Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Top 10 Genealogy Programs

Gold Top 10 Winner by Sam Churchill / flickr

Randy Seaver in his blog Genea-Musing recently posted about his favorite genealogy programs. It started me thinking about those programs and web sites I most frequently use in my genealogy research. After compiling my list, I realized that my research strategies would be vastly different without my Top Ten. Some are free, some fee, some are web sites, others are software that I see as essential for my research. They are listed below in alphabetical order (after all,, I was a teacher and librarian forever).

  • Ancestry - This fee site continues to provide online access to a growing database of records that would be beyond my means to physically locate on my own. Their shaky leaf hints provide suggestions of resources, events, or individuals for me to fully research myself.
  • Digital Archives of Norway - For those of us with Norwegian ancestors, this free site is a must. In addition to census records and information on Norwegian genealogy resources, the web site contains online images of church records from across the entire country. Yes, the text is written in Norwegian, but by keeping Google Translate on and some Norwegian vocabulary cheat sheets I found on Family Search, I have been able to learn so much about the Norwegian side of my family.
  • Family Search - This free web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints provides online access to genealogy records from around the world. Some are similar to those records available through Ancestry. Other records are available only on Family Search. Some records are indexed, others must be browsed to locate information. The Family Search Research Wiki is filled with helpful hints, history and geographical information, and links to external web sites on specific counties or geographical areas.
  • Family Tree Maker - Bottom line, I would be lost without a genealogy software program, and Family Tree Maker remains my choice. It is my primary place to record everything that I learn about my family through my research. I like that I can develop new trees as I research a possible family relationship, then easily merge it into my primary tree if it is clearly a branch of my family tree. And, thanks to some new practices I started after my Genealogy Do-Over, I maintain much of my research log in the software itself.
  • Find A Grave / Billion Graves - These two, free web sites are helpful for locating cemeteries, burial locations, and photos of headstones or grave markers. Although the two sites are similar, each site maintains its own unique database. There is some duplication of names between the two sites, but using both sites greatly expands the scope of my research. I also appreciate the opportunity to gain access to Billion Graves' premium ($) resources by submitting new photos of grave markers or by transcribing information from photos of markers.
  • Fold3 - I maintain a fee subscription to Fold3 and use if frequently to search for military records, pension records, and, as a real bonus for one with many Georgia ancestors, access to old issues of The Atlanta Constitution. It has also proved helpful in locating information about the military units in which various family members have served.
  • Georgia's Virtual Vault - If you have ancestors who lived in Georgia, this is a fabulous web site. The Vault is a prime example of a state providing free access to certain digitized state records, i.e. marriage records, land purchases, confederate enlistment and pension records, maps, photos, the list goes on.
  • Google Drive - The free suite of programs has turned out to have many genealogical applications for me. I've found so many uses for Google Sheets, their spreadsheet app. Sheets lets me keep lists of materials to request for interlibrary loan, newspaper articles to locate, books to browse when I visit area university or genealogical libraries, timelines. Using Google maps, I have developed maps of family residences, ancestor farms in Norway, family migration routes, etc., all saved and accessible on Google Drive. The beauty is that all this information is available to me whenever and where I have internet access, on my smartphone, my laptop, or a library computer.
  • Hathi Trust Digital Library - HathiTrust is a partnership of academic and research libraries that provides both indexing and some full-view documents on its web site. It is similar to Google Books in providing access to numerous books that are out of copyright as well as access to a wide variety of research texts. The big plus for me is being able to have a guest account. This allows me to maintain my personal collection of go-to resources. I have a Georgia collection, a military records collection, and several others.
  • Transcript freeware - This free (for personal use) software was developed by Jacob Boerema. Basically, the software allows you to open a document pdf file or a photo into the top half of a split screen for viewing then to key your transcription of the document in the bottom half of the split screen. A previous post explains more about how you can adjust the light, font size, or contrast of the image to make the image easier to view. This is no autocorrect in Transcript, so your transcription can show the grammar, spelling, and punctuation of the document's writer. I've also found that transcribing a document often helps me pay closer attention to details that I might have overlooked were I just reading the document.
That is my list, for now, Already I can think of 10 more sites that have earned favored status for me. Now, it is your turn. What are your Top 10 sites or programs?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Slave Name Roll Project*: The Camps of Rutherford County North Carolina

"Power of Words" by Antonio Litterio,

Thomas Camp, my sixth Great Grandfather, died in 1798, leaving 10 children from his first marriage and 12 children by his second wife. Six of these younger children remained in the Rutherford County area of North Carolina for the rest of their lives . Thomas' will makes no mention of any slaves, but looking at the wills of his children who lived in Rutherford County provided some information as to how they had managed the property which had been left to them in their father's estate.

Son Crenshaw Camp, in a will written in 1808, ten years after his father's death, mentioned one slave, a Negro boy named Embro who was to be given to Crenshaw's brother George Camp.(1)

Daniel Camp, another of Thomas' sons, served as the sheriff of Rutherford County, NC in the late 1790s. In the middle of a book of will transcriptions was information concerning a slave transaction that involved Daniel. The slave Stantee had been the property of William Nevills and was described as "an african by birth nearly thirty six years of age about five feet ten, high complexion, very dark".(2) Sheriff Camp had overseen the public sale of Stantee to Lewis Beard; the auction had been held on 25 August 1795 to settle a debt of Mr. Nevills.

The will of a William Camp in this volume turned out not to be "my" William Camp. The will, however, provides information concerning several slaves who were part of the estate of another William Camp.(3) This will, proved in Rutherford County in February of 1855, mentioned the following:

  • a negro woman named Ferre to my wife Elizabeth
  • a negro boy named Wade to my wife Elizabeth, Wade to go to my son John Camp upon her death

There were several interesting records concerning Thomas Camp's son Joshua Camp.(4) The inventory of the estate provided the names of 17 slaves who were part of Joshua's estate: 

  • [men] Sandy, Major, Dick, Sam, Frank
  • [women] Liz, Judy, Harriet, [fourth woman's name was unreadable]
  • [boys and girls] Gardison, William,  Adam, Henderson, Albert, Polly, Martha, Victory.

Additional probate documents concerning Joshua Camp's estate (pages 673-674 of the same volume of records) provided further information concerning the sale of some of the slaves in October of 1853, including:

  • Frank was purchased by J T Camp [Joshua's son John T Camp, estate executor]
  • Sandy was purchased by J T Camp
  • Dick was purchased by John First
  • William was purchased by James Phillips
  • Albert was purchased by George Camp [probably Joshua's son]
  • Nancy Camp [Joshua's widow] purchased an unnamed male and female
  • Major was purchased by J O Simmons

After I wrote the first draft of this post, I was looking for other Camp family members in the 1870 census for Rutherford County, North Carolina. In my search I saw the census records of two Rutherford County residents who may well have been some of Joshua's former slaves - Frank Camp and Gardison Camp - now farmers, now free, now with their own families, their stories continuing.

Blogger Schalene Dagutis, through her blog Tangled Roots and Trees, developed the Slave Name Roll Project in 2015. This project is a means for listing the names of slaves as individual names are located through our research of wills, probate records, and property records. It gives us the opportunity to provide information so that present day descendants can make a connection to their enslaved ancestors.

(1) North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, Rutherford County, Wills 1782-1898, vol. A-F, p85, will of Crenshaw Camp; accessed on FamilySearch,

(2) North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, Rutherford County, Wills 1782-1898, vol. A-F, p44, indenture between Daniel Camp and Lewis Beard; accessed on FamilySearch,
(3) North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, Rutherford County, Wills 1782-1898, vol. A-F, p287, will of William Camp; accessed on FamilySearch,
(4) North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, Rutherford County, Estates, 1847-1854, Vol. C, p 183, estate of Joshua Camp; accessed on FamilySearch,

Friday, July 8, 2016

Step By Step : The Naturalization of Peter Peterson Myren

Recently Lisa Alzo presented a most informative webinar concerning naturalization records.(1) In the webinar Lisa covered the steps involved for an immigrant to become a naturalized American citizen, starting with the filing of a Declaration of Intent and ending with the awarding of a Certificate of Naturalization. It was particularly helpful to see actual documents, examining the information presented on each, and noting that different states had slightly different documents used for the process.

However familiar I felt I was with the naturalization process, I knew I wanted to take a new look at some of my naturalized ancestors and relatives. Using the information Lisa presented, I wanted to revisit what I already knew about my Great Grandfather, Peter Peterson Myren. I also wanted to apply some of her research tips to see if I could learn more about Peter's path to citizenship.

One strategy suggested in the webinar was to develop a timeline of events in the naturalization process. All events that I have recorded in my Family Tree Maker software appear in chronological order, but it helped to set up a smaller, separate timeline to look at only those events related to Peter's immigration, residence, and naturalization.

My timeline included the following events. From Norwegian church records, I knew that Peter had notified that church of his plan to emigrate from Noway to America in 1870.(2) Having an approximate date of departure had enabled me to locate Peter and his brother John and their arrival at the port of Quebec in late June of 1870.(3) This 1870 date was confirmed in subsequent census documents. The 1900 US census recorded Peter as arriving in the US in 1870 and having been in the country for 30 years. This 1900 census also listed Peter as being a naturalized citizen. Information in the 1910 US census recorded Peter as having immigrated in 1878, a date I consider to be a transcription error as 1870 is the date shown in all other records I have found. The US census for 1920 also listed his arrival as being in 1870 and that he was naturalized in 1890.

My timeline confirmed that Peter had followed the established sequence of events, but I also wanted to see the documents associated with his becoming an American citizen. Several years ago, I had located Peter's naturalization record through the index available online through North Dakota State University Libraries. The information provided in the index - name, county of residence (Traill), and date of naturalization (May 1890) was specific enough that I ordered a copy of the record.

The one page record had three distinct parts. First was the signed statement by two witnesses that Peter Peterson Myren had lived in the United States for five years, lived in the state of North Dakota for one year, and that he was of good moral character. The second part of the record (shown below) was Peter's signed statement that he was renouncing all allegiance to the King of Norway and Sweden.

The third part of the record was the signed statement of a judge that "Peter Peterson Myren be, and he is hereby admitted to be A CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES", the caps being straight from the printed form. Rereading this section of the document caused me to focus on the handwritten statement that "said Peter Peterson Myren [was] the same person who took out his Intention Papers in the name of Peter Peterson before the Clerk of Circuit Court Eau Claire County, Wisconsin". After all, I had recently learned that the marriage of Peter and his wife Kari took place in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, in 1880. I should not have been surprised to see that his first step toward citizenship had also started in Wisconsin. provided me with the chance to find Peter's Declaration of Intention, sometimes referred to as First Papers. Their digitized Wisconsin, County Naturalization Records, 1807-1992 are not indexed, but they are easy to browse if you know the approximate date and county in which the Declaration was filed. From the Eau Claire County records, I selected the volume of Declaration of Intention 1871-1880 as most likely to contain Peter's declaration.(4) Thankfully, this volume contained an index which listed four Peter Petersons has having filed a declaration during that time period. Of the four records, two records listed a Peter Peterson born in Norway in 1848 and immigrating to the United States in 1870; this matched what I already knew about my Great Grandfather. The other two records had dates that eliminated them as possibilities for my Peter.

Looking back at the book's index for Peterson/Pederson, I noticed a listing for a John Petterson. His declaration indicated that he was born in Norway in 1843 and immigrated to the United States in July, 1870. This matched with what I already know of Peter's older brother John, especially as these two brothers had immigrated together. John's record was on page 83 of the book. One of the possible Peter records was on page 84. Plus John (page 83) and Peter (page 84) had both made their declarations on the same day, 7 Nov 1871. It was looking as if I had found my Peter's declaration.

I spent time looking back at the second possible Peter Peterson record. This second record showed a filing date of 5 Jul 1872. The signature also provided another thing to question. The record on page 148 was signed Peder Pederson, while my Peter is more frequently listed in church, immigration, census, final naturalization record, obituary as Peter Peterson / Myren. It was enough for me to feel that the declaration signed by Peter on page 84 was that of my Great Grandfather, Peter Peterson Myren.

Using a specific timeline helped me to see how and where my Great Grandfather had followed that path to citizenship. Immigration in 1870, filing a Declaration of Intention in 1871, and appearing before the court for his second papers, his actual citizenship papers, in 1890. In twenty years, Peter had made life changing decisions that lead to his becoming an American citizen. In just over twenty years, one of his sons would follow a similar path, leaving the United States and becoming a citizen of yet another country. But that's a story for another day.

Lessons Learned:

  • Reading all the information of a record can sometimes lead you to find new information.
  • A timeline can help to clarify the sequence of events.
  • Once again, Legacy through its free webinars, added to my knowledge of research tips and resources.

(1) Alzo, Lisa. "Navigating Naturalization Records"; accessed through Legacy Family Tree Webinars (free through 13 July 2016)
(2) Oppland Parish (Lesjaskog Lesja, Norway). Minister Book no. 9 (1854-1889), Espress Expatriate 1870, p. 289, entry 2, 24 Mar 1870; accessed through Digital Archives of Norway.
(3) Passenger Lists, 1865-1922, ships manifest for Mercator; accessed through Library and Archives of Canada.
(4) Wisconsin, County Naturalization Records, 1807-1992 Eau Claire > Declarations of intention 1871-1880, various pages; accessed through

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Slave Name Roll Project* : Estate of Joseph Harrison, Jones County, Georgia

"Power of Words" by Antonio Litterio,
via Wikimedia Commons

Some documents are filled with information concerning the names, ages, and family relationships of slaves. Others, such as these few documents related to Joseph Harrison of Jones County, Georgia, provide only limited information. Perhaps the basic information available might prove helpful to others.

In his will signed in 1827, Joseph Harrison of Jones County, Georgia, mentioned only one slave.(1) This slave was a negro girl Eddy. The will stipulated that following his death, Eddy was to be given to Joseph's youngest daughter Mary Harrison.

During 1828 as part of the probate of Joseph's will, an inventory was made of all his goods and property. This inventory included a list of his slaves.(2) The inventory provided only the following information concerning these slaves. 
  • Sam, a boy age 17
  • Harry, age 18
  • Dick, age 20
  • Judah, age 15
  • Ally, age 37
  • Amy, age 9
  • Avelm, age 7
  • Mary, age 5
  • Eady, age 4
  • Eliza, age 2
Sam is the only person identified by sex. There is also no indication as to whether the Eady mentioned in the inventory is the same person named Eddy in Joseph's will.  Probate records did not include any information as to the eventual disposition of these individuals.

Blogger Schalene Dagutis, through her blog Tangled Roots and Trees, developed the Slave Name Roll Project in 2015. This project is a means for listing the names of slaves as individual names are located through our research of wills, probate records, and property records. It gives us the opportunity to provide information so that present day descendants can make a connection to their enslaved ancestors.

(1) Georgia, Probate Records, 1742-1990, Jones County Wills 1809-1864 vol A-D, p 167-168, will of Joseph Harrison; accessed through
(2) Georgia, Probate Records, 1742-1990, Jones County Inventories and Appraisements 1826-1838 vol F-G, p 189-190, estate of Joseph Harrison; accessed through