St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Madness Monday: Decorating the Tree with Borrowed Ornaments and Nuts

The holidays are here and our memories and houses are aglow with the traditions of our ancestors.  What do you do when an over eager family seeker decides to go nuts and publish undocumented lines as your blood?

Recently, a very nice lady contacted me through a documented cousin of mine and asked for some information on the family.  While she and I share no blood, her grandchild does have several drops of my blood flowing in his little veins.  The lady was excited to try and find information on the family so she could put a book together for the little guy.  Super, I thought.

Until I saw what she decided to publish.  She apparently looked at one census and found the name of a young lady (my great grandma) in question in a family and adopted that family as hers.  Arrrggghhh.  Another fairy tale!

She did not seek to try and verify the family as the right family for the young lady in question.  In fact, she chose the wrong family with the same surname living in the next county as mine.  Nope.  Sorry.  Wrong.

I sent her an email and suggested she look at the documentation for the family she chose as mine to see if she was really right.  When I was a newbie, I had looked at that family and found evidence they were not mine.  I used wills, family photos, family Bibles and land deeds to support what I found.

Unfortunately, that didn't set well with her fairy tale and she decided to ignore me.  Now, there's another line that will go on thinking they have blood they don't.

This is not uncommon as Ancestry allows anyone to post anything without documentation.  As I have said before, Ancestry trees are just fluff unless you can put some meat on those bones.

A professional genealogy buddy of mine recently commented on this very subject as another avid genealogy buff lamented on fact vs. fiction in trees.  With her kind permission, I have included her thoughts on the subject......

Being a professional genealogist,  I have dealt with this type of situation and it can be very touchy. You  do not want to discourage an exchange of genealogical information that  may be beneficial to you but, at the same time, you do not want to have your hard-earned research used in a errant way by
someone else.

Below is a list of suggestions to help weigh the merit of sharing your genealogical research with someone you don't really know.

    1. As  the requester, I feel the asking party must prove how they are     
related to me and I have to be satisfied that they are correct.  If  I have any
doubt of their motives, I discontinue contact.
    2. I do my own basic research on what they provide to see if I feel it is
correct.  Request a few of specific source/citations or a few copies of
original documents and see if you can  find that information yourself.  If     
they refuse or are not willing to provide a little bit of specific
documentation, I  discontinue contact.  If I find definite evidence that the     
requester is barking up the wrong tree, I will gladly send what I find     
source/citation, documents and all, so hopefully, they will take that and     
continue down the correct path.
    3. Put a copyright disclaimer on any information you send to someone
else.  This provides you with some protection if your research is used     
erroneously for profit without going through the proper procedures.  Many times
a copyright disclaimer will make the receiving party think twice about
using your information without your permission.
    4. Sometimes you have to be blunt.  If you feel the person's research
is wrong and they insist they are part of your tree, inform them of the
discrepancies you see in a generalized fashion, i.e. I do not have record
of my ancestor being in Ohio during that time frame or this ancestor  would
only have been 10 years old at that time so she is probably not the     
mother.  Ask them to prove you wrong.  If they are a true genealogist,
they will appreciate the truth.  And if it proves to be your missing link,
you will benefit.  But again,  use caution.   Make sure you see  good,
sound genealogy methods and documentation in their research.  If not, steer
    5. If someone tries to publish a genealogical work without
source/citations and original documents, no  editor worth their salt is
going to touch their project.  If they self-publish for profit and you  have
used the copyright disclaimer on your research, you could have an attorney go
after them.  If they self-publish for their own use, there isn't much
you can do.
    6. My final point is to be careful what genealogical information you
supply to someone else, even if you are related.  DO NOT ever give out or     
post personal information on living individuals.  There are persons out there
that have been victims of identity theft because an unaware relative posted
their personal information on the Internet in a family tree.

Hope this helps,
Pam Nixon

Whispers From The Past
Family History Research Service
Westland, PA  15378-0008

Ahh, genealogy.  Sometimes, you just have some nuts on the tree with your beautiful ornaments.

©2010 AS Eldredge

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Arlington's Newest Hero is Preserving and Honoring Vets

All I can say is "wow."  This young man is a tremendous hero to the families of the men and women who have fallen while serving America in the War on Terror.  The compassion of this young patriot has resulted in a tremendous database for Arlington.

Read more on Ricky Gilleland and the Preserve and Honor Project:

Visit the site:

His volunteer work to honor our veterans should inspire us all to preserve our history.  Ricky is right--  we are people, not numbers.  So, come on and step up to the graves in Arlington if you visit or live in the area.  Or if you a family member of one of the fallen, be sure to honor their memory by telling their story on the Preserve and Honor Blog.

Ahh, genealogy.  What great heroes there are among us.

©2010 AS Eldredge

Monday, November 08, 2010

Call for Fayette County, Georgia Genealogy Buffs to Assist in Index

The US GenWeb Census Project is in need of help.  If you live in Fayette County, Georgia, or have old family ties to the area, then this is a great project to get involved in while sitting in the comfort of your home.

Fayette County Mortality Schedules attached to the 1850-1880 Census Project have been abstracted and are now in need of a second transcriber.

If you can help, visit the US GenWeb pages for Georgia.  According to the webmaster, more information can be found on the Fannin County pages.

Ahh, genealogy.  It's the gift that keeps on giving throughout the generations.

©2010 AS Eldredge

Tis the Season: Making the List and Dabbing Our Eyes

How many times have you cried when reading of a death or while attending a marriage? Early newspapers can be a great source for us genealogy buffs.  Just think. Our ancestors used the printed press as a great way to communicate items of importance.

It's just so rewarding in today's world to find those old notices.  Of course, sometimes those old notices leave a lot to be desired.  As a friend reminded me recently, our loved ones didn't move around that much in the old days and so detailed obituaries weren't necessary.  If one could read and knew the family, then the reader would most likely have known the details that today's genealogy buffs are digging for.

The all volunteer group that is diligently working on indexing Pittsburgh and Allegheny Co, Pennsylvania deaths, marriages, divorces and photos from early Pittsburgh area newspapers is still digging in the newspapers to find them.

I just can't believe this little project I suggested and spearhead is now close to being one year old.  Our actual anniversary is in January, but now is the perfect season for me to give thanks to the wonderful volunteers who are involved with me on this list.

The last update for deaths now includes 56, 599 names while the marriage index now has 14, 440 happy couples.

Be sure to check it out at

The project was noted in recent editions of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter,Georgia Front Page, and the Western PA Genealogy Society.  Here is the press on our little index project:

Early Pittsburgh Marriages and Deaths Indices are Online and Growing

In January 2010, a small band of genealogy seekers embarked on a project to make anyone who has roots in the Pittsburgh area jump for joy.  43 volunteers have been indexing marriages, deaths, and divorces from early Allegheny County newspapers and putting it all online at no cost.  Over 52,000 death entries and over 11,000 marriages have been indexed and put online through August.  The dates of the newspapers range from 1806-1987.

Project coordinator Ann S Eldredge says the idea of an index came to her as she regularly keeps in touch with other Pittsburgh researchers on the popular mailing list of Allegheny County sponsored by  An avid genealogy researcher, Eldredge remarked, "I saw on the list that Google had put images of several old newspapers online and Pittsburgh was on it. After spending many hours of looking for my family and investing in Visine for the eye strain, I realized I couldn't be the only one who had uncovered a few golden nuggets of information. It seemed so simple.  If anyone was looking at any of the dates, they could write down all the names of that day.  After all, how many of your ancestors do you not know when they married or died?"

With that simple question posed to the group, an index was born.  Eldredge volunteered to capture the names the volunteers put on the list. List member Norm Minert quickly set up a page for the newspapers submitted so there would be no duplication of efforts.  USGenWeb Allegheny County Archives File Manager Ellis Michaels volunteered to get the the submitted indices online.

The daily newspaper lists began to pore in.  "It didn't take long for the sheer volume of names being submitted to become overwhelming," said Eldredge.  "I quickly realized I needed help.  I put a call out for volunteers to assist on my end, and they came. The enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteers are inspiring.  The work they are doing for family researchers and genealogy buffs is just fantastic.  What a gift to give."

"It's been an amazing journey over the last eight months as the volunteers have graciously given their time to read the old newspapers.  We have so many death and marriage entries from 1889 and 1890.  Since the census was lost for 1890, this almost serves as a substitute. I've found my relatives through this project.  Some of the death entries have even led to connections with living cousins.  It's been worth it."

"Stop on by and see what our volunteers have done," Eldredge said as a smile came across her face. "After all, the good folks of Pittsburgh are just dying to get in."

To view the death, marriage and divorce indices, go to .

Permission was sought from other groups to reprint the press release while kudos poured in.

Here are some of the comments sent.  While the comments came in my mailbox, the words are for all of the fantastic volunteers on this project.

"Thank you again and you have done a wonderful job.  A tip of the hat to you."
JR Jamieson, Project Volunteer

"Thank you for taking the time to index these newspaper articles.  They are wonderful for any Allegheny Co., PA researcher."
Melinda Pennington, Editor, Pennington Pedigrees

"Congrats on taking on the Pittsburgh newspaper indexing project. It is well-appreciated. Although some of the newspapers were indexed on microfilm, there was a huge gap."
Elissa Scalise Powell, CG

"I saw the article in Eastman's newsletter about your indexing project.  It's a great project.  Would you grant me permission to use the article or excerpts from the article in the North Hills Genealogists newsletter?"
Amy Arner, Co Editor, North Hills Genealogists Newsletter

Ahhh, genealogy.  Sometimes you just got to have a box of tissue nearby.

Update 11/16/2010:  Another great comment on our work:
"In 1905 there were 5 Buckley children placed in St Joseph's orphanage. No one in today's generation knew about them. Because of your efforts and the additional scraps of information made available we were able to find descendants of each of the 4 who had children. We are building the bridge back. Thank you for your fine work.'
John S

©2010 AS Eldredge

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: 1794 Indenture from Allegheny County, PA

Although I am not a blood relative of Alexander LONG or William MISKELLEY, I find this 1794 indenture interesting.

Alexander LONG was a friend, neighbor and fellow church member and founder with two of my 4g grandpas in early Allegheny Co, PA.

Ahh, genealogy.  What fun the past can be.

©2010 AS Eldredge

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Serving America Through Politics and the Military

Everyone of us has a viewpoint on politics.  While I don't always agree with all of my kin on their thoughts, I find it interesting to go back in time to see how my family has been involved in politics in one way or another throughout America's history.

The first mayor of New York on land that was American, not English, was installed at the Wall Street tavern of my grandpa.

"...The little two-story affair on the west corner of Nassau Street deserves more extended notice than its size would seem to justify. It was John Simmons' tavern, where, in February, 1784, the common council met and with appropriate ceremonies installed the newly appointed Mayor, James Duane, in the presence of the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor. It is said that Simmons weighed more than four hundred pounds, and was of such bulk that at the time of his funeral the doorway of the tavern had to be enlarged to admit the coffin. His widow continued the business for several years, and among its later proprietors were David King and Samuel Randolph. After it ceased to be a tavern it was occupied by T. & W. Benton, bootmakers ; Thomas L. Rich, merchant tailor ; John N. Baur, watchmaker, and others.

In historic interest the site on the east corner of Nassau Street is the most important in New York. Here stood the second city hall, built in 1699-1700. In 1789, having been made over into the most elegant building in America and renamed Federal Hall, it became the first capitol of the United States, and on its balcony General Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the Republic...."  (Source:  file:///Users/username/Desktop/newSimmons2009:10/New%20York%20City%20-%20Wall%20Street%20Ninety%20Years%20Ago.webarchive)

It's not hard to imagine my grandpa and his family leaning out of the windows to see General Washington become the first president of the United States.  After all, history books have documented that Washington had eaten at the family tavern back in 1784, and had hired a distant family member on his staff.

History books have also shown an uncle as being the first keeper of the door when Congress first met in NY.

Fast forward in time and see who else in the family has served America in elected office.

Uncle Samuel Smith HENRY (1786-1853)- Ohio State Representative
Cousin Ashmen Cooke HENRY (1828-1907) -  Mayor of Oakland, CA
Couisn James BUCHANAN - President of the United States
My dad-  City Council Member

While this is not a complete list, it serves to show my family has always been interested in serving America.  Not everyone has an elected office.  Many chose to serve America in the military- starting with the American Revolution.

So, elections.  Yep, they are important.  They were important to my ancestors. 

Ahh, genealogy.  My ancestors fought so I could vote.  What a gift.

©2010 AS Eldredge