Thursday, February 21, 2013

DNA and me,

DNA testing has become very popular with genealogists in the last few years. I seriously doubt that you can attend a genealogy conference this year that won't offer  a track of sessions on this topic. I personally don't know that much about about DNA testing as it relates to genealogy, but I plan to attend the OGS Conference session on Thursday, Your DNA Fingerprint: The Imprint of Your Ancestors. It looks like a good introduction to DNA testing for genealogy purposes.

My son recently called my attention to 23and Me, a genetic testing company located in Mountain View, California. He had his DNA tested by this group and the results were fantastic. The website guides you through your DNA test results using interactive tools and online tutorials 

I checked out the website to see how user friendly it really is and I was very impressed. It explains genetics in an easy to understand way with loads of information. I suppose you could call it Genetics 101. You could spend at least an hour there learning the basics.  But, what impressed me the most was the cost - $99. You can sign up for a demo account which is free and take a tour of the website to see what it has to offer. 

It has never occurred to me to be afraid of what I might find out from genetic testing. If you have been doing family research long enough you will know there are going to be unexpected surprises. And everyone deals with them in his own way. There are mistakes and, very often lies, in every family tree. DNA results are not immune from this situation. Hopefully you won't let this possibility keep you from exploring you DNA. You just might have to be careful when sharing information with some family members. 

Health issues are a concern and you can either hide your head in the sand or work with your health care professional. If you already have death certificates dating back several generations, any serious health problems within the family are not going to be a total surprise anyway.

There is so much on this website; I definitely recommend that you check it out for yourself. Are Jimmy Buffet and Warren Buffet related? Maybe. Check out the connection between 23andMe and Finding Your Roots on PBS!

Definitely worth the time! Good luck!

Please note: This website offers gift certificates.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Not bad, considering. . . . .

Well, I got that email. You all know the one I'm talking about. The one that pops up after you have turned in all your flawless research that no one is ever going to dispute. 

And it turned out that my ancestors were born.

And it turned out that my ancestors successfully passed away.

And everyone was married.

Except for my parents!

They looked married. We all lived in the same house. I called them Mom and Dad. Hello, we opened presents together on Christmas morning. 

I guess when you are doing family research it is easy to take things for granted. This is one of the things that really hit home with me when I was filling out my lineage papers. One thing they always tell you is to not enter any information on your application that isn't actually on the document you are working from. This is the gospel, there are no exceptions.

You would be surprised how easy it is to throw in a place where your ancestor was born, married, or died. I know that my dad was born in Mt. Carmel, Ohio but his birth certificate doesn't say that. I have been there; I have seen the house where he was born. Nope! The BC says Union Township and no matter how much I want to enter Mt. Carmel, it won't work. 

So basically I did very well with everything except the marriage of my parents.

What happened was I had a document in my possession that said Certificate of Marriage and it was signed by the minister and witnesses. Looked good to me!! Apparently "Certificate of" does not mean "certified copy". I understand that now and I really feel stupid since all my other documentation came from a court house and my parent's marriage certificate came from a box in my closet.

No problem. A phone call and a quick trip to the Courthouse in Bowling Green, Ohio plus $2.00 took care of the problem. So there I was in the Wood County Courthouse holding a certified copy of my parents' marriage record. Standing in the same spot where my parents applied for a marriage license 80+ years ago. What a great feeling that was.I guess I have to thank the person who would not approve my application until I experienced that moment.

Oh, and by the way, that certified document I picked up in BG says my dad was born in Mt. Carmel, Ohio. So there!!


Tech = $ + All the things you didn't know you needed.

There are two things in this life that I dearly love: Old time hockey and old time genealogy! This usually comes as a complete surprise to most people since there are so many tech toys available to genealogists now days.  I suppose the soft spot in my heart for old time genealogy stems from an appreciation for my relatives who spent many hours pecking away at manual typewriters corresponding with county clerks and archivists. I have always thought that Genealogy 101 (no technology) should be a prerequisite for all brand new family detectives, if for no other reason than learning that genealogy existed before the Internet! Nothing compares to walking the ground your ancestors walked and touching the record books where their life events were recorded.

So I am going to assume that all of you have completed Gen101 and are now ready to cross that bridge to the 21st century. The theme of this year's OGS conference-- Expanding Your Ancestry Through Technology -- says it all. 

This year there are several lectures that offer advice on self-publishing, cell phone aps, using social media for genealogy purposes, and organizing all of this stuff. There is also a session on how your iPad fits into all of this.
On Thursday, Lisa Louise Cooke has 2 Google sessions - one on surnames search, the other on Google Earth. The latter is fascinating. I caught this lecture a couple of years ago and I was very impressed with what happens when you combine Google Earth and genealogy. You will need a basic understanding of Google for this lecture to make any sense!

Sponsored lectures. These are sessions that showcase the features of specific products that you will normally find in the Exhibit Hall. Most of the time you will be able to purchase these at a conference discount. This is a great opportunity to see if the product will actually work for you -- cause that doesn't always happen, as we all know!! This is what is featured this year:

 Flip-Pal is a mobile scanner. They have two sessions on Friday both devoted to preserving and sharing your family memories and keepsakes.

Roots Magic is a popular genealogy software program that has been around for a long time. One session on Friday will cover some features of this program.

GenDetective (Rumble Soft Inc.) is a product that works with your genealogy software to find the gaps in your family research and create research plans to save you time. This I am definitely going to look into.

The Ohio Historical Society lecture features their newspaper collection available online. 

 The International Society of Family History Writers and Editors is sort of self-explanatory with information about how and where to share your research.

FamilySearch,org. Information about a new project to collect and publish information about German immigrants in the 19th century. This of course ties into the other numerous German sessions that are featured in this conference. If you are looking for the German experience both at the conference and in the area, this is the place to be in April.


Fold3 Online military records. Partnered with the National Archives and Allen County Public Library.

For those of you who have UK roots there will be two sessions. is a well-known source for records from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Australia. The National Archives (UK) has records dating back centuries. Just for fun I searched for Waterfield and found a knight! Of course, I don't know if we are related, but I would like to think so. Perhaps he was a Knight of the Round Table. And perhaps, not!

Heritage Quest is a website that is available through most public libraries. There are no individual memberships. This session on Friday afternoon will take you  through the many collections and the best research methods to make this program work for you.
The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is a "must" for anyone with New England ancestors. Here is your chance to get a good look at the information available on this great website. Check in the Exhibit Hall to see if they will have any conference membership specials.
I hope I didn't miss anything. I will keep you updated as we get closer to the conference. If you have any questions about Cincinnati and what to do or where to stay, please feel free to ask me. I will try to answer any questions you may have.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Day Three at the OGS Conference

Saturday's highlights at the OGS Conference center around the OGS Luncheon and the First Families Banquet. The luncheon, which begins at 11:30am, is a good way to catch up on all the latest news from OGS. Individual members, as well as local chapters, will receive their yearly awards and recognition for outstanding service. Also, this year the winner of the Endowment Fund Raffle will be announced. Chicken salad and cheesecake are on the menu for this event.

The First Families Banquet is the ultimate event for those who have proved their ancestors before 1820 in Ohio. George C. Morgan will speak about visualizing your ancestor's lives through postcards and photos. It is important to "see" your ancestors in their surroundings in order to understand their lives. Roast sirloin, vegetables and chocolate cake will be served. Even if you are not being inducted into a lineage society, try to attend at least one of the induction ceremonies. Besides the benefit of meeting other family researchers, you will know what to expect when your hard work is accepted and it is your turn to receive the recognition you deserve.

As on Friday, the day begins at 8:00am with only 2 morning sessions. Lunch break begins at 10:30am and lasts til 1:30pm. If you are not attending the OGS Luncheon, this would be a good time to visit one of the many restaurants at The Banks. (I am sure there will be an information booth at the conference with many brochures on downtown Cinci.) Also, please note that this year the Exhibit Hall will close noon on Saturday, so make sure you don't miss those last minute purchases. 

Got Irish roots? If so, this is your day. Five sessions running from 8:00am to 5:30 pm covering everything Irish with one lecture devoted to Find My Past - a great source for Irish research. Also, a variety of international sessions on Scotland, Dutch, Frisian, Eastern Europe, German surnames, and Palantines will be offered. I admit I had to look up Frisian. It is a group of islands in the southeastern North Sea

Two "must see" sessions on Saturday. Forensic Genealogy. If you are a fan of CSI, you may want to find out how you can go from a basic genealogist to a forensic genealogist. Learn how to find the who, what, where, and when in your ancestors' lives.
House Genealogy.  I had the opportunity to explore a little "house genealogy" when I became interested in an unusual house in Swanton, Ohio. Turned out it had a very intriguing and mysterious past with a few ghosts. You might want to research your own home or perhaps an old Victorian mansion in your community. If so, you will not want to miss this session.

Note: Since there are many tech sessions at the conference, I will discuss them in another post.   

If you are planning on arriving at the conference on Thursday morning, remember to give yourself plenty of time. Plan ahead -- unless you thrive on stress. The opening session begins at 11:00am. There will be rush hour traffic jams on the expressways. You can expect to wait in line both outside and inside the hotel as people unload their cars and check in. Elevators will be tied up. You may have to wait in line to pick up your registration packet and then you will need to become familiar with the layout of the conference area. All this and still be in your seat at 11:am for the opening session. Whew!

For those of you who plan to arrive on Wednesday, the registration booth at the conference will be open from 5-7:00pm. 

The OGS Conference booklet can be found at

A Wow Moment! The 2014 OGS Conference will be held at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Sandusky, Ohio. This will be a 5 day event from April 30 - May 4. Sounds like a great opportunity to expose the rest of the family to genealogy. Remember, it is never too early to start dropping hints for birthday and holiday presents. For those of you who don't know, Kalahari is a waterpark in northern Ohio about halfway between Toledo and Cleveland. Now is the time to start working this event into your budget!