Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - How Many Surnames?

From Randy Seaver at Geneamusings, this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is counting unique surnames in our genealogy management program, whether software or online based.

I have 305 unique last names in my genealogy program.

Using Reunion, this is how I did this:
  • Go into Reunion's "list" menu
  • Select "last names"
  • Select "all people"
The result, is a table that lists all unique last names, with a count of each, the earliest and most recent dates for each, and the number of living people with the name.

The top five surnames in my database are:
  1. Worrall - 73 people - from 1719 to 2011
  2. Greenleaf - 68 people - from 1652 to 2011
  3. Cadwalader - 67 people - from 1677 to 2011
  4. (tie) Adams - 40 people - from 1626 to 2011
  5. (tie) Biddle - 40 people - from 1669 to 1945
  6. (tie) Coolidge - 40 people - from 1728 to 1929
  7. Fell - 35 people - from 1668 to 1961
  8. Meigs - 33 people - from 1708 to 1905
  9. Sharples - 32 people - from 1663 to 1851
  10. Addams - 30 people - from 1746 to 1951
The list defaults to an alphabetical sort, but all columns are sortable in either ascending or descending order. The results can also be exported in a variety of formats. The default export is to a Word document, but there is also an option to export the surnames list as a tab-delimited text file, which enables it to be imported into a spreadsheet program like Excel.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

WikiTree Widgets Up and Running

I've been salivating for the WikiTree embeddable widgets ever since reading Geneabloggers' open-thread Thursday post on embeddable content a few weeks ago. I've been wanting a way to embed trees in my blog for some time -- mainly to give any family members who might be reading this a context for the people I talk about -- especially people less well known.

So a few days ago, on seeing that the widgets were out of beta, I signed up for WikiTree, uploaded a gedcom, and am ready to test.

I'm pretty pleased with how easy this was to get going, and can definitely see myself using this tool in future posts. My one issue at present is that most of the widgets are too big for my blog format. I tried modifying the blog template sizing, which worked okay, and is an option for the future. But in the meantime, the bare-bones 4-generation widget, which is the smallest, suits my needs.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fearless Females - Day Fourteen

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?"

I have a variety of female ancestors who've appeared in various social columns over the years. I like social column postings. They help me place people in a context of location, amongst peers and friends, and help me relate to time and place in history, something I still struggle with in my family history research. But in thinking about this post, none of these social column postings are immediately leaping to mind as in any way more or less noteworthy than others, so I'm taking a different route.

Bucks County saint to be inducted into Women's Hall of Fame (

Drexel University founder, Anthony J. Drexel (1826-1893) was my 3rd great grandfather. Katharine Drexel was his niece, the daughter of his brother Francis Anthony Drexel. I can in no way do justice to Katharine Drexel's story in this short blog post. In glancing through some memorabilia from my grandmother's collection there's more to St. Katharine's story than the Philadelphia heiress who entered a convent. There's a young woman who lost her father and stepmother in a short span of time, inspired by missionaries wanting to aid Native Americans, who visited the Dakotas in 1887. Katharine entered religious training under the Sisters of Mercy in 1889, founding the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1891.

Mother Katharine Drexel was beatified by Pope John Paul II in November, 1988, and canonized in October, 2000. I remember my grandmother telling me about Mother Katharine's miracles as each new one was discovered, moving her farther along the journey to sainthood. I have her travel diary from her trip to Rome for the beatification in 1988, her entry for Sunday, November 20th starting off with, "The big day at last." My grandmother died in May, 2000, not living to see Mother Katharine Drexel sainted.

Last week, The National Women's Hall of Fame announced St. Katharine Drexel as one of its 2011 inductees. Located in Seneca Falls, New York, I hope to attend some of the festivities in September.

Baldwin, Lou. A Call to Sanctity: The Formation and Life of Mother Katharine Drexel. Catholic Standard and Times, 1988.
Hanley, Boniface. A Philadelphia Story. Mother Katharine Drexel Guild, 1992.
"Katharine Drexel," Wikipedia. Online. Accessed 14 Mar 2011.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fearless Females - Day Four

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post of photo too if you have one."

What a difference a year makes! When I blogged on this theme one year ago, I had no marriage records for either my grandparents or great-parents. Checking over my records just now, I have marriage records for all of them -- 2 sets of grandparents and 4 sets of great-grandparents.

One set of records, those for my great-grandparents, Lewis and Margaret Adams Greenleaf (the subject of last year's post) who married in Lenox, Berkshire County, Massachusetts in October 1898, were accessed and downloaded at Family Search. The others records I got by writing to various city or state agencies in New York or Pennsylvania. I have no family stories on any of them, though, and no wedding photographs, either.

So this year's story...

I have plenty of wedding photographs of my maternal grandmother's first wedding in 1942. Her husband, Rufus L. Patterson III was killed in 1944, shot down over Germany. [see Follow Friday post on World War II Casualty Lists] Rufus' mother was Elsie "Lissa" Parsons Patterson Kennedy (1901-1966) of Lenox, Massachusetts. Through this relationship with the Parsons family in Lenox, my grandmother met her second husband, Joseph Harrison Worrall (1913-1979). Lissa's younger brother, Herbert Parsons (1909-1995) married Margaret "Margot" Sharpless Worrall (1909-1986) in 1935. Margot's younger brother was Joseph Harrison Worrall, my grandfather.

This is a fairly scientific post. I wish I knew more stories, more romance, but can only guess and imagine at emotions and what happened in these peoples' lives. It's an interesting connection my family has as a result - these interconnected families with skewed generations. But this is an important baseline for other stories I have to tell. I haven't even begun to do justice to the story, to the people involved, but at least I've started laying the groundwork, finally getting it out of my head and into writing.