Friday, April 27, 2012

Moving Day

No, I am not moving again. God knows I have moved enough in the last two years, going from Louisiana to North Carolina and then back to Louisiana. I did, however, recently move my genealogy files. I was a little nervous about it, but it was time. My old laptop was a four-year-old Dell Inspiron 1501. I was using about 51 of the 52.7 GB hard drive. I was constantly getting messages about low disk space. I was getting tired of emptying my Recycle Bin and performing Disk Cleanups. I couldn't even perform a Disk De-fragment because I didn't have enough disk space. And have I mentioned how painfully slow it was? Well, it was PAINFULLY slow. It only had 896 MB of RAM (not even a whole GB!).

So, instead of waiting until it crashed and having a meltdown over the potential loss of genealogy files, I decided to start looking at new laptops about a week ago. I do backup my genealogy files nightly to Mozy, but I would still be paranoid if my computer crashed. In the past, I have always bought new computers from Dell's website, but I decided that we should buy it at Best Buy because we could get one on our Best Buy card with 18 months of no interest (this is the accountant in me). Dell's financing plan wasn't as great. Before I went to the store, I decided to do some research (i.e. talked to my IT wizard brother). He told me to get at least 750 GB of hard drive. I wasn't sure how much RAM I needed. RAM affects the speed of a computer. I read that 8 GB is suggested for gamers (which I am not), while most people just need 4 GB to surf the Internet. But I often have five programs open at one time, especially when doing genealogy research (about 90% of why I even have a computer in the first place). When I asked my brother about RAM, he said he would never recommend less RAM. When I looked at prices, 8 GB really didn't cost that much more than 4 or 6 GB. I finally settled on a Toshiba P755-S5120. It has 750 GB of hard drive, 8 GB of RAM, and an i7 processor, which according to my brother, is the best consumer processor out there. So far, I have been extremely pleased with it. It is SUPER FAST. So, how did I migrate my files and programs?

Well, first I decided to try out Dropbox. I had seen numerous posts on other genealogy blogs singing the praises of Dropbox. At first, I thought I didn't need it because I had Mozy, but then I realized that it is a little different than a backup service. Dropbox is more of a syncing service that allows you to access your files from multiple computers, smartphones, and tablets. If you open a file, make changes, and then save it on one device, it will then be synced with the other devices. It also allows you to share files with friends and family. Since Dropbox syncs files with multiple devices, I figured it would be a great tool for migrating my files from one computer to another.

To test it out, I created an account and downloaded the Dropbox software on my old laptop, which placed a Dropbox folder in my My Documents folder. I then moved the pictures that I had scanned from my maternal grandmother's photo album collection into the Dropbox folder. I chose these files for testing because I would eventually like to share them with my family members once I get them more organized. Also, there were a few of them linked to people in my RootsMagic database, but not that many of them were linked, so I figured it wouldn't cause too many broken links by moving them. Once I moved them to the Dropbox folder, the photos immediately began syncing with my online Dropbox account. There were well over 1,000 photos, so this took quite some time to sync (probably about 8 hours). Once they synced, I could then access them from any computer by logging into my Dropbox account. I also downloaded the Dropbox app on my husband's iPad and on my iPhone, so that I could access the files on those devices as well. I have to say that it was pretty neat to look at pics from 1960 on my iPhone. Another great feature was that I was able to upload the pics from my iPhone camera directly into my Dropbox account, which then synced them to my old laptop. Pretty neat and quick for transferring files. No need for a USB cord to connect my phone to my laptop.

Once I tested it out and decided I liked the feel of Dropbox, I got braver and moved my Genealogy folder from My Documents to the Dropbox folder. The Genealogy folder holds most of my scanned documents, reports, blank forms, educational handouts, and even my RootsMagic database. I was concerned because I typically link the scanned documents to my source citations in RootsMagic, and by moving the files, I was worried about having to change all the broken links. However, because I moved a whole folder and did not change individual file names, I was able to easily use the Search and Replace tool in RootsMagic to change the links. With this tool, I basically told RootsMagic to change multimedia filename paths beginning with C:\Users\Jen\My Documents\Genealogy to C:\Users\Jen\My Documents\Dropbox\Genealogy. However, if you really don't want to physically move any files into the Dropbox folder, you can use symbolic links to sync a file or folder with Dropbox. All you have to do is download the Dropbox Folder Sync add-on to create symbolic links. The add-on allows you to right-click on any file or folder on your hard drive and select "Sync with Dropbox" from the menu. (This is what I had to do with my music files because I wasn't sure if iTunes had a great Search and Replace feature like RootsMagic. I didn't want to re-link my music files one by one). If you do move your genealogy database into the Dropbox folder, don't forget that the next time you open the database program, you will have to redirect the program to open the file from its new location within the Dropbox folder. And don't forget to tell your backup service (i.e. Mozy) to backup the new Dropbox folder.

Now that I had all of my most pertinent files in Dropbox, and Mozy was set to backup the Dropbox folder, it was time to take the plunge and get a new computer. Once I got my new laptop, before downloading Dropbox, the first thing I did was download all of my genealogy software programs and a few other software programs onto the computer from their original CDs or from the vendors' websites using my registration key (it's good to keep these handy). I then downloaded Dropbox onto the new computer. When installing, it asked me if I already had a Dropbox account. I then input my Dropbox username and password. Once I did this, the Dropbox folder was again placed in my Documents folder and immediately, the files saved in the Dropbox folder on my old laptop started downloading into the Dropbox folder onto my new laptop. Pretty sweet! No flash drives or external hard drive needed. Amazingly, there were over 8,000 files, and it only took about 12 hours.

Once the files were downloaded, I tried opening all of my major genealogy files (Legacy, RootsMagic, and FamilyTreeMaker (FTM) databases). The only snafu seemed to be with my FTM file. The CD I downloaded the program from stated it was version 3.4. I thought I had a newer version, but I wasn't sure because I couldn't find a CD for a newer version. When I tried to open the actual database (.ftw file), it told me that my file had been created with a newer version of FTM and that I needed to upgrade. Well, I don't even use FTM on a regular basis, so I checked my old laptop, and yes, I was using FTM 2006. Obviously, I've misplaced the CD containing the FTM 2006 installation file. At first I thought I would need to buy a new version of FTM to open the file, but I really didn't want to spend $60 or more on a program I only use to view my original family file. (When I switched from FTM to Legacy in 2008, I decided to start fresh since much of the info in my FTM file was unsourced. I mainly just use the FTM file for clues to pursue further research, much like I use an unsourced family tree found online). Then I realized that since my old laptop with FTM 2006 installed on it was still alive and well (albeit slow and running out of disk space), I could just create a GEDCOM of my FTM 2006 file and import that into RootsMagic on my new laptop. Duh! This seems to have worked well, and I like viewing the file in RootsMagic better anyhow.

So, that is my genealogy file migration story. I would highly recommend using Dropbox if you buy a new computer and want to transfer files. For now, I am leaving my files in Dropbox. This way, I will have them backed up to Mozy and in my Dropbox account. It gives me an extra feeling of comfort that my files are backed up in two places. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Indexing Progress Update

Well, even though I spent almost the entire day filing taxes and freaking out about how much we had to pay now that I'm self-employed, I managed to relax and get in some indexing. (You would think that because I am an accountant, I would have had a better idea how much taxes we owed, but I never feel like dealing with my own taxes until I have to). Since the release of the 1940 census on April 2, I've managed to index 1,280 names. My goal is to do 2,400 by the end of the month. My accuracy rate is 99%. I've heard of quite a few others having arbitrators who incorrectly arbitrate their answers, but I've only had a problem with one arbitrator blatantly putting the wrong answer, so for the most part, I think 99% is fair. I learned a neat little trick from the RootsMagic webinars hosted by DearMyrtle: to adjust your highlights and index vertically. It sure does make the process go faster.

I initially was just indexing from the highest priority states, but when Louisiana became available the second or third day, I decided to start indexing there as well. I grew up in Louisiana, and there sure are some unique names here, particularly in South Louisiana. I have seen them indexed horribly at in the past, so I wanted to make sure I got to index some of those batches. It helps when you are familiar with the names. I just hope the arbitrators are from here too, or they may end up incorrectly arbitrating my answers. When Michigan became available on Friday, I started to index there as well, since my mom is from there. However, I've recently decided that I want to index at least one batch from each state, so I've been working on that goal for the past two days. Here is what I have so far:

Lewes, Sussex, Delaware - 1 page
3rd Rep. District, Kent, Delaware - 1 page

Denver, Denver, Colorado (Playmore Hotel) - 1 page
Durango, LaPlata, Colorado - 1 page

Gretna, Jefferson, Louisiana - 1 page
Ward 10, West Feliciana, Louisiana - 2 pages
Dodson, Winn, Louisiana - 1 page
Ansley, Jackson, Louisiana - 1 page
Westwego, Jefferson, Louisiana - 1 page
Kenner, Jefferson, Louisiana - 1 page
Hathaway, Jeff Davis, Louisiana - 2 pages
Jonesboro, Jackson, Louisiana - 1 page
Police Jury Ward 1 (outside Eros village), Jackson, Louisiana - 1 page
Lafayette, Lafayette, Louisiana - 2 pages

Hays, Ellis, Kansas - 1 page
Almena, Norton, Kansas - 1 page
Topeka, Shawnee, Kansas - 1 page

Portland, Multnomah, Oregon - 1 page

Charles City, Virginia - 1 page
Reed Creek, Henry, Virginia - 1 page
Glade Spring District, Washington, Virginia - 1 page
Charlottesville, Albemarle, Virginia - 1 page
Richmond, Henrico, Virginia - 1 page

Otsego, Allegan, Michigan - 1 page

Roosevelt, Duchesne, Utah - 1 page

Hudson Center, Hillsborough, New Hampshire - 1 page

Greentown, Howard, Indiana - 1 page

Rexburg, Madison, Idaho - 1 page

Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona - 1 page

Once I get at least one page from each state, I plan to go back to the highest priority and Louisiana and Michigan.

Here is a link to the map I've been using to track my progress at Google Maps:

View My 1940 Census Indexing Progress in a larger map

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Maternal Grandmother in 1940

1940 U.S. census, Sanilac County, Michigan, population schedule, Flynn Township, enumeration district (ED) 15, sheet 6B, family 119, Archie Currie household; digital images, 1940 Census ( : accessed 2 April 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 1818.
Last but not least, I found my maternal grandmother, Violet Mae Currie, in 1940. She was living on Aitken Road in Flynn Township, Sanilac, Michigan, with her widowed father, Archie. Violet's mother, Jennie Grace Christina (Plaine) Currie, had died in 1937. This appears to be the same house that Archie lived in when he died. His death certificate from 1963 gives his address as 2301 Aitken Road. Archie was listed as a 49-year-old farmer, but according to his birth certificate he was born 2 Nov 1889. This would have made him 50. My grandma always said he was a little sensitive about his age. It appears that sometime in the 1920s or so, he started shaving at least a year off his age. In fact, his death certificate gives his birth date as 2 Nov 1891. His birthplace is correctly given as Michigan in the 1940 census. My grandma's age and birthplace are correct. She is listed as 9 years old and born in Michigan. She was born 24 Oct 1930. Other than two siblings who died in early childhood before 1930, Violet was an only child. Interestingly, Violet's name is spelled "Voilet," which is similar to her Aunt Voylet's spelling. I think that the "o" and "i" in her name were ordered interchangeably throughout her childhood. As an adult, she always spelled her name "Violet."

My Maternal Grandfather in 1940

1940 U.S. census, St. Clair County, Michigan, population schedule, Port Huron (Ward 4), enumeration district (ED) 44, sheet 7A, family 150, John V. Pemberton household; digital images, 1940 Census ( : accessed 2 April 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 1816.
Just like my paternal grandparents, my maternal grandfather, John Peter Pemberton, was exactly where I thought he would be: 729 12th St. in Port Huron, St. Clair, Michigan. This was my only grandparent who was living in an urban area in 1940. No worries, though. He was still easy to find using Steve Morse's one-step ED Finder. I figured the family would be at 729 12th St. because of the 1938-39 Port Huron City Directory that is online at the St. Clair County Library System's website. This was also the address given on my grandfather's social security application that he applied for in 1943. Using the one-step ED Finder and present-day Google maps of Port Huron, I determined that the ED would be 74-44.

In the household were my great-grandparents, John V. and Mabel E. (Crysler) Pemberton. The family owned their home, which was valued at $1,200. John's education level was given as 7th grade, but Mabel's is somewhat hard to read. It almost looks like the letter "N," but it doesn't look like the rest of the enumerator's "N" marks on the page. My best guess is that it is 11th grade (with a pen mark between the 1's), but I'm not too certain. John V. was age 32, born in Michigan, and worked as a rod mill hand at a factory. This was probably Mueller Brass, as the city directory in 1938-39 lists him as an employee there, and his 1950 obit lists him as a press operator for Mueller Brass. Mabel was age 30 and also born in Michigan. My grandfather was the oldest of the children. He was age 11 and was born in Michigan. He was in 5th grade. His younger siblings were Eva M. (age 10), William H. (age 8), Franklin M. (age 6), Evelyn M. (age 4), and Nancy L. (age 2). The ages and birthplaces of everyone in the household match perfectly with other sources (a miracle!). My great-grandmother was the one who gave the info to the census taker.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Paternal Grandmother in 1940

My second find in the 1940 census was my paternal grandmother, Merlene Golda MERTENA. Like my paternal grandfather, she was exactly where I thought she would be. I didn't know, though, whether her family would be in the town of Mulhall or Mulhall Township in Logan County, Oklahoma. At first when I talked to her, she thought they would be in Ponca City, which is about 60 miles northeast of Mulhall. This is where the family moved after leaving Mulhall. Then I reminded her that Uncle Tony (her little brother) was born in Guthrie (just south of Mulhall and the closest city with a hospital) in 1941. Then she agreed that they would still be in Mulhall in 1940. I just didn't think to ask her whether it was the town or the township. However, since neither of the locations is very large, I was able to find them pretty quickly. They were on the third page of Mulhall Township, which is kind of what I figured, since I knew her grandfather had a farm.

1940 U.S. census, Logan County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Mulhall Township, enumeration district (ED) 26, sheet 2A, family 33, Merlen Mertena household; digital images, 1940 Census ( : accessed 2 April 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3307.
Next door to my grandmother and her parents were her paternal grandparents, John Henry and Blanche (Welden) Mertena. John Henry owned his home, which was valued at $1,000. As my grandmother has always said, it was listed as a farm. He was age 56 and was born in Illinois, which is corroborated by most sources we have for him. Most sources state he was born 11 Mar 1884 in Franklin County, Illinois (some say East St. Louis, Illinois). He and Blanche both had an 8th grade education and lived in the same house in 1935. Naturally, he was a farmer. Blanche was also age 56 and was born in Missouri, which matches the info I have from a family Bible and her actual birth register entry (entry #7) at She was born 31 Aug 1883 in Salem Township, Daviess, Missouri.

My great-grandparents are listed next with my grandmother and great-uncle. This is the first census they appear in as a married couple, as they did not marry until 14 Feb 1931. My great-uncle shown here was born later that year. They rented their house, and the monthly rent was given as $500. I find that hard to believe. I believe the census taker wrote the value of the home rather than the rental amount, as the instructions stated. My great-grandfather, Merlen Paris Mertena, was listed as age 28, which is about a year off. He should have been 29, as he was born 09 Sep 1910 in Mulhall. His birthplace was given as Oklahoma, and he graduated from high school. I knew this to be true, as my grandma still has his senior autograph book and his high school graduation program. He was also a farmer, but his farm was a rented farm. My great-grandmother, Hassie (Proffitt) Mertena, was age 32 and also born in Oklahoma. This info is corroborated by other sources. She was born 26 Feb 1908 in Crescent, Logan, Oklahoma. She had two years of college, which I also knew to be true because my grandmother still has some of her report cards. She studied to be a teacher and worked as one for about three years or so before she got married. My great-uncle Bill is listed as Billy J. Mertena (they called him Billy John; his real name was William John Mertena) and was age 8. My grandmother was age 4. Both of their ages appear to be correct.

My Indexing Progress So Far...

I decided to start a map on Google Maps to keep track of the places I've indexed so far with the 1940 census indexing project at Family Search Indexing. I frequently do this with topics like "1930 Census in Detroit" to keep track of all my ancestors and collateral relatives that I find in the same city. I thought it would be fun to keep track of the places I index too. If anyone is interested, here is my progress so far:

View My 1940 Census Indexing Progress in a larger map

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Paternal Grandfather in the 1940 Census

My day job has kept me pretty busy this week, but I did manage to get some research in the 1940 census done on Monday night. I got home about 5:30 PM on Monday evening to find that the cite was down. I had checked Facebook throughout the day and somewhat expected this. I then tried the site, but none of my states were ready there. Neither were they available on FamilySearch. Oh, poo. So, I started indexing instead. I indexed one page of the Delaware census and then listened to the RootsMagic webinar about the 1940 census. As I was listening to the webinar, I read on Facebook that Liz Hall Morgan (a fellow Louisiana researcher and blogger) stated she had found some of her Louisiana families. That's how I found out the site was back up and running, so I dashed over.

My first find was my paternal grandfather, Benford Maurice TRAHAN. He was exactly where I thought he would be (thank goodness...after the waiting, I would have been discouraged otherwise). I knew he would be living with his parents and they would all be with or near his widowed maternal grandmother. He told me he was born on her property in 1935. My grandmother still owns the property, so I know exactly where it is in Ossun, Lafayette, Louisiana. In fact, today there is a sign saying "Ossun" as soon as you get to the intersection of Hwy 93 and Wyman Road north of Interstate 10 off exit 97. This just happens to be the same intersection where his grandmother's house is located, so I knew it was at the very limits of Ossun.

When I used Steve Morse's One-Step ED Finder, I found that Ossun was in ED 28-4. This is the official description: POLICE JURY WARD 1 OUTSIDE DUSON VILLAGE IN TOWNSHIP 9 RANGE 3, OSSUN.  Ossun is just east of Duson and north of Scott in Lafayette Parish. Luckily, by the time I downloaded the enumeration district (34 pages), I only had to wait until the 2nd page to find them. Sure enough, the line above them stated "Here begins unincorporated Town of Ossun." They were the first family enumerated in Ossun!

1940 U.S. census, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Police Jury Ward 1, Ossun, enumeration district (ED) 4, sheet 2A, family 24, Marie S. Boneaux household; digital images, 1940 Census ( : accessed 2 April 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 1409.

Marie S. Boneaux Head F W 47 Wd 0 LA Same House
Ben Trahan Son-in-law M W 33 M 4 LA Same House Farmer Farm
Beatrice B. Trahan Daughter F W 29 M H-3 LA Same House
Benford Trahan Grandson M W 5 S 0 LA Same House

Just as I expected! I believe Marie and Ben's ages are off by about 1 or 2 years. Marie's baptismal certificate states she was born 7 Sep 1891, which would have made her 48. Ben's baptismal certificate states he was born 26 Oct 1908, which would have made him only 31. Beatrice's middle initial seems to be incorrect as well. Her name was Beatrice Marie, so I'm not sure where the "B" comes from (other than that her nickname was Bea). Otherwise, the info seems to be correct. I figured that Marie did not have very much schooling, as she grew up in a very poor Cajun family, and she was a female. My dad said she never spoke English. I knew Ben (short for Bienvenue) had some schooling, but I knew it wasn't much. This confirms that he only made it to 4th grade. I knew Beatrice had the most schooling in the family, as her paternal grandmother was part of the Mouton clan, and my grandmother had told me that she thought Beatrice went to high school. The Mouton family was one of the more aristocratic Cajun families that intermarried with the often more educated descendants of French immigrants. And grandpa, Benford!!! This is the first census I had ever seen him in, since he was born in 1935. 

Little did Benford know that in 1940, his future bride was living in Mulhall, Oklahoma....

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April Goals

Well, I'm finally getting around to discussing my progress with March goals and setting my April goals. Better late than never. With the release of the 1940 census and a trip to Vegas, I've been quite busy.

Below are my March goals with my progress updates in red:

  • Finish the database cleanup of sources and events for the CHATTERSON and related families. 
    • Phew! Finished this one just under the radar. Actually, I just finished it yesterday, but who's counting? It's finished! That cleaned up a lot of extra sources in my source list. When Legacy 6.0 was still using the old free-form source formatting, I was creating an individual source for each person in a given record set in order to get the citation just right.  I decided to start doing this right before Legacy 7.0 came out and improved the source citation features. I guess I just couldn't wait, but luckily I only did it with the sources for two family lines. That just happened to be when I was entering the Chatterson and Chamberlain research in my database.
  • Visit the LSU Library to find a few obituaries and get back in the swing of Louisiana research in Baton Rouge. I haven't done any research here since I've been back.
    • Didn't get to this one yet. March was pretty busy for me because I took a week long trip to Vegas to help my little brother move. I also took on an extra project at work one weekend. Maybe in April.
  • Earn 300 more points in indexing.
    • I actually earned 380 points. Yay!  I've discovered a new favorite indexing project (other than the 1940 census, of course!). It's the Steuben County, Indiana, marriages. It's a border county with no waiting period, so lots of Michiganders married in Steuben County, including my great-great-aunt and my great-aunt, and their marriage records contain LOTS of info.
  • Finish my posts on Arthur CHAMBERLIN and family.
    • I didn't finish the posts, but I did include two more posts. One was about the death of Arthur's son, and the other was about finding Arthur's parents in the 1910-1930 censuses.
  • Reply to at least three or four more cousins who have emailed me within the past few weeks.
    • I don't think I accomplished this one. I need to get better at this. I usually do respond, it just may take me a month or two (or six months). 
  • Add at least three sources from my "to be entered" folder to my RootsMagic database.
    • I don't think I accomplished this one either. Though I did find an obituary of a distant cousin's wife in the Toledo Blade at Google News and entered the citation into my database. Yay!
My April goals are as follows:

  • Finish looking up the siblings of my great-great-grandparents in the SSDI.
  • Index at least one page of the 1940 census every night.
  • Enter the 1940 source citations for my grandparents I found last night (post to follow). 
  • Clean up source citations and events for my great-great-great-grandparents, John PEMBERTON and Mary Ann COOMBS and their children.
  • Write at least one post on Arthur Chamberlin and family.