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What's New

Date of Last GEDCOM Import: 23 Oct 2023 00:52:33

Our big launch of the genealogy site on was 1 September 2020 (our pandemic project), making use of the family tree we have been putting together for well over 20 years. Since the launch, we've added several bells and whistles. For example, one useful addition is a better "relationship finder" to determine the varous ways how two people are related to one another. To use it, go to the Individual (detailed) view of the page of one of the persons, click on the "Relationship" tab, fill in the name of the second person (the default is Jeff Vitter), and click the Calculate button. Or for a very fast but less detailed answer, click on the "Relationship" row.

Place names are standardized (well over 18K distinct places!), and we have included the GPS coordinates for each and every place! So if you go to the Individual view of someone's page, you'll see all the various places of events in that person's life (such as birth, baptism, marriage, death, etc.) mapped onto a Google map display. If you find any event places that do not display their location, please contact us so we can add the GPS coordinates.

The main addition to our website has been several "histories" — the name we use for our short stories about various relatives and events. We now have almost three dozen histories. You can find them on the main page and the great majority of them on the Relativity Research page.

The histories are ongoing — constantly being updated as we find new discoveries. For example:

  • Sharon's research in August 2021 uncovered that Jeff is a direct descendant of Charlemagne (748 AD–814 AD): his 39th great grandson! You can see the lineage by clicking on a link in the history of Charlemagne that appears on the home page. It turns out that Charlemagne likely has billions of direct descendants living today besides Jeff, but at least we know the names of those in Jeff's lineage! Sharon may have found a direct connection from herself to Charlemagne as well; work is ongoing. In the Charlemagne history (or in the Find menu at the top of this page), you will also find links to many kings and queens as well as cannonized saints and bishops in our family tree — many of them direct ancestors! So pardon our frequent use of the "royal we" on this website ;-)
  • Sharon wrote a touching memoir of her mom in the history entitled In Memory of Sharon's Mom Ginny on her 91st Birthday.

  • During September–October 2022 we spent a wonderful four weeks in France and got to visit several relatives and genealogical sites. We added several photos and videos to the relevant histories listed below:

    • We visited Clerval, France in the Doubs department of France, near Switzerland, which was the home of the Vitter family when they emigrated to New Orleans in 1843. Local historial Gérard Blanc and his associate Claude gave us a wonderfully detailed tour of the town and sites where the Vitters lived. You can read about it in The Aha! Moment That Led to This Website. With the help of some other French genealogists, we investigated several puzzles about Jeff's paternal lineage in that same area of France, leading to his 12th great grandfather Simonin, involving his descendancy from 9th great grandparents Vandelin Simonin dit le Vieux et le Sénior de Randevillers (1593–1666) and Jeanne Clerc (1615–1650), as well as from 7th great grandparents Pierre Thouret (1665–1750) and Marguerite Simonin (1670–1751). Research is ongoing.
    • We have extended our information considerably about Jeff's relatives on his paternal grandmother's side in the history Artigues Family History and Open Questions by going through the online archives back to the early 1600s in Salies-du-Salat and other towns in the Haute-Garonne and Hautes-Pyrénées departments of SW France. (If you thought Jeff's handwriting was bad, you should see the baptism, marriage, and burial records from 400 years ago!) We even saved the tombs of Jeff's 2nd great grandparents Michel and Elisabeth (née Pujol) Artigues and their son Baptiste and Baptiste's wife Marie-Josèphe (née Soubiran) and son Vincent. (The Pujol line is Jeff's connection to Charlemagne!) Jeff and his sister Donna put together a detailed dossier justifying why the tombs should not be relaimed to make room for new graves, and the request was approved in record time. There are multiple branches of Artigues not yet connected; if and how they are related are yet to be determined.
    • We also learned a lot more about Jeff's mom's side of the family, especially around Uzan in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department of southwest France. The history "Exploring Mimi's Ancestors near the Pyrénées of Southwest France" details the new findings and includes several photos of various Vitter trips during the generations to southwest France. We visited the farm Larneilh of Jeff's mom's maternal grandfather Jean Ferran dit Larneilh and saw the monument in Uzan that our family helped fund in 1921 to commemorate those from Uzan who died fighting in WW I, which include one of Jeff's 1st cousins 2x removed.

  • On Sharon Vitter's paternal side, we are getting exciting new info about her ancestors from DNA information. In particular, there's lots of new Y-DNA analysis that has corrected some former misconceptions about ancestry. Sharon's Kauffman ancestry as recorded in the history Mennonite Beginnings seems to be correct. However, another branch headed by Michael Kauffman (1675–1718), which was first thought to be connected to Sharon's line of Kauffmans, is actually a totally separate line not related via male-male links, although possibly the two Kauffman lines could be related through intermarriage during earlier generations in Switzerland or the Rhineland-Palatinate. We will continue to upate the histories about her Weaver ancestors and Kauffman ancestors, who immigrated to the USA from Switzerland and the Rhineland-Palatinate, as we get more information. The latter history gives an annotated version of Charles Fahs Kauffman's epic 775-page (plus preface) compilation from 1940 of the Kauffman family, plus a coverage of the new Y-DNA results. On the Weaver side, Sharon's brother Don Weaver recently got a Y-DNA test, which is logged on this website and, so we may find some new information soon.

Sharon has been published, along with her photo, on page 91 of the April 2021 issue of Mennonite Family History. It's a letter about the Weaver family, which immigrated to Pennsylvania from Switzerland in 1767.

We added lot of new information and several new people into the family tree:

  • Lots of info from the Baldwin family, thanks to a compendium of the descendants of Lawrence and Julia Lise (née Freret) Baldwin. We also have a rich history of Baldwin Wood, the superintendent of the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board and renowned inventor of the centrifuge and screw pumps used to keep New Orleans high and dry. His inventions are still used in New Orleans and all around the world. We wonder if Jeff's great aunt Rose "Tawo" Ferran knew him, given how much time she spent battling the S&WB! ;-) (That's a long story for another time.)
  • A line of relatives descending from Jahin Bidal (born circa 1500) in the Doubs, Franche-Comté region of France, which includes Jeff's 3rd great grandmother Virginie Oval, wife of Pierre Vitter. Pierre and Virginie emigrated with their family in 1843 to New Orleans.
  • Sharon added all the folks included in the family history of Christian Richter Sr. family of Walburg, Texas. Christian Richter was sister-in-law Felicia Weaver's 2nd great grandfather.
  • We added three major genealogy documents on the Nicolay family, totalling 434 pages plus a 20-page index, authored by Sharon's 1st cousin 2x removed Kay Frances Sellers, who passed away in 2008. There are close to 7,000 citations to these documents in the family tree. Sharon's maternal great grandmother was Elva Irene Nicolay. The Nicolay family includes the notable (John) George Nicolay, who was Presient Abraham Lincoln's secretary and biographer, as well as U.S. Counsul to France and Marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court. George Nicolay's history is highlighted on the relativity research page.
  • We added the major 153-page compendium (plus preface) on the Burtchaell family compiled by the late Fr. James Tunstead Burtchaell, with close to 2,800 citations sprinkled throughout the family tree.

Other recent additions to

  • A "name cloud" of surnames has been added to the home page. If you click on any of the surnames, you'll get a listing of all the individuals in the family tree with that surname. For females, we use their maiden name as the surname.
  • Also on the home page, we added DNA information on ethnicity for the two webpage co-hosts Jeff & Sharon Vitter. DNA analysis is getting more sophisticated and can even shed light on which parts are inherited from each parent.
  • You can view some specific genealogy charts of ancestors and descendants by generation on the Genealogy Charts page. On that page, for example, you can find the ancestor charts for co-hosts Jeff Vitter and Sharon Vitter, as well as their brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. Some of the charts are hundreds of pages long. Such charts can also be created for any person in the tree by going to the page of that individual and setting the right options: For descendant charts, click on the tabs for "Descendants" and "Register" and then set the number of generations to 50 and on the right side click on "More Detail." For ancestor charts, click on the tabs for "Ancestors" and "Ahnentafel" and then set the number of generations to 50 and on the right side click on "More Detail."
  • On the Cemeteries page, you can find all the cemeteries and burial places listed in our family tree. Using it on a smartphone is a smart way to visit cemeteries and see the tombs and gravestones of relatives. There's also a complementary Headstones page with all our photos of tombs and headstones.
  • We added language capabilities for six other languages besides English: Chinese, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, and Spanish. They allow you to see most of the text on the main page in translated form, and all the family tree forms and instructions are language-friendly. You can choose your preferred language in the menus at the top and bottom of the pages.
  • Jeff's mom's fabulous cookbook, Thursday Night Cookin': Mimi's Recipes for a Happy Home, is now available online and fully searchable. It's our favorite!

Stay tuned for some upcoming new histories. Here are two being planned:

  • The Mystic Krewe of Atlantis I and II, which rolled from 4100 Vincennes Place around the neighborhood in uptown New Orleans — complete with floats, krewe doubloons, a band, and a broadcast parade progress.
  • A story about Nazi abuse survivor Ingeborg Mayer and her family, many of whom settled in Cleveland in the Mississippi Delta, which developed a thriving Jewish community. Jeff's dad is related to the Tinney family, who married into the Friedman/Reichenberg/Mayer family of Würzburg, Germany. We will include the gripping oral history interview (on video) that Inge Mayer gave about her harrowing experiences during the Third Reich.

And please sign our guest book. We always look forward to hear from you!

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