Not a Genealogy Cage Match: MyHeritage First Impressions

ALERT: Long Post!
This is a long blog entry on some of my first impressions on using MyHeritage’s website. These opinions are my own. No one asked for them and I decided to give them anyway. I pay the bills around here, so it’s all good! No one sponsored this post and I don’t expect anything in return for posting this. Just my honest opinion follows.

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. 

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 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?


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?

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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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:

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:

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Longevity (Week 03)

Janie Jegley (1906-2000)


I thought long and hard about how I would interpret the prompt this week. I was going to do the longest living male and female. Then I was going to do the longest married couple. Thinking about all those tempted me to look in my old file, so I decided right then and there I was going to poke around my current Do-Over file and see what jumped out at me.

Mary Jane Mays-Jegley

Aunt Janie was my Grandpa Stanley’s half-sister. Aunt Janie stood out to me because at the current part of my Do-Over I am trying to untangle the online theories about her father and his parents. That’s a story for a different day. I’m here to spotlight Janie. She is the daughter of William Harmon Mays and Sarah Elizabeth McDaniels. I’ve talked about them a few times. Here is their marriage record and this is a timeline of William’s life. I also talked about a census entry for Sarah in 1910 that had me curious. More on that later as well. She was born in September of 1906 in Rowan County, Kentucky. After her mother’s early passing, she moved to Clermont County with her father and paternal grandparents.

That is 94 miles away from any other family that they had. That is a massive distance in the early 1900s, especially for rural farmers who didn’t have much. I don’t know what prompted the family to move. It does seem that there was plenty of sicknesses going around at the time, but I haven’t been able to research fully to know if there was an increased death rate in the area. To move so far, so completely away from everyone, it must have been something though.

After moving to Clermont County, William hired Iva Belle Moyer to look after Janie and he eventually married her. Janie married George Jegley in January of 1928 in Clermont County and they had a son. My Grandma didn’t write down all of Janie’s descendants, so I’m going to have a heck of a time finding them all, but I hope they all know how much my mother’s family loved her. I haven’t heard anyone speak an ill word of Aunt Janie.

From what I can tell, Janie was close with her brothers and her sister in law, Emogene. She often wrote letters to Emogene… but more on that later. 😉


Aunt Janie lived to be 93 years, 7 months, and 1 day old. She currently has the longest lifespan in my family tree file of 480 people. In addition to that, she outlived the average female lifespan in my database by close to 30 years and the longest living male in my database by 7 years.

Previous 52 Weeks Ancestors:

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Favorite Photo (Week 02)

This is a special treat for those that followed along all those years ago when I posted The Diary of Llewellyn for 3 years. Many will recall midway through the Diary, my Great-Grandpa Bill started showing up with his future wife. One of their favorite activities to do was dance.

I miss the Diary entries but I love filling in the gaps like this…

In fact, if you search this blog for “we danced” it comes up more than once!

William and Llewellyn Moore, 1972

This is one of my favorite photos because 50 years later and you can tell she still loved dancing with him!

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Start (Week 01)

Happy New Year!

This new year, I’m hoping to be way more organized than last year. I didn’t do too bad in 2017, but I would really like to stay a little more focused when it comes to writing up my findings or even just sharing information with my family on social media. It feels like I’m sharing the same things all the time with no context.

One cool thing I’m trying to do this year is participating more in writing prompts. 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks sounds like a fun way to start. I’m sure I won’t be posting all 52 weeks, but as many as I can sounds perfect!

Week 01 Prompt: Start

The first week’s prompt has the vague meaning of Start. When I read this prompt, I immediately thought of my start in genealogy. I was doing an eighth-grade project. I don’t remember the specific project but my mother just happened to mention it to my Grandma Emogene. She was visiting us at the time. What I didn’t realize until that moment was that my Grandmother traveled with a copy of the family tree.

The blue binder is the tree and the white binder is corresponding pictures. I’ve talked about it previously in entries. Reminiscing about the Beginning in 2010, Me in 2011 and Fearless Females: Heirlooms in 2011. It’s possible I talked more about it. After blogging for almost 8 years now it’s hard to keep track.

I know that I’ve disproved much of that beginning paragraph, but the basis of the book, the actual family information is more accurate than I expected. It’s only after this recent Do-Over that I realized it. I hunted down the person titled “Me” in the right side picture. Though I’ve yet to research her.

It’s funny, I even remember a great moment with Grandma. I’ve thought about it a lot over the last year. When we were looking at this book, I saw the three sets of twins that Mollie Jane Webb had and I thought to myself that’s a lot of twins! Grandma looked right at me and said, “Well maybe you or your siblings will have twins someday.” It’s strange to say it but ever since that moment I knew twins were coming to us. I was probably the only person not shocked when my brother and sister-in-law announced they were having twins last year.

Not a bad start to my genealogy at all if you ask me. Thanks for giving me my passion for this Grandma!

Grandma and Grandpa Wayne
Grandma and Grandpa Wayne

Regret Nothing

  1. It is 9:24 PM on Thursday night and I am neck deep in Samuel Redfords.
  2. I deleted my Twitter account months ago because I never used it.
  3. I don’t want to bore my family with Genealogy stuff on my Facebook all the time.
  4. That means I have nowhere to post except for here.
  5. 3 Birth Certificates, multiple possibilities, and still no answers.
  6. I love this stuff.

It’s not my fault

Sometimes when I end up spending a big chunk of my time doing stuff on the computer, I don’t always get things done. It’s like I’ve wasted all that time. I’ve finally chased the cause of this very annoying side effect.

I made a disastrous mistake in putting my computer desk near my window. I don’t know what I was thinking. On any given day I am interrupted by birds, squirrels, stray cats, and even crazy weather. With so much going on outside my window I’m surprised I get anything done. Who can resist squirrels hanging upside down from a canopy trying to eat the bird seed? Certainly not me.

If anyone knows of a cure for this crazy disease, don’t give it to me! The world outside my window is so wonderful. In fact we even bought a table set for our deck so I can enjoy it outside too. Hmm… Genealogy blogging from the deck? Who’s in? 🙂

I promise my blog will get interesting again someday. Remember when I wrote stories about cook books and that Irishman who is going to sweep me off my feet? Those were the days. haha.

The Things I Saw

We’ve had the pleasure of entertaining my cousin and her two energetic little girls this week. They left this morning and the house is eerily silent. I’ve done laundry (not finished), I played with the pictures in Photo Shop. I finally finished that book I was reading. Now I’m going to catch up on here! Sorry for the little absence but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Yesterday, we took the girls on a day trip to Washington, DC. It’s about 2 hours from our house and yesterday was a very pretty day. We didn’t get to tour the museums. That sounds bad but we ended up walking a total of 5 miles yesterday, so I don’t know where we would have fit museums in! The youngest, she wanted to see the Lincoln Memorial really bad because he’s her favorite coin. Everyone else just enjoyed seeing the sites.


For anyone who wants to visit Washington, DC; I definitely recommend spacing your visit out into multiple days. There is just way too much to see and they are spread out over such a big area. There are plenty of tour buses and shuttles around though if that suits your fancy. We might try one next time. We parked at a parking garage and hoofed it across the street to The Smithsonian Castle, which is pictured to the left. It’s really beautiful with the gardens in bloom. My only wish was that I could have seen the whole place decked out in Cherry Blossoms.

If you want to check out all the different museums at the Smithsonian be sure to check out their website. It’s very informative and they have all kinds of calendars so you can plan around your children’s (or your own!) interests.


Another thing to keep in mind is the season you are visiting in. It was a very warm and sunny day yesterday. So while it was great weather, there was a bit of an issue when we were walking along The Mall without shade for awhile.

When we came up to The Washington Monument, there was a very very very long line. There must have been 20 different school groups near us at any given moment. So maybe going in the earlier part of the school year would have been a better idea. 😉

We did eventually make it to The Lincoln Memorial and The White House (well as close as we could), but I don’t want to overload my blog with pictures right now. Maybe what I’ll do is do some informative posts about all the monuments under my new Category (Local Flavor). I’ve realized that living in such a historic area gives me a responsibility to not take it for granted.


Hopefully over this week I’ll get things all caught back up and I’ll be back on rhythm. I think a Monday through Friday updating schedule works the best. That’s when my free time gels the best for this blogging stuff. I really do enjoy it.

The Smithsonian Institution

The White House

The National Mall

Landmarks in Washington, DC

I might set up a Flickr or Panoramio account to showcase my pictures taken on genealogy trips and trips like this. We’ll see, I get excited. 🙂