I very much enjoyed David A. Fryxell’s article “Conquering the Continental Divide” (December 2003). But your readers should know that JewishGen’s ShtetlSeeker <www.jewishgen.org/shtetlseeker> is an invaluable resource for both Jewish and non-Jewish researchers who have ancestors from Central or Eastern Europe. I have used it to find the correct spellings of my German ancestors’ ancestral villages, as well as to map the location of those villages. When you run out of leads in one village, you often can pick up the trail in a neighboring village. Knowing the exact location of each of your ancestral homes, along with neighboring villages and the topography of the area, can give you valuable clues and save a great deal of time.
My great-great-grandfather’s native village was named on his marriage license; however, the handwriting wasn’t clear. I first found the marriage license in 1972, but more than a quarter century passed before I was able to properly identify the village. Correspondence with various experts was fruitless. Once I discovered ShtetlSeeker, I was able to identify the village in less than 15 minutes, with a little guesswork and a little luck.
That’s just one example of how valuable the ShtetlSeeker site has been to me. Anyone researching ancestors in Central or Eastern Europe should visit the JewishGen Web site — and ShtetlSeeker — whether your ancestors were Jewish or not.
Thanks for an excellent publication. It just seems to keep getting better.
Taking It Personally
Your October 2003 issue could not be any more specific to my family if I asked for it! There are always articles of interest; however, every one in this issue had special meaning to me. I have Dutch, French Huguenot and Belgian ancestry. I also have a sister-in-law who is descended from Edward Doty of the Mayflower, and I am in the process of joining The Holland Society of New York and The Huguenot Society of America. My grandfather and great-grandfather worked for the Lehigh Valley Railroad. And I can count at least eight famous people that I am directly related to: actors Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando and Lee Van Cleef; airplane inventors Orville and Wilbur Wright; Gen. George Pat-ton; NBC newscaster Tom Brokaw; and actor-singer Billy Ray Cyrus.
I can’t wait to see what is in the next issue! Keep up the good work!
Jacqueline Wells Lubinski
A Pillar of Societies
The recent article titled “High Society” by Nancy Hendrickson (October 2003) was very interesting and informative. But I was quite surprised that you did not include the Winthrop Society. I found that joining this society was just as hard — if not harder — than joining the Daughrers of the American Revolution. To join this society, you have to prove your descent from one or more passengers of the Winthrop fleet or others who settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and down East before 1634.
Paula Ryon Flagg
Editor’s note: Dozens more lineage societies exist, but space limitations prevented us from including them all — our article intended to provide just a sampling. You’ll find more-extensive lists of lineage organizations in the online Hereditary Society Blue Book <members.tripod.com/-Historic_Trust/society.htm> and The Genealogist’s Address Book, 4th edition, by Elizabeth Petty Bentley (Genealogical Publishing Co.).
I was thrilled to see on your cover the article on Belgian genealogy (October 2003) — a first for those of us researching that area, I believe. But I am very disappointed with the result, as many resources aren’t listed. An update is really needed. One major resource in the United States is the Genealogical Society of Flemish Americans (GSFA, 18740 13 Mile Road, Roseville, MI 48066, <www.rootsweb.com/~gsfa>), which has a vast library of records, censuses, death cards, histories and more that would thrill any researcher. It also publishes a magazine twice a year. The library is open to researchers every other Saturday.
A second source is the Flemish Association for Family History (VVF) <users.skynet.be/sky60754/genealbe>of Antwerp, Belgium — the leading source of Flemish research in Belgium. More links are on the GSFA Web site.
For a more complete article, please visit this site, as it gives an overview of the impressive library. And let your readers know of this valuable resource, as they can learn a lot from it and even become members.
Editor’s note: The Flemish Association of Family History’s Web site is in Dutch, but you can get a rough translation using a Website translator such as Babel Fish <babelfish.attavista.com> or Free Translation <www.freetranslation.com/web.htm>.
I was reading the article “Picturing the Past” in the October 2003 issue when the photograph captioned “Welsh emigrants leaving Liverpool, England, for Canada, June 12, 1902” taught my eye. I knew that my husband’s great-grandparents Henry and Ann Davies had arrived in Saskatchewan July 28, 1902, as part of a contingent of Welsh-Patagonian settlers who had left their homes in Argentina to avoid assimilation. I wondered if this might have been a photograph of that same group.
When I visited TheShipsList <www.theshipstist.com>, I discovered that this was indeed the case. The Web site also included a transcription of the ship’s manifest, a photograph of the ship, Numidian, and a brief article about the Welsh-Patagonian emigration.
Needless to say, I am thrilled with this discovery. I never would have expected to find a link to my family’s past in the pages of your magazine, but have been most pleasantly surprised. Thank you.
Chilliwack, British Columbia. Canada
Losing the Race
I love your magazine, but I was a bit astounded when I read your “Decode Your DNA” article in the August 2003 issue. Yes, it is possible to use DNA to verify genetic links between specific people, but there are no distinct genetic races. The idea of races is not based in any way on science. Races are purely cultural and political inventions. And if any of these genetic services were able to tell which region of the world a person’s ancestors came from, everyone’s results would come back as 100 percent African because everyone on earth descends from Africans. To imply otherwise is a disservice to your readers.
I, too, read the February 2003 issue and noted the excellent ratings for Family Origins software. I was a proud user of Family Origins from its inception, when it was still owned and produced by Parsons Technology. I continued with all the updates to Family Origins, right up to Version 10. To Chuck Tucker (Making Connections, October 2003) and all other Family Origins users: I read the RootsMagic advertisement in Family Tree Magazine, went to the Web site, examined samples of the software, and noted that RootsMagic has many of the same characteristics as Family Origins — like an update or new version. Because I agree with the high scores Family Origins received by the critic in that February article, I put-chased RootsMagic and now have it up and running on my PC. With the continued ease of use and additional features and improvements, it really is like a newer version of Family Origins. I can say the same for RootsMagic that Chuck Tucker said about Family Origins: “It is far and away the best.”
Correction: The German Genealogical Society of America library is no longer in LaVerne, Calif., as stated in our December 2003 issue. Its collection is now at the Southern California Genealogical Society, 417 Irving Drive, Burbank, CA 91504, (818) 843-7247, <www.scgsgenealogy.com/gersoc.htm>.
From the February 2004 Family Tree Magazine