Archive for April, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Charles Jessop

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010


Charles Jessop was born 06 Nov 1759 and died 02 Apr 1828. He’s buried in the Jessop Family Cemetery near Phoenix, Baltimore County, MD. The image shown above is from Find A Grave Memorial# 29445078, added by James on August 31st, 2008. The Find A Grave entry gives the tombstone inscription as follows:

Sacred memory of Charles Jessop aged 68 died April 2 1828


The image above is a close-up of the marker that has been placed on his grave by the Fairfax County Chapter of the NSDAR.

Off to NGS

Monday, April 26th, 2010


Genlighten will be attending the NGS Conference in Salt Lake City that starts this coming Wednesday April 28th. We’ll be at booth 919 in the GenTech area of the Exhibit Hall (in the Salt Palace.) We’d love to meet our blog readers, newsletter subscribers, registered users, lookup providers, Twitter followers and Facebook fans/likers. Please stop by and offer your feedback and ideas for the site. We’ll have our usual generous assortment of chocolates for your indulgence and enjoyment. Hope to see you there!

Surname Saturday: Jessop

Saturday, April 24th, 2010


Here’s what I think I know about my JESSOP line:

1. Dean Richardson

2. David Richardson, born 17 Nov 1935 in Erie, Erie County, PA; died 16 Oct 1998 in Stanford, Santa Clara County, CA

3. Owen Richardson, born 02 Dec 1899 in Baltimore, Baltimore County, MD; died 05 Dec 1993 in Edinboro, Erie County, PA

4. Allen Chapman Richardson, born 18 Jun 1859 in Baltimore, Baltimore County, MD; died 21 Dec 1908 in Erie, Erie County, PA

5. Sarah Rogers Merryman, born 03 Oct 1834 in Baltimore County, MD; died 14 Oct 1896

6. Mary Jessop, born 1804/1805 in Baltimore County, MD, died 14 Nov 1854.

7. Charles Jessop, born 06 Nov 1759, Baltimore County, MD; died 02 Apr 1828.

The picture shown here is from a color portrait of Charles, donated in 2006 to the Maryland Historical Society. Charles and his wife Mary Gorsuch lived in Vaux Hall, a home Charles is said to have built in 1800, the ruins of which are located near present-day Phoenix, Maryland. [Some data taken from Winter 2007 issue of the Maryland Historical Society News, p. 4.]

Facebook’s Open Graph: How Could It Help Genealogists?

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

This week, Facebook introduced what it calls the “Open Graph” at its F8 conference for developers and entrepreneurs. While some leading lights in the tech community went nuts, labeling Open Graph “evil” or lamenting yet another web-based privacy apocalypse, most Facebook users, including many genealogists, either yawned or didn’t notice.

So Far, I’m A Supporter

Count me among those that are amazed at Facebook’s ambition and awed by its ability to implement it so effectively. Based on what I know so far, I’m with Martin Bryant of, who described the OpenGraph’s potential for good, not evil:

By providing a ‘Like’ button that developers can add to any website, for any content or subject, Facebook is becoming the central hub for its users tastes and preferences.

Imagine the potential. Amazon can recommend films for you to buy based on what you’ve been looking up on IMDB, Pandora in turn can play music you’ll like based on your friends’ Amazon purchases. Suddenly the web is connected in a far more cohesive way than has ever been possible before. Some of it will be used to promote products to you but there will be a lot of scope for developers to create amazing, new, social services that feed deep into your social graph.

cnn_facebook_social_plugin_screenshotHow’s It Work?

Here’s what I saw when I headed over to this evening: a module on the right-hand side of the homepage offering me recommendations from my Facebook friends for CNN articles. One of them is from Illya D’Addezio, well known in the genealogy community as the founder of Genealogy Today and Live Roots, among other valuable resources. Apparently, by installing one of Facebooks new “social plugins” on its pages, CNN now has gained access to my “social graph” of friends on Facebook.

Instead of being creeped out by this, I immediately grasped its utility. Now I can more easily access web content that has been curated by friends whose judgment I respect and value. Furthermore, I control that curation and filtering capability by selecting the friends I connect with on Facebook and by setting my own privacy controls.

recommend_button_smaller_snipTo recommend the “Life more colorful than black and white” article, Illya just had to click on the “Recommend” button displayed at the bottom of the online text, as shown here.

genealogy_today_like_button_snipA “Like Button” for the Entire Web

When I visited Illya’s Genealogy Today site tonight, I found another implementation of Open Graph at the bottom of the homepage: Facebook’s new “Like Button” for the entire web. Rather than going to Facebook and posting a link to Illya’s site into my Facebook News Feed, I can just click on the “Like” button on Genealogy Today and that “like” will show up in my feed automatically.

Of course, the “Become a Fan” button has been around for a while, but Facebook has changed the terminology (“Become a Fan” => “Like”) and made it easier for websites to implement it.

How Could This Help Genealogists?

Here’s a quick list of ways I’d like to see Facebook Open Graph utilized across the online genealogy community:

  • My favorite geneabloggers could put the “like” button on their homepages and the “recommend” button after each of their posts. [How about it, Randy?]
  • The Family History Library online catalog could have a “like” button next to film/book search results so users could share the records they’re researching with their fellow genealogists on Facebook.
  • Footnote (already a pioneer of social collaboration around historical documents) could implement Open Graph features to show users which of their friends were currently active on the site and to pull annotations they make back to their Facebook News Feeds.
  • Darrin Lythgoe’s TNG could allow its users to easily implement Open Graph on their sites, making it even easier for extended family to get involved in building out their family tree collaboratively via Facebook.

And What About Genlighten?

Here at Genlighten, we’re currently pondering our own response to Facebook’s new features and we hope to begin implementing them within the next several months. If you have suggestions, concerns or questions, please let us know in the comments to this post!

Wordless Wednesday: Unknown Matthews Daughter

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010


Amanuensis Monday: Will of Alexander Grant

Monday, April 19th, 2010


Today I’m again participating in John Newmark’s Amanuensis Monday geneblogging meme. I’ll refer you to John’s excellent TransylvanianDutch blog for background info on this meme and to Wikipedia for the definition of Amanuensis.

Alexander Grant, a candidate for the father of my David Miller Grant

Several references in Philadelphia-area church records hint that David Miller Grant, my third-great-grandfather, may have been born to Alexander Grant and his wife Eleanor. David named two of his children Alexander and Eleanor; he is also said to have been born in Philadelphia in 1801.

With this in mind, I went looking at the Philadelphia City Hall for a copy of Alexander’s will when I attended FGS several years back. He appeared in the index book and the clerk in the Register of Wills office was kind enough to retrieve the original packet for me. I had hoped that Alexander’s will might mention his children, but alas no luck. It does, however, give Alexander the title “Mariner”, which seems relevant since David and his son Alexander captained steamships on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

Here’s my best attempt at a transcription.

No. 42

Will of Alex. Grant, dec’d

Recorded in Will Book
No. 6 Folio 570


In the name of God Amen I Alexander Grant, Mariner, Do hereby make and publish this as my last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all former Wills and Testaments, heretofore made by me –

I give and bequeath unto my beloved Wife, Eleanor — Grant, All the Estate, Real, Personal or Mixed, which I now have or possess, or which I may have and possess at the time of my death. And I do hereby nominate and appoint my said Wife Eleanor Grant, my sole heir and lawful Executrix of this my last will and Testament. Given under my hand and seal at Philadelphia this eighth day of July A.D. 1812.

Alexander Grant

[unreadable] in the presence of

J. Ormrod, sworn Apr. 11th 1818

Sam’l Ewing sworn the 1st day of April 1818

Eleanor Grant the sole Executrix … [unreadable]

Philadelphia April 1st 1818 then personally appeared Samuel Ewing and on the 11th day of April 1818 did personally appear John Ormrod the witnesses to the aforegoing Will and on their Solemn oaths according to Law did depose & say that they did see & hear Alexander Grant the Testator in the said Will named sign seal publish and declare the same as  & for his last Will and Testament & that at the doing thereof he was of sound mind memory & understanding to best of their knowledge & belief.


Sam Bryan Regis…

Eleanor Grant the sole Executrix sworn the same day & Letters Testamentary granted unto her.

The Tao of Genlighten Profile Photos

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

When a new user registers on Genlighten, the first thing I do is take a look at their profile page. Have they added a profile photo? If they have, I get excited! It’s usually a sign that they intend to offer lookups themselves or that they plan to be part of our community long-term.

In this post, I want to focus on the impact profile photos can have, as well as options beyond the traditional “headshot”.

Why Bother With a Profile Photo?

I can understand the anxiety that comes with selecting a profile photo or avatar. You might struggle deciding how to represent yourself, and wonder what others will think of you as a result. Nonetheless, it’s worth it!

If you plan to offer lookups through Genlighten, you should really consider adding a photo to your profile. Here’s why:

  • Potential clients will sense an intriguing personality behind the qualifications you list
  • You can make a statement about the kind of lookups you like to do or your motivation in doing them
  • Depending on the image you choose, you can convey friendliness, reliability, or a sense of fun!
  • Going to the effort of completing your profile says something about the effort you’ll put into your lookups.

Even if you mainly plan to order lookups from our providers rather than offer them yourself, it’s still makes sense to upload a photo:

  • When the provider has a visual sense of who you are, the quality of the service you receive may subtly improve
  • If you come across happy or intriguing in your photo, providers might take on a difficult request from you that they would otherwise decline.
  • Adding an image indicates your long-term investment in the site, which makes you more attractive as a potential client.

OK, ok, I’m sold. What are my options?

Here’s a list of potential profile photo types, along with examples from providers and clients on Genlighten:

pamela_pollard_profile_photoTraditional headshot — by far the most popular choice on the site

jane_schapka_profile_photo“Professional” photo — it helps to know a professional photographer, or a friend with a strong sense of composition

steven_wright_profile_photo“Old” photo — for a genealogy enthusiast, this seems a natural choice

timothy_young_avatarGraphical image — these can create a whimsical touch or signify your “brand”

cewolbert_profile_imageNon-Headshot Photo — here the idea is to show yourself doing something interesting, perhaps genealogy-related, perhaps not

chigen1Novel Composition or Design — something demonstrating your creativity, sense of humor, or both

thekingbug_profile_imageLocation-specific photo — perhaps of a landmark, landscape, or local artifact

Adding a photo to your profile takes just a minute

Just click on “Profile” (in the upper-right-hand corner of any page on the site) then click the red “Edit My Profile” link.  Click the “Browse” button and you’re on your way. A square, high-resolution image that’s 180 x 180 pixels works best. Feel free to contact us at support[at] if you need help.

Surname Saturday: Brown

Saturday, April 17th, 2010


Here’s what little I know (or think I do!) about my Brown line:

1. Dean Richardson

2. David Richardson, born 17 Nov 1935 in Erie, Erie County, PA; died 16 Oct 1998 in Stanford, Santa Clara County, CA

3. Owen Richardson, born 02 Dec 1899 in Baltimore, Baltimore County, MD; died 05 Dec 1993 in Edinboro, Erie County, PA

4. Allen Chapman Richardson, born 18 Jun 1859 in Baltimore, Baltimore, MD; died 21 Dec 1908 in Erie, Erie County, PA

5. James Arnold Richardson, born 09 Dec 1830 in Baltimore, Baltimore, MD; died 12 August 1883 in Carroll County, MD

6. Margaret Dukehart Brown, born 19 Mar 1805 in Baltimore County, MD; died 02 Oct 1846 in Baltimore County, MD

The picture here is of Margaret Brown Richardson, scanned from our copy of “Memories”, an original typescript prepared by Louise Grant Smith for each of her sons (we have Owen’s copy.) Family records indicate that Margaret’s father was James, but I’ve not been able to find any dates or documentation for him. I could obviously use some help extending this line back further.

Wordless Wednesday: Thomas T. Matthews

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010


The handwritten note on the back of the photo says:


Salesmen of Wallace Elliott & Co.,
on trip to Hudson Mass.

Thomas T. Matthews

I assume the arrow written in pen on the front of the photo indicates which of the salesmen in the photo was Thomas. He was my great-grandfather, born 31 Aug 1868 in Cookstown, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland; died 01 Aug 1954 in Emmaus, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.

Teenage Genealogy Tuesday

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010


Like Randy Seaver, I’m running a little low on tombstone photos, but instead of looking for something to compare with Randy’s Star Wars-themed post, I’ll share a few experiences from my shift at the Wilmette FHC tonight.

Some Ways To Interest Teenagers in Genealogy

A group of about 9 young men aged 12-18 from a nearby LDS congregation came to visit our Family History Center this evening. We didn’t have a meticulously-rehearsed plan to make it a fun experience for them,  but we did try a few things that worked. Here’s a list:

  1. We had lots of adults on hand: three FHC volunteers and two youth leaders. That allowed us to break the boys up into smaller groups and give them plenty of focused attention.
  2. The boys had received a modest “homework” assignment ahead of time to gather info from their family members. Only a few followed through, but those that did had a better experience as a result. The others were able to retrieve some info via cell phone.
  3. We did a minimum of talking at the beginning and let the boys get right into hands-on experiences quickly. Four sat down at PCs and began registering for New FamilySearch; the remaining five got a quick intro to microfilm resources, picked a film and learned how to put it on a reader.
  4. The boys looked bored when we told them about records, but when they started cranking through microfilm their interest level increased dramatically. There’s just something about records from hundreds of years ago that seems to excite curiosity.
  5. My wife had previously created a scavenger hunt listing fun questions that could be answered in the FHC with our guidance. An example: “Find Helen Keller in the 1900 MA Census. Who’s that boarding with her?” The boys each picked a different question to work on and seemed to rise to the challenges involved.
  6. Halfway through the 60-minute visit, we swapped groups so everyone got some one-on-one time at the computer with a consultant. Not everyone found a cool record online, but the ones that did enthusiastically shared their finds with the others.
  7. In a brief wrap-up, we thanked them for coming and told them they we’d love to help them make more progress in a future visit. We also suggested possible follow-up ideas to their leaders.

With “Kids Camps” planned at both NGS and the SCGS Jamboree this year, there are obviously plenty of good ideas out there for interesting teenagers in genealogy research. If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear your success stories!