Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Special at Fold3

Aaaaaand... here come the Black Friday specials!

Today only, Fold3 (formerly known as is offering a 40% savings off their regular annual membership price of $79.95, which works out to be $47.95 annually, or $4.00 per month.

Since my membership is up for renewal on November 29th, I decided to take advantage of this great deal today. While doing so, I discovered that if you are already a Fold3 member, you will need to log out of your account in order to access the discount; otherwise, it will try to renew you at the regular membership price.

Go to Fold3 and click on the Black Friday Limited Time Offer ad to access this deal. Again, if you are already a Fold3 member, you will need to log out of your account first.

Happy shopping!

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I suppose I should mention that I am a Fold3 affiliate. I can't help it; I like their stuff.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

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May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off of your thighs!

~Author Unknown

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving, from our house to yours. May you have much to be thankful for in the coming year.

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Read President George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation.
Read President Barack Obama's Thanksgiving Proclamation.

Vintage greeting card from Yestercards.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

This Will NOT Be My Family Today

For your holiday viewing enjoyment, I now present Thanksgiving Dining Etiquette for Young Children: Dining Together (ca. 1951).

Let the fantasies begin.

I can't help but wonder how they got that family to behave so nicely.

"At the first Thanksgiving, the Indians didn't eat turkey with a fork, but it is easy to learn to use one the right way to take small mouthfuls."

"It is good to learn to chew with lips closed, and when to take a drink."


And what's up with those Christmas sweaters?

This will not be the scene in my house today. Except maybe for the sweaters.

For the record, I already know "when to take a drink."

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Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kids Reenact The First Thanksgiving With Smallpox Blankets And Whiskey

- Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

Best line in the movie: "We got hosed."

(At least they got the casinos, even if they are in the Mojave Desert.)

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Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection

If your ancestors hailed from Colorado, you do not want to miss the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection:

Newspapers are one of the most versatile and heavily used sources of information for researchers, genealogists, students and the general public. Feature stories, society news, classified and picture advertisements, school and church announcements, news from surrounding towns, editorials and cartoons, all give the reader the sense of "being there." Often the papers contain historical information that is not available in any other source.

About Colorado Historic Newspapers from 1859 to 1923

The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection (CHNC) currently includes more than 500,000 digitized pages, representing 163 individual newspaper titles published in Colorado from 1859 to 1923. Due to copyright restrictions, CHNC does not generally include newspapers published after 1923.

Ongoing support for maintaining and providing access to CHNC is paid for with state funds administered by the Colorado State Library and the Colorado Historical Society. CHNC continues to add new pages when community funding is located to pay the costs of digitization.

You can either browse the site by available newspaper and date, or do a more specific search. Before clicking "GO," be sure to select which newspapers you wish to search (use the Ctrl key to pick more than one), or check the "Search in all Publications" box. I kept forgetting to check the box, and had "no results" returned several times. Oops.

I discovered this site while doing research for a client whose ancestor was a traveling minister stationed in Colorado. I found tons of great information, not only about him, but also about a few other family members. The CHNC turned out to be a gold mine for me/us.

I hope it proves helpful for you, too!

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Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Something For My Bucket List

My 5 year-old daughter is watching the Disney movie Ratatouille this morning.

Not being one to miss a "teachable moment," I casually mentioned to her that our ancestors were French, like the characters in the movie.

We've actually talked about this before. I've tried to teach her a few French words using the limited vocabulary I still have from 2 years of college French.

She gave me a confused look. It took me a few seconds to figure out why.

I then explained that our ancestors were French people, like Linguini and Colette, not French rats like Emile.

She looked relieved.


A short while later, there was a scene where Emile the Rat is looking out a window over the city of Paris, and the Eiffel Tower is standing tall in the background.

I told her that that's a picture of Paris, a city in France, and it's possible that her ancestors lived there (I don't know where in France they came from).

Her: "That's pwetty. I haven't go there yet."

Me: "Yeah, me neither. Maybe we can go there together someday."

Her: "Yeah, that would be fun."

So... there's one more for the bucket list: Take my daughter to Paris.

Hopefully I can figure out where our ancestors came from first.

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Photo by Wikipedia user Taxiarchos228, and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another Excerpt from Bascomb Falls: A Family Album

An except from Bascomb Falls: A Family Album by my uncle, John Lee Swanay:

We had two kitchens,
    one in the big log house
    a regular brick kitchen,
    and the long lean-to
    in the new house we built for the hired hand.
It wasn't too new.
Great Grandpa built it
    before the Civil War.
Both blur into one room.
As we moved from one house
    to the other,
    according to the seasons,
    the kitchen remained a constant.

White velvet floors
    were etched by a century of
    lye water scrubbings,
    course brushes,
    and feminine fury at eternal dirt.

Scrolls of fly paper hung high.
Indian roses and sparrow grass fern
    in a mason jar at the window,
    flour sack curtains,
    smells of stale biscuits,
    fried pork, beans, hominy, kerosene.

No man was allowed in the kitchen
    except for shaving water.
Children were discouraged from entrance.
It was the women's realm.

Biscuits, pone, bread, johnny cake,
    roasts, roastin' ears, 'taters,
    all came hot and succulent from
    a nest of ashes
    in the fireplace.

The new wood stove,
    Frank's wedding gift to Mama in 1870,
    was used for boiling things.
Grandma, Mama, and Aunt Polly
    all knew no rabbit stew
    from the stove
    could compare to one
    simmered on the crane
    in the fireplace.
Same went for squirrel.

From five in the morning
    through nine at night
    the kitchen was a center of industry.

Bascomb Falls: A Family Portrait is a quasi-autobiographical story of my paternal ancestors' lives in Tennessee. Even though my uncle is a character in the story, my grandparents moved to California before he was born, so the story is actually written as if he had lived in Tennessee as a child.

What is Bascomb Falls? I assume that it's a fictional representation of Fall Branch, Tennessee (or somewhere thereabouts), which is in Greene County. Or perhaps it is a play on words that I don't quite understand. But Fall Branch is where the family lived at the time, and there are several references in an early part of the story that lead me to believe that Fall Branch is the real Bascomb Falls.

I love the vivid, descriptive images in this section about the family kitchen. I can almost visualize my ancestors standing around the "new" wood stove, boiling some kind of stew (hopefully not squirrel)... discussing, arguing, doing what women did back in the day.

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Composer, author, and gourmet chef, Dr. John Lee Swanay, PhD was a professor of music at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. He grew up in California, attended UCLA, and was a well-educated world traveler. He served in the U.S. Army, and was stationed in Germany. He was also eclectic, eccentric, and a bit odd. At least, I thought so.

I hardly knew my uncle; he lived in Missouri, rarely visited, and died tragically while I was still in college. He was married once, but had no children.

Much of Bascomb Falls is unflattering to my ancestors and their memory, but I can only assume that John wrote what he did for dramatic effect. Or perhaps he wasn't overly fond of his family. I doubt that I'll ever know.

Oddly, my previous post of an excerpt of Bascomb Falls has been rather popular. I frequently receive emails from people who were former students of my uncle and remember him fondly (shout-out to Kevin, to whom I still owe a response!). I thank you all for your kind words and for helping me get to know another side of my uncle.

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Swanay, John Lee. Bascomb Falls: A Family Album (Kansas City, Missouri: Swartz Printing Co., Inc, 1974), pp. 21-22.

Photo above from Old Picture of the Day.

This post was written for the Third Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge, hosted by Bill West of West in New England.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Thursday, November 17, 2011 Partners with the National Archives to Unveil the 1940 Census Parent Company Inflection Awarded Project to Make 1940 Census Records Free to the Public

REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Nov. 17, 2011 --, the website that makes discovering your family history simple and affordable, has joined in partnership with the National Archives of the United States to provide the public with free digital access to the 1940 Federal Population Census beginning on April 2, 2012. In close collaboration with the National Archives, will build a website for researchers to browse, view, and download images from the 1940 Census, the most important collection of newly released U.S. genealogy records in a decade. is pleased to contribute to this momentous project, allowing researchers to digitally access the latest release of the U.S. Federal Population Census, the ultimate resource for family historians, at no cost. Census day occurred April 1, 1940 and due to the 72-year privacy restriction these records will be available to the public for the first time in 2012.

CEO Matthew Monahan said, “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in this historic moment and demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the advancement of online genealogy research. Access to 1940 Census records will allow researchers to discover new family members and previously unknown connections to the past. We’re happy to have the opportunity to facilitate the discovery of these records, which document over 130 million U.S. residents, more than any previous U.S. Census.”

The 1940 Census will be available to the public April 2, 2012 at 9:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time) on a new website created in collaboration between and the National Archives. The collection will consist of 3.8 million images that the National Archives scanned from over four thousand rolls of microfilm. Public access to the images will not require payment or registration, and will be available to any person with internet access. The name and web address of the website will be announced at a later date.

Chief Digital Access Strategist for the National Archives Pamela Wright notes, “The importance of the 1940 Census cannot be underestimated. At the National Archives, we have been preparing for the launch of these records for years. We are working closely with Inflection to ensure researchers will be able to search the 1940 Census when it opens next year.” At launch, researchers will be able to search the 1940 Census by address, Enumeration District (ED), and geographic location. Researchers will be able to browse images by ED number directly, or use address or geographic information to locate the appropriate census schedule.

To learn more about and the National Archives bringing the 1940 Census online, please visit The National Archives also has published a number of helpful resources available to researchers on their website, which can help you to prepare to most effectively search the 1940 Census on April 2nd. As the project progresses, updates and additional information will be posted at Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #1940Census.

About is the website that makes family history simple and affordable. is owned and operated by Inflection a data commerce company headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley. It has proven its leadership in the family history industry through its commitment to building powerful, easy to use tools, and helping researchers discover new family connections with its growing database of over 1.5 billion records. parent company Inflection was chosen by the National Archives to host the 1940 Census. Learn more about the project at

About the National Archives
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent Federal agency that preserves and shares with the public records that trace the story of our nation, government, and the American people. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The National Archives is a public trust upon which our democracy depends, ensuring access to essential evidence that protects the rights of American citizens, documents the actions of the government, and reveals the evolving national experience. Visit

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Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Family Tree DNA Holiday Sale!

It's the most wonderful time of the year... that time when Family Tree DNA announces its big holiday sale! If you're looking for a gift for that hard-to-buy-for relative, consider a DNA test. Don't delay; prices are only good until December 31, 2011.

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As we approach the holiday season, we feel having one BIG promotion for a sufficient amount of time best supports our volunteer Administrators, in their effort to recruit new members. Current members will also benefit by having simultaneously reduced prices for upgrades.

Effective immediately this promotion will end on December 31, 2011.

New Kits
Current Group PriceSALE PRICE
Y-DNA 37$149$119
Y-DNA 67$239$199
SuperDNA (Y-DNA67 and FMS)$518$438
Family Finder$289$199
Family Finder + mtPlus$438$318
Family Finder + FMS$559$439
Family Finder+ Y-DNA37$438$318
Comprehensive (FF + FMS + Y-67)$797$627
12-25 Marker$49$35
12-37 Marker$99$69
12-67 Marker$189$148
25-37 Marker$49$35
25-67 Marker$148$114
37-67 Marker$99$79
Family Finder$289$199



Log in to place your order

As always, we appreciate your continued support.

Family Tree DNA

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For information about the Swanay/Swaney/Sweaney DNA Surname Project, please visit our public project page, or FamilyTree DNA. Please also feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Friday, November 11, 2011

Honoring a Veteran in My Family Tree: William H. Swatzell

William H. Swatzell, my great-great-grandfather, was born in 1815 in Greene County, Tennessee.

On August 15, 1845, he married Eliza Jane Thompson in Greeneville, Greene County, Tennessee. Eliza was born on December 26, 1825, in Greeneville, and was the eldest of 14 children of Absolum Bartley Thompson and Sarah Dodd.

William and Eliza Jane had 11 children, including my great-grandmother, Sarah Jane (Swatzell) Dunn.

William served as a Private in the 8th Regiment, Tenneseee Cavalry, Company B (Union). He was "captured by the enemy" at "Zalley Caffer" (difficult to read) on October 19, 1863.

On September 24, 1864, William died of scorbitus (scurvy) in Andersonville Prison. He is interred at Andersonville National Cemetery, grave #9719.

Thank you for your service, gg-grandpa William.

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Grave of William H. Swatzell (Andersonville, Sumter Co., Georgia). Digital Image. Photographed by Find A Grave volunteer Russ Ottens, February 4, 2008.

For more information about this family, please contact me.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Central Coast Genealogy Calendar: November 2011

"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."  ~H.U. Westermayer

Thursday, November 3
Monterey County Genealogical Society
7:00 PM (Doors open at 6:00 PM)
Junel Davidson - "Digital Gems in State Archives"

Saturday, November 5
San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society
12:30 PM Research Class "Online Map Resources for Your Family History" by Cafi Cohen
1:00 PM Business Meeting
1:15 PM Social time; book and drawing sales, snacks, coffee and tea
1:45 PM "Family Skeletons: Things Your Mother Never Told You" presented by members of the SLOCGS

Monday, November 7
Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County
7:00 - 9:00 PM
Jan Meisels Allen - "How To Begin Your Genealogy"

Tuesday, November 8
Conejo Valley Genealogical Society
6:30 - 8:00 PM
Computer Interest Group Meeting
Pot Luck and Planning Session for 2012

Saturday, November 19
Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society
9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Dr. Richard D. McBride - "Finding Records using"

Saturday, November 19
Ventura County Genealogical Society
1:00 – 4:00 PM
Judy Janes - "Finding Paydirt: Genealogical Records during the Gold Rush Era"

Tuesday, November 22
Conejo Valley Genealogical Society
6:45 - 8:45 PM - TBA

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Please send me an email if you would like to have your event included in this monthly calendar series.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal