Printing Your Family Tree From a Genealogy Subscription Site

I received a great question from reader Molly a few weeks ago that I think many of you might benefit from. Are you frustrated with the cost of subscription based genealogy sites that aren’t so great for graphically representing your tree? Maybe you are keeping all your finds in a notebook because of the high cost or perhaps, worry that the site will close taking your hard work with it.

I share the concerns as I want to have control of my research. That being said, I do pay for subscriptions to many sites because I need that for my work as a professional genealogist. Here’s some options if you do pay for a subscription to:

Ancestry.com – Click on “Tree” on the ribbon, then click on the tree you want to print (if you have more than one tree). I personally like the Horizontal View but you can switch views by accessing the tool bar on the right side of your screen that looks like this:

If you prefer a Vertical tree view just click Vertical. Your other option is a Fan Chart.

I then use my Snipping Tool and clip the tree. I can’t say it will look pretty but it works in a pinch. I take copies with me when I travel to share with family I meet or when I’m going to an archive that I’m not sure I can access my online tree.

If you want an attractive tree to display, Ancestry.com has teamed up with MyCanvas. Here’s the directions: https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/Printing-a-Family-Tree?language=en_US

FamilySearch.org – you know the site is free, however, everyone and their brother has access which can sometimes be frustrating when a well meaning person insists on adding wrong info to the shared tree. I recommend you clean up what is wrong and then print a fan or pedigree chart. The following is the steps from FamilySearch’s website on how to do that:

“How do I print fan charts and pedigree charts in Family Tree?

You can print fan charts and pedigree from Family Tree. FamilySearch converts the information into a PDF file, which you can save to your computer. 

Fan chart and pedigree chart options on the website or the mobile app

  • Seven-generation fan chart.
  • Five-generation portrait chart.
  • Four-generation pedigree chart.

The default print orientation is portrait. However, the landscape orientation better optimizes the presentation of your fan chart. When you send the request to the printer, you can change the orientation.

Steps (website)

From Person Page

  1. Sign in and click Family Tree.
  2. In the drop-down menu, click Tree. 
  3. Navigate to the person that you want to use to begin your chart.
  4. Click that person. Click their name to be taken to their person page.
  5. Click the Details tab.
  6. On the right, find the Tools section.
  7. Click Print Options.
  8. Click what you want to print.
  9. A PDF opens in a new tab. Use your browser’s print feature to print it. If your computer has trouble with the PDF file, clear your cache and cookies, or use a different browser.            

From Family Tree

You can print from the portrait, landscape, and fan chart views.

  1. Sign in and click Family Tree.
  2. In the drop-down menu, click Tree. 
  3. Navigate to the person that you want to use to begin your chart.
  4. Click that person. In the pop-up menu that appears, click Tree. The tree opens with that person as the person-of-focus.
  5. Open the kind of chart that you want to print: Portrait, Landscape, or Fan:
    1. In the top-right, click the chart on display (Portrait, Landscape, Fan Chart, Descendancy, or First Ancestor).
    2. From the menu, click the chart that you want to print. If you select Fan Chart, use the Options icon to specify what information to include. The information is visible in the printed document.
    3. If anyone on the chart has more than one spouse or set of parents, you can change which shows on the printed chart.
  6. Click the Options icon  .
  7. Click Print.
  8. The chart opens as a PDF in a new tab. Use your browser’s print feature to print it. If your computer has trouble with the PDF file, clear your cache and cookies, or use a different browser.            

On the FamilySearch website, Family Tree generates interactive PDF files for the 4-generation pedigree. You can add or modify information in it.

  • Changing the PDF file does not change the information in Family Tree. We recommend that you change the information in Family Tree and then print.
  • Below each name on the chart is a box with the letter F. You can enter an alternate identifier in the box and coordinate the people on the chart with printed family group records.
  • You cannot alter the width of each generation on the chart.  

Steps (mobile)

If your mobile device is set up to print, you can print the pedigree chart or family group records from the Family Tree mobile app.

  1. From within the Family Tree mobile app, tap Tree.
  2. Find the person that you want, and tap his or her name.
  3. If the person has more than one spouse or set of parents, you can change which shows on the printed chart.
    1. Tap Spouses or Parents.
    2. Tap the down arrow for the spouse or parents that you want to print.
    3. Tap Preferred Spouse or Preferred Parents.
  4. Open the charts option:
    • Android: Below the dark bar that includes the name, scroll to the right and tap Charts.
    • Apple iOS: Tap the three dots in the top-right corner and then tap More and tap Charts.
  5. Tap the chart that you want. 
  6. Send the chart to your printer:
    1. Apple iOS: at the top, tap the 3 dots and click Share. Then tap Print.
    2. Android: tap the 3 dots and then tap Print.

The Family Tree mobile app does not generate interactive PDF files.”

MyHeritage.com – You have two options for printing, you can print from their site or by downloading Family Tree Builder and printing from there. Here’s a link for the directions for both – https://www.myheritage.com/help-center?s=how%20do%20i%20print%20my%20family%20tree%3F

Next week I’ll blog about other ways you can print your family tree WITHOUT a subscription to one of the Genealogy Giants! Stay tuned.

Comparing AI Generated Narratives from Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, MyHeritage.com, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic, and FamilyTreeMaker

AI Generated Table

NOTE: This blog was posted on 25 Nov 2023 on the Empowering Genealogists with Artificial Intelligence Facebook group. Since my blog two weeks ago on using AI to write a narrative, I’ve been getting a lot of questions and comments. I’ve been told that AI doesn’t work with some sites; I have found that to be not true. I have also found a temporary work around for footnote/endnote citations that look more like what genealogists use – simply provide this prompt: Please write all footnotes in Chicago format style. You will have to go back and fill in some info, like the enumeration district for censuses, but it will be closer to what we are used to seeing.

I was interested in seeing how a narrative summary with endnotes from various sources that had similar data would be written.

I used the same prompt:  You are a professional genealogist and expert writer. Please write a narrative summary with endnotes from the attached file. (AI seems to place all sources at the end, whether you make the request as a footnote or endnote. This could be due to my requested writings being short.) The endnotes for the example below are funky looking because they are sources from sources, meaning the information that was being compared was the main source, like Ancestry.com, and not where the source cited in Ancestry.com came from.

Each request was made using a new message on ChatGPT.

The files I uploaded individually were:

Ancestry.com from Life Story with and without AI. AI selected “What was (region) like when (individual) was (event).”

FamilySearch.org Source/Detail and About

FamilyTreeMaker from Individual Report

LegacyFamilyTree from Other Reports>Individual Summary

MyHeritage.com side view of Family Tree for named individual

Roots Magic from Reports> Individual Summary

The information for all but FamilySearch.org was generated by me over the years. The data was always entered into Ancestry.com, then synched with RootsMagic and FamilyTreeMaker. A gedcom from Ancestry was uploaded to both LegacyFamilyTree and MyHeritage so no media is available on either of those sites. FamilySearch.org does include a minimal amount of information from me but most of the data was generated by family members.

I then gave ChatGPT the following prompt:

Today you are an expert data analysis and professional genealogist. Prioritize fidelity to the information below; dry recitation, avoid editorialization. Process the data sentence-by-sentence, from beginning to end. Extract this structured data: “Name”, “Relationship”, “Event Year and Location Baptism”, “Event Year and Location Marriage”, “Event Year and Location Children”, “Event Year and Location Death”. The response should have the header row in line 1: “Data From:”, “Name”, “Relationship”, “Baptism” “Marriage”, “Children Name & Birth Year”, “Death”. Column A should have the header row: “Ancestry.com With AI”, “Ancestry.com Without AI”, “FamilySearch About”, “FamilySearch Source & Detail”, “Family Tree Maker”, “Legacy Family Tree”, “MyHeritage.com”, “RootsMagic”. Enclose all cells or fields in quotation marks; omit, ignore, and avoid commas and other punctuation in the original data in your response in an attempt to keep the CSV error-free. Display dates in military format meaning day month spelled out and not by number and year. Display your response in a code window for easy copy-and-paste.

The results are attached above. I’ve color coded them to denote synch (pale green), gedcom (blue), not my own data (yellow).

Interesting how the diacritical marks are shown by Ancestry, Legacy, MyHeritage, and RootsMagic. FamilyTreeMaker omitted them. The apostrophe before and after August was originally quotation marks. Not sure if that is standardization issues or software/technical limitations.

I was surprised that Ancestry, which has the full location for events, simplifies to only provided county and state. The complete marriage location would be Baileytown, Westchester Township, Porter, Indiana. I wondered why Westchester Township was omitted and discovered I had never entered that in any of my generated trees. I had mis-entered death location as Chesterton Township instead of Chesterton, Westchester Township. This is a nice way to enhance and correct your data. (Chesterton is actually in three townships but the events occurred in Westchester).

All of the sites had the names of children. FamilySearch provided the most information (child’s name and dates). Legacy and FamilyTreeMaker both named all children. Not sure why RootsMagic didn’t specify. And now we know MyHeritage considers six children as “several.” Personally, I’d call that a handful plus!

I can see another use for this when trying to figure out where online public trees vary from yours and what source info (if any) they might have. It’s also a nice clean timeline that takes little effort to create.

Next I decided to take the Excel info, re-enter it into ChatGPT and give the original narrative prompt again. Since every narrative had been slightly different I wondered what the final product with the full information available would be. (I should mention I did the first narrative a few weeks ago in RootsMagic and there were three hallucinations but the rest I did on Wednesday and there were none.) Here is the compiled narrative:

Samuel ‘August’ Samuelson was a pivotal figure in his family lineage, with his life journey documented across multiple genealogical platforms. Born on January 3, 1839, in Stora Haddebo, Västra Harg, Östergötland, Sweden, Samuel was the son of Samuel Howard Erickson and Anna Elisabet ‘Lisa’ Torstensdotter. His baptism, a significant event in his early life, is consistently recorded in these sources, reaffirming the importance of his Swedish origins.

Samuel’s life took a significant turn when he married on February 17, 1871. While the exact location of his marriage varies slightly in records, ranging from Baileytown to Westchester Township in Porter, Indiana, it’s clear that this event marked his transition into family life in the United States.

The couple was blessed with several children, though the records differ in detailing their names and birth years. FamilySearch Source & Detail provides the most comprehensive list, including Johan Victor (1872-1921), John Louis (1873-1919), Alfrida (1874-1886), Ada Emilia (b. 1876), and two sons named Gustav Theodore (the first born in 1877 and died the same year, and the second born in 1879). This detail adds depth to our understanding of Samuel’s role as a father and the legacy he left behind.

Samuel’s life came to an end on January 14, 1908, in Chesterton, Porter, Indiana. The consistency of this date across multiple records emphasizes its accuracy and the end of an era in the Samuelson family history.

Endnotes:

  1. Baptism and Birth: Samuel’s baptism and birth details are consistently recorded across Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Maker, FamilySearch Source & Detail, MyHeritage.com, Ancestry.com (with and without AI), and RootsMagic.
  2. Marriage: The date of marriage is consistently noted as February 17, 1871, but the location varies slightly, as recorded in different databases.
  3. Children: The most detailed account of his children is provided by FamilySearch Source & Detail, with other databases offering varying levels of detail.
  4. Death: Samuel’s death date is uniformly recorded as January 14, 1908, across all sources, with slight variations in the location’s specificity.

Rootstech 2022-Last Day!

Photo courtesy of Family Search

Fear not, you haven’t missed Rootstech, the online FREE FamilySearch.org conference. Today is the last day and you can sign in to attend here.

If you are short of time and can’t attend lectures, don’t worry. The 1,000 talks will be available on YouTube. I know that I missed a keynote I had wanted to hear due to a commitment and plan to catch up on that soon.

I highly recommend, if you have only limited time today, to definitely check out the Expo Hall. Organizations, start-up companies, and well-known businesses are available at a virtual booth. Many offer discounts. Visit 20 and you can enter a Priceline drawing for a family trip.

Have a tree on FamilySearch.org? Then you might want to click the Find Relatives section of the event. Your tree is compared with other attendees who have their tree on the site. When an individual is matched, you and your kin can send each other a message. Last year I conversed with a Landfair descendant who lived not too far from me. This year, I found a second Leininger cousin. Who knows what absolute goodness that relative may have for you genealogically in their attic, basement or brain!

Join a Genealogy Interest Group

Nothing like joining an online group of people that share your passion for genealogy! With cold weather ahead, it’s a perfect time to put your head together virtually to help solve your brickwall.

Sure, it’s easy to do a Facebook search for genealogy groups but to save you time and find alternatives (because I know many of you are separating from Facebook), here’s a direct link to FamilySearch.org’s Wiki of all of FamilySearch’s groups – FamilySearch Genealogy Research Groups

To connect with a group on the FamilySearch.org website you must first log in. If you don’t have an account, click the “CREATE ACCOUNT” on the upper right corner of the screen.

A short intro video is supposed to be available but I couldn’t get it to come up. As an alternative, in the search box, type “FamilySearch community video” and a variety comes up to view.

Your options with FamilySearch are communities directly linked to FamilySearch, groups on Facebook and other groups that are independent.

I really wish I had known that when I was researching Barbados last summer – 5 different groups are mentioned and I would have loved to contact them with questions I had.

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.