Monday, October 12, 2015

Thank you ACPL and PERSI

The Allen County Library (ACPL) in Fort Wayne, Indiana is the creator of the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) which has been of great use to me over the years.  I just received copies of five articles that appeared in the South Carolina Historical Magazine.

  • “South Carolina Episcopal Church Records” by Margaretta Childs and Isabella G. Leland, Oct 1983
  • “South Carolina Methodist Records” by Richard N. Côté, Jan 1984
  • “South Carolina Presbyterian Records” by Richard N. Côté, Apr 1984
  • “South Carolina Baptist Records” by J. Glen Clayton, Oct 1984
  • “South Carolina Religious Records: Other Denominations” by Richard N. Côté, Jan 1985

South Carolina, unlike everyone else, didn’t keep marriage records at the county level until 1911 which is very inconvenient.  There are a few scattered marriage records in the court records but there aren’t many.  One must turn to church records and newspapers.  I am going to address newspapers in the next post because there is something very important to know when you want to try and find something in a newspaper.

Before you start a search through church records you need to know what records actually exist and where they are housed.  That is why I ordered the above articles.  They are a gold mine of information and I am starting to put together a comprehensive research plan.  I am looking for a specific marriage and I am not 100% sure which church the couple belonged to (I suspect Episcopal) so I must look at all of the denominations.  It’s a needle in a haystack search and that it why it is doubly important to search methodically and keep records of everything that has been searched.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis


















Friday, October 9, 2015


Previous posts in this series:
Benchmarks – Part I
Benchmarks – Part II
Education – Foundational
Education – Intermediate

The first two aren’t educational opportunities per se but going through the process will be the best education you will probably ever get.

Both the BCG and ICAPGen have all kinds of resources that you can use to help bring your research skills up to the advanced level even if you don’t plan on actually submitting anything to them.

My portfolio for the BCG is over half done BUT I am having to take an extended break from it because I have a grandbaby on the way.  Family is always first for me and when my daughter goes back to work I will be watching the baby for her in addition to my full time job at Legacy.  It just isn’t in the cards for me right now but going through the process taught me a lot.  To see what is required, you can look at the BCG’s Application Guide. I already told you about BCG’s Standards Manual but you can also take a look at BCG’s Rubrics which is used to judge the portfolios. 

Another great advanced learning opportunity is submitting an article to a peer-reviewed journal such as the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), The Register (published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society),  The Record (published by the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society), or The American Genealogist.  The editorial process can take up to a year depending on the article and the journal.  Each journal has its own style of what type of articles they accept and how they need to be submitted so your first step is to acquaint yourself with their submission guidelines. 

Here are two educational opportunities that are definitely on my bucket list. You can read descriptions of the courses on their websites.

Here are some new ones from Excelsior College that look VERY interesting. 

These have not been scheduled yet but I have put my name on the list.  It just so happens I received my bachelor’s degree in nursing from Excelsior so I am familiar with the school and they have an excellent reputation.  Since full descriptions of the courses aren’t available yet I don’t know what level these courses are but knowing the types of courses that Excelsior have these will be at the intermediate level at the very least.

There are A LOT of great webinars out there on specialized topics.  Cyndi’s List has a clearinghouse of Online Courses and Webinars you can take a look at.  Just make sure you vet the instructor so that you know the course is legit.

You can get CDs of presentations given at the national level by the top genealogists in the country/world.  This is a great way to take advantage of national conferences when you can’t travel.  My favorite source is JAMB Tapes, Inc.

I highly recommend that you keep track of your education.  I have a friend that designed a really cool form in MS Word that I use.  You could also use MS Excel or other spreadsheet program.  I would not only include the specifics of the course (name, date, location, description, cost) but also your personal evaluation of the course. 


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Previous posts in this series:
Benchmarks – Part I
Benchmarks – Part II
Education – Foundational

So now you have some education and experience under your belt and you want to kick it up a notch, where do you go from here?  We are still at the point where you need to get a general, well-rounded education but you can also start branching out into specialized areas. 

You can of course continue your education at the FamilySearch Learning Center by going through the courses that are labeled intermediate (and then advanced).  There are 351 at the intermediate level.  That should keep you busy for awhile.

Normally I would have said that the next step would be the National Genealogical Society’s Home Study Course but I now see that they have changed it to American Genealogical Studies. I am not sure if the original course is still available other than for students who are already enrolled. The NGS Home Study course was a comprehensive survey of the most common record sets that you will be working with. There are assignments for each module and you get personalized feedback from the instructor. This was a great precursor to ProGen.  The new American Genealogical Studies series is set up differently.  I haven’t seen it myself but I am pretty confident it is a good program since it is from the NGS. Here are the tracks:

Here are a couple more ideas for comprehensive programs.

I also highly recommend ProGen.  This is an 18 month study group.  You have to be willing to commit because there is a lot of work involved.  I am VERY glad I participated.  I was in ProGen 18 and all of us are still in touch.  As a matter of fact, we have our own secret Facebook Group page. 

Joining one of the NGSQ Study Groups is also a great idea.  Once a month you get together to discuss a NGSQ article.  You must be a member of the National Genealogical Society to take advantage of this one because you will need access to the articles archive.  The schedule of articles is sent out at the beginning of the year.  There are groups that meet on different days/times and using different platforms so you should be able to find a good fit.  If you are interested, you can send an email to Darcie Posz at for more information.

Another great intermediate group is the GenProof Study Groups which is based on the book, Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones. These groups are 8 or 16 weeks long, meet at different days/times and on different platforms so there is something for everyone. For more information you can contact Michelle Goodrum at I am one of the mentors for these groups and every time I take a group through I learn something. 

So what books do you need to add to your library?  This is a little tougher because now that you are at the intermediate level there are so many great books out there.  You really aren’t limited anymore.  Here is my Complete Book List.  There are a couple that I have that aren’t on the list but this is most of them.

This is also where you can start building resources for specific topics.  For example, since I do a lot of German research I have a bunch of books just for that though some people might consider German research an advanced skill.

Bentz, Edna M. If I Can You Can Decipher Germanic Records. San Diego, CA: privately published, 2001.

Beidler, James M. German: Chronological Considerations. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2014.

Gläntzer, Christina. Hundert Jahre im Leben Einer Familie, Die Familie Gläntzer. Bielefeld, Germany: privately published, n.d.

Langenscheidt’s New College German Dictionary. Revised Edition. New York: Langenscheidt,1995.

Meyerink, Kory and Kenneth Lee Smith. German: Church Records. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2003.

Meyerink, Kory. German: Civil Registration. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2005.

Meyerink, Kory. German: Emigration Records. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2004.

Meyerink, Kory. German: Introduction to Research for North Americans. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2002.

Meyerink, Kory. German: Locating Places in Germany. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2009.

Meyerink, Kory. German: Reading the Records. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2003.

Meyerink, Kory. German: Records Repositories. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2004.

Meyerink, Kory. German: The Language. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2002.

Minert, Roger P. Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents.  2nd Ed. Provo, UT: GRT Publications, 2013.

Minert, Roger P. Spelling Variations in German Names: Solving Family History Problems Through Applications of German and English Phonetics. Provo, UT: GRT Publications, 2000.

Reimer, Shirley J., et al. The German Research Companion. 3rd Ed. Sacramento, CA: Lorelei Press, 2010.

Smith, Kenneth L. German Names – A Practical Guide. Morgantown, PA: Mastof Press, 2007.

Strutz, Henry. 501 German Verbs. 3rd Ed. Alfred, NY: Barron’s, 1998.

Süß, Harold. Deutsche Screibschrift, Lesen und Schreiben Lernen. München, Germany: Augutus Verlag, 2000.

Thode, Ernest. German-English Genealogical Dictionary. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003.

Urban, Thomas. Deutsche in Polen, Geschichte und Gegenwart einer Minderheirt. München, Germany: C. H. Beck, 2000.

Verdenhalven, Fritz. Die Deutsche Schrift-The German Script. Neustadt, Germany: Verlag Degener & Co., 1994.


Next time we will talk about some advanced learning opportunities.  Some of these will require travel.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


The last two blog posts covered the standards you should be measuring your research against.  Here are the links to those posts.

Benchmarks – Part I
Benchmarks – Part II

Now we are going to talk about how to get the education you need to get your research up to the above standards.  I am going to concentrate on educational opportunities available to you from the comfort of your own home.  There are also great programs out there at universities and at genealogical conferences but those are a lot harder for the average person to take advantage of. I will do a separate post detailing a few of these later on. We are also going to talk about the importance of joining genealogical societies that offer great educational opportunities as well as how to build a good reference library.

This first post is aimed at the absolute beginner. There are three things you need to think about:

  • Education
  • Building a reference library
  • Networking with other researchers via genealogy societies

We will talk about education first. My #1 favorite source for beginner material is FamilySearch. FamilySearch’s Learning Center has an entire section for beginners as well as sections for intermediates and advanced. If you scroll to the bottom of the page you will see a special section for beginners—5 Minute Genealogy Episodes 1-21. These short videos break down the topics in easy to digest bites.  Once you have completed those you can click the Beginner link under Skill Level on the left.  There you will find 260 videos.  These lessons are taught by accredited genealogists, certified genealogist and professional genealogists. Many of them also have handouts.  All are 100% free and you can’t beat that.  Once you access the beginner section you will see that you can further filter the list by country and by subject.  I suggest you focus on the subject categories before you start looking at country-specific lessons.

Starting a reference library is essential but it can be a bit daunting because there is a lot of great books out there.  So what books to do you get first?

  • Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. Third Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2000.

This is an oldie but a goodie.  Greenwood discusses all of the major record groups you need to be familiar with in detail.  This is the first book I recommend to people. 


  • Eichholz, Alice, editor. RedBook, American State, County, and Town Sources. Third Edition. Provo, UT: 2004.

  • The Handybook for Genealogists. Eleventh Edition. Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2006. (I have the 10th edition)

These two books are similar in format but different enough that if you owned both it wouldn’t be a bad thing. These books are divided by state and give you an overview of what records are available for that state as well as a concise history of the state and a listing of all of the counties/parishes and their formation information. 


  • Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained, Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. 3rd Ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015.

I was a little hesitant to recommend this one as a beginner book because this book is usually VERY daunting to beginners.  However, learning how to cite your sources properly is a foundational skill.  The best advice I have is to read the first two chapters before you start looking at the examples in the rest of the book.  The first two chapters explain evidence analysis and the why and how of citing your sources.  If you understand the basic principles the rest of the book won’t be quite as scary.


Since census records are probably the most popular record group that beginners work with then you might want to take a look at this book.

  • Hinckley, Kathleen W. Your Guide to the Federal Census. Cincinnati: Betterway Books, 2002.


Networking with other genealogists is very important.  The best way to do that is to join societies.  There are all different kinds of genealogical societies but I think beginner’s should start by joining their local, state and national societies.  What additional societies you join will depend on the type of research you do and what special interests you have.  I wrote a blog post on Why should I join a genealogical society?  To give you an idea of what sorts of societies you can join here is the list of the groups I belong to.

One of the things genealogical societies do is provide quality learning opportunities. 

There is one more thing that beginners need to consider and that is how they are going to document their research.  This really doesn’t fall under education per se and I will probably do another blog post just about this but I thought I would at least mention it. 

  • You need to decide on a computer genealogy database program
  • You need to decide on how you are going to file your paper documents
  • You need to decide on how you are going to file your electronic documents

(Hint – your electronic and paper filing systems need to be set up using the same organizational structure so that everything is uniform.  If you set them both up the same way you will have no problem finding things).


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Benchmarks–Part II

Ethics Pic

On Monday we talked about Genealogy Standards and how you can use them to test the quality of your research. Before I tell you about the educational opportunities out there that will help you get to this level there is one other set of standards I think all genealogists should measure themselves against and that is a code of ethics. Here are three and they are all good. 

In a nutshell, I don’t want to work with any researcher who is not ethical.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, September 21, 2015

Benchmarks–Part I

Would you like to become a better genealogist/family historian? All you need to do is take advantage of all of the great learning opportunities out there and adhere to a set of research standards. 

Genealogy Standards: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition

If your research adheres to the standards in this little book you can be very confident that your research is on par with professional genealogists, certified genealogists and accredited genealogists.  I will tell you that if you haven’t had sufficient education the standards will be a bit overwhelming.  The standards can help you assess where you are and then you can put together an education plan to fill in any gaps you may have. 

I will be doing a series on educational opportunities that will get you to the point where the above standards are fully integrated into your research process.  The recommendations will go from foundational to advanced so there will be something for everyone.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis


Monday, September 14, 2015

Another brick in the wall

My son loves Pink Floyd and can play all of their guitar solos so I hear Pink Floyd all of the time.  I was singing my version of  Another Brick in the Wall today—Another brick in the Wall… crumbles.

I have told you before that I love federal land entry files because you never know what you might find.  I found a very important clue in one today.

In the very early days of the Mississippi Territory there were three groups of Simmons’.  There was a group in the Natchez area, a group in Marion County, and a group in Perry County (my brick wall Simmons is here).  Keeping these three groups separate is a bit of a challenge and of course the possibility exists that they are all related somehow.  To complicate things the name James Simmons (my brick wall) pops up in all three areas.

I have all of the land entry file for my James Simmons already.  There are land entry files for a James Simmons and a Ralph Simmons in Marion County as well so I went ahead and had them pulled.  I already have some stuff on Ralph.  He is pretty easy to follow because there is only one Ralph.  I already knew that this James Simmons wasn’t my guy but would there be a clue in his land entry file that might help me?  There was and it was a single sentence.


James Simmons bought land in Marion County but he was from Amite County.  That puts him closer to Natchez than to Perry County which is a big clue.  My James Simmons migrated from South Carolina around 1805ish?  The James Simmons of Natchez was in Natchez much earlier, before the Mississippi Territory was officially opened for settlement.  It is more likely that the Amite County James Simmons was from the Natchez group and that he was migrating eastward while my guy was migrating westward into Mississippi from South Carolina.

My next stop was the Amite County records.  FamilySearch has a lot of the Mississippi Department of Archives records online and it happens to be one of my favorite record groups.  I opened up the Amite County records and the earliest record is a 1810 tax roll.  I have never looked at the Amite County records before because I never had a Simmons there.  Well now I do.  In 1810 I found a Vincen Simmons.  This is a completely new name and it is a more uncommon name making him easier to trace.  There was also a Robert Simmons and a John Simmons and a Willis Simmons.  Willis Simmons?  Well, well, well, there’s a name I know. 


Willis was a known associate of Ralph’s in Marion County.  So it looks like James, Ralph and Willis were all closely related (I had suspected that Ralph and Willis were) and it is more likely they were related to the Natchez bunch.  I had never been able to make any connection between Ralph and Willis and my James in Perry County.

This may not seem like a lot but it is important for me to be able to place every Simmons that was in the Mississippi Territory during these early years into their correct family groups (a mini One-Name Study if you will) and now I have been led to several Simmons’ I didn’t even know about. Mississippi has a lot of burned counties so I am a bit limited in the records department.  Every little scrap if information can find is very important, even a tax roll that has nothing but 1 pole.

I am hoping that DNA will eventually play into this. With the DNA evidence I have so far it appears that my James’ family came from Virginia originally, at least one generation back from when James was born.  I would like to find a descendant from the Natchez bunch to see what their DNA looks like. If their DNA is a match I can say that all three groups in Mississippi were related somewhere, probably back at least a generation and most likely in Virginia.  If their DNA isn’t a match then I know I am working with two distinct groups. 


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

More on land mapping at the Bureau of Land Management

Brad P. emailed me in response to I have a new toy!  to make sure that I knew about another great feature that the BLM offers.  I did know about this and I use it all the time but I didn’t mention it and I think that another blog post is in order.

The BLM will plot the piece of land onto a present day map. Go to the BLM Search Page and do your search like normal.  Now click on the Accession number for the parcel you are interested in.   Down at the bottom you will see a map.  Put a checkmark in the Map box at the top and then the map will zero in on the parcel.  You can zoom in and out as needed.  Now take a screenshot of this and you can attach the image in Legacy (or whatever genealogy database program you use) as a reference.  The big square is 5N11W, the next square is section 33 and the smallest square is the NW1/4.  You can’t do multiple parcels at one time on the same map (unless you are some sort of expert with one of the advanced photo editing programs which I am not) but this is a very useful tool.



Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, September 7, 2015

Legacy: The other clipboards

I wrote two blog posts about the Source Clipboard
Legacy: The Source Clipboard
Legacy: More about the Source Clipboard

But what about the other clipboards in Legacy?  The clipboards are there to save you time and to help you make your entries uniform.

Event Clipboard - After you have entered an event for someone you can copy and paste that event to other people.  This is different than “sharing” an event which will probably be the topic of a future blog post.  I prefer use the copy and paste method for census records instead of sharing the event (personal preference). Everything is copied including the source citation and the linked document.

Here is Ebenezer Grantham’s event for the 1850 United States Federal Census.  I am going to copy it to all of the family members that also appear on this census.  After I have entered the information, I click the Copy button.



I then go to his daughter Leucretia and click ADD to add an event.  The event comes up blank.  All I have to do is click the Paste button.



Now I have this.


Notice that the source was copied over (the source icon is colored in) and the image file of the actual census page was also copied over (you can see the thumbnail in the bottom right corner).  This will save you oodles of time and you will be sure that everything is consistent and uniform.


To-Do Clipboard – If you need to check a specific source for more than one person this clipboard is for you.  I ordered a Family History Library microfilm and I need to check this film for several people.  I create the To-Do task for the first person, Hannah Drake, and then click the Copy button.



I open Martha Stearns’ To-Do List and open a new task.  It opens blank (the Open Date defaults in).  Now I click the Paste button.



I get an exact copy tied to Martha Stearns.  If I needed to customize it for this person I could add what I needed.



The To-Do List also has the ability to save up to ten of your favorite To-Do’s so that you can recall them at any time.

Let’s say I create a To-Do task for Find A Grave. I know this will be one that I use often so I want to save it.  After I have entered the information I click the Save button.



You then get this.



Now it is there when I need it.  I open a new To-Do Task and click the Load button.



This is what pops up.



And then you get this.



So let’s go a little further and finish the task out.  If this were a real person you might see this on the Results tab.


Take advantage of the built-in features that save you time, time you could be using to do research instead of repetitive data entry.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis



Monday, August 31, 2015

I have a new toy!

One of the things I am doing for my James Simmons brick wall is figuring out who his neighbors were when he first came to Mississippi.  Since I can’t follow James back to South Carolina (too many James Simmons’ there) I am going to try and follow his neighbors back in time to see if I can find where they came from.  Once I do that, I can cross check to see if any of the South Carolina James Simmons’ happened to be neighbors with these other families. People tended to migrate in groups.

Mississippi is a Public Lands state so plotting out land plats is super easy (unlike the evil Metes and Bounds system, don’t get me started on that).  The Public Land records are on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website.

The patents and warrants on this website show you the first/original owners.  They bought or received land directly from the federal government.  If the original owner then sold his piece that would be recorded in the county courthouse as a deed.  When you plot out the owners you find on this website that is an important thing to understand.  It just so happens that James came to the Mississippi Territory soon after it was opened for settlement so he does have several land patents. 

The way I have been plotting these is by using graph paper of sorts. Here is the template I use.


It works well but it is BORING!  My friend Jenny Lanctot (who has now been promoted to my best friend EVER) showed me a nifty little trick that I did not know about.  You can download the original township/range survey and then plot your parcels on that.  For example, you can see that the township/range I am working on is 5N11W.  Here is what it looks like if you download the map of this township/range from the BLM.



Using these maps to plot the parcels makes it look so much cooler.  The other advantage is that you can see the waterways!  This tells you so much more about your ancestor’s land.  It doesn’t have anything at all to do with the dilemma I am working on but it is still information that I want to know. 

To find the map do a search for your ancestor on the BLM website.  Click his Accession number in the search list.  Now go to the Related Documents tab and click Surveys.  You will see an icon that says “Plat Image” click that. If you have the QuickTime plugin you will see it on your screen, if not, click Basic Viewer to see it.  You will also see three ways to download, PDF, JP2 and SID.

I am going to download the township/ranges for James (he had property in four) and I am also going to download the surrounding township/ranges since James’ property was right on the border.  I am going to re-plot the parcels.  I don’t mind, it will be a double check that I didn’t make any mistakes.

You can easily do searches for individual sections as well as complete township/ranges on the BLM website.  I will download the names and land descriptions one section at a time. 

The grid is a little smaller which means I am going to have to write tinier.  Jenny told me to make sure I have a sharp pencil.

Public Land Survey System
Metes and Bounds


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What’s up

1) I finally have my Glaentzer One-Name Study posted online. I still have about 100 more births to enter and then I will have all of the German BMD index information entered.  I am sure I have a few duplicates so as soon as I am done with the births I will be looking for any dups.  The website still needs a lot of work but at least I have it up and running.  I still have a long list of record sets to enter but I wanted to get the German BMDs entered first since they are the most important.  I want to thank my friend Christina who is also a Glaentzer/Gläntzer researcher and her help has been invaluable.

2) Legacy has a new Facebook page that has kept me VERY busy.  If you are a Legacy user I encourage you to join.  We already have over 3600 members.  The list is monitored by some of the Legacy staff but it is set up to be a place where users can interact with other users with occasional input from us.  I have been posting quite a bit just to get the group off to a good start.  The nice thing about a Facebook group page is that you can post screenshots. You can see it here: Legacy User Group Facebook Page.

3) I have scaled down my outside genealogical endeavors quite a bit because I have a grandbaby on the way but I still have a pretty full calendar.  I am still lecturing and have quite a few lined up through next July.

4) I will be mentoring a new GenProof Study group starting on 14 Sep 2015.  I am looking forward to it because I had such a great time with the last group.  If you are interested, you can read about it HERE.  There is a link to sign up on that page.  My groups are 8 weeks long and are pretty fast paced.  If you are just beginning to use the Genealogical Proof Standard you might opt for one of the 16 week groups.

5) I am also working on my nemesis brick wall, James Simmons of South Carolina.  I had put James aside for a long time because I was so frustrated with him. If you follow me on Facebook you will know that I recently posted that South Carolina is my least favorite state to do research in and James Simmons would be why.  I am planning a trip to the South Carolina State Archives, the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina, and the South Carolina Historical Society.  I am in the process of going back over everything I have and getting it organized.  I am updating my Research Log so that I have a clear plan of action before I make the trip to Columbia. I want to thank Janis Walker Gilmore for her NGS Research Guide in the the States Series: South Carolina because there was some very useful information in there that I think will help me on my trip.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, August 3, 2015

Why I have been offline

I thought I would explain why I have been taking some time off.  I am working on my One-Name Study because I will be publishing it online soon.  The Guild of One-Name Studies has a pilot project going on where they are hosting web space for One-Name Studies.  I have approximately 800 more vital events I want to get entered into my file and then do a little cleanup before I upload my gedcom.  It takes me approximately 5 minutes to 15 minutes to enter one vital event depending if the person and his parents/spouse are already in my file.  I am also having to learn TNG so that I get a nice looking website.

I will give you the URL of my study as soon as I get it uploaded and I will probably do a blog on the differences between doing “normal” research and doing a One-Name Study.  There are some different research techniques and priorities.

I will write some blog posts soon but since my brain is pretty occupied at the moment I need y’all to send me a few ideas to get me started.  You can email me at


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, July 20, 2015




Yesterday was our 3rd blogiversary and I am celebrating by taking a couple of weeks off.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Friday, July 17, 2015

For those that use BYU’s Relative Finder


If you don’t know what BYU’s Relative Finder is click HERE. Before we go any further, please know that this website is mostly for fun.  If you find a connection to someone that doesn’t mean you are actually related to them. There are many connections errors on FamilySearch so you will need to prove every relationship up the line and then back down to the person you are connected to. 

BYU’s Relative Finder

I have set up a new Group just for the Ancestoring blog readers.  You can see if you are related to me or to any other blog reader that has signed up.

Before you can do this you must have a FamilySearch login.  You also have to have yourself connected in FamilySearch’s Family Tree.

On the top menu bar go to Groups then Join.  Typing in Ancestoring in the Search box. Click Add. Type in the Password which is blog.  Now the group is added to the list of groups you can search. 

Go back to the home page.  Click Relatives on the top menu bar.  You will now see Ancestoring as one of the groups you can select on the left.

If you are related to me, let me know how in the comments.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Yet another reason to join the NGS


If you are a member of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) you can get a free year’s subscription to FindMyPast. How cool is that!  You do not have to enter your credit card number so that is even better. The signup page is HERE. For more reasons to join genealogical societies click HERE.

Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, July 13, 2015

Thank you, ESM


The 3rd edition of Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained has joined my battered 1st edition in my bookcase. You can see that I also have Elizabeth’s first citation book, Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian. I bought Evidence! in 1997 and it completely changed everything. By 1997 I had been researching my family for six years and I had been doing everything wrong. I read the first two chapters, “Fundamentals of Citation” and “Fundamentals of Analysis,” over and over again. I realized that I just didn’t know enough to do quality research. I immediately enrolled in Brigham Young University’s Independent Study Program and I took every genealogy course they had from 1997 through 2001. I quickly learned just how important continuing education is and to this day I take advantage of as many reference books, conferences, classes and webinars that I can.  That is why I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the 3rd Edition of EE. The first two chapters are “Fundamentals of Evidence Analysis” and Fundamentals of Citation.”  If new researchers would read these two chapters they too would have the eye opening experience that I did.

Thanks, Elizabeth, for everything.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis


Friday, July 10, 2015

Legacy: Even more searches

In the blog post Legacy: Searches and more searches I told you about the six different tabs on the main search page.   There are three other types of searches Legacy can do.

Search> Search/Replace
This one is used to fix errors in your file or to change the wording of something.  Because you will be making global changes it is very important that you back up your file before you get started just in case things don’t go the way you planned.

Let’s say I have been using the abbreviation Ev. for Evangelisch and I now want the word spelled out.



And here is what it looks like once you click the Start button:


The Replace All button is a great timesaver but don’t click it unless you are 100% sure something you don’t want changed won’t be.  You can use the Replace button which will let you approve each replacement one at a time.


Search > Search Internet
The other type of search in Legacy is an external one.  This is how you can search websites from within Legacy using the information you have already gathered.  Notice how the information defaults in.


Also notice the dropdown arrow next to  There are 30 websites to choose from and you can add your own using the Customize Searches button.  Make sure you click on the Help button on this screen because you will need to learn how to create the search strings to make it work correctly.

There is one more search, Search > FamilySearch.  This will bring up the screen that directly interfaces with FamilySearch’s Family Tree.  Explaining how this works is more than a single blog post can handle so here is some additional information for you.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Legacy: Searches and more searches

Did you know that there are SIX different search tabs?  Legacy has several built-in searches to make your life easier.

Tab 1 – Query by example
This is a simple fill-in-the blank search form.

I am looking for all male Glaentzers whose first name starts with B, who were born before 1880 in Köln (I don’t have type the rest of the location)

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Tab 2 – Detailed Search
This is the search tab that most people go to when searching.  One thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that you can have as many search criteria you want, not just the three that are on the screen.  The trick is to do your first search using the three search criteria and then Create List.  Then change the search criteria to your next three but this time select ONLY SEARCH THE SEARCH LIST.  You can do this as many times as you need to.  This multi-tiered search is very powerful.  I am looking for every Glaentzer that was was born in Germany and is also on Tag 9.

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Tab 3 – Miscellaneous
This is a fun one.  There are all kinds of great searches here.  Here I am doing a simple search for everyone in my file that has an unknown spouse.

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Tab 4 – Missing Sources
This is a scary tab.  Everyone know how important it is to have a source for every fact in your file.  This tab will help you do that.  I am searching for anyone that does not have a source for the relationship to father and/or the relationship to mother (these are two very overlooked source fields).  Notice the two options at the top, Everything and Anything, as well as the two at the bottom ALL or ONE.

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Tab 5 – Missing Information
This tab isn’t as scary as tab 4.   Here I am searching for missing birth, marriage and death dates.  Why?  So I can go back and estimate these dates based on the information I do have.  It is always good to estimate the dates so that you can do better searches on repository websites.  It also helps you rulle people in and out when you are trying to figure out who could be the parents of whom and whether you are dealing with one person or two people with the same name (it is all about timelines). Again, notice the two options at the bottom ALL or ONE.

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Tab 6 – Census List
This is a great way to systematically go through your file and fill in census information.  The state of Mississippi conducted a statewide census in 1866.  I am looking for everyone in my file that was alive in 1866 and should have been living in the state of Mississippi so that I can check to see if they appear in this census.  I also want to exclude anyone that I have already recorded a 1866 census for (Legacy looks at events and sources to figure this out).  There are checkboxes to narrow the search further but I am going to leave it like this.

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Notice that ALL of the tabs allow you to append your search list and all but the Misc. Search will also allow you to search just the current search list which means you can switch back and forth between the tabs and mix and match your searches.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, July 6, 2015

Legacy: What do all of those numbers mean?

I posted this on the Legacy User Group Facebook page and I didn’t want a good graphic to go to waste so I am posting it here as well.  Do you know what all of the numbers mean in the extreme bottom right corner of the Family view?


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Friday, June 26, 2015

I’m not here

alligator-1395206976QHHPhotograph courtesy of Public Domain Pictures


I’m in Florida so no blog post.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis