Thursday, July 13, 2017

Genealogical Kindness Needed

Seriously, folks, I've had my fill this week of dealing with difficult people.  IMHO, life's too short for bad manners.

I have a very large online public tree on several sites.  The reason it's large is because I've done surname studies over the last 20+ years for several lines with unique names - Duer, Harbaugh and Leininger.  Taking the last family history book published, that would be 1947 for the Harbaughs and 1973 for the Leiningers, I've add all the info into the tree from those sources and then tried to prove the info was correct by adding additional citations.  I then tried to update the original works going forward so that family could reconnect.  The Duer information was unpublished; I received it from a family historian about 2010.

The gateway ancestor's for all of these lines died in the 19th century or earlier so some of those included in the tree are far removed from my direct line.  I don't personally know these people.  I made the tree public to help reconnect and aid in correcting any errors.

Three times this week I have heard from distant relatives and the comments/emails were rude.  One woman told me my tree was confusing her.  I offered to help but needed to know what was confusing about it.  She said I had no pictures for a person she was interested in.  Huh?  I understand visual learning but really, you're complaining because there was no picture.

Later that day, someone posted a comment that they were sure I was wrong about a gateway ancestor because they had their Y-DNA done.  I responded to please share and I'd be happy to look further.  No response.  I wouldn't have been concerned if the individual had emailed me privately but to post a comment and then not respond when someone is willing to check further is wrong.

That evening, I hit the trifecta when someone commented on another line that he was certain "you must have made this up."  I was taken aback.  Did you not look at the citations?  Did you not see my comment that mentioned I concurred with other researchers that it was possible two brothers were confused so I included both names as the possible father?

 The old adage we can choose our friends but not our relatives applies here!  That last comment ticked me off so much that I considered making my tree private.  I haven't done so because I think the good outweighs the few thoughtless individuals.

Thanks, dear readers, for reading my rant.  Please help me spread genealogical kindness this week.  It's sorely needed.

I will be taking a much needed vacation so will not have a blog post until I return the end of July.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Artifacts on eBay - A Must Read

I recently read a fascinating story in The Weekly Genealogist, the online edition published by about stolen artifacts being sold on eBay.  The blog, Rare Colonial Documents Found on eBay, originally published by the Smithsonian, is a must read if you search for documents on eBay as I do.

Although I knew that each state has laws regarding record retention, it never occurred to me to search them when I discovered something that just wasn't quite right.  I assumed (ahem, wrongly!) that the document must not be an original or had been disposed by the government and some nice person saved it from a dumpster.

I discovered my several times great grandfather's indenture records on eBay a few years ago.  There were other individuals listed on what appeared to be a court ledger page.  The price was steep and I didn't buy it.  I did cite where and when I found it and using the snipping tool, saved a picture of it.  The seller was overseas and it never dawned on me to report him/her. Now I know better.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Goodbye, FHL Microfilm Rental!

So another technology bites the dust...

If you haven't seen the latest news about renting microfilm for use at local Family History Libraries, then you need to check out this link NOW.

I don't rent as much as I used to because the records for the areas where I do the most research are online at FamilySearch or it just never will be and I've had to rely on methods other than microfilm.  My last film request was in March and I've been going through my pending projects  to see if there's any films I'll need soon. Of course, I can't predict the need of the next Client.  Genealogy Murphy's Law will result in a new Client meeting on September 1st for a microfilm need that I wouldn't be able to obtain.

My advice if you're planning to rent is don't delay - you've only got 2 months left and  most likely will be a flurry of activity on the shipping side.  After you get the email from Salt Lake that your films have shipped, make a note to call your local library a few days later to verify the films have been received.

A colleague has concerns that not everything will be available online due to legal agreements previously made with the record holders.  That means, waiting patiently until 2020 will still not allow you to view the films online.  In those cases, you'll have to either travel to Salt Lake or hire someone local to do a look up for you because those films will not be shipped locally any longer.  If your research is extensive and you're on a budget, it would probably be best for you to do the research in person.  My favorite time to go is late winter into early spring as it's not so busy.  I'm thinking I may skip the NGS Conference next year and travel to Salt Lake instead.

If you can't make a trip and need to hire someone, I'd highly recommend asking your local genealogical society for referrals.  If they haven't used anyone, then check out the Association of Professional Genealogist's site.  APG members sign an ethics agreement and in the unlikely event your have a problem, you can reach out to APG for assistance.

I have such mixed emotions about the end of microfilm.  I'm not sure what my attachment is; I sure didn't shed a tear when the world moved from Beta, 8 tracks, my Garmond GPS, or hardwired phones.  Maybe it's because I have so many memories of so many places and so many finds that make me a tad sad about the demise.  Perhaps it's becoming one with the record in a dimly lit room and the comforting whirring sound of the machine as I rewind it speedily.  I'll miss sharing in a happy dance when the stranger sitting next to me makes a phenomenal find.

Of course, there's so many reasons why this move is a good thing.  It's just, well, like the old song says, "Breaking up is hard to do..."  RIP Microfilm Distribution.  1859* - 31 Aug 2017.

*Based on the first patent issued to Rene Dagron

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 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 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!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Genealogy Finds in Your Own Home

With our interior home renovations just about finished, it was time for hubby and I to clean the garage.  Yuck!  Everything we didn't know what to do with, weren't sure if we wanted to keep or it really belongs there got left in any available space.  We were going to start working on it last month but we were just too busy.  Last Friday was D-Day and we're still plugging away.  The heat, mosquitoes and never ending rain have made progress slow, not to mention the Craig's List postings and removals that helped us feel better about tossing stuff.

I never thought cleaning the garage would unveil genealogy tidbits but it has.  Our first "find" was an ancient mahogany chair that we've been dragging around from house to house for close to 40 years.  My husband stripped it but never finished it as we never knew where to put it.  I've got space now in the living room and told him I wanted to have it professionally refinished.  He reminded me we have a mate in the attic.  Completely forgot about that!  That will go into the entry as it's smaller.  And this will be the only item we're bringing back into the house (famous last words).

The chairs belonged to an unknown Harbaugh family member and we're guessing it would be his great grandparents, George Frederick.and Margaret "Maggie" Long.  I was hoping whoever I found to refinish them would be able to give me a rough age estimate, however, the price I got was $900.00 so it looks  like I'll be doing them myself.  One chair hubby stripped 45 years ago so that'll be a quick finish; the other, not so much.

For Father's Day I bought my husband a large tool chest.  He's got a zillion tools, many that have been handed down.  As he cleans and places them in his new chest, I'm hearing recollections of their original owners.  He comes from a family of builders so there were lots of tales.  It's funny how objects - dusty, rusty and stained - can stir old memories from the brain.  His dad's WWII ammunition box held his extra trowels which reminded him of his dad's attempt at securing bricks to build a fireplace right after the war.  Dad enlisted the help of his youngest sister who helped him carry bricks nightly until they had enough to complete the job.  Stuck to the ammo box was a magnet.  I was surprised to learn that Uncle Carl once worked for a magnet factory and gave some to my husband to play with when he was a child.  That was the first time I ever heard that story!

As the family historian, I thought I knew just about all of the stories but I was wrong.  Next time you're trying to learn more about your family I highly recommend cleaning the garage.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

History Unfolded - A Newspaper Project

Last week, I blogged about a summer volunteer opportunity through the New England Historic and Genealogical Society.  A new challenge was just posted so I added my guess and the reason why.  If deciphering transcriptions aren't your style, here's a new project that needs your help...

History Unfolded is creating a searchable newspaper database to measure the pulse of regional newspapers during the 1930's and '40's regarding news about 30 Holocaust events.  If you love to read old papers, then this is for you!  You may use or a local paper in which you have access.  For more details - check out their website.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Scaffolding Your Research

Happy Father's Day!  Check out my new blog post for AncestorCloud - Scaffolding Your Research.  I've got to get the link corrected in the article.  It should be ICLD.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

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 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.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Transcription Challenge

The Transcription Challenge is a unique way to volunteer.  As transcribes the Massachusetts:  Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston Records, 1798-1900, they have discovered some very difficult words to transcribe.   Knowing the old saying “Many hands make light work” and “Two heads are better than one” are true, weekly during the summer, a new transcription challenge will be posted with the undecipherable area circled in red.  So far, 4 challenges are available.  All you need to do is take a look and make a comment of what you think is written for the appropriate number of the problem’s name.   This is a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon!  Give it a try…

Sunday, June 4, 2017

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 autosomal test 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’s new DNA feature as they recently began accepting data from other companies.  MyHeritage provides the largest ethnicity estimates of all current test 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 on a weekday 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.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Snapping Stones - Tips for Photographing

Each Memorial Day when I was growing up, I’d accompany my family to tend the graves of ancestors I never knew.  Small flags stood at attention on the graves of veterans and the scent from flowers filled the air. 

My grandmother had a “cemetery box” in the trunk of her car; it contained hand clippers, a trowel, garden gloves, a rag and a paper bag.  Grandma would don the gloves and clip any tall grass growing around the stone, putting the clippings in the paper bag.  If weeds were sprouting my mom carefully pulled them out or used the trowel to remove before tossing them into the paper bag.  Finally, the stone would be wiped down.  I don’t remember seeing either spraying the stones with a cleaning product but I had usually lost interest by that time and was wandering around looking at the pictures on nearby markers.

In the older part of the cemetery where my great grandfather lay, many stones contained photos of the deceased.   Frozen in time, I was fascinated by the faces staring out at me.  Many were in uniform having died during World War I.  Others were like my great grandfather who had died in the 1919 flu epidemic.  Who knew from which others had succumbed?  My imagination would kick in and I’d make up stories about their demise.  I was usually in the middle of some epic made up tale when I was called to return.  Back into the car we drove to yet another area of the cemetery to pay respects to family friends and former neighbors. 

In all those visits it never once occurred to me to take a picture of the stones.  Assuming they would always be there, why would a photo be needed?  By the time I had entered by teens vandals had toppled many stones in the older part of the cemetery and those that couldn’t be moved were damaged by having the picture obliterated by blows.  My great grandfather’s picture was one that was destroyed.  We had a copy of the photo but the stone was never repaired. 
Thank goodness for Find-A-Grave, Billion Graves and individuals who have posted gravestone photos on other sites.  If you’re planning an upcoming cemetery visit, make sure you snap a picture during your visit and upload to preserve the record.  Although we don’t think of a tombstone as a record, they are and need to be cited just like paper documents.

Here are a few hints for photographing stones:
  • It’s okay to tidy up the stone a bit but avoid major scrubbing.  I’ve added a spray bottle and bleach tablets to my cemetery kit.  Placing one tablet in the bottle and adding water, I can spray the stone to remove algae and dirt quickly.  I sometimes need to use a soft bristle brush, too, but be gentle! 
  • If someone has placed flowers or other adornments in front of the stone it’s alright to move them for the photo but please carefully replace when you’re done.
  • For upright standing stones – get down in front and level with the stone.  It reduces distortion and if the photo is taken close up, minimizes your shadow. 
  • For flat stones – try to take the picture from directly above making sure you don’t include your feet.  If you can’t do that, please crop the photo before uploading. 
  • Back up and take a photo of stones adjacent to the one that is of interest to you.  Possible relatives, neighbors or friends may have been buried close by and might be of help when you are researching paper documents when you return home.  This method may alert you to a child who died between census years or an uncle who came for a visit and passed away unexpectedly.  

Remember, just because it’s engraved in granite doesn’t make it so!  Conflicting evidence does occur; an error could have been made just like with paper.  If the cemetery office is open, stop in and ask for a copy of the records.  To save the staff time I often photograph them in lieu of having a photocopy made.  Being thoughtful goes a long way!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Preserving Your Genealogy

At the recent National Genealogical Society conference, there was a lot of chatter about preserving your genealogical records after you’re gone.  I have to disagree with those that say if you don’t cite your work it will be tossed.  I don’t know about you, but my family could care less where I find what I find.  Unless the finder has been bitten by the genealogy bug, no one will understand the importance of citing and analyzing sources. 

That said, I’m definitely in favor of following the standards.  I think you should do the right thing but that is not going to save your years of effort from other destruction by surviving family members.  I firmly believe there is only 3 ways to make sure that your research is preserved but you must plan ahead:

  • Donate your work locally and/or electronically so that future folks you don’t even know can benefit.  These are the people who will not value your work if you didn't follow the standards soundly.
  • Publish now and get your work in as many hands as possible.  It’s quite simple to publish an eBook or you can print from whatever word processing program you use and have copies made at one of the big box office supply stores.  Just type "how to publish an eBook" in's search engine and many free books are available to get you started.  The holidays are around the corner and who knows?!  A recipient might just get interested.
  • Getting a family member hooked is not as difficult as it sounds.  The idea here is to match the living person's passion to an ancestor.  My kids could care less about their Great Grandma Elsie's china.  I understand that; we've used it for years as they've grown so it's not so special. Will it be preserved?  Most definitely, but it's just not that exciting to them.  On the other hand, they're into medicine and research so learning about the life of that great uncle doctor in the 1800's and a 5th great grandfather who was a chemist really gets them listening. The old tool box is a draw for our son while the old thread is a tie for my daughter to her 2 x's great grandmother.  An attachment develops when you can relate so find the connection and you're work is safe!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Neat Ideas from the National Genealogical Society Conference

Here are a ten of my most favorite experiences, most of which were FREE, at the National Genealogical Society Conference in Raleigh:

©      FamilySearch gave away #52Stories designed by @KenSikate – they are 3” x 3” cards with questions to help you get started writing your story.  I think they could also be used as an icebreaker activity for a family reunion or a starting point when interviewing a relative.  Visit FamilySearch for more writing ideas.
©      Palatines to America had a useful handout containing a What is the Relationship? Form.  If you get confused between Great Nephews and 3rd Cousin Once Removed this handy dandy template would be helpful. 
©      The National Archives’ (NARA) updated handout listed the links to their most used records.  I sometimes get lost on their site so this “Just the Facts, Ma’am” was nice.
©      NARA also hosts History Hub, an online site with blogs, discussion boards and community pages for anyone interested in history.  That was news to me and a place I plan on checking out.
©      Did you know that the Federation of Genealogical Societies publishes a quarterly electronic magazine for only $15.00/year?  That’s just $3.00 per issue!
©      I joined the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society as I want to get back into researching some of my hubby’s Long Island folks.  As a member, besides the wonderful journal, you get access to Findmypast AND the New York Public Library online. 
©      The USGenWeb Project had a laminated postcard with the 88 Ohio counties – very useful for me to track my people from Trumbull to Stark to Darke to Mercer and finally, to Van Wert.  I learned from an attendee I’ve been mispronouncing my dad’s birth city my whole life – Celina is pronounced Seh lie nah and not Seh lee na.  Who Knew?!
©      Fun Stuff for Genealogists had cute t-shirts, inexpensive jewelry, archive materials and historic map reproductions.  See their full catalog online.  I bought a tree bead and a brass tree charm. 
©      The Ohio Genealogical Society gave me a few ideas about my darling Duers who left so few records in their travels across that state.  The volunteer even consulted his own resources to see if my folks were named (they weren’t but it was a valiant attempt on his part). 
©      Bought the just released Mastering Genealogical Documentation by Thomas Jones with the plan on working through it this summer.  You can purchase a copy through the National Genealogical Society.

I’m hoping to be able to attend next year, too.  Paths to Your Past will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan May 2-5, 2018.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

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, 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!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Raleigh Bound - Genealogy At Heart Hiatus

I’m off to North Carolina to attend the National Genealogical Society Conference.  I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.  If you're planning on attending friend me on the conference ap.  Traveling with a co-worker is making the trip even more fun.  I'm planning on purchasing Tom Jones’ new book that will be released there – buying that as my own Mother’s Day present.  No blog until I return.  In the meantime, Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

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! 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Genealogy Connection at the Car Dealership

On the way to a Croatian Picnic, July 4, 1923, Hobart, Indiana
 Left to Right Frank Tputic, Mary and Joseph Koss
So here's my Serendipitous Saturday event of yesterday...

Hubby's 10 year old car was ready to bite the dust.  In the past week the gas cap refused to come off, the driver's visor fell out, the windshield wiper fluid wouldn't pump out and the air stopped working. Definitely time for a trade in!

He absolutely loved the car so he considered getting those things fixed but when we started tallying up the price, decided to invest that money towards a new vehicle.  He wanted the same make and model since it had been such a low maintenance car but we couldn't agree on a price at the dealership, which was ironic because the by line is they never let a customer down.

We drove to another dealership where I had purchased a car two years ago and as we were negotiating, I heard a deep voice say, "I'm Croatian."  This totally distracted me from the sales person for several reasons.  First, I am Croatian and I only know of one other person of Croatian descent in a three county area adjacent to where I reside.  Second, in the 45 years I've lived in the area, I've never heard anyone make that statement.  Third, entirely unexpected, it surprised and startled me to the point of losing focus on the the sales person's conversation.  Fourth, what was really weird, though, was that my husband and I had just had a side conversation about my Croatian grandmother and her love of new vehicles so much so that she would buy a new car every year.  My grandfather never drove because of his poor vision and rarely went with her when she negotiated prices.  I had just remarked to my husband how I would have preferred to be anywhere else than in a car dealership and I didn't understand how Grandma could possibly enjoy the experience annually.

I looked at my husband after hearing the voice from no where and asked him if he had just heard "I'm Croatian."  Sitting right next to me, he hadn't.  For a second I thought I was hearing things but the sales person said, "That was Boris, he works in financing."  I told her I had to meet him so after we agreed to terms (HALLELUJAH!), she introduced us.

Boris emigrated at age 18.  He was born and raised in the same city my grandparents were from.  Knowing the area well, he corrected my pronunciation of the small neighborhood they where they had resided.  When I mentioned how much I missed my grandmother's cooking he let me know that there is now a group meeting locally for those of Croatian descent.  My first question, "Do they have lamb at their meetings?"  With summer coming, I'm really missing those old picnics from my youth.  I do live in a Greek community where cuisine close to my upbringing is readily available but those small nuances in ingredients make a difference and it's just not quite the same.  He said, "Yes, and they have kolaches, pita, and other desserts."  Oh my goodness!  I have the recipes but they just don't taste the way grandma made them.  I blame Florida humidity but that's probably not it - I just don't have the knack for baking the way she and my mom did.  So today, I'm heading to meet some folks and possibly kin.

This experience got me thinking about a different way to build your tree.  It had never occurred to me to try to find a Croatian group locally.  Whatever is your ancestral origins, it's possible they are meeting near you.  Check them out!  Even if you don't find a connection to your family you'll be able to enjoy the culture and cuisine that will give you a better idea of what made your ancestor tick.  Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Robert Flenner Honored by The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund

Last fall I blogged about my search for relatives of Robert Flenner, a police officer who died in 1908 from injuries received in the line of duty.  The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund contacted me after finding Robert in my public tree.  Robert married a woman who was the grand daughter of a Harbaugh; I have completed a surname study of all Harbaughs in the U.S. so that's why Robert was in my tree.  

After blogging about my hunt to find living relatives I was contacted by a great grand daughter of the couple.  She and her father will attend the ceremony.  

I'm sure other relatives of Robert are out there and I wanted to make sure that it's not to late to attend in spirit if not in flesh.  Here's the link to attend the service virtually:

"Patrolman Robert Flenner’s summary has been included on the Memorial website at:

You may join us via live webcast for the Candlelight Vigil which will be held on May 13, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. by signing up at United By Light at

The Memorial will honor 394 fallen officers on May 13th, of whom 143 died in 2016. 

Please forward this to anyone who may be interested!


Carolie Heyliger
Memorial Programs Research Manager
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
901 E St, NW Suite 100
Washington, DC 20004-2025
Phone: 202.737.7136 Fax: 202.737.3405"

I will be flying back from the National Genealogical Society conference in Raleigh and am hoping there won't be any flight delays so I can view the webcast.  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

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!)'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.

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.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Preserving Old Furniture

Besides family stories, photos and documents, my husband and I are fortunate to have several furniture pieces that have been passed down to us by ancestors.  Unfortunately, a bedroom set that once belonged to my mother began to show its age – it looked dull and small scratches appeared on the top of the dresser.  My kids insist the house ghost decided to leave us an undecipherable message, however, it looks to me like someone, once upon a time, wrote a note on top which left a minor imprint on the finish that became visible with age. We can't read most of the letters but a H, A and L are visible.
I didn’t want the furniture refinished but I did want to prevent it from further fading and minimize the scratches.  Last December, we visited a local antique store that carried a product that the owner swore would do the job for us.  With less than a $10.00 investment we thought, why not?!
Hubby tried it on the dresser as soon as we returned home and we were disappointed that there was no visible change to the piece.  The product, along with the steel wool that was needed to apply the liquid, was all but forgotten as we moved ahead with house renovations. 
Saturday evening, with our hardwood floors installed (but not completely as the transitions still haven't come in) we were moving furniture back into the living and dining room.  I mentioned to my husband how much I missed the old Formby’s kits that he used to use to restore our older pieces.  Hubby said we ought to try the product we had purchased at the antique store.  I was thinking that would be a waste of time since the last time we used it the results were not what I was hoping it would be but I kept my mouth shut. 
Hubby retrieved the can, shook it and applied a thin layer to one of my grandmother’s chests that I use to store linens.  The result was breathtaking!  As he went to get a rag to wipe off the excess, I grabbed the steel wool and went to work on an old secretary I used to house china.  Pleased with the results, I went on to give a quick touch up to the dining room table and chairs. 
We’re thinking the reason the product didn’t work the first time was because the stain didn’t match exactly.  Although the bedroom set is cherry, it is a light stain compared to the dining room furniture. We plan on purchasing another can with a lighter stain this weekend and try again on the bedroom set.   
After celebrating Easter with the family, I decided I really needed a larger china cabinet to safely display my husband’s maternal grandmother’s china so I surfed Craigslist and found a piece that would match what we had and best of all, it was in my price range and only a few miles from our home.  The bowed front china cabinet, circa 1940, was inherited by the original owner’s grandson who had no room for it.  Bought in Oklahoma, the piece was moved 4 times by the Army over the past few years. 
On Tuesday, we finalized the purchase and its travels; thankfully, it fit in hubby’s vehicle.  Our teenaged neighbors helped get it into the garage where I went at it with my new wonder product.  You can see the results above.
Hubby told me he was reluctant to make the purchase as there were dog scratches on the right side, some spots on the bottom were completely missing veneer and there were watermark rings on shelves.  He was also concerned about the wood swelling as it was housed in an unairconditioned high humidity drafty building that was about 100 years old, though we don't know how long it had been stored in those conditions.  In just two days of being in a climate controlled environment, the difficulty in opening the doors are no longer an issue. 
I’m glad to give our china and the cabinet a new home and I’m absolutely in love with Howard’s Restor-A-Finish.  The big box stores locally don't carry it so check around if you'd like to give your furniture a facelift.  I'm thrilled with the results.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Genealogy Throw Back Idea That Worked!

Image result for letter

I definitely went old school genealogy this week and like back in the day, it worked!  I'm still heavily researching my Duer lines and after meeting someone from Trumbull County, Ohio at a local genealogy meeting a few months ago, decided I should join from afar, the Trumbull County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogy Society.

On Tuesday I received the first newsletter in the mail and I was listed on the first page, along with other new members.  In the back of the newsletter was a list of surnames that members were researching.  No one was looking for Byrds and Duers but there were several who were researching Morrisons.

Now Morrison is way too common of a last name so I wasn't counting on finding much for John and Eleanor (Jackson) Morrison but leaving no stone unturned, promptly emailed two of the three individuals listed.  I'm going to have to go really primitive with the third person - no email address was provided but there was an address and a snail mail letter has to be sent.

I received email responses within hours and both were researching the same line!  Serendipitously, one individual lives very close to me and mentioned that she recognized my name as she has followed my online trees for some time.  It definitely is a small world!  The other individual was a descendant of my Jane Morrison's sister, Nancy, and she provided me information I previously did not have. I was not aware that Nancy had remarried after her first husband's death which explains why I did not have a death date for her.

I don't often blindly send emails anymore so I'm really glad I used this approach.  Give it a try!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

More Genealogy Tips Based on Renovation Musings

If you've been following my Genealogy At Heart blog, you know that hubby and I have been in the "middle" of major home remodeling which we began the day after Thanksgiving.  When I say middle I really mean it - we're half way done.  Through this chaotic journey I've been able to apply quite a few lessons learned from the experience to genealogy which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

On Palm Sunday, our adult kids planned to come over and we were going to take a much needed respite from the renovations to attend a local art show.  To plan that in, we worked hard the previous day as we hoped that the hardwood floors would FINALLY be installed in the upcoming week.  For that to happen, we needed to finish prepping; we had some minor holes to fill in the concrete and to tile the entry stoop.

I'm a list person - I love to organize via writing and then cross out items when the task is complete.  I've used technology but for this major project, reverted back to a paper and pencil method.  It's quite motivating to cross out the completed items!  I do this with my genealogy, too.  Using Excel, I have a spreadsheet that lists the Who (surname), What (I'm going to accomplish - research, transcribe, analyse, etc.) When (the date I place it on my list), Why (the goal, either short or long term) and How (I brainstorm where I'm going to find the info or what I need to complete the task).  Some items have been on my list for a long time and others I can quickly accomplish.

Like genealogy, home maintenance doesn't end.  I don't put "clean up my work space" on my genealogy to do list just like I wouldn't place "mow the lawn" on my home renovation list.

Some items on my genealogy list may be much more difficult to accomplish than others.  I've been trying to locate the parents of my second great grandmother, Mary "Polly" Dennis for years and don't expect resolution tomorrow but who knows?!  Records show up in the most unexpected places.  Likewise, the hunt for a new door threshold (seriously - cannot find one anywhere that fits our front door!) has got to have a resolution quickly or my power bill will be astronomical.  Although there are other important tasks to work on, finding that threshold has to take precedence.  Which leads me to flexibility...

I'm not holding my breath that my floors will be installed this week.  When I called to verify that the floors were in, I was told the order was partially filled.  It's been nearly a month since we ordered and the company cannot explain why the entire order isn't ready.  I wasn't thrilled or surprised.  Like in genealogy, expect the unexpected.  If the company cannot provide the missing items we're going to have to look elsewhere.  Sure, it will take longer to finish but in the end, I sure will rejoice just like I do when I've found an elusive ancestor.

Because I'm paying as I go with the house renovation, my initial list only took us to the hardwood floor install.  I knew I had the funds to get to that point AND the house would be livable again.  So late Saturday after dinner, hubby and I went back to the list and I let him do the honors of crossing out all of his specifically assigned tasks that he accomplished that day.  All that was left for him was to grout the newly installed entry tiles.  It was time to make a new list for phase 2.  Although I'm looking forward to the day my home renovations are through, my genealogy to do list will never end and that's just fine with me!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

New Irish Records Finding Aid

Do you have Irish roots?  If so, you need to know about a wonderful document that was released last month.  The List of Church of Ireland Parish Register that was once an in-house document compiled by the Public Records Office of Ireland is now updated and available to the general public for free.

I especially love the "Comment" section, key and the color coding which makes finding what you need and where it's located easier.  This 96 page pdf may be just what you need to discover your Irish lines' baptism, marriage and burial records.  ádh mór!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Our Ancestor's First Names

Image result for baby

I recently read an interesting article about trending baby names.  Supposedly, 36 baby names are endangered, meaning that they haven't been registered since January 1st of this year on a website for pregnant women.  Not that it means they are going extinct, mind you, but it does mean that families who frequent that particular website aren't planning on using names that many of us are familiar with.
Here's the list of names:
  • Angela
  • Bertram
  • Beverley
  • Cecil
  • Carol
  • Clarence
  • Clive
  • Cyril
  • Debra
  • Diane
  • Donna
  • Dean
  • Doris
  • Dennis
  • Derek
  • Duncan
  • Elaine
  • Ernest
  • Geoffrey
  • Horace
  • Joanne
  • Leonard
  • Maureen
  • Malcolm
  • Nigel
  • Neville
  • Paula
  • Roy
  • Sally
  • Sandra
  • Sharon
  • Sheila
  • Tracey
  • Wendy
  • Yvonne
  • Wayne
As a  baby boomer, I went to school with lots of Carols, Debras, Dianes, Maureens, Paulas, Sallys, and Sandras.  I have relatives named Joanne and Sharon.  I work with Angelas, Traceys and Wendys.  Dated a Wayne once - we won't go there.  Lived next door to a Beverly and Doris.  

From this data I have a hunch that millenials may not be using family names as was the custom on previous generations.  My mother is Dorothy because my grandmother's sister was Dorothy.  My aunt was aunt because that was her grandmother's name.  

I would be interesting to check the site for middle names.  In our family, often the father's first name becomes the son's middle name.  Maybe the names on the list above are being used that way.

You can read the article here.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Musing About Life Lessons Learned That Apply to Genealogy

It's been a slow week genealogywise for me as I've been consumed with the house renovations and an increased workload at my educator job.  I thought I'd have difficulty coming up with a blog but instead I'm bursting with lessons learned from those situations that apply to genealogy.

With renovations, there is a lot of moving of "stuff" around as we empty one area of the house with the goal of making it an improved place.  It's a total pain to have to physically move items. I also realized I have a lot of things that I no longer use so I'm donating or pitching as I go (or pawning off on my children).  This got me thinking about genealogy practices...

I used to have alot of stuff I took with me when I researched; I carried my clunky laptop, notebook, charts, lots of pencils, a camera, phone, stickees, and thumbdrives.  It was a workout just getting into an archive.  I've streamlined considerably and find I can simply take my Kindle, phone, a mechanical pencil and stickees.  Instead of many thumbdrives that contained my surname info and individual thumbdrives for my clients, I now just take one for microfilms in case I can't email it to myself and use the ap on my phone,  Office Lens, to take a picture and immediately send it to One Note, for everything else I used to save to a thumbdrive.  I can view that from my phone and Kindle to make sure it looked the way I want before I leave so I never get home and realize I needed to get a better view.  Also on the Kindle is Evernote, which has my research log template.  I still carry the stickees to flag book pages I'm interested in.  These changes have made my research life much saner and safer.  I don't have to worry about someone walking off with the laptop if I have to go back to the stacks for another look. I have more flexibility in where I park myself down to research and I lost weight without having to diet.  Very cool!  Have no idea why it took me so long to figure out I needed to do this room by room in my house.

After a room is finished I find that I might be better off moving items around for increased efficiency.  For example, my drinking glasses used to be in a cabinet closest to the sink.  I realized it's a better idea to move them in the cabinet next to the refrigerator as that's where we go to get cold, purified water, ice and lemon.  This practice definitely applies to genealogy.  Just because you used to do something doesn't mean you should continue to do so.  Back in the day, I organized my genealogy files by lines.  As the data grew I found that it was too complex so I took the time to reorganize by surname.  A binder system works well for me today but may not in the future and that's ok!  Change is good although I must admit, as a creature of habit, I do tend to go back to the old cabinet to seek out a glass when I'm exhausted.  Habits may be difficult to break but can be done.  Investing time to make a task better is time well spent.  You may be in for a happy surprise, which gets me to my next lesson learned.

Ironically, last Wednesday I blogged about my recent Dropbox experience.  At my educator job, a decision was made right after I wrote the article that our team was going to only use One Note.  I spent all day Thursday and part of Friday dropping and dragging files from Dropbox to One Note.  Although I wasn't thrilled to have to readjust my work priorities during a busy time, the situation did give me a big Ahaa!  In Dropbox, I saved by event but in One Note, the decision was to save by date.  Same situation as moving my drinking glasses and reorganizing my genealogy files!  The data is the same but where and how it's stored is different.  So here's where I learned another lesson - looking at the older files was quite enlightening.  I was able to identify some holes in our program which we'll be discussing this week.  Try this with your brickwalls.  If your found records are in timeline order, shuffle them up and place them by type of record or location where they were made.  You might identify where your gap is and be off and running to locate overlooked events or places where they occurred.  It sure is the same stuff but my looking through a different lens you might make a new discovery.

In other words, you've got to change your practices up to move forward, even if it's painful.  Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dropbox Shoutout!

I've blogged before about the importance of saving your work in numerous places and trying to practice what I preach, but I goofed big time!

There are several cloud based companies that you can use as another place to store your genealogical research, or anything else, for that matter.  I've used the free versions of Microsoft One Drive, Google Drive and Dropbox.  Earlier this month I received an email notice from Dropbox that my "free" account was going to come with a price tag at the end of the month.  Why?  When I purchased a new desktop system last March, it came with additional Dropbox storage space for one year.  The year was up so I had to pay if I wanted to continue service.  Dropbox offered a special price of $79.00 for 1 terabyte of storage with the understanding that the following year, the price would be $99.00.

The email notice came the week we were having the tile removed from our home so I saved it with the intention that I would look at it later when I had time.  Here's where the situation gets messy - I actually have 2 Dropbox accounts; one is for my primary job as an educator with a large public school district and the other is for my genealogy and personal information.  I try very hard to keep my educator business only at the workplace and my genealogy only outside of that worksite but good intentions aren't enough.  Sometime between the initial email from Dropbox and the time I decided to act on the special offer, I logged into Dropbox from my home computer with my educator account.  In hindsight, I remember doing this as I needed to print an itinerary for a field trip the night before so that a last minute added chaperone would have the information.  In my haste, I didn't log out of that account.  My bad!

So, when I decided it was time to purchase a year subscription with the special offer pricing, I didn't catch that I was purchasing a year's rate for the wrong email account.  Unfortunately, as soon as the confirmation came through and I clicked to open my account, I realized the mistake.

I searched high and low on the Dropbox site for how to switch the  accounts but it wouldn't allow me to as the popup stated there already was an account for the email address I was trying to switch to. Yep, that would be me!  Couldn't find instructions online on what to do or who to contact to fix the problem so I cancelled the transaction, or so I thought, logged out of the academic account, logged on to my personal account, went back to the email offer and followed the link again with the intention of repurchasing a year's subscription for the correct account.  Well, that didn't work either as a popup told me the offer was "expired."

I then looked again for a way to contact Dropbox and discovered they have NO LISTED PHONE NUMBER anywhere on their site.  When you click "Contact," your options are departments and none was billing.  I selected "Customer Support" which turned out to be technical and not financial.  I online chatted with an associate who told me he would transfer the chat to the correct department.  I was transferred but I only got a form filler, no chat option available.   I filled out the form and figured I'd hear in a few days.

A week went by and I never received a response so I decided to again try the link from the original email.  Hey, maybe they reactivated the offer!  They hadn't.  I panicked and removed everything from my personal Dropbox account to my home desktop.  I resigned myself to checking out other cloud storage companies.

Here's where the situation gets even more complicated!  The following week I noticed I had a message on the Dropbox ap on my phone.  It was giving me a special offer.  I know that the phone ap is for my personal account so I was thrilled that I could continue service.  I processed the transaction through the phone, went home and moved all the files back into Dropbox and thought life was good.

Imagine my surprise when I got my credit card statement and realized that Dropbox had charged me twice with no credit for the first mistaken transaction and that the accounts were still confused.  I tried to put the transactions in dispute online but the situation didn't meet the drop down menu options.  My bank's customer service person patiently listened to my sob story; she didn't have a phone number for the organization either which I guess confirmed part of my tale.  Two disputes were placed and I am happy to report that in just a few hours, Dropbox issued me a credit for the educator account transaction AND credited the transaction for the personal account to reflect the special offer.  I am very happy with the resolution.

Lesson Learned - next year, I will definitely make sure I'm logged into the correct account before I pay!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Identifying a Possible Ancestor Via Art?!

Here’s something different to try! First, take a selfie of yourself not smiling. Next, click on the link for the Musée de la Civilisation and upload your selfie. Complete the short form and click “Find Your Double.” The database compares your selfie to statues down through history.
The museum in Quebec is preparing for an upcoming exhibit and is looking for people today who most closely match the statues of yesterday.
I didn’t expect a match so I was pleasantly surprised when a sculpture of an unidentified woman, thought to be the Empress Faustina the Younger, matched me. An unidentified woman in my family tree, of course, it would be a match! I can see somewhat of a resemblance, especially if I were younger.
Do I have Faustina in my family tree? No, my tree doesn’t go back to Abt 125-175 AD when she was alive. Roman heritage wouldn’t surprise me, though, as my maternal side is Croatian and half of my paternal side is from the Alsace-Lorraine region. Both areas have a historical connection to Rome.
Although this definitely isn’t remotely proof of ancestry, it sure is fun and unique! Plus, you may just add to your history knowledge. I had no idea who Faustina was and well, after reading about her, wasn’t really wild about the possibility of being a relative. Maybe I should reread my blog for AncestorCloud, Dealing With Genealogical Disappointment. Faustina was known as a two timing schemer who may have poisoned a few who got in her way. She definitely was a helicopter mom, long before helicopters were invented. I was pleased that in grief, her husband, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, founded charity schools for orphan girls in her honor.
My hubby tried it, too, and matched to Ahata, a woman who lived in Palmyra in the 2nd century. There was barely a resemblance which makes sense as he’s Nordic on all sides and the database is mostly collections from the Mediterranean and Middle East.
Say cheese and give it a try.