Eagle Scout Cemetery Project featured on Mondays with Myrt

Little did my son know that when he had the idea to post this article on our blog Friday morning that it would turn into an international event. The culminating experience for my 15-year-old-almost-Eagle-scout-son's Eagle project was the invitation to be interviewed on the Mondays with Myrt show.

Evan did an awesome job in front of the camera telling about his experiences of helping to preserve one of our local cemeteries.


Yep, I'm a proud daddy.

Here's the recording of his interview with DearMYRTLE and panel. 


And be sure to read DearMYRTLE's take on her blog here. Thanks for the invite and support Myrt! While Evan is glad it's over, he enjoyed the opportunity and is so appreciative of everyone's support for his project.

Register for Webinar Wednesday - Pinning Your Family History by Thomas MacEntee


Have you considered using a variety of social media “pinning” sites like Pinterest to share your family history photos and stories? You might be surprised at the connection you can make with other genealogists as well as far-flung family members! One of the challenges in for the family historian is handling family photos and mementos and the question of “what do I do with it now that it’s scanned?” Using social media pinning sites such as Pinterest, What Was There, History Pin and even Google Maps allows you to not only share your family history photos, but you never know who will find your content and what connections you could make!

Join us and Thomas MacEntee for the live webinar Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at 9pm Eastern U.S. Register today to reserve your virtual seat. Registration is free but space is limited to the first 1,000 people to join that day. Before joining, please visit www.java.com to ensure you have the latest version of Java which our webinar software requires. When you join, if you receive a message that the webinar is full, you know we've reached the 1,000 limit, so we invite you to view the recording which should be published to the webinar archives within an hour or two of the event's conclusion.

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About the presenter

Macenteethomas-144What happens when a “tech guy” with a love for history gets laid off during The Great Recession of 2008? You get Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy professional who’s also a blogger, educator, author, social media connector, online community builder and more.

Thomas was laid off after a 25-year career in the information technology field, so he started his own genealogy-related business called High Definition Genealogy. He also created an online community of over 3,000 family history bloggers known asGeneaBloggers. His most recent endeavor, Hack Genealogy, is an attempt to “re-purpose today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy.”

Thomas describes himself as a lifelong learner with a background in a multitude of topics who has finally figured out what he does best: teach, inspire, instigate, and serve as a curator and go-to-guy for concept nurturing and inspiration. Thomas is a big believer in success, and that we all succeed when we help each other find success.

View Thomas' other webinars here.

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Cemetery Preserved, and Just In Time

You're not going to believe what happened at this cemetery yesterday, just one day after this Eagle Scout project photographed it....Here's the background.

Genealogists from around the world came together today to transcribe the headstones of one of our local cemeteries here in Idaho. In case you missed it, here was our call for your help. My son, Evan, is so thankful for everyone's support. His Eagle Scout project was a big success, and was completed just in time (keep reading to learn what happened yesterday).

The purpose of his project was to help preserve the Greenleaf Cemetery in Greenleaf, Idaho. He read stories and saw pictures of cemeteries being destroyed by vandalism and natural disasters. Even our town cemetery here in Middleton was vandalized a couple of years back.

This morning we visited with the head of the Greenleaf Cemetery District to give her Evan's report of the project. Evan explained that all the headstones had been photographed two nights before, published to the BillionGraves website, and that within the next week the cemetery's database would be created and be searchable. She said she's wanted to have something like this for years since people are always asking her for help in finding their loved ones there.

What she showed us next caused the hairs on my arms to stand.

She said that just yesterday, one of the gravesites collapsed. Not one of the headstones, but the entire gravesite. I had to see this and find out what caused it. Sure enough, there was a big hole in the ground. She explained that prior to the 1970s, caskets were made of pine. Pine disintegrates over time and when it does, it causes the ground above it to cave in. Nothing under the ground at this site was exposed and they'll have it fixed quickly. We asked if it was anything that our group of photographers had done to cause this, and she thankfully replied that no, the lawnmower goes over it all the time, and it was just time for this to happen to the 80-year-old site. When this happens, the headstone often breaks off as well and needs replaced.

So...thank goodness for Evan's Eagle Scout project. Every site in the cemetery was photographed the night before, including this site. And thus, due to the efforts of 20 of us here taking pictures, and hundreds of you from around the world transcribing those pictures here, the cemetery is preserved and even searchable.


You're Invited! Transcribe 1 headstone today to help with Evan's Eagle project

EvanscoutHi my name is Evan Rasmussen. Some of you might know my dad, Geoff. I am working on my Eagle project which is to help preserve a cemetery by photographing the gravestones and uploading the images to a website called billiongraves.com.

On Wednesday I and a group of people (20 of us) went to one of my local cemeteries and completed the photographing stage of the project. We took 687 pictures. The next thing I need to get done is to transcribe the images we took. This makes it so anyone who is looking for a relative in this cemetery can find them. If you want to help me out by transcribing ONE gravestone click here. Just zoom in,  click on one of the green pins and transcribe away. (You'll have to first create a free account if you haven't already.) Thanks!

Here's what the cemetery looked like before we started:


Here's what it looks like now:


Here's what it looks like when you click on one of the yellow bubbles:


And here's what it looks like when you click on one of the green bubbles:



A few hours later...

...and the entire cemetery has been indexed! Thanks everybody for helping. It went really quickly. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed your help! There's just a few pictures that I need to go back out and retake (some were blurry or cut off). 

Here's a link to the follow-up article, "Cemetery Preserved, and Just In Time".

What you can do now...

1) Take pictures. Using the free BillionGraves app on your smart phone, you can click on the Cemeteries button to see which cemeteries are nearby where you are. Some will have lots of pictures taken, others won't have any yet. Just click on the Take Picture button and have fun!

2) At BillionGraves.com, click on the Transcribe tab at the top. Looks like there are more than 700,000 pictures from other cemeteries that still need to be indexed.

Thanks again everyone for your help!

Here's what it looks like now:



Now I'd better go finish my project's paperwork.

Note from Geoff...

Not bad for Evan's first-ever blog post, eh? And not a bad choice for a worthwhile Eagle project. It's been really difficult for me, as a genealogist and as a father, to not step in and just do this whole project for him. :) Evan has done all the planning, obtained permission from the cemetery district (they're really excited about this), and organized the group's efforts the other night. The root beer floats afterwards were pretty good too! Another of our local cemeteries was vandalized a couple of years back. Had it been digitized previously they would have had a permanent record without the damage. This experience has helped Evan learn how to be a leader which is one of the purposes of the Eagle project.

I wrote about BillionGraves a few years back. You can read about it here. It is a worldwide project with the intent to digitize, geocode, and thus preserve cemeteries. It's come a long ways since I first wrote about it. Its index is also now searchable at FamilySearch.

Thanks for your help with Evan's project. And give BillionGraves a try too, maybe you'll find one of your ancestors today.

Watch Legacy Webinars on the Go!

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In the white box enter the webinar id number that you will find in the confirmation email of your webinar registration. Then click the JOIN link in the blue box.

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Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions.

Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.

New Legacy QuickTip Video - How to Create a Mother's Chart

We have another great Legacy QuickTip Video for you today! Learn:

  • How to use create a Mother's Chart
  • How to emphasize the photographs by using the mugshot theme
  • How to utilize the invisible feature to exclude the men on the chart

This QuickTip was presented live during the after-webinar party of this week's The Secret Lives of Women: Researching Female Ancestors webinar by Gena Philibert-Ortega.

Click here for the video.


Click here for more Legacy QuickTip videos.

Find Ancestors in Upper Canada Land Records

How many of us overlook searching for an ancestor in land records? Sometimes genealogists don’t realize how much information can be found in a land record. Originally all land in Upper Canada (later called Canada West, then Ontario) belonged to the Crown. Although there were small areas of settlement in 1763 after the British took over, major settlement of Upper Canada began in 1783 and utilized Crown Grants. Many early settlers, both military and civilian, submitted land petitions to the Governor in order to obtain Crown land.

The following steps were involved in a settler acquiring land in Upper Canada:

  1. To apply for a land grant from the Crown, he (or she) may have submitted a petition to the Crown (further explanation below under Crown Land Grants).
  2. If the petition was successful, the Crown issued a land grant to the petitioner. It was a complex process to receive a land grant.
  3. If the settler took up residence on the land and fulfilled certain settlement duties, he or she ended up owning the land. In that case the settler was issued a patent, showing that the ownership of the land had passed from the Crown to a private individual.
  4. If there were any later transactions relating to that property (e.g., sale to another individual, taking out a mortgage on the property, etc.), they were documented in the records of the county Land Registry Offices.

Free Grants of Crown Land

Until 1826 free land grants were available to all settlers, to government favourites, and to United Empire Loyalist (UEL) children. In 1826 these free grants were abolished except for Loyalist grants and soldiers, thus anyone wanting Crown land had to buy it. 

Land Petitions

There were two types of land petitions:

  • pre-1827 petitions for free grants of land under the UEL and military categories
  • post-1827 petitions for purchase of Crown lands 


1797 Upper Canada Land Petition. Library Archives Canada


The Canada Company

Settlers could also buy lands from the Canada Company, a private company owning all of the Huron District. These records are held at the Archives of Ontario. All land sales after the initial Crown grant were registered with local land registry offices. 

Crown Land Grants

Procedures for granting Crown Land changed constantly but could involve:

  • The settler's initial Petition to the Crown for land
  • An Order-in-Council from a federal Land Board granting their request
  • A Warrant from Ontario's Attorney General ordering the surveying of a lot
  • The Fiat from Ontario Surveyor General authorizing a grant of the surveyed lot
  • A Location Ticket permitting the settler to reside on the lot
  • The Patent transferring ownership of the lot from the Crown to the settler.

CLRI (Computerized Land Record Index)

The Computerized Land Record Index (aka Ontario Land Record Index) summarizes land grants of Crown Land, sales of land from Canada Company sales or leases and from Peter Robinson settlers' grants. If your ancestor settled anywhere in Ontario and he was the first time owner of Crown Land, he should be on this index. 

Heir & Devisee Commission

In 1797, the government of Upper Canada (now Ontario) established the Heir and Devisee Commission to clarify land titles for settlers on unpatented land. If your ancestor was living in Upper Canada around this time, there is a chance that you might find them referenced in this collection. Records can include: affidavits, bonds, location certificates, powers of attorney, orders-in-council, copies of wills, mortgages, deeds of sale, and testimonial letters. The digitized films are challenging to search but for a corrected list of online digitized film numbers with their contents, see Olive Tree Genealogy’s Heir & Devisee Commission Microfilm Listings.

LFT HDV74H1146CorneliusVOLLICK 1795 copy
Heir & Devisee Commission, 1795. http://Heritage.Canadiana.ca

Abstract Indexes to Deeds

The Abstract Indexes to Deeds are the indexed record of every transaction on a plot of land from Crown ownership to the present day. Using the Abstract Indexes to Deeds you can check for every instance of your name of interest on that parcel of land. By referring to the date and Instrument Number found with each transaction, you can look up the complete record. You may find a will (many wills are filed in the Land Records Offices) or other important genealogical information or document. 

Assessment Records

Assessment and Tax Records contain location of an individual's land. There are some very early assessment records, but each area in Ontario has different surviving records, so you must check for the county or township of interest to you. 

Township Papers

Township Papers deal mostly with the original locatees, but may contain other pre-patent records. Some petitions for land can be found in the Township Papers. This miscellaneous group of land-related records have been arranged by township name, then by concession and lot or by town name and lot number. Under any lot which has documents, researchers may find the following: copies of orders-in-council; copies of location certificates and location tickets; copies of assignments; certificates verifying the completion of settlement duties; copies of receipt; copies of descriptions; and copies of patents; and copies of incoming correspondence. See Finding Aid to Township Papers

Other Resources for Land Records

Lorine McGinnis Schulze is a Canadian genealogist who has been involved with genealogy and history for more than thirty years. In 1996 Lorine created the Olive Tree Genealogy website and its companion blog. Lorine is the author of many published genealogical and historical articles and books.

Researching Female Ancestors - free webinar by Gena Philibert-Ortega now online for limited time


The recording of today's excellent webinar, "The Secret Lives of Women - Researching Female Ancestors Using the Sources They Left Behind," by Gena Philibert-Ortega is now available to view for free at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com for a limited time. Some great comments:

  • I really appreciated the tips for "alternate" sources for finding information on female ancestors. I already have used the tip for finding female relatives in city directories, but today's seminar was filled with ideas for so many more. Thank you so much for today's broadcast!!!
  • I have been trying to find my female ancestors and it's been hard. Now I have so many more places to check. Wow! This is going to be fun!! Thanks for another superb webinar!!
  • She changed my thought process when she questioned why we search for women in the same places we search for men!

View the Recording at FamilyTreeWebinars.com

If you could not make it to the live event or just want to watch it again, the 1 hour 43 minute recording of "The Secret Lives of Women - Researching Female Ancestors Using the Sources They Left Behind" PLUS the after-webinar party is now available to view in our webinar library for free for a limited time. Or watch it at your convenience with an annual or monthly webinar membership.

Coupon code

Use webinar coupon code - female - for 10% off anything at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com or www.LegacyFamilyTreeStore.com, valid through Monday, July 6, 2015.

QDFEMALELegacy QuickGuide: Finding Your Female Ancestors 2.95

Most historical records have been created for and about men, making it more challenging to research and write about female ancestors. The Finding Your Female Ancestors Legacy QuickGuide™ contains useful information including best places to find maiden names, locate women’s history resources, and other key strategies for tracing your maternal lines. This handy 4-page PDF guide can be used on your computer or mobile device for anytime access.

Click here to purchase for 2.95.

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Register for our upcoming webinars (free)

  • Pinning Your Family History by Thomas MacEntee. July 8.
  • Making a Federal Case Out of It by Judy Russell (bonus webinar for annual/monthly webinar subscribers only). July 10.
  • Researching with Karen! by Karen Clifford. July 15.
  • Have Swedish Roots and Don't Know How to Get Started? by Kathy Meade. July 22.
  • Storyboard Your Family History by Lisa Alzo. July 29.
  • Mending Broken Ties: Reconstructing Family Trees Sawed by Slavery by Melvin J. Collier. July 31.
  • What's in a Name? Trouble! by Ron Arons. August 5.
  • Power Platting - Technology Tools to Create Pictures from Property Descriptions by Chris Staats. August 12.
  • Discovering Your Kentucky Ancestors by Mark Lowe. August 19.
  • Digital Family Reunions by Devin Ashby. August 21.
  • German Names and Naming Patterns by Jim Beidler. August 26.
  • Break Down Brick Walls in Eastern European Research - Tips, Tools and Tricks by Lisa Alzo. September 2.
  • Research Your Swedish Ancestors in Living Color Using ArkivDigital Online by Kathy Meade. September 9.
  • Technology and Techniques for Differentiating Two People with the Same Name by Geoff Rasmussen. September 11.
  • Researching Your Dutch Ancestors by Yvette Hoitink. September 16.
  • Researching Your Ancestors in England and Wales by Kirsty Gray. September 23.
  • Maps Tell Some of the Story for the African-Ancestored Genealogist by Angela Walton-Raji. September 25.
  • Using Periodicals to Find Your Ancestors by Gena Philibert-Ortega. September 30.
  • Wearables and Genealogy - Wacky and Wild or Worth the Wait by Thomas MacEntee. October 7.
  • Colonial Immigration - The English Pioneers of Early America by Beth Foulk. October 14.
  • Billions of Records, Billions of Stories by Devin Ashby. October 16.
  • What Happened to the State of Frankland - Using Tennessee's Pre-Statehood Records by Mark Lowe. October 21.
  • Complex Evidence - What is It? How Does it Work? And Why Does it Matter? by Warren Bittner. October 28.
  • Researching with Karen! by Karen Clifford. November 4.
  • Organizing Your Genetic Genealogy by Diahan Southard. November 11.
  • Bringing it All Together and Leaving a Permanent Record by Tom Kemp. November 13.
  • Mapping Madness by Ron Arons. November 18.
  • Stories in Stone - Cemetery Research by Gail Blankenau. December 2.
  • Thinking about Becoming an Accredited Genealogist? by Apryl Cox and Kelly Summers. December 9.
  • Pointing Fingers at Ancestors' Siblings - Breaking Down Brick Walls with Collateral Research by Marian Pierre-Louis. December 16.

Click here to register. Or click here register for multiple webinars at the same time.

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See you online!

My Grandfather was a Sea Captain: Researching Maritime Ancestors

Learning about seafaring ancestors can prove to be as exciting as the adventures of many who crossed oceans to destinations around the world. My great, great, grandfather, Owen O’Neill, was born off the coast of South America aboard his Irish father’s frigate. After courting his wife in Boston, Owen sailed his family to California. From the 1850s until his death in 1871, he piloted a cargo ship that traversed daily from San Francisco to Belmont, California.

Clipper ship-LOC
 N. Currier, Clipper Ship "Red Jacket" off Coast of Cape Horn.
Image from the  Library of Congress.

Many men of his time living near ports were employed in the maritime industries. The importance of the maritime industry led to the creation of records that, in many cases, have discoveries waiting for genealogists. With the right know-how, any researcher can re-tell the tale of their sea captain.

Many resources exist at the National Archives that remain only partially digitized. The Act of 1789 by the United States Government mandated that private seagoing vessels be officially recorded by the government. As a result, 100 district offices throughout the country were established for the agency of the U.S. Customs Collection Service. The U.S. Customs Service became responsible for recording information on vessels and their contents. Ships arriving at port were directed to the local customhouse. The customhouse was operated by the collector and his subordinate officers who collected details on the arriving ships. Among the records produced at the customhouse are:

  • Arrival and Departure of American Merchant Ships
  • Seamen and Marine Passenger Protection Certificates
  • Names of Owners and Masters of a Ship
  • Crew Lists
  • Names of Officials at the Customhouse
  • Manifests of Cargo on Board

Records of United States customhouses are located in National Archives Record Group 36, Records of the U.S. Customs Service. There are collections of passenger and crew lists that are digitized and searchable on Ancestry. These lists mostly come from Record Group 85, Bureau of Immigration. More federal records are accessible to researchers online if the seafaring ancestor in question served in the Navy.

While the National Archives has a majority of these records, some maritime collections were deposited with public libraries and local history repositories before the National Archives was created in 1934. Here are a few examples of maritime records from local history collections that are FREE to search:

Researchers new to these records will come across unusual terms. Here are definitions of some important terms to help your research:

    Before documents could be obtained for a vessel, it had to be measured. These certificates show name of ship builder and name of owner.

    Each certificate shows date of issue, name of seaman, his age and nationality and a brief physical description. These persons were required to give oaths of citizenship that were signed by witnesses.    

  • DRAWBACK           
    Historically the word drawback denotes refunding the tax on goods to the master of the ship importing goods. The rationale for drawback was to encourage American commerce and manufacturing.     

  • DUTIES         
    Same as tax.

  • GAUGER      
    A customs official who inspects dimensions of bulk goods subject to duty.

    Lists of cargo.

    Certificates protecting seamen from being impressed by foreign entities.

  • SHIPPING ARTICLES                     
    Agreements between masters of vessels and seamen on contract of the voyage. After the general agreement, they include the seamen’s signature, age, nationality, personal description, birthplace, address, and information on next of kin.

Genealogists should prepare in advance for searching these records. Many are not indexed and will require looking for multiple boxes of archival material. You will have greater success if you know name of the ship and the home port. Historical newspapers may contain information on your ship-owning ancestor. Court and probate records are also worth checking because boats are important property. Save time by confirming that your ancestor had a maritime job by checking the US Federal Census 1850 or later to determine your ancestor's occupation.

Finding Maritime ancestors can be a great surprise, but learning details about their lives is even better. If someone asked me to research the career of Captain Joseph Peabody of Salem, Massachusetts, I would use Records of The Customs Service in the District of Salem and Beverly to find what ships he mastered, where he imported goods, whom he worked with, and so many great details that would otherwise be overlooked.

Do you have any maritime ancestors in your family history? Share your ancestor's maritime stories here!


Jake Fletcher is a genealogist and blogger. He received his Bachelor Degree for History in 2013 and is now researching genealogy professionally. Jake has been researching and writing about genealogy  since high school using his blog page Travelogues of a Genealogist.



Happy Canada Day!


Lots and lots of our Legacy Family Tree users and webinar listeners are Canadians (so is my wife!). Today is their special day. Happy Canada Day!!

Here's one of my favorite views in Canada, a picture taken in Nova Scotia during one of our Legacy Genealogy Cruises.


And here's my one Canadian-born ancestor in the family's Bible:


Some of the best people I have met are from Canada. Have a great day!