As we have just “celebrated” another COVID new year, I’m fairly certain that we are all suffering from what the doctors at the University of Kansas Medical System have idenfied as CWS (pronounced COWS), or Covid Weariness Syndrome. As we march into January with more negative Covid news, have you wondered how the 1918 Influenza pandemic impacted your ancestors or distant cousins?

Since my grandmother lost her 7 month old son, Kenny, in 1919, I often wondered whether he was a victim of influenza. Since Kenneth Briles was admitted into a Kansas City Hospital prior to his death, his death certificate is available online. And that death certificate eliminates influenza as a possible cause of Kenny’s death. Instead, it indicates that Kenny’s cause of death was pyelo-nephritis with Dyspepsia as an underlying cause. Google helped me figure out that Kenny had an infection in his kidneys which caused his death. The underlying cause of Dyspepsia may have been E coli. How Kenny ingested the bacteria will never be known.

Since Kenny’s death was not from influenza, I forgot about the possibility that I had relatives die from influenza. That was until I encountered the obituary of Theodore Basil Christy. According to his obituary, Theodore died from pneumonia caused by influenza.

Burial of Basil Christy

Took Place Thursday Morning at Hills Church

The funeral of Basil Christy, a well-known farmer in the south west part of the county took place Thursday morning at Hill’s church and was very largely attended.
Mr. Christy’s death followed an attack of pneumonia, the result of Influenza and was a shock to the entire neighborhood, he being a man highly respected in the community and wherever known. He is survived by a wife and children and also by several brothers and sisters.
He was a member of the Baptist church his membership being at the Hill’s church.

“Burial of Basil Christy,” The Tipton Daily Tribune (Tipton, IN), 17 October 1918, page 1; digital image, ( : viewed online 27 December 2021).

This obituary was the first piece of information indicating that any of my cousins had died from influenza. However, I haven’t seriously looked thru my file to see if there are others. Even though I likely won’t deviate from my current research tasks, I wanted to figure out who I had in my file who died during the influenza epidemic that began in 1918. According to Wikipedia, there were four waves during this epidemic with the majority of deaths occurring in 1918 and 1919. To figure out who my potential victims of influenza might be, I created a group in my RootsMagic program.

Thus, I clicked on the icon that looks like a paint palette in the upper right corner of the program to open the Command Palette. Scrolling down the list of commands, I located the one allowing me to add or modify groups..

On the GROUP window, I clicked on the NEW button to begin the creation of the group.

Then I entered a name for my group. In this case, I’m naming the group, Influenza.

When I click on the OK button, the window changes allowing me to hand pick members for the group from everyone in my file or to use the MARK feature to let the program pick them. Since I don’t know who should be in this group, I’m gong to click on MARK and let the computer select based on the death information I have in my file.

When I click on the MARK button, a menu opens offering me several choices. For this group, I want to select them by their death date. Thus, I’m going to use ‘By Data Field’.

Now, I enter the ‘argument’ I want the computer to use to search my genealogy file. If I want to include all 4 waves of the epidemic, I need to include dates for 1918, 1919 and the first half of 1920. Thus, I could use the following argument.

However, if I’m only concerned about the deaths during 1918 and 1919, then I can use an OR statement to pick both years.

When I click on the OK button, the computer will search thru my file and return a list of those people for whom the argument would be true. When I used death date contains 1918 or 1919, I got 114 people. In order to save this group, I have to remember to click the SELECT button.

To view the list of group members, I can use the INDEX on the people screen. If I pull down the upside down carrot by SHOW EVERYONE I can find my Influenza group in my list of groups.

When I click on the group, the list of people changes to just those in my group.

Now I have a list of people who may have died from Influenza. Some day when I’m either extremely ambitious or extremely curious, I can work my way thru this list to see if any of them actually succumbed to influenza.

RM8 Problem List

Did you see the blog post, End of the Year Tune Up for Your Family Tree? This post discusses how to identify problems with genealogy data using Family Tree Maker.

Like FamilyTree Maker, RootsMagic 8 includes the ability to create reports listing individuals with identified problems.

  • Individuals without sex entered
  • Proper Order of Events
  • Birth before parent’s marriage
  • Age at death should be less than ____ (default is 100)
  • Age at marriage should be between _____ and _____ (default is between 14 and 70)
  • Father’s age should be between _____ and _____ (default is between 14 and 70)
  • Mother’s age should be between _____ and _____ (default is between 14 and 50)
  • Birth before parent’s birth
  • Birth after father’s death
  • Birth after mother’s death

The program also uses a red exclamation mark icon for individuals with any of the above problems. The appears to the right of their name on the family or pedigree screens.

Clicking on the exclamation mark, one can open the ‘Problem List’ window to get details on the problem.

To figure out where I made my mistake, I opened Robert Thompson. I have his birth date recorded as ‘about 1839’ with a 1940 census record as the source. The details for the 1940 census record shows a family composed of Robert Thompson age 51 (father), Ruby Thompson, age 31 (mother) and Robert Thompson, age 1. In this case, it looks like I made a typing error and that the birth should be abt 1939.

After I correct the birthdate and close the individual window, the red exclamation mark disappears from Robert Thompson (#13007)

Since migrating to RM8, I’ve just been fixing the problems as I stumble across them while researching my tree. However, DiAnn Iamarino suggests a more proactive approach in her blog post, End of the Year Tune Up for Your Family Tree. This proactive approach requires me to create lists of problems in my database and then work my way down the list to fix the problems.

To create a list of problems, I need to use the command palette. The icon for the command palette is in the upper right corner of my RootsMagic 8 screen.

When I click on the command palette icon, a window opens showing a list of various commands. Scrolling down the list, I find Problem List.

Clicking on the Problem List command opens the Problem Options window.

If desired, I could place a check mark by several problems (or all problems) and create a report. However, I will find it easier if I only tackle one problem at a time. To start with, I’m going to tackle the problem I had with Robert Thompson — his birth date was prior to the birth date of his parents. Clicking on OK causes RootsMagic 8 to search my database and produce a list.

If I click the ‘Edit Person’ button, a window opens showing that individual. When I look at Jennie Burke’s information, I find that I have her mother’s Find a Grave record cited for Jennie’s birth and death’. The dates, I have recorded for Jennie match the dates copied into the details for the citaiton.

Thus, I need to check her parents to see if I have their birth dates correct. Since I can’t get to the parents of Jennie Burke without closing the Problem list, I have several choices

  • Close the problem list, locate Jennie Burk in my file and resolve the problem. Then, go back and re-create the problem list.
  • Print the list and work my way thru the printed list to correct the problems
  • Add fixing the issue with Jenni’s birthdate to my task list, work my way down the list of problems to add each one to my task list. Then I can use the task list as a guide to work my way thru these problems.

If I click on the Add to Task List button, the ADD TASK window opens.

I’ll be honest. I am not going to use the Add to Task List button. For me, the task list sounds like a great tool, but in reality, I don’t refer back to my list of tasks and update it when a task is completed. I also don’t look back at this list to see what I should be doing. Thus, adding these problems to a task list just postpones fixing the problem.

Since I may need to access the family screen to identify and/or fix these problems, I’m going to print my list and work my way thru the printed list. I am also going to work with one problem type at a time.

Now, I have another goal to complete yet this year: a tune-up of my RootsMagic database.

Descendancy Reports

Do you research the descendants of your ancestors? Over the years, I’ve learned that the more I know about the children of an ancestor and the families of those children, the easier it is to locate information about the ancestor. Thus, my genealogy file contains information on a lot of descendants. And that research has paid off in terms of identifying DNA matches.

Thus, some of my goals for 2021 were to research the descendants of my 6th great grandfathers on my father’s side of my tree.

Most of this ‘research’ was simply going thru the Ancestry hints for the descendants. At times, I searched for other records to help document the lives of these cousins. This time consuming research resulted in a blog post listing these descendants.

Thanks to my genealogy software, creating those reports is relatively simple. With the release of RootsMagic 8, those reports have changed slightly. The Descendant list report has several different formats available.

  • Name (birth date – death date)
  • Name/Birth/Death in columns
  • Name/BMD Date/Place
  • Name (birth year-death year)
  • Name/BMD Date/Place wordwrap

My favorite version is the wordwrap version. I like this version because it has more information in a format that makes the family levels easy to visualize.

Unfortunately, this format creates challenges when I try to copy/paste the information from one of these reports into a blog post.

I haven’t tried to copy/paste a columns report, but I think it would be even more of a challenge to create a blog post using this format.

That leaves three formats with varying levels of information: years, dates and dates with places.

Name (Birth year – Death year)
Name (birth date – death date)
Name/BMD Date / Place

Since I believe that knowing the place in relation to a date is important, I will likely use the Name/BMD Date/Place format for future descendancy list reports. As I work thru my goal to complete these descendancy reports, I know that the research involved is valuable but I question the value of posting these reports. What about you, reader, have you ever connected with a cousin thru a descendancy report?

RM and the FamilySearch Tree

Have you thought about what happens to all of the work you’ve put into the research of your family after you are gone? Are you one of those lucky ones who have someone younger willing to take it over?

Unfortunately, I don’t believe I will be so fortunate. Thus, I have sought out ways to share my research. I’ve distributed narrative reports to the societies where my ancestors lived, published my work on a web site, shared my work via gedcom, maintain a public tree on Ancestry and now blog about my findings.

Since I was not actively doing research for quite a few years prior to my retirement, I was not aware of the FamilySearch tree until I started using RootsMagic. Thus, for the past five years, I have been learning more about the FS tree and the FS site in general. Even though I have read or heard all of the comments about others changing one’s ancestors, I appreciate the collaborative aspect of the tree.

Recently, Elizabeth Shown Mills shared the FB post, Why do I support the FamilySearch FamilyTree?

Then on Nov. 17th, Randy Seaver posted the following on his blog: Dear Randy: Should I Use FamilySearch Family Tree as My Maine Genealogy Database?

I readily admit that I’m a novice user of the FamilySearch FamilyTree. At times, I have struggled with adding information to the site. Thus, I rely on the RootsMagic interface with the FamilySearch tree.

When I’m researching descendants, I use the connection between RootsMagic and the FS tree to add spouses and children. For example, I have Francis N Goudy in my RM file but not a spouse or children.

The FS tree has a spouse and four children.

Since I want to document this family, I want their names and dates in my RM file. When I click on the blue FS icon to the right of Francis N Goudy’s name in RootsMagic, a drop-down menu appears where I can click on FamilySearch.

Clicking on FamilySearch from the drop-down menu opens a window comparing what I have in my RootsMagic fild with what is on the FamilySearch FamilyTree.

Not only does this window show me that there are several census records and marriage records that I need to find, but it also identifies the spouse and children of Francis N. Goudy. It is this family information that I want to capture from FamilySearch.

To add an individual from FamilySearch to my RM tree, I click on the icon to the left of their name. This opens a window askinig me to confirm adding the person to my RM file.

Once I have the spouse and children added to my RM file, I then use RM’s TreeShare to add them to my Ancestry Tree. Now, I can research the family adding facts and events. By already having the family names in my database, I can more easily analyze records to see if they apply to this family. I realize that I am assuming the family on FS is correct. Since I work with one family at a time to document the events of their lives, I am willing to take the risk that some of the information on FS might be incorrect knowing that I can always delete them from my RM file. Besides the convenience of adding facts and sources, I like the fact that these new family members are already linked to the FS tree.

After working thru the Ancestry hints, I now have residence facts in my RM file.

I can also compare sources. In the case of Francis Nelson Goudy, someone has already added quite a few sources.

If I have a source that isn’t on the FS side, I can check the source and follow the prompts to add it to FamilySearch.

I struggle with this part a little. The window asks if I want to attach the source to the Name, Gender, Birth, Christening, Death, Burial or Family fields In the case of this source for the marriage, I am checking the Name and Family fields. However, when adding a census source, I only check the Name field.

The next window asks for a ‘reason’ to attach the source. This is another struggle for me. I don’t know if the reasons I enter are sufficient.

Once I have entered a reason and clicked the Attach button, the source appears in the list of sources on the right. If I click on the ‘i’ a window opens showing me the citation and the reason I entered.

I rarely edit or merge on the FS Tree. Before undertaking such a task, I make sure I have added sources to support the action I am taking.

Anyone wanting additional information about using the FamilySearch Tree with RootsMagic should check out Family History Fanatics video: RootsMagic 8: How to Sync Ancestry and FamilySearch Family Trees.

Old Research

Have you been researching your family for several years? Do you happen to have old handwritten notes. I have to admit that I have such records and sometimes even run across source citations that are likely from my PAF days.

As I was researching the descendants of William and Polly (Evans) Thompson, I ran across some of those old notes. One was a note was for a marriage source for three of William’s children.

Even though this was an OLD note, it did give me information to locate my notes:

Instead of having this separate NOTE fact, I want to attach this source to the marriage fact. Since I didn’t do a good job of recording the information about this book, I need more information to create the citation. Fortunately, I do have enough information to locate the book in World Cat.

This allowed me to create a citation and attach it to the marriage fact for the three couples.

Daughters of the American Revolution Iowa Society, Elizabeth Ross Chapter (Ottumwa, Iowa), Marriage Records of Wapello County, Ottumwa, Iowa (Iowa: Iowa DAR, maybe 194), pages 35, 103, 104.

And, I can now delete the NOTE fact found attached to each of the people mentioned in the source.

In the past, I’ve just corrected these NOTE facts as I’ve encountered them. However, RootsMagic provides a report that would allow me to find those notes and thus update them. That report is the FACT LIST report. In the settings for this report, I simply need to select the NOTE Fact Type.

If I leave the ‘Include’ set to EVERYONE, I get a report over 25 pages in length. However, I can use my marked groups to create a report for a section of my file. For example, the image above shows the settings to create the report using the group that contains the descendants of William and Polly Thompson. Thus, I get a more manageable list of notes to update.

Getting all of these notes cleaned up will take quite a bit of time. Perhaps this needs to be one of my goals for 2022.

RM8 Blank Facts

Are you a fast clicker in RootsMagic 8? Do you quickly transition from entering the date and place for a fact to entering the source for that fact? I’ve found that at times I working with a source and do quickly move from the fact to the source. And at times, this causes me to have errors in my data. If I’m too quick and forget a step, then I get a blank fact with an attached source

Sometimes, I catch the blank fact and get it corrected right away. However, there are times when I don’t realize my mistake causing this blank fact to become part of my tree. These ‘blank facts’ are obvious when doing TreeShare.

In the above image, I have a fact on the RootsMagic side that shows a blank (yellow) date and place but a pink source.

These blank facts are NOT an issue with the RootsMagic software. My process of entering the data is the cause.

Since TreeShare makes them obvious, I can also fix them from TreeShare by clicking on the EDIT ROOTSMAGIC PERSON button. This opens the Edit screen for the individual. Looking at the list of facts, I can see the RESIDENCE fact toward the bottom of the list of facts that has a source (pen icon) and no date or place.

Clicking on that fact, shows that no information has been entered for the date or place fields. I can also see that a source has been attached to this ‘blank’ fact.

Clicking on the source, opens the source and allows me to see the ‘research note’ for the citation. This note reveals the information that should have been entered for the date and place.

Since I can see the information that should have been entered for the residence fact, I can go back and enter that information. Once the data is entered, I need to remember to click the CHECK MARK in the upper right corner of the window.

Once I’ve clicked that check mark and closed the individual’s window, I’m back to TreeShare. Now the fact now contains a data and place making it different than other residence facts already uploaded. Thus, I can upload it to Ancestry.

Since I’ve encountered this issue several times, I’ve also figured out what I’m doing wrong.

I’m forgetting to click the Check Mark to save the data in the date/place fields before trying to add the source information.

After figuring out that I wasn’t clicking the check mark, I’ve paid more attention when entering data to make sure I’m not creating those blank facts.

The lesson that I evidently still need to learn is to slow down and click the check mark.

RM8 TreeShare

Did you hear? There is an update to RootsMagic 8 that fixes the TreeShare issues with large trees. For those that are unfamiliar with RootsMagic’s TreeShare, it is a way to synchronize RootsMagic data with a tree on Ancestry. For many users this is fantastic news.

I was fortunate in that I somehow managed to get my file of about 17,000 individuals connected to my Ancestry tree using my desktop computer in mid-October. Thus, I was able to continue to use Ancestry Hints as I did with RootsMagic 7. I’m not sure I would have patiently waited for this update if I hadn’t been able to make the TreeShare connection. However, my previous experiences kept reminding me that I do not want to start over with a new tree. For me, the consequences of creating a new tree means

  • starting over accepting leaf hints
  • impacting DNA results including common ancestors and ThruLnes
  • waiting for tree to be indexed

For over a year, I blogged about struggling to get my tree indexed

I’m thankful that this recent update to RootsMagic 8 resolved the issue with large trees syncing with Ancestry. Unfortunately, I discovered a minor issue that will take major time to resolve. It seems that all of the people whom I had previously worked with and at some point clicked on the X to ‘Mark as Not Changed’ are now back in my list as ‘changed’.

Browsing thru the list of people in my file, I saw a lot of pink (meaning the information is different) for the sources. For example, one of my ancestors, Hannah, was married to a Smith. Her screen indicates that I need to update her name on Ancestry and that many of her sources are pink – i.e. different.

Clicking on one of those pink icons, I can compare the sources from RootsMagic to the sources on Ancestry. The only difference for the source attached to her birth fact is a comma.

Scrolling thru and looking at my ancestors, not only do I find a lot of pink sources but quite a few yellow places. Expanding the window to full screen allows me to see the difference in the places. My RootsMagic file has United States after the name of the state while Ancestry does not.

As I see it, I have the following options:

  • Mark items like Hannah’s name to upload to Ancestry and accept changes
  • Use the X to mark people like John Briles as ‘Not Changed’

OR — I can create a group for the Thompson families I’ve been working on recently and get them uploaded and then use the OPTION to ‘Clear Everyone From the Changed List’.

I think I’ll take the easy way and update my Thompson research and then clear everyone else.

NOTE: Yesterday, Randy Seaver posted a blog where he describes his TreeShare progress. Unlike Randy, I did NOT disconnect my tree. However, the steps Randy outlines in his blog to upload information from his RM file to Ancestry are the same steps I follow. See his post, RootsMagic 8 Version Progress in the Genealogy Cave.

RM8 Abbreviations

Do you feel like you are always learning something new about your genealogy software or a genealogy web site. Since RootsMagic 8 is so so different from RootsMagic 7, that is a daily occurrence right now for me.

To make that process easier, RootsMagic has been releasing frequent webinars. Even though I have been playing around in RM8 for a couple of months, these webinars ALWAYS show me some little function that I haven’t found. And that was true when I watched the “Places and Locations in RM 8” webinar.

One of the ‘tidbits’ I learned about from this webinar was the ability to assign an ABBREVIATION to a place name. Since I use a lot of narrative reports, I’m constantly looking at the sentences and at times modifying them.

For example, I’m currently working with the US Army Transport Arriving and Departure Passenger Lists on Ancestry. Yes, I could just add this source to a military fact and move on to the next leaf hint. However, the information on this record adds ‘interest’ to military facts.

Name: Harlan O Thompson
Departure Date: 23 Mar 1919
Departure Place: Brest, France
Arrival Date: 30 Mar 1919
Arrival Place: New York, New York
Residence Place: Edgar, Montana
Father: Francis E Thompson
Ship: Aquitania
Military Unit: Headquarters Company 348th Field Artillery
Rank: Mus 3 CL F A
Service Number: 3132226
Notes: Headquarters Company, 348th Field Artillery
Search Photos: Search for ‘Aquitania’ in the US WWI Troop Transport Ship Photos collection

Thus, I create a MILITARY fact for both the departure from France and the arrival in New York. Since I’m using the MILITARY fact, it has a built in sentence.

Since this particular fact does not provide information on Harlan’s service, the sentence doesn’t work. Instead, I want it to refer to his departure from France. Thus, I need to click on the CUSTOMIZE link to open the EDIT SENTENCE window.

Over the years of messing with sentences, I’ve found that I can move the [DATE] to the first of the sentence.

By getting the date out of the way, it is easier to build the rest of the sentence. Since this particular fact is about his departure, I edit the sentence to change the words from ‘served in the military’ to ‘departed.’

Since the information I have entered in the DESCRIPTION field doesn’t make sense when it is immediately after the word departed, I simply move the [DESC] to the end of the sentence.

Those simple changes worked for the sentence regarding his departure. However, when I make similar changes for my MILITARY fact for his arrival, my adherence to standardized places makes the sentence seem wordy.

That’s when I remembered the tidbit from the webinar about ABBREVIATIONS for places. So I decided to try it. First, I had to set up the abbreviation in the Place. Thus, I need to locate New York, New York, United States in my list of places.

To use the abbreviation, I need to enter what I want to use for the abbreviation in the Edit Place field. As I do this, I need to remember that this is not an ‘official’ abbreviation, but how I want the place name abbreviated in sentences. For my example, I want to use New York City instead of the standard name.

To make my sentence use the Abbreviation, I changed [Place] to [Place:Abbrev]. Now, my sentence puts New York City into the sentence instead of New York, New York, United States.

Knowing how this will impact sentences, I know that I need to add abbreviations to many of my places. For example, since almost all of my research is based in the United States, I could easily use the abbreviation of Kansas for Kansas, United States. However, just adding the abbreviation is only 1/2 of the solution. I also need to look at sentences and modify them.

Fortunately, I can make a change to the FACT TYPE that will impact the standard sentences built on that fact type. For example, I use the Residence fact type to enter census information. This is one fact where I would like to use abbreviations for the places. So, I click on the command palette to get to the fact types and locate my RESIDENCE fact.

When I click on the Edit button, it opens the EDIT FACT TYPE window. The role type is where the sentence setup is defined.

When I click on EDIT ROLE, a window opens allowing me to change the sentenct.

So, I change the [Place] to [Place:Abbrev].

To see if that works, I went to one of the residence places for Harlan Thompson and added an abbreviation.

Going back to Harlan Thompson, I look at his 1940 residence fact that places him in Marshalltown, Iowa and the sentence had not changed. However, closing Harlan’s edit window and reopening it showed the new sentence.

Now that I know how to make global changes to the sentences, I need to think about how I want to enter the abbreviations. For example,

  • Marshalltown, Iowa (City, State)
  • Marshalltown, Marshall County, Iowa (City, county with the word county, state)
  • Marshalltwon, Marshall, Iowa (City, county, state)

What about you? Will you put this abbreviation feature to work? How will you create your abbreviations?

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

RM8 Documenting DNA

Have you had your DNA tested? If so, have you tried to document your matches in your genealogy software? Do you look at a match as ‘proof’ of a relationship or as ‘supporting evidence’.

Since I had my tree documented back 6 or more generations when I had my DNA tested, I’m not using DNA as ‘proof’ but as supporting evidence. I don’t need to prove a relationship to my parents, grandparents or great-grandparents. Instead, I look to DNA to help validate a lineage back to my 4th great grandparents or further. I’m not really interested in documenting segment data but in documenting the lineage.

Thus I want to document how I connect to my matches with known common ancestors. I use Ancestry’s ThruLines to help me with this. Since the accuracy of ThruLines is dependent on user trees, I research the descendants of my ancestors. Because I have a lot of descendants in my tree, ThruLines is not as dependent on my match’s tree.

To use DNA as supporting evidence, I need to get this ‘evidence’ into my genealogy software, RootsMagic. To do this, I created my own fact that I named DNAThruLines. Because the identity of my matches needs to be kept private, I do not include this fact on any report.

When I add my DNAThruLines fact, I fill in the SORT DATE with the date I’m working with the fact. I also make sure this fact is marked PRIVATE. Then I start adding sources, one source for each match. My SOURCE was created from a copy of the built-in Genetic Databases (online) template.

When I add this source, there are 3 fields that I enter into the citation: access type, date viewed and item of interest. I put my match’s Ancestry name in the Item of Interest field.

Once the citation is entered, I go to the RESEARCH NOTE and enter additional information.

  • lineage from common ancestor down to match
  • relationship
  • statistics for each Ancestry test with this match: number of shared cM and segments

A research note for a descendant of Horatio Hammond might look as follows:

Horatio Hammond –> Jehiel P. Hammond –> Carrie L. Hammond –> Orion C. Watson –> George W. Watson –> Private XXXXX –> XXXXX
4th cousin 1x removed
XXXXX shares 34 cM across 3 segments with MC
XXXXX shares 51 cM across 4 segments with TC
XXXXX shares 15 cM across 2 segments with DC

Once I have the source and citation completed, I follow the lineage down, creating a DNAThruLines fact and pasting the source. I repeat this process until I have this information entered for each person in the lineage.

As I was working thru the development of this process, I realized that I did not want to have to enter this information more than once. For example, I did not want to have to enter the information for a great-grandfather and then re-enter the information for his wife, my great-grandmother. I also didn’t want to have to reenter the information for my great-grandfather’s parents, grandparents, etc. To avoid this need for duplicate entries, I am sharing the DNA fact.

For example, the DNAThruLines fact for my great-grandfather, Judson Crawford, is shared with his wife, Josie Hammond, and his known ancestors.

As I work with these ThruLines matches, I have to be cognizant of multiple marriages. For example, my 2nd great grandfather, Thurston Kennedy Wells had a marriage prior to marrying my 2nd great grandmother, Salome Crandall. I have matches thru a child from Thurston’s first marriage. For this situation, Thurston has two DNAThruLines facts: one for his first wife (HALL) and one for his second wife (CRANDALL). I have used the Description field to help differentiate the two facts in his timeline.

The HALL DNAThruLine fact will not be shared with anyone else in my tree. However, the CRANDALL fact is currently shared with Salome Crandall and needs to be shared with their ancestors.

As I am continually learning to use the features of RootsMagic, I have learned of a feature that I need to incorporate into my DNA documentation methods. That is the use of the {} to keep my research notes private. The RootsMagic blog post, Tip: Keep Private Notes Private details the use of these {} brackets. Thus, I need to go back and add these {} brackets to my research notes. Thanks to the way RootsMagic 8 handles citations, modifying these research notes will be easier since I can modify one use of a citation and it will be copied down to all other uses of that citation.

I’m slowly working my way thru my DNA ThruLines to get these connections documented.