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The Livermore Roots Tracer

Volume 27 Number 1

February 2007

Managing Editor: Jane Southwick

Editors:  Kay Speaks, Marie Ross, Lois Barber  rootstracer@l-ags.org

Web Editor: Vicki Renz, webmaster@l-ags.org

The Roots Tracer is the quarterly publication of the Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society. The mission statement of the Roots Tracer is: "Instruct. Inspire. Inform." We encourage members to submit articles for publication. Material can be e-mailed to: tracer@L-AGS.org or mailed to L-AGS, P.O. Box 901, Livermore, CA 94551-0901.

Queries are free. Please send your queries to querymaster@l-ags.org.

Table of Contents

President's Message L-AGS/LDS Seminar in April Membership News
Genealogy Books for Students, in Remembrance of Jon How To Make a Grown Man Cry Sacramento German Genealogical Society
G.R.O.W. Getting a "Hit " in Salt Lake City A Random Act of Genealogical Kindness
Dig Deeper with LDS Research Guidance Some Useful Tools for a Genealogy Research Trip Volunteer for a Genealogy Transcription or Indexing Project
"We're All In Our Places, with Bright Shiny Faces" Meet the Invisible L-AGS Postmaster Weekly Newspapers - Chonicles of Small Town America
Praise for the Archivists New in the Pleasanton Genealogy Library Roots Tracer Staff


A Message from Our New President

Anne Marshall Homan

Thank you for the privilege of being president of L-AGS for 2007. I will do my best and with the continued help of the many members who volunteer in the varied interests of the organization, I hope that we will have a good year. Jane has large shoes to fill!

As a part of my new job, I am expected to read the newsletters that we receive from groups similar to ours. I have been very impressed at the quality of the Roots Tracer. The inclusion of articles by members about their personal experiences in their quests for family history especially helps to make our newsletter better. If you read my first book, The Morning Side of Mount Diablo, you will know that I believe oral history is very important in the writing of history. The personal stories of people make the general ideas come alive for the reader. In the same way, our own experiences in tracing our families are so much more interesting and revealing than the reprint of an article from Heritage Quest. Please keep sending in your own stories to the Roots Tracer. We even have people willing to help you write if you feel shy about your abilities.

At our February meeting, Maxine Trost, archivist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, presented a program about how to save our records and family materials safely. Although not all of us agreed that paper is a better preserver than a digital medium, she still had ideas that definitely have merit. Even if we have all of our records on CDs, we still have the original papers and photographs in most cases. She warned that many companies use the word 'archival' loosely; we need to be sure to order archival storage materials from a well-known company with a good reputation.

Thank you for your trust in me, write your stories, and don't use post-it notes on important records.

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L-AGS Genealogy Seminar

A Special Event – Saturday, April 21

Stephen P. Morse and Susan G. Johnston to Be Guest Speakers

By Kay Speaks

Speaker Stephen P. Morse

L-AGS, in association with the Livermore LDS Church, is hosting this free genealogical seminar. The event is still in the planning stages, although the date is firm. More information will be coming soon.

Stephen Morse is an amateur genealogist who has been researching his Russian-Jewish origins for the past few years. Several years ago he developed his famous One-Step Web pages, which, he says, "much to my surprise, have attracted attention worldwide." His site, http://www.stevemorse.org, has received both the Outstanding Contribution Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. In his other life, Morse is a computer professional with a doctorate degree in electrical engineering from New York University. He has spent a career alternately doing research, development, teaching, consulting, and writing. He is best known as the architect of the Intel 8086 (the granddaddy of today's Pentium processor), which sparked the PC revolution 25 years ago. Steve will present three different topics: "One-Step Web Pages: A Potpourri of Genealogical Search Tools"; "Ellis Island Search"; "Playing Hide and Seek in the U.S. Census."

L-AGS Member Susan G. Johnston is a graduate of Yale University with a degree in physics. She began working in medical research while studying voice at the Peabody Conservatory. She is a graduate of the National Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research course, "Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis," and the National Archives' course, "Going to the Source." Sue developed a workshop on source citations for her own advanced genealogy course while in Baltimore, a workshop subsequently presented to several Maryland genealogy societies. Sue is also teaching genealogy classes at Las Positas College in Livermore, California. Sue's topic is "Adventures in Source Citations".

Please mark your calendars for this major event on April 21!

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Member News

Membership Co-Chairs - Patrick Lofft & Larry Hale

Welcome to Our New Members

Nancy McCarty Margaret McLelland Cindra Wheeler

We are grateful for the generosity of these members of L-AGS:

Kay Speaks, David Steffes, Duncan Tanner

James Bahls, Sandra Caulder, Sandy & DeLynn Clark, Ted & Gail Fairfield,
Richard & Wanda Finn,  Richard & Jean Lerche, David & Bernice Oakley, Betty Ryon

Total Membership as of February 1, 2007: 241 Individuals

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Genealogy Books for Students, In Remembrance of Jon

By Jane Southwick

Book donation presentation at Livermore High School.
(Left to right) - Gail Bryan, Past President Jane Southwick,
Past President Dick Finn, President Anne Homan
and Alane Liosel, Livermore High School.

Jon Burditt Bryan was an outstanding member and officer of L-AGS. He was the inspiration and driving force in establishing our outreach booth at the Alameda County Fair. As program chairman, he arranged for one of our all-time most popular presentations – the talk by FBI agent Max Noel about the research leading to the capture of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. Jon led us safely and surely into the new millennium as president in 2000 and 2001.

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Book donation presentation at Dublin High School. (Left to right) President Anne Homan, Librarian Glenn Walder, Past President Jane Southwick, Gail Bryan.

When Jon died on September 27, 2005, Gail, his wife, asked that donations be made in his memory to our Society. A committee consisting of Dick Finn, Caroline Foote and Arleen Wood pondered long and hard about how to use the donated money. Gail explained to this group that education was very important to Jon. He helped create the "Genealogy for Students" pages on our Web site. Therefore, the committee decided that a donation of books to Valley high school libraries would be a good way to perpetuate Jon's memory, as well to help spark an interest in family history among the younger generation.

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Book donation at Pleasanton High School. (Left to right) Librarian Judith Martin, President Anne Homan, Past President Jane Southwick, Gail Bryan.

There are five high school libraries in the Valley: Livermore and Granada High School in Livermore; Amador Valley and Foothill High School in Pleasanton; and Dublin High School. Our new President, Anne Homan, made contact with the library representatives, Alane Liosel, of the Livermore High Schools, Judith Martin of the Pleasanton High Schools, and Glenn Walder of Dublin High School.

Four of our members, President Anne Homan, Past President Jane Southwick, Gail Bryan and Past President Dick Finn, traveled to Pleasanton, Livermore, and Dublin to present books for the use of future genealogists, "In Remembrance of Jon."

The books we presented were:

1. Redbook, American State, County, and Town Sources

2. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Genealogy

3. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy

4. Genealogy Online for Dummies

Judy Person was instrumental in helping to choose the books. Although "Idiot" and "Dummy" may seem demeaning to the students, the words are just synonyms for "Beginner," chosen for marketing purposes. The books are respected best sellers.

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How to Make a Grown Man Cry

By Arleen Wood

Alice Englund, age 15,
confirmation photograph

Life was difficult for my mother-in-law, Alice, from the day she was born. She was the ninth child born to Peter and Kerstin Englund in 1891. Her parents emigrated from different areas of Sweden, married and homesteaded in Minnesota on virgin prairie in 1873. By 1891, when Alice was born, they had already suffered the loss of five children in diphtheria and scarlet fever epidemics, and had endured many other hardships, such as grasshopper invasions and blizzards, while establishing their homestead.

Her mother died of cancer when she was five years old. When she was 11 years old, her father died in an accident, leaving her to be raised by her older siblings. She was faced with many challenges during her 92 years on earth and I felt the need for her grandchildren to know what a remarkable woman she was. A tape recording made by her oldest daughter in 1984 provided answers to questions that were too sensitive for me to ask my mother-in-law. I found newspaper articles and documents to corroborate many of the facts. How did this woman manage to "put on a happy face"?

After researching, collecting, recording, re-recording information, transferring it from one computer to another as software and hardware became obsolete, and procrastinating for over 25 years, I had accumulated quite a lot of information. Being the "last man standing" of my generation on the Wood branch of the family, I felt the need to put this information into a form that could be distributed among the descendants. I surprised (yes, after promising it for years, they were surprised!) the twelve grandchildren of my mother-in-law with the book this December. The sample responses from them are humbling!

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Cover of my book about Alice and her family.

Your book (beautifully put together) arrived today. I could not imagine what it was, but as I opened it up it became clear. As I leafed through it I welled up and cried. It'll be a great legacy that will endure for generations and it will bear your name as author!!! What a great tribute you have and are providing on behalf Grandma Wood for her grandchildren... I love you for it. - Johnnie

That book was incredible! Thank you. I didn't realize the hardships they endured. I'm still amazed at her life and what she and the family endured. I never knew they had it that tough. Amazing!! Again, great job on the book. I really enjoyed it and I have to say it choked me up reading it. - Tom

I received the books in the mail on Friday. What a gift you have given to us all. I just can't thank you enough for all of the time, effort and $ that you put into that project. It is truly incredible. I only had a little while to read it, but already have learned things I didn't know and have seen photos I haven't seen. What an extraordinary gift you have given to all of us! Thank you so much. - Jennifer

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View of the full-page pedigree chart for George Wood,
brother of my late husband, Burton Wood. George was a pilot killed in World War II.
I like the feature of FTM that allows photos of individuals to be displayed on charts.

I'm sure there are many ways to compile a book. I chose Family Tree Maker Bookmaker to produce a family history/genealogy book because it "held my hand" as I experimented with it. It creates a Table of Contents and index (reference to FTM charts and reports only). It allowed me to create chapters and text items where I could include text, scanned items such as obituaries, weddings, photos and documents, and to give the chapter a title. In order to insert a photo or other scanned image, it must first be placed into the scrapbook of one of the persons in the book.

I suggest adding the scanned items last, because if you edit the text with a photo or image in it, the text moves, but the image does not. That requires additional unnecessary editing. If I decided I didn't like where the chapter was in the sequence, I could just drag it to a new location. One of the features I liked was the ability to have a photo of the person in the ancestral charts.

When you are finished you can download it in PDF onto a CD. The book ended up at 164 pages (82 sheets, double-sided). I chose a spiral binding with a clear plastic front cover and colored back cover. I had the books printed in black and white at OfficeMax at 7.5 cents per page; final cost was about $15 per book. Color copies would have made the cost prohibitive for me. I also chose to include a CD of the book for each so the readers can see the book in color. I have given them permission to have more copies printed for their children if they wish.

You think you can't write well enough to produce a book? If I can, so can you! I did very little writing; I let the charts, reports, obituaries, wedding write-ups, documents and photos tell the story. If you are planning to use Family Tree Maker to write your own book, I encourage you to attend our FTM meetings where you can ask questions and we work together on problems you might encounter. More information about the FTM group can be obtained by writing to mailto:ftm.chair@L-AGS.org .

The important thing is to share the information that you have amassed. It will be appreciated. I felt like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders.

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I Recommend:

Sacramento German Genealogy Society

By Lois Smith

In 2000, shortly after moving to Livermore, I joined L-AGS. This opened up a world of knowledge about doing genealogy and where to find information. I found out about the Sacramento German Genealogy Society (SGGS) from L-AGS. SGGS provided many new ways to find out about the three-quarters of my ancestry that is German.

SGGS ( http://www.sacgergensoc.org/ ) has great speakers at its monthly meetings. One of my favorites is Roger Minert of the LDS Library in Salt Lake City. He speaks with great knowledge and clarity, and has a sharp wit. Until I heard his lectures I had been vaguely wandering around in Family Search and using a few of the LDS microfilms. He gave specific instructions on how to proceed. I have since found German ancestors back to the 1750s.

SGGS offers other helpful things. In addition to monthly meetings, they have an annual all-day seminar with several speakers and wonderful handouts. They have an invaluable list of the German handwritten alphabet. They provide information and forms for contacting sources in Germany and for visiting them. There are also maps, a library, and an extensive collection of surnames submitted by members.

Their quarterly publication, Der Blumenbaum, is a bargain for the $25.00 annual membership. It is almost 100 pages and includes stories, customs, sources, and lots of historical and cultural information about Germans in both the U.S. and Germany. SGGS is a great resource for anyone with German ancestry.

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Genealogy Resources On the Web – The Page That Helps Genealogy Grow!

Compiled by Frank Geasa

This Massachusetts archives site offers online indexes to births and deaths (1841-1910), Passenger Lists (1848-1891) and the Archives Collection Database (1629-1891). Search by last name and you may find an ancestor on such things as petitions, tax lists, church member lists, etc.
If your genealogical interests include Hawaii, the following site has marriage, divorce, death and several other indexes online at:
Do you wonder how you will ever identify some of the family photos you have? Maureen Taylor has written many articles for Family Tree Magazine on various ways of identifying individuals in family photos. A list of these articles and links to them are at this site.
This website tries to reunite stray family photos with their family. You can both submit stray photos you have and/or search the photos others have submitted.
If your ancestors were from the barony of Lecale, County Down, Northern Ireland, the Lecale Historical Society has transcribed the 1901 census for that barony.
The Rogue Valley Genealogical Society of Jackson County, Oregon has several online indexes available including juror lists, deaths, wedding announcements and births.
This unique and growing site offers transcriptions of southern newspaper items related to individual Confederate soldiers. It includes an alphabetical surname index.
If your ancestry traces to Carini, Palermo Province of Sicily, Italy, you will want to visit this site with volumes of digitized images of actual church and civil records dating back to the 1500s. Included are baptism, marriage, burial and census records.
The University of the Virgin Islands (U.S.) has a unique collection of funeral/memorial booklets for hundreds of deceased residents. Dated starting from the 1970s, many contain extensive data beyond the information concerning the death.
This ongoing research site of the University of Montreal, Canada has databases of old Quebec Catholic parish records (to 1800). While it is a subscription site, it offers free access to indexes of the baptism, marriage & burial records.
This site is focused on gathering family data for the Pomeranian county of Belgard (Polish/German border area along Baltic Sea). It offers several online databases, the largest being the surname list. Drilling down on a name may produce considerable family data.
If your ancestors are from Madera County, California or surrounding areas you will want to visit this county Genweb site, which includes many indexes and transcriptions — birth, marriage, death, voting, cemeteries, etc.
If your ancestry search involves the Australian state of New South Wales, a visit to these two sites will yield various vital record and other genealogical indexes.

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Getting a "Hit" in Salt Lake City

By Marilyn Felton Cutting

My great grandfather, Madison Slaughter

It was my last day in Salt Lake City and I had pretty much accomplished all that I had set out to do. So I was "fooling around" on the computer at the research library before it was time to go to the airport. I typed in the name SLAUGHTER, my father's maternal grandfather, whom I knew very little about. Wow! I got numerous "hits" for newspaper articles in the Woodland [California] Democrat beginning in the late 1800s to 1923.

So I began to peruse these articles. One mentioned that my grandmother, Carrie, was on the honor roll when in the 4th grade. Then, I came across an article with a headline in bold and large print that blared "Madison Slaughter Applies for Parole." Well, now, I am riveted to my chair and watching the clock.

The articles revealed that my great-grandfather, a Baptist minister and described as "a stellar light in church work" and "a live wire in evangelistic circles," was charged with "assaulting" a 15-year old girl in Chico where both were residing in November 1915. A jury found him guilty of rape in February 1916 and he was sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 14 years in San Quentin. I hurriedly printed out the articles and placed them in a binder. I was very curious about this information as no one in my family, to my knowledge, had ever mentioned this incident, but sadly to say there was no one left to ask questions of and so the articles remained in the binder.

Then at a recent L-AGS meeting, Kay Speaks was giving a presentation and mentioned that one could contact the State Archives in Sacramento and request prison records. Mary Ann Loss added that she had recently received about 6 pages of documents and was not even charged the 25 cents per page fee. So, I contacted the Archives and within two days had a reply stating that, yes, they had a file on Madison consisting of over 1900 pages and the copy costs would be $488.25. Whoa! I informed them that I would go there and peruse the file so please DO NOT copy all those pages.

The transcript from the jury trial, which took place in Butte County in February 1916, and the appeal documents reflect that he had been a Baptist minister for over thirty years. He and his wife, Nettie, had five living daughters (my grandmother, Carrie, was one of these daughters). He was well thought of in the community. Throughout the trial and during the appeal process he maintained his innocence. He claimed that his enemies set out to discredit and besmirch him because of his reform work. In one of the many letters to the governor supporting Madison, it was stated that he was not afraid to fight vice in its every phase, "the liquor and red light traffic being two which he was especially interested in putting down." The author of the letter went on to say that due to his efforts the red light district and saloons were put out of business in Porterville.

The file contains many letters and petitions in support of Madison and implies that he was "set up" because he was such a strong opponent of brothels and liquor. He filed appeals in 1917 and 1920, doing his own appeal work and was pardoned by Governor Stephens in 1922.

An article in the Woodland Democrat, dated October 1922, states that upon his release from San Quentin "he will retire to a small chicken ranch in Plano," which is near Porterville. He died there in July of 1925. Nettie lived on for another seven years. Both of them are buried in the Woodland Cemetery, which I visited just a few weeks ago.

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 A Random Act of Genealogical Kindness

By Lois Barber

Jonathan Askew and his great grandson, William Askew. This is one of my favorite pictures. Notice the hands.

A friend recently made me the custodian of 23 studio photographs from the late 1800s to early 1900s. The photos were of her aunt's family. I think that when she gave the photographs to me — what would I want with them? — she believed that I would try to get them back to the family. She was right. She knows that family history is important to me.

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One of the unidentified photos.
Frank Geasa gives two links in his G.R.O.W. column in this issue of the
Roots Tracer that can be used to reunite unidentified pictures with families that would treasure them.

Twenty-one of the photographs were clearly identified and were taken in Illinois. I found on the US GenWeb Project for Illinois that the S. W. Tate Studio in Pontiac, Illinois, was in business during this time. They had taken many of the photos.

One of the unidentified photos is of a young woman, perhaps on her graduation from high school, taken by Art Photo Shop in Bloomington, Illinois. There is a wedding photo where I believe the bride is the same young woman. They certainly have the same genes.

The other photo, at 6 x 8 inches, the largest of all, is of a female child taken in summer by the G. Pierson Studio in Muskogee, Oklahoma. How is this child related to the family?

After looking at each photo I decided to write down the information on each one. Then I went through a second time and put them in series from baby to adult and by the four generations. How exciting! Don't I wish that this would happen to me. What should I do next?

Most of the pictures are of the Thomas and Frances Askew family. In the 1930 census there is a daughter, Anna M., age 23, and sons, Jonathan M., age 17, and Ray V., age 29. Ray is divorced and has Mildred F., a daughter age 8, and William T., a son, age 3 years and 4 months, also living in the home. Daughter Helen, age 21 in the 1920 census, is no longer living at home.

I next looked at the Pontiac, Illinois, GenWeb site. There you can look up residents in the white pages. There were 119 Askew families. I found a Lisa and William — William was a name in this family. Should I call the number? I decided that I would not. I found a Genealogical Society in Lexington, Illinois. I was so anxious to learn more that I called and spoke with a member who was willing to help me. He explained that it might be a while before I heard from him as he had other projects he was working on, but that he had records that would help him find a family member.

A few weeks later I received his e-mail with the phone number for Mildred and also for her son. I called Mildred and explained what I had and that I would like to send them to her. She, of course, wanted to know how I had come by the photos. Since I hadn't yet asked my friend if I could give her address and phone number to her cousin I said that I would send the information in the package. I was given permission to share her information. I know that they have been in touch.

I have to admit that at first I was a bit disappointed that I didn't receive an acknowledgement from Mildred or her family after they received the package. But I have been repaid in a way I would never have anticipated. My friend just couldn't get over how I found her cousin. She and her husband are newly retired and guess what? They are now into genealogy. They came to the LDS Family History Center in Livermore during one of my shifts, and even the husband was looking for his ancestors. During the Christmas holiday, my friend arranged a reunion for members of her paternal side.

She is having so much fun that I feel amply rewarded for my efforts.

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Dig Deeper with the LDS Research Guidance Tool

A Tutorial

By Kay Speaks
Study Group Leader

One of our L-AGS Study Group topics last year was a review of the genealogical website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often called the Mormon Church, or LDS Church. The address of this renowned site is http://www.FamilySearch.org . Several members were surprised to find how much useful information can be obtained from this site.

The site's "Research Guidance" tool is a great way to learn how to research for specific record group types. For example, if I wished to research a marriage in Arkansas, I would do the following, after accessing www.FamilySearch.org.

1) From the main menu, select the "SEARCH" tab.

2) Click on the "Research Guidance" option. This brings up the site's research assistant.

3) Select the location you would like to research. For my example, I selected "Arkansas, United States." If you aren't certain, a list of only those areas in which a guideline has been created will appear. You have options to select a location where a person was born, christened, married or died. In this case, I'm looking for an Arkansas marriage.

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4) As my grandparents were born in 1895, I'll look for an Arkansas marriage record in the "1900-Present" Marriage group.

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5) You will now see three tabs: "Historical Background," "For Beginners" and "Search Strategy."

a) "Historical Background" provides historical events that may have affected your family and the type of records they may have created. Click on the "Description of this time period" link located in the top of the column at the far left.

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b) "For Beginners" provides links for the beginning genealogist. Be sure to view what is available under "Arkansas Statewide Indexes and Collections" as you will be surprised at the information and other research sites listed by year range. Under "Name Variations in United States Indexes and Records" you'll find hints for American surnames, name and word spelling variation examples, hints for using the middle name search, vowels, double letters, common transposed and misread letters, etc. This section is not only for the "beginning" researcher!

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c) "Search Strategy" gives even more tips and hints to further your research, how to obtain records and how to analyze the information that you do locate.

All information from the FamilySearch.org website is owned and operated by the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Some Useful Tools for a Genealogy Research Trip

By Duncan Tanner

On my trip to Florida, Berkshire County, Massachusetts last year I used a few tools and techniques to aid the collection of information. The three major tools taken on the trip were a digital voice recorder, a digital camera, and a laptop computer. Kay Speaks first showed the voice recorder at a Study Group meeting.

Digital Audio Recorder

The recorder was an Olympic WS-100 digital recorder. A photo is shown in Figure 1. The recorder is 3.7 inches long, 1.57 inches wide and 0.59 inch deep and weighs 1.9 ounces. It is easily carried in a pocket or purse. It also comes with a neck strap.

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Figure 1 – WS-100

It is powered by one AAA battery that lasts about 13 hours. The recorder will store about 4.3 hours of audio in the highest quality mode (that I use) and about 27 hours in the lowest quality.

Internally the recorder has 5 folders that can each store up to 199 files each.

The recorder contains a USB connector so it can be connected to a PC. It acts just like a small (64 MB) thumb drive. The audio files in Windows Media Audio (WMA) format can be copied to your PC for editing, playing and transcribing. Figure 2 shows the recorder separated to show the USB connector.

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Figure 2 – WS-100 Showing USB Connector

The recorder has a built-in microphone and speaker so it can be used without attachments. It has mini-jacks for earphones and an external microphone if desired.

There is an on/off switch on the back (Figure 2) and a hold switch that locks the controls. The lock can be used to disable the buttons while recording.

On the trip, the recorder was used to record conversations with the Florida town historian while he gave us a tour of the local cemeteries and talked about some of the history and ancestors. With his permission, I recorded the conversations while driving to and walking around the cemeteries. The recorder was also used to document some of the inscriptions in the cemeteries.

Each evening, the audio files were copied onto the PC. The WS-100 costs about $80.

Audio Editor and Converter Programs

The audio editor program I use is Roxio AudioCentral Audio Editor that came with Roxio Easy CD Creator 6. I also have a separate editor Audio Editor Pro V2.21 by Mightsoft Company. I have an audio converter, ImToo Audio Encoder v2.1. It will convert .wma files created by the WS-100 recorder to .mp3. (The Roxio editor would not edit .wma files). The audio editors allow you to remove extra parts, extract a section and insert comments or other information. One example is to add an introduction to the recording explaining who, what, where and when the recording was made.

Nikon E3100 Digital Camera

The camera used is a Nikon CoolPix 3100. I have had it 3.5 years. It is a 3.3 Mega pixel small camera. (Figure 3 and 4). Rather than describe all the specifications, only those features that are helpful for genealogy work will be described.

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Figure 3 – Nikon Camera Front.

The camera has a "Museum" setting that turns off the flash. This is useful in the library when making copies of books and documents.

The camera runs on 2 AA batteries. Rechargeable batteries can be used.

Camera memory is a CompactFlash (CF) card. There are two advantages to a removable memory card. First you can have several cards and delay the need to copy the pictures to a PC.

The camera came with a 16 MB CF card. That would hold 10 pictures at the maximum resolution. I replaced it with a 1 GB (1000 MB) CF card. The camera now can handle 660 pictures.

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Figure 4 – Nikon Camera Back

The camera has a view screen and an ability to view pictures. This includes a zoom. You can zoom in and see if the details of a document are clear.

The camera was used for normal photography of the town and tombstones. Where ambient light is sufficient you can photograph books and documents.

One negative about the camera is its sensitivity. It is equivalent to an ISO of 100 (Slow film). You need to hold the camera very steady when taking document pictures.

This same program has been used to patch together several images and to add source or identification information.

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Figure 5 – Florida, Massachusetts town document.
The original photo was cropped using Photo Impression 4 from ArcSoft. It came with the camera.

Sony VGN-TX650P Laptop

The laptop was chosen because of its size and weight. It weighs 3.8 pounds including the AC adapter and an external mouse. It fits nicely into a backpack that I used on the trip. Also the Sony battery has NOT been recalled.

The laptop has a DVD disk read/write drive so both DVD and CDs can be burned for backup. It has a network connector, WiFi and dialup modem for connection to the Internet by any method available. 60 GB of disk storage is more than enough.

The one negative about the laptop is the keyboard. It is tight and the keys are flat and it does not have a separate keypad.

Other Tools and Techniques

A scanner is very handy for making electronic copies of documents. If the document or newspaper article is too large for the scanner, you can do multiple scans and use the photo editing software to paste the parts together in the same way it would be done with paper clippings.

The scanner is helpful when you need a picture of a camera for use in a Roots Tracer article!

Screen Capture

Another useful tool is called ScreenPrint32 from www.provtech.co.uk/software/screenprint32.asp. The program is free.

Once installed, it works with the "Print Screen" function key on PCs. If you have something on the screen that you wish to capture, press the Print Screen key and then select the part of the screen you wish to capture with the left mouse button and save it by pressing the right mouse button. The image is saved as a .jpg file with a unique file name that includes the date and time. The file can be renamed to describe its contents.

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What to do on a cold winter's day or night?

Volunteer for a Genealogy Transcription or Indexing Project!

By Kay Speaks, L-AGS Study Group

We've all benefited from those good souls who have indexed or transcribed genealogy database information. Remember when you thought, "Thank goodness I don't have to start my research from scratch!" It was most likely volunteers who did the legwork for that database or website that you love to use.

There are always plenty of transcription or indexing projects looking for volunteers. There are those projects Dick Finn, David Abrahams, Sandy Clark, and other L-AGS members spearhead in which you typically go to a library or museum to help index microfilm. L-AGS has a well-deserved reputation in the genealogy community for all the wonderful databases created to help genealogists and family historians.

But what about those L-AGS members who can't drive to the library? There are projects that you can work online from home. Just think how wonderful it would be if one of your ancestors were to inherit your genealogy passion and one day use a database you have personally help to create! Just imagine a grandson or great-granddaughter looking through a database and finding your name listed as a contributor. There is a feeling of great achievement when you volunteer, as you are helping to preserve information that otherwise might not be available in future years.

You might consider volunteering for one of the L-AGS projects. Please contact President Anne Homan if you want to discuss the possibilities.

Here are a few ideas for ongoing online projects looking for volunteers:

1940 Street Transcription Project. Dr. Stephen Morse, http://www.stevemorse.org of the One-Step genealogy website, and Joel Weintraub, San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogy Society, are creating a database of 1940 street transcriptions in preparation for the 1940 census release on April 1, 2012. Information about this project can be found at:
New York City Death Records. Volunteers of the Genealogy Federation of Long Island have created a searchable index for NYC deaths. With the help of the German Genealogy Group, volunteers have completed the first and second phase of this project. For more information, go to:
FamilySearch Indexing. This digitizing project will eventually allow the images of 2.4 million rolls of microfilm to not only be placed online but also indexed to allow almost instant access. The project will take from 5 to 15 years to complete. You don't have to be a member of the LDS church to be an indexing volunteer. To read more about the indexing project and the redesign of the FamilySearch website, go to:


To register as a volunteer, go to:


To see what has already been indexed, go to:


To see upcoming indexing projects, go to:


To see a slide show on how the new FamilySearch software works, go to:


and click on the link "A Sneak Peak at the Near Future." I've seen this software in a demo and it was pretty impressive and easy to use. The FamilySearch Indexing Project will reassign a project if you don't complete your assigned project in a timely manner. Be certain you read how long you have to complete your assigned digitized images.

RootsWeb's Pensions Project. This project advertises you can work online from your home wearing pj's if you wish. Microfilm has been scanned and is available for indexing for Florida, Georgia, Republic of Texas, and Virginia. To find out more about this project, go to:


Or, you could volunteer to work on the US GenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project:


Another volunteer project to photograph tombstones in Alameda County is at:


Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness has an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page about their project at:


Basically, if you have an area of interest there is usually a project going on that could use a volunteer.

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"We're All in Our Places, with Bright Shiny Faces"

By Gary Drummond

Last October I spent some time in the Midwest looking for information about my mother's family. One of my stops was at Mt. Pulaski, Illinois. My mother's great-grandfather, Alexander Rigdon, had come from Kentucky in 1838 to settle on a 40-acre parcel a mile west of the town. Here he raised a family of six children, four sons and two daughters.

Alexander's oldest son, John Marion Rigdon, migrated to Nebraska in 1882. His family consisted of three daughters and a son. Within a year he was dead of typhoid fever. His widow and children returned to Mt. Pulaski. The oldest child of this generation was Annetta Rigdon who, at age 16, began a career as a schoolteacher. After the family's return to Illinois, she started teaching first grade in the Mt. Pulaski elementary school. She retired from teaching in the late 1920's.

I visited the Mt. Pulaski History Center and Museum, where the docent helped me with obituaries of both Anna Elizabeth Rigdon, John Marion's widow, who died in 1931, and her daughter, Annetta Rigdon, who passed away ten years later.

One of the questions I asked the docent was, "Is there anyone in town who might remember Annetta Rigdon?" She offered to inquire. Just after the New Year, I had a letter from the docent who told me she had visited with one lady, 90 years old, who remembered Miss Rigdon as her first grade teacher. She described her as small in stature and a very pleasant lady.

One thing the 90-year-old remembered was a song the class sang every morning:

"Good morning to you
Good morning to you
We're all in our places
With bright shiny faces
Oh, this is the way
To start a new day".

And my informant added, "She sang it to me several times."

Annetta Rigdon was obviously a highly esteemed member to the community. Her obituary noted: "Out of respect for Miss Rigdon, the grade school was dismissed for the afternoon in order for teachers and many students to attend the funeral."

When I related this story to one of my daughters, her response was, "Why, we sang that song when I was in kindergarten 45 years ago!"

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Question: Do you know why genealogists smile while dying?

Answer: Because they know this will be another date for their pedigree chart!

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Meet the Invisible L-AGS Postmaster

By Larry Renslow

Postmaster is, in a way, the best volunteer position that the Society has. Why? Since no one can figure out quite what I do, no one can criticize me. So, what does the postmaster do? Well, that's a secret. But, I'll let you in on the unclassified part. The postmaster maintains the L-AGS e-mail system.

I'll explain what the postmaster does by comparing e-mail with the U.S. Postal Service. Your e-mail program is like the mailbox in front of your house. You need it, but it isn't of much use without the postal service to deliver and pick up mail. Similarly, your e-mail program needs a mail system to deliver mail to it and to pick up mail from it.

Why does L-AGS have its own e-mail system? Internet service providers provide only minimal e-mail services. They do provide additional services for a fee, but we like our L-AGS dues to be low.

All e-mail addressed to L-AGS.org is delivered by our Internet service provider (ISP) to our L-AGS account. Software in our account reads the intended recipient(s) and redirects the e-mail to that person (or persons). For example, e-mail addressed to queries@L-AGS.org is redirected to the personal e-mail inbox of the querymaster, currently Dick Finn. This hides Dick's personal e-mail address from the public in our publications. And, by the way, we wrote all the software to do this. No commercial software here. It's a lot more fun to write it than to buy it.

What services does L-AGS provide that ISPs don't? Unlimited aliases, for one. (An alias is a mailbox name. In the address president@L-AGS.org, president is an alias.) I maintain a list of aliases and assign aliases to whoever needs them. President, postmaster, study.chair are examples of aliases. Members, study.group and all discussion groups are also technically aliases, but we usually refer to them as discussion groups, forums, message boards, mailing lists, or simply as lists.

Why do we need aliases? I'll use the L-AGS president as an example. The L-AGS president needs to communicate with various people, such as presidents of genealogical societies, civic leaders, Alameda County Fair officials, and many more, including a lot of people who are members of L-AGS. If we didn't have the alias president@ L-AGS.org, every time we held an election a whole lot of address books would be out of date and useless for contacting our president and other officers. If you make it hard for people to contact you, sometimes they won't.

Another service of the L-AGS e-mail system is unlimited e-mail mailing lists. ISPs usually charge a monthly fee for each list they maintain. The Diamond Lane, the company that provides our L-AGS account free as a public service, charges $5 a month for each list that they maintain. We maintain 16 lists, which would cost us $80 a month if The Diamond Lane were maintaining them. In addition, we have found it convenient to treat officer aliases as if they were lists, and there are 24 of those. That's $120 a month. $80 + $120 = $200 a month. This is what L-AGS would pay if our lists were maintained by The Diamond Lane. So, it really pays us to do this ourselves.

Yet another service provided by our L-AGS e-mail system is protection from viruses and spam. We've been 100% successful at trapping viruses for well over a year. Although spammers change their tactics constantly, trying to get around anything postmasters come up with to trap spam, we have trapped upwards of 95% of the spam during the last year. Virus and spam protection applies only to e-mail addressed to L-AGS.org addresses, since that's all our e-mail system sees.

It used to be that the postmaster maintained the e-mail mailing lists. No longer. We now have another enthusiastic volunteer, Susan Silva, performing excellently as List Manager. And, believe me, I'm glad to have the help.

Okay, I lied at the beginning. There are no secrets. But, no one has ever before asked exactly what I'm doing for L-AGS, so no one knew. But now the secret (such as it is) is out. You can blame George for all the boredom you've suffered while reading this piece, because he's the one who asked me what the heck I do. Or, you can thank him for getting the Invisible Postmaster out in the open.

Here's the real secret: If you enjoy writing software, postmaster is the L-AGS job you want. But, I'm not ready to give up the job yet, so practice your programming and wait for your chance!

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Weekly Newspapers — Chronicles of Small Town America

By Harriet Anderson

Corporal Lawrence Martinson

Small town newspapers are a wonderfully rich resource for genealogists. In the days when most Americans lived in small towns and on farms, weekly newspapers specialized in printing the minute details of life among local residents. They often included long obituaries with lists of relatives, details of wedding anniversaries and who came from where bringing what gifts, and reminiscences of old settlers about pioneering days.

My father, Lawrence Martinson, grew up in New Richland, a town of less than 1000 population in Waseca County, Minnesota. Thanks to the local newspaper, we have the text of three long letters he wrote home from the Army in World War I. Although the original handwritten letters have long since disappeared, the recipients knew at the time that the editor liked that kind of material, so they brought the letters to him and he printed them.

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Dad was a true patriot all of his life. He was 19 when the U.S. declared war on April 6, 1917. He promptly joined the Army, proudly recalling that he did not wait to be drafted — he volunteered. The excerpt from the last of the three printed letters describes his experiences just before the Armistice. Although he writes calmly about it in the letter, he was deeply affected by the battles. In 1961 during a trip to Europe, we stopped at Verdun and bought him a souvenir book about the bloodbath that took place there. When we gave it to him, thinking he would be pleased, he got tears in his eyes and went into his room for a long time. We never found the book again — we have no idea what he did with it.


Letter from Corporal Lawrence Martinson printed in the New Richland Star. Gaps indicate parts omitted for brevity.

Finding the newspapers of your ancestors may not be easy. A few have been indexed — the Livermore newspapers are an outstanding example, thanks to Barbara Bunshah. Many have been microfilmed, some still exist only on paper, and some, including most of the old Pleasanton papers, no longer exist in any form. Ancestry.com has a large, indexed collection online. The Minnesota Historical Society has over 4 million old newspaper pages from that state on microfilm, available on inter-library loan. The Godfrey Library has several collections available online through its services, some at extra cost. GenWeb, Cyndi's List and Google are good places to start in searching for historical newspapers with news of your ancestors.

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Praise for the Archivists

By Lois Smith

The Franciscan Motherhouse in Salzkotten, Germany.
My grandmother and her two sisters lived in the orphanage here for a while after their mother died.

The web is a wonderful resource for genealogy research, but sometimes information is hidden away in ancient archives and can only be discovered by writing to the institutions - and getting lucky!

About a year ago, the Tracer published an article about my difficulties in finding information about my maternal grandmother, Mathilde Krause. But some real mysteries also surrounded the lives of her two sisters, Maria and Auguste. The family story was that they were nuns, and that all three girls had spent time in a Franciscan orphanage after the death of their mother. Meanwhile Mathilde had immigrated to America, and lived most of her life in Denver, Colorado.

My mother had saved letters from her family and others, which I had translated. One letter from a Sister Longina was written in 1890 from Denver. A kind Denver librarian deduced that she was a member of a Franciscan order, and gave me the address of their U.S. motherhouse in Wheaton, Illinois. The archivist there replied to my query and said they had no record of Auguste or Maria Krause ever being in their order. She gave me the address of the orphanage in Salzkotten, Germany, where the three girls had lived. They too said they had no nuns of that name either, but they did give me the name of the new archivist back in Wheaton.

This archivist gave me a lot more information about Sister Longina and the Denver establishment, but confirmed that she was not related to my grandmother. The archivist was very willing to help, however. Meanwhile I had the ten letters from Sister Maria Seraphine translated. She wrote to Mathilde between 1909 and 1915, with lots of information about the family in Germany, and informed Mathilde about the death of their sister, Sister Maria Angela. I was able to discover that the words after Sister M. Seraphine's signatures, "unserer liebe frau," meant Sisters of Notre Dame. Ah, ha!

Since the Wheaton archivist had offered her help, I wrote her with this new information. She sent me the name and address of the Provincial Superior of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Germany. This broke the information dam!

In two weeks I had a reply. The Provincial Superior realized from some of the place-names I mentioned that the nuns were probably from the other Sisters of Notre Dame (not the school ones). She asked her archivist to contact their archivist, who sent back to her a wealth of information. The Provincial Superior then forwarded it to me.

This included the religious and birth names of both nuns, all relevant dates (birth, death, and religious), and the short biographies from their death notices. But most intriguing was a four-page biography – from somewhere in their records – of Sister Maria Angelina, nee Auguste. This told her life story: the death of the girls' mother (my great grandmother), their life with "Tante Engel," how Auguste decided to enter the convent in spite of the fact that she was engaged, the exciting struggle to get out of the engagement, and her life in the convent. This was a truly delightful and upbeat tale, and gave me lots of information about the family.

From this I was able to do further research and find out where and when their mother died, and that they were indeed in the Franciscan orphanage for a while. But the best thing was a sense of their lives in Germany in the late 19th century.

So, many thanks to the archivists!

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New in the Pleasanton Genealogy Library

By Judy Person

I want to tell you about Ancestral Trails, the Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History, by Mark Herber, because census studies show more of us are descended from the British Isles than the next place, which is Germany. This book has been called the "Bible of British Genealogy." It describes all the records in every source in Britain: archives, libraries, civil and church records, and property records. The new edition (2005) includes the updates, online and CD, and all the family history societies, etc.

Military records, newspapers, courts and immigration, and Web sites are all here. The book is massive – 873 pages of 8 point type, with over 5000 entries in the index.

The book starts with the usual information for the beginner, adds all the topics you might hope for, then goes on to provide suggestions for links between sets of records. Entire seminars are spent on this subject, and Mr. Herber has provided a comprehensive permanent record for those who have made it across the Atlantic in their work. For those who have made it this far, it may well be worth acquiring this highly recommended book for your personal library, once you have seen it in our library. It is under the call number 929.1072 HERBER in our library reference collection. Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/ ) has it in paperback for $18 and up, and in hard cover for $45 and up. Be sure you order the 2005 edition.

As you may know, we have a dispensation to check out genealogy reference books overnight, but you may find that library personnel don't know about it. I'll send a note to the head of reference, Yu Tao, to ask her to remind the staff of this privilege.

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Staff meeting

Livermore Roots Tracer Staff

Managing Editor Jane Southwick
Reporters Marie Ross, Lois Barber, Kay Speaks
Compositor George Anderson
Web Editor Vicki Renz


Sandra Caulder
Staff Contributors
G.R.O.W  Frank Geasa

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22 Apr 2007, 12:40:07