Cluster Genealogy Part 3 – I have Maine on My Wall.

Back to CW and his family…

CW has a One Name Study already on the go on WikiTree. Which has come in so very handy. He has it structured in part by early W’s – everywhere he had already found them.

To further my own research of his brickwall I have to study ALL of the early W’s in Maine. I

ended up researching outside of Maine because another W researcher had a fella from South Carolina mixed in with the Maine W’s. Can’t have that!

So Maine it is and will be for this client.

Today, in Grandma’s Genes offices, I hung a big piece of paper and drew a map of Maine on it. Then I printed a map of Waldo County, Maine and hung it on the bigger map. Getting your area up on a wall when doing cluster genealogy can be incredibly helpful. You can also go new school and use Google Earth as well (using Google Earth for Genealogy will be another Blog post).

For now it’s just the idea of using maps in whatever form to help you.

Right now I have the area’s that I have documented for a specific theory – unproven – of how the W family moved around in Maine. Richard’s son Simeon has a biographical note about him in the (the son) “was born in Scarboro, Maine. His parents soon after moved to Cornish, Maine, then to Parsonfield, and in 1833 they removed to Troy, Maine” ( reference given upon request to protect the privacy of CW’s family).

My hand-drawn map now has Scarborough, Parsonfield and Troy highlighted in yellow. I can look back over my shoulder and see it and it helps me see what towns or villages might have been in between during this family’s travels to Waldo. This means I have clues about where I might find further information.

Maine State Map from Google Maps

No I didn’t take a picture of the one I drew – ok, I did but I deemed my artwork unworthy of your eyes.

CW and his brick wall grab me away from other things off and on during the months I have been working with my genealogical sledge hammer. It’s a nice distraction. An even bigger distraction is the hand-drawn map of Maine. If any of you reading this is a client, I will give you a grand tour of my map of Maine, next time you are in the office.

Genealogy On Folks!


WikiTree and Family Search

Life is such an annoying thing, the way it always gets in the way of enjoying genealogy – my/our primary purpose in life, right? I have so many real life things to do today but instead I am here posting a blog about a speaking engagement I have for tomorrow on one of my favorite subjects…you guessed it, GENEALOGY!

Shameless plug:

Voices from the Dust – Ottawa’s Rootstech

Saturday, 18 June, 2016 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

1017 Prince of Wales Drive, Ottawa Ontario

My subject? Why it’s “WikiTree and Family Search, Oh, The Connections You’ll Make!”.

There are all sorts of Wiki based projects “out there”. WikiPedia is probably the best known, WikiAnswers, and others of all kinds. (There’s even a Wiki to search all of the various Wiki’s!) The Family Search Site even has it’s own Wiki – FamilySearch Wiki. This wiki is chock full of great information on everything Genealogy. The Wiki I am talking about is my favorite Wiki, WikiTree.


Wikitree is a Global family Tree. It is one single tree built by volunteers from all over the world. It is a free Genealogy site which is my Genealogy program of choice. I have used a few programs in the past and they were pretty static. Static, meaning they didn’t move. They didn’t do anything from my computer…well one did, it uploaded all of my hard work to a “pay-for” Genealogy site. At the time I didn’t mind. At the time I knew I would never upgrade my “free” membership to a paid membership because I don’t believe in it. I, no one, should have to pay to see my/our ancestors. WikiTree is the converse of static. It changes and grows and expands like a real live tree. I have made more real live cousin connections in the two plus years I have been a part of Wikitree than in the 18 years I have done Genealogy.

That being said, WikiTree offers the opportunity to make connections. Making connections in Genealogy is important because connecting allows others who have the same interests as you, and you, to share information, sources, pictures and memories. It’s model of collaboration is an experiment in old school Genealogy,  gone wrong/wrong way  of thinking. Different in that you collaborate and share first – as you work. Done in discussions with other researchers, family historians and genealogists…then just sit back and watch your research move forward, facilitated by WikiTree.

In the case of Family Search? It’s amazing the stories I heard this year at Roots Tech from conference goers I talked to two years ago. In those conversations I explained that WikiTree and FamilySearch can work great together, in tandem:

In WikiTree you can post your research AND have others collaborate on the research. Then with one click connect that research to other, existing FamilySearch profiles.

Connecting my Charles Allen, III, Revolutionary soldier, I found there were two different profiles for him on Family search. I connected to both, though one had something terribly askew in the family relationships. Since I was doing a connection from WikiTree I had the opportunity to leave a message about the possible mistake in the notes for the Family Search profile, with reference to the Wikitree profile.  Haven’t heard anything back from the Family Search person as of yet but…

This shows the existing matches I have for Family Search to the WikiTree Profile for Charles Allen, III

One click and you are shown possible matches on Family Search. Wikitree saves that information on the WikiTree profile too. So you have a link straight to Family search for the profile you are researching on WikiTree. Pretty darn spiffy!

More on this tomorrow at the conference. Come see me…maybe I will have some blueberry pie waiting for you.

The presentation slides are available.

Coolaborate On!

I know I am the only one who does this.

I know I am the only one who does this.

I am the only genealogist who has a sense of family, who feels an ancestor’s pain when I type a date into my Genealogy program of choice (WikiTree). I am the only one who, when reading about some horrific event in an ancestors life, feel it in the pit of my stomach. I am the only one who feels pride when I read that someone was mentioned in the hallowed halls of Congress upon her death.

I know I am the only one.

Today I was working on an adoptee client’s mirror family tree (a tree created to “mirror” the tree of a DNA match, using the match as the “home” person). The husband of the probable mother of the adoptee shares as his death date, a birthday with my Grandfather. As I hit each key to type the death date, I realized that I didn’t just notice when someone shares my birthday, but I notice when I type any of my other important birthdays too.

I have a lot of those dates floating around in my brain. I even use the birth dates to switch around the combinations for my bicycle lock. Having the best bicycle in the house, I have had to change my combo’s a lot because certain children (child) in my life liked to borrow my bike lock or even attempt to borrow my bike. BAD CHILDREN! Right now my bike lock is so far back in my history and brain that it took me weeks and weeks to figure it out – Thank you Ross and several others in my life who share your birthday. I count stairs when I climb them too. Ask me about all telephone numbers I have had in my life…I know, too much information.

Noticing significant dates and feeling each keystroke. I am the only one who feels it. The date I typed just a few minutes ago might be even more significant to the Client. It might be the date of her mother or father’s or grandparents death – probably Grandparent. Just to think I am looking at the people that this adoptee has wondered about/looked for, for over 80 years. 80 years of dates come and gone, of weddings and births, graduations and vacations, thanksgivings and deaths. All of them in my finger tips, transferred to the keyboard and out into the ether.

I am on pins and needles waiting for the final DNA test. There have been many tests done for her birth family. Why? Because, this client’s birth family has a rabid family-historian/genealogist in its limbs, thank you universe. This family historian has been on the trail of another adoptee from the family for a while. There are generational differences, but this adoptee is my clients’ closest living relative. No she isn’t the other adoptee’s mother. And there is a skew in the match numbers for the two. They are first cousins once removed kinda sorta. Not exactly a first cousin, certainly not an Aunt and niece. But…it’s so hard to put your finger on because there was endogamy (the custom of marrying only within the limits of a local community, clan, or tribe – WikiPedia) in the family, for generations and generations.

One of my favorite Genetic Genealogists, Roberta Estes, covers the DNA numbers skew in endogamy very well in her blog, DNAeXplianed, Why Are My Predicted Cousin Relationships Wrong? I don’t need to repeat her great blog to explain this, because she explains it quite eloquently. She says “while the rules of thumb about how much DNA you inherit from specific ancestors are useful, they are not absolute. In other words, it’s certainly possible to inherit a very large chunk of DNA from a very specific distant ancestor when the rules of probability and the rule of thumb of 50% would indicate that you should not…

  • Endogamous populations throw a monkey wrench into estimates and calculations, because population members are likely related many times over in unknown ways.  This makes the estimate of relatedness of two people appear closer than it [really] is genealogically…”

My fingertips are stinging from all this typing. I, personally, feel the sting too. So, surely, there are no other genealogist out there in the world who do this, who feel every keystroke, or feel in the input of every recognizable date.

I know I am the only one who does this.

OGS 2016 Toronto

Wow! Going to a Genealogy Conference sure does make ones furnace burn bright with the fires of impetus, drive and determination!

Grandma’s Genes is at the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2016 in Toronto this weekend (June 2016). We participated in a workshop on running a genealogy business where we learned great strategies for moving Grandma’s Genes into the stratosphere of our niche market (Genetic Genealogy – General, Adoption and First Nations Peoples). It’s Amazing to have this kind of a workshop available to us this weekend and furthers our desire to offer insights and resources to our clients and to the genealogical community as a whole.

Even before we got here, our drive to Toronto from our home base in Ottawa, was incredibly productive. It’s good for Marc and I to be able to banter, talk and formulate ideas to further our vision (without annoying our spousal units and family). From the beginning (since Marc said to me while shoveling over 2 feet of snow from the laneway – driveway for those who don’t speak Canadian – “So I hear you are into Genealogy?!”) we have had a pretty singular vision. But, attending a conference together gives us an opportunity to sharpen that view and reinforce for us that our vision is correct.

From the colorful, the energetic and shameless self-promoting Thomas MacEntee to Maurice Gleeson and his wonderfully self-deprecating presentation of DNA, surnames and one name studies to Dr. Judy Russell’s playground metaphors for the rules we should all follow as genealogists (and everyone else really) to…well we still have another day to go.

Networking with like-minded people is great too. There are other bloggers and hobbyists and Genetic Genealogists, and legal Genealogists and Passionate Genealogists and a more than a few organizers and roving help people, in their green shirts, who are fun to talk to as they scurry from one help request to the next. We have had elevator talks which have lasted a few seconds, we have had break talks that have lasted for a few minutes, we have had late afternoon social talks that have lasted for half an hour. Like the talk Marc and I had with former Speaker of the House, the Right Honorable, Peter Milliken, PC OC FRSC (so many post-nominals – don’t ask me to explain what they mean). Everywhere you turn there is learning and sharing going on – from professional to professional, hobbyist to professional, hobbyist to hobbyist and most definitely from Organizer to all of us.

My favorite time at conferences like this, though, is the time I spend early in the mornings, lining up with my fellow attendees for a breakfast (this morning the line was 20 long at Starbucks). There are so many others with so many great stories to tell about their search for ancestors, and in the case of genetic genealogy, their search for descendants. Spending that time chatting together, hearing personal stories and ending up spread across a few tables engaged in 3 or 4 conversations at once? It’s the best time for me.


Oh it is good to be a part of this great world-wide community. I have heard a lot of the speakers this weekend talk about how we as genealogists, since the advent of the internet age, have welcomed the ability to collaborate and share. We have certainly seen it –  all the that collaboration, learning and laughing and growth.

Thank you OGS for putting on such a great event!

Shamless plug of our own…Your next opportunity to see Grandma’s Genes is coming up June 18th at the Ottawa Stake Family History Center, 1017 Prince of Wales Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Phone: 613-800-4250. Mags will be presenting, “WikiTree and Family Search, Oh, The Connections You’ll Make”. Please call the Ottawa Ottawa Stake Family History Center, at 613-800-4250 for more information.