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