Sunday, January 6, 2019

WikiTree Scan-A-Thon: Calling All GeneaBloggers!

WikiTree Scan-A-Thon: Calling All GeneaBloggers!

Want to help preserve history and help others at the same time? You can by participating in the WikiTree Scan-A-Thon from January 11-14, 2019 and scanning your family images to the internet. You can win a free Scan-A-Thon t-shirt by using #wikitree and #geneabloggerstribe when you share your photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There will be two t-shirt winners!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Review: The Ancestry App and TurboScan App for Genealogical Research on an Android smartphone

Unlike most people, I was late in buying a smartphone. Real late, like August 2018. I don't have a lot of data, so I'm careful with the apps I use. I recently added two new apps for my phone, Ancestry and TurboScan, one a winner, one not.

First, the bad news, the Ancestry app. Big data suck. The app used 400 MB of data after using the app twice. I believe my problem was that my tree has over 53,000 people and the tree took a long time to download. When I switched to another tree in my account, that tree downloaded much faster. Unfortunately the app didn't remember my larger tree and downloaded it again. Using Ancestry on the larger tree worked fine most of the time, but then the app froze up when I tried to add a record for my grandfather. Even after turning the phone off and rebooting, the app was still stuck on that page. I uninstalled the app, but my problem didn't stop there. When I logged onto my tree on my computer, Ancestry had my father listed as my second cousin twice removed! I had to re-establish myself as the home person in my tree again. I was on public wifi when the app froze up, so I don't know if I was hacked and that caused the problem if it was a glitch by Ancestry. Needless to say, I won't be using Ancestry on my phone again.

Now the good news, TurboScan. I chose this app over other scanning apps since TurboScan lets you convert your scan to a JPG file as well as a PDF. I prefer using JPG to upload to Ancestry since people can see the file without having to download it onto their computers. I was able to download this app for a free trial of three scans before purchasing it for $4.99. The app was great in the library. I saved time not having to take the book to the copier and money not having to pay for the copies. At home I have large books, Dillon/Dillion & Allied Families, Vols I and III, too bulky to scan at home. I used the TurboScan app to scan the pages which can be transferred to my computer for downloading and printing. This app is easy to use and so far I've had no trouble with it.

You really need to try apps for yourself to see if they work for you. They're easy to uninstall, just make sure you uninstall them before you have any major problems with your phone or data.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Review of Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree

I just finished the six week course, Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree, from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. No, I didn't travel there. The course was offered online for free. The catch is that if you want a certificate or to have unlimited access to the course, you have to pay $99 in U.S. currency.

This course is great for beginners. All the relevant information you need to get started in genealogical research is bundled in one place. Course topics include documentary evidence, developing a research strategy, types of sources used by genealogists, principles of genealogical proof, writing a family history, and computer programs used by genealogists. Many examples are given and there's a mixture of videos and articles to keep the course fresh.

One downside is that this course is very repetitive for someone even at an intermediate level. The only thing to gain for those people is new source information, especially from Scotland and England by links found in the text of the articles or at the bottom the course pages. Unfortunately, course time is wasted by segments of a woman tracing her own family history. I wish that time would have been filled with useful topics such as document and photo preservation.

At the end of Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree,  you're given a download of sources used in the course. However, what you need to do is to collect the downloads after each lesson as well as those from the "see also" category at the bottom of the lessons. This will save you the $99 fee, unless you really want the certificate. Perhaps this certificate would be useful if you live in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, but I can't see much use for it in the United States. The best use of U.S. dollars would be to become a certified or accredited genealogist, which is nationally recognized. One problem is if you don't pay the $99, the University of Strathclyde will send you multiple emails trying to get you to pay as they have me.

I heartily recommend Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree for any beginner genealogist. This six week course will be time well spent and you can sign up for the next session starting the week of January 21, 2019. Go to

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Demise of Genealogical Societies

This article is a must-read for anyone in a leadership position in a genealogical society. It is worth reading the comments after the post as I can't say anything else better myself. 'Anonymous' adds many salient points.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Ancestry DNA Update

September 13, 2018 was a day of days for those who took an Ancestry DNA test. Ancestry issued a major update that changed my results and from what I've read on Facebook those of many others. Here are my old results

Great Britain
Iberian Peninsula
Europe West
European Jewish
Europe East
Africa North

Here are my updated results

Here are the differences between the two

England, Wales & Northwestern Europe78%
Increased by 38%
Ireland and Scotland14%
Decreased by 19%
Germanic Europe5%
Refined from:
Europe West 4%
Refined from:
Scandinavia 10%
Benin/Togo NEW1%
Refined from:
Europe West 4%


Central Appalachia Settlers
Southern West Virginia Settlers
Southwestern West Virginia Settlers

No Longer in Estimate 

 Iberian Peninsula 10%
 European Jewish 1%
 Europe East <1%
 Africa North <1%

For me, these new results better match my genealogy paperwork. My father took the Ancestry DNA and his results were in only two categories in the update: England, Wales, & Northwestern Europe and Ireland and Scotland. Therefore, the rest of my DNA results came from my mother.

My maternal third great grandparents, surname Geatty, immigrated from Germany about 1836. Another maternal third great grandparent set, surname Stauder, immigrated from France about 1853. Franklin Stauder was from France. However, his wife Catherine Aust is listed in the 1880 U S Census as being from Bavaria, part of Germanic Europe. Even though Catherine was listed in both the 1860 and 1870 U S Census as being from France, her being from Bavaria better matches my DNA results.

Benin/Togo makes more sense than Northern Africa. Other DNA testing companies had my African heritage as western Africa, Sub Saharan, or Nigeria. But who is my African ancestor? I'm leaning toward Mary Ann Pinkley who married Jeremiah Basye. I've never found any documentation of their marriage outside my own family records. They lived in Hampshire County, Virginia, known for having interracial couples as I discovered watching the show "Finding Your Roots"  Their son Benjamin married Sarah Carmichael in Albany, New York and then they lived in Canada for about ten years before moving to Ohio. The marriage was an elopement, via family records, and Sarah doesn't appear in her father's will.

Iberian peninsula made no sense to me before. I could find no ancestor from Spain or Portugal on either side of my family. The Both European Jewish and Eastern European are now gone, which were of interest since I had lumped those with my German ancestry. I can now concentrate on other areas of research.

I'm stumped about Sweden. I've found ancestors from Switzerland, i.e. Shively, but that goes under Germanic Europe. More research.

DNA is an ongoing science and I'm expecting even more illuminating results in the future.

Monday, September 10, 2018

DNA and Lineage Societies

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is now using DNA to help women obtain membership in the organization. Today they claim to be all about inclusiveness, not like the days of yore when DAR wouldn't allow Marian Anderson to sing for an integrated audience in Constitution Hall.  A highly publicized example of this is Reisha Raney, the first African American Maryland state DAR officer.  DNA has been used to help women of African descent obtain membership in DAR, but what about other lineage societies?

A woman asked a lineage society on Facebook about racial inclusiveness and what was required of her ancestor to obtain membership. For several days no one would answer her directly. Then someone posted all the requirements. The woman then said the organization didn't seem inclusive to her and that she was no longer interested in trying to join. Later she softened her stance and was interested in trying to join. Soon after that the woman was removed from the group in addition to the post containing the ancestor requirements to join. This lineage society does not accept DNA.

New lineage societies are popping up all the time, if you know where to look. You can find some here,  and here  I qualify for one with my paternal ancestor John Punch, the first official slave of the colonies. John Punch is also the direct ancestor for Barack Obama's mother. I mentioned my ancestry to John Punch in my letter to receive an application, which I received. No DNA here either, but at least my ancestor wasn't questioned and the requirements were spelled out. Now I just have to have enough proof.

I took the Ancestry DNA test. Here are my results:

My 2% other regions are Eastern European and North African. I uploaded these DNA results to other places: MyHeritage, FTDNA, 23andMe, and Gedmatch. My African ancestry runs between 1.5% and 2%, on average. I phased my DNA on Gedmatch to isolate the DNA I received from my mother and discovered I received all my African DNA from her, in addition to my Native American DNA, which is about 0.08%, while my father's is 0.31%, all very small amounts.

I've read multiple posts online about people getting a DNA test and being a victim of genetic discrimination. According to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) per the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, genetic information is defined as

  • Information about an individual's genetic tests;
  • Information about the genetic test of a family member;
  • Family medical history;
  • Requests for and receipt of genetic services by an individual or a family member; and
  • Genetic information about a fetus carried by an individual or family member or of an embryo legally held by an individual or family member using assisted reproductive technology.
The article discusses employment discrimination only. Can DNA be used to discriminate in other areas? I hope not. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Save Your Photos Month: Finding Your Family Photos

Today is the beginning of Save Your Photos Month. This is not as easy as it sounds. First you have to locate the family photos to be saved. Where can you find them?

1. Current pictures can be found in your mobile device and can be easily transferred to your computer and uploaded.

2. Before cell phones, people used cameras to take pictures. For stand alone digital cameras you have to use a USB cable to import the pictures into your computer. These pictures are generally from the 1990s to about the mid 2000s for most people.

3. Pictures from about 1920 to 1990 were mainly taken by film cameras. These photos can be found in two formats, color or black and white photos or slides. Color photos tend to fade over time and scanning them into the computer can be difficult. I've found you need to set the image color code to color. Black and white photos should be set to gray for the best results. These pictures are usually found in photo albums. Here are my examples of both pictures I've scanned, each picture is of me with my grandmother Theresa Tate Newman.

Slides are stored in small boxes labeled with the name of the film company like Kodak. Amazon sells slide viewers so you can tell which slides contain family photos. This article tells you how to scan your slides digitally.

4. Before film cameras there were cabinet cards. These were popular from around the 1880s to about 1920. They look like rectangles of cardboard with photos on them. I have found these stored in a banker's box with other framed photos and even pasted in an old photo album. I have also found them nestled between postcards and old greeting cards. Here's a cabinet card of my great grandmother, Mary Jane Shively Taylor.

During this time starting about 1900 family photos can be found on postcards. These can be mixed in with other postcards your family members may have saved so be on the lookout. Family photos can be found on Christmas cards. Here's my great aunt, Eva Tate Thornburg, and her husband at Christmas time, about 1956.

5. If you're lucky you'll find tintype photos of family members. These date from about 1860 through the 1870s. Since these photos are delicate you can usually find them pasted in an album or in an envelope, which may or may not be labeled. Here's my great great grandfather Frank Stauder, about 1860.

Family photos can be found anywhere: a scrapbook, in a drawer, between the pages of a book, and even mixed in with unrelated documents. Check your home carefully. If you have to go through a relative's house after that person's death, be thorough. You just might miss a great treasure.