I have uploaded by DNA results to several sites and you could benefit from doing that, too. The reason is simple – think about why you tested with the company you chose. I tested with 23andMe because I wanted to find out the amount of Neandertal ancestry I carry and that feature wasn’t available through the other major sites (Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com).
Some folks may have selected a company based on pricing. Others may have received a kit as a gift. In the U.S., Ancestry.com commercials are everywhere but that’s not necessarily true in other parts of the world. You stand the greatest chance of maximizing your DNA results by uploading them to sites that accept results.
Last week, I received an email from MyHeritage.com that I have several new DNA matches. Typically, they are 3rd to 5th cousins that I’ve connected with in the past. This time, was different. Luckily, I recognized the surname as one of my maternal line’s great grandmothers of which I have scant information as she had died young in childbirth.
Immediately, I clicked on the “cousins” tree which only contained 10 entries, most of which was private but I could see the geographic region and I knew that this proved promising. I wrote the cousin an email and was happily surprised when he responded a few hours later. We wrote back and forth all week. The irony is that he lives just a little over 100 miles from the homestead but has no knowledge of the family. Why? His grandfather had relocated the family during World War II and never spoke to his children about the family’s history. The grandfather died a few years before the cousin I was corresponding with was born so he could never ask him directly. There is now only one elderly relative, in his 80’s remaining. He plans on taking my family stories to the elder. I’m anxiously awaiting his knowledge.
No telling what you might discover from connecting with a family member across the pond! DNA matching makes it easy and inexpensive.
Recently, my St. Patrick’s Day Ancestry.com special DNA deal results were returned. I had tested with Ancestry years ago prior to autosomal’s availability. When the price for autosomal dropped, I decided to test with two other companies to gain access to their testing population and opted to have my children test with Ancestry. I decided to purchase the Ancestry test because the price was right ($49.00), I wanted to go back one generation further than my children could do in search for my Morrison and Adams brick wall lines, and I wanted to play with Ancestry’s new DNA feature, Thru Lines, without having to wade through my husband’s side that my children inherited.
I’m pleased to connect with one Morrison and five Adams’ family members. Although this certainly doesn’t resolve my brick wall it does support the direction I was going in with my research. I suspected that my Edward Adams was the grandson of Sylvanus Adams of Sussex County, New Jersey but not being able to identify Edward’s father, I couldn’t prove it. My hunch was due to the interesting male name of Evi. After Edward died intestate in Perry County, Ohio in 1822, an Evi Adams living in the area served as administrator. Evi died a few years later and I never was able to find his father, either. Evi was about the same age as Edward so I surmised that they were either brothers or cousins. There were several Evi’s in Sylvanus Adams’ lines before and after him so I felt strongly that Edward’s brother/cousin must be related somehow. DNA seems to be showing that’s correct but I still haven’t found that one document that’s out there somewhere to prove it.
Although I’m pleased with the results I can understand how people who are new to genealogy and DNA give up after getting their results. I know that the ethnic percents are only as valid as the pool used to compare findings. In Ancestry’s case, I’m 51% German. I don’t know how that’s possible since I would have gotten half of my DNA from my mom, who was full blooded Croatian and half from my dad, who was a mix of German, Irish, English, Welsh and Scotts. Ancestry shows me with NO Irish, English Welsh or Scotts. According to Ancestry, I’m only 4% French. 23andMe had me as all French and no German.
I not only understand the pools from which the sample was compared differed, but the history of the areas. My dad’s people were from the Palatinate, the German-French area that experienced bloodshed for years and went back and forth between the two countries. So, am I French or German? I realize I’m a mix of both and I’m fine with that. If I didn’t understand how this works, though, I would be totally confused.
Recently Ancestry got into trouble with their latest DNA commercial. I believe their well loved commercial about the man trading his lederhosen in for a kilt should have been an eye opener. I’m thinking that man needs to test elsewhere to get a fuller picture of his ancestry.
When I was a newbie genealogist I loved the hints that Ancestry.com provided. Now all of the online sites offer the same. I was surprised to recently hear that a colleague of mine still happily accepts every hint that is shown. Her reasoning was that she could always sort out later if something was amiss.
“Later” like in never is what I say. Here’s a perfect example of why you need to be careful of those hints:
The hint above flagged for my uncle, George Joseph Kos who did live in northern Indiana and was born in 1921. Family stories say that, although his attendance area high school was Lew Wallace in Gary, he somehow un-enrolled himself and re-enrolled in another high school at the urging of a football coach. Of course, his parents found out about it and my grandmother was livid with all parties – the zoned school who allowed a minor to remove himself, the new school and coach for enrolling him without permission and my uncle, well, for being my uncle. So, the hint looks legit.
My trusting colleague would have clicked “save” while I would have clicked “ignore” if I didn’t have time to check it out. Ignore is a way to really save the hint to look at later while getting the leaf to disappear.
Now I’m going to analyze if this is a correct document for my uncle so I click “Review” on the hint and this displays:
Wow, that does look legit. According to the family story, it was Roosevelt High School where he wanted to play football but he was 15 when that happened. I could rationalize that he was 15-16 years old during the 1936-1937 yearbook so the age is feasible. But Roosevelt High School was in Gary, not East Chicago, a nearby town. Could the towns boundaries have changed? We see that so often in genealogy. I’m still wary so I’d click view and this is what is displayed:
So, the Hint was really for a George KOSTIN not George Kos. This was not my uncle. Then I remember, there were two Roosevelt High Schools. Duh!
Hints are just that – hints – they are not guaranteed correct information. Use with caution.
I’m going to be helping out at my local genealogy society’s Ask A Genealogist Day today so I’ve got to make this brief. I had the strangest connection a few weeks ago and I wanted to share the weird workings of the internet.
I have an online presence beyond this blog and my website since I keep my trees public. Usually I get connections through Ancestry.com, followed by MyHeritage.com, then through my website which is my historical home for my blogs. Sure, I get connections through other social media platforms and occasionally, from someone Googling an ancestor and my info comes up but the latest connection was by using Newspapers.com.
An unrelated gentleman from Scotland is writing a book on those who left Beauly in the late 1700’s. He discovered through Newspapers.com that I had saved a newspaper clipping from the Philadelphia [PA] Packet dated 9 Oct 1775 regarding the ship, the Clementina, arriving and that there were many workers ready for indenture. I suspected that my 4th great grandfather, John Morison, was on that ship. I could be wrong, though. There were several John Mor[r]ison’s in Philadelphia at the same time and I saved every shred of evidence on all of them hoping to sort them out and discover which was my real great grandfather.
I had mistakenly thought the author who connected with me had found my information on Ancestry but he said he didn’t have a subscription and his local library didn’t have one, either. I was flabbergasted when he told me that he was using Newspapers.com and it flagged that I had saved the article and provided my contact info. I didn’t know that was even an option.
I’m glad it was as he has been a wealth of information and let me know that my Morison family most likely wasn’t always using that surname as two Morrison families originated in the mid 1600’s from other lines. He also gave me lots of information on another Morrison family that emigrated on the same ship. Peter, his wife and daughters were most likely connected with two other Morrison teenagers on the same boat. Peter had been what we’d call today a game warden overseeing salmon. I had thought, with no proof, that the families emigrating were all related but couldn’t find proof. It’s because both boys later joined the Revolution and were taken prisoner in New York. Both parents requested visitation to them while they were held on a prison ship. The author was able to provide me their baptism records, too. I had no idea that not all children were recorded in Scottish church records since parents had to pay for the recording. Looks like Peter had the eldest children recorded but stopped after the 3rd child.
The author was a wealth of information and I’m so glad we were able to correspond for a few weeks sharing our findings and analyzing what we had found together. We’ve reached the conclusion that ALL the Morrisons in Philadelphia from 1775 to 1800 were related. There was a father-son both named John who must have come some time earlier; both were in the metal trades. Then the next wave of Morrisons came on the Clementina. We suspect that John, a weaver, was the brother of Peter. John came with a wife and son. The wife was noted to be a spinster by 1790 so I believe he had died. She and the adult son died in 1793 from the “plague”, a mosquito epidemic most likely yellow fever. Peter’s son, John, likely is the man who comes and goes from the records as he was a ship’s carpenter. I still haven’t figured out who my John is but I’m working on it (just not today). Even so, I’m closer because of this unlikely connection thanks to Newspapers.com. Happy Hunting!
Two weekends ago I tried using My Tree Tags on Ancestry.com and I think you’ll like this new feature. For years, I’ve wished that there was a way to flag my ancestors so I could create various lists of my folks. This feature will do that and more.
To try it for yourself, click on Extras on the ribbon (it’s the last entry). Then, click on My Tree Tags. Notice it’s in Beta so it’s still being improved. I had no problems with the feature so the IT Department must have worked the bugs out long before they made the Beta available to the general public.
I know, you’re thinking, “Why should I waste my time Beta testing when it isn’t a finished program?” Simply because you still have time to provide your insights to make the program even better! You have the option to give feedback using a short survey.
Once you click Enable you are good to go. The first change you’ll notice is that the former search button for individuals is now called Tree Search. When you click it, the Tree Search looks different then it did:
This threw me for a minute but it works the same – just type in the individual you are trying to located in the search box and they’ll display as a drop down as they did before.
To use My Tree Tags, click Filters and it will display the tag choices:
Each Filter contains more items to explore. I personally like the Custom filter as I created one I titled “Lineage” which allows me to identify the people I selected to join various lineage societies. In the Custom feature, you can even write a description of what the title means to you so others, if your tree is public, can better understand your definition. I’m thinking of identifying careers as I’d like to analyze those that followed a particular career path, such as teacher, minister, or farmer.
Once you’ve selected tags, they will display on the Facts page under your ancestor’s identifying information in white letters in a blue box:
Only 3 tags will show. If more were selected a + and a number appears on the right; click to display the other tags that were selected:
Now here’s the awesome part – say you want to find all of your military people. When you click on Military it will display all others in your tree that you’ve identified with the same tag:
For the life of me, I can’t figure out how the list is ordered; it’s not by alpha of last name or by dates. It doesn’t seem to be by how I identified people, either.
If you goof, it’s simple to correct an error. The edit button is the pencil in the circle at the end of the tag. Click it and change – add or delete – whatever you’d like.
IMHO, the best part is that you can identify if you are working on a line and making a hypothesis. I became so frustrated with brick wall (another tag you can select) ancestors that I was then researching (currently researching is also a tag) that I stopped adding to my tree as I did the research because someone would copy the information and before I knew it, it had spread like a wildfire. I’m hopeful that tagging will alert someone that the information is not verified yet.
If you decide you don’t want to use the feature, go back to Extras on the ribbon and disable it. You’re back to where you were.
My online family tree is aging and just like we humans need as we get older, regular check ups are important to maintain its vigor. I think I just discovered a different approach to identify errors to keep my tree robust.
My first computerized tree was done on a TI99 home computer. I had to insert a cartridge to view the genealogical program (which is now in my attic). In 1995,we had switched over to a desktop system and we were online thanks to AOL. I downloaded PAF from FamilySearch.org and spent a few weekends transferring my info from the old software to the new. I’ve been transferring that same tree as it grew ever since.
Around 1997, I created a tree on Rootsweb (now owned by Ancestry.com). My old tree is frozen in cyberspace and I cringe at some of the errors I’m not able to correct. I believe that’s the only tree I’ve got stuck in time.
Over the years I’ve transferred the root tree to various online sites – Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, MyHeritage.com, FindMyPast.com, Geneanet.com, WikiTree.com, and AmericanAncestors. I’ve used Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic, and Family Tree Maker software to help identify and correct errors. Last weekend I found another source to fix mistakes in lines I haven’t looked at in years.
Geneanet.com allows you to view tree statistics, whether you’re a member or not. Simply click the down arrow next to your tree’s name which accesses the menu. Under the heading Family History, click Family Tree Statistics. Although the number of people in your tree with the same first name is interesting, it’s not going to fix errors. (As an aside, the largest number of my peeps are named John and Mary, just like my grandparents). To find errors, click “The 20 who lived the longest.” There I discovered I had an ancestor that lived over 500 years and he wasn’t named Methuselah. Clearly, I had entered John Clark’s death date in error, typing 1918 for 1418.
The next individual, Thomas Eaton, had lived for 311 years but not really. He had been pruned once from his line so I deleted him. He was just an unlinked soul lost in my tree.
Now click “The 20 oldest persons still alive” and you’ll be able to identify folks you know have passed but you haven’t found their death date. My oldest was Melba L. Jones born in 1899. Using FindAGrave, I discovered she died 2 Jan 1993. I like how this feature helps me keep my tree current on lines I don’t check often.
I like that only 20 questionable individuals are provided at a time so it makes the task less onerous. It’s still a pain to maintain trees at various sites so I’ve been keeping one current which is linked to my desktop and then every 6 months, update the others. In the interim, when people find me at the other sites, I just redirect them to my always maintained tree.
Now that I’ve Spring Cleaned my tree, I’m ready for more research. Happy Hunting!
I tried Ancestry.com’s new feature, Thru Lines, last weekend and I’m not impressed. If you aren’t sure what it’s about, you can watch their brief video here. What set me off was the comment “For a few short minutes and without doing any research, you can have a whole new network of ancestors and living relatives.” Not in my opinion! If only genealogy were so simple.
Here’s the issue I have and which I wrote in my survey result to Ancestry – say everyone in your family believes that your shared Great Great Grandpa was John Smith Jr.. You all know this because it said so in an unsourced family book written in the 1940’s. Some of your older relatives even remember the author and he was an honest, hard working genealogist. He knew that John Smith Jr. was his Great Grandpa because his mom told him so and she never lied. So there, it’s the truth and nothing but the truth.
Now along comes Ancestry’s Thru Lines and since everyone copied everyone else’s tree on Ancestry because it’s simple to do so, everyone has John Smith Jr.as their 2nd time Great Grandpa and now everyone’s DNA results PROVE it. Except, it proves nothing at all.
All Thru Lines proves is that you are all related. If everyone has a wrong name listed everyone with shared DNA will connect to that wrong name. Perhaps John Smith Jr. was adopted. All of the shared descendants are related to the adopted individual but not to John Smith Sr. Thru Lines is going to give you other relatives you “might” be related to. This just perpetuates the wrong information.
I tried it with one of my adult children’s DNA results and it connected to my husband’s grandmother. Was that accurate? Yes, because far flung family members have also tested and they connect to grandmother’s parents. We also have the paper documentation of the relationship. All Thru Lines did in this example was confirm what my documentation already showed.
Two other features are in the works, New and Improved DNA Matches (I can only hope) and Tree Tags, which is something I’ve been wishing for a long long time. Tree tags is adding info you’d like others to know, such as – “This is not a confirmed relationship.” I would absolutely love that. I actually wanted a color coded option so I could make my confirmed relationships in green and my tentative ones in yellow or red. I understand that some folks have difficulty with color so tagging is a nice alternative. As soon as I’m able to test these features, I’ll blog my opinion.
Ahh, the balance of the universe! Maybe it’s just me but I’ve noticed lately that the more that the web grows genealogy sources, the more sources I relied on in the past have disappeared. I’m definitely not a doomsday prophet but I found my experiences yesterday as a wake up call to change some of my practices in the future. If I don’t I’ll be facing disaster someday. Here’s what happened…
I was going back over a line I hadn’t visited in five years. When I do that, I start with my gateway ancestor, in this case, Mary Ann Hollingshead, and I recheck my saved sources. I predominately use Ancestry.com so I click on the Gallery feature and look at the documents I previously uploaded. Then I go to the hints area and look at all that I had saved as “Maybe” or “No.” I always keep the hint setting on but my tree is so large I don’t have time or desire to check every hint that populates. Weekly, as part of my genealogy cleaning chores, I go through any hints that are shown over the previous seven days and just dismiss them. They don’t really go away; they are saved under the individual that the system matched them to. That’s a nice underused feature, I believe, as you can always go through them at your leisure to examine each one closely when you have the time.
Next, I go back to Facts and check the citations that I had linked to the timeline. For sources that I created from outside of Ancestry.com records, I always but the link so that I can easily review the information and note if anything has changed. That’s where I noticed the first of the serious changes to the web.
I went to Francis Hollingshead and was checking the link I had made to FamilySearch.org for England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975. I used to be able to see the actual page of the document but not any longer:
As you can see on the right side above, I must go to the Family History Center to view. Now I wish I had saved every FamilySearch.org document I have ever found and that’s a lot! It never dawned on me that the information would not be readily available from home. All I could think of was Job 1:20 “…The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away…”.
I did notice that some of the documents were available through FindMyPast.com so I could (and will) go there to snip and save them to my Gallery but not all can be found that way, as the one above shows.
As I went farther back on the Hollingshead line I discovered that British History Online now charges for many documents that once were available for free:
Back in the day, they asked for support through a donation but now they have Premium, Gold, 5-year Gold and 10-year Gold access. What I was trying to reach was Gold level. I only needed one document so it wasn’t worth it to me to purchase a subscription. I had saved in my citation a transcript which is fine for my purposes but if I had known it would go away, I would have snipped and saved the original and transcribed under it. Live and Learn!
Yes, I did try the Wayback Machine to see if I could gain access to these docs and the answer is unfortunately, no. For the British History Online document, only once was it saved and that was in 2015 but you had to log in to access. I tried my old log on but it no longer works.
The next issue I discovered was of a document I had saved in my Gallery. I had the page snipped but I had neglected to include the book’s title page. No worries, I thought, as the link was for Internet Archives. Of course, I happened to hit them just as they went down for maintenance so I couldn’t get the information I needed. The book wasn’t available through any of the other online sources so this just required me to wait awhile to get what I needed.
It’s not just older documents that are no long accessible. Google+, which ties to my Blogger account, is disappearing soon. With it goes all of my former reader comments. I’m glad that I save all of my posts to my genealogyatheart.com website so they will still be available but unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about the comments.
Genealogy is definitely a practice in patience. Sometimes it’s years before you find the record you seek or connect with a long lost relative that holds the key to discovering a generation back. With organizational changes, patience needs to extend to how we save the documents we find at the time we make the discovery. I’m fortunate that there were only a few records I wasn’t able to access in the 18 generations I checked. I’m hopeful, going forward with the procedure changes I plan to implement in my practice, that won’t be an issue again.
UPDATE 23 Feb 2019: I spoke today with a FamilySearch rep at a local genealogist conference I attended. He stated that some of the records are no longer available from home due to copyright agreements with the holders of the original data. He also stated, if you have found yourself having difficulty viewing some of the records online because they become fuzzy, simply record where you are then click out of the database and go back in. When you restart go directly to the record you left off and it should be viewed clearly. If not, you can report it.
I read 2 articles this week (Thanks to the NEGHS Newsletter) that at first look appeared to be unrelated but as I processed the information, realized that they were indeed related. The first, Life span has little to do with genes, analysis of large ancestry database shows by Sharon Begley clearly surprised me. Not having a medical background, I assumed, wrongly it appears, that genes were a much stronger indicator to longevity. The article is also interesting in that the data analyzed most likely included my people and yours, if you are an Ancestry.com member. I have no problem with my tree info being shared for research purposes but if you do, and you didn’t take the time to read the disclaimers when you were signing up, you need to be aware that your information is being used by third parties.
The second article, ‘She was like a second mother’: the German woman who saved our Jewish family history by Simon Finch drove home to me how fortunate my family has been in leaving areas of unrest in the nick of time. Those that bravely fought for freedom, from Jacob Wilson Parrot,the First Congressional Medal of Honor awardee from the Civil War and my first cousin three times removed, to two Purple Heart recipients (WW I and II), George Bryant and George Willard Harbaugh, my husband’s grandfather and uncle, all made it home safely.
Family mortality has always interested me. Aside from the occasional accident, such as my great grandfather Frank Landfair falling off a train platform, to my Great Uncle Francis Earl Landfair, being struck my lightening while standing outside talking with friends, I attempted to deduce longevity by averaging the prior three generations of family members, taking into account gender, and adding two years for men and three for women to account for medical advancements. This seemed to work for both my maternal and paternal sides. I guess my data set was too small to make an inference.
I’d be interested to hear if you’ve looked at your ancestor’s longevity and drawn any conclusions. Let me know if you have!
It’s October and my surroundings are beginning to look creepy with Halloween quickly approaching. One thing that greatly disturbs me more than the skeletons and witches on every corner is my Ancestry.com ghost hints.
If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, a ghost hint is the term used for those pesky hints that were once available and no longer are. There are several reasons for their occurrence – an individual may have uploaded media and then removed it or made it private or Ancestry may have discontinued the database for the hint.
Every so often I go through the hints as sometimes I miss a new database that Ancestry has added and the hints can give me some information I may have missed. The ghost hints, though, remain and give a false number of the hints that are available. I’ve clipped below the grayed out hints that appear on my All Hints page:
As you can see above, there are 7 and all of them are records. When I look at the hint counter, however, it shows that I have 14 hints, 8 of which are records and 6 that are photos.
Clicking on Records or Photos just gives me the message ” You currently have no photo hints for Reset filter to see all hints ”
Also, look at the count over the leaf of 99+ on the upper right corner. I don’t have over 99 hints as I actually have zero. That count has stayed the same even after leaving the program and signing on a different computer the following day.
This lack of accuracy scares me; how many other data counts are off that we aren’t aware of? How do we know that filtering we set when doing a search is correct?
Ghost hints aren’t a new phenomena; I first noticed them in June a few years ago and when I called Customer Service was informed the problem must be on my end with cache in my computer. Yeah, sure. The following May, at an NGS Conference, I asked one of the Ancestry reps about the situation as my ghost inhabitants had grown. He explained the reasons which I mentioned in my first paragraph and said the company was working on cleaning up the problem by periodically doing a refresh. The problem is the refresh does not work for all the hints as I’ve had the 7 above for YEARS.
I’d really love for Ancestry to stop being a ghost host and send these phantoms to parts unknown.