Genealogy

Time to Go Ahead

My first editor taught me that there’s a time to stop editing and go to press. I know there are still bugs in the system, but hopefully I can work them out and still have much of this site online. So far, known bugs include pages not loading correctly in Internet Explorer; links and updates not working in the database which includes mostly the documents and photographs; my cemetery extracts are not loading so I had to provide an offsite url til I can figure it out; and several code errors occasionally appear on different pages. There are also some old links remaining on some of the pages that have to be deleted, but I’ll do that as I run across them. Also there are a few more photo albums that I have yet to load. But, this is a very busy season for me so I figured if I didn’t get it updated now, I’d have to wait til after the first of the year. So, please bear with me while I get the kinks worked out. I think that this new system will be so much nicer for us as a group and for me in terms of time spent updating the family tree. If you have any questions, feel free to post it to the forum. This is your site, make yourself at home and enjoy!

April

Website Update and Suggestions Requested

I’m so excited about the website update. I wish that you all could see it, but I have to keep it offline for now, because when I set it to run, the old website will be wiped clean for the new installation. Don’t worry, I’ve backed up the old stuff so nothing will be lost. Anyway, this site has A LOT of new features which will truly make this a site run by Heycuz members. Members will be able to add news, create reports that others can view, set up their own profiles (which includes a list of surnames so you can link up with others who are researching the same ancestors), upload documents, attach documents to specific people in the database, make changes, etc.
The Share the Wealth section will be integrated into the database so that it’s not a separate section any more. That way, for example, when you’re looking at the information on your ancestor, you can click on a thumbnail image of his death certificate and see it right there. As it is now you have to navigate to Share the Wealth, click on death certificates and then find his and then download it and then open it and then compare it to where you started.
There’s this really cool “reports” section. It not only shows who’s celebrating a birthday on any given day, or anniversaries, or deaths, but nearly every type of report I could think of like what branches have the most triplets, most twins, who is missing parental information, who lived for more than 200 years (obviously that shows that we need a death date), anyway, these reports will also show who was born under the sign of Sagittarius or Pices. I’m not kidding. You can also make your own pdf. reports of ancestral charts, descendant reports, etc.
Can you tell that I’m excited?
It’s so freakin cool. I’ve been working on importing all of the existing documents and adding the more recently submitted documents. And, all that is coming along nicely. Unfortunately, I had some personal stuff that got in the way. Can you believe the gall of my family? They actually want to be fed on time and have the house cleaned? And then, there’s work. ha ha.
One thing–I can’t figure out how to do, and I’m sure there’s a way, but I can’t get it to show WHO made a change under a persons information. Until I can figure it out, what I’ll need is that when someone makes a change to a date or whatever– if they could put in a note who made it and why in the notes section. The Database shows when someone’s information was changed but it doesn’t show who did it and what they changed. Maybe I’m not looking in the right place for that information, it seems like it would be there. In the meantime, I’ll have to add that to the guidelines section as soon as I figure out a better way to word it.
This is going more smoothly than I thought and so I think it shouldn’t be too long before I’m ready for the big unveil. Then, there’ll be some adjustment time when we get all of you “registered” with your passwords and “permissions”, etc. Your Yahoo username and password won’t work cause this is completely separate. People who registered will get more of an experience from the site because they can view, download, add, correct, submit photos, exchange information, etc. While non-registered visitors will only have a limited view.
So if you see a message saying ‘We’ll be back soon,’ you’ll know that I’m installing the new system.
Anyway, I need some suggestions from you guys, because it is–after all–your site. Part of the site includes a forum messaging system and I can come up with some topics on my own–like, ho hum, the rules, guidelines, and most wanted–but if any of you have an idea you’d like to see, let me know. Also if you want to be the moderator for a certain board, too, that’s fine, just let me know.
Gary, I think you were working on a project to do some mapping? I can put it in as a board subject if you’re interested. The cool thing about this site is it integrates with GPS so you can put in longitude and latitude coordinates! And, people can see exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve already found the coordinates for all the major cemeteries and loaded that onto our cemetery lists so now when you look at where a person is buried you can look at the map and get a map, satellite, or other view of the cemetery. Anyway, Gary, if you think you want to have a forum on that topic, let me know what it should be called, etc.
Some of the old topics which I am migrating to the new site include: The Past Lane (Family stories told by or about our ancestors); and Grandma’s Secret Recipes, Book Reviews, Announcements, Reunions. I think I’d also like to add a forum I call “the Kitchen Table” which would be a place where people just go to chit chat about non-genealogy stuff.
What are some forums You want? We can have surname specific forums if you like, but just know that I’m not familiar with all the research on some of the surnames, so you might have to help answer queries as a moderator.
Any other suggestions would be very much appreciated!
Can’t wait for you to see this! I’m bouncing off the walls with excitement.
Your cuz,
April
P. S. I also need to thank cousin David Brunger for his donation to Heycuz in August. It was very much appreciated. THANK YOU! David found us after reading a copy of Dennis Lampley’s “Capt. Baxter’s Artillery” and visiting Williamson County, Tennessee. He is a descendant of William Sullivan who fought under Capt. Baxter. David’s grandmother was my Great Aunt Grace. David told Dennis a great story about William Sullivan:
“When I was a child, grandma Coates [Grace Lee Zell (Sullivan) Coates] would tell us stories of “Billy” as he was known to his family. Stories he had related to his family, including my grandmother.
“One of my favorite is of how his brothers would say upon seeing him “here comes that dammed Yankee!”  Curious enough to ask why, Grandma Coates said that old Billy took the oath so that he could go home. Many other stories were told of his time in the CSA service.
“Of a sidebar note, is the fact that I enlisted in the US Army on December 10
th 1971, 109 years after Billy enlisted in the CSA. I did not know that until 6 years ago.

Dreamware

Wishin’ and Hopin’, Thinkin’ and Prayin’
Plannin’ and Schemin’ Each Night from the Start
That Won’t Get You into His Heart

The recent problems I have had with making our regularly scheduled updates to the Heycuz website has got me to thinking…Daydreaming really. Normally, it doesn’t do much good to wish. As my father used to say, “Wish in one hand and Hope in the other and see which gets fullest the quickest.” That said, perhaps there’s some programmer out there who’s looking for a “good idea” and stumbles unto this. Genealogy is a huge market these days and growing every day, so the programmer who’s into making wishes come true can make a few bucks to boot.

What if…(ripple dream visual) there was software just for Genealogy Groups like ours?

Here’s my dream of the perfect genealogy software, in no particular order:
1. The software would work on any system but powerful and robust enough to handle huge files in real time. Something like Google Calendar, where “subscribers” can add events to a group calendar and be notified when someone else has added a event. The files would be accessible from any computer or cell phone with internet access. That way, if I’m out of town without my laptop and we run into an old cemetery, etc. I can do a quick search of the database and see that Hey, My Great Grampa Fred is in there and I need a photograph. I manage to find him, take a shot with my cell camera and immediately can add it to the Great Grandpa Fred’s info. While I’m doing that I notice that I don’t have a Death Date for Great Grandma Beula and I can add it on the spot.

2. MULTIPLE USERS: This Dream Application would be created for Genealogy Groups and so it must be able to support many users at once. Multiple users could make updates in real time while others are browsing or updating other individuals.

3. CHANGES ALLOWED: Allow users to make changes to individuals or add individuals. This ability to make changes however, will be limited to registered users only. They will have an individual password and any changes they make will be attributed to them on the individual’s file. Changes would occur instantly on the individual’s file so others can see the correct information. At the same time, any visitor would be able to click on, say the changed date, and see what the previous date was. If they disagree they can either leave a note, alternative date, source info, etc.

4. ERROR CHECKING: This dream software would block known errors from being made. For example, some one wants to add a spouse to a person already in the file, but that person has written herself saying she never married that person and its a case of mistaken identity. So the member who was trying to make the change would be notified that their change was not made and why it was not made. Second, if its a highly questionable fact to be added there would be a “waiting period” until an administrator approved of a change. The administrator would be notified by email that a questionable fact needed to be approved. For instance, say someone was born in May 1842 and someone tries to add that he was a soldier in the American Revolutionary war. That would be impossible so it would be flagged as questionable. Or that someone got married at the age of three or after they died. The software would also block questionable relationships. People do not tend to marry their sisters. One specific example is Jimmy Wayne Sullivan, Jr. Several times, in sending updates, people have told me that Jimmy married his half-sister Joy Hudgins, both children of Elizabeth Hall, but by different fathers. This is not correct. The Joy that Jimmy married was Joy D. Smith, not Hudgins. It’s just a coincidence that he married a girl with the same first name and middle initial as his sister.

5. ALTERNATIVE FACTS: In cases where there’s a question of a fact, the alternative facts can be listed below the “accepted” fact with a note or icon to draw attention to the viewer that there’s a conflicting fact.

6. SOURCES: Any changes made by anyone will be sourced with information on who made the change. They should also have the ability to name their source, preferably with fields to make their reference as accurate as possible. Like Type of Source: birth certificate or book? Certificate No. or page No., etc. Then, finally the person who made the change would use a rating system as to the value of the source. If they KNOW it for a fact from personal knowledge, they would list it as a 5-star fact, if it came from a book then a 1-star fact. etc. So that viewers could see how differing facts would compare.

7. PROTECTION FOR THE LIVING: When entering new information, the submitter would be asked if the person is living. If so, information on birth and other vitals would not be viewable to the general public.

8. PHOTOGRAPHS: Ability for users to upload/download photographs or images of source documents and attach directly to the person’s page, and once the page is refreshed the photo would appear on their page.

9. DUPLICATE CHECKING AND MERGING. As a user adds people to the Heycuz or Group’s database, the software will check to see if that person already exists. If it does, it will compare the other facts, like birth date or whatever and notify them that they are attempting to add someone who might already be in the database. It will allow them to compare the alleged duplicate and if they believe the person is the same person they can select the option to merge the “new” person with the “old” person.

10. MULTIPLE NOTES: The software would allow users to add note fields to post “stories,” transcriptions of documents, or other items specific to an individual. Visitors would see a icon that there are notes available for that person and be able to view them along with who wrote them.

11. AUTOMATIC UPDATES: When a user “signs on” to the Heycuz/Group database. They will be notified that changes have been made since they last visited and give them the option of downloading the changes or waiting for another time. It will give them the number of changes and the estimated length of time it will take to update their files, taking into account the speed of their internet connection as set in their “preferences.”

12. WORKING OFFLINE: The Software would give members the option of “working offline” and uploading the changes all at once, in keeping with the duplicating checking and error checking protocol as mentioned above. It would also give them the option of withholding information for what ever reason–whether they are still working on fact-checking or are concerned with privacy–by allowing them to set a privacy or “omit from public” flag. Any ancestor flagged in an individual’s file will not be added to the Heycuz database until the user chooses to remove the flag.

13. STANDARDIZED SURNAMES: Those of us with surnames that have multiple spellings, will agree with me on this. The software’s index should be able to search for all of the possible spellings of surnames. One of my ancestor’s is a Hutchinson. Whenever I’m searching an electronic database I have to search every one of the possible spellings to see if he’s even in there. For years I couldn’t find him on census or marriage records and it all had to do with the spelling of his name. Soundex doesn’t seem to do it for certain names. I’d search for the obvious Hutcheson, Hutcherson, Hutcheson, Hutchinson, but finally when I was looking for somebody else, guess who popped up? Good ol’ great great gramps Floyd Hutchinson spelled on one census, as Floyd Hutceson. On a hunch, I noticed that he was living next to a Langdon family, so I started searching for them instead, and that helped me find him nearly almost always. That got me to thinking he must be related to the Langdon’s and after a search, I found his marriage to a Mary Langdon, his name was recorded as Alexander F. Huchason, not only a different spelling of the last name, but his first name. No wonder I couldn’t find him. The Hutchesons of Williamson County are even harder, as someone reported on a rootsweb post that one branch changed its name to King of all things. And in the case of the Kennedy, Canady, Canaday, Canida, OMG!!!! So, there should be a way that would offer a alternative name field for both a “standardized” spelling and the spelling the person used and typing the name in the index would search of the database would search for all optional spellings. Now, I have to do a any field find, which takes longer and isn’t as handy.

15. MARRIED NAME. While I’m talking about names, it’d also be great to be able to view an index sorted by married names. As it stands now, say I’m browsing in a library and see a reference to Mrs. Ethel Hudgins, I have to set up a search that finds first name and married name. It’d be SOO much handier if the index let me just show married names and then I’d just type in Hudgins, Ethel and all the possible ancestor’s would appear.

14. UNIVERSAL FIELDS. If you do a lot of switching between genealogy programs, like I do, you begin to notice that there are indeed differences which have some dire consequences. Most of this is due to the way each application handles information. In my preferred program, Reunion, I use a memo field after each fact to describe the specifics of an event or fact. Like Cause of Death, in the death event field, or who sold what to who in the Land Sale field, but Family Tree Maker uses a specific Cause of Death field and either drops my memo or merges it with the notes field so that the memo is unclear as to what it goes with. Reunion also uses a “status” marker to denote such things as died as an infant, twin, or adopted and when I import files to FTM, via gedcom, all of those markers are lost. So, I want this software to be completely universal so that the information I see on my computer is the same as what someone else sees no matter what platform they are on. People can of course add fields as needed but those fields will be viewable when I open the file too.

15. WANTED or RESEARCH CHECKLIST. When viewing the information, it should be immediately apparent that a specific fact, event, or census is needed. When a new person is entered into the data base, it will review the birth and death dates and automatically add to the checklist the years of the Census, (or military records, etc) that should be checked. That way, if someone has it already they can see that its needed and input it. Or seeing that it is already there, not to bother putting it in again. Users can also attach queries to a specific person so other’s can view it and, hopefully, solve the question. On the other side of the coin, it would also list sources that have already been checked so we don’t keep researching the same files over and over. For instance, if we already looked in Dickson County, Tennessee’s Wills and Administration and found nothing, we could let others know, or remind ourselves, so that we don’t waste time and look through it again.

16. UNIVERSAL PLACES. Most genealogy software, including Family Tree Maker and Reunion, have an automatic fill-in feature that occurs as you start to input a place into the field. This is great because everyone enters information differently and I’m a fanatic for consistency. It drives me nuts trying to figure out which Tidwell Cemetery is the correct one, though. So, there should be a pop up or another indicator when someone types Tidwell Cemetery, to come up and point out which specific Tidwell Cemetery or what ever is referred to. In the same vein, the quick fill in should be able to tell the difference in places by not giving the person inputting information the option of having a person get married or be born in a cemetery. I covered a wedding once in a cemetery as a Movie stunt but it is an unlikely venue, and it’d be nice if my Dream software could tell the difference.

17. BACKUP: The Software’s database would have an automatic mirror site/backup so that there’s no chance of losing info if one server goes down, or slowing down the whole system if it gets too busy.

18. BOARDS: Members would have access to Chat and a message center just for them so communication would be easier. They could see when another member is online, unless the person wants to remain hidden, and invite them to a chat room to tell them the great news about uncovering a lost cousin or whatever.

19. CORRESPONDENCE HISTORY. In a person’s file, any user would be able to see the emails, chats, or letters that they sent or received to that person in their copy of the family file. This would have a send note option and other correspondence. It would be only viewable between the correspondent and the viewer, unless it was “marked” as a group email at which point all members would get a copy of the same email. A specific correspondence could also be linked to any ancestor who may have been the target of the discussion. Right now, I just dump emails into my “research notes” area and it gets mixed in with other notes and isn’t easily searchable. It’d be great to have an “at a glance” look that reminded me what has already been discussed, sent or if I’m awaiting a reply.

20. COST. I understand that the programmer who designs such a Dream program would want to be paid for his hard and much appreciated work, however, groups like ours don’t have a budget. Our site has always been free, and asking people to start paying now would be difficult. So, it’d be great if we could have such a program that was based on donations.

  1. Ah, oh well. It’s just a dream, right? Well, I found software very close to that dream and am in the midst of installing it right now! I’m excited. This will mean that I others will be able to make changes and update the database without having to wait for me to do it. I haven’t even explored all the benefits this software has as I’m still working with my server to get it working. I can’t wait!

Your cuz,

April

Busy, Busy Summer

Hi Cousins,

I hope everyone had a great summer and is ready to share all their genealogical research they found! My family had a very busy summer starting with the graduation of our son from middle school in June. Since then we’ve been running around like banshees up through Thursday when he started high school. We had a practice run on Wednesday, but not on purpose. My son and I were getting everything ready and when he hit the showers, my husband asked, “Why’s Lucas in the shower?” I looked at him like he was off his rocker for not remembering it was the first day of school. He pointed to the calendar on the fridge which clearly displayed my error. We were a day early. I asked him why he didn’t say something — between getting school clothes, packing a lunch, getting all the checks for various activities, getting his hair cut, etc — didn’t he notice we were getting ready? He said it didn’t even occur to him. It would be like celebrating Christmas on the wrong day. Well, my son finally started high school. Can you believe it? It seems like it was just last week when our Heycuz group was giving me advice on how to deal with his kindergarten teacher who thought he was ADD. Big Al Turman, gave me a lot of helpful information so my son didn’t start his school career on the wrong track. Young mothers, like our cousin Stacey Givens, will shrug like I did when told it goes by fast. But it really does. 

Anyway, I welcome the start of school like a major holiday and am eager to get back to “normal.” I wasn’t able to do much research this summer, but I did get a lot of corrections and updates done. It wasn’t an easy task, as anyone who read my last “What’s New?” column knows I had some computer problems. There were over 18,000 changes and additions to the Heycuz database. Our cousin Sherry Ceallaigh, submitted a 3,500-person gedcom which included the Kelleys, Tidwells, Sullivans, Whites, Reddells, and their allied lines, along with a CD-full of photographs. Both the photographs and the ancestors have been added to Heycuz.net. We also received other additions in the form of family group sheets and reports from Charlton Queen, Carole Phillips, Dale Johnson, Ruth Dickens, Debra Buerman, Jan White, Richard Archie, Carole Dee Sullivan Emmons, Vicki Rice, Cheryl Mangrum, Mattie Bishop, Nancy Stevens, Charles and Louisa Vest, Diane Johnson, James Breece, Ida Deal, Kathy McNeil, and probably some others that I’ve forgotten over the long summer months. I also want to add special thanks to Tom Sullivan, who has been going through the heycuz database and doing major fact checking. Every month he’s been sending me CDs with thousands of updates and corrections. I really appreciate the help. 

I also want to point out that Wanda Losee submitted a report on Moses Beard that James Bradford had created as a supplement to the Friends of Oak Grove newletter. We discussed it on the list in April and I forgot to mention that it was now availble. Even though the copy she had was incomplete, it has the first generations of that family. Anyone who has the rest of the pages is encouraged to contact us. To view the report go to:

http://heycuz.net/SHARE/138-OAKGROVE/suppl/Og-MosesBeard.pdf

Also, anyone who’s a member of Ancestry.com, I wanted to note that I stumbled on a great Tennessee database. It’s called, incorrectly I think, “Tennessee Divorce and Other Records, 1800-1965.” I think its mislabeled because while it has divorces, more importantly it includes probate records, guardianships, and other court records. I was able to find images of the estate settlements for G. W. Givens, Zachariah Green, Newton McCord, Joseph Hendricks, Peter Hendricks, Jacob Lampley, Moses Lankford and others. There is also the Insanity Case for Andrew Jackson Sullivan, the law suit of Nancy and Elisha Sullivan against Jesse Benton and more. If you have access to Ancestry, check it out. If you don’t and want a look up, just post it here and one of us can look it up for you. The database is, however limited to Anderson, Carroll, Cheatham, Dickson, Franklin, Haywood, Henderson, Obion, Tipton, and Williamson counties. I hope Bedford and Sumner county get added soon!

AND, saving the biggest news for last, I want to thank Opal Hays who submitted what is left of the Family Bible of William and Artemese Green Sullivan. Most of us thought that it either didn’t exist or was destroyed. Opal said that she thought that the Bible was burned when Grandpa Gray and Minnie Belle Sullivan’s house burned down many years ago, but apparently their daughter Bonnie May Belle Sullivan Duran, (my great-great Aunt), copied down the family record about the year of 1944. The pages have been scanned and are available in Acrobat pdf format at:

http://www.heycuz.net/MAIN_files/Bible-WilliamSullivan.pdf

Well, whether you’re still soaking up the last remaining rays of summer, or ready for the genealogical hunt, remember you can always contact me with any corrections or additions and — my email server permitting — I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Love,

Your Cousin,

April

Family Photos – Arggggh!

Everyone knows that I love photographs of our ancestors. Seeing the
family resemblance in a photograph taken a hundred years ago sends
chills up my back. Once, in wondering if a branch of the family was
really mine, I stumbled across a photo of a civil war soldier and
there, as if looking me straight in the eye, was the spitting image
of my kid brother Shane. Wow. I had no doubt, we had to be related.
Recently, however, they’ve been testing my patience. The photos, not
the ancestors.
During the last couple of times I have tried exporting the Heycuz 
database into web pages, one of the photographs has caused my system 
to crash. Each time I attempted to export the files, it would go for 
15 hours and 23 minutes and right at that point, bam, everything 
would fail. I’d have to rebuild the file, another couple of hours and 
try again.
I use Reunion, a Macintosh computer application for genealogy. 
Normally, I can’t say enough about this software. I’ve used a lot of 
the different programs but Reunion stands so high above the others 
that its no question that this is the program of choice. I do keep a 
copy of Family Tree Maker installed on my son’s PC, but I’ve used it 
maybe twice this year and only to convert submitted FTM files into 
gedcoms and opening them up in Reunion.
So, I posted my problem on the Reunion Talk board hoping someone had 
similar problems and solved it, but I didn’t get one reply. Come on! 
You’re telling me I’m the only lucky one to have such a problem? So, 
I tried again and noticed that it crashed right about the point that 
it started to export the photographs. It must be a rogue photograph 
then, I assumed. So, I tried to export only the people that had 
photographs to test the theory. That was only about 6,000 files, 
compared to the 90,000+ people on heycuz. Halfway through the 15 
hours it still took to export the file–Why so long?–I realized that 
if it crashed it still wouldn’t solve the problem. Even so, I waited, 
and sure enough it got to the “exporting images” sequence and 
crashed. After rebuilding the file for the umpteenth time, I decided 
to export only a few files with photographs and see if that would 
help. This time the export went much faster, exporting 300 people, 
but it still crashed. So, I tried turning off all photos and it worked.
So, I knew it was a photo. Then, I went back and exported only 50 
people with photos. Drum roll, please….Tada! It exported with no 
problems. So, I tried 100. It went. I tried 200, it didn’t go. I 
theorized that it must be one photo and if I could just narrow it 
down to that one photo I could take it out or fix it and then solve 
the problem. So, I went through the entire database and exported 
every one, 100 people at a time. It took a week. However, it still 
didn’t solve the problem. If I exported the files in 100 increments, 
it would work every time. Unfortunately, if you do export the family 
file in 100s, the links no longer work and the result is a useless 
bunch of html pages. The good news is the photo files do export. So, 
what I ended up doing, eager to get the updates uploaded, is exported 
all the files as though there were no problem. Of course, when it 
came to the exporting images it crashed, but then I just merged all 
the photo files from my 100-people experiment into their correct 
folders and checked to make sure that the correct photos linked to 
the right people. I believe it worked. I know its a temporary fix, 
but at least I got the updates done.
After spending a week uploading all the files of course, I’m still 
left to resolve the problem. Anyone with a bit of computer knowledge, 
is probably thinking that the problem has an obvious cause. Memory. 
Well, I have twice the amount the software requirements call for. I 
have a processor that is three times the minimum speed recommended. 
The photographs are all small jpgs. Well, I did notice that there 
were a couple of .tiff formatted photos so I converted them to jpgs 
but that didn’t solve it. Besides, it had always worked before the 
last few months. The only thing that changed is of course, 
corrections, and there was a software update. Unfortunately, I can’t 
back track and use the older version of software because then it will 
no longer open my file. Since my system isn’t the most up to date I’m 
hoping that if I finally upgrade the Computer system software it will 
fix the problem. If not, at least I know that I can export the pages, 
100 people at a time, but that means I will be doing updates less 
often as it takes such a long time to update. So, if you’re wondering 
why your corrections take so long to get up on the web, now you know.
On a semi-related note: Apple recently switched its server to “The 
Cloud” and, once again, lucky me, I was one of the 1 percent of 
people who lost email service. So any one who tried to write to my 
Mac address, which is the address I use for Heycuz members, didn’t 
get through. I have other email addresses, so for the first week I 
didn’t notice it. Then, someone forwarded a note that my email was 
undeliverable and checking with Mac’s website, I found out why. It 
would take another week for Mac to get its act together and get mail 
service back. I can’t believe they could do that and still run 
commercials about how much better everything is.
Anyway, with “The Cloud” and the problems with my software, I will be 
down once again, hopefully not for too long, while I do a clean 
install of Mac OS Leopard. Wish me luck!

1940 Census, Doomsday, and April Fool’s (It’s no Joke!)

Genealogists have long sought the early release of the next census and, with the additions to the questions asked on the 1940 census, this one promises to be a doozy. That is, if your grandparents didn’t boycott it. The new questions, income and fertility for example, raised the ire of many, causing Senator Tobey of New Hampshire to lead the call for a boycott of the census. Still, I’ve been sitting on pins and needles to get my hands on it.  I believe that solving the riddle of my father’s biological father’s line lies on that census. My father’s father, Harry Brooks’s death certificate says his parents are Henry and Florence Brooks. In the 1930 census, no Henry Brooks who matches the description can be found. However there is a Harry Brooks at the correct age, the correct place, who’s living with a Florence. Problem is she has a different last name and the census taker wrote that the young Harry Brooks was her nephew, not her son. As genealogists go, we’re a pretty patient folk, calmly scouring page after page of microfilm in a blackened musty back room, ’til we finally uncover that one sentence, that one line in a ancient document that “proves” a relationship between one person and another.
Although the 1940 Census is scheduled to be released on April 1st, 2012, (no, it’s not an April Fool’s day joke), according to many the world will end on December 21st, 2012. According to a program on the History Channel: “There are prophecies and oracles from around the world that all seem to point to December 21, 2012 as doomsday.” (Luckily, some Mayan historians, say the day is actually December 23rd, but by that time I don’t know if two days will matter.) The History Channel program goes on to say, “The ancient Mayan Calendar, the medieval predictions of Merlin, the Book of Revelation and the Chinese oracle of the I Ching all point to this specific date as the end of civilization. A new technology called ‘The Web-Bot Project’ makes massive scans of the internet as a means of forecasting the future… and has turned up the same dreaded date: 2012. Skeptics point to a long history of “Failed Doomsdays”, but many oracles of doom throughout history have a disturbingly accurate track record. As the year 2012 ticks ever closer we’ll speculate if there are any reasons to believe these doomsayers.”
Even Wikipedia has set aside the date and lists all the references to that day as the end of the world. It’s list of those who indicate the end of the world — ranging from the Prophecies of Nostradamas to Richard C. Duncan’s book, “The Peak of World Oil Production…” — is too long to give here, but if you’re curious go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012
So, if the world ends on December 21st, that gives us genealogists only a short eight months to index, scan, and discover our deepest genealogical questions! I’ve downloaded the forms, which you can already get online at http://www.1940census.net. I’ve made a list of who I want to look up and where they are, because since there won’t be any index then I’ll need to look in a specific area, but all that is probably besides the point.
Now that I’ve moved to the boondocks, its not easy  to just run down to the National Archives to wait in line for the 1940 census on April 1st, 2012, which is a Saturday so even if I could get to the Archives would they have them on a Saturday? Do government workers work on Saturdays? Since I probably can’t get close to the archives any way, I’ll be one of those people who have to wait til Ancestry or whoever battles it out to get rights to index it first so that they can bring it to the general public (who’s able or willing to pay for membership on Ancestry). So,  I’m crossing my fingers that the doomsdayers are, once again as always, blowing smoke or that the Bureau will take into account that the world is ending and give us genealogists a break and release the 1940 census early. What do you say, Uncle Sam?

April

P.S. To let me know what you think, please click on the comments link below.

Netiquette

Recently, my mother included the Heycuz newsgroup in the address list in an email. An easy mistake given my email address is similar, april@heycuz.net. The problem was that the email contained a political message, favoring Democrats. The fallout from our right-leaning members was intense and she subsequently left the group, which is especially sad considering that the foundation of the heycuz database was built around the genealogy that my mother had done. My mother was wrong to have posted it, she knew the rules. But, hey, she’s my mom and knowing her personally, I knew that her heart was in the right place. However, this brought up some past issues for me. I have received a number of comments over the years from people who’ve left the group over issues that have nothing to do with genealogy but with the way they were treated. Whether imagined or not, they felt un-welcomed. I would never want someone who came to visit my home, leave feeling like that and, similarly, as the founder and moderator for what I thought was a family group, that hurts. 

Because of the way this group started, heycuz consisted mostly of non-computer people. Those who only wanted to share information and talk with distant family. Some hadn’t yet developed a tough skin for handling the occasional not-so-courteous answers or feedback. For some it was their first time using the computer so there were many times I had to explain some things that are second nature to us geeks, like how to attach a photograph to an email. Yet because we were all family, it was only natural that our guidelines were sparse. All that we asked were that we act like we were at a family dinner, keep your elbows off the table and never discuss sex, religion or most importantly, politics. In my family there are both Republicans and Democrats so this rule was almost always abided by. On Heycuz, for the most part, this has worked and I’m not going to change it now. 

But, I do want to give some netiquette tips that many have forgotten or were simply never told. You can start by taking all of the “manners” that your mama taught you and apply it to your online communication. That said, here are the most important “rules” to ensure a happier and more successful time online:

1. BE CONSIDERATE. The first, and most important thing to remember is the golden rule. Remember that there’s another person(s) on the receiving end of your post or email. It sounds obvious, but sometimes when you’re looking at an electronic monitor, its easy to forget. Also remember that your “humor” may not be recognized because we cannot write voice in-fluctuations, etc, as well as we can hear them. Being considerate is especially more valid on Heycuz than elsewhere on a seemingly anonymous web because here we are family. Some of us are eccentric, some stoic, some just forgetful, but regardless of that we are all cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

2. “IF YOU CAN’T SAY SOMETHING NICE…” One of the shortcomings of schools is that they don’t spend more time teaching people how to argue. How many times have you had to figure out the ratio of a circle in contrast to the number of times you had an argument? I’m just saying, they should re-prioritize the educational requirements proportionately to life’s requirements. If you disagree with someone don’t, ever, make it personal. Not only is it hurtful, but it doesn’t work in swaying others to your side of the argument. I remember once when I was a child, my sis and I were having an argument and she realized she was losing. At the end of her rope, she appealed to my mother with “MOM! APRIL’S STUPID!” The result was that everyone, my mother included, erupted in uproarious laughter. 

A side note: A lot of boards and newsgroups tell you to continue the argument off the list. I’m not going to tell you that because people come away with a false sense of anonymity. There is none. Some think that there’s only two people reading a so-called “private” email and so they can say the darndest things. But remember you have no control over what the receiver does with your email and now with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or rather the current abuse of the act, a server can be ordered to hand over all of your correspondence as well. In addition, I have my email backed up from 1987/8 til now. At any time, I can pull up the correspondence from others and blast it across the internet for all to see. I’m telling you right now, give up the idea that there’s any privacy involved in the internet. Any lawyer will tell you, “Never put it and writing.” And, speaking of privacy, I want to politely decline any further correspondence that include the words “for your eyes only” or “not for publication.” What do I do with that? Are you implying I like gossip?

3. DON’T WASTE OTHER’S TIME: Realize also that others might not want to hear you drone on about the same thing (especially if it has nothing to do with our topic of family history). This coincides with one of my biggest pet peeves, the forward button. Don’t use it. OK, you might use it once or twice, but only use it if you add some information or some comment or any text at all. Otherwise, consider taking the forward button off your menu bar. You can still find it, if you need to, in the “message” part of the menu. If it says “Pass it On,” don’t. My filters already put those emails right where they belong, directly in the trash. I belong to a lot of genealogy boards, so I get thousands of emails a day and it makes me feel like a heel when I get messages titled, “I better get this back.” If I spent my time responding to those I wouldn’t have the time to answer all the legitimate queries I get. In that same vein, never post “dittos.” If you have nothing more to add and you’re not answering a survey, a “me too” is useless.

4. ANSWER YOUR PERSONAL EMAIL: If someone has taken the time to write to you personally, answer them. Even if all you can write is, “I’m busy right now, I’ll try to write more later.” And with that I add be patient for a reply and if you don’t get an answer within a reasonable time period, like say 14 days, then send a gentle reminder. Perhaps, a “did you get this?” and repost your message. Many times, it can take me weeks to write an answer, though I try to keep the time down to a couple of days. 

5. ALWAYS SIGN YOUR POST: especially if you’re giving information. In genealogy this is SO important. Facts are irrelevant if they have no source. How many times have you passed up unsourced trees on rootsweb or other sites. Why? Because, if there are no sources given, typically, they are so full of error’s they are useless. If you’re not willing to leave your name, then you’re just a lurker who has nothing to add. Sorry to be so crass, I’m pointing out how others view your posts.

6. QUOTE: Give me some idea of what you’re responding to or talking about. Familiarize yourself with the copy and paste keys on your keyboard. It’s really exciting when I get an email responding to a post that I put up on a board 10 years ago. But, realize my memory’s not that great! I need to know what my question was that you so kindly are responding to. This applies to emails also. Figure out how your email software or email website handles quoting. Sometimes you have to highlight the person’s message, sometimes you have to set your program to do that. If the message was long, remember you can just “quote” the part you’re responding to and delete the rest, but at least quote something. If you are talking about a web page, give the url. I really, really, and I mean, really!, appreciate people letting me know about a broken link or a error on the heycuz.net. However, please understand, that at last count there were 282,000 pages on our website. Help! (To give the url, highlight the text in the url box at the top of your browser go to edit, go to copy. Now, when you go to your email, go back up to edit then to paste.)

7. CHANGE THE SUBJECT LINE. This is especially true on web boards because many times the search engine crawlers only search by subject line. You took the time to respond, now take the time to make sure the right people see your message. On yahoo, which is the server Heycuz is on, it seems to only search by subject or email addresses. So, if a person is looking for a particular subject, and the subject hasn’t been changed, those emails are missed. Changing the subject line is an easy thing to do. When you click reply, pop back up one line and write a short description of what you’re writing. 

8. BREATHE! Before you hit the send button, look over your reply. Seriously consider whether you’d want to receive the message you’re sending. Are you clear? Would you talk like that to someone if they were standing in front of you? We get all caught up in the speed of this new internet thingy, or the thrill and excitement that we found a new cousin, that we don’t realize the web doesn’t have to dictate the speed of our reply. Recently, some college did a study they called The Good Samaritan. In it, they discovered that the one thing that dictated how “good” people acted toward each other was related to how much time pressure the person was feeling. Those who were rude or unhelpful felt rushed. So, remember to breathe. You’re not rushed. We can wait for your words of wisdom. 

This blog is probably way too long, and gives too much emphasis on the negatives. The last thing I want to do is scare away newcomers to our family tree. Honestly, negative posts on Heycuz are rare. We truly are one big family, and now, doing genealogy, I’ve realized that applies to more people than I could have possibly dreamed. We are all related. To me, family means, embracing the differences in each other and I welcome them. I love them, in fact. I’m astonished by and proud of the level of talent in our little group. My final comment is a request: If I don’t treat you like you’re my family, please do what my father would do, kick me in the rear and tell me to get with the program.

Your cuz,

April

Welcome

As the webhost, I get a lot of queries and while I try my best to help find your missing ancestors, I am only one person. Here’s a chance to increase your odds by posting your queries directly to all of the members of Heycuz, some who’ve been doing research for over 50 years. While I’ve named this section, Wanted, it is not limited to that. If you’ve been looking for anything on your ancestor, like a photograph or a burial spot, feel free to ask about that too.

The reward may be only finding another cousin to share research with. Then again, you just might find your Most Wanted ancestor. Thanks for contributing!

April

Thanks for Your Patience

Thank you all for bearing with me while the site undergoes a major overhaul. I’ve received a lot of letters from members about links not working and I apologize for that. I hope to have it all fixed soon. While it has been inconvenient, I believe the changes will benefit visitors to the site. The first thing I hope to do is make the site more organized so finding the information you need will be easier. I also hope to make the pages more interactive by adding a number of improvements. One of the improvements includes a photo gallery that will allow members to add their own photographs and have them viewable instantly. Members will be able to also download high-resolution copies of your favorite photos or entire albums with a single click. Your photos download as full-size JPEGs (highest resolution) or images optimized for 16-by-20-inch prints (smaller file size).
Another improvement will be our Wanted Board. I get a lot of queries and I try to answer them as quickly as possible. But, I am only one person, if you put your Most Wanted queries on the board you’ll have more people see your query and can help you out.
There are also a lot of changes being made to the Heycuz database. Right now, I’m uploading corrections, but there are many more still to be completed. Thank you all for your assistance in sending me updates and corrections. I especially want to thank Rev. Thomas Henry Sullivan who has been working now for several months on going through the Heycuz database and fixing, updating, and correcting broken family lines and catching errors, and very importantly adding sources to each fact on individual ancestors. For instance, he’ll write that a birth came from a delayed birth certificate, Bible, or a Family History. His attention to detail has really cleared up a lot of questions on some of our most puzzling ancestors. Unfortunately, he’s not online right now, so if you want to thank him, you’ll have to do it when you run in to him at a library in Dickson, Hickman or Williamson County, TN.
The changes will be complete soon so thanks again for your patience.
April

The Quickest Way To Get The News

Well, the times they are a changin’ and I realized that I should take advantage of the new technology that’s out there, especially when it makes my site work faster. I’m talking about the What’s New messages that I’ve been doing for years. I’ve decided to change the way I do them so they can post immediately, through a site called blogger.com.
I’ll give it a try.

April

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“We shall find no ancestor before his time.”

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