Tuesday, July 30, 2013

To The Recent Comment

I apologize for not getting to your recent comments. I am focused on writing a book which I am hoping to have completed by the end of August. I will look into your questions and comments as I can. Thank you for visiting the site. Larry

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Collaboration in Family Tree is Working Well, But More Needs To Be Done

I am not the only one that is enjoying the fruits of Family Tree, referring to the collaboration that is emphasized. As we common descendants work together to build an accurate pedigree, with sources attached we stop duplicating each others work, we challenge each other (nicely) on our conclusions, and we provide sources and documentation that only one of us has located or thought about.

I see in my Bingham line that so much is being done by others it gives me comfort I can leave that line alone for awhile. As my recently found cousin Gaylynn has taken on the Osborne line (even written a book because of her exciting research) and she has challenged me to work on the Whitaker line. The Whitaker line is a mess, a mess getting cleaned up by my research and the research of a few others.

Good genealogy research principles teach that we should focus. I call the many paths we can take, "Bunny Trails". In genealogy there are lots of trails so I assume there are lots of bunnies. And like rabbits these trails multiply quickly.

With the watch feature I can keep an interested eye on the work others are providing, while I try and stay focused on the Whitakers.

Since we all benefit by working together, how about turning on a feature in settings that makes something in your contact info public - like your email address? Please.

It's a topic of importance and I will past a thread below from Ron Tanner that shows where the developers are at on the topic and offering you might provide your suggestions.


Something else we are discussing is having an internal messaging system where people can send messages to each other without email addresses. FamilySearch would send messages to people who have email addresses and notify them that there are messages. Also we could, when a person logs on, tell them they have messages

Actually a valid email address is required at registration time. However, email addresses seem to be a challenge to many users of the system. They forget, they change them, they believe they cannot get their email unless they are on their home computer, etc. 

Also, many have expressed concerns about exposing their email to others. 

All of this being said, I do believe the communication is one of the key principles of an open edit system. So we are exploring other options to facilitate communication - one that seems to be reasonable is to provide an inbox/message board/wall whatever you wish to call it that is internal to FamilySearch. Then when someone sends a message to another within FS, then FS will send a message to the external email. This way communication is facilitated without email address exposure. 

I also believe we should be asking, at least every 6 months, for people to verify their email addresses. 

Maybe because of stubbornness, I don't necessarily feel the need to stop contributions if they do not have an email. I figure if they do not want to collaborate, then just change the data. If they abuse the edit privilege, then report abuse and they loose access or have other restrictions for a time. 

Any other suggestions?

Sometimes You Get The Coolest Surprises, Even With BillionGraves.com Service

A few days ago I wrote how Billion Graves is a kick.  I wrote how my grandson Michael caught the spirit and took over the iPhone.

Today I was transcribing some of the photos I took in Iowa, should I say Michael took. Below is the proof of my story about his doing picture taking. It's also a cool surprise photo I will print and treasure. Michael is in the reflection, along with my skinny legs.

Monday, July 8, 2013

What Everyone Should Know In Family Tree

FamilySearch Family Tree is surging forward. Many thousands of people, both members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and those from the public that see the benefit of this one tree for all mankind. Several hundred participants are being added each day.

It opened up with a massive amount of information gathered by participants in all of the previous records, both correct and incorrect, that have been submitted through the various initiatives of the past. That information is displayed in the form of a Pedigree Chart and Detail pages of each person and family.

One of the fun parts of Family Tree is fixing it, accompanied by sources and discussions. It is making better genealogists of those who have randomly input what their mothers told them or what they thought was correct. Being able to collaborate, having a friendly and open mind attitude makes it great of course, is helping common relatives be more efficient by collaborating in their efforts. Photos and stories are being placed online. This has created great interest and enthusiasm.

I know that many resist doing their genealogy. The LDS Church feels each person has a responsibility to do the research for their ancestors. Some, mostly men and those with Pioneer heritage think that someone else has already done that. Some think it's such a mess in errors that it isn't worth the bother. Some of the older set think it's too hard to do technically, you know the computer part. They are wrong.

Here are the simple things I believe everyone can do. These are things that will connect them to this fascinating work and to Family Tree.

1- Learn how to Navigate In Family Tree. It isn't difficult. Getting a login is easy.

To get terrific help through watching videos you simply go to http://familysearchtraining.com/ These are wonderful ways to learn. Section 3 is on navigation.

2- The second thing I believe everyone should do is check out their most recent deceased parents or grandparents, even a generation or two past that. See what is on the tree about the. Check out any photos or stories you might find. Look at the sources if any that are posted. Make note of anything you think is incorrect. Just become familiar with them. I think you will like this part.

3- Add a photo of someone to the tree. Right now you can only do this with deceased people Later a living section will be added in which you designate which of your family you allow to see it. Privacy issues restrict living peoples information. Section 6 teaches you how to add photos. It's quite easy.

4- Add a story to someone. You might have a story in your head that only you can tell. You may have a relative that has stories to be told. Put them on the tree. Remember, "when an old man (or woman) dies - a library burns. Stories are what binds us to our ancestors, knowing them is knowing part of our heritage. You add stories in the similar manner to adding photos. It is quite easy. Have I said that before? Sorry.

Leave me a comment if you want suggestions.

That training site again: http://familysearchtraining.com/ 

Billion Graves Is A Kick

BillionGraves is one of the cool uses of smart phones. It is also valuable in the Genealogy World. And to add the coolness factor, your kids can join in to catch the family history experience, even some 8 year old kids.

It's a simple concept, take a photo of a headstone, upload it easily to billiongraves.com, let someone transcribe (index) it for search and watch it eventually show up on both billiongraves.com and http://familysearch.org/ You simply download their Ap, turn it on, and point and shoot.

Because of the GPS technology built into your cell phone the headstone is noted on their website within 10 feet of it's actual location. You can see it online or you can walk to it.

The Ap shows you what cemeteries have been photographed, how many have been done, and where they are. It even lists what cemeteries are nearby you how and far away from you they are.

I was with my 8 year old grandson Michael and he thought he could do this just fine. HE DID! He made his mom download the Ap to her phone so he could do it after I had gone. We did over 1000 in Ames Iowa between the two of us while we were there.

It really is a kick.

Watch out, there is a leaderboard. If you are the least bit competitive it could be a hazard to your health. I'm on it, and intend on staying there. Oh well, it's a worthy project.

Incidentally, gravestones are a pretty good source, albeit not perfect. Take a look at this picture. Can you see what is wrong?

A lot of headstones have family information, children, when married, etc. Many have family members buried righty by them. It's a good thing, and as in all family history projects, a kick in the pants.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Experience 50 Years Ago That Lives Each Independence Day

American Flags at Rockefeller Center, Viewing of Inauguration of President Barack Obama, Rockefeller Center
Since October 1962 each Independence Day reminds me of the few hours in East Berlin where I lost my freedom to the Communists. Later, that frightening evening I stood guard in a lookout tower with West German Military at the Brandenburg Gate. They shared the horrible stories of people trying to escape to freedom through huge rolls of barbed wire lit by flood lights, most only to be shot to death. Then we traveled around the wall separating East and West Berlin trying to visualize an event we had just missed, a young woman jumping from a building to awaiting relatives holding on to a blanket like a trampoline.

Ours was a voluntary loss and what happened wasn't expected. There were three of us, just released from our two year church mission to England. We had arranged to take a tour of Europe on our way home, Berlin being one of our stops. In checking into our Hotel in Berlin the desk clerk asked if we would like to take a free tour to East Berlin.  He explained that East Berlin was being rebuilt and they wanted to show it off to Americans. Young and daring,we quickly agreed and our visit was set. The rude awakening came after we crossed through Checkpoint Charlie the next morning.

We joined with about 20 others on a medium size bus. Leaving the west German side we went into the East side into a maze built of walls and sandbags. The space to drive was so small that the bus could barely turn left or right through the maze.

As we exited the maze the bus came to a stop and was boarded by East German Soldiers flashing machine guns in a threatening manner. They took our passports and wallets. They counted our money and returned only our wallets with the threat, "if you don't return with this amount of money you will not be allowed to return. Oops, what had we done? Not returning never crossed our minds. At this point I was ready to turn around, but that was now not an option. This was serious and we knew it.

We later learned their concern was that we would give money to East Berlin citizens, which they would us to buy their freedom.

They shouldn't have offered us this tour. No positive P R took place. We could even tell that some of the areas they wanted to show off were only like movie sets.

I remember they took us to a Russian Memorial. It was basically a cemetary with many large headsontes and monuments, along with numerous graves. That was to be an important part of our visit. They assigned a guide to us. Another mistake. Our guide was a sweet young woman in her early 20's. Her story was a sad one. She was visiting friends when the wall went up. She was separated from her family by the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She told us that she was able to receive an occasional letter and a rare package from her family, no more. It was hard to imagine.

The Russian memorial offered no inspiration, just sadness and a gratitude for our America.

Treptower Park Soviet War Memorial, East Berlin, June 1964
Russian Memorial
A few hours later we returned sullen and humble to Checkpoint Charlie, with our wallets, our passports, and our hope we would be able to return to the West. We had made sure that we did bring back all of our money.

That night, stunned by our experience behind the iron curtain we took a taxi to the Brandenburg  Gate. This was where the main thoroughfare between East and West had been cut off. We just wanted a ride to the wall and ponder. The wall at this place was an area that focused on about 1000 feet of land, part of the main. It now was covered with huge rolls of thick barbed wire. The rolls were about as high and round as a truck in size extending into the dark area we could not see. I am remembering there were 7 of these rolls with about 45 feet of empty space between each. It was hard to imagine driving a car through any one of these rolls, let alone 7 of them, but that is what many tried to do, with a rare few making it.

Our taxi driver told us it would be OK to join the West German guards in the lookout. He assured us that he would return in a couple of hours to take us back to our hotel.
The West German soldiers did invite us up to be with them. It was dark, except for the floodlights from the East side, making the area of the now blocked off road as visible as if it were daytime. We looked down from the tower, about 20 feet high, across the floodlighted area to see groups of East German soldiers armed to prevent anyone from escaping.

These West German soldiers were anxious to share that many had tried in vain to cross through this area. One man had strapped himself under a car and had the accelerator bolted down by a friend, set to speed through the wire. He didn't make it, he didn't live.

Another had leaded his entire car to be bullet proof. That worked, but the car stalled in the barbed wire. He was shot on the spot.

Berlin Wall 1973Berlin WallBerlin wallThe Wall was different that we might have imagined. In some parts it was large buildings with the windows boarded. Other parts were like concrete, parts were wire fences.

Later, we traveled by taxi around much of the wall separating East and West Berlin. We discussed the event we had just missed, that young woman jumping from a building to awaiting relatives holding on to a blanket like a trampoline.  - only to be shot to death in mid air. What a tragedy for that family, all for freedom.

Yes, stories became real and Freedom became precious. As I consider this Country, our gift of living here, our gift of Freedom to Choose, I want each of you to know that I love this Country. I am grateful to our founding fathers who fought so hard for liberty, to set up a Republic based on principles. I believe they were inspired of God. I believe that we who have inherited this Freedom will only maintain it as we live by the principles of our founding Patriot fathers.

As I am doing genealogy research into Ireland in the 1760  era, trying to find Patrick Cragun and his parents I learn how tragic it was living in their time, in Ireland. The brutality of the British Crown was inhumane and horrible. Our grandfather Patrick was born in a time of starvation caused by the behavior of the King of England. The potato famine of 100 years early was almost identical in disaster as what Patrick was born into.

No wonder at age 15, he was willing to run away with 40 others, leaving his parents forever, braving the challenges involved, to taste the freedom promised by the stories of America. Our immigrant ancestors came here for a reason. I wonder if we as their children appreciate what they gave us.

Patrick lived here when England began to exercise the same type of control over our Country as they had endured in Ireland. The love of Freedom and the commitment to remain free, coupled with the spirit of our Irish ancestors led to what we are blessed with today. Patrick is said to have been in the Boston Tea Party, a stand against taxation by the British government. Many of those in the Boston Tea Party, a resounding and insulting event to the Crown, where those Irish who fled tyranny, unwilling to suffer the same experiences here, were willing to go to War and fight to their death to protect this freedom.

I pray that neither I or any of my children give up that freedom. I say that, as I believe the same God that inspired and supported our ancestors, offers as a part of freedom the right to choose our own destinies. It is my belief that he, as in times past, in this day will let us choose how we are governed. In ancient Rome the majority of the people turned an empire into history. That could happen now, if the majority of our citizens allow it to or choose it to be that we turn our backs on our founding principles, the key foundation being our God and our Constitution.

In conclusion, I sincerley believe this Country is a blessed land. I believe the majority of our people, who carry the genetics of our forefathers, will as they did, love their Country enough to stand up for liberty. We may not have to fight at Lexington or Concord, but in our own ways we will have to fight to preserve what we were given, Libery.