All posts by Erica Madsen

Genealogy obsessed Geek Mom who loves cooking from scratch, gardening, sewing, and tinkering with a Raspberry Pi and other things Linux and Open source.

Genealogy Do-over: Establishing File System Foundations

genealogy do-over
Is anyone else hyperventilating a little bit? *breathing into a paper bag* I feel like I just left my first-born at daycare for the first time. Monday morning I was over on a web chat and mentioned that I was going to call my “do-over” more of a “spring cleaning” but the more I look at my cobbled-together database the more I see that I do need to just start fresh. I have sources that lead nowhere and sources that only show information was found in a census without a link to the online image containing said information.

I never bothered to learn how to properly do sources with my FamilyTreeMaker2010 software. The only two sources I cited were a book published by a genealogical society and a hand written genealogy book from my second great-grandmother, both are in my grandmother’s possession. I wrote those sources out in full bibliography style in the notes section of each person to which they applied. I had no idea how to cite birth, census, draft, or death records. Those types of sources were never covered in school.

For Christmas I bought myself RootsMagic7. Not that I think it’s better than other genealogy software, but I like that I can get “light bulbs” from FamilySearch and MyHeritage. I’ll keep FTM2010 for as long as it holds up just for another set of easy hints. Of course it’s all those hints that had me fall off the do-over wagon. I’ve been itching to research for the 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge. It’s probably a good thing that the ancestor I’m working on is such a challenge.

But I digress, I’m doing the full do-over. And I promise to be good from here on out. No research until it’s allowed.

Things I’ve done:

  • I have set up my digital file system. Inside my genealogy folder I have a Documents, Pictures, Resources, Templates, and Work in Progress folder. Documents and pictures are self-explanatory. The resources folder is for the digital books I’ve downloaded. Templates is for the untouched research log and census master log. The work in progress folder will have individual folders for each person within a group that I’m researching.
  • I have settled on a file naming convention for the records I’ve downloaded. This I picked up from Diana Ritchie at the do-over Facebook group, “Persons name then the year that person was born and then the year of the document and document type: LastFirstbxxxxYYYYDeathCert”. I’ll list females by their maiden name. One do-over group participant mentioned listing married names after the maiden name, but I have one person I’ve been told may have married 8 or 9 times. That would be one long file name! Not all the marriages were formal documented types, but still. For the people I don’t have a birth year listed I tend to have an approximate year so for those I instead of “b” I may do “bAbt” or I may use death date.
  • I also found a naming convention for photos that I like – suggested by another do-over group member, Emily Moore.
  • I bought a couple of file bins, hanging folders, plastic sleeves, and labels so that I may organize the minimal hard copy documents in my possession which currently live in the envelopes used to mail the items to me. I’m not color coding anything. I’ll go with the excuses – what if the descendant I leave this all to is color blind? The real excuse being that it would irritate me to no end if I chose colors that will become hard to find or discontinued and I wind up buying new colors that are close to the original but not close enough.

Work still in progress:

  • I’m learning my new database tool, RootsMagic7. Specifically watching a video called, “Sources, Citations and Documentation with RootsMagic”. It’s about an hour and a half and I seem to only get 15 minutes at a time to watch it, but that’s ok. It gives it time to gel.
  • I need to take a close look at the research log and census master logs as they were created by others for their needs and the census one is customized to England. I’ll probably keep that and label it for that country, and customize a copy for the United States.
  • I’m still stumped with how to handle a naming convention for census records. I really like the idea of going into a folder and being able to see, by the naming convention, all the records listed for a given person, but to make 12 copies of one digital file for a large family seems ridiculous. In my tree there is at least one instance of children from a family being split up between aunts and uncles. That makes it difficult to keep just one record under the head of household and still keep track of children separated from their parents.
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Genealogy Deep Clean

Up until last year I was entirely self-taught. Though I never checked for sources within it, I thought the book I treasured and drew up my first family tree from was just as good as collecting birth and death records. I didn’t even see all the value in census records. I’ve already owned up to it, but as I said in my first blog post, I also downloaded other trees. Shameful, I know.

I had a grand idea of a “Genealogy Do-Over” before seeing Thomas MacEntee’s post. It began last year, that magical year, I discovered a genealogy conference hosted in my own little town. I learned so much about primary sources, citing sources, and just how much I was discarding when I only glance at census records. I kicked myself repeatedly over all of it.

The blog post of a paternal great-grandfather is my first attempt at using what I learned. That post alone had more sources cited than the rest of my entire database. You can’t see it, but I really am hanging my head in shame as I type this.

I’m not going to toss out my database, though I am considering a minty-fresh new database. I may use the old one as a guide of sorts. If I get some of the things I added to my Christmas list I may even do it with some new software. The move I’m going to make probably isn’t considered a “do-over” more like a deep cleaning. A very thorough scrubbing. But I’ll be following Genealogy Do-over. I’m very interested in learning new techniques. I tend to bounce from limb to limb of the tree, so setting goals and tracking research are of particular interest to me now.

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Outline of the life of Frederick Cobb Chase

Genealogy Snapshot

Name: Frederick Cobb Chase
Parents: Daniel Kimball Chase and Elizabeth E. Gott
Spouse(s): Carrie H. Dawson, Wanda Hannah Proebstel*
Surnames: Chase, GottCobb
Relationship to Geneabean (Erica): Great-grandfather

  1. Frederick Cobb Chase
  2. Richard Kimball Chace
  3. Erica’s Father
  4. Erica

I knew nothing of my great-grandfather, Frederick Cobb Chase. Growing up all I had ever heard is that he was from California. In 2003 I asked my grandfather about his parents, but by that time he was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. I was given the full names of my great-grandparents and told that my great-grandfather was born in Lowell Massachusetts. He died when his son, my grandfather was 12. It took me ten years to gather enough information about my great-grandfather to build a life sketch and find the names of his parents, my second great-grandparents.

It turns out Frederick Cobb Chase, was actually born in West Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts on the twenty-first day of August 1882 to a carpenter, Daniel Chase and Elizabeth Gott. His father was born in Boston Massachusetts. His mother was born in Lowell Massachusetts.


On the fourth day of October 1894 Frederick’s mother died by drowning at the age of 40. Frederick was just 12. Frederick’s father remarried a year later to Helen M. Burns. Frederick’s stepmother was 19, only six years older than him. Daniel was 48 years old, though the marriage record shows 42. Helen’s parents were John Burns and Sadie M, both immigrants from Scotland.

It’s not clear if the Frederick C. Chase found in the 1900 census is the correct one. If it is him, he was living as a lodger with Irish immigrants John and Mary Dwyer on 43 Tremont Street, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts and working as a bell boy. Mr. Dwyer worked as a manager at a theater. Also at the residence was a servant and several other lodgers.

Frederick’s father, Daniel died at the age of 56 on the second of December 1903. The primary cause was “hematurea” which has lasted ten days. A contributory cause of death was, “stomatitus”. His occupation at the time was furniture dealer. Daniel’s wife of eight years, Helen M. Chase was the informant for his death certificate.

Eleven days later, on the thirtieth of December 1903 Frederick married Carrie H Dawson in Nashua, Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Frederick lists his mother’s name as Elizabeth West, which was her name from her first marriage. His occupation entered as “home at present”. Carrie is the daughter of George Dawson from New York and Emma C. Dawson nee Webster from Massachusetts.

By the time of the 1910 census, Frederick was working as a piano tuner and rented a house at 1768 Atlantic Avenue. The street name shown on the census isn’t clear, but was located near State Street in Long Beach, Los Angeles, California. He was living with Helen N. Chase who was listed as his wife of nine years and two years his senior. It shows that there was one child born, but not living. Helen N. was born in Massachusetts from Scottish immigrants. No documentation of a marriage to Helen has been found.

Frederick’s wife Carrie was still living in Massachusetts with her parents during the 1910 census. Her name listed as Carrie H. D. Chase.

The twelfth of September 1918 Frederick filled out a draft registration card. In it his name was spelled Freddrick Cobb Chace. He resided at 4143 Vann Ness Drive Los Angeles, California and was a self-employed piano tuner. He lists Carrie H. Chace as his nearest living relative, but did not give an address. In the notes it said they were separated but not divorced.

Frederick Cobb Chace married Wanda Hannah Proebstel in Santa Ana on the eleventh day of November 1919. He was 37 and she was 21. Wanda was born in Washington State. Her father Francis M. Probstel was born in Oregon and her mother, Rosamond Chamberlian was born in Iowa. It was Wanda’s first marriage. Both were living at 4143 Van Ness Ave in Los Angeles, California. Frederick was shown to be previously married and now divorced, however no divorce record has been found for his marriage with Carrie. His occupation continued as piano tuner.

In 1920 Frederick still lived at 4143 Van Ness Ave with his wife Wanda, but by 1930 they had moved to 2107 Meadow Valley Terrace with their two children ages 9 and 6. Their house was valued at $7,500, which in 2014 dollars would be $101,620.20. Current Zillow estimate on the house is $1,166,872.  They along with most of their neighbors owned a radio. About half of their neighbors were born in the United States. The other half were from places such as Russia, Romania, Germany, Holland, and Irish Free State.

2107 Meadow Valley Terrace Los Angeles
The home of Frederick Cobb Chase family in 1930. Image capture of 2107 Meadow Valley Terrace Los Angeles California by Google maps.

I have his date of death as the twenty-first of January 1931, but I failed to record a citation for that and can no longer find a source for that information. I’m sending paperwork in for a certified copy of his death certificate.

My uncle, Frederick’s grandson, told me Frederick was a musician, and had his own band. He said he had heard Frederick had made a couple of records, and that he was the conductor of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra. But at this time I have not been able to confirm Frederick being in a band, producing any records, nor being a conductor of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra. The website for the Los Angeles Symphony does not show their history, but according to Wikipedia they only ran from 1974 to 1979. He is not listed as a conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which began in 1919. I sent them an email, but have not received a response.

Frederick’s first wife Carrie continued to live with her parents and younger brother in 1920. She worked as a sales girl in the confectionery industry still living as Carrie H. D. Chase and married. I could not find her in 1930, but found her again in 1940 living with her aunt Mattie and uncle J Alton Paine in West Bridgewater Town, Plymouth, Massachusetts. Her prior place of residence, Avon, Norfolk, Massachusetts. She was listed as single but still had the last name Chase and worked as a cashier in retail grocery.

** Update 13 June 2016 **
That was not the correct Carrie H. Chase I found in the 1940 census. I thought Mattie was Carrie’s maternal aunt Addie. She is not.


“Massachusetts, Births, 1841-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Oct 2014), Frederick Cobb Chase, 21 Aug 1882; citing West Springfield, Hampten, Massachusetts, 452, Massachusetts Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 1428204.

“Massachusetts, Deaths, 1841-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Oct 2014), 0961513 (004225008) > image 233 of 617; citing State Archives, Boston.

“New Hampshire, Marriage Records, 1637-1947,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Oct 2014), 004242892 > image 637 of 4957; citing Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, Concord.

“United States Census, 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Oct 2014), Frederick C Chase in household of John Dwyer, Precinct 3 Boston city Ward 7, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States; citing sheet 14B, family 262, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1240678.

“Massachusetts, Deaths, 1841-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Oct 2014), 2058067 (004292277) > image 643 of 1927; citing State Archives, Boston.

“New Hampshire, Marriages, 1720-1920,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Oct 2014), Fred C. Chase and Carrie H. Dawson, 30 Dec 1903; citing reference 314; FHL microfilm 2184818.

“United States Census, 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Oct 2014), Carrie H Dawson in household of George P Dawson, Tewksbury town (excl. State Almshouse incl. city Almshouse)), Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; citing sheet 1A, family 9, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1240666.

Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Long Beach, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T624_85; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0035; FHL microfilm: 1374098.

“United States Census, 1910,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Oct 2014), Carrie H D Chase in household of George P Dawson, Tewksbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 1027, sheet 4A, family 83, NARA microfilm publication T624, FHL microfilm 1374619.

“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Oct 2014), California > Los Angeles City no 8; A-Tompkins, John A. > image 759 of 4305; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d).

“California, County Marriages, 1850-1952,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Oct 2014), 005580280 > image 17 of 594.

“United States Census, 1920,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Oct 2014), Fred C Chace, Los Angeles Assembly District 72, Los Angeles, California, United States; citing sheet 9A, family 34, NARA microfilm publication T625, FHL microfilm 1820112.

“United States Census, 1930,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Oct 2014), Fred Chase, Los Angeles (Districts 0001-0250), Los Angeles, California, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 0004, sheet 7B, family 155, NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 132.

“United States Census, 1920,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Oct 2014), Carrie H D Chase in household of George P Dawson, Tewksbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; citing sheet 3A, family 51, NARA microfilm publication T625, FHL microfilm 1820719.

“United States Census, 1940,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Oct 2014), Carrie H Chase in household of J Alton Paine, West Bridgewater Town, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 12-177, sheet 5A, family 101, NARA digital publication of T627, roll 1640.

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Help identify these children


I don’t have the original. I received this photo years ago in an email. I believe these children are cousins of my grandmother. If so, the grandparents of these children are either Henry Alvaro Head (1858 – 1938) and Anna Lena Spoungburg (1860 – 1931) who lived in Utah and then Idaho or George Hamp (1867 – 1945) and Elizabeth Allsop (1869 -1951) who also lived in Utah.

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How my genealogy obsession began

My fascination with genealogy began about the age of twelve when I found a eulogy written by my grandmother for her father. I met him once when I was five and he left a huge positive impression on me. I remember when I arrived at his house the first thing he did was greet me with a surprise cradle he had made for my dolls. I also remember the jewelry he made from rocks. He taught me how to identify an agate. He got a kick out of a trick he played on me, “Do you think this will float or sink in the water?” He asked holding a porous rock.

“Sink.” I replied without hesitation. I wished I had been able to stay longer, to get to know him more. He was a true gem.

On another occasion he saw me looking at a picture of a young woman standing in a lake covered with lily pads. “Do you know who that is?” He asked.
“That is your grandmother.”
“My grandmother isn’t that young.” I shot back.

The eulogy written from his daughter’s perspective allowed me learn almost as much about her as it did about him. Suddenly it was possible to picture her as a child with her parents. Later I came across a book. I didn’t realize what it was at first. I simply thumbed though it and then noticed some of the people in the book had my great-grandfather’s last name, Hamp. I began listing all the names drawing lines and arrows to whom they were related. Page one hundred and ninety had me mesmerized. There it was, Leonard Hamp, my great-grandfather’s name. This was all about his parents. I couldn’t stop staring at the pictures.

Image capture of 107 Main St. Grace Idaho by Google maps.
Image capture of 107 Main St. Grace Idaho by Google maps.

According to Gems of Our Valley the first hotel in Grace was the home of George Hamp Sr, built in 1907. It was also the first home to have running water and a bathroom. In the book they say Grace Equipment now stands in the place where the old hotel used to be – I don’t see a sign, but the image on the left looks like it could be Grace Equipment. Gems of Our Valley was published in 1977, so Grace Equipment might do business under another name or not at all. I wish they had just given an address.

I kept my hand drawn tree from this book for many years until the internet became a thing and I discovered The first thing I did was look up other trees matching the one I had. I downloaded their information that filled in gaps. – Don’t hate me, I know better now.

I showed my grandmother the new information I had and she shared with me the hand written genealogy from her grandmother, Elizabeth Hamp née Allsop. I couldn’t believe what I held in my hands.

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