DNA – Re-Trying NodeXL Graphing

Last summer, Shelley Crawford posted directions on how to use NodeXL and Microsoft Excel to create a cluster diagram for DNA matches in her Twigs of Yore blog. [Visualizing DNA Matches – Index]. When I tried this with my data, I had trouble getting past a ‘blob’. According to a Facebook post dated July 16, 2017, I was able to transform my black blob into some smaller clusters.

Not remembering exactly how this process worked, I decided to try again. I used the DNAGedcom client to download my match data from Ancestry. For this trial, I downloaded ALL of my matches. Following the directions, I loaded my matches and in common with files into the NodeXL Template. I also imported my ‘Additional Input’ file. In the ‘Additional Input’ file, I told the program to skip DNA data for my brothers and my mother. When I graphed this data, I got a blob.

The next step was to group. I tried grouping by ‘connected component’ and still had a black glob. Thus, I tried grouping by cluster instead. I picked the Clauset-Newman-Moore cluster algorithm. I also set the layout option to “lay out each of the graph’s groups in its own box.”

Now, I have several colored blobs of varying sizes. The grey background represents all of the lines connecting one ‘blob’ to another.

The above graph contains data for over 50,000 matches. It also does not skip my dad’s first cousin.

My next step was to change the visibility for my dad’s first cousin to ‘skip’. Unfortunately, all of the globs are still globs. So, I went back to DNAGedcom to re-download data. This time, I checked ‘Skip Distant Cousin Matches’.

I started the entire process over with these new files. This time I had almost 1800 matches. I still had a ‘blob’ but much less dense.

The next step was to group the results. Knowing that grouping by connected compenent didn’t work before, I again grouped by the cluster. After changing the layout options to ‘layout each of the graph’s groups in its own box’, I now had a graph with the dots arranged by colors.

Curious as to whether the various colors could be associated with a specific surname, I used the notes field on the spreadsheet to locate specific dots. When I clicked on a line in the spreadsheet, the graph would show that line as the center of lines connecting it to other dots (the shared matches).

The first dot I tried was a match with my mother and a likely MENTZER relative.

That dot started from the red area and branched out. Thinking that the orange area below the red area corresponded to my CRAWFORD line, I clicked on the match directly above that previous match — only to discover that it also originates from the red area.

Both a MENTZER match (my mom’s line) and a CRAWFORD match (my dad’s line) have dots in the red area and not in separate areas. Thus, my theory about the colored areas matching surnames doesn’t stand up to this simple test. I also can’t use geography to explain this. My Mentzer line was in Massachusetts, Illinois and southeast Kansas. My Crawford line was in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and southwestern Kansas.

Thus, I need to learn more about how to interpret this data!


W – War Bonds GenealogyPhotoADay


This unlabeled picture was among the photos my grandmother gave me. My grandfather is the person standing on the far left (in overalls).

The flag is the “Minutemen Flag”. It was awarded to groups that met or exceeded U.S. Bond sales during World War II. (Savings Bond Flags)

At first the clothing puzzled me. Why would people in suits be pictured with people in overalls. Since my grandfather worked for the Santa Fe Railroad in Dodge City, I believe this picture may be the Santa Fe employees who had funds taken out of their pay checks to purchase war bonds.

So far, I haven’t identified the location of the picture. The windows in the background are similar to those in the railroad depot. However, I haven’t found a picture of the depot with trees anywhere near it.

Who’s Coming to Dinner?

This weeks #52Ancestors prompt is “Who would I most like to invite to dinner?”

WINLEON2My immediate thought was my grandmother, Winnie Letha Currey Crawford. I really miss our conversations and the family stories she would tell. Each summer from the late 1970s until the 1990s, I would spend a few days in Dodge City with her.

It was during one of these trips that grandma got me started researching the family history. Since her mother died when she was 10, she didn’t know much about her mother’s family. Grandma asked me to help her learn about her grandmother, Julia Harding. She especially wanted to know where Julia was buried.

Grandma and I even spent a couple of days in the Kansas City area visiting cemeteries and one of her distant cousins to see what we could find. Unfortunately, my grandmother died before learning where her grandmother, Julia,¬† was buried. Laura, one of grandma’s great-nieces has found evidence that Julia Harding Hutchinson was buried in Elwood, Kansas. Unfortunately, Elwood has been affected by river flooding over the years. It is possible that this river flooding is preventing us from finding the gravesite.

I’d love the opportunity to share what I’ve found over the years and to learn more from her.




Narrative Report Success

Thanks to the help of users on the RootsMagic Discussion Forum, I have figured out some of my issues with my narrative report and learned a formatting trick.

One of my issues was with the first letter of a few sentences not being capitalized. When I looked at the sentence structure for these facts, I discovered that the ‘person’ field wasn’t capitalized in the template:

[person] lived< [PlaceDetails:Plain]>< [Place]>< [Date]>.

When I capitalized the ‘Person’ field, then the sentence began with a capital letter in the narrative report.

According to the forum discussion, the capitalization of the ‘person’ field should not affect the sentences. Thus, I didn’t go thru my various fact types and change all of the [person] fields to [Person]. I’m guessing that I did something to the sentence structure for these few sentences that kept them from formatting correctly. Since my ‘work-around’ (capitalizing the ‘person’ field in the template) is working, I’m not going to worry about the ‘why’ for now.

Another of my issues was spacing between sentences. In most cases, the report was putting one space between the superscripted footnote number and the start of the next sentence. However, in some cases, it was putting two spaces. I verified this inconsistency by opening the report in Word and using the OPTION to DISPLAY the formatting marks (spaces, paragraph returns, etc.). Once I verified the existence of the extra space, I was able to look at the sentence structure for that particular fact. I discovered that in the process of customizing the sentence structure, I had inadvertantly put in a blank space at the beginning of the sentence.

The formatting trick that I learned involved the creation of paragraphs. I played around with adding carriage returns to the beginning of a sentence where I wanted a new paragraph. This method worked but when there are a lot of facts, it would be difficult to figure out where these returns were without studying a narrative report.

Thus, I decided to try using the Paragraph fact type. I created a new fact type called Paragraph. For now, I have only selected to use this fact in Gedcom and Narrative Reports.

Once I had the fact type created, I just had to create Paragraph facts with sort dates to place the paragraph return where desired in the list of facts.

For me, the addition of blank space in my list of facts is a visual reminder of where the paragraphs are breaking. After inserting the paragraph facts, I was able to print a narrative report, save it as an RTF file, open in Word, copy and paste into my Family Tales Blog.

Eugene David Crawford

Narrative Report Questions

As a former user of The Master Genealogist, I expect my current genealogy software to take the sentences created by each event and build a narration for an individual’s life. Unfortunately, I still have a lot to learn about the way RootsMagic builds the narrative report.

Thanks to information posted in the RootsMagic Community Forum, I did figure out how to create paragraphs (i.e. some white space). I elected to customize the sentence where I wanted a new paragraph by adding two carriage returns at the beginning of the sentence. Those two carriage returns create a blank line before the sentence.

Now, I need to figure out how to resolve several other issues:

  • The first letter is not capitalized for some sentences (see second paragraph above)
  • In many cases, there doesn’t appear to be a space between the superscript at the end of one sentence and the first letter of the next sentence.

Hopefully, the forum will help me figure out how to resolve these issues.

Measuring 2018 Goals

During the last few years of my career in teaching, I was required to write SMART Goals. Even though I did not excel at writing those goals, I think about the acronym (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) when considering genealogy goals. Although I haven’t written my 2018 genealogy goals in true SMART goal fashion, I have broken a broad goal of ‘researching my family history’ into smaller more specific tasks. With these smaller goals, I will be able to check them off within the next year (hopefully).

Although I’m always working on my broad ‘research my family history goal’, I hope to be better at being able to ‘measure’ my progress in 2018. Thus, I need to establish my ‘baseline’ or beginning stats for 2018.


  • 11,269 People
  • 3,744 Families
  • 29,407 Events
  • 3,215 Sources
  • 39,752 Citations


  • 11,257 People
  • 2,095 Photos
  • 99 Stories
  • 1,753 Records
  • 1,105 People with Hints
  • 8,151 Total Hints
  • 6,541 Record Hints
  • 662 Photo Hints
  • 79 Story Hints

Exhibits Folder

  • 62.8 GB
  • 21,757 Files
  • 844 Folders

Ancestry Tree Media Folder

  • 234 Files

DNA – Ancestry

  • 98 Shared Matches (current unresolved issue with mom’s side of tree and matches)
  • 404 Starred Matches
  • 1000+ 4th cousins or closer
  • 906 Pages of matches
  • 17 Circles (but only 16 listed when viewing all)
    • James Barr Ralston
    • Nancy Jane McCormick
    • Richard Foster
    • Rachel Browning
    • David Franklin Ralston
    • Jason Hammond
    • Rachel Hale
    • Horatio Hammond
    • William G. Harding
    • Albert Hutchinson
    • Richmond Fisk Hammond
    • Julia Harding
    • William Harding
    • Dr. Edward Ostrander
    • Zebulon Foster
    • Caroline Ostrander

Blog Entries

2017 – What Did I Accomplish?

While thinking about my goals for 2018, I started thinking about what I’ve accomplished during 2017. Since I didn’t record statistics from my tree, I can’t ‘brag’ about the number of ancestors added. However, I have learned a lot during 2017.

In January, I learned all about Bullet Journaling thanks to a Wacky Wednesday hangout sponsored by DearMyrtle. Even though I had tried various planners during my career, I failed to consistently use a planner. I wasn’t even good at checking Google calendar, let alone getting everything into an online calendar. However, I did create and use a bullet journal for 2017 and have started one for 2018!

During the spring of 2017, I applied to become a beta tester for RootsMagic’s tree share feature. Around the middle of May, I was accepted as a beta tester and spent the next month working with uploading segments of my tree to Ancestry and playing with the various features to help RootsMagic find and fix errors. When the software update was released, I uploaded my tree from RootsMagic to Ancestry. During the summer, most of my ‘genealogy work’ involved working thru the TreeShare issues and figuring out my workflow. Unfortunately, this involved uploading my RM data several times (and creating multiple Ancestry trees). By late August, I had a TreeShare working between my RootsMagic data and Ancestry. Unfortunately, it took me another couple of months to discover that my tree, Heartland Genealogy, wasn’t being indexed and then to figure out why Ancestry wasn’t indexing my tree.

In late May, I also participated in a Visual Phasing course by Blaine Bettinger. Although I’m no expert at visual phasing, it is a tool that will hopefully help me incorporate DNA results as a genealogy source.

Another tool that I’ve added to my ‘genealogy toolbox’ during 2017 was the app, iScanner (Android version). For the past couple of years, I’ve played around with several scanning apps but am now exclusively using iScanner. This app allows me to draw the ‘box’ around the photo or page. Since I can ‘add’ images to a scan, I can create a ‘set’ of images for a source. The app allows me to export those images as individual jpegs or as a single pdf file. By scanning a title page as the first image, I can easily identify the content and create a source citation for the scans. The iScanner app has proven very useful while researching at libraries and archives. I did have to purchase the full app to take advantage of all of these features — but it was worth it.

In 2016, I learned how to link a person in RootsMagic to the FamilySearch Family Tree. I’ve slowly been learning to use all of the resources available on FamilySearch and am very thankful for their efforts to digitize the microfilm. As I research from home, I keep a ‘to-do’ list for resources only available at Family History Libraries or affiliate libraries. I am thankful that the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library and the Midwest Genealogy Center are nearby affiliate libraries.

During 2017, I also started attending several study groups sponsored by various regional genealogical societies:

Besides traveling to attend the study groups, I also am thankful for a variety of ways I can connect with other researchers from home.

As I sit in my nice warm office while it is still below zero outside, I’m very thankful for all of my genealogy ‘friends’ who have helped me develop new skills on this journey!