Sunday, December 30, 2007

Family Tree Announcement from

Since 1999, our Online Family Tree system has helped almost 2 million people build family trees, upload GEDCOM files and add their trees to Ancestry World Tree. We’ve maintained this system for some time, but the it’s finally become outdated and will soon be replaced with the Ancestry Member Tree system introduced in July 2006. We realize this is a bitter disappointment for some of you who have worked in our Online Family Tree system for years. This is an important step for us that lets us focus all our ability on creating one great system for everyone to use. At nearly 8 years old, Online Family Tree is an ancient product (in internet years anyway), and we feel it is important to move everyone to the new system while this one is still running. If we prolonged this, it would be much more difficult to do this while the OFT system is on life-support.

What does this mean for you?

For those that have a file in the old Online Family Tree system, you’ll be able to access your tree in that system through about March 2008. Between now and then you can easily transition your family tree file to the Ancestry Member Tree system and get used to it before the Online Family Tree system expires.
We know how much time and energy you’ve put into your tree and we’ve done our best to make sure you don’t lose a bit of it as you change systems. There are basically two phases to this transition period for Online Family Tree:

Phase 1 — Trial and transition.

Between now and March 2008 you can move your family tree file to the Ancestry Member Tree system and get familiar with it. Your file in the old Online Family Tree system will remain intact so you can double-check everything. However, once you’ve transitioned your tree to the Ancestry Member Tree system, any new information added or edits made will not be reflected in your Online Family Tree file. Do nothing during this timeframe and nothing will change in your Online Family Tree file. If you make changes to your Online Family Tree file after you’ve transitioned to Ancestry Member Trees, you’ll have the option to send the updated file to the new system once again.

Phase 2 — Tree expiration.

At the end of March 2008 we’ll send you another reminder to transition your tree. At this point, your tree will no longer be accessible in the Online Family Tree system, but the file itself WILL remain on our servers and in the system for as long as we can maintain it. When you come to view your Online Family Tree file, you’ll see only a link to move your family tree file to the Ancestry Member Tree system.

After March 2008 we plan to remove the old feature set surrounding your file. This means that all Online Family Tree files previously submitted to Ancestry World Tree will remain there permanently, unless you take steps to remove it.

About Ancestry Member Trees

The Ancestry Member Tree system will give you most of the same features as the Online Family Tree system. That includes integrated record search, the ability to invite family members to edit and contribute, GEDCOM import and export and much more. The Ancestry Member Tree system will also offer many new and exciting features.

Below is a comparison chart to show which features from the Online Family Tree system are available in the Ancestry Member Trees system:

feature comparison

We believe you will find much to enjoy about Ancestry Member Trees, and we hope to continue to add features and make you excited about the product.

Already more than 3 million people have created trees using the Ancestry Member Tree system, and we’ve been amazed at the work that has been done:

  • 4.2 million family trees created

  • 378 million names added

  • 937,000 family members invited

  • 48 million Ancestry Hints™ accepted

  • 4 million photos uploaded

Monday, December 24, 2007

Spring 2008 Genealogy Classes Set at TCCC

Do you want to learn more about your family history? Are you digging for those family roots on the internet, but not finding much?

Then consider taking one of the genealogy classes at Tri County Community College, Peachtree, North Carolina, this Spring. These inexpensive classes are available for all genealogy skill levels and are taught by local genealogy newspaper columnist and lecturer, Larry Van Horn.

Van Horn is professional family historian/genealogist who has been actively researching his many ancestral families for the last 30 years. He is currently working over 130 ancestral surnames, and has documented/sourced over 23,000 family ancestors and descendants in compiling his extensive family history. He lectures on genealogy topics to groups throughout the Tri-State area and writes the popular weekly syndicated newspaper column - Finding Your Roots. He has taught genealogy classes at Tri County for the last ten years.

Genealogy is one of the largest and fastest growing hobbies in the country. Millions of people all across the United States, and indeed the world, are digging up clues into their past. Google currently reports over 91.6 million pages on the net that contain the word genealogy. The most popular genealogy website on the internet,, has more subscribers online than the Wall Street Journal.

Genealogy courses scheduled for Spring are:

Genealogy - Beginning/Intermediate
This course covers the usage of a variety of record sources in the pursuit of ancestor hunting. Sources such as vital records, census, church records, court, military, land property, and tax records will be discussed in detail. If you want to
learn how to find and use these records in genealogical research, this course is for you. This course is a requirement to take any of the advanced genealogy courses offered at TCCC. The class will be held Thursdays, January 10 * March 27, from 6:30 * 9:00 p.m. Cost is $50.

Researching an American Genealogy, Part 1
The first part of this course instructs the researcher in the timeless principles of
genealogical research. It incorporates the latest thinking on genealogy and computers, specifically the relationship between computer technology (the Internet and CD-ROM) and the timeless principles of good genealogical research. It also includes information on the evaluation of genealogical evidence and organization, analyzing the family pedigree, correspondence, research tools, reference materials, and cutting edge technology such using DNA in genealogy. Part 2 will be taught in the
spring of 2008. This is an advanced course and students must have completed the Beginner/Intermediate Genealogy and Part 1 of this course in order to register for this class. The class will be held Mondays, January 7 * April 7, from 9:30 * 11:00 a.m. Cost is $50.

Researching an American Genealogy, Part 2
For those who want to learn how to build pedigrees and reconstruct family groups, tying them from one generation to the next, this course is a must. This course also has value to other researchers. Historians, demographers, and sociologists studying people in the past will find that this course will provide important guidance in assessing which records will provide the facts needed. Part 2 of this popular advanced genealogy course will cover records and their uses. This course will look in-depth at vital records, census, probate and basic legal terminology, land records, court, church, and military records, and many more. The class will be held
Tuesdays, January 8 * March 25, from 6:30 * 9:00 p.m. Cost is $50.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

All in the Family - Veep Cheney and Obama 8th Cousins

Press reports this morning (October 17) indicate the Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama are related - 8th cousins.

Lynne Cheney, wife of the US VP, revealed that while researching the Cheney family tree for her new book Blue Skies, No Fences, she discovered that the Vice President and Obama are related -- albeit distantly.

Mrs. Cheney said that it was "an amazing American story that one ancestor . . . could be responsible down the family line for lives that have taken such different and varied paths."

Mrs. Cheney said she traced a common ancestor of the two men to a 17th century immigrant from France - Mareen and Susannah Duvall.

According to Mrs Cheney's spokeswoman, Mr Obama, the son of a Kenyan man and a white woman from Kansas, is distantly related to Mareen Duvall, whose son Samuel married the granddaughter of Mr Cheney's ancestor, also called Richard Cheney

In fact, according to the Chicago Sun-Times Obama and President George W. Bush are 11th cousins.

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton offered a tongue-in-cheek response to the revelation, saying, "Every family has a black sheep."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

FamilySearch Wiki Beta Online

Information courtesy of the RootsMagic Newsletter:

The Family History Department in Salt Lake City has developed a new research support tool called the FamilySearch Wiki at

This resource has been developed to help make family history research advice easier to find and share.

FamilySearch Wiki is intended as an online community for family history researchers and those interested in learning how to be more successful in the search for their ancestors. This site includes all the research outlines published by the Family History Library and many other articles never published such as the wiki material for Japan, China and India.

The site is in beta, so you may find missing pieces, but take it for a spin and feel free to tell others about it.

Tracing Your Family Tree to Adam and Eve. Possible?

This always gives me a chuckle when I hear this from a "family historian." Some genealogists claim that they have extended their ancestral lines back to Adam and Eve. Is this possible? If so, is it necessary for all of us to extend our pedigrees back to them?

From Robert C. Gunderson, Senior Royalty Research Specialist in the LDS Church Genealogical Department in Salt Lake.

"The simplest answer to both questions is No. Let me explain. In thirty-five years of genealogical research, I have yet to see a pedigree back to Adam that can be documented. By assignment, I have reviewed hundreds of pedigrees over the years. I have not found one where each connection on the pedigree can be justified by evidence from contemporary documents. In my opinion it is not even possible to verify historically a connected European pedigree earlier than the time of the Merovingian Kings (c. A.D. 450-A.D. 752)."

Gunderson says, "Every pedigree I have seen which attempts to bridge the gap between that time and the biblical pedigree appears to be based on questionable tradition, or at worst, plain fabrication. Generally these pedigrees offer no evidence as to the origin of the information, or they cite a vague source."

And I firmly agree with Mr. Gunderson. I have been conducting genealogy research for well over 30 years now and I have yet to see a valid, sourced and proven genealogy to anything in this early era.

And this is what I tell my genealogy students: "If it is not sourced, it is not history. An unsourced genealogy should start out as...once upon a time."

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cemetery Repair/Inventory - Possible Source of Help

The New Garden Cemetery below is one of many examples of our family history that is decaying away or being destroyed. One avenue that individuals, historical societies, genealogy groups, etc. might want to consider in restoring and cleaning up our history is using the services of the Boy Scouts of America.

From the Eagle website:

Eagle Scout Requirement 5: While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community. The project idea must be approved by your Scoutmaster and troop committee and by the council or district before you start.

Two of the recommendations made to these scouts as possible service projects involve working in community cemeteries.

"Cemetery Directory: I catalogued all of the grave stones in our city cemetery. Then I worked with the troop to put together a cemetery kiosk where visitors could look at a large map and find the graves they wanted to visit."

"Clean up and repair headstones in an old community cemetery. 10 or so Scouts for two full days of work + Adults. Can require expertise if repairing large Monuments."

The scouts working towards their Eagle rank need projects and if you need help, these excellent youngsters in our community can be the catalyst to get your local cemetery cleaned up and/or inventoried.

You can find a local troop that might have members needing a project at

You might also want to contact the BSA Council serving your area with a request. They serve a larger area and they would have a larger pool of scouts to draw from. Locate your local council at

Bottom line: These future leaders need a project and you need a hand. It is a match made in heaven for restoring and preserving family history.

Old New Garden Cemetery - Limestone County AL

Photo courtesy of Evelyn Maples and Find A Grave.

From Patrick R. Thomson via the Redus Family newsgroup.

"My name is Linda Nelson and I am the Vice President of the Limestone County Historical Society in Alabama. We have taken on the Old New Garden Cemetery (in Elkmont) where William Penn Redus and a number of his family members are buried as our project. We want to save this cemetery. Where do you think would be a good website to post a request for help to save this very old and historic cemetery?"

Linda Nelson

Photo of New Garden courtesy of the Limestone County Historical Society website.

The Limestone County Historical Society website is at

And from cousin Dennis Simpson:

"I am a life member of the Limestone County Historical Society. Unfortunately, every single tombstone has been ran over by uncuth people driving their motor vehicle inside the ungated old cemetery. These people who are destroying these cemeteries, don't give a damn about people's final resting place. The Society has already started working on this project. It is a time consuming job they are doing and fixing these graves in the heat of summer makes the work unbearable. This is one project we as descendants should stand behind and help any possible way we can."


Monday, June 4, 2007

The Family Album

The Rev TD Jakes wrote this piece and Gayle shared it with me, so I thought it would be neat to share it with our fellow genealogists.

"Pull out that old family photo album and scan the faces. The people on these pages brought you to this point. Their lives are the cornerstones of your life. Their sacrifices are your mandate to continue invest in yourself—and in all that comes next. Just as they formed your foundation—your work lays a foundation for lives after you.

"Your family album is a picture of the tenacity and strength in your DNA. It is a study in perseverance. Secrets of survival that course through your veins.

"To settle for less than you are capable of is to squander not just your life—but their lives—and your legacy to future generations. One generation's position is the next generation's reposition. Picture that."

Rev. TD Jakes (Thought of the Day)