Ancestry.com and RootsMagic Synch Now Available!


RootsMagic has just announced that their new version 7.5 has been released. I’m so excited to again be able to synch my large tree from Ancestry to my desktop. I know it works because I’ve been one of the Beta Testers and I tried synching my 70k+ tree, along with smaller trees I’ve done over the years, in the past two months. Kudos to the RootsMagic staff – awesome job!

Beta testers were sworn to secrecy as the hardworking IT staff at RootsMagic toiled away to remove bugs we found. I’ve been very satisfied with the company’s response to comments and their diligence in getting it right before releasing it to the general public. Not like the other company that shall not be named.

It does take a good 12 hours to synch my largest tree so be forewarned it’s not going to be instantaneous. When I say synch, I mean truly synch – as in all of my people, over 21,000 photos, 2000 stories and 248,000 records will be accessible to me on my desktop. When I change anything online at Ancestry or on my desktop, the trees will match.

What’s really cool is that RootsMagic also provides hints with FamilySearch, MyHeritage and FindMyPast. It is simple to use, too. If you already are a part of RootsMagic, simply update to the newest version by clicking the link they provide at Help – Check for Updates. Then, click the Ancestry.com icon on the ribbon (it’s between Family Search logo and the open book on the right). Sign into Ancestry with your sign on and password. I clicked “remember” so that I don’t have to redo it each time I log on to RootsMagic. You’ll have two options – upload your RootsMagic tree to Ancestry of download an Ancestry tree to RootsMagic. Although I have a gedcom of my Ancestry tree saved on RootsMagic, it did not have all the goodies I wanted – meaning the media (photo, stories, audio) so I selected the option on the right – Download an Ancestry tree. I began that process as I started writing this blog and it’s already 21% complete. Keep in mind, this is a HUGE tree so that’s to be expected.

I’m walking away from my tree now and knowing it’ll be all synched and ready to go tomorrow morning. Oh, joy!

DNA Father’s Day Specials


Unless you plan on waiting until Black Friday, which I’m going to do, there are two special offers available for DNA kits in honor of Father’s Day:

1. Ancestry DNA is $79.00, however, if you order it via Amazon.com and are a prime member, you don’t have to pay shipping. Sale ends June 18th.

2. MyHeritage DNA is $69.00 – ends June 19th.

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.

DNA Plan


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

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

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

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

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

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

Genealogy Evolution


One of my local libraries was spring cleaning and decided to give away back issues of old magazines. I picked up a few of Ancestry from the late 1990’s and last weekend, decided to sit outside to enjoy our beautiful weather and page through the September/October 1999, Vol. 17, No. 5 issue. Holy Smokes did it jar me!
The main feature was a story entitled “Victorian Rites of Passage” which focused on changing burial practices. Interesting but nothing new. In fact, I remember reading the article back in the day. I was about to just move on to the next magazine when I decided to thumb through the rest of the issue. Glad I did as I paused at “FamilySearch Online: The New LDS Web Site.” I had to stop and think for a moment. Has it really been 18 years since FamilySearch has been active online?! That was my go to place then and continues to be so today.
Genealogy has moved by leaps and bounds since home computers became a norm and we have continued to adapt to the changes. Prior to 1983 when my husband purchased our first home computer, a TI/99 with a genealogy program on a cartridge, all my work was handwritten group sheets and pedigree charts. I diligently typed the information into the computer program while I was pregnant with my first child. We had no printer so I don’t have a printout of those records but it did help me neatly organize names and dates.
By the time our second child was born a few years later, we had moved on to a Compaq system with a printer. Genealogy software in the late 1980’s and 90’s was primarily CD-ROMs which were pricy and always on my birthday/Christmas list.
As educators, my husband and I had FIRN accounts, a text only email and list serv, that we had used beginning in 1994. That was strictly for the education world and no genealogy information was available. Thanks to the free software at Kmart while back to school shopping, my family went America Online (AOL) in August 1995. I remember the date because our oldest had started middle school and wanted to know if we could also get a fax machine so she could fax group assignments to peers. We bought a HP printer-fax-scanner that lasted for years. That was the machine I used to scan all my family photos and documents.
There was little genealogy information available online during those days and I used the internet mostly for the AOL interest groups or emailing distant relatives mining for information. Most of that was done late at night as we had dial-up and if we were online, the home phone was out of service. We got our first mobile phone about that time but it was hardwired into our car and looked like a home phone of the day – cord and all!
I’m not sure when I first downloaded the LDS’ free Personal Ancestral File (PAF) but I remember grumbling about having to re-enter all the data that was stored in the old cartridge program. The Ancestry article mentions the release of PAF 4.0. I used PAF, World Family Tree and Ancestry Family Tree at the time. These were pre-Gedcom days. These were pre-smart phone days. These were limited search engine days. These were pre-gotomeeting days. These were pre-facebook-twitter-linkedin, etc. days.
Wow, isn’t it amazing how far the genealogy world has progressed in less than 20 years? Think about how far we’ve yet to grow. How exciting!

National DNA Day

On April 25, 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick’s article, “The Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid,” was published in Nature.1 Thus began the DNA revolution.

In honor of that anniversary, Thomas MacEntee has deemed April 25th as DNA Day and other organizations have come forward to offer sales and specials that may be of interest to you (Think of this as a genealogist’s own President’s Day sale!)

Ancestry.com’s price is $79.00. The offer ends April 26th. AncestryCanada price is 30% off ; AncestryUK is 25% off

MyHeritage is also offering kits for $79.00 but will bundle a kit with a subscription for even greater savings.

23 and Me is offering free shipping on their $99.00 autosomal kit with 10% off an additional kit

FamilyTreeDNA is offering Family Finder kits for $59.00

The last time these prices were this low was during the 2016 Holiday shopping season.

1 Watson, James D., and Francis Crick. “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid.” Nature 171, 4356 (25 April 1953): 737-738.

Saving Your Gedcom

Spring is just around the corner and at the top of your “to do” list, make sure you backup a copy of your gedcom. Yesterday, while hubby and I were painting away as the home renovations continue, I got a call from a former Client I had done some consulting work regarding his Irish ancestry. He called to thank me for making this year’s St. Patrick’s Day even more memorable as I had pointed him in directions that saved him time and money.

I had also recommended that he always save his Ancestry.com tree in another location and we had discussed several options. Why do I recommend that? I’m definitely not trying to start a malicious rumor here as I believe there is no problem at all with Ancestry.com but in this crazy world, you just never know. I’m a planner (and a little paranoid) so I think about the what ifs in life – what if I can’t pay for the service any longer, what if they get hacked and I can’t access my lifelong work, what if they get sold and the service becomes deplorable? (On a side note, my hubby thinks this is a little irrational and he’s probably right. I say some people fear immigrants and I fear losing mine!) So my concern led me to find alternatives for my trees.

My Client decided to download the free standard edition of Legacy Family Tree but he had difficulty following my Ancestry.com download instructions. I talked him through it remotely and understand why he had a problem which you, dear reader, may also encounter.

If you’re new to this process it’s quite simple, just follow these steps:
Log on to Ancestry.com
Click “Trees” on the Ribbon and scroll and click on “Create & Manage Trees”
Click “Manage Tree”
Under “Manage Tree” in the green box on the left, click “Download your gedcom file”

Be patient, it may take some time, depending on the size of your tree.
Once downloaded, if you open the file it will be gibberish so you must install a program that can read a gedcom. You have several options; I’ve listed those that I’ve used that allow you to save the program to your own computer and/or place in your own Cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) so you have complete control over the data:
Legacy Family Tree – free with the standard edition; small cost for a program that does more.
Rootsmagic – small cost and by mid-April it will sink with Ancestry.com
Family Tree Maker – small cost, used to synch with Ancestry.com but I experienced problems; supposedly works now.

Or, you can join another organization like Ancestry.com and save your tree there. I’ve used My Heritage as an alternative.

There are lots more options that I’m not familiar with – for a review of the opinion based Top 10 click here.

I haven’t done this but am exploring these as other options some day:
Familysearch – free, however, you are donating your tree to their genealogical community and although it is a backup, you don’t control it any longer. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and follow the directions under “Contribute Your Research”
Wiki Tree – free, however, when I tried to upload several years ago my tree was too large for them. Haven’t checked back to see if their system will take it.

Whatever you choose is your personal decision but you have to select one so you can access your data.

Here’s where my Client got stuck – on Ancestry.com, step 4 above, he clicked “Download Tips” and got information on deleting his tree so he panicked and stopped. That was wise as you DON’T WANT TO DELETE THE TREE!!!! Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

When I click on download instructions I get the following:

“If the “File Download” window does not appear and Windows automatically downloads a text file:
Right click on the “Download your GEDCOM file” button.
Select “Save Target As…”
A “Save As” dialog box will display. Select a location for the file that you will be able to find later, such as “Desktop.” Then give the file a name and click on Save.”

He didn’t need to follow the 3 steps above. Once he clicked “Download your gedcom file” he was able to successfully save it to his hard drive. He selected to install the free Legacy Family Tree program and I listened as he followed the Legacy prompts and uploaded the gedcom. He was quite happy when it was finished.

You’ll be really happy, too, when you know you’re hard work is safe and accessible. Personally, I think sitting on my derriere to download and upload a gedcom is the easiest spring cleanup to do!

We’re Related – What to Do if Your Tree is Too Large for the New Ancestry.com Ap

Recently I wrote about my inability to get “We’re Related” – the new Ancestry.com ap working. Every time I tried to switch my Main Tree to yes I’d get an error message.  I surmised that it was because my tree was too large and I’m still going with that theory.  I figured out a work around and if you’re interested, here’s what to do:

  1. I created a new database in RootsMagic7 (Click File – New) and made the file name:  Lori’s Lines.  You name yours whatever you want!  I disabled WebHints and clicked “I know where the file is.”
  2. Next I dragged myself from my Main Tree gedcom that was already uploaded in RootsMagic to the click person location. A pop up asks what you want to drag and drop and I selected “Ancestors of myself.”
  3. On this new database, I then went to File – Export and unchecked LDS information, addresses, multimedia, note formatting and extra details because I wanted to make the new gedcom as concise as possible.  I clicked “Privatize living people” and then clicked ok.  I saved the gedcom on my desktop.
  4. Clicking on the ribbon “TREES” on Ancestry.com, I used the drop down menu to click “Create & Manage New Trees.”  At the bottom, I clicked “Upload a Gedcom file.”  I chose the file sitting on my desktop and named the tree the same as the Gedcom.  I also made the tree private.  Why?  Because I only want people to use my Main Tree on Ancestry and not this subset tree.  Back in the day, I had several lines separated and when people would email me, I never knew which tree they were referring to.  I will never be doing anything with this newly uploaded tree other than using it for the ap so I also went to settings and made sure I turned off the hints.  I DO NOT want more email telling me they found something!  (Personally, I’m really tired of seeing the “Direct Bloodline” and pics of red crosses.  To me, those aren’t hints and I wish there was a way to filter that stuff out.) Then I clicked the little box that I accept the submission.
  5. You’re almost done!  Now, open the We’re Related ap on your phone.  (If you haven’t downloaded it go to Google Play Store on Android or whatever you do on IPhone and install it).  I then selected the newly uploaded tree – “Lori’s Lines” and slid the no to yes.  I selected myself as the person in my tree.  It stays on and works!

I decided to do the same for my husband’s lines and followed the same process above.  I did have to select myself as him on We’re Related because I wasn’t an available choice.  Remember, I had pruned these new Gedcoms to bare basics -on my tree only my direct ancestors so our marriage, siblings and children weren’t imported.  Can’t wait to get in a crowd and try it out!

Test Driving MyHeritage.com and Making an Amazing Find!

I had a free account with MyHeritage but I was never a subscriber until recently when a 50% discount offer was made for members of the National Genealogical Society.  I believe the discount is now offered for a limited time to everyone – check it out here.  I decided to give it a try and I immediately scaled a brick wall on my Duer line that I’ve recently been researching.  Here’s how I did it…

I downloaded my gedcom from Ancestry.com to my home computer and then uploaded to MyHeritage.  My tree is large so I received an email from MyHeritage once it had been loaded and was ready to go.  The following day I went on the site and it was easy to upload a site photo (I used my Genealogy At Heart logo that I keep jpg’d in Dropbox and my Google+ pic, added a blurb about what my research interests are and what I’m currently investigating.  I happened to write that my brick wall was to determine the link between John Duer and his purported son, Thomas.  Thomas died in 1829 intestate and John, in 1831, with a will that omitted Thomas, understandably since he was deceased, but did not include any of Thomas’ children.  That wouldn’t have been odd, however, John did include a grandson who lived out of the Trumbull County, Ohio area, who was the son of one of John’s deceased daughters.  Why include a grandson that lived in another state and not the grandchildren that lived next door?  Hmm.

I have researched probate, land and court records, cemetery records, tried to find Bible and church records, obituaries, collateral lines, biographies, area histories, and contacted area genealogical societies and libraries but found nothing. The census and tax lists just aren’t helpful since they do not show relationships that far back.

I put the research aside for a month but it’s been gnawing at me.  I originally made the connection of John and Thomas through the work of Edgar Duer Whitley, a gentleman who had found me on the internet 6 years ago from a Rootsweb posting I had made in the early 2000’s.  My tree proved lineage to Thomas but I couldn’t go farther back.  His tree showed lineage to Thomas’ son John who had a daughter, Maria, that I’m descended from. Edgar emailed me and kindly sent me an electronic copy of all his years of sleuthing.  He never had a citation, though, of how Thomas and John were related. Shortly after he emailed me he no longer responded to my emails.  He was quite up in age and I figured he was deceased.  Thus, I couldn’t know how he knew that Thomas was the son of John.

I would love to tell you that MyHeritage found the answer super quickly but that didn’t happen.  I actually didn’t receive any Record or Smart Matches from them.  I assume that’s because my uploaded tree is well sourced.

I decided to snoop around their Family Trees located under the Research category.  I entered birth and death location and death year info for Thomas Duer.  A number of trees popped up with displays similarly to Ancestry.com.  I clicked on the first one and didn’t find anything exciting.  The citations were all from Ancestry trees.  Ugh!

Then things got interesting – I clicked on Thomas’ wife Hannah as the tree owner had her listed as Hannah Preston.   I had her listed as Hannah Byrd.  When I went to Hannah’s page I discovered that she had remarried to a James Preston in September 1831 in Trumbull County, Ohio.  How had I missed that?  Interestingly, here’s how the marriage license is written:

 
“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, Family Search (https://familysearch.org:  21 Nov 2016), Trumbull>Marriage licenses 1828-1839 vol 2>image 55 of 181; county courthouses, Ohio.

Notice the right side records Hannah’s surname as “Dewer” but in the body of the text as “Duer.”  The record is indexed by Dewer so I never found it.  The tree owner had found it because he was descended from James Preston.  Putting in “James Preston” in the FamilySearch.org search form would have brought it up.

How do I know that the Hannah Duer is the wife of Thomas.  There was only one other Hannah Duer living in the country in 1831 and she was 10 years old, residing in Pennsylvania.  My Hannah and James were both born in New Jersey in 1775.  James’ first wife died in 1829 in childbirth with twins shortly after Hannah’s husband, Thomas, died.  Both had young children in the home so it makes sense they would have blended their families.

I went back to Ancestry.com, Familysearch.org and Rootsweb’s World Connect Project, to see if other’s had this information.  Nope!  Only the one tree on MyHeritage.  For me, this was definitely worth the price.

It looks like the marriage didn’t last long which could explain why no one else has the information on their trees.  By 1840, James was living with the children from his first wife and Hannah was living with one of her children as the tick mark in the age category for a female most likely is for her.  That age tick mark is lacking on James’ record.  In 1850, the couple remained separated per the census records. Hannah’s tombstone notes her first husband’s name, Duer.  James lies next to his first wife.  It appears that this was a relationship that both sides wanted to forget.  This could also explain why Hannah’s first husband’s purported father, John, omitted her from his will written in 1830.  I’m now searching for a divorce record.  This story just gets more interesting with every find! I’m very happy to have found this information that quickly with MyHeritage’s site.  Once I’m done with my Duer’s I’ll be searching their site for other clues on additional lines.  Happy Hunting!

DNA Lab Analysis – The Accuracy is Questioned

Recently I attended a workshop by Dick Eastman on Cloud Computing provided by my local genealogy society.  Dick spoke briefly, a lunch break was given and then the workshop resumed.  Although his information was interesting, it was the side conversations I overheard during lunch that piqued my interest.

I need to offer a disclaimer first – one of my children is employed by a large laboratory in the U.S. and part of the job responsibility is to trouble shoot and then correct problems that individual labs are encountering.   The troubleshooting my child does is regarding equipment and not results.  To my knowledge, none of that organization’s business is in DNA analysis.  Even so, this proud momma often hears from family and friends who got results back that there must have been some mistake – how could whatever level that was being measured be so high, etc.  It was with this background that I brought to eavesdropping on the conversation at the next table…

A woman was explaining that she had recently had her DNA results returned and she wasn’t matching with anyone in her family.  She is unmarried and has no children so none of them tested.  Her parents are deceased and she had no siblings.  By matching, she was referring to cousins.  A man at the table conjectured the lab had made a mistake and mixed up the samples.  Another attendee reported that his results matched with his children, siblings and first cousins but not with relatives from 3 generations back.  He, too, originally thought the lab had erred.  Then a match occurred with a surname which he was not familiar.  He thought he had somehow missed that line in his research so he went back over his records and low and behold, discovered that the matching surname lived in the same boarding house as his 2x’s great grandmother.  Hmm.  And yes, great grandma was married to who he had assumed was his great grandfather at the time.  There went all of his research on that great grandpa’s line!

Could a lab make a mistake?  Absolutely!  The likelihood, though, is not as great with the processes and procedures that are in place as is the entanglement of human relationships.

The following day I was reading a list serv to which I belong and an individual had posted how she had inadvertently given a female DNA test kit to a male relative.  The lab caught it and asked for clarification.

My advice if your returned results give you unexpected findings – get the test redone at another site.  Prices are dropping for the holidays so the cost is negligible.  There are “rumors” that Ancestry will run a special beginning November 25th for $69.00 to beat the FTDNA price of $79.00.  I don’t have that in writing so check around on the 25th to see what happens.

When the test results are returned, if they’re similar, well, you know you need to explore other lines to determine who’s the daddy.  If they are not the same, I’d contact the lab and share your findings.  You’d probably get your money refunded if the lab made the error and an offer for another test as a thank you for letting them know there is a quality control problem.  Personally, I’m betting on the relationships and not the lab as the culprit.