31 December 2017

Genealogy Do-Over 2018 Reboot

I joined Thomas MacEntee's Facebook Genealogy Do-Over Group at the end of Dec 2014, basically when we were preparing for the first go through of Thomas' Do-Over process.

Well, that first quarter I managed to pack up all my genealogy papers.

I also managed to come up with HUGE list of goals, both short term and long term.

I wrote up my "Warm Up Exercises"

And a research flow chart

I learned lots by reading all the posts and joining in conversations, but did very little towards actually DOING my Research over. I did post on this blog a few times about the Do-Over starting in December 2014 if you are interested in the little progress I made last time.

I plan on spending this next year filling in the holes in my genealogy knowledge and skills. I hope to start the process of becoming a Certified Genealogist in 2019. Figure this is a good time to get serious about actually DOING the Do-Over.

One, this will make sure my personal tree is in good shape. And two, this will help me put the new skills I am trying to learn into practice.

It helps that I have managed to let go of an outside responsibility that was taking a lot of my free time. I have also been working on whittling down the piles of things that have been accumulating around here while I was busy with outside things. I actually have my laptop sitting on the desk in my "Office" (also known as the spare room)! The space still has a lot of work to do to make it a really effective work area. But I have made some good progress on it.

I am putting this on my blog hoping that maybe it will help make me more accountable. Anyone want to join me in rebooting (or starting) a Do-Over with their Genealogy?

Here is to a productive 2018!

24 December 2017

Tracking and Organizing My Genealogy Studies

Over the years I have read lots of articles, books, blogs, attended talks, watched webinars, learned from others. But if I was asked to name even a fraction of them I would not be able to do so.

So I decided that I needed some way to document this upcoming year of study in preparation of becoming a Certified Genealogist.

First requirement was that it fit my way of thinking so using it would be instinctive. If my method was difficult I might use it short term but not long term. I learned this from a book called "Organizing From The Inside Out" by Julie Morgenstern.

Second requirement was that it would include all the information I needed so that I (or someone else) would be able to locate the information again. But again keeping it simple enough that I would use it and not feel bogged down having to write a bunch of stuff down.

So this is what I have come up with...

I will be using Excel spreadsheets. Someone else might use Word, OneNote, Evernote or even Scrivener. As I will explain later in this post, I am going to also use OneNote for a particular portion of my tracking. But for now I will concentrate on why I decided on Excel and how I am going to utilize it.

I have been playing around learning how to use Excel for a couple of years now and have become quite comfortable with the program.

Excel will allow me to create a "book" of spreadsheets to track the different types of learning I will be doing. Each sheet has its own tab that I can name, allowing me to know what is on that sheet and to easily navigate between them.

My tabs (the "How" I am getting the information) are titled:

*Online Courses
*Live Lectures & Seminars (meaning I was physically at them)
*Live Courses and Classes (again I was physically at them)
*Magazines and Periodicals (including newsletters and professional journals)

Each tab has some variation of the following columns:

*Title (of Webinar, Course, Book, Lecture, Blog Post, Article this takes care of the "What")
*Presenter/Author/Teacher (This takes care of the "Who")
*Date of Presentation/Publication (This takes care of part of the "When")
*Location (URL for things online, for live events where the event was held, for books I have Publisher in this spot, for magazines I have Magazine title. This takes care of the "Where")
*Length (Time of presentation, or if written word number of pages.)
*Date I watched/read/attended/completed (That takes care of the other part of "When")
*Notes (some things, like webinars and classes, are labeled "Beginner" "Intermediate" "Advanced" If something I do has such a label I will include it in the Notes column)

I mentioned also using OneNote in my record keeping for my project. I will use OneNote to organize any Syllabus I get from a class, lecture, or webinar. I think I will also add the Table of Contents from books. This gives me a quick easy way to go through the things I have heard and read, as well as good documentation of what was included in that lecture/course/book.

For those who have managed to reach this point of my post, hopefully you have found some inspiration and ideas for tracking your own learning. Whether the topic is Genealogy or some other subject (especially if it is for your profession) tracking your educational pursuits is probably a good idea.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

21 December 2017

A Christmas Gift

Thank you to my daughter for my Christmas present.

Her gift was a membership to the National Genealogical Society and two of their courses:
American Genealogical Studies - The Basics
American Genealogical Studies - Guide to Documentation and Source Citation

But actually her greatest gift is believing in me and supporting my dream to become a Certified Genealogist

National Genealogical Society Member

18 December 2017

On Becoming a Certified Genealogist

Becoming a Certified Genealogist is an idea that I have been playing with off and on for several years. I have bought some of the books on the subject. Most of them I have flipped through quickly before placing them on my bookshelves to gather dust. But have I read them and studied them thoroughly? The answer is no.

I was talking to my younger daughter about how at least 3 of my 4 kids gave up on the dreams they had as teenagers. One wanted to be a singer and everyone agrees she has a good voice. One wanted to go into acting, and she is a good actress. One had dreams of Baseball, and I believe he has the talent (rather reminds me of a Ricky Henderson type of Ball Player). But for one reason or another they all chose different paths.

Then she asked me what my dream was/is.

When I was young and healthy it was to teach English and Drama in High School. In my 30's I even managed to enroll at the University of Rhode Island in the Secondary Education Program. Then I developed Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I quickly realized if I couldn' physically handle taking 2 college classes a semester there was no way I would be able handle spending 5 full days a week teaching in a classroom. That ended that dream.

Then I discovered a passion for genealogy. Although I have to say it wasn't really a new passion, I had been interested in my family history since I was a child. I just didn't know much about the how to research until I started learning in 1995. But it took another 2 years and moving back to California when I was able to go with my mom to the Family History Center in Oakland, the National Archive in San Bruno and the California State Library in San Francisco that I really became hooked.

Fast forward through years of learning and researching, of helping others find their family's history, to last night and my daughter's question of "and what has been your dream mom?" My answer was to be a Certified Genealogist.

She said "you have wanted to do that for years mom, you should do it." I told her one of the things that has stopped me is the cost and that once you start you are supposed to finish it in a year, and with my health not always cooperating with my obligations and desires I wasn't sure I could meet the deadline. So then she asked how much would it cost and offered to pay for it for me.

I have to admit that brought tears to my eyes.

So today I went seaching for answers to her question. I looked at the Board of Certification for Genealogist (BCG) website. Preliminary application costs $75, then once it is accepted you have a year to turn everything in with a $300 fee. You can get extensions for an additional year for another $75 fee. That eased some of my fears of what if my health interferes and I couldn't finish it in a year, BUT if the requirements have changed or the fees have gone up you have to use the new requirements and/or pay the new fee amounts. All that is just to become Certified!

Once you are Certified then comes things like annual memberships to BCG ($75/yr), setting money aside every year so I can do the recertification in 5 years ($60/yr), membership to National Genealogical Society ($70/yr), Association of Professional Genealogists ($100/yr). Then there are the subscription site fees Ancestry All Access ($389/yr), Find My Past Premium ($239.50) and Genealogy Bank ($69.95). That is $1002.95 a year. And it doesn't include office supplies like ink, paper, postage, advertising, travel, etc.

I realize I would be able to deduct most if not all off my taxes as business expenses, but just looking at that number is scary. I don't currently get that much a month on disability. If I do this I have to be serious about actual getting clients or I will quickly go under.

But the truth is this really IS something I want to do. So I will get my books off the shelves and start studying so when I do send in the Preliminary Application I will be prepared to give it my best.

Looking forward to the day I can put out my shingle as Linda Newman, C.G.

17 December 2017

Think of Doing a DNA Test? Things to Know Before you Take It

I know Ancestry pushes the ethnicity part of DNA testing. What they don't tell you is that the ethnicity part is fairly new science and the database is still limited enough that it probably won't be 100% accurate.

In addition just because 1 great grandparent is from England, 1 from Spain, 1 from Africa, 1 from Germany, 1 from Scandinavia, 1 from Cambodia, 1 from China, and 1 is 100% Native American does not mean you will be 1/8 of each of those ethnicities.

Yes you get 50% of your DNA from your mom and 50% from your dad, but I don't think anyone has ever gotten exactly 25% from each grandparent. It may be a 30/20/15/35 mix or some other combination.

Plus remember just because your Great Grandparents came from a certain region doesn't mean that is where their ancestors were from. Or even if they have lived in the same region for the last 1,000 years most places have had invaders. Sometimes the invaders stayed in the new region, or sometimes they left little souvenirs behind which affects the ethnicity of future generations.

The ethnicity results are fun and interesting, but the real benefit to DNA testing is in the DNA cousin matches. They help verify the paper trail and break down brick walls.

Just be aware you may find out things you weren't aware of. You might find a close relative you weren't aware of, or you might find out someone you thought was a blood relative really isn't related by blood after all.

I don't want to discourage anyone from taking a DNA test, in fact I actively encourage people to do so. I have tested at both 23andMe and at Ancestry, then transferred my DNA to Gedmatch, FamilyTree DNA and My Hertitage. My feeling is the more places my DNA is the more likely I am to connect with all the DNA cousins I can. And the more DNA cousins I connect with the more brick walls that will fall, either for myself or for others.

In addition to my own tests I have paid for 2 family members to test at Ancestry and 5 to test at 23andMe. As you can see I think DNA testing is great. I have verified some of my paper trails, including one that was based on circumstantial evidence at best. And the more people that test the more likely I will be able to verify the rest of the lines. But I think it is important that people make the choice to test based on facts, not because of fancy advertisements.

13 December 2017

No Ancestry Subscription? What's a Girl To Do?

I was just reading a post in one of the Facebook groups I belong to. In it a woman was saying for financial reasons she had to take a break from having a subscription to Ancestry and was looking for ideas on things she could do so she wouldn't get bored.

Here is my list of suggestions:

1. Take a fresh look at your documents, sometimes when we first find a document we only look at the obvious bits, but if we go back and look again we can find details we missed the first time through.

2. Go through and write some research plans. I have a sample of one of mine at: 2012 January - Emma Antrim

3. Read some blogs and/or check you tube for genealogy how to videos, there are some excellent ones out there.

4. Check out Pinterest for ideas and forms, I know a lot of people pin things on their Pinterest boards that can be helpful. My genealogy board is at: Linda's Pinterest Genealogy Board

5. Work on your life story, think about how much we would love to have great grandma's life story in her own words. Someday one of your descendants will feel the same way about your life.

6. Talk to the living and ask them about their memories, not just about relatives but about themselves, use a camcorder or digital voice recorder if they will allow it so you get their stories in their own words, in addition it allows you to concentrate on the person rather than in the process of trying to take notes.

There are lots of other things genealogy related you can do while taking a break from your Ancestry subscription. I would love to hear your ideas, leave them in a comment.

12 August 2017

Experimenting with Mirror Trees Part 2

I left my DNA attached to my dad's name on my mirror tree for 6-7 days now. I have 3 shared ancestor hints. The first match is with my 1st cousin once removed. I manage their test so since his tree has all the same information my tree has, and it is all listed exactly the same way, that isn't surprising that he shows up as a shared ancestor hint. The second shared ancestor hint is a second cousin that I had in my tree prior to finding him as a dna match on Ancestry. So again, not a surprise we are a shared ancestor hint match. The third SAH match is a 4th cousin once removed that we had already figured out what our match is.

So, tonight I am switching my dna to a new mirror tree and a person on DNA Match list that I am not sure where exactly we match. I suspect from the location of his family and the location of my branches that the common ancestor is probably on my dad's maternal line. This DNA cousin also has some names in his tree that are associated with some of the family in my tree on my paternal grandmother's side. But I cant figure out where exactly the common ancestor is. And that is the whole purpose of a mirror tree, discovering who the common ancestor is.

I switched my DNA just before writing this post, and our local Fair starts on Thursday. Since I am on the Fair Board I imagine I will be too busy to do much genealogy until after the fair is over, but that should give ancestry enough time to find some shared ancestor hints. Although, there is a possibility it won't because of the way this DNA cousin added names to his tree. But that is a post for another time.

11 August 2017

Recognition of My Blog from Feedspot

On August 1st of this year I received an e-mail notification from Feedspot that my blog was chosen by their panelist as one of the top 25 Family Tree Blogs. I do not know much about Feedspot, but having my blog recognized is nice. They asked that I display this badge on my page.

Their list can be found at: blog.feedspot.com/family_tree_blogs/

06 August 2017

Experimenting with Mirror Trees

My first attempt at using a mirror tree wasn't very successful, but I decided to try again.

With my first attempt I was manually entering the information from my DNA matches tree into a new tree on my account. I titled the new tree DNA Mirror Tree. I made it private and non-searchable like you are supposed to do so other people don't see it and get confused.

I think the biggest problem I had was since I was trying to manually enter the info there just wasn't enough information on it to get any shared ancestor hints.

I learned just recently a much easier way to make a mirror tree. I have made my very first video every showing what I learned. you can see it on YouTube at: youtu.be/l0cQLwpII6A It is 28:21 minutes long.

I had my daughter watch it because she has only helped me a little bit and really has no experience working with trees. She said it was "Very informative!" So hopefully newbies and experienced ancestry users will find it helpful.

So using this new method I have created a new mirror tree and will attach my dna to the person who is my DNA match. Then I will give it a week for Ancestry to search its database for DNA matches that have Shared Ancestor Hints with the mirror tree.

I will report back on if I was successful or not. Course part of the problem may be that I am a predicted 4th cousin with this DNA cousin and I watched a video that said mirror trees work best with predicted 2nd and 3rd cousins.

02 April 2017

Searching for Vernon Robinson Lee

I have been searching for Vernon R Lee off and on for awhile now. He is the maternal grandfather of some of my cousins on my Newman side. I have managed to develop a pretty good tree on our shared paternal side, the Newman side, but they know almost nothing about the maternal side of their tree.

My cousin, FN, has tested at 23andMe at my request. And his son, AN, tested on Ancestry at my request. This was to try and narrow down which side of my tree some of my matches fall. Basically I knew if they matched both myself and one of them that meant the match would be on the paternal Newman side of my tree.

Howevery, they both had a significant number of matches that don’t match me, and since I hadn’t done any research on the Lee side of their tree I had no idea how people who contacted me might connect with them. So I started searching.

I did manage to find the marriage record for FN’s maternal grandparents. I discovered that Helen Hartmann and Vernon R Lee were married 04 Jun 1930 in Clark County, Washington. But there was very little information on the certificate that would allow me to go further back in the records, especially on Vernon’s side.

The one hint I did find on the certificate was what town Helen had been living in. I decided to see if maybe I could find her as a child in the census which would allow me to discover who her parents were. Sure enough, I did find her as a child in that town with her parents. And that meant I was able to get a little more on her. Vernon however wasn’t showing up in the census records in Oregon or in Washington, so I was stuck.

Until this week when a DNA match that I had tried to contact previously finally answered. They said that yes, Vernon R Lee was on their tree! This person had a tree with good sources and documentation, so I think I can trust their research. They had Vernon’s family of origin, including his parents, both sets of grandparents and even a couple sets of his great grandparents! AND they including siblings at each level. I feel like I hit the mother lode because of this person’s hard and detailed work.

The problem is I can not find any record of what happened to Vernon coming forward. Like I said I have his marriage certificate, I know Vernon and Helen had 2 daughters, and there is a passenger list that has Vernon listed as single and heading to Hawaii a couple of weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

When and where did Helen and Vernon divorce? Why was he going to Hawaii? What happened to him after he arrived? Did he join the military? If so, why can’t I find a record of that? Did he ever remarry and have more children? When and where did he die? So far ancestry isn’t showing any easy answers.

I am hoping that someone who is a descendant of one of his 8 siblings might know something that will give me a clue to where to look for him. To that end I am sharing the Family Group Sheet with his parents and siblings. If Vernon or his family are in your tree and you have any information on any of them please contact me. I would love to be able to hand my cousins a copy of their family story on the Lee side.

Since I first wrote this a few days ago I have found a death date for Vernon of 1 Nov 1958 in Oregon, and the fact that he was buried in the Greenwood Hills Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. Also in looking closer at the Passenger list I found that the USS Chaumont was a Navy Transport ship that made regular runs from San Francisco, California to Manila via Honolulu. This leads me to think that Vernon was at that time in the Military, and probably the US Navy. Haven't found anything more about his military service. A thank you to Paul for replying to my message on FindAGrave.

22 March 2017


Well, I went on ancestry to see what records I could find for the missing two great great great grandparents. I hit the mother lode! Not only did I find them I found their parents!

The people within the red outline are the eight people I managed to add to my tree tonight

Of course it is now 10 pm and I haven't had dinner and my neck is getting stiff from looking at the computer. Time to stop for the day, get some food, some ibuprofen and soak in a warm tub. Have a good night all, and good luck in your hunt. I love days like this that go so well.

I love doing Genealogy, so why haven't I been doing any research?

I love doing genealogy. It is more than just a casual hobby it is a passion. I get such a thrill from research and finding new information. I love being able to share the story of our family with others. So, the question is, why haven't I been working on doing any research?

There are several reasons, or should I say excuses why I haven't been working on doing genealogy....

One, I managed to get all my papers gathered up and put in boxes to go through folders and papers one by one to start my Genealogy Do Over. I even came up with some of the other parts of doing the do-over. I have goals made, I have a naming plan for naming files, etc., and a few other of the exercises that Thomas MacEntee wanted us to do. The problem is I didn't have a clean organized spot to work on my genealogy research.

Everytime I start making progress on getting my "office" area set up life seems to interfere, and by the time I manage to get back to working on it I have managed to pile more stuff in that area that I now have to find homes for. Sometimes it feels like the old "one step forward, two steps back" dance when it comes to organizing my things.

It probably has something to do with organizing not being as much fun as other things, although I can do a really good job at organization (I have had numerous people compliment me on how organized I am). And I do really like the results of having things organized, but sticking with just one organization project until it is done and not getting side tracked is an issue for me. It is why I love books like "Side Tracked Home Executives" by Pam Young and Peggy Jones; "Sink Reflections" by Marla Cilley; and "Organizing from the Inside Out" by Julie Morgenstern. These books have helped me learn the "how-to" skills to be better organized, and also helped me recognize some of the ways I sabotage my efforts in getting organized. It still requires time and energy to do the follow through.

And time and energy brings me to the second reason, or excuse, for not spending more time doing genealogy. Because of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome my energy is extremely limited. Within the past year I have been appointed to the Modoc District Fair Board, and for about the last 6 months now I have been spending a couple of hours a week working in the fair office, handling the bills. That doesn't sound like a lot until you also add in the fact that it is a 30 minute drive each way over Cedar Pass which is 6300 ft elevation (about 2000 ft higher than Alturas). Beautiful drive, unless the weather is bad.

I have also joined The American Legion. I have met some nice people by joining. It has added other responsibilities to my time too. I am District Chaplain, which really means just attending quarterly meetings and saying Opening and Closing prayers, I am now Post Historian and have had fun scanning some old documents for the post so we have digital copies of them. And then putting all the pages into page protectors and into a binder so people can actually see them, instead of having them stuck in a file cabinet. I am also in charge of making the website for our post and maintaining a facebook page for our post.

And if all that wasn't enough, I had surgery to have joint replacement for my right knee at the end of November! That has really set me back physically, between the actual surgery, and the physical therapy to help rebuild the leg muscles, my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is flaring up big time.

But I did go online recently and checked to see if I had new matches on either Ancestry DNA or 23andMe. As I reported in my previous blog, I did find a 2nd cousin match on my Newman line and was able to update the more recent generations in their family. So that was good.

This week I updated Family Tree Maker 14 to FTM 14.1 by the company who purchased the FTM software from Ancestry. So that was good, because in the process I also made backup files of all the different trees I have on my computer (now to burn those onto a disk just in case anything happens to my computer.). I also found I had FTM files in several locations on my computer. Now, all the most recent files for each tree are in one directory instead of scattered here and there.

I also did an update for Charting Companion which I find is a really neat software program for making specialized charts that you can't get in FTM. Because I do genetic genealogy one of my favorite is the X Chromosome Ancestor Fan Chart. It shows which relatives I would have received dna from on the X Chromosome. You might be asking, but don't we get dna from all our ancestors on each of the chromosomes?

No, we don't receive dna on the X Chromosome from all our ancestors. Men do not pass down any X chromosome DNA to their sons, instead they contribute the Y Chromosome to their sons. This is handy in eliminating ancestors from consideration when you have a dna match that shares dna on the X chromosome with you. On the chart, all the white spaces are descendants of sons of males. These are the ones I did not get any dna from on my X Chromosome, only those who are in Pink or Blue spaces.

You might wonder how that works in a real life situation. I have a dna cousin on 23andMe that shares DNA with both me AND my paternal first cousin. Of my 32 3x great grandparents I can eliminate the 16 on my maternal side, Then, because her and I share dna on the X Chromosome, I can eliminate the 11 other 3x great grandparents i would not have inherited dna on the X chromosome from. This leaves only five lines at that level for us to research to find our common ancestor(s). The problem is of those five possible lines, I don't have names for two of them. Time for more research! Wonder what new records Ancestry has gotten since the last time I looked for them?

14 March 2017

Made a contact!

I have not been doing much with Genealogy this year. I am on the Modoc District Fair Board, and have been appointed Treasurer. Even though I only spend a couple hours of week in the office and go to a monthly board meeting it really takes a lot out of me physically because of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. If I ever thought that maybe I could get off of disability and get a full time job this is totally showing me it is not possible. I have also joined the American Legion. Meetings are once a month, and I come home and have to retire to my bed. I love being involved and being able to give back, but it really exacts a price on my health.

But this week I decided to hop onto ancestry.com and check my dna matches. Good news! I found that a 2nd cousin on my Newman side had tested since I last checked my matches. I messaged him and ancestry messaging system actually worked properly, I he contacted me back. We have been emailing back and forth updating each other with what we have found, and updating the information our our current generations. This gentleman is a grandson of my grandfather's (Frederick Newman) brother (Eric Newman). Fred and Eric were both born in London in the late 1800's. Something happened to their family because on the 1901 census mom was living with her sister and brother-in-law, Fred was living with his maternal grandparents. I have found someone by the same name as the dad living elsewhere but I am not sure it is the right person. I have also found someone with the name Eric Newman living elsewhere, but again not sure it is the right person. I do know that at some point Eric was sent to Canada, that mom emigrated to America and got remarried the day she stepped off the ship in Philadelphia, and that Fred came to America a few years later. Eric eventually also came to America and joined him mother and brother. Both brothers fought in WWI and became naturalized citizens. They both married and had families.

As a result of the depression my grandfather Fred lost his job. He was able to get a job from his former boss's son, but it meant moving cross country to California. Fred came first, and then my grandmother, aunt, uncle and father (who was only 6 months old at the time) traveled cross country via Greyhound Bus. The story is my dad made the trip in a laundry basket.

Eric and family stayed on the east coast. This means the families did not see much of each other, although I have vague memories of Uncle Eric and his wife Nan coming to California a couple of times to visit. And when I was and adult and had moved to Massachusetts for a couple of years I did visit Uncle Eric at his home on Cape Cod.

Jennifer, Linda, Eric, John (1984)

I guess the point of all of this is to keep looking, we just might suddenly find a relative that is also interested in genealogy and is also looking to make connections with family!