blueswan: nancy drew silhouette (sometimes I feel like a detective)
[personal profile] blueswan2017-09-09 07:27 pm

(no subject)

Recently I was corresponding with a new-found third cousin and we were moaning about the difficulties of researching in the western provinces when she provided me with a little story about how her family went west. Short story shorter, " Our line headed out to Manitoba in the same generation as Mary Ann and co (her brother James William and his wife came out - she was on her own, pregnant, with the older children and ended up shipwrecked after a storm on the lake, and gave birth on Manitoulin Island".

When I read that, I shouted, "Wait! I know this story." Which I speedily typed out and sent to her and then I had to dig up the links. I could have just sent her the link to A Little Mystery Solved. It's interesting to see how family stories can be retained by some parts of the family and lost to other parts. At this point, we think maybe Mrs. Morley and kids were on the Manitoulin which wrecked just off Manitoulin Island with only two lives lost. Mind you that was several months before the Asia sank so we aren't sure why they thought Mrs Morley and kids were on the Asia. I did find out where the fourth child came in, I guess that was the paper's subtle way of letting those who knew about the pregnancy know the child had arrived safely.

I just wanted to share this as a follow up to my original post because truly the answers are out. Even the ones to little stories that give the past some texture. (I think this is one of the coolest stories I've had happen while researching my family history.)

Ancestry's 4th of July video

I thought people here might enjoy the video Ancestry made for U.S. Independence Day. Everyone featured in the video is descended from a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Embedded video under the cut )

Book rec: The German in America (Bogen, 1852)

Several branches of my family emigrated from Germany to the US, so lately I've been doing some background reading on German history. Today I came across The German in America by F. W. Bogen (link goes to, where there's a full scan of the book). It's a guidebook for German immigrants published in 1852. The book is in German with a facing-page English translation and contains advice about travel arrangements, learning English, finding work, and adjusting to American ways, as well as the full text of the US Constitution and biographies of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

It's neat to think about the possibility that my ancestors might have used this book or one like it.

Here's my favorite passage:

"If you intend to go to the interior, be not detained either in New-York or in other great cities by Germans residing there. They will tell you stories about bears and wolves, and impenetrable forests, and poisonous swamps, which they say, are in the interior; they will paint before you phantoms of terror of every kind, in order to detain you in the cities. Believe them not! Be not deceived thereby! If you have relations or acquaintances in the interior, who have written you, travel to them. If you were accustomed to a country life in Germany, and like it, a country life in America will please you, as many thousands of your countrymen are very much pleased with it, and are doing very well."
blueswan: nancy drew silhouette (sometimes I feel like a detective)
[personal profile] blueswan2017-04-23 08:51 am

Ancestry DNA Match - Tracking down the Elusive Cousin Match

Back in February, I was notified I had a new match in the first to second cousin range. This is rare. I personally know my first and first once removed cousins, and I know of my second cousins so I was excited. I sent a message off right away. *crickets*

So I (im)patiently wait. And wait. Yesterday I fired off a less enthused message and crossed my fingers. Here is the exchange that took place last night:

Me: Hi my name is L. I sent an email a while back which may have been a little too enthused. I was just so happy to see someone appear on my list of matches that was so closely related. If you would like to discuss this further I would love to hear from you.

SW: Hi my great grandfather is F H.

Me: My grandfather was F H from Ontario. He was married to L L from Muskoka District Ontario. Their children were E, F, C and O. Is this the same family?

SW:Yes. Is your dad C?

Me: Yes. (and now I know roughly who this is) Are you one of D's kid?

SW: Yes. I'm his son.

Me: Is this Wes?

Wes is my brother's grandson. I don't know him personally. Due to family weirdness and a divorce, I've only met my brother a handful of times, and never met his children (all adults) or their kids. But this was just another incident of "small world" that I thought was worth sharing. It could only have happened because of Ancestry.
blueswan: nancy drew silhouette (sometimes I feel like a detective)
[personal profile] blueswan2017-03-09 10:04 am

Random Moments in Family History Research

"Not another Michael Shank!" Said loudly when your collateral relatives and direct ancestors prove themselves yet again, to be sadly lacking in imagination when it comes to naming their children. This is number six in an eighty year time-span. And I'm not counting the variations on the surname. That adds a bunch more to the lot.
blueswan: nancy drew silhouette (sometimes I feel like a detective)
[personal profile] blueswan2016-12-20 09:58 am

A very short look at Legacy and Roots Magic.

I've had Legacy for ages. It was free. It was also clunky and akward and in no way intuitive. Of course, it didn't advertise itself to not be those things. It was just what I was looking for as a user. In addition to webinars to "unlock" the dynamic power of fully understanding the secrets of Legacy, there is a sort of Legacy for Dummies manual. If something requires a dummies explanatory guide, I may not have the time or patience to deal with that thing. Last year when they had a sale, I forked over the money, but I never did manage to work up the steam to download the upgraded version of Legacy.

Yesterday I downloaded the free version of Roots Magic 7. I am so much happier with it straight out of the box, so to speak. Of course there are features on the free version that are not accessible, but that is to be expected. The company is still working on getting RM7 to sync with Ancestry which is a huge selling point for me. There is a to-go feature which allows you to copy RM7 to a USB drive and take it with you to run on other computers. There are brief tutorials on youtube which explains how to use particular features. Those I have looked at have been very satisfactory.

Overall my limited experience with both products leads me to think that Roots Magic is a better product for a user like myself. That being someone with little time to spend delving into the mysteries of a program. Mostly, I wanted a software program on my computer that I could use as a backup in case anything ever happens. It's my own little security blanket. I think RM7 and I are going to get along just fine.
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[personal profile] blueswan2016-11-25 12:46 pm


Just a heads up, Ancestry is offering half off their dna test kits internationally. Shipping remains the same of course, but still that is not a shabby deal. I've ordered a kit in the hopes I can convince the sole remaining aunt (rarely seen, and sometimes I forget she is still alive) or another relative to test.
blueswan: nancy drew silhouette (sometimes I feel like a detective)
[personal profile] blueswan2016-11-25 12:04 pm

The Unsinkable Albert Haines

Last night I was working on a new line of cousins, and discovered Albert Haines. Albert Haines was born in 1880 near Sandhurst, Kent England. Albert was the son of Emmanuel Haines and Mary Ann Hallett.

Albert first appears on the UK Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, in July of 1896 and served on the ship Impregnable. His last service date was in October 1903 on the ship Pembroke I. At some unknown date, he was employed by the White Star Line. There is record of him working as a boatswain's mate in 1912 for the White Star Line. Want to guess what ship he was working on? You got it. Albert was indeed a crew member of the Titanic and he was one of the survivors when she sank.

When the Titanic hit the iceberg he ended up commanding Lifeboat #9 during the evacuation. He was one of the 82 witnesses examined by the 1912 Inquiries into the Titanic Disaster by the US Senate and the British Wreck Commissioner. There is a wealth of information on the Titanic online and many books and movies as well.

Just a couple of years later, in April of 1914 Albert married Florence Elsie Southwell. They had one son, Ronald Jesse Haines, born in 1917. Albert retired from the sea in the early 1920's. Sadly, Albert was hit by a car, and died on the way to the hospital on June 6th, 1933.

Reviews of 3 genealogy books

I posted informal reviews of three genealogy books in my journal and thought folks here might be interested. The books in question are:

The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Germanic Ancestors in Europe by James M. Beidler

How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize Your Research and Boost Your Genealogy Productivity by Kerry Scott

Guide to Genealogical Writing: How to Write and Publish Your Family History by Penelope L. Stratton and Henry B. Hoff, CG, FASG

Here's a link to my reviews post.
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[personal profile] dragonfly2016-11-11 01:26 am

Uncovering Distant Family Sexual Shenanigans Via DNA

So, through AncestryDNA, I have met a third cousin. Her mother and my father were second cousins. We shared trees, and a little chit chat and that was it, because, after all, as AncestryDNA "matches" we have no more mystery to figure out. We know how we connect. I'll call her Becky. Well, AncestryDNA also has a button you can push on a match's page called "shared matches." I was looking at someone who is supposed to be a fourth cousin to me, according the the DNA analysis, and she didn't have a real fleshed out family tree for me to browse. I pushed the "shared matches" button and saw Becky there. So I match Becky and this person, J, matches Becky, too. Logically, that narrows down J's and my connection a lot, since I know how I'm related to Becky. J must be a relation on my father's line. Cool. So I messaged J and said, hey do you have any [my surname] in your tree, I think we must be related blah blah because of Becky. She writes me right back to say she doesn't know of any [my surname] in her tree, but it could be on her grandfather's side because he never knew who his father was. His mother raised him alone and gave him her own last name, but she took the identity of his father to the grave with her. Well, that was interesting, but honestly, family trees often have a lot of missing branches so I didn't immediately assume that's where I fit in her tree. She asked where my [my surname] family came from. I told her where my grandfather was from in Iowa, and that his father was from a little Illinois town called Sidell and before that they came from two different counties in Ohio.

"My grandfather was born in Sidell," she tells me.

No shit? Oh my word. She gives me her grandfather's name and birth date in 1929 and I do some sleuthing in the census records and find two lines of my great-grandfather's family living in the immediate vicinity at the time. One line is my own line, and a little back-of-the-envelope family tree drawing shows me that if my own great-grandfather, or any of his brothers or his father had sired J's grandfather, our DNA connection would actually be closer than fourth cousins. But that other branch of the [my surname] family living in the area would be the exact right genetic distance. In 1929, the elder male of that family was in his early eighties. He had two married sons, both living on the west coast. One of those sons had a son exactly the age of J's great-grandmother. So any of these men could have fathered J's grandfather, but it would probably have been during a visit home to see family (okay the 80-year-old was still living there, but I'm mostly giving him a pass). The young man is a tempting suspect, but he wasn't married, so I don't see the strong need for the mother to keep his identity secret, even from her own son. I'm thinking it might have been one of the two married men in their forties.

I laid all this out for J, and she responded excitedly, because she says it's a mystery they've always wanted to solve. Her father must be still living, because she told me she checked some of the facts with him and she gave me a correction or two. We'd be searching for his grandfather he never knew.

On some reflection, I messaged her again with my conclusion that, while those men are perhaps prime suspects, the truth is, if I'm depending on a liaison occurring during a family visit, I have to admit that there were six other "lines" of that family, including the families of sisters (but who had sons) who didn't reside in the area, but could have come to visit. In truth, the search needs to broaden to include all those lines.

She hasn't answered me. That was a week ago. I can't help but wonder. I mean, for me it's a fun logic puzzle, but for them--for her father this could be somewhat emotional and coming out of the blue. I mean, I'm the one who PM'd her with my cheerful "hey, we could be related" message.
dragonfly: stained glass dragonfly in iridescent colors (Default)
[personal profile] dragonfly2016-10-23 11:14 pm

My Cherokee Princess

Ha! I've always been just a bit scornful of the common myth that people have Native American in their family trees. We know that it's usually spurious -- as a general rule, European immigrants didn't "mix" with Native Americans. Yes, it's probably unprovable in my family, as well, but, well, here's what happened.

I was talking to my uncle about the things I've learned about our ancestors. I said something to him like, "You know what your father told me?" I was talking about the supposed Irish origin of our family (our name does not look Irish), but he said, "He told you he was 1/32 Indian?"

What TF?

Uh, no. I don't remember him saying that. Yeah, my uncle told me, his father -- my grandfather -- said he was 1/32 Native American, probably on his mother's side, since we can trace his father's side straight back to Ireland on almost all lines. We discussed it and decided that most likely one of my grandfather's maternal uncles told him they were 1/16th NA. So I calculated back from that generation, and I swear -- no joke -- I hit a generation where I don't know their parents. I just have nothing.

::hangs head:: so my family has the Native American ancestry legend, too. Of course, my DNA showed absolutely no Native American, so there's that.
blueswan: nancy drew silhouette (sometimes I feel like a detective)
[personal profile] blueswan2016-10-17 09:36 am

Genetic Genealogy Question

I've been satisfied with how Ancestry has shaken loose new information through my dna results. In an attempt to shake more loose, I bought a kit during the last sale and got my sister to test. (There are no relatives left from earlier generations.) That is not optimal but has resulted in more people to add to my tree. So I am pleased by those results.

I've also uploaded both results to Gedmatch. Gedmatch hasn't been as helpful to be honest. The good part is it reconfirmed several individuals for whom the paperwork also indicated a relationship. But I already has those results from ancestry. However, it was good to know ancestry results are valid.

I'm considering asking my brother's son to do a Y test. There is an ongoing surname project to which I'd like to submit his results. There are rumours about being related to some people in American history, about which I'm dubious. But, I'm just curious enough to see if that sort of test might break some walls down in my father's family, while also confirming or denying those rumours.

I've been thinking about doing a mitochondrial test using my sister's daughter. She is soon going to be adding another daughter to the line of women in my family. I can only get back to 1861 so far following my mom's matrilineal line. I'm stuck at my 2nd great-grandmother for whom I only know her first name and that she was born in the US, possibly in New York state. It's a brick wall that has stymied people who have been researching that avenue far longer than I have.

I know very little about genetic genealogy. I've joined some groups and I'm reading up on the subject, so I'm trying to learn more, but the curve is very steep from my perspective. My question is would testing a niece and a nephew help to put a crack in those particular puzzles at all? If so, which company should I test with and should I just do the MtDNA and Y tests, or full tests? From what I've seen the other companies charge a fair bit more for Mt and Y testing than Ancestry does for autosomnal testing. That's a factor I have to consider.

Thanks for reading.
dragonfly: stained glass dragonfly in iridescent colors (Default)
[personal profile] dragonfly2016-07-26 08:13 pm

Don't be fooled by a lookalike to AncestryDNA

I'm seeing increasing numbers of people complaining that their AncestryDNA results are meaningless or insufficient and on closer inspection it turns out they bought a service called AncestrybyDNA. Costs less and is useless. Why are they not sued into oblivion? THey had the name before AncestryDNA was a thing.

So, anyway, beware.
blueswan: nancy drew silhouette (sometimes I feel like a detective)
[personal profile] blueswan2016-07-02 01:48 pm

Free Online Genealogy Course

The University of Strathclyde is running a free online course. This is a basic course in genealogy.

Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree.

This free online course offered by the University of Strathclyde and FutureLearn will help you develop an understanding of basic genealogy techniques and how to communicate your family history. Starts the 18th of July and runs for 6 weeks. The first course run attracted 26,000 students from around the world! Learn more and sign up at:

It sounds very basic, but I would be the first to admit I could use some strengthening in my basic research stills. I've signed up for it.

Findmypast free access until July 6 is offering free access to certain US and immigration records through July 6:

Access to free travel and immigration, US marriage and census records lasts from 9am (EST) Wednesday 29th June until 11:59pm (EST) on the Wednesday 6th July. To access records during this period, you will need to be registered and signed in to the site.

Staying organized across multiple platforms

Hello, all! This is my first post to the community.

I'm excited to be getting back into genealogical research after many years of inactivity. As a first step I'm thinking about how best to organize my data, and I would love to hear any advice about working with the same information across multiple platforms.

Say you have a family tree program on your computer (I use Reunion) and are duplicating some of the same content on one or more cloud-based sites such as Ancestry. What strategies do you use to manage changes across the different trees? For example, when you find new information, do you update all of your trees at once, or do you accumulate new information on one tree and only occasionally update the others? Do you have one "master" tree that you treat as more authoritative than the others, or otherwise use different trees for different purposes?
blueswan: nancy drew silhouette (sometimes I feel like a detective)
[personal profile] blueswan2016-04-27 09:55 am

A little mystery solved

I found out what happened to a son of my second great grandmother. He's always been a name and date of birth and no other information. He was born after the 1861 census in England and then he appears in three Canadian record - a passenger list that documents the family arriving in 1869, and the 1871 and 1881 census. That's it. I assumed he died young, but had no idea when or where. I know now!

I was doing a random search online through old local newspapers, when I spotted a reference to a Mrs. Morley. "Not Drowned" was the header that caught my eye. While the article was not about my gg grandmother, it was about her daughter-in-law and four children. (According to the records I've found so far there were only three children in that family at this point. So another mystery to dig into.)

It's one of those good news/bad news items. It seems Mrs James Morley and her four children had been presumed drowned by their home community.Fortunately for the Morleys, the ship they were to take didn't stop at the place they were waiting. Unfortunately for twenty year old Benjamin the ship stopped where he was and he boarded the Asia on Sep 13, 1882.

The wreck of the Asia is quite well known to those interested in Great Lakes ship disasters. Not me, but if you look on line there's quite a bit of information available. There are ballads written about what happened, and plenty of finger-pointing after the fact, but the end result was the Asia sank Sep 14, 1882. Anywhere from just under a hundred to one hundred and twenty lives were lost. There were two survivors. Benjamin Morley was not one of those two.

dragonfly: stained glass dragonfly in iridescent colors (Default)
[personal profile] dragonfly2016-04-20 08:16 pm

AncestryDNA is on sale for $79 until Tuesday!

Use the coupon code "freeshipdna" for $9.95 off each order you make. Family Tree DNA is going on sale today, too, until Tuesday.

This is all for DNA Day, the day they finished sequencing the human genome.
dragonfly: stained glass dragonfly in iridescent colors (Default)
[personal profile] dragonfly2016-04-08 06:36 pm

Using ancestors' pictures and copyright laws

A lot of wiki-style family tree sites are very particular about copyright on family photos. I tried to educate myself about the issues around copyright, and found this post by The Legal Genealogist, really helpful. There're a lot of complicated permutations that people ask her about in the comments, but here is what I came away with:Read more... )

I am lucky that many of my immediate family branches have few twigs. Snapshots taken by quite a few of my great-grandparents have almost no one but me to inherit the rights. I have been going through the pictures I have online and attaching "copyright info". If I don't own the copyright, I don't necessarily take the photo down, but I let anyone who might copy it know its status. So here are some examples of what I've been adding to my photos:

"This photo was taken by [-----] [-----], who died in 1955, so the photo isn't out of copyright until 2025. If the rights descended to his heirs, there are only myself, my uncle and my cousin to own them, and all of us give permission for the image to be copied and used with or without attribution."

"I do not own the copyright to this photo. Copy at your own risk."

"This photo was taken in a studio about 1880. The photographer has undoubtedly been dead longer than 70 years, but it is possible his descendants still own the rights."

Yes, I did email my uncle and cousin to ask if they cared if old photos get shared on the internet. They both gave a bemused, "Of course not," which I have put aside for the record, just in case. :)
dragonfly: stained glass dragonfly in iridescent colors (Default)
[personal profile] dragonfly2016-03-11 12:20 pm

Anyone need Wisconsin BMD records look-up?

I have an appointment at the office of vital records on Monday morning. I'll be allowed to do my own records searches for BMD records that are pre-1938. I'm really only looking for one thing, so I'd have plenty of time to look for records for other people.