Sunday, October 6, 2013

My reply to Ancestry Anne's Top Ten Rules for Growing Your Family Tree

I was wondering how her 10 rules would apply to the Family Tree Maker Program. What can I do, in my database to help me grow my file.

NOTE: This isn't a "How To" blog post. I have in the past made blog posts on "how to" do the steps on what will be described here, and will continue to do that

  • Enter what you know
There is where you start when using Family Tree Maker and you don't have an existing family file on your computer or an existing Ancestry Member Tree (AMT). It's the Plan Workspace, New Tree Tab.
Down the  left column you select Enter What you know. To the right, you enter your Name, Sex, Date and Place of Birth. And you can add your Father's Name and Mother's Name.

The next thing to do is to Name the Tree. This will become the File Name of your Family File. Just an observation about file names. Keep them short and simple. I have learned that it is very helpful to include the Version Number of Family Tree Maker as part of the filename. Why? If I have to recover from a Back Up, I know what Version of the program that created the file.
 You may notice that there is another tab in the above screen capture, it says Current Tree. The file name of that tree, in my case is Master2014-1207. It has the version and build number as part of the file name. Not necessary, but it has been helpful to me.

I have other files, Byberry2014, Nicholas2014, to name a few. I didn't add the build number, because I don't work on them as much.
The file name should be meaningful for you.
Ancestry Ann didn't talk about this, but I will. When you get to the next screen, which would be into the People Workspace, you want to put Citations for each item you enter. If you are starting from scratch, I recommend that you lean how to use the Template Feature. There have been many blog posts on this blog about how to do that. It's complicated, but so worthwhile when you do.
  • Prep your tree for hints. 
Once you Register Family Tree Maker, have your computer connected to the internet, the fun begins. During the Registration process you will Enter your's Username and Password OR if you don't have one, create one, during registration. As you begin to build your family tree, you may start to see those Shaky Leaves appear within FTM2014.
This is in the People Workspace, Tree View. You will see that 6 people have Shaky Leaves. Don't be discouraged if they just don't immediately appear, but they will. These people are in the 1700's so there are more records available online, but these Hints will be worth looking at in the future. To be clear, looking at, does not mean do anything with that hint, but look at the hints.

 The more information that you enter into FTM2014 (and other versions) more search criteria is sent to for its search engines to find records for us. The data that is important are Names, Dates, and Places. The screens in Family Tree Maker help with a more important piece of information, Relationships.
That doesn't mean that you enter everything that you KNOW about the person when you start, that can some later, but Names, Dates, and Places help the search engine. The Birth, Marriage, and Death FACTs are very helpful in this step. As the first step said, Enter What You Know, especially in this area, for those Birth, Marriage, and Death Facts.

  • Apply the “does this make sense” test? 
 This is referring to those Shaky Leaves. When you LOOK at them, how does the information in that "hint" relate to the person in your file that has that Shaky Leaf? Be careful, make sure that you are certain that it's YOUR person. Look at all of the information on that online record, compare it to the information in your file, and Does This Make Sense, is it information on my person.

In that earlier screen, I want to look at those Shaky Leaves. I let my mouse / cursor hover over that Shaky Leaf and you will see that 5 Ancestry hints have been found, but what are they? Are are they about this Thomas Ridgway, Jr.

Clicking on the link, will take you to the Web Search Workspace. If you just clicked on the Web Search Workspace, not following the Hint, you would be on the normal search screen. But this feature, following the hints, has already done the searching for you and has results for you.

There is a lot of information on this screen, but lets see what is here. This is the first glance at "does this make sense"

In the lower LEFT is data from your FTM2014 file. Not everything but enough that you can compare what is from Ancestry, and what is in your file. The 5 Hints (in this example) are from Selecting each one will populate the Lower RIGHT screen with the information from Ancestry. The first test is to look at those two fields at the bottom of the screen.

You can look at the record / hint from this screen.
Selecting that first hint shows us this

Looks like my person. I can see the name and dates are correct. BUT, I am NOT going to do anything further at this point. I could Merge what is on Ancestry into my file, or if this hint wasn't my person, I could mark that record as Ignore. No action at this point will keep that Hint for me.

But I want to look down that list of 5 hints, because I saw the words View Image

 The first hint didn't have an image. That screen capture was all that it was going to provide, but this hint has an image. I clicked on that link and saw this.

This is an Abstract of wills and has Thomas Ridgway listed. That's my person. BUT Is is?
  • Go slow.  
That's the painful step, but so important. Cite your sources, look carefully at the records you are finding. The Web Merge feature is awesome, BUT, there may be some clean up to do afterwards. I have blogged about that in the past. I spent most of last year cleaning up my 'messy' Source List. I hadn't cleaned up my file. But, then again we didn't have the Source Template feature. A Web Merge does NOT, at this time, present us with a Source Template created Citation. The going slow, for me, is to take the time to convert the Free Form Citation and put that record into the appropriate Template as update (clean up) the Citation. I have blogged about that as well. Going Slow is a good thing, and as Ancestry Anne said "This will allow you to avoid mistakes".
  • View the image.  
At top of this FTM2014 window is a Mini-Navigation bar. To the Right of Thomas' name is a downward pointing arrow, that by clicking on that will bring down a list of their children.

As you can tell, three of those children are listed in that Abstract. I want that information. Looking in my database that Caleb Carr, Son-In-Law helped confirm Ann Ridgway's sister Sarah's marriage.

So this record is worth using. I would use the Web Merge feature of Family Tree Maker to get all of this information, including that image, into my file. I'll do a Blog Post on that.
  • Not everything on the internet is true. 
I will take that one step further, Not everything that IS online is on BUT, FTM2014 allows for us to add our own Favorite web sites.

I am a contributor to the Find-A-Grave website. On that website, I can create a list of My Cemeteries. As I visit or search for "my people" on that website, I add that Cemetery to my list. From the Web Search Workspace I see a list of my favorite websites.

I have blogged about how to add to your list. In this example, I want to look at the Find-A-Grave website and my list of cemeteries. In the Hints, earlier, was an Hint for Thomas on Find-A-Grave. I have blogged about how to do that, but I want to go directly from FTM2014 to that Cemetery on the Find-A-Grave website.

 I scrolled down the list and can click on that link, from within FTM2014, and visit that website.

But Ancestry Anne's step is absolutely true. After I have gathered as much information that I can, online, I find that I am much better prepared for a visit to a Repository that has the information I need or want. I have blogged about a visit to a Library (Repository) with out taking a computer. I have first looked at the Repository's website, understand the "rules of the house", see what THEY have Online, and what they DON'T have online. The report I create will help me concentrate on what records I want to look at when I get there.

  • Start by gathering all the census records.
 This is so true. Up to this point, we have been entering names and what we believe to be relationships. The US Federal Census records AFTER 1860 will start to show those relationships. But really look at those relationships in the Images that are available.
A friend of mine had a road block for her Step-Grandmother. When she looked at this Census Record, she only looked at those people with her SURNAME. But when I looked at it, I looked at the HOUSEHOLD.
What I saw, looking at the Image of the census record, was a Step Relationship between the Head of Household, Ancestry's new Viewer, high lighted the household. When I looked at the household and the road block went down. The Step Children had the Head of Households 2nd wife's Married Name.
  • Bigger is not better.  
My main family file has been just under 9,000 people for years. That's OK. I chose to focus on my 6th Great Grandfather and his descendents. He was the first of my line to enter the colonies. I knew and have confirmed that line down to me, and my children.
But there were "family stories" that someone was also a descendent of Capt John Worthington. So I have researched those other descendents, found some stories to be true, others not so true. Because I can travel to those places where they lived, I have done so. A couple of hours on the road to see a Civil War Battlefield that was in a relatives back yard, is a very meaningful experience.
 I am not interested in having that file grow to 50,000 people or more. I have learned this hobby is more than Names and Dates.
  • Family is important. 
 I have found that the stories of our ancestors are so important to me. How they lived, where they lived, what they did is very insightful.
The best example, for me, was my Great Grandfather, Samuel. He came from a long line of Quakers, living in Philadelphia, and for no apparent reason shows up in the Kansas Territory on a farm. Why? Oh, the Civil War was approaching, he wanted to leave Pennsylvania, and because of his Quaker beliefs "left town". But, what did he do? Joined the 11th Cav. Kansas and was off to the Civil War. He had a farm there, and with his wife, had a bunch of kids, some born in this house. That is my Great-Grandmother in the picture.

It's reported that my Grandfather was one of them. After both parents died, the youngest three children, my grandfather being one of them, were sent by train back to the Philadelphia Area, to be picked up from family in New Jersey. My grandfather went on to become a farmer, working for others, then purchasing his own farm where my Dad farmed, and I worked on as a very young lad. The family story of "farmers" doesn't stop there. My daughter works on a farm, 
 and goes to her markets

 Not quite the same as my Dad's younger sister and a farm stand "by the road"

and my house backs up to a farm.

  • Be focused.  
So true. Some times it might be focused on cleaning up Source Information, or a specific line because you just found a new Cousin, or verifying some data already entered, but be Focused. Look for patterns, like farming,

But what Ancestry Anne didn't say ...
  • And have fun
I don't know about you, but I couldn't do all of this without a good Genealogy Database Management program that works for YOU.
Copyright © 2013 by H R Worthington

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