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As you gather information, here is how to make the written info on an ancestor’s birth more interesting.

Basic information:

Nan M. Everhart was born Aug. 9, 1915 in Frederick, Maryland to Dr. David G. Everhart and Eva Bixler Everhart.

Yes, all the basic data is there but it is dull. Here is an example of how to add to the birth info.

On a Monday, August 9, 1915, Nan M. Everhart, the first born daughter and second child was born to Dr. David G. Everhart, Sr., age 24, a local dentist and his wife, Eva Bixler Everhart, age 24. The daughter was named for one of Dr. Everhart’s aunts. The couple had married on November 23, 1911 in Manchester, Maryland where the couple had grown up. Their first child was a son, named David G. Everhart Jr., and born Sept. 9, 1912 in Manchester. For his dental practice, Dr. Everhart established himself in Frederick, Maryland before 1915. Some of the news in the local “The News” of Frederick included about the war in Europe. 

As you see just adding the increased information of the ancestor’s parents and siblings make the birth story more interesting. Anything known about where the family lived and the father’s occupation adds to the birth story. The best is to have written where a given name came from. 

Try it, write a paragraph about when your ancestor was born. Don’t worry that it’s not a gripping story with rich details of the weather, setting, and so on. That can come later, if you so choose. Use any local newspaper articles available to enrich what was happening in that town the day your ancestor was born.

Photos: Baby Nan Everhart and her parents, David and Eva.

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An often overlook resource are the county history books and pamphlets done in the late 19th century and early 20th century. There was a big push for counties to record their history and include the local residents who helped establish the county. The former Confederate states of the south were the only ones to have the fewest county’s devote their efforts to writing their history.

Using the ‘Genealogy Branches‘ online site for county histories there just might be some unknown information about your ancestors from a specific county. Again, there might not be available a history book on your family’s home county.

The site has the states listed with what is listed. Some sources have a general title such as for Florida with its Heritage Collection of Florida Counties. Some states also have biographies for its leading citizens along with obituaries.

If you were looking about Butler Co., Kansas there is a wonderful write-up covering all aspects of that county and its citizens, written in 1883. Another good one is Cook County in Wisconsin for the late 19th century.  

Your ancestral county might not be on the list but you should try contacting the county’s local museums and historical societies for any histories they may own. Checking with those local county museums is good just to see if they have photos, news articles or information of specific families you are searching. Reminder, counties over the years did change and join other counties.

Photos: Harry Smith of Forsyth Co., Montana; and Illustration of Philip Arman of Cook Co., Wisconsin.

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There is so much to be careful of when doing the research and then compiling your findings on your ancestral tree. Here are a a few examples of ordinary errors to avoid.

At first, you might think you have found a surname spelling mistake. Instead, it is more likely Alternate Spellings for given and surnames. Over a generation or moving to another location, families prefer another spelling of the family name or even a person’s given name. An example is a female given name of ‘Nannie’ could be changed to ‘Nan’.

Do not accept even the best sources as the info being 100% accurate. Good example is ‘widowhood’ and ‘widower-hood’. Just because someone claims to be a widow or widower, even on official records, it isn’t always the case. In reality a divorce, separation or even bigamy, a spouse might be recorded as widowed on an official record, really a common practice. This may be to handle a delicate issue, or simply to accommodate a census form that didn’t have other options.” Therefore, keep an eye out for those widows and widowers and their missing spouses who may be alive and well under their original, or new married name.

Individual’s date of births or their age at a certain time can be wrong. People lied about their actual age or birth date on many official forms, especially marriage records. In researching it can be either way, making the person younger or older. Then there is the problem that there were no official birth records, common over a hundred years ago. If not written in the family Bible, people could be truly unsure when they were born. So just beware and get as many sources with correct birth dates. 

Learn what various abbreviations mean. Record keeping has changed through time, and changes even from location to location. Consequently, not all abbreviations, even if they look the same, mean the same thing. An example is ‘NA’ might mean non-applicable, naturalized, Native American or even Navy. Double check the meaning of the abbreviations for a certain time frame and for your ancestors. 

Photos: Mistakes are a puzzle; lying about your age; mistakes on records and always search.

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Doing your ancestors’ family tree and their stories are fascinating. Yet you should also take a bit of time to get your own life story started for future generations. Wouldn’t you have loved such a document from your great grandfather – his life, trials, hardships, joys, interests, and achievements?

Take that time to write out some of your own life, everyday routines. You don’t need to do a complete family with your own stories, instead, retell incidents from your past that you’ll never forget that made your today. Here are some examples of more unusual items to include, remember you might be the only one to know this information.

Being of a specific birth order (first born, youngest, an only child, etc), how do you think it affected your up-bring?

The house you grew up in, where was it and what was it like. As a child, if the family moved a good deal, write about a few of the homes you lived in.

An important item; your biggest struggle as a youngster or young adult. Were you a non-sports person, did you have vision problems, were you shy?

Was there a family secret you discovered during your childhood or much later? How did that make you feel to uncover that secret?

Write about your best achievement; as a child, teenager, young adult and middle age adult. Provide details about that accomplishment and how you felt.

Was there a family trip or vacation you most remember? Did the family usually vacation in the same place? What was your best memory about those vacations?    The key is to get these down in writing now. They can be perfected later. 

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You may think you have everything correct as far as names, places, and dates for all the individuals on your family tree, including the extended families … but there could be some wrong information there or every individual who does not belong to your family tree. So how does that happen?

First, did you inherited a family tree or information from another relative? If so, they may not have completely verified all the names and information. Second, if you gathered the names etc. and started based on relatives living and what they recalled, what we think we know may not actually be true, especially if we are talking about the past events and people. You are dependent on peoples’ memories or even family hearsay. Yes, you can gather this information but you then need to check everything out, every detail.  

Third, either you or another researcher could have by mistake typed the wrong spelling of a name, placed the wrong state name or the wrong date. You might not catch such a mistake for years. Also if you are reading and drawing information from handwritten documents, many mistakes can be done. It is very hard to accurately transcribe handwriting, including very recent writings. A good habit is to proof your work the next day before starting a new entry.

Fourth, never depend or use only one source, no matter what that source is, including the family Bible records. I have never found a 100% foolproof source, whether it be B-M-D records, obituaries, military records, censuses, church documents, city directories, etc.

Fifth, by expanding to research not just your own direct lineage (parents-grandparents-great grandparents, etc), but the extended family members (aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts and great uncles). A good deal can be learned by researching the families of your direct lineage and helps catch any mistakes.

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MyHeritage has implemented improvements to their recently released One-to-Many Chromosome Browser. These changes were made because users requested them. Three new additions make it easier to use the Chromosome Browser pages and provide additional information about your DNA Matches.

The first improvement allows you to easily reference your comparison set at all times. The DNA Match cards will now remain docked at the top of your screen as you scroll down the page. This works on both desktop and tablet, on the page where you select your comparison set, and on the main page of the Chromosome Browser. You can now remove DNA Matches that you have already selected for comparison using the docked header.

Another improvement lets you review and contact DNA Matches right from the Chromosome Browser. Use the Chromosome Browser, and look for three dots that will appear in the upper right-hand corner of the card. Click the three dots, and a dropdown menu will appear that will give you the option to go to the DNA Match Review page for that DNA Match.

The dropdown menu also has the option to contact the DNA Match. If the DNA Match is not the manager of his or her own kit, you will have the option to contact the manager of the DNA Match’s kit. Contacting DNA Matches is free for all users.

The third improvement is the addition of an indication for triangulated segments from the DNA Match Review page. MyHeritage added an indicator for shared DNA Matches who share triangulated segments with you and the DNA Match you are reviewing.

Triangulated segments are shared DNA segments that you and two or more DNA Matches all share with each other, and therefore likely all inherited from a common ancestor.

This feature can be used on the desktop. Hover over the indicator, which looks like a triangulated segment icon. A tooltip will show you how many triangulated segments exist. The feature can take you to the One-to-Many Chromosome Browser where you, the DNA Match you were reviewing, and the shared DNA Match that you both have in common, will automatically be loaded as the comparison set.

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The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) wants to bring awareness to an amendment that could restrict your access to New York City vital records. They ask that genealogists sign a petition and register an official comment online about the amendment.

The NYG&B describes the situation this way: “In 2017, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene proposed a new rule that would affect when birth and death records are made available to the public and transferred to the Department of Records and Information Services.”

“Although we fought this proposal hard, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recently voted in March to pass the new rule – public access to birth records is now restricted to 125 years, and access to death records is now restricted to 75 years.”

“Thanks to your support in 2017, a new amendment to this rule proposed would allow more relatives access to birth and death records, but we don’t think this amendment goes far enough: These expansion still unnecessarily limit the ability for individuals to access these records for research purposes.”

The amendment proposes to expand the group of family members who can access birth and death records prior to their public release. The proposed group is within a close degree of consanguinity (blood relation) to the individual whose records are sought.

Relatives who can request a death certificate will be expanded to include: great-great grandchildren, nephews & nieces, aunts & uncles, grandnephews & grandnieces.

Relatives who can request a birth certificate of a deceased individual will be expanded to include: spouses & domestic partners, parents of children over the age of 18, children, siblings, nieces & nephews, aunts & uncles, grandchildren & great grandchildren, grandnieces and grandnephews.

The NYG&B feels that the amendment doesn’t go far enough for the following reasons:

Researchers often need to view the information on a person’s birth or death record before being able to correctly assert their relationship to that individual.

The categories exclude important family relationships. For example, the exclusion of step-relations from the list discriminates against thousands of families living in New York today. It also prevents adoptees from accessing information regarding their family history.

The amendment discriminated against non-family research. These rules may exclude entire groups and communities from having their history preserved. The greatly expanded time periods (which are among the most restrictive in the nation) prevent individuals from researching and educating others about important historical information such as military veterans, Holocaust survivors, and immigrant communities.

The deadline for sending in your comment about this amendment is April 23, 2018. Visit the NYG&B website to learn about how and where to send your comment, and to sign a petition.

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You might not have thought you could find photos of family members in a state’s, or county’s archives but it is possible. First, see what archives for a state, region or county are available. Whenever visiting any size archive (this includes Museums), always ask about their Photograph Collection. The archivist may first give you an index to look through. If you see something of interest, tell the archivist or make a written request that those particular photographs be pulled and brought to you.

When the archivist brings the photographs, do not be surprised if you are asked to wear gloves to handle them. The oils and dirt on hands can damage photographs if handled without gloves. Even though the photographs maybe contained in archival sleeves, gloves may still be required. Now that was the labeled photos. 

Do ask about any “Unidentified Photographs” in their collection. Even if you only have a rough idea of what a family branch or ancestor looked like take time to search through the unidentified photographs to see if you can identify any of the photographs. Look at the background, maybe there is a storefront, a house, a business associated with your family … big clue there. It is amazing how many unidentified photographs are given to archives for safe keeping.

Start with family hometowns, see where photos donated are kept (city hall, a museum, a genealogy society, etc) and take the time to go through those images. It could be a great treasure.

Photos: Various archives.

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Ancestry.com frequently updates their existing record collections. The best way to find what’s new is to check out the Recently Added and Updated Collections on Ancestry page. Ancestry recently updated and added church record collections.

Evangelical Records – new collections
The records in this collection consist of administrative records from Evangelical Free Church of America. Indexes have been provided for baptisms, marriages, burials, and membership records (arrivals, dismissals, and member lists) as well as congregational histories, meeting minutes, and biographical files of church leaders.

Some of the member lists may include the location in Sweden an individual or family was originally from. Records are mainly written in either English or Swedish.

U.S., Evangelical Free Church of America, Swedish American Church Records, 1800-1946

U.S., Evangelical Covenant Church, Swedish American Church Records, 1868-1970

Church of England Records – updated collections

These data collections consists of burial records from over 10,000 Church of England parish registers (including Bishop’s Transcripts) in the Greater London area, from the original registers deposited at London Metropolitan Archives as well as those formerly held by Guildhall Library Manuscripts section.

London, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-2003

The collection also includes registers of deaths and burials that occurred in workhouses operated by the Boards of Guardians. The parish registers cover the years 1813-2003, whole the Board of Guardian records covers the years 1834-1906.

London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932

Records in this collection are arranged in chronological order and contain the following information: names of spouses, fathers’ names, age, marital condition, rank or profession, Fathers’ rank or profession, residence, marriage date or dates of publication of banns, marriage place (parish and county) whether married by license or by banns.

London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812

This collection contains baptism and burial records from 1538-1812 and marriage records from 1538-1753 for more than 10,000 Church of England parish registers from parishes in the Greater London area. It also include Bishop’s Transcripts – copies of parish registers sent to the bishop of a diocese.

London, England, Church of England Confirmation Records, 1838-1923

Both the British government and the church had an interest in record keeping, and a 1538 act of Parliament required ministers in the Church of England to record baptisms, marriages, and burials. Confirmations, another church rite, have also been recorded and the confirmation registers from many parishes around London make up this database.

London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1917

This collection includes registers of births and baptisms that occurred in churches, and also in workhouses operated by the Boards of Guardians.

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We all have at least one ancestor who we believe was alive but we can not find them on a specific census year record. There can be reasons a relative was not counted on a certain census year. Here are a few of the ideas.

Many people were out of town and missed the count – especially traveling for work, such as salesmen or workers for a railroad or even circus people. It was not always family members providing the information to the census takers, much was done by landlords and landladies, who weren’t working from printed registers, and could be missed which tenants they reported.

Again it can vary over the decades, but some census counters – enumerators could have been negligence in their job. The Census Bureau calculated there might be 1% error in individuals not reported. For the 1890 census with a population of almost 63 million that would be about 600,000 individuals not counted due to negligence.  

The names were written incorrectly by the enumerators. You have had a hard enough time figuring out which way an ancestor spelled their given or surnames, well so did the enumerators. Either the relative misspelled their own name, or the census taker misunderstood what was said, the name was written down incorrectly. This made future researchers’ job much harder.

Do get all the information you can from census records with your ancestors’ name and then use city directories or state censuses, close to the missing census years.  

Photos: Machines used by 1890 census takers and census taking in 1920 and 1950.

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