OneGreatFamily Blog

  • Famous Ancestor: Benjamin Franklin

    Born in Boston in 1706, Benjamin Franklin was the youngest son of Josiah Franklin, a chandler and soap maker. At a young age Franklin was apprenticed to his older brother James, who was a printer. James started The New England Courant, the first truly independent newspaper in the colonies (other papers just re-printed news from London). Wanting to write for the paper but knowing that James wouldn't let him, young Franklin contributed for the paper under the pseudonym "Silence Dogood."

    In 1723 Franklin ran away from his apprenticeship and went to Philadelphia. He was hired by Pennsylvania governor Sir William Keith to go to London to secure printing equipment. Upon his return to Philadelphia, Franklin purchased The Pennsylvania Gazette and was finally able to go into the printing business for himself. He began publishing Poor Richard's Almanack in 1733; many of the aphorisms associated with Franklin come from the Almanack.

    Franklin became involved in politics in the 1750s; in 1754 at the Albany Congress in New York, he proposed a plan for unification of the American colonies. In 1757 he went to London to represent the Pennsylvania Assembly in a dispute over the colony's charter. After returning to Philadelphia for two years, he went to London again in 1764. In 1765 he was instrumental in convincing Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act. In 1775 he returned to the colonies and began working for independence. In 1776 he signed the Declaration of Independence and then embarked for France. As ambassador to France, he secured the Treaty of Alliance in 1778 and helped to negotiate the Treaty of Paris at the end of the war in 1783. After returning to Philadelphia, he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and a signer of the Constitution.

    To view Benjamin Franklin's Family Tree, visit:

    You can also see whether or not you are related to Benjamin Franklin by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • Coal Mining Ancestors

    "It's dark as a dungeon and damp as the dew,
    Where the danger is double and pleasures are few,
    Where the rain never falls and the sun never shines, 
    It's dark as a dungeon way down in the mine."

    - Merle Travis

    The landscape of America is dotted by ghost towns: mining towns that sprang up out of nowhere when veins of ore were discovered then vanished back into the dust as quickly as they had come when the mineral deposits dried up. If you had an ancestor who worked in a mine or lived in a mining town, where can you find record of him and his experience?

    On the website of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor, you can find an index to mining museums and miners' memorials for thirty of the fifty states.  If your ancestor was a miner in Kentucky, you can find record of him on Kentucky Coal Miners, a site dedicated to preserving the memories and stories of miners. Many photos have been posted there, and the site also links to county websites and even the family websites of coal miners and their descendants. For Pennsylvania ancestors, you should be sure to check out the Virtual Museum of Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania, which lists every mine for every county in Pennsylvania, as well as any resources available for researching that mine.

    Of course, one of the greatest resources at your disposal is US GenWeb, which has projects related to miners in many different localities.  The Mining in Wyoming page is helpful, as is West Virginia Coal Mining, which has family histories, links to mining museums, and miners' obituaries.

    Ironically, you are most likely to find your ancestor in mining records if he was involved in some kind of mining accident.  These were reported in newspapers, and you can also find record of them on sites like Life in the Mines or the Iron Range Research Center, which also includes mining company newsletters and a survey or women in industry taken in 1919. If your ancestor was a miner in West Virginia who was involved in a mining accident, you can find him in the annual chief inspectors' reports, listing miners who were injured or killed for each year. You can request these records from the Archives and History Library of West Virginia, or you can view them on microfilm at the Family History Library on the film entitled, "Index of Fatalities in WV Coal Mines 1883-1926." The information listed on these records includes: the name of the company and mine; the name, age, and occupation of the man killed; how he was killed, the date of injury, and the date of death; his nationality; how many years of experience he had in the mines; whether or not he left a widow; and how many children he had. These records can be priceless for digging back into your family tree.

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  • How To Print Your Starfield View

    Here are some detailed instructions on how you can best print out the Pedigree Wall Chart as shown in your StarField view: 

    It is important to understand that when you print a Pedigree Wall Chart, you get exactly what you see in the Starfield.  So, the first task is to set up the Starfield exactly as you would like it to print.  There are a number of settings that you can adjust to get the Starfield exactly how you want it.  The first setting you will want to adjust is the # of Generations to display.  Set it to the number you want to print, remembering that the more generations you select the larger the chart becomes.

    You will definitely want to adjust the zoom, font and magnify sliders. These sliders allow you to tweak your Starfield view exactly how you want it to look.  Not all of these sliders are available by default; you must change some settings to access them.  First go to the "File" Menu in Genealogy Browser and click on "User Preferences" to see the following box:

    Notice the red circled area labeled "Computer Expertise Level." This setting changes the Starfield formatting options presented to you as follows:

    Beginner: Only the Zoom slider is available at this setting. It is located on the right side of the Toolbar in Genealogy Browser:

    The Zoom slider changes the size of each box in your Starfield. As the box gets bigger more information can be displayed. From 0-47% only a box will be shown; from 48%-73% the name will be shown; from 74%-99% the name will be bolded and birth date are shown; at 100% the bolded name plus the birth date and birth place are shown.

    Intermediate: In addition to the Zoom slider a Font slider is added. It appears right below the toolbar and runs the width of the window:

    This slider changes the size of the font used in each ancestor's box. It will increase or decrease the size of each box in order to accommodate the font size. However, it doesn't increase the amount of information shown--only the size of the font used to show the information.

    Advanced: A Magnify slider is added in addition to the Zoom and Font sliders. It is located below the Font slider, and also runs the width of the window:

    This slider allows you to proportionally increase or decrease the size of everything in the Starfield. If you are ready to print, but your Starfield is just a little too wide for your paper, you can shrink it down a touch with this control. Everything will look the same, it will all just get smaller (or bigger).

    Experiment with each of these view choices in the Starfield so you can see how each one is different.

    Once you are satisfied with how your Starfield looks, you can go to the File menu and choose "Print". To print your Starfield View choose the following:

    It is very important to click the "Print Preview" button before you hit print so you can make sure it is printing exactly how you would like it to look. You can then click the "Print" button on the above box or in the "Print Preview" window.

    Optional: You can also print an Hourglass chart. An Hourglass chart shows both the ancestors and the descendants of a person. Click on the "Show Descendants" button on your toolbar:

    Your Starfield will look like this:

    Then follow the steps above so you can change the zoom, font and magnify until it looks how you want to print it.

    Printing your Starfield is a great way to show your family and friends your family tree. Remember that you can print as many or as few generations as you want. When printing the Starfield, you can print a wall chart. This means that you can print your Starfield large enough to fill an entire wall! If your printer uses standard 8 1/2" by 11" paper, a wall chart can be created by taping the pages together.

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  • Famous Ancestor: Samuel Adams

    Bostonian, revolutionary, inciter of the Boston Tea Party, and signer of the Declaration of Independence-by many accounts, Samuel Adams was the man of the American Revolution. He served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Boston Town Meeting for many years and spearheaded nearly every revolutionary effort taken in Massachusetts.

    One of Adams' most enduring contributions was the Massachusetts Circular Letter. In 1767, the British Parliament passed the Townshend Revenue Act, imposing new duties on lead, glass, paper, paint, and tea. The revenue generated by these new taxes would be used to pay the salaries of royal governors and officers in the colonies, making them no longer dependent upon-and therefore no longer answerable to-colonial legislatures. In protest of the Townshend Revenue Act, the Massachusetts House of Representatives issued the circular letter in 1768, drafted by Samuel Adams. The letter was sent to the lower houses of all the other colonies, calling on them to protest against the Townshend duties by boycotting British goods.

    When the First Continental Congress was called in 1775, Adams was one of the five Massachusetts delegates chosen to attend. The following year, he attended the Second Continental Congress. Later he would serve as the governor of Massachusetts from 1789 to 1797, but his greatest contribution was as an American revolutionary, and that is how he is remembered by Americans today.

    To view Samuel Adams' Family Tree, login to OneGreatFamily, launch Genealogy Browser, and enter OGFN#512686524. You can also see whether or not you are related to Samuel Adams by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • Traditions of Our Ancestors: Holy Week

    The long wintery days of Lent are drawing to a close and Holy Week is fast-approaching. Holy Week memorializes the last week of Jesus Christ's life and his crucifixion. It culminates in Easter, the celebration of his resurrection. Christians of many different denominations feel more connected with Christ re-living events from his life during this week.

    The practice of honoring Holy Week is as old as Christianity itself. Holy Week observances began in Jerusalem in the first centuries A.D., when Christian pilgrims traveled there at Passover time to re-enact the events surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The earliest written account of these practices is from Egeria, a Spanish woman who made pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the fourth century. By this time, Holy Week traditions had already grown quite elaborate, including Good Friday processions along the Via Dolorosa, the road where tradition says that Jesus carried his cross through the city. Via Dolorosa means "way of pain" in Latin, and early Christians developed the practice of stopping their processions at each station of the cross, a tradition that continues today in the Holy Land and elsewhere.

    The customs of Holy Week spread from Jerusalem first to Spain, where Holy Week celebrations today are still among the most renowned in the world. By the seventh century, Holy Week celebrations were widespread in Gaul and the British Isles as well.

    Eastern Christians and western Christians alike consider Holy Week to be the week before Easter; however, the celebrations don't occur at the same time because eastern Christians use the Julian calendar to calculate Easter.

    Holy Week is preceded by Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts about forty days. Historically, during Lent Christians abstained from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Savior's suffering on Good Friday. Many Christians today use Lent as a time to give up bad habits and grow closer to God. In either case, Lent is a time of reflection and repentance.

    Holy Week commences with Palm Sunday, which memorializes Christ's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, as was prophesied by Old Testament prophets. On this day Christians worldwide carry out Palm Sunday processions bearing palm branches. Holy Week also includes Maundy Thursday, which commemorates the Last Supper. The term "Maundy" is derived from the Latin word mandatum, which means "to entrust" or "to order." This refers to the commandment that Jesus issued to his disciples at the Last Supper: that they should love one another and their fellow men. The Last Supper is also remembered by Christians of all faiths by participation in the Eucharist, sacrament, or communion.

    Holy Week customs also include the observance of Good Friday, which commemorates Christ's crucifixion. On Good Friday, Christians mourn the death of Jesus and venerate him by performing processions bearing crosses. In many places, lifelike wooden sculptures of Christ, Mary, and the apostles are made and carried through the streets in processions.

    Easter, the celebration of Christ's resurrection, is the culmination of Holy Week. Many Christians greet Easter with candlelight vigil the night before; others hold sunrise services before dawn on Easter morning to remember Mary Magdalene's early-morning visit to the tomb. Either way, Easter a joyful and sacred celebration to Christians everywhere.

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