Latest Posts

New Video: Family Search Granite Vault

Shout out to Cindy’s list for tweeting the URLs to 2 new videos from FamilySearch re their granite vault.

I’ve put one of them in my sidebar as my featured video.  I’m always on the lookout for genealogy videos so this is a great addition. Thanks!

More Compiled Service Records @ Internet Archive

The Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center has added more compiled service records to the Internet Archive.  One of the latest additions are the Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers who Served with the United States Colored Troops: 1st through 6th Calvary.  There are 107 reels in this collection.  For more information about these records, read a detailed overview.

These are also available at and are 39% complete at Footnote.  But, at the Internet Archive they are free!  NARA should add these to their list of microfilm digitized by partners.

These records have been indexed in the book

1st United States Colored Calvary

  • Reel 1 – Ackess, Alexander – Bom, John H.
  • Reel 2 – Bomer, James – Cartwright, John
  • Reel 3 – Casey, Thomas – Davenport, John J.
  • Reel 4 – Davis, Augustus – Floyd, George
  • Reel 5 – Fly, Benjamin – Griffin, Oliver
  • Reel 6 – Griffin, Quinton – Holstead, Peter
  • Reel 7 – Holt, George – Jones, Herbert
  • Reel 8 – Jones, Howell – Macoy, Peter
  • Reel 9 – Madry, Andrew – Mosley, Jacob
  • Reel 10 – Moss, James – Polk, James
  • Reel 11 – Pollard, Sipio – Sales, William
  • Reel 12 – Sample, Abram (Abraham) – Smith, Ives
  • Reel 13 – Smith, James – Times, Nelson
  • Reel 14 – Tines, Archer – Wheldon, Charles M.
  • Reel 15 – Whitby, Joseph – Wilson, Isaac
  • Reel 16 – Wilson, James – Zoe (no first name)

2d United States Colored Calvary

  • Reel 17 – Abbot, John – Bell, Charles
  • Reel 18 – Bell, Henry – Burns, Richard
  • Reel 19 – Burroughs, George L. – Cotton, Samuel
  • Reel 20 – Coues, Alexander – Duncan, Levi
  • Reel 21 – Dunkins, Ezikiah James – Gardner, Richard
  • Reel 22 – Garris, Henry – Harrison, Thomas
  • Reel 23 – Harrison, William – Humphries, David
  • Reel 24 – Hunter, Francis – Jones, Robert
  • Reel 25 – Jones, Robert F. – Martin, Robert (Martin)
  • Reel 26 – Martin, Thaddeus – Osborne, Henry S.
  • Reel 27 – Oulden, Jacob – Prior, Edward or Edmund
  • Reel 28 – Proctor, David – Sawyer, Wilson
  • Reel 29 – Scabber, Charles – Stanley, William
  • Reel 30 – Stanley, Wright or Right – Upshear, Neverson
  • Reel 31 – Upshear, Samuel – Whites, Joe
  • Reel 32 – Whites, Silas – Zodrick, Isaiah A. or Isaiah

3d United States Colored Cavalry

  • Reel 33 – Aaron, John – Black, David
  • Reel 34 – Black, Richard – Cameron, Wyatt
  • Reel 35 – Cammel, Austin – Cooper, Stephen
  • Reel 36 – Coran, Joseph – Erving, Tilson
  • Reel 37 – Erwin, Anderson – Gool, George
  • Reel 38 – Gordon, Alfred – Haskins, Jasper
  • Reel 39 – Hawkins, Frank – Jackson, Harvey
  • Reel 40 – Jackson, Henry – Kembro, Abraham
  • Reel 41 – Kenedy, Lemuel – Lott, Judge
  • Reel 42 – Lott, Matton – Mitchell, Berry
  • Reel 43 – Mitchell, George – Pettis, Edmond
  • Reel 44 – Pettis, George – Roberson, Jefferson
  • Reel 45 – Roberson, Wallace – Simpson, Levi
  • Reel 46 – Sims, Anderson – Taylor, Phillip
  • Reel 47 – Taylor, Richard – Washington, Isaac
  • Reel 48 – Washington, Oscar – Williams, Mitchel
  • Reel 49 – Williams, Moses – Young, Mathew

4th United States Colored Cavalry

  • Reel 50 – Abraham, Randall – Blanchan, William
  • Reel 51 – Blanchard, Moses – Clark, Moses
  • Reel 52 – Clark, Theodore – Ellars, James
  • Reel 53 – Ellars, John – Heath, Culbert
  • Reel 54 – Henderson, George – Johnson, Henderson
  • Reel 55 – Johnson, Henry – Mayberry, Nelson
  • Reel 56 – Macomory, John – Oliver, Celestine
  • Reel 57 – Olsten, Alexander – Robinson, William
  • Reel 58 – Robinson, William E. – Thomas, Stephen
  • Reel 59 – Thomas, William – Williams, Horace
  • Reel 60 – Williams, Isaac – Zulia, Francois

5th United States Colored Calvary

  • Reel 61 – Abel, Fletcher – Biggs, Randall
  • Reel 62 – Birch, Benjamin – Burly, Frank
  • Reel 63 – Burly, James – Coffman, James D.
  • Reel 64 – Coke, Samuel – Dudley, John
  • Reel 65 – Duke, John – Givens, Peter
  • Reel 66 – Glen, John – Harriden, Edmund
  • Reel 67 – Harrigan, Harden – Hughes, Thomas
  • Reel 68 – Hulse, James – Keller, Ephraim
  • Reel 69 – Kelley, Franklin-Matthews, Benjamin
  • Reel 70 – Maupin, Preston – Murry, Ned
  • Reel 71 – Murtney, Morton – Ray, John
  • Reel 72 – Ray, Thomas – Sherrod, Willliam
  • Reel 73 – Shrewsbury, Joseph – Stone, John
  • Reel 74 – Stone, Lewis – Trye, Benjamin
  • Reel 75 – Trueheart, Samuel – Williams, James
  • Reel 76 – Williams, Jerry – Yowell, Joseph

5th Massachusetts Cavalry (Colored)

  • Reel 77 – Abbey, David – Biers, William
  • Reel 78 – Billings, Jeremiah – Burgess, Williams
  • Reel 79 – Burnett, Lewis – Cook, Joseph T.
  • Reel 80 – Cooper, Isaac – Dunmore, William
  • Reel 81 – Durbin, Stephen – Furman, Seneca A.
  • Reel 82 – Gadson, James – Gurley, Joseph L.
  • Reel 83 – Guy, James – Hill, John W.
  • Reel 84 – Hill, Richard – Johns, Thomas H.
  • Reel 85 – Johnson, Aaron – Lambert, William
  • Reel 86 – Lancaster, James – Mason, John
  • Reel 87 – Mason, John H. – Nelson, Philip
  • Reel 88 – Nelson, Preston – Preston, Thomas
  • Reel 89 – Price, Adam – Sampson, George P.
  • Reel 90 – Sanborn, Madison – Stringer, William
  • Reel 91 – Strother, Frank – Vance, William H.
  • Reel 92 – Van Hoesen, Charles – Wilkinson, Simon
  • Reel 93 – Williams, Abram H. – Young, Thomas

6th United States Colored Cavalry

  • Reel 94 – Abbot, John – Birch, James
  • Reel 95 – Bivins, Gabriel – Buckner, George
  • Reel 96 – Buckner, Henderson – Compton, James
  • Reel 97 – Cook, Benjamin – Ellis, William
  • Reel 98 – Ellis, Wyatt – Godley, Isaac
  • Reel 99 – Gooch, Alexander – Herston, Abraham
  • Reel 100 – Heywood, John R. – Johnson, Jackson
  • Reel 101 – Johnson, James M. – Marshall, Lyman
  • Reel 102 – Marshall, William – Neihardt, Isaac D.
  • Reel 103 – Nelson, Joseph – Redd, Tiney
  • Reel 104 – Redway, Hamilton K. – Sebree, Bob Woodcock
  • Reel 105 – Sebree, Crittenden – Sumpter, John
  • Reel 106– Sutherland, Williams – Washington, Charles
  • Reel 107 – Washington, George – Wren (no first name)

2010 NCGenWeb in Review

Just a quick post to share our year in review highlight on the North Carolina USGenWeb project website.  I’ve now been webmaster for almost exactly one year!  The year-in-review highlights some of the milestones in the project this year and should we continue to keep it up, would be a great way to document some of the project history.

In other USGenWeb news:

  • for the NCGenWeb I created a database of more than 17,000 college graduates throughout North Carolina that focuses on 1930 and earlier. This summer I’ll be expanding it to up to 1940.
  • I’ve started a college graduate database for TNGenWeb too – hope to have that one publicly available by summers’ end
  • I’m the new assistant county coordinator for Hillsborough County, Florida
  • I am in the process of collaborating with another county coordinator on a site that is designed to promote the USGenWeb project and leverage social networking tools and applications.

My personal family history research has been on hiatus as I’ve been dedicating more efforts to the NCGenWeb project, but I have plans to remedy this soon enough.  I’ve had some exciting leads lately that I need to get around to fully documenting and blogging about.

I’m a USGenWeb cheerleader so remember, if you have family data that you’re blogging about – consider also contributing it to the appropriate USGenWeb county.

Tombstone Tuesday: William and Henrietta Bowers Bolinger

This Tombstone Tuesday post is dedicated to my friend & co-worker Rachel.  I’ve been working on her family tree for a few years now off and on and she recently did a little online searching of her own and found tombstone pictures of her 3rd great-grandparents, William Bolinger and Henrietta Catherine (Bowers) Bolinger.   They are buried in Rheatown Cemetery in Rheatown, Greene County, Tennessee.

Henrietta Catherine Bowers Bolinger

William Bolinger

William  (1826-1900) was born in Virginia according to census records and though I don’t yet have documentation of his parents, they were of foreign birth.  Henrietta (1831-1916) was also from Virginia, the daughter of Jacob Bowers and wife Mary.  Henry & Henrietta were married July 18, 1854 in Greene County and from what I’ve gathered so far, had 7 children.  In reviewing the records I see I have much more to do for this line;  so many branches, so little time.

Historic Tennessee Newspapers Going Digital & Online!

One of my favorite historical newspaper resources is the Chronicling America site by the National Digital Newspaper Program partnership between the Library of Congress & the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The site contains digital images of  newspapers from 16 states covering 188-1922 and is a valuable source of information in our genealogical research.

The goal of the project is to have representation from all states and in the latest round of grant awards, more states have received funding to come aboard – Tennessee included.  I personally am thrilled to have a chance to be involved in the project as I will be a member of the Advisory Board in the role of an interested recreational genealogist/end user of the project results.  Newspaper research is a high priority for me so I’m ecstatic!

More about the TN Project

  • Coordinated by joint collaboration between the University of Tennessee Knoxville & the Tennesse State Library & Archives
  • Goal is to digitize 100,000 pages of historical TN newspapers from 1836-1922.  There will be representation from all three of the grand divisions of the state
  • Selection of the papers to digitize is part of the project, but there are over 1,000,000 pages to choose from!

The grant involves an experienced body of individuals; coordinated by JoAnne Deeken @ UTK.  I look forward to getting to know others on the team and helping to assist in the recommendations for titles to digitize.  High on my personal wish list for inclusion is the Nashville Globe, a black newspaper published in Nashville from 1907-1960.    I have been indexing parts of it over the past three years and access to the full run during this time frame would be of benefit for African-American genealogical research.

Other states awarded funds to add newspapers (some already have contributed) to the Chronicling America site are:

  • Arizona
  • Hawaii
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Vermont
  • Washington

How exciting!

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – Week 22 (Part II) – Find-A-Grave

In my last post, I expressed my desire for a Find-A-Grave app for my smartphone and outlined several specific features I wished to see in the app.  After posting and sharing the link, I learned from Thomas that there was an ongoing discussion on the Find-A-Grave forums, and then someone posted a link to a beta version of an app in the Android Market. Sweet! I have an Android phone.

Eager to see how it works, I quickly installed it.   The app’s page has several screenshots that will allow you to see how it currently works and I see much promise.   It was released May 11, 2010 so is a very early version.  So far, it provides basic access to the data at the Find-A-Grave website, but it does not have any of the 7 functions I listed in my post.  To be fair though, it is clear from the current menus that many of these are planned, and I am excited!

Overall, the usability of the site is aligned with what I envisioned. It is fast, easy to use and instructions are clear.  I believe the developer is definitely heading in the right direction.  Now I just need to figure out a way to let the developer know of my blog post!

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy – Week 22 (Find-A-Grave)

A couple of months ago I read an article about a Vanderbilt Engineering student named Ben Gotow and his work developing iPhone apps.  He developed an iPhone app for artists that has sold more than 20,000 units to date, an app for a Vanderbilt informatics group that allows anesthesiologists to view what’s going on in various operating rooms from their iPhones, and considered another app that immediately caught my attention and sparked my thoughts on the topic of this blog post.  It’ s a blog post I’ve been bouncing around for a couple of months and this week’s prompt for Find-A-Grave gives me the perfect opportunity to present the idea.

What was that other app? The app that was mentioned that particularly caught my eye was described in the following manner in the article I read about him

Gotow hopes to develop an app that would allow users to point their phones at a building anywhere on Vanderbilt’s campus and receive information about what is going on inside as well as the building’s history.

When I read this sentence, I had an immediate realization at how cool something like this could be for a genealogical/historical researcher! Not only for Vanderbilt buildings, but if it were crowdsourced somehow or drew from Wikipedia for use from any location.  Wouldn’t that be cool?  Then, as I thought about its potential for use from any location, I realized that something like this could be useful for Find-A-Grave.  Imaging pointing your smartphone towards any cemetery and getting information about that cemetery?

I’m tweaking the original 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy prompt’s objective, but here are my thoughts on how a FindAGrave app could work:

  • it would use GPS coordinates and map data to show you what cemeteries are near you (a la FourSquare)
  • from the app, you’d retrieve the list of burials as noted in Find-A-Grave an easy-to-visualize method of knowing which ones have pictures or not.  The Find-A-Grave site uses a tombstone marker image to designate the availability of a tombstone photo so this could be the case as well for the app.
  • if there is not a tombstone marker for the grave it would allow you to click on a camera icon to launch your smartphone camera, take a picture and upload that pic to FindAGrave right away.   Find-A-Grave currently has a photo size restriction so ideally, the app would resize your photo since it will probably be much larger than the maximum image allowed
  • if there is not an entry for that burial, have a simple version of the form to add a new entry and then as above, add the picture of the tombstone.
  • Sign-in should be required to use the app so then it could keep track of the graves you added and/or took photos for so you can go back and enhance the data later if needed (ideally,  it would work in tandem w/ the Find-A-Grave website so you could manage the info online)
  • integration w/ other social sites — wouldn’t it be fun if you were in a cemetery and could tweet/Facebook  something like, “I just found my great-grandmother’s tombstone @ XYZ Cemetery!”  along w/ the picture?
  • a “check-in” feature (again, a la FourSquare or Waymarking) that would let you know what other people may have visited the cemetery (and or grave)?  this could possibly lead to connecting with other researchers with familial ties?
  • in June 2009 I posted my wish-list for the Find-A-Grave website — maybe the app could incorporate some of them?

Using an app like this while surveying, viewing a cemetery would be interesting.  It may extend the time needed to survey a cemetery, but with all the steps combined of taking a picture and uploading it to the site, it may in the end save time.  I’d love to try something like this out.   The argument could be made that since smartphones can render websites, the regular Find-A-Grave site could be used, but I personally find usability issues when using the regular site on my Android.  Either a specifically designed mobile version of the site or an app would be better from a  usability perspective.  It is time like these that I wish I were a programmer, or at least had enough money to hire a programmer.

Thanks for the inspiration Ben! Maybe I can get someone at Find-A-Grave, or someone with programming expertise to take this on.  I’d need a Droid version though.  🙂

Update 5/31 — Thomas tweeted a link to a forum discussion on an iPhone app for Find-A-Grave and I posted a comment there.  Also, I had another idea. Here’s the scenario:

Today I am visiting family in Indiana and I’m planning to go visit a cemetery.  Maybe a potential function of the app would be to provide me a % of tombstones photographed at cemeteries around me. I could target some of the cemeteries with fewer percentage of tombstones photographed to start with.  Recognizing that there may not be headstones for everyone listed at a particular cemetery, it would still be an interesting way to know how to best focus my efforts to help contribute to the site.

I also learned that there is a beta version of the app that was just released a couple of weeks ago. The site to learn more about it is here and you can see comments here.  I will do a blog post about it later.

Vacation Day 3 – Can’t Get Enough Yearbooks

After learning yesterday that the Nashville Metropolitan Archives had a strong yearbook collection, I decided to spend my afternoon there today.

I wrote to the email reference of the Archives last night and received a response that they had a print listing of the yearbooks they have available, so I requested this list upon my arrival.  They have a few hundred yearbooks from area schools & colleges.

I first wanted to look at any yearbooks they had for African-American schools.  Since their yearbook collection is established mostly via donations, they had only a few available.  I scanned the senior class listings from them so I can transcribe them for the Davidson County TNGenWeb site.  The ones I captured were  Pearl High School from 1955, 1965, 1975 and a school publication from 1942.

Then it was on to my obsession, Vanderbilt! They have many years of Vanderbilt yearbooks, so I captured the graduating classes of many years up to 1919; specifically – 1908, 1911, 1912, 1916, 1917, 1918 & 1919

All in all, a good few hours spent this afternoon!

Caption: As he feels on graduation. From the 1908 Vanderbilt University yearbook.

Vacation Day 2 – Nashville Public Library

The genealogy vacation extravaganza continues! Today I spent my time at the Nashville Public Library in their Nashville Room.  I came to realized I’d seriously underappreciated the resources in the Nashville Room for I learned today much more about their holdings.  As with yesterday, everything I gathered today will eventually go to the TNGenWeb & NCGenWeb projects to aid others doing family history research.

The reason I went to NPL was to capture digital images off of a couple of microfilm rolls I ordered years ago from the NC State Library & Archives.   In the past I’d paid to have two rolls scanned by a professional microfilm company, but I keep trying out different ways to do it myself.  Our public library has two microfilm machines hooked up to computers and this makes scanning quite easy to do.

I captured key information from:

  • Roanoke Beacon of Plymouth, NC from April – June of 1890.  This is a weekly paper.
  • Kinston Free Press of Kinston, NC from a couple of weeks in January 1910 and a couple of weeks in Aug/Sep 1910.  This is a daily paper.

One of my recreational blogs is Black Nashville History & Genealogy.  Most of the info for the site comes from the Nashville Globe, an African-American newspaper that ran in the early-mid 1900s.   Today, I captured:

  • Nashville Globe-Independent — death notices & obituaries from Jan – Jun 1960.

Then, I discovered that the public library has quite a number of yearbooks.  I’ve been in yearbook deluge lately so I had to continue and look at those.  I even had to take a picture.

yearbooks at the Nashville Public Library

Today I captured the senior class listings for:

  • Vanderbilt University – 1896, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905,
  • Ward Seminary for Young Women –  a girl’s high school.  I got the names of the 1902 seniors.
  • University of Tennessee – 1897, 1914, 1915 – these are all online already having been digitized by the University of Tennessee, but I took a few pictures anyway
  • Hume Fogg High School – 1919, 1921

I also learned that the Nashville Metro Archives has a large yearbook collection so I will need to plan a visit there one day to look at them.  Another very productive day! Unfortunately, tomorrow I need to run errands so no genealogy for me, but these past couple of days have been stellar.  I now need to start my genealogy project Works-In-Progress List so I can keep track of my status with each of these.

Ward Seminary For Young Women - 1902

Researching While On Vacation

Today was the start of my 2 week vacation and you know how I spent it? Like any true genealogist – in the library :-).  I visited the Tennessee State Library & Archives to gather information to share on the TNGenWeb & NCGenWeb sites in which I participate/ccordinate.  I also pulled a couple of obituaries for researchers who have contacted me during the past month.

I captured a lot of information today and this was the first time I really put my new handheld, portable scanner to use (see my blog post about it here) and it was great! I captured hundreds of images today between it and my camera.  I used it on books and even the microfilm reader to capture newspaper images.  I still need to learn to tweak the microfilm machine for best capture, but for my purposes, what I was able to obtain today will go a long way.

Here is an example of a capture I was able to get by using it on the microfilm machine screen.  It’s not perfect, but it is good enough for me to the abstract decedent, date of death, & cemetery info that I am planning to use.

Here is my list of what I gathered today:

  • Index pages to Blount  County Court Minutes 1795-1804, 1804-1807, and 1808-1811.   I plan to turn these pages into an online listing to assist county researchers for my Blount County TNGenWeb site.  These were compiled in the 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration.
  • Deaths in the Maryville Enterprise newspaper (Blount County, TN) from January – June 1961.  A Blount County researcher has done an amazing job indexing obituaries from 1867-1960 so I’d like to begin to expand upon what he’s done.   Using the handheld scanner makes this a more feasible project.   Photocopies using the microfilm readers are .25 each.  My method is free.
  • Index to Martin County Madison County Circuit Court Minutes 1821-1828 – for the Madison County TNGenWeb project.
  • Davidson County Wills & Inventories 1795-1804 pt. 1 – I scanned in half of this volume so that I can submit them to the Davidson County TNGenWeb project.  These too were compiled in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration.
  • Vanderbilt University Yearbooks  for 1909, 1910, 1913, 1914, & 1915.  I am currently indexing hundreds of North Carolina yearbooks so am interested in yearbooks these days.  I want to start indexing those from the Nashville area, so what better university to start with than my new alma mater (and place of employment for the past 10 years!).   I focused on capturing the senior class members only for now.   The next school I’d like to do is Fisk so that I can get some much needed African-American representation as well.   This too will be contributed to the Davidson County TNGenWeb project.

I’ve had a busy day don’t ya think?  🙂  This is going to be great material to keep me busy for awhile, but I am trying to get back tomorrow to gather more.

Vanderbilt 1910 Girls Basketball Team - Lamar Ryals (mascot), Eleanor Richardson, Mattie Stocks, Ada Raines (Captain), Rebecca Young, & Stella Katherine Vaughn