Using Trees

OK – I’ll admit it. I use trees from other genealogists!

When I started my genealogy journey, it was common to share pedigree charts and family group sheets. Not only did I feel fortunate when I would receive those in the mail but I felt very fortunate that I received copies of Crawford, Currey and Briles research from other family members. These were the starting points or foundation for my research.

Granted my access to sources and my research skills have vastly improved. However, I still use the research of others. I greatly appreciate the willingness of others to share their findings. Recently, an Ancestry hint led me to a photo of a newspaper clipping that had been shared by another user.

This one photo provided the information connecting Pearl Doolittle Nyson to Pearl Yeagle and enough sourcing information for me to locate the article. Since the newspaper is not on Newspapers.com, I doubt I would have found this tidbit of information on my own.

While I accept other trees when working Ancestry hints, I try not to accept any dates or add new people to my tree from those trees. This places Ancestry Family Trees in my list of Ancestry sources without linking them to any facts.

While I’m not linking these Ancestry Trees to any fact, I am saving links to these trees – and to others researching the same individual by accepting the Ancestry Tree hints. When I click on Ancestry Trees in my list of sources, the citation details provides me the ability to ‘view the individual member trees’.

This is a way for me to keep track of ‘cousins’ who are researching the same people.

Even though I typically try not to use Ancestry Trees to add people to my RootsMagic file, I do use FamilySearch to add people. When researching a new branch of the family, I find it helpful to compare what I’m finding with the work of others. Since the FamilySearch tree is a collaborative tree, it represents a ‘consensus’ of other researchers. Thus, I will use the FamilySearch tree to build out a family and continue researching records for that family. By importing from FamilySearch into RootsMagic, the link between RM and FamilySearch is maintained.

If I find that my research provides conflicting information or leads to a different family, I will collect the documentation to support my position and add it as sourcing on FamilySearch. This was the case with Pearl Doolittle. When I started researching Pearl, her FamilySearch profile only had one husband: William Henry Nyssen. However there was another Pearl Yeagle married to Edwin Friend. The newspaper clipping shared on Ancestry along with other sourcing I found allowed me to merge Pearl Yeagle and Pearl Doolittle.

While other genealogists may ‘cringe’ at the use of Ancestry Trees and/or the FamilySearch tree, there are some resources that support their use.

GenealogyTV has a short video “Avoiding Mistakes on Ancestry” that discusses the use of Ancestry Trees.

And Devon Noel Lee of Family History Fanatics has a blog and accompanying video: Three Reasons Not to Use the FamilySearch Family Tree

Pay Attention

Do you have twins somewhere in your tree with similar names? If so, have you encountered issues with the hinting systems suggesting hints for the opposite twin?

As I was researching my WELLS line in Michigan, I ran into this situation recently. I was updating my research of Benjamin Wells children, including twins Clinton and Clayton by his second wife. I started working with Clinton and was about to accept a hint when I realized the hint was for Clayton. When I browsed down the page of suggested hints, all of Clinton’s hints were for Clayton.

Ancestry hints for Clinton Wells — but hints are actually for Clayton Wells

Since it has been a few years since I’ve worked on this branch of the family, my first thought was that I had a mistake. However, after rechecking the census records for the father’s household, I was able to verify that there are indeed two sons named Clinton and Clayton. Below is a screen shot from the 1870 Eaton County Michigan census for the household.

1870 U.S. Census, Eaton County Michigan, popoulation schedule, Kalamo, Eaton County, Michigan, page 34, family 283, Wells, Benjamin; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 December 2020); NARA microfilm publication T132.

Below is a screen shot from the 1880 Eaton County Michigan census for the household.

1880 U.S. Census, Eaton County Michigan, population schedule, Kalamo Township, Eaton County, Michigan, enumeration district (ED) ED 74, page 26, family 294, Wells Benjamin F; digial images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 December 2020); NARA microfilm publicaiton T9.

Since I already had the above census records attached to Benjamin, I was able to also attach them to Clinton.

While I’ve seen inaccurate hints in the past, they have usually been for someone of the same name who lived in a different location. Because these hints are confusing two brothers, I’m taking additional steps to hopefully help keep these brothers straight.

  • Rejected the Clayton hints that appeared for Clinton
  • Used my data in RootsMagic to locate additional census records on Ancestry and use the Ancestry system to attach them to Clinton. (My RootsMagic sourcing gets uploaded as ‘Other Sources’. Thus, they don’t impact the hinting system.)
  • Place a comment on both Clinton and Clayton to hopefully warn others of potential mix-ups.

Common Ancestors

Have you identified common ancestors for your DNA matches? If so, do you know how many of your DNA matches have a common ancestor identified? My answers to these questions is YES, I’ve tried to document them, but NO I had no idea how many of my matches have a common ancestor identified.

That is until a magical spreadsheet was shared by Chris Ferraiolo in the WikiTree Members Group.

I knew that I could select all and copy my match list. However, when I paste that information into Excel, it puts each piece of data on a new line instead of creating a row of data for each match.

That’s where the ‘magic’ of George Clarke’s spreadsheet comes in. I simply paste my copied info into one cell of his spreadsheet and it transforms all of that data into rows — one row of data per match.

I then copied these rows of data into my own spreadsheet. This allows me to save this list of matches outside of Ancestry. The one drawback to this process is getting to the end of your match list. Pressing the page down key is the fastest way to get there. However, it can take quite some time to reach the end. Thus, I elected to only do this with those matches with an identified common ancestor.

Once in the spreadsheet, I can determine how many common ancestors each of the tests I manage have.

  • Test 1 – 1578 common ancestor matches
  • Test 2 – 1504 common ancestor matches
  • Test 3 – 1505 common ancestor matches
  • Test 4 – 1775 common ancestor matches

Thank you Chris Ferraiolo for creating and sharing this tool!

Relationships

Have you ever received a message from someone asking how you might be related to their parent or grandfather? Such a message was in my Ancestry inbox recently. The writer wished to know my relationship to Alvin Lambert.

Since Lambert isn’t one of my common surnames, I needed to search my RootsMagic database to first see if I had such a person in my file and then figure out our relationship. To start this process, I typed in the Lambert surname in the search box for the RM index.

Having located Alvin Lambert in my database, I just have to highlight him on the people screen and it will tell me how we are related. I simply have to look below his name and dates in the individual area of the screen.

The relationship shown on this screen is to the person identified as the ‘Root’ person in the settings.

Sometimes, I might wish to calculate the relationship with someone other than the root person. To do that, I have to use the Relationship Calculator tool. This tool is accessed via the Command Palette. The icon for the command palette looks like a paint palette and is in the upper right corner of RootsMagic 8.

Clicking on the icon opens a list of tasks. Scrolling to the Rs, I located the Relationship Calculator tool. and clicked to open it.

The tool opens with the name of the highlighted person in the Select Person 1 slot. (Note: This can be changed by clicking on the ‘Select Person 1’ button and then selecting the desired person from the list of people.)

To answer the question as to how two people are related I need to select person 2. Thus, I click on the ‘Select Person 2’ button and type in my last name and then first name of the person I want to use as person 2.

Once I have both people selected, I just click on the ‘Calculate’ button in the bottom right corner of the window.

The program then figures out the relationship between person 1 and person 2.

Sometimes, I might wish to generate a report showing the HOW of a relationship. For this task, RootsMagic 8 has a built-in report called ‘Relationship Chart’. To get to this report, I go to Publish and then click on All Reports and Charts.

With the list of all of the available reports open, I scroll to the Rs to locate RELATIONSHIP CHART.

When the report opens, the currently highlighted person on the people screen will be listed as ‘Person 1’. If that is who I want in that position, I simply select person 2 and modify any of the other settings.

When the ‘Generate Report’ button is clicked, a report is displayed showing the lines from both individuals back to a common ancestor.

For those with trees on Ancestry, it is possible to determine the relationship between the home person in the tree and another individual in the tree.

https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/Seeing-How-People-in-Your-Ancestry-Tree-are-Related-to-You

Since I’m already configured as the home person in my tree, I simply had to locate Alvin Lambert in my tree and open his profile page.

When I click on the relationship, a ‘report’ opens showing the ancestry of the person back to a common ancestor and then down to me.

No matter which way I create this report, the accuracy of this report is dependent on the accuracy of my tree.

Ancestry ‘New Person’

Something weird is going on with Ancestry hints for my tree. This is an attempt to document what I am seeing.

I am researching descendants of one of my 3rd great-grandfathers using Ancestry hints. This afternoon, I was working with Sylvia Christy and her husband Clarence Boyer when the screens changed. Since I’ve already worked Sylvia’s hints, I’m using Clarence for this documentation.

Clarence Boyer in my tree

Clarence Boyer i

Hints for Clarence Boyer

Social Security Death Index record for Clarence Boyer

Since the data from the SS Death Index matches the information I already have documented for Clarence Boyer, I want to add this source to my Ancestry Tree. Thus, I click on the green YES box.

That opens this NEWLY DESIGNED window to ‘Add New Information to your tree’ with the green Save to Your Tree button. Notice that this screen is marking Clarence Boyer as a NEW PERSON. The right side of the screen shows what I already have for Clarence Boyer in my tree.

After clicking the ‘Save to your tree’ button, I get a screen telling me that the hint was accepted for Clarence Boyer.

If I go to his FACTS screen, I can see that the Social Security Death Index was added to the list of sources.

If I click on this source, it shows that the source is attached to several facts.

Everything about this process is similar to how it worked yesterday, last week, last month, etc. EXCEPT the screen to ADD NEW INFORMATION TO YOUR TREE. This screen LOOKS DIFFERENT. And, on this screen, Clarence Boyer is labeled as a NEW PERSON.

Is this a BUG?

Addendum:

When looking at an ‘Ancestry trees’ hint for Sylvia and Clarence’s son, the ‘New Person’ is again present on the blue side of the screen for those labeled as ‘not a match’.

And also there for someone who is actually a ‘New Person’

Dear Ancestry

Rumor in the RootsMagic community indicates that there is a limit to the size of a family tree when interfacing with RootsMagic. As a former network administrator for a high school, I experienced the need of students and staff for hard drive space while having to work with a budget that didn’t allow unlimited space. Thus, I’m guessing that this decision was prompted by your technical support staff indicating that the need for space to store and backup data was outpacing the available resources. If my guess is on target, then a business decision was likely made to set a maximum size.

Unfortunately, if such a decision has been made, it is ignoring the added value some of these larger trees bring to Ancestry.

My Heartland Genealogy tree of almost 20,000 individuals not only traces my ancestors back quite a few generations but also traces descendants of those ancestors forward several generations. This tree was created when RootsMagic’s TreeShare feature became available in 2017. By uploading my RootsMagic data to Ancestry, the source information that I had accumulated from almost 40 years of research was also uploaded.

Since that time, I have been working my way thru my tree to evaluate the leaf hints that Ancestry provides and to add additional sourcing to my tree. Thus, I currently have 15,539 records attached to the individuals in my tree.

I am sharing with other Ancestry users my work over the years to identify and document not only ancestors but also cousins. Even though I have readily shared my work in a variety of ways, my tree on Ancestry is the only place where that work is updated on a regular basis.

Besides my tree, I manage four DNA tests. Each of these tests is attached to individuals in my tree. Because most of the branches of my tree go back to the colonial days of the United States, I have lots of DNA matches on Ancestry. Since my large tree contains a lot of descendancy research, the Ancestry computers are able to identify the Common Ancestor for many of my matches. My documented tree also makes my ThruLines more accurate. Thus, my tree is not only helping me identify my matches, but it is also helping my matches figure out how we are related.

My tree also contains my FAN club research of the CRAWFORD family in early Kentucky and my efforts to identify various men named James Crawford and their ancestry. Yes, I could possibly pull this data out of my primary tree and place it in a secondary tree. However, that does not remove enough individuals from my primary tree to get it below the 15,000 threshold — AND — I’m continuing to research descendants of my 3rd great grandfathers which just adds to my tree.

I believe my tree, my research and my DNA data adds value to the Ancestry community. And, I believe that there are many other genealogists using RootsMagic to connect with Ancestry whose tree and accompanying research also adds value to the Ancestry site.

Thus, I am asking you to not place limits on our ability to share this research with the Ancestry community.

Marcia Crawford Philbrick
Heartland Genealogy

Hints

Do you use the hinting system found on some of the genealogy websites? Or, are you one that only searches for specific information?

When I first started researching my family history, my process was centered around locating specific information. In reality, this research involved locating specific types of records and then using those records to search for my famiily.

Today, I am spoiled. Even though I will search for a particular set of records or county histories, I spend most of my research time following those hints. Since I primarily use Ancestry, those leaf hints often take me to obvious sources such as census records, Find a Grave memorials or vital records. Sometimes, they lead me to a record that I wouldn’t have thought to research.

That is the case with a hint for my great grandmother, Josie Winifred Hammond Crawford. I had already done quite a bit of research on Josie. Thus, when I saw a new hint, I thought it would be to another Ancestry member tree. Instead, I was surprised to find the hint leading to an obituary.

Since I live in Kansas, I have access to a wonderful newspaper collection at the Kansas State Historical Society. Thus, I had already found my great grandmother’s obituary in the Dodge City Daily Globe. This find was in my early days of research, when I transcribed portions of the obituary and took notes on the other parts.

Even though many of the Dodge City newspapers have been digitized, the 1954 issues have yet to be digitized. Thus, I was surprised to find that the Ancestry hint led to a copy of Josie’s obituary. This obituary was published in The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kansas) on 28 Sep 1954.

Pioneer of Kansas Dies at Dodge City

(Special to the Eagle)

Dodge City, Kan. Sept. 27 – Mrs. Josie W. Crawford, 79, widely known resident for many years here, died Monday morning in Trinity hosptial where she had been a patient briefly for treatment. She had been active until her final illness.

Born Feb. 9, 1875 in Know County, Ill., she came with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Richmond F. Hammond to Pratt County. Two years later the family moved to a farm in Ford County southwest of Dodge City and later moved to Dodge city.

Miss Hammond was married to Judson F. Crawford Dec. 24, 1890. Mr. and Mrs. Crawford celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1940. Mr. Crawford died in February , 1949.

Mrs. Crawford had been active in Methodist work since girlhood and received her 50 year pin several years ago. Among her many public services Mrs. Crawford helped organize and was an active member of the East Side Bible Class organized in 1917 and still active.

Final rites are slated for w p.m. Wednesday in the First Methodist Church here with the Rev. Alvin W. Murray officiating. Burial will be in Maple Grove Cemetery here.

“Pioneer of Kansas Dies at Dodge City,” The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kansas), 28 September 1954, page 11; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 5 September 2021).

Without the Ancestry hinting system, I doubt I would have found this particular obituary for my great grandmother. Thus, I will continue to work thru these hints.

Panic

(Note: This was written on Thursday, August 5th – the morning after my panic.)

Do you ever read about some software update or change on an Internet site and think I need to do something NOW? Having been a building technology coordinator for over 20 years, implementing software updates sometimes required an immediate reaction. Thus, when I hear about a bug fix or a major change in an often used website, I tend to respond immediately.

On Wednesday of this week, there was a blog post written about a change in Ancestry’s terms and agreements. The post, One Big Change at Ancestry, by Judy Russell captured my attention. And I reacted – or looking back I panicked.

My thoughts were along the lines of

Ancestry is going to sell my pictures. I don’t want Ancestry to sell my pictures.

So, I started looking at how to take down my pictures. I don’t know why I was so concerned. I have had a genealogy website for years. And my genealogy work, including images, has been out there for others to see and use. I would guess that some of the family photos have been so widely spread that even though I have the originals in my possession, I probably can’t claim ownership. Because I shared them freely, they now belong to the greater family.

But, I panicked.

And I had over 670 screens of images in my media gallery on Ancestry. With 24 images on a screen, that is over 16,080 images.. Many of those images are of census records and other Ancestry sources. Buried in that multitude of images are the family photos. So in my panic, I started scrolling thru and deleting the photos and stories.

Knowing that there was no way I was going to be able to go thru 670 screens of images, I started looking for the ‘easy’ button to remove those images. And the only ‘easy’ way to delete the images is to take down the tree and put up a new one without the images.

Now, I knew I didn’t want to mess with my tree. I knew I didn’t want to mess with my tree!

  • My tree is linked to 4 DNA tests and I didn’t want to loose those links
  • My tree is linked to my RootsMagic file via TreeShare
  • I knew that a new tree on Ancestry is virtually invisible to other users until it is indexed. Indexing trees does not happen very often.
  • I like getting the light bulb hints in RootsMagic that are only possible because my RootsMagic file is linked to my Ancestry tree.

I knew all of this and I still panicked.

  • I uploaded a new gedcom file without images to Ancestry.
  • I connected that new file to my DNA kits.
  • I tried to delete my original tree. Fortunately, Ancestry’s slow response saved me!
  • I even disconnected my RootsMagic file from Ancestry.

Then, I realized that those light bulb hints in RootsMagic were gone. And, what I thought at the time, the only way to get those light bulb hints back was to create a new tree by using RootsMagic to upload my file to Ancestry.

I didn’t like my options. And I totally regretted my panic!

Then, out of curiosity, I wondered whether I could restore a backup to my RootsMagic file and restore the RootsMagic connection to my original tree. So I dug in my folder for backups to RootsMagic 7 for the most recent file and restored it.

AND the light bulbs were back!

Since I am in the habit of backing up RootsMagic several times a day – with unique file names, I didn’t loose much. This is especially true since I have been spending most of my time in the preview version of RM8. Restoring the backup file undid most of my panicked reaction. I was even able to restore my RM8 file and get it connected to my Ancestry tree.

There were a couple of voices of reason out there that I did not read until after my panic. The first one I read was a Facebook post from Michael John Neill.

The second voice of reason was from Randy Seaver. His post, Ancestry.com and Your Ancestry Member Tree, provides a good perspective on the issue.

As I was deleting images last night, I found that I had the exact same image of an individual in my media gallery multiple times. It made me wonder whether deleting the images would help Ancestry reduce their server load.

Hopefully, I have learned my lesson from this panic. Hopefully, the next time, I will sit on an issue for 24 hours before proceeding.

I am VERY thankful that I had recent backup files for both RootsMagic 7 and RootsMagic 8.

I am VERY thankful that my backup file restored my link between RootsMagic and Ancestry!

Making Connections

#CousinBait #52Ancestors

I know I’m going to date myself, but I remember the joy of finding Everton’s Genealogical Helper in our mailbox. I would pour through each issue looking for an ad that might connect me with a genealogical cousin. Finding such an ad would cause me to compose a letter with a pedigree chart or family group sheet attached and send it off with a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope). I would then wait for a reply. Sometimes, I would be the person posting such an ad. Again I would anxiously await any replies to my ad. [See article: Pre-Internet Cousin Bait}

Thru time, mailing lists, surname lists and message boards replaced the ads in the Helper. Even though those resources may still exist, I rarely use them. Browsing Anestry’s message boards and seeing fewer and fewer messages posted and many with no replies, it is obvious that others are not using this resource either.

So, what is being done to connect with cousins. My husband has successfully used Facebook groups for his ancestors to connect with living cousins. Even though I have befriended a lot of cousins on FB, I have not had the success that my husband has had. That is likely due to the fact that he is very active in his groups and tends to ignore anything and everything else on Facebook while I’m not very active in my family groups.

Instead of Facebook, I’ve been concentrating on this blog. I’ve shared photos, ancestral biographies, lists of descendants, sources and analysis of local records in my various blog posts.

In terms of sharing my genealogical data, I concentrate on my Ancestry tree, Heartland Genealogy. I am also adding sources and memories to the FamilySearch tree. Since I’m using RootsMagic 7 for my genealogical research, I also have a free site thru RootsMagic for my data.

Another way in which I try to connect with cousins is thru DNA. My Ancestry tree is connected to the four DNA tests I manage on Ancestry. To help make connections with DNA cousins, I am researching descendants of my 2nd and 3rd great grandparents. By doing this research, I’m hoping to provide a connection between my tree and a DNA match’s tree.

In order to connect with cousins who may have tested their DNA on a different site, I have transferred my Ancestry DNA to GedMatch, MyHeritage and FamilyTree DNA. Thanks to the use of GedCom, I have transferred my genealogical data to these sites. Thus, I have a tree connected to DNA on MyHeritage, GedMatch, and FamilyTreeDNA.

Thanks to my brother agreeing to do a yDNA test, his results are part of the CRAWFORD yDNA project. This project has a fantastic administrator and an associated Facebook group. I am also participating in the GedMatch project for Germanna descendants. Both of these projects are helping me connect to DNA cousins with ties back to the 1700s.

So cousin, if you find a connection to your research in my research posted on my tree or in my blog or via my DNA results, please contact me. I can be friended on Facebook as Marcia Crawford Philbrick, messaged in Ancestry or reached via email using mcphilbrick at gmail dot com as my address.

DNA Stats

Do you track your DNA statistics? At times, I’ve tried keeping track of these statistics but got frustrated when the way the information was reported would change. Thus, it became difficult to compare current data with previous data.

After seeing Randy Seaver’s post, Randy’s Autosomal DNA Test and Analysis Summary – 29 Dec 2020, I decided to compile my own DNA statistics.

ANCESTRY DNA

MeBrother 1Brother 2Parent
Total Matches110,981125,144115,18274,618
Immediate Family3333
1st Cousins (As defined by Ancestry)1114
2nd Cousins (as defined by Ancestry)4839
3rd cousins3340936
4th cousin sharing 64 cM or more1113713
Close Matches – at least 20 cM3701464139142709
Distant Matches 6-20 cM107,280120,503111,26871.909
Distant Relative group (6-8 cM)67072743746840544670

When it comes to ‘common ancestors,’ I couldn’t find the number reported by Ancestry. Since I don’t want to have to try and count them, I’m going to guesstimate. I recently posted my ThruLines Summary thru my 4th great grandparents. For my ‘guesstimate,’ I’m going to use 1/2 of the total number of ThruLines thru my 4th great grandparents. This isn’t an accurate calculation.

MeBrother 1Brother 2parent
1/2 ThruLines thru 4th Great Grandparents10651013926787

MY HERITAGE

MeBrother 1Brother 2
Matches14,72510,74610,281
Theory of Relativity283031
Smart Matches354

GEDMATCH

MeBrother 1Brother 2Parent
64 cM or closer12131117
34 cM or more959170127

FAMILY TREE DNA

  • Total autosomal matches to my DNA – 6257
  • Total autosomal matches to brother 1’s DNA – 1677

FAMILY TREE DNA – yDNA results for brother

  • yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 4 – 1
  • yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 6 – 8
  • yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 7 – 4
  • yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 8 – 6
  • yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 9 – 3
  • yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 10 – 1
  • Big Y R-^88686 haplogroup matches – 3

With over 100,000 matches for one DNA test, there is NO WAY I’m going to be able to document all of those matchers. However, I’m using the ThruLines matches to help support my paper research. Thus, all of those matches are important to me.