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Rhonda's Tips: Genealogy Questions Answered
by Rhonda R. McClure

March 14, 2002
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Audio Cassette Preservation

Q: I have a question pertaining to some old cassette tape interviews I did in the 1980s of my grandparents. Can they be converted to an audio file and stored on my computer? -- John

A: While converting your interviews to audio file will be helpful and could preserve them for a while, it is important to remember that unless the audio files are updated as technology improves, you may loose them sooner through the audio files. After converting them, it is still a good idea to try to find out the best way to preserve the cassette tapes themselves in case they are ever needed again to make digital audio files.

It is possible to convert cassette tapes to audio files. Many people hook up a microphone to their computer and then play the cassette tapes, recording them to the computer. While this is certainly a possibility, you run the risk of deteriorating the sound because it is likely

A better way would be to get a tape deck that has in/out audio capabilities through cables. You would use a special cable plugging into the tape deck on one end and then plugging the other end into the appropriate place on your sound board.

To do more than 60 seconds, which Windows' built in Sound Recorder limits you to, you will want to investigate CD recording software, such as Easy CD Creator 5 Platinum, and others, that allow you to record from tape decks to a CD. There are probably many freeware and shareware software options as well. You might try visiting and doing a search on "CD recording software."

Ancestor Has Disappeared

Q: Two members of our Manion family have tried in vain to locate our great-grandfather, Samuel South Manion. He doesn't seem to show up anywhere although census records in Missouri indicate he was born in Kentucky, others Virginia. He appeared in Washington County, Missouri, prior to 1845. No one can find from where. He has an unusual middle name of South which could indicate a mothers' maiden name - but again a dead end. He had to come from somewhere - I'm here!! -- ag37867

A: Sometimes we think we have exhausted all the records available and then we discover there are some other records that might be of use. Often I concentrate so hard on the records at the county level that I exclude potential avenues at the state level.

It is possible that his middle name is indeed a maiden name. It could be his mother's or it could be farther back. Of course until you know where he came from, there is probably not much you can do about this aspect of your research.

It is possible, if you have already searched the land records of Washington County, Missouri, that he was already of the county by the time he shows up in the county's deed books. If you haven't looked in the land records, you will want check the deed records, especially the grantee records for Washington County. Usually the first land purchases by an individual is when he moves into the area, and will often tell you where he is coming from. Of course, if he moved into the area as a child with his parents, then his first land purchase would reflect this as he would already be of Washington County.

It is possible that he purchased his first land in Missouri from the government. Missouri is a public-domain state. The first federal land office was established in 1818, probably too early for Samuel, however, it was years before all the land was dispersed. In addition to purchasing land, it is possible he inherited land. Some of the land in Missouri was set aside as War of 1812 lands, and it is possible that Samuel inherited from his father.

It may be necessary to research all Manions in the county of Washington to try and get a feel for where Samuel came from. Census records are not always accurate. We need to remember that the census enumerator didn't have to talk to the actual occupants of the household.

Second Spouses

Q: I have yet to figure out how to add a second marriage for my mother. I want my step-father listed. -- Anne

A: In Family Tree Maker, each marriage creates a new family view. Right now when you open the family view for your mother, your father is already in the spouse field, so this makes it look like you cannot add another spouse for your mother.

Off to the right of your mothers name, you will find a number of buttons. There is the More About, Scrapbook, and Spouses buttons. If you click on the Spouses button for your mother, you will see that one of the options available is to Create a new spouse. This creates a new family view with the Husband field empty, allowing you to add the information about your step-father.

You can also access the Spouses window by clicking on the People menu and selecting the Other Spouses option that appears. Similarly you can open the Spouses window by pressing the F3 key.

Born in Texas

Q: I am searching for information on my great-grandmother. Her name was Alpha E. Crosser. We know she was born in February of 1878 somewhere in Texas. We can not find a death certificate or any other information. -- Margie

A: The 1880 Federal Census was the first federal census that was Soundexed. This was an index used to group like sounding surnames together so that certain spelling variations didn't affect the indexing. The draw back to the 1880 census' Soundex is that it was to include only those households with a child age ten or younger living in it.

Fortunately for you, Alpha was only two making it probable that she would be found in the Soundex. The Soundex code for the Crosser surname is C626. However, this past year the Family History Library's recent release of the 1880 Census Index on 55 CD-ROMs. Searching for ancestors in 1880 has become much easier.

A search of those CD-ROMs reveals that there is one Alpha Crosser in the entire index and she is aged two and was born and is living in Texas. You will find her in Goshen, Henderson County, Texas living in the household of Chas. Crasser and his wife Jane on page 148C. Both Chas. and Jane were born in Tennessee and are each 30 years old. There are three step-children living in the household as well Thos. Chambers, age 17, born in Tennessee; Mollie Foster, age 12, born in Texas; and Jennie Foster, age 8, born in Texas.

I would say your next step is to see what records may exist for Henderson County, Texas, especially probate records to try and make a more positive connection between Alpha and Chas. The first place to start would be the Family History Library Catalog available at your local Family History Center and online at

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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