Your Quick Tips, 04 February 2008

Inherited Medical Conditions
If anyone in your family has an inherited medical problem, do not fail to ask relatives for names of others who might share the problem.

My wife inherited a serious medical problem from her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother. She would break out in red bumps similar to measles, run an extremely high fever, but at the same feel like she was freezing. This would last sometime up to two or three hours. Once the fever broke, it would start going away. Rainy or cold weather, as well as an air conditioned house, would bring on an attack.
When we married in 1955, very few doctors had ever heard of the problem and no medication was available. She was diagnosed as having lupus in 1961 and treated for ten years, before another test showed she did not have lupus, but rather, something close to it. The medication she was given caused problems with future treatments, and she died in 2002 from a very rare and fast-moving cancer.
Our two children and two grandchildren inherited the condition. About four months ago, I made contact with a descendant of her grandmother’s brother who has the same medical problem and has been in a medical research program. They put him on a medication, and he has not had an attack since his first shot. My son and his daughter were accepted into the program and neither has had an attack since the injection of medication. My niece went today for her first appointment and my daughter and granddaughter have an appointment tomorrow for their first visit.
They call this condition Familial Cold Auto-Inflammatory Syndrome and the medicine keeps a bad gene working like it should. My son says he feels the best he has felt in a long time. So far, there are no bad side effects to the medication.
Finding this relative through my family research and getting my children in this research program means more to me than winning a multi-million dollar lottery. This alone is worth every minute I have spent on my family research.
Ralph Bridges
P.S. This medical problem may be traced back to a Waldrep (Waldroup) in Habersham County, Georgia, in the mid 1800s. His wife’s maiden name was Bramlett; I am told that she is the one that had this health problem.

Maiden Name Place Holders
I have large numbers of women without known maiden names in my family tree. I don’t substitute married names for unknown maiden names because that introduces some confusion as well. So, when trying to find a given person in an index, if the name is a common one like Nancy or Mary or Elizabeth, it can be nearly impossible to pick out the right candidate, especially if other identifying information (such as dates or birthplace) is scarce. In order to make my life simpler, I have invented pseudo surnames that serve as temporary place holders until I can find out a maiden name (if ever) and also carry identifying information without creating the kind of confusion substitution of married names does. The pseudo surname, in lower case, indicates a relationship such as Jane wifeofJosephBMerrill or Mary wifeofJesseWilliams. When I look up “Jane wife” in the index of my Ancestry tree, all the Janes turn up, each connected to the right husband. If at some point I discover that Jane was a Jones, it’s easy enough to blank out wifeofJosephBMerrill and substitute Jones.
Sarah Loft

Backup Exchange
This suggestion may be as old as the hills, but we have not been long into computerizing family history. A cousin and I have sent each other the stories of our family research, plus family trees, photos, and details of family stories that have been handed down to us. Hopefully it would never happen but if either of us suffer floods, fires, or whatever else nature or fate throws at us, at least one of us will have the information that has been collected for more than thirty years.
Tina and Arthur Allen Vickert
Highams Park, London

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12 thoughts on “Your Quick Tips, 04 February 2008

  1. Maiden Name Place Holders: This is a great tip. I have struggled with the “unknown maiden name” myself and this is the best way to handle it I have heard to date.

  2. The idea of backup exchange may be as old as the hills, but most often people lose their data due to virus, surges, or bad hardware. It seems as if we all know we “should” have a backup, but just don’t do it! I work in the computer industry and deal with more sad stories than I can remember, all of which didn’t have to happen. Recovering lost data typically costs $250 to $2500.

    Not only do I exchange my data, but I have all data on my computer backed up to an external hard drive and placed in a safe deposit box. About every 4-6 months, depending upon how much additional pictures or data I have, I remove it to update it. In between backups, I have data on an external drive I keep, and on DVD’s that I send to a relative’s.

    Also, I have been working hard to get all old slides and negatives scanned into the computer, and will be working on more recent pictures and negatives, just in case! It is a huge undertaking, but worth it.

  3. Maiden name place holders: The best idea I’ve read amidst lots of good ideas. Thanks Sarah.

  4. Is there a list of known inherited diseases? It could prove helpful.
    Not just in tracking family but alerting people to check for diseases they are suffering from.

  5. Madien Name Place Holders: Instead of making up names I use (____). This lets me know I have an unknown name or surname, while holding the place for the correct information. If I have two names for the same person I will use the most prevelant one and place the other in quotes immediately after. Example: Polly “Jane” Martin.

  6. Maiden Name Place Holders: I do something similar except that I use the husband’s surname first, for example:
    first name: Sally
    last name: [JONES, wife of John]
    so that in the index the wife is alphabetized with her husband – makes finding her even easier

  7. Maiden Name Place Holders: I just use the spouse’s known surname and append -Unknown to it for a placeholder. For example, for John and Jane Doe, Jane becomes Jane Doe-Unknown. It doesn’t convey as much info as Jane wifeofjohndoe, but this way she shows up my database index with the Doe’s, which is convenient and makes it quick to find her, as opposed to having all of the unknown wives showing up near the end of the index under “wifeof…”.

    I do the same with unknown men, although that problem is less frequent. When someone tells me Jane Smith married John I-never-learned-his-last-name, I used to list John as John Unknown-Smith, in keeping with the format -. However, now I use John Smith-Unknown just to keep his name near hers in the database index.

  8. Maiden Name Place Holders – What a wonderful tip. I’m an old hand at genealogy, nearly 40 years at it and I never thought of that. Thanks to Sarah for sharing!!

  9. Thank you to Ralph Bridges for his information on inherited diseases – the article is very helpful, and so appreciated; what experiences his wife and he, and all of his family have been through. It looks like things are finally improving!

  10. In reference to backup exchange. I am researching eight different family lines. Although I don’t really “exchange” backup files, if I have new information about a family, once a month I send an updated family line to anyone who has helped me (at any time) with information for that family line. But only if they have an email address.

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