Friday, January 29, 2016

Family Search Web Site

As genealogists, we are all familiar with the web site and it's sister site, Ancestry Library Edition.  Their TV commercials tell us to just click on the little leaf. Or if you are not familiar with it, be sure to come to the Medina Library's Genealogy Lock-In on April 22nd when Lisa Rienerth will be teaching a class on it.

Today, I want to talk about the other premiere genealogy web site. The  FREE  one!

When working with library members, Lisa and I use this site just as much as we do Ancestry. Most often, we have them both open on the computer screen.

What is it?
It is a FREE web site sponsored by the Church of Latter-day Saints - LDS  (Mormon Church). Because of their religious beliefs the LDS have been microfilming vital records from around the world for over 50 years. More recently, they have been digitizing and indexing those records. The FamilySearch web site is the result. And its FREE!

How do you access it?

All you need is internet access. Just go to  You can start researching immediately. To view some of the records, you will need to register. Registration is free. Just click the "Free Account" button. You will will need a valid email account to create a user name and a password.

The FamilySearch home page. The pictures change frequently, keeping the page looking fresh.

How do you use it?
Above is the homepage. Across the top are tabs for different parts of the site. You can upload your family tree on the Family Tree tab,  upload family photos, stories, videos etc on the Memories tab, execute different searches on the Search tab or help them with their ongoing work to index the records on the Indexing tab.

Across the bottom are icons for more functions, if you have uploaded your family tree, photos, etc.. If you have uploaded your family tree, you can display a Fan Chart. Next is a link to family photos stories etc under the Photos icon, then a place for viewing or printing a Family Tree. The next icon will take you to the basic search for the indexed records (more about this later). And lastly, if you have uploaded your family information, you can create a Family Booklet.

Today, we are just going to focus on the Search functions of the site. 

Click on the Search tab across the top, OR the Search icon below the picture. Either will take you to the:  Basic Search page.

The basic search page
The tabs from the home page are still there so you can quickly access them.
The next line contains the tabs for the different kinds of searches you can do.
We will be focusing on the Records, Genealogies and Wiki. Next week we will cover the Catalog search function.

First, let's take a quick look at the Wiki tab. This is where all of FamilySearch's tutorials are.
Now, I am a strong believer that if a site is well designed, you don't need a lot of tutorials to get you started. And this is a well-designed site. 

But it also has a lot going on. And the Wiki tab is more than how to use the site. It is how to do genealogy research! So if  you are new to genealogy, new to the FamilySearch site or have come across a new location, or a new record that you want to know more about, go to FamilySearch's Wiki page. Like Wikipedia, the information is input by volunteers.

Next, we will take a quick look at the Genealogies tab. LDS members have been sharing their family research with other members for years. They first made this research available through the IGI, International Genealogical Index. My first exposure to the IGI was on microfiche cards. This was an earlier, not-Internet-based way of gaining access to the records the LDS was microfilming as well as the genealogies its members were sharing.

Notice the Genealogies Search page is more streamlined than the basic search page. And it has the ability to
search by the ID of the person who submitted the family information.
Use this area cautiously, as you would any information that is submitted by an unknown user. Not everyone does their research thoroughly or well. And even the best researcher can make mistakes. If you find useful information when searching other people's genealogies, look to see if they include the source of the information. If they don't, be certain to verify it in reputable resources before adding it to your tree. If the search function doesn't find any matching information to your query in the genealogies area, it will bounce your request over to the Historical Records search.

Records Search
This is where the good stuff is, and probably where you have already been playing around while reading my blog. I know I would be!

You'll notice that the page is divided into three sections: Search Historical Records, Research by Location and Find a Collection. I have never found the Find  a Collection search useful because you have to type in the title of the collection exactly. But you can Browse all published collections to see what they have on a particular area. More on that later.

Let's Search Historical Records:
  • Enter your ancestor's name
  • Include some information that you know is factual. 
    • If you know when and where he/she died, click on the blue "Death" link and fill the information on the form.
    • Click the Search button or hit the Enter key
    • You can browse through the returned entries on the right.
  • Note the kind of information the results show:      
Excerpt from Search Results

  • At the top it tells you how many results you have
  • Under the individual's name is the name of the resource for the record
  • The event's dates and places are next.
  • Any relationships revealed in the record are listed next.
  • A detail icon/link is next.
  • Next in this example is a camera icon that tells you there is an image of the record. In the example above, clicking on the camera will take you to the Findagrave entry for his death information. 
  • As always, evaluate the information. What is the source? Is it a primary or secondary source? Do they give corroborating evidence? (HINT: the "parents" information on Joshua Johnson's Findagrave listing is wrong. I have not been able to convince the submitter to correct the information.)
THAT is your basic search.  Now let's tweak it.
Across the top of the search results are two tabs. The first, labeled Records, is the default. That is what we have been looking at. Now click on the Collections tab. This breaks down the search results into the type of the Records:
  • Birth Marriage & Death
  • Census & Lists
  • Migration & Naturalization
  • Military
Under each of these headings are the Titles of the resources. It only shows the top five titles. Just click on the Show All link to see all the titles. This is a quick way to narrow down your search results to the particular type of information that you are looking for. In this case, I found Joshua Jonston's (Johnson's) enlistment for the War of 1812.

You could spend hours and hours just browsing and tweaking your searches in the Basic Search of Historical Indexed records.  But you could be missing out on a lot of good information that is available in the Unindexed Records.

The FamilySearch staff is digitizing the microfilmed records faster than they can be indexed. But they put the digitized images on the site under the Unindexed Records portion of the site.

My favorite way of accessing these records is using the map on the basic search page. It is under "Research by Location"

To use:
  • To use the map, click on the country you are interested in. 
  • For Europe, just click on the part of the map that represents Europe. 
  • A drop down menu will pop up. 
  • Choose your location by name
  • What appears first are the indexed records. You've already searched those, so scroll down to the Image Only Records.
Unindexed Ohio Records

  • Note what records they have. Choose the records you are interested in. They will not have every record that you want them to.
  • Once you choose the record group, you will click on "Browse through  1234??? images"
  • Is the record group subdivided by a smaller denomination? This won't be the case for all records.
    •  For example, when I chose Ohio Probate Records 1789-1996, it was subdivided by counties.
    • Choose the county.
    • Look for an index.
    • If there is no index, you will need to browse the records.
Harrison County, Ohio Probate Records that have been microfilmed, but not indexed.
Notice there is NOT a general index to these records
By browsing the wills for the time period that William Johnson died in Harrison County, I found his will listed in Volume C page 77.

Excerpt from William Johnson's will, purported father of Joshua Johnson as listed on the Findagrave site. Notice the names of his heirs. No Joshua Johnson listed, even though Joshua lived until 1858.
This was a very quick tutorial on using the web site. Be sure to use the Wiki to explore many other functions available on the site.

And come back next week when....       

Next week, we will explore searching the catalog and ordering microfilm from the FamilySearch website.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lee Cavin

Lee Cavin died last week.

How many of you knew who he was?

I knew his name from his books, There Were GIANTS on the Earth  (about the Giants of Seville, Martin VanBuren and Anna Bates) and 1816-1966: A Book About Seville.


But as so often happens when reading someone's obituary, I found out there was a lot more to the man than two small books.

Here is a list of the things I DID NOT KNOW about Lee Cavin:

  1. His given name was Lemoine. I am glad he chose to go by Lee.
  2. He was born in Green Camp, Ohio. This is a small village near where I grew up in Marion County.
  3. He served in the Army as an X-Ray technician during World War II.
  4. He went to Ohio University and earned a degree in Journalism.
  5. He was the publisher and the editor of the Seville Chronicle from 1948-1974.
  6. He was very instrumental in establishing a library in Seville. The library opened in November 1961.
  7. He was a fan of American Circuses.
  8. After selling the Seville Chronicle and moving near Loudonville, he continued writing.
Those are the facts as gleaned from his obituary.

Here are some other things about Lee:

He always had a wiry build as pointed out to me by Shirley McDougal (one time Seville Librarian), and as shown in these photos:

1974 Medina Gazette Photo

1940 Ohio University Yearbook Photo

He was funny, as seen in this article:
Seville Chronicle article on the weather in Seville, let the residents know
that cloudy skies were back

He was a modest man. When he penned the Book About Seville only a single paragraph tells of his founding, editing and publishing the Seville Chronicle newspaper.

Being modest didn't hamper his ability to share his opinions freely in his weekly editorials. A month's worth of editorials included one apology for any hurt feelings.

He contributed a lot to the Village of Seville and they showed their appreciation when he sold the Chronicle and moved to Loudonville.

Seville Chronicle photo showing Lee receiving the
Lee and Gene Calvin Appreciation
Day, January 28, 1974

Seville Chronicle February 1, 1974.

Probably the longest lasting project that the Cavins worked on is the Seville Community Library.


  • March 1961 the Friends of the Seville Library was incorporated with the purpose of "establishing, building, furnishing, maintaining and conducting of a public library in the Village of Seville, Ohio thus fostering scholarship and citizenship in the community..." Lee was the president.
  • May 1961, ground is broken for the new library in Hosmer Park which the village donated for use as a library. The local Lions Club had raised $5,000 and architectural plans were drawn up. Lee Cavin was one of the Library Trustees.
  • June 1961, the library walls were going up. Lee Cavin headed the library committee of the Lions Club. Volunteers conducted a door-to-door drive to raise the rest of the money needed for construction. Much of the labor was volunteer. The county library budgeted to upkeep the building and for the librarians salary.
  • September 1961, donated books were solicited to fill the shelves at the library. The Ohio State Library Board sent 1,000 pounds of books.
  • October 1961, Library staffing and hours are set.
  • November 1961, 9 months after starting, the Seville Community Library opened.
  • Upon completion, the building was given to Seville, who in turn gave it to the Medina Library Board for library use.
  • Lee Cavin wrote a glowing editorial urging everyone in Seville to visit "their library!"

Until the Medina County Library pitched in, Lee bragged
that the Seville Library was totally a Seville enterprise!

Seville Community Library November 1974

Seville Library today

Lee and his wife, Gene, took up farming outside of Loudonville, worked on another paper, and wrote more books.

Both gone now, they will always be remembered for their many contributions to the Seville Community and most particularly, The Seville Community Library.

Well done Lee. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016 Genealogy Resolution Continued

So, I didn't really talk about my GENEALOGY resolution for 2016, and I do have one!

My MASON family.

I have neglected this family line for decades because, well, it is difficult!

#1 - It is a common surname. But hey! I have SMITHs, JOHNSONs and WILLIAMs, the top 3 most common surnames in the country, so that is no real deterrent.

#2 - They all named their sons, William and John. No kidding! Generation after generation of William and John Masons. But that is not that uncommon with English ancestors.

This is photo from FindAGrave of a "cemetery" in WV.

#3 -  They lived in West Virginia. Don't get me wrong! I love my West Virginia ancestors and their West Virginia Archives and History is one of my favorite web sites for birth, marriage and death records. But my ancestors seemed to have a cavalier attitude for registering such events. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't. And the terrain can be quite challenging.

 The MASONs are well researched back 4 generations, to my 2X great grandfather, William H. Mason (1860-1935), but his father, William B. Mason is where the information is incomplete and contradictory.

So to tackle this problem all the information on the family will be reviewed. ALL OF IT!
I will be looking for:
  • Incomplete information. For example, I don't know when or where William B. Mason or his wife died or were married. The most obvious sources have been checked. Less obvious sources and locations need to be investigated.
  • Contradictory information, such as two of his daughter's death certificates, list different names for their mother. Is the information on the death certificates wrong or did William have two wives? 
  • His wife's name is given as Elizabeth in the 3 censuses they appear in, but Elizabeth starts out as 12 years his junior and ends up being 19 years younger. Same woman, fudging her age, or two different women with the same first name? I have seen that happen, too!
  • Collateral lines need to be fleshed out and investigated for possible clues.
  • Was William B. Mason in the military? He would have been about 44 years old during the Civil War. West Virginia came into being during the Civil War. Which side might William have served on?
  • Did he own land? In the 1850 Census, his occupation is "overseer". The next two censuses list him as a farmer, but with little personal property. Did he own or rent?
I will probably create several spreadsheets to view all the information and identify missing and conflicting information.

Periodically, I will post updates as to how this research is going...

Want a quick laugh? Check out this list of how to "fail at family history":

New book coming to the Medina Library soon: Great Migration Directory

This book promises to list the names of all people known to have come to New England during the Great Migration period, 1620-1640. Each entry provides the name of the head of household, English or European origin (if known), date of migration, principal residences in New England, and the best available sources of information for the subject. This book will be shelved in the Franklin Sylvester Room in the very near future!

Robert Hyde has generously donated 3 scrapbooks on the Medina High School Class of 1950 Reunions. These are already shelved in the Franklin Sylvester Room above the yearbooks.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Genealogy New Year's Resolutions!


The New Year is a time of looking back as well as forward. Before I share my Genealogy New Year's Resolution for 2016, let's take a look at what my resolution was for 2015.

I resolved to finish my lineage society application for the The Society of Civil War Families of Gallia County. And to forgive myself for not completing it in 2014, when I first made that resolution.

Certificate & pin for the Society of Civil War Families of
Gallia County.
And I did it!!  I completed my application and sent it in, receiving my acceptance in April of 2015.

Yeah me!

 I also completed the application to the Ohio Genealogical Society's Society of Civil War Families of Ohio and that application was also accepted. Whew! Their criteria is a little more stringent than most and I was sweating that one!

I attended the Gallia County's Lineage Society Banquet in October, combining the trip with research. That research gave me the proof I need to apply for First Families of Gallia County and also of Ohio.

So I kept the first part of my resolution. What about the second part, the part about forgiving myself?


Mostly, I have forgotten the guilt of not keeping the resolution in 2014. It is lost in the flotsam on the ocean of my many, many good intentions that go unfulfilled. The birthday phone calls that I don't make, the condolence cards that don't get sent. The little gift to show someone appreciation for an act of kindness. These other missed opportunities weigh much more heavily on my mind than a self-imposed deadline for a lineage society application.

I will admit that I am still working on learning to forgive myself. As I remind my family and friends when they are being too hard on themselves, would you be so hard on someone else or your children, who had a momentary lapse in kindness?? Probably not.

So one of my resolutions for 2016 is to continue to work on being kinder to myself as well as to others. It is a worthwhile goal and one I hope to never give up in my lifetime.

How about you? Will you resolve to be kinder to yourself as well as others?

Next Week - Genealogy New Year's Resolution for 2016!