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)