Autumn Genealogy Project Idea

Example From My Fall Project

This past week, I began to identify all my Gateway Ancestors – those are the folks who were the first to come to the U.S. In some cases, they don’t go back very far. For example, my maternal grandmother came with her mother and brother in 1912 to join her husband who had come earlier. Others came in the 1800’s, like my Leiningers and Kuhns, or the 1700’s, like my Landfairs and Hollingsheads, and some in the 1600’s, my Duers.

I decided to make a quick write up for each Gateway from their emigration to my parents. I wanted to tackle the Duers first because, well, I’m just enamored with them for one and two, they’ve been here for a long time so I figure if I start with the longest descents the rest will go quicker.

I came up with this idea after watching a National Genealogical Society (NGS) video from the May conference. I always intended to write about these ancestors but perhaps like you, never made the time or the effort to get that project done. I think the way that I’m proceeding makes it easier to get going on it. Here’s my plan:

  1. Identify who you’d like to write about. In my case, it was my Gateways.
  2. Go to wherever you keep your records for that individual and review them. I keep everything in several places – my personal tree on my desktop, on Ancestry.com and at MyHeritage.com. I also backup periodically to Dropbox and an external hard drive. Putting them in several places means I can gain access easily wherever I am, such as my home office, or out and about on my laptop or cell.
  3. Open up a Word doc. Give your work a title and add your name as the author. In the footer, add page numbers. I always use “Page 1 of 10” or whatever number where I’ve ended because families tend to pass around documents and not always copy all of the pages. This way, the receiver will know they obtained the complete work. I also included an asterisk in the title with an explanation in the footer noting the descendancy will be a direct line to my parents. I did this because most of them had large numbers of children and I really want to only focus on my line for this project. That’s not to say it isn’t important to research the siblings because it definitely is a must do but for this project, not so much. I also include my email address in the footer so people that discover this can contact me. I plan on posting it on my Gateway’s Gallery on Ancestry and under Biography on MyHeritage. I’m doing that so other researchers can find it easily as it will show up in the Search function on both sites.
  4. I selected using the NGS Quarterly style to write. I have no intention of ever submitting it to that organization for publication but I chose that style for several reasons. It’s formulaic (and boring, yes, but I’m not writing fiction nor am I trying to paint a picture of the ancestor’s life). Formulaic is good because it will be redundant writing, a sort of fill-in-the-blanks of the person’s life. I want that so I can analyze the information that I have acquired and identify any holes that I might have. I discovered immediately about Thomas that I had a “birth” date of 29 Sep 1663. It wasn’t a birthdate; it was the christening date. Does that matter? Yes, because I don’t know if he was christened on the day he was born, shortly after or as an adult. Given his death date, I can determine he was christened in his youth but not necessarily on his birthday. I also realized I never looked at his original christening record that is available on FindMyPast.org. Instead, I had relied on Ancestry’s Family Data Collection – Births. That’s a database of transcriptions first published in 2001. I needed to go back and find the original film to verify the information recorded was correct. It would be lovely to be able to go to Great Britain and view the original document but that’s not going to be happening anytime soon so I’ll have to do the best I can with the image. Another plus of the Quarterly style is that it will allow me to quickly determine how many people are in the line. With other styles, that information is not readily available. This style also provides more information about all of the couple’s children.
  5. I highly recommend using Numbering Your Genealogy by Curran, Crane, and Wray if you’d like to explore more methods. It’s available through NGS and can be downloaded or printed so there is no delay in your getting started.
  6. Make sure you use the footnote or endnote feature on Word (under References) so you can cite where you got the fact. If you don’t have a source for the fact you have, then use the highlight function on Word (Home-Font-the pencil icon with a color under it) to highlight that you must search for the source. I used that feature to remember I must go to FindMyPast.org to find the christening record. Once found, you can go back to the Font-highlight and click “No Color” to get rid of it. This way, you can quickly continue writing and citing for what you have and then research what needs clarification or is missing later.
  7. Typically, the original source only is noted and I know I drive my colleagues nuts by listing ALL sources where I found the fact. I do this because I don’t know if the original document will be lost. If that occurs, then I’ve added where I found transcriptions or films of the image, etc., and that I verified the other documents I listed confirmed what the original document recorded. You do whatever the spirit tells you lol!
  8. Your writing will not be very long; probably not more than a page or two unless, like my Daniel Hollingshead who loved to flip real estate, you have lots of records. Thomas Duer’s summary would be one page without citations. Remember, you aren’t recording a detailed story here, just the facts. If you decide you have the time and want to elaborate, then you have an outline already done to help you on your way. The clip at the top of this blog is for three of the five paragraphs I wrote on Thomas. Of his known children, I placed a + sign before son Thomas, (not shown) as I will be writing about him next. I will not be writing about the couple’s other seven children.
  9. You may want to add a timeline to your Word doc. I haven’t done that but may if I get to a situation where documents I have acquired are conflicting. The timeline can help sort out if there was a transcription error, a confusion of identity, or some other situation. For  example, I discovered last week a conflict regarding a family I was writing about for a journal article. The female gateway came to the U.S. in 1925 but on her naturalization records, she stated she came in 1939. Both are true. She first arrived in 1925, got married, had four children, and then took them back to her native country for a six month visit. When she returned, she used the second coming as her date of arrival. It was the most recent to her naturalization paperwork and the law required that at the time. So, fraud may not be involved in record discrepancies.  Instead, she was following the law of the land at that time. A timeline helped me quickly identify the two emigration dates and that I needed to explore further.
  10. When you’re done writing it’s time to upload and share. You want others to see your work so they can correct or add to your findings.

Since it’s autumn, now that you accomplished your task, make yourself a nice cup of tea and enjoy. You deserve it!

Analyzing Data Clues to Solve Mysteries

Remember the old board game, Clue?  Maybe you saw the movies or read the books about the game instead.  That’s the kind of week I had but it was in real life. I juggle two careers; one in education and one in genealogy.  I love them both!  I’m not loving what is happening in either right now.  I miss my students.  I miss traveling to archives. Since I highly value both humans and the bread crumb records they leave behind, I follow safety guidelines.  I realize not everyone believes that the virus is real or it will have dire consequences for them if they are infected.  I don’t agree with those that refuse to wear a mask or social distance or go out when they aren’t feeling well but I respect their difference in opinion – just stay away from me and my family! That being said, my hubby and I have requested that we continue working from home via an eLearning platform this upcoming school year and were granted that privilege.  Should have been simple but unfortunately, it wasn’t. One of us was told DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES COME ON CAMPUS and the other was told YOU WILL BE WORKING FROM A SAFE LOCATION ON CAMPUS.  We work for the same school district and have the same job title and work with the same grade level of students.  We both were determined to have the same level of risk which is why we were granted the eLearning permission. Both of us were highly successful using the online platform since March. We are both former National Board Certified Teachers and deemed accomplished by our district. No one can explain why we have different instructions as to how to execute our roles. Since no one can provide us a valid reason, we have both decided to Zoom into meetings when we’re notified they are occurring.  I cannot tell you how thankful we are that we have made the decision we did.  On Wednesday morning a Zoom meeting was held in a classroom with 12 on site attendees and 3 off site. The sign in sheet and pen were passed around onsite for attendance and one took off his mask briefly to address the group but was told to put it back on and complied.  The next day, the administration was notified that one of the onsite attendees was diagnosed with covid.  Due to Hippa, the name of the individual cannot be disclosed.  Hence, the game of real life Clue begins. It is a no brainer to figure out who has it as everyone knows who was in attendance and who did not show up for work the next day.  So much for Hippa confidentiality.  If only finding records of our ancestors or determining relationships for them could be so simple! Last Saturday afternoon I was notified that I won a free Clooz software packet.  I had been entered into a drawing from visiting the NGS online Exhibit Hall last month.  Since the May NGS Conference had to be cancelled, the event was moved to online with breakout sessions available for viewing (after purchase) on July 1st.  Also available was a link to corporate sponsors who would have been available face to face if the conference had been held.  Some of the sponsors offer product discounts or give aways for visiting their “booth.”  That was how I came to be the lucky winner of  Clooz 3. If you aren’t familiar with Clooz, it is a program to document data with features that help in analyzing the inputted information to determine identity and relationship.  The program will export to your family tree and offers more than 200 report formats to help with analysis.  I thought this was just what I need to help sort out my Duer family that reuses names (John, Thomas, Daniel) several times in each generation.  I’ve also long sought one document that would conclusively show that my Thomas is the son of John. Notified by email, I downloaded the software and on Sunday, watched several of the 12 introductory videos at the site.  The presenter has a personable, calming voice and demonstrates where to click and how to enter data. I have a lot of records on my Thomas and John Duer so I’m not yet done entering the information into Clooz to begin using the reports. I spent Sunday adding People, Sources and Census info.  I still have more to go but somehow, I did something wrong and cannot find the saved file.  I am clueless (pun intended!) where I saved it!  So, I plan on spending time today determining where all my data went from last weekend and moving forward with the program.  Hopefully, Cluz will give me some clues where it’s hiding.

DNA Plan


Had a wonderful time in Raleigh last week at the National Genealogical Society Conference! I focused on DNA workshops as that is an area where I would like to gain more knowledge and practical experience.

My 3 favorite sessions on this topic were by Debbie Parker Wayne, Blaine Bettinger and Judy Russell. Now that I have a rudimentary understanding, I plan on working through the book, Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Bettinger and Wayne this summer.

I also learned that the Journal of Genetic Genealogy (JoGG) had been reactivated as a free peer reviewed online resource. Check it out!

Two of the major DNA players, MyHeritage and Ancestry.com, offered conference specials but I decided to wait until Black Friday to make purchases. My plan is to purchase kits from either or several organizations but more likely from Ancestry first since it has the larger database. Then, I’ll download the results and upload to Family Tree DNA and Gedmatch.

Hubby and I tested years ago through Ancestry – he did X and Y and I did X but that version is no longer supported. I’d like to do add Autosomal this time around and include other family members. Besides the benefit of identifying new family members and confirming ones we are aware of, I think it would be fascinating to see if any mutations occurred between our kids and us and between my husband and his sister.

For Mother’s Day, my family got me an e-Book, Mansions of the Dead, by Sarah Stewart Taylor. It’s a genealogical murder mystery that I find interesting as it takes place in Boston, a city I’ve happily researched in, and revolves around mourning jewelry, which I’ve been fascinated with since working with a Client several years ago that inherited a mystery piece from a paternal grandmother. The book was written when DNA analysis was relatively new and I question some of the info but it is a fun read and I can’t wait to confirm my hypothesis of who done it. Happy Hunting!

Genealogy Pronunciation Trick

Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

My blog is late today as I had unexpected tech issues, the bane of my existence!  This past week, first my husband and then I, noticed an “enter code” button that appeared on any Microsoft product we were using on our desktops.  It finally dawned on us that the educator license we had with Microsoft was being removed since we both retired from our academic careers this month.  This was a totally unexpected situation as we had paid for a license for our computers that didn’t expire.  Microsoft only allows military veterans to continue and not educators.  Who knew?!  Took the time this morning to buy two new licenses – one for my business and the other for home use.  The Microsoft site was not working well and wouldn’t allow me to save my domain info so I’m going to have to go back on later.  After the slow download I freaked out when I opened Word and only documents from 2019 showed up.  I was able to open two docs from my desktop I just created in the last two weeks and once they opened, they showed in the list when I reopened Word. I then went to Dropbox and opened a pdf from January and a doc from last August.  Once opened, they show in the Word list.  I don’t understand this at all but as long as I can open older documents as I need them, I’m good.  

Here’s an update on my Bible blog from last week – got a heartwarming thank you from my distant cousin who will be receiving the Landfair Bible.  I’m so glad it found a good home, away from hurricanes, humidity and mold.  Remember this story this week when you run into a rude person – there are a lot of good people out there, just not everyone!

Now, for today….

I had a wonderful 2 day Professional Management Conference hosted by APG.  It was just awesome reconnecting with other professional genealogists in the break out sessions and the lectures were informative.  I plan to be adding a page to Genealogyatheart.com with my lectures soon.  Unfortunately, the terms of my retirement do not allow me to “teach” in any format for the next 6 months so that’s all on hold for awhile.  The conference did nudge me into making proposals to my state genealogy group with ideas for journal articles.  I’ll be writing 3 for upcoming issues.  Working on the first, along with the Bible interaction last week, gave me the idea for today’s blog.

Let’s think of the Louis Armstrong song, You Say Tomato.  Genealogy is fraught with pronunciation problems.  When I spoke to the lady from Ohio about the Bible, I told her I did not live close to either Lima (lee mah) or Celina (Seh lee nah).  She replied she didn’t either and then laughed.  In Ohio, those places are known as (lie mah) and (sel lie nah).  

This got me thinking about why it’s sometimes so difficult for us to find an ancestor’s former residence.  We aren’t seeing it in print – we’re hearing it.  Same issue with census enumerators hearing our ancestors and misunderstanding their English as a second language pronunciation. This week, I’ve been researching a local family from Greece.  Their name evolved from the original spelling from the first generation to how the name is pronounced in English for the second generation.  Loved the Find-A-Grave note that was added by the memorial creator explaining why the names were different!

To complicate the situation, the same word can be pronounced differently depending on the location.  One of my children spent time in both Grenada’s.  That would be Gre nae dah, West Indies and Gre nah dah, Spain.  

Next time you are stuck on a location or surname, try thinking about it in a variety of ways.  Type the word in Google and add “pronunciation.”  Try this for “Lima Ohio pronunciation” and Lima Peru pronunciation.” Pretty neat trick!

IMPORTANT-Ancestry.com Term Changes

Nothing like having a limited time to make an important decision during the Dog Days of Summer.  Thanks a lot, Ancestry.com!

You may or may not have received an email message from Ancestry.com earlier this week noting that they have updated their terms of conditions. You may have noticed the message under the ribbon (shown above) on Ancestry.com this week.  

Interestingly, Ancestry.com never mentioned what the change(s) was/were in the email.  I thought that odd and had decided I would check it out this weekend.  Usually noncommunication is a tipoff that the change is important.  Organizations know that most folks don’t take the time to read the fine print so sending an email with limited information makes the change more likely to pass quietly.

Before I had a chance to review the document I began receiving emails from family members that bordered on hysteria about the changes.  

I would not do the situation justice in explaining the term changes so I’m referring you to blog articles found here and here.  It is vital that you read these ASAP as there is only a small window of time for you to make a decision and act.

My decision was to remove all photos/documents I had uploaded to Ancestry.com of LIVING people.  My reason is that, although the photo was given to me by family members, I do not have explicit permission to give Ancestry.com permanent permission to own the picture.  

I am not concerned over photos of the DECEASED as they don’t have rights anyway.  I consider them part of history.  I don’t like it that Ancestry.com “owns” the photos for perpetuity but I’d rather the photos be available somewhere rather than lost forever.  

Like me, you’ve probably uploaded photos to Ancestry.com and have had them saved by others without giving you credit.  I can always identify mine as I have a unique way I save them.  Although I would prefer if someone asked permission first, I understand that by my uploading to anywhere on the internet the possibility that someone will use the photo, claim it as their own, etc, exists.  I accepted that risk. The Ancestry.com change will make Ancestry.com the owner forever.  

Forever is a long time!  Does this mean that Ancestry.com may someday take me to court for using a photo I have uploaded, even though I have the original in my possession?  I doubt it.  Personally, I don’t even think Ancestry.com will last “forever.”  Who knows what the world will look like next year, let alone in 5021.  

The audacity of the term change did make me consider deleting my Ancestry.com tree.  I calmed down and emailed my concerned family members what my decision was regarding photos/documents.  

I thought that would have been the end of it but it turned out it was the tip of the melting iceberg.  I began receiving responses that they wanted various information they had shared with me over the past 20 plus years removed.  I always cite my sources and that was what the bone of contention was.  The requests were for removal of their name/email address.  Since it’s typical to cite an email exchange with the sender’s name [email address} to receiver’s name [email address] this request totally threw me.  I did agree to alter the citation to remove the individual who requested the information be stricken.

I then got a request to remove correspondence from someone who was deceased by a two down the line family member.  The deceased was well aware that I had posted the information as she had requested my help in finding documents.  She once had permission to make changes to my tree.  Her email address is no longer active.  

I could have pointed all this out to the requestor but I decided to just take the high road and remove the information.  

Which gets me back to a blog article I wrote in June about saving your tree.  Here’s another reason to keep a tree somewhere completely updated that you and you alone have access.  My article was about synching Ancestry.com to RootsMagic which resided on my computer and is saved in a Cloud as a backup.  I did remove everything from Ancestry.com that was requested of me which took several hours.  I DID NOT remove it from my RootsMagic tree that is still synched with Ancestry.  

If I open RootsMagic and click the Ancestry leaf motif on the ribbon, any changes made on Ancestry.com will appear as an option to update my RootsMagic tree.  I don’t want that to change RootsMagic as I want the citations and the pictures of the living all in one place.  

My “Main Tree” on Ancestry.com is no longer that.  I did consider renaming it to Sort Of Main Tree but decided I don’t need to waste more time because of Ancestry.com’s decision.  

Please take some time to review the blog articles and the new policy.  Consult with your family on the way to go forward.  Do this soon before the policy takes effect.

Eerie Happenings Occur When Researching Ancestors

Partial Clip from U.S., Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, Thomas Thompson, digital image; Ancesry.com:  accessed 17 July 2021, image 402 of 440; citing NARA M233.

One of the things I love about genealogy is the weird occurrences that happen.  I had planned to write about a local mystery but two strange events happened to me this week that I think you’ll find interesting.

Last week, I blogged about The Forgotten Ones project for the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.  While researching Thomas Charles Thompson I came across a document that may or may not be his father, Thomas Coke Thompson. 

These folks are my husband’s relatives and whenever I work on that line strange things happen.  The pattern continues…

The document I found is shown above.  Thomas Coke was known to be in the Albany, New York area at the time the document was made.  He married first, Elizabeth and had several children.  Only Thomas Charles lived to adulthood but died before Thomas Coke.  Census and death records state that Thomas Coke was born in New York City but I’ve never found a record for him or his parents.  The document above caught my eye because the same location, name used in other records (he never used Coke) and age.  What stood out to me was that he was a musician born in Great Britain. The Thomas Coke in our family tree was a ship’s carpenter when he moved to Chicago.

I forwarded the document to my husband’s cousins who I have met over the years through online research.  One stated she wasn’t interested.  Another thanked me immensely.  The third replied that she wished her mom was alive to see and ponder it – her mom’s birthday would be 2 days after I made the find.  I replied to the 3rd cousin that I had thought of her mom the prior week when I wrote to a colleague who wanted information for an upcoming book he was writing on cemetery re-internments.  In reviewing my notes I found an email from a cemetery that mentioned the 3rd cousin’s mother who had written to correct a mistake in the cemetery record. 

A few days after I emailed the 3rd cousin, she replied she wasn’t feeling that the document was for Thomas Coke.  After all, Thomas Thompson is a common name.  Although that is true, in the Albany 1830 US Federal census there are only 5 Thomas Thompsons in that area; 3 are Black, 1 is old and 1 is of the age of the man who enlisted.  What doesn’t fit is the name of the next of kin on the form (clip above not showing it).  No record of this individual anywhere and none of the cousins have heard of her.  Certainly more research is needed but for now it’s on hold until I’m able to revisit NARA next spring. 

The 3rd cousin decided to look through her records and found several photos from the 1860’s that she didn’t recall sharing with me.  One was of Elizabeth Williams, sister of Drusilla who had married 2nd Thomas Coke. 

At the same time 3rd cousin was emailing me the picture, I received another email that I had a message on MyHeritage.  I assumed it was a response for WW2 pictures as I had contacted a number of tree owners looking for photos for the Fields of Honors project in the Netherlands. 

I don’t know why but something told me to respond to the 3rd cousin after reviewing all my emails.  I logged onto MyHeritage and was astounded to discover a message from a 3 times great granddaughter of Elizabeth Williams.  She was thanking me for putting info on the tree. 

Before answering, I decided to check my personal email to read the 3rd cousins’ information.  That’s when I discovered the picture of Elizabeth.  I emailed both of my husband’s cousins to connect them and uploaded the picture to Ancestry, which is where my Main Tree is located.  That’s the tree I keep updated.

So, if that wasn’t enough of the eebee jeebees for you, two days later the following happened…

Summer is my family’s lean time as we don’t receive a paycheck.  Unfortunately for us, we’ve had some major expenses.  We had budgeted for the ones we knew about (replacing a deck, renovating the side yard) but not for others (reconstructing a coop, a plumbing issue we didn’t even know was a problem).  After shelling out a couple of hundred dollars to a pest control company to get rid of the varmints that had eaten the deck and coop and infested an appliance, a remembrance of my grandmother, Mary Koss, came to me.

When I was dating my husband in high school I was adamant I was never going to get married.  I had never seen a happy couple.  I’m serious – most of my older relatives were divorced or in miserable marriages.  One day after my then boyfriend left, my grandmother said to me, “You’d be a fool not to marry him.  You’ll never find anyone better.”  I know I though she was nuts at the time but you didn’t argue with Grandma so I didn’t respond.  She has proven to be right.

Grandma loved to be right and was not shy about making sure everyone knew she had predicted what was going to occur.  My thoughts of that day came about because my dear husband never ever has complained to me about spending money, even when it’s tight. 

This jogged my brain into calling our power company as I wanted to change our automatic payment method.  I tried to do this online but I was directed to call the company.  While waiting for a human, I decided to clean out my emails and I saw that Ancestry had sent me one with their latest record updates.  It happened to be for Ellis Island/Castle Gardens.

Since I had thought about my grandmother I decided to enter in her information which I’ve seen before. I just wanted to check if there was something new.  Coincidentally, the date my grandmother had arrived on Ellis Island just happened to be the day I was checking the record.

OHHH – weird – her birthday was coming up in 2 days and I hadn’t noticed before that she had made herself older on the form – claimed to be a teenager of 13 when she was still 12 for two more days.  That made me laugh.

But the weirdness doesn’t end there…The customer service rep came on the line and asked my name.  When I told her she responded by spelling my first name correctly.  No one does that as there is several ways to spell Lori.  I didn’t think much of that but as we got into the call she had to speak to my husband as she couldn’t find that I had access to the account.  This always annoys me but I put my husband on who told her he has given my information on several occasions and to please correct it for the future.  The customer service rep said, “There is someone else on the account, do you know who that could be?”  My husband asked me and then it hit me – it was probably my birth certificate name that I never use.  I gave the woman that name and she said, “Yes, that’s it.  I didn’t think you were the same person as my mother is named (with your birth certificate name) and my aunt with the name you go by.”  So, this explained how she could spell Lori correctly.  I told her that I always asked my mom why they named me as they had when they called me something else.  My mom’s reply was that she didn’t know, I was supposed to be named Patty Ann after her friend but when she looked at me after my birth the other name just popped into her head. She never met anyone with my birth certificate name and can’t explain why she thought of it.

After years of doing genealogy, I was shocked to learn that my father’s family was from a European province that is the same as my real name.  I doubted my mom would know that as she had always told me my father was Germany, English, Scotts-Irish and Welsh.  The province is not located in any of those areas.  I know he never knew of the province as he always told me his ancestry was German and British.

I  thought maybe my mom had heard the name and it was somewhere in her head where the euphoria of childbirth brought it forth. Now, because of what next occurred, I’m thinking that is a real possibility.

After using the Ancestry.com search for my grandmother, grandfather, great grandmother and great uncle I decided to try to find my great grandfather who had emigrated before his wife and two children.  I had a little trouble in that I was entering Croatia as his birth place.  I should have left that blank.  It finally dawned on me he would have said Austria as that was the country at the time.  My grandmother, a vocal almost teen ager and being for Croatia separation from Austria-Hungary, had stated she was from Croatia so I just didn’t think initially to change it.  It made sense he would have provided different information as he had been in the Austrian Calvary.  (HINT TO SELF-When searching, try to think like the individual that provided the record information and not what you know of the individual). His information  tells me he didn’t think of himself as Croatian first; he had allegiance to the governing country probably due to his military service..

When I found my great grandfather Josip Kos’ record I was astounded to see that the ship he sailed to America on was my birth certificate name.  Wow!

I had seen the document before but it never clicked. My great grandfather died during the previous pandemic and I had just thought about him when I got my pneumonia vaccine last week.  He got the flu but died of pneumonia.  Although my mom was a baby when he died, perhaps she had heard this ship’s name and recalled it for who knows what reason when I was born. 

Or, just maybe, he whispered it into her ear and she wrote it on my birth certificate. 

Who knows?!  All I can tell you for sure is that I just really enjoy these creepy coincidences.  Christmas in July? Nope, with my family I’ve got Halloween early!

Independence Day Memories

Happy 4th of July weekend!  Can you believe we are only 5 years from celebrating our sestercenntenial, aka 250 years?  Many of you may remember the 200 year celebration in 1976.  I can tell you what I wore when I picnicked in the city park and got a slice of a giant birthday cake donated by bakeries.  That was the start of our family’s now tradition of eating fried chicken with all the fixins’ instead of BBQing, which we had done when I was very young.

We began this year’s commemoration by attending our city’s First Friday celebration last night.  BC (Before Covid), our town had a street fair every First Friday evening.  Local bands play on the 3 blocks that our closed on the main street through the old business district, with a few side streets also blocked to traffic for the occasion.  It looked like rain so hubby and I decided to arrive earlier than we used to.  There weren’t quite as many vendors or visitors as before but it was early.  As soon as I saw one of my favorite Italian restaurants had reopened we knew that’s where we were eating.  It just happened that was the last restaurant we ate at on March 13, 2020 – our last day onsite at our worksites.  Our adult kids had chastised us the following day for risking eating out the night before but we had been cautious by dining at an outside table.  We got the same table last night and the experience was surreal.  I actually got teary eyed when the first course arrived.  

We’re hoping the weather holds up for us to have our traditional picnic tomorrow followed by watching the fireworks.  Independence takes on a new meaning for us this year as we reacclimated ourselves in our community.

In genealogy, we focus on the past without thinking much that our past was our ancestor’s present.  If you have a holiday custom, like our picnic food, it once was done first.  Spend some time researching when the first occasion was and why.  I know we weren’t allowed to bring portable BBQ grills to the park which was why my mother changed the menu.  We wanted to arrive at the park early as a spectacular firework show was planned to mark the bicenntenial.  We wanted a good parking spot and viewing location so we didn’t miss that special event.  

Next is the most important part of the story – WRITE IT DOWN!  It is wonderful that you made the discovery of the custom’s origin but it will be forgotten for future generations if you don’t record it.  You don’t have to write at length.  A brief note in your family tree program added as an event will commemorate your finding and/or memory.  A few family historian will certainly appreciate you took the time to save the memory.  

Resolving Genealogy Tech Issues

I abhor spending time on tech issues but that has been on my to-do list for awhile so I decided to spend this week taking care of needed updates. First on the agenda was to update my blog settings.  Typically, I just have to click a button and the settings are updated.  Last May, I got a popup that said I must update my PHP settings first.  I ignored it because I was spending 12 hours a day online and didn’t want to have to spend more time researching how to do that.  On Sunday, I decided I really had to figure it out. 

Trying to update PHP is a little like trying to find a genealogical document.  To put it simply, you just need to know where to look.  In actuality, it’s a whole lot more complicated.  I started by Googling and was directed to go to the cPanel.  Nowhere does it tell you where the cPanel resides.  One of my family members said it was on my hard drive, mistakenly thinking I was looking for the C Drive.  Another said I probably downloaded it somewhere on my hard drive from my Hosting company.  More Googling took me to YouTube but again, the videos do not tell you how to find the cDrive but do show you what to do when you find it.

This reminds me of desperately trying to locate an obit but you can’t find the newspaper. You know the time frame it should have been published but that particular issue is missing.  I decided to reach out to those in the know – I posted on a genealogical list serv.  Three folks quickly came to the rescue – they told me to go to my cPanel.  Umm, right, but where is the cPanel?  I was directed to contact my Hosting company.

The Hosting company was experiencing heavy contact volume so they recommended placing a ticket with my concern. About 4 hours later I got a response and ta da, it directed me to the same YouTube video that didn’t answer my question in the first place.

On Monday, I tried to chat with the company who was still experiencing high volume.  After a short wait I got a techie who sent me to the same YouTube video.  I was trying not to be rude but this was ridiculous.  I asked to be directed to the cPanel from the home page.  Instead, she took a pic of the page I should be on.  I told her my page did not look like her page and how did she get to her page.  Light bulb moment on her part – “Oh,” she responds – “you don’t know where to find the cPanel.  Click on Hosting and there it is.”  Two clicks later and I had the update done. 

Next I decided to tackle updating my Legacy Family Tree and RootsMagic tree to Ancestry.  I am embarrassed to admit it has been 2 years since I last did that.  The Legacy update took just a few minutes since there is no media.  I was dreading the RootsMagic as its been synching but the program makes you go into each person changed and update individually.  I toyed with the idea of just dumping what I had and starting fresh but I was worried that it would take up too much of my desk computer’s time and I wouldn’t be able to use it for anything else.  I also was concerned with power outages that might disrupt the synch and then, well, I’d be worse off than I was currently.  Years ago, I synched Ancestry to Family Tree Maker and then it just stopped working.  Each company blamed the other.  I never got it resolved and so I became a beta tester for RootsMagic when they were developing their synch. 

For those reason, I decided to just go for it – painstakingly checking every individual change.  Took me a few minutes to realize I needed to ADD all the new people first.  Wish there was a way to filter what the discrepancy is – new to RootsMagic? New to Ancestry? In RootsMagic but not Ancestry?  In Ancestry but not RootsMagic?  You can get in the zen by doing the same monotonous task over and over and it would really speed the process up.  Alas, that wasn’t the case so I spent all day Monday just adding new people from Ancestry to RootsMagic.  Tuesday I got throught the A surnames, I’m now up to G.  Every few minutes I have I update.  At this rate, it’ll be another week before I get everything where it needs to be. 

I have colleagues who have completely given up on the synching saying it is a waste of time.  I understand their time issue but I’m more worried about losing important info I saved to just Ancestry. 

Problem could be solved if I just saved everything in the first place to my hard drive but as I’ve mentioned, I’m awful with back ups and I’d hate to lose everything.  We’re supposed to be getting 3 full days of rain and I’m hoping so that not only will our drought end but that I have nothing else pressing to do but update RootsMagic.  Hope you’re upcoming week will be much more exciting!

Fantastic Photos! MyHeritage.com Does It Again!

Do you have DAMAGED PHOTOS that break your heart because you can’t appreciate the picture while fixating on the ugly part?  I do and I was never able to use the photos in family projects because I couldn’t restore them to their former glory.

Thanks to MyHeritage.com, it is now simple, quick, easy and free (some limitations apply) to return the photos to better than new.  Here’s how:

First, upload your photo to be repaired by logging into MyHeritage.com and click on Photos in the ribbon, then click the Upload box on the right.

Once uploaded, the photo appears with your media items.  Now, click the photo needing to be repaired.

Above the photo on the right hand side, the following options are shown:  Repair, Enhance, Colorize, Animate.  To correct the photo it’s recommended you select options from left to right.

Once I click Repair and MyHeritage.com does it’s magic, the photo will be shown as follows:

Much improved but still not perfect.  Sure, I can clip out the damage to the upper portions of the photo but I want to restore the picture to as close as new as possible so here’s what I’m going to do – On the upper left hand side of the photo, click on the gear icon which is the settings option.  The photos are first repaired Gently – that’s the default setting.  I’m going to click the box Extensive Repair Option and Preview. Now look at what it does:

Isn’t that AMAZING?! You can stop there but I wanted to make the photo even more defined so I next clicked on Enhance.  Here’s what the result was:

Due to the size limitation on my blog, the subtle improvements are not as apparent as on my larger computer screen but when you try it you’ll notice the difference.
Next I decided to go ahead and colorize it. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of colorizing because I like to know FOR SURE if what I’m presenting in my research is accurate.  It is fun, however, to imagine what the original outfits looked like so I decided to click the Colorize button to see what the program would select:

I again used the Settings (gear icon) to tweak the saturation manually as the first colorization picture showed a pink hue on right side of the dress.  Knowing the individuals as I did, that wouldn’t have been the color choice.  The brown/silver grey was more in keeping with the time period (1917) fashion and the wearer’s preference.  
In my excitement to get the photo corrected I neglected to tell you who the people are!  This is a photo of my paternal grandparents, Edwin and Lola Landfair Leininger, and their oldest child, my dad, Orlo Guy Leininger.  He was born June 4, 1917 so I guess this must be a photo that commemorated his first Christmas.  Nothing was written on the photo back (of course).  I received the photo 5 years after my father’s death in a box that was kept in a damp unheated northern Indiana basement for probably at least 10 years.  I’m fortunate that the photo survived, albeit damaged.  I’m thrilled that it has been restored.  Thanks, MyHeritage.com for your new feature!
For the ethic minded, I also appreciate that MyHeritage.com acknowledges that the photo was altered.  You can see the After written in the upper left hand corner of the photo and on the bottom left, icons appear showing exactly what features were used to change the original picture.  
I’ve blogged before about the animation feature but it has since added many new features, too.  I couldn’t resist animating my Dad, I’m sure he would approve: