Thursday, December 26, 2013


I will be off the blog until January 6th.  I have a lot of things going on with my work and my kids in the next two weeks so I won’t be doing any writing.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my blog readers and their families!  We actually did our Christmas last night because my daughter Kaitlyn and son-in-law Billy will be at his parents today.  We had a great time.  We had a big dinner, opened presents and then played Taboo.  I have to say that I really enjoyed doing this in the evening time instead of the early morning so maybe this will be become a new tradition.  I think that everyone else will just be chillin’ at my house today.  I think a couple of boyfriends (my daughters’) are planning to come over.  We have plenty of leftovers from last night to sustain us for a couple of days.

I won’t be working at Legacy today.  I plan on working on MY family a bit.  This will be the first time since Legacy 8 was released that I have been able to even think about genealogy. I am sure you can imagine how busy it has been.   I received a death certificate in the mail yesterday which got me motivated.  I am working at the hospital for a few hours this afternoon/evening but I have several hours yet to play.  The rest of the family will be at Mt. Tabor Baptist Church tonight for a Christmas service.   I got up early to clean up around here a bit so that I would have a little time for myself.   I can’t help but wonder what Christmas was like for my ancestors.  No doubt it was very different.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

New Year’s resolutions

I thought it was time to start thinking about 2014.  Here are some ideas for genealogical New Year’s resolutions.

1) I will cite my sources
Make sure that every time you add a piece of information to your file that you also add a source. If you get into this habit is will become second nature. You need to follow a style guide so that all of your sources are consistent.

2) I will digitize, transcribe, analyze and file each document as it comes in
Don't let stuff pile up. It is very frustrating when you have to spend days trying to catch up. Nothing is more daunting than a three inch stack of papers.

3) I will use research calendars
Take the time to write down every source you have checked, or plan to check, and the results of the search. It may seem like a lot of work but it will save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run.

4) I will make time for continuing education
One of the best ways to break through a brick wall is to learn about records sets and research techniques that you didn't know about before.

5) I will stay up-to-date with what is going on in the world of genealogy
Simple things like being on mailing lists and Facebook pages so that you know when major repositories are releasing new digital record sets.

6) I will join a genealogical society
Membership dues are reasonable and they have so many things to offer.

7) I will publish my findings
Learn to write up quality case studies and then send them in to your local, state or national journals for consideration. What is the point of all your hard work if not to share that information with others. You can also publish your work on the internet as long as your information is in the correct format and completely sourced. You need to be an example to others.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, December 23, 2013

Social Fixer

This doesn’t have anything to do with genealogy per se but I want to give a shout out to Social Fixer.  In a way it does have something to do with genealogy because having Social Fixer means  I spend a lot less time on Facebook and I don’t accidentally miss things that are posted that are pertinent to my genealogy research or my genealogy business. Social Fixer is a free browser extension that allows you to filter your news feed, hide all of the annoying panels, and it will keep your news feed on most recent.  One of the features I like the most is being able to mark a post as read/mute or read/hide.  If you make it mute it is gone and if you make it as hide it will disappear until someone comments on it.  This means you won’t have to scroll past them again to find things that you haven’t read yet.  As a matter of fact, I never have to scroll at all.  I just mark the post either read/mute or read/hide and then the next one pops up. I can sit there and read everything on the newsfeed without every scrolling.  If I am not mistaken, I think it was Marian Pierre-Louis that first told me about Social Fixer.  I can’t thank her enough for that. 


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Congratulations to Angela Packer McGhie

Congratulations to Angela Packer McGhie who has been named the coordinator for the Intermediate Genealogy and Historical Studies course at Samford University’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR).  Angela is the administrator of the ProGen Study Groups.  So many genealogists have benefited from this program and owe Angela and her staff a big thank you, including me (ProGen 18).  IGHR has picked well.  I am very much looking forward to being at IGHR this coming June.  It will be the first time that I will be attending. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Saturday, December 21, 2013

There is always someone that knows more than you do

No matter how much experience you have and how many classes you have taken a genealogist just can’t know everything there is to know about everything.  I signed up for a new email list today in a specialty area of genealogical research and I posted an intro with a question.  I am already getting responses that are amazing. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book recommendation

Finding Family:  My Search for Roots and the Secrets in my DNA by Richard Hill.

When he was 18 years old, Richard Hill accidentally found out that he was adopted. He embarks on a many year adventure trying to find out who his birth parents were.  He is not a genealogist and this happened in 1964 so it is fascinating to watch the steps that he takes to uncover information.  He runs into some of the same types of roadblocks that we still run into today.  In 1990 he has a DNA test done (I won’t tell you anything about what he found) so he was actually ahead of his time. I couldn’t put the book down.

Richard now runs a wonderful website called DNA Testing Advisor.  This is an excellent resource for adoptees.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The new BCG manual

The Board for Certification of Genealogists is releasing a new edition of its Genealogy Standards Manual in February.  They are taking preorders now.  

Whether or not you have any aspirations of becoming certified this is an EXCELLENT resource for anyone wanting to take their research to the next level. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I am going to cheat today

I am back from Florida.  I wish I could have stayed longer but…

Today’s post is a simple link.   I wrote a Knowledge Base article for Legacy on how to change the Burial label to Cremated, complete with screenshots.  I am still trying to play catch up with doing laundry, cleaning the house, Christmas shopping etc. so I am taking the easy way out with today’s blog post.

Changing the burial label to cremated

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, December 5, 2013

And off I go!


Two of the kids and I are off to Florida on Sunday and won’t be back until December 16th.  I probably won’t post on the Blog again until the 18th.  For you would-be burglars out there, several people are remaining behind so my house will not even be close to empty.  I need some time to get the house in order and do some needed errands so I am signing off the blog a couple of days early.

We are going to Disney for four days and then scooting over to my mother’s house for a few more days.  I will also be spending time with my oldest daughter, her husband and my grandson who also live in Florida which makes me very happy.   I am NOT planning to be like the guy in the photo so if you email me don’t expect an answer anytime soon unless it is truly urgent. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Rejection letter

I really hate when this happens.  I wrote to the Georgia Department of Public Health for a death certificate.  I had the exact date of death so I thought I was in good shape.  Wrong.  I just got the dreaded “Certificate of Death Not on File.”  ARGGGG! 

I have this lady’s obituary and sexton records so I have her date of death, her name at death and her place of death.  She died in 1948 which is well after 1919 when Georgia first required death certificates. 

Well, at least I have a pretty, certified letter. 


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


If you are not sure what a GEDCOM is or why you might use one, you can read about them HERE.  One thing that you need to know about GEDCOMs is that genealogy database programs have advanced faster than the GEDCOM protocol has so your file will probably not transfer 100% intact.  Also, different genealogy programs have different options when importing and exporting GEDCOMs which means some programs handle GEDCOM files better than others.   Here are a few tips to make your GEDCOM transfer less painful.  The tips are pretty generic because every software program is a little different.

Exporting a GEDCOM

  • Clean up your file.  Your data needs to be in a consistent, standardized format.  The GEDCOM protocol was written by the LDS church so it is a good idea to make sure your data matches their standards so that it can “see” your data better.
  • Purge any data that isn’t being used by anyone in your file (things like locations, events, addresses, names).
  • Do any “file maintenance” routines your software has and compact your file as much as possible. If you software allows you to reuse abandoned RINs and MRINs it will compact your file even further.
  • Pay attention to the export options and tailor it to WHY you are exporting to a GEDCOM.


Importing a GEDCOM

  • Import the GEDCOM into a new file.  Do not import it directly into your working file.
  • Pay attention to the import options.  The options you chose will greatly affect how the data comes over.
  • Once you have the GEDCOM imported and converted to your file format, do the same cleanup process that is described above in the Exporting section.
  • Once you have the file cleaned up, you can work on merging the information into your working file if that is what you want to do (that is another subject entirely).  How you do this depends greatly on what genealogy software program you are using.


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, December 2, 2013

Don’t forget your recent relatives

Blog reader Barbara Garza wrote in asking for some advice about how to extract/record information from a New York firefighters service record and from a New York policeman’s service record.  She sent the records for me to look at and they were just priceless!  The policeman’s record included a photo of him in his uniform.  Barbara then made a profound statement:

“The Gancis are a family of heroes, fireman and military, even my generation. I put them right in there with the nurses and paramedics as far as taking care of people. Since I knew him well and he died recently (9/11) I did not think about researching him this way but his sister works with me and mentioned getting this file for him, also. So stuck on the long deceased I forget about the recent ones. 

We get so caught up with trying to get as far back in time as we can that we forget to document the lives of our more recent ancestors.  I am talking about deceased people here, not living ones. Privacy issues and all that.


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The proof is in the signatures

Remember how I told you that my friend Christina in Germany and I are working to find out how our two lines are connected?  Her family is Gläntzer (umlaut) and my family is Glaentzer (no umlaut).  The theory is that the common ancestor for us is Carl Friedrich Glaentzer (my 3rd great-grandfather).  Christina noticed something interesting with the signatures of Carl’s son Josef Glaentzer (my 2nd great-grandfather).  These signatures are from the birth certificates of 4 of his children.

Look Michele,
This is interesting: 4 signatures from 4 different years by Josef Glaentzer. The spelling of his signature varies.








Digital images copyright © 2013 Christina Gläntzer, used with permission


You bet it is interesting!  This is the first example that we have seen of one man writing his name both with and without an umlaut.  I think we are getting closer to the connection.


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Saturday, November 30, 2013

I am 29 again!

Look what message Legacy had for me this morning.


One of the things I like about Legacy is that I can make it say that I am only 29 years old (and no, I don’t have a credible source for that fact).

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, November 29, 2013

Jefferson County, Georgia

We spent Thanksgiving at one of my son-in-law’s grandparents’ house just outside of Wadley in Jefferson County, Georgia.  Jefferson County is mostly rural farmland.  I really didn’t expect Jefferson County to be too interesting history-wise but I was pretty wrong on that.  Take a look at this:

“Jefferson County, originally part of Burke and Warren counties, was created in 1796 and named for Thomas Jefferson. Wadley was originally known as "Shakerag".  The name was changed to Wadley in the 1870s in honor of the president of the Central of Georgia Railway. The name change coincided with the designation of Wadley as an official stop on the railroad.

Louisville, the county seat, was named in honor of King Louis XVI of France, because of the support given by France to the Colonials in the Revolution. Louisville was Georgia's third state capital, but its first "permanent" one. The Jefferson County Courthouse, built in 1904, stands on the site of Georgia's first permanent capitol, constructed in 1795.

Louisville was the site of the Constitutional Convention of 1798 in which the state's pre-Civil War constitution was adopted. Georgia's Great Seal, which is still in use today, was adopted at the same time.

The Old Market House, the county's major tourist attraction, dates to the 1790s and served as the commercial center for the region during the time that the state capital was in Louisville.

Jefferson County is the site of multiple festivals including the Buzzard Blast in Louisville in (April), Hometown Fest in Wadley (August), Pig Pickin' Festival in Wrens (June), and Spier's Turnout Festival in Bartow (May).” 1

I was tipped off that there might be an interesting story when I noticed that the Louisville water tower had “Georgia’s First Capital” written on it.  Being the curious historian that I am I got on the internet as soon as I got home to check it out.  Of course you know that I will just have to go to the Buzzard Blast next April.

1 Jefferson County Government Webpage, County History


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!


Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. (KJV)

Lasset uns mit Danken vor sein Angesicht kommen und mit Psalmen ihm jauchzen! Denn der HERR ist ein großer Gott und ein großer König über alle Götter. (LB)

Psalm 95:2-3

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Switching gears

I am switching genealogical gears big time.  One-half of my tree is German.  I was born in Germany as was my mother and all of her ancestors.  I have done some research on this side but it is hard since I live in the United States. I have been able to get records from microfilm and my mother picked a few up for me the last time she was in Germany.  I am lucky in that I do speak German and I can read the old German script so once I have my hands on the records I do just fine.  If I need any help at all I have my mother and my friend Christina. 

I haven’t worked on my German lines in some time but now I am immersing myself in my German side for a couple of reasons.  One, the Köln Archives have put some of their births, marriages and deaths online.  They are not indexed or searchable but that is okay.  Just having them available in any format is a great thing.  Two, my friend Christina in Germany sent me seventeen documents that she found while doing research on her family that pertain to my family.  My family is Glaentzer (no umlaut) and her family is Gläntzer (with an umlaut).  Either way you spell it, it is a very uncommon name in Germany and we know that our families must be connected. 

Y’all know that I am in the middle of scanning and reanalyzing all my documents.  This little genealogical side trip to Germany comes at the perfect time because I will go ahead and do all of my German documents now.  Once I have all of the documents in my possession under control I can start searching through the records at the Köln Archives for more. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013


Dear Myrtle apparently read my Conflicting Evidence blog post and noticed that I said, “The second theory is that it was a simple typo by the clerk”  (speaking of how the county clerk had written (hand written) the bride’s name differently in two places on the form).  So Dear Myrtle, AKA Pat Richley-Erickson, posted this on Facebook:

“Is there such a thing as a "typo" in a handwritten document?”

Carol Yates Wilkerson, “Now that just [sic]”

Sue Clifford Maxwell, “Have you read some posts that have mistakes because their fingers can't keep up with their brain? Well, I'm one who can't write at a speed to keep up with my brain so I have handwritten typo's all the time!”

Nathan W. Murphy, “Handpo?”

Michael John Neill, “A writo”

Barbara Van Heel, “A scriptographical error?”

Michael John Neill, “For things written with a pencil, a ‘leado’ For things written with a pen, an ‘inko.’”

Paula Johnson Hinkel, “When I mistake one word for another, it's a ‘wordo’ and I do it all the time.”

ShareOurGarden, “Well typo is better than ‘booboo.’”

Sue McCormick, “I write ‘b’ for ‘p’ and vice versa ALL the time! (You should see whay [sic, not sure if this was on purpose or not] probably can look like!) Are these ‘letteros’?”

I only quoted the jolly jokers (the ones that made me wheeze). 


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Something to watch out for

Isn’t it exciting when you find a grave marker that has a full name, full date of birth and full date of death!  Of course you know that this information is always a little suspect because you normally don’t have any way of knowing who the informant was unless you have some really good Sexton records.  There is something else you need to be watching out for when you are looking at grave markers and that is, does the type of marker/condition of the marker match the date of death? 

It is very common for markers to be erected long after a person died.  The more time that has passed from the time the person the person died to when the grave marker was carved makes the information more suspect.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t correct.  The person that gave the information might well have had a credible source such as a family Bible but there is usually no way to know this.  When you see a modern marker for someone that died a very long time ago your radar should go up.  You should definitely make a note of this in your file.  You need to show that you are aware of it and that you have considered it.  This is one reason that it is really good to have a photo of the marker and not rely on a transcription alone.  Here is an example:

Watts, Almeda 1881Copyright © 2009 Gene Phillips, used with permission


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A spinoff from A Few Legacy Shortcuts

The A few Legacy shortcuts article turned out to be one of the most popular blog posts that I have written based on the number of page hits, shares and emails I have had.  I thought I would do a spinoff post detailing the customizations that are available to you in Legacy.  If you are not a Legacy user, this post is still of use to you.  You can dig into your program and see what customizations are available and then compare it to what Legacy has to offer.

Legacy is very customizable.  You can tell Legacy exactly how you want things to be formatted and displayed.  To get the customizations menu, select Options then Customize on the main toolbar.  I am going to screenshot all 12 tabs so that you can see every option available and you can see how I have my own version of Legacy set up.  All of the screenshots are from Legacy 7.5.  The Legacy 8.0 menus look different and there are more options but the principles are the same. You need to work your way through each screen to get things set up the way you like.

Here is the first screen, the General tab.  If you are not sure what a specific selection means you can always click the Help button at the bottom of the screen.  If you want to go back to the Legacy defaults and start over, there is a Reset to Defaults button, also at the bottom.  I have Legacy set up so that when I start it up it automatically goes to the Family view of the last family I was working in the last file I was working on.  I use tagging extensively so I have that turned on.   I have all of the pop boxes turned off.  I am not LDS so I have the LDS options turned off but I do use FamilySearch’s Family Tree so I have that option turned on.



The next tab is Data Entry.  I want Legacy to tell me when I am entering something new because I am very capable of making entry mistakes so that is why Verify NEW names, locations, and events is checked.  This saves me grief later on.  I also want it to check for problems and verify counties.  Checking the box that has Legacy automatically add the father’s surname to the children saves me some time.  Most of the time this will be the correct surname for the children.  I have changed the default ages a bit for when Legacy declares someone dead.  The entry at the bottom allows me to search a woman by her married name in the index view or name list.  This is really helpful when you remember that your 2nd great uncle Ike Simmons married a lady named Mary but you can’t remember her maiden name.  You have to also turn this on in the Name List view so that these names are displayed for you to see.  The rest of the entries are just preferences on how you want to move between fields. You can decide what you would like after clicking Help at the bottom.

data entry


The next screenshot shows the Data Format tab. On the options that have to do with letter case I have opted to have Legacy just accept what I type because I have quite a few mixed case names and locations, however, this means that I need to really pay attention to what I am entering because Legacy will not warn me if I don’t capitalize something that I should.  I like to have my direct line ancestors in bold type so that I can navigate my file quickly.  I also like to have living individuals highlighted (mine are in red) so that I can see if I have someone alive that really should be dead.  (There is also a feature in Legacy call “Advanced Set Living” where you can have Legacy go through your file and mark people as deceased even if you haven’t entered a death date.  Legacy analyzes the data that you have inputted as well as the data for the person’s parents and children).  I like Legacy to show me a small indicator when I have excluded someone from the potential problem list so I have checked that.

data format


Here is the Data Defaults tab.  The Living Indicator default is for when you are entering new people in your file.  I have it set so that they will be marked as living unless I tell Legacy otherwise.  I use the research notes tab more than I use the general notes so that is why I have it set to open up the last note type used.  I like to enter my newest info at the top of my notes so I have the cursor defaulting to that location.  If you reuse abandoned RINs that will help keep your file compacted.  You can also do this manually (global) by going to Tools > Renumber RINs.  If you use RINs as part of your paper recording keeping system, you need to uncheck this box.  The Quick Entry Character Ribbon is important to me because I enter a lot of German names and locations.  I have the ribbon set up with the umlauts that I need.  You can store up to 8 characters on this ribbon.  It will be available to you on any screen where you can enter data.

data defaults


The Dates tab is just personal preferences.  I like to have my dates written out completely. A nice thing about the customization screens is you can change your preferences and try them out.  If you don’t like them you can go back and change them to something else and the changes will be global.  This is the screen where you will turn double dating on or off.  I do have the date checking turned on because I make mistakes entering data. If I type in something odd, it will ask me about it.



I leave all the settings on the Locations tab as the defaults.  I do keep my family files in the Data folder as shown but I do not have my pictures and documents in the below listed locations.  I have my own file structure within My Documents.  Legacy is perfectly okay with you storing your pictures and such elsewhere.  The one warning I will give you is don’t make your file structure too deep (folders inside other folders which are inside folders that are inside other folders.  If so, you will have problems when you backup your multimedia files.



I leave the Sources tab pretty generic because I will further define how I want sources to print on the individual reports options menus.



The View tab has lots of goodies on it.  I like to see the birth and death everywhere so that I don’t get confused between people with the same name.  I the RINs displayed only because I think they look cool.  I don’t really use them other than when I am merging people.  It is a quick way to pull people up.  I don’t display the FamilySearch IDs this way because I actually have them displayed as part of the Family View (I customized the labels).  I do have the Ancestor Colors turned on, again, only because it looks cool.  I don’t use the 4 color system for my paper files.  I do use it though when I generate charts using Legacy Charting because I like to see the 4 separate lines.  I don’t use short locations on my screens though I do use them in reports (you can turn this on in the report options for each report).  I have my child columns set at 3 because a lot of my family is from Mississippi and they had big families there.  I don’t like to scroll to see all of the children.  3 columns will let you see 15 children before you have to start scrolling.   The next screenshot will show you what you see when you click the Edit Default Marriage Wording button.



This screen is self explanatory. You can change the wordings and I have  I have tweaked them a bit to my liking.

default marriage 


When you select the Colors tab you will see this big button.  The next screenshot will show you what you will see when you click that big button.



What you are seeing are the color defaults.  My colors box normally doesn’t look like this at all.  I recently reset everything because I was helping a Legacy user with their customizations.  It is easier for me to talk someone through something if I am doing it on my screen at the same time.  I just haven’t gotten around to redoing my colors yet.  Everything on this screen can be clicked and changed.  You can do some pretty wild things with your colors.  There are a few built in color themes that you can use as a starting point if you wish.  I take my colors pretty serious so it takes me some time to get things exactly like I want them.  Diane Gould Hall wrote a GREAT blog post on how to change your background to an image instead of just a color on her Tuesday Tips – How to Change the Background on Your Legacy Screen.



I also play around with my fonts on the Fonts tab but these too are currently displaying the defaults because I reset everything. 



Here is the Launch tab.  I leave everything here as the defaults. 



The Other tab has some important stuff on it.  Two things in particular I want to point out.  The first is the Geo Location Database, Database Maintenance button.  If you ever need to download another Geo Location database (for another region) you would Download Geo Database Region Files from the Legacy website.  After the download, you will need to finish the process on this screen.  The full instructions are on the above link.

The other thing I want to point out is the Turn on or off Optional Reminder Messages.  This screen will help you customize Legacy to work for you.   The newer you are to genealogy and to Legacy, the more things you need to have checked here.  There are three screens of options.  I am going to show you how I have mine set up but I am neither new to genealogy nor to Legacy so I have most of the reminders turned of.  The next 3 screenshots will be the three screens you will see when you click on that button.












I have shown you the general customization screens but there are also other areas in Legacy that have their own customization menus, most notably the reports menu and the charting menu. 


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, November 22, 2013

Conflicting evidence

This one is a bit different because the conflicting evidence is on a single document.

Garraway, William and Sarah Burt marriage certificate 1887

The above marriage document from Marion County, Mississippi shows that W. A. Garraway and W. L. Simmons posted a marriage bond on 22 March 1887.  The bond was for the impending marriage  of W. A. Garraway and Sarah J. Burt.

On that same date a marriage license was issued to W. A. Garraway and Miss Sarah J. Simmons.  The certificate portion was not completed.

William A. Garraway married Sarah Jane Burt, daughter of Christopher Burt and Almeda Watts.  I have several records to support this, no problem there. 

The question is, why is she referred to as Miss Sarah J. Simmons?  Who was W. L. Simmons that posted her bond?  My first guess was that Sarah had married someone name Simmons before marrying William and that person died shortly after their marriage.  There are a couple of problems with this theory. Sarah was only 16 when she married William so there isn’t much room for another marriage in there and the Marion County Circuit Court clerk can’t find a previous marriage for Sarah, at least not in Marion County.  She is also identified as Miss which puts her in the first marriage category.

The second theory is that it was a simple typo by the clerk.  The bondsman was W. L. Simmons and the clerk could have easily just wrote Simmons in as her surname.  That would be pretty careless though considering that the clerk had already written her name as Sarah J. Burt.  This leads us back to who was W. L. Simmons and why was he posting the bond?

Both of Sarah’s parents were dead by the time she married.  It wasn’t any of her brothers that posted the bond so how about a brother-in-law?  Older sister Serena married Colon J. Simmons.  Colon’s father was William Simmons.  (W. L.?).  One thing that leads me in this direction is that this particular William Simmons just might be the type to sign a marriage bond.  Why?  He was the sheriff.  He was a well-respected member of the community and a public servant.  The only thing is, I have never seen his name as W. L.  I have him as William Simmons or W. Simmons. 

I will be doing more research on this.  The whole point of this post is to tell you that when you have conflicting evidence you have to reconcile it.  I can’t just leave things they way they are.  I have to try and figure it out. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, November 21, 2013

This is a new one on me

One of my daughters is a music major.  Today she tells me that one of her professors can trace himself back to Beethoven.  I was seriously impressed and said, “Really? Beethoven is his direct line ancestor?”  (I didn’t know Beethoven didn’t have any kids but that is beside the point).  She started laughing and she said that music professors do genealogy a bit differently than the rest of us. They trace their TEACHERS back in time all the way to the great composers which means her professor’s 5th great grand-teacher was Beethoven.  (I made up the number, I have no clue).  I just thought this was the funniest thing.  Apparently music professors take this very seriously.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

You never know until you ask

I have a lady that was in the Arizona State Hospital.  She died there 66 years ago.  I just wrote a letter to them asking for her medical records.  The hospital still exists.  I have no idea what Arizona’s privacy laws are and who can have access to what.  Some states never allow access, some states allow access to certain people and some states allow access after a certain number of years.  At this point I don’t know where Arizona stands.  If you know the answer to that question don’t tell me unless it is good news. I don’t want my hopes dashed yet.  I need time to come up with a plan B. 

Emma was in the hospital for at least 27 years. She is there for the 1910 census and she died there in 1937  Her life is such a mystery to me.  She was born in Mississippi in 1874.  By 1902 she was getting married in California.  How did she end up there?  I am now looking for a previous marriage that might have taken her to California.  She and her known husband moved to Arizona and she ends up in the state insane asylum.

This is one of those stories that I just want to know.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How I use the Social Security Death Index

This post was sparked by a question I read on one of the genealogy group pages on Facebook.  In a nutshell, the question and comments were centered around how to copy and paste, or screenshot, the SSDI information on a person and add it to your file.

I don’t use the SSDI as a source because it is an index.  However, I do want record that I checked the SSDI and that I used this information to find sources to verify the information.  I will show you how I do that in just a minute.   Someone then commented that she couldn’t order SS-5s on everyone she found in the SSDI.  I agree wholeheartedly.  They cost $27 a piece.  The only reason I ever order an SS-5 is if I have exhausted every other means I can to determine someone’s parents.  I don’t need the SS-5 for any other reason.  The SS-5 does not provide any death information at all so you certainly wouldn’t order it for that.  If you want to see what is actually on an SS-5 then click any of the SS-5 hyperlinks in this paragraph.

So how do I add the SSDI to my file if I am not adding the information found and I am not using it as a source?  It will be recorded within a To-Do task and it will became part of my permanent research log.  Here are some screenshot examples.  These screenshots are from Legacy but most of the top genealogy programs have built in research logs so the principle is the same.   I will be using my great-grandfather as an example.  I don’t have any active examples right now so I will just use him to show you how I would enter everything.

Here is what I found in the SSDI:

GBScreenshot from GenealogyBank


And this is what I entered into Legacy’s To-Do List:

Screenshot from Legacy 8.0


FAGScreenshot from Legacy 8.0

Would I order Walter’s SS-5?  No I wouldn’t.  I have multiple pieces evidence that establishes his parents as John Judson Perry and Francis Lyons.  I would only order the SS-5 if I didn’t know who is parents were or if I had some conflict in the evidence that I have.  The SS-5 is a great source for parents because the informant is the child.  However, in this case I simply don’t need it.

The To-Do tasks become a permanent part of my research log.  I can follow the trail of how I uncovered things using the research log. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, November 18, 2013

A few Legacy shortcuts

On 16 Nov 2013 I talked about how important it is to know what your genealogy software is capable of.  I mentioned that there might be some built in shortcuts that will save you time.   This post is for Legacy users specifically.  Even thought these tips are in the Help file, many people overlook them.  This post comes directly from the Help file. 

Tips and Tricks

Legacy is a very full-featured program that has lots of little features and convenience options that may not be obvious when you first start using it. Some of these may even escape your detection completely although most are documented somewhere in the help file. Although these features are not essential to the successful operation of the program, you will find that they greatly enhance your effectiveness and efficiency and make for a very enjoyable experience while you work.

You might want to reread this section from time to time as you become more familiar with Legacy. Each time you do, you are likely to pick up and remember new capabilities that you never knew were there.


Family View Tips


1  Clicking in the space between the Husb and Wife displays the next sibling of the current person (whoever is highlighted).

2  Clicking in margin to the left of the Husb switches to his next spouse.

3  Clicking in margin to the right of the Wife switches to her next spouse.

4  Clicking to the left or right of the Child List box moves the Preferred child (usually direct-line) up to the main Husb/Wife position.

5  Clicking here switches to the next set of Parents (when the Husband or Wife have two or more sets linked to them).

6  Right-clicking on the relationship text lets you set the text color and background color of the relationship wording. If you are using a textured background for the Family View, you can set the relationship text background to transparent.

7  Right-clicking in any of these three areas sets a Quick Bookmark for the current couple (Husb and Wife). Subsequent left-clicking on one of these names jumps to that person no matter where you are in the family file. To clear a Quick Bookmark, hold down the Ctrl key while you right-click the name.


More Family View Tips


1  Right-clicking on the background between the Parents box displays a shortcut menu where you can change the color scheme of Legacy.

2  Right-clicking on any of the tag boxes brings up the Advanced Tagging window where you can tag ancestor and descendant lines and more.

3  If the Siblings button has a small red dot in the upper-right corner, icon1 it means that there are half-siblings existing for this person.

4  This is the Bookmark button. To set a bookmark on a couple, make sure they are highlighted and then right-click this button. Clicking this button displays the Bookmark list where you can then jump to anyone on the list.

5  If the Husband or Wife label is colored red, it means that the person is marked as Living.

6  Clicking on a picture opens a Zoom window so you can see it enlarged.

7  If the To-Do icon has an "O" on it, icon2 there are Open research or correspondence items existing for this person.


Descendant View Tips


1  Clicking anywhere on the column headers brings up the Customize Descendant View Columns screen where you can select the information you want to display on the Descendant View. You can also rearrange the column order.

2  Double-clicking on any person moves them up to the top of the chart and redraws the descendant chart.

3  If a highlighted descend was married more than once, you can click the m+ button to view a list of the spouses.

4  The Options button lets you customize the number of individuals and generations in the chart.

5  Clicking on Go To Father or Go To Mother jumps to the father or mother of the highlighted descendant.

6  Birth, marriage, and death information is shown for the highlighted person.


Pedigree View Tips


1  Right-clicking on the background brings up a shortcut menu

where you can change the display from 4 generations to 5 generations. You can also change the color scheme of the screen or tile a picture in the background.

2  Double-clicking a name moves that person over to the main position at the head of the pedigree chart. (Single-clicking a name highlights the name and changes the Spouse/Children and Siblings/Information lists to that person.)

3  Right-clicking on the toolbar brings up the Customize Toolbar window where you can choose the tools you want to use and their order.

4  Clicking on either the Husband's or the Wife's RIN number prompts you for a new number to jump to. (Clicking on the MRIN number prompts for a new marriage record to jump to.)

5  This is the Last Modified date for the Husb, Wife, or Marriage. Clicking on the date displays the Last Modified screen showing you when the records were first entered, when they were last modified and whether or not they were imported into the family file.


Chronology View Tips


1  You can highlight and copy any information from this view and paste it into e-mail messages or other documents. Because this is a Rich Text view, any formatting is retained.

2  Clicking Edit brings up the Information screen for the individual where you can add or change information and events.

3  Clicking Print sends the Chronology View to your printer.

4  Clicking Options lets you select what to display on the Chronology View and the Chronology Report.

5  Clicking Report allows you to format and print a Chronology report with a Timeline and Age column. This report will print in color if your printer supports it.

6  Clicking Save lets you save the Chronology View as a Rich Text Format file that you can send to other people.


Index View Tips


1  Clicking anywhere on the column headers brings up the Customize Index View Columns screen where you can select the information you want to display on the Index View. You can also rearrange the column order.

2  Right-clicking on a person's name displays a shortcut menu where you can choose to edit information about the person or his or her marriage(s), add surrounding relatives, and much more.

3  If you search for a RIN (or User ID) by typing the number in the RIN field, the Index List is automatically re-sorted by RIN number. If you search for a Given Name, it is sorted by given name. If you search for a surname by typing in the Surname field, the list is sorted by surname.

4  Clicking Options allows you to include Alternate Names in the list, as well as change the sort order and font size of the list.

5  Double-clicking a name brings up the Information screen for that person.

6  You can drag the splitter bar to the right to create multiple panes. (Only available if there is a horizontal scrollbar.)


Information Screen Tips


1  Clicking on a field label, repeats the contents of the field from the last record saved. (This is the same as clicking Repeat or pressing Ctrl-R.)

2  If there are notes for a location name, the icon3 button changes to icon4.

3  This number shows how many years ago the person was born. You can toggle this number off and on by right-clicking the value.

4  Clicking  lets you add an address, notes, and pictures to the event. When these are present, the Plus Sign turns from gray to blue.  Clicking  opens the Geo Location Database for worldwide place lookups.

5  These numbers indicate the age that the event happened.

6  Right-clicking on any of the tag boxes brings up the Advanced Tagging window where you can tag ancestor and descendant lines and more.

7  Check this button when you have confirmed that any unusual information, such as having been born when the parents were very young (or very old), is correct to exclude this record from any further inclusion in a Potential Problems report.

8  Right-clicking the Source Clipboard button displays a list of any saved clipboards so you can quick load different configurations.  Left clicking displays the contents of the clipboard and lets you change it.


Name List Tips


1  Clicking any of the letter buttons takes you to the first name beginning with that letter in the Name List.

2  The Source Clipboard is available when you are entering or editing information on the various tab views.

3  Males names are blue, female names are black. To select a name, highlight it and then click Select. (Or double-click the name.)  The gender colors can be changed in the Customize section.

4  If you search for a RIN (or User ID) by typing the number in the RIN field, the Index List is automatically re-sorted by RIN number. If you search for a Given Name, it is sorted by given name. If you search for a surname by typing in the Surname field, the list is sorted by surname.

5  Clicking Print allows you to print a list report containing the names on the list.

6  There are eight tabs that can be selected allowing you to view and edit all the information associated with the current individual. Tips on most of the tabs are included on the following pages.


Detail Tab


1  Right-click the detail labels to customize them to any other pieces of information.

2  Clicking on any name on the 3-generation pedigree chart jumps to that person in the Name List.

3  Clicking the Picture icon displays the Picture Gallery.


Edit Tab


1  Clicking on the field labels repeats from the last record saved.

2  Clicking AKA lets you record alternate names.

3  How many years ago the person was born

4  The age at the time of the event.


Sources Tab


1  Double-clicking on a source citation pops up  the Edit Source screen.

2  Clicking the  button copies the highlighted source citation to the Source Clipboard.

3  Unchecking the checkbox changes the list to only those events with a source citation.


LDS tab


1  Clicking on the field labels repeats from the last record saved.

2  Clicking Parents lets you switch to a different set.

3  The down arrow displays a complete list of temples.


Print Preview Tips


 1  Clicking on the top margin moves back one page. Right-clicking moves all the way back to page 1.

 2  You can use the Table of Contents list to quickly move to different sections and generations within the report, including the index and source endnotes.

 3  Clicking the left margin moves back one page.

 4  Clicking the bottom margin moves forward one page. Right-clicking moves all the way to the last page of the report.

5  The Create PDF button is used to create a PDF file of the entire report that can be easily e-mailed to other people.

6  Clicking in this area (below the PDF button) moves forward one page. Right-clicking moves back one page.


Address Screen Tips


 1  Clicking on a field label repeats the field contents from the last address saved. This is the same as clicking the Repeat button.

 2  The Character Ribbon can be used to enter characters not found on your keyboard. (Click the small blue button to select the characters for the ribbon.)

 3  Right-clicking on the Repeat button repeats all the fields from the last address saved.

 4  You can assign an address to one or more mailing lists so you can print reports or address labels for a specific group.

 5  Select the Private checkbox to exclude this address from various reports.

 6  Clicking the Calculator icon brings up the Distance and Bearing Calculator where you can convert decimal latitude and longitude values to the required degrees, minutes and seconds. You can also figure the distance and direction between any two points on earth.


Master Location List Tips


1  You can highlight blocks of lines by first clicking the top line and then pressing and holding down the Shift key on your keyboard while you click the bottom line in the block.

2  You can add non-contiguous lines by holding down the Ctrl key on your keyboard and clicking the desired additional lines. (After using the Ctrl key you cannot use the Shift key again in the same selection.)

3  The Short Location Name is displayed here whenever you highlight the Long Location Name in the list. Short names can be used on reports with tight space restrictions.

4  Clicking Edit lets you add a short location name, notes and latitude / longitude information to the currently highlighted place.

5  You can quickly combine variations of the same place into one location.

6  Clicking Options lets you delete, tag, combine duplicates, purge unused locations, import location lists from other family files, print the list or map, and more.

7  You can add pictures, sounds, videos, and documents to any location.

8  You can edit the individuals who are using a location.

9  You can highlight two different locations in the list, click the Globe button and then choose Distance and Bearing Calculator to figure the distance and direction between the two places.

10  The Sort button lets you view the list in various sorted orders, often making it easier to see variations of a location that are really the same place.


Marriage Information Tips


 1  Right-clicking the Source Clipboard button displays a list of any saved clipboards so you can quick load different configurations.  Left-clicking lets you see the current contents of the clipboard, if any.

 2  Clicking on a field label repeats the field contents from the last marriage record saved. This is the same as clicking Repeat.

 3  The Character Ribbon can be used to enter characters not found on your keyboard. (Click the small blue button to select the characters for the ribbon.)

 4  Shows the ages at which the couple got married.

 5  You can change the labels used on the screen displays and on reports. Titles such as Father and Mother might be more appropriate in certain cases.

 6  Right-clicking on any of the tag boxes brings up the Advanced Tagging window where you can tag ancestor and descendant lines.

 7  You can change the order of the marriage events by highlighting the event you want to move and then moving it by using the up and down Set Order arrows.


Picture Gallery Tips


 1  The asterisk (*) indicates the Preferred picture that is displayed on the screen and printed on reports. (You can also print scrapbook reports including all the pictures from an individual.)

 2  Right-clicking on a picture displays a shortcut menu where you can cut, copy, paste, set preferred, and edit.

 3  You can change the order of the pictures using drag and drop.

 4  You can tag one or more pictures to indicate which ones you want to include in slide shows and on scrapbook reports.

 5  Clicking the Asterisk button sets the current picture as Preferred.

 6  You can scan pictures directly from Legacy, attaching them to the current individual.

 7  You can choose which event pictures to show in the Picture Gallery.

 8  You can select the number of pictures to show at one time on this form. (1 to 20.)


Other Tips

 1  GEDCOM File Import: When you are importing a large file that takes a long time to get through the Analyze phase, you can click in the icon5 checkbox while the file is being analyzed to have Legacy automatically start the actual import after the analysis is complete. If there are any problems found during the analysis phase, the AutoStart command is canceled so you can view the report of problems found.

 2  Memorizing Fields: If you find that you are using the same name, date, or location often while adding information to your family file, you can memorize these entries and play them back when you need them. To memorize a field, make sure the cursor is anywhere within the field and press Shift-F9. To play back the value, place the cursor in the desired field and press F9. Shift F11 and F11 work the same way, as do Shift-F12 and F12. This lets you memorize three different fields.

 3  LDS Ordinance screen: You can quickly repeat a date / temple name combination from the previously saved ordinance record by clicking on any of the fields labels.

 4  Master Location List: If you want to blank out a certain location everywhere it is used in your family file, you can do so by highlighting the location in the Master Location List, clicking the Combine the Highlighted Location with Another Location in the List button at the bottom, then scrolling all the way to the top of the list, highlighting the blank record line in the top position and clicking the button again which now reads: Highlight Destination Location Then Click This Button. Legacy asks for confirmation that you actually intend to blank out the location name, after which it does so with your permission. (This technique can also be used with Marriage and Child Status'.)


Copyright © 2013 Legacy Family Tree and Michele Simmons Lewis