13 October 2010, Vol. 13, No. 10
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
Check here for the latest RootsWeb news.
RootsWeb Store
Check here for the latest in genealogy books, software, photos, and more.
RootsWeb Review Archives
Check here for previous editions.
Using RootsWeb

By Joan Young

Social Security Death Index (SSDI) Enhanced Advanced Searches

For many of our long time readers you may wonder why we chose to write about the SSDI, again – what could be new?

Have you taken a look at RootsWeb's SSDI Advanced Searches recently? http://ssdi.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/ssdi.cgi  With a recent revamp advanced searches may be performed on any or all fields in the database:

  1. Name (first, last, middle initial) using either exact spelling, Soundex or Metaphone. (See "Terms and Definitions" for an explanation of Soundex and Metaphone: http://helpdesk.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ssdi/fields.html
  2. Birth and Death.
  3. Last Residence and Last Benefit.
  4. Social Security Number (SSN)
  5. Issued by (state)
  6. Age at Death (field added in new code)

Randy Winch, RootsWeb's lead developer, has been busy updating the code for the advanced searches and also adding new features. The new code, in addition to being much faster, provides enhanced wild card support and a column sorting feature. 

Wildcards you may use are the * (asterisk) which represents zero or more unknown or missing characters and ? (question mark) which represents exactly one unknown or missing character. Wildcards may now be used in any position in a field. Some restrictions on the use of wildcards still exist. You must know at least one exact value, i.e. you cannot use all wild cards in a given field. Additionally, search results are limited to 10,000 expected returns for a search. With the new expanded wildcard availability you can use more wildcards in your search which may help you locate those elusive family members.

Search results listings have been updated to offer you choices in the display and they are now listed alternately in white and gray to make it easy to follow each entry across all columns. Entries in each field may be sorted in ascending or descending order using the up and down arrows next to each column. For example, if you want to sort the death column for all of the Robert E. SMITHs born in 1904 (in the example shown below) to show those who died more recently at the top of the results or at the end -- you can click the arrows to get the desired display order.

The expanded use of wildcards can be helpful when you are searching for a surname such as my maiden name MYERS which is often spelled MEYERS. I found a few of my family members listed under the MEYERS spelling even though my family hasn't used that spelling for at least the past hundred and fifty years. To find MYERS or MEYERS the * wildcard is useful (M*YERS). I searched for a distant family member I knew only as Eddie MYERS. Using the * wildcard (Ed*) I found many listings for Ed, Eddie, Edward, Edwin, and Edgar; any one of whom could have been the relative I sought. I could then narrow down the possible candidates by entering additional information such as age at death or year of birth. If I suspected any of my MYERS family may be listed as MEYERS or MAYERS or even MOYERS, the "?" wildcard (M?YERS) will find either spelling--but won't find MYERS because the "?" represents exactly a single unknown or missing character. So, be careful in your use of the "?" wildcard.

As you can see, the new code for SSDI advanced searches offers many additional options to increase your chances of finding a name in a search, even if the name may be spelled differently than you had expected, or when other information is shown in a manner you hadn't expected. If you searched in the past and assumed that the person you sought wasn't included in the SSDI you may want to try again using the new enhanced search feature. Happy hunting!

Previous articles on the SSDI:
Ordering SS-5 Copies Online,
Understanding RootsWeb's Social Security Death Index.

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Genealogy Tip

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

Tips for Organizing Genealogy

As our research grows, so do our documents – and rather than become mired in duplication of records, choose a filing system that is effective. 

Some family historians group by document type (e.g., wills in one file, birth certificates in another) and others try other methods, such as surname or location sorting. But whichever method you choose, there is certain to be a dilemma. For example,
            Should documents for women be stored with parents or spouses?
            Should sibling records be grouped with direct ancestors or separately?
            Should vital record copies be kept separately?

In selecting an organizational system, let your goals guide you. For instance,
            If joining a lineage society, consider sorting files by generation.
            For projects, such as a transcription records, try sorting by location and surname.
            Family groupings may work well for surname studies.
            And if authoring a book on ancestors or descendants, then sort accordingly.

In all probability, you'll choose a hybrid system, which can differ for computer and paper copies.  And within your system, remember to add summary reports, so information is easily cross-referenced.

Perhaps my organizational methods will assist in developing your own system.

Paper Files
Paperwork is stored in a variety of boxes, 3-ring binders, files and plastic tubs.

  • Color-coding is used for ancestral groups (for example, green for Dad's and red for Mom's ancestry)
  • 3-ring binders are used for surname documents with dividers marking each generation
  • Portable / accordion files contain current projects, such as lineage society applications
  • Tubs help for larger projects and ancestors with voluminous quantities of material
  • Archival boxes store original documents, with copies filed elsewhere
  • Archival quality sleeves protect documents, with notations added as to whether a scan has been made
  • Pedigree and / or family group sheets are added for cross-referencing
  • TODO lists are placed prominently with check lists of what has been scanned

Computer Files

  • Directories are created for major surnames
  • Subdirectories (or subfolders) are established showing the names of each couple
  • A third level may be added for children or type of document (for example, military files)
  • So that I don't have to consult a genealogy program, numbering indicates the descent from an ancestor (in the example, one can see that I am 15-generations in descent from Nicholas Wilder)
  • Files are backed up to external hard drives and copies shared with family members
  • GEDCOMS are uploaded to WorldConnect, so they can be shared with others – but equally important, is they serve as backups in case of computer issues

In developing your own organizational methods, we recommend reading these ideas found on RootsWeb.

How to Organize Your Paper Files - Pierre-Fort Pierre Genealogical Society
Genealogical Record Keeping or  "Now that I've found it, what do I do with it?" - by William Dollarhide and reprinted on Wendy Loveless Waldron's page
Some tips on organizing your genealogy research  - The Gene Pool

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Knocking Down Brick Walls

I had two brick walls knocked down in recent years, both with the help of 'cousins' I've found through online research.

My great-great-great grandfather John L. WILHELM had ten children and I'd been able to find information on all but two, Maria C. Wilhelm, who married John J. MORRISON and Catherine (aka Kate) who married Joseph K. CRAIG.

I knew when John and Maria were married 2 Jul 1853 in Stark County, Ohio; that was the easy part. I also found them in the 1870 and 1880 census and even managed to find Maria with a son living in Nebraska in the 1900 and 1920 census (still haven't found her in 1910). After 10 years of unsuccessful searching, I went to Ancestry and put John Morrison into the search boxes. Deciding to try a different approach, I went to the family tree tab first instead of the Historic Records tab.

To my great surprise and delight, someone had information posted in a public tree that matched what little I had for John Morrison, including his wife, Maria (though they had her listed as Moriah, which I recognized). I immediately posted a comment to the tree and waited anxiously for a reply. It came a day or so later and I found out that her husband is connected to the Morrison line.

But that wasn't the best part. The information she had in the tree included John Morrison's PARENTS, Samuel Morrison and his wife Susanna. With just that tidbit of info, I was able to dig around Ancestry and find John listed with his mother Susanna (Samuel had died in 1848), and several siblings. I also found the marriage record for his parents AND came across a listing for a Civil War pension file that I am sending for and the owner of the family tree and I are splitting the cost of the file. Because of that little bit of information I was able to finally find John's parents and several siblings, one of which I traced to Ohio.  I even found his death certificate.

Because of the luck I'd been having I decided to pick up the search for the other son-in-law of John L. Wilhelm, Joseph Craig. I knew even less about him except that he married John's daughter Catherine in 1865 also in Stark County Ohio, but could only locate them in 1870 and 1880 with two children. A cousin, who has an umbrella stand that belonged (apparently) to Joseph thought that he and Catherine had died in Texas. I had no reason to doubt him but could never find Joseph anywhere in any census after 1880. Then I spotted my cousin's information on Rootsweb and noticed he made reference to Catherine living in Chicago, but nothing more than that. Since I live in Chicago, I thought I would see if I could find some proof of this or that one of them didn't die in Texas.  I had previously found Catherine and one child, a son Walter, living in Texas in 1920.

So I started digging and found Joseph's Civil War Pension and that Catherine had filed for a widow's pension in ILLINOIS in 1888, which meant one thing, Joseph died before 1900. So I went to the Illinois website and found Joseph’s death certificate. This led to finding Catherine and son Walter in the 1900 census living in Chicago. But I also found Walter's nephew living with them. This meant that Walter’s sister, Carrie had died between 1880 and 1900. I then found Carrie's death certificate and it said that she had died in May 1900 and was born in Minerva, Ohio. I then found Carrie's marriage record and her brother, Walter's marriage record. And the latter was the best clue to Joseph's long sought out mystery. Walter Lehman Craig married Nellie Lewis. Walter's middle name might possibly end up being John L. Wilhelm's mother's maiden name. Two cousins and I have debated about this for a number of years, but seeing that name was all the proof I needed that the hunch I'd had about that name was right. It could also be what the 'L' stands for in John L.'s name. His son John Jr., and other son Charles both have that initial.

I'm sending for Joseph's pension file to see if perhaps that holds more clues to the Lehman name.

I definitely recommend posting information on message boards and checking family trees and posting a comment if you spot a name or date that's familiar.  You never know what mysteries you'll solve. I also recommend asking cousins to split the cost of Civil War pension files (now that they cost $75) because in the end you'll both end up with information you might've been searching for.

Thanks to Jackie in Chicago, Illinois
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Bottomless Mailbag: Readers Write In
Can You Be Sure?

In my experience many people living in the south were known by their middle names. This is the case with most of my family.
 My father always told me that his name was "Harrell Kenneth" (he was known as "Ken" or Kenneth" and went by Kenneth H.  He also told me that his birth certificate was marked "female".   I put Kenneth Harrell on his death certificate and "Kenneth H." on his head stone.  After his death, I applied for his birth certificate.  It was indeed marked female, but his name was "Harry Kenneth" on it. (Country doctors had the final say.) Dad's twin sisters were "Edith Mildred and Edna May" but were listed as "Mary” and “Margaret" on their birth certificates.  In the 1940's, they applied and changed their certificates to their given names.

One more story.  For years my mother was told by her mother that her name was "Montie Earline" and she was always called "Earline".  When she applied for a copy of her birth certificate she found that it only had "Earline" without a middle name.  The doctor told her mother at the time of her birth that he did not like "Montie" and must have excluded it when he reported the birth.  All of these little "stories" make for interesting research.

Thanks to Sandy Johnson

Grandpa Changed His Name

My paternal grandfather was a Confederate soldier, joining in Georgia at the age of 15 in 1860. He was captured in Tennessee in December of 1864 and was taken to Chicago to Camp Douglas.  The History Channel did a documentary on that camp which they named "80 Acres of Hell".  Grandpa always told the story of poor conditions.  He said that he came west with a Mormon freighter. He stayed for some time in Salt Lake City and then went on to Nevada. 

I never knew grandpa since he died in 1935, 2 years before I was born. When I was just finishing the 5th grade my dad took a job in Georgia and moved us there. He and Mom looked high and low for relatives in the Macon area, where Grandpa was born, but found nothing.

15 years after we moved back west Mother stumbled across some information written by grandpa wherein he referred to his parents and friends of his parents.  In writing about them he noted the births and deaths of both. However, for his "parents" he listed only the years of birth and death and for the "friends" he listed both the month and year of birth and death. Mother thought that was strange so she looked in the 1850 census and found the family listed as "friends" with the parents and 5 children having all of the same given names as he said his family had. Plus, there was a boy his age. Looking in the 1860 census she found all the children living with grandmother Jones, as he said they had after his parents had died. Then she sent for the military record with the name of the boy found in the census (William H Norman) and it came back from the same company he had served in, with the same company commander he had spoken of so admiringly for his whole life. We knew then that he had changed his name from William H Norman to John Eugene Davis, a fact he had never told anyone in the family.

From this, we learned that he had taken the oath of allegiance and had joined the US Army in March of 1865, ostensibly to go west and fight Indians. But the military record stopped some months after he joined. The Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of America said -- how they knew I always wondered -- that he had deserted the Union Army in August of 1865. Nevertheless, this could have been the reason he changed his name.

Learning about the name change was exciting for our family for a time, but has turned into a dead end. We found my great-grandfather and his family, but have not been able to find who our g-g-grandfather Norman is.  Needless to say, the trail is cold. We have done DNA testing and we match some Normans but have still not been able to find a reliable connection.  We have been searching since 1965 without any success.

Thanks to Robert Davis in Gilbert, Arizona
Another Source for Middle Names

60 or more years ago, I was told that some of the middle names were the names of a child's Godparents so everyone would remember who would take what child if the parents died.   

Thanks to Hunter Johnston in Memphis, Tennessee

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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Atlanta Family History Expo is coming to town! Don't miss it, Nov 12-13, Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth, Georgia. New techniques and technology empower you to trace your roots! Nation's finest genealogists and researchers share experience, information, advice in captivating classes to help you learn the tech to trace your roots. Great for beginners to sage professionals. Network with others who share your passion for family history research. Shop for and try new products designed to assist in discovering and honoring your family. Win fantastic door prizes too!
Visit www.fhexpos.com/expos to register right now or call 801-829-3295.


ANCESTOR SEEKERS researchers at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City will search this vast collection of records from the United States, Canada, 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 21 - 26 February 2011 for our 19th Salt Lake City Research Trip – the dream genealogy vacation! Click or call toll-free at 877-402-6846.

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

KENTUCKY, Logan County. Logan Co., KY, Order Book 1, 1792-1806, Index
  6628 records; Judy Lyne, Diann Clevenger Pinkstaff for Logan Co., KY Genealogical Society, Inc.

VIRGINIA, Spotsylvania County. St George's
42 records; Paula Lucy Delosh

Submit Your Genealogical Data to a RootsWeb Database.

New/Updated Freepages by Individuals

The Wyatt Family Museum website contains photos, letters and papers scanned and displayed in a ‘museum’ format.  We always joked that we had so many artifacts and papers left to us that we needed a family museum to hold it all.  Now we have a virtual one, thanks to Rootsweb!  The website features the Wyatt, Ellison, Hix, and Hopkins families from 1820 to the present.

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

DAC = Daughters of the American Colonists
DAR = Daughters of the American Revolution
DUVCW = Daughter of Union Veterans of the Civil War
SAR = Sons of the American Revolution
UDC = United Daughters of the Confederacy
USD of 1812 = United States Daughters of 1812


  • alctcdar — Coweta Town Chapter (Alabama) DAR
  • caismdcw — Ida Saxton McKinley (CA) DUVCW
  • flocgs — Okaloosa County (FL) Genealogical Society
  • ilusd — State Society (Illinois) USD of 1812
  • intttp — Indiana State Trails to the Past
  • kycemetp — Kentucky Cemeteries, Trails to the Past
  • kycwasar — Captain William Arnold Chapter (KY) SAR
  • kyphottp — Kentucky Photos, Trails to the Past
  • lagencom — The Computer Genealogy Group of Louisiana
  • mdcecitp — Cecil County (Maryland) Trails to the Past
  • mdhhcdar — Harmony Hall Chapter (MD)DAR
  • mdtttp — Maryland State Trails to the Past
  • mekenntp — Kennebec County (Maine) Trails to the Past
  • mesometp — Somerset County (Maine) Trails to the Past
  • mntttp — Minnesota State Trails to the Past
  • motttp — Missouri State Trails to the Past
  • msattatp — Attala County (Mississippi) Trails to the Past
  • mshanctp  — Hancock County (Mississippi) Trails to the Past
  • msjacktp — Jackson County (Mississippi) Trails to the Past
  • mstttp — Mississippi State Trails to the Past
  • mttttp — Montana Trails to the Past
  • ncbeautp — Beauford County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • ncbladtp — Bladen County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • nccarttp — Carteret County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • ncedgetp — Edgecombe County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • ncforstp — Forsyth County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • nchalitp — Halifax County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • nchydetp — Hyde County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • nciredtp — Iredell County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • ncmacotp — Macon County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • ncppcdar — Piedmont Patriots Chapter (NC) DAR
  • ncscottp — Scotland County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • ncswaitp — Swain County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • nctrantp — Transylvania County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • ncyadktp — Yadkin County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • ndtttp — North Dakota Trails to the Past
  • njtttp — New Jersey State Trails to the Past
  • nmgjwudc — General Joe Wheeler Chapter 966 (NM) UDC
  • nmmtdna — New Mexico -mtDNA
  • nynssdp — New York Company, Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims
  • nystlatp — St. Lawrence County (NY) Trails to the Past
  • nytttp — New York State Trails to the Past
  • nywyomtp — Wyoming County (NY) Trails to the Past
  • oherietp — Erie County (OH) Trails to the Past
  • ohfranktp — Franklin County (OH) Trails to the Past
  • ohknoxtp — Knox County (OH) Trails to the Past
  • ohmaditp — Madison County (OH) Trails to the Past
  • ohmeditp — Medina County (OH) Trails to the Past
  • ohmiamtp — Miami County (OH) Trails to the Past
  • ohsandtp — Sandusky County (OH) Trails to the Past
  • sdtttp — South Dakota State Trails to the Past
  • txcrudc — Confederate Rose Chapter (TX) UDC
  • txitcudc — Ike Turner Chapter (#1569)  (Texas) UDC
  • txjbedac — John Barker, Esq Chapter (TX) DAC
  • vajrldar — Judith Randolph-Longwood Chapter (VA) DAR
  • wifondtp — Fond du Lac County (WI) Trails to the Past


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 Genealogical Society of Okaloosa County (GSOC) web site is at

Request a Free Web Site Account.

New Mailing Lists

New Surname Mailing Lists 

New Regional Mailing Lists

  • CAPE-OF-GOOD-HOPE — This list will be used for the discussion and sharing of historical and genealogical information by those with research interests in the Cape of Good Hope.
  • IDAHO-TTTP — This list will be used to exchange information for researchers looking for information on their Idaho ancestors.  It is sponsored by the Trails to the Past project.

  • MO-CIVIL-WAR-TTTP — This list will be used for the discussion and sharing of historical and genealogical information by those with research interests in the Civil War related to Missouri.  It is sponsored by the Trails to the Past Project.

  • NATIVE-AMERICAN-TTTP — This list will be used to exchange information for researchers looking for information on Native American ancestors.  It is sponsored by the Trails to the Past project.

  • NC-CEMETERIES-TTTP — This list will be used to exchange information for researchers looking for information on North Carolina cemeteries.  It is sponsored by the Trails to the Past project.

  • NC-CIVIL-WAR-TTTP — This list will be used for the discussion and sharing of historical and genealogical information by those with research interests in the Civil War related to North Carolina.  It is sponsored by the Trails to the Past project.

  • NC-REVOLUTIONARY-WAR-TTTP — This list will be used for the discussion and sharing of historical and genealogical information by those with research interests in the Revolutionary War related to North Carolina. It is sponsored by the Trails to the Past project.

  • US-CEMETERIES-TTTP — This list will be used to exchange information for researchers looking for information on their Connecticut ancestors.  It is sponsored by the Trails to the Past project.

  • WASHINGTON-TTTP — This list will be used to exchange information for researchers looking for information on their Washington ancestors.  It is sponsored by the Trails to the Past project.

  • WISCONSIN-TTTP — This list will be used to exchange information for researchers looking for information on their Wisconsin ancestors.  It is sponsored by the Trails to the Past project.

New Ethnic or Special Interest Mailing Lists


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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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 helping to keep the world’s stories alive. You can too by typing information from historical records into searchable online collections that are available to the public for free. Learn more.

New projects to Key:

England, Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures, 1701-1811

New South Wales Convict Indents, 1788-1842

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.

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The Darkroom

This is a picture of Joseph Henry Jones, the younger brother of my grandfather, Thomas Rose Jones.  Joseph was born 9 Sept 1881 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Notice the tiny hook coming out of his right sleeve.  This is the result of his arm being accidentally shot with a shotgun shortly before his fourth birthday.  It explains why my grandfather, who was just two years older, would not allow guns on his farm.  The picture was taken by an uncle.  Just 5 years later Joseph and two of his brothers died as diphtheria swept through the community.

Thanks to Gaye Willis in Juneau, Alaska

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 Male Names

My mother's uncle was named Millie Love and everyone throughout his entire life called him "Love".  Uncle Love's cousins (twin boys) were named  "Early Clay and Shirley Ray" and went by "Early and Shirley" throughout thier lives; their sister was named "Jesse Juanita" and was always called "Pete".  These families were from Marshall County, Kentucky.

Thanks to Sandy Johnson

I have an ancestor who was born in 1764 in Louisa County, Virginia and died February 10, 1815 in Wayne County, Kentucky.  His name was North East.  I guess his parents had a sense of humor.

Thanks to Mary Oechsler
Whose House?

While scanning for the birth registrations for Missouri, I found that the Dr. who attended the birth of a relative had stated on the form that the baby was born at Mary's house. Since there were no near relatives named Mary, I was puzzled about who that Mary might have been.  It soon dawned on me that my family lived in a small place named "Mary's Home". Apparently when the Dr. asked the name of the place someone said Mary's Home and he took that to be Mary's house.

Thanks to Miriam Blackburn
Saleta and Lura

I had two college roommates with unique names.  They were named Saleta Jane Scobey and Lura Bertha Clingenpeel.   Names are a fascinating subject.

Thanks to E. C.

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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