Thursday, January 24, 2019

Isaac Van Wart: Shoemaker, Father of 11, and Patriot

Today's post will tell the story of my 7th great grandfather, Isaac Van Wart. Before I begin I would like to preface that this is not the Isaac Van Wart who captured Major John Andre during the Revolutionary War (although they are related). This Isaac, like many others, was one of the revolutionary war veterans who weren't honored with a section in the history books, but whose sacrifices should not be forgotten.

Throughout records he is most commonly known as Isaac Van Wart (1) and is sometimes also referred to as Isaac Van Waert (2). Isaac was born in about 1750 (3) to his parents Abraham Van Wart (2)(11) and Anna Maria May (12). On the 13th of April, 1751, he was baptized in the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow in North Tarrytown, New York (2).

The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow. (source)
Upon reaching adulthood Isaac began working in the cordwainer trade (8), crafting shoes out of leather (8).

In the year 1777 Isaac, unmarried and just 27 years old, was commissioned as a 1st Lieut. in Capt. Jacob Wright, Company in the late Philip V Cortland Regiment, on the continental Establishment in which company and regiment he served as Lieut. from that time until the spring of the year 1780, when he retired from the service of the revolutionary war (5). During his service he was engaged in the battles of St. John's, Quebec, White Plains, Hackensack Bridge, Saratoga, Monmouth, and Stony Point (18).

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Postcards from the past: the Gustafson-Van Wert Family pt. 1

 There is something truly special about reading the handwriting of your ancestors. 100 years ago they carefully inked a name or a word, and now you are once again reading that same word in the same writing. Even more spectacular is reading postcards from your ancestors. Each one is a memento of a story, a voice from the past. I was lucky enough to receive a box of postcards from my Great Uncle Everette Van Wert a year or so ago. Below is the first installment of some of the specimens from the box collection.

Postcard to Frances from her Father (Date Unknown)

Relations to me:
Frances Gustafson: Great Grandma
Papa/ F. O. W. Gustafson: 2nd great grandpa

The text of the postcard is in half English half Swedish and reads the following:
Dear Frances, How are you? 
We will stay in Pueblo till Thursday morning. Brandelle(?) kommer icke hit. Hälsa allesammans. Har din mormor kommit till dig? (illegible sentence) 
Pueblo Colo. 
August 21st 9:15 am 
din papa
The fully translated  version looks something like this:
Dear Frances, How are you? 
We will stay in Pueblo till Thursday morning. Brandelle(?) will not come here. Greet everyone for me. Has your grandmother come to you? (illegible sentence) 
Pueblo Colo. 
August 21st 9:15 am 
your papa

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A look in Grandma Joan's Baby Book

Over the past few years, it has become my job and passion to preserve and find all the fascinating history, stories, and photographs from my family's past. A few months ago I was ecstatic to receive a box of memories from my grandma Joan Van Wert, within which I was happy to find a collection of photographs bound lovingly in a book by my grandma's mother, Frances Gustafson-Van Wert. This post contains all of these photos as well as descriptions and some labels of who appears inside them.

People featured and their relationship to me, as well as a numerical identifier which is used to identify them alongside their name in the photograph descriptions:

  • Allen, Carolyn, (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P1)
  • Allen, Marion Blanch (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P2)
  • Anderson, Evert (Unknown Relation) (P3)
  • Anderson, Maria (Unknown Relation) (P4)
  • Arnette, Judy (No Relation) (P5)
  • Arnette, Mrs. (No Relation) (P6)
  • Bengtson, Don (Nephew of Husband of 2nd Great Aunt) (P7)
  • Bengtson, Gilbert Eddie (Husband of Sister-in-law of 2nd Great Aunt) (P8)
  • Bengtson, John (Nephew of Husband of 2nd Great Aunt) (P9)
  • Boddie, Laura Linda John (Wife of Great Uncle) (P10)
  • Burbank, Judy (No Relation) (P11)
  • Case, Lainey Virginia (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P12)
  • Collins, Barry (No Relation) (P13)
  • Ekeberg, Blanche Aurora (2nd Great Grandma) (P14)
  • Falagrady, Nancy (Wife of Great Uncle) (P15)
  • Folansbee, Sharon (No Relation) (P16)
  • Folansbee, Mrs. (No Relation) (P17)
  • Gardner, Janet (No Relation) (P18)
  • Gardner, Mrs. (No Relation) (P19)
  • Goedert, Marcia (No Relation) (P20)
  • Goldberg, Carole (No Relation) (P21)
  • Gustafson, Alva Ruth Elizabeth (2nd Great Aunt) (P22)
  • Gustafson, Ann Ester Dorothea (2nd Great Aunt) (P23)
  • Gustafson, Faith Elaine (2nd Great Aunt) (P24)
  • Gustafson, Florence Evangeline (2nd Great Aunt) (P25)
  • Gustafson, Frances Elsie Caroline (Great Grandma) (P26)
  • Gustafson, Frans Oscar Wilhelm (2nd Great Grandpa) (P27)
  • Gustafson, Frans Von (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P28)
  • Gustafson, Gretchen (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P29)
  • Gustafson, Ingrid L. (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P30)
  • Gustafson, Paul Oscar Emanuel (2nd Great Uncle) (P31)
  • Gustafson, Thure (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P32)
  • Johnson, Peggy (No Relation) (P33)
  • K., Clair (No Relation) (P34)
  • Larsdotter, Malena Wilhelmina (3rd Great Grandma) (P35)
  • Leaf, Kitty Belle (No Relation) (P36)
  • Lipnick, Michael (No Relation) (P37)
  • Magners, Melvin (Husband of 1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P38)
  • Male, Marie (P39)
  • Male, Susan Huskin (3rd Great Grandma) (P40)
  • Neff, ? (No Relation) (P41)
  • Neff, Mrs. (No Relation) (P42)
  • O., Donna (No Relation) (P43)
  • Osborne, Jessica (Wife of 2nd Great Uncle) (P44)
  • Rudd, John (Husband of 1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P45)
  • Segerhammar, Carl William (Husband of 2nd Great Aunt) (P46)
  • Segerhammar, Karen Elizabeth Segerhammer (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P47)
  • Segerhammar, Kathleen (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P48)
  • Segerhammar, Kathryn (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P49)
  • Segerhammar, Margaret Irene (Sister-In-Law of 2nd Great Aunt) (P50)
  • Segerhammar, Paul Kempton (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P51)
  • Shue, Glen M. (2nd Cousin 3x Removed) (P52)
  • Smith, Carrie Blanch (2nd Great Grandma) (P53)
  • Stafford, Susan (No Relation) (P54)
  • Tilton, Roberta (No Relation) (P55)
  • Van Wert, Barry (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P56)
  • Van Wert, Beverly Ann (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P57)
  • Van Wert, Everette Clayton (Great Uncle) (P58)
  • Van Wert, Forrest Richard (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P59)
  • Van Wert, Harold Benson (3rd Great Uncle) (P60)
  • Van Wert, James Cordell (Great Uncle) (P61)
  • Van Wert, Joan Elaine (Grandma) (P62)
  • Van Wert, Reuben Everette (Great Grandpa) (P63)
  • Van Wert, Ruth (2nd Great Aunt) (P64)
  • W., Jimmie (No Relation) (P65)
  • Waldmann, Eric Eugene (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P66)
  • Waldmann, Eugene John (Husband of 2nd Great Aunt) (P67)
  • Waldmann, Sonja C. (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P68)
  • Wikgren, John Arthur (Husband of 2nd Great Aunt) (P69)
  • ?, Jackie (P70)
  • ?, Kay (P71)
  • ?, Penny (P72)

 Pictured above are the identical Segerhammar twins in 2nd grade at the age of 7 yrs in Longmont, Colorado with their mother Ruth. From left to right those shown in the image are Kathleen Segerhammar (P48), Alva Ruth Elizabeth Gustafson-Segerhammar (P22), and Kathryn Segerhammar (P49).

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Tool to Change the Way You Conduct Collateral Research (Census2Ged v2.1)

Table of Contents

1. Links 
2. Introduction
3. Wait, What is Collateral Research?
4. So, How Does Census2Ged Help With Collateral Research?
5. Installing Census2Ged
6. Prerequisites
7. Using Census2Ged
     a. Gedcom Name
     b. Country
     c. Census Year
     d. Sourcing
     e. Source List Name
     f. Everything Else in Sourcing
     g. United States Tags
     h. Swedish Household Examinations
     I. Swedish Household Examination Tags
8. Cleaning Up the Final Gedcoms


1. Like Census2Ged? Consider sending a couple dollars to my PayPal to support its continued development:
2. Census2Ged on Github:
4. Join the Census2Ged user group on facebook:


Eleven months ago I published version 1.0 of my software, Census2Ged. It was buggy, had no customizability, and had an appearance reminiscent of the dark days where graphic design and software had an oppositional relationship.
Census2Ged 1.0
I am happy to announce that those days of visual and operational vulgarity are now over, thanks to the advent of the latest version, Census2Ged v2.1.

Census2Ged 2.1
The functional differences between v2.1 and all previous ones are massive, and the program will change the ease of conducting collateral research for all who use it.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Laughs From the Past: 100 Year Old Humorous Quips

Often when I am perusing old newspapers I come across some rather interesting sections devoted to satisfying the distinctive brand of humor characterizing the tastes of the century to which they belong. In my time traveling adventures, I have discovered specimens representing everything from the dry and crass to the strange and sickly sweet. I have included a sampling of some of these below ordered chronologically.

June 23rd 1853 Wayne County Herald
Awkward Dance—Forward two—and hit
your partner in the bread basket; dos-a-dos—
turn to the right and kick your partner on the shins;
 shassey all—promenade to the left, and
accidentally knock down two attendants carrying

June 23rd 1853 Wayne County Herald
A western editor says he heard a young
lady at the table ask for “hen fruit”—meaning

Friday, June 15, 2018

Using FTDNA's API: Commands and Explanations

After hearing from all of you, I am now fairly certain that anyone is, in fact, allowed to access FTDNA's family finder API. And, as a bonus, I learned some new things about how APIs function in websites as well (special thanks for that goes to the anonymous commenter on the previous post). The question that remains is whether or not programmatically accessing it is against FTDNA's terms of use, and if anyone knows anything about that I'd be very happy to hear it, as I can think of a few things I want to try doing with the API and my best friend, python.

Anyways, this new post will go over the ways you can use the API and the different requests you can send to it. It's not all-inclusive and only includes the things I thought were important/most useful.

Please note, this post will include a lot of technical words without a lot of detailed explanation. If you just want to try it out for yourself simply click one of the links in the post to see the match data after signing into ftdna in your web browser.

How to Send GET Requests (In General)

There are two ways you can send Requests. The first is to just put the URL in your browser and the 2nd is to use Postman. For the most part, I use because making requests in it is faster and its easier to change parameters, however, I will use my browser in this tutorial because that will make it easier to collapse things/ limit the amount of censoring I have to do.

Match Lists

Basic Match List

The JSON Data for the Basic Match List

To return the information for your first 9 matches in JSON format (the same number as you would normally see on the screen) Use the following url:

Full Match List

You'll notice that the first line of JSON data returned by the last command has the total count of matches you have. You can use this number or any number larger than it in the url to print out that number of matches. In the url set page=1 (to start on your first page of matches) and set pageSize=numberofmatches. Here is an example url:

Thursday, May 10, 2018


Edit 1 5/11/2018: Note that this does not mean anything bad for you at all and you can continue using ftdna as normal, it's a fantastic site. Also, there is a possibility that the information I was sent regarding who was supposed to be able to use the API could have been incorrect, see the comments section for an interesting discussion on that. I think that the big takeaway from this post should be if you want to use the API for your company it is worth checking in with ftdna to ensure you have permission to do so.

Edit 2 5/11/2018: I have been looking into it more, and I believe that this is not in fact an issue at all which I am very happy about. I am still confused about why ftdna told me otherwise, and it may be that you are technically still not supposed to use it, but I'm really not sure at this time. Special thanks to the anonymous commenter for clearing things up!

Note: I actually wrote this all the way back on March 12th. I had notified FTDNA of the fact that their API was accessible by the public even before that. I am publishing this now because I feel it is my right/duty. They made the decision not to fix it or notify the public that they can use the API, so I think that somebody should. I'm hoping that this post will perhaps raise awareness about this and make FTDNA make a definitive choice about whether they want their API to be publicly available (which I personally think would be fantastic).


This document will serve to explain the process through which I found a security vulnerability in the FTDNA web API, as well as the process I went through in reporting said vulnerability and what I would have done differently if given the chance.


Some company names and terms used in this document will undoubtedly be unfamiliar to those reading it. This section will serve to clarify said terms.