Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Minimalism vis-à-vis New Ancestry and Old Ancestry is my primary genealogy research tool -- by a long shot. I'm really into data and has the data. Other sites have data but has more. And it's easier to find than on many other sites. Even though I'm still not a fan of New Search (don't get me started), it still works better than most other genealogy data search functions (just not as good as Old Search.) 

 Today I want to address New Ancestry (released 1 Jun 2015) versus Old Ancestry (image: Old Ancestry left, New Ancestry right).  I'm a minimalist. I want fewer clicks to navigate and perform functions. Fewer drop downs are usually better as they add more clicking. 

The only thing I don't want kept to a minimum is the amount of data on a webpage. This really fits into my minimalist approach because I want to keep the clicking and scrolling to a minimum.  

Here are my thoughts on New Ancestry's layout and functions.


1.  Relationship to root person is visible for my trees without clicking (New Ancestry to right).  I wish relationship to the root person was available for other trees.

2. Edit functions for an individual are on a drop down at the top of the profile page. The use of pop-ups provides a much faster transition than clicking to a new page.
  •  Quick Edit - Although I'd rather not have it on a drop down, it wasn't available at all on Old Ancestry for when viewing an individual's profile.  
  • Edit Relationships and Delete Person used to take 2 clicks to get to and one click to return to the person.  Now it's available on the Edit button.

3. Quick Edit is available from the tree view.

4. Alternate names are shown on the Fact page. In the past they were hidden on the Edit page and not available for viewing except from your own tree.


1. The profile picture is now round. This isn't always appropriate as most photographs are rectangular. To make it look OK, I have to reshape it to fit and let's be honest, the square peg in the round hole looks unfinished and unprofessional, like I don't love Grandma Bessie enough to bother.  

Although is planning to add a feature that allows you to crop a photo to fit the new round space,  I'd like the image to look nice without having to take that step. This is potentially a VERY BIG ISSUE for people who have taken the time to put images on thousands of people in their tree. Also, many of us use tombstones or documents as Profile pictures and a circle doesn't always accommodate the text. I know this because uses a circle and it is frequently challenging to make it work.  

2. Find a person in this tree is a drop down from an individual's profile.  In other words, if you're on an individual's profile page and want to change to another individual in the tree, the search field isn't visible. It's takes a click to show it. In Old Ancestry, you just typed a name in the box. (The field remains visible in the tree view.)
(Old Ancestry left, New Ancestry right)
3. Media thumbnails are not visible without clicking on gallery.  Unlike "hints", I don't even know how many user submitted items are there without clicking. With the Old Ancestry, I could see up to five thumbnails and know how many more were available. This is also a BIG ISSUE in that I must click away from an individual's primary page (i.e. the Fact page) just to see that there are no additional images for them. The gallery loading took quite some time when I used it today.

Old Ancestry (on Profile page)


 New Ancestry (on Gallery page only)

4.  Sources now have a thumbnail. Whilst has removed media thumbnails, they've added one for each source that contains an image. It takes up a significant amount of space. I've provided a comparison to the small leaf used on Old Ancestry. The only advantage is that it shows you there's an image and not just an index.  Perhaps the thumbnail could be reduced in size or a generic image icon could be used.  Old Ancestry top, New Ancestry bottom)

5. Less defined spaces. For all the new color on the page some color has been removed. Spouses names are no longer highlighted and family groups aren't outlined. This makes it more difficult to distinguish separate family groups. Call this quibbling, but I like the defined spaces.
(Old Ancestry left, New Ancestry right)

7. Quick Edit removed from family members. As much as I liked that the Edit functions now appear on an individual's page, has removed the edit functions from family members. In the two photos above (yes above), Old Ancestry has an icon to the right of each individual's name. Click the box and get a slew of Edit functions (below).

8.  Scrolling isn't a 9 letter word. Remember in my intro that I said I like a lot of data on a page?  Well, I don't mean it should be cluttered just to keep it above the fold. The old adage about keeping data above the fold is yesterday's news. Katie Fishburn writes on that there's a trend toward scrolling over clicking in web design. New Ancestry bucks the trend by moving the source data up into a 3rd column versus keeping it below the fold and available by scrolling.  Everything seems to be competing for my attention. 

I feel the new page is so packed with images and data that it's overwhelming to look at. I'm not sure how I'll feel after I've used it a bit but will let you know. 

 My bottom line?  I'd like to modify the New Ancestry and use some great features from Old Ancestry. The new design has some unintended consequences, like the massive amount of effort it will take our fellow genealogists to crop their square photos into the new round profile pages. I will, as always, submit my comments directly to  Gentle readers, I'd love to hear what you  think. 

Till next time, keep the blue side up ... Lynn

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

People Are So Kind: German Record Transcription

Someone just helped me again.  I'm trying to translate a German record but first I need to transcribe it. I've done several other documents, and while I'm certainly not an expert, I was really stuck with this one.

It's the Rev. E. A. Bauer's funeral record for my husband's great great grandmother, Elizabeth Winter, widow of John Roth of Franklin Township, Carbon County, Pennsylvania.  I was able to make out her name, the date of death, date of burial, and age. But when it came to the remarks, I was really stuck. 

The second line says:  8 h: 17 feh: 3 urckl

Well, at least that was what I managed to make out.  I googled and googled looking for abbreviations. No luck. I transposed the letters and googled again. No luck. Finally I posted it to the German Genealogy Records Transcription Group on Facebook and once again a kind stranger helped me out.


Here's a portion of the note I posted along with it:

Almost all other records are in this order: 1) place of birth 2) birth date 3) parents names. From this information I see she was born in 1789 and her maiden name was Winter (I have this from a second source). I can't read much else. I'm especially curious about the second line. Thanks for any assistance.

Within an hour, Renate posted the following: 8 children, 17 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
 Nothing I researched looked anything like that.  Now to reverse engineer the answer.  I immediately saw that the first term is probably 8 k for kinder or children..  

With a little more help from google translate, I determined the last term was 3 Ur ekl for ur-enkel or great grandchilden.

I posted an additional query about the middle term for grandchildren. Renate said it's ekl for enkelkinder. I see another letter there that looks like a s or an f but I absolutely trust Renate.

This family poses a serious brick wall. Now I'm off to pull up census records from 1810 to 1840 and start counting children.
Till next time, keep the blue side up ... Lynn

Friday, January 30, 2015's New Record View's done it again. They fixed something that wasn't broken.  They updated their record view page to make it look .... well different.  Although no one has asked for it, here's my review of the changes.

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF):  There was not enough improvement to warrant a change.  

A few details:

1. Content: The new record page is not a lot different in content. This is a good thing. 

2.  Font: I think was trying to create a cleaner look.  This cleaner look resulted in less contrast and no background shading. I find the text more difficult to read.  For example, on the old version, the name of the individual is bolded and the header information has a grey background making it easier to focus on the data that's unique to this record.

3.  Headers: On the old version, the header column (e.g. Name, Gender, Spouse's Name) was wide. For many labels, this meant they were on a single line. During beta testing, these fields were very narrow and the labels end up on more lines. Here you can see, for example, Spouse's Name is on two lines in the new version on the left and one line in the old version on the right.  (Click on image to enlarge.)
I'm sure I wasn't the only user who wrote to about this issue. It seems they agreed and changed it. Now the header column is wider. Thanks! That was one of my biggest issues with the new version.

4. Source Credit: The NARA logo is now at the top of the Census page. This is not a particularly helpful field to take up valuable "above the scroll" real estate.

5. Thumbnail image: It's larger. Not a big deal either way.

Bottom line: There was not enough improvement to warrant a change. Overall I find the new font and removal of the shading make it more difficult to find the information I'm looking for.  

Till next time, keep the blue side up ... Lynn

Friday, February 7, 2014

For years I've been researching my Lithuanian ancestors.  I didn't have much information other than that my paternal grandfather's parents came to the America from Lithuania.

My initial search began with my great grandfather Julius Dawson.  I quickly found he had an older brother Peter.  They spelled their names many ways until eventually they all used Dawson.  The most common Lithuanian spelling is Dausinas (for the men) and Dausinaite (for the unmarried women).

So, I've found 2 Dawson brothers:
- Peter Dausinas
- Julius Dausinas

MEMORY BOOK: Julius' eldest son, my Uncle Lawrence, wrote about his family in a Memory Book.  He said, "Aunt Sofia (father's sister) knew all about mushrooms. She had a mean son named Walter."  One of Lawrence's daughters said that Walter used to terrorize Lawrence and his brothers with snakes.

Now I have 3 Dawson siblings:
- Peter Dausinas
- Julius Dausinas
- Sophie Dausinaite

Uncle Lawrence also wrote, "Sofia's husband, Uncle Joe was a quiet man.  He was found dead in a fishing boat of a heart attack."

CHURCH RECORDS: Using Catholic Church Records from Providence of God Church, I searched for Sophie and found Julius had not one, but two sisters, Anna and Josephine (who I assume to be Aunt Sophie). They married two Raczkowski brothers (Frank and John respectively). 

Oh - I'm up to 4 Dawson siblings:
- Peter Dausinas
- Julius Dausinas
- Sophie Dausinaite
- Anna Dausinaite

I found a number of records for Anna Dawson and husband Frank Raczkowski but have never located Josephine and husband John Raczkowski in the Census records.  I did, however, find baptism records for 3 children:
- Joseph b. 1901
- John b. 1902
- Walter b. 1904

Keep in mind that Uncle Lawrence said Sophie's husband was Joe, not John.  For years I've searched Census and other records for Aunt Sophie, Uncle Joe or John, and their mean son Walter without success.

ADDRESS BOOK:  In 2011, Uncle Lawrence's daughters, Doris and Christine, provided me with names of possible cousins listed in their mother's address book. They felt that Walter's last name started with a J, perhaps Janchusky or Janczewski. They said they may have had children: Lottie and Mickey. Although this didn't match the Church records, I searched with this name as well as with children Lottie and Mickey.  No luck.  I searched using first names only. No luck.  Something just wasn't right.

JACKPOT: Earlier this week I came across a 1905 marriage record for Stanislawa Dansinaite and Josef Janconski in's Cook County Marriage Record.  I think I missed this record in the past because this is yet another spelling of Dausinaite.  Although I've done searches using Soundex and wild cards, requires a minimum of 3 letters. I've searched for Dau*, Daw*, Doo*, Dou*, etc.  I must not have searched on Dan*.  Or I did and got too many results.

Now I have 5 Dawson siblings:
- Peter Dausinas
- Julius Dausinas
- Sophie Dausinaite
- Anna Dausinaite
- Stanislawa Dausinaite

BACK TO THE CHURCH RECORDS: I took the information from the Cook County record and headed to to use the browsable Chicago Catholic Church Records.  Bingo.  Here's their marriage record, including parents names. Love these records!!
CENSUS: From there I headed to the Census records.  1910 - no luck.  However in 1920, I found a record for:

Joseph Janczewski
- Stella (Stanislawa, I assume)
- Madeline (Mickey?)
- Loretta (Lottie)
- Walter
- Stella

I think this is the correct family but it's not perfect. Then I found the same family in the 1930 Census and all doubt was removed when I saw Stella's brother, Peter Dawson living with them.

Joseph Janczewski
- Stella
- Madeline (Mickey)
- Charlotte (Lottie)
- Stella
- Peter Dawson - listed as Uncle

Peter Dawson is actually Stella's brother, not her uncle. I'm confident of this because her parents names are listed on her Providence of God Church marriage records. Peter is, however, uncle to the children.  This minor incongruity doesn't bother me as my brothers-in-law call me Aunt Lynn out of habit because they call me that for their children's sake.   

Enough for now.  This is a very exciting find for me and was only possible because my cousins, Doris and Christine, shared what they knew.  

Till next time, keep the blue side up ... Lynn

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Free Books & Old Web Sites

Like all genealogists, I love free books.
  • Google Books is tops but  PDFs are not necessarily searchable. If you download a book that isn't, try to find it on
  • also has tons of free downloadable books and their PDFs are fully searchable. It's a snap to find a book if you know the title or author.  Note the website is: - NOT .com.
  • has been popping up as a result when searching with Google for a specific book. The site tells me to insert my name and email and I'll receive a downloadable link.   Furthermore it says that "By submitting, I certify that I agree to the terms and conditions and privacy policy."  However there isn't a link for said terms, conditions, and policy.  Seems a bit fishy to me - how about you?
    I searched for reviews of this site to determine it's safety. It took awhile, but I found one review on Scam Adviser:  From João Sousa.
"The site tried to get my credit card number. Downloader tried to install lots of unwanted crap in a subreptitious [sic] manner. Promised book was not delivered."

If anyone has successfully downloaded from, I'd appreciate your feedback and will post another review. For now, I recommend skipping this site.  [Note: I am willing to pay for an e-copy of the Loudoun County Tithables book I was searching for but haven't found one.]

By the way, has more than just books.  It's home to the Wayback Machine.  This site is a lifesaver when you get a dreaded 404 Not Found error, especially for old Rootsweb, GeoCities and AOL Hometown hosted sites.  Just go to and put the old URL into the Wayback Machine. 

Want to try it?  Use the following link listed on's Loudoun County VA Taxation Wiki.

If you put the URL in your browser, you would expect it to take you to the Fairfax County DAR's web site which hosted a transcription of  the1749 List of Fairfax County, Virginia Tithables. This DAR site has moved to another domain and as far as I can tell, they no longer host this information.

Instead, put it into The Wayback Machine and it will take you to a snapshot of the old site: here. This snapshot from 2011 is the last one they captured. Earlier snapshots are available and although they may not be necessary in this case, it may be helpful in instances when you want an earlier version of the site.

Till next time, keep the blue side up ... Lynn

Friday, July 26, 2013

Civil War Soldiers - My Father's Family

As I said in my last blog, I have 8 second or third great grandfathers that were the right age and generation to have fought in the Civil War.  Five on my mother's side and three on my father's.

1. Thomas McHugh. GG-Grandfather - b. 1834. Lived near Greenville, SC.  During the Civil War he served in the Confederate Army as a carpenter. In in civilian life he was a wood worker: 1850 Census -  Cabinet Maker. (age 16), 1860 Census - Mechanic.  He was furloughed on sick leave from Jun 1862 to Feb 1863 and when he returned he was detailed as a carpenter.  During the war his occupation was listed variously as 1.) Carpenter duty (Repairing Wagons), 2.) mechanic, 3.) carpenter.  After the war, he returned to being a cabinet maker (1870). In 1880 he is listed as a farmer.

2. Mumford Stokes McKenzie Sloop. GGG-Grandfather. -b. 1832 (28 when the war started).  I haven't found any evidence that he served in the war. During a Sloop family reunion, one family historian said the Sloops never owned slaves.  Mumford's 1st cousin  Caleb Sloop fled to Illinois to avoid service. I don't have any evidence that Mumford did anything similar.  There are other Sloops who served in the Confederate Army.

3. William "W.D." Tevepaugh. GGG-Grandfather - b. 1833. The National Archives have a record for a W.D. Tevepaugh who was a Confederate soldier, Pvt. in 29th Reg. N.C. Infantry [company not recorded].  (Record downloaded from His date and place of enlistment are not recorded. He was paroled at Charlotte, N.C. on 24 May 1865. I am hoping to find additional information to collaborate this record.

 W. D. died in 1868. His tombstone reads:

W. D. Tevepaugh
Died January 18, 1868
from a wound in the hand
caused by the accidental discharge of a gun in his own hands
Aged 34 yrs. 8 mos. 11 days

Till next time, keep the blue side up ... Lynn

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Civil War Soldiers - My Mother's Family

Most people my age have about 8 second or third great grandfathers that were the right age and generation to have fought in the Civil War. In the south the number is higher because Confederate soldiers' ages had a wider range than Union soldiers. Most Confederate soldiers were between 18 and 39. Although according to some historians it wasn't uncommon to see men in their 50s, 60s, and a few in their 70s.

[Note:  In this blog, I refer to WV as a geography before it was a state because it's helpful to distinguish it from Virginia.]

Below is a brief description of my maternal 2nd/3rd great grandfathers and whether they participated in the war. If I say they "did not serve," it means I have searched for records but there isn't any indication they were in either army.

1. Thomas "T.R." Houghton. GG-Grandfather - b. 1846, WV: Preacher. ; Did not serve. He was a little young and would have only been 15 in 1861. His older brother Jesse served (Confederate) as did his future father-in-law James F. Cochran (Union).

2. James F. Cochran. GGG-Grandfather- b. 1819, WV. 3rd West Virginia Cavalry. Union Soldier. Enrolled: 10 Mar 1864; Died 19 Sep 1864 - probably from infection of a small pox vac. He entered as a private and was at some point promoted to Corporal during his 6 months of service. His daughter Sarah Jane married TR Houghton 11 years after her father died.  The guardian of his children applied for his pension and thus his file contains a significant amount of information about the family.

3. Shelton Rodney Boise Henderson. GG-Grandfather - b. 1843 VA. 36th Regiment Virginia Infantry, Confederate Army. On June 5, 1864 during the Battle of New Hope or Piedmont, VA - near Staunton, VA, he was wounded in the right foot and his leg had to be amputated just below the knee.  His records include an order for his prosthetic leg. Ten years after the war, he married my gg-grandmother, Elizabeth Alice Hanna and had 9 children. (see photo)

3. Adolph Meminger. GG-Grandfather - b. 1844 Baden Germany. Records indicate he arrived around1865 and missed the war. I have been unable to find any immigration records.

4. William Clark Babcock. b. 1843 Michigan. I have not found any indication that he served but according to my cousin Dan Meminger, other Babcock cousins did.

Till next time, keep the blue side up ... Lynn

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Name Game

All genealogists play the name game.  Multiple spellings of our surnames is fairly common.  My great grandfather came from Lithuania with a relatively easy last name. Dausin.  Well, perhaps not that easy.

I have seen so many spellings that I started a spreadsheet to keep track of the various spellings.  Lithuanians add a suffix to the root of their last name which identifies whether the individual is a man,  a married woman, or an unmarried daughter. (See a great explanation here by John Peters, a genealogist who helped many Lithuanian Americans over their brick walls.)

I added the date and source to my spreadsheet; when looking for a new record I usually start my search with the spellings closest to the date of the new source.

Naturalization paper
Sister Beth's papers
Marriage register (Church)

Marriage license & certificate
Daughter Bronislava Haimi (?) baptism record
Son Boleslav's birth certificate
Son Bolieslaum's baptism record
Joseph's birth certificate

Boleslav baptism record
WWI Draft Registration
Anthony's birth certificate
Edward's birth certificate
Death certificate

Paulina's death certificate

Turns out, that wasn't enough. Several databases, like Cook County's genealogy site,  let you put in the soundex code. Since most of the spellings had the same sound, I felt they would all have the same soundex code.  Generally speaking, the table below bears that out.  250 without the suffix and 252 with it.  Again, I used a spreadsheet but there are several good soundex converters that will do the work for you.










That just one of the many name games I've played to find information about my great grandfather.  He didn't leave a lot of information behind.  I'm still searching to find his entry to the US (around 1892) and any information regarding his origins in Lithuania. 

Till next time, keep the blue side up ... Lynn