Mastering Genealogical Proof – And Suddenly the light bulb went on ….

July 23, 2013

And Suddenly the light bulb went on ….
Russ Worthington
22 July 2013

Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof , (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), viii.

Book available from the publisher at

The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) has been a mystery to me. I think that every time I hear someone speak on this topic, and in this book, I “hear” or “read”


A couple of the terms may be different, depending on who is presenting.

Please understand that I am not saying that there is anything wrong with this, and in fact, I think it is very accurate. But, sometimes have issues with theories. Not good in higher level math classes. In taking courses when I would go to school for my job, some classes were a waste of time, especially computer software. The instructors were excellent, but they taught using examples that I couldn’t relate to.

Today I was working on Chapter 5 of Mastering Genealogical Proof, when the Light Bulb Turned ON. (Can’t say “went off” based on some comments that were made with we were talking about Chapter 4, with Dear MYRTLE).

I have been trying to understand where the genealogy software program(s) fit into this theory. The terms were also confusing to me. Conclusion? I’ll probably never have a conclusion on anyone in my family tree. That term to me, is the end of the line, I am done, I have concluded that …… Not in my life time.

Slowly but surely, the study of this process has introduced a new way of thinking about what it is that I do.

Somehow, from the very beginning of my research I heard “cite your sources”. In fact, back in the PodCast days, I probably heard that from Dear MYRTLE, and I am sure others. It didn’t take me be a couple of days to figure out why that was so important. I turned “cite your source” to “where did I get THAT information from?” I got it. The quality of the sources, not so much, but I could almost get back to where I found that piece of the puzzle.

I have an almost 9,000 person database, pretty well document family tree that I can tell you where I got the information from, but the presentation of the citations left lots to be desired. Luckily Evidence Explained (Mills 2007) came out, my genealogy database software embraced what was included in that book, so I don’t have to worry, so much, about how to generate a credible citation. Spent most of 2012 reviewing and updating my Source information. Still have lots to go, but “working on it”.

I am getting my genealogy database in shape, but now I am trying to understand this thing called GPS. Working through the steps seen earlier, I was trying to figure out where my program fit in. I also use two other Genealogy Programs, Evidentia and GenDetective, and trying to see where they fit in.

I think I had made a blog post earlier that I have no plans for starting over, but to pay more attention to the GPS process, and Evidentia and GenDetective fit into GPS, I think. I know that they both have already helped me in my research, but I was still trying to fit that linear chart above, into my day to day family research.

Today, studying Chapter 5 (Jones 2013), it dawned on me, that I had the wrong picture. What if it looked like this:


Oh, not this made sense to me. It wasn’t linear after all, it was a circle. If I have written a “conclusion”, start around the circle again, find no more new sources to cite, I can stop going in the circle FOR NOW. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get back into the circle when / if I find a new source of information. Because as I go, I am writing as I go. Not just Citing the Source, which is what I had been doing, but spending time with it, writing down the analysis, and whatever follows Chapter 5, but I am guessing, especially that last step, Writing a Conclusion, will have some more work for me to do. I’m OK with that. BUT, it’s still a circle. Where do I START became my first question.

What if this was my chart: …..


Backing up to my homework for Chapter 4, that was the output of the Source Citation circle above.

I may now have to back up to Chapter 4 again, to see where Evidentia, GenDetective and Family Tree Maker fit in. They are in there somewhere.

There must be a couple of more blog posts in there somewhere, to explain this process, as I understand it, so that my research can be improved.


Jones, Thomas W. 2013. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown. 2007. Evidence Explained. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company.

Mastering Genealogical Proof – Chapter 4 Homework

July 23, 2013

Chapter Four Homework Assignment
Russ Worthington
21 July 2013

Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof , (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 33.

Book available from the publisher at

In reading this chapter, I thought I should go back to see how my genealogy database program handles my citations. I have spent a bit of time studying this, after Family Tree Maker provided us with Evidence Explained (Mills 2007) source templates.

Specifically, I used the 1940 census, here, as an example. What I had done in the past, is to determine what data was asked for in the creation of a New Source entry, then determine what data is needed to be entered in the Citation Detail and Citation Text fields.

Family Tree Maker 1940 US Census Template:

Population Schedule – United States, 1880-1940 (by Census Year and Location)

Fields Data Entry
Census Year 1940
State Pennsylvania
County Chester County
Publication number T627
Film roll number 3579
Website title
Database publisher Operations, Inc
Publisher location Provo, Utah
Database year 2012

The Reference Note below, is the output of the above.

Reference Note:

1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3579; digital image, (

I wanted to determine what were the results of my data entry and what was provided from within Family Tree Maker

From the Template:

1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3579; digital image, (

From the hidden information:

1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3579; digital image, (

Template Information Not used:

Database publisher
Publisher location
Database year

Reviewing Evidence Explained (Mills 2007) as the basis of the citation / reference note, I identified what I needed to include in the Citation Detail field. It is apparent that the Citation Text field information is not needed for the complete reference note.

But, to remember what information I needed to enter into the Citation Detail field, I put this in the Comment Screen for the Source template. Each new Census Template that I create, I copy and paste this from a previous Census Template.

What I put in the Comments on the Edit Template Screen:

[ civil division ]; enumeration district [ __ – __ ]; sheet number [ ___ ]; house number _; [ street name ]; family number _ ; Lines _ – _; [ person of interest ] household; accessed

This is the Citation Detail information that was entered for this example

Birmingham; enumeration district 15-3; sheet number 3-A; family number 49; Lines 31 – 34; John Marshall Highley household; accessed 06 Apr 2012

The completed reference note looks like this, color coded below as a reminder of where the information came from in Family Tree Maker

Reference Note:

U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County, Birmingham; enumeration district 15-3; sheet number 3-A; family number 49; Lines 31 – 34; John Marshall Highley household; accessed 06 Apr 2012; NARA microfilm publication
T627, roll
3467; digital image, (

To compare this to Evidence Explained, I went to the QuickCheck Model for a U.S. Census Record from

QuickCheck Model (p. 240) (Mills 2007)

Field Example
Census ID 1850 U. S. census
Jurisdiction Marian County, Iowa
Schedule Population schedule
Civil Division Lake Prairie
Page ID p. 290 (stamped)
Household ID Dwelling 151 family 156
Person(s) of interest Virgil W. and Wyatt B. Earp
Item Type or Format Digital image
Website Title
URL (Digital Location
Date Accessed 16 January 2006
Credit Line (Sources of this Source) Citing NARA microfilm publication M432; roll 187

1850 U.S. Census, Marion County, Iowa, population schedule, Lake Prairie, p. 290 (stamped), dwelling 141, family 156, Virgil W. and Wyatt B. Earp; digital image, ( ; accessed 16 January 2006); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 187.

Compare this example, to my example:

1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County, Birmingham; enumeration district 15-3; sheet number 3-A; family number 49; Lines 31 – 34; John Marshall Highley household; accessed 06 Apr 2012; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3467; digital image, (


(Mills 2007) Year US Census, County, State, population schedule, Jurisdiction

(Family Tree Maker) Year US Census, population schedule, State, County, Jurisdiction

Page number vs Sheet Number – 6.8 Citing Page, Folio, or Sheet Numbers, page 261 (Mills 2007) has a note, that I interpret so say that, depending on the Census Year and Enumeration District, the form may be different.

Line Numbers – 6.7 Citing Line Numbers, page 260 (Mills 2007) has a note, that I interpret to say, if there are line numbers, they should be included, as well as the page number.

Household – can be eliminated

Citing – should be added

What is the importance of Stamped and Penned – (Mills 2007) page 270 indicates that some pages may have multiple penned numbers as well as stamped numbers on some pages. – need to re-evaluate and update as appropriate

Mastering Genealogical Proof, page 33 – 35
(Jones 2013)

But, does the above meet the standard provided by Dr. Jones, which is:

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. When
  4. Where in the source
  5. Where is the source

I think so, but:


  1. Is the order of the information significantly important?
  2. Is the punctuation significantly important?
  3. Do either of these examples meet the “standard components” of a good Source Citation
  4. What about the use of “p. #” or “page #”, as seen in Table 1 (Jones 2013)?
  5. How important are End Notes vs Foot Notes, specifically in the way our genealogy software programs provide us?
  6. Chapter 4, page 36 (Jones 2013), figure 1, used the term “Viewed”, Appendix B used the term “Accessed”. Which one is correct?

In the panel discussion in the 21 July 2013 with DearMYRTLE, we discussed these and a couple of other issues that others had.

  1. The panel suggested that State names should be spelled out.
  2. Abbreviate where possible, terms like Not Dated to be n.d.; but should be noted somewhere the list of abbreviations being used and be consistent
  3. The order of information is not all that important, but be consistent
  4. Punctuation, was not discussed, but I will be reviewing those punctuation characters that I can control
  5. Page # or P #; like the earlier comments, be consistent
  6. The Foot Notes vs End Notes could go on for a while, but the most preferred Foot Notes for ease of reading. It should be noted that some of our genealogy database management programs will not allow the user to control this.
  7. Viewed or Accessed was more about the physical viewing of a document, while accessing was for online information being reviewed

The above two examples, Evidence Explained (Mills 2007) and Family Tree Maker, I think clearly reflect what we used for the information (Facts or Events) provided in the container (Source), but there is no indication in the reliability of the source.


Jones, Thomas W. 2013. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown. 2007. Evidence Explained. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company.

Mastering Genealogical Proof–Find-A-Grave

July 22, 2013

There was going to be a discussion about how to cite a Find-A-Grave entry in the Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group on 21 July 2013, but the time ran out. This is not a homework assignment for Chapter 4, but merely how I handle this topic.

Since is now indexing the Find-A-Grave website, I have had some success if search results leading me to a link on The results look like this:


The name has been blanked out, but those are the details from They provide a link to “Go to website

There is a lot of discussion about the use of an “Index” or to Cite and index. What I have learned from this study of Mastering Genealogical Proof is that we should not use an index in a proof document. I totally agree with that. That said, it does not tell me that I should cite that, as a source in my genealogy datebase management software. I have chosen to do that and here is the format of my Citation, as created with the use of a Template in my program.

For this purpose, I have chosen to use an Online Database; Cemetery Derivative template, the result is: Web, “New Jersey, Find A Grave Index, 1664-2011″, database, ( Database online; accessed 20 Sep 2012. Index for Henry Russell Worthington, Jr.

Following the link from Ancestry to Find-A-Grave, or since I created the memorial on Find-A-Grave, with my photograph, I want to cite that as well. Here is a link to that memorial page:

Information from that web page is entered into my database, with the following Citation:

Russ Worthington, “Find-A-Grave”, database, Find A Grave ( Henry Russell Worthington (1916-2006) – Find A Grave Memorial# 49480185; accessed 03/08/2010.

That is using the same Template as the one from Perhaps the memorial number is not important here, but knowing the memorial number on the Find-A-Grave website, makes searching for, or getting directly to that memorial page easier. It’s a search field on the Find-A-Grave website.

What about the photograph that is there? In this case, it’s mine and I could publish it in my Ancestry Member Tree, online at However, I have a policy for all of my Find-A-Grave photographs to mark them private in my genealogy database, so they will NOT appear in my Ancestry Member Tree. I can see it locally in my database, but not online.

HACK GENEALOGY: A New Genealogy and Technology Resource

July 17, 2013

Repurposing today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy

17 July 2013 – Chicago, IL. Genealogy educator and author Thomas MacEntee announces the debut of Hack Genealogy, a new resource for the genealogy industry and the growing community of genealogy and family history enthusiasts.

Hack Genealogy is about “repurposing today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy” and a little bit more. Hack Genealogy is more than just a list of resources: It provides information on emerging technology inside and outside the genealogy industry.

Hack Genealogy is not merely about surviving the overwhelming presence of new and emerging technologies . . . Hack Genealogy is about genealogy and technology success in its many facets.

What Will You Find at Hack Genealogy?

Here are the features to be offered at Hack Genealogy over the coming months:

· Cool GenStuff: Each day we’ll provide a curated list of the latest information about genealogy that deserve your attention.

· Discussions and Issues: We’ll discuss issues important to the genealogy community including education, self-publishing, sharing research and more.

· Education and E-Guides: Through the use of webinars, e-guides, Google+ hangouts and other innovative educational technologies, Hack Genealogy seeks to educate genealogists on the latest technologies.

· GenBiz Buzz: Learn how others have succeeded with their genealogy and family history-related business and the tools they used to succeed.

· Interviews: We’ll ask a variety of players in the genealogy landscape this question: How Do You Hack Genealogy? to learn more about how technology is being repurposed to expand the family history experience.

· Product Reviews: Reviews of the latest products and services including software, mobile apps and more.

· Resources: A listing of the best tools for every aspect of genealogy from research to sharing photos to writing and publishing your family history.

How Hack Genealogy Got Started

Hack Genealogy takes its inspiration from the Technology and Genealogy group on Facebook ( started by Susan Petersen in late 2012. As an administrator of the group, Thomas MacEntee – creator of GeneaBloggers and High-Definition Genealogy – realized that the questions asked by group members and the great content shared was reaching only the Facebook audience. Hack Genealogy is a way to get more genealogists and family historians to discuss the use of technology in a non-threatening, easy-to-understand environment.

We hope you’ll travel along with us on this journey of discovery in the genealogy and technology fields.

About Hack Genealogy

Hack Genealogy ( is a technology resource for the genealogy community with a focus on “repurposing today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy.” Thomas MacEntee is the driving force between Hack Genealogy whose goal is to provide information on emerging technology inside and outside the genealogy industry.

Follow Hack Genealogy on Facebook (, Twitter ( and at

About Thomas MacEntee

Thomas MacEntee is a genealogy professional specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogy research and as a way to connect with others in the family history community. When he’s not busy writing blog posts, organizing the 3,000+ members of GeneaBloggers, teaching online genealogy webinars and more, Thomas MacEntee is busy in his role as “genealogy ninja.” Stealth is not easy, but he manages to get the inside track on emerging technologies and vendors as they relate to the genealogy industry. After being laid off from a 25-year career in the tech industry in 2008, Thomas has been able to “repurpose” his skill set for the genealogy community and loves to see other genealogists succeed, whether it is with their own research or building their own careers in the field.


Contact:       Thomas MacEntee
High-Definition Genealogy
1416 W. Carmen Ave., #3
Chicago, IL  60640
+1 (773) 661-3080

Thomas MacEntee

Founder, High-Definition Genealogy

+1 (773) 661-3080

Civil War Registration but NO Service Records

July 15, 2013

I have blogged about this non-genealogy database management software program before. Evidentia.

Unlike those programs, it’s not about names, dates, and places, but about Sources or containers of Information.

A friend of mine gave me two pieces of paper and asked me to look up her “peeps” on The print outs were from a Civil War Registration book. She wanted to know more about these to people and the Civil War. I can do this, here I come.

I had the Name, residence, age as of 1 July 1863, born in New York. I wanted to start with me finding the same document that she gave me. Found it, using’s new search, very quickly, and there he was on line 6.


Name: James A Wake
Residence: New York
Class: 2
Congressional District: 6th
Age on 1 July 1863: 36
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1827
Race: White
Place of Birth: New York


It said the he was a Foreman.

The other person was similar, but 2 years younger and in different Congressional District.

I hadn’t seen this type of ledger book before, and didn’t even realize there was such a book. Very nice find. This should be easy., next stop. I tried searching for both James Wake and George Hendrickson. No luck in the Civil War Service Records, so I then used the Browse feature, working my way down the various options. Nothing. How can this be.

As an aside, I am struggling with Chapter 3 of Mastering Genealogical Proof book by Dr Thomas Jones and “Reasonably Exhaustive” Research.

Then I remembered a lesson that I heard a number of times, to understand the records you are looking for or seeing, to discover what they were created for and what might you find on that record collection. Back to Ancestry, found the record, then scrolled down to the page to the “About” collection name. Here is the link to this specific collection:

So, putting this collection into history, the page says in part.

About U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865

This is a collection of lists of Civil War Draft Registrations. There were four drafts between 1863 and 1865, which included 3.175 million records. Historically, the 1863 draft was one of the most tenuous moments in the Union outside of the battles fought on Northern soil. Most of the concern was due to the draft riots that took place in New York in 1863.

Note the date just before the AGE, 1863. Yeah, OK, but that doesn’t tell me why I didn’t find these two gentlemen in the Civil War Service collection on Since I was on, I looked there too. Nothing.

I did my collecting of ‘normal’ information, all sounded straight forward, BUT, there is a CLASS column. The younger one had Class 1, the older, by 2 years, had Class 2.

Back to the information about the collection.

The records are split into two different classes, Class I are those aged 20-35 as well as those 36-45 and unmarried. Class II is everyone else that registered.

The younger one was 34 as of 1 July 1863 and married, the older was 36, also married. So, the classification was correct.

Maybe the reason they didn’t show up in the Service Records is that they didn’t sign up. This was only a Registration.

It appears that one was over the age limit, with the second approaching 35, and both married.

What was the question that was posed to me? Would you find the Civil War Records for these two people? We have to have a question to answer, or why would we be searching.

My current hypothesis is that they did NOT serve in the Civil War.

Did I do an “exhaustive research”, probably NO, but there are clues, for me, that they did not serve. The full step in the Genealogical Proof Standard has the word “reasonably” in front of it.

That doesn’t mean that I am not going to stop searching, but only putting that question aside for now. I don’t consider it a brick wall, but there must be a story here somewhere. It also doesn’t mean that I won’t re-ask that question as new information is found.

Why these two names, don’t appear to be related, both from New York, but that is about it. Oh, yes, my friend. There must be a connection there somewhere.

That may be a story for another blog post.

Guessing there is more, I am entering this data, from the Source Document, into Evidentia.

Source Information U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010., accessed 12 July 2014.

Original data:

Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registrations, 1863-1865. NM-65, entry 172, 620 volumes. ARC ID: 4213514. Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), Record Group 110. National Archives, Washington D.C.

A Genealogy Quilt

July 7, 2013


I have talked about “my quilt” a couple of times and use it at a backdrop when I am “hangin’ out” with my cousin Dear MYRTLE.

As you can see, it was a Christmas present from my older daughter Carrie Worthington. She captured, in this one quilt, the pieces of my life, I’ll share parts of this quilt here.

Music to my Dad, she says.


That is the boarder and background to this side of the quilt. Music has been a large part of my life. For example, I went through the US Coast Guard boot camp, in Cape May, NJ as a member of the marching band. Of course 4 years of high school and 2 years of college playing in the band and orchestra in both didn’t hurt. But singing is what I have done more of.


Started out in a church choir with my brother and Grandfather. My dad, couldn’t carry a note in a bucket, but he was the crucifer for the choir. I also sang Barbershop Quartet music in several chorus’ and several quartets for about 15 years. Competed with a chorus in 1982 where we placed 2nd internationally.

But, lets go back a generation to pick up my mother in this quilt.


She loved horses and had a number of them over her life. So, Carrie’s grandmother was remembered.

What about my dad? Besides a round or two of golf, it was about fishing.


OK, I like fishing too. But, this also picked up that her other grandfather owned a fish store, here in NJ.

I was a scout. Did that help me in the US Coast Guard? Oh yeah.


Oh yeah, the Coast Guard is here with all of this nautical stuff


She didn’t miss to show one of her skills, but the skills of her mother.


Of course, she didn’t miss herself and sister Jennie


and a few years later


Speaking of kids, and I have not clue where she got this one from


I think this was at Easter, Lionville, PA about 1946 or so.

Did I mention we lived in Washington DC for 15 years, and both daughters were born there?


We may live in New Jersey, but Jenn and I are still Redskins fans.

Can’t forget out camping years


My 30 years working for AT&T wasn’t missed.


Jumping ahead many years, Carrie’s wedding with Jenn and my parents.


Maine was / is a favorite place to visit, so shortly after Patti and I were married, we went to visit the home of one of my ancestor’s in Southwest Harbor, the Mountain House on the Carroll Homestead. Did I mention that Patti also does family history research?


You just can’t drive down the road and pass a cemetery without stopping.


Can’t forget the Grand Pup’s


But, what about Genealogy?


You put that all together and you have:


Thank you Carrie !!

Civil War–150 Years Later and Ridgely Howard

July 3, 2013

My cousin, Dear MYRTLE, made a comment on Facebook about the Civil War and that she and Mr. Myrt were watching a program on Gettysburg. Last night, I found a link to a program on Gettysburg online, so I decided to watch this 88 minute program.

What I didn’t realize, until about 50 minutes into this program, that I had seen this program before. I knew that I had from how the program was done, but didn’t connect the dots as to what this program was about.

“Ridgely Howard” was mentioned, as a 33 year old, slave holder from Baltimore and that his grandfather served with George Washington during the War of Revolution, and that this family was of the “plantation class”. I know this guy. I spend a summer researching Ridgely Howard trying to find out who he was.

I did a series of blog posts on my search for Ridgely Howard:

There may be a couple of blog posts in that series that is not about this research, but about the 3rd blog post is the end, at that time, of my search.

It turns out that David Ridgely Howard (1844 – 1927) was my 5th cousin, 4 times removed.



I was reminded about James Wallace, whose grandfather served in the same regiment as did Ridgely Howards grandfather with George Washington.

What I didn’t catch the first time, was that David Ridgely Howards house has been reported to be haunted. I’ll have to look into that.

After Ridgely was wounded, on this day, in the morning of 3 July 1863, he would return and be wounded a second time, but this time he lost a leg. The amazing thing is that he lived until 1927.



Robert J Driver Jr, First & Second Maryland C.S.A. (Bowie, Maryland:  Heritage Books, Inc, 2003), page 205 – Capt. James McHenry Howard (left), 1st Maryland Infantry, and his brother David Ridgely Howard, Co A, 2nd Maryland Infantry, were photographed in Canada in their Confederate uniform at at the war’s end. David has a metal “cross button” pinned to his breast, which is believed to have been the insignia of the Maryland Line (see Plate H2, Dave Mark Collection).  H. R. Worthington – Book Shelf


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