Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, May 8, 2021

A Name, a Date, and a Place


Diego Homem Black Sea Map 1559

What does it take to accurately identify one individual? Let's start with this example from the Family Tree. 

Is this person adequately identified? If you look closely at this entry (you can click on the image to enlarge it), you will see that there are no sources cited. The date is a year indicating that no exact birth record has been discovered. Without a source, the accuracy of the date and place are also called into question. Where did this name come from? If we go to the family for Sarah Pain, we see the following;

Again, if you are aware of what is going on with the Family Tree, you will see some interesting things immediately. 

Just as a quick check, there are no sources for the child shown, Henry Norman, that show Henry's parents.  I could just detach these parents of Henry Norman especially, as the warning icon shows, he is supposedly born after his father's death. If we continue to look at what is actually documented in the Family Tree, we will also notice that none of the records listed for Henry Norman contain any information about his birth or death. Should I detach the record for the parents? I presently do not have any information showing that the names of the parents are wrong. For this reason, I usually leave the information attached in the Family Tree until I have more information that clarifies the record. 

Now, if we are going to adequately verify Sarah Pain, we need to do some more research. A quick check using finds 22,053 records for people with the name "Pain" or "Paine" in England within two years of 1676, the date recorded for Sarah Pain's birth. There are 1,108 records for people named Sarah Pain in the same time period. But once we add the place, the number drops dramatically to only 14 records. There is one record for Sarah Pain christened at Bury St. Edmunds in 1677. This record also has the names of both of her parents. Interestingly, this record came from FamilySearch. 

The name, date, and place all agree and are consistent with the information and sources already in FamilySearch. So I believe I can attach this record. But there is still nothing showing a child or a husband. Looking further, There are four people named "Sarah Pain" who died in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England about the same time. The dates are 1726, 1732, 1734, and 1765. None of these four records show a spouse or children. There is not enough information to decide which, if any, of these records is our Sarah Pain. However, searching on I find the following record with her parents identified. 

The only valid way of moving back one more generation is to find a source record that identifies the parents of an ancestor. 

So now, if I keep working on this line either I will find enough information to establish this generation or I will not. As long as there are no records showing births (christenings), marriages, and deaths that have consistent locations, the information here is incomplete. 

Over 26 million Australian Passenger Records on Findmypast


Quoting from an email announcement from

Did your ancestors travel to, from or around Australia? To help you uncover details of their voyage, Findmypast has merged their vast collection of Australian passenger lists into one simple search and added over 9 million new entries.

This growing collection now contains over 26 million of records from multiple sources covering all corners of Australia, including;

  • Australian National Passenger Lists 1898-1972
  • New South Wales passenger lists (assisted & unassisted)
  • 1881 British census crew and passengers on ships arriving in New South Wales
  • Queensland customs house shipping passengers and crew 1852-1885
  •  South Australia passenger lists 1847-1886
  • Passengers to South Australia on board Buffalo 1836
  • Tasmania Departures 1817-1863
  • Victoria inward passenger lists 1839-1923
  • Victoria outward passenger lists 1852-1915
  • Victoria coastal passenger lists 1852-1924

Each record includes a transcript and many also include an image of the original record. Passenger lists vary widely in size, length, and level of detail, as there was no standardised format.

Some record only a minimum of information about the passengers, while others are quite detailed. As well as revealing the dates and location of arrival and departure, many records will also reveal a variety of useful biographical details such as ages, occupations, nationalities, marital status, places of birth or residence.

I have three of my family lines that come from Australia and my ancestors were immigrants and I have been able to find some of their passenger records. These records are a great way to confirm the identity of an ancestor with a common name. 

Here is an example of one of the records for my ancestor James Parkinson.

In some cases, the records may also have copies of the original record. 


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Genealogists are not immune to scams


One of the underlying issues I have confronted over the years both as an individual and as a practicing attorney has been the constant background of fraud both in-person and online. Fraud is commonly defined as wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain. One type of fraud has been a part of genealogy since ancient times and that is the promotion of false pedigrees. But recently, many of us constantly suffer from the bombardment of our lives with fraudulent claims through email, robot telephone calls, and regular paper mail. 

If you have a cell phone, then robocalls or random calls trying to promote false claims are a part of your life. The most common one I get recently tries to sell me a warranty on my car. The caller claims that my warranty is about to expire which is interesting because I owned the same car for the past ten years and the warranty ran out long ago. I recently bought a brand new car and I am still getting the calls about my expired warranty. 

One email I got recently, claimed that I had been automatically charged over $200 to "renew" my subscription to a virus protection program called "Norton." There actually is a Norton program but the pricing does not approach the $200 figure claimed in the email. The email came with no official-looking logos, misspelled words, and very poor formatting. 

Of course, you can report scams and frauds to the Federal government and to some state agencies but with the proliferation of robocalls, email, and regular mail scams even the governments cannot keep up. Here are a few fairly easy ways to minimize the impact of this tidal wave of scams. 

The first rule is don't go paranoid. They aren't out to get just you, they are out to get everybody. If you receive any kind of offer, warning, award, plea for help, or anything that doesn't seem to make any sense, just delete it. Don't even think about it, just delete it. This includes throwing it away if it came by paper mail. 

If you get a solicitation for some kind of charity, DO NOT RESPOND until you check the charity out using the website. Then go directly to the website and review the entire program BEFORE YOU SEND ANY MONEY.

One of the most common scams involves a practice called phishing. All they want is for you to respond by clicking on the link they send to you. This will automatically put you on the "suckers" list and you will be inundated by additional scams. Do not open an email that you cannot identify in advance. If you do happen to open the email, immediately close it and delete it. 

Almost all the "junk email" I get is actually a scam. Some unsolicited emails involve legitimate advertising but if you get an email like this one, it is a scam. 

CONGRATULATIONS! You are the lucky online winner of a brand new Sweepstakes Macbook Pro entry!

In fact, it is a phishing email and there is no prize and you will be asked to send in an amount for shipping or insurance or whatever and you will never receive the product. If your first thought is this is too good to be true, then it is a scam. 

Let me go back to the calls about automobile warranties. If you own a car, think for a moment. How old is your car? Did you buy the car new or used? Did you purchase a warranty or extended warranty at the time of your initial purchase? If so, do you still know the length of the warranty? How much is your car really worth? You can quickly check the value of your car by going to the Kelly Blue Book or Most people vastly overestimate the value of their cars. But you also need to remember, if you obtain the value of your car from one of these online services, you will probably get a lot of junk email offering to buy your car or offering to sell you a new one. Now, depending on the actual value of your car, what are you willing to pay every month or year for insurance? Most cars are still drivable and safe even after their value has essentially dropped to a very low amount. 

If you do get sucked into a scam, swallow your pride and report the details to the State or Federal government in your area. Try not to be scammed again. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Free Online Presentations from the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group (UVTAGG)


I have been an active member of the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group or UVTAGG for many years. This is likely one of the oldest computer-oriented genealogy organizations still active in the world. It began as the Utah Valley PAF Users Group and has a presentation library that goes back to 1991. 

The UVTAGG meets monthly and during the pandemic has been meeting online. This month's meeting is as follows:

UVTAGG Meeting (Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group) Saturday, 08 May 2021, 10:00am-Noon MDT - Free online on Facebook and Zoom



DESCRIPTION:  The Family History Guide can be likened to an iceberg - most of it may not be obvious at first glance. There are menus, pictures and instructions, but when you take time to explore the website you will find thousands of articles and videos to expand your research skills, for yourself or to help others as a Consultant. Whether you need to learn new skills or need an idea of where to look next, or you have someone who needs help with research in Albania or any other location, learn how and why The Family History Guide should be your "go-to" site. Ann Tanner and her husband, James Tanner, teach family history classes and webinars at the BYU Family History Library in Provo, Utah. They lived in Arizona for many years before moving to Provo. They recently returned from a Family History Mission to Maryland where they were microfilming old records from the Maryland State Archives for FamilySearch.

For more details see the UVTAGG webpage -- These presentations can be viewed by anyone on Facebook by going to the UVTAGG Facebook Page. Members of UVTAGG can watch on Zoom, which is more interactive, by going to and waiting while your UVTAGG membership is verified. The broadcasts will be online only due to the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. Many of the presentations and classes for the past couple of months are on Facebook for anyone to watch. We hope to be able to start in-person meetings, as well as on Zoom and Facebook, within the next few months.