Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ancestry New Search Engine Revisited - Again

Damn I hate to sound like a broken record, but since early last month I have tried to be patient with the new Ancestry search engine. My patience is really starting to wear a bit thin.

So if any if you folks at Ancestry or their "volunteers" try to tell me it ain't broke and the best product you have put on the street, I have a hot flash for you. Look at the screen capture I did below and answer me how I can get a UK census result when I have checked that all I want to see the United States collection only?

Be fore warned Ancestry that from this day forward I will be documenting every stupid result I get from your "new" search engine until you folks get this nightmare you have created fixed. I will also be sending you feedback with screen capture link of every time I get a result that I did not ask for in the search.
Bottom line, I will say this to Ancestry -- your product brand is really starting to take a hit in the genealogy community. If I were you, I would really take a hard look at getting some real genealogist on your Beta test teams instead of . . . well what ever you have now cause it isn't working.

Monday, April 7, 2014

AncestryDNA Abroad

We talked about this subject in DNA class last month and now here is an answer, of sorts, from the Ancestry Insider blog.

Dear Ancestry Insider,
Will the Ancestry DNA test be available in Canada soon? Can you explain the delay, please? Thanks,  Sue

Dear Sue,

I contacted This was their reply:

There are many factors when offering a DNA test at large scale internationally. These include issues relating to international logistics and regulations, which we are reviewing. It is our hope to offer AncestryDNA internationally and we will let our members know as soon as an AncestryDNA test is available in their market.

--The Ancestry Insider

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

More Proof That Lawmakers are Stupid and Ignorant People

Put a politician in front of me and it is like waving a red cape in front of a bull. There is nothing in this world more despicable than a politician. They even give used car salesman and hookers a good name!

Hot on the heels of the "you have to be the dead person to get your death certificate in Oklahoma" debacle (see previous post), the U.S. Government has released the new guidelines to access the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). Bottom line those of us who are genealogists will not be able to get access and those that will have access (the identity thieves) will have to fork over $200. Yet another new tax levied by this feds.

You can get all the gory details on this stupid law courtesy of my friend Dick Eastman at

There was an easier and cheaper fix. While you could search for a SSN that you were looking for you just didn't need to display all the SSNs in the database for everyone in the SSDI (blank them out). That would take care of the supposed identity thief issue that this law was designed to prevent. In reality it was a way to get some more money in the treasury - just another tax and layer of bureaucracy. Can you say empire building!

Nuff said. Time tol move on to my brickwalls now.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Genealogy Editorial: Even State Law Makers Are Stupid and Ignorant People!

The home of state legislators who do not read bills -- Oklahoma State Capitol
This is something I have know for quite sometime, but now after the federal government limiting access to the SSDI debacle, I have proof that this stupidity extends down to the state legislatures as well.

Thanks to my friend Dick Eastman and his newsletter for this gem (link

I have inserted some additional thoughts in this piece that was not in Dick's original article since he is always a gentleman and diplomat about these sort of things and I'm, well, I'm a retired Navy Chief. That pretty much says it all.

Seems a professional genealogist last year tried to obtain a copy of a death record. Several years ago the boomer sooner state of Oklahoma Legislature enacted legislation that addressed vital records. That law only permitted the named person "the deceased"  to request their own death record. The law also made it a felony if a Department of Health Services employee provided the death certificate to anyone other the named person -- the person that is dead!

So let's recap this for a second. Thanks to a law passed by the Oklahoma state legislature the only person in the in Oklahoma who could request a death certificate is the person who is dead and six feet under. Truly amazing and another case of we have to pass the bill in order to figure out what is in it. I would love to know the name of the law maker who authored that bill. I have some basic life principles I would like to pass on to him/her.

In this year’s legislative session there was supposed to be amendatory legislation to address this one “glitch.” Glitch? Is that what you call stupidity? However, the legislature decided to proceed with inserting the Model Vital Records Act embargo dates for birth, marriage and death records instead.

From Dick's newsletter:

"SB 448 permits access to the death records 75 years from date of death; birth certificates 125 years from date of birth . There is no mention of marriage records in the bill. The bill still makes it unlawful to permit inspection or disclosure the information to any person other than the person who is the subject of the record unless a court of competent jurisdiction permits before the 75/125 embargo dates.

"The bill passed the Oklahoma Senate on 45-0 on March 4 and is now in the Assembly awaiting action. To read the bill as it passed the Senate go to:

"HB 3028 consolidates three departments: Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and the Oklahoma Arts Council into one agency named the Department of Tourism, History and Cultural Affairs. It is an emergency bill which would take place immediately upon enactment and the governor signing the bill into law. The bill was originally introduced as a “shell” so that it could be “filled in” at a later date.

"The Oklahoma Historical Society is essentially dissolved, along with its board of directors and a new Oklahoma Historical division is created within the new Department of Tourism, History and Cultural Affairs. To read the bill see: On February 27 it passed the Government Modernization Committee 6-5. The bill has to be scheduled for a full vote by the House. If it is not scheduled by March 13, it dies.

"The Oklahoma Historical Society has 10,000 members and the new proposed division within the Tourism, History and Cultural Affairs apparently would not have members. House Bill 3028 converts the OHS Board of Directors to an advisory group with no authority and transfer all its assets and funds to the Tourism Department. The Society has been around for 120 years."

So we fix one bit of stupidity and add even more. As Forrest Gump said, "stupid is as stupid does."

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Miss the old search at Ancestry already? Read this post for some relief of the new search blues!

Now that I have cooled off from a morning of frustration with Ancestry and their insanity, I have found a nice work around that will get you back to some of the functionality and feel of the old search that isn't half bad. Sorry Ancestry, and all those Ancestry insiders and kool aid drinkers; your new search engine still sucks and nothing you can say will change my mind. I will illustrate point that later in this post.

First, you will need to open a new browser tab and jump over to Ancestry (keep my instructions handy) in another tab and do the steps that I have outlined and illustrated below.

Next, login to your Ancestry account. Good, now per diagram below click on pull down menu next to your account name and click on the "Site Preferences" menu option (click on picture to see a closer view).

Once you are on the "Site Preferences" page scroll down the page to the menu option "Search Preferences." (see below)

Click the box then hit the orange button titled "Update Preferences." (see below)

Now it is time to go over the search tab at Ancestry and click on it. You will get a screen that looks like below. Again if you have trouble seeing the graphic, click on it and it will enlarge for you.

At the bottom of the image above next to the orange button labeled search is a link titled "Hide Advanced" and you will then see the simple search form.

Now you should start feeling a bit more comfortable with the search engine you see above. I strongly suggest that you use the "Match all terms exactly" box if you have some exact terms you want to search for. So let's see how this works. I'm going to hunt for my 4th great grandfather Aaron Redus in Mississippi where he lived the later part of his life.
First here is a view of the search results with the category tab selected.
And now here is what it looks like with the records tab selected.
All in all this is manageable, what I wanted and expected to see. Since this search engine, like the old doesn't use their "fuzzy logic" you can use wildcards (an asterisk (*) and a question mark (?) to see expanded results. The question mark takes the place of any one letter. The asterisk can be used to indicate that any letters attached to the “known” portion of the name.
Uncheck the "Match all terms exactly" box and you will be back to the horror story known as the new search engine (see below), 57,199 results for the same search I did above.

If you use the "Show Advanced" function and check the "Match all terms exactly" box I still get the same result as I did with the "Hide Advanced" function. So if you can deal with a bit more screen you might improve your search experience by using the "Show Advance" function. Just remember if that "Match all terms exactly" box is unchecked, you will get a ton of stuff.

So hopefully this will help the few of us (Ancestry says there weren't many) who used the old search. Some of their volunteers on their FB page have belittled us as old people who couldn't grasp their new search engine and were still using televisions with knobs. Uh, to that poster on the Ancestry Facebook page, does the picture of my TV below look like it has knobs?

Nope, that is a 60 inch LED. Sorry we all aren't totally illiterate who liked the old search engine. Oh yea, that was a Nikon high end digital camera that took the picture.

As always if you have questions, please feel free to drop me some email at the address in the masthead and I will do what I can. If you are a student of mine in either Tuesday or Thursday nights classes, I will be in a bit early to address your questions in class.

Ancestry has ticked me off today again!

Well Ancestry has killed off the old search and all their defenders are on the FB page belittling those of us who don't like it. I will address that in a separate post at some point here on my blog.

But I don't want this to be a total downer (it is a pretty day today for a change) so here is something that will put a smile on your face for sure (Gayle is still giggling).

Without comment here is a real tombstone from a Baptist church cemetery in Nova Scotia, Canada (Find A Grave Memorial# 74715644)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Last Chance for DNA Class Signup

Just a quick note here to remind you folks who are local that time is running out to sign up for our Genetic Genealogy DNA 101 class that starts Tuesday evening, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. in Enloe Building room 133 on the Tri-County Community College Peachtree campus. Cost is reasonable -- $15 for a four week class.

One of the things that has amazed me with my autosomal DNA test is the amount of pedigree collapse I have seen in my own results that has resulted in much deeper matches than one would expect. Since I have had my dad tested and this is where my Virginia lines are the longest and most tangled, I am getting many lines proven thanks to this phenomena of pedigree collapse.

Pedigree collapse and DNA testing are just one of the areas I will be covering in my class next week.

I have also been looking at my double Clark ancestor lines back to Michael Clark (b. ca 1620 in England and died 1678 in Barbados) who married Margaret from England. This has resulted in many deep matches for my dad and I in our autosomal DNA test results thanks to pedigree collapse. I'm also really interested in the grandfather of Michael, John Clark, who some say was the Master Mate and Pilot on the ship who brought the pilgrims into Massachusetts and died in Jamestown in 1623 during an Indian attack. he would have been hanging around my other two Jamestown ancestors Nicholas Martiau and William Cole. But that is something that needs a lot more research work before I can get things firmed up.

Again hope to see you folks Tuesday night.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Use Google Books to Get Free Copies of Pages of Family History Library Books

And the news gets better from Salt Lake.

Free copies of pages from books at Salt Lake. By

Family History Library IP Approved
Earlier this year, FamilySearch announced a FREE lookup service for genealogy books and microfilm available at the renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The response was overwhelming, 1000s of people contacted us to take advantage of this free service. Another way to utilize this service is to start with limited preview Google Books and get us to scan the entire page and email it to you for FREE.
You can get specific details on how this FREE service works on the FamilySearch blog at

Policy Change for Patrons Requesting Photocopies From the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah

Well this is interesting news from the FamilySearch Blog By


Please note the following change in the policy for patrons who are requesting copies from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
All requests for information copied from films, book pages, CDs, marriage, death or birth certificates, wills and/or deeds, etc. will be copied in digital format and emailed to patrons in a zipped PDF or JPG file format. There is no charge for this service if we are able to email to information to patrons.
If a patron does not have an email address, we can mail the information to the patron using the US Postal Service.  However, as much as possible, we will rely on emailing all requests for information through the internet. If patrons do not own a computer or do not have an email address, they can request to have the information emailed to their local Family History Center, where they can print the information at the center.
Patrons should request copies by submitting their request here: Photoduplication Request Form.  All requests MUST include the following information:
  • Film or Fiche number
  • Item number
  • Name of Individual(s) referred to in the record
  • Title of the record
  • Name of parents, spouse, grantor, grantee, etc.
  • Event type (Birth, Death or Marriage)
  • Complete event date and place
  • Event place (county, parish, township, etc.)
  • Volume or page number
  • Registration or Certificate Number
  • Any other information that will help us locate your record.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Congressional Papers Website

For those of you who were in my class last night, I mentioned the American State Papers. You will find that website at It is an offshoot of the Library of Congress American Memory website with Congressional Documents and Debates at

When you look at the image above you will see the Search function and that will let you search everything on that website including the American State Papers, the Congressional Record and a whole lot more.

Excellent site to uncover some hidden genealogy records to aid your family history research.

How many Genealogists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Six:  . . .

One to travel to the factory to record the name and age of the bulb.

One to test to see if the line is still alive.

One to trace the line back to the pole.

Two to argue over the name of the original pole where the line started

And one to screw in the bulb and write a detailed biographical account of  the experience.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Coming Soon to Search—More Control Over Your Results? Really!

No one in the online or professional genealogy community has been more of a critic regarding the new Ancestry search engine than me. I will be the first one to admit that I have been a bit obsessive about this but with good reason -- IT WASN'T BROKE DAMNIT!

Bottom line - I hate it and I have told them so at every turn. Heck, I went on a new search engine rant the other night in class (I'm sorry folks it is like showing a bull a red cape).

Now the programmers at Ancestry have come up with another scheme (uh, I mean enhancement) to try and make something that wasn't broke to begin with better --- sliders (no Gayle they aren't talking about hamburgers sweetie).

From the blog yesterday: "A new sliding control is coming to the Ancestry search function over the next couple of weeks. Located in the upper-left corner of the search results page, it will make it easy to quickly broaden or narrow your search results.  Don’t see the search results you were expecting? Simply drag one or more sliders from left to right to quickly modify your results.  The slider position shows how closely your search terms should be matched.  With all the sliders to the left, your results are matched at the broadest level, and moving one or more sliders to the right will display more exact matches. - See more at:

"In this first update, you’ll be able to use slider controls on these fields:First and last name of the person being searchedBirth and Death factsOne “Any event” factOne residence locationOther criteria in your search will still be available to edit using the “Edit Search” link and will be noted in the “Other” section just above the “Edit search” link.You’ll start seeing the sliding controls gradually over the next few weeks, so look for them soon on your search results page."

Are you kidding me? You mean to tell me you have time to invent a hamburger, uh, I mean slider feature and you can't fix all the issues or add new features for the DNA folks who have been left swinging in the wind the last two years?

What Ancestry needs more than anything else is some adult leadership in their new products development office (or whatever they want to call it), someone who is not wetted to a bunch of new bells and whistles and fluff on the front end and that doesn't work well on the back end.

Guess it is time to launch another feedback button rant. But hey, I pay my money just like everyone else so I have a right to complain when these folks just can't seem to get it right. Been a paying member since December 2000 longer than most all others in case you really want to know.

And if that wasn't enough now Familysearch, Ancestry and others have automated location information in their search engines. What I need to do is have them educated in one of my classes that there is no such place in 1620 as Jamestown, York County, Virginia, USA.

Are these people serious or do they only want to take the easy way out for the masses. I dare you to find a record or repository for someone in 1620 in Jamestown, York County, Virginia, USA

More on that rant very soon so stay tuned.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

AncestryDNA and the Chromosome Browser Saga.

After I got home from class tonight (sorry about the early release but better safe than sorry with snow in area), I found the tweet below circulating in the #rootstech world off the tweeter feed. I will attempt to get more info ASAP.

"AncestryDNA is working on a product experience that takes into consideration chromosomal browser abilities at a higher level."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Global RootsTech Conference Announces Free Online Broadcast Schedule

SALT LAKE CITY—RootsTech, the world’s largest family history and technology conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 6-8, 2014, announced today that 15 of its popular sessions will be broadcast live and complimentary over the Internet.

The live broadcasts will give those unable to attend in-person worldwide a sample of this year’s conference content. Interested viewers can watch the live presentations at

The fourth-year conference has attracted over 10,000 registered attendees in-person, and leaders expect over 20,000 additional viewers online.

The streamed sessions include a sampling of technology and family history presentations. Following are the broadcasted sessions and speakers. All times below are in Eastern Standard Time (EST)

Thursday, February 6

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Top 10 Things I Learned About My Family from My Couch by Tammy Hepps

3 p.m. to 4 p.m., FamilySearch Family Tree: What's New and What's Next by Ron Tanner
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Intro to DNA for Genealogists by James Rader

6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Genealogy in the Cloud by Randy Hoffman

7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Sharing Your Family with Multimedia by Michael LeClerc

Friday, February 7

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Storytelling Super Powers: How to Come Off as Your Family's Genealogy Hero by David Adelman

3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tweets, Links, Pins, and Posts: Break Down Genealogical Brick Walls with Social Media by Lisa Alzo

4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Getting the Most Out of by Crista Cowen

6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Finding Family and Ancestors Outside the USA with New Technologies by Daniel Horowitz

7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Do It Yourself Photo Restoration by Ancestry Insider

Saturday, February 8

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Become an iPad Power User by Lisa Louise Cooke

3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Information Overload: Managing Online Searches and Their Results by Josh Taylor

4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., A Beginner's Guide to Going Paperless by Randy Whited

6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., How to Interview Yourself for a Personal History by Tom Taylor

7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Five Ways to Do Genealogy in Your Sleep by Deborah Gamble

About RootsTech

RootsTech is a global family history event where people of all ages learn to discover and share their family stories and connections through technology. The first annual conference was held in 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hosted by FamilySearch and sponsored by leading genealogical organizations, the conference includes hands-on demonstrations and forums to provide a highly interactive environment and accelerate learning. Content is geared to young and old, beginner to advanced levels.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Legacy SIG (Special Interest Group) to Meet at Moss Library in Hayseville

Just a reminder that the Legacy Sig will meet tomorrow morning at 9:30 am at the Moss Library in Hayesville.

Bobby will be giving us our first look a Legacy 8, a new version of Legacy, and get a fresh start for any newbies that might be in attendance.  This is a free forum and the public is invited. Bring your laptop loaded with Legacy 8 or have a downloaded copy ready to install. If you are unable to do this, you may take notes for when you are ready to download and install. If you know of anybody who might be interested but does not monitor this mailing list, pass this message along. You may also find this information at:

I look forward to seeing everyone in the morning.

Starting in January we will resume the monthly Legacy SIG meetings at Moss Library in Hayesville. These meetings will be held at 9:30am on the third Saturday of the month. January's meeting will be Saturday the 18th. These meetings are free and the public is invited. Legacy 8, a new version, has been released and our focus will be on the changes introduced in this new version.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Your Ancestor’s Name Was What?

Ancestors changed names much more freely than we do nowadays, which can make it difficult to trace them through time and record collections. Ancestry genealogy expert Anne Gillespie Mitchell tackles this tough problem and shares tips to help you in the name game. Read all about it by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Update: Spring Genealogy Classes Set at Tri County Community College

It is that time of year again. The Spring genealogy classes at TCCC are about to begin. If you hadn't signed up yet, now is the time to get on that phone (828-837-6810), ring up Lisa Long and get on that class list before all the seats get taken.

I have four classes available this semester, enough to keep you all busy (and me as well). Our courses meet for 2.5 hours per session and are very inexpensive compared to other local and Internet genealogy education sources. Here is what is being offered this semester.

Genealogy: DNA – The New Tool in Genealogy Research
March 4 – March 18 Tuesday Nights (3 weeks) 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $15
Science can help you with your genealogy research but you will have to take a test first. This course will cover the new and expanding field of genetic genealogy basics and is designed for DNA Newbies. Some of the topics to be covered include an introduction to DNA testing and technical terms, how DNA testing will help your research, what are your ethnic origins and how to interpret the results, the different types of DNA tests available and their applications, and DNA testing and interpreting resources. If you want to demystify genetic genealogy and use it in your family history research then this course is for you.

Genealogy – Hidden Genealogy Sources
January 23 – April 17 Thursday Nights (12 weeks) Class will not meet March 6. 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $60
Discover facts about your ancestors in unexpected places--some right under your nose! Hidden Sources is a genealogy course to help you find family history in unlikely places. This course will help the genealogist discover a diversity of unexpected and productive resources capable of filling in the gaps of family charts and providing missing information on genealogical relationships. Family history researchers are accustomed to searching among vital records, censuses, and other commonly used sources, but there are a number of more obscure sources that can lead researchers to crucial information. This advanced course tackles these other sources and it will help you know how they can help you in your family research. This course will give you an overview of more than 100 sources, including: Adoption Records, Holocaust Records, Coroner’s Inquests, Licenses, Orphan Asylum Records, Slavery Records, Court Records, Patent Records, Diaries and Journals, and many more.
This is now open to all researchers and there are no prerequisites to take this class although experience in researching is helpful.

Genealogy – Beginning/Intermediate Genealogy (A Tuesday Day Class)
January 21 – April 8 Tuesday Day (12 weeks) 8:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. $60
This course covers the basics of genealogy research by exploring a variety of record sources used in the pursuit of ancestor hunting. Sources such as vital records, census, church records, court, military, land property, probate, and tax records will be discussed in detail. We will also cover the newest genealogy tool in that can open up your family history research – DNA testing. If you want to learn how to do genealogy research the right way, this is the course for you. This course is a requirement to take any of my advanced genealogy courses offered at TCCC.

Genealogy Classes: Genealogy- Advanced - Discovering Your Female Ancestors
January 21 – February 25 Tuesday Nights (6 weeks) 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $30
“Discovering Your Female Ancestors” introduces students to special strategies and uncommon resources needed to research female lines in their family genealogies. Students will learn about genealogical sources created by and about women, and methods they can use to learn the maiden name and parents of our female ancestors. This is an advanced genealogy course and completion of the Beginner/Intermediate Genealogy course is mandatory to take this class.

To each of you I look forward to seeing and/or meeting you in class in a couple of weeks.

How Others See Us - Genetic Genealogists

Couldn't resist this. I do believe this is pretty accurate unfortunately. Have a chuckle on me today. Click on image to see full size.

Sunday, December 8, 2013