9 July 2008, Vol. 11, No. 17
Table of Contents
Editor’s Desk: News and Notes
Using RootsWeb
Genealogy Tip
Bottomless Mailbag:
Readers Write In
Ancestor Seekers
What’s New: Databases, Freepages, and Mailing Lists
The Darkroom
You Found It
Subscriptions, Submissions,
Advertising, and Reprints
RootsWeb Resources
RootsWeb Helpdesk
Check here for frequently asked questions about RootsWeb.
RootsWeb Newsroom
Check here for the latest RootsWeb news.
RootsWeb Store
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RootsWeb Spotlight
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RootsWeb Review Archives
Check here for previous editions.
Editor's Desk: News and Notes
Locating Free Canadian Resources
If you're looking for a blog that captures primarily free Canadian resources, be sure to take a look here.
Need a DAR Lookup?

Think you might have an ancestor who served in the American Revolutionary War (1775-83)? Would you like to know whether your ancestor is listed with the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) in the "Patriot Index?" A helpful group of organized DAR volunteers monitor the RootsWeb DAR Message Board every day and welcome lookup requests. Include your Revolutionary War-era ancestor's first and last name, spouse's name (if known), dates of birth and death, and state of residence. You need not be interested in joining the NSDAR to request a lookup.

Click here to request your search.

Book Notice

Friends of the Pilgrims Series
By Susan E. Roser

Early Descendants of Henry Cobb of Barnstable, Massachussets is the first in this series of ten books documenting the early generations of pilgrims, and is now available. It includes full transcripts of wills for the first three generations of Cobb’s descendants, along with biographical data and selected gravestone pictures. For more information on this book and this series click here.

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Using Rootsweb
By Mary Harrell-Sesniak
"Genealogy is not just a pastime, it's a passion."
International Genealogical Symbols

Sooner or later, your research may take you over an ocean, and when it does, be prepared—you may receive information formatted differently, and it may contain unfamiliar symbols.

For instance, what do an “*”, an “o”, and a “+” remind you of? Use your imagination to see an egg, a ring, and a sword, and you will understand why some of these symbols represent birth, engagement, and death in various countries. And these symbols, which are commonplace in parts of Europe and South Africa, are becoming more frequent in America.

And they are an efficient way to illustrate relationships. Why write more than you need!

One of my first encounters with genealogical symbols was when I received the following report from a German researcher, who assisted in transcribing German records regarding my Miesse family. Johann Daniel “Daniel” Miesse (nee Müsse) was born in Elsoff (abbreviated as Els) in Wittgenstein, Germany, on 28 JAN 1743. The report read as follows:

1.         Müsse, Daniel (Johann Daniel)
            * Els, 28.01.1743

2.         Müsse, Daniel (Johann Daniel)
            * Els, -02.03.1694
            + Els, 28.01.1772
            & Els, 21.02.1736

3.         Gernand, Elisabeth (Anna Elisabeth)
            * Els, -19.11.1708
            + Els, 03.12.1767

Notice that I used the common format of day/month/year to express Johann’s birthday, since the American month/day/year style is contrary to what is used in most parts of the world.

This is an important nuance in the second item of the report, regarding Daniel’s father (also known as Johann Daniel). He was born on 2 MAR 1694—not February 3, as many Americans would tend to record.

Keep this difference in mind if you take any international trips. Many an American has gotten reservations mixed up, not realizing that the month/day/year format is the exception, and not the rule, in most countries.

Daniel’s mother was Anna Elisabeth Gernand; she was recorded in item three of the report. The marriage union on 21 FEB 1736 is designated by an “&” in her husband's record. And now that you can read this document, note that she died on 3 DEC 1767 and that her husband died on 28 JAN 1772—by coincidence, their son’s birthday. The son ended up immigrating to America about this time and served in the American Revolution. One has to wonder if his father’s passing was an influence.

In this report, only a few genealogical symbols were used, but occasionally you will spot others. 

For example, an engagement can be symbolized with two rings, or “oo”, and if rings are separated (“o o”), it indicates that the couple has separated. A divorce can be illustrated with a line or slash between the rings, either as “%”, “o/o”, or “o|o”.

Since symbols vary slightly from country to country, I constructed this chart to help identify the more common ones. Some of them are quite creative.

Genealogical Symbols

Status / Union




~ or ~~

Wave or waves (water)

Born or Birth



Born out of wedlock / illegitimate


Egg not from union


[] or [ ]

Box or coffin

Buried (alternate)

#box or =B1

Box indicates a coffin

Comes after

greater than (e.g., birth, marriage)

Comes before

less than



Communion cup



Cross or dagger

Died – no further issue / line extinct


Line died out after person died

Died – stillborn


Cross with an egg

Died in battle


Crossed swords

Died in battle from wounds


Cross with crossed swords

Marital status – divorced

o/o, % or o|o

Rings divided

Marital status – married


Two rings

Marital status – married (alternate)


And or together

Marital status – married (South Africa, first or second marriage)

X or XX

And or together

Marital status – married, but separated

o o

Two rings separated

Marital status – unmarried, common law or illegitimate


Rings separated

Marital status –divorced (South Africa)


Divided union

Marital status –engaged



Marital status – first or second

I oo or II oo

First or second rings

Click here for an image of the above table.

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Genealogy Tip
By Joan Young
Research Clues from the Faith of Our Fathers

Your ancestors' religion can provide valuable clues about their lives. Of course, church and synagogue records offer factual data regarding baptisms, marriages, and deaths (quite often at an earlier date than these events are documented in civil records). They may also offer clues to relationships (baptismal sponsors for example). If you are really lucky, your ancestors' religious records may even provide personal information that will flesh out your understanding of them. Quaker minutes and Moravian memoirs (lebenslauf) contain such detailed information.

Where do you turn if you don't know which religious denomination your ancestors belonged to?

1) Check obituaries. Obituaries often mention a church or religious individual who officiated at the funeral service.

2) Locate marriage records. If you have the name of the minister, priest, or rabbi who married your ancestors, try to learn which congregation he served in. Many religious denominations have archives where records are maintained. LDS Family History Centers offer church records on film. Local historical societies also maintain church records.

2) Look for cemetery records. Many cemeteries are (or were originally) associated with a church. Public cemeteries often have sections where those with a specific religious affiliation are buried. Ask the cemetery association or sexton about such sections. Religious symbols on tombstones may also provide a clue.

3) If you have a family Bible, determine whether it is a Roman Catholic Vulgate Bible or a Protestant Bible.

4) Check to see if your ancestors attended a college or school that is affiliated with a specific religion. 

5) Research the locality where your ancestors are from—it might offer a hint as to their religion. Some areas were settled by members of a particular religion or one religion may be dominant in that area. Persecuted religious groups can often be found by studying their migration patterns.

6) Study family customs and traditions; they often have a basis in religious practices.

7) Research deeds and bequests in wills. Your ancestors may have donated land for a church building or left a bequest to a religious institution.

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Message Board Is the Key to Finding Details About a Confederate Ancestor

My great-great-grandfather was Alexander McKindree Reynolds from Marion, Perry County, Alabama. A family story passed down for years is that Reynolds was a Confederate soldier who was killed in the Civil War at Stones River (Murfreesboro Battlefield) and buried in a mass grave for unknown Confederate soldiers. It probably originated because he was never heard from after that battle. I accepted this story from an aunt who had been a genealogist for forty years.

I have been to the Murfreesboro Battlefield multiple times and the park rangers have never been able to identify a soldier by that name in that battle. I also performed numerous searches for Reynolds (using variations of his name) on the Internet—including Civil War sites such as the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSSS), which in 2004 was still being populated with data. I also searched in several libraries for his name, including the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the Allen County Public Library, but I couldn’t find his unit or anything about him.

In October 2004, I posted a query on a RootsWeb message board asking if anyone could help identify Reynolds. Two hours (!) later, I received an e-mail reporting that someone had responded to my query. When I went to the message board, there was a message reporting that A. M. Reynolds was a Sergeant with “B” Company of the 28th Alabama Infantry with a brief summary of some of the 28th’s history. Alan Pitts, a Civil War specialist, who posted this information about Reynolds, added that if I wanted his Civil War record I could order it through him, which I did, mostly out of gratitude because he had helped me. Knowing Reynolds’s unit, I found his name on a website for the 28th Alabama Infantry that had not shown up in my Internet searches.

It turned out that in September 2004, the last one million soldiers were entered into the CWSSS, including my great-great-grandfather. In that system, an A. M. Reynolds is listed with an alternate name of A. M. Randall, which compounded the search difficulties. I sent for a copy of this person’s official Civil War service record and looked through the eleven card images in the record. It does appear that A.M. Randall and A. M. Reynolds are one and the same person. His records indicate he was captured 5 January 1863 as a POW at Stones River; worked as a nurse at the Confederate hospital in Murfreesboro; was transferred to Nashville on 28 May 1863; sent to Louisville, Kentucky, on 3 June 1863; and forwarded to Baltimore on 8 June 1863 for a prisoner exchange. The last entry states that Reynolds was paroled at Fort McHenry, Maryland, and sent to Fortress Monroe, Virginia, for exchange on 11 June 1863. Finally, in the remarks section on that card, it says “Died on board Steamer ‘Utica’ 12 June 1863. Buried from[?] Chesapeake Hospital.” All cards indicate he was a Sergeant, Company B, 28th Alabama Regiment.

The final question to be answered for me was where he was buried. Could I find his grave somewhere near Fort Monroe, Virginia? Just minutes after reading the message board response to my posting, I accessed http://www.interment.net to search Veterans Cemeteries. Remarkably, I found a gravesite record for A. M. Reynolds, Sgt., B Company, 28th Alabama, in the Hampton National Cemetery, Hampton, Virginia. The following summer, I made a special trip to Hampton National Cemetery, found my great-great-grandfather’s grave, and took photos. Later that summer, I made a presentation to several cousins who had heard the same erroneous story about Reynolds early in their lives from our aunt. What a happy occasion when I was able to explain my search and, especially, to show them the photos of his grave.

Thanks to the RootsWeb message boards for helping to get this family mystery solved
Everett Stonebraker
Finding Cousins Across the Globe

I put queries on your site and sometime later had an e-mail from a young man whose mother is my first cousin in Alberta. Through her I have had contact with first cousins in Utah and Arizona. I knew a little about them, but only through my father's research notes.

I also heard from a second or third cousin in Australia. His great-grandfather and my grandfather were brothers. Then I heard from another second or third cousin in England, whose great-grandfather was also a brother of my grandfather. The Internet makes this a small world. Thanks.

Madge, Ontario

Did someone find your genealogy query on the message boards and come to your rescue? Did you find five more generations of your family in WorldConnect? We want to hear your genealogy success stories. Send your family history triumphs to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

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Bottomless Mailbag: Readers Write In
Using an Ott Light

I was in the middle of attempting to transcribe an obituary, dated 1927. The photocopy was very, very dark. The nice volunteer that obtained it for me tried to get a number of better copies, but all were dark.

I actually put the obituary aside for several weeks, not willing to deal with the chore of transcribing it when I could barely read it.

But, tonight, I decided I really needed the data and set about typing.

I got to one particularly tough spot and for some reason, lifted it up to my Ott light. Imagine my surprise when I could read the entire thing, easily.

I asked several of my friends, and no one had ever heard of this before.

I am sure there are researchers that are aware of this, but, I still thought I would share it.

The bright light from the Ott light did the trick—the dark background disappeared and the letters from the print popped right out at me.

Use DeadFred.com to Identify People in Pictures

In the June issue of the Review, Ginger Ewing wrote about an ongoing project of hers to identify a collection of photos from a school in her community. I have a suggestion for her.

An excellent way to identify the people is to post the pictures on DeadFred.com. This great website has helped many people find out who's who in photos and yearbooks. Just go to the website and follow their instructions for uploading photos.

Vicki, Utah
Getting Excited about Genealogy

If someone told me twenty years ago I would be doing genealogy research, I would have said, “Yeah, right.”

One of my mother's cousins was updating his family history in 1998, which inspired me to start on my father's family. One of my biggest finds was the military pay/pension records on my great-grandfather, who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War. Later, my father and I visited the cemetery where great-grandpa is buried and found his grave. This was closure on only one of many aspects of my project.

RootsWeb and many other sites have been of great assistance to me in this endeavor. But my greatest memory from this project was being able to produce information on my family for my father prior to his death last year. I still have much to learn, but what a wonderful journey.

Finding a Jones

Think you can’t find your Jones ancestors?

Recently I found an English great-uncle married a Jones girl, and I thought I would not bother trying to research such a common and difficult name. But I decided to give it one try and see what came up. Lo and behold, she did! Her name? Clara Constance Catherine Julia Jones. Fortunately there were not too many Joneses by that name.

Edward, Florida

Have a story, question, genealogy resource, or tip you'd like to share with RootsWeb Review readers? Send it to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

Editor's note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the editor or of RootsWeb.com.

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Ancestor Seekers Tenth Salt Lake City Research Trip

Join others throughout the U.S.A. and Canada for the dream genealogy vacation. Spend a whole week at the Family History Library, accessing the world's largest collection of genealogical records with help and advice from accredited genealogist professionals. Opening and closing socials, theater trip, and other optional activities!

"Thank you all for such a wonderful experience." (Marsha, Iowa)

Visit http://www.ancestorseekers.com/slcrt/.

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What's New: Databases, Freepages, and Mailing Lists
New User-contributed Databases at RootsWeb

VIRGINIA, King George County. King George, Virginia, 1890 alumni.
 16 records. Contributed by Paula Lucy Delosh.

VIRGINIA, Stafford County. Falmouth 1894 alumni.
13 records. Contributed by Paula Lucy Delosh.

These databases have come online recently. They are searchable, but not browseable.

Submit Your Genealogical Data to a RootsWeb Database.

New/Updated Freepages by Individuals

Alexander McKee Family — This website presents the migration generation of the Alexander McKee family of Randolph County, Illinois.

If you have a new or substantially revised freepage at RootsWeb and would like to see it mentioned here, send the URL, the title, and a BRIEF description, including major surnames, to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

If your genealogy- or history-related site is located somewhere other than RootsWeb, you can add the link to RootsWeb here.

Request a Freepage (Free Web Account).

New/Updated Freepages by Counties, States, and Historical Societies

AHGP = The American History and Genealogy Project
DAR= Daughters of the American Revolution
UDC = United Daughters of the Confederacy


  • azsocdar — Arizona Society Daughters of the American Revolution
  • calosan — Los Angeles County (CA)—area around Pasadena
  • casiskgs — Genealogical Society of Siskiyou County (CA)
  • ilcalho2 — Calhoun County (IL) AHGP
  • ilgreen2 — Greene County (IL) AHGP
  • ilpike2 — Pike County (IL) AHGP
  • indelhst — History of Delaware County (IN)
  • lalifewr — Louisiana Life Writers
  • kyboyle2 — Boyle County (KY)
  • njswdugs — Swackhamer/Dufford (NJ) Genealogical Society
  • ohclevel — Cleveland Chapter (OH)—Pursuing Our Italian Name Together
  • orchedar — Chemeketa Chapter (OR) DAR
  • orwildar — Willamette Chapter (OR) DAR
  • txemcfrp — East Montogomery County (TX) Family Research Project
  • txtravpt — Lee's Travelers Chapter (TX) Children of the Confederacy (UDC)
  • utuvapg — Utah Valley Chapter (UT) Association of Professional Genealogists


  • engwyopc — West Yorkshire (England) Online Parish Clerks Project
  • netlapm — Leiden (Netherlands) American Pilgrim Museum
  • nzlwo — New Zealand, West Otago

Some of these Web pages might not be accessible yet. They are created by volunteers, so if one that interests you isn't up yet, please check again in a few days or next week.

Note that the ~[tilde] before the Web account name is required.
For example, the Genealogical Society of Siskiyou County (CA) website is at

Request a Freepage (Free Web Account).

New Mailing Lists

New Surname Mailing Lists

New Regional Mailing Lists

  • PORCION — A mailing list for discussing the Spanish land grants, called porcion. These land grants were located along the Rio Grande in south Texas.
  • WSGS-MEMBERS — A mailing list for members of the Washington State Genealogical Society (to notify them of the availability of the newsletter and other items).

New Ethnic or Special Interest Mailing Lists

  • BRANAM-DNA — This mailing list is for discussing and sharing information regarding DNA for the Branam surname and its variations.
  • DREAMWEAVER — A mailing list for discussing and sharing information regarding the Dreamweaver software program, which is a Web authoring tool.
  • ROSE-DNA — This mailing list is for discussing and sharing information regarding DNA for the Rose surname and its variations.
  • Y-DNA-HAPLOGROUP-E1B1 — A mailing list for discussing and sharing information regarding the Y-DNA-HAPLOGROUP-E1B1A.

To find or subscribe to a mailing list, or to search archived posts to more than 30,000 RootsWeb-hosted genealogy mailing lists, go here.

Request a Mailing List.

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The Darkroom

Although the quality of this photograph isn't very good, the subject matter—a suffrage or temperance meeting in Ventura County, California—is unusual. My Great-aunt Clara Horton Everett is sitting third from the left.

Submitted by Glenda Kent

For a chance to see your ancestor's photo in the RootsWeb Review, send it to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com. Make sure to include your name and a brief description of the photograph.

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You Found It
A Flowery Obituary

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the editor of the Methodist newspaper in our area wrote long and flowery obituaries of deceased members of the Methodist church. The one he wrote for the sister of my great-grandmother in August of 1900 was no exception. He was eloquent (and apparently correct) in his description of Sarah as a "good woman" whose convictions "were deep and abiding." He went on to say, "Her home from the beginning of her housekeeping has been the resting place for the ministers." Unfortunately, he continued with, "Many a weary itinerant has sat at the table spread by her hands and reposed in her bed chambers."

Thanks to Anne
Cause of Death?

I am in the process of extracting data from Rienzi Cemetery burial cards; Rienzi is one of the oldest cemeteries in our county. I stumbled across the following data on a burial card:
John B McDonald, age 92, died Mar 6, '41—cause of death: "Age Failure."
 (That was in 1941.)

Thanks to Tracy, Wisconsin

Found a funny name or humorous tidbit in old records, or an amusing entry in census, parish, church, or other records? Send these and other genealogy-related humor/humour items to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

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Permission to reprint articles from RootsWeb Review is granted unless specifically stated otherwise, provided:

  1. the reprint is used for non-commercial, educational purposes; and
  2. the following notice appears at the end of the article: Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 9 July 2008, Vol. 11, No. 17