Genealogy Posts

Old Place at Penn Farm
Old Place at Penn Farm built in the 1860s.  Many Penn Farm buildings are restored and on display at Cedar Hill State Park
Posts of genealogy articles to help you with your family research.  Use the tags above to find locate articles of interest.  If you would like to add or comment about an article, please leave a comment.  Use the “Contact Us” page to email suggestions for new articles, improve post ones or to contribute and post, yourself.  

Our March Program will be Thursday the 8th

Judy Allen will Present: Cemetery DousingJudy Allen Knight Publicity still

Frustrated with being unable to locate the burial site of an ancestor even though you know in which cemetery he is buried?  Grave dowsing can help you locate unmarked graves and provide clues to their gender and age.

Judy is no stranger to cemetery research.  She has been active in preserving her family cemetery in Tarrant County and having it declared a Historic State Cemetery.   Judy is also the President of the Historic Allen Cemetery Association.

Judy has presented programs to our genealogical society in the past and has often spoken at numerous other genealogical societies and workshops throughout Texas   She has over 40 years of experience in family history.  She grew up in Texas attending family reunions and learning about her heritage.

Why Was the Information Removed from Online?

Dick Eastman · October 26, 2017

NOTE: This is a slightly updated version of an article I published about a year ago. A newsletter reader sent a message to me recently expressing dissatisfaction with records that once were available online but recently have disappeared. I am offering this republished article as an explanation about why we should not be surprised when that happens. I believe that every genealogist should understand why this happens so this article bears repeating every year or two. Please feel free to republish this article in newsletters, message boards, or forward it in email messages as you see fit.

 I will also offer a suggestion as to making sure you keep your own copies of online records that are valuable to you.

A newsletter reader sent an email message to me recently expressing dissatisfaction that a set of images of vital records has been removed from one of the very popular genealogy sites. Indeed, removal of any online records of genealogical value is sad, but not unusual. Changes such as these are quite common on FamilySearch, MyHeritage,, Fold3, FindMyPast, and many other genealogy sites that provide digital images of old records online. Removal of datasets has occurred dozens of times in the past, and I suspect such things will continue to happen in the future. I thought I would write a brief explanation.

In almost all cases, information of genealogical value obtained from government agencies, religious groups, museums, genealogy societies, and other organizations is provided under contractual agreements. The contracts specify what information is to provided, how it is to be made available, and what price the web site has to pay to the provider for the records. All contracts also have a defined expiration date, typically 2 years or 3 years or perhaps 5 years after the contract is signed.

When a contract nears expiration, the two parties usually attempt to renegotiate the contract. Sometimes renewal is automatic, but more often it is not. Maybe the information provider (the government agency, religious group, museum, genealogy society, and other organization) decides they want more money, or maybe they decide they no longer want to supply the data to the online genealogy service. For instance, in the time the information has been available online, the information provider may have learned just how valuable the information really is. The information provider may decide to ask for more money or may even refuse to provide the information any more since the provider may have a NEW plan to create their own web site and offer the same information online on their own, new web site for a fee.

Sure, that stinks for those of us who would like to have the information everywhere; but, it makes sense to most everyone else. I am sure the budget officer at most any state or local government archive thinks it makes sense.

Every contract renegotiation is different, but it is not unusual to agree to disagree. The contract ends, and the web site provider legally MUST remove the information from their web site. The same thing frequently happens to all the other online sites that provide old records online.

Moral of this story: If you find a record online that is valuable to you, SAVE IT NOW! Save it to your hard drive and make a backup copy someplace else as well. If there is no option to save, make a screen shot and save it on your hard drive or some other place where it will last for many years. Just because you can see the record online today does not mean that it will be available tomorrow.

Dick_Eastman_small_pic_NEWDick Eastman has been writing this genealogy newsletter for 21 years.

He has been involved in genealogy for more than 35 years. He has worked in the computer industry for more than 40 years in hardware, software, and managerial positions. By the early 1970s, Dick was already using a mainframe computer to enter his family data on punch cards. He built his first home computer in 1980.

The Cedar Hill Genealogy Society Needs Volunteers

The Cedar Hill Genealogy Society is seeking volunteers to serve as officers and other needs of the society.

Officers to Run in our February Election:

President:  The president presides over all society meetings, makes recommendations, prepares agendas for the board of directors meetings, and appoints/approves all non-elected directors or chairs.  The president is the spokesperson of the society.

Vice-President: Is the Director of the Programs.  Assists the president in carrying out the duties of that office.  Presides at meetings in the president’s absence.  Succeeds the president if the president cannot continue in office.

Secretary:  Records the minutes of all society meetings.  Distributes the minutes to the board of directors before the next meeting.  Keeps a copy of all society meeting minutes in a notebook in the library.  Produces a newsletter and sends it and meeting notices of regular meetings to all members

Treasurer:  The treasurer has custody of the society’s funds.  Deposit all receipts in the bank or credit union.  Presents a current financial report at the board of directors meetings.  Pays the society’s bills and files tax documents as needed.

The Cedar Hill Genealogy Society is always seeking volunteers to assist with publicity, hospitality, membership, special projects and other needs.

All those wishing to help their society are urged to contact the president or any officer in person or by email at  Or, you can use the CONTACT US feature on our website at

Chasing Chiltons

David B. Appleton — My Favorite Ancestor 8 June 2017 CHGS Meeting

 James Chilton, at age 63, was the oldest passenger on the ship Mayflower in 1620, and he and his wife both died during that first hard winter for the Pilgrims, leaving their youngest daughter Mary, my 10th great-grandmother, an orphan in wild and unsettled New England.

James Chilton and his family had lived in and around Canterbury, and later Sandwich, in the County of Kent, England, for some years in the late 16th and very early 17th Centuries before they moved to Leiden in The Netherlands and then in 1620 boarded the Mayflower to voyage to New England.

 The earliest record I have found so far which names James Chilton is a reference to “Chylton, James, tailor” who was made a Freeman by Gift of the City of Canterbury in 1583.

With that as background on James Chilton, my wife and I took an opportunity in 2014 to spend a full day in Kent, England, “chasing Chiltons,” where we visited the three parish churches, two in Canterbury and one in Sandwich, where we know James Chilton and his family spent time: St. Paul’s Without the Walls, Canterbury; St. Martin’s, Canterbury; and St. Peter’s, Sandwich.


St. Paul’s Without the Walls, Canterbury, Kent

We find several parish record entries of James Chilton’s children being baptized at St. Paul’s:

Isabella, the daughter of James Chilton, baptized 15 Jan 1586/87

Jane, the daughter of James Chilton, baptized 08 Jun 1589

Ingle, the daughter of James Chilton, baptized 29 Apr 1599

Chiltons Fig 1.1

St. Paul’s Without the Walls (that is, outside the walled city of Canterbury) is believed to have been built as a chapel by the nearby St. Augustine’s Abbey for local people and overseen by the monks of the Abbey as a place of worship and instruction.

In the late 13th century the church was enlarged eastwards creating the space now occupied by the organ (built in 1901).

Chiltons Fig 1.2

The church has been enlarged again, southward in 1320, and further extended and refurbished in the mid-19th century when the tower was rebuilt and a third aisle created southward, but certainly the oldest portions of the church we see today would have been familiar to James Chilton and his wife.

There are two other entries in the parish records which may relate to the family of James Chilton:

Richard Chilton, baptized 27 Jan 1582/83

Joel Chilton, baptized 16 Aug 1584

These baptisms were performed in years when such entries did not include the father’s name. The parish records around these years is inconsistent: in some years, the father’s name is included; in other years, it is not, apparently at the whim of the recorder.

St. Martin’s, Canterbury, Kent

The following entries are found in the parish records for children of James Chilton:

Joel, the son of James Chilton, buried 02 Nov 1593

Mary, the daughter of James Chilton, buried 23 Nov 1593

Elizabeth, the daughter of James Chilton, baptized 14 Jul 1594

James, the son of James Chilton, baptized 22 Aug 1596

 The sign near the entrance to the grounds of St. Martin’s Church (named for St. Martin of Tours) states it is the oldest church in continuous use in England, and notes the days and times when services are still held there. It goes on to tell us that about the year 580 King Æthelberht of Kent gave his Christian bride, Bertha, the daughter of Charbert, King of the Franks, and a Christian, a place for worship. It was originally a building of Roman origin, and the remains of the older Roman building can still be seen in the walls of the chancel.

 In 597, Pope Gregory sent St. Augustine and forty monks to lead a Christian mission in England. Ethelbert allowed them to worship here, and they extended the chapel to include the great west wall. “Here they first began to assemble, to sing the psalms, to pray, to celebrate mass, to preach and to baptize, until the king was converted to the faith and gave them greater freedom to preach and to build and restore churches everywhere.” (Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, 731 A.D.). Eventually Æthelberht was baptized, and Augustine went on to build the Abbey and Cathedral and to become Canterbury’s first Archbishop. At that time, St. Martin’s lost its prestige but retains its historical primacy.

Chiltons Fig 2.1

The great west wall and the roof of the nave dates to the 14th Century, though some of the roof beams have had to be replaced since then.

Chiltons Fig 2.2

 Of the baptismal font in the church, the base is newer (it probably dates to the 19th Century), but the two lower tiers and the rim are believed to be of Saxon origin, and the higher tier of arches, Norman (since the Normans required higher fonts in their churches). This is the font where James Chilton and his wife stood when their children Elizabeth and James were baptized.

Chiltons Fig 2.3

St. Peter’s, Sandwich, Kent

The following entries are found in the parish records for children of James Chilton:

Christian, daughter of James Chilton, baptized 26 Jul 1601

James, son of James Chilton, baptized 11 Sep 1603

Mary, daughter of James Chilton, and my 10th great grandmother, baptized 31 May 1607

There has been a church on the site of St. Peter’s in Sandwich since about 1100. That early Norman church was probably destroyed in 1216, when Sandwich was attacked by the French during the First Barons’ War (1215-1217), when a group of rebellious major landowners (barons), supported by a French army under the future Louis VIII, made war on King John of England for his refusal to abide by the Magna Carta.

Chiltons Fig 3.1

The church was rebuilt a little later in the 13th century, when it consisted of a central nave with north and south aisles, a tower, and a chancel. In the 14th century the north aisle was widened and raised in height, and a chantry chapel was built at the east end of the south aisle. Much of the church today thus dates to the 13th and 14th centuries.


There remains on display in the church a 17th century sounding board, a wooden canopy which hung horizontally over the pulpit to direct the words of the officiating priest out to the congregation in these days before electrical amplification. Without a more specific date, I cannot say if this sounding board was installed at the time the Chiltons attended the parish, or if it is a replacement for the one that was in use when they were there.

Chiltons Fig 3.3

 It was a fun and informative journey, following the moves of James Chilton and his family through three parishes in two cities in Kent, England. The opportunity to visit these places, to “walk in their footsteps” and to learn first-hand a little bit about the lives of this – my – Pilgrim family, has heightened the emotional connection to these places where they lived and worked, and where some of their children were born and buried.

 And yet, the history of these places both precedes and succeeds the Chiltons’ time there, with connections as distant as St. Augustine and more recently, to a descendant from across the ocean “chasing Chiltons.”

by David B. Appleton

Genealogy Detectives Track Down Cedar Hill Tornado Details

Thank you to the Dallas Morning News and Loyd for allowing us to post this on our site

A Historical marker sits at the site believed to be the final resting place for some of the nine victims of a tornado that struck Cedar Hill in 1856


Dallas Morning News Staff Writer

Published: 04 March 2016 04:14 PM

Updated: 04 March 2016 04:26 PM

The tornado of 1856 still holds Cedar Hill in its grip. Perhaps not much is known about it outside the city limits, but it continues to come up in regular conversations with anyone who has lived in Cedar Hill for a decent length of time.

In its May 10, 1856 issue, the Dallas Herald “received minute particulars of the frightful tornado that recently carried desolation and death to the village of Cedar Hill, and neighborhood.”

The delivery of the news wasn’t instantaneous back then, so Herald readers were just finding out about the twister, which destroyed Cedar Hill on April 29, 1856.

Newspaper details of the time are sketchy and leave out major details that a modern-day reporter wouldn’t dare miss. Very few first names of victims are given. Reports state that only one building was left standing, but no information is provided about how many buildings were there to begin with.

And in comparing the Cedar Hill tornado with others like it, the Herald likens it to “The tornado at Natchez many years ago, and that which visited Vicksburg some eight or ten years since, …”

No journalist today would get away with saying “some eight or ten years since” or “many years ago” when giving a date.

These missing details have vexed residents, and Dave and Geri Klauck of the Cedar Hill Genealogical Society were enlisted to find out more about the particulars of that April afternoon in which nine people were killed and 12 wounded in the 10-year-old town of about 400 residents.

The two will present their findings in a 7 p.m. meeting March 14 sponsored by the Cedar Hill Museum of History.

“All that was known was the first name of one person,” Dave Klauck said. He and his wife have written a book, Gone with the Wind, the 1856 Cedar Hill Tornado, in which many of the details have been fleshed out.

A team of six genealogists did the research, each assigned to track down a victim.

“Geri loves a puzzle,” Dave said. “If you don’t want to be found, don’t get her on your case.”

The team dug into its resources, and Dave is thankful for the abundance of tools the group found online to help them:; the University of North Texas’ Portal to Texas, operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Dallas County tax rolls, Dallas Public Library archives and – yes – Google.

“The babies’ names are still unknown, unless we come across church records, baptismal records or birth certificates,” Dave said.

But the group managed to find complete names for all the adults except one – a victim of a repugnant period of U.S. history. One “Negro woman” found among the dead likely was one of tornado fatality James L. Berry’s slaves, according to the team’s findings.

Some of the dead are believed to be buried in what is known as Crawford’s Tornado Graveyard, which was granted a Texas Historical Marker in 2012.

Dave also puts the number of buildings in the town back then at about a dozen. A map that he recreated showing the path of the tornado and the probable location of Cedar Hill’s buildings is in the Zula B. Wylie Library, he said.

The team’s research also uncovered details about a scandalous event after the tornado that is rendered in the sketchiest of details in the Herald.

The newspaper states that, “reports are in circulation, implicating the conduct of a prominent individual near Cedar Hill, in inhumane disrespect for the dead, and a refusal of that hospitality to the distressed that would spring spontaneously from every generous heart. We have suppressed the facts, as given us by a correspondent, and the name of the individual implicated, because it is an exhibition of human nature in a form so debased and ignoble that we are unwilling to believe it without further evidence. We wish to give him an opportunity of clearing himself of the imputation.”

Near as he can figure it, Dave Klauck believes this refers to Robert Crawford, a citizen of some renown who apparently turned back some people who wanted to store some of the bodies in his home to clean them up for burial.

“Crawford turned them away because he had some company and a lot of injured people already at his home,” Dave said. “He may not have made many friends on his way out of town.”

Be that as it may, the cemetery bears his name, probably because he deeded the land for it.


Genealogy Basics

It Begins with You

  • Start with yourself and work back in time
  • Ask family members for information, artifacts and family stories
  • Identify your immediate family members—mother, father, siblings and grandparents
  • Record full names, nick names and the maiden names of the women
  • Record the date and place of birth, death and marriage
  • Include the name(s) of spouse(s)
  • Record Your Data and Sources

Record Your Data

  • Record the data you collect on a Family Group Sheet
  • Use international style for dates—13 Aug 2016
  • First, the Wife & Her Partents
  • Next, the Husband & His Parents
  • Then, the Kids
  • Site your Sources


A Family Group Sheet Uniquely Identifies  a Family as Yours


 Tree Style Ancestral Chart


 Ancestral Chart – Vertical


Resources Other Than Your Family

  • Birth, marriage, death & cemetery records
  • Census records
  • Social Security records
  • Newspapers & city directories
  • Land records
  • Tax records
  • Probate records

Online Family Trees

  • They are good for finding clues, not data
  • Are notorious for not citing sources
  • Data without sources are not facts, they’re just stories
  • Check carefully against your family group data
  • They are notorious for bad research
  • Their sources are NOT your sources—check their sources for validity
  • ALWAYS look a gift horse in the mouth

Save Your Data on Your Computer

  • Family Search—Free online Family Tree
  • Family Tree Maker—About $40 from Amazon
  • Ancestry—By subscription

Join a Genealogical Society

  • Learn more about genealogy at every meeting
  • Personalized help from fellow members
  • Great conversations!
  • The Cedar Hill Genealogical Society
    • Always free admission
    • Meets the second Thursday of each month
    • 7:00pm; 6:30pm to socialize and snack
    • At the Zula B Wylie Library in Cedar Hill

from the Researching Your Family History on the Internet computer class

Can A Genealogist Accept As Face Value Copies Of Original Records?

Can a digitized or microfilmed copy of an original record be accepted as same as the original record?  Some may say “yes” and others may say “no.”

Locating original records is the aim in researching family ancestors, and certainly digitizing or microfilming the original records can make them available to a lot more people through the internet.

However, eliminating context, may affect the correctness of the information that the original images contain.

Genealogists need to be careful of possible errors and omissions in record images, and should analyze their format and source before accepting it as face value.  Further, it is very important to locate more than one source of information.  An excellent genealogist always secures at least two if not three sources on a particular fact.  Records are not always what they appear.  It is worth the effort and time to dig deeper to either confirm or disapprove the item.

Take the time to research the place and time.  Study the records in historical context. This procedure often uncovers information that helps in understanding the records even if those sources do not include a family’s name.

By Wes Quandt, Cedar Hill Genealogical Society

My Parents Were Inmates

In the 1930 Census my parents are shown as inmates.  A fact about my parents I would never have known if I had not been researching my family.  But it’s not as bad as it may sound.  My parents were both orphans and grew up in Buckner Orphans Home in Dallas.  In the 1930 Census, they, along with all the other orphans, were listed as inmates instead of orphans.

You just never know what you may learn when you start researching your family.  You’re likely to learn some surprising things, and probably, you will go places and do things you would never have thought you would do.

When you start researching your family you may even go to such places as Monkstown or Saratoga, Texas.  You might even venture out of Texas to exotic places like Poteau, Oklahoma or Buena Vista, Georgia.  In the process you will likely visit numerous cemeteries and rummage through old records in courthouses.

Surprisingly, family research has a way of transforming all these activities into interesting adventures.  For example, in an effort to save a cemetery in Monkstown, Texas, I had to go to the courthouse in Bonham, the county seat, to see a judge who in turn got the sheriff after a property owner that claimed he owned the land of the cemetery.  The cemetery was saved and cleaned up, but the property owner doesn’t speak to me anymore.

Maybe you’re thinking you can do all your family research in the comfort of your home surfing on the Internet, and possibly submitting your DNA to connect with someone that can tell you about your family.  All this technology is helpful, but this too is likely to develop into more genealogical adventures.

My father entered Buckner Orphans Home at the age of eight years old.  He barely knew his father and never mentioned his grandfather.  By researching the census and other records on the internet, I thought I had figured out who my father’s grandfather was, but I wasn’t sure.  So I submitted my y-DNA and matched a man in Georgia who turned out to be a distant cousin.  With his help I was able to determine that my father’s grandfather had come to Texas after the Civil War and I located his grave in Milford, Texas, which is a little south of Waxahachie.  I was surprised to find that the headstone said he was a doctor.  But guess what?  When he came to Texas he left behind a family in Georgia and came to Texas with the younger sister of his wife back in Georgia.  When I contacted his descendants in Georgia, they were really surprised because they had been told he died in the Civil War.

Tags Orphan, Inmate, Family stories, Census

Why do Genealogy?

You want to find out who your ancestors are and possibly get back to the “old country”.

You are curious about family members whose names pop up in family stories.

Members of your family are prone to certain medical conditions and you would like to track the history of this condition as it has traveled through your family.

You are a history buff and genealogy, a natural extension of this past-time allows you to discover the history of your family.

You enjoy researching anything, so why not your family!

You enjoy talking to and spending time with people who do genealogy.

You think DNA testing is cool!

You like to travel especially to conferences, so why not to those sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies, National Genealogical Society & Texas State Genealogical Society, which have conferences every year in different locations.

You find yourself wandering through cemeteries, records offices, court houses and libraries, searching for a reason transcribe some data.

You want to find those skeletons in your family’s closet.

Geri Klauck Cedar Hill Genealogical Society