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Wednesday, 29 April 2015
How to Create a Research Plan in Evernote
Posted by Diane
A genealogy research plan can help you identify the genealogy
information and resources you need to answer a family history
question. You know, one like "When and why between 1894 and 1900 did my
third-great-grandmother drop off the face of the earth?"
Not that I
would know anything about this particular problem or anything.
Having your research plan handy on your phone or laptop can help you
stay focused and let you check it when you're not at home. Keeping it on Evernote is a great way to do that, as you'll learn in
our webinar Enhance
Your Genealogy With Evernote: 10 Projects to Boost Your Family
History, happening Thursday, May 7, with Lisa
Evernote also lets you organize your notes, upload record images to
the cloud for later analysis, and more.
Here's a sneak peek at how to set up a research plan in Evernote,
one of the projects Lisa will show you during the webinar:
- Set up a notebook in Evernote and give it a name related to
the question you're trying to answer.
- Click to select the notebook in the left-hand column, then
create a note for each of the five components of your research
plan. Each note will include information specific to your
- Objective: What do you want to accomplish? Be
specific, such as “Identify Hiram Hornhoffer’s parents.”
- Known facts: What have you already learned about
your ancestors? Include relationships, dates and places.
- Working hypothesis: Note the probable conclusions
that you hope to prove or disprove.
- Identified sources: Which records are most likely to
provide information about your hypothesis? Create a list of
possible sources and note where to find each source.
- Research strategy: This is your plan of action.
Determine the order in which you’ll locate each source.
When you're finished, you'll have something that looks like this:
- Create a tag for the project and tag any related notes.
Visit ShopFamilyTree.com to see what other Evernote genealogy
projects you'll learn in the Enhance
Your Genealogy With Evernote webinar, and to register.
Research Tips | Tech Advice | Webinars
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 14:05:29 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, 27 April 2015
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Melissa Etheridge Discovers Her French Canadian Roots
Posted by Diane
We don’t often hear family histories involving 18th-century French
fur trappers living along the Mississsippi River. But that’s what
singer Melissa Etheridge
discovered in last night’s season-concluding episode of "Who
Do You Think You Are?"
Etheridge’s mother had already researched a family tree back to
Quebec in the early 1700s. So Etheridge headed to Quebec City to
find out more about her sixth-great-grandfather Francois Janis. In
the episode, we're told that the French were “pre-eminent takers of
censuses.” I believe it, after seeing a published version of a 1716
census that named everyone in the household, their ages and
relationships, the man’s occupation and the street they
This census data appears in volume 8 of Répertoire des actes de
baptême, mariage, sépulture et des recensements du Québec
here to see library holdings in WorldCat for the original French
publication and here
to see an English-language guide to using it at the Family History
At the Quebec National Archives, Etheridge digs through court
documents about her fifth-great-grandfather’s sister Charlotte, who
became pregnant as a teenager. Her father pressed charges against
the baby’s father in both ecclesiastical and civil court. The couple
eventually wed, although we learned the baby died.
You can find French
Catholic church records for both Quebec and the
early United States, both from the
Drouin collection, at subscription site Ancestry.com.
has Family Tree Magazine's guide to French Canadian genealogy
research, which covers church and other essential records. We
also have the Genealogy
at a Glance cheat sheet to French Canadian research.
Etheridge’s fifth-great grandfather, Francois’ son Nicolas, migrated
by water routes to the heart of the Midwest, where her own father
grew up several generations later. He first traveled to Kaskaskia, a
French fur trading town on the Mississippi River, now in Illinois.
Nicolas made a good living but had to move his family across the
Mississippi into Spanish territory after the Americans gained claim
to lands east of the river.
Need help tracking ancestral migration routes? Check
out our on-demand video class, Hints for Solving Migration
» Guest post by Sunny Jane Morton, Family Tree Magazine contributing editor
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | French Canadian roots | Research Tips
Monday, 27 April 2015 10:03:18 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, 24 April 2015
Genealogy News Corral: April 20-24
Posted by Diane
A former member of Ancestry.com's now-defunct MyFamily.com website wrote
in a Slate article that the stories, recipes and other
discussions his family shared via MyFamily.com were not exported
before the site shut down last September—despite assurances to site members that their memories would be preserved. The author's relative followed the
site's instructions to export the family's data, but when she
recently opened the file, it contained only their photos uploaded to
MyFamily.com—no text files. You
can read the article, which contains Ancestry.com's response to
the author's inquiries, here.
Ancestry.com | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy | MyHeritage
Friday, 24 April 2015 16:36:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, 22 April 2015
Using Old Maps to Answer My Genealogy Question
Posted by Diane
Genealogists love old maps. I could browse the David Rumsey Map Collection
for days. But maps are more than cool to look at.
In our Use
Historical Maps to Solve Research Problems webinar on Tuesday, April 28, D. Joshua
Taylor will show you how to use maps as tools to figure
out questions such as migrations, boundary changes,
birthplace locations and more. (You might remember Josh as one of the hosts of "Genealogy
Here's how old maps helped me figure out a family migration (albeit
a short one) that I didn't realize had happened:
Awhile ago, I found my great-great-grandfather H.A. Seeger's May 28,
1879, mortgage record for the property at the corner of Abigail and
Pendleton streets in Cincinnati.
(1884), Plan of Cincinnati and Vicinity by S. Augustus Mitchell,
David Rumsey Map Collection
This was, I thought, the corner
cigar store his family owned into the 1950s, the one my mom
remembers visiting as a child, and which in the early 1980s still
bore the outline of its "H.A. Seeger Cigar Manufacturer" sign.
Here's its location on a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map in 1904:
Maps of Cincinnati (1904), Public
Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Virtual Library
The street has been renamed and buildings renumbered over the years; my
address timeline (taken from old records such as city directories
and censuses) includes:
But then I found a Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper notice from June 4,
1890, of an estate sale for that building. It was part of the estate
of Joseph Otten, named grantor in that 1879 mortgage along with his
- 112 Abigail in 1879
- 124 Abigail in 1882
- 434 Abigail in 1896
- 434 E. 12th in 1900
How could the place be up for sale, when my ancestors lived there at the time and
continued to live there later?
The Ottens' wills offered no explanation, and I couldn't find
evidence that H.A. Seeger purchased the property from Otten's
But on this 1891 Sanborn Fire Insurance map (published closer to the time of my ancestor's property purchase), I
noted a building numbered 112 six doors down from number 124 on the corner.
Historic Maps (1891), OhioLINK Digital Resource Commons (must be an
Ohio resident or have an Ohio public library card)
So my family lived at 112 Abigail from 1879 to 1882, then they moved
down the street. This probably occurred to some of you—I guess it
goes to show how a family story can give you genealogical blinders.
The maps helped me take off my blinders.
As confirmation, I found lot numbers on this 1869 atlas:
part VI embracing 9th & 13th wards (1869), Titus'
Atlas of Hamilton Co., Ohio From Actual Surveys by R.H. Harrison,
C.E. ... , David Rumsey
The map doesn't have building numbers, but matching it up with the
1891 Sanborn map showsthe building at 112 Abigail is on lot no.
29, the one referenced in the 1879 mortgage record.
The cigar store is lot number 23. Now my genealogy to-do
list includes looking for a deed for that lot (as well as
re-reading the 1879 mortgage to better understand the transaction).
The cigar store has since been combined with the building on the back of the lot, as I learned from the Hamilton County Auditor site and Google Maps, and the front door relocated to the side street.
In the Use Historical Maps to Solve Research Problems
webinar, Taylor will cover map resources and tech tools that help you make the most of maps, as well as give examples for solving problems. Learn
more about the
webinar in ShopFamilyTree.com.
Maps | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, 22 April 2015 12:34:57 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, 20 April 2015
HistoryLines Website Announces Public Launch
Posted by Diane
HistoryLines.com, a site that
helps you create personalized life stories for your ancestors with historical
context, photos and an interactive map, has officially launched to
the public after several months of beta testing and a "soft launch"
Co-founder Jeff Haddon says HistoryLines addresses two major "pain
points" many genealogists face in sharing their ancestors' stories: The
lack of detail about ancestors' lives and the time needed to compose a
story from gathered research.
You can try the site for free by creating two ancestral stories.
Subscriptions cost $9.99 per month or $59 per year, and if you sign
up before April 30, you can save 30 percent by using code
You start by creating a tree, either by entering names and dates on the
site, or by importing a GEDCOM or a FamilySearch family tree. I
created a small tree with just my second-great-grandparents' birth and death dates and
places, to see what the site would do with that basic
information. Here's the start of my great-great-grandmother's story:
It weaves her life dates into a story of life at that time. It has descriptions of the local area and historical events (such as
the Civil War and the Homestead Act), along with sections with
information childhood, clothing, education, marriage, religion and
I can edit each section to include more personal information, and
add pictures. Here, I've edited the "Marries" section with the
church where they married.
You also can add a section about a family member, immigration,
residence or other event.
Stories are currently available for ancestors in England, Ireland,
Wales, the United States, Denmark, and Germany from 1600 to 1950.
Haddon told me he hired college history majors to research
historical events and write about them (sounds like a job I would've
loved in college!) in such a way that the information would flow
naturally when combined with users' family tree data.
Features new with the launch include the
ability to export your ancestors' life stories in PDF format and
share them on social media. You also can access source citations for
the historical context that's information added to your ancestor's
Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, 20 April 2015 15:13:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Bill Paxton Traces American Revolution Roots
Posted by Diane
Bill Paxton visits his fourth-great-grandfather's remote gravesite.
Follow along as guest blogger Sunny Jane Morton recaps last night's
Do You Think You Are?" episode with actor Bill Paxton, and
shares links to resources for researching ancestors in the American
From a Revolutionary War battle to the final decades of slavery in
the United States, last night’s episode of "Who Do You Think You
Are?" on TLC spanned early American history through the life of
Benjamin Sharp, the fourth-great-grandfather of celebrity guest Bill
Genealogist Kyle Betit helped Paxton use the Daughters
of the American Revolution (DAR) Genealogical Research System,
which you can use, too. It contains databases listing Patriot
ancestors on whom DAR members have based their applications,
descendants of those Patriots linking them to DAR members, and
can download Family Tree Magazine's tutorial for searching
DAR genealogy databases from ShopFamilyTree.com.
Benjamin was only about 14 when he participated in the Revolutionary
War. That’s young, but what really caught Paxton’s eye was
Benjamin’s role: a spy! Paxton learned more about Benjamin’s service
in the local militia at the DAR
Library in Washington, D.C. Then Paxton visited King’s Mountain National
Military Park in South Carolina and read Benjamin’s first-hand
recollection of the battle that took place there.
Revolutionary War ancestors are fascinating, whether they were
Patriots or British Loyalists. They lived in a critical but
uncertain time and had to make risky decisions that could affect
their families for generations. A variety of documents can tell you
more about Revolutionary War service, including compiled military
service records (indexed on FamilySearch.org
and available on subscription site Fold3);
muster rolls and payroll records (look for these on Fold3 and Ancestry.com)
and pension and bounty land application records (search for free on
FamilySearch.org.) Learn more with Researching
Revolutionary War Ancestors, our video class by D. Joshua Taylor.
Bill Paxton’s ancestor’s story didn’t end with the Revolutionary
War. Benjamin Sharp eventually rose through the ranks of US
government service and accumulated a fair fortune. But Paxton was
unhappy to learn that Benjamin owned slaves (“All our ancestors
disappoint us.”). He took some comfort in knowing that Benjamin’s
will, while it didn't free his slaves “Bill and Judy," did express
concern for their well-being, commanding that they not be sold
outside the family against their will. An 1850 census record,
created after Benjamin's death, shows that the Sharp family
apparently did grant Bill and Judy their freedom.
Next week is the last episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" for a
while. Stay tuned for singer-songwriter
Melissa Etheridge, who travels to Quebec to learn more about
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Military records
Monday, 20 April 2015 10:47:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, 17 April 2015
Genealogy News Corral: April 13-17
Posted by Diane
The New England Historic Genealogical Society will honor Mary
Matalin and James Carville with the society's Lifetime Achievement
Award for their commitment to the advancement and preservation of
The couple, known for their opposing political views
and as authors of the memoir Love & War: Twenty Years, Three
Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home, will speak
on "Our American Heritage" at a benefit dinner April 24. Find
more details on AmericanAncestors.org.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Friday, 17 April 2015 15:01:38 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, 16 April 2015
Free Access to Ancestry.com Immigration Records Through April 20
Posted by Diane
Genealogy website Ancestry.com
is offering free access to the site's immigration records now
through April 20 at midnight ET.
searching here. You'll be prompted to sign up for a free basic
account after you enter an ancestor's information and click Search.
It looks like in order to download the record, you'll need to start a
two-week free trial.
Ancestry.com | immigration records
Thursday, 16 April 2015 15:51:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, 15 April 2015
My Genetic Genealogy Test Results: What to Do Now?
Posted by Diane
I finally took a DNA test, not only to learn more about my family
history but also to build my background knowledge for Family
Tree Magazine's genetic genealogy coverage.
These are my ethnicity results for my Ancestry
DNA test (which was provided in a press kit for TLC's "Who
Do You Think You Are?"):
Thanks to Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard's article in the
forthcoming July/August 2015 Family Tree Magazine, I'm not
totally taken aback by these results. For example, people with
German ancestry (that's me) often get results with Scandinavian
heritage, even when they don't have ancestors from Scandinavia
My paternal great-grandparents were Lebanese, which probably
explains the 28 percent Italy/Greece (I don't have ancestors from Italy or Greece) and the West Asian trace
regions. DNA from my Irish third-great-grandparents and English
fourth-great-grandparents is reflected in my Irish and British
These percentages are interesting, but not extremely helpful when it
comes to genealogy research. Genetic matches are the most useful
part of genetic genealogy results—if you know how to use them. I'm
finding out I could use some help there.
I'm not in any DNA
Circles, nor do I have any Ancestor
Discoveries. A couple of matches I already knew are cousins. A
couple others have trees with surnames that also are in my tree,
so I can guess how we're related. But the vast majority of my
matches, mostly categorized as distant cousins, either don't have an
online tree, have a private tree (I'm not upset about this—I
understand that plenty of folks do genealogy for themselves, not
because they want to share their trees with the world), or have a
public tree but no names in common with mine.
I'll randomly click through trees of matches in that last group, looking for places that also
appear in my tree. I might note that a person has ancestors from
Germany or Ohio or Indiana. I've emailed two or three matches (I
haven't heard back). So my DNA experience has been anticlimactic so
There has to be a better, more-organized way.
Has your testing experience been similar to mine? Are you unsure
what to do now that you have your genetic genealogy results? Or are
you still thinking about DNA testing, but you want to get the most
out of your results?
Our next Family Tree University weeklong workshop is for you (and
Genealogy Bootcamp runs April 20-27, and includes six video
classes (which are yours to watch whenever you want, even after the
workshop is over), exclusive workshop message board discussions, and
advice from genetic genealogy expert and the Genetic
Genealogist blogger Blaine Bettinger.
a look at the Genetic Genealogy Bootcamp program at Family Tree
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 13:33:20 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Free Civil War Genealogy Records on Fold3 Through April 30
Posted by Diane
In honor of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War on
April 9, Fold3 is
making its Civil War records collection free to access through
Run a search in the collection, and when you click to view a record,
you'll be prompted to set up a free basic Fold3 membership (or to
sign in to your current account).
The Civil War Collection has 47 databases, including:
Fold3.com Civil War records here. Need step-by-step guidance?
You can have it immediately with Family
Tree Magazine's downloadable Fold3.com Web Guide, available in
- Civil War Service Records (this collection doesn't have the
"Free" designation in the Civil War databases listing, but if you click it
and select Union or Confederate, you'll see that the individual
states are designated Free)
- Confederate Amnesty Papers
- Letters Received by the Adjutant General
- Navy Widows' Certificates
- Southern Claims (Approved, and Barred and Disallowed)
Civil War | Fold3
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 13:20:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, 13 April 2015
"Who Do You Think You Are?" America Ferrera Discovers the Story of Her Honduran Ancestor
Posted by Diane
Guest blogger Sunny Jane Morton recaps last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?", with tips to help you find genealogy records the way America Ferrera did.
Ferrera (you may have watched her a few years back on "Ugly
Betty" or heard her voice Astrid on "How to Train Your Dragon") is
an unusual "Who Do You Think You Are?" guest because her family came
so recently to the United States.
I liked feeling the immediacy of her ties to the Central American
country of Honduras—her parents' birthplace—in last night’s episode.
She didn’t need translation help most of the time: She could
interview Spanish-speakers and read old documents herself.
America’s family history journey begins when she boards a plane to
La Esperanza, Honduras, where her father died. He left her family in
the United States when she was young and never came back. She wants
to know why. She doesn’t get a satisfying answer from his friend
(“he had emotional problems”) but is comforted to learn that her
father missed his children and talked about them often. Like many
people must do, she turns to the more distant past.
She ends up focusing on the story of her great-grandfather, a
controversial and powerful figure in Honduran military and political
history. Through his story we learn about struggles at the top
levels of Honduran government in the early 1900s. His name appears
in elementary school records, a census, newspapers, confidential US
government reports, and even Time magazine. This makes
Fererra laugh in surprise. (“My great-grandpa’s name is in Time
magazine? That’s kind of amazing and insane that I didn’t know
As views inside the Honduran national archives show, many
international repositories are still fairly low-tech. They haven’t
digitized or indexed many of their holdings. Yet some Central
American resources are online. FamilySearch.org
has some digitized censuses, church and other records for Honduras
censuses are called padrones; click here to learn more
about them). You can find an introduction
to Honduras genealogy here and overlapping
resources (including the colonial censuses) at Ancestry.com.
Trace your own immigrant ancestors—wherever they were from—with our
Immigrant Ancestors Premium Collection. When the records you
need aren't readily available online or by renting microfilm, you'll
want our video
class on working with foreign-language records and repositories—it'll
help you with strategies from writing to overseas archives to hiring
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Hispanic Roots
Monday, 13 April 2015 09:32:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, 09 April 2015
Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the End of the Civil War
Posted by Diane
House, Appomattox, Va.
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil
Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee met at the McLean House in Appomattox Court House,
Va., April 9, 1865, where the Army of Northern Virginia
The fighting didn't immediately stop. Unaware of the surrender or of
President Lincoln's assassination April 14, Union Ge. James H.
Wilson and his "Raiders" took Columbus, Ga., in a battle April 16.
Confederate soldiers defeated Col. Theodore H. Barrett's Union
troops at the Battle of Palmito Ranch outside Brownsville, Texas,
General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh
Sherman April 26 at Bennett Place,
a farm in Durham, NC. Other surrenders followed, the last one being
Capt. James Iredell Waddell's surrender of the ship Shenandoah
President Andrew Johnson formally declared the war over Aug. 20,
In the May/June 2015 Family Tree Magazine, now mailing to subscribers,
you'll find a guide to locating Southern ancestors, black and white,
who were uprooted during the social and economic upheaval following
can get started tracing a Civil War soldier with these tips from
And research Civil War-era ancestors with help from these
Thursday, 09 April 2015 16:24:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, 08 April 2015
Scandinavian Genealogy: Chart of Patronymic Surname Suffixes in Norway, Sweden and Denmark
Posted by Diane
Patronymic surnames (formed by adding a prefix or suffix to the
first name of a child's father) exist in many countries, but the
Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden and Denmark are perhaps
best known for their patronymic naming systems.
On the plus side, patronyms give you clues to a
father's name, but a surname that changes with every generation can
make it hard to trace a family over time. The "rules" for creating a
patronym also changed with the time, place and family.
Each Scandinavian country’s residents used different suffixes, shown
in the chart below, to form their patronymic surnames. Norway
generally followed the pattern of the ruling country.
holds true through most of the 18th and 19th centuries. Then as
countries began passing laws that mandated fixed surnames, families
slowly began adopting them. Late in the 19th century, many families,
especially in Denmark, began using the male extension for both sons
|Norway before 1814 (Danish rule)
|Norway 1814-1905 (Swedish rule)
|Norway after 1905 (independence)
Sorting out patronymics is just one skill you'll learn in our Family
Tree University online course Scandinavian
Genealogy 101, which runs April 13-May 8. The course also
covers history and geography and their effect on your research,
language and genealogical terminology, and church and other records
of Scandinavian countries.
more about Scandinavian Genealogy 101, see a course outline and
register at FamilyTreeUniversity.com.
Research Tips | Scandinavian Roots | Swedish roots
Wednesday, 08 April 2015 13:29:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, 06 April 2015
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Tony Goldwyn Discovers Roots in Oregon
Posted by Diane
Thanks to guest blogger and Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Sunny Jane Morton for this recap of last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" with actor/director Tony Goldwyn. She also offers tips for finding old newspapers, an important resource in this episode:
We don’t often get to learn much about our female forebears’
personal lives and values. Neither do we get many glimpses into our
ancestors’ marriages, unless they end in scandal or divorce. But Tony
Goldwyn’s episode of "Who
Do You Think You Are?" yesterday paints a compelling portrait
of his third-great-grandparents Nathaniel and Mary Coe. And it does
this with the types of documents that are available to anyone else
out there willing to search for them.
As a young couple, Nathaniel and Mary Coe lived in New York. In
1838, Mary organized a ladies’ group to crusade against sexual
exploitation of women. Ten years later, Nathaniel was in the state
legislature, promoting an anti-rape law. Newspapers followed their
efforts with varying attitudes toward their cause.
The family ended up in Oregon after Nathaniel’s presidential
appointment as a US postal mail agent. Nathaniel and Mary promoted
settlement of the Oregon
Territory and championed the growth of their own little town.
Goldwyn was disappointed to learn that his ancestors expressed a
callous prejudice toward the American Indians they were displacing.
But he also praised them as pioneers who were “absolutely equal and
indispensable partners” in their marriage at a time when this was
The Coes' story couldn’t have been told without newspapers. I loved
watching Goldwyn page gingerly through enormous original newspaper
pages with crumbling edges. "WDYTYA?" also mentioned news stories
found at the subscription website Newspapers.com
(owned by show sponsor Ancestry.com)
and the free Historic
Oregon Newspapers website.
Another great online resource for newspapers is the Library of
Congress' free Chronicling
America, where you can search a sampling of digitized
newspapers from across the country, as well as a comprehensive directory of
all US newspapers by location, date and other categories. Learn more
about newspaper research in our video class Three
Cool Tools for Finding Your Family History in Newspapers,
presented by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems.
I was more than a little envious when Goldwyn visited the Oregon Historical Society in
Portland and found neatly archived boxes of original family
documents. There was a scrapbook and letters that detailed the
family’s adventures and challenges on the Oregon frontier. Our Libraries
and Archives Web Guide download can help you work the web to
search for those kinds of hidden treasures about your family that
may be buried in a library or archive.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Monday, 06 April 2015 09:05:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, 03 April 2015
Watch Tony Goldwyn Trace His Roots to Oregon This Sunday on "Who Do You Think You Are?"
Posted by Diane
Stay up this Sunday to watch actor and director Tony Goldwyn follow
the trail of his family history to Oregon on "Who
Do You Think You Are?" It's at 10/9 Central on TLC.
I'm looking forward to this one not only for the story and genealogy search,
but also because it looks to show off some of the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge scenery I
remember from waaaaay back when I lived in Portland.
(Fun fact: I wrote a
genealogy guide to Portland for Family Tree Magazine in 2001, and was a volunteer room monitor at that year's National Genealogical Society conference in the Rose City. You
can get Sunny Jane Morton's updated Portland, Ore., research guide
Check out the view at the end of this sneak preview:
Come right back here on Monday for Sunny's "Who Do You Think You
Are?" recap and tips from the episode.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Friday, 03 April 2015 13:00:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Free UK, German and Canadian Genealogy Records This Weekend on Ancestry International Sites
Posted by Diane
Several of Ancestry.com's
international sister sites are offering free genealogy records from
now through this weekend:
Scroll down to the bottom of each of the pages linked above to see a
list of records included in the free search, as well as when the site's free access period expires. Registration is required to view search
results (I was prompted to register right after I ran a search).
Ancestry.com | Canadian roots | German roots | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 03 April 2015 12:17:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, 02 April 2015
Ancestry DNA Introduces New Ancestor Discoveries for Genetic Genealogy Tests
Posted by Diane
DNA, the genetic genealogy arm of Ancestry.com, has launched
New Ancestor Discoveries, a still-in-beta feature that can use your DNA matches to
show you who your ancestors were.
The feature builds on DNA
Circles, announced late last year, which creates circles of
genetically matching individuals who also have matching people in
their Ancestry member trees.
What happens is this:
- You take a DNA test with Ancestry DNA.
- In six to eight weeks, you receive a notification that your
results are available, and you go into your Ancestry.com account
to view them.
- On your results page, you see the faces of ancestral people who aren't in your
Ancestry member tree (if you have one), but who are in the trees of other testers whom you match:
- You click on an ancestral person, and see a window like this,
with basic information about the person and the DNA Circle
that links you to this person:
- If you click the green "Learn About" link, and you also are an
Ancestry.com subscriber, you can see a Lifestory for the person,
compiled from the person's profiles in multiple public member
trees on Ancestry.com. This page is accessible only through the
DNA Circle or New Ancestor Discovery experience, and includes
photos, records and life events about the person. It looks like
- If you click the gray "See how you are related" link, you see an illustration of
the circle, highlighting the individuals you match and how those
matches are related to the ancestral person. The thicker the
orange line, the stronger your genetic connection to a person.
This is an updated presentation of DNA Circle information; you
can use the tab to see a list view of circle members.
An update to DNA Circles is that they now include anyone in
your tree, not just those in your direct ancestral lines. For
example, if your third-great-granduncle is in your Ancestry member
tree and you're genetically related to members of his circle,
you'll be included in his circle even though you don't descend
Read more about New Ancestor Discoveries and watch a video demo on the Ancestry.com blog.
You can read
Ancestry.com's press release about New Ancestor Discoveries here.
Ancestry.com | Genetic Genealogy
Thursday, 02 April 2015 09:40:08 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, 01 April 2015
Working on My Last-Name Problem: When Genealogy Records Disagree
Posted by Diane
I was doing a casual online search in the Northern
Kentucky Newspaper Index when the name "Kolbeck, Theresa
Seeger" jumped out and smacked me in the face. It was among a list
of deaths announced in the Feb. 23, 1937, Kentucky Post.
Recently, I learned
that a Teresa was the sister of my immigrant
great-great-grandfather Heinrich Arnold Seeger (spelled Seger
in Germany). Kolbeck is the maiden name of Heinrich's and Teresa's
mother, and it's the surname of seemingly every other person in
their birthplace of Steinfeld, Germany (at least according to the
church records I viewed at the Family History Library in
Could Theresa Seeger Kolbeck be Heinrich Arnold's sister, who married
a possible cousin and settled in the United States near her brother? Here's
what I've discovered so far in researching this question:
|1. Mary Theresa (Seeger) Kolbeck
||2. Maria Teresia Seger
|Feb. 18, 1849, Germany
||Feb. 15, 1849, Steinfeld, Germany
|Herman Henry Kolbeck (probably before date of immigration)
|1873 (probably May 16)
|Feb. 22, 1937
The death certificate for Theresa No. 1, which asks for parents'
names, should've helped clear it up. But the informant, Mrs. Ben
Schlarman (Theresa's daughter Mary, born about 1884), didn't know
The Last-Name Problem
But then something made me question whether Seeger is even Theresa's
correct maiden name:
This passage is from a profile of George Heuer, husband of Theresa's
daughter Elizabeth, in the biographical section of History
of Kentucky, vol. 3 (available on
Google Books). It says that Theresa's maiden and married names
were both Kolbeck. The writer takes care to point out that
Elizabeth's parents weren't related before marriage.
But Mrs. Virginia Eilers, the Heuers' daughter born in 1908 (and not mentioned in the above bio), believed that Seeger
was the right maiden name. That's the name she supplied on the 1946
death certificate of her mother and the 1947 death certificate of
her aunt, the aforementioned Mrs. Ben Schlarman:
What to Believe?
So which should I believe? The death certificates of Theresa's
daughters, for whom the informant was a granddaughter (who also might've provided the information for the death announcement indexed in the
database where I first found Theresa No. 1)?
A death record is a
primary source—created at the time of the event by a person who
witnessed it—but it's usually a secondary source for the deceased's
parents' names. The informant wouldn't have firsthand knowledge of
those names (unless a parent was the informant, such as on a child's
Or should I go with the biography in History of Kentucky,
by William Elsey Connelley and E. M. Coulter, Ph.D., edited by Judge
Charles Kerr, published in 1922 by the American Historical Society?
This is a secondary source, compiled well after the reported events
by those without firsthand knowledge.
Biographical collections are known for their potential for inaccuracy: Families
might exaggerate their relatives' accomplishments or provide
mistaken information, which could become further distorted in
editing. (Maybe Theresa read the published bio and said, "No, no, no! I said my mother's last name was the same as my husband's.")
I won't believe any of these records for now, and I'll keep looking for the parents of
Theresa No. 1 and the spouse and later life events of Teresa No. 2.
I should get the full death announcement from the Kentucky
Post, and rent the microfilm of Steinfeld's church records to
look for a marriage for Teresa No. 2. The Northern
Kentucky Genealogy Index lists the baptisms of several
children of Theresa and Herman Kolbeck, so I can go to the library
to view the church records on microfilm.
If you're trying to solve a genealogy question like this one, we'll
help you create a step-by-step research plan with our Road Map to
Your Roots guide.
Tree Problem Solver: Tried and True Tactics for Tracing Elusive
Ancestors is another great source of strategies and
examples for answering tough genealogy questions.
FamilySearch | Genealogy books | German roots | Research Tips
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 09:32:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)