Gedcoms and Starting a “new” family tree on

One of my questions as a beginning genealogist was, “What is a Gedcom?”  It is simply a transfer vehicle file to share your family tree from one database to another.   They do not transfer pictures.  Again something on my list to do.  Each database or software will have different steps to   create and import your family tree.  Geoff clearly shows what is needed to do a Gedcom from to

Geoff’s MyHeritage experiment post #1 – starting my tree

There is an online genealogy service that for years I dismissed. I already have my data in Legacy Family Tree software AND manage a research-in-progress tree at both FamilySearch and Ancestry – do I really need my data in yet another tree? This is what I thought before viewing Mike Mansfield’s excellent webinar, “7 Unique Technologies for Genealogy Discoveries at MyHeritage.” Afterwards my opinion completely changed. I was impressed both with Mike as a speaker and with their technology. About a year later I published the “Top 20 Webinars of All Time” list, and was shocked to see that this class came in at number three – of all time! And now that MyHeritage has entered the DNA community, I’ve decided that they deserve more of my genealogical time and a solid look.

This post is the first of a series where I will investigate and report on my use and impressions of each of the “seven unique technologies” that Mike introduced.

  1. Smart Matching
  2. Record Matches
  3. Newspaper & Free-Text Matching
  4. Record Detective
  5. Instant Discoveries
  6. SearchConnect
  7. Global Name Translation

Combined with the other two MyHeritage-related webinars…

…I have become very impressed with their technology. As with any other genealogy technology, when I learn a little of its potential, I try to make time for a thorough investigation. Previous investigations have resulted in my support and love for tech like AniMap, Google Photos, Flip-Pal, and GoToWebinar. Now it’s MyHeritage’s turn. Either I’ll like it or I won’t, and I look forward to giving you my honest opinions of what I learn.

In this first post, I will describe my thought and decision making process as I determine how I will use the site. Initial questions I have include:

  • Should I just use their search form to see if I get any matches in their trees or records, or like Mike suggested, should I first upload my tree to take advantage of their automated searching?
  • If I do upload my tree, should I upload my entire tree or just the branches I am currently researching?
  • How does MyHeritage protect my privacy?
  • What about DNA? Will they let me import the raw results of the DNA tests I’ve completed elsewhere? If so, is their pool of testers large enough to be of any value to me?

How Should I Start?

In a previous MyHeritage-related webinar I uploaded a GEDCOM that I created from Legacy to demonstrate how the process worked. It was simple. But because I am beginning my serious investigation into their site, want to begin fresh, and to be able to demonstrate for you the steps involved, I’ve gone ahead and removed anything I previously shared.

Next is the decision of “how should I start my tree?” The Family Tree tab at MyHeritage shows that I can manually start a new tree or import a GEDCOM.


Since my time is valuable and because I already have my data in Legacy, I’ve decided to create and import a GEDCOM into their system. Should I import all 23,702 individuals, or should I import just the ancestors I am actively researching? A few minutes go by…I’ve decided to import my entire family file for this reason – DNA. Although I do not yet know anything about their DNA services, with my experience at other DNA sites, I’ve learned that the more I share the more genetic matches I find.

Good, another decision made. This is way easier than all the decisions I’m making about the new house we are building.


Since the file I will upload will contain information about my living family, I’d better check out MyHeritage’s privacy policy. Hopefully they give me complete control over what is public and private. Reading their privacy policy here has given me the confidence that I can share my personal information without fear of it becoming public. I’ve pasted a portion of their policy below.

The user decides to what degree information on the family tree and other information from the family site will be visible to and discoverable by other users, by setting the Privacy Preferences (described in a detailed section below). The user decides whether to build the family tree on the Website on his/her own, or to make it a collaborative effort by inviting family members to assist, using facilities available on the Website for inviting members. If other members are invited, they make similar choices on entering information into the family tree. All information is entered into the Website directly and is not collected implicitly. The Website prevents information on living people from being disclosed to strangers, to protect privacy, and such information if entered will not be visible outside the family site or discoverable by search engines such as Google. It is often useful however to allow deceased people entered into the family tree to be visible to and searchable by other people, to allow one’s distant relatives to discover it.

The personal information that you and other users enter is stored in the Website only for the purpose of delivering the Service to you and the other users, i.e. displaying the family tree, printing the family tree, searching historical records, and other genealogy features.

Creating the GEDCOM file

The first step is to create the GEDCOM file. This is done in Legacy Family Tree. Follow the steps below.

1. Go to File >  Export > GEDCOM file


To change WHO you will include in the file, click on the Record Selection button. To change any privacy settings for whom you will export, click on the Privacy Options button. I’m going to leave things as they are because of my reasoning above.

2. Click the “START EXPORT” button in the upper right, select the location (the desktop is a good spot) and enter the name of the file.


1 minutes 28 seconds later:


Importing the GEDCOM into MyHeritage

1. On the Family Tree tab at, click on the Browse button, locate and select the GEDCOM you just created, and click the orange Import GEDCOM button.

20 seconds later the upload was complete (1:28pm):


Thinking this would take a while, I got up to go eat some lunch. Then Pavlov’s Theory proved true once again – I got the email notification sound on my phone which meant I immediately checked my inbox. It was just one minute later that I received the following:


Wow, that was quick.

Clicking the link took me to my tree where the first thing I noticed was the balloons – it’s my son’s 15th birthday in 12 days. Thanks for the reminder!


Tree Settings

I next went to the Tree Settings page to make sure that the privacy settings are what I expected them to be.


Since I’m not certain what a “site member” is yet, I’m going to turn off the ability for site members to “download the family tree file” and for now I’m going to change the permissions so I am the only person who can edit the family tree.

Privacy Settings

The privacy settings are on its own page.


The first option of “include family tree in MyHeritage historical search engines” concerned me as I do not want any living individuals in my tree to be searchable. Hovering over the little information icon, it explained that only deceased individuals will be searchable and viewable to others.

So far so good.


At this point, I am comfortable with my tree and its privacy settings. It was easy to upload and the resulting tree looks appealing and easy to navigate. If I never do any more with MyHeritage, at the very least, I now have another backup of my entire tree just in case. I took a quick peek at the Discoveries page to see if it had found any Smart Matches or Record Matches yet. It hadn’t, but I didn’t expect it to be that quick. I’ll check back in a few days to see what it has found for me.

What’s Next

Coming up next, I will report on the first of the seven unique technologies from the webinar – Smart Matches. Stay tuned.

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Once again Legacy and Geoff are educating us in this activity of family search. Recently at our local Family History Centre Conference I was able to watch a video that could also add to this topic.

For anyone else looking to expand options (yet another backup….) this is worth looking at from

Sunny Morton
Big 4: Comparing Ancestry, findmypast, FamilySearch and MyHeritage

Wonderful Resource – Stephen P. Morse’s One-Step Webpages

Vicki’s note –    Take the time to explore Stephen P.   Morse’s One-Step Webpages.  He makes shortcuts to access several resources for Genealogy, etc.  You will want to go to his website 

to see all of his valuable links to  many sites, especially Ellis Island and Castle Garden.           Or you can click on the green links below to each subject.

         One-Step Webpages


                Stephen P. Morse

This site contains tools for finding   immigration records, census records, vital records, and for dealing with calendars, maps, foreign alphabets, and numerous other applications. Some of these tools fetch data from other websites but do so in more versatile ways than the search tools provided on those websites.

About this Website and how to use it

AtoZ databases at Beloit Public Library- Updated Features

AtoZ databases at Beloit Public Library- Updated Features

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

AtoZ databases is the phone/address/jobs/businesses/address history database the Library pays for.

Useful for recent/living genealogy family searches.

You can send hundreds of emails from there for family reunions etc.

Link is on “” homepage and BLOG “Genealogy Links and Electronic Helps” tab.  For Beloit Public Library card-holders only.


AtoZ databases has some new features – you can save your search, and there is a “news” feature button about the businesses.


They give pre-scheduled 20 – 40 minutes training sessions on-line at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Mondays are general training; Wednesdays are job searching, Fridays are How to Grow a Business.

They also have video training on the site at all times.

Other Travelers, Part 8 – Dogs Are Some of the Best People; And Me

Other Travelers, Part 8 – Dogs

Are Some of the Best People; And Me

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn, SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

Part of an On-going Series

March 7, 2017

 If you are lucky enough to have been “owned” by a dog, you will understand this Posting.  If not, you will still find some helpful genealogy hints.  The American Kennel Club has been doing “family histories” of registered purebred dogs for decades.  While I was saying goodbye to our sweet 13 3/4 year old “Georgie Corgi”, I (re)discovered her AKC certified pedigree papers.

Hint – Look at documents with open eyes to draw conclusions.  The paperwork showed that the official spelling is Corgi, not Corgie.  It also showed that the original owner had the same first name, and different last name than was on my sales receipt for Georgie.  The first person lived in Arkansas with Georgie (Georgie Lou Ana), and her mother (dam)Vicious Emily “Vice”  and father (sire) Charming Prince Louie, a year before I met them.  That indicates to me that the owner remarried (or took back her maiden name) and moved with her dogs to the farm near Beloit Wisconsin.

I got to meet Georgie’s last puppy before he was shipped off to his new California owners.

Hint – don’t get set on your ancestors being only in one place.  They could be residents in several states, as they move around.

Here are photos given to me of Georgie as a puppy.

2003 Georgie 1

 2003 Georgie upside down

 She loved to be upside down; and high up – on the couch back, or the dining room table!

I was able to “Adopt” (buy) my Pembroke Welsh Corgi for a discounted price at 1  1/2 years old.  Don’t worry, Georgie was not a “puppy mill” dog, but one of a few well-loved dogs who lived on a farm, and part of a part-time hobby raising Corgis.  She was the owner’s favorite puppy and the best example of a Corgi that I have ever seen.  Georgie had her first litter of 3 puppies, but one died. Georgie had to have a c-section, be neutered, and could not be shown or bred anymore. 

 Her paperwork was  inside of a plastic sleeve covered with vaccination stickers. I pulled the papers out to uncover Georgie’s exact date of birth – May 11, 2003. I also had not noticed the rest of Georgie’s name, nor her dam’s and sire’s name until I looked again. Now I know where my dog got her spitfire spirit – ‘Vice”, besides being a Corgi. Hint – go back to the paperwork that you already have, to see new clues.

I got Georgie to keep my older Golden Retriever/Yellow Lab mutt Gentle Ben company.  He came on the trip, to approve.  My older children, grandchildren, and extended family also became very close to them, as both dogs were children-lovers, soft, and knew how to grin.  They came with their already fitting names, big grins, and bonded with their large human “pack”.

 I even found a photo of Georgie’s sire, and complete family pedigrees of her dam and sire.             Hint – look a little further; someone in your extended family may have already done a lot of the same family history that you are searching for.  It is worth reviewing so that you can verify the links.  Some may be wrong, but some may give you good clues.  You may just need to update and continue the pedigree charts. Hint –  Look for first name patterns to see family connections.  i.e. The middle name of children may be the Mother’s maiden name. 

Georgie pedigree

 Old photos of ancestors are priceless.  Hint – make contact with your extended relatives in other lines of the family to see what they might have to share.   I received some new old photos from a third cousin, found with DNA through  I had not even thought of that line of the family as cousins.

 2003 Charming Prince Louie

Here is a photo of Gentle Ben, also smiling.

 Gentle Ben smiling

Hint – My best clues for organizing and dating my older mixed up photographs have been – the ages of the family children, and the style of hair, clothes and eyeglasses; and which pets did we own when.  My Mom, Daisy, even remembered the name of the pet dog “Buster” that was in an 81 year photo of her as a child.  She also knew that dog did not come with them from the farm to town.  Older folks may be able to identify old photos by very old memories, even if they don’t remember current events so well.

I gave a children’s sermon once, showing the children that photo of “God” smiling.  I acted confused that God was not spelled “dog”.  Dogs are some of the best people because they “hound” us – never stop following, and looking over, us.  They are happy fur-folks who give us concentrated, un-conditional love for the short time that they “own” us. 

Dogs sure know how to enjoy life, rolling in the essences.  Their hearing is more acute than humans can comprehend – hence good watch dogs.  Their sense of smell is highly superior – Georgie could smell that Gentle Ben had cancer, well before I knew.  Dogs love to play for no reason.  Georgie (and Ben) continued to play, and please us, enjoying even their old age.

We could tell that Georgie was really slowing down the last couple of months.  She tried to continue taking shorter walks, but was breathing hard, even just to walk short distances.  Her favorite hobby was sleeping, when it used to be walking for miles.  We just kept praising and loving her. 

Hint – enjoy your elders, and spend lots of time with them.  Ask them to share their memories, and the stories of their lives and of your ancestors.  We never know when they will pass away.

The last couple of days, Georgie came to me and stared deeply into my eyes.  I have had her do so many times before.  She tried to do the Vulcan mind-meld – it was her way to tell me when she wanted to go out, or that her water dish was empty, or that she needed a rub and hug, or to tell me it was time to go to bed when I was addictively continuing to look for just one more genealogy hint on the computer. 

 But I have never had the intensity of her look like she “told” me then.  All other needs were met; she just wanted to give me extra loving, and be reassured. And now I know, Georgie was telling me that she knew she would be leaving soon; goodbye.  

 Georgie was considerate, and thinking of her humans, to the very end.  I found Georgie dead (of a heart attack?) the next morning on the plastic in front of her kennel, after she had “put me to bed”, and got up from her sleeping pillow by our bed .  Finding her has been harder on me than “putting down” Gentle Ben.  Gentle Ben had been more concerned about me crying, than of his own pain.  “Mom, it’s o.k.; are you alright?  I forgive you.”  Either way, it surprises me, and my husband, how hard it is to lose a pet.  But totally worth their keep.

 Dogs tell their love with their eyes, and I know that I am very special because Georgie and Gentle Ben told me so.  How very lucky we are to have that special confirmation from someone (human or fur baby).

Hint – this is one small reason that we “do” family history – to feel that connection to a part of ourselves, that is not ourself.  To have the grounding into who we are. 

So here is the genealogy joke: Whether we are “mutts” or “purebreds”, only means – is it more challenging ,or less, to track our ancestor’s journeys?

Overcoming Genealogy Brick Walls – 30 Hints

Vicki’s Note – article from Family Tree Magazine.  I have used several of these hints, and learned some new ones.   What hints do you have to share with the rest of us?:


Overcoming Genealogy Brick Walls – 30 Hints

Big Breakthroughs: 30 Ways to Overcome Genealogy Brick Walls
Find out how 30 family historians hurdled their research brick walls and achieved genealogical success.
Ever wonder how you got stuck with such a difficult family tree to climb? Your ancestry research is constantly running into roadblocks and brick walls. Meanwhile, it seems other genealogists are tracing their roots back to the Middle Ages!

Don’t worry: All family historians get genealogy research block sooner or later. And you don’t have to be biologically blessed to break through it. Take a hint from these 30 Family Tree Magazine readers. They came up with creative solutions to some of the most common genealogical conundrums—and their methods are remarkably easy to employ. Give your research a boost by adopting these habits of highly successful family historians.

1. Don’t miss the mark.

I had no record of my grandfather’s birthplace in Poland. One day I was cleaning out my mother’s dresser drawer and going through her stamp collection, when I came across an envelope with a canceled stamp from Poland. It was from a relative of my grandfather, with whom he’d corresponded in the early 1900s. The town in Poland, Brzozow, was clearly printed on the postmark—much easier for me to decipher than Polish script. Deb Vevea, Robbinsdale, Minn.

2. Map it out.

The US Geological Survey’s highly detailed topographical maps cover small areas and label creeks, family cemeteries, tiny rural churches and more. They’re available in many libraries, or you can view and order them online. Many libraries also have a comprehensive index to the names on these maps, the Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America. In it, I found a list of 41 Jordan cemeteries across the country. Rene Jordan, Knoxville, Tenn.

3. Get on target.

Copy and enlarge a map with your town of interest in the center. Using the distance scale, draw concentric circles at regular intervals, such as 10 miles, from that town—you’ll end up with what looks like a target. Then make an alphabetized list of town names appearing within each pair of rings.

When you’re working with records, you can refer to your list and determine if a strange-sounding location might be in proximity to your area of interest. For example, it was only after doing this exercise for Tolpuddle, Dorset, England, that I realized Dewlish (about which I’d received e-mails) was actually just down the road. Jacki Keck, Williston, ND

4. Reach out to other researchers.

I believe in leaving my name, surnames I’m researching and contact information (e-mail address, mailing address and phone number) every place I can think of. I left my genealogy card on a laundry bulletin board in the small town where my great-grandmother lived, and got four phone calls with information about her. Jana Jordan Shaw, Burleson, Texas

5. Start a letter-writing campaign.

I was getting nowhere on my search for my mother’s father’s family. I found Mom’s old address book and started searching for family members. I put together an introductory newsletter with contact information, an explanation of what I was doing and a request for help. I was amazed at the replies—e-mails, letters, photos, family information and names of more relatives to send the newsletter to. Now I do a newsletter about four times a year, and still get new information and meet new relatives. It’s been a wonderful experience that’s helped fill in a lot of my blanks. Liz Weiers, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada

6. Publish your pedigree.

I’ve been researching my husband’s Welsh lines, and have been successful using the Internet, the National Library of Wales and a local Welsh archive. On trips, we’ve found ancestral homes, churches and gravestones. But I definitely hit a brick wall on a couple of lines.

A distant cousin in England signed us up for a genealogical journal that focuses on my husband’s family’s region of Wales. In the first issue, I found helpful hints but nothing too substantial, so I decided to write an article about our family. Within three weeks of its publication, I received letters from readers related to us. Not only did they provide me with ideas for new resources, they also sent pedigree charts and stories about my husband’s ancestors. Michelle Price, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.

7. Hit the big town.

Go to the city! For example, if your family was in the Midwest during the 1800s and you can’t find them, look in Chicago. Many of our ancestors were drawn to cities. They may have gone to search for work, be near relatives or the train station, or simply to sightsee.

I searched for years for my husband’s great-grandmother Margaret Culton. She was supposed to have been born in Michigan in 1860, but I could find no records for any Cultons there. I looked in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, too. A year or two ago, I went back to the 1880 Illinois census—now with its every-name index—and there she was, living with her father and mother. They had been visiting her sister’s family in Chicago—from their home in California. Cities are magnets for people, then and now. Bonnie B. Ruff, Belfair, Wash.

8. Put first names first.

When name searches on Web sites such as HeritageQuest Online (available through subscribing libraries) and don’t yield results—even though you’ve tried every spelling you can think of—try typing just a first name, plus a place and/or time period. I did this on HeritageQuest Online and found the mistranscribed and misspelled names of two ancestors who had eluded me for a long time. Donna Carnall, Cherryvale, Kan.

9. Read all about it in newsletters.

Look for newsletters of schools, universities, synagogues, churches and communities—you may find birth, marriage, Bat Mitzvah and Bar Mitzvah announcements, obituaries, donor lists, oral histories and photographs. Alumni lists in school newsletters often contain graduation years and maiden names. To find online newsletters with your surnames, use a web search engine such as Google. The advanced search can help narrow your results by location.

If you don’t come up with an online newsletter, get the names of local organizations and publications from your search, and visit a nearby library or archive—it may hold documents from churches, clubs, schools and business associations in the area. Teresa Milner, New York, NY

10. Locate material witnesses.

A witness’s signature can be important to your research. On my great-great-grandmother’s Confederate States of America widow’s pension application, her oldest, as-yet-unidentified daughter appears as a witness. With that name, I launched a web and phone-directory search for the area. I found two different families who knew they were kin but didn’t know how. Then I took the witness’s surname to the library where these families lived and read every genealogical society newsletter on file.

In one newsletter, a researcher from Colorado referred to the married surname of my pension-application witness. I wrote her, and a few months later, she sent Bible pages that listed all my great-great-grandparents’ children, except my great-grandfather—which was OK because I already knew all about him. Shirley Bray, Oklahoma City, Okla.

11. Follow the patterns.

I look for families’ first-name patterns and for first names that are family surnames. Such patterns provide clues to female relatives’ families, as it often was customary to give a male child his mother’s maiden name. I’ve also found that in some cases, a daughter was given the mother’s maiden name. Jeri Taylor, Morehead, Ky.

12. Focus on the effect, not the cause.

Many people spend a lifetime searching for their ancestors’ naturalization records, and they never find them. I thought this would happen to me until I stumbled across a solution. My research subject, Manuel E. Rencurrell, was a longtime resident of Boston. I’d searched every available naturalization index to no avail.

I decided that instead of looking for the cause, naturalization, I’d look for the effect, voting. I requested Manuel’s voter-registration records and received his voter card. This proved that he’d become a citizen—and his date of naturalization and the court where it happened were on the card. P. Emile Carr, Palm Coast, Fla.

13. Seek neighborly advice.

In 20th-century city directories, you’ll often find a cross-street index—an excellent resource for finding living relatives. This index is arranged alphabetically by street, then by the address numbers of houses, apartments and businesses. It also gives the residents’ names. You can use a cross-street index to find names of people living next-door to an ancestor—if they still live there, they still may remember your relatives. David Powell, Grand Prairie, Texas

14. Go slow and steady.

I knew an approximate date of birth (1809) for my ancestor and a rough location (Alsace, France). I ordered birth records on microfilm for one city at a time for all the cities in that area, and searched each one. All on one birth record, I found my ancestor’s information, plus his parents’ and grandparents’. Sally Jaquet Roberts, Clyo, Ga.

15. Take a sound approach to place searches.

Be sure to check out variations of place names, too. My brick wall was finding my great-great-grandfather and his parents. According to his death certificate, he was from Milford, NC. I searched online and studied atlases but couldn’t find a town or county called Milford in North Carolina or surrounding states. Finally, I located a Guilford County. That name rhymes with Milford, and on census images, the handwritten Guilford looked like Milford. Sure enough, I found Great-great-grandpa and his family living there. Sherry Daniels, Garden Grove, Calif.

16. Begin again.

Start over! Would you believe a computer crash got me over my brick wall? Being forced to painstakingly re-enter all my research into a new genealogy program helped me discover unseen facts that had been at my fingertips the whole time. Facts I’d input three or more years ago (when I was too inexperienced to know what I’d found) looked entirely different when viewed with fresh, better-trained eyes. If you’ve spent more than a year barking up the same tree, try starting from scratch. Create a new file in your genealogy program (or update your software or buy a different brand) and see what information jumps out at you. Leah Ellison Bradley, Louisville, Ky.

17. Look around.

My great-great-grandfather died in Georgia while serving as a Confederate soldier during the Civil War. I searched that state’s records for years without finding his wife’s pension documents. Then I happened to search Alabama pension records for the surname Michael. That was when my great-great-grandmother’s name jumped out at me. I discovered that a Civil War pension could be obtained in a state other than the one involving the death. Coy E. Michael, Huntsville, Ala.

18. Go to the right place.

This is so simple that it boggles the mind: When searching for death certificates, remember that you will find them in the city or county where the death actually happened — not necessarily the city or county of residence. I learned this after spending several hours searching in the wrong place. Calvin Lyons, Powell, Tenn.

19. Create a timeline.

I prepare a chronology sheet for each ancestor. It includes columns for the date, a description of what happened on that date, and the source of the information. This means all the facts I’ve found about that ancestor — from vital records, census enumerations, immigration and naturalization forms, and land and probate records — are in one place. I also include the ancestor’s family members with birth, marriage and death dates, and a “still need to find” list of records I haven’t located yet. Preparing my chronology sheet forces me to take a second look at the information I’ve gathered. The long-forgotten facts I’ve rediscovered have helped me prepare my research strategy. Carole Magnuson, Lockport, Ill.

20. Get a little help from a friend.

I’m sometimes too close to a specific brick wall to view it objectively. So I “trade” problems with a friend. I try to find her missing information, and she tries to find mine. This brings a fresh look to a frustrating situation, and it’s fun to help someone else. Karen Seibert, Ft. Myers, Fla.

21. Find the funeral home.

Can’t find a birth certificate, but have a death certificate? Never underestimate the power of the funeral home. Our grandmother’s state of birth, but not the city, was listed on her death certificate. We searched for years to no avail. Then we called the funeral home, which fortunately was still in business, and its records contained the information we were seeking. Jean F. Joseph, Wethersfield, Conn.

22. Browse the records.

On research trips with my husband, I’ve twice made breakthroughs while browsing through records just to kill time. In one instance, I found my fourth-great-grandfather’s parents, who had eluded me for 30 years. Unfortunately, my ancestor’s given name, John, was popular in his family, making him difficult to distinguish from other relatives.

I’d already searched an old hotel register — one so delicate, it had to be placed on pillows before I could open it — for John’s signature. It was there, containing his middle initial S, as usual. As my husband continued his research, I casually looked through the rest of the register to see if John had stayed at the hotel any other times. He surely had, signing each time with the familiar S. Then I saw an entry in which an associate of John’s had signed for him — and included John’s full middle name. That middle name opened the doors in my brick wall. Not only was it his father’s name, but it also was his great-grandmother’s maiden name.

This new information led me to his father’s will and the verification that this was the family I sought. Three-plus generations came from this one instance of browsing in a leisurely manner, rather than immediately zeroing in on a particular point. Evelyn Naranjo, Rockville, Md.

23. Read all about it in newsletters.

Look for newsletters of schools, universities, synagogues, churches and communities — you may find birth, marriage, Bat Mitzvah and Bar Mitzvah announcements, obituaries, donor lists, oral histories and photographs. Alumni lists in school newsletters often contain graduation years and maiden names. Search the web to find online newsletters with your surnames. The advanced search can help narrow your results by location. If you don’t come up with an online newsletter, get the names of local organizations and publications from your search, and visit a nearby library or archive — it may hold documents from churches, clubs, schools and business associations in the area. Teresa Milner, New York, NY

24. Get your message across.

I’ve solved my two highest brick walls by posting a current family tree on genealogy message boards. Shortly after posting a tree with what little information I had on my natural maternal grandfather, I received an e-mail from a descendant of my grandfather’s sister Ethel’s husband. The e-mailer wasn’t a blood relative of Ethel’s, but he had the family Bible. In it were complete dates and places of births and deaths — plus my great-grandmother’s maiden name. With all this new information, I was able to track backward using census data.

This led me to other family trees people had posted, along with source information. It turns out my great-grandmother descended from Frances Cooke of the Mayflower, along with other early settlers of this country. I was able to follow other family lines several generations back, as well. Mark Grosser, Lancaster, Calif.

25. Send updates.

Giving your family periodic updates is one of the most important things you can do as you research your family history. Your latest discovery may spark a relative’s memory, and she’ll recall new information for you. I’ve found this to be the case time after time in my own family. Ann Mohr Osisek, Maitland, Fla.

26. Look beyond family lore.

Census records told me my great-great-grandfather was from Hesse-Darmstadt in Germany, but I couldn’t find anything more specific. His hometown wasn’t on any of the usual sources, such as his declaration of intent or his death certificate, and I couldn’t locate his naturalization papers. Family tradition held that he wasn’t a churchgoer, which ruled out church records.

But while reading family obituaries, I noticed that a daughter-in-law had been a member of a German-speaking church. With nowhere else to look, I went to that church. I pored over the records, which were written in German, and was elated to find christening records for two of my great-great-grandfather’s sons.

And then — there it was! The church’s minister had conducted my ancestor’s funeral service, and the record book identified the German village where he was born. Family tradition isn’t always accurate. Dianne Beetler, Bloomington, Ill.

27. Work sideways with siblings.

Don’t forget “side doors.” Sometimes you have to find your own ancestors through their siblings. While searching online for my maternal great-grandfather, I found summaries of his death certificate along with his brother’s. I ordered copies and between the certificates learned different versions of my great-great-grandfather’s name. My ancestor’s certificate gave only their father’s nickname; his brother’s gave the given name. Using this information, I was able to find the family in several census records and in court documents. One of the court documents was a will, which added another generation — my third-great-grandfather. From that point, I’ve been able to trace several family lines back to Virginia. Sylvia Nash, Paris, Tenn.

28. Try another time frame.

I couldn’t find my in-laws’ marriage record at the county courthouse. No one in the family knew when they were married or even where the ceremony took place. I followed a hunch that the wedding occurred fewer than nine months before their first child was born. At a local museum in their hometown, I searched the weekly newspaper for a wedding notice. Sure enough, I found an announcement, so back to the courthouse I went. I found their marriage license there, even though it wasn’t listed in the index. The wedding didn’t take place on the date the newspaper reported, but a few days earlier. Cynthia Rhoades, Hagerstown, Ind.

29. Search on the place.

I did an Internet search for the little village from which my parents and grandparents emigrated. I couldn’t believe it when I turned up the Web site of an organization for people who had lived there. I had tried various spellings of the name (Hungarian, German and Romanian versions), and finally found it. Since then, I’ve connected with second cousins who have given me invaluable help, as has the organization. Rose Mary Hughes, West Henrietta, NY

30. Scout out surrounding plots.

While at the cemetery, check around your ancestors’ graves for other family members. I found an ancestor’s mother-in-law’s grave, and on that stone was the maiden name. Beth Green, Jenison, Mich.

Thomas MacEntee’s Password System

Vicki’s Note – Dec, 2016 article and free Guide download on how to remember unique passwords secure enough.  I would not follow Thomas MacEntee’s exact method since he has shared it widely.  Hacking is getting to be a real problem – as they say not if, but when:



FREE Guide: The Password Trick – A Foolproof System to Remember Passwords

Did you see the 60 Minutes segment last night on credit card security and passwords? Click here to view the segment – it should be an eye opener for anyone with a credit card especially if you shop online. The culprit in 90% of hacked accounts? A weak password!

So don’t get let your accounts get hacked – change your password now and use a STRONG password. By the way, 123456 is NOT a strong password. Nor is the name of your pet or a child’s name. I’ve come up with an easy way to create a strong password AND to remember it! In fact, my system works so well, that you can have a different password for each website and still remember it 99% of the time. Don’t believe me? Click here to download The Password Trick – A Foolproof System to Remember Passwords – it is your FREE guide (PDF) for December!

Try out my system and let me know how it works for you!

Popular Genealogy Shows -“Who Do You Think You Are” & “Long Lost Family” return in March to TLC

Vicki’s Note – “Who Do You Think You Are?” – One of My Favorite Shows is returning – per Family Tree Magazine article by Diane Haddad.  That and another new show, “Long Lost Family” may be available to watch for free on TLC – per  I don’t have Cable TV, so maybe the cable-less can still see these shows.  Let me know if any of you have success in viewing these shows through cellular telephone service. :

Popular Genealogy Shows -“Who Do You Think You Are” & “Long Lost Family” return in March to TLC


“Who Do You Think You Are?” Announces
Premiere Date & Celebrity Lineup

The family history TV show “Who Do You Think You Are?” is returning soon to TLC , with a new host of celebrities ready to dive into their genealogy. Visit the Genealogy Insider blog to see when you can catch the premiere and who’s starring this season (that’s Julie Bowen from “Modern Family” in the picture to the left).  Read More…

Ancestry is proud to support Long Lost Family and Who Do You Think You Are?
Watch Sundays on TLC
Watch two powerful shows on one special night.
Join TLC on Sunday evenings for riveting new episodes of Long Lost Family—and an all‑new season of Who Do You Think You Are? where your favorite celebrities embark on journeys of self‑discovery.
Discover the shows
Ancestry makes discoveries possible for these inspiring shows.
Long Lost Family and Who Do You Think You Are?

ABOUT TLC Television Shows

  • What is lets you watch live streams and full episodes from TLC in HD on the web, your smartphone or tablet. You can also download our mobile app, TLC Go, on the App Store or on Google Play.
  • What content is included?You can watch current episodes from TLC.
    Additionally, the app and website include a live stream, so you can watch live TV whenever and wherever you want.
  • Do I have to sign-in or subscribe to a package from a TV provider to watch full episodes?For most episodes, yes. But a selection of episodes is available without signing in. We frequently update what episodes we offer without signing in, so check back if your favorite series isn’t included right now.
  • Who is my TV Provider?Your TV provider is the cable, satellite or telecommunications company that you pay a monthly subscription fee to in order to receive Discovery’s television networks.
  • Can I watch videos when I am not connected to the Internet?No, sorry, you must be connected to the Internet to enjoy
  • Can I watch over a cellular connections?You will have the best experience watching via a wireless connection, but will work on cellular services.

AtoZ databases at Library

Vicki’s note – email I received 2/22/17 about the phone/address/jobs/businesses/address history database the Library pays for.  Useful for recent/living genealogy family searches.  You can send hundreds of emails from there for family reunions etc.  Link is on “” homepage and BLOG “Genealogy Links and Electronic Helps” tab.

AtoZ databases has some new features – you can save your search, and there is a “news” feature button for a business.

They give pre-scheduled 20 – 40 minutes training sessions on-line at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.  Mondays are general training; Wednesdays are job searching, Fridays are How to Grow a Business.

They also have video training on the site at all times.

AtoZdatabases URL change


Hello everyone,

AtoZdatabases has recently performed a security upgrade to provide you with the best internet security when using AtoZdatabases.   We would like to request that you update the URL for AtoZdatabases to    This will improve your security and access reliability.  Additionally, it will allow your patrons to see the green lock box in their browser when using AtoZdatabases, giving your users the reassurance that the site is secure.   Please feel free to call us with any questions or assistance that you might need.  Thanks much!

Christine Smailys

Sales Manager

CAGGNI- Allen County Library Trip

Vicki’s Note – here is a reply from CAGGNI to my inquiry about the possibility of Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library members joining them on their road trip to Allen County Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

I am still exploring possibilities, with my Library managers, of how I can be involved as Administrator of the Club – possible fund-raising, going, etc.  I wanted you all to have the following information, even if I end up not being able to be involved, so that you can plan to go as individuals.

I will keep you informed as I learn more.




Hello Vicki, ( Stateline Genealogy Club Beloit Public Library)

Thank you for inquiring about our up-coming road trip. We will be going June 15th -June 17th. I have set up a orientation with the library on Friday morning and they will have more staff to accommodate our group.

We will be having a speaker Sandra Trapp at the Schaumburg Library on April 22 , 10:00 AM  to help us with our searches prior to arriving.

CAGGNI has secured rooms at the Hilton in Fort Wayne for the the trip ( when you register you will be giving the information code). We are also in the process of getting reservations to a restaurant on Friday as a group.

I have done a survey and there is about 40 people and guests interested in going from CAGGNI. We also will be trying to help people ride share and room share. The cost of the Hilton is $136.. per night and it includes parking and breakfast. It is walking distance from the library. The Library, charges for parking $1.00 an hour and $7.00 per day.

We will be going over the library rules prior to the trip at the meeting on April 22., this is why we ask that guests are with a CAGGNI member.

You can join CAGGNI for $25.00 per year or contact us to have someone sponsor a guest.  Anyone going on this trip will be getting a name tag to be worn at the library as part of the group.

The cost of the trip is $10.00 for CAGGNI members and $15.00 for Guests.

The money for the fee of the trip goes toward registration forms and laminated maps and agenda(Trip at a Glance). .We give the library $100.00 gift from this.

If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me.

Martha Marti Gustafson

Road Trip Charperson CAGGNI

(CAGGNI) planning a road trip to Allen County Public Library on June 15 -17, 2017

Vicki’s note – (CAGGNI) Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois is planning a road trip to Allen County Public Library on June 15 -17, 2017.  This is a genealogist’s destination archival library.  There are other postings about Allen County Public Library on the BLOG, as this Library accepts anything genealogy from anyone throughout the country, and uses volunteers to organize it into a usable form for all to use.  Then they keep a copy and give back a finished volume to the donor.  The Library has a huge collection, hence the overnight stay to get a full days’ research at the Library.   

Various Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library members have shown interest in taking a BIG road trip to this Library.  I will look into the possibly of what we can do, as it would be more feasible to go in conjunction with a bigger group, than on our own.  Stay tuned for more information as I learn more.







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