Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How I'm Methodically Finding My Missing Ancestors

I spent this past weekend hunting. For people. For a few of my missing fifth great grandparents.

And I found them!

Because I write this blog twice a week, I've gotten very focused on how I do things. I'm filling in my Grandparent Chart ancestor by ancestor by following my own advice.

Let me show you how I'm methodically adding the names of missing ancestors to my family tree.

Step One: Have Resources Ready to View

I've downloaded a massive number of vital records, waiting for me to review.
My collection of documents.
Your resources might be online genealogy sites or microfilm at a library.

If your ancestors were Italian, their town's vital records might be on the Antenati website. If so, I hope you've used the GetLinks program to download all the records to your computer. (See Collect the Whole Set!)

I have vital records from my Italian ancestral hometowns on my desktop. I'm processing these thousands of images in a couple of ways:
  • One-by-one I'm typing their facts into a spreadsheet database.
  • I'm choosing someone from my family tree to pursue—going after their birth, marriage and death records.
It's important to have my family tree software open as I go through the images. I can check out any familiar name to see if they're a relative.

Step Two: Crop and Add Facts to Images
add facts directly to images, and they'll be pulled into your family tree software
Annotating images.
When I find a document for someone who belongs in my family tree:
  • I rename the image file so it's easy to find again.
  • I drag the image into Photoshop to crop it and save it with its final name in my folder of vital records.
  • I right-click the image and choose Properties, and then the Details tab. Here I can annotate the images and enter the title as I want it to appear in my family tree. For example, "1811 birth record for Maria Vincenza Liguori". In the Comments section, I enter the URL where the image exists online.

Step Three: Add Images and Facts to Tree

always add all the details you can to an image in your family tree
Adding more details to images.
I drag the annotated image into my family tree software. I edit its properties there, adding the date of the event. I add the facts to the person in my tree, too. In some cases, the document has other names—parents and spouses—that I can add to my tree.

I like to set the most important image I have for a person as their profile picture. This is helpful when I'm looking at the family view. I can see at a glance that I've already found someone's birth record, for example.

Step Four: Update Index of Images

keeping an inventory of what you've found can save you lots of time
Adding newly found documents to my Document Tracker spreadsheet.
I make a quick update to my Document Tracker. This is the spreadsheet that acts as my inventory of documents I've added to my family tree.

Step Five: Add New Ancestor Names to Grandparent Chart

this ancestor chart (you can download a blank version) shows exactly who you have and who you're missing
My Grandparent Chart keeps track of my ancestor-finding progress.
If a document gives me the name of a direct-line ancestor I was missing, I add them to my Grandparent Chart.

Step Six: Add New Last Names to My Surname Chart

Can you keep all your ancestors' last names in your hear? No? Try building this list.
My surname list.
I found five new names this weekend of my 5th great grandparents. But only one had a brand new last name for my family tree. So I added d'Andrea to my list of 70 direct-line last names.

I may be methodical, but I can work on a whim, too. Sometimes I choose a year and start documenting the vital records in my spreadsheet. If that leads me to a brand new ancestor, I'm thrilled!

Other times I begin with my Grandparent Chart and choose a target. Which missing ancestor do I want to find?

That's how I found one particular set of 5th great grandparents this weekend. I'd discovered a 4th great grandmother named Apollonia Caruso.

I love that name. I can't see or hear the name Apollonia without thinking of "The Godfather, Part II."

But I didn't know her parents' names. She married before 1809—the year the Italian civil record keeping began.

I found her children's birth records, but they don't include her parents' names. So I found her son, my 3rd great grandfather Francesco Saverio Liguori's 1840 marriage records.

Apollonia had died by then. Her death record should have been included. Instead, there was a long letter explaining that she had died, but no one could remember when! The town clerk couldn't find her death record because he didn't know where to look.

I decided to do his job and find her death record.

This story deserves a separate blog post, so let's just say I found her death record, and much more! I'll tell you how I did it next time.

Stay connected! Follow me on Twitter or Facebook and know the moment a new article comes out.

Friday, January 26, 2018

When You Can't Find Your Ancestor on a Map

I'm working on the ultimate database of my ancestral hometowns in the 19th century. I'm typing the important facts into a spreadsheet as I examine:
  • birth records
  • death records
  • marriage records
from all my ancestors' hometowns in Italy. My husband thinks I'm crazy, of course. But every detail fascinates me.

The facts I'm pulling from each vital record include:
  • names
  • dates
  • occupations
  • ages
  • addresses
A family's address in an 1866 Italian birth record. The village is seen after the father's name. The street is seen after the mother's name.
A family's address in an 1866 Italian birth record. The village is seen after the father's name. The street is seen after the mother's name.
The beauty of the spreadsheet is this:

When I discover a new relative, I can search the spreadsheet to see if I've already got his siblings or his parents. If I do, I can piece together more about this family.

Neighborhood names are seen in larger text on a Google or Bing map.
Neighborhood names are seen in larger text.
I can spot some patterns, too. I've noticed that many of my closer ancestors will have the same address.

In 19th century rural Italy, these are not street addresses and house numbers like we know today. They are sections, neighborhoods, clusters of houses. You can imagine that in more modern times, mail delivery made it necessary to have house numbers. But when my ancestors lived there, family members built their homes next to one another. As time went by, children grew up and married, and they built more houses near their relatives.

These neighborhoods may have changed names over the years. Some of the rural sections may not be quite as rural as they were. Tempi cambi—times change.

If you are taking note of the place where your ancestor lived, you may not be able to find it on a map today. But it's still helpful to compare the addresses of different family members. Let's say one family lived in Neighborhood A, and another in Neighboorhood B. If the families intermarried, where did they live?

Here's a very helpful website that explains the different Italian street types. I found out many of my ancestors' addresses were like township or hamlet names in America.

In fact, my mom's ancestors come from a township called Pastene. That's the name of the place my grandmother and great aunt often said their parents came from.

But when their parents and grandparents came to America, they said they were from Sant'Angelo a Cupolo. It turns out that Pastene is a township of Sant'Angelo a Cupolo.

So, how can you figure out where on the map your ancestors lived?

On Google Maps or Bing Maps, you may not get a lot of detail for your European ancestral hometown. You can zoom all the way in, and you can see how it looks when you're driving down the street. But you can't see the names of the tiniest outlying streets.

So look for the neighborhood names—those clusters where extended families used to live. When I look at the map of Pastene, the bigger names surrounding it are villages. I recognize these names from my 19th century documents. Perrillo, Panelli, Montorsi, Maccoli, Motta.

Having a map of the town open while you try to read the place name on an 1850 birth certificate can come in handy.

You may not be able to pinpoint your ancestor's home, but finding their neighborhood is something to celebrate.

The TomTom app shows more street names.
The TomTom app shows
more street names.
Here's a tip for anyone who uses a GPS and has access to international maps. You can see more street names with your GPS than on Bing or Google.

My GPS is a TomTom, and I have their app on my smartphone. When I search for Pastene in the app, I can zoom in and see more street names. Its search function is very smart, and can help you find the area you want.

If you can find an online phone directory for the country you want, you may be able to search for an address. For example, on the Italian White Pages site, I can choose to search by address. The form asks me to provide a locality (town), address and number. I entered an address from an 1866 birth record: Sant'Angelo a Cupolo, Contrada Lesi. As I typed, the website gave me the closest match: Via Lesi.

And OMG, of the four families living on that street, one has the same last name as my grandmother: Sarracino!

An online phone directory finds the new street name.
An online phone directory finds the new street name.
Whichever country and town you're researching, use everything you can to do pinpoint your ancestors:
  • online maps
  • GPS maps
  • online searches, particularly Google and Wikipedia
  • online phone directories
Putting pins on a map, even if they mark a neighborhood and not a house, can help you understand where your roots lie.

Stay connected! Follow me on Twitter or Facebook and know the moment a new article comes out.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How to Handle Foreign Words in Your Family Tree

My great great grandfather was a domenstico, or servant.
I record occupations in my ancestor's language.
Years ago I dove headfirst into transcribing Italian vital records for my family tree. I visited a Family History Center, viewed the microfilm, and typed into my laptop. I memorized the Italian words for numbers, months and family members.

When a document included a person's occupation, I typed the Italian word and kept going. I didn't translate the words on the spot, but later I created a file of Italian occupations and their English definitions.

It's so helpful to make a translation list for yourself.
My Italian occupations cheat-sheet.
The translation file helped me memorize many words, but I entered only the Italian occupation in my family tree. I felt it made sense for my ancestors who never left Italy.

But now I'm thinking more about my family tree as a legacy. If someone else continues my work, these Italian words may not be understood.

Wouldn't it be better to include the Italian word and its English translation? Uh oh. How can I make this sweeping change to my tree of more than 19,000 people?

Find and Replace is in the FTM Edit menu.
Hiding in plain sight.
I decided to try the Find and Replace feature in Family Tree Maker. It's in the Edit menu.

You can use find and replace to makes lots of improvements and corrections. But be careful. Think hard about unintended changes that might happen. For example, if you wanted to replace "Smith" because you found out your ancestors were actually named Smythe, what would happen to your cousin who was born in Smithtown, Long Island?

I did a test changing "calzolaio" to "calzolaio (shoemaker)". I checked the boxes to find whole words only and look only in facts and notes. Then I clicked Replace All.

It was a success.

My Find and Replace changed 180 entries.
Click once, fix 180 entries. Not bad!
Now I can work through the most common Italian occupations in my family tree. Then I'll look at some other facts I wish I'd recorded differently. For example, long ago I recorded every immigration fact the same way, beginning with the words, "Arrived aboard the..." followed by the ship name. Later I changed where I put the ship name. Maybe I can use find and replace to bring more uniformity to my facts.

The finished product: My ancestor's job in Italian and English.
It's more useful with the English translation.
The lion's share of the people in my family tree were born and died in Italy. I believe in preserving some of their facts in Italian. Aside from occupations, I record the Italian names of the churches where they married. Chiesa di San Leonardo Abate and Chiesa di San Giorgio Martire.

Think about two things:
  • Which original-language facts do you want to preserve?
  • How can you prevent that foreign-language information from losing its meaning?
Does your family tree software have a find and replace feature?

Stay connected! Follow me on Twitter or Facebook and know the moment a new article comes out.

Friday, January 19, 2018

How to Keep Track of All Your Surnames

I'm in the midst of a huge genealogy project, trying to find the common ancestors my parents share.

Yup. DNA analysis shows that my parents are distant cousins. By adding more and more great grandparents to my ancestor chart, I should find the couple that connects my parents.

If you've had a DNA test, you should be able to download your raw DNA file. Then you can create a free account at GEDmatch.com and upload your raw DNA file there for analysis. One of their tests is called "Are you parents related?" See Free DNA Analysis Finds Kissing Cousins.

I've also had my parents' DNA tested, and Ancestry DNA estimates they are third to fifth cousins. That's why I'm scouring my downloaded Italian vital records for that one magic couple.

As I explained last time, I'm trying to be efficient with those Italian records. I'm entering the basic facts into a spreadsheet, and focusing on the names that matter most to me. See Genealogy: Where Endless Searching is Part of the Fun.

Filter your family tree index by ancestors-only.
Last night I found the last name d'Emilia in some early 1800s marriage records. My fifth great grandfather was Ferdinando d'Emilia and his father was Giuseppe d'Emilia.

So I grabbed all the details from these marriage records and compared them to my Family Tree Maker file. I had a hit! Annamaria, Francesco Saverio and Costantino d'Emilia were the siblings of Ferdinando and the children of Giuseppe d'Emilia.

Color coding lets you limit your display.
But what if I'd forgotten that I had d'Emilia in my tree? My family tree has more than 19,000 people. That's a crazy amount of last names.

How can I keep them all top-of-mind while I'm searching through these Italian documents?

Today I found a feature in my family tree software that I've never used before. It's a filter you can add to the name index. This allowed me to show the names of only my direct ancestors. That's the list of names I want to remember as I'm sifting through my collection of vital records.

I can also restrict the index by using Family Tree Maker's new color-coding feature. I gave my ancestors a green color. If I click on green, only my ancestors appear in the index.

Then I realized I could customize a report to show:
  • only my ancestors
  • only last names
  • no other facts
A filtered index and a filtered report give me only the names of my direct ancestors.
This leaves me with a list of my last names.

It's a long way to go, I realize. But if I can commit those names to memory, or glance at the list, it will help me find that missing link for my parents.

The lesson: Break out of your comfort zone. Explore everything your genealogy software or genealogy website can do for you.

Stay connected! Follow me on Twitter or Facebook and know the moment a new article comes out.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Genealogy: Where Endless Searching is Part of the Fun

All last week I was looking forward to my three-day weekend. I would have so much fun with non-stop genealogy!

Chasing genealogy facts is this much fun.
©The Simpsons
Saturday was great. I identified more than 200 people in my family tree who were not connected to me. These are families I think belong to me, but I haven't yet found the connection. And I also found 11 people to delete from my tree.

I attached one image to each of these people so I could find them again anytime. (See How to Handle the Unrelated People in Your Family Tree, and be sure to read my comments at the end.)

Sunday was full of distractions. Once things settled down, I got productive. I documented in a spreadsheet every 1810 marriage from my Grandpa Iamarino's hometown.

I'm documenting births, marriages and deaths to meet two of my genealogy goals for 2018 (see What Are Your Genealogy Goals for 2018?):
  • Log my downloaded documents from the Antenati website into a spreadsheet.
  • Find my parents' connection (our DNA says they're distant cousins).

I hope these early Italian vital records contain the ancestors my mom and dad have in common.

Yesterday I had a wonderfully productive day documenting these towns. I'm using a time-saving, productivity-boosting technique that you can use, too.

I record the basics from each document. When I find someone I need, I fill in
all the facts and put them straight into my family tree.
A Tip for Large-Scale Research Projects

I have thousands of vital record images from my ancestral Italian hometowns on my computer (and backed up in two places). Now I have to harvest them for family tree information.

Slogging through one year of marriage records for one town, as I did on Saturday, is very slow and tedious. If I weren't obsessed, I'd have given up.

Then I realized I can find the juiciest documents faster by using this method:
  • Open up your family tree software.
  • Go through an image collection, such as one year's marriages, one at a time. Enter the most basic information for each document into your data spreadsheet. This could be nothing more than the document number and the names and ages of the bride and groom.
  • When you see a last name of interest, check your family tree. Are the bride or groom in your tree already? How about their parents?
  • When you find a match, even if it's a distant match, examine that document. Enter all its facts into your spreadsheet.
  • If this document belongs in your family tree, put the facts and image into your tree now.

I followed this method yesterday with Photoshop open, too, so I could crop the images before putting them into my tree.

Thanks to this more efficient method, I completed the 1811 and 1812 marriages. All the basic information from these hundreds of documents is in my spreadsheet. Plus, the 10 or so marriages including my maiden name of Iamarino are now in my family tree.

Oh, and I had one more document open. That was my document tracker where I keep my up-to-date inventory of every document image I've placed in my family tree. (See Track Your Genealogy Finds and Your Searches.)

I can see it now. I can see how I'm going to spend nearly every waking moment when I hit retirement age. This passion for genealogy gives us all a reason to live to at least 100. We'll never be finished with our genealogy research. But the search is very much part of the fun.

Stay connected! Follow me on Twitter or Facebook and know the moment a new article comes out.

Friday, January 12, 2018

How to Handle the Unrelated People in Your Family Tree

They probably belong in your family tree, right? Those families with your name, from your town. You have every reason to believe they're related to you.

But you haven't found that connecting ancestor yet.

So you've got these disconnected families floating in your family tree file. They sit there, waiting for you to find the connection.

How easily can you find those families you added long ago, so you can work on finding out more about them?

Here's a solution I hope you'll try.

A graphic like this helps you find disconnected people in your family tree.
Use an image like this to identify
unattached people in your family tree at a glance.
I've written three times in the past about a software program called Family Tree Analyzer. I was astonished when I discovered this free program. It does exactly what I'd been struggling to write a program to do. But it does it better than I could ever have done. And it does much more than my program ever would have done.

Get the latest version of the program at http://ftanalyzer.com (for Windows only). You may need to uninstall the previous version before you can install this one.

Here's the feature I want you to look at. First, export a current GEDCOM file from your family tree software. Then run Family Tree Analyzer and import the GEDCOM.

Click the second tab, labelled Individuals, to see a line for every person in your tree. Go all the way over to the Relation column and click it to sort your people by their relation to you.

You'll see:
  • Blood relations
  • Relations by marriage
  • Direct ancestors
  • People married to your direct blood relations
  • The root person (presumably you), and finally,
  • Unknown
These are the people in your tree who are not attached to you—whether by accident or on purpose.

If you can print to a PDF file, go ahead and print this relation-sorted view. You can refer to it again and again, taking advantage of the search function of the PDF file. Don't print to paper! It's going to be a lot of pages. Mine is 1,358 pages.

Click back to the first tab for a second; the one labelled Gedcom Stats. Beneath the "Loading file" messages you'll see how many of each type of relationship you have. My file says:

Direct Ancestors : 189
Blood Relations : 1456
Married to Blood or Direct Relation : 543
Related by Marriage : 12480
Unknown relation : 4959

That last number, 4,959 unknown relations, comes as a big shock to me. That's a lot! How many families have I collected on speculation? Further inspection shows me that very distant, convoluted relations are labelled Unknown. That includes father-in-law of cousin of sister-in-law of me.

Now you've got the list of unrelated people. Forgive me, but I can't remember where I heard this next tip. I wrote it in a notebook that makes me think I saw it on a YouTube genealogy video. And I subscribe only to Ancestry.com's Crista Cowan, so this tip may belong to her.

Here it is: Create a graphic image (or borrow mine from this article) that says something like "No Relation". Attach this image to each person on your list of unknown relations from Family Tree Analyzer. Make it their profile picture.

Now, the unrelated people will be easily visible. Better yet, in Family Tree Maker I can select an image from my tree's image library and see a list of who it is attached to.

The goal now is to focus on these unrelated families. Do the legwork. Find out all you can about them, keeping an eye open for that missing link to you.

After some research, you may decide to remove some unrelated people from your family tree.

And one day, you may find that your "No Relation" people, are no more!

Stay connected! Follow me on Twitter or Facebook and know the moment a new article comes out.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Build Your Own Genealogy Research Library

You can have your own genealogy research library
I've been building my fortified family tree for 15 years. I started by writing down facts in a black and white composition notebook. I graduated to Family Tree Maker software so I could see the bigger picture. I developed a meticulous digital filing system.

After all these years, you know what I discovered? I have my own genealogy research library!

And you can, too.

What's In My Library

If you've been enjoying this genealogy hobby for any length of time, I'll bet you've gotten better at it. You've learned. You've figured out how to do things. You've gathered a lot of facts and materials.

My largest, most valuable collection of genealogy data contains Italian birth, marriage and death records from my ancestral hometowns. I have about 40 gigabytes of these vital records on my computer. They're there for me anytime I want to trace a family back to Italy. (See Collect the Whole Set!)

I think I found this woman in my research library
I realized I have a genealogy research library while looking at a family photo from the summer of 1930. After 10 years, I still didn't know the exact identity of a woman in the photo and her relationship to me.

Here's what I did know. The woman, who was several years older than my grandmother (also in the photo), was named Pastore and was somehow related to my Sarracino family. That's my grandmother's maiden name.

Then it hit me. I have all those vital records from the Italian hometown of my Sarracino ancestors. Why don't I look through them for anyone named Pastore and see what I can find?

Putting My Library to Use

My collection for their town (Sant'Angelo a Cupolo) begins in 1861. My grandmother was born in 1899. Based on how she looks compared to Grandma, the Pastore woman in the photograph was born in the 1880s.

I'm transcribing facts from thousands of Italian vital records into a massive spreadsheet...in my spare time. That will make searches much easier. It's going to take a lot of time, but what an amazing resource it will be!

That project is far from finished. So I looked through the Sant'Angelo a Cupolo birth indexes, and I found a Pastore. Not the woman in the photograph, but a boy named Nicolantonio Pastore with a mother named…can you guess?…Maria Giuseppa Sarracino.

Aha! A Pastore-Sarracino connection. "Let's keep searching," I thought. I found six Pastore babies born to Carmine Pastore and Maria Giuseppa Sarracino between 1877 and 1889.

The last one I found is the prize. The moment I saw her 1889 birth record, Maria Carmela Pastore became my number one prospect to grow up to be the woman in the photo.

I needed more information, so I turned to another wing of my genealogy research library.

In my "shoebox" on Ancestry.com, I'd saved a ship manifest. It was a 1902 passage from Naples to New York of a mother and daughter. The mother was Maria Giuseppa Sarracino, and her daughter was 12-year-old Maria Carmela Pastore. They were going to join Carmine Pastore in the Bronx—in my family's neighborhood. All the ages and names matched.

Yesterday I added all these Pastore names, dates and documents to my Family Tree Maker file. At this moment, they are not connected to me in any way. But they will be; I have faith.

Here's my working theory. Maria Giuseppa Sarracino's father was Antonio. He may be my 3rd great grandfather, also named Antonio Sarracino.

I'll keep consulting my library and doing online searches to try to find the exact connection. I hope to prove or disprove my working theory.

What's In Your Library?

What about you? If you have Italian heritage, you absolutely must see if your ancestral hometown's documents are online. (See How to Use the Online Italian Genealogy Archives.)

If your roots are anywhere else, sign up for a free account with FamilySearch.org. See if they offer any collections from the towns that matter to you. Browse them online, or download a collection of images to your computer with a program called GetLinks. (For complete instructions, see the link above and scroll to the bottom of the article. The software is in Portuguese, so the instructions are important.)

As part of my 2018 to-do list (see What Are Your Genealogy Goals for 2018?), I wanted to create a thorough backup plan for my genealogy files. I've made my plan. I backed up my massive Italian vital record collection in two places (besides my hard drive): an external drive and Microsoft's OneDrive. Each of these offers me one terabyte of storage. The external drive cost $75 and the OneDrive space comes with my Office 365 subscription.

Try using bookmarks or the "shoebox" (if you use Ancestry.com) to hold onto items you think will help you later. It thrilled me to find the Sarracino-Pastore immigration record and a Pastore census form in my shoebox. Now they're in my Family Tree Maker file.

Every document or collection you can download or stick a pin in online, and every paper document you've gathered are the contents of your genealogy research library. Don't overlook the possibility that the answers you need are already in your hands.

Stay connected! Follow me on Twitter or Facebook and know the moment a new article comes out.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Start Your Rainy-Day Genealogy List

All genealogists have their top goals in mind. Trace their ancestors to the old country. Discover their great grandmother's maiden name. That's a given.

And I hope you've created your list of genealogy goals for the new year.

But now's a good time to create a rainy-day genealogy list. That's your list of leads you need to follow up on. It's those unexplored family relations you want to better understand. It's the mysteries you'd love to solve.

First, choose an obvious place to keep your list—a place where you won't overlook it, and you'll definitely see it a lot. How about the task list of your genealogy software? A notebook where you jot down facts as you find them? Or a text file on your computer desktop?

Next, look for breadcrumbs you've left for yourself in the past. For instance, ancestry.com has a shoebox feature. When I'm searching for an ancestor and see a document for someone interesting, I can put it in the shoebox for later.

Today I'm looking at a ship manifest in my shoebox for a woman named Giuseppa Sarracino who's married to Carmine Pastore. I have reason to believe she is the woman in a family photo given to me by my aunt. I've already found six babies born in Italy to a couple with the very same names.

Did I discover the woman on the right on a ship manifest?
This Pastore-Sarracino family is going on my rainy-day genealogy list right now.

Your list will help keep you from forgetting these interesting tidbits. When the day comes that you're frustrated with the genealogy goal you're working on, your rainy-day list could be the fun distraction you need!

Where will you start looking for your forgotten genealogy leads? Besides my ancestry.com shoebox, I have handwritten notes in different notebooks. When I go through those notebooks, I'm sure I'll find other leads that need my attention.

When I first started researching my family history, all I had was the Ellis Island website. I began filling a notebook with every immigrant who had a last name I knew or came from an Italian town I knew. Some of them made it into my family tree, but others are waiting impatiently in that notebook.

What if some of them are my overlooked blood relatives?

It's a brutal January in New York state this year, and tons of other places. You're bound to have a snow day or two. Wouldn't you like to use a snow day to explore something on your rainy-day genealogy list?

Stay connected! Follow me on Twitter or Facebook and know the moment a new article comes out.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Who's Borrowing Your Family Tree?

Each time I log into ancestry.com, I see a short list called "Recent Member Connect Activity". It shows me when someone has saved one of my images to their own tree.

Most of the images in my family tree are census forms, ship manifests and vital records. I downloaded most of them from Ancestry and attached them to my tree.

I don't mind if someone grabs those images for their own use. But I do like to see if I agree with them.

One woman borrowed my grandfather's immigration record and turned him into her uncle. He was not her uncle. That careless theft of my grandfather is the motivation for my blog. I want us to be more careful, methodical and scientific in our genealogy research.

One of today's "Recent Member Connect Activity" notifications is a possible missing link for me.

If this person has done his research well, we are third cousins once removed.
You see, my AncestryDNA match list includes a man called Lou. The same Lou borrowed some of my images. Maybe he had extra time during the holidays to work on his tree. Ancestry.com analyzed our trees and determined we are third cousins once removed.

My next step is to see for myself that his mother really is part of my Leone family. I'll do this by taking the basic information from his public tree and tracking down the proof on my own.

For example, I'll search for documents showing her parents' or siblings' names. If I find that proof, then I will agree with Lou.

At that point, I will contact him so we can work together. If he's correct, he will provide me with a new branch. I've documented my Leone family back about eight generations. So if this works out, Lou has a shipload of ancestors to import from my family tree.

People who don't want to pay for genealogy subscriptions seem to dislike Ancestry.com. But their constant advertising has exploded the number of people enjoying genealogy.

The more people there are working on their tree, the more people we have to share our finds with, and to gain from.

Whichever service you use, be sure to reach out to others and learn from each other.

Stay connected! Follow me on Twitter or Facebook and know the moment a new article comes out.