Monthly Archives: January 2016

Can’t Make It To A Genealogy Conference? Attend RootsTech At Home

Thousands of genealogists will descend on Salt Lake City Feb 3rd-6th for RootsTech 2016.  It’s an interesting blend of technology and genealogy that covers the beginner to the advanced genealogist.

But what if you can’t make it?  You’ll miss the fun of being around so many like minded people and the wide array of classes that will give you new insights and ideas for your research.  But don’t despair if you can’t make it.  The powers that be at RootsTech 2016 have decided to livestream some classes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday so that you can get a taste of what is going on.

And I am delighted to have been chosen to present my class Become a Master Searcher on Ancestry on Saturday as a livestream class.

So clear your schedule.  Circle some classes that sound interesting.  Remember the times are Mountain time , so plan accordingly. Get ready to learn and be inspired!


A Google Search Technique To Add To Your Bag of Tricks

You probably know google is powerful search engine and you probably know that the rootsweb message boards are chock full of useful information about your ancestors and the locations they lived.

Did you know that you can combine them easily?

In the google search bar type site:<url of the site> like this:

google rootsweb01


Then add in your search query.  Let’s say I am looking for Adam Snavely in Wythe, Virginia. I can try something like

google rootsweb02


Notice that I put double quotes around adam snavely.  That tells google that if adam and snavely don’t appear right next to each other don’t show me the result.  But you’ve probably seen more than a few posts that use surname, first name so you might want to try

google rootsweb03

You’ll notice that I have 30 results instead of 14.

You can try this with any site that is indexed by google, which is a pretty lengthy list.  Give it a try — you never know what you might find with a new search technique!

Yep. I’m Not Building Family Trees — I’m Building Family Graphs

A couple of days ago I published Family Tree or Family Graph and was delighted at the comments I received. Some of you knew exactly what I was talking about!  And Chris from NM and I had discovered our shared Snavely line!

So I started digging back into the Snavely line.  I’m presenting at the Family History Institute of Southwest Virginia on April 2nd and Chris got me to thinking about old unsolved problems.  And it’s always good to talk about local families at presentations.

I was trying to find the death date of Maxine Edna Wilmore Warden and came up empty.  But I did find her husband’s and his parents.  (Love those Virginia Vital records!) The name WALTERS looked very familiar.

more on family graphs01

So I dug through census, vitals, trees and some of my books. I built the Walters line back to William Walters and Mary M Powers and those names looked very familiar.

more on family graphs02

More clicking and I find William Walters and Mary M Powers, my 5th great grand parents; they are also the grandparents of Adam Boyd Snavely’s second wife and my 3rd great grandmother, Mollie E Repass.

more on family graphs03

So what does this mean?  James Warden and his wife Maxine Edna Wilmore are both great great great grand children of William Walters and Mary M Powers.  (Below, Catherine and Michael Walters are the children of William and Mary M.)

more on family graphs04

Now there were no amazing ah ha moments.  No brick walls came tumbling down.  And I still don’t know when Effie Snavely Wilmore died.  But southern research is not about researching lines.  It’s about researching communities and how they connect.  It is part of our ancestors’ stories.

I think this has to change how I look at researching people.  I’m just not sure what methods I need to change or add to my process.  But I’m pretty sure I need to adjust my thought process.  I’m not looking for people.  I’m looking for people AND where they fit into their communities.  I suspect that this will break brick walls and add more to their stories.

Stay tuned.

Family Tree or Family Graph

Two weeks ago I presented 5 classes in the Swing through the South class of SLIG 2016. And I never attend a year of SLIG without new thoughts to mull and ponder!

Prepping 5 classes was challenging and enlightening.  And I kept noticing things that I either hadn’t noticed before or that I hadn’t actually formed into coherent thoughts.  Take the concept of family trees.  We all build them.  They show generation after generation of our ancestors and the parents of each ancestor.

And that is one of the primary goals of genealogy.  Kinship.  But kinship is not just parents.  Especially in southern families.  Here is the most basic family tree for Mary Jane Emma Snavely who lived a very short 11 years on this earth:

family graph01

And we can take both of her parents back a few generations:

family graph02

And because I suspect you are fairly observant, you noticed that Mary Jane Aker’s grandfather is her husband’s great grandfather.  Ah, those family ties. The tree actually can be better represented as:

family graph03


But the connectivity doesn’t end there.  Mary Jane’s father was Philip Aker, and Barbara was his second wife.  Guess who his first wife was?

family graph04



Philip Aker first married Christina Snavely and when died he married her sister Barbara.  And I’m leaving out all the other Aker children.  And more than a few of the Snavely family.  But another of John and Elizabeth Musser Snavely’s children was George Snavely.  And he and his brother Adam shared another connection.

family graph05

Adam and George who were the only two sons of John and Elizabeth Snavely, married sisters, daughters of Nicholas Wassum and Elizabeth DeLong.

To understand the short eleven year life of Mary Jane Emma Snavely don’t we need to examine all these people?  They  appear to be pretty interconnected when  we “graph” them out.  And no doubt the graph gets bigger and more complicated with everyone we continue to add.

Go search your trees.  See if you can find the interconnected families.  How do we represent these graphs that show these relationships in a way that will give us better understanding of who our ancestors were?

Starting with the classic family tree is a must.  You can’t understand the generations if you don’t have it.  But there are a lot of connections we don’t represent, or at least we don’t represent well.  How do we visually  do this so it adds to our understanding and help drive us to those delightful “ah-ha” moments?


Did You Know? Where to Find Basic County Information

Many documents our ancestors left behind were in the counties they lived in.  Birth, Marriage and Death records.  Deeds, Wills and other Probate records.

But when were they first recorded? When was the county created?  What were the parent counties?

The Ancestry Wiki has the answer for all U.S. counties. In the Wiki search box type state name County Resources :

search box

Once you get to the page, scroll down the page and you’ll find a table on the County Resources page that summarizes basic information that will help guide your research in that county.

county table


Great information so you don’t waste time looking for documents that don’t exist.

Where You Can Find Me Speaking This Year

bE2_W402_400x400I didn’t get to travel and speak much last year but this year is picking up!   I’m really glad my schedule is allowing it this year. 🙂

Here is what I know for sure:

There are also a couple of more that need to be confirmed.

And I have 8 Ancestry Academy classes that are live:


What’s I’m Looking Forward to in 2016: Extended Clusters

I neglected my blog in 2015. And I neglected my personal research. Work and life get in the way sometimes. I am ready to refocus on my people and new techniques to learn more about them.

And this year it all about the cluster. As genealogist we focus on links between generations. Moving up and down the tree. And good genealogists use cluster research or the FAN principle, which are more or less the same thing.

I think we miss a lot about who our people were when we just look for the links between generations.  To really understand who they were, we need to understand the time they lived in, where they lived and the extended family they lived within. I’m thinking of these as extended clusters much like the dandelion.

Maybe it’s because I do southern research, but my family tends to be more of a graph than linear tree. 🙂

I’ve been working on five lectures for Swing Across the South that I’ll be delivering at SLIG 2016 and I keep coming back to the extended family and how it leads to understanding.  Not just establishing links to another generation, but knowing who they were.  I find the the more I know about them, the more I know about myself.

So if I can keep life from getting in the way — this year I’ll be working on new techniques for these extended clusters and what we can learn from them.

Stay tuned!

And Happy New Year!