Friday, February 28, 2014

Which photo?


This happens to be one of my most favorite photos of myself.  It was taken circa early 1964 in Germany.  Some other genealogists and I were playing around on Facebook yesterday with old photos and a question popped into my head.

Which picture do you display in your genealogy database program when you have several of a person?  Let use my grandfather Houston Simmons as an example.  I have quite a few pictures of him from when he was a young man all the way up to right before he died.  I can put all of the these photos in Legacy but on things like pedigree charts only the preferred photo will print.  How do you decide which photo to use?  If you only have one photo then this of course isn’t a problem.

This is similar to the “argument” about which photo should be used in a newspaper obituary.  Should the family post an photo showing their loved one in their prime or a current photo showing them how they actually looked?  The people that know the deceased would of course be more apt to recognize the current photo but wouldn’t they be curious to know what the person looked like when they were younger?

Yet another genealogical conundrum. 


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jacob Bodenheim, oh my!

Jacob Bodenheim (born about 1805 in Prussia)  is my 3rd great-grandfather.  He was married two times (possibly three).  Here is what I have so far and you should immediately see my problem.

Jacob and Agnes Küchen married about 1833, all children born in Ollheim
Anna Sibilla born 11 Jan 1834
Agnes born 04 Feb 1835
Anna born 09 Sep 1836
Heinrich born 09 Aug 1839
Anna Maria born 23 Sep 1840
Jacob born 30 Aug 1842
Wilhelm born 20 Jul 1844
Valentin born 08 Jun 1848

Jacob and Anna Maria Krümmel married 03 Dec 1851 in Ollheim, all children born in Ollheim
Theodor born abt 1852
Magdalena born abt 1854
Anna born abt 1856
Mathias Joseph born 31 Aug 1858

The above two I am pretty sure are the same Jacob.  Notice the multiple Annas.  All of these names and birth dates from from church birth registers and are all definitely different children.  One possibility is that several of these children died so they reused the names.  Death registers would be helpful in this case (still looking for those).  Right now I am working off of indexes.  The actual records have been ordered and I am hoping that they will yield more info.  You can see that I don’t have exact birth dates for several of the children.  The indexes don’t have the full information.

Now it gets even more convoluted.  I have a copy of my 2nd great-grandfather’s civil birth record (not one of the church records).  He is Valentin Bodenheim, the youngest of Agnes’ children.  This civil birth registration states that his father Jacob was 43 years old at the time of Valentin’s birth putting his date of birth at about 1805.   That means that Jacob was already 28 when he married Agnes.  Could there be another marriage? 

In neighboring Friesheim there is

Jacob Bodenheim and Anna Magdalena Brenner married about 1825, all children born in Friesheim
Anna Sophia born 02 Jan 1826
Anna Catharina born 03 Feb 1828
Gerhard born about 1830
Gertrud born about 1830 (twins?)
Peter born about 1832
Johann born about 1833

Then the children stop.  They stop just in time for Jacob to marry Agnes.

This is the current dilemma I am working on.  I am going to need a ton of records to sort this one out but lucky for me some of the records I need are on microfilm at the Family History Library.  I have a total of six children name Anna.  Ouch.  In a perfect world I would be able to get birth, marriage and death records on everyone listed but I am sure that isn’t going to happen, however, the more records that I can find the better my family will come together.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


The lab received my DNA sample on 10 Jul 2013.  I received my results on 11 Feb 2014.  Seven months and one day, oh my. 

My haplogroup is U4d which is 100% German.  It means my female ancestors have been in the same part of central Europe since antiquity.  I only have two matches and neither is an exact match.  That is probably a good thing.  I know that most people get a gazillion matches which is harder to deal with.  I did the mtFullSequence test which to about 5 generations with 50% accuracy.  To get up to 95% accuracy you are are 22 generations.  This is as close as you can get with mtDNA.

Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


One big thing I leaned from Randy Whited’s RootsTech 2014 Lecture, A Beginner’s Guide to Going Paperless, was to add my complete source citation as metadata to my image files.  To do this all you have to do is right click the image, go to Properties then click on the Details tab.  You have several metadata fields, Title, Subject, Rating, Tags and Comments.  Just click on the field that you want to use and a box will come up where you can type.  I just copy and paste my citation into the Comments field.  For now I am opting to leave the other fields blank.  If you want to know WHY this is a good idea, watch Randy’s lecture.



Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, February 24, 2014

Newspaper question

Rob asks:

When sourcing a print newspaper, and the masthead of the newspaper includes the word "The" (i.e. The Ottawa Citizen), do I include the "The" in my source citation (i.e. The Ottawa Citizen, 20 Dec 1988, p. 28, col. 1.), or not (i.e. Ottawa Citizen, 20 Dec 1988, p. 28, col. 1)?

Is there any difference for newspapers found online?


I always use the name just as it is on the newspaper itself.  Here are two examples:

"Ernest Lee Lewis dies at Martinez," The Augusta Chronicle, 22 February 1946, p. 5, col. 3; digital images, GenealogyBank ( : accessed 05 October 2013). 

"Births," Hattiesburg American, 11 August 1971, p. 29, col. 4; digital images, NewspaperArchive ( : accessed 04 October 2013). 

I use the same rule no matter if it is a print paper or an online paper. 


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Off the blog

I need to be off the blog for a couple of weeks.  I have some big genealogy projects due and not enough time to complete them.  If I could only figure out how to function on 2 hours of sleep a night I think I would have enough time to do everything.  I am anticipating being back on by 24 Feb 2014.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, February 7, 2014

And the contest winner is…

Judy Schriver from the Columbia County Genealogical Society who guessed 322.  The actually number is 315 so she was only 7 off!  IMPRESSIVE!  Second place goes to Teresa Ghee Elliott from the Organized Genealogists Facebook page with 302 (13 off).   For those that missed it, I asked people to guess how many death certificates I have in my possession.  I had finally scanned them all into the computer.

I can’t believe how many guesses came in!  I had to compile everything on a spreadsheet.

Honorable Mentions go to:

  • Randy Seaver via the blog, First person to guess (101)
  • Sara Cochran from the Organized Genealogists Facebook Page, highest guess (3004).  Really?  Believe it or not, I actually do have a life outside of genealogy. There was an entire herd of people that guessed over 1000.  Jeepers!  I thought 315 was a lot!
  • Fred via email, lowest guess (12).  Twelve death certificates in 23 years?  I wanted to also mention Deb Canuk via the Organized Genealogists Facebook Page who guessed “more than 12.”  She beat Fred but that is about it. 

Maybe we will do this again when I have all of my marriage licenses/certificates scanned.  So far I have only done 20 so it might be awhile.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The new Genealogy Standards Manual

I bought the BCG Standards Manual in 2000 when it was first published.  I refer to it all the time so it is pretty much falling apart.  I was pretty happy when I heard that the BCG was publishing a new edition.  I ordered it and my new book came in the mail yesterday.  I was a bit surprised when I saw it because it is much smaller than the old version.    The information is organized well making it easy to go through the standards one at a time but it doesn’t include any examples like the old book did.  I like the smaller format because it is easier to flip through but I do miss those examples.

I am assuming that the BCG will be putting out a new Rubrics to go along with the new book.  The standard numbers don’t match.  Here are the Old Rubrics.  You can use the rubrics to compare your work with how BCG applicants are judged.

Even if you have no interest in becoming certified, the Standards Manual and the Rubrics will help bring your research up to the next level.  I recommend that you get the new manual. 


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I happen to like FamilySearch’s Family Tree.  I think it has a lot of potential.  FS has already made some major improvements and think there will be more to come.  You can add sources, photographs, comments and discussions to anyone on the tree.  You can interface directly with Family Tree through your genealogy database program if you are using one of the three LDS approved ones. Given time I think Family Tree will become a useful resource. 

However, since this is a community project, it is important that you know how to do all of the different functions correctly such as adding, merging and splitting people so that you don’t end up making more work for others when you don’t do things the right way.

FamilySearch has put out a great set of online courses, training videos and manuals that explain everything.  If you are using one of the software programs that interfaces, make sure you consult the program’s help file and knowledge base so that you will know how to use your software correctly.

FamilySearch Training for Family Tree


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

RootsTech 2014

If you can’t be in Salt Lake City on February 6-8 for RootsTech 2014, you can still attend by taking advantage of their FREE streaming live broadcasts. Not all of the sessions will be available but a nice selection of them will be.  Here is the official list of the ones that will be available to watch.

Broadcast Schedule

All you will need to do is bring up the RootsTech Home Page and links to the live broadcasts will be available starting on the 6th.  RootsTech is all about technology and how it applies to genealogy.  This is a great way to keep up with what is going on out there because I am sure you know that technology changes very fast.  I am planning to watch:

  • FamilySearch Family Tree: What's New and What's Next by Ron Tanner
  • Finding Family and Ancestors Outside the USA with New Technologies by Daniel Horowitz
  • Information Overload: Managing Online Searches and Their Results by D. Josh Taylor
  • A Beginner’s Guide to Going Paperless by Randy Whited

Can’t wait!


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, February 3, 2014


I love newspapers.  They are definitely one of my favorite sources.  Tom Kemp from GenealogyBank has done several webinars for Legacy on how to use newspapers in your research and he has another one coming up on February 12, 2014, Family Stories:  Using Newspapers to Reconnect with the Stories of Your Family’s Past.  Even though Tom uses GenealogyBank for his examples, the principles work no matter how you are accessing old newspapers.

This webinar is free.  You can see all of the past webinars that Tom has done HERE.  They are all free.

Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What I wish I knew then

Someone on The Organized Genealogist Facebook Group said that they were putting together a symposium presentation on what seasoned genealogist wished they had known when they first started out.  I thought that would be a great subject for a blog post.  I am going to give you my personal top ten list (not in any particular order).

  • Sourcing EVERY fact.
  • Keeping a research log.
  • Keeping a correspondence log.
  • Recording negative searches (part of the research log).  I have looked at the same book twice many times.
  • Scanning/transcribing/evaluating each piece of evidence as soon as it comes in instead of letting stuff pile up.
  • Keeping everything organized.  Having a consistent system so that you can find anything that you need to lay you hands on in a matter of seconds.
  • Backing up data files frequently (I lost a lot of data once).
  • Taking advantage of continuing education opportunities.
  • Networking with other genealogists/joining genealogical societies.
  • Interview relatives before it is too late.

Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments for others to read.

Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A little contest

I finally finished scanning all of my death certificates.  It took a long time because not only did I scan them, I also reentered every single piece of information on them to make sure that I didn’t miss anything the first time around.  I have 23 years worth of death certificates.  So here is the question, how many death certificates do you think I have?  I only counted true death certificates.  I was actually scanning all the death records I have which also includes funeral cards and old newspaper clippings but I didn’t count those.

The person who guesses the closest to the actual number will get a prize.  The prize is, I will tell everyone that reads the blog how smart you are.  I will take guesses either as a comment on the blog, on Facebook or by email.  I will close the contest on Friday, 07 Feb 2014. 

The next records set I am going to tackle are my marriage records.  I have a lot of those too but they contain less information so they will be quicker to enter.

Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis