Serendipity Day

For what it’s worth:  Wanting to teach myself more about genealogy and DNA, I ordered these two (used) books from Amazon. I’m finding that blog posts and magazine articles don’t spell it out clearly enough for me. Think these will help? They are vintage 1999 and 2005.


Idiot Dummy



Love learning something totally new. In a historical fiction (genealogy) novel, I came across the term thumb piano.  So I asked Grandma Google:  “The mbira or thumb piano is an African musical instrument consisting of a wooden board with attached staggered metal times played by holding the instrument in the hands and plucking the times with the thumbs.” So what’s my genealogy point here? Whenever in your reading or your researching, if you come upon a brand new term, stop right there and go ask Grandma Google.  She always will have an answer.



Tip from Cyndi Ingle during the day she spent with EWGS last October:  “There are three ways to dig deeper: (1) learn about the advanced features on search engines and genealogy databases;  (2) learn about the records behind the technology;  and (3) dig into the records and then into the repository that contains those records.  Cyndi’s point was that like with any tool, a search engine is a tool and can be used to best advantage if you understand how best to use the tool (duh).

Cyndi was speaking of having to really dig deeper because, thinking of the iceberg, only 4% is sticking up………… only 4% of records on the Internet are super easy to spot…… and 96% is below the water line……….. that means that 96% is hidden deeper into the many online repositories…. “but the hidden web is 500 times more” she said……………. I think she means that there is more information available to you from any given repository (Family History Library or Library of Virginia or Texas State Archives, etc) that you would ever guess.


Cyndi Ingle also said that a list of genealogy groups on Facebook has been compiled by Katherine Wilson which you can download as a pdf for free. Here’s the link:

Who would have thought that there were sooooo many genealogy groups on Facebook! There were 23 links to genealogy-related organizations in Washington. This list goes international too.


Do you have a Revolutionary Patriot in your family tree? If you do, and are a woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background, and can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, you are eligible for membership in the DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution. DAR volunteers are willing to provide guidance and assistance each step of the way. Click to and then “membership.” There you‘ll find Prospective Member information.

The DAR publishes American Spirit magazine; in the Sept-Oct 2015 issue there was a great article about how the DAR is “Sharing a Wealth of Data With the World” by simplifying genealogy research and expanding access to Revolutionary-era documents.

The DAR recognizes 144,000 patriots and is eager to provide help to prospective members. Do check it out if you have a Revolutionary Patriot in your family tree.


On the subject of membership in societies, are you eligible to join the First Families of St.Louis? The purpose of this organization is “to identify, recognize and archive the lineage of historical St. Louis families.” You are eligible to join if you can prove a straight-line descent from an early St. Louis resident in one of these three categories:  Founding Fathers, 1765-1804; Pioneer Families, 1805-1821; and Immigrant Families, 1822-1865. If this organization is of interest to you, click to the St. Louis Genealogical Society website, or call their office at 314-647-8547. Brochure I have says application fee is $30.


Having just returned from a stupendous 2-week trip to Egypt, and getting back into my real-life-world of genealogy, I really wondered how much Egyptian genealogy helps are available. Not much, sad to report. FamilySearch has a Wiki page that’s mostly empty. Ancestry offers nada. The 4000-centuries listings of the ruling Kings and Pharaohs survives pretty much intact, but nothing on the thousands of common folks who worked, lived, farmed, raised families, worked on the pyramids, etc.  In my reading I did find reference to a cattle census…….. not very helpful except to date the regnal years. Using Google I did find a query post that went something like this:  “My parents were immigrants from Egypt in the 1950s……”

Doing a Google search for “Egyptian Vital Records,” I came upon a paper published in 1981titled “Development of the Vital Statistics System in Egypt.” I’ll quote one important statement here:  “In the modern era, the registration of births and deaths in rural as well as urban areas dates back to 1839; it was made obligatory towards the end of the last century. However, in spite of the early beginnings of compulsory registration of vital evens, the completeness of registration was very poor, particularly in the rural areas. It took almost 70 years for the vital statistics system to reach the 91% coverage of registration.” And we feel bad for those with Irish ancestry!


Have Missouri heritage? Last May I heard a talk by John Dougan, archivist at the Missouri Digital Heritage archives. Here are some of the points he made:  “Our archives gets 8,000,000 hits per month; we offer a basic and an advanced search (“a simple search yields too much of nothing”; we have 9,000,000 records on the website so I do recommend using the advanced search” They have “digital museum exhibits” for which he quipped, “Block out hours of time for this part of our website!”

One statement Dougan made is parallel to the quotes from Cyndi Ingle (above). He strongly encouraged users to browse by TOPIC and then MEDIA TYPE….  “don’t search the entire barn for the horse, go look in the stall.”

One most interesting looking tidbit he gave about the site was that they have the Missouri State Penitentiary records, 1836-1931. “It’s an index mostly….only images back to the 1880s…but the photos we have can include mug shots and tattoos!” His final quip on this subject was “don’t assume your Missouri ancestor is not in this database until you go and look and hope you don’t get surprised.”


Did lots of map reading on this trip; here are some for-real Texas towns:  Cut and Shoot,  Oatmeal,  Dime Box,  Snook,  Guy,  Best,  Shine,  Krum,  Benjamin,  Cactus,  Tool,  Cash,  Sunray,  Mule Shoe,  Happy,  Draw,  Quail,  White Face,  Valentine,  Orange,  West Orange,  Energy, and (best of all) Tarzan, Texas. Your ancestor from any of these bitty places??