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How NOT to Clean a Tombstone for Find-A-Grave

Here is a sad bit of news: A man is suspected of damaging several historic graves with a wire brush recently at the New Providence Presbyterian Church on Stoney Point Road in Surgoinsville, Tennessee. He apparently used a wire brush to make the engravings on the tombstones easier to read. Now here is the worst part: he was “cleaning” the tombstones so that he could take pictures to be posted on Find-A-Grave.com!

Aaaarrrggghhh!

On July 15, church committee member Bill Davidson reported to the Surgoinsville Police Department that several tombstones had been “scrubbed” — possibly with a wire brush — causing damage to the old stones. The dark stain that builds up on tombstones over time was scrubbed clean in streaks over the engravings, and in some cases the engravings were rubbed almost smooth — to the point that the words are no longer legible. Davidson stated that some of the damaged tombstones date back to the 1700s, and some belong to Civil War veterans.

AncestryDNA Matching Update Impacts Jewish Ancestry

The following is an extract from a new announcement posted on the Ancestry.com Blog:

AncestryDNA customers with significant Jewish ancestry have witnessed the challenges that we and other genetic genealogy testing companies have faced when predicting genetic relatives. Most Jewish customers find that we predict them to be related to nearly every other Jewish customer in the database! So while we all know that the cousin matches for Jewish and some Hispanic customers were over-estimates, detecting which cousin matches were real and which ones were bogus has always been a challenge for these populations.

More Than 100,000 North West Kent Burial Records Dating Back to 1686 Released Today on FindMyPast

Good news for anyone with Kent ancestors: 30,000 more North West Kent parish burial records for Gravesend released today on Findmypast. Spanning the years 1686 to 1983, the new records comprise transcripts of burial registers compiled by the North West Kent Family History Society.

The new Gravesend records join details of burials that took place around Charlton, Darenth, Dartford, Northfleet and Greenwich, which until 1899 was part of Kent. Together they include the inmates of several asylums, both those which were dedicated to the care of the mentally ill and those that cared for the sick and infirm.

You can read the full details in the FindMyPast.co.uk web site at http://goo.gl/YIvzx6.

Records for 200+ Aberdeenshire Council Burial Sites now on Deceased Online

The following announcement was written by the folks at Deceased Online:

Deceased Online has now completed the digitsation of all burial records for Scotland’s 4th largest council region, Aberdeenshire.

The collection comprises 200+ sites across the area in North East Scotland which includes nearly 250,000 burials/interments with around 600,000 records and data items.

The records comprise scans of registers and grave details identifying all those buried in each lair. Some cemetery section maps are also available and more will follow soon.

It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files

BackUpYourGenealogyFilesIt is the first day of the month. It’s time to back up your genealogy files. Then test your backups!

Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files at least on the first day of every month, if not more often.

(+) Is the Smartphone Becoming the PC Replacement?

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

91% of all adults in the U.S. now have cell phones, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. (Details may be found at http://goo.gl/nwNBuP.) That’s more than the number of people who own computers.

Basic cell phones only place and receive telephone calls. Others add cameras. However, the real growth area lies with the intelligent cell phones that have built-in computer functionality. These are typically called “smartphones.” Let’s examine these.

This Week’s Who Do You Think You Are? Episode is Now Available on iTunes

If you missed Wednesday evenings episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Jesse Tyler Ferguson, you can now watch it online on iTunes for $2.99.

Make Your own Pinhole Camera

Take a step back in time! You might want to help your grandchildren build this so that you can explain “this is how we used to do it in the good old days!” Then again, maybe not. They may think you are older than you really are. Well, it will also teach them about physics.

A pinhole camera is a simple camera that uses a single small aperture – a pinhole – instead of a lens. As light passes through this hole, an image is exposed onto the film loaded inside the camera. Exposure times are typically longer than with a normal lensed camera, due to the aperture being so much smaller. This means that pinhole cameras can typically take anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of hours to expose a photograph. Because of these long exposures the shutter is usually manually operated. Pinhole cameras were very popular back when photography first became popular for in-home use.

World War One: Every Man Remembered Database Launched

The Royal British Legion is working with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to keep alive the memory of those who fell in the First World War, for future generations. The goal is to commemorate every man and woman from across the Commonwealth who fell. A total of 1,117,077 service personnel from what was then the British Empire died in the war, which began in 1914.

The Every Man Remembered database allows anyone to commemorate relatives or someone they knew, or find a person for whom no-one has yet left a tribute. The legion called it the “greatest act of remembrance” to mark the centenary. Once you have made your decision on who you wish to remember, you can then commemorate them with a personal dedication and if you make a donation to The Royal British Legion, you will receive a special commemorative certificate.

Hey, I’ve Been Interviewed!

Let me engage in a bit of shameless self-promotion. I have recently been interviewed by two other bloggers/writers and both interviews are now available online.

The first is an interview by Brittni Hayes published in The StoryCall Blog at http://goo.gl/M0bBvX. We talked about “user contributed information [that] is chock-full of fairy tales” and also about the use of DNA in genealogy.

Genealogical Society Asks for Springfield, Ohio, Historic Cemetery to be Upgraded

The Clark County Genealogical Society wants to upgrade the Old Columbia Street Cemetery in Springfield, believed to be the oldest cemetery in Clark County, but city leaders say money is currently not available for the project. Genealogical Society Vice President Bob Hulsizer asked city commissioners at last week’s meeting to consider spending approximately $150,000 on the 211-year-old cemetery, which is owned and maintained by the city. It’s located on West Columbia Street, between Center Avenue and Wittenberg Avenue.

City officials are willing to work on the project. However, they say funding is limited due to budget restraints.

Who Do You Think You Are? Features Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Tonight’s episode of the U.S. version of Who Do You Think You Are? featured Jesse Tyler Ferguson, an American actor known for portraying Mitchell Pritchett on the ABC sitcom, Modern Family. He has earned 5 nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. However, he knew little about his family history. In the first part of the program, Jesse states that he wanted to fill out his “family stump” to convert it into a family tree. He started by interviewing his own father in his home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The program’s professional genealogists undoubtedly traced all of Jesse’s ancestors they could find earlier; but featuring all of them on one program would have resulted in a show that was many, many hours too long. Instead, the producers selected the most interesting person they could find in the family tree and focused on him.

Jesse’s great-grandfather was Jesse Wheat Uppercu. Jesse Tyler Ferguson always knew that he was named after his grandmother, but he did not know that she had been named after her father, the younger Jesse’s great-grandfather. The older Jesse had a long and illustrious career but not all of it was upstanding.

The Future of Second Site, a Program for Publishing Genealogy Data

Yesterday’s announcement that Wholly Genes Software would discontinue development and support of The Master Genealogist (TMG) has created all sorts of questions. Some of the questions concern the future of Second Site, a popular program used to publish genealogy data on the World Wide Web. Until now, Second Site has been a program that extracts data from TMG and then builds gorgeous-looking personal web sites that show a person’s or family’s family tree. Now that TMG is going to slowly go away, what should users of Second Site plan on using for their web publishing efforts?

John Cardinal, the software developer of Second Site, answered that question today with a brief statement. Essentially, he said that Second Site would continue as a viable product; he will keep the present capability to import data from TMG but will also add the capability of importing data from a GEDCOM file. You can read his statement in the comments section following the TMG announcement at http://blog.eogn.com/2014/07/29/the-master-genealogist-to-be-discontinued.

I see this as great news.

Historians Work to Preserve New England Church Records Of Early American Life

Now, in a regionwide scavenger hunt, James Fenimore Cooper Jr. and Margaret Bendroth are rummaging through New England church basements and attics, file cabinets, safes and even coat closets, searching for records of early American life. The historians are racing against frequent church closings, occasional fires, and a more mundane but not uncommon peril: the actual loss of documents, which most often occurs when a church elder dies and no one can remember the whereabouts of historical papers. The records, especially those that are not bound into books, are often in poor shape.

The Master Genealogist to be Discontinued

Sad news! The following announcement was made today by Bob Velke, the owner of Wholly Genes, Inc.:

I am sad to report that the decision has been made to discontinue The Master Genealogist (“TMG”).

While thousands of TMG users appreciate the program’s many powerful features that are unmatched in other software, the market for those advanced features has proved to be insufficient to support the infrastructure that is necessary to support it and continue development. A variety of my own health issues have also contributed to this decision as I have fewer opportunities to focus on the things that would be necessary to develop and market the program.

There is every reason to believe that TMG will continue to work for existing users for the foreseeable future but official support will end at the end of 2014, although we may release some more bug fixes (but no new features) before that. In the interest of those who may want to communicate their data to family members or upgrade to the latest release, we will continue to sell the full product and updates through September with the understanding that product development has been discontinued.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson Retraces the Alaskan Trail on “Who Do You Think You Are?”

On Wednesday’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are (WDYTYA), Jesse Tyler Ferguson will look for information on his ancestors. Jesse is known for portraying Mitchell Pritchett on the ABC sitcom Modern Family, a role that has garnered him 5 Emmy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor.

Jesse ends up following the path of his great-grandfather took on the Alaskan trail in 1898. It appears that the expedition was part by boat and part by pack horse. It was at that time when many people were headed to Alaska because of the discovery of gold. Temperatures in Alaska can and did change quickly dooming many expeditions of people who were no prepared for the trip.

WDYTYA airs at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central.

You can watch a video about this week’s episode at http://goo.gl/e7QJyB or in the video player below:

Online Webinars in Spanish with Daniel Horowitz

On Saturday, August 2, beginning at 1 pm Mountain Daylight Time, the Family History Library will hold two online webinars in Spanish with Daniel Horowitz, the Chief Genealogist of MyHeritage. The first class which begins at 1 will be Saque el máximo provecho de MyHeritage (Getting the Most out of MyHeritage) followed at 3 pm by ¿Cómo involucrar a los niños en la investigación familiar? (How to Get Kids Involved in Family History).

In the 1 pm class Saque el máximo provecho de MyHeritage or “Getting the Most out of MyHeritage” you will learn how to build a family tree on MyHeritage.com. He will also talk about how to enter details, upload images, use facial recognition technology to tag people, and how to invite and share information with family members. MyHeritage has functions that will benefit your research including SmartMatching and RecordMatching. Join us online or in the Family History Library and learn how to use these two powerful tools to help you discover your family information and collaborate with others around the world.

Uploading Your Content To Wikimedia Commons Just Got Easier

Does your genealogy society, historical society, or local museum want to share their holdings with the public? Wikimedia Commons has been available for some time for that purpose. Best of all, Wikimedia Commons is a free service for all: free to the organization that uploads information and free to anyone who visits. However, uploading holdings to Wikimedia Commons has been a somewhat complex task in the past, requiring a significant amount of technical expertise. That has now changed. Minimal technical expertise is now required, thanks to some new software tools available.

Territorial Court Records to Remain in Alaska

In March, the National Archives and Records Administration announced the closure of its Anchorage facility. The research room was planned to close in June and the rest of facility will close permanently in September. The original plan said that all records held in the Anchorage facility were set to be transferred to Seattle — which had many Alaskans upset. A compromise has now been reached between the National Archives and Alaska State Archive: 92 percent of the Territorial Court Record Holdings will instead be moved to the Alaska State Archives.

Remove Text Formatting When Copying-and-Pasting

Have you ever copied some text from a web page or a document and then wanted to paste it as simple text into another application without getting all the formatting from the original source? It can be a problem. Simple copying-and-pasting of formatted text often inserts extra “garbage characters” into the output. In fact, there is a simple solution. Simple, that is, if you know about it.

The problem arises when copying and pasting formatted text from one application to another. It doesn’t always work as you’d expect. For instance, you might copy a few lines from a web page and then want to paste it to Facebook. Surprise! All sorts of “unwanted characters” may appear. The same might happen if you are copying text from a word processing document or from a PDF file and you wish to paste it into an email message.

The unwanted characters typically are formatting commands built into the originating program. The problem is that not all programs use the same formatting commands. For example, what might be a command to “use bold text” in one program could insert curly braces {} into the receiving program.

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