Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Personal Blogging is still Fading Slowly Away

I noticed an article in the news stream that indicated that Facebook's traffic is down 50 million hours per day. See "Facebook's traffic is down 50 million hours per day as Zuckerberg demands fewer 'viral videos'." There aren't equally as clear statistics for blogging because the trend is that blogs are becoming almost exclusively marketing vehicles. A not-so-recent article entitled, "52 Incredible Blogging Statistics to Inspire You to Blog" makes the statement, "Over the past five years blogging has evolved into a serious online marketing activity." Yes, my blogs are becoming an endangered species.

Of course, you are more than welcome to buy any of the books I have authored or coauthored. You are also welcome to use or purchase any of the programs I mention. But I do not view my blog as a marketing activity. I still present at conferences when I am available. But this year, I am only scheduled, so far, at two very local events. I would be at #RootsTech 2018 this year, were I not volunteering at the Maryland State Archives and working every day at digitizing records so all of you out there will have records to search.

The reality of blogging is that rather than disappearing, it has become the main news and marketing vehicle for what was previously the publishing and newspaper industry. I haven't read a paper newspaper for some time. Although, I did read the paper editions of the Universe, the student newspaper at Brigham Young University while we were there at the BYU Family History Library. I also read the paper edition of the Deseret News' National Edition, the local Salt Lake City, Utah newspaper. I read both because they were free and distributed at the entrance to the Library. I could read both online, however.

Facebook users, especially younger users, are migrating to Snapchat and Instagram. Bloggers have been migrating to Facebook for some time now and will probably follow the lead of the younger users to Instagram. Quite frankly, Facebook has simply become another junk mail outlet as have many of the blogs.

There are still some dedicated genealogy bloggers out there and a few new ones, but they are mostly drowning in a flood of commercial blogs, some of which post dozens of times a day. My blog aggregator,, and my news and blog aggregator,, can both have over a thousand posts listed in a little more than one day. In one sense, blogging is dying from success.

I am no longer actively promoting blogging as a genealogy activity. I do have occasion to talk to genealogical entrepreneurs from time to time, and I do suggest that they use the media to promote their activities and include blogs and Facebook posts, but now the field also includes Pinterest, Instagram, and other such outlets. Promoters or all kinds are also exploiting Twitter, YouTube, and Google+.

Of course, I post to all those outlets. However, my Instagram account is family oriented and not generally public.

Will I keep blogging? I was speculating about the amount of time I might have to blog here in Annapolis, but it turns out that I just work more and do some of the same things I did before coming here. My question was if I was going to work for for over 40 hours a week, what would I do with all my extra time. I guess I am finding out.

We have our five MyHeritage Party Winners

I would like to congratulate the winners of free passes to the Roaring Twenties party after #RootsTech 2018 which is quickly coming up. They are:
  • Bev Bremness
  • J Ray Scott
  • Dave & Manja Midgley
  • David Farstead
  • Linda Lenhard
Thanks to all those who submitted entries. Sorry again, that I won't be there to enjoy this great party. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

From Whence and to Thither -- Understanding Migration Patterns: Part Eight

Representation of Thomas Hooker's Settlement of Connecticut
This highly stylized image of early colonial travel and settlements is far from accurate, but it does give an idea of the obstacles facing early travel in the Colonial Era. When moving, the early settlers of America had to carry everything they needed to survive. The least realistic aspect of the above image is the lack of equipment and supplies carried by the people shown. There were no opportunities to seek out local food or shelter when they reached their destination. As roads and settlements increased the wilderness simply moved further west and north.

The main access to the interior of the American continent was by following the rivers upstream. It is no coincidence that most of the major cities in the United States are built along rivers. The most obvious access point is the vast Chesapeake Bay. Technically, the Bay is really an estuary. An estuary is a flooded river valley where the tides from the ocean meet a river stream. Here is a satellite view of the Chesapeake that shows its size.

Satellite (Landsat) picture of Chesapeake Bay (center) and Delaware Bay (upper right) - and Atlantic coast of the central-eastern United States.
Just north of the Chesapeake is the Delaware Bay, another estuary. Some of the cities along these to great waterways are Washington, D.C., Baltimore in Maryland, Dover in Delaware, Wilmington in Delaware, Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and ultimately upriver, Trenton in New Jersey. New York, did not have a huge estuary, but it did have the protected bay and the huge stretch of protected water on the north side of Long Island. Here is another satellite view showing the area around New York City.

New York STS058-081-038
This second satellite image also shows the impact of the Hudson River as a pathway into the interior of the country. The amount of goods and equipment that could be carried by boat far exceeded the capacity of wagons during all of the early history of America.

Accordingly, the migration patterns of American immigrants were governed by geographic reality: mountains and rivers. To begin to understand how your ancestors moved, you need to look to both the mountains and the rivers.

One of the basic motivations for movement from the Atlantic seaboard was the constant increase in population. One major motivating factor in moving to America was to obtain land ownership. Even though many immigrants came as enslaved people or indentured servants, those who came voluntarily were interested in land. Even among the well-known Mayflower passengers, some of the immigrants were not motivated by a desire to have religious freedom but were merchants and craftsmen. There were also some orphaned children and indentured servants. See Mayflower Compact.

It was over a hundred years after the first settlements along the Atlantic Coast before the interior began to be settled. As genealogists, before assuming that our early American ancestors were born in places like Kentucky or Tennesee, we need to be aware of the availability of transportation into these inland areas. One example is the Susquehanna River; the longest river on the East Coast. Here is a map of the Susquehanna River Basin.

By I, Karl Musser, created it - Own work: based on USGS data., CC BY-SA 2.5,
Primarily, because of the access to the interior afforded by the Susquehanna River, in combination with the Ohio River,  Pennsylvania was settled from east to west by about 1830. But to get an appreciation for the impact of migration routes, it is necessary to focus on the time each of the western states was first settled. Here is a partial list of what is considered the first European settlements for some of the states that do not have Atlantic sea coasts.
  • Vermont 1724
  • Ohio 1788
  • Kentucky 1774
  • Tennessee 1768
  • Arkansas 1686
Kentucky and Tennesee were first settled from Virginia. Vermont's first settlers came from Massachusetts. Ohio was settled because of the river systems as was Arkansas. It is important to understand how the pattern of settlement in each of these states continued after the first settlement.

The largest interior town in America, for many years, was Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The main road from Philadelphia to Lancaster was the Lancaster Turnpike. Here is a description from Wikipedia: Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike.
The Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, first used in 1795, is the first long-distance paved road built in the United States, according to engineered plans and specifications. It links Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia at 34th Street, stretching for sixty-two miles. However, the western terminus was actually at the Susquehanna River in Columbia. The route is designated PA 462 from the western terminus to US 30, where that route takes over for the majority of the route. The US 30 designation ends at Girard Avenue in the Parkside neighborhood of Philadelphia, where State Route 3012 takes it from there to Belmont Avenue. At Belmont Avenue, State Route 3005 gets the designation from Belmont Avenue until the terminus at 34th Street.
Note that the road ran to the Susquehanna River. Genealogical research becomes more manageable as you begin to realize that your ancestors lived in the context of their own history and that movement in the earliest times was dramatically restricted from what it is today.

You can see the earlier posts in this series here:

Friday, February 16, 2018

Stories and Histories of Black Mormon Pioneers

My daughter and blogging partner, Amy Tanner Thiriot, in celebration of black history month made a standing room only presented a lecture at the Church History Museum’s series titled, "Evening at the Museum," on February 15, 2018. The above article appeared online on the LDS ChurchNews section of the Deseret News website. Quoting from the article:
Professor Paul Reeve, from the University of Utah, introduced Thiriot as a “thorough and meticulous researcher.” He quoted Thiriot’s own description of her work as having been prompted by “the little known black pioneers of the Utah territory” and said that “theirs are stories that have largely been forgotten, so researching their lives has been like a second emancipation; freeing these men and women from historical obscurity.” 
And while Thiriot’s research can be looked at as an exciting new turn that brings to light truths lost or hidden by history, the quiet and somber manner with which she told the histories of 19 different black pioneers who played various roles in settling the Utah territory created a memorial-like atmosphere during the presentation.
The article is quite long and was merely a summary of the research Amy has done in writing her upcoming book, "Slaves in Zion: African American Servitude in Utah Territory."  The article goes on to comment about the stories Amy told during her presentation:
These stories, and other detailed examples of documents and records uncovered by Thiriot, are just part of what makes her research groundbreaking for the black Mormon community.
Well done Amy. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Old Genealogists Never Die

If you were spending eight or more hours a day digitizing documents this might not be funny.

Win A Free Pass to the MyHeritage RootsTech After Party

MyHeritage has given me 5 complimentary tickets to their annual After-RootsTech party. Here is their description of the party:
Dust off your dancing shoes and fish out your fedoras!
MyHeritage invites you to travel back in time to the Jazz age — The Roaring Twenties — for our exclusive RootsTech After-Party 2018.
1920s costumes are welcome but optional. Don't worry, we'll have plenty of loot (pearls and rhinestones) to adorn yourselves with at the event.
Light food and drink will be served. All guests will receive tickets for the prize raffle.
The event will be held on Friday, March 2, 2018, from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM (MST) at Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek, 75 South West Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101

I tried to think of something simple to do. To win one of the 5 tickets, email me a screenshot of a Record Match from your family tree on The first five people to respond as shown by their email time and date stamp will win. Simple as that. Be sure to include your email address and I will send the first five people a link to register. If you don't get a response from me, you did not win. 

Here is a photo of the party from last year. 

Unfortunately, I will not be at RootsTech or the party this year because my wife and I are serving a mission for FamilySearch at the Maryland State Archives as Record Preservation Missionaries. We will be here for a year from last December. Here is another photo of the party last year. 

Oh, my email address is 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

From Whence and to Thither -- Understanding Migration Patterns: Part Seven

By Datawheel - Interactive Visualization: Data USAData Source: Census Bureau - ACS 5-year Estimate, CC0,
English: United States Map of Population by State (2015)
   580k - 2.8M
   2.8M - 5.28M
   5.28M - 8.26M
   8.26M - 11.6M
   11.6M - 19.6M
   19.6M - 26.5M
   26.5M - 38.4M
   38.4M - 38.4M

Obviously, many of the families that migrated to New York state in the early 1800s stayed there and By 1820, New York had become the most populous state in the country. See Wikipedia: List of U.S. states by historical population. Today, New York is the fourth most populous state and it is outranked by California, Texas, and Florida in that order. This fact alone shows a definite migration pattern to the west and south.

My Tanner family line moved from Rhode Island to New York, leaving many relatives in Rhode Island who have since spread across the U.S. and around the world. My Fourth Great-grandfather, Joshua Tanner, died in Reeds Corner, Washington, New York. His son, John Tanner moved further north and settled along Lake George in Bolton Landing Warren County, New York. Many of the migrants who moved across the country stayed put and their descendants still live in the place where their ancestors stopped their migration. But my ancestors moved again, several times eventually ending up in Arizona.

These movements were not random, they are based primarily on external influences. Of course, the decision to move is made by the individual, but when hundreds of thousands of individuals and families decide to make the same move, the movement ceases to become random. It is true that some migrations, such as the 1930s Dust Bowl and the Irish Potato Famine are examples of situations that forced migration, but the motivations underlying most migrations are more complex and involve a spectrum of economic, social and cultural incentives. These patterns of movement and the background incentives for their existence are the keys to discovering our ancestors, especially those who are elusive.

Early migrations in North America were limited to the Atlantic seacoast. One early road is called the Boston Post Road. This road was actually a system of mail-delivery routes between New York City and Boston. Quoting from a Wikipedia article entitled, "Boston Post Road,"
The Boston Post Road was a system of mail-delivery routes between New York City and Boston, Massachusetts that evolved into one of the first major highways in the United States. 
The three major alignments were the Lower Post Road (now U.S. Route 1 (US 1) along the shore via Providence, Rhode Island), the Upper Post Road (now US 5 and US 20 from New Haven, Connecticut by way of Springfield, Massachusetts), and the Middle Post Road (which diverged from the Upper Road in Hartford, Connecticut and ran northeastward to Boston via Pomfret, Connecticut).
It is likely that the Tanners traveled this road from Rhode Island up to Boston in their trip north to New York State. They would have then traveled north and west to what is now Warren County.  It may also be the case that they traveled up the Hudson River Valley because both Warren and Washington Counties are near that river.

In the early 1700s, the rough post roads were consolidated into what has been called the King's Highway. It was far from what we would call highway today, but by 1750 there was a continuous road from Boston to Charleston, South Carolina. By the end of the 1700s and the Revolutionary War, the road had been extended from Maine to Georgia.

In looking at these dates and places, you can see that travel, except by boat on the ocean, was extremely limited until the end of the 18th Century. It was only when the economic and social forces after the Revolutionary War, including the increase in immigration, began pushing the population off of the coast into the wilderness of the interior.

From time to time, I will see careless genealogical research that assumes an early 1700s connection between people living in New England or the South where children are born in North Carolina and Connecticut or even in Vermont. Given the ability that people had to travel in these early times, these speculative connections are highly unlikely. Travel throughout the 1700s by land was very difficult and if the records seem to show a connection between to disparate geographical areas of America, it is time to reexamine the records and make different conclusions.

You can see the earlier posts in this series here: