Free Genealogy Resources


Ancestry.com has kept their promise and is continuing to work on restoring Rootsweb.com, which they now own. Recently, an updated Rootsweb Wiki has become available and it’s free!

Rootsweb is one of the original Wikis – places on the web that allows for collaboration in editing and structuring revolving around genealogy. Back in the day, say circa 1999, I had several trees posted there and I reached out for help via the Message Boards. I was rewarded with lots of suggestions, hints and occasionally, a tidbit of a genealogy gem that propelled me forward.

In its present form, links are provided to pages that provide important information about the records (Censuses, Immigration, Military, Vitals, Various Types), Societies, and Research (Town, County, State, African American, Jewish). It’s a wonderful place to gain an Ah ha moment and might just explain why you can’t find Great Grandpa Ed in the 1900 U.S. Federal census.

Two additional resources that are extremely valuable are The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy and Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources. Check those out if you aren’t familiar with their content.

Like it was in the past, you can contribute your input to make the Wiki even better.

I highly recommend taking a break from the summer heat and visiting the Rootsweb Wiki.

Another Duer Synchronicity


The universe has made some odd Duer connections for me lately and I just have to share!

For my new readers, I’ve been enamored with my Duer lines for the past several years after I received an out of the blue email from a Duer genealogist who informed me I had wrongly recorded the surname as Dure in my Ancestry.com tree. Edgar sent me an electronic version of his work which went back generations and within two weeks, he died. The good news was that he got the information out before he passed; the bad news was I could never ask him questions or collaborate on further research with him. The odd thing about that email was that it did not go through Ancestry but Edgar had somehow gotten my personal email. I never learned how he tracked me down. It also was received at a time I was extremely busy with family matters that strengthened the Duer connection.

The weirdest occurrence at the time I received the information was to discover one of my children had followed the same path as the Gateway ancestors. My child had spent a college term in Cambridge, England, decided to live in Grenada, West Indies upon graduation and then relocated to Morristown, New Jersey. Seriously, who follows that migration? Apparently, others in my family.

The Gateway ancestor, Thomas Duer, had married Mary Ann Hollingshead who had been born in the West Indies and with her father, relocated to Sussex County, New Jersey. Her parents were from Great Britain, as were Thomas’. My child was following the same immigration routes as her ancestors 250 years before. The problem was I only had 2 weeks to research as the dear child was once again relocating and I would have no reason (or place to stay for cheap) in Morristown. During breaks in the packing, I’d planned to visit the library which contained the oldest remaining records of the area. The night before my arrival, there was a gas explosion and the library was off limits. I was beyond disappointed. I did check out several other research facilities around the area but discovered nothing. (And yes, I did make a trip back later to visit the library when it reopened and I mined it for some small tidbits of info.)

Although researching in the Sussex County area had been disappointing I found another way to gather information. Edgar had not made his work public which I promptly did and that has opened the universe to many connections that have enabled me to put together the family’s dynamics over centuries. To me, it’s a very interesting family who never backed down from their beliefs which were way ahead of the society in which they lived. That character strength led to records, mainly court, which have been fascinating to read.

For the past 2 years I’ve been trying to connect Revolutionary War Patriot John Duer to his son, Thomas. Thomas died intestate before John so he wasn’t named in John’s will. Records from New Jersey are scant but last month I did find a document through FamilySearch.org that placed John, his wife, Susannah, and Thomas, all in the same place at the same time in Sussex. They had witnessed a will of a widow of the town’s physician. I learned that Susannah was illiterate, John had wonderful handwriting and Thomas, not so much. Thomas would have been 18, of legal age to testify in court that he had witnessed the widow’s wishes.

The record I wished to view was only available at a Family History Library so I trekked to one, accessed the microfilm, and promptly saved it to a thumb drive. I checked the thumb drive before I left the facility. All good. Until I got home and tried to open it. I can’t explain why but only half of the first page of the will was visible and it was the part that didn’t have the Duer signatures. The facility was now closed and wouldn’t reopen until the following week so I sought out another library location. My husband offered to go as it was quite a drive. We made it through a violent rain storm and I again found the record quickly (thanks to clearly writing the citation down) and triple checked that the document was saved intact. This time, I was successful. It seems I must work extra hard on this line to move forward!

I know from land records that the family relocated to what is now West Virginia/southern Ohio shortly after the will was written. I’m still trying to hunt down those deeds. I have found 2 clues to their existence but have been unable to locate the exact location. I decided to spend the summer working on that project.

I began by reading up on various companies that sold land during the late 18th century in the U.S. and track down where the land grant records were held. John is not listed in Bounty Land records held by the government so I decided to pursue private collections, such as the Ohio Company, whose records reside at Marietta College.

I got a beep on my phone that an email had come through so I checked as I was anticipating a response from Marietta College. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to have received 3 photos of the grave of Thomas. I had placed a request on Find-A-Grave and Billion Graves several years ago but no one picked it up, probably because the cemetery is so remote. The sender was a gentleman I had met once at a local to me genealogy meeting. In the twisted Duer way I discover information about the family, I had signed in and put my current area of research was Trumbull County. At the conclusion of the program about Cuban genealogy, the gentleman asked who I was. I waved and he said he wanted to have a word with me. After the meeting concluded he informed me that he was from Trumbull County, Ohio and he had never met anyone else in our area that was researching that location. We exchanged contact info and I asked him if he knew of anyone I could reach out to to obtain a picture of the gravestone. He said he would try his friend. I was not surprised when a week later he told me his friend had become ill and would not be able to visit the cemetery. So again, out of the blue, nearly two years after we met, the gentleman, also named Ed, remembered my request while visiting the area and surprised me with the photos.

I decided to share them with the only other person I had ever connected with who has Trumbull County roots – a former genealogy society member who still lives in that area but due to age, can no longer drive. I forwarded the pictures to her because when we first connected two years ago, she told me that Thomas had almost killed her. I was understandably confused since he died in 1829 and she was still alive but she went on to explain that she was doing a cemetery clean up and had tripped and fallen over his stone. She and other genealogy society members had righted and replaced it.

A few days went by and while I was outside speaking with the house painter I had hired, my cell rang. I excused myself as I saw the area code was from Trumbull County. Sure enough, it was the dear woman who had righted Thomas’ gravestone and we talked about my latest findings and where I was headed with the research. Hanging up, I explained to my painter how excited I was to receive the photos and to collaborate with someone so knowledgeable who lived in the area I was researching. The painter, who had gone to high school with one of my children, asked where I was researching. When I told him he laughed and informed me that his family had first emigrated from Greece to Trumbull County and he had spent the last 10 years living in the area as he still has family there who are bridge painters.

I was speechless. The universe was clearly making connections and the discovery was in my own backyard. Very weird! Even stranger, I had planned to visit Cuba for the first time 3 days later. I had only attended the local genealogy meeting where I met Ed because I wanted information in preparation for a trip to Cuba. We had had a tropical storm the previous day of that meeting and I debated whether I should drive across bridges to get there as the wind was still strong. At the end, the genealogy bug won and I made the trip. I’m so glad I did!

Patience is a virtue I have trouble possessing. Maybe that’s the lesson the universe is trying to teach me. The Duer seeds were planted a few years ago and the universe, in its own time, are maturing them and now I’m reaping the fruits. I can’t wait for the final harvest – that missing document that clearly shows that Thomas is the son of John. People have told me repeatedly I won’t find it but I believe it’s out there somewhere. The search continues.

Another Family Story Shattered!


You know the feeling when you discover a long held belief isn’t what you thought?! Shocked, Saddened, Denying it, Attempting to disprove the new information – yep, those stages of grief. But learning the truth is important and I know it can change my genealogy sleuthing to find what I really need to get a better understanding of the family.

I’ve written previously about one of my husband’s great grandmothers, Mary “Mollie” O’Brien, who with her purported half sibling, ventured to New York City during the height of the Potato Famine from Ireland.

Cousins and I have surmised that Mollie and her sister must have been orphaned as Irish church and civil records show no trace of her parents after her Baptism in Limerick. This would explain why she set out for a new life in a new land.

Mollie worked as a maid in New York City and it was there she met Scotts immigrant, John Cook. After a brief courtship, the couple “eloped” via Newark, New Jersey where they had a quickie wedding and then took the train to Chicago where they lived out their life. Now “elope” is another fable that seems plausible but hasn’t been proven. Mary and John’s marriage record was found at a Roman Catholic Church in Newark that was close to the train station. The maid of honor and best man seem to be parishioners and not family or friends of the couple. Mollie was not honest about her age, adding a few years to make the union legal.

According to family tales, John was Protestant but agreed to marry Mollie in a Catholic church with the stipulation that any boys they had would be raised Protestant and the girls, Catholic. I always thought that was so forward thinking for the mid-1800’s. Love overcoming long held beliefs and the ability to compromise said a lot about their relationship. What a couple! Except, this story wasn’t true.

I first heard the tale from my father-in-law who explained to me why he was raised Protestant. His father, Andrew, was supposedly taken to church by his father, John, as part of this deal. I then met a descendant of William, Andrew’s brother, and she had heard the same tale. Using social media, we reconnected with a long lost cousin of Mary, the only girl the couple had and not surprising, that line had all remained Roman Catholic. So this story seemed true, except it wasn’t.

Recently, FindMyPast.com released Chicago, Illinois Roman Catholic church records. I initially went on to find my relatives – my mom and great aunt’s Baptism certificate and my grandparents’ marriage record. I still haven’t found the marriage and I had terrible difficulty locating my mom’s document. I have a copy so I knew it existed; I knew when and where it had been made but the search function did not allow me to search by the known church, even though it is supposed to work.

I began to eliminate first names in the search and kept the search vague – just the last name and not even the complete name. The surname was Koss but when the family emigrated, the spelling had been Kos so I used just that. The search engine then gave me all the Kos’ and Koss’ to explore further. Lo and behold, there was my mother as Dorothea and not Dorothy. I hadn’t thought that the Latin word would have been used in the database as the hard copy record clearly recorded Dorothy. (Side note: I’m now wondering what my real baptismal record shows as I recall my mom telling me that there was some discussion with the local priest that my name did not have a Latin translation and that was a problem. I really need to find out what the church decided to call me! Perhaps my mom always knew she had been recorded as Dorothea but this was the first time I learned of it.)

But back to Mollie…I decided to find the Baptism record for Mollie and John’s daughter, Mary, and based on my new found knowledge, entered only Cook. There were many of them but using the known birth year I thought I’d find Mary quickly. Nope, instead I found Andrew and William. So the boys had been Baptized Catholic after all. Interestingly, William’s name was not Latinized to Gulielmus nor was Andrew’s as Andreas. When I finally found what I think was Mary’s, it wasn’t either, but her parents first names were and I’m not sure I have the correct record as their last names are off. No one else seems to have Latinized surnames so I’m not understanding what’s up with this record.

To be honest, these records were a hot mess. My Great Aunt Barbara’s had several errors that were corrected by cross outs. First, my great grandfather’s name was entered as the infant and then corrected; my great grandmother’s name was crossed out then added. Someone wrote sideways “Were married” and my great grandmother’s maiden name, Grdenich, was also added sideways in pencil in what appears to be a different handwriting.

After several days I still can’t find my grandparent’s marriage and I have the pictures so I know it happened.

But once again, back to Mollie…I guess it is possible that the boys attended another church and Mollie just took daughter, Mary, with her to mass. My father-in-law never told me what particular denomination his father attended. I’m not convinced the boys ever went to any church as John Cook, Mollie’s husband, happens to be buried in the Catholic cemetery next to her. John was originally entombed in nondenominational Calvary Cemetery but after Mary’s death, the family moved him to Catholic Mount Carmel. So I have no idea if he was approving or opposed to the change. His sons didn’t seem to mind. Daughter Mary is in the same plot with her Catholic husband.

I looked for Roman Catholic marriage records for all 3 children but like with my grandmother, haven’t found them yet. I also haven’t found anyone’s Confirmation record. The search continues.

Hunting Down a Harbaugh


I was catching up on my reading last week when I came across an article in the May 2018 Smithsonian magazine mentioning a George Harbaugh, an oil magnate from Cleveland who was involved in an automobile accident with a streetcar in 1913. This led to an engineer, James Hoge, inventing traffic lights.

Now when you do genealogy for awhile and you’re reading for pleasure, surnames are certain to pop up from time to time and you just lose the drift of the story to think, “How is that person related to me?” or “Do I have that individual in my tree?” I have entered every Harbaugh that I’m aware of in my Main Tree on Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com so I decided to try to hunt down this George Harbaugh and attach the citation.

I thought this would be a quickie find but it took a few minutes longer than I anticipated. My first problem was that I have 132 George Harbaughs in my tree. I tried to eliminate by location and death dates but it was still a lot to go through.

Seeking a shortcut, I went to the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America site in an attempt to find the newspaper article the story mentioned. Couldn’t find it. And of course, they didn’t reference it in the magazine.

I could have checked other newspaper sites but I suspected the article didn’t have much more information I could use to identify George so I simply googled “George Harbaugh” oil Cleveland. Interesting, what came up was a pdf from the Cleveland Landmarks Commission of all of the demolished homes. Sure enough, there were 4 residences for Harbaughs and that gave me a clue. The first was for a A. G. Harbaugh. The home had been built in 1888 at 2022 E 89th Street. I guessed that the “G” might have been George and I had been looking for a first name George and not a middle name of George. George is a favored name with the Harbaughs and I should have remembered that many of them use their middle name as their first name. I have no idea why they do this. The family isn’t German, however, they did live among the Pennsylvania Germans for many years and maybe that’s where it started.

The 2nd Harbaugh on the pdf was George Harbaugh and his home had been built in 1898 at 2021 Cornell Road.

The 3rd Harbaugh was entered as Harbaugh Residence. Built in 1903, it was located at 11402 Bellflower.

The 4th residence was of most interest; it belonged to Charles Harbaugh who built it in 1904 at Euclid near Cornell.

I knew I was on to something as Euclid was the street where the accident occurred. I might be able to find a connection between Charles, the mystery George and A. G. Maybe that dinner party had been at Charles’ home!

Back to my list of people in my tree, I decided to check out A. G. first. Aaron George Harbaugh (1845-1897) was born in Ohio and died in Cleveland. He had 1 daughter, Malinda, and 3 sons, George Edward, Charles Reiber and Frederick. My mystery George was George Edward.

Born in Cleveland in 1871, he eventually moved to San Diego, California where he died in 1940. Which is why I didn’t quickly find him. I erroneously thought he would have remained in Ohio.

This fun little exercise reminded me of the importance of not making assumptions; I had wrongly excluded George Edward based on his death location.

It also reminded me of how impatient I often am waiting at traffic lights. I’ve often joked my favorite country in the world is Belize because UnbBelizably, they only use 3 of their 7 traffic lights and I’ve never had to wait at any of them.

So the next time you’re waiting for that light to change, think of my husband’s 5th cousin, 3 times removed. Because of George Edward Harbaugh’s lack of paying attention, the world’s a little safer (and slower) today.

Be Mindful of Address Changes


On the plane returning home from New Mexico, I sat next to a woman who had traced her paternal grandfather’s side back to the 1200’s in a Spanish village thanks to the church records and her ability to decipher old handwriting. She mentioned that she had found several deeds belonging to her great grandparents but could not locate the residences as the numbering system had changed in the past 100 years. Lucky for her, she met an elderly man who remembered the family and understood the new address system so she was able to identify where her grandfather and great grandfather were born. Taking into account address changes is an important point to remember as what you’re looking at might not be what you think it was.

There are two websites available to help with situations like this. Whatwasthere.com is a site using Google Street View with uploaded photos of what the area looked like from previous time periods. You can assist this project by uploading old photos you may have that show the area in the past.

Historypin.com is another site where you can place a pin on a Google map and upload a photo of what the area formerly looked like. Your old homestead just might be waiting for you to discover!

Deciphering Directions and Finding Places from the Past


Last week when I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico and had a dickens of a time locating the Oldest House that I blogged about on Tuesday. According to the map and online guides, the Oldest House was said to be NEXT TO the Church. All I saw next to the Church was a pizza restaurant.

The church was locked so I tried to follow the sign on the government building next door that said “Visitor Info.” The sign had an arrow directing visitors to enter on the east or south entrance. I walked down the street in the direction the sign had pointed. There was no entrance on the street side so I suppose it was the north or west side. I turned at the intersection and again saw no entrance. Okay, I was certain to find the way in when I reached the back. I walked the entire length of the back side and still found no entrance. Turning left, I finally located the door. So what the sign meant was that there was one entrance and it was on the south east side.

I asked the attendant for directions to the Oldest Home. She said, “It’s BETWEEN the church and the restaurant.” I mentioned that a street was between the restaurant and the church. She insisted the home was BETWEEN and told me to look again.

I walked back to the church and again saw the restaurant in front of me as the church sits back from the street. I turned right to walk down the street BETWEEN the restaurant and the church and lo and behold, there was the Oldest House.

If I was to describe where the house was located, I would say it was BEHIND the restaurant and ACROSS the street from the church. This reminds me how careful we must be when we’re reading old deeds.

My people are famous for recording deeds noting boundaries of big rocks and tree stumps. I now wonder how many noted BETWEEN when I would have considered it BEHIND or south and east as southeast?

A Little Bit of Truth in All of Those Passed Down Stories


I love family legends even if they are tall tales. Last week I trekked to New Mexico, where I have no family ties, and learned of a passed down legend that was quite interesting. While visiting the Oldest House in Santa Fe, I heard the story of two elderly Native Americans who once lived in the dwelling. Supposedly, they had made a love potion for a Spanish soldier, Juan Espinoza, and when it didn’t give him the results he had wanted as his love had married another, he returned to seek his money back. An argument ensued, he fell and was beheaded. The ancient wooden casket in the home supposedly contains his body; over the years a plaster cast was enclosed to represent his missing head.

The next evening, on a ghost tour, the guide told his version of the story. He believed the women were sisters and these witches had been threatened by the soldier. As the soldier attacked one of the women, the other took out a saber and sliced off his head. The women then dragged his body outside and left it. No one knows where the head went. The soldier’s ghost reportedly roams looking for his head. The sister’s punishment was to keep the coffin in their home.

Two days later I was in Taos at the Pueblo village and my tour guide there told the same tale with a slightly different twist. The two women were not elderly and were local healers specializing in matchmaking. The soldier was inpatient and violent when his request for a wife wasn’t fulfilled quickly. The townspeople misunderstood the situation; it was clearly self defense on the part of the sisters.

When I returned home I looked online and found many other versions of the tale. Some say Juan was shot in the leg by the women who later cut his head off. Others say he fell on his saber and cut his own head off.

And like the various versions, there’s no agreement on when the death occurred. According to the Taos guide, the event happened before the Pueblo Revolt of1680. Information at the house states that there was a dwelling on the premises for at least 800 years. The website states that there is no deed record but analysis of lumber used in the building construction was from 1740-1767.

Since none of us were there we will never know what really happened. Unfortunately, no records remain of the event so the passed down stories are the closest we’ll ever get.

If you have a tall tale passed down in your family, get as many versions as you can and record them . Then, search historical records to narrow down the “facts.” For example, it is most unlikely that the event in Santa Fe occurred before 1692. Why? The house was used during the Pueblo Revolt in 1680 to fire upon the Oldest Church across the street. The area was resettled after 1692. It would be unlikely that the Native Americans residing in the Santa Fe between 1680-1692 would leave the coffin in the home; that punishment by the Spanish would have been rid of quickly after they succeeded in retaking their ancestral land. This helps us narrow the story to between 1692-1836 when the area parted from Mexico. The house was remodeled many times over the years so there is no telling if the event occurred prior to the new beams being installed in the mid 18th century or after. I personally think the coffin was added by later owners who wanted an interesting tourist attraction. I find it hard to believe that the coffin would remain in the home after the Native American women’s death.

Next time I’ll blog about other genealogical gems I uncovered on my trip.

Memorial Day – Record Preservation


Memorial Day Weekend is here in the States! As many reflect on their deceased loved ones I’m pondering those loved ones’ records. Why? In my area, we’re under the first Tropical Storm warning of the year (and Hurricane Season doesn’t begin until June 1st) and a flood watch.

Records loss happens to all of us. That misplaced paper receipt to prove the warranty is still valid, the disappearing paper estimate that the roofer left or the W2 that you never received in the mail from a former company is frustrating. We’re fortunate that today there’s technology to help us with work arounds to obtain the missing document. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with records of past generations.

You’re probably tired of hearing the importance of preserving your acquired ancestral documents. Backing up my data is as fun as going to the dentist. Although I love my dentist and his staff, I don’t love the dental experience. I know that it’s important to keep my teeth and gums healthy so I continue to make and keep my appointments. So why do I have such a hard time with keeping my genealogical records updated and safe?

If you’re like me, scanning and saving those documents are just not as fun as hunting down the record. I have to admit that I have, on more than several occasions, had to refind a document that I needed and that definitely wasn’t fun. I thought, if I got into a routine like I do with brushing, flossing, and gargling, I’d be set with my record saves. I just realized that my genealogical process still needs refinement as I tried to locate a death certificate I could have swore I had placed in the Cloud and it just isn’t there.

I want my records to be readily available when I need them. Standardizing my File Name system helps, as does the lovely Search function on Dropbox and OneDrive. Yes, I use both. Paranoia may destroy ya but I believe putting my tree in one and my records in another protects the information in case one of the company’s system fails. (I used to use CDs, DVDs and thumb drives but I’ve abandoned those for Clouds since my latest technology doesn’t have those functions available).

Now my plan is all good until the weather takes a turn for the worse like today. Late last summer, I had no electricity for several days. Granted, accessing my genealogy was not my priority at that time, but when the power goes out and there isn’t impending danger, I still want to continue with my genealogical work. I’m thinking that I should be making a hard copy of online finds so I can work off the computer in times like those. I also need to recheck my existing hard copies and make sure that I’ve scanned and saved every document so if disaster strikes, when life returns to normal I can pick up where I left off. To insure I do this, I selected a line a month to check on. I’ve penciled a day on the calendar to make it official and hopefully, I’ll not cancel that appointment.

Stories from Sadness

Yesterday I attended a funeral for a woman I knew well but had never met. Her daughter was a former Client and I had done much research on the deceased’s grandmother. I’ve never attended a Client’s family member’s funeral before and it was an interesting experience. The Minister spoke about the importance of connections and he was so right in ways he didn’t even know!

I should have thought of this years ago but somehow this escaped me until now. In grief, a lot of memories are evoked that can explain or provide hints to better understanding of the individual and their place in the family. During the Reflection phase of the memorial service, I was struck by a piece of info that the Client had never previously shared with me regarding the family residence years ago. Since this was between census years in a rental in a place that didn’t have a City Directory, I would have been hard pressed to find where they were living and why. It had been a troubling time, based on what I heard yesterday, and that would explain why the Client never shared it while I was working on the lines, however, it readily connected the family to another family 2 generations previously that I knew was living on that same block.

Many of the reflections confirmed other stories I had heard; that the deceased had an uncanny ability to know everyone’s date of birth and address for this large extended family. I readily agree. When I was in the early stages of the research, I met to share some of the findings and the Client was certain I had made an error. After checking with the very knowledgeable family member, my data was confirmed.

Her passing yesterday is a loss to the family in many ways; from a genealogical perspective, the stories she did not pass on might never be learned. One of the grandchildren recorded the service thus preserving the recollections of some of the family members.

Although emotions are raw during a funeral, important genealogical information is decimated. If you are distraught, your spouse or friend might be helpful at this time to unemotionally record the information that can assist you later. I plan on meeting with the Client for lunch in the next few months to share the information that I learned. I think she’ll appreciate it and gain a better understanding of the past.

To Your Health – Genealogywise!


I’ve blogged previously about by attempt to analyze my ancestor’s health records to make lifestyle choices to keep me well (See Using Your Genealogical Info to Make You Healthy). This past week, MyHeritage.com has added a new feature that you can use to include your family’s medical history. It is purportedly private and secure, allowing you to keep all of the health records of the living and deceased in one place so you can download and print a checklist of the entered information to share with your physician.

To begin, you must first click that you have read the most lengthy Terms and Conditions I’ve ever seen. The next page asks you if your siblings, parents, aunts/uncles and grandparents had any of 10 medical conditions, such as stroke, heart and various cancers. For any condition selected, possible names from your tree are then provided for you to mark. Warning: If you have a big family in the past 3 generations, you’re going to have a lot of clicking to do! I clicked yes for heart attack as one of my husband’s relatives had that condition. To identify who had the heart attack, the program listed my husband, his siblings, aunts/uncles and grandparents for a total of 18 people. Only one of them had ever had a heart attack but the program will not allow you to move forward unless you click no for all of those who never had one. Of the 4 health conditions I selected, only 3 individuals needed a yes so this process was slow and could have been really lengthy if there had been additional medical conditions selected.

Next you can add allergies, other health conditions to include the age at onset, and other characteristics, such as height, weight and eye color. I found it interesting that height is entered in inches – I would have expected centimeters.

One of the options is hair color. In our family, that changes with age so I wasn’t sure if I should put blonde (from someone’s youth) or brown (in adulthood).

Sleep, smoking and exercise can also be added. No option existed for someone who never smoked but was raised in a household of smokers which I think is important.

Once you’ve entered the info, various icons appear under the individual that had been selected. This way, you can readily see patterns, if any, for a family condition.

Errors can be corrected quickly. I wrongly entered a stroke for my father-in-law. Simply click on the icon, a panel appears with the conditions identified. Clicking on the 3 dots (…) a choice to delete appears to remove the mistake.

Once you’re done adding the information for all of your relatives, you can click on the LIST button on the upper right ribbon to obtain the names of the individuals that had conditions entered. Besides the individual’s name and medical condition, birth, death, onset age and relationship is included.

The problem I see is that many of the initial conditions listed are due to lifestyle. I’m not sure it is helpful to your physician to know that a grandparent had diabetes if no one else in the family did and you follow a good diet and exercise regime.

Under the Nutrition category, there are several choices – omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, paleo and other – but those options alone do not tell a complete picture of nutrition. (I’m thinking about one of my former roommates who was a vegetarian. Her diet consisted of skipping breakfast, potato chips for a late morning snack, peanut butter and jelly for lunch, pretzels for an afternoon snack and a salad saturated in a mayo based dressing for dinner.)

A bigger concern I have is with entering misinformation. Unless the medical condition was definitely known, including wrong information could be a serious problem. Like with all genealogy, records should be consulted before including data going by memory alone.

I asked two medical providers in my family what they thought of the program. One is a physician and the other works as a chemical engineer for a medical lab. Both laughed and said this was a serious waste of time. Most of the medical conditions listed are due to lifestyle. Additionally, living conditions of someone 75 years ago will not be the same as our lives today and that greatly impacts health.

They both recommended, if there is a pattern of a medical condition in a family, a consultation with a geneticist would be more beneficial than taking the time to input the data on MyHeritage and presenting a list to your health care provider. An added caution here is not to think that the DNA test you purchased for genealogy purposes is going to provide the specialists with the information they need. Geneticists would provide a DNA test that is analyzed far differently than what is given by a genealogy company. If you have concerns about your family’s health, the new MyHeritage program is not going to be beneficial to your medical provider.