02 July 2016

Thomas P. Crosell (1840-1862)

I have a soft spot for family members who die at war before their lives have really started. This is the story of Thomas P. Croswell.

I have been picking at some end of line ancestors for the last few weeks. I was working my wife's fourth great-grandfather's Elijah Croswell. I have not fully fleshed out this line and there is some conflicting data so I started to work on his children to see if their information could add more clarification about Elijah. This is when I came across Thomas P. Croswell. Elijah's youngest son.

I had record of Thomas living in his father's household, in Pike County, Alabama, in the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Census records. I figures that he would have been married and I should be able to find him and maybe his wife and children in the 1870 Census.  As I looked I could not find any records. The time frame and age of Thomas lead me to believe that I might also find him in Civil War records.

Ancestry has a collection called Alabama, Civil War Soldiers, 1860-1865. In this database I found records for Thomas. Included in the information was a Cause of Death.

Apparently the Alabama 15th served with Robert E. Lee and were stationed with him in Richmond, Virginia in the Spring of 1862. On May 22, while waiting for the next movement, Thomas "Died of wound received from citizen while stealing Bee Gum."

The Alabama 15th had many casualties up to this point because of illness. But in the leading months they would play a pivotal role at Gettysburg. It is hard to speculate if he would have made it through the war but it is easy to morn the loss of someone so young for something so petty when the threat of death in much more serious ways was much more of a reality.

18 March 2016

There is Room for Everyone in Genealogy - Feb FTT

My Febuary Find, Take, Teach lesson was heavily influenced by my attendance at this years RootsTech, The Superbowl of Storytelling.

I loved to hear Paul Madison tell her story about Finding Samuel Lowe from Harlem to China. It is an unexpected story of a genealogy success. I was also impressed by the gratitude she expressed for those who did the indexing she used to find information about her father. If you have the time it is worth watching.

As I have reflected on RootsTech the one presentation I think about most was by David Isay, a Peabody Award winner who took to the street to capture people's stories. David shares the stories he has recorded on his StoryCorp podcast and has been syndicated on the radio. These recordings are also saved at the library of congress.

The first story he shared was from Lyle Link and Carly Dreher. Carly interviews her grandfather Lyle about his life. It is hard for me to even think about this story without me feeling emotional. It is worth listening to and should not be skipped.

The other story David Isay shared was about Wil Smith and his daughter Olivia. Olivia interviews her father about their life together. It is humorous and touching to hear them talk about their lives together as a single father and daughter.

The stories that David Isay shared along with his own talk brought home to me the importance of authentic stories and they power they have. This is an excellent entry for people to participate in family history.

The video archive from Roots tech can be found at  https://www.rootstech.org/video2/4739804696001

The Family Discovery Day Videos can be found at https://www.lds.org/topics/family-history/familydiscoveryday/2016-video-archive?lang=eng

Family Search has an area in the memories tab were you can upload recordings of interviews you do with your family members. The Memories app allows you to record an interview with someone and add it directly to FamilySearch.

04 March 2016

LDS Ward Family History Class Resources

I received an email from a friend in my stake asking about what resources are available for instructors to teach a Family History class at a ward level during Sunday school. I thought this was a great question so I took a look at what resources I could find. Since his initial email I have been on the look out and have identified several more.

First I pointed him to the The Instructor's Guide to Temple and Family History Work.
This beginning-level course is designed to help Church members understand the doctrines related to temple and family history work, begin to do family history research, and perform temple ordinances for their ancestors. Individuals who are already engaged in temple and family history work can also benefit from the course by learning about additional resources that are available.
The course is divided into seven lessons:

  1. The Purpose of Temple and Family History Work
  2. Getting Started
  3. Gathering Information from Home
  4. Recording Family History Information
  5. Gathering Information from Family
  6. Gathering Information from Public Records
  7. Providing Temple Ordinances 
It is designed to work with a companion piece called Member’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work.

The next source I mentioned was the Introduction to Family History. I took this Religion 261 class from BYU-Idaho. 
Introduction to Family History, is a one-semester course in which you will learn gospel doctrines and principles essential to the work of redeeming the dead and how to find information about your ancestors that is needed to perform saving ordinances for them.
There are twelve lessons in this manual. Each establish and teach the doctrine about why we as members of the LDS church do Family History work.
  1.  The Family Is Central to the Plan of Salvation
  2. The Mission of Elijah
  3. Getting Started with Family History Research
  4. Gathering and Recording Family History Information
  5. Personal Revelation and Family History
  6. Computers and Family History Research
  7. Submitting Names for Temple Ordinances
  8. The Abrahamic Covenant
  9. The Spirit World and the Redemption of the Dead
  10. Covenants, Ordinances, and Temples in the Plan of Salvation
  11. Research in Family History
  12. Finding and Creating Personal and Family Histories

I think that each lesson might have to much information for one Sunday School class but this is a great foundation to teach from in an ongoing class that is not limited in weeks.

Next, I suggest the wealth of information contained in the videos recorded at RootsTech. They have everything from spiritual to inspirational. From basic to advances. RootsTech is for everyone at every level and the videos they share are the same.

The video resources can be found on the RootsTech.org website as well as LDS.org under the Host a Family Discovery Day Video Links.

Next, lds.org has a section under All Callings for Family History Callings. In these resources is a Consultant Webinar Series.  There are seven Webinars topics include:
Each of these resources also include Presentation slides or guides and handouts.

Next, FamilySearch puts out a monthly newsletter for priesthood leaders, consultants, and center directors. There is an archive of these newsletters on lds.org. I get a lot of valuable information from reading these newsletters. Much of what I teach in my Find, Take, Teach class comes from this resource.

Next, FamilySearch has hundreds of resources on the website to teach people how to do their Family History. The Using the Tree section shows basic steps, frequently asked questions, Tips and Tricks, and other resources you can use as a consultant and user of FamilySearch.

The Youth and Family History portal has several resources available. The focus for the youth is:
  • Discovering your Family Story
  • Serving others by Teaching, Indexing, Finding and Taking
  • Experiences youth have had in doing Family History work

There is a wealth of information here aimed at youth but applicable to all of us.

Lastly, there is the FamilySearch Blog. This record is constantly updated with various articles and information about FamilySearch and the world of Family History and Genealogy. This is a leading resource that I use, above the newsletters, to keep up to date on the latest news and stories that have to do with Family History.

This is not an end to the available resources. If you have more ideas or find a new resource please leave a comment below, I would love to learn about it. As I find new resources I will post them here.

03 March 2016

January Find, Take, Teach

January's Find, Take Teach class had quite a few more members. I am hoping the holiday slump is over.

I had a little extra time and I thought I would try and create a PowerPoint presentation for the class. If you are interested you can view it here http://1drv.ms/1L6Jmtq.

First we discussed the To Turn The Hearts booklet that the LDS Church provides to show how leaders can organize, lead, and implement temple and family history work in wards and stakes. Pages 19-21 focus on the roles of Family History Consultants.

We also discussed the upcoming RootsTech conference in Salt Lake.

I then proposed some goals for 2016 for ourselves and those we teach

  • Take some time this year to discover your ancestors and learn something new about them. 
  • Take a few hours this year and try to do one or more of these goals.
    • Add 10 new names to your family tree.
    • Write 5 memories and add them to your memories page.
    • Use the FamilySearch Indexing site, index 5 batches of records.
    • Add 10 new family photographs to your memories page.
    • Attach 10 new document sources to 1 or more individual records.
    • Teach someone else to do the same.
  • You can also set goals of your own. 

We also discussed our task as leaders and Family History Consultants:
Guide each beginner to know what to do next to advance their family history.


I had been asked several questions about how I source and find people in my own family history work. I warned them, and I warn you, I am not an expert but I try and follow the steps I have been taught.

I recently I have been using MyHeritage.com. I received subscription because of my membership in the LDS Church. It is important to know that to get the best use out of this website you need to either enter or upload a gedcom file of your family tree. MyHeritage has a strength in matching records to your tree. I simply created a gedcom in Legacy to upload. It took several hours to go through my file but I currently have 21,540 record matches to investigate.

I love to look through the Newspaper Archive to find records. Not all of them are helpful or about my ancestors but this is much quicker than trying to find records using google or another method.

On of the record hit I got was for the above article on area deaths. I have a brick-wall ancestor that lived near Greensburg so I have been working my collateral lines trying to find other information about the family. I went through the process of copying the transcript from the paper and then matching the names in my database. Everything seemed to jive with the information I already had for the family except for the name Sally West (highlighted above).

I noted that Sally West's maiden name is Facundus and that she lived in Eukipa, California on 24 Oct 1968. I then did a search on FamilySearch for Sall* Facundus. The *, star, or asterisk in a search field means that it replaces any letters after Sall. So it will find a Sally and a Sallie.

I knew the maiden name of Facundus would really narrow the search compared to West. and I was right. The top five results were all for my Sally. The highlighted result is for a marriage record for her son Wallace Warren West.

The 1910 Census record shows Sallie, in her home with her parents and five siblings.

After looking at the actual record I realized that I did have Sallie in my database but her name was spelled incorrectly. I went through each source I found and added them to my database adding sourcing information as I processed each piece of evidence.

I then did another FamilySearch search with Sall* West in California. With this search I found her in the 1940 U.S. Census. living in Long Beach, California.

With the Census information I was able to add another son Lloyd West. I was then able to find may more records for Sally.

In the end, because of an obituary about a sister I found 6 people, along with Sally's birth and death dates, place of burial, and a total of four census records. It was very productive considering how I came across her name.

[I know it has been a while since I have posted. Taking Family History classes at BYU-I has sucked up all of my spare time. I have had a lot of traffic on the website and I have been posting to twitter which shows up on the right hand side of this blog in my RebelMouse Feed.]