Thursday, December 25, 2014

Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Ich wünsche euch ein gesegnetes Weihnachtsfest!

1622Gerard_van_HonthorstAnbetung der Hirten, Gerard van Honthorst, 1622, im Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Köln untergebracht.

Use Google Translate if need be.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

More on the Genealogy Do-Over


If you have no idea what I am talking about you can read about it HERE.  I wanted to post a bit of an update because Thomas MacEntee has now set up a Facebook Group Page for the participants.  You can sign up HERE.  When I wrote this blog post over 500 people had already joined the Facebook page.  You do not have to be on Facebook to participate in the Genealogy Do-Over but it is a great way for the participants to communicate.  I don’t see a group set up on Google+ yet but if you do a search you will see a lot of people are already posting about it.  Everyone sounds so pumped up and enthusiastic!  I think it is a great idea and I am behind Thomas 100%


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Start the New Year off right

Thomas MacEntee has put together a GREAT program for the New Year, the Genealogy Do-Over.  This is your chance to start anew and get your research in tip top shape.  The program starts on 02 Jan 2015.  Here is a synopsis from Thomas’ site:

The Genealogy Do-Over journey is constructed of 13 mileposts or journey markers which are laid out over 13 weeks. You can choose to pace yourself differently. You can even decide to drop some of the less important tasks and add your own. Do whatever it takes to ensure that you are on a firm footing to finding your ancestors.

A short synopsis of my planned route (a full schedule will be announced soon):

  • Take inventory of what I have, box up the physical items and set them aside.
  • Move all digital genealogy files into a HOLD folder.
  • Gather tools to research.
  • Set research goals.
  • Start with my own knowledge and write it down.
  • Start tracking research.
  • Interview family members.
  • And more!

The fact is that there is no cost to using the Genealogy Do-Over program. There will be weekly blog posts here at GeneaBloggers outlining each week’s tasks and I’ll post my own personal progress as well. In addition, there will be free webinars (like this one at Legacy Family Tree), a boot camp on using a research log, and even incentives such as prizes related to a specific week’s topic.

This is an opportunity you don’t want to pass up.  We always do better when there are others right there with us cheering us on.  Please click the link at the top of this post for more information. 


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

You never know until you ask

I emailed a city cemetery in Germany and asked if they would be willing to photograph a marker for me since I live in the United States.  They said they would be more than happy to.  How is that for nice. 

This is my great-uncle Josef.  He was a policeman and he had a cool police dog.  I remember him being very kind to me when I was a little girl. 

Glaentzer, Josef 1998Photograph Copyright © 2014 Andrea Hansch, used with permission.


Hier ist ein Foto von meinem Onkel Josef und Tante Else.

Glaentzer, Josef and Else 01


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, December 8, 2014

The 2015 Legacy Family Tree Webinars schedule is out

Legacy Family Tree Webinars are FREE to watch live and for one week after the live presentation.  After that they are only available to Legacy Webinar subscribers.  Subscribers can access any of the webinars at any time and also have the added bonus of the handout materials.  This year there will be a couple of subscriber only webinars as an extra incentive to sign up for a membership.

2015 Legacy Webinar Schedule

Geoff normally sneaks in a few more surprise webinars during the year so you definitely want to check the above page often.  When you register for a webinar, you will get an email that has the information you need to be able to connect to the webinar.  If you are a webinar subscriber, you can register for multiple webinars at the same time.

This is a continuing education opportunity that you just don’t want to miss. Geoff has the top speakers lined up and the topics you have expressed interest in will be featured.

From now until the first of the year I will be posting a bit sporadically.  I have projects due by the end of the year not to mention all of the normal Christmas stuff going on.  I do have some cool updates to share regarding the German research I have been telling you about but there is still more info coming in so I will wait on that a bit.  

I talked my mother into doing a DNA test.  She mentioned it to some of her friends and several of them said that they had already taken DNA tests!  That made her feel much better about it.  If I do need to get a DNA test from one of my relatives in Germany hopefully my mother will be able to convince them. 

I have told you about The Organized Genealogist and the Technology for Genealogy Facebook Groups before but now I want to tell you about two more.  A lot of you use Evernote or OneNote to help stay organized and there are now Facebook group pages for both of these, Evernote Genealogists and OneNote for Genealogy.  These groups are a great place to share ideas and ask questions.

This Thursday is the last meeting of the year for the Columbia County [GA] Genealogical Society.  Each person will be reading their letter to Santa with their top three genealogical wishes.  We will then have an exchange of presents and refreshments.  I would encourage you to join a local genealogical and/or historical society for one of your New Year’s resolutions.  Our group is really special.  We have a dedicated group of members and every month we have some sort of interesting program.  Genealogical societies used to be much more popular.  Now that so much is available on the internet people don’t think these societies have any value.  Those people are wrong.  Nothing beats fellowshipping with people that share your same interests.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, December 5, 2014

Great news from Germany

Flag of Germany.svg

In the I am not going to make my goal date post I explained that I would be scanning, reanalyzing, and entering all of my German documents.  One of my distant cousins in German has been hot on the trail of one of our brick walls (Glaentzer/Gläntzer).  In a nutshell, we are trying to tie three lines together and we have been talking about maybe using DNA. 

Yesterday my cousin notified me that she had received a packet of documents from one of the German archives.  She received 80 pages of parish registers and civil certificates.  I of course was doing the genealogy happy dance.  Well it only gets better.  Today she emailed me to tell me she found the connection between two of the lines!  She is compiling all the information and will be sending it to me on Sunday.  Two down, one to go!  

This weekend is dedicated to getting things finished on my end.  I will have two very full days.  Don’t forget, I am dealing with German documents which requires the extra step of figuring out what they actually say.  The German itself isn’t too much of problem for me but the old script is a definite challenge. 


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

FamilySearch photoduplication service

FamilySearch’s photoduplication service is being discontinued as of 05 December 2014.  This is very sad news because it was a great service that I took full advantage of. 

I received my very last document today and to add insult to injury the document didn’t help me at all.  I had asked for a death certificate of someone with the same name as the man I am looking for who was born and died about the right time.  After looking at the document I can see that this isn’t the right man.  Bummer. 

So how will I get my documents now?  There is a lady that pulls documents for me at the Family History Library  and she does a great job.  Even when I was using the photoduplication service she still pulled documents for me.  FamilySearch would only pull documents if you had very exact information.  The lady who pulls for me is also an accomplished researcher so if I don’t have the exact information she can usually find what I need.  Now she will get all of my business. 


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I am not going to make my goal date

I told you quite a long time ago that my goal was to get all of my paper documents scanned into the computer and attached in Legacy by December 31st.  It isn’t going to happen.  I have made A LOT of progress though and I am happy about that.  My biggest problem is going off on tangents when I am working.  I will see something interesting and then off I go.  Scanning is not fun so it is easy for me to be distracted. 

The wife of one of my German cousins died this week and another cousin sent me her funeral card.  This particular cousin has sent me tons of information over the years.  He is only one of two German relatives I have that do family research.  The death of his wife has prompted me to commit to at least getting the rest of my German documents scanned and reanalyzed by December 31st which is a decent chunk of my stack.  I will then be able to send him an updated file.

I started yesterday and I did manage to get some things entered.  I have to be careful about the tangent thing because the Köln Archives have put a lot of their civil birth, marriage and death certificates online.  I need to stay focused and make to-dos for all of the records searches I want to do instead of stopping what I am doing and doing the search right then.

I have been talking to one of my cousins (probable cousins) in Germany about DNA (yes, another tangent).  I am working on the Glaentzer/Gläntzer line.  This is a very rare surname.  We have two lines of Glaentzer and one line of Gläntzer and all three are most assuredly connected.  I do have males in all three lines I could test.  The problem is logistics.  I need to convince these three men to take a test which in itself might be a problem.  DNA testing isn’t well known in Germany and I not sure how they will feel about this.  I am having my mother take the test first so that she can explain to them that it is okay. Shipping won’t be too much of an issue.  Since I need yDNA I will be using FTDNA and they do ship internationally.  This won’t be until after the first of the year so I need to get back to scanning.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, December 1, 2014


I have toyed around with Evernote for some time now but I never took the time to learn what all it can do.  Thomas MacEntee, the expert when it comes to genealogy and technology, posted links to several free Evernote eBooks on Facebook (free for a limited time).  I snatched them and read them and I quickly realized I was missing out on a lot of cool features.  I also watched Lisa Louise Cook’s Legacy webinar, Using Evernote for Genealogy.  I posted a couple of questions on the Evernote Genealogists Facebook group page which gave me even more ideas.  I also want to say that the Evernote Knowledge Base is phenomenal.  I found step-by-step instructions with screenshots for anything I wanted to do.

I upgraded to the Premium version and spent the entire weekend getting Evernote into shape.  I transferred A LOT of my stuff into it including emails that I had saved in multiple folders in Outlook and all kinds of stuff that was hanging out in my My Documents folder.

The biggest mistake I had been making with Evernote is having too many notebooks and not enough tags.  I remedied that.  Here are my notebooks now:

  • Genealogy
  • Household
  • Work

I am down to just three notebooks.  My work is genealogy too but I wanted to keep it separate from my personal research.  If I am working a special project, I will make a temporary notebook for that so that I can share it with others if I need to.

I went through every note (deleting some obsolete ones) and got serious about adding tags to them.  Reviewing everything I had also refreshed my memory about what all I had in there.  I like how everything is coming together. 

I have saved emails to Evernote before.  There is a cute little elephant button you can click in Outlook to help you do that.  However, I wasn’t taking the time to send it to the correct notebook and to add the tags.  There is another way to do this that I like better.  Instead of clicking on the elephant icon I forward the email to Evernote.  I have a special Evernote email address that I use.  If I forward the email I can add a little note at the top with any additional information I want to include.  I can tell Evernote which notebook I want it in by adding @NAME OF NOTEBOOK to the subject line.  I can add tags by adding #NAME OF TAG, also to the subject line. I can add as many tags as I want.  If I do it this way I can put the email in a notebook, add the searching tags and include any notes all at one time.  You can also add a reminder date by adding !DATE to the subject line but I haven’t tried that yet. 

I also used the Merge feature to merge some notes together.  I had never done that before.  There were several related items that I was able to combine which helped clean up things. I already know how to use Web Clipper and Clearly but I want to investigate some of the other add on programs and extensions and that is on my agenda today.  My next project after that is to scan in all my business cards using my Droid.  I am pretty excited about this feature.

If you have any favorite Evernote tricks please post them in the comments.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, November 28, 2014

Legacy Black Friday Sale!

I told you I wasn’t going to post until Monday but this is a one day event I don’t want you to miss.  Legacy 8 is 50% off today only.

Legacy’s Black Friday Sale!


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving


Here is some information about Thanksgiving from the Library of Congress.  Nice to see that the Library of Congress cites their sources.

We won’t be having our family get together until Saturday so I will be working Thursday and Friday at my regular job (Legacy).  I will be off the blog until Monday.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The latest DNA comparisons

The autosomal DNA big three, FTDNA, 23andMe, and,  frequently tweak their algorithms for determining ethnic percentages as their DNA pools get larger.  I am listing my ethnic makeup from all three companies below.  One other thing you need to take into consideration is that each company has their own definition for geographic locations which do not match each other perfectly.  Each company has a map you can refer to.  Comparing maps will make the listed differences less different.


European 88%

  • British Isles 54%
  • Western and Central Europe 14%
  • Scandinavia 14%
  • Eastern Europe 0.6%

Middle Eastern 12%

  • Asia Minor 12%



European 99.9%

  • British and Irish 32.2%
  • French and German 28.1 %
  • Scandinavian 4.5 %
  • Broadly Northern European 25.4%
  • Eastern European 1.4 %
  • Broadly Southern European 0.9%
  • Broadly European 5.4 %

Oceanian 0.1%

Unassigned < 0.1%

Europe 95%

  • Great Britain 67%
  • Europe West 14%
  • Italy/Greece 3%
  • Scandinavia 3%
  • Ireland 3%
  • Iberian Peninsula 2%
  • Finland/Northwest Russia 2%
  • Europe East 1%

West Asia 5%

  • Caucasus 4%
  • Middle East 1%


Even though the three DNA results look different they do agree on one thing.  All of the stories I heard about my Native American heritage has been pretty much disproven which I detailed in Two more myths busted.

Here is an interesting comparison.  My DNA vs. my paternal uncle’s (my dad is deceased so my uncle took the test for me).  This is my DNA compared to his on FTDNA.


European 88%

  • British Isles 54%
  • Western and Central Europe 14%
  • Scandinavia 14%
  • Eastern Europe 0.6%

Middle Eastern 12%

  • Asia Minor 12%


My uncle:

European 100%

  • British Isles 43%
  • Scandinavia 33%
  • Southern Europe 23%
  • Eastern Europe 2%

I can now see what part of my percentages come from my mother’s side.  I still need to get her DNA tested. 


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Two more myths busted

Yesterday I talked about a photo myth concerning Silas Simmons and his wife Janet.  There is another myth concerning this couple.  This one is in two parts.

If you do a search on for Silas and Janet you will see several trees that have Silas married to Squerloque “Jenny” a supposed Indian.  So where did this information come from? 

The information originally came from me.  I have my grandfather’s Bible.  In this Bible it says:



To me the (Squerloque Miss) signifies a place not the girl’s name.  There are several errors in the Bible entries so any information is suspect anyway.  There is no Squerloque, Mississippi but it is possible it is a misspelled name.

HOWEVER, before I actually had the Bible in my possession I was told that the Bible said Silas married an Indian girl named Squerloque.  This was back in the 1990s.  I very stupidly added this information to my file.  I sent my file in to the Family History Library to become part of their Pedigree Resource File.  I also posted it on Rootsweb.  I made a serious rookie mistake.  I believed something without ever seeing it myself.  Because of what I did, MANY people copied what I had put online. Once I realized my mistake I corrected it and I sent emails to every person that I could giving them the correct information.  To this day there are people that have Squerloque “Jenny” in their file and I feel really bad about that.

So what do we know about Silas’ wife from the records?  There is only one known record that mentions her and that is the 1850 census.

Silas Simmons, age 56, farmer, born in SC
Janet Simmons, age 55, born in SC
Mary Simmons, age 27, born in MS
James Simmons, age 22, farmer, born in MS
John Simmons, age 19, farmer, born in MS
Liza Simmons, age 15, born in MS
Benjamin Simmons, age 13, born in MS
Elizabeth Simmons, age 9, born in MS
Thomas Simmons, age 7, born in MS

Her name was Janet and she was born about 1795 in South Carolina.  That’s it.  Where did the name Jenny come from?  No one can tell me.  Family members got together and put up a memorial maker for Silas and “Jenny.”  You can see the memorial HERE.  Not one person that attended that memorial service can tell me where they got the name Jenny. 

Myth 1 busted.  There was never a person named Squerloque “Jenny” Simmons.

Myth 2 is a bit more complicated.  Was Janet Native American?  I too fell into this trap for several reasons.  My grandfather’s Bible is just one.  You can see that he made two entries that Silas’ wife was an Indian and he specifically said Choctaw.  Notice that he also has another great-grandmother listed as a Choctaw.  This would have been Isaac Yates’ wife.  The only thing we know about Isaac Yates’ wife is that her name was Diannah/Anna and she was born about 1815.  Again, not much. 

In my own defense this wasn’t the only evidence I had.  In 1951 three of Silas’ descendants wrote letters  to get their cut from the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.  You can read about what was contained in those letters and why the letters were compelling HERE.  They never proved their claim.  I have never been able to prove any of this but I did believe that there was at least some truth to the story.  DNA testing blew this story completely apart.

I had my uncle do an autosomal DNA test with FTDNA.  Assuming my grandfather’s Bible was correct and Janet was a Choctaw Indian and Diannah was also a Choctaw Indian, what percentage of Native American should my uncle have?  It is time to do some math.

My uncle would have gotten 6.25% of his DNA from both Janet and Diannah for a total of 12.5%.  That is a significant amount, significant enough that even with all of the variables in DNA testing you should see Native American DNA on his autosomal DNA test.  Here are my uncle’s results.



I had already done my autosomal DNA and it showed no Native American ancestry but I thought maybe it was there and it just wasn’t enough to show up on the test.  That is why I tested my uncle because he is one generation closer giving him double what I have.  The double of zero is zero.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, November 24, 2014

More myth busting

James Tanner posted one of the best blog posts I have read in a long time.  Take a look at Moving Beyond Myths.  I am going to piggyback his post and present my own photo example.  

If you do a search on for Silas Simmons and his wife Janet you will see this picture on many trees.


Silas Simmons was born abt. 1794 in South Carolina.1  He died between 19 Feb 1856 when he appeared in court to defend his bounty land application and 18 August 1860 when his family was enumerated without him for the 1860 federal census.2  Silas’ wife Janet was born about 1795 in South Carolina and she too died before the 1860 census.3 

In the above photo how old does the man look?  Silas died between age 62 and 66.  Does the man in the above photo look that old?  Let’s say the man in the photo was 45 years old.  That would put the photo circa 1839.   I don’t think so.  The photo is all wrong for that time period. 

This photo is a copy from a cabinet card.  Cabinet cards were in use from the 1860s to the very early 20th century.  They peaked from 1880-1897. 

So who is the couple above?  This is a picture of Albert Graham and his wife Mary “Mittie” Grantham.  Silas Simmons is my 3rd great-grandfather and Albert Graham is my 2nd great-grandfather.  Albert’s daughter Corrine married Silas’ granddaughter James. 

Albert Graham was born in 1844 and died in 1917.4  His wife Mary was born in 1839 and died in 1926.5  So if Albert was 45 years old in the photo that would put the date of the photo as 1889 which makes a lot more sense. 

Here is the same couple.  This photo isn’t on… yet.  Someone will copy it from my blog and post it as their own I am sure. 


This photo would have been taken before Mittie died so let’s just say circa 1905.  That would put Albert at age 61 and Mary at age 66.

Did I mention that one of my cousins has the originals of both photos? They are clearly labeled “Albert and Mittie Graham” and we have the complete provenance of the photos. 

So is there a photograph of Silas Simmons?  Yes, there is. 


This is a copy of a Daguerreotype.  The photograph would have been taken circa 1850 when Silas was about 55 years old.   Daguerreotypes were in use from 1839 to around 1861 with their peak use from 1841-1856.  Another cousin has the original and she can trace its provenance. 

Tomorrow I am going to show you another myth in connection with Silas and Janet Simmons and this one is a doozy.  I believed a family tradition and thought I had enough evidence to back it up.  I was wrong.

1 1850 U.S. census, Perry County, Mississippi, population schedule, p. 384 (stamped), dwelling 185, family 185, Silas Simmons household; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 10 February 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 379.

2 Silas Simmons (Pvt., 10 and 20 Consolidated Louisiana Militia, War of 1812), bounty land warrant file 64098 (Act of 1850); Military Bounty Land Warrants and Related Papers; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15, National Archives, Washington, D.C. 1860 U.S. census, Perry County, Mississippi, population schedule, Southern District, p. 19 (penned), dwelling 127, family 117, Henry Dearman household; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 17 October 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 589. Silas and Janet Simmons’s younger children were living in the household of their oldest sister Elizabeth and her husband Henry Dearman. Silas and Janet are not found on the 1860 census.

3 1850 U.S. census, Perry County, Mississippi, pop. sch., p. 384 (stamped), dwell. 185, fam. 185, Silas Simmons household.

4 Mississippi State Department of Health, death certificate 07174 (1926), Albert G. Graham; Vital Records, Jackson.

5 Mississippi State Department of Health, death certificate 7592 (1917), Mary Richardson Graham; Vital Records, Jackson. 


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, November 21, 2014

More on contemporary compiled service records

In response to the blog post Vietnam era military records, Clare asks:

Where did you get the compiled service record for your dad? Did it cost much?  I'd like to get my husband’s.

Here is the link:

In the packet that I received they advised that the medals and ribbons would be coming directly from the Air Force.

Everything was completely free.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Vietnam era military records


Several people have asked me if you can get Vietnam era compiled service records.  The answer is no unless you are the veteran.  If the veteran is deceased then the surviving spouse or child can get the records.  When my dad died I was able to get his entire military service record.  The Air Force also sent all of my dad’s medals and ribbons which was a nice surprise. It was very much appreciated.  I got a real kick out of reading my dad’s yearly evaluations.  He had a bit of an attitude.  If you knew my dad you wouldn’t be a bit surprised that his commanding officers mentioned it a time or two. He had a hot temper and liked to get into fights.  He also didn’t like people telling him what to do.  Even so, he was good at his job and made it to the rank of Senior Master Sergeant by the time he retired.  Not bad considering he got busted a couple of time.

There is some Vietnam era (and Korean War) information that has been publically released such as causality lists, POW/MIA lists and lists of people who received military awards and honors.  Fold3 also has Navy Muster Rolls 1949-1971 which surprised me a bit since these most certainly contain names of living people.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Word lists


If you are doing research in other languages you will want to create a word list for that language. FamilySearch has wonderful genealogy word lists for most languages but these are not enough.  When you are actually looking at parish records or civil registry records there will be words that are idiosyncratic to that specific area of the country or even that specific parish or civil jurisdiction.   Certain ministers or civil clerks may use particular words and phrases over and over.  You need to make a note of these words so that you aren’t spending all of your time looking things up in a dictionary.  Be aware that Latin is commonly used in parish records so you will also need a word list for that.  Latin is much less flexible than the other languages so the printed word list from FamilySearch will likely be all you need. 

Screenshot from the FamilySearch Wiki


Here are a few of the word lists.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words

Michael John Neill wrote a great blog post this week, Pencil and Paper Sometimes Will DoI laughed when I saw his little chart because I do this all the time.  Whenever someone wants me to help them with a dilemma I have to draw out the family or it won’t make sense to me.  

The Columbia County [GA] Genealogical Society had a “Genealogy Road Show” not too long ago.  Two of the cases presented were a bit complicated and the best way to show the family structure was by using a diagram like this.  I fancied it up for the presentation using Popplet but the concept is the same.  Sometimes it just makes more sense if you can actual see it.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, November 17, 2014

An image of an index is still an index

There are some indexes on FamilySearch, and other websites that have images of the index attached. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if there is an image that it is automatically an image of an original document.  An image of an index record is still only an index.  Here are two examples, one from and one from FamilySearch.

Texas Birth Index (

birthScreenshot from

Even though this is an official index from the Texas Department of Health it is still an index and you would cite it as such.  You would not cite this the same way as you would cite a birth certificate.


California, San Diego Naturalization Index, 1868-1958 (on FamilySearch, linked to Fold3)

natScreenshot from Fold3

This is not the person’s naturalization papers.  This index will help you locate the naturalization papers but if you think that the information contained on this card is all there is then you are cheating yourself out of a lot of information.  The actual naturalization papers are a goldmine of information.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When things don’t make sense

In the blog post Sometimes you get disappointed (or not) I introduced you to three brothers that fought together in the same unit (10 and 20 Consolidated Louisiana Militia) during the War of 1812.  I made a passing statement that the men were from Mississippi so what were they doing in a Louisiana militia unit when the Mississippi Territory had its own militia.

When I received William, Silas and James Jr.’s compiled service records as well as Silas and James Jr.’s bounty land entry files from NARA I was a little perplexed.  I had all three men in the Mississippi Territory before the war.  Silas and James’ bounty land applications confirmed that they were definitely the correct men because their bounty land was in Perry and Copiah Counties in Mississippi and it was granted for their service during the War of 1812 in the Louisiana Militia.  So why would three brothers from Mississippi fight in a Louisiana unit especially considering that their home was nowhere near the Louisiana border?

When you have something that doesn’t make sense you need to investigate it further to see if you can find a logical answer.  My answer was in this book: 

Casey, Powell A. Louisiana in the War of 1812.  Baton Rouge, Louisiana: n.p., 1963.

Apparently there were several Mississippi militia units that merged with Louisiana ones during the war. Mississippi officers even took over command of Louisiana units.  Great information!  Now I have an explanation.  I still need to do some additional research because I would love to know which Mississippi militia unit the three men were originally attached to.  Right now all I know is that the three men were in the 10th regiment (Louisiana) under Captain Chance and then came together in the 10 and 20 Consolidated unit under Capt. Neasom.  If you read the previous post I was unsure of Captain Chance’s surname but after a bit of research into the names of the company it turns out it was Chance.  Too bad they didn’t use a typewriter to print out the compiled service record cards.

P. S.  Two of my daughters and I are off to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to spend the weekend Christmas shopping.  I won’t be back on the blog until Monday.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The funny thing about census and tax lists

I watch the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness - RAOGK USA Facebook page and someone posted a question about a 1820 Ashe County census that appeared to be alphabetized and it was throwing her for a loop.   After I explained some things to her she said that someone should do an article on this subject.  Ah, an opportunity.

Your Guide to the Federal Census for Genealogists, Researchers and Family Historians by Kathleen W. Hinckley is an excellent resource for all things census.  The information that the RAOGK poster needed is in Chapter 5.

For the 1790 through 1820 census TWO copies were made from the original to make a total of three.  One was sent to the federal district court and two were posted for public viewing so that they could be examined and corrections made.  Here is a quote directly from Kathleen’s book that give the RAOGK poster her answer.

“Some marshals also took it upon themselves not only to copy the record, but to rearrange the entries in alphabetical order—sometimes by the first letter of the surname and sometimes the first letter of [the] given name.  In most cases, the filmed version is not the true original but rather the second or third copy made after corrections were made by the citizens.”  [page 109]    

The same thing happened with tax lists.  After all the information was collected the lists would be recopied, sometimes in alphabetical order.  The good news is that it is usually easy to find someone on these lists, especially if the tax roll has not been indexed.  The bad news is that you have no idea who was living next to whom and in genealogy that is a very important piece of information to have.

Here is a screenshot from the 1812 Marion County, Mississippi Territorial Tax Roll as an example.  I am not including the entire page because it would be too small to read.  This is Page 1 showing the A’s and some of the B’s

tax"Mississippi, State Archives, Various Records, 1820-1951," index and images, FamilySearch (,212062301 : accessed 09 Nov 2014), Marion > Territorial tax rolls 1812, Box 140 > image 3 of 13; Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson.

So does the original exist?  Maybe, maybe not.  To find out you would need to check with the state archives and the local county courthouse for that county.  You might not find the original but you might find that both of the hand copied versions exist.  If so, you might want to compare them because the two copies could be different.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Legacy’s User ID field


I don’t feel as though I have done a complete job with an ancestor until I have found their final resting place.  Of course I won’t be able to find a burial location for everyone in my file, especially the farther back in time I go.  Even so, I do try.  Find A Grave is a resource that I use all of the time. 

Diane Gould Hall of Michigan Family Trails made a great suggestion on the Technology for Genealogy  Facebook page.  She uses Legacy’s User ID field to record the Find A Grave Memorial number.  I decided to take it a step further and use this field to record everything I need to know about Find A Grave.  Here are some screenshots of how I use the User ID field.


If I record a Find A Grave memorial number in the User ID field that means that not only does this person have a memorial, there is a photo AND I have permission to use the photo.  

fag 1


In the next screenshot I have a memorial number but it also says req. photo which means I have sent a request to have John’s marker photographed.  You can see that I don’t have much info on him so a marker photo would be very helpful.  I have his marriage record to his wife so I know his name and who he married (his wife is in my line).  I have an approximate birth date based on when he got married.  Someone has my John Green on Find A Grave but there is no photo so I have requested that one be taken. If you pull up the memorial for John you will see that the person included an obituary.  I can’t use that obituary for a couple of reasons.  It is not sourced and I have no way of knowing if the transcription is correct.  Notice the green box in the screenshot.  See the O next to the To-Do List icon?  That means I have an open task.  That task is tracking down the obituary.  I have sent a request to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for the obituary to be copied off of microfilm.

fag 2


In the next screenshot the word permission has been added.   This means that Cassie has a memorial and there is a photo but I am waiting for permission to use the photograph.  It is a copyright violation to download and use a Find A Grave photo without the consent of the photographer. Notice that I have all of the fields filled in and they are sourced.  That is because I have her death certificate.  I would still like a photograph of her marker.

Fag 3


Just to emphasize the importance of getting permission from the photographer here is a screenshot showing how I have downloaded a photo and attached it to my Legacy file.  I give credit to the photographer both on the photo and in the citation.

Fag 4

And here is the citation:

Find A Grave, digital images ( : accessed 01 November 2013), Kizzire Jenkins marker, Memorial #36842743, photograph by Belford Carver. 

I use Find A Grave as a source if and only if there is a photograph, never without.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, November 10, 2014

Official launch of The Surname Society


Today is the official public launch day for The Surname Society.  I have been involved with this project for quite some time and I have registered the following surnames:

Simmons, Weichert, Glaentzer, Feige, Bodenheim

I chose Simmons because it is my maiden name and because there is a DNA project page to go with it.  I chose the other four because these are my 4 maternal great-grandparent lines and they are fairly rare surnames (in Germany/Poland/Prussia) and doing a surname study on these is much more doable.

You might be familiar with the Guild of One-Name Studies.  This group has been around for a long time (since the 1970s).  So why do we need another group if there is already an established one? 

Both groups have their strengths.  The Guild has a long history with an established presence and excellent support.  The Surname Society comes in with a promise of modern ideas and tools. I think having two groups will make both groups stronger (a little friendly competition).

Here are some highlights from The Surname Society website:

“We launched this new society on 3rd November 2014 for those interested in single surname studies, offering members a fresh, worldwide, collaborative society that is modern, forward thinking and friendly. We do not prescribe how a surname study should be conducted, developed or managed, but we do offer advice and guidance and a whole lot more.

Membership of The Surname Society is just £5 (US $7.95 or €6.30) per year as we are predominantly an online society. We offer a first class service tailored to how the majority of researchers now do their research. Please explore the website and forum and see what we have to offer. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Join our Google+ community so you can participate in our online monthly meetings.

The Surname Society has many plans in the pipeline and we would like to hear your views and thoughts too! We have taken some ideas from the questionnaire responses but our ears are open to more (and offers of help to bring those concepts to fruition).”

Count me in.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, November 7, 2014

Another searching and tagging example

Several people want to see another example of how I use searching and tagging.  It just so happens I needed to tag some people in my file for a new database on FamilySearch.

FamilySearch now has indexed images of Georgia death certificates from 1928-1938.  The death certificates for 1914-1927 have been online for quite some time but now I have ten more years of certificates to play with.

First I have to search for anyone that died in the state of Georgia between 1928 and 1938.

ga 1


And here is my search list.  I have 28 people in my file that fit the criteria.

ga 2


Now I will click Options then Advanced Tagging and then I will be here.

ga 3


Now I will show you how I flip through people.

ga 4

At the bottom if you click the I:5 square you can change the tag you want to use. I: stands for Individual.  You will also see M: which is for the Marriage Tags.  I have it set to Individual Tag 5.  Now I can use the left and right arrow buttons to navigate through the list of tagged people that are tagged on Tag 5. Caroline Cornelia (Farmer) Dismuke is first on the list.  I have no problem finding her in the death certificate database.  Here is the index entry.

ga 5

And here is her actual death certificate.

Farmer, Caroline death certificate 1931

So what do I do now?

1) I download and save the document to my hard drive.
2) I attach this death certificate to Caroline’s death field and add a caption and date.
3) I create a source citation for this document on the Source Clipboard.
4) I extract all of the data from this document, add the information to my file,  and then source everything I added.
5) I untag Caroline from tag 5.
6) I click the right arrow and go to the next person. 

Easy peasy!


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Legacy: More on entering tasks in the To-Do List

I had several Legacy users email me about Yesterday’s Post wanting to see how I set up my To-Do tasks for the search I planned to do on Fold3.  Ask and ye shall receive.

The To-Do item has three tabs so I have screenshot each one.

Task 1

It only takes a minute to fill this stuff in.  The Category and Locality fields have auto fill.  I use the TAG to show which tasks I have started working on but haven’t been completed yet.  For example, if I have written off to a courthouse for a marriage record I will tag that task so that I know that I am waiting for something.  UNtagged tasks are ones that I plan to do in the future but I haven’t started on yet.  The Fold3 task I opened and closed on the same day so I didn’t have to worry about the tag and I also didn’t enter a reminder date.  Normally I do enter reminder dates.  How far in the future I put the reminder depends totally on what the task is.



Task 2

This is an example of an negative search.  Now I have a record that I searched the database and when I searched it.  Because of filtering (which I will talk about further down) if I ever want to look at what all I have done to find any military records for James I can filter his list to show me just the category Military Record.  I can see all positive and negative searches I have done as well as any searches I have entered that I still plan to do.

If I had found a record for James I would have said so and I would have attached a complete source citation.  If I had a filing system (paper or electronic) that I wanted to cross reference to I could enter a File ID number so that I could locate where the document is physically located. 



Task 3

You notice that I have included the repository information.  For a repository such as Fold3 this isn’t as critical but if this was a courthouse I would definitely want complete contact information including physical and mailing addresses, phone number, fax, email, URL etc.  There is also a notes tab where you can record things such as how much the documents cost to copy, do you have to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope, will they take email requests etc.  This is VERY handy information.  You only have to enter a repository once.  You can then just select it from a drop down list.  Even with websites like Fold3 I want to add the repository because I can then use the filtering/sorting feature to find all of the tasks I need to do at Fold3 so I don’t miss anything.


So what are the advantages of taking the time to do this for every single search I conduct on every single person and making sure I fill our every single field?  FILTERING.   The To-Do List’s filtering capability is a great research tool. 

Task 4

1 – You can search by keywords if you have your list sorted by task name (the sort will be shown on the next screenshot).

2 – You can see All To-Dos, Individual To-Dos, or General To-Dos (general ones are not tied to a specific individual).

3 – This is where you will see just your filtered list based on the options you select below.

4 – You can chose to see all categories or a specific category (such as Military Record that James had).  You will get a dropdown list.

5 – You can chose all localities or a specific one.  You will get a dropdown list.

6 – You can look at just your open tasks if you wish.  This is how I normally have mine filtered but I can look at the closed ones any time I want.

7 – I designate my tasks by type so that I can use this filter.

8 – I already explained how I used the Tag feature but you can use it any way you wish.

9 – I do set the priority on my tasks because there are some tasks that are definitely more urgent than others and that gives me another filtering option.

10 – If you highlight a task in the list, you can then go directly to that person.  Valentin’s task is highlight but I scrolled down a bit in the task list for the screenshot so you can’t see it.

After you change the filters to what you want, click Apply Filter and your list in the window will then be filtered to your preferences.


Here is the Sort tab.

Task 5

The Sort tab will put your tasks in a particular order.  I might want to sort with the Category first so that I can see all of the Military Record entries together, or, I might sort with Open Date first so I can see the tasks in date order and I can work on the oldest ones first.  You have three levels of sorting.  After you make your selections make sure you click Apply. 

Some other things you need to know.  You can copy and paste tags and there is a To-Do task clipboard just like there is for events.  If you know how to do this with events it works the same way with To-Dos.  Just look for the same icons you are used to using.

You can print out To-Do List Reports which is very handy.  For example, if you filter by a specific repository you can print just those tasks for that repository.  I do this all the time.  I go to several genealogical and university libraries in the area as well as the Georgia State Archives.  There are many options on the report menu so that you will get a printout of exactly what you want to see.  There is even an option to include a blank area for notes for each task. 

In Research Guidance, if you click the Plan to Search button a To-Do task will be automatically created for you and it will include all of the repository information.  This is a big timesaver.  All you need to do is go in and add a few notes to the Task Description and change any settings you want to change (priority for example).

Legacy’s To-Do List is an excellent Research Calendar/Log.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Bunny trails!

I am so bad about going off on tangents and that might be why I don’t get as much work done as I should.  A friend of mine sent me an email that said, “I am interested in the War with Mexico right now.  Have a possible lead on one of my grandfathers.  Any idea where to start?”  That was all it took.  I don’t have anyone in my file that fought in the Mexican American War… that I know of.  When I read the email I realized I hadn’t really looked at this records set.  I went to Fold3 to see what they have and they have a lot so off I go on a bunny trail.  I thought I had my day planned out but I was wrong.  This is just too good not to look at. 

So what is my strategy?   According to THIS CHART I need to be looking at males that were born between 1796 and 1831.  They also had to have died after 1848 (the end of the war).   In Legacy I tagged just my direct line and their spouses, siblings of my direct line and spouses of the siblings.  Since I only need to be concerned with my dad’s side of the family (my mother’s entire line is in Germany) I used my dad as the anchor for the tagging instead of me.  I tagged his ancestors on Tag 1.




I then did a tiered search.  I will have to do this TWICE because I have more than three parameters.

ss 1


After I create this search list I have to get my last parameter in.



I ended up with 25 men that could have fought in the Mexican American War.



Did I capture EVERYONE that could have served?  Probably not because I have people in my file that have approximate birth and death dates that might skew is.  I will say that this is one reason you want to always have at least an estimated birth and death date for everyone in your file so that it will be more likely they will be captured on searches like this.  You can use abt. bef. aft. bet. cal. est.

I would now tag just these men on a different tag. 



Now that these men are tagged, I can flip through them one at a time and check to see if they are on Fold3.  As I do this I will create a new To-Do task so that I will have a record of the search.  Why?  If Fold3 adds additional records later I will want to search again.  I need to know when I searched the records originally.  If the search produces something I can create a military service event with the details and then download the images and attach them to the event.  I can create a source using the SourceWriter Templates and attach the source to all of the relevant things I added.  If the search is negative, I would record that in the To-Do task.  When I create the source I will put the source on the Source Clipboard so that I can use it with everyone on the list, I will only need to change the details.

Here are some additional resources for the Mexican American War if you don’t have Fold3.

From FamilySearch:

United States Mexican War Index and Service Records, 1846-1848

United States Mexican War Pension Index, 1887-1926

U.S., American Volunteer Soldiers, Mexican War, 1845-1848
Record of the services of Illinois soldiers in the Black Hawk War, 1831-32, and in the Mexican War, 1846-8

If y’all know of anymore online sites for Mexican American War records post them in the comments.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sometimes you get disappointed (or not)

I have copies of the compiled service records for three brothers that fought in the War of 1812.  When I wrote off for the records I was pretty excited hoping to find some really cool gems.  Initially the documents look a tad disappointing but there is still information to be gleaned.

Here are the records:




So what can I actually glean from these records.  I have also added some questions that I start asking as I go through these records.


  • William was in the 10 and 20 Consolidated Louisiana Militia.  He is listed as being in Captain Thomas Neasom’s Consolidated Company, 10th Regiment, Louisiana Militia. This unit apparently merged with the 20th at some point.  I need to research the history of this company for a couple of reasons.  The most obvious reason is why was a man from Mississippi in a Louisiana unit?  (You didn’t know he was from Mississippi but he was).  I actually know that answer to that but I will save that for another blog post.  I would also like to see a timeline of what action this unit saw so that I will know what sort of service William had.
  • Assuming he was at least 16 years of age, he would be born before 1799.
  • He died after 11 Feb 1815.
  • He was a private.  Since these rolls are dated close to the end of the war he probably wasn’t promoted and was discharged as a private.
  • He joined this company on 25 Dec 1814.  Odd day.  
  • He transferred in from Captain U. Chaun’s [ Chanu’s, Chavis’ ? spelling]  company, 10th Regiment.  Again, I need to do some research on this unit.  This means that he was actually in the Militia prior to 25 Dec 1814. 
  • He served until at least 11 Feb 1815.  The war officially ended on 18 Feb 1815 so this too is interesting.


  • Silas also joined this unit on 25 Dec 1814.  There is another name given that is associated with this unit, Lieutenant Colonel William Willis.  Silas was also transferred in from Captain U. Chaun’s [Chanu’s, Chavis’ ? spelling] company.
  • Assuming he was at least 16 years of age, he would be born before 1799.
  • He died after 22 Mar 1815.
  • He was being paid 8 dollars a month for his service.  Not earthshattering but interesting nonetheless. 
  • He was a private and most likely was discharged as a private.
  • His muster roll specifically states “New Orleans.”   Could he have been at the famous Battle of New Orleans?  The Battle of New Orleans was fought from 23 Dec 1814 until 08 Jan 1815.  Since he was attached to this unit on the 25th of December it looks like his unit was brought in for reinforcements.  He was in fact there.  His bounty land application specifically mentions the Battle of New Orleans.
  • His muster roll and payroll are for 25 Dec 1814 through 22 Mar 1815 which is after the war.  Interesting.  Cleanup duty maybe?


  • His records mirror Silas’

I now want to find the history of the 10 and 20 Consolidated Louisiana Militia as well as the 10th Regiment Louisiana Militia.  I want to do a little research on the three commanding officers mentioned.  I also need to research Mississippi units that merged into Louisiana ones.  I would like to know if these three transferred in from a Mississippi unit originally. 

These records along with Bible records, tax rolls and territorial census records come together to show that these three men were in fact brothers.  In the Testing Your Lineage post I talked about not relying on a single piece of evidence.  I thought I would give this as an extra example to you.  It would be easy to say that these three were brothers because they had the same surname, they were in the same militia unit and they joined that militia unit on the same day.  However, without other evidence you could not make that assertion.  Why?  Because one of them could have been a father or an uncle or a cousin to the others.  It is even possible that none of them were brothers and that they weren’t related at all.  Don’t fall into that trap.

Even when you get a document that doesn’t seem like it has much pertinent information you can always squeeze a little out of it.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis