Search billions of records on

           June, 2007

      Carol Sanderson, Editor
      Charles Hansen, Advisor

      Newsletter Archives   |  E-mail                    

  Spring Seminar
— Charles Hansen

        This year, the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society spring seminar featured Halvor Moorshead publisher of Family Chronicle Magazine, the History Magazine and Internet Genealogy. While Halvor came from Stouffville, Ontario, Canada, he started out by saying his mother was Norwegian and his father was an American of English, Welsh, German and French blood. Because of this, he said he knew next to nothing about Canadian research. He also introduced his wife as an infidel (she is not a genealogist). He had a wonderful English accent and cautioned us to listen carefully because of the accent. He was actually born in England and lived there for several years while he was growing up.

        I was really looking forward to seeing Halvor Moorshead at the seminar as I have been a Family Chronicle subscriber for years and Internet Genealogy subscriber since the first issue. I was even mentioned in an article in one issue. I had also sent in an article for the first book on Brick Wall solutions as had Marion and Earl. The seminar was to be in the meeting room of the main library in Spokane. About a month before the seminar, I noticed in the libraries monthly newsletter, a small blurb stating all the Spokane libraries would be closed on May 5th for a training day for all the librarians. That was the day for our seminar at the library. A quick E-mail to our local program director verified we were to have the first floor and the parking garage all to ourselves all day May 5th. It worked out well.

        Before the seminar started, Halvor wandered through the crowd greeting people who had come for the seminar. His first session was on The Internet 2007 What's New and What's Coming. As he started, he gave the URL of the articles and notes he used in the handout. He began by telling us that we used to always say to interview your oldest relatives; then start back from there. That is unchanged, but today many new records appear on the internet daily. Look up the census for your family, check out Proquest Heritage Quest, Ancestry and Automated Research. Learn to use Google effectively. One example is to put your ancestor in Google followed by his date of birth three dots and date of death (example Hansen 1870...1961) and Google will search between those dates for Hansen hits. This is a way to cut down the huge number of hits if your surname is common.

        Next was the session on Researching Old Newspapers Online, He said there is no way to know how many pages are online but Internet Genealogy's estimate is 200 million pages and every word can be searched. Two to five million pages are being added each month. He also explained the Smith, Sanders, and Moorshead Rule for estimating the number of names in a database. Smith surname has about 1 percent of any database, Sanders about 0.1 percent and Moorshead about one in a million. So if a database says it has 5 million names it should contain 5 Moorsheads, 5000 Sanders and 50,000 Smiths. Try it out. It does seem to work. Not exact each time but close.

        After lunch, Halvor's third topic was The Web 2.0. This was about sharing and community building, Blogs, RSS, Podcasts, and Wikis. A Wiki is the program used to create something like Wikipedia. It allows anyone to change the website to add or edit information on the website without getting the webmaster to do it for you. Is this a good thing or will bad people trash it?

        I think many people have accessed Wikipedia online and it is now about ten times bigger than the Encyclopedia Britannica online and still growing. We may see a huge online family tree Wiki with millions of genealogists contributing. Google Books and the Million Book Project from the Carnegie Mellon University are scanning 1200 to 3000 pages an hour. Data storage is no longer a problem. Soon we will have a TeraByte hard drive (a TeraByte is equal to 1000 GigaBytes). The whole Library of Congress 29 million books will fit on 17 to 20 TeraBytes.

        The last session was on Dating Old Photographs, and he explained the technical processes but warned that this can be misleading sometimes. He showed an ad for a photographer from an 1890s newspaper. In the ad it said the photographer made copies of old photographs. Thus, if you had a 30 year old tintype and he made a copy on a cabinet card you might think the photograph was from the 1890s not from the 1860s when the first photograph was taken. Check the hairstyles, ladies dresses, poses. All these are clues to help you date a photograph.

        Halvor Moorshead is an excellent speaker. If you get a chance to hear him speak, be sure not to pass it up.

  Another Way West
— Carol Sanderson

        We are all aware of the migration of our ancestors. Often we are also aware of what lured them to leave their homes and families. My ancestors or some of them were no different. There are times when families gathered up their belonging or at least part of them and headed west. Most of the time, the lure was more land in less crowded areas. Another lure was that of the railroads. An ancestor of a third cousin left to help build a railroad to the west.

        I recently read an article about another way and its influence on the life of people near it or involved with it. I would like to rgive you some of the highlights. It was called the "Big Ditch" by some or other descriptive names and this was the Erie Canal.

        This canal was proposed in 1808 and a bill passed the New York State Legislature in 1817 to build it. It was completed in 1825. It was 363 miles long going from Albany to Buffalo. Lake Erie is 565 feet higher than the Hudson River at Albany so there were 83 locks built to raise or lower the boats at points of a change in elevation. In some cases there were 18 aqueducts built to carry it over rivers and ravines along the way. They built the original canal forty feet wide and four feet deep. It had a 10-foot wide towpath on the side for the mules or horses that pulled the canal boats. Instead of a large company or the state building this, the people built it in sections. The canal was completed and opened in 1825 amid great celebrations. Over the years, the canal was widened and deepened so that it accommodated larger barges and boats. They built side canals in some places so that more areas could benefit from the opening up of another way of trade. Its route was also changed at some places. An interesting fact, at least to me, is the fact that this canal was paid for in 12 years after it opened.

        The article went on to tell of some of the things that we might find our ancestors doing if they had settled near the canal. Hotels or taverns sprang up to accommodate travelers, warehouses and docks were built, coopers were néeded to make barrels for the produce and other products. People were néeded to care for the animals that pulled the barges as they were changed about every fifteen miles. I am willing to say that some of the sleepy towns near it grew as more and more people traveled it.

        At one time, I lived just outside of Syracuse, NY. As a reminder that it was at one time a port town on the canal; one of the main thoroughfares is named for the canal...that is Erie Blvd. At that point, the canal has been filled in and paved. There was even a canal museum there.

        My family at times picniced on the shores of a lake the original canal went through. There were remains of old locks there and the children were fascinated by the history of them. As the children played, my husband and I would relax near a part of the old canal and talk. Sometimes we would talk of a triop wewould take on the canal when we had a boat. The boat never happened at that time but it was fun dreaming of it. We did take some short trips on the canal with friends who had boats.

        When I first find some of my husband's family, they were near Rochester, NY. They were farmers and I dare say that they used the canal to ship some of their goods to market. My husband's great-grandmother was fond of saying that she was from New York State in the early 1800s. Her family moved to Ohio and Michigan and part of their trip was on the Erie Canal and then by lake steamer to Cleveland where theycontinued on the railroad. I have never found any real stories about their trip but I can imagine some real adventures.

        The Erie Canal was later known as the New York State Barge Canal after it had been widened and deepened again in the late 1800s. The article says it did not close until 1918. I have searched several places looking for that information because as far as I can determine the NY State Barge Canal is still open and used for trade and pleasure craft.

        This just skims the article "The Erie Canal: What Did It Mean to Your Ancestors?" that was so well written by John Philip Colletta and is in the June issue of Family Chronicle Magazine. I would recommend it as interesting reading for anyone with and interest in history or genealogy.

||— Contact GHLL —||— Policy Statements —||— Site Map —||
Go to: Go to: Archive Gateway | GHLL Home

May 2, 2002— Aug, 13, 2012 = 1,517,267 visitors.

New Visitors:
    Free Web Counter    since Aug 14, 2012

Free Counters