Monday, December 2, 2019

Rootsweb WorldConnect is Dead?

I recently found that Rootsweb would be soon allowing new gedcom uploads for their free WorldConnect tree site and I was pretty excited because it had been more than a year since I had been able to update my family tree there.  However, the reality of what they were offering didn't measure up to what I expected.  In the past, I was able to upload a new gedcom that would preserve the link to the tree so that I could share it.  That is no longer true.  I wish I had screenshots of the wonderfully useful site that it used to be. 

To update my tree now, I must upload a new gedcom which will create a completely new tree with a new URL.  My old tree is still there, but there is no way to update it and the site is not user friendly for searchers or tree owners. 

For example, this is the link to me in my own tree:  Individual Page

I'm very disappointed.  Maybe the functionality will get better in the future, but until then, I have removed the link to WorldConnect from my own personal genealogy page. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Here's to serendipity and shaky leaf hints!

Just a couple days ago I mentioned in a comment on Facebook that I had never been able to track down the burial place of a son of my 3rd great-grandfather, Michael McDaid.  The son's name was William Riley McDaid and Civil War pension files mentioned that he had died of smallpox in Washington DC in 1863, but there was no information about what had been done with his body.  He was a member of a West Virginia Cavalry unit that fought for the Union and he had enlisted just over the state line from where he grew up in Pennsylvania.  Occasionally, I would search or to see if there was any new information about him, and I made a couple of finds that got my hopes up for a while, but those clues never led to solid evidence.  

For example, I found two entries for him in a database on Ancestry called "U.S., Burial Registers, Military Posts and National Cemeteries, 1862-1960".  

This one under Wm McDaid, lists him with burials at Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery in Maryland.  It called him a member of the 1st Virginia Cavalry, technically correct because there was no West Virginia yet at the time when he died.  I was afraid this meant that he had been mistakenly identified as a member of the Confederate Army.  


Then there was some information in the same database which was indexed on Ancestry under "Rebel William R McDaed", again making me afraid he had been misidentified as a soldier in the CSA.  The tiny writing above his name mentions Arlington, Virginia, but the information with the link to the image looks like this, showing his burial place as "Soldier's Home Cemetery" which is in Washington, DC.  In retrospect, I wish I had paid more attention to the words "Arlington VA".  You'll see why if you read on.

This was the full page:

As I could find no other indication that William R. McDaid had been buried at either of those places, I connected both records to him in my tree on Ancestry, but I continued to leave his burial information blank. 

Since I had been thinking of him a couple days ago, when Ancestry showed me a shaky leaf hint with his name yesterday I looked at it right away instead of ignoring the hint as I often do.  This time it showed me this record from a database called "U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962"

This showed that he had been buried at Arlington National Cemetery, a place I've visited a few times in the past, never suspecting that a relative might be buried there.  It also mentioned another place where he may have been interred, Harmony Grove Cemetery.  Had he been reinterred more than once, or were the previous records mistaken? Maybe I'll be able to track down that mystery someday.

So...I googled Arlington National Cemetery burials and found that the cemetery has a searchable database online at Arlington National Cemetery.  A search for William McDaid led me to this, which includes a photograph of the gravestone itself.

His date of death matches what I already knew, so I think I can say that it's certain that my great great great Uncle William was indeed buried at Arlington and I'm relieved to be sure that he was not misclassified as a Confederate Soldier when he died.  I've been wondering for years how I would go about correcting the record of that had happened.  I can't wait until I can make another trip to Washington DC sometime to visit his gravesite in person. Until then, I'll have to be satisfied to visit his memorial on where someone had created his entry under "W. R. McDaid" with no further information.  I sent some corrections to that member and she updated his online memorial right away with his estimated birth year (about 1840) and his exact date of death as well as connecting him to the rest of his family on Find a Grave!  The photograph submitted there looks very different from what is shown on the ANC website, so maybe the original stone was replaced, or perhaps the picture on the ANC site is not an accurate view of the real marker.  This is what was photographed by FindaGrave member "Hope" in 2008:

Pvt William Riley McDaid (1840-1863)

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Rootsweb is coming back!

I just learned this the other day.  According to the Rootsweb blog, we can start requesting to have our websites restored.  For instructions visit:  

Or if you just need a way to download the content of your Rootsweb site, you can find directions for that at:

I'm feeling very hopeful today! 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Rootsweb down...nobody knows how long 😱

I haven't completely abandoned this blog, but I'm just checking in today to share some info that I found out last week.  Apparently Rootsweb has been down for a few weeks and there's no word on when it will be back.  On a personal note, it's very inconvenient for me because I maintain two trees on WorldConnect and quite a bit of data on my personal pages at Rootsweb Freepages

Read what Ancestry has to say about the problem at:

RootsWeb Security Update


UPDATE 1/10/2018:

Screenshot of Rootsweb Home Page 1/10/2018



Sunday, August 23, 2015

Photos from Paint Bank Community Cemetery

I promised pictures of my grandma's grave. Below is a slideshow of the best shots I took when I visited on July 12.

You can visit a direct link to a full-sized slideshow here or view the entire album by clicking on the thumbnail below!

Paint Bank Community Cemetery

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mattie Tolbert Found at Last!

A couple of weeks ago, I made what was probably my most exciting discovery since I started researching my family history in 1997.  I finally discovered what had become of my grandmother, Mattie Tolbert.  She was my mother's mother, and I have written a little about the mystery associated with her in the past, first of all in an entry from 2009 HERE, and then later I mentioned her in my mother's biography which you can read HERE.

Honestly, I had pretty much decided that it would be impossible to find her.  My cousin, Anita, told me that Mattie's brother, Henry Tolbert, used to say that he knew where she was buried, but that he died suddenly in a car accident without ever telling anyone.  Another cousin told me at a family reunion in 2001 that many people in the family believed that Mattie's husband George had murdered her and got away with it.  I get the feeling that Mattie didn't want to be found.

Back in March, I was searching and came across the following obituary for my great-grandmother, Rhoda (Webb) Tolbert Wilson.  In it, her daughter Mattie is called "Mrs. Mattie Talbert of Paint Bank, Va."  Well, that got my attention because it seemed to indicate that Mattie was still living in 1960 when her mother died and that Rhoda had been in touch with her.

G-grandma Rhoda (Webb) Tolbert Wilson.  Mentions daughter Mattie, my grandmother!

I started wondering if I could use that snippet of information to find Mattie.  First of all, I found that Paint Bank is an unincorporated place in Craig County, Virginia.  That led me to a page called Craig County, VA-Cemetery Listings.  When I searched for the name Mattie from the search link, I found a transcript of a cemetery that listed:
ANDERSON, Mattie H. 28 Aug 1897 - 25 Sep 1965 (Obit Has Mattie Haven)

Another listing for that cemetery can be seen at: which also includes photographs.

I haven't tracked down a copy of the obituary yet.  I was encouraged by the fact that this Mattie's middle name was "Haven".  Some handwritten papers I've seen in the past looked like her name was "Haner" but I could see how sloppy handwriting might mean that Haven would look like Haner.  Another "coincidence" was Mattie Anderson's birthday.  If you read my mother's bio, you'll see that she never knew when she was really born, but she celebrated her birthday on August 28.  What could make more sense than that my mother's grandfather, Mattie's father, would give my mom the same birthday as her own mother?

My next step was going to be to try to send for a copy of Mattie Anderson's death certificate.  The state of Virginia only allows close family members to request a copy, and since I couldn't know how much information would be on Mrs. Anderson's death certificate even if I did have the right person, I wasn't sure whether they would send it to me.  And wouldn't you know, my own financial status was a little iffy during that time, so I was waiting until I felt I could justify the $12 fee for what might be a wild goose chase.  I had even had to let my paid Ancestry account lapse soon after, so I wasn't following closely what new databases they were adding.  When I saw a posting somewhere that the state of Virginia had made their death certificates available on Ancestry, I did a search for Mattie Anderson and saw a possible match.  I shared the search results on a Facebook genealogy group that I belong to, and a wonderful person looked at it for me and sent me this information:
Name: Mattie Haven Anderson
[Mattie Haven Tolbert] 
Gender: Female
Race: White
Age at Death: 68
Birth Date: 28 Aug 1897
Death Date: 25 Sep 1965
Death Place: Clifton Forge, Virginia, USA
Registration Date: 28 Sep 1965
Father: William Tolbert
Mother: Rodie Ann Webb
Spouse: Lonnie Pearl Anderson
Certificate Number: 1965024346
Military Status: none
 I was stunned!  It really was her!

I have since renewed my paid account.  You can see the death certificate image at:

Click here
I had also found an entry for Mattie Haven Anderson on Find a Grave which the kind contributor transferred to my control.  It has been very satisfying for me to be able to connect Mattie to her children's memorials and to see the photograph of her gravestone that's posted there.  In July, I plan to drive up to Paint Bank to visit Grandma Mattie's grave in person and I hope I can find a local library where I can search for a copy of her obituary.  I will be sure to post photos when I go! 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

#52Ancestors Week 26: Pennsylvania Death Certificates on for my paternal great-grandfathers

Yes, I know I skipped 9 weeks of ancestors.  I always seem to have an excuse don't I?  Who knew that a "mild" case of shingles would take so much out of me?  I'm hoping that I can get back on track with my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks!

This will be a quick entry.  I mentioned before that has death certificates online for the state of Pennsylvania which is where almost all of my dad's side of the family lived.  Last week, they updated the database by adding the dates 1925-1944.  This makes my two paternal grandfathers' death certificates easily available to me for the first time, as well as dozens of collateral relatives.  Be sure to take a look below at the certificates for George Andrew Atkinson and Charles Edgar Fife.
Click here
Click here

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

#52Ancestors Week 17: William Chase

Once again I'm too late making my entry to get into this week's 52 Ancestors: Weekly Recap.  But since I don't want to lose my momentum, I'd better write something, right?

When I wrote about Barnabas Chase, my missing link to my previously unknown Massachusetts ancestors, I embedded a book that recorded many of his ancestors in America. I want to talk about William Chase, whose descendants are recorded in that book.  I've recently received information that takes his ancestry back a few generations.  His line is the longest in my family tree; he was my 10th g-grandfather!

William and his family came to America with John Winthrop in 1630, making me and his other descendants eligible for  membership in the Winthrop Society.  I have never tried applying for any of the hereditary societies that I might be entitled to join, so I don't know what kind of documentation might be required.  For more information see their website.

Something I find interesting about William Chase is that he was a signer of the Freeman's Oath.  The book embedded below defines those men as:


A Freeman of this colony was a member of the body politic and as such entitled to exercise the right of suffrage and to hold office.

As early as 1631, in order to become a freeman, it was required that the applicant produce evidence that he was a member of the Congregational church. But this regulation was modified in 1664. Freemen were admitted by the General Court of the colony.

The Winthrop Society page lists the original signers HERE with this description:

Redacted and introduced by Marcia Stewart,
Chairperson of The Winthrop Society

A primary goal of The Winthrop Society is to determine the identities of the first settlers of Massachusetts Bay Commonwealth. There are no firmer grounds for establishing an early settler among the founders of the Commonwealth than the lists of the first Freemen --- those who applied for that estate in Boston in October, 1630, and those so sworn thereafter.  The Freemen were the only colonists who were franchised to vote, and the franchise was not offered to all. One generally had to be a mature male church-member, and must have experienced a transforming spiritual experience by God's grace, as attested by himself and confirmed by church leaders. Therefore, the list of names below represents just a small percentage of the population. And apparently, a number of qualifying church-members would not take the oath because they had problems with the wording. An oath in those times was taken very seriously, as though it were a promise made directly to the Almighty with ones soul forfeit in the breach. Numerous persons who are on church and court records of 1630-1632 did not take the oath until 1634, when the oath was shortened and modified to replace the persons of the Governor etc. to whom obedience was due with the impersonal "common weale." Others, such as those who later became Quakers, objected strongly to oaths in general. One can understand all their reservations when one reads this "mother of all American loyalty oaths," below.

The Oath of a Freeman, or of a Man to be made free.

I, A B, etc., being, by the Almighty's most wise disposition, become a member of this body, consisting of the Governor, Deputy Governor, Assistants and a commonalty of the Massachusetts in New England, do freely and sincerely acknowledge that I am justly and lawfully subject to the government of the same, and do accordingly submit my person and estate to be protected, ordered, and governed by the laws and constitutions thereof, and do faithfully promise to be from time to time obedient and conformable thereunto, and to the authority of the said Governor and Assistants and their successors, and to all such laws, orders, sentences, and decrees as shall be lawfully made and published by them or their successors; and I will always endeavor (as in duty I am bound) to advance the peace and welfare of this body or commonwealth to my utmost skill and ability; and I will, to my best power and means, seek to divert and prevent whatsoever may tend to the ruin or damage thereof, or of any the said Governor, Deputy Governor, or Assistants, or any of them or their successors, and will give speedy notice to them, or some of them, of any sedition, violence, treachery, or other hurt or evil which I shall know, hear, or vehemently suspect to be plotted or intended against the said commonwealth, or the said government established; and I will not at any time suffer or give consent to any counsel or attempt that shall be done, given, or attempted for the impeachment of the said government, or making any change alteration of the same,contrary to the laws and ordinances thereof, but shall do my utmost endeavor to discover, oppose, and hinder all and every such counsel and attempt.  So help me God.

Monday, April 21, 2014

#52Ancestors Week 16: Mary Frances (McConnell) Fife

Better get my submission for week 16 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks done in time; don't want to miss the deadline for the weekly recap again!

I've written about my 2nd g-grandma, Mary Frances (McConnell) Fife before, way back in 2009 for a Tombstone Tuesday entry, HERE.  I hope you'll visit that page to learn for more about Mary Fife's life.  Her husband died young in a violent accident, so I can't help thinking of her life as tragic.  

You may know that and the state of Pennsylvania have recently made the images of Pennsylvania Death Certificates for the years 1906 to 1924 available to Ancestry members at 

This past weekend, I went crazy looking for the records of relatives who died during that time.  One that I found, for the first time, was the one for Mary F. Fife.
Click HERE to view
I already knew her full date of birth and death, I've visited her grave at Bethel Cemetery many times, and I know enough to realize that her mother's maiden name was actually Ann Jane Morrow, not "Mary McConnell" as it's listed on the form.  What I didn't know was that she lived with her daughter, Kate McGinnis, in Wilkinsburg, PA, at the time of her death.  And I discovered that she died of breast cancer.  That actually scared me a little.  I know how important it is to know my family's medical history and I was concerned enough to search for information about how concerned I should be about the fact that my great-great-grandmother died of that illness.  I quick Google search for making a medical family history.  Not one page I looked at mentioned collecting information further back than my grandparents.  I suppose that means that I don't have to be overly concerned about Mary Fife's cause of death.  

But I found an interesting website that has inspired me to collect more of the information that I should have for my own medical history at My Family Health Portrait.  It's probably not the only site like that, but I think it will work well for me.  Check it out!