Tuesday, August 22, 2017


My dad had an older brother named James Filmore Simmons who was born 29 April 1935 in Lamar County, Mississippi. He died a short three years later on 24 November 1938 of Diphtheria. I am not eligible to get a copy of his birth certificate but one of my uncles was kind enough to write off for it and I now have it in my possession. The problem is Filmore’s death certificate. His death is not on file with the Mississippi Department of Health. I have inquired on three separate occasions over the years hoping that they would find it. My uncle recently contacted the Lamar County Circuit Court and they said that they didn’t know where the local copies of the death records from that time period were but they would contact the former Clerk of the Court to see if he knew.  My uncle just emailed me this…

“The current people at the Lamar County Circuit Clerk's Office checked with the former Clerk and the former Clerk stated that records that old were destroyed years ago. I guess they never expected anyone to ask for them. Since the Circuit Clerk was responsible for notifying the State, I have run into a dead end (no pun intended) and have no other place to look.”

Filmore’s dad (my grandfather) told me that he died of Diphtheria so there’s that but I feel like Filmore’s life is an incomplete story. There was no obituary in the local paper which didn’t surprise me because this was a very poor family in a rural area. The local funeral home that handled the deaths of other family members has no record of Filmore’s death and it is likely he was simply buried by the family. Filmore does have a grave marker though which is something.

James Filmore Simmons
Photograph copyright © 2011 Barbara Lee, used with permission

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

MyHeritage and Legacy


By now I am sure you have heard that MyHeritage has acquired Millennia, the parent company of Legacy Family Tree and Legacy Tree Webinars.

Here are the official press releases:

Legacy Family Tree (and an additional FAQ)

We have been pretty busy during the process so I am just now getting around to announcing it on the blog. As we move forward I will be posting more information and answering any questions that you might have. If you are on Facebook I highly recommend you join our Legacy Users Group page (over 14,000 members strong) which is monitored by some of Legacy staff and some of beta testers and translators. We have been answering everyone’s questions there as well as on our Legacy Users Group Mailing List.


Friday, July 28, 2017

DNA tip

Ancestry, FTDNA, and MyHeritage have note fields for each of your DNA matches. This is a great way to record when you attempted contact, whether or not they answered you, their GEDmatch number if they have uploaded, MRCA if you have figured it out, etc.

If you want to make contact using Ancestry it will be via an internal message.  The messages are held in a central location and not attached to the individual match so the notes field will help you keep things straight.



FTDNA does not have an internal messaging system and contact is done via email. Again, the notes field helps you keep track of attempts to contact.




MyHeritage has an internal messaging system but the messages are in a central location (like Ancestry) and not tied to the individual matches (like 23andMe). Luckily they too have a notes field.


23andMe does not have a notes field but does has a message box that holds all of the back and forth conversations that is attached to each individual match which is very useful.  You don’t need a notes field.


GEDmatch does not have a notes field.  It would be VERY useful here to know who you have contacted and who you still need to contact.  Contact with matches is done via email. I will be suggesting this to them.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Keeping track of the unknowns

You can read about who I am trying to keep track of HERE.

I have entered the one known lineage and the three unknown brick wall ancestors into Legacy. Since all of this is speculative at the moment I have made them invisible. Invisible means that if I ever export my file or a part of my file these people will not be included.  They don’t exist anywhere but on my hard drive. Why do I enter them like they are real people even though they are not proven?  Because I can work with them much easier this way.  I can use them to directly sync to FamilySearch* and I can use Legacy’s new hinting feature.  As I learn more things about them I will enter the information including my sources.  I can also add Hashtags to these guys putting them into different groups.  I have a bunch of Hashtags already set up for my DNA projects.  I also add them to location Hashtags.  What I am eventually hoping to find are overlaps which will give me a clue as to which known Simmons groups these guys belong to.  When I first add them I add a special source to every fact.  Since these people are invisible and no one can see them but me this is only to help me keep track of what all I still need to look at and source.  The source looks like this:  DNA Match - Lineage not Confirmed. 

* When I say sync what I mean is I can see what FamilySearch has on this person through Legacy’s direct syncing capability but I don’t have to actually transfer any information.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Don’t ignore the 12 marker matches

If you have been following the blog for any length of time you will know that my all time #1 brick wall ancestor is James Simmons born 14 Aug 1764. I am trying to solve the big mystery of who his parents were using yDNA. My paternal uncle matches two men at 110 out of 111 markers which is about as good as you are ever going to see at this level of testing. As of yet the three lines do not connect even though all three lines are back far enough in time for the connection to be right at out fingertips.  My line is proven and one of the other lines is proven.  The third line, the one that goes back in time one more generation than the other two, is unproven. I have been unable to get ahold of the that tester for over two years. The other researcher and I are in the process of trying to prove that third line up the chain but we have 3 connections that we haven’t been able to prove yet.

In the meantime, if I drop down to 67 markers I pick up three more matches but they aren’t good ones.  Different surnames and genetic distances of 6-7.  When I drop down to 37 I have no new matches there to content with. When I drop to 25 I pick up a lot of matches but the genetic distance is too far off and there are no surname matches.

But when I drop to 12 markers…

I pick up four men with the surname Simmons that are a 12 out of 12 marker match.  All three only tested at 12 markers so I am not seeing them at the higher levels.  All three are in the right haplogroup. One of the four has a tree that leads back to the right area of the country. The other three don’t have trees. One of those three has his brick wall ancestor listed and he is in the right place.  Another has his brick wall ancestor listed but no locations. The third has his brick wall ancestor a good 3 generations farther back in time and in England but no pedigree so I don’t know if that is valid or not. Normally I don’t put too much stock in 12 marker matches but these have some promise.

That’s the good news.  That bad news is that none of the four has answered my emails. I have politely asked for their Simmons lineage and I requested they consider upgrading to 67 markers.

While I impatiently wait for a response I am actively working with what I have, one pedigree and three brick wall ancestors. I will be seeing what I can match up on FamilySearch and on Ancestry. I might even find my testers there and can try and contact them that way.

Next time I will tell you about a couple of little tricks that I do in Legacy to help me with this.