Saturday, 31 December 2011

Indexing at FamilySearch

I only recently got involved with indexing at, and was pleasantly surprised at just how easy it is.  You can do as much or as little as you can - and who can't do one page per day, even if (like me) you have a hectic day job and your spare time is already crowded? Or even one page per week?

At the moment I am indexing the 1871 census, and have covered parts of London, Yorkshire, and Lancashire.  Oh, and I have worked on draft cards from Hawaii, too (probably the nearest I'll ever get to Hawaii!).  And, of course, there are loads of other records, countries, and languages.  But the best bit is that you don't have to be some sort of genealogy guru with decades of experience behind you.  If you can read  your own doctor's handwriting - hey, you'll probably be one of their top indexers in no time!

It's just so easy.  People sometimes shrink back at the word 'indexing' because they don't know what it means, and so think that it's probably something incredibly technical.  Hah.  Basically, it means typing out something so that other people can read it.  It gets put into a special electronic format BY SOMEBODY ELSE.  Think of those census forms you have picked your way through, muttering evilly at the beauty of the enumerator's writing.  And then you go to a free site like FamilySearch, and there is all the information you needed to start you off on a Genealogist's Happy Dance.  And not all the enumerators had eye-watering writing.  Some of them wrote neatly and clearly.

So: you don't have to be a technical wizard, you don't have to have decades of genealogical experience behind you - you don't have to be home alone all day every day.  You can just be you - and that's wonderful.  Go to - and give back some genealogical kindness, one page at a time.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Three Genealogy Books

I am so excited!  Today I treated myself to three genealogy books - they were all downloads, so I don't have to wait for tedious weeks while they make their way through Customs.

1) The Official Unofficial Guide to Using Legacy Family Tree
by Geoff Rasmussen
I have been eying this book ever since it came out earlier this year.  When I started researching, back in the late 1970s, I began by using Personal Ancestral File, and dutifully followed it throughout its iterations.  Then I tried out Legacy and was hooked.  The Legacy I have now is the Deluxe version, with all the bells and whistles on it you can imagine.  I have tried some other software, but somehow it never measured up.  And, yes, I have the instruction manual (in pdf format).  And now here is a wonderful book (written by Geoff Rasmussen) with tips, tricks and - oh, bliss! - examples.  (That's often how I learn best: not by reading line after line of text, but by somebody showing me in pictures how to do something.)

2) The Guide to FamilySearch Online
by James Tanner
I was very accustomed to using the old FamilySearch site.  Then it was upgraded, and I am still stumbling about, discovering new things every day.  So, I thought, apart from the fact that I love to read James Tanner's writing (and so I follow his blog, Genealogy's Star) - well, I'd be doing myself a favour if I read the instruction manual and found out how to get the best out of  I can tell already that it's not as dry and dull as some instruction manuals are.  I am looking forward to delving into this one.

3) The Big Genealogy Blog Book
by Amy Coffin
I first heard about this one via a post on Karen Blackmore's Karen's Genealogy Oasis.  I read through her recommendation of this book; it was written by Amy Coffin of The We Tree Genealogy Blog. Note that if you get it from, you can download it in epub or pdf format.  However, it is also available for the Kindle - but if you do as I did and bought it from, and you also have calibre, you can convert it into the Kindle format.
I am only three-quarters of the way through it, but already I can see it has HUGE potential for unlocking my huge potential.  It offers suggestions for projects and things you may not have even thought of doing.  It includes:

Chapter 1: Why Start a Genealogy Blog?
Chapter 2: Six Blogging Myths
Chapter 3: Tips for Writing Good Blog Posts
Chapter 4: How to Get More Blog Readers
Chapter 5: How to Get More Blog Comments and Mentions
Chapter 6: Quality Control: A Blogger's Checklist
Chapter 7: Jump Start Your Genealogy Blog: 52 Ideas, 52 Weeks
Chapter 8: 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy
Chapter 9: 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History
Chapter 10: 25 Great Topics for Genealogy Society Blogs
Chapter 11: 20 Blog Topics for Professional Genealogists
and so far, the only parts which make my eyes glaze over a little are the ideas which are very US-centric.   True, Amy does occasionally tack "if you are researching outside the United States"-type phrases onto the end of a sentence, but they tend to look rather like afterthoughts.  Still, there are so many other ideas, prompts, and suggestions, that it doesn't really matter.  It's a bit like coming across an excellent recipe book which has some recipes which include peanuts to which you have an allergy.  You just ignore the recipes with peanuts.  Doesn't make the other recipes any less delicious - and delicious is how this book is proving to be.

Friday, 23 December 2011

On This Day: 23 December

Two events to celebrate today: a christening in 1865 and a wedding in 1722.

The wedding first: Michael DAMAREL and Elizabeth Jane got married in East Allington on 23 December 1722 (they are my 6 x great grandparents).  The surname is one of those which gets spelt differently as each generation moves on - and even gets spelt differently within each generation, so I have to check for DAMAREL, DAMARELL, DAMERELL, DAMERALL and any variation thereof.

The christening is of twins: Lewis Albert and Augusta Ann EDGCOMBE (another surname with all sorts of spellings!).  This christening is marked with a special set of emotions, when I looked at the dates of the other children.  Parents George and Mary Ann married in 1859, followed in 1860 with the birth of baby James Henry - who only lived some four months.  Bertha Ellen was born in 1861 - but she died of scarlet fever aged only 4.  Noah George was born in 1864, but lived for less than a year.  And the saddest thing? Little Bertha Ellen's death was registered by her grandmother, because her mother Mary Ann was seven months pregnant with the twins, and was probably not allowed to go near Bertha.

So there must have been mixed emotions at the christening of Lewis and Augusta.  Grief at the death of Bertha only three months before, hope that these two babies would live (they did, growing up to get married and have families of their own).

Here they are (they are my great-great-uncle and aunt) aged about four:

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

On This Day: 21 December

A baptism and a wedding today - in that order because they are different families.  Thomas DUNSTONE was baptised/christened on 21 December in 1752 in Rame, Cornwall - he is my 5 x great grandfather, and eventually his descendants married into the HAYWOOD line.

William EFFORD and Elizabeth ELLIOTT were married on 21 December 1802 in Kingsbridge, Devon, my 3 x great-aunt and -uncle.  I only know William's name and baptismal date, but I have discovered that Elizabeth was a schoolmistress.  I first found out about her from her father's Will (John ELLIOTT, 1748-1823), where she was left £100; according to's calculator this is worth £76,500 in today's money - a huge sum.  Her father also bequeathed her £20 for her own use: £15,300 (without the "interference" of her husband - this is the wording of the Will). The ELLIOTT family eventually married into the BALL family on my mother's side of the tree.

My question is: where did all this money go?

Monday, 19 December 2011

On This Day: 19 December

Another great-aunt, but this time she is my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-aunt.  Her name was Wilmot BASTONE, and she was christened on 19 December 1684 in Ottery St Mary, Devon.

Her parents were married in 1684; most of the babies born as the first child of a couple in my family tree also died within months.  As I know nothing about Wilmot, I wonder if she was one of them?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

On This Day: 18 December

Today is the day for great-great-aunts!

Ann BALL was christened on this day in 1838 in South Pool, Devon, and Harriet MURCH was born on this day in 1841 in Ottery St Mary, Devon.

Ann links into my Ball surname tree, and Harriet into my Haywood surname tree.

Ann was the ninth and youngest child of Jacob and Jane BALL.  Census records her as living with them, then becoming a shopkeeper and marrying Robert PATEY on 30 April 1857 and having one daughter, Clara, in 1865.

Harriet was the sixth child (and fifth daughter) of Samuel and Joanna MURCH, following in the family tradition of becoming a lacemaker, then moving to Exeter, Devon with her joiner husband, Alfred PINE.


Saturday, 17 December 2011

On This Day: 17 December

1776 - Samuel TOZER is baptised/christened in Nymet Tracey, Devon, England.  My 4 x great-uncle.

1881 - Caroline Harriet MOULE is baptised/christened in Plymouth Charles, Devon, England.  My second cousin twice removed.

Both link into the BLAGDON family line.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Advent Calendar: Fruitcake

The Christmas cake I ate as a small child was dark and rich - too rich - so one year my mum found a recipe for Boiled Cake which we used afterwards - it was still a fruitcake, but much lighter.  Incidentally, you didn't boil the cake, just the ingredients beforehand... Here is the recipe (makes a big cake for about 12):

Boiled Cake
250ml (8 fl oz) water
900g (2 lb) dried mixed fruit
225g (8 oz) caster sugar (or light muscavado sugar)
170g (6 oz) butter
230g (8 oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
2 eggs, beaten

Boil the water, dried fruit, sugar and butter for about 10 minutes.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and mixed spice into a large bowl.
Pour on the boiled mixture and stir well.
Mix in the eggs.
Pour into a lined loaf tin
Bake for 90 minutes at 150 C or Gas Mark 2
Let stand for 10 minutes

It tastes better about 24 hours after you have baked it!  Some cooks like to add elderflower cordial to the water, some use cold tea instead of the water, some add treacle.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Advent Calendar: Gifts

It was a tradition in our family to reuse boxes.  When I gave my father his first computer (a ZX81, so it shows just how long ago it was!), he was rather hurt, saying that it wasn't nice to give someone a present in a box of something they really wanted.  Then he opened the ZX81 box, to find: a ZX81...I remember that it cost me an entire week's wages, but the ecstatic look on his face was priceless.


You may NOT use the contents of this site for commercial purposes without explicit written permission from the author and blog owner. Commercial purposes includes blogs with ads and income generating features, and/or blogs or sites using feed content as a replacement for original content. Full content usage is not permitted.

You Might Also Be Interested In

Total Pageviews