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 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:

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
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!


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 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 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 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 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 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 Gedcom  and about once a month, I update Legacy by re-downloading the Gedcom.  I know 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 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 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 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:

Angel Pie

Originally published on on 25 Feb 2016.

If you were looking through my family’s treasurers you would find loads and loads of recipes.  I have my grandmother’s favorite cookbooks, which take up a whole shelf in my den.  Non could read a recipe book like a novel. Seriously!  She’d start with the appetizers, underline, star, make changes and by the time she reached desserts had come up with a wonderful menu.  She loved everyone’s culture so I have recipe books from every nationality.  Adding garlic and olive oil, she somehow made them all Mediterranean but it always smelled like heaven when you’d walk into her home, especially on a cold winter’s day.

My co-worker is still going through her treasure trove boxes of genealogical records that she inherited from her grandmother. She has found 1 recipe, handwritten by someone names M. Bonnell who we haven’t figured out how the person is related yet.  I Googled the recipe and there are versions of it out there, evidently it’s an old family favorite in many households.  Haven’t tried it but may this weekend:


4 egg whites beat fluffy

Ad 1/2 tsp cream of tartar and beat stiff

Add 1 cup sugar, gradually beat till glossy

Spread in a greased 9″ pie pan

Bake one hour in 250 degree oven.  Cool

Spread with filling of:

4 egg yolks, beaten, light

1/2 cup sugar

5 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 teasp. Grated lemon rind

Cook in double boiler until smooth

Whip 1/2 pint of cream stiff

Sweeten slightly

Spread a thin layer of cream over baked, cooked shell.

Over cream, spread the lemon custard.

Spread whipped cream over top of all.


ACES and Genealogy

Originally published in on 22 Jan 2016.

Went to a training today on Cyberbullying and students’ ACE Scores were mentioned.  It got me thinking of what some of my ancestors’ scores would be!

ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences.  There’s a phenomenal TED MED talk about how the effects of childhood trauma resonate well into adulthood, effecting not only mental, but also physical health.  You can view the video of speaker Nadine Burke Harris here.

I decided this weekend, since it’s going to be cooooold and wet, that I would stay inside and keep the ACE test in mind as I look at my tree by working backwards.  By that, I mean I’ll look at cause of death and then investigate the individual’s early life.  Anyone dying of heart disease, lung cancer, or diabetes may have had a high ACE score.  Was it a one parent household?  Was the parent an alcoholic?  I can check that by looking at some of the newspaper articles that I’ve found and poking around some more for those that I don’t have much info.  I won’t be able to fill in many of the other ACE questions but the results of this little experiment may prove interesting.  If you’d like to obtain an ACE Score or learning more about it check out this website.  Make sure, if you go to the site you scroll down to obtain a Resilience Score as that’s important, too!

Personally, I think genealogy is a lesson in resiliency.  Whenever things are tough I know my ancestors had it a whole lot worse than I do.  I’m thankful to live in this day and age, even with all the stressors we face and most of all, I’m really thankful that my ancestors had the resiliency to carry on under adversity. If they hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here!

Tree Error in Ancestry – An Update

Originally published on on 9 Jan 2016.

Here’s an update on my blog, Faulty Family Trees – Erasing a Deadly Mistake, from 7 January regarding one of my co-worker’s mother being reported dead on Ancestry when she’s very much alive.

Of the 2 family tree’s that gave her a death date, therefore making her birth date and place visible, along with her marriage date and place, I received an email message from one tree owner who did delete the death date.  Unfortunately, although I had asked him to, the tree owner didn’t make the individual private so some of her info is still showing:

I cut off the rest of info, above, as I don’t want to publicize the year and place which are still visible.   I emailed him again to ask that he make the individual private but he didn’t respond.

The other tree owner never responded so all information is still displayed.

The other problem is if you do a search of the individual’s name under Family Trees this shows up as public:



Even though one of the tree owners removed the wrong death date it is still visible in the search.

Since 3 days have passed, no telling when the other tree owner is going to respond AND needs to update their search results, so I called Ancestry.

They were experiencing heavy call volume so I waited about 5 minutes.  Spoke with Carnel who said “due to privacy, we can’t do anything.”  He acknowledged that “this happens all the time.”  Ancestry will update an error in an index but won’t touch a family tree.

I read Carnel Ancestry’s privacy policy: ” We recognize that the information about living family members can be sensitive so we have safeguards to hide living individuals within family trees, the AncestryDNA experience, and other areas of the site.”

Carnel couldn’t explain to me what safeguards Ancestry has put into place to protect the living when they are marked as dead.  I understand why he couldn’t because they have none.

I then asked what happens if the individuals we’re trying to contact never respond to the email we sent or don’t renew membership.  Carnel said they still maintain registered guest status so they can always add and edit their trees.  That means, if they ever read their email and follow the directions, they can correct the wrong information.

Carnel told me that I could contact – email only, can’t talk to a real person! and they will email the individuals.  What a brilliant idea (note sarcasm).  We’ve already done that twice.  Although Ancestry has phone numbers for these people, they don’t call them.  Heaven knows, Ancestry will protect the PRIVACY of the living who make errors but not of the living who are trying to preserve their own PRIVACY.

Also was told that Ancestry does update all of their records but there is no time frame for that (could explain why I have so many ghost leaves).  Eventually, Ancestry will get around to doing that so when someone is searching this individual’s name in a family tree the corrected tree won’t display the death date that is still showing.

Will let you know how this plays out…

Faulty Family Trees – Erasing a Deadly Mistake

Originally published on on 7 Jan 2016.

I’ve written before about the difficulty in correcting record mistakes but I didn’t expect the situation I’m about to describe as hard to fix.  Boy, was I wrong!

Right before the holidays a co-worker’s adult son went online and discovered that his grandmother was reported as dead on someone’s tree.  He had the free trial membership, was inexperienced with how the program worked and emotionally impacted by the wrong info, especially at holiday time.  He notified his mom what he discovered.  She told him she had seen the same information a few months earlier when she, too, did a trial membership.  The information was so off that if the woman had died in the 1950’s when the tree said she had two of her children would have never been born.  My co-worker asked me what to do to fix the information since it was upsetting to her children.

I gave her’s contact number and suggested she call Customer Support and explain the impact the wrong information was having on her family.  She did so and was informed that policy does not allow for corrections to information placed by members on their trees.  She could file an appeal but it would most likely be wasting her time as the company only approves the removal of “offensive” information.

I don’t know about you but I find it offensive that a loved one has been reported dead when it’s not the case.  I also find it offensive that personal information on living individuals is displayed when the company policy is supposedly to keep that information private.  In this case, the co-worker’s mother’s name, date and place of birth, and marriage information is available because of the incorrectly added death date.  I also find it offensive that the company knows that their member tree information is inaccurate yet provides no recourse to correct wrong information.  If you’re allowing inexperienced individuals a free trial offer with little direction who then abandon what they input you’re going to have wrong information available for a long time.  I also find it offensive that the problem will continue since the company does not provide simple to follow step by step directions for newbies to eliminate the possibility of errors.  I also think it’s offensive to charge a hefty membership fee when they know their site doesn’t work correctly, is error filled and the number of records they tout as available includes wrong information.  Since we’ve all gotten valuable information from each other I’m not advocating  making all trees private; I’d be happy if they added a disclaimer banner when someone is searching on the member trees to remind people to be cautious.

I told the co-worker yesterday I’d see what I could do.  Last night I looked and wasn’t surprised to see that the error has now spread to a second tree.  Of course it would, since people blindly click other’s information believing it to be accurate.  I emailed both tree owners explaining the error, its impact on the family and asking them nicely to remove the death date which would make the individual’s other info private.  One of the tree owners included in her biography that she’s a beginner so I’m hopeful she responds and I can educate her on how to avoid this problem in the future.  She was on the site yesterday so that’s a good sign for a quick resolution (if she figures out that she can get messages from other members!).  The original source hasn’t been on for over a month so I can see that as going through the appeal process which ancestry did not spell out to my co-worker.  Co-worker said she had previously emailed the individual but the wrong info remains.  I plan on calling today to find out what the appeal process is and I’ll keep you posted on an upcoming blog.

Now that Ancestry owns Find-a-Grave I’m wondering if there will be negative changes at the Find-a-Grave site as well.  I’ve always been pleased on how the administrator at Find-a-Grave handled correcting errors.  All you needed to do was email the organization and let them know that you attempted resolution with the memorial owner.  My second cousin was able to get his mother’s information corrected within 2 weeks by showing that both he and I made attempts to resolve the problem before contacting administration.  Why can’t follow that process is a mystery.

Genealogy and Your Genes – Experiencing Trauma Can Last Longer Than a Lifetime!

Originally published on on 21 Nov 2015.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive compensation.

A week ago I attended The Science of Character Learning and the Brain Conference in Boston.  Lots of theoretical and not a lot of practical info given but one keynote session keeps reverberating in my mind.  Although the research findings are still being examined, according to Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, the line between nature and nurture is blurring.  This has implications for a genealogist and reinforces our research practices!

How many times have you re-discovered that you had several ancestors in the same or similar career that you engage in today?  Of course, if you live on the family farm that wouldn’t be surprising but hubby and I have both found that we have educators back into the 1500’s.  Who would have thought?  My mom was a bookkeeper and may dad worked in a steel mill and farmed.  Husband’s dad was a chemist and his mom, a secretary.  None of our grandparents were educators, or so we thought.  I did uncover that my paternal grandmother taught for a brief time prior to her marriage but that discovery was long after I became an educator.  Every time I complete a career interest inventory it points me into the direction of education so I must have inherited traits from a long list of predecessors.  Hmmm.

When I think of genetics I think of gender, body type and eye, hair and skin color.  I also think of diseases, such as hemophilia, Tay-Sachs and sickle cell.  As a counselor, I’ve never really thought about the fact that past traumatic experiences genetically influence the future.

Ginsburg mentioned a study regarding Holocaust victims and changes in their genetic makeup being passed to their offspring and their children’s children.  I’m not talking about horrific medical experimentation, either.  I’m talking about changes resulting from living during the time of the Holocaust.  You can read about the study here,

What does this mean for genealogists?  I think it drives home the importance of not just searching for records pertaining to a particular individual but also finding out about events occurring during that individual’s life.  Knowing the family’s socioeconomic status  can shed light on the person in more ways than just a marriage license ever could.  Here’s an example:

My mother, a product of the depression and a daughter of immigrants, had to leave school to support the family.  Later, as a single mother, her limited job choices hindered her earned income.  My husband’s family also experienced the depression geographically close to where my mother resided.  His maternal line, though, was not as severely affected as my family.  His grandparents were all born in the U.S. and none of their children had to quit school.  There was a tough time on his paternal line but the children were younger than my mother and with the help of extended family, bore less of a detrimental long term effect.

Am I cheap (my husband likes to call me thrifty instead) because I inherited a cheap gene due to the depression and my husband did not inherit one?  According to the research findings that’s possible. (Well, maybe there isn’t a cheap gene but gene markers may have been altered.)  I suspect changes occurred on the X chromosome as my daughter is cheap, too, and my son is not.  Mom could have passed it to me and I passed it to daughter. My maternal grandmother and great grandmothers were definitely not frugal!  Since I wasn’t there I can only go by hearsay but they didn’t like the monetary constraints of the depression at all and once the family’s finances improved, went back to spending on home improvements, new clothing and trips as they had done before the depression happened.  I can validate that by looking at pictures and items purchased by them over their lifetimes. My mother self reported many times as I was growing up about how stressful it was to live through the depression.  As the article mentioned, stress can influence genes.

Stress results not just from socioeconomic status.  Other areas need to be explored, as well.  Think about church and organizational affiliations (imagine the stress of being shunned!), military involvement (my dad stationed in Alaska was not as stressed as hubby’s uncle who was a prisoner of war), education (struggling academically or being forced to quit vs. being a valedictorian), relocation (being alone instead of having family and friends as support), and weather disasters (starting over after the Chicago Fire or Hurricane Katrina) could all alter a family’s future.  These examples are limited – there are lots of stress factors that I haven’t even mentioned.

Genealogically best practice:  we need to keep stress events of our ancestors in mind as we research and examine the stress level for the identified event.  A broken car axle would stress me out today.  I could have been killed or severely injured when it broke so a threat to my safety would have occurred, the financial impact would be painful and the lost time from work would make me anxious.  A broken axle on my ancestor’s Conestoga wagon, however, could have been far more stressful than what I would have experienced today.  No wagon shop on the prairie, safety threats would also include having to face severe weather, wild animals and unsavory individuals.  My ancestor’s stress level would far exceed what I would be feeling.

I want to caution, Dear Readers, that the implication of experiencing stress does not mean that future family members are doomed for eternity.  This blog was certainly not meant to be an excuse for being stuck in a detrimental family cycle.  There are many ways to cope with stress and traumatic life experiences that you or perhaps, an ancestor, had experienced. Definitely seek help if you’re affected!

All this reflection on stress also got me thinking about the changes being made to the website. If you haven’t heard, by December 15th only the “new” Ancestry will be available.  Perhaps I’m giving more credit then they deserve but maybe why they are featuring life events now is due to their revamped dna service.  I don’t know that for sure but it will be helpful if they can improve upon the no brainers featured of say, the years that World War I occurred.  If Ancestry could identify events that might be specific to the area where the ancestor lived would be just awesome! Until that time, we need to hunt down the events ourselves so we can better understand our families.

With the holidays approaching I will be letting you know about genealogy gift items that may be of interest to you.  Some of these flexoffers may provide me compensation.