Posted in Friday Finds, Websites

Friday Finds: Still shopping? Here’s a gift idea for you…

A few weeks ago I needed a gift for the outgoing director of our Family History Center.  The Family Chartmasters website came to the rescue with a beautiful “bowtie” pedigree chart.  So I am giving them a plug today.  A bowtie chart shows the ancestors for a couple, with the husband’s extending to the left and the wife’s extending to the right:

Design your own chart and give a beautiful gift.
Design your own chart and give a beautiful gift

This is actually a chart I designed myself using their easy “design it yourself option. For the gift I gave, I made a 5 generation chart on 20″ x 24″ presentation paper (archival ink) for $24.95. I added the background from their ample library, added boxes for additional children, and added embellishments and a title.  I even could have opted for a background using my own family photograph, like an ancestral church, or a family portrait.

I liked the results so well I made one for myself (that’s the one pictured above).  I chose to include 7 generations so I needed to use the 36″ x 48″ paper, but sizes begin at 8.5″ x 11” and depend on the number of generations you include.  I also had my pick of paper types, such as presentation paper, photoglossy, parchment, matte canvas, standard bond, and vinyl. The presentation paper suits me fine as I am going to frame it behind glass, but the canvas matte sounds pretty great.  This configuration will cost me $49.95, but extra copies will only be $24.98.

If you prefer, they can create a chart for you and will work with you to get it just right.  In either case, you will need to provide data for the chart.  Do this by uploading a GEDCOM file from your genealogy software, downloading from, or entering the data manually.

If you have created a family tree on you can create the world’s fastest fan chart on  Just log into Createfan using your Familysearch username and password and it will access your “Family Tree” and instantly show you a colorful 9 generation chart, created as a PDF file.

Chart from Createfan

There are links to website partners who will print this chart for you—the least expensive being Family Chartmasters above, who can print it for as low as $6 (20 lb bond, not archival) and as much as $66 (matte canvas, archival quality pigment inks).

Now, you might be wondering just how fast you can get one of these, because you are, um, still trying to think of the perfect gift for your parents, spouse, or children.  Good news! You can pay extra for expedited service, and then have it sent Express Mail and, voila, your gift problem is solved.  I finished creating my chart on a Thursday night and had it in my mailbox the following Tuesday.

This of course, presumes you have already done the research to know who should go into the chart! Not sure Family Chartmasters will appreciate my plug one week before Christmas, but they shouldn’t have given me such great service!

There are other options for creating quality genealogy charts, such as those in your genealogy software program, but I have not seen any better than Family Chartmasters. Two thumbs up from On Granny’s Trail!

Posted in Archives and Libraries, California, Friday Finds

Friday Finds: Into the Calisphere

Here’s a fun and informative website that is not just for California researchers, even though it is a part of the University of California system.  “Calisphere” is loaded with interesting content in the form of primary sources—images and documents organized into subject areas or historical era.

Topics like “Everyday life” and “Popular culture”, along with “The Transcontinental Railroad” and “Japanese-American Relocation” are just a few of the interesting things to explore which could add perspective to a family history.

I also found a helpful guide to primary source analysis, intended to help history students but applicable to family historians: “The 6 Cs of Primary Source Analysis”

Calisphere is worth a visit—I know I plan on spending some time there.  I’d be interested in hearing what you find!

Posted in Books, Friday Finds, Migration trails

Friday Finds: “The Great Platte River Road,” by Merrill J. Mattes

So your ancestors ended up Out West?  How did they get there?

Chances are good they came via the Great Platte River Road—the name for the pioneer trail that followed the Platte River.  It was actually known by many different names, depending on where an emigrant “jumped on” or “jumped off.”

The Great Platte River Road, by Merrill J. Mattes (Lincoln, Nebr. : University of Nebraska Press, 1987) covers the section of the trail from Fort Kearny (near present-day Kearney, Nebraska) to Fort Laramie (near present-day Laramie, Wyoming).

According to the preface, “It is distilled from the firsthand impressions of several hundred covered wagon emigrants, representing both sexes and all degrees of human latitude, who somehow contrived to leave something for the historical record. It is the story of their unique collective Platte River experience as it emerges from their own unvarnished journals.”

The book is worth it for the detailed maps alone, but the narrative is very informative, as well.  The Great Platte River Road—it was just about everybody’s Granny’s Trail!

Posted in Civil War, FamilySearch Wiki, Friday Finds, Google Books, Military, Military pension, National Archives, War of 1812

Friday Finds: 1883 Pension Roll

Military records are a key record group for genealogists, and pension records in particular can be a rich source of personal information about an individual.  The 1883 Pension Roll is a handy index to some of these records.  If you have a an ancestor who might have served in the Civil War (Union side only), various Indian Wars, or the War of 1812 (of course, he’d be at least 90 years old by 1883!) you will want to check out this pension roll.

It is available on the subscription site, but you can find the free ebook online at Google Books.  Each volume covers different states.  Western States researchers will want to see Volume 4:

Vol 1   Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, District of Columbia

Vol 2    New York, Pennsylvania

Vol 3   Ohio, Illinois, Iowa

Vol 4   Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, California, Oregon, Nevada, Indian Territory (Oklahoma), Dakota Territory (North and South Dakota), New Mexico Territory, Montana Territory, Washington Territory, Idaho Territory, Utah Territory, Arizona Territory, Alaska Territory, Wyoming Territory

Vol 5    Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and foreign countries

U.S. Pension Bureau, List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883; vol 1, ebook ( : accessed 13 July 2012), Maine, p 19.

Check out the “cause for which pensioned” column – yikes!  “G.S.W.” means “gunshot wound.”  Here is a list of other abbreviations posted by the Illinois GenWeb project:

The 1883 Pension Roll lists anyone on the U.S. military pension roll as of 1 Jan 1883, including soldiers, their widows, or parents – whoever was receiving a pension check.  It gives a certificate number, pensioner’s name, post office address, cause for which pensioned, monthly check amount, and the date of the original allowance.

Use the certificate number to order the original file from the National Archives online (NARA), and then run to the mailbox every day in excited anticipation. If you prefer, you can mail in an application.

Here are your ordering options on the NARA website:

1.  Compiled Military Service File (NATF 86): $25.00

2.  Federal Military Pension Application – Civil War and Later Complete File (NATF 85A):  $75.00

3.  Federal Military Pension Application – Pre-Civil War Complete File (NATF 85A):  $50.00

4.  Federal Military Pension Applications – Pension Documents Packet (NATF 85B):  $25.00

5.  Military Bounty-Land Warrant Application File (NATF 85C):  $25.00

If you are seeking a Civil War pension packet you must choose between #2 and #4.  #2 will get you a copy of the entire packet, which can be upwards of 30 pages.  It is expensive at $75.00, but cheaper than a trip to Washington, D.C.!  #4 will get you 8 documents from that same packet, chosen by the clerk at NARA. They will choose 8 that have genealogical information. If you are on a budget, this will save you some money.  If you decide you would like the complete file later, however, you will still have to pay the full $75.00.  I know…rip-off!…but still cheaper than that plane ticket.

If you merely want a Compiled Military Service File choose #1.  These are valuable, too, but I would go for the pension file first, because there is usually more genealogical information in a pension file.

If you are seeking a pension packet from an earlier war choose #3 or #4, depending on what size file you want.

#5 will get you an application file with potentially great genealogical information, too.  Veterans of the Civil War were not eligible to apply, but those who fought in earlier wars might have applied. A subscription site, Fold3, has digitized the pension and bounty-land warrant files for the War of 1812.  You can access this site for free at your local LDS family history center. It has the COMPLETE file digitized, so you don’t have to order it from NARA!  As of today there are over 255,000 documents online, but this represents only 3% of the total collection.  An index to the application files from the Revolutionary War is found at

The full citation for the 1883 Pension Roll is:

United States. Pension Bureau. List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883: giving the name of each pensioner, the cause for which pensioned, the post-office address, the rate of pension per month, and the date of original allowance, as called for by Senate resolution of December 8, 1882, Volume One. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1883.

Good luck on the trail to military pension records.  I hope this “new” source helps you out!

Posted in Census, Church records, FamilySearch Wiki, Friday Finds, LDS Church Censuses, Research tips

New LDS Census images posted

I recently posted about a little-used resource for researchers who had LDS church members in their family 1914-1960. This is the collection of LDS Church Censuses 1914-1960. The FamilySearch Wiki lists the contents of the censuses for each year. Each family in the worldwide church was counted beginning 1914, continuing every 5 years after 1920. 1945 there was no census taken because of the war.

I had known about this collection but never accessed it until this week. Here are images of the Franklin Thomas Pomeroy family in the 1914, 1925, and 1935 LDS Censuses.

Franklin Thomas Pomeroy family, 1914 LDS Census, FHL microfilm 245255

There are columns for age, gender, priesthood office, marital status, and church record number. There is a category for “where born” with columns for Utah, Arizona, Europe, Asia, Islands of Pacific, and Unclassified. The Ward and Stake is also identified, which can lead one to other LDS church membership records, such as records of ordinances, minutes of meetings, and genealogical surveys.

Since U.S. federal censuses were taken every 10 years–1910, 1920, 1930, 1940–the LDS Censuses falling in-between those years are nice to have. Here is the 1925 census:

Franklin Thomas Pomeroy family, 1925 LDS Census, FHL film 245,255

Notice that Sarah Matilda Pomeroy is enumerated with the family—she is Franklin’s mother—and the additional detail for “when born.” We also now have evidence of Sophia Isadora’s maiden name—Morris.

Here is the 1935 LDS Census:

Franklin Thomas Pomeroy family, 1935 LDS Census, FHL film 245, 255

Included in this census is the city or town of birth, and a street address. You might consider marking a map in Google Earth to show all the places where a family is known to have lived. Also, use the street view to take a walk around their neighborhood! It may have changed, but then again it may not have. At the bottom of each census for every year is, “checked with ward record by [signature].”

I am pretty enthused about this record group and plan to use them to launch into ward minutes and membership records next time I am in Salt Lake City. I expect to find details of my ancestors’ lives, such as service in callings and various ordinances received. If you have any LDS ancestry these church censuses might lead you down some interesting trails!