They Are People…Just like you and me

I’m bored.

I’ll be honest, I’ve become stagnant at research recently. I’m SO plateau’d out on my lines. I’m just dead in the water. I get on Ancestry every few months to see if there’s anything new. I run the gamut of Family Search and other sites poignant to my names. But really… I’m STUCK.

The Loops need Germany.
No one seems to know the heritage of my YOUNG family lines.
I could research all the siblings and family lines of my kiddo’s ancestry…. but why do that; someone else already has. Why should I take the time to fill up my database with siblings of kids and more kids and more siblings when they’re not of a direct line.

I’m bored.

Do you ever get there?


Above are my gGrandparents.

One of the best photos I have in my collection.
Or at least I think so, because it’s awesome and weird.
I have it framed in my house and the more I look at this photo, the more it confuses me. There are people IN the car.

If this was a planned photo, why isn’t everyone out of the car?
So is it not planned? Do they have a flat tire? What in the world are they doing there just hanging out at their car?

And I think this is exactly where I am.


I want stories.

I’ve been filling up my Database with names and information for 23yrs and now I have a huge database and multiple lines reaching back to royalty and Yay.

But what I don’t have are stories.

I don’t have photos of most of my gGrandparents.

I don’t have understanding of who they were.

I have documents and lines and census records, but no feeling of these people.

AND… I’m frustrated.

I’m frustrated that I sent this photo to a handful of people years ago. And then I posted it on my website (sans watermark). And now it is all over Ancestry.

And that’s OK.

I mean… I need to define what exactly makes me mad. I’m not mad that everyone has the photo.

I’m frustrated that Ancestry makes it SO EASY to just copy and take to your own record, the photo that belongs to someone else.

OF COURSE I want to share.

OF COURSE I would give a cousin anything, without even thinking. Without question. Without judgement or concern. We’re all here to learn and research and grow as researchers.

But it’s frustrating to see my photos, which I own the originals, that I shared…. now just pop up all over this internet with no concern for where they came from.

Because the people in these photos… they are real people. They are not just people in your database. They are my people. These are my gGrandparents! My father remembers them, has stories of them, received love from them.

They are Real People. They were real. They have stories. I might not know them. But if anyone should have them in their database with photos of their heads and eyes and talk about their fashion and come up with ideas of where they were on that day…. it should be ME, (or the 6 other cousins that call them gGrandparents) because they are my history.

Their stories Made my grandparents, who made my father, who made me.

We’re NOT just talking people in a database. We’re talking humans with lives.

I’ve been at this for 23yrs and I’m just now starting to understand this.

Of course it’s a little different for people from the 1700s. There are no photos and the cousins shared are a huge group.

But when we’re talking people who were alive to be photographed…

I’m bored with just the database.

I want to know more.

I want to find the stories.

I’m off now researching the area that they lived at the time. I’m writing as much of their story that I can find, even if it’s not about them… it’s where they lived. To get to know the culture and the time and their experience.

Because I’m bored 🙂 I’m stagnant at my lines right now. 

Tonight I post this photo again with a new watermark. And we’ll see when I find it again on Ancestry. I didn’t post any names, so probably never.


I don’t want to just research names. I want stories. I want as much background as I can find. I want more… plain and simple.

I guess that’s my new ambition… to be a better researcher than I’ve been in the past.
And I challenge you all to be the same.
Look Beyond the database.


Give some kudos to the lives that they had.

They deserve that respect, right?

(Oh I’m so preaching right now! So not me. Maybe I’m just in a moment…. let’s all try to take it with us).







But They REAL people. Bittersweet to the NEW Ancestry

First of all, How much do we love the NEW Expect a post on that soon enough. Because if you read any of my posts, you know that I’m not a huge fan of buying in to the simplicity of online research these days… and that’s because I’m OLD SKOOL, 100%. I still use PAF, I still source by my own means, and not by Ancestry doing it for me; I still watermark my photos and give credit to all photos I receive from others. I am old skool. The NEW Ancestry is just making it easier and easier.

Tonight I finally enabled it.

Which meant that all my LIVING people were suddenly visible on my tree. I can note a few things about that:

  • I shouldn’t have uploaded them in the first place
  • I did make sure that they have ALWAYS been hidden
  • And I re-read all the new terms that they are STILL hidden

Let me say that again, Living people are now visible on your tree, IF you’d uploaded them, but only to you.

But this was new for me.

And, of course, Ancestry has beefed up it’s Directories and certain Vital stats, so now people born in the 1980s have “Hints” and bonafide docs to attach.


Which means I found the death certificate for my cousin who died at 17 in 2003. And the certificate (and So many other records) for his father who died in 1995.

Real. Life. People in MY LIFE. Not 100yrs ago. Like, yesterday to me. And I have records for them now. Just like these people of my past, whom I don’t know except for their vital stats, except, that I knew these. I loved these. They were…. my family.

What a weird twist on the brain.

I am a Lover of Genealogy and History because it brings history to life. It forces you to think that these are NOT just names on a page, even if that’s all we have: basic vital stats and hopefully a few land records to prove that they owned or did something. But that’s all life proof offers after you’ve died: vital stats on a page.

Except, when you see stats for people who were more, who were 17 and were WAY too young to die. It’s hard to find my cousin’s death certificate. He’s just a child who died.
But for me, he’s an idiot kid who was having a ball with his buddies, riding a skateboard without a helmet and fell and died nearly instantly. He is more  than his vital stat.

It’s cyclical.

And it’s bittersweet.

I found his father’s Veteran’s record from Vietnam. We didn’t know that about my cousin’s father. We knew that my Aunt loved him; married him, had two children and a horrible marriage which was ultimately ended. And he, too, died way too young, leaving two adolescent children (one of those children who died 4yrs later from Stupid Skateboard).

But tonight I discovered he was a Vietnam Vet. And shared with my family  who did not know that. It doesn’t change Aunt-Marriage-Yuck-Death.

BUT, it’s an element of the story we didn’t have.

So, I thank Ancestry for beefing up their records. I don’t need my LIVING people on my screen – and I hope, I sincerely hope you are protecting them from others, when I was an idiot for uploading them (and I am a relatively smart person… so I’m more asking for people who DON”T KNOW and might blindly just upload). I don’t need my Right Now cousin’s marriage certificates in 2005. But hey, it’s there. Ok, why not. I don’t need my parents’ divorce certificate, but again, it’s there… I’ll take it.

Suddenly having my LIVING people on the screen and “hints” about them… it’s been bittersweet. There have been a few good stories. Mostly, just sad though. Finding death certificates for people that aren’t just Vital Stats to me… they were my Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents and Cousins. They are Still real humans to me.

And I know that all of my ancestry should feel that way. But whatever, I know I’m not alone in this thought. It’s just weird. 

Thank You

It’s July, 2015, and my site came up for renew.

Hopefully we all know that in the research world, we take time off… we plateau in research, and I’ve been painfully remiss in posting about my own searches recently. Doesn’t mean I’ve disappeared… just means, July and SUMMER happen.

But my site disabled for a whopping 3 days, and I received over 100+ emails from people reminding me. And those were just the people who took the time to say.. Hello.. We need you, again, check back in. 

And you have no idea how much that means to me. THANK YOU for telling me. THANK YOU for reminding me that people find this blog of my ancestry. I read the analytics, I know that 98% are finding that one post about Captain John Johnson, but there are others… all those other others that find their way here. And I appreciate you all so much.

Getting your emails to renew my site just reminds me that this is important. That I have important stuff to share. So, again, THANK YOU.
And please, tell me again next year. Because I do have lapses; I have a life outside of research, and it’s an adorable almost 6-yr old boy, and Kindergarten starting and I really need to redo my bathroom.
But I promise you… I AM here. I am not going anywhere.

I might be lapsed, but I’m still in this for the long haul. It’s been, oh wow, 22yrs now, of research, thank you for forcing me on the reminder.

But.. we’re back now. And I hope to get back to posting new (and maybe Not so New but UPDATES, because I have a few).

Thank you for sticking around and pushing me.

Happy huntings,

Ancestry DNA Review (Part 1)

Have you tried out Ancestry DNA?

If you follow my babbles at all, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of syncing my database to Ancestry. I LOVE, but I’m not all for a direct link between MY work, MY time, MY images… and this world of I’m just old skool in that way, I suppose. It seems a fight I’m about to lose, and certainly did when I decided to submit my DNA.

The idea of DNA research is Not a new one. But like this technology of laptops and tablets, so much has changed in such a short span of time. I had my father submit his DNA 8yrs ago to a company which I’ll not mention here, just in the beginnings of these databases, back when female DNA couldn’t be tested. And the results were absolutely “scientific”, meaning ME, just a woman in the world, had no idea how to read the results. It was literally a DNA result likened to what you’d see off a CSI TV show with markers and spikes and who knows what of what. Absolutely pointless to the real-world individual, and extremely pricey.

Fast forward 8yrs and Ancestry has their own DNA submission, hopefully tied to your online tree (hello synching your world to Ancestry) and despite the privacy policies, which are not as long as they should be… I was actually able to READ their entire privacy policy… I’m more than terrified and skeptical.

Yet, I did it.

Because I bought in to it. Upload your database, get “hints” to your online tree and the bazillion available records… and now, link your DNA with other users. It’s the stuff commercials are made for, and if it pans out, will be absolutely remarkable.

So I bought the kit, gathered up my saliva (with my 4yr old watching who thought it was Hysterical) and sent it off for testing. The email returned with a sad, “will take 4-6 weeks for processing”, and then another email not 2weeks later that my results were available.

Two thoughts here: either Ancestry scientists are doing a shoddy job, OR, This Rocks Beyond Belief. 2 weeks… really? Fantastic.

Except… there wasn’t a manual of What To Do Now. I had to google exactly that.. “ancestry dna what do I do now”

Watch this webinar on What do to now and what it all means. And I have to give kudos to their trainer who really did a great job at this lengthy webinar.



Results are two-fold, Ancestry Ethnicity and Matches.

The webinar and clearly the majority of the focus is on the Ethnicity, and the pretty charts they can build for you. Personally I could care less about this. Yay for 75% Middle-European broken-down by category. No surprises there, if you’ve done any research in to your family, you should have an inking of where you come from.

If this is news to you, then you’ll be part of that marketing category they were hoping for where the synopsis of your Ethnicity is immediately in your face in different colors.

#2: Matches.

You get Matched with other Ancestry submissions (not what I was expecting, but after watching the webinar, makes sense on what information Ancestry CAN provide to you). It does NOT give you a list of names you are connected to. It only gives you Other Individuals, so don’t be surprised.

And now the research begins.


I’m honest here… these are my results (all blurried-out for you). Notice in top left that I have 270 PAGES of results…. which will take forever to get through, but YAY!

The filters at the top; you can find those with “hints” (meaning you have a *Hinted* ancestral connection between the two trees that you’ve uploaded), New, and Starred (those that you want to find easy… you get to Star your own results)

And I had a few 3rd cousins immediately. All of which were no surprise, but good to know.


But once I got to page 3, I found the “distant cousins”… for the remaining 266 pages, ranging in Confidence: Moderate, to Confidence: Low


What does this mean?

Before I’d watched the webinar, which I still highly recommend, it took me a long time to realize what I was looking at… especially those that have no ancestry hint.

Let’s take a 4th cousin, for example.

4th cousin means we share a ggGrandparent. Those that had an online tree to trace, it was lovely to see that in your face, the comparison of two trees.


In a few hours time, researching matches that DID have an ancestral tie in their lie… I found *Hinted* DNA proof that my grandparents were correct, and so on (two of us who have matching DNA have the same names in our database).

Or at least that’s how I take it.Me and that random cousin both say we’re connected to George Dekle, DNA says we are “cousins” and they linked our tree… that tells me that everyone in that tree is actually correct (for ancestry at least, not necessarily details of dates and such) and that’s HUGE!

No surprises. No unexpected parentages, or better put, no Lack of parentages. Yes, I’m connected to George Dekle, so the women in my line Did propagate with their husband on record and not the mailman. Good to know!

And as I looked through all these matches, I found 80% of my direct families seem correct.. so far. I’ve got two main families that have no other DNA submitter to attest to the correctness, but 80% is A Lot.


But for those who do not have an online tree which matches for a 4th cousin…What does that mean?
I have 27 4th cousins with no Tree matches.

And so the research starts. We share a ggGrandparent, yet we have no names that match.
So, send your Message and start connecting. Find out what you’re missing.

Once you get to “distant cousins”, obviously the search will be more and more difficult, but same idea… find the holes in your research and WHY you’re cousins that you’re unaware of.

I’m not going to omit those with Confidence:Low, but those will certainly not be priority. I was amazed at how many with Confidence: Low that had trees connected… were correct. So, there’s something correct in Ancestry’s matrix. Not going to throw them out yet, but not going to work on 266 pages for now. I’ll start with the first 4.

That’s 27 users that are connected to my ggGrandparent. And I have MANY women out there with no names. Jeshua Bowen (not a real person) married “Amy”. Well, who in the heck is Amy? Likely one of those 27 4th cousins I’m connected to. We just need to figure out how THEIR tree relates to this name that I’m missing in my database.

ggGrandparents is nearly 200+ years ago and there are MANY ggGrandparents that I do not have perfected yet.. mostly women.

It’s going to take time.

And IF I”m lucky that the “cousin” wants to research with me, we’ll find the answers.


A few things to note about the DNA results and what I’ve learned from the webinar:

#1 Results are on your DNA Direct Matches.
This took me a lot of rounding out in my thoughts. I don’t want to be connected to someone’s Aunt. NO! These results are DIRECT lines. If the two are you connected, it’s because you’re Connected through a grandparent… somewhere, might be 1000yrs back.

Even if it’s 5 generations through women, it’s still direct. Don’t get lost in the females – they are as Direct as the men, even if the surnames aren’t yours!

#2 – the “Surnames shared” listed on the page of comparisons… these are names shared between your online databases. And if you’re like me, you have tons of spouses.. and probably spousal lines. I have 5K in my database related to my son’s father’s line.

So just because we “Share Surnames” doesn’t necessarily mean that those surnames are MINE, because I have 25K people in my database. Don’t let that skew you. I had to fight with this for a while. I kept looking up the LEWIS name, and it always ended up back at my Ex’s family. Well, that’s because his family is in my database.

I’m connected to the Cousin through MY DNA, but the Surnames shared might be any names in our respective database.


Wrapping up…

I’m a fan.
Anything that is not a DNA print out with markers and Points is awesome to me. It wasn’t a list of names I’m connected to, but I’m sure Ancestry will get there eventually. For now, it gave me Strong Indicators (as close to proof as I think we’ll get) that so many of my lines are correct… and correct Way Back Generations, which makes me proud of my work and proud of the work of those ahead of me that were so generous to share.

No Surprises is a huge one! I AM, actually, all those Surnames I thought I was.

So do it! $100 bucks and synching to your site (and we can talk more about how that’s not kosher, but for another time). I’m not a fan of Walmart in the same way, yet I shop there. Big Brother has a way of dragging you in, even begrudgingly, because the results are undeniable.

And let me know how it goes. I keep this as “Part 1” because I’m sure I’ll have a part 2.

originally posted on GenealogyLoops, May 17 2014

Surname Listing: MCMILLEN (Ireland)

I’ve been researching my Step-father’s family lines through Elliott/Fryer. Today, McMILLEN, through his Fryer family.

6. Sidney James Fryer was born on 12 Oct 1862 in Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. He died on 12 Jan 1936 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Co., California. He was buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, Los Angeles Co., California. He married Martha Hester Eddy
7. Martha Hester Eddy was born on 21 Jul 1868 in Ohio. She died on 4 Nov 1941 in Los Angeles Co., California. She was buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, Los Angeles Co., California.

12. WILLIAM FRYER was born on 26 Mar 1836 in Upper St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. He died on 3 Apr 1866 in Upper St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. He was buried on 3 Apr 1866 in Bethany Presbyterian Cemetery, Bridgeville, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. He married Elizabeth McMillen.
13. ELIZABETH MCMILLEN was born on 24 Sep 1838. She died on 28 Nov 1873 in Upper St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. She was buried on 28 Nov 1873 in Bethany Prebyterian Cemetery, Bridgeville, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania.

Children of William and Elizabeth: William Jefferson Fryer (1859-1944), Sidney James Fryer (1862-1936), Jonathan Fryer (?), Dallas G. Fryer (1865-1870)

***Find a Grave says Elizabeth is daughter of Thomas and Margaret (parents of William Cecil below). 1850 census shows an Elizabeth (with matching b-date) in the home of William Cecil and Catherine. Dates are better her being the daughter of William Cecil, but maybe she was only living with her brother in 1850? 

26. WILLIAM CECIL MCMILLEN was born in 1811 in Perrysville, Alleghency Co., Pennsylvania. He died in 1887 in Bridgeville, Upper St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. He married Cathrine Porter
27. CATHERINE PORTER was born about 1817. She died before 1854.

Children of William and Catherine: Margaret McMillen (1832-?), Elizabeth McMillen (1838-1873), Sarah McMillen (abt 1836-?), Rachel Anne McMillen (1841-?), William C McMillen (1843-1903), James Alexander McMillen (1845-?), Nancy McMillen (1846-?), Thomas Porter McMillen (1849-?), Caroline McMillen (1851-?), Mary McMillen (?)

William married 2nd: Lavina Stephens, born abt 1841 in Wales, died unknown.

Children of William and Lavina: Cathrine McMillen (1855-?), Arabella McMillen (1859-?), David Henry McMillen (1860-aft 1918), George B. McMillen (1862-?), Sherman McMillen (1866-?), Albert Elton McMillen (1867-?), Charles Edward “Charlie” McMillen (1873-?)

52. THOMAS MCMILLEN was born about 1781 in IRELAND. He died in 1862 in Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. He married Virginia “Jinnie” Hutchinson.
53. VIRGINIA “Jinnie” HUTCHINSON was born about 1783 in Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania. She died in unknown.

Children of Thomas and Virginia: William Cecil McMillen (1811-1887)

Thomas married 2nd: Margaret

Children of Thomas and Margaret: Jacob McMillen (abt 1817-?), Archibald McMillen (1819-1840), Wilson McMillen (?-1858), Thomas McMillen (1832-1851), Samuel McMillen (?), Rachel McMillen.


Do you have any information on this McMillen family? Please leave a comment! Or Contact me privately.
I’m especially interested on more information about the Parentage of Elizabeth… was it William Cecil? Or Thomas? Anyone know?

~happy huntings