Wrong Dad

In genealogy, we spend a lot of time trying to identify the unknown father of an ancestor. To celebrate Father’s Day this month, I thought I’d pick a dad from my tree and chat about how I got him wrong. 

I have some friends who became interested in family history and immediately looked for education on how to do it right, before they actually dug in. And then there are folks like me, who spent years working on our pedigree charts, more or less self-taught. Eventually, I discovered classes and conferences and webinars too, and I’ve learned a lot about genealogy best practices since those early days. I apply those standards to my research now, when I work to fill in more blanks in my family tree. But it seems I really ought to revisit some of the conclusions I came to years ago.

Case in point: the father of Magdalena Dorothea Grahling, who was born 19 Feb 1832 in Buffalo, Erie County, New York, married Michael Miller in 1848, and died there in 1883. (Hereinafter, I’ll call her Maggie to save space, though she appeared in records by several other variants.)

Continue reading

Thanks Mom

Every month, I pick a new genealogy project to focus on. Mother’s Day is celebrated in May here in the US, so I’ve decided this month I’ll work on the origins of my matrilineal line. It’s a quest that starts with family lore, searches for historical documents to support that story, and will end up exploring DNA evidence in order to draw a conclusion. 

Continue reading

Leaving a legacy

Curbside recycling is a wonderful thing… but it’s not where I want my decades of family history research to end up when I’m gone.

Genealogist Alice Hoyt Veen once described her work like this: “I ‘reconstruct forgotten lives.’ Nothing is more satisfying than the knowledge that a life, long lost to time, can be rediscovered and understood. Every life has purpose and significance. My goal is to honor those disappeared lives by recreating, preserving and sharing their memories.”.”1

I aspire to the same goals—and that means that I need to include “preserving and sharing” in my genealogy efforts. Like so many of us, I am staying at home during this pandemic crisis. Why not use some of this time to develop plans to make sure my research, discoveries, and family treasures don’t end up sitting abandoned on the curb one day?

Continue reading

Genealogy progress guaranteed

I’m a little late in posting this month, but for a very good reason! Next week I am off to the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) for a one-week immersion in a program called Meeting Standards Using DNA Evidence – Research Strategies, led by Karen Stanbury, CG. In this class, we will study methodologies and strategies to apply best practices when we want to combine DNA results with our documentary evidence to reach a conclusion. Since the first of the year, I’ve been preparing a DNA case-study-in-progress of my own to present to some of the class.

What does this have to do with guaranteed progress? And how could it help you?

Continue reading

Automated note updates with Shared Clustering

Year-end is a great time to take a look at our DNA matches and our organization/analysis tools and maybe do a little cleanup. I’ve begun playing with a free Windows-based utility by Jonathan Brecher—the Shared Clustering tool.

Now, there are a lot of clustering tools out there for those who are ready to try that—and not everyone is ready to rumble, I mean cluster. What I really appreciate about Shared Clustering right now is the automated [Note Update] function, which you can do with or without clustering. I can make my Ancestry match notes more meaningful and consistent and then bulk upload those same notes to other kits I manage too. I’ll walk you through the steps I took, and maybe you’ll get some ideas of how to tweak the process to be helpful to you.

Continue reading

boots on the ground

DNA is just one part of the bigger genealogy puzzle—genetic results can help with brick walls, but documentary evidence is essential. If you read this monthly blog for the DNA content, you may want to come back next month, because today I want to digress to talk about my recent experience with a guided research trip.

Continue reading