Blog The official blog of Fri, 29 Aug 2014 18:18:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What We Are Reading: August 29th Edition Fri, 29 Aug 2014 18:18:51 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> This week is the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ (FGS) annual conference, being held this year in San Antonio, Texas. But don’t think that this event has kept us from finding and reading some wonderful genealogy articles! If you’re at the FGS conference, you might want to bookmark these and read them between sessions. They also make that airport layover a lot more pleasant.Book

Here’s some of what we’ve been reading this week:

Digging Deeper to Find More,” by Nancy on My Ancestors and Me. Nancy shows how learning more about a collection helps you better evaluate the records you find.

Military Monday: Smedley Brothers in the Civil War,” by ScotSue (Susan Donaldson), on Family History Fun. Susan tells the story of brothers John and Isaac Smedley with a variety of record types.

Rosa Henn Strauss (May 3, 1836 – August 31, 1908) – Adjudged Insane,” by Jo Henn, on Climbing My Family Tree. Jo reveals the story of her ancestor’s battle with mental health issues, including methods of “curing” mental illness in the 19th century.

Tombstone Tuesday – Susan Amanda Price Bent,” by Amanda, on Miss E and Me. Amanda tells about the adventure that she and her dad had while looking for a small family cemetery.

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Just in Time for Labor Day – Delaware, Winterthur Museum Craftperson Files, 1600-1995 Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:26:38 +0000 Juliana Smith Read more]]> 20140826Winterthur2Just in time for Labor Day, Ancestry has released a unique collection that relates directly to the occupations of those involved in various crafts, dating back to the 1600s in America-Delaware, Winterthur Museum Craftperson Files, 1600-1995.

The Winterthur Library is devoted to the study of everyday life in America and America’s craft traditions, including furniture making, silversmithing, pottery making, textile production, etc. Among their collections, which is now available on Ancestry, are 91 drawers of index cards – roughly 125,000 of them – each listing the names, working dates, places of residence, and other information about American craftspeople. Data on the cards relate to a wide range of craftspeople, including:

  • artists / painters
  • blacksmiths
  • engravers
  • fraktur artists
  • furniture makers / cabinetmakers / turners / joiners
  • gilders
  • clock- and watchmakers
  • glass workers
  • goldsmiths
  • graphic artists
  • jewelers
  • metalsmiths
  • potters
  • sculptors
  • silversmiths / silver plate workers

Information on the cards includes the names of craftspeople, occupation and working dates, birth and death dates, where they lived, what they made, notes about their professional lives, and bibliographical and source references. (Information about furniture makers and silversmiths is more complete than other occupations, and some of the cards don’t include complete information.)

So this Labor Day weekend, why not pay tribute to the labors of our ancestors and explore this one of a kind collection. What interesting occupations did your ancestors have? We’d like to hear your ancestor’s story.

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Throwback Thursday Topic: Pets Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:18:25 +0000 Juliana Smith Read more]]> Beau, 1971

Beau, 1971

With my puppies huddled around me for protection from a thunderstorm, it was not hard to come up with an idea for this week’s Throwback Thursday writing prompt. I’ve always been drawn to animals of any type, really. I’ve had dogs, cats, fish (that didn’t go so well), and at one point even a ball python. But I’ve always been especially fond of dogs.

Max was the first dog I remember well and he was a German shepherd/collie mix. He seemed really, really big at the time, but I guess he was just a normal sized shepherd. I guess it’s all about perspective when you’re only about 4 feet tall yourself.

One of our most memorable dogs was Beau. He was a collie/shepherd mix and just gorgeous. He was a bit of a runner, though, and he was able to jump the short fence we had around the backyard. The only thing he responded to was cookies. So the whole neighborhood knew when Beau got loose because there would be a parade of blonde girls running down the street yelling, “Cookies, Beau, cookies.”

We were still pretty young and to walk him required two leashes. My sister Diana and I used to use two leashes and walk him around the yard so he wouldn’t get loose. One time we were out and a squirrel ran across the fence. Beau was off like a shot. We lost Diana after a turn by the swing set, and a few minutes later after dragging me for a bit, he lost me on a poplar tree. Didn’t get out of the yard that time, but he had the two of us laughing about it.



Can’t remember when we got Chu-chu, but I do remember including her in a poem. “My dog Chu-chu looks so cute, running around in her furry little suit.” When Chu-chu was getting older we got Juneau, who was a huskie/shepherd mix. (We love the shepherd mixes.) Despite the larger newcomer, Chu-chu still ruled the roost. I can remember her walking right under Juneau while she was eating and nudging her out of the way. Juneau would just wait patiently until Chu-chu had her fill and then she would finish eating.

Since I moved out when I was about 19, I have had four cats and six dogs. We had a golden retriever named Tasha who was an amazing dog. When Maddy was in pre-school, two cats adopted us. They had camped in our yard and I told Maddy if they were still there the next morning we’d take them to the vet to get them checked out and would take them in. That night I was making cupcakes for her class and I heard this plaintive meowing. I looked out the kitchen window and below the window Creed was sitting on the grill looking up at me. Aw, so cute. I turned back to what I was doing and not a minute later, I heard a noise at the screen. He had jumped to the window and was clinging to the screen. He really wanted to be our cat. I still have him 15 years later. Sadly his partner in crime, Pearl Jam, died a few years ago.

Max was an accidental rescue. I went to the pet store for cat litter and he was with a rescue group. He was a big, black, Great Pyrenees/black lab mix. I just wanted to take him away from the crowd because he looked so miserable. So I took him to an empty aisle and sat on the floor next to him. He rolled over in my lap and that was it. I was banned from the pet store for a while, but it was totally worth it.

When Maddy was 9, she decided she wanted to volunteer with a rescue group. When we ran across American Greyhound at the county fair, we signed on to help. We would go with the group to local pet stores and introduce the dogs that were available for adoption to prospective owners. We decided to foster one. They called us foster flunkies. As soon as I saw Annabelle get off the truck from the track in Wisconsin, I knew she was staying. We did successfully foster one more after that for the record.

Roxi was rescued a short time later. She’s a boxer/something mix, but mostly boxer. Bounciest puppy in town. And fast. Soon after that Caleb joined the family. He’s a big gangly shepherd/hound dog mix and while a force to be reckoned with if you’re on the other side of the fence like his nemeses, the Shar-Peis next door, he’s just an 87-pound lap dog.

Lastly, we got Layla a couple years ago. She’s a full-bred GSD, and was supposed to be a foster for a friend. Just before her dad was going to come get her though, she was diagnosed with Megaesophagus. At just 12 weeks, she was not given good odds, but I researched and found several online groups, including this Yahoo group and with their advice and support and that of our vet, she has beaten the odds and is more than two years old. She has to be fed upright in a Bailey chair that I made and her food has to be soaked and blended. Then gravity does its work as she sits upright or with someone holding her for a half hour. We call it puppy therapy time because you can’t be sad when you’re holding a puppy.

Share your pet memories and pictures with us, but more importantly, share them with your family. Below are some more pics of my dogs. Hope you enjoy them.

Max and Tricia, 1969

Max, 1969



Natasha, Maddy, and Max

Natasha, Maddy, and Max

Pearl Jam and Annabelle

Pearl Jam and Annabelle

Creed and Annabelle

Creed and Annabelle





Layla in her Bailey Chair

Layla in her Bailey Chair

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Mrs. Brown’s Boys funnyman Brendan O’Carroll is next on Who Do You Think You Are? ( UK ) Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:14:51 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> Mrs. Brown’s Boys star, Irish comedian Brendan O’Carroll is the next celebrity to get the  Who Do You Think You Are? treatment tomorrow night. Brendan now lives in Florida, but still calls Dublin home.

Question mark


Brendan has heard from family members that his grandfather was shot during the Irish War of Independence in 1920. Acutely aware that family stories can be embellished, Brendan is keen to get to the truth of that story. What happened? Why was he shot? Was he fighting for Irish freedom? Who shot him?

“I would like to find out just what happened that night,” said Brendan.

During the show the Who Do You Think You Are? team uncovers a sworn statement from a British spy that identifies the man who shot Brendan’s grandfather. He was shot by a decorated World War One soldier, who was operating as a British intelligence officer in Ireland.

British intelligence had been seeking information on his two sons. When he refused to pass on information about his sons, he was warned that he would be shot if they did not surrender!

Tune in for what promises to be an exciting and emotional episode of Who Do You Think You Are?


Who Do You Think You Are? airs on  BBC1 this Thursday at 9pm. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts or questions.


Image courtesy of Karen Ellot. Flickr/creative commons.

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Spotlight: Texas State Genealogical Society Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:06:02 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> texas-state-genealogical-societyThey say things are bigger in Texas. The Texas State Genealogical Society certainly lives up to that. They are one of the local hosts for the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ annual conference, being held this week in San Antonio. Recently, I spoke with TSGS president John Wylie and learned what makes the society so strong.

TSGS has numerous programs, including five different heritage certificates (First Families, Gone to Texas, West Texas Pioneers, Descendants of Texas Rangers, and Descendants of Greer County, Texas). They also have a robust publishing program, several writing awards, and a grant program.

However, people shouldn’t think of TSGS as a big local society. Not only can individuals join, it is also an “umbrella organization,” serving more than 130 local societies across Texas. TSGS has grown from a few dozen “very active” people, into “an alliance of local societies, all working for the same goals of education, preservation, access and developing leadership skills,” according to John.

Those volunteers working together for common goals have benefited the entire genealogical community in Texas. They have worked together in support of  bills in the Texas legislature in 2013; all of them passed. There was a bill that the organization opposed. It died in committee. As John told me, “Everyone with Texas ancestors will benefit from that quiet effort.”

A spirit of embracing change and growth is at the heart of TSGS. If you would have asked John six years ago what the strengths of the society’s team were, he would have said their offerings of genealogical presentations and the books they published. Now, TSGS is a society with a strong social media presence (including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest) and has embraced technology. Use of that technology has lead to discussing metrics and using tools such as Google Analytics to measure the success of their efforts. John added, “While we’re not forgetting the people who made TSGS what it was, we’re focused on those who will make it what it is intended to be.”

As you might expect, TSGS is not content to rest on its laurels. “After we finish co-hosting the FGS conference, we won’t stop to take a breath until we’ve hired our new quarterly editor and are back to our publication schedule.” I suspect that they won’t stop to take a breath even after that.

Texas State Genealogical Society at a Glance:


Address: P.O. Box 7308; Tyler, Texas 75711-7308

Membership Information: Membership is open to any person or organization that is interested in researching and preserving genealogical and historical records. Personal memberships are available for individuals or families. Genealogy societies, historical societies, and family associations are considered Partner Societies. Dues as of 2014 are $25.00 per year.

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Back to School with AncestryDNA Tue, 26 Aug 2014 19:03:45 +0000 Anna Swayne Read more]]> chalk broad blog

It doesn’t matter what clothes you buy or the school supplies you have for this back to school special, let AncestryDNA take you back to school in DNA testing. If you are just getting started this will help you understand the process. If you have already been tested but haven’t looked at your results in a while, this will help you revisit the results and refresh your mind on the power of DNA.

Below you will see 5 unique lessons/topics of what you need to know about DNA testing. If you are like a few of my classmates and need the cliff’s notes version before you read the actual book, see this blog post to give you a taste of what you can learn below.




Lesson 1: Take the AncestryDNA test

This is the first step, after ordering the kit. The collection of saliva is simple and easy but you need to review the instructions before hand.

In fact did you know how much saliva you actually need to provide? (1 teaspoon)

To review the instructions on how to provide a sample click here.





inheritance you Lesson 2: Genetic Inheritance

While you are waiting for your DNA sample to be processed at the lab, let’s walk you through how you got your DNA and why it’s important.

Click here to learn about genetic inheritance. It’s fun to learn about how unique you are in your family and that DNA that makes you so unique also opens up a world of discoveries to your past.



ethnicity Lesson 3: Ethnicity Estimate 

Now that you understand whom you got your DNA from and why that matters, check out the first part of your DNA results, ethnicity estimate.

Click here to learn how diverse you are.  Perhaps you already have your DNA results and you were a little surprise at the results, click here to read why that could happen.



matchesLesson 4: Matching Process

Ethnicity estimate is only half of your DNA results. Diving into your matches can lead you to unknown discoveries of your own.

Click here to learn a few tips and tricks in exploring your matches.


If you can do the first one I think it’s one of the most important steps. Check it out, we don’t want you to miss any thing.  Reference this post as you revisit your results every so often. As more people get tested, the more matches you could possibly have. The more matches you have, the more DNA hints you can discover.


settingsLesson 5: Settings and Features

The button to the left you can find on the DNA homepage.


This is where you can change the name of a test, change the tree the DNA results are linked to and share your DNA results.

If you purchased the kit for your grandmother and had the results posted to your account and now she wants access to them-you can now share them with her. Click here to get the step-by-step instructions on how to do this.


Now that you have gone through all 5 lessons we congratulate you on going back to school with AncestryDNA!


Extra Credit

Watch this video, Getting started with AncestryDNA, and see Crista Cowan and myself walk through AncestryDNA results and answer questions from a live online audience.


The best advice I can give is, don’t give up. DNA may be a new thing to a lot of you and as you revisit your results often you may find gems along the way. I remember it took a few months before I was able to make a connection on a family line I had been researching.

DNA is another tool to help us make connections, be patient with it and with yourself as you start to discover new things about your past. Remember if you haven’t taken the test you can do so now, click here



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Dick Eastman Discusses How Tech Has Changed The Family History Industry Tue, 26 Aug 2014 17:59:24 +0000 Jessica Murray Read more]]> Dick Eastman, author of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, began recording his family history research in the 1970′s on a mainframe computer he built. Needless to say, he knows a lot about technology and the positive impacts it has made on family history research.

Dick shares the newest evolutions in family history technology with the availability of apps on your mobile and tablet devices. He recalls his exhaustive research days at archives and then spending hours later on verifying the research he collected. Now he can verify his research while at the archives and saves countless hours because the quality of software has improved and made searching indexes much easier.

Dick goes on to share why he believes blogging technology has revolutionized genealogy, which now gives experts across the industry with specialized knowledge an opportunity to share their research.  Having these niche experts so easily accessible may help us overcome that brick wall we’ve been trying to climb.

See Dick Eastman’s entire interview here:

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Answering the Big Genealogy Puzzle With Tom Jones Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:56:43 +0000 Jessica Murray Read more]]> Tom Jones, editor of National Genealogical Society Quarterly and author of Mastering Genealogical Proof, encourages family historians to contribute to research by taking a DNA test.

What should be our first priority is to do what future generations cannot do.” Tom notes advancements in indexing will make discovering information from the internet easier for future generations. However, the most important information — things like photographs, family stories and DNA — could be lost if not passed down.

Tom likens genealogy research to a giant puzzle; some pieces have badly damaged pictures and other pieces are missing completely. Each of us is working to reassemble the big picture as best we can. Tom says, “Of course, it works a lot better if we help each other.

See Tom’s full interview below:

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Ancestry Weekly Roundup: August 25th Edition Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:10:58 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Blog Posts



From the Barefoot Genealogist:

Between The Leaves

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Happiness and Sadness in Equal Measure in this Week’s “Long Lost Family” Sun, 24 Aug 2014 08:27:02 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> Join Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell as they take on the challenge of uniting families in the penultimate episode in this season of Long Lost Family.









John Farrell

John Farrell is a 46-year old catering manager and Army reservist. His childhood was marked by feelings of inadequacy and he never felt as though he belonged. When he turned thirteen he found out that the man he was raised to believe was his father was not his biological father. His mother offered to tell him about his father but he didn’t want to know. He now regrets not asking about his father at that time.

Having three children has changed his outlook. John is determined to be the best father he could for his children. He often thinks of his own father and the connection he wishes they had. Twenty years ago John started to search for his father. His mother told him that he was a former soldier called Cyrill Smith. Cyrill was married to another woman when John was born.

Sharing the background of military service, John served in Afghanistan and feels a great sense of pride. When he returned home he was met with handshakes and the admiration of well-wishers. For John, the only person he wanted to be proud of him was his father. When Long Lost Family took on the search they were able to track down John’s two half-siblings from his father’s marriage. John was moved to tears to know his siblings want to meet him.


Patricia Hart

Patricia grew up in small community where everybody knew everybody and there were no secrets. In 1954, when Patricia was just 17, she signed up for three years in the Women’s Royal Army Corps. She embraced her freedom and was excited to see the world beyond her small community. She met a man and began a relationship while stationed in Hampshire. Eight months into the relationship Patricia’s time in the army came to an end and she returned home to Yorkshire. It was then that she discovered she was pregnant.

With no support from her boyfriend, Patricia told her parents. She knew that they would support her, but felt she could not put them through the shame. She decided that she would give her baby up for adoption, a decision which has haunted her every day since. In March 1959, Patricia gave birth to a baby girl she called Christine and they spent six precious weeks together.

Now 75, Patricia is a great-grandmother and lives in South Yorkshire surrounded by her close-knit family. Her only fear is that she will die before she has a chance to meet the daughter that she gave away all those years ago. The Long Lost Family team tracks down Patricia’s daughter and the reunion is not to be missed.


Long Lost Family will air on ITV this Monday August 25th at 9pm. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts on this episode.

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