12 January 2011, Vol. 14, No. 1
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, and
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.”

Genealogical Resolutions for 2011

Now that another genealogical year has passed, take stock of your goals. I am, by reviewing what I achieved and what I hope to achieve this year.

So what discoveries did I make last year?

Aside from uncovering exciting proof documents, I made contact with new cousins who added to family research and recently made headway on William Elliott, a Revolutionary War patriot, who settled in Jennings Co., Indiana.

For some reason, his corroborating documentation had eluded me. But his Revolutionary War pension application S.16378, published on Footnote.com, uncovered several exciting documents, including his signature, and a document stating birth in Bedford Co., Pennsylvania and residency in Jennings Co., Indiana.

Applicants had to respond to a series of questions. Some text had bled through from the other side, so it was hard to decipher.

I wasn't certain if it began “Answer to Direct or Quest 1st (perhaps directive or question), which leads me to my first resolution of the year.

Resolution 1: Reread and transcribe documents. You may interpret the text differently at a later date.

“Answer to [illegible] 1st I was born in Cumberland County Pennsylvania the 12th day of May 1752.  Answer to [illegible] 2d. I well remember seeing the record of my age in the family bible but it has long since been destroyed. I was residing in the town of Bedford in the County of Bedford state of Pennsylvania at the time I entered the service & during the revolutionary War. Since that time I have resided in the state of Kentucky until about twelve years since when I removed to Jennings County, Ind. where I now reside...”

Resolution 2: Seek and correlate corroborating evidence. This Oath of Allegiance of 1777 places William Elliott in Bedford Co., Pennsylvania. His statement indicated he was born in Cumberland County, which makes sense, since Bedford County was created March 9, 1771 from part of Cumberland County.

Resolution 3: Seek out online websites not included in search engines. Although lists on public websites are usually indexed, names recorded within databases are generally omitted. This is frequently the case with specific court houses, cemeteries and state archives. I had to search the Land Office database for Kentucky land patents database, to locate records for my ancestor.

Resolution 4: Network more. Post queries on forums and take advantage of social networking opportunities, such as FaceBook.  I only located the land records, after making a query with Marcia McClure, author of the My Son Adam's Family database, published on WorldConnect.

Resolution 5:  Learn more about locations.  As stated in RootsWeb Review's Tip, Location, location, location, documents are often found in unexpected places. Time lines are helpful, especially for county and city name changes.

Resolution 6: Explore finding guides, located in the reference section of the library. Not only will they direct you to available repositories, but they will tell you almost everything you need to know about a particular area, including jurisdiction of records, what is available and where to find it. You can now find the Red Book and the Source online in the Ancestry.com wiki.

Resolution 7: Set yourself up for genealogical travel. Scan documents and references, and take them with you on your laptop. Then go and visit your ancestral homelands – you'll be glad you did. And encourage publishers to develop more smart phone and tablet apps, such as Ancestry's Tree to Go.

Resolution 8: Accumulate original documentation. After finding a transcription, order the original, including the title and copyright pages.

Resolution 9: Give back. Contribute to RootsWeb, join a transcription project, such as Ancestry's World Archives Project, submit and collaborate on DNA projects and think about publishing your genealogy.  Not only will you feel good about your contributions but participating in these efforts is also a good learning tool.

Resolution 10. Value your time by taking care of your computer and research. It would be a tragedy to lose all of your work. So backup, store copies in safe places and label properly. And please, keep your programs up-to-date.

You may wonder if I follow my own advice.  My research files were just archived to an external drive, were yours?
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Genealogy Tip

By Joan Young

Are You Building Your Own Brick Walls?

It's a new year, a new opportunity to dust off some of your trickiest research issues and take another crack at finding the answers.

We all have them--brick walls, impossible to locate ancestors who we swear arrived on a mother ship from Mars and plopped full-grown in the place we first found them leaving no trail or records in their wake. Mind you, these elusive ancestors lived well before the days of the Witness Protection Program. They probably were not spies or secret agents whose identity was changed or hidden. They most likely didn't need protection from the bad guys (or maybe the good guys) despite possible family stories to the contrary.

Granted there are occasions where there simply is no evidence to be found for your brick wall ancestor, but there may also be instances where your approach to breaking down the wall may need some fine tuning. 

Here are a few suggestions for taking a New Year's shot at cracking those long-standing brick walls.
1) If you have only considered that your SMITHs are English expand your horizons if you have no direct proof of ethnicity. Take a look at who your John SMITH married and what community he lived in and his religious affiliation. You may find that John SMITH was originally Johan SCHMIDT. Being locked into assumptions of ethnicity can result in building your own brick wall.

2) Did your Aunt Susie tell you great-grandmother Matilda was a "Cherokee Princess?" Examine anything you can find about Matilda such as census records and place of birth before you run off to check Cherokee records. Even if you don't know Matilda's maiden name, clues such as her birth location could help you establish whether Aunt Susie was on the mark or not. Since Native Americans didn't use titles such as "Princess" the use of this term could be an indication that not everything you were told was completely accurate even if there is a kernel of truth to the story.

3) Have you been accepting the family trees you found online which list no sources for your John SMITH in Arkansas being the same John SMITH who fought for the Union in the Civil War from Maine? Family trees are a great resource, but make sure you personally verify sources for the data you find there. Do not accept online unsourced information at face value. If no sources are given, contact the database submitter, when possible, to learn where they got their facts. Finding multiple trees or messages listing "facts" with no sources is no guarantee of accuracy. Others may simply have copied from the original submitter.

4) Have you given up on finding your SMITH ancestors because you searched everything online and off last year and the year before and found nothing? Thousands of new records are added online and placed in files at your local historical society library (or a society in the area where you first located your SMITHs) every year. Always start off the New Year with a fresh search to see what might have come to light or been digitized since you last checked.

The point of all of these suggestions is to keep an open mind, don't jump to conclusions, and while not ignoring family stories and lore, consider other possibilities as well. Follow where the evidence trail leads you rather than leaping to conclusions or jumping at illogical connections.

If you do make new discoveries about elusive brick wall ancestors be sure to post them online in an updated family tree, or on a message board or mailing list. Sharing what you have learned will help others and provide them with an opportunity to share any additional data they uncover with you.

Happy hunting in 2011!

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Research Close to Home

I had an opportunity to live and work in England about 45 minutes from Stratford on Avon.  My mom asked me to see if I could find anything about her great grandfather, who had lived there.   After a couple of dead ends, I found him listed in Crockford's clergy lists. This list gave his address between 1863 and 1871 as Cambridge house in Stratford upon Avon.   Modern maps didn't show a house by this name.  I learned that the local history and other records for that area are managed by the Shakespeare trust in a building next door to William Shakespeare's house.   I drove over one weekend and asked the librarian how I would go about finding out where Cambridge house was. I was very surprised when she told me it was one of the properties owned by the trust and was open for tours.   When she asked me why I was asking, I explained my ancestor had lived there.   When I told her his name, she replied; "Oh, we have a painting of him!"

The thrill of finding this picture, touring the house and finding several records of my ancestor's life hooked me on genealogy. In my time in England, I was able to verify other links in my ancestry.

Thanks to Lorne Tweed
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Bottomless Mailbag: Readers Write In
Take Your Camera

I just read your article "Holiday Gatherings as Genealogy Research Tools". It was a great article and really gave me some good ideas.  My Mother is 91.  These past few years, I've been trying to get her to identify some pictures and remember some stories she used to tell me when I was younger.

The holidays will give me some opportunities to expand my research.  I learned years ago to bring my digital camera to these gatherings when pictures are brought out.  It's not as good as taking them to a photo center and having them copied, but some people don't like you taking their originals to copy.

Thanks to Christine Jones

Location Locator Web Site

Regarding your article, "Location, Location, Location," I would add that FamilyHistory101.com is a very helpful resource for this kind of data.  In particular, I rely on the county formation maps. Here, for example, is Virginia.

Thanks to Mary Richardson
Another Quackenbush

I would like to add to the Clone Quackenbush story.  A Quackenbush family were missionaries in Kenya in Kihancha near the Kenya Tanzania border.  They were very helpful to the local community.  The former Member of Parliament for the area was called Misori Itumbo.  He named one of his children Quackenbush Itumbo in honour of the missionaries, and in thanks for all the help that they had given.

Thanks to Janis Mwosa in Nairobi, Kenya

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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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

OUR MATERNAL AND PATERNAL ANCESTORS: 350 YEARS OF HISTORY IN AMERICA features three separate family sub-sites as follows: (1) DELLINGER, KNECHT, PFEFFER, SILAR and allied families; (2) BOZARTH, PEIFFER, QUIGLEY, RHUBART and allied families; (3) MORELAND, MCVICKER, PINNELL, SCRUGGS and allied families. See the new and updated web-pages that have been added

BLISSMER FAMILY, 1750 – Present.
What started as a simple family tree in America for Heinrich BLISSMER descendents, now takes us back to the ancestors, BLIESEMER in 1750, on the Baltic Sea coast of Northern Germany. We now know that 3 descendents of Christian Anton Bliesemer came to America. Ancestral familes include information for Langbehn, Schumacher, and Wulf, all from the Fehmarn Island.  We have added Heinrich's daughter, EMMA BLISSMER and her husband, WILLIAM WIENING.  Their family adds 80 WIENINGS to our tree, and the family of William Wiening adds another 200 people. Our area of research is Hammond, Indiana; Calumet City, IL; and Chicago, IL

Request a Free Web Site Account.

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

DAC = Daughters of the American Colonits
DAR = Daughters of the American Revolution


  • coboultp — Boulder County (CO) Trails to the Past
  • cojefftp — Jefferson County (CO) Trails to the Past
  • flgilch2 — Gilchrist County (FL) USGenWeb
  • flleongw — Leon County (FL) USGenWeb
  • flputgw — Putnam County (FL) USGenWeb
  • iaclartp — Clarke County (IA) Trails to the Past
  • inorphtr — Indiana Orphan Train Project
  • mnlinctp — Lincoln County (MN) Trails to the Past
  • mosladac — Slater Chapter (MO) DAC
  • ncpamltp — Pamlico County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • nvhjsdar — Helen J. Stewart Chapter (NV) DAR
  • wycsfhc — Cheyenne Stake (WY) Family History Center


  • sctwigfc — Wigtownshire (Scotland) FreeCEN Project

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 Boulder County (CO) Trails to the Past web site is at

Request a Free Web Site Account.

New Mailing Lists

New Surname Mailing Lists 

New Regional Mailing Lists

  • None

New Ethnic or Special Interest Mailing Lists

  • FINNEY-DNA — A mailing list for the discussion and exchange of DNA and Haplogroup information on individuals with the surname Finney and variations, who have been tested for YDNA.

  • OCONNOR-DNA — A mailing list for the discussion and exchange of DNA and Haplogroup information on individuals with the surname OConnor and variations, who have been tested for YDNA.

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:

Alabama Reference Name Files

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 photo of Thomas Rogers, my wife's grandfather, was taken around 1900 on the front porch at his home in Rye, New York. He was born in County Mayo, Ireland and came with his parents to Milton, Massachusetts, in the 1880's when he was a young teenager. He began as a groom, then, later was a coachman and an estate manager. He married Mary Kilroy, also from County Mayo, in Milton and they later moved to Rye in about 1895.

Thanks to Bob Wilson

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 Wedges

Recently, the RootsWeb Review noted the name of someone called "Orange Lemon". In my family, there are several called "Orange Wedge", including two called "Orange Philander Wedge". I have two direct ancestors called "Salmon Wedge".  These names are noted in Paul Ostendorf's book "A Wedge of the Wedge Family", listing many of the descendants of Thomas Wedge, who apparently immigrated to Massachusetts around 1668.

Thanks to Pierce Reid
What Were They Thinking?

While doing research on my husband's family in Texas, I came across two boys listed as twins.  One was named 'Rough' and the other was 'Ready'.

Thanks to Linda
Unknown Traveler

Recently I was visiting the Eden Cemetery located near Cambray, Ontario, Canada and came across a head stone with this epitaph  "THE UNKNOWN TRAVELLER FOUND DEAD NEAR CAMERON 1890".

Thanks to AJ Workman in Woodville, Ontario, Canada
Family Humor

My father, Standley Damewood Foust, born in 1909, was so embarrassed by his unusual name that he gave his name as Stanley Dale Foust on his marriage license.  His given and middle names were family surnames.  As an adult, when I found that out, I began teasing my mother that my brother and I were illegitimate because the marriage must not be legal.  Back then that was pretty important!  Luckily she had a sense of humor.

Thanks to Ruth Foust Wayer

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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