The Online Genealogist

John Brugliera

Archive for the month “June, 2014” reaches ONE BILLION IMAGES online!!!


That’s a VERY impressive milestone for the LDS and their wonderful FREE website!

And there’s no sign of them slowing down at all.  If anything, they’ll be adding MORE images online.

It took FamilySearch 7 years to reach 1 billion; they estimate it will be 3 to 5 years to reach 2 billion.  And it’s a mix of digitizing their 70+ years of microfilm (see below), and all-new never-available-before-anywhere brand-spankin’-new titles!

And they’re not alone.  Institutions and groups from small town historical societies to major universities have been busily (and often quietly) scanning their various documents and making them available online.

So, thank you LDS for pioneering the preservation, recording and sharing this incredible amount of family history material; both online and off!!!!!!


It’s also great news for me as well, being The Online Genealogist and all.

 T-O-G Biz 01


The year of death on an actual tombstone is reliable. Any person transcribing that tombstone is NOT.


How could they have NOT transcribed two gravestones properly??  Not one, not two, but THREE wrong numbers found within these two entries.

We’ve all seen errors in printed genealogies or family trees online.  While it does keep us on our toes, it can get beyond annoying when the mainline research you’re building hinges on “facts” such as death dates and ages; exactly what you’re hoping to glean from these transcriptions.

The highlighted wife and husband are in a direct line I’m researching.  I included the others merely for comparison and to give you an idea of what information was included.


Now, I had already found Otis Kilton’s probate records online, and knew he died in 1854.  And according to everything else I had on Otis and Lydia, they were both born around 1770.  Such as the 1850 Federal Census here.


So, if the cemetery transcriptions are to be believed, Lydia was NOT 80 when she died.  And Otis?  He’ll be dead in less than 6 months, missing his 54th birthday by a few weeks.

With these serious age discrepancies, I was beginning to doubt my own ability as a family researcher.  Really!!  And I had found nothing to even hint at there being another Otis and Lydia Kilton……exactly 30 years their junior……living in the same town.  I’m no math wiz,  but something wasn’t adding up.

What’s a genealogist to do when confronted with such messed-up information?  Easy – go to the SOURCE.

Yes, The Online Genealogist takes an offline field trip!

Grafton is less than 25 miles away and yesterday was a gorgeous day for a bike ride.  Hit the nearby Northern Rail Trail (ex-Northern RR) which goes across the road from the cemetery.  Couldn’t be handier!

It’s right up here on the left.  See it??


Sorry, getting sidetracked.  Or train-tracked.

Otis Kilton!!  Such a sad-looking stone.


If you were transcribing this particular headstone, what would you be entering into your iPad?  Note any defects or wear that could make this difficult to read.  Pay particular attention to the age and year Otis was laid to rest.

Just in case it’s hard to see on that photo…  And I even underlined the numbers in dispute here!


Now, does that look like 1851 to you?  And was Otis 53; or 83, as was originally surmised?

Lydia Kilton’s gravestone is even more difficult to read.  (Snark, snark.)


Does the first number of Lydia’s age below look more like the “8” or the “5” in 1850?


Phew!  It’s NOT me after all!

This is such a great example of just plain BAD transcription.  I’m sorry, but there is NO excuse for those numbers to be so… WRONG!!!

Of course, we don’t know where the dates and ages got so screwed up.  Most gravestone transcriptions were originally written down in a notepad (some much better than others); how did they get from there to the listing that was placed online?  Was it a rush-job for the transcriber(s)?  If that was the case, why even bother??  Or maybe they were three typos on two lines.  Then fire the person that edited it!

It really doesn’t matter why these cemetery transcriptions are useless for anyone; it only matters that they ARE.  Heck, if I can’t believe two lines, what weight am I going to give to the rest of the Kilton transcriptions on that list?  Do I shrug it off as “Aw, they’re probably the only three errors in that entire list of over 1,000 individuals.”?  Or do I hit the brakes and take any entry on there with a grain of salt?

If I didn’t visit the Grafton Center Cemetery, what would I have done?  As I said, all other evidence pointed to Otis & Lydia Kilton living to their 80s, with all but their first 20 years in Grafton; most of it documented by their children’s births, annual inventory lists and tax valuations.  (Thank you LDS and!)

And besides, my now-infamous genealogy gut told me that those transcriptions couldn’t be right.  Either that, or I’ve got terrible gas

Oh, and this was on top of one of the Kilton children’s headstone.  Creee-py.


The entire middle piece for this stone was gone and the lamb is sort of just placed there.  I’m thinking it used to be at the top of the missing piece.  Hate to see that, BUT the lamb is still there!


As it turns out, this cemetery transcription was a project for the local Boy Scouts.  (Genealogy Badge??)  While their intentions were noble, “boys” would not be my first choice for transcribing tombstones.  And these two Kiltons were the EASIER ones to read!  Some of those early slate stones were extremely weathered and worn.  I wonder if those even made it to their project.  No way a slam on the Boy Scouts; only bad transcribers!

Here is the website…

And watch out for those research landmines!!


Ask about my FREE Online Quickie Search for one ancestor!!


It’s a Mocavo Two-fer!


First, big news that Mocavo has been purchased by FindMyPast.

Here is the full announcement on their home page.

I’m almost ashamed to say that I’m not subscribed to Mocavo or FindMyPastAlmost.  I mean seriously, how many of these paid-subscription websites must a genealogist cough up the bucks for?  And with some of them, you do some serious coughing!  But that’s for another post…

Funny that those two were next on my “genealogy sites to subscribe to” list, but only if I really really really really needed to.  As Mocavo is more of a search engine, I’ve been able to locate the information on my own, after their Free Forever search comes back with the results.  Same for the newspapers on FindMyPast – many are already available online for free.

So, what does this marriage mean for us?  A bad name like FindMo’Cavo??

Well, to start, a combined website/yearly subscription would be nice!  *COUGH COUGH*  (The till is dry.)

I’m sure FindMyPast and Mocavo joined forces for the very reason I’ve yet to subscribe to either; they really don’t have enough exclusive material to warrant the extra expense.  It’s almost like they’re trying to snatch up the “scraps” that Ancestry and FamilySearch (and to an extent, Fold3) don’t want.

FMP/M will have plenty to say in these coming months.  But will their combined efforts be enough to get me off the fence?

And did you know Mocavo will scan your genealogy-related books, diaries, photos, etc. for FREE?  (Love that word.  FREEEEEE.)

Simply click that Contribute button on their navigation bar.  (Or you could always just click the clickable “Contribute” I made right there.)

I recently found two local town landowners’ annual reports at a church rummage sale and mailed them to Mocavo for them to scan.  Upon doing so, they’ll add these to their collection of OCR searchable items for ALL!  It’s a GREAT service and I’m hoping that many subscribers (or not) will take them up on this offer.  So, keep an eye out, as there’s lots of genealogical stuff out there for scanning!

One very nice Mocavo niche is the central availability of such annual town reports, many of which contain births, marriages and deaths recorded during that past year.  (Obviously, better chances of seeing those for smaller towns.  Cities will simply give you the grand totals.)  Though again, with some digging, you can find most of these annuals online elsewhere..,yes, for free.

But you probably don’t want to send Mocavo anything that’s near and dear to your heart.  Especially books, as they say they need to remove the binding for better scanning, which makes perfect sense.  Read the fine print.

I’ll let you know when “my” town records come up online there.  (Supposedly, they’ll contact me AND give me credit for the data.)

So, let this be an open challenge to FindMyPast/Mocavo

Knock me off the fence!!!


T-O-G Biz 01

Speaking of newspaper marriage announcements…

I think it’s about time for some comic relief; genealogical in nature, of course!

As a young pup, National Lampoon’s “True Facts” was the source of much amusement for me.  Mostly consisting of dumb criminal stories and funny business signs, they would frequently include newspaper marriage/engagement announcements with comical pairings of the groom’s and bride’s surnames.  Such as “Black-White” (if Jack Black was engaged to Betty White), “Trapp-Dorr”, “Goode-Fellows” and so on.

When browsing through newspapers, I keep an eye out for such combos and collect the better ones, as they’re always good for a chuckle.

Here are some I found recently manually browsing through The Sun (New York City) circa 1874-1875, looking for a particular marriage.  [Note: I tweaked a few of these in PhotoShop for readability ONLY; none of the print itself was altered!]

Let’s start off going to Ohio by way of Iowa…


But neither are Italian…


Would you do business with this backwards investment firm??…


Aw, that’s sweet…


Here’s hoping their marriage turned out this way…


Exactly what many of us do…


Give us a smooch!…


Trading in one “Wolf” name for another!…


Not my first choice for a restaurant hiring…


Because that white stuff ain’t good for ya!…


And I had to include this one merely for the bizarre look of it…


It’s not bigamy, but QUADamy!  And look who one of the grooms is – ha!

And did you know that The Sun also published DIVORCES?  (Helpful genealogical tip of the day.)

Here are two such “conflicting” notices…


More like NO Moore, as in…


Nearly all of the DIVORCED notices I came across looked like the above, with just one surname for both.  So I nearly fell off the chair when I saw these!…


Yes, we needed that extra clarification – ha!

And, no – I didn’t find the marriage I was originally seeking, though did have a fun time LOOKING!


If you need any marriages, divorces, births, deaths researched, drop me a line!


OCR = Occasionally Correct Reader

When you search within scanned newspapers or books online, the results are usually derived by optical character recognition software, more familiarly known as OCR.  The idea is for the software to “read” the printed characters and “translate” them into readable/searchable words and sentences.  Unfortunately, that simple-sounding task isn’t so given the inconsistent quality of the printed and scanned material – especially when it comes to older newspapers.

Here’s more info than you’ll ever need on OCR…

And a great example of how newspaper print can “confuse” the software…


Yes, very iffy and not fully reliable.  “At” comes up as “la”, “the” is “che” and “good” here is read as “gobd”. But then it actually reads “lovers”, which looks more like “lpvera” in the copy.  As you can see, OCR resluts can be extremely sporadic.

When words are hyphenated, OCR gets really confused, which can be a source of “amuse*ment” for some, but frustration for most.

How well do you think OCR can read this obituary page from The Sun (New York City)?


Maybe it will properly capture that bold “Mary” about halfway down, but the rest of it?  Well, let’s see, shall we?

There are several free OCR readers online; just upload your image and see it magically transformed into perfectly readable text!

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, maybe not…

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: rt E ‘u“ “UV 01.0”] ’00 1.1‘   ‘In fl,§|| “||‘h’n l|.0’Jf‘¢
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i \’“|’|»” \\|\ In; \..;ln’ IA! I-n I nfln l\-nL_-l..-

Wow, it didn’t even pick up “Mary” as I thought.  The only word I see is “Inland”, which is supposed to be “Ireland”.  (Funny that WordPress itself translates some of the text into smileys!)

Let’s try another image.  It’s darker and crisper, so the results should be better than the above.


I highlighted two couples — the thinking is that the top pair will be read better than the bottom.

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But then again, maybe not.  No wonder this OCR is FREE.  (Yes, some OCR is better than others.)

If it can’t read THIS image, then this OCR is basically USELESS…


With regard to online newspaper image quality, this is about as good as it gets.  The OCR results…

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at Cmlla Church. b tho llwv. Ila I Iv . hal-
Iof. htolnll ;. Ill to OIIMI cl! 00.3″: gt!!!»
W I –
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vi .na~ A RIB.-On “mum. Jun 10. at we
“nee of gm bride‘ rum. by uvkv. Mr. ‘nu,
r. lllmn oven 03 gflllllllkg. 1% Mm mu
“DER, magma: 0 . . an. .. ol claim
LA IZY.—In the my ol Rex‘ York. Ml QM 101,?
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::::§*‘:.’%:.z.::'”,’.:a: .2’l..’.:., ..’:r:’u…”:’m.*.,’.
lIIU.—0| J I
€:%:c|’r:ac,nuct or gear) in
n mmnv. one 81.01 crazck I’. ll. lhlouvon 0|‘
Q an rrgccllulznot to uugmt.
…~.:<:>;.w.~-::…:.; “-2.1% .~.::~”- “–‘–
0 nl0tlvr‘_na¢: 1110010.” the $inu|’y. and than 0|
In non. Jun lhmou. on rnloootlnuy mange! co nt-
an In Marni Iron: Mr mo mudnoce. 810 cot IMO
at on goo-lay. Juno Ital, I’. I.
I10! \l0. 0 anmlay. Mm tn. Cnherlnt In-Ion!
1).‘: fncboluqnrnm. to the lmh {far M er cm.
R ouvn and rlentotuc um lumd I
0¢uod*no hum] Irom r Iota Fianna‘. III Mount
IL, II u1’ncQ‘. inn II. it 90′: net A .,0la0nn- 0|
1‘; .{“.’!’.’_‘! L_’!¢P;_¢”t’!’-“.9!.L’¢_9.t1.wLlMm~ rm

Wow, is that bad or WHAT?!?

Going back to the original example of the bad OCR, can it even read the RIGHT SIDE correctly??

‘nu ‘h:u?””?-.“’ ‘ ‘ uh I Family Theatre.ThU theatre wli open to-day withan
1 U48 ‘ . . . .
u “Mn ch…“ u H” n‘ I. ‘uh ent|re change of b|Il at Its mat|nee.The bull la of gobd
,¢g_ ‘pp 5‘ |i_ Q 3*] ygflgg “Q variety andwill surely please all lovers of amuse”ment.
V.” WNW 9’91 I” |F””@ 3.3.‘ One of che feature is’ MissMinerva Vano. \ h e queen
nun; ‘Om- at am fawn U’ lb .
‘mar’ ‘an.’ “t Q…‘ 0‘ “. ~‘.‘. of the handcuffs.We copy the follow|ng from
‘ml; we can the loltou-In hon
|’|’||Q flung.‘ |4»“¢;_ Rig Ilgqgg, The Evening Leader. New Haven,
|¢oan: .

Better, but still unusable.

The bottom line here is that OCR is NOT at the point where it’s fully or even partially reliable in most cases, ESPECIALLY when it comes to newspapers.  Should you ditch the OCR searches altogether?  No.  But just realize that if you don’t get the expected results, it does NOT mean that what you’re looking for is NOT within that book or newspaper.  You’ll just need to browse the pages on your own, using your OWN built-in OCR.  And as shown above, even THAT can be difficult given the varying quality of original printed matter.


And if you’re looking for a human OCR, I’m your man!




Now, why can’t all Irish genealogical research be this “easy”??

I’m currently researching a friend of mine’s main paternal Keely line and have successfully traced it back to her gggg-gf, John Keely, “born in Ireland”.  For those researching your Irish ancestors, how many times have you seen this; where you get the country of birth – that’s IT?  I know, because I’m one-quarter Irish decent and have found an origin there for just ONE of the lines thus far.  And that was only because one of the immigrant ancestors received a Purple Heart.  (Patrick J. Kyle is one of the few to be awarded the medal WITHOUT a major war going on.)

Here is John Keely’s family living in Manhattan from the 1870 Federal Census for New York City…


We see John with wife Julia, two sons and three daughters.  In determining when they came to America, the later records (census, naturalization) give their immigration date anywhere from 1862 to 1867.  If the above record is accurate, then their arrival would be more towards the lower end of that range, as Ellen’s birth year in Ireland would be calculated as “circa 1863”.

So, then it was off to search NYC Passenger Lists.  Given their large family and the fact they came over all together, they were easily found…arriving June 24 1864.  In roughly two weeks, it will be EXACTLY 150 years ago that they set foot in America.  I thought the timing of this find was sooooo cool!!  (I suggested my friend to raise a glass this June 24th, honoring the 150 years her Keelys have been here – ha!)




I have NO idea why John & Julia are listed a “Reely” while their children are “Keely”, but this is most definitely them.  Youngest Ellen is slightly “older” than the 1870 census had indicated.  (No way!  CAN’T happen!  <–sarcasm)

As many of you that have scoured passenger lists know, the larger the family you’re looking for; the easier they should be to find.  Even prior to finding them in the 1870 census, I already had John’s entire family, so when I saw this passenger list listing, I just knew it was them.  Which is one reason (of many!) why it is SO IMPORTANT to build ENTIRE FAMILIES in your main lines!  Just concentrating on only John and Julia wouldn’t have gotten me very far OR given me the confidence to say, “Yes, this IS the same family I’m looking for!”

Of course, that’s not to say that the entire family will be together during their emigration.  There are times when only the father would come over, establish a home, find work, before sending word for the wife and kids to join him here.  Believe me, finding a 40-ish John Keely sailing solo is MUCH more difficult.  Other times, the couple would marry and THEN emigrate.  Obviously, a pair is less difficult to locate AND confirm than a single individual in these lists.  And then by adding a child, or two, or FIVE, you have a GROUP to look for as opposed to just ONE PERSON.

But that wasn’t the “easy” part I was alluding to at the beginning of this post.  Note how ALL birthplaces given in the above docs are “Ireland”.  Yeah, REAL helpful, Uncle Sam; I already knew that.

So, totally switching gears, I hit’s newspaper obituary collection, specifically looking for John Keely in the New York Times.  I came across this “obit” in 1903…




Not all that much there, but his age and middle initial are a match.  And from prior FAMILY research (!!) in the NYC directories, I know that 110 E. 111th St. was John Keely JR.’s address at the time.  Now for nearly all of the obituaries for MY Irish ancestors, I was lucky if I got THIS much info on them!

But I didn’t stop there.  I had search results left to go through.  Not to mention I wasn’t fully satisfied with John Keely’s “chart” obit there!

In the Listen To Your Genealogical GUT Dept., I kept going and found this wonderful little GEM in the paper dated a few days later…




Could you ask for MORE?!?  (Well, yeah; but I digress…)  Gotta love the numeric-street-spelled-out “filler” there, huh?

Now I’m jealous.  Out of ALL the Irish research I’ve done, this is the ONLY obit that names a county AND town where the deceased is from!  And the very first line I researched for her – BOOM – location IN Ireland!!  So yes, finding an item like this is definitely more the exception than the rule when it came to our Irish immigrants!

I’ve done no further Keely research IN Ireland and whether John IS actually from Loughrea is irrelevant here.  Merely the fact that it IS noted gives me at least a STARTING point in Ireland.  Because isn’t “Loughrea, County Galway” SO much better than “Ireland”??

If YOU have any Irish ancestors (or any other nationalities for that matter), shoot me a line at and I’d be more than happy to assist you in your research!









All that nth cousin x times removed EXPLAINED!

It is quite simple, once you “get” it…




If you’re finding 6th or 7th cousins in your ancestor hunt, I’d say you’re WELL into your family history research!!





So fitting for this time of year!


I was doing research in a 1901 New York City directory, when I found this listing…




“No more pencils, no more books…

We can’t even think of a word that RHYMES!”*




*Don’t get it?  Then you’re either way too old or way too young – heh.


Internet Archive is THE internet archive

Internet Archive has everything!!!!!!

OK, not really; but close to everything – and all in one place!

It’s one very impressive website and MASSIVE undertaking.

And that is not an exaggeration!


This recent Mother Jones posting nailed it.


With regard to most of their stats, those numbers fully written out would take several pages each to print!

“Uhhhhhmm, how many digits are in a gazillion??”

Anyway, find a category on here and browse, browse, browse!



Google Street View History Feature

I’m really liking what Google Street View has available for the more-photographed areas – historic views of the same place!  Sure, it only goes back to 2008 in most cases, but it’s still interesting enough, documenting local history, albeit very briefly.

I’ll use the Kilton Public Library in my hometown of West Lebanon, New Hampshire as an example here.  In October 2008, it was an empty lot.


In July 2009, most of the frame was up.


Completed by September 2012.


And the latest shot, from July 2013.


And here’s a similar example, but reversed.  This building was just south of the library in October 2008.


Why “was”?  Because it was GONE by July 2009.


To see what’s available for a particular view, click on the clock and a history box will come up.  This example has four such views to choose from.


What does this have to do with online genealogy?  Well, it’s online and historic, but not very helpful genealogy-wise…yet.

Imagine this feature in 100 years, though!  Better yet, a great “What if?…” is if it went back 100 years now; how cool would THAT be?

Google has been attempting to do something like that in their user-submitted historic photos of various areas, but that’s not quite the same.

The main point in bringing this up is how QUICKLY things can change.  I found these two prime examples within yards of each other!

Moral of the Story:  Capture it NOW in photographs; before it’s GONE and you CAN’T.

T-O-G Biz 01


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