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How I Use Genealogy Software and Online Family Trees

 Roberta Estes wrote a blog post yesterday titled “Genealogy Tree Replacement – Should I Or Shouldn’t I?” on her DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy blog.  I commented on it, but want to expand on my comments a bit.

Roberta explains the situation we all face – we may have a family tree in our genealogy software programs (e.g., RootsMagic, Family Tree Maker, etc.) and on a number of websites (e.g., Ancestry, MyHeritage, etc.).  But it’s impossible to keep them all up-to-date without making a new GEDCOM file every so often and uploading it to the online trees.  If I do this, do I delete my old tree which may have many record hints and record images attached to the tree person profiles?

Here is a list of the family trees that I actively manage and what I do to try to keep them all updated:

1) I have a master tree in RootsMagic that now has about 60,000 profiles – ancestral families of mine, my wife’s and my sons-in-law; plus one name studies for Seaver/Sever/Sevier, Carringer, Auble, and Vaux; plus descendants of several other ancestral surnames; plus descendants of my 4th great-grandparents (to aid in DNA matching).

*  I do all of my data entry in RootsMagic, adding names, dates, places, events, notes, sources, and media.  I download record images that I want to save to my desktop computer files – they go into a Family file in a Surname File in a Group file – with a common file naming convention.  

*  RootsMagic permits me to “TreeShare” my person profiles with an Ancestry Member Tree, one person at a time and one event at a time, from within the program.  I can either add content to my Ancestry tree or from my Ancestry tree to RootsMagic.  I do this every week.  I rarely download anything from Ancestry into RootsMagic because Ancestry’s source citations are poorly crafted and any record image I might download goes into another file with a non-descriptive name.  
*  RootsMagic permits me to “match” my person profiles to FamilySearch Family Tree profiles from within the program.  So I can add Family Tree persons, events, notes and sources to RootsMagic, or from RootsMagic to Family Tree.  
*  RootsMagic provides WebHints with links to Record Hints on, FamilySearch, MyHeritage and Findmypast.  I can click right into these sites from my RootsMagic program and go to the records on the WebHints list.  I can then enter information from those WebHints right into RootsMagic,
*  RootsMagic permits me to create a GEDCOM file of all or part of my family tree, which I can then upload to another software program or to an online tree.
*  I have other family tree software programs on my desktop computer – Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Maker, Family Tree Builder and RootsFinder.  I use these occasionally to take advantage of program capabilities that are, IMHO, better than what is in RootsMagic.  I upload a new GEDCOM file to these programs when I need to.

2) I TreeShare my RootsMagic tree with my major Ancestry tree (connected to my AncestryDNA test)  every week to keep the Ancestry tree up-to-date.  I try to prevent Ancestry record images (poorly named) and sources (poorly crafted) from coming into RootsMagic. My Ancestry tree immediately creates Record Hints for new or changed profiles, which I can then mine and add to my RootsMagic tree.  I also do searches on to catch every record for a person.

*  AncestryDNA uses my Ancestry Member Tree (which has many descendants of my 4th great-grandparents!) to find Common Ancestors of my AncestryDNA Matches using the ThruLines feature.  Common ancestors are identified from my tree information, the trees of my DNA matches, and their Big Tree.  I have over 34,000 DNA matches, but only 400 Common Ancestor matches are identified.  

3) I upload a new GEDCOM to MyHeritage every year but save the previous family tree file and delete earlier family tree files. MyHeritage provides Smart Matches and Record Matches for each person profile, and also matches by Source.  I can access the Record Matches from the WebHints in RootsMagic. When I find useful Record Matches on MyHeritage, I add them to my RootsMagic file,  I also do searches on MyHeritage to catch every record for a person.

*  MyHeritageDNA uses my MyHeritage tree to find Common Ancestors of my MyHeritage matches using the Theory of Family Relativity feature. I have almost 9,000 MyHeritageDNA matches, but only 8 Theory of Family Relativity identified matches.  

4) I upload a new GEDCOM to Findmypast every once in awhile.  Findmypast provides Record Hints for tree profiles on their website, or on the RootsMagic Web Hints feature.  I add useful information to my RootsMagic tree.  I also do searches on Findmypast to catch every record for a person.

5)  American Ancestors uses RootsFinder as their online family tree, and I uploaded a GEDCOM file there a year ago.  However, my family tree takes up 1.5 gb when I access it, and slows my desktop computer significantly.  It provides Record Hints but I rarely search for them.   I also do searches on American Ancestors to catch every record for a person.
6) I have an ancestors only tree at FamilyTreeDNA which rarely provides any useful matches.

7)  I have an ancestors only tree at GEDmatch which rarely provides any useful matches.

8) I match profiles in FamilySearch Family Tree (a collaborative tree) with profiles in my RootsMagic tree, or create new FamilySearch Family Tree profiles from RootsMagic profiles, and share information both ways, including sources and notes.

*  FamilySearch provides record matches for person profiles, which I can access from the tree profile or from the FamilySearch WebHint in RootsMagic.  When I find useful record matches on FamilySearch, I add the information to my RootsMagic tree.   I also do searches on FamilySearch to catch every record for a person.

9)  I have added information for most of my ancestral families to (a collaborative tree) over time, but it takes time to add information there with or without a GEDCOM.  

10)  I have added information for most of my ancestral families to WikiTree (a collaborative tree) over time, but it takes time to add information with or without a GEDCOM.


What genealogy software do you use, and why do you prefer it?

What online family tree(s) do you use, and how do you keep them up to date?


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Dear Randy: "How Can I Find Living Descendants with the Surname of a Historical Person?"

A Genea-Musings reader asked this question in email recently because they want to find someone descended from a War of 1812 soldier in their home town with the same surname.

1)  I had two thoughts:

* Search on,, and other online family trees for the historical person, and see if you can find information down to the present (or the generation that died before now) with that name.  But how do I sort out hundreds/thousands of names to find the ones I want?

* Search on FamilySearch Family Tree, Geni World Tree or WikiTree for descendants of the historical person. Can a Descendants Report be created?

I recalled that Puzzilla could provide a Descendants Tree for a historical person.  I looked on FamilySearch Family Tree for a Descendants Report and did not find the capability.

2)  I recalled that I could import a bare-bones family tree (names, relationships, dates, places only) of a historical person into RootsMagic from FamilySearch Family Tree.  With that tree, I could then create a Descendants list or a Descendants Report that would have names, dates and places, but no sources.  However, it would have only deceased profiles, so to find a living person in the town, I would have to search newspapers, social media, and people finders, but having the bare-bones family tree might reduce the effort of getting to the unknown living persons in the specific town.

In order to demonstrate this process, I’m going to do it with one of my tree families.

3)  Can I find current San Diego residents who are descendants of Valentine Sevier (1712-1803) who settled in Virginia?  Here is his profile (MXM6-X3V0 in FamilySearch Family Tree:

*  I noted the FS ID number MXM6-X3V because I need it to put into RootsMagic.

*  With RootsMagic open, I clicked on “File” and then “New” and saw the “Create a new RootsMagic file” and entered the new file name:

*  When I clicked on “OK” the new file opened.  It was empty.  I clicked on “File” and “FamilySearch Central” and logged into FamilySearch:

*  I clicked on the “Import” button in the top row of icons, and selected “Use FamilySearch person with this ID” and selected 0 generations of ancestors and 12 generations of descendants:

*  I clicked on the “Import” button on the screen above.  There is a message that says it may take a long time.  I started at 2:10 p.m.  Here is a screen shot 20 minutes into the import:

*  I cut the download off after 70 minutes.  There are 7734 persons in the RootsMagic family tree file, all descendants (and their spouses) of Valentine Sevier.

*  Here is the Family View for Valentine Sevier (1702-1803):

*  I can now make a Descendants Report for Valentine Sevier by clicking on “Reports” then “Narrative Report” then selecting “Descendants” and “NGSQ” on the screen below.

*  Now I have a 1107 page report for 6 generations of descendants of Valentine Sevier, with a name and place index.  I can check the town of interest and see what descendants are living in that town.

4)  Of course, this is a family tree from FamilySearch submissions, and any name, relationship, date or place may be wrong.  The names may be incomplete, some dates may be missing, the places may not be standardized, and there are no sources in this import.  However, if I find a descendant of interest, I can go into each ancestor in their line back to Valentine Sevier and check the sources given for each ancestor.  My experience in FamilySearch Family tree has been pretty good – there are many profiles with errors, but if the profile has names of parents, a birth date and place, and a spouse’s information, the information between 1750 and 1940 is pretty good.  In the case of Valentine Sevier, there is a Sevier genealogy book available too from which significant information was obtained to submit to the Family Tree.

5)  In this example, I looked for a deceased Sevier descendant of Valentine Sevier in San Diego County.  I found one Sevier who died in 1949 in San Diego whose family is not in FamilySearch Family Tree.  An obituary for him might provide a wife’s name, children names, etc. California birth records might provide children’s names, and a people finder site might find their phone number. I could contact them if I wanted to.

6)  For my email correspondent, the tree took only 6 minutes to import, had only 474 persons, and RootsMagic created a 57 page descendants report.  I emailed it to her in 30 minutes after starting on the project.  She was thrilled!  She reviewed the report, and easily found a person with the same surname in the town of interest, and used a people finder program to get a phone number, called the number, and a daughter answered, heard her story, and confirmed the descendancy.  The town will soon have a War of 1812 memorial for their honored person who settled there early in the town’s history, and the family will know more of their family history.

7)  It’s amazing what genealogy/family tree management programs can do.  The above is one thing that no online tree can do at the present time as quickly and efficiently as RootsMagic does, IMHO.


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Monday Genea-Pourri – Week Ending 25 May 2020

Here are the highlights of my family history and genealogy related activities over the past week:

1)  Moderated and hosted the Chula Vista Genealogical Society DNA Interest Group meeting on Wednesday, 20 May in a Zoom meeting, with 12 in attendance.  I discussed the new AncestryDNA Tree icons and the changed DNA Match screen with a ThruLine; the MyHeritageDNA Theory of Family Relativity update, along with how I write Notes and use the chromosome browser; the CeCe Moore TV show on 26 May; ethnicity estimates and communicating with AncestryDNA matches.  In the second hour, the attendees discussed their challenges and successes.

2)  Participated in the San Diego Genelaogical Society DNA Interest Group Zoom meeting on Saturday, 23 May.  Colin made two presentations – an Overview of recent DNA features, and on GEDmatch.
3)  Participated in today’s Mondays With Myrt on Zoom.  We learned how to set up the Closed Captioning using Streamer and tested it out.  

4)  Watched the Family Tree Webinar Fridays in May: Your Questions Answered LIVE—More DNA with Diahan” by Diahan Southard.

5)  Wrote and posted a biographical sketch of 7th great-grandfather #542 George Stearns  (1688-1760) for my 52 Ancestors biographical sketch on Friday.  

6)  Transcribed the 1783 Will of Nathan Brigham (1693-1784) of Southborough, Mass. for Amanuensis Monday.  

7)  Continued sorting out the Seaver families in Philadelphia in the 1850-1900 time frame.  Wrote a series of blog posts about some of them.  Added events and sources to many of them with Ancestry Hints.

8)  Added Notes to about 26 more AncestryDNA matches with cM values, relationships and known common ancestors.  Added one AncestryDNA ThruLine to the RootsMagic family tree database.  Reviewed new DNA matches on AncestryDNA, MyHeritageDNA, FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe.  

9) There were several sessions working in the RootsMagic software program to match with and update FamilySearch Family Tree profiles for Seaver families and my ancestral families, with occasional additions to the RootsMagic profiles. I have matched 35,807 of my RootsMagic persons with FamilySearch Family Tree profiles (up 134).

10)  Used Web Hints and Record Matches from Ancestry, MyHeritage, Findmypast and FamilySearch to add content and sources to my RootsMagic profiles.  I now have 57,656 persons in my RootsMagic file (up 148) , and 121,180 source citations (up 579).   I TreeShared with my Ancestry Member Tree two times this week updating 341 profiles, and I resolved 881 Ancestry Hints.  I’ve fallen behind on the Ancestry Record Hints with 131,309 to be resolved, but I work on them almost daily.    

11)  Updated my presentation on “Using Collaborative ‘BIG’ Family Trees” for the CVGS program on Wednesday in a Zoom meeting.

12)  Wrote 20 Genea-Musings blog posts last week, of which two were a press release.  The most popular post last week was Did Sarah Giberson Marry Two Seaver Men? – Part I with over 458 views.  

13)  We are still fine here at the Genea-cave, hunkered down and not going out much.  I went to the grocery store on Tuesday and Friday and it wasn’t too busy.  I picked some weeds and am still thinking about mowing the back yard again.  I pushed Linda in the wheelchair up and down the block on Sunday.We watched the church choir and pastor’s sermon on YouTube on Sunday.  Other than that, it was stay-at-home on the computer doing genealogy, eating and sleeping, plus reading ebooks on my laptop while watching TV.


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Arming America: How “the Controversy Arose”

As I described yesterday, in 2002 Emory University asked three outside scholars to investigate charges of “failures of scholarly care and integrity” against Michael Bellesiles, author of Arming America.

Those scholars were academic heavyweights: Stanley N. Katz of Princeton, Hanna H. Gray of the University of Chicago, and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich of Harvard. They had the assistance of a graduate student who visited archives in Massachusetts, checked other sources, and reran calculations.

That committee filed their report (P.D.F. download) in July. Emory University released it in October. On the same day, Bellesiles resigned.

In his interview last year with Daniel Gullotta for the Age of Jackson podcast, Bellesiles made some comments about that report and other criticism of his book. I decided to assess those remarks against the historical record.

Bellesiles told Gullotta:

The controversy arose because seventeen years ago, there was a flood in Bowden Hall at Emory University in Atlanta, which severely damaged the offices of numerous professors in the history and philosophy departments, including mine. Most of the original notes for my book Arming America were destroyed in that flood. And within days, opponents of the book picked up on this loss to argue that I had never conducted the research supporting three paragraphs in the book that concern probate records.

The sprinkler-pipe flood happened in April 2000, nineteen (not seventeen) years before this conversation. Arming America was published in early September 2000, so “opponents of the book” couldn’t have responded to the flood “within days” because the book didn’t yet exist. But of course we may not recall exact details of a difficult time.

Here’s the sequence of events as best I can recreate it. Bellesiles published a paper on gun ownership in early America in the Journal of American History in 1996. Its evidence included travel accounts and probate inventories. Clayton E. Cramer, a graduate student with whom Bellesiles had corresponded about gun laws, then wrote to the journal listing other travel accounts that contradicted the paper’s findings. Bellesiles replied by dismissing Cramer’s criticism as politically motivated.

Meanwhile, Bellesiles had agreed with the Knopf division of Random House to publish what became Arming America. The July 1999 Economist reported on the upcoming book. In December, Charlton Heston, president of the National Rifle Association, sniped at Bellesiles’s work. The editing and production process on the book must have also begun in 1999. That sprinkler pipe burst in April 2000, making news only in the Emory community. In that same month, the New York Times reported on Bellesiles’s intriguing conclusions.

Arming America was officially published in September 2000, receiving prominent and mostly positive reviews in the mainstream press. As early as 30 August, Prof. James Lindgren of Northwestern University wrote to Bellesiles with questions about his research since he’d been working on the same questions using probate inventories. On 19 September, Bellesiles sent Lindgren an email saying, among other things, that the office flood had destroyed his notes. That appears to have been the first link between the burst pipe and the probate data, and it came from Bellesiles himself. (Subsequently, the Emory committee found, Bellesiles made a “disavowal” of some other statements in those 30 August and 19 September emails to Lindgren.)

The first public mention of that flood’s effect on the debate that I’ve found was a draft of Lindgren and Justin Lee Heather’s essay “Counting Guns in Early America” dated 28 December. Some critics of the book were indeed skeptical of Bellesiles’s explanation about the loss of his probate data—some had to be convinced there even was an office flood. But Lindgren and others accepted, if only for argument, that Bellesiles had indeed counted probate records on yellow pads as he described and included that in their analyses of his work. That was sloppy technique and the numbers still didn’t add up, they said.

But that aspect of the book wasn’t where the “controversy arose” first. Cramer had objected to Bellesiles’s conclusions back in 1997. After the book appeared, Cramer expanded on his criticism, finding more omitted and distorted sources. As a software engineer, he used his expertise with computers to set up webpages sharing those findings. Unfortunately for the appearance of political leanings, Cramer located his pages within the website of the Golden Gate United National Rifle Association, making it easy for Bellesiles and his defenders to dismiss the complaints.

Cramer, as a graduate student in California, didn’t have the resources to try to replicate most of Bellesiles’s probate research in the east. But he found plenty of other details in Arming America to criticize. Lindgren and his team had already worked in some of those probate archives, so they could analyze what data Bellesiles reported and find discrepancies. Eventually formal reviews in scholarly journals voiced more doubts, though most didn’t appear until late 2001 or 2002, after Arming America had received the Bancroft Prize.

I’ve always been struck by how Lindgren’s critique carried much more weight than Cramer’s. According to Bellesiles in his interview with Gullotta:

Now, I think the reason they picked on the probate records is because those are the most obscure of all the materials I use, that pretty much require you to go to the individual archives in order to examine them. It’s not something that could easily be verified by going to a good research university library.

Except that Cramer found a lot wrong with Arming America by “going to a good research university library.” Bellesiles’s ongoing emphasis on the book’s small section about probate inventories gives the false impression that no one had found other problems with the book.

There are better explanations of why Lindgren’s criticism got more traction within the academic world than Cramer’s. Lindgren was a professor at Northwestern. Cramer was a graduate student at Sonoma State University. Lindgren wasn’t a proponent of gun ownership in contemporary America while Cramer was. Lindgren’s argument rested mostly (but not wholly) on numbers. Cramer’s critique was largely about words, which can seem more open to interpretation. But isn’t quoting words out of context just as inaccurate as reporting a false count of wills?

Whatever the reason, we can see that Emory University gave more weight to the Lindgren critique. All five of the questions it tasked the outside committee with examining involved “probate records” of some sort. Furthermore, the committee noted that its mandate covered “ONLY” those questions. (In Appendix B, Part 3, the research assistant did address discrepancies with travel narratives that Lindgren had noted, but disagreed with parts of his assessment.)

TOMORROW: Bellesiles’s comments on the committee’s conclusions.

Monday Genea-Pourri – Week Ending 20 October 2019

Here are the highlights of my family history and genealogy related activities over the past week:

1)  Moderated the Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS) DNA Interest Group Meeting  on Wednesday with 12 attendees.  I reported on the Ancestry Health announcement, the FamilyTreeDNA health announcement, the 23andMe updated ethnicity and family tree, the MyHeritagwe Live 2019 DNA videos, the RootsTech London livestreams and handouts, and my Newton/Brigham DNA matches.  The attendees reported on the status of their DNA test results and analyses.  

2)  Participated in Mondays With Myrt today.  The panel discussed the Zoom webinar and meetings features, RootsTech London, the Society of Genealogists, the Irish Genealogy site with free BMD records, removal of FamilySearch records, and the obituary hints.  

3)  Finished up my new presentation on “Researching in Historical Newspapers” which I will give at the 30 October CVGS general meeting.  I still need to do the syllabus.

3)  Watched one MyHeritage Live 2019 video –  The Worldwide DNA Web by Alon Diament Carmel. 

4)  Wrote and posted a biographical sketch of 6th great-grandmother #511 Sarah (Campbell) Rolfe (1746-1838) for my 52 Ancestors biographical sketch on Friday.  This completes my known 6th great-grandparents and closer ancestors.

6)  Ancestry added about 4,000 record hints for the Obituary Index and I started resolving them, adding content and sources to my RootsMagic tree.  I used the mining tool for a specific Ancestry record collection.
7) There were several sessions working in the RootsMagic software program to match with and update FamilySearch Family Tree profiles for Seaver families and my ancestral families, with occasional additions to the RootsMagic profiles. I have matched 33,163 of my RootsMagic persons with FSFT.

8)  Used Web Hints and Record Matches from Ancestry, MyHeritage, Findmypast and FamilySearch to add content and sources to my RootsMagic profiles.  I now have 55,167 persons in my RootsMagic file, and 111,073 source citations.   I TreeShared thrice this week updating 276 profiles, and I resolved 1105 Ancestry Hints.  I’ve fallen behind on the Ancestry Record Hints with 120,220 to be resolved, but I work on them weekly.

9)  Added several more ThruLines to DNA matches to my RootsMagic file.  Added Notes to about 5 AncestryDNA matches.   Downloaded  new MyHeritageDNA shared cM match list and got it into a spreadsheet, hoping to find common ancestors for my matches.  Tried to obtain the Auto cluster analysis but it failed for some reason.

10) Wrote 17 Genea-Musings blog posts last week, of which two were a press release.  The most popular post last week was 
New Collection on – Obituary Index, 1800s to Current  
with over 472 views.


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Copyright (c) 2019, Randall J. Seaver

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FamilySearch Introduces Family Tree Lite

Here is a quote from the FamilySearch Blog:

“One of our goals at FamilySearch is to create a research experience that is fast and efficient. That’s why, when you visit our site or use our app, you come across so many different tools. You can attach photos, list sources, use record hints, and search partner sites, and the list goes on.

“However, in some cases, you might have limited internet bandwidth that doesn’t allow all the bells and whistles of the website to run smoothly. Or maybe you simply want to save on data usage. For these circumstances, we have created a streamlined version of FamilySearch’s Family Tree, known appropriately as Family Tree Lite.”

You can read a lot more about Family Tree Lite at:

The First British Officer Killed in the Revolutionary War

When provincial militia companies fired at the British soldiers holding the North Bridge in Concord, they wounded four army officers:

Unable to march back to Boston, Gould commandeered a chaise in Concord and set out with Hull, who seems to have been more badly hurt. They raced back to safe ground through the hostile countryside.

Somewhere east of Lexington, the lieutenants met up with Col. Percy and the British relief column. Gould briefed the colonel about what had happened in Concord and drove on. But by the time the chaise reached Meontomy, the provincial militia was out in force.

Someone fired at the vehicle, wounding Hull again. Gould surrendered and was taken to Medford. Hull was carried into a deserted house beside the road. When the homeowners, Samuel and Elizabeth Butterfield, returned at the end of the day, they found a provincial man, Daniel Hemenway, shot in the chest but relatively healthy, and Lt. Hull, grievously wounded.

The next day, the Rev. David McClure had been in the Butterfields’ house. He wrote:

I went into a house in Menotomy, where was a stout farmer, walking the room, from whose side a surgeon had just cut out a musket ball . . .

In the same room, lay mortally wounded, a british Officer, Lieut. Hull, a youthful, fair & delicate countinance. He was of a respectable family of fortune, in Scotland. Sitting on one feather bed, he leaned on another, & was attempting to suck the juice of an Orange, which some neighbour had brought. The physician of the place had been to dress his wounds, & a woman was appointed to attend him. His breaches were bloody, lying on the bed. . . .

I asked him, if he was dangerously wounded? he replied, “yes, mortally.” That he had received three balls in his body. His countenance expressed great bodily anguish. I conversed with him a short time, on the prospect of death & a preperation for that solemn scene, to which he appeared to pay serious attention.

A rumor about Hull’s captivity circulated among his fellow officers in Boston, as recorded by Lt. Frederick Mackenzie on 30 April:

Lt. Hull of the 43rd Regiment who was dangerously wounded on the 19th Instant, was left in a house in the Village of Menotomy. ’Tis said the Rebels placed three deserters from the 43rd Regt over him while he lay on a bed unable to move, and that one of those Villains threatened to shoot him for having formerly brought him to a Court Martial.

There’s no hint of such treatment in provincial sources. The head of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, Dr. Joseph Warren, had written to Gen. Thomas Gage assuring him that Hull and Gould were getting medical care. He invited the general to send out any British army surgeon he chose.

In Igniting the American Revolution, Derek W. Beck writes that toward the end of the month, as Hull weakened, Warren sent Gage another note saying that the lieutenant hoped to see his regimental adjutant. That was Lt. William Miller; he was promoted to captain at the end of the year and was still at that rank when he died in 1789.

Hull died on 2 May. The next day, Gen. Artemas Ward ordered three lieutenants and three adjutants to escort the lieutenant’s coffin to Charlestown and turn it over to the British military. A barge from H.M.S. Somerset carried it across the Charles River to Boston.

On 4 May Lt. John Barker of the 4th Regiment wrote in his diary:

The late Lt. Hull of the 43d was buried today: he was wounded and taken Prisoner on the 19th and the day before yesterday died of his wounds; they yesterday brought him to town as he had requested it.

They won’t give up any of their Prisoners, but I hear they treat ’em pretty well.

(The photo above shows the monument to two British privates killed and buried near the North Bridge in Concord. We don’t know where Lt. Hull’s body was interred.)

Sources of Sephardic and Jewish Genealogy

If you are Jewish and you are planning to trace the history of your Sephardic ancestors, you should know the right links to achieve your goal.

To an amateur genealogist, it is vital to know the best sources. Knowing the right sources will directly link to the right answers. It is like a mathematical equation, you need to know the right formula to get the right answer.

Failing to get the right sources might probably lead to frustration. That is pathetic. It is like getting a flunking grade in a final exam.

Anyhow, don’t get discourage if you think you don’t have a good source to get your goal. Failure and attempts will gradually lead you to the right sources. And instead of being frustrated, you should be the first one to encourage yourself.

The following are the traditional sources of tracing the Jewish and Sephardic ancestry. These sources are frequently applied by the professional genealogists. These are:

Interview. Definitely, this must be started among the eldest family members. Here, you would know the names of your previous ancestors as well as the related generations. You would also know here the places where they used to dwell. Not that alone, you would also get the clues for other possible sources that will strengthen your documentation.

However, the data accumulated through interviewing needs to be verified. You have to be very careful on your documentation.

Marriage registries, old letters, photographs, cemetery records and diaries; these are the classic sources to obtain the information on Jewish genealogy. These sorts of sources are useful for both the Sephardic and Ashkenazim genealogists.

Holocaust records like the records of Arolsen in the International Red Cross including the Pages of Testimony by Yad Vashem are also useful to the Sephardim. This is because many Sephardim suffered on the hands of the Nazis.

Yad Vashem decided recently to produce a list of names of these Holocaust fatalities. And then, he makes it accessible in the so-called electronically accessible database. This was made possible on the first year of the Millennium.

Definitely, this report was very advantageous to genealogists.

Unfortunately, the records of Arolsen in the International Red Cross are deprived to the searching of their families. The records are only made available only if the family can give the precise first name and surname.

Some other sources for a Sephardic researcher are the following:

Ketubbot. This is the marriage contract of the Jewish. Certainly, this is a significant part of Jewish genealogy. The wonderful thing in this source is that it usually presents numerous generations of two sides. Ketubbot is regarded as a bonanza for genealogists.

Archives of Alliance Israelite. This documents found in Paris beholds a marvelous data regarding the Jewish genealogy. This is because during the period of 19th century the Alliance Israelites created an immense effort in building schools and helping the Jews located in North Africa.

Lastly, the Internet, this is the easiest and most accessible form of accumulating data regarding the genealogy of any race.

However, you should also be cautious in getting the data. You can verify it by checking various sources.

Free and accessible sources in your research for your genealogy

Free and accessible sources in your research for your genealogy

Isn’t it interesting to know more about your ancestral timeline several generations ago? If you are on the search for reliable sources that will serve as your reference documents, the internet is a good resource material. It has always contained the vast data that can help in your research. The great advantage when using the internet is that the genealogist can save both money and effort.

Aside from the ancestral timeline, some people also would want to know the details about their recent generations. In the quest of finding this out, genealogy becomes a serious study that takes an investment.

There are some helpful pointers that can give ease to your research. Whether you are new or a professional genealogist, you must know that there could be other researchers that work on your genealogy. One way to find out is to check on the published works of the surnames involved in your family tree. Some of these researchers publish their works on their website for other people to visit. Other helpful tools that can also be found in the internet are the searchable indexes that contain references needed in your study.

The genealogical or historical society is an institution that you can ask help from. They are found in the towns where your ancestors once lived. This is an excellent source of information on how life was during the time of your great, great grandparents. The genealogical or historical society keeps the records of local directories, the list of buried people even in inactive burial spots, and newspaper archives. The advantage of seeking help from this institution is that this is run by volunteers who have been oriented with some genealogical facts. This also contains addresses of other societies which have links to their webs.

Way back in 1800’s, the US and Europe has the long tradition of funeral cards or mourning cards. These are also great sources for genealogists. There are also web sites that deal on the indexing of these cards. You can visit these sites and search for the surnames that you need.

Newspapers are also good sources of local information. They usually contain valuable information about people who have lived a few years ago. The online newspaper archive is a searchable site that takes the place of microfilm reels. However, it would be advantageous if you have some information about your ancestors such as the event where they have been involved. When you search in online newspaper archives, you type the surname and the keyword, which is resembled by the event. The newspaper online is updated regularly that makes their information reliable.

Another research tool that is helpful in genealogy is the indexed census. Aside from this, there are other transcribed records which are also available online. Such records of birth, marriage and death information are available in some databases.

There are various research tools that help in the search of your ancestry. There are free and accessible sources that only proper organization provide.