Saturday, July 25, 2015

Another step closer to secure data!


Living in an apartment, news stories about fire give me pause.
Stories about floods & other disasters also make me queasy.

Back in my Week 13 update I shared a bit about my frustrations in backing up my computer to IDrive.  This morning I finally finished backing up my entire iMac to IDrive. Earlier in the week I also finished linking my Ancestry trees to Family Tree Maker and then saved those GEDCOM files to Dropbox (it was just easier than IDrive because FTM has a Dropbox option).

I feel really good about this, it definitely makes me feel better about my data.

As Thomas MacEntee does and suggested for the rest of us during the Do-Over, I am working towards following the 3-2-1 Rule:

3 copies of each file

I now have 2 copies of all of my files, 1 on my iMac and 1 on IDrive. For some files, mostly photos, I actually have 3 copies already because of my files on Dropbox. When I buy that external drive, I will have the 3 copies of each.

2 different media formats

Again, I have this covered; computer and cloud storage.

1 off-site copy

I already have one and I am considering copying everything I can to a thumb drive and giving it to my mother. This is harder to keep up-to-date, though.

As for the issues I encountered with IDrive, I will have to investigate further at some point to find out if the issues I was having were related to my internet service, my computer or IDrive. I know at least some of the issues were at IDrive because they told me so when I called them a couple of weeks ago. They had been working on the server that holds my account and I was unable to sign in for an entire weekend. That doesn't sound great to me, frankly. If I had suffered a computer catastrophe and needed access to my data, I would not want to hear that. Also, if you are an IDrive user and ever need to contact customer support, make sure you have some free time. I waited a good ten minutes to speak to a live human. None of this has impressed me but I am paid for a year, so I will stick with it for now and be very happy when I have an external drive.

I still have yet to get back to my research plan although I have done some exploring this week.

Be back soon with the search for my great-grandfather, George Robert Smith's, birth records.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Distraction but Progress

As soon as I saw posts late last week that Mocavo.com was offering free access this weekend, I knew this could potentially mean trouble for my well-laid weekend plans. I was right, but what a find!

Mocavo.com (I have no affiliation with them or Find My Past) has copies of Ancestral Registers and Legacy Books (I think they are the same thing, but the title changed through the years) of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  A general search for my 2nd great-grandfather, Benjamin Smith, yielded an entry in the 1898 Legacy Book for his daughter Charlotte E.J. Fisk. Charlotte is the sister of my maternal grandfather's father, George Robert Smith.

Benjamin Smith Family early 1900s - Newark, NJ


The register shows that she (and I) are descended from two revolutionary soldiers, Phineas Chidester and Japhet Byram, so the connection from my maternal grandfather goes like this:


George Washington Smith (1898-1979) son of

George Robert Smith (1860-1922) son of

Mary Ann Codner (1821-1914) daughter of

Phoebe Chidester daughter of

Phineas Chidester (1757-1814) - Minute Man & Rebecca Byram daughter of

Japhet Byram (1721-1798) - Private in the Morris Co. militia

The exciting thing about finds like this are the potential for records and the history it may be possible to find. And, of course, now the excuse to plan a trip to Washington, D.C. and head for the DAR Library! More soon.

Pictured above are: Seated - Benjamin Smith, Emma Amelia Smith Edwards, Mary Ann Codner Smith and Standing: Orlando Chauncey Smith, Charlotte (Lottie) Elizabeth Smith Fisk, George Robert Smith, William Henry Smith

Do you see a cousin connection on this or any of my posts?  Please contact me at acmatthews1 at verizon dot net.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ancestry Fails - The early military service of George Washington Smith

As most people who are reading this blog are probably aware, Ancestry has introduced a new feature called Timeline which seems to be meeting with mixed reviews. Even those who don't use Ancestry may have seen some posts about the issues some of us are having with it.  Yesterday I was checking on the date of the wedding anniversary of my maternal grandparents for an upcoming 80th anniversary post when I discovered that Ancestry timelines has made a complete mess of the facts on my grandfather's timeline. *From a discussion on this topic that I heard last week, I thought that this feature was now out of beta and had been rolled out to everyone, I was mistaken. When I was finished writing this post, I decided to email or otherwise contact Ancestry with my experiences and then discovered that I could opt-out and go back to the old view. I did so and also let Ancestry know why.*

For anyone who is not familiar, the timeline feature adds things to the facts you have already added for your ancestors. Some of them are taken from your tree, like the birth of a sibling for instance, and some from history, like the beginning of WWI. I like the concept. It takes gives context to the lives of our ancestors. But it has to be accurate to work and if it doesn't, it is rather annoying.

Exhibit A

Please click on the image to enlarge, if I do it, it comes off of the page.

George Washington Smith was my mother's father. He was born in Thetford Mines, Quebec in 1898 to George Robert and Isabella Frances Parker Smith. For a time they had also had a residence on the island of Montreal in the City of Westmount. This is where the family lived at the time of the 1911 Canadian census. Hochelaga was the district in Westmount. None of these places are in Quebec City. This error is made for everyone in the family.

Exhibit B


As you can see from the purple circle to the upper left of this screenshot, this "event" takes place on 14 August, 1914. Ancestry has titled this "Serving in the Canadian Military During the Great War." That was actually the date that the Canadian Parliament adopted the War Measures Act which declared war on Germany, although they were effectively at war with Germany ten days earlier when it was so declared by Great Britain. My grandfather was not serving in the military on that date, nor did her serve in 1898 as it says below the caption, because Canada was not at war and he was an infant. Ahhhh!!!

Exhibit C


So, this one Ancestry got right...or did they? While this is the date of his enlistment, my grandfather's service is treated like a one-day event.  He "served in the military on August 18, 1917." No, he enlisted on that day or he served starting on that date. Think I'm nitpicking? Take a look at Exhibit D.

Exhibit D


"As the Great War raged on, George Washington Smith was probably living in Canada,..." Well, no. See what happens when you treat service as a one day event?

I'm really not happy about this at all. Have you seen errors like this in your Ancestry tree?  It is definitely time for me to contact them and tell them that this feature needs to go back to beta!

And finally, since I am already in ranting mode, I have one more fact to tell you about.


This is my grandfather's brother, Herbert Austin Smith. He also served during the Great War and was taken prisoner by the Germans, spending the end of the war in a POW camp. And Mr. Trump, he was a hero.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Distractions, Webinars, Freedmen's Records and Slides

Iran Hostage Ticker Tape Parade - Jan 30, 1981

This has seemed like a week of distractions when it came to anything to do with genealogy. Almost none of my goals were met although I did watch two webinars and finally get started on some indexing on Family Search.

The first webinar was Thomas MacEntee's "Pinning Your Family History" which was offered over on Legacy Family Tree Webinars. This was the first webinar I watched at Legacy. I guess I was vaguely aware of their webinar offerings before this but hadn't really looked into everything they offer. I was pleasantly surprised by the cost of a membership (on sale right now for $49.95 annually). That gives you unlimited access to members-only webinars, all archived webinars (which are only accessible for a week after for non-members) and handouts.  I think it is a great deal and already see a few webinars on the schedule that I'm looking forward to.

Thomas' webinar, which was excellent, is available to watch for to non-members through Wednesday. I have been using Pinterest since it was in beta (testing) and I still learned quite a bit about the site that I did not know and quite a bit about a few other sites that were new to me.  One of those is a site called What Was There. What Was There is an online project with the goal of creating a photographic history of the world.  It looks a lot like Google Maps except that in the locations where a photo has been uploaded you can see a present day street view and the same view at some time in the past. And you can upload your own photos, too, which is what makes it a "pinning" site. While you can tell that the project is in its early stages, it is still very cool, and all of us who contribute to it, will make it even "cooler".

On Thursday night I watched a webinar at Family Search which I found through DearMYRTLE's Genealogy blog and her GeneaWebinars Calendar. Family Search makes some recordings available afterward as well and the handouts that the live attendees receive. All of these appear to be free like the rest of Family Search. The webinar I watched was United States Naturalization. I don't see a recording of this webinar, but I have to say that I don't find the Family Search very easy to navigate sometimes and I could be missing something. Webinars seem to be presented and linked by the research team that they fall under, so the naturalization webinar was under the US/Canada research team and the Wales Naming Conventions webinar that I missed today was under the British Isles team. If you know of a better way to find these webinars, please let me know in the comments.

Anyway, the webinar was packed with information. So much so that I wish a recording were available because I'd love to watch it again, but I do have the handout.

Thursday when I was trapped at home after the "Check Engine" light in my car suddenly said, "Hello!", I finally spent some time getting familiar with indexing records on Family Search at the behest of DearMYRTLE who is encouraging her readers to get involved in indexing the Freedmen's Records. I think a separate post on that is in order once I get a bit more comfortable doing it.

Then it was Friday and I was able to catch only a few glimpses of the ticker tape parade for the USA Women's Soccer Team between surgeries at work. But it reminded me that one of the carousels of slides which I had yet to digitize contained photos from the day my father took me to the ticker tape parade for the Iran hostages in 1981. So, that was my big distraction over the weekend. I digitized the 97 slides in that carousel, organized and named them and moved the slides into archival slide holders.  One of those slides is above and below are a few more. Unfortunately I can't share the photos of me at the parade because I am sporting a button that my father bought me that contains an expletive aimed at Iran. Not exactly appropriate for a 12-year-old, but that was part of what made it so funny to my father, God bless him.

When enlarged you can see WELCOME HOME in some of the windows.



So that was my week, genealogically speaking. Of course this week's goals are the same. Backing up my data and making a will. Hopefully I'll have more to share on that soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Do-Over Week 13 Progress Report

Provincial Flag of Prince Edward Island, Canada


Since I blogged last on Thursday I have been busy purging, organizing, rearranging furniture, dealing with a recurrence of GERD, comforting our nervous dog during fireworks, and enjoying a 3½-day weekend.

In there somewhere I managed to also start understanding the differences between Dropbox and IDrive, joined the Technology for Genealogy group on Facebook and considered my options for having a will drawn up and how to include my wishes for the disposition of my genealogical research and archives.

So far, I must say that I am not that impressed with IDrive. This was my first attempt to use the service since signing up during the Do-Over. I had issues including an inability to even sign in on Sunday and tonight and had to try over and over to get my backup going without idrive "quitting unexpectedly." I also found tech support very slow.

IDrive came recommended and I have seen many positive comments about it, so I won't give up on it yet. After speaking with the help desk again today I am hopeful that my issue will be resolved tonight so I'll be able to try again tomorrow or Thursday.

Tonight I started working on my will. Not pleasant, but so necessary. Even though I believe that my family know my wishes and will respect them, I understand that New York is the worst state in which to die intestate (without a will) and so, for those I love I will keep at it.

The rest of this week I will be finishing some projects around the house and attending a couple of webinars, Pinning Your Family History by Thomas MacEntee on Wednesday and United States Naturalization Webinar from the Family History Library on familysearch.org.

Hopefully by the weekend, I will be ready to get more focused on actual research again!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 13 - Securing Data & Reviewing the Journey

Ironically blank family tree pages from my own baby book.

This was the last week of the Genealogy Do-Over and the topics were 1 - Securing Research Data and 2 - Reviewing the Journey

Securing Research Data

Thomas MacEntee asked four very important questions in this weeks post:

1. If you lost all your data, would you be able to recreate it?
2. Would you even know where to begin?
3. If you died today, would your family know what to do with your research?
4. Have you made plans to preserve your research for generations to come?

I must admit that my answers to these questions are no, no, no and no, in that order. Clearly, I have some work to do and this is going to be a priority for me.

I was already planning to buy an external hard drive in the next month or so but before I do that, I really need to make a comprehensive and detailed plan. I'm now looking at it from the view point of Question #2 above, what would I do if some unbelievable event wiped my hard drive and my online tree all at once. What would I do, step-by-step? What do I need to put that plan into action?

This is something that is going to take some additional research and won't be completed all at once. I will post about this as I make my plan and put it into action.  The same with my plans for my research, images and artifacts in the event of my death, not a pleasant subject but more complicated and necessary because I don't have children.

Reviewing the Journey

I remember reading something Thomas MacEntee wrote recently to the effect that he still could not believe the way that his do-over program and concept have caught on. Well, I can. The Do-Over is well thought out, well laid out and hits the points vital to thorough and productive research; for me, the past 13 weeks have been eye-opening, instructional, inspirational and thought-provoking.

In just the last 13 weeks I have:
  • Established a firm foundation for my research with base (or best) practices and guidelines.
  • Learned to set research goals.
  • Begun to track my research.
  • Started a research toolbox.
  • Learned more about citing my sources (I don't think you're ever done with this one).
  • Begun to learn about evaluating evidence.
  • Purchased genealogy database software (after 7 years where my only tree was online).
  • Learned more about digitizing my photos and documents.
  • Reviewed offline education options and finally joined an offline genealogical society.
  • Learned about conducting cluster research.
  • Organized about 70% of my research materials, family documents and photos.
  • Begun to organize my digital research materials.
  • Begun to plan for securing my research data.

I will still follow along with the following cycles of the Do-Over and with the Facebook group. There is much yet to accomplish but with this firm foundation I know that even BSOs cannot stand in my way for very long!

Thank you Thomas, for all your hard work and for providing us with the Do-Over!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 12 - Sharing Research and Reviewing Research Travel Options

The Pittston, PA home of my paternal grandfather
The topics for Week 12 are 1 - Sharing Research and 2 - Reviewing Research Travel Options

Sharing Research

From the very first person I entered in my Ancestry tree in 2008, I have had a public tree. I have seen people take photos and other information from my trees without any communication, one was even a cousin I know, although I haven't seen him in many years. It bothers me sometimes, but I just think of it now as the price I pay to find the long-lost relatives who do reach out.

At the beginning of the Do-Over I made the decision to keep my tree public but add a disclaimer as Thomas MacEntee suggested. After receiving an email from someone who is not related to me but was trying to find information on someone in my tree I realized from their comments that they had not read or seen that disclaimer. That and some other comments made by this person were so disconcerting to me that I made that tree private for the first time ever.  I'm not sure what I will do about this going forward, although it will matter less and less as I add those same ancestors to my new tree with my new research standards. That tree is, and hopefully always will be, public.

I agree with Thomas MacEntee, though. As long as you aren't a sucker, I think you have to approach sharing with willingness. I am definitely more giving when I'm getting the sense that a person is just happy to make a connection and less so when I'm feeling like someone is just doing it with their hand out. And if your expectations are too high, you could be setting yourself up for disappointment. An expectation can be a premeditated resentment.

Reviewing Research Travel Options


This "Friday Funny" is based on an actual research trip.  Over our Thanksgiving weekend last year, my mother and I made a trip to Quebec to visit cousins we hadn't seen in years. They live on and still work the farm founded by my 3rd great-grandfather 150 years ago.  There are ancestors buried in three cemeteries within 10 minutes of the farm and even more not too much further away. I had four on my wish list for this trip but the six inches of snow that did actually fall on bare ground the night before our arrival did us in. We tried but it was pretty much a failure.  Now, the reality of our trip was that we were primarily there to see family and the ancestor hunting would have been a terrific bonus but it brings up a good point. Try to plan trips for an appropriate time of year and have some back-up activities planned and some flexibility in your itinerary in case of weather.

Other things I can recommend based on my three little research trips so far are:

  • To have having specific goals - you don't want to get home and feel like you missed something.
  • Budgeting - Don't forget those vital records fees.
  • Reach out to local historical & genealogical societies - for any useful tips or information they may have.
  • Plan for emergencies - I hadn't thought of this, but thanks to Thomas MacEntee I will certainly make this part of my planning for my next trip.
I can't believe that this cycle of the Do-Over is almost over.  I've learned so much and have so many goals still ahead! Until the weekend.
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