My name is Kathleen, and I have been researching my family history since I was a child. I love to go into county courthouses and smell the old books and paper... or is it dust? This blog will focus on the stories I've heard over the years and the research methods I follow. I am particularly interested in data management and cloud genealogy.

Some of my personal areas of interest include Southern Maryland and DC (Robie, Rhodes, Grimes, Lindsey), NY state (Hill, Cookingham, Flynn, Rhodes, Skinner, Wheeler, Mead, Havens, Trotter), NJ (Parcell), North Carolina and Eastern TN (Lynch, Seabolt, Spears), MO (Wilcox, Kiddell), and CA (Simi, Grady)

I am always happy to compare notes or share my experiences, so please leave a comment!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A source-centric alternative to FTM

Everyone seems to be up in arms about Ancestry's decision to stop supporting Family Tree Maker (FTM) after 2016.  We should have seen this coming -- it is a business decision, driven by the combined forces of cloud computing and Ancestry's corporate desire to be the home base for all your data.

This decision doesn't require anything more than a minor course correction.  I take full advantage of Ancestry's algorithms to uncover new data in my trees, but I don't use Ancestry or FTM for anything other than a convenient place to store relationships.  It won't bother me if FTM disappears tomorrow.

The reason for this is that all my research lives on my own computer.  We tend to forget that family tree software, whether it is FTM or any of the others, is designed to record relationships, and not the process you go through to determine those relationships!   In fact, it does a terrible job at tracking your research (there are no slots on the tree for all those 'potential' ancestors), and it is only moderately successful in recording facts.  Indirect evidence -- too often all we have -- doesn't fall neatly into the software's black and white categories, and there is no easy way to record a proof argument.  

Some years ago, I created templates to track my research using Bento, the simplified database system produced by FileMaker.  I wrote quite a lot about this on my blog (see these posts), and was terribly disappointed when FileMaker discontinued Bento.   The situation then was very similar to Ancestry's business decision to drop FTM:  with more and more custom apps being made available for free, there was no future in providing people with a DIY database.   Unfortunately for genealogists, there aren't an awful lot of custom apps for tracking research.

Fast forward to the present.  I have recently come across Tap Forms for Mac, which seems to be picking up where Bento left off.  It is not, perhaps, as pretty as Bento was, but is simple and intuitive to use, and it is only $35.  I have redesigned my old Bento templates to work in Tap Forms, and am thrilled to finally be up and running again with a research management system.  

My Tap databases are essentially a series of interconnected spreadsheets, centered around a main file containing all my sources.  Tap has several advantages over Numbers, the Mac spreadsheet program.  First, it allows you to enter data through a form view, which makes it easier to focus on one source at a time.  It is very easy to switch between the form view and the spreadsheet view: 

Second, you can add a direct link to a file on your computer, so all you have to do is click on the file name and your file opens in a new window.  This is not easily done in Numbers (see this thread on the Apple support page).  Most importantly, though, Tap allows you to link related spreadsheets together.  Like Bento, Tap is not a true relational database -- but it is close enough to satisfy me.

The key to making any research tracking system work is keeping up with data entry.  I have created fields to track quite a bit of information about my sources, but I use them according to need.  Not all sources are equally relevant to my current research, so some will get lavish attention and others just a simple citation.  Here is a quick look at my new genealogical research system:

This is a source-centric system, so the Documents database is the most important component.  I log my sources as soon as I obtain them, and add my formal citation first thing.  At the very least, I will include all the elements necessary to craft a perfect citation later.  Too much time spent looking up documents a second time has shown me that it is easier to just take the extra time and add the correct citation from the beginning.  

"Negative Searches"
I also keep track of sources I've examined that did not have information meeting my search criteria:

I have set up a file with basic information about the people in my family tree.  This allows me to link my sources to the individuals they relate to.   If I am religious about entering data when I first record a source, I will then have a complete file of all the documents I have found for every person I am researching. 

"FAN Club"

Another component is a database called "FAN club,"* which allows me to track unknown names mentioned in a source and link them both to the ancestor they are associated with and the particular document they are mentioned in.  Just being able to see the names grouped together in this database list is incredibly helpful -- I've gotten leads this way that I might not have found otherwise.
*This phrase was coined by Elizabeth Shown Mills, who uses it to describe the need to thoroughly research all the friends, associates, and neighbors of an ancestor in order to fully understand their intersecting lives.

I have also set up a database of photographs, which I link to the people who are in them.

There is a table listing all the repositories and libraries where I conduct research, which I link to a database of research logs.

"Research Log"
If I have been out researching, I spend some time at the end of the day entering data into a log, which in turn links to the documents retrieved at any given repository.  This way I have a running record of how I've spent my time, and more importantly, my sources have a date-stamp so I can easily tell when I accessed them.  If I uncover new information, I know at a glance which sources should be re-examined.

Tap has a user-contributed library of templates.   I plan on adding my research system as soon as I can (which probably won't be until after Christmas).  

Merry Christmas, everyone!

UPDATE (March 2016):  The templates are now available on the Tap Forms website, see:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Constitution Day Redux

Last year I celebrated Consitution Week with a post about how an injustice that happened to my ancestor, Thomas Amis, led to the creation of the United States Constitution.  In June of 1786, he was sailing down the Mississippi with a cargo of trade goods, when he inadvertently broke a new Spanish law limiting American trade.  With the utmost of courtesy, the Spanish commandant relieved him of his boat and cargo, and sent him back home on foot.  Of course he told his story to everyone he met on his journey home, which quickly inflamed the popular sentiment against the Spaniards.  You've never heard about the Flour War with Spain only because cooler heads prevailed in the end, but it was a close thing.   

So while my 5th great grandfather didn't have a direct hand in writing the Constitution, his experience embodied the frustrations experienced by Americans who had no recourse when confronting the arbitrary rulings of a foreign government.  His was the straw that broke the camel's back.

I'll refer you to my earlier post here, and will just add that I've recently found a portrait of Thomas, in a history of the North Carolina Society of the Cincinnati published in 1907:
Charles Lukens Davis, North Carolina Society of the Cincinnati (Boston: Riverside Press), 1907, p. 56; digital images, Hathitrust ( : accessed 14 Sep 2015).

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tag Sale

Everyone has heard that Evernote is the best thing since sliced bread, and is a must-have for the genealogist's toolbox....right?  A completely searchable database of whatever you choose to save, available on computer, phone and tablet -- what's not to like?  Despite all the hoopla, I keep hearing colleagues quietly scratching their heads, without a clue about how they can really use Evernote for their research.  

I admit up front that I have a tendency to adopt a new technology and embrace it as the definitive solution, only to drop it just as quickly when it doesn't quite work the way I had hoped (remember Zotero, anyone?)  So this time, I've waited before jumping to a conclusion.  It has now been more than a year since Evernote has been an integral part of my research procedures, and I am confident that I really use it...I might even add that I would be lost without it.  

Evernote has intuitive tools to capture data from a wide variety of sources: images and data from the internet, items you email directly to the program, as well as screen captures and data files from your computer.  You can upload 60 MB per month with a basic account, or 10 GB with a premium account.  Contrary to what you might think given this kind of capacity, I use Evernote primarily to manage my research, not as a place to store data.  

When I first started to use Evernote, it seemed logical to attach all the digital records I found, but then I started to see my data scattered in different locations.  Sometimes it was easy to add a document to Evernote, and other times it was just easier to file it on my computer.  I like consistency, and in the end I decided I am more comfortable storing my data in one place on my computer, in a single filing system that I set up a long time ago.  Evernote was designed to be a productivity tool, not a data storage or back-up system. 

The way I actually use Evernote evolved organically.  I was preparing for a visit to an out of town library and happened to have Evernote open, so I cut and pasted entries from the online catalog into a note.  Within Evernote, I saw that I could add checkboxes to each item, which made it simple to mark them off as I used them at the library.  I could also annotate the catalog entry with remarks about each item as I used it.  It wasn't until much later that I realized I had created a research log... and it required no advance set up or extra steps along the way.  It was easy.  

Another time, I was doing some background reading for a project,  collecting URLs relating to that subject, and decided to gather all the links into a single note.  Ta da! Instantly I had a portable set of completely searchable bookmarks.  Filing a bookmark on my computer is like sending it into the black hole -- it is lost forever.  In Evernote, I never forget why I bookmarked a page because you can annotate to your hearts content, bookmarks are never lost since every word is searchable, and as a result, I actually use them!

By this time, I started to get a sense of what I could do with Evernote.  I set up timelines for the major players in my family tree, with links to online data and citations to other relevant information documenting their lives.  I created tables detailing when my various database subscriptions and society memberships expire.  I added notes containing shared segments and contact information for all my known DNA matches -- just to name a few of the possibilities. Evernote also comes to my rescue when I'm tempted by a "Bright Shiny Object," or BSO(1)  -- just add it to a note and investigate it later.

So here's my secret to making this work:  use tags.  

Yes, Evernote is every-word searchable, but you will make life easier on yourself if you are able to quickly and easily retrieve like items.  Tags allow you to retrieve similar items in one easy search:   all your "to do" items, for example, or everything relating to "DNA."  I mentioned how I use Evernote to create a library catalog list:

  • I tag that note "to do," and add tags for the name of the repository and the relevant person or research question.  
  • When the search is completed, I delete the "to do" tag and replace it with a "research log" tag.  
  • By searching on a combination of tags, you have a flexible way to limit or expand the notes that are returned on any search.  For example: "to do" plus "New York" plus "Schoharie Co" = everything I have to do relating to Schoharie County, NY.  "Research plan" plus "family name" =  all the research plans I have created relating to one particular family, regardless of location...the possibilities for targeted searches are endless.

The most important key to making this work is to have a set of naming conventions and rigorously adhere to them.  Make sure your tags identify a note's "who, what, when, where, why"  qualities, as appropriate.  Here are mine:

1) Tag by name of the family or research project.
2) Tag by place.  I always include the state; including tags for the county or town level depends on usage.  
3) If including actual source material, tag it by type of record:  for example, cemetery, court document, correspondence, land, newspaper, probate/will, vital record, etc.   Also include such record types as finding aides and indexes; it is very useful to have this information handy when you are at the repository. 
4) If I am making a note from data that I have manipulated, I add a tag for what I have done to it, for example:  analysis, research log, research plan, timeline.
5) Tag by actions taken or to be taken: to do, fix this!, BSO. 
6) Tag by repository or location of action to be done.
7) Tag by purpose, for example for background reading, online coursework, etc.
8) Tag by status, for example: pending, complete, uncertain ID.  

Being consistent with your tagging is crucial:  choose a standardized way to spell your tags -- for example, don’t abbreviate some states and spell out others.  If you are working fast and don’t have time to figure out the best tag for a note, you can leave it blank (typing: -tag:* in the search field will bring up all untagged notes) OR just tag it “fix this!” and get back to it later.  I make it a plan to review and clean up my Evernote files once a week.

I don’t worry so much about using Evernote notebooks.  If you are really good at tagging, you don’t need them, and deciding which notebook to use can slow down data entry.

I'd love to hear how others use Evernote, so let me know what works for you!

(1)   "BSO:" I think Thomas MacEntee coined this phrase, which captures the lure of a new avenue of research when we should be focusing on whatever task is in front of us.  I used to call it the squirrel syndrome.  It's my biggest "time thief."

Monday, August 3, 2015

Simultaneous states of being....

About a year ago, I started a series of sketches about my own life for "future genealogy," so in that vein, here's another installment.

I had a great childhood.  My father was a Naval officer and we were constantly on the move. With all that upheaval, my description of a “great” childhood might seem a bit surprising.  The “great” part came from all the unique experiences we had as a family over the years, and I would say that living in Japan topped the list.  From 1968 to 1970, Dad was stationed at the Navy base in Yokosuka, about an hour and a half south of Tokyo.  It is one of those places that seems to hold special memories for anyone who has ever lived there.⁠1  I loved it because I had the freedom to roam around on my bike without parental supervision, and movies at the theater were free.  I think my mom most enjoyed the fact that there were 360 yen to the dollar.

My mother always likes to try new things —“it’s an adventure!” is a phrase we heard often growing up.  So when she saw an ad in the paper seeking westerners for photographic modeling jobs, she thought it would be a fun thing for us to do.  Before long, our headshots were on file at the Eddie Arab Modeling Agency (which, by the way, is still in business today!)⁠2, and we were making regular trips up to Tokyo to meet the agency handler who would take us to the photo shoot.

Our meeting point was always the dog statue at the Shibuya train station. The statue commemorates Hachiko the dog, who punctually waited for his master’s train every day.  Even after he died, the dog continued his daily ritual of meeting the train for nine more years, until he himself died.  His fidelity has come to symbolize the ultimate expression of loyalty.  Naturally enough, the statue, placed at the spot where Hachiko waited for his master all those years, has become famous as a place to meet.⁠3  
Nancy (left) and Kathleen (right) at Shibuya train station, circa 1969
And I suppose Mom was right… in retrospect, modeling was an adventure!

...I became the face of Suzy Homemaker products,

And some really modern, space-age TV sets:

My sister was on everyone’s breakfast table ….
We were in a few commercials, too… I mostly played board games, while my sister appeared in ads for cameras (below), and Datsun (now known as Nissan).

For some odd reason we did a radio commercial once, saying the Japanese words for “It’s new!” in our American accents.

Mostly, though, we were in ads for clothing:

The 1960s may have been “mod” and “groovy,” but it was also the decade of protests and riots — in 1966, my family experienced some of the drama ourselves, which I wrote about here.  Japan didn’t escape the overall mood of that era, and had its own trouble with violent student protests.  Students weren’t just against the war in Vietnam, they were also concerned about the nuclear weapons coming into Japan on U.S. warships. In 1968, the approaching re-negotiation of the U.S.-Japanese Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security4 brought this issue to the forefront.  Whenever a ship carrying nukes docked at the base in Yokosuka, we could be sure of a demonstration outside of the main gate, complete with rocks and tear gas.  (Here’s a link to a photo of the main gate as it looked in the '60s--without the rocks in the air).  

We generally had advance notice of the protests, and were warned to be inside the gates well before they started.  On one of these days, however, my mother, sister, and I were in Tokyo for a photo shoot.   

“No worries,” they told us, when we told them about our deadline. “You will be finished in plenty of time to make your train.”  

Famous last words….  We ran over our time limit, and had to race to catch the only train that might get us back in time.

I remember the trains from Tokyo to Yokosuka were always crowded. 
My mom was pinched countless times, but people were generally nice to little kids.  I was regularly invited onto the laps of strangers (wait, that sounds bad…), and nobody minded when my sister fell asleep on them.
On this day, the trains were crowded as usual, but instead of cute little boys, as in the photo below, the train was full of young men, wearing helmets, carrying shields, and holding signs saying “Yankee Go Home.” It wasn’t quite so cute; we got more than our usual stares on the train that day.  
I remember feeling just a little uneasy on the trip home, but my mother was calm and upbeat as usual.  As our train was arriving in Yokosuka, though, we knew we might not make it to the gate in time.  Even Mom started to get a little nervous; once the gates were closed, there was no entry, under any circumstances.

At the door of the train, we stood ready to spring out and run for it the minute they opened...but we could see the crowds already gathering on the platform as we arrived — a solid mass of angry humanity.  It wasn’t a long walk to the base from the station, but on that day it could have been a walk to Mars.  As the doors opened, Mom took our hands grimly and was about to step into the crowd, when a fellow passenger, all decked out for battle, grabbed her by the arm and said:

“Don’t worry, come with me, and I'll get you to the base!”  

Without another word he pulled us along, and maneuvered through the crowd like a man who knew what he was doing.  Before long we reached the gate, just as it was beginning to close.  Relieved, we flashed our ID cards at the guards, and made it back inside to safety.  From my vantage point inside the gate, I watched our guardian angel melt in to the mob, and transform back into the angry protester, shaking his fist and shouting “Yankee Go Home.”  

Somehow, a person could hate and love  simultaneously.  I’m still trying to figure that one out.

For Further Reading......

     Gibney, Frank, “Politics and Governance in Japan,” in Richard A. Maidment, David S. Goldblatt, Jeremy Mitchell, editors.  Governance in the Asia-Pacific, London:  Routledge Pub., 1998.  E-Library edition pub. By Taylor & Francis, 2005, pp. 70-75 [, accessed 30 Jul 2015]

Hamaguchi, Takashi.  “Student Radicals, Japan 1968 – 69, website describing exhibit of photographs, Dec 4, 2014 – Jan 24, 2015, presented at the Taka Ishii Gallery Photography Paris [, accessed 30 Jul 2015]

Marotti, William.  "Japan 1968:  The Performance of Violence and the Theater of Protest," American Historical Review.  February 2009 [, accessed 30 Jul 2015]
Oguma, Eiji.  Translated by Nick Kapur with Samuel Malissa and Stephen Poland, “Japan's 1968: A Collective Reaction to Rapid Economic Growth in an Age of Turmoil.”  The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 13, Issue. 11, No. 1 [, accessed 30 Jul 2015].

Discussion Thread: “60s era Yokosuka demonstrations/riots against 'nukes’” 5 March 2009, [, accessed 30 Jul 2015].


(all photos from the collection of M.G.Hill; used with permission)
1 This is a very unscientific impression gleaned from postings on a closed Facebook Group “Yokosuka Naval Base Past and Present.” [ accessed 30 Jul 2015]
2 Kawaguchi, Judit, "Actor/Talent Agent Eido Sumiyoshi," The Japan Times 14 May 2009 [, accessed 30 Jul 2015]
3Ċ, accessed 31 July 2015
4, accessed 30 Jul 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015

Found -- Rare Photo of John Wilkes Booth!

I love to watch Antiques Roadshow on PBS. (... and yes, I also admit to a secret addiction to the History Channel's American Pickers).  These programs showcase the amazing things people find in their attics:  antiques, collectibles, and ephemera from the past.  The part I like best is the big reveal at the end, when people discover that the dirty old vase they were going to throw away turns out to be a Tiffany original.

I had my "Antiques Roadshow" moment not too long ago.  I have written before about an old family photo album that belonged to my husband's 2nd-great-grandmother -- see "St. Louis Civil War Era Cartes de Visite" and "More Civil War Era Cartes de Visite from St. Louis."  This album contains about 90 photos, some of which are clearly family members, but most are completely unidentified; only two were labeled.  I Googled the two names and discovered they were famous actors of the 1860s.  

Some time after I wrote that blog post, I was looking over the remaining photos trying to put them in categories, when one of them struck me as being familiar.  At first I thought it might be a photo of Edgar Allen Poe (that dark hair and brooding look), but then it hit was John Wilkes Booth.  Of course!  There were other famous actors in this album, and Booth was one of the most famous of his day.  I did a Google image search for him, and my photo was clearly the same man.  The problem was, I couldn't find the exact photo from my album anywhere else online.

I spent most of that day searching the web.  Even my husband got into the thrill of the hunt --this photo was handed down in his family, after all!  Eventually he was the one who tracked down a newsletter, The Rail Splitter,  published in 1999 by a company that deals in Lincoln memorabilia.  Scrolling down to page 32 of the newsletter, he found an article describing a previously unknown photo of John Wilkes Booth.

The photo was taken in 1861 or 1862, when Booth was performing in St. Louis and had a photo session there with some of his fellow actors.  The article described two new photos, which "represent the only known examples of cartes from the St. Louis session to remain extant."(1 ) Well, guess what.  I've got another one.  

Curious about how this photo came into the album, I started to look more carefully at the Wilcox family.   The album came to us through Hattie Jane Wilcox, my husband's 2nd-great-grandmother.  Hattie was born in 1837 in Quebec, Canada, daughter of Andrew Wilcox and his wife Mary Ann Matthews.  The family immigrated from Ireland, first settled in St. Louis, Missouri in the 1830s, lived in Canada for about ten years, and moved back to St. Louis by the late 1840s.  Hattie's brother James was identified as a "Daguerrian Assistant" in the 1870 census of St. Louis.(2)  
 The census taker transposed the names -- the head of household was Andrew Wilcox, and his son-in-law was Adam Hazzard.

At first, I suspected that many of the photos of elegant and formal people in this album, such as these, might have been obtained through James Wilcox's job as a photographic assistant.

After thinking about it, I concluded that, while possible, it is more likely that Hattie collected the photos herself.  James was only 20 in 1870, and revenue stamps and clothing date most of the photos to the early to mid-1860s.  He might have had access to the photos as a 12- to 15-year-old, if he was even working at that age, but more likely not.  Furthermore, the imprints on the reverse of the photos in this collection came from many different photographic studios in St. Louis, not just one, which might be the case if an employee collected them.  I engaged the expert on historic photographs, Maureen Taylor, for a consultation to help me understand more about this album.  She told me that just like we collect photos of movie stars today, people in that era collected CDV's of well-known figures,(3) so Hattie was likely a "fan."  

Don't you think that the hand hidden in Booth's pocket seems to portend the future?

I was one of those people who thought I didn't have anything that would ever make the cut on Antiques Roadshow... but I discovered that in the end, it is a lot more fun to figure out your own mysteries.

1. The Rail Splitter; A Journal For the Lincoln Collector, Vol. 5, No 1-2, July 1999, page 32, "Booth Exposed -- Once Again; The Discovery of Additional Unpublished Photographs." [  accessed 30 June 2015]
2.  1870 U.S. Census, St Louis Ward 7, St Louis, Missouri; NARA Microfilm Publication M593 Roll  817; Page: 540A; Image: 149.  [, accessed 30 June 2015]
3.  Maureen Taylor, Wilcox photo album consultation, 25 March 2015, MP3 file.  Privately held by client.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Working the FAN* club

I have connected with an energetic group of DNA cousins -- we know our common geographic location in Ireland, but are trying to work out exactly how we are all related.  It's not easy, since cousins married cousins and there are not many extant records documenting the families.  Unlike many of the group members who are Irish through and through, I am only linked through my paternal grandfather's maternal line.  So although I can only contribute a limited amount of information to the group, what I do have is straightforward.  

Thanks to the website, I have examined the marriage and baptismal records for two generations of my family in County Cork, together with the names of the baptismal sponsors, who were likely friends or relatives of the parents...and we all know the importance of thoroughly investigating our ancestors' Friends, Associates, and Neighbors!  

All of these records were from the parish of Muintervara.  The family's place of residence was written in ten different ways, reflecting the care or lack thereof with which the priest recorded the information.  (I'm noting my direct ancestors with a double asterisk "**")

I'm hoping that members of our DNA group will find their ancestors among the baptismal sponsors or marriage witnesses so we can compare notes.

Family of Timothy Kelly & Julia/Judith Leary

29 April 1830 (Marriage) Timy Kelly to Julia Leary, residence: Bantry.
Witnesses: Edwd Leary and Morgan Donovan.

**22 May 1831 (Baptism) Margaret, of Timothy Kelly and Julia Leary, residence: Danour.
Sponsors: Simon Collins and Margaret Boohan.

30 Sep 1832 (Baptism) Mary, of Timothy Kelly and Julia Leary, residence: Danour.
Sponsors: Eugene McCarty and Catherine Leary.

9 Mar 1834 (Baptism) Patrick, of Timy Kelly and Julia Leary, residence: Dunrour.
Sponsors: Dennis Carty and Cathe Lynch.

14 Mar 1836 (Baptism) Timothy, of Timothy Kelly and Judith Leary, residence: Dienois.
Sponsors: Edward Mullins and Mary Murphy.

2 May 1837 (Baptism) William, of Tim Kelly and Jude Leary, residence: Dunure.
Sponsors: James Daly and Bridget Kelly.

5 Feb 1839 (Baptism) John, of Timothy Kelly and Judith Leary, residence: Dunure.
Sponsors: Edmund Murphy and Mary Gallagher.

22 Aug 1841 (Baptism) Edmd, of Tim Kelly and Judith Leary, residence: Danure.
Sponsors: Charles Regan and Margt. Arundel.

12 Aug 1843 (Baptism) Jude, of Tim Kelly and Jude Leary, no residence.
Sponsors: DS Donovan and Margt. Donovan.

10 Aug 1845 (Baptism) Bridget, of Tim Kelly and Jude Leary, residence: Donure.
Sponsors: Tim Lynch and Kate Croneen.

Judith Leary appears as baptismal sponsor

5 Sep 1842 (Baptism) Judith, of Denis Carthy and Johanna Sullivan, residence: Ballycommon.
Sponsors: Judith Leary and DL Hurly.

19 Feb 1844 (Baptism) DL, of Jery Leary and Johanna Duggan, residence: Dunaholla.
Sponsors: Judith Leary and John Sullivan.

20 Aug 1848 (Baptism) John, of John Sullivan and Kitty Donovan, residence: Gurtrall.
Sponsors: Jude Leary and Pat Houlihane.

Family of John Flynn and Margaret Kelly

18 Sep 1855 (Marriage -- Church of Ireland) John Flynn [b. ca 1815] and Margaret Kelly [b. ca 1829], both signed by mark, residence: Donoor.
Witnesses: William Coghlan and David Burleigh.

"Irish Marriage Returns," Durrus Kilcrohane, Cork, Ireland, 18 Sep 1855, p. 661. FHL film # 101363.

Children -- all baptized in RC church

28 Feb 1858 (Baptism) Patk, of John Flynn and Margt Kelly, residence: Dunour.
Sponsors:  Edward Flynn and Mary Kelly.

20 Oct 1861 (Baptism) James, of John O'Flynn and Margrett Kelly, residence: Dounour.
Sponsors: Edwd Kelly and Mary O'Driscoll.

**27 Jun 1864 (Baptism) Julia, of John Flynn and Margret Kelly, residence: Doonoor.
Sponsors:  James Flynn and Bridget Kelly.

2 Sep 1866 (Baptism) Anne, of John Flynn and Margt Kelly, residence: Dhunour.
Sponsors: Jno and Catherine Brien.

3 Jul 1870 (Baptism) Denis, of John Flynn and Margaret Kelly, residence: Doonoor.
Sponsors: Jerh Leyhane and Catherine Lynch.

14 Jul 1872 (Baptism) Margarita, of Joannes Flynn and Margarite Kelly, residence: Droamclough.
Sponsors: Thomas Kelly and Maria Kelly.

12 Jul 1874 (Baptism) Abby, of John Flynn and Margrett Kely, no residence.
Sponsors: Cors Flynn and Johanna Hourigan.

My great-grandmother was Julia Mary Flynn, who came to America sometime in the 1880s -- You can find my earlier posts about my search for her family here.

*Note:  The FAN club is Elizabeth Shown Mills' acronym for "Friends, Associates, and Neighbors."  Thorough research should always include the records of those people whose lives touched your ancestors!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Taming the Dragon

Last week, I broke my right arm .... and let me definitely confirm that this slows down the family history research process.

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right?  So I've turned this setback to good use.  

Awhile back I was researching various options to help me transcribe the mountains of handwritten documents I've accumulated over the years and came across Dragon Dictate voice dictation software, but dismissed it as being too expensive.  

A day or two of hunting and pecking with my left hand quickly justified the expense.  I also have to admit that the idea of commanding my computer with my voice, a la Captain Kirk, had a certain appeal.

Dragon for Mac was extremely easy to install and set up.  I read a few stories to my computer to train the software to recognize my voice, and that was it!  Within minutes I was reading a document out loud, and the words magically appeared on my screen.   Think about how time-consuming it is to type a transcription while you're trying to decipher the handwriting.  With voice dictation software, all you have to do is focus on what you're reading.  Your transcription accuracy also improves since your eyes don't have to switch back and forth from one document to the other, and you are less likely to lose your place.

One caveat--you probably won't produce a literal transcription of your historical document with all its strange spellings, because Dragon transcribes what it hears into modern standard English.  I think that if you study the editing commands you can have more control over the vagaries of your ancestors' spelling and punctuation, but I wanted to jump right in....perfection can wait! 

I also discovered a bonus use for Dragon--its a great tool for taking research notes!  I was looking for several families in the NY land indexes on FamilySearch yesterday and noticed that if I read the index entry (and full citation) out loud, I automatically produced a neat "to do" list for this class of records.  No more stopping and starting each time I find an entry of interest so I can write it down.  I freely admit to being dazzled by the so-called BSOs (bright shiny objects), so anything that keeps me focused on one thing at a time is a worthwhile investment!

The only thing that confuses me is why the Mac edition of Dragon Dictate is nearly twice as expensive as the PC version -- but once I got over that, I've been extremely pleased with the software.  

PS--with some editing, this blogpost was entirely produced using Dragon!  I will note, however, that it works better when you know exactly what you are going to say, and not quite as well when you are still thinking.  Reminds me of the Berlitz commercial...

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Go Fish!

I don't know about you, but until recently, the whole DNA thing has been pretty disappointing.  I feel like we are constantly playing our own version of the old "Go Fish" game when we contact our DNA matches:

"Do you have a William Green in your family?"

And the game goes on, because the likelihood that you and your genetic match have both identified your common ancestor is not terribly high.  Your actual DNA connection is probably two generations before your earliest known ancestor, or even more likely, hidden behind women who all have different surnames than their father.

Not only that, but getting information from your matches can be like pulling teeth.  FtDNA has the best tools for comparing DNA, but not many of their customers post family trees, so it is hard to have any sense of where in the world your potential match comes from.  While Ancestry is all about family trees, the company takes the paternal approach and tells you that you are related.  The lack of tools for users to compare and contrast the data for themselves just means you are relying on the accuracy of the posted family trees; you will miss the matches who either have it wrong or don't post at all!

I have been reading the DNA blogs for some time, and have been fascinated with the work of Roberta Estes, Blaine Bettinger, CeCe Moore and others.  This is an entirely new way of recording our ancestors -- even to the point of some day recreating ancestral DNA -- and it finally reached a critical mass for me just before I went to RootsTech.

I actually had a problem to solve.  A DNA cousin contacted me with new information and we needed to find other relatives so we could prove or disprove a hypothesis.  All you need to make it interesting is to have people who share a common segment of DNA and some kind of information about the potential ancestor.  By creating a spreadsheet with all the various permutations of who matches whom and on which chromosome, you can gradually begin to identify particular DNA segments as belonging to ancestral individuals.  

Kitty Cooper put it succinctly:  "The way to prove the common ancestor is to see if A and B match each other in the same place that they match you. This is what we call triangulation."1   In this particular case, it was no dice.  The problem that spurred me to tackle DNA research on a practical level fizzled out with no solution, since the third person did not match on the same segment where the second person matched my mother and uncle.  But now that I see the possibilities, I have been combing my match lists for people I know for a fact are cousins and recording their data on a spreadsheet.  

This is a section of the spreadsheet I created to show five different individuals who match my uncle on Chromosome 5.   My uncle, mother, and one of these matches are all known descendants of Reuben Hill, a Revolutionary War soldier from Rutherford Co, NC.  The others are matches on FtDNA who share roughly the same segment of DNA. Most importantly, all of these people also match each other.

Now of course I can't say (yet) that this area on Chromosome 5 belongs to Reuben Hill (or his wife Margaret Brien).  It's just that sharing this particular segment -- together with the traditional genealogical research I've done on this line -- really narrows down the field, and gives me something to talk about when I contact the other matches.  

I am no longer playing "Go Fish."
1. Cooper, Kitty. "Triangulation -- Proving a Common Ancestor." Web Blog Post, "Kitty Cooper's Blog.", 26 Feb 2015, accessed 27 Feb 2015.

Some great reading:

DNAeXplained -- Genetic Genealogy (Roberta Estes):

Triangulation for Autosomal DNA
Chromosome Mapping -- AKA Ancestor Mapping
Chromosome Browser War
Demystifying Autosomal DNA Matching
How Phasing Works and Determining IBD Versus IBS Matches
A Study Utilizing Small Segment Matching
Getting the Most Out of AncestryDNA

The Genetic Genealogist (Blaine Bettinger): 

Your Genetic Genealogist (CeCe Moore):

The Folly of Using Small Segments as Proof in Genealogical Research, Pt. 1

Kitty Cooper's blog:

Triangulation -- Proving a Common Ancestor

International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

More civil war-era cartes de visite from St. Louis

Happy New Year!

Apropos of nothing, here are more photos from the Wilcox photo album that I wrote about last year.  Two of these images are labeled, and a Google search identified the individuals as popular actors from the 1860s.  Perhaps members of the Wilcox family were fond of the theatre...

One rogue California photo is also in the mix, but otherwise all images are from St. Louis and unfortunately none of them are identified.  One photo includes a revenue stamp, indicating that it was taken between 1864 and 1866, the period in which this tax was in effect.  For more on the subject of photographic taxes, see this post in the GenealogyBank blog.  Several items are not actual photographs, but popular CDVs containing sentimental images of animals and children.

Lester Wallack -- American Actor

Maggie Mitchell -- American Actress

rogue California photo, sorry!

Doesn't this guy look a lot like the man just below?

Two Little Fraid Cats Currier & Ives, New York: 2nd Half 19th Century

This was a very popular image in the 1860s

See another image of this gentleman, a few photos below

This is a second shot of the gentleman seen above

The green stamp indicates that this image was valued between 26-50 cents, and paid a 3 cent tax