Why Do-Over?

Have you ever wondered why genealogists might throw out years of work to start over? Or, have you wondered why other genealogists might elect to go back thru their previous work versus trying to break down brick walls?

A couple of genealogy blogs that I follow have pointed out some reasons for undertaking such a process.

In Jacqi Stevens post, Broyles Roots: If You Know, You Know on her A Family Tapestry blog, my (distant) cousin talks about her goal to update her research of Adam Broyles. She points out how the The Broyles Family by Arthur Leslie Keith provided a starting point for her BROYLES research but that she has not depended on it. Instead, she has been carefully working her way thru the generations. Not only are records more readily available now but DNA results can also help document these generational connections.

In Linda Stufflebeam’s recent Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post on her Empty Branches on the Family Tree blog, she discusses one of her 2023 goals which also requires ‘going over’. This goal is to ‘clean up her source citations’. While I know that this should be one of my goals, I have been reluctant to name it as a goal due to the size of such a project. Thus, I wish her luck!

Since one of my goals involves adding/updating biographies for my ancestral line to WikiTree, I’m also going back thru my research. When I created a narrative report for my grandparents, Edward Osmund Briles [LWYR-98X] and Pauline Mentzer [LWYR-9DX], I discovered an excellent example of why I need to pursue this process. With the availability of newspapers and census records in Kansas, I not only have a lot of facts for my grandparents but also an abundance of sources. This report revealed the following types of issues that need ‘cleaned’ up before copying the information to WikiTree.

  • Place abbreviations — Since I use standard place names, the report prints ‘United States’ for every fact which gets monotonous. By adding an abbreviation to the place, I can cause the report to print Coffey County, Kansas instead of Coffey, Kansas United States. Updating this is a two step process:
    • Adding abbreviation to place
    • Making sure the sentence uses the abbreviation for the place
  • Sentences –
    • extra space between words – “He owned” or missing space “In 1954,he”
    • too many words – “he was a ran a threshing”
    • missing information – “In Jun 1922, he .”
  • Facts that could be combined
  • Citations
    • Two or more citations to same source that can be merged
    • Missing information
    • Reference to a newspaper clipping when citation to digital copy exists
    • Extra punctuation

While it will take some time to get this report ‘cleaned up’, the resulting report will allow me to share my grandfather’s story on WikiTree.


Do you use a source checklist in your genealogy research? I have to admit that it has been YEARS since I used such a tool. However, when I first started researching my family, those checklists served as my guide.

A quick Google search for genealogy checklists led me to several resources:

While I feel like my research efforts have included a wide variety of sources, a statement on the Family Tree Magazine site caught my attention.

Think you’ve hit a brick wall? Don’t assume you’re stuck yet — use this rundown of record types to guide you to other records you haven’t checked.

Perhaps I need to create a checklist for my Crawford brick wall research!



Have you had an account on Twitter? If so, have you left for ‘greener’ pastures on Tumblr, Mastadon, Hive, etc.? I have been on Twitter for quite some time and still have an active account.

While I understand why some people, including some prominent genealogists, have chosen to leave Twitter, I’m staying for now. I’m staying because I have become frustrated trying to find alternatives that meet my needs.

For the most part, my use of Twitter or even Facebook does not involve me discussing some (boring) aspect of my daily life. Instead, I use social media to share and seek out information.

For example, this blog is configured to share new posts to my Twitter account. Because of the recent issues with Twitter, I added sharing to a Facebook page and my Tumblr account. Based on my stats, I know that the posts to Twitter are affective. Thus, I’d like to keep Twitter — but if most genealogists leave Twitter, then I won’t have an audience for those tweets.

Like tweets from my blog, a lot of my other tweets are generated from another source. I use Feedly to read various blogs. I often share some of the genealogy blog posts to Twitter. This also allows me to use my tweets to go back and find a blog post when I want to reread the post or share it with someone else.

As is likely true of most genealogists who have had a Twitter account, I follow other genealogists. This is one method to keep up with genealogy news. These tweets have made me aware of events and/or projects. For example, it was thru Twitter that I became aware of the Honor Roll Project to transcribe monuments honoring our veterans.

However, my use of Twitter is not limited to genealogy. With an undergrad degree in science and a master’s degree in library science, and over 40 years in public education, I follow a wide variety of people on Twitter. Over the years, thru Twitter I have

  • followed tweets by reporters and members of the Kansas House as they debated school finance in the middle of the night
  • followed the #KSwx hashtag to find about storms impacting my area of Kansas
  • followed emergency management as they dealt with large wildfires in Kansas
  • followed virologists around the world as they discussed the impact of the swine flu
  • followed the unfolding news out of China and Dr. Li Wenliang as a new virus (think Sars-Cov2) began impacting the citizens of China
  • followed virologists around the world as they discus the impact of Covid and LongCovid
  • followed a variety of journalists who challenge me to look at topics from different points of view

So, as Twitter threatened to implode, I started looking at alternatives. While some genealogists are leaving Twitter for Mastadon, my impression of Mastadon is that the various servers creates groups of users with similar interests or silos. While that works for genealogy, it makes it difficult for me to follow my variety of interests.

A recent post by a prominent voice about Covid asked the medical community about a network for Health.

Because I have not only followed this Twitter user for several years but learn from him with almost every post he makes, I responded to his post pointing out my needs.

When the hashtag, #RIPTwitter was trending, I decided to look at my options. Those options included the following:

  • created an account on Mastadon
  • verified I had an account on Tumblr
  • added virology blogs to my Feedly account
  • configured Google News to add some of the news sources I follow on Twitter
  • updated the automatic sharing options on my blog

While I don’t like the increase in harassment on Twitter, I still am an active user. I’m still a Twitter user because it is very frustrating trying to find alternatives to meet all of my perceived information needs.

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.