Always Learning – Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Do you like to pick up tips and tricks from other researchers? I know I do! I especially like those surveys or challenges that cause me to look at my data in a different way. That’s one of the things I like about Randy Seaver’s “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun” challenges. Not only does Randy challenge me to look at my data differently – but he often provides the instructions on how to do it.

That is especially true of last night’s challenge.

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) 
Go into your Genealogy Management Program (GMP; either software on your computer, or an online family tree) and figure out how to Count how many surnames you have in your family tree database.

2)  Tell us which GMP you’re using and how you did this task.

3)  Tell us what the top 20  surnames are in your database and, if possible, how many entries.  How many different surnames are in your family tree?

4)  Write about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, in a status or comment on a Facebook post.

Since like Randy, I use RootsMagic 7 to manage my genealogy research, I simply have to follow his directions to figure out my top 20 surnames.

So within RootsMagic 7, I pulled down the REPORTS menu and clicked on LISTS for the type of report. Then I just scrolled down the right side of the window to locate the SURNAME STATISTICS LIST.


When the REPORT SETTINGS window opened, I needed to change the ‘Sort List by’ to ‘FREQUENCY OF SURNAME’.

With 53 pages of surnames, I have to admit I have a lot of different surnames in my project. My top 20 surnames include some surprises:

  • Crawford — 1128
  • Ricketts — 903
  • Foster — 400
  • Briles — 359
  • Curry — 339
  • _____ — 291
  • Wells — 277
  • Thompson — 258
  • Hammond — 214
  • Sellers — 185
  • Currey — 178
  • Mentzer — 168
  • Broyles — 140
  • Smith — 134
  • Burke — 124
  • Young — 112
  • Rush — 101
  • Allen — 100
  • Ralston — 89
  • Miller — 83

So, what were some of the surprises?
Well, the _____ and the blank surnames shouldn’t have surprised me, since I have a lot of spouses without a surname. I just didn’t expect them to show up in my Top 20.
What is really surprising is the FAN club surnames that made my Top 20. This would include SELLERS, YOUNG, ALLEN and MILLER. 
So, I wondered where the ancestral surnames of my 2nd great grandparents appeared on the list. So, here’s the list of those ancestral surnames and where they appear on the list:

  • Crawford — 1st
  • Foster — 3rd
  • Hammond — 9th
  • Ralston — 19th
  • Currey — 11th (withCURRY at  5th)
  • Burke – 15th
  • Hutchinson — 23rd 
  • Harding – 26th
  • Briles – 4th
  • Thompson — 8th
  • Ricketts — 2nd
  • Christy — 78th
  • Mentzer — 12th
  • Minnick — 77th
  • Wells — 7th
  • Crandall — 33rd

Thanks Randy for the challenge!

Online Trees

Is organization one of your 2020 goals? If so, have you been following the tips in The Genealogy Guys Blog? Today’s post, ‘Organizing Your Online Trees,’ is a challenge for me.

It is a challenge since I never considered having to ‘keep  them up to date.’

For years, I have shared my work with others either thru a website, thru my Ancestry tree or thru a gedcom file. Since having my DNA tested, I have used gedcom files to share my tree with the various sites where my DNA data has been uploaded.

Thanks to hosting site and software changes, some of my early attempts at sharing are no longer easily accessed. This would include my original website hosted on GeoCities. About the time GeoCities was being discontinued, I had transitioned to using The Master Genealogist for my genealogy research. Thus, I was able to take advantage of John Cardinal’s software, Second Site and his hosting service to continue sharing my work online.

When support for The Master Genealogist was discontinued, I converted my data to RootsMagic. One of the ‘selling’ points for RootsMagic was the ability to publish my data online. Thus, I switched my online file from Second Site to RootsMagic’s.

Since the release of RootsMagic’s TreeShare, I have had my RootsMagic data connected to my Ancestry Tree. I’ve also been taking advantage of the ability to connect individuals in my RM data to Family Search.

Thus, my primary online trees include

For DNA purposes, I do have some of my data on the following sites:

Since my GedCom has been shared in many ways, I don’t have a complete list of where my data may be available online. Thus, the challenge!

Since most of my current research has not involved new DNA ancestors, I don’t feel a lot of pressure to update my GedCom data on My Heritage, FamilyTree DNA or GedMatch.

In terms of updating online trees, my focus will be on my Ancestry tree, my ancestors on FamilySearch and my RootsMagic online data. Thank you ‘The Genealogy Guys’ for the challenge!

Alternate Names

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my genealogy skills, I feel like I am constantly learning and sometimes, re-learning? I’m currently ‘re-learning’ about ‘alternate names.’

Thanks to a post in the RootsMagic Users Facebook group about the ‘Alternate Name’ fact, I’ve been prompted to evaluate how I deal with married names.
When I migrated my data from The Master Genealogist (TMG) to RootsMagic, the ‘Name-Marr’ event from TMG was automatically converted to the ‘Alternate Name’ fact in Roots Magic. 


However, I didn’t do a good job of learning about my new software since I didn’t realize the correlation between the  ‘Name-Marr’ and ‘Alternate Name’ facts. Nor did I realize that I had to create the fact for a female when adding a spouse.
After reading the FB post, I am going back to make sure the I have added the Alternate Name Fact — especially for my direct lines. As I’ve been working thru this, I also realized that my ‘INDEX’ list was not showing those names. This was a ‘simple’ fix in that I only had to pull down the OPTIONS button and place a check by ‘Show Alternate Names’

In order to make it easier to make these changes, I wanted to create a list of those needing an ‘Alternate Name’ fact added. For the most part, this would be females who were married but who do not have the ‘Alternate Name’ fact. I couldn’t figure out how to create a marked list with that list of criteria. However, I was able to create a marked list for females who have a marriage record and called the list ‘Married Female’.

Using this marked group, I was then able to create a ‘FACT LIST’ report for people missing the ‘Alternate Name’ Fact.

Now, I have a list of women who need to have an ‘Alternate Name’ fact added. I can now slowly work my way thru this report. Even though this will take some time to add the Alternate Name fact where appropriate, I am thankful to the users on the RootsMagic Users Facebook group for discussing this fact.

Timelines – Cluster Research

Do you use timelines in your genealogy research? I’m guessing that most people who have been searching their family history for some time have used some sort of timeline.

When I retired and starting spending more time researching my family tree, I created a spreadsheet for my Crawford family research.

In the spreadsheet, I was able to color code the people, locations and time periods. All of this information was copied from my RootsMagic data into the spreadsheet.

It wasn’t until I read Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – Make a Timeline Report blog that I seriously looked at the Timeline Report in RootsMagic. Thanks to his post, I started looking at the built-in timelines on Ancestry and within RootsMagic.

As I was learning about this report, I wondered if I could use RootsMagic Software to automatically generate a timeline similar to my Excel spreadsheet. Since the report allows one to use a ‘marked group’ to create the report, I decided I would try to create a marked group for my Crawford cluster research.

To experiment, I clicked on groups and then clicked on the folder to create or edit a group.

That opened a ‘Named Groups’ window.

When I clicked on ‘NEW’ that opened a window to allow me to select people. To start marking my cluster, I highlighted the first person in my cluster and clicked on the ‘MARK GROUP’ tab.

For this cluster, I wanted to show information for two generations of several different families. Thus, I selected “DESCENDANTS OF HIGHLIGHTED PERSON” from the menu. I then selected “DESCENDANTS AND SPOUSES” and changed the number of generations to 2. Then I clicked OK to mark that family for my cluster.
I then highlighted the next person I wanted to include in my cluster and repeated the process to mark the descendants of this next person. When finished marking the various families, I clicked the OK button at the bottom of the ‘select people’ window. 

That opened a window prompting me to name the group.

Once I had the group marked, I could then create the timeline report.

I pulled down the tab by EVERYONE and scrolled down to find my Crawford Cluster group.

When I clicked on Generate Report, it produced a report pulling together all of the events that I had entered for these various families. The report includes the date, the event, the person and the place of the event.

This report has several advantages over my original spreadsheet. The RootsMagic report

  • can be generated at any time
  • includes all events entered and not just selected ones
  • can be expanded to include others in the cluster by modifying the marked group
  • can be exported as a text file and then imported into Excel

THANK YOU Randy Seaver 

for blogging about this timeline report!

Media Issues

Have you seen DearMyrtle’s challenge?

When I first saw the challenge, I thought I should be in pretty good shape. After all, I scanned the family photos and attached them in my The Master Genealogist software several years ago. Since I’ve worked my way thru 5 generations of data review, I figured I should be set.

That was until yesterday when I was verifying descendants for a thru-lines DNA match on Ancestry. As I was working with a known first cousin twice removed, I decided to check FamilySearch to see if there were any additional sources attached to this cousin.

To my surprise, I found a slightly different set of parents than expected. I expected to find John Frederick Mentzer and Anna Wells Mentzer as the parents of a family of 8 children, including Mildred Mabel Mentzer. Instead, I found Fred Mentzer and Anna Wells Mentzer as the parents of one child, Mildred Mentzer. After digging thru my Mentzer records to verify that John and Anna did have a daughter named Mildred and that said daughter was married to a VanValkenburg, I merged Mildred and the two sets of parents.

Knowing that someone could object to this merger and undo the merge, I wanted to add supporting documentation to support the merge. Thus, I (thought I) added an image of the obituary for Fred Mentzer. The obituary clearly indicated that Fred Mentzer was also known as John Frederick Mentzer. It also listed the children and their residency at the time of Fred’s death. I also added a page from a Woodson County Historical Society publication that included a picture of the family when the children were young and a list of the children and their spouses.

Since my attempt to create an image of the obituary from a PDF file, did not include the entire obituary that attempt was a failure. Thankfully, I discovered the problem and have since uploaded an image showing the entire obituary.

Besides the images, I transferred 9 source records from my RootsMagic program to FamilySearch for John F. Mentzer. However, it is the images that connect the John F. Mentzer of Woodson County, Kansas to Mabel VanValkenburg of California. 

Thus, I’ve been thinking about DearMyrtle’s challenge and this experience with FamilySearch. Although I do some work with the FamilySearch tree, I primarily share my work via my Ancestry tree, Heartland Genealogy, and via my RootsMagic site. Thus, I was curious whether the images I have tagged in my RM database transferred to my Ancestry tree and/or my RootsMagic site.

What I discovered is that some but nowhere near all images have been uploaded to either location. I’ve also discovered that if I have already uploaded a source to Ancestry, any changes to that source are not uploaded to Ancestry. In other words, if I go back and add an image to a source, that isn’t seen as a change. Thus, the option to update the source is not present.

IN addition, I discovered that I have been lax in working with images in RootsMagic. I have tried to add an image or pdf file to my sources. For some reason, I was apparently assuming that the image was also being attached to the event and person. The lack of green check marks in the camera column proves that I was making an incorrect assumption.

Knowing that I obviously needed help with images, I’m re-watching the video: Pictures and Media in RootsMagic.

So, I obviously have work to do!
My plan of action is slightly different from DearMyrtle’s.

  • Work with one ancestral couple at a time
  • Verify that I have images attached to sources
  • When appropriate, attach an image to an event
  • Verify that I have photographs (already scanned and on my computer) attached to the individual with one photo selected as the primary image
  • Verify ‘Scrapbook’ report contents
  • Run RootsMagic’s TreeShare to update my Ancestry Tree
  • Download any photographs I’ve saved on Ancestry and attach to RM tree
  • Use RM’s ability to connect to the FamilySearch tree to upload sources to FS
  • Upload images to the ‘Memories’ section of FamilySearch
  • Verify that notes exist for an event and copy/paste into the NOTES on Ancestry.
  • Work thru the children of the ancestral couple, repeating the above steps

Thanks to Cary Bright who shared a checklist on DearMyrtle’s challenge, I can follow her lead and create my own checklist.

So, why am I going back over work I’ve already done (again)?

  • Improve accuracy of the data in my tree
  • Improve ability to connect with DNA matches
  • Improve quality of FamilySearch tree by sharing sources and images
  • Preserve images by having them on Ancestry and FamilySearch
  • Connect with other researchers
Join me and others in this challenge to update images! Another example of why a genealogists work is never done!

Databases and Colors

Do you think of your genealogy research as a tree or a database? I realize many people fall into the ‘tree’ group, but I am in the ‘database’ group.

Because I think of my data as a database, I want computer software to manage that data versus only using an online tree. I use RootsMagic to manage my database. You might say, ‘but that’s family tree software’ and I would say you are correct. RootsMagic is great software to manage family tree based research.

However, I don’t just research my tree, I research their FAN club (Friends Associates and Neighbors) as well as potential lines. And all of this research ultimately ends up in my RootsMagic file. Since this is one fairly large database, I have to have a way to visually keep track of the various lines in my research.

That’s where the color coding feature in RootsMagic comes in handy. I started by assigning different colors to various lines of my research.

Besides assigning a color to ancestors along a line, I’ve also assigned that same color to the descendants on that line. (Note: Living descendants are colored LIME so that I can quickly identify living people.)

Not only do I use colors to identify my direct lines, I am using colors to identify some of the lines of my Crawford research. I am using BLUE for my Crawford line and MAROON for the set of lines found in Garrard County, Kentucky during the same time period as my Crawford Ancestor.

There is one Crawford line that seems to be popular in other CRAWFORD trees: the line of Alexander and Mary (McPheeters) Crawford. I have color coded that line GREEN. 

I have colored the James Crawford (Sarah Vansant) line YELLOW. This is the line in Fleming County, Kentucky that has been confused with the James Crawford who married Rebecca Anderson.

There is another James Crawford living in Fleming County, KY at the same time as James Crawford and Sarah Vansant. The line of this  James Crawford (married to Elizabeth Stockton) is color coded AQUA.

One of my close yDNA matches descends from William Nelson Crawford. There are autosomal DNA matches between this person and myself and between this person and descendants of James and Martha (Knight) Crawford. This line is shaded TEAL.

Another yDNA match descends from Edward Crawford. This line is color coded SILVER.

This color coding of the various CRAWFORD families in my research is helping me discover connections between the families.

Thus, when I found a Sellers wife as the daughter of John and Rebekah (Douglas) Crawford, I was able to color code those descendants maroon.

Since I use RootsMagic to create a website for my data, the colors also transfer to my online site.

To summarize, I have assigned the color coding as follows:

  • Red — BRILES
  • Lime — Living
  • Blue — my CRAWFORD line
  • Fuchsia — MENTZER
  • Yellow — James Crawford and Elizabeth Van Sandt of Fleming County, KY
  • Aqua – James Crawford and Elizabeth Stockton of Fleming County, KY
  • Silver – Edward Crawford (yDNA match)
  • Maroon – lines for Crawford James, William and Rebekah Douglas Crawford families of Garrard County, KY (the line I suspect I connect to)
  • Green – Alexander and Mary (McPheeters) line
  • Navy – HAMMOND
  • Purple – CURREY
  • Brown – Thompson ‘same name’ line
  • Teal – William Nelson Crawford line (DNA match)
  • Gray – not used (too close to silver to distinguish)

I find this feature of RootsMagic very useful when working with my various lines. However, I could use more colors!

Same Names – Identity Tag

While using The Master Genealogist software, I developed an ‘identity’ fact. By sharing this fact, I was able to connect two individuals whom I thought might be the same person. I used the notes field to add information about the possibility that these were the same person.

The fact type transferred to RootsMagic, but the sentence structure still needed work. As I’m encountering a lot of ‘same name’ issues in my current research, I want to use this fact type. Thus, I needed the sentences to work.

After some trial and error, I got the sentence structure to work for the Principal and Principal2.

I have two Hampton Crandalls in my database that I believe are the same person. Thus, I had added the Identity tag to one and shared it with the other.

In the past, this type of tag helped keep me from combining individuals before having sufficient proof that they are indeed the same person. Thus, I am going to start using it again!

Cleaning Up Bad Citations

Do you ever have to do a ‘clean-up’ in your genealogy database? Whether you do or not, I know I do. I recently figured out that some of my citations did not ‘convert’ well when I moved my data from The Master Genealogist to Roots Magic. Thus, I have some ‘bad’ citations to clean up.

Even though I knew these bad citations existed in my database, I had no clue how to go about finding all of them. Thus, I posted a query in the RootsMagic Users Group on Facebook.

Although, it isn’t possible to create a report listing these citations, a kind user posted some steps to try and locate those hints.

You could enter the Source template a source is made from in the Master source Comments section. Enter the source template name or part of the source template name in Find everywhere as a search criteria. This report will give you the Master sources. It will not give you the people or facts the Master source is linked to.

Save the Find everywhere report. It saves as a .hmt file. Open the .hmt in a browser. Copy the file into the Windows clipboard and paste it into a text file.

The Source list report prints all Master sources or a selected Master source. The report doesn’t print the source template the Master source uses. If you check Citation details, the report prints the person’s name and where the Master Source is linked.

Create a Group of the people that have Master sources made from a Source template that is entered in the Master source comments.

Any fact, source, comment contains,

or Source (General), comment contains

or Source (Family), comment contains.

You can put the main view on Timeline and select each person in turn in the Group in the Sidebar. Click on the check mark in source column to open the Citation Manager for a Person, Spouse, or fact.

You can also click on the source icon above Spouses, Parents in the upper left of the main screen to see where a person has linked sources. Click on an item in the list to open that Citation manager.

I changed my Master source names to add the source type to the beginning of the name and standardize the way I entered the rest of the source name. It makes it easier to find a Master source of a certain type or create a Group. It took me awhile to finish it, but it was worth doing.

Birth – AR – Sebastian – 1877-1963 – Birth and Death – FamilySearch

Birth – CA – 1905-1995 – Birth Index – Ancestry

Birth – CA – 1905-1995 – Birth Index – FamilySearch

Funeral home – OK – Oklahoma – Oklahoma City – Bill Eisenhour Funeral Home, Web

Funeral home – TX – McLennan – Fall and Puckett Funeral Home

Marriage – IL – All – 1763-1900 – Statewide Marriage Index – Web

I divided elements of rhe source name with – to make it easier for me to read.

Where and how you enter information in RootsMagic determines what RootsMagic feature you can use to get that information back out of Rootsmagic.


Unfortunately, my bad citations are not based on one or two (or even a few number of) master sources, but individual sources. Thus, I can’t retrieve all of the erroneous citations without knowing who they are attached to.

So, I’m experimenting. I’ve identified two source templates with bad citations. One of those is _TMG_E-Mail Message. Using the hint above, I edited the source template to add the word ‘CITATION’ to the footnote template.

I then pulled down the SEARCH menu and selected FIND EVERYWHERE.

I put the word, ‘CITATION’ in the top line of the FIND EVERYWHERE box and clicked OK.

The resulting report shows the people and events with citations using this Source Template

This search identifies the sources and should help me find the people.
I tried creating a ‘marked group’ for anyone with a source footnote containing the word ‘CITATION’. That pulled up the sources using the _TMG_Ship Passenger Lists but NOT those sources using the _TMG_E-mail message template.

After some more help via Facebook, I modified my template to add TMG

I then used the mark group feature to ‘Select people by data fields’ and followed the suggestions received via FB.

Any fact – source – footnote contains – TMG

and any fact – source footnote contains – e-mail

That search produced a list of individuals that should have these badly formatted citations. Now, I can work thru this list of people and correct the citations.

As a work-around until I can get all of these citations corrected, I modified the Source Template. The original _TMG_E-Mail Message template used the following format:

[Author], TMG e-mail message from [AuthorE-Mail] ([Address]) to [Recipient]<, [Date]><, [CD]>.

Thus, it implied that all of these sources were based on an email message when they were actually county records. Therefore, I modified the template to the following:

<[Address]. ><[Cd].>

Below is an example of the resulting footnote:

Footnote: Leavenworth County Kansas. Vol. 33, page 633 (Curry.Notebook).

Even though this footnote is still incomplete, it is much better than how the template originally formatted it.

If it wasn’t for other users in the RootsMagic Users Group on Facebook, I wouldn’t have figured out how to begin resolving this citation issue.

Scroll, Click, Connect

Do you ever look at other trees on Ancestry? I know I do. I use them for hints. I also attach them as ‘sources’ so that I can get back to trees that match my ancestors.

However, I try not to add ‘new people’ from those trees to my tree. I also try to add additional sources to support the information in my tree. Some of those sources are obtained thru Ancestry and the hinting system.

However, some of my sources come from outside of Ancestry. Thus, when you search Ancestry’s Public Member Trees for someone in my tree, the number of sources attached to the individual will be shown.

When you go to the individual in the tree, the Ancestry sources will be shown first.

Only by scrolling down the page, will one find those ‘other sources’

Not only should one ‘SCROLL’ to find those ‘OTHER SOURCES’, one should also ‘CLICK’ on those sources.

Clicking, reveals the information from the source. When viewing the citation, please remember that the transcript on Ancestry does not have the paragraph returns and blank lines that were in the original transcription.

If you find these other sources and transcriptions helpful, be sure to use the MESSAGE button to connect with the tree owner. By working together, we can uncover more information about the people in our trees.

So —

  • Use Public Member Trees, 
  • Scroll thru and study the Sources, 
  • Click to View transcriptions and 
  • Message the tree owner to begin collaboration

Bad Citations

Do you have older source citations in your tree that your high school English teacher would yell at you about? Do you have source citations in your tree that even you can’t use to locate the information?

I don’t know about you, but I have such sources in my tree. As I’m reviewing my Crawford research, I’m finding those source citations.

Most of these HORRIBLE citations came from my early days of research when citation standards were just being developed. 

If I look at one of those ’email message’ citations, I find it attached to a residence fact.

If I go back to my genealogy file from The Master Genealogist and look at the event, I find that, although incomplete, I had a source that was NOT based on an email message.

My only explanation is that the source was somehow corrupted in the transfer to RootsMagic.

Unfortunately, I’ve deleted those ‘bad’ sources from events in the  James Crawford (1758-1836) timeline on RootsMagic. Thankfully, I haven’t deleted those bad sources from everyone in my database. I can use the RootsMagic and the event to which it is attached to find my way back to the same source in The Master Genealogist.

Roots Magic Source
Same Source in The Master Genealogist

Since those sources were in my Roots Magic database when I used TreeShare to upload my data to Ancestry, those BAD sources are in my Heartland Genealogy tree on Ancestry.

Unfortunately, at this time, I don’t know how to find all of those sources. Basically, I need a report in RootsMagic that will print all sources using a specific source template and the person and event to which that source is attached.

I’ve learned my lesson! My poorly cited data hinders my own research as well as keeping others from following my line of thinking.

Wish me luck as I try to clean up this mess!