Bucks County
Genealogical Society
July  2015 Newsletter


Greetings to all BCGS Members and Friends,

We miss you!  Since BCGS was formed in 2012, we've chosen not to have a regular monthly meeting in July, so we haven't seen many of you since June.  We're looking forward to reconnecting at the August 1st meeting, when we'll be learning all about Quaker records.

Even though we didn't have a regular monthly meeting in July, the BCGS Board and the Ancestry Fair Committee have been very busy. Joann Cosgrove, Connie Ace, and Connie Taylor are researching the ancestors of Colin Goodnoe for the Fair's "Main Event", Jeff Sipler is coordinating Exhibitors, Nancy Heath is creating the Fair's website, Cathy Ivins is selling ads, gathering door prizes and planning publicity, Pat Gessner and Mary Butash are ensuring that everything related to the facility runs smoothly, Marilyn Cook is taking care of hospitality, Peg Felter is coordinating volunteers, Marguerite Mogila is tracking two budgets, Cindy Wahlig and Marijane Meckling are doing a little of everything, and I'm coordinating speakers along with the GSP team....WOW - we have an amazing group, and this year's Fair is going to be THE BEST!!  Check out our website at www.ancestryfair.org,  contact Peg to volunteer, plan to attend on September 19th, 8:30-4 - and tell your geneafriends!!

BCGS recently received a donation of an original Civil War diary, written from January to June of 1865 by a soldier believed to be from Bucks County.  We will be scanning and transcribing it, and then working to identify the writer so we can return the original to a family member.  Don't you wish this was your ancestor??? Thanks to Jeff Sipler for volunteering to scan it, Peg Felter for volunteering to transcribe it, and Tom Myers for volunteering to identify the writer and his descendants.

Happy Summer!

Warm Regards, 
Christine Roberts
1 0:00 AM-12:00 PM

at the David Library of the American Revolution
1201 River Road, Washington Crossing, PA
(Park behind the building and use the Conference Center entrance)

Understanding and Using Quaker Records
presented by 
Christopher Densmore, Curator,
Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College

An overview of the structure and content of Quaker records, with emphasis on meeting records as sources of family history.  We will use actual examples to trace individuals through the records.  Learn about the procedures and implications of disownments.  Learn the difference between a meetinghouse and a meeting.  Bring your questions! 

About the speaker:
Christopher Densmore is the Curator (Director) of Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College, the depository responsible, with Haverford College, for the preservation and research use of the records of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and Baltimore Yearly, along with sole responsibility for the records of New York Yearly Meeting.  Densmore is the author of Red Jacket: Seneca Orator and Diplomat (1999), co-author of Quaker Cross Currents: Three Hundred Years of the New York Yearly Meetings (1995), other books and numerous articles.  He frequently lectures on Quaker topics, particularly about the Underground Railroad.  He serves on the boards of the Friends Historical Association, the Records Services Group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, the Kennett Underground Railroad Center, and is current Vice President of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.  Mr. Densmore has forty-two years professional experience as an archivist.

The meeting is open to the public. Cost for members is $5 and for non-members it is $10.

The Ancestry Fair  committee has met several times since January and plans are developing for a terrific event!  Exhibitor tables are filling up fast, and the speaker slots are filled as well.  Check the latest information on the Ancestry Fair website:  www.ancestryfair.org
We need your help to make this a successful event!  If you want more information about volunteer opportunities or want to sign up to serve a couple of hours on the day of the event, please contact the Volunteer Coordinator, 
Peg Felter, at  pegfelter@yahoo.com

Get a G.R.I.P. on Genetic Genealogy
By Cathy Ivins

I recently had the privilege to attend the Practical Genetic Genealogy Course at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (G.R.I.P.).
The week-long classes were taught by experts in the growing field: Blaine Bettinger ( thegeneticgenealogist.com) in the far left, CeCe Moore ( yourgeneticgenealogist.com) to his right, and Debbie Parker Wayne ( debsdelvings.blogspot.com) at the far right. The wealth of education and conversation prompts me to familiarize others of the value of DNA testing. All genealogists need to be aware of genetics and its current trend, practical use and probable impact. DNA tests are easily available in a variety of types, both reasonably affordable and understandable, and can progress the future of genealogy.

There are several companies offering different forms of DNA testing for specific needs. The top companies currently are 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and FamilyTree DNA. Each has its own database, analysis tools, specific tests, and will connect you with matches. While all three currently offer autosomal testing for $99, FamilyTree DNA allows you to transfer your autosomal data from other companies. Autosomal DNA traces both lines for about seven generations and is very useful for finding cousins and ethnicity estimates. FamilyTree DNA also offers Y-DNA testing, which traces the paternal line, as well as mitochondrial DNA, which traces the maternal line, both over many generations. A helpful comparison chart is available on the ISOGG Wiki (International Society of Genetic Genealogy), along with many other resources.

Several third-party companies offer databases and analysis tools for a minimal or no-cost fee. GEDmatch.com is a commonly used site with several comparison tools for one-to-one and one-to-many. There is also a medical database, Promethease ( promethease.com), where you can upload your raw DNA to for just $5. It issues a report of medical information, both good and bad, associated with your genes. You must remember that it is not a medical diagnosis but may show inherited predispositions to certain conditions. Our environmental and life-style choices also affect our health.

The good news is that many of these databases and third-party company sites are user-friendly. There is also a plethora of articles, books, videos, and webinars on genetic genealogy, as well as the outstandingly comprehensive course at G.R.I.P.  An interesting article, "Customers of commercial genomic testing services understand results more than expected," recently appeared in the University of Michigan News (http://umich.edu). It reports on a study conducted by their school of public health, which resulted in an overall average score of 79% in understanding DNA results by participants from 23andMe and Pathway Genomics. Of course, being part of a great genealogical society like B.C.G.S. is also key in staying abreast of current genealogy methodologies like genetics, through lectures with professional speakers, newsletters, and peer discussion.

The best news is that DNA analysis is so helpful to so many! Genealogists will find its value in breaking down brick walls. Connecting to matches on the various databases will lead to filling in missing branches on your tree, once you locate your most recent common ancestor (MRCA). It also validates your documentary research and the conclusions made based on that research. Also, adoptees, foundlings, and adults conceived through sperm donation are finding their biological families. Many case studies can be found online and on social media with not only heart-warming stories but the genealogical process used to solve the case, all thanks to the catalyst of DNA testing. At G.R.I.P., CeCe Moore had the class on the edge of their seats with stories of triumph. As genealogists we can truly empathize with those individuals in finding their roots.

The unfortunate part of DNA testing is finding unexpected information, which could be devastating. The results could reveal consanguinity, a misattributed parentage (MP) or non-paternity event (NPE). The distress caused to the tester, their families, and the members of the newly found family, could be profound. To the genealogist who spent countless hours or years of research, unexpected results could destroy their conclusions or void membership to lineage societies. Before even ordering a DNA test kit, 23andMe warns you, "In rare cases, participation in DNA Relatives may reveal that you are related to someone whom you didn't expect, or that you are not related to someone in the way that you expected. Consider this before you opt in to this feature." Any genealogist who tests themselves or others should be prepared to accept and properly handle the findings. It is important to read the Genetic Genealogy Standards at www.geneticgenealogystandards.com with regard to not only usage, but ethics. The discussion led by Blaine Bettinger on the ethics of genetic genealogy really opened our eyes and hearts to all sides.

A current hot topic is whether genetics should be included, or even required, in the Genealogical Proof Standards or application to lineage societies. You cannot and should not force an individual to provide a DNA sample for analysis to prove your genealogical conclusions. In cases where DNA comparison is not available, exclusion of genetic evidence would certainly qualify as a "reasonably exhaustive search". 

In my case, an unexpected pleasant surprise was in matching a new-found cousin on a branch I knew nothing of. She received a DNA test kit and research from her family for her 80th birthday. Imagine our excitement to find our DNA match of 119 centimorgans on GEDmatch, which predicted a relationship of second cousin once removed at 3.5 generations. My presumed cousin's researcher and I worked diligently together, comparing our trees and sharing documents, to find our connection. Finding our most recent common ancestor (my second great-grandfather) has led to filling in blanks on both of our trees, and breaking through a common brick wall! Having both transferred our raw data to other databases was the music that led to my genealogy "happy dance", which Debbie Parker Wayne so humorously presented during our G.R.I.P. classes. 

Today's genealogists are some of the best sleuths, researching deep into records online and at repositories, and adapting to the newest methodologies. It is therefore crucial to familiarize yourself with genetic genealogy, and its pros and cons. This valuable instrument has given hope and help to many, and is sure to be an integral part of our future for family history research.

About the Author: Cathy Ivins (third from left in photo) is an Instructional Assistant in the Bristol Township School District, the Director of Publicity for Bucks County Genealogical Society, administrator of the B.C.G.S. Facebook page (www.facebook.com/bucksgen), and a member of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, National Genealogical Society, New York Genealogical & Biographical Society, and Genealogical Society of New Jersey. She will be available for discussion and demonstration of genetic genealogy tools at our September 10th computer research workshop at Council Rock High School, and at the Bucks County Ancestry Fair on September 19th at Bucks County Community College.

Our webmaster, Nancy Heath, has updated the member surnames section of the website.  It is now easier and much faster.  Look for the surnames that you are researching here  member-surnames.   Then  contact the person(s) listed next to the surname by clicking on their name to generate an email on your computer.

For example, two people are listed next to the surname Stout. An email to each of them might give you a lead to find more ancestors.   


Can you help for one of these meetings or a later date?

We need someone to pick up two containers of coffee at Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts. Both places supply the cups, stirrers, sugar and cream.  You will reimbursed by the BCGS treasurer at the meeting.  We also need one person to bring a snack. 

Also, if you are a member and bring refreshments to a meeting, the meeting fee is waived. If you are a non-member and bring refreshments,  the meeting fee is reduced from $10 to $5.
To sign up, please contact Joann Cosgrove at  projects@bucksgen.org


Our volunteers are working on thousands of records to be added to the database.  We will let you know when more records are available for your research.   The database now contains:

         25,555 birth and baptism records
         17,271 marriage records
         84,199 death and burial records
         20,647 other miscellaneous records
       272,359 total searchable names

To begin your search, go to   http://www.bucksgen.org/index.php/search-database

Your feedback is welcome! Please email Nancy Heath at webmaster@bucksgen.org with your comments.


The Cemetery Assessment Project (CAP) seems to be grounded!

(Okay, we are being a little silly with that phrase; 
but we hope it will dig up your interest!)

There are only 53 cemeteries for which CAP forms are still needed. 

You don't need to go to the cemetery...just check this  cemetery list, pick a cemetery in your neighborhood, and complete the CAP form.

Check the Internet, call the cemetery or nearby church, and complete as much information as you can on the  CAP form   - then return it to Joann Cosgrove at  projects@bucksgen.org

We appreciate your help!  Thank you.

BCGS VP-Projects, Joann Cosgrove, recently came across the book containing the following article. Although Franconia Township is in Montgomery County, the funeral information certainly applies to Bucks County too. It is an interesting tour through history.

The Old Time Funerals 
As They were on the Hagey Homestead and Elsewhere

Excerpt from Some Local History of Franconia Township
Written by Henry D Hagey,
edited by Joyce Clemmons Munro. 
Transcribed with her permission.

When a person had died, a few of the nearest neighbors went around the neighborhood, sometimes on foot and sometimes on horseback, to call all the neighbors for a distance of one mile to a meeting or "lummikunft" at the house of the dead usually a few hours after death.

There was a foreman chosen and the meeting was called to order to form ways and means for holding a funeral and to choose men to do this and that. A list of the relatives was made beforehand on slips of paper, and one was given to each bearer of the death notice to invite the relatives near and far to the funeral. Some bearers usually had to go many miles by horse and wagon.

To dig the grave on the first nice day four men were chosen if the deceased was a married or an elderly person, or four boys were chosen if the deceased was a little child. The gravediggers were also the pallbearers.

 Next chosen were four married women, four and sometimes five girls, four married men, and from ten to fifteen boys (if there were that many available to be hostlers). If boys weren't available, men were substituted.  read more...

We recently received the following notice about a former member of the original Bucks County Genealogical Society: 

To Honor
Charlotte Fox Rogers 

  Scholar, Author, Teacher, Entertainer.  Gerontologist, Genealogist, Psychologist, Artist.  Historian, Musician, Interior Decorator.  Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Friend.  These are but a few of the words to describe Charlotte Fox Rogers, 90, who passed away peacefully on May 12, 2015 from complications of multiple strokes.  

Born on a farm in Fence WI, in 1925, during the Great Depression, Charlotte Fox grew up with a desire to study and succeed.  She was Valedictorian of the class of 1942 at Tuley HS in Chicago, and worked her way through college as a lathe operator and model painter.  During this time, she entertained WWII troops as a USO Hostess. She attended Central YWCA College and Northwestern University, earning a BS with Honors and an MA in Psychology in 1946 and 1947.  read more...


Can't find what you're looking for on Ancestry or Family Search?  Maybe you can get some help from one of these 50 free genealogy sites:


Do you have ancestors in Upper Bucks County? Many obituaries were published in the Easton Express and the Allentown Morning Call .  The Easton Area Public Library has local newspaper obituary indexes from 1900 to 2014.  There are also some Bucks County church and cemetery records at the library. Go to this link and then click on the indexes on the right column:


Click the link for a listing of upcoming genealogy events for our organization and others in our area:

Have you looked at our Facebook page?

Cathy Ivins, BCGS Director of Publicity, posts great genealogy information almost every day.  Click here and take a look...


Do you have a query about a Bucks County ancestor, and don't know where to send it?

If you would like an answer from our Query Coordinator, Tom Myers, please send your query to Tom at queries@bucksgen.org

If you would like the query published in a BCGS newsletter, please send your query (or comment) to VP Membership, Pat Gessner, at membership@bucksgen.org
Membership Fees for One Year Membership 
                         Individual:  $20          Dual/Household:  $35
                                            Organization: $75

Our membership fees help to pay for speakers, facility rental, website costs, insurance and more.  Membership in BCGS is on a rolling basis and lasts one year from the month you join. Won't you join and help us continue to grow?

Member Benefits - with more to come: 
  • Discount on Society educational programs and events.
  • Members can have their surnames posted on our website with a link to the member's email address.
  • Members-only section of the BCGS website.  Participate in discussion forums, share files, photos, and information with other members; see members' favorite genealogical websites and contribute your own.
  • Meeting handouts are available to members unable to attend the Society's regular monthly meetings.    
  • Free scanning of documents is available by appointment.
  • GenealogyBank: 20% ($14) discount - members may subscribe for $55.95 per year.
  • Fold3: 37% ($30) discount - members may subscribe for $49.95 per year.
  • Saving Memories Forever: 12% discount - members may receive a one-year premium subscription for $35.00.   
  • FindMyPast: 50% discount on annual membership
  • Dell purchase program: provides discounts on products sold through the Dell website to FGS member societies' members, their families, and their friends.  BCGS is a member of FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) and the discounts are available to our members.
Join or renew by mail using our membership application/renewal form , on line on the Society's website via PayPal or by paying with cash or check at our next meeting.  And, we now have the ability to accept credit card payments at our monthly meetings!

If you have questions and to get access to the above discounts,
please contact:  membership@bucksgen.org
More information about us:
Not a member and want more information?  Check our website at www.bucksgen.org and our Facebook page www.facebook.com/bucksgen.