Why Do-Over?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WikiTree FamilySearch Link

Have you ever observed a feature on someone else’s tree or portion of a shared tree that you think would enhance your work? While checking WikiTree to see if it had a surname for the spouse of Nathaniel Sellers (abt 1720-abt 1789) I noticed a link to his profile on FamilySearch.

Such a link would allow me to click to compare what other researchers have compiled for an individual as well as to see what sources or memories have been added. Thus, I want to learn how to add this link!

And like a ‘dummy’, I started looking around for an ‘edit’ button to the RESEARCH area and then searched Help when I could not find the ability to edit. If I would have just clicked on the [more info] link, I would have found the answer much quicker since the link takes me to the help page.

While the help page explains the process, it is the App that is used to create the link. Opening the app in a new tab takes me to a page to login to both WikiTree and FamilySearch.

Once logged in, my WikiTree Watch List loads showing possible matches to the FamilySearch tree.

While I could flip back and forth between the FamilySearch tree and the app to verify the connection, I am going to use my RootsMagic file to compare the FS IDs. I can do this since I’ve previously linked a person in my RM file to a profile on the FS tree. However, I need to change my settings in RM to display the FS ID.

I normally have the RM settings set to display the RIN.

For this task, I can change the settings for the ‘Number to display’ to the FamilySearch ID (FSID).

When I switch to the pedigree view, I can see the FamilySearch ID for each person I have previously linked to the FS tree.

So, for the first person on my Watch List, Bernice (Crawford) Allen, I can compare my RootsMagic person to the proposed match.

Since the vital information and the FS ID match, I can click on the ‘Create Match’ button.

Clicking on the ‘Link in FamilySearch’ link opens a tab to add a source to the FamilySearch tree with a link back to the WikiTree profile.

After saving, clicking on the name opens a column to the right displaying the details for Bernice on the FS Tree. From here, I opened her profile and switched to sources. I normally view sources sorted chronologically which placed the WikiTree link at the bottom of the other sources for Bernice. To create images for this blog post, I switched the order to CUSTOM which allowed the source to come to the top. of the list.

When I clicked on the source, it expanded to show the web link and the information I entered in the app to create the source.

Going back to the app, the next step is to “Update Wikitree” This opened a tab with several sections to the screen. The top section compares the vital information between the WikiTree profile and the FamilySearch profile (External Data). The third column is the data that will ‘survive’ when the match update is completed. This would allow me to compare conflicting information and select which piece of information should be used in the WikiTree profile. Since the two profiles for Bernice Crawford are in agreement, I am leaving the blue check marks next to the WikiTree data.

The next section displays the changes to the ‘biography’ section of the WikiTree profile in a yellow box. Below that is a white box where I can edit those proposed changes.

In this example, the app is adding the information from FS at the end of what I already have entered. The facts are being entered as a bulleted list with the link to the FS tree following as a Source. While one might be able to accept these proposed edits on a biography, I won’t be able to just accept those changes for most of the profiles that I have updated.

When I first looked at the proposed changes, I have to admit to a little confusion. However, I realized that the statement numbered 15 is actually one of the sources I had added to her biography. The next line that starts with an asterisk is where the app starts proposing changes. Since these facts are for census records and burial information, I simply need to check the biography to see whether I have already included that information.

I can also check the formatting I used for the source to verify that I used a numbered list.

Since I already have the proposed facts included in the biography, I am going to remove those changes.

Since the ==Sources== line will place a second instance of the word in the biography, I could also remove it along with the extra spacing. That would place the *”FamilyTree” source at the bottom of my list. Since I’m not using the FS tree to validate any of the information in the biography, I’m going to change ‘==Sources==’ to ‘====FamilySearch Tree====’. [Additional = signs affect the size of font and match what was used for ‘Sources’ above.

After saving the changes, the link to the FS profile is added to the Research section of Bernice’s profile.

And the FamilySearch Tree ‘source’ appears at the bottom of my list of sources.

This process will be slow! However, I think it will be very useful. Thus, I will start with my ancestors and slowly work thru the profiles of their descendants that I manage.

WikiTree Suggestions

Do you try to share your genealogy research across multiple platforms? Around the time I started working on my research full time, (i.e. after retirement), I heard several genealogists discuss ‘cousin bait’. The point of ‘cousin bait’ is to share one’s research on a variety of platforms in hopes of connecting with cousins.

While I have had a tree on Ancestry for quite some time along with a web site, I didn’t have my data on many other genealogy sites. With DNA, however, I found myself transferring my DNA to other sites. Since DNA isn’t very helpful without an associated tree, I also used gedcom to transfer my research to the DNA sites.

Thus, when I learned of WikTtree, I expected to be able to upload a gedcom file. While my initial attempt was not successful, I must have been able to upload a smaller file and make it thru the comparison process. However, at this point I wish that I had created my ancestors one by one versus using a gedcom file. While this process created quite a few profiles, I’ve encountered the following issues:

  • I never learned how to edit or create a biography or sources.
  • Because my computer program was used to create the gedcom, there were links in the sources to documents on my hard drive. While those links work on my computer, they do not work on WikiTree. Thus, the profiles have errors.
  • The profiles are ugly.
  • The sources are messy.

Since I was able to create and link a number of profiles using a gedcom, I thought I had accomplished the goal of cousin bait. And those messy profiles have existed since spring of 2016. As I’ve been learning more about how WikiTree works, I discovered my page of suggestions.

When I first looked at my pages of suggestions, I had no idea what a ‘missing span anchor’ was and was somewhat overwhelmed when it said “Difficulty: Advanced”. Since I consider myself a NOVICE when it comes to working in WikiTree, I had no idea what the error was or how to fix it. I did find a couple of discussions on the ‘WikiTree G2G‘ site that helped me understand the cause of the error.

Both of these discussions indicated that a GEDCOM upload was the cause of the error. They also discussed solutions. However, this NOVICE user hasn’t figured out how the code for spans works in a profile. Thus, ‘fixing’ these errors is definitely at the advanced level for difficulty.

Since I don’t like the idea of ‘errors’ being associated with my work, I have a lot of cleaning up to do. While simply removing the offending span reference might be the easiest way to fix these errors, that does not make the biography more readable. Nor does it help with the sources. The easiest way I’ve found to fix all of these issues is to utilize the narrative reports from RootsMagic to create the biography and list of sources.

Using the narrative reports from RootsMagic not only helps me clean up the profiles on WikiTree but it also is causing me to clean up errors in RootsMagic. While I should be embedding the sources as I fix these profiles, I am just concentrating on getting the profiles corrected for now.

Based on my experiences using WikiTree, my primary suggestion is to create ancestral profiles one at a time versus using a gedcom file.

RootsMagic to WikiTree Part 2

Do you use WikiTree? Do you have an ‘easy button’ to help you quickly add information to a profile for an ancestor? As I’m learning more about WikiTree, I want such a button.

I’ve figured out that I can use RootsMagic’s narrative report as my ‘easy button’. However, the Microsoft Word document needs some TLC to make it easier to copy/paste the biography and sources into a WikiTree profile.

First the superscripts for the endnotes need converted to brackets. Fortunately, I found directions on how to do this using the REPLACE feature on MS Word on StackExchange.

While the directions are relatively easy to follow, they use features that I’ve never used before. Clicking MORE on the FIND and REPLACE window reveals some additional features. Using the FORMAT button on the replace window, it is possible to ‘find’ based on the formatting.

Pulling down the FORMAT button reveals a list of choices, including FONT.

Clicking on FONT opens a window that allows one to select the type of formatting to ‘FIND’. For this purpose, I want to ‘find’ the superscripts. Thus, I put a check mark by SUPERSCRIPT.

When OK is clicked, the FIND and REPLACE window now shows ‘Superscript’ as the format the computer will find.

Telling the computer what to replace the superscript with is a multi-step process. The first step is to input the text to use for the replacement. For my purposes, I want to replace the superscripted numbers with those same numbers in brackets. This is accomplished by using [^&]. Since I want a space after the period and prior to the bracketed numbers, I’m including that space. Thus, I type the [^&] in the ‘replace with’ blank on the Find and Replace window.

The next step is to make sure the numbers are not superscripted or subscripted. Thus, the FORMAT FONT window is used to make sure the squares in front of ‘superscript’ and ‘subscript’ are blank. This is accomplished by double clicking on the box by Superscript.

Thus, the REPLACE window now indicates that the replacement text is NOT Superscript/Subscript.

The next step is to set the STYLE to normal. To do this, the FORMAT window is used, but instead of picking FONT, STYLE is selected from the menu.

This opens a small window to select the STYLE for the text.

Scrolling down the ‘REPLACE WITH STYLE’ list, I select NORMAL.

Clicking OK adds the Style: Normal under the Replace with box.

Now, I’m ready to watch the Find and Replace magic at work. Below is an image of a report with the ‘Find and Replace’ window ready to do its work.

Below is the report after clicking on REPLACE ALL.

Before copying and pasting the report into WikiTree, there is one other change that I want to make to the file. While the report appears to have some blank space between each endnote, that spacing disappears when copied/pasted into WikiTree. Since I like that ‘white space’, I want to modify the file so that there is ‘white space’ when copied/pasted. The easiest way I know of doing this is to highlight the endnotes and then replace the paragraph mark with two paragraph marks.

Thus, I use the SPECIAL button on the Find and Replace window.

Clicking on SPECIAL reveals a menu that includes the Paragraph Mark along with other special characters.

After adding one paragraph mark to the ‘FIND WHAT’ box and two paragraph marks to the ‘REPLACE WITH’ box, the Find and Replace window looks as follows:

Clicking on REPLACE ALL changes the spacing for the highlighted text. When the FIND AND REPLACE function is finished with the highlighted text, it will ask whether to do the rest of the file. Since the biography portion of the file copies into WikiTree without needing extra space, I answer that question NO.

These simple find/replace functions create a file that can be copied and pasted into the Biography portion of a WikiTree profile.

One Name Studies

Have you heard of the One Name Studies Project on WikiTree? I have to admit that I wasn’t aware of this aspect of WikiTree until I saw one of their tweets about the one name studies.

While I have little experience with WikiTree, the concept of collaborating to research a surname is very appealing to me — especially with the Crawford surname.

And, YES, there is a CRAWFORD project with 24 subcategories, 43 pages and 83 profiles.

Seeing subcategories for the various yDNA haplogroups immediately caught my attention. Since both of my brothers have donated their DNA for a Big Y test, I know our haplogroup along with the haplogroup for two of the other James Crawford lines in my files. Below is an image of the R1b-01A Ardmillan section of the Crawford yDNA project.

I was able to add the Crawford DNA Y-STR Group R1b category to my ancestor James Crawford’s profile.

By having the category on the profile, it added the profile to the list of ‘Person Profiles’ for the R1b group. This list of profiles also includes the James Crawford that married Rebecca Anderson (1758-1836) but does not include the James Crawford that married Martha Knight (1770-1833).

Most of the other ancestors in the R1b-01A group in the Crawford yDNA project are also missing from this list of profiles. Since the yDNA project is publicly available, I tried to add the haplogroup, especially for my ancestor. However, the only person who can add that data is the person who donated the DNA. Thus, it is difficult to integrate all of this yDNA data from the CRAWFORD project into the WikiTree one name study.

While I haven’t checked for all of my surnames, browsing the list I saw a page for BUCKLES but not one for Broyles (or Broils or Briles). I also searched to find one for CURRY.

These One Name Studies could help break down brick walls. Go to the WikiTree Category: One Name Studies to see if any of your surnames are on the list!

RootsMagic to WikiTree

Do you have any of your tree on WikiTree? Although I had heard “Dear Myrtle,” “Cousin Russ” and others talk about “cousin bait” and the use of WikiTree, I don’t have a lot of my data on WikiTree.

That all may change thanks to the recent meeting of Topeka Genealogical Society‘s Computer Special Interest Group (via zoom) last Thursday. During the meeting, Rich shared a lot of information about WikiTree including a GenealogyTV video.

After participating in the group, I decided to give WikiTree another try.

Since I have been updating my 3rd great-grandparents, I decided to see whether I could use a RootsMagic narrative report to create a profile for one of those great grandparents. I started with Henry Burke, whom I had to add. Since I had his daughter, Angelina Burke in my tree, I clicked on her father to add him. Then I

  • entered his birth and death dates
  • verified he wasn’t already in the tree
  • added his place of death
  • added the Find a Grave record as the source

This created a ‘basic profile.’ Then I clicked to EDIT the profile. I copied the RootsMagic narrative report that I had created for Henry Burke into the biography section. This replaced the “generic” birth/death information with the narrative for his life. This process changes the superscript endnotes numbers to regular numbers at the end of each fact sentence.

I had previously tried this with Nelson G. Crawford‘s profile and decided to put parenthesis around the numbers so that readers might realize they were embedded endnote numbers.

When working with Henry Burke’s profile, I explored the help resources and discovered that I could “embed” the sources by using the <ref> tag.

Further down on the help page was information on how to reuse a citation.

Since I’ve used the Find a Grave citation for multiple facts, I wanted to use this technique for that source. So, I assigned the name “find grave”

Then I just referred to that name when I wanted to reuse the citation.

When finished embedding the sources, I saved the profile. This published my narrative report with superscript endnote numbers.

At the bottom of the biography is the numbered list of sources with links back to the biography.

To summarize, I

  • Used RootsMagic to generate a narrative report for my ancestor and open that report in Word.
  • Copied the biographical portion of the narrative report into the WikiTree profile for my ancestor
  • Used the <ref> </ref> tags to create an embedded citation
  • Copied the source information from the word copy of the narrative report (or from RootsMagic) and pasted it after the <ref> tag and before the </ref> tag
  • Used the name= function to assign a name to a citation so that I could reuse it
  • Saved the updated profile when finished embedding the sources (See Henry Burke)

Now that I’ve not only figured out how I can use the narrative report to create the WikiTree biography but also how it fairly quickly and easily embed the citations, I will likely build out more of my tree.