Friday, May 27, 2011

As we move into this Memorial Day weekend we are reminded to look back on all those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today. Starting with our Revolutionary War soldiers and ending with those who are currently fighting in far away lands like Iraq and Afghanistan, we need to thank them all for what we have. Besides the backyard cookouts and parades, many people will be visiting the cemeteries of their veteran family members and contemplating their sacrifices. Many more of these cemeteries are being indexed online everyday. In my last blog I discussed and their work to geocode all the headstones of the cemeteries. Today I want to discuss the burial records found at is an affiliate web site with This website has several very interesting applications. First of all, since it is an affiliate of FamilySearch, it is able to use data that has been contributed to (nFS). The site is also able to use data from In order to use the functions on this website you must have a valid account or an account at I have not used so I will focus my discussion on the ability to link to nFS. There is an expectation that will be open to the public sometime around 2013.

What does TreeSeek do with the FamilySearch data?

First of all, it allows you to create a variety of genealogy charts, including 9 and 10 generation pedigrees, 9 generation fan chart, and name clouds. To begin with you can select an individual in your immediate family or enter the PID number of another person in your tree. Once you have your starting person you can then select the type of chart to produce. The charts come out as hyperlinked pdf files so you can click on individuals in the tree and open a window with nFS to see the family pedigree.

The site also has a World Cemetery Map. The World Cemetery Map allows you to select a country or state and zoom in on a Google Map to see the cemeteries in an area. I found the US info to be good but there is a limit to what is available for other countries and some countries aren't even included in the list. So what can you do once you have located a cemetery on the map? I selected Ohio as my region and found that there are 7343 cemeteries listed for the state. As I zoom in on Ohio the cemetery groupings start to separate out and eventually you will see individual cemeteries marked on the map. If you click on the cemetery marker you will see a pop-up bubble with the name of the cemetery and three hyperlinks. The links are for 1) FamilySearch Burials, 2) FamilySearch Research Wiki, and 3) FindAGrave.

The intent of the first link is to allow you to see everyone in nFS who is buried in that cemetery. However, I did notice a problem with that link. It seems that the burial information in nFS must match the standard place name used by TreeSeek. For example, I have relatives buried in Saint Augustines Cemetery, Minster, Auglaize, Ohio. I had entered them in nFS as being buried in St. Augustine Cemetery. That missing "s" and possibly the use of St. instead of Saint meant that no individuals came up with the search. So, I now have to go through my AncestralQuest file and do a universal change so all the references to St. Augustine Cemetery are in the standard format as Saint Augustines Cemetery, Jackson Township, Auglaize, Ohio. It isn't a real big deal but I will have to go and make sure that all those entries are now corrected when I sync my data to nFS in the future. Once I had a few of the entries corrected I was able to pull up a family buried in this cemetery. There are a couple interesting applications available once you have the individuals listed in the cemetery search. The first is that you can calculate the relationships between any individuals in the list. To do this, select one or two of the individuals and click on the "Find Close Relationships" button. I selected my grandfather and the site informed me of his spouse and parents being buried in the same cemetery. The second is the ability to change or add burial information to any individual in nFS from the site. To do this you just add their name and birth and death dates to the search, wait for the program to find the individual and then tell it to change or add the burial information. I would like the option to use the nFS PID for this search but the search works fine as it is and even listed some possible duplicates that I need to research later.

The second link, FamilySearch Research Wiki, will open up the FamilySearch Research Wiki site to the page that describes the cemetery you are interested in. I don't know how many cemeteries have been added to the Wiki so far, but none that I am using are there yet. Maybe this will inspire some people to begin adding more information to the Wiki site.

The last link on this page, opens up the FindAGrave page with a listing of all cemeteries of the same name. I had to search through eight listings but it was easy enough to find the cemetery I was interested in. Once you are at you can search through their burial records to see if there is anyone else of interest to you.

The last application that is found under the Tools section is a Relationship Calculator. You can enter the nFS PIDs for two individuals to see how they are related. This was pretty interesting when I tried it. I entered my father's grandfather and my mother's grandfather and ran the search. I expected the results to be that they were related through my parents marriage but I was surprised. It said they were 3rd cousins and they had the same g-g-g-grandmother! I never knew that.

So, what is my impression of this site? I was pleasantly surprised at the capabilities that were available. The reports produced by the site are limited but they are definitely useful. There are still some glitches such as some links don't work yet. Additionally, it relies on people inputting the standard format for the cemeteries in nFS. But with a little work this site will be an important addition to the nFS family of programs.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hi everyone, it is summer again here in the deep South. Almost 100 degrees the last couple days so I decided to stay inside and get some work done. That includes trying out some new websites.

I ran across a cool new site on the discussion boards today. It is This site is meant to be an online searchable database of gravesites. You might be saying, ",, and half a dozen other sites already do that. What's the big deal with this site?" You would be right about the first part, but there is something new on this site. The site is based on an iPhone app (sorry, no Android app yet but they say they are working on it). This allows the individual pictures to have GPS data associated with them so they can be mapped in Google Maps. You are able to see right where the grave is located in relation to the hundreds or thousands of other markers in the cemetery.

Being a new site, they have only a couple thousand pictures loaded in so far and it looks like most of the cemeteries are in Utah. But at least that is a start. Once the photos have been loaded to the website, you or another transcriber are able to fill in the names and dates on a form that appears with the photo. This is really simple to do and anyone who registers can act as a transcriber. There are about 2500 graves that need transcribing at the time I am writing this blog. I was able to transcribe about 50 in an hour (but I only use 2 fingers to type - imagine what I could do if I could use all 10 fingers typing).

This site has great potential and goes that extra step beyond the other grave indexing databases. As more and more people use their iPhones and, in the future, their Androids to photograph cemeteries the number of cemeteries in the database will increase. However, I do hope that those who take the pictures will consider adding them to the other sites also.

As the weather starts to get nicer around the country I hope more of you will get out there with your iPhones and iPads and start adding more cemeteries to this and other websites. Have fun, get some exercise, and enjoy the time outdoors.