Sunday, December 31, 2017

1880 Census- Dennis, Massachusetts

My sister and i have a hypothesis that every person in the Town of Dennis, Cape Cod, in 1880 is related to everyone else in the town.  While it has not been proven yet- we have done a lot of work that you can see at:  where we examine  consanguinity, the cousin factor.

We started by making a tree in which contains the actual list of 3,292 people living in Dennis at the time.  Then we started looking for their ancestors. I wrote a computer program that searches for a common ancestor between each person and all the other folks in town.  Of course many times there is only one or two degrees of separation as the people are siblings or children but there are more cousin relationships than you  can shake a stick at.

So for example, my great-grandfather Elkanah Howes Sears is a cousin to 1,367 people (over 40% of those in town are his cousins!) The "most related" person at our current analyis is Mercy Baker - a baby when the census taker stopped by- daughter of Wilbur Cornelius Baker(1856-1898) and Mercy Ella Baker(1857-?) [yes her Dad was also a Baker] who is related to 2,355 townfolks - 71% - Has she got a few cousins or what?

My Aunt Marie Sabra Sears was also a Howes on both sides of her lineage.  She told me it's a wonder that we are not all idiots.  In any case this is a project that i plan to continue and if you want to take a look at the tree in Ancestry you can find it at--

Let us know if we have made any ancestral errors or if you have additional information about one of the folks living there in 1880. The "tree" currently has 13,635 people.

Here is a detailed lists of who is related to whom-  please let us know if you see errors-

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Sears Archives

I have a lot of different projects going on.  In the late 1970s my grandmother, Harriet (Thurston) Sears gave me the 90-year-old family copy of the book titled, The Descendants of Richard Sares (Sears) of Yarmouth,  Mass  1638-1888.  Samuel Pearce May published this book in 1890 and through the magic of scanning- you can read the whole thing at -  or even download it to your Kindle

That book was falling apart so i had it rebound in 1980 when we lived in Germany.

As you can imagine, since Richard Sears, the Pilgrim, settled in the East Precinct of Yarmouth, Cape Cod about 1639 the book is chock full of Cape Cod folks.  When i started to understand the "Register format" and figure out how the book was laid out i realized my Grandfather, Leslie R. Sears, was not listed.  He was not born until 1892.  May did not stop with the publication of the first edition.  He continued to collect more information about the family which he would write on note paper and insert into his personal copy of the book at the appropriate spot for later updates.  As i continued to gather updates to May's book i corresponded with many descendants.  Today that correspondence fills fourteen file boxes and i have scanned all the information into PDF documents and sorted them by contributor's last name in a computer folder I call the Sears Archives.  Currently in these archives there are almost 1,000 folders containing 124,000 files comprising 189 gigabytes of data.  And i still have more to include from old emails that  i have received the past 15 years.  That archive will be available at the Sears Chapel (Christ Church), Longwood Mass., sometime next summer when i haul all  those boxes up there.

In my search for more of Richard's descendants i placed ads trying to contact descendants in Yankee Magazine, and Genealogical Helper. I started using the online genealogy databases like GEnie (GE Network that provided dial-up to our town) and to forums and message boards that you dialed into to exchange data.  I haunted many libraries including the great LDS library here in Oklahoma City, visited the mother library at Salt Lake City and the wonderful genealogy repositories on Cape Cod like the Sturgis Library and  Snow Library.  Whenever i would visit a college to recruit engineers for my company i  always found time to visit there library and look in the reference sections for Who's Who and search online catalogs for Sears authors like the WorldCat.

Along the way I corresponded with Corinne Weiss, a descendant who had come across Samuel P May's personal copy of his published book with all of those interleaved hand-written notes. She allowed me to photocopy everything at a local office store in Midland, Texas. Later when she died her husband knew of my interest in the book and gave it  to me.  At that point i scanned everything and made a CD with the images that i have provided to many researchers.  I also tried to make notes in my family copy of the book to make it look like May's personal copy.   Since i had all the information i could glean from the book and i was worried about  its preservation, i donated the book to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, where both May and I are members!  The NEHGS also has a typescript prepared by May which looks very much like the second edition of the book, although it was never published.

I entered all the data from this book into Personal Ancestral File (PAF) with the help of my uncle Bob Sanders.  From that i was able to publish  my own Sears Genealogical Catalogue in 1992.  Just about 100 years after May's publication.   Carmen Wendt recently pointed out to me that my book is also scanned and online at  .  I guess i am OK with that even though i still hold the copyright.  I find that very few folks actually give me credit or cite my book when they copy it and include it in their work.  The hazards of putting your work on the Internet i guess.    After publshing the book i attempted to update the work by publishing semi-annual newsletters to a list of about 100 members of the  Sears Family Association.  You can see the newsletters at my website-

A few years ago i transferred all the data to FamilyTreeMaker since i was using extensively at that point.  I recently "printed" out the descendants of Richard Sears and they now comprise almost 22,000 folks.   Can you imagine 22,000 grand-kids?!

Well i better hit publish so i don't lose this memory.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Renew a genealogy spirit

One of those New Year things-  i had completely forgotten about this blog with so many other activities going on but my sister suggested i join       I figured if i was going to join them i ought to have something new here to look at.

I have been thinking  that personal genealogy web sites are not well suited for preserving history because they are dependent on just one person to maintain the site.  Someone has to remove dead links, pay for the domain renewal  (mine is pay the hosting outfit (I have switched to GoDaddy as a little more economical) and add new content if you want return visitors. 

So my sister and I have settle on  as a way to preserve our work.  Yes it is a paid site but it seems like it has achieved critical mass and will be around for a while.  Short of that, i still plan to print a book of the Descendants of Richard Sears of Yarmouth, Plymouth Colony circa 1639 since the book would contain much of the information on the site.   My ancestry tree currently has 77,000 people in it because while you are looking for descendants of Richard Sears you find many other Sears families.

Well I think the trick to this blogging might be to just get something out there and then continue the thoughts as we go.  We had a Merry Christmas.  I hope you have a Happy  New Year!