St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Now, Where Did Grandma Go?

Graves have disappeared over time. We who look for them frequently are frustrated when the graves have either been moved, vandalized or someone decided that the burial records just "weren't important."

How many times have you checked on your family graves? Graves can be an invaluable source of information for those who yearn to know of their past. If you can, document everywhere your family is buried. Use pictures as well as written explanations.

There are many genealogy based websites where you can also send interment information. My advice is to make use of them. Otherwise, your story could be similar to the one below.

As West Virginia Coal Companies Expand, Graves Vanish
Monday, March 09, 2009

Walter Young can't find his great-grandmother's grave. The coal company that had it moved doesn't know where the remains ended up.

"It always looked like a safe, good place nobody would bother," the 63-year-old retiree said of the cemetery along Pigeon Creek where his relative, Martha Curry, was buried. "It was up on a hill.".....,2933,507366,00.html

Thursday, March 26, 2009

World Archives Project Launced by

Note: This is pretty exciting. Launches World Archives Project to Help Digitally Preserve Millions of Historical Records Worldwide

/PRNewswire/ —, the world's largest online resource for family history, today launched the World Archives Project, a new initiative dedicated to digitally preserving millions of the world's historical treasures. The World Archives Project accelerates the rate at which important historical records are digitized and made available online by giving people everywhere the opportunity to play an important part in preserving history.

The World Archives Project allows individuals to transcribe historical documents at their convenience, from their home computer. Using a free transcription program, contributors select from the many historical record collections that has digitized – from naturalization records to ship manifests to marriage records, and type in the information from the scanned image. All of the online indexes that are transcribed as part of the World Archives Project are easily searchable and available for free on

"Because digitizing historical records and making them available online is both costly and time consuming, many governments and libraries don't have the budget to do so," said Tim Sullivan, CEO of The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of "The World Archives Project contributors who donate their time play a critical role in preserving these important stories by helping us publish more historical content online, extending the opportunity for others to explore their family history."

Since the project's beta launch in June 2008, more than 11,000 contributors have collectively put in more than 200,000 indexing hours and have helped digitally preserve 6 million records. Devoted to making these documents easily available online, many of these contributors spend numerous hours each week transcribing from their home.

"Family history is about sharing," says Paula Bradley, a member of from Wichita, Kansas. "The World Archives Project has given me a chance to give back to the community and help other people discover their own family history." estimates that it will be able to digitize and index 20 percent more historical content in 2009 to put on its site as a result of the World Archives Project. Many of these transcription projects are small collections that would likely never be digitized were it not through this project and the dedication of these unsung heroes.

There are millions of historical records from around the world that are available to index through the World Archives Project. Some of the current collections include:

Naturalization Index Cards – Index cards that can easily lead researchers to the documents created when their ancestors became U.S. citizens.

Slave Manifests Filed at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1807-1860 – These records document the transporting of more than 30,000 slaves to the port of New Orleans from other stateside ports as a result of the growing tobacco industry in the southern states.

England Newspaper Index Cards – Compiled in England between the 1880s to 1965, these index cards contain information on individuals taken from next of kin advertisements, will notices, unclaimed estates and missing persons listings found in several national and overseas newspapers.

For more information about the World Archives Project and how to play an active role in preserving history by becoming a contributor, visit

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Thursday, March 19, 2009 Adds Huge New Content Addition for More Recent Years

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

The following was written by Gary Gibb and published on the Blog:

We are launching huge new content additions over the next few weeks. We are excited because it helps provide records from 1935 to today. We have great census and vital records from 1930 and before but more recent records are difficult to acquire. These new records are being provided in 4 major releases.

First, we launched a 1940 census substitute. This is a project that we have been working on for years. Since we can’t get the real 1940 census until 2012 we have pulled together a huge collection of city directories from about 1935 to 1945. This collection has over 100 million names and covers most of the US.

Second, we will launch in the next week (or two) the first ever collection of U.S. Public Records (USPRI) database with more than 525 million names, addresses, ages, and possible family relationships of people who lived in the United States between roughly 1950 and 1990. This will be an invaluable tool in piecing together family stories and histories. This new addition will replace the current USPRI database on Ancestry which is mainly profiles of living people. This database is built from a variety of city directories and other public records.

Third, we launched search results and links to living people records on We are excited about this partnership because MyLife has a much better collection of records about living people and continues to update this collection. includes current public information and more than 700 million profiles of living people. They are much better equipped to offer these services than we are. If you want to find a living cousin or second cousin or other living relative we believe these links to MyLife will be the best service to help you contact your family.

Finally, we launched a new obituary collection. We have had several very popular obituary collections for several years. We have now upgraded our collection that we extract from obituaries posted in newspapers around the world with much better fielding and from more papers. This should help you more easily identify the right obituary and find family relationships.

In the coming months look for additional significant improvements to all the US Federal Census from 1800 to 1890. We will also continue to release millions of vital records every month. We are also excited about the upcoming large addition to our newspaper and military collections over the next few months.

We hope these additions help you discover more of your family story.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

When Irish Ships were Sailing....

When Irish ships were sailing..
The descendants look for you..
Oh, how early they did sail..
Please make our dreams come true....

Ok, so it's not a great off the cuff rewriting of the song that begins "When Irish eyes are smiling..", but as we of Irish descent look at this week as St. Patrick's Day is celebrated, let us remember, those eyes smiled for us.

Here's some early ship lists that may be of benefit for some. I found a suspect, but don't know if it will lead me to really know what I hope to be true. Could this Samuel HENRY on the brig William who sailed from Cork, Ireland in 1766 be the Irish father of my very own John?

Maybe, those Irish eyes will smile for you...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Capone Family Heritage Not All Black and White

Note: Another interesting story has surfaced. This time the subject is none other than Al Capone. I wonder what DNA will show, if and when it happens.

On a side note, a distant family member is rumored to have been a major supplier to Capone during the Prohibition with their special "Berkeley County Bourban." I have been told the goods would go on the train in barrels labeled as potatoes and corn. Now there's an fascinating tale to tell. Perhaps I shall at a later date.

/PRNewswire/ -- Yesterday in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois, Christopher Knight Capone, the putative grandson of the most notorious crime figure in American history Al Capone, filed a complaint requesting the court to enter an order protecting the interred remains of his grandfather Alphonse Capone.

Christopher Capone ( has conducted several years of in-depth historical and genealogical research in order to confirm his true identity, with the assistance of a professional team including a well-respected genealogist, forensic genetic genealogist, and numerous private investigators. The extensive research and historic findings give Chris good cause to believe that his deceased father, William Knight, was the hidden son of Alphonse Capone and his wife Mary. Much of the research is contained in his memoir, Son of Scarface: a memoir by the grandson of Al Capone (

Before filing the complaint Knight requested DNA from living Capone descendants. "The other Capone descendents refused to provide DNA samples, and I respect that," said Christopher Knight Capone. "Similar to an orphan searching for their birth parents, I'm trying to learn my father's ancestry while confirming my own, and I hope they will respect that."

The complaint Knight Capone filed seeks merely to prevent any attempt to move or disturb the remains while Chris completes his quest for voluntary DNA samples from living Capone relatives, which he plans to use in an attempt to definitively establish his genetic link to Al Capone.

"My goal is to definitively and conclusively prove my lineage. I'm continuing to explore all possible opportunities and while I'd prefer a different route, the motion was filed to protect this, one of the last remaining options," said Capone.

In addition, Chris is presently conducting genealogical research into the distant Italian Capone relatives in hopes of locating other living relatives willing and suitable to provide DNA.

Al Capone died on January 25, 1947 and shortly thereafter his body was buried in Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois, a cemetery owned and operated by the Catholic Bishop of Chicago. The complaint filed today also seeks discovery of the identity of any family members who may require notice should Chris seek a disinterment order from the court.

Christopher Knight Capone is represented by David M. Hundley of the Hundley Law Group, a firm which focuses on trial and appellate litigation serving both individuals and the Chicago plaintiff's trial bar. He is also represented by Steven C. Beer of Greenberg Traurig, LLP.

Friday, March 13, 2009

DNA Proves Bolsheviks Killed All of Russian Czar's Children

Note: If you haven't taken time to read about Nicholas and his family, please do so. Their story is fascinating, and so very sad. I've always thought there was most likely no chance of survival for any of the children after they sat for their family photograph and executed. It would appear the family can now be truly at rest.

One of the most enduring mysteries of the 20th century has been put to rest: DNA analysis of bone fragments has proven that two of Czar Nicholas' children believed to have escaped were killed with their royal family during the Russian Revolution.

Czar Nicholas II, from left, daughters Olga, Maria, wife Alexandra, kids Anastasia, Alexei and Tatiana in 1917.

The chemically damaged and burnt remains were found in the Romanov family's makeshift grave outside the city of Yekaterinburg, Russia, in 2007.

In 2008, scientists used bone and tooth fragments to identify the remains as those of the two missing......

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

1921 Obituary Gushes on First Wife, Ignores Second

Reading older obituaries in the quest for more family information can be fun. Sometimes, you really wonder who wrote the obituary and what were their motives for what was said, or in some cases, not said.

Such is the case for a 1921 obituary I just received. The newly deceased, William Henry Swift RITCHIE, appears to have been murdered in his official position of Assistant Marshall in Kentucky.

The obituary I saw is not from West Point, Kentucky, where he was living, but rather, it was from the place of his birth in Washington County, Pennsylvania. I found the obituary odd, and maybe you will as well.

...March 31, 1921 McDonald PA Outlook
Canonsburg, March 21--Friends here were advised today of the
tragic death near West Point, Ky., a few days ago of W. H. S. RITCHIE,
formerly a prominent merchant of Canonsburg and well known to all persons
who resided in this community until he left here in 1883. According to word
received here Mr. RITCHIE, who was serving as deputy marshal of West Point,
was murdered while serving papers at a house outside that town.

Mr. RITCHIE was born in Canonsburg June 9, 1850. At the age of
ten years he entered his father's store. With the exception of the time he
attended school he worked in the store, and when he was 20 years of age the
principal management of the business was assumed by him. He became sole
proprietor in 1875. The building in Central avenue was built in 1877-78.

Mr. RITCHIE was twice married. His first wife was Sadie MILLER,
daughter of the late Thomas MILLER of Chartiers township and later of
Canonsburg and sister of the Rev. Dr. David REED of Oakmont, John C. MILLER,
of Chartiers township, and the late J. Martin MILLER, of Plum Run, and
Andrew S. MILLER, of Bellevue. Mr. RITCHIE's second wife survives, with a
son and daughter, who reside in West Point, Ky. He was also a cousin of
Miss Margaret LIINDSAY of McDonald.

Did you note the first wife and her family history? Did you note the scant mention of a living widow?

So, off I went on the net this morning to see if I could determine why the second wife was barely mentioned. With that said, let me share some of what I uncovered.

William Henry Swift RITCHIE's first wife, Sarah Jane Miller, was a native of Washington County, PA (oh, and a cousin of mine). She was born 1852 and died at age 40 in 1892. She bore William three children: Madeline (b. 1876. d. 1958), William C (b. 1879), and Theodore M (b. 1873).

After Sarah's untimely death, William remarried in 1894 to Leo (b. 1869 in Alabama). William and Leo had six children. I believe five of them survived to adulthood.

Mystery solved. The second wife had no ties to the local community of his and his first wife's birth, therefore, it appears not to have been important. His first wife's family were early pioneers in the area and, therefore, of much more local interest.

Now to the other mystery surrounding W. H. S. Ritchie that I have not uncovered yet. His father was Craig Ritchie. What I don't know is if they tie into my other Ritchie family in Allegheny County who migrated from Ireland by 1850. This Ritchie family is the James Ritchie family who also married a cousin of Sarah Jane Miller in 1861.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Family-ology Testing Genealogy Program

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

I haven't yet seen this program, due to my travels, but the press release does sound interesting:

myFamily•ology Genealogy Program Enters Beta Testing

myFamily•ology today announced the beta release of its one-of-a-kind Web-Based Family Genealogy Program. Amateur and professional genealogists are invited to help test the soon-to-be released software program before it is available to the public.

myFamily•ology has invested significant time and resources in developing the features that genealogists have come to expect and that make genealogy such a fun and worthwhile hobby. myFamily•ology’s Web-Based Family Genealogy Program offers features no other genealogy program has ever offered – either as PC software or as an online Web-based application.

The Web-Based Family Genealogy Program from myFamily•ology allows you to:
Work on your own or collaboratively with family members
Control access to your private tree with required individual passwords
Update genealogical details for the same person in multiple files with one click
Easily attach sources, photos, notes, etc. to multiple family members
Search genealogical information by birth, death, notes, or place
View/Print/Export 18 different Reports, Lists, and Charts
Receive warnings and reports for probable data issues
Share sources with other researchers and receive notification of possible matches from members' databases
Track the accuracy and completion of your family tree with myFamily•ology’s color-coded Progress Rating Chart
Beta Testers evaluating the functionality of the program before it is released to the public will provide recommendations for fixes, changes, enhancements, and improvements to the program.

As an incentive for helping myFamily•ology perfect its genealogy program, once the service officially goes live all Beta Testers will be able to access their files for one full year free of charge. After that, if a participant decides to continue using the program, that Beta Tester will receive a 50% discount on his or her subscription level, for life.

To register as a Beta Tester for myFamily•ology’s Web-Based Family Genealogy Program, please go to

About myFamily•ology

myFamily•ology® is a security conscious, Web-based provider of genealogy tools to help you build and organize a precise family history and a reliable family tree that can be shared with family and friends. For more information, please visit

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