxbury Massachusetts.[3] He served part of the twenty months active service documented in his pension under Capt. Throop and Col. Burrill, as a private and a sergeant with the Connecticut troops.[3]
"Amos Miner, the grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was the third son of Jesse Miner. He was one of the 1,500 volunteer troops that took possession of Bunker Hill on the night of June 16, 1776, helped to throw up the entrenchments, was in the thickest of the battle on the 17th and among the last to leave the field when ordered to fall back."

He gave vivid descriptions of many incidents of this memorable battle. He went on an expedition to Canada, was wounded while in the service and was granted a pension after the close of the war."

Following is the official record of the Revolutionary service of Amos Miner: Department of Interior --- Bureau of Pensions --- Washington, D.C. "Battles engaged in ---Bunker Hill."[3][4]
He is listed in the Connecticut Revolutionary War Military Lists, 1775-83, on December 14, in the area of North Castle, New York, in the Third Regiment, under the Command of Col. John Ely; in Holm's Company, under the Command of Capt Thomas Holms. The note refers to wages and sauce money.[5]
Amos Miner married Mary Rowley, on December 14, 1780.[6]
On May 1, 1818, Amos Miner made application for a pension due to his service in the war. He was living in Brighton, New York. He was sixty-two years old. He began receiving his war pension as of the 1st of May, 1818.[3]
Amos Miner was buried at the Palmyra Cemetery, Palmyra, Wayne County, New York.[7] [8]
His widow, Mary Rowley Miner, made application and received a pension for the service of her husband.[3]

Amos is the brother of Goldi-bear's 6x great-grandmother.  I wrote the above profile at WikiTree, where you can see his family tree, which goes back to 1525.

  1. Connecticut Revolutionary War Military Lists, 1775-83; Lexington Alarm Lists page 150: online digital records published by
  2. Connecticut Town Birth Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection) page 302; REF Vol 2, page 34
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 U.S. Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970 National SAR #11348; Wisconsin state SAR #198
  4. Find A Grave Memorial# 94078009; Created by: M Carter Record added: Jul 23, 2012
  5. Connecticut Revolutionary War Military Lists, 1775-83; Lexington Alarm Lists page 150: online digital records published by Ancestry
  6. Family Data Collection - Individual Records; online digital records published by Ancestry
  7. Index to the Burial Places of Revolutionary Patriots in and around Ontario County, New York; 2nd Ed. compiled by Preston E. Pierce, Ontario County Historian; published by the Office of the County Historian Division of Human Services, Ontario County, Canandaigua, New York 1996
  8. Find A Grave Memorial# 109522687; Created by: daryl verstreate, jr; Record added: Apr 25, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Panda Cam is Live Again at the National Zoo (updated)

Update Wednesday Oct 23rd -
     This morning Mei Xiang is outside eating bamboo, and baby panda is indoors sleeping. Both cams are active and I switch back and forth to between them.
      Mei Xiang usually is holding her cub, grooming her, or helping her nurse. 

Right now, as I write this, Mei Xiang [beautiful fragrance] is sleeping and so is her cub. According to Chinese tradition, the cub will be named one hundred days after its birth. Meanwhile - the cub seems to be a restless sleeper (or a very active dreamer?).  With the Panda Cam (link click here) live again, we can watch our national treasures.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Family Tree At WikiTree

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

I was born at the end of The Oregon Trail, at the end of WWII - two events which have remained strong influences in my life. 

My father joined the Navy during the war, and after being trained in electronics was shipped to the South Pacific, where he was a radioman in a P-28 that patrolled the ocean around New Caledonia.
After the war ended, my father had opportunities for a career in electronics. In such a dynamic growth industry, opportunity often meant moving to a new city, and I literally saw the United States from one side to the other and back as I was growing up. 

I soon realized that most people had more family around them and my friends knew their grandparents. All but one of my grandparents were deceased by the time I was born. My curiosity about who they were grew with the passing years. 

Meanwhile, the age of television and the Hollywood Western blossomed. I watched entranced as Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Annie Oakley and other characters made the West safe from the bad guys. My favorite show was Wagon Train. Do you remember the theme song? "Roll 'em, Roll 'em Roll em - keep those wagons rolling, roll 'em - roll 'em - roll em - Rawhide!"

Little did I know then that my own great-grandfather Barchus had come over the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon in 1864; my great-great grandmother Bacon also was on that trip. My Welch great-great-great grandparents Evans/Toone traversed the Oregon Trail in 1852, bringing with them their newly married son and his bride, and a son-in-law and grand-baby. 

Those discoveries and more came into my life because some young men decided to get high and go for a joy ride. I thought when they crashed their car into ours that my life was ruined, but the long recovery simply meant I'd have time for working on my family tree - something I might never have done otherwise. That is how, for me, what had been an interesting hobby became a passionate vocation.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Family Tree Journey – In the Beginning

So when I look at records I generated a couple decades ago, and see how incomplete they are, how many assumptions (many of them erroneous) that I made, I have no regrets.  I see what every family tree archivist must produce before they have the the experience, the classes, the knowledge to move beyond beginner.

I also see a solid framework upon which I may hang the marvelous details so easily accessible in literally billions of digitized books and document, with powerful, hi-speed search engines and Internet. Without the simple tree which I put together long ago, doing a search on the Ancestry website, and contemplating the vast amount of conflicting data presented in millions of differentiating trees, would be utterly overwhelming to me. Where to begin?!

Instead of envying the newbie genealogist their swift and powerful modern tools, I commiserate with their dilemma. For tools so quick and potent may surely take one far and swiftly in the wrong direction just as well as the right one. Which to choose? Where to put one's confidence for what records to trust?

I would say to them, begin where we all must begin - with you. Put down your own vital facts, add your parents, then their parents. Ahh, you begin to feel the truth of the endless journey: the names you want to document double with every new generation! You only have four grandparents -- but you have sixty-four great-great-great-great-grandparents!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Family Tree - a Journey

In 1989 I began working on our family tree, working as I thought then, towards a destination.  I conceived of sometime in the future when the work would be complete.

Yesterday, As I contemplated a generation of Revolutionary War soldiers in our tree (and the minutiae of details that each battle and action represent) 'complete' suddenly struck me as being singularly naive. By its very nature, genealogy is a never-ending vocation.  That it should take me nearly a quarter of a century to consciously absorb that truth is a little embarrassing.  Not the brightest bulb on the tree, hmm.

Sooner or later, everyone who contemplates doing their family tree, whether as a hobby or as a career, must confront the idea that with family research, the journey is the destination.  For dealing with something that never ends, the destination cannot be the motive, the journey itself is the question and the answer.

Perhaps some people, observing the nature of the work, decide to find something else to do, something with an end to the beginning, a destination to attain.  Yet not having a destination is not the same as not having goals.

In an endless journey, what is around the next bend in the road, what is just over the next hill, are pleasant goals, attainable and clear.  What is beyond the distant mountain range?  Not so clear, perhaps not even attainable, yet still a worthy goal, if only to see how close one may come.

Below is a section of our Revolutionary War generation - click to enlarge image.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I stumbled into a helpful genealogy website yesterday

A link to an entry on WikiTree popped up in a search yesterday, and turned into a genealogical gold-mine. There on the WikiTree page was the 'bridge-generation' which I was missing to connect my branch to a well-documented section going waay-ay back.  It made me so happy I quickly set down some info the page was missing, and one thing led to another. You know how that is. So now I am a squeaky-new member of WikiTree.

They even give badges for good behavior.

I Love WikiTree
But it's not like an exclusive thing we've got going. Join me.
+ more @ WikiTree

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ring That Bell

Inscribed on the Liberty Bell: "Proclaim Liberty thro' all the Land to all the Inhabitants thereof."

I chose the Liberty Bell as the symbol to show for those ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War. I have uncovered pension records for three out of the six I found so far, and papers from Sons of the American Revolution or Daughters of the American Revolution for the remaining three.  There are more Revolutionary War soldiers on branches of our tree I haven't sifted yet - more wonderful discoveries yet to come.

image from Wikipedia
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

View the Image - Rule #5 on Ancestry Anne's Top Ten Rules

Ancestry Anne writes the blog on Her latest subject: Top Ten Rules for Growing Your Family Tree.

Rule #5 is View the Image - you will likely learn some things about your ancestors.

Since I enjoy looking at old records, this is something I have been doing since I began working on my family tree.  What can I say? As a kid, I enjoyed reading the dictionary.

So I'm guessing that about half the members on Ancestry obey Rule #5.  This is a guess based on how many of the trees I checked out list "Experience Mercy Nash" versus how many list "Experience Nash".  The record available to view shows that Experience and Mercy were twins.  The synopsis of the original record merely shows the name Experience Mercy, as belonging to one person, and will automatically enter it as such if you click on the merge buttons without editing.

Read Anne's post for the other nine rules - they are all well worth minding!  I am most guilty of taking short-cuts with Rule #9, just in case you wanted to know.
You will mostly likely learn a few things about your ancestors - See more at:
You will mostly likely learn a few things about your ancestors - See more at:
You will mostly likely learn a few things about your ancestors - See more at:

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Goldibear's 6th gr-grandfather, Orringh Stoddard (1742-1824), fought in the Revolutionary War.  His is the second pension file I have seen this year.

Below is Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth by Emanuel Leutz (died 1868); depicts George Washington at the 1778 Battle of Monmouth. From Wikipedia Commons, this painting is in the Public Domain.

Orringh Stoddard fought in the Battle of Monmouth, where 5,000 American troops attacked the withdrawing British Army of 11,000 soldiers, delaying them until  Gen. Washington could arrive with the main American Army.

  " Leutze took great pains to be meticulously accurate with regard to uniforms, weapons, facial types of the soldiers, and portraits of the leading figures. The composition is carefully balanced, but packed with action. In the center, Washington has sunlight shining on his wrathful face, waving his sword as he rallies the troops of Lee's command. Hamilton and a bareheaded Lafayette have ridden up with him and are reining in their horses. The figure of Lee is shrinking back in his saddle, his crestfallen face in shadow. In the foreground, exhausted riflemen and a thirsty dog scoop water from a spring; farther back, on the left, the soldiers raise a cheer for their Commander in Chief, while some of them have already turned to fire on theBritish. On the hilltop, behind the figure of Washington, American artillery gallops into position to stem the British attack, and at far right the men of Washington's command approach the scene to enter the battle."  excerpt from

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Good to the Very Last Bite

Chocolate from Holland arrived shortly after my friend Robin returned from a cruise which stopped in Amsterdam. What a lovely surprise! I managed to keep it for two months, until reaching a goal to celebrate in my diet. This past week I have nibbled four or five squares a day (24 squares in a bar), and stayed at my new weight.  It is the only chocolate that I've had since the middle of May - me, a chocolate addict!  But that is the trouble, you see.

If I only liked chocolate a little bit, I could have a bite and then quit.  As Robin knows too well, I am not good at saying no:)  So, it is easier to have no chocolate than just a little.  Sadly that applies to more than chocolate.  Have you ever had just one french fry?  Just one chocolate cream out of a box? Just one chicken wing?  Well, you see what I mean.  Self control is a virtue which I have opportunity to practice too often - not losing my patience or my temper, not talking too much, exercising when I don't feel like it - oh yes, lots and lots of practice.  

Considering my rate of failures, I am not so sure that practice makes perfect. Doubtless it is still good discipline.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"National Zoo Panda Cam Will Be Turned Off, Along With Our Happiness, In Federal Government Shutdown"

I am not kidding, those are the headlines this Monday morning at the HuffPost page for pandababy news - and I do mean the new baby panda.

In light of 800,000 workers furloughed and families suffering unfairly, this may seem like a silly thing to receive my concern. It is not. Pandas are so rare, so threatened in their natural habitat, that maintaining the species in zoos and in the special panda centers such as those in China, is vital to a viable population of pandas. The zoos stock frozen sperm and eggs from their pandas and trade off to keep as genetically broad and diverse DNA pool as possible.

Just to watch a baby panda explore the world is to observe a miracle in action.  While the survivability of the pandas at the National Zoo is not in question currently from this government shutdown, the loss of opportunity is not limited to pandas.

The National Archives will be closed for the duration of the shutdown. Here is the quote from their website:
"If the Federal Government is shut down, all National Archives facilities will be closed and all activities will be canceled, with the following exceptions: Federal Records Centers and the Federal Register."  The day I spent doing research at the National Archives on my ancestors who fought in the Civil War was awesome - to see in person the records of our country's history in their vaults! All closed today.

I have been to the National Air and Space Museum several times with family and friends - most recently visiting the enormous facility in Reston, VA where I was able to walk around the space shuttle, and see the history of flight, up close and personal.  Here is the note on their web page:
"Due to the federal government shutdown, our museums and facilities are closed. All daytime and evening events are also canceled."

For more details about what will be closed or not, from the Grand Canyon to Ellis Island, from meat inspections to flu tracking - here is a link to an Associated Press article.

Ironically, while all the Federal workers who are off work without pay due to the actions of the House of Representatives, those same Representatives are getting paid - for NOT governing. They are also, due to their tax- payer funded jobs, enrolled in excellent health care programs that cover themselves and their families.  Yes, the same people who are shutting down the government in an effort to deny the average worker a chance at health care, will not only get paid for not working, they will be fully covered for doctor and hospital visits at the same time.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Do You Think You have Finished your Family Tree?

I thought I had completed sections of my family tree decades ago - nothing new there.

I have never been so happy to be totally wrong!

Records that previously were accessible only in micro-film or rare books are now at the tips of my fingers, in online Google Books, Internet Archive and at  Old files previously mouldering in the basements of county courthouses are now only a mouse-click away, in online database files.

What an enjoyable week this has been - checking "completed" branches on my family tree and discovering new facts, documenting facts already in the tree with hot links to the data, and generally having fun, fun, fun.

Now, I understand that if you have not succumbed to family tree fever, as I have, you might think my definition of fun is very strange indeed. Well, I think people who enjoy pinning butterfly carcases to display cases strange so it must be each to his own obsessions.

Whatever your intensity of family tree fever, high or low, it would likely pay off big to go back and check your completed branches with what is currently available at, or through a powerful  Genealogy In Time  search. If you have discovered early New England ancestors, take a look at what they know about them at NEHGS [New England Historical and Genealogical Society]. Although less extensive records are available if you check the "free only" box, I have found valuable information at NEHGS.

It is easier to quickly evaluate new data on people one has already researched, than it would be for a later descendant who is not familiar with the individual records. Don't let your grandchildren have all the fun - go get those freshly available facts now.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Paleo Diet without the meat

Huff Post article: 6 Health Lessons From the Paleo Diet is a perfect description of the diet I have been on since May - I rated the article a ten out of ten - you can find it with the link above.

So my "Paleo" diet is one with little meat - I have two ounces of turkey twice a day in snacks, and that is all (except for the days I have three snacks). That is no sacrifice, since I don't especially crave meat in my diet. I have plenty of protein - more than is needed - 80 grams/day. I get one third my minimum daily requirement of protein in just one smoothie.  It is mainly from non-fat Greek yogurt.

The rest of the description of what makes a Paleo diet so great also perfectly describes how I have lost fifteen pounds without having cravings. Usually I don't feel hungry.

So what are the 6 health lessons?
1. avoid processed food - easy. Everything is fresh, raw, and spends only a minute in my blender.
2. pair diet with exercise - hard. I used to love to walk, run, swim, etc. After a couple of car accidents it is hard to exercise enough, but I can still walk, which according to my surgeon is a literal miracle. I would agree.
3. a good salt balance - easy. I don't salt my smoothies. I get lots of potassium with a banana a day.
4. choose good fats - easy. Part of an avocado goes into the spinach smoothie (yes it does taste good). Almond meal in a breakfast smoothie and flax seeds or chia seeds in the berry smoothie. Easy.
5. Cook for yourself - easy. Smoothies take about ten minutes to make.
6. Don't count calories - easy. Well, that is because my recipes already counted the calories, in the book by Harley Pasternak, MSc.  Going by how often I use it, "The Body Reset Diet" is my favorite book.

Side benefits from this well balanced diet include smoother, more youthful looking skin.  With an average of 43 grams of fiber a day, regularity is no problem anymore.

I use more Greek yogurt than in Harley's recipes, one-half to three-quarter cups extra in lunch and dinner smoothies, and add extra almond meal, because this is how I eat every day, not just the five initial days of Harley's plan. His plan allows 18% fat per day for the first five days, but I have increased that to 20% for the long term, and increased the calories from 871 to 1400 with the increased yogurt and more fruit, and extra snacks.

So now you know - even though you didn't ask.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Terrible Temptation to Fill in ALL the Blanks

I dislike ambiguity, ignorance, and blank spots on forms.  I dislike it so much that when I first began working on my family tree, I would fill in a blank spot with what I supposed might have been.

That is fine for writing fiction, but it doesn't work well when putting together a genealogy.  Which hasn't kept it from happening - often!

Take the case of Nicholas Johnson, born at ? on the date of ?; married Mary Coley on 15 Mar 1694 at Fairfield, CT; removed to Cohansey, NJ in 1697; wrote his will 1 Sep 1732; and died sometime between then and the inventory of his estate on 25 Jan 1733.

Nicholas Johnson might have been born in Fairfield, CT, where he was married; Fairfield CT was settled in 1639, so it is technically a possibility. In actuality, published lists cover the names of the settlers through 1681, with no Johnson in residence. It is doubtful he was born in Fairfield, CT.

Until 1697, Cohansey was inhabited by Indians, with a sprinkling of Dutch settlers beginning about 1680.  In 1697 a group of men arrived in Cohansey "from Connecticut and Long Island" to purchase land from the Indians, and Nicholas is listed among them. We can probably eliminate Cohansey as a birthplace for Nicholas.

There is a record of one Nicholas Johnson arriving in Maryland in 1676. It is on page 261 of The Early Settlers of Maryland: an Index to Names of Immigrants, Compiled from Records of Land Patents, 1633-1680, in the Hall of Records, Annapolis, Maryland. Did 'our' Nicholas own land in Maryland before arriving in Fairfield, CT? Or is it possibly a record of his father, if his father was also named Nicholas?

Or did Nicholas arrive in Fairfield from across the ocean?  He did not arrive with the early settlers, who came from Maryland.  I have searched those lists of names and there is no Johnson at all.

So my page for Nicholas Johnson is blank under birth date and birth place.  I learned that it is better to endure ambiguity, and blank spots, than to suppose a 'might have been' and fill in a blank with embarrassing  errors. I have also learned it is very tedious to have to go back and correct all those old records where I cheerfully filled in every blank, whether it was documented or not.

Perhaps in the future a family Bible with the missing information will be discovered, or a departure record from a port in Europe, or some other fact that will show me how to fill in the blank places.  I began working on genealogy as a way of 'nailing down the facts'.  After twenty-five years at this addictive hobby, I have begun to actually like a little ambiguity, and I'm even learning to love the blanks.

The alternative - a profusion of conflicting suppositions, is so unsettling that blanks look good by comparison.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Two branches of my tree meet at the Battle of Kings Mountain

Teddy Roosevelt called the victory at Kings Mountain, Oct 7, 1780, "the turning point of the American Revolution". Historians agree that if America had lost that crucial battle, the strategic pincer movement planned by the British generals would have succeeded, and hope would have been crushed for the Patriot's cause.

The Battle of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, between about 1430 Patriots and 1200 British soldiers and Tory sympathizers was small, as battles were measured in that war. It was brief, only 65 minutes long. But the consequences for the future of two countries was huge.

Today I was astounded to learn that soldiers from two branches of my family tree fought at Kings Mountain under Col. Siever. The Sherrill company, ancestors of my father's mother including Joshua Sherrill, were there in strength. Burt Moore, ancestor of my father's father, marched over a mountain to participate.

Joshua and Burt survived the battle, and the war. Four generations later, their gr-gr-grandchildren, Charles and Clara, met in a tiny lumber town in Washington and got married. Charles and Clara are my grandparents. I doubt they ever realized that their gr-gr-grandfathers were both fighting the British at Kings Mountain.

The discovery of that neat coincidence was left to me, 233 years after the battle. Next month is the anniversary of that event, and I really must do something special to celebrate on the seventh of October.

What might you discover if you learned what your ancestors were up to, a hundred, two hundred, or five hundred years ago?

More on Genealogical Proof: the standard for what it is and is not

Every fact in a record must come under scrutiny for accuracy, as well as for being applied to the correct person. Typos and other faults cause misspellings which can throw a record into confusion. Place names can change as counties grow and boundaries are re-drawn, and new counties are created.

An example I recently saw would be on my 7th gr-grandfather, Richard Hancock, who died in Cohansey, Cumberland, New Jersey 20 May 1689.  A public record was created which stated he died in Cohorsey, Cumberland, New Jersey.  With the Internet, it is a very quick check to see the location mentioned in a record. In this case, it would show there is no such thing as Cohorsey in New Jersey. Since I was familiar with the family, and had seen other records showing they had lived in Cohansey, the mistake was quickly resolved for me.

Other times, I have puzzled over a place name for days or even weeks before finding enough clues in alternate records to sort out the location.

This is but a very simple and obvious part of creating accurate family trees.  Genealogical Proof Standard, by Christine Rose, defines what is a genealogical proof in her small but powerfully written paperback.  I strongly recommend the book, printed in 2005, as the best way to guard against wasting time, creating erroneous trees and false data. Correct spelling isn't even at the beginning of the list of cautions in the book.

Her six-step process chart on page 18 begins with "Conduct a reasonably exhaustive search among a variety of records" and ends with "Write up the conclusion, including an explanation of any opposing evidence and how it was resolved. Include citations."

A more typical conflict in genealogical proof is in the case of my grandfather, Kustaa Heikkila. Records from relatives in Finland give his mother's name as Josefina Seppala. His border crossing record, from the ship Tunisia log of alien passengers, shows his destination as his cousin, August Seppala, in Albion, California. My grandmother, who knew his family and visited them, said his mother was Josefina Seppala.  But now I have a conflict to resolve, because his death certificate as excerpted by Merle A. Reinikka, says that his mother's name was Josephine Tabbla.

Possibly the handwriting was so poor that it is merely a transcription error. But I will need to resolve the conflict.

This week seems to have been sprinkled with errors of one kind or another. As I was comparing my information to other family trees, I found one tree that had assigned my gr-grandmother Elizabeth Anderson to the family of Joshua Anderson and his wife California Queen.  I sent the tree owner a copy of the 1850 census which shows Elizabeth with her father, Joshua Anderson and his first wife, Millie Jones. The census agrees with the information on Elizabeth's death certificate, given by her husband John Dellinger whose father Eli served with Joshua Anderson in the Civil War.  California Queen was twelve years old when my gr-grandmother Elizabeth was born.

Part of verifying the accuracy of a tree is whether the given ages of people make sense within the relationship. I have seen multiple trees where the mother's death date was some years before the birth of her child. Clearly not possible, but someone missed the error, and others copied it. Is the mother's death date wrong, or the child's birth date wrong, or was it a different mother entirely?

I have a strong liking for solving puzzles, untangling mysteries and uncovering hidden stories in the lives of my ancestors. How wonderful to live in an age where so many records and books are available on the Interent.  Not that long ago, people had to travel to where the records were kept to do the research. While this is still true of some records, it is less true every day as diligent librarians scan records and books into digital format.  I can time travel to the scene of Magna Carta in England in 1215, or to New Caledonia in 1945, where my father served as a radioman for the Navy in WWII.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


Next Wednesday and Thursday the National Archives presents a series of classes on genealogy over the Internet.

Free classes on how to access records in the various holdings of the National Archives will be accompanied by handouts and a call-in genealogy help line.

See the announcement here for the full schedule, links to downloading the handouts, etc.  See you there:)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Colonial Immigrants: Who They Were and Where They Came From

Yesterday I attended an excellent virtual lecture on origins of Colonial Immigrants by Mary Hill.  Free access to the webinar is available through Wednesday, Sept. 5 when it will join the rest of the Legacy webinar archives, available for a small annual or monthly fee.

You may enjoy the same information I heard and saw yesterday at this link:

Colonial Immigrants: Who They Were and Where They Came From

I have worked on my family tree since 1989, and attended conferences and classes. The above webinar exceeded all my expectations, and I will be using information Mary Hill shared in my daily work.  The only difficulty I may have will be how to find the time to use all the books and online resources she covered.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sorting it out

While there are people in my tree who lack enough information for me to find their ancestors, most of the people I have documented have the opposite problem: too much information. Although primary source information usually corroborates with other primary sources, even that may seem to fail at times.  Usually there is a reasonable explanation for conflicting evidence, such as two people with the same name living in the same area, and further information will often sort them out.

It is the secondary sources with their derivative facts which most often produces conflicting evidence, and the reason is usually some kind of human error in the transcription. Again, comparing it to further information can usually sort out the facts from the confusion, but only if one has a way to evaluate each bit of evidence.

Early settlers in America often moved from their original place of landing, but they did not frequently change either their religious affiliations, or their occupations. The names of their children would remain the same except where a daughter changed to her married name, and frequently her husband's name will be found with her father's name in the local military or land or church records.

Wills are wonderful primary source documents which often reveal family relationships and married daughters, but since the eldest son was frequently given the home farm (as well as the care of his aging parents) he might not be mentioned in a will, as he would already be in possession of his inheritance. 

This week I read an article summing up the kinds of proof to be found in genealogical records, and how to evaluate it, what weight to give the evidence. Written by Michael J. LeClerc and found in the latest issue of Mocavo News, his research tips, "Sources and Information and Evidence, Oh My!" also includes an excellent flow chart diagram.

I recommend it for anyone doing research on their family tree, as a way of sorting out the relative significance of the records they will find.

For those who wish to delve a little deeper, I recommend the classic "Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian" by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

The Geography of Genealogy

Geography shines understanding upon the migrations of our ancestors. Place names may either confirm or obscure the origination of families. To study my ancestors has been to learn how vital the natural features of the world was to their travels, commerce, and migrations.

Before the golden age of canals in England, there were rivers which carried much of their commerce, which made their travel easier, which powered mills for grinding their grains, and which provided fish for their tables.

Place names change through the centuries, or are misspelled in books and documents, and so confusion is cast upon which home village to look for a family name.

Latest case in point:

The Quaker John Pancoast (also spelled Pankurst) came to Burlington, New Jersey, with his eight children on the ship Paradise in 1680. He brought with him a written recommendation from his church in England. In the various books and documents citing this letter, he is said to have lived in Northamptonshire, an English county. His church is said to have been in "Ugbrooke". He is also said to have lived in or near Ashton.

Ugbrooke is a famous country estate in Devon which originally belonged the earls of Clifford.  It is nowhere near the place where John Pancoast lived and went to church. 

Bugbrooke is a small town on the River Nene, which also happens to flow through Ashton on its way to Northampton in Northamptonshire. 

And so the simple dropping of a letter at the beginning of a word can raise confusion like dust, obscuring the real home village of an immigrant ancestor.

The life of a genealogist is one of details, chasing out the little devils that hide the facts. Looking up Ugbrooke, finding it in Devonshire instead of Northamptonshire, discovering the river that connects Ashton and Bugbrooke -- the simple joys of a researcher on the family tree.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 and new records

This week I checked on some of the 'brick walls' in my family tree, and was pleasantly surprised to find new records added to the already impressive and vast collection at

Although most of my 'end of this line' branches remain the same, one branch grew fifteen new people,with documentation. In the chart above, most of the people on the right half were born and died in England, and most of the people on the left half were born in, or moved to, America.

 These are some of my earliest immigrant ancestors. Some of them were Quakers. (Click on the picture to see a large version.)

They lived in Milford, Fairfield county, Connecticut, and in the last generation (Mary Coley), moved to Cohansey, Cumberland county, New Jersey, which was settled earlier by Quakers.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Perseid Meteor Shower tonight and tomorrow night

It is too often cloudy here in western Oregon, but we may have a chance to watch the Perseid meteor shower tomorrow night . Sky and Telescope reports that the best viewing is from midnight until near dawn, when up to 100 meteors per hour may be seen.

This isn't the only meteor shower to regularly visit earth, but it is the biggest and brightest. The comet that causes the Perseid shower won't be back to earth until 2022, so I want to see the show this year for sure.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Look! Up in the Sky! It's a bird.. it's a plane.. - It's Supermoon!

This is the first time I have heard of Supermoon, though I have seen them before - the times when a full moon is also at its closest approach to earth.

Follow this link for pictures of the Supermoon at 13.5% closer than usual. Or, better yet, step outside tonight to view it in person.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


This Saturday, June 15, celebrate the 798th anniversary of Magna Carta. Hang out our flag. Tell a friend it is a special day. 

Following is a brief calendar of the events concentrated immediately before and after King John put his royal seal to Magna Carta.  This was just the beginning - King John gathered his troops and set out to defeat his barons.

He won some battles, tore down some castles and imprisoned some of his barons - but - he died October 8, 1216 before he could win the war.

Because of the legacy of Magna Carta, we have laws such as Habeas Corpus, the law requiring a person under arrest to be brought before the court to determine whether the government has the right to continue detaining them. People didn't always have that right, and could be held indefinitely without a trial by jury of their peers.

Habeas Corpus resulted from what is now known as Magna Carta clause 39, and may be one of the reasons the prisoners of the war against terror are held in Guantanamo Bay - it is our military base in Cuba and 'technically' is said to not fall under such laws.  (To be strictly fair, our law of habeas corpus can be specifically suspended in cases of rebellion, invasion, and public safety.)

May 17, 1215 - London opens gates to barons (with at least 1,187 knights)

June 15, 1215 - King John sets his seal to Magna Carta

June 17, 1215 - barons sign their vow to enforce it

June 19, 1215 - barons renew their oaths of fealty to King John

July 19, 1215 - A formal document to record the agreement was created by the royal chancery: this was the original Magna Carta. Copies were created and distributed around England, however only four copies are known to still exist today, one of which is on display in our National Archives in Washington, D.C.

August 24, 1215 - Pope Innocent III issues a papal bull declaring Magna Carta null and void.

November 12, 1216 - Magna Carta abbreviated, reissued by John's heir, King Henry III. 

England is planning a great 800th anniversary celebration for Magna Carta in 2015 - sure wish I could be there!


Matthew Strickland, ‘Enforcers of Magna Carta (act. 1215–1216)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press. [, accessed 13 June 2013]

'Featured Documents', National Archives, [, accessed 13 June 2013]

'Magna Carta', Wikipedia, [, accessed 13 June 2013]

Treasures in Full: Magna Carta, 'Timeline', British Library, [, accessed 13 June 2013]

Friday, April 5, 2013

Dictionary of Medieval Knighthood and Chivalry

Arrived today from Friends of Books, Volume one of two: concepts and terms. Volume two, on persons, places and events, is on the way.

Bouncing up and down in my chair, I opened the box and pulled out a thick book to an accompaniment of goose-bumps.  As I cracked it open at random spots, I could tell it would not disappoint. Although the new version of this scholarly work is priced at $118.75 and up, my used library version was much less, and still in good condition.  If there are any equivalent books on this arcane subject, I am not aware of them.  At 604 pages, the volume covers concepts and terms from the years 1050 to 1400 thoroughly.  Every glance at a page shows me the work of an author in love with his subject, a work fifteen years in the making.

This has been a difficult year for me, physically, but rewards like today make it all worth the effort.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Found: Sir Walter Giffard's correct coat of arms

After more searching, I have found what is the correct coat of arms for Walter Giffard.  It is not a blue background with silver lions, but a red background with silver lions (the blue shield is a later, cadet branch of his family).  His blazon may be found in several books, including the authoritative Sir Bernard Burke, "The general armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales:", copyright 1864.

Blazon: gules three lions passant in pale argent

see the image for Walter Giffard's Coat of Arms at 

Genealogy Ancestral Family Trees  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Love Castles? Must See These!

I have a passion for Medieval history, and that includes castles.  Want to know more than just 'oh, that is a pretty castle'? Curious about how people lived in their castles, what they did while they were there? Have an itch to know how castles were built?

Philip Davis has had a life-long passion for castles, and he has created the most comprehensive website on castles I have found.

See GATEHOUSE for answers to your questions about castles: who made them, how they were constructed, who tore them down, who rebuilt them; what archeological investigation has found at individual sites; where exactly they are located and so much more. Gatehouse is deep and extensive for factual information, including a comprehensive list of licenses to crenelate. Images of castles are from a bird's eye view. [For photographs of castles, see other websites such as Wikipedia or Castles of Wales, etc.]

Among the most exciting discoveries I have made in my investigations is that many of our ancestors were not only warriors, they were statesmen. They were not only capable of besieging a castle, they were capable of building one. The narrow view of the Medieval knight as a brutal and ignorant fighter who knows how to do only one thing is proven wrong over and over again, in the multitude of records showing how they built, they protected, they preserved.

Below is a modern picture of the remaining shell keep of Cardiff Castle, Wales, which was rebuilt in stone circa 1136 by Sir Robert earl of Gloucester, my 25th times great-grandfather.

Photograph by Jvhertum 1 Dec 2012, from Wikimedia at
 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported