Thursday, September 12, 2013

New book on Virginia 1810 census out

Census books really don't excite me anymore. After all the census images are readily available on more than one subscription site. I touch them often. What kind of genealogist wouldn't? They are almost the first place that most of us go to figure a family out in broad terms. So why mention this book?

Because it is absolutely a gem. My reasons:

1) substitution of the personal property tax list information for eighteen counties
2) the author, John Vogt has been reading Virginia handwriting for a bout a hundred years (well not really, but you would think so) and reads it much better than a person paid to index so many names a second.
3) I can use this as finding aid to the census images
4) its page count to price ratio is not bad, over 400 pages
5) If you don't want the entire 1810 census index for Virginia (which includes West Virginia for those who forgot for just a moment) you can also get individual volumes at the county level.

The book:

by John Vogt. 2013, 8x10, xv, 392 pages. Paperback; printed on acid-free stock. $39.95

You can find this book on the Heritage Books website at:

You can find full information on the publisher's website here:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Robert Burns, R.I.P.

I come from a family very interested in things Scottish. I own two kilts (which no longer fit). I was President of the Council of Scottish Clans and Associations, Inc. for four years, was Clan Scott Genealogist for fifteen years, and used to have the postnomials of FSA Scot. after my name. I generally only drink single-malt scotch, if given the choice. In March 2013 I will be in Houston speaking to the Houston Genealogical Forum half the time on Scottish research (any guesses what the other half will be?). Then in January of next year I am teaching Scottish research at Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy with the Coordinator Carolyn Barkley, MLS, FSA Scot. When I meet people who first met me years ago, there is the constant, well almost constant, reminder of "Where are the kilts?" Or something to that effect.

You might remember that today is Robert Burns birthday, January 25th. People will be meeting, coming together, and if they are very lucky eating haggis, a substance banned in the U.S. for 21 years. Fortunately, the ban was lifted in 2010. American imitations gave haggis a bad name during the BSE (aka Mad Cow Disease) scare.

Robert Burns is probably the person most responsible for haggis being known outside of Scotland. His poem Address to a Haggis will be spoken out loud many times around the world this week. Here is the first verse.

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak yer place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my airm.

Now you might think that Burns, was based on his reputation, a peasant. That is what Burns biographer, Dr. Currie, said. "In reality a peasant." The Rev. Charles Rogers, L.L.D. did not think so, so he took a look at the lineage of this Scottish poet. Rogers, based his work on the "Notes on his Name and Family," a thin duodecimo (remind me to look that up) published privately by Dr. James Burnes in 1851. That and entries in the parochial and other registers. Rogers published his work as Genealogical Memoirs of the Family of Burns and of the Scottish House of Burnes in 1877 for the Royal Historical Society. 

It turns out that the Burns family (then Burnes) was actually not bad off. They intermarried with the Keiths of Craig, a branch of the House of Keith-Marischal. Then there was the grandfather. But you will have to read the book. Such Keiths would make me a cousin. Mother will not be pleased. I'll remind her that it is on her husband's side of the family, but she still won't like it.

If you are interested, Heritage Books published a reprint of the 1877 work in 2009. It can be found here.

P.S. The reason my mother does not like Burns is because she is a Sir Walter Scott fan and considers the Burns to be overrated. Roger's wrote a book on Sir Walter Scott also, and it eventually would end up in an issue of the Scott Genealogical Quarterly, but we will save that for his birthday on 15 August.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Clark Veterans Cemetery

  Marine Corps Deaths, 1917-1921, Craig R. Scott available from
Marine Corps Deaths, 1917-1921, Craig R. Scott
available from

I am working on a book on Marine Corps Dead, 1917 to 1921. Always has been something that I wanted to do, so now I am doing it. It is almost finished. It actually was finished months ago, but I decided to add more information, like are they buried in Arlington, or in a National Cemetery. American Battle Monuments Commission has been helpful for those buried overseas. Then I decided, well if there was a Find A Grave entry, I at least should mention that there was such a thing. Nothing specific just that there was a entry.

USS Helena. Photo credit: Library of Congress.
USS Helena. Photo credit: Library of Congress.
While working I came across Corporal Paul Vincent Smith, Marine Detachment, USS Helena died in Hong Kong, China on June 27, 1921 of some disease. His sister, Ethel Bearde lived at 2 Bouton St., Norwalk, Connecticut at the time of his death according to Marine Corps records.

By consulting Find a Grave I found that he was buried in the Clark Veterans Cemetery, Clark Freeport Zone, Philippines. Reading about the cemetery I found that thousands of veterans are buried there. Especially, American soldiers and Filipino Scouts who served in the U.S. Army and other American veterans.

  Coffins of Spanish American War dead. Credit: Library of Congress.
Coffins of Spanish American War dead. Credit: Library of Congress.

It looks like the cemetery came into being about 1900 at the conclusion of the Spanish-American War. Since I know from research in Quartermaster Records, years ago, that many Americans were disinterred in the Philippines and sent by way of Manila to San Francisco and then on to the next of kin, this was of interest to me.  The responsible organization for moving remains from the Philippines to the U.S. was the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, was the U.S. Burial Corps. They also move remains from Cuba. One day I hope to have a reason to touch those records again.

Fast forward past 8,600 burials including World War II, Vietnam and the Iraqi War (just one in 2004), and many dependents. Whereas in 1900 is was an army post called Fort Stotsenburg, now it was now a place named Clark Air Force Base. I place I visited many times during my two years in Subic Bay (different story). Prior to becoming Clark Air Force Base in 1948, the cemetery had been solely administered by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy. In 1949 the U.S. Air Force assumed responsibility. In 1984 is was the last active USAF cemetery outside of the United States.

Then in 1991, Mount Pinatubo, an active volcano erupted, and buried the cemetery with eight inches of volcanic ash. In November 1991 the USAF left Clark Air Force Base. Basically the cemetery was forgotten about and abandoned by the U.S. Government.

In 1994, veterans belonging to the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 2485 stepped up to clean up this, what is a good word, disgrace. Since then VFW members has administered and maintained the cemetery at a level that prevented in from getting any worse. For such a massive task there is never enough volunteers or donations, but there is always a lot of hard work. They even kept the cemetery open to new burials of American and Philippine Scouts who had a valid DD Form 214. They did this by arrangement with the Philippine Government. Arrangements were something the Air Force failed to create when they left the ash behind.

The Clark Veterans Restoration Association was created to promote the cemetery and to advocate that the U.S. Government to reassume it responsibility to administer the cemetery.

Well, to say the least as I was learning all of this information, I was getting more and more irritated by the lack of concern on the part of the U.S. Government for our veterans. Maybe it was just me.

Then I learned that about ten days ago, President Obama signed a bill that turns the cemetery over to the American Battle Monuments Commission. $5M dollars to make it all right and get it into the ABMC system.

Evidently, in April 2012, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) introduced "The Remembering America's Forgotten Veterans Cemetery Act," which had 15 bipartisan co-sponsors. The act requires the ABMC to restore, operate and maintain the cemetery to honor those buried there.

I feel so much better. I just don't remember seeing this bipartisan effort on the news. Must just be me.

There is a picture of a tombstone at 121012af_Clark_Cemetery_500.JPG

A copy of the Ayotte bill is found at

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Present for the Legal Genealogist

  I am doing something that I don't normally do. I am reposting somebody else's blog. I hope she does not mind, because I was not going to ask her for permission given what I am about to say. I guess I am playing it forward. I like this person and what she does for genealogy so much that I gave her a Christmas present (she what she want's for Christmas below). And I am asking you to consider doing the same thing if you are of the same mind as I am. I learn from the person almost every time she she put her fingers on her keyboard. If you don't get her blog, you should consider that also. 




P.S. Please go look at the original blog post as it has pictures that I could not import.



The Legal Genealogist

Posted: 01 Dec 2012 05:50 AM PST
Not my two front teeth
Drum roll, please. The Legal Genealogist is about to make a major announcement to my family:
I love you.
Gee… what a surprise.
No, really. I do love you. So that’s not the announcement.
But, as you know only too well, I have never, ever, ever, loved this time of year.
And since you all know it, that’s not the announcement either.
And though I know some of you think I’m a unAmerican pinko Commie freak who stubbornly refuses to do my part as a patriotic citizen in helping to revitalize the American economy, it doesn’t rise to major announcement level when I say that the simple fact of the matter is:
I loathe Christmas shopping.
I hate having to do it for others. I hate having to come up with a list for myself. I hate the commercialism, the “gimme gimme” attitude so many people have, the disappointment on the face of a loved one who doesn’t share my enthusiasm for what I chose, the feeling of disappointment I have when something I’ve chosen isn’t appreciated.
I hate having to try to figure out, year after year, what the “hot item” is for a particular age group, and I hate the knowledge that no matter when I start, I am always — always — going to be trying to order something on December 23rd for overnight delivery.
Bah humbug.
Fortunately, as each of you, my much-loved nieces and nephews, have gotten older, I’ve been able to make the shift from the “what are you getting me” mode to the “how can we do something good” mode. One by one, as each of you has crossed into adulthood, the toys have been set aside, and we’ve moved to a contribution in your name to a charity of your choice.1
Much better. For me, less stress. For you, I hope, the sense of doing something meaningful rather than collecting more stuff.
So as we enter the month of December this year, I’m returning the favor. I’m telling all of you, my nieces and nephews,2 — and here’s the announcement — what I want for Christmas:
I want a War of 1812 pension.
No, really. I do want a War of 1812 pension.
And you should want one (or more) too. We know darned good and well that my 3rd (your 4th) great grandfather Jesse Fore was a fifer in Captain Michael Gaffney’s company of South Carolina Militia3 — and he got a pension.4 And my 3rd (your 4th) great grandfather Elijah Gentry and his brother James Gentry and their father (my 4th, your 5th great grandfather) Elijah Gentry Sr. all served in the 1st Regiment Mississippi Territorial Volunteers.5 None of them survived long enough to get a pension, but Elijah Jr.’s widow might have qualified.
So, what I want for Christmas is a War of 1812 pension. And here’s how you do it.
Head over to the website of the Illinois State Genealogical Society, where I’m a member. (You do remember that your grandfather and great grandparents all settled in Chicago when they came over from Germany, right?6) They’re doing something really neat, and I hope you help our family join in.
It’s called the ISGS War of 1812 Pension Match Challenge. It’s part of the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ “Preserve The Pensions” campaign to raise $3.7 million to digitize all of the War of 1812 Pension Application Files at the National Archives and put them online where they can be accessed free.
And here’s how the challenge part works:
ISGS will MATCH any donation up to the first $10,000 that is made before December 31, 2012. This means that if you donate $10, ISGS will match your donation with another $10; if you give $100, ISGS will give $100. In addition, has announced it will also match the overall amount donated by ISGS, which means that the $10,000 raised plus the $10,000 in matching donations will become $40,000! Your $10 donation actually becomes $40 to help digitize these files!
Now c’mon. You were going to drop $10 on that Chia pet, weren’t you? The soap-on-a-rope? The pine-scented candle? The (sigh) car air freshener?
Do us both a favor. Buy me a War of 1812 pension for Christmas instead. Send that same $10 via an online form or by a plain old-fashioned check to the Illinois State Genealogical Society and its ISGS War of 1812 Pension Match Challenge.
You’ll make me very happy… and very proud… this Christmas.
Love ya. (I do, y’know… Really.)

  1. Letting each of you choose the charity has put me on some, um, shall we say interesting mailing lists in the past few years, but hey… the entertainment value has been enormous.
  2. No, not you in the under-21 and/or still-in-college crowd. You’re still getting your toys (or the cash), and I still want my caramel chocolates.
  3. Compiled service records, Jesse Fore, musician, Captain Michael Gaffney’s Company, 1st Regiment South Carolina Militia; Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations, War of 1812; Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1762-1984, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  4. Jesse Fore (Musician, Capt. Michael Gaffney’s Co., 1 Regiment South Carolina Militia, War of 1812), pension no. S.O. 4,553, S.C. 7,041; Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Applications Based on Service in the War of 1812, 1871-1900; Pension and Bounty Land Applications Based on Service between 1812 and 1855; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  5. Compiled service records, Elijah Gentry, Pvt., James Gentry, Pvt., and Elijah Gentry Sr., Pvt., Captain Samuel Dale’s Company, 1st Regiment Mississippi Territorial Volunteers, War of 1812, RG 94, NA-Washington.
  6. See 1930 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, Chicago Ward 16, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 17, page 223(B) (stamped), sheet 18(B), dwelling 155, family 386, Hugo Geissler household; digital image, ( : accessed 5 Apr 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T626, roll 441.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Angels, the Donkeys and the Prodigal Son

My recent post on the Transitional List about people who make other people feel bad about their genealogy.

Everyone was ______(insert appropriate term here)__________ in the beginning. For fifteen years I was alone in the wilderness and I did not understand source, much less evidence, but I had a lot of facts. But my house was built of cards on a foundation of sand. And then I learned that there were rules, but they were funny rules. They were rules you could chose to adhere to, or not. At first I stumbled among the petunias, but I found faith in myself and my ability. Misplaced as it might have been at the time. And then I gained courage, and I presented myself to the special people. And I found that my fear of them was misplaced. That they welcomed me, even with my arrogance and my bravado. And they helped me. And it was good. And I learned that genealogy is like the world, everything, almost, is a normal curve. That there are angels on one end and donkeys on the other, but that generally in the middle are people that help me and I help them, as I can.

I avoid donkeys. They tend to be stubborn, kick a lot, and believe they are the angels. But you know the angels. The angels have a funny thought. They think we all should be angels. The donkeys, they are afraid of you. You are competition. The angels love competition, because it makes us all better.

So when you think someone is being a donkey you have to examine the situation. Because what you think might be a donkey, really might be an angel helping you to become an angel. None of us is perfect, not even the angels. If you think you are perfect in your genealogy you might be a donkey in the making. You have to look at your palace and see if it really is a house of cards.

Genealogy is a wide field of endeavor with millions of people with opinions about things. Among them are people with badges. The badges are unimportant to you. A badge does not grant anyone special powers. A badge does not make a donkey anything other than a donkey with a badge. Angels don't need badges, but they like to test themselves and keeping a  badge is a good way to do that. But it does not make them a better angel. They are just an angel with a badge. And by definition, an angel does not know they are an angel. If they think they are an angel, by definition they are not.

So my advice is that if you pay attention to the first two chapters, live by the words source, evidence and fact, and recognize the relationship that exists between them you will be fine.

And the next time you are at a conference and you see a group of people that you think are people that understand the first two chapters really well, sit down and talk with them. And if they aren't having a meeting, you will be welcome. That meeting part is always a problem. But you will figure it out.

This is by far the easiest group in the world to join. It let me be a member in 1985 and it helped to make me a better genealogist.

So evaluate the criticisms. If they are donkey, chalk it up to mean spirit and move on. Dwelling on it just foolish, donkeys are every where. But if you can see their point then learn from it and move on a better genealogist. And that is what really counts, becoming a better genealogist.


A good friend said he was half donkey, half angel, but I think he is one of the seraphim. Six wings, only two working, flying around the angels and learning from them. That is what I feel like. Burning to learn more. Singing Holy, Holy, Holy. I think that describes him well.

And the ostrich, he is one of those also.

I hope I am one also.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I had so much FUN!!!!

I just spent a week in the National Archives as a tour leader for the National Genealogical Society First Annual (at least I hope it is an annual event) D.C. Research Tour.

I have to tell you that I had a blast. Twenty-four people all anxious to learn more about records in the National Archives. What more could I guy like me ask for?

It was so much fun that I thought I would do it again. Only this time as a Heritage Books tour. And in such a way that it would not conflict with the 2nd Annual National Genealogical Society D.C. Research Trip.

One of the problems with the D.C. trip, and I am not being critical, is that orientation to the tour occurred the night before the first visit to NARA. I think that can be solved by using a GoToMeeting format and having orientation a week or so before the event so there is time to let it rest and have time to think about it. And then of course have a quick check closer to the event.

Then my mind wrapped around the possibilities. Why not have about four lectures spread over the month before the event that dealt with the theme. So if the theme was Revolutionary War it might look like this:

Understanding Revolutionary War Compiled Military Service Records
Understanding Revolutionary War Pensions
Understanding Pension Ledgers, Pension Payments, Last and Final Payments
Understanding Bounty Land
(requires internet connection, headset, and whatever else it takes to make GoToMeeting work on your end. Sessions will be recorded and available for download later)

Three days at the National Archives
Two days at the DAR Library
(meaning that I will be at each one of these places on the appropriate days and available for guidance and consultation)

Hotel and Food on you.
Transportation to and from facilities on you.

Cost: $225

What do you think of the concept?
What themes should be considered?
What facilities should be visited?
What have I forgotten?
Would you go?

Help me, please.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Executions on file

Whenever there is a question of a hanging I like to look at

 Executions is the U.S. 1608-2002: The ESPY File

on the web. Google it.

My experience with the file is that it has always been a good. I have found every hanging I was looking for.