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.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Keys to Collaborative Genealogy

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I've been so busy with the home renovations that I failed to supply the link to a recent blog that I posted for AncestorCloud.  Developing a Positive Seeker Helper Relationship is a "how to" for effectively collaborating with others as you build your family tree.

AncestorCloud calls the folks who are in need of a record "Seekers" and those that assist as "Helpers."  Working with family members you may share both of those roles.  Whatever responsibility you assume, the hunt is much more productive when the parties involved are together on the approach.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Saving Your Gedcom

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

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

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

If you're new to this process it's quite simple, just follow these steps:

  1. Log on to 
  2. Click "Trees" on the Ribbon and scroll and click on "Create & Manage Trees" 
  3. Click "Manage Tree" 
  4. Under "Manage Tree" in the green box on the left, click "Download your gedcom file"
  5. Be patient, it may take some time, depending on the size of your tree.  
Once downloaded, if you open the file it will be gibberish so you must install a program that can read a gedcom.  You have several options; I've listed those that I've used that allow you to save the program to your own computer and/or place in your own Cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) so you have complete control over the data:
  1. Legacy Family Tree - free with the standard edition; small cost for a program that does more. 
  2. Rootsmagic - small cost and by mid-April it will sink with
  3. Family Tree Maker - small cost, used to synch with but I experienced problems; supposedly works now.
Or, you can join another organization like and save your tree there.  I've used My Heritage as an alternative.

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

I haven't done this but am exploring these as other options some day:

  1. Familysearch - free, however, you are donating your tree to their genealogical community and although it is a backup, you don't control it any longer.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page and follow the directions under "Contribute Your Research"
  2. Wiki Tree - free, however, when I tried to upload several years ago my tree was too large for them.  Haven't checked back to see if their system will take it.
Whatever you choose is your personal decision but you have to select one so you can access your data.  

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

When I click on download instructions  I get the following:  

"If the "File Download" window does not appear and Windows automatically downloads a text file: 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Tub Full of Memories

Laundry - it stinks if left undone, piles up and never ends.  Kind of like genealogy!  I had to use the machines in my local laundromat recently due to home renovations.  Check out the picture above - it costs $5.00 to wash ONE LOAD.  Of course I didn't have as many quarters as I needed and the change machine in the facility jipped me which made me even more determined to get our laundry room back in order quickly.

I have several memories of laundry from my childhood which is funny when you think of how mundane doing laundry is.  My earliest memory is of my mom running among the rain drops to retrieve nearly dry sheets hanging outside on the line when I was about 3 years old.  She told me it was God's final rinse and it smelled delightful.  I imagined heaven as scented with a summer rain. We had a washer and dryer but my mom loved to hang out clothes which my father never understood.  She never adapted to using dryer sheets.

My maternal grandmother was the same way; grandpa had to make her special laundry stakes - a slit on the end of a long pole - to raise up the wet clothes on the line so it wouldn't drag across the ground.  She was barely 5 feet tall and used a step stool to reach the line, dragging it across the backyard grass from space to open space.  On windy days, I would run between the hanging clothes trying to not get slapped by the wetness.  If I made it through untouched I got a point.  Usually the laundry won.

Doing laundry could be scary, too.  My grandparents had an old wringer Maytag washing machine in the basement and occasionally, my mom would drag it across the basement floor to the double cement laundry tub which she would use to "catch" the clothes going through the wringer.  I thought it was fascinating to see the water squeeze out until mom leaned too close to the wringer and her headscarf went along for the ride.  Immediately, she reached for the wringer arm mechanism and placed it in reverse so she could be free.  That was fast thinking and probably saved her life.  Mom told me that she knew a woman who had died from a broken neck because she hadn't been able to reach the lever in time.  I've never seen that in an obit but I imagine death by laundry wouldn't be memorialized as the way to go.

Hubby's dad lost a piece of his thumb as a young man helping his mom do laundry.  As he tried to adjust the bulky, heavy clothes going through the wringer his thumb slid forward and caught in the machine.  He lived to tell of his dangerous encounter taming wet sheets.

Now when it comes to laundromats, until recently, I had more pleasant memories.  My Aunt Betty, for a short time, owned and operated a laundromat.  My cousins and I would sometimes accompany her to the business and play around by "driving" the carts, climbing on the tables to be tall and checking out the laundry product machines and the pay phone to see if there was change left.  I can't ever recall a customer while we were there which could explain why she sold the business and moved on to owning a beauty shop (now that was really fun for a young girl!).  I suppose the broken machines were another reason for the sale; we thought it was hilarious when suds billowed out of the top and down the sides but Aunt Betty never looked pleased.

My last childhood memory of laundromats is related to this time of year.  In late winter or early spring, mom would take our heavy winter garments to the then new concept of Norge Village - an upscale laundromat that housed huge machines from a child's perspective that not only washed and dried clothes but also dry cleaned.  A modern woman in the 1960's sure had come a long way, baby!  Mom would save money by doing her own dry cleaning of the winter coats; I was always glad to see them folded and stored in the attic in plastic tubs with moth balls.  Give me hot weather anytime.

And give me my own machines! In our laundry room, we have hanging an old glass National washboard that my husband purchased at his first auction for $10.00 years ago.  It serves as a reminder of how far a simple household task has evolved and I'm thankful for that.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Thank You!

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Youtube and the Genealogist

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A source that I under use for genealogy is Youtube.  Lisa Louise Cooke reminded me at a local seminar I attended about the valuable information that is available on the site.

There's two ways to find what you're looking for - do a Google Search (duh!) or use the search button on Youtube.  If I type in Google the following - youtube genealogy - I get 8,660,000 results.  Using the search bar on Youtube, I receive 190,000 results for the word genealogy.  Most of those hits are instructional videos.  Youtube can assist your genealogy more personally, though, and help you find information you didn't know was out there.

Try this:  In the Youtube search bar type a surname you are interested in and the words "family history" in quotes.  I did this with my Leininger surname and the first link is to a family reunion in Ohio.  Bingo!  Need to know who has the family Bible or a photo of great grandma?  The folks you've found on Youtube just might hold the key.

You don't stop there, though!  I then decided to check out video to be more specific of the location since Ohio is a large state.  I entered "Celina, Ohio" Kuhn (another family surname I'm interested in and the residence of the family) and more hits are available.

This is a wonderful way to reconnect with family that remained in the hometown, see what the area looks like today and the time investment is minimal as many of the videos are less than 15 minutes in length.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Diversity in the Family Tree and Its Importance Today

Last month I took part in an activity at a workshop in New York City on Cultural Competence that’s been haunting me ever since.  The presenter, Vivian V. Lee, Ed.D. from Johns Hopkins University provided an adapted handout from M. Loden & J. Rosner’s book, Workforce America (McGraw-Hill, 1991) that opened my eyes to my family’s core values in ways that I had never experienced before.
The worksheet consisted of a Diversity Wheel – a circle within a circle that listed 12 category descriptions of an individual, such as your level of education, geographic location and gender.  Participants were asked to identify and record a word that described their personal category descriptions.  For myself, it would be master's degrees, USA, female. 

Next, participants were asked to record the complete opposite of their personal description.  So mine would be no degrees earned, anywhere but North America, male, etc.  A few minutes was provided to reflect on the recorded responses by thinking about:

  • how would the opposite from yourself identity be perceived and treated by society and by the individual 
  • how different would your present life be compared to that of the opposite individual 
  • how would you adapt in society as the opposite individual
I was shocked to discover that my polar opposite in most categories would be my maternal grandfather, Ivan “John” Kos[s] and great grandfather, Josef Kos[s].  Although they both had the same surname, these men were distant relatives.  Josef was my grandmother’s father and John was her husband of an arranged marriage.  So, my grandmother’s maiden name was the same as her married name (now that’s convenient!).  But back to the exercise…

Both John and Josef emigrated separately from then Austria-Hungary, now Croatia, to the U.S. for reasons that so many emigrants continue to come – economic opportunity, freedom, a new start.  Manual laborers with little to no education, limited English and no citizenship rights, these men, along with others like them, were the backbone of the United States' economy for generations as continue to be so today.  I never met Josef who died young; he caught the flu and passed away in 1919.  Of John, I never heard one complaint from him about his status in society.  Even after residing here for over 60 years, though, he knew he continued to be identified by a slur – I heard a shopkeeper once call him a D.P., aka a displaced person.  Although he took a citizenship oath, would never be fully accepted and remained subject to distrust by those who fate allowed to be born here. Although I've become the opposite of my grandparents, I know they would have been very proud of my children and my role in society. They would not begrudge that I am not treated as they had been.

I reaped the fruits of Josef and John’s difficult lives.  If you take a moment to think about your own roots, you most likely have an immigrant story in your family.  It may have been as long ago as 1600 or just in the last decade.   Your ancestors may have come of their own volition or not.  It matters not when or how they arrived.  What matters is that the hardship they endured afforded you comfort and security that was lacking from their point of origin.  Perhaps it’s due to my childhood interactions with and knowledge of my grandparents’ life experiences that make me thankful for their risk in immigrating and I will always have a place in my heart for those who are so courageous that they would begin again in a new land.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

DNA and National Geographic, I Remember When...

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Yesterday I received the March issue of National Geographic and as I unwrapped the cellophane, out fell an insert about their Geno 2.0 program.  This got me thinking about how far DNA has come over the past few years.

Back in the day, I'm thinking circa 2006, a co-worker had used the Society's DNA service.  I don't remember what the cost was but I remember thinking it was pricey for what she received, a slick brochure that gave her general information about her ethnicity.  It told her she was of Greek heritage; since she lived in Tarpon Springs, Florida that was not an trade in your lederhosen for a kilt revelation.  I decided I'd wait until the results became more specific.

After reading the insert in the magazine, I figured the price still must be high as it was not provided, though a special $50.00 off discount was mentioned.  Checking the Geno 2.0 Next Generation site, I found that the $199.95 regular price was on sale for $149.95.  With the subscriber discount noted on the insert, the price would be $99.95.  Guess they're trying to be competitive with the rest of the market.

The results brochure looks quite similar to what my co-worker received over a decade ago.  The biggest change appears to be identification of Neanderthal ancestry which my mother would have just relished. She always swore she had Neanderthal DNA long before science proved remnants remain. If she were alive today, this would have been an awesome birthday gift.

The other updates are vague; "improved ancestral results" and "ancestral calls" but it doesn't say how the are improved and "more accurate regional ancestry" to include 60 reference populations.

What does make this offer unique is that you can also purchase a ball cap or t-shirt that provides further advertising for the project.  Not that it would influence you to test with them, just sayin'.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Leaving a Media Record of Your Family History

Yesterday I attended an all day seminar sponsored by my local genealogy society.  As always, I learned something new and enjoyed the camaraderie of others who are passionate about genealogy.  Lisa Louise Cooke was the primary speaker and I absolutely fell in love with her use of media to share her family stories.  I agree with her that the family members that get that glazed over look when you start talking about ancestors would show an interest in a short video presentations that highlighted an ancestor's life.

Lisa used Animoto and I plan to explore that site in the next few weeks (as soon as my new floors are in and the dust can finally settle!)  On the long drive home I thought about several "stories" I could portray.  I'd love to do one including 8 mm movie clips I have of my husband and his siblings for his retirement.  I'm thinking about making another for my DAR daughter tracing the line from the patriot to her.  Would definitely make one about farming since it's so ingrained in my blood; my son would enjoy that one as he's the hydroponic expert for the rest of us.

I think what I found most appealing was that the story can be "told" in so many different ways. Words can be included or not.  Music or a song can be added or not.  Maps and still photos can be used, along with video clips and photogs.  The possibility seems endless.

If you're having difficulty writing your family's story this might be perfect way for you to get moving.  If you've made a family video let me know - I'd love to check it out and learn from you.