Episode 119 - The War of 1812 Project/ The Night the Stars Fell

podcast episode Dec 28, 2015

It's a 2015 rewind show for the holiday weekend, with a pair of Fisher's favorite segments from the past year!

Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  David talks about a nine foot idol discovered in Siberia in 1890.  Only recently was it determined just how old this item really is.  Listen to the podcast to find out! David also reveals some fascinating facts about his grandfather, who disappeared on the streets of Boston decades ago.  He also shares a terrific "Tech Tip" that will change the way you manage your photographs.

Then, Fisher visits with Fran Jensen who is all over the War of 1812 Project.  The Project is well underway, digitizing the pension records of the veterans of that war.  Fran and some associates have been reviewing them and has pulled out some gems, found in the records, that she'll share in this segment.

Linda Emlee from Richmond, Missouri then talks about a night few people have ever heard of.  It's referred to as "The Night the Stars Fell."  It took place in 1833, and many of our ancestors were affected.  Wait til you hear the details.

Then, Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority, talks equipment for Do It Yourselfers concerning digitizing and editing.  It's always great advice you won't want to miss!

That's all this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 119

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 119

Fisher: And welcome Genies to another action packed edition of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.  I am Fisher, your Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out.  I hope you had an incredible holiday season, and that you took a ton of pictures of family members, that your descendents will be struggling to identify 100 years from now. You understand what I’m saying right? Of course, and I hope you taped interviews with your senior family members and got all kinds of stories that you’ll not forget in the New Year to store, share, record and all that good stuff.

There’s no better time of the year for family history than right now, and on the show today we’ll be talking with a woman who is up to her knees in the indexing project, involving veterans of the War of 1812. If you had an ancestor who was part of that little disagreement with Great Britain, you’ll want to hear what’s happening to make sure you have access to the records of your people. It’s a phenomenal effort.

Then later in the show, you’ll hear about a night that affected a lot of our ancestors, many of them even wrote about it. It was dubbed “The Night The Stars Fell.” And some crazy stuff happened that evening. But right now of course it is time to check in with our good friend, David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and AmericanAncestors.org.  Hi David, How are you?

David: Hey Fish, I’m doing great! How about yourself?

Fisher: I am doing awesome, of course still refreshed from my little excursion up to Alaska.

David: That makes reference to an email that you sent me with a photograph of you with a totem pole.

Fisher: Yes! I didn’t even know that they put family history on totem poles until I was there.  It was amazing.

David: Well it’s amazing… now that wasn’t an ancestor there by any chance?

Fisher: No! No, no.

David: Okay well, one thing that may be an ancestor is something that was found back in the 1890’s directly linked to the northwest totem poles.  This is a 9 foot wooden idol that was found back in 1890 in a peat bog in Siberia. Now the thing about this is, this is older than you might believe. It is actually eleven thousand years old.

Fisher: Ooh! 9000 BC. really?

David: Amazing isn’t it?

Fisher: How they’d figure this out?

David: They’ve used radio carbon dating, and because of this we know its eleven thousand years old, which actually makes it twice as old as the great pyramids of Giza.

Fisher: Wow!

David: The nice thing about this is that, this actually gives a nice link between the time when the Native Americans were coming across the Bering Land Bridge into North America, and of course the traditions as you’ve seen recently of the northwest with totem poles ties perfectly with this tradition in Siberia, which is eleven thousand years ago.

Fisher: Boy that is just an incredible find! I love hearing this stuff. Every week there’s something new or old.

David: It really is exciting. It’s nice to know that old news becomes new, but nothing found that long ago.

Fisher: Yes.

David: Well, some new news is going on in Fort Wayne, Indiana, at the Allen County Public Library. You may have visited this wonderful facility.

Fisher: It’s like the number two biggest in the world, to the one in Salt Lake City.

David: That’s very true, and they are having a $100,000 plus renovation of the two thousand square foot downtown center. It’s going to make genealogists a lot happier. It’s going to go in November, so there’s probably going to be some disruption of service. So check out their website to find out what’s going on before you head down to Fort Wayne.

Fisher: That’s great news for midwesterners.

David: Exactly.

Fisher: Well you know it’s funny, I often don’t talk about my own dirty laundry but one of my black sheep ancestors… it’s time I talk to you about my own grandfather… and at NEHGS we just did a little video which is up on YouTube with a photograph.

Remember a couple of weeks ago we talked about the alien registration files?

Fisher: Yeah those are great.

David: Within that file I found the only photograph that we have of my grandfather.

Fisher: That’s fantastic!

David: Yeah it’s a little passport size photo, has a signature on it. But because I have no other photographs, I cherish this probably as much as anything I do in my genealogical collection.

But the ironic thing is I found it a year to the week after my father died.

Fisher: Oh!

David: It was his dad. He always said you know, “Dave, can you find what happened to my father? He disappeared.”  Unfortunately I think this bootlegger and person who side stepped the law quite a bit, died on the streets of Boston.

Fisher: You think or you know?

David: I’m pretty sure.

Fisher: Okay.

David: He died as a John Doe; I mean he isn’t in any records that I found. But it’s a nice little video and you get to see how much I don’t look like my grandfather.

Fisher: [Laughs] 

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: Well let’s link that video to our Facebook page from ExtremeGenes.com that sounds great.

David: Yup, I’ll be glad to do that. We have some exciting news at NEHGS. We have our Labor Day experience for September 2nd to September 9th we’re offering to our guest users, census tax and voters lists over 40 separate databases.

Those are going to be free to our guest users, and that leads me to a tech tip that you may have never tried.

Have you.... well you probably have, have you ever drawn the floor plan of your childhood home?

Fisher: It is so bizarre you would say that. I was thinking about this just a couple of nights ago because I have all these photographs from around our house, indoors and outdoors and I thought, it would be kind of fun to take some of them and put them together and basically take a tour of the house.  And then perhaps draw the layout of exactly how it all was and where the shelves were and where this was and where that was. It would be quite fun I think.

David: Well I think with graph paper but now with CAD programs that are pretty reasonable in price you could probably layout the floor plan like if you were going to do a renovation of your house.  How about doing a recreation of your old house?

Fisher: Right or your grandfather’s house.

David: Exactly! Or interview somebody and have them sit down and draw where the kitchen was, where the bedrooms were. Who slept in what room, great stuff.  And last but not least my weekly tech tip is… An iPhone, an Android app called ‘Photo Myne’ spelled P-H-O-T-O- M-Y-N-E.  This goes for $4.99 is a great little app. I’m going to download it and I’ll give you a review next week. You can take pictures of your photo albums.  You know the magnetic ones your pictures are stuck in and you’re afraid to lift out of.

Fisher: Oh the 70’s, yeah what a great time. Who was thinking when they made those things?

David: Not archivist obviously. But the one thing about it is, you’re able to scan the pages and then it does auto and color contrast corrections.  So those faded pictures from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s come to life again, and then you can use social media to post them and share them with your family.

Fisher: So we’re talking with the cell phone?

David: With the cell phone. A cheap app for $4.99, I have an album from the 70’s that I’m going to use and upload to Facebook and I’ll do it as my test.

Fisher: He’s David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  Thank you David! Talk to you again next week.

David: Very good! Have a good week yourself.

Fisher: And coming up next, we’ll talk to Fran Jensen who is knee deep in exploring the pension files of the veterans of the War of 1812.

It’s a project that numerous researchers are excited about. That’s in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 119

Host Scott Fisher with guest Fran Jensen

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.  It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, and on the line with me right now is Fran Jensen, and Fran was a speaker recently at a Family History Conference at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  Fran you had a fascinating story about your exploration of the War of 1812 files, and obviously you have way too much time on your hands [laughs]. Tell everybody what you’ve been up to.

Fran: Well, for the past year and a half we have been perusing through the pension files as they have been digitized and placed on Fold3, and actually viewing many of the files one by one.  We were looking for some stories, some fantastic records and information that were contained in the files, and we were just blown away by what we found in the files.

Fisher: Who is ‘we’ Fran?

Fran: Myself and two other volunteers.

Fisher: Okay.

Fran: So we’ve seen things like numerous original marriage certificates, family Bible pages that had been ripped out of family Bibles and sent in during the process of applying for pension or bounty land, and in one case we actually saw that the entire Bible was sent in by the family, not just the Bible pages.

Fisher: [Laughs] How do they store that? That’s amazing!

Fran: [Laughs] I don’t know how they store that back there in the National Archives, but I’m sure it’s just sitting right there. All the pension files were originally stored in alphabetical order, so it’s probably just sitting in alphabetical order with the rest of the pension files. [Laughs] 

Fisher: Oh, that’s funny, the Bible itself.

Fran: So that was just mind boggling to see that.

Fisher: Did they digitize every page in the Bible?

Fran: No. [Laughs] They only digitized the pages that were pertinent to history or family history.

Fisher: Okay.

Fran: It was actually a Bible. I believe the date on the Bible if I remember right was 1815.

Fisher: Right.

Fran: If I remember right.

Fisher: Right from the end of the war.

Fran: Uh huh, yeah, and obviously numerous family members were actually documented in the Bible on those pages, their births, their deaths and their marriages. There was another pension file that we found, let me see, the soldier’s name was Fredrick D. Bolles. We were amazed at the information that was in his file. There was a really, really long obituary for the wife, and with that obituary that was in the file as well as the numerous other records that were in the file.  We were able to find that individual on FamilySearch /FamilyTree, Fredrick Bolles and his wife, and they had one child in that record on FamilySearch.  But in the pension file, we were able to identify the birthplace, the birth date, the death date and place. The file confirmed that there was only one spouse for either the husband or the wife.  In other words the wife didn’t remarry after the husband died. It gave the marriage date, marriage place. It identified that the couple had twelve children.

Fisher: Oh boy!

Fran: And at the time of the pension, four were still living, and the couple had eighteen grandchildren and six great grandchildren.  The file gave us all that information, including the wife’s father’s name and one of her sister’s names and where they were living. If it was my family, I would have been able to take that pension file and fill out all that information which was missing from the record on FamilySearch/FamilyTree.

Fisher: Isn’t that something…

Fran: So what we’re hoping is that people will find these records in pension file and fill in all the missing blanks they may have in their family records.

Fisher: Now what kind of military action stories have you stumbled across in these records?

Fran: Oh, military action stories, there’s been stories where either the soldier himself or the wife they will tell how they were injured or how they endured certain specific events in the war.  In other words, they were exposed to extreme cold and it caused medical problems.

So we’ll see medical records in the pension file that were used in an effort to obtain either the pension or the bounty land, and it proved they were invalid and needed help through pension, through some kind of support, and so, being shot, losing a limb, and normal things you might see out of the ravages of war. You’ll see evidence of that also in the pension files.

Fisher: I’m talking to Fran Jensen. She’s been researching the War of 1812 pension files that are being released. How far along are we right now? I mean there’s percentages of them we see periodically going up 30%, 40%, what number have you seen lately, Fran?

Fran: I was on the Fold3 website this morning and it said 65%. They’re currently digitizing the soldiers’ names who began with the letter M.

Fisher: Was it all done alphabetically?

Fran: Yeah. At the National Archives the pensions are filed alphabetically, so they just started at the very beginning and now they’re working on the M’s. I don’t know how far they are into the M’s, but they’ve been working on that for a few months now. So we will eventually get to the W’s and X’s and Y’s. We will eventually get there. It’s just been amazing, the stories and information.  Just the other day I was looking at one pension file, it had a little teeny tiny clipping from a newspaper.  Well that newspaper clipping had nothing to do with that soldier. Nothing to do with the person who was applying for a pension which happened to be the daughter of the soldier, and the daughter was using that particular newspaper article to prove that she was the same type of a person, a living descendent of someone who served in the war.

Fisher: Right.

Fran: And so therefore she needed a pension too like this other person did.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Fran: So I went and looked for that other pension and found it. But that other pension mentioned somebody else who was the same situation, a daughter who was looking for support and hoping to obtain a pension like another daughter had obtained.  So it was actually one pension file that led to two other pension files, and interestingly enough, the very last pension file that the story actually linked to, is actually missing and is not in the pension files on Fold3.   It’s probably not even sitting there in the stack of the pension files. It looks like, based on the information we saw on Fold3 in the pension, it’s probably filed totally someplace else, and that’s the file I actually expect to see quite a bit of evidence and information about the family in that file.

If it can ever be found because the daughter was very young, I think she was fourteen years old when her father passed away, and she was partially blind and that’s why she was able to obtain a pension on behalf of her father’s service. Because of her age and because of her disability, her pension file was actually an exception to the rule and it was an act of Congress that actually made it possible for her to obtain her pension.

Fisher: Wow.

Fran: We’ve seen several pension files where individuals have tried to obtain a pension under the current laws at the time, and was not able to but due to extenuating circumstances, bills went up to Congress and then in many cases when it was warranted obviously the pension was granted to the individual outside of the basic laws that were available at the time.

Fisher: Sure, exceptions at the time. Fran, how many files are there? How many pensions were actually applied for?

Fran: We don’t have an exact count, in the neighborhood of 100,000.

Fisher: Okay.

Fran: The other interesting story… just to point out that even if your ancestor didn’t serve in the war, you may find lots of information about your ancestors, multiple ancestors in the file.

For instance, I had an ancestor, he served in the war. His name was William Fuller Card, Card was the last name, and his son-in-law, his name is Benjamin Kingman Curtis.  Well Benjamin Kingman Curtis was born fourteen years after the war.  Well, guess what? Benjamin wrote a letter stating that he knew William Card and that he was there when he died, and he was there when he was buried.  He wrote all that detail out about this person that he knew in the late 1840’s who had passed away. He had actually written that he was living in his home at the time, and so both people, William Fuller Card and Benjamin Kingman Curtis, they’re both my ancestors.  But I would have never ever thought to search for Benjamin Curtis in the War of 1812 files because he hadn’t even been born yet. You know?

Fisher: Right. Why would you even look there?

Fran: In the Civil War.

Fisher: Isn’t that funny how that all works out, and then that can lead to other things. Now you can look in places and you can look for land records and start tying those things together.

Fran: Absolutely, yeah.

Fisher: It is just amazing the little pieces that come together. The Revolutionary records are pretty much all available now. Now we’ve got War of 1812.  We’ve come a long ways with the Civil War records, although I don’t think there’s ever an end to those [laughs].

Fran: I know [Laughs].

Fisher: You’re not going to start going through those are you?

Fran: Um... Who knows? [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, it’s great things that are happening right now in our country with digitization and so many new stories coming out.  Fran, thank you so much for your time! This is very exciting stuff and I’m glad you’ve been doing this. Is there a place where you are sharing any of your finds?

Fran: Oh yes, absolutely. The digitization project is actually sponsored by The Federation of Genealogical Society and since several others of the Genealogical organizations, Ancestry.com, Fold3, FamilySearch; they are supporting this effort to digitize these records.

They’ve never been microfilmed; they’ve never been so easily available to us. So just going online and being able to see something that normally in the past.  We would have had to have gone to Washington DC in order to see it in person or hire somebody to obtain a file and copy the file for us. So to have them actually be online is fantastic.  We have block articles of the Federation of Genealogical Society’s website for preserving pensions, and we also have a Facebook page and a Facebook group.  During the month of July on the Facebook group, we shared one story from one pension, every single day during the entire month of July.

Fisher: Wow fun stuff.

Fran: Yeah.

Fisher: And that’s up there still probably?

Fran: Oh absolutely, yes.

Fisher: Great. She’s Fran Jensen. She’s been researching the War of 1812 as these pension records have been released. Still another 35% to go before it’s all out there and all available.

Great stuff, Fran. Thanks for coming on the show!

Fran: You’re welcome. Thank you.

Fisher: And coming up next, I’ll be talking to Linda Emley. She’s a midwesterner who has dug up all kinds of information about a night that took place back in 1833 that’s been dubbed ‘The Night the Stars Fell,’ and our ancestors apparently went crazy that evening.

All kinds of incredible stories, that’s coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.                              

Segment 3 Episode 119

Host Scott Fisher with guest Linda Emley

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth. You know one of the ways to write a family history involves writing down your family’s dates and names and then noting historical events that were happening at the same time. Well many of these things are pretty well known, and many others are not. Like the event my next guest has written about that I’d never heard about.  From the Ray County Museum in Richmond, Missouri, its Linda Emley, she is the museum manager.  Hi Linda, how are you?

Linda: I’m good.

Fisher: I’ve got to tell you, I was excited about the article I found that you wrote for the Richmond, Missouri Daily News about, “The Night the Stars Fell.” And you hear about these things once in a while and we think about Mark Twain and the comet in 1910, and the one that came the year he was born.  But this one seemed to affect a lot of people and you did a great story on it. First of all, what got you interested in it?

Linda: Well, we have a genealogy library here at the museum, and a lady came in and we were working on her family history and she said, “I don’t know when it was but my great, great grandmother was born “The Night the Stars Fell.”  So a lady that was volunteering for me in the library, she goes, “Well that was 1833.” And we all kind of laughed.

Fisher: Huh. [Laughs]

Linda: So yeah, that’s one of those stories that are in all the old history books. So from there we started piecing it all together and found out what a magnificent event this was. Because it affected so many people. Everybody thought that the end of the world was here.

Fisher: Well, you know, you hear that a lot now, remember the comet that went through Russia a couple of years ago? That was pretty frightening.

Linda: Yeah. But this one happens every 33 years.

Fisher: Hmm.

Linda: But in 1833, it was perfect because the weather was calm, the moon was low and it was a perfect example you could see so many more than you could the rest of the time. So it was one of those once in a lifetime or probably once in forever, the most perfect one that ever happened.

Fisher: How much area was covered by this? I mean, I would assume where you were you’ve got some quotes in your story from people who lived in the Missouri area at the time, obviously they got a great look.  But what about the rest of the country, what do you know about that?

Linda: Well one of the stories in mind was the guy that was in Virginia, so it was all the way across the country. Elder Samuel Rogers, he was a circuit rider preacher and he was there.  So after research all the newspapers everywhere were talking about it. So, it was definitely seen around the world but in those days you didn’t hear so much about it. But you go back to old accounts and everybody, every family has a legend about it.

Fisher: Now it started November 13th 1833, it went a few days they called it part of the Leonid meteor shower, and so this comes every 33 years. Which means the next time we see it will be around 2031 or something like that right, always in November?

Linda: I don’t have the actual turn on it but there was a place that gave you how often it came through. So it’s actually 32.5

Fisher: 32.5… Oh, that changes everything now!

Linda: [Laughs]

Fisher: So we’re probably looking at 2029 or something like that. So tell us some of the stories of some of the people.  You mentioned the circuit preacher in Virginia, who else did you run across? 

Linda: Well locally here in Ray County, we had two families that were coming up the Missouri river from Kentucky, and Lexington, Missouri is on the other side of the river from us and they had to camp on the river that night.  So we had the Jabez Shotwell family and his seven children and then Edward Wall and his eleven children.  So they were all camping and waiting to cross over in the morning to come over to Ray County, and their family traditions as they passed it down.  Bruna McGuire, she was a little old lady that was a local historian. She said, “As they could not cross the Missouri River on a boat that day, they camped on the Flusher farm the night the stars fell.” One of the families seeing the sparks called out to the squire, “Stop stirring up the fire, you might set the tents on fire!”

Fisher: Oh wow! [Laughs]

Linda: So he said, “Come here and look, the world’s going to come to an end.” So they were talking about some of the slaves that were there, that they all fell on the ground they all thought the world was going to end.  It wasn’t until the sun came up the next morning that they all realized that life was going on. So it rained stars all night long.

Fisher: Now, was anything actually hitting the earth?

Linda: Well, they said some of them were like bigger than normal and then they would break up and two or three of them would come down and they’d go behind trees.  But they all felt like they were hitting the earth, and I’ve always collected rocks and I’ve always looked for meteorites that might have come from that event.

Fisher: Right.

Linda: I haven’t found any for sale but you know there had to be when that many had fallen.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Linda: There had to be meteorites that hit the ground.

Fisher: You would think so. But how would you know when they got here.

Linda: Yeah.

Fisher: So who else commented on this thing?

Linda: Well, there was a little slave girl, she was living in Tennessee, and there’s a great genealogy story out there about her descendant, Angela Walton.  She found a quilt that Harriet Powers put together that had about the Nights the Stars Fell, had a panel on an old fleece quilt.  So she said, “Oh, we heard the story about Amanda.” Then she finally found out how old Amanda was because they just gave a general idea that she was just a little girl. So they figured out that she was born around 1820’s.  It’s a wonderful story there because Amanda said that all the slave owners thought the world was ending.  So they came out and started telling all the people where they came from, who their families were, and where their mothers and fathers were. So they were all making-

Fisher: Repenting.

Linda: They were getting ready for judgement day, is what it said.

Fisher: Uh huh, and so they just figured it’s not much point in freeing them, but here’s who your parents are and where they went. Unbelievable. 

Linda: Yeah, and so the next morning all of them were happy because they finally found out more about their family history.  So that’s what it’s all about. Can you imagine somebody knowing your family story and then they start telling it to you.  It would just be like a miracle if somebody came along and offered all your information. I thought that was really....I would love to have somebody come up and tell me all of my history. 

Fisher: Very special.

Linda: Then we’ve got Parley P. Pratt. Parley Pratt actually spent time in Richmond. When we were having the Mormon Wars in Missouri, he was one of them that came to Richmond and was here with Joseph Smith.  So when I found the story about him, it touched close to me because of all the Mormon history we have here in Ray County.

Fisher: Hm hmm.

Linda: They were up in Jackson County and they were all being driven out of Jackson County and they were being pursued when all this happened.  It stopped the pursuit and it was like a miracle. So everybody felt like, you know, this was a sign from God that they were going to go on and life was going to be good here.

Fisher: So it actually saved some lives that night.

Linda:Yes, and it affected the whole future. My biggest thing was to find out why this one in 1833 was the biggest one that was ever out there.  So I went all the way back through history and researched one whole night. Then I found in 902 AD, and Plato was talking about a similar meteorite shower, so it had to be the same one.

Fisher: Right.

Linda: It kept coming back over and over and over. It was interesting because when it comes around every thirty three years, it’s always out there. It’s just amazing the way the earth revolves around everything. You think of it shooting through the sky and just keep going straight forever, but it actually is revolving around.  So the whole idea of how meteorites work is pretty amazing to me, and then I love the difference of a meteoroid just shooting through the air.  When it starts to burn up, it becomes a meteor when its shooting through the sky, and when it hits the earth it’s a meteorite.

Fisher: Wow!

Linda: So you think of one rock and the name changes and what it’s doing at the time. So being analytical as I am, I thought that was really different, the meteoroid and the meteorite. [Laughs].

Fisher: Absolutely, and to think that this goes on every thirty three years. I’m trying to remember, I mean I remember Hale Bopp, the comet that went through back, I want to say in  the 90’s, and it was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen in my lifetime. But I don’t remember a Leonid meteor shower quite like what’s being described here.

Linda: Yeah, and this week we’re in right now, there’s a meteorite shower going on.  I’ve reposted the story on my Facebook page for the museum, and everybody is like “Oh, I’ve been out watching it.”  So you know there’s so many different versions of it, but this is one of them that’s the most spectacular. If that thing is like Halley’s Comet, then everybody knows about  it.  But this is one of those that you don’t think about it until you start reading up on it and it’s just so very interesting. Think about 902 AD, and Plato, that’s the beginning of time.

Fisher: Wow!

Linda: So it all comes from the beginning of written history.

Fisher: She’s Linda Emley. She’s the museum manager at Ray County Museum in Richmond, Missouri.  She’s written an article about ‘The Night the Stars Fell’ You can find it linked on our website ExtremeGenes.com.  Linda, thanks so much for coming on!

Linda: Oh, you’re welcome. It’s always fun to share a little piece of history.

Fisher: Absolutely.  Coming up next, it’s Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com our Preservation Authority, answering your questions on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 119

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome to the preservation segment of our program, Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.  It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry, from TMCPlace.com. Tom, welcome back! Good to have you.

Tom: Good to be back.

Fisher: We're hearing a lot of people who are having trouble playing disks they recorded on one machine; they sent it to somebody who has the same machine and the disk won't play.  What's going on there?

Tom: Okay. You run into this a lot, it's an incompatibility problem. It's almost common sense, but sometimes we put on blinders when we're buying stuff.  You know, like I tell people when they come into our store. We had a couple last week that came and said, "Hey, I bought one of these VHS to DVD machines."  Or, "I bought of these little boxes that I plug my VHS into or my Hi8 and then plug it into my computer and I go and burn these disks and there's glitches in it." Or, "It looks fine, but then I send it off to my uncle, he pops it in his DVD player and it won't play." Okay, the reason for this is the quality of the parts. You know, the same reason Maserati costs more than a Ford Fiesta.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: You know? It's the parts that are in it that make the whole, so to speak.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: And so, what happens is, we've said this before; most computers are not made to turn stuff from analog to digital. That's not what they're designed for.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: They're designed to work with digital information that they're given and compact them. Move them around, do whatever. So, what happens, you have these little boxes that are usually like fifty bucks, and the reason it’s fifty bucks is, the components in them are pretty cheap.  And so, what happens, you plug your VHS into it, this little box is trying to turn all your analog stuff into digital and then put it in a format that the computer understands.  It’s like we have too much earwax in one ear and it's not hearing the conversation right. 

Fisher: Right

Tom: So, it’s getting your zeros and your ones all mixed up, and there's nothing worse in this world than getting your zeros and ones mixed up.

Fisher: Can't have that!

Tom: Oh, absolutely not!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: So, you're getting glitches and all kinds of stuff, and then once in a while, in some of your machines which we mentioned that is actually a VHS to DVD machine that it doesn't have the box in between, and you go and do stuff and you say, "Oh yeah! This looks beautiful! This is wonderful!"  And then you send that out to Aunt Margaret, she pops it in and says, "You sent me a blank disk. There's nothing on the disk. It says it can't read it. It says I need to put a different disk in."  And she sends it back to you, you pop it in and it plays fine. The reason why these machines that Costco or Sam's Club are a couple of hundred dollars is the same reason a Fiesta is as inexpensive as it is.  The components are really cheap. Those machines are made for you to record television or whatever you want to do or transfer your VHS tapes to DVD for you to use on that machine.

Fisher: Hmm.

Tom: So, it's basically almost proprietary information that's on that machine, and it’s so loosely written that this machine says, "Oh okay. This is stupid, but I know what it means, because it's my machine."

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, is there a way to copy that file, say, onto your desktop and then it's playable on something else?

Tom: Usually not. Sometimes if you have a higher end computer and you have the right software, sometimes you can take this DVD that you've made, which if you ever take a DVD, a quality DVD and put it in your computer, it will say it's a TS file.  If you look at it where it shows you the thumbnails, you go, there's a video TS and an audio TS. Why is that?  Really quickly; in the old copyright days, they made this so it’s harder to copy DVDs. So, you have a TS file for video and TS file for audio and what happens is, these kind of get corrupted and don't play together and if you separate them and try to put them back together, they'll never work.  But sometimes if you have a good program like Cinematize which we talk about constantly on the show, you can take the TS file and convert it to an MOV, and then take that MOV and make it into a QuickTime movie.  Put it on your Facebook page then email that to Aunt Margaret, if she's computer literate, and then she should be able to play it okay.

Fisher: Wow! I mean that sounds very complex.

Tom: Oh, it is.

Fisher: Challenging, isn't it?

Tom: Oh, it is. It’s very much just like if somebody speaks Spanish, they might be able to understand some people in Portuguese and different languages that are close.  But it’s not going to be really, really good enough to, you know, get by. And that's the problem you're going to run in with these machines, that's the reason they're so cheap.  I tell people, if I could go and buy equipment for $250, I wouldn't be spending $3500 on the machine because we have to guarantee our job.  When somebody brings us in a VHS it had better work when they get their DVD home.  And we're going to do a little bit more of incompatibility problems concerning disks, why they might not work for you as well, in the second segment.

Fisher: All right, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show!

Segment 5 Episode 119

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: We are back! Final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.  I am Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth, with Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority, answering a question about dealing with disks and compatibility.  And it sound like its quite complicated, Tom, and most of it has to do with the fact that most of the equipment that's available to us through Costco and other outlets is just not very good quality material.

Tom: Exactly! You know, you have to understand that when you're buying something, nine out of ten times, you get what you pay for and the thing is, things have changed so much, even with camcorders. I remember my first camera situation, when I used to shoot NFL films; it was like a $30,000 system.  You can go and buy for two or three thousand dollars, a Canon video camera now, that blows that thing away, and it’s a few thousand dollars.  So, there's real good quality equipment that's getting into people's hands, they have no idea what they're doing with it.  People are starting to be DIY people, Do It Yourself people; they need to be educated on this kind of stuff.  So, just because you buy a machine, don't just plug it in and start doing stuff. Read the manual!  As much as everybody hates to read the manual, read the manual, do research online, find out what you need to do. And a lot of times, somebody will go and spend two or three hundred dollars to buy a machine, thinking they're going to be able to do all this stuff, and they find out they can’t; now they wasted two or three hundred dollars.  They end up sending their tapes into us anyway, to have them transferred.  So, save yourself some of those problems, take it to us, take it to another good quality place and make sure that they get it right.  Now, going back to the incompatibility problem that can happen even with your disks.  People call me all the time and say, "Hey" and say, "I'm looking at these disks, there's plus Rs, there's minus Rs, there's DL, there's RWs. What do I buy? What should I go with?”

Fisher: Yeah. What does this mean?

Tom: Exactly! I always say Taiyo Yuden disks. If you forget what the name of it is, go to our website, TMCPlace.com and you'll see on there the Taiyo Yuden disk is the kind that you want to use. The thing is, plus Rs were the first disks to come out, so it’s kind of like experimental. And when they first came out, Sony and Apple were kind of not interested in carrying them. They wanted to wait till the dash R disk came out, which is a better disk, but they’re still selling plus Rs even though they don't need to anymore.  But about three to four years ago, Sony and Apple started making their Macs and their Sony machines compatible with the plus Rs just because there were so many out there.  But if you have the choice to pick between a plus R and a dash R disk, I would always go with a dash R.  I have so much better luck with dash R disks then I do plus Rs, and they're usually the same price anyway, it's just the format they've used. So, basically back to the cheap equipment, it’s cheaper to make a driver that reads or burns a plus R disk, than it is a dash R disk. I can always buy plus R stuff cheaper then I can dash R.  And just like the old VHS, BetaMax thing, "Oh, this is cheaper. This is what I'm going to go with."  Well, cheaper sometimes isn't the best way to go. So, try to find a machine that burns dash Rs, because it’s going to last longer and it’s the better way to go, and, I really don't like dual layer disks, because major incompatibility problems with them.  Because usually people say, "Oh, I've got this thing that's four hours long. I don't want to go to BlueRay, but I don't want to use two disks.”  Go ahead and do two disks, because it's going to be cheaper for you to duplicate two standard disks than one dual layer disk. Plus, a lot of machines have problems playing dual layer disks.  If it’s not professionally done, I stay away from duel layer disks. I taught clients how to use them all the time. If you're having a disk replicated, like a Disney DVD you'd buy in the store, so you'd buy like a thousand of them, they're stamping them out, then doing dual layer disks are fine, because they're all zeros and ones and they're .in the right place.  Everything is going to go well if you're using a dual layer disk that is basically a professional disk that's stamped out, not one that you burn at home.  Now, about the RW disks, I don't like rewriteable disks, because the same thing like we talked about a few weeks ago, about reusing a tape, they can get worse.  Same thing with disks, as it erases the zeros rewrite zeros, the dye actually gets weaker.  And so, the more times you write on it, the less compatible it's going to be and disks are so inexpensive, even the Taiyo Yuden disks, you can buy it at a decent price. Don't get RW disks; they're just going to cause you all kinds of problems.

Fisher: All right! Great stuff, Tom! Thanks for joining us.

Tom: Glad to have been here.

Fisher: I cannot believe we're wrapping up our final show of 2015. Thank you so much for all the support this past year! The growth has been phenomenal!  And we're looking forward to much more of the same, next year.  Thanks once again to Fran Jensen for coming on and talking to us about the War of 1812 Pension Project, Linda Emley from Richmond, Missouri, talking about “The Night the Stars Fell.” Talk to you next week. Thanks for joining us! And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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