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).







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

Ancestry… ownership, and accountability

So after being a member of Ancestry for, oh 12+years? When did Ancestry start? Because I was there back when it started and it was FREE. But now finally after being a Paid member for so many years, I finally decided to upload my “tree” to Ancestry.

I’m still torn.

I figure, throw it out there for those to find it.

I still love Rootsweb. I’d thought that Ancestry tied in to Rootsweb. It used to, at least. You’d look someone up on Ancestry, you’d get their Rootsweb submission.
Today, still, you have a Rootsweb tree and you get the Ancestry hints (provided that you’re an Ancestry member, of course). So it seemed like the two were still tied together.

But recently people have told me that they could find ME on Ancestry. Which after 17yrs of having an online database just seemed preposterous, yet… True. My database was not accessible on Ancestry.

So I did it. I uploaded my tree.

All my 28K people including thousands of bad data, because you can’t have one without the other.
I’ve tried.
I’ve purged as much as I can about real people I know about, but so so many years of bad research with no sources and nothing to back it up… is still part of my tree.

It pains me that I’ve found yet another venue to perpetuate my years of bad research.
And so, I apologize to you out there for that.

I’m not a fan of the “online tree”, as far as the online version housing my notes and sources. MY research is stored in my database, on my computer or server or wherever I have it. I do not want it to be on Ancestry. I’m not a fan of “including this source” into whatever record I find online. I do not want Ancestry to be my house. And I’m quite sure that somewhere in the rules and regulations that I clicked “accept” to without reading, I’ve now allowed Ancestry to OWN my data. Which I REALLY DO NOT LIKE.

That being said, I uploaded my gedcom without sources attached. I included notes, not that anyone will really look at the notes pages. Right now, it probably looks like an unsourced tree, which is grossly untrue and unfair. But my fear of Ancestry owning my sources, I’m just not happy with doing that… yet.

So the few “hints” that I’ve found along the way – there is something nice and appealing about that little green leaf that appears – I have “added” to my tree. Of course I’ve manually added to my own database as I move along. Because, well, I’ve learned better over the years.

I’m also recently not a fan that you can add someone else’s submission to your own tree, whether photos or documents. Which it may source it through the Ancestry online tree, I find this oddly EASY to suddenly claim this document as MINE.

It’s not MINE! I’ve found So many documents and photos attached to Ancestry online trees that so easily get incorporated into my own tree… and they’re not mine! This is a LIE to just, with a simple click, attach them to my tree. Someone found that oral history, compiled it, wrote it down. For me to just attach it to my own tree…. it’s just wrong.

I’ll say it. It’s WRONG. It’s TOO EASY. And it’s simply not fair to those that have done the work.

So in researching my own immediate family, no surprise to find that not only is my data attributed to others’ trees, but so are my photos, which I supplied here on this blog.

And I’m questioning that a bit.

I mean, I post a picture of James Barney Webb. I have no more connection to him than any other cousin. Just because I own this picture doesn’t make me any closer to him than a cousin out there that has equally never met him. Which is why I share! I claim ownership because I physically own that picture in my boxes and safes of historical documents about my family, but I have no ownership to this man.

And I’m happy to share.

Let me reiterate this for myself and everyone out there.. I am happy to share! It is, afterall, what we’re all doing here. I posted pictures on this blog and on my personal website in the effort to share. I am SO thankful to people who’ve shared their pictures with me. And I am SO SORRY for those that I do not give credit – goodness knows I did not document anything for so many years. I am exactly the person I’m trying to stop right now.

But there’s something about Ancestry… maybe it’s just my own witness of “it’s” changes over the years, that while I want to share, it does bug me when I see MY photo show up on 30 other people’s online tree. I don’t know what that is, and I’m working on it.

But as far as my online tree at Ancestry goes, I’ve now watermarked my images. If you want to research or do a simple google search, you’ll find all the same images here on my blog, you can choose whether or not to source them. But just because you can simply “add to tree” to someone in your online tree… I think a watermark is warranted.

Let me know how you feel about this.

Census gone wild

I have been remiss in blogging. I’m going nuts with updating my database. Finding children, sourcing. I have to finally admit that I’m enjoying the ease of the collaboration between Rootsweb and Ancestry. It annoys me. I don’t want to PAY for genealogical information. But it’s SO easy….. that Rootsweb is the home for my database, it’s just There. I don’t know what else to say.

I’m finding sources the like I’ve never had before, aside from my years of Living in NC and actually going to the Lenoir Co. courthouse. Ancestry IS a bonafide resource (bummer!!!).

I still consider it a racket, to have to PAY. I am increasingly frustrated that the GenWeb is losing momentum. Why is that? Why are there not more volunteers keeping the county websites going? Back in the day, 10yrs ago, you could find a lookup for country records. Today, you’re lucky to find someone even maintaining the website, much less look-ups or reliable links.

So, that’s why I’m hiding from blogging. Update, clean, solidify. That’s where I am these days.

I’m hoping to teach another class soon and really get back into this. I also want to join the local Gen society and start researching (albeit for their GenWeb) and transcribing for them. Because I still believe in the GenWeb. Ancestry is awesome… but the more we can promote the FREE, the volunteer… the more we are working together as a collaborative group.