Genealogy Without Power

Hurricane Irma is long gone and our power has finally been restored! Four days without electricity was challenging. I honestly don’t know how our ancestors, females especially, survived Florida’s heat and humidity back in the day in those long dresses. The cold water to bathe in doesn’t help!
We were fortunate, as were most of our neighbors, in regards to physical objects being spared. All we had was a leaning fence which we’ve since fixed, a broken mailbox as the wind tore off the door, several dents in my car hood and lots of vegetation debris to rake up. Our next door neighbor lost her mother the day after the storm and our neighbor behind us welcomed a new baby. Nothing like adding more stress to an already difficult time! The cycle of life continues…
For me, I can’t even remember the last week I spent at home and didn’t do any genealogy. It has to have been years ago. Genealogy is so dependent upon online tools today that there was little I could do without electricity.
I was trying to limit my cell phone usage to conserve it so my response to a few clients was terse. Two responded they didn’t know I lived in the storm’s path. One had found me online and the other through a former client. There was no need for them to know my physical location but it still surprised me that they hadn’t.
I love to read out of print books but I had to limit that, too, to conserve battery life on my Kindle. I could use my laptop for a bit to work on the current e-Book I’m writing but it’s an old laptop and the battery life is short so I decided not to do that.
I had gathered all of my most precious documents and did spend about an hour reshelving them in our office. That was the extent of my time invested in genealogy. Now I’m backlogged and better get to work!

Gedmatch How To

Since I last blogged I explored Gedmatch. It was simple (and free!) to use and I highly recommend it. Here’s how:
First watch the Youtube video Gedmatch Basics. There is no handout but you really don’t need one.
I had already created an account on the site but if you haven’t, you can make one as you’re watching the video.
Once you’ve logged in to Gedmatch, look on the right side where you’ll upload your DNA files. I had one 23andMe and one Ancestry to upload and compare.
If you’re not sure how to get your DNA files, don’t worry! The video and the Gedmatch site will direct you to the provider and step you through downloading it to your computer and then uploading it to Gedmatch.
Now you’re ready to analyze what you’ve uploaded. Not all features are available immediately but that’s okay, what you’ll be most interested in is the 1 to Many which compared shared DNA to everyone who’s uploaded on the site and the 1 to 1 which compares two people. I was interested in 1 to 1 as I uploaded my son and my results.
Your options to view the results are position, graph or position with graph. I chose position with graph. I like seeing the color comparison; my son preferred the position table only. See the picture at the top as that shows what you’ll see for position with graph. The yellow denotes the match from person 1 to person 2 is half, the green are full matches. There’s a lot of green looking at all 22 chromosomes and the rest yellow as our relationship is mother-son.
Check the bottom of the data to see the estimated relationship, how many segments matched and the largest matching segment.
There are other analysis tools available which I haven’t checked out. I plan on doing that when I get my daughter tested as I’d like to compare her to my son.
DNA offers continue this week – Ancestry and FTDNA both have promotions for $69.00.

We’re still waiting for hubby’s results to be returned from 23andMe.

MyHeritage DNA Upload Trouble Shooting


I took a wonderful webinar through the Association of Professional Genealogists on Thursday evening on DNA and Ancestry given by Jennifer Anderson Zinck. Although my husband and I tested through Ancestry before their new tests became available in October 2014, our earlier results are still available through the DNA tab on the ribbon. I had thought Ancestry was no longer supporting their older tests so I was pleasantly surprised.

Understandably, the old results aren’t going to be a part of their new communities and circles. I decided to upload that old data into MyHeritage.com’s new DNA feature as they recently began accepting data from other companies.

To upload, click on the MyHeritage DNA tab’s dropdown “Upload DNA data NEW.” Click the pink box “Start.” Click if you are uploading your data or someone else’s. In my case, I was trying to upload my mtDNA. Then, click the Service Terms and Consent Agreement. Next, click the pink box “Upload.” Ancestry downloads the results as a csv file which my computer didn’t like. I converted it to an Excel file as that is what it is and uploaded it.

The pop up told me “DNA uploaded successfully.” Good thing I decided to click “Manage Kits” before I uploaded hubby’s data. Surprise, surprise – my kit was marked “Invalid.” I thought that might be because I had changed formats so I went back through the steps and uploaded the csv file. Again, I got the “DNA uploaded successfully” but in checking further, it was marked as “Invalid.”

I called MyHeritage at 1-877-432-3135. Don’t get confused by the voice mail options! I wasn’t needing billing or accounting (1) or sales (2) and the third option, tech support, says to call back between 7 am -5 pm. Since it was 9:15 AM I thought the phones might be down. The message repeats twice but just hold on because you’ll eventually be placed in the queue for assistance. I was number 9 and the wait time was about 15 minutes.

I told the tech guy the process I had followed and it turns out that MyHeritage does not accept mtDNA or yDNA, only autosomal, which we hadn’t taken. I suggested that the type of test be written on the site to save phone calls and wasted time though autosomal is the way to go now and there probably aren’t a lot of folks like us who have older tests.

So, if you have an autosomal DNA test done at a competitor’s site, you might want to take advantage of MyHeritage’s free offer. Getting your data out to another site just might unlock secrets you never knew existed.

Thank You Familysearch.org!

I love Familysearch.org for so many reasons – the wiki, the records, the tutorials, the ease of use, I could go on and on. I mentioned this at a recent local genealogy conference I attended to my tablemates and was surprised to learn that they had not signed up for a free account. Then yesterday, I was volunteering at an Ask-A-Genealogist Day at a library where I met several folks who had never heard of the site.

One gentleman was so excited he called his wife and brother to tell them about the records we found on his grandparents. A very sweet woman teared up when I showed her a marriage license her grandfather had signed – she had never seen his childlike signature before. He died before she was born and had been uneducated but her grandmother made sure she had the money to go to college so she’d have a better life. I forwarded the link originally sent out by Thomas MacEntee about the upcoming Irish research workshops that Familysearch is offering all week that I bet St. Pat would have attended if he were alive! Another man told me his wife will be so happy as he wanted to make a trip to Ireland ala WDYTYA and she told him that was ridiculous since he wouldn’t have archivists drop everything for him. So he’s tuning in, learning and planning to save time and money. Can’t get better than that! Interested and want more info on this event? Click on this for the flyer.

Trust me, Familysearch has not solicited for money or sent beaucoup annoying emails as many other genealogy based groups do. Why should you register on the site? After creating an account you’re able to connect with others who are pursuing the same lines you are. BillionGraves is now synching with Familysearch so there’s another reason. It’s easy, it’s free and it’s a valuable genealogical tool. You’ve lost an hour today so insure you don’t lose more time – sign up at Familysearch.org today.

Youtube and the Genealogist


A source that I under use for genealogy is Youtube. Lisa Louise Cooke reminded me at a local seminar I attended about the valuable information that is available on the site.

There’s two ways to find what you’re looking for – do a Google Search (duh!) or use the search button on Youtube. If I type in Google the following – youtube genealogy – I get 8,660,000 results. Using the search bar on Youtube, I receive 190,000 results for the word genealogy. Most of those hits are instructional videos. Youtube can assist your genealogy more personally, though, and help you find information you didn’t know was out there.

Try this: In the Youtube search bar type a surname you are interested in and the words “family history” in quotes. I did this with my Leininger surname and the first link is to a family reunion in Ohio. Bingo! Need to know who has the family Bible or a photo of great grandma? The folks you’ve found on Youtube just might hold the key.

You don’t stop there, though! I then decided to check out video to be more specific of the location since Ohio is a large state. I entered “Celina, Ohio” Kuhn (another family surname I’m interested in and the residence of the family) and more hits are available.

This is a wonderful way to reconnect with family that remained in the hometown, see what the area looks like today and the time investment is minimal as many of the videos are less than 15 minutes in length. Enjoy!

A New Way to Identify Name Variations

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 18 Sep 2016.

I was reading the article Guild of One-Name Studies Is Now Available at FamilySearch.org  in The Genealogy News recently and thought I’d  check out the database on Familysearch.  On a few lines, I trace everyone who has that name in the US in an attempt to make a connection across the pond.  Stop and read the article and then come back to my blog.

If you followed the articles link to Familysearch, (added here in case you didn’t), and you enter a surname in the search field, you probably were disappointed.  I know I was!  I first added HARBAUGH and got links to everything but Guild Of One-Name Studies.  I know family historians, some quite renown, have traced the name back to a HARBO who was a court scribe in the 1200’s in Denmark.  I expected to find that and more but all I got were records of Harbaughs.

I then typed in LEININGER and got lots of IGI records but nothing for the Guild of One-Name Studies.

Then it hit me!  On the left hand side, I should have scrolled down and filtered out everything but Guild of One-Name Studies.

I still got nothing for Harbaugh and Leininger but when I entered KOS I got Cass and Coss,

Next I tried KABLE and that’s when it occurred to me – duh – this could be an innovative way to come up with surname variations!  My Kables were listed as Cable, Cabel, Kabel, Cobbold and Cabot.  I would have never come up with Cobbold and Cabot.

Next I tried DUER and got Dewhurst.  Now that was very interesting to me as I’ve been heavy into deeds and wills of my John Duer in Trumbull/Mahoning Counties, Ohio who died in 1831 after his son, Thomas, and I keep seeing Dewhurst in the records.  I pronounce Dewhurst as doo’ herst but I guess it could be pronounced doo’ ers.  Hmm.

We’ve all seen creatively spelled names, likely recorded from pronunciations, in records but I’ve never been really good at coming up with more than obvious variations.  I’m adding this tool to my genealogy tool box!

A FREE Research Assistant – Google Keep

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 18 May 2016.

Found a new tool that could help you immensely with your research notes, to do lists, and anything else you want to write and remember.  From Google, it’s entitled Keep and with just one click, you can save your work and be able to retrieve it from any online device.

Click on the left hand corner of the Keep page where there are three horizontal lines (the main menu bars).  This will open up the main menu where you can view your notes and reminders, once you create them.  Filing is easy, just click the “Create New Label.”

If you’d like to share what you created, click on “Settings” and make sure “Enable Sharing” is checked.

You access Keep through your Google account so if you have gmail or Google+ you already have a Google account. If you don’t have an account, the page should direct you to how to obtain one but I haven’t checked that out since I have an existing account.

Keep works on both IOS and Android so whatever is your preference, you can use this tool.  It does need Chrome so if you aren’t using that already, you may have to download it for Keep to work efficiently.  The Chrome download is supposed to also be available from the Keep page but again, I have it so I’m not able to verify that information.

So, how can you use this with your genealogy?  What I think is the best feature is that it is a blend of Evernote and Pinterest.  I can click the grey lightbulb on the panel to add text or a part of a webpage. I especially like that I am able to simultaneously update my research log that I’ll display on Keep; the display is viewable like Pinterest.  Another beneficial feature is that I can see everything on the same page at once which will make sorting for a timeline or rearranging when analyzing the records much easier.

I can then create a label for the whole group which will enable me to separate out various projects that I’m working on simultaneously.  This method also allows me to quickly access the information anywhere (desktop, laptop, tablet, phone) AND be able to retrieve everything about the project in an organized way. Want to see all your labels?  Simply click the main menu bars and it will list all the labels you have previously created.

The “Reminders” feature will also help you stay organized. Give it a try!

Goodbye Picassa

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 24 March 2016.

Previously I’ve blogged about one of my favorite Google products, Picassa, to which I uploaded all of my photos, movies and images of records.  I’m sad to say that it’ll be going away soon. Google stopped supporting it on March 15th.  It’s being replaced by a product called Google Photo so if you were using Picassa you’ll need to log into Google Photos to save your albums.  Supposedly, it’ll be an easy transition.  Problem is there won’t be editing software included and it won’t scale uploaded photos. I’m planning on following their directions so I don’t lose what I’ve saved this weekend.  I did click on the Photos link provided on the Google blog but the photos displayed weren’t everything I had in my Picassa albums.  Possibly it’s because I was signed in with a different email address.  I’m not panicking yet because I have hard copies and cds of everything but I certainly don’t want to spend the time reuploading!  That’s why I plan on checking it out this weekend and contacting Google before it’s too late if I can’t figure it out.  Looks like Google Photos has the facial recognition feature that I absolutely love.  New features on Photos begin on May 1st so I’m hoping that those will include fixes to the limitations that I’ve already mentioned.

Google Library for the Genealogist

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 19 March 2016.

I’m taking a course through the National Institute of Genealogical Studies called “Google for the Genealogist.”  Half way into it and I’m finding it’s very useful.  There are 8 modules in total and the one I just completed on Google Books was the most relevant to me so far.

I use Google to search for old books that may contain a mention of my ancestors. Sometimes I just look for the location and then when I open the book, search for the surname.  I have found some incredible stories – such as Mathew Baines or Beans who was dying at sea and wrote a letter to a James Harrison, a fellow Quaker, requesting he look after Mathew’s children.  Problem was that Mr. Harrison had died so the children appeared in Orphan Court.  Two Google Books mention these events. Looking at someone else’s tree on FamilySearch or Ancestry might give you Mathew’s year and place of death but the books bring the experiences he had to life!

With old Ancestry, as in before December 2015, I used to snip the page from the book and snip the title page, save to Word and then upload as a pdf to my tree attaching to the appropriate person. Problem is that it’s no longer easy to find those pdf’s on Ancestry.  I’m going to have to go back and re-download and save to my hard drive.  I never saved to my hard drive before because I was working on a cheap laptop I didn’t have a lot of faith in and thought it would be better if it were saved in Ancestry’s cloud.  Live and learn!

But back to Google Books and the class I’m taking…Did you know that you can save books to your own created bookshelves in your own library in their cloud?!  I somehow missed this and it’s super easy to do.  All you need is a Google account, which is free, of course. (Not going to get into the whole topic of nothing is free as in they’re monitoring your usage and using your searches but you know what I mean by free – as in there’s no initial monetary cost involved to create a Google account.) Once you have an account (if you have an email through Google you have an account!), next click “More” on the Google ribbon and find the link for “Books.”  Click and search for a surname or place you’re interested in finding information about.  When you find a book you like, click on it.  You then click “Save to My Library.”

On the left hand side of the page you can create your own book shelves.  I created two state names and one called Reference.  If you scroll down you’ll see recent books you may have looked at.  It’s simple to just click on the book and add to the appropriate book shelf.  I’m going to be very busy once I’m done with the Kinship Determination Paper uploading all my pdf books and saving it to My Library. That way, I will have all the sources I’ve used in one place.  I plan to add who the book refers to in the Description block that comes up for the book shelf.

Who Knew? Two Genealogy Tips I Just Learned

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 13 Mar 2016.

Tip 1:  Did you know that Fold3 has lots more than just military records?  If you have the premium or you get a free trial offer you need to explore the site by doing the following-

  1. Click BROWSE at the top of the page
  2. Click CATEGORY on the right side
  3. Click ALL TITLES
  4. Take a look at what they have!

I have found the Pennsylvania Archives most helpful.  Scroll down to the bottom of the selected volume to check out the index.

I never knew Fold3 had FBI Case Files, slave auctions from the West Indies, orphan records and more.  Why in the world don’t they advertise this?!  I would have probably bought the premium membership years ago had I known.

Tip 2:  Just learned this from the Pinellas County Genealogical Society and I quote, “Family Tree Maker users can now do a direct import including all media files (without GEDCOM) to RootsMagic. This works with FTM versions 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014 and classic (version 16 with file extension.ftw) for Windows. Also works for FTM 3 for Mac. Read the details at http://goo.gl/VkKrUJ. They also offer a special low price for FTM users to buy the RootsMagic program.”  Pretty cool if my Family Tree Maker hadn’t stopped synching with my Ancestry.com tree.  Hope this helps you out!