Posts By Dick Eastman

The Origins of the Melungeons

Melungeon_family“Melungeon” is a term applied to many people of the Southeastern United States, mainly in the Cumberland Gap area of central Appalachia: East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and East Kentucky. The most common adjective used to describe the Melungeons is “mysterious;” no one seems to know where the Melungeons originated. The Melungeons often did not fit into any of the racial categories that define an individual or group within American society; their neighbors considered them neither white, black, nor Indian.

The Melungeons appear to be of mixed ancestry, and contradictory claims about the origins of these people have existed for centuries. Most modern-day descendants of Melungeon families are generally Caucasian in appearance, often, although not always, with dark hair and eyes, and a swarthy or olive complexion. Descriptions of Melungeons vary widely from observer to observer, from “Middle Eastern” to “Native American” to “light-skinned African American.”

Hotel Reservations Open for the FGS 2016 Conference in Springfield, Illinois

The following announcement was written by the folks at the Federation of Genealogical Societies:

November 19, 2015 – Austin, TX – Two Springfield, Illinois hotels are now taking reservations for The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 2016 Conference, “Time Travel: Centuries of Memories,” which will be held August 31 – September 3, 2016 at the Prairie Capital Convention Center.


The Wyndham Springfield City Centre (formerly the Hilton Springfield) and The President Abraham Lincoln Springfield (a DoubleTree hotel by Hilton) will offer reduced rates to attendees of the FGS 2016 Conference. Each hotel is conveniently located near the Prairie Capital Convention Center and each hotel will offer a courtesy bus from the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport and Amtrak station.

LXLE: A full-featured Operating System for an Aging PC

If you have an aging Windows computer that just can’t keep up with today’s Windows programs, you have three choices:

  1. Live with the problem
  2. Spend lots of money to purchase a new PC
  3. Replace your old Windows operating system with a new one, designed to run on older, lower-powered computers.

If you select option #3, you probably will soon be looking at a number of solutions based on Linux or Chromebook operating systems. One version of the Linux operating system you should consider is LXLE. It is an easy-to-use operating system, designed for computer novices as well as experienced Windows users who don’t want to spend money for a more powerful system.

LXLE_screenshot_2 Files a Trademark Case Against DNA Diagnostics Center for the Marketing of “AncestryByDNA”

DNA expert CeCe Moore has written about a trademark infringement law suit involving DNA testing that has been filed in the Ohio Southern District Court in Cincinnati. The article may be found in CeCe’s Your Genetic Genealogist blog at

Help Wanted: Brand Manager at Eneclann in Dublin

Want to live in or near Dublin, Ireland? Are you an experienced team manager? Do you have experience in customer service, especially in the heritage/education sector? Do you have at least 2 years’ experience in content or website management? If so, you will be interested in the help wanted ad at

Amazon’s $49.99 7-inch Fire Tablet Computer to be Available for $34.99

A few weeks ago, I wrote a Plus Edition article about my experiences with Amazon’s new $49.99 7-inch Fire Tablet Computer that runs a modified version of the Android operating system. That article is still available at A Plus Edition user name and password is needed to read the article.

Now that same tablet will soon be available at an even lower price: $34.99.

Amazon will be offering a number of “Black Friday” specials, including one on the Fire Tablet. However, Amazon’s version of “Black Friday” will not be continuous. Sale prices will appear and disappear at various times for several days. Details may be found in an article by Sarah Mitroff in the C|Net web site at

New FamilySearch Collections Update: November 9, 2015

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

Nearly half a million more free records were added to the Billions Graves Index this week. Russia Tatarstan Church Books 1721-1939Minnesota Duluth and Wisconsin Superior Crew Lists 1922-1958Poland Evangelical Church Books 1700-2005, and the US Freedmen’s Bureau Hospital and Marriage Records also have significant additions. For these and more, follow the links below.

(+) Hands On with the new iPad Pro

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

If Donald Trump were here, he probably would say, “It’s hu-u-u-uge.”

iPadPro-1Apple started shipping the new iPad Pro last week. I ordered one in the morning of the first day and specified that I wanted to pick it up at a local Apple Store. About 20 minutes later, I received a text message saying that the iPad Pro was ready for pickup. I was in the store a few minutes later and walked out with a very large iPad Pro under my arm.

This article gives my first impressions of using it, including running a couple of genealogy apps on the new tablet’s 12.9-inch Retina display (I’ll round that number up a fraction and call it a 13-inch display). This display screen is 2 inches larger than that of the MacBook Air laptop computer I have been using for several years. Not only is the display large, it is also very high resolution at 2732 by 2048 pixels. Apple uses the term “Retina display” as a marketing concept for their high-resolution LCD displays, the idea being that a display has “Retina” quality if the human eye can’t distinguish between individual pixels anymore at a typical viewing distance. This Retina display produces super-sharp images, almost as good as a painting hanging on the wall. The difference is that this “painting” provides full-motion video.

Progeny Genealogy Adds RTF Output Format Option to Reports

I have written several times in the past about the beautiful charts produced by Progeny Software’s products. (See for my past articles.) Now the company has added Rich Text Format (RTF) to the available options for output. Now you can now save Ancestor, Descendant, Hourglass and Bowtie charts in RTF format, to view in a word processing document. The Progeny Genealogy web site (at states:

The benefits of RTF are:

Pulitzer Prize Winning Biographer, Historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, to keynote RootsTech 2016

The following announcement was written by the folks at RootsTech:

(SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—November 4, 2015)—RootsTech, the largest family history conference in the world, announced Doris Kearns Goodwin has joined its lineup of keynote speakers. Goodwin, a world-renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will speak at the RootsTech general session on Saturday, February 6, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Goodwin will share her insights into the personal and family lives of past presidential leaders and the influence their ancestors had on their personalities, behavior, decisions, and careers. She will also share anecdotes about her own family and experiences which have shaped and influenced her life

Goodwin has been hailed by New York magazine as “America’s historian-in-chief” for her in-depth scrutiny into the lives, actions, and family influences of America’s presidents, and the history of the country. She provided extensive subject matter expertise for PBS and the History Channel’s documentaries on the Kennedy family, LBJ, Franklin Roosevelt, Abraham and Mary Lincoln, and Ken Burns’ The History of Baseball and The History of The Civil War. She also worked with Steven Spielberg on the movie Lincoln, based in part on Goodwin’s award-winning Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Thomasville (Georgia) Genealogical Library to Relocate to Thomas University

Thomas University’s Main Campus will soon be the home of the Thomasville Genealogical, History and Fine Arts Library. Formerly located on Broad Street in downtown Thomasville, the library will be relocated to the Eugenia P. Smitha Building on TU’s Main Campus at the intersection of Pinetree Boulevard and Millpond Road.

Harvard’s Digital Portrait of Colonial Life

Harvard University has launched a new website called the Colonial North American Project. It includes 150,000 images of diaries, journals, notebooks, and other rare documents from the 17th and 18th centuries. Many more documents are planned to be added in the coming months.


Part of the University’s endeavor to digitize all its collections and make them available free of charge, the Colonial North American Project contains material scattered throughput 12 repositories — from Houghton Library to the Harvard University Archives to Loeb Music Library. When complete, the project will make available to the world digitized images of all known archival and manuscript materials in the Harvard Library that relate to 17th and 18th century North America. These documents reveal a great deal about topics such as social life, education, trade, finance, politics, revolution, war, women, Native American life, slavery, science, medicine, and religion.

Troy Irish Genealogy Website adds Death Notices Appearing in Troy, NY Newspapers 1797 – 1860

The following is an extract of a message received from Bill McGrath of the Troy Irish Genealogy Society:

An index to 6,198 death notices that were published in five different Troy, New York newspapers from 1797 to 1860 was created by staff at the Troy Public Library in 1938.

The Troy Irish Genealogy Society was allowed by the Troy Library to scan the Death Records book so these important records could be made available on-line for genealogy researchers.

(+) Using a GPS for Genealogy

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

Our ancestors had to go to some extreme measures to keep from getting lost. They erected monumental landmarks, laboriously drafted detailed maps, and learned to read the stars in the night sky.

handheld-gpsThings are much easier today. You can now purchase a pocket-sized gadget that will tell you exactly where you are on Earth at any moment. In fact, you might already own such a device only you call it a cell phone. As long as you have a GPS receiver and an unobstructed view of the sky, you’ll never be lost again.

Geographic coordinates are useful for a couple of genealogical purposes. First of all, it is rather easy to find exact latitude and longitude of a cemetery on the U.S. government’s GNIS database and then to find those coordinates on a good map of the area. However, with the use of a high-tech device, you can also easily obtain real-time instructions on how to drive directly to that cemetery.

Two Women, Same Name, Same Date of Birth, Same Social Security Number

If you find that someone else is using your Social Security Number, the first thing you think of is identity theft. However, that’s not always true. Ask two different women in Florida. Joanna Rivera and Joannie Rivera only recently discovered the problem, according to a report this week, but in the meantime it’s caused no end of trouble for them. Credit applications have been denied; tax returns have been rejected.

1990, two Florida hospitals created the same record for two babies with similar first names, the same last name and the same date of birth, and the administration gave them both the same Social Security number.

Think Your Immigrant Ancestors Came Here Legally? Think Again.

An article by Brian Donohue, recently re-published in the web site, will interest many genealogists, especially in light of the political issues in the Presidential campaigns that are receiving a lot of publicity lately. Donahue points out that a high percentage of America’s immigrants have arrived illegally for the past 150 years or more. Most of them stayed, raised families, and the immigrants and their descendants have contributed greatly to America’s industrial might, military strength, culture, and more.


Donohue writes:

“The images burned into our brains of previous immigration waves come largely from newsreels and photos of immigrants disembarking at Ellis Island, one at a time, orderly, legally.

“There’s one problem with the argument. It’s utter hogwash.”

Findmypast Adds More Online Records

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

This week’s Findmypast Friday marks the release of over 1.3 million military records from the UK, US and Australia. These latest additions include UK memorial rolls containing highly detailed biographies and photographic portraits, conscription tribunal records from the English county of Surrey, over 1 million US army pension cards and Australian soldier settlements from the State of Victoria.

Veterans Administration Pension payment cards, 1907-1933

Veterans Administration Pension payment cards, 1907-1933, contains over 1.3 million records. Since the American Revolution, congress has been involved in offering pensions for disabled soldiers and in the 1800s the government expanded them to cover veterans’ widows and dependents.

Booze in Colonial America

“Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Wine is necessary for life.” – Thomas Jefferson

“My manner of living is plain…a glass of wine and a bit of mutton.” – George Washington


According to many historians, the American Revolution was built on a foundation of booze. Our ancestors imbibed frequently, often every day. It is estimated that there were more taverns per capita than any other business in colonial America. In fact, the Colonial Williamsburg web site says:

Colonial Americans, at least many of them, believed alcohol could cure the sick, strengthen the weak, enliven the aged, and generally make the world a better place. They tippled, toasted, sipped, slurped, quaffed, and guzzled from dawn to dark.

Libraries and Archives Canada Updates Naturalization Records Database

The Library and Archives Canada Blog has announced:

Naturalization_RecordsLibrary and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the release of a new version of the online database Naturalization Records, 1915-1951. The nominal index has been extended with the addition of more than 68,000 names and now covers the years from 1915 to 1944, inclusively. Work is ongoing to extend the nominal index to 1951, and volunteers are welcome to help. Those interested should write to

The $99 Chromebook

I have written often about the advantages of Chromebooks, the low-cost laptop computers designed primarily for use with the cloud. (See for a list of my past articles about Chromebooks.) Now we will see the lowest-priced (so far) Chromebook on Black Friday.

CB3-111_White_nontouchBlack Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the US, a day when retailers offer a number of very low prices on their products in an effort to entice Christmas shoppers into their stores in hopes they will purchase the sale-priced item and more. Best Buy reportedly will offer the Acer Chromebook with an 11.6-inch display, Intel Celeron processor, 2 gigabytes of RAM memory, and 16 gigabytes of built-in storage. The price will be just $99, or $60 less than its normal price.


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