Monday, May 18, 2015

Genealogy's Often-Misspelled Words

You might want to save this article someplace. I have no idea why, but many of the words used in researching your family tree are difficult to spell. I constantly see spelling errors in messages posted on various genealogy web sites. When someone misspells a word, it feels like they are shouting, “I don’t know what I’m doing!”
Here are a few words to memorize:
Genealogy – No, it is not spelled “geneology” nor is it spelled in the manner I often see: “geneaology.” That last word looks to me as if someone thought, “Just throw all the letters in there and hope that something sticks.” For some reason, many newspaper reporters and their editors do not know how to spell this word. Don’t they have spell checkers?
Cemetery – The letter “a” does not appear anywhere in the word “cemetery.” You can remember the spelling by an old saying, “We go to the cemetery with E’s.” (ease)
Ancestor – This simple word is often spelled “ancester,” “ansester,” or “ansestor.”
Ancestry – This word is often misspelled “ancestory.” I often see errors when someone is referring to the online web site.
History – More than once I have seen someone refer to their “family histroy” or “family histry.”
Descent – Perhaps not as common, but I have seen this spelled as “decent,” which sounds almost the same.
Descendant – it often appears as descendent, descentent and many others.
Progenitor – I can never remember how to spell this word. I simply try to avoid it when I am writing!
Two other words often are confused: immigrant and emigrant. Another variation is immigration versus emigration. According to Merriman-Webster Dictionary at, an emigrant is “a person who leaves a country or region to live in another one” while an immigrant is “a person who comes to a country to live there.” To repeat, an emigrant leaves while an immigrant arrives.
The late Dick Pence was quite a storyteller, and once he told of an online genealogy article he wrote in which he poked fun at common spelling errors by genealogists. He deliberately misspelled ten different words in the article, including most of the words I listed above. In the text of the article, he never mentioned that the article was a tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor.
Dick soon received an email message from an irate lady who apparently didn’t realize it was a deliberate attempt at humor. She scolded him for his spelling errors, writing, “Mr. Pence, you should be ashamed of yourself. I am an English teacher and I want to tell you that I found seven spelling errors in your article!”
(Dick Eastman)

Friday, May 15, 2015

How to Use Two Monitors-and Why You Might Want To

Two Monitor System (photo by Dick Eastman)
I have been using two 27-inch monitors on my desktop computers for years. Using two monitors at once is surprisingly easy to do. I love the convenience of my email program, a web browser, iTunes, and RSS newsreader displayed on the monitor to the left side of my desk while my word processor and my favorite genealogy programs are running in separate windows on the monitor to the right. Doing so is a time saver, and I believe it improves productivity significantly. I wrote about the use of two monitors in a Plus Edition article earlier this year at

A picture taken in my hotel room a few minutes ago.
When traveling, I always have felt constrained by being limited to one small screen on the laptop computer. It certainly would be nice to also use two monitors at once on the laptop, especially as I already do so on the desktop at home. A few months ago, I found an easy, lightweight, and not very expensive solution: purchase a second monitor designed only for laptop use. Best of all, it is very is easily packed; it easily fits into any laptop bag or backpack designed for carrying a 16-inch computer, along with the laptop computer itself. My backpack has a pocket for carrying a laptop, and I find I can easily slide both the laptop computer and the external monitor into the one pocket.

In fact, I am using two monitors on the computer I am using to write this article, as you can see by the image above and to the right. Click on the image to view a much larger version. You will note that I am viewing an email program on the laptop on the left while looking at the web site on the 16-inch monitor to the right. (I am preparing to post this article.) While I am using a MacBook Air laptop, you can do the same with Windows laptops as well.

In fact, it is possible to add a third or even a fourth monitor onto the laptop and use them all simultaneously. Admittedly, I haven’t tried that yet. I am quite happy with two screens: the one built into the laptop plus the one external monitor.

Anyone not familiar with my installation who happened to walk by and see me working might think at first that I had two separate computers running with two separate screens. However, a closer inspection shows that I have only one computer, one keyboard, and one mouse or trackpad in the laptop.

Both screens are “live” as if they were connected to two different computers, but both are really attached to the same two-and-a-half-pound MacBook Air laptop. The monitor to the right weighs about two-and-a-third pounds and requires no external power supply. I can even create a really large Excel spreadsheet that spans both screens, showing hundreds of “cells” simultaneously. That is usually an eye-popping demonstration as many people don’t realize that this is possible.

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(Dick Eastman)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Aunt Rosie Deaton's All American Slum-Guillion-The Best

(book cover by ernest Matthew Mickler)

I love to look through old recipe books. Ya never know what you will find, either resulting in a "I just have to try that" - or a good laugh. Either way, recipe books can be fun, educational and even make you miss your mama's cooking.

Many years ago while living in Florida, (actually I "had to" ..... thank you U.S. Navy) I purchased a book, White Trash Cooking by Ernest Matthew Mickler.  Not only does it have some of the very best of southern cooking, it has a bevy of southern home photos by the author. Many are from "grandmother's favorites", or the best from Uncle Willie.

Thankfully, I left Florida long ago, and have my feet planted firmly in the deep south  ... and still love White Trash Cooking.

This recipe is easy and you 'll be asking for "seconds."

Aunt Rosie Deaton's All-American Slum-Guillon (The Best)

Cook some elbow macaroni - plenty. Brown minced onion (stronger the better), hamburger and/or bacon in a skillet. Add 1 cup of whole Delmonte tomatoes, salt, pepper and all the macaroni you got. Simmer til you can't stand it any more, then take off the fire and dive in. This is especially good when you're in a hurry-up day like when there's a funeral, an auction, or a flag burning at the Legion Hall.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Honoring the Unknown

Today while my husband and I were taking tombstone photos for Find a Grave, I came across something of interest.  What I presume was the oldest section of the New Hope Baptist Church Cemetery are three rows of broken tombstones. All of those tombstones, as noted in the above photo, have the top sections broken off - with only a new inches emerging from the ground. All are no longer readable, and the names of the souls are known only to God. Originally, I thought perhaps these were the foot stones - but a closer look revealed, this is what is left of the original stone. This post is to remember these people - though we do not know who they, but pray all are at rest. This cemetery is located in Clay County, North Carolina.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Downsizing and Going Paperless

I am currently "down-sizing" and clearing my genealogy office of paper notes, scraps, and census pages I have entered into my Legacy program. If you have the same problem, and feel like the "paperwork" is about to bury you - consider a general clean out. I have been amazed at the amount of junk I cleared out so far. Special thanks to Dick Eastman on this excellent reminder. 

Warning: This article contains personal opinions.
I have written a number of times about the advantages of a paperless lifestyle. Genealogists seem especially attached to paper. We often save photocopies of old records, old books, and much, much more. I once bought a four-drawer filing cabinet to store all my paper. A few years later, I purchased a SECOND four-drawer filing cabinet. I purchased probably more than one hundred dollars’ worth of file folders over the years. I photocopied and photocopied and stored all the paper in neatly-arranged folders.
Sadly, I almost never opened the drawers to retrieve anything. When I did attempt to find something, I often couldn’t locate what I wanted because the document was filed in some obscure method. For instance, the marriage record I might be seeking often was filed under the husband’s surname, not under the wife’s maiden name.

Like a recovering alcoholic, I have since broken my addiction to paper. I now live about 98% paper-free, and I love it. Almost every piece of paper that enter my house is either (1.) discarded immediately or (2.) scanned into my computer, and then the paper is discarded. I don’t ever want to go back to cluttering my life with paper. And, yes, I have multiple backups of everything worth saving; some backup copies are stored at home, and other copies are stored off-site for safety. See for some of my earlier articles about how to live a paperless lifestyle.
An article by Jura Koncius of the Washington Post takes the same concept of living paperless and expands it even further. The article says that many Americans, mostly younger adults, are not so interested in the lifestyle trappings or nostalgic memorabilia they were so lovingly raised with. Quoting from the article:
“Members of the generation that once embraced sex, drugs and rock-and-roll are trying to offload their place settings for 12, family photo albums and leather sectionals.
Their offspring don’t want them.”

The article goes on to say, “Whether becoming empty nesters, downsizing or just finally embracing the decluttering movement, boomers are taking a good close look at the things they have spent their life collecting.”

My favorite quote from the article is, “If I can’t store my memories of something in a computer, I’m probably not going to keep them around.”
Indeed, we all need to question why we need to save the bric-a-brac of our lives. Do we need our college textbooks, sports trophies or T-shirt collections? Even more important, do we need to purchase larger and more expensive homes to keep all our possessions?

Are you planning to downsize in your retirement years? Now is the time to start planning. I had exposure to downsizing when I spent two years living in a Winnebago motor home. The adjustment was difficult at first. However, once I downsized, I found that possessions were not all that important. I enjoyed the freedom of not having to deal with all my stuff. You might find the same to be true.
Yes, even genealogists can live comfortably without paper or possessions.
You can read the article by Jura Koncius at while George Carlin’s comments about stuff may be found on YouTube at
My thanks to newsletter reader Jerry Ball for telling me about the article by Jura Koncius.
(Dick Eastman)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

DNA Sequences Can Trace Your Ancestors to Within 30 Miles

DNA sequencing can already tell us a lot about our ancestors—but now, a new technique developed by an international team of scientists reportedly allows them to pinpoint a person’s geographical origin—going back 1,000 years.
The Geographic Population Structure (GPS) tool beats previous best attempts to tie location to DNA. It claims to track populations back to the islands or villages they descend from, with a 98 percent success rate, compared to within about 500 miles for old methods.
The term “GPS”is a terrible acronym for this technique, as it has nothing to do with the very popular Global Positioning System millions of people call GPS. In this case, GPS stands for Geographic Population Structure.
You can learn more in an article by Jamie Condliffe in the Gizmodo web site at and the accompanying video at
(Dick Eastman)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2015

Proud to honor my Irish heritage today - thank you Lt. James Delay and all the others that braved the new world !