Category Archives: Research

Missed RootsTech?

RootsTech is the largest genealogical conference in the world. In 2017, more than 30,000 genealogists of all stripes attended what has been described as a phenomenal event. Their website describes the event: “RootsTech is a global family history event where people of all ages learn to discover, share and celebrate their family connections across generations through technology. At RootsTech, there is something for everyone, no matter your experience in family history or your skill level in technology.”

But, of course, most of us missed it for a variety of reasons. Well, there’s good news!

RootsTech has put up most of the presentations that anyone can view. BUT!! It’s only for a limited time.  I’ve searched around the site and there’s no indication as to how they define “limited time” so my advice is to check out the website and view what you can while you can. You won’t regret it as the conference was chock full of presentations by the best in the business. As far as subjects are concerned…best to check out the website!

Click here RootTech to access the home page and read about the conference itself and plans for RootsTech 2018 and RootsTech 2019 in the FAQ’s section accessible from the menu in the upper right-hand corner. Or just click here: Frequently Asked Questions.

And since we’re talking about genealogy conferences, don’t forget about NERGC 2017 being held this year in Springfield, Massachusett from 26 April to 29 2017. Wednesday the 26th  is “Library and Teacher’s Day with a track on Technology. Thursday through Saturday is the main event with 130 presentations, workshops, lunches and banquets.  NERGC takes place in venues around New England on the odd numbered years. Organized by the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium, the event is quite a bit smaller than RootsTech with a usual attendance of approximately 1,000. However, with 70 speakers, there is no shortage of quality presenters and with 130 presentations, no shortage of subjects covered.

Interested? Early bird registration ends on 28 February 2017!

 

Family Tree Maker® – Goodbye Ancestry – Hello MacKiev

In 1998, I was wandering around Circuit City, a company that went out of business maybe 7 years ago or more. I really don’t remember what I was looking for. Stereos, cell phones, DVD’s, whatever. I had recently bought a desktop computer and eventually I walked down the software aisle.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had family history in mind. By “back of my mind” I mean a subconscious, little-explored avocation. It began in 1969 when I received a letter from someone who turned out to be a second cousin.

Now, by way of explanation, my maternal lines extend to the Mayflower and dozens of others who arrived during the Great Migration, settling in Plymouth Colony and, later, Massachusetts Bay Colony and finally, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I’ve since discovered some very surprising ancestors that I’ve written about over the years. It’s from this side, I researched one of my 18 or so Revolutionary War Patriot ancestors and was able to join the Sons of the American Revolution.

My paternal lines, on the other hand, had all settled in the American Southeast: Virginia/West Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama. And that’s where the letter came from. The writer had typewritten what I know now is a descendant chart beginning with an ancestor of mine who was born in 1849. I was so impressed with this information that I now knew an ancestor who was born over 120 years before the letter was written. So impressed, that I put away and didn’t open it again until around 1998, a few months before my foray into the software department at Circuit City.

You should know that I was brought up in an environment of “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.” At the time, I wasn’t particularly interested in anything family related. Until the moment the Family Tree Maker practically jumped off the shelf. It was the spark that lit up my desire, or rather my need to find out if “what you don’t know” included family. Who were they? Who am I?  Exactly how did I connect with someone born so long ago in 1849? That was my father’s side. Obviously, there must be a few folks I never knew or heard of on my mother’s side. So, I was off to the races.

In 1998, I began what has become my profession. Speaking, teaching, consulting, family research and literally anything to do with genealogy. And now DNA has entered the equation. With FTM eventually becoming an Ancestry.com property, it became a convenience to me since I was already an Ancestry subscriber.

Having branched out into client work, I usually would use FTM as one of the tools to keep my research in order. And as far as my own family, my continuing genealogical discoveries created a tree that just became increasingly bigger as I continued.

FTM was updated and upgraded over the years. I was always interested in having the “latest” whenever possible. Sometimes I’d jump in as early as possible and other times I’d wait a month or so as I had learned that getting the bugs out was an important part of software development. The integration with Ancestry that allowed full two-way synchronization was an amazing breakthrough for me as I had become accustomed to updated one and then, separately updating the other.  Wow, technology!

When MacKiev got into the picture, I read what some people were posting on Facebook and other social media. Some were in a state of sheer panic while others, like myself, took a wait and see attitude. It always seemed to me that FTM had so many adherents that it was hardly likely that it would just sail off over the horizon never to be seen again. Somebody was bound to take over the reins.

And so it happened. FTM didn’t dissolve at the end of 2016 as some had predicted. As a matter of fact, as 2016 was melting into 2017, rather than the whole thing falling apart, the news simply got better. I was reluctant to try to teach myself the ins and outs of Legacy or RootsMagic or any of the other programs that are on the market. Keeping my focus on FTM was a more acceptable way to go.

Now it gets interesting. When I received the link to the upgrade, I felt I was relatively safe. If a major defugalty came along, there certainly are alternatives. The download and installation processes were a smooth ride which allowed me to focus on some family research. There’s always an ancestor lurking that can be proven and added to the “big” file. That file now has 43,893 individuals and a proportionate amount of media. That’s a lot to lose!

Pedigree Chart of Abigail Chapin Wheelock. Her husband, Paul Wheelock is a half-first cousin of President John Adams. Note the number of individuals: 43,893. Click to enlarge.

In December of 2015, when Ancestry announced that they were going to discontinue FTM altogether, the leading family history software — just bury it in the backyard. Many were panicked. Two months later on February 2nd, Ancestry announced that they’d changed their minds and would instead sell this wonderful old brand to SoftwareMacKiev. And as the developer of the Mac versions of FTM for the six years before that, “MacKiev was absolutely thrilled at the opportunity to take the wheel,” said Jack Minsky, President of Software MacKiev. They stepped forward the very next day. ” Lots of articles were written on alternatives and there was lots of handwringing from FTM faithful on what to do,” said Minsky.

Now during the waning days of December 2016, I began to experience some difficulty booting up the laptop, a relatively new Dell Inspiron running Windows 10 with 1T hybrid hard drive, 8G of ram and no outrageous peripherals. It had always run flawlessly with all the data I have stored which takes up less than half of the capacity. That problem went away until the day after New Years Day. All I could get was the image that displays on startup. Without boring you with all the details of 5 marathon sessions with Premium Support, I can summarize it by simply saying that after a few stop-gap measures, I was forced to undertake a thorough, clean factory re-install. Fortunately, I’ve been running cloud backups for several years. I’ve used Carbonite® and more recently BackBlaze® on all our computers here. I also maintain a redundant backup on an external 1.5T Seagate hard drive. So other than the process of dragging myself through all of this, it should have been a simple although lengthy operation.

The next day, the download was complete, the restore was complete and all that was left was to put everything away where it belonged and reinstall some applications. That part of the process included FTM 2014.1 which had been running flawlessly. In the meantime, I was made aware of an update to the upgrade. Update? OK…I’m in. Before the big meltdown, I had done some work in the “big” file with the upgrade but not with the update. I thought nothing of it. I should mention here that I reinstalled FTM 2014.1 from the thumb drive that I purchased just in case what just happened, happened!

But when I tried to open the “big” file, I got an error message. I tried to open several of the other family trees and they opened with no problem. I communicated with technical support through their chat application and had 2 differing solutions, neither of which worked.  Wallowing in my frustration, I put this project aside and went to read and respond to emails and check for messages on Facebook. Facebook, by the way, with over 10,000 genealogically oriented pages, has become an important part of my on-line research efforts. I noticed that the Family Tree Maker® Users Facebook page had some folks discussing the pros and cons of the upgrade. I’ll admit, I was a bit frustrated as I fired off my problem offering it to anyone who happened to be paying attention to that page.

To my initial surprise, one of the people paying attention was Jack Minsky, the president of Software MacKiev. He took the time to listen to the whole series of events and where I was at that point. Then, in no time, he nailed it! I had upgraded to 2014.1 then installed the update after which I worked on my personal file, the “big” one. Then the crash. Then the restore. Then I began re-installing software. My first re-install was the FTM 2014.1 program from the thumb drive. What could be easier? Then, to test it, I tried to open my own file. Nope! Wasn’t gonna happen. What Jack suspected that I had opened that file with the updated upgrade (does that make sense?) and the thumb drive installed the upgrade but not the update. He knew that the missing update was the problem. He sent me a link for the update as I couldn’t find it in any of the hundreds of emails I had collected by this time. I uninstalled the original thumb drive version (build 497?) then reinstalled it. The last step was to go to the update link (build 501?) and reinstall that.

Lo and behold! I’m very happy to report that everything is running as smooth as glass. I mentioned to Jack a few weeks ago, that someday we should get together in Boston the next time I’m out there or near there. This time I offered to buy the drinks!

Thank you, Jack Minsky! I don’t know when you sleep as I’ve communicated with you at all times of the day and night.  It’s encouraging to see that although we all have to get accustomed to a slightly different way to communicate with support technicians, in the end, it all seems to work out. When does the president of a company get that close to the little people and pitch in to help? Congratulations, Jack Minsky! You did good!  You’ve earned the trust of many in the FTM community with your pro-active approach. Now, what are you going to do for us next?

My message to any FTM user? Try it, you’ll like it!

 

Quick Lesson 2: Sources vs. Information vs. Evidence vs. Proof

Dave Robison – QuickLesson 2: Sources vs. Information vs. Evidence vs. Proof [1]

As with any genealogical research question, establishing the accuracy of an item as simple as a date of birth can prove elusive and, at times, frustrating. In the case of one of my own direct ancestors, the search has taken me to many sources, with two, rather than one definitive answer. Although the search has been exhaustive, neither date has been proved.

This is the case of my 4th great grandfather, Hezekiah Robison. He was also the subject last week’s assignment regarding the number of wives. The very first record I had on his age or date of birth came from an on-line family tree, a source I was unfortunate enough to use 15 years ago, when I was so enthusiastic about my own family’s genealogy, I was hungry for every tidbit I could find. Unfortunately, it was one of the first conflicts I ran into. There were 2 schools of “thought” based on other people’s enthusiasm. First, his year of birth was alleged to be 1777 and later, in other trees, 1784. My solution at the time was extraordinarily amateur. I simply picked one!

Hezekiah RobertsonRobison

Hezekiah ROBRSON

At a family reunion in 2001, I visited the Robinson Cemetery, off of Robinson Road in Robinson Hollow near Elkmont, Limestone County, Alabama. There could be as many as 30 ancestors here but only about 16 stones remain. Other markers may have been wooden or disintegrated and sunken into the ground.  Now I would have thought that with all the “Robinson” designations, that there’d be little doubt as to spelling. This stone provided a new entry into the various spellings: “ROBRSON.” And as you can see in the photo[2], “Died June the 19th 1852 Aged 75 years” suggests a birth year 1777. Other records would disagree. (FOR THE RECORD: I did not chalk this stone. As a matter of fact, I’ve never chalked a stone. It’s not a good idea!)

1850 United States Federal Census-30A few years later, I was able to find him in a few census records. The first source mentioning an age was the entry for Hezekiah in the 1850 US Census[3]. Here he or the informant stated his age as 66 suggesting a birth year of 1784. Just with these two sources, the information they contain 2 glaring inconsistencies. The 1850 census taken just 2 years prior to his death states his age as 66 while the gravestone which was likely carved just after his death states his age as 75. Obviously, there’s more work to be dome to resolve this conflict.

To recap what I have so far, there are 2 sources: the 1850 US census and a gravestone. Both I would consider original. But keep in mind that the information each contains could fall into either primary or secondary status. As Elizabeth Shown Mills describes in her article “QuickLesson 2,”[4]  information should not be confused as “fact.” It is merely the content found in a source.

Since ether are so far only 2 sources, we can hardly say that so far, the research has been exhaustive. As a result, the hunt was on to prove or disprove one or the other. Since Hezekiah was a veteran of the War of 1812, the records at Fold3.com, a source, may have contained information to clear up the discrepancy. However, his military record including enlistment data, muster rolls or any other mention of a “Hezekiah Rob*son” make it difficult to ascertain as to which Hezekiah is which.  His widow’s subsequent pension application file found during a visit to the NARA in Washington DC contains a number of documents none of which make any reference as to his age. The search at Fold3 has been ongoing as more and more records are digitized and uploaded. Therefore, this source should be reviewed from time to time.

Finally, any document that references Hezekiah’s place of birth states Virginia. I have searched on line and in person in a variety of sources in Virginia to no avail. Since I’m far from knowing exactly where in Virginia, he may well have been born in what is now West Virginia.

For now, at least, the sources and the information they contain do not hold enough evidence to reasonably come to any conflict resolution. And now, the search for a date or even a year of birth together with a location, has been put on hold for a variety of reasons. But stay tuned! Someday I’ll have a better answer.

[1] Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 2: Sources vs. Information vs. Evidence vs. Proof,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-2-sources-vs-information-vs-evidence-vs-proof : accessed 19 March 2016).

[2] Photo taken by the author and remains in the author’s collection.

[3] 1850 US Census, Population Schedule, Alabama, Limestone County, District Four, household of Hezekiah Robinson; digital media, Ancestry.com, (www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 September2012) NARA roll M432_8, p 4A.

[4] Ibid.

Say “Hello” to My Little Friend! Flip-Pal

Flip-Pal

Flip-Pal

Here’s  a device that I should have bought years ago. I’ve heard about it from colleagues. I’ve seen it in the exhibit halls at genealogy conferences. I’ve read about it in the ubiquitous advertising at Facebook and other social media. How could it be that helpful.

Here’s how: Flip-Pal. It’s compact, fits in your backpack or computer bag, it’s incredibly easy to use, scans large documents a section at a time and stitches the sections together and will actually send the scans wirelessly to your smartphone, tablet or laptop! What else could a research genealogist want?

I’m being completely serious when I say that it’s worth every penny and more, but don’t tell the folks at Flip-Pal….

The URL for this post is http://oldbonessearch.com/?p=4219

Copyright © 2015-2016 Old Bones Genealogy of New England

Genealogy Research Tools

In response to an assignment arising from HOA “GenTools Study Group” I have to say that I have very little in the way of hardware to support my research efforts.

LENOVO T540p

LENOVO T540p

For online research, it’s my (not so) trusty Lenovo T540p laptop. I thought I had made a wise decision but it has been anything but! It’s nothing particularly exotic nor does it have any extraordinary features. As a matter of fact, just the process to get it working properly is in itself a long story.

I have a backup laptop. It’s an overworked DELL STUDIO XPS that overheats and shuts down. However, I can nurse it along with a cooling pad with a built in fan.  Standard equipment with this old machine!

HP Officejet Pro 8600

HP Officejet Pro 8600

Beyond that, there’s my trusty workhorse printer/scanner/fax machine, the HP Officejet Pro 8600. It’s probably the best printer/scanner/fax machine I’ve ever owned and since it was very reasonably priced, I considered it a bargain. I would recommend HP products without reservation. It has never failed to do what it was built to do. In the next several days or perhaps even several weeks, I’ll be putting this machine to task. I’m planning on scanning as many of the hundreds of documents, photos and whatever and shredding the originals in my attempt to make room here in my office for me to at least sit down at my own desk! (I might even get around to painting the walls ala Hillary Gadsby’s office!

Communication: Motorola Droid Turbo from Verizon Wireless. There are better phones, but in

Motorola Droid Turbo

Motorola Droid Turbo

my opinion, not many. I have a ridiculous number of apps installed including Find-A-Grave, Billion Graves, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch and a few other genealogy related apps. The camera is excellent and I have plenty of storage. It syncs with my laptop so whatever photos I take whether grave stones or documents, it’s no problem at all to name and store them, upload them to the newly condemned Family Tree Maker then sync’d with Ancestry.com,

My Logitech headset and webcam are essential for participation in Hangouts and broadcasting/watching various webinars. Both of these items came highly recommended by DearMYRTLE and Cousin Russ and have proven reliable.

Logitech HD Pro c920 Webcam

Logitech HD Pro c920 Webcam

Logitech USB Headset

Logitech USB Headset

Without a doubt, I’d really like to invest in a good portable scanning tool, a tripod that will hold my Droid horizontally and a few other items. But as you may not have realized, I have precious little room in my office for anything else…until I get “organized!”

Technology and the Ever Changing World of Genealogical Research Tools

It is easily said that I can sometimes be too quick while other times be very slow to adapt to new technologies, hardware, software, peripherals or other genealogical research tools. Tonight, of course, the old workhorse software program that I’ve “grown up with” is going away. Family Tree Maker®  is currently in its last iteration and support will only be available until 1 January 2017.

OK, that gives me plenty of time to to do one of three things:

Since I’ve already been unsuccessful trying to accustom myself to RootsMagic or Legacy…mostly due to a lack of perseverance…my choices are substantially limited. But, I’ve been here before.

Right now, I’m leaning toward abandoning all PC based software in favor of Ancestry. I’ve used Ancestry and FTM since the late 90’s and have become very comfortable of the simplicity of syncing one with the other. So I’m sorry to see that aspect go away.  The downside is reports, tables, pedigree charts and all the various data organizing products that are currently available in FTM.

Other than reports, using Ancestry.com exclusively isn’t such a bad thing. But then there’s the issue of worrying about Ancestry itself folding. This approach puts all the data I collect automatically “in the cloud.” After all, what is the cloud other than a remote server (not in the clouds!) that is a repository of data, all stored in 0’s and 1’s.

Pedigree Chart of Erskin Coleman Robison (1878-1942)

Speaking of reports, I’m not aware of any means to create any type of reports strictly out of Ancestry.com family trees. If I’m wrong, I’d happily be willing to find a way to produce the same type of reports that are currently available in FTM under “Publishing.” So that brings me back to Legacy or RootsMagic.

 

 

Now I, along with thousands of others, have some decisions to make. But as of yet, I don’t think we have enough data to even begin the process.

UPDATE: After posting this blog, I checked my email and found this link to RootsMagic. They certainly didn’t waste any time and I suspect they may have had this “in the wings” and ready to post at the appropriate time.

 

Is a Utah Mormon the Real King of England?

There’s an interesting DNA case that has been developing in Britain. There is a dispute involving

Stitchill, Roxburghshire, Scotland

Stichill, Roxburghshire, Scotland

the 13th century Pringle of Stichill, with Stichill being a town and civil parish in the county of Roxburghshire in Scotland. Described in the article as a “bitter dispute,” 2 lines of Pringle men are battling out the true and rightful heir to the title.  Both have spent a great deal of money in the courts to sort it all out. And it all started with a simple family tree project!

Invoking DNA evidence, the case is now to be decided by the highest courts in Great Britain. The Queen herself had to make the decision to send the case to the 7 judges of the Supreme Court based on a little used law called the “Judicial Act 1833.”

Here in the Daily Mail article, you can read the details of that case and also the potential case of Mormon lawyer James Ord. He “joked” that if  DNA evidence is ruled to be admissible evidence, he may be able to make a claim to the throne. It seems that George IV sired a bevy of illegitimate children (I’ll pause for the collective gasp) and Mr. Ord may be a distant cousin of one of those offspring, an American seaman.

The Royal Family has only been subjected to DNA testing once. The case of Richard III and the DNA results from that test could prove catastrophic to the current Royal line inasmuch as it would call into doubt the lineage of Henry VII who seized the throne from Richard.

Genealogists may want to subscribe to the Daily Mail to follow these stories.

Chicopee Library Named LDS Family History Center

Chicopee Public Library

Chicopee Public Library

The Chicopee Public Library at 449 Front Street in Chicopee, Massachusetts has been designated a Family History Center by the

Family History Center, Salt Lake City, Utah

Family History Center,         Salt Lake City, Utah

Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS). These are the folks who bring us billions of genealogical records to research at their website Family Search and they do it for free!

On Thursday, 19 November 2015, representatives from LDS will be presenting the library with a very generous check to support the genealogical activities there. For example, along with 5 or 6 other genealogists, I’ve been volunteering to assist library patrons with their own family research. In addition, the library sponsors a variety of genealogy research classes, lectures and presentations. I’ve been invited to participate in the presentation ceremony. 

Keep an eye on my schedule of activities at Old Bones Genealogy of New England and click the “Workshops/Classes” tab. You might also take a look at “Useful Documents” where I post dozens and dozens of genealogy documents, charts, spreadsheets, lists of genealogically oriented Facebook pages and a list of good websites to take a look at.

I hope to get a few pictures to post!

 

More “exciting” news from Ancestry.com

Here’s a quick post regarding Loretta Gillespie’s blog, this time about Ancestry.com.

Are you a subscriber? I have been a “faithful” customer for over 10 years. Lately, they’re a little more difficult to keep track of. For example, their newest membership packages are a little confusing. We discussed it today on a Google Hangout (which all of you can participate in) called “Mondays with Myrt.” Click this link to Loretta Gillespie’s blog, “Barking Up the Wrong Tree.” It’s worth a look.

This was a large part of the discussion today on Monday’s with Myrt.  If you’re interested, it’s a great place to listen to all things genealogical.  Check out http://bit.ly/MyrtsNext. That link will take you to DearMYRT’s Google Community. All are invited to join the Hangout every Monday at noon eastern, 11 AM Central and 10 AM Mountain time. I’m on the “panel” nearly every week, but an unlimited number of people can watch through her Community page.

Old Bones Genealogy of New England

Old Bones Genealogy of New England

 

NERGC

English: Old print in Darłowo Castle with gene...

English: Old print in Darłowo Castle with genealogical information about King Eric the Pomeranian of Scandinavia, as released by image creator Ristesson; Place: Darłowo, Poland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re all talking about NERGC here in the North East.  NERGC?  So what’s NERGC?  It’s the acronym for the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium.  NERGC orchestrates a biennial conference at strategic cities here in New England.   Now it’s not RootsTech..nowhere near the size.  I believe RT had approximately 30,000 registrants this year, give or take 10,000.

No, NERGC is quite a bit smaller but of no less significance or importance to the genealogical community here.  Speakers, sponsored luncheons and dinners, workshops, society meetings, exhibitor hall with unopposed exhibit hours, speakers with national, regional and local recognition… NERGC has it all.

I can tick off a list of reasons why I took 4 days out my own very busy schedule to attend.

First, the opportunity to network with people who I know well, but only via social media: Facebook, Google Communities, Webinars, Google Hangouts on Air, the whole spectrum! I can tell you that it’s one thing to communicate virtually, but there’s nothing like looking across the table with a genealogy friend and sharing a meal or just a cup of coffee.  It’s what I would call a mini-conference.  There were mini-conferences going on all day, every day.

Second, I’d have to count the sessions that were held on all aspects of genealogy, family research and technology.  As a matter of fact, the entire first day was devoted to librarians, teachers and technology.  Not a bad place to be on Wednesday!  And I know that those who attended would agree.

Next, I’d count the individual specialty programs such as the “Ancestor Road Show.” This program is well attended and by reservation only!  A busy time for the NERGC volunteers,

And on the subject of volunteers, there are dozens of devoted genealogists at all levels of knowledge and experience in every field, volunteers who spend hours and hours in the planning and execution of each conference.

The Exhibition Hall was jam packed with representatives from many vendors and societies. The

The coat of arms of the Committee on Heraldry ...

The coat of arms of the Committee on Heraldry of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

genealogy website  MyHeritage was represented as well as the American-French Genealogical Society, Heritage Books, Lisa Louise’s Genealogy Gems, the Gravestone Girls, New England Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, New England Historic Genealogical Society, citation software vendor Evidentia, and many, many more.

So now we all have to wait until April of 2017 for the next NERGC conference which will be held at the MassMutual Center

in Springfield, Mass.

See you there!