13 May 2009, Vol. 12, No. 5
Table of Contents
Using RootsWeb
Genealogy Tip
Bottomless Mailbag:
Readers Write In
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
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RootsWeb Review Archives
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Using Rootsweb

By Mary Harrell-Sesniak
"Genealogy is not just a pastime; it's a passion."

The Digital Genealogist – A Look at File Formats

During natural and unnatural disasters, documents are always lost. But they don't need to be, if time is taken to scan and create a digital copy that you can transmit far away.  It's not enough to store backups on one's own computer – it's paramount that copies be shared with others so in the event of that unthinkable computer loss, you'll be able to retrieve these backups.

Decisions, Decisions
As I see it there are two basic choices for starting on your journey of preserving your documents.  Should you scan or take a picture?  This decision is likely made based on what equipment you already have available but keep in mind the type of records you are preserving and what files you want as the end result.

The choice of a camera setting or scanning format really depends upon the need for resolution, disk space and portability – and whether one image or page needs to be attached to another (for example, a book or wedding album). Taking a high quality picture is best if you want to preserve a book, whereas scanning a wedding license would likely give you a better result than taking a picture.  Either way you choose make sure to consult your owner’s manual as each scanner has a different process for scanning, and each camera has different capabilities, since you want to make the most of the resources you have. 

Next on your journey is deciding what file format you should use.  It becomes a little difficult when you are simply trying to figure out what the file extensions mean - PDF, PNG, JPEG, TIFF, etc, it seems like another language!  Once you are more comfortable with what the file types are and why you may want to use this one versus that one you’ll be equipped to complete your journey.

Multiple page documents
To scan collections of images or books, try Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF).  There are many free software options you can use to create a PDF formatted document.  One great thing about PDF documents is that they are pretty universal and can be opened by most computer users regardless of the software that they have on their computer – this makes sharing documents in this format very convenient.

If you have purchased a book reader, such as Amazon's Kindle, you can scan to a PDF and convert to the reader format (you'll need to purchase software) so your back-up is portable.  For all of you who are book readers, these popular upcoming electronic devices are lightweight and about the size of over-sized paperbacks.  They are easily toted – but are limited in sharing documents with others, who don't have the same technology. 

Single images
Images or single pages of books can be scanned or photographed in varying formats. Some formats never lose resolution upon enlarging, but most do – the trade-off being large files that waste disk space or loss of quality.  In order to retain quality without gigantic images, the scanner or camera will use compression techniques to produce a “lossy” or “lossless” format (partial or no loss of quality).

Lossless compression retains all information from the original image, and lossy compression makes allowances through calculations (algorithms). For example, rather than analyze every pixel in an image, patterns may be noted, and emulated upon enlarging. Loss of quality (color or contrast) is minimal, if the enlargement is not too dramatic.

File Type Extensions:
An extension designating a particular file type is added after a document / image name.  Keeping a reference guide to what these formats are will be helpful when deciding how you want to save your documents.


“Bitmaps”, an early format, are rarely recommended, due to size and quality issues.


The “Graphics Interchange Format”, popular for web pages, compresses images from millions of colors to 256 or less (not advised for full color images.)


Also known as JPEG, the “Joint Photographic Expert Group” format offers lossy compression options, and is a widely supported Web format. Generally produces quality images, although minor portions of the original are discarded.


The “Portable Network Graphic” format, an improvement over GIF, offers compression, transparency and the progressive loading of images. Resizing is reversible, since a mostly lossless format is produced by identifying patterns. Increasingly popular format.


The “Photoshop Data / Document” format is proprietary to Adobe. One major advantage is layering, which allows enhancement of one area of a picture, without affecting another. Once saved, the image cannot be reverted, so save backups in other formats (ex. TIFF). Adobe Photoshop is widely used by professionals and Adobe Photoshop Elements is a lower-cost, but high quality product.


Similar to PSD, this is “Paint Shop Pro's” proprietary format.


RAW format is determined by camera settings. In theory, the output is lossless and has an advantage over TIFF.  But since manufacturers supply their own software, the image may not be viewable in other graphic programs.


The “Tagged information file format” is a flexible, lossless format used in publishing and high quality digitization. Files sizes are large, as most images are not compressed. Not recommended for websites.

For more information on file formats, review these RootsWeb pages:

The Pastfinder of South Lake County, Florida:

Enhancing Archival Photographs

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Genealogy Tip

By Joan Young

Attending Genealogy Conferences

Over the years I've been lucky in that I've had the opportunity to attend many genealogy conferences. A few were national, others regional, and many on the local level. Conferences offer an opportunity to attend programs on topics about which you wish to gain a more in-depth understanding, as well as those about which you know nothing. There are workshops and lectures where you can choose to stay within one track of subject matter covering related areas of research (for example: German or Irish research) or choose from a variety of topics. Banquets and luncheons allow you to socialize in person with your online genealogy friends and mentors.

Conferences generally offer an exhibit area where you can browse and shop for genealogical publications, products, and software (often meeting the authors or creators of the products you are considering purchasing). The exhibit area also provides the opportunity to explore company booths and preview new features being added at Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, and other genealogy companies. New features and products are often scheduled for introduction at large genealogy conferences.

Two important annual national conferences are the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/  and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference. http://www.fgs.org/index.php  

There are also a variety of regional conferences such as the New England Regional Genealogical Conference http://www.nergc.org/ and special interest conferences like the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy (IAJGS) http://www.philly2009.org/  

Contact your local genealogical society or historical society and you may find conferences close to home. It doesn't matter whether you live in the USA, Australia, England or elsewhere – I am sure you will find a conference in your area tailored to your research interests and your desire to network with others having similar interests.

Perhaps you would enjoy combining a vacation with the learning experience and camaraderie of a conference? Watch for announcements of genealogy cruises and trips. Cruises and trips may be geared to researching ancestors from a geographic area or even to those using a specific genealogy software program.

While you can learn much about family history research via the Internet, attendance at genealogical conferences enhances the learning experience and helps you become a more competent, knowledgeable, and well-rounded researcher. Plus...they are fun! Keep an eye on Cyndi's List Events listings for more information about upcoming conferences and seminars in your area.  http://www.cyndislist.com/events.htm

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Connecting Across the Pond

My father's side of the family immigrated to the US from Great Britain to Pennsylvania toward the end of the 1800s. My mother’s side came from Prussia just prior to WWI. I put out a "shotgun" announcement on the internet to everyone with our family name. You would think that with a name like EADE this would be a fairly easy task – I was amazed at how many possible relatives there were out there.

I was fortunate to find three cousins. One was living in Cornwall, Great Britain, another in Canada, and the third in New Zealand. Between them and my own efforts, we have verified my (our) lineage back to the mid 1500s (Paternal AND Maternal). My cousin in Cornwall has supplied me with copies of many family records from the British files. I have also found a number of shirt-tail relatives through this effort and have found one lady who is related on BOTH my father’s fathers and father’s mother’s side of the line.

Information prior to the mid 1500s is murky. I encountered one family with SIX different spellings of EADE - one for each of the children. Evidently literacy was not a big thing back then. Whoever recorded the birth spelled the name the way it sounded to them.

I have a lot of work to do on my mother's side of the family. Her mother’s name was Smith and HER mother's name was Snyder. Their families had anglicized the family names from the original Germanic names - Schneider to Snyder and Schmidt to Smith.  I understand that somewhere in the line she had a Von Rath that changed to Rathvon. There is also at least one Dornsife in the family.

Some interesting things came out of this research, including the dual marriage of twin Eade boys marrying twin girls from another family on the same day.

William Eade
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Bottomless Mailbag: Readers Write In
A Thank You to Volunteers

I would like to tell you about a brick wall and the lady who helped knock it down. I had been stuck for many years researching my Ridgeway line. I could only get as far as the 1860 census, where all of the family was listed by their initials.  I found a M A Ridgway in AL in 1860 and thought, "Bingo! Here is my relative."  Was I wrong!  This M A was a Michael A Ridgway from Tallapoosa County AL.  At the same time I was looking for an M A Ridgeway in Butler County AL.  Two M A Ridgeways in the same state at the same time?

I wrote to the Historical Society in Butler County, to see if they could find anything on this family.  I had found the info on the other M A previously.  Not hearing anything, I figured there was nothing to be found.  Was I wrong again.  A lady from the Historical Society, named Judy Taylor, emailed me that she had found some info, and asked if I would like all that she found.  Of course I said, yes.  When I received the information, it opened the brick wall.  She had found the probated will of M A's father, naming the parents and all the children's names.  Jackpot.  My M A is also a Michael A Ridgeway.  He was the son of William Ridgeway and Susannah, and William was listed as the son of a Richard Ridgeway from South Carolina.  The info Judy sent was an eye opener and of course caused more questions to be formed as usual, but without it, I would still be stuck.

Many thanks to her, and all the volunteers out there, who give of their time to help those of us who drive them crazy with our requests. THANK YOU!

Barbara Germer in Rhome, Texas

Great Grandpa Was Sentenced to Hang

During my youth, growing up in a small southern town, I heard the oft-repeated family legend that my great-grandfather had "killed a man with a lightard knot in an argument over a cow."  No one seemed to know the details beyond that, except that after his conviction for murder, "his wife rode all over the county in a buggy getting a petition signed, and the governor pardoned him."  Needless to say, this was rich fare for an inquisitive young fellow, and I resolved to one day find out more about my great-grandpa's case.

I eventually found the transcript of the case in the state archives. The facts were that he had indeed killed a man in an argument, but it was with a pistol in the courtyard of a bar near the courthouse after a court case in which he and his victim were adversaries in a dispute over a piece of land. He was sentenced to hang for murder, but a jury irregularity necessitated a re-trial.

I could not find the transcript of that trial, but I posted queries on internet genealogy sites, and one day I received a call from a man who thought he was descended from the man my great-grandfather had killed.  He had found and shared the transcript of the second trial with me.  In this trial, my great-grandfather was once more found guilty and sentenced to hang, and was sent to jail awaiting the fateful date.  The only other record I found was of a vote taken in the state legislature on a bill which had been submitted to pardon him.  A slim majority voted in the affirmative.  I'm grateful.  For 11 years later he had a son which became my maternal grandfather. 

I have searched for a record of the "petition," but to no avail.  Perhaps it is in the governor's records of the time, or it could have been sent to a legislator, or there may never have been a petition at all.

Not surprisingly, not all of my relatives were happy about my confirming the family legend, or knowing the full facts.  Some of them would have preferred that the skeleton remain in the closet!

This was my first and best lesson of how the facts can become distorted in being passed down from generation to generation, and how important it is to take what one finds during research with a grain of salt until documentation is found to verify it.

Paul Reeves in Georgia

Looking For Grandfather

Although I approached my dad a number of times about his father, he never shared any information about him with me.  Nearly 20 years after my dad's death, I felt a need to find details about my missing grandfather. I contacted my aunt, my dad's oldest sister, and asked about her father. She was only 13 when he apparently left home, but she readily told me what little she knew about him. Her scant information was the spark that kindled my interest in Genealogy, and it still burns today at nearly 80 years of age.

Yes, I found my grandfather, dead of course, and his story was one I knew my aunt would not want to know. I omitted the unpleasant portion, and told her I knew where he was buried and when he died. She immediately began  making plans to visit his grave, but she became ill, and died shortly thereafter. She was in her 90's.

Ken Caye in Utah

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 September 2009 Salt Lake City Research Trip
31 AUGUST – 5 SEPTEMBER 2009 – 10% Discount for Early Registration

Join others from 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)

CLICK HERE Or call TOLL FREE at 877-402-6846

Federation of Genealogical Societies
2-5 September 2009

Mark your calendars for the national Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 2009 annual conference -- Little Rock Convention Center, Little Rock, Arkansas, 2-5 September 2009. With the theme “Passages Through Time,” this year’s conference offers 160 lectures and workshops by nationally distinguished genealogists and experts in local history. Topics range from African-American family history to frontier religion, research in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region, and the land records of Oklahoma territory. For more information about the conference, including the conference program, visit the FGS website.

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


Submit Your Genealogical Data to a RootsWeb Database.

New/Updated Freepages by Individuals


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

AHSGR = American Historical Society of Germans From Russia
ALHN = American Local History Network
CAR = Children of the American Revolution
DAR = Daughters of the American Revolution
SAR = Sons of the American Revolution
UDC = United Daughters of the Confederacy
USD1812 = United States Daughters of the War of 1812
USGW = United States GenWeb


  • alechs — Etowah County (AL) Historical Society
  • cahcmcar — Hiram C. Meek Society (CA), CAR
  • cabcdar — Bakersfield Chapter (CA) DAR
  • dechcdar — Colonel Haslet Chapter (DE) DAR
  • garcgs — Rockdale Co. (GA) Genealogical Society
  • ilduvcw — Illinois Department, Daughters of Union Veterans Civil War
  • ilgedscv — Lt. George E. Dixon Camp #1962, (IL) Sons of Confederate Veterans
  • ilwinntp — Winnebago County (IL) USGW Tombstone Project
  • ilmpcdar — Midewin Prairie Chapter (IL) DAR
  • inpchs — Portage Community (IN) Historical Society
  • kysar — Kentucky Society SAR
  • kysdcdar — Samuel Davies Chapter (KY) DAR
  • lawcdar — Wharton Chapter (LA) DAR
  • mdkent — Kent County (MD) USGW
  • mdqueena — Queen Anne County (MD) USGW
  • mdtalbot — Talbot County (MD) USGW
  • nhcalste — Alstead City (NH) USGW
  • nhcheshi — Cheshire County (NH) USGW
  • njsussgc — Sussex County (NJ) Genealogy Club
  • ohwwcdar — Wooster Wayne Chapter (OH) DAR
  • ordchs — Douglas County (OR) Historical Society
  • ohduvcw — Ohio Department, Daughters of Union Veterans Civil War
  • tnnkhs — North of Kingsport (TN) Historical Society
  • tnrcsrp — Reedy Creek Settlement (TN) Restoration Project
  • txjatusd — Captain James Asbury Tait Chapter (TX) USD1812
  • txlscdac — LaSalle Chapter (TX) Daugher of the American Colonists
  • txreludc — Robert E. Lee 186 (TX) UDC
  • utinterm — Intermountain Chapter (UT) AHSGR
  • vachedar— Chesapeake Chapter (VA) DAR
  • vafaugu3 — Fauquier County (VA) ALHN
  • vaprodar — Providence Chapter (VA) DAR
  • vaprwill — Prince William County (VA) ALHN
  • vtpasds — Poultney Area (VT) St. David's Society
  • wanpcdar — Narcissa Prentiss Chapter (WA) DAR


  • ausrmug — Australian RootsMagic User Group
  • bmusidar — Somers Isles Chapter (Bermuda) DAR
  • cancpcdar — Canadian Prairies Chapter (Winnipeg) DAR
  • engchs2 — England Cheshire Look Up Exchanage
  • jpnscdar — Sasebo Chapter (Tokyo, Japan) DAR

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 ASamuel Davies Chapter (Kentucky) DAR website is at

Request a Freepage (Free Web Account).

New Mailing Lists

New Surname Mailing Lists

New Regional Mailing Lists

  • AUS-QLD-WYNNUM — A mailing list for anyone with a genealogical interest in the districts of Wynnum, Manly, and Lota in Queensland, Australia.

New Ethnic or Special Interest Mailing Lists

  • None

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.

The Darkroom

My 3rd great grandfather, Chief Joseph Delisle, is pictured with five other Mohawk chiefs of the Kahnawake’s Council of Chiefs: 1840-1889. I’ve had this photo for a long time and only recently located information on the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) historical website telling me about him.

Joyce Newell Sundheim

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
Unusual Children’s Names in the Census

I found the following funny names in a 1900 census enumeration in Macon County, Georgia:

Durrough, Mother, head, age 31
-      Big Baby, daughter, age 9
-      Sweet Heart, son, age 7

[Editor’s Note:  Most name indexes list the head of household with significant variations.]

Thanks to Brian A. Salmons in Orlando Florida
A Marriage License Anecdote

While I was in Butler Co., KY looking for marriages on the James and Butler families and found one that caused me a belly laugh.  The clerk had written on the marriage license that "both bride and groom old and ugle."  It was a second marriage for both the parties.  James Butler, born around 1806, was marrying his first cousin on his mother's side, Elvira Searcy Bracken Turner.  I was so distracted by the note that I failed to record the marriage date but have gotten it since - July 1, 1861.  

Thanks to Glenda Potts Thacker
An Occupation For a Baby?

In the 1860 Monroe County, VA census Rufus Houchins is listed as clerk in store. His wife is Margaret.  Their one year old daughter Laura has an occupation listed:  CRIER.    Someone managed to find humor in a fussy baby.  

Thanks to Melissa Ball
Cause of Death

While going through West Virginia Death Certificates for Wyoming County, I found one of our Green family members.  The immediate cause of death was listed as "Cremation."  The cause of injury was listed lower on the form as "house destroyed by fire."

Thanks to Roy Raymer

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: 13 May 2009, Vol. 12, No. 5