County Histories

Have you heard the term, ‘Mug Book’? Have you used a ‘mug book’? When I first started my genealogy journey, I used a lot of what some call ‘mug books’ before I ever heard the term. The blog post, Ancestor Biographies Breathe Life into Family History, contains an explanation of this term.

As I’m updating my research of my Thompson cousins, I recently ran across a Note referencing a biography for W. T. Thompson from one of those mug books.

On the back of the photocopy, I fortunately wrote down enough information to search WorldCat and then build a valid citation.

Even though World Cat did not indicate that there was a digitized version of this book, I did some digging and found it on Ancestry. That means that I can do a search of the book for the THOMPSON surname and locate every instance of the name.

As I use this biography, I need to remember that the information contained in it may not be correct. However, it does provide a lot of hints to help me locate other records to support or disprove the information in the biography.

  • Birth date and place of William Thompson
  • Parents of William Thompson and where they were from
  • Migration dates and places for the family
  • Marriage of William Thompson
  • Birth date of Polly Ann Evans
  • Parents of Polly Ann Evans
  • Migration of the parents of Polly Ann Evans
  • Land Purchase from government
  • Land description
  • Names of children with spouses
  • Places where children were living at time biography was written

Thus, this one biography forms the backbone for building the family. It provides hints for locating census records, land records, marriage records, etc.

W. T. Thompson, a prosperous farmer and stock-grower of Richland township, may be found on section 36, following his peaceful pursuits successfully, and enjoying the confidence and esteem of his neighbors. He was born in Ohio County, KY., Dec. 29, 1820, and is a son of John and Sarah (Iglehart) Thompson, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Maryland. At quite an early day the family removed form Kentucky to Indiana, and lived there till 1844, when they came to Wapello County, Iowa, and were thus numbered among the pioneers of this county. Here they lived until 1857, when they moved to Adams County, Iowa, where the father died soon after, the mother surviving him until February, 1877.

The subject of this sketch was reared on a farm, and on the 30th day of October, 1842, in Warrick County, Ind., was united in marriage to Miss Polly Ann Evans. Mrs. Thompson was born July 25, 1821, and is the daughter of James and Sarah (Garret) Evans. Her father was a farmer and moved with his family from Indiana to this State, where he remained a short time and then returned to Indiana, where himself and wife subsequently died. In 1847 Mr. Thompson came from Indiana to Wapello County, making the journey with team. On his arrival he bought 120 acres of land of the Government, which comprises his present farm. Of tis eighty acres are under cultivation and he owns thirty-eight acres of wood and pasture land on section 17, Dahlonega township. The home farm is well improved; on it is a tasteful and substantial dwelling, good barn and a fine orchard.

Mr. And Mrs. Thompson are the parents of nine children: Sarah J. Who married N. W. Bliles, is now a widow, living in Kansas; John E. Married Miss Mary Dunn, and lived in Adams County, Iowa; he was a member of the 29th Iowa Infantry, and served until the close of the war; William F. Married Miss Loisa Falkner, and is living in Wapello County; Martha is the wife of c. C. Ingersoll, and lives in Republic County, Kan.; Julia is deceased; Ellen is the wife of J. F. Gowdy, living in Cass County, Iowa; Polly Ann, Mrs. Albert D. Rickett, is living in Keokuk County, Iowa; Belle is the wife of Lewis N. Gowdy, of this county; Arsena is living at home with her parents. Politically Mr. Thompson is a Republican.

Because this and similar biographies have proven very beneficial in my genealogy journey, I will continue to utilize these county histories.

Linda Stufflebean compiled lists of county histories that are available online on her blog, Empty Branches of the Family Tree. Check out her list of County Histories.


My Source Struggle (part 1 and part 2) continues. A reader’s comment suggested that I try the Chrome extension, Record Seek. According to the reader, this extension helps create a source citation on the FamilySearch tree for web based sources.

Seeking to learn more about RecordSeek, I found a FamilySearch wiki page for the RecordSeek extension. Like most of the FamilySearch wikis, this page was very informative, including directions on how to download and use RecordSeek.

So I installed the extension and now have RecordSeek on my bookmarks bar.

I found a source that contains information regarding the marriage of Dolly Crawford to Joseph Ham on FamilySearch.

I scrolled thru this source looking for Joseph Ham and found the marriage information on page 83.

Since this source is an image and not a web page, I am unable to do step 2: “highlight information you’d like to include in the record notes.” Thus, I moved on to the next step which is to click the RecordSeek button on my bookmarks bar. This opened RecordSeek’s ‘Create a Source’ window.

Since this source is from FamilySearch, I clicked on FamilySearch and logged in when prompted. That opened an ‘Attach a Source’ window with many of the fields filled in. (Note that Family Search was entered as the source title.)

I then clicked on NEXT and that opened a window to ‘Search for an existing person.’

I then switched to the tab that had Dolly Crawford open so that I could copy the person ID. Once the ID was copied, the pop-up window for RecordSeek had disappeared behind the full screen browser. I was able to use Alt-Tab to locate that hidden window. I ended up typing in the ID since I wasn’t able to paste the ID in the box, Clicking NEXT opened an ‘Attach Source to Dolly Crawford’ window where I filled in why I was attaching this source.

When I clicked on Create & Attach, it added the source to Dolly Crawford [LLHZ-852] on FamilySearch.

Unfortunately, this process used ‘FamilySearch’ as the title of this source and not the actual title of the book it came from. The ‘Edit’ screen for this source displays what was filled in by RecordSeek.

Since this process is flawed, I decided to work with RootsMagic. I have a personally created template for FamilySearch county records. I modified that template for a digital book. Then, I added a new source for Dolly Crawford.

Then on FamilySearch, I edited the source created by RecordSeek so that it would have better information.

  • Added a standardized date
  • Replaced the ‘FamilySearch’ title with the actual title of the book (copy/pasted from RootsMagic
  • Copied the footnote from RootsMagic into the ‘Where the Record is Found (Citations)’ box
  • Copied the information I had transcribed into the ‘Detail Text’ source tab from RootsMagic into the ‘Describe the Record (Notes)’ box

Since I want the source information in TWO places, RootsMagic and FamilySearch, I likely won’t be using RecordSeek. Instead, I will use my templates in RootsMagic to create the source and transcribe the record. Then I will create a new source on FamilySearch and copy/paste the information into FamilySearch.

Sources Struggle

Do you struggle adding sources to the FamilySearch tree or is it just me? I’m not a member of their church and have only been using the FamilySearch website, including the tree, for about five years. Thus, I am still learning.

With the recently released Ancestor Discovery pages, I want to use those pages as one way to share my family history. Even though a casual viewer won’t be interested in the sources, other researchers will. So, I need to get past the struggle and figure out how I can get my sources onto FamilySearch.

Since I’m a RootsMagic user, I tried using the interface between RootsMagic and FamilySearch to upload these sources.

This is where my struggle begins. On this interface, I have a hard time figuring out whether one of my sources on the left is already on FamilySearch on the right. Once I manage to figure out a source that has yet to be added to FamilySearch, the window that opens up is the next challenge.

Since my sources could be attached to a variety of facts/events beyond the basics of birth, marriage and death, I don’t know what I’m expected to check. Then comes the ‘reason’ to attach, which I also struggle with. Once completed, the source now appears in the FamilySearch list on the RootsMagic interface.

In trying to figure out how I enter sources in RootsMatic impacts this interface, I noticed that the name of the source is how the source is listed in the RootsMagic list and how it is listed on FamilySearch once transferred. I also discovered that my ‘lumping’ tendancy hinders my ability to upload sources.

Instead of individual sources for each article in a newspaper, all of the articles from that newspaper are lumped together. Curious about how the way RootsMagic 8 uses citations, I wondered if RootsMagic 8 would lump the sources in the same way. When I looked at RootsMagic 8, the list of sources appeared to be the same.

Since one of my dad’s first cousins is active on the FamilySearch tree, I decided to see if I could learn anything from the sources she has added.

Studying sources she added as well as sources added by others, I noticed a pattern:

Name as listed in record followed by an abbreviated name of the record

The other thing I noticed was the date associated with each source. When I switched back to my grandfather’s sources page, I found that the date is not listed for some of the sources I transferred, while it is listed for other sources I transferred.

Thus, I don’t think the RootsMagic interface is the best way for me to transfer the sources in my file. So my other option is to use the ‘Add Sources’ page.

Using this screen to add a source allows me to add the transcription and add the media.

Using the add source screen would be easiest to use at the same time I’m creating the source in RootsMagic.

This is also how I will need to add all of my newspaper sources. Thus, I likely need to work with a report for the individual that includes the Endnotes to figure out which sources need added and reference back to the citation on RootsMagic so I can copy it to FamilySearch.

Using the ‘Add Sources’ screen will take longer to get my existing sources attached to my ancestors on the tree, but I understand that process. Thus, it will be less of a struggle.

Naming Sources

I’ve been asked to explain how I name my sources in RootsMagic. I’m sharing my method as an example. I’ve never actually written out my ‘naming’ practices.

However, I have heard the genealogist, Cousin Russ, talk about how he maintains a file of instructions that contains his naming practices. His blog post FTM2012 and AMT – File Naming and Captions discusses some of his naming practices.

Most of my file naming conventions go back to having been the technology coordinator in the local high school for quite a few years. When schools first introduced computers and their accompanying networks, students shared computers. Thus, a major challenge was helping students learn where their files were stored and how to organize them. Another challenge was helping everyone learn to give their file a name versus letting the computer name it.

These experiences along with my personal experience with file names have impacted how I name things in RootsMagic. Basically, my naming conventions take into account the following factors:

  • sorting — how does the computer’s alphabetical sorting impact the sorting based on the naming convention I’ve chosen
  • grouping — how can I use names to group likes things together in a list

RootsMagic 8 introduces a very powerful search function that will help compensate for not using a naming convention. For me, the power of this search feature will be in its ability to sort thru lots of items to quickly locate the one I want.

My willingness to follow a naming pattern has helped me to quickly scroll thru a list of items to find exactly what I’m looking for.

To start with, the source templates that I’ve created are at the top of the list of source templates. When I first converted my Master Genealogist data to RootsMagic, it created source templates whose names started with _TMG_. These source templates appear ABOVE the built in source templates.

Thus, I knew that placing the underscore at the start of the name would place the name towards the top of the list. When I converted to RootsMagic, I also started using Elizabeth Shown Mills’ book, Evidence Explained, as a guide for building my sources. Since I was creating my templates based on Evidence Explained, I elected to begin the names for these source templates with _EE_. The next part of the name refers to the type of record. This portion of the name is usually the same as the name for the template I copied from.

When it comes to source templates, I learned one thing the HARD way. When one drags a person from one RootsMagic file to another, the source templates used for that person are also ‘drug’ from the first file to the next. Thus, one can end up with lots of duplicate source templates and no ‘easy’ button to merge them. This happened to me and I had quite a few census and newspaper source templates in my list.

There is a set of SQL instructions that will merge these ‘duplicate’ source templates. I finally got up the courage to run these instructions and it quickly merged most of my duplicates. However, I was left with a few duplicates and could not figure out the difference between two source templates. Thus, I renamed one as ‘BAD’ so that I would not use it for future sources. At some point, I will revisit this to see if I can spot the difference and get them merged.

When it comes to my sources, I begin the name with the type of source followed by a dash. For many sources, I will follow that dash with the abbreviation for the state where the record is found. Then I follow the state’s abbreviation with information about the source that sets it apart from similar sources. If the record comes from an online site, I often end the name with the name of the site followed by the letters EE. Those letters, EE, at the end of the source name tell me at a glance that this source is based on Evidence Explained and not a source created years ago before I started following these standards.


  • Birth-AZ 1880-1935 Ancestry EE
  • Birth-IA Index 1800-1999 Ancestry EE
  • Book-MO History Davies Gentry Counties EE
  • Cem-IA Graveston Index Ancestry EE
  • Death MA 1841-1915 Ancestry EE
  • Death MA 1841-1915 FamilySearch EE
  • Deed-IN Warren 1827-1901 FamilySearch EE
  • Directory-CA Long Beach 1933 Ancestry EE
  • Draft-WWII Young Men 1940-1947 Ancestry EE
  • History-IA Northwest pioneers (note the lack of EE — this source was likely created in Master Genealogist)
  • Marriage-AZ 1865-1972 Ancestry EE
  • Military- WWII Navy Muster Rolls 1938-1949 Ancestry EE
  • News-KS Dodge City Daily GLobe D418 KSHS EE (D418 is the microfilm number at the Kansas State HIstorical Society)
  • News-KS Dodge City Globe (Dodge City, KS) EE (I added the location to my naming process within the last few years.)
  • News-KS Hays Daily News Genealogy Bank EE
  • News-Dayton Herald (Dayton, OH) EE
  • Probate-KS Ford County EE
  • Probate-KS Wills and Probate Records 1803-1987 Ancestry EE
  • Tax-KY Fleming 1798-1875 FamilySearch EE
  • Vital-VT Records 1720-1908 EE
  • Will-KY Fleming County Book H FamilySearch EE

When it comes to census records, I lump by county. Thus, my naming convention for census records follows the dash with the year of the census. The year is followed by the state abbreviation and then the county name. The source of the census record and EE complete more recent citations. Earlier citations were likely created when viewing microfilm of the census. Thus, they don’t have the source or EE. Examples would include:

  • Census-1860 IA Buchanan County Ancestry EE
  • Census-1857 KS Atchison
  • Census-1860 IL Douglas Bk
  • Census-1860 IL Knox County Ancestry EE
  • Census-1885 IA Wapello County Ancestry EE
  • Census=KS Counties 1953-1979 Ancestry EE

Prior to my transition to RootsMagic, I didn’t have images attached to events. After the transition, I started downloading images and attaching those images to sources. When I started naming these images, I followed a pattern based on the following:


The first set of YYYY referred to the year of birth. The second set of YYYY referred to the year of the event. My thinking was that this would put all images for a person together and that these images would then sort in chronological order.

I soon discovered that this naming pattern did not work for me. Instead I started using folders and subfolders to help organize my images. I have a folder for each of my surname lines. As I discover a new line, I add a new folder. This folder uses the surname for its name.

Within these surname folders, I have folders for the various people with that surname. Each folder name starts with the person’s birth year followed by their surname and then their given name. By starting the folder name with the birth year, the folders will sort in chronological order.

My Crawford folder is an example of how this works — especially where I’m researching several different Crawford lines

  • 1748-Crawford-William
  • 1750-Crawford-Mary
  • 1757-Crawford-James-Rebecca-Anderson
  • 1772-Crawford-James-Sally-Duggins
  • 1808-Crawford-Nelson-G
  • 1834-Crawford-James-H
  • 1838-Crawford-Washington-Marion
  • 1894-Crawford-Leon-Russell

My current practice is to base the file name on the following pattern

YYYY-Type of Record-State Abbreviation-County-Surname-GivenName

  • 1800-Tax-KY-Pulaski-Crawford-Alexander
  • 1818-Tax-OH-Preble-Crawford-James
  • 1822-Deed-OH-Preble-Bk5-p98-Sellers-to-Crawford

Naming these files is where I sometimes get lax in following the pattern. The one portion of the pattern that I have adhered to since adopting this system is to begin the file name with the year of the event. This places the files in the folder in chronological order when sorted by file name.

When adding the image to a source or fact in RootsMagic, I’ve adopted a similar naming pattern for the caption — it starts with the year of the event followed by the type of document.

As I’ve worked thru writing this blog, I’ve discovered quite a few places where I should go back and rename sources, folders and even files.

From my viewpoint, the issue isn’t whether you have adopted a naming pattern for source templates, sources, images or captions. Instead, the issue is whether you can locate the desired template, source, or image when needed. No matter what you decide, it has to fit your way of doing things.

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

FamilySearch Tree and Sources

What are your feelings regarding the FamilySearch tree? Do you dislike it because anyone can change anything? Or, do you like it because of the ability to collaborate?

Even though I get frustrated with unexplained changes that don’t fit my conclusions, I like the FamilySearch tree. I like it because it is the one of the places where collaboration happens. When someone else makes a change to one of my ancestors that doesn’t agree with my research, I see the opportunity to collaborate. When this happens, I will often add a discussion item either questioning the change or explaining my conclusion. I also use the messaging tool to contact the contributor and inquire about their sources and reasoning.

My first encounter with this was when someone changed the birthplace for James Crawford [M9X2-NWS] and added parents. I was ecstatic! Someone had found the parents of James Crawford. They even attached a source! However, when I started studying that source in relation to everything else we knew about James Crawford, I realized that the source was for a different James Crawford and not for my ancestor. I let my discussion post sit there for a while before removing the parents, the source and restoring James’ birth date and place.

Yesterday, I was reviewing changes to individuals I monitor on the FamilySearch tree and found where a sibling of my 2nd great grandmother, Emeline Minnick [K8K7-NHW], was removed from the family. It took me a while to figure out the changes, but Emeline’s brother was merged with another male of the same name and ended up in a different family.

As I was reviewing my data to see if I had Wilson J. Minnick [LV86-BFV] placed in the wrong family, I realized that I had more information about the family than was visible to others. I have sources in my RootsMagic data that aren’t on the FamilySearch tree. I’ve found that to be true of many people in my database: I have more sources than are on the FamilySearch tree.

 RootsMagic has the capability to transfer my sources to FamilySearch. So why aren’t those sources attached? For me, I have a

  • hesitancy to add source because I don’t know how to tag it (Name, Gender, Birth, Christening, Death, Burial). Many of my sources place a person in a particular place at a particular time and have nothing to do with their birth or death. 
  • hesitancy to add source because I don’t know what is expected in the ‘reason to attach source’ box
  • reluctance to spend the time. I would rather be researching than adding sources to the FamilySearch tree.

Because of my reluctance to upload my sources to the FamilySearch tree, I know have to figure out how to separate two families that have been merged.

Thus, I’m plan to not worry as much about whether my reason for attaching a source is good enough and to spend more time uploading sources.