Another Duer Synchronocity!

I’ve written before about the odd experiences I’ve had when I research my Duer line (to read – type Duer in the search box on my website GenealogyAtHeart.com). I just had another one…

Earlier this month, someone found my Duer info that I’ve posted in numerous places online – my website, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, FamilySearch.org, FindMyPast.com, and emailed me as he is a descendant of John P and Susannah Miller Duer. We’ve been exchanging emails and he has been in contact with another distant cousin who has had DNA tested through Ancestry.com. She compiled a very nice DNA chart of the descendants of John and Susannah.

On Friday, I received an email from a third distant cousin who is trying to find info on one of John’s sons, Joseph, who has been rather elusive. At the same time she was emailing me asking about additional info, I received the email from the first cousin with the chart made by another cousin who just happens to be descended from this Joseph.

My goodness, that’s just weird!

My descendants have tested through Ancestry (I did 23andMe), so I logged on and just found another distant cousin who recently tested. I emailed her to include on my interested in Duer research list.

It wouldn’t be seem much of a coincidence since I’ve written extensively about the Duers and I have so many public trees out there in internetland. What makes this odd is after close to 200 years, I get 2 emails from descendants who haven’t been aware of each other on the same afternoon. I just love how technology has enabled us all to reconnect!

Genealogy Reminders from Coco


If you haven’t seen the Disney movie that came out last fall, Coco, then you must do it soon. I’m not the kind of person that watches the same shows again and again but I have seen Coco 3 times. Here’s why I think Coco is important to genealogy and will help you with your research:

Customs – the story takes place in Mexico on the eve of Dia de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Even though my family never celebrated that holiday, we sure celebrated many others. Think back to your own childhood and identify customs that your family practiced. Did Aunt Marge always bring a special dish? If so, ask why before it’s too late. I regret not writing down the words in Croatian that my grandparents said before Christmas Eve dinner. I know it was brought with them from the Old Country but unfortunately, that custom is now lost to me.

Photo clues – One of my favorite parts of Coco is the altar of photos. I don’t have that layout but I do have a family tree of photos on the wall in my office. Those photos are of couples going back 5 generations. Around the tree I’ve placed pictures of large family gatherings to include more of the extended family. I also received as a Christmas gift a metal tree that holds smaller photos. I’ve placed pictures of many of those couples as infants on this stand alone tree. By seeing the “big picture” you can often identify people in other photos that were considered unknown.

In Coco, the main character, Miguel, accidentally discovers a displayed photo had been altered and the missing person is critical to his story. That part of the film made me laugh as my family does the same thing Miguel’s family did! I inherited some photos from a deceased second cousin and one of them was torn vertically to remove someone. I’ve never been able to find a copy of the intact photo but from the dress of the remaining individual, it appears that it was taken before a cantakerous divorce. There’s a story behind every missing person in a photo and it pays to try to uncover it.

Making Wrong Assumptions – Like Miguel, I’ve been down the wrong trail of who I thought was family. Aided by spirits, he was able to uncover the truth. You don’t have to hire a medium to find the answer – simply take a DNA test. One of my husband’s cousins is doing a Lazarus project on a line through Gedmatch. I’ll be writing about it soon but in the meantime, if you aren’t familiar with that term, it’s trying to “raise the dead” by comparing the living’s DNA. The results can help you insure you’re researching your direct family lines.

FAN Club – Miguel learns all about a neighbor of his great grandfather and that connection with his family is a key to the story. What I especially like about this genealogy tip is that the connection isn’t an immediate neighbor or made through a religious organization, such as being a baptism sponsor. This connection is career related and sometimes we overlook that. Checking out union records, membership in business associations and even competitors in an industry could provide you with a wealth of information about an ancestor’s life.

Family Stories – We all have our legends and just like Miguel’s, they get convoluted in the retelling. To separate the facts from fiction in yours, first write down the story as you remember hearing it. If possible, ask another family member to tell you what they remember of the story. There will be some differences and note those. Next, research to see if there were records for the event mentioned. Newspapers, court documents, and even almanacs can help you determine the factual basis of the story. Getting the correct story may help you find that missing marriage record or place of death so this approach is well worth the effort.

Uncovering Buried Memories – The most poignant part of the movie for me was when Abuelita identifies her father, Miguel’s great grandfather. Miguel is so gentle when talking with his senile grandmother and to get information before it’s too late can’t be stressed enough. I interviewed my maternal grandmother and mother before their memories became difficult to access. In hindsight, I wish I had recorded it instead of taking notes. If you haven’t interviewed your older relatives plan on doing that soon.

Our Gifts – Miguel loved music while the rest of his living family did not. His genealogical journey helped him understand where his talent came from. By looking deeper into your family’s history, you’ll uncover much more than just birth-marriage-death info – you’ll discover people you wish you’d met and others who you’d love to understand why they made the choices they did. Some people we can closely identify with, others, not so much. They’re all a part of us and we’re all connected. Like Miguel’s family, we need to make peace with the past so the future can be brighter.

Synchronicity in the Work Place


Synchronicity is the occurrence of events that relate but the connection was made in an unexplainable way. I’ve written about odd happening with my genealogy many times before. Sometimes I randomly start up a conversation with an individual and discover we’re related. A wayward email or a post from long ago (remember mail list servs?!) finds there way to me and uncovers the key to long sought after records. I’m in an archive miles from where my ancestor lived and something pops in my mind to check an individual out and discover records there that shouldn’t be. Those eebee jeebee occurrences are indeed special!

I realize that all of us humans on planet earth are related; sharing something close to 99.5% DNA. Perhaps the following true story is not as weird as I see it. You be the judge.

My primary job is still in the educational arena and that’s where the occurrence I’m about to describe happened in mid-January. The flu hit our workplace hard the first week of January. One of the individuals in a supervisory capacity went from flu to bronchitis to pneumonia over a 2 week period. While home recuperating, she received in the US mail a piece of junk mail from Reader’s Digest for a man she supervises.

I don’t know about you, but I weekly get someone else’s mail delivered to my house so this is no big deal, right? Wrong! The two do not reside in the same neighborhood. In fact, they don’t even live in the same county. The names of the cities where they live are not similar and neither is the street address or zip code. The envelope was not stuck to another. The supervisor who received it does not have a last name alphabetically close to her employee so that wasn’t a reason for the wrong delivery.

Upon receiving the letter, the supervisor texted the employee that he might want to stop by her home after work to pick up his mail. He responded, “Huh? What mail.” She then took a pic of what had arrived at her home that day and sent it to him. The address was clearly typewritten showing his first and last name, home address, city, state and zip. Typically, his mail is delivered to a post office box. He called his local post office and spoke with the postmaster for an explanation of how this could have happened.

The postmaster said he couldn’t explain it. From where the letter was mailed, it would have arrived at the Tampa International Airport receiving facility where it would have been sorted. It would have then traveled by truck to the county where the man lives to be further sorted and delivered to his local post office where the employees should have put it in his pick up box. The truck from the airport to the county post office would not have been the same vehicle that carried mail for the person who received it since she resides in a different county.

The postmaster could offer no explanation in how it went through 4 sorts (the airport, the county facility, the local facility, the home mail delivery person) and no one noticed it was headed for the wrong destination or how its final arrival was to someone who knew the person well.

Both supervisor and employee have endured a lot of ribbing about the universe wanting to connect them personally. I’d be tired of hearing how they should purchase a lottery ticket or take advantage of the junk mail offer. Certainly weird things happen and perhaps there is no hidden message to uncover here. We’re still talking about it 3 weeks later so I said I’d put it out there to cyberspace to see if someone can come up with a rational explanation. Any ideas?

Awesome Genealogy Resources I’ve Recently Discovered


Brrr, it’s been freezing in Florida! I’m spending most of my free time curled up on the sofa in front of a fire with a cup of cocoa and my laptop and Kindle catching up on reading I put off during the holidays. I want to share some of my amazing finds that could benefit your research:

Do You Understand Family Relationships? Trying to explain to a non-genealogist how someone is related can be difficult. I’ve discovered a wonderful pdf and a fantastic article recently published by Genealogy in Time. Check out The Key to Understanding Family Relationships and become an expert!

Burned courthouses, wars and vermin aren’t, unfortunately, a thing of the past that impedes our needed record research. What Would You Take?, an article on Genealogy Bank, focuses on the sometimes split second decision of what to do about your research when disaster is only minutes away. We don’t like to think about it, but this article is a must read for everyone.

So, your DNA results are being returned and your family is scratching their heads in confusion. Maybe this article will help – How DNA Testing Botched My Family’s Heritage that I found on Gizmodo is thought provoking.

Robert Flenner Honored by The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund

Last fall I blogged about my search for relatives of Robert Flenner, a police officer who died in 1908 from injuries received in the line of duty. The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund contacted me after finding Robert in my public Ancestry.com tree. Robert married a woman who was the grand daughter of a Harbaugh; I have completed a surname study of all Harbaughs in the U.S. so that’s why Robert was in my tree.

After blogging about my hunt to find living relatives I was contacted by a great grand daughter of the couple. She and her father will attend the ceremony.

I’m sure other relatives of Robert are out there and I wanted to make sure that it’s not to late to attend in spirit if not in flesh. Here’s the link to attend the service virtually:

“Patrolman Robert Flenner’s summary has been included on the Memorial website at:
http://names.lawmemorial.org/officers/f/flenner42335.html

You may join us via live webcast for the Candlelight Vigil which will be held on May 13, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. by signing up at United By Light at http://www.unitedbylight.org
The Memorial will honor 394 fallen officers on May 13th, of whom 143 died in 2016.

Please forward this to anyone who may be interested!

Sincerely,

Carolie Heyliger
Memorial Programs Research Manager
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
901 E St, NW Suite 100
Washington, DC 20004-2025
Phone: 202.737.7136 Fax: 202.737.3405”

I will be flying back from the National Genealogical Society conference in Raleigh and am hoping there won’t be any flight delays so I can view the webcast.

Keys to Collaborative Genealogy


I’ve been so busy with the home renovations that I failed to supply the link to a recent blog that I posted for AncestorCloud. Developing a Positive Seeker Helper Relationship is a “how to” for effectively collaborating with others as you build your family tree.

AncestorCloud calls the folks who are in need of a record “Seekers” and those that assist as “Helpers.” Working with family members you may share both of those roles. Whatever responsibility you assume, the hunt is much more productive when the parties involved are together on the approach.

Less Than 6 Degrees of Separation

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 2 Oct 2016.

Yesterday I attended the Florida Genealogical Society’s sponsored seminar given by Judy Russell, CG.  Judy is always such a dynamic presenter!

Typically, when I attend a seminar, I somehow find a relation to another attendee and yesterday was no exception.  Judy had mentioned HIPPA  and there was a question from an audience member regarding the number of years that records are held privately.  I added that I had done some client work and discovered that I could obtain medically related records from a state facility and the court records regarding the medical issue were housed in the Florida State Library.  This was for an individual that had died in 1973, just 43 years ago.  The records I had received, though, were from a period over 50 years ago but the individual had continued to reside in the facility more recently than 50 years ago.

Shortly after there was a break and a woman sitting directly behind me introduced herself.  Her father had been the psychologist at the facility from which I had obtained the records during the time the individual I was researching was living there.  The attendee had just visited her father two weeks ago and had taken a trip to that area two weeks ago; she remarked that it looked the same.

It then hit me that I had once had a professor who also had been employed at the facility  I asked her if her father had ever become a professor at a local college in the 1970’s as my instructor had been the psychologist at the same facility in the 1940’s and 1950’s.  It appears that the seminar attendee’s father replaced the professor as her father had joined the facility in 1959 after an interim staff member was let go. So, I had connected with two of three psychologists that could have treated the client’s relative.

I live over 200 miles from the medical facility.  The professor had lived in my county but the individual I was researching, the woman I met yesterday and her father never lived here.  The father of the attendee lives over 300 miles away from me.  Yet our paths all crossed.  Definitely is a small world!

Citation Dilemma – Attributing Parent Marriage Info on a Child’s Ancestry Page

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 22 Sep 2016.

About a month ago I was contacted by an Ancestry user who inquired the following:  “How could George Mitchell Long marry Sarah Ford in 1807 in Tennessee when he wasn’t born until 1849?”

Excellent question!  I went to my tree and checked the birth and death dates for the couple and their child and didn’t see that I had an error so I suspected my tree was confused with another; that was my reply.

Yesterday, I received a more detailed response which brings up an excellent point.  Under sources, I had saved for George Mitchell Long (Jr.) his parents’ marriage record.  It does not show under Facts, of course, since the marriage took place before George Jr. was born. The record does not show Jr. or Sr. either since the Sr. hadn’t yet had a son so there was no Jr. at the time of the marriage. 

Why did I have the parents info on the son’s page?  I put the record there so when I write kinship determinations I can pull everything from one page.  I can understand how this would confuse someone looking at my tree and assuming I had the wrong information for that person’s page, though.  

I do this a lot, too!  I’m thinking about how the Social Security info provides kinship and I save to both the parents and their child.  That is clearer since it shows the relationship that a parents marriage alone does not do.  

I don’t know if there’s a better work around – if you know of one please let me know!  I’ve requested that Ancestry add a feature like the shoebox to the Facts page so extraneous information could be saved and retrieved easily but I’m not holding my breath on that.  

Originally, I put info that I just described under the Notes feature but I had to move it out because I was working on some lines with other family members and they couldn’t see the Notes section – it’s only visible to the owner.  For awhile, I then added  it as a Comment but  I wasn’t scrolling down and was missing my own comments.   I see that now a click on comments on the toolbar brings the comments to the right side for viewing so maybe I should go back to using that.  

I’d appreciate your thoughts and suggestion…

Genealogical Software and Identifying Family Relationships

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 6 Apr 2016.

Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending an all day conference hosted by The Villages, Florida Genealogy Society for the New England Historic and Genealogical Society (NEHGS).   I’m a member of NEHGS and I was interested in the topics, especially migration patterns .  Although I found all the workshops fairly basic I always take something away from any workshop I attend so I did get some new info to use when I revisit my tree AFTER I submit my portfolio.

I want to mention two points that I think were most interesting.  The first was during the workshop titled “Choosing a Genealogical Software Program” by Rhonda McClure.  I enjoyed Rhonda’s talk even though I’m not shopping for a new software program.  What was interesting to me was the number of attendees that couldn’t understand why someone would want to have their tree information on their own program.  Maybe I’m just old and remember the first genealogical software program I used which was on a cassette that was inserted into a TI-84 computer.  When we upgraded to Windows 3.0, I downloaded PAF from Familysearch.org and had to re-enter all of my tree info.  I didn’t have a lot, about 100 individuals, but it was time consuming and a duplication of efforts.

I moved to Family Tree Maker (FTM) because it was supposed to synch with Ancestry.com but as I’ve written in previous blogs, mine stopped synching and between the two organizations I could never get it working.  I then downloaded the Standard (Free) edition of Legacy in which to save my Ancestry.com Gedcom  and about once a month, I update Legacy by re-downloading the Gedcom.  I know Ancestry.com is in the works with synching with Roots Magic and maybe a resurrection of FTM.  I really would like a feature that synchs and I would go with that.  I do love the reports Legacy generates as I ended up purchasing the Deluxe version so I’d keep that, too.  The problem with not synching is one gets updated and the other doesn’t.  I have a lot of pdf’s and photos saved on Ancestry.com that’s not on Legacy so we’re back to time consuming and storage saving issues unless something is available to synch.

But back to why anyone would want to have their own software.  I live in Florida where we have many storms, often severe, which means that our power is off and therefore, no internet.  Even when there isn’t a storm we sometimes have no internet.  Like yesterday, with our wonderful new internet provider, Frontier, who can’t figure out how to provide the service we’re paying for (but that’s another story!)  With a backup generator I could still access my desktop, though it would be unlikely in severe weather that I would use a generator to do that.  I’d rather save the food in the fridge but I like options and if I would be so inclined, I could get to my information.  Although it’s also unlikely that Ancestry.com will cease to exist, one never knows.  Companies come and go.  I’m not trying to start a rumor – I think that is remote but in case, I want to have a backup.  I also like to have my tree available when I research away from home on my Kindle or laptop as in some facilities that I’ve visited, the wireless goes down when you’re in the stacks and it’s a problem.

The next interesting observation from the conference was how the Ancestry.com relationship feature doesn’t work.  I was surprised how many people rely on it.  Mine comes and goes and sometimes is so convoluted it’s hysterical. I’m not blaming Ancestry for that; it’s my twisted family tree where I relate to my husband back in the day.  It can’t figure out the connection and seems to take the long route.  I think I figured out why it does that.  Simply because of who I set at the home person.  If you’re having that problem just go to settings and change the home person to someone else and it may correct the problem.  If it doesn’t, then you’re going to have to figure out the relationship the old fashioned way.  I’d recommend bringing up the family tree view from the person you are trying to determine the relationship from and look and see where you recognize a common ancestor.

In a pinch you may find these links helpful: