Cuban Genealogy

As I mentioned in my previous blog article, last summer I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful island of Cuba.  At the time, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was since travel has now recently been rescinded.  In my opinion, that’s a shame.  I do understand it’s a political decision although I do not agree that we should not be on speaking terms with a neighbor.  Cuba is only 90 miles from our nation and populated with people who are family to many of our citizens.  Genealogywise, this separation saddens me. 

I have not previously blogged about my trip because it was for pleasure only.  I longed to go there since I was three years old; my parents used to watch I Love Lucy and although Lucy’s fake crying set me off, I was enchanted with Desi’s accent and musical skills. My mother told me he was from Cuba and in my preschool mind, everyone on the island – an island, no less – now that added to the mystique! – was as talented as Desi.  Someday, I was sure to visit.

Unfortunately, as I grew up, our countries grew apart.  Sure, I spent every Wednesday at 10 AM hiding under my desk at school under the false pretense of being protected from a nuclear blast that was certain to hit the Chicago area from the disagreement but I still longed to go there.  (As a side note, I realized how stupid the idea of these drills were one June morning after school had just closed for the summer.  I was sitting on the back porch swing of my grandparent’s home reading a Nancy Drew mystery when the air raid siren blasted.  On that beautiful late spring day it occurred to me that if a real nuclear event happened, I’d not likely have the protection of my school desk.  I only lived one block from my elementary school, I could even see my first grade classroom’s windows from my bedroom, and I felt quite safe on the swing at home.  I went inside and asked my grandmother what she did when the siren went off and she said she ignored it.  My immigrant grandmother was a wise woman and I decided she was correct; hiding under a desk wasn’t going to spare my life.  That was the day I started questioning authority.)

Fast forward to last year when a family member decided to take a continuing education course on a cruise ship sailing from my area.  I eagerly agreed to go even though we’d only be in the city of Havana for about 8 hours.  I scheduled an almost all-day tour for several reasons; the primary being I wanted to hear about the island from a native’s standpoint and not from my country’s.  I also knew that like other Caribbean nations, Cuba operates on its own time so if I wanted to go to the fort, for example, it might just be closed at the time of my arrival even though it’s supposed to be open.  (You live in Florida long enough and you get used to this concept but I understand it’s maddening if you aren’t used to it.) I figured a tour group would know what was open so I didn’t waste time.  I also wanted to insure safety as my Spanish stinks and I’ve been known to say things that was not what I intended.  I definitely did not want to be an ugly American. 

I’m going to spare you my travelogue of that day and get to why I’m writing about Cuba now – this is what you need to know if you are of Cuban ancestry and unfortunately, didn’t go when you could to research your family.  Although it will be more difficult now, it’s still doable with some work arounds. 

Do not beat yourself up because you missed the chance.  I once had lunch with a Russian genealogist who told me he had difficulty obtaining records back when his country was an ally.  One morning on a visit to an archive he was told the records he sought weren’t available.  He told a Cuban colleague and later that day, the colleague went to the same repository and came out with the records the Russian had requested.  If you’ve been into genealogy for any length of time you probably had a similar situation like this happen to you.  Get a different government employee and you get a different answer. Sure, prejudice could have been involved but I’m sticking to the first scenario as it’s happened to me.

I am no expert in Cuban genealogy although living in my area, I have friends and colleagues of Cuban descent who have shared how they have gotten the information they needed.  My visit confirmed what they have told me.  Here’s my advice, which is mostly commonsense genealogy practices:

·         Make sure you get all the information you can about your ancestors’ FULL names and location before beginning so you aren’t contacting the wrong archives and wasting time. By full name, I mean the hyphenated Hispanic name.  You don’t have to have the complete name but the more you have the better. (For example, Pablo Picasso’s complete name was Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso.  If you only had Pablo Ruiz y Picasso that’s fine).

·         If you don’t write well in Spanish, hire a translator.  Although most people I encountered spoke English well, that doesn’t mean they read it well so you’ll increase your chances of getting the information you request by clearly communicating in their first language.  Don’t rely on online translators; you want to be clear in the Cuban dialect so hire someone.

·         Be patient, like I said earlier, Caribbean time is not the same as U.S. time so you may have to wait a LONG TIME for a response.  Include a self-addressed stamped envelope to increase your chances of success. How long will you wait?  According to my guide, months.  This was regarding my question about obtaining cemetery records to the main cemetery in Havana pictured above.  As it is still being used, going through old records is not considered important and the request will be filled when burials slow down.  No telling when that would be; there was funeral mass in the chapel when we were visiting. (Here’s another aside – if you’ve been following me for years and realize that every time I go on vacation I end up at a cemetery you are correct.  I can’t explain it – I just do!)

·         It is not recommendable to go online and hire a genealogist.  First, there isn’t a lot of trust between our countries which filters down to individual interactions. There is also the economic impact of the most recent decision that clouds the situation.  Looking at the list on the Association of Professional Genealogists you will not find one genealogist who resides in Cuba so I advise you to not find someone online who says they’re going to help you.  If you have no family members in Cuba you can contact to go and obtain the document you seek, contact the CubanGenealogy Club of Miami who can guide you. (I have attended one of their workshops and was impressed)

·       Be prepared to be disappointed as most buildings in the country are not air conditioned so time, humidity, and flooding are just some of the issues that affect the document’s condition, especially in the rural areas.  It would have been nice if the Vatican had copies of the church records, since the country was predominantly Roman Catholic but that’s not the case.  (Come to think of it, it would have been nice if the Vatican had copies of my needed Croatian records that aren’t on Familysearch so know this isn’t just a Cuban records problem.)

·         IMPORTANT CAVEAT – don’t bother trying to get property records.  Why?  My guide mentioned that there was a concern that Americans were going to try to reclaim the property that their ancestors left behind.  I assured her that was not what was the motive is in obtaining property records from a genealogical standpoint.  My family member had witnessed this comment and reminded me last month that one of the new U.S. decisions was to support reclaiming property.  Personally, I just don’t understand that – I’ve got family that fled lots of wars and rebellions across the globe and I’d never go after their former farms and homes.  If a dear reader would like to help me understand the logic in suing for what was abandoned, please comment.  I see this as the large impediment of obtaining genealogical records.  

If the recommendations above are overwhelming, realize the information you seek may not even be available in Cuba.  Cuba was a Spanish colony until 1898 so you’re only looking for Cuban records between 1898 and whenever your family arrived in the U.S.  Many of the Spanish records are in Spain. Personally, I’d start there.

Identifying Tree Errors – A New Approach

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!

Here Today Gone Tomorrow, The Ever Changing Access to Online Records

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.

Using an Index to Find What I Didn’t Know Existed

Genealogist purists do not like using indexes. I ‘m glad I’m not a purist as I recently found an interesting record by accident while using an index.

Monthly, I get an email from Familysearch.org with updates about the site. I always check out the section that lists the newly available online records. I find this especially important since the organization has stopped mailing microfilm to be viewed locally and a trip to Salt Lake City doesn’t seem to be in my immediate future so I need to keep checking to see when records of interest to me are available online.

One of the new links was to Ohio Wills and Estates to 1850: An Index by Carol Willsey Bell. I have many Ohio settlers from the early 1800’s and I wanted to use the index to make sure I didn’t overlook a probate record.

I understand the danger of simply citing an index as there might have been an error in recording the information. Personally, I view indexes like Ancestry hints. I might get lucky and I might not so let’s roll the dice and hope for the best.

I was searching for a probate record for Edward Adams, my elusive 3rd great grandfather who showed up in Perry County, Ohio about 1815 when he married Mary “Polly” Dennis Hodge, widow of John Hodge who had been killed in the War of 1812. Edward died shortly after being elected county auditor and was replaced in October 1822 according to the History of Fairfield and Perry Counties, Ohio.

I was delighted to find an entry on page 1 in Ohio Wills and Estates for Edward (Estate-1825 Perry Common Plea Minutes 64, page 10, page 68) and an Evi on page 2, who I was hoping to link together. I also found a Samuel I had not known about. One of Edward and Polly’s sons was named Evi, an unusual male name. The adult Evi in Perry County would have been about the right age to be a younger sibling of Edward so I was excited to see an entry for both men. I had also found a Susan Adams in the 1830 census in Perry County and I wondered if there was a connection. I’m now thinking she was the wife of Samuel. Reviewing my notes I noticed I had never checked the Common Plea Court records in Perry County and that’s where the index was directing me.

I quickly returned to the search engine at Familysearch.org and opened the microfilm for the Common Plea Court. I click on Minutes v. A 1818-1820 Minutes v. B 1820-1822 and without paying close attention to the middle of the title, noticed that the last entry was for 1828-1831. What I missed was that not all the records were filmed. And of course, some of the records I needed weren’t there.

Obviously, Bell had seen the complete records when she was recording the information for her book. This gives me hope that the records are somewhere out there where I may one day find them.

The limited info I did find showed that Evi was the administrator for Edward so I was pleased in that connection although it did not state their relationship. But I’m not disappointed at all because instead of finding what I was seeking, I discovered instead a court record for my 4th great grandfather, Peter Drum (1750-1837), which was on the page where I thought I’d find Edward’s estate info.

1
I’m unable to find the bill of indictment so I don’t know what he was pleading guilty to. I did look up the fee of $4.19 and in converting it to today’s dollars – it’s about $20.00.

Here’s the weird part…the day before I had emailed the Fairfield County, Ohio Pioneer Society for a followup as earlier this year, I had submitted a lineage society application for Peter Drum and I had not heard from the organization. I could have used the above record as further proof of his residence but I hadn’t known it existed. The day after I found this record I received a response that the application for Peter Drum was accepted and I would receive more information in December.

Now I intend to go page by page through these court records to see if there are other interesting discoveries to be made. So glad winter is coming!

1 Court records, 1818-1854 Minutes v. B 1820-1822 Minutes, Peter Drum, Familysearch.org (https: familysearch.org: accessed 28 Oct 2018) p.2.

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!

Santa Genealogists – Beneficial Tips from the Jolly Old Elf


Genealogists need to take a tip from Santa Claus – we should be “making a list and checking it twice!” No, not to find out who’s naughty or nice, although that does make family history interesting and more entertaining to pass on to relatives. The list making and checking is critical, especially when you acquire information from someone else. Here’s what recently happened to me…
Through this blog, I made contact with a second cousin I had never met. He put me in contact with several other cousins and we all shared info on a brick wall ancestor to see if putting our heads together could resolve the dead end.
Three of us live far away from where the ancestor had resided; one of us lives within reasonable driving distance. That individual had gone to the courthouse and pulled the probate records years ago. As I reviewed the paperwork making a list of all that we had discovered, it struck me that our common ancestor would have been left an orphan. I decided to go on FamilySearch.org to see if records were available for the area as the driving distance cousin, with family commitments and the approaching holidays, couldn’t find the time to make another visit.
I must have been a good genealogist this year as oh, what a wonderful early present I found! The probate file was now online and contained the guardianship information. The file was 40 pages – the cousin had only 3 pages. I’m not sure if the courthouse employee only copied the last 3 pages or my cousin only had cash for those pages but the entire packet was a gem for me because I discovered my 3rd great grandfather in another line was the appraiser. His signature was all over the documents.
Lesson learned – ALWAYS go back to the source to see if the information is accurate and complete. By my making a list of what records we had found, I was able to identify other places to check. We haven’t climbed over that brick wall yet but we’re getting closer!
Have a wonderful holiday – I’ll be writing again after New Year’s Day.

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!

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!

Thank You Familysearch.org!

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

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

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

A New Way to Identify Name Variations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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