Category Archives: How To

Dates in FamilySearch

A new FamilySearch tool personalizes dates in history for you. The Calendar of Ancestral Moments lets you see what important events happened in your family history on particular calendar dates.

To get started, simply visit, and log in to your FamilySearch Account. Your ancestor calendar should appear. Starting at the beginning of the year, the calendar finds events from your ancestors’ lives for each calendar date.

This is kinda fun! There is also a downloadable one-year calendar. It is loaded with “adverts”, but a good PDF editor could fix that issue.

You can also link to FaceBook Messenger, but I am not interested in that. The system can send daily notes to the Messenger app. For more information, go to the FamilySearch blog:

Another way to get dates out of a Gedcom of your tree is to use the program Oxy-Gen. This program is totally free. It is also sorta primitive. But, it is great in that it does not get “installed” into your Windows system. The software comes in a ZIP file and you just unzip it! Then find the EXE file and run it! Just be careful where you unzip it as it creates a few sub-folders.

You feed the program a Gedcom and have it create a CSV file. Then open the CSV in Excel or LibreOffice. The program can output into many other file formats, but I am interested in CSV so I can create a list of dated events, like birth dates.

Find the program here for the English page. Or search for “oxy-gen gedcom”. Or come to the Monterey FHC on Friday mornings with your Gedcom and I will run it for you! 🙂

>“How can you think and hit at the same time?” – Yogi Berra

Noting DNA in Family Search Tree

Remembering that the FamilySearch tree is a “one-world tree”, it wouldn’t be possible to record cousin autosomal relationships, as there would be too many for everyone. And most autosomal matches are living people anyway.  But, the haplogroups for Y-DNA and MITOCHONDRIAL DNA should remain fixed for given individuals.  In fact, knowing the haplogroup values for people is one way of disproving possible relationships.  (It can’t prove them.)

To record a given haplogroup, create a “Custom Fact” under “Other Information” for your given ancestors.  Custom Facts are viewable by all.  For the Title, make it “DNA Values”, in the Description field put the actual haplogroup code, and in the “Reason This is Correct” field, put who the haplogroup belongs to with the testing company.

Similar to this:

I think it would be reasonable to record haplogroups for one’s direct paternal and maternal ancestors out to the point where a given autosomal match has shown the ancestor to be a MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor).  Going beyond that ancestor is not verifiable without the given autosomal sourced trail.

The above comments are my personal opinions .

Free Spreadsheet Programs

One of the big things in the genetic genealogy world these days is “clustering”. Basically this is a way to group matches you have into family groups to make it easier to figure out how the unknown match relates to you. Two of the popular ways are DNA Gedcom and Genetic Affairs. The beginning of this fad and still the easiest and cheapest way to cluster is to do it yourself using the Leed’s Method. A really good explanation is given by Dana Leed herself at her blog.

But, all of these methods presuppose that you have a spreadsheet! Not everyone has a spreadsheet: perhaps you just got a new computer for Christmas; perhaps you don’t like the rental paradigm that Microsoft is using. The point of this post is to remind everyone about the FREE spreadsheet programs provided by LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice. In both cases, you can download and install either just a spreadsheet program or a suite that includes a spreadsheet, word processor, power-point equivalent and database. They really are free, never any strings attached. You just have to install one or the other. They come in 3 flavors: Windows, Mac, Linux.

The Monterey Family History Center has the LibreOffice Suite installed on all computers if you want to see it in action before you get it yourself. We had OpenOffice on the older computers, but LibreOffice came preinstalled (by the SaltLake FHC) on our new machines.

Don’t let the lack of a spreadsheet keep you from building a Leeds Cluster! Get thee over to Dana Leed’s blog and follow her along. Then you can come to one of the DNA Interest Group meetings and tell us how it worked! Or you could do a show-n-tell at one of the MoCoGenSo monthly meetings!

“Just because you have grown up with the Internet does not mean that the Internet is grown up.

ISOGG is Special

The Director of ISOGG, Katherine Borges, taught 4 classes at the DAR Ancestor Roundup last Saturday. Her presence made me curious, I have known about the ISOGG website for a long time, it’s reputation in the genetic genealogy world is excellent. I used to browse the Y-DNA tree quite often. ISOGG stands for International Society of Genetic Genealogy. It was founded in 2006! But I had grown complacent. smug really, over the years believing I had gone “beyond” ISOGG. After all, I had taken my first DNA test at National Genographic in January 2006! Boy was I wrong.

I went to the ISOGG web site the other day just to find out about this “director” person. While there, I began to poke around the various pages they maintain. I had forgot that they have hundreds of pages, but you have to poke around to find them. Their site is really a goldmine of data about genetic genealogy, and they have volunteers maintaining the system who really care about this hobby of ours.

You need to start your visit to ISOGG by starting at the front door, of course. Click to get there. The initial presentation reminds me of meeting Clark Kent, who would ever imagine this was actually Super Man!

The “meat” of the site is in their Wiki pages. Click ISOGG Wiki to get there now, but the Wiki is also at the top of their Home page.

To see Super Man, though, you have to go to this next page. This page lists all of their pages, but they are RANKED by number of times read, eg. popularity! Popular Pages. This page is marked “Special”, so I don’t know if it is a permanent page or not. You best try it soon. This page is useful for ALL levels of expertise.

I will leave this post with a link to one of my favorites pages in ISOGG, the Autosomal SNP comparison chart.

Trust me, if you are interested in DNA coupled with genealogy, you need to visit ISOGG and take the time to prowl around.. It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie or an “old pro”, you will find things stored there that will be useful.

“Why do people say tuna fish but don’t say beef mammal or chicken bird?” – Reddit

Discoveries in the Courthouse

Junel Davidsen gave a really interesting talk during our October 2018 monthly meeting about researching Deed records and other similar documents and other discoveries you can make in Courthouses!

We have here the handout containing resources and links that Junel provided at the meeting. The file is a PDF with “live” links. Download and enjoy.

Discovering in Deeds

Immigration Records now at Family Search!

Given that Adam and Eve were born in some country other than the United States (Garden of Eden) then therefore everyone here in the USA is either an immigrant or is descended from immigrants. (Native Americans also immigrated — just longer ago than most!)

Many of our immigrant ancestors came to this country through the portals of Ellis Island. It has always been a challenge to search the records at Ellis Island. I know that Stephen Morse has made it easier on his One-Step web site. And he will be the September speaker here.

BUT — a recent blog post from announced that the complete archive of Ellis Island passenger records is now available on their website, today! They are completely indexed with the real imagine available too. Hooray.

Click here to see the blog announcement:

The free records include the following:

New York Passenger Lists (Castle Garden) 1820–1891

New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island) 1892–1924

New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists 1925–1957

Start searching for your ancestors now. What are you waiting for!

“There is a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.” – Raymond Reddington