Granite Mountain Records Vault: The Video

Family Search, the genealogical records arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has posted on their website an article about their plan to digitize the 3.5 billion images on the 2.4 million microfilm reels in their collection. The reel masters are stored in the Granite Mountain Records Vault in the mountains above Salt Lake City. The Granite Mountain facility has been shrouded in secrecy. Though copies of the films are readily available for researchers at the Family History Library and at the over 4,600 Family History Centers in more than 80 countries around the world, few researchers have seen the Granite Mountain Facility.

One of the highlights of the keynote address FamilySearch President Jay L. Verkler’s keynote address at the 2010 NGS Conference in Salt Lake City was the presentation of a film that takes you inside Granite Mountain. This film is now available, in two parts.

The Granite Mountain Vault – Part 1

The Granite Mountain Vault – Part 2

Completed Transcription: “History of the Graham Family” by David Graham (1899)

I have completed posting the text of David Graham’s History of the Graham Family (privately printed: Clayton, West Virginia, 1899).

Tonight, I posted the last 99 pages of the 119-page volume. I will do some additional proofreading, and improve the navigation, but the full text is available now.

The book details the history of the Graham family in Augusta County, Virginia and Greenbrier County, Monroe County, and Summers County, Virginia (later West Virginia) from the 1720’s or 1730’s through the 1890s. There are stories of warfare with and abduction by Indians and the Civil War, lists of slaves owned by Col. James Graham (who built the Graham house, which still stands, and remains one of the oldest two-story structures west of the Alleghenies), and many other tidbits.

For Grahams of the Valley of Virginia, who migrated across the Alleghenies into what is now Greenbrier, Monroe, and Summers Counties, West Virginia, this is a seminal work. While un-sourced, the book contains a lot of detail, including transcriptions of wills and other documents, which can be validated with original sources.


I am beginning to post transcriptions and documents on this site.

My first transcription is of David Graham’s History of the Graham Family (privately printed: Clayton, West Virginia, 1899). This book, authored by my my second great grand uncle at the age of 78, is an invaluable resource. While David Graham did not source his materials, there are some referenced items that can easily be found in court records, such as wills and deeds. The book is well written, and the author had a fair sense of humor and whimsy. It is also a book of its time, and so there are racial, ethnic, and historical notions that do not fit with how we see the world today. For example, he spends a fair amount of time explaining that the Grahams, while being “Scotch-Irish” were not at all “Irish.”

Tonight, I am posting the first 21 pages of the 119-page volume. The rest of the book will follow shortly, as will other transcriptions.

Biography: Carl Lawrence Jones (1927-2003)

Carl Lawrence Jones (1927-2003)
Carl Lawrence Jones (1927-2003)

My father, Carl Lawrence Jones, was a great inspiration to me, and a man who lived through many struggles.

At the age of 16, he dropped out of school and took a train from West Logan, West Virginia to Seattle, Washington, where he lived on his Uncle Orvis’s farm and took a bus in to work in the stock room at Boeing.

While still under age, he joined the Navy with the approval of his parents, but ended up stateside, mainly in the Nebraska Navy at the US Naval Ammunition Depot, Hastings, Nebraska. (It was in Hastings that he met my mother.)

He was a recovering alcoholic, sober from 1964 until the day he died. He felt an emotional obligation to help others trying to recover from alcoholism, and was an active member of a small group that met originally in everyone’s homes.

My dad was largely self-educated, but had attended at least three colleges: Farragut College and Technical Institute, Idaho (a school that had appeared just after the War on the site of Farragut Naval Training Station, and didn’t last long), 1946-1949, before going broke; San Jose State College (just after my parents married); and LA Valley College (later called CSU Northridge), but never received a degree. He told me that he was only an algebra class away from his Bachelor’s in business administration. He never felt good at math, and tried more than once to finish college-level algebra. (In his later years, he was a long-time treasurer of AA organizations in Southern California and New Mexico.)

He was a voracious and wide reader, interested in literature, culture, medicine, psychiatry, big band jazz, social justice, history, and anthropology. The list of writers he introduced me to, and whose works adorned our walls was simply amazing now that I think about it: James Joyce, Bronislaw Malinowski, E. B. White, Franz Kafka, Gustave Flaubert, Sophocles, John Steinbeck, Margaret Mead, Dashiell Hammett, Lewis Thomas, Herman Melville, Kurt Vonnegut, Guy de Maupassant, Lucretius Appelius, D. H. Lawrence, Samuel Johnson, Lillian Hellman, Bernard DeVoto, C. S. Lewis (the non-fiction works), W. Somerset Maugham, William Faulkner (especially The Reivers) … I could go on, and probably will at some point.

He was dedicated to the social equality of African-Americans and grew up offended by Jim Crow West Virginia. He told me once that the main reason he left the South was to get away from the treatment of African-Americans he witnessed there. He was also a life-long supporter of the union movement, his father having been a long-time union local president of the International Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen. In politics, he was an FDR Democrat.

He was interested in music, especially in the big band jazz and folk music of his youth. He also listened to more recent jazz, and popular music, including Jim Croce, the Beatles, and Eric Clapton. In classical music, he favored the Romantic period, especially Beethoven.

His work life had its challenges. His experiences in the Navy and at Boeing led him toward aerospace as he moved to Los Angeles in the late 1940’s from Idaho. He worked in the stock room at Borg-Warner, and later was in purchasing at a number of airplane manufacturers and retro-fitters: Ted Smith, American Aviation, and Volpar. The work was cyclical, however, and he was often out of work because of a layoff (American Aviation and Volpar), or a factory moving to Texas (Ted Smith). He did what he had to do, and in his 60s, for example, was doing painting when he couldn’t come by a job in aerospace purchasing.

As you may have been able to tell, I felt an affinity with my father that goes beyond words. There were many ways that we thought alike, had similar tastes and predilections. He liked a leisurely day with a book better than most people. He could also be difficult to get close to, and argumentative. I believe much of this stemmed from a sadness that he was able to let go of in his later years. He told me that Christmas was always a sad time for him, and later, that this feeling had softened, and that he no longer felt that way.

I wish he were around and healthy, as there is much he would be interested in the family stories I have uncovered. And I would like to sit down and finally read Stendhal’s The Red and The Black with him, as I long said I would …

“Farragut State Park,” Wikipedia: : accessed 12 May 2010.

The Otis Historical Archives

The Otis Historical Archives of the National Museum of Health and Medicine was created in 1971 to house the Museum’s rare and historic books.

“The Archives has several strengths. The Museum’s unique heritage makes it a rich repository for information on American military medicine, particularly the Civil War period. The archives is also home to an extensive photographic collection, including many early photomicrographs, abundant examples of medical illustration from the Civil War and World War I, films and videos, and trade literature and advertisements from the late 19th century.”

I know that the next time I visit Washington, DC, if I can arrange in advance, I hope to spend an afternoon looking at the medical documentation about the Civil War, especially the experiences in prisons and field hospitals.

If you plan to visit, check their website first, as their hours are currently Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4 p.m., by appointment only. You can contact the archivist at: (202) 782-2212.

The Archives has begun a program to digitize portions of its collection “written or held by the Museum and not in copyright” and make them freely available on its website. Among the titles available on the Otis Historical Archives Download Page are:

  • The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (1861-1865), (published between 1870 and 1883). A monumental, six-volume work on this critical subject. During the Civil War, more soldiers died of disease and in medical treatment than in direct combat. This describes the state of the medical profession in the field, and the nature of Civil War wounds, illnesses, and treatments. It is indispensable for the Civil War researcher.
  • Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, another quite extensive set of volumes, fifteen in all, published between 1923 and 1929. I have not delved into this one, but want to see what I can learn about the Spanish Influenza epidemic, which killed more Americans than World War I itself. (Among the victims were my great grandmother, Alice Margaret Gregg, her daughter Bethene Blanche Johnson, and Alice’s niece, Charlotte Gregg. Another nephew probably died of it, though it may have been too early in the epidemic to have been correctly diagnosed.)
  • The Annual (Yearbook) of the Walter Reed General Hospital from 1921, 1923, 1925, 1926, and 1927, and Taps, the yearbook from 1929, 1930, and 1931.
  • A Medical Survey of the Bituminous-Coal Industry (1947), Coal Mines Administration, US Department of the Interior.
  • Decorations and Medals of the United States of America (1943), John Wyeth and Brother.

The two titles that were published by the Museum itself and are available on their website are:

Where in the World: Technical Tools for Locating a Place

Despite an expanding wealth of online resources, genealogists will always need to “hit the road.” In addition to visiting local repositories, court houses, and libraries where unique and “not-yet-online” resources are available, genealogists want to visit old farms, churches, and cemeteries. They want to see the home places of their ancestors. They want to feel the wind on the prairie of Nebraska or see the snow fall on a New Hampshire field.

Through the use of some handy software and hardware tools, the tradition of the genealogy trip is becoming easier to manage and easier to accomplish.

The key to a successful journey, whether it’s a genealogical research trip or a vacation to the islands, is planning. You want to pack the right stuff, get the tickets, and arrange for pet sitting. More specifically for a genealogy trip, in addition to your research plan, you want to know how to find the old homestead, the repositories, and the cemeteries. In other words, you want to place your family history locales on a contemporary map.

Read more

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: mtDNA

Three Generations of Arnold, Gregg, and Johnson Women
Three Generations of Women

(Clockwise, from top left:
my grandmother
Helen Kjerstine Johnson, her sister
Bethene Blanche Johnson,
their mother, Alice Margaret Gregg,
her mother, Helen Edwina Arnold)

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings has posted his ideas for Saturday night genealogy fun. I’m game!

Randy asks us to think about and respond to the following:

“1. List your matrilineal line – your mother, her mother, etc. back to the first identifiable mother. Note: this line is how your mitochondrial DNA was passed to you!

“2. Tell us if you have had your mitochondrial DNA tested, and if so, which Haplogroup you are in.

“3. Post your responses on your own blog post, in Comments to this blog post, or in a Note or status line on Facebook.”

Here’s my matrilineal line:

a. Jordan D. Jones
b. Alice May Hill (living) m. Carl Lawrence Jones
c. Helen Kjerstine Johnson (1894, Ord, Valley Co., NE – 1976, Simi Valley, Ventura Co., CA) m. Ernest Melvin Hill
d. Alice Margaret Gregg (1870, East Nodaway, Adams Co., IA – 1919, Ord, Valley Co., NE) m. Nels “E” Johnson
e. Helen Edwina Arnold (1847, Wheeling, Ohio Co., VA – 1922, Des Moines Co., IA)
f. Esther Ward (circa 1821, probably near Ohio Co., VA – unknown) m. Paul Arnold
g. [Probably Sarah LNU [possibly Swan] (circa 1796, PA – 1863) m. Joseph Ward]
h. [Unknown, but possibly Elizabeth Bowen (1773, Muddy Creek, Greene Co., PA – 1823, Grave Creek, Marshall Co., VA) m. Henry B. Swan]
i. [Unknown, but possibly Nancy Agnes Crea (1750, Muddy Creek, Greene Co., PA – 1791, Dunkard, Greene Co., PA) m. Thomas Bowen]

What’s exciting about this is that looking at my maternal line again, I picked up the trail of my 3rd great grandmother, Esther Ward.

I had not been searching widely enough for her. Her husband Paul Ward appears in the 1850 Marshall County, Virginia Mortality Schedule, and I had not been able to find her in the census for Marshall County, Virginia, where Paul was listed. She didn’t appear in Virginia at all, in fact, or in other nearby states.

I didn’t find her in Virginia or other local states because she had moved to Danville, Iowa, and she was incorrectly indexed (as “Hester Ansell”).

But tonight, I found her in the 1850 Census in Danville Township, Des Moines Co., Iowa, with what I strongly believe are her parents, as well as her children Elizabeth, Rollin, Joseph, Helen, and Paul. (I had known about Rollin, Helen, and Paul, and their ages are all on target.) On, this is linked with the extra information, though none of has any sources cited, so it is all conjectural at this point, but something to start with, if only to rule it out when the documents come in.)

All of this led to finding Sarah and her husband Joseph Ward in the transcription of the Blakeway Cemetery, Danville Township, Des Moines County, Iowa on the US Gen Web site for Des Moines County, Iowa.

So, it’s been an interesting night! But back to Randy’s other question.

2. Yes, I have had my mitochondrial DNA done.

I’m in the H haplogroup, along with “about 30% of all mitochondrial lineages in Europe [today]”, according to Charles Kerchner’s MtDNA Haplogroup Descriptions & Information Links. I have had some close matches, but nothing that made any genealogical sense. This is mainly because the granularity of MtDNA haplogroups is such that you can only see deep ancestry, long before genealogical records or even most of what we think of as our national origins.

Now, if you happened to he in the H2a5 subclade of the H haplogroup, you would know that your family probably “originated” in the Basque region of what is now Spain.

Of course, we all know that our origins lie in Africa, even if we have the admixture, I recently mentioned here, with Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, the Neanderthals… who probably also came from Africa.

Even stating all that, though, I still find mtDNA interesting, as one finds out facts such as that the H haplogroup is prominent in Europe, but also by the Caspian Sea. We think of migrations in terms of our recent history, but human migration is a much longer trend, from Africa to the Caspian to Europe to America: we just keep moving. “A collaborative research platform”

I came across an interesting website called It is a combination of a social bookmarking site, such as, and a note taking, web content storage site, such as

Diigo allows you to store bookmarks from across the web, tag them with multiple tags, and share these links with others. You can also mark bookmarks as private, in case you do not want to share them, or you can post them to particular groups of users in the social network of

While is a powerful tool, one thing it lacks is a true social component, where users could create interest groups to share links within the group, not simply based on tags. The Evernote desktop application and its companion site are one of the most useful sites for gathering together notes, images, snippets of webpages, and so on. Evernote allows you to collect content in notebooks, and share content on a notebook-by-notebook basis. Notebooks can be shared with individuals or with the world. But there’s no way in Evernote to create groups, join groups, and share with other users who have a common interest.

Where really shines is in its focus on research. As you traverses the web, you can store URLs, save text and files (web pages as well as images and PDFs), and highlight and annotate them. These notes and annotations can be shared with the social network on the site, making it what what the folks at Diigo call “a collaborative research platform.” As opposed to a social network about everything, including games, and so on, like Facebook, the folks at Diigo say their site is a “social information network.” It has been recognized by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) as one of The Best Websites for Teaching and Learning.

There are toolbars available for Firefox and Internet Explorer, a one-button extension available for Chrome, and a bookmark button for Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. There is some support for the iPhone, but it seems a bit clunky.

I have created an account on and will try it out.

I don’t expect it to replace or, as it’s in a slightly different market than those products. (By the way, there’s an integration with from, allowing you to post the links you create on to your account.). The lack of an offline tool, such as what Evernote has, means that I would not be able to take notes where wi-fi is not available, but I see a lot of value in, especially for the ease of sharing research materials with other members of a research community.

Our Neanderthal Ancestors

The science magazine Nature has published an article that claims to prove that Europeans and Asians have traces of Neanderthal DNA: “European and Asian genomes have traces of Neanderthal.”

Svante Pääbo leads a team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Leipzig. They have been sequencing the DNA of Neanderthal bones found in Vindija Cave in Croatia. When they completed their initial work on the Neanderthal DNA a year ago, the scientists wanted to compare the Neanderthal DNA to sequenced DNA of modern individuals. Their sample modern DNA came from people in France, Africa, China, and Papua New Guinea.

What they found was that 1-4% of the DNA of Europeans and Asians comes from Neanderthals. This was not true of Africans. Their estimate is that migrating humans in Europe and Asia Minor interbred with Neanderthals 45,000 to 80,000 years ago.

Talk about deep genealogy!

There will be a lot of further research into the implications of this partial ancestry of humans from near cousins in the distant past. Are there any traits or vulnerabilities or survival strengths some of us come to because of this ancestry? There will be much to ponder as the research results are completed.

Kalaupapa, HI Genealogy Resources

I posted a film yesterday about a woman discovering information about her great grandmother who lived in what was called the Kalaupapa (Moloka’i) Leprosy Settlement. Wikipedia has this to say about Kalaupapa:

The county is coextensive with the Kalaupapa National Historical Park, and encompasses the Kalaupapa Settlement where the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, the territory, and the state once exiled persons suffering from leprosy (Hansen’s disease) beginning in the 1860s. The quarantine policy was lifted in 1969, after the disease became treatable on an outpatient basis and could be rendered non-contagious. However, many of the resident patients chose to remain, and the state has promised they can stay there for the rest of their lives. No new patients, or other permanent residents, are admitted. Visitors are only permitted as part of officially sanctioned tours. State law prohibits anyone under the age of 16 from visiting or living there. With a population of 147 at the 2000 census, Kalawao County’s population is the second smallest of any county in the United States, ahead of only Loving County, Texas. Ranked by median household income, it is the poorest county in the United States.

(Source: Wikipedia: : Accessed 5 May 2010)

People who are looking into ancestors who lived in Kalaupapa do not have a lot of resources. If you are doing family history in this locale, here are some places you could try:

  • Hawai‘i State Archives, Genealogy Research Guide (which includes some digitized vital records)
  • Linkpendium > Genealogy > USA > Hawaii and the Pacific > Kalawao County
  • US GenWeb Archives for Kalawao
  • Remembering Kalaupapa
  • Kalawao County HI GenWeb
  • Family History Library Microfilm from the Church of St. Francis of Asissi, one reel, including:

    Baptisms 1927-1964, 1978 (FHL US/CAN Film 1025712 Item 1)
    Marriages 1896-1909, 1927-1977 (FHL US/CAN Film 1025712 Item 2-3)
    Confirmations 1927-1975 (FHL US/CAN Film 1025712 Item 4)
    Church accounts 1889-1891 Deaths 1904-1927 (FHL US/CAN Film 1025712 Item 5)
    Deaths 1927-1977 (FHL US/CAN Film 1025712 Item 6)
    Register 1873-1930 (photocopy of orig.) (baptisms, confirmations, marriages, burials) (FHL US/CAN Film 1025712 Item 7)