Showing posts from 2017

Santa Genealogists - Beneficial Tips from the Jolly Old Elf

Genealogists need to take a tip from Santa Claus - we should be "making a list and checking it twice!"  No, not to find out who's naughty or nice, although that does make family history interesting and more entertaining to pass on to relatives.  The list making and checking is critical, especially when you acquire information from someone else.  Here's what recently happened to me...
Through this blog, I made contact with a second cousin I had never met.  He put me in contact with several other cousins and we all shared info on a brick wall ancestor to see if putting our heads together could resolve the dead end.
Three of us live far away from where the ancestor had resided; one of us lives within reasonable driving distance.  That individual had gone to the courthouse and pulled the probate records years ago.  As I reviewed the paperwork making a list of all that we had discovered, it struck me that our common ancestor would have been left an orphan.  I decided to …

MyHeritage SuperSearch Update

For a number of years, has provided users with the ability to add their input regarding incorrect info on record indexes.  Recently, MyHeritage has devised a similar feature that will allow for corrections of spellings or transcription errors.

Simply click "Suggest Alternatives" and add your info.  You'll need to type the first and last name of the individual to be corrected, use the drop down menu to select the reason and add your two cents in the comments.  If you're like me, your ancestor's names were never recorded the same as some of them were doozy's to spell - Leininger, Bollenbacher, and even short ones like Duer seem to have been problematic for those enumerators.

Here's an additional tip - keep a list of all the many, varied and unusual surname spellings that you find as that could help you in the future when you're stuck.  I add them to an Excel spreadsheet with tabs for my preferred spelling of the surname and a column where …

Genealogy TV Show That Can Benefit Your Family

I've been watching this season's Our American Family show and thought the style of the presentation would be an awesome way for families to record their own history.  With the holidays upon us, check out a few of the episodes, then video your family at the next gathering.  I've blogged previously about using helpful media to use and interview questions that can help get grandma talking.  Once you've got the recording, putting it together could be a wonderful present for your next year's holiday season! DNA Kit Purchase Follow Up

Just received the following email from regarding their Black Friday-Cyber Monday DNA Kit Sale:
There is NO COUPON CODE, as I blogged about on Sunday.  Want to purchase?  Click BUY NOW, look at the top of the page and reclick Buy Now.
Please note:  I have NO business connection with the organization and get NO percentage of sale.  This info is a follow up to my last blog about attempting to purchase the product a few days ago. 
Genealogy is all about patience and this purchase definitely reinforces that!

Holiday DNA Deals? Read Before Purchasing

It's that wonderful time of the year when the DNA companies promote their products with big savings knowing that the family get togethers will turn to great grandma's emigration story and the question everyone wants answered - Where did we really come from?
I've received several emails this week notifying me of "special" offers so I decided to take advantage of the one below: 

 When I go to process the order I get this screen (with my personal info not showing):
The problem is that when I hit "submit order" the lock moves over the words but doesn't process.  I hit the button twice and then, fearing I ordered 4 kits instead of 2, called at 1-800-Ancestry. 
I spoke with Brittany who told me they had no record of the order.  That was good in that I didn't over order but since I wanted 2 kits, I still needed the order processed.  I asked if they were having trouble with their website and she said no.  Brittany tried and couldn't get…

Bringing a Family Heirloom Back to Life

In June, I blogged about some of my genealogy finds when we cleaned out our garage - 2 mahogany chairs in particular. 
The initial estimates I got to refinish the chairs were $500.00 each and the price quoted for the upholstery was $500.00-$800.00 per chair, not including material of which two upholsterers estimated I would need 10 yards. So, it would have cost me over $2000.00 to have both chairs in usable condition.
Yes, they have been in the family since about 1880 but we thought that the quotes were way too much.  I eventually found someone to refinish the chairs for $125.00 each but I had to do touch up and pull out the old tacks.  Hubby had to glue the leg support as the man "forgot" to do it.  It took him over 6 weeks to do his magic so instead of leaving them for him to do correctly, I told him I'd finish it myself.  I'm so glad I did as the hurricanes hit the following week and they were safer with us then in his flood prone neighborhood. 
I'm finally …

Two Blogs With Helpful Research Hints

Happy Daily Savings Day!  With the extra hour, I've got a big day with family planned so I'm going to make this blog quick.  If you missed some recent blogs I've done for other genealogical organizations, please enjoy these posts:

4 Big Genealogy Mistakes That May Be Hurting Your Research (And How to Avoid Them) published by Family History Daily (Please note:  my bio has an error in it - I am currently not "On the Clock" and I've asked that the statement be removed.)

Investigating Your Family Legends published by


Using Your Genealogical Info To Make You Healthy

Maybe due to Halloween being just around the corner, I was engaged with friends in a conversation about life expectancy. The Social Security Administration has a life expectancy calculator available.  Mine happens to be exactly to the age that my great grandmother was when she died.  Now this calculator does not take into account your current health, habits and genetics. 
I decided to make a mini-pedigree chart based on just my husband and my ancestor's names, age at death, and cause of death.  I went back 5 generations as that takes me to some of them being born in the late 1700's.  I chose that time period because it was pre-industrial revolution and most were living an agrarian lifestyle across the pond.  I was trying to do pluses and minues, such as that was not a rushed society, however, if the crops failed it was extremely stressful.  We have antibiotics but we also have pesticide residue.  I decided the benefits and losses were about equal. 
I truly only had 3 generati…

Organizational Article You Must Read

I came across the following article in the Washington Post this past week and I had to share it with you - Americans are Pack Rats.  Yes, we are!  I had read this shortly after blogging an article for another genealogy organization about an experience I had with a pack rack relative and my frustration in not being able to locate a photo because I kept getting the response, "Well, it's around here somewhere." 
My genealogy is well organized but occasionally, I have difficulty putting my hands on something I know I have. My most recent mysterious disappearance is of 2 handwritten letters for the eBook I'm currently working on.  I've transcribed the letters but for the life of me can't locate the originals.  I've always kept the entire set together in the same order that I scanned them.  After scanning, I transcribed the letters in order.  The first letter and one written 13 months later have disappeared, along with the scan.  The transcription remains.  I&…

Genealogy Is Not For The Faint of Heart

Yesterday was our local genealogy group's Family History Support Day.  We had a wonderful turnout - larger than ever! The free event matches people with no genealogy experience with a researcher who can help them get started or provide ideas to overcome a family mystery. 
A few of the folks I helped were stunned by the results.  The DNA testing companies now include a warning but I'm thinking all genealogists might want to do so.  Uncovering family secrets is often hard to deal with. 
Here's the 5 pieces of info I uncovered that I had to share with visitors that left them rattled:

1. Cherokee Princess - Her question - What was the name of my great grandma that was a Cherokee princess?  A great uncle told the woman that because they were of Native American royalty, they escaped the Trail of Tears and remained in South Carolina.  First problem with the legend is that South Carolina wasn't one of the 9 states that fell under the Removal Act.  Most of that region's Na…

It's Family History Month

Since 2001 in the U.S., Congress deemed October as Family History Month.  If you're new to genealogy it's the perfect time to get acquainted with your local society as many offer free events that will help you get on the fast track.  Next Saturday, my county group is hosting a get started event at a mid county library.  A neighboring county has provided free scanning of heirloom photos and documents, overcoming brick wall help and youth activities to get the next generation involved.  How to find these events?  Check your local library and historical museums, the newspaper and Facebook. 
If you are a well seasoned genealogist then it's your turn to step up and assist at one of the offered events.  Sharing your expertise, I've found, is rewarding on so many levels.  You've exercised your brain muscles and experienced the joy that comes with helping someone solve a mystery.  You may even find a connection to your own family! 
If you're unable to attend an upcomi…

Genealogical Gems Hidden In A Cookbook

Do you own a treasured family cookbook?  I have several from my maternal grandmother and my mother-in-law.  We don't think of these hand me downs as genealogical gems but they are!  Take the time to look through each book carefully.  I love the dedication that my mom and aunts wrote to their mom.  They always noted the holiday - Mother's Day, birthday or Christmas - and the year the gift was presented. 
A dog eared page or starred recipe tells much about the previous owner's family, as well.  I come from a long line of sweet toothed individuals and the favorite recipes of old confirm my sugar cravings.
Sometimes you might find a letter or note that was used as a bookmark.  Family relationships and residential addresses can be gained, along with some family gossip.   
If you've obtained community cookbooks then you may win the genealogical prize find.   This type of cookbook combined submitted recipes from members of a local church or civic organization.  Not only will…

Amazing Info Found - The Net As a Beginning Tool

Life has returned to semi-normal after the recent hurricanes.  By semi, I mean the county still hasn't collected the debris, milk and gas aren't available everywhere and several parks remain closed due to damage.  When our power was out for several days, I limited my internet usage to conserve my cell phone battery.  It wasn't until I went to clean my spam filter for my website, Genealogyatheart, that I discovered a message from a distant cousin.  He had discovered my site and our connection through our great grandfather by simply Googling the last name.
I replied to his comment and he included one of his nieces on our messages. Between the 3 of us, family puzzles began to be solved quickly. In the past week, I discovered that my paternal grandparents had hosted a small family reunion at their farm in the 1960's.  My parent's divorce was finalized by that time so my mom knew nothing of the event.  Without my cousins input, I wouldn't have known about it, eith…

Genealogy Without Power

Hurricane Irma is long gone and our power has finally been restored!  Four days without electricity was challenging.  I honestly don't know how our ancestors, females especially, survived Florida's heat and humidity back in the day in those long dresses.  The cold water to bathe in doesn't help!
We were fortunate, as were most of our neighbors, in regards to physical objects being spared.  All we had was a leaning fence which we've since fixed, a broken mailbox as the wind tore off the door, several dents in my car hood and lots of vegetation debris to rake up.  Our next door neighbor lost her mother the day after the storm and our neighbor behind us welcomed a new baby.  Nothing like adding more stress to an already difficult time!  The cycle of life continues...
For me, I can't even remember the last week I spent at home and didn't do any genealogy.  It has to have been years ago.  Genealogy is so dependent upon online tools today that there was little I co…

Hunkered Down With the Genealogy

The rain just started pummeling us about 5 minutes ago so sorry - no post today as we're going into our closet in a minute to ride out Hurricane Irma which is expected to go right over us early tomorrow morning.  Backed up the computer on that wonderful little device I got on Amazon during Prime Days (tho I am not really happy with you - Amazon - for your price gouging last week.)  The cats must have know cause they found spots in the closet and are cozy right now.
Please send good thoughts/prayers to the peeps in Florida - we're gonna need all the help we can right now.

Maps With A Past

I just love maps!  Check out the following about some unique maps that were new to me -

What Would You Do?

Happy Labor Day Weekend and the last long weekend of summer.  It's my 40th wedding anniversary, too.  On a not so happy note, it's our 32nd anniversary of losing everything in Hurricane Elena.  We spent that wedding anniversary camping out at North East High in St. Petersburg, Florida with our oldest child and my mom.  Like Hurricane Harvey, the mega rain maker, Elena decided to park herself offshore where she rotated away for several days.  It was the rain that did the most damage.

That life experience made me relate to a recent Washington Post article that asked victims of Harvey what they took with them when they evacuated.  One woman had time to grab her lipstick, another, just his medicine.  For people who have been fortunate enough to not have to evacuate quickly from a life threatening situation those answers might seem ridiculous.  I can assure you they aren't.

I overheard someone in the checkout line yesterday decline to donate for hurricane relief because he sa…

Unexpected Results of Having My DNA Done

Just read a wonderful article from NPR on dealing with DNA's unexpected results that I highly recommend - read it here.

I'm still receiving emails from my matches.  Yesterday I got an email at 10 AM from a descendant of Samuel Samuelson and as I was responding, I got another email from a descendant of Samuel's wife, Maria Swanson.  I happily connected the two folks who kindly responded to my initial query.  I just love those kinds of coincidences!  Think about this, both send me a response within minutes of each other and after 150+ years, reconnect.  Very weird!

What was even more awesome was that one of the emailers mentioned that his 100+ year old great aunt is still alive.  I strongly urged that they share the info I sent.  Hopefully, the photo of that woman's grandfather will spark some memory that can be recorded before it's too late.  That was certainly an unexpected result of having my DNA done.  I never thought I'd find someone who was still alive wh…

Saving Family Heirlooms

I read a wonderful guest post on MyHeritage that you must read - Do Genealogists Care About Family Artifacts?  Of course, the answer is yes, however, life often gets in the way of the "saving."

My town has a wonderful antique district and I've been on the hunt for a demilune since May.  Hubby and I have many much loved furniture that once belonged to families other than our own.  I'm lucky to have purchased my guest bedroom furniture from an elderly woman who couldn't take it to the nursing home with her.  I promised her I'd care for it when I bought it in 1985 after we lost everything in Hurricane Elena and I've kept my word.  I blogged last spring about the china cabinet I purchased from Craig's List.  A blended family didn't have room for two.  I know the piece's history and its travels across the country with a military family.  They know they can visit it if they like (it was hard for them to sell it but it was degrading in the unaircond…

Gedmatch How To

Since I last blogged I explored Gedmatch.  It was simple (and free!) to use and I highly recommend it.  Here's how:

First watch the Youtube video Gedmatch Basics.  There is no handout but you really don't need one.I had already created an account on the site but if you haven't, you can make one as you're watching the video.Once you've logged in to Gedmatch, look on the right side where you'll upload your DNA files.  I had one 23andMe and one Ancestry to upload and compare.  If you're not sure how to get your DNA files, don't worry!  The video and the Gedmatch site will direct you to the provider and step you through downloading it to your computer and then uploading it to Gedmatch.Now you're ready to analyze what you've uploaded.  Not all features are available immediately but that's okay, what you'll be most interested in is the 1 to Many which compared shared DNA to everyone who's uploaded on the site and the 1 to 1 which compares …

And More Results...

Last time I blogged about my son's autosomal dna results being returned so quickly from Ancestry.  Minutes after I finished that blog, 23andMe sent me an email that my results were back.  We're still waiting for hubby's results from 23andMe.  All three kits were mailed at the exact same time.  I'm not complaining about 23andMe, my results were returned 2 weeks to the day they received them and the original information said results would be back in 4-6 weeks.

Like me son, there was no startling surprises.  Instead, it confirmed that I have quite a bit of neanderthal dna which my mom swore we did.  I gasped when I saw the numbers.  Don't you hate it when your parents were right?!  I wish my mom was alive to see those findings.  When I told hubby he was stunned.  "How did your mom know that?"  he asked.  She was always fascinated with them and read anything she could.  Back in the day, the thought was there was none of their dna surviving.  I would tell my…

The Results Are In!

On Amazon Prime Day, I purchased 3 autosomal DNA kits - two from 23andMe and 1 from Ancestry.  Seven years ago, hubby and I tested through Ancestry.  He completed mt and y; obviously I just could do mt.  Ancestry has long since stopped supporting those test results although they are still available to view on their site.  Back in those days, I never connected with anyone.  My "closest" match was Marie Antoinette of  "let them eat cake" fame.  I was so unimpressed I decided not to upgrade when autosomal became available.

A second cousin of mine reconnected with me via Find-A-Grave and in our back and forth emails, had tested with National Geographic.  We compared maternal Hapogroup and not surprisingly, were the same.

The more I read about dna, which was my genealogy goal this year, and since I am an only child I thought I could gain some additional info on my paternal side by taking an autosomal test.  I also was interested in comparing my husband and his sister …

Must Reads

Still catching up from my recent vacations and would like to pass on some awesome articles I've just read:

Ancient DNA solves the mystery of the Canaanites (Washington Post)

She thought she was Irish... (Washington Post)

How a rare skin disease links SA to an 18th century Frenchman (The Conversation Africa)

Save the Census (New York Times)

Plus, just announced, Legacy Family Tree will merge with MyHeritage.  Special deals coming soon!

Small, Small World

Disney is right - it's a small world after all!  Just back from my travels through the jungles of Central America with a family member and the similarities I've encountered were quite interesting.

First stop was Grand Cayman; our driver gave us historical insights as he took us around the island.  The cemeteries, above ground, reminded my of New Orleans.  It doesn't take a genius to figure out if you can't go down you go up!  The colorful island flowers left on graves was a custom that I've found everywhere.  It's nice to see the commonality of remembering our ancestors.

Next we visited Honduras which reminded me of the West Tampa neighborhood.  At the beach we met a local who told us about his educational journey from the island to the mainland for high school.  He received a technical degree in air conditioning but was unable to find work so he returned to his birth island.  Sure, wars, religious persecution, natural disasters and limited marriage opportuni…

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 pub…

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 …

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 yo… 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 anyt…

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 i…

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.

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.

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.…

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…