Sunday, August 19, 2012

It’s a Long Way from California to Columbia

There has been a lot of talk about the quality of the 1940 census index at  In most cases, I am willing to make updates as they suggest and not worry about the obvious mistakes.  However, this one was just too outrageous not to mention.

I’m talking about Cecil P Bradshaw.  He was widowed and living with his brother in Bell County, Texas, in 1940.

The first inexcusable error was that his name was misspelled in the index as “Crcil”.  Anyone who is comfortable with English would have come up with “Cecil” rather than “Crcil”, unless it is simply a typo.  No problem.  I added the correct name to

The second error was more egregious. 

The state of residence in 1935 was transcribed as “Columbia” rather than California.  Anyone familiar with United States geography at all would not have made this mistake.

And here’s where I have to complain.  Subscribers are not allowed to make updates to the 1935 residence information which means that I have no way of helping others with a corrected index entry. 
Sad smile

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Recovering from a Family Tree Maker sync error [Tuesday’s Tip, Tech Tuesday]

I want to go on record that I absolutely love the fact that I can synchronize my family tree between and Family Tree Maker 2012.  It is easy to do, and it lets me work in Family Tree Maker most of the time, but view and share my tree online via

There have been some growing pains, though, and sometimes the synchronization fails.  If the problem doesn’t correct itself over time, the general advice is to disconnect the tree in Family Tree Maker from the one in, and either re-download from, or re-upload from Family Tree Maker.  Either way is no fun.

Recently, I encountered one of these errors and am happy to report that I was able to resolve it without taking drastic measures.  When I looked at How do I troubleshoot my TreeSync feature for Family Tree Maker 2012? I found directions for gathering information that Tech Support would need to help with the problem.  I thought, “Maybe I can be my own Tech Support.”

First, I poked around inside the information, saw an error about “zipping”, and found directions to a particular temp folder that Family Tree Maker uses (…AppData\Local\Temp\FTM).  The folder had 13,695 files in it and was very slow to open.  That seemed like a problem.  Since it was a Temp folder, I deleted it.  (Ok, I didn’t actually delete it, but I did rename it.)  After that I tried the synchronization again and was disappointed when it still failed.

imageI poked around some more and found a different error. The second error seemed like it had something to do with Media.  I tried the synchronization again and clicked on the View Details button.  Part of it looked a little like this “Changes from Ancestry” screen portion.

I found Richard McDuff in my online tree and removed the picture that I had linked to from someone else’s tree.  I synchronized again, and it was successful!

Apparently media files are often the cause of synchronization issues.  That’s the first place I’ll look next time I have a problem.  Many people may not feel comfortable poking around in technical log files like I did, but some will.  I don’t recommend deleting things or changing them outside of Family Tree Maker, but reading those techie log files can’t do any harm.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It hurts to index this

While indexing a page in the 1940 census for Dawson County, Texas, I found the following 1935 residence information for Clara Owen.
The handwriting is perfectly readable:  Bartlesville – Choctaw – Oklahoma.

Unfortunately, it’s wrong.  I know that, and I don’t even know Clara Owen.  You see, I grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, so I know that Bartlesville is not in Choctaw County.  It’s in Washington County.

The two counties are not even close to each other.

A part of me REALLY wants to index the county as Washington, but I won’t for a couple of reasons:
  • It’s possible that the city is wrong instead of the county.
  • The arbitrator would absolutely consider it an error.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Adventures in Indexing #4 – Texas A&M

My most recent page to index in the 1940 US Census is from College Station Texas, home of Texas A&M University.  This was a tedious page to index because there were no family groups to offer repeated information such as Surname. 

The page started with Manuel Salas, Partner, Male, White, Single, 27 years old, from San Antonio.

My first thought was that this was a page of students, maybe a men’s dorm.  I had to go back two pages to find the household number; when I did, I found the following notation:
Here begins the enumeration of the Texas A&M College dormitory for Mexican employees of the Dining Hall

That gave me some context, but still didn’t answer my curiosity about the term Partner in the Relationship field.  There were many people on the page listed as Partner.  I found my answer in the enumerator instructions:
If two or more persons who are not related by blood or marriage share a common dwelling unit as partners, write head for one and partner for the other or others.

One more interesting thing about this page.  Every one of the people in this section had a Hispanic surname, as you would guess from the description of “Mexican employees of the Dining Hall”.  However, every one of them was also listed as White rather than Hispanic, even the ones who were listed as born in Mexico.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Adventures in Indexing #3

I’ve been helping with the indexing of the 1940 US Census for 11 days now and have completed about 20 batches.  I decided it was time to check my arbitration results to see how accurate I was.

I was pleased to see that almost all of my batches were in the 98-100% accuracy range.  Well, there are so many fields to transcribe that 100% doesn’t really mean zero errors;  it just means that less than half a percent of the transcribed fields were judged to be in error.

However, there was one batch that was low at 91%.  I wondered why that one was so much lower than the others.  What did I find?  One error about 25 times.  “W” instead of “White” in the Race field. 

If you’ve been indexing, you know that the software is kind enough to auto-fill fields.  For instance, once you’ve typed “Texas” in the Place of Birth field one time, you can just type “T” and tab out of it on later rows and it will automatically fill in the rest of the word.  However, if you have entered more than one value that starts with “T” (Tennessee, for instance), it won’t auto-fill until you have typed enough letters for the system to know which one you want (Tex or Ten). 

As best as I can guess, on one line I must have typed a space after the W in the Race field, so it didn’t fill in the rest.  Then on subsequent lines, when I typed W it wasn’t unique.  When I tabbed to the next field, it didn’t auto-fill.  Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the mistake and it continued through the rest of the page.  Maybe I didn’t notice it because some of the other fields (Sex, Marital Status) are entered as only the starting letter.

What’s interesting to me is that the Quality Checker didn’t catch my mistakes.  I’d love to see an upgrade to the indexing software that would include the Race field in the Quality Checker!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Adventures in Indexing #2

When I got to the end of my 11th batch of 1940 US Census indexing [Kansas, Sedgwick County, Park, Enumeration District 87-30, Page 9B, recorded May 2], I found a lonely child:  Phillip Neal White.




He is listed as being part of family 70, but is listed immediately after family 185.  This page was the last of the enumeration district, and he was the last person listed on the page.  And, he was less than a month old!


On a lark, I browsed the rest of the images for this enumeration district to find family 70.  I found them with the same surname (White) on Page 4A, which was recorded 2 weeks earlier on April 16.



My guess is that Phillip Neal White was born between April 16 and May 2 of 1940, and that the census enumerator, Delphia Thompson, knew the White family personally.  I just wonder how much confusion this will be to future researchers when they find the infant son 5 pages away from his family in the census.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Adventures in Indexing #1

 Like many family historians and genealogists, I signed up to help index the 1940 US Census.  I’m actually a little selfish – I want to be able to say “And I helped!”

Here’s something a little different that I notice on my first page.
This page came from Sussex County, Delaware (Enumeration District 3-45, Sheet 15B).

As in many households, the woman of the house answered the questions for the census taker.  In the 1940 census, this is indicated by the X with a circle around it. 

What’s interesting about this family is that Mary G Bailey not only answered the questions, but also called herself the head of household even though her husband Robert Bailey lived there too.

Nothing jumps out at me as to why Mary considered herself the head of household.  It makes my imagination wander.  Was it just a slip-up by the enumerator? Was Mary a feminist?  Was Robert, at age 79, senile or infirm such that Mary no longer considered her to be the head of the family?

I have no ties to the Bailey family, or even to Delaware for that matter, so I may never know why Mary claimed to be the head of this household.  But perhaps their grandchildren or other descendants will chuckle and nod knowingly because they knew Mary and her personality, or will be driven to dig deeper to find out.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What’s Up with the E names?

While researching Rippetoes in Russell County, Kentucky, I came across Orson Elmer Rippetoe and his wife Oda Ester McFarland.  Here you see them in the 1920 Census.


They named 7 children with E names.  E is not the a very popular starting letter for names!

Their children:
  • Eula Rippetoe
  • Earl Rippetoe
  • Elford Rippetoe
  • Ella Rippetoe
  • Evelyn Rippetoe
  • Edwin Rippetoe
  • and Edna Rippetoe who is in the 1930 census, but not the 1920, and might actually be Ella

They didn’t even use the obvious family names: Orson’s middle name was Elmer and Oda's middle name was Ester.
I guess they saved on monograms:  the parents were OR and the kids were all ER.Winking smile

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

See More of your Census Citation [Tuesday’s Tip]

One of the differences I noticed when I upgraded from Family Tree Maker 2010 to Family Tree Maker 2012 is that hovering over a source citation didn’t tell me as much as it used to – at least for census citations that I had let Family Tree Maker create after the upgrade.

You’ll notice that the individual’s name was listed in the “before” example, but not in the “after” example.

To make things even more confusing, census citations generated in my Ancestry Member Tree and subsequently synched to Family Tree Maker showed the additional information.  What’s up with that?

This week, I finally figured it out!

Apparently the default for a certain little checkbox on the citation screen was changed between Family Tree Maker 2010 and 2012.  It used to default to Checked; now it defaults to Unchecked.

By checking this checkbox, I can now see the Citation Detail and the Citation Text when I hover over a citation.  This is very helpful for me.

I have issues with the lack of completeness in the auto-generated source citations from US Census records, but that’s for another day.  This is a Tip, not a Complaint.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

City Directories Aren’t Just for City Folk

When I listen to podcasts about genealogy, I often hear people mentioning finding good clues in city directories.  In my mind, I always imagined New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and maybe Dallas and Houston.  But my ancestors were farmers.  They didn’t live in big cities like that.  I figured I was out of luck.

But recently posted enhanced indexes of city directories, so I thought I’d give them a look.  Much to my delight, I found that Texas was one of the states included – and specifically there were directories for Abilene, Waco, and San Antonio, all cities where some of my direct ancestors have lived.

I checked for Collins surname in the Abilene city directories. I was surprised to find my great grandfather Albert Buell Collins in several (1909, 1914, 1917, 1919, 1921, 1924, 1926) directories. The surprise came because he was a farmer. Furthermore, the 1910 US Census showed him with his family in Roby, 50 miles away. My grandfather’s memoirs mentioned moving to Abilene so that his older brother could attend high school, but the dates weren’t mentioned. These directories help flesh out that information. 

There were several Collins in these directories, some known relatives.  It makes me wonder if there are any other relatives lurking there.

The Abilene entries sent me on successful tangents to San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston where family members moved as they established their own careers.

I also checked out Lester Loyd Edmonds in the Waco city directories.  I found him in the 1923, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1932, and 1934 directories.  I found one new address for him, plus plenty of evidence of his employment at Piggly Wiggly Stores.  It also provided some tips for his sister Blanche and her husband James Blaine Gilmore.  I’d really like to find and get in touch with her descendants.

Oh, and the advertisements are a hoot, too.  Check out this one from the 1919 Waco directory:
Note the 2-digit phone number!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

“Gone to Texas” Letters [Thankful Thursday]

Anne Chappell’s Genealogy Pages were last modified in 2000.  How much value could they be?  But I found some priceless letters transcribed there.

Somewhere in the 1870s, several families from Fayette and Tuscaloosa counties in Alabama moved to Hill County, Texas, to seek the promise of the rich soil and open lands.  My great grandfather, Augustus Newell Edmonds, and his family were in the bunch.  Other surnames include Stanley, Richards, and Chappell.

On Anne Chappell’s web pages, I found a transcription of numerous letters back and forth between Texas and Alabama, dated from 1881 through 1977.  According to a heading on the web page,  the letters were saved by Eliza Hester Johns Stanley and her daughters, Missouri McKinney Stanley Chappell and Cornelia Josephine Stanley Chappell, and have been passed down for two more generations.

In addition to being Chappell family treasures, these letters provide insight into life in Central Texas in the late 1880s.  To me, they provide glimpses of my great grandfather, as he and his wife are among the people mentioned:

C. McDuffs family is all well.  gus Emmons is on the mend.  R. D. & B. E. Standley and folks is all well.   uncle jess Ben is complaining Some.
we went to gus Edmonds tuesday, to Tom's tuesday night, friday went to Ben's and Saturday we taken Rufe's wagon and mares and colts and Ben's Willie and went to Col's by ourselves.
pusses Liza called Bet Edmonds Narce all the time.

Elizabeth Shown Mills talks about the importance of the FAN club (Friends, Acquaintances, and Neighbors).  These letters highlight how intertwined the families were.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cousin Bait

I will readily admit that a nice side benefit of this blog is that it provides a point of contact for unknown cousins.  A couple of distant cousins have already found me through this blog, and others have found me through  It is always exciting to get a notice that a distant relative has found an entry on my tree and wants to connect.

Today, I’m putting it out there for people to Google.  Here is a lengthy list of direct-line ancestors in my research family tree.  Hopefully someone will find a name that they care about when they search, and we’ll be able to connect and exchange information.

Ruth Antle (1751-1842) [Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky]
Joel Appling (1752-1838) [Virginia, Georgia]
John Appling (1798-1840) [Georgia]
Mary Frances Appling (1823-1880) [Georgia, Alabama]
Thomas Appling (1726-1801) [Virginia, Georgia]
Minerva Adeline Barrett (1842-1870) [South Carolina, Texas]
Oliver Barrett (1810-1877) [South Carolina, Texas]
Winifred Buckner (1751-1840) [Virginia, Georgia]
Mary M Childers (1837-1909) [Georgia, Alabama, Texas]
Albert Buell Collins (1862-1942) [Kentucky, Texas]
Samuel Collins (-1834) [Virginia, Kentucky]
Thomas Alexander Collins (1824-1892) [Kentucky]
Amanda H Davis (1861-1902) [Alabama, Texas]
Thomas Davis (1811-) [South Carolina, Alabama]
William T Davis (1831-1863) [Alabama]
Augustus Newell Edmonds (1846-1920) [Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma]
John Edmonds (1716-) [Wales, Virginia]
John Edmonds (1746-1830) [Virginia, Georgia]
William A Edmonds (1814-1902) [Georgia, Alabama]
Susan Martha Ellis (1838-1912) [Kentucky]
Lemuel Green (1814-1852) [South Carolina]
Susan Emma Green (1867-1953) [Texas, Arkansas, Colorado]
William Pinkney Green (1837-1907) [South Carolina, Texas]
Leo Edward Habich (1903-1976) [Kentucky]
Leopold Habich (1847-1920) [Germany, Kentucky]
Mary Hamner (1755-) [Georgia]
Nancy Harper (1821-) [North Carolina, Tennessee]
Buford Knight (1801-1850) [Kentucky]
Talitha Jane Knight (1827-1885) [Kentucky]
Agnes Maxwell (1795-) [Virginia]
David McCoy (1742-1822) [Scotland, South Carolina]
Susan Emma McCoy (1814-1883) [South Carolina, Texas]
Mary Polly McElroy (-) [Georgia]
John McElvain (1874-) [Kentucky]
Mamie Violet McElvain (1899-1979) [Kentucky]
Alexander McKinnon (1818-) [North Carolina, Tennessee]
Amanda Bell McKinnon (1858-1931) [Tennessee, Texas]
Elihu Melton (1798-1885) [North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama]
Emily Jane Melton (1835-1910) [Alabama, Texas]
Nancy Emily Murrah (1821-1893) []
Adeline Neal (1821-) [Kentucky]
Kemp H Parker (1815-) [North Carolina, Tennessee]
Kemp Hawkins Parker (1853-1928) [Tennessee, Texas]
Lula Mae Parker (1894-1928) [Tennessee, Texas]
Amanda Jane Perryman (1860-1945) [Kentucky, Texas]
George Washington Perryman (1804-1878) [North Carolina, Kentucky]
William Perryman (1760-1854) [Maryland, North Carolina]
Elizabeth Price (1841-1913) [Kentucky]
Harvey Price (1819-) [Kentucky]
Edward Prince (1803-) [South Carolina, Alabama, Texas]
James Nathaniel Prince (1860-1902) [Texas]
John W Prince (1837-1921) [Alabama, Texas]
Sarah Simmons Richards (1807-1898) [Georgia, Alabama]
Sarah Jane Rippetoe (1808-1886) [Kentucky]
William Rippetoe (1781-1863) [North Carolina, Kentucky]
William Rippetoe (1748-1839) [Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky]
Nancy Sherrill (1805-) [Tennessee]
David Standley (1797-) [Tennessee]
Louisa Standley (1828-) [Tennessee]
Elizabeth Steitz (1859-1934) [Germany, Kentucky]
James C Swinney (1818-1887) [Kentucky]
Thomas Gilbert Swinney (1900-1979) [Kentucky]
Thomas Wilson Swinney (1865-1940) [Kentucky]
Emily Vaughan (1816-1864) [South Carolina]
Cora Vincent (1876-) [Kentucky]
John H Vincent (1844-1917) [Kentucky]
Elizabeth Vinson (1787-1844) [North Carolina, Kentucky]
Hallie B Wellman (1875-1907) [Kentucky]
John Wellman (1839-) [Kentucky]
Anna Pearl Woods (1900-1997) [Kentucky]

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Census Mistakes: Parent’s birthplace

We all know that there are mistakes in the census.  We complain about mangled names which make it difficult to find our ancestors.  We are confused by ages when the women seem to get younger with every passing 10 years.  I am always skeptical when I see conflicting birthplaces listed for parents, but I figure that a wife (who might have been the one giving the information) might not really know where her husband’s parents were born.  I consider them “hints” rather than “facts”.

In this example from District 16, Waco, McLennan County, Texas, in the 1930 census, the birthplaces of the parents are switched.

Since the people in this listing (L. Lloyd Edmonds and his 4 children) are lodgers, their relationship to each other is not indicated in the census.  However, I know that Amanda M., Lloyd Jr, Lee O., and Vivian are the children of the widower.  (I also know that they spelled Loyd with one L rather than two.)

You will note that the father’s place of birth is listed as Texas, but the place of birth of father on each of the children’s lines is listed as Tennessee.  If you took this at face value, you would think that Loyd might be an uncle rather than the father of these 4 children.  However, the birthplace of the mother is listed as Texas.  In reality, the two columns (birthplace of father and birthplace of mother) are swapped.  Their deceased mother was born in Tennessee.

This makes one wonder if the entire page is similarly transposed, or possibly every page completed by this particular enumerator.

This is just one more thing that we have to be on the lookout for.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Who’s in that Picture?

While gathered with family over the holidays, I was asked a couple of times about the people in the banner photo for this blog.  One brother asked me to blog about it, so here goes.

The picture was taken during the summer of 1928 in Colorado, near the home of Susan Emma Green Prince, “Emma Prince”.  Having been a widow since 1902, Emma Prince was the family matriarch.  Oral history indicates that she lived near Boulder, but she is listed in the 1930 US Census in Lakewood, Colorado, just west of Denver, which is south of Boulder.

The children help with dating of the photograph.  Carolyn (left-most child) was hit by a car and died that summer.  Also, the absence of Golda Emma Prince Collins (Carolyn’s and Grammy’s mother) helps date the photo since she died of pneumonia in 1927.  The children spent the summer with their grandmother, Emma Prince. 

Adults (left to right):

Mallie Prince -- Known in the family as Aunt Mallie, she was born about 1898 in Borden County, Texas.  She was the youngest of the daughters and married A L Jones.
Arthur Prince -- According to Grammy, this is Arthur Prince.  He was the eldest son of Emma Prince, and was born in 1889.  At this time, he was living in Abilene, Texas, and was married to Lela Barker.  It is unclear why his wife was not in the photograph, unless she is the unidentified woman.
Louise Goodwell -- Daughter of AP Goodwell from a prior marriage.
Susan Emma Prince – Grammy’s grandmother, the matriarch of the family.
Unidentified woman
AP Goodwell -- Married to Winnie Prince.
Winnie Prince -- The middle daughter of Emma Prince.  She was born about 1895 and was married to AP Goodwell.

Children (left to right):

Carolyn Collins -- Grammy’s younger sister.  She was almost 5 years old at the time of this picture.
Arthur Goodwell – son of AP Goodwell.  I don’t know whether Winnie Prince was his mother, or if he was the son from a prior marriage.

Comments welcome – especially any information about the Goodwells or the Jones.