Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween. I hope your day is filled with sweet treats and little to no tricking. The following are some of my favorite websites for finding your ancestors in cemeteries.

Online Death Indexes at

Cemetery Junction at

American Battle Monuments Commission at

Union Veteran Grave Locator at

Nationwide Gravesite Locator at

Friday, October 26, 2007

Book Signing

I am off for the weekend for two books signings in the Eastern Sierra. If you are in the area, please come by and say hi. I will be presenting about my book, Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra, and signing copies. I will be at the Lone Pine Film Museum on Friday and Spellbinder Books,;jsessionid=abcU4cOVu5xBXe8T84Cxr?s=storeevents, in Bishop on Saturday.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Fire Season was officially closed but try to tell the wind and the fire that! Where we live in Southern California, we are not in danger of the fires but we are socked in with the aftermath. Our valley is covered in smoke. The smoke is so bad that they have cancelled school for the rest of the week. You don’t dare open a window because you will soon become inundated with the smell of smoke.

All this fire and the damage it is causing reminded me of the natural disasters our ancestors faced. Gendisasters, at, is a great website for checking on all kinds of disasters that affected our ancestors. At this website you can find histories and pictures of both natural and man made disasters such as fires, earthquakes, floods, tornados, hurricanes, train and ship wrecks and explosions. For a list of the top 10 deadliest U. S. disasters check out Kimberly Powell’s About .com site at Cyndi’s List also has links to websites detailing natural and man made disasters at

The implications of disasters are many. Obviously, there is the destruction of both human life and property. Long range implications can include stress, loss of records and historic buildings, loss of community, etc. Please remember those in danger here in California, both the victims of the fire and the firefighters.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


A freeware program you should be aware of is Bygones, available at I first read about this program in the APG Quarterly. It looks like a great program for those of us who want to keep better track of our research endeavors by using our computer. It is not a genealogical database program, rather it is a program to keep your genealogical notes in.

Bygones is a free program and as such there really isn't any software support. However, there are some Bygones mailings lists on Rootsweb and the website is pretty detailed. It even includes a slide program to help you learn how to use the software.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Persistence Wins in Probate Matter

Sometimes as genealogists we get stuck in the rut of "what should happen". We know that when we are researching an ancestor there are many documents that exist to verify the date of death. For example, a death certificate, a funeral card and wills or probate records. Unfortunately, sometimes we have no control over the places and employees where we request these records.

One of my friends recently traveled to Southern California to continue her research on her grandfather who died in the 1950's. She knew that he had had a will because her father was the executor. However, requests to the court clerk's office for these records were returned. She paid twice for them to do a record search and both times they insisted the records did not exist. This court does not allow researchers to look at records, you must pay for the research request and hope that the information is found.

Well my friend asked me what she should do. I suggested that she look through the newspaper for a probate notice that may be there after her grandfather's death. So many times we ignore those tiny and lengthy legal notices at the end of the newspaper, but this is one case where that notice helped her. She found the probate notice and then took that to the court. They then found the will and the supporting documents. This was a good lesson in not only being creative in getting the information you need but also in persistence. Just because an official tells you it isn't there, doesn't make it so.