Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ursa, Your Bible is Home

Ursa lived for 100 years and 4 days. In 1949 Ursa was given a bible. For 60 years the records of marriages, births and deaths were being properly recorded there. The last entry being the death of Ursa herself in January of 1999 written down by some unknown family member.

In early May of 2009 I found the bible in the lobby of a medical clinic where my wife works. In was just lying on a table. It was an older leather bound edition. Used, but in excellent shape. Nothing stays in the lobby for long. Even National Geographic get picked up and taken to better homes. Curious, I picked it up to see what version and age it might be. And there on a dedication page was the name of the giver and the recipient with a date of 1949. This was someone family bible. Wow, I love family history and this must be a personal treasure to someone. They even carried to a doctor’s office. Then must have set it down when called by in to their appointment.

Looking through it I found that there where pages between the Old and New Testament for recording family events, births, marriages, deaths and such. And there where entries. I took the bible to the receptionist and asked if she could check to see if she could check the appointments to find the person who must have left it. Then I was impressed to say if she couldn’t find the owner to let me know let or my wife know and we would take it and try and find the owner.

No one claimed it. So some 10 years and 4 months after her death, 110 years and 4 months after her birth Ursa’s family bible is sitting in a most unlikely place. And because of a prompt I find myself on a quest.

Should be easy, right? There are some 7 surnames mentioned in the entries and a newspaper clipping listing what must have been a double wedding of family members. The clipping doesn’t provide a date, city or state. Also the original presenter of the bible has his name crossed out and Ursa has her name surname altered on the presentation page. With all the surnames and dates I was expecting to do some simple web searches and come up with someone in the area and just make a couple of phone calls and deliver it to the owner.

No way. None of the names listed lived in our immediate area. Some of the surnames where found however no given name combinations matched. Since the clinic serves a community population of about a million plus the quest became a bigger challenge. After a couple of days of searching I felt since a couple of the surnames where less common I just post an inquiry on a website with some free Surname Message Boards with the hope of finding a relative of the bible owner. Apparently Ursa had been married 3 times and I was seeing that not every event got recorded in the family bible. This was becoming a more complex search.

In mid-May the summation of the bibles discovery and the 7 surnames where posted on three surname boards. The bible was placed right next to my computer expecting a response would come soon. Then I waited. Finally in early November I got my only response. And what a surprise that was.

I quote from an online reply:


“I am the great niece of Ursa _____. My great grandfather James Edgar was her brother. She was born in Pennsylvania and moved to California. I have been researching my family tree for a gift to my father for Christmas. I am hoping to find out any information that I can about his family. If you are still in possession of this Family Bible, please let me know.”

Just the type of family relation needed to get the bible to a proper place. I placed a response on the message board and tired to email this great niece of Ursa but the address was not accessible. I searched her name on various sites and could find nothing. This was her only posting on the message boards and it was like she disappeared.

Daily I kept trying different ways to find her and hoped she would email me directly at the address I’d put in the posting.

Then two day before Thanksgiving I got an email. She had been trying to reach me “. . . I am interested in the information that is in Ursa ______'s family bible. We last knew that her two sons Harold and Calvin ________ both lived in California. We do not know if they are still living. They would be in their early 90's. I am trying to find out if they have any children. . . . ”

The next afternoon the bible was on its way home to where Ursa was born in rural Pennsylvania some 2700 miles from where the bible was found. On Saturday it was there. A hundred and ten years and eleven moths after she was born Ursa’s bible was home.

I had been given a gift and actually more than one gift. One was to be involved with returning an important family document to a place it would be treasured. A second was to correspond and talk with the person who will be new keeper of this family bible and a third was most unexpected.

Taking the bible to the post office I got out of my car and started to go inside and realized I had left the address I needed on the car seat. Then while starting to walk back to the post office entrance I was carrying the bible in my hand. A lady exiting the office said, “You must be a minister, you carry a bible wherever you go.” Just another opportunity to share something important. That allowed the story of the bible to be shared with her and the reasons we know family history is so essential.

Finally there is the gift of acting on the prompting of The Spirit. The bible was meant to be found and acted upon. I was just the lucky one who picked it up.

Ursa’s great niece has already found a Family History center. It’s 45 mile from her home. I know that the people there can help her with her research and understanding of why it is so important. Just one more gift given.

I going to keep seeking details of individuals listed in the bible. I hope to find Ursa’s grave-site and send a photograph of it to her great niece. Someone whose name is in that bible wants something done. To many gifts have been given already because of its existence to stop now. For me, the quest isn’t over yet.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

PAF, PAF Insight and FamilyInsight


PAF Insight (or when updated to become FamilyInsight) is an excellent product by Ohana Software that expands PAF capabilities.

It provides easy ways to enhance usage your existing PAF files It does not replace PAF but works in tandem with it to produce expanded possibilities of organizing and searching online much easier.
PAF Insight offers powerful tools to organize, review and improve your PAF record base. Some examples of the tools included are:
• Search IGI (International Genealogical Index)
• See compare and update data in you PAF file
• Add as new individual or merge duplicate records
View Pedigrees and correct alter pedigrees
• Assign RIN's as needed
• Sort and view your PAF records by categories (All records, Incomplete Records, Ordinances Needed, etc.). Specifically select items to update with each record reviewed
• Compare ad Synchronize Two PAF Databases. Highlights differences and empty data fields with color to make process easier.
• Merge PAF files• Import GEDCOM files. You can "trim" or cull out unnecessary family trees that are duplications or not wanted in the file you are working on.
It may be just the tool you need to make your Family History work easier.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

PAF (Personal Ancestral File), GEDCOMs and You

A common question might be,"I've got a program already so why get and use PAF (Personal Ancestral File)?"
  1. It is free. It is pretty powerful too. It gets the basics done for recording information and support resources. You can supplement it with the free PAF Companion for charts and other output in color.
  2. If your are just starting to keep records on the computer the format used helps you to understand the process of recording individual data and the support documentation. There are enough user groups, family history centers and individual who already use it so there is a huge pool of experienced and willing users to help you get started correctly.
  3. It allows standard, easy data and file transfer with other researches. This can be done either by a copy of the PAF file (.paf) or by a GEDCOM file (the acronym for GEnealogical Data COMmunication file)*. The PAF program was the first widely distributed and used software for Family Research efforts. It may still be the most common one in existence. Most individuals who have upgraded to more expansive commercial software still have a copy of the current PAF on their computer. (It is just handy to have around).
  4. PAF will be the basis for creating and keeping records to interface with upcoming version of FamilySearch (now being developed in and tested as newFamilySearch). For those who are doing and keeping records for Latter Day Saint Temple work using PAF and a commercial add-on package will become extremely important to help merge and submit file information directly from home.

There will be a need of some commercial programs to accomplish the data integration process between PAF and FamilySearch. Whenever you shop for an add-on package to use with PAF be sure it is FamilySearch Certified so it will work with future developments in the on-line FamilySearch environment.

Many commercial companies have introduced genealogy software programs that normally can work with PAF and GEDCOM files, plus they offer additional features that PAF does not have. The variety of features, functions and enhancement is great so choose carefully before you commit to buying. Talk to users whose research habits are similar to yours. Look for free trial offers to do a test run. Once bought you may be living with it for a while. Invest wisely. Just be sure of it is a FamilySearch Certified product. Something inexpensive like the upcoming FamilyInsght may be a choice to consider.

The continued goal is to make the process of family research easier and more fun without avoiding the responsibility to document all entries quickly and clearly. Some say if it is not documented it is only a myth.

  • *For a brief description of what a GEDCOM file is go to https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Gedcom. For all the details go to: http://www.gedcom.net/0g/gedcom55/ where the GEDCOM Standard Release 5.5 is described in full by its creators, The Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And yes, the 1996 date is the most current version. Other updates such as the 6.0 versions or XML versions have not yet been defined and agreed on by the gemological community.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Treaty of Paris (1783) American Revolutionary War

A lot of our current research is in family lines in existence before and at the time of the War of Independence. All the real relocation of families into new and expanding areas took place after the completion of the conflict. We often have to remind ourselves that this begins really some 7 plus years after what we celebrate as our Independence day that real opportunity took place.

The conclusion was the Treaty of Paris that was signed at the Hôtel de York in Paris on September 3, 1783, 7 years, 1 month and 30 days after the official date of the Declaration of Independence. Even then it took another 7 months until on April 9, 1784 ratification process was complete between all the parties. See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Paris_%281783%29 & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolutionary_War for a start on details on the war and the treaty.

Using the 1783 treaty date as a baseline you begin to see how quickly expansion and changes took place. We saw our own family movement into new areas as happening very fast following the completion of the conflict. Within 3 years (1786) the Rountree’s had been grated property in Carolina and the Munday’s in Ohio based on their service during the war. From there the property trading and resettlement that took place once move rapidly.


We suggest you re-look at your particular heritage with new baseline dates. You may see your ancestors’ activity with a new prospective and appreciation for their creation of a new country. Also you may find greater warmth for the French without whom we most likely would not have won the conflict.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Munday related Surnames

These are a few of the surnames that we are interested in for research on the Munday family line. If you have any common linage links we would be glad to hear from you directly.
Primary Surnames:
BILOVA-TETKALOVA, BRAUNER, CERMOKAOVA, FIALOVA, GOODRICK, HARVEY, HORSMAN, JERDE, JOHNSON, KREJCI, MATOUSEK, MATTOCKS, MILLER, MUNDAY, NOVOYNO-MACHATY, PALEK, PETRU, PRIBIL, PRIBYL, PROCHASKA, PROCHAZKOVA, SHEID, SINCLAIR, STEELE, THOMPSON, VAVERKA, WARD and WYNKOOP

Rountree related Surnames

These are a few of the surnames that we are interested in for research on the Rountree family line. If you have any common linage links we would be glad to hear from you directly.
Primary Surnames:
ARENDT, BARTH, BOYD, CATOR, COMMES, COVELLI, DION, DOSSETT, EHLY, FINCH, FINNEY, FIX, GARTNER, GASTALDI, HEIZ, HRONISH, JASMANN, JURGENS, KELLY, KIRKPATRICK, KRANTZ, LARSON, MAGELKY, NORSTRUM, OSBORNE, ROUNTREE, ROUNDTREE, ROWANTREE, SCHAFF, STONE, WILSON, WOOD and ZURFLUH

Friday, July 18, 2008

Family History, Resources and Documentation

Family history research is both fun and challenging. It is a real live investigation of people you share your DNA with. Way better that a T.V. drama or novel or P.O.P 'news' article.
Our family had done some research many years ago and there where a lot of holes unfilled. In fact, in a 100-page history written up by one of them he said, "If I didn't have a name or particulars I made one up to make it read better." Great for a novel for someone who knew Zane Grey while growing up. Not to good for source documentation.
When we started doing more serious investigating into our ancestry we discovered that the facts where more exciting than any created to fill in a story. Revolutionary War veterans, Civil War veterans, founders of frontier cities, real pioneers, friends to the famous and infamous. And that's just on this continent.
We believe every family has stories that need to be told and recorded for their posterity to include the tales that where less talked about. You know, the ones that your parents and elders didn't mention when you where in the room. These stories bring your family to life so you can know who they where and enjoy the results.
But it must be real. Documentation is extremely important. Record you sources clearly. Sometimes it takes longer to record the source information that it did to find the person, but just do it.
Based on our personal experience if you don't all you have is a really good 'fish story' and something that won't be of any benefit to help you or anyone else find the missing people in your family. There are many examples, ours is believing that the maiden surname of a grandmother was Stone for more that 50 years because it was created to make the story read well. It wasn't. It is Wood, found through a chance research result after spending years looking for a relationship to a surname that wasn’t' in that line

The great part of this is that the right name was found, extensive family relationships added, and extreme elation that a mystery was solved. Just enjoy the process, the results are worth it.
Let us know if you have resouces or other things that we should add here. Especially let us know if you have common ancestry where we might share data.