12 May 2010, Vol. 13, No. 5
Table of Contents
Using RootsWeb
Genealogy Tip
Bottomless Mailbag:
Readers Write In
What’s New: Databases, Freepages, and Mailing Lists
Volunteer Opportunities
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 Store
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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.”

Word Processing and Genealogical Writing

Whether you're transcribing a historical document or writing a family history, a word processor can polish the finished product.

An entry-level program will suffice — but to make a document shine, a more sophisticated product, such as Microsoft Word or Open Office Writer, is required. Here are a few ideas to get started.

Transcribers will encounter words with archaic spellings, and if added to dictionaries, they will not be flagged for other documents. One solution is to create a customized dictionary, which can be disabled after a project is completed. After establishing the dictionary, give it an appropriate name, such as “Old English”. And when the spell checker presents an unrecognized word, all available lexicons will be displayed.

The steps in Microsoft Word (WD) and Open Office (OO) are similar:

OO:     Tools > Spelling and Grammar > Options > New
WD:     Office Button > Word Options > Proofing Options > Custom Dictionaries > New

Tip: Free dictionaries, such as those for foreign languages, may be available from manufacturer websites.

Text Flow and Pagination
Non-breaking characters: Documents display better when names and hyphenated dates are not split across two lines. You can prevent splitting from occurring if you replace regular spaces or dashes with non‑breaking options. Many programs use the same set of keystrokes, which require you to hold Ctrl and Shift at the same time, while pressing another character.

OO & WD:      Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar
OO & WD:      Ctrl+Shift+Hyphen

For example,

Straggling Paragraph Lines (widows and orphans): A single line of a paragraph left by itself on a separate page is undesirable. When it occurs at the top of a page, it is known as a widow, and when left on the preceding page, it is an orphan. To correct this, select the paragraph and follow this sequence,

OO:     Format > Paragraph > Text Flow Tab > Orphan or Widow Control
WD:     Format > Paragraph > Line and Page Breaks Tab > Widow / Orphan

Preventing Paragraph Splits: To keep a paragraph together, set the “Do not Split” feature, and if you wish to connect a heading line to a paragraph, change “Do not Split” to “Keep with Next”.

OO:     Format > Paragraph > Text Flow > Do not Split Paragraph
WD:     Format > Paragraph > Line and Page Breaks Tab > Do not Split

Footnotes & Endnotes
Genealogical proofs should include proper sourcing, either via footnotes or endnotes. Place the cursor at the appropriate place, and select,

OO:     Insert > Footnote/Endnote
WD:     Insert > Reference > Footnote [Select Footnotes or Endnotes]

Group projects offer unique challenges for shared documents. If editing control is passed to others, then the author needs a way to verify changes. Two methods for handling this, are comments and track changes.

Comments: Comments or notes are placed in the margin, and do not print with the document. Much like a post-em, the feature identifies the reviewer and adds a date stamp. Notes are edited by clicking on them.

OO:     Insert > Comment, or Ctrl+Alt+N
WD:     Review Tab > Comments > New Comment

Track Changes: Editors and authors use this feature while exchanging drafts. While editing, deletions appear crossed out and additions are apparent. Once the document is returned to the author, a process of accepting or rejecting the changes is followed.

OO:     Edit > Changes > Record or Accept or Reject.
WD:     Review Tab > Tracking Group > Track Changes

Tip: Other options for Track Changes include viewing a final markup or adding a password, so changes cannot be applied to finalized text. For more information, see instructions for Open Office and Word

Perhaps the most important feature of a genealogical publication is the index.

A simple index has two levels of grouping, such as surnames and given names. However, if you are indexing a family history with separate lineages, group each family under a third level.

To create an index you can start by highlighting an entry, which for names, is generally the given name. It is placed in the main entry field with the title after the name. The surname is then typed in the key or subentry field.

OO:     Insert > Index and Tables > Entry
Entry:               Thomas Rev.
1st Key.            Patterson
To view which entries have been indexed, select View > Field Shadings.
To modify an entry, right-click at the position where it was placed.
When done, create the Index from Insert > Insert Index and Tables.
WD:     References Tab > References > Mark Entry (and add any subentries) > Mark
Main Entry:       Thomas Rev.
Subentry:          Patterson
As an entry is added, Word adds an Index Entry field (XE).
When done, create the Index from Reverences > Index > Insert Index.

A similar process if followed for creating a Table of Contents. For additional instructions on indexing, see Word on the Microsoft website or Writer on the Open Office website.

Tip: Many repositories request that women be indexed twice, both under a maiden and married name.

Mary applied many of these features while writing her book, 500+ Revolutionary War Obituaries and Death Notices, Volume 1, available at Lulu.com, and in the near future, at Genealogical.com.

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Genealogy Tip

By Joan Young

The Social Security Death Index and Ordering SS-5 Copies Online

My August 2008 article covered using RootsWeb's Social Security Death Index (SSDI) database.  As a follow-up to my article I want to share a little more about the SSDI. 

The article explained the procedure for ordering copies of the original SS-5 by mail. While the form that generates a request letter is still available on RootsWeb's SSDI page, the Social Security Administration now has an online order process which promises a much faster turn-around time and greater ease of ordering via credit card.
The online order form is located on a secure server on the SSA Web site.  Both a photocopy of the original SS-5 or a computer extract called a "numident" may be ordered. As a rule, genealogists use an SS-5 because they want to learn the place of birth and/or the parents' names of the deceased account holder. The computer extract would usually not provide parents' names, so it would be of little value for genealogists if this is the information you are seeking.
Information obtained from the Social Security Administration based upon the SSDI is subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which applies to deceased individuals. You can find the FOIA guidelines here. In some cases, the Privacy Act may also apply. Information covered under the Privacy Act is discussed here. The Privacy Act covers the living as well as those individuals who may be presumed by the SSA to still be living.

The individuals found in the SSDI at RootsWeb are deceased; however, the parents who are identified on the SS-5 copy may still be living. The SSA will not release the parents' names unless the parents are proven to be deceased (you would be required to submit proof of death) or, based upon the information included in the SS-5, it could be presumed that the parents would currently be one hundred and twenty (or more) years old. This is the cut-off age the SSA uses at present when processing FOIA requests when there is no actual proof that a named individual is deceased.

Keeping the above guidelines in mind will be helpful in deciding whether it would be worthwhile to request an SS-5 copy from the SSA.  You will also be able to avoid needlessly paying for information that the SSA may not divulge under The Privacy Act. If the wage earner on the account would currently be under one hundred years of age the SSA is unlikely to release parental information where there is no proof of death on file for the parents.

Additional information in using the RootsWeb SSDI can also be found here:

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Reread Old Letters

I had been into genealogy in a small way when my husband and I moved to Australia from Ireland in 1987, so I had to correspond in writing with my relatives, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In 1990 I wrote to my aunt Rosie, my dad's youngest sister in England.  I asked her to share her memories of various family members. Aunt Rosie wrote back, telling me what she could remember, although at the time a lot of it didn't make sense to me. But of course I kept her letter.
About 6 months ago I re-read that letter and lo-and-behold, the information she had given me then, now made sense to me, nearly 20 years later!  In fact, because of it, I was able to trace 2 more grand-aunts, their husbands, and their 14 children. It was amazing!
Make sure to take out and reread that old correspondence now and again.

Thanks to Colette from the Canary Islands
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Bottomless Mailbag: Readers Write In
Informal Name Changes

My late husband's father (born 1911) was named Edwin Ernest Blandon, but at school one of his teachers -- apparently locally famous for never remembering what his pupils' names were -- had a habit of calling the children by names he thought fitted them, and he called Edwin by the name of John. When Edwin left college and entered the world of work, he did so with an old school friend, who always called him John too. It was through his friend that he met his future wife, Vera, and she always called him John. It was rather funny to attend family get-togethers and hear Vera refer to "John" and Edwin's sister mutter under her breath "Edwin!" Problems were somewhat compounded when Edwin and Vera named their son, my husband, Jonathan Edwin Blandon.

As both Edwin and Jonathan were keen bridge players and members of the same bridge clubs, things often got very confusing. However, when Vera died, Edwin announced that he no longer wished to be known as John, and the last few years of his life he returned to being known by everyone as Edwin, though not without his bridge-playing friends having to think before they spoke about him.

After my husband's death I remarried and found that my new father-in-law (born 1913) had the same problem.  The cause of his name change was more mysterious as he didn't remember how he came to be called by another, unrelated, name. He was christened Cyril, but was known to all (including his family) as Bob, so most people assumed his real name was Robert.

I've also seen a number of death notices and obituaries for people of a similar age that list a nickname by which a person (mostly male) was known in life. These are of the form John "Bertie" Smith. I wonder whether the generation of boys born in the early 1900s there was a habit of giving them a nickname unrelated to their real name.

Thanks to Laurie Kirby

Covered Headstones

A few years ago my wife and I visited an old Moravian cemetery that had rows of brown spots. On removing about an inch and a half of the sod we found headstones. We learned that Moravians often place their stones flat on the earth. Eventually the earth covers them over and they are, unintentionally I assume, protected from mowers. Because Moravian burials were grouped by sex (male, married women, unmarried women) and the burials are listed in Moravian publications in the order that they took place in each section, you can usually find a stone after a couple of tries. If you do this, don’t forget to repair your divots! More recent burials had the marked stones on top of larger flat bases that do not get covered by sod.

Thanks to Stacy B. C. Wood, Jr.

British Home Children Recognized by Canada

The government in Canada declared the year 2010 as “The Year of the British Home Child.”  This is the result of years of hard work and persistence by the descendants of these 100,000 unwanted children sent from the United Kingdom to Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

You can read about the plight of these children at a number of web sites, including http://www.britishhomechildren.org/ and http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~britishhomechildren/.

My great-grandparents were "Home Children."  Stanley LEWIS and Mary CORKILL were born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England ~1860.  They were shipped to Canada from the "Liverpool Sheltering Homes" in 1874.  They and Mary's 4 younger siblings went to different families in different towns in Nova Scotia. The two youngest were boys, 5 and 3 years old.

Thanks to Betty Fredericks

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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Register today for the 2010 Federation of Genealogy Societies’ Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, on August 18-21, co-hosted by the East Tennessee Historical Society and the Kentucky Historical Society.

The conference includes four days of family history classes for all levels of genealogists:

  • Focus on Societies, a track of sessions for society members and officers
  • Record types and research strategies
  • U.S. and British research
  • Ethnic and religious records
  • Technology, software, and DNA

The Exhibit Hall brings together vendors and societies from across the continent. You won’t want to miss this year’s conference in Knoxville!


ANCESTOR SEEKERS researchers at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City will search this vast collection of records from the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Ireland, England, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and other European countries. Friendly service, affordable prices.

For a no-obligation research assessment visit AncestorSeekers.com.

Or join us 25 - 30 OCTOBER 2010 for our 17th Salt Lake City Research Trip – the dream genealogy vacation!

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

TENNESSEE, Crockett County. Avery Cemetery,   30 records; Cristie Sanders Wright  

TENNESSEE, Crockett County. Center Methodist Church Cemetery 279 records; Cristie S Wright

TENNESSEE, Crockett County. Marlow Cemetery 57 records; Cristie Sanders Wright

TENNESSEE, Crockett County. Maury City Cemetery, Maury City, TN 263 records; Cristie Sanders Wright

TENNESSEE, Crockett County. Nance Church of Christ Cemetery 119 records; Cristie Sanders Wright

TENNESSEE, Crockett County. Thomas Williams Cemetery 88 records; Cristie Sanders Wright

TENNESSEE, Crockett County. TN, Crockett County,Tipton Cemetery 25 records; Cristie Sanders Wright

TENNESSEE, Gibson County. Rose Hill Cemetery in Humboldt 497 records; Cristie Sanders Wright

TENNESSEE, Madison County. Elmwood Cemetery 37 records; Cristie Sanders Wright

TENNESSEE, Madison County. Hollywood Cemetery 361 records; Cristie Sanders Wright

New/Updated Freepages by Individuals

Hamm Family Website shares ancestor information for: Ham, Hamm, Fine, Young, VanHoose, Nally families who lived in Arkansas, Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Germany, England and other newly discovered areas.

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 Free Web Site Account.

New/Updated Websites for Counties, States, and Historical Societies

CD17C = Colonial Dames of the XVII Century
DAR = Daughters of the American Revolution
SAR = Sons of the American Revolution
UDC = United Daughters of the Confederacy


  • cacd17c — California State CD17C
  • fljpbudc — Judah P. Benjamin Chapter (FL) UDC
  • gabarttp — Bartow County (GA) Trails to the Past
  • gaberrhf — Berrien County (GA) Historical Foundation
  • gacobbtp — Cobb County (GA) Trails to the Past
  • gapaultp — Paulding County (GA) Trails to the Past
  • gatttp — Georgia State Trails to the Past
  • iabutltp — Butler County (Iowa) Trails to the Past
  • iagruntp — Grundy County (Iowa) Trails to the Past
  • iahardtp — Hardin County (Iowa) Trails to the Past
  • iatttp — Iowa State Trails to the Past
  • inwhhsar — Wm Henry Harrison Chapter (IN) SAR
  • kstttp — Kansas State Trails to the Past
  • mipoh — Pillars of Honor (Michigan) - Civil War Tombstones
  • mnchs — Choice Historical Society (Minnesota)
  • ncforts — North Caroline Forts - Trails to the Past
  • ncghostn — North Carolina Ghost Towns - Trails to the Past
  • netttp — Nebraska State Trails to the Past
  • pawccsar — Washington Crossing Chapter (PA) SAR
  • sccdgs — Chester District (SC) Genealogical Society
  • scchertp — Cherokee County (SC) Trails to the Past
  • scspartp — Spartanburg County (SC) Trails to the Past
  • scyorktp — York County (SC) Trails to the Past
  • tnmigrat — Tennessee Migrations Project
  • txbrewtp — Brewster County (TX) Trails to the Past
  • txcrcudc — Colorado River Chapter (TX) UDC
  • txjefdtp — Jeff Davis County (TX) Trails to the Past
  • txprestp — Presidio County (TX) Trails to the Past
  • usmiltp — United States Military Project, Trails to the Past
  • ustttp — United States Trails to the Past
  • vabmcdar — Beverly Manor Chapter (VA) DAR
  • vaisletp — Isle of Wight County (VA) Trails to the Past
  • vajpcdar — James Patton Chapter (VA) DAR
  • valmcdar — Lane's Mill Chapter (VA) DAR
  • vananstp — Nansemond County (VA) Trails to the Past
  • wiergs — Eagle River (WI) Genealogical Society
  • winwgs — Northern Waters (WI) Genealogical Society


  • None

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. These sites are accessible at www.rootsweb.com/~xxxxxx, where xxxxxx is the account/site name.

Note that the ~[tilde] before the Web account name is required.
For example, the Berrien County (GA) Historical Foundation web site is at

Request a Free Web Site Account.

New Mailing Lists

New Surname Mailing Lists

New Regional Mailing Lists

  • ALASKA-TTTP — This list will be used to communicate with the county administrators or those interested in becoming county administrators for the Alaska Trails to the Past Project.
  • ARKANSAS-TTTP — This list will be used to communicate with the county administrators or those interested in becoming county administrators for the Arkansas Trails to the Past Project.
  • ENG-KEN-SANDHURST — A mailing list for anyone with a genealogical interest in Sandhurst, Kent, England.
  • NEBRASKA-TTTP — This list will be used to communicate with the county administrators or those interested in becoming county administrators for the Nebraska Trails to the Past Project.
  • WYOMING-TTTP — This list will be used to communicate with the county administrators or those interested in becoming county administrators for the Wyoming Trails to the Past Project.

New Ethnic or Special Interest Mailing Lists

  • AUS-BUSHRANGERS — This list is for the discussion of Australian bushrangers and other assorted bush criminals.  It is for the advancement of Australian social and family history knowledge.

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.

Volunteer Opportunities

Are you looking for an opportunity to give back to the genealogy community?
Check this section to learn more about some of our hosted projects and other projects you can participate in.

The World Archives Project is a community keying initiative that helps preserve records and bring indexes online free.  To find out more about the project and to download the keying tool, click here.

New projects to Key:

Mecklenburg-Schwerin Census, 1919
1891 New South Wales, Australia, Census
1901 New South Wales, Australia, Census
Seamen"s Protection Certificates
U.S. Naturalization Originals - MD and VA, 1906-1930

For a complete list of projects to key, and search click here.

If you know of genealogically related volunteer opportunities please email Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

The Darkroom

This is my great-great-grandfather, Private Michael Maloney, 2nd Minnesota Infantry Regiment, during the Civil War. Michael emigrated from Ireland sometime in the 1850s. He was drafted in 1864 and served until the end of the war in 1865.

Thanks to Timothy Scanlan in Naples, Florida

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
No Way!

When my daughter got her first job in about 1976, she worked with a very black young man whose name was "Noway White".  At the time I looked in phone book and there were 3 generations with that name. I do not see those names today, so they must have moved.  He was very well liked.

Thanks to Cora Hursey
Unusual Surnames

I ran across two funny surnames in some of my research. One of them, "Mothershead" was found in Shelby County, Kentucky. The other is "Barnhistle." I was looking for my great great grandfather Histle and found that a lot of "Barnhistles" had changed it to Histle. His daughter was my great grandmother. This name was from the Henry County, Kentucky area.

Thanks to Martha Lewis in Crestwood, Kentucky
Names Assigned by Alphabet

In our family way back one child was named Monet Schmul. The next child was named MonB and the next MonC.

Thanks to Arnold Chamove in New Zealand
Ethan Allen

My niece's husband's name is Ethan Allen.  In some parts of the U.S., this name might not be so unfortunate, but he lives in Vermont, the home of that brave Green Mountain Boy of Revolutionary War fame of the same name. Throughout his life, our Ethan has suffered various indignities and insults by tradesmen, bank clerks, and even policemen who have accused him of lying when he said his name was Ethan Allen.  Here in Vermont, that response is as unbelievable as the name George Washington would be in other parts of the country. Of course, he has had some fun with the name, as well, but mostly it has caused him a great deal of embarrassment over the years.

Thanks to Jeanne Douglas

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:

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  2. the following notice appears at the end of the article: Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 12 May 2010, Vol. 13, No. 5
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