Sunday, August 30, 2009

No Scanfest Today

Just a reminder that there will be no Scanfest today. We'll see you on September 27th!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Surname Saturday: MARTIN

The MARTIN line is my children's father's maternal grandmother's family. They originated from Strasbourg in what is now Alsace-Lorraine, France. This area has been fought over by the Germans and French for a couple of centuries and so the location name has consequently changed many times.

Stories and History:

Ahnentafel #56 - Francois MARTIN (b. 1792) - earliest known ancestor of this line; married Anna Eve ROUECHE

Ahnentafel #28 - Francois Joseph MARTIN (1828 - 1887) - born in Strasbourg, he immigrated to the United States where he married his wife, Rachel HUBBY, in Illinois by 1848. After farming for some time in Lind and Jones Counties in Iowa, they removed to Bon Homme County in Dakota Territory (now South Dakota).

Ahnentafel #14 - John Franklin MARTIN (1854 - 1928) - John worked for the railroad for much of his life, which may have been the reason why he lived all over the Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest. He and his wife, Angelia Rebecca LUKE, had 12 children, including a set of twins (a genetic trait carried from Angelia's family).

Ahnentafel #7 - Leona Mary MARTIN (1906 - 1993) - youngest of 12 children and a twin. Her fantastic cooking provided for her family during the Depression through a diner she and her husband, Forrest Lyton CHAPLIN, owned.

Ahnentafel #3 - my children's paternal grandmother (living)

Ahnentafel #1 - my children's father (living)

More about the MARTIN family:

1. Online database (I update this at least once a month): MARTIN ancestors and relatives (no info on living persons available)

2. Some MARTIN obituaries

3. Posts about MARTIN ancestors and relatives on this blog

4. Some scanned MARTIN documents

5. Some scanned MARTIN photos

My children's MARTIN immigration trail:

Strasbourg, Alsace (now Alsace-Lorraine) France > DeKalb Co., IL > Lind Co., IA > Jones Co., IL > Bon Homme Co., DT (now SD) > Ransom Co., ND > LaMoure Co., ND > Kootenai (now Boundary) Co., ID > Franklin Co., WA > Multnomah Co., OR > Washington Co., OR > Clark Co., WA > Yakima Co., WA > Pierce Co., WA > Clark Co., WA > Spokane Co., WA

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Light Blogging Ahead

Tomorrow I'm back at work after 10 very short weeks of summer "vacation." In my opinion, there was very little of either summer or vacation. However, I can't complain too much. I am gainfully employed in a job with great benefits doing the sort of work that is as enjoyable to me as doing genealogy: working with developmentally impaired middle-schoolers (7th and 8th grades). And, in the words of one of my principals years ago, ours is probably the only field where every year, we get a chance to start new and fresh.

Between the start of a new school year and the upcoming Washington State Genealogical Society's 2009 State Conference, I expect light blogging ahead here on AnceStories. My blogging focus for the next three weeks will be on the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society blog, as EWGS is the host society of the state conference.

I appreciate your patience!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Surname Saturday: HOEKSTRA

The HOEKSTRA line is my maternal grandmother's line. The name is Frisian and means "from the corner." In English, it is pronounced "HOOK-struh." There are many, many people with this surname whose roots originated from the provinces of Friesland and Groningen in the Netherlands, and since it is a common descriptive location surname, these families are usually not related to each other.

Stories and History:

The HOEKSTRA Family History on my website.

Ahnentafel #224 - Liewe HOEKSTRA (b. c. 1750) - my earliest known ancestor of this line may not even have used the surname HOEKSTRA, since surnames were not required until 1811 in the Netherlands. The only reason I even know his first name is because of the use of patronymics: using the father's first name as an identifying surname, or middle name (once official surnames were used).

Ahnentfael #112 - Marten Liewes HOEKSTRA (c. 1775 - bef. 1847) - the only thing I really know about this ancestor is that he married a 43-year-old woman, Fokeltje Jans HAAN, on 14 November 1820 in the municipality (similar to American counties) of Westdongeradeel, Friesland, the Netherlands, and died before she did on 22 Jul 1847, because her death record states she is a widow. They apparently had only one child, my ancestor listed next, who was born eight months before they were married, a situation not at all as scandalous as it would have been if it had happened in New England at that time.

Ahnentafel #56 - Jan Martens HOEKSTRA (1820 - 1909) - Jan was my immigrant ancestor. His first marriage ended when his wife died young and although they had had many children together (including two sets of twins), all died except one child, Geertruida, who accompanied him at the age of 12 in 1867 from Ulrum, Groningen, the Netherlands, to Holland, Ottawa Co., Michigan. Here he immediately married a widow with two children, Grietje (JONKER) DEKKER. Jan and Grietje had several children together, but only two survived, one of which was my great-great-grandfather. After Grietje's death, Jan married yet another widow in his elder years.

Ahnentafel #28 - Martin HOEKSTRA (1868 - 1944) - Originally working as a teamster for a laundry company in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan, where he probably met his wife, Janna "Jennie" TON (a laundress), he later got into carpenty work, both for the railroad and as a private contractor building houses. His railroad carpentry work got him a job for a couple of years in Tacoma, Pierce Co., Washington, a surprising discovery for me when I realized I wasn't the first of my family line to live in this state.

Ahnentafel #14 - John Martin HOEKSTRA (1892 - 1975) - I have a few faint memories of my great-grandfather, whom I last saw when I was five. They have been recorded in my AnceStory of him here.

Ahnentafel #7 - Ruth Lillian HOEKSTRA - (1919 - 2001) - my dear maternal grandmother. You can read her AnceStory here.

Ahnentafel #3 - my mother (living)

Ahnentafel #1 - myself

More about the HOEKSTRA family:

1. Online database (I update this at least once a month): HOEKSTRA ancestors and relatives (no info on living persons available).

2. Some HOEKSTRA obituaries

3. Posts about HOEKSTRA ancestors and relatives on this blog

4. Some scanned HOEKSTRA documents (more here)

5. Some scanned HOEKSTRA photos

6. Baby Book of Ruth Lillian HOEKSTRA

7. HOEKSTRA - STRONG Family Record Book - not completely scanned and uploaded

8. My HOEKSTRA Virtual Cemetery on Find A Grave

My HOEKSTRA immigration trail:

Holwerd, Westdongeradeel, Friesland, the Netherlands > Ulrum, Groningen, the Netherlands > Ottawa Co., MI > Kent Co., MI > Pierce Co., WA > Kent Co., MI > AK > Stevens Co., WA > Spokane Co., WA

Friday, August 21, 2009

FamilySearch News: Volunteers to Bring Historic Sweden Church Records Online

Volunteers to Bring Historic Sweden Church Records Online

400 million names included in largest indexing effort to-date

FALKÖPING, Sweden—FamilySearch and Svensk Arkivinformation (SVAR), a division of the National Archives of Sweden, announced today the launch of the largest online indexing initiative undertaken to-date. The two groups unveiled plans to engage Swedish volunteers throughout the world to help create a highly searchable, free online index to the historic parish registers of Sweden—200 years of recorded Swedish history as documented in the Sweden church records—comprising over 400 million names.

Swedish Parish Baptism Records

Swedish Parish Burial Records

Swedish Parish Marriage Records

In 1608 the Archbishop of Sweden asked the clergy to begin making records of births, christenings, marriages, and burials of all the residents of Sweden. By 1686, they were conducting regular examinations of the population of each parish. The church records (often called “parish registers” or “church books”) span over two centuries and chronicle the vital life events of an estimated 418 million people who moved in and out of parishes in Sweden.

“The church records are a key source for genealogists seeking Swedish ancestors because nearly everyone who lived in Sweden was recorded in a church record,” said David Rencher, FamilySearch chief genealogical officer. “The challenge now is to make those records, which are written in Swedish, available to researchers worldwide,” concluded Rencher.

“We are very pleased with the excellent cooperation we have enjoyed for many years between FamilySearch and the National Archives to microfilm and scan the Swedish church records. Now we are going to create an index that will revolutionize the genealogy research in Sweden. The simplicity of finding and reading about one’s ancestors on the Web in the millions of scanned records will attract many beginners of all ages,” said Anders Nordström, director of SVAR. “To the academic researcher, this is an entirely new means. It makes it possible to do research within disciplines on a micro level, an extent that was never possible before now,” added Nordström.

The way Swedes passed on a family name throughout the centuries is another reason why the indexing initiative is so important to family historians. “Imagine being in a Swedish community 200 years ago and 10 out of 100 people have the same first and last name as you. That’s how small the naming pool was in Scandinavia,” said Jeff Svare, FamilySearch Scandinavian collection management specialist.

If you were Anders Andersson, your father could have been Anders. Your brother could have also been named Anders, as well as your uncle. To help distinguish which Anders Andersson you were referring to at the time, locals added the name of the farm (residence) of an individual to keep them straight. “Otherwise, when you’re trying to search for Anders Andersson today, your ancestor falls into the proverbial fog of same-named people and you don’t know who they are without the additional context,” added Svare. The FamilySearch index will include the residence or farm name from the individual’s vital record. This information has been extracted to assist patrons in identifying their Swedish ancestor.

The goal is to engage the Swedish community in creating a highly searchable, free online index to the Sweden church records. When complete, the index will be the single largest point of access to information contained in the historic parish registers of Sweden. The free index will link to images of the original records hosted by the National Archives of Sweden (SVAR). In addition to the free public index that will be made available, SVAR might charge a nominal fee for public patrons who want to view or print the images.

FamilySearch is the global leader of online indexing. It launched its online indexing program in 2008, and tens of thousands of volunteers recently helped reach another major milestone by indexing their 250 millionth name. FamilySearch currently has 65 online indexing projects underway.

Index Utility in English

Index Utility in Swedish

For this project, FamilySearch will create digital images of the Sweden church records provided by SVAR. Volunteers worldwide will then use FamilySearch’s Web-based indexing tool to view the digital images and extract only the desired information from the image. That data will then be processed and published online in searchable indexes linked to the digital images.

Volunteers need only Internet access and the ability to read Swedish to contribute to this historic effort. A unique quality control process ensures a highly accurate, finished index. Each document is transcribed by two different indexers, wherever they are in the world. Any discrepancies in their two extractions are then forwarded to a third volunteer—an arbitrator—who makes any needed corrections between the two interpretations.

The project will start with records from Örebro, Uppsala, and Södermanland counties. Indexing will begin with the earliest year available for each parish and continue through 1860. A typical downloaded “batch” (group of records) will take a volunteer about 30 to 40 minutes to complete. The indexing utility has built-in tutorials and helps. Anyone interested in volunteering for the Sweden Church Records project can do so at

About FamilySearch
FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The National Archives ( and the regional state archives supervise all public records of the agencies of the central government, as well as regional and local authorities in Sweden. The Military Archives and the Research Center SVAR (Swedish Archive Information) are part of the National Archives. SVAR provides research facilities, produces and distributes microfiche, and provides scanned and digitalized records on the Web (

Thursday, August 20, 2009 Adds Maps to Its Family History Suite

New version 4.0 of’s Family Tree Builder visualizes family history in colorful maps, and offers Family Chat™ in a new family toolbar

London, England & Tel Aviv, IsraelAugust 13, 2009 –, a leading family and genealogy Website, today announced the release of Family Tree Builder 4.0. With more than 5 million downloads so far, Family Tree Builder is the world’s most popular free genealogy software, allowing seasoned pros and beginners alike to build family trees, research their family history, add photos and videos, and obtain unique Smart Matches™ with other family trees worldwide. The key improvements of the new version include a map module, a family toolbar with Family Chat™ and extensive support for albums to organize a family’s photos, videos and documents.

“In recent years we've seen a growing number of people who want to learn more about their ancestors and where they came from”, said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of “With the new map module, people can get an appealing visual representation of their family's life journeys. They can also map the addresses of family members, quickly find all events and photos associated with a particular place and even standardize place names using smart suggestions. This provides a fascinating new perspective for millions of people interested in their family history.”

The new family toolbar provides direct access to family sites on, adds powerful genealogy search and features Family Chat – a text, audio and video chat system built specifically for family use. Members also receive useful birthday reminders on the family toolbar without leaving the Web page they are on.

The Family Tree Builder software – free to download at – is already well respected by family history enthusiasts for its ease of use and excellent handling of photos and other digital media. The addition of albums for organizing photos, videos and documents makes it an even more useful tool. Family Tree Builder 4.0 also adds slideshows for showcasing family photos in appealing ways; and a new screen saver that displays family photos based on tagging and face recognition technology. is a leading online destination for families, where people can find relatives, research family history, and stay connected with family members across the globe. In addition, offers automatic photo tagging technology that makes it easier to label, organize and search for digital photos, giving families another fun way to stay in touch.

About was founded by a team of people who combine a passion for family history with the development of innovative technology. It is now one of the world’s leading online networks for families, and the second largest family history website. is available in 34 languages, is home to more than 33 million family members and hosts profiles of 360 million people.

For more information, visit or

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 Bringing High-Speed Scanners to FGS in Little Rock is excited to provide FGS conference attendees the opportunity to have their family records scanned, for free, on high–speed scanners.

The scanners will be available for up to 15-minute scanning sessions on Thursday, September 3, through Saturday, September 5, during the exhibit hall hours.

Scanning-session signs-ups will open each morning—sign up Thursday morning for a Thursday time slot, Friday morning for a Friday time slot, and so on. The scanning machines and sign-ups will be located in the Toltec Lobby registration area of the Statehouse Convention Center.

To help finalize scanning plans, we're asking conference attendees to visit the following URL and let us know if they will be bringing items to scan:

Details about Scanning

· imaging specialists will operate the scanner

· is bringing two scanners to the conference: a high–speed, loose–leaf scanner that will scan documents and photographs in full color and a planetary scanner for books and more fragile items

· Attendees will be able to scan about 100 family photographs or documents during a 15–minute session

· Scanned images will be saved to flash drives (provided at no cost by and given to attendees. (Note: Scanned images will NOT be uploaded to the website by personnel.)

· Due to anticipated demand, conference attendees will be able to sign up for only one scanning session during the conference

  • There is always a possibility that damage to older, more fragile documents may occur during the scanning process. urges patrons to use their best judgment when choosing documents to be scanned.

New Family Tree Maker 2010 Software Adds New Storytelling and Organizational Tools

No. 1 Selling Family Tree Software Continues To Offer Users Online Integration with and Other Web Resources Including Microsoft® Bing™ Maps

PROVO, Utah, August 19, 2009 --, the world's largest online resource for family history, today announced the release of Family Tree Maker 2010, a new and improved version of the world's No. 1 selling family history software.

Family Tree Maker 2010 provides users the tools they need to build their family tree, record their memories and organize their family photos, stories, videos and audio clips in a way that will help them easily capture and share the story of their ancestors.

Additionally, this new software provides unique ways to view your family history. Users can now track the migration paths of a person and their family through time, by mapping event locations with Microsoft® Bing™ Maps. They can also view relationships between any two people in their family tree by using the improved relationship calculator and create family books made from information and photos from their tree.

Users can also utilize the robust collection of family history records on and powerful search features - without leaving Family Tree Maker. When connected to the Internet, Family Tree Maker 2010 automatically searches for historical documents about the individuals in the user's family tree. With a few mouse clicks, users with an subscription can view and import these historical records into their family tree.

“In the last 20 years, Family Tree Maker has always made it easy to discover your story, preserve your legacy and share your unique heritage as you explore your family tree on your personal computer,” said Andrew Wait, Senior Vice President and General Manager, U.S., “Now Family Tree Maker 2010 introduces even richer storytelling and organizational tools that can add new life to your family history.”

What’s New in Family Tree Maker 2010?

The following new and improved features expand Family Tree Maker's capabilities:

· Improved integration with – Easily download your family tree, including photos and stories, directly into Family Tree Maker 2010.

· New and improved charts and reports – Tell a richer family story with numerous improvements to charts and reports including a new timeline report, improved family group sheet and genealogy reports.

· Better ways to organize photos and other media – Easier and faster ways to add, link and categorize photos and files in bulk.

· Photo Slideshows – Create and share slideshows based on images included within your family tree. Slideshows can also be exported to share with others.

· Family books made from your tree – Create a book about your family history to share with friends and family.

· Standard source templates – Cite the right information in your records with access to powerful sourcing tools that let you document and rate each citation.

· Robust relationship calculator – Quickly calculate the relationships between any two people in your tree.

· Scanner support – Add photos to your tree directly from your scanner and organize them into categories at the same time.

· Extended family birthday calendars – Easily create and share calendars that show family birthdays and anniversaries.

· Extensive geographical migrations – View a person or family timeline with event locations, like births, marriages, residences and death, mapped geographically to show migration paths you can follow through time.

· Improved performance – faster load times and quicker performance across the application.

We have built Family Tree Maker 2010 with our broad range of users in mind. The software spans the range of user ability with an easy-to-use interface that also offers advanced, robust features for even the most experienced genealogist.

“It seems that Family Tree Maker 2010 is much more intuitive and user-friendly,” said Robert Tenuta, Family Tree Maker user in Orland Park, IL. “The enhancements and updates are outstanding and up-to-date. The expansion of the charts and reports are great, too.”

Family Tree Maker 2010 is now available to purchase online at starting at $39.95. The program is also set to be released in select retail stores.

* Internet access required for Microsoft Bing Maps and other Web integration.

About is the world's largest online resource for family history and has digitized and put online over 4 billion records over the past twelve years. Ancestry users have created over ten million family trees containing over one billion profiles. has local Web sites directed at nine countries, and more than 8 million unique visitors spent more than 5 million hours on an Ancestry Web site in May 2009 (comScore Media Metrix, Worldwide). For more information on and its other family history resources, visit

Web sites:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Deceased "John Doe" Found in Spokane 26 Years Ago is Reunited with Son

I found the following story in my local paper. It's absolutely fascinating. You'll want to read it soon, as The Spokesman-Review archives its articles fairly quickly and then they are only available at cost.

A “John Doe” was found dead in a van in downtown Spokane on June 14, 1983. In 2006, thanks to a “cold case” investigation, Spokane County medical examiner’s office staffers discovered his identity: Michael Keith Roberts.

County staffers, along with others in the community, paid for a headstone and held a memorial service for Roberts. The Spokesman-Review did a series of columns in summer 2006 on the “Michael Mystery.”

End of story? No.

Recently, Zak Gilbert, 33, of Fort Collins, Colo., contacted the newspaper. Roberts was Gilbert’s biological father.

Read the full story here.

"Casefile Clues" How-to Column

Michael John Neill is now distributing his "Casefile Clues" how-to column on his own website, Michael describes it as:
a weekly genealogy newsletter focusing on genealogy research methodology and interpretation. Every week I look at a record or a problem from one of the many families of my children scattered across the US and Europe. "Casefile Clues" does not try to "scoop" the latest news, rather I focus on using and interpreting records. My goal is to give you ideas to help you with your own research.

This weekly column is available by subscription only. Annual and quarterly subscriptions are available at $15 and $6, respectively.

Check it out!

WorldVitalRecords Free Site Access Extended

You may have seen this mentioned on other blogs (and I'm sorry I didn't get this posted earlier...was out of town and ill), but WorldVitalRecords has extended their free site access through Tuesday, August 18th. No credit card is required; just a name and e-mail address.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Surname Saturday: WESTABY

The WESTABY line is my children's father's paternal grandmother's line. Although common in spelling to WESTBY and WESTOBY, I've found that the former tends to be Scandinavian, while the latter seems to have similar roots to his WESTABYs: from the area of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire bordering the Humber River in England.

Stories and History:

Ahnentafel #80 - Thomas WESTABY (1779? - ?) - there were several Thomas WESTABYs living in the area around this time and of the right age to be George's father (see next name in this line). "Our" Thomas married Mary SPAULDING in 1808 in Goxhill, Lincolnshire and probaby was born in Barrow-Upon-Humber.

Ahnentafel #40 - George Rice WESTABY, I (1822 -1894) - born in Barrow-Upon-Humber, Glanford Brigg, Lincolnshire. George, his wife Ann WILSON, and his brother Charles immigrated to Jo Daviess Co., Illinois in 1850, not long after his marriage. The family is mentioned quite frequently in The History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois (1878).

Ahnentafel #20 - George Rice WESTABY, II (1863 - 1927) - between 1880 and 1888, "Rice" moved to Montana from Illinois, where he married Rebecca Catherine SNOOK. They settled in what was then Custer (now Rosebud) County, raising their five sons and one daughter. Later they divorced; Rice supposedly married twice more. I've yet to find evidence.

Ahnentafel #10 - George Rice WESTABY, III (1890 - 1972) - worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad and followed it to the Yakima Valley in Washington State in 1920, where descendants still remain. His wife was Rena LERFALD.

Ahnentafel #5 - Helen Mary WESTABY (1915 - 1997) - my children's beloved great-grandmother

Ahnentafel #2 - my children's paternal grandfather (living)

Ahentafel #1 - my children's father (living)

More about the WESTABY family:

1. Online database (I update this at least once a month): WESTABY ancestors and relatives (no info on living persons available)

2. Some WESTABY obituaries

3. Posts about WESTABY ancestors and relatives on this blog

4. Some scanned WESTABY documents

5. Some scanned WESTABY photos

6. The WESTABY Family Bible

7. My WESTABY Virtual Cemetery on Find A Grave

8. The WESTABY Message Board on Ancestry and RootsWeb

My children's WESTABY immigration trail:

Barrow-Upon-Humber, Lincolnshire, England > Thompson Twp., Jo Daviess Co., IL > Yellowstone Co., MT > Custer (later Rosebud) Co., MT > Dawson Co., MT > Yakima Co., WA > Thurston Co., WA > Clark Co., WA > Spokane Co., WA

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Findings:

This week was too busy to get regular research done. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a genealogy-free week!

First and foremost was my presentation Wednesday evening of "Frugal Genealogy or How Not to Spend a Fortune on Your Family Tree" at the Tri-City Genealogical Society in Richland, Washington. What a fabulous group they have there and I am looking forward to reconnecting with their members next month at the state conference! I had a chance that afternoon to stop by Sunset Memorial Gardens in Richland where my husband's maternal grandparents are buried and was able to stop for a bit and photograph their shared gravestone. I also inquired at the office whether a sibling of the grandfather was buried there, and was informed that he was not.

Although I was enjoying my time in the area, unfortunately, I became ill with fever and chills later that evening and woke up the next morning knowing that I was too sick to make the 2 1/2 hour drive home. My gracious hostess, Anne, invited me to stay as long as I needed to recuperate and generously offered Tylenol, chicken noodle soup, and everything in between to make me comfortable and rested. Yesterday evening, although weak, I felt better and took her up on her offer to accompany her on a visit to Richland's oldest cemetery, Resthaven Pioneer Cemetery. The cool evening air was refreshing and I enjoyed looking at all the varieties of tombstones, as I do in any cemetery. What was most interesting was the tales that Anne told me about the individuals buried there. Every year on the weekend before Hallowe'en, the CREHST Museum hosts Tombstone Tales, a living history tour of the cemetery. Tour groups are lead by the Grim Reaper to individual gravesites where actors in period costume give a brief monologue of their life as an early Columbia Valley pioneer. Anne has played a Grim Reaper numerous times and has also done research on many of the individuals buried there and so is quite familiar with their stories. It was a fascinating visit and a good non-strenuous diversion that I needed. (Only a genealogist would understand how visiting a cemetery when you're not feeling up to snuff is rejuvenating! Thanks, Anne!)

When I got home late this morning, I was delighted to see that my desktop computer is working again two months after the electrical system shorted out...and even more delighted that all my data seems to be intact, although I did have it backed up with Carbonite. There was so much that I was unable to do, genealogy-wise and blogging-wise without that main computer, and it's hard not to mourn the lost time of a whole summer, when I tend to do more blogging and research. Sometime next week, I'll be back in the classroom preparing for our new students even though my official first day of work isn't until August 25th. UPDATE: Bummer...the computer shut back down after being on for a few hours. (sigh)

Lastly, the Summer 2009 issue of New England Ancestors arrived in the mail today. Randy Seaver did a post about the details, and like him, I have Vermont ancestors that settled in Western New York, making the articles personally interesting.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Presenting at the Tri-City (Washington) Genealogical Society

This evening I will be speaking on one of my favorite presentations, "Frugal Genealogy, or How Not to Spend a Fortune on Your Family Tree!" at the Tri-City Genealogical Society in Richland, Washington. It's a two-and-a-half hour drive south from my home in Spokane, and I will be combining a bit of my own research with this engagement. Because the meeting is in the evening, I will be staying the night at the home of a couple of members who have generously offered their guest room to me. An advantage is that on the way to their home, I will be passing right by Sunset Memorial Gardens, where my husband's maternal grandparents, Forrest L. "Frank" CHAPLIN and Leona Mary MARTIN are buried.

I've been to the cemetery once, nearly 16 years ago, for the graveside service of Leona. Frank had passed away 17 years previously, long before I had met my husband and his family. Several years ago, I was able to get photographs of their graves, along with the block, lot, and space numbers for their burial places, thanks to a volunteer at Find a Grave. However, I am planning to stop and rephotograph the graves for myself, as well as determine if any of their siblings are also buried there. I did a quick check through my RootsMagic program, and it appears that between Frank and Leona, only one sibling passed away in the area: Frank's older brother Charles Cornelius CHAPLIN, who died in 1973. Charlie Chaplin may indeed be buried at Sunset, so I will be inquiring at the cemetery office!

I'm looking forward to meeting the members of the TCGS and giving my presentation. I have met a few of them who have in their turn, spoken at some of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society meetings (my home society), and I expect to see many of them at the Washington State Genealogical Society's state conference in Spokane in September.

The tri-cities area, consisting of Pasco in Franklin County and Kennewick and Richland in Benton County, is a beautiful area, well-known for its orchards, gardens, and vineyards. The wine industry there is second only to California's Napa Valley. Its rolling hills and the many rivers (the Snake, Yakima, and Columbia all merge in this region) make for a lovely landscape, and I look forward to my little get away!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Update on King County, Washington Marriage Records Online

Although dated August 1st, the following came through my Google Reader today from the Washington State Digital Archives:

The long awaited King County Marriage records from 1855 to 1940 are now available online at the Washington State Digital Archives. As of August 1, records up to 1940 have been scanned and indexed and are searchable on the website. Although the project will not be complete until the end of the year, Marriage Certificates from 1855-2000 and Marriage Returns from 1891-1939 will be available and searchable as they are indexed, beginning with the earliest years. The collection contains over 1 million records.

Marriage Certificates, filed with the County Auditor following the marriage ceremony, provide marriage license number, date, and county; place and date of marriage; names and county of residence of bride and groom; names of witnesses; and name, residence, and official station of the person performing the marriage.

Marriage Returns, returned to the County Auditor from the person performing the marriage ceremony, contain more information than Marriage Certificates. Marriage Returns generally provide the names and birthplaces of the bride and groom and their parents; residence, age, race, number of previous marriages, and occupation of both parties; place and date of marriage; name and official station of the person performing the marriage; and names of witnesses.

For more information about King County marriage records program, contact Washington State Digital Archives at (509) 235-7509 or

WorldVitalRecords Free for Three Days Opens Site Allowing for Free Public Access to More Than One Billion Family History Records

With the addition of the largest number of records to be released in a single day since the site launched in 2006

PROVO, UT, August 11, 2009 -, an online family history resource, today announced the addition of the largest number of records to be released in a single day since the site launched in 2006. To commemorate this milestone, for the first time WorldVitalRecords is offering free public access to its entire online collection of historical and genealogical records beginning August 11 and continuing through August 13, 2009. The public will have unlimited access to more than one billion records in over 11,000 databases from around the world including newspapers, census, birth, marriage, death, immigration and military records; family trees; stories and publications; and yearbooks.

"As a genealogy enthusiast, I'm thrilled that people can go to one place like, try family history research for free and find their parents or grandparents, and see how simple it is to start tracing back and discovering stories that bring family history to life," said Jim Ericson, Vice-President of Marketing for Family Link. "This is a rare opportunity to delve into the records and discover information about your family and ancestors you may have never known."

Featured records in this release include:

Historical Newspapers
Through a partnership with Newspaper Archive, WorldVitalRecords is adding access to pages from a variety of newspapers from all over the United States, dating from 1759 through 1923. This collection features images of entire newspapers from the western frontier, the Midwest at the turn of the century, and the long-time standard of our nation's news, "The New York Times" which includes over 7 million names. Newspaper Archive produces the largest historical newspaper database online, and the collection is fully searchable by keyword and date, and individual pages can be saved or printed.

According to Gena Philibert Ortega, Genealogy Community Director for FamilyLink, "Part of the fun of family history is uncovering details about our ancestors’ daily lives -- the events of the day, the goods and the services they bought. Newspapers allow us to better understand our ancestors."

Immigration Records
Living in a country of immigrants, ship passenger lists and other records documenting immigration can be an essential part in learning more about your family history. It is a thrilling experience to see their names transcribed on paper the day they entered this country through the Port of New York. Browsing and searching these passenger lists is a perfect way for someone to start researching their family history. This record collection provides documentation of over 150,000 passengers who arrived on nearly 8,000 ships at one of the busiest ports in the United States, New York, from 1820-1832.

In partnership with the website, WorldVitalRecords is doubling its collection of digitized yearbooks. This collection features university yearbooks from the late 1800 to mid 1950s. houses the largest collection of old college yearbooks on the Internet. Universities featured this week include Duke University, University of Oklahoma, Iowa State and the College of William and Mary.

Vital Records, Military Records and Tax Lists
Other records being released on the site include birth, marriage, tax lists, military records, and death records from Maine, North Carolina, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Focused on helping users discover and share their family history, WorldVitalRecords adds new records to their online collection everyday.

About is simplifying family history research by providing many easy-to-use tools and resources to discover and connect with others interested in family history. WorldVitalRecords provides access to more than one billion international and U.S. records provides affordable access to genealogy databases and family history tools used by more than 258,000 monthly visitors. The site registers 3.6 million monthly pages views and serves tens of thousands of paying subscribers. With thousands of databases, including birth, death, military, census, and parish records, makes it easy to fill in missing information in your family tree.

WorldVitalRecords is part of the, Inc. network of family-focused interactive properties including, GenealogyWise, WebTree, WorldHistory, and the We're Related and My Family applications on Facebook.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

My Sweet 16

Last night, Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings put forth the following challenge for Saturday Night Genealogical Fun:

1) List your 16 great-great-grandparents in pedigree chart order. List their birth and death years and places.

2) Figure out the dominant ethnicity or nationality of each of them.

3) Calculate your ancestral ethnicity or nationality by adding them up for the 16 - 6.25% for each (obviously, this is approximate).

4) If you don't know all 16 of your great-great-grandparents, then do it for the last full generation you have.

5) Write your own blog post, or make a comment on Facebook or in this post.

Here goes:

16. Angelo Merrick ROBBINS, Sr. - born 24 Feb 1874 in Southbrook Twp., Cottonwood Co., Minesota; married 23 Nov 1892 in Hesperia, Denver Twp., Newaygo Co., Michigan; died 16 Jul 1923 in Muskegon, Muskegon Co., Michigan. (English)

17. Mary May KIMBALL (a.k.a. Lula WEAVER as she was "adopted" [raised] by her maternal aunt and her husband) - born 27 Mar 1873 in Newaygo Co., Michigan (probably in Hesperia); died 27 Dec 1950 in Fruitport Twp., Muskegon Co., Michigan. (English)

18. George Emmett LEWIS - born 10 Dec 1868 in St. Johns, Clinton Co., Michigan; married 31 Dec 1891 in Muskegon, Muskegon Co., Michigan; died 16 May 1964 in Whitehall, Muskegon Co., Michigan. (English)

19. Mary J. WILKINSON - born 17 Apr 1872 in Port Hope, Northumberland (now Durham) Co., Ontario; died 25 Oct 1940 in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon Co., Michigan. (English)

20. James L. YORK - born 7 Oct 1867 in Goodrich, Genesee Co., Michigan; married 3 Jul 1893 in St. Johns, Clinton Co., Michigan; died 15 Sep 1933 in Lake Orion, Oakland Co., Michigan. (English)

21. Mary E. "Mae" McARTHUR - born 18 Jan 1875 in Washington Twp., Gratiot Co., Michigan; died 16 Oct 1959 in Alma, Gratiot Co., Michigan. (half Scots, half English)

22. Orlando BARBER - born 22 Mar 1864 in Ontario (probably Owen Sound, Grey Co.); married 31 Mar 1894 in Lapeer, Lapeer Co., Michigan; died 16 Dec 1910 in Lapeer, Lapeer Co., Michigan. (English)

23. Mary Jane FREDENBURG - born 30 Nov 1875 in Chesterfield Twp., Macomb Co., Michigan; died 27 Aug 1962 in Lapeer, Lapeer Co., Michigan. (English)

24. Tjamme Wiegers "James" VALK - born 24 Jun 1860 in Ferwerderadeel Municipality, Friesland, the Netherlands (probably in the village of Marrum); married 21 Jun 1882 in Rock Island Co., Illinois (probably in the city of Rock Island); died 15 May 1922 in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan. (Frisian)

25. Berber J. "Barbara" DeJONG - born 9 Apr 1858 in the Netherlands (possibly in the province of Groningen); died 1 Jun 1934 in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan. (probably Frisian)

26. Geert Aukes "George" TUINSTRA - born 20 Jan 1851 in Franeker, Friesland, the Netherlands; married 6 Nov 1884 in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan; died 14 Sep 1928 in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan. (Frisian)

27. Doetje "Dorothy" WIERSMA - born 1 Mar 1854 in Wonseradeel Municipality, Friesland, the Netherlands; died 5 Dec 1916 in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan. (Frisian)

28. Martin HOEKSTRA - born 13 Aug 1868 in Holland, Ottawa Co., Michigan; married 27 Nov 1886 in Holland, Ottawa Co., Michigan; died 12 Dec 1944 in Detroit, Wayne Co., Michigan. (half Frisian, half Dutch)

29. Janna "Jennie" TON - born 23 Aug 1867 in Cincinnati, Hamilton Co., Ohio; died 11 Dec 1943 in Allegan, Allegan Co., Michigan. (Dutch)

30. Charles Frisbie STRONG - born 12 Jul 1852 in the Town of Candor, Tioga Co., New York; married 1873 in the Town of Candor, Tioga Co., New York; died 11 Apr 1921 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon. (English)

31. Mary Lucy WRIGHT - born 22 Feb 1859 in Tioga Co., New York (probably in the Town of Newark); died 14 Sep 1946 in Stanwood, Snohomish Co., Washington. (English)

There you have it: five of my eight great-great-grandmothers were named Mary; two of my great-great-grandfathers were named George, and another two named James. Although not obvious from some of their birth, marriage, and death places, every one of these individuals lived for a major part of their lives in the state of Michigan, as did each of their descendants that I descend from, through my parents' generation.

Using the information here, I can determine that I am 59.375% English, 23.125% Frisian, 3.125% Dutch, and 3.125% Scots. However, I do know that some of the English represented here is actually mixed with a lot of Dutch and Scots, plus a little French. Some of the English and Frisian represented here also has some German as well. I know of no other ancestry; all my heritage appears to come from the British Isles and Western Europe.

Bling! Bling! My Garnet Ring

This garnet ring once belonged to my maternal grandmother, Ruth Lillian HOEKSTRA VALK DeVRIES. It's probably not extraordinarily valuable, although it does have four genuine garnets and is made of 14K gold. Garnets are not my birthstones; aquamarines are, having a March birth. It's not even an antique, but it's worth to me is in its sentimental value and the story of love behind it.

Ruth's mother, my great-grandmother Lillian Fern STRONG HOEKSTRA, was born January 10, 1897. The birthstone for January is the garnet. Over the years, my great-grandmother received several pieces of jewelry adorned with her red birthstone from my great-grandfather, John Martin HOEKSTRA. A little more than a year after Lillian died in 1967, John married their housekeeper, Anna STULP. Several years later, I recall overhearing a conversation between my parents. Apparently my mother had received a phone call or a letter from her mother in Western Michigan, in which my grandmother shared her frustration that her father had given Anna the garnet jewelry that once had belonged to her mother. Although I'm not sure, it possible that this occurred in early 1976, shortly after my great-grandfather's death in December of the previous year. It may be that this gift of the garnet jewelry to Anna was decreed in John's will; I'm not sure. Regardless, my grandmother was upset for a couple of reasons: she felt the jewelry, having belonged to her mother, ought to go to her and her sisters (it may even be that her mother once indicated it would); and also, my grandmother, having a January birthday herself, probably felt that having garnet jewelry would be extra special.

You must also understand that my grandmother was a generous, friendly person, and never a small, mean individual. My grandfather managed his money well, so although they lived frugally, they well could have afforded some nice jewelry. So Ruth's distress was not out of financial need, but was exacerbated by the fact that she felt she could not go to Anna and ask for the jewelry without appearing to be selfish and demanding.

From my childhood memory of the occasion, I believe I remember my mother being upset as well over the situation. I also believe that it was my father who came to the rescue and suggested that for their (birthday?) gift to my grandmother, they would order a nice garnet ring for her. It was likely ordered through Jafco, which is where we ordered all our jewelry in those days, living as we were far from any major stores on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska.

The ring was ordered and shipped to my grandmother. I know that she loved it and thanked my parents profusely. She was wearing the ring when I last saw her when I visited her in Grand Rapids in October 2000. The garnet jewelry of my great-grandmother's was not mentioned again, to my knowledge. After Anna's death in 1992, her family probably inherited it. It doesn't matter; to me, this ring is a precious statement of the love my parents had for my grandmother. When she died in 2001, I inherited it.

I don't wear it often; it slips on my ring finger just fine, but my knuckles tend to swell during the day, and often by afternoon, I can't get it off. Since I tend to be claustrophobic about such things, I wear it for special occasions only, for short periods of time. I never put it on without remembering the story behind it; someday, I hope to pass it on to either my daughter or a granddaughter.

Written for the 16th Edition of the "I Smile for the Camera" Carnival - Bling, Ancestor Bling

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Surname Saturday: HOLST

The HOLST family is my adoptive family line. My paternal grandmother was adopted by Alfred Henry HOLST and his wife, Nellie May CONCIDINE. I've been able to trace Alfred's line back one more generation into Hannover, Germany.

Stories and History:

Ahnentafel #20B - Johann Deidrich HOLST (1860 - 1940) - He married Ida Charlotta GUSTAFSDOTTER, an immigrant from Sweden to Germany, in 1880. Three years later, they immigrated to Western Michigan with their infant son Alfred, to live near Johann's older sister and brother-in-law, Anna M. HOLST and Claude BORCHERS. During WWI, Alfred was investigated by the FBI because he had not completed his naturalization process. He petitioned to get it completed, and his file found at Footnote contained priceless genealogical information.

Ahnentafel #10B - Alfred Henry HOLST (1882 - 1952) - Read his AnceStory here. From obituaries and newspaper articles, I have determined that the HOLST family was integrated well into their adopted American community of Coopersville, Ottawa Co., Michigan, and were highly regarded by the members of that community.

Ahnentafel #5 - Jeanne Marie HOLST, born Jane Marie YORK (1924 - 2012) - my paternal grandmother

Ahnentafel #2 - my father (living)

Ahnentafel #1 - myself

More about the HOLST family:

1. Online database (I update this at least once a month): HOLST ancestors and relatives (no info on living persons available)

2. Some HOLST obituaries

3. Posts about HOLST ancestors and relatives on this blog

4. Some scanned HOLST documents

5. My HOLST Virtual Cemetery on Find a Grave.

My HOLST immigration trail:

Hannover, Germany > Ottawa Co., Michigan > Muskegon Co., Michigan > Ottawa Co., Michigan > WI > Ottawa Co., Michigan > AK > Stevens Co., WA > Spokane Co., WA

Friday, August 07, 2009

Friday Findings: BARBER, COLE and WILLIS Death Certficates

I forgot to mention in last week's Friday Findings that I had found two of my ancestor's death certificates on the Seeking Michigan website: James W. BARBER and Elizabeth A. "Betsey" COLE were my paternal 3rd-great-grandparents. I had difficulty finding their records on the site because their names had been misspelled. This week, I found their son's death certificate; Orlando BARBER was my 2nd-great-grandfather and he died of smallpox in 1910, which I find rather unusual. Of course, smallpox was still enough of a threat in 1967 when I was born that sometime when I was an infant or toddler, I received an inoculation--my generation being one of the last in America to receive it. I also found Elizabeth's mother's death certificate, again having difficulty because of the misindexing of Lavina (WILLIS) COLE to "Lovina CALE."

I also came across a scanned image of the will of my 5th-great-grandfather, Albert William WYCKOFF, on the NEHGS website. In it he mentions his wife Elizabeth (MAINARD), his children, including "Polly CRUTHERS", and some grandchildren with a different surname, suggesting he had a daughter I don't know about who predeceased him. This will is evidence that my Mary "Polly" WYCKOFF CROTHERS CHAPPEL is indeed the daughter of Albert and Elizabeth. All I had previously was an old family history book on the Wyckoff family, which unfortunately was written by Gustav Anjou.

My September 2009 issue of Internet Genealogy arrived today.

I didn't do much research this week. Some family situations coupled with preparing for my presentation next week at the Tri-City Genealogical Society in Richland, Washington, the upcoming Washington State Genealogical Society's 2009 State Conference in Spokane, and working on my Online City, County, and Rural Directories website all kept me busy doing other kinds of genealogical work.

I Found 23 Ancestors in the Library of Michigan

I enjoyed TK Sands' three "I Found..." posts at her blog, Before My Time. She writes how she "found" her great-great-grandmother and her grandmother's baby at the Library of Michigan (actually, she found their death certificates), and also how she found 500 genealogists on Wednesday when a group met in Lansing to protest Governor Jennifer Granholm's plan to close the Library of Michigan.

I got to wondering how many of my ancestors could be found at the Library of Michigan, and came up with 21 of my direct ancestors who had died between 1897 and 1920 whose death certificates appear online at the Seeking Michigan website. Additionally, I research my mother's step-father's line, and my paternal grandmother's adoptive line (in addition to her biological line) and came up with two more ancestors between these two families.

These are direct ancestors, mind you, all individuals in my 2nd-, 3rd-, and 4th-great-grandparents' generation. These 23 individuals don't count other spouses my ancestors had; nor the collateral relatives that include the other children of my ancestors such as my ancestral siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews; nor does it include the plethora of cousins of any number of degrees of relationship that can also be found.

FamilySearch Record Search provides death records (in liber-style vs. the death certificates that began in 1897) for all Michigan counties from the time of civil registration in 1867 to 1897. Ancestry has a Michigan Death Index that covers the years 1971 - 1996. This leaves fifty years (1921 - 1970) of unlisted deaths, with the exception of a few counties whose county government websites have produced a death index. In those 50 years I have another 19 biological, four more adoptive, and four more step-ancestors who died.

No matter how the budget works out for the State of Michigan, it does not appear that the death certificates for the years 1921 to 1970 will be available in indexed or scanned form any time soon (although they can be ordered individually from the State).

Here's a list of my ancestors found in the Library of Michigan, along with their ahnentael numbers and links to their death certificates:

22. Orlando BARBER (1868 - 1910)

27. Doetje WIERSMA TUINSTRA (1854 - 1916)

33. Viola Gertrude PECK ROBBINS (1848 - 1918)

36. John Wallace LEWIS, Sr. (1839 - 1908)

37. Elenor "Nellie" L. VREELAND LEWIS (1835 - 1912)

38. John WILKINSON, Sr. (1845 - 1917)

40. John H. YORK (1823 - 1898)

41. Anna CROTHERS YORK (1825 - 1904)

42. Daniel J. MacARTHUR (1827 - 1919)

43. Martha JOHNSON MacARTHUR (1844 - 1897) 

44. James W. BARBER (1839 - 1912)

45. Elizabeth "Betsey" A. COLE BARBER(1846 - 1919)


49. Trientje Gerrits "Katherine" DOLSTRA VALK (1826 - 1912)

52. Auke Caspers TUINSTRA (1818 - 1898)

54. Wijbren Joukes WIERSMA (1831 - 1909)

56. Jan Martens HOEKSTRA (1820 - 1909)

62. William Parker WRIGHT (1830 - 1915)

64. Joseph Josiah ROBBINS (1820 - 1905)

65. Marinda ROBBINS ROBBINS (1827 - 1912)

90. Lavina WILLIS COLE (1827 - 1898)

My adoptive line:

23B. Anna Matilda HIGBY CONCIDINE (1861 - 1903)

44B. John D. CONCIDINE (1823 - 1906)