Apologies

First, sorry for my long absence. I never meant to just disappear for the 863874th time. That’s not why I’m writing now though, I’m writing to apologize if anyone who is subscribed to this blog is sent 1,293 blog posts in their feed reader or email. I don’t know how that whole subscribe thing works. Which I’m going to fix by subscribing myself, which I should have done in the first place.

To explain, I have been cleaning out my old domain names on my webhost. I’ve done a lot of behind the scenes changes over the years and zero cleaning out. Since I’ve been doing this website thing for over 15 years, that means I’ve built up some clutter. This afternoon when I hit delete on an old test blog, I actually hit delete on this blog. Luckily I had a backup of my posts that I had done just last night. Go me for the forward thinking? Anyway, I was able to import my posts right back into this spot, but I’m unsure if it sent notice to anyone. Also, all my plugins are gone, so who knows if anyone is even still subscribed? Oy vey, what did I do?

To make up for my blunder, here is a picture of some parrots sitting on Great-Grandpa William L. Moore. I mean it cheered me right up!

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Not a Genealogy Cage Match: Find My Past First Impressions

Being Realistic

In order to give Find My Past an honest look, I will be using mostly English ancestors to test it out. I’m going to give the American records a shot, but then I will move on to what I know they excel at… British Records!

Exhibit A: Grandma Gene (Emogene Taylor-Mays-Utter)

FindMyPast records

Well… I guess I’m just going to eat crow in the very first example. I went into this entry thinking I was going to jump straight to the British records. 

Instead, the hints feature in both my software and their online family tree found the birth and death index entries for my Grandma.  Through a basic search on the website I was also able to find the 1930 and 1940 Census images for her family. 

Here is my favorite!

Her marriage records! Images! Okay, so I had found these through browsing digital folders on FamilySearch. They weren’t indexed at the time. Obviously Find My Past must have an arrangement with FamilySearch to provide indexes to these collections. I’m excited to see which records I haven’t found that are living in Find My Past’s searches. This is a huge deal since a majority of my Mom’s side of the family is from Ohio and Kentucky. Meaning this could save me tons of time in searching manually through a lot of records.

Exhibit B: My Biggest Pet Peeve

Find My Past Family Tree

I’m not going to be stuck on this for too long but this was really annoying to me. With such large families, having to scroll and scroll and scroll to navigate through the tree was bad. Luckily for me, they do have a pedigree view and a family group view. 

Of the two, the family group view would be the most useful to me. Pedigree is nice to jump back generations, but for those of us who research collateral lines, something to navigate easily through those is vital.

Family Group View

This view was so much better for me! Bigger families do require the dreaded scrolling. I know it’s tough, but I think all the family tree companies could really do with trying to make large families easier to navigate. The best one I’ve seen yet is from Legacy Family Tree software. 

Exhibit C: British Records (William Malthouse)

William Malthouse FMP Hints

Find My Past has all the hallmarks of research, the UK Census (1841-1911), England & Wales Birth Index (1837-2006), England & Wales Death Index (1837-2007), and England & Wales Marriage Index (1837-2005).  One of my favorite things about Find My Past is that they have a lot of church records for England. There are certain counties that are exclusive to Ancestry and certain ones that are exclusive to Find My Past. It helps to know which ones you need and where to find them.

The Search Function

FMP Search

The Search function at Find My Past is definitely one of the better ones. I don’t find myself needing it often, but the include name variants options is very good!

A lot of the records I end up finding is because of using parents names as my main search parameter. Another feature I love is being able to restrict to certain databases. Most genealogy websites do have this feature, but its an important one to have so it’s helpful to mention that it is there.

This is the end for now

I’m not going to drag this out too much more. In conclusion I was surprised that I was able to find so many records for my American ancestors in Kentucky and Ohio. It’s one of those things that’s usually got me running back to Ancestry all the time. This is quite a big deal for me! 

I’ve let this entry wait too long so I’m just going to go ahead and publish it now so I can move forward!

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Not a Genealogy Cage Match: MyHeritage First Impressions

I just can’t let the cage match idea go! Once something is in my brain, it’s there fermenting for awhile. So I apologize for the terminology. This is definitely not a cage match. This is just me, giving things a chance for once. 

To get a good first impression, I didn’t want to base it solely on working my way up the tree. That means I am using my old file of reasonably documented people to do these tests. I feel like to truly get to know a website, you have to use it a lot and with a variety of different challenges. Otherwise you’ll never really know until way down the line when you actually start finding those things.

First Impression: MyHeritage

To be fair I will say when I first started using MyHeritage a few weeks back, I hated the family tree section. The Family View was really hard to navigate. Note: This was before Pedigree View was added. My screenshots were taken this week and not when I first tried using MyHeritage.

My Heritage Family View

As you can see from my screenshot, the wideness of the tree made it really hard to navigate. Especially if I was working on someone not in my direct tree. Since a lot of my families have 5 or more children, I go on genealogy tangents often and this view was just too hard to use. This was a big disadvantage over Ancestry’s easy to navigate Family Tree.

Pedigree View

MyHeritage Pedigree View

Then MyHeritage added a read only Pedigree view. I was immediately upset that I wasn’t in the first wave of the roll-out. Haha! Then I got it. I won’t lie. After about a week of trying to get used to pedigree view, I went back to trying to use the Family View. It was easier to navigate in Pedigree, but since I was still so new to the site, I just couldn’t figure out what I was doing. I kept trying though, because pedigree view is essential for me and my brain.

Pedigree view is now fully live with edit mode. No more having to go through a thousand clicks (Exaggeration obviously) just to feel like I was getting things done. To be honest though, I don’t think I even use the edit mode now that I am working on merging records hints and smart matches. I imagine I will use this feature much more when I start adding new people to the site. Right now I have a bare minimum just for DNA matches.

The Search is AMAZING

Sorry, not sorry for the use of caps. I can’t help it. I am finding things in records so much easier right now. It makes me so annoyed that I can’t really use them yet because of my Genealogy Do-Over. I am still noting them in my old file but I am trying not to get too involved and it’s killing me!

Exhibit 1: William Redford

I have been searching for William Redford after 1910 for ages. I know he must have passed away. However, without a New Jersey death index available online, I was stuck waiting to save up for a trip to the archives and then searching all years after 1910. 

I have searched all other kinds of records looking for a hint. The best record I have found is the city directories in absence of a death index. William Redford, not being a direct ancestor, might have been relegated to the bottom of a list somewhere without this one search at MyHeritage.

Exhibit 1: Newspaper

A newspaper article! I don’t even remember the last time I found something in a newspaper search on Ancestry! I assumed they have moved most of that business to Newspapers [dot] com which I don’t have a subscription to right now. 

This could just be a lucky case though, so let’s try another example.

Exhibit 2: California Indexes

Ancestry has the California Birth Index, 1905-1995. My Heritage has California Births, 1905-1995. 

They are both just indexes, no images in this set. Ancestry’s collection has 24,592,168 names and MyHeritage has 49,185,281 names in theirs. 

Wait… what? 

That’s right, they have over twice as many names in their index. It’s no wonder I started finding people and quickly once I started looking.

Truth moment: Once I actually knew the name of someone and searched them specifically I was able to find them in the Ancestry database as well. I’m not going to spend a lot of time searching for one name that is only in one database. That’s just a waste of energy. The point being that I found it quicker and easier in one afternoon on MyHeritage than I have in my 15 years as a paying Ancestry customer.

My Favorite Part. Not kidding here.

MyHeritage Search Results

Excuse me if I just geek out right here. This is my favorite part of MyHeritage right now. I have been going through my tree, re-doing everybody in it. Kicking people out and putting different ones in. (Technically not yet, but I’m ready to if the need arises.) This search result page is everything I need in life right now. 

It allows me to switch between census records and birth records with one click. I don’t lose my spot. You have all the collections right there in the sidebar. Other sites if you aren’t in the top collections, you end up having the collection be on a summary page and usually it involves a million clicks (exaggeration). MyHeritage also has the summary page, but they also allow you to select from the sidebar. Before you ask, yes I would rather scroll for the rest of my life than click around forever. It’s just who I am. 

This just feels more efficient to me. I can’t explain it, it feels like their computer geniuses have gone through the site, gathered a bunch of information and handed it to me in an organized notebook that I can just keep open and browse through at my leisure.

Note: Once you click on a record, it does change pages, but those are easily opened to a new tab. 

Part B: Record Detective

MyHeritage Record Detective

Once I clicked on the 1910 census record for William it brought me to a separate page for the census. It gives the transcribed information for my guy, source information, a image view of the image with a full screen option, a transcription of the household breakdown and then the Record Detective.

Mr. Record Detective (screenshot above) has some recommended records for me. This feature is comparable to suggested records over at Ancestry. 

The ones for this specific record actually all point to head of household Herbert Redford, my direct ancestor and William’s brother. To be fair though, they were very close in age and William lived with Herbert for most of his life.

Conclusion for the First Impression

I would definitely say there is a learning curve. Once you browse around the site and play with it a bit, it starts feeling a lot more comfortable. I really do feel like the search works better overall than any other site I’ve been using. Not only better, but it’s faster as well. 

I haven’t delved into things like citations or records matches for this entry. This is just my initial impression using a few examples. I will give Find My Past it’s own entry next week. 

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Site May be Inaccessible

www_slon_pics / Pixabay

Alright folks here’s the deal. Over the last year, I’ve been getting automatically generated emails from my web host company that I’m exceeding my memory. I’ve optimized all my databases regularly, I’ve set up caching on the blog. I’ve done all the things they say to do except move from a shared hosting plan to a virtual private server.

This is most likely why I’ve been getting the random 404 error messages. It’s why I keep breaking the website when I try to update and it errors out. I think it’s just time. I’m ready to go and move servers. I’m just not sure if the site will go down or for how long. My hosting was due to renew next week anyway, so this is a good time to try something new! In a perfect world this would be a great time for spring cleaning amongst my domains. Now isn’t the time for that though since my old hosting plan is due to run out. I’m hoping it all can be finished before renewal.

I hope to see everyone on the other side of this switch. Hopefully it’s quick and painless!

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Breaking the Habit

Wait a minute, what kind of habit are we talking about here?

Hold your horses, nothing crazy is going on here. I’m talking about my Ancestry.com habit. Don’t worry this is not an Ancestry bashing post. This isn’t even a post about how disappointed I am in Ancestry. While there are some problems with the website, as a website owner, I’m sympathetic to issues that pop up.

So why are you breaking your Ancestry habit then?

To be upfront, I fully intend to imbibe in my favorite genealogy website later. That’s right I said favorite. It’s my first genealogy love, it’s the one that I learned on. It however… expired on me. I didn’t have the subscription saved up to pay up front for it, so I decided to break my habit. I was not going to go into credit card debt just to keep Ancestry. Aren’t you proud? I’m trying being all grown up and stuff. Ha!

ancestry screenshot

Why are you posting about your Ancestry subscription?

Well, this technically isn’t about Ancestry. You see when I switched from Family Tree Maker to Legacy, I did that because I felt I had no other choice. I made myself only use Legacy. Once I figured it out and got comfortable with it, I don’t even miss the other software. No more switching back and forth. There is just one software for me.

I realized this week that I haven’t been using other sites that I’ve paid for because I’m so comfortable with Ancestry. I’m used to it. It’s easy to just jump on and get to work. I could be missing some great things about other websites and I don’t even know it.

Why pay for the other sites if you love Ancestry so much?

Touché.

Aren’t you all so happy I laugh at myself and talk to myself in these blogs? Anyway, I had gotten a subscription to Find My Past last year at a discounted rate. I was in Florida helping with my newborn niece and nephew. I was in baby zone and I had no time to spend money. There I was on a rare day in Florida sunshine and my brother, sister in law and the babies were out. Then I saw IT. Not the horror movie, but a 50% off sale on one year of Find My Past. I hadn’t spent money in so long and it was so quiet! I grabbed it. I used it for some English research and then forgot about it.

findmypast screen shot

You forgot about it?

That’s right, don’t judge me. I said there were BABIES! Anyway, it wasn’t until I got a notice that my Find My Past subscription was successfully renewed that I remembered. Good job cancelling that auto renew feature! I’m so on top of things sometimes.

So that’s how I got a whole year of Find My Past that I didn’t really mean to get. I’m an adult though and it’s my blunder and I’m going to make the best of it. I mean I paid for it already, I might as well give it a fair chance.

This is where MyHeritage also comes in

Don’t tell us that you forgot about MyHeritage too. Oh no, I did that one a month before Find My Past auto renewed. I again went for a great deal and this one is supposed to be price locked as long as I don’t cancel. That means I now have a year of My Heritage and Find My Past and I’m giving myself that year to get comfortable with them or get so frustrated with them that I make the informed decision to be done with them.

myheritage screen shot

Unfortunately for you guys, you’ll probably be hearing about it. I have no idea how this is going to go. Who doesn’t love a good cage match between two genealogy websites?

Cage Match… Really?

Okay so I’m not a cage match person and I’m not really pitting one against the other. I’m just seeing what each has to offer. Between their databases and their search algorithms, and the user interface. I’m not talking about prettiness. I’m talking about ease of use. How hard is it to actually find things?

How is this going to work?

The great thing is that when I started my Genealogy Do-Over, I didn’t have access to MyHeritage and I didn’t have access to Find my Past until last year when the babies were born.

This means that I’m going to go back through my list on these websites and see if there are any additional records that I can find that weren’t on Ancestry. In my mind most of the basics should all be the same but something should stand out on each site quickly. I can’t wait to see what happens. 

Has anyone out there done the same? Do you have a favorite site of the big ones? (Ancestry, MyHeritage, Find My Past, FamilySearch) Am I missing any?
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GDPR and this Website

mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

What is the GDPR?

This is a complicated question to just sum up in a little paragraph. Basically the General Data Protection Regulation is a new set of regulations for European Union countries.

You aren’t in the European Union though.

That is right, I am not. However, the internet knows no boundaries and I do have visitors from those countries. Plus, I don’t find it out of line to make sure that everything having to do with your data and my data is on the up and up.

Why are you just talking about this now?

Well, there are a few reasons for that. One, I was trying to figure out what I needed to do to make things in compliance with the laws. As an American blogger who has no links to companies I didn’t think it would be too much.

The other reason was I was waiting until it was all done, so I could say this is what I did and now none of us have to worry!

There must have been an oops in the road, there is always an oops in the road with you.

Of course there was an oops in the road. That is the Moore family motto, “Oops, let’s try that again.” Most times that was immediately following us throwing instruction booklets to the side. “Who needs instructions?”

That was not the case this time. I was trying really hard to do everything right and on time. It just didn’t happen. First of all, I have a paying website gig. Even though it is my uncle, his website had to come first. Once I thought his was ready, I started on mine.

It wasn’t until I started mine that I realized that something is happening with my website. Whether it be my host was overloaded the past week and a half, or the internet itself was, I can’t say. I just know every time I tried to do something, it would error out.

Well, what is going on.

I still don’t know. This site still seems sluggish to me. It still errors out every so often when I try to click a page. The great news is, updating my software and plugins today did not trigger any more *your site has been deleted apocalypses*

Excuse me, what?

Sorry, that was my dramatic emotions coming out. There were times this week that both my websites broke and said that there was nothing there. All while trying to update plugins, post pages, anything really. That

Enough! You’ve rambled, where are we now?

Okay, I’ve made a spiffy new Privacy Policy page. A warning, the page does use most of the suggested language of WordPress right now because I wanted to have something on the site to protect us.

I also added a Cookie notice plugin. So coming to my website the first time should trigger one, hopefully? I don’t know because I clicked accept and now I don’t see it anymore. That’s how cookies work.

The only thing is my plugins. I know that they are an important part of this whole process. They are what is actually collecting data if any. So they need to be dealt with. I’m also thinking that once I deal with them, the sluggish website might take care of itself. So that’s what I will be doing this weekend. Hopefully getting the website back to how I love it.

Oy vey.

Yeah, I hear you. So… Long time no talk! How are you guys? Aren’t we all ready for genealogy ramblings again. I know I am and I have plenty to talk about!

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The Number Eight

The Number Eight

I’ve always had a favorite number. That number is the number eight. I don’t know why that is but it just is. Most of my favorite athletes have worn the number eight jersey. Important dates in my life and that of my family usually happen with an eight in them. Or all this could just be that I only notice eights and not the other numbers.

It doesn’t really matter though because this eight is an important one!

Blogging

I have been blogging for eight years today. For some reason eight years ago, I started rambling about my family history and I’ve barely stopped since. I haven’t really put my blog out there anywhere the last few years. I just wanted to stay in my own little bubble.  I’m not a good socializer I guess. I’m really proud of what I’ve done here. I’m proud that all my ramblings are still here. I have no idea if they make sense most times, but they are here.

The Future

I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t even know what next week holds but I do want to say a huge thank you to all the wonderful people who read my blog. You guys have stayed with me through all my breaks, and all my weird ramblings. You never let me down and I’m so appreciative of the support.

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Genealogy Do-Over: Roadblock

Okay, I missed some 52 Ancestors posts, but for a good reason! I was in Florida for a week visiting my niece and nephew for their first birthdays and just didn’t get the time managed to post. Now that I am home, I am facing a whole new challenge. With a new round of the Genealogy Do-Over starting in January, I wanted to re-assess my processes and where I am currently at with my research.

What I am doing right

  • The great news is I’m still doing things in a very methodical way. I am using documents and entering data first into Evidentia, then into my genealogy management program, and then into my Research Log. Once that is done, I update my checklist in Excel.
  • I haven’t entered any further ahead then what the documents show. Sometimes this is hard, especially as I’m trying to catch up on answering genealogy e-mails. I’m even thinking about a way of logging who I’ve talked to about what and how long it’s been since I communicated. That way I can start with the oldest response and work my way forward.

What I need to Improve

  • At some point, it got way too overwhelming to try and keep so many trees synced. My Legacy file is my most up to date, but at some point because of Ancestry’s hinting system, I just deleted my fresh tree and started updating my oldest tree there as I went. Which obviously provides a huge problem. Working with the old tree is not working for me. It makes me want to leap ahead, it tempts me to make assumptions. So now I feel like I should go back to a fresh tree. I could upload a Gedcom later, but then it wouldn’t be linked to my sources. That defeats the purpose of what I was trying to do. I’m trying to put well sourced, documented trees up on every site I can. I thought the old one was better because it was attached to my DNA results, but now I’m just not sure. I stopped making changes to all online trees except for the Ancestry DNA tree.  Trying to keep everything up to date on Ancestry, Find My Past, My Heritage, Family Search, and various Family Tree DNA sites was just too much!
  • When I started my Do-Over, I moved ALL digital files onto a separate drive and titled the folder “Hold Over”. I haven’t touched it since. That means there are pictures, documents, and various other things over there that need to be brought over and organized. I assumed I would do that as I went as well. My previous numbering system made it very hard to tell which documents I had for different people. One of the things I’m trying to do is to rename everything over in the old folder to my new system so I can at least see what I have. A lot of them are digital files that will be able to be deleted as I go along, but some of them are scans of purchased documents and I don’t want to miss those by accident.

It’s not all bad

Despite what my bullet points say, I am doing really well with this process. I feel like I am taking more time to analyze things and to organize them which was my point in starting over in the first place. With a quick adjustment, I think it’s going to start coming along nicely again. I’ve hesitated to work on it because I was still trying to decide what to do about those other trees.

What do you guys do about trees on various sites? Do you upload Gedcoms or do you manually enter in? Is my over-thinking nature coming out again, does it even matter?

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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: In the Census (Week 05)

In the Census

Oh boy, sometimes those census records can really throw you for a loop. Sometimes they might even change the entire way you think about a family you are researching. There is never a family that confused me more than the Mays family. Any Mays researcher out there will agree with me. They are hard to pin down! This week I’m going to spotlight Rebecca Mays, for sheer stubbornness!

1850 United States Census
1850 U.S. census, Morgan County, Kentucky, population schedule, Township not stated, p. 133-B, dwelling 634, family 634, William Mays Jr household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 Jan 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 214.

In the 1850 Census, everything seems fine. Nothing out of the ordinary here. We won’t even go into the fact that I don’t believe I have ever found a document that states William Mays Jr was the son of William Mays Sr. Especially since I know from watching many webinars that sometimes the Sr and Jr were added by enumerators if there was an older and younger man of the same name living near each other. I’ll get to that in my Do-Over when it’s time to stress over that! This census is important because it’s the earliest one that is going to give me ages of the children closest to the birth. This is especially important for Rebecca, who is aged 9 in this census.

1860 United States Census
1860 U.S. census, Morgan County, Kentucky, population schedule, West Liberty post office, p. 484, dwelling 230, family 227, William Mays household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 5 Jan 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 388.

This is where Rebecca starts to play with our minds a little bit. Between 1850 and 1860, William and Rebecca swapped places in the birth order. Things don’t get any better as the years go. To save space, I made us a chart of the family through the years.

The Mays Family in the Census

Rebecca Mays, you are making this harder than it needs to be! Note: You will probably have to view this image in a separate tab to see the text.

For the chart, I decided to leave blank spaces when children left the household. I was hoping it would help give a clear view of the family group and it did! 1870 was really a crazy census year for the Mays family. The oldest 4 children had left the household, no big deal. Then there is Rebecca. Oh, Rebecca. She managed to gain 3 years between 1850 and 1860, which actually isn’t that unusual for census ages. It’s between 1860 and 1870 that Rebecca clearly found the Fountain of Youth! She only aged 2 years in that time! When you look ahead to 1880, you can see Rebecca’s age actually goes back to what her age would have been if she’d stayed consistent through her lifetime.

Sidenote: I see you appearing out of nowhere Jane! Or is it Elizabeth J. Mays pulling a fast one like her sister Rebecca. I just don’t know anymore!

It wasn’t an indexing error.

Those of us with a few genealogy years under our belt might say that it could be a transcription error in 1870. That maybe it was just really hard to read and so it looks like 18 but was actually 28.

1870 U.S. census, Elliott County, Kentucky, population schedule, Precinct 1, p. 446-B, dwelling 148, family 148, William Mays household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 1 Feb 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M593, roll 459.

Nope, it sure is clearly saying Rebecca is 18 years old. Oh, Rebecca. I appreciate you and all your age games!

Previous 52 Ancestors posts:

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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Invite to Dinner (Week 04)

Which relative would I invite to dinner?

Oh boy! This was a tough one. There are plenty of people in my family tree I’d love to have over from dinner and conversation. Narrowing down my prospects wasn’t easy. I decided to pick someone from my Dad’s side of the tree since I picked Mom’s side last week.

George Thorward obituary. Taken from Llewellyn Moore’s box of records.

George Thorward

Soon, I will be highlighting my immigrant ancestors here on the blog. That means you’ll be hearing more about George Thorward. I picked him for this prompt because I know he has some stories to tell. I have so many questions for him.

  • Was his name really George Thorward… George Yohn? Johann Georg Weigel?
  • Did you emigrate from Germany for political reasons?
  • Did you and your brother really make up your name and then go in different directions?
  • Were you close to your siblings?
  • How many siblings did you have?
  • Did you all immigrate?
  • Why did you come to America so young?
  • What happened to your parents?
  • Did you share your immigration story with your children or was it a secret?

I can honestly say if George were still around there would be plenty of questions from me and his other descendants!

L-R: Living Descendant, George W. Thorward, Lewis Thorward, George Thorward (4 generations of Thorwards)

Previous 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks entries:

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