Monday, August 31, 2015

Ancestry Releasing a Treasure Trove of Probate Records This Week


At the 2013 Rootstech in Salt Lake, Ancestry CEO Tim Sullivan announced that and FamilySearch will work together to capture 140 million pages of U.S. probate records. That would include images and indexes. It would create a national registry of wills, letters of administration and other probate records that would span from 1800-1930. It was announced that it would be a 3 year project.

Fast forward to this morning and I heard a commercial on the news-talk radio station in Washington DC - WMAL, for a free availability starting Wednesday of Ancestry's new probate collection.

I am reporting on this all that I can find on the subject (nothing yet on any of the Ancestry websites I can find) indicates that they will be releasing more than 170 million name-searchable images of probate and wills records. The most comprehensive collections of its kind, these records will provide access to almost all wills probated in the United States from the mid 19th century to 2000 – an unprecedented treasure trove of information.

I have been waiting for this release for a long time. Those of you who have taken my beginner classes know the emphasis I place on finding and using these important genealogical records, especially when you are researching in "dark territory" (you would have to attend a class to get the full meaning of that Larry-ism term). This is some pretty exciting stuff.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

AncestryDNA FINALLY introduces new "In Common With" feature, SHARED MATCHES

I opened up my AncestryDNA pages this morning and found a new feature that I have not seen before -- Shared Matches Tool.

Instead of wasting some time here typing something up (I have to teach tonight and work up my weekly genealogy columns today). I will defer to the Ancestry blog announcement at

There is a secondary article on this by TL Dixon on the Roots and Recombination blog at I have also posted the introductory video by Anne Gillespie Mitchell to a post below this one on this blog.

Introducing AncestryDNA New 'Shared Matches' Feature

Monday, August 24, 2015

What is wrong with all these pictures?

Oh boy, He is at it again. Picking on those poor people at Ancestry and FamilySearch. Ah heck, why not. Need to do a good rant every now and then. Besides I start my Fall genealogy classes tomorrow night and I want my students to have something to talk about before I arrive in class.

First, let me say I have over the years discovered trees at that have some darn good stuff -- well put together and well sourced. Then there are . . . well let me illustrate.

This is a test. What is wrong with the screen capture below? Unfortunately over half of the trees at Ancestry for the family below had this configuration.

Unfortunately, IMHO opinion, trees are even worse. In the case of FamilySearch not only are the participants doing this type of stuff, but the computers at FamilySearch make these types of changes all on their own, no prompting, they just do it.

At least at Ancestry, I have the option to ignore this insanity and I control my own tree. At FamilySearch, not only do some of the "genealogists" think they are smarter than me and my research, the computer thinks it is smarter than all of us and just makes changes even after I put correct sourced information into "MY TREE."

For the folks at FamilySearch, that is why I refuse to spend even one more millisecond messing around within your trees, and I refuse to teach my genealogy students your tree system.

And when you approach these people in Salt Lake about these issues, they say they do not have a problem or when confronted with evidence they ignore you and will not answer queries. I get an airdale salute (you Navy guys know what that is)!

This new trees system is every bit the mess you had with the Ancestral File and other tree ventures you have tried in the past. When is someone at FS going to figure out that the computer can't be trusted to take control and link up people in these online trees.

But enough of my ramblings I just pulled just three examples from my "tree" at FamilySearch. There are many, many more I assure you.

In each of these examples these are entries to "MY TREE" I did not even make. I do not have the time to sit here and go through their convoluted menu system to get this stuff out. Even if I did have then, it still continues to come back unannounced anyway.

In this first case, when the computer inserted Mary Mason I took her out of my tree as it has been positive proven she was not Elizabeth Dancy's mother (child birth at age 9) and the computer came back and inserted her back in again this time without a date of her birth. (click on image to enlarge).

In the screen shot below, I put none of these people in my tree. Didn't ask for them to be put in there. In fact, I have not even gotten that far out in the tree. Again the computer decided what was best for my tree, not me. (click on image to enlarge)

In another random act of genealogy this third example shows why this system is no better than the trees at Ancestry (at least I have control over that one).

Please notice the families on the far left and compare then closely with the rest of the chart. Again I wasn't this far out in building the tree, didn't enter these people and the computer system at FS has messed this tree up entirely.

I could keep this up for the rest of the day but to what point? They won't listen to legitimate concerns out at Salt Lake and I don't have time to keep correcting the record only to have some computer system come back and make more changes I did not ask for or want.

Genealogy trees you either love'em or hate them. But I would suggest a third alternative and you can do what I do. Nothing goes to my online tree unless the preponderance of the evidence says I am right. You can use trees but verify the information.

Bottom line, once that genie is out of the bottle, if it isn't right, good luck getting it back in the bottle.

To bad I can't get some of these Ancestry tree people, including the FamilySearch tree people in Salt Lake in some of my classes. We would have to spend some time realigning their thinking. ;-)

I'm posting this piece to my main genealogy blog as well, maybe this will get some attention, especially out at FamilySearch. Are you folks listening or will this fall on deaf ears like everything relating to this computerized tree system. Only time will tell.