Go Over

Have you heard of Thomas MacEntee’s ‘genealogy do-over‘? While I wasn’t ready to throw out my years of research and totally start over, I am thankful that this challenge to ‘do over’ prompted me to not only go back thru my genealogy but also to learn about genealogy sources and processes.

As part of my go-over process, I’ve been (slowly) going back thru my ancestors to

  • Review the sources I have
  • Transcribe the deeds, wills and probate records I’ve collected
  • Utilize the hinting systems to locate additional sources
  • Utilize the available county records on FamilySearch
  • Search newspapers for obituaries, etc.

I am currently working on my 3rd great grandfathers, particularly Horatio Hammond. While I have cleaned up his narrative report and transcribed his will and some of his deeds, I am finding some of my sources are lacking. For example, there are several sources that refer to my old method of filing my notes.

When I open the ‘Hammond.IL.014’ document, I find handwritten notes that are likely from a book.

Since my notes don’t tell me an author or even the publishing information that I used in my citation, I can use WorldCat to see if I can get additional information about the source.

Since my notes include the ‘LDS’ notation, I’m assuming that I viewed this source during a visit to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Thus, I can also use FamilySearch to see if I can locate information about the source. Since I’m not sure whether I recorded the title correctly, I opted to do a ‘KEYWORD’ search of the catalog instead of a TITLE search.

From the keyword search, I have 4 results, one of which is titled, “Knox County, Illinois 1855 personal property tax list.”

When I click on the title, a page for the book opens. FamilySearch provides a name for the author which was not in the WorldCat record.

In addition, I discovered that there is a DIGITAL version of the book. Since digital books are searchable, I discovered, that the search term, ‘Hammond’, occurs in the book 4 times. Since I only recorded one instance in my original notes, this is information on the Hammond family that I did not have.

Thanks to FamilySearch I have additional information about the Hammond family in Knox County Illinois along with information to craft a better source. Also, many thanks to Thomas MacEntee for the challenge to go back thru my research!

Why Narrative Reports

Have you heard of Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over? Did you do a do-over? If you are like me, the thought of starting over from scratch and ignoring all of my existing research was overwhelming. However, his page, Are You Ready for a Genealogy Do-Over?, explains the why one would attempt such a move.

I learned about this ‘do-over’ project about the time I retired. Knowing that there were issues in my genealogy database, I participated in the do-over but started a go-over instead of throwing everything out. I have to admit that I learned a lot in that first year about genealogy standards that had changed significantly during the time I wasn’t actively researching my ancestors.

Essentially my 2022 goals are a continuation of that do-over process. One set of goals is to finish going thru and updating the research I have on the descendants of my 3rd great grandfathers. Another set of goals is to update narrative reports for my 3rd great grandparents.

So, why do I consider these narrative reports part of my ‘go-over’ process? During the process of creating these reports to publish, I am

  • Checking the data entered for each fact for accuracy
  • Checking the sentence structure for each fact
  • Checking the sources for each fact and updating them to current standards when necessary
  • Transcribing documents and entering the transcription in the ‘research note’ field for the citation.
  • Identify holes in my research and attempt to locate records to fill those holes.

For example, the automatic sentence generation failed for a land entry fact for Nelson G. Crawford.

When I look at the source citation for this land entry fact or for Nelson Crawford’s marriage, I find quite a few sources that were created in my early days of doing research that are definitely NOT up to today’s standards. They don’t even provide enough information for me to go back and locate the source.

As I work my way thru the facts and associated sources, I also come across documents that have never been transcribed and in some cases never been scanned. While my 2022 goals only include 18 narrative report reviews, achieving these individual goals will take some time.

However, completing these goals not only ensures that I have documented the events of my ancestor’s life but may also lead to information to break thru a brick wall. Thus, I will continue to add narrative reports to my annual goal list as I work my way back generation by generation in this go-over process.

Work to Do

Have you heard someone say that they have finished their genealogy? Often times, the individual making this statement had a specific goal in mind and they have completed that goal. Unfortunately, most genealogists will admit that ‘being done’ is an impossibility. That’s likely because these genealogists realize the exponential aspect of one’s family tree.

Thus, having an ‘incomplete’ tree is pretty common – particularly as one goes back further. Recently, The Legal Genealogist wrote about a tool available to subscribers to the DNA Painter site to analyze the completeness of a tree in her post, Reconsidering the Match.

A check of my tree for completeness on the DNA Painter site revealed that indeed, my tree is NOT finished.

For those who are not DNAPainter subscribers, there is another way to check the completeness of one’s tree. This method requires the use of the free FamilySearch tree with oneself added to the tree.

By looking at the fan chart for oneself, it is easy to see whether all 4th great grandparents have been identified by looking at 7 generation fan chart.

Switching to each of one’s parents as the primary person allows viewing of the tree thru 5th great grandparents.

I actually prefer to use the FamilySearch tree to see how complete my tree is. That’s because not only can I count the gray boxes but I can see where my tree is incomplete.

Unfortunately, using the FamilySearch tree to determine completeness relies on some assumptions:

  • First assumption: that the FamilySearch tree is accurate thru at least 7 generations.
  • Second assumption: that I have all of these ancestors in my working tree.

Even though those are MAJOR assumptions, I do rely on this view of my tree to see my ‘holes’. If I want more ‘100%’ on the DNAPainter Tree Completeness tool, then I have work to do to identify those missing ancestors!

Do-Over Update

Did you start Thomas MacEntee’s genealogy do-over or go-over? If so, did you make significant progress? I have to admit that I started this project in July of 2015 as evidenced by my blog post: Genealogy Do-Over Week #1. And, based on my current project working with the records for a third great-grandfather, Hiram Currey of Peoria, Illinois and his children, I am NOT finished.

As I’m evaluating the information I have, I have to admit to several deficiencies in my research.

  • Incomplete citations
  • Untranscribed records
  • Sketchy hand-written notes versus actual copies (photocopies / images) of the record

Working my way thru each of the facts and the sources for those facts, I am finding that many of those facts came from various county histories. Fortunately, many of those books have been digitized and can be found on sites such as Archives.org. Thus, I can create a better citation and incorporate notes from the source and attach an image.

Even though I only have information for about 30 years of Hiram Currey’s life, I have several courthouse documents – none of which were transcribed. Like the land dispute court case that I recently transcribed, transcribing the remaining records will likely take some time. However, these untranscribed records are the only records I currently have that tie Hiram Currey to his brothers.

Those records support an unwritten proof argument tying Hiram Currey of Peoria to his son, Hiram Currey of Leavenworth County, Kansas and to his father, Hiram Currey of Champaign County, Ohio. Thus, I envision spending several days transcribing these records in hopes of identifying leads to more records.

Even though I’m not finished, I’m thankful for Thomas MacEntee’s genealogy do-over and the incentive to begin going back thru my files.

Family Tales

Do you use newspapers for your research? Have you ever sat in front of a microfilm reader and ‘read’ an older newspaper issue after issue?

Since I live about 75 miles from the Kansas State Historical Society, I’ve had access to the states wonderful collection of newspapers. Thus, I have sat in front of a microfilm reader and turned that knob to slowly move thru a local Kansas newspaper. At times, I was looking for a specific item such as a birth announcement, marriage announcement or obituary. Other times, I was just looking for mention of the family to see what I could learn.

With today’s computer technology and digital images of those newspapers, it is even easier to locate those little bits of information in the papers. This past week, my husband and I have both been celebrating our newspaper finds. I often use ‘gossipy newspapers’ when talking about our finds. I use this term because I have often found where one relative visited another relative for Sunday dinner. This might seem like an insignificant piece of ‘gossip’ but it provides hints of a relationship.

The Emporia Gazette (Emporia, Kansas), July 23, 1974

Not only have I found birth announcements for my niece and nephew, I’ve found articles about the family dating back to the 1800s. Think about that for a minute. Newspapers have survived for a very long time.

Now, look into the future. We still have newspapers, but I don’t believe we have ‘gossipy’ newspapers. Even my small town newspaper has seen a reduction in what is submitted for the ‘gossip’ section.

Instead of submitting info about the family that gathered for a birthday party to the newspaper, this event is being shared on social media. I love viewing these posts! However, they likely will not survive years into the future. So, what can I do to help these stories and pictures survive for another 50 to 100 years?


In the beginning …

In the beginning of my genealogy journey, I had

  • weekend trips to spend with my grandmother, Winnie Crawford, in Dodge City
  • my grandmother’s curiosity about her own family history; a family history filled with lots of unknowns – questions needing answers
  • my grandmother’s collection of family photos and memorabilia from both her CURREY family and her husband’s CRAWFORD family
  • my mother-in-law teaching me how to create a pedigree chart and a family group sheet — and giving me some blank forms
  • my grandmother Briles’ collection of photos and family memorabilia for the BRILES and MENTZER sides of the family
  • paper, envelope and stamps to write letters — and learning to enclose a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope)
  • my first genealogy how-to book: The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy by Val Greenwood, copyright 1973
  • a great aunt, Gladys Crawford, who had compiled our Crawford genealogy
  • copies of pages from family Bibles — Crawford, Currey, Mentzer
  • a cousin, Max Briles, who had compiled a genealogy of the BRILES family
  • a subscription to Genealogical Helper — and thus needing more envelopes and stamps
  • likely my second genealogy book: The Handy Book for Genealogists — and a need for more stamps
  • a librarian’s knowledge of card catalogs, periodicals, microfilm and manuscripts
  • access to Kansas census and newspapers at the research center for the Kansas State Historical Society – and more forms – forms to record census information this time
  • Census indexes – big clunky books with small type — and 1920 Census Soundex – an index to the 1920 census records based on how names sounded.
  • more trips to Dodge City — not only to see my grandmother, but for research at the Kansas Genealogical Society library – which also housed the Kansas DAR library, and research at the Kansas Heritage Center and at Boot Hill
  • membership in the Kansas Genealogical Society (at Dodge City) and the Topeka Genealogical Society
  • two bus trips to the LDS library at Salt Lake City with Ruth Keys Clark and genealogists from around Kansas and a family vacation with a couple of days at the library
  • research trips to the public library at St. Joseph and the Northwest Missouri Genealogical Society library for access to records for the grandmother’s Hutchinson and Harding lines
  • day trips to Independence, Missouri to access U.S. census records at the genealogy library hosted by the Mid-Continent Public Library in Independence and Kansas City, Missouri (now the Midwest Genealogy Center)
  • PERSI – index of all of those genealogical society publications
  • access to microfilm of a large variety of records delivered by the mail man to my house courtesy of the American Genealogical Lending Library – need for a larger postage budget
  • Father Wempe and his push to form a genealogy society in Nemaha county, Kansas
  • participation in genealogy events at the state level as member of the board of the Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies
  • our first computer and the genealogy program: Personal Ancestral File (PAF)
  • compact discs (CDs) of records

And then came the Internet

And now we have DNA and all of the tools associated with it to help us identify ancestors.

Even though the tools have changed over the years, the foundations that my mother-in-law taught me over 40 years ago are still needed today. I don’t know where my genealogy research will go in the future, but it has been a fantastic ride to get here.

Setting Goals

It’s the new year and time for resolutions. Right? Or, if you are like me, you’ve given up on resolutions. I gave up on ‘New Years Resolutions’ quite a while ago. Like many people, one of the reasons I quit making resolutions was because I didn’t keep them. However, looking back, I think another reason is that we perceive a ‘New Year’s Resolution’ as a declaration to change something about our lives.

Instead of making resolutions to ‘change,’ I want to set goals for things I want to accomplish – particularly with my genealogy research. Before writing goals for 2020, I thought I’d look back at my previous goals to see how well I’ve done. 
And guess what – I would receive a failing grade for goal setting in 2019 because I can’t find any goals for 2019. However, I did find that I wrote goals for 2018

  • Get my tree indexed on Ancestry!
  • Reduce number of shaky leaves on Ancestry
  • Use RootsMagic’s link to FamilySearch to add sources for my direct line ancestors
  • Connect with cousins on Facebook by sharing family photos
  • Blog about my ancestors 
  • SCAN — I still have some photo albums to scan
  • Clean up files (sadly I have duplicates of some photos and others that need re-scanned)
  • DNA — update my spreadsheet of matches
  • Finish doing visual phasing with my brother’s DNA results and then hopefully add a cousin or two 
  • Attend a genealogy conference 
  • Participate in genealogy study groups and round-tables

With two years to accomplish these goals, one would hope that I could report progress. Even though I can report progress on some goals, I don’t have any data to support progress on others and I’ve abandoned other goals.
In terms of progress, I can claim success for the following goals:

  • My Heartland Genealogy tree on Ancestry is indexed and TreeShare with RootsMagic is working great.
  • I have attended the Topeka Genealogical Society’s conference
  • Weather and schedule permitting, I have participated in the DNA Study Group and Brick Wall Study group sponsored by the Topeka Genealogy Society.
  • Until recently taking a detour to work with Ancestry hints, I have been frequently blogging about my findings

Even though I think I’ve been successful with some of the other goals, I have no data to support my feeling of success. For example, I have no idea how many shaky leaves I had at the beginning of 2018, or the number of hints worked. 
In terms of adding sources to FamilySearch, I know I have added some sources. Even though I’m not responsible for adding all of the sources to the individuals in my tree, my tree is gradually turning ‘orange’ to reflect 10 or more sources for each ancestor.

Because of the overwhelming amount of data, I’ve abandoned the DNA related goals. Instead, I’m using the Notes and color coding capabilities for my Ancestry matches to try and keep up with all of this data. 
I do have data to show growth in my RootsMagic database over the past year.

Even though my goals shifted over the past two years, I’m glad I listed them. So, looking ahead, I would like to continue

  • Researching both ancestors and their descendants
  • Blogging
  • Attending the study groups sponsored by the Topeka Genealogical Society 
  • Utilizing webinars and YouTube videos to improve my skill set

My dream goal for this year would be a research trip to Eastern Kentucky University and the Lancaster area of Kentucky.
Hopefully, in a year, I can look back and say that I’ve had a successful year and learned a lot.

DNA Painter Tree

Did you see all of the prettily colored trees on various Genealogy Facebook groups this last week? Jonny Perl created a new tool on DNA Painter: Trees. 
With the new trees feature, one can create ancestral charts in pedigree, fan and text view. What makes this tool unique is the ability to mark common DNA ancestors and then see a visual representation of those matches on the chart.
I tried doing something similar with my DNA Circles. I printed out a fan chart and then used a highlighter to mark the various circles I had.

With DNA Painter, I get a similar chart showing my genetic genealogy.

This chart was very easy to create.

My first step was to create a GEDCOM file from my genealogy software, RootsMagic. 
Pull down the FILE menu and select EXPORT

On the GEDCOM Export window, pull down the tab that says EVERYONE and change it to ANCESTORS ________ (name of home person in the database)

In the ‘Data to Export’ area, I unchecked everything but the SOURCES. I discovered that if I clicked to Privatize Living People in RootsMagic, then I couldn’t find myself in DNA Painter to set the home person for the tree. Thus, I recreated my gedcom without privatizing the living people.
Go to DNA Painter and login. Click on TREES in the menu across the top.
On the TREES page, Click on the CREATE NEW TREE button. (The button may be toward the right side of the screen if you don’t have a tree.)

Read thru the information on the “Welcome to DNA Painter Trees.

When finished reading about the trees, close the Welcome window. An ‘Untitled Tree’ will appear on the screen. If desired, one could manually enter the information into the tree. To upload a GEDCOM file, locate the LOAD GEDCOM link on the right side of the Tree screen.

Follow the prompts to locate and import your GEDCOM file.
Since most of my known cousin matches are on Ancestry, I’m working with my Ancestry Common Ancestor matches to complete my tree on DNA Painter.
In my DNA Painter Tree, I hovered over one of my Common Ancestors. A pop-up menu opened that allowed me to ‘mark’ that ancestor as a DNA match.

If I click on the VIEW/EDIT button, it will open a window providing details about the ancestor.

Clicking on the EDIT OR ADD NOTES button opens another screen allowing me to add a note.

Since I’m using my Ancestry matches to build this genetic genealogy tree, I added a note indicating that Ancestry is the source of my DNA information. If my tree were private, I could add the identities of those DNA matches to the NOTES field.
Within a few minutes, I was able to begin my Genetic Genealogy Tree. 

This is a FANTASTIC addition to my DNA toolbox!


Have you been following all of the Facebook posts about organizing and tracking your genealogy research? If you haven’t then you might want to check out some of these posts:

If you haven’t joined these or other genealogy groups on Facebook, then you are missing out on a lot of help!

Because of the recent discussions around organizing one’s genealogy, I thought I’d share what I’ve found useful. Since my genealogy adventure began prior to the Internet, I started with a lot of paper. Thus, I had to have a way to organize it so I could go back and find my notes. As Drew Smith has suggested, I used the SURNAME as my first level of organization. Because I had too much information to fit in one folder for the SURNAME, I subdivided my notes. Below is an example of how those folders were named for one of my surnames:

  • Crawford
  • Crawford – Letters
  • Crawford – Census
  • Crawford – Kansas
  • Crawford – Indiana
  • Crawford – Ohio
  • Crawford – Kentucky
  • Crawford – Virginia

As my research has broadened to include the siblings and others of the Surname living in the area, I started adding sub-folders for those individuals. At first, I was just using the person’s name for the folder. However, the computer would sort those folder alphabetically. Growing frustrated with the alphabetical arrangement, I changed the way I named the folders to put the year of the person’s birth first. Thus, the folders get arranged chronologically.

I have applied the same concept to my file names. When I find a record for an individual, I start the file name with the date of the document, followed by brief sourcing info and end with the name(s) associated with the document. 

It took me a while to develop this organization method and naming pattern. And, my system is far from perfect, but it works for me.

Buddy File

Do you ever find yourself looking for a picture of an individual in a group and not finding it? Or, do you struggle to find a digital image of a document that someone witnessed?

I know I struggle with this issue. That’s why Tony Proctor’s presentation regarding indexing off file names during last Monday’s session of Monday’s with Myrt proved intriguing. (Organizing More Resources)

Tony developed a simple program to attach a ‘buddy file’ to the image. As he was presenting, I kept thinking, about the time involved to add this information to each and every photograph.

Then, Hilary commented that she has been using Tony’s program to attach transcriptions to a digital image. With the transcription attached to the image, I would be able to search my files for a member of an ancestor’s FAN club and find records they were mentioned in. That makes it worth the time to learn how to do this.

First, I found Dear Myrtle’s Facebook post on the topic.

This post contains the link to the original blog post and to the Dropbox folder containing the files. Tony has added quite a few comments to the post that are worth reading.

I downloaded the metaproxy application and the metaproxy text file to a Utilities folder.

Now, I need to create a ‘meta’ file for one of the images in this folder. Since I want to put the transcription for an image in the meta file, I opened my Scrivener file and located one of the images and transcriptions I wanted to work with.

Then I copied the text from the transcription into notepad. I saved that file with the EXACT same name as the image file but with a META extension (what goes after the period) into the same folder as the image.

Here’s where it got tricky. Since I couldn’t see the extensions on my file names, I didn’t know there was a problem. However, this was mentioned during the Mondays with Myrt session — and so I knew that I had to make the extensions visible. To do that, I opened Windows Explorer and clicked on the VIEW button. On the VIEW menu is a check box for File Name Extension.

When I clicked to show the extensions, I could see the issue with my META file. The .txt extension was added to the name.

I had forgotten to change the ‘Save as Type’ from Text to All Files when I saved the file in Notepad. Thus, I got the .txt extension on the file I saved.

This was easily remedied by renaming the file to remove the .txt from the end of the name. Now, I have the .meta file and the .jpg file in the same folder.

The next step is to train the computer to use the metaproxy application to open the .meta file. To begin this process, I did a right click on the file and selected ‘Open With’.

The screen prompted me to look in the App Store or to select from a list of ‘More Apps

At the bottom of the list of applications is the option to “LooK for another app on this PC”

I selected the option, “Look for another app on this PC” and browsed to the folder with the .meta file and the metaproxy.exe file.

After setting the program to use metaproxy.exe to open the .meta file I created, I could double click on the  .meta file and it would open both the TEXT based .meta file and the image file. Since I have Paint.Net set as my default software for .jpg files, the image opened in that program and the text file opened in Notepad. I discovered that if Paint.Net was set to full screen, the text file was hidden.

When I tried to search my directory for one of the surnames in this file, I did not find this file. Thus, I went back to Tony’s text file of directions and discovered that I needed to make a change in the indexing options (on Control Panel) for the meta file type. I followed the directions and found where I had to change the method of indexing so that it was Index properties and File Contents.

Even though I tried to follow Tony’s directions to make sure the folder and its contents were being indexed, I couldn’t get a search to pull up the file. Then I read to the end where Tony said he had to reboot his computer. So, I rebooted.
Once I rebooted, I tried to search the folder again. At first, it wasn’t working. In fact, I couldn’t search for anything. However, after a minute or two, the search feature started working. I was able to pull up the meta file.

Now that I have this figured out, I can use this to connect a transcription to the image. I just need to remember to do the following:

  • Copy the transcription into Notepad
  • Save the Notepad file with the exact same name as the image and the .meta extension
  • Verify that the .meta file does not have a .txt extention

Thank you Tony Proctor for developing this application. Thank you Dear Myrtle for helping me learn about the application.